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the ghosts

Exactly one year later

Legolas stepped out into the damp evening air and, patting the cloak draped over his arm, surveyed the line of pumpkin lanterns, carved by Eowyn and little Melannen, that ran past the door and up the curving staircase leading to their private garden flet.

Night was drawing in, and a light mist was rising from the ground. The grinning faces—some cheerful, some rather less than welcoming—glowed brightly in the gloom and, despite his misgivings, the Elf smiled.

She has arranged the lanterns, he thought, like a trail of bread crumbs, luring her quarry to her lair.

He ran lightly up the stairs, and crossed the flet to where his wife was already waiting, perching uncomfortably upon a wooden chair, for she was cold but would never have admitted it. “Put this on, Melmenya,” he said, draping the cloak about her shoulders, “to please me.”

“Thank you...” She gathered up the fabric, and held it close to her body. “I know you do not want me to do this, Lassui—”

“It is only that I do not want you to be disappointed, Melmenya.”

“I know, my love. I know. But he is lonely, Lassui, and tonight is his only chance.”

Legolas sat down beside her and, tilting his head to catch her eye, he smiled. “I do hope he comes, Melmenya,” he assured her, gently.

She nodded, and then—with a little start—she turned towards the stairs, but it was only their servant, Galathil, bringing two goblets of smoking mulled ale.

“Good,” said Legolas, handing one to Eowyn, then touching the other to hers in a refined version of the tankard-banging he had seen in the Mead Halls of Rohan. “It is a cold night,” he explained. “Let us at least stay warm.”


They waited, side-by-side, occasionally exchanging a few quiet words but, mostly, sitting in silence and, as the hours passed, the mist grew thicker—damper and colder. Legolas, who did not feel the cold himself, but had—since the first terrible time he had nursed her through a chill—developed an irrational fear for Eowyn’s health, was considering picking her up and carrying her indoors, when she grasped his arm, and gestured towards the stairs.

Legolas turned, his gaze following her pointing hand...

And there was no longer any room for doubt.

Two slender columns of denser, whiter mist were floating up the stairs and advancing along the line of lanterns, and—even had they not looked like disembodied spirits—he would have sensed their nature immediately.

Eowyn, less awed than her Elven husband at that moment, sprang to her feet. “Who are you,” she demanded, “and what do you want?”—because, as the figures drew closer and their forms grew more distinct, it became obvious that both were female.

Your cousin says that you will help us,” said one of the women, in a strange, echoing voice.

“Theodred,” said Eowyn, glancing at Legolas with a mixture of triumph and relief. “Where is he? Is he with you?”

He cannot come to you tonight...


Her disappointment was tangible. Legolas wrapped a comforting arm around her, and brought her close. “Who are you, my Ladies?” he asked.

Two lost spirits...” replied the first woman.

...denied a proper burial...” her companion continued.

...and turned away from the Halls of our Ancestors.”

Legolas’ hold on his wife tightened. “And what do you think Eowyn can do to help you?” he asked.

Find our remains...

...and bury them.”

“Where?” asked Eowyn, and Legolas could hear genuine concern in her voice. “Where do your remains lie?”

We do not know.”

“Who are you?” Legolas asked again.

The spirits shifted, twisting towards each other as though conferring, then replied, in unison, “We have forgotten...


He—the one who killed us—has stolen our names.”

“Then how can you expect us to find you?” asked Legolas.

Your cousin says that you will help us,” the first woman repeated, appealing directly to Eowyn.


“We will do what we can for you,” said the Elf, holding his wife back. “Where did you dwell, in life?”


Eastfold!” said Eowyn, excitedly. She tried to break free; Legolas held her fast.

“What else do you remember?” he asked. “Are you sisters? Or cousins, perhaps? What was your father’s name? Do you remember that?”


“When were you mur—I mean—when did you die?” asked Eowyn.

But at that—whether because of the nature of her question, or because their allotted time had reached its end—the spirits began to shrink away: to rise, and curl, and dissolve into the surrounding mist.

“Wait,” cried Eowyn following them, and Legolas found himself following, too, “you have not told us enough! We cannot—”

Help us,” sobbed the women, “please, please, help us, help us, help...

And the sound of their anguished weeping lingered on the air, many moments after their spectres had vanished.


“Fare you well, daughters of Eofor,” murmured Eowyn, sinking down into a chair.

“Melmenya?” Legolas hovered anxiously over his shivering wife; she smiled up at him, sadly. “Come inside, my darling,” he said. “We need to get you warm.”


Some time later, curled up in bed together, the couple were still trying to piece together everything they had learned during their strange encounter.

“Eofor is a common name,” said Eowyn, “so, without knowing his father’s name as well, it could be hard to find the right man.” She sighed. “And yet... Those women were not peasants, or servants, Lassui. They were well-spoken—women of rank—the daughters of an eorl or a thane, perhaps, or of a wealthy farmer.”

“Eofor of Eastfold.”

“My father was from Eastfold—the land east of the Folde, the site of Eorl’s ancient capital. Important families still live there.” She sighed again. “Two young women, at the mercy of their male relations...”

“You think they were killed for their fortunes?” Legolas kissed the top of her head. “I suppose that would explain what they meant when they said that their names had been ‘taken’ from them—that the killer had stolen their birthright.”

“No...” Eowyn settled herself more comfortably against his chest. “I am not sure what they meant by that, Lassui—it is a saying I have never heard before, and the way they said it—it was as though they had been forbidden to enter the Halls of their Ancestors because they were nameless. I think it is something more sinister than having had your inheritance stolen—something worse, even, than having been murdered.”

“What could be worse than having been killed?” asked Legolas, uncertainly.

“Having had your spirit deprived of rest.”

“Melmenya,” he began, and Eowyn knew exactly what was coming next.

“You promised them, Lassui,” she said, vehemently. “You said, ‘We will do what we can for you.’ You cannot now ask me to think of my own safety, and abandon them.”

“I know.”

“We cannot leave their spirits in torment.”

“No. No, you are right Melmenya. We must put things right.”

“Good,” she said, stifling a yawn. “Then how are we going to do it?”

“Well,” said Legolas. “First of all, you are going to get some sleep. And then, tomorrow, in the cold light of day, we are going to seek advice.”






Eowyn has an unexpected visitor.


Chapter 2
Eowyn consults Master Bawden.