eowyn and legolas

"Melmenya," cried Legolas, "melmenya, where are you?"

"Here! I am here!"

Somehow, in the darkness, he found her and took her in his arms.

"I could not move," she whispered. "I could not help you!"

"Shhhhh, my darling." He held her tightly, as though afraid she might still be stolen from him, "Oh, Eowyn nín." Without the tiny sun, the cavern was dark and eerily quiet. "Magus?"


"Can you give us some light?"

"A moment..."

There was a rustling of robes, then Legolas heard the word "Burn!" and all the torches in the cavern simultaneously burst into flame.

"The sun?" he said, "is it...?"

The Magus bent towards the Mithril shell, and sighed with relief. "It is water and earth," he said.


"I must find Hentmirë," said Legolas.

"Yes, go to her," said Faramir, "both of you. I will see to things down here."

Legolas seized a torch from the cavern wall and he and Eowyn ran up the tunnel. Hentmirë was still crawling downwards, her movements slow and painful. "I was not me," she sobbed.

"Oh, gwendithen nín!" Handing the torch to Eowyn, Legolas fell to his knees beside her.

"I was staying in the room, like you said."

"I know you were, mell nín," said Legolas. "I know you were. Come, I shall carry you up to the Palace and then the Magus will help you."

"I am too heavy," she wailed.

"No, you are not, gwendithen." He scooped her into his arms and rose effortlessly to his feet. "I am an elf."

Hentmirë grasped his waistcoat and, leaning close to his ear, whispered, "I killed him."

"Killed whom?"

"Baalhanno. I killed him."


They found the magician lying further up the tunnel—arms and legs stretched out in agony—his lifeless body crushed in the plant's thick, green coils, his face already partially devoured by its spiked leaves.

"Dear gods," whispered Eowyn.

"Do not get too close, melmenya," said Legolas. "We shall have him cut free and his remains sent back to the Hatja. Faramir will deal with it."


Slowly, the others filed past Baalhanno's body: King Shamash supported by Faramir; Valandil, helped by Niqmaddu; and a very disoriented Haldir, escorted by Orodreth and Camthalion.

At Shamash's suggestion, Legolas carried Hentmirë to the king's private chambers, where Niqmaddu quickly reversed the damage Baalhanno had inflicted on her heart and lungs. Then the magician also excised all remnants of magic from Eowyn, Valandil, and Haldir, before beginning the long, slow task of visiting every room in the palace and restoring the rats to their human forms.

"Do you require," asked Legolas, quietly, "that my March Warden be punished for this, your Majesty?"

The king shook his head. "Without you and your companions, Prince Legolas, I might have spent the rest of eternity as vermin! And the wretch would undoubtedly have destroyed my land and my people. You have rendered me a service beyond price," he said, "all of you, and I would be churlish to seek retribution." He lifted his hand from his shoulder and examined the wound. "Besides," he added, "it is already healing. It will be gone in moments."

He smiled, sadly.


Before daybreak, Faramir, the two elves, and the Hatja's assassin—who had survived his epic battle with the king's bodyguards unscathed—escorted the King of Kuri's Ambassador to the Hatja's flagship.

"Welcome, Excellency," said the Ambassador, bowing low. "His Majesty, Shamash III, King of Kuri, presents his cordial greetings and begs that you and your retinue vouchsafe to accept his hospitality..."

Whilst the formal arrangements were being made, Faramir apprised the Hatja of his half-brother's plans and of his sorry fate.

"So I was right, and you were wrong," said the Hatja.

"Indeed," said Faramir. "It seems that, since he could not rule it legitimately, he did intend to destroy Carhilivren. We have brought his body back to you, to dispose of as you see fit."

The Hatja nodded, gravely. "And the woman?"

"She has not been found," said Faramir. "But the Palace guards are gradually being restored and the Palace is being searched. It is only a matter of time."


"Do you have any weaknesses, your Majesty?" asked Legolas.


"When we find your aunt," said the elf, slowly, "we must kill her—or, rather, kill her body, for Baalhanno has already destroyed her spirit. It will be a mercy to lay her to rest, both to her and to her followers."

