wofram and eowyn

“You think,” said Eowyn, “that tupping can get you out of any trouble.”

Legolas laughed, nuzzling her neck. He had pushed her onto the bed the moment they had entered their chamber and, arms wrapped around her waist, was wrestling with her, completely ignoring her attempts to argue.

“Legolas! I am angry with you.”

He bit her neck.

“Ow! Stop it!”

He devoured her mouth.

Mmmm, mmmm... Nnnnn!”

He lifted his head. “What are you saying, Melmenya?”

“Aaagh!” yelled Eowyn, with frustration. “Will you—will you—ah—will... will... oh...” But he had finally got her where he wanted her. And he was right—tupping could get him out of any trouble. At least, with her.


Eowyn struggled against his rhythm—whether because of her earlier anger or the emotional exhaustion that had replaced it, she could not find release. She shifted her hips, trying to reach that elusive place...

“Stop, Melmenya,” gasped Legolas, catching her face in his hands—“Stop, Eowyn nín!” He kissed her fiercely, holding her still until she surrendered to him. Then he lifted himself up on his hands and, smiling down at her, he began to thrust with firm, hard strokes, grinding his hips each time he filled her—

“Oh yes! There! There, Lassui! There—oh—yes, THERE!” She twisted suddenly, her words sliding from nonsense into one long, heartrending wail.

Her elf collapsed on top of her, his head coming to rest on her shoulder.

And Eowyn held him, happily, in arms still flickering with pleasure.


“I tried to reach you,” she said, stroking his silken hair; “I tried to find you with my thoughts. But it did not work.”

“I think it takes powerful emotions to form that bond, Melmenya.”

“There were powerful emotions,” said Eowyn. “Anger and fear. Suppose something had happened to you, Lassui? Suppose you...” She could not say it. Instead she pulled him closer. “I would never have seen you again. All I would have had of you was your silly note. And I would have had to endure eternity without you.”

Legolas raised his head. “That is a fear you must learn to live with now that you are immortal, Melmenya,” he said, softly.

“I know.”

“Immortality is not the simple blessing most mortals imagine it.”

Eowyn reached up and tucked a loose lock of hair behind his ear. “It will be, Lassui. It will be, provided you never leave me,” she said.


“You survived, then?” said Gimli.

Legolas grinned.

“Aww!” Gimli threw up his hands. “I do not want to hear anything about that!”

“Where is Faramir, elvellon?”

“In the garden making plans with Ribhadda and Oliel.”

“And Hentmirë?”

“Spinning through the house like a whirlwind, dragging young Keret behind her.”

Legolas walked over to a tall, ornately painted dresser and, taking a key from around his neck, opened one of its small cupboards and removed a brown glass bottle.

“Is that it?” asked Gimli.

“Yes.” Legolas held the bottle up to the light. “Just one more spoonful, I think.”

“What was she like before?”

“Slower,” said Legolas. “But, otherwise, much the same.”

“How long will the effect last?”

“I have no idea.”

“Let us hope it lasts a long while...”


“Gwirith is not going to the Palace with you,” said Oliel, firmly.

“How many times do I have to tell you she's safe?” said Ribhadda.

“Faramir, you are with me on this—”

“She has a Letter of Pardon—”

“Will you stop talking about me as if I were not here!” cried Gwirith, suddenly. “I am going to the Palace. No—hear me out, Oliel!” She held up a slender hand. “I have spent the best part of four years fending for myself, or looking after Keret; I have learned to take control of my own life. If I did not go with you—if I were not there to plead my own case—how could I live with it afterwards? Whatever the outcome—life or death—I must be there to hear it decided.”

Faramir acknowledged her argument with a courteous bow of the head. “It is agreed, then,” he said.

“You are going to have your hands full with her,” said Ribhadda, quietly, to Oliel. And he tried to hide his envy with one of his rare smiles.


An hour later

“Move it a little more to the left,” said Hentmirë.

“I do not think your customers will notice the position of the tables, gwendithen,” said Legolas, but he and Gimli did as instructed.

“But we must give them enough space to move around and look at things properly,” said Hentmirë. “Now, where are the cloths—Keret, what are you doing?”

The boy was rummaging through one of the boxes of knickknacks. “How much do you want for this?” he asked, holding up a tiny bronze figure of a dancing god.

“You do not have any money,” said Gimli.

“No,” said Keret, “not yet. But if you let me take it to Old Yarih, I can probably get more than you thought, and we can split the extra, half-and-half.”

“Why would you need money, now?” asked Legolas.

