Legolas! thought Haldir and, with a gentle,
apologetic hug, he released Eowyn.
I am sorry, my Lady, he said, rising and walking
out into the main part of the tent. That was inappropriateI
have insulted you, and I have betrayed Legolas...
Legolas? Eowyn followed him. Did Legolas
tell you what happened? Haldir? She caught him by his good
Haldir turned. What has happened?
Eowyns eyes narrowed as she scrutinised his face. No.
He did not tell you... So how do you know? Did my brother tell
you? Or Aragorn? Or was it Arwen?
I do not understand
One moment of foolishness, she said, raking her hand
through her hair. One moment! And I must pay for
it for the rest of my life, whilst he...!
Haldir's expression softened. Will you please tell me what
you are talking about, Eowyn he asked, gently.
Deep in the forest
Legolas crouched beside Golradir. Do you sense any more
lookouts? he whispered.
The March Warden shook his head. Not along the trail.
Nor do I. I think it is safe to summon the others.
He raised his hands to his lips and whistled like a bird.
Then he turned back to Golradir. Now would be a good time,
he said, to scout the enemy encampment, get a count of their
numbers, and view their defencesperhaps discover what they
Are you asking for a volunteer, my Lord? asked Golradir,
That was the signal, my Lady, said Fingolfin.
Return it, my Lord, said Eowyn. She patted Hentmirës
hand. Are you ready?
Yes, whispered the little woman, hoarsely.
Eowyn signalled the others to move out. Remember,
she said, quietly, as the riders passed by, stay on the
trail; move swift and silent.
Eowyn sat down heavily on the camp bed, beckoning Haldir to join
After we had defeated Sarumans army, she said,
and Fangorn had finished off those we had not killedrending
them limb from limb as they fledwe tended the wounded, and
buried the dead. She glanced at the big elf. Forgive
meI was sure that I had seen you amongst the fallen...
She shook her head, as though to clear away the false memory.
At last, she continued, we could celebrate
our victory. We gathered in the Golden Hall. The ale flowed and
the warriors drank... I went out onto the terrace for some
air. Legolas was already therea single, lonely figure, gazing
out across the plains of Rohan. I went up to him. We talked...
She closed her eyes. It was madnessI knew that it
was madness! And afterwards he spoke of marriage. But he
was an elf, and Imy uncle had named me his heir should Eomer
not survive. How could I marry an elf?
She looked up at Haldir, her eyes pleading for understanding.
But he was right, I was with child. I had a little
boy,her face was suddenly transformedhalf
elf, half human.
A child? But... Where is he?
He lives in Minas Tirith, replied Eowyn, with
Arwen and Aragorn. I will not live to see him grow to manhood,
Haldir, and it seemed best that he should think Arwen his mother
from the outset.
You are not the Eowyn I know, said Haldir, slowly.
You look like her, you sound like her, but you... You are
more experienced, more worldly-wise than she. How can that be?
Do you still love himLegolas?
Love him? I told you, it was a moment of madness, not an
act of love. She frowned. Truly.
But you speak of his child with such tenderness.
He is my child, HaldirI carried him,
for almost a year, I gave birth to himof course I
love him, though I have not seen him since the day he was born...
She turned to the elf, suddenly anxious. Legolas does not
know that he has a sonwe thought it best that he should
not know. Please, swear to me that you will not tell him.
We? said Haldir.
Faramir and I. Eowyn looked away. I was betrothed
to Faramir before I realised that I was with child, for the healers
had always told me that I was barren. When I confessed my folly
to himhe was such a good man, Haldirhe promised to
love the child as his own,she shook her headso
different from Eomer! But, of course, once Meldon was born, it
was obvious that his father had been an elf. So we asked Arwen
to help us, and she and Aragorn agreed to adopt himand to
tell Legolas nothing.
You must tell him, said Haldir, softly.
Why, Eowyn? Elves love their children above all else. For
him not to know...
Eowyn shook her head, determination hardening her beautiful face.
Oh, Eowyn,Haldir reached for herwhat
a difficult life you have been given to lead... He drew
her close. And, this time, his conscience did not stand in their
Deep in the forest
The three elves darted from the trees, and signalled the riders
Legolas came up beside Eowyn and caught hold of Brightstars
bridle. We have dealt with the lookouts, he said,
so you should have no trouble, provided you keep to the
What will you be doing?
Golradir and I are going to scout the enemy encampment.
