The search parties returned at dusk, empty
Aragorn called a meeting to discuss their progress,
and was told that although they had covered a good two-thirds
of the city, that still left some of the more unsavory neighbourhoods
"We will continue tomorrow, at first light," he said.
"Eowyn and I will join you, mellon nín,"
said Legolas. "I would have expected a ransom demand by now,"
he added, quietly, "if money had been the motive. But since
there has been no communication"
"You are wondering what anyone would want with an elf. So
am I," admitted Aragorn. "If we could work that out,
it might also tell us where to look."
"Perhaps there is another way to narrow down the search,"
said Eowyn, thoughtfully.
"What are you thinking, melmenya?" asked Legolas.
"The elfsbane," said Eowyn. "I assume it
is not commonthen where did the kidnapper get it? Was it
supplied by someone in Dol Amroth? If so, perhaps we can question
him andumpersuade him to reveal the buyer."
"Well reasoned," said Aragorn, and the others murmured
in agreement. "We need someone with good local knowledge,"
he continued. "Your steward, perhaps, Prince Imrahil."
The steward was summoned.
"As you know, Master Reimar," said Imrahil, "one
of my guests has disappeared. We believe he was overpowered using
a rare substance called elfsbanea poison that affects
only elves. With your knowledge of the merchants of Dol Amroth,
can you think of anyone who couldand wouldsupply elfsbane
to the kidnapper?"
Master Reimar thought for a moment. "There are more than
twenty apothecaries operating in the city, my lord, andthough
I have not used all of themI have no reason to suspect that
any of them are other than honest, respectable men and women.
But I will make some enquiries."
He turned to address the company more generally. "Dol Amroth
is a crossroads, my lords, my lady. The sea brings merchandise
here from all over Middle-earth, so it might be worth searching
the docks. There is a merchant there who specialises in rare and
exotic elixirs, but most of them come from Far Harad and beyond,
where elves are unknown, so I doubt that he was the supplier.
But, still, he may be able to direct you elsewhere.
"I am sorry to be of so little help, my lords," he
"No, no, Master Reimar," said Imrahil. "You have
been most helpful. Please let me know the results of your enquiries
as soon as possible."
The Steward bowed to the company, and turned to leave but, as
his hand touched the door, he suddenly turned back. "My lords,"
he said, "I have heard talk amongst the kitchen maidsfanciful-sounding
talk, my lords, but there may be some grain of truth in
itof a shop hidden in the southern region of the city where
a girl may obtain,"he glanced apologetically at Eowyn"herbs
that will dispose of her unborn child. They say that the shop
can only be found by those who already know where it is..."
"Talk to the girls, Master Reimar," said Imrahil. "Find
out where that shop is, as quickly as possible. And, Master Reimar,
tell them thatin futureif any girl should find herself
in that condition, she is to go straight to the palace
healer, instead of taking the-gods-know-what poisons!"
Imrahil shook his head. "Why do they do it?"
"Because they have been abandoned by the father, are afraid
their families will disown them, and are desperate, my lord,"
said Eowyn, quietly.
Legolas squeezed her hand.
Imrahil nodded, thoughfully. "Well," he said, "it
He turned to Aragorn. "We can do no more today, your Majesty.
May I suggest we eat, and retire early, so we that can move immediately
tomorrow, once we have more information."
Wolfram had slipped out at dusk and borrowed a handcart,
complete with two boxes of vegetables, that some unfortunate farmers
boy had left for a moment outside the greengrocer's on Raven Lane.
Early in life, Wolfram had discovered that the way to do things
unseen was to do them openly, so he had pushed the handcart confidently,
straight to the market place, then down Broad Street and into
the alley at the back of Herzogs shop.
Herzog was waiting for him, with Elladan already wrapped in an
Wolfram placed the elf on the cart and covered him with vegetables.
"I will return tomorrow for my advance," he said.
Then he wheeled the cart back down Broad Street, back through
the market place, and right up to the castle gatehouse. A few
casual glances told him that no one was paying him any particular
attention, so he dumped the handcart beside the gates and, keeping
close to the castle wall, left the city through Dinham Gate.
He would enter the castle by his usual route, through the drains
and the privy shaft, and spend the night choosing his next victim
and learning as much about him as possible.
And who knows, he thought, I may even get another look
at the woman.
The handcart had been standing outside the castle gates for at
least half an hour.
