They waited until Berodin was safely inside the
Banqueting Hall, then they rode down to Rath Amrûn on Eowyn's
horse, leading Arod behind them.
"Legolas will have my beard for this," grumbled Gimli.
"You will be responsible for the world's first bald-faced
dwarf... And where is your hair, might I ask?"
"Senta would not let me cut it off," said Eowyn. "She
pasted it down with lanolin and covered it with my cap. It smells
"Thank Aulë," said Gimli, "I was afraid I
might have to revive the elf after he caught sight of your cropped
Eowyn laughed, her worries forgotten for the momentbut
they soon returned. "We will find him, Gimli."
"Of course we will, lass."
"Are you sure you know the plan?"
"Tell me once more."
Gimli sighed. "You have grown far too much like him,"
he said. "Very wellyou will go to the back door and
demand to see Olemi, claiming that he owes you money. Whilst you
are making a commotion, I will strike the lock off the
cellar door and enter the houseyou are sure that there is
a cellar door?"
"Yes, Lëonórwyn was forced to go down there
to fetch her own coals. She says there is a trapdoor and she is
almost certain that it leads to the passageway at the side of
the house. She tried to open it, but it was locked from the outside."
"From the outsidethat is strange," said Gimli.
"As if the lock were intended to keep people in, rather
"We shall see," said Gimli. "What about the inner
"It is wooden and nothing an axe cannot demolish. It opens
into the passage leading from the kitchen to the entrance hall."
"It will need to be a long commotionand loud."
"I will do the best I can."
"Remember: if things turn nasty, run. Hit them where it
hurts and get out. Do not worry about anyone else, just get back
to the Citadel."
Eowyn said nothing.
"Promise me, or the deal is off," said Gimli.
"The deal in which I risk my life for your husband and in
return he throws me to the orcs for not keeping you safe in the
King's House," said Gimli. "That deal."
"Thank you, Gimli," said Eowyn, softly, "I promise.
But, if all goes well, I will try to make myself known to Olemi
and Admant and persuade them to take me up the tower. With luck,
you will already be there. With Legolas."
"Do not hope for too much luck, lass," said Gimli,
gently. "Berodin may have imprisoned him elsewhere."
"I know," said Eowyn. "But I cannot help
"Come," said Haldir.
Dínendal was scanning the Banqueting Hall, searching for
a familiar face. "I thought we were going to wait until the
guests had started eating," he said.
"I have changed my mind," said Haldir.
"I cannot see Lady Eowyn."
"What do you mean?"
"She was not at the killing of the wren," said Dínendal,
"and she is not in the Banqueting Hall. I am worried. She
may be... distressed."
"I am sure she is."
"I mean unwell," said Dínendal. "Humans
are prone to an illness called melancholia. It is like the sea
longing in many respects, but there is no equivalent of Valinor.
The afflicted can become so despondent thatin some casesthey
will take their own lives."
Haldir shook his head. "It is true that Lady Eowyn was upset
earlier, but she is not the sort to succumb to despair. She is
the sort to..." His voice trailed away, and the two elves
stared at each other. "I thought Lëonórwyn
was behaving suspiciously," said Haldir, "and she was
fetching something from the stables."
"Lord Gimli is not here, either," said Dínendal.
"We had better hurry."
The woman and the dwarf dismounted a few hundred yards from Berodin's
house. Eowyn began tethering the horses, but changed her mind
and, instead, patted Brightstar's neck. "Avo visto,
Brightstar," she said, repeating the words she had often
heard Legolas use, "avo visto, Arod."
"Will that work?" asked Gimli.
"I hope so," said Eowyn, "we may need them to
come to us in a hurry."
"How well can you whistle?"
Eowyn smiled. "I will manage," she said.
They walked to the corner of Berodin's house, slipped into the
passageway beside it, andto Gimli's surprisesoon found
the cellar door, sealed with a large padlock.
"Stay here," whispered Eowyn to the dwarf. "I
will make as much noise as I can."
She carried on down the passage and turned the corner. Then,
screwing up her courage, she hammered loudly on the back door
and, making her voice sound as deep as she could, she shouted,
"Olemi! Olemi, come out here and face me or I will bring
the guards! Olemi! Come out!"
The door flew open and Eowyn found herself face to face with
a large womanThe cook, she thoughtblocking
the entrance with her legs astride and her hands on her hips.
