“That is not,” said Eowyn, “what you told me yesterday.”

“I lied to you yesterday,” said Haldir.

Eowyn sighed. “Sit down. We need to talk—”

“About what?” The haughty mask had fallen; the elf’s anxiety was obvious, written upon his face and signalled by the redundant movements of his hands. “I have confessed. Please. Eowyn—”

“Sit DOWN.” She made it an order, knowing instinctively that Haldir, the soldier, would obey.

He sat.

“Thank you.” Eowyn took the seat opposite and studied him through narrowed eyes, trying to remember exactly how much she and Legolas had already revealed to him about the murder. “How did it happen?” she asked.

The elf shrugged. “I showed you what the note said. He—Heral—was fucking Cyllien. So I killed him.”

“But tell me how it happened,” Eowyn persisted. “In detail. Were you alone with him?”


“And how did you arrange that?”

She saw him shift on his seat slightly, and draw the smallest of sharp breaths, before replying, “I waited beside his flet until he came out, and then I followed him to the building works.”

“Go on.”

“I confronted him, and he laughed at me. He said—he called me names.”

Eowyn remembered what Bawden had told her and Legolas the day before: He said that her husband couldn’t make her happy. “Go on.”

“I lost my temper,” said Haldir, “and stabbed him.”


“In the chest.”

“And then?”

“I… I ran away.”

“Where is the knife?”

“I threw it into the waters of the Gynd Vyrn.”

Superficially his story fitted the facts. And Eowyn herself had seen him following Heral earlier in the day. But he has said nothing about the ears, she thought. “So,” she said, “you stabbed him in the chest. Tell me exactly what happened next.”

“I ran away.”

“With the knife?”

“I told you. Yes.”

“And you cut him only once?”

“I…” He spread his hands in badly-acted confusion. “I think so.”

Gods damn you, Haldir!

“Very well,” said Eowyn, angrily, rising from her chair. “Despite the fact that you should be helping Gimli in Eryn Valen, I am placing you under house arrest. Galathil will escort you home; Captain Golradir will send warriors to guard you. But Legolas will want to talk to you soon.”

And she swept out of the study.

Half an hour later

Legolas opened his eyes, saw her sitting beside him, and stretched out his arms. Eowyn did not hesitate.

“I love you melmenya,” he whispered, gathering her close. “You are my heart.”

“Oh, Lassui.” They snuggled together, he beneath the covers, she above—

“Melmenya,” he cried, suddenly, “I broke our celibacy!”

“No.” She lifted her head. “No, Lassui. We did not make love.”

“But I came. In your mouth!”

“Because the figurine is a charm,” said Eowyn, hugging him fiercely, “and because I made it work on you.” She explained what she had deduced about the coil of Heral’s hair. “And I am so sorry, my darling, but—”

“What about you melmenya? Are you all right?”

“Yes, I am fine.” She laid her head back on his chest. “I did have a few moments of madness earlier, but it is amazing what a little responsibility can do. So much has happened since you fell asleep, Lassui. I hardly know where to begin. First, I had to deal with the figurine—it is safe, for now, in my jewel box—then Haldir came back from Eryn Valen, and…” She told him about the March Warden’s confession.

“But he is lying,” said Legolas.

“Yes, of course. Even if I did not know him so well, I would be suspicious. His story is weak; it does not fit the facts. If he had followed Heral from his flet, as he claims, and if Heral hid the figurine that night—which he must have done, because that was when the plank went missing—Haldir would hardly have waited until the man had finished before approaching him, would he?—oh, I have worked out why Heral hid the figurine, by the way.”

“Why melmenya?”

“To control it. I went into the study intending to destroy it, Lassui, but then I realised I had no idea what that would do to you. And I understood why Heral had walled it up: like me, he needed to control it but was afraid to harm it.”

“Do you think a man like Heral would want to control it, Eowyn nín?”

Eowyn frowned, remembering how Legolas had dowsed himself with water. “I thought it was painful?”

“Not painful, melmenya. Excruciating—like having your penis in a red hot vise.” He leaned back against the pillows. “It is agony—unbearable—but only whilst you try to resist. The moment you give in… The moment I touched myself, the moment I was in your mouth,”—he sighed—“then it was like returning to the stars.”

