Eowyn climbed the stairs to the garden flet.
Legolas, who had been waiting impatiently, rushed over to her
and, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, drew her to the breakfast
table. All done, melmenya?
Yes. It was harder than I expected, Lassui, but I have
replaced the panel. How do you feel now? Legolas pulled
out a chair; she sat down.
Fine, melmenya, said the elf, sitting opposite. But,
then, the charm does not seem to affect me unless I am already,he
smileda little excited
And you are not now?
They both grinned.
Good, said Eowyn, because there are things
we must do before the Rite tonight. I have been thinking
I have something to tell you first.
He cut a slice of bread and laid it on her plate.
Go on. She spread the bread with butter.
I have found out why Haldir has seemed soso spineless
lately. He told her about the other figurines, and how Haldir
had been carrying the dismembered image of himself in his pocket.
We wrapped it in one of Cylliens gowns and locked
it in the weapons chest, and he immediately began to improve.
What a terrible, terrible thing to do to someone,
said Eowyn. She poured two glasses of cordial. Heral must
have thought that, with Haldir impotent, Cyllien would be forced
to turn to himoh gods, Lassui! That is it! She thumped
her little fist on the table.
Melmenya? Legolas could not help smiling.
That is why she was on the building site!
For sex? But she had already rejected him
earlier in the day.
But the figurine, Lassui! The couple. Haldir told
you that he left it on the table. And the last thing Cyllien says
she remembers is going into the house. She must have found the
figurine, and picked it uphandled it
Legolas took a bite of bread, and
chewed it, thoughtfully. And it drew her to the building
Well, it drew her to Heral.
But the charm must have somehow been broken, said
Legolas, because she quickly came to her senses, and defended
Using the knife that my father had given her
Exactly. Had she not had the knife, he could easily have
overpowered herraped herbut she lashed out
at him, stabbed him
And then she vented her anger on his
ears. We need to find that figurine, Lassui. And,she
picked up her napkin, and wiped her fingerswe need
to do all the other things that we have neglected whilst in thrall
to Herals charmwe must search Herals chamberswe
should have done that at the very beginningand I want to
speak to Lady Tóriel.
Tóriel? Why, melmenya?
Because I want to know whether Thorkell really
was with her that nightand, if so, exactly when he left.
Surrounded by dancing tad-dail, Myldreth raised her arms above
her head, andshe hopedspun gracefully, her sharp eyes
scanning the Forest for any sign of her friends. Gods! Either
theyre very well hidden, she thought, or I am on
my own; and she closed her eyes, trying to master her nerves.
Come on, Myldreth! You do not want these bastards sensing
Something touched her shoulder and she turned, instantly recognising
the young buck who had so openly desired her back at the village.
She pirouetted away.
The tad-dal followed.
Myldreth moved faster, working her way deeper into the pack.
The tad-dal bleated plaintively.
Some of the others closed in on her, guiding her back towards
himfor it seemed that he was to have first use of
Shit, thought Myldreth, trying to stay just beyond his
grasp. Do not let me down, Lord Gimli, Master Thorkell!
Can you see the lassie? whispered Gimli.
Thorkell bogsveigir peered through the scrub.
No. But, from the way they are behaving, she is certainly
in there, somewhere near the middle.
A fragment of melody, long and lush and haunting, wound its way
past them on the breeze.
That music, grumbled the dwarf, makes my flesh
That is because, said the Beorning, your flesh
is of the wrong sort. A womanahhere we go. The
tad-dail had increased their pace; Thorkell signalled his men
to do the same. A woman cannot resist it.
Hmm. Gimli weighed his axe. Let us pray that
our lass is the exception.
Legolas and Eowyn had made another thorough search of the building
site, but found nothing.
Eowyn sat down on the steps of the unfinished apartment. I
was so sure that we would find it, Lassui, now that we
know what we are looking for. A gentle breeze wafted across
the flet and, closing her eyes, she turned to face to its scented
freshness, sighing, I wanted to show it to Cyllien.
To see if it jogged her memory? Legolas sat down
beside her, and took hold of her hand. Then, after a few moments,
he said, You know, melmenya, something must have broken
its spell. Perhaps it fell
They scrambled to their feet and, together, peered over the flet
On three sides, there was nothing but a dizzying drop, to the
ground hundreds of feet below; on the fourth side, however, the
platform overlooked a small public garden.
