Home Stories Whos who Maps Costumes Recipes References Contacts Spacer
legolas with brown hair

Six days later

Eowyn, on her hands and knees, cinched her bedroll with a leather strap, fastening the buckle and tying off the loose end. Behind her, Legolas was carefully dousing the fire with the remains of their hot water.

“Sleeping under the stars is very romantic,” she said, rising stiffly to her feet, “when the bards sing about it.”

Legolas laughed.


They had taken the Emyn Arnen Road to Gobel Doron, turned west, and ridden an old sheep-herders’ trail to the bank of the River Anduin. There, turning northwards again, they had followed the riverbank to Osgiliath, where they had spent their third night as guests of the garrison commander, hiring messengers to deliver letters of apology to Aragorn in Minas Tirith, and to Faramir in Caras Arnen. Early the next morning they had crossed the river and cut sharply west, riding in the shadow of the Rammas Echor until they met the Great West Road. From then on, though the going had been easier, they had needed to be more careful, riding quietly through the sparse settlements, and pulling off the road to avoid too much contact with their fellow travellers.

At midday on the sixth day, they were approaching the small town of Caras Calenhad, in the shadow of the sixth beacon of Gondor.


Finding Derufin, son of Herluin did not prove difficult.

A gaggle of buxom women, washing linens in the town’s open-air laundry, were only too happy to direct them to the house of the unfortunate trader in return for a jug of urine, to be used as bleach, though they laughed when Legolas disappeared behind a wall to provide it.

Derufin lay upon his bed, his broken leg bound between two wooden splints. He read his brother’s letter slowly, his lips barely moving, then looked thoughtfully at Legolas, frowned, and read the letter again.

“So you want to buy my wagon,” he said at last, laying down the letter, and folding his hands upon his stomach.

“Your wagon and your stock,” replied Legolas.


The Elf glanced at Eowyn. In the course of their journey, they had decided that they would, as far as possible, tell the truth and, though Legolas had dyed his hair to prevent his being recognised as one of the Nine, and had asked Derufin’s brother not to mention his name in the letter, he had made no attempt to hide his Elven nature.

“We are searching for two ladies, sir,” he said, “friends of my wife’s foster-brother. Your merchandise will open doors that would otherwise be closed to us. And, since you cannot travel at present...”

“Hmm.” Derufin stroked his beard. “Well,” he said, at last, “my brother says that you are trustworthy, sir, and that is good enough for me. So all that remains for us to decide is a price.”

“Name it, sir,” said Legolas.

“Two thousand gold pieces,” said Derufin. “That is what it will take to replace everything, once I am back on my feet.”

His brother had anticipated that exact amount, and had advised Legolas to haggle, but Legolas could not bring himself to quibble over money. “Done,” he said, unbuckling his belt and removing a leather pouch containing forty fifty-piece coins. “Though I shall need you to show my wife and me your—I mean—our wares.”

Derufin tipped a few of the leaf-shaped coins into his lap, picked one up, and bent it in his teeth. “Pure Elven gold,” he said, approvingly. “But the lad must train you up, sir, for I shall not be going outdoors for many a day.”

“Of course,” said Legolas, holding out his hand because sealing deals with a handshake had begun to feel quite natural. “Thank you, Master Derufin.”


The wagon was a sturdy, four-wheeled vehicle with high sides and a curved wooden roof, gaily painted in red and blue and decorated with curlicues of cream and yellow. Eowyn grasped Legolas’ arm, and their eyes met, and each knew what the other was thinking—that it was going to be hard to destroy something so pretty...

‘The lad’, Derufin’s apprentice, climbed up the steps and unlocked the door. “Never leave this open,” he said, “or they’ll rob you blind.”

Inside, there was a tiny shop, fitted—at the far end—with a small counter and lined from floor to ceiling with drawers and cupboards—each secured against the perils of a bumpy road with a sturdy turn-buckle. Beyond that, a narrow door led to an even tinier cabin for eating and sleeping in, and the lad demonstrated how to convert its table and benches into a bed before he brought them back into the shop, and showed them the stock.

“Right,” he said. “Here, you’ve got your haberdashery.” He ran his hand over a column of drawers, then tapped each one in turn, starting at the top: “Needles; threads; horn buttons; glass buttons; laces; ribbons; lace trimmings; collars; cuffs.” His hand moved to the next column. “Here’s your trinkets—pipes; charms; bells; glass doodahs. This is your exotics—perfumes; salves; pipeweed boxes; lanterns—all from Far Harad.”

He moved to the other side of the wagon. “These are your beauty preparations, but I dare say the lady already knows more about that than I do. These are your medicines—”

Medicines,” said Eowyn. “Do they work?”

The lad shrugged. “We’ve never had any complaints. Master Derufin has them made up by a wise woman this side of Firien Wood. There’s flaxseed pastilles to make you shit; dandelion root powders to make you shit; prune and nettle tea to make you shit and piss—”

“We understand,” said Legolas.

“Well, you can’t go wrong if your bowels is regular, my mum always says. Anyway, everything’s described in the Ledger, and you’ll need to keep a careful record of anything you sell—who to, how much, and so on—it’s all in there.”

