legolas and eowyn

Eowyn grasped Legolas’ hand and, as their eyes met, her heart lurched at the expression on his face.

Her mind was racing: Has Lassui grown to need the charm? Was I wrong to hide it? Or is this because of the medicine he sniffed in Heral’s chamber?

She felt his fingers, strong and sure, press hers, and some of her fear subsided.

Perhaps it is just the strain of the last few days…

She raised his hand to her lips, and kissed it. Then, leaning forward, across the table, she beckoned Lady Lessien.

Eryn Valen

Haldir brought his horse to a halt, and dismounted. Across the scorched remains of the village green, Berryn and another man—whom the elf vaguely recognised as one of the Beornings attached to King Thranduil’s household—came running towards him.

“Thank the gods you are here, March Warden,” cried the cartographer. “The tad-dail have been tracked to a disused fortification, about four miles to the north. Lord Gimli and Master Thorkell have them surrounded, but need reinforcements. We are to join them without delay.”

“There is a potion, my Lord,” whispered the Mistress of the Ceremony, “specially blended for this problem.”

“And you have it ready?” asked Legolas.

“It is a part of my duties.”

“Oh… I did not know.”

Eowyn gave his hand a supportive squeeze.

“It is swift to act, my Lord,” Lessien assured him, “and we can delay the Rite some moments, if necessary.”

“Well,” he sighed, “I cannot see that we have a choice. Please bring me the potion, hiril nín.” He received her curtsey with a bow of his head, and watched her return to her place at the table. “What if it does not work, melmenya? My father is not here to take over.”

“If it does not work, Lassui,” said Eowyn, decisively, “I will slip away, and fetch the figurine.”

“Oh, no…” He turned to face her. “You are so clever, and so sensible, my darling, but I do not want to taint the Harvest Rite with Heral’s foul magic.”

“Then, if the potion does not work,” said Eowyn, kissing his hand again, “we will simply find some other way to honour the gods.”

Gimli jogged back to the gatehouse.

Thorkell bogsveigir, standing guard over the captured tad-dail and the two sleeping women, stepped aside to admit him. “Anything?”

“No.” The dwarf sheathed his axe. “I have been right round the castle. There is no other way out that I can find, and the guards at the doors have seen and heard nothing, but…”

“Warriors’ instinct,” said Thorkell. “Yes. Something is happening—or is about to.” He climbed up to one of the broken loopholes, and looked out across the clearing. “But what? And where?”

Look!” hissed Gimli.

The man turned; the dwarf was pointing at the head man’s hound, which had suddenly lifted its head, ears pricked.

“It seems,” said the Beorning, “that our friend here agrees with us.”

The banquet was finished, and the entertainment over, and the guests had begun to murmur expectantly.

Eowyn turned to Legolas; the elf shook his head.

“Could it be,” she whispered, “that you are trying too hard?” She saw the despair in his eyes and apologised immediately; and, suddenly, she knew what she had to do. “We must trust in the Valar, my darling. Even if you cannot give them your seed tonight, we can still give them something very precious. Come with me, my love…”

She rose from the table, holding out her hands, and when the elf—after a moment’s hesitation—took them, she drew him up and led him out onto the Threshing Floor.

The musicians, seated on the balcony above the Hall’s main entrance, began playing a soft, repetitive melody; serving elves, stationed by the wall-sconces, started snuffing out the candles. The crowd fell silent, their eyes fixed upon the couple standing in the remaining pool of light.

“I love you, Lassui.” Eowyn reached up and, taking his face in her hands, drew him close, and kissed him.

Around the Hall, surprised gasps and soft mutterings protested that this was a departure from the ancient practice of the Rite. But Eowyn felt Legolas respond to her kiss and, as it deepened, her confidence grew. Gently, she withdrew from his arms, and stepped back, and—smiling at his surprise—she reached out, grasped the ends of his embroidered sash, and pulled. The elven knot unravelled, and the robe fell open. No longer concerned by his lack of arousal, Eowyn pushed the fabric from his shoulders, and let the garment fall.

She heard the sighs of admiration that greeted her bare-chested elf (his muscular arms lightly tensed, his powerful loins clearly visible through his thin silk leggings), and she smiled. But her own attention had been caught by a wayward strand of pale hair, disturbed when she had removed his robe, and she carefully brushed it over his shoulder, letting its silky length run through her fingers.

Then her fingertips grazed his skin, and she heard his breath catch.

Her hands dropped to his lacings, and she pulled them loose, and lowered the sheer fabric over his hips and down his thighs. He was still not quite aroused but Eowyn, knowing his body so well, saw signs for hope, and—sure of her own skills—she looked about her and, seeing exactly what she needed, ran to the table, seized a flask of olive oil, and brought it back to him.

“Lie down my darling.”

The guests shifted in their seats, leaning forward to see their Lady gently push their Lord to the ground and straddle him, her mithril skirts gathered up around her hips.

