Bergthórr beytill leaped to his feet. "What is the meaning of this?" he cried, as Legolas led Lady Gunnhildr, unveiled, into the Great Hall. "Go back to your chambers at once—and do not return until you are properly dressed!" He turned to Thranduil. "Is one woman not enough for your son? You tell him to keep his 'thing' to himself—"

"My son has no interest in your daughter's body," said Thranduil, coldly. "But if he is, in any way, responsible for her miraculous transformation, you should be thanking him. Come, my dear," he said to Gunnhildr, "come and sit beside me. And, please, Bergthórr beytill," he added, to the speechless chieftain, "sit down, too, and enjoy your food. You and I can argue again tomorrow."


Eowyn removed her betrothal ring and set it on the table before Lassemista Greyleaf.

"I am Prince Legolas' chosen," she said, "given to him by the Valar in his first harvest rite. But King Thranduil does not accept me. He insists that I must prove my worth by completing three tasks set by him. This is my second task—to succeed I must return to him tomorrow with a portion of your arrears as proof that you have agreed to pay your taxes. If I fail, I am to leave Eryn Lasgalen and never see Prince Legolas again..."

There was a murmur of surprise from the elves and ellith behind her.

"So your motives are selfish," said Lassemista.

Eowyn thought for a moment. "My motives for being in Caras Glawar are selfish, my lord, yes," she admitted, "but my argument—that, in a just society, each pays taxes according to his means so that the strong may help the weak and the weak need feel no shame in accepting help—is always valid, and is in no way affected by my motives."

The Adar called Siriondil Riverlover suddenly spoke out in Elvish.

"She has my vote, too," said Lassemista. "Malbeth?"

Malbeth Goldword nodded.

Thorondir sighed. "And mine too."

Eowyn smiled broadly. "Thank you, my lords."

Siriondil leaned towards his neighbour and asked him a question. Then, after a brief discussion, he turned back to Eowyn and said, in a mixture of broken Westron and Elvish, "Cuio mae, little adaneth brave. I wish you cuil 'lassui with Prince Legolas."

Eowyn placed her hand over her heart and bowed her head in thanks.


"May I have your permission to escort your daughter back to her chambers, Chief Bergthórr?" asked Legolas.

The chieftain's sharp eyes narrowed. "Why?" he asked. "Why are you paying my daughter so much attention, when you already have a woman?"

"She is my father's guest," said Legolas. "And it is our custom," he lied.

The Beorning sighed. "Very well," he said. He glanced towards his daughter, who was talking animatedly with King Thranduil. "But," he added, shrewdly, "make sure you tell her that you would prefer to see her dressed more modestly tomorrow."


"Did you enjoy your evening, Lady Gunnhildr?" asked Legolas as they walked slowly down the passage towards the Beornings' chambers. "I believe you made a great impression on my father, and on the rest of his Court."

"Thank you, Prince Legolas," said Gunnhildr quietly. She stopped walking and, taking her hand from his, turned to face him. "I did enjoy tonight—your father's company is delightful and you—you have been very kind to me. I must thank you—and Lord Gimli—for showing me that it is not shameful for a woman to enjoy the attention of men"—she smiled—"or, rather, of elves and dwarves..." She held out her hand. "I will leave you, now, your Highness, for I see we are at your door, and I can make my own way back to my chambers from here."

"But I must insist," said Legolas, sincerely, because he was now more certain than ever that Gunnhildr was not the bear, "on seeing you to safety, my lady. Besides," he added, remembering his plan, "with Lady Eowyn so far away I will not rest in my chambers tonight. I will pass the time walking through the Halls, visiting the garden caverns. The sight of growing things will give my spirit all the rest it needs."


Eomer awoke, a sixth sense telling him that someone was about to knock on his door.

"A moment," he called. He threw back the bed covers, and —recognising the soft, warm, breeze he felt as his hand brushed the pillow beside him—climbed out of bed and put on his dressing robe. "Go into the garden," he said as he walked towards the door. "I do not want them to know you are here."

He waited a moment before opening the door.

"Your Majesty," said Valandil, bowing, "we have it." He handed Eomer a small flask.

Eomer stared at the object lying in his hand, then looked up at the two elves. "Come in a moment," he said, "I will not keep you long, but—by the gods, you must have ridden non-stop." He gestured towards the chairs by the fire.

"We rode swiftly," said Valandil, as he and Orodreth stepped inside, "because we thought it was urgent."

