thorkell bogsveigir

She is his weakness, thought Thorkell bogsveigir, watching his new lord take off his cloak and wrap it around the woman’s shoulders. To defeat him, all a man needs to do is get rid of her—


One of his new comrades, a grinning, empty-headed elf named Valandil, patted him on the shoulder. “Come, help me prepare Lady Eowyn’s shelter.”

Reduced to serving in My Lady’s bedchamber. I will be emptying the pot next…

He followed the elf reluctantly, grumbling, This is not warrior’s work, whilst he helped Valandil erect the wooden walls and hammer in the pegs that held down the tented roof. “Why is a woman allowed to use us like this?”

The elf fussed with the canvas door. “What do you mean, use us?”

“If she must have a bedchamber, why do the servants not build it?”

“Lady Eowyn never asked for a shelter,” said Valandil. “It was Camthalion’s idea to build it for her—to give her some privacy. Women,” he explained, coming up beside Thorkell and gently taking the wooden mallet from his hands, “need to—do things.”

Frowning, the man watched the elf pull out the peg he had just knocked in, angle it, and drive it back home. “What things?” he asked—already fearing the worst.

“Well, they must wash and dress, morning and night,” said Valandil, repositioning another peg, “and,” he lowered his voice, “you will know this better than I, Thorkell—women have monthly things.”

The man shuddered. “Why would I know about that?”

The elf looked up in surprise. “Have you never—er—had a woman?”

“Of course I have!”

“Then how can you not know?”

Thorkell ran his hand through his hair. “A man does not… A man… Orcs’ bollocks!—women keep all that stuff to themselves, thank the gods.” He seized the mallet, gave several of the pegs a good, hard knock, then handed it back to the elf.

“But… What if it happens when you are with her?” asked Valandil.


“What if she starts having it when you are with her?”

“She takes herself off somewhere and deals with it—I do not know.” He raised a hand to cut off any further discussion. “You people are…” He gestured, as though pushing Valandil away.

“He is a troublemaker,” said Haldir, setting down his tankard. Legolas and Eowyn, sitting either side of him, followed his gaze to where Thorkell bogsveigir appeared to be arguing with Valandil. “Since he took the oath there has been one mishap after another. Setting loose the horses—”

“Fortunately,” said Legolas, “elven horses do not stray too far.”

He did not know that. Then he tried to seduce Rothinzil—”

Legolas laughed. “He might as well have set his cap at Gimli—I simply meant, elvellon,” he added quickly, to the dwarf on his right, “that Rothinzil has eyes for no one but Master Dínendal just as you have eyes for no one but Lady Galadriel.”

Gimli grunted.

“Then,” continued Haldir, “there was the fire in the Mess tent. I am convinced that that was his doing.”

“But you have no proof.”

“No. I did, however, see him drop Orodreth’s bow in the river.”

“That may have been, as he claimed, an accident.”

“He is an archer,” said Haldir, “and, though it pains me to say it, a bowman of considerable skill. That is not the sort of accident an archer has.” He folded his arms. “He never disobeys outright. He just—”

“I am so sorry, March Warden,” said Eowyn. “I should have asked your permission—”

“No, no.” Haldir shook his head. “I am sorry, Eowyn, I did not mean to imply that… You are Legolas’ consort—the joint leader of the colony—you have a perfect right to appoint a man to the Border Guard.”

“But you are the one who has to discipline him. I should at least have sought your advice.” She smiled sadly at the March Warden. “I will speak to him tomorrow.”

“That will not be necessary—”

“Yes,” said Eowyn firmly, “it will—oh, I will not mention anything you have just said—I will not mention you at all. There are other things I need to discuss with him.”

Legolas and Haldir exchanged glances.

“Leave it to the Shieldmaiden, March Warden,” said Legolas.

Next morning

“My Lady.” Thorkell bogsveigir bowed. “Prince Legolas and the March Warden ask you to join them—they are at the river’s edge, watering the horses.”

Eowyn, sitting beside the fire, eating breakfast with her brother and Gimli, handed the remains of her porridge to the dwarf and rose. “Is there a problem down there, Master Bowswayer?”

“Not that I know of.” The man turned to leave.

“Wait.” Her voice was commanding. Thorkell, realising that his manner had been less than respectful, assumed that she would rebuke him. Instead, she said, “Will you walk with me?”

He raised an eyebrow. Then, composing his face in what he hoped was an expression of meek subservience, he turned towards her. “Your servant, my lady.” He gestured for her to take the lead and followed her through the maze of thorny furze bushes that filled the sloping river bank.

They had gone no more than a few yards—though were well out of her brother’s earshot—when she suddenly rounded on him. “You need not do that with me,” she said.

“My Lady?”

“Try to hide your nature. I know you. I fell—twice—beneath your sword, and beat you the third time—I have seen your spirit, Thorkell bogsveigir. You have not an ounce of humility in you. You do not even know how to counterfeit.”

Then why did you make me your servant?

“I did not.” There was real anger in her voice now. “I offered you a position of honour—in days past men were proud to serve an elven lord.”

“The days of Bëor are truly passed, Lady. Your elf is no Finrod Felagund.”

“How dare you!” She flushed crimson. “Are you saying that Legolas is no more worthy a lord than Bergthórr beytill? Are you saying—?

“Bergthórr! Bergthórr is nothing but a…” He caught his tongue just in time.

“A what?” she demanded.

Thorkell laughed, mirthlessly. What did it matter now? “Bergthórr beytill is a small man with small ambitions. Horse penis my arse! The man cannot get a rise unless he is whipped by a whore—”

“Sir,” said Eowyn icily, “you say too much.”

She glanced this way and that, to check, he supposed, that neither her brother nor her husband was watching, then—taking him, he had to admit, by surprise—she grasped the front of his jerkin. “You have the opportunity to serve a great lord, Master Bowswayer; to fight beside elves—elves, you fool; to use elven weapons, to learn elven skills. You have the chance to become a better man than you are; to make Middle Earth a better place to live in. I have given you that chance. If you betray me Master Bowswayer—if you fail Legolas—I will break you.” She released him. “Now, return to your comrades.”

Seething, Thorkell bogsveigir tramped back to the encampment. That, he thought, is no lady. That is a man in skirts.



Back to main Challenge page


challenge story 1

Last part



Next part



This starts the morning after So lucky.