Valandil had misjudged the time, and the sun was
already disappearing beneath the horizon.
"Come on," cried Wilawen, desperately. "Hurry,
The elf plucked two more figs and pushed them inside his tunic.
Then he dropped to the ground and started running up the slope.
"They are behind you!" cried Wilawen.
Valandil kept running, all his senses straining. As he reached
the narrow ledge, just below the cave mouth, one of the creatures
attacked, narrowly missing the back of his leg. Valandil leaped
forward, lost his footing, and stumbled...
So this is it, he thought.
But, when he looked up, Wilawen was standing beside him. "Come
on," she urged, holding the vile things back with a flaming
torch. "If they get inside the cave we are finished."
Valandil scrambled to his feet. Wilawen threw the torch into
the midst of their tormentors andwhilst the monsters hissed
and spat with angershe grabbed Valandil's hand and, together,
they threw themselves through the narrow opening and pushed the
boulder into place.
At night, most of the Hunter's crew went down below to
sleep. Tonight, with the ship becalmed, only a handful of sailors
had been left on watch.
Haldir walked back and forth along the deck. The delay was unbearable.
The True Friend could have landed this morning,
he thought. They may have sold her already. And whoever buys
her will only want one thing...
He looked out across the empty sea. Assuming, that is, that
she is still alive. He closed his eyes and tried to reach
her with his mindhe knew that such things were possible
amongst the High Elves...
Nothing. He shook his head. But I would surely know
if she were dead, he thought. I would sense her loss...
Then another thought came to him, unbidden: Legolas must be
Valar! he thought, guiltily. Imagine what he must be going throughunable
to keep her safe from the sailors on the ship; unable to prevent
them selling her to Mandos-knows-who when they reach land.
She may already have been violated. And Legolas too... If
I ever get hold of the warg's members that took them! He slammed
his fist down on the ship's gunwale.
That was foolish, he thought, examining his hand.
He took a deep, calming breath.
I can smell flowers; miles from anywhere...
Borne on the air! Is the wind picking up? He looked up
at the sails. Could they be stirring? Yes! Yes, they are!
He looked to the men on watch, wondering why they were still so
subdued. The change is too slight for a man's senses to detect,
he thought. They do not know yet.
He hurried onto the aft deck. "What are your orders if the
wind picks up?" he asked.
"We're to raise the Captain, immediately, sir."
"Then you had better do it," said Haldir. "You
had better do it straight away!"
"Well, gentlemen," said the auctioneer, replacing Eowyn's
veil. "You've seen the merchandise. Now, what am I bid for
The woman who had bought Legolas began to raise her fan
"Three thousand from the gentleman at the front," said
the auctioneer, nodding to the bidder.
"Four!" cried another voice.
"Four thousand from the back," said the auctioneer.
"Any advance on four?"
"Five," said the woman, squeezing Legolas' hand.
"Six," said the man at the front. He was leaning on
the stage, peeringLegolas was convincedthrough Eowyn's
almost transparent trousers.
"Any advance on six, ladies and gentlemen?" asked the
auctioneer. "Do I hear seven? Seven, anyone?"
Legolas looked anxiously at Eowyn. She was holding her head high,
staring bravely into the distance, but he knew that her indifference
was only an act. Inside, she was terrified. He bit his lip; he
was watching Eowyn so intently, he did not notice that the woman
beside him was watching him with concern.
"I have seven!" cried the auctioneer. "Do I hear
Legolas wrung his hands in frustration. If only he had his bow...
If only Gimli and Aragorn were with him...
"Are there any more bids, ladies and gentlemen? Any more
bids for this lovely creature?" He looked around the crowd.
The man at the front shook his head.
"SOLD! To the lady! You have bought a fine pair, madam."
Legolas turned to the woman in surprise.
"Well," she said, "I can always sell some jewellery.
And it is worth an extra two thousand to see your lovely smile."
"We must leave tomorrow, at first light, after they have
crawled back into their holes," said Wilawen, cutting the
figs into quarters with the blade she had chipped from a stone.
"We cannot risk another night. They know where we are hiding,
now, and they have realised that we cannot fight back. I have
Valandil looked up from rubbing his twisted ankle. The courage
and resourcefulness the woman had shown over the last three daysmaking
the stone knife, using it to make fire, using the fire to help
break their chainswere a constant source of amazement to
"Will you be fit to walk tomorrow?" Wilawen asked.
