Thorkell bogsveigir

As the sun was burning away the last of the early morning mist, the long column of elves and men wound its way south across the flat Anduin floodplain, following the raised causeway that cut through the marshland east of the river, running parallel to the edge of Greenwood the Great, some ten miles further east.

At the head of the cavalcade the March Warden of Eryn Carantaur led a small detachment hand-picked troops, most of them former Mirkwood elves, familiar with the territory and experienced in dealing with its dangers—including the orcs and Uruk Hai that still roamed the wild central regions of Eryn Lasgalen.

Behind these came Legolas and Eowyn, Gimli and Eomer, followed by their travelling households—lawyers and scholars, healers, cooks and servants—flanked left and right by mounted warriors, and protected by a rearguard of elven archers.

“March Warden, there are—”

“I know,”—Haldir cut the elf off sharply—“keep moving.” He reined in his horse and fell back until he was riding beside Legolas. “We have an escort,” he announced.

“Yes. They have been following us for the past hour—do not look round melmenya, they may not realise that we can see them.”

“Orcs?” asked Eowyn.

Haldir shook his head. “Beornings. Two dozen riders, keeping to the cover of the trees.”

“How can you be sure that they are following us?”

“They were waiting for us,” said Legolas, “just south of The Carrock. And they have been keeping pace with us ever since.”

“What do they want?”

“Their Chieftain,” ventured Gimli, “has just been forced to give up a quarter of his mithril mine to King Thranduil. I would wager he is looking for a chance to save face with a show of force against the King’s son and heir.”

“What should I do?” asked Haldir.

“Nothing as yet,” replied Legolas. “Keep the warriors in check. If there is a first move I do not want it to come from us. I will warn Eomer. Do not look, melmenya!

Shortly after noon, just north of the Old Ford, the cavalcade drew to a halt. The travellers dismounted and, whilst the riders were stretching their legs, the cooks and their assistants hastily set up a field kitchen and began preparing the midday meal.

Haldir had stationed a discreet line of archers between the company and their mysterious shadows and, within minutes, one of the elves reported that the Beornings had left the Forest and were approaching at the gallop. “But I believe that their leader is carrying a white flag, my lord,” he told Legolas.

“So they want to talk…”

“It could be a trick,” warned Gimli.

“I do not think so, elvellon. They are outnumbered more than three to one.”

“Unless they have friends, lurking somewhere else.” Gimli scanned both banks of the river.

“We would see them coming,” said Haldir, though with something less than his usual confidence.

With perfect timing—“They are trying to impress the Riders of Rohan,” said Eomer—the Beornings reined in their mounts and came to a standstill, waiting in battle formation, whilst two of their number trotted forward, white flag raised.

“It is the horse’s arse,” said Haldir, dryly.

“March Warden?” Eomer turned to the big elf in surprise.

Legolas smiled. “He is referring to Thorkell bogsveigir, Chief Bergthórr’s champion,”— he nodded towards the darkly handsome man bearing the white flag—“his behaviour under my father’s roof did not endear him to the March Warden.”

“He is a skirt-chaser and an arrogant fool,” muttered Haldir.

Legolas and Eomer exchanged smiles.

“Shall we go and talk?” said the man.

“Greetings, your Majesty, your Highness,” said Thorkell bogsveigir, bowing low over his horse’s neck. “I am ordered by Chief Bergthórr beytill to see that—for your own safety—you proceed to the Old Ford and cross the river without delay.”

“‘For our own safety’,” said Eomer, crisply. “That sounds like a threat.”

Thorkell bogsveigir’s eyes narrowed, though his expression remained otherwise unchanged. “I assure your Majesty,” he said, “that it is not. Chief Bergthórr is merely concerned that, whilst you are on Beorning land, you should come to no harm. It is well known that orcs frequent these parts—”

“And what makes you think,” asked Eomer, still icily calm, “that we need your protection?”

“Your Majesty has women in his party,” said the Beorning.

“It was already our intention,” said Legolas, diplomatically, “to cross the river at the Old Ford and continue south along the far bank. I see no reason to change our plans.” He placed a hand on his heart and bowed his head. “Good day to you.” He turned Arod’s head.

“There is another matter, your Highness,” said Thorkell bogsveigir. “A private matter between me and one of your followers. May I accompany you to your camp?” He raised his hands. “I am, as you can see, unarmed…”

Legolas and Eomer exchanged glances. “And what is the substance of this matter between you and one of ours, Master Bow-swayer?” asked the man.

Thorkell bogsveigir bowed again—this time making no pretence at humility. “It is, as I said, a private matter, your Majesty, between me and Berryn son of Hador.”

“Who is that man?” asked Eowyn. “He seems familiar.”

Standing supportively at Eowyn’s side as she waited for her husband and her brother to return safely, Berryn son of Hador, cartographer by appointment to the King of Gondor, had no inkling of what was happening on the plain. “His name is Thorkell bogsveigir, my lady,” he said. “He is Chief Bergthórr beytill’s champion, his foremost warrior.”

“Bogsveigir—an archer.”


“You do not like him?”

“I—I was told something about him. In confidence, my lady.”

“By Lady Gunnhildr?”

The young man blushed.

“She is lovely, Berryn,” said Eowyn.

“But much too far above me, my—”

“Why are they bringing him back with them?”

Wait,” said Legolas—and even the arrogant Beorning responded to the steel in the command. The elf swung himself down from the saddle. “Berryn,” he called, “this man claims he has a quarrel with you.”

“With me, my lord?” The cartographer looked up at warrior. “You have no business with me, sir.”

“You are a liar,” said Thorkell bogsveigir, urging his horse forward until he loomed menacingly over the much slighter man. “A coward and a debaucher. You have insulted Chief Bergthórr’s daughter with your attentions and, as her father’s champion, and the lady’s intended, I demand satisfaction.”

For a moment, Berryn stared up at him, open-mouthed. Then he answered, with quiet dignity, “It is true that I am no warrior—for I am a scholar—but I have never treated Lady Gunnhildr with anything but the utmost respect—”

“Will you fight me like a man?”

“I have already admitted that I am not trained to fight,” said Berryn. “What honour is there in killing a man who cannot defend himself?”

Thorkell bogsveigir mouth curled in a sneer. “Then, like a maiden, you must find a champion to die on your behalf—for I will have satisfaction.” He glanced around the dumbstruck travellers. “Who will fight for this coward? Anyone?”

When there was no immediate reaction, the Beorning’s sneer turned to a contemptuous snicker.

Then, “I will,” said a quiet, determined voice.

“Oh melmenya,” whispered Legolas. “No…”



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This takes place a few hours after Next morning.


Showing the Carrock, the Old Ford and the land between.


The Beornings
In case you've forgotten—or haven't read Misrule in Mirkwood—the Beornings have real Viking names and all the men have real 'by-names' (nicknames).

Bergthórr beytill - Bergthórr horse-penis
Thorkell bogsveigir - Thorkell bow-swayer
Heðinn austmannaskelfir - Heðinn, terror of the east-men
Snorri blátönn - Snorri black-tooth
Bjarni bjarki - Bjarni bear-cub
Óttarr in spaka - Óttarr the wise

Chief Bergthórr's children, Bjarni and Gunnhildr, have the 'surnames' Bergthórsson and Bergthórsdottir, 'son of Bergthórr' and 'daughter of Bergthórr'.