| As the second witness was leaving,
Chief Counsellor Caranthir arrived.
"Please come in, Lord Caranthir," said Legolas, waving
him towards a seat by the fireplace. "Well, my lordsand
my lady," he added, unable to suppress his high spirits at
having cleared Gimli of all suspicion, "what have we discovered
Since neither of the elves answered, Eowyn began: "We know
that that the elleth was killed in the banqueting hall, only shortly
before she was found, at about six o'clock. Lord Fingolfin thinks
he saw her leaving the hall immediately after the rite, so she
must have returned later for some reason..."
"Perhaps to meet someone?" said Fingolfin.
"Yes, perhaps," agreed Eowyn. "We know that the
killer took her by surprise, and attacked her from behind, so
perhaps she was sitting on one of the chairs, waiting for him."
"But we also know," added Legolas, "that there
was some sort of struggle, involving a candlestick."
"And the chairs," added Eowyn, "were disturbed
after the elleth fell to the ground, because her body was surrounded
by them and the guard had to move them to reach her. We also know
that someone, possibly a couple, was lying in the main doorway
when Míriel arrived, and left when she found the body."
"And," added Fingolfin, "we know that the killer
used a very distinctive boot lace as a weapon."
"Yes," said Legolas, "that was strangeto
use such a personal object, which could so easily be identified.
And he must have been carrying it in his pocket, for he could
hardly have pulled it out of his boot on impulse. Does that mean
that he had planned the murder beforehand?"
"Perhaps, my lord, he is the sort of person who is always
prepared." said Chief Counsellor Caranthir.
Legolas gave that idea some thought. "It is certainly not
an honourable weapon," he said. "Did you have someone
in mind, Lord Caranthir?"
"Well, I had been thinking back over the last few days,
my lord, trying to remember anything that struck me as unusual..."
"I had a visit yesterday, from Angaráto." The
other elves groaned; Angaráto was not a popular elf. "HeI
would say that he tried to bribe me, my lord."
"Bribe you to do what?" asked Legolas, apalled.
Caranthir glanced at Eowyn uncomfortably. "To persuade you
to choose his daughter for the harvest rite, my lord. He had some
idea that it might develop into a more permanent arrangement."
"And how," said Fingolfin, "did he think you would
"I do not know, my lord," answered Caranthir, "I
gave him a quick lecture about the part the Valar play in the
selection of the lady and sent him away. But after the Mistress
of the Ceremony was killed, I began to think that an elf who would
attempt to use a sacred rite for his own purposes might not hesitate
to commit murder, if it were in his interest."
"Marrying his daughter to Legolas would clearly be in his
interest," agreed Eowyn, "but how would killing the
Mistress of the Ceremony help him? In fact, that is the strangest
thing about this murderwho would want to kill her? Unless"
"I for one," said Legolas, "threatened her with
violent death only hours before she was killed."
"My lord!" exclaimed Caranthir.
"I will not go into details, Lord Caranthir, butbelieve
mein my position you would have done the same," said
Legolas. He rose, and walked to the window. "She was a difficult
elleth..." He began to pace up and down. "She had only
one purpose in life, and that was to ensure that the Harvest Ceremony
was performed correctly."
"That is surely not a bad thing, my lord," said Fingolfin,
"It should not have been," said Legolas. "But
she was concerned only with the letter of the rite, not with its
spirit. She forgotor she ignoredthat she was dealing
with the most intimate of matters. Sheshe" Legolas
paused, surprised at depth of the feelings welling up inside him
as he remembered her hands on his body. "Her obsession with
the physical details of the rite led her to overstepcertain
boundaries. And sheshe... I disliked her. Very much."
"Do you," said Eowyn softly, "think that she may
have been killed by someone else she haddistressed?"
Legolas sighed. "I do not know, meleth nín."
"Perhaps," said Fingolfin, tactfully, "we should
decide what to do next."
"Yes, said Eowyn, still looking at Legolas with concern,
"there are many questions we need to answer. First, why did
the elleth return to the hall? If she was meeting someone, who
was it? Have we any way of finding out? Perhaps we should search
"That is a good idea, meleth nín," said Legolas,
and Eowyn smiled at him, relieved to see he had recovered something
of his usual composure.
Legolas consulted the hourglass on his desk. "My lords,
Eowyn, I believe there is just time to carry out a search before
we prepare for the banquet this evening."