“People always need money,” said Keret, polishing the statuette with his shirt sleeve, “in case something happens...” He set the little figure on one of the tables, admiring his handiwork, then he picked up the cloth Hentmirë had asked for, and began unfolding it.

Hentmirë glanced at Legolas. “What could happen, Keret?” she asked.

The boy shrugged his shoulders; he spread the cloth over a table.

“Your mother has a Letter of Pardon,” said Hentmirë. “You are not going to lose her again.”

He might not want me,” said Keret, smoothing out the creases.

“Of course he wants you,” said Hentmirë.

“If he doesn’t, can I live in the Forest with you?”

“Oh! Come here!” Hentmirë hugged him. “Your mother and your father both want you, and you are going to be sailing on the sea with them. But you can come and stay with me—and with Legolas and Eowyn and Gimli—whenever you like—provided your mother agrees.”

“That’s my second wish,” Keret mumbled, from the confines of her bosom.

“What is your third wish?” asked Legolas, smiling.

“I’m going to save that until I really need it.”

“Very wise,” said Gimli.

“Well,” said Hentmirë, “now that is settled, shall we set up our stalls?”


Expecting to have to talk his way into the Hatja’s presence, Faramir was pleasantly surprised to find that the Palace Guards had standing orders to admit him. With Haldir, Ribhadda, Oliel and Gwirith following, he was escorted to the main Reception Hall, where he was greeted by a slightly flustered secretary.

“His Excellency has exactly ten minutes, your Highness,” said the man with a nervous bow. “Had you come on any other day...” He spread his hands, helplessly. “But today he receives the Kurian ambassador...”

Faramir returned his bow, politely. “Ten minutes will be sufficient,” he said.

The secretary led them to the Hatja’s private apartments and opened the double doors. The Hatja, his head wrapped in towels, was being shaved by the Palace barber. Waving the servant aside, the secretary bent over his master and whispered in his ear.

“Prince Faramir,” said the Hatja, without moving, “please take a seat. Who are your companions?”

This was no time for tact. “Witnesses,” said Faramir.

The barber had already resumed his work, but he paused to allow the Hatja to speak. “Witnesses to what?”

“Your son’s murder,” said Faramir.

The Hatja threw up his hands—and the barber stepped back with a cry of dismay: he had nicked the Excellent chin.

“Leave us,” said the Hatja to the terrified man, “wait outside—no, no, you are pardoned,” he added, when the man attempted to throw himself to the ground in contrition.

Dabbing his face with a towel, the ruler turned to Faramir. “What do you know of my son’s murder?”

“I can give you the name of his killer,” said Faramir. “And, this afternoon, if all goes well, I will capture him and deliver him to you.”

“If all goes well?”

“We are here because we need the assistance of some of your Guards,” said Faramir. “Good, reliable men...”

“What does that mean?”

“Not Captain Ramess or anyone loyal to him,” said Ribhadda.

“Who are you?” asked the Hatja.

“One of your citizens,” replied Ribhadda.

“You are from the North.”

“Yes—but I have been paying your taxes for more than ten years,” said Ribhadda.

The Hatja studied him shrewdly. “Very well.” He turned to Faramir. “What do you want in return for this murderer?”

“We can discuss that later,” said Faramir.

“Tell me now.”

“Since you insist—a marriage,” said Faramir, “between your second son and his former betrothed, the daughter of Lord Abdosir of Rihat.”


Faramir was taken aback. “Are you saying you do not want to know who killed your son?”

The Hatja did not reply.

“And to whom else would you marry your heir? The King of Kuri has no daughter; Umbar is still ruled by pirates; the King of Gondor is only recently married... To whom would you marry him but Lady Bint-Anath? The alliance would give you joint control of the Silk Road to Rihat and beyond. And...”


“And, if the marriage takes place, I am willing to enter into a trading agreement.”

“You! What do you have to trade?” asked the Hatja.

“Timber,” said Faramir. “Tall, straight oaks for ship-building; cedars for house-building; walnuts and birches for cabinet making...”

“And what would you want in return—I will not export bullion.”

“Perfumes and spices,” said Faramir, “cordials and candied fruits. Such luxuries are as rare in my country as timber is in yours—”

The Hatja held up his hand. “My secretary will draft an agreement,” he said. “Now, tell me everything you know of my son’s murder, starting with the name of the man who killed him.”


Wolfram was watching the fat little woman, elf-boy and the dwarf slowly turn the courtyard garden into a souk...

He glanced to his right.

Another beggar had taken up residence on his patch of wasteland, not ten yards away. Planning to live off the little woman’s charity, he thought.

It was annoying, but it did not matter.

Two hours, thought Wolfram. Two hours and I will be inside the house, claiming my prize.

