As the members of the cavalcade were setting up
camp for the nightpitching the tents, under Haldirs direction,
within a protective ring of carts and wagonsEowyn sought
out Master Wystan, an elderly healer with great knowledge of local
You must have heard, sir, she said, sitting down
beside the old man and his wolfhound, what our scouts have
found. She patted the dogs head.
Indeed I have, my Lady, replied Wystan. He pulled
a piece of dried meat from his pocket and, no longer able to see
his friend, simply held out his hand and let the dog eat from
his palm. Who could have done such a thing?
You cannot tell me?
The old man frowned. I do not understand, my Lady.
Eowyn sighed. I hoped
that you might have come across it beforethat it might be
a charm, or something
Not in Rohan, my Lady, said Wystan. Not that
I have ever heard.
Does it remind you of anything, sir? she persisted.
Have you ever heard of anything like itof any tale
that talks of something similar?
The old man frowned, absently patting his dog. No tale,
my Lady, butbut, I suppose it does remind me of the creature
in your husbands dreamthe wolfmarking his territory.
Eowyn nodded. Yes, she said, quietly, that
is exactly what I was thinking.
Though a wolf, of course, uses its own water. Beasts do
not waste their prey.
They sat in silence. Then the old man turned his sightless eyes
upon Eowyn, his face suddenly animated. A wolf, he
said, marks the entire boundary of his territory.
So there may be more corpses hanging in the Forest.
Eowyn sighed. Thank you, Master Wystan, she said,
rising to her feet, I will leave you to your rest
Wait, my Lady! The old man reached out and clumsily
caught her hand. Remember, he said, that a wolf
seldom hunts alone.
Sick bastards, said Thorkell bogsveigir.
You have never heard of anything like it? In Mirkwood?
Or around Dol Guldur? Not amongst the men who followed Sauron?
Never. The Beorning looked at her, shrewdly. What do
you intend to do? Your husband, he added, when Eowyn seemed
surprised by his question, asked me to take care of you.
He did not!
Yes, he did. With your local knowledge, Master Bowswayer,he
affected a high voice that sounded enough like Legolas to make
Eowyn simultaneously amused and annoyedI expect you
to give my Lady the benefit of your advice.
Ask him if you do not believe me.
Eowyn shook her head. Oh, I am sure that he said something
to you, though I doubt that the benefit of your advice
ever came into it. Of course, she added, this phantom
order is the one that you intend to follow.
To the letter, said Thorkell. What do you intend
Stay here, said Eowyn, where the terrain is
flat and open and, if anyone comes, we will see them coming. We
shall stay here until Legolas and the others arrive. Does that
meet with your approval?
By the time Eowyn reached the mess tent, having first inspected
the improvised defences, and then walked through the camp, reassuring
her anxious charges, she was exhausted. Haldir pulled out a folding
chair and she collapsed into it.
Not just now, said the March Warden, fending off
a group of servants hovering nearby. Your lady needs to
But sir, said one of the women, beckoning him closer,
this is urgent. Little Hob
Hobbie, the bakers son? said Eowyn, suddenly
alert. What about him?
Hes disappeared, my Ladyvanished. And Averell
overheard him asking those two elves all aboutwell, all
about the dead bodyso shes convinced that hes
gone to see it for himself.
Haldir sworefortunately in Elvish. You have searched
Every square inch, Master Haldir. Every tent, cart and
wagon. He is not here.
No footprints on the bank.
Tell Averell to have courage, said Eowyn, already
on her feet. We will find him.
Minutes later, Haldir had assembled ten volunteers, including
the elves Belegorn and Celeblas. We will be equipped with
flaming torches, said Eowyn. Belegorn tells me that
the trail is clear for all to see. I want you to search the Forest
immediately to the left and right of it, working in pairsno
one is to stray too far from the rest.
I know that you do not want to hear this, said the
March Warden, quietly, as the search party was preparing to leave,
but I am going to say it anyway: stay here.
Haldir, hissed Eowyn, in exasperation, no!
Legolas left the cavalcade in my care.
Which is precisely why you should not be taking any risks.
No, it is precisely why I have to take risks,
she countered. I cannot stay behindhow could I face
these peoplegive them orders, decide their fateafter
proving myself a coward? I must take risks, Haldir, andoh,
no! She ducked past the March Warden and stalked
towards Thorkell bogsveigir, who was limping towards her, carrying
his bow. What are you doing?
What your elf told me to do: keeping an eye on you.
Thorkell! You can hardly stand! And you certainly cannot
use a weapon. Noand that, she added, guiding
him into the mess tent and forcing him to sit down, really
is an orderlook at youyou are sweating just from walking!
At least wait until dawn, said the Beorning, wearily.
I would if I could, believe me. But there is a little boy
wandering somewhere in the Forest, Master Bowswayer, and we must
find him quickly. A healthy dog will not harm a puppy she
added, quietly, but a mad dog has no such scruples.