Please, Tithen Dúlinn,Haldir
looked up from the bow he was carefully re-stringingdo
not smoke in here.
Cyllien, who had just emerged from their bedchamber looking pale
and sickly, threw up her hands in anger. Am I smoking?
she demanded. Am I?
No. Haldir smiled sympathetically. But I know
you, he thought. I know what you need when you look like
that. Still, he laid down the bow, and held out his arms to
her. Come here, he said, gently.
Cyllien hesitated, clearly surprised by his sudden show of affection.
I just want to hold you. You look so
What? The elleth ran a hand through her dishevelled
hair. What do I look?
Broken, thought Haldir. Fragile, he said.
He held out his arms againand, this time, Cyllien came to
him, kneeling before him, and snuggling against his chest. Haldir
stroked her damp, matted hair. You need a change, Tithen
Dúlinn, he said, gently. We both do. I have
been thinking that I might ask Legolas for a leave of absence.
And then what? Her voice sounded small, but hopeful.
I would take you somewhere, said Haldir, wherever
you wanted to go. Just the two of us.
For a momenta mere heartbeathe saw her face light
up. Then the glow vanished. Its not that you want to be
with me, she said, pulling away from him, angrily.
You just want to miss the Harvest Rite. You just dont want
to see him fucking her!
A profound weariness came over
him. He let her go.
Why didnt you stay with her? she cried,
stamping her foot. With that other Eowyn?
She did not want me, replied Haldir, simply. He sighed.
He could see that she was choking on the insults she wanted to
yell at him, but she bottled them up and, pulling her sleeping
robe closed, she staggered over to the dresser and began throwing
things here and there, searching for her pipe. Cyllien,
I am going outside! she shouted.
Haldir picked up his bow.
Eowyns hands gripped the bed head, and her hips rose to
meet his thrustsah, ah, oh, oh, Legolas, Leg-,
Leg-, Le-, aaaah!and a million stars burst inside
her head, sending shards of fire into every extremity
But it was not over yet, for her elf had yet to come, and he
thrust, and thrust, and thrust again (his lovely face, hovering
above her, frowning with need). And she felt the promise of another
climax, somewhere deep inside her, felt his penisHis
beautiful, wonderful, ohOh yes! YES!and
he touched that secret part of her and, instantly, her vital spirits
rushed down to him, and her body devoured himgrasping and
holding, grasping and holding
Oh, he sobbed, oh, Valar, melmenya.
He collapsed into her arms, and she felt his lips move against
her cheek, and knew that he was smiling.
My elf, she sighed, hugging him, my own elf.
Do you think
No, Eowyn nín, he replied, tiredly.
I know that it will be you. When the moment comes,
when the Mistress of the Ceremony asks me to choose, I shall choose
you. There is no other possibility.
Good. But that is not what I was going to say. She
stroked his hair. I was just wondering how we will bear
the next three days. (Since the Harvest Rite required the
Celebrant to observe a period of celibacy before the Ceremony,
Eowyn was planning to stay with Hentmirë for three nights).
I will miss you so much.
Legolas raised his head. You could stay here with
me, melmenya, he said, as long as we did not make
Legolas! Smiling, she reached up and stroked his
face. We both know that that would not work, my darling.
The elf kissed her hand.
I must pack a bag, she said. I will need my
nightdress and my dressing robe, my new gown and slippers
Surely, you can come back here to change your clothes,
No, said Eowyn firmly. We must do this properly,
The elf sighed. As you command, my Harvest Queen.
He kissed her mouth, gently. We will do it properly.
Haldir knocked on the bedchamber door. I am about to leave
for the Council Meeting, he said.
There was no answer.
The door opened. I heard you.
The transformation was breathtakingshe had brushed her
hair until it shone, and caught it back in a jewelled headband,
she had applied rouge to her lips, and subtly painted her dark
eyes, and she had put on a close-fitting gown of midnight blue
silk. She looks, thought Haldir, who had almost forgotten
how beautiful she was, absolutely entrancing. You
have remembered, then, he said, that King Thranduil
is due to arrive this afternoon.