"Thank you," said Eomer. "May I offer you a drink?"

"No, thank you," said Valandil.

"We shall sup once we have bathed, your Majesty," explained Orodreth.

"If you are sure..." Eomer smiled. "I just wanted to thank you properly," he said, clasping each elf's hand and slapping him on the back in turn. "Thank you, both. I will be sure to impress on Prince Legolas what a valuable service you have rendered me."


Legolas turned at the end of the passage and slowly retraced his steps—past the various storage chambers; past two garden caverns filled with cherry blossom; past Bergthórr beytill's chamber; past Bjarni Bjarki's; past the dormitory shared by the rest of the Beorning men; past Lady Gunnhildr's door...

He paused and listened carefully for any sounds of movement.


He carried on; past two more garden caverns; past two more chambers...

He ducked into a side tunnel.

"Anything?" whispered Gimli.

Legolas shook his head. "Where is Dínendal?" he asked, softly.

"He has been summoned to a patient," said Haldir. "He will return as soon as he is able. What do you plan to do next?"

"I will walk the tunnel one more time," said Legolas. "And then...

"Then I am not sure."


"You asked for me, your Majesty?" said Dínendal.

"Yes, Master Healer," said Eomer. "I am sorry to have disturbed you in the middle of the night but—the truth is—it is an urgent matter and one that I would prefer to keep"—he cleared his throat—"confidential."

Dínendal looked around the room as if expecting to see a drugged elleth lying deflowered upon the bed. "Your Majesty?"

Eomer picked up the flask of enchanted water. "Please sit down, Master Dínendal, and I will explain." He gestured towards a chair and waited until the elf was seated. "When I helped Legolas carry my sister out of the enchanted river," he said, "I think I must have swallowed a tiny amount of water—"

"Yes, your Majesty, I believe you did. The tiredness..."

"Yes. And, in that state, it seems that I can see—and speak to—the woodland sprite. So I have obtained a small quantity of enchanted water." He handed the flask to Dínendal. "But I am unsure how much to take..."

"I see," said Dínendal. He turned the flask around in his hand, looking at it intently. "Do you want to try some now?"

"Yes, I do. But I must be well enough to attend the talks tomorrow."

"I understand," said the healer. "I will do what I can, your Majesty—please sit on the bed." Dínendal placed his healing bag on the night stand, opened it, and took out a tiny spoon. "Good. Now prop yourself up on the pillows, your Majesty—"

"Wait! Are you sure that she is here?" asked Eomer.

"She is lying beside you," said Dínendal.

Eomer cursed under his breath.

Dínendal uncorked the flask and carefully tipped a single drop of water onto the spoon. "Take this, your Majesty," he said, holding the spoon to Eomer's lips. The man swallowed the water like a child taking a dose of cod liver oil from his mother.

"We will wait for a quarter of an hour," said Dínendal, turning a small hourglass and placing it on the nightstand. "If you have not begun to see the sprite by then, your Majesty, I will give you some more water."


Legolas paced the tunnel. There can only be—what?—three, four hours until dawn, he thought. Oh, Eowyn nín, if only I could have gone with you...

He paused once more outside Gunnhildr's door. Still nothing. It is not her, I am sure of it—


All his senses were suddenly alert. Danger! And he knew exactly where the bear was.

"Ada!" he cried, running past the side tunnel—"Come with me! It is attacking my father!"—then out into the main thoroughfare, with Gimli, Haldir and Berryn following.


Eomer watched as the last grain of sand fell through the neck of the hourglass.

"More," he said.

Dínendal fed him another drop.


Legolas ran into Thranduil's study, followed by his friends and by the two guards from outside the door. "Ada? Ada, where are you?" He looked around for a weapon. "Give me your bow," he said to one of the guards.

"We are in the garden!" cried his father. "But stay outside, Lassui! All of you, stay outside."



"Please do as he says," said a quiet voice.

Legolas turned towards the study door. A slender figure, dressed in a white night-gown, stood framed beneath its arch.

"Leave this to me, Prince Legolas," she said, "and no one will be hurt." Then she walked over to the garden cavern and stood in the doorway. "Stop it," she said, firmly. "Please, stop it."


"More," said Eomer.


The bear howled.

"I do not need protection," said Gunnhildr, "not from King Thranduil. Please leave his chambers. Go back to you own room."

There was a sound of scuffling.

