haldir, legolas, eowyn and gimli

“How do you know so much about them, Lassui?” asked Eowyn, softly.

“I think,” said Legolas, “that the gaur told me.” He frowned, trying to remember the exact moment when he had become aware of the knowledge. “Or, rather, that when the gaur invaded my mind, it also revealed something of its own nature. But, come, melmenya,”—he rose to his feet, and held out his hands—“we have much to do.”

Gimli and Osgar, having volunteered to stay behind and guard the prisoners, bound the unconscious human to the tree, beside his changeling friend.

Eowyn mounted Arod—who had galloped, bravely, to his master’s aid—and she and Legolas, with the remainder of the search party, hurried back to the river. By the time they reached the encampment, dawn was already breaking.

Legolas surveyed the ring of overturned wagons protecting the tents. “You did well, melmenya,” he said. “March Warden, have everyone gather outside the mess tent. As quickly as possible.”

When all the travellers had assembled, the elf sprang up onto one of the carts and addressed them.

“I do not need to describe to you,” he said, “the danger that now faces us.”

A murmur rippled through the crowd.

“Very shortly, we will be moving up onto the flets, where we will all be safe. But the climb will be taxing, and space will be short, so I ask you to take nothing with you but a blanket and the rations that the cooks will give you as you leave. Everything else—everything—must be left here in the tents. Once we have dealt with the goer, we will return, collect our belongings, and continue on our journey.”

At that, a few of the Rohirrim began muttering, but no one went so far as to complain out loud.

Legolas went on. “Before we leave the camp, I have a favour to ask of you.” He held up his betrothal ring, so that everyone could see it. “A gaur may be killed, it is said, by silver. Princess Eowyn and I will be giving our silver jewellery to the arrowsmiths, to be melted down and cast into arrow heads. I ask all of you to do the same.”

Now there were protests—“How do we know that silver will work?” asked one; “What if you melt it down for nothing?” grumbled another—but a tall, dark, limping figure pushed his way to the front.

“Here,” said Thorkell bogsveigir, tugging at the chain about his neck. “Use this.”

Less than an hour later, the crowd of travellers—each of them carrying a blanket, and food rations wrapped in a cloth—had begun filing into the Forest, led by the two Lorien elves, Belegorn and Celeblas, and helped by the other warriors, who were transporting the elderly and the injured on stretchers, or lifting them onto horseback and leading them down the trail.

Eowyn hurried along the line of people looking for Hobbie, for she had promised to give him her hunting knife.

“My Lady!”

She turned. One of the servants was following her. “Oh, er, Heryeth, and,”—she glanced at the little boy clinging to his mother’s skirts—“Cuthbert…”

“Yes, my Lady.” The servant curtsied, clumsily. “My Lady, I know as—”

“I am afraid I am rather busy, Heryeth—”

“But it’s the little un, my Lady.” The woman pushed her son forward. “Lord Legolas said as we wasn’t to take nothing with us, ma’am, but Cuthbert—he can’t sleep without his horsie.”

“Oh.” Eowyn looked down at the boy. “Well,” she said, “in that case…” She crouched down beside him. “Can I see your horsie, Cuthbert?”

Shyly, the child held out a small, shapeless toy, made from sack cloth and wool.

“Does he fit into your pocket?”

He nodded.

“Well, put him in there,” she said, “and keep him nice and safe until you are up in the trees.” She smiled at his mother and, to her surprise, saw a familiar figure rush past, behind her.

“Oh, what do you say, Cuthbert,” said Heryeth. “Thank you, my Lady."

But Eowyn was already hastening away.

“Legolas!” Eowyn pushed her way through the crowd, trying to catch up with the elf. They had arranged to meet at the arrowsmiths’ forge, where he would be examining the first castings, so she was surprised to see him disappear into the Healing Tent.

I was right! she thought. That scratch on his arm is deep, and it was bleeding badly. He must have decided to ask Master Dínendal to bind it properly.

Inside the Healing Tent, Thorkell bogsveigir was making a fuss. “I do no need a bloody stretcher,” he growled at the elves who had come to carry him up onto the flets. “I can walk as well as you can!”

“Can you climb?” asked Eowyn. She smiled at Legolas, and was relieved to see him smile back.

“Up stairs?” The man raised his eyebrows.

“But can you shoot?” asked Legolas, mischievously.


“Let him walk,” said Eowyn to the elves. “There are people who deserve your help.” The Beorning gave her an impudent salute, and limped out of the tent.

Master Dínendal, meanwhile, had sat Legolas down on one of the beds and was carefully unravelling Eowyn’s improvised dressing.

She came up behind the healer. “It is a deep scratch,” she said, hovering at his elbow. “From the gaur’s claws. And it looked as though there was some sort of dirt in it…”

“My Lady,” said Dínendal, “would you be so kind as to fetch me some clean water from one of the pitchers outside? Rothinzil will give you a bowl.”