Orodreth will come with you. He laid a reassuring
hand on Eowyns booted leg. We will make sure that
we are not seen. You must lead the others to Emyn Arnen. Leave
our horses another quarter mile down the trail and we will catch
up with you as soon as we can. He squeezed her ankle, mouthing,
Biting her lip, Eowyn nodded curtly, then signalled the other
riders to move off. As they passed behind her, she lingered, gazing
down at Legolas. If you get into trouble, tell me,
she said softly, referring, as he knew, to their mental bond.
Gimli and I will come back for you.
I shall, melmenya. He patted Hentmirës
foot. And youdo not look so worried, gwendithen!
Take care, said Eowyn. She drew up the reins and
nudged Brightstars flanks, and the two women galloped down
the trail after the others.
The mess tent
The boy tried to swat aside the hand that was gently shaking
his shoulder. Wha?
I have brought your father.
Arador sniffed, andsuddenly aware of the painful crick
in his neckraised his head; he had fallen asleep in the
empty Mess Tent. He peered up at the two men standing beside him.
One was Berengar; the other was...
Uncle Aubin. The boy yawned. What are you
doing here? Moving his head cautiously, he looked around.
I thought you said you had brought my father?
The two men exchanged glances. Did you bump your head in
that cave? asked Aubin.
I bumped everything, said Arador, stretching his
arms. Several times. And nearly drowned. He rubbed
his face. Where is my father?
What are you talking about? I am here. Aubin sat
down opposite him. Can I trouble you to fetch my wife, Master
Of course... The secretary left.
Let me see your eyes, said Aubin.
What? Arador scowled. Why? He
batted the mans hand away. Why are you pretending
to be my father? What has happened to my father? He suddenly
rose to his feet and demanded, loudly, Where is my mother?
What have you done with her?
I am here, Aran...
The boy turned towards the feminine voice. Mama?
He frowned. The woman standing beside Berengar looked at least
ten years older than the mother he had left behind in Newhome
butdespite the grey hairthere was no doubting that
it was she.
There was a moments pause. Then Arador held out his arms
and his mother rushed to him, hands outstretched.
Oh, Aran, I thought you were dead! I thought I had seen
your dead body... She threw her arms around him and Arador
gathered her close, cradling her head on his shoulder.
What is he doing here, Mama? Where is my father?
The woman looked up at her son, then turned to her husband, confused.
What do you mean, Aran?
You are not married to himhe is my uncle.
Berengar stepped forward. Whatever is happening here,
he said, must wait
He is not my father, insisted Arador. He
is my fathers twin
Please, Lord Aubin, Lady Morwen, said Berengar, gently
disentangling the woman from her sons embrace and handing
her to her husband, I will bring your son to you when he
has discharged his duty.
He is not began Arador.
HUSH! Berengar waited calmly, pinning Arador in place
with one outstretched hand whilst staring down Lord Aubin until
the man reluctantly drew his sobbing wife from the Mess Tent.
Good. Now, what I told your parents,he held
up his handstold those people, was true. Princess
Eowyn needs youmap in hand and with all your faculties alert.
He grasped Aradors shoulders and shook him hard. You
must put this behind you until the war is over. And then...
His voice trailed away.
We may all be dead, finished Arador, quietly. And,
if so, nothing else will matter.
Haldir sighed contentedly. He had always known that Eowyn was
the true companion of his spirit
He felt her stir against his chest. You are a dear, sweet
elf, Haldir, she said, softly.
And you, said Haldir, raising her small hand to his
lips and kissing her fingers, are a dear, sweet adaneth.
The smile they exchanged was filled with all the intimacy they
had just experienced. Eowyn was the first to turn away. I
suppose I should
No. Not yet. Haldir exerted just a fraction of his
elven strength. Stay with me a while longer.
She gazed into his eyes, and read his mind. This cannot
No. I wish for nothing else, meleth nín,
but I do not believe it can.
Then let us stay like this until they come to fetch me.
Deep in the forest
Eowyn led the advance party northwards until she found a sharp
bend in the Forest trail, skirting an outcropping of rocks that
formed a natural fortification. She drew the riders to a halt.
This will do, she said.
One of us should stay with the horses, my Lady, said
My thinking exactlyLord Fingolfin, might I trouble
you to take care of Lady Hentmirë for me?
Of course, my Lady.
Eowyn? The little woman peered over her companions
Because Gimli and I are going to wait here for Legolas
and Golradir, said Eowyn, patting the older womans
hand, just in case Legolas needs us, Hentmirë. The
rest of you will make for Emyn Arnen as planned. Lord Fingolfin,she
pulled a small leather document pouch from around her neck and
handed it to the elfthis is the message from your
Lord. I trust that you will give my double your full support if,
for any reason, Legolas and I cannot reach her.
Fingolfin placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head.
You may rely upon me, my Lady.
