Legolas buried his face in his hands. It is true,
he thought, I cannot give her immortality. And she is happy
in her new life. I must let her go
But then a familiar voice entered his mindGimlisaying,
"No, lad, nodo not give up!" And another voiceBerrynsaying,
"My lord, my lord, whatever the merman is telling you is
false!" And thenthe dearest voice in all of Middle-earthcrying,
"Legolas! Legolas, my love! I have not betrayed you! Do not
Yes Eowyn! Legolas leaped to his feet.
"You lie!" he shouted at the merman. "Eowyn has
refused you! She is still my wife! And she wants to return to
the forest with me! Come here, and fight for her with honour!"
And when the merman did not move, Legolas waded out into the water
to confront it.
"Gimli, Haldir, Berryn," he cried, "find Eowyn
and get her back to the camp!"
"Be careful, my lord," called Berryn, before he followed
Gimli and Haldir into the stone labyrinth. "It will wrap
its arms around you, and try to break your neck."
Legolas drew his two white knives, spinning them to align their
"You can swim away now," he said to the merman, "back
to the sea, and live. Or you can stay here and die. The choice
Foolishhh little creature, hissed the merman. Your
weaponsss cannot harm me! And with a sweep of its arm,
it knocked the knives from Legolas' hands and enfolded the elf
in a lethal embrace.
It was Haldir who found Eowyn, crouching behind one of the rock
curtains, naked and shivering with cold. He took off his cloak,
wrapped it around her and, despite her frantic struggles, he scooped
her into his arms and carried her towards his comrades.
"Gimli, Berryn, come and help me," he whispered.
"How are we going to get her out of the cave without the
merman seeing?" whispered Berryn. "And what are we going
to do about Lord Legolas?"
"Legolas!" cried Eowyn, "Legolas!"
"Shhhhh, my lady," whispered Haldir, rocking
her against his chest, like a crying baby. "Shhhhh.
You must be quiet"
"Legolaaas!" she screamed.
And, suddenly, she pushed hard against Haldir's chest and kicked
her legs, so that the elf lost his grip and dropped her in a heap
at his feet. Then she leaped up, threw off Haldir's cloak, and
ran through the cave towards her husband.
"The elf offersss me mercy," hissed the merman.
"But I will crush the life out of itsss body"
"Legolas!" cried Eowyn, "Legolas!" She
tried to reach her beloved elf but one of the merman's orc-minions
was holding her fast.
"I have it in my grasssp, now, my love, and it isss dying!"
"Legolas!" she screamed, and she pushed hard against
the orc's chest, freeing herself from its grip, and ran through
the cave to save her husband.
Foolishhh creature! said the merman, inside Legolas' mind.
I will crushhh the life out of your body!
But the merman had underestimated its opponents.
Suddenly, Legolas broke its grip and drove both fists into its
neck and, as the creature staggered, gasping for breath, Eowyn
ran down to the water's edge, swept up Legolas' knives, and buried
both blades in its fragile gills.
The merman fell forwards into the water, and a dark pool of blood
spread out across its surface.
"Legolas," whispered Eowyn.
"Shhhhh, melmenya," he replied, softly, slipping
out of his jerkin and wrapping it around her. "You are safe
now. You have saved us both." And he hugged her tightly,
as though still afraid she might leave him.
Gimli dragged the merman's limp body out of the water and he
and Berryn examined it carefully.
"It is not breathing," said the dwarf. "What shall
we do with it?"
Legolas looked down at the strange creature. "Put it back
in the water, elvellon," he said. "Let its spirit
Gimli agreed. Carrying the body between them, he and Berryn waded
back into the pool and dumped it. The merman did not sink, but
remained on the surface, as if lying on a bed, and was slowly
borne out to the centre of the pool by the gentle lapping of the
waves. Then it slipped beneath the water, and disappeared.
"By the gods," cried Gimli, "did it sink? Or did
The five friends climbed back up the spiral staircase to the
Great Hall, where Rumil and Orophin were tending Nolofinwë,
who had awoken.
Together, the elves, the woman, the dwarf, and the man left the
castle and returned to the safety of the forest. The orcs had
vanished. Legolas sent out scouts in every direction, but all
reported that the immediate vicinity was safethe orc bands
had dispersed as quickly as they had gathered.
