Eowyn listened hard.
Judging by the amount of light that was leaking down the passage,
and the apparent closeness of the quiet sobbing, Cyllien and Hentmirëand,
presumably, their captorswere just around the next corner,
but she could hear no sound from Wolfram or his elven accomplice.
What should she do?
What could she do?
From what she had seen of Cyllien's earlier attempt to escape,
the elleth would be in no condition to help her. Hentmirë
had been unconscious; even if she had since revived, it was unlikely
that she would be able to walk as yetand Eowyn did not think
that she would be able to carry the heavier woman.
Her only option was a bold attack.
Vardamir is weak and easily led, she thought. And he does seem
to care for Cyllien. Without Wolfram he is probably little threat.
I must be swift and accurate.
Gripping her knife, she ran into the next cavern.
Keret hid the carpet bag under his blanket.
Gods, it's getting busy round here! First the two kids. Then
the man. And now two elves...
He sat down on his mud brick bench and took the remains of the
sausage out of his pocket. Not that it's anything to do with
me, he thought, wiping some fluff off the meat. If those
kids want to get into trouble...
That fat one! What a stupid thing to do! Why not pick pockets
like everyone else?
He took a bite of sausage.
Who are the elves looking for, anyway, he wondered. The
man or the two boys? I've seen that thin kid before, but where?
Not on the street...
He chewed the sausage, mechanically. Where had he seen
the boy before?
Oh PIZZLE! he thought. Pizzle, pizzle, pizzle. It's
the princess! And she may be in real trouble.
He pulled back the blanket, took out the lamp, and held it up
in the fading light.
What's so special about this?
The Princess's elf saw me in the souk, so he knows I took
it. He looks soft, but I bet that big one would give me
a hidingif he caught me. On the other hand, if I tell them
where to find the princess, they might forget about the lamp.
They might even give me a reward...
He put the lamp back in the bag, hid the bag safely under his
blanket, and slipped out into the darkness.
Eowyn stormed the cavern like an Uruk Hai berserkerweapon
ready, mind and body entirely focussed on finding her quarry and
Her quarry was not there.
In the eerie light of two large oil lamps, she could see Cyllien,
chained hand and foot, cowering against the cavern wall, and Hentmirë
lying beside her, still unconscious.
But there was no sign of the elf, nor of the Man.
Slightly disoriented, Eowyn sheathed her knife and knelt down
beside the elleth.
"Cyllien..." she whispered.
There was no response. Eowyn grasped her face. "Cyllien,
where are the keys?"
"What are you doing here?"
Eowyn smiled. "I am here to rescue you. Where are the keys
to your chains?"
"Vardamir... Vardamir has them."
Eowyn swore. "Where is he?" she asked, turning to Hentmirë
and quickly checking her for any signs of serious injury. "Where
"They went through there," said Cyllien, pointing to
another passage, which Eowyn had not noticed. "Did you come
here for me?"
"Yes," said Eowyn. "We both did." Hentmirë's
breathing was regular and her pulse seemed strong. Eowyn carefully
rolled her onto her side, arranging her limbs to keep her in position.
"Why?" asked Cyllien.
Eowyn looked up from her task. "Why did we come for you?
Because I know WolframI know what he is like and I would
not wish him on anyone. And, also, for Haldir's sake." Satisfied
that Hentmirë was safe, she rose to her feet. "I am
going after Wolfram," she said, drawing her knife. "Try
to stay calm. And keep a watch on Hentmirë."
"What did you mean?" asked Cyllien. "About Haldir?"
But Eowyn was already running down the passage.
Legolas took another look at the map. "Wait," he said,
"Eowyn's cross is beyond these buildings, further
to the westwhat is that, past the rock ridge?"
"Tombs," said Haldir. "I believe those are tombs.
"That is exactly the sort of place that Wolfram would
choose," said Legolas. "Come."
