haldir and cyllien

"There's a somebody I'm longing to see
I hope that he
Turns out to be
Someone to watch over me..."

Tall and lovely, and with a voice like honey, the elleth drifted from table to table, teasing every man in the room with the suggestion that he might be that someone—the one to unleash the passions hidden beneath her serene exterior.

"I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood
I know I would
Always be good
To one who'd watch over me..."

Her song came to an end and, after briefly acknowledging the applause, she made her way to the bar—gracefully avoiding several drunken advances—and sought out a handsome, middle-aged man.

"I waited for you last night, Rib," she said. "Where were you?"

"That's so long ago I don't remember," replied the man.

"Will I see you tonight?"

"I never make plans that far ahead."


"Ohhhh..." The groan came from deep in Eowyn's chest.

Legolas, kneeling between her spread legs, smiled against the delicate skin of her inner thigh, and kissed it lightly.

"Please, Lassui."

"Shhhhh..." The elf turned his head—brushing her with his silky hair—and, whisper-soft, ran his tongue over her centre, probing gently.

"Ohhhh!" Clutching the coverlet in both hands, Eowyn arched her body, squeezing her muscles tight.

Legolas slid onto the bed and, holding her by the waist, turned her on her side with her back to his chest.

"What are you—"

"Shhhhh..." He pulled her close, softly biting her exposed neck, and gently kneading her breasts and belly.

It was all too much. "Please—please Lassui," she wailed, her body trembling, "I cannot bear it!"

He said nothing; but, without warning, he slipped his hand beneath her upper thigh, raised her leg, and drove himself inside her.

"Ohhhh!" she cried. She was so sensitive now, each deep thrust seemed to be touching—slicing through—every particle of her body. "Oh," she sobbed, from the tight cage of his arms, "ohhhh!"

She was already teetering on the brink when he suddenly rolled her over and, rising up on his knees, drew her onto all fours. "Come now, Melmenya," he whispered, "come for me..." He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her into the air and, for a few terrifying moments, she hung upon him, moaning in something close to agony.

But then his climax filled her belly and she, too, found release.


"Melmenya..." He kissed her hand.

In response, she drew their entwined fingers to her own lips. Then, "You look tired, my love," she said.

"That is your fault."

"No, it is more than that. You look... wan."

"I think it is this place, melmenya. A country where there are no trees—except in pots."

"Oh, my darling...." She took him in her arms, settling his head on her breast. "It will not be long now, Lassui. Captain Mutallu calls it the 'Raging Calm'. We have been unlucky—he says it does not normally happen at this time of year, and he is confident that the wind must return before the end of the month. Then we can sail."

"I suppose it will give us a chance to find Vardamir."

"There is still no sign of him?"

"No. Faramir has spoken to most of Captain Oliel's contacts but—although there is talk of an elleth singing in one of the taverns—no one will admit to knowing anything about an elf. Valandil is beginning to think that he imagined seeing him."

"Poor Valandil. Do you think the elleth might know something?"

Legolas smiled. "She might, melmenya. Faramir is looking into it now."

Eowyn stroked his hair. "There must be some trees here, Lassui," she said, "somewhere. Hentmirë will know..."


"The Silk Road," read Haldir, looking up at the painted sign.

"Mmm," said Faramir. "Apparently, the tavern is named after a caravan route. Its owner goes by the name of Ribhadda—"

"Goes by the name of?"

"Well, according to Captain Oliel, he is a northerner, like us, so that is clearly not his real name—he must have something to hide. But Oliel says he is a decent enough fellow, though a law unto himself."

"A human, then," said Haldir, softly. "Does the captain know anything about the elleth?"

"Only that she is tall and dark and very beautiful."

"An elleth, then."


"Let us go in."

The interior of the tavern was a pleasant surprise—a large, open chamber, spotlessly clean, lined with white marble and lit with a thousand candles.

Potted palm trees lent privacy to small clusters of tables grouped about the room, and ceiling fans—huge flaps of woven matting, operated by liveried boys pulling on ropes—created a gentle motion in the lightly perfumed air.

"The people of Gondor could learn a great deal here," said Haldir.

The patrons, he noticed, whether sitting at the tables or along the wide marble counter, or playing at the gaming tables to the right, were all facing a small stage at the left of the room, where a group of musicians had just finished tuning their instruments.

She must be about to sing, he thought.

There was a moment's expectant silence; then the little band began to play, and the elleth emerged from behind a translucent curtain, singing.

"Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
When I only have eyes
For you..."

She was, indeed, tall, and dark, and very, very beautiful. She was dressed, like Eowyn, in one of those tiny bodices and the soft, almost transparent, trousers that had given him so much trouble before the Magus had cured him. Over her long, lustrous hair she wore a jewelled headband, with strings of tiny bells that jingled as she moved.

She stopped at the edge of the stage and glanced around the room, surreptitiously inspecting the patrons but carefully avoiding eye contact with any of them.

Until her gaze fell on him.

"The moon may be high
But I can't see a thing in the sky
When I only have eyes
For you..."

Haldir stared back at her. Emotions—desires—of a sort he had denied himself for so long, flooded his mind; physical sensations he had had to master, time and again, whenever he looked at Eowyn, suddenly surged through his body unchecked.

He collapsed into the nearest chair.

"March Warden?"

"It is hot..." said Haldir.

Faramir nodded. "I shall fetch you a drink. And I shall try to have a word with our host."

Haldir struggled to breathe. Besides the other feelings, there was a terrible sense of guilt. You are betraying Eowyn by desiring another, he thought.

But how can I feel so guilty, he wondered, when I have no memory of my love for Eowyn?


Faramir approached the bar.

There were three men standing behind the counter. Two were obviously no more than bartenders. The third was a smallish, middle-aged man—handsome, but, on the face of it, nothing special.


The man was talking to a customer; Faramir moved a little closer and listened carefully.

"Too bad about those two couriers, wasn't it, Rib?"

"They got a lucky break," said the landlord. "Yesterday they were just two clerks. Today they're 'the honoured dead'."

"You are a very cynical person, Rib, if you'll forgive me for saying so."

Ribhadda paused for a heartbeat. "I forgive you."

"You despise me, don't you?" said the customer.

"If I gave you any thought, I probably would."

"But why—"

"Can I help you?"

It took Faramir—and the hapless customer—a full moment to realise that Ribhadda's attention had shifted to him.

The attention was surprisingly intimidating.

He is entirely his own man, thought Faramir. "May I buy you a drink?" he asked.

"I never drink with customers."

"Then may I have a word with you? Somewhere private."

"I never take customers anywhere private."

Faramir smiled. "Will you at least sit with me?"

"That," said Ribhadda, "I will do. Until my attention is required elsewhere." He indicated a nearby table with a sweep of his hand.

"Hiram," he said, as he walked out from behind the bar, "bring the gentleman a glass of spirits. Not too much water. Now," he said, sitting down opposite Faramir, "what is it you want to know?"

This man cannot be bought, thought Faramir, not in the usual way. To deal with him you must simply be honest and hope that your aims coincide with his.

"My name," he said, "is Faramir, son of Denethor. I am Steward to the King of Gondor." He showed Ribhadda his seal of office, mounted on a heavy gold ring. "Whilst visiting Carhilivren—for other reasons—it has come to my attention that a certain elf, wanted in my country for attempted murder, is hiding somewhere in the city. I want to take him back to stand trial. I am told that you may be able to help me."

"That's a pretty story," said Ribhadda. "But why would it be any concern of mine?"

"You are a man of honour."

"You're confusing me with someone else."

"I do not think so..."

"Who did he try to kill?"

"Another elf."

"Not a widowed mother or an orphaned child?"

In spite of himself, Faramir smiled. "I will leave it with you," he said, and knocked back his drink. "The elf's name is Vardamir. If you have anything to tell me you can reach me via your friend, Captain Oliel."


A small shadow of a man limped unnoticed past the brightly-lit stalls of the souk—past people haggling over piles of vegetables and joints of meat and sacks of beans and lentils; past people choosing colourful bolts of cloth and richly embroidered carpets; past people buying oil lamps and brass lanterns and enamelled candlesticks...

At the corner of Lamp Street he stopped to examine a pretty jewelled dagger. Nice, he thought. She would like that. He slipped the knife into his pocket, and moved on before the stall holder noticed him.

At the end of Garden Lane he paused again and casually glanced around. No one was paying him any attention; the closest stall holder was busy with a customer.

Satisfied that he had not been followed, the man slipped behind the stall and turned into the alley behind, counting his steps down the narrow, featureless passage—One, two, three... He glanced behind him. Clear... Nine, ten, elven... Another glance. Still clear. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. He tapped lightly on the wooden wall to his right: one-two; one-two-three; one; one.

