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first night of rhiwLegolas & Eowyn

Eowyn…

Climbing up the main staircase, at the end of an afternoon spent sparring with Rumil and Orophin, Eowyn stopped, one hand on the rail, listening hard. The voice had been soft, no more than a sigh upon the wind, and at first she thought she had imagined it, but—

Eowyn…”

—no, it was real, and its owner was just behind her!

Eowyn spun round, automatically reaching for the hilt of her sword, but there was no one else on the stairs.

Puzzled, she climbed to the top, and stepped onto the walkway.

To the right, her and Legolas’ chambers stood out from the rest of the buildings, decked with pumpkin lanterns made by the colony’s schoolchildren to celebrate of the first night of Rhîw.

Eowyn…”

Gods! The voice had grown louder, and now seemed—somehow—to be coming from up ahead!

Eowyn hurried towards it, her hand on her sword. She could see no one—No one at all, she thought, no servants, no guards; and where is Legolas? Why, tonight of all nights, has he not come out to meet me?

Beyond the brightly grinning lanterns, the shadows seemed unnaturally dark, and Eowyn was surprised to find herself trembling, but the voice drew her on, past her chambers, and up the stairs to her garden.

There, between the pools of light, she thought she saw a figure, and asked, “Who are you?”

She was scarcely expecting a reply, but the voice responded, “Do you not recognise me, Eowyn?

He stepped closer, his already insubstantial form fading in the lanterns’ glow, but Eowyn could still see his silhouette, and she gasped. “Are you lost?” she whispered. “Are you here because you are not at peace?”

I am with my ancestors.

“Oh…” Her hands came up to her breast, and she smiled. “Is your father there with you?”

Yes.

Oh…” She wiped away a tear. “I saw it myself, once, for just a moment.”

I know.

There was a smile in his voice, and Eowyn moved closer. “If you are at peace, why have you come?”

Because, tonight, we are permitted to visit our loved ones, if they light the way.

“Light the way… You mean the lanterns?” She looked up at the grotesque faces, which Legolas himself had taught the children to carve (because, he said, the first night of Rhîw meant something to all the races of Eryn Carantaur, and the colony should celebrate it). “Do you have a message for me?” she asked. “Or—or is it a warning?”

I just wanted to see you,”—his voice had changed, become softer, more intimate—“to see what my Shieldmaiden had become.” And, strangely, his tenderness made her blush.

“Do you like what you see?”

You are so much wiser, Eowyn, and stronger, and even more beautiful. You were a girl then, and now you are a woman.

Fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. “I am happy,” she told him, because she knew that he had loved her, and because they had once believed that their futures lay together.

I know.

“He—“

He is the luckiest of beings. But,”—his voice began to fade, its echo growing longer—“he loves you, Eowyn, and will always love you, and will never take you for granted.

Wait!” she cried, rushing towards him, because he was leaving her, every moment growing less and less distinct. “I want to tell you—wait—I loved you—I did not know it then, but I did—please!—I would have made you a good wife—I would…”

But he was gone.

Who was he?

 

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Legolas
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contents

The mysterious visitor
Who was he?

postscript

The White Ladies of Eryn Carantaur
The following year, Eowyn and Legolas await Theodred.

the white ladies of eryn carantaur