eowyn and legolas

Cyllien examined her face in the mirror. The slap had stung, but it had done no damage—for it had never been intended to do anything more than calm her down.

And it had certainly worked.

She sighed. Why do you want him? Because he's big, strong, good-looking and a wonderful lover. Because he's passionate and honourable and—Valar!—if he fell in love with you, you would be everything in Middle-earth to him.

Could you make him fall in love with you?

No. Not while she's anywhere near him...

For the briefest of moments, Cyllien imagined killing Eowyn, and the clarity with which she could see the woman falling down a flight of stone steps—see the light leaving her eyes as her head hit the ground and her neck snapped—left her trembling.

What in Ilúvatar's name does that mean? she wondered. Do I want Haldir that much? Or do I just hate the woman?

She was so troubled by her thoughts of violence that she did not notice the door open—did not realise that he was there until his hand touched her shoulder. But when he lifted her onto her dressing table—clearing away the clutter with a sweep of his hand—and made love to her, this time with tenderness as well as passion, she seemed to have the answer to all of her questions.


Wolfram sat at the table, reed pen in hand, writing laboriously on a sheet of papyrus.

Agreed. Ecspect...

He was interrupted by the familiar knock: one-two; one-two-three; one; one.

About pricking time. He carried his candle to the door and set it down on the dresser. Then he drew back the heavy metal bar and, after blowing out the light, opened the door.

"Where have you been?" he hissed. "I need to go out! How long does it take to steal a bottle of wine?" He closed and, in the complete darkness, managed to re-bar the door. "Are you going to light that candle or what?"

The elf said nothing but, a moment later, the room was filled with a dull glow. Wolfram lit two more candles. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"It was not my fault..."

"What have you done?"

The elf, though much taller than the man, flinched. "Rib has barred me from The Silk Road."


Vardamir retreated a few steps. "Because he doesn't trust you."

To the elf's surprise, Wolfram laughed. "Where's the wine?"

Vardamir removed a grimy bottle from a poacher's pocket inside his long robe.

"Could you not have taken a clean one?" Shaking his head, Wolfram returned to writing his note.

Agreed. Ecspect...

He must not be too explicit in case it fell into the wrong hands.

... her toniht at the back door

He added a full stop. He would not sign it.

He waved the papyrus in the air to dry the ink.

"This," said Vardamir, "is one of the finest reds from Dorwinion. It's over fifty years old." He handed Wolfram a goblet.

Wolfram knocked it back. "It doesn't really matter," he said. "I can deal with Ribhadda myself. You're not much help, anyway." He folded the note. "I'm going out. I'll deliver this to the Blue Parrot, then I'll relocate her—"

"Must you, Wolfram?"

"Just make sure you stay by the door. I may need to get back inside—fast."


"Over here," cried Gimli, waving enthusiastically. The dwarf was sitting at a large, circular table, surrounded by a bevy of admiring young women, and allowing one of them—sitting on his lap—to stroke the haft of his axe. "These fair ladies want to meet you," he cried.

How did he get so drunk so fast? Legolas wondered, taking a seat at the very far side of the table.

"Are you really an elf?" asked one of the girls, simpering.

Legolas smiled politely. "Yes."

"And is it true what they say about elves?" asked another—who seemed to have had more to drink than the rest—sliding towards him, from chair to chair.

"What do they say?" asked Legolas, gently removing her hand from his thigh.

"That you're all hung like horses!"

The girls giggled; Gimli roared with laughter. Legolas folded his hands over his lap.

"Well," said Gimli, "answer her!"

"Yes," said Legolas, straight-faced.

Gimli thumped the table with delight.

"Will you show me?" asked the girl, breathlessly. "I've never seen a really big one. We could go outside..."

"That's enough, Meryt, leave the gentleman alone." Ribhadda laid a restraining hand on the girl's shoulder. "Time to go home." He beckoned to one of the liveried boys. "Aqhat, walk her back to her rooms."

"Oh, but, Rib, I don't want—"

The man lifted Meryt from her seat and handed her to the boy. "Home," he said, firmly. "And Aqhat—make sure you come straight back."

"Well," said Gimli, with a theatrical yawn, "I must be going, too." There was a chorus of disappointment. "Sorry ladies. But perhaps my friend, here, will stay and entertain you with tales of Northern parts?" He winked at the elf.

Legolas gave him a murderous look. But, seemingly oblivious, Gimli rolled off his chair, swaggered across the tavern and disappeared through the main doors.

