king thranduil


Ignoring the bear, which, despite having taken several of Haldir's arrows in the shoulder, was quickly closing on him, Legolas plunged into the black water and dived below the surface. Moments later he emerged bearing Eowyn's unconscious body, and, battling the enchantment that was already deadening his limbs, he began the long, slow struggle to reach the eastern bank, where Eomer and Haldir, shoulder-deep in the water, waited to help him.


"They look dead," said Eomer, softly, gazing down at the couple.

"They are not, your Majesty," said Dínendal, firmly. Legolas and Eowyn were lying side by side on a stretcher that the wood elves had improvised from fallen branches. The healer had already examined Legolas and was now checking Eowyn's pulse. "They are simply sleeping," he concluded, gently placing Eowyn's hand back on her breast.

"Well—then at least put her hands down by her sides," said Eomer. He yawned.

"You should be resting, too, your Majesty," said Dínendal, carefully moving Eowyn's arms.

Eomer shook his head. "No. There is nothing wrong with me. I am just worried at the prospect of appearing before King Thranduil bearing his only son on what looks like a funeral bier..."

"Perhaps we should wait here until they awake," suggested Gimli.

"We do not know how long that will be, Gimli," Eomer replied, yawning again. "And we would be risking another attack from the bear... What do you advise, Lord Fingolfin?"

"I agree that this will not create a favourable impression on King Thranduil," said Fingolfin, pointing to the stretcher, "and he can be most protective where is son is concerned. But the bear almost seems to be..." He hesitated. "It seems to have an interest in Lord Legolas and Lady Eowyn. I think we should keep moving."

"So do I," said Haldir. "The sooner we reach the safety of King Thranduil's Halls, the better."

Eomer nodded, thoughfully. "I agree," he said. "Let us proceed then. Haldir, Eofred—since the path is wider here, I want elven lookouts at the front and rear of the column, archers before and after the stretcher, and Rohirrim—with swords drawn—along the flanks. I want that stretcher fortified—organise it between the pair of you." He yawned.

"Your Majesty..." Dínendal began.

"And I will ride, Master Healer," said Eomer, yawning again. "Will that keep you happy?"


Lulled by Westwind's slow, steady gait, Eomer was finding it harder and harder to stay awake.

His head fell slowly forwards—

"Take care, beloved..." said a soft, musical voice, close behind him.

His head jerked up, and he turned in surprise, but there was no one to be seen.

Now you are hearing imaginary women, he thought. You have been away from Lothíriel for far too long...


They made camp at dusk.

Eomer, yawning more frequently now, sat beside his sleeping sister and watched the wood elves build a series of small fires around the campsite. At night, when the sun's healing rays vanished, the forest was filled with moths and bats and strange pairs of eyes, but inside the charmed circle of the fires all was warm and comfortable, and the elves and the men supped together like old friends.

"Will the fire keep the bear away?" Eomer asked Haldir.

"I am not sure, your Majesty," said Haldir, "but the camp will be well guarded. Leave that to Eofred and me."

Eomer nodded wearily. "Why have you not been affected by the enchantment?" he asked.

"I have, but I am an elf," replied Haldir.

"How could I have forgotten?" said Eomer. He smiled broadly, but the smile quickly turned into a yawn. "How much further do we have to go?"

Haldir turned to Valandil, who, with Camthalion, was building a shelter for Eowyn and Legolas. "It is still two days' journey to King Thranduil's Halls, your Majesty," said the wood elf, "but many of his subjects live some way outside the caves—in trees and on the ground—and we should begin to encounter them early tomorrow."

"Good," said Eomer, using his hand to stifle another yawn. "I was beginning to think that we were the only people left in Middle-earth... Now gentlemen, if you will excuse me, I think I will get some sleep."


Eomer awoke just as the rising sun was beginning to break through the trees.

He looked around the campsite. Several guards were watching the perimeter but most of the cavalcade was sleeping, apart from a small group of elves who had already begun to strike camp, working silently, in perfect accord. Eomer watched them for a moment, admiring their graceful movements. Elves, he thought, shaking his head, are like horses...

A slim white hand touched his arm.

Eomer pulled away, falling onto his back in surprise and—for a second—fear. The being—for he was sure that it was a being, though it looked like a woman—leaned over him. "Do not be afraid, beloved..." it said.

"I am still sleeping," said Eomer.

"You are somewhere between sleep and waking, beloved, and that is why you can see me now..." She smiled and stroked his hair and her touch was like the breeze.