"Maintain a minimal guard on the perimeter," said Legolas
to Haldir. "Tomorrow at dawn we will light the pyres and
burn the bodies. If the orcs do not return we will leave this
place by mid-morning. With luck, we will be back in Eryn Carantaur
by nightfall. In the meantime, March Warden, tell the cook to
prepare a feast tonight. Let us reward our warriors with some
much needed merry-making."
Eowyn's feet had been badly torn when she ran across the cave
floor and Legolas had insisted on carrying her all the way back
from the castle and into the healing cave.
"Please set her down here, my lord," said Dínendal,
pointing to a stone bed.
The healer examined the wounds carefully. "Some of these
are quite deep, my lady," he said, "and will need to
be stitched. And, since men heal more slowly than elves, we must
be very careful about infection. I will clean them and anoint
them with a healing salvethe salve you made, my ladyit
will also help reduce the pain. But you must not walk until your
feet are fully healed."
"How will I manage?" said Eowyn.
"I will carry you wherever you want to go, melmenya,"
"To the bathing room?"
Eowyn watched Dínendal as he collected all the materials
he needed. "What happened to his face?" she whispered.
Legolas hesitated. "Youeryou did it, melmenya.
Do you not remember?"
Eowyn stared at the healer open-mouthed. "I hit him?"
"Master Dínendal," she said, softly, "I
am so sorry. Please forgive me. I cannot think why I would have
done such a thing"
"Please do not be concerned, my lady," said Dínendal
graciously. "You were seeing things; ramblingand I
have had many a more serious injury from a wounded elf..."
"How is Finrod?" asked Legolas.
"He awoke from healing sleep almost an hour ago, my lord,"
said Dínendal. "And he has already taken some food.
I believe he will make a full recovery."
"That is good newsvery good news," said Legolas.
"And Master Nolofinwë?"
"He has been extremely fortunate, my lord. All he requires
"Are they well enough to answer some questions?" asked
"You could have a few moments with them now, my lord,"
replied the healer, "but I would much prefer it if you would
wait until morning."
"What do you remember, melmenya?" asked Legolas, as
he carried her back to their cave.
"It is strange," said Eowyn. "It all seemed real,
and yet a part of me knew that it could not be true... My body
had changedI had a tail, like a fish. And I could breathe
under the water." She buried her face in his shoulder and
whispered, "The merman wanted me to lie with himto
be his wife. He touched me. There."
"Melmenya..." Legolas began.
"I would not have given in to him, LegolasI swear
it. But you stopped him. You fought with him. And when
you had beaten him, you made love to me."
Legolas set her down on their bedroll. "I did make
love to you, melmenyawhen you were still unconscious. Master
Dinendal said it would save you from the poison. I am so sorry..."
She pressed her finger to his lips. "Shhhhh, shhhhhit
did save me, my love. It pulled me out of the nightmare."
"The merman showed me your life beneath the sea," said
Legolas. "It looked so beautifulyou looked beautiful,
swimming amongst the sea creatures. And you seemed so happy. Valar,"
he cried, "I almost lost you to the sea!"
"No!" cried Eowyn, hugging him fiercely. "Never!
I would never have left you! I would never have
yielded to him! My only desiremy only thoughtwas
to return to you!"
The feast was held in the clearing beside the healing cave. The
cook had outdone himself. There was fresh breadLegolas could
not imagine how it had been bakeda rabbit stew for those
who ate flesh, and a spicy vegetable dish for those who did not.
And for dessert there was compote of fresh and dried fruits, flavoured
with mead and decorated with wild herbs.
During the fighting, the diverse people of his colony had come
together as one. And here, at the feast, it was happening againGimli
was entertaining Valandil and Berryn with tales of the Ring war;
Rumil and Orophin were swapping stories with Orodreth and Camthalion;
and Amras was deep in discussion with Haldir. All around him Lorien
elves were singing with Mirkwood elves and Mirkwood elves were
dancing with elves from Imladris.
His colony was a success.
And he had Eowyn to share it with him.
Suddenly in high spirits, Legolas turned to her. "Would
you like to dance, my lady?" he asked.
Eowyn laughed. "How can I dance when I cannot walk?"
"I will show you!"
He leaped to his feet, scooped her up in his arms, and carried
her amongst the dancing elves, andweaving in and out between
themhe whirled her round and round, and they both laughed
until it hurt.
"Legolas? You are suddenly very quiet."
"I was thinking about the celebration after Helm's Deep,
meleth nín," he said.
"On the parapet outside the Golden Hall," said Eowyn.