The women moved in on the elf like sharks on an injured swimmer. "I am sorry," he said, scrambling to his feet, "my wife is expecting me. Good night, Master Ribhadda." He hurried after the dwarf. "Gimli? Gimli, where have you gone?—Gimli? Gimli!"

"Shhhhh," hissed the dwarf, suddenly sounding very sober. "For an elf you are making a terrible din! Come with me!"


As Ribhadda was watching the elf leave, one of his regular customers, a small, nervous man, plucked at his sleeve. "Rib, will you join me for a moment?"

"You know better than that, Ugarti," said Ribhadda, "I don't—"

"You don't drink with customers. I know. I just want to talk. And to ask you a small favour."

Ribhadda sighed. "Very well," he said, taking a seat.

Ugarti laid a document on the table—a roll of papyrus, tied with a red cord and sealed with a lump of red wax stamped with the Hatja's emblem. "Look, Rib," he said, "do you know what this is? Something that even you have never seen." He played with the seal. "A Letter of Pardon, signed by the Hatja. It cannot be rescinded, not even questioned." He looked at Ribhadda, triumphantly. "Tonight I'll be selling it for more money than even I ever dreamed of. Then goodbye, Carhilivren." He smiled. "You know Rib, I have many friends in Carhilivren but, somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust. Will you keep it for me. Please?"

"For how long?"

"Perhaps an hour, perhaps a little longer."

"I don't want it here overnight."

"Don't be afraid of that." Ugarti picked up the scroll and held it out to the other man. "Please keep it for me." Ribhadda took it. "Thank you. I knew I could trust you." He rose to leave, but he could not resist adding, "I hope you are more impressed with me now, Rib."

Ribhadda caught his arm. "I heard that those dead couriers were carrying a Letter of Pardon."

"Uh. Yes," said Ugarti. "I heard that too. Poor devils."

Ribhadda stared at him for a long moment. "You're right Ugarti. I am a little more impressed with you."


"I am sorry, too," said Cyllien.

"For what?"

"Talking like that."

Haldir gathered her closer. "No, you were right," he said. "Not about her. But in what you said about me."

"What are you going to do? You cannot continue as you are."

He laughed, mirthlessly. "People have been telling me that for five years. Legolas never stops saying it."

"Prince Legolas knows how you feel about her?"

"It is hard not to notice when someone aims an arrow at your heart and tells you he intends to take your wife from you."


"It is a long story, which I will no doubt tell you another time." Somewhat experimentally, he kissed the top of her head. "Will you come back to South Ithilien with me?"

"Of course."

"She will be there too. She is my Lady—not just Legolas' wife, but a warrior in her own right and I am her March Warden. We often work together."

"I will get used to that. And if I cannot, well, we must part, but at least I will be away from this place."

"What about Ribhadda?"

"He can manage without me."

"That is not what I meant."

"One can chase a dream, Haldir, or one can make do with reality," said Cyllien. "And, as reality goes, you are not all that bad."


"Gimli!" hissed Legolas.

The dwarf had stopped at the crossroads and flattened himself against the wall. He held up his hand for silence, then peered around the corner.

"Why are we following the woman?" asked Legolas.

"We are following Meryt because she has been to Vardamir's home," said Gimli, "lured there by talk of the extraordinary prowess of elves, apparently. But she never got to experience it, because his friend returned and the elf had to smuggle her out. Hence her interest in you." Gimli risked another look around the corner. "Come on," he said, "we must see where they go." The pair ran across the street, and dived into the shadows, then continued to follow the woman and her escort at a safe distance.

"I cannot believe she told you that about herself and Vardamir," whispered Legolas, as they watched the couple disappear into a lodging house.

"Never underestimate the advantages of a compact stature and a luxuriant beard when dealing with women."

"They treat you like a pet," said Legolas.

"As a confidant," Gimli corrected.

"Did she remember where this house was?

"She would not tell me—he swore her to secrecy—but she did let slip that it was just around the corner from her own lodgings."

"Which corner?" asked Legolas. "There are four."

Gimli growled.

"Wait a minute," said Legolas. "Garden Lane. Come!"

Turning the corner, they found themselves on the very edge of the Souk. "We are looking for an alley," said Legolas, "behind one of the stalls."

"How do you know?" asked Gimli.

"Because, according to Ribhadda, that is where Wolfram has his hideout."

Most of the stalls had closed for the night and they had no trouble finding three alleys running off Garden Lane, all of them narrow, each one walled on both sides by a jumble of featureless mud brick and wood and, whilst Legolas kept watch, Gimli examined them in some detail, lightly tapping the walls, every few inches, with the butt of his axe.