The problem was that Torul was not sure how or when it had got
there. It had certainly not been there before he slipped out to
use the privy, but whether it had appeared then, or later, when
he was making himself a pot of tea, he could not be sure. What
he did know was that if the Captain of the Guard found
out about it, he would be in real trouble. Especially if he happened
to get flustered whilst trying to explain himself and accidentally
mention the words privy or tea...
His only hope was his comrade, Konrad, who should be coming in
to relieve him at any moment. Once Konrad was on watch, he could
slip out, examine the handcart and, if it seemed harmlesswhich
he was sure it waspush it further away into the market place...
As he was formulating this plan, his relief arrived. "What
on Middle-earth is that handcart doing out there?" Konrad
He misses nothing, thought Torul. "That is what I am just
about to find out," he said, bristling with efficiency.
"Do you want a hand?"
"No, it is probably just an empty cart. I will push it away."
"How did it get there..." Konrad asked, but Torul had
already stepped outside, and could pretend that he had not heard.
A pleasant night, but a bit chillyno clouds, he
thought, rubbing his hands together as he approached the handcart.
Now why would someone leave a load of potherbs outside the
castle? He looked more closely at the back of the cart.
The moon was bright in the cloudless sky and he could see quite
clearly that there was something under the vegetablessomething
wrapped in an old blanket.
He leaned over and prodded the something, thinking, What in
Then he pulled his hand back as if he had been burned.
The something had groaned.
Elladan, still only semi-conscious, was carried to his apartment
and laid on the bed.
Aragorn and Elrohir waited anxiously in the adjoining sitting
room, with Legolas and Eowyn, whilst Master Dínendal gave
Elladan a thorough examination.
At length, the healer came out of the bedchamber, closing the
door quietly behind him.
"He is in healing sleep at the moment, my lords, and should
remain so for perhaps another twenty-four hours. It will help
clear the remainder of the poison from his body."
"How is he?" asked Aragorn.
"In remarkably good health, your Majesty, considering what
he has endured. Whoever administered the poison knew exactly what
he was doing. When he wakes he should be fully recoveredfrom
the poisoning, at least."
"What do you mean, Master Dínendal? Has he said something?"
"He remained unconscious throughout the ordeal, your Majesty,"
said Dínendal, "but he does have two memoriesit
might be better to call them impressions. First, he remembers
being overpowered, with a knee pressing down upon his chestand
he has a large bruise, just below the breast bone, to confirm
it. Secondly..." Dínendal glanced uncomfortably at
Eowyn. "Perhaps you would rather not hear this, my lady,"
he said, softly.
"You know you can speak openly in front of Lady Eowyn, Dínendal,"
said Legolas, sternly.
Dínendal blushed. "Yes, my lord, it is just thatvery
well, my lord. Lord Elladan has the impression that he was...
"Molested?" said Aragorn. He looked at Elrohir.
"Yes, your Majesty; he believes that someone," Dínendal
cleared his throat, and glanced at Eowyn again, "someoneerstole
his seed. And his leggings were unlaced, my lords, when I came
to examine him and there is indeed some abrasion, quite severe
"Dear gods," whispered Eowyn.
The friends sat in silence for a moment, stunned by Dínendals
Then Aragorn said, "The healing sleep will help him. Elrohir,
you stay with him, in case he wakes during the night. Master Dínendal,
do you have any powdered alfirin root with you?" Dínendal
shook his head. "Perhaps you can obtain some tomorrow. Mix
it in white wine, one part to ten, and have it ready when Elladan
"I will ask Imrahil for the information his steward promised.
I want to have a long talk with our friend who preys on unfortunate
young women. Perhaps he also preys on unconscious elves. We will
make finding his shop tomorrow our first priority.
"In the meantime I will go and tell Arwen the good news
that her brother is sleeping peacefully and is expected to make
a full recovery from the poison. I shall not mention the other
thingand I trust it will go no further than the people in
Eowyn was leaning over the balcony, looking out to sea, thinking
about what Master Dínendal had told them. It was a calm,
cloudless night, and the reflected moon and stars shimmered on
the water. The scene was magical, but Eowyn hardly noticed it.
"Legolas!" she called, unaware that he was already
standing behind her until he took hold of her waist and gently
bent her over the balcony wall.
"No, my love," she said, trying to turn to face him.
She had never said no to him before, and she felt his whole body
tense with surprise.