Eowyn withdrew the stopper, and poured a little of the oil, scented with lemon and thyme, into her palm, rubbed her hands together and, leaning down, slid them up Legolas’ arms and across his shoulders.

Gods, he was beautiful!

Slowly, her hands explored his muscle—the strong curves of his upper arms and the hard swell of his chest—then she leaned down, and kissed a patch of the finest, softest, most golden hair—

She felt him stir beneath her and, smiling, brought her hands down lower—massaging him in long, slow circles—lower, and lower, down to his stomach, pressing a little harder, lower and lower—

She felt him stir again, and shifted—still caressing his belly—and felt his hands push her skirts aside, and she came up on her knees, and reached down to guide him, and—yes, he was growing in her hand, rising up, hardening; yes, he was almost ready! And, suddenly, he grasped her hips, and pulled her down, and she was impaled upon him, and his size was almost unbearable, but she rode him, slowly at first, then faster, and wilder—taking him deeper as she leaned in to kiss him—and—

Oh, gods, she was tired!

But his hands were holding her, his strong arms were carrying her, and she raced on, and on, crying out with urgency, and need, and then with triumph, as she brought her elf to a sharp and sudden climax, and the world turned black as she followed him there.

She came to her senses lying upon her elf, surrounded by quiet applause, and the soft, joyful singing of the assembled company. Guests were rising from the table, and pairing up, and falling eagerly to coupling, their passions inflamed by the lovemaking they had just witnessed.

Tired but happy, Eowyn lifted her head, and smiled at Legolas.

“You did it, melmenya,” he whispered, hoarsely. “You performed the Rite, my darling, and,”—he gathered her close, and kissed her mouth with lingering tenderness—“you cured me, Eowyn nín.” He moved inside her, teasing the most delicious echoes of release from her core, and Eowyn’s body shivered with pleasure.

“Well?”

Gimli led the dog back into the gatehouse. “Sit—they are somewhere in that knot of trees, to the south.”

“So we are squeezed between them and the herd in the ruins—if, that is, any of the buggers are still inside the ruins.”

“If they have us trapped, why are they waiting?”

The Beorning shrugged. “It is what they did at Eryn Valen. Then they sent out one or two warriors with sling shots and burning missiles, and tried to smoke us out.”

Gimli stroked his beard. “What about throwing caution to the winds?”

Haldir held up his hand; his men froze.

From somewhere up ahead, the sounds of battle—the clash of steel, the thud of arrows, wails of pain, and the roar of dwarven battle cries—echoed faintly through the Forest.

“We are too late,” said a quiet voice.

“It is never too late to aid someone, Master Berryn.”

Haldir gave the signal, and his men surged forward, the Beorning messenger leading the charge with blasts of his hunting horn.

Dropping a tad-dal with his elven knives, Thorkell bogsveigir spun them back into line, and moved on.

Behind him, Gimli whirled past, felling creatures to right and left.

Thorkell sliced neatly through another throat, and turned to tackle a third tad-dal, coming at him from behind. It was dark in the Forest, and the Beorning suspected that the creatures could see better than men, but they were timid at heart, with no real taste for close combat.

He finished off another.

Some were fleeing and, once they had got a few yards behind them, there was nothing he could do to stop them. But his men were fighting well, and taking few casualties. If no more came it would soon be over and, when everything had stopped moving—he ducked, turned, and stabbed—they would pick up the bits, carry them out into the open, and gauge the damage—

Tat-ta-raaaaaa! Tat-ta-raaaaaa!

That’s a Beorning horn, thought Thorkell. Otkel harthfari, with reinforcements!

From the corner of his eye he saw more warriors joining the fight, and Gimli charging another of the creatures, and something—he was not sure what—made him turn, and look, and—

NO!” he bellowed. “NOT THAT ONE!”

The dwarf’s blow fell short.

Thorkell barged in, seized the tad-dal by its scrawny neck, and pushed it into a shaft of moonlight.

“By Aulë!”

Metal leaves, woven into the creature’s coarse, goaty hair, glinted in the pale light—the thing was wearing some sort of crown.

“We want this bastard alive.”

Morning

At daybreak, Legolas awoke to find that Waning had arrived early, in the form of a fine, soft drizzle.

He took Eowyn by the hand and led her outside and, together, they crossed the clearing—she in her pale mithril gown, he naked as the day he was born—and they climbed up the main staircase, pausing now and then to look out across the city, enjoying the cool, refreshing rain, and marvelling at the beauty of all they were building together.

They bathed, and had a light breakfast in the big, bay window of their sitting room. Then Legolas left for his brief daily meeting with Captain Golradir, and Eowyn retired to the study, to collate her notes.

“And now,” said Thorkell bogsveigir, looking up at the sky, “it pisses down.”

“Does it matter?” Haldir, leading the tad-dal king on a rope, approached the castle ruins.

