legolas and eowyn

Stepping carefully over the urine-soaked sand, Haldir approached the Guardhouse door. Captain Ramess was still lying on his back, but his eyes were open and he was clearly conscious.

“Good morning,” said the elf. “That was an interesting performance.”

The man scrambled to his feet and attempted to draw his knife, but Haldir—too quick and too strong for him—caught him by the wrists.

“I have no interest,” he said, “in your friend—I daresay he paid well for his freedom. All I want is a chance to bargain for your services.”

“Let me go, then,” said Ramess, calmly.

“Provided you understand,” said Haldir, “that I can restrain you again whenever I want.” He released the captain’s arms. “Shall we go to your office?”

Reluctantly, Ramess led the way, down a twisting corridor, to a door within sight of the entrance hall.

“In here,” he said.

“Perhaps you want to inform your men of the prisoner’s escape before we speak?” Haldir suggested, helpfully.

Ramess opened the door. “Wait for me here.”

With a polite nod, Haldir entered the office.

The room was bare apart from a worn carpet, a table strewn with papers, and two chairs. There were no personal touches. Not someone who enjoys his work, thought Haldir.

He sat down.

A few moments later, a troupe of men jogged past the door—Do not search too hard, mellyn nín—then Captain Ramess entered the office, carefully closing the door behind him.

“Now,” he said, “what do you want from me, Master Elf?”

Haldir described the events of the previous evening.

The man’s attitude changed the moment Cyllien’s name was mentioned. “Is she—?”

“She is shaken,” said Haldir, “but she has not, I believe, suffered any lasting harm. She insists that she will sing at The Silk Road tonight. Prince Legolas has the elf, Vardamir, under lock and key and will be taking him back to Eryn Carantaur to stand trial.”

“But Wolfram is still at large?”

“Yes. I do not believe that he drowned,” said Haldir. “The man is a survivor. And, as long as he is free, Lady Eowyn is in danger—and possibly Cyllien, too.” Haldir leaned forward. “Prince Legolas and Prince Faramir have recently rendered the Hatja a great service. They have—how would you put it?—they have his ear.” He waited for Ramess to show that he understood. “In return for my silence—about what I witnessed today—I want you to mount a search for Wolfram. And I want Cyllien protected, discreetly, whenever she is at The Silk Road.”

Ramess nodded. “I will watch her myself.”

“I thought you might.”

“Anything else?”

“No.” Haldir rose, placed his hand over his heart, and bowed his head. Then another thought occurred to him. “Except...” he said. “The man who escaped; who was he?”

“His name is Abdi. He owns—”

“The Blue Parrot.”


Haldir swore in Elvish. “Then there is something else. Something you should know.” He leaned on the table. “Wolfram’s interest in Lady Eowyn is personal,” he said, “and his attack on Lady Hentmirë was opportunistic. But he told Cyllien that he had a customer who wanted her.”

“Did he say who?”

“No. But I happen to know that—shortly before Cyllien was kidnapped—your friend, Abdi, offered Ribhadda a considerable sum of money for her.”


“Are you sure that this is the right place?” shouted Legolas, across the djinn’s chest.

Eowyn raked her streaming hair back from her face. “I think so...” she replied. “Yes—that is where I fell.” She pointed to the cave mouth.

“Sweet Eru, Melmenya, it is a long way down...”

“Yes. But I think the tide was higher last night. TAKE US LOWER,” she called to the djinn.

Grasping them more tightly, the djinn swooped down and hovered over the gently swelling surface of the sea. Legolas scanned the foot of the cliff.

“Can you see anything, Lassui?”

“I am not sure... Do you see that darker patch? I think it might be the mouth of another cave.”

“Beneath the water?”

“Yes.” He addressed the djinn. “CAN YOU FLY UNDER WATER?”

The djinn sighed. “Mistress?



“Could you bear it, melmenya?”

“Of course—if it is over quickly.”

Legolas smiled. “Then ask him to take us down to the dark patch,” he shouted. “Tell him that if the rock is solid he must bring us up immediately. And then take a deep breath!”