He would pleasure My Lady in her own bedchamber, then leave Carhilivren, follow the Silk Road, and try his chances in the East.

Unless... He smiled, wolfishly. Unless, that is, My Lady decides to come with me.

Either way, he would not be sitting outside the house much longer.


The Circus was already busy, with crowds of spectators arriving early to watch the drivers exercise their horses in the arena. Faramir, Haldir and Ribhadda entered through one of the arched gates and climbed up to the first tier of seats. Oliel and Gwirith remained outside in Hentmirë’s carriage.

The meeting with Abdi was set for half past two. Huy, already in position, was sitting at the bottom of the first tier, next to the Hatja’s own private box, surrounded by ten members of the Hatja’s personal bodyguard, all convincingly disguised as ordinary spectators.

Faramir and his companions climbed higher up the tier. “Abdi has chosen the place well,” he said, glancing around the stadium. “There are three staircases close by and, if he cannot reach those, he can easily drop to the track and disappear through one of those hatches.”

Ribhadda shook his head, “One of us could do that, perhaps, but not Abdi—Abdi’s breathless after raising a glass of spirits to his lips. In fact, I’m beginning to doubt that he’ll come here in person. He’d be too conspicuous...” Ribhadda’s eyes narrowed. “Unless... See the man in the yellow headdress?” He pointed to fat man waddling up the nearest staircase.

“Is that Abdi?”

“He is the right size,” Haldir confirmed, “but I cannot see his face.”

“And he is going in the wrong direction...”

They looked down at Huy. The villain had already risen to his feet and was pushing his way past the bodyguards. The Hatja’s men, clearly confused by the change of plan, all remained in their places—until two of them, sitting on the ends of the benches, finally decided to take the initiative and follow their charge.

“Come on,” said Ribhadda.

They forced their way down the tier.

The man in the bright yellow headdress had found a seat on the far side of the staircase. The two bodyguards were watching him from a distance. “Where is Huy?” asked Haldir.

“Oh gods,” muttered Ribhadda, “that’s not Abdi.”

“Down the stairs!” cried Faramir, summoning the bodyguards with an angry wave of his hand.


“I need the room of easement,” said Gwirith.


The gates to the pink house had been open for a quarter of an hour but, as yet, only a handful of customers had arrived. Wolfram watched them walking slowly round the tables, picking things up and putting them down, the men staring at the dwarf and the women fluttering their eyelashes at elf-boy.

My Lady was nowhere to be seen. She must be staying indoors, thought Wolfram. Perfect!

He was still waiting for more people to gather—Safety in numbers—when his new neighbour, the other beggar, suddenly stood up and began striding—Striding!—towards the house. Watching him, open mouthed, Wolfram caught a glimpse of something glinting beneath his ragged robes as he moved.

A knife! What’s he going to do with a pricking-great knife...?

Gods’ turds! My Lady!

Wolfram leaped to his feet and, despite the cramp in his limbs, sprinted after the stranger.


Battling against the tide of people, Faramir and Haldir followed Ribhadda down the steps and out into the open space surrounding the Circus. Here, the crowds were thinner, but they looked in vain for any sign of Huy.

“He hasn’t had time to go far,” Ribhadda reasoned. “He must have gone into one of the shops.”

“Where do we start?” asked Faramir.

“With the closest.” Ribhadda set off towards a small pipe weed shop. Faramir turned to Haldir. “Take the bodyguards and search the rest,” he said. “Tell them to arrest Huy and anyone they find with him.” He followed Ribhadda.

The pipe weed shop was closed, but the next store, a much larger establishment selling perfumed oils, was not—and there they found Huy, standing just inside the doorway, staring at something in the room beyond.

Silently, Faramir drew his sword and Ribhadda pulled out his knife, and the two men advanced. Sensing their presence, Huy turned and raised his hands in surrender. Ribhadda grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the shop.

And Faramir entered, just in time to see Gwirith cut Abdi’s throat from ear to ear.


It had taken Wolfram several minutes to push his way through the small crowd of bargain hunters blocking the gate. But, once inside the courtyard, he had slipped easily past elf-boy—who was showing two simpering women how to draw a bow—and past the dwarf—who was haggling loudly over the price of a meat cleaver—and entered the house.

There was no sign of the man with the knife.

If that bastard touches My Lady... Which way?

The place was vast, but Wolfram’s instincts had never failed him in the past.


He threw off his headdress and his enveloping robes, and approached the stairs.


Eowyn picked up her scimitar and examined its curved blade. It had served her well on the prison island. But it would be silly, she thought, to keep it, for I will not need it in Eryn Carantaur. I shall take it downstairs.