It was agreed that Legolas and Eowyn should search the elleth's
chambers, since Chief Counsellor Caranthir had offered to draw
up a list of guests to be interviewed, and Lord Fingolfin had
already agreed to take Aragorn and Arwen on a brief tour of the
aerial city. "We shall be accompanied both by King Elessar's
own guards and by some of Haldir's border guards," said Fingolfin.
"A wise precaution, my lord," said Legolas. "I
look forward to seeing both you and Lord Caranthir at the banquet
"What happens tonight?" asked Eowyn, as they strolled
along the walkway towards the guest quarters.
Legolas turned to her in surprise. "I am sorry, melmenya,
I forgot that you had never attended a Harvest Ceremony before."
He stopped walking and, together, they leaned over the wall of
the walkway and looked out across Eryn Carantaur. For as far as
Eowyn's eyes could see, walkways spread out through the the mighty
trees, connecting the flets like branches supporting sprays of
blossom. She admired the buildings of carved wood and glass, with
their pale green paintwork and their white canvas sunshades; though
it was still light, some of the dwellings, in the darker parts
of the forest, were already lit by candles. It is magical,
she thought, and now it is my home.
"Tonight, meleth nín," said Legolas, "we
will be crowned King and Queen of the Harvest and then, after
the banquet, we will perform the rite again."
Eowyn felt the colour rising to her cheeks; she had been hoping
that that part of the festival was over.
Legolas smiled, "I am sorry, melmenya; I know that making
love in public makes you uncomfortable; I know that humans have
strange ideas about sex"
Eowyn laughed, "I would say it is elves who have the strange
"We celebrate life through it, meleth nín. We count
the giving and receivingthe sharingof pleasure through
lovemaking the greatest of the Valar's gifts. We offer it back
to them in thanks; and we share it with others, as they intended."
"But I was hoping to have you all to myself tonight!"
said Eowyn, playfully. Then she continued, more soberly, "What
will happen tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow, after the banquet, we will present gifts to all
of our guests, and then we will perform the rite for the last
Eowyn nodded, seriously; Legolas raised her hand to his lips
and kissed her palm.
"Legolas," she said, more seriously still, "I
cannot imagine what the Mistress of the Ceremony did to you. No,"she
pressed her fingers to his lips"you do not have to
tell me if it is too painful. I justIOh, I do not
know what to say to you, my love, except that I would do anything
in my power to spare you the pain I saw in you this afternoon."
"Eowyn nín..." he whispered, and kissed her
After a moment she asked, "What does everyone mean when
they say that it was not really you but the Valar that chose me?"
"It is difficult to explain, melmenya," said Legolas.
He led her over to a seat built into the wall of the walkway.
"On the first night of the festival, at the appointed time,
the Mistress of the Ceremony gives the celebrant a potion."
"I saw you drink it," said Eowyn.
"You did? The potion contains herbs thatwell, they
delay the pleasurable momentbut they also cause visions.
The Mistress of the Ceremony could not tell me what to look for,
because that is a mystery known only to the celebrant and the
Valar themselves. All she could tell me was that when I saw the
sign I would know it in my heart. And when I looked at you"
"Perhaps you should not tell me what you saw," said
"No, perhaps not. But I can say that I saw your spirit,
meleth nín; I saw your spirit shining like Ithil."
He kissed her forehead. "Ithildin nín. And my
spirit sang with joy, because the Valar had given me my heart's
"Do you think they do that for every celebrant?" Eowyn
"That is a pleasant thought, melmenya."
They sat together in silence for a while. Then Legolas turned
to Eowyn. "Come, melmenya," he said, "we have a
job to do."
As they were approaching the door to the Mistress of the Ceremony's
chambers, Eowyn could already see that something was wrong.
The healer, Master Dínendal, having found no further evidence
on the elleth's body, had requested Legolas' permission to have
her removed to the house of healing and prepared for burial. Legolas
had given his permission almost two hours ago, yet the door to
the elleth's chambers was still open.
Legolas pulled Eowyn to a stop. "Stay here, melmenya,"
he said. Then he drew his white knives and cautiously entered
Eowyn might normally have protested at being left behind but
not this timethis time, the situation demanded speed and
stealth, not a loud altercation. Besides, she thought ruefully,
I am unarmed. In future I will wear my sword; in future I will
not wait safely behind whilst Legolas goes into danger alone.
But Legolas reappeared almost immediately, unharmed. "It
seems to be empty, melmenya, but I am afraid someone has been
here before us."
