I feel so guilty, said Eowyn. She sighed,
fingering the little hunting horn lying upon her breast. I
should not have taken it.
But he insisted, melmenya, said Legolas, remembering
how the ungainly little toddler had run after them, and pressed
the horn into Eowyns hand. It would have been cruel to
refuse him again.
They had been travelling for almost two hoursEowyn riding
on Brightstar, Legolas walking beside herfollowing Haldir
along the meandering Forest trail, which the Lórien elves
had decided was the best route along which to drag the wagon they
had managed to rescue.
But I wonder why
He did not want it, melmenya. He had his beloved Horsie
back. And who better to give it to than the Lady who rescued Horsie?
Hmm, said Eowyn, I suppose that makes sense
And, I must admit, melmenya, that I am grateful to him.
I only wish that you had had it when the gaur cornered you.
Eowyn ducked beneath a low branch. What I was actually
going to say, Lassui, was, I wonder why Thorkell
had it with him, up in the trees?
Legolas frowned. When he had ordered the travellers to climb
onto the flets, he had forbidden them to take any personal possessions.
Perhaps he was already wearing it.
Eowyn touched the horn again But why? It is a childs
Legolas laughed. I have given up trying to understand Master
Bowswayers antics, melmenya.
Well I wonder, said Eowyn, if it has
anything to do with that strange business with his father.
The trail had been rising gently since they had left the river
bank, but now the ground sloped sharply, and Eowyn dismounted
and, leading Brightstar, climbed carefully up the rocky path until
she reached the summit, and emerged from the trees, and caught
her first glimpse of Caras Galadhon.
She stood for a few moments, gazing out
over the broad depression to the circular grove of tall, gold-leafed
mallorns, threaded with silvery walkways, that shone in the afternoon
sun. Then, with Legolas at her side, she followed the others down
into the hollow. It cannot compare, she whispered,
with Eryn Carantaur.
Legolas squeezed her hand. Because Eryn Carantaur is your
home, melmenya, he replied, smiling.
They approached the city from the north east and continued westwards,
along the deep, defensive fosse, until they found the stone path
that joined the Cerin Amroth road with the Great Gates at the
The going was slower, then, for the way was overgrown, and many
of the paving stones, dislodged by the new growth, were loose
Eowyn, guiding Brightstar along the grassy margin, studied the
fosse and the strange green wall beyond it. There are places,
she said to Legolas, where we could cross the moat, even
with the wagon, and push our way through the hedge.
I know, melmenya, replied Legolas, softly, but
that would be disrespectful.
Eowyn frowned; then, glancing ahead, she saw Haldir leading the
column, and Gimli walking beside him, and she understood what
With the sun setting at their backs, they crossed the bridge
and passed down the deep lanewhich, in former times, had
served as a barbican, shielding the approach to the cityand
entered through the Great Gates.
We will camp here tonight, said Legolas, and
begin the search at first light.
Eowyn dismounted, and set Brightstar free to graze and, whilst
the others were making themselves comfortable, she wandered between
the mallornsgazing up through the foliagetracing the
empty flets from tree to tree. The buildings seemed to float among
the branches like mistletoe on oaks, with long, slender columns
that reached down like roots, and she could well imagine how magical
they must have seemed when glowing with candlelight, butto
herthere was something strange about themand something
Are you any more impressed, melmenya? asked Legolas,
coming up beside her.
It,she shruggedit is barren.
Abandoned, he corrected.
Nono, it is not just that, Lassui. It is beautiful,
yes, I will admitand imposingbut it is not welcoming.
And I do not believe it was ever vital, like Eryn Carantaur.
The elves who built it were ancient, Eowyn nín; they had
erred, and had suffered for it, and they were exiled here
You are an elf, she interrupted, yet
you have built something that lives; something that grows; something
that does not say, Elven. Keep Out.
I built Eryn Carantaur for you, my darling,gently,
he took her hands, and raised them to his lipsin the
hope thatone dayyou would share it with me. That is
why it seems to welcome you.
Then the ancient writers were wrong, said Eowyn,
firmly, because the love between an elf and a woman has
We will gather here, at the Gates, at midday, said
Legolas, to report our findings, to decide what we will
salvage, and to work out how to move it.
They had risen before dawn and eaten their simple rations, andas
the weak sunlight began filtering through the treesthey
packed up their belongings and set off in three separate groups:
Gimlis, to search the Hythe; Haldirs, to search the
galadhrim flets; and Legolas and Eowyns, to search the home
of the Lord and Lady of Lothlórien.
The citys main thoroughfarea simple path through
the mallorn roots, paved in places with polished stones, that
reminded Eowyn of the rose gardens at Eryn Carantaurtook
them gradually northwards, following the natural contours of the
hill, then curved back upon itself, and approached the crest.
Eowyn looked up at the cluster of flets. How will we know
which one was theirs? she asked.
Legolas smiled. We will know, melmenya.
The path ended at a circular clearing, filled with soft, green
turf but littered with fallen leaves. The trees are unwell,
They mourn, said Legolas. This is the Lawn,
melmenya,he approached the foot of the central treebeneath
the house of Celeborn and Galadriel; this is where the Fellowship
stayed, in the pavilion they bade their warriors build for us.
He opened the gates to the staircase that spiralled up the trunk.
There were guards stationed hereancient elves, like
The stairs were roofed with exquisite pointed arches, like interwoven
branches, that sprang from the carved steps. He took her by the
hand, and they began to climb; the rest of their search party
followed close behind.
You are in awe of this place.
I am a Silvan elf, melmenya. A simple, country cousin to
the ones who built all this.
