I am too tired to think just now, said
Eowyn, rubbing her foreheadfor the extraordinary courage
and resolution she had shown during the single combat had suddenly
begun to take their toll. I will speak to him later
Legolas wrapped a supportive arm around her waist. You
need to rest, melmenya. He turned to Eomer. I propose
we spend another night hereI doubt that Bergthórr
beytill will give us any more trouble.
I think we all need a rest, said Eomer. He squeezed
Eowyns shoulder. Let Legolas take you back to your
hutand do not ever put us through that again.
Eowyn grinned. I won.
By the gods grace you survived another fight.
By my own strategy, corrected Eowyn. She yawned.
Ohtake her away, Legolas!
Smiling, the elf lifted her into his arms. He is as proud
of you as I am, melmenya, he said, in a stage whisper.
Might I suggest, interrupted Gimli, prodding the
forgotten Beorning with his toe, that we put this one somewhere
secure before he wakes up.
Gimli is right, agreed Haldir. This peacock
will not take kindly to finding himself the property of a woman.
It would be prudent to restrain him whilst he remains senseless.
He is not really my property, Haldir, said Eowyn,
over Legolas shoulder, and he is hardly a prisoner.
She yawned again. Have Master Dínendal examine him
And tell him I will speak to him later.
Legolas carried Eowyn to her little shelter and set her down
on her bedroll.
Let me help you take off your armour, melmenya, he
said, so that you can rest properly. Gently, he moved
her handsshe was trying, impatiently, to unlace her cuirassand
untied the leather thongs. The fight did not go as you had
planned, he murmured, sliding the cuirass off her shoulders.
You expected him to hold back against a woman
I expected him to be more chivalrous than he was,
admitted Eowyn, with a tired smile, but he did underestimate
Leaving himself open?
Raise your arms
He lifted her heavy mail hauberk
off over her head. I was worried when you did not strike
I am sorry. She smiled again. That was not
He hugged her tightly.
But I am a better swordswoman than Eomer thinks, Lassui
You are a fine swordswoman, melmenya. He gave her
a final hard squeeze. We had better take off your boots
and get you comfortable. I will stay with you until you fall asleep.
This must be death, muttered Thorkell bogsveigir,
staring up at the elf tending him.
You are not dead, said Master Dínendal, the
colonys healer. But you have suffered a severe blow
to the head and you did swoon for several minutes. It is important
that you remain still until I have determined the full extent
of your injury
Is that why I am bound?
That is merely a precaution, said a rather acerbic
voice, from somewhere behind the healer.
Despite Dínendals advice, the Beorning pushed himself
up on his elbows, shaking off the elfs gentle hands, to
look at the speaker. You, he said. I might have
known. He fell back onto the bedroll.
Please, exclaimed Dínendal. March
WardenI shall have to ask you to leave the tent.
Wait! said Thorkell bogsveigir. Where is she?
Lady Eowyn, said Haldir, pointedly, asked me
to inform you that she will speak to you later.
Several hours later, Eowynwell rested, and queenly in her
velvet riding gown and bootsdrew up a chair to sit beside
Thorkell bogsveigirs bed.
The Beorningpropped up, now, on pillows, but still bound
hand and footgreeted her with an almost respectful bow of
the head. That was a clever move, he said.
Nonot really, replied Eowyn. It is a
well-known move that worked because you underestimated me and
left yourself unprotected. I could have taken your head off.
Why did you not?
I fully intended to. But
She sighed. I
have never killed anything without good reason and today did not
seem the day to begin.
Had you misjudged the blow, said the Beorning, with
a touch of arrogance, I would have shown you no mercy. I
would have turned on you and killed you.
In anger, agreed Eowyn, smiling. If, that is,
you could have caught me. But Ill wager that anger would
have made you even less of a swordsman, Master Bow-swayer.
You are something.
I shall take that as a compliment, said Eowyn. Now,she
leaned forwardsince your former lord no longer wants
you, and has given you to me, what am I to do with you?
Thorkell bogsveigir sighed. Dress me in a petticoat and
set me to spinning.
I may just do that if you do not mind your manners.
Eowyn looked at him curiouslya tall, lean, darkly handsome
man with a permanently arrogant air. Tell me, she
said, why did you challenge Berryn? You knew your accusation
was a lie; you knew that he would not fight. Why did you do it?
I wanted the chance to serve as your maid.
You wanted to compete with Legolas! Did you think you could
win? Is that what you told your ChiefBergthórr beytill?I
will defeat and humiliate King Thranduils son?
Is that why you accepted my challenge? To protect your
I accepted, said Eowyn, because a man who is
a coward and a bully does not deserve to breathe the same air
as an elf.
She had leaned further forward as she spoke the last andat
exactly the same momentthey both became aware of their physical
closenessso close that her breath was stirring the strand
of dark hair that had fallen across Thorkell bogsveigirs
cheekandat exactly the same momentthey both
drew back, uncomfortably.
I will give you a choice, said Eowyn, rising from
her seat. You can travel, as my prisoner, as far as Minas
Tirith, where I will release you to make a life for yourselfa
free manas best you may
Or, I will release you immediately, and you will swear
loyalty to Legolas and join the Guards of Eryn Carantaur. Think
on it. I will return to hear your decision in the morning.