For a split-second, the couple stared at one another,
Then Legolas turned and ran, across the flet and down the spiral
stairs, his hands reaching for his white knives as he descended.
But Eowyn knew, somehow, what had made that terrible sound and
why, and she rushed after him, crying, No, Lassui; Lassui,
wait! She skidded onto the icy landing and, her boots
slipping on the wood, started down the steps.
Hentmirë looked anxiously at the tiny elfling standing on
She knew that the responsible thing would be to take him
straight back to his parents.
But how could she betray a little boys trust?
Well, she began, um,if only Legolas
and Eowyn had come back!um, I think,inspiration
struck herI think that we should go for a walk, Melannen.
Yes, I shall send Rimush to tell your parents that you are safewith
meand then you and I shall go for a walk.
Grey-white and whippet-thin, with a shock of dirty orange hair,
the figure bounded across the snow and, with Legolas in close
pursuit, plunged into the trees.
It was fast.
And used, thought Legolas, to evading predators,
for it darted this way and that, drawing him into the maze of
frosty undergrowth, tangling him in the blackthorns and the brambles.
He was convinced, now, that it was harmless, but he kept his knives
unsheathed, using the flats of the blades to push aside the grasping
branches, and he was just beginning to gain on it, when a sickening
jolt to his spiritMelmenya!told him that something
had happened to Eowyn.
Instantly forgetting his quarry, he streaked back to clearing
and, sheathing his knives, flew up the staircase. My darling!
She was lying awkwardly in the curve of the stairs. He crouched
down beside her. Melmenya?
She lifted her head, and managed a weak smile. I am all
right, Lassui. I just... I fell...
The palms of her hands were bloody but, to his relief, she pushed
them against the step and tried to raise herself, and he knew
that nothing was broken. We must get those cleaned,
he said, and bound up. Let me help you...
He lifted her, gently, into a sitting position.
Just a few bruises on my bottom, she said, shifting
uncomfortably, to go with the grazes on my hands and knees.
I should have been more careful. Can you get me to my feet, Lassui?
He wrapped an arm around her and, with his support, she rose,
and managed to descend the stairs. We must notlet
her get away, she gaspedand Legolas realised that
he had almost forgotten the creature he had been chasing.
He frowned. Her?
We will needthe food the landlady packed for usand
the toy we foundin Melannens bedchamber. Would you
fetch them, Lassui?
Where are we going? asked Melannen, skipping
along beside Hentmirë.
To see a very wise elf, said the little woman. She
led him into a courtyard, just off the main walkway.
Why? He spun around as they crossed the empty space,
looking up at the tiers of narrow balconies, then followed his
Gwanur up a short flight of steps and through a pair of tall,
carved doors. There, he stopped bouncing, and looked about him.
What is this?
They were standing in a very long, very high, very light chamber,
and its walls, which wound between the carantaur trees to form
hundredsMelannen thoughtof little alcoves, were filled
from floor to ceiling with books.
There were red books, and green books, and blue books, and black
This, said Hentmirë, in a whisper, is
the Library, where people from all over Middle-earth come to study,
so we must be very quiet.
She led him between the rows of tables, past a Man who seemed
to be copying a picture from one of the red books. As he passed,
Melannen stopped and, coming up on tiptoe, peered at the Mans
The Man raised his head, and grinned.
Melannen, hissed Hentmirë. Come on.
Melannen grinned back before hurrying to her side.
This, she said, opening another set of doors, is
Ada does not let me go to school, said Melannen.
Why ever not? She waved him through.
Teachers fill young minds with nonsense, he answered,
matter-of-factly. He trains me himself.
Oh, said Hentmirë. Well, you go and sit
at one of those desks by the window, and I will find Master Maglor.
Do you really think the mouse will work? asked Legolas,
crouching down beside Eowyn, whocleaned up but still shaken
from her fallhad already concealed herself behind a clump
of snow-covered bushes, downwind of the clearing.
I am sure, she said, though it is a little
cruel. She looked up through the lacework of branches to
the steel-grey sky beyond. I think it is going to snow again,
Gimli looked up at the steel-grey sky. I think it is going
to snow again, Bowswayer.
Keep still, the Beorning grumbled. He had
agreed, in the absence of the dwarfs usual riding companion,
to let Gimli sit behind him, but he was far from happy with the
arrangement. It does not matter, he added, brushing
a few big flakes from his sleeve, there are no tracks to
get buried; she did not come this way. He urged his horse
onward, following the two Kings and their retinues down into the
Gimli grunted, sympathetically.
