Even with Romildes help, and her own
memory of seeing the apothecary standing outside it, the shop
proved difficult to find, though once they had found it, Eowyn
could not say exactly why it had been so elusive.
The apothecary must be using some sort of
spell, she thought, l to hide it from all but his customers
Though drab and grimy, the outside of the shop was unremarkable,
except for the thick wooden planks that had been tacked over the
door and the windows. It looks as if they have been there forever,
thought Eowyn, yet Senta was here only two days ago.
Gimli drew his axe and made short work of the planks on the door,
then set about clearing the windows, and letting in some light,
whilst Aragorn, Legolas and Eowyn ventured inside to look for
any traces of the shops owner, or clues to his whereabouts.
Even with the planks removed, the shop was dark and gloomy but
as Eowyns eyes adjusted to the lightand the overpoweringly
sharp smellshe stared in amazement. Every available spacethe
walls, the heavy wooden counter, the desk, the chairs, the floor,
the ceiling beamseverything was covered with bottles and
jars and pots and twists and bundles of strange and exotic substances.
There were bottles of liquid, some of it thick and dark, like
treacle, some of it thin and brightly coloured. There were jars
of powderwhite, bright yellow, rusty red, and green, like
dried herbs. There were jars of ointment, some of them marked
with a skullwere they poison? There were bundles of twigs
and dried plants and tree bark. There was the articulated jaw
of some terrifying creature with a wide pointed mouth and several
rows of cruel, triangular teeth. There was a strange dried fish,
round like a ball, its body covered in spikes. There were
Eowyn heard Legolas cry out in horror, and she hurried to his
Standing on the floor behind the counter was a large glass jar
containing a pickled baby.
"Dear gods," she whispered.
"I will kill this vile orc," said Legolas. He knelt
before the jar, placed his hand over his heart and, bowing his
head, whispered elvish words of comfort to the spirit of the little
victim. Eowyns eyes filled with tears. She placed her hand
on his shoulder.
"In here," called Aragorn from the room at the back
of the shop.
Eowyn hesitated for a moment, then squeezed Legolas shoulder
and left to join Aragorn.
"This is where Elladan was kept," he said, pointing
to a makeshift bed in the corner of the room. "That is Elladans
"We need to search the apothecarys papers," said
Eowyn. "We need to know where he is and what he intends to
Aragorn agreed, and began searching the back room. Eowyn returned
to the shop and looked around. The most likely places,
she thought, are the desk and that small strong box mounted
in the wall.
"Gimli," she said, "can you open this?"
Two blows of Gimlis axe left its door hanging off its hinges,
but the strong box contained only jars of powder.
"This stuff must be truly vileor valuableor
bothto be kept under lock and key," said Gimli.
Eowyn moved on to the desk. To her surprise, the apothecary seemed
to keep his records in the common tongue, though most of the language
was technical. She looked through the untidy pile of papers, but
could see nothing relevant to Elladan. Then she pulled out each
of the desk drawers in turn, checking their contents.
Wait a minuteshe thought, what is this? She
picked up an open book lying beside the stack of papers and read
THE ELIXIR OF LIFE
and how it may be used
to achieve immortality.
Together with a description
of all the ingredients required,
where they may be obtained,
and how they must be combined.
"Have you found anything, melmenya?" asked Legolas.
"I am not sure," she answered, and she tucked the book
under her arm, intending to have a better look at it later.
After searching the shop thoroughly, the four friends leftclosing
the door behind them, but not restoring the planksand began
walking slowly back towards the castle. Once they had reached
the market place, Legolas stopped them.
"He was there, Aragorn."
"Our eyes were cheated by some spell, mellon nín,
but I could feel him there. He was in the shop with us. I did
not say anything then because I thought it better that he did
not know we knew. I suggest you keep a guard posted beside the
shopsooner or later, that Balrog will reappear and the guard
can take him."
Aragorn nodded. "We will need several people to maintain
a watch," he said, thinking aloud; "we must disguise
them, perhaps as carpenters, or as stonemasons repairing one of
the buildings opposite; and they must all have some knowledge
of spells, for our friend must be properly restrained once they
have captured him. I have one of my own guards in mindand
I will talk to Imrahil, Eomer and Faramir to see if we can use
any of their men."
"Curse the woman," cried Herzog, emerging from the
shadow he had cast around himself. "Those dolts had seen
nothing. But she is sharp. Too sharp for her own good. It will
be a pleasure to help Wolfram have his way with her."
On the way back to their apartment, Legolas and Eowyn stopped
at the castle healing rooms to enquire after Senta.
They were greeted by Master Dínendal, who was sitting
in Master Hagens study, reading a book about the diseases
of old age. When Legolas asked about Senta, Dínendal held
his finger to his lips, then led them to the womens healing
room and pointed to the bed in the corner.