"Anything?" asked Legolas.

Gimli shook his head. "All the mud brick is solid," he said. "But as for the wood—who knows?—all the wood is paper thin. It is impossible to recognise a concealed door."

"Perhaps, tomorrow, you should speak to the woman again," said Legolas as they retraced their steps around the corner. "And see if—"

"Hello boys," said Meryt. "Were you looking for me? How about coming up for a nightcap?"


"I know I would
Always be good
To one who'd watch over me..."

Singing softly to herself, Cyllien unlaced the bodice of her gown.

The door opened. "What did you forget, melethron?" She turned smiling.

The smile froze on her face.

"Not bad," said the intruder, nodding towards her breasts before she hastily pulled her gown closed. "But I've seen better." He shut the door behind him, picked up her dressing table chair—still lying where it had fallen earlier—and hooked it under the handle. "We wouldn't want to be disturbed, would we?"

"How did you get in here, Wolfram?" she asked, angrily. "Rib barred you."

"Well, now," said Wolfram, "one of the few advantages of not being tall, blond and handsome, like your elf stud, is that NOBODY EVER NOTICES ME." His eyes glittered. "He walked right past me and did not see me! Which is strange when you consider how often he has threatened to kill me on her account."

"What do you want?"

"You," said Wolfram. He smiled. "Oh, don't worry, I'm not planning to ride you—you're not my type. No. I have a customer who wants you."

"You sick orc." He had not moved since he had barred the door and his unnatural stillness was making Cyllien nervous. She thought of the pair of scissors somewhere on her dressing table and reached behind her, feeling for them... But the table was bare.

Oh Valar! In her mind's eye she remembered Haldir, sweeping it clear.

"What are you looking for, Cyllien? You are not thinking of resisting me are you? It will only make me hurt you more."

He drew back his arm.

"Do you really think," said Cyllien, haughtily, "that a mere man can overpower an elleth?"

But what Wolfram lacked in elven speed he more than made up for in cunning. The weapon, a small, lead-filled pouch, was concealed in his other hand, and she never saw it coming.


Confident that the Letter of Pardon was safe with Ribhadda, Ugarti made his way to the Blue Parrot, where he hoped to collect a few old debts before he left the city for good.



"I am sorry, melmenya, I did not mean to wake you."

"Where are you going?"

"I need to bathe."

There was something strange in his voice. Eowyn climbed out of bed, wrapped herself in a sheet and padded after him.

"What is wrong, my love? Oh..." Her breath caught in her throat.

He was standing with his back to her, bending slightly forwards to slip off his trousers. The candlelight was playing over his body, highlighting the perfect muscles of his back and arms, and the curve of his buttocks. Eowyn drank in the sight of him.

Oblivious to her, the elf dropped his silken clothing on the floor and, with a deep sigh, climbed into the still-running water. He took up a cake of soap and began scrubbing his lower body.

Eowyn picked up his discarded trousers and began to fold them. "What is this?" She held them up, examining a mouth-shaped smudge of red just below the waistband and several more marks at the groin. "Legolas?"

"She was drunk," said Legolas.

"What happened?"

"She made a grab for me and fell over. Nothing really happened, melmenya." He sighed. "I just feel dirty."

"Oh, my poor love!" Eowyn dropped the trousers and knelt beside him, catching his hand. "You will make yourself sore, my darling." She took the soap from him and kissed his hand. "Let me do it. I will wash her all away." She unwound her sheet and climbed in beside him, took a soft sponge, and gently stroked it over his stomach and his inner thighs, and then, when he had relaxed a little, over his ceryn and his ceber. "There..."

"Thank you, Eowyn nín." He hugged her close. Then, after a few moments, he took her hand and brought it to a very impressive erection.


Eowyn kissed the top of his head. "Stay still, my darling," she whispered, riding him slowly, "Stay... still and I shall take... good care of you—ohhh..."

He had drawn her breast into his mouth, and was sucking her like a greedy elfling.

"Oh, my love," she whispered, "my darling..." And, holding his head close, she matched the rise and fall of her hips to the rhythm of his tongue, "Yes, my love," she moaned, "I shall take such good care of you..."


He was so happy, so fulfilled—his eyes closed, his mouth full of her, his ceber safe in the sweet warmth of her gently rocking body—that he had almost forgotten there could be anything more until an orgasm crept up on him, and had its way with him, and he cried out in surprise as he suddenly burst inside her.