Legolas raised a hand to signal caution, then beckoned.
Golradir leaped gracefully through the branches and landed silently
beside him. From the cover of the foliage, the two elves gazed
down into the clearing below.
By the two trees, murmured the March Warden. That
must be their command post. He pointed to a pavilion of
dark canvas, sited at the far end of the encampment.
And that, said Legolas, referring to the small, elderly
woman seated on an elaborate chair, must be their Queen.
Valar, said Golradir. That throne...
Is built of bones, said Legolas.
Something is happening.
Two female warriors, clad in leather armour, dragged a malesomewhat
smaller than themselvesinto the command post and threw him
to the ground at the Queens feet. Then one of the females
drew a curved blade and, placing her foot on the wretchs
back, pressed its tip to his neck.
They do not appear to be celebrating a victory, said
In the tent, there was a brief exchange of words, then the elderly
Queen waved her hand.
The female warrior raised her sword high above her head, and
brought it down in a single clean cut. The males severed
head rolled away from his body; his executioner caught it with
the flat of her blade and swept it away from the throne.
At least it was swift, whispered Golradir.
A second male was brought in, and dispatched in the same way.
How many troops do you see? asked Legolas.
Golradir scanned the clearing. To the right, a herd of massive
lizards waited restively, stamping and snapping at their handlers;
to the left, ten distinct clusters of male warriors appeared to
be digging in for the night. No more than two hundred here,
he whispered, but that trail,he nodded northwardsleads
to a long chain of clearings, all of comparable size. If they
are making full use of them, we could be looking at a total force
of,he shruggedup to three thousand, perhaps.
Legolas nodded. Do you see any indication that they will
Golradir looked back into the tent. A third male had been brought
inside, but this onea fine-looking elf, taller than most
of the females, heavily built, and with a thick mane of white
hairappeared to be in favour. Golradir watched the executioner
unbuckle the sword belt from her first victim and present it to
the newcomer. He must be their new field commander,
he muttered. I would wish him more success than his predecessor,
but that would not be in our interest... Then, No,
he concluded, I do not see any preparations for battle tonight.
Nor do I, said Legolas. And that gives us a
They remained aloft until they had passed the perimeter that
had been marked by the chain of lookouts, then they dropped to
the ground and, staying within the trees to the west of the trackway,
headed north to collect their horses.
They had covered no more than five hundred yards, however, when
Legolas suddenly sensed somethingsomeonehidden
in the Forest to his right and, as he pulled his bow from its
strap and smoothly nocked an arrow, he saw that Golradir, having
felt the same presence, was doing the same.
The two elves turned to face the threat.
At first they saw nothing.
Then a lean, dark figure stepped out onto the path, swept off
an extraordinary plumed hat, and favoured them with an elaborate,
Legolas lowered his bow.
The stranger straightened up, smiled, replaced his hat, and stepped
back into the trees.
What, in Manwës name, was that? asked
I have no idea Something else caught Legolas
eye, and he turned south to see a band of dark warriors streaming
towards them, hand crossbows raised. Poison, he cried.
Eowyn grinned at Haldir. What is it, Berengar? she
Messengers, my Lady, from Prince Legolas, leading an advance
Eowyn leaped up and, pausing only long enough to pull off the
coverlet and wrap it around herself, threw back the curtain that
closed off her bedchamber, temporarily forgetting the naked elf
still lying in her bed.
Oh! Berengar quickly turned his back. I will
give you a few moments to make yourself decent, my Lady. Open
the tent flap when you are ready. He glanced over his shoulder
and winked at her, affectionately.
Deep in the forest
Gimli, sitting astride Arod, was growing impatient. Where
has that crazy elf got to? he muttered. I should have
insisted on going with him. When Iwhat?
Eowyn had raised her head. He is coming, she said,
reaching for her sword, and he is running! She
took up her bow, and swiftly knocked an arrow.
Running? Gimli rolled off Arods back, drew
his axe, and assumed his battle stance.
At last, the elves flew out of the Forest, closely pursued by
a dozen black-clad warriors.
Gimli hefted his axe and, roaring like a warg, charged with such
ferocity that several of the enemy simply turned and fled. The
remainder raised their crossbows and took aim.
Eowyn immediately loosed her arrow, burying it deep in a glowing
red eye. Blinded and panicking, the stricken dark elf blundered
about, throwing his comrades into chaos, and giving Legolas and
Golradir time to turn, and plant their feet.
As Eowyn nocked her second arrow, Gimli swirled through the knot
of warriors, swinging his axe in great curving strokes, smashing
heads and slashing limbs, and batting their tiny crossbow quarrels
out of the air.
