Eowyn awoke to the feeling of Legolas' lips pressed gently
against her temple.
"Good morning, melmenya," he said softly, pulling
her closer, "are you hungry? I am famishedI could eat
nothing last night."
Eowyn smiled happily; she was going to spend the rest of her
life with this manthis elf. "Good morning, my
love," she replied. "Let us find you something to eat,
then!" And she threw back the blanket and bounded to her
feet, holding out her hands to him.
Legolas smiled. "Why do I have the feeling that I have met
my match in you?"
He rosevery gracefully, Eowyn thought, for someone who
was completely naked and so uncharacteristically dishevelledand
took her hand and together they looked around the banqueting hall.
The remains of the banquet had been cleared away, but some of
the guests remained, sleeping in various groups.
Eowyn examined a pile of bodies lying beside the tableshe
recognised Elrohir and Elladan, and one of the disappointed ellith,
butwho was that, lying naked beside them, on his stomach?
Ah, Prince Imrahil.
She turned happily to Legolas and pointed at the prince: "That,"
she said, softly, "but for you, and the grace of the gods,
would have been me."
To her surprise Legolas looked away, clearly uncomfortable.
She caught his hand and gave him a questioning look, but he simply
drew her to the table, where breakfast had already been laid outfresh
bread rolls, jam, honey, fruit, and jugs of water. The water,
Eowyn noticed, bubbled and foamed as she poured it into a glass.
She lifted it up to the light and laughedand Legolas seemed
to recover his good mood. "It comes from a spring in the
hills, just outside Doro Lanthron, melmenya," he said. "Gimli
tells me that the bubbles are made by 'good stone' dissolving
into the rainwater. The local people seal it in jars to stop the
bubbles escaping, then sell it at the market, here in Eryn Carantaur.
It is very popular as an alternative to wine."
"Is it safe?"
"Yes," he replied, "in fact, my healer tells me
its effects are beneficial."
Eowyn tasted it; it felt sharp and refreshing on her tongue.
"Your people should take it to Caras Arnen and Minas Tirith.
And to Edoras," she said. "I am sure it would be very
popular there, too, especially with the ladies."
"You can suggest that at the next meeting of the Council,"
he said, "to our people, meleth nín. Come,
Legolas pulled out a chair and Eowyn heard his breath catch.
She stepped forward and peered under the table. Sleeping there,
clearly hoping for some privacy, lay a semi-clothed King of Gondor,
his wife, and another of the eligible ellith. Eowyn and Legolas
smiled at each other, conspiratorially.
"Perhaps," said Eowyn, "we should take our breakfast
Legolas nodded in agreement. "Where would you like to go,
meleth nín?" he asked. "To my chambers?"
"What I would dearly like," said Eowyn, "is to
Legolas kissed her forehead. "I thought the Rohirrim were
afraid of soap and water."
Eowyn laughed. "Only the men!"
"Let us go to my chambers, then. We can bathe, and eat breakfast
in my garden." Legolas picked up the robe he had been wearing
the night before and helped her into it, carefully tying the sash
around her waist. He himself seemed quite happy to remain naked.
Elves! Eowyn thought. She fingered the robe. But this
was very considerate of him.
They filled a plate with bread, honey and fruit, and Eowyn poured
two glasses of the bubbling water, and, together, they escaped
from the banqueting hall like two naughty children.
"And I am telling you," said Lenwë, Treasurer
of Eryn Carantaur, with a wail in his voice, "that we must
not tell him. If Lord Legolas were to know about this terrible
tragedy, how could he possibly complete the harvest rite? So much
depends on his ability toto perform it successfully. And
if he cannot, what future will our colony have?"
"And exactly how do you propose to keep it from him?"
asked Chief Counsellor Caranthir. "She was central
to the rite. Without her it will be impossible to continue. Whoever
did this might as well have killed Lord Legolas' lady herself..."
Lord Fingolfin held up his hand. "We have no choice, my
friends. We must tell him, for he must not only reassure his guests,
he must also discover and punish whoever is responsible. And,
as for the rite, I believe there is another who has been trained
to take the elleth's roleno, Lenwë, I will hear no
further protests. I will go now and tell Lord Legolas myself."
