Arod had stopped just beyond the forest edge and
Legolas, still badly shaken, was beginning to slide off his back.
Eowyn pulled in her reins, drawing Brightstar to a halt, leaped
to the ground and ran to the elf.
"Careful, my love," she cried, helping him dismount.
"Here, sit down." She guided him to the ground and then,
lifting his hair, examined his neck and throat.
There was no sign of any injury.
"Legolas," she said, softly, "what happened?"
He stared at her for a long moment, as though not understanding
what she was asking. "I do not know, melmenya," he said,
at last. "A bear does not normally attack an elf. I do not
know what happened..."
"I am not sure it was attacking you," said Eowyn, thinking
of the bear's strange behaviour before she had managed to drive
it away. "At least, I do not think that it meant to kill
He stared at her. "It... I... I do not know..."
"Can you ride?" she asked. "We should get you
back to campthough what are we going to do about your bow?
And your clothes? And, more importantly, my clothes?"
She looked down at her slim, bare legs beneath her short, yellow
tunic. "I look like Senta's little yellow bird!"
Legolas managed a shaky laugh. "I will send guards to fetch
them tomorrow, melmenya. It would be too dangerous to go back
Eowyn helped him to his feet. "Why are elves so unconcerned
about walking around naked?"
"Because we are beautiful."
Eowyn grinned, refusing to rise to the bait, and watched him
mount Arod. "Do you want me to ride with you?"
"No, melmenya, I feel much better now." He smiled,
reaching down to touch her face. "You have saved me once
"I will be glad to get back to camp," she replied,
suddenly feeling very tired, and she brought her hand up to her
mouth to stifle a yawn.
The next dayafter a detachment of guards had retrieved
Legolas' bow, and the remains of his and Eowyn's clothing (torn
to shreds by the bear), but had found no sign of the bear itselfthe
cavalcade resumed its journey northwards.
"We will continue along the west bank," said Legolas,
"until we reach the Old Ford. Once we have crossed to the
east, we have a choice: we can either take the Forest Road, south
of the mountains, until we reach the Forest River and then continue
north; or we can follow the Anduin past The Carrock, and then
take the Forest Path eastwards."
"Which do you recommend?" asked Eomer. "You know
these parts better than we do."
"It is some years since I ventured into the south of Mirkwood
and I doubt that it is still the wild, dangerous place it was
then. But I still think that we should take the Forest Path. It
is dark and narrow, but the Mirkwood elves and I know it well;
and it leads directly to my father's Halls."
Two weeks later
Legolas was growing more and more uneasy.
He looked ahead, checking the riders one by oneHaldir,
Valandil, Orodreth, and two Rohirrim, Captain Eofred and his lieutenant,
He scanned the rocks to the west. Clear. Then the forest edge
to the east. Clear.
On his right he could sense Eowyn, watching him anxiously. She
is worried about me, he thought, and he gave her what he hoped
was a reassuring smile.
Then he reined in Arod and pulled off the track to check the
rest of the cavalcade: Eomer, riding between his Chief Counsellor,
Colgan, and his secretary, Florestan; Lord Fingolfin flanked by
the cook, Master Elros, and the cartographer, Berryn; behind them,
Master Dínendal, the healer; ten pack animals; and then,
bringing up the rear, eight elven guards, including Camthalion,
Amras and Finrod, and twelve more Rohirrim. All safe.
Legolas sighed with relief.
"What is wrong?" asked Gimli, who was riding behind
"Nonsense!" huffed the dwarf, "you have been behaving
like a rabbit trapped in a dog kennel ever since we left The Golden
Woodand you are driving your poor lady crazy with it. What
is going on?"
"I have told Eowyn that she does not need to worry about
me," said Legolas. He sighed. "But we are not travelling
alone, Gimli. There are two shadows in my mindsomething
following us at a distance, and somethingor someonemuch,
She spent her days riding with the golden manE-o-merand
her nights lying by his side, happy for the first time in her
long, long life.
"Where are we going, beloved..." she asked.
"To the north, where The Great River disappears into Hithaeglir
and Ered Mithrin... Or to the east, where the wood elves live
amongst the caverns of Taur-En-Daedelos... And will we be staying
there... Or are we to make our home elsewhere..."
But E-o-mer did not reply.