No, said Eowyn, vehemently, and pride shone
in her eyes. You are the Lord of Eryn Carantaur, the prince
of all the elves who have stayed behind, the founder of a city
that promotes peace and goodwill between elves, and dwarves and
They climbed higher, passing clusters of flets branching out
from the massive trunk. At each level, Legolas sent out pairs
of men to search the buildings: You are looking for weapons,
he told them, warm clothing, blankets, and anything edible.
What about silver, my Lord? asked one of the men.
In case we meet with any more werewolves.
Yes. Good thinking.
By the time they reached the top, Legolas and Eowyn were alone.
This is the entrance to the famous Chamber of Celeborn,
melmenya, said Legolas, leading her across the leaf-shaped
platform. The last time I stood here, it was as part of
the Fellowship. We had just lost Gandalf
He fell silent.
Lassui? She grasped his hand. What is it?
I blamed Gimli, replied Legolas, softly. I
did not consider that he had lost his kinhad found their
lifeless hröar in the mines of MoriaI blamed him, for
Gandalfs decision to travel underground, and for my own
Eowyn squeezed his hand. That
is all behind you, my darling. And you are are his kin
Yes. She smiled up at him, tears filling her eyes.
Yes, Lassui. Then, gently, she urged him to
look about the chamber. Where do we go?
Legolas nodded towards a shallow flight of stairs leading up
amongst the branches. Galadriel and Celeborn descended those
steps, he said. Their private apartments must be up
She squeezed his hand again. Are you ready?
They climbed slowly, Legolas recalling the moment when Galadriel
had, one by one, entered the hearts of the Fellowship and tested
their resolve, Eowyn acutely aware that she was trespassing in
the private domain of two of Middle Earths most powerful
Would the Lord and Lady begrudge us their help? she
Oh, no, melmenya. No. Though the elves of Lothlórien
seldom interfered in the affairs of men, they were always aware
of them, and I think that, had the Lady been here, she would have
given us her aid even before we asked for it.
They passed through another elegant archway, and entered a lofty
apartment, suspended between the trees great branches, filling
the spaces like a spray of leaves; they crossed its winding floor,
and passed into another chamber, similar in size to the first,
but furnished in more feminine taste.
They slept apart, said Eowyn.
They had been married for many years.
Well, I shall tell you now, Legolas, that no matter how
many years you and I are married, you will never have your own
Smiling, Legolas pulled her close, and kissed her temple.
This one, she said, must have been hers
Legolas released her and, whilst he examined the row of wooden
chests standing along one of the curving walls, she bent over
the couch, and ran her fingers over its silken cover. Everything
is in place. It is as though she still lived here
That quilt will be warm, melmenya, said Legolas.
We will take it, and any other bed clothes you can find.
He opened the first of the chests, releasing a cloud of delicate
perfume. Inside, gowns and mantles of the most exquisite fabricssilvery
silk and pale gold velvet, and the softest white woollay
Perhaps we should take these, too, said Legolas.
Eowyn joined him. Our people would glitter in the sunlight.
Grey galadhrim cloaks would certainly serve us better,
he admitted, if Haldir can find them. If not, these will
have to do.
Lassui! cried Eowyn, scandalised. Then, Imagine,
she said, thoughtfully, how Averell, or how Cuthberts
mother, would treasure something like this. She lifted a
silken gown from the chest, and held it against her body.
Try it on, said Legolas.
Lassui! she said again, laughing.
But whether it was the strange, timelessness of the place that
had affected them, or whether the opportunity to spend a few quiet
moments together had seduced them, their sense of urgency seemed
to have vanished.
I will help you, said Legolas. He sat her down on
the bed, and pulled off her boots; she slipped out of her tunic
and leggings; he draped the gown over her shoulders; she turned,
and he laced it up the back. There
Eowyn rose, stretching out her arms and took a few steps. The
weight of the beaded bodice made her feel regal, but the sheerness
of the fabric floating about her limbs made her feel like a sprite.
She stood before the looking glass and smiled at her own reflection.
Her face was smeared with two days grime and her hair was
tangled in a thousand elf locks, but the white gown seemed to
turn her every imperfection into beauty.
You look, said Legolasand Eowyn heard a catch
in his voicelike an earthbound star.
She coloured deeply. Well
We should get on now.
They quickly searched the rest of Galadriels chamber, then
returned to Celeborns and searched that; then they ransacked
the servants quarters, gathering up the most practical of
the clothing and the warmest of the bedding, and taking it back
to the top of the staircase, where they arranged it in piles.
We will have to lower it on ropes, said Legolas,
thoughtfully. I will go down to the next level and see what
the others have found; you,he grinnedhad
better change back into your leggings.
Unlace me, said Eowyn. She turned her back, and let
him loosen her bodice.
Thank you. I will meet you downstairs. She sauntered
back to Galadriels chambersslipping out of the gown
as she wentand, as she passed the looking glass, she caught
another glimpse of herself in the mirror.
Still fully dressed!
She frowned, stepped back, and stared at the reflection.
A face that was not her own was staring back!
Her hands flew to her facethe reflection did not move;
she tried to call for Legolas
Do not be afraid, Eowyn, daughter of Eomund,
said a deep, feminine voice that seemed to float upon the air.
You have good reason to be proud of your husband-to-be.
But his achievement hangs upon a thread, and its future rests
upon a choice that you will make. You are soon to
Galadriel? whispered Eowyn.
Think carefully upon what I have said.
The reflection rippled, and Eowyn saw herselfhalf-naked,
dirty, and tousledbefore the world turned white, and the
floor spun away from her.