It was frustrating to have to write it all down, but Eowyn
knew that Aragorn would not have let her speak, even had she been
able. She indicated that she needed more space than her wax tablet
provided, and Legolas found her some blank parchment.
She gathered her thoughts.
Lady Lessien saw the Mistress of the Ceremony adding extra ingredients
to the potion Legolas drank on the first night of the harvest
ceremony, she wrote.
The rest of the company was surprised and concernedthey
had not known about the potion.
Legolas held up his hands. "I have been examined by Master
Dínendal and appear to be none the worse for it,"
When Legolas and I searched the elleth's chambers, I found
a book lying on the floor. It was called Love Potions and
some of its pages were missing. I assumed that the murderer had
torn it accidentally, or through malice, but now I think that
it was what he was looking for.
"It contained the recipe she used?" asked Fingolfin.
Eowyn nodded. I think so.
I think that Angaráto either bribed or threatened her,
and that she agreed to alter the potion.
"To make Lord Legolas choose Alatáriël,"
said Fingolfin. "But she did not do it."
Or it did not work.
"I think the Valar had a hand in that," said Legolas,
squeezing Eowyn's hand.
"Indeed, my lord," agreed Fingolfin.
Angaráto must have been angry. He must have told her
to meet him in the banqueting hall.
"She may have thought she was safe in a public place,"
said Aragorn. "But we were all sleeping too heavily to help
He must have lost his temper, because he attacked her with
one of the candlesticks.
Or perhaps she attacked him?
"I would not put that past her," said Legolas. "She
was strong-willed. She would not have grovelled."
"But in the end he strangled her," said Aragorn. "It
must have been a crime of passion, because he took an enormous
riskany one of us could have woken up and seen him. There
must have been some noise."
The servant must have seen him. But why did she not shout for
Then Eowyn wrote rapidly, and Legolas cried out, simultaneously,
"The third person!"
"Eowyn and I originally thought there was a third person
involved," he explained. "The third person could have
attacked the servant and silenced her whilst Angaráto was
murdering the Mistress of the Ceremony."
"So," said Aragorn, "we have the start of a convincing
case against Angaráto, especially if the servants confirm
that he was not in bed at the time of the murder. I would suggest
that you arrest him and question him closely, mellon nín,"
he said to Legolas.
"And his daughter," said Fingolfin.
"Do you think she was the third person?" asked Legolas.
He had never liked Alatáriël, but he found it hard
to imagine her as a murderer.
"I do not know, my lord," said Fingolfin, "but
when we questioned her, she appeared to be in a state of shock."
"Captain Golradir" Legolas began.
"A moment, my lord," said Caranthir. "There is
the final part of the rite to consider." He looked around
the table, "Would it be too great a risk to wait until after
Lord Legolas has performed the rite? We could assign some of the
palace guard to watch Angaráto and his daughter until the
guests haveerrelaxed, then Captain Golradir could
look for an opportunity to arrest them discreetly."
"It is too risky," said Haldir, looking at Eowyn, "he
is as slippery as an eel"
"He will not touch her again, mellon nín," said
"It must be your decision, my lord," said Fingolfin.
"Lord Caranthir is right," said Legolas, after a moment's
thought, "we must avoid tainting the rite any further. Do
as he suggests, Golradir, but if an opportunity arises to arrest
Angaráto quietly, before the banquet, take it. Now I suggest
that we all prepare ourselves for this evening."
The final part of the Harvest Ceremony began officially at eight
o'clock, when Legolas led Eowyn into the banqueting hall. Several
of the guests clapped their hands as he seated her on the throne
beside his own, at the head of the table.
Angaráto and his daughter were sitting together, at the
far end of the table, near the main entrance. So Golradir did
not get the chance to arrest them before the banquet, Eowyn
thought. I do hope he has guards covering the door. She
looked discreetly round the hall, trying to spot the guards, but
they were too well disguised, or they were elsewhere.