Legolas and Golradir, meanwhile, had raised their bows, and begun
shooting steadily, finishing off the remaining dark warriors with
It was a short battle.
Shall I leave? asked Haldir, struggling to close
his jerkin with one hand, his earlier exertions having made his
Eowyn reached up and, smiling, undid the misaligned hooks and
refastened them. No. You are an experienced warrior and
my trusted advisor. I want you here. She smoothed the fabric
over his broad chest. Do you need to see Master Ethelmar?
I do not want your wound to fester.
I am an elf, said Haldir, smiling. We do not
Well then. Sit down. I will call them in.
She raised the tent flap and peered outside. Moments later, Berengar
ushered in the strange group of messengers: a tall, distinguished-looking
elf, a plump little woman dressedridiculously, Eowyn thoughtin
an elven jerkin, leggings and boots, and a young man.
Hentmirë! cried Haldir, leaping to his feet.
Lord Fingolfin! Berryn! It is so good to see you all.
Eowyn watched in fascination as the woman threw herself at the
big elf, wrapping her stout arms around his waist.
Haldir of Lorien, said the elven messenger. How
did you... Cross over?
Cross over? Gently, Haldir deposited the little woman
in one of the folding chairs. What do you mean?
Perhaps, said Eowyn, taking command, we should
begin with business. She turned to Lord Fingolfin. My
secretary tells me that you carry a message from Prince Legolas.
Of course, my Lady. Forgive me. Fingolfin bowed formally.
Then he drew a leather dispatch pouch from around his neck and
handed it to her. Lady Hentmirë, Master Berryn, and
I left Eryn Carantaur yesterday, in an advance party. The plan
is for us to leave for Minas Tirith and make contact with King
Elessar as soon as possible. Prince Legolas, meanwhile, is raising
troops and will be marching out tomorrow at dawn.
The Princes letter, said Eowyn, looking up
from the parchment, mentions my double.
That is correct, my Lady, said Fingolfin.
Who is this woman? Why has she suddenly begun to haunt me?
May I? Fingolfin gestured to one of the folding chairs.
It may take a while to explain.
Please do, said Eowyn. Master Berryn, Berengar,
please be seated.
Several days ago, Fingolfin began, a young
womanidentical to you in almost every way, it seemsappeared
at Eryn Carantaur claiming to be Lord Legolas wife. At first
we both thought her deluded. But, after listening to her story,
and questioning her, and looking into local lore, I became convinced
that she was telling the truththat she is Lord Legolas
wife, and that she is the joint ruler of the colony, just...
He leaned towards Eowyn, as if closer proximity would make her
more likely to believe him. Just not this Lord Legolas
and not this colony. It seems that there exist two versions
of our worldyou may imagine them lying back-to-back, like
this. He raised his hands and held them palm-to-palm to
illustrate. In certain places, where the boundary between
them is weak, it is possible to cross overpass between the
twoand that is what she had done. Two days later, her
Lord Legolas, Lady Hentmirë, Gimli son of Gloin, and Master
Berryn followed her.
Manwë and Varda, muttered Haldir.
Quite, said Fingolfin.
Eowyn looked thoughtfully at her lover.
Where is Legolas? Haldir asked. Did he come
Yes. But he and Lady Eowyn sent us ahead whilst they scouted
the dark warriors encampment with March Warden Golradir
and Gimli son of Gloin. They will be here shortly.
I should go to them, said Haldir, rising. I
should make sure that they
No, said Eowyn firmly. Sit down. You are not
yet fit to ride and, besides, I want a word with you.
Stupid map! thought Arador.
He pulled the sheet of parchment from its oilskin pouch and,
showing none of his customary reverence for it, spread it out
on the Mess table.
I should never have bought the stupid thing. I should have
spent the money on drink and women, like Brand, son of Bain.
At least he had some fun.
Or so he said.
He peered at the coloured markings.
That would have killed Mama, though...
Frowning, he leaned in closer.
To the left of what he believed was Emyn Arnen, in the very corner
of the map, was a shape that could only beand he wondered,
now, why he had never noticed it beforeMinas Tirith. And
about half-way up the citys sloping side, corresponding,
he supposed, to the third or fourth level, was a tiny image. At
first sight it looked like lantern, for the artist had, with remarkable
skill, contrived to make it seem to glow.
But as Arador stared at it, some unconscious part of his mind
sorted through the information stored there, and retrieved a tiny
And suddenly he knew exactly what the drawing represented, why
the drow artist had marked it, and how it could be used.
Arador folded up the parchment and rushed out in search of Berengar.
