Perhaps, if you were to eat less, melmenya
said Legolas, stepping past Eowyn and walking on ahead, his booted
feet leaving no impression at the edge of the road.
Eowyn, tramping calf-deep through the rutted slush, stuck out
her tonguethen, thinking better of it, she scooped up a
handful of snow, formed it roughly into a ball, and threw it,
hitting him just below his quiver.
Agh! Legolas turned, eyes narrowed menacingly, though
the effect was somewhat ruined by the flailing of his hands as
he tried to wipe the wet snow from his seat. I will make
you pay for that, woman! he hissed.
Eowyn laughed and, as always, her laughter made her elf smile.
Come, he said, drying his hands on his jerkin, and
holding them out to her, I will help you.
Smiling back at him, she placed her hands in his, and
Wait, she said. What was that?
Legolas, assuming that she was trying to catch him out, grinned.
No, Lassui, I really heard something. Listen.
There, she whispered.
The elf nodded. Behind here, he mouthed, pointing
to the hawthorn hedge, north of the road.
Hand in hand, the couple crept up to the bushes, and peered over.
Oh, dear gods, murmured Eowyn.
The elfling was sitting in the snow, his little knees drawn up
under his chin, and he was cryingor, rather, he was rocking
back and forth trying bravely not to cry, and the sounds
they had heard had been his attempts to snuffle back his tears.
Oh, Lassui, go to him!
The elf sprang over the hedgerow, and crouched down beside the
Eowyn, meanwhile, had drawn her sword and, with its help, was
forcing her way through the hawthorn, scratching her face and
hands, and ripping her leggings in her hurry.
The child stared up at Legolas with huge, round eyes. His little
face was blank, and he said nothing so, assuming that he could
not understand Westron, Legolas asked, Man le?
The elfling gulped. Melannen, he said.
Legolas glanced back at Eowyn. He says that his name is
Melannentake care, melmenya.
Ask him where his parents are. She wrenched herself
free of the thorns.
Mas i noss lín? asked Legolas.
He does not know.
Eowyn re-sheathed her sword, and crouched down beside Legolas.
Avo osto, Melannen, she said, softly.
We will not hurt you.
The child looked up at her and, suddenly, he smiled. And, raising
a tiny hand, he gently touched one of the scratches on her face.
He is asking if that hurts, melmenya.
Yes. Eowyn nodded, smiling backbut the smile
immediately turned into a wince. Yes, it does, Melannen.
She took his hand in her own. Oh, he is so cold, Lassui.
And wet. Her other hand went to the fastening of her cloak.
No, said Legolas, he can have mine. He
slipped off his cloak and wrapped it around the boys shoulders.
There is no sign of any footprints except his and ours,
so he must have wandered here by himself. Mas etholich,
He says that he is from far away.
To a child, said Eowyn, carefully re-arranging the
elflings cloak, even the next house might seem far
There was a little basket at the boys side, covered with
a checked cloth. Perhaps there is something in here that
will tell us more, said Legolas, pulling aside the cover
and searching through its contents. Some lembas; a waterskin;
a half-eaten apple; a toy rabbit
Niben i eneth ín, said Melannen.
Legolas smiled. whose name is Niben, melmenya; and
a piece of parchment. He unfolded the note and read its
It says, he said, Please take care of