A flock of birds, wading at the waters edge,
suddenly took flight, filling the sky with a great dark sigh of
The Lady of the Shield Arm, said Thorkell bogsveigir,
bowing low in his saddle. I am honoured.
You are a fool, bow-swayer, hissed Eomer, reaching
for his sword, if you think that I will permit this
Eomer, stop! cried Legolas, holding up his hands.
Eowyn has accepted his challenge.
It is ridiculous! Surely you will not
She has accepted it! repeated Legolas. And
we,he wrapped his arm around Eowyns shouldersmust
abide by her decision.
The Beorning acknowledged the elfs reluctant support with
a bow of the head, before addressing himself to Eowyn: Since
it was I who issued the challenge, my lady, you may choose the
Swords, said Eowyn, without hesitation.
And your second?
My brother, Eomer.
What! Eomer swung himself down from his horse, but
Haldir caught his arm and held him fast.
I will return at dawn, said Thorkell bogsveigir;
and, ignoring the Kings curses, he spurred his horse and
galloped back to his companions.
Have you lost your mind? cried Eomer, shaking off
Haldirs restraining hands.
Eowyn stood her ground.
By the gods grace you survive one battle and now
you think you are a warrior? He will kill you before you have
drawn your sword! And as for you! He turned on Legolas.
I must speak with Eowyn in private, said the elf,
You encouraged this! You took her hunting orcs!
Please, give us a moment together.
Legolas held out his arm, and Eowyn took it, and he led her away
from the crowd, through the yellow furze bushes, down to the river
bank. Only then did he pull her into his arms. Why, melmenya?
he whispered, Why? Does what we have been grantedeternity
togethermean nothing to you?
It means everything to me, Lassui.
He was challenging you, said Eowyn, softly. Berryn
was just an excusehe knew that Berryn would not fight. He
expected you to defend him.
He pressed his lips to her temple.
Did you think he would refuse you? Did you think you could
shame him into riding away?
So you thought you were protecting me?
I thought that a bully and a coward did
not deserve to fight you. I thought that a man who sneered at
maidens should be taught a lesson. I thought
Perhaps I did act foolishly. But I will not go back on my
Legolas crushed her to his chest.
You think that I will lose, she said.
I fear it, melmenya. Of course I do! He is
A man, yesbigger and stronger and more experienced
than you are.
Will you stay with me, Lassui? Stay at my side until dawn?
How can you ask?
And support me?
You named Eomer as your second.
Only to bind him, my love, on his honour; only to stop
him doing something foolish, like killing Thorkell bogsveigir
during the night.
Of course I will stay melmenyatill dawn and foreverI
have sworn it. No matter what happens tomorrow, I will never leave