Then a huge, golden creature bounded past Gunnhildr, past Legolas and his companions, and out through the study door. "Do not hurt her—let her go!" cried the girl. "She will not harm anyone now!"

Legolas ran into the garden. "Ada?" His father was standing with his back pressed against the cavern wall. "Are you hurt?"

"No..." said Thranduil, "No. I think she was just giving me a warning."

"A warning? About what?"

Thranduil did not answer. Instead, motioning Legolas to go before him, he walked out into the study. "Return to your posts," he said to the guards, "I will deal with the bear, later, myself."

He turned to Gunnhildr. "Now: I think you owe my son and me an explanation, young lady."


"By the gods, Firith," said Eomer. "Get some clothes on!"


"Her name is Osðryd," said Gunnhildr. "She is my nurse."

"The woman I saw earlier tonight?" said Legolas.

"Yes." Gunnhildr smiled, shyly. "When my mother died, my father made Osðryd swear on her own life that she would always protect me." Gunnhildr bit her lip. "The first time I saw her change we were travelling. One of Sauron's wolves had managed to slip into our camp unseen and had entered my tent. When I awoke its head was in my crib and its saliva was dripping on my face." Gunnhildr shuddered. "Suddenly, it was knocked aside—killed instantly by a single blow from the bear's paw. I watched the bear as it changed back—I saw it become smaller, slighter; saw the fur disappear from its arms and face; saw its fangs and claws turn to teeth and nails. I watched the bear slip back into the form of a woman—Osðryd.

"Then she lifted me from my crib and rocked me, cooing over me as if nothing had happened.

"I was too shy to tell my father what I had seen—for I was only four—but I told my brother, Bjarni, and he told father. Father had me brought to his tent, sat me on his knee, and told me that what I had seen was a dream and that, although I might well have similar dreams again, I was never to talk of them. And I never have, until now. Except to Bjarni."

"So your nurse thought that King Thranduil intended to"—Gimli shot the Elvenking a slightly false look of apology—"seduce you and she came here to warn him off?"


"And she slipped past the guards unnoticed," said Legolas, "because she is a woman and a servant."

"It was my fault. I told her that you had asked me to sit beside you at dinner, your Majesty," said Gunnhildr. "I am sorry."

Thranduil waved a hand. "Pray, do not mention it, my dear," he said. "It is forgotten. The only thing I want to know is why she attacked my son."

Gunnhildr blushed deeply. "We saw Prince Legolas," she said, "Osðryd and I, paddling in a stream in East Lorien. We both thought"—she cleared her throat, her eyes fixed on the floor—"that he looked very nice."

Legolas' fair skin turned slightly rosy.

"I think that she likes you," she said, very quietly.


"I will leave you now," said Dínendal. "Do not take any more water tonight. If you want to see her again tomorrow," he held up the tiny spoon to emphasise his point, "take three drops, a quarter of an hour apart." He placed the spoon beside the flask. "I will see myself out," he said.

"Thank you," said Eomer.

Dínendal gave him a brief bow, then left.

Eomer turned to Firith. She had wrapped herself in a bed sheet, but—somehow—that only made her look more alluring.

"Beloved..." she whispered.

Eomer bit his lip. "We need to talk," he said.

"Later..." whispered Firith.

"No—No, Firith!" He pushed her hands away.

"But you are so beautiful, E-o-mer..." she protested, in her musical voice. She touched his face. "Let me show you how beautiful..."


"You are saying that her intentions towards my son are amorous?"

"Yes, your Majesty."

"And so she dislikes Eowyn," continued Thranduil. "But how did she know about Lindorië? And about Rothinzil?"

"I told her, your Majesty. Every night, I tell her stories of what I have seen. I did not realise that she would be jealous."

"What, exactly, did you see happening between my son and Rothinzil to make her jealous?" asked Thranduil.


Gunnhildr looked from father to son and back again. "Nothing, your Majesty. Nothing. I just saw him kiss her good night. It was nothing. He did the same to me, later."

Thranduil turned to his son triumphantly. Legolas scowled back.

"Well," said Berryn, suddenly, "at least now we know how to stop the bear's attacks."

Thranduil lost the staring contest. "We do?"