She wrapped it in its silken cover, tucked it—carefully—under her arm and, closing the bedchamber door behind her, made her way to the top of the stairs. As she placed her hand on the rail, she heard a voice say, “You are coming with me.”

Eowyn turned, startled; there was no one in sight.

Stand up—that’s it,” said the voice.

One of the chamber doors was open. Cyllien’s door...

Take my arm—keep smiling.” The voice did not belong to Haldir.

Eowyn crept along the landing.

Now—remember—if anyone asks, Ribhadda sent me and I’m taking you to The Silk Road. Make any other sound and I’ll cut that pretty face in two...”

Cyllien sobbed.

Don’t start that!

Calmly, Eowyn pulled the silken cover from her scimitar and let it fall to the ground. Then, grasping the sword in both hands, she took up position beside the door, her feet spread, her back to the wall, her blade ready.


Wolfram reached the top of the stairs—and froze. My Lady was lying in wait beside one of the chamber doors...

For the stranger?

What a woman!

Sensing his presence, My Lady turned and—as though his being there were the most natural thing in the world—she lifted a finger to her lips in a silent Shhhh.

What a woman! Wolfram felt a thrill of excitement. What a pair we make!

He had no weapon. He had no idea who the stranger was nor what he was doing. But he tip-toed along the corridor and stood at My Lady’s side.


“It’s over,” said Gwirith, staring down at Abdi’s lifeless body, “at last. I am free...” She began to sway.

Faramir quickly put away his sword. “Give me the knife,” he said, taking it from her hands and, calling “Ribhadda,” putting an arm around her.

The other man pushed Huy into the shop. “What's—oh gods, Riya!”

“Take her,” said Faramir. He crouched beside Abdi’s massive corpse and closed the staring eyes.

“You surely took him by surprise,” said Ribhadda to Gwirith. “Where’s Oliel? Riya?” He shook her gently. “Where’s your husband?”

“Waiting in the carriage...”

Faramir rose to his feet. “Take her to Oliel; I will find the Hatja’s bodyguards.” He turned to Huy. “You, come with me.”

“Abdi outwitted us,” said Ribhadda, gently guiding the woman outside. “But—once again—he underestimated you, Riya.”


Eowyn tightened her grip on the scimitar. How Wolfram came to be standing beside her she did not know, but she had no time now to worry about it; the door was opening.

She took a deep breath.

Out stumbled Cyllien, head bowed, oblivious to her surroundings. Out came the stranger, chest to Cyllien’s back, his left hand grasping her elbow, his right inside his robes—presumably holding a knife.

Eowyn pressed her blade to the back of his neck. “Let her go!”

Taken by surprise, the villain did as he was told. But, without the support of his hand, Cyllien’s legs gave way. She fell back against the man’s chest; he fell against Eowyn; Wolfram lunged forward to pull Eowyn out of the way; and somehow, in the confusion, the stranger ripped Eowyn from Wolfram’s arms and got his knife to her throat.


Melmenya!” Legolas’ hand flew to his neck...

He gasped. “I am sorry,” he said to his startled customer, “I must... I... Gimli will take care of you!”

Clumsily pushing his way through the crowd, he rushed into the house.


“What are you doing, you prick!” hissed Wolfram. “It’s all turned to shit. You’ll never get the elf woman out of here now. Give My Lady to me and take off before her elf-boy catches you.”

He took a cautious step closer.

“The door at the top of the stairs is your best chance.” He pointed to Hentmirë’s chamber: he had not wasted the hours he had spent staring at the house. “Go out onto the balcony. It’s only a couple of feet to the next villa—and next door’s gates have no spikes.”

He took another slow step.

“Go on. Give My Lady to me...” He held out his hands.

The stranger was almost convinced—Wolfram could see his knife hand relaxing—and My Lady knew it, too, because her expression had suddenly taken on a new determination.

That’s right, Wolfram thought, get yourself ready... “Give her to me,” he repeated, firmly.

Slowly, the man pushed Eowyn forward—

“MELMENYA!” Legolas came flying up the stairs.

The man pulled Eowyn back, digging the point of his knife into her flesh.

“NO!” cried Wolfram.

His left hand flew out, catching the knife and holding it firm—though the blade was cutting through to the bone—whilst his right hand ripped Eowyn from the man’s arms and threw her towards Legolas.

Wolfram turned back to the stranger with a triumphant smile.

The man pulled the blade from Wolfram's fingers and plunged it into his chest.


Guiding her through the crowd, Ribhadda escorted the now exhausted Gwirith back to Hentmirë’s carriage.