"Nowait a moment!" Haldir dropped to the ground
and examined the surface of the road.
Legolas joined him. "I cannot make it out," he said.
"This sand does not hold tracks well..."
"No," said Haldir. "But I think there was some
sort of fight here." He followed the faint traces to the
softer sand at the edge of the road. "And look at this!"
He was pointing to a markpart of a footprintmost
of it crumbled and indistinct, but a tiny patch of it miraculously
preserved by a splash of fresh blood.
"Oh, no," whispered Legolas. "Oh, Melmenya, no!I
begged her to stay at home, Haldir. And she promised..."
Haldir squeezed his arm. "We do not know that it is Eowyn's
blood, mellon nín," he said. "The print
is small, but still too big, I think, to be hers, or Hentmirë's
orthank the ValarCyllien's. I think it is Wolfram's.
And I think he did go this way..."
"So we'll let Cyllien go," said Vardamir.
He had drawn Wolfram to the mouth of the cavea low, wide
opening in the cliff wallin the hope that he could keep
the man from learning of the elleth's attempted escape.
"Don't be stupid!"
"But if Abdi is in prison, what else can we do with heroh
Wolfram sighed. "The moment we set her free she'd be singing
to the Hatja's Guards."
"I'd make her promise"
"How old are you?"
"Then I'd take her away," said Vardamir. "To Rihat...
Yes, I'd take her to Rihat and keep her there"
"She hates you," said Wolfram.
"What do you mean?"
"She may be all over you now, but that's only because
she's afraid of me. If the two of you were alone, she'd
knife you the moment you turned your back. Not that I care,"
he added, quickly. "But then she'd come back to Carhilivrenback
to Ribhadda. And one or the other of them would turn me in."
He beckoned to the elf. "Come here."
Wolfram smiled, wolfishly. "You don't trust me do you?"
"You just said that you didn't care if I died."
"I just gave you some advice that will keep you alive,"
Wolfram corrected. "And I'm about to give you some more...
Come over here." He led the reluctant elf out onto the shallow
ledge and pointed to the foaming sea, thirty feet below. "One
push at low tide. That's all it will take."
"YAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!" Eowyn flew into the cavern,
roaring like a orc. Wolfram, though taken by surprise, instinctively
dodged her blade. And Vardamirmoving, for once, with all
the speed and precision of an elfcaught her about the waist
and lifted her off her feet.
"Oh, My Lady!" cried Wolfram. "My beautiful, beautiful
she-wolf! You have come looking for me!"
"Come anywhere near me and I shall slit your throat!"
cried Eowyn. "Put me down," she yelled at Vardamir.
"He is not your friend. He despises you. Let me deal with
him. Let me set you free..." She struggled against his elven
"Who would not love this woman?" said Wolfram. "Imagine
being inside that! Gods' bollocks, she would suck your bones out
through your prick! Let her go."
"Let her go; I want her." He drew a short knife from
the scabbard at his hip. "Come, My Lady, dance with me!"
Reluctantly, Vardamir dropped Eowyn to the ground.
"Leave us alone," said Wolfram.
Eowyn and Wolfram, daggers raised, eyed one another. "Strike,
My Lady," said Wolfram, "both my weapons are ready..."
He dropped his knife and threw himself at her, catching her wrists
and smashing her down on the sloping rock floor. Eowyn lay trapped
beneath him, gasping for breath. Her knife fell from her hand.
"There is no one like you, is there?" said Wolfram.
He leant down and devoured her mouth, at the same time pressing
his erection against her belly. "God's prick, we're going
to enjoy this! I can be just as wild as you are, andOh!"
Eowyn had brought her knee up between his legs but had missed
"You're fighting dirty," he whispered. "Just like
last time! But I like that. I like it very much. And, of course,"
he pressed his hips down, "it only makes me harder."
"Wolf," he said. "I am a wolf and you are my bitch."