"You are a creation of my own mind," Eomer persisted, "something that the enchantment has summoned up."

"No, beloved, no—the elves know that I am here. And the elf prince has bid me welcome..."


"Leg-o-las..." she said, sounding every syllable in her musical voice. "Yes..."

Then I shall certainly have something to say to Leg-o-las when he wakes up, thought Eomer. "Who are you? And what do you want?"

"My name is Firith," she said, smiling, "and I live among the trees..." She sat down beside him, wrapping her slender arms around her knees. "The elves left me alone in Lorien, but then you found me..."

"No, I did not find you—I did not even know you were there," said Eomer, shaking his head. And then, "Lorien? You have followed me from Lorien?"

"Yes, beloved..."

Eomer rubbed his forehead. "Do not call me that," he said. "I am married."


"What do you want?" he repeated.

"To be with you..."

Eomer looked into her eyes. "What does that mean?" he asked.

"I do not understand, E-o-mer..."

He reached out and touched her hand; it was warm, but insubstantial. "I am a man, you are—what? A spirit? Or a dream? I will never see you again, will I?"


"And I am married," he said, firmly.


Two days later

Eomer watched as Dínendal examined Legolas and Eowyn for what seemed like the hundredth time. The pair lay side-by-side on their wooden stretcher, their bodies slightly inclined towards one another, their hair and clothing dusted with hundreds of tiny, creamy blossoms that had fallen from the trees as they had passed beneath.

They truly look enchanted, thought Eomer.

"They are still sleeping very deeply, your Majesty," said the healer.

Eomer turned to the messenger from Mirkwood. "You say that King Thranduil awaits us?"

"Yes, your Majesty," replied the elf.

Eomer sighed. "Lord Fingolfin," he said, quietly, "what do you advise? There is no telling how long they will continue to sleep, so the decision becomes one of state craft—he is waiting. Do I jump to his command or do I make him wait longer? Which would give me the advantage?"

Fingolfin shook his head. "King Thranduil is a consummate negotiator, and his actions are never easy to predict, your Majesty," he said. "I advise that you do whatever feels most natural to you."

Eomer smiled. "Then I shall proceed," he said, "for I am not one for games. Everyone in their places," he called. "Let us give the King of Eryn Lasgalen a good show."


The Forest Path gradually widened into an imposing, tree-lined avenue, which—straight as an arrow—led down to the edge of the swift Forest River, across a massive stone bridge and up a tall flight of equally massive stone steps, to the Elvenking's fabled gates, where King Thranduil and his court were waiting impatiently.

This elf, thought Eomer, has more than a touch of man about him...

The Elvenking was sitting, beneath a pale green sunshade, on a magnificently carved wooden throne. Eomer's keen eyes took in the long blond hair, the perfect, impassive face, the slender body in heavy robes of silvery green brocade, the coronet and collar of silver and white gems... He looks like Legolas' older brother, he thought. And he is just as vain as his son. But he is much more of a showman.

Slowly, the cavalcade crossed the bridge—first, Haldir and Eofred with their lieutenants; then the two Counsellors, Fingolfin and Colgan; then the stretcher, with its guard of honour, followed by Eomer himself with Gimli riding behind; and then the rest of the party, men and elves, all riding side-by-side like the people of a single realm.

The great caravan came to a halt at the foot of the stone stair and the bearers carefully laid the stretcher on the ground. Eomer and Gimli dismounted and climbed the steps, followed by Lord Fingolfin.

"Do not concern yourself, King Thranduil," said Eomer, bowing briefly, "about your son's condition—my sister and he have merely been enchanted by the river and will, I am assured, awaken soon." He placed his hand over his heart and, bowing his head, recited, as Fingolfin had taught him, "Gîl síla erin lû e-govaded vín."

Thranduil inclined his head, graciously. "Baren bar lin."

"Thank you. Would you like to see your son?"

Thranduil rose with great dignity and followed Eomer down the steps. Eomer watched him examine Legolas. His expression was, as Fingolfin had warned, indecipherable, but Eomer heard him murmur, with obvious disappointment, "Oh Lassui," and it seemed as though he were looking at Eowyn when he said it.

At length, the Elvenking turned to the stretcher-bearers. "Take my son to his chambers," he said, "and the adaneth to the Healing Room."

