Do stop behaving like a spoilt elfling, Lassui,
said Thranduil, impatiently.
Meaning what Ada? Legolas hurried
after his father. Meaning that I do have cause to
be jealouswhich, of course, I am not, but
The Elvenking stopped abruptly, and turned to face his son.
Please do not lie to me, Ada, Legolas persisted.
You have just revealed your true feelings.
When I spoke of love, I was thinking of your mother.
Taken by surprise, Legolas began to stammer out an apologythen,
suddenly raising his head, eyes narrowed, he scrutinised his fathers
face, trying to decipher the emotions hidden behind the smooth
Thranduil stood his ground. Shall we continue?
They had reached a fork in the rose-lined path and, hearing light
footsteps ahead, they entered a canopied walkway, rounded a corner,
and found themselves face to face with Eowyn.
Melmenya! Legolas stepped forward, hands outstretched.
But King Thranduil, grasping his sons arm and holding him
back, placed his free hand upon his heart, and bowed his head,
in a greeting of profound respect, to the womans strange
Gimli patted Hentmirës hand. Just take it easy,
He nodded to the stretcher-bearers, and they lifted the little
womanstill cradling the baby, and protesting that she was
too heavy to be carriedand took her into the barn that was
serving as a healing room.
The dwarf surveyed what was left of Eryn Valen.
Fire had gutted the houses at the centre of the village, and
three more dwellings had been hastily pulled down to prevent its
spreading. Two of the villagersone of them Godiths
motherlay dead upon the scorched grass, together with four
of the tad-dail; three other villagers, badly injured, were being
tended in the barn. Hentmirës wounds appeared superficial
(but Gimli was not inclined to take risks where the little woman
was concerned); Rimush was scratched and bruised; Thorkell bogsveigir,
unharmed, was herding the tad-dail prisoners into one of the goat
What do we do now? the dwarf wondered.
Eowyn stared at Thranduil in astonishment.
She had seen the Elvenking with elves of lesser rank, like Lord
Fingolfin, and with men of high standing, like Bergthórr
beytill, and with Aragorna man he truly seemed to admirebut
she had never seen him show genuine respect before.
Beside him, Legolasthough obviously as surprised as she
was by his fathers behaviourslowly bowed his own head.
Eowyn glanced at the green man, a broad smile spreading across
her face. Her strange friend was graciously receiving the elves
greeting, one gnarled hand upon his leafy chest.
He was clearly a being of some importance!
She placed her own hand on her heart in a formal gesture of thanks.
You have been watching over me since we met in the Forest,
she said. I have felt your presence. Thank you.
The green man returned her bow. Then he turned to Legolas with
a gesture that seemed to say, I leave her in your care,
and stepped backwards, and merged into the roses.
She searched the prickly foliage, and the trellis that stood
behind it, but only a faint, reassuring scent, of new leaves and
lemons, told her heart that, like the creatures of the forest,
she remained under the green mans special protection, and
that he would re-emerge from the leaves, if ever she needed him.
How is she? asked Gimli.
The elven healer, Master Findecáno, finished securing
the bandage on Hentmirës arm before answering. Lady
Hentmirë has a serious burn, he said, which I
have treated with an ash poulticethe dressing must be renewed
every five hours. Otherwise, she is in good health, my Lord.
Good. Gimli leaned his axe against the wall and sat
down beside his friend. We are sending the villagers to
safety, he said. And I want you and Rimush to go with
But do you not need me, Gimli? To mark the map?
The dwarf smiled. Aye, lass, you were doing a fine job
there. But the search was a waste of timeall those men,
out in the Forest, and the buggers just slipped behind us, and
attacked here! The only one who found anything was the Beorning,
and that was one hut. But we have prisoners now and, if
we lean on them
Lean on them, Gimli?
Frighten them a bit.
We will threaten them, my Lady, said Thorkell bogsveigir,
who had just entered the barn in search of the dwarf, and
make them talk.