An invisible door opened to admit him.

Wolfram stepped inside. "Someone is looking for you," he said.

Vardamir closed and barred the door.

It was pitch black. Wolfram stretched out his hand, found the dresser, and felt around for a candle and tinderbox.

"Wait," said the elf, imperiously. "Let me do that. You cannot see—you will have the whole house alight." Moments later the room was lit by three candles. "Do you want a drink?"

They were an unlikely pair—the small, quick, rodent of a man, and the tall, graceful, arrogant elf—but, in truth, each was the closest thing to a friend the other had ever had.

Wolfram threw himself into a chair. "Did you not hear what I said?"

"Someone is looking for me." The elf poured two large goblets of wine. "So? It is not the first time that someone on the receiving end of our services has tried to track us down—"

"They are looking for Vardamir," said Wolfram. "Not Elrond, not Glorfindel, not Legolas—not any of the other stupid elf-names you like to go by. Vardamir."


A ferocious scowl at the would-be door keeper was the only permission Haldir had needed to get backstage. He tapped lightly on the door and entered without a pause.

The elleth turned in surprise—in the midst of changing her clothes—her bodice open. "You," she said, softly.

In her presence Haldir felt dizzy. He leaned against the door; the space between them was charged with sexual desire.

"An elf..."

Haldir reached out to her.

It was short and urgent and very noisy, his cries accompanied by the sound of their bodies pounding against the door.


Faramir set Haldir's drink on the empty table. Where has he gone? The elleth had finished singing. Perhaps he is questioning her...

There was a small door beside the stage. Faramir approached it, smiling at the doorkeeper. "I should like to speak to the singer," he said, giving the man a glimpse of a gold coin nestling in the palm of his hand.

"And if it was up to me, you could," said the man, with a wink, "but she's already got company, if you know what I mean." He cocked his head to indicate the faint but unmistakable sounds of frantic sex, coming from somewhere down the corridor.

"I shall come back another time," said Faramir, handing the man the coin.


"What is your name?" asked Haldir.

"Cyllien," said the elleth. "Yours?"


"Do you make a habit of doing strangers, Haldir?"

Haldir was taken aback. "Do you?"

The elleth sighed. "Do you smoke?"


She rose from the floor and walked over to her dressing table, sorting through the clutter until she found a small clay pipe. Haldir watched with a mixture of horror and fascination as she filled the bowl with pipe-weed, lit it, and took a long drag.

"Where did you learn to do that?" he asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. "What is it to you?" She exhaled a cloud of smoke.

Haldir re-laced his trousers. "Do you want money?" he asked.

A vial of perfumed oil narrowly missed his head and smashed against the wall. "Get out!"


Bowing courteously, Ribhadda gestured a customer—a morbidly fat man with two massive bodyguards—towards one of the better tables. "Hello Abdi. How's business at the Blue Parrot?"

"Fine," said the man, "but I would like to buy your tavern."

"It's not for sale."

"You haven't heard my offer."

"It's not for sale at any price."

"What do you want for Cyllien?"

"I don't buy or sell people."

"That's too bad," said Abdi. "That's Carhilivren's leading commodity."


"It must be Elf Boy," said Wolfram, thinking aloud.

"No—I cannot believe that Legolas would bother to come after me—or even send anyone—not after all this time."

"Then who else could it be?"

Vardamir shrugged his shoulders. "Elrond and Celeborn have both sailed West; the King of Gondor has far bigger fish to catch."

"So, as I said, it must be Elf Boy. I wonder if she is with him." Wolfram reached into his pocket and drew out the dagger he had stolen earlier.

"What is that?"

"Just a little gift." He pulled the blade out of its scabbard. "Small and light," he said. "And pretty, like her."

He opened a door at the bottom of the dresser and added the knife to a pile of glittering objects—silver manacles complete with key, an enamelled collar and chain, a leather whip with a jewelled handle, and a thick golden rod, like a large phallus...

Vardamir shook his head. "You need your wits examined," he said.

Wolfram closed the door. "You can talk—following that singer around, begging like a puppy, instead of just taking what you want..." He shrugged his shoulders. "Anyway," he said, sitting down and taking a swig of wine. "What are we going to do about Elf Boy?" He dried his mouth with the back of his hand.

"We do not even know that he is here."

"I do," said Wolfram. "I can feel her. Here." He clutched his groin.

"So where is she?"