“You have not been inside,” said the Beorning. “Believe me, more wet will not help.”

Cautiously, they entered the postern—Gimli and the dog, Thorkell, Haldir and the tad-dal, and eight hand-picked men, elves and dwarves, all heavily armed.

“Last night, they were here,” said Gimli. “Lying on that filthy straw.” He turned to Haldir. “Can you hear anything?”

“No. But the stone is thick. If they are deep inside…”

The dwarf put his ear to the inner wall. “Nothing.” He brought the dog back to the straw beds and let it snuffle about in the mess. Then he led it around the chamber, urging it to explore the various gaps in the walls.

Suddenly, its head came up, and it whined, as though asking for permission to follow the scent.

“Through there,” said the Beorning, “is where we found Myldreth.”

They climbed into the next chamber and, following the dog, crossed the filthy floor and passed through an open doorway. Three chambers later, the hound stopped at flight of muddy steps.

“Down there?” asked Gimli.

The animal whimpered.

“Wonderful,” said Thorkell. “Well, we will need some light.”

Hearing a tap upon the study door, Eowyn looked up from her notebook. “Come in.”

“Master Bawden to see you, my Lady,” said Galathil.

“Good—please send him in.” Eowyn greeted the craftsman-builder with a smile. “Good morning, Master Bawden. I have your hammer and chisel, here, safe…” She picked up the leather tool bag, adding, softly, “Do you have any news for me?”

“Thank you, my Lady. Yes, I know how to break the charm. But I had to swear—um—that I would share the secret with no one but Lord Legolas himself.”

“I do not understand.”

“The knowledge, as I explained before, my Lady, is traditionally passed down from father to son. It is not,”—he hesitated again —“it has never been told to a woman, my Lady.”

“I see.” A part of Eowyn was annoyed. But she was grateful, and had far too much respect for the craftsman-builder to consider trying to persuade him to break his word. “I will send him to you,” she said, crossing to the door. Then, turning back, she added, “Master Bawden, is it common for the men to use this magic to seduce women?”

“Oh no, my Lady. No. Its proper use is to encourage the friendly spirits to bestow good fortune upon a building and those who dwell in it. Every craftsman I spoke to was appalled that Heral had used it for his own—um—satisfaction.”

“Thank goodness. Well—please make yourself comfortable, Master Bawden. Legolas will not keep you long.”

Gimli and the dog went down the stairs first, followed by two men carrying improvised torches.

Haldir pushed the tad-dal king to the top step. “Go on…” The creature descended.

Thorkell bogsveigir gestured to the remaining warriors, and they climbed down, one at a time; the Beorning, carrying another torch, brought up the rear.

The narrow space reeked of piss and worse. Thorkell grasped the kerchief at his throat and pulled it up, over his nose and mouth.

Rain had given way to pale sunshine.

Eowyn was waiting in the garden; Legolas came running up the stairs.

“Do you know what to do, Lassui?”

Legolas smiled. “Yes. It is quite straightforward.”

“But is it safe?”

“Master Bawden assures me that it is, melmenya.” He took her in his arms, and kissed her, apologetically. “Poor Eowyn nín,” he said. “I cannot tell you what must be done, for I have given my word, but Master Bawden has agreed that you might help me—in fact, I think I will need your help.”

“This tunnel is well-used,” said Haldir, quietly, “but the air is not moving. I do not think that this is a way out. I think that they are still down here.”

“There,”—Eowyn held out her jewel box—“it is safely inside. But I am afraid we will need the wall repaired—I did not do it so well the second time. How do you feel, Lassui?”

“Fine.” The elf shrugged.

“Then what do we do next?”

“Next, we need a dish, and some sunlight.”

“Sunlight?” Eowyn frowned. “You mean, to melt it?”

Legolas gave her a little half-nod.

“Are you sure, Lassui? Once it has gone we cannot re-make it. You will have to live with—well—whatever you are left with.”

Chuckling, the elf wrapped his arm around her waist. “My wonderful, practical Shieldmaiden! Sunlight, my darling, is older and more potent than any human magic. Besides,” he added, very softly, “what happened in the Banqueting Hall, when I finally—you know… It was not because of the charm, and it was not because of Lady Lessien’s potion. It was because of you, melmenya—because of your smile, your touch, your fragrance… In the end, I did not need any help but yours.”

“Well,” said Eowyn, blushing happily. “I hope you are right.”

The tad-dal king let out a sudden screech, and sticks, and stones, and handfuls of filth suddenly rained down upon the warriors at the front of the column.

One of the men drew his sword, and rushed forwards.

“No,” shouted Gimli, holding back the excited dog, “no, no! It is the women! Just the women!”

But the warrior had already struck.

Too late, he realised his mistake and, for a long moment, simply stared at the woman’s lifeless body. Then he bent down, and scooped her screaming infant into his arms.