But they do not talk, said Hentmirë. Not
that I have heard. They
Eowyn glanced at the Elvenking.
She had hoped to show the evidence to Legolas in private, and
to decide with him the best way to proceed, but Thranduil was
looking at the parcel, and was bound to ask what it contained.
And, although she was more convinced than ever that Legolas
father, if not actually responsible for the death, had been closely
involved in its aftermath, she realised that there might be advantages
to taking him into their confidence sooner rather than later.
We are dealing with ancient lore, she thought. Even
Legolas knows nothing about the tad-dail and the green man
And, though Thranduil is wily, he is not wicked. When he chooses
to deceivewell, perhaps, on those occasions, deception is
what is called for.
What was Dernhelm but a lie?
I have something to discuss with you, she said, both
of you. But we must go somewhere where we cannot be overheard.
My quarters, said Thranduil. Allow me first
to wake Cyllien, and take her to Arinnas, then I will meet
you there in half an hour.
In my country, said Hentmirë, thoughtfully,
my old country, that is, when a man needs water,
he finds a monkey.
Does he really? said Gimli, politely. He and Thorkell
bogsveigir were trying to revise their plan.
Yes, said the little woman. He scatters lumps
of salt on the groundsalt is scarce in the desertand
lets the monkey eat it. Then, when the monkey gets thirsty, he
follows. Hentmirë frowned. If you set the creatures
free, Gimli, would they not return home? And then you could follow
The dwarf and the man exchanged glances. It is a clever
idea, lass, the dwarf admitted, very cleverbut
these goat-things know the Forest better than anyone and, according
to Eowyn, they can disguise themselves as men. If we let them
go, the chances are we would never see them
No, you are forgetting the salt, interrupted Thorkell
bogsveigir. We can track them easily with a dog. The problem
is that the creatures are canny, and will know exactly what we
are up to, unlessas Lady Hentmirë sayswe give
them salt and let nature take its course.
Girls, Lord Gimli, replied the Beorning. Give
Well, melmenya, asked Legolas, as Thranduil disappeared
into the Banqueting Hall, what is it that you are so anxious
to show me beforehand?
Let us climb, said Eowyn.
She waited until they were halfway up the main staircase before
quietly describing the contents of the parcel. The green
man saw who threw it into the pool, she said, andand
saw him drop this. She fished down the front of her
bodice, brought out the tip of a deer antler (drilled through
its centre), and showed it to Legolas.
The elf laid a comforting arm about her
shoulders and pulled her close. I am so sorry melmenya.
He kissed the top of her head.
I am sure that he was just following orders.
Of course. Legolas sighed. How are we going
to handle this, my darling?
I think we must simply tell your father all we know.
And then, I really have no idea, Lassui.
No, said Gimli.
Who in her right mind would volunteer to beravished
by a goat?
First, said the Beorning, there will be no
ravishingwe will see to that. Secondly, someone who
is so afraid for her sister, she has already been into the Forest
to search for her, alone.
King Thranduils apartment
The Elvenking arrived late.
Legolas and Eowyn had been waiting anxiously beside the great
curved window, watching the dawn light, filtering through the
red carantaurs, gild the roofs of their beloved city, bringing
the colony to life.
For a few moments, father and son faced each other in uneasy
silence. Then Eowyn took the lead: Please sit down, AdaLassui.
She set the damp parcel on the table between them, pulled it open,
and placed the deer horn button beside it.
King Thranduil uttered a quiet oath.
Eowyn sat down next to her elf.
We believe, Ada, said Legolas, that it happened
like this: the day you arrived, you went for one of your secret
walks, saw Heral dragging Cyllien from the marketplace, followed
them, and rescued her.