Legolas pointed to a group of young children,
clustered around a bench. One of the elflings was holding a little
wheeled horse, and was racing it along the seat closely pursued
by a tiny dwarf, who was pushing a wax model of a couple, making
Oh, gods, said Eowyn.
Myldreth had no idea how long she had been dancing down the
An hour? Two?
To her poor, tired arms and legs it felt like two days.
So far, with a few big steps here, and an over-enthusiastic twirlconnecting
her fist with a sparsely-bearded chinthere, she had managed
to keep the young tad-dal at a distance. And it seemed that, as
long as she made him wait, the others were content to leave
her be. Thank the gods.
But a subtle change in the creatures manner told her that
they were getting close to his lair, and she knew that this was
the moment of greatest danger, and she prayed (again) that Lord
Gimli and Master Thorkell were close behindthough in her
heart she was sure that she could trust the dwarf.
And besides, she thought, I have a knife
They turned off the main trail, and climbed a steep riseStill
bloody dancingand entered a clearing atop the hill,
and at last she saw their strongholda vast stone ruin, its
stunted walls roofed with woven branches, its fallen masonry serving
as beds and chairs, the whole edifice covered with dark green
moss and skirted with fronds of amber bracken.
Gods, it smells!
Of piss, thought Myldreth, as the odour caught in her
throat. Goats piss. And she spun slowly round, and
saw that most of the creatures were making water at the edges
of the clearing, Marking it afresh, like dogs!
But she had come here for a purpose and, swallowing hard, she
let her young swain draw her, still dancing, through an open postern,
and into the dank interior of the ruined keep.
Myldreth! Myldreth! Theyve brought you, too!
It was the very voice she had been hoping to hear, but its sudden
sound took Myldreth by surprise, and she forgot to dance and,
instead, peering into the gloom, she searched for its owner, whispering,
Annis? Annis, is that you?
Of course its me! Her sister was sitting on
a mossy stone, cradling a baby in her arms; and as Myldreth moved
closer, and her eyes grew accustomed to the dark, she could scarcely
believe the girls transformationher filthy rags, her
matted hair, the dirt smeared across her face, and neck, and arms,
and the putrid colour of her teeth
But her sisters eyes were shining with joy. Isnt it wonderful?
she cried, hugging the baby to her breast. They treat me
like a princess, Myldreth! Look at my fine chamber; look at my
Myldreth reached outand, instantly,
a pair of hands (with long, sharp nails) grasped her by the waist,
and dragged her back, and she felt an impatient phallus, rising
up behind her.
NO! she thought. And slipping her hand through the split
in her skirts, she pulled out the Beornings knife and spun
roundignoring the nails that scraped her skin as she broke
freeand lashed out at the young tad-dal, driving him away.
Oh gods, oh gods!
She thrust, and thrust again, but somehow could not connect;
and she took deep breath and bellowed, LORD GIMLI; MASTER
THORKELL; COME NOW, COME NOW, COME NOW!
Eowyn grasped Legolas arm. We must not let them think
that it is something bad, Lassui, she whispered. I
mean, we do not want them thinking that sex is bad.
Leave it to me, melmenya. The elf walked out onto
the flet. Hello.
The children looked up from their game, surprised by the sudden
interruption. Then one little fellow, bolder than the rest, drew
himself up straight and, placing his hand upon his heart, bowed
his golden head and said, Mae govannen, Lord Legolas.
Legolas smiled. Mae govannen, mellyn nín. I see
that you have found my statue.
Fili found it
the three elflings drew back, leaving the dwarf to face Legolas
It was just lying on the floor, sir, said the tiny
boy, and it was already broken. That is the truth.
He thrust a small, broad hand into his pocket and drew out a battered
lump of wax, still recognisable as an elleths head.
Well, said Legolas, sitting down on the bench, it
just so happens that there is a reward for finding that sculpturetwo
rewards, in fact. The dwarf who finds it gets taken to Master
Aerandirs workshop, and can choose any toy he likes. And then
heand all his friendsget taken to the market, for
apple pie and cream.
Come now, come now, come now, cried the voice,
and Gimli and his dwarves were out into the open and charging
up the hillfelling any creature foolish enough to step in
their waybefore Thorkell bogsveigir had even had time to
raise a hand and signal his men.
