shadow eowyn and shadow legolas

“It is called a ‘portal’,” said Arador. “It is like a doorway. You step into it here—in this case, somewhere in Minas Tirith—and step out of it there—wherever it happens to lead.”

Cramped together in Eowyn’s tent, the warriors exchanged glances. There was a long silence. Then Legolas said, “Lord Fingolfin, have you ever heard of such a thing?”

The scholar shook his head. “Nothing precisely like this, my Lord—”

“They are described in several books,” Arador interrupted. “I brought one with me.” He rummaged in his travelling pack and pulled out a small, badly-worn volume, which he passed to Fingolfin. “I have marked the page...”

“Even if this thing does exist,” said the shadow Eowyn, “I see no reason to change our plans. March Warden Golradir’s attack will buy us time, and give you the chance to reach the river. If all goes well you will be back with reinforcements at about the same time my mercenary returns with his leader. No—we already have the means to attack the enemy from within—there is no need to risk sending our men into the dark, and putting them at a fatal disadvantage.”

“With respect, my Lady,” said Captain Drago, “you cannot rely on this turncoat—”

“Their leaders are here, Drago—on the surface—Lord Legolas himself saw their Queen. Whether we hire the mercenaries or not, this is where we will defeat them.”

“I agree with her—with your Lady—Captain,” said the other Eowyn, suddenly, “we should not try to fight them in the dark—we should attack them above ground and in broad daylight. But this doorway does worry me. If—Arador?”—the boy nodded—“if Arador is right and it does exist, could they not use it, to enter Minas Tirith?”

There were gasps and murmurs all around the tent.

“We must surely bar it,” Eowyn continued. “And quickly.” She turned back to Arador. “Where is it?”

The boy blushed. “I am not absolutely sure, my Lady, but...” He dropped his gaze. “The mark is against the third level of the city, and that—in my world—is where one of my contacts has his shop. If he also exists here, he may know more about it.” Then he added, with unusual diffidence, “I could go to Minas Tirith with you...”

Legolas looked to Haldir. “Is he up to it?”

“Yes. If he does as he is told.”

“Good. Then he will help you find this contact, March Warden, whilst Eowyn, Gimli and I speak with Aragorn.”


The mess tent was busy. Legolas and Gimli found four empty seats, and sat down.

“You are sure we need the lad?” asked Gimli, eyeing the lines of weary soldiers and frightened townsfolk waiting for their evening meal. “He is awful young.”

“I know. But it will not be the first time that you and I have fought beside a child, elvellon,” said Legolas, “and Haldir says that his knowledge of the dark warriors has already proved invaluable—”

“I am to sleep in Lady Eowyn’s own tent,” said Hentmirë to Eowyn, as she set two bowls of stew on the table. She took the chair next to Gimli’s. “And Master Berengar says that there are lots of jobs that I can help him with.”

“Berengar is a good man,” said Eowyn, setting a third bowl in front of Legolas, and sitting down beside him.

“Where is yours, melmenya?”

“I am not hungry.”

The elf pushed his bowl towards her. “Eat half.”

“When are you leaving?” asked Hentmirë.

“In about an hour,” said Legolas. He took a mouthful of stew, then handed the spoon to Eowyn. “We will leave the enclosure shortly after Golradir attacks the enemy camp—according to Drago's scouts, to the south east the way is reasonably clear, and any drow lurking there should be pulled back when the alarm is sounded. Once we reach the Anduin, we will turn north and follow the river to Osgiliath.”

“You will be careful?”

“Of course, gwendithen.”

“Only, if it really were that easy,” she said, quietly, “Lady Eowyn's men would have crossed the river weeks ago.”

Legolas patted her hand. “Nothing much passes by you, does it?” he said. “You be careful too, Hentmirë.”


“There has been some bleeding,” said the healer, carefully peeling back Haldir’s dressing, “but the wound has already knit itself back together.” He sponged away the dried blood. “Quite remarkable. If we humans had a tenth of your powers of healing, Master Elf, I might even enjoy my work.” He looked up at Eowyn. “I would say that he is fit to ride, my Lady, if he takes reasonable care.”

He applied a clean dressing and re-bandaged the shoulder.

“Good,” said Eowyn. “Thank you, Master Ethelmar.”

She waited until the man had left, then turned back to Haldir.

The elf stretched out his hands and she came to him, dropping to her knees before him; he wrapped his arms around her. “You are sending me away,” he said, burying his face in her hair.