Trying to dispel her feelings of anxiety, Eowyn scanned the rest
of the guests. They all seemed happy. Several had changed placesa
beautiful elleth was now seated next to Gimli, and was gazing
at him with unconcealed affection. Elladan and Elrohir had placed
an extra chair between them and were entertaining a guest of their
own; Eowyn recognised the young woman as Arwen's lady's maid.
Well, she thought, they have found themselves a woman,
and now they are treating her like a princess!
"Those orcs," said Legolas. "I had better rescue
"No, my love," said Eowyn, placing a restraining hand
on his arm, "I know Richardis. She is a strong, forthright
young woman and would not be with them if she did not choose to
be. Arwen does not seem concerned. And every woman should have
an elven loveror twoonce in her life," she added.
Legolas smiled, and kissed her hand.
"Can you see Captain Golradir's guards?" Eowyn whispered.
"Good, I was beginning to worry."
"Will you have some roasted vegetables, Princess Eowyn?"
came a deep, resonant voice from Eowyn's left.
She turned, "Thank you, Prince Imrahil," she said,
grateful that Aragorn's soothing draught had restored most of
her own voice. Then, because Imrahil always liked to talk, she
asked, "Have you visited Eryn Carantaur before?"
"No," he said, with a pointed glance at Legolas, "this
is the first time I have been invited."
Eowyn was surprised. Change the subject, she thought. "Are
you enjoying the festival?"
"It has been most interesting, my lady. Though I was surprised
to see you taking such a prominent part in it."
"Faramir sent me here alone, Prince Imrahil," said
Eowyn, firmly, "knowing much more about the rite than I did.
But I must admit, my role has been something of a surprise to
me, too." She smiled at the elf on her right, but Legolas
was staring straight ahead.
"I believe it is considered a great honour for the husband,"
said Imrahil. "So let us leave it at that."
Eowyn spent the next hour in pleasant conversation with Imrahil,
who was something of a raconteur, butto her surpriseLegolas
resisted all her attempts to draw him into the conversation.
As the serving ellith entered the hall bearing dessert, Captain
Golradir took the opportunity to slip by unnoticed and report
briefly to Legolas: "We have found the scullery maid, Maranwë,
"Is she alive?"
"Yes, my lord."
"Thank the Valar! Where was she?"
"She had been hidden in one of the caves near Doro Lanthron,
my lord. She was blindfolded, and chained to a rock. She says
she did not see her attacker clearly, but that he told her he
was going to take her back to his estate with him."
"So he was from outside the city. Did she see the murder?"
"I believe so, my lord, though I have not asked her for
any details. I thought you would want to question her yourself.
With the lady." He indicated Eowyn.
Legolas nodded. "Did he harm her?"
"She has a wound on her head, my lord, but Master Dínendal
has examined her and says that she should suffer no lasting harm.
And she is tired and hungry; the cook is feeding her now, my lord."
"Thank you, Golradir, this is most welcome news," said
And he turned to tell Eowyn, but she was still talking to that
ingratiating orc, Imrahil.
At length, the meal was over.
The musicians played a fanfare, and Lady Lessien and six attendants
carried wooden trays, laden with objects wrapped in brightly coloured
gauze, to the centre of the threshing floor.
"It is time to perform the gift-giving, meleth nín,"
said Legolas to Eowyn.
Starting at the head of the table, the couple greeted each guest
in turn and presented him or her with a gift. For the men and
elves there were bottles of fragrant port wine; for the dwarves
there were stone jugs of mead; and for the ladies there were bottles
of perfumed oil, carefully blended from the pressed seeds of local
fruits and berries. Eowyn did not think she had ever seen anyone
more pleased to receive a gift than Richardis, especially when
the twins promised to help her apply the oil.
The couple was so engrossed in the gift-giving that neither of
them noticed Alatáriël becoming more and more agitated,
and Legolas was taken completely by surprise when, as he handed
her the gauze-wrapped bottle, the elleth suddenly slapped him
across the face.
"No!" she cried, "No! I will not take that
from you! You, who should be mine! How dare you choose her? That
woman? I have seen what happens to them! They shrivel,
and their breasts sag, and their teeth fall out! They dry up and
they die! They are disgusting! Disgusting!