The Beorning had reported his nocturnal observations to King
Elessar, who had immediately sent messengers to parley with the
green elves, but the men had found no trace of them in the places
Thorkell had pointed out. Slippery buggers,
Still, Aragorn knows a thing or two about elves, lad,
said Gimli. We will be allied with them by nightfall.
Not if what Thranduil says of them is true, the man
replied. Green elves are the most contrary creatures on
But Aragorn will charm them out of the trees, laddie,
said Gimli, confidently.
Melannen, standing on his chair so that he could trace the grain
of the wooden desktop with his finger, pursed his lips as he thought
it through: Gwanur Hentmirë is taking a very long time.
She must have got lost.
He jumped down from his desk, slipped out of the schoolroom and,
unnoticed by the scholars in the main hall, went to find her.
The snow had started as a gentle swirl of flakes, but now was
falling heavily. Legolas took off his cloak and draped it around
Thank you, she whispered, snuggling into it. If
she does not come back soon, Lassui, our bait will be buried.
Having found the colonys teacher, Master Maglor, in one
of the Librarys most secluded bays, Hentmirë had explained
her predicament. Just what am I to do? she asked.
You must take him back to his parents, my Lady, he
He would not be the first child, he explained, more
gently, who, having been disciplined at home, sought refuge
with friends or relations who have spoiled him in the past, but
Legolas and Eowyn did not spoil him, said
Hentmirë, loyally, they showed him love.
Would you like me to speak to him?
The little woman bit her lip. Well... No, she
said, at last. No. I must break it to him.
Legolas glanced at Eowyn.
She was hunched over, shivering, her gloved hands clasped to
We should get you back to the inn, melmenya, he whispered.
No. She sounded determined. Not yet, Lassui.
Please. Just a few more momentsoh!she
grabbed his arm, and pointed towards the clearinglook!
Legolas peered through the branches. A figurepale and wraith-like
amidst the falling snowhad emerged from the far side of
the clearing and was stalking Melannens toy mouse, which
lay, spread-eagled, on the ground.
Legolas shifted his weight, readying himself to spring, but Eowynher
hand still upon his armtightened her grip. No,
she whispered. Give her a moment to settle, then let me
approach her, slowly.
Have you never caught a bird, my love?
Well, you need to do it slowly.
The creature crawled to the toy, and bent over it, nuzzling and
sniffing. Then it settled back on its haunches andsuddenly
looking almost elvenscooped the mouse up in one of its hands.
Oh, Valar, gasped Legolas. He glanced at Eowyn; her
eyes were filled with tears. You were right, melmenya.
Melannen, Melannen, croaked the broken elleth, pressing
the toy to her cheek and muttering fiercely, dont
let your Ada see; dont let him; dont let him!
Eowyn took the remains of the loaf from the food basket, and
broke off a large piece.
Be careful, my darling...
I shall. She replaced the remainder of the bread
and, hitching up her two cloaks, worked her way around the bushes
and edged into the clearing, holding the food out at arms
Naughty boy, naughty boy, the elleth was chanting
now, but Carafin will hide it; Carafin will put it away...
Eowyn moved closer.
Carafins head jerked round. Ssssssss,
she hissed, dropping to her hands and knees, ssssssss,
Eowyn stood her ground and, smiling, held out the bread.
Legolas, behind the bushes, fitted an arrow to his bow, and took
Then Carafins body relaxed; she eyed the food.
Eowyn inched a little closer.
Suddenly the elleth lashed outLegolas almost loosed his
arrow but Eowyn immediately raised both hands to signal that Carafin
had simply taken the breadand she bounded back to the centre
of the clearing and, sitting upon the snow, demolished the food
in great bites, chewing it hard, and smacking her lips appreciatively.
Keeping her movements slow and her gestures small, Eowyn sat
down beside her.
More, said the elleth. Mmm. More.
Lassui, said Eowyn, not taking her eyes off the elleth
for a second, would you fetch the rest? He is bringing you
some more, she explained. No, no, there is no need
to be afraid. He will not hurt you.
For the second time, Hentmirë opened and searched each of
the schoolroom cupboards. No, he has vanished...
Perhaps he has gone home, my Lady, to his parents,
No... Hentmirë sat down on one of the little
chairs and rubbed her forehead. No, he would not have done
that. He would have waited for me, and asked me to take him back.
No, he has run away, Master Maglor. He must have overheard us,
somehow, and he has run away. She looked up at the elf.
I have let him down.
Oh, my Lady, no. He sat down beside her. You
must not reproach yourself! You made the right decision. But now
we must try to find the little fellow, and as quickly as possible.