The others, meanwhile, had flowed past him and, shielding their faces with their hands, they backed the spitting, clawing captives against the walls, and gradually overwhelmed them.

Legolas and Eowyn climbed up to the ‘sea flet’—the tiny platform, high above the trees, that the elf had built (once upon a time) so that he might gaze upon the sea, far to the south west—for there the late autumn sun fell in its full strength, unhindered by leafy branches.

Legolas set a silver dish upon one of the benches; Eowyn placed her jewel box beside it. “I do not know if I dare do it.”

“Come here.” Legolas put his arm around her shoulders. “I know that all I will ever need is you, melmenya,” he murmured, kissing her temple. “Do you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you, Lassui.”

“Then do it, my darling. Do it now.” He released her, and—still a little reluctantly—she knelt down to the bench and, very carefully, took the wrapped figurine out of the box. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

“Very well, then.” She opened the cloth. The wax figure lay upon its back, its huge phallus rearing up in the sunlight.

“Oh,” said the elf. “Um…”

“Legolas?” She looked up at him, anxiously. “What is it?”

“It…” His own voice sounded strange. “It is just—very warm, melmenya.”

“I am going to pick it up.”

He nodded, gritting his teeth.

Carefully avoiding its erection, Eowyn grasped the figure by its legs, and lifted it into the silver dish. “There.”

Legolas sighed.

“Lassui?”

“It—it is just,”—he was breathing heavily now—“the sun is so hot, melmenya…” His groin was burning, his testicles were aflame.

And Eowyn was kneeling before him.

He reached for her—her name spilling from his lips—and drew her close. She pressed her cheek against him, and his penis responded, hard and eager!

Eowyn reached up, and opened his leggings, and wrapped her fingers around his shaft, and took the rest of him in her mouth—

“Ah!” Legolas cried out, in surprise and gratitude, for her mouth felt cool; and, hands tangled in her hair, he urged her on, “Yes… Oh, yes, yes! Oh! oh! Oh no! No! Wait! Wait! I want—I want—to come inside you—melmenya!”

He fell to his knees; and Eowyn—smiling up at him—lay back on the sun-drenched flet, and stretched out her arms.

And the last shred of his control burned up in the sun’s brightness, and he threw himself upon her, devouring her mouth, her neck, and her bosom, tearing away her skirts and exposing her pale, flawless flesh to his need; and she opened her legs for him, and—Oh sweet Eru!—he was between them, driving himself deep into her wetness, just in time.

“Ligulf, Kenard, Otkel harthfari,” barked Thorkell bogsveigir, seizing one of the trussed up women and shoving her at his men, “take them back to the gatehouse.”

He waited just long enough to make sure that everything was under control, then he followed Haldir, Gimli, and the rest, deeper underground.

“Shieldmaiden?”

“Mmm?”

“We cannot stay here forever.”

He raised himself up on his elbow, and smiled down at her, his expression both loving and mischievous.

“You,” she said, “are definitely cured.”

His smile broke into a grin; and he leapt to his feet, and held out his hands, and helped her up with effortless strength.

Eowyn yawned. “The figurine?”

He looked into the dish. “Completely melted.”

“Already?” She came up beside him. “I thought that it would take days. I was afraid that we would have to sit here with it, to fend off the birds, and the squirrels.”

“The sun’s magic is swift, melmenya.”

“Do you feel anything?” She trailed her fingertips over the formless wax.

“No.”

“We must do the same to Cyllien’s, Lassui. And to Haldir’s. As soon as we can.”

She smoothed her skirts over her hips, straightened and re-laced her bodice, and then ran her fingers through her tousled hair. “How do I look?”

Legolas smiled. “Beautiful. And reasonably respectable.”

“It will have to do. I shall bathe again as soon as we get home.”

They took one brief look at the sea, glittering in the distance, then they descended—Legolas carrying the bowl of wax—following the spiralling stairs, down through the deep red foliage, until they reached the main walkway.

“My Lord!” An elleth rushed forward to meet them.

“Lady Tóriel.” Legolas greeted her formally.

“I have been waiting here for you,” she said, hurriedly returning his greeting, “for Camthalion told me that he had seen you go aloft—and I must speak with you, my Lord, urgently. I have just heard the most vicious rumour!”

The elleth refused to speak to them on the main walkway, fearing that she might be overheard, so Legolas and Eowyn took her up to their own garden.

“Please sit down, Lady Tóriel,” said Legolas.

Flushed and breathless, she sat, pressing a hand to her bosom, as though in pain.

“Would you like a drink, Lady Tóriel?” asked Eowyn, gently. “Some brandy, perhaps?”

“No,” said the elleth. “It is just… A rumour is circulating, my Lord, that I have—dallied—with your father’s bodyguard, the man, Thorkell bogsveigir.”

Legolas glanced at Eowyn. “I see.”