You saved her, thought Wolfram, for the hundredth time. You saved her, and that pricking thing stole her and took her back to elf-boy!

He grabbed a pebble and threw it into the sea with a thunk.

Stunned by the djinn’s blow, he had—for some moments—floated helplessly in the water. But then his predator’s nature had asserted itself. He had revived, and dived beneath the waves, and, in that uncanny way he had when acting on pure instinct, he had followed his nose along the cliff face until, lungs bursting, he had swum into another cave, and broken the surface, and found himself in a pocket of sweet air.

He threw another pebble.

Gods, the relief! He had scrambled onto a rocky ledge, collapsed, and lain there all night.

The truth, he thought, is that, somehow, My Lady has got you by the prick. And she will always have you by the prick. It’s her or nothing.

So you must get out of here. He struggled to his feet and looked down into the water.

Oh shit...


Eowyn felt a moment of heart-stopping fear as her body was engulfed by water, but she forced herself to open her eyes.

Down below her, all along the cliff foot, rocky flowerbeds were filled with sea-plants that rippled in a water-breeze, their fingery leaves home to brightly coloured fish. To her right a big sea-serpent, dark and velvety, with tiny white eyes, paused in his undulating journey to peer at her inquisitively. Beside her head, a strange bat-like creature flapped its pointed wings—

Then the djinn swept her through the cave mouth and up, up, out of the water, and into the cavern. She gasped for breath.

Legolas held a finger to his lips.

Eowyn looked around the chamber. It was small—perhaps forty feet across—and quite shallow, its rear wall and ceiling smoothly curved. There was no sign of Wolfram. And nowhere for him to hide.

“Ask the djinn to take us to that ledge, melmenya,” said Legolas softly.

Eowyn relayed the instructions and they hovered over the rock. “Can you see any trace of him?” she asked.

“No. But the entire ledge is wet...” Legolas took one last look around the empty cave. “Ask the djinn to take us back, melmenya.”


Oh, gods’ bollocks!

Wolfram tried to relax. Calm down; calm down; yes... That’s it. Calm... Calm... He was loose! Oh, thank you, gods!

He wriggled out of the narrow fissure, kicked his legs and bobbed to the surface.

I will throttle that pricking elf!

He shoved the gold tube he had been breathing through back into his pocket and pulled himself up onto the ledge. Lucky elf-boy always underestimates me. He might have seen me if he’d looked a bit harder...

He sat down, took out the tube and several other parts, and carefully reassembled it, screwing on the distinctively-shaped head, inserting the tiny sprung mechanism, adding the ridged base—

He glanced across the glittering water.

During the night he had watched the sea fall, then rise again, and now—he was sure—it was falling once more. If I wait a few hours, he thought, until the cave is only part-flooded, I can swim out and make my way back towards the town. There are several places along the Great Royal Road where I can climb up unseen...

And then, My Lady, he thought, winding up the toy, I have some unfinished business with you.

The golden phallus vibrated in his hand.



Faramir had taken Oliel into a nearby tavern. “Here,” he said, removing the seal from a jar of beer. “Drink this; it will do you good.”

Mechanically, the other man raised the soupy liquid to his mouth and took a swig. “Thank you.”

“Eat some bread.”

Oliel smiled. “Berengar is right,” he said.


“You would make a good mother.” He took another mouthful. “Did you see how she looked at me, Faramir?”

Faramir laid his hand on his friend’s arm. “Yes,” he said. “But do not make too much of this first meeting. She was trying to protect you.”

“Protect me from what?”

Faramir told Oliel what he had learned of the man who had posed as Gwirith’s husband. “It seems he was sent to capture her—or to kill her.”

“But she killed him?”

“That is what the doctor believes.” Faramir took a draught of beer.

“No wonder she says she has changed. All this time, when I thought I was plumbing the depths—breaking laws, befriending slavers, turning a blind eye to... to everything...” He shook his head. “All this time, my sweet wife was outdoing me...”