"To her followers... You mean her soldiers? I thought you said they died in the prison."

"They did, and their spirits are there still," said Legolas. He described the despair that Valandil had sensed, and the promise he had made.

The king listened gravely. "She made them swear allegiance for as long as she lived," he said. "I thought it was just words..."

He looked up at the elf. "In the last two hundred years, Prince Legolas, I have been stabbed, strangled, beaten senseless twice and shot three times and, in every case, I recovered in a matter of hours. I have no idea how to kill my aunt."


Searching for some wine to help Hentmirë sleep, Eowyn came unexpectedly upon Haldir, standing by one of the great glazed windows, gazing out across the City of Kuri.

"March Warden," she said, softly, "are you well? In the cave, you seemed to be in pain."

Haldir could not bring himself to look at her. "It was nothing..."

He sighed. "Eowyn," he said, his eyes still averted, "I can think of no words to express my remorse to you, and, especially, to Legolas, for he has never shown me anything but understanding. All I can do is apologise—"

Eowyn placed her small hand on his arm. "You were not yourself."

"You think not? You are kind, as always. But I think that I was more myself—"


"No matter," said Haldir. "It will soon be put right."

"What do you mean?"

"I—I cannot say."

"Please," said Eowyn, "do not do anything foolish, Haldir. Not on my account. Promise me!"

At last, the elf turned his face to her, and smiled, sadly. "Trust me, Eowyn," he said. "And forgive me."


Faramir's next task was to find the Early Bird.

True to his word, Captain Mutallu had sent out a second rowing boat to act as a marker buoy—tethered to the Bird, but far enough away to be visible.

Faramir's boat slipped inside the shroud. "We are to moor the Early Bird on the north dock," he shouted to the captain. "The Magus will come down to the wharf and lift the spell as soon as his work in the Palace is complete."


Troubled by Haldir's words, Eowyn had to pause and steel herself before opening the door.

"Here we are," she said, laying her tray on the small table beside Hentmirë's bed. "This is made, I am told, from one of the local flowers, and it tastes like violets." She handed the other woman a glass of pale, rose-pink wine.

Legolas, sitting on the opposite side of the bed, reached out to steady Hentmirë's hand and help her take a sip. "How are you feeling, gwendithen?" he asked.

Hentmirë smiled. "Much better, thank you," she said. "Whatever the Magus did, all that terrible pain just drained away. In fact, I feel better than ever!"

She took another sip. "Legolas..."

The elf smiled. "I know that look," he said, "what is worrying you now, gwendithen nín?

"Did you mean it?"

"Of course he meant it," said Eowyn.

"And you do not mind?" asked Hentmirë.

"Of course not."

"Then when can we go?" she asked, beaming. "Soon?"

Legolas laughed. "As soon as we can settle your affairs, and book passage—"

"Oh no, my dear," cried Hentmirë. "Captain Mutallu will take us."


"WILAWEN!" Valandil ran along the wharf. The berth seemed empty, but from the direction of the sea he could hear the sounds of a ship lying at anchor. "WILAWEN!" he cried, "WILAWEN! CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

"The people of Minas Tirith can hear you," said a female voice. "Wait: they are about to lower a gang plank."

A few moments later, she appeared from nowhere, on the quay beside him. Valandil swept her into his arms.

"You survived, then," she said, burying her face in his hair.

"Only just," said the elf, kissing the top of her head. Then he lifted her into the air and whirled her round, laughing.

"Put me down, you idiot elf!" cried Wilawen.

But she did not mean it.


Hentmirë had settled down to sleep.

Eowyn drew Legolas away from the bed. "I am worried about Haldir," she said, softly. "He is behaving strangely."

"You think he is still enchanted?"

"No... No, I am sure he is free of that, at last. But I think he feels a need to pay, somehow, for what he did."

Legolas sighed. "Stay with Hentmirë, melmenya. I shall go and find him."


"You are certain that you want me to do this?" asked Niqmaddu.


"Perhaps you should discuss it with Prince Legolas first—"


The magician sighed. "You are placing great trust in me—trust that is, perhaps, unwarranted."