Wolfram thought for a moment. "The souk. She will be in Tailor's Row, buying herself some golden drawers. Did I tell you—"

"About the pink gown? Many times."

Wolfram pulled a small piece of rose-coloured velvet from his breast pocket. "The metal on this would have fed me for a year," he said. "A year. My Lady is worth a lot of money."

"Only if you can control yourself."

"The trouble with Elves," said Wolfram, "is they don't understand the importance of timing."

"What are you talking about?"

Wolfram swung himself off the chair and crouched beside the Elf. "We collect My Lady; we collect the money. Then I have my way with her. He realises he's been duped and comes to rescue her; we have our way with him, too. Not the same way, of course—unless you are interested."

Vardamir shot him a murderous look.

"Tomorrow," said Wolfram, "I shall start looking for her. In the souk."


The sailor at the bottom of the Hunter's gang plank gave Faramir a courteous nod and stepped aside; in recent days the Prince of Ithilien had been a regular visitor.

The captain was in his cabin, sitting at his desk despite the late hour, and something about his posture immediately caught Faramir's attention. "You've had news," he said, "of your wife?"


"Not bad news?" The other man looked up, showing his face for the first time. "Oh, gods. What has happened?"

"I have just received these."

He dropped two objects into Faramir's hand. The first was a small silver ring, engraved with the word 'Forever'. The second was a strip of torn fabric, stained with blood.

"Are you sure these are hers?"

"The ring is. No doubt about it, my friend. I had it made for her in Minas Tirith. I don't recognise the cloth."

"What does the letter say?"

"Not much. She was found in Rihat—that's an oasis about fifty miles to the east—with a bad wound to her shoulder. She was still alive when the letter was written, six days ago."

"When are you leaving?"

"I will have to wait until tomorrow night—there's a caravan leaving at dusk. I am letting you down, my friend; I am sorry—"

"Do not be foolish," said Faramir. He squeezed the other man's shoulder. "But do not go alone Oliel. Take a friend, just in case. I would come with you myself, if I could."

"He's very lucky," said Oliel.


"Your..." He gestured to indicate the man they had never discussed but that Oliel instinctively knew existed.

Faramir smiled. "I pray that you find her, Oliel," he said. "Alive and well."



"Good morning," said Eowyn, softly.

"Good morning."

"Today, we are going to find you some trees, my love."

She was leaning over him, supporting herself on her right arm, her left hand lying lightly on his chest. Smiling, she leaned down to kiss him...

And there was none of the adventurous coupling of the night before, just the sweet union of two people very much in love.


After long hours spent pacing the streets, telling himself that he was looking for Vardamir, Haldir approached the house, in a murderous mood, to find Eowyn standing in the courtyard garden, feeding kitchen scraps to a flock of brightly coloured birds. As he reached the gates, she turned and smiled at him, and his heart inexplicably lurched in his chest.

"Good morning, March Warden," she said. "Where is Faramir?"

"We—er—we split up." He cleared his throat. "In the tavern."

"I hope nothing has happened to him."

"I am sure he is fine."

"Did you speak to the elleth?"

Haldir turned to look at the birds. "Only briefly," he said. "And I did not get the chance to ask her anything about Vardamir."

"Perhaps another time," said Eowyn. She threw the last handful of bread on the ground. "Haldir..."


"I really have no right to say this—and I have no right to expect your friendship—"

"You have every right to expect my friendship, my Lady."

"It is just... You have changed, Haldir. Since we came back from Kuri, you are distant." She, too, looked down at the birds. "I know that things have often been difficult between us, but I had come to rely on you... I miss your advice."

"Eowyn..." He grasped her hands. "You will always have my friendship. You are the bravest, kindest, cleverest woman I have ever met."

"To my knowledge, you have only ever met three women," said Eowyn.

Haldir smiled. "Woman or elleth."

She looked into his eyes. "You are cured," she said.

"I... I no longer feel as I once did, it is true."

"That is a good thing," said Eowyn, gently. "You have been alone for far too long, March Warden."

But Haldir could say nothing in reply.


Eowyn returned indoors in time to witness what had become a daily ritual—Hentmirë was sitting on her day bed, her entire body rigid with fear. Legolas was looming over her, bottle in one hand, spoonful of iridescent green liquid in the other.

He set the bottle down on the table. "Open your mouth, gwendithen."


"The sooner you drink it, the sooner you and Eowyn can go shopping."