Thranduils eyes were fixed upon the murder weapon, and
Legolas noticed that his hands, which would normally have been
toying with his sash, or with the buttons at his cuff, were resting
in his lap, perfectly still. You escorted Cyllien home,
he continued, glancing at Eowyn, and, we assume, gave her
one of your white knives to defend herself with. He picked
up the knife, and examined its handle. Master Cammirons
craftsmanship is as distinctive as a scholars hand, Ada,
he said, and, as you know, he never uses the same decoration
twice. This pattern is based on the arms of the Woodland Realmthe
blade is yours.
The Elvenking said nothing.
Legolas went on: That same night, Cyllien and Heral met
in the building works. We know why Heral was therewe will
not go into it nowbut we have no idea what Cyllien was doing.
And that is important, said Eowyn, because
it determines the nature of the crime.
Exactly. We believe that it was Cyllien who stabbed Heral,
and cut off his ears, but
Legolas searched his fathers
face. Did you see her Adawere you looking down into
the building works? Did you take pity on her and send your lackey
out to help her? Or did she come to you?
She came to me, said Thranduil, softly.
So you ordered Thorkell to cover up the crime, said
Eowyn. He could not do much with the bodythe blood
had already stained the untreated wood, so it would have been
pointless to move itbut he made sure that there was nothing
left to incriminate Cyllien, and disposed of the weapon. Unfortunately,
the green man saw him, and picked up the button that fell off
And gave it to you. The Elvenking sighed. What
do you intend to do, Lassui?
Do? Ada, you have put me in an impossible position!
Legolas rose to his feet and began to pace. My father has
covered up a murder!
Your King, said Thranduil, quietly, has
taken matters in hand.
You do not have to do it, lass.
I want to. Myldreth smiled reassuringly at the dwarf,
and then at the anxious little woman sitting beside him. I
need to, Lady HentmirëI must find Annis and bring
her home. And I trust Lord Gimli and Master Thorkell to keep me
Good, said Thorkell bogsveigir. Then this is
We must question Cyllien, said Legolas. His anger
having quickly spent itself, he had resumed his place beside Eowyn.
She, having borrowed a wax tablet from the Elvenking, was making
We must establish, beyond any doubt, the elf continued,
that it was self defence.
The man was a brute, said Thranduil. What else
could it have been?
Premeditated murder, Ada, as you well knowrevenge
for the humiliations she had already suffered; a desperate measure
to ensure that he would never touch her again. Legolas leaned
towards his father. I would like you to be present when
we talk to her, Adaas a sort of advocate, if you willto
give her support and to encourage her to be frank with us. We
know that she did it, so anything she can tell us in mitigation
And then what? A public trial?
There will have to be an inquiry. But if it was self defence
and if she gives us a full confession, it will be as brief and
as painless as we can make it, said Legolas.
And the punishment?
Legolas turned to Eowyn. She will be asked to serve the
colony, said the woman, for a fixed number of hours,
doing something that makes use of her particular skillssomething
not too onerous.
And what of my bodyguard?
Legolas sighed. Since he was acting on your orders, Ada,
and since, as King of the Woodland Realm, you are technically
above the law, so is he. We cannot touch him.
You have fifteen minutes, announced Thorkell bogsveigir.
Bring your wives, your children, your weapons, and water
for the journeyleave everything else.
Several of the villagers muttered, angrily.
Space is limited. The Beorning gestured towards the
vehiclestwo hand carts, a haywain, a box wagon, and Hentmirës
carriageassembled on the patch of burnt ground that had
once been the village green. We will load the injured first;
then the old and the young; and then, if there is room left, the
women. The rest will have to walk. Everything you need will be
provided when you reach the city
What about our dead? cried one of the men.
We cant leave them lying here! agreed another.
Thorkell sighed. Does anyone have a cellar? Somewhere cool
that can be made secure?
The village head man raised a hand.
Lay them out in there. Tomorrow morning, when the Harvest
Rite is complete, Lord Legolas himself will meet with your representatives
to decide the future of Eryn Valen. The dead can be given a proper
burial on your return.