Eowyn surveyed the ruins of the elleth's bedchamber. Someonepresumably
the killerhad searched it thoroughly. Clothing had been
pulled out of the wardrobe, torn apart, and the pieces had been
strewn across the floor. Cupboards and chests had been opened,
and their contentsThings that must have been precious
to her in life, thought Eowynhad been smashed. Books
had been ripped apart. And the bedclothes had been dragged from
Eowyn hated to see books damaged. She stooped and picked one
up, smoothing its pages flat. Love Potions, she read on
its cover. A handful of pages had been torn out of it.
She shook her head. "What could he have been looking for?"
she asked Legolas, placing the book on the bed. "In such
a frenzyand with so much malice?"
The sitting room and the bathing room were in the same condition.
The culprit had even smashed the plant pots on the small balcony
outside the bedchamber window. "Perhaps someone saw him do
that?" she suggested.
"We can ask Golradir to make enquiries," said Legolas.
"I think the killer is afraid of us, meleth nín. Yes,
I think he is afraid."
As they walked back to his chambers, Legolas had a sudden thought.
"This shows us that the killer is still in Eryn Carantaur,"
he said, "so Haldir can return to the city. I would feel
much more comfortable if he were here, melmenya; he is far more
reliable than Golradir. Perhaps I should ride out"
"No!" said Eowyn, firmly. "You are tired. In fact,
you look exhausted, and not like an elf at all. Come with me!"
And she took him by the hand and led him up the stairs to his
She had had a bed made up for him in the shade of the carantaur
tree, and food laid out upon the table. "You have not eaten
since before the banquet yesterday," she said, "so Gimli
is joining us for a light meal, and you can tell him the good
news. Then, you are going to lie down for a few hours and rest,
whilst I am fitted for my gown."
Legolas shook his head. "Elves do not need as much rest"
Eowyn silenced him with a look.
Secretly he was enjoying the way she had begun to take care of
him. And he was hungry. He walked over to the tablethere
was bread and fresh butter, cooked meat for Gimli, cheeses and
cooked vegetables for himself and Eowyn, and lavender cakes.
"I asked Míriel to bring fruit bread," said
Eowyn, "but she said that lavender cakes were your particular
"How did she know that?"
Eowyn laughed. "She is your serving elleth, Legolas, and
she is in love with you. She knows everything there is to know
Legolas stared at her.
Eowyn wrapped her arms around his waist. "You really are
very innocent in some ways, my love"
"Ha-hmm," said an unmistakably dwarven voice. "Is
it safe to come up, or will I see something that will give me
nightmares for a week?"
"It is safe, Gimli. Come up," said Eowyn, "we
are waiting for you."
The three friends spent a pleasant hour or so, eating and drinkingGimli
had brought some dwarven aleand, by common agreement, Legolas
did not discuss the murder except to tell Gimli that they had
proved his innocence beyond any doubt. Then Eowyn enlisted Gimli's
help in persuading the 'crazy elf' to lie down and rest.
"You have scarcely rested or eaten for a week, to my certain
knowledge, lad," said Gimli. "And you have a very demandingertask
to perform tonight." Gimli winked at Eowyn as he pushed Legolas
towards the improvised bed. "Just lie down beneath the tree
and make your lady happy," he whispered.
Legolas smiled and, for once, did as he was told.
The seamstress, Valaina, was waiting for Eowyn in Legolas' sitting
As soon as Eowyn entered, Valaina called for Míriel, and
together they helped her into the gown she would be wearing for
the 'coronation' ceremony that evening.
Eowyn had never seen anything like it. The cloth was woven from
threads of softly glowing mithril but the gown was as light as
silk; it was embroidered all over with carantaur leaves and acorns
in pale gold, and the close fitting bodice, the full skirt, and
the wide sleeves were all edged with delicate mithril lace.
Eowyn looked in the mirror. Gods! I look like one of the faery
folk, she thought. Let us hope I am not called upon to fight tonight!
The bodice was loose around the waist; Valaina pulled and tucked
and pinned the fabric until she was confident she could make it
fit Eowyn's human figure. Then, with Míriel's help, she
removed the gown, and began to make the alterations, sewing quickly
Legolas lay on his makeshift bed.
He had drawn back the canvas sunshade that Eowyn had thoughtfully
providedWomen, he thought, are afraid of Anorand
was looking through the canopy of carantaur leaves to the sky.
