eowyn and arador

Eowyn’s tent

Legolas! thought Haldir and, with a gentle, apologetic hug, he released Eowyn.

“I am sorry, my Lady,” he said, rising and walking out into the main part of the tent. “That was inappropriate—I have insulted you, and I have betrayed Legolas...”

Legolas?” Eowyn followed him. “Did Legolas tell you what happened? Haldir?” She caught him by his good arm.

Haldir turned. “What has happened?”

Eowyn’s eyes narrowed as she scrutinised his face. “No. He did not tell you... So how do you know? Did my brother tell you? Or Aragorn? Or was it Arwen?”

“I do not understand—”

“One moment of foolishness,” she said, raking her hand through her hair. “One moment! And I must pay for it for the rest of my life, whilst he...!”

Haldir's expression softened. “Will you please tell me what you are talking about, Eowyn” he asked, gently.


Deep in the forest

Legolas crouched beside Golradir. “Do you sense any more lookouts?” he whispered.

The March Warden shook his head. “Not along the trail.”

“Nor do I. I think it is safe to summon the others.” He raised his hands to his lips and whistled like a bird.

Then he turned back to Golradir. “Now would be a good time,” he said, “to scout the enemy encampment, get a count of their numbers, and view their defences—perhaps discover what they intend next.”

“Are you asking for a volunteer, my Lord?” asked Golradir, smiling.


“That was the signal, my Lady,” said Fingolfin.

“Return it, my Lord,” said Eowyn. She patted Hentmirë’s hand. “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” whispered the little woman, hoarsely.

Eowyn signalled the others to move out. “Remember,” she said, quietly, as the riders passed by, “stay on the trail; move swift and silent.”


Emyn Arnen
Eowyn's tent

Eowyn sat down heavily on the camp bed, beckoning Haldir to join her.

“After we had defeated Saruman’s army,” she said, “and Fangorn had finished off those we had not killed—rending them limb from limb as they fled—we tended the wounded, and buried the dead.” She glanced at the big elf. “Forgive me—I was sure that I had seen you amongst the fallen...” She shook her head, as though to clear away the false memory.

“At last,” she continued, “we could celebrate our victory. We gathered in the Golden Hall. The ale flowed and the warriors drank... I went out onto the terrace for some air. Legolas was already there—a single, lonely figure, gazing out across the plains of Rohan. I went up to him. We talked...” She closed her eyes. “It was madness—I knew that it was madness! And afterwards he spoke of marriage. But he was an elf, and I—my uncle had named me his heir should Eomer not survive. How could I marry an elf?”

She looked up at Haldir, her eyes pleading for understanding. “But he was right, I was with child. I had a little boy,”—her face was suddenly transformed—“half elf, half human.”

“A child? But... Where is he?”

“He lives in Minas Tirith,” replied Eowyn, “with Arwen and Aragorn. I will not live to see him grow to manhood, Haldir, and it seemed best that he should think Arwen his mother from the outset.”

“You are not the Eowyn I know,” said Haldir, slowly. “You look like her, you sound like her, but you... You are more experienced, more worldly-wise than she. How can that be?”

Eowyn shrugged.

“Do you still love him—Legolas?”

Love him? I told you, it was a moment of madness, not an act of love.” She frowned. “Truly.”

“But you speak of his child with such tenderness.”

“He is my child, Haldir—I carried him, for almost a year, I gave birth to him—of course I love him, though I have not seen him since the day he was born...” She turned to the elf, suddenly anxious. “Legolas does not know that he has a son—we thought it best that he should not know. Please, swear to me that you will not tell him.”

We?” said Haldir.

“Faramir and I.” Eowyn looked away. “I was betrothed to Faramir before I realised that I was with child, for the healers had always told me that I was barren. When I confessed my folly to him—he was such a good man, Haldir—he promised to love the child as his own,”—she shook her head—“so different from Eomer! But, of course, once Meldon was born, it was obvious that his father had been an elf. So we asked Arwen to help us, and she and Aragorn agreed to adopt him—and to tell Legolas nothing.”

“You must tell him,” said Haldir, softly.


