Home Stories Whos who Maps Costumes Recipes References Contacts Spacer
legolas, eowyn and the wagon

“Well, the women were very happy to gossip about the local big knives,” said Eowyn, stifling a yawn, for they were setting out long before dawn, hoping to reach the next town just after dusk.

“And did you learn anything?” asked Legolas, pulling gently on the reins, guiding the horses through a narrow gap between the houses, and back onto the Great West Road.

“Lots!” said Eowyn, smiling. “Bergin son of Hallas, for instance, recently married a serving girl young enough to be his daughter, and is very liberal with his gold.”

Legolas smiled, too.

“Aubin son of Osbert, on the other hand, starves his children, and dresses them in rags, so we are advised to stay well clear of him.”


“But I did hear one thing that sounded useful.”

“Go on,” said the Elf.

“One of the women has a sister married to an eye-healer, who often travels over the border into Rohan; I think I may even have met him. Anyway, she says that she has heard him talk of a manor he visits, now and then, beyond Firien Wood, where the eorl pays well but—for some reason— makes her sister’s husband feel uneasy. I pressed her, but she could not remember any names.”

“Hmm,” said Legolas, again.

“You do not think it is he?”

“Our murderer? I think it unlikely, Melmenya. In fact, I think we will need the trees to part, and Oromë himself to ride out and point his horn at the culprit before we will recognise him. And I cannot see how we are ever going to find the remains of poor little—what were their names—Deorhild and Guthwyn?”

Eowyn leaned over, and kissed his cheek.

“What was that for?”

“That was for agreeing to join me on a wild-goose chase.” She stifled another yawn. “I did not dare mention the girls’ names last night, Lassui. I did ask about the lair of the dragon, but no one had heard of a narrow path, or a cleft in the rocks, or anywhere else that might once have been home to a wyrm.”


The sky was beginning to brighten as they drove into Firien Wood but, within a few hundred yards, the ancient trees—sturdy oaks and slender birches—had woven themselves into a roof of branches that blotted out the sun, and cast the road in permanent gloom.

Eowyn felt the laughter die upon her lips.

At midday, or as near as Legolas could judge, he brought the wagon to a halt and they climbed inside and, taking refuge in their little cabin, ate their bread and cheese and drank their wine, talking softly. “Never before have I felt so troubled in a Forest,” said the Elf, sadly. “There is something evil here, Melmenya. And the trees are uneasy.”

They pressed on.

And, although there were many wonders to be seen—the line of standing stones, spattered with yellow lichen and furred with dark moss, leading, Eowyn knew, to the empty tomb of King Elendil; the deep, tree-lined gorge of the Firien-dale and the swift-flowing Mering at its foot; the road, which plunged onto a narrow spur of rock before edging its way warily across the Mering Bridge; the sudden sunlight, penetrating the Mering valley like a golden blade, burnishing the autumn leaves to a rich red-bronze—all of this, she and Legolas shared in dumb show, pointing and nodding but saying nothing, neither of them willing to disturb the silence.


They emerged from the woods at dusk, and reached the tiny town of Meringburn soon after. There, they repeated their performance of the previous night, with similar results.

“If we really were traders,” said Eowyn, noting their few sales in the Ledger, “we would soon be starving.” She put the pen and ink away and, with a sigh, went through to the cabin.

“I think that real traders are more ruthless than we, Melmenya,” said Legolas, barring the wagon door before joining her. “I heard you telling the baker, for instance, that we had run out of rat poison, when I know we have a full jar.”

“Well,” she replied, struggling to unfasten her suede corslet, “how could I be sure that he was not planning to tip it into his wife’s porridge? Or to bake it into her lover’s bread?”

“Here,” said Legolas, smiling, “let me.” He took her gently by the shoulders, and turned her round and, loosening her lacings, helped her take the corslet off over her head. “Did you learn anything more about the fearsome eorl?”

“No...” She pulled at her shift, which was clinging to her body. “A few hints of dark deeds in the forest, but...” She shrugged. “Nothing helpful.”

“Come, Melmenya,” he said, sitting down upon the bed, and stretching out his arms, “you need some rest.”