"You were supposed to choose me! It was all arranged! But
that stupid Mistress of the Ceremony..."
She turned to her father.
"You! You did not pay her enough. I should have known I
could not rely on you! You said he would be mine!"
And she picked up a candlestick and lunged at Legolas.
A cry of horror went up from the guests; Haldir rose to his feet;
Gimli grasped his axe; Golradir's guards ran forward, but the
shieldmaiden was faster than any of them. With a single efficient
movement she drew her sword and pressed the point against the
elleth's throat, holding her back from Legolas.
"If you ever try to harm my lord again," she
said, icily, "I will kill you."
"Captain Golradir," cried Legolas, recovering quickly,
"arrest Angaráto and his daughter and keep them under
guard. I will deal with them after we have completed the rite."
Angaráto tried to protest his innocence, but Legolas waved
"Now, my friends," he continued, "let us finish
the gift-giving and perform the final part of the rite. And let
us pray that the Valar still see fit to bless our colony, and
dol not hold against the rest of us the actions of these two wicked
Legolas slid Eowyn's gown off her shoulders. It will be difficult
to make love, he thought, even to her, after what has just
"My lord," said Lady Lessien, softly, "I have
made the potion slightly stronger tonight, to help you put the
unpleasantness behind you."
"Thank you, Lessien," said Legolas, "I could not
have chosen a better officiant."
Lessien smiled gratefully. "Repeat after me, my lord..."
The guests applauded enthusiastically, then fell to performing
their own rites with equal vigour.
Gods, thought Legolas, if she had made it any stronger
I would have killed us. And I am still so hard it hurts.
He turned to Eowyn. She was lying curled beside him and his heart
twisted in sudden fear. "Are you all right, meleth nín?"
he asked anxiously, "did I hurt you?"
She raised her head; her face was wet with tears.
"I did," he wailed. "I am so sorry, melmenya!"
But she pressed her hand to his mouth and shook her head.
"She is right," she said.
"Who is right, meleth nín?"
"I will age, Legolas; I am no longer the young girl
I was when we first met, and soon I will age, and my body will
shrivel and sag, and you will no longer want to make love to me"
"Eowyn," he whispered, "since the day we met I
have wanted no one but you. I have lain with no one but you."
She stared at him; he shook his head. "No, no one in three
years, meleth nín. Once an elf gives his heart, he is faithful
"I do not know the answer, meleth nín. But I do know
that it was the Valar who gave you to me. And I trust them to
show us the way. We will be happy, melmenya; I know we will."
Eowyn smiled; it was a shaky little smile, but a smile nonetheless.
"I am sorry, meleth nín, but I need"
She silenced him with a kiss and a loving caress. "I know,
my beloved elf," she whispered, her fingers stroking him
gently. "And you did not hurt me beforethough you nearly
killed me! But," she added, brushing her lips across his
ear, "I will gladly risk death with you again..."
The following morning, Míriel was sent to the kitchen
to order breakfast for ten in Legolas' garden.
The kitchen was buzzing with talk of Lady Eowyn's swordsmanship
the night before. Several elves and serving ellith had gathered
around Captain Golradir, who was not normally a morning person,
to hear in detail how Lady Eowyn had drawn her sword"She
is almost fast enough to join my guards,"and threatened
to kill Alatáriël if she so much as looked
at Lord Legolas again. "Then I arrested the pair of them,"
"Did you know that Lady Eowyn was such a swordswoman?"
"Oh yes," said Míriel. "In fact, I am the
one she asked to fetch her sword."
Legolas and Eowyn welcomed Aragorn and Arwen, Fingolfin, Caranthir
and his wife, Haldir, and Gimli and his young elleth friend, to
breakfast in Legolas' garden.
It was pleasant, after the worries of the past two days, to relax
and share light-hearted conversation, and the friends were enjoying
their meal when Arwen suddenly excused herself and hurried down
the stairs. Aragon rose to follow her, but Eowyn, suspecting the
truth, said, "No, Aragorn, let me."
She found Arwen in the bathing room.
"Are congratulations in order?" she asked, smiling.