Eomer opened his mouth to protest, but Lord Fingolfin quickly stepped forward. "With your permission, your Majesties," he said, smoothly, "might I beg that Prince Legolas also be taken to the Healing Room? He risked his own health to rescue Lady Eowyn"—he placed a slight emphasis on her name—"and I have no doubt that he would be extremely distressed were he to awake and not find her."

Thranduil looked at Eomer; the man inclined his head in agreement.

"Very well," said the Elvenking, "take them both to the Healing Room." He dismissed the bearers. "Eomer King," he continued, "I had planned to begin these negotiations, as is our tradition, with a great Welcoming Feast. But may I request that we postpone the festivities until my son awakes?"

"And my sister with him," said Eomer. "Of course, King Thranduil."


The Elvenking's Halls were built in 'a great cave' that 'wound far underground' with 'many passages and wide halls'. Most of the caverns were 'lit with red torch-light' but, here and there, shafts cut through to the surface allowed natural light to filter in and, as Eomer walked through the passages, he caught glimpses of underground gardens—mysterious grottoes filled with ferns and exotic flowers.

"It is impressive," he whispered to Gimli.

"Humph," said Gimli. "The best parts were built by dwarves. All the foolishness is the work of the elves—and why anyone would want to grow plants underground is beyond my understanding. It is not natural."


With dusk came cool, favonian breezes…
Ed Darack, Wind, Water, Sun

Eomer's apartment was a large, well-appointed cavern close to the Elvenking's Great Hall.

Having arranged for Haldir, Gimli and Lord Fingolfin to join him and Counsellor Colgan as soon as they had rested, he quickly—out of years of habit—unpacked his own belongings, washed off the grime of travel and changed into a clean shirt and breeches.

Then he poured himself a glass of fruit cordial and took a sip. Gods, he thought, savouring the warm, slightly sharp taste, liquid gold. Is there anything that elves do not do better?

The apartment had its own garden—about ten feet square—filled with greenery of every possible shape, shade and texture, exuberantly spilling from small stone beds sprinkled by an artificial waterfall. Eomer sat down on a bench and watched a tiny red bird fly from plant to plant, sipping nectar from large white flowers.

Like folded handkerchiefs, he thought, then shook his head: Gimli is right. And all this elven flightiness is corrupting me.

But Lothíriel would love it...

A soft breeze kissed his face and stirred his hair.

Mmmmm, that is nice. He looked around the cavern. But where is it coming from? The shaft is deep, the walls are solid, and there are no windows...

Eomer sprang to his feet and walked quickly back into the sitting room.


"I have seen them both, very briefly," said Gimli, "and they seem comfortable. But Thranduil is guarding Legolas like a she-warg guards her cubs—even Master Dínendal was shooed away."

"King Thranduil has always been very protective," said Fingolfin, "and understandably so—do not forget that he has had to raise his son himself."

"What did happen to Legolas' mother?" asked Eomer.

"She was a fragile elleth, by all accounts," said Fingolfin, "and childbirth was too much for her."

"She died?"

"In labour. She is waiting in the Halls of Mandos…"

"No wonder Legolas never mentions her," said Gimli. "That is a cruel fate—to die bringing life into the world. And a cruel inheritance—to be the cause of your own mother's death."

"Indeed," said Fingolfin. "And, at first, King Thranduil would have nothing to do with his son. But, in time, he softened, and then, gradually, he became fiercely possessive."

"That does not bode well for Eowyn," said Eomer. He rose. "More cordial gentlemen?" He walked over to the sideboard, collecting Gimli's glass on the way. "I will never understand what happened between Eowyn and Faramir, and I cannot say that I approve of dissolved marriages—as far as I am concerned a marriage is for life. But Eowyn loves Legolas and he loves her. And I will do everything in my power to see that they stay together."

"As will I, your Majesty," said Fingolfin.

Colgan nodded, and Gimli grunted, and only Haldir remained silent—but no one was in any doubt that the March Warden would give Eowyn whatever support she needed.

"Now, gentlemen," said Eomer, handing Gimli his refilled glass, "the Beornings. King Thranduil tells me that he will be introducing us to their chieftain at the Welcoming Feast. So we must be very careful to give nothing away..."

And he shook his head as a warm breeze ruffled his hair.


"Ada?" Legolas smiled up at his father, "What are you doing here?" He stretched his long, slim body luxuriously... then sat up, suddenly, in alarm.

"Sweet Eru," he cried, "where is Eowyn?"

"In the next bed," said his father.

