The following morning, Eowyn awoke to find that
Legolas had already risen.
She rang the bell for her ladys maid and, wrapping herself
in her leafy mantle, walked over to one of the windows, pushing
open its carved wooden shutter and leaning out into the chilly
It was already mid morningLegolas had obviously decided
to let her restand the aerial city was a-buzz. Men were
hurrying down the walkways, overtaking their more leisurely Elven
friends; traders from all over the Reunified Kingdom were displaying
their wares; housewives were polishing woodwork; servants were
sweeping floors; from somewhere to her right, craftsman-builders
were hauling up lengths of timber to a melodious chant
Master Bawden! she thought. Of course!
She dropped her mantle on the bed and rushed into the bathing
room and, by the time her ladys maid arrived, she had washed,
and dressed herself in jerkin, leggings and boots, and had tied
her hair back in a rough braid.
I have changed my mind, Míriel, she said.
I shall not need your help until supper time. But when Lord
Legolas returns, please tell him that I have gone to see Master
Legolas closed his daily meeting with the colonys Inner
Council by thanking them for their continuing support and hard
work. As the elves were filing from the chamber, he drew one of
the Councillors aside. Might I have a word, my Lord?
Of course, your Highness, said Fingolfin, placing
his hand upon his heart and bowing his head in a formal gesture
Legolas told the scholar, briefly, of his and Eowyns encounter
with the two women.
You saw their fëar... said Fingolfin,
with an emotion that, in a lesser and a mortal, might have been
envy, for he was fascinated by Men and had spent many centuries
studying their lore.
Well, your Highness, said the older Elf, according
to the beliefs of your wifes people, when the hröa
of a Man dies, his fëa joins the fëar
of his ancestors in a great Mead Hall, and makes merry for all
eternity. He nodded to himself. It is a worthy fate
But something is preventing the fëar of these
women from entering the Hall, my Lord, said Legolas. And
Eowyn believes that they are cursed.
Legolas gestured towards the doors, and the two Elves left the
chamber. What I need to know, he said, urgently,
is how to break a curse.
In wordless agreement, the pair walked eastwards, towards the
There are many different kinds of curse, my Lord,
said Fingolfin, thoughtfully. Some may be broken by anyone
who performs the appropriate ritual; some can only be broken by
the person responsible for the cursing; and some must be countered
by a wise man or a wise woman, interceding on the victims
behalf. But in every case, he concluded, as the fëar
of the women themselves seem to have been saying, the first step
is to find the physical remains.
I was afraid you would say that, said Legolas. Then
he added, How?
Let us see what the authorities suggest, your Highness,
replied Fingolfin, opening the Library doors.
Eowyn followed the citys main walkway westwards, past the
new private Banqueting Chamber and the stairs up to the visitors
gardens, until she reached the building site, where she ducked
behind the screen that concealed the building works from passers
With her long, golden hair and her leggings and boots, she was
a familiar sight to the craftsmen-builders and, the moment the
men spotted her, they stopped working and waited in respectful
silence. Master Bawden, their foreman, who had been inspecting
the carving on one of the great pillars, immediately came forward.
Lady Eowyn, he said, with a slight bow, what
may I do for you?
Eowyn glanced around the site. Is there somewhere we might
Of course, my Lady, he said. Perhaps I can
offer you some refreshment?
Eowyn remembered that she had had no breakfast. That would
be nice. Thank you.
She accepted his arm, and let him lead her off the flet, and
down a narrow side-path, which snaked between the tree trunks
until it brought them to a long, open-sided pavilion. There, tables,
chairs, and a simple kitchen had been arranged to provide a place
where the craftsmen-builders might rest and take their meals.
Eowyn asked for a slice of apple pie and a glass of cordial, her
companion for some tea, and they chose a table beside the flet
wall, with an impressive view of the city.
Have you ever heard of an Eofor of Eastfold? asked
Eowyn, without preamble.
Eofor... Master Bawden rubbed his chin. The
name does sound familiar, my Lady. Let me see... Eofor...
He frowned; then his expression turned from puzzlement to enlightenment.
Of course, he said. The Daughters of Eofor!
Eowyns heart leapt. Do you know their story, Master
Well, he said, stirring sugar into his tea, I
think it goes something like this: There was once an eorl, a man
of great courage and high regard, whothough he had no sonhad
two young daughters, called Deorhild and Guthwyn.
Eowyn took her wax tablet from her pocket, drew out the stylus,
and made a note of Eofors rank, and of the womens
The girls, said Bawden, were as fair as sunlight
on May blossom,he smiled at the graceful young women
he was seeing in his minds eyeand Eofor loved
them more than life itself. Men came from far and wide to ask
for their hands in marriage, but Eofors younger brother,
a surly fellow named Baldor,Eowyn made another noteargued
that the girls should marry his sons, so that the family wealth
might not be divided amongst strangers.