"Yes," said Arwen and, despite her obvious queasiness,
she smiled too.
"I am so happy for you, Arwen."
"Thank you. But please do not tell anyone. I have asked
Estel to keep it secret. I am mortal now and the healer at Minas
Tirith tells me that things sometimes go wrong in the first three
months of a Woman's pregnancyand though we do not know if
that applies to me, if the worst were to happenwell, I would
rather no one knew."
"Of course," said Eowyn, sympathetically, "I understand.
But may I at least tell Legolas? You are like a sister to him
and he will be concerned."
Arwen smiled. "Yes," she said, "but swear him
"Lie down and get some rest," said Eowyn, guiding her
to the bed. "You are near the bathing room if you need it
and, when breakfast is over, I will send Aragorn to take you back
to your own chambers."
"Thank you, Eowyn."
Eowyn climbed back up to the garden.
"The Queen is slightly indisposed," she said.
"Should I send for Master Dínendal?" asked Legolas.
"No, my love, it is not that sort of illness," said
Eowyn. And she smiled at Aragorn, and Aragorn smiled back at her.
Legolas convened his Inner Council to try Angaráto and
Alatáriël, and asked Aragorn to preside. The trial
was open to the public, and Eowyn and Gimli sat together at the
front of the crowd.
"Master Angaráto," said Aragorn, "you are
charged with the murder of the Mistress of the Ceremony, the attempted
murder of Lady Eowyn, and a grievous assault on the scullery maid,
Maranwë. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty," said Angaráto.
"Alatáriël, daughter of Angaráto, you
are charged with being an accessory to the murder of the Mistress
of the Ceremony, an accessory to the attempted murder of Lady
Eowyn, an accessory to the grievous assault on the scullery maid
Maranwë, and with an attempted assault on Lord Legolas. How
do you plead?"
The elleth said nothing.
"You must answer the charges," said Aragorn. "How
do you plead?"
"She is not guilty," said Angaráto.
"She must plead herself."
Angaráto gently shook his daughter and she mumbled something
unintelligible. Aragorn decided to proceed.
"Call the first witness," he said.
Lady Lessien described seeing the Mistress of the Ceremony adding
extra ingredients to the Celebrant's Potion.
The healer, Master Dínendal, described examining the book
found in the Mistress of the Ceremony's chamber. Though the page
containing the recipe had been torn out, Dínendal had found
enough information in the appendices to work out the effect the
potion had been intended to have.
"The potion Lady Lessien told us about was, in fact, one
half of a pair of potions," he explained. "One is given
to the lady, andby some mechanism I do not understand, your
Majestyis intended to make her attractive to the celebrant.
"The Celebrant's Potion is adulterated with uil fronds
to harness his sea longing, aeglos root to intensify his
visions, and a large quantity of ground alfirin petal,
which counteracts the soporific effects of the aeglos root."
"So the two potions were intended to ensure that Lord Legolas
chose a particular lady?" asked Aragorn.
"Yes, your Majesty," said Dínendal.
"But it does not appear to have been successful."
"No, your Majesty. As I say, I do not understand the mechanism
by which the attraction is supposed to work. It is magic rather
than healing. But perhaps the potion was not given to the elleth."
"Thank you, Master Dínendal."
Next, Maranwë was brought into the courtroom, and one of
Golradir's guards ushered her to the witness seat. The crowd gasped
when they saw the bandage around her head.
Aragorn tried to put her at her ease: "Good morning, Maranwë,
we all hope you are feeling better."
"Thank you, your Majesty," said Maranwë, without
a trace of nerves.
"Please tell the Council what you saw just before you were
Maranwë nodded. "I was running past the banqueting
hallI was lateand, as I passed the main entrance,
something caught my eye and I looked in. The Mistress of the Ceremony
was sitting by the table, facing the entranceshe was looking
straight at me. I saw an elleth behind her take up a candlestick
and swing it towards her head, and I tried to shout. But someone
hit me and I woke up blindfolded in the cave."
"Can you describe the elleth who used the candlestick?"