Eowyn smiled. "Real wolves do not wear breeches. And, the
moment you let go of my wrists to open yours, I will rip your
"Then I will fuck you blind."
"Wolfram..." Vardamir had returned.
"I said go away! Now, where were we?" Eowyn
was still smiling. And, as Wolfram leaned down, and her smile
broadened, his confidence suddenly wavered. "What are you"
She arched her back, and rubbed herself against him. It did not
"Oh!" He came hard, his body convulsing.
Then he relaxed, panting, and his grip slackened...
Eowyn pulled her hands from his grasp and, thrusting him away,
rolled across the ground and snatched up her knife. Then she rose,
a Shieldmaiden once more, and turned on him, her dagger raised.
But Wolfram had already recovered.
He pushed himself up from the rock, laughing. "What
a woman!" he said, shaking his head with genuine admiration.
"What a team we'd make! The wolf and his bitch!" And,
ignoring the knife, he reached for her.
Eowyn took a step backwards.
"No!" cried Wolfram. "No, no!"
He lunged for her, but he was too late.
"Eowyn!" cried Legolas. "Something has happened
to her! I can feel it. She is under watersinking!terrified!
She cannot breathe!" He pressed his hand to his chest. "I
can feel it!"
"I do not know"
"Are you talking about the princess?" asked
a small voice.
The desert at night was Keret's natural element and he had approached
the elves so stealthily, neither had been aware of him until he
"Princess?" The smaller elf turned in surprise. Then,
"You!" he cried. "Release the djinn! Quickly!"
"Djinn?" Of course, you blockhead! thought Keret.
The lamp has a djinn inside! "What will you pay me
for it?" he asked, cheekily.
"Anything you ask," cried the elf. "Anything!
Just give it to me. Quickly!" He caught Keret by the arms.
"Hold your hair on! Let go of me and I'll fetch it..."
"No," said the elf. "Take me to it."
"All right. But you promiseanything I want."
"Eärendil is my witnessnow, please"
"Yes! Anything you want! Please! Eowynthe princesswe
"Did you see the man fetch her?" asked the big elf,
Keret looked from one elf to the other. "The princess? The
princess went down by herself. The man took the fat kid."
"The small one with the broken door."
"Go and release the djinn," said the big elf. "I
shall go down into the tomb."
The smaller elf squeezed his friend's arm. "Thank you, mellon
nín," he said. Then he turned to Keret. "Let
us go. Quickly."
Wolfram's field of vision contracted to the tiny patch of water
the woman had disappeared beneath.
No! No, no, NO!
Side-by-side, the boy and the elf sprinted across the desert.
It's true they're fast, thought Keret. This one could
go faster than a horse...
But, as they neared his hideout, the boy's instinct for self-preservation
suddenly asserted itself.
How do I know I can trust him?
"Cyllien..." Haldir crouched beside the weeping
elleth. "Shhh, shhhhhh..." He wrapped
his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. "Just
be brave for a few moments more," he said, softly. "Where
He felt her body stiffen. But she answered. "She went after
Wolfram and Vardamir. Down there."
He lifted her chin. "Take care of Hentmirë, Tithen
Dúlinn. I will be back for you soon, I promise."
Wolfram dived beneath the surface.
In the dim moonlight he could just make out the dark shape of
Eowyn's body, floating, hands outstretched...
He swam over to her and, grasping her beneath the arms, pushed
her head out of the water.
"You are not escaping me," he cried "Not again!"
He pulled her over his shoulder and hammered his fist on her back
until she took a great spluttering gulp of air.
"Yes!" he cried, pounding her back to keep her breathing.
"Yes! Stay with me, my brave bitch, stay with me!"
"Remember what you promised," Keret panted, "with
your friend Ear-something as a witness..."
"Anything you want," said the elf. "I swear iton
the princess's life."
Good enough for me, thought the boy. "In here!"