“Oh… Yes, of course.”

Dínendal turned back to Legolas. “Did the gaur—”

No,” said Legolas, quickly. “It did not.”

“You are quite sure—”


“—because I understand that they can cloud their victims’ minds—”

“I am certain.”

“Good.” The healer nodded. “Then all should be well—ah, thank you, my Lady. Please put it on the table.”

Gently supporting Legolas’ arm, he peeled back the final layer of silk.

Eowyn gasped. The wound had closed, but the skin surrounding the ragged scab was red and angry—and she could not recall ever having seen elven flesh inflamed before. “I told you that it was deep, Master Dínendal,” she said, “and dirty.”

“Elven bodies, my Lady,” said the healer, selecting a small vial and adding a few drops of reddish liquid to the bowl of water, “heal much more readily than human.”

“Yes, I know,” said Eowyn, “but…” She smiled, nervously. “So, are you saying that it is all right?”

“There is no cause for worry. This tincture will cool it.” He dipped a pad of clean cloth into the fluid and gently bathed the wound. “Once I have renewed the dressing, my Lord, you should have no difficulty drawing a bow.”

Legolas handed the silver arrowhead back to the smith. “Have it set on a shaft,” he said. “I want to test it before you cast any more.”

He gestured to Eowyn, and they drew aside to wait, watching the cooks’ assistants as they handed out food parcels to the waiting travellers. “We will soon see if Master Dínendal is right about drawing a bow, melmenya.”

“How does it feel?”

“Warm. But otherwise fine.” He smiled down at her. “Did you find Hobbie?”

“No…” she said, frowning. “But I did find Haldir, and he and I set some of the horses free. I thought they would be safer if they were able to run away from the gaurs—”


Goer, then. But when everyone has been moved, Lassui, I think we should turn the other horses loose, too.”

Legolas nodded, thoughtfully. “Good thinking.”

“I also sent Osbert and Liulf with a message for Eomer,” she continued. “I have asked him to come as quickly as he can, but warned him to be cautious.”

Legolas smiled. “Good.”

And I hid our betrothal contract in the iron chest.” Her hand went to the key, hanging around her neck. “The goer will have to break the lock to get at it.”

Legolas laughed. “I very much doubt that they are interested in papers, melmenya!”

“Well, you can never be too,”—she reached out, and caught hold of his hand—“you must not scratch your arm, my darling!”

By nightfall, everything was ready.

They had moved the travellers, including the injured, up onto the highest of the flets, and made them as comfortable as possible.

“I wish,” said Haldir, “that we were in Caras Galadhon itself. The city talans are more like the sort of dwelling humans are used to.”

Legolas nodded, gravely. “Well, we have no time to build walls and handrails, mellon nín. Select your three least capable archers and have them patrol the upper flets. Tell them to keep everyone away from the edge, and to look out for any signs of trouble—men arguing, boys in high spirits—anything that might end in a fall.”

“We can ill afford to lose warriors.”

“I know,” said Legolas. “But the last thing we want is for one of the children to drop straight into the hands of the goer.”

He crossed to the next flet, where the fletchers, using the arrowheads cast earlier, were making up the special, silver-tipped arrows. “Good work, Master Mahtan.”

“Thank you, my Lord.”

“Keep it up…”

He descended to the lower ring of flets, where he had stationed all available archers—including Eowyn—overlooking the tree to which the two prisoners were lashed. “Anything?”

Gimli, waiting at the top of the stairs with a small band of hand-picked axemen, shook his head. “No. Though the changeling may have perked up a bit…”

“Perhaps he senses that the gaur is close.”

“That is exactly what I was thinking.”

Legolas patted his shoulder. “Good luck, elvellon.”

“Aye. And you, elf.”

Legolas crossed the flet and took his place beside Eowyn.

“Celeblas just caught Master Dínendal sneaking down to check on the prisoners,” she whispered.

Legolas sighed. “Where is Dínendal now?”

“I sent him up aloft, and made him give me his word that he would stay there until you or Haldir sent for him.”

Legolas nodded. “Good.” He took his bow from its strap and drew it slowly, testing its action. Then, “Melmenya,” he said, softly, “please do not look at me like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like you expected to see fur sprouting from my arm at any moment.”

“Lassui!” she hissed. “I am not—”

“Yes you are. And there is no need. I know that you went to see Master Wystan, and I think I know what you asked him, but—whatever he may have told you—there is only one way for an elf to become a gaur, and that…” He saw the look of horror on her face, and gasped, “What?

Look,” she said.

He turned, following her gaze. To the east, the Forest was aglow.

“Fire!” cried one of the warriors.

And the word travelled, from flet to flet, growing louder and more frightened with each repetition: “FIRE! FIRE! FIIIIRE!



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Gaur … werewolf