“You are needed.” She closed her eyes, tightly. “We are both needed. Separately—”

“I know. And I accept that, meleth nín. But you would be sending me away even if it were not so.” He kissed the top of her head, adding, softly, “I do understand, Eowyn.”

“Do you?” Gently—very aware of his injury—she disentangled herself and looked up into his face. “Gods, I am no good at this.” She reached up and brushed back a strand of his silvery hair.

“At what, meleth nín?”

“At the ‘afterwards’.” She smiled sadly. “At picking up the pieces, afterwards.”

“I am not Legolas...” Her hand was still in his hair and he grasped it, and drew it to his cheek. “I have no great destiny to fulfil, as he has. I would be content to be your companion, Princess of Ithilien.”

She grinned, suddenly. “You would be my wife?”

He smiled. “If that is what you need. And the Captain of your Guard, perhaps. When all this is over.”

“But you said it could not last.”

He kissed her fingers. “Because this is not my world, meleth nín, and I do not yet know whether I can stay.”

“But you would want to?”

“Oh, yes,” he whispered. “But... Would you want me to stay?”

Her reply was forestalled by a polite cough from outside the tent. “Who is it?” she called.

“It is Eowyn—your double—you promised to lend me a broadsword.”

The woman looked up at the elf, mouthed, Later, then rose quickly to her feet. “Come in.”


Eowyn lifted the tent flap and entered.

Directly before her was Haldir, sitting on a folding chair, his broad chest bare apart for the bandage that passed under his arms and over his right shoulder, and she blushed to the roots of her hair.

Haldir picked up his tunic and slipped it on.

“This is a bad time,” she said.

“No,” said her double. “Wait there.” She pulled back a silk hanging and disappeared into her bedchamber.

“It is strange to see you here,” said Eowyn, quietly. She could not meet his eyes. “I mean, in this world. It is as though... Fate...”


“Haldir...” She thought of Legolas’ double, and the dreams that he had described to her, of himself with her own double. “Be careful—”

“Here,” said the shadow Eowyn, emerging from her bedchamber, “my cousin gave this to me on my sixteenth birthday. It is a good sword, perfectly balanced. The blade—”

“—is forged from Haradin steel,” said Eowyn, “and there is a firestone set in the pommel.” She watched her double draw the sword from its scabbard, and examine its edge. “Is he... Did Theodred survive the Fords of Isen?”

“No. He died bravely.”


“In your world too?”


“It was a terrible loss for his father. For all of us.” The shadow Eowyn re-sheathed the blade and gave the sword to Eowyn; and she, impulsively, caught hold of her double’s hand and—although the other woman immediately pulled away—their eyes met, and something passed between them—and it was as though Eowyn were seeing her own life, with all its joys and sorrows, in the mirror of her double’s eyes.

All its joys bar one, she thought. The most important one...

The shadow Eowyn laid a hand on Haldir’s shoulder. “My healer has pronounced Haldir fit to travel,” she said. Then, “Will you give us a moment?”

“Of course.”


“She knows,” said Haldir.

Eowyn smiled. “She is a woman; of course she knows.” She squeezed his good shoulder, gently. “Does it trouble you?”

“She will tell Legolas.”

“Does it matter?” She stepped in front of him and, dropping to a crouch, peered up into his face. “Gods, you are feeling guilty!”


Yes! Why? Because of her? Or because of him?” She stared up at him, her face suddenly flushed with annoyance. “Haldir! You have not betrayed her, because she chose him; and you have not betrayed him because I am not her.” And when he did not respond she rose to her feet and cried, “Get out. Go on! Out!

But Haldir did not move. “It is not guilt, Eowyn,” he said, quietly. “It... It is embarrassment.”


“By making love to you, it is as though I have made love to her... And... And shared with him.”

I am not HER!” Eowyn clenched her fists in frustration. “It makes no sense!”

“No,” said Haldir, “perhaps not, but... Yes, it does: you are different but you are the same...”

No! You said that I was your Eowyn. You said...” She ran her hand through her hair. “So where does this leave us?”

Haldir looked up at her, sadly. “I do not know, my love.”


Arador approached the jumble of wooden sheds and canvas awnings that served as the field Healing Room. Captain Drago had told him that his ‘mother’ helped tend the wounded.

The boy was not sure what he was going to say to her—he just knew that he had to say something.