You know him better than Iwhere do you think he might have
Hentmirë frowned. Well... We had a nice time at
the market, the other day, she said, slowly, and he
made some friends when he played in the gardens, but,she
shook her headI think he will have gone to Legolas
and Eowyns house. Yes, I think he will be waiting for his
Breaking one of the landladys cheese pasties in half, Eowyn
handed a piece to Carafin, and took a bite from the other piece
Nice! muttered the elleth, chewing noisily. Nicenicenice!
Whatever are we going to do with her, Lassui?
Legolas sighed. I have absolutely no idea, melmenya.
He had removed Brightstars saddle and had brought it back
to the clearing for Eowyn to sit on. She must have been
living here, he said, laying it on the ground, on
her own, since the Orc attack
ORCS! wailed Carafin. Filthy, filthy
Shhhh, said Eowyn, taking an apple from the
basket and giving it to her.
Mmm, said Carafin, dribbling apple juice down
her chin, mmmmmmmmm!
We will soon run out of food, Lassui.
Legolas crouched down beside his wife and said, very softly,
We must take her back with us.
Can we? Do you think the Valar will let us?
I think we have to try.
Carafin, meanwhile, had finished the apple and was looking as
though she might crawl away. Eowyn quickly found her some cheese.
How shall we persuade her to come with us?
Not going, said the elleth, taking a huge bite. Not,
She understands us, Eowyn mouthed. Then, Why not?
she asked Carafin, gently.
The elleth hurled the piece of cheese at her and scuttled away,
scrambling over the remains of the garden until she came to one
of the rectangular mounds and there, working frantically, she
scraped away the snow to reveal a pile of stones.
Oh gods, murmured Eowyn.
A burial cairn, whispered Legolas.
Melannen, said Carafin.
Arador laid down his pen, and leaned back in his chair, shrugging
his stiff shoulders.
He had been workingon a problem that Lord Fingolfin had
set himsince the Library had opened, he had had no breakfast,
and his stomach was beginning to protest. It was time to wander
over to the marketplace for hot pie and peas. He returned his
book to its shelf, put his pen and papers in his pigeon hole,
checked that his money pouch was still hanging from his belt,
and went to the cloakroom to collect his greatcoat and scarf.
As he wound the scarf around his neck, bending forward slightly,
he spotted a little foot sticking out from beneath the row of
cloaks. Hello, he said.
The foot disappeared.
Arador pulled a cloak aside.
He was expecting to find the cheeky little elfling who
had grinned at him earlier; what he was not expecting was
to find the child crying. He crouched down beside him. What
are you doing under here? he asked, kindly.
The boy sniffed. Hiding.
Hiding? Arador sat down beside him and, shoving
the cloak aside, leaned back against the wall. Why are you
hidingmy name is Arador, by the way. He held out a
hand, but the elfling looked at it suspiciously. What is
Why are you hiding, Melannen?
I am waiting for Gwanur Eowyn and Gwanur Legolas to come
Oh... Arador had heard rumours that Legolas and Eowyn
had rescued an Elven child from somewhere near the Mountains of
Mordor. I thought they had sent for your parents,
The elfling sighed, and Arador almost laughed, for it was such
a world-weary sound. Ada is cross with me.
Oh... Arador knew what that felt like. What
about your mamayour Nana?
The elfling frowned. Nana is cross too, when Ada is there.
So you are hiding here until Legolas and Eowyn come back...
Gwanur Eowyn never gets cross, said Melannen.
She plays with me, and we read books, and Gwanur Legolas
is teaching me archery, and Gwanur Hentmirë tells
I see, said Arador. He was still young enough to
remember what it was like to receive a disappointment and feel
that the world was coming to an endand, besides, his stomach
was growling. Would you like some pie and peas, Melannen?
Hentmirë, having searched Legolas and Eowyns chambers
from top to bottom and found no trace of the missing elfling,
collapsed into a chair and buried her face in her hands.
There is nothing else for it, she muttered. I
shall have to tell his parents that I have lost him.
She must have been living here, whispered Legolas,
all alone, since the Orcs attacked and killed Melannen.
And it has driven her out of her mind.
Carafin had settled herself upon the burial cairn and, arms clasping
the rocks like the body of her dead child, was crooning a lullaby.
Oh, Lassui, sobbed Eowyn.
Legolas pulled her into his arms, and let her cry against his
Could Carafin have buried him herself? he wondered, stroking
Eowyns damp hair. She does not seem capable. He glanced
around the clearing, looking again for any signs of other survivors.
We cannot take her away from him, Lassui, Eowyn sobbed.
It would destroy what little is left of her.
Legolas pressed his lips to the top of her head. We would
have to take Melannens body with us.