I will be there.
Good. He kissed her forehead. You may even
enjoy it, Tithen Dúlinn.
She nodded, stiffly, before closing the door on him.
With a sigh, Haldir picked up his ledger andtaking a final
glance around the chamber to make sure that Cyllien had not left
her pipe, or the splint she used to light it, smouldering somewhere
amidst the chaoshe made his way to the door and opened it.
A square of parchment was lying on the threshold. Haldir picked
it up, unfolded it, and read the words scrawled upon it:
Calmly, he re-folded the letter, and put it in his pocket.
Good morning everyone, said Legolas, calling the
meeting of the Inner Council to orderEowyn and Gimli, Lords
Fingolfin, Caranthir, and Lenwë, March Warden Haldir, and
Captain Golradir of the Palace Guard, all turned to face him,
Before we finalise the arrangements for my fathers
visit, he said, I have pleasant task to perform. At
our last meeting we decided that, since the colony now has more
than a hundred human citizens, we would invite them to elect a
spokesman to sit on the Council. I am very pleased to be asking
Master Bawden,he gestured towards a man waiting at
the chamber doorto take his seat.
Amidst the quiet applause of his fellow Council members, Master
Bawdena small, vigorous man in his late fiftiessat
down in the empty place between Haldir and Golradir. Thank
you, my Lord, my Lady, sirs, said the man, diffidently.
I shall do my best to serve the colony well.
Welcome Master Bawden, said Legolas. Now, to
less pleasant business.
Two hours later
Legolas stood before the double doors of the new guest apartments,
examining their intricate decorationcarvings of sleek, galloping
horses interwoven with curving branches and curling leavesin
the style of Rohan. Magnificent, he said. My
compliments, Master Bawden.
Thank you, my Lord, said the man, shyly.
Allow us to show you the interior, my Lord, my Lady,
said Master Amdír, the chief craftsman-builder, lifting
the ornate door latch and pushing the doors open.
Legolas and Eowyn stepped inside. The entrance hall was light
and airy, panelled in pale, carved wood, its wide, frosted windows
hung with gauzy drapes.
It is lovely, said Eowyn.
Beautiful, agreed Legolas, smiling, my father
will be very comfortable here.
This is the main bedchamber, my Lord, said Amdír,
opening a door leading off the hallway.
Like two inquisitive children, Legolas and Eowyn peeped inside.
The bedchamber was darker than the hall, panelled in deep red
rosewood, and hung with crimson velvet. Since your father
is used to dwelling in a cavern, my Lord, explained the
craftsman-builder, we thought that he would find these colours
Beside the canopied bed, an open door led to what appeared to
be an indoor garden, filled with fresh greenery. It is also
the bathing room, my Lord, said Amdír.
I see that you have made a study of my fathers palace.
We have, my Lord. Master Bawden bowed.
Well, melmenya, I think that you and I should move in here
ourselves, said Legolas, and put my father in our
This chamber, my Lord, said Amdír,
drawing them back into the hallway and opening a second door,
is for your fathers personal bodyguard.
His bodyguard? Legolas frowned, looking from
the elf to the man and back again. Whatever made you think
that my father had a bodyguard?
His Majesty requested the accommodation himself, my Lord,
said Bawden, colouring slightly. He was very specific.
He opened his document case and began searching through a number
of plans. His letter is here, somewhere, my Lord
That is not necessary, Master Bawden, said Legolas,
laying a friendly hand on the flustered mans arm. I
am just surprised
Well, whoever this bodyguard is, said Eowyn, looking
around the chamber, which was decorated in a deep pine-green,
I am sure that he will be happy in here. Shall we see the
The sitting room was a large, curved chamber, with separate spaces
for dining, studying, and sitting cosily by the fireand
the broad windows of each area combined to provide a magnificent,
panoramic view of the aerial city.
We used plain glass in here, my Lord, explained Bawden,
because we thoughtwell, I thoughtthat
your guests would want to look out. You see, they can draw these
curtains for privacy. He took hold of one of the velvet
drapes. At the moment, unfortunately, the window overlooks
the building site, but were stopping work for the duration
of the Ceremony, and weve tidied everything up, so it doesnt
Something in the site below had caught his eye.
