"Stance?" asked Legolas.
"Feet comfortable, shoulder-width apart, body upright,"
"Good. Now nock your arrowwhere are your drawing fingers?"
"At ninety degrees to the arrow, lightly touching the nock."
"Good. Raise your bow into the shooting position. Relax
the fingers of your bow handrelax themhow do
"With your elbow, feeling your shoulder blade move towards
"Good," said Legolas. "Draw to your anchor, keeping
your bow shoulder low and your drawing elbow level with your drawing
Her stance is perfect, he thought. He had had a bow of
the right size and weight made for her by one of his father's
best bow makers. It lacked the power of a Galadhrim bow like his
own, but was just right for an inexperienced archer. And,
he thought, admiring the dark polished wood, it is beautiful.
"Do you feel bone-to-bone contact between your index finger
and your cheek?" he asked.
"Yes," said Eowyn.
"Close your mouth!" he laughed. "Now, keep your
eye focussed on the targetpicture your arrow hitting it.
The arrow should almost loose itself when it is ready.
But do not relax until it hits the target!"
Eowyn held for a few moments longer, then loosed the arrow. It
hit the target with a satisfying thud, piercing it cleanly, a
fraction to the right of the centre.
Her technique is already good, thought Legolas. And
her aim is true. "Again!"
Eowyn took another arrow from her quiver, nocked it, raised her
bow, drew, and loosed. Her second arrow pierced the target less
than half an inch to the left of the first.
"Melmenya!" cried Legolas and, forgetting the professional
distance he tried to maintain when teaching her, he lifted her
off her feet and whirled her round and round.
And thenbecause her laughter was intoxicating and her body
was warm and soft under his handshe lowered her to the ground
and, kissing her mouth and neck, he unlaced her bodice. Eowyn
normally triedunsuccessfullyto avoid making love in
places where they might be seen, but today he could feel her little
hands working too, pulling at his lacings. And moments later he
was inside her.
"Oh! Oh, myoh!my bow," she gasped.
"Shhhhhh, melmenya," he whispered, "just this
once, I willahI will let you leave it lying
on the ground."
He carried herand her bowall the way from the practice
field to the foot of the staircase that curled its way up the
trunk of one of the mighty carantaur trees and into the very heart
of the city of Eryn Carantaur. But there, Eowyn's protests became
so colourful that he was forced to set her down and allow
her to climb the stairs by herself.
Halfway up the staircase they were met by Legolas' secretary,
hurrying down to find them. "A messenger has arrived from
Edoras, my lord, my lady," he said.
"Eomer is a father!" cried Eowyn, clapping her hands
"And you have a nephew, or a niece, melmenya."
"We have a nephew or a niece," said Eowyn, and
then she had to dodge his hands as he tried to lift her off her
There is nothing worse, she thought, than an affectionate
elf in high spirits.
But she certainly did not mean it.
Eofred, the messenger from Rohan, was waiting uncomfortably in
Legolas' private study.
He had visited Eryn Carantaur before, but only as an insignificant
part of Eomer King's retinueand not since Princess Eowyn
had been bewitched into running away from her husband and living
as the Elf King's paramour.
And she was such a nice, respectable lady before, he thought.
But now, they say, she has relations with him in full view
of his courtiersgods, will I be expected to watch them,
He touched the folded parchment in the inside pocket of his greatcoat.
Perhaps, if he could think of a good enough excuse, he could give
them the letter and leave immediately. But, even as the thought
occurred to him, he could hear their voices approaching the study
Eofred took a deep breath and prepared himself for the worst.
He was almost disappointed by what he saw. The Elf King was dressed
respectably in leggings, boots and a suede jerkin, the lady in
a simple forest green gown with a close-fitting bodice of green
suede, and they had clearly been practising archery because they
were both wearing leather bracers around their wrists.
"Good afternoon, Master Eofred," said the lady. "You
have some good news, I hope?"
"Yes, indeed, my lady," Eofred replied and, taken aback
by her use of his name, he clumsily withdrew Eomer King's letter
from his pocket.