Eowyn found his hand and squeezed it. “And how do you feel now, Lassui?”

“Normal.” He gathered her close. “But, believe me, melmenya, a better elf than I—a better man than Heral—would want to feel that pleasure again. I do not think that Heral would have tried to control it. I think he would have used it often, taking women by force whenever he wanted them.”

“But, had he actually raped anyone,” said Eowyn, “we would surely have heard of it from Golradir.”

“We know he attacked Cyllien.”

“Perhaps she was the first… And your father stopped him before he got what he wanted.”

“No wonder he was cursing,” said Legolas. “I almost feel sorry for him.”

“Lassui,” said Eowyn, “I think I know how to stop the charm affecting you.”


“Put Heral’s hair back. I could not do it earlier because, when I looked at the figurine, I could not control myself. But we could ask someone else to do it—someone who would not be affected by the charm. I thought of asking Hentmirë—”

“Oh, no!” Legolas was genuinely shocked. “No, absolutely not, melmenya! Hentmirë knows nothing about sex! It would be like asking a child to do it!”

“But that is why,”—Eowyn bit her lip—“no, you are right, Lassui. Then what about Lord Fingolfin?”

“Fingolfin? Melmenya, suppose the charm proved too strong?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean: suppose Lord Fingolfin and I found ourselves in bed together?”

“Legolas! That is not funny!”

“It is not meant to be funny, Eowyn. I have felt the power of this thing. I know just how strong it is.”

“Then what are we going to do?”

Legolas pressed his lips to her temple. “For now, nothing—no, melmenya, listen to me—we cannot risk doing anything that might leave me impotent—shhhh, shhhh,”—he kissed away her protests—“we will keep it safe, but hidden away, just as you say. When the Rite is over, we will replace Heral’s hair—you will do it, melmenya, and I will be there to help you.

“Now,” he added, gently releasing her, “I must bathe and dress because tonight,”—he threw back the covers and swung his feet down to the floor—“you and I have some serious merrymaking to do.”

The banquet, held to welcome colonists from the outer settlements, who had travelled to the city to attend the Harvest Rite, proved very merry and ended very late.

The following morning, Eowyn awoke with a headache and an upset stomach—or, rather, with the feeling that a headache and an upset stomach were lurking just around a corner, which was the way that her newly immortal body seemed to deal with illness.

She dressed quickly and, excusing herself from Donatiya’s fussy care, she crossed the walkway to join Legolas in their garden.

There was something she desperately needed to ask him.

When she reached the flet she found that breakfast had already been laid out on the table, and immediately her phantom queasiness stepped out from the shadows. “I cannot eat this morning,” she said, sitting down beside the elf. “But there is something I need to know, Lassui, and please do not say, ‘It will not happen, melmenya’—tell me, truthfully: what will you do if the Valar do not choose me?”

“I will ask my father to take my place.”

Eowyn let out a long sigh of relief. She had no idea what consequences that might have, politically, socially, or mystically, but it did not matter: his answer made her heart soar. “Thank you,” she said, smiling. “That is all I needed to hear.”

Eowyn was finishing her second slice of toast when Master Bawden appeared at the top of the garden staircase, with a companion in tow.

“My Lord, my Lady,” said the crafsman-builder, bowing deeply—and reaching out, with his right hand, to push his colleague into a similar position—“we are sorry to disturb you, but your servant told us to come straight up. This is Lyell, son of Aubour, and he has one or two things to tell you. And I have brought that list of names you asked for, my Lord.”

“Thank you Master Bawden,” said Legolas. “Please, join us, gentlemen.”

The men sat down at the breakfast table—Bawden calm and courteous; Lyell perching uneasily on the edge of his seat. Bawden handed Legolas a piece of folded parchment. “You'll find ten names here, my Lord,” he said. “Five couples.”

“Thank you.” Legolas scanned the list—which included, he noticed, Haldir and Cyllien—then handed it to Eowyn and turned back to the men. “What do you have to tell us, Master Lyell?”

Bawden gave the man a prod. “Go on, Lyell…” When his companion still hesitated, Bawden looked up at Legolas. “You asked about the lady who came to see Heral, my Lord. Well Lyell, here, heard what she said.”