"You seem to get it right most of the time."

Niqmaddu smiled. Then he said, "Have you really considered what the absence of feeling might entail?"

"I have no choice. Things cannot be left as they are. What happened down there must never happen again."

"Very well, then. Sit down and lean forwards." The magician touched his wand to the back of elf's head. "Forget."

There was no bang, no flash, no fanfare. But when Haldir raised his head, his face was wet with tears.


Once the Court had been restored, and the Palace was once more running smoothly, and the route from the port to the Great Gates had been cleared of its barricades, and all the broken doors and windows had been covered over, King Shamash and his Inner Council went down to the quayside and formally bid the Hatja of Carhilivren welcome.

"Too long," said the king, "have our countries been sundered by the malice of one individual. Tonight, we shall seal our new friendship with a Great Feast.

"And, tomorrow, we shall confirm our alliance with a formal Treaty."


"He has done what?" cried Legolas.

"He has had his love for Princess Eowyn removed from his heart and his mind," said Niqmaddu.

"And what effect will that have?"

"I do not know, exactly."

"Why did he not talk to me first?" asked Legolas.

"He did not want to burden you or, especially, Princess Eowyn. And, of course, he was afraid that you might talk him out of it."

"Please—do not tell Eowyn what he has done."

"Of course not."

Legolas turned to leave—then another thought occurred to him: "Magus," he said, "what is to stop him falling in love with her again the moment he sees her?"

"Nothing, your Highness," said the magician. "Absolutely nothing."


"I want the woman dealt with," said the Hatja, quietly, as he preceded King Shamash into the king's palanquin. He waved graciously to the cheering crowd.

"Naturally," said Shamash, taking the seat opposite.

"Will you return her to Carhilivren to complete her sentence?"

Shamash shook his head. "My poor aunt is beyond the laws of men, Excellency. It is time she was sent to make peace with the gods."

"You intend to execute her?"

Shamash waved to the crowd. "Nothing public. She will be treated mercifully and with compassion."



The big elf was sitting on a stone bench just outside the king's apartments, leaning back against the marble wall, staring at the Lapis ceiling.

Legolas threw himself down on the seat. "Do not tell Eowyn what you have done."

"You have spoken to the Magus."

"Yes. Do not tell Eowyn."

"Of course not." Haldir looked down at his hands. "I was not an innocent victim in this, Legolas," he said. "Baalhanno took my feelings and distorted them, yes, but the feelings were already there."

"Do you think," said Legolas, "that when Eowyn was married to Faramir, I did not feel the same thing? That he was not good enough for her?"

"But did you try to kill him?"

"Ceryn Manwë, edhel," cried Legolas, "if I had, I should not have missed!"

There was moment's stunned silence. Then Haldir laughed.

Legolas grinned. "Why are you sitting outside the door?" he asked.

"I need to know if it has worked."

"Come inside."

"I cannot."

Legolas nodded. "Either way, you lose," he said.


Legolas quietly closed the door behind him.

Hentmirë was asleep, snoring lightly. Eowyn rose from her chair and joined him.

"Did you find Haldir?" she whispered.

"I did," said Legolas.


"He is still blaming himself. But I do not think he will do anything foolish now." It was not exactly a lie.

"Are you sure?"

Legolas nodded.

Eowyn squeezed his arm, gratefully. "Thank you." Then, "There is another thing," she said. "What am I to do with the djinn?"

"He is your slave, melmenya," said Legolas, "for as long as you live. So I do not think you have any choice but to take him back to Eryn Carantaur with you. But I doubt that he will object. Especially if you buy him a nice new lamp and leave him undisturbed inside it."


King Shamash held the Great Feast that same night, with Legolas, Eowyn, and the others seated at his own table and treated like his own family.

And when the formal part of the evening was over, and the guests had relaxed and begun to mingle, the people of the North found themselves much in demand.


Haldir, sitting alone at the end of the table, glanced at Eowyn, testing, for the hundredth time, the strange emptiness that flooded his heart whenever he looked at her. She is beautiful, he thought, so fragile and yet so strong—it is no wonder I loved her. And, in time, I could easily fall in love with her again...