He turned to Gimli. Can you think of anything else?
The dwarf shook his head.
Then we leave in a quarter of an hour.
Walking the short distance from the Royal guest apartments to
Arinnas house (where Cyllien was staying), accompanied by his
father and Eowyn, Legolas was relieved to encounter none of the
colonys more prominent citizens.
It is still quite early, he thought. They are no doubt
resting after last nights revels.
Thank the Valar.
To his surprise, however, Arinna was not only up and about, but
appearedwith the aid of Camthalionto be cleaning the
house. Legolas greeted her formally, explaining that he and his
companions were there in an official capacity, and asked that
they might be allowed to speak to Cyllien in private.
Arinna graciously agreed, settling her visitors in the dining
chamber, and fetching Cyllien for them herself. They are
good people, he heard her say as the pair approached the
chamber door, and they will treat you fairly. Tell them
Please sit down, said Legolas, indicating the seat
beside King Thranduil. My father is here to give you advice,
should you need it.
The elleth smiled shyly at the Elvenking but, at the same time,
Legolas noticed, her expression was tinged with familiarity. Thank
youThoron. She looked so pale, so vulnerable, thatfor
the briefest of momentshe felt sure that he and Eowyn must
be mistaken. Then he remembered what a consumate performer she
was. Mistress Cyllien, he said, formally, you
know why we are here.
The elleth nodded.
Tell us what happened on the night that Heral died.
Cyllienhead bowed, eyes fixed upon the tabletook
a great, sighing breath, but did not answer.
King Thranduil poured out a glass of water, and pushed it towards
Thank you, she whispered.
Begin, Legolas insisted, by telling us how
you became involved with Heral.
The elleth glanced at Thranduil. Almost imperceptibly, the Elvenking
I first saw him in the marketplace, she said. A delicate
flush spread across her cheeks. I could not miss him. He
was so big, so handsome; so—vital. And he made it absolutely
clear what he wanted. Her colour deepened. He could
not wait until we got homehe had me in somebody’s garden,
up against a tree. And it was good at firstso excitinghe
was never considerate, but that did not seem to matter.
She tucked a strand of dark hair behind her pointed ear. Then,
one day, he brought a little wax figure with him, and made me
touch it, andyou may think me crazy but, I swear, I felt
thingsthings I had never felt before.
Under the table, Legolas grasped Eowyns hand. Go
on, he said.
That was when it all went wrong, said Cyllien. I
began to feel,she bit her lipguilty.
I let Arinna talk me into ending things with Heral, and making
another effort with Haldir, but Heral would not leave me alone,
and Haldir could not make love, and
Tell us what happened on the day of the murder, said
Cyllien sighed. I went to the market. Heral must have followed
me. He dragged me off into one of the gardens, and pinned me against
the flet wallhe would have,she sobbedwould
have forced me, if not for King Thranduil.
Legolas watched his father reach out, and gently pat the elleths
hand. Tell us how you came to be on the building site with
Heral that night, he insisted.
For the first time, Cyllien looked him in the eye. I do
not know, she said.
What do you mean? Legolas frowned. Tell us
why you went there.
I do not know.
Did Heral take you there? asked Eowyn, suddenly.
I do not know.
Take your time, my dear, said Thranduil, laying a
gentle hand upon her arm. Have another sip of water.
He shot Legolas a warning look.
Refusing to be intimidated, Legolas ploughed on: We must
be clear on this point: are you saying that you were on the flet,
but you do not remember how you came to be there?
What do you remember? asked Eowyn. What
is the last thing you remember before you found yourself in the
Opening the door, said Cyllien. Her voice wavered.
When Thoron brought me home, we said goodbye, and I opened
Eowyn glanced at Legolas. He nodded, encouraging her to continue.
Did you go inside? she asked.
Yes, said Thranduil. She did. I saw her close
the door behind her.
What time was that?