Then the humans were running, too, battling through a ragged
wall of tad-dail, the Beorning scanning the field for any sign
of a focus, a point that the creatures seemed particularly anxious
to defend. He could see nothing promising, but the knot of dwarves
was already at the foot of the revetment, and Thorkell saw Gimli
disappear through a small doorway in the masonry.
Barking a few quick orders, telling his men to round up the tad-dail
and drive them into the isolated remains of the gatehouse, Thorkell
Inside the keep, it was dark and damp, and nauseating, and the
greenish light, filtering down through the high, woven roof, gave
him glimpses of a gaggle of grubby womenlooking more animal
than humansquatting on the piss-sodden ground, or lolling,
open-legged, upon stone beds covered with filthy straw.
The Beorning shouldered his bow, drew his elven knife, and strode
on. The noise up ahead told him that he was close to the action
and, peering cautiously through another gap in the stonework,
he spotted Gimli knocking tad-dail down like skittles, whilst
Myldreth, despite the hysterical woman hammering her back with
tiny fists, was holding off a particularly amorous creature, using
the knife he had given her.
Sighing, the Beorning waded in and, dropping the tad-dal with
a quick, well-placed stab, he grasped Myldreths arm and
pulled herand her wailing sister with herback to the
postern and out into the sunlight.
Thank the fucking gods, he thought. Fresh air.
Eowyn examined the wax figures.
The female, on her hands and knees, was turning her missing headwhich,
separately, still smiled at some imaginary spectatoras the
male figure entered her from behind. I see what Haldir meant,
she said, thoughtfully. There is something very distasteful
about it. Do you think the children understood what was happening?
They did not seem at all upset by it, melmenya.
I wonder when the head came offwhether that was
what broke the spell, and whether
She gasped. Lassui!
I have an idea!
How many women are there? asked Thorkell bogsveigir,
dragging Myldreth and her sister over the grass.
I saw two, said Myldreth, not including Annis;
and three babies.
And I saw three. That gives us at least five women, and
the gods only know how many babies. Can she tell us how
many tad-dail? He looked across the clearing, relieved to
find that his men, with help from Gimlis dwarves, had rounded
up most of the stray creatures, and corralled them inside the
gatehouse. Which only leaves those in the keep itself,
he thought, unless more arrive
he roared at two of the dwarves, go inside and get Lord
Gimli out; drag him by the beard if you have to!
No, said Myldreth, she doesnt know. But
I can tell you that there were about thirty with me by
the time we got here, and I know there were already more inside.
And we cannot smoke them out because of the bloody women
Arinna was surprised to see Legolas and Eowyn back so soon, and
calmly insisted on being present whilst they questioned Cyllien
Thank you, said Legolas. I am sure that she
will be more at ease with you sitting beside her, giving her support.
The woman led them back into the dining chamber, sending Camthalion
to fetch the elleth. Cyllien arrived after a brief interval, lookingLegolas
thoughtquite strange: Like Eowyn sometimes looks when
she has been roused from a deep sleep
Cyllien, aware of his scrutiny, ran a hand through her messy
Thank you for agreeing to speak with us again. Legolas
gestured towards an empty chair. We have something to show
The elleth sat down; Eowyn set the wax statuette, its head still
missing, in front of her.
Well, it is a while since I saw one of those, murmured
Do you recognise it, Cyllien? asked Legolas.
The elleth frowned. Iumno
Why should she? asked Arinna, clearly taking her
role as Cylliens advocate seriously.
Because we know, said Legolas, from what Haldir
has told us, that it appeared, mysteriously, in his house on the
day that Heral was murdered. We believe that it was still there
when my father brought Cyllien home that afternoon, but we know
that it had gone by the time Haldir returned the following morning.
And we have just found it on the flet directly beneath the building
site where Heral was killed. He studied Cylliens face.
Does no part of what I have said stir any memories?
The elleth shook her head.
Then I would like to try something, said Eowyn.
She took the wax head from the pouch at her waist, and re-attached
it to the body, carefully smoothing over the join. There,
she said, holding the statuette out to Cyllien, take hold
The elleth stretched out her hand.
Eowyn placed it on her palm.
SuddenlyOh, cried Cyllien, oh, valar!she
dropped the wax couple and tried to stand up, but knocked her
chair over, and fell over it, landing awkwardly; thenpanickingshe
crawled away frantically, until she hit the wall and cried out
What is it, Cyllien? Everyone was trying to help
herCamthalion, too, had appeared in the doorwaybut
Legolas reached her first, and knelt down beside her. What
have you remembered? He laid a comforting hand upon her
No, she screamedNo! No!shying
away from him like a frightened animal.
