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eowyn searches for master bawden

The following morning, Eowyn awoke to find that Legolas had already risen.

She rang the bell for her lady’s maid and, wrapping herself in her leafy mantle, walked over to one of the windows, pushing open its carved wooden shutter and leaning out into the chilly air.

It was already mid morning—Legolas had obviously decided to let her rest—and the aerial city was a-buzz. Men were hurrying down the walkways, overtaking their more leisurely Elven friends; traders from all over the Reunified Kingdom were displaying their wares; housewives were polishing woodwork; servants were sweeping floors; from somewhere to her right, craftsman-builders were hauling up lengths of timber to a melodious chant—

Master Bawden! she thought. Of course!

She dropped her mantle on the bed and rushed into the bathing room and, by the time her lady’s maid arrived, she had washed, and dressed herself in jerkin, leggings and boots, and had tied her hair back in a rough braid.

“I have changed my mind, Míriel,” she said. “I shall not need your help until supper time. But when Lord Legolas returns, please tell him that I have gone to see Master Bawden.”


Legolas closed his daily meeting with the colony’s Inner Council by thanking them for their continuing support and hard work. As the elves were filing from the chamber, he drew one of the Councillors aside. “Might I have a word, my Lord?”

“Of course, your Highness,” said Fingolfin, placing his hand upon his heart and bowing his head in a formal gesture of acquiescence.

Legolas told the scholar, briefly, of his and Eowyn’s encounter with the two women.

“You saw their fëar...” said Fingolfin, with an emotion that, in a lesser and a mortal, might have been envy, for he was fascinated by Men and had spent many centuries studying their lore.

Legolas nodded.

“Well, your Highness,” said the older Elf, “according to the beliefs of your wife’s people, when the hröa of a Man dies, his fëa joins the fëar of his ancestors in a great Mead Hall, and makes merry for all eternity.” He nodded to himself. “It is a worthy fate—”

“But something is preventing the fëar of these women from entering the Hall, my Lord,” said Legolas. “And Eowyn believes that they are cursed.”

“I see.”

Legolas gestured towards the doors, and the two Elves left the chamber. “What I need to know,” he said, “urgently, is how to break a curse.”

In wordless agreement, the pair walked eastwards, towards the Library.

“There are many different kinds of curse, my Lord,” said Fingolfin, thoughtfully. “Some may be broken by anyone who performs the appropriate ritual; some can only be broken by the person responsible for the cursing; and some must be countered by a wise man or a wise woman, interceding on the victim’s behalf. But in every case,” he concluded, “as the fëar of the women themselves seem to have been saying, the first step is to find the physical remains.”

“I was afraid you would say that,” said Legolas. Then he added, “How?”

“Let us see what the authorities suggest, your Highness,” replied Fingolfin, opening the Library doors.


Eowyn followed the city’s main walkway westwards, past the new private Banqueting Chamber and the stairs up to the visitors’ gardens, until she reached the building site, where she ducked behind the screen that concealed the building works from passers by.

With her long, golden hair and her leggings and boots, she was a familiar sight to the craftsmen-builders and, the moment the men spotted her, they stopped working and waited in respectful silence. Master Bawden, their foreman, who had been inspecting the carving on one of the great pillars, immediately came forward.

“Lady Eowyn,” he said, with a slight bow, “what may I do for you?”

Eowyn glanced around the site. “Is there somewhere we might talk, sir?”

“Of course, my Lady,” he said. “Perhaps I can offer you some refreshment?”

Eowyn remembered that she had had no breakfast. “That would be nice. Thank you.”

She accepted his arm, and let him lead her off the flet, and down a narrow side-path, which snaked between the tree trunks until it brought them to a long, open-sided pavilion. There, tables, chairs, and a simple kitchen had been arranged to provide a place where the craftsmen-builders might rest and take their meals. Eowyn asked for a slice of apple pie and a glass of cordial, her companion for some tea, and they chose a table beside the flet wall, with an impressive view of the city.

“Have you ever heard of an Eofor of Eastfold?” asked Eowyn, without preamble.

“Eofor...” Master Bawden rubbed his chin. “The name does sound familiar, my Lady. Let me see... Eofor...” He frowned; then his expression turned from puzzlement to enlightenment. “Of course,” he said. “The Daughters of Eofor!”

Eowyn’s heart leapt. “Do you know their story, Master Bawden?”

“Well,” he said, stirring sugar into his tea, “I think it goes something like this: There was once an eorl, a man of great courage and high regard, who—though he had no son—had two young daughters, called Deorhild and Guthwyn.”

Eowyn took her wax tablet from her pocket, drew out the stylus, and made a note of Eofor’s rank, and of the women’s names.

“The girls,” said Bawden, “were as fair as sunlight on May blossom,”—he smiled at the graceful young women he was seeing in his mind’s eye—“and Eofor loved them more than life itself. Men came from far and wide to ask for their hands in marriage, but Eofor’s younger brother, a surly fellow named Baldor,”—Eowyn made another note—“argued that the girls should marry his sons, so that the family wealth might not be divided amongst strangers.”

Eowyn cut a forkful of apple pie. “Do you know the names of the brother’s sons?” she asked.