Elves are so hard to move, thought Wolfram, as he limped towards the Blue Parrot. They may weigh next to nothing but they're too pricking long.

He had learned as a youngster that the best way to do something dishonest was to do it openly, so—though he was taking the precaution of keeping to the quieter streets—he had simply wrapped the unconscious elleth in a dark mantle and thrown her over his shoulder. And, when anyone stared, he just smiled apologetically and mouthed the word 'Drunk'.

Not much further now, he thought. And Abdi should have someone waiting at the back door to collect her...

He turned the corner and stopped dead in his tracks.

Customers were pouring out of the rear entrance of the Blue Parrot, climbing over one another in their hurry to get away. From inside the building, Wolfram heard the sound of a hunting horn.

Is it a raid? What is Abdi selling in there?

Two of the Hatja's guards forced their way out of the door, grabbed one of the fleeing patrons, and threw him to the ground. As Wolfram watched, the man—who looked vaguely familiar—struggled to his feet and tried to run away—until one of the guardsmen ran him through with a dagger.

Then two more guards emerged from the Parrot, and a whole detachment of soldiers came running up—still in formation—from the far end of the alley, to back up their colleagues.

Time to leave! Wolfram turned—and, for once, took to his heels, the better to blend in with the crowd.



The great caravan had camped beside one of the water stations that punctuated the route to the East. Faramir had spent a comfortable but wakeful night under canvas, soothed by the familiar sound of Berengar's light, regular breathing, but worried by Oliel's nervous tossing and turning. They had struck camp at first light.

All around, people were preparing for the day's ten-hour journey: tending their camels, checking their packs, and queuing at the great cistern to fill their water skins. Faramir took a bite of dried meat. "It is beautiful," he said, gazing across the sands towards the Ripa'a Ridge, a mass of bluish-pink rock looming on the horizon. "The colours are muted, and yet they include every tint of the rainbow..."

Berengar smiled. "Just wait until the sun has been up for an hour or two, Faroth," he said. "The sand will soon become monotonous, believe me; even to a romantic like you."

"I had forgotten that you were a seasoned desert traveller," said Faramir, offering him some dried fruit. "How are you finding the camel?"

Berengar waved the food away. "No, thank you—the camel is surprisingly well-mannered," he said. "The saddle, on the other hand, pinches front and back..."

Faramir grinned. He turned back to the Ripa'a Ridge. "The rocks look quite close, but there is really no way of telling—nothing to judge the distance by—what was that?"

"What did you see?"

"I am not sure; a flash of light."

"The sun glinting on metal, perhaps," said Berengar. Shielding his eyes with his hand, he scanned the rocks. "This is when we need an elf... There is nothing there now—no, wait... There it is again." He turned to Faramir. "It is probably just an innocent traveller. It would be a very poor bandit who gave himself away so easily."

"Still," said Faramir, "we had better warn the caravan driver."


"Good morning, Melmenya."

Eowyn pushed herself up on her elbows and smiled at Legolas. "Good morning, Lassui. You look very happy this morning."

Legolas, already dressed, sat beside her on the bed. "And so I should, Eowyn nín—I am a very lucky elf." He took her in his arms. "Last night, when I was deeply troubled, my beloved wife soothed me, body and spirit."

He kissed her tenderly—a long, slow, lingering kiss. "She gave herself to me without reserve; made me feel loved and cherished." He smiled. "And then she made me come like one of Mithrandir's rockets."

Eowyn laughed merrily, hugging him close. Then she asked, "What do we need to do today, Lassui?"


Haldir had found the house—with little more than Faramir's description to go on—hidden at the end of one of the twisting streets that surrounded the souk. After a moment's hesitation, he climbed the steps and knocked.

The door swung open.


"Come in," called a familiar voice.

The elf followed the sound down a narrow, airy corridor lined with tall, potted palm trees, through an arched doorway, and into a large, but sparsely furnished, living room.

"Good morning, March Warden."

"Good morning, Magus."

"I was afraid I would see you again," said Niqmaddu. "Sit down. I take it that things have gone badly wrong?"

Haldir took a seat opposite the magician. "I would not say badly wrong... I am just not sure what is happening." He explained the strange persistence of his feelings—or some echo of his feelings—for Eowyn. And then, with some reluctance, he described his attempted relationship with Cyllien.

"I see," said Niqmaddu, "dear me." He rose to his feet and began to pace back and forth. "I have heard it said that, sometimes, when a man loses an arm or a leg, he may continue to feel it—to feel pain in the part that has been removed. It seems that you are experiencing something similar. Has there been any recurrence of the feelings of hatred towards Prince Legolas?"