“She has survived in this—this nightmare world—for seven years, Oliel,” said Faramir. “She has shown remarkable courage and tenacity.”

“What shall I do, Faramir? What would you do?”

“Me? I would take her back to Gondor, as soon as possible,” said Faramir. “Even if...” He pressed the man’s arm. “Even if it does not turn out as you hoped—even if you can no longer be together as man and wife—she will be safer in Gondor. We can still find her a refuge—with Berengar and me in Caras Arnen, perhaps, or in Eryn Carantaur with Legolas... No one could touch her there.”

“Yes,” said Oliel. “Yes, of course—thank you, Faramir.” Then he sighed. “But it will not be easy to persuade her, my friend. And we can hardly force her—we would more than likely find our throats cut.”

He might have intended it as a joke, but Faramir answered in deadly earnest. “No,” he said, grimly, “we cannot force her; so you must find some way to persuade her.”



“Is this really yours?” asked Keret, staring up at the Early Bird.

“Yes,” said Hentmirë. She took the boy’s hand and led him up the gang plank, with Gimli following behind. “Good morning, Captain Mutallu,” she called, brightly.

“Good morning, my Lady!” The man immediately finished giving the Mate his orders and came over to greet her. “How are you feeling this morning, my Lady?”

“Very well, thank you,” said Hentmirë. She leaned forward and added, quietly. “It is the water, you know.”


“This is Keret,” she continued. “Would you mind if I took him to sit up there,” she pointed to a wooden locker on the aft deck, “so that we can watch the boats for a while?”

“Of course not, my Lady. I will ask the cook to bring you some refreshments.”

They settled themselves on the locker—Hentmirë to the left, Gimli to the right, and Keret sandwiched between—and looked out across the bay.

Since the ‘Raging Calm’ had descended on Carhilivren, many ships had been forced to extend their stay and now languished at anchor—their sails stowed, their colours hanging limply in the still air—whilst their crews took the opportunity to clean, paint and refit them. In the next berth, kilted Kurians were patching the great sail of a long, papyrus cargo ship, helped and hindered by two tame baboons.

“Look at the monkeys!” cried Keret, laughing.

Hentmire handed him a tankard of lemonade. “Tell us about your mother, my dear,” she said, passing another to Gimli.

“What do you want to know?”

“Well, what was her name?”

The boy shrugged his shoulders. “I called her Mummy.”


The djinn swept Legolas and Eowyn through the balmy air and deposited them, still damp, at the end of the Great Royal Road, where the private villas gave way to tenements, and the bustle of the city began. Eowyn carefully stowed him, inside his lamp, in her carpet bag. Then, hand-in-hand, she and Legolas wound their way through the busy streets to The Silk Road, where Hiram admitted them immediately.

Ribhadda was behind the bar, checking—as was usual in the morning—his inventory of spirits. “Please,” he said, gesturing to one of the tables, “sit down. Is this about Cyllien?” He took a seat opposite them. “She came back about an hour ago, but I haven’t had a chance to speak to her.”

“No,” said Legolas. “This is something else. This concerns a young boy that we—for want of a better word—rescued yesterday. His name is Keret.”


“Yes. He says he knows you.”

“Ah,” said Ribhadda, but whether he was admitting that he knew Keret, or merely acknowledging the question, Legolas could not tell.

Eowyn tried a different approach. “The boy has asked us to help him find his mother,” she said.

“I see.”

“He says that she disappeared on her way to see you.”

Oh, Melmenya! thought Legolas. Now he will lie to us!

But Ribhadda seemed genuinely surprised by the information. “On her way here?

“Did she arrive?” asked Legolas.

“No. No, I don’t believe she did. When was this, exactly?”

Legolas decided to follow Eowyn’s lead. “Keret says that he saw you—the night before his mother disappeared—kill someone at the Circus. A man called Balashi.”

Ribhadda rose to his feet. Legolas and Eowyn looked up at him in surprise. “You are saying that Riya disappeared the next day?”


“The boy’s mother. I did not realise it was so soon after.”