"I did not see her face properly, your Majesty, but she
was wearing a bright blue gown. It was beautiful,"Maranwë
illustrated her description with her hands"with the
neck scooped very low, and silver beads down the front, and the
skirt was full, and almost transparent"
"Alatáriël," murmured some of the crowd.
"You say your captor kept you blindfolded. Can you tell
us anything about him?"
"Yes, your Majesty. He smelled fishy."
Aragorn looked surprised. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, your Majesty. I scrub dishes; I know the smell of
"Thank you, Maranwë."
Next, Gelmir described waking up and seeing an elf throwing an
elleth over his shoulder and carrying her away.
"Do you see the elleth in the court room?" asked Aragorn.
"Yes, your Majesty." He pointed to Maranwë.
"Do you see the elf?"
Gelmir hesitated. "I cannot be sure, your Majesty."
Then Eowyn described how she had been attacked, the morning after
she had begun helping Legolas investigate the murder. She explained
that she had not seen her attacker's face but that he had a distinctive
smell, which she had not recognised at the time.
Haldir described disturbing the elf as he attacked Eowyn. "He
was wearing a cloak with a hood pulled down over his face, but
he was average height, quite heavily built, agile." He described
the bootlace that had been tied around Eowyn's neck and its metal
Finally, Lord Fingolfin recounted questioning Angaráto
and described his riding jerkin with its metal fobs and its fish
When all the evidence had been given, Aragorn asked Angaráto
if he had anything to say in his own defence. For a moment, it
looked as though Angaráto might protest his innocence.
But then he put his arm around Alatáriël's shoulders.
"My daughter is innocent," he said, "any guilt
Alatáriël was asked the same question, but did not
respond at all.
Aragorn turned to Legolas and his three counsellors.
"My lords, you have heard all the evidence," he said.
"How do you find Angaráto?"
"Guilty," said Finwë.
"Guilty," said Fingolfin.
"Guilty," said Caranthir.
Legolas nodded. "Guilty," he said.
"How do you find Alatáriël?"
"Yes, guilty," agreed Legolas.
"We may never know exactly what happened," said Aragorn,
summing up. "I suspect that after Alatáriël attacked
the Mistress of the Ceremony with the candlestick, Angaráto
was forced to silence her. And he kidnapped Maranwë to keep
her quiet, too. But I think he attacked Lady Eowyn to appease
his daughter. And perhaps they thought that, with his lady gone,
Lord Legolas would be forced to choose another.
"Angaráto and Alatáriël," he said,
"you will be kept in confinement until the Council of Eryn
Carantaur has decided on your punishment.
"The trial is now ended."
Several days later
It was a cool, crisp autumn morning.
"The weather has changed," said Eowyn as they walked
down the main stairway and towards the stables. "It will
soon be winter."
"Yes, melmenya," said Legolas. "Soon the nights
will be drawing in, and you will need someone to warm your bed
and keep you safe in the dark."
Eowyn smiled. "Do you know anyone who might do that for
me? Perhaps Captain Golradir could assign me one of his guardsagh!"
Legolas had punished her by slipping his arm around her waist
and squeezing, and they both laughed.
When they reached the stables, Aragorn, Arwen and their retinue
were almost ready to depart. Eowyn had travelled to Eryn Carantaur
with them and, although she had no doubts about staying with Legolas,
she felt a small twinge of regret that she would be saying goodbye
to her friends.
"Farewell, mellon nín," said Legolas
to Aragorn. "And thank you again for everything you have
done both for Eryn Carantaur and for meespecially,"
he added, glancing at Eowyn, "for restoring my lady to health."
Aragorn shook his head. "It was my pleasure," he replied.
"And do not forget that Arwen and I expect you both at Minas
Tirith to celebrate Yule." He leaned closer to Legolas. "I
apologise, mellon nín, for my earlier disapproval.
She is happier with you than I have ever seen her."
"You still care for her," said Legolas, softly, and
Aragorn smiled. "Rest assured, Aragorn, I will take good
care of her."