Leaving Berengar to make her guests comfortable in the tent,
Eowyn led Haldir out onto the plateau. We will inspect the
defences, she said. You may be able to make some further
As they walked down the winding path in silence, each wanting
to say so much and neither knowing where to begin, Haldir watched
Eowyn thread her way through the various groups of warriors, engineers,
and earnest civilians, taking the time to greet them by name,
ask them about their work and, often, make useful comments.
They passed the inner barricade, which closed off the gorge mouth,
and walked out onto the plain. The area is roughly triangular,
I know, meleth nín, replied Haldir,
gently, and I am intimate with your outer wall, having been
forced to climb over it by Captain Drago. Eowyn... Tell me what
is on your mind.
You are in love with her, said Eowyn. My
Whatever makes you say that?
I am not a fool, Haldir, and I do not believe in love at
first sight. She turned west and walked towards the gulley.
When you made love to me, it felt as though you had suddenly
been given something you had wanted for a very long timeas
though your moment had come. She turned to him. It
was her, was it not? You were making love to her.
No! Haldir caught her by the arms. No,
meleth nín. It is true that I have loved her,
true that I... Well, that does not matter now. But you and she
are so different, Eowyn, and I made love with youwith
my Eowyn. Not with her.
Oh, meleth nín.
Captain Drago jogged across the tongue of land. Riders,
my Lady, he cried, ignoring Haldir, approaching from
the south westthe old droveway. Three horses carrying what
looks like two elves and a woman. And maybe a dwarf.
Legolas and Eowyn, said Haldir.
The couple accompanied Drago to the edge of the gulley to watch
the horses approach. Eowyn brought her hands up to her mouth.
Turn east, she shouted, follow the wall until
it meets the escarpment. We will let you in there.
Legolas raised his hand in a salute and the riders wheeled to
the right and galloped past.
Haldir and Eowyn ran to the barricade. Open the gate, Alfgar!
the woman cried. Quickly.
The captains men hauled back one of the carts, making a
temporary hole in the fortification and, one by one, the horses
jumped the ditch. Then the warriors re-sealed the defences.
Half an hour later
The walk up to the plateau had been uncomfortable. When Haldirexplaining
how he came to be in what Legolas called the shadow landhad
described losing his brothers in the Underdark, Legolas
wife had hugged him, much to his embarrassment and her
Now they were all sitting in the shadow Eowyns tent, trying
to ignore the emotional undercurrents, whilst they planned their
March Warden Golradir has seen the enemy encampment and
can lead your men to it, said Legolas, though I would
counsel you against mounting an attack until we have returned
from Minas Tirith with reinforcements.
But the other Prince Legolas will be approaching from the
south tomorrow, said Drago. That will be the
ideal opportunity to attack on two fronts. In the daylight we
will hold the advantage.
True, said shadow Eowyn. But my drow mercenary
is not due to arrive until the following day
If at all, muttered Alfgar.
She shook her head, smiling. He will come, Captain.
And we will buy his services. Then we will attack on two fronts
and from within; but it must be timed perfectly.
I do not like waiting so long, insisted Drago. If
we give them the chance to attack again at night, my Lady, they
may defeat us before we can put your clever plan into action.
That is why we are leaving for Minas Tirith immediately,
Captain, said Legolas. We can be there and back by
the day after tomorrow.
Thanks to Legolas, said Eowyn, patting her husbands
arm, and Captain Golradir, we know that the drow are not
preparing to attack tonight. So all you need do, Captain Drago,
is stop them attacking tomorrow.
With a small, pre-emptive strike, said Golradir,
Exactly. You saw the camp, March Warden, what could we
achieve with a small band of warriors?
We could set the lizards free, said the elf, without
a moments hesitation. Those things are barely trainedthey
have no loyalty to their riders. If we can stampede them from
clearing to clearing...
They will do our work for us, agreed Legolas.
Very well, said the shadow Eowyn, rising and walking
over to her map table. We agree. March Warden Golradir will
attack the drow encampment just before dusk. At the same time,
Prince Legolas and my double,the two women exchanged
an awkward nodwill leave for Minas Tirith with Lord
Gimli and,she hesitatedand with Haldir.
Captain Drago and Lord FingolfinI will need you here in
case the drow retaliate. Tomorrow, Captain Alfgar will ride out
to intercept the other Prince Legolas and lead him here as swiftly
as possible. The following day The tent flap suddenly
rose letting in a flood of firelight, and she turned towards the
door in irritation. What is it Berengar?
Master Arador has something to show you, My Lady.
He pushed the boy inside.
Well? asked Eowyn. Haldir came up beside her.
I think I know another way into the Underdark, said