Could you do that? She shifted in his arms,
leaning back to look up at him. Dig him up? His little bones...
She shook her head. She would not let you. She would tear
your eyes out.
We cannot leave her here, melmenya. Not like this.
She needs people to care for her. Elves. We need to restore
the settlement, Lassui.
Restore the settlement.
Was that it? His important task?
Legolas drew Eowyn back to the middle of the clearing and sat
her down on Brightstars saddle. But this is not our
world, melmenya, he said, crouching beside her. And
we are only here so that we can stop this happening there.
Unless... He frowned, thinking about what she had said.
How are you feeling, melmenya? Physically? Tell me the truth.
Well, I am stiff and sore,she sniffed, wiping
the tears from her face and cold. But I am all right,
He nodded. Then this is what we are going to do...
Here, said Arador, setting a plate of steaming food
in front of the elfling, tuck in.
The market was busy, but they had managed to find a table next
to the flet wall, with a wooden canopy to keep off the snow. Arador
sat down opposite Melannen and, taking up his spoon, gestured
towards the boys plate. Go on, he said, its
Melannen poked the mountain of meat pie. Ada says that
you should never take more than you need.
Well, said Arador, scooping up a spoonful of food
and shovelling it into his mouth, you eat as much
as you need and I will eat the rest, andthat waynothing
will be wasted. He took another mouthful and, chewing it,
looked at the elfling, curiously. It would be just like some
haughty, aristocratic elf, he thought, to lecture the kid
on self restraint, but overlook the basics. Did your
Ada never teach you to say thank you?
Gwanur Legolas, said Melannen, says that we
should not eat animals unless there is nothing else. But Ada says
that the Valar made the animals for us to eat, as long
as we give thanks, and do not overdulge.
Over indulge, said Arador. Hmm...
And what do you think?
I think the pie is nice...
A young waitress swept up to their table and, deftly setting
down a jug of hot apple juice, leaned over to Arador, and whispered,
I finish at six oclock.
Arador smiled up at her.
Is she your hervess? asked Melannen, watching
her move to the next table.
My wife? Arador laughed. No, Elfledas
just a friend. He poured out two goblets of juice and pushed
one towards Melannen. Right, he said, suddenly serious,
tell me how you came to be hiding in the library.
Legolas laid three dead rabbits on the ground.
Eowyn, sitting beside the camp fire, stretched out a hand and
stroked the nearest carcase. Poor little things.
I know. But I could find nothing else, melmenya, and you
need some food to keep out the cold. Do you know how to clean
She nodded. My uncle taught me on my first hunting trip.
He drew one of his white knives and, spinning it, offered her
the handle. Use this. Then he sat down beside her
and, drawing the other knife, began whittling a piece of wood,
shaping it into a spit. How is she?
Carafin had stopped singing but she was still lying on the burial
No better, said Eowyn, carefully slitting the rabbits
skin and peeling it back, but at least she has not run away.
I think she must spend most of her time like that. She made
a small hole in the snow and, opening the animals belly,
removed the contents, and buried it. Then, taking another handful
of snow, she scoured out the cavity. The first one is ready,
Legolas threaded the carcase onto the spit and suspended it over
the fire. Can you manage the rest yourself, Eowyn nín?
I will find us somewhere to sleep. He crossed the
clearing, keeping well away from Carafin so as not to scare her,
anddeliberately ignoring the remains of Melannens
housesearched the Forest until he found another staircase,
and climbed up.
This house had been much larger than Melannens, spreading
across several trees, with a number of small bed chamberspresumably
for servantsat the very highest level. Amongst these he
found exactly what he was looking for: a tiny room with its walls
and roof still intact, and with enough lumber to block up the
door and windows, and make the place reasonably snug and safe.
With his cloak as a mattress, Brightstars saddle as a pillow,
and horse blankets and his shared body warmth to keep out the
cold, Eowyn should have a reasonably comfortable night. He cleared
the couch and barricaded the windows. Then he descended the stairs
and ran back to the clearing.
Eowyn had finished cleaning the rabbits, and had strung them
on the spit. I tried coaxing Carafin with another apple,
she said, as he sat down, but she was not interested.
She has probably eaten her fill for the time being, melmenya.
I doubt she is used to having so much, so easily.
Do you think he will help her, Lassui?
Legolas plan was to spend the night in the Forest, question
Carafin again in the morning, thenwhether they had learned
anything valuable from her or notreturn to the inn and,
from there, send a messenger to his doublethe Legolas of
the shadowlandtelling him about the ruined settlement and
asking him to send someone to take care of the elleth. He would
word it as a warning, pointing out that the region was vulnerable
to attack from anyone still lurking in Mordor, and suggesting
that it would be a sensible precaution to establish a small permanent
guard post there.