Eowyn smiled at the sight before her. Senta lay in the bed, sleeping
peacefully. On a chair beside her, also asleep, sat Florestan,
holding her hand. And on the nightstand beside the bed, at the
top of his cage, sat Sweep, his little head tucked under his wing.
Eowyn turned to Legolas and he put his arm around her waist and
led her out into the corridor.
"It seems that we no longer need to worry about her, melmenya.
She and Sweep have found themselves a protector. He is not the
father, though, is he?"
"No, my love. She told him that her betrothed had been killed
in a hunting accident. And it may be a little early for us to
assume that all will be well with them. But Florestan is certainly
in love with her and he is a patient, resourceful man. I think
we can be optimistic."
Legolas had been quiet since they had returned from the healing
He was troubled by the dead baby in the shop, thought Eowyn,
and by Sentas abortion. He has seen death on the battlefield
but he is not used to the everyday fragility of mortal lives.
"My love," she said softly, kneeling beside him. "Is
there anything I can do for you?"
Legolas raised his hand and, smiling sadly, stroked her hair.
"It is time, melmenya," he said. "Time to talk
"Do you want me to come with you?"
He slipped his hand behind her neck and gently pulled her forward.
"Eowyn nín," he whispered, kissing her
lips, "given the choice I would never be parted from you,
not for one instant. But this is something I must do alone."
"I understand, my love; but if you should need me, Legolas,
I will be here. You need only send for me."
He placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head. And Eowyn
found the formality of his gesture even more moving than a smile
or a kiss.
He rose, and walked to the door but, as his hand touched the
latch, he suddenly stopped.
A moment later he had swept her off the floor and was devouring
her mouth, crushing her body against his. Then, just as suddenly
as it had begun, it was over. He laid her gently on the bed, and
went out of the door, leaving Eowyn sprawling on her back, panting
Wolfram had entered the castle by his usual route and was now
perching upon his gargoyle, watching the woman.
He had seen the elf kiss her and leave her lyingprovocatively
open-leggedon the bed. And, after some minutes, he had seen
her struggle to her feet and walk to the full-length mirror by
She was wearing a deep blue gown that clung to every curve of
her body. Wolfram watched her raise each arm in turn and undo
the lacings down the sides, then slip her arms out of the sleeves
and let the gown drop to the floor. Now she was wearing nothing
but a short white shift and a pair of blue boots.
Wolfram imagined using his knees to force those long slim legs
The woman examined her face in the mirror, thenunexpectedlydrew
the shift off over her head. Completely naked now, apart from
the boots, she looked like one of the high class whores from the
brothel in Bell Lane. Gods, thought Wolfram, a man could
make a mint selling her favours. And still have enough left to
The woman moved away from the mirror and Wolframs eyes
followed her from the bedchamber to the bathing room. This, he
had to see. He swung his leg off the gargoyle and, keeping in
shadow, climbed swiftly across the castle wall, dropping lightly
onto the balcony. If he stayed slightly back from the bathing
room window he could still see her without risk of being seen.
She had pinned her hair up and was washing herself with a large,
yellow sponge, dipping it in the soapy water and drawing it lightly
over the curves and planes of her body, leaving the skin damp
and taut and glistening. She ran the sponge over her breasts and
Wolfram held his breath as a moan tried to escape his throat.
He reached into his breeches
Legolas nodded to the two guards standing outside Prince Imrahils
private chambers then knocked briskly on the door, displaying
a confidence he did not feel. For a moment, he wished he had accepted
Eowyns offer of support. But we shall be discussing things
I would not want her to hear, he thought. And, besides,
I have already burdened her with my sea longing; this is a demon
I must face by myself.
Imrahil opened the door and Legolas, in his nervousness, almost
laughed out loud at the look of surprise on his face.
But he controlled himself. "We need to talk," he said.
Imrahil glanced at the guards, then motioned Legolas to step
inside. He closed and locked the door.
"About what?" he asked.
"You know about what," said Legolas, "or you would
not have locked the door."
Eowyn dried herself, slipped on a comfortable old gown, picked
up the book she had taken from the apothecarys shop and
curled up in a chair by the fire to wait for Legolas.
She opened the book. THE ELIXIR OF LIFE, she read, and
how it may be used to achieve immortality. Together with a description
of all the ingredients required, where they may be obtained, and
how they must be combined...
She turned to the list of ingredients.
Dried hellebore..........10 grains
Corpse powder..........3 grains
Mûmak gall..........3 ounces
Fresh elf seed..........2 drams
Eowyn leaped from her chair.
Fresh elf seed!
She paced back and forth across the room. She needed to show
this to Legolas, but she could not interrupt him now.