He swerved off the road, jumped over a pile of mud bricksthe
remains of a garden wallran across a chequerboard of sand
and soildried-out flower bedsand ducked through the canvas
curtain that served as the door to his dilapidated villa.
The elf followed.
Keret pulled back his blanket. "There."
The elf snatched up the bag, ripped it open, pulled out the lamp,
and rubbed it vigorously.
A wisp of smoke curled from its spout.
The elf kept rubbing.
A great cloud exploded from the lamp, instantly forming itself
into a head, two hands, and a body...
"WHERE IS MY PRETTY LITTLE MISTRESS?" roared
"In the sea!" cried the elf. "Go and"
But the djinn was already soaring into the sky.
Eowyn had begun to struggle. "Let me go! Let me go!"
"Stop it!" cried Wolfram, spitting out a mouthful of
salt water. "God's prick, you have spirit, but, for once,
let me be on top!"
He could swim like a fish but not with a struggling woman in
his arms and, when he looked along the coast in either direction,
he could see no way to get them both ashore. "Vardamir!"
he shouted up at the cave, "Vardamir, where are you? Throw
me a rope"
As he was looking upwards, something appeared at the corner of
his eyesomething man-shaped, but vastsomething with
a head, and shoulders, with arms and handsbut with a body
that tapered into nothing but smoke...
Wolfram shook his head, trying to clear the impossible vision
from his sight, but the thing was still swooping down towards
him, and shouting, "Pretty little mistress! Pretty little
mistress! Your wish is my command!"
Pretty little...? Instinctively, Wolfram grasped Eowyn
Eowyn raised her head from his shoulder, "Help me!"
"I hear and obey!" The thing caught her by the
shoulders. "How, mistress?"
"Take me to Legolas."
It tried to wrench her from Wolfram's arms.
"No!" cried Wolfram. "No! You shall not take her
from me! She is mine. She"
Like a parent with a naughty child, the thing raised its hand,
and cuffed the side of his head.
"Wolfram!" cried Vardamir. He turned to Haldir, who
had just arrived at the cave mouth. "That thing has killed
"I doubt it," said Haldir, watching the djinn carry
Eowyn away, leaving Wolfram floating, face down, on the surface
of the water. "That man is immortal.
"Come, Vardamir," he added, "you can surrender
or you can force me to overpower youthe choice is yours."
Three hours later
"Lady Hentmire appears to have suffered no permanent harm,
sir," said the healer, rather stiffly, to Legolas, "in
"In fact, she seems healthier than I can remember
seeing her for some years... Younger." He peered at
the elf, as if expecting an explanation.
Legolas smiled. "That is good news, sir."
"Elleth is clearly distressed, but I can find no sign of
illness or injury in herthough I am, of course, unfamiliar
with people of your kind."
Legolas nodded. "And my wife?"
"The young lady was, I understand, submerged beneath the
sea for several minutes," said the healer.
"Yes, I believe so."
"And that was three hours ago?"
"Then the next five hours are of most concern. Give her
sweet cordial; keep her temperature normal: if she feels cold,
cover her up, if she feels warm, cool her downsponge her
with cold water, if necessaryand, if she wants to lie down,
try to keep her head and shoulders raised. If she feels no worse
after five hours, I think you can assume that she is fully recovered."
"What is wrong, Melmenya?" asked Legolas, gently.
He laid her carefully on their bed, arranging the cushions behind
her head, then sat down beside her and took her hand in his. "I
am not angry with you..."
"Angry?" she turned to him in alarm. "What
do you mean? How do you know"
"Well, you did break your promise to me"
"Oh, that..." Eowyn sighed. "I thought
you would understand that."
"Of course I understandyou went to rescue Cyllien,"
said Legolas. "I would rather you had kept your promise,
but I do understand."
He gathered her into his arms. "I do not think I will ever
let you out of my sight again, Eowyn nín. In fact,
I think I am going to ask Gimli to make you a collar and chain
so that I can keep you attached to my belt."
