to the sea!

The rescuers, consisting of Aragorn and Eomer, Imrahil (who had experience of sailing), Gimli, Legolas, Dínendal (who refused to be parted from his patient, and insisted that they would need him if Lady Eowyn or the March Warden had been injured), Eofred and Brenal—boarded the Starlight without further delay.

"Are we really going to risk taking him out to sea?" asked Eomer, quietly, indicating the distraught Legolas with a jerk of the head.

"Do we have a choice?" replied Aragorn. "Would you like to try to stop him?"

Eomer looked back at the elf, this time taking in the bow and the white knives strapped to his back, and reluctantly shook his head.

"Besides," continued Aragorn, "if anything has—er—happened to Eowyn, we will need him there to take care of her."

"Béma," muttered Eomer. "Let us pray she can keep that animal at bay until we catch up with them."

...

They had been sitting, side-by-side, on the bunk, holding improvised weapons—a chair leg and a broom handle—for what seemed like hours.

Haldir raised his head. "Someone is coming," he said. He stood up. "Get behind me."

"Haldir!" said Eowyn, exasperated. "We are in this together."

"Please, my lady—"

Eowyn aimed low: "Legolas would not make me hide behind him, like a little girl," she said, though she knew it was not strictly true.

Haldir sighed and motioned her to stand beside him.

They raised their makeshift clubs just as the door swung open. Herzog was standing between two archers, with arrows trained on Eowyn’s breast.

"Drop the weapon, Master Elf," he said, "unless you want to watch her die. You, too, my lady! That is better. Now," he said to Haldir, "you are going to come with me and we are going to have a little talk, whilst my comrade here,"—he jerked his head towards Wolfram, who had suddenly appeared behind him—"entertains the lady."

The Starlight was gaining on the galley.

"The wind’s dropped, which is in our favour," said Captain Fafner. "We’re faster and more manoeuvrable than he is. But if it drops much more he’ll run out his oars again, and if we don’t catch him before he gets those slaves rowing, we’ll lose him."

The rescuers, squeezed into the captain’s cabin, were holding a council of war.

"Can you tell us anything about the layout of a ship like that, Captain?" asked Aragorn.

Fafner took up a piece of chalk and drew a crude diagram on the wooden wall. "On deck there should be a helmsman, here, the officer on watch, here, and lookouts here, here and here," he said. He pointed to the quarterdeck. "The captain’s cabin’s in here and, at this time of night, he’ll probably be drinking with his First Mate and three or four of his men. The main companionway is here, leading down to the rowing deck—you’re looking at two tiers of slaves, about 250 in all. They’ll be chained to their oars, but there should be two, maybe three, guards and they’ll be well armed. The galley’s here, but I wouldn’t think the cook’ll give you any trouble; he’s not much more than a slave himself. The hold, down here, is where you’ll find the crew’s quarters, the armoury, and storage rooms for swag—all off a single gangway running from stem to stern. And that’s where you’ll need to look for your woman."

"How close can you get to him," asked Aragorn, "without his seeing us?"

"If we dowse all our lights we can probably get within quarter of a mile," answered Fafner.

Aragorn nodded. "Good. Then I will need a small boat, to take us right up beside him."

"What is your plan, Aragorn?" asked Eomer.

"We get Legolas close enough to board." He turned to the elf. "I need you to deal with anyone on deck, fast and silent."

Legolas nodded.

"Once the deck is clear," Aragorn continued, "the rest of us will board and take the ship. Imrahil, you and I will make straight for the Captain’s quarters,"—he pointed to the diagram—"and Brenal will back us up. Gimli and Eofred will go down to the rowing deck, deal with the guards, and set some of the slaves free—I wager they will be only too happy to join us. Eomer and Legolas will head straight for the hold, find Eowyn and Haldir, and get them back to the boat. Master Dínendal will stay here and prepare some sort of healing room, just in case."

He turned to Captain Fafner. "I will need one of your men to steer the boat—we can row ourselves. Any advice, Captain?"

"Other than the obvious—do not underestimate them—no your Majesty."

Once we are in the gangway, thought Haldir, they will not have room to draw those bows. With my speed and strength...

"Do not think about escaping, Master Elf," said Herzog, holding up a small vial. "Three drops of this and you will sleep for twenty four hours, and then who would keep Wolfram away from your pretty lady? More than three drops and you will be waiting in the Halls of Mandos," he added.

He motioned Haldir towards another small cabin. "In here. Take a seat, Master Elf."