“Why, Eowyn? Elves love their children above all else. For him not to know...”

Eowyn shook her head, determination hardening her beautiful face.

“Oh, Eowyn,”—Haldir reached for her—“what a difficult life you have been given to lead...” He drew her close. And, this time, his conscience did not stand in their way.


Deep in the forest

The three elves darted from the trees, and signalled the riders to stop.

Legolas came up beside Eowyn and caught hold of Brightstar’s bridle. “We have dealt with the lookouts,” he said, “so you should have no trouble, provided you keep to the trail.”

“What will you be doing?”

“Golradir and I are going to scout the enemy encampment. Orodreth will come with you.” He laid a reassuring hand on Eowyn’s booted leg. “We will make sure that we are not seen. You must lead the others to Emyn Arnen. Leave our horses another quarter mile down the trail and we will catch up with you as soon as we can.” He squeezed her ankle, mouthing, “Trust me.”

Biting her lip, Eowyn nodded curtly, then signalled the other riders to move off. As they passed behind her, she lingered, gazing down at Legolas. “If you get into trouble, tell me,” she said softly, referring, as he knew, to their mental bond. “Gimli and I will come back for you.”

“I shall, melmenya.” He patted Hentmirë’s foot. “And you—do not look so worried, gwendithen!”

“Take care,” said Eowyn. She drew up the reins and nudged Brightstar’s flanks, and the two women galloped down the trail after the others.


The mess tent

“Master Arador...”

The boy tried to swat aside the hand that was gently shaking his shoulder. “Wha’?”

“I have brought your father.”

Arador sniffed, and—suddenly aware of the painful crick in his neck—raised his head; he had fallen asleep in the empty Mess Tent. He peered up at the two men standing beside him. One was Berengar; the other was...

“Uncle Aubin.” The boy yawned. “What are you doing here?” Moving his head cautiously, he looked around. “I thought you said you had brought my father?”

The two men exchanged glances. “Did you bump your head in that cave?” asked Aubin.

“I bumped everything,” said Arador, stretching his arms. “Several times. And nearly drowned.” He rubbed his face. “Where is my father?”

“What are you talking about? I am here.” Aubin sat down opposite him. “Can I trouble you to fetch my wife, Master Berengar?”

“Of course...” The secretary left.

“Let me see your eyes,” said Aubin.

“What?” Arador scowled. “Why?” He batted the man’s hand away. “Why are you pretending to be my father? What has happened to my father?” He suddenly rose to his feet and demanded, loudly, “Where is my mother? What have you done with her?”

“I am here, Aran...”

The boy turned towards the feminine voice. “Mama?” He frowned. The woman standing beside Berengar looked at least ten years older than the mother he had left behind in Newhome but—despite the grey hair—there was no doubting that it was she.

There was a moment’s pause. Then Arador held out his arms and his mother rushed to him, hands outstretched.

“Oh, Aran, I thought you were dead! I thought I had seen your dead body...” She threw her arms around him and Arador gathered her close, cradling her head on his shoulder.

“What is he doing here, Mama? Where is my father?”

The woman looked up at her son, then turned to her husband, confused. “What do you mean, Aran?”

“You are not married to him—he is my uncle.”

Berengar stepped forward. “Whatever is happening here,” he said, “must wait—”

“He is not my father,” insisted Arador. “He is my father’s twin—”

“Please, Lord Aubin, Lady Morwen,” said Berengar, gently disentangling the woman from her son’s embrace and handing her to her husband, “I will bring your son to you when he has discharged his duty.”

“He is not—” began Arador.

“HUSH!” Berengar waited calmly, pinning Arador in place with one outstretched hand whilst staring down Lord Aubin until the man reluctantly drew his sobbing wife from the Mess Tent. “Good. Now, what I told your parents,”—he held up his hands—“told those people, was true. Princess Eowyn needs you—map in hand and with all your faculties alert.” He grasped Arador’s shoulders and shook him hard. “You must put this behind you until the war is over. And then...” His voice trailed away.

“We may all be dead,” finished Arador, quietly. “And, if so, nothing else will matter.”