“You did kill this man, then?” asked Eowyn, softly.

Ribhadda replied with perfect frankness: “Yes, my Lady. I did kill him, because I thought it would protect Riya and the boy. It seems I was wrong.”

Eowyn sighed with relief.

Beneath the table, Legolas sought her hand and squeezed it, gently. “Protect them from what?” he asked.

“Let me fetch us all a drink,” said Ribhadda. He walked over to the bar and poured out three glasses of spirits.

“Here—I thought that Balashi was planning to hand them over to Abdi.” He knocked back his drink. “Riya was Abdi’s slave—he paid a mint for her. She was quite beautiful then—tall, slender, face like...” He sighed. “She looked a lot like Cyllien. Pretty soon, Abdi was treating her like a wife—he got careless around her—let her see too much of his operation—and he underestimated her. She saw so much, she went to the authorities.”

“What did they do?” asked Legolas.

“What they were paid to do—they told Abdi. Riya managed to escape—don’t ask me how—and hid herself at the Circus. That’s where she found Keret.”

Found him?”

“He is not her natural son.”

“I do not think that Keret knows that,” said Legolas.

“No, probably not.” Ribhadda returned to the bar to refill his glass. “Anyway,” he said, “that’s how I got to know her—the boy broke into my storeroom, I found him, locked him up to teach him a lesson, and she came looking for him... She had a real way with her, in spite of how she made a living—real classy way.”

He gave Eowyn one of his rare smiles, letting his eyes linger on her for a moment. “Some women just have it.”

He knocked back his drink. “After that, I saw a good deal of both of them.”

“But she was still seeing other men, too?” asked Legolas.

“That was her choice,” said Ribhadda. “One day, I went down to the Circus and ran into another of her regular customers. And I recognised him.”


“Yes. Abdi’s new right-hand man.”

“Did he know who Riya was?” asked Eowyn.

Ribhadda nodded. “I don’t know what he thought he was doing—he’d been visiting her for a week or two. Maybe he’d taken a liking to her, maybe it was his way of interrogating her—I couldn’t take the risk. I threatened him; we fought; I killed him.”

“Keret saw you, and told his mother,” said Legolas.

“And she came to see you the next day,” said Eowyn.

“She never arrived. Though, of course, I can’t prove it.”

We believe you,” said Legolas.

“Keret is convinced that his mother is still alive,” added Eowyn.

“But would she really have abandoned the boy?” asked Legolas.

Ribhadda thought for a moment. “Like I say, Riya had class. And there’s no doubt she loved that boy. But she also had something else—the strongest instinct for survival I’ve ever come across—excuse me—”

Someone had begun hammering at the main doors. Ribhadda went to investigate.

Eowyn turned to Legolas. “If Riya was a slave,” she said, quietly, “do you think she came from Gondor?”


“Good morning,” said Haldir. “I am sorry to disturb you, but I have some important news and—ah, Legolas—”

“Do you want a drink?” asked Ribhadda, indicating that the elf should join the others at the table.

“No—no, thank you.”

Haldir told them what he had seen in the alley behind the Guardhouse, and of the deal he had struck with Captain Ramess. “Of course,” he said, “if Wolfram is—as we suspect—working for Abdi, there is little chance that Ramess’s men will ever ‘find’ him.” He turned to Ribhadda. “I think that Cyllien is still at risk.”

“Yes,” said the man, “so do I—I did even before this—that’s why the back door’s locked, the windows are barred, and Aqhat is camped outside her dressing room.”

“Has she told you that she has agreed to come North with us?”

“No,” said Ribhadda, “she hasn’t told me that.”

“I am sorry,” said Haldir. “I know she attracts customers—”

“I think I’ll survive,” replied Ribhadda. In his own laconic way he was giving the two elves his blessing.

Haldir met his gaze, and smiled, gratefully. “Is she here? Do you mind if I have a word with her?”

Ribhadda gestured towards the stage door. “Be my guest.” He turned back to Legolas and Eowyn. “You say you promised Keret you’d find his mother?”