Late afternoon, said the Elvenking.
Well, said Eowyn, trying to jog the elleths
memory, did you change your gown?
She must have, said Thranduil. Later, she was
wearing red. Do you remember, Cyllien?
The elleth shook her head.
Perhaps you bathed? said Eowyn.
I do not know
You have several hours to account for, said Legolas.
Eowyn laid her hand on the elfs arm. When you woke
up, she said, on the flet, was Heral already
Was he still alive?
Where was the knife?
I was holding it.
Did you kill him, Cyllien? asked Eowyn, softly. Did
you cut off his human ears?
The elleth shuddered. The Elvenking squeezed
her hand. Yes, she whispered. I
think I must have.
Hidden amidst the smoking ruins, Myldreth watched the last of
the villagers disappear from view. Over in the goat pens, the
tad-dail were stirringfor, just before the cavalcade had
moved out, one of the older village boys, a reliable little fellow,
had been sent over to accidentally loosen one prisoners
Through the fabric of her skirts, Myldreth checked the hunting
knife, strapped to her thigh, that the Beorning had given her.
Know how to use this?
I shall when the time comes.
She waited until she was sure that at least one of the creatures
was completely free, then she slipped out from behind the charred
beams andtrying to look as foolish as she imagined her sister
had done, with her hair loosened and her bodice unlacedshe
sashayed towards them.
A ripple of interest ran through the herd, and Myldreth caught
a waft of pungent scent as one of them, openly aroused, turned
to look at her. For a split second her heart faltered in her chest,
butlike every good country girlshe knew that it was
not the creatures way to force their victims.
The tad-dail seduced.
Well, good luck to you, she thought.
Then one of the creatures raised a long, branched flute to its
lips, and began to play.
King Thranduil insisted that Cyllien should be left in Arinnas
care. Two of your most trusted warriors, he said,
referring to Orodreth and Camthalion, will be on hand to
watch her. And that woman seems reliable enough.
Legolas and Eowyn walked back to their chambers.
Are we any the wiser? asked Legolas.
We know the knife was in Cylliens hand, said Eowyn,
and she says there was no one else on the flet with her
and Heral. But as to her motive
She paused beside the
walkway wall and, leaning over the handrail, looked down at the
ground, far below.
Be careful, melmenya.
Eowyn turned to her elf, smiling. Have I told you how much
I love you, Lassui?
She took hold of his hands, and raised them to her lips. If
Cyllien were lying to us, I think she would have made up a more
So, when she says that she cannot remember
I believe her.
But why would she forget?
Fear, perhaps. The horror of what happened. Many of the
Rohirrim have scant memory of Pelennor Field, Lassui.
Legolas sighed. In the absence of any real evidence, we
must presume that she is innocentor, at least, that she
acted in self defence.
Which does seem entirely reasonable, said Eowyn,
given what we know of Heral, and his behaviour earlier that
Were it not for the fact that she had no reason
to be on that flet.
And the fact that Heral had already walled up the figurine,
said Eowyn, and so, presumably, was no longer driven by
unreasoning lust. She suddenly grinned at the elf.
You can put that thought right out of your
mind, melmenya, said Legolas, with mock sternness. Go
back to our chambers and write up your notes. I will release poor
The moment the cavalcade was out of sight of the village, Thorkell
bogsveigir gave the signal.
Two pairs of elves immediately left the main column, one pair
cutting west towards Brethildor to intercept Berryns search
party and bring it back to Eryn Valen, the second heading north
to find the rest of the men and guide them back to the column,
to protect the fleeing villagers.
At the same time, Gimlis dwarves and their human comrades
followed the Beorning back down the trail, accompanied by the
village head manleading his prize bloodhound, and carrying,
in a leather satchel, a strip of fabric torn from Myldreths
At the edge of the clearing, Thorkell bogsveigir gave a second
signal, and his troops crouched down amongst the trees, and waited,
whilst the dwarf and the Beorning watched the girls progress
with keen-eyed interest.