He found her working in one of the outlying tents. She looked exhausted—and the marks of her earlier tears were still on her face—but she was doing her best to help, carrying a pitcher of water from bed to bed, patiently giving each man a ladle-full.

Arador waited until she had emptied the jug, then he stepped inside and caught her eye.

“Aran!” Her face lit up at the sight of him. “Is everything all right now? Has Lady Eowyn seen you?”

He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and hugged her. “Let me help you fetch some more water, mama.”


“What is wrong, melmenya?” Holding the reins of Eowyn’s horse, Legolas watched Eowyn as she tried to buckle Theodred’s sword into her shoulder harness.

“Wrong...?” The straps were uneven and the sword was hanging awkwardly; she pulled at it in frustration. “Argh!

“Here. Take these.” Legolas handed her the reins. “You must calm down, melmenya. Once we leave this enclosure, you will need all your wits—”

“Do you think I am a green girl?”

Legolas smiled (to himself) as he made a careful adjustment.

“I am worried for him,” she said. “That is all.”

“He is a grown elf.”

“But he is so... You are all so... When it comes to emotions, Lassui, you are like children. What?

“Why should he not be with her, melmenya? Why does it trouble you so much?”

Her answer took him by surprise. “Because he is coming. Your double. Another you. And she... She is so like me, Lassui.” She shook her head. “She is just like me.”


Arador took the jug from his ‘mother’s’ hands and let her lead him down the alley between the two rows of wooden sheds, to the back of the plateau, where a low wall had been built to catch the waters of a spring that bubbled up from the depths of Emyn Arnen and, there, they joined the line of people waiting to fill their pitchers.

Arador could stay silent no longer. “Do you remember,” he said, “what you said when you first saw me in the mess tent—that you had seen me die?”

The woman's eyes filled with tears. “I am so sorry, Aran. I do not know how I could have imagined it...”

“No.” He put his hand to her cheek and gently turned her face towards him. “No, what you saw was real. Though I do not know how to explain it to you... Unless,”—inspiration suddenly struck him—“come with me.”


“Where is the lad?” asked Gimli. “He should be here now.”

“He has a few minutes yet.” Legolas helped the dwarf into the saddle.

Gripping the leather tightly, Gimli straightened up, and raised his head. “Hmmm,” he said, “and here is more trouble.”

Legolas smiled. He could sense the shadow Eowyn and the March Warden approaching from behind, but he resisted the temptation to turn and stare. “Shhhh.”

“What?” growled Gimli.

“Do not bait him. I am warning you.”

But Gimli was not listening. “It is hard to tell you ladies apart,” he said to Eowyn.


“So, just as there are two Lady Eowyns,” said Arador, swallowing the lump in his throat, “there are two of you, and—there were—two of me. The other you is my mother; the other me was your son.” He hugged her tightly.

“I am telling you this because Lady Eowyn has asked me to go to Minas Tirith, with Lord Legolas and the others, and it will be dangerous, and I may not come back. So I wanted you to know. I wanted to make sure that you did not lose your son twice...”


“Lord Legolas,”—the shadow Eowyn handed him a leather dispatch pouch—“I have written a letter to King Elessar—to Aragorn—explaining the situation—the loss of Caras Arnen, Faramir’s death, our present position—it may help you convince him.”

Legolas bowed. “I am sure it will my Lady. Thank you.” He slung the bag over his shoulder.

“My Lady!” Captain Drago approached at a run. “It is almost time.”

“Very good, Captain. Prepare to open the barricade.”

Legolas and his small band of warriors trotted forwards, lining up along the cart that served as a gate—Eowyn to his right on a powerful grey stallion; Arador to his left on a swift Haradin gelding; and Haldir to the rear on one of Lady Eowyn’s own hunters.

“Can you tell my double from me, Gimli?” asked Legolas, over his shoulder.

“Oh, easily,” said Gimli. “He is the one with the axe handle up his backside.”


Outside the drow encampment

I would have preferred, thought Golradir, to have done this at dawn. The sudden daylight would have helped us.

He signalled Camthalion and Orodreth to follow him, and the three men—all of them excellent warriors, though not up to the task of approaching the drow unseen—to wait; they would be needed to cover the elves’ retreat.

The trio advanced slowly, keeping their warm bodies, as far as possible, hidden behind the trees. The encampment was just as Golradir remembered it, and the elves worked their way along its northern border, staying high up in the branches.