Cami, said Arinna, calmly, bring me my vial
of poppy juice, and a glass of wine; and then fetch a blanket.
She turned to Legolas and Eowyn. Please, my Lord, my Lady,
leave her to me. I will send you word when she is ready to talk.
From the comparative safety of the ruined gatehouse, with his
prisoners safely trussed up in one corner, and his men repairing
their weapons in another, and the women being fussed over by a
healer, and the dwarf at his elbowmuttering that, had he
not been interrupted, he would have killed at least twice the
numberThorkell bogsveigir surveyed the tad-dails stronghold.
It was time to decide their next move. How many did
you kill? he asked.
Three out here, said Gimli, and five inside.
And they had taken eight prisoners. Which leaves at least
fifteen, not counting the ones who were already insideso
maybe twice thatplus the bloody women, who may fight either
wayto our twelve, thought the Beorning.
And you? asked the dwarf.
Mm? Oh, one. Thorkell noticed the expression
on Gimlis face, and added, The one that counted.
The dwarf growled.
Sighing, Thorkell looked up at the sky. It will soon be
dark. And dark is to be avoided. He made a decision.
We must keep them contained until dawn.
Dawn? What about the lassies? The dwarf climbed up
beside him, and gazed out of the broken window.
We will get them out in the morning.
But they are grubbing about on the floor in there, just
skin and boneand dirt, and fleas
But safe until the morning. Look: you saw how she,he
jerked his head towards Annisdefended those things.
If we attack in the dark, and the women fight us, the chances
are that some will get killed; if we leave it until morning, when
we can at least see what we are doing, their odds have got to
be better. What is the worst that can happen to them overnight?
Mmm? The creatures will ravish them againsomething these
women seem quite happy to allow.
Because, said Gimli, as though speaking to an idiot,
they are enchanted.
And one more night will make no difference to that, either.
Remember, we have the babies to get out in one piece, as well.
Gimli sighed heavily. Then, At first light, he conceded.
Good, said Thorkell. In the meantime, there
seem to be two ways into the place, so we will station guards
at both doors; we will send Otkel harthfari to Eryn Valen to fetch
more men; and in the morning, as soon as the sun is over the roof,
we will go in mob-handed.
Oh gods, Lassui! What have I done? sobbed Eowyn.
They had fled to the walkway, just outside Arinnas house.
Legolas drew her close. You have reversed whatever damage
that thing was doing to her, melmenya.
But she was terrified! Eowyn raised her head,
and tears were streaming down her face. I made her remember
No, melmenya. No
Legolas raised a hand and
gently brushed the tears from her cheeks. It was I
who frightened hertouching her. I think she was remembering
I should never have done it, Lassui.
Legolas pulled her into his arms and held her tight. Think
of Haldir, my darling, he said. Think of how he was
fading. That would have happened to Cyllien, too, I am sure of
it. This fear of hers will pass. What Heral did to herwhat
she did to himthose are things that she must to come to
terms with, one way or another, and the sooner she does, the better.
She is in good hands. I have the feeling that Arinna has dealt
with this sort of thing before. He lifted Eowyns chin,
and added, quite sternly, The blame in this, melmenya, lies
with Heral: it was he who created the figures; it was he
who used them to have his way with Cyllien. Not you. You
I wanted to know what had happened between them.
To prove that Cyllien had acted in self defence.
Eowyn shook her head, and fresh tears ran down her cheeks.
To prove that Thorkell acted honourably, Lassui.
To protect Thorkell. Not Cyllien.
He kissed her forehead. Whatever
your motive, Eowyn nín, you did not harm Cyllien.
Trust me. He kissed her again. And the best thing
to do now is keep looking for the truth. Come, my darling; you
wanted to search Herals lodgings, and there is just time.
Did you mean it? asked Myldreth. She had refused
the draught that the dwarven healer had used to calm her sister,
and had joined Thorkell bogsveigir, who was overseeing his men
as they took up their positions for the night.
Mean what?Ligulf, you should be with Kenards
lot. He jogged along the wall, to the other band of men.
The girl followed. That the women will be safer left in
there overnight, she persisted.
Why should I not mean it?