He stepped back and she managed to turn. "I want you to
go home," she said. "I want you to take Haldir and Dínendal
and the othersand the twins, if they will go with youback
to Eryn Carantaur where you will all be safe"
"What does he want? Why would he havehave done
that thing to Elladan? I cannot bear to think of him doing anything
to you, my loveplease, Legolas; please go home!"
"Shhhhh, melmenya," said Legolas softly, taking
her in his arms and pressing his lips to her temple, "Shhhhh.
I know you are worried, but it is out of the question. I am not
leaving you here alone."
"I would not be alone! Eomer, Gimli, Faramir, Aragorn are
all here. Any one of them would bring me back to Eryn Carantaur
when the Naming Ceremony is over. And I am safe; I
am not the target."
"How do we know that?"
"He wants an elf!"
"He returned Elladan; so we do not know for certain that
he wanted an elf"
"He used elfsbane! He stole elven seed! He
wants an elf. And he wants to..." She shuddered. "Who
knows what else he wants to do to you?"
"I am not leaving you, melmenya. And neither Haldir nor
Dínendal would leave you, either," he whispered. "Shhhhh,
shhhhh, my love." And he kissed her, and caressed
her, and stroked her hair, until she was calm. And then he bent
her once more over the balcony wall, raised her skirts and, holding
her hips steady, he entered her gently, filling her body.
"Oh, Legolas!" she whimpered.
He kissed the back of her neck, making her squirm beneath him,
then he withdrew, almost fully, and slowly filled her again.
"Oh," she whimpered.
"I love you so much, melmenya," he whispered. "I
would risk anything to be with you. To be able to love you like
this..." He withdrew once more and slowly filled her again,
and again, and again. Then he suddenly gripped the wall, shuddering,
and sobbing, "Oh, Eowyn! Oh, melmenya..." He braced
himself against the balcony, pushing himself even deeper inside
her, and held himself there, and Eowyn felt his warm seed flooding
Then he collapsed over her. "I am sorry, meleth nín,"
he whispered, sliding his hand under her and caressing her, gently.
"I will make it up to you, I promise."
And Eowynlying over the balcony wall, part of her still
terrified at what might happen to Legolas, part of her aware of
nothing but his penis still inside her, and his hands performing
the sweetest torturethought she might die. Then Legolas
raised himself on his arms and, slowly and deeply, began to thrust
Oh gods, she thought, dear gods, dear gods, dear gods!
And she felt herself approaching her first climax.
Wolfram had six full-blooded elves to choose from.
Three were lodged in the guardhouse, and virtually inaccessible;
he rejected them.
One was unnaturally big, and Wolfram had had enough trouble carrying
the last one; he rejected him.
That left twothe quiet, studious one, who seemed to be
a healer, and the pretty elf-boy. Neither of them looked as though
they would give him much trouble, even if elf-boy did prance around
wearing a bow and a couple of very nice knives...
What decided it was the woman. She belonged to elf-boy. And it
seemed fitting to Wolfram that he should take him first
then come back and take her.
He had followed elf-boy to his apartment and climbed out onto
a gargoyle, just below the castle battlements, that gave him a
safe view into his bedchamber. He had been planning to watch him,
to learn more about him so that it would be easier to catch him
alone. But, as the hours passed, he had seen rather more than
he had expected.
He had seen elf-boy and the woman come out onto the balcony.
He had seen the elf bend her over the wall and take her from behindBy
the gods! he had thought, as the elf freed himself from his
leggings, he may only be a boy but that is no child's
And then he had seen the woman turn the tables on the elf, mounting
him and riding him, hard and fast. And Wolfram had been forced
to attend to his own needs as he watched her bring elf-boy to
a spectacular climax.
Gods, I was right about that woman, he thought. She
has ridden elf-boy into the ground. And I will have her!
Senta had swallowed the apothecarys powdered herbs before
she had gone to bed, but they had had no effect.
What am I to do now? she thought, her eyes filling with
tears. The problem is still hereshe placed her hand
upon her stomachand all my savings are gone...
But she took a deep breath and pulled herself together, ran up
the stairs to Lady Eowyns bedchamber, and tapped on the
There was no answer, so she slowly pushed the door open and looked
inside. Lady Eowyn lay alone in bed, still asleep. The elf was
nowhere to be seen.
Senta entered the bedchamber and closed the door quietly behind
"My lady?" she said softly. The woman stirred. "My
lady?" she repeated, more loudly.