Haldir shot him an ugly look, "I prefer to stand," he said.

Herzog shrugged his shoulders. He took a seat himself and, head tilted, looked Haldir up and down. "I have a business proposition for you, Master Elf."

Haldir gave him another withering look.

"It will be worth your while to hear me out," said Herzog, in his rich, seductive voice, "for I will use you whether you will or no. But if you are inclined to co-operate, I will reward you well—"

"You poisonous orc! There is nothing you can tempt me with!"

Herzog smiled broadly. "Now we both know that that is not true, Master Elf," he said. "As you no doubt know—since your light-fingered lady-friend stole my book—I require a quantity of seed from a full-blooded elf." Haldir sneered. "But I started thinking: why limit myself to one client when I can supply—oh!—an infinite number? You give me seed regularly, I make up the Elixir and sell it to the wealthy citizens of Far Harad; we both benefit." Herzog smiled again.

"There is not enough money in the whole of Middle Earth to persuade me to—to—to do that, you filthy warg’s member!"

"I was not thinking of money, Master Elf," said Herzog, his infuriating smile growing broader. "I was thinking of the thing you want more than anything else in the world."

Haldir stared at him.

"The woman!" said Herzog. "A simple love potion, and she would forget that this—what is that name? Leg-ah-lass?—ever existed. You could do whatever you wanted to her and she would love it—she would beg you for more—uh—"

Haldir wrapped his hands around Herzog’s throat, and he throttled the apothecary until one of the archers beat him senseless.

Wolfram locked the door.

"Well, my lady, he said, "it is time for you to pay for your fun and games with the sword." He advanced on her, menacingly.

The cabin was small, and Eowyn was forced to take a step back, but she was determined not to be intimidated by this little man.

"I have already crippled you," she said. "And however it may be that you are walking now, it will not take much to stop you again."

Laughing derisively, Wolfram took a small bottle from his pocket and shook it in her face. "A little help from the apothecary soon repaired your handiwork," he said. He put the bottle away and advanced another step.

Eowyn tried to step backwards, but found herself trapped against the bunk.

Triumphantly, Wolfram pressed himself into her, moving his hips suggestively, trying to push her down onto the bed.

Eowyn ducked sideways and dropped to the floor, but Wolfram responded fast, dropping on top of her and pinning her down with his full weight.

Eowyn struggled, trying to roll out from under him, but Wolfram held her steady with a knee either side of her thighs.

Suddenly, Eowyn became aware of something hard pressing into her back and—still struggling, so as not to alert Wolfram—she reached with her right hand and carefully examined the object...

It was the chair leg, her makeshift weapon. Eowyn smiled inwardly; it felt good as she closed her hand around it. I must make the first blow count, she thought. I have only one chance to take him by surprise.

She forced herself to go limp.

Wolfram laughed. "Not so dangerous without your sword, are you, my lady?" he gloated. "You will enjoy this—being ridden by a real man instead of a pretty-boy elf!" He lifted himself up, taking all his weight onto his knees, freeing his hands to unlace his breeches. "The apothecary’s potion works wonders on pain, but it does have an unfortunate effect on the prick," he said. "Luckily for you, it is just beginning to wear off or I would not be able to get a proper rise. But we will need to be quick. I must not miss my next dose."

He bent to pull his breeches open and Eowyn seized her chance; with all the strength of a Shieldmaiden’s sword arm she smashed the table leg into the side of his head and, at the same time, drove a fist deep into his groin.

Wolfram was taken by surprise; the pain was crippling, in his groin, his head, and his wounded leg. "You bitch," he screamed, "you elf-riding bitch!" He rolled onto his side and curled up in a ball, pressing both hands to his groin.

Eowyn scrambled to her feet and lifted the club. Wham! Once. Wham! Twice. Wham! Three times. Wham! "This is for Legolas!" Wham! "This is for me!" Wham!

When she finally regained control of herself, the man was no longer moving, and his face was a bloody mess. Eowyn pulled a filthy sheet off the bunk, twisted it into a rope, and tied his hands together, looping the sheet tightly round the bedpost.

Then, taking a deep breath to control her revulsion, she reached into the pocket of his breeches and retrieved the key to the cabin door.

"Are you sure we should be relying so much on Legolas?" asked Imrahil, pulling on his oar.

"In truth," said Aragorn, pulling beside him, "I do not know. But we do not have much choice—none of us could board a galley without being seen, nor shoot men up in the rigging. I just pray that his love for Eowyn and his determination to rescue her are strong enough to keep his mind clear of both the poison and the sea longing..."