“And it is not true! I am a daughter of Dúnedhil, my Lord. My parents raised me in the old ways, instilled in me the strictest standards. For me, an act of bodily union is marriage undissoluable, and I would never join myself with a mere mortal!” She realised, just a moment too late, what a terrible thing she had said, and turned to Eowyn.

“I understand your position, Lady Tóriel,” said the woman, quietly.

“My Lady,”—her voice faltered—“I thank you. But if this man is saying—”

“He is not,” said Eowyn. “Others must have seen you leave the banquet together, and leaped to that conclusion.”

“Then what am I to do? My reputation is ruined!”

“No, no,” said Legolas. “In my experience, Lady Tóriel, the best way to quash a rumour is to ignore it.”

“Do nothing?”

“We humans, Lady Tóriel,” said Eowyn, helpfully, “have a saying, ‘the Lady doth protest too much,’ meaning that the more a person denies something, the more others think it true.”

“But…” The elleth shook her head. “That is ridiculous! And most unfair.”

“My Lady,” said Eowyn, “there is something you can do—something that will help Lord Legolas and me to put things right, for it has a bearing upon the death of one of the craftsman-builders—you may have heard about him.”

The elleth shook her head.

“Well, that is not important now. But: we know that Thorkell bogsveigir left the Banqueting Hall with you that night. Did he accompany you all the way home?”

“He insisted.”

“And did you invite him inside?”

“I have already said not!”

“You have said that you were not—intimate—with him,” said Eowyn, carefully. “But that does not mean you did not spend time with him—offer him a drink, perhaps, or talk with him for a while.”

“I did not!”

“So he left you at your door?”

Yes.”

“Thank you, Lady Tóriel,” said Legolas. “You have been most helpful.” He exchanged a glance with Eowyn. “We will leave you now, but please do stay here for as long as you wish. I will have some refreshments brought up to you.” He bowed his head. “No i Melain na le, hiril nín. And remember—this rumour will soon vanish, like mist in the sun.”

Eowyn took his arm, and they turned to leave but, as they reached the staircase, the elleth suddenly called after them: “My Lord! Camthalion asked me to give you a message.”

They were shown into Cyllien’s bedchamber, where the elleth was waiting for them, sitting up in bed, looking pale and beautiful in one of Arinna’s frothy night gowns.

Eowyn took the bedside chair; Legolas stood behind her. “We came as soon as we received your message,” he said.

“Thank you.”

“What happened that night, Cyllien?”

The elleth frowned. “I remember your father taking me home,” she said, “and I remember his giving me the knife; I remember that it was early evening—it was still light when he left—and I remember, as I closed the door, how the sun glinted on his hair…”

Legolas cleared his throat.

“But I still do not remember how I came to be on the building site. The only thing I do know, is that when I woke up, it was dark, and Heral was heavy, holding me down. And his thighs—his thighs were forcing my legs apart—it hurt—and his—his thing…” She broke down, sobbing.

Eowyn leaned forward, and touched her hand. Cyllien flinched. Then, “I am sorry,” she whispered. “I am just not used to having friends.”

Eowyn gave her hand a brief, reassuring squeeze, then sat back in her chair.

“Cyllien, we have to ask,” said Legolas. “Did Heral rape you?”

“No.” She wiped the tears from her cheeks. “At least, not then. But maybe earlier—maybe when I can’t remember—I do not know.”

“Did you have any injuries,” asked Eowyn, gently, “down there?”

“I am not sure. I was already bruised, from earlier.”

“When we talked before,” said Legolas, “you said that, when you woke up, Heral was dead. But now you are saying that he was still alive.”

“Because I have remembered more.”

“Tell us everything you have remembered, Cyllien,” said Eowyn.

The elleth ran a hand through her hair. “He was holding me down,” she said, “and shouting—horrible things—saying that I—that I was a prick teaser, and that it was no wonder that Haldir couldn’t do me. Then—then one of the trees—I swear it—came to life, and grabbed him—I swear on Erkenbaud’s grave, Eowyn—it had hands, and eyes, and it grabbed him, and pulled him away.”

She reached over to the night stand and, hands shaking, picked up her pipe, though she made no attempt to light it. “Heral must have wrenched himself free, because he came at me again, and he got his hands round my throat. But I had pulled out Thoron’s knife…

And I stabbed him.”

There was a moment of deafening silence.

Then Eowyn said, “What did the green man do?”

“Green man?”

“I have seen him, too, Cyllien.”

“You mean the tree? I—I don’t know. I did not see it again. It disappeared.”

“Back into the foliage,” said Eowyn. “He never meant to be party to a killing.”

I did not mean to kill Heral,” cried Cyllien. “I just wanted to stop him, Eowyn. Just to stop him!”

“They are up ahead,” murmured Haldir, and the dog whimpered in agreement. “I cannot tell how many.”

Gimli drew his axe.

