carfin and eowyn

For a split-second, the couple stared at one another, startled.

Then Legolas turned and ran, across the flet and down the spiral stairs, his hands reaching for his white knives as he descended.

But Eowyn knew, somehow, what had made that terrible sound and why, and she rushed after him, crying, “No, Lassui; Lassui, wait!” She skidded onto the icy landing and, her boots slipping on the wood, started down the steps.


Hentmirë looked anxiously at the tiny elfling standing on her doorstep.

She knew that the responsible thing would be to take him straight back to his parents.

But how could she betray a little boy’s trust?

“Well,” she began, “um,”—if only Legolas and Eowyn had come back!—“um, I think,”—inspiration struck her—“I think that we should go for a walk, Melannen. Yes, I shall send Rimush to tell your parents that you are safe—with me—and then you and I shall go for a walk.”


Grey-white and whippet-thin, with a shock of dirty orange hair, the figure bounded across the snow and, with Legolas in close pursuit, plunged into the trees.

It was fast.

And used, thought Legolas, to evading predators, for it darted this way and that, drawing him into the maze of frosty undergrowth, tangling him in the blackthorns and the brambles. He was convinced, now, that it was harmless, but he kept his knives unsheathed, using the flats of the blades to push aside the grasping branches, and he was just beginning to gain on it, when a sickening jolt to his spirit—Melmenya!—told him that something had happened to Eowyn.

Instantly forgetting his quarry, he streaked back to clearing and, sheathing his knives, flew up the staircase. “My darling!”

She was lying awkwardly in the curve of the stairs. He crouched down beside her. “Melmenya?”

She lifted her head, and managed a weak smile. “I am all right, Lassui. I just... I fell...”

The palms of her hands were bloody but, to his relief, she pushed them against the step and tried to raise herself, and he knew that nothing was broken. “We must get those cleaned,” he said, “and bound up. Let me help you...”

He lifted her, gently, into a sitting position.



“Just a few bruises on my bottom,” she said, shifting uncomfortably, “to go with the grazes on my hands and knees. I should have been more careful. Can you get me to my feet, Lassui?”

“Of course.”

He wrapped an arm around her and, with his support, she rose, and managed to descend the stairs. “We must not—let her get away,” she gasped—and Legolas realised that he had almost forgotten the creature he had been chasing.

He frowned. “Her?”

“We will need—the food the landlady packed for us—and the toy we found—in Melannen’s bedchamber. Would you fetch them, Lassui?”


“Where are we going?” asked Melannen, skipping along beside Hentmirë.

“To see a very wise elf,” said the little woman. She led him into a courtyard, just off the main walkway.

“Why?” He spun around as they crossed the empty space, looking up at the tiers of narrow balconies, then followed his Gwanur up a short flight of steps and through a pair of tall, carved doors. There, he stopped bouncing, and looked about him. “What is this?”

They were standing in a very long, very high, very light chamber, and its walls, which wound between the carantaur trees to form hundreds—Melannen thought—of little alcoves, were filled from floor to ceiling with books.

There were red books, and green books, and blue books, and black—

“This,” said Hentmirë, in a whisper, “is the Library, where people from all over Middle-earth come to study, so we must be very quiet.”

She led him between the rows of tables, past a Man who seemed to be copying a picture from one of the red books. As he passed, Melannen stopped and, coming up on tiptoe, peered at the Man’s drawing.

The Man raised his head, and grinned.

“Melannen,” hissed Hentmirë. “Come on.”

Melannen grinned back before hurrying to her side.

“This,” she said, opening another set of doors, “is the schoolroom.”

“Ada does not let me go to school,” said Melannen.

“Why ever not?” She waved him through.

“Teachers fill young minds with nonsense,” he answered, matter-of-factly. “He trains me himself.”

“Oh,” said Hentmirë. “Well, you go and sit at one of those desks by the window, and I will find Master Maglor.”


“Do you really think the mouse will work?” asked Legolas, crouching down beside Eowyn, who—cleaned up but still shaken from her fall—had already concealed herself behind a clump of snow-covered bushes, downwind of the clearing.

