They rode in single fileAngrod, Eowyn, Aredhel
and Findarátofollowing the north bank of the broad
Forest River for several miles until, quite suddenly, the 'shores
sank. The trees ended' and 'the lands opened wide.' Eowyn found
herself on a broad plain 'filled with the waters of the river
which broke up and wandered in a hundred winding courses, or halted
in marshes and pools dotted with isles on every side.'
The riders turned north. 'Far away, its dark head in a torn cloud',
a single, massive mountain broke the horizon. "You must have
heard of the Lonely Mountain," said Aredhel, bringing her
horse level with Brightstar.
"Yes," said Eowyn. "Gandalf described it to me.
But it is far lonelier and even more forbidding than I had imagined."
"Though the dragon, Smaug, was killed more than eighty years
ago," said the elleth, "the land around the mountain
has still not recovered..."
"This is a cold, frightening place altogether," said
Eowyn, looking across the marshes. "Where is Sad Glawar?"
"About five miles north of here," said Aredhel, "hidden
just inside the forest."
"Come in, Gimli. Take a seat," said Eomer, gesturing
towards the empty chair next to Lord Colgan.
Gimli sat down.
Eomer selected two sheets of parchment and handed them to the
dwarf. "I would like you to look at these and tell me what
you think is going on," he said.
Gimli studied the first sheet. It was a sketch map of East Lorien,
and an area called 'White Rocks' had been circled in red ink.
"What, exactly, do you want to know?" he asked. "There
is very little detail here and, without seeing the land itself,
there is not much I can tell you..."
"Read the report," said Eomer.
Gimli read the second parchment very carefullytwicepaying
particular attention to the sentences underlined in red. "By
Aulë!" he muttered, at length. "They are mining!
They are mining The Lady's land! And smelting, too."
"You were right, Colgan!" said Eomer, slapping his
Colgan, who was a slender man, winced slightly. "Can you
tell us what they are mining, Lord Gimli?"
The dwarf looked at the sketch map again. "No," he
said, shaking his head, "no. White Rocksthat could
describe many kinds of stone. And the ore could be copper, iron,
even silver. If I could see the place..."
"It is a good three hundred miles away, Gimli," said
Eomer. "Even on the plains of Rohan that would be six days'
gallop. Through dense forest it could take several weeks."
"Pity," said Gimli, shaking his head. "I would
teach them to mine The Lady's land!"
"Do you think that King Thranduil already knows of this,
your Majesty?" asked Colgan.
"No, Colgan. No, I do not," said Eomer. "And I
think we should keep it to ourselves, just for the time being."
The forest track was dark and narrow, and overgrown with bracken
and with sharp-thorned brambles that rose as high as Brightstar's
flanksseveral times Eowyn had to dismount and use her sword
to cut out a safe path for him, and she could not help but wonder
whether her guides had chosen the right track.
Gradually, however, the way began to clear.
And, then, to her surprise, Eowyn spotted a house.
It was such a strange thing and so much a part of its surroundings
that, had she not been looking anxiously for any sign of a settlement,
she would not have recognised it for what it was. It was lying
on the ground, like an animal curled between a group of young
trees, its broad, shallow-pitched roof covered in a drift of golden
elm leaves, the rough timbers of its front wall stained green
with moss and fungus.
Eowyn's elven escorts halted.
"Is this it?" she asked Aredhel, softly.
"No, we are not yet at the settlement," said the elleth.
"Caras Glawar, as the green-elves call it, is still about
a mile further west. But Garma, the elf who lives here, is my
uncle. And I will ask him to escort us past the Glawarim guards
and to introduce you to the Edair."
"Thank you," said Eowyn.
The woman and the elleth dismounted and Eowyn followed Aredhel
towards the house...
Before they could knock, the door flew open and the strange
inhabitant ran out and embraced Aredhel.
Eowyn suppressed a gasp. This creaturetall and lean and
dressed in simple animal skinswas nothing like the elves
she knew from Eryn Carantaur or, indeed, from Eryn Lasgalen. He
is at once more like a man and less like a man than they,
she thought. He has none of the remote dignity of a high elf
like Lord Fingolfin, nor the refined grace of Legolas and Haldir.
But he is truly a part of Ardain a way that no man could
Aredhel extracted herself from the elf's embrace and, gesturing
towards Eowyn, said something in Elvish, of which Eowyn recognised
only her own name and Legolas' title.