“No,” said Thorkell bogsveigir. “Give me the prisoner.”

“Why?”

“Because the trouble with elves—and dwarves,” said the Beorning, pulling out one of his knives, “is that neither of you can think dirty.” He grasped the bound (and now gagged) tad-dal king by its spangled hair and set his blade to its throat. “Just make sure that we are well-lit.”

And, forcing the creature forwards, one step at a time, he advanced towards the rest of the creatures, shouting, “Come on! Come out and give yourselves up! Surrender, or I’ll kill him!”

Arinna poured out a glass of apple brandy. “Here,” she said, handing it to Cyllien, “get this down you.”

The elleth took a large gulp, and coughed, covering her mouth with an elegant hand.

“Do you want me to send them away?”

“No…” Cyllien took another gulp of brandy. “I want it over with.”

Arinna patted her arm. “Shout if you need me.” She left the room, adding, to Legolas and Eowyn who were waiting just outside, “Go easy on her.” Legolas bowed his head, gravely.

Eowyn returned to her seat. “Are you feeling any better?”

The elleth nodded.

“Well enough to tell us what happened next?” asked Legolas.

“I cut his ears off,” said Cyllien.

Why?

“Because he was dead.”

Eowyn looked up at Legolas. “We do not understand,” he said. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that he bullied me,” said the elleth. “He bullied me, and bullied me, and made me think that he was so much better than me—so much bigger and stronger—and that I couldn’t fight back. And yet there he was, dead! Just like anyone else! He’d made me so afraid of him, and he was just—dead!”

“So you punished him for lying to you,” said Legolas. He sighed. “And my father saw you, and sent his bodyguard to clean up after you.”

“Thoron?” Cyllien frowned. “No, it was Thorkell. Thorkell told me to go to Thoron; Thorkell said he would help me.” She looked up at Legolas, suddenly very frightened. “What is going to happen to me?”

“Oh, Cyllien!” The elf drew up a chair, and sat down. “If you had not mutilated his body, there would be no question that you acted in self defence…” He looked at Eowyn. She seemed scarcely less frightened than Cyllien, and he reached out and touched her arm. “But, even so, you have convinced me.” He heard Eowyn’s sigh of relief. “When you are fully recovered, you will be asked to pay for taking a life by serving the colony. The length of your service, and the exact nature of the tasks you will perform, will be decided by the Inner Council.”

“Are you saying that I will be free?”

“You will not be imprisoned.”

“Oh,”—Cyllien burst into tears—“thank you, thank you,” she sobbed. “You will not regret it. I promise you.”

“So,” said Eowyn, as she and Legolas walked back to their chambers, “it seems that Thorkell was not acting on your father’s orders.”

“Oh, I suspect, melmenya, that Master Bowswayer had standing orders to protect Cyllien whenever the need arose. And, for all his cynicism, I know he takes his duties seriously, and is genuinely loyal to my father—and, Eru knows, he would wade through the fires of Mount Doom for you. The problem is that he is always so sure he knows best.”

“So he will not be punished for trying to destroy the evidence?”

Legolas wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I have heard of a certain fish, melmenya, that swims along the sea bed,”—he mimed its motion with his other hand—“eating the carrion that falls down from above. It is a poor sort of creature, but it does keep the waters clean.”

“You sound just like your father’s son!” Eowyn shook her head. “Thorkell would not be flattered by that comparison.”

“You think not? I think he would find it quite amusing.”

They had reached their chambers, and Eowyn glanced up the stairs to the garden. “Do you think that Lady Tóriel could still be hiding up there?”

Legolas laughed. “Perhaps you should go and find out, melmenya—and escort her home if need be. I want to speak to my father, and I think that things will go better if I do it alone.”

“Hmm,” said Eowyn. “I am not sure which is the harder task, Lassui, but—if you insist—I shall go and see if the daughter of Dúnedhil’s reputation can stand being seen in public with a mere woman. Do not be too long, my darling. We are dining in our own chambers tonight—alone.”

Legolas kissed her cheek. “Do you know, melmenya, I feel… Free. Yes, free! Better than I have felt in a long while.”

Thorkell bogsveigir shoved the tad-dal king into the gatehouse.

It had not taken long to round up the others, once they had surrendered, and the makeshift prison was filled with the creatures, bound and gagged with every piece of cord, leather, and stout fabric the warriors had managed to lay their hands on.

“Where are the women?”

“Over there,” said Berryn, pointing to a series of small shelters, built from branches and blankets, along the foot of the castle wall. “It is cleaner out here than inside. The healer and Myldreth are washing them, and some are showing signs of coming back to their senses—though, if poor Annis is anything to go by, when that happens, we are in for a lot of weeping and wailing.”

“Eighty-four heads, at the third count,” said Gimli, jogging up to them, “though we do not have all of them.”