Eowyn swaggered manfully. "Where's Olemi?" she cried.
"He owes me money! I want to see himnow!"
To her surprise, the woman laughed.
"Well aren't we the little fireball?" she said. "How
old are you? Fifteen? Sixteen? What trouble's Olemi been getting
you into, lad?"
It was hardly the response Eowyn had expected and she decided
that an insult was called for. "Who are youhis mother?"
The woman laughed again, delightedly.
Gods, thought Eowyn, this is not how it happens in stories. By
now, the whole house should be in an uproar.
"Let me in!" she shouted.
The woman stepped aside.
Orc's breath. Nothing works!
Eowyn looked around the kitchen. It was empty. Silent. The whole
house was silent. "Where is everybody?" she asked.
"The cat's away, so the mice are out playing for a couple
of hours," said the woman.
"All of them?"
"All except me. Your friend Olemi's being 'bitten' by one
of the golden geese as we speak." She winked and took a step
towards Eowyn. "Is that where you met him? You're a handsome
little fellow, aren't you?"
"Madam!" cried Eowyn, "please..."
She backed against the wall.
"You're all polite now!" laughed the woman, coming
closer. Eowyn could smell the ale on her breath. "I'll bet
that, for all your bluster, you've never done it, have you, lad?
Want to learn from an expert?"
"No!" cried Eowyn, as the woman's hand slipped between
"What the..." The woman stared down at her. "You're
"Sorry mistress," said Eowyn, as the woman dropped
to the floor, knocked out by Eowyn's staff.
"Gimli! Gimli!" shouted Eowyn.
The dwarf came running down the passage, his axe drawn. "What
is it, lass?"
"The house is empty," she said, leading him through
the door, "but I do not think we have much time."
Gimli stepped over the cook. "What happened?" he asked.
"She tried to seduce me," said Eowyn, absently.
She was opening doors, looking for a way through to the front
of the house. "This is it," she said, and they hurried
down a narrow corridor that took them, almost miraculously, from
the drabness of the servants' quarters into the gilded opulence
of the entrance hall.
"Berodin is not short of a gold piece or two," said
"Lëonórwyn thinks that the stairs to the tower
are at the back of the lobby," said Eowyn, examining the
wall beside the main stairs.
"Here," said Gimli, opening a small door, "a spiral
staircase." He pressed his ear to the wall and listened carefully.
"It is hard to believe," he said, "that they have
really left the lad here unguarded, but I cannot hear anyone moving
up thereall the same, better let me go first, just in case."
Eowyn sighed. "Very well," she said, "though it
is really not necessary. Ioh!" She grasped his
arm, startled by a loud pounding at the main entrance.
"Who is that?" said Gimli.
"How should I know?"
The pounding continued.
"We cannot ignore it," said Eowyn. "A house this
size would never be left completely empty." She glanced around
the entrance hall. "Hide in the staircase," she said.
"I will answer the door and send whoever it is away."
She pushed the protesting dwarf out of sight, straightened her
cap, and limped purposefully to the entrance.
The pounding was growing more insistent.
She pulled back the heavy bolts, lifted the latch, and opened
the solid wooden door. "Yes?"
"Where is he?" cried the visitor, pushing her roughly
out of the way. He rushed through the hall and threw open the
door to the front parlour.
Eowyn went after him. "Who is it you seek, sir?" she
"Whom do I seek? Your orc of a master," He shook a
piece of crumpled parchment in Eowyn's face. "A ransom! Did
he think I would not know who was responsible? I followed his
miserable henchmen here! Three hundred gold pieces! I am
a poor man, but I will give him gold pieces! I will give him as
many as he can eat!"
"Sir," cried Eowyn, "what are you saying?"
She pursued the angry man into the parlour and followed him around
the room, watching him pull aside hangings, and look under chairs
and tables, as though he might find Berodin hiding behind the
"What am I saying, you animal?" he cried. "I am
saying that you have taken my son. My son!" He lunged at
She dodged his hands. "Sir," she cried, "I am
not Berodin's servant! I am here for the same reason as youI
hope to rescue someone I love!" But, ignoring her words,
the man grabbed at her again, this time getting his hands around
"Awwww!" roared Gimli, rushing forward with his axe
At the sound of the battle cry, the man dropped Eowyn and turned,
bewildered, to face the dwarf. "Whatwho are you?"