"If only I could find some way to make you hear me, beloved..."
she said. "The elves can sense meespecially their
prince... I will do you no harm, your highness..." she
called to Legolas as he trotted past. "I will protect
you... I will protect all of you, for the sake of my love..."
For the first time since leaving Lorien, the cavalcade had decided
to take a day's rest from travel, and had camped close to The
Legolas looked at Eowyn, sitting on a rock by the river, watching
the water sparkle in the sunlight. I have been neglecting her,
he thought. I have been far too preoccupied with the safety
of the others.
"Would you care for a stroll, melmenya?"
"Yes!" she cried, leaping to her feet. "Can we
cross to the island?"
Legolas caught her about the waist, laughing. "Of course.
But are you sure you are not too tired?"
She came up on tiptoe to whisper in his ear, "I am never
too tired to spend time alone with you, Lassui."
Legolas kissed her forehead. "I am sorry melmenya,"
he said, as he watched her mount Brightstar. "I have been
worried these last few days." He sprang up onto Arod's back.
"I know," Eowyn replied, softly. "But that is
only to be expected. This meeting with your father..."
"It is not just my father, melmenya," he admitted,
as they were riding, side by side, down to the ford.
"It is the bear," said Eowyn.
Legolas frowned. "What makes you say that, Eowyn nín?"
"You have been nervous ever since that day."
"The bear..." said Legolas quietly.
Eowyn urged Brightstar forward, and began picking her way across
the partially submerged rocks. "Do you think it is the bear
that you have been sensing? Following us?" she called over
her shoulder. "But why would it travel so far from its home?
What would it want with us?"
"I do not know, melmenya," Legolas replied, softly,
and Eowyn, concentrating on the ford, did not notice his reluctance
"Do you know any more about the other shadow?" she
asked. "The thing that is closer?"
"No, melmenya. I cannot quite... I cannot reach it. I know
it is there, but I cannot reach it."
"What does it feel like?"
Legolas thought for a moment. "Like someone watching me
from across a crowded room..."
When they reached the shore of The Carrock, they dismounted and
started the long climb to the summit. After a few steps, Eowyn
stopped, turned southwards, and stretched out her arms, to catch
the cool breeze blowing off the Anduin.
"Are you sure you can manage the stairs, melmenya?"
"Why would I not be able to?"
Legolas grinned and, slipping past her, ran nimbly up to the
next rocky ledge and waited, with exaggerated impatience, for
her to catch up.
"Elves," Eowyn grumbled, as she carried on climbing,
steadily. "Just because you can run up the leg of
a Mûmakand walk on top of snow..." She smiled
to herself. But you wait, melethron.
When she reached the ledge, she suddenly leaned forward and,
resting her hands on her bent knees, made a great show of trying
to catch her breath.
The concern in his voice gave her a brief pang of consciencebut
only for a split second. The moment she felt his hand on her back
she grasped his waist and pulled him down to the ground. Laughing,
Legolas wrapped his arms around her and they both rolled around
the rock ledge, Eowyn tickling his sides whilst he tried, half-heartedly,
to remove her hands. Eventually, they came to a rest, lying side
by side, both gazing up at the cloudless sky.
"I have missed you," said Eowyn, softly.
"I am sorry, melmenya."
"We have not made love in days."
"I know. I..."
"You are uncomfortable, lying so close to the othersso
He rolled over and brought himself up on his elbows. "It
is not so much the others, melmenya," he said, stroking a
strand of hair from her face. "Though I admit that Eomer
scowls at me whenever I come near you. And I am always expecting
Haldir to take me to one side and warn me thatif I expect
to keep youI must improve my technique"
"Legolas!" Eowyn blushed and, at the same time,
grinned at his wickedness. "What is it then?" she asked.
His explanation was cut short by a roar so defeaning, it seemed
to be coming from inside The Carrock, just a few feet above
them. They both scrambled to their feet, and Legolasgrasping
Eowyn by the waistthrew her over his shoulder and ran down
the stone steps, back to the safety of the ford.
"Was it the bear again?" asked Eowyn.
"I do not know, melmenya, but I am not taking any chances."
He lifted her onto Arod's back and sprang up behind her. "Tolo,
Brightstar," he called, as he urged Arod across the ford,
"bedithon minui, aphado nin."
And Eowyn, seated sideways like a lady, and cradled in Legolas'
arms, wondered if she should protest but, when she opened her
mouth, the only words that came out were, "Thank you."