We can do no more for her than that, he said turning
the wooden spit, unless we are prepared to kidnap her. And
the people of the Daw Valley have no reason to shelter her, so
we would either have to find someone trustworthy, and pay them
to take her to Eryn Carantaur, or take her there ourselvesand
that would leave the elves in our own world unprotected for several
He had found a pewter cup in the kitchen of the ruined house,
and he scrubbed it out, then filled it up with clean snow, and
pushed it into the embers to warm. I just wish, he
said, that the Valar had told me
Eowyn grabbed his arm and squeezed it, urgently.
He turned, and gasped.
Carafin was crouching down beside them, holding out Melannens
Thank you, said Eowyn, taking it, and pressing it
to her bosom.
Carafin settled down next to her. Orcs, she
said, bitterly. Orcs came. Night night,in a
sing-song voicenight night, sleep tight, Melannennight
Suddenly, she sprang forward on all fours, roaring, tearing up
handfuls of snow and throwing them into the fire: Orcs came,
she screamed. ORCS CAME!
Melannens father, seated at the table, stared at Hentmirë
like a judge examining a prisoner. I cannot believe what
I am hearingRoseth, control yourself.
His wife was weeping softly.
He really cannot have gone far, said the little woman.
In Carhilivren she had been a person of some importance, and she
was drawing upon all her past experience now, meeting the gaze
that threatened to bore a hole in her skull. I have spoken
to Captain Golradir and to March Warden Haldir, and their soldiers
are searching the city for him. It is just a matter of time until
they find himas I said, he cannot have gone far
Roseth whimpered, and Hentmirës concentration broke.
She turned to the elleth. I am so sorry...
If anything has happened to to my son, said
Túon, with cold fury, I shall insist that your incompetence
Someone like that doesnt deserve a kid, muttered
Having arranged for Elfleda to join them at the end of her shift,
he had brought Melannen home to his tiny lodgings in the Library
courtyard. The elfling had promptly fallen asleep, curled up with
Niben, in the middle of the bed.
From what youve told me, said Elfleda, who
was roasting chestnuts on the fire, hes not actually
a bad father, just a bitwellstrict. And his mothers
His mothers nice to him, but only when that tyrant
isnt there to stop her, said Arador. Otherwise,
its no toys, no playing with friends, no going to schoolits
a wonder the poor kid isnt deranged
Are you sure youre not confusing him with your own
Arador ignored the question. Its obvious why he wants
to be with Eowyn.
Well, of course, anyone would want to be with Eowyn,
said Elfleda. Lets just hope she doesnt bend
over and give him a sun tan.
Arador stared at her, uncharacteristically speechless.
The girl shrugged. Sometimes your Eowyn-worship gets a
bit annoying. She poked at the chestnuts. So what
are you going to do with him?
Let him hide here.
Oh, for the gods sakes!
Youre supposed to be clever, a bloody scholar
Just imagine what that bastard will do if he goes back.
The kid will be twenty before he sees daylight again!
Arador! It is not for you to come between them!
This Túon is not your father! And do you honestly think
that even Eowyn will let you stay here if she finds out youve
stolen a child? Youll be sent back home before you can say
Im a donkey-prickand thats if they dont
lock you up and throw away the key. She dropped the toasting
fork and pounced on him, grasping his shoulders and shaking him
The boy sighed. All right, he conceded, shrugging
her hands off. Ill see if I can persuade him to go
back of his own accord. But I wont force him.
Legolas finished barricading the door and, climbing onto the
couch beside Eowynall bundled up in horse blanketstook
her in his arms and settled down to rest.
He had just begun to drift into reverie when something cold brushed
against his chest.
Icy fingertips grazed his flesh as they slid down to his waist.
Ignoring his bodys immediate response, Legolas grasped
Eowyns hand. Now is not the time, my darling,
he said, softly.
Her voice was muffled by the cloaks. The Valar only knew how
she had managed to free her handor how she expected him
to find his way to her. It is too cold, melmenya.
You will warm me up.
Her hand slipped inside his leggings, and Legolas held out for
a moment longer. Thenmuttering Wanton...he
rolled over onto his back and, closing his eyes, let her stroke
AAAAAAAAAARGH! Carafins angry scream
pierced the night.
The couple sprang apart, then froze, transfixed by a second
noisethe sound of short, rasping breaths.
Orcs, whispered Eowyn.
Legolas scrambled to his feet, doing up his leggings. Stay
here, melmenya, he cried. Bar the door behind me!