He sighed. Excuse me, my Lord, my Lady, Master Amdír.
He rushed from the chamber.
Stop it! Stop it now! cried Bawden, running
out onto the wooden platform.
The two men ignored himthe big blond, holding his opponent
by the collar of his jerkin, continued pounding his fist into
the others head, the smaller one, struggling to wriggle
free, kept slapping helplessly at the big mans chest.
For the gods sakes! Bawden forced his
way between them and pushed them apart. Lord Legolas and
Lady Eowyn are up there in the top chamberslooking down
on youand the gods only know what theyre thinkingI
wouldnt be surprised if they threw both of you out on your
ears. He gave the big blond a hard shove. And good
The blond snarled.
Do you want the elves thinking were all pond scum?
cried Bawden. Do you want them to treat all of us like some
of us deserve? Do you? He turned to the smaller man. Do
No. So get off home with younot you, Heral: you finish
your job. He pointed to a pile of rough-sawn planks. Get
With a loud sigh, Heral the carpenter swaggered forward, accidentally
barging into Lyell as he passed.
Hey! cried the smaller man, rubbing his shoulder.
He turned to Bawden. I swear, one day, Ill k-kill
Youll have to wait your turn, replied Bawden,
making his way back up to the guest apartments. Theres
half the colony ahead of you.
Who is that?
Master Amdír looked down into the building site. Eowyn
pointed to the man carrying the planks.
His name is Heral, he said. He is a good workman,
when he applies himselffearless, out on the timber frames,
and as sure footed as any elf, but
The man seemed to sense that someone was talking about him andwhether
he could see them or nothe suddenly looked up, leering impudently.
Eowyn looked away.
I hope you will not think it unfair of me, my Lady,
continued Amdír, if I say that he is a troublemaker
Amdír went on to provide a long list Herals shortcomings
but Eowyn did not hear them. Her attention was focussed on the
familiar figure of the March Warden who, all but concealed amidst
the carantaur foliage, seemed to be watching Heral the carpenters
Eowyn frowned. Strange.
Two oclock, precisely
In the clearing beneath the citys main staircase, an excited
crowd had gathered to welcome Eryn Carantaurs distinguished
A low platform had been built at the bottom of the stairs and,
beneath its canopy of green silk (embroidered with vivid red carantaur
leaves), a small group of dignitaries waited patiently whilst
the rest of the colonists milled about, chattering excitedly and
enjoying the refreshmentsripe blackberries, rosy red apples
and glasses of chilled fruit cordialbeing served from the
You mean that he is waiting down the road? whispered
Legolas nodded. My father likes to make an entrance, melmenya.
He will appear at the proper time. He smiled at her, standing
beside him, tall and slender in her elegant ice-green gown. You
look like a spring flower.
She rewarded him with a radiant smile.
Suddenly, the trumpets sounded, and two elven warriors rode into
view, mounted on milk-white steeds and carrying pennants bearing
the arms of the Woodland Realm.
The crowd fell silent.
Behind them came Thranduil himself, handsomeseveral ladies
in the crowd were heard to gaspelegantly dressed in silver
brocade, and wearing a simple coronet of green and white gems.
Beside the King, his chiselled features a picture of arrogance,
rode Thorkell bogsveigir, whispered Eowyn.
As the remainder of the royal party filed into the clearing,
the two Mirkwood guards turned and took up their positions flanking
the dais, whilst Thranduil brought his horse to a halt. Immediately,
Haldir stepped forward and, bowing briefly, placed a stool beneath
the Kings feet. With great dignity, Thranduil dismounted
and climbed the steps to where Legolas and Eowyn were waiting.
Thorkell bogsveigir dropped lightly from his horse, and followed.
Welcome, your Majesty, said Legolas. Then, completely
forgetting royal protocol, he threw his arms around his father
and hugged him tightlybeckoning Eowyn to join them.