The evil that Legolas had sensed Firien Wood had disturbed him more than he could admit to his wife and, as he lay in the darkness, listening to the regular sound of her breathing, he tried to calm himself by imagining himself back home, walking hand-in-hand with her amongst the mighty carantaurs—

His spirit jumped, sensing another presence in the wagon.

Slowly, he turned his head and, through the narrow doorway to the shop, spied two pale columns of mist, hovering just beneath the ceiling.

“Who are you?” he whispered.

One of the columns shifted and, acquiring more substance, became man-shaped—more than six feet tall, broad shouldered, clad in full armour—almost a twin to Eomer King.

The other column remained indistinct, but Theodred—for Legolas was in no doubt that it was he—gestured, and the Elf watched it struggle, trying but failing to form itself into a recognisable shape. At length, however, it spoke, its voice as wispy as its body: “I am nothing but a poor, lost soul...

Legolas, cradling Eowyn against his chest, cupped his hand over her ear. “Do you have a name?” he asked, softly.

Again, the spirit struggled to answer: “I was Holdred, son of Walda.

It was precious information, and Legolas knew that he must try to learn more: “Where do you lie?” he asked.

This time, the spirit’s answer was quick and clear, but thoroughly disappointing: “In the lair of the dragon...

“Where is that?”

Close by.

Then why has no one heard of it? “Are the ladies with you? Deorhild and Guthwyn?”

There are others here...

Others? “How many?”


That answer raised a hundred more questions, and twice as many fears—Who are the others? How do they come to be with you? How did they die and by whose hand? But, as Legolas struggled to marshal his thoughts, the spirits began to fade...

“No! Theodred,” he said desperately, his voice sounding louder than he had intended, “will you at least help me keep Eowyn safe?”

The ghost did not linger but, even as the mist was dispersing, Legolas thought he saw it nod its head.


“Why did you not wake me?”

The disappointment in Eowyn’s voice pierced Legolas’ heart. “I was afraid that too much movement—too much change—would scare them away,” he said. “Holdred, at least. He seems... timid. Very young, perhaps.”

“But I could have seen Theodred,” she insisted, more to herself than to her husband.

“I know, Melmenya.” Legolas gathered her close. “I am sorry.” He kissed the top of her head. “But I know that he will appear to us again, for he is guiding us, as best he can.”

He felt her body relax, which—with relief—he took for a sign of forgiveness.

For a long while they lay together in silence, listening to the whistling of the wind, blowing in through the open skylight. Then Eowyn said, “We need to consider everything we have learned so far, Lassui.”


Half an hour later, washed and dressed, and with the bed converted back to a table, Legolas spread out Berryn’s map of Eastfold, and Eowyn set the shop Ledger down beside it.

“We know of six victims,” she said, opening the Ledger at a blank page, and noting down the names in her firm handwriting:

Deorhild daughter of Eofor
Guthwyn daughter of Eofor
Holdred son of Walda

“And we know,” she continued, “that their bodies have been buried—”

“Or, at least, hidden,” said Legolas.

“Disposed of,” said Eowyn, crossing out the word ‘buried’, “in a place known as ‘the lair of the dragon’, which—according to Theodred—is ‘amongst the trees’—”

“Firien Wood!” said Legolas.

“Of course!”

They turned to the map, carefully tracing the contours of the land, Eowyn marking, with red ink, the slopes of Firien-dale and the other clefts and hollows that pitted the forest.

“Theodred mentioned a narrow path,” said Eowyn, pointing to the line of standing stones. “Could the lair be somewhere along here?”

“‘Keep to the narrow path’ could simply be a figure of speech, Melmenya,” said Legolas, doubtfully, “meaning, ‘Do not stray; do not get distracted; do not wander off into danger...’” He sighed. “We could spend weeks searching these woods. The slopes are too steep for horses; we would have to climb them on foot.”

“You said you sensed evil there,” said Eowyn. “Could you, perhaps, trace it to its source?”

“You mean like a living lodestone?”

Eowyn squeezed his arm with an apologetic smile; Legolas smiled back.

“Well,” she said. “Do we know anything else?”

“We know the story Master Bawden told you.”

Eowyn nodded. She took up her pen and, after a moment’s thought, wrote:

People in the story
Wife of Eofor

Wife of Baldor
Son 1
Son 2


They stared at the list. “We do know that the spirits cannot rest,” said Legolas.