Legolas threw back the coverlet, swung his feet to the floor, and stumbled across to her. "Is she all right?"

"She will soon recover."

"Oh, meleth nín," said Legolas, climbing up beside her and taking her in his arms, "I am so sorry..."

"Lassui!" chided his father. "What are you talking about? I have already told you that there is nothing wrong with her."

Legolas kissed the top of Eowyn's head and she sighed contentedly. "She knows I am here," he said, happily, gently stroking a stray strand of hair away from her face. "Is she not beautiful, Ada?"

Thranduil shook his head. "I dare say that she passes for a beauty amongst her own kind, Lassui, but by our standards she is quite plain... She really has very little to recommend her—apart, that is, from the fire that all men seem to possess, including that brother of hers."

"They arrived safely, then?" said Legolas, carefully arranging Eowyn's night-shirt.

"With great pomp and circumstance."

Legolas smiled. "Which I am sure you more than matched, Ada. How long have we been here?"

"About three hours," said Thranduil. "I had intended to postpone the Welcoming Feast until tomorrow but, since you are awake, we can dine tonight as planned."

"Not unless Eowyn has awoken, too, Ada," said Legolas.

"Lassui," said Thranduil, with a long-suffering sigh, "I know you think of this adaneth as your wife—and I admit that your loyalty to her does you credit—but I will not treat her as my daughter-in-law."

"I am here to change your mind about that."

"See sense, ion nín." Thranduil was growing exasperated. "An adaneth is not for you."

"The Valar themselves gave her to me, Ada—"

Thranduil held up his hand. "We will discuss this in the morning, Lassui. When you have had a chance to consider it further. And you will dine with our guests tonight, whether the woman has awoken or not."

"I will not leave Eowyn's side while she is still sleeping, Ada," Legolas replied, firmly. "Besides, consider what an insult it would be to her brother to hold the Welcoming Feast without her—when you need him as an ally."

Thranduil sighed again. "Very well," he said, holding up his hands in mock submission, "we will wait until she wakes." Then he added, "She has made you insolent, Lassui."

"No Ada," replied Legolas. "It was you who taught me the importance of twisting my opponent's arm during negotiations."


"Is your father in here?" asked Eomer, peering round the door of the Healing Room.

"No," said Legolas, "you have just missed him."

Eomer stepped inside and closed the door behind him. "How is she?" he asked, taking a seat beside his sister.

"Still sleeping. But she is aware that I am here—and every now and then she murmurs something. I do not think it will be long before she wakes." He looked intently at Eomer. "Something else is troubling you, mellon nín. Has my father insulted you?"

"No, no. I can see that he will be a difficult man—elf—to deal with, but it is not that." Eomer paused, looking down at his hands. "Before we entered the forest, Legolas, you said that you could sense something else travelling with us, besides the bear..."


"Was it a woman?"

Legolas smiled. "No," he said. "It was a woodland sprite. A harmless being."

"Is she here now? In this room?"

"No..." Legolas was surprised at the question, but he looked around the Healing Room. "No, I do not think so."


"Why do you ask?"

"Because I would not want to hurt her, but—"

"Eomer!" Legolas' startling blue eyes widened. "You are saying that you know of her!"

"I have seen her, spoken to her, felt her touch." Eomer sighed. "I have told her that I am married—"

Legolas laughed.

"It is not a joke, Legolas. She says that she wants to be with me. What do I do?"

Legolas smiled reassuringly. "I do not think that you need do anything, mellon nin. I am sure that she will soon forget you now that she is back in the forest."

"She is not in the forest," said Eomer. "She is in my chambers."

Legolas was again surprised. "How do you know?"

"I can feel her when she touches me—like a warm breeze."

"Where does she touch you?"

"In the garden."

Legolas shook his head. "That was not what I meant, Eomer. Has she—how do I put this—has she touched you intimately?"

"You mean..." Eomer gestured towards his lap; Legolas nodded. "No! No, of course not. She is not that sort of woman—spirit—sprite."

"Good," said Legolas.

"What do I do?" Eomer repeated.

Legolas settled back against the head of the bed. Eowyn, in his arms, stirred but did not waken. "I am not sure there is anything that you can do, Eomer," he said. "You cannot see her and, though you can speak to her, you cannot hear her reply, so you cannot reason with her. And you admit that you do not want to hurt her feelings. Therefore, if she wants to follow you—"

"No! I cannot allow that! She sleeps beside me. If she returns to Edoras with me..." He held up his hands in despair.