"Anything?" asked Captain Eofred.
"I am not sure," said Halrand. They had searched every
inch of The Carrock. "What do you make of this, Valandil?"
The wood elf crouched beside the man and drew his fingers lightly
over the rocky ground. "No," he said. "There was
something standing here, but it was not a bear."
"That is what I thought," said Halrand. "I think
it is a woman's footprintLady Eowyn must have been here.
But, then, I cannot find any trace of Prince Legolas."
"I am not sure that elves leave footprints, Halrand,"
said Eofred, quietly.
"Oh, noof course not." He grinned at Valandil.
"Perhaps it was an elven bear..."
Valandil grinned back. "Perhaps it was an elven elfperhaps
the Prince just wanted to scare Lady Eowyn so that he could carry
her back to the camp across his horse..."
They both laughed.
Eofred cleared his throat. "We had better be getting back,"
he said, and started down the stone steps.
Halrand winked at Valandil and whispered, "Captain Eofred
thinks that the sun shines out of the Prince's"
"Halrand!" barked Eofred.
Valandil flashed his human friend a sympathetic smile.
Despite Captain Eofred's report, Legolas had decided to move
the camp several miles up river, double the guards on the perimeter,
and join the first watch himself, sitting in one of the stunted
trees that dotted the Anduin flood plain.
I must tell Eowyn exactly what happened that day, he thought.
"Humph," said Gimli. "How do you see through the
back of your head? And do not try to tell me that my breathing
gave me away, for I was holding my breath."
Legolas smiled. "Yes; but you were not holding your beard,
mellon nín," he said. "And the beads in
your braids are noisy." He shrugged his shoulders. "Come,
Gimli, climb up and sit beside me."
The dwarf shook his head. "No. You come down here."
Laughing, Legolas dropped lightly to the ground and sat down,
cross-legged, beside the dwarf. "What is troubling you, elvellon?"
"I have been thinking about this bear business," said
Gimli. "When my father travelled through these parts with
Thorin Oakenshield and young Frodo's uncle"
"Bilbo," said Legolas.
"Yes. There was a man that lived herea skin changercalled
Legolas nodded. "I met him," he said, "on several
"My father told me that Beorn could turn himself into a
bear at will, and that he passed on his powers to all the men
of his line."
"It is true, elvellon."
"Then could not this bear be one of Beorn's descendants?"
Legolas shook his head. "I have wondered that myself, Gimli,
but, on reflection, I do not think so. Beorn was a noble, good-hearted
man and his descendants have inherited his nature. Besides,"
he added, quietly, "this bear does not behave like a man."
Two days later
It is hard to believe, thought Eowyn, as the cavalcade
rode along the edge of Greenwood the Great, following the great
impenetrable wall of its outer trees, that Legolas was living
here long before it was tainted by Sauron's evil...
She glanced at the elf.
"Melmenya?" Riding close beside her, Legolas had sensed
a change in her mood.
"Are you pleased to be home?" she asked.
"That is not what you were thinking," he chided, gently.
"Nono, it is not."
"Were you worrying about meeting my father?"
"No..." She glanced at Gimli, seated behind Legolas.
The dwarf was dozing, his head resting on the elf's shoulder.
"I was thinking," she said, quietly, "about the
difference in our ages"
"and I was wondering why you have been so distant
Legolas did not reply.
"Every night you seem to avoid coming to bed until I am
asleep." She looked again at Gimli, making sure that he was
not listening. "You have not made love to me since Lorien,
Legolas." She looked at him beseechingly. "I know that
you still need mesometimes, when I wake, you are holding
me so tightly I can scarcely breathe. But what is it my love?
Can you not tell me what is wrong?"
"We are here, your Highness," called Valandil, from
up ahead. "The Forest Gate."
Legolas sighed. "We will talk later, I promise, and I will
explain everything to you, melmenya."
He pulled out from the cavalcade and cantered to where the Mirkwood
elves were waiting for him.
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! the elves'-eyes!
Gerard Manley Hopkins
The entrance to the Forest Path was like an 'arch made by' two
'great trees that leant together, too old and strangled with ivy
and hung with lichen to bear more than a few blackened leaves.'
The whole party dismounted and, leading the horses, passed one
by one through the forbidding opening and made their way along
the narrow path, winding 'in and out among the trunks' until 'the
light at the gate was like a little bright hole far behind'.