"Well, that is something. Why did you come to me, March Warden?"

"I am sorry?"

"What do you want me to do?"

"I want help."

"I was afraid you would say that," said Niqmaddu. "Are you sure?"

"What do you mean?"

"The consequences of taking a step like this—of altering the mind—were always going to be far-reaching, affecting your thoughts and feelings in ways we could not predict. But the problems you are describing can easily be explained."

"I do not understand."

"You know that you used to have feelings; you are constantly wondering what they were; and, as a result, you can almost feel them still. You must curb your curiosity!"

He sat down beside Haldir and continued, very earnestly: "If you had fallen out of love with Princess Eowyn gradually, March Warden, there might still have been these echoes, as you call them, of your love left in your heart. You might still have felt that guilt, that sense of betrayal, you might still have compared your new love to the old, you might still have found the new love wanting in comparison... It is because the changes have been swift, and effected by magic, you assume these echoes to be abnormal. My advice now, March Warden, is to leave things well alone. You are no longer a danger to Prince Legolas—that is the most important thing—and you have plenty of time. Left alone, your feelings will resolve themselves. Naturally."

"That is a strange thing for a Magus to say."

"I have learned much in the past few weeks," admitted Niqmaddu. "Not least, an awareness of my own limitations."

"You are saying," said Haldir, "that my present condition is not permanent."

"Indeed," said the magician. "Since I am—in some respects—responsible for your distress, I am honour bound to help you if that is what you insist. And I can make you fall in love with the elleth, if you ask it. But I strongly—very strongly—recommend that, from now on, you let nature take its course. In any case, I will not do anything for seven days—that will give you time to make an informed decision—perhaps with the help of the lady herself?

"Now, since my carpet has just been returned by the cleaners, would you like me to take you home?"


"That was most enjoyable," said Haldir, as the carpet began its slow, spiralling descent into Hentmirë's courtyard.

The few minutes it had taken them to fly from the magician's house had been the most carefree he had experienced in a very long time. "The motion itself is invigorating," he continued, "but it is seeing other people's journeys—seeing how those journeys interweave—that begins to put one's own life into some sort of perspective..." He smiled ruefully at his uncharacteristic lapse into philosophy. "And, of course," he added, in his normal, slightly arrogant tone, "this would be a most efficient way to patrol Eryn Carantaur."

"Of course," said Niqmaddu.

As they landed in the small garden, Eowyn, who—as had become her custom in the mornings—was feeding the birds with kitchen scraps, came forward, smiling, to greet them. "Magus," she said, holding out her hand, "how nice to see you again."

"Good morning, your Highness," said Niqmaddu, bowing in his usual quicksilver manner. "How fortunate that you are out here—I believe the March Warden has something to discuss with you." He turned to Haldir. "I am sure that Princess Eowyn's advice will be invaluable. Now, if you will both excuse me, I shall go and pay my respects to the Lady of the House—and to your husband, Princess Eowyn—before I leave."

"Well," said Eowyn, as they watched him disappear into the house, "he takes no prisoners!"


Vardamir opened the door.

"What took you so pricking long?" said Wolfram, angrily. He stumbled inside.

"I wasn't sure it was you," said the elf, barring the door, "what have you got there?"

"I thought we needed a new carpet—what do you think I've got, you pricking idiot? Light the candles!"

"You were supposed to deliver her—"

"Don't make me hurt you."

Wolfram dumped the unconscious elleth in his usual chair. "The Blue Parrot was being raided. I had to hide amongst the drunks in Hatja Square until all the fuss had died down." He opened the cupboard at the bottom of the dresser and, from his collection of pretty toys, selected a pair of silver manacles. "We'll have to keep her here until I find out what has happened to Abdi... Pity to waste these on her, though," he said, securing Cyllien's wrists—

He turned to Vardamir, suddenly. "What do you mean, you weren't sure it was me?"

"Someone was tapping at the door earlier. But he didn't give the right signal."

"Wonderful," said Wolfram. "Now we will have to move."



Contents page


Previous chapter: The Turquoise Gardens
A trip to the pleasure gardens; Haldir behaves badly.

Chapter 3

Next chapter: Ragamuffin
Fate lends a hand; Haldir and Ribhadda search for Cyllien.

Chapter 5

A camel caravan
Some pictures.

Chapter 2

The journey to Rihat

Chapter 2