“If we can,” said Eowyn.

Ribhadda nodded, gravely. “Be careful. Abdi has eyes all over Carhilivren, and if Riya is still alive she has good reason to be in hiding. If you go asking round for her—”

“We could expose her,” said Legolas. “We understand. Do not worry, Master Ribhadda. We shall be very discreet.”


“Who is it?”


“You had better come in.”

Haldir entered; Cyllien spoke to his reflection in her dressing table mirror. “You left my bed without saying goodbye.” She leaned forward, and applied some stain to her lips with a fine brush.

“You were sleeping,” said Haldir, “and I thought you needed the chance to heal...”

“What do you want?”

“Oh, Cyllien!” Haldir pulled up a chair and sat, watching intently as she applied paint to her eyelids.

“It is not going to work,” she said.

“That depends on what you mean by work,” said Haldir. “I care for you, Cyllien, I do—”

“But there’s a ‘but’ coming.”

“I have no idea how you feel; and I am finding it hard to trust my own feelings.”

“I’ve said it before—you need to get away from her.”


“Mistress Perfect.”

Haldir grinned. “Cyllien!

For the first time, the elleth turned and looked at him directly. “That expression does not suit you, Haldir,” she said. “You look better angry—I imagine you look very good killing orcs.” Haldir’s smile broadened. “I don’t think that Ilúvatar ever intended you to be happy—you just don’t have the face for it. And I am quite sure he never intended me to be happy.”

She laid down her kohl pot and walked over to the wardrobe, stepping carefully over the gowns that Wolfram had thrown on the floor. “They will have to go. Perhaps Mistress Perfect would like them...” She took two more from the cupboard. “Which one,” she asked, holding up each in turn.

“Dark blue,” said Haldir. “Dark colours suit you.” Then he added, “And I think I could be happy. I think I would enjoy sharing my life—”

“Of course,” said Cyllien. “But would you enjoy sharing it with me?”

“If you had asked me, before I met you,” said Haldir, “to describe the woman—the elleth—I wanted, I would have said a comrade; a warrior; someone strong and resilient; someone who carried her femininity lightly—”

“Mistress Perfect.”

“But, this morning, watching you paint your lips and choose your gown, I realise that I enjoy it. You are very feminine, Cyllien—the way you look, the way you behave—and I enjoy it—”

“That,” said Cyllien, “is lust talking.”

“Perhaps,” said Haldir. “But there is more. Last night, seeing you in the cave, so helpless, so frightened, I wanted to protect you.”

“And that’s why you left me and went to find her?”

“I went to find her because I had promised Legolas I would. He is my commander, my ruler, she is his lady, and she was in immediate danger. Had that not been the case, I would never have left your side.”

“Haldir...” She draped her dark blue gown over the back of her dressing table chair and settled herself on his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Whatever I may feel for you,” she said, “I will not share you. So—can you ever be free of her?”

“I shall always care for her, Cyllien. And admire her. And I shall always owe her my life. But I no longer love her. She is my past.”

“Am I your future?”

“Do you want to be?”

Cyllien did not reply.

“We are two damaged elves, Tithen Dúlinn; all we can do is try to—”

“Yes,” said Cyllien. “Yes, I do. I do want to come back to Eryn Carantaur with you. I do want to share your talan. I do want to braid your hair in the morning and unlace your boots at night.” She sighed. “So Mistress Perfect was right, and now she is going to be so full of herself.”

Laughing, Haldir drew her against his chest, and held her close.


Rihat: the war lord’s palace

“Must we, Faroth?” asked Berengar. “Could we not—”

“We must,” said Faramir.

“I have not even seen her face!”

“Would that make a difference?”


“On what?”

“On whether I have to marry her or not.”

Faramir patted his arm. “I will not let it come to that. I promise.”

The war lord’s palace—in contrast to the tall, narrow buildings surrounding it—was wide, and low, and surrounded on all four sides by a walled enclosure filled with carefully-tended greenery.

“Her father has money,” said Berengar.