The elf placed his hand upon his heart, and bowed.
"Lady Eowyn," said Aredhel, "may I introduce my
father's dear gwadorand my second fatherGarma
With a warm smile, Eowyn returned his welcoming gesture, saying,
"Gîl síla erin lû e-govaded vín."
Garma, also smiling broadly, replied in rapid Elvish.
"Oh, no, sir," cried Eowyn, laughing, "I know a
few words only!"
The elf bowed again, apologetically. Then, with an exaggerated
sweep of his arm, he invited the woman into his house.
"Hannon le," she said, stooping low to enter.
Aredhel followed; Angrod and Findaráto waited outside.
Inside the strange dwelling, all was neat and cleanbut there
was none of the refined elegance that Eowyn had come to associate
with elven homes.
Aredhel quickly explained Eowyn's task and translated Garma's
reply. "He will help you all he can," she said. "He
has never met an adaneth before, and he wishes you and
Prince Legolas all the blessings of the Valar."
"Thank him for me," said Eowyn.
Quietly, Legolas opened the door of the Healing Room and stepped
He had come intending to apologise to Rothinzilfor he considered
himself responsible for the bear's aggression towards herand
he was also hoping that the elleth could tell him how the attack
had begun, and perhaps provide him with details that would help
him lay his own trap, later that night.
But the sight that greeted him, when he glanced around the room,
made him stop short.
Rothinzil was lying in a bed by the window. Sitting beside her,
holding her hand and talking earnestly, was Master Dínendal.
The healer was behaving, as always, with complete propriety. But
there was something more in his manner that made Legolas smile.
He is in love... he thought.
Dínendal is in love with Rothinzil!
He looked carefully at the elleth's face and his smile broadened.
Andthough she does not realise it yetshe loves
him, too. She has recognised in him a good, kind elf with whom
she can have a future.
Silently, Legolas backed out of the Healing Room and closed the
He would speak to Rothinzil later.
And, in the meantime, he would ask his father's healer to take
over the elleth's treatment, then Dínendal would be free
to follow his heart.
"Today's talks have been postponed, your Majesty,"
said Colgan. "Chief Bergthórr beytill is refusing
to play any further part until King Thranduil apologises."
Eomer laughed, mirthlessly. "It will be freezing cold in
the bowels of Mount Doom before that happens, Colgan. We
could be stuck in this gods-forsaken place for months."
The forest path ended abruptly at a massive earthwork, a huge,
dry moat surrounding a group of buildings similar to Garma's housecovered
in leaves and moss and almost invisible amongst the trees.
The green-elf rode ahead, calling out in Elvish and, immediately,
a narrow wooden drawbridge was lowered over the moat and two guards
appeared at the far end. At the same timeto Eowyn's discomfortseveral
other guards emerged from the forest behind the visitors, their
bows partially drawn.
Garma rode across the drawbridge. The others waited.
"The green-elves are wise in wood-lore and are deadly with
the bow, but they have never learned to forge arms of steel,"
explained Aredhel, softly. "When Sauron loosed his orcs into
Mirkwood many died, felled by the superior weapons of their foes.
Those who survived did so by retreating deeper into the forest
and learning to hide themselves in its arms."
A big, imposing elf, with a mane of light brown hair woven with
feathers, appeared from amongst the buildings and began a heated
argument with Garma.
"Thorondir Eaglegaze," whispered Aredhel.
The name was familiar. Of course, thought Eowyn, Legolas' bowmaster.
Guided by her instincts, the woman swung her leg over Brightstar's
back, dropped lightly to the ground, andafter telling the
horse not to stray: "Avo visto, Brightstar"began
crossing the drawbridge. The Glawarim guards raised their bows,
but Eowynthough inwardly nervousignored them and kept
"My lord Thorondir," she said, loudly, in the Common
Tongue, "I am Eowyn, The Lady of the Shield Arm, and I come
with a message from King Thranduil for the Edair of Caras Glawar."
The elf replied in Elvish.
"I know that you speak Westron, my lord," said Eowyn,
firmly, "because my betrothedthe most able of all your
pupilshas told me so."
"The most able of my pupils?"
"Prince Legolas," said Eowyn.
"Prince Legolas," said Thorondir, "the cwenda
who could never be controlled."
Eowyn smiled, "He is no longer your elfling pupil, my lord,
but a hero of the Ring war."