What in Aulë's name is she doing? muttered
Legolas nodded to the elves outside the March Wardens house.
My compliments to Captain Golradir, he said, and
tell him that a guard is no longer required here. He pushed
the door open, and went inside.
The place was unnaturally dark, and smelled strangeMusty,
he thought. He crossed to one of the windows, pulled back the
drapes, and threw open the shutters.
Haldir, hunched over the table, was a shapeless bundle of hair
and woollen tunic.
March Warden, said Legolas, briskly, you are
free to go. He approached his friend. Did you hear
me, Haldir? Cyllien has confessed.
Slowly, the big elf raised his head.
Ai, mellon nín, gasped Legolas. You
look ill. I shall send for Master Dínendal.
No! Haldir grasped Legolas arm. A healer
cannot help me, my Lord, he said, smiling bleakly. I
Cursed? I do not understand. Legolas sat down
I found itfound themon the day of the
I have no idea how they got there.
Haldir, what did you find?
Three wax figures.
Legolas sighed. Did you touch them?
I picked them up.
Two of them
Haldir looked away, his face flushed.
If I were to say that they were making love, Legolas, it
would give you no idea of the depravitythey were fucking,
like beasts. The one underneaththe femalewas obviously
meant to be Cyllien, with big, pointed ears and a foolish grin;
the one on top was human.
Where are these figures now? asked Legolas, gently.
I left the couple here,Haldir gestured vaguelybut
I kept this one. He reached into the pocket of his tunic
and drew out a wax figurine. I think it is meant to be me.
He set it down on the tabletop.
Legolas breath caught in his throat. The figure was identical
to the one in his own chambersthough rubbed and scratched
from its time in Haldirs pocketbut where the other
sported a vast erection, this had only a ragged scar, where its
penis and testicles had been broken away.
Was it like that when you found it, asked Legolas,
with its ceber missing?
Listen carefully, Haldir: take hold of that coil of hair
on its head, and lift it off. Try not to touch the wax.
Haldir frowned. Why?
Trust me; just do it.
The big elf hesitated for a moment longer; then, hand trembling,
he did as Legolas had instructed, placing the silvery lock on
Legolas glanced round the chamber. Several items of Cylliens
discarded clothing were draped, here and there, over the furniture.
Take up that red gown and wrap it around the figuremake
sure that the wax is completely covered. Good. Now lock the thing
away somewhere secure.
Please, Haldir; do exactly as I say.
Eowyn slipped behind the carved wooden wall that screened off
the building works, and stepped out onto the flet.
Work had officially been suspended for the duration of the Harvest
Rite, but she had known that she would find Master Bawden therestanding
on the porch of the unfinished apartment, conscientiously oiling
the carved door jambsfor, Wood, he had
once told her, does not observe humanor even elvenfeast
She greeted the craftsman-builder with a mixture of affection
The man bowed. What can I do for you, my Lady?
The subject was a difficult one, but she could see no sense in
being coy. The figurine, she said. Where, exactly,
did you find it?
Bawden led her through the empty doorway, across the high-ceilinged
sitting room with its wide, curved windows, through the study,
and into the main bedchamber. There. He pointed to
a section of panelling, built to protect the carantaur trunk that
stood, like a living pillar, at the centre of the room. A small
section of the planking had been prised off, exposing a tiny,
Eowyn touched the tree trunk. This is at the very heart
of the house
Bawden smiledand Eowyn felt like an apprentice whose master
had just praised her for a particularly fine piece of workmanship.
Indeed, my Lady. That is exactly what it is. And,he
coloured deeplyin the chamber where that particular
object would be at its most potent.
But this is not Herals home.
No, my Lady. But guest apartments are empty for much of
the time. And few doors are locked in Eryn Carantaur.
Eowyn chewed her lip, thoughtfully. Then
she said, What do you know of the tad-dail, Master Bawden?