“What happened?” asked Oliel, climbing down to help her up into her seat. “You were gone so long I was about to come and find you and—Gods!” He turned to Ribhadda. “Why is she covered in blood?”

“Abdi’s dead,” said Ribhadda, simply.

“And Gwirith saw it happen?”

Ribhadda sighed. “She—”

“I killed him, Oliel,” said Gwirith. Her voice sounded distant, but strong—full of cold determination. “I saw him send his substitute into the arena, and I knew everyone would be fooled, so I followed him...”

“Why didn’t you tell me the truth? Why did you tell me you needed the room of easement?”

Gwirith smiled, sadly. “It was something that I had to do, Oliel. With my own hands.” With great effort, she lifted her hands and laid them on top of his. “He was waiting in the oil shop,” she continued. “I knew that Huy would be coming soon—I knew I didn’t have much time. I told Abdi what I was going to do to him and I told him why. He didn’t believe me. I took out my knife—”

“You were carrying a knife?”

“I always carry a knife, Oliel. How do you think I survived in Rihat? I took out my knife and said, ‘Look at me. Look at this ruined face! I want this face to be the last thing you ever see!’ And then I cut out his throat...”


Strange that it doesn’t hurt, thought Wolfram.

All he could feel was My Lady’s little hands, pressing down on his chest.

He stared up at her through the mist.

Around her lovely head, the stars were shining. She’s not a woman after all, he thought. She’s a god...

Wolfram's vision


Legolas drove his fist into the intruder’s face—and, by the time the inert body had hit the floor, he was already at Eowyn’s side. “Melmenya?”

“He is dead.”

Legolas crouched beside her. “I know, Eowyn nín. But are you all right?”

“I did not think he could die,” said Eowyn, softly. “I thought...”

“What Melmenya?” Legolas brushed her hair aside and carefully examined her throat. The skin was reddened but not broken. He pulled her into his arms. “What did you think, my darling?”

“I thought that I was doomed to spar with him forever.”



“Once again, Prince Faramir, you bring me a dead body and deprive me of my revenge.”

Faramir shook his head. “Circumstances have deprived you of an opportunity to dispense justice publicly,” he said.

The Hatja almost smiled. “How do I know that this man really was my son’s killer?” he asked.

“I have a witness,” said Faramir. “Mistress Gwirith. But before she tells you what she knows, I must give you this on her behalf.”

“A Letter of Pardon.”

Faramir nodded.

“How did she obtain this?”

“I understood,” said Faramir, “that that question was never asked, since an Order of Pardon cannot be rescinded.”

With a sigh, the Hatja broke his own seal, untied the cord, unrolled the papyrus—and cried out in dismay. Pushed into the centre of the scroll, each tied with a length of ribbon, were two locks of reddish brown hair.


“Tell me how my son died,” said the Hatja.

“He owed Abdi money,” said Gwirith, “a lot of money. He’d lost heavily at the gaming tables, and he refused to pay. ‘I am the Hatja’s son and heir,’ he said. ‘How are you going to make me?’—”

The Hatja sighed; Gwirith’s story clearly rang true.

“Abdi was furious. He decided to hold your son hostage and demand a ransom. It was just a matter of getting him away from his bodyguards—”

“Which is where you came in, no doubt,” said the Hatja.

“Yes. But something went wrong—I don’t know what, exactly—Abdi lost his temper and your son died.”

“But the villain still demanded his ransom.”

Gwirith nodded. “He had me cut off three locks of your son’s hair.”

“Why did he not send these?” The Hatja pointed to the hair that had been hidden in the scroll.

“They disappeared. Stolen... I do not know who took them—”

“Ugarti,” said Ribhadda. Then, clearly deciding that it was safest to hide his own role in the theft of the Letter of Pardon, he added, “I think they may have been stolen by a small time criminal called Ugarti, your Excellency. I always had the impression that he was blackmailing Abdi...”

The Hatja turned to Gwirith. “Where is my son’s body?” he asked.


Oliel helped Gwirith climb into Hentmirë’s carriage, then took a seat beside her. He had not said a word since hearing her describe how she had killed Abdi.

Gwirith stared down at her hands. “Oliel...”

Her husband did not respond.

“Oliel,” she persisted,“I have changed my mind. I am not coming back to Gondor with you. I am going to stay here, in Carhilivren, with Keret.”



Contents page


Previous chapter: Ribhadda's choice
The net closes on Abdi. Can he be stopped?

Final chapter: Journey home.
Two funerals, a wedding, and the journey home.

Chapter 15

Room of easement ... a public loo.
Henry VIII’s courtiers at Hampton Court shared a ‘great house of easement’ with 28 seats on two different levels.