"Yes, it is only a slight strain."
"Could you walk without your boots?" She passed him
his share of the figs, heaped on a flat stone.
"Over the hot sand?"
"And they are waterproof?"
He suddenly understood what she was about to suggest. "Of
course! Though it will not be very pleasant."
"I think," said Wilawen, "that we can live with
thatwe can wash them out. They will carry enough water for,
what, two days?"
"If we are careful. And provided we do not spill any."
"We can tie our belts around the tops to close them,"
she said. "We will start at dawn. We will pick enough dates
and figs for two dayswe can tear the hem off my skirt to
carry them. The only question is, which way do we go?"
"To the coast," said Valandil. "I still think
that is our best hope."
"Can you still smell the sea?"
"Faintly. It is over there." He pointed towards the
back of the cave.
"That is settled then," said Wilawen. "Now I had
better get some sleep."
"Here," said Valandil, slipping out of his tattered
jerkin and folding it to form a pillow. He handed it to her.
"Thank you," she said, and she smiled for the first
time in two days.
The elf watched over her until her breathing had slowed and steadied,
and he was sure she was asleep. Then he leaned back against the
cave wall and tried to rest.
She is right, he thought. We were fortunate finding
this cave that first night. But now they are getting too close.
If it had not been for Wilawen and her torch, tonight, I would
already be dragon food...
"I am afraid that you will have to walk, my dear,"
said the woman to Legolas, "but your lady can ride beside
me." She leaned towards him, as if about to share a confidence,
"She does look very tired. Rimush," she called,
to one of her attendants, "you must use the chains but be
very carefuldo not bruise his skin."
The attendant bowed.
"I am sorry, my dear, but I shall have to have you chained.
It is only for form's sake and only until we reach the house.
After that, you will be free to go wherever you likeas long
as you promise, faithfully, to come back."
Legolas climbed down from the litter and helped Eowyn, who did,
indeed, seem very tired, climb up beside the woman. "My lady,"
he said, tentatively, "what is your name?"
"My name is Hentmirë," said the woman, in her
slightly child-like voice. "But I suppose you should call
The attendant, Rimush, slipped a pair of ornate, padded manacles
over Legolas' wrists. The elf bit his lip. "Of course, mistress,"
he said. Rimush locked the manacles to the hand rail of the palanquin.
"My name is Legolas. And this is Eowyn."
"Leg-o-las," said Hentmirë, experimentally.
The four attendants lifted the litter and began forcing their
way through the crowd. Legolas walked beside them.
"It means Greenleaf," said Eowyn.
The other woman turned to her in surprise.
"Legolas," said Eowyn. "It means Greenleaf. Why
did you buy him, my lady?"
"I..." Hentmirë shrugged her shoulders. "I
suppose I was carried away by his beauty. And then I bought you
to make him happy."
Eowyn smiled, sadly. "And how do you intend"she
cleared her throat"to use him?"
"Use him? My dear, I would never use him!" Hentmirë
smoothed the skirt of her jewelled robe. "No. I thought it
would be nice to... to dress him in nice clothes and... and...
sing with himyesI have heard that elves are
beautiful singersand to talk with him. And I can
take him for walks..."
"And take him to bed with you?" asked Eowyn, very,
"I am sorry, my lady," said Eowyn, bowing her head.
"And so you should be! Of course not," said Hentmirë.
"I am a maiden lady. I do not... I would not..."
"I am sorry, my lady," Eowyn repeated.
"But he is so very beautiful," said Hentmirë,
wistfully. "Perhaps, if I were younger..."
Hentmirë's house was in the most salubrious part of towna
strange collection of walls, and arches, and towers with onion-shaped
roofs, all painted sugar-pink and wrapped around a large central
courtyardclosed off from the road by high, wrought-iron
gates. The attendants waited for the gatekeeper to open up, then
carried the palanquin into the courtyard and set it down before
the great double-doors.
"Unlock him, Rimush," said the lady of the house. "Come,
my dearand you, too, Eowynlet me show you where you
will be living."
She led them into the massive reception hall, waving away a serving
girl who came running up to take her cloak and fan, and up the
broad staircase to an open landing that ran around the four sides
of the hall. "This," she said, pointing to one of the
arched doors, "is my bedroom. And this one,"
she turned the corner and stopped beside the next door, "is
She waited; then, after a few moments, she whispered to Legolas,
"Open the door, my dear."