“I am sure,” she said, “though it is a little cruel.” She looked up through the lacework of branches to the steel-grey sky beyond. “I think it is going to snow again, Lassui.”



Gimli looked up at the steel-grey sky. “I think it is going to snow again, Bowswayer.”

“Keep still,” the Beorning grumbled. He had agreed, in the absence of the dwarf’s usual riding companion, to let Gimli sit behind him, but he was far from happy with the arrangement. “It does not matter,” he added, brushing a few big flakes from his sleeve, “there are no tracks to get buried; she did not come this way.” He urged his horse onward, following the two Kings and their retinues down into the valley.

Gimli grunted, sympathetically.

The Beorning had reported his nocturnal observations to King Elessar, who had immediately sent messengers to parley with the green elves, but the men had found no trace of them in the places Thorkell had pointed out. “Slippery buggers,” he growled.

“Still, Aragorn knows a thing or two about elves, lad,” said Gimli. “We will be allied with them by nightfall.”

“Not if what Thranduil says of them is true,” the man replied. “Green elves are the most contrary creatures on gods’ earth.”

“But Aragorn will charm them out of the trees, laddie,” said Gimli, confidently.


Melannen, standing on his chair so that he could trace the grain of the wooden desktop with his finger, pursed his lips as he thought it through: Gwanur Hentmirë is taking a very long time. She must have got lost.

He jumped down from his desk, slipped out of the schoolroom and, unnoticed by the scholars in the main hall, went to find her.


The snow had started as a gentle swirl of flakes, but now was falling heavily. Legolas took off his cloak and draped it around Eowyn’s shoulders.

“Thank you,” she whispered, snuggling into it. “If she does not come back soon, Lassui, our bait will be buried.”


Having found the colony’s teacher, Master Maglor, in one of the Library’s most secluded bays, Hentmirë had explained her predicament. “Just what am I to do?” she asked.

“You must take him back to his parents, my Lady,” he said, firmly.


“He would not be the first child,” he explained, more gently, “who, having been disciplined at home, sought refuge with friends or relations who have spoiled him in the past, but—”

“Legolas and Eowyn did not spoil him,” said Hentmirë, loyally, “they showed him love.”

“Would you like me to speak to him?”

The little woman bit her lip. “Well... No,” she said, at last. “No. I must break it to him.”


Legolas glanced at Eowyn.

She was hunched over, shivering, her gloved hands clasped to her breast.

“We should get you back to the inn, melmenya,” he whispered.

“No.” She sounded determined. “Not yet, Lassui. Please. Just a few more moments—oh!”—she grabbed his arm, and pointed towards the clearing—“look!”

Legolas peered through the branches. A figure—pale and wraith-like amidst the falling snow—had emerged from the far side of the clearing and was stalking Melannen’s toy mouse, which lay, spread-eagled, on the ground.

Legolas shifted his weight, readying himself to spring, but Eowyn—her hand still upon his arm—tightened her grip. “No,” she whispered. “Give her a moment to settle, then let me approach her, slowly.”


“Have you never caught a bird, my love?”


“Well, you need to do it slowly.”

They waited.

The creature crawled to the toy, and bent over it, nuzzling and sniffing. Then it settled back on its haunches and—suddenly looking almost elven—scooped the mouse up in one of its hands.

“Oh, Valar,” gasped Legolas. He glanced at Eowyn; her eyes were filled with tears. “You were right, melmenya.”

“Melannen, Melannen,” croaked the broken elleth, pressing the toy to her cheek and muttering fiercely, “don’t let your Ada see; don’t let him; don’t let him!”

Eowyn took the remains of the loaf from the food basket, and broke off a large piece.

“Be careful, my darling...”

“I shall.” She replaced the remainder of the bread and, hitching up her two cloaks, worked her way around the bushes and edged into the clearing, holding the food out at arm’s length.

“Naughty boy, naughty boy,” the elleth was chanting now, “but Carafin will hide it; Carafin will put it away...”

Eowyn moved closer.

Carafin’s head jerked round. “Ssssssss,” she hissed, dropping to her hands and knees, “ssssssss, ssssssss!”