"Thank you," she said, graciously, and, taking the
letter, she broke open the seal and read it excitedly. "A
boy!" she cried. "They have called him Elfwine, and
they want me to stand as one of his sponsors at his Naming Ceremony"
"That is wonderful, meleth nín."
"and Gimli is to be another, so we will be seeing
him again sooner than we thought!" She smiled at Legolas.
"The ceremony is to take place on the twenty-fifth day of
Hithuithat is only one month's timeinoh,
in Dol Amroth..." Her voice trailed away and Eofred saw her
look anxiously at Legolas.
The Elf King shook his head very slightly, and Eofred knew the
meaning of the look he gave her: We will talk later.
Then he said, "Will you stay the night, Master Eofred? I
believe there is some excellent game on the menu and, afterwards,
we will be joined by members of my Inner Council, and their families,
for a pleasant evening's entertainment."
An evening's entertainment? thought Eofred. Oh gods,
I am expected to watch! But how could he possibly refuse
such a gracious invitation? And from a king? "T-thank you
my lord," he stammered.
"Good," said Legolas. "I will have my secretary
show you to a guest chamber and my lady and I will collect you
at seven thirty and take you down to dinner."
Eowyn waited until the secretary had ushered Eofred from the
room, then turned to Legolas. "I can go to Dol Amroth alone,"
she said. "I would miss you terribly, but I would not mind
being there alone."
Legolas gave her one of his most sereneAnd, at this
moment, she thought, most exasperatingsmiles,
and said, "Let us bathe, melmenya. You were exerting yourself
on the practice field this afternoon, especially when you were
learning to extend your draw time. You need to relax your shoulder
and back muscles."
"We will talk in the bath, meleth nín."
He was uncharacteristically distant while they were undressingnot
touching her at alland by the time he turned to help her
climb into the water, Eowyn, who was used to being seduced in
the bathing room, was beginning to panic.
He waited until she was sitting down in the warm, scented water,
then he climbed in too, and sat beside her, still not touching
Then panic got the better of her.
She took his hand. I simply will not let go of him, she
thought. If I refuse to let go of his hand, what can he do?
And she started talking: "I have a confession to make my
love: a while ago, I overheard something. And perhaps I should
have asked you about it at the time, butwell, I thought
I would wait until you were ready to tell me yourself. Because
I do trust you, Legolas"
"Oh Valar," whispered Legolas, "what did you hear?"
"I heard you threatening Imrahil," she said.
"You said that if he tried to turn me against you, you would
kill him. How could he turn me against you, Legolas? He could
"Oh, Eowyn nín," Legolas whispered.
Eowyn looked up at him sharply. She had once accused him of calling
her 'Eowyn nín' only when he was feeling guilty.
He freed his hand, grabbed her waist and pulled her close, crushing
her hard against him, and he buried his face in her shoulder.
His body was shaking, and it took Eowyn a moment to realise that
he was sobbing.
"My love," she whispered, "tell me what is wrong."
"You will be disgusted"
"Never." She began to stroke his hair, gently. "Tell
She waited patiently and, eventually, Legolas began to talk, haltingly.
"When you and Faramir announced that you were to marryand
you were beyond my reach, melmenyaand the ache of sea-longing
was new to me and too much to bearI could not restand
I would spend my nights roaming around Minas Tirith and the encampment
Eowyn kept stroking his hair.
"I had met Imrahil shortly after you were injured, melmenya,
and had recognised the elven blood in his veins. And although
Gimli is the dearest friend an elf could wish for, I missed the
company of my own kind. And, one night, I found myself entering
Imrahil's tent..." His voice faltered.
Eowyn kissed the top of his head. "What happened?"
For a long while he did not answer and Eowyn continued to stroke
his hair, soothingly. Then he said, "It began as two comrades-at-arms
discussing past campaigns. He talked aboutwell, that is
not important, meleth nín. I talked about Helm's
Deep. And about youoh, I did not tell him of my feelings
for you. No one knew of those, save Gimli, who always seems to
know more about me than I know about myself"
Eowyn smiled into his hair.