Eowyn laid down the list of names. “Please tell us, Master Lyell—would you like some cordial?” She poured him a glass.

“T-thank you, my Lady.” Lyell took the goblet from her, carefully set it upon the table and, blushing, spoke directly to her. “She w-walked out onto the beam, and she gave Heral a b-bag, and she said—she said, begging your p-pardon my Lady, that she’d cut his b-balls off and put them on a plate.”

Eowyn smiled. “And what did Heral say to that?” she asked, making a note of the threat on her wax tablet.

“He c-called her an old bat, ma’am, though she wasn’t, and then he w-went for her.”

“And you pulled him away,” said Eowyn.

“Me and B-bawden, my Lady.”

“Do you know what was inside the bag, Master Lyell?” asked Legolas.

“N-no, my Lord. But I heard her say that it n-needn’t go no further if he stopped it now, something like that.”

Legolas and Eowyn exchanged glances—both already knew that the ‘lady’ was Arinna, and both knew that they must speak to her soon.

“Master Lyell,” said Eowyn, gently, “on the day that Heral died, I saw you arguing with him. Can you tell us what that was about?”

Lyell looked down at his hands. “It was about H-heryeth, ma’am,” he mumbled.

“Heryeth.” Eowyn made a note. “Is she your sweetheart?”

Lyell shook his head. “No, my Lady… She works in the pavilion, making the t-teas and so on.” He looked up at Eowyn. “I did threaten him, my Lady, it’s true, but it didn't mean nothing. Everybody threatened him. Even the March Warden.”

Bawden turned to Lyell, frowning. “What are you talking about?”

The man’s blush deepened and his stammer got worse. “I t-t-told the March Warden that Heral was s-s-seeing his elf-lady, Bawden. I wrote him a l-l-letter.”

Legolas glanced at Eowyn. She made another note before asking, “Did you hear the March Warden threaten him, Master Lyell?”

“Yes, my Lady. At least… I w-w-went back for my tool bag, and saw them in the b-building works, arguing. I couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying, but the M-m-march Warden was angry—leaning in close, like, so I could guess—and who could b-blame him, my Lady?”

“Master Lyell,” said Eowyn, looking again at the list of names, “did you write to any of the other husbands?”

“N-no, my Lady.”

“Are you sure? It is very important.”

“H-h-honest, my Lady.”

“Then why did you write to the March Warden, Master Lyell?” asked Legolas.

“Because Heral was always b-boasting, my Lord,”—the man’s voice dropped to the faintest whisper—“about how he could k-k-keep it up all night, and all—in front of Heryeth. I just thought that if the March Warden knew what was g-going on with his missus, maybe he’d do something—lock Heral up or s-send him away, or s-something.”

“Does Heryeth know how much you care for her, Master Lyell?” asked Eowyn.

The man shook his head.

“I think you should tell her.”

“Strange,” said Eowyn, after the two men had left.


“Lyell seems so sweet, the way he talks about the girl, yet in his letter to Haldir, he used the word ‘fucking’.”

“I doubt that any of the builders would say ‘making love’, Eowyn nín,” said Legolas, “not to another male. Besides, he needed to be sure that Haldir understood exactly what he meant. Do you think he is the killer?”

Eowyn thought for a long moment. “No,” she said. “He was very nervous, but that was because he was shy of us, I think, not because of a guilty conscience.”

“Then I think we must go and speak to Haldir, melmenya.”

Haldir’s house

The guards, bowing their heads respectfully, stepped aside. Legolas opened Haldir’s door without knocking, and he and Eowyn went in. The big elf was sitting in the darkness, quiet as a stone; but when he became aware of them he roused himself, and lit some candles.

Eowyn moved a gown aside, and sat down. “Where is Cyllien?” she asked.

“I wanted to keep her out of this,” said Haldir. “She is staying with Arinna.”

“I did not know that she and Arinna were friends.”

“They are not not, but Arinna seems to have taken Cyllien under her wing.” Haldir turned to Legolas. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Sit down, mellon nín.” Legolas waited for the March Warden to lower himself, wearily, back into his chair, before asking, “Tell us, Haldir: who did kill Heral?”

The big elf seemed genuinely puzzled. “I did.”