Lady Eowyn suddenly sat bolt upright, fully awake.
"Senta!" she cried. "What are you doing here?
Where is Legolas? Oh" She picked up a piece of parchment
lying on the pillow beside her, read it, grinned, and coloured.
Senta cleared her throat.
"I do not need any assistance, Senta," said Lady Eowyn.
"Why not sit down and tell me about yourself, and we can
pretend that you have dressed me?"
Senta sat down and watched as the lady took a clean shift, a
dark blue gown, and matching boots from a clothes chest and laid
them out on the bed, then walked into the bathing room to wash.
"How long have you been in service, Senta?"
"Almost two years." Senta looked at the gown. It was
the most beautiful thing she had ever seena deep, deep,
blue velvet, embroidered with pale red-gold autumn leaves. The
leaves looked almost real...
"And do you have a young man?"
"IIno my lady, not now" Senta rose
and walked towards the bed, intending to look more closely at
the gown. But the moment she stood, an intense pain pierced the
small of her back and travelled right down through her belly and
between her legs. She clutched the bedpost. Oh! Oh Gods!
she thought. The pain eased slightly and she pressed her hand
to her stomach. Is this it? Is this why he said to stay in
Another pain wracked the girl's body. "Oh gods," she
cried, "Oh, gods! Oh, my lady!" And Lady Eowynhalf-nakedwas
beside her instantly, supporting her, lowering her gently onto
"Youryour gown," gasped Senta, as another pain
"Shhhhhh," said Lady Eowyn. "Are you with
"Iyes, my ladyoh!"
"I will be back in a moment." She ran into the bathing
room and reappeared with a towel. "Trust me," she said,
gently, and Senta felt the lady raise her skirts, carefully place
the towel between her legs, and smooth the skirts back down.
Then she disappeared again.
Senta panicked. "My lady?"
"I am here," she said. "I am going to dress and
then I will fetch a healer." Moments later she was crouching
before Senta, wearing the beautiful blue gown. "I will be
as quick as I can," she said.
"Thank you, my lady. I am so sorryohhhhh!"
Lady Eowyn stroked her hair. "Shhhhhh," she
Senta closed her eyes and tried to master the pain. She heard
Lady Eowyn open the bedchamber door, but she did not leave. Instead,
Senta heard quiet voices, and she kept her eyes tightly closed.
A moment later Lady Eowyn was beside her again, taking hold of
her hand. "I have sent someone else to fetch the healer,
Senta, so I will stay with you," she said.
"Thank you, my ladyoh!oh!he did not tell
me it would hurt so much!" Senta cried.
"Who did not tell you?"
"Theohthe apothecary, my lady"
"An apothecary! Did he give you something to take, Senta?
To kill the child?"
Senta sobbed, "Yes! Yes! I did not want to, but"
"Shhhhh. I know. I understand. But he is a wicked
man, Senta. You should have gone to the palace healer."
"He would not have helped me, my lady."
She heard Lady Eowyn sigh. "No. No, you are right, of course.
Men are very good at making women pay for being the victims of
other men. How did you find the apothecary, Senta?"
"My friend Romilde told me, my lady. It was very hard to
findohhhhh!" Senta sobbed in pain and misery,
"I wish it would stop."
"It will stop, Senta, but not for a while. I am sorry; I
should not be troubling you with all of these questions."
She took Senta's hand, and held it through the contractions.
At length, there was a knock on the door. "Come in,"
Eowyn was shooed from the bedchamber by Prince Imrahils
healer, Master Hagen. "You have done very well so far, but
you know nothing of midwifery, my lady," he said. "Leave
it to us."
At least, she thought, as she promised to return later,
if Hagen turns out to be an insensitive dolt, Dínendal
will be gentle with her.
She found Florestan, Eomers secretarywho had arrived
with a message when she had been leaving earlier, and whom she
had sent to fetch the healerhovering outside the door.
"Will she be all right, my lady?"
"Yes, I believe so, but it will have to take its course."
She had a thought, and stared at him. "Do you know her, Florestan?"
"We sat together at dinner yesterday, my lady. I did not
know she was your maid."
"You had never met her before that?"
"No, my lady
"Oh! You think the child is mine? Nay, my lady, it is not.
I had never met her before yesterday. She told me..." His
voice trailed away.
"It was private, my lady."