"But Lothíriel cannot see her either."

"Legolas! If it were you and Eowyn, what would you do?"

"I would ignore her."

"And let her watch you? With Eowyn?"

"Perhaps she would not want to watch that. Perhaps that would be too painful for her." said Legolas. "But, Eomer, there are many beings—corporeal and incorporeal—that follow us and watch us as we pass through life. Some we can see; some we cannot. If they do not harm us—or our loved ones—they are of no concern to us."

"She..." Eomer hesitated. "She has made herself of concern to me," he said, softly. He rose to his feet, walked over to the sideboard, and began fussing with the glass tumblers. "I do not know if you know this," he said, still very softly, "but I did not choose Lothíriel. Our marriage was a matter of political alliance. And..."

He sighed. "But I would never betray her, Legolas, even if such a thing were possible. Marriage is a commitment for life."

"How did you come to see her—the sprite?" asked Legolas, gently.

"I think it was the enchantment. I must have swallowed some of the water. I did not fall asleep, as you did, but I was completely exhausted—she said that I was between sleeping and waking."

"Then perhaps that is the answer," said Legolas. "Send someone to the Enchanted River to fetch a flask of water—Valandil and Orodreth would do it for you. Then take a drop, and see if you can speak to her."



"Hello, melmenya." He kissed her forehead. "How are you feeling?"


"I will fetch you a drink."

Legolas climbed off the bed, walked gracefully over to a side table and poured out a tumbler of water. He was wearing a short white night-shirt and as he bent with the jug, Eowyn could see the beautiful curve of his buttocks through the thin fabric, and his muscular thighs beneath.

"And frisky," she added.

Legolas laughed heartily. He held the glass to her lips and helped her take a few sips.

"You are in a good mood," she said. She looked around the room. "Where are we, Legolas?"

"In the Healing Room of my father's Halls. Do you remember what happened, meleth nín?" He set the glass down on the nightstand and took her in his arms.

She laid her head on his shoulder. "I remember the bear coming out of the trees; I remember falling... You pulled me out of the water?"

"With Eomer and Haldir's help."

She smiled. "Thank you," she said. "Are Eomer and Haldir all right?"

"Eomer was here just before you awoke, melmenya. They are both fine—"


"He is fine too. He had a few scratches, which Valandil has taken care of."

"What about the bear?"

"Haldir wounded it, but it is still at large." He smiled. "You are safe here, though, melmenya."

"It is you it wants," said Eowyn. "I was just in the way. But..." She hesitated. "Why did you not know it was there, Legolas? You knew that it was following us along the Anduin..."

"I have been wondering that myself, melmenya. And why did I not sense it on The Carrock?" He shook his head. "Perhaps I was distracted. Paying too much attention to other things."

"To me."

"Oh, melmenya, I did not mean that, I just... I feel I let you down."

"No, you did not! You rescued me—both times. Besides," she whispered in his ear, "I would far rather have a lover than a bodyguard. Especially at the moment..." She slipped her hand under his night-shirt and stroked him encouragingly.

"You are a wicked woman, melmenya."

She grinned, sliding her fingers up and down.

"Mmmmm." Legolas moaned as he kissed her neck.

"Does your father know anything about the bear?"

Legolas laughed against her skin. "You never stop do you? I have not had a chance to ask him, mel—"

"No, Princess Eowyn, I do not."




Contents page

Contents page

Previous chapter: Shadows
Who, or what, is following the cavalcade?

Chapter 2

Next chapter: Eowyn's rivals
Legolas' past is revealed.

Chapter 4

Extra scene: The Little Prince
Thranduil is mourning; a certain elfling steals his father's heart.

Extra scene

Extra scene: The King
Thranduil learns an important lesson.

Extra scene

Extra scene: The artist
Little Legolas’ drawing gives Thranduil an unpleasant surprise.

Extra scene

Extra scene: The gyngerbrede
Little Legolas does some cooking, King Thranduil does some listening, and they both have some Yuletide fun.

Extra scene

Tolkien on Thranduil.


Gîl síla erin lû e-govaded vín means
'a star shines upon the hour of our meeting'.
Baren bar lin … 'my home is your home'
Adaneth … 'mortal woman'
Adar … 'father'; Ada … 'dad' or 'daddy'
Firith, the name of the woodland sprite, is the elves' fourth season, late autumn, and means 'waning'.