"What worries me," said Caranthir, "is,
is the rite still valid? The murder is surely a sacrilege."
Fingolfin sighed. "If the Valar would truly condemn an entire
colony for the wickedness of one elf, my friend, then I fear the
damage is already done."
"Melmenya!" Legolas, pretending to be angry, caught
her arms and, pinning them to her sides, pulled her between his
legs, holding her in place with his thighs.
His very muscular thighs, thought Eowyn.
She laid her head on his shoulder and sighed contentedly. She
felt him hardening against her belly. "Are all elves completely
Still holding her firmly, Legolas burrowed into the crook of
her neck and bit her. Eowyn yelped and they both laughed. Then,
with hands and mouths, they started to explore each other's bodies.
"Oh, my lord," she whispered, "make love to me."
He turned them over and, supporting her head and shoulders above
the water, entered her body and began to thrust
They were immediately interrupted by an urgent knocking on the
bathing room door.
"Please return later!" shouted Legolas.
"I apologise, Lord Legolas," said a muffled voice,
"but this is an urgent matter."
Legolas looked questioningly at Eowyn. She nodded and, with a
frustrated sigh, he gently withdrew"One moment!"and
rested his forehead on Eowyn's shoulder, breathing raggedly, until
he had regained control of his body. "Stay here, melmenya,"
he said, "where he cannot see you." Then he climbed
out of the bath, hastily put on his robe, and virtually stamped
to the door.
That is not like him, thought Eowyn. Instinctively, she
put on another of his robes and followed him to the door.
"This had better be a matter of life or death," said
The elf at the door was taken aback. He has never seen Legolas
angry before, thought Eowyn. She assumed that he was one of
Legolas' counsellors; he was dark, and distinguished-looking,
and reminded her a little of Lord Elrond.
"My lord, Ioh, and my lady," he added, with a
Legolas glanced over his shoulder, surprised to find Eowyn standing
"I have bad news, my lord," said the elf, "which
I believe you should hear. This morning one of the serving ellith
found the Mistress of the Ceremony..." He hesitated.
The news was clearly bad and, unseen by the Counsellor, Eowyn
took Legolas' hand, supportively; he squeezed her fingers in response.
"And, my lord Fingolfin?" he prompted.
"She is dead, my lord. She has been strangled."
Haldir, formerly March Warden of Lorien, now March Warden of
Eryn Carantaur, was rapidly reaching breaking point.
At Legolas' insistence, the emergency meeting of the colony's
Inner Council, including the heads of the border and the household
guards, had been joined by the woman, EowynHaldir nodded
a brief greetingand the nogoth, Gimli. And, thanks mainly
to the latter's enthusiastic support of his elven friend, the
meeting was proving even louder and more pointless than usual.
Chief Counsellor Caranthir was advising Legolas to cancel the
rite and send his guests home: "We cannot guarantee their
safety, my lord. What if the killer were to attack King Elessaror
Queen Arwen?" He shuddered at the thought. "My lordwe
might even find ourselves at war with Gondor!"
The Treasurerthat cringing fool Lenwëwanted
to carry on as if nothing had happened, and kept whimpering, "But
the rite, my lord! The colony cannot survive without the blessing
of the Valar!" whenever he thought Legolas might hear him.
The so-called Captain of the Palace Guard, Golradir, was merely
concerned to cover his own back, bristling at anyone he thought
might be questioning his competence.
Haldir sighed; he would have followed Legolas-the-warrior into
the fires of Mount Doom itself, but watching Legolas-the-diplomatic-ruler
in action drove him to the brink of mutiny. Just give them
orders! he almost screamed.
But Legolas was being supremely patient, whilst firmly insisting
that steps must be taken to find the murderer immediately. "This
sort of thing cannot be kept secret. And we do not," he said,
"know what the killer's motives are. We do not know whether
he intends to kill again or, if so, who his next victim might
be." He placed his hand on Eowyn's. "If he intends to
disrupt the rite, then all the participants are at risk.