"I am the dwarf who will blunt his axe on your head if you
do not step away from her," cried Gimli.
"Do as he saysget away from her," said a quieter
voice, from the direction of the door, his words accompanied by
the unmistakable sound of a great Galadhrim bow being drawn.
"Wait," croaked Eowyn, scrambling to her feet, and
holding up her hands to stay both Gimli and Haldir, "we need
him. Aragorn needs his testimony." She turned to the man.
"Sir," she said, with surprising calm, "we are
also here to rescue one of Berodin's victims. And we must be quick.
You can come with usand perhaps find your sonor you
can continue to obstruct us, in which case Gimli will tie you
up. The choice is yours."
The man stared at her, dumbfounded.
"We do not have much time," she urged.
"You are a woman..."
"Leave him," she cried, "his fire is burned out;
he is harmless now. We must find Legolas." She limped out
of the parlour, through the lobby and started climbing the spiral
stairs. Haldir followed her, beckoning to Dínendal, who
was hovering by the front door.
Gimli poked the man with his axe. "Go on," he said,
The key to the tower room wasjust as Admant had saidhanging
by the door. Nervously, Eowyn took it down from the hook and tried
to fit it into the lock.
"Let me help you, my lady," said Haldir, gently guiding
her shaking hand.
The key turned with a loud click and, together, Eowyn and Haldir
pushed open the door.
"You are not leaving already, Master Edric?" cried
"Aye, landlord," said Edric. "'Tis no reflection
on your tavern. I have had my hour. Olemi did not need
anywhere near an hour with Marglyn,"three of
his comrades raised their tankards and cheered"Admant
is sulking because the dwarf has carried off Esmarë. Osuald,
Ricbert and Penda are already the worse for ale...
"And we must all be getting back, for we have left Lord
Berodin's house unguarded for far too long."
Eomer was used to open plains, not city streets and, as he wound
his way down the narrow raths, he felt as though every window
and every doorway he passed was filled with prying eyes.
What I am about to do, he thought, breaking into the
private house of a citizen of another realm, is madness. If I
am caught there will be a scandal. And Lothiriel will never speak
to me again.
But, then, Lothiriel might never speak to me again if I use
the wrong knife at dinner...
He tethered his horse near the fifth gate, adjusted his hunting
knives, pulled the hood of his black cloak down over his face
and proceeded along Rath Amrûn on foot.
Eowyn stepped through the door and looked around the tower room.
It was dark but, as her eyes adjusted, she could make out the
outline of an occupied bed, a wash stand beside it, a small table
with two chairs, andshe cried out in reliefan elf.
Legolas was lying awkwardly on the floor, in the bay of the massive
window, clearly injured. She ran to him and took him in her arms.
"Legolas," she said softly, "Legolas, can you
hear me?" Slowly, the elf opened his eyes, recognised her,
and tried to smilebut only managed a grimace.
"Oh, my love," she whispered.
In the dim light of the candle that Haldir had found and lit,
she could see the angry bruises on Legolas' face and neck, and
a makeshift bandage around his head.
"Dernhelm," sighed Legolas.
"Yes, my darling," said Eowyn, pressing her lips to
the top of his head, "Dernhelm."
"Please, allow me, my lady," said Dínendal,
gently, taking Legolas from her arms and laying him down on the
floor. "Can you bring that light a little closer, March Warden?"
He removed the bandage and looked carefully at Legolas' wounda
deep gash near the hairline that someone had tried to clean and
dress. Then he carefully palpated the bruises on his forehead
and throat. "Open your eyes, my lord," he said, "and
look at me. How many fingers can you see?"
"One," said Legolas, hoarsely.
"Good. Now keep your eyes on my finger..." Dínendal
watched Legolas' gaze follow the movement of his hand. "Very
good, my lord," he said. "March Warden, I suggest that
you take Lord Legolas and Lady Eowyn back to the Citadel."
He pulled Haldir aside. "He does not seem to have suffered
any lasting harm, but I suggest that you have Lady Eowyn sit behind
him, to support him, and ride very slowly, just in case."
The front of the house is far too exposed, thought Eomer.
Overlooked by at least three sets of windows, and anyone
could be lurking under that archway...