Eowyn stood her ground and, smiling, held out the bread.

Legolas, behind the bushes, fitted an arrow to his bow, and took aim.

Moments passed.

Then Carafin’s body relaxed; she eyed the food.

Eowyn inched a little closer.

Suddenly the elleth lashed out—Legolas almost loosed his arrow but Eowyn immediately raised both hands to signal that Carafin had simply taken the bread—and she bounded back to the centre of the clearing and, sitting upon the snow, demolished the food in great bites, chewing it hard, and smacking her lips appreciatively.

Keeping her movements slow and her gestures small, Eowyn sat down beside her.

“More,” said the elleth. “Mmm. More.”

“Lassui,” said Eowyn, not taking her eyes off the elleth for a second, “would you fetch the rest? He is bringing you some more,” she explained. “No, no, there is no need to be afraid. He will not hurt you.”


For the second time, Hentmirë opened and searched each of the schoolroom cupboards. “No, he has vanished...”

“Perhaps he has gone home, my Lady, to his parents,” said Maglor.

“No...” Hentmirë sat down on one of the little chairs and rubbed her forehead. “No, he would not have done that. He would have waited for me, and asked me to take him back. No, he has run away, Master Maglor. He must have overheard us, somehow, and he has run away.” She looked up at the elf. “I have let him down.”

“Oh, my Lady, no.” He sat down beside her. “You must not reproach yourself! You made the right decision. But now we must try to find the little fellow, and as quickly as possible. You know him better than I—where do you think he might have gone?”

Hentmirë frowned. “Well... We had a nice time at the market, the other day,” she said, slowly, “and he made some friends when he played in the gardens, but,”—she shook her head—“I think he will have gone to Legolas and Eowyn’s house. Yes, I think he will be waiting for his Gwanur Eowyn.”


Breaking one of the landlady’s cheese pasties in half, Eowyn handed a piece to Carafin, and took a bite from the other piece herself.

“Nice!” muttered the elleth, chewing noisily. “Nice—nice—nice! Mmm!”

“Whatever are we going to do with her, Lassui?”

Legolas sighed. “I have absolutely no idea, melmenya.” He had removed Brightstar’s saddle and had brought it back to the clearing for Eowyn to sit on. “She must have been living here,” he said, laying it on the ground, “on her own, since the Orc attack—”

ORCS!” wailed Carafin. “Filthy, filthy Orcs!”

Shhhh,” said Eowyn, taking an apple from the basket and giving it to her.

Mmm,” said Carafin, dribbling apple juice down her chin, “mmm—mmm—mmm!”

“We will soon run out of food, Lassui.”

Legolas crouched down beside his wife and said, very softly, “We must take her back with us.”

Can we? Do you think the Valar will let us?”

“I think we have to try.”

Carafin, meanwhile, had finished the apple and was looking as though she might crawl away. Eowyn quickly found her some cheese. “How shall we persuade her to come with us?”

“Not going,” said the elleth, taking a huge bite. “Not, not, not!”

She understands us, Eowyn mouthed. Then, “Why not?” she asked Carafin, gently.

The elleth hurled the piece of cheese at her and scuttled away, scrambling over the remains of the garden until she came to one of the rectangular mounds and there, working frantically, she scraped away the snow to reveal a pile of stones.

“Oh gods,” murmured Eowyn.

“A burial cairn,” whispered Legolas.

Melannen,” said Carafin.


The Library

Arador laid down his pen, and leaned back in his chair, shrugging his stiff shoulders.

He had been working—on a problem that Lord Fingolfin had set him—since the Library had opened, he had had no breakfast, and his stomach was beginning to protest. It was time to wander over to the marketplace for hot pie and peas. He returned his book to its shelf, put his pen and papers in his pigeon hole, checked that his money pouch was still hanging from his belt, and went to the cloakroom to collect his greatcoat and scarf.

As he wound the scarf around his neck, bending forward slightly, he spotted a little foot sticking out from beneath the row of cloaks. “Hello,” he said.

The foot disappeared.

Arador pulled a cloak aside.