"though Gimli said nothing. And it was such a relief
to talk to someoneI could not talk to Aragorn, not about
you, nor about anything else close to my heart, for his concerns
were so much greater than mineso I told Imrahil about the
sea longing, and my fears for my father and for Mirkwood, and
my plans for Eryn Carantaurthough the colony was nothing
but an idea thenand about you...
"And, gradually, I became more comfortable. I relaxed and
I fell into reverie. And I must have been truly exhausted, for
I passed from reverie into healing sleep, and I began to dream,
like a mortal."
"Legolas?" she whispered, "Legolas..."
and he awoke to find her poised over him, naked, her hair unbound
and falling in golden waves over his shoulders and his chest.
And she leaned forward, pressing her body closer, and licked
his ear, whispering his name, again and again, "Legolas,
Legolas..." And the caress of her breath against his neck
made his body ache with need. And, desperately, he pressed himself
into her warmth...
"When I awoke, Imrahil wastouching mecomforting
me, and although my heart and my spirit tried to stop him, melmenya,
my bodyhe seemed to know what my body likedand I lost
control..." He sobbed. "I lied to you, Eowyn."
"When, my love?" asked Eowyn, tears running down her
"I said I had lain with no one since I met you, meleth
nín; I am sorry."
"Shhhhhh. Shhhhhh, my love. You did not lie with
him. He touched you and your body responded." She cradled
him in her arms, rocking him, gently.
"Melmenya?" He lifted his head from her shoulder and
looked into her eyes. "Have you not suffered enough pain,
having a husband who betrayed you with another man"
"Legolas!" She pressed her fingers to his lips. "You
must not torture yourself on my account! What happened
between Faramir and meand Berengarwas an entirely
different matter. Faramir fell in love; it is part of his nature
to prefer a man..." She sighed at the memory of the pain
she had felt then. "You merely sought company and
Imrahil misunderstoodall that is important to me
is how you feel. How you feel in your heart and in your spirit."
Legolas hesitated. It was still a painful memory. "At the
time I felt unclean," he said. "And I felt guilty. I
felt that I was responsible for my own dishonour, because I had
allowed him to get too close. But mostly I felt betrayed. I had
trusted him as I would trust Aragorn, as I would trust Gimli.
I had enjoyed talking to him. I had thought we were friends. But
he must have thought that I wanted more because, afterwards, he
expected me toto do the same for him. But I would not. I
His voice faded away and he was silent for a few moments. Then
he added, very softly, "It seemed to me that the whole world
was different from what I had always thought it. And I began to
doubt myself, and to doubt others."
Eowyn nodded. She had heard a woman who had been taken by force,
by someone she knew well, describe very similar feelings. But
she did not think that observation would comfort Legolas.
"How did your spirit recover, my love?"
"Time passed," said Legolas. "And I threw myself
into building Eryn Carantaur. But I did not truly begin to heal
until that evening at Caras Arnen, when I found you sitting in
your garden, in the cold and dark. I had always loved you and,
when I saw your pain... My heart, which had been frozen for so
long, was shattered by your pain. And, after that, miraculously,
both my heart and my spirit began to heal."
"I love you Legolas," said Eowyn. "I fell in love
with you at that very same momentwhen you put your arms
around me, and sang to me, I felt happy for the first time inwell,
perhaps for the first time in my life. We are meant to be together,
Legolas, though mortal and immortal."
"Will you let me make love to you, melmenya?" he asked.
"Of course, my love; how can you ask?" she whispered.
And she kissed him, tenderly.
Afterwards, lying side by side on the bathing room floor, they
made several decisions.
First, Legolas would go with Eowyn to Dol Amroth.
Secondly, he would face Prince Imrahil. "I will talk to
him, meleth nín. I will tell him how I felt at the
time and how I feel now. I will apologise for my recent behaviour
towards him, but I will make it clear that he did me a great wrong."