“No, my Lady. I don’t believe they have names.”

“What did Eofor say to his brother?”

“Eofor refused, for he wanted his daughters to marry, as he had, for love.”

“He was a good man... Go on, Master Bawden.”

“Well, one morning, a maidservant went to wake the girls and found their beds empty. And when she could not find them elsewhere in the Hall, or in the storehouses, stables, or the orchard beyond, she raised the alarm. Eofor mustered his fyrdsmen, and searched farther afield, scouring the vale to the north and the slopes of the White Mountains to the south. But he never saw his girls again, not alive nor dead.”

Eowyn blinked back a tear. “A vale to the north,” she said, in her most businesslike manner, “and slopes to the south. Does the story say exactly where Eofor’s manor was situated?”

Bawden shook his head. “Not that I have heard...” He studied her face with a mixture of embarrassment and concern, then added, gently, “It is only a story, my Lady. A tale told at the fireside...”

“Does it say what happened to Eofor?”

Bawden nodded. “Yes... Not long after the girls disappeared, Eofor’s wife—their mother—died of a broken heart, and Eofor, though he never stopped searching, became reckless, riding out wherever the enemy might be found—”

“That must have been during the War,” said Eowyn, thoughtfully, “or, perhaps, shortly before—”

“I do not think the story is set in any particular time...”

“—and Eofor must have died.”

“Why do you say that, my Lady?”

“Because, if he were still alive, Master Bawden, his daughters would have gone to him for help.” She reached for her goblet. “Do you know what became of the brother?”

“Well... The story does not say. But, if Eofor died, I should think that his brother inherited everything.”

“Yes... So should I. His name is Baldor, you say?”

“Yes,” said Bawden, with the expression of a man who has dropped his hammer over the flet wall and is watching it fall towards a crowd.

Eowyn rose from the table. “Thank you, Master Bawden. You have done two most unhappy women a great service—oh, no,”—she placed her hand upon his arm as he began to get to his feet—“please,” she insisted, “finish your tea.”



Closing the Library doors behind her, and ignoring the pointed looks she was drawing from the scholars sitting at the tables, Eowyn worked her way through the winding chamber, pausing every now and then to peer into the book-filled alcoves, until she spotted her husband sitting at a table with Lord Fingolfin, open volumes and unrolled maps strewn between them.

She hurried over to join him. “I thought I would find you in here.”

“We are trying to identify the curse, Melmenya,” said Legolas.

“Good,” she replied. “And I have discovered the women’s names, I think.”

One of the scholars made a loud shushing sound.

“Let us move into the schoolroom,” said Fingolfin, softly. He took up the pile of books, and Legolas scooped up the maps, and the trio retreated into a side-chamber, separated from the rest of the Library by a stout pair of doors. The Elves laid out their reference materials on the little tables; Eowyn sat down on a tiny chair and took her wax tablet from the pocket of her jerkin.

“I have been speaking to Master Bawden,” she said, “and tapping his knowledge of lore.” And, consulting her notes, she quickly told the Elves the story of the two daughters. “When he told me,” she added, proudly, “how Eofor’s battle-fury had become legendary, I suddenly remembered the Thane of Morden.”

She reached for one of the maps and, smoothing it flat, outlined with the tip of her finger a narrow strip of land, bounded by the White Mountains to the south and by the River Entwash to the north. “This,” she said, “is Eastfold. This region, here,”—she circled a smaller area to the east—“is the Vale of Morden, on the Great West Road, just beyond Firien Wood. This,”—she pointed to a pair of symbols drawn either side of the road—“is the Mering Bridge, the most strategically important point on the Rohan-Anórien border. It was this bridge,”—she tapped the map—“that the Thane of Morden defended against the forces of Saruman, risking his own life, and the lives of his men. Like Eofor’s, his courage became legendary, and...

“And I remember,”—her smile grew broader—“Theodred once saying that the thane was reckless because he had nothing left to lose—that he had already lost everything he held dear.” She shrugged. “It seemed so sad, the thought stayed in my mind.”

“And now you are thinking that Eofor and this thane are the same man?” said Legolas, doubtfully.

Eowyn nodded. “Theodred knew the Thane of Morden, so he may also have known his daughters in life.”

“Which would explain their connection in death...” Legolas looked more closely at the map. “Then this vale,” he said, “would be the vale that Eofor scoured in the story.”

“And this area,” said Eowyn, “to the south, where the foothills of the White Mountains rise very gently, forming a sort of basin, is known as the Slopes of Morden.” She leaned back in her little chair, her case proved to her own satisfaction.

“It is a wild shot, Melmenya,” said Legolas.

“Might I make a suggestion, your Highnesses?” said Fingolfin, who had been following Eowyn’s argument with interest.

“We would be most grateful, my Lord.”

“Tonight, light the lanterns again. If the women appear to you, remind them of their names and ask them about their father’s brother, and see if they confirm Princess Eowyn’s conjectures.”






Chapter 1
Eowyn makes a promise.

Chapter 1

Chapter 3
Melannen helps out.

Chapter 3

Fëa (plural fëar)... spirit
Hröa (plural hröar) ... body

fyrdsmen ... armed men