“No.” Legolas shook his head. “Eowyn and I both know that that is a lie. If you had killed him, you would have confessed immediately.” Legolas leaned forward. “I know that you are lying to protect the killer.”

“My Lord, I…” For a moment it seemed that Haldir might cooperate. But then, “I killed Heral,” he repeated.

“Then we have no choice but to leave you here,” replied Legolas, sharply, “hiding in the dark until you to come to your senses. Let us go, melmenya.”

As they left, Eowyn glanced back at Haldir.

The big elf was sitting, quiet as a stone, gazing into empty space.

“He is protecting Cyllien,” said Eowyn, as they walked back towards their chambers.


“But, surely, she cannot have done it?”

“Why not? You said yourself that she was the only person you could think of who might have cut his ears off.”

“Yes, Lassui, but I cannot believe she killed him! For all her prickliness, when it comes to standing up for herself, she is weak—easily cowed.”

“Those are the dangerous ones,” said Legolas.

Eowyn sighed. “On the other hand,” she admitted, “Cyllien is the only person I can imagine Haldir protecting like this.”

“Her and you,” said Legolas. He grinned. “I do not suppose that you did it, melmenya?”

Eowyn laughed. “But the real question is: did Cyllien tell Haldir that she had killed Heral, or has he just put two and two together—”

“And made five. We must question Cyllien.”

“Yes. Straight away.”

“Eowyn…” Legolas took her hand, and drew her, off the main walkway, onto one of the little garden flets that provided a secluded refuge from passers by. “There is something I want to ask you first.”

“Go on.”

“I have been thinking. We will destroy the charm, I promise, but I would like us to do something else, first—let me show you.” He took her into his arms. “Close your eyes, my darling, and let me…” He pressed his forehead to hers, and reached out with his mind; and when he found her, it was as though she were standing in darkness; and he took her by the hand and led her out into the sunlight; and then he opened himself to her.

“Oh Lassui…”

“Do you see, my darling?”


“Do you agree?”

“Will it be safe?”

“Would you want to live for eternity without ever knowing?”


“Thank you.” He kissed her forehead.

They stood in silence for some minutes, clasped in each other’s arms. Then, remembering the task ahead of them, they continued, along the walkway, to Arinna’s house.

The door was opened by Camthalion. “Good morning, my Lord, my Lady…” He placed his hand upon his heart—

“Show them in, Cami,” cried Arinna, from inside the dwelling. “I have been waiting for you, Lord Legolas,”—she curtsied—“Lady Eowyn. Please, sit down. Can I offer you some refreshment?”

“You were expecting us?” Eowyn took a seat. Arinna had crossed to the sideboard and was holding up a decanter of apple brandy, tilting her head in a silent question. “No, thank you. Why were you expecting us?”

“Well, I am sure that someone must have told you about the row I had with the murdered man.”

“They have,” said Legolas. “What was it about?” He politely declined a glass of brandy.

Arinna poured herself a large one, carried it to her daybed, and settled herself elegantly; Camthalion came and stood behind her. “It was about his atrocious behaviour,” she said, “towards the young women of the colony.” She sipped her drink.

“And what was in the bag?” asked Eowyn, bluntly.

Arinna hesitated. But Camthalion reached down and laid his hand upon her shoulder. “Yes, yes, I know Cami—it was a dead cat,” she said.

“I do not understand,” said Legolas.

“I doubt that many people would,” replied Arinna. “But that was the sort of man Heral was—if a woman rejected him, things got nasty.”

“You seem to know a lot about him,” said Eowyn.

“I hear things.”

“It is a gift,” said Camthalion.

Legolas smiled. “Mistress Arinna—”

“Oh, please, my dear, just Arinna. You make me sound like a matron.”

Arinna,” said Legolas, “would you be so kind as to look at this list, and tell us if you have heard anything about anyone on it?” He gestured to Eowyn, and she handed the other woman Bawden’s parchment.

Arinna scanned the names. “If I had heard anything,” she said, cautiously, “would the information be treated in confidence?”

“We would do our best,” said Legolas, “though if it led us to the murderer, it might be necessary to reveal it at the trial.”

“Tell them Arinna,” said Camthalion.