Strange, thought Legolas, how much calmer I feel now that I have a job to do. And, as for the sea longing—he looked out across the sparkling water—I can see that it is beautiful, but it is as though I had never heard its call; my only desire is to get Eowyn back.

I will get her back, I know I will.

And if that animal has already hurt her, then I will be there to support and comfort her. Because I, too, know something of what it means to be taken against your will. So she will not have to cope alone.

Eowyn had no idea how much time had passed since the fiend had dragged her away from Legolas’ bedside. She had no idea whether the elf would still be sleeping or whether, by now, he would be fully recovered. But what she did know—what she was absolutely certain of—was that Legolas would rescue her as soon as he could.

So all I have to do is hold out until Legolas arrives, she thought.

But I cannot stay in the cabin with this animal. I must find a better weapon—a sword or a bow—find Haldir, and get us both to somewhere defendable.

Cautiously, she opened the cabin door and checked the gangway.

It was empty.

Gripping her chair leg, she crept out of the cabin, opened the door opposite and was momentarily stunned by what she saw inside.

I have little use for gold and jewellery in my present situation, she thought.

Four doors later, she found the armoury. She tried several swords, testing their weight and balance, before she found one that suited her and strapped it around her waist; then she selected a bow and a quiver full of arrows.

This is far inferior to an elven bow, she thought. I will have to use it carefully.

Then, because she had no idea where they had taken Haldir, but some instinct was telling her she should be up on deck, she crept cautiously back to the companionway and began climbing up the stairs.

The tiny boat bobbed silently beside the galley.

Legolas slipped out of his borrowed cloak and gloves, stood up and, balancing effortlessly as the boat rose and fell, pulled his bow from its strap and, holding it ready in his left hand, jumped lightly onto the deck of the galley without making a sound.

The rescue party held its collective breath, but it was not necessary. The elf’s right hand moved so fast it was barely visible: his first arrow took out the helmsman, his second the officer on watch, his third, fourth and fifth, the three lookouts.

The deck was clear.

Aragorn threw Legolas a rope and the elf tied it securely to a cleat; Eomer threw a second rope and Legolas secured it to another. Aragorn and Eomer began to climb aboard, but as the elf leaned down to help, his keen senses alerted him to danger behind him, and he turned and simultaneously ducked, narrowly avoiding a knife blade.

Another sailor had come out on deck!

Legolas reached for one of his own white knives, but the man was quick—and very lucky—slashing at him again, slicing through his leather bracer and biting into the flesh of his forearm. The pain was intense. Legolas’ knife dropped from his fingers and he automatically raised his bow to ward off another slash, but—to his surprise—it never came. Instead, the man stumbled towards him and fell, an arrow protruding from his back.

Legolas scanned the deck, looking for his protector.

She was standing by the companionway door, her bow still raised.

Eowyn!

Legolas managed to stifle his cry of joy but could not stop himself running across the deck and using his good arm to pull her against him. "Are you all right, Eowyn nín?" he whispered.

She smiled up at him. "Yes," she whispered back, "I knew you would come for me."

"Did he hurt you—"

"No, my love. No, he did not—and he must be regretting now that he ever tried. I left him tied up in a cabin. But they took Haldir away and I could not find him; I do not know where he is."

"We will find him," whispered Aragorn. "Legolas, Eomer, get Eowyn down into the boat. Imrahil, Brenal, with me; Gimli, Eofred—you know what to do."

Aragorn, Imrahil and Brenal silently entered the captain’s cabin, and took the Captain and his officers prisoner without incident. Gimli and Eofred, meanwhile, crept down to the rowing deck, knocked out the two guards, and released ten of the most trustworthy-looking slaves. Then the entire rescue party quietly made its way down to the hold and the crew’s quarters.

Taken by surprise, the crew put up little fight, most of the sailors surrendering without even rising to their feet. Imrahil put the slaves in charge of the prisoners, giving them strict orders that no one was to be harmed. "When we return to Dol Amroth," he said to the slaves, "I will set you free and reward each of you with fifty pieces of silver—and there is a place in the army of Belfalas for any man that wants it. But only if you behave honourably."

"Come, we must search the storerooms," said Aragorn; "Haldir is still in danger."

The first storeroom was filled with chests of gold and silver jewellery, plate, works of art, and rich fabrics from Far Harad. "Gods," said Imrahil, "they must have been operating in these waters for years, posing as traders but looting the merchantmen!"