Thirdly, Legolas would face the sea. "I have been anxious
for some time, melmenya, to confront my fear of it. You
will be with me, and I have not forgotten your promise to me."
He kissed her hand, and Eowyn, too, remembered the promise she
had given him the first time she had seen him truly in the grip
of sea longing: "I will not let you leave, Legolas! If
the sea should seduce you, or force you against your will, I will
sail after you and I will pull you backeven if you reach
Valinor I will find my way there and bring you back. And if the
gods turn me away from the undying lands, I will wait out to sea,
calling to you, until your senses return and you swim back to
me. I will not abandon you, Legolas. Not while there is breath
still left in my body!"
Together, they wrote to Eomer, expressing their joy at the birth
of his son, sending their best wishes to both mother and child,
and accepting his invitation to the Naming Ceremonythey
would send the letter to Edoras with Eofred on the morrow.
Then, as a courtesy, they also wrote to Imrahil, thanking him
in advance for his hospitality.
The following morning, as Eofred set out for Edoras, a messenger
arrived from Minas Tirith with a personal letter from Aragorn.
After seeing that the messenger was well taken care of, Legolas
opened the letter and began reading it aloud to Eowyn.
How is 'married' life treating you, Legolas? Any regrets
Legolas smiled at Eowyn and shook his head, then continued reading.
There were various anecdotes and small items of news, but the
main point of the letter came near the end:
I have a favour to ask of you, Legolas.
Arwen assures me that all is well with her and the unborn
child, but I am concerned that the royal healer, though very
skilled, has no experience of elves. Would your healer, Master
Dínendal, be willing to travel to Dol Amroth with you
to examine Arwen and to share his knowledge with her healer?
He strikes me as a person who would welcome an adventure and
the opportunity to learn from mannish healers.
I would be very grateful if you would arrange this for me,
"I am sure that Aragorn is rightMaster Dínendal
would be only too happy to come with us," said Legolas. "But
I have some concerns about taking any elf who is not already hearing
the sea's call so close to the sea. I will speak to him after
the Council meeting this morning."
Ten days later, Eofred had caught up with Eomer King's cavalcade
as it crossed Anorien on its way from Edoras to Dol Amroth, and
was describing to his wife, Prince Elfwine's nurse, the magical
evening he had spent in Eryn Carantaur.
"There is no formality there, my dear," he said. "The
Elf King and his lady escorted me to the banqueting hall themselves."
"What were they wearing?" asked his wife.
"Oh, I cannot describe clothes, my dear!"
"Yes, you can. Imagine you are describingwell, describing
a horse; what colours were they wearing?"
Eofred closed his eyes and tried to picture the couple. At the
time, he had been unsure which of them was the more beautiful,
though, of course, the lady had been more to his taste. "Lord
Legolas' tunic and leggings were a very pale grey silklike
those pearls your father included in your dowryand they
were embroidered with a pattern of leaves in a darker grey. His
boots were also dark grey andshaped."
"Like someone had taken leather leaves and wrapped them
round his legs."
"How strange! It must be an elvish fashion," said his
wife; he nodded. "What about Lady Eowyn?"
Eofred was warming to the task. "Lady Eowyn was wearing
an elven gownsoft and flowingof deep blue velvet with
autumn leavesyou know the colour leaves turn when they fall
from the trees and dry outpart way between brown and pink?
They were that colour. They were scattered all over it, as if
they were blowing in a breeze. They looked almost real. The elves
decorate everything with leaves," he added, "clothes,
curtains, bedclothes, furniture. Or they carve it to look like
flowing water. They love nature."
"Did Lady Eowyn seem happy?"
"Oh, yesand he worships her. You can see it."
"Wellgood. Though I did not hold with her leaving
her husband, she is a good lady at heart, and I am glad she is
happy. What is the city like?"
Eofred described the elegant wooden buildings nestling in the
branches of the massive trees, the walkways and bridges connecting
the flets, and the staircases spiralling down the tree trunks.
"It is beautiful," he said.
"No wonder the lady is happy there."
