Lord Fingolfin laid down his pen with a sigh.
Master Amdír, the chief craftsman-builder of Eryn Carantaur,
his assistant Master Mablung, and his two young apprentices, had
already been travelling for almost three hours whenas the
sun rose above the mountains of Mordorthey approached the
ancient cedar grove of Eryn Laeg, twenty miles east of the city.
Amdír scanned the woods around him. The forest was unusually
sparse heremany trees had died in Saurons timeand
the undergrowth was dense and tangled. This is the place,
he called, raising a hand and bringing the others to a halt.
One of the apprentices immediately began to dismount, but Mablung
turned in his saddle and stopped the younger elf with a warning
Amdír placed a hand over his heart, bowed his head, and
recited a short prayer of thanks to Aulë and Yavanna. Then,
after a moments respectful silence, he dropped lightly from
his mount, took from his travelling pack a bundle of markerssmall,
brightly coloured flags sewn onto slender wooden stakesand
handed them out to his companions. We need five, he
said, at least three feet broad, straight and true, and
Leaving their horses to graze along the trail, the four elves
entered the woods and, using stout wooden staffs to part the undergrowth,
cleared themselves a temporary path.
A very affectionateand pleasantly well-endowedelf
had snuggled up behind her and, wrapping his arms around her and,
was nuzzling her ear, and rubbing her buttocks with an eager erection.
Gods... Eowyn closed her eyes and pretended to sleep.
One of the elfs hands wandered upwards and cupped her breast,
gently lifting and kneading it.
Dear gods. Eowyns smile broadened, but she kept her eyes
closed, and her body still.
Now the elfs soft mouth was biting her neck, and his other
hand was kneading her belly, and his penis...
Oh, gods! Somehow, his penis had slipped between her legs
and was firmly pressing against her most sensitive flesh.
Eowyns body responded with a pool of moisture. I could
happily die like this...
Then the hand on her belly reached down between her thighs, and
the elfs body shifted, and the head of his penis found exactly
the right spot, and Ai, he whispered, and she smiled
as he nudged inside her.
My love... She reached over her shoulder and pulled
his head closer.
And the elf, pressing his cheek to hers, immediately slid both
hands to her waist and entered her fully.
Dear, dear gods. Eowyn lay stilltrapped between
the wild wood elf above her and the rocking bed beneath herand
let him do what he would with her...
And soonvery soonshe was cominghelplessly
comingagain and again, her multiple crises merging
into one relentless orgasm thatthough she feared she might
die of itshe prayed would never stop
I think I have one, called Elemmakil, the older and
more competent of Amdírs two apprentices, over
here. He used the end of his staff to clear away the tangle
of brambles and showed his master the trunk of a fallen cedar,
tall and straight, and a good five feet in diameter at the root.
Yes, said Amdír. It looks very suitable.
He examined the trunk for signs of rot. Noit is perfect.
Mark it red.
Elemmakil selected a flag, drove the slender stake into the ground,
and unfurled the piece of fabric. The red marker hung, plainly
visible, about two feet above the highest patches of undergrowth.
Now find me another, said Amdír, with a smile.
He turned towards his other apprentice. Annael?
The younger elf was standing, some hundred feet ahead of him,
one hand resting on the trunk of a living cedar, staring down
at the ground beneath the tree.
Annael! I shall not tell you again! Using his staff
to push back the brambles, Master Amdír hurried to his
wayward apprentices side. I have warned you about
going off into reverie when you should beOh, by the Valar!
There are more, said Annael. At least two more.
Eowyn turned off the main walkway, crossed the broad market-flet,
and slowly climbed one of the many staircases that spiralled up
to the dwellings above. The house she was seeking was on the highest
fletsmall, but pretty, with pots of fragrant flowers clustered
beneath its windows.
She paused before its pale green door. Should I be doing this?
she wondered. Do I have the right? She sighed. Probably
But she knocked, and the door opened immediately.
Eowyn placed her hand upon her heart and bowed her head in a
formal greeting. Maer aur, Lessien Curufiniell.