He slipped into the passage running along the north wall and
looked for a possible means of entry. There was a line of smallish
windows on the second floor, but the wall beneath them was far
too smooth to climb. Halfway down the passage there was a cellar
door, but that was secured with a solid-looking padlock...
Perhaps the back of the house would be more inviting. Eomer turned
the corner, and shook his head in disbelief.
The back door was open.
He slipped silently to the side of the lighted entrance, flattened
himself against the wall and drew both hunting knives. Then he
swung himself through the door, his body poised, his knives raised.
The kitchen was deserted, apart from the woman lying on the floor.
Eomer crouched beside her. She had a large bruise on the side
of her headwhich looked suspiciously like a blow from a
quarterstaff. But she smells so strongly of ale, he thought,
that she might have knocked herself out falling against the
edge of the table. At any rate, she is still alive...
Then something else caught his attention.
Voices. Coming down the passage. By the gods, at least
five men. Drunk and spoiling for a fight!
Abandoning the distraught father to Dínendal's care, Gimli
approached the dark figure lying in the bed. "Master Berkin,"
he said, "we have come to take you up to the Citadel."
Berkin pushed himself up on his arms. "You are the dwarf,"
he said, "the King's friend. Admant told me about you."
Gimli bowed. "That is right, lad. Let me help you up."
Berkin shook his head, sadly. "I cannot leave, my lord.
Not yet. Please go. Go quickly."
"Why would you want to stay, lad?" asked Gimli, confused.
"I am very close."
"To proving that Berodin killed my parents"
"Where is my son? He is not here!" cried the father,
"Who is that?" asked Berkin.
"Another victim of your uncle's greed," said Gimli.
"His son has been kidnapped."
"Ask him to come over here," said Berkin.
"Lad," said Gimli, shaking his head, "we cannot
stay. There is no time. Come with us and we will help you avenge
Berkin sighed. "I cannot," he said. "There are
documentsand other thingsstill hidden in the house."
"Tell the King about them. With your evidence, he can send
the guards to search for them."
Berkin looked into Gimli's eyes. "I can see that you are
a mana dwarfof honour," he said. "But if
I leave with you, my uncle will destroy everything."
"Then we will get it now lad," said Gimli. He turned
to Dínendal. "Take the man down the stairs and out
through the front door, my friend," he said. "Master
Berkin and I will follow as soon as we can."
Eomer sprang to his feet and looked for a place to hide.
Beyond the unconscious woman there was another door, which appeared
to lead to the rest of the house and, from that direction, he
thought he could hear quiet footsteps.
Someone small, he thought. Perhaps another woman.
As he stepped warily into the corridor, a slender silhouette
appeared at the far end. No, not a womana young lad.
And if I can take him hostage, I will have something to bargain
Carrying Legolas, Haldir followed Eowyn down the spiral staircase
and into the entrance hall.
"Take him through here," said Eowyn, softly, opening
the front door. "Arod should be waiting nearby. I told him
not to stray."
She stepped aside to let Haldir pass, and suddenly became aware
of a black shape moving silently down the corridor towards her.
Her first thoughther only thoughtwas to protect Legolas.
"Go!" she cried, pushing Haldir through the door. Then,
raising her staff to guard, she turned to face the danger. It
was a man, tall and broad, armed with a hunting knife. She waited,
motionless, until he emerged into the hallway, then she brought
her staff down on his outstretched arm with all her strength.
The man yelped and dropped his knife.
Head! thought Eowyn, swinging the staff back to the other side
of her body, one good blow will finish him off.
But, as she began to strike, something about him suddenly seemed
familiar"Eomer!" she cried, diverting her blow
away from his headand missing him by mere inches.
"What in Middle-earth are you doing here?" hissed
her brother, angrily.
"I am rescuing Legolas," said Eowyn. Then she smiled,
"And so are you!"
"How many times must I tell you"
The lecture was interrupted by loud noises from the kitchen.
Brother and sister stared down the corridor. The men had found
the unconscious cook. "The servants have returned,"
said Eomer. "We must get out of here, now! Come on!"
"No. Gimli and Dínendal are still upstairs."
She pointed to the staircase.
"I will stay to help them," said Eomer. "You go!"
To his surprise, Eowyn did not argue. "I will take Legolas
back to the King's House," she said. She caught his arm.
"Take my staff. And be careful, Eomer."
He patted her shoulder. "I will. Now go!"