Our only option is to track him down as quickly as possible, stop
him, and make him answer for his crime."
His resolution brought a chorus of protest from Caranthir and
Lenwë, but Counsellor FingolfinThe only one of the
counsellors worth a damn, thought Haldirnodded in agreement.
And the dwarf pounded the tablepresumably in support.
Haldir had had enough. "But we elves have no experience
of these matters," he said. "How do we find
a murderer? I do not know where to start."
"I do," said a firm, quiet voice, taking everyone
Haldir turned to face the woman who had, until now, been sitting
silently beside Legolas. "I have observed several investigations
of this sort," she continued, "and they all follow a
She counted each step on her fingers. "First, you must seal
the borders of Eryn Carantaur and ensure that no one leaves until
you have had a chance to question him.
"Secondly, you must examine the place where the body was
found, looking for anything that might identify the murderer"
"Do you think me a fool, lady?" asked Golradir angrily.
"I have thoroughly searched that part of the hall, myself.
The murderer left nothing"
"I am not making any accusations, Captain, for I am not
referring to a cloak or a dropped glove," said Eowyn, firmly.
"I am talking about small traces that might easily be overlookeda
few hairs, perhaps, or a shred of clothwhich might, nevertheless,
provide you with a clue to the murderer's identity."
Legolas, Haldir noticed, was gazing at the woman with even deeper
adoration. And the dwarf's expression was much the same.
"Thirdly," Eowyn continued, "you need to establish
exactly where the murder took placewhether the Lady was
killed where she was found, or whether her body was moved there
"Why?" asked Haldir. And realised that he, too, was
taking the woman seriously.
"Because, March Warden, it will help you eliminate suspectsI
will explain that in a moment."
She is every inch a Princess, thought Haldir, and would
be a fitting consort for an elf, were she not mortal.
"The body was moved by the guards"
"That could hardly be avoided, lady," said Golradir,
"since the guests were beginning to waken."
"Yes, I understand that, Captain," she answered. "But
evidence may have disappeared when the body was moved, so you
need to talk to the girl who found it and to the guards who moved
it, and see what they remember.
"Fourthly, your healer must examine the body thoroughly"
"Why? Why must we violate her still further?" cried
Lenwë. "Surely it is time to leave the poor, unfortunate
elleth in peace and..." He was silenced by a look from Legolas.
"Because, my lord Lenwë," answered Eowyn, gently,
"we owe it to the lady herself to find out who did this terrible
thing to her.
"If possible, your healer must ascertain the time of her
death. Also, he must examine her for any traces the murderer might
have left on her bodyhairs or shreds of clothing, perhaps,
torn away when she struggled. It would also be useful to know
how tall the killer was, how strong, and which hand he favouredall
these things a healer can often tell from the wound.
"And... You need to know whether he could
possibly have been a she."
The Counsellors stared at her in horror; even Gimli looked surprised.
Eowyn held up her hand. "I mention it only as a possibility,"
she said. "If the answer is no, then that reduces the number
of suspects. Lastly" she hesitated, just for a moment,
"lastly, it will be necessary to question all of your guests"
There was pandaemonium.
Legolas quickly called everyone to order.
"You must question all the guests," Eowyn insisted,
"as soon as possible, and make written records of their statements.
If you can establish where the lady was killed, and when, and
you use the statements to work out where each guest was when she
died, you can eliminate all those who can prove they were elsewhere
at the time, and that should help you identify the killer."
"How can we possibly ask our guests what they were doing
last night, of all nights, my lady?" asked Caranthir.
"True," said Legolas, " it will not be pleasant,
my lord. But our guests will surely understand that our search
for the killer must come first."
"That is why Lord Legolas should personally oversee the
investigation," said Eowyn. "He is above suspicion.
And people will be more co-operative when approached by the lord
of the colony."
The counsellors agreed reluctantly.
"Very well," said Legolas. "There is much to do.
March Warden, I presume that your guards will have records of
anyone who has left the colony since last night?" Haldir
nodded. "Good. Have anyone who has left brought back to city,
and seal the border until further notice."