Haldir sighed contentedly. He had always known that Eowyn was the true companion of his spirit—

He felt her stir against his chest. “You are a dear, sweet elf, Haldir,” she said, softly.

“And you,” said Haldir, raising her small hand to his lips and kissing her fingers, “are a dear, sweet adaneth.”

The smile they exchanged was filled with all the intimacy they had just experienced. Eowyn was the first to turn away. “I suppose I should—”

“No. Not yet.” Haldir exerted just a fraction of his elven strength. “Stay with me a while longer.”

She gazed into his eyes, and read his mind. “This cannot last.”

“No. I wish for nothing else, meleth nín, but I do not believe it can.”

“Then let us stay like this until they come to fetch me.”


Deep in the forest

Eowyn led the advance party northwards until she found a sharp bend in the Forest trail, skirting an outcropping of rocks that formed a natural fortification. She drew the riders to a halt. “This will do,” she said.

“One of us should stay with the horses, my Lady,” said Orodreth.

“My thinking exactly—Lord Fingolfin, might I trouble you to take care of Lady Hentmirë for me?”

“Of course, my Lady.”

“Eowyn?” The little woman peered over her companion’s shoulder. “Why?”

“Because Gimli and I are going to wait here for Legolas and Golradir,” said Eowyn, patting the older woman’s hand, “just in case Legolas needs us, Hentmirë. The rest of you will make for Emyn Arnen as planned. Lord Fingolfin,”—she pulled a small leather document pouch from around her neck and handed it to the elf—“this is the message from your Lord. I trust that you will give my double your full support if, for any reason, Legolas and I cannot reach her.”

Fingolfin placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head. “You may rely upon me, my Lady.”


Legolas raised a hand to signal caution, then beckoned.

Golradir leaped gracefully through the branches and landed silently beside him. From the cover of the foliage, the two elves gazed down into the clearing below.

“By the two trees,” murmured the March Warden. “That must be their command post.” He pointed to a pavilion of dark canvas, sited at the far end of the encampment.

“And that,” said Legolas, referring to the small, elderly woman seated on an elaborate chair, “must be their Queen.”

“Valar,” said Golradir. “That throne...”

“Is built of bones,” said Legolas.

“Something is happening.”

Two female warriors, clad in leather armour, dragged a male—somewhat smaller than themselves—into the command post and threw him to the ground at the Queen’s feet. Then one of the females drew a curved blade and, placing her foot on the wretch’s back, pressed its tip to his neck.

“They do not appear to be celebrating a victory,” said Golradir, thoughtfully.


In the tent, there was a brief exchange of words, then the elderly Queen waved her hand.

The female warrior raised her sword high above her head, and brought it down in a single clean cut. The male’s severed head rolled away from his body; his executioner caught it with the flat of her blade and swept it away from the throne.

“At least it was swift,” whispered Golradir.

A second male was brought in, and dispatched in the same way.

“How many troops do you see?” asked Legolas.

Golradir scanned the clearing. To the right, a herd of massive lizards waited restively, stamping and snapping at their handlers; to the left, ten distinct clusters of male warriors appeared to be digging in for the night. “No more than two hundred here,” he whispered, “but that trail,”—he nodded northwards—“leads to a long chain of clearings, all of comparable size. If they are making full use of them, we could be looking at a total force of,”—he shrugged—“up to three thousand, perhaps.”

Legolas nodded. “Do you see any indication that they will attack tonight?”

Golradir looked back into the tent. A third male had been brought inside, but this one—a fine-looking elf, taller than most of the females, heavily built, and with a thick mane of white hair—appeared to be in favour. Golradir watched the executioner unbuckle the sword belt from her first victim and present it to the newcomer. “He must be their new field commander,” he muttered. “I would wish him more success than his predecessor, but that would not be in our interest...” Then, “No,” he concluded, “I do not see any preparations for battle tonight.”

“Nor do I,” said Legolas. “And that gives us a chance. Come.”


They remained aloft until they had passed the perimeter that had been marked by the chain of lookouts, then they dropped to the ground and, staying within the trees to the west of the trackway, headed north to collect their horses.

