legolas and wystan

“Shhh, my love…” She clasped him to her bosom, rocking him back and forth. “It was a dream,” she murmured, “just a dream,”—though she knew that elves did not dream like humans—“shhh, shhh…”

“I could not protect you,” he whispered.

“From what, edhel nín?”

“From the wolf. I tried to shoot, but my arms would not move.”

“You were dreaming of a wolf…”

She said no more; but Legolas, sensitive to the smallest change in her emotions, lifted his head. “Do you know what it means?”

“I—I have heard an old women’s tale.”

“Tell me.”

She hugged him close, shaking her head. “I do not believe it, Lassui.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“Well…” She stroked his hair. “They say that to dream of a wolf foretells treachery. So you should beware.”

“The wolf was attacking you.”

“Then we should both beware.”

There was more to it than Eowyn was saying, he was sure, but Legolas did not question her further.

Instead, once breakfast was over, and the elves and men were busily striking camp, he sought out a member of Eomer’s entourage—an elderly healer named Wystan, a well-loved and respected man, with a reputation for great wisdom.

The old fellow—too frail, now, to help the others—was sitting on a barrel, indulging his dog, a great, grey hound, with a few choice morsels of breakfast meat.

“May I speak with you, sir?” asked Legolas.

The man raised his head and peered at the elf through misted eyes. “Is that Prince Legolas? Yes it is! Please, your Highness… ” He rose, stiffly, offering his seat.

“Oh, no…” Gently, Legolas took him by the arms and helped him down again. “I am quite comfortable sitting on grass, sir.” And he sat, cross-legged, beside the dog, at the old man’s feet.

“Your Highness sounds troubled,” said Wystan, unconsciously turning an ear towards the elf, “very troubled. Is it anything I can help with?”

“I have been told that you understand the meaning of dreams,” said Legolas.

The old man smiled—and, for a moment, his face seemed young again. “My mother was a wise woman, your Highness. Many women—and, in truth, many men, though they under cover of darkness—came to seek her advice—for she could read the future in dreams, and hands, and in the lees of wine… And I was a sickly child, your Highness, and she kept me close by. So I learnt the lore at her knee.”

Legolas patted the dog’s head. “Suppose a man had told your mother that he had dreamed of a wolf, sir. What would she have said?” And he described his dream in detail, though without mentioning Eowyn’s name.

“Was it a wolf or was it a warg?” asked Wystan.

“A wolf,” replied Legolas.

“Hmmm,” said the old man, thoughtfully. “My mother would have told the man this story, your Highness…” He folded his hands in his lap and took a deep breath. “There was once a young woman of Rohan, who married a stranger—a travelling man. They were brought to their marriage bed with all the customary jollity, and the wife, already undressed by her bride’s maids, tried to unlace her husband’s shirt. ‘Will you not let me see you, my dearest?’ she asked.

“But he would not—he blew out the candle, undressed himself in the shadows, and took her in the dark.”

“I do not understand…” began Legolas.

Wystan held up a restraining hand. “Morning came and the couple made no appearance—people smiled. Evening came and there was still no sign of them—some of the men folk began to feel jealous. Three days passed and, at last, the bride’s mother’s curiosity got the better of her. So she sent her son—the girl’s brother—to peer in at the window.”

“And what did he see?” asked Legolas, quietly.

“His sister. Lying naked upon the bed, her throat ripped out—”

“Oh Valar!”

“And a trail of bloody footprints, leading from the bed to the door.”

“The man’s.”

Wystan shook his head. “A wolf’s.”

“A wolf’s?” Legolas frowned. “Are you saying—what?—are you saying that the husband was a shape shifter?”

The old man reached out blindly, found Legolas’ slender shoulders and grasped them, like a mother calming her child. “The tale is just a tale, your Highness,” he said, “that may or may not have happened. But it tells us a great truth: that every man has a wolf inside him—his baser instincts, his desire.”

“The wolf means desire…”


“So the dream means that someone desires my—someone desires the woman.”

“Yes,” said Wystan. “Desires her violently.”



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