The woman shook her head, smiling. “Elves,” she said, to Eowyn. “Who can resist them? Very well: Heral and Cyllien were having an affair and when she tried to call a halt, he broke into her house and left the dead cat. She was badly shaken.”

“But she did not report it to Captain Golradir,” said Eowyn.

“No. We were anxious to spare the March Warden’s feelings.”

Legolas glanced at Camthalion but the elf’s face revealed nothing. “So, instead,” he said to Arinna, “you decided to go to Heral yourself, and warn him off.”

“Yes. It was a little reckless, perhaps,” she admitted. “In Carhilivren I had a certain authority but, here, things are different.”

“Arinna,” said Legolas, “where were you on the night that Heral was killed?”

“Oh, my Lord!” Camthalion stepped forward to protect his lady.

“No, Cami, it is quite all right. Naturally, I am a suspect.”

“It is just a formality,” said Eowyn.

“Yes,” said Arinna, “well, let me see. That night, Cami, Ori and I dined with Lord Caranthir and his wife. We left at about midnight, joined the revellers in the Banqueting Hall, and were there until dawn.”

Legolas and Eowyn exchanged glances. They would need to confirm what she had told them, but it seemed that Arinna and her elves were in the clear.

“May we speak with Cyllien?” asked Legolas.

“I am afraid that she has gone out for the afternoon, my dear. I believe she is singing,”—the woman raised an immaculate eyebrow—“for your father.”

Outside, Eowyn slipped the list of names back inside her wax tablet and put the tablet in her pocket. “Now,” she said, looking up at the elf, “since it is well past midday and neither of us wants to see Cyllien ‘singing’ with your father,”—Legolas shuddered—“I suggest that you put this whole business out of your mind, take a long, soothing bath, and spend the afternoon resting.”

“And what will you be doing, Eowyn nín?”

“I shall go back to Hentmirë’s house, and write up my notes.”

They strolled back to the palace, walking hand-in-hand in the cool autumnal air. As they parted, Eowyn came up on tip-toe to kiss her elf’s cheek. “I shall see you later, my darling,” she whispered. She crossed the walkway to Hentmirë’s door then turned back, one hand resting on the latch. “Oh, Lassui—you had better send a discreet message to your father. It is only fair to warn him that he might have a Harvest Rite to perform tonight.”

“And no prizes for guessing with whom,” muttered Legolas.


The woman with hair like midday sun is making careful marks on a thin piece of skin. I climb down through the branches until I am close enough to touch the transparent wall that separates us.

There are things she must know; things that only I can tell her.

I reach out…

But I have dallied too long. Another appears, old and gnarled, and summons her away.

I withdraw to the safety of the foliage, and disappear.



Almost time!

Superstitiously, Eowyn had decided to wear the gown that Arwen had given her when, as an unexpected guest, she had attended the previous year’s Harvest Rite, and been chosen as Legolas’ Harvest Queen; and—though she was not a vain woman—when she studied herself in the mirror, she could not help smiling.

Made from the creamiest of elven silk, embroidered with leaves and encrusted with tiny beads of mithril, the gown, with its shaped and stiffened bodice, emphasised her slender waist and lifted and displayed her bosom to perfection.

Gods! Her entire body was glowing with anticipation. She wanted—needed—Legolas!

After their abstinence—was it really only three nights?—and then the frustrating episode with the charm, and now the vivid memory of the previous year’s—Bliss, she thought. Shuddering, toe-curling, bone-melting, heart-stopping, BLISS.

And now everything was going to be all right! If the Valar chose her, then, fortified by the Mistress of the Ceremony’s potions, she and Legolas would perform the Harvest Rite; if the Valar did not choose her, then, the moment the Rite was over, she would drag Legolas under the table and tup him senseless.

She smiled. My stallion!

She gave her long, waving hair one final inspection, rose from the dressing table, and went into Hentmirë’s sitting room to join Lord Caranthir and his wife, who were waiting to escort her downstairs.

Legolas took a deep, calming breath. He was well-prepared (having spent the afternoon thinking of Eowyn), and his body was more than ready.

He looked in the mirror. As custom required, he was wearing nothing but a pair of thin silken leggings, and his hair fell loose about his bare shoulders. He reached for his comb—

And, somehow, without his realising what was happening, his hand found Eowyn’s jewel box and lifted the lid.