Should she go to Aragorn?
No, she thought. I promised him I would be here if he needed
me. This will wait a while. The guards are watching for the apothecaryhe
will not escape. Legolas is safe for now. I will show him this
when he returns.
Imrahil sighed. "Sit down," he said. "Do you want
a drink? Wine? Water? A cordial?"
Legolas was about to refuse, but his mouth suddenly felt very
Imrahil handed him a glass. Legolas sat silently for a moment,
examining the exquisite pattern cut into the crystal. Then, without
raising his eyes, he said, "I am sorry, Imrahil, if my recent
behaviour has been like a spoilt child. But the truth is, when
you touched me in your tent outside Minas Tirith, you abused my
trustand it has taken me three years to come to terms with
"I abused your trust?" said Imrahil, incredulously.
"You came to me and lay on my bed, half-naked and
very obviously aroused, and then acted like a virgin girl when
I tried to give you the comfort you so plainly wanted"
Legolas stared at him. "From Eowyn! How could you
thinkhow could you possibly thinkthat I wanted
it from you? I was in love with Eowyn! Eomer had just announced
her betrothal to Faramir. I needed to talk. I needed to open my
heart to someone. I thought you were my friend. I thought I could
trust you. I opened my heart to you"
"You told me nothing of your feelings!" cried Imrahil.
"You talked of somesome remote beingsome ideal
of perfection, not a woman of flesh and blood that you wanted
to bed..." His voice trailed off. Then he added, "Your
true tastes seemed otherwise."
After a long silence Legolas said, "I was dreaming of her,
when youwhen I awoke with your hands on me." Tears
filled his eyes, but he swallowed hard, and tried to control the
burning in his throat.
"But now Eowyn knows," he said, "I have told her
"And she still loves me," he whispered.
"Did you really doubt that she would?"
"You do not know the circumstances..."
Imrahil sighed. "What do you want, Legolas?"
"I want for it never to have happened, but I cannot have
that. So I want to forget that it happened," he said. "And
I have tried, but I cannot. You made me feel unclean. You made
me feel guilty. You made me feel that I had misunderstood everything,
everyone, throughout my whole life. You made me doubt myself,
and doubt others. It was only when I grew closer to Eowyn that
my heart and my spirit began to heal. But I will always be diminished
by what you did"
"I thought you wanted it!"
"I KNOW YOU DID!"
Legolas calmed himself, and repeated, more quietly, "I know
you did, Imrahil."
"So where does that leave us? What do you want me to do?
What do you want me to say?"
"Eowyn says that you did not mean to harm me"
"She is right."
"Make me believe it."
"Oh, Legolas!" Imrahil sighed. "You came to me
distressed and I had no idea why. I had never seen you show interest
in anyone, male or female, but I do not exaggerate when I say
that it was very obvious that you were aroused. I touched you
and you responded. You did not say nay. Not until afterwards.
If I diminished youas you say I didthen I am sorry,
but my intention was only to comfort you.
"Tell me, Legolas, if it had been Eowyn that had touched
youif you had woken to find Eowyn making love to youwould
you have been upset?"
Legolas stared at him.
"At the time, I thoughtold fool that I wasI
thought that I might be to you as Eowyn is now..."
"Oh gods," Legolas whispered. "Why?"
"What do you mean, why?"
"Why do men think of me in that way? Is it something I do?"
"You are an elf! You are beautiful! Surely you know that?
The way you look, the way you behaveall the grace and beauty
of a woman with more than the strength of a man..."
"It gets worse," whispered Legolas, his voice cracking.
He rose from the chair, walked to one of the bay windows and,
grasping the mullions, pressed his forehead against the cool pane
Wolfram stayed on the balcony, watching, until the woman had
fallen asleep in the chair. Then he approached the door and carefully
tested the latch. It lifted easily, but made a loud clicking noise,
so he stepped quickly back into the shadows and waited.
But the woman did not wake and, after a moment, Wolfram pulled
the door open, stepped silently into the bedchamber, and approached
her, stretching out his hand and drawing it, less than an inch
above her skin, over her cheek, her throat and the shadowy cleft
between her breasts. Then he lifted a single tendril of golden
hair and let it slide between his fingers and fall back upon her
The woman stirred, but still did not wake.
This was easier than Wolfram had expected and he was sorely tempted
to take her now, bound, gagged and struggling.
But he needed to deal with the elf first, because without the
elf there would be no five hundred gold piecesand very probably
no more work from Herzog.
And Herzog was one of his best customers.
So he would have to be patient.
"Goodnight, my lady," he whispered. "You do not
know what you are missing. But you shalland soon."
And he left, closing the balcony door behind him.