The pattern of red leaves against the backdrop of bright blue
was beautifulThe second most beautiful thing I have seen
today, he thought, and could not stop himself grinning like
He still could not believe that the Valar had given him his heart's
A light footstep disturbed his pleasant thoughts, and he looked
towards the staircase.
"My lord?" said a quiet but confident voice.
Legolas sat up and swung his legs off the bed. "Lady Lessien,"
he said, "pleasecome and sit in my garden." He
indicated a seat by the table.
Lessien walked slowly, her head bowed. She is troubled,
thought Legolas. "If you are here to 'prepare' me for the
rite," he said, "I can assure you, my lady, that that
will not be necessary"
"No my lord!" Lessien blushed.
Legolas eyed her, curiously. "Am I right, Lady Lessien,
in thinking that you find theerthe business of preparation
as unacceptable as I do?"
"Indeed I do, my lord. In fact..."
"Shortly before she died, the Mistress of the Ceremony ended
my noviciate for precisely that reason, my lord. So if you would
prefer to have someone else officiate tonight..."
"I can think of no one to whom I would rather entrust the
rite, my lady," said Legolas, sincerely. He paused. "But
if you are not here toto do that, then why are you
"It may be nothing, my lord but, when I heard what happened
this morning, I thought that I should tell you: last night, I
happened to see the Mistress of the Ceremony preparing the Celebrant's
Potion." She hesitated.
"I am no expert, my lord. Indeed, I have not yet prepared
the Celebrant's Potion myself, but I believe she was adding extra
ingredients to it. I do not know exactly what she added, nor what
effect it might have had on you, my lordor whether she may
have tampered with the Lady's Potion as well."
Legolas startedhad that elleth poisoned Eowyn? "Why
would she do that?" he asked.
"I do not know, my lord. But I suggest that you and your
lady both see the healer as soon as you can."
Eowyn waited, feeling most uncomfortable being idle whilst Valaina
worked, untilat lastthe seamstress seemed satisfied.
"My lady," she said, "would you like to try it
This time, the gown fitted perfectly.
"You look lovely, melmenya!"
The gentle voice sent shivers down Eowyn's spine. She turned
to see Legolas smiling at her, his beautiful face radiant, and
she offered up a prayer of thanks to the gods for creating this
elf and for making her his lady.
"I am afraid we do not have much time, Master Dínendal,"
said Legolas. "The banquet begins in an hour."
He had described the ingredients Lessien had seen the Mistress
of the Ceremony adding to the potionthe uil fronds,
the aeglos root and the ground alfirin petalsand
the willow twig whisk.
"None of those substances in themselves is harmful my lord,"
said Dínendal. "Indeed, they are all used to promote
healthalfirin petal in particular, though it would normally
be administered in a fraction of the quantity. And willow bark,
I believe, is used by Men to cure the headache. But, when used
in combination with whatever else might have been in the potion,
I do not know what effect these things might have. Let me examine
you, my lord."
Dínendal checked Legolas' eyes and ears and smelled his
breath, then counted his pulse and checked his heartbeat.
"You appear to be in good health, my lord. No sign of any
poisoning. My lady?"
He checked Eowyn's eyes and her mouth, and the tips of her fingers,
pinching them and watching the colour return. Then he wrapped
his hand gently around her wrist and counted her pulse.
He blushed slightly. "With your permission, my lady?"
Eowyn nodded, and he placed his hand upon her breast, and checked
"You appear to be in perfect health, too, my lady, though
I confess I know far less about the bodies of Women. But there
is one more test I would like to perform on you, and for that
I would need,"Dínendal hesitated and cleared
his throat"a sample of water."
Legolas smiled; the healer was normally perfectly business-like
about such matters, but Eowyn clearly made him nervous.
"Oh," said Eowyn, smiling, "I see; well, perhaps"
"Perhaps tomorrow?" said Legolas.
"Of course, my lord," agreed Dínendal. "An
early morning sample will be the most informative," he added,
An hour later, Legolas led his Harvest Queen into the banqueting
hall of Eryn Carantaur.
Walking slowly round the table, the couple greeted each of their
guests in turn. Eowyn smiled bravely at friends old and newAragorn
and Arwen and the Queen's twin brothers; Gimli and his dwarven
companions; Prince Imrahil; and Lords Caranthir, Fingolfin and
Haldir, she noticed, had still not returned from the borders.