A scattering of sighs and quiet hand-claps went up from the crowd.
At last, Legolas released his father and began the introductions.
May I present Lady Hentmirë, Ada? he said.
The little woman, looking anxious but surprisingly regal in a
magnificent jewelled gown she had brought from Far Harad, stepped
forward and curtsied. Buion len, Thranduil Oropherion,
she said, pronouncing the words flawlessly. Êl síla
or lû o govaded vín. (Her tutor, Lord Fingolfin,
breathed a sigh of relief).
Mae govannen, Lady Hentmirë, said Thranduil.
My son has told me all about you. I trust we shall be friends.
This, Ada, said Legolas, is Mistress Wilawen.
Wilawen, almost beautiful in an elven gown made especially by
Eowyns seamstress, curtsied. Buion len, hîr
Enchanted, said Thranduil, kissing her hand. My
son and I are in your debt, Mistress.
And this, said Legolas, is Master Arador.
Arador, well-scrubbed, and with his long dark hair tamed by an
elven braid, bowed solemnly. Buion len, hîr nín,
Ah, said Thranduil, the young fire-starter.
I hear that your father has given us permission to keep you for
a year, Master Arador. He leaned closer. I look forward
to learning more of your secrets, young man.
Now, father, said Legolas, if you are ready,he
gestured towards the staircaseI will show you and
your,he smiled at Thorkell bogsveigiryour
bodyguard, to your quarters.
Thank you, Lassui. Thranduil held out his arm to
EowynIell nín?and, with his future
daughter-in-law in tow, he swept past Gimli, Lord Fingolfin, Lord
Caranthir and Lord Lenwë, giving each a curt nodthen
came to an abrupt stop. And who is this?
This is Mistress Cyllien, said Eowyn.
The pair looked into each others eyes. Thranduil bowed.
Cyllien curtsied. Nen vaer a lalaith veren nanarad agevedim,
said the Elvenking, softly.
He makes the others look like elflings, said Cyllien,
watching Thranduil climb the stairs.
Haldir looked from her, to the King, and back again, but said
You are looking well, Lassui, said Thranduil, standing
in the window of his sitting room, gazing out across the colony,
despite your recent adventuresshe is good for you,
Of course she is, Ada. I only wish that you
And the colony is thriving. The Elvenking leaned
forward to watch a group of young childrenhuman and elven,
and one tiny dwarfplaying knuckle bones together. The
races live in harmony.
I hope so, Ada. Legolas walked over to the sitting
area. There was a sideboard next to the fireplace, with a decanter
of red wine and four tall glasses upon it. Come, he
said, drink a toast with me.
It is a human custom I learned from Eomer King, Ada. This
is a good vintage, he added, withdrawing the crystal stopper,
our first. He poured out two glasses of wine, and
handed one to his father. Just raise it, like thisyes.
Now: to you, father, for permitting me to bring our folk hither,
and to Eryn Carantaur, may it always be blessed. He touched
his glass to Thranduils.
Now, we drink.
A very pleasant custom, said the Elvenking, with
a twinkle in his eye.
The woman with hair like midday sun does not know that I watch
I watch her when she rides her horse, chasing the wind; I
watch her when she practises her war dance with her long, sharp
blade; I watch her when she patiently draws her picture of the
Great Red Forest.
I have watched her fight, as fierce as a warg.
I have watched her cry as though the Forest itself had died.
But today she is smilingat the tall, dark man who arrived
with the Elvenking.
Good afternoon, my Lady. Thorkell bogsveigir bowed
politely. Prince Legolas has asked me to help you move your
Lady? Prince? I see that King Thranduil has taught
you some manners, at last, she said, grinning, for the Beorning
was not always so polite. She pointed to the clothes chest that
she had been about to drag across the walkway to Hentmirës
The man lifted it without protest. His Majesty has taught
me,he seemed to be considering his wordsmany
I am sure he has. Eowyn pushed Hentmirës
door open. Just in herethank you. I suspect that you
and he were made for each other.
Thorkell set the chest down. What do you mean, made
for each other? He eyed her, suspiciously.