He was expecting to find the cheeky little elfling who had grinned at him earlier; what he was not expecting was to find the child crying. He crouched down beside him. “What are you doing under here?” he asked, kindly.

The boy sniffed. “Hiding.”

Hiding?” Arador sat down beside him and, shoving the cloak aside, leaned back against the wall. “Why are you hiding—my name is Arador, by the way.” He held out a hand, but the elfling looked at it suspiciously. “What is your name?”


“Why are you hiding, Melannen?”

“I am waiting for Gwanur Eowyn and Gwanur Legolas to come back.”

“Oh...” Arador had heard rumours that Legolas and Eowyn had rescued an Elven child from somewhere near the Mountains of Mordor. “I thought they had sent for your parents,” he said.

The elfling sighed, and Arador almost laughed, for it was such a world-weary sound. “Ada is cross with me.”

“Oh...” Arador knew what that felt like. “What about your mama—your Nana?”

The elfling frowned. “Nana is cross too, when Ada is there.”

“So you are hiding here until Legolas and Eowyn come back...”

“Gwanur Eowyn never gets cross,” said Melannen. “She plays with me, and we read books, and Gwanur Legolas is teaching me archery, and Gwanur Hentmirë tells me stories—”

“I see,” said Arador. He was still young enough to remember what it was like to receive a disappointment and feel that the world was coming to an end—and, besides, his stomach was growling. “Would you like some pie and peas, Melannen?”


Hentmirë, having searched Legolas and Eowyn’s chambers from top to bottom and found no trace of the missing elfling, collapsed into a chair and buried her face in her hands.

“There is nothing else for it,” she muttered. “I shall have to tell his parents that I have lost him.”


“She must have been living here,” whispered Legolas, “all alone, since the Orcs attacked and killed Melannen. And it has driven her out of her mind.”

Carafin had settled herself upon the burial cairn and, arms clasping the rocks like the body of her dead child, was crooning a lullaby.

“Oh, Lassui,” sobbed Eowyn.

Legolas pulled her into his arms, and let her cry against his chest.

Could Carafin have buried him herself? he wondered, stroking Eowyn’s damp hair. She does not seem capable. He glanced around the clearing, looking again for any signs of other survivors.

“We cannot take her away from him, Lassui,” Eowyn sobbed. “It would destroy what little is left of her.”

Legolas pressed his lips to the top of her head. “We would have to take Melannen’s body with us.”

Could you do that?” She shifted in his arms, leaning back to look up at him. “Dig him up? His little bones...” She shook her head. “She would not let you. She would tear your eyes out.”

“We cannot leave her here, melmenya. Not like this.”

“She needs people to care for her. Elves. We need to restore the settlement, Lassui.”

Restore the settlement.

Was that it? His important task?

Legolas drew Eowyn back to the middle of the clearing and sat her down on Brightstar’s saddle. “But this is not our world, melmenya,” he said, crouching beside her. “And we are only here so that we can stop this happening there. Unless...” He frowned, thinking about what she had said. “How are you feeling, melmenya? Physically? Tell me the truth.”

“Well, I am stiff and sore,”—she sniffed, wiping the tears from her face— “and cold. But I am all right, really, Lassui.”

He nodded. “Then this is what we are going to do...”


“Here,” said Arador, setting a plate of steaming food in front of the elfling, “tuck in.”

The market was busy, but they had managed to find a table next to the flet wall, with a wooden canopy to keep off the snow. Arador sat down opposite Melannen and, taking up his spoon, gestured towards the boy’s plate. “Go on,” he said, “it’s good.”

Melannen poked the mountain of meat pie. “Ada says that you should never take more than you need.”

“Well,” said Arador, scooping up a spoonful of food and shovelling it into his mouth, “you eat as much as you need and I will eat the rest, and—that way—nothing will be wasted.” He took another mouthful and, chewing it, looked at the elfling, curiously. It would be just like some haughty, aristocratic elf, he thought, to lecture the kid on self restraint, but overlook the basics. “Did your Ada never teach you to say thank you?”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Gwanur Legolas,” said Melannen, “says that we should not eat animals unless there is nothing else. But Ada says that the Valar made the animals for us to eat, as long as we give thanks, and do not overdulge.”