When they reached the lower end of the table Eowyn faced the
dozen disappointed ellith, and their families, with her shoulders
squared and her chin raised, like a true shieldmaiden of Rohan,
but with a smile of genuine warmth on her face.
Legolas presented each of the elves to her in turn, including
the infamous Angaráto, and Eowyn found herself feeling
sorry for the subdued elleth standing beside him, whom he introduced
as his daughter.
When all the guests had been properly greeted, Legolas led Eowyn
to the centre of the threshing floor and seated her on the leftmost
of two ornate thrones standing on a low platform.
Tonight, thought Eowyn, he looks regal. His hair
was not dressed in his usual warrior's style, but like a king,
with the sides swept back and caught behind in a single intricate
braid; he wore a delicate silver circlet; and his robe, which
matched Eowyn's dress, was embroidered all over with ears of corn.
His face seemed to glow in the candlelight.
Legolas waited for the noise to subside, then made his difficult
announcement: "Friends," he said, informally, "some
of you will already have heard that the Mistress of the Ceremony
died this morning." There were murmurs, some of surprise,
some of acknowledgement. "My Counsellors and I have nevertheless
decided that the Harvest Ceremony should continue, and I invite
you all to remain in Eryn Carantaur to witness the remaining rites.
Lady Lessien,"he gestured towards the elleth waiting
at the edge of the threshing floor,"has agreed to officiate.
"As the circumstances of the Mistress of the Ceremony's
death must be investigated," he continued, "I ask you
all to assist me tomorrow, when either Lord Fingolfin or I will
speak to you about anything you may have noticed last night. I
assure you that everything you say will be treated in the strictest
There were a few moments of uncomfortable silence, and Eowyn's
heart began to pound. What if they refuse to stay? she
wondered. What if they are concerned for their own safety?
What if the elves feel that the rite has been ruined?
But then Aragorn rose to his feet. "I, for one, will be
happy to co-operate in any way I can," he said.
The atmosphere changed immediatelyothers made similar declarations,
the guests started to relax, and soon the hall was filled once
more with the normal hubbub of a banquet.
Eowyn sighed with relief for Legolas.
At a sign from Lady Lessien, a group of musicians, sitting on
the small balcony above the hall's main entrance, played a short
fanfare, and the guests fell silent once more. Lessien and two
attendants walked slowly to the centre of the floor.
"Please stand, my lady," she said softly.
"My Lord," said Lessien loudly, "have you chosen
a lady worthy of this realm?"
"Then I call upon all present," she said, "to
witness that Legolas Thranduilion, Lord of Eryn Carantaur, has
taken Eowyn, daughter of Eomund, Princess of Rohan, as his Harvest
She joined their hands; the guests murmured their assent.
"Repeat after me, my lord," said Lessien, "My
heart is your heart."
"I love you, Eowyn," Legolas whispered, then added,
loudly, "my heart is your heart."
Lessien motioned one of her attendants to step forward with her
red velvet cushion. The elleth presented Legolas with a delicate
silver circlet of carantaur leaves.
"Crown your lady, my lord, and say, My crown is your crown."
Legolas carefully placed the circlet on Eowyn's head, and declared,
"My crown is your crown."
"Now enthrone your lady, my lord, and say, My throne is
Legolas took Eowyn's hand, elven fashion, led her to the throne,
and waited for her to sit. "My throne is your throne."
A fanfare filled the hall and the guests cheered.
Lady Lessien called forward her second attendant, who presented
Legolas with a mithril goblet. Legolas raised it to his lips and
took a sip, then passed it to Eowyn, who also took a sip, and
then gave it back to the elleth.
The musicians played a final fanfare; the guests cheered, and
some applauded. Eowyn looked around the table and was relieved
to see that even the disappointed families seemed to be joining
"Sing, Legolas," cried one of the twins.
"Yes, sing! Sing!" called several of the other guests.
Legolas nodded to the musicians, who waited for silence before
beginning to playa haunting melody floating over a web of
soft, shimmering notesthat filled Eowyn with a feeling of
profound longing. Then Legolas began to sing, weaving his beautiful
alto voice over and under and through the melody, like a thread
of pure gold.
A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath!
o galadhremmin ennorath,
Fanuilos, le linnathon
nef aear, sí nef aearon!
O Elbereth Star-kindler
Sparkling down like jewels
Glory of the star-host!
Far distant having gazed
From tree-tangled mid-lands,
Fanuilos, to thee I chant
From this side of the Ocean!