Eowyn continued to look at him expectantly; he did not resist
"She told me that her betrothed had been killed in a hunting
accident, my lady."
"Oh." That would explain it, thought Eowyn.
Poor Senta. And poor Florestan, too, for he is clearly besotted
with a girl whose heart already belongs to a dead man. Still,
peoples feelings changewho at Helms Deep would
have thought Legolas the love of my life?
"Do you want to wait in the sitting room downstairs?"
"I would rather wait here, my lady, if you do not mind,"
Eowyn nodded. Then she ran downstairs to find Legolas and Aragorn,
leaving the lovesick secretary leaning against the doorjamb.
Legolas note had told Eowynamongst other, more intimate,
thingsthat the leaders of the previous day's search parties
would be meeting in Aragorns apartment to discuss how best
to find the apothecary. She needed to catch them before they left
to start the search. She ran across the courtyard, up the staircase
to Aragorns apartment and burst in through the door.
Seven pairs of eyesAragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Haldir, Faramir,
Eomer and Imrahilstared at her.
"What is it, melmenya?" asked Legolas.
"I have news of the apothecary," she said, a little
breathlessly. "The girl you appointed as my ladys maid,
Prince Imrahil, is his latest victimshe has taken some of
his foul herbs and even now is miscarrying her child."
"Then should we not be with her, meleth nín?"
said Legolas getting up from his chair.
"No, my love, Master Dínendal and Prince Imrahils
healer are with her. She will be fine." She squeezed his
arm, then turned to speak to the entire company. "She told
me that she learned about the apothecary from a scullery maid
called Romilde. The shop is apparently very hard to find, but
is somewhere in the region of Broad Gate." She turned back
to Legolas. "I think it was the apothecary that I saw with
Senta when we first arrived"
"The man who walked over your grave," said
"Yes. It seems I was right to distrust him. And I think
I remember where he was standing, but it might be wise to question
the girl, Romilde, too."
Imrahil sent a servant to fetch her.
"We must find the father of Sentas child," said
Legolas, softly, to Eowyn, as they waited. "He must face
what he has done."
"I think the father is dead, my love," said Eowyn.
"Shhhhh. I will explain later."
Romilde arrived with the steward, Master Reimar, who had already
spent most of the night trying to get information from her; the
girl was very reluctant to tell a bunch of interfering old men
anything about the apothecary.
"He is the only person a girl can turn to when she is in
trouble, your Highness," she said to Imrahil and curtseyed,
"Romilde!" cried Reimar, in warning, and Eowyn saw
anger flare in Imrahils normally calm, worldly eyes. But
she liked the girls spirit, so she decided to intervene.
"Romilde," she said, "this man is not helping
you. He is selling you a poison that may leave you barren, or
even kill youyour friend Senta is lying upstairs in agony
at this very moment. And he supplies other poisons, too, to kidnappers
and murderers. He supplied a poison that was used to harm one
of our friendsKing Elessars brother." She pointed
to Aragorn. "Will you not tell us where to find this terrible
Romilde looked at Aragorn. He had a kind, gentle face and she
imagined that his brother must look the same... So why would anyone
want to hurt him? But then, she had only this womans word
to go on, and how could she be sure she could trust her?
What does she know about anything that affects a girl like
me? she thought. Look at herrich, beautiful: just
look at that gown! And she has a highborn manthingwho
thinks that the sun shines out of her arse. Why should I listen
"If you are worried that you or your friends might needumhelp
in the future," continued Eowyn, "Prince Imrahil has
said that, from now on, girls in need will be treated by the palace
healer. There will be no questions, no accusations; they will
be treated in complete confidence. They will be safe with the
healer, Romilde, and he will not force them to hand over their
life savings for the treatment."
"Do you swear it?" asked Romilde.
Eowyn looked at Imrahil, questioningly. After a moment, he nodded
his assent. "Yes," said Eowyn. "On Prince Imrahils
behalf, I swear it."
"What if they want to keep their babies?" asked Romilde.
"Then they can come to live with us, in Eryn Carantaurwith
Prince Imrahils permission," said Legolas. "We
will find them a place to live and light work to do, and they
can stay with us until they have had their babies and are ready
to return here."
Romilde thought for a moment. "Very well," she said,
with a conspicuous lack of gratitude. "I shall take you to
within sight of the shop. But I will not go too close, for I do
not want to be seen by the apothecary."