He looked down at the figurine.

It was lying on its back, eyes closed, head slightly turned, a slave to its massive phallus. Existing for nothing, thought Legolas, except to plant its seed.

Instantly, an image of Eowyn, curling her fingers around the wax, filled his mind; and he felt the blood boiling in his groin, and pictured his own seed bursting from him—

No!” he cried, rising and clutching at the dressing table so hard his fingers hurt, “not yet! Not yet!” And, holding on with one hand, shaking violently, he lifted the other hand and, keeping his eyes firmly averted, he somehow managed to close the jewel box lid.

Slowly, the red-hot pain subsided, leaving his body tingling with the delicious aftershocks of delayed orgasm.

Legolas waited, bent over the dressing table, panting, until he was sure that the crisis was past. Then, quickly, he put on his embroidered surcoat and tied the sash, and went downstairs to do his duty.

Eowyn looked around the Banqueting Hall.

It was strange to be seated as an ordinary guest—well away from Legolas, who was sitting with his father at the head of the table—but it did not matter. Everything about the evening, from the garlands of corn and apples that draped the hall, and the dried flowers that decorated its ring-shaped table, and the ceremonial threshing floor laid out at its centre, to the dozen young ellith, all of them potential Harvest Queens, whose bubbling excitement filled the domed roof—everything reminded her of that moment, exactly one year ago, when Legolas had asked her to join him, and changed her life forever. Everything fuelled her urgent desire.

When she had first arrived in Eryn Carantaur she had thought the elves reserved. Now, her practised eye could see that the assembled guests were almost as aroused as she was.

We are all ready, she thought.

She took a sip of wine, hoping that it would calm her; and she felt its warmth fill her chest and spread, teasing her sweetly-aching breasts, her belly, and her most intimate parts.

Oh, Legolas, please, please hurry!

Suddenly, she felt his eyes upon her, and she looked up, and met his gaze; and the hunger she saw there took her breath away.

The Rite

“My Lord,” said the Mistress of the Ceremony, “it is time.” She offered him a frosted glass, filled to the brim with dark green liquid.

Legolas’ eyes held Eowyn’s for a moment longer.

Then he broke away, took the goblet—“Thank you,”—and, banishing all doubts from his mind, he raised it to his lips, and drank. The potion was dark and peppery, and spread through his veins like molten metal, filling his every extremity, making his heart pound and his already-roused body respond with violent need. Trembling, he drained the goblet to the very last drop and set it down, and his eyes immediately sought Eowyn.

She was sitting, head bowed, staring fixedly at the table, Looking, he thought, exactly as she did a year ago. All flushed, and beautiful.

He watched her, almost sick with fear and desire.

Moments passed; the guests began to fidget.

Suddenly, with no warning, there it was: the tell-tale silvery glow, spiking and shimmering, spreading and flowing…

“Melmenya!” he cried. “Yes! Melmenya!” And, forgetting his rank, his dignity, and the solemnity of the occasion, forgetting everything but his love for Eowyn, he vaulted over the table, ran across the threshing floor, and pulled her into his arms.

Bare-chested, and openly aroused, he carried his Harvest Queen onto the threshing floor, smothering her in passionate kisses.

His guests were murmuring their congratulations.

Gently, the Mistress of the Ceremony tried to part them—

But Legolas could not wait—the charm, the potion, were seething within him—he stumbled, and they fell to the floor; Eowyn spread her legs for him, and he tore open his leggings—

And neither of them heard the Mistress of the Ceremony, hastily reciting the words of the Harvest Rite above them.

May the union of the Lord and Lady of Eryn Carantaur be fruitful; may the womb of the lady be filled; may the woods and the fields and the gardens of Eryn Carantaur be blessed.”




Contents page


Previous chapter: The charm
Leglolas and Eowyn question more suspects; Gimli and Hentmirë lead the search for the missing girl.

chapter 4

Next chapter: Complications
Leglolas and Eowyn question Cyllien; Gimli and Thorkell pursue the tad-dail.

chapter 6

You can see Legolas dressed for the Harvest Rite in a wonderful drawing by Dawnlyn here: scroll down to Elfcake and click.