"Oh..." Legolas opened the door, wondering whether
he should bow.
"There," said Hentmirë. "You have your own
bathing room, through there, and a balcony overlooking the gardensee."
"It is very nice, my lady," said Legolas, politely.
"I am so glad you like it," she said, beaming happily.
"Now, I am sure that you would like to bathe, Eowyn, so we
will give you some privacy. I just need to talk to Legolas"she
faltered slightly over his name"about his duties tomorrow."
What a strange situation, thought Eowyn, as she waited
for the servant to draw her bath. We are her slaves and yet
she is treating us like guests.
Treating Legolas like a guest. She is putting up with me for
And I wonder how long that will last.
She walked over to the dressing table and examined the objects
laid out on ita mother of pearl comb, a carved, wooden hairbrush,
and a silver hand mirror. Legolas will like these.
She picked up an ornate glass bottle and held it up to the light,
watching the translucent glass, like an opal, change colour as
she turned it this way and that.
She obviously went to the slave market to buy herself an elf.
And she fell in love with Legolas at first sightI saw it happen.
She pulled the leaf-shaped stopper from the bottle and sniffed
But it is not the love of a woman for a man. At least, not yet.
It is the love of a lonely little girl for a precious kitten.
And that can be dangerous.
The oil had a sharp, pleasant fragrance. Lemons and spices
but quite masculine...
We have no chains, no master cracking a whip, butGods!what
a strange situation.
"Sit down," said Hentmirë, gesturing towards a
"Would you like a drink?" she asked, smiling.
Legolas hesitated. What did she want him to say? He decided to
be honest. "No, my lady, it is late and I am concerned for
Eowyn. She has been through a terrible ordeal."
The woman bit her lip. "Of course," she said. "I
will not keep you long. It is just... My tailor will be coming
tomorrow to measure you for your new clothes, so you will need
to be dressed early. And then... Then, I thought it would be nice
to go for a picnic. I shall have my cook prepare a meal for us
and my men will carry us down to the sea." She smiled, "Is
it true that elves love the sea?"
Legolas closed his bedroom door and leaned his back against it.
She has a good heart, he thought, kind and caring, and
I do not want to hurt her. To his surprise, he realised that
he had begun to feel quite protective towards the strange, unworldly
woman. She treats me like a doll. But, then, she seems to know
She rescued Eowyn from the slave market and for that I will always
be in her debt.
But how can I live like this? How can Eowyn? What can
The sound of splashing water caught his attention. Eowyn? He
followed the noise to the bathing room door and looked inside.
She was standing beside the bath, naked, her back turned towards
him, her skin wet and glistening in the oil light, and his joy
at the sight of her was so intense that he felt it, like a sharp
stab, in his chest and his groin.
Still unaware of him, Eowyn leaned down gracefully, picked up
a towel, and, singing softly to herself, began to dry her body,
slowly stretching out each limb and patting it with the soft fabric.
Legolas swallowed hard. Unconsciously, he untied his sash, unlaced
his silk trousers and pulled them open.
Eowyn walked over to the dressing table, picked up an ornate
glass bottle, poured a little lemon-scented oil into the palm
of her hand, and began massaging it into her skin.
Already painfully aroused, Legolas approached her silently and,
without warning, slipped his hands beneath her arms and pulled
her back against his body, burying his face in the crook of her
"OH!" Eowyn's cry was a heady mixture of surprise
Nipping the delicate skin of her neck, Legolas slid one hand
down to her belly and pulled her closer. She began to struggle
playfully, her buttocks rubbing against his impatient ceber.
With a grunt of pure lust, Legolas exerted his elven strength
andstill biting her neckcarried her out onto the balcony,
laid her over the low marble wall, and sank himself deep inside
The night was warm and the air was filled with the heady scent
of strange blossoms. A row of round paper lanterns glowed, like
so many tiny suns, above Legolas' head. Familiar ripples of pleasure
began to tease his ceryn.
Sweet Eru, not yet!
He drew himself out of her and breathed deeply, trying to will
his climax away. But Eowyn had other ideas. Wriggling again, she
brushed against his straining ceber, and Legolas, taken
by surprise, exploded abruptly over her back and buttocks.
"Ai!" he cried with each groin-wrenching spasm, "Ai!
Eowyn lay quietly, waiting for him to recover.