Lady Eowyn and the others, he thought, were wrong to think that the dark elves might be sleeping. Night, he realised now, was their natural element and, though some of them appeared to be resting, most of them were fully alert—with their weapons to hand.

But now was not the time to falter.

Silently, Golradir gave the sign, and the elves spread out, taking up their positions on three sides of the lizard herd.

He gave the signal to shoot at will, and they filled the clearing with a blizzard of arrows, targeted, with deadly accuracy, at the lizard handlers, at the tethering ropes, at the lizards’ throats and bellies, and—when the drow warriors all too quickly realised that they were under attack—between the pairs of fiery eyes that were scanning the forest in search of them.

Several of the lizards broke free and caused havoc—one viciously attacking its drow handler, the others lurching about the clearing, trampling anyone who came between them and their quest for cover.

But, despite the chaos, Golradir could see no way to withdraw without exposing his warriors’ backs, and he was painfully aware that their ammunition could not last much longer...

Then fate kindly intervened.

The drow had lit no fires—had no light at all save, here and there, the odd glowing jewel—but a tent towards the rear of the clearing must have housed some kind of smithy, with a covered furnace, and into this one of the lizards suddenly blundered, scattering hot coals across the ground in a wide arc.

Clumps of dry grass and brushwood caught light instantly and, as the fire quickly spread, Golradir raised his hand to his mouth and gave the familiar bird-call, and his warriors retreated, leaving the panicking drow to deal with their worst nightmare.


The barricade

The sound was faint but unmistakable—the noise of an army in chaos, of animals stampeding and of men—dark elves—struggling to regain control whilst their comrades panicked and—yes—screamed, in terror and pain.

And then another sound reached them—a snapping, crackling sound—

“Gods,” whispered Drago, “the forest is alight!” And he pointed, above the trees, to a dull red glow that was bleeding up into the sky. “Now, my Lady—they must leave now. Before the fire spreads west and cuts them off from the river!”

“Open the gate.”

Drago gave the signal and his men hauled back the carts.

And—with a final salute to Hentmirë (who had already taken Arador’s ‘mother’ under her wing), and to Berryn, Lord Fingolfin, Berengar and, of course, the shadow Eowyn herself—Legolas’ small band of warriors galloped through the barricade, cut sharply west, crossed the plain, and disappeared into the trees.



Eowyn’s tent

“Eowyn...” Lightly, Berengar touched her shoulder.

The woman—who had fallen asleep at the map table—lifted her head from her folded arms and looked around in confusion, but it took her only a moment to recover. “Any news?” she asked.

“Yes. They are here.”


“Lord Legolas and his elves. About a thousand, fully armed and mounted.”

“Already? Where have you put them?” She pushed her hair back from her face. “But what I really meant, Berengar, was is there any word of Ha—of the others?”

“The elves have pitched camp higher up the hillside. As for the others—no, but I think that no news is good news, my Lady.”

Eowyn sighed. “I suppose so. And Golradir?”

“He returned soon after Lord Legolas left—no fatalities, just two walking wounded.”

“The fire?”

“There was a heavy downpour around midnight—thank the gods—it seems to have contained it. And there was no retaliation from the drow, so the bulk of Captain Drago's men have stood down.”

“Good. Let them get some sleep,” said Eowyn, standing up and stretching. “They need it—and we have the elves now.” She yawned. “I suppose I had better see him.”

“Have a wash first,” said Berengar. “I will bring you some breakfast and—well, do you want to see him alone, or should I find Lord Fingolfin? Or perhaps Lady Hentmirë?”

Eowyn frowned. “You are indispensable as a secretary, Berengar, but there are times when you should mind your own blasted business,” she said.

“Then I will fetch him,” said the man, unperturbed. “That is, after you have changed your linen.”


Eowyn took a deep breath and let it out, slowly.

Gods, what is keeping him?

There was no reason to be so nervous. It was over—it had ended that same night, so long ago. And Meldon—well, Meldon was Arwen's son now. Arwen and Aragorn’s.

She got up and paced, from the table to the door, and back again—

“My Lady—”

“Show him in, Berengar.”

She turned.

The tent was made for men—for short, sturdy Rohirrim—and, like Haldir, Legolas was forced to stoop to enter it. She watched him straighten up, and their eyes met.

“Please sit down, Lord Leg...” Her breath caught in her throat.

The elf placed his hand on his heart and bowed his head. Then, with cat-like grace, he walked past her, and took the seat she was offering.