"As are you, my lady," said Thorondir, "reputedly."
Eowyn bowed her head. "That is not for me to say,"
she said. "Nevertheless, King Thranduil has seen fit to entrust
me with an important task."
"I must speak to all the Edair," said Eowyn.
The elf sighed. "Very well," he said, at length. "This
Berryn wandered into King Thranduil's library looking for a librarian.
It is an impressive collection, he thought, but it
does not compare to the library back home. He had already
begun to think of Eryn Carantaur as home, and of himself as the
colony's cartographer. King Thranduil clearly does not share
his son's love of the arts. He is a man of politics
Between two of the book stacks he glimpsed an elf carrying a
"Sir," he cried, in a loud whisper, "sirwait!sir,
do you speak Westron?" He hurried between the stacks and
followed the elf to a table at the furthest corner of the library.
"I do speak Westron," said the elf, "though
it is some years since I did so. What do you want, young adan?"
Berrynnever sure of the correct etiquetteplaced his
hand over his heart and bowed his head. "I am Berryn, son
of Hador," he said, "cartographer to Crown Prince Legolas,
and..." He paused. "Are you one of the librarians, sir?"
"I have spent many years in this library," said the
Berryn decided that that probably meant 'yes'. "May I know
your name, sir?" he asked.
"My name?" The elf looked surprised. "Why do you
want to know my name?"
"So that I may use it, sir," said Berryn.
"To do what?" asked the elf.
Gods preserve us! thought Berryn. He decided to change
the subject. "Crown Prince Legolas has asked me to search
the library for information about skin changers," he said.
"But I do not read Elvish. Sowill you help me, sir?"
"Skin changers?" The elf seemed even more perplexed.
"I am not interested in skin changers. I never have been."
Berryn rubbed his hand across his mouth.
The elf sat down at the table. "Though there was,"
he continued, unexpectedly, "a skin changer who took part
in the Battle of Five Armiesoh, some years ago."
"Eighty," Berryn supplied. "Did you see him?"
"Yes, indeed!" said the elf. "A bear one momenta
magnificent, black bear tossing 'wolves and goblins from his path
like straws and feathers'and then a man the next! I wonder
how he did it? They do say that his ancestor, Beren, learnt
the art from the Eldar..."
"Perhaps," said Berryn, quite casually, "if we
could find a book about skin changers, we could find out."
The Meeting House of Caras Glawar was a low, round building at
the centre of the settlement. Eowyn followed Thorondir through
its doors, ducking under the lintel. Once inside, she stood upright
and looked around, taking in the decorated pillars and the carved
roof beams. It is a less elegant version of the Banqueting
Hall at Eryn Carantaur, she thought. Perhaps Legolas was
inspired by it. She immediately felt more at home.
Followed by Aredhel and the others, Eowyn approached the great
ring-shaped table, where the people of Sad Glawar, including the
other Edair, were already gathering. She waited until Thorondir
had taken his place, then she stepped into the centre of the ring
andscrewing up her courageintroduced herself, placing
her hand over her heart and bowing her head respectfully. "I
am Eowyn, The Lady of the Shield Arm," she said, "sent
here by King Thranduil with an important message."
Keeping her hand in its place, she turned full circle, letting
her gaze fall on every elf and elleth sitting at the table. Then
she smiled at the Adar on Thorondir's right. "May I know
whom I address, my lord?" she asked.
"Malbeth Goldword does not speak Westron," said Thorondir.
He repeated his explanation in Elvish, for the elf's benefit.
Eowyn greeted Malbeth politely, then turned to the elf on Thorondir's
"I am Lassemista Greyleaf," said the elf, "and
my neighbour, who does not speak Westron either, is Siriondil
Eowyn greeted both of them.
"Tell us, adaneth dithen," said Lassemista,
"what is this important message you bring from Thranduil
Valar help me, thought Eowyn, but she chose to ignore
the Adar's insults. "The King asks why you refuse to pay
your taxes," she said. "You are four years in arrears."
To her surprise, Lassemista and Thorondir both laughed out loud
and, when the latter translated her words, the rest of the company
joined in the laughter.
"You are breaking the law," said Eowyn.
"We are green-elves," said Lassemista. "We have
no need of an edel's laws. The forest is our sovereign;
we obey its law. We take nothing from Thranduil and we pay him
nothing in return."