A split-second later Legolas pushed himself up on his arms and,
still hard and now slick with seed, slipped back, full length,
"Yes," she whispered.
Slowly, he withdrew, and pausedenjoying the feel of the
cool night air on his shaft and savouring the anticipation of
his next thrust into her warmth. Then he entered her again, in
one long, firm stroke.
"Gods!" she moaned.
Smiling, Legolas began to concentrate on pleasuring her,
sliding his hand beneath her to caress her swollen flesh whilst
he rode her masterfully, staying deep inside her, keeping his
strokes hard, gradually varying his angle until he heard her gasp.
Oh yes! he thought.
He withdrew one last time, and waitedstill caressing her
lightlyuntil she began to beg for release, then he plunged
back inside her, smiling with satisfaction at her blood-curdling
"You are still aroused," she whispered. They
were lying, now, on the balcony floor. "And"she
curled her hand around him"I thought it felt
different. Gods, Lassui, what has happened to you?"
Legolas sighed. He had only just started to understand that himself.
"The woman, Arinna, gave me a cordial," he said. "She
told me it was harmless."
"But you are bigger"
"Does it hurt?"
"It is certainly... insistent."
"Insistent?" Eowyn rolled over onto her stomach. "Then
we had better give it what it wants," she said, stroking
it. "Until it stops insisting."
"You are a wicked woman, melmenya."
"And you are lucky to have me."
He pulled her into his arms and hugged her fiercely. "I
know that, Eowyn nín," he said. "I know!"
" she said, dreamily, as he straddled
her again. She wrapped her hand around him and held him, lovingly.
"This time I want to see you. I want to watch you disappearing
into my body."
The bed was too far away. He glanced around the balcony. There
was only one answer. He lifted her to her feet and set her back
on the marble wall. Then, standing between her spread legs, he
took hold of himself, still stiffly upright and, watching her
watch him, he entered her slowly, inch by inch.
"Oh, gods," she whimpered, reaching down to touch him.
He brushed her thick hair over her shoulder and pressed his lips
to her ear. "Do you know how much I love you?" he asked.
"And I told you to wait! I would not last an hour
"Nor I without you, Lassui," she whispered.
"I did not think we would be together again, like this,
for a very long time." He kissed her cheek.
She closed her eyes and, arching her back, she began to ride
him, her movements becoming more and more urgent until, suddenly,
she stopped, with a violent shudder. "Gods," she moaned,
laying her head on his shoulder.
"You almost came," he said, softly.
"But I did not want to," she said, "not yet. I
want us to come together, Lassui."
He straightened up and, grasping her waist, began to thrust with
a slow, steady rhythm. "Oh, that feels good," he whispered.
"You are so beautiful," said Eowyn tracing his features
with her fingertip. "Your eyes, your sweet nose, your lips...
Oh..." She closed her eyes and, leaning backwards,
arched her back. "Harder," she whispered. "Harder,
Lassui... Oh, my love... Yes, ohyes. YES, LASSUI!"
Eowyn stroked him, gently. "Too tired to insist now,"
she said, smiling.
Legolas gathered her close.
"It is dawn," said Valandil, gently shaking Wilawen's
She stared at him for a long moment, uncomprehending; then she
sat up and stretched her limbs. "How is your ankle?"
she asked, yawning.
"Does it still seem like a good plan?"
Valandil nodded. "It is our only hope," he said. "Come."
Together, they rolled back the heavy stone and peered outside.
During the night the creatures had been right outside the cave
and, here and there, where the sand had been churned by their
scaly bodies, there were slivers of shed skin.
Wilawen shuddered. "I never believed that such things existed,"
she said. "When we first found this place, I thought that
the gods had blessed us."
"We had better hurry," said Valandil, "before
the temperature begins to rise. Let me go out first."
Slowly, the elf crawled through the narrow opening, stood, and
looked down the slope into the trees. "It seems safe,"
Wilawen crawled out to join him. "We need enough fruit for
two days," she said, tearing pieces of cloth from her skirt
and handing him two. "Then we must wash out your boots and
fill them with water."
Valandil nodded. "What is the other cloth for?" he
"Something we can use if we ever find our way back to civilisation,"
she said, crawling back into the cave.
He was sitting on the balcony watching the sun rise, but his
posture told her that his thoughts were troubled. Eowyn wrapped
herself in a sheet and padded out to him.
