The quiet commotion drew Legolas out of reverie.
Eowyn was still asleep. Taking care not to wake her, he disentangled
himself and crawled out of the hut.
To the north of the camp, just beyond the mess tent, Haldirs
lookouts had detained three ridersBeornings, to judge
by those horses, thought Legolas. They have probably strayed
from the trail, looking for the river, and come upon us
The March Warden was already approaching them.
There is no need for me to get involved. He would go back
to Eowyns bed.
Smiling at the thought of his beloveds warm, soft body
in his arms, Legolas gave the riders a final glance before he
turned awayand one of the men caught his eye.
He stopped, and looked more closely.
The manfrom his build, really no more than a youthwas
wearing a dark mantle with the hood raised, so that his face was
hidden from view, but something about the way he was sitting his
Legolas went closer.
I bear an urgent message, the first rider was telling
Haldir, for Thorkell bogsveigir.
That man again! I thought, said Legolas, that
your Chieftain had disowned Master Bowswayer.
The Beorning, who also seemed familiar, bowed with genuine respect.
This is a family matter, your Highness.
And it took three riders to deliver it? asked Haldir,
Is that a trick of the shadows, Legolas wondered, or
does he look uneasy? But there was no trace of dishonesty
in the messengers voice when he replied, There are
reports of Orcs in these parts, your Highness. It is unwise to
It seemed a reasonable explanation. Valandil, said
Legolas, rouse Thorkell bogsveigir and bring him to the
mess tent. You will, he added, pulling back the door flap
and inviting the messengers to enter, be more comfortable
breaking your news in here. Orodrethlight a lamp.
Why are you giving that man preferential treatment?
asked Haldir, watching the tall, dark figure of Thorkell bogsveigir
cross the camp and duck under the canvas.
They are human, said Legolas. An urgent family
matter may mean a death.
A death, said Haldir. Of course
Something we can easily forget. But, at such times, men
Legolas was sitting by the fire with Gimli and a wakeful Eomer,
expecting Thorkell bogsveigir to come to him asking leave to set
his affairs in order, when he heard the dull thud of hooves.
They are leaving!
Rising to his feet, he watched the Beornings climb the sloping
riverbank and turn north, noting, now, that the youngest rider,
still muffled up in his mantle, seemed to be sleeping in the saddle,
his horse being led by one of his companions.
If they were attacked by Orcs, thought the elf,
shaking his head, he would have a rude awakening.
Do you think I should speak to him? asked Eowyn,
pulling on her riding bootsand the sight of the soft suede
hugging her slender legs
Should I speak to Thorkell bogsveigir?
He crawled between her raised knees and, catching her around
the waist, lowered her onto the bedroll. And say what, melmenya?
He nuzzled her neck.
She tried to pull away. No, Lassui, there is no time.
But the elf sank down upon her, the hard head of his erection
pressing persuasively into her sensitive flesh. Are you
sure, meleth nín? he murmured.
Chuckling, Eowyn brushed her lips across his cheek and, lightly
kissing his ear (provoking a delicious tightening in his groin),
whispered, Absolutely. You promised Haldir that you would
take part in the archery drill this morningremember? To
raise morale? You should have woken me earlier, melethron nín
She was right. Tonight, said Legolas, rolling onto
his side with a heavy sigh, I will make you beg.
Thorkell bogsveigir was sittingalone amidst his elven comradeshead
bowed in concentration, restringing his bow.
Eowyn smiled at Valandil and he, with the uncanny understanding
of elves, silently rounded up his fellows and herded them away,
leaving the man behind.
Thorkell, sensing the elves' departure, looked up, glanced around,
then settled his gaze on Eowyn. To what do I owe this pleasure?
he asked, sardonically.
I thought, said Eowyn, stiffly, you might like
to know that Legolas is willing to grant you a leave of absence,
should you need it.
I do not. He looked away, as though dismissing her.
Very well. Eowyn turned to leave.
It is killing you, said Thorkell.
She turned back, frowning.
He had picked up his quiver and was slipping his arm through
its strap. Women always have to know, he said, bringing
the second strap across his chest and feeding its end through
the buckle. But curiosity kills the cat.
Whereas it will be one of us that kills you, said
Eowyn. And quite soon, I should think.
The man laughed. Well, since you have always shown such
an interest in my affairs
They came to tell me that my father
is dying, he said, fastening the buckle and tying off the
end, and he wants to see meno doubt to clear his conscience
before he embarks on the Last Journeyor maybe he just wants
to congratulate me on my recent change of fortune. He picked
up his bow. So, no, I have no need of a leave of absence,
He rose and pushed past herthough they were standing in
open ground and there was no excuse for the physical contact.
Eowyn spun round. You will have a lifetime to regret that
decision, she called after him.
There was a festival atmosphere amongst the Rohirrim as, ale
and breakfast meats in hand, they gathered around the practice
butts to watch the archery drill. Skirting the crowd, Eowyn heard
several men laying bets on the performance of their elven friendsand
briefly wondered whether she should place a small wager on Legolas
The rest of the camp was deserted apart from the servants dismantling
the tents and packing away the furnitureand a small group
of people still sitting at one of the mess tables, huddled together
in what looked like a heated discussion.
Berryn and Lord Fingolfin, thought Eowyn, smiling. Scholars
are worse than drinkers for arguing
She stared for a moment at the third figure: a short, lightly
built, andjudging by his postureextremely nervous
She could not remember ever having seen the youth beforenot
in Eomer's entourage, nor with Berryn and Lord Fingolfin. And
yet he seemed familiar
Forgetting all about the display that was drawing cheers from
the crowd behind her, Eowyn ran to confront the stranger.