In the second storeroom, a broken chair, a jagged strip of rose-coloured velvet, and a twisted sheet tied to the bedpost told a worrying story. "This must be where they held Eowyn," said Aragorn. He fingered the improvised rope. "This is where she left the fiend tied up. But he has escaped us again!"

"He must be hiding amongst the sailors," said Imrahil. "But why would they protect him?"

Aragorn shook his head. "I do not know," he said, thoughtfully. "Unless—unless he found a bolt hole somewhere in the fabric of the ship..." He began tapping the cabin walls, searching for a hiding place.

"Aragorn!" Gimli’s gruff voice called from further down the gangway, "Aragorn! We have found the elf!"

Abandoning his search, Aragorn ran down the gangway and into another small cabin. Eofred was kneeling over Haldir, carefully supporting his head. "He has been badly beaten, your Majesty," he said, "but I think he will recover."

"Get him back to the boat, Eofred—Brenal, help him," said Aragorn. "Master Dínendal will take good care of him." Then, as the two men lifted the elf and carried him out of the cabin, he added, "Well, at least we have one prize!" And, with the toe of his boot, he poked the dazed apothecary, who had been lying trapped beneath the elf.

Eowyn had removed Legolas’ bracer, rolled back the sleeve of his tunic and was carefully binding his forearm with a strip of cloth cut from her shift. "This will help until Master Dínendal can dress it properly," she said.

"Thank you, Eowyn nín," said Legolas, softly, drawing her closer with his good arm and burying his face in the crook of her neck. "Eowyn," he whispered, "my brave Shieldmaiden."

Eomer cleared his throat. "There are other people in this boat, you know."

As dawn broke, the Starlight and the Sea Maiden returned to Dol Amroth together, the galley crewed by a handful of men provided by Captain Fafner.

Herzog the apothecary was immediately transferred to the castle dungeon to await trial. The Captain and crew of the Sea Maiden were imprisoned in the city gaol, and the Corsairs’ gold and other valuables were moved to the castle treasury.

Keeping his promise, Aragorn rewarded Captain Fafner with fifteen hundred gold pieces plus another five hundred for the extra assistance he had provided. Imrahil set all 250 galley slaves free, rewarding each man with fifty pieces of silver and the opportunity to join the army of Belfalas. But he also, discreetly, limited their access to the taverns, and stipulated that each man must either find paid employment within three months or leave the city. Thus, he hoped, he would avoid setting 250 sturdy beggars loose on the streets of Dol Amroth.

Once the galley was completely empty, Imrahil’s palace guard searched it repeatedly, from stem to stern. But no trace of Wolfram was found.

"Keep still," whispered Eowyn.

They had finally reached their bedchamber by mid-morning, but Eowyn had insisted on replacing the dressing on Legolas’ arm, which had meant her removing his jerkin, and his tunic, and then one thing had led to another...

And now Legolas lay naked on the bed—his limbs outstretched, his hair loose—with Eowyn, fully clothed, straddling him.

"Melmenya..."

"Shhhhh. Keep still."

Using the lightest of pressure, Eowyn brushed her fingertips up the insides of his thighs, over his testicles, upwards along the hard length of his penis, and gently explored the curves and hollows of its head. "You are so beautiful," she whispered.

Legolas’ outstretched hands gripped the bedclothes.

"Keep still..." Eowyn leaned forward—her hair spilling over Legolas’ belly and thighs—and slowly licked him from root to tip. Then, slipping her hands beneath his buttocks and squeezing him firmly, she took the head of his penis in her mouth and sucked, very, very, gently.

"Oh Valar!" cried Legolas, his back arching off the bed. "Please, melmenya," he begged, "do not torture me!"

But Eowyn had never had much taste for foreplay and, with one final lick, and a wicked, wicked smile, she lifted and held his penis and sank down upon him, sighing with pleasure. And then she began to ride him, slowly and luxuriously, rising and falling and circling her hips. "Keep still," she whispered. "Keep still, my love... keep still... Gods!"

Legolas had reached up and torn open the remains of her velvet dress and had enfolded her breasts in his hands.

"There were moments when I did not think we would ever share this again, melmenya," said Legolas, kissing Eowyn’s hand. "I thought you were gone forever. Master Dínendal wanted to lock me up—he tried to force me to sleep, to stop me going mad..."

Eowyn brought their joined hands to her lips and kissed Legolas’ hand.