“Her father has power,” said Faramir. “Give me the ring.” He approached the gate and summoned the gatekeeper, showing him the token.

The man bowed. “You are expected, my Lords,” he said, opening the gate. “Please make your way to the house, without stepping from the path.”

Faramir guided the reluctant suitor along the pure white paving stones.

“Thank the gods I cleaned my boots,” whispered Berengar.

They were greeted at the palace doors by a doorkeeper, who led them into the reception hall. At one end of the chamber, on a low dais, sat two elaborate thrones; two simple chairs had been positioned before them.

“Take a seat, my Lords,” said the servant. “My Lord Abdosir will join you presently.”

Ten minutes passed. Then a liveried servant emerged from a door beside the dais. “Stand!” he cried.

Berengar glanced at Faramir. Both men rose to their feet.

The servant stepped aside to admit four warriors, armed with drawn scimitars, who swept into the chamber and took up position, either side of the dais, swords raised.

“Oh no,” whispered Berengar.

Then two heralds climbed onto the platform and, standing at either side of the thrones, raised their trumpets and blew a fanfare, whilst slave girls, wearing nothing but jewelled belts, showered the waiting men with petals.

“Oh, Faroth—”

At last, a small, rotund man, wearing a magnificent robe of red and gold, and a jewelled headdress surmounted by a peacock feather crest, entered the chamber, climbed, with great dignity, onto the dais, and seated himself on the right-hand throne.

He studied them with shrewd, dark eyes. “Which of you is Berengar?”

The secretary froze, eyes fixed on the floor until, at a nudge from Faramir, his head shot up and he stared back at the war lord, looking confused and, for once, something less than beautiful.

“So,” said Abdosir, “you are the young villain that thinks he will steal my daughter.”


Carhilivren: the bedroom...

Ah!” Eowyn collapsed upon Legolas’ chest.

The elf, reaching his climax a moment later, arched his back, stayed rigid—“AI!”—then relaxed. He gathered her close. “Melmenya... You will kill me...” he murmured.

“I? It was you who pounced on me.”

“You had taken all your clothes off.”

“To bathe.”

Legolas laughed, and nuzzled her cheek.

“At least,” said Eowyn, raising her head, “we have lifted your black mood.”

She pushed herself up on her hands and gazed down at him, her cheeks still flushed from lovemaking, her skin glistening in the sunlight, tendrils of damp hair clinging to her shoulders.

Legolas reached up and touched her cheek. “You are glowing, Melmenya...” Then, “What do you mean, black mood?”

“Are you worried about Keret’s mother?”

He shook his head. “I am worried about Keret—I think the woman is dead.” He came up on his elbows and licked away a bead of sweat as it ran down her throat. He was still hard inside her.

Oh...” Eowyn closed her eyes. “Why do you think that?”

“Why else would she have abandoned a small boy?”

“There could be many reasons—”

“It is not natural for an adult to desert a child.” He brushed his lips over her breast and kissed a damp, hard nipple. “Mmmm.”

Ah...” Eowyn arched her back in response. “No. But Abdi could have threatened the boy: ‘Come back to me or I will kill him’.”

“If she went back to Abdi,” said Legolas, kissing the other nipple, “then she is dead. Do we stop looking?”

“Mmmm? No—we made Keret a promise.”

“Suppose we find her,” he slid his hands down to her waist, pulling her hips closer, “and she no longer wants anything to do with him?”

Eowyn bent over him, bearing down on him. “Could we take him home with us?”

“Of course.” He grasped her buttocks, and began to thrust. “But are you sure...”

“I do not mean adopt him—oh—but we could find him somewhere safe to live—find them both—oh—if it came to that...” They were making love in earnest now. “Oh, my elf!” She leaned down and pressed her lips to his ear, “You are a stallion, Lassui.”



Contents page


Previous chapter: Painful truths
Oliel finds his wife. Keret claims his reward.

Chapter 8

Chapter 10: The suitor
Faramir plays a dangerous game. Wolfram disguises himself.

Chapter 10