Eowyn sighed inwardly. This is not going well, she thought. "Your
way of life was shaped by dangerous times," she said, "But
in the Fourth Age a different kind of life is possible. In the
Fourth Age you are free to live as you have always desired."
Aredhel began translating her words for her as she spoke.
"In this new age, my betrothed," said Eowyn, "King
Thranduil's son, Prince Legolas, has founded a new colony, in
South Ithilien, close to the Mountains of Mordor." She smiled.
"There we live with elves and men and dwarves, tending the
forest together, in daily contact with our friends from Gondor
and Rohan and the Shire. We do not hide in a moated fortress but
travel freely, throughout all Middle-earth. I have seen
Imladris; I have walked in the Forests of Fangorn and Lorien.
Prince Legolas has galloped across the plains of Rohan. He and
I have explored the glittering caves of Aglarond together; we
have walked along the streets of Minas Tirith; and we have sailed
in the Bay of Belfalas..."
Eowyn heard murmurs behind her. She was beginning to reach the
ordinary elves and ellithshe could feel it. "What you
have told me was wise, my lords; most wise in time of danger.
But is it necessary, in time of peace, to confine yourselves inside
"Come in," called Legolas, swinging his legs off the
bed and standing.
The sight of Dínendal with Rothinzil, though charming,
had made him miss Eowyn desperately and, athough he had spent
the last hour lying on his back, trying to plan the night's bear
hunt, his thoughts kept wandering back to her.
The door opened and Haldir entered.
"March Warden! What is it?"
Haldir looked uncomfortable. "It is nothing, really,"
he said. "It is just... Lady Eowyn..."
"You are worried for her?"
"And you do not know what to do with yourself. Nor do I,
mellon nín. Come, sit down." Legolas, pointed
to two chairs by the fire. "It is my turn to offer you the
strong wine of Dorwinion." He walked to the sideboard, took
the stopper from a glass decanter, and filled two large goblets.
"Here," he said, handing one of the glasses to Haldir.
The elves stared into the empty fireplace.
"What are you going to do, Haldir?" asked Legolas,
"You cannot go on like this, mellon nín."
"I have no choice," said Haldir.
"No," said Legolas. "No; I can understand that.
But, perhaps, if you were to look for an elleththere are
many in Eryn Carantaur who admire the March Warden"
"Did you ever consider that?" asked Haldir. "When
she was married to Prince Faramir, did you look for an elleth?"
"No," said Legolas.
"And if the Valar had not granted you your wish, would you
be looking for an elleth now?"
"It is painful," agreed Haldir, "but it is less
painful than living a lie with an elleth for whom I have no feelings.
And I do have her friendship."
"Yes, you do," said Legolas, sincerely.
"The story of your travels is interesting," said Thorondir,
"but it does not explain why we must pay Thranduil's taxes."
"To be part of the world is to share responsibility for
it," said Eowyn. "A manor an elfpays taxes
not just for his own benefit but for the benefit of all his fellows.
A wise, honourable kinglike wise, honourable Eldersdistributes
the money he has collected wherever it is needed. Next year, it
may be you, yourselves, who suffer flood or famine and need assistance."
"Green-elves do not accept charity," said Lassemista.
"It is not charity, my lord; it is yours by right
if you have paid taxes. All pay taxes for the good of all. Sometimes
the money goes to help your friends, other times it helps your
former enemies. In time of war, it is diverted to the manufacture
of armour and weapons... I would never claim that Middle-earth
is a perfect world, my lords," Eowyn continued, "for
the time of the Eldar has passed. But the rulers of menand
of the elves who have stayed behindare trying to make it
a place where the strong are encouraged to meet their responsibilities
and the weak are never forsaken."
The Adar called Siriondil Riverlover said something in Elvish.
There were more murmurs from the elves sitting behind her, and
Eowyn looked to Aredhel. But it was Thorondir who translated the
words for her: "He says that you are arguing that, by raising
taxes, men try to make the Fourth Age more like the world of the
Edil, the High Elves."
Eowyn turned to Siriondil and bowed her head. "Yes, my lord,"
she said. "I suppose I am."
The four Edair held a brief discussion.
Then Thorondir addressed Eowyn. "We will give our people
the opportunity to consider your words, then we will ask them
to cast their votes," he said. "Aredhel and Garma may
remain here. You and your escorts must wait in the Eating Hall.
You are probably in need of refreshment."