"And," he continued, "I was afraid that, if I did get you back, you would be..." He hesitated, trying to find the right words, "Broken, meleth nín, raped and broken... And I swore that whatever had happened, I would help you cope. But, in truth, I had no idea how I was going to do it."

"Shhhhh, my love," said Eowyn, rolling over and lying on top of him. "Do not torture yourself. It was he who was broken."

"Yes. I should have known he could not conquer your spirit," said Legolas, slipping his arms around her waist. "But there is still a part of my mind that cannot stop imagining you hurt beyond hope—and if I could get my hands on that man, melmenya, I would kill him for what he tried to do to you."

Legolas crossed the castle courtyard.

He had lied to Eowyn, telliing her that he was going to the palace armouries to check that his bracer was being repaired properly. Instead, with Imrahil’s permission, he was going to the palace dungeon.

"I have a written order from Prince Imrahil," he told the Head Gaoler, showing him the parchment. "I want to talk to the apothecary."

Herzog, manacled hand and foot, was dragged out of his cell, and thrown into a small room furnished with a table and two stools.

"Sit down," said Legolas, coldly.

Herzog, sensing that the elf’s simmering anger was out of character, decided to do as he was told, for now. He is dangerous in this state, he thought, but he is not used to feeling anger and that makes him vulnerable... Perhaps I can use it to my advantage.

"I want to know where your accomplice is," said Legolas. "I want him to stand trial for the kidnapping and attempted rape of my wife. If you give me the information I need, I will use such influence as I have to see that your sentence is commuted from death to life imprisonment—"

Herzog laughed. "Perhap an immortal, Master Elf, does not realise what life imprisonment would be like for a mortal man such as me," he said. "But let me enlighten you—what you offer is no incentive!"

"I want that orc brought to justice!" said Legolas, fuming.

"And I cannot help you," answered Herzog. It was the truth, for he had no idea where Wolfram was, but he deliberately made it sound like a lie. "So we are at an impasse, Master Elf. Though there is something else I might be willing to trade with you..."

"What are you talking about?" asked Legolas, impatiently.

"Set me free—it would be easy for you to arrange it, and make it look like an escape—and I will give you the thing you most desire."

Legolas sneered. "You are insane if you think I would do something so dishonourable—and there is nothing I desire that I do not already have!"

"No?" Herzog taunted. "An immortal married to a mortal—what might he desire? Desire so much that he would be willing to rebel against the gods to get it? Hmmm? Something that I could provide? All I would require is access to my workshop and some fresh elven seed—and you are already in the habit of giving her some of that every day."

"You filthy animal," cried Legolas, his heart breaking.

He rose to leave, but Herzog caught him by the elbow.

"Think about it, Master Elf. You are seeing it in her already—the start of wrinkles, the sagging breasts and belly. Set me free and, like you, she will never age! You will have her forever!"

Legolas raised his hand to strike the apothecary but, mastering himself just in time, he placed it on Herzog’s arm and coldly pushed him away. "My offer still stands," he said. "Tell me where to find this Wolfram and I will try to get your sentence commuted to life imprisonment. But do not ever speak to me about the other thing again." He turned his back.

But, as he reached the door, he suddenly felt Herzog’s hands, cold and heavy, pressing down on his head. He immediately spun round to defend himself, but his fist struck nothing—Herzog was still sitting at the table.

Disoriented, Legolas banged on the door to summon the guard.

Oh dear, Master Elf, thought Herzog, as he watched him leave. You will live to rue the day you turned down my offer.

I must get back to Eowyn, thought Legolas, or she will suspect...

She will suspect...

He paused at the bottom of the staircase, trying to remember the excuse he had given Eowyn.

"I hope the dog co-operated, my lord," said a voice behind him. "If you need me to persuade him a little..."

Dog? What dog? Legolas turned, smiled politely at the gaoler, and shook his head.

I must get back... Get back...

Where?

He climbed the spiral staircase. Someone is waiting for me... Someone...

He stepped out into the courtyard and looked up at the glorious blue sky. Three white birds were circling above the castle, crying plaintively.

Gulls, he thought, turning round and round, watching them swoop and glide. Look at the gulls! How lonely they sound, calling to the sea...

The sea.

Of course, how could I have forgotten?

The sea is waiting for me.

 

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Legolas
Contents page

Contents page

Chapter 7: Kidnapped!
Wolfram strikes again. Eowyn and Haldir are closely confined...

Chapter 7

Chapter 9: I will bring you back...
Eowyn is reminded of her promise.

Chapter 9