Melannen flew along the walkway like the shot from a trebuchet,
forcing startled passers by to dodge him as he homed in on his
target, Eowyn, who caught him and, wrapping her arms around him,
lifted him off his feet, and hugged him tightly.
Now what have I told you, she said, about running
up here? You could fall. She turned to his mother,
who had just caught up with him, and added, Thank you for
Thank you for letting him spend the afternoon with you,
my Lady, said Roseth, placing her hand upon her heart and
bowing her head. I shall return for him at dusk.
Eowyn deposited the elfling on the wooden pathway, and returned
the elleths formal gesture. Then she held out her hand.
Come, Melannen. We must check all our lanterns and replace
any candles that have burned too low.
By the time the pumpkin lanterns were ready, the sky had already
begun to darken and the air had turned chilly. Eowyn lit a taper,
and she and Melannen began lighting the candles, starting with
those at the back of the garden, working their way towards the
the staircasewhere the spirits of the two women had first
appeared the night beforeand then continuing down the steps.
Why are you doing this again, Gwanur Eowyn? asked
Melannen, turning one of the lanterns until its grinning face
was aligned to his satisfaction. I thought the First of
Rhîw was finished now.
Yes, but they look so nice, said Eowyn, not wanting
to frighten the boy with talk of ghosts. She reached into the
next lantern. Oh, this one still needs a new candle. Can
you go back up to the garden, and fetch oneno, do not run!
But the elfling had already disappeared up the curving staircase.
Eowyn continued lighting candles, and it was not until several
minutes had passed that she realised he had been gone longer than
He did not reply.
Melannen! A bolt of cold terror shot through
Eowyns chest leaving her covered in goose flesh. She blew
out the taper and hurried up the steps, gasping with relief when
she heard the boys voice; she rushed onto the flet, and
Ahead, the tiny elfling was bravely standing his ground, gazing
up at the pale spectre of a warrior of Rohan in full armour.
Eowyn watched her foster-brothers spirit reach out as though
to ruffle Melannens hair, and her heart glowed with pride
when the elfling politely suppressed a shiver at the large, cold
hand passing over him.
He is a fine boy, shieldmaiden, said Theodred.
Yes... She came up behind Melannen and laid her own
hands, reassuringly, upon his shoulders. Have you come to
help me find your friends
I have come to see you.
because I think I know who killed them, Theodred,
she said. I think it was their fathers younger brother,
Baldor, but I need to be sure. She moved a little closer,
and spoke more urgently, Do you know, Theodred? Can you
tell me? If I am to help them, I need to find their bodies.
They lie amongst the trees.
Trees? What do you mean? There are no trees in Morden.
Unless... The story mentions an orchard...
Amongst the trees, said Theodred, in
the lair of the dragon.
A dragon? squeaked Melannen.
There are no dragons in Rohan, sweetheart, said Eowyn,
gently squeezing the boys shoulders. It must be the
local name for a place... Is that right, Theodred? Are they buried
somewhere in the Vale of Morden?
I must go...
No! Please! Theodred! Shall the women come tonight? Can
I speak with them again?
Follow your heart, Eowyn, said Theodred, as
his form began to fade, it is brave and true. And may
the gods bless you, shieldmaiden, shieldmaiden, shieldmaid...
When Roseth came for Melannen, he did not want to leave, explaining
that he was hoping to see the ghost of the warrior again, or perhaps
the ghosts of the two ladies, or even the ghost of the
dragon but, after some tearswhich, Eowyn thought, were really
nothing compared to the tempests a Man-child would have unleashedhe
agreed to go home, provided his Gwanur Eowyn would visit him the
next day, and tell him whether she had seen a dragon.
Legolas and Fingolfin arrived not long after the boy and his
mother had gone, and the three settled down to wait.
Night fell, and the Palace Guard began their regular patrols.
All over the city, lanterns were lighted and the noises of the
working day were replaced by those of merry-making until, gradually,
those too faded...
But the women did not come.
And, as they kept watch, Legolas and Eowyn, with the help of
their friend, devised a plan, which they decided to put into practice
as soon as possible.
Did you see the dragon? asked Melannen, excitedly.
No, said Eowyn, smiling as she lifted him into her
arms for a hug, neither the dragon nor the ladies, so you
did not miss anything. She set him down again and kissed
the top of his head. But I have come to tell you that your
Gwanur Legolas and I are going away for a little while, and I
want you to promise that you will be very good for your Nana and
your Gwanur Hentmirë whilst we are away, and that you will
work hard at school.
She held out her hand and he took it, and they walked towards
the market flet.
Are you going to find the dragon? asked Melannen.
Yes. We are going to find the trees, and the dragon, and
the two ladies, and put them to rest. She led him towards
one of the food stalls.
Does that mean that the ghosts will not come to see us
any more? He was obviously disappointed.
