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theodred says goodbye

“Melmenya!” Colliding with Eowyn at the top of the Buttery stairs, Legolas threw his arms around her and, lifting her off her feet, whirled her round. “Valar, I was afraid I had lost you!”

Eowyn laughed. “For this,” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck, “it is almost worth having been knocked out, imprisoned, and forced to fight for my life!” And when Legolas set her back on the floor, she hugged him tightly. “Ohhhhh... I cannot wait to go home, Lassui.”

“We could call the horses and leave straight away,” said Legolas, kissing the top of her head.

Eowyn was silent for a moment. Then, “No,” she said. “I love our little wagon. Let us wait until it is repaired, and take it home with us.”


Despite the damage done by Ulric’s men, Lionel Cartwright still maintained that the wagon would be repaired on time.

For the next two days, Legolas and Eowyn waited uneasily, hovering on the fringes of the action, watching Baldor deal with the aftermath of his wife’s betrayal and his son’s crimes.

On the evening of the first day, Legolas found him alone in his study, and set before him the jar that Eowyn had found in the leechcraft room. “It contains,” he said, “the names of your nieces. We believe it is a curse, designed to deny their spirits rest.”

“Leave it with me,” said Baldor.

The following morning, the opened jar was returned by Eldit, with a message from her master: ‘It is lifted.’

“Let us hope that it is,” said Eowyn, doubtfully.


The following night, when Eowyn went to draw water in the yard, Guthmer was waiting for her.

“There is to be a trial,” he said, winding down the bucket for her, “in two weeks, when the Hundred Court meets. It is only a formality, of course. My brother has confessed to strangling Deorhild—it seems she resisted him—and to stabbing Guthwyn when she found him kissing her sister’s dead body...

“Holdred and his men,” he continued, raising the bucket, “he ambushed in the Shepshaw Rocks—they would not have stood a chance, for Thengel is surprisingly good with a bow. Bouncer,”—Guthmer’s dog—“he poisoned, to spite me. I hope he didn’t suffer...”

He lifted the bucket onto the wall, and tipped some water into Eowyn’s pail.

“Thengel will hang,” he said. “And Father will pay Holdred’s father his son’s worth, to avoid a blood feud.” He smiled, ruefully. “At least, now, I won’t have to marry Walda’s daughter.”

“And your mother?” asked Eowyn.

“Oh, mother will survive. She always does. All she did was dispose of the bodies. She must have had help, but,”—he shrugged—“you cannot punish a servant for obeying his mistress’s orders.”

“She stole the poison.”

“No, Thengel stole the poison. Mother took it from him, and hid it for safe-keeping.”

Eowyn shook her head. “She tried to poison your father, Guthmer.”

“If she did, your husband destroyed the proof.”

“Your father will need to find himself a food taster.”

“I think she will be sent away. To live with her sister, the widow of Eorl Syward.”

“Up in the mountains? Hanging her would be more merciful.”

Guthmer smiled.

“And what of you?” asked Eowyn.

Guthmer perched upon the wall of the well, and folded his arms across his chest. “I shall take up your offer—to speak to your brother the King on my behalf.”

Eowyn regarded him, thoughtfully. Then she said, “I shall do as I promised, if that is what you really want. But you were not made to follow orders, Guthmer. I think you should stay here, marry a good woman, have children, and learn to be a worthy heir to your father.”

“Are you offering?”

“You know I am not.”

Guthmer smiled. “You cannot blame a man for asking.”

“You are a good man, Guthmer, beneath all the bluster.” Eowyn picked up her pail. “You know what is right, and you have the courage to do it. One day, Eomer may have need of you. But, in the meantime, think on what I have said.”


On the morning of the third day, the men of Mereworth hauled the repaired wagon up the road to the manor. Most of the household were waiting at the gates to see the Elf and his wife depart.

“What do you propose to pull it with?” asked Guthmer.

Legolas raised his hand to his mouth and whistled. Moments later, the beating of hooves announced the return of the ‘runaway’ horses. “They have been awaiting my signal,” he explained.

“That’s a neat trick, Master Elf,” said a voice, and the crowd parted to allow Baldor to approach his departing guests. “Forgive me,” he said, bowing deeply, “I mean, your Highness.”

Legolas smiled. “I have no official standing here.”

Baldor straightened up and, after a slight hesitation, held out his hand. “Fare you well, then, Legolas of the Woodland Realm. I am triply in your debt. If you should ever return to collect, you will find me ready to pay.”


That night, Legolas brought the wagon to a halt in Firien Wood, close to the narrow path that led up to Wyrm’s Hollow, and he and Eowyn ate a simple supper of bread and cheese, and bowls of briw re-heated over a wood fire.

Then they gathered up all the lanterns they could find—stout iron ones with horn lights from Rohan; tall, elegant ones with delicately etched glass from Gondor; fantastical palaces of glittering metal and coloured glass from Far Harad—laid them out in a long line leading from the end of the path to the foot of the wagon steps, lit them and, wrapped in Elven cloaks, settled down to wait.

Sometime after midnight, Legolas gently woke his wife.

The two young women, Deorhild and Guthwyn, were standing side-by-side, their beauty now matched by a liveliness that justified Master Bawden’s description, ‘as fair as the sunlight on May blossom’. Beside Deorhild, holding her hand, stood Holdred son of Walda, younger than Eowyn had imagined him, but handsome, and with laughing eyes that promised his future wife much happiness.

Next to him were his faithful servants, the brave ‘man-mountain’, seven feet tall and with hands that might crush a man’s skull, but so gentle that only a threat to his master could have moved him to violence; and the little page boy, whose cheeky grin, reminding Eowyn of Melannen, almost broke her heart.

But beside the lad, licking his fingers, stood brave old Bouncer, looking forward to playing with his new friend until his beloved master was ready to join him.

Eowyn’s eyes filled with tears.

To the right of the group, a little way off, stood Theodred, a warrior in the prime of ‘life’, his hair lifting in a never-ending breeze.

“Fare you well,” whispered Eowyn, a sob in her voice, “all of you. Go and make merry in the Halls of your Ancestors.”

One by one the spirits took their leave, until only Theodred remained, smiling at his cousin. “May Béma bless you, shieldmaiden,” he said, his voice like a gust of wind. And, to Legolas, he added, “Take care of our treasure, my friend...

Theodred!” Eowyn leaped down from the wagon and ran towards him, but he was already fading away.

“You will see him again, my darling,” said Legolas, gathering her into his arms. “You will see him many, many times, I promise. Every year, on the first night of Rhîw, we will invite him to join us and, whenever he can, he will come to us.”







Chapter 12
Legolas foils a poisoner; Eowyn fights for her life.

Chapter 12