Eryn Carantaurs own Mistress of the Ceremony smiled. Lady
Eowyn, she replied, in the Common Tongue, Please,
come in. I have been expecting you. She stepped aside to
allow Eowyn to enter, then gestured towards two chairs standing
before the fireplace.
Eowyn took a seat, but her stiff back and her hands, clasped
upon her lap, betrayed her nervousness.
Can I offer you a drink, my lady? asked Lessien.
Nono, thank you, I would just...
Like to ask some questions. I understand. Lessien
took the chair opposite. You have concerns about the Rite.
What is troubling you?
The woman looked down at her hands. Then, flushing crimson, she
said, Legolas does not know I have come here... And he
would probably wonder why I am not asking him. But I could
not bear to hear the answer from his lips. Not if...
She sighed. Is it possible, Lady Lessienmight
the Valar give him someone else this time? And, if they do, will
I have to watch?
When the elleth did not reply, Eowyn looked up in alarm. But
Lessien was smiling. You are Lord Legolas betrothed,
she said. He is bound to you. He could not perform the Rite
with anyone else.
Does that mean...? Does it mean that the Valar will
Lessien thought carefully before replying. As you know,
my Lady, I am new to my office, and the Mistress who trained me
was not, perhaps, the most reliable guide, butwhilst no
one but the celebrant himself knows how Yavanna makes the Lady
known to himit is my belief that, ultimately, the choice
lies with the celebrant himself. I believe that the visionwhatever
it may beis expression of his own heart.
You are saying that every celebrant is given his hearts
own choice, said Eowyn.
Even if he is unsure who that choice might be, said
Lessien. Which, of course, Lord Legolas is not.
Tears sprang to Eowyns eyes. Thank you, she
said, softly, thank you so much...
Would you like that drink now, my lady?
Eowyn smiled. Yes. Yes, please.
Lessien rose and walked over to the sideboard. Is there
anything else you would like to ask? She selected a particularly
lovely gobletglancing at Eowyn as she did so, as though
matching the beauty of the design to the beauty of her guest.
Two things, admitted Eowyn, though one is just
Curiosity is gift of the Valar, my lady, said Lessien.
She poured a measure of fruit cordial into the frosted glass,
added bubbling water, then handed the drink to Eowyn.
Thank you. Well, said Eowyn, the serious question
iswill Legolas need to observe a period of celibacy before
He will. But, since this is not his first time, the period
is much reducedto just three days.
I see. Eowyn thought for a moment. Then I can
stay with Hentmirë... She took a sip of cordial.
What is your more curious question, my lady? asked
Lessien, returning to her seat.
Well, said Eowyn, slowly, Suppose, for some
reason, I had not attended the Rite last year. Legolas would have
chosen some other womanor elleth, rather; would she
now be his betrothed?
That is a good question, my lady. A very good question.
Lessien sat back in her chair, and thought for a long moment.
Since the Lady of the harvest is, in some respect, chosen
by Yavanna, and Yavanna chose you, had you not attended
the Rite last year, Middle-earth would be a very different place.
And, if Middle-earth were a different place, then I suppose
that anything might happen in it... I am afraid I do
not know the answer your question, my Lady.
The four craftsman-builders galloped into the clearing beneath
the city. March Warden Haldir, cried Amdír,
as he dismounted and ran towards guards at the bottom of the main
staircase, where is he?
He should be with Lord Legolas and the Council, replied
one of the guards. In the Council Chamber
The two elves sprinted up the spiralling stairs, and along the
walkway to the Palace buildings.
We have important news for Lord Legolas and March Warden
Haldir! cried Amdír. The guard opened the Council
Chamber door, andwithout waiting for further permissionthe
master and his apprentice ran inside.
The meeting of the Inner Council, consisting of Legolas and Eowyn,
Gimli, Lord Fingolfin, Lord Caranthir, and the treasurer, Lord
Lenwë, March Warden Haldir, and Captain Golradir of the Palace
Guard, had begun with a discussion of the current building works.