I mean, said Eowyn, that you are clever,
and loyal (when you want to be), andyesyou can be
ruthless, too. You are just what an Elvenking needs to do his
bidding. And he must think highly of you, she added, to
have made you his personal bodyguard.
That is just one of his jokes, said Thorkell bogsveigir,
but he suddenly seemed uncomfortable. Will that be all,
It will. Thank you. Impulsively, Eowyn stretched
out her hands. It is good to see you again, blood brother.
Thorkell bogsveigir seized them, smiling. And it is good
to see you, too, blood sister, he said. Very
good to see you.
Well? asked Thranduil.
Thorkell bogsveigir leaned back against the door, folding his
arms across his chest. She is not exactly popular with my
Lady, he said, but I did manage to learn a few things.
Her name is Cyllien.
I know that. Thranduil crossed to the sideboard and
poured himself a glass of wine. Thorkell bogsveigir cleared his
throat but the Elvenking ignored him. Go on.
She lives with the March WardenHaldirhe found
her in Far Harad, singing in a tavern, and brought her home with
him. Rumour has it that she
Now, how shall I put this,the
Elvenking had returned to the window, so the Beorning took the
opportunity to pour himself a drinkrumour has it that
their relationship is not all that it should be. Rumour has it
that she sometimes seeks consolation elsewhere
Eowyn did not tell you that!
No. Thorkell knocked back his wine. Not badno,
I just happened to hear one of the workmen boasting.
Thranduil nodded, thoughtfully. I am going for a walk,
he announced. Make sure that you are here when I return.
The Elvenking took off his coronet and laid it carefully in its
velvet-lined box, unhooked the fastenings of his heavy robe and
shrugged it off, put on a simple suede jerkin and a mantle of
dark green, raising the hood to cover his golden hairthen
he set out to explore the city, just an ordinary wood elf, newly
arrived from one of the rural settlements.
Ten gold, said the trader.
Ten? Cyllien frowned.
Bad weather, love, the man explained. Bad arvest.
The elleth counted out the money. Will you be here again
Gods willing. He weighed out the pipe weed and carefully
tipped it onto a piece of canvas, which he rolled up, tying off
the ends with string. Ang it from the ceiling, somewhere
dry, he advised. Or better still, keep it in a wooden
I shall. Cyllien concealed the precious purchase
under her mantle. Thank you. Until next month, then.
She hurried back across the market-flet, and she was so intent
upon avoiding the crowd before her that she did not notice the
man behind heruntil he grabbed her by the wrist.
The light was fading and the air, though still quite warm, was
fresh, whispering promises of winter.
Lassui has done well, thought Thranduil, strolling down
the main walkway, admiring the deep red foliage of the mighty
carantaurs, and the elegant lines of the buildings nestling amongst
their branches. Though it is, perhaps, a little too much like
Rivendell in places
He passed his sons own chambers and his sharp eyes, glancingentirely
by accidentthrough a frosted window, caught a brief glimpse
of two shadows sharing a tender embrace.
Smiling, Thranduil walked on, past the Council Chamber and the
residences of its elven members, past the headquarters of the
Palace Guard, past the Library and the school for elflings, past
the clusters of small apartments with their little balconies and
their garden flets, past the broad market-flet, where a lively
crowd of elves, humans, and a handful of dwarves, were buying
and selling wares from all over Middle-earth
Wait! Is that her?
What are you doing? hissed Cyllien, looking
up into Herals hard, blue eyes. Let me go!
The carpenter smiledand Cyllien wondered how she could
ever have allowed him to do the things he had done to her. She
glanced around. Several people had noticed that something was
going onone, a stranger dressed in dark green, looked as
though he might be about to come to her aid. You cannot
do anything to me here, she said, as bravely as she could,
so let me go.
In reply, Heral tightened the grip on her wrist until her body
sagged beneath the pain. Then, grasping her at the waist, he propelled
her onto one of the walkways, taking her under an arch, and through
a gate, and into a secluded garden.
I will scream, warned Cyllien.