“Over indulge,” said Arador. “Hmm... And what do you think?”

“I think the pie is nice...”

“Me too.”

A young waitress swept up to their table and, deftly setting down a jug of hot apple juice, leaned over to Arador, and whispered, “I finish at six o’clock.”

Arador smiled up at her.

“Is she your hervess?” asked Melannen, watching her move to the next table.

“My wife?” Arador laughed. “No, Elfleda’s just a friend.” He poured out two goblets of juice and pushed one towards Melannen. “Right,” he said, suddenly serious, “tell me how you came to be hiding in the library.”



Legolas laid three dead rabbits on the ground.

Eowyn, sitting beside the camp fire, stretched out a hand and stroked the nearest carcase. “Poor little things.”

“I know. But I could find nothing else, melmenya, and you need some food to keep out the cold. Do you know how to clean them?”

She nodded. “My uncle taught me on my first hunting trip.”

He drew one of his white knives and, spinning it, offered her the handle. “Use this.” Then he sat down beside her and, drawing the other knife, began whittling a piece of wood, shaping it into a spit. “How is she?”

Carafin had stopped singing but she was still lying on the burial cairn.

“No better,” said Eowyn, carefully slitting the rabbit’s skin and peeling it back, “but at least she has not run away. I think she must spend most of her time like that.” She made a small hole in the snow and, opening the animal’s belly, removed the contents, and buried it. Then, taking another handful of snow, she scoured out the cavity. “The first one is ready, Lassui.”

Legolas threaded the carcase onto the spit and suspended it over the fire. “Can you manage the rest yourself, Eowyn nín?”

“Of course.”

“I will find us somewhere to sleep.” He crossed the clearing, keeping well away from Carafin so as not to scare her, and—deliberately ignoring the remains of Melannen’s house—searched the Forest until he found another staircase, and climbed up.

This house had been much larger than Melannen’s, spreading across several trees, with a number of small bed chambers—presumably for servants—at the very highest level. Amongst these he found exactly what he was looking for: a tiny room with its walls and roof still intact, and with enough lumber to block up the door and windows, and make the place reasonably snug and safe. With his cloak as a mattress, Brightstar’s saddle as a pillow, and horse blankets and his shared body warmth to keep out the cold, Eowyn should have a reasonably comfortable night. He cleared the couch and barricaded the windows. Then he descended the stairs and ran back to the clearing.

Eowyn had finished cleaning the rabbits, and had strung them on the spit. “I tried coaxing Carafin with another apple,” she said, as he sat down, “but she was not interested.”

“She has probably eaten her fill for the time being, melmenya. I doubt she is used to having so much, so easily.”

“Do you think he will help her, Lassui?”

Legolas’ plan was to spend the night in the Forest, question Carafin again in the morning, then—whether they had learned anything valuable from her or not—return to the inn and, from there, send a messenger to his double—the Legolas of the shadowland—telling him about the ruined settlement and asking him to send someone to take care of the elleth. He would word it as a warning, pointing out that the region was vulnerable to attack from anyone still lurking in Mordor, and suggesting that it would be a sensible precaution to establish a small permanent guard post there.

“We can do no more for her than that,” he said turning the wooden spit, “unless we are prepared to kidnap her. And the people of the Daw Valley have no reason to shelter her, so we would either have to find someone trustworthy, and pay them to take her to Eryn Carantaur, or take her there ourselves—and that would leave the elves in our own world unprotected for several more days...”

He had found a pewter cup in the kitchen of the ruined house, and he scrubbed it out, then filled it up with clean snow, and pushed it into the embers to warm. “I just wish,” he said, “that the Valar had told me—”

Eowyn grabbed his arm and squeezed it, urgently.

He turned, and gasped.

Carafin was crouching down beside them, holding out Melannen’s cloth mouse.

“Thank you,” said Eowyn, taking it, and pressing it to her bosom.

Carafin settled down next to her. “Orcs,” she said, bitterly. “Orcs came. Night night,”—in a sing-song voice—“night night, sleep tight, Melannen—night night, Nana.”

