Animals, growled Eowyn. Then,
Except, she added, rummaging in her travelling pack
for her night gown, that that is an insult to beasts!
Legolas came up behind her and, smiling, wrapped his arms around
her waist. Did you learn anything useful?
But he obviously considers Firien Wood a part of
It is where the boar are found, Melmenyaand, for
a man like Baldor, there is the extra satisfaction of hunting
on land that is prized by the kings of two kingdoms. But we cannot
yet assume that it means anything more to him that that.
He turned her round to face him, and she slid her arms around
Are you sure that you will be safe, hunting with him tomorrow?
I am more concerned about leaving you behind.
Well, it will be hard to survive an entire day of
sewing and tittle-tattle. She sighed. I had better
get some sleep, Lassui. I shall just fetch some fresh water...
Outside, a new moon in a clear sky was filling the silent yard
with silvery light. Eowyn crossed to the well and, setting her
pail upon the the ground, seized the handle, intending to lower
The name took her by surprise, not so much because she had thought
she was alone, but because no one but Legolasand, once,
little Melannenhad ever called her by it before, and she
did not like hearing it in anothers mouth. She turned. Master
Deference came hard to herunlike Legolas, to whom it seemed
to come easilybut she managed a small curtsey.
What are you doing out here? he asked, and his smile
Fetching water, said Eowyn, wishing she had her sword
at her hip.
Naughty girl. He came towards her like a cat stalking
a little bird. And, of course, you had no idea that I
would be coming out to lock the gates, did you?
To her annoyance, Eowyn was forced to take a step backwards and
found herself pinned against the wall of the well. No, indeed,
she said, trying to judge whether she could turn the situation
to her advantage, or whether she should simply duck past him and
I have had many girls, Melmenya. Many, many girls. But
none so feisty as you.
He bent in closer, and she could feel his breath upon her cheek.
I am a married woman, she said, firmly.
And I am a lord.
Not yet, she countered, drawing herself to her full
height, but still leaning back from him.
Not if your father has any say in it.
Guthmer laughed, loud and hearty. There are other routes
You mean by serving the king? She could not keep
the surprise from her voice.
Would you be impressed, he said, if Eomer King
were to favour me?
I would be astonished.
You, said Guthmer, are no merchants wife.
He brought up his hand, and his fingers hovered beside her cheek.
What are you? Mm? An eorls daughter who ran away with
a pretty Elf? He stretched out his forefinger, and lifted
a strand of her hair, and Eowyndeciding that it was time
to stand up for herselfshoved his hand away. By Béma,
he laughed, you are spirited.
He leaned in again.
Eowyn prepared to raise her knee
What...? he cried, recoiling in horror from something
behind Eowyns back. No! No!
Startled, Eowyn looked over her shoulder.
A pale column of mist was rising from the earth; it moved through
the crystal-clear air, rippling as it came, thickening into the
tall figure of a warrior.
Theodred, whispered Eowyn.
Get back! shrieked Guthmer, bringing up his hand
to shield his eyes. Back! Back!
But Theodred drew his ghostly sword and advanced, and the lordling
turned and ran.
The spirit had stopped, a few strides beyond the well, and was
staring at the door through which Guthmer had disappeared, his
body glowing in the moonlight, his hair streaming in a ghostly
Eowyn came up beside him, and he turned to her, and smiled.
We have found Holdred son of Walda, Theodred, she
said, urgently, and two others, but we have not found the
women. Are we looking in the right place? Are they in Wyrms
Hollow? And was it Baldor who A terrible thought suddenly
struck hershe remembered the boast of many, many girls.
Was it Guthmer?
Theodred sheathed his sword and, reaching out, stroked her hair
with his gloved hand, and she shivered as an icy draught seemed
to pass right through her.
Follow your heart, shieldmaiden, he said,
gently. And remember to keep to the narrow path...
Lassui, cried Eowyn as she ran into the barn, Lassui!
Legolas dropped his bow, his painstaking maintenance forgotten
and, leaping to his feet, took her in his arms. Melmenya!
What is it?
Theodred, she gasped. And Guthmer!
Come... Sit down. He guided her into the little alcove
beneath the stairs and lowered her onto her bedroll. Tell
Breathlessly, Eowyn described what had happened in the yardhow
Guthmer had tried to kiss her, how Theodred had intervened, and
how he had repeated his warning about the narrow path.
I am so sorry, Melmenya, said Legolas, holding her
tightly. I was not there for you.
No... She laid her head on his shoulder. I
would have called for you had I really felt threatened, and you
would have been at my side in an instant.
Legolas raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. Yes,
I would... Then he added, softly, Theodred promised
me that he would help take care of you, Melmenya. Thank the Valar
he is a man of his word.
Later, when Legolas had gone back to cleaning his bow, and Eowyn,
lying in her bedroll, was looking thoughtfully at Melannens
toy rabbit, she suddenly asked, What can Guthmer possibly
be planning to do, thinking that it will earn him Eomers
Legolas looked up from his work. That is a very good question,