“Very well.”

“Finally,” said the lad, “this cupboard, here,”—he tapped a largish door, painted dark red—“is your poisons.”


“For rats, bugs, weeds, that sort of thing. The cupboard has two different locks, see,”—he held up the keyring and showed them two small keys—“so you can’t go wrong.”

“Good,” said Legolas. He glanced at Eowyn and, again, they both seemed to be thinking exactly the same thing—that poisons would be very hard to deal with safely.

“Show us how we should go about selling these things,” said Eowyn.


The horses they had brought with them were not their regular mounts, but sturdy beasts, well used to pulling a cart. Eowyn hitched them to the wagon whilst Legolas stowed her saddle and the travelling packs in the bedroom, and checked—at the insistence of the lad—that all the drawers were securely closed, and the Ledger safely housed, and the poison cupboard securely locked.

Then they climbed up onto the seat and, with Eowyn at the reins, pulled out of Master Derufin’s yard and rejoined the Great West Road, travelling eastwards towards Firien Wood and the border with Rohan.

It was a pleasant afternoon, and Eowyn found that sitting beside Legolas—pointing out things that she could barely see whilst plying her with pieces of dried fruit—was a very enjoyable way to travel; besides, she was looking forward to converting the table into a bed, and snuggling up—

“We should reach Linglow at dusk, Melmenya,” said Legolas, smiling, “just as the villagers are gathering in the tavern,”—which, according to the lad, was the best time for selling trifles—“so we had better start rehearsing our parts.”


Though it lay within Anórien, the little town of Linglow—the hill of heather—bore a Rohirric name, and its wooden buildings, arranged haphazardly around a marketplace of trampled earth, made Eowyn feel the warm familiarity of a native returning home.

She stopped the wagon outside the tavern and, whilst she was seeing to the horses, Legolas brought out a row of tiny bells and, using leather-covered mallets, began playing the catchy tune the lad had taught him as a way of attracting customers. Soon, the door of the tavern opened, and a few curious people came shuffling outside. By then, the Elf had warmed to his task and, inspired by the presence of an audience, he deftly turned the simple notes into a haunting Lay, singing, in his clear, sweet voice,

The summer slowly   in the sad forest
Waned and faded.   In the west arose
Winds that wandered   over warring seas.
Leaves were loosened   from labouring boughs:
fallow-gold they fell,   and the feet buried
of trees standing   tall and naked,
rustling restlessly   down roofless aisles,
shifting and drifting...

Eowyn had finished watering the horses and, having taken a moment to prepare herself, she stepped out into the light, drawing gasps of surprise from the townspeople, who muttered, ‘Faery folk... Faery folk!’

“Good evening,” she said, smiling at each potential customer in turn, as the lad had taught her, “let me show you our wares.” She climbed up the wooden steps—conscious that several pairs of eyes were fixed upon her seat—turned and, framed in the doorway, launched into her performance: “For the men we bring pattern-welded blades from Gondor, strong pipeweeds from the Shire, and Cocodrille-skin pouches from the sunlands of Far Harad; for the ladies, shawls of the sheerest Elven silk, kerchiefs edged with the finest Blackwork, perfumes made to ancient receipts...”

She looked at their faces, lit by a mixture of awe and superstitious fear, and wondered whether it was wise to let them think that she and Legolas might be otherworldly beings. We are here, she thought, to find the daughters of Eofor, not to perform conjuring tricks...


There were two men amongst the crowd who had seen the Elven archers at Helm’s Deep, and were fascinated by Elven weapons. One of them unsheathed his dagger, and persuaded Legolas to give him a lesson in Elven knife work, which drew a large, appreciative crowd, and led to the sale of several Gondorian blades, each selected with Legolas’ tactful guidance.

The women, somewhat bolder than the men, climbed into the wagon to view the merchandise. One bought a lace collar, another a jar of healing salve, and a third took Eowyn aside, and asked her whether the Elves might know a charm that would let her ‘lie with ’imself and not get with child.’

And, as Eowyn let her customers try on the delicate shawls, and sniff the perfumes, and tell her their symptoms (so that she could look them up in her book of medicines), she found them all too eager talk. They asked her about the great Ladies she had seen on her travels—what had they bought from her?—and she asked them about the local families—which were the most extravagant and which the most miserly, and which of them were sadly lacking in women?


By the time the last of their customers had gone, and they had moved the wagon to the outskirts of the town and set the horses free to graze, and had locked up the store cupboards and made up the bed, Eowyn was far too exhausted to talk about what she had learned.

“Who would have thought,” she said, settling in Legolas’ arms, “that a trader’s life would be so tiring?”

“You were not trading, Melmenya,” replied the Elf, stroking her hair, “you were playing the spy, and that demands spirit, and nerve, and concentration. Tonight was good practice for the task ahead.”






Chapter 3
Melannen helps out.

Chapter 3

Chapter 5
Theodred appears again.

Chapter 5

The song Legolas sings is from The History of Middle Earth: The Lays of Beleriand.


Legolas' bells



A cocodrille