Eowyn's body was shaking in his arms and he smiled down at her,
thinking that she was laughing...
"Melmenya! What is wrong?"
She was sobbing, silently, against his shoulder. He lifted her
chin and tried to catch her gaze but she avoided his eyes, and
began to cry out loud: "I am sorry, Lassui! I am so, so sorry!"
It was hard to hear beyond the roaring in his ears. "He
raped you," he whispered; then louder, and angrily: "The
bastard raped you! Oh, Melmenya..." He pulled her close.
"You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing..."
He rocked her to and fro, rubbing her back soothingly, tears falling
from his eyes. "Shhhhhh, shhhhhh, Melmenya"
"No!" wailed Eowyn. "I raped him."
"Melmenya?" Legolas stopped rocking. "Whatever
do you mean?"
Haltingly, she explained what had happened between her and Wolfram
in the cavern. "I do not know why I did it, Legolas,"
she whispered. "I did not even think. I just did it."
Legolas bit his lip. "It was very clever," he said.
"Do you hate me?"
"Hate you!" He hugged her tightly. "Am I angry?
Yeswith him! Do I want to kill him? Yesafter I have
gelded him! Are you the most remarkable womanthe most remarkable
personI have ever met? Yes! Do I love you? More and
more each day..." He buried his face in her hair. "You
beat him, Melmenya. You beat him"
"I descended to his level. I am ashamed."
"Could you have escaped him any other way?"
"I do not think so, but"
"It was not honourable. It was not"she searched
for the right word"manly."
"Oh, Melmenya." He kissed the top of her head. "No
man would have been put to such a testat least, not by him.
You did what you had to do. And it worked."
"No." Eowyn shook her head. "It gave him what
he wanted. And it made him want me more."
"It may have given him a taste of what he cannot have, Melmenya.
But think of this: if you are feeling dishonourable now, how much
more dishonourable would you be feeling if your courage had failed
you? If you had given in, and allowed him to take everything
"I cannot bear to imagine it."
"Then do not." He kissed her again. "Tell me what
I can do, Melmenya. Tell me how I can make it better..."
Eowyn snuggled closer. "Sing to me," she whispered.
"...Fanuilos, le linnathon
nef aear, sí nef aearon..."
The five hours had passed without incident; Legolas had taken
Eowyn out onto the balcony, and now they were lying, side-by-side
on a low divan, gazing up at Varda's creation.
"Legolas..." whispered Eowyn, as his song died softly
"Do you want to make love to me?"
He turned to face her. "Oh, Melmenya," he stroked her
cheek, "always. If you feel well enough."
"Shhhhh." He kissed her tenderly, gently pulling
at her nightgown, sliding his hand up her thigh and over her hip.
Then, still kissing her, he opened his own leggings, and pulled
Eowyn tried to roll onto her back.
"No," he whispered, "like this. Side by side,
and slowly, hervess a hervenn."
Eowyn buried her face in his hair and wept.
He held her until her tears had ended. Then he felt her little
hand touch him tentatively, and stroke him, gently fondling him,
exploring his hardness. And he waited, letting her take her time,
letting her decide.
"Ah..." he sighed. She was pulling himstill gentlydrawing
him towards her, taking him inside her. "Hervess nín,"
Slowly, sensitively, he took over, holding her lightly by the
waist, and moving, with long, smooth strokes, inside her, soothing
her, until her body relaxed and she settled against him.
"Oh Lassui," she whispered. "My beautiful, beautiful
He reached for her with his mind...
"You can feel me, too," he whispered, smiling.
He kissed her forehead. And, gathering her close, he continued
to thrust, slowly, gently, opening his mind to her, laying bare
his love for her, and letting her explore ittimidly at first
but then, with his encouragement, boldly and joyfullyand,
all the while, he was patiently drawing herdrawing them
bothtowards fulfilment, and a union that nothing and no
one would ever sunder.