“Yes, because their names have been ‘taken’.”

“No—not the boy’s.”

“You are right!” Eowyn made a note. Then, leaning back against the wooden wall, she stared up at the curved ceiling. “You do not think...?” she began.

“What do I not think, Melmenya?”

“The girls were of a marriageable age, and the story mentions marriage. Do you think that Holdred could have been a suitor?”

“A suitor... He could be! And the extra dead could be his rivals—”

“Or his men, if he were the son of an eorl.”

“Would not a man of substance have been missed?”

Eowyn shrugged. “It must have happened around the time of the War, when it would have been easy to pretend that he had been taken by orcs.”

Legolas nodded, thoughtfully. “I think we are in need of some more local gossip, Melmenya. I think we should break our fast in the tavern.”


The White Horse was homely, and spotlessly clean, the beams of its low ceiling hung with fragrant herbs, its stone floor strewn with a carpet of fresh rushes, its polished wooden tables decorated with jars of jolly purple-red flowers.

Eowyn recognised a woman’s touch. She took a seat at one of the tables whilst Legolas called for the landlord.

“You’re them traders,” said the man, surprised to find himself with customers so early in the morning, “that people says is faery folk!”

He offered them mutton stew and freshly-baked bread.

They accepted the bread, but asked for butter and honey, and two mugs of ale.

“You must get a lot of travellers here, being so close to the Great West Road,” said Eowyn, as he arranged the bread board, the plates, and various knives on their table. “And being the last tavern before, and the first after, Firien Wood!”

“Oh, aye,” the man replied, smiling. “We get all sorts in here—Anóriens, Gondorians, even some from Far Harad, these days, though they don’t talk much...” He swung round, his tray still balanced expertly upon his fingertips, and gestured towards the wall behind the counter, where someone had pinned up various ‘trophies’—a pair of Gondorian gloves, an Elven knife, a Haradin belt.

“Oh, aye,” he continued, setting down a dish of butter, “we get all sorts in here. There’s not many as don’t stop at the White Horse.” Then he added, conspiratorially, “It’s the ale. Best in Eastfold.”

“The locals must appreciate that, too,” said Legolas, slicing the bread.

“Oh, aye.” The landlord returned to the counter, drew two mugs of his famous ale, and brought them over.

“We have been summoned to a manor, somewhere near here,” said Legolas, spreading the bread with butter, “by a man called Walda.”

“Walda...” The landlord rubbed his chin. “Nearest manor to here’s Mereworth,” he said, pulling up a chair and sitting down, “but you don’t want to go there.”

“Why not?” asked Eowyn.

“The eorl’s not slow to set his dogs on strangers if he takes a mind to, nor to have them beaten off by his servants, if you get my drift.”

Legolas and Eowyn exchanged glances. The fearsome eorl.

“That must be hard on his wife and children,” said Eowyn, as she drizzled honey on her bread. “They must get very little company.”

“Elder son’s as bad as his dad,” said the landlord. “And the mother’s a shrew. No, it’s the younger lad everyone feels sorry for.”

“Poor boy,” said Legolas, sympathetically. “And his father is called Walda?”

“Walda? Nay,” said the landlord, “his name is Baldor. Baldor son of Eoheort.”


As the couple were leaving, Eowyn reached out and gently brushed her fingers over the jugful of spiky flowers at the centre of the table. “This is Fireweed,” she told Legolas. “It grows all over the middens outside the pales of Edoras.” She turned to the landlord. “But we do not see it in the south.”

“Round here we calls it Dragon Flame,” said the man, “for its shape, and because it likes to grow on burnt ground. The local children bring bunches down from Eorl’s Ditch or Wyrm’s Hollow,”—he did not notice how Eowyn’s expression had changed—“and the wife gives them a few buns for it—she’s soft like that.” He smiled with obvious affection for his spouse.

“Thank you, sir,” said Legolas, giving him a leaf-shaped Elven coin, and adding, with a nod towards the rest of his collection, “for your wall.”






Chapter 4
Legolas and Eowyn put their plan into action.

Chapter 4

Chapter 6
Eowyn finds 'the lair of the dragon'.

Chapter 6