Haldir had summoned Arod and was lifting Legolas onto the horse's
back. "My lady," he said, his relief at seeing her safe
obvious, "come, you must ride behind him."
Eowyn ran down the steps and mounted Arod, taking Legolas in
her arms. She looked down at Haldir. "Eomer is in there,"
she said. "The servants have returned and Eomer has gone
upstairs to help Gimli and Dínendal." She hesitated,
biting her lip.
Haldir nodded, in understanding: "You go, my ladygo
slowly," he said. "I will stay."
He slapped Arod's flank.
It was a long, slow journey back up to the Citadel.
Eowyn cradled Legolas in her arms, talking softly, asking him
simple questions, trying to keep his mind active and focussed.
As they reached the fifth level, she began to notice groups of
people making their way down to the lower levels.
Aragorn's guests, she thought, returning home from
And Berodin will be amongst them.
Eowyn wondered what to do. He is unlikely to try to stop us
in public, she thought, but he will know that something
has happened at the house, and that will put Eomer and the others
in even more danger. We could hide in an alley until everyone
has passed by, but that might take hours, and I need to get Legolas
She decided to keep going.
Slowly, they made their way along Rath Bein, through the great
stone spur, and through the sixth gate, then they turned sharply
down Rath Fain, rode up through the long, lamp-lit tunnel to the
seventh gate and into the Place of the Fountain.
And there she saw himher enemyriding a magnificent
white stallion from the Downs of Rohan. As they passed, his face
was a mask of cold fury, and his dark, hawk-like eyes seemed to
bore through her flesh and pierce her very spirit.
Instinctively, Eowyn tightened her hold on Legolas and, suppressing
a shudder, bowed her head politely as she rode by.
Aragorn was standing with Arwen on the steps of the King's House,
bidding farewell to the last of their guests, when he noticed
a strange couple riding into the courtyard. A young lad and an
injured elfEowyn and Legolas!
He ran down the steps, with Arwen following. "Is he..."
"He will be all right," said Eowyn, "Master Dínendal
says that he will make a complete recovery. But we must be careful
with him. I need to put him to bed and get his wound cleaned and
"Let me take him."
Aragorn lifted Legolas down from the horse and, with Arwen's
help, carried him into the house. Eowyn dismounted and, leaving
Arod in the care of the servants, ran up the steps after them.
"Halmant," Aragorn called to his secretary, "send
Master Cuthbert to Prince Legolas' apartment."
"At once, your Majesty."
"Aragorn," cried Eowyn, chasing after him, "wait!
Eomer and the others are still in the house, and Berodin is returning."
Aragorn swore. "Halmant!" he shouted. "Before
you speak to the healer, send Captain Berctuald down to Lord Berodin's
house on Rath Amrûn. Tell him to do whatever he thinks
necessary to get my friends out of there with the minimum
"How is he?" asked Aragorn, anxiously.
Master Cuthbert dipped a clean piece of linen into the bowl of
herb-infused water, carefully squeezed it out, and gently began
to clean away the dried blood from Legolas' wound.
"Remarkable," he said, softly. "You need not worry,
your Majesty," he said to Aragorn, "he shows no signs
of having sustained permanent damage to his brain, and his wound
is already healing. All he needs is rest. It is quite remarkable."
"Good," said Aragorn. He looked at Eowyn, who was sitting
on the other side of the bed, holding Legolas' hand. "In
that case we will leave him with youbut I shall have something
to say to you, my lady, and to the others, if they survive
Lord Berodin's wrathtomorrow."
He swept out of the apartment.
Arwen gave Eowyn an apologetic smile, then followed her husband.
Eowyn, holding Legolas in her arms, pulled him closer. "I
am here, my love."
"I was afraid."
"Of what, my darling?" she asked.
With an effort, he turned himself and buried his face in her
shoulder, and he spoke so quietly that she had to strain to hear
"All through the Ring war," he said, "I was never
afraid of death. For the first time, I saw others dieGandalf,
Boromir. Your uncle. It was terrible. Senseless. But I did not
fear it, for I did not know what it meant. Not until now..."
"What does it mean, Legolas?" she asked softly.
"It means leaving," he said. "In the world
of the elves, life was eternal. But in this worldthis world
of menlife is brief, and fragile, and losing it means leavingand
I do not want to leave you."