He pushed her against the flet wall. Try itand I'll
stop you, one way or another.
She felt his hand reach down between them, and she knew that
he was opening his breeches. Andas she struggled to break
freea chilling thought struck her for the first time: You
killed that cat, she cried. You took its life,
just to scare me. You have no conscience,she heard
her skirt tear and felt his big phallus jab between her thighsno,
she cried, fighting desperately now, stop it!
You want ityou know you do.
Step away from her, said a calm voice.
Fuck off! cried Heral.
Move away from her, the voice insisted, or
I will make you move.
Cyllien felt Herals grip relaxthen, suddenly, she
was free because he was flying at the stranger, knife in hand.
Look out! she cried.
But, with perfect timing, the hooded elf stepped aside, and the
mans charge ended abruptly as he stumbled into the flet
Now, you have a simple choice, said the stranger,
grasping the carpenter by the scruff of the neck and forcing his
head down over the rail, either leave this lady alone, or
suffer the consequences.
Who the fuck do you think you are? roared
the man, struggling wildly.
I am someone, said the strange elf, pushing his head
even lower, who can make your life a misery. He gave
Heral a final warning shove before hauling him to his feet. Now
go back to the hole you crawled from, he commanded, and,
for Vardas sake,he nodded at the man's groinmake
Heral wrenched himself freeclearly intending to attack
againbut the stranger, stepping back, calmly drew a long,
white knife. I will use it, he warned.
A look of utter contempt crossed the carpenters face. Elf
turd, he spat, youll regret this! And,
with a dismissive gesture, he stamped towards the gate, pulling
his breeches closed. Youve not seen the last of me!
Either of you!
Now, Mistress Cyllien, said King Thranduil, lowering
his hood, will you permit me to escort you home?
The Banqueting Hall sparkled with candlelight.
Eowyn, seated beside Legolas, sitting to the right of his father,
glanced round the large, ring-shaped table, smiling. Their guests
were clearly enjoying themselvesthey had eaten well and
now, over apple brandy, nuts and sweetmeats, they were talking
with old friends and making new acquaintances: Thorkell bogsveigir,
she noticed, was getting to know a particularly lovely elleth
Lassui, she asked, frowning, where is Haldir?
The March Warden? Legolas quickly scanned the Hall.
I do not know, melmenya.
Cyllien is not here either.
Perhaps, said Legolas, quietly, they are having
Eowyn shook her head. They are always having disagreements,
Lassui, but it has never stopped Haldir doing his duty before.
Then let us hope, said Legolas, taking her hand,
that they are making up. He smiled, and then his expression
changed to something so full of love and happiness, it made her
heart glow. Have I told you how beautiful you look, melmenya?
Eowyn smiled. Five times, at least.
He raised her hand to his lips and kissed
her fingers. I shall miss you tonight, Eowyn nín.
The woman with hair like midday
sun is safely asleep. It is time for me to return to the Forest.
I begin to climb, but a furtive movement catches my eye, and
I stop to watch.
Eowyn awoke with a start and sat bolt uprightsomeone was
tapping on her bedchamber window.
She peered through the frosted glass.
Then, smiling, she opened the window. You should not be
I just wanted to say goodnight.
He smiled, ruefully. I miss you, melmenya.
I know. But it is only three nights, my darling,she
thought for a momentwhy not go up onto the sea-flet?
You can see so many stars up there.
They would not be the same without you beside me.
Oh, Lassui! She leaned through the window and hugged
him tightly. I know: why not take your bow down to the practice
fieldperhaps you can persuade Haldir to join you.
Legolas kissed her temple. Yes, he said, slowly,
yes, that is a good idea, melmenya. Thank you. Reluctantly
he pulled away from her. Goodnight, then.
She watched him cross the walkwayshoulders hunched, head
bowed, a picture of dejectionand disappear into their chambers.
She closed the window.
Suddenly, through the blurry glass, she caught a glimpse of someone
elsesomeone tall and leancreeping quietly past, heading
in the direction of the new guest chambers.
Quickly, she re-opened the window and peered out.
But whoever it was had vanished.