At first the forest was oppressive, and the men were troubled
by the unfamiliar shapes and smells, and by 'queer noises''grunts,
scufflings' and 'hurryings in the undergrowth'. But as they travelled
deeper, the forest grew lighter, the darkness broken by 'slender
beams of sun' slicing through the 'tangled boughs and matted twigs',
and splashing the ground with patches of brightness. And then,
in the pockets of light, they began to notice little 'black squirrels'
scampering along the branches, and birds nesting in the forest
canopy, and colourful butterflies flitting amongst the bushes,
andeverywherenew, green shoots sparkling like
precious emeralds against the old black leaves.
"The forest has begun to live again," said Legolas,
looking around in wonder.
Every night the wood elves built Eowyn a small shelter to undress
and sleep in. On their first night in Mirkwood, she had gone to
bed early, exhausted by the day's worries, and had fallen asleep
alone but, sometime in the early hours of the morning, she awoke
to find Legolas lying beside her.
Remembering his earlier promise, she rolled over and straddled
To her horror, Legolas immediately threw up his arms, crying
out, in a mixture of fear and anger, "Get away from me, brôg!"
Eowyn clamped her hand over his mouth.
"Legolas!" she hissed, desperately, as they wrestled
in the bedroll, "hush, my love, shhhhh, shhhhh!
I am not the bear; I am not the bear!"
He continued to struggle for just a moment longer, then she felt
him collapse beneath her, as if defeated. Slowly, she removed
her hand. "I am so sorry Legolas," she whispered. "I
did not realise."
"I... Oh, melmenya, I..." Legolas shook his head, confused.
"Did I hurt you?"
"No, my love." She settled down beside him, one arm
lying protectively across his chest. "What is wrong Legolas?"
she asked. "You must have been attacked by animals beforewargs,
spiders, orcseven threatened by bearswhat made that
day so different? What happened, my darling, before I arrived?
Sometimes it helps just to say these things out loud."
Legolas sighed. "It licked me," he finally admitted.
"I saw it."
He turned to face her. "No, melmenya. It licked me. Licked
all of me..." He could not say any more.
"Oh, my love!" cried Eowyn. She held out her arms to
him and he laid his head on her breast.
"I wanted to tell you, melmenya," he whispered, "but
I could not bring myself to admit it."
"I had the strangest feelingas if the bear was trying
to seduce me. What sort of elf is desired by a bear?"
"Are you still sensing that? From the shadow?"
"There is some desire, yes. But, mostly, there is anger."
"Towards me? For driving it away from you? Is that is why
you carried me down The Carrock?"
He nodded. "It seems to hate you."
"Just let it come near me again!"
He smiled. "I should have known how you would react, Eowyn
nín." Then he added, very softly, "I need
"Oh, my love!" She kissed him tenderly. "You have
been needing me for two weeks. Lie back..." She pushed him
gently onto the bedroll, unlaced his leggings, and lovingly stroked
him, coaxing him to full hardness. "I have heard women say,"
she said, softly, 'that the male member is ugly. But I
think it is beautiful." She leaned forward and pressed her
lips to his shaft, whispering, "I think that you are very
"That is the most loving thing anyone could say, melmenya,"
he whispered back.
Smiling, she curled her hand around him and took him in her mouth,
sucking gently. His body arched with pleasure but, after a few
moments, he reached down and stroked her hair.
"Let me make love to you, Eowyn nín,"
She let him take his time, with long, slow, strokes, that had
her writhing beneath himbegging softly for moreuntil,
very gradually, with no increase of speed or vigour, he brought
them both to a mutual release, clamping his hand tightly over
her mouth to prevent her rousing the entire camp with her scream.
He awoke her just after dawn. "Good morning, melmenya,"
he said, cheerfully. "It is a fine day and we will be starting
"I need some breakfast," said Eowyn.
"All in good time, meleth nín." He dipped
a piece of linen in the bowl of scented water he was holding.
"We must make you presentable." He wrung out the cloth
and gently began to wash her face. "You have a smear of dirt
on your nose and chin," he said, smiling.
"Is the bear still following us?"
"I have not sensed it since we entered the forest, Eowyn
That would explain his good mood, she thought. Though I may have
helped, a little, too.
"What are you smiling about?" he asked.