Legolas was standing with his back to Imrahil, his forehead still
pressed against the glass, but Imrahil was not about to let him
hide from reality much longer.
"Legolas," he cried, joining the elf at the window,
but careful not to touch him, "you are fair, even among your
own kind. Men will always find you attractive; women will always
find you attractive. That is your curse!
"But you have chosen Eowyn and she has accepted you. And
if you are happy with her, if she is all you want in life, what
do the desires of anyone else matter? What do I matter? What does
something I did, by mistake, three years ago, matter, if you have
Legolas was silent for a very long time. "You are right,"
he sighed, at last. "She is all I want in life and
I do have her. And when I am with her I am so happy." He
turned to face Imrahil. "But I came to you tonight because
I am afraid. I have seen things heredeath, horrorsthat
have made me fear losing her. I would die if I lost her, Imrahilnay,
I will die, for I will lose her, sooner or later.
And I am afraid of anything that might taint the short time that
we do have together.
"That is why I do not want us to be enemies, Imrahil."
He took a step towards the prince, intending to close the distance
between them, but lost his nerve. "Perhaps, if we were to
behave as friends, we would become so again. You have been patient
with me tonight," he continued. "And my request is entirely
"LegolasI cannot make you any promises. I sympathise.
I do. But I did not want to be your friend that night in Minas
Tirith, and I am not sure I could be your friend now."
"Can we at least be civil?" asked Legolas.
"Have I ever been anything else to you, since that night?"
"No," Legolas admitted, softly. "No, you have
not." He sighed. "It is I who have been uncivil. It
is I who must mend my ways."
Legolas needed Eowynhe needed to hold her and to be held
by her. He ran across the castle courtyard, took the stairs two
at a time, and threw open the door to his bedchamber.
Eowyn was curled up in a chair by the fire, sleeping peacefully,
but Legolas was overwhelmed by an aura of menace in the room,
as if something had recently threatened her.
Oh Valar, he thought, I am so afraid of losing her that I am
sensing danger in every shadow.
He carefully took a book from her hands, and laid it on the dressing
table, then lifted her into his arms, carried her to their bed,
and gently laid her down.
"Mmmmmm," she sighed, "Legolas?"
"Shhhhh, melmenya. Go back to sleep."
"But I have been waiting for you," she said. "I
wanted to tell you something."
"I," she whispered, confused, "II haveI
have missed you."
"Oh, Eowyn nín
" He wrapped his arms around
her and hugged her tightly.
"You are still dressed," she said. And she opened his
tunic and snuggled against his chest. Then he felt her unlacing
"You are too tired, melmenya," he said, catching her
"I want to feel you inside me," she answered.
"Oh, Eowyn," he whispered, "I need you, too,
meleth nín, but you really are too tired"
"No," she said in a small voice, "Just lie with
me, inside me, and let us sleep together."
Legolas lay awake, singing softly to the stars, with Eowyn sleeping
in his arms.
How could an elf be happier? he thought.
She could be immortal, came the reply.
Legolas stopped singing. That was a wicked thought. Immortality
and mortality are gifts Ilúvatar. Whether a true immortal
seeks mortality or a mortal seeks immortalityboth rebel
against the one.
He must not think it. And he most certainly must not plant the
desire for immortality in her.
The Valar gave her to you, he thought. Trust them.
But I want her. I want her forever, came the reply.
And he buried his face in her hair and wept.
Eowyn awoke to find herself crushed against Legolas chest,
his arms locked around her like iron bands.
"Legolas," she whispered.
He stirred but did not wake.
His talk with Imrahil clearly did not go well, thought
Eowyn. And I was no supportI was asleep when he returned.
Andgods!I did not tell him about the book.
"Legolas," she said, more loudly.
She felt him wake, his body becoming alert, but his grip on her
did not relax.
"What is wrong, my love?" she asked, softly.
"I am sorry," he said, and released her, kissing the
top of her head.
She hesitated. Then, "How did you fare with Imrahil?"
"We have agreed to be civil."
"Did talking to him help?"
Legolas sighed. "I do not know, melmenya. Only time will
She hugged him sympathetically. "I found something last
nightthe book I took from the apothecarys shop
describes a recipesome foolish stuff about an elixir that
confers immortalitythat contains elven seed! That
must be why that warg used Elladan as he did..."
"Immortality?" said Legolas, softly.
"Yes." Eowyn raised her head to look at him. "It
is terrible, Legolas. Terrible. The recipe requires a large quantity
ofof seed, and it must either be fresh or,"she
bit her lip"or both testicles must be dried and ground
up. And the victim must be a full-blooded elf. I suppose that
is why he returned Elladan. We must tell Aragorn and Prince Imrahiland
decide how we are going to protect you and Haldir, and the others."
"Immortality..." said Legolas.