Gods, how can two identical beings be so different? she wondered. The other Legolas had been beautiful, yes, but she could never have mistaken him for this Legolas.

For her Legolas.

Haldir’s face blossomed in her mind’s eye and she turned her back on the elf—and noticed that Berengar was still hovering in the doorway.

“That will be all,” she said.

The man spread his hands. “There is nothing that requires my urgent attention, my Lady,” he said. “So perhaps I should stay, and take notes for you...”

She inclined her head just a fraction of an inch: Please, Berengar, no.

“I will not be far away,” he said softly.

Eowyn turned back to Legolas. “Thank you for coming, my Lord. You said that you would, but I—”

“We both said many things that night,” said the elf. “You, mostly hurtful things, I remember.”

“Your double tells me that you are betrothed,” replied Eowyn, quietly, “to an elleth. Was it not, then, for the best? Is it not better that you should spend eternity with another immortal?”

“You understand nothing of elves,” said Legolas, bitterly. “You do not know what it cost me to—to sever the bond that I had with you, to strive to bind myself to another... If the Valar had not given me Alatáriël, if she were not perfect—” He stopped, abruptly.

“I am sorry,” whispered Eowyn. Then she added, more forcefully, “I am sorry to have been the cause of such distress—”

Distress!” Legolas leaped to his feet. “I endured physical pain to break that bond! An elf may die of a broken heart.”

Truly? You mean that Ha...?” Eowyn caught herself, just in time. This must go no further. “I am sorry,” she repeated. “What else can I say? What can I do?” She walked over to the table and stood, hunched over the campaign map, her back turned to him. “I am very, very sorry.”

She heard him sigh. “I was sorry to hear of the death of your husband.”

“Thank you. I do miss him; so much.”

“Perhaps we should discuss your battle plan, híril nín.”



Legolas ran swiftly back up trail; it was a relief to leave the plateau behind. His elves had made camp high on the hillside, on a broad ledge overlooking the human encampment, and Eowyn’s tent—

Infuriating woman—he nodded to the guards as he flew past—even more infuriating than that infuriating double of hers!

He remembered, suddenly, how the other Eowyn had emerged from the bathing room, naked and dripping wet, tendrils of golden hair clinging to her lovely breasts; how she had thrown herself at him—pressed herself against him—and how his body and his spirit had both risen in response...

Thank the Valar that Alatáriël had not been there to see that—though what she had seen, later, and what she had overheard, had been bad enough.

He slowed to a halt and turned southwards, gazing longingly towards Eryn Carantaur, missing his home and Alatáriël, and, as always, feeling the pull of the sea.


She would sail with him when the time came.

So was Eowyn right? Was it better to have suffered—as he had suffered—to rid himself of his love for a woman? He could not have survived it if not for Alatáriël—of that he was sure.

But if ‘his’ Eowyn had been granted immortality, like her double...

He pushed that foolish thought from his mind, turned his back on the view, and ran on.


Having given Golradir his orders—explaining that he had agreed that the elves would take the next two watches to give Eowyn’s exhausted men a chance to rest and recuperate—Legolas retrieved his travelling pack and, realising that he had not eaten since leaving Eryn Carantaur, settled himself down on rock.

Golradir is a good elf, he thought, watching the March Warden drill a troop of archers. Reliable... He opened his pack and reached inside, feeling for his pouch of lembas bread.

His cloak, neatly folded, was at the top of the pack and, as he worked around it, his fingers found something unexpected tucked underneath—a small, hard, cylindrical object.

Legolas smiled.

It was a flask of the herbal tonic that Alatáriël insisted on buying, at immense cost, from his father’s Mistress of the Ceremony, to keep all his parts in working order.

He did not need it, of course.

But, since it could do no harm, he took it regularly, just to please her.

She must have slipped it in when we were saying goodbye.

Suddenly missing his betrothed, Legolas pulled out the slender bottle and held it up to the light. The tonic was a strange colour—one moment a deep, rich red, like wine, the next a profound black, like ink. He had always found its changes fascinating, and now he sat, turning the vial this way and that, watching it alter...

The smooth glass slipped through his fingers; Legolas lunged, but he was too late.

The vial hit the rocks with a sickening crash, and all its precious contents splashed out across the ground.




Contents page


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

chapter 17

Next chapter: The discovery
What exactly happened in the explosion? How will the elves survive in a brothel?

chapter 19