"As she will of you, my friend," replied Aragorn. "Your
people already love her and she makes a fine elven queen! I pray
that you will reach your agreement with Faramir, and that all
three of you will find the happiness you deserve. In the meantime,
you have my support in this."
Legolas placed his hand on his heart and bowed his head in a
formal gesture of thanks, but Aragorn embraced his friend and
slapped his back, Man-fashion, and the two smiled at each other,
"Good bye," said Eowyn to Aragorn.
"Good bye, Eowyn, take good care of him."
Eowyn smiled. "I shall."
Then the couple said their goodbyes to Arwen, and the twins,
and the great procession set off along the road out of Eryn Carantaur,
with four soldiers in the vanguard, followed by Aragorn riding
Hasufel, and Arwen on her pretty elven horse.
"Should she be riding in her condition?" asked Legolas.
"Shhhh," replied Eowyn.
Next, came Elladan and Elrohir, with Richardis riding between
That, thought Eowyn, will raise some eyebrows in Minas
And, finally, came the remainder of the Gondorian Guard, their
armour shining, and their pennants fluttering in the light breeze.
Legolas and Eowyn watched the procession until it disappeared.
"Any regrets, meleth nín?" asked Legolas.
"None at all," she replied.
And hand-in-hand they walked back to the main staircase.
Shortly after the King and Queen of Gondor's procession had left,
Arafinwë, the farmer from Doro Lanthron, his wife, Amarië,
and the couple's daughter, Eámanë, also set off for
"Thank you, Lord Gimli," said Arafinwë, "for
dealing with thatthat matter for me." He was referring
to Angaráto's 'protection'. "My neighbours and I will
always be honoured to offer you hospitality, my lord, whenever
you are in the neighbourhood of Doro Lanthron.
"And there is a certain young lady," he added, "who
will be very disappointed if we do not see you soon, my lord."
Eámanë bent, and tenderly kissed Gimli on the forehead,
then mounted her pony and set off with her parents. Gimli watched
the family until they reached the bend in the road, returning
the elleth's wave as she disappeared behind the trees.
She is fair, thought Gimli, and gentle and good, and perhaps
if I had never seen Lady Galadriel I might have spent the rest
of my days with her.
And he walked sadly back to the main staircase.
Eowyn glanced at herself in the full-length mirror. She was dressed
for travel, in leggings and boots and a green suede jerkin she
had borrowed from Lord Lenwë's son.
I look like a short Legolas! she thought.
She had come to her former chamber to pick up a few items for
the journey to North Ithilien, whilst Legolas was getting the
She took her hunting knife, a pair of gloves, a spare shift,
a box of toothpowder andthough she knew it was foolishthe
small jar of soothing salve that Legolas had given her when she
had first arrived, slipped them into her travelling pack, slung
it across her shoulders, and ran out onto the walkway and down
the main staircase to join Legolas.
But, as she reached the stable, she heard something that made
her stop, and step back into the shadow of the stable door.
"What did you think you were doing last night?"
"I was exchanging pleasantries with your lady." Eowyn
recognised the deep, resonant voice of Prince Imrahil. "She
is beautiful, clever, and a charming companion at dinner"
"Stay away from her," said Legolas.
"DO NOT TOUCH ME!"
"I am sorry."
"Just what do you plan to tell her?"
"Tell her? Why would I tell her anything?"
"If you try to turn her against me, I swear I will kill
Eowyn gasped, then clamped her hand over her mouth, guiltily.
"Wait, Legolas!" cried Imrahil.
But Legolas came striding out of the stable door and, not noticing
Eowyn, walked angrily into the forest.
She had followed him, cautiously, into a clearing, not far from
He was sitting on the trunk of a fallen tree, his head buried
in his hands but, at the sound of her voice, his head shot up
and he smiled... and Eowyn had never seen such relief on a face!
"Eowyn nín," he whispered, and stretched his
arms out to her.
Eowyn did not hesitate for a secondnot for one fraction
of one second. She wrapped her arms around him and crushed
him against her body.
Whatever had upset himwhatever had really passed between
him and Imrahilshe could trust him. She knew that. And she
knew that he would tell her everything, as soon as he was ready.