Eowyn cut a forkful of apple pie. Do you know the names
of the brothers sons? she asked.
No, my Lady. I dont believe they have names.
What did Eofor say to his brother?
Eofor refused, for he wanted his daughters to marry, as
he had, for love.
He was a good man... Go on, Master Bawden.
Well, one morning, a maidservant went to wake the girls
and found their beds empty. And when she could not find them elsewhere
in the Hall, or in the storehouses, stables, or the orchard beyond,
she raised the alarm. Eofor mustered his fyrdsmen, and
searched farther afield, scouring the vale to the north and the
slopes of the White Mountains to the south. But he never saw his
girls again, not alive nor dead.
Eowyn blinked back a tear. A vale to the north, she
said, in her most businesslike manner, and slopes to the
south. Does the story say exactly where Eofors manor was
Bawden shook his head. Not that I have heard... He
studied her face with a mixture of embarrassment and concern,
then added, gently, It is only a story, my Lady. A tale
told at the fireside...
Does it say what happened to Eofor?
Bawden nodded. Yes... Not long after the girls disappeared,
Eofors wifetheir motherdied of a broken heart,
and Eofor, though he never stopped searching, became reckless,
riding out wherever the enemy might be found
That must have been during the War, said Eowyn, thoughtfully,
or, perhaps, shortly before
I do not think the story is set in any particular time...
and Eofor must have died.
Why do you say that, my Lady?
Because, if he were still alive, Master Bawden, his daughters
would have gone to him for help. She reached for
her goblet. Do you know what became of the brother?
Well... The story does not say. But, if Eofor died, I should
think that his brother inherited everything.
Yes... So should I. His name is Baldor, you say?
Yes, said Bawden, with the expression of a man who
has dropped his hammer over the flet wall and is watching it fall
towards a crowd.
Eowyn rose from the table. Thank you, Master Bawden. You
have done two most unhappy women a great serviceoh, no,she
placed her hand upon his arm as he began to get to his feetplease,
she insisted, finish your tea.
Closing the Library doors behind her, and ignoring the pointed
looks she was drawing from the scholars sitting at the tables,
Eowyn worked her way through the winding chamber, pausing every
now and then to peer into the book-filled alcoves, until she spotted
her husband sitting at a table with Lord Fingolfin, open volumes
and unrolled maps strewn between them.
She hurried over to join him. I thought I would find you
We are trying to identify the curse, Melmenya, said
Good, she replied. And I have discovered
the womens names, I think.
One of the scholars made a loud shushing sound.
Let us move into the schoolroom, said Fingolfin,
softly. He took up the pile of books, and Legolas scooped up the
maps, and the trio retreated into a side-chamber, separated from
the rest of the Library by a stout pair of doors. The Elves laid
out their reference materials on the little tables; Eowyn sat
down on a tiny chair and took her wax tablet from the pocket of
I have been speaking to Master Bawden, she said,
and tapping his knowledge of lore. And, consulting
her notes, she quickly told the Elves the story of the two daughters.
When he told me, she added, proudly, how Eofors
battle-fury had become legendary, I suddenly remembered the Thane
She reached for one of the maps and, smoothing it flat, outlined
with the tip of her finger a narrow strip of land, bounded by
the White Mountains to the south and by the River Entwash to the
north. This, she said, is Eastfold. This region,
here,she circled a smaller area to the eastis
the Vale of Morden, on the Great West Road, just beyond Firien
Wood. This,she pointed to a pair of symbols drawn
either side of the roadis the Mering Bridge, the most
strategically important point on the Rohan-Anórien border.
It was this bridge,she tapped the mapthat
the Thane of Morden defended against the forces of Saruman, risking
his own life, and the lives of his men. Like Eofors, his
courage became legendary, and...
And I remember,her smile grew broaderTheodred
once saying that the thane was reckless because he had nothing
left to losethat he had already lost everything he held
dear. She shrugged. It seemed so sad, the thought
stayed in my mind.
And now you are thinking that Eofor and this thane are
the same man? said Legolas, doubtfully.
Eowyn nodded. Theodred knew the Thane of Morden, so he
may also have known his daughters in life.
Which would explain their connection in death...
Legolas looked more closely at the map. Then this vale,
he said, would be the vale that Eofor scoured in the story.
And this area, said Eowyn, to the south, where
the foothills of the White Mountains rise very gently, forming
a sort of basin, is known as the Slopes of Morden. She leaned
back in her little chair, her case proved to her own satisfaction.
It is a wild shot, Melmenya, said Legolas.
Might I make a suggestion, your Highnesses? said
Fingolfin, who had been following Eowyns argument with interest.
We would be most grateful, my Lord.
Tonight, light the lanterns again. If the women appear
to you, remind them of their names and ask them about their fathers
brother, and see if they confirm Princess Eowyns conjectures.