"We had to climb down one of the trees to get to the Banqueting
Hallit is on the ground, in a clearing beneath the main
city. The food was excellentand the wine even better!and
I ate my fill of roast venison, though I noticed that many of
the elves, including Lord Legolas and his lady, preferred to eat
vegetables and fruit."
"Why was that?"
"It seems that some elves think it is wrong to kill an animal
for food when there is fruit and vegetables available."
"Imagine that!" said his wife.
"I was sitting between Lady Eowyn and a very distinguished
elf, called Lord Fingolfin. He asked me lots of questions about
the Riders of the Mark. To the elves, my dear, we men seem strangefascinating!"
His wife laughed.
"Then, after the meal, we all went back to Lord Legolas'
chambersthe lord and his lady, Lord Fingolfin, Lord Caranthir
and his wife, and me. And we drank more wine and ate sweetmeats
and talked and had a merry time of it." The elves had been
warm and open, and had made him feel like an honoured guest. It
had been one of the best nights of his life.
He would hear no scurrilous talk of the Elf King and his lady
"Lord Legolas sangin the common tonguein my
honour," said Eofred.
"They say an elf will sooner sing than talk," said
his wife. "What was his voice like?"
"It was pure gold," said Eofred, smiling. "Pure
Legolas smiled as he watched Eowyn and Haldir, leaning over his
desk, pouring over Eowyn's orc map; at times like this, he was
so proud of her!
Since the fall of Sauron, small bands of orcs had been roaming
Middle-earth, attacking isolated settlements. When Eowyn had first
heard of itfrom the Guards of North Ithilienshe had
realised that the orcs were following a pattern, and thatby
tracking where they had beenit should be possible
to predict where they were going. So, for the best part of two
years, she had been seeking out information from border guards
and messengers and transcribing it onto a large map of North and
Her patient tracking had shown that, with no leader to direct
them, the orcs normally behaved like packs of wild dogsindividual
bands moved according to the season, staying within their own
territories and preying on livestock and the odd hapless traveller
but, occasionally, they would go marauding, sometimes joining
up with other bands, and then their attacks would become more
ambitious, and far more dangerous.
The trick was to spot the change of behaviour as soon as it started.
The Guards of North Ithilien had never taken Eowyn's orc map
seriously, but both Legolas and Haldir had immediately seen its
value and had encouraged her to maintain it. Their faith had been
rewarded two weeks previously when, based on Eowyn's predictions,
Haldir had quickly fortified one of the colony's more vulnerable
settlements and successfully repelled an orc raid.
What was concerning Eowyn now was a large band of orcs that had
spent the last two weeks slowly meandering along the Anduin towards
"They look like marauders, but they are taking their
time," she said, "so if we leave tomorrow we should
cross the Anduin safely without seeing them"
"Yes," agreed Haldir, "but it would still be wise
to have an additional escortperhaps two extra guards."
"Do you have anyone suitable?" asked Legolas. "I
do not want to expose anyone who is vulnerable to the call of
"I have several elves from Lorien and Imladris, all experienced
soldiers," said Haldir.
"Explain the danger to them and ask for volunteers,"
said Legolas. "I will not use anyone who is not fully aware
of the danger and willing to take the risk."
"Is Master Dínendal happy to take the risk?"
"Yes," said Legolas. "He is descended from the
Noldor. And, even if he were not, I get the impression that he
would be willing to risk the fires of Mount Doom for the chance
to travel to Dol Amroth and converse with all the healers he will
meet there." He smiled, sadly.
"You cannot protect everyone, my love," said Eowyn.
The following day, six elves and one woman set off from Eryn
Carantaur on the long journey to Dol Amroth. Haldir was in the
vanguard with one of his most experienced warriors. Then came
Legolas, Eowyn and the healer, Master Dínendal. Finally,
at the rear, came the two volunteers from Imladris.
Let us hope they all return to the forest untainted by sea
longing, thought Legolas, for even Eowyn would have a hard
task dragging all six of us back from Valinor.
And, despite himself, Legolas laughed out loud.