They had covered no more than five hundred yards, however, when Legolas suddenly sensed something—someone—hidden in the Forest to his right and, as he pulled his bow from its strap and smoothly nocked an arrow, he saw that Golradir, having felt the same presence, was doing the same.

The two elves turned to face the threat.

At first they saw nothing.

Then a lean, dark figure stepped out onto the path, swept off an extraordinary plumed hat, and favoured them with an elaborate, sweeping bow.

Legolas lowered his bow.

The stranger straightened up, smiled, replaced his hat, and stepped back into the trees.

“What, in Manwë’s name, was that?” asked Golradir.

“I have no idea—” Something else caught Legolas’ eye, and he turned south to see a band of dark warriors streaming towards them, hand crossbows raised. “Poison,” he cried. “RUN!


Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent


Eowyn grinned at Haldir. “What is it, Berengar?” she called.

“Messengers, my Lady, from Prince Legolas, leading an advance party of—”

Eowyn leaped up and, pausing only long enough to pull off the coverlet and wrap it around herself, threw back the curtain that closed off her bedchamber, temporarily forgetting the naked elf still lying in her bed.

“Oh!” Berengar quickly turned his back. “I will give you a few moments to make yourself decent, my Lady. Open the tent flap when you are ready.” He glanced over his shoulder and winked at her, affectionately.


Deep in the forest

Gimli, sitting astride Arod, was growing impatient. “Where has that crazy elf got to?” he muttered. “I should have insisted on going with him. When I—what?”

Eowyn had raised her head. “He is coming,” she said, reaching for her sword, “—and he is running!” She took up her bow, and swiftly knocked an arrow.

Running?” Gimli rolled off Arod’s back, drew his axe, and assumed his battle stance.

They waited.

At last, the elves flew out of the Forest, closely pursued by a dozen black-clad warriors.

Gimli hefted his axe and, roaring like a warg, charged with such ferocity that several of the enemy simply turned and fled. The remainder raised their crossbows and took aim.

Eowyn immediately loosed her arrow, burying it deep in a glowing red eye. Blinded and panicking, the stricken dark elf blundered about, throwing his comrades into chaos, and giving Legolas and Golradir time to turn, and plant their feet.

As Eowyn nocked her second arrow, Gimli swirled through the knot of warriors, swinging his axe in great curving strokes, smashing heads and slashing limbs, and batting their tiny crossbow quarrels out of the air.

Legolas and Golradir, meanwhile, had raised their bows, and begun shooting steadily, finishing off the remaining dark warriors with surgical precision.

It was a short battle.


“Shall I leave?” asked Haldir, struggling to close his jerkin with one hand, his earlier exertions having made his wound tender.

Eowyn reached up and, smiling, undid the misaligned hooks and refastened them. “No. You are an experienced warrior and my trusted advisor. I want you here.” She smoothed the fabric over his broad chest. “Do you need to see Master Ethelmar?”

“Later, perhaps.”

“I do not want your wound to fester.”

“I am an elf,” said Haldir, smiling. “We do not fester.”

“Well then. Sit down. I will call them in.”

She raised the tent flap and peered outside. Moments later, Berengar ushered in the strange group of messengers: a tall, distinguished-looking elf, a plump little woman dressed—ridiculously, Eowyn thought—in an elven jerkin, leggings and boots, and a young man.

“Hentmirë!” cried Haldir, leaping to his feet. “Lord Fingolfin! Berryn! It is so good to see you all.”

Eowyn watched in fascination as the woman threw herself at the big elf, wrapping her stout arms around his waist.

“Haldir of Lorien,” said the elven messenger. “How did you... Cross over?”

“Cross over?” Gently, Haldir deposited the little woman in one of the folding chairs. “What do you mean?”

“Perhaps,” said Eowyn, taking command, “we should begin with business.” She turned to Lord Fingolfin. “My secretary tells me that you carry a message from Prince Legolas.”