Suddenly, she sprang forward on all fours, roaring, tearing up handfuls of snow and throwing them into the fire: “Orcs came,” she screamed. “ORCS CAME!”


Eryn Carantaur

Melannen’s father, seated at the table, stared at Hentmirë like a judge examining a prisoner. “I cannot believe what I am hearing—Roseth, control yourself.”

His wife was weeping softly.

“He really cannot have gone far,” said the little woman. In Carhilivren she had been a person of some importance, and she was drawing upon all her past experience now, meeting the gaze that threatened to bore a hole in her skull. “I have spoken to Captain Golradir and to March Warden Haldir, and their soldiers are searching the city for him. It is just a matter of time until they find him—as I said, he cannot have gone far—”

Roseth whimpered, and Hentmirë’s concentration broke. She turned to the elleth. “I am so sorry...”

“If anything has happened to to my son,” said Túon, with cold fury, “I shall insist that your incompetence is punished.”


“Someone like that doesn’t deserve a kid,” muttered Arador.

Having arranged for Elfleda to join them at the end of her shift, he had brought Melannen home to his tiny lodgings in the Library courtyard. The elfling had promptly fallen asleep, curled up with Niben, in the middle of the bed.

“From what you’ve told me,” said Elfleda, who was roasting chestnuts on the fire, “he’s not actually a bad father, just a bit—well—strict. And his mother’s all right.”

“His mother’s nice to him, but only when that tyrant isn’t there to stop her,” said Arador. “Otherwise, it’s no toys, no playing with friends, no going to school—it’s a wonder the poor kid isn’t deranged—”

“Are you sure you’re not confusing him with your own father?”

Arador ignored the question. “It’s obvious why he wants to be with Eowyn.”

“Well, of course, anyone would want to be with Eowyn,” said Elfleda. “Let’s just hope she doesn’t bend over and give him a sun tan.”

Arador stared at her, uncharacteristically speechless.

The girl shrugged. “Sometimes your Eowyn-worship gets a bit annoying.” She poked at the chestnuts. “So what are you going to do with him?”

“Let him hide here.”

“Oh, for the gods’ sakes!”


“You’re supposed to be clever, a bloody scholar—”

“Just imagine what that bastard will do if he goes back. The kid will be twenty before he sees daylight again!”

“Arador! It is not for you to come between them! This Túon is not your father! And do you honestly think that even Eowyn will let you stay here if she finds out you’ve stolen a child? You’ll be sent back home before you can say I’m a donkey-prick—and that’s if they don’t lock you up and throw away the key.” She dropped the toasting fork and pounced on him, grasping his shoulders and shaking him hard. “Aradooor!

The boy sighed. “All right,” he conceded, shrugging her hands off. “I’ll see if I can persuade him to go back of his own accord. But I won’t force him.”



Legolas finished barricading the door and, climbing onto the couch beside Eowyn—all bundled up in horse blankets—took her in his arms and settled down to rest.

He had just begun to drift into reverie when something cold brushed against his chest.


Icy fingertips grazed his flesh as they slid down to his waist.

Ignoring his body’s immediate response, Legolas grasped Eowyn’s hand. “Now is not the time, my darling,” he said, softly.

“Why not?”

Her voice was muffled by the cloaks. The Valar only knew how she had managed to free her hand—or how she expected him to find his way to her. “It is too cold, melmenya.”

“You will warm me up.”

Her hand slipped inside his leggings, and Legolas held out for a moment longer. Then—muttering “Wanton...”—he rolled over onto his back and, closing his eyes, let her stroke him—

AAAAAAAAAARGH!” Carafin’s angry scream pierced the night.

The couple sprang apart, then froze, transfixed by a second noise—the sound of short, rasping breaths.

Orcs,” whispered Eowyn.

Legolas scrambled to his feet, doing up his leggings. “Stay here, melmenya,” he cried. “Bar the door behind me!”




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Previous chapter: Back to the Forest
Where are Legolas and Eowyn?

chapter 3

Next chapter: The green elves

chapter 5