"How am I to use Eowyn's plan?" asked Legolas, looking
deeply into his wine. "I suppose thatif I were not
concerned about hurting Gunnhildror about hurting EowynI
could pay court to her all night and then slight hermake
her angry with me. But I cannot do that..."
"No," agreed Haldir. "You cannot. But perhaps
you should pay her some attentionbe kind to her but
not too encouragingand then just happen to mention that
you are in the habit of walking along the tunnels at night."
"Do you think that would work?"
"It might encourage her join you," said Haldir, "but
whether as a woman or as a bear..." He shrugged his shoulders.
"I do not want Eowyn to act as bait."
"Certainly not," said Haldir. "If we do not solve
this before she completes your father's tasks we will have to"he
thought for a moment"lock her in here until
it is safe."
"She would escape, mellon nín," said
Legolas, shaking his head.
The two elves looked at each other for a long moment, silently
agreeing that to protect Eowyn was their first concern.
Then Haldir said, softly, "You really have no choice but
to be a little cruel. Collect the girl from her chambers and take
her into dinner. Be polite and attentive, and tell her that you
will be walking along the tunnels tonightsay that you are
missing Lady Eowyn. We will be waiting in the side tunnel just
beyond your chambers. If she follows you, we will capture her."
The elf in the librarywhose name, Berryn discovered, after
much questioning, was Ornendilwas not, in fact, a librarian
and knew very little about the arrangement of the library except
in his own quiet corner.
"What are you studying?" asked Berryn, guiding him
towards another book stack.
"Fungus," said Ornendil.
"Ah," said Berryn. "And what are these books about?"
He pointed to one of the shelves.
"The history of the eldar," said Ornendil.
"Literature. There is," he said, turning to
Berryn, "a story about a brother, abandoned in the forest,
who was raised by bears..."
The door to Gunnhildr Bergthórsdottir's chambers was opened
by a lady's maid, modestly dressed but not, Legolas noticed, veiled
like her mistress.
"Good evening," said the elf, stepping inside, unbidden.
"Would you inform Lady Gunnhildr that I have come to escort
her to the Great hall for dinner?"
The lady's maid looked surprised, but she curtseyed and then
disappeared into the bedchamber. Legolas heard her deliver his
message and heard the two women argue brieflytheir voices
were low and he could not be sure exactly what was being said,
though he heard his own name used more than oncethen Gunnhildr
emerged into the main chamber.
Legolas realised that he was staring.
The girl had borrowed an elven gown and had had her hair arranged
by an elleth, andalthough the gown was a trifle longshe
Legolas could not find the right word.
The previous night, in her shapeless, modest dress, she had seemed
heavy, and the harsh green cloth of her veil had robbed her skin
of all its colour. Tonight, the softly draped folds and the low,
scooped neckline of her gown showed her figure to be slender and
graceful, and its pale orange silk made her flawless skin glow.
Sweet Eru, she looks radiant, thought Legolas. How
could she ever have seemed plain? "My lady," he
said, holding out his hand and smiling with genuine pleasure at
the girl's transformation, "my father's Court awaits you."
Gunnhildr bowed her head, gracefully, and placed her hand on
Eowyn nín is wrong about her, he thought, as they left
the chambers. She must be. But, then, who is the bear?
"Lady Eowyn," said Angrod, "will you not sit down
and have something to eat?"
Eowyn stopped pacing and turned towards him. "Thank you,"
she said, "but I could not eat anything." She sighed;
her mouth was dry. "Perhaps, though, I will have a
Angrod poured her a glass of water. "Here, my lady,"
he said. "And please try to eat something."
Eowyn sat down heavily. "What do you think they will decide?"
she asked. "How would you vote?"
"If I were a green-elf?" Angrod shrugged his elegant
shoulders. "It is hard to imagine, my lady. They are a very
primitive people. They deliberately shun the customs that have
grown up amongst the more developed races. But the ordinary elves
and ellith were listening to you. I think"
"Lady of the Shield Arm!" Thorondir Eaglegaze's sudden
arrival cut Angrod's answer short. "We have one more question
for you," he said. "Come with me."
Eowyn stood before the four Edair like a prisoner awaiting her
"Our people have voted," said Lassemista Greyleaf,
"and the result is in your favour."
Eowyn sighed with relief.
"But you have not won yet, lady," he continued, "for
their decision must be approved by the Edair. And what we
want to know is why Thranduil hwarn has sent you
as his emissary?"