He sighed. Are things any better than before?

One of the king's eunuchs was singing:

"The men in yon forest, they ask it of me,
'How many strawberries grow in the salt sea?'
And I answer them all with a tear in my eye,
'How many ships sail in the forest?'

Oh dig me a grave and dig it so deep,
And cover it over with flowers so sweet.
And I'll lay me down to take a long sleep
And maybe in time I'll forget her.

Haldir rose from his seat and left the Hall.


"Your small friend is very happy tonight," said King Shamash.

Eowyn looked across the chamber to where Hentmirë was learning—with little natural grace but with great determination—to dance like an elf.

"I think she has everything she has ever wanted," she said, smiling. "And she deserves it."

"That is a very generous sentiment," said Shamash. Then he asked, softly, "You are like me, are you not?"

"Your Majesty?"

"You are no longer mortal, either."

"What makes you say that?"

"You are the only person here—apart from the elves—who does not want the water." He smiled his sad smile. "Some of them want it so fiercely that, given the chance, they would kill to get it. And none understands what a burden it is... Tell me: how can a woman who was born mortal be so calm at the prospect of never-ending life?"

"I shall be with Legolas."


"Your Majesty... Did he—Baalhanno—did he approach you? With the same promise of power that corrupted your aunt?"

"How perceptive you are! Yes, he did. He was another who misunderstood the nature of man."

He turned to face her and spoke vehemently: "I already have what most desire, Princess Eowyn—I do not age; I shall not die. But a man is not equipped to outlive his allotted span. He was never intended to see his childhood friends grow senile; to feel his beloved wife age in his arms; to outlive his children, and his children's children... And that is why I knew, without a moment's thought, that power beyond the normal reach of man was a thing to be feared, not welcomed. I sent him away."

Hentmirë, who had just returned to her seat, breathless, caught the end of his answer. "Your Majesty," she asked, "why did you not give your wife and children some water?"

"If a man is not immersed in the spring immediately after birth, as I was, my lady," said the king, "he must drink the water continually, over many years, to achieve the same result. And my aunt guarded the source like a roc guards her eggs, making her soldiers swear, on pain of death, to prevent anyone but her from entering the cave. She would sell small quantities to the rich and powerful, and allow her lovers to drink it—whilst they remained in her favour—but she deliberately kept it from my wife and children. And by the time I became king, they were dead."

"How sad," said Hentmirë, sincerely. "And you have never met another wo—ow!"

Eowyn had given her a sharp dig in the ribs.

Hentmirë changed the subject. "I would not want to be immortal," she said. She dipped the tip of her finger in a patch of spilled sugar. "But I do hope that the gods grant me a long life." She drew a star in the white powder. "I have already lived—oh, a good many years—but now that I have met Legolas and am going home with him—and with you, too, Eowyn, and the others—I should like a little more time."


"So, you are saying that I must live in Minas Tirith with you?" said Valandil. He followed Wilawen out onto the terrace.

"I am saying that I cannot leave my father there alone."

"Then bring him to Eryn Carantaur."

"He will not move, Valandil. He is far too set in his ways."


"You are doing it again!"

"Meleth nín," Valandil corrected, "let me take you back to Minas Tirith and ask your father for your hand. I will talk to him, elf-to-man. And either I shall persuade him to come back with us, or I shall persuade myself to stay there with you. We shall be together, Wilawen. I promise you."


Figwit, quite unaccustomed to crowds after his long isolation in the prison, slipped out of the Banqueting Hall and wandered, shyly, along the cooler, quieter corridors, admiring the artificial forests adorning their walls.

He paused for a moment beside a fine mural, depicting some golden age when men and strange beasts—big, fierce cats, and huge, tusked pigs, and water-dwelling dragons—lived together in harmony.

"There is something unwholesome in the way they counterfeit nature, do you not think?" asked a familiar voice. "The dwarves, at least, are honest in their use of stone..."

Figwit smiled. "I find it charming, March Warden," he said, "that a people who have so little chance to see trees should love them so much, and depict them with such—"

He stopped, mid sentence, his face frozen with horror.