"Yes, your Majesty. From what little I managed to learn in the library this afternoon, it all comes down to the oath. Whether he knew it or not, when Bergthórr beytill made the nurse swear to protect Lady Gunnhildr, he took away her self-control. He condemned her to changing skin whenever her charge was threatened—so when Lady Gunnhildr grew up so lovely"—the girl rewarded him with a dazzling smile—"the bear became obsessed with protecting her honour. And now that the woman has, herself, become infatuated with Prince Legolas, the bear is expressing her jealousy. You must persuade Bergthórr beytill to release the skin changer from her oath, your Majesty. Oh! And," he added, almost as an afterthought, "Lord Legolas must speak to her about—well—the other thing."


"I am married," Eomer insisted. "I have told you before—I am not free."

"And nor am I, E-o-mer... I am bound... To you..." She brushed her fingers across his lips.

Eomer shivered.

"Let me show you love... Just once..."

"I cannot," whispered Eomer. "My wife—"

"Do you love her, E-o-mer?"

"I—no." It was less than a whisper. "But, in time—"

"I can help you fall in love with her..."


Firith smiled. "Let me show you..." Slowly, she untied the sash of his dressing robe. Then, moving smoothly, light as air, she slipped between his legs and, kneeling before him, raised his night shirt...


"I shall speak to Bergthórr beytill today, before the talks," said Thranduil. "And I would be very grateful, Lady Gunnhildr, if—assuming that you have any sway with your father—you would persuade him to hear me out."

Gunnhildr shook her head. "I am his favourite, your Majesty, but he would never listen to me in a matter of state. Unless, that is, I can tell him something you 'let slip' at dinner last night—that you are intending to apologise to him, for example."

Legolas laughed.

Gunnhildr smiled.

"Are all edenith brighter than their men folk?" asked Thranduil. "Very well, my dear, you may tell him that if you think it will get him to speak to me."

"My father," said Legolas, with a wink, "is particularly adept at seeming to apologise whilst actually deepening the insult. I shall speak to your nurse when Lady Eowyn is sleeping."

"Please do not hurt her, Prince Legolas," said Gunnhildr, "she cannot help what she is—nor what falling in love with you has made her become."

"I have no intention of harming her, my lady," said Legolas, "provided she does not attack me."

"I meant her feelings," said Gunnhildr, biting her lip.

"That," said Legolas, softly, "may be more difficult. But I will do what I can." He glanced at his father's hourglass. "Now I must leave you, for I want to meet Eowyn on her journey home. Will you come with me, Gimli?"

"Of course," said the dwarf.

"Good Day, Lady Gunnhildr," said Legolas, bowing. "Haldir, Berryn; Good Day, Ada."

"Be sure to bring Eowyn straight to me, Lassui," called Thranduil after his son. "With the money."


"Come on Gimli," cried Legolas, "it is almost dawn!"

He reached down from Arod's back and—displaying a strength entirely at odds with his slender frame—lifted the dwarf up behind him.

"Are you sure that you want an audience, lad?" asked Gimli.

"If she has failed, Gimli, you must take her back to Aglarond. She will be safe with you—and she loves you very much."

Gimli said nothing but Legolas could hear him swallowing hard.


They galloped along the river until they reached the forest edge.

Scanning the strange, marshy plain to the west of the Long Lake, Legolas could see, coming from the north, a small group of riders working their way along the raised track. Gradually, his elven eyes distinguished their forms—first Angrod, Findaráto and Aredhel; then, some way behind them, Eowyn riding beside a green-elf he recognised as—

"By the Valar, Gimli, she is leading a pack horse!"


Heedless of the danger presented by the marshy ground, Legolas galloped past Angrod, Findaráto and Aredhel, brought Arod to a sudden halt, and—ignoring Gimli's colourful protests—jumped down and ran to Eowyn's side. She had already dismounted, laughing, and he lifted her into his arms and whirled her round, kissing her neck noisily.

"You weigh a ton in your armour, melmenya," he laughed. Then he whispered, "You did it! You did it, brave Eowyn nín!"

"Yes, I did it," she replied. And then, remembering her manners, she added, "One of the Edair decided to accompany me back to your father's Halls. He wants to talk to him." She turned to the Adar. "Legolas, this is—"

"Mae govannen, Siriondil," said Legolas. The two elves greeted each other formally.

"Siriondil is the best fletcher in the whole of Middle Earth, Lorien not excepted," said Legolas to Eowyn as they rode back towards the forest. "He taught me everything I know about arrows. And he says that you"—he grinned at her—"are the bravest, most eloquent, most beautiful creature he has ever seen. I believe I shall have to guard you very well in future, melmenya!"


"Let me see it," said Thranduil.

Eowyn opened one of the panniers.

Legolas gasped.