The man gestured towards a wooden window seat. Eowyn sat down.
Like the elves, my Lady, he said, we craftsman-builders
are people of the Forest. But, unlike the elves, we must
cut down the trees, and that puts us amongst its darker inhabitants.
We know the tad-dail, and they know us. If we chance upon them
we give them their due, and they leave us in peace.
Respect, my Lady, said Bawden. We doff our
caps and give them the proper greeting.
I think, said Eowyn, that Heral gave them rather
more than that. She told Bawden about Little Godwin. In
return, I think the tad-dail gave him some of their hair. It is
wound around the figureswellit is wound around
Can you tell me more about its magic?
Bawden shook his head. I have always stayed clear of that
But the otherscould you make some discreet enquiries
amongst the other men for me?
Of course, my Lady.
Thank you. Eowyn rose to her feet. And can
I ask another favour of you, Master Bawden?
You look better, said Legolas.
I feel better. Better than I have since,Haldir
shruggedsince we first returned from the shadowland.
How did you know what to do?
I have seen one of the figures beforebut it was Eowyn
who worked out how to deal with it. Legolas smiled. You
were telling me about Eryn Dholt.
Yes. The big elf shrugged. I stood beneath
the waters of the Gynd Vyrn, hoping that the cascade would wash
me clean. But then I started thinking: what if the figures were
a threat? I had seen the sort of man Heral was. Suppose
Cyllien had angered him in some way? He looked up at Legolas.
She can be very provocative.
So I rushed back.
What did you find?
Nothing. She was in bed. Asleep.
But then you heard about the murder.
I was sure she must have done it. I thought it was my fault.
Legolas waited until the other elfs
eyes met his. You thought that, he said, because
Heral had emasculated youmagicallyby mutilating the
wax figurine. Now you are yourself again, as long as you keep
the thing locked away. He rose from the table. When
Eowyn and I find a more permanent solution, I will let you know.
In the meantime, come with me. I have a job for the March Warden
of Eryn Carantaur.
Eowyn went straight to the bedchamber, and set Master Bawdens
bag on the dressing table.
The layout of her and Legolas home was very different from
that of the unfinished guest apartment, and she spent some timeturning
round and roundscanning the walls for a suitable place before
deciding on the corner nearest the sitting room door, which was
towards the centre of the house (though not at its heart), and
a good distance from the bed.
She opened the tool bag, and took out a small chisel and a wooden
The wall was lined with wooden panels. Eowyn examined their construction.
The planks were pegged to the wall frame with tiny wooden dowels.
At about waist height a line of swirling curves formed a slight
lip. Perfect! Doing exactly as Bawden had shown her, she placed
the tip of the chisel behind the carved edge, and tapped the handle
with the mallet.
The plank moved, very slightly. She repositioned the chisel.
Melmenya? What are you doing?
Eowyn frowned, concentrating on her work. Solving our problem.
She tapped again.
Can I help?
She moved the chisel along the plank.
Yes, I suppose this part is safe enough. She tapped
You never cease to amaze me, Shieldmaiden. He leaned
over her shoulder. You are doing a good job.
Master Bawden showed me how.
One more will do it, I think, said Legolas.
The elf grasped the edge of the panel and pulled. The wood came
away in his hands. There. The couple looked
into the narrow alcove formed by the framework behind the panelling.
Will it fit?
If I take it out of the jewel box. Eowyn smiled up
at him. You had better go into the sitting room now.
Legolas kissed her forehead. Mmm. Will you be able to replace
the panel by yourself?
Yesall I need to do is knock the pegs back through
the plank, she said, seriously, so that only the tips
are protruding. Then, when I position the panel, I must fit the
pegs into these,she touched one of the peg-holes in
the frameworkand hammer them home.
Master Bawden is a good teacher. He kissed her again.
I shall have breakfast waiting for you when you have finished,