"Aegnor," said Haldir, softly, "what is it?" He turned, slowly, following the other elf's gaze. "Oh Valar!"

A woman—tall, slender, with long black hair—was emerging from a field of ripe corn. She crossed the corridor, seemingly oblivious to the two elves, and disappeared into the tangled undergrowth between two mighty trees.

"Is that her?"

Figwit nodded.

"The doors she is using are hidden by some spell. That is why they could not find her... Come! I think I know where she is going!"

The doors to Naqiya-Zakutu's apartments were locked, but Haldir prised them open with his sword and led Figwit through the chambers and down the sloping tunnel to the mouth of the cavern.

Figwit caught his arm. "Perhaps we should go back and get help," he whispered.

"No. She has no magician to help her now." Haldir stepped into the cave, sword drawn.

Naqiya-Zakutu was standing beside the rock pool, staring down into the green water. It would have been easy to attack her from behind—to take off her head with a single blow—but, now that it came to it, Haldir could not bring himself to strike her without warning.

"Madam," he said, quietly.

The woman turned, and stared at him with dead, unseeing eyes.

Then her gaze shifted. "Fig-wit," she said, and smiled. Her voice was a dry rattle, and her smile was contorted, but there was a grotesque affection in her manner...

"Oh Valar," gasped Figwit.

Naqiya took a few steps towards him.

"Back!" cried Haldir, stepping between them. "I said—"

A single blow from Naqiya's small fist sent the March Warden reeling.

Figwit panicked. "No!" He cried, "No! I shall not submit to you! No!" He flew at her, pushing her with all his strength. "No, no, no..."

She collided with the low wall of the enchanted pool and, as she fell backwards—so slowly—into the water's evil-green depths, the expression on her face seemed to turn from love, to dismay, and then to immense sadness.

"Oh no," sobbed Figwit, "no..." but, still, he held her head beneath the water.

She hardly struggled.

And very soon her movements ceased altogether.

"I am sorry," sobbed Figwit. "I am sorry."


The elves carried Naqiya-Zakutu's body to her own apartments and laid her upon her bed, then Haldir returned to the Banqueting Hall to inform King Shamash of his aunt's death.

Accompanied by Eowyn, the king came to see her for himself.

"She looks at peace," he said, softly. "May the gods be merciful to her..." He turned to Figwit. "I must apologise, sir, for the horrors you have endured at her hands and those of her accomplice. I am told that you were waiting to sail West when you were taken. I cannot replace the years you have lost, but my personal shipwrights are at your disposal, should you wish to build another ship and continue your journey."

Figwit placed his hand upon his heart and bowed his head. "Thank you, your Majesty," he said, "you are most kind."

The king offered his arm to Eowyn. "Strange," he said, as he led her through the door, "that the water should be its own cure. If I had known—"

"Please, your Majesty," said Eowyn. "Do not do it."

"Would it really be so wicked, my lady? When I am so, so tired? After all, the elves leave the world when they tire of it."

"But you are a man," said Eowyn. "And a good king."

They walked slowly down the corridor. "Not all of the elves have left, your Majesty," she said. "Legolas is restoring the forests of South Ithilien and his father is protecting Eryn Lasgalen—both are doing important work." She did not mention that Legolas would also stay for her. "You inherited a similar duty. And your country—your people—need your leadership—now, more than ever."

Shamash sighed. "You shame me, my lady."

Eowyn smiled. "No, your Majesty. You carry a heavy burden, and you carry it alone. But it may not always be so. Perhaps—"

She hesitated a moment, then continued: "Yes, I know I can speak for Legolas in this. Whenever you need time to rest, and reflect, there will always be a place for you amongst the immortals of Eryn Carantaur."

"Thank you," said Shamash, "thank you, my lady." He kissed her hand. "Your husband is a lucky elf."



Eowyn slipped off her embroidered shoes and, hand-in-hand, she and Legolas walked along the deserted beach.

"It is doing my spirit good to see the sea," said Legolas.

"Does it still call to you?"

Legolas smiled. "Yes..."

"I am so sorry, Lassui."

"For what?"