"Captain Golradir, have your men close the banqueting hall
immediately and stand guard; no one is to enter it until we have
examined the area. If we can finish before three o'clock, there
will still be time to prepare for the banquet tonight. Have the
girl who discovered the bodyMíriel?and
the guards who moved it sent to my chambers in half an hour. We
will talk to them first."
"Yes, my lord."
"Lord Caranthir, is everything prepared for the rite this
"Lady Eowyn must be fitted for her gown, my lord. And you
will need to replace the Mistress of the Ceremony," replied
the Chief Counsellor.
"Lady Lessien has been tutored in that role, my lord. Please
explain the situation to her and ask her to prepare herself to
Caranthir nodded gravely.
"Where is the body?" asked Legolas.
"She lies in her own chamber, my lord," replied Golradir.
"Lord Fingolfin," said Legolas, "who amongst our
healers do you think would be best equipped to examine the body?"
Fingolfin thought for a moment. "Master Dínendal,
my lord. He is young and has a practical nature, and will, perhaps,
be more willing to take part in something of this sort than any
of the others."
"And he has already seen the body, my lord," added
"Good; that should help," said Legolas. "Lord
Fingolfin, please ask Master Dínendal to meet me in the
lady's chambers in two hours. And please feel free to join us
yourself, my lordyou too, Lord Caranthir." He
turned to the Treasurer. "I will spare you that burden,
Lord Lenwë." He inclined his head, indicating that the
meeting was over.
That, thought Haldir. The ability to grasp the situation
and be decisivewhilst charming the birds down from the treesthat
is what makes him a king, even though he refuses the title.
"Thank you Gimli," said Legolas. "I am so sorry
to have dragged you into this, but I do appreciate your support,
"Well," said the dwarf, "someone has to keep you
elves in order." He winked at Eowyn.
"Will you help us with the investigation?"
"My sharp dwarven mindlike my axeis at your
service. But I should point out that I am as much a suspect as
anyone else. I left the banqueting hall before the rite began.
I had intended to return once, er,"he blushed"once
things were over, butwell, I was, er" Gimli came
to a painful decision. "The truth is, I fell asleep and did
not wake until you sent for me this morning."
The two friends laughed, despite the grim situation.
"So, you see, there is no proof that I did not kill the
lady myself," Gimli continued. "And though I will give
you all the support I can, lad, I am not sure that your people
would be happy for me to take part in the investigation."
Legolas sighed. "Ai, Gimli, how could anyone accuse you
of such a thing? What motive could you possibly have?"
"Gimli?" Eowyn interrupted, suddenly. "When you
awoke, had the fire in your chambers been tended? Was there hot
water in your bathing room?"
Gimli looked surprised, "Yes."
"Then the servants responsible must have seen you asleep
in bed. If the healer can determine when the lady died, it may
be possible to clear you of any suspicion. And I think that we
can also clear Aragorn and Arwen, and Prince Imrahil and the twins,"
she looked at Legolas, "and their elleth companions."
"Aragorn!" said Legolas. "I must tell him what
has happened and explain why I have decided not involve him in
the investigation, as yet. Gimli, if you are happy to remain in
the background for the time being, elvellon,"Gimli
nodded"then, at least, meet us in my chambers this
afternoon. Who knows, by then, we may have proved your innocence."
He briefly clasped Gimli's hand, then turned to Eowyn. "Come
melmenya," he said, "let us go and talk to Aragorn."
As he swung himself up into the saddle, Haldir caught sight of
Legolas and Eowyn walking towards the guest quarters. Though he
could not begrudge Legolas his obvious happiness, Haldir was finding
it painful to watch his lord court the mortal woman.
She had found him, barely breathing, on the ramparts of Helm's
Deep, had single-handedly dragged him out from under a filthy
orc, and had stubbornly insisted that the healers continue treating
him, even when they had said there was no hope.
He had woken from the darkness to find her sitting beside
But I was a coward, thought Haldir, and that is another
He spurred his horse and set off for the nearest border post.
He had a lot of ground to cover in the next few hours.