As you can see, said Caranthir, gesturing towards
the report he had prepared for Legolas, with these changes,
the new wing could be completed fouror perhaps fivedays
earlier than we had originally planned. But I would not recommend
The time we would save is not sufficient in any case,
Is there anything we could do to improve the existing
accommodation, my lord? asked Eowyn. We do have two
She was interrupted by a commotion at the door.
Legolas looked up from Caranthirs report. Ah, Master
Amdírdo come in and join us, he said, beckoning
the craftsman-builder to approach the Council Table. I understood
that you had gone to Eryn Laeg to select more timber.
Amdír bowed nervously. I did, my Lord, this very
morning. But we,he glanced at his companion
or, rather, Annael here, found something else, my Lord,
lying amongst the trees. Dead bodies. Human bodies. Six
Six? Legolas glanced around the table. The other
members of his Inner Council were as shaken by the news as he
was. How did they die, Master Amdír?
IerI did not look, my Lord
I did, my Lord, said Annael, stepping forward with
a little bow. They had sword woundsat least, the ones
I saw did.
Are there any orcs in that area, melmenya? asked
No. I do not think so... For several years, Eowyn
had been gathering information about the bands of orcs thatdespite
the fall of Sauronstill roamed Middle-earth, collating it
onto a large map of Ithilien so that she could look for patterns
in their migration, and predict where they might appearand
attacknext. She glanced at Lord Caranthir, who been maintaining
the map whilst she had been in Far Harad, for confirmation.
The elf shook his head. I have had no reports from that
part of the forest, my Lady, he confirmed.
How long have the men been dead? asked Legolas.
I do not know, my lord, said Annael. But not
long. They have not yet begun to... He gestured. Then
he added, in a low voice. And at least one of them is a
Several of the counsellors gasped.
We must recover the bodies immediately, said Legolas,
decisively. We must identify these unfortunate people and
inform their families. And we must catch their killers...
He turned to Haldir. Which is the nearest guard post?
Triple the garrison there and set up a continuous patrol
along the road. Legolas sighed. That is the main route
into the city...
And the way your father will be coming in less than two
weeks time, added Fingolfin.
I shall leave at once, said the Haldir. Master
Amdírwill you and your apprentice be willing to accompany
Oh. Yes... Of course, sir. Amdír bowed.
Take a healer, said Legolas. Take Master Dínendal
You think there may be survivors, my lord? asked
It is possible, said Legolas. Men are a hardy
people. Perhaps I should come with you, Hal
No, said Eowyn, firmly. No, you have the Harvest
Rite and your fathers visit to prepare for. Haldir will
send word if he needs our assistance.
Haldir went straight to the Guard House and selected the most
reliable of his troopsincluding his brothers Rumil and Orophin,
and Valandil, Orodreth and Camthalionto retrieve the bodies
and search the cedar glade, plus ten others to reinforce the garrison
You have half an hour, he told them, to take
leave of your loved ones.
Then, ignoring the smirks on his brothers faces, he hurried
to his own flet to break the news to Cyllien.
Valandil knew that he would find Wilawen in the Healing Room.
Shortly after coming to live with him in Eryn Carantaur, the
woman had persuaded the Chief Healer, Master Dínendal,
to let her assist him by preparing medicines and by tending to
Today she was working in the dispensary, carefully crushing dried
herbs in a mortar. How long will you be gone? she
It will depend how long it takes us to move the bodies,
he replied. But I should be back tomorrow.
I think I can keep myself busy until then. She smiled.
Be careful, Valandil.
Is there something you are not telling me?
No, not exactly... It is just... Valandil sighed.
We will have to postpone our trip to Minas Tirith, Faer
Vara, he said, lifting her from her seat and taking her
in his arms, until Haldir can spare me. I am sorry.
That is just one of the many disadvantages of being
betrothed to a elven warrior, said Wilawen, grinning
against his chest.
The door opened behind them.