Myldreth shrugged. I do not think you care two silver pieces
about the women.
The Beorning peered in through the doorway. Any sign of
No, sir. And not a sound, either.
Carry on thenyou are right, he said to Myldreth,
"I do not care. But Lord Legolasand his Ladycare
very much, and it is my duty to deliver what my Elvenlords
son desires, even if it means locking horns with his best friend.
The girl nodded, thoughtfully. I have never met anyone
like you, Master Thorkell.
No? He stepped back from the castle wall, and surveyed
the entire ruin, critically. Tell me,he gestured
towards the tad-dail, hidden withinhow did you resist
The girl chuckled. My stone ear.
Your stone what?
It is what my father calls ita stone ear.
My sisters are all musical; they play the cittern, they sing,
they dance. All I hear is noise. Mostly, a very annoying
So their enchantment had no effect on you.
None at all.
I see. Still, it was bravely done.
Thank you. Myldreth edged closer. You knowThorkellwhen
this is over, you and I
She turned, suddenly, staring
at the warriors crowding around the holes in the castle walls.
My gods, she gasped, what are they doing?
Peeing, said the Beorning. Sealing the doors
with their human scent. Well, you never know. It might deter them.
It might, said Myldreth. Yes, that is clever,
Master Thorkell. Very clever indeed.
What are we looking for? asked Legolas. He lifted
the latch and pushed the door open.
Eowyn followed him into Herals dwelling. The room was small,
and dark, and
I have smelled that strange mustiness before, said
Eowyn sniffed. It is just the smell of a mans chambers,
Lassui, when he is not too particular about cleanliness.
I will open the windows.
He pushed the shutters apart, admitting a flood of evening sunlight,
and the couple exchanged glances for, although Herals home
was reasonably tidy, the plates stacked in the sink were dirty,
and the clothing piled upon the table was grubby, and the sheets
on the unmade bed were soiled.
He and Cyllien, said Legolas, were a pair in
Eowyn crossed to the dresser. I hoped that we might learn
more about the wax figurines here, she said, pulling out
one of the drawers. I have asked Master Bawden to question
the other craftsmen, to see if anyone knows how to make the things
safe, but Heral was obviously a master of the lore.
I wonder where he learned it. Legolas searched the
Bawden says that it is handed down, from father to son.
Eowyn opened a cupboard door. Oh, Lassui, look! Beeswax
and,she picked up an intricately carved wooden hairbrushI
will wager that this is Cylliensand that this
is her hair.
And that, said Legolas, pointing to a fine bone comb,
is probably Haldirs.
Eowyn opened another cupboard. Do you think these are love
Legolas selected a brown glass bottle, drew out its cork, andCareful,
Lassui,sniffed its contents. He shook his head. It
smells like an anodyne. He handed it to Eowyn.
She sniffed deeply. Perhaps he gave this to his victims,
to keep them quiet, she said. It would explain why
there were no reports of rapeif the women were drugged,
they might not have known what had happened.
But Cyllien knew, melmenya, said Legolas, picking
up a small vial. He hounded her. No, I still think that
he enjoyed scaring them and making them strugglewell, look
at this. He showed her a monogram moulded into the glass.
This is Master Findecános mark.
Findecáno? But he would never dispense anything
that was not
Medicinal, said Legolas. No. So Heral must
have been sick, melmenya. He replaced the vial.
If it was serious, said Eowyn, thinking aloud, that
might explain why he seemed to be growing more and more reckless.
And, said Legolas, why he suddenly felt
the need for a charm to help arouse him.
Later, in the Banqueting Hall
The final feast of the Harvest Rite was well under way.
On the ceremonial threshing floor, a lovely elleth and a handsome
elf gyrated to the sensuous strains of a flute, acting out in
dance the fertility rite that Legolas and Eowyn would soon be
performing to seal the colonys future. The honoured guests,
seated around the large, ring-shaped table, were enjoying the
spectacle, their spirits clearly rising in anticipation of the
revels that would follow.
Smiling happily, Eowyn turned to Legolasand was shocked
to see him looking pale, and drawn. Lassui! Whatever is
The elf leaned towards her, taking hold of her hand. You
are so beautiful, he whispered, hoarsely, so very,
very desirable, and my loins are aching for you, but,swallowing
hard, he drew her hand down into his groin, and pressed her fingers
to his limp fleshI have a problem, melmenya.