"When I was changed," she said, "you lost any chance of sailing West."

"Melmenya!" He was taken aback. "How could you say that to me? How could you think it?"


"I thought we understood each other! Come!" he said. "Come!"

He pulled her across the sand and, at the water's edge, grabbed her by the waist and—quite roughly—pushed her to the ground.

A small wave broke, spread up the shallow slope, then ebbed away—and Eowyn gasped as its cold water touched her bare back and shoulders.

Legolas pulled up her skirts.


"Shhhhh." He leaned forward and covered her mouth with his own, and she felt his body lift up, and his hand fumble with his own lacings, and then he was crushing her again and his hard ceber was pressing against her sensitive flesh, and it felt beautiful.

She opened her legs wider and—

Another wave broke and surrounded her, soaking her skin and floating her hair.

—and then he was inside her.


He rose up on his hands, and she watched him—glowing faintly against the night sky, his face transformed by passion—her wild, beautiful wood elf, possessed by the sea, fucking her with its ebb and flow.

She stretched out her hands, and joined him, at one with the sea, catching each wave as it broke and releasing it as it slipped away.

There was no sudden climax for her this time but, instead, a long, slow kindling—of her core, and her belly, her breasts, and all her limbs—and a prolonged, almost unbearably sweet, burning, and then a gradual dying away...

And then she felt him come, without a sound, his face buried in the crook of her neck.

"Oh, Lassui." She stroked his hair.

"Do not think I will ever leave you," he whispered. "The sea is part of me, melmenya. But you are my life."


the end


Epilogue: The following morning

"Farewell, my lady." King Shamash lifted Eowyn's hand to his lips. "May your years be blessed." He smiled. "I look forward to our next meeting..."

Eowyn curtsied. "Good bye, your Majesty." She laid her hand on Legolas' and, together, they walked up the gang plank and joined Hentmirë and Niqmaddu on the deck of the Early Bird.

"Farewell, March Warden," said the king, clasping Haldir's arm. "May you soon replace what you have lost."

Their eyes met.

"Thank you, your Majesty," said Haldir, placing his hand on his heart and bowing his head. "May you do the same."

"Farewell, Prince of Ithilien..."

As Shamash spoke to Faramir, two of his servants hurried up the gang plank. The first approached Hentmirë, bowing deeply. "A gift, my lady," he said, "from his Majesty, King Shamash. But he asks that you do not open it until you have left the harbour."

"Thank you," said Hentmirë. She looked curiously at the wooden box. "Please give King Shamash my sincere thanks, and assure him that I shall not."

The servant bowed again, and backed away.

"I wonder what it is?" she asked Legolas.

"I do not know, gwendithen," said the elf. "But Valandil's lady has been given one, too."


The moment the Early Bird was in open sea, Hentmirë excitedly unfastened the box.

"What is it?" asked Eowyn.

"A bottle, and a note..." She broke the seal, unfolded the piece of papyrus, and read aloud, slowly,

"Take one spoonful of water, each day, until the bottle is empty. It will not make you immortal, my lady, but it will grant you the extra years with your loved ones you so richly deserve.





Contents page


Previous chapter: The Land of Kuri
Baalhanno's plan is revealed.

Chapter 11

Baalhanno's bomb
Baalhanno’s dastardly plan was suggested by a passage in the (otherwise quite disappointing) book, The Pocket Essential Alchemy and Alchemists, by Sean Martin.
Sir Isaac Newton, a life-long practicing alchemist, spoke of the Art as concealing secrets that would be dangerous should they fall into the wrong hands, which has led some to believe that he understood, or intuited, the secrets of nuclear power.
So: the glowing bit was the plutonium, the mithril shell doubled as the lead shield and the outer casing, and the missing part was the neutron deflector plus the explosive used to compress the plutonium to critical mass and start the nuclear fission… I hadn’t quite worked out how Baalhanno would detonate the explosive, but the djinn would have been the Enola Gay.
The quote, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds, is what J. Robert Oppenheimer muttered as he watched the first bomb explode (it's originally from the Bhagavad Gita). His test director said: Now we’re all sons of bitches.