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eowyn and guthmer at the well

Animals,” growled Eowyn. Then, “Except,” she added, rummaging in her travelling pack for her night gown, “that that is an insult to beasts!”

Legolas came up behind her and, smiling, wrapped his arms around her waist. “Did you learn anything useful?



“But he obviously considers Firien Wood a part of his manor.”

“It is where the boar are found, Melmenya—and, for a man like Baldor, there is the extra satisfaction of hunting on land that is prized by the kings of two kingdoms. But we cannot yet assume that it means anything more to him that that.”

He turned her round to face him, and she slid her arms around his neck.

“Are you sure that you will be safe, hunting with him tomorrow?” she asked.

“I am more concerned about leaving you behind.”

“Well, it will be hard to survive an entire day of sewing and tittle-tattle.” She sighed. “I had better get some sleep, Lassui. I shall just fetch some fresh water...”


Outside, a new moon in a clear sky was filling the silent yard with silvery light. Eowyn crossed to the well and, setting her pail upon the the ground, seized the handle, intending to lower the bucket.


The name took her by surprise, not so much because she had thought she was alone, but because no one but Legolas—and, once, little Melannen—had ever called her by it before, and she did not like hearing it in another’s mouth. She turned. “Master Guthmer.”

Deference came hard to her—unlike Legolas, to whom it seemed to come easily—but she managed a small curtsey.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked, and his smile was conspiratorial.

“Fetching water,” said Eowyn, wishing she had her sword at her hip.

“Naughty girl.” He came towards her like a cat stalking a little bird. “And, of course, you had no idea that I would be coming out to lock the gates, did you?”

To her annoyance, Eowyn was forced to take a step backwards and found herself pinned against the wall of the well. “No, indeed,” she said, trying to judge whether she could turn the situation to her advantage, or whether she should simply duck past him and run.

“I have had many girls, Melmenya. Many, many girls. But none so feisty as you.”

He bent in closer, and she could feel his breath upon her cheek. “I am a married woman,” she said, firmly.

“And I am a lord.”

“Not yet,” she countered, drawing herself to her full height, but still leaning back from him.


“Not if your father has any say in it.”

Guthmer laughed, loud and hearty. “There are other routes to advancement.”

“You mean by serving the king?” She could not keep the surprise from her voice.

“Would you be impressed,” he said, “if Eomer King were to favour me?”

“I would be astonished.”

“You,” said Guthmer, “are no merchant’s wife.” He brought up his hand, and his fingers hovered beside her cheek. “What are you? Mm? An eorl’s daughter who ran away with a pretty Elf?” He stretched out his forefinger, and lifted a strand of her hair, and Eowyn—deciding that it was time to stand up for herself—shoved his hand away. “By Béma,” he laughed, “you are spirited.”

He leaned in again.

Eowyn prepared to raise her knee—

“What...?” he cried, recoiling in horror from something behind Eowyn’s back. “No! No!

Startled, Eowyn looked over her shoulder.

A pale column of mist was rising from the earth; it moved through the crystal-clear air, rippling as it came, thickening into the tall figure of a warrior.

“Theodred,” whispered Eowyn.

“Get back!” shrieked Guthmer, bringing up his hand to shield his eyes. “Back! Back!”

But Theodred drew his ghostly sword and advanced, and the lordling turned and ran.



The spirit had stopped, a few strides beyond the well, and was staring at the door through which Guthmer had disappeared, his body glowing in the moonlight, his hair streaming in a ghostly breeze.

Eowyn came up beside him, and he turned to her, and smiled.

“We have found Holdred son of Walda, Theodred,” she said, urgently, “and two others, but we have not found the women. Are we looking in the right place? Are they in Wyrm’s Hollow? And was it Baldor who—” A terrible thought suddenly struck her—she remembered the boast of ‘many, many girls’. “Was it Guthmer?”

Theodred sheathed his sword and, reaching out, stroked her hair with his gloved hand, and she shivered as an icy draught seemed to pass right through her.

Follow your heart, shieldmaiden,” he said, gently. “And remember to keep to the narrow path...

“Lassui,” cried Eowyn as she ran into the barn, “Lassui!

Legolas dropped his bow, his painstaking maintenance forgotten and, leaping to his feet, took her in his arms. “Melmenya! What is it?”

“Theodred,” she gasped. “And Guthmer!”

“Come... Sit down.” He guided her into the little alcove beneath the stairs and lowered her onto her bedroll. “Tell me...”

Breathlessly, Eowyn described what had happened in the yard—how Guthmer had tried to kiss her, how Theodred had intervened, and how he had repeated his warning about the narrow path.

“I am so sorry, Melmenya,” said Legolas, holding her tightly. “I was not there for you.”

“No...” She laid her head on his shoulder. “I would have called for you had I really felt threatened, and you would have been at my side in an instant.”

Legolas raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Yes, I would...” Then he added, softly, “Theodred promised me that he would help take care of you, Melmenya. Thank the Valar he is a man of his word.”


Later, when Legolas had gone back to cleaning his bow, and Eowyn, lying in her bedroll, was looking thoughtfully at Melannen’s toy rabbit, she suddenly asked, “What can Guthmer possibly be planning to do, thinking that it will earn him Eomer’s favour?”

Legolas looked up from his work. “That is a very good question, Melmenya.”






Chapter 7
Legolas stages an accident.

Chapter 7

Chapter 9
Legolas goes hunting.

Chapter 9