It does, said Eowyn. But that will be a good
thing, Melannen, because it will mean that they are happy.
She bought two bowls of thick potage, and two cups of warm apple
juice, and they carried them to a table.
Well, said the elfling, climbing up onto his chair,
just make sure that you keep to the narrow path, shieldmaiden.
Eowyn froze half-way to her seat. What did you say?
Make sure you keep to the narrow path. He picked
up his spoon.
Eowyn sat down heavily. Where did you hear that?
she asked, though the question was rhetorical, because she already
knew the answer. Did Theodred say anything else to you?
He said that I was brave, said Melannen, puffing
out his little chest proudly.
Eowyn reached over and grasped his hand. You are the bravest
elfling in the whole of Middle-earth.
But, Se ánpæþ, she mused, as she ate
her potage, se ánpæþ, the narrow path.
It was a common enough name, applied to tracks, and passageways,
and alleys all over Rohan. Though Theodred must surely have
a particular narrow path in mind...
Elsewhere on the market flet, Legolas was deep in negotiations
with one of the traders, a man of Anórien named Adrahil
son of Herluin.
A gold fifty-piece, said Adrahil, admiring the leaf-shaped
coin glistening in his palm, for writing a letter to my
Legolas nodded. A letter of introduction and recommendation.
Very well, your Highness,Adrahil dropped the
coin into the pouch at his waistyou have yourself
Legolas held out his hand, human style, and the Manto the
Elfs well-hidden horrorspat in his own hand, and shook.
Osmund, he called to his neighbour, will you
keep an eye on the stall whilst I finish some business with Prince
Hentmirë assures me, said Eowyn, mixing four
tablespoons of ground-up leaves into a paste with a some water,
that all the women of Far Harad use this to hide
their grey hairs. She set the bowl on the wash stand and,
taking up a small alabaster jar, turned back to Legolas, who was
waiting nervously, perching upon a stool, his long, pale hair
hanging damp about his shoulders.
Now, first, she continued, removing the stopper,
I must put some of this salve on your forehead, to stop
your skin turning brown.
If this does not work, she added, smoothing the greasy
ointment along his hairline, we will just have to apply
the paste all over your face, and pretend that you have been sun-burned
in Far Harad.
Early next morning, a small group of people gathered in the clearing
beneath the city.
This, your Highness, said Lord Fingolfin, handing
Legolas a small book, is Pelilas on curses. I hope you will
find it useful.
Thank you, my Lord, said Legolas, with a formal bow.
I am sure we shall.
And this, my Lady, said Berryn, the colonys
cartographer, is a map of Eastfold. He partially unrolled
the scroll of parchment. I have revised some parts of it,
he explained, showing her the details, according to my own
observations in Year Five. Some of it is quite sketchy, but it
should still be better than nothing.
Thank you, said Eowyn. She carefully re-rolled the
map, and stowed it in her travelling pack. Then she smiled at
the young man hovering anxiously between Berryn and Fingolfin.
Oh! Um... Arador blushed deeply. II thought
that this might come in handy, my Lady. He gave her a black
velvet baglong and narrow, and containing something unexpectedly
heavythen backed away from her with a shy bow.
Eowyn loosened the drawstring, and gasped as a bright, blueish
light spilled from the opening. Your famous Dark Elf crystal,
she saidfor it was well known that the boy had squandered
much of his considerable inheritance acquiring Drow artefacts.
Are you sure?
It will allow you to see in the dark, my LadyI meanif
you should ever need to...
That will be very useful, Master Arador. Thank you. I shall
take great care of it.
Everyone turned to see Hentmirë, Legolas adopted aunt,
rushing down the staircase from the city above, followedsomewhat
more gracefullyby March Warden Haldir, carrying Melannen
on his broad shoulders.
The little woman reached the ground, and blundered across the
clearing. Oh, your poor hair!
Legolas hugged her tightly. Does brown hair not suit me,
Well... I do like it better yellow... But never mind thatjust
be very careful, my dear. Remember always to boil the water before
you drink it.
Haldir approached Eowyn. Someone else wants to say good
bye, he said, smiling.
Good bye again, Melannen, said Eowyn.
The little boy held out a threadbare and much-loved object, which
Eowyn immediately recognised as his toy rabbit. Niben is
coming, to look after you, he said, solemnly.
It is very kind of Niben to offer, she replied, but
I do not think he realises that we may be gone for several weeks.
Niben does not mind, said Melannen. He likes
Eowyn glanced at Haldir, whoalmost imperceptiblynodded
Well, if Niben does not mind, then I shall be very grateful
for his company. She took the toy, and gave it a little
kiss before slipping it safely inside her velvet bodice.
Farewell, EowynLegolas, said Haldir. No
i Melain na len.
The couple mounted their horses and, with a final wave, rode
out of the clearing.