"What is it, my love?" she asked, laying her hand on
He turned his startling blue eyes on her, smiling sadly. "What
am I to do, melmenya?" he asked, and it was not necessary
for him to say anything more.
"For the time being," said Eowyn, "you must give
her what she wants"
"Do not worry about me, Lassui. I trust you."
She smiled, "Especially after last night"
"Melmenya! Do not joke!" He sighed. "She wants
to take me for a picnic today."
"Then let her. Flatter her; give her the attention she craves."
She hugged him. "I know that you have begun to feel protective
towards her, Legolasshhhh, let me finish, my darlingI
know. And I have said it beforeit is in your nature to care
for others, and I would not have you any other way." She
rested her forehead against his. "How would she react, do
you think, if you were to run away? Would she have her men pursue
you, relentlessly? Or would she die of a broken heart? What do
your instincts tell you?"
"That she is trustworthy but immature."
"I do not think she would ever mean to hurt us."
"But she might lash out in pain."
Legolas nodded. "The depth of feeling I sense in her does
make me nervous. But I do not want to hurt her. And I owe her
so muchshe saved you from those terrible men."
Eowyn nodded. "I owe her too."
"I do not know what to do, melmenya."
"Good morning, my lady," said the tailor, bowing deeply.
His two assistants, standing slightly behind him and each carrying
a large book of fabric samples, followed his example.
"Good morning, Master Katuzili," said Hentmirë.
"Please, sit down."
The tailor perched on a stool beside her daybed.
Hentmirë clasped her hands together, excitedly: "I
have a very special task for you, Master Katuzili," she said,
"one which I know you will enjoyI have a new companion
and he needs some clothes." She turned towards Legolas, who
was standing, half hidden in the shadows, behind her. "Let
Master Katuzili see you, my dear," she chided.
Legolas stepped forward.
"Gods preserve us!" gasped the tailor, who had clearly
never seen an elf before. Then, quickly recovering his self possession,
he said, "It will be an honour, my lady. If the gentleman
will permit me, I shall begin by taking his measurements."
He opened a small pouch at his waist, took out a length of cord,
and proceeded to measure Legolas, wrapping the cord around his
chest, his waist, and hips, then draping it down his back, his
arm and his leg, all the while calling out an arcane series of
numbers to his assistants, one of whom made notes in the front
of his sample book.
"Good," said Katuzili, when the measuring was over.
"Now, as to colours, my Lady, may I suggest the pale blues
and soft silvers and, perhaps, some darker greens and ambers?"
One of his assistants stepped forward with the correct samples.
"Are you sure?" asked Hentmirë, "because
that all sounds very dull to me. I thought he would look
nice in a bright red..." She smiled at Legolas. "Yes,
a bright red, and purple, and gold."
"I am sure you are right, my lady," said the tailor,
tactfully, "but just allow me to show you..." He turned
the pages. "This." He pointed to a silk brocade
patterned in delicate shades of blue and lilac.
The tailor carefully detached the page and held the sample next
to Legolas' face. "There!" he said, triumphantly.
Hentmirë studied the effect carefully. "We shall have
that, too," she said.
Slowly, with the tailor's tactful guidance, Hentmirë ordered
Legolas a complete wardrobefull trousers with broad sashes;
loose-fitting shirts; short, sleeveless jackets; full length robes
of heavy brocade and damask for the town and of fine linen for
the desert; embroidered slippers; and a magnificent pair of tooled
leather riding boots.
"I want them by the end of the week," she said.
"Naturally, my lady."
"And," she added, "I shall need matching gowns
for my new lady companion. You must measure her, too, before
"It cannot be much farther," said Valandil, wiping
the sweat from his brow. The sun, which had been low in the sky
when they left the oasis, was climbing rapidly. Wilawen had torn
another piece of fabric from her skirt and had wrapped it around
her head and shoulders, but he could see that she was already
suffering the beginnings of heat stroke. "Here," he
said, "have some more water."
"Thank you." She took a mouthful. "Are you sure
we are going in the right direction?"
"Certain," said Valandil.
"How much further?"
"I do not know." He looked up at the sky.
The elf felt a sudden pang of fear. Something was coming towards
"you must leave me."
"What?" he asked, vaguely. The thing was getting closer.
"I cannot go much further," said Wilawen, "and
I am holding you back. Take the water and leave"
"RUN!" cried the elf, grabbing her arm.
But there was nowhere for them to hide, and the roc swooped down
from the sky and scooped them up once more.