“I do not think we need all of them when we have their king,” said Thorkell. “I wasn’t sure, down there, how the young bucks would react—whether they would be happy to see him die. But it seems they respect him.”

“And if Legolas can make peace with him,” agreed Haldir, “they may just keep it.”

“Legolas, or the Elvenking.”

“Well,” said Gimli, “I cannot see any sense in trying to drag them all the way back to Eryn Carantaur. I say we dig in here, and send a messenger to fetch Legolas and his father.”

“I will go,” said Haldir.

“I have been expecting you,” said Thranduil. “Was the Rite concluded successfully?” He crossed to the sideboard and poured out two large glasses of elderberry spirits.

“I noticed that you were not there, Ada,” said Legolas, taking a seat.

“No.” Thranduil handed him a drink. “It did not seem appropriate, with Cyllien indisposed.”

“She has confessed, Ada.” Legolas took a sip of spirits. Under the full force of his father’s scrutiny, he found himself hesitating. “The mutilation aside,” he said, at last, “I am convinced that she acted in self defence. So she will not be punished, though she will be asked to make amends by serving the colony—”

“That is as I expected. But you are working up to something else.”

Legolas set down his glass, rose from the couch and, turning his back on his father, walked over to the broad, curving window. Beneath him, the unfinished guest apartment lay empty. Only Master Bawden was at work, quietly polishing a carved window frame.

Legolas smiled. That is a good man. He understands what matters in life.

“You told me that you did not love her, Ada,” he said, “but we both know that you—”

Lied?

He turned to face his father. “Told me what I wanted to hear.”

“And are you going to warn me to stay away from her, Lassui?”

“No! Of course not! Because I want you to be happy, Ada.” Legolas smiled, sadly. “I just wish that you could have chosen someone less—damaged.”

“But these are damaged times, Lassui,” said Thranduil, gently. “And you and I have elected to stay here, in Middle-earth, to help make them better. I have asked you before: is Cyllien any less deserving of our care than the Forests of South Ithilien?”

Legolas said nothing.

“Lasdithen?”

“I do not always give you credit for such wisdom,” Legolas admitted.

“Do you trust me to do what is right?”

Legolas could not meet his father’s gaze.

“Of course not,” said the Elvenking, and he sounded more amused than angry. “That is a father’s lot in life. But, in this case, Lassui, I am asking you to trust me.” He joined his son at the window and, drawing him into his arms, gave him a fatherly hug. “Now go back to Eowyn, ion nín. I know what she did for you last night—yes, I know all about it. Go on. Go and show her how much you appreciate her.”

Less than half an hour into his journey, Haldir slowed his horse and, leaning over its neck, struggled to control his breathing.

An image of Eowyn, her lovely face frowning, had suddenly formed in his mind, and with it had come the most disturbing sensations—of her strong fingers curling around his penis, and her warm hand engulfing his testicles.

“Oh, Valar,” he moaned, clenching his fists, “please, no. No!” Somehow, he managed to deny himself the pleasure of release.

Then, just as abruptly as they had come, the feelings vanished, leaving behind not the discomfort he had expected, but an unnatural sense of well-being, as though he were now under Eowyn’s personal protection.

The elf waited for his heart to stop pounding. Then he urged his horse forward, and was soon galloping west again.

Eowyn hurried along the walkway.

She had escorted Lady Tóriel home, doggedly ignoring the elleth’s endless complaints; but soon as Tóriel had closed the door on her, she had been struck by a terrible thought, and had rushed to Heral’s chambers.

Who knows what charms that man might have created and then discarded, she thought, without properly lifting the magic? Somewhere amongst those lumps and flakes and rolls of wax must be the remains of the phallus he tore from his figure of Haldir. Who knows if it still has power?

Eowyn blushed.

She had not looked too closely at the fragments, simply gathered them up and wrapped them in her handkerchief. But when she and Legolas came to melt the other figurines, she would add the extra wax to the dish, and Haldir would be safe.

She turned onto the main walkway.

Up ahead, a long line of stretcher bearers was bringing casualties to the Healing Rooms. Eowyn broke into a run, crying, “Whatever has happened?”

“Hello, Eowyn!” Hentmirë—her singed hair standing on end, her face black with soot, her right arm strapped up across her chest—stepped out from behind Master Dínendal, and waved a plump hand, cheerily. “The village was attacked!”

Two days later

Having delivered his message, Haldir was immediately sent back to the tad-dail stronghold with orders—initially resisted by both Gimli and Thorkell bogsveigir—to release the creatures, and allow them to re-enter the ruins, where they were to be kept under a respectful house arrest.

The same afternoon, an army of functionaries, under Lord Fingolfin’s personal supervision, set out from Eryn Carantaur with tents and other necessaries, which they quickly assembled beside the tad-dail castle. By the time the Elvenking and his son arrived, in state, on the evening of the first day, the clearing had been thoroughly cleaned, and transformed into a silk-and-canvas city.

