You! cried the knight, drawing his weapon.
The other man backed away, his hands raised in submission.
He was taller than the knight, and younger, and years of toiling
in the salt mine had hardened his body, but the knight was burning
with a long-held fury.
Someone, the knight ordered, give
this orc a sword! He raised his own blade to the mans
throat. I demand satisfaction.
No, said Legolas, stepping between the two
men and pushing the knights sword aside. I will
not permit a duel. Whatever this fellow has done, he will answer
for it before a magistrate.
He dishonoured my daughter! cried the knight. He
took her from my home, when I was not there to protect her!
He ravished her!
In the confrontation, Gudyth herself had been forgotten. Now
she ran to her fathers side and, with a little curtsey
to Legolas, she explained, breathlessly: He abducted me,
its true, and he brought me to this terrible placeand
every day I have cursed him for itbut he did not ravish
me. The gods protected me from that, at least.
He is nothing to us, Father. Nothing! Let us forget him.
Let us go home.
The knight embraced his daughter.
Legolas, placing a hand upon his heart, bowed his head to the
young woman. You would do well to heed your daughters
wise advice, mellon nín, he said.
Whatever you plan to do with the rest of them,
growled Gimli, once an uneasy calm had been established, you
had better do it soon. The villains among them did not like
what you said about magistrates and trials, and the rest are
cold and want food.
The big fellow with the scars has his eye on Eowyns
lamp, added Haldir, darkly.
But the djinn will not obey him, said Eowyn.
Not unless scar-face kills you, said Gimli.
Legolas grasped his wifes hand. Melmenya, I need
you to fly to Faramir, and ask him for food and blankets.
For a long moment, Eowyn looked up into his eyes. Then she
said, I shall be as quick as I can, Lassui, kissed
his cheek, and slipped outside to summon the djinn.
Legolas appealed to the knight. Can I count on that sword
The man glanced at the former prisoners; it was obvious he
recognised more than the man he had challenged. You can.
Good. I want all three of you, he said, speaking
to Gimli and Haldir as well, to get as close to the trouble
makers as you can. Be discreet, but be ready to deal with them.
Once his friends were in position, Legolas sprang up onto a
pile of rubble and, with the dignity of an Elven prince, addressed
the crowd: Some of you, I know, came to this place to
hide from justice. Instead, you were captured and you have served
a harsh sentence. In the name of my Elven-lord, and by the powers
invested in me by the King of the Reunified Kingdom, I grant
you a full pardon. Every one of you will be clothed
and fed, and taken back home.
He dropped lightly to the ground. Let us hope,
he murmured, that keeps them quiet.
Less than two hours later, the djinn alighted on the plateau.
In each hand, he was carrying a cart. One, in addition to
holding Eowyn, Faramir, and Faramirs redoubtable secretary,
Berengar, was filled with warm clothing, blankets, and enough
bread, cooked meats, cheese, and ale to feed the former prisoners
for several days; the other carried a small army of men.
The food and clothing had been distributed, healers were tending
to the sick and injured, and Berengar and his scribes were talking
to the prisoners, identifying them and drawing up a plan to
ferry them home.
Legolas, Eowyn and their friends were sitting round one of
the fires, sharing a simple meal.
You have a fine blade, said Legolas to the knight.
I call it Surekiller, the man replied, drawing
it from its scabbard and holding it in the firelight, for
it never misses an honourable mark.
After a split-seconds hesitation, the knight turned the
sword in his hand, and presented it to Legolas.
This was forged by elves, said Legolas, examining
the blade. He ran a finger along the intricate pattern on the
fuller. It reads, Mahtar, whichin the ancient
language of my peoplemeans warrior.
He handed the sword back to the knight. Where did you
It was part of my wifes dowry.
Legolas and Eowyn both looked, across the fire, at Gudyth.
She was sitting between Haldir and Faramir and, although she
was bundled in a blanket and her hair was still matted with
dried mud, something in her form and in her bearing seemed to
echo the elfs...
I think it is time we heard your story, mellon nín,