"You need some sleep, Melmenya." He kissed her, tenderly.
"No," said Eowyn, "I am not tired at all. What
happened between us, Lassui?"
Legolas smiled. "I am not sure, Eowyn nín.
Some elves, as you know, can talk from mind to mind, without words.
And I have felt your feelings before"
"The first time we made love, during the Harvest Rite. But
last night, when you fell in the sea, I felt everythingthe
physical sensations of drowning, the fear"
"I was afraid," said Eowyn, with embarrassment.
"Oh, Melmenya, anyone would have been afraid! That terrible
painthe longing to breathe where there was no air..."
He hugged her tightly. "I do not know why it has happened
to us, Melmenya. I do not know if it is permanent"
"Did you share it withwith them?"
"Not with Arwen?"
"Why do you ask that?"
"Because she is Lord Elrond's daughter. And because you
are lying to meand I do not think you would lie about any
of the others."
"Do you say that because you are feeling my thoughts or
because you know me?"
Eowyn shook her head. "Because it is written on your face,
Legolas." She smiled. "I cannot feel you now, but there
would be nothing to fear if I could," she said. "You
have never been able to lie to me, even before this."
He stroked her cheek. "Perhaps it happened a little
with Arwen," he said. "Vague impressions. It was certainly
not the bond that we seem to have."
"Do you think we can control it?"
"I have no idea, Melmenya. Time will tell."
"Life is certainly never dull with an elf," said Eowyn.
Legolas laughed. "Is that good?"
"I think so," she said, grinning. "Shall we go
downstairs, Lassui, and see if Hentmirë is recovered?"
"And find out if Wolfram has been captured?"
"And"Eowyn took his hand, "shall we
go back to the Turquoise Gardens this afternoon? I am sure it
would do Hentmirë good. And Cyllien, too. And if you and
I are going to try to share our feelings again, I should like
it to be amongst the trees."
Faramir clung to the saddle as his camel dropped, jerkily, to
its knees, then gratefully swung his leg over the pommel and dropped
to the ground. "Gods," he gasped, trying to work his
"May I never have to ride a camel again!" Berengar
staggered towards him, stretching his back and rubbing his injured
"Be careful!" cried Faramir. He checked the younger
man's dressing. "This needs changing. And, I am sorry to
have to break this to you," he added, "but you must
ride all the way back to Carhilivren."
Berengar shook his head. "Oh no," he said. "No,
FarothI will have to make a new life for myself here."
He looked past the water station, to where the city itself began.
The strange buildings of mud bricktall, many-storied, and
peppered with tiny windowswere hung with all the trappings
of daily life in a townpotted plants, birdcages, strings
of colourful washingand the streets between were filled
with bustlewomen traders crouching beside heaps of food
laid out on cloths, animals foraging, and groups of noisy children
playing with knucklebones.
"It does not look so bad."
Faramir laughed. He turned to Oliel. "How are you?"
Oliel smiled. "I shall be better when I have seen her, my
"Of course. Let us find somewhere to stay and clean up Berengar's
wound. Then you and I will go straight to the place mentioned
in the letterthat is, if you are happy for me to accompany
"I would be most grateful, Faramir," said Oliel.
The three men turned towards the owner of the voicethe
woman who had dressed Berengar's wound in the Ripa'a Pass. She
placed her hands together and bowed.
"My lady would be honoured," she said, addressing herself
directly to Berengar, "if you will accept this, my
lord, as a token of her gratitude." She handed him a small
item, wrapped in a silken cloth. "And she requests, once
more, that you will wait upon her father..."
"We shall, Mistress," said Faramir. And for some reason,
he felt compelled to place his hand upon his heart and bow, elven-fashion.
The woman returned his courtesy, and backed away.
"Oh gods, Faroth," whispered Berengar.
"What is it?"
"A ring," said the younger man. "It is a gold