The following morning, the tad-dal king, his eldest son, and two of his followers, met with King Thranduil, Legolas, and Eowyn—who had insisted on accompanying her beloved, despite Legolas’ fears for her safety. “I know what they are, now, Lassui, and how they ensnare their victims,” she had said. “I shall not be tricked by them again.”

Surmounting the language difficulties with the help of Lord Fingolfin, and with Berryn’s maps to guide them, the parties had gradually come to an agreement: the defeated tad-dail would leave Eryn Valen, and re-settle in the forests to the south-east of the Doro Lanthron hills, where the River Poros, meandering down from the Mountains of Mordor, would provide them with a homeland very similar to the banks of the Heledir.

Only one problem remained—the tad-dal King insisted on keeping the women and babies. They were, he explained, using bleats and gestures, his wives and children.

In the end, it was Eowyn who suggested that the captives should be allowed to choose for themselves.

To everyone’s astonishment, of the eight women (now washed, and dressed in elven gowns), seven wanted to stay with the creatures. “Maybe, as you say, it isn’t ‘real’,” said one, when Eowyn asked her why, “and maybe they will throw me out when I’m old and wrinkled but, as long as it lasts, it’s the best I’m going to get. Because they aren’t half men, my Lady,”—she winked—“so they never miss, if you know what I mean. And there’s none of that rolling over and snoring afterwards—they either do you again, or one of the others does.”

Annis, however, had chosen to leave—though had been too afraid to go home until Gimli had gallantly volunteered to see her and her sister safely back, and to deal with any qualms her parents might have in taking her in.

“But I cannot help feeling,” said Legolas to his father, as they rode back to Eryn Carantaur, “that we have simply passed on the problem to others. We have sacrificed the women on the banks of the Poros to keep our own folk safe.”

“And that,” said Thranduil, “is what it means to be a ruler. You begin—as one always must—by aiming for the common good. But what choices did you have today? You could have drawn your knives and killed every last one of them, but the tad-dail, though the losers in this skirmish, have as much right to live as you do and must follow their natures. Should you, then, allow them stay in Eryn Carantaur, and to take your women whenever they desire? Clearly not. All you can do, Lassui, is find a compromise. And then everything becomes a matter of priorities: if you put the welfare of your own people first, ion nín, everything else will follow.”

“I still think,” said Legolas, “that there should have been a better way.”

“Well, when you find it, Lassui, be sure to tell me what it is.”

The next day

“In here, your Majesty,” said Arinna, showing King Thranduil into Cyllien’s bedchamber. “And,”—she curtsied—“if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to send your man to fetch me.”

The Elvenking placed his hand upon his heart and bowed his head. “Thank you, Mistress.” He waited until he was sure that the woman was out of earshot, dismissed Thorkell bogsveigir with a jerk of the head, then turned back to Cyllien. “I hear that you told my son the truth.”

“I did, Thoron.”

“Good.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and took up her hand, gently stroking it with his thumb. “I am glad.”

“Is this the end?” she asked.

“For now, melethril nín.” He lifted her hand to his lips. “Yes, we must part now. But, you know, there will be another time. We have until the End of Days, hiril nín.”

Later

“But why the market?” asked Eowyn.

“Do you not remember?”

“No…”

“Then it will be a surprise, melmenya.”

They turned a corner, and found themselves upon a busy flet, crammed with stalls selling foodstuffs from all over Middle-earth, some serving bowls of soup, and platters of bread and cheese with pickles, and tankards of hot punch.

A hoarde of children—led by a tiny dwarf—surged towards them.

“Do you remember now, melmenya? My promise to Master Fili?”

“Oh, yes!” Eowyn held out her hands, and several of the boys took hold of them. “Goodness,” she said, “there are so many of you!”

“Lord Legolas said I could bring all of my friends, my Lady,” said the little dwarf.

“Of course I did,” said Legolas, laughing. “Gwanur Eowyn, will you take Master Fili and all of his friends over to the tables, and get them seated, whilst I order some apple pie and—I think—some iced cordial to go with it?”

Eowyn thanked him with a radiant smile.

For a few moments, Legolas lingered, watching Eowyn, amidst gales of laughter, lift each child onto his chair. And, just as he was about to turn away, a slight movement caught his eye, and he looked more closely at the tree behind her, and smiled.

The green man was still watching over his beloved.

Legolas placed his hand upon his heart and, though the ancient creature had already merged back into the foliage, the elf bowed his head, in a greeting of respect and gratitude.

 

legolas & eowyn

 

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Legolas
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Contents page

contents

Previous chapter: The rescue
Legolas and Eowyn make some important discoveries; Thorkell and Gimli deal with the tad-dail.

chapter 9

Epilogue
Eowyn asks one final question.

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Elvish
No i Melain na le, hiril nín … May the Valar be with you, my Lady
Gwanur … Kinswoman (‘Aunt’)