Legolas smiled, indulgently. Then, quicker than Hentmirë's senses could perceive, he shot out a hand and squeezed her waist.


The water was in her mouth; she swallowed, gagging, and swallowed again, her eyes streaming.

"I am sorry," said Legolas, taking her in his arms and rubbing her back, soothingly. "I am so sorry, gwendithen. But just think of the effect it is having. Think of Eryn Carantaur, and how happy we will be there."

"I try," she whimpered. "I do try, Legolas. I know I am being ungrateful. But it is so horrid..."


Sitting on the deck of the Hunter, watching the sun rise, Faramir had come to a decision.

There is no telling what might have happened to her in six days, he thought. Oliel could arrive in Rihat to find her already dead and buried. If I accompany him, at least there will be someone to make the necessary arrangements—and to get him back in one piece—if he is not capable himself.

Perhaps Legolas will let me take Haldir with me...


Eowyn kissed Legolas’ cheek.

"We shall be very quick," she said. "And, remember,"—she grinned, becoming more and more excited as she spoke—"this afternoon we are taking you to the Turquoise Gardens! Hentmirë says they look just like a real forest—you will be able to walk under the trees!" She hugged him tightly.

Legolas kissed the top of her head. "I shall look forward to it, melmenya," he said. "But promise me that you will be careful in the souk. If you are on foot, stay close to Rimush. These people have little respect for women."

"I promise." She climbed into the palanquin and sat down beside Hentmirë. "Good bye, Lassui." She waved. "Good bye, Haldir."

Legolas watched Hentmirë's attendants lift the litter and carry it down the dusty road. "Did you learn anything from the elleth, March Warden?" he asked.

"I... No... No, I did not," said Haldir. Then he added, quietly, "In fact, I did something very foolish."

Legolas gave Eowyn one final wave then turned to the other elf, expectantly.

"I did speak with her," admitted Haldir, "briefly, but I did not question her... I... I allowed desire to get the better of me."

"Desire?" Legolas stared at his March Warden's face, trying to make sense of his guilty expression. "What are you saying—oh Valar!—are you saying that you lay with her?"

Haldir did not reply, but his answer was obvious.

"No one could blame you for that, Haldir," said Legolas, generously. "You had been alone for far too long."

"I feel as though I have betrayed her."

"The elleth?"

"Eowyn. Please do not tell Eowyn."

"I thought you had no feelings for Eowyn."

"I do not; I cannot explain it..." He stared into the distance, at the palanquin bearing Eowyn away, then continued, softly, "But, sometimes I feel as though the memory has not been removed, just imprisoned in some dark corner of my mind. And, now and then, it rattles the bars of its cage..."


An hour or so later, as Faramir approached Hentmirë's house, he noticed two familiar-looking figures dismounting from a single horse.

It cannot be!

The first—stripped, incongruously, down to his underwear—was short and powerfully built, with a mane of coppery hair and a long, thick beard.


"Awwww, laddie!" cried the dwarf, running—bow-leggedly—towards him. "It is good to see you!" He threw his arms round Faramir's waist and almost crushed the life out of him. "Three weeks it has taken us to get here! Three weeks! We had to land up the coast and ride across the desert!"

"It is good to see you, too, Gimli," said Faramir. "Legolas will be overjoyed."

He looked up at the second person and smiled.

The dwarf's companion was tall and lean with wild, dark hair and a face that could break any heart in Middle-earth.

"Hello, Berengar," said Faramir.



Contents page


The villains.


Chapter 2: In the souk
Eowyn encounters an old enemy and a new friend.

Chapter 2

Ribhadda is based on Rick from Casablanca (played by Humphrey Bogart) and bits of the dialogue are lifted straight from the film.

I imagine the elleth looking like Angelina Jolie, so I used The Council of Elrond’s name generator to find her an appropriate name:
Angel, Angela, Angelina
Hebrew: ‘messenger’.
Sindarin: Cyll, ‘bearer’.
fem. Cyllien, Cylliel, Cylleth, Cyllwen.
masc. Cyllion, Cyllon.

Chapter 2

How did Gimli and Berengar find the others?
Faramir must have sent word of his plans to Berengar before leaving South Ithilien, and left messages at several points on the journey, so Berengar and Gimli were able to follow his trail. Once in Carhilivren, Berengar would have used his considerable charm to question the locals—and tracking down two elves, a man from the North and a beautiful blonde, all living openly in the city, wouldn't have been too difficult.