"Nothing," she said. "What about the other shadow?"
"It is still with us, but it means us no harm." He
sponged her arms and hands.
"How do you know?"
"It seems that I am not the only one who can sense it. Most
of the elves are aware of it, though I seem to be more sensitive
to it than mostsensitive to her"
"A woodland sprite, melmenya. A very ancient being. She
has followed us from Lorienin fact, the Lorien elves are
quite familiar with her kind."
"Why did she come with us?"
"Lorien is desertedI suppose she wanted company."
"Where is she?"
"She seems to spend most of her time with your brother."
"Does Eomer know?"
"Noand there is no reason why he ever should, melmenya.
I doubt that she will remain with us much longer, now that she
back in the forest, where she belongs."
He wrung out the cloth and began, slowly and gently, to wash
Eowyn sighed contentedly.
"If I tell you something else, do you think you can keep
it quiet, meleth nín?" he asked.
Eowyn looked surprised. "Of course," she said.
Legolas leant forward and whispered something in her ear. Eowyn
laughed loudlyand, for a moment, the buzz of conversation
in the rest of the camp came to an abrupt halt.
"You promised," Legolas complained.
Eowyn swatted his arm, still smiling happily.
The enchanted river
On the seventh day after entering the forest, they 'found their
path blocked by a running water. It flowed fast and strong but
not very wide ... and it was black, or looked it in the gloom',
and smelled brackish.
"It is known as the enchanted river," Legolas explained
to the men. "Anyone who drinks from it will fall into a profound
sleep that may last for several days. We must cross without touching
"How?" asked Gimli.
"There is a rope bridge," said Valandil, "concealed
in the trees. It will not take us long to arrange it." He
and Orodreth left the main path and followed an even narrower
trackall but invisible to the eyes of menalong the
very edge of the river bank, until they reached a tree that was
straighter and even sturdier than those around it, and began to
"I cannot do that," said Gimli.
"Neither can I," said Eomer.
"And nor can the horses," said Eowyn.
"Do not worry," said Legolas, taking Eowyn's hand.
"Once Valandil and Orodreth have erected the bridge, we can
all walk across."
The men watched nervously as Valandil tied a rope around his
waist then stepped gracefully along a narrow branch that almost
spanned the river.
"Why is the water still tainted?" asked Eomer. "The
rest of the forest is recovering, but the trees along the river
banks look dead. Does the river flow from Dol Guldur?"
"No," said Legolas. "Its source is in the Mountains
Several of the men gasped as Valandil leapt effortlessly down
to the far bank.
"It was the wood elves who first cast the enchantment,"
Legolas continued. "In the days before the Greenwood was
contaminated by Sauron's evil, the river granted travellers a
few hours rest that did them no harm but was enough to deter all
but the most honourableor the most determinedfrom
going any further."
Valandil had untied the rope from about his waist and was using
it to haul a large bundle across the water.
"But when Sauron's evil turned Mirkwood into a place of
dread and darkness, and his foulness leached out of the soil and
into the water, the enchantment became a real danger." Legolas
sighed. "We can only hope that, in time, the river will clear
Valandil and Orodreth had unrolled the bundle and were securing
its ends to two pairs of sturdy trees on either bank.
"Perhaps your father could build a permanent bridge,"
"You will have to talk to him about that, mellon
nín," said Legolas, smiling.
Haldir, Orodreth, Eofred and Halrand crossed first, to secure
the eastern side of the river, then the remainder of the cavalcade
made its way across the swaying bridge, one at a time, each leading
his horse behind him.
Legolas and Eowyn waited on the western bank until the last man
"Your turn, melmenya," said Legolas.
Eowyn nodded. She took hold of Brightstar's bridle and led him
down to the river, talking to him quietly. But, as they reached
the water's edge, the horse suddenly stopped.
"Come Brightstar," Eowyn insisted, "come, there
is nothing to fear. What is wrong?oh!"
The horse had pulled away from her and, rearing up on its hind
legs, seemed to be trying to protect her from something in the
trees behind. A second later, a huge, golden bear emerged from
the undergrowth, knocked the horse away with a swipe of its paw,
and lashed out at the woman.
Eowyn dodged backwards, and stumbled and, for a moment, she seemed
to hang in the air, struggling to maintain her balance... Then
she fell into the water, and disappeared under the blackness.