Wilawen, said Master Dínendal, then, oh,
I am sorry... He averted his eyes. Lord Legolas has
asked me to accompany the March Warden to Eryn LaegValandil
has no doubt told you whyand I need an assistant.
Dínendal looked uncomfortably at Valandil. She is
the most able, he said, given what we may have to
doespecially since the bodies are human.
Do you mind? asked Wilawen, lightly squeezing Valandils
Valandil smiled. Of course not, Faer Vara, he said.
I shall be there to protect you.
Haldirs flet lay under a cloud of misery. What am
I supposed to do while you are away? asked Cyllien,
The elf sighed. It is only one night, Tithen Dúlinn.
Two at the most. Perhaps you could spend some time with Eowyn...
I hate EowynMistress Perfect. Why can Legolas
not go instead of you?
Because this is my responsibility, said Haldir,
as March Warden. He took her in his arms. Just
look forward to the time we will have together when I return.
Cyllien said nothing.
I shall see you tomorrow. He tucked his fingers under
her chin, and lifted it. But, as he went to kiss her mouth, she
turned her head, and his lips brushed her cheek instead. Good
The elleth watched him hurry down the main staircase. You
will see me if I am still here, she said, quietly.
As usual, a small crowd had assembled to watch the Border Guards
Legolas, standing before his mounted troops, placed his hand
on his heart and bowed his head, No galu govad gen,
he said. I expect you back tomorrow.
Eowyn stepped forward. Take this, she said, reaching
up to hand Haldir a wax tablet. I have made some notes on
The March Warden smiled. I shall make sure I answer them,
my Lady. Then he added, softly, Can I ask you both
to take care of Cyllien for me?
Of course, said Legolas.
Thank you. Haldir bid his Lord and Lady a formal
farewell, then signalled to his troops to move off. Slowly, the
warriors filed out of the clearing, forming themselves into pairs
when they entered the narrow forest trail. As the Mirkwood elves
passed the main staircase, with Wilawen and Master Dínendal
riding between them, a shrill voice called out, in the Common
Tongue, Ori! Cami! Take care! Ill be waiting!
Legolas glanced upwards to see Arinna, the woman from Far Harad,
leaning over the rail, waving a white handkerchief at her two
He shook his head with a grin.
At midday, as was their custom, Legolas and Eowyn had lunch together.
On a large flet, just above their private chambers, the elf had
made his lady a pretty garden, with a table and chairs at the
centre, and pots of her favourite plantsbrightly coloured
daisies, small, sweet-scented cabbage roses, lavender, rosemary,
and lemon sagearranged all around. And, since the weather
was fine, Eowyn had had lunch laid out there, and had invited
Gimli and Hentmirë to join them.
Hello, gwendithen, said Legolas, greeting his adopted
aunt with a kiss on the forehead. Have you had a good morning?
He pulled out a chair for her.
No, said Hentmirë.
Smiling, Legolas took his place beside Eowyn. Why not?
I cannot hold the bow right, she said, despondently.
And my arrows go all over the place. She waved
her plump little hand to illustrate the point.
It just takes practice, gwendithen.
I am not very patient, she admitted.
Eowyn passed her a plate of roasted vegetables. Perhaps
the bow is not your weapon, she said. Perhaps you
should try the sword. I could show you.
I do not know, said Hentmirë. I was no
good with the axe... Gimli, sitting beside her, blanched
at the memory. I do not seem to be any good at anything.
You are good at everything, the dwarf said,
firmly; he offered her some roasted chicken. But perhaps
you should try something less martial. Let me see... What
about looking after the children? He glanced at Legolas.
Of course! said the elf. I should have thought
of that beforeyou already spend a lot of time with Lord
Lenwës youngest sons. Why not help Maglor teach the
other elflings? You can tell them all about Far Harad, gwendithenabout
Carhilivren and Kuri; about the desert and the oases. They will
Do you think so?
I am sure of it. And Maglor will be glad to have someone
share the responsibility with him. Come to me after your Elvish
lesson, and we will go and talk to him.