eowyn and haldir

When they reached the southern ford, the light was already fading.

“Hold tight, elvellon,” cried Legolas, urging Arod towards the water, “the river has swollen since we crossed it this morning, but I dare not wait…”

Grunting in agreement, Gimli grasped the elf’s belt, and in they plunged. The current was swift, but Arod, brave and sure-footed, quickly crossed the submerged path and climbed the western bank.

Within minutes, they were galloping south.


As the members of the cavalcade were setting up camp for the night—pitching the tents, under Haldir’s direction, within a protective ring of carts and wagons—Eowyn sought out Master Wystan, an elderly healer with great knowledge of local lore.

“You must have heard, sir,” she said, sitting down beside the old man and his wolfhound, “what our scouts have found.” She patted the dog’s head.

“Indeed I have, my Lady,” replied Wystan. He pulled a piece of dried meat from his pocket and, no longer able to see his friend, simply held out his hand and let the dog eat from his palm. “Who could have done such a thing?”

You cannot tell me?”

The old man frowned. “I do not understand, my Lady.”

“I thought…” Eowyn sighed. “I hoped that you might have come across it before—that it might be a charm, or something—”

“Not in Rohan, my Lady,” said Wystan. “Not that I have ever heard.”

“Does it remind you of anything, sir?” she persisted. “Have you ever heard of anything like it—of any tale that talks of something similar?”

The old man frowned, absently patting his dog. “No tale, my Lady, but—but, I suppose it does remind me of the creature in your husband’s dream—the wolf—marking his territory.”

Eowyn nodded. “Yes,” she said, quietly, “that is exactly what I was thinking.”

“Though a wolf, of course, uses its own water. Beasts do not waste their prey.”

They sat in silence. Then the old man turned his sightless eyes upon Eowyn, his face suddenly animated. “A wolf,” he said, “marks the entire boundary of his territory.”

“So there may be more corpses hanging in the Forest.” Eowyn sighed. “Thank you, Master Wystan,” she said, rising to her feet, “I will leave you to your rest—”

“Wait, my Lady!” The old man reached out and clumsily caught her hand. “Remember,” he said, “that a wolf seldom hunts alone.”

“Sick bastards,” said Thorkell bogsveigir.

“You have never heard of anything like it? In Mirkwood? Or around Dol Guldur? Not amongst the men who followed Sauron?”

“Never.” The Beorning looked at her, shrewdly. “What do you intend to do? Your husband,” he added, when Eowyn seemed surprised by his question, “asked me to take care of you.”

“He did not!”

“Yes, he did. ‘With your local knowledge, Master Bowswayer,”—he affected a high voice that sounded enough like Legolas to make Eowyn simultaneously amused and annoyed—“I expect you to give my Lady the benefit of your advice.’”


“Ask him if you do not believe me.”

Eowyn shook her head. “Oh, I am sure that he said something to you, though I doubt that ‘the benefit of your advice’ ever came into it. Of course,” she added, “this phantom order is the one that you intend to follow.”

“To the letter,” said Thorkell. “What do you intend to do?”

“Stay here,” said Eowyn, “where the terrain is flat and open and, if anyone comes, we will see them coming. We shall stay here until Legolas and the others arrive. Does that meet with your approval?”


By the time Eowyn reached the mess tent, having first inspected the improvised defences, and then walked through the camp, reassuring her anxious charges, she was exhausted. Haldir pulled out a folding chair and she collapsed into it.

“Not just now,” said the March Warden, fending off a group of servants hovering nearby. “Your lady needs to rest.”

“But sir,” said one of the women, beckoning him closer, “this is urgent. Little Hob—”

“Hobbie, the baker’s son?” said Eowyn, suddenly alert. “What about him?”

“He’s disappeared, my Lady—vanished. And Averell overheard him asking those two elves all about—well, all about the dead body—so she’s convinced that he’s gone to see it for himself.”

Haldir swore—fortunately in Elvish. “You have searched the camp?”

“Every square inch, Master Haldir. Every tent, cart and wagon. He is not here.”

“The river?”

“No footprints on the bank.”

“Tell Averell to have courage,” said Eowyn, already on her feet. “We will find him.”

Minutes later, Haldir had assembled ten volunteers, including the elves Belegorn and Celeblas. “We will be equipped with flaming torches,” said Eowyn. “Belegorn tells me that the trail is clear for all to see. I want you to search the Forest immediately to the left and right of it, working in pairs—no one is to stray too far from the rest.”

“I know that you do not want to hear this,” said the March Warden, quietly, as the search party was preparing to leave, “but I am going to say it anyway: stay here.”

“Haldir,” hissed Eowyn, in exasperation, “no! Legolas left the cavalcade in my care.”

“Which is precisely why you should not be taking any risks.”

“No, it is precisely why I have to take risks,” she countered. “I cannot stay behind—how could I face these people—give them orders, decide their fate—after proving myself a coward? I must take risks, Haldir, and—oh, no!” She ducked past the March Warden and stalked towards Thorkell bogsveigir, who was limping towards her, carrying his bow. “What are you doing?”

“What your elf told me to do: keeping an eye on you.”

“Thorkell! You can hardly stand! And you certainly cannot use a weapon. No—and that,” she added, guiding him into the mess tent and forcing him to sit down, “really is an order—look at you—you are sweating just from walking!”

“At least wait until dawn,” said the Beorning, wearily.

“I would if I could, believe me. But there is a little boy wandering somewhere in the Forest, Master Bowswayer, and we must find him quickly. A healthy dog will not harm a puppy” she added, quietly, “but a mad dog has no such scruples.”



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