Exactly one year later
Legolas stepped out into the damp evening air and, patting
the cloak draped over his arm, surveyed the line of pumpkin lanterns,
carved by Eowyn and little Melannen, that ran past the door and
up the curving staircase leading to their private garden flet.
Night was drawing in, and a light mist was rising from the ground.
The grinning facessome cheerful, some rather less than welcomingglowed
brightly in the gloom and, despite his misgivings, the Elf smiled.
She has arranged the lanterns, he thought, like a trail
of bread crumbs, luring her quarry to her lair.
He ran lightly up the stairs, and crossed the flet to where his
wife was already waiting, perching uncomfortably upon a wooden
chair, for she was cold but would never have admitted it. Put
this on, Melmenya, he said, draping the cloak about her
shoulders, to please me.
Thank you... She gathered up the fabric, and held
it close to her body. I know you do not want me to do this,
It is only that I do not want you to be disappointed, Melmenya.
I know, my love. I know. But he is lonely, Lassui, and
tonight is his only chance.
Legolas sat down beside her and, tilting his head to catch her
eye, he smiled. I do hope he comes, Melmenya,
he assured her, gently.
She nodded, and thenwith a little startshe turned
towards the stairs, but it was only their servant, Galathil, bringing
two goblets of smoking mulled ale.
Good, said Legolas, handing one to Eowyn, then touching
the other to hers in a refined version of the tankard-banging
he had seen in the Mead Halls of Rohan. It is a cold night,
he explained. Let us at least stay warm.
They waited, side-by-side, occasionally exchanging a few quiet
words but, mostly, sitting in silence and, as the hours passed,
the mist grew thickerdamper and colder. Legolas, who did
not feel the cold himself, but hadsince the first terrible
time he had nursed her through a chilldeveloped an irrational
fear for Eowyns health, was considering picking her up and
carrying her indoors, when she grasped his arm, and gestured towards
Legolas turned, his gaze following her pointing hand...
And there was no longer any room for doubt.
Two slender columns of denser, whiter mist were floating up the
stairs and advancing along the line of lanterns, andeven
had they not looked like disembodied spiritshe would
have sensed their nature immediately.
Eowyn, less awed than her Elven husband at that moment, sprang
to her feet. Who are you, she demanded, and
what do you want?because, as the figures drew closer
and their forms grew more distinct, it became obvious that both
Your cousin says that you will help us, said
one of the women, in a strange, echoing voice.
Theodred, said Eowyn, glancing at Legolas with a
mixture of triumph and relief. Where is he? Is he with you?
He cannot come to you tonight...
Her disappointment was tangible. Legolas wrapped a comforting
arm around her, and brought her close. Who are you, my Ladies?
Two lost spirits... replied the first woman.
...denied a proper burial... her companion
...and turned away from the Halls of our Ancestors.
Legolas hold on his wife tightened. And what do you
think Eowyn can do to help you? he asked.
Find our remains...
...and bury them.
Where? asked Eowyn, and Legolas could hear genuine
concern in her voice. Where do your remains lie?
We do not know.
Who are you? Legolas asked again.
The spirits shifted, twisting towards each other as though conferring,
then replied, in unison, We have forgotten...
Hethe one who killed ushas stolen our names.
Then how can you expect us to find you? asked Legolas.
Your cousin says that you will help us, the
first woman repeated, appealing directly to Eowyn.
We will do what we can for you, said the Elf, holding
his wife back. Where did you dwell, in life?
Eastfold! said Eowyn, excitedly. She tried
to break free; Legolas held her fast.
What else do you remember? he asked. Are you
sisters? Or cousins, perhaps? What was your fathers name?
Do you remember that?
When were you murI meanwhen did you die?
But at thatwhether because of the nature of her question,
or because their allotted time had reached its endthe spirits
began to shrink away: to rise, and curl, and dissolve into the
Wait, cried Eowyn following them, and Legolas found
himself following, too, you have not told us enough! We
Help us, sobbed the women, please,
please, help us, help us, help...
And the sound of their anguished weeping lingered on the air,
many moments after their spectres had vanished.
Fare you well, daughters of Eofor, murmured Eowyn,
sinking down into a chair.
Melmenya? Legolas hovered anxiously over his shivering
wife; she smiled up at him, sadly. Come inside, my darling,
he said. We need to get you warm.
Some time later, curled up in bed together, the couple were still
trying to piece together everything they had learned during their
Eofor is a common name, said Eowyn, so, without
knowing his fathers name as well, it could be hard
to find the right man. She sighed. And yet... Those
women were not peasants, or servants, Lassui. They were well-spokenwomen
of rankthe daughters of an eorl or a thane, perhaps, or
of a wealthy farmer.
Eofor of Eastfold.
My father was from Eastfoldthe land east of the Folde,
the site of Eorls ancient capital. Important families still
live there. She sighed again. Two young women, at
the mercy of their male relations...
You think they were killed for their fortunes? Legolas
kissed the top of her head. I suppose that would explain
what they meant when they said that their names had been taken
from themthat the killer had stolen their birthright.
No... Eowyn settled herself more comfortably against
his chest. I am not sure what they meant by that, Lassuiit
is a saying I have never heard before, and the way they said itit
was as though they had been forbidden to enter the Halls of their
Ancestors because they were nameless. I think it is something
more sinister than having had your inheritance stolensomething
worse, even, than having been murdered.
What could be worse than having been killed? asked
Having had your spirit deprived of rest.
Melmenya, he began, and Eowyn knew exactly what was
You promised them, Lassui, she said, vehemently.
You said, We will do what we can for you. You
cannot now ask me to think of my own safety, and abandon them.
We cannot leave their spirits in torment.
No. No, you are right Melmenya. We must put things right.
Good, she said, stifling a yawn. Then how are
we going to do it?
Well, said Legolas. First of all, you are going
to get some sleep. And then, tomorrow, in the cold light of day,
we are going to seek advice.