“Of course, my Lady. Forgive me.” Fingolfin bowed formally. Then he drew a leather dispatch pouch from around his neck and handed it to her. “Lady Hentmirë, Master Berryn, and I left Eryn Carantaur yesterday, in an advance party. The plan is for us to leave for Minas Tirith and make contact with King Elessar as soon as possible. Prince Legolas, meanwhile, is raising troops and will be marching out tomorrow at dawn.”

“The Prince’s letter,” said Eowyn, looking up from the parchment, “mentions my double.”

“That is correct, my Lady,” said Fingolfin.

“Who is this woman? Why has she suddenly begun to haunt me?”

“May I?” Fingolfin gestured to one of the folding chairs. “It may take a while to explain.”

“Please do,” said Eowyn. “Master Berryn, Berengar, please be seated.”

“Several days ago,” Fingolfin began, “a young woman—identical to you in almost every way, it seems—appeared at Eryn Carantaur claiming to be Lord Legolas’ wife. At first we both thought her deluded. But, after listening to her story, and questioning her, and looking into local lore, I became convinced that she was telling the truth—that she is Lord Legolas’ wife, and that she is the joint ruler of the colony, just...” He leaned towards Eowyn, as if closer proximity would make her more likely to believe him. “Just not this Lord Legolas and not this colony. It seems that there exist two versions of our world—you may imagine them lying back-to-back, like this.” He raised his hands and held them palm-to-palm to illustrate. “In certain places, where the boundary between them is weak, it is possible to cross over—pass between the two—and that is what she had done. Two days later, her Lord Legolas, Lady Hentmirë, Gimli son of Gloin, and Master Berryn followed her.”

“Manwë and Varda,” muttered Haldir.

“Quite,” said Fingolfin.

Eowyn looked thoughtfully at her lover.

“Where is Legolas?” Haldir asked. “Did he come with you?”

“Yes. But he and Lady Eowyn sent us ahead whilst they scouted the dark warriors’ encampment with March Warden Golradir and Gimli son of Gloin. They will be here shortly.”

“I should go to them,” said Haldir, rising. “I should make sure that they—”

“No,” said Eowyn firmly. “Sit down. You are not yet fit to ride and, besides, I want a word with you.”


Stupid map! thought Arador.

He pulled the sheet of parchment from its oilskin pouch and, showing none of his customary reverence for it, spread it out on the Mess table.

I should never have bought the stupid thing. I should have spent the money on drink and women, like Brand, son of Bain.

At least he had some fun.

Or so he said.

He peered at the coloured markings.

That would have killed Mama, though...

Frowning, he leaned in closer.

To the left of what he believed was Emyn Arnen, in the very corner of the map, was a shape that could only be—and he wondered, now, why he had never noticed it before—Minas Tirith. And about half-way up the city’s sloping side, corresponding, he supposed, to the third or fourth level, was a tiny image. At first sight it looked like lantern, for the artist had, with remarkable skill, contrived to make it seem to glow.

But as Arador stared at it, some unconscious part of his mind sorted through the information stored there, and retrieved a tiny piece...

And suddenly he knew exactly what the drawing represented, why the drow artist had marked it, and how it could be used.

Arador folded up the parchment and rushed out in search of Berengar.


Leaving Berengar to make her guests comfortable in the tent, Eowyn led Haldir out onto the plateau. “We will inspect the defences,” she said. “You may be able to make some further suggestions.”

As they walked down the winding path in silence, each wanting to say so much and neither knowing where to begin, Haldir watched Eowyn thread her way through the various groups of warriors, engineers, and earnest civilians, taking the time to greet them by name, ask them about their work and, often, make useful comments.

They passed the inner barricade, which closed off the gorge mouth, and walked out onto the plain. “The area is roughly triangular,” she began.

“I know, meleth nín,” replied Haldir, gently, “and I am intimate with your outer wall, having been forced to climb over it by Captain Drago. Eowyn... Tell me what is on your mind.”

“You are in love with her,” said Eowyn. “My double.”

“Whatever makes you say that?”

“I am not a fool, Haldir, and I do not believe in love at first sight.” She turned west and walked towards the gulley. “When you made love to me, it felt as though you had suddenly been given something you had wanted for a very long time—as though your moment had come.” She turned to him. “It was her, was it not? You were making love to her.”