"This is one year's tax," she said. "There is another year's money in the other bag. The people of Caras Glawar ask for time to raise the remainder of the arrears. One of the Edair has returned with me to treat with you."

"Has he indeed," said Thranduil. "Tell me: how did they come by so much silver?"

"They trade with the men of Laketown," said Eowyn. "I thought you would prefer metal to payment in kind—however well the bows and arrows are made."

Thranduil looked up sharply. "You are shrewd, Eowyn vell nín."

Eowyn nodded, her face impassive.

"Good," said Thranduil. "Very good. Return to me at four o'clock and I will set you your final task. Now go and get some rest—you look mortal."


"You must be very tired, melmenya, let me put you to bed."

Eowyn, sitting on the floor by his feet, shook her head. "No, I want to watch you again," she said.

"Watch me?"

She nodded, laying her hands on his thighs and smiling wickedly.

"Oh! Watch me..." Legolas returned her smile. "Fortunately, you could raise a dead elf, melmenya..." Taking his time, he removed his sash, unfastened the front of his silver tunic and opened it. He was wearing nothing but a pair of fine silken leggings and he raised his eyebrows slightly—Well?—clearly expecting her to be impressed—and, indeed, the thin fabric was hiding nothing.

"Go on," said Eowyn, still smiling.

Legolas pulled at his laces, let the leggings fall open and then, still watching Eowyn's face, reached inside and lifted himself out, already full size—long and thick—but still soft.

"Oh..." Eowyn reached for it, longingly, but did not touch it.

Legolas wrapped his fingers around its root and fondled it. The shaft began to stiffen, first straightening, then rising slowly, until it stood upright against his belly. Leaning forwards now but still looking at her, Legolas began to move his fingers in a light, circular motion, teasing it and making it jump.

Eowyn groaned; her fingers moved closer.

Grasping the arm of the chair with his left hand, Legolas began to use his right in earnest, wrapping it around his shaft and stroking up and down, from root to head and back again.

"What does it feel like?" asked Eowyn, hoarsely.

"It is pleasant," he admitted, "but it is not like being inside you." He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair. "You are wet," he whispered, smiling, "and your body holds me, all of me, sometimes tightly, sometimes like a gentle caress. Inside you, I feel safe, even when you grip me hard and milk me without mercy." His hips had begun to move on the chair, thrusting himself into his hand. It was obvious that he was imagining his hand as her body. He moaned—

"No! No! Not yet!" she cried, breaking his rhythm.

Legolas opened his eyes and stared at her with all the agony of a male on the very brink suddenly denied release. "Oh, Valar," he gasped; "oh, Manwë and Varda..."

"I am sorry, my love!" Lifting her shift, Eowyn scrambled onto the chair, straddling him. "It hurts to watch you—I need you inside me."

With a gasp of pure relief Legolas pulled her down onto his lap.


Eowyn moaned as she felt his smooth, hard flesh fill her, stretch her, pushing up against her womb. Raking back his loose, soft hair and grasping his shoulders, she began to ride him.

"Do you have any idea," she moaned, "how much I love you, edhel nín?"

"I love you too," he answered. Then he took hold of her hips and, despite her protests, gently slowed her movements to an almost imperceptible rise and fall.


There was nothing left of Middle-earth—nothing but his penis stretching up inside her. And she—his glorious woman—was holding him in her soft, sweet body—holding them both on the very edge of completion—


He heard her cry and, too exhausted to hold her back this time, instinctively followed. And his seed, multiplied by denied release, burst forth, again and again, leaving him weak and trembling.

"Ai!" he sobbed, "Cuinon! Cuinam... Ai..."




Contents page

Contents page

Previous chapter: The Edair of Sad Glawar
Will the Edair listen to Eowyn?

Chapter 9

Next chapter: Osðryd
Thranduil drives a hard bargain.

Chapter 11

Cuio mae, little adaneth brave. I wish you cuil 'lassui with Prince Legolas means 'Live well brave little woman, I wish you a joyful life with Prince Legolas'.
As usual, this is a bit of a guess, but… the Sindarin word for 'joy' is glass. Adjectives can be formed by adding 'ui'. And when an adjective follows a noun the sound of its first letter is modified ('lenited') so that glassui, 'joyful' becomes 'lassui. Which is, of course, Legolas' nickname…


Naughty Elvish
Cuinon! … 'I come!' (literally, 'I live!').
Cuinam … 'We come'.