Why would he do that? asked Eowyn.
She had waited until the enthusiastic crowd had finally let Legolas
go before, taking advantage of the sudden bustle of activity (as
everyone turned to striking camp), she had drawn him aside, anxious
to break the news. But Legolas had spoken first, voicing his suspicion
that Thorkell bogsveigir had deliberately lost the contest.
I have no idea why, melmenyanor why he challenged
me in the first place.
Well, until this morning, I would have said that that was
What happened this morning?
You had better sit down.
Legolas looked at her curiously. I am not a man, melmenyayou
can just tell me what happeneddid heyou spoke to him,
before the archery drilldid hemisbehave?
Misbehave? Her eyes widened. You mean
He desires you.
Eowyn was incredulous. He hates me, Lassui!
She remembered the wink the man had given her as Haldir was dragging
him away, but she deliberately pushed it out of her mind. He
hates us all.
He likes to provoke you. He likes to see you angry
He likes to provoke everyone.
But you are so lively when you are angry, melmenya. So,he
suddenly caught her in his armsyou are so desirable,
meleth nín. Men like him do not dare be gentle, so they
court women with taunts and insults. I want you to be very careful
Gods, said Eowyn, pulling away. Are things
not bad enough?
He followed her down the river bank. What do you mean?
I have been trying to tell you. She turned and, grasping
his hands, drew him close and spoke quietly. That third
messengerthe one who caught your eye
about Gunnhildr and the cloth man. Lord Fingolfin has hidden
Legolas glanced back at the camp site. There was still much to
do: it would, perhaps, be half an hour before the cavalcade was
ready to move off. Well, maybe we should sit down
for a while. He slipped off his cloak and laid it on the
They sat, side-by-side, watching the river flow by and, for a
few moments, neither spoke. Then Eowyn said, What are we
going to do, Lassui?
My father predicted that this would happen, said
Legolas. He told me to be carefulhe was afraid it
might lead to war.
Eowyn touched his hand. No. Lord Fingolfin does not believe
so, and I think he is right. Bergthórr beytill knows that
the Beornings are no match for the combined might of Rohan, Mirkwood,
and Eryn Carantaurhe will not risk starting a war he cannot
win. He will use the law
She fell silent again.
We should send her back.
Yes. But you do not want to.
Isomething feels wrong to me, melmenya. Something
Does Berryn really love her? Or is he just being gallant?
I was doubtful, too, said Eowyn. But when I
saw them togetherwhen he was planning run away to Far Harad
with herthen, yes, it seemed real enough.
Sewing a cloth man, said Legolas, shaking his head.
It is like a tale of romance.
The heroines of romances are often escaping from cruel
Yes. Legolas frowned. Perhaps that is what
We will let her stay, he decided.
Eowyn squeezed his hand.
But we will send word to her father telling him that she
has joined the colony of her own free will, he continued.
We will assure him that she is under our protection, and
that both her life and her honour are safe
He will say that she is a minor and legally incapable
of making that decision for herself. He will appeal to your father,
Lassuior to Aragornfor support.
Then we will argue that, whilst she resides in the
colony, she is subject to elven law.
So he will take her by forceor have her kidnapped.
Not if what he really wants is to bargain with us,
And will you? Bargain with him?
That will entirely depend, he answered, on
what he is asking for.
Legolas helped Eowyn to her feet.
Do you think, she asked, that he let me
Thorkell bogsveigir? Legolas picked up his cloak
and shook it, lightly. No, melmenya. Noyour blow took
him by surpriseI saw his face.
Soif it was not planned, can we assume that he is
not a spy?
Legolas offered her his arm and they walked slowly back to the
cavalcade. I suppose it is still possible, he said,
that Bergthórr saw the opportunity to place a man
in our camp and seized it
But that would assume that Master
Bowswayer has the wit to act without direct orders
I think he has.
Legolas nodded. It also assumes that Bergthórr can
count on his unswerving loyalty.
That I am not so sure of, admitted Eowyn.
He seems to despise Bergthórra small
man with small ambitions he called him. Of course, that
may have been an act, to throw me off the scent
She thought of the mans arroganceand remembered the wink.
Gods, she sighed, I should have killed
him when I had the chance!
As the light started to fade the cavalcade drew to a halt. The
company dismounted and, whilst Legolas was occupied supervising
the siting of the latrines, Eowyn found herself wandering along
the lightly wooded embankment to the west of the new camp site.
She needed to think.
The journey had been surprisingly uneventful. Legolas, fully
knowing the risks, had offered Gunnhildr his protection and the
girl had gratefully accepted it. For the rest of the day she had
ridden openly at Berryns side. But Thorkell bogsveigirquieter
than Eowyn had ever seen himhad, as far as she could tell,
paid no attention to his former lords daughter.
Strange, she thought. Though she was almost convinced
that Bergthórr had genuinely abandoned his former champion,
she did not put it past Thorkell to try to win back his favour
Which only added to the anxiety she had been feeling all day.
Since he winked at me, she realised.
Since Legolas said that he desired me.
Where is Eowyn?
Eomer scanned the camp site. I have
not seen her since she dismounted. She must be in the woods.
His hand automatically moved to the hilt of his sword.
Legolas laid a restraining hand on the mans arm. She
is probably just finding somewhere to relieve herself. I will
look down by the river. You stay here. When Eomer seemed
unconvinced, he added, Do you want to face the wrath of
Eomer handed the elf his hunting horn.
Sound it if you need me. I will have Gimli and Haldir ready.
He is planning something, thought Eowyn, but what?
Does he think that he can make me hiswhat? An image
of Thorkell bogsveigir, hovering over her, suddenly filled her
Oh no, she thought. No! No! No! And, in frustration,
she drew her sword. He can try; but he will find me a
Ox! She raised her sword to the first position, hands
above her head, blade horizontal, pointing at her imaginary enemys
face. Plough! Sweeping her hands down to her hip, she held
him back, threatening to slice through his throat. Fool!
Dropping the swords point and keeping it low, she invited
him strikeleaving himself open
Over the roof!
Then she whipped up her hands, splitting the bastard from groin
And, in her moment of triumph, she failed to notice the rustle
of leaves behind her.