No!” Haldir caught her by the arms. “No, meleth nín. It is true that I have loved her, true that I... Well, that does not matter now. But you and she are so different, Eowyn, and I made love with you—with my Eowyn. Not with her.”

“Hold me.”

“Oh, meleth nín.”


Captain Drago jogged across the tongue of land. “Riders, my Lady,” he cried, ignoring Haldir, “approaching from the south west—the old droveway. Three horses carrying what looks like two elves and a woman. And maybe a dwarf.”

“Legolas and Eowyn,” said Haldir.

The couple accompanied Drago to the edge of the gulley to watch the horses approach. Eowyn brought her hands up to her mouth. “Turn east,” she shouted, “follow the wall until it meets the escarpment. We will let you in there.”

Legolas raised his hand in a salute and the riders wheeled to the right and galloped past.

Haldir and Eowyn ran to the barricade. “Open the gate, Alfgar!” the woman cried. “Quickly.”

The captain’s men hauled back one of the carts, making a temporary hole in the fortification and, one by one, the horses jumped the ditch. Then the warriors re-sealed the defences.


Half an hour later

The walk up to the plateau had been uncomfortable. When Haldir—explaining how he came to be in what Legolas called ‘the shadow land’—had described losing his brothers in the Underdark, Legolas’ wife had hugged him, much to his embarrassment and her double’s annoyance.

Now they were all sitting in the shadow Eowyn’s tent, trying to ignore the emotional undercurrents, whilst they planned their next move.

“March Warden Golradir has seen the enemy encampment and can lead your men to it,” said Legolas, “though I would counsel you against mounting an attack until we have returned from Minas Tirith with reinforcements.”

“But the other Prince Legolas will be approaching from the south tomorrow,” said Drago. “That will be the ideal opportunity to attack on two fronts. In the daylight we will hold the advantage.”

“True,” said shadow Eowyn. “But my drow mercenary is not due to arrive until the following day—”

“If at all,” muttered Alfgar.

She shook her head, smiling. “He will come, Captain. And we will buy his services. Then we will attack on two fronts and from within; but it must be timed perfectly.”

“I do not like waiting so long,” insisted Drago. “If we give them the chance to attack again at night, my Lady, they may defeat us before we can put your clever plan into action.”

“That is why we are leaving for Minas Tirith immediately, Captain,” said Legolas. “We can be there and back by the day after tomorrow.”

“Thanks to Legolas,” said Eowyn, patting her husband’s arm, “and Captain Golradir, we know that the drow are not preparing to attack tonight. So all you need do, Captain Drago, is stop them attacking tomorrow.”

“With a small, pre-emptive strike,” said Golradir, “at dusk.”

“Exactly. You saw the camp, March Warden, what could we achieve with a small band of warriors?”

“We could set the lizards free,” said the elf, without a moment’s hesitation. “Those things are barely trained—they have no loyalty to their riders. If we can stampede them from clearing to clearing...”

“They will do our work for us,” agreed Legolas.

“Very well,” said the shadow Eowyn, rising and walking over to her map table. “We agree. March Warden Golradir will attack the drow encampment just before dusk. At the same time, Prince Legolas and my double,”—the two women exchanged an awkward nod—“will leave for Minas Tirith with Lord Gimli and,”—she hesitated—“and with Haldir. Captain Drago and Lord Fingolfin—I will need you here in case the drow retaliate. Tomorrow, Captain Alfgar will ride out to intercept the other Prince Legolas and lead him here as swiftly as possible. The following day—” The tent flap suddenly rose letting in a flood of firelight, and she turned towards the door in irritation. “What is it Berengar?”

“Master Arador has something to show you, My Lady.” He pushed the boy inside.

“Well?” asked Eowyn. Haldir came up beside her.

“I think I know another way into the Underdark,” said Arador.




Contents page


Previous chapter: The Drow
The elves are attacked; Cyllien makes a decision; Wilawen fetches a good price.

Chapter 14

Next chapter: The demon
Wilawen spars with her new owner; the elves suffer a fate worse than death; Arinna makes an enemy.

chapter 15