wilawen and pharaun

Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“Lady Hentmirë,” said Legolas, quietly, “will you leave us, please?”

Eyes wide, Hentmirë turned to Eowyn. The younger woman nodded, mouthing, “Fetch the healer.” Hentmirë rose, and hurried away.

“So I have a son,” said Legolas, bitterly, the moment they were alone. “And you decided to keep him from me.”

“You would have forced me to marry you.”

Forced!” He struggled to sit up. “Elves do not—”

“No!” Eowyn caught him by the shoulders and pushed him down onto the bed. “Lie still until the healer has seen you.”

“My son—I do not even know his name!” Legolas tried to shake her off. “My son and his mother should be with me! When this nightmare is over, I am taking you both back to Eryn Carantaur.”

“No,” said Eowyn, firmly, “you are not. You and I do not belong together, Legolas, whatever we may once have wished. And Arwen and Aragorn love Meldon as though he were their own. You can visit him, whenever you—”

He is my son!” he cried, still trying to escape her grasp. “Valar! Why am I so weak?”

“You were poisoned, by—by Alatáriël’s father. The healer will explain it to you—Hentmirë is fetching him now. And you must do whatever he says, Legolas, because we need you. I have hired the drow mercenary, and—”

“Why did you give him away, Eowyn?” He lifted a shaky hand and grasped her shoulder. “Our son? After what I said to you that night—after what I promised you.”

“What sort of life could we have given him? What sort of family would we have made? I will age, and die long before Meldon reaches manhood; and you—you will live, unchanging, till the end of days. Our son needed a mother and father like himself—long-lived but not immortal. I did what was right for him; I know I did. But do not imagine that a day passes, Legolas, when I do not miss my child.”


“I think,” whispered Hentmirë, drawing her hand back from the tent flap and turning to the healer, “that we should give them a few more moments.”


Minas Tirith
Geruil’s shop

Arador watched the fine grey mist rise from the onyx figurine, swirl upwards, and curl in upon itself. “Oh shit,” he muttered, “shit, shit, shit. What if it eats us?”

“It is too late to worry about that,” said Haldir, gripping his sword. “You have called it—you must command it.”

“Yes. But—suppose I cannot—do you think you can kill it?”


“Right.” Frowning, Arador concentrated on the cloud, watching it take shape, gathering into a long, muscular body, four sturdy limbs, and a broad, powerful head; he saw the cat’s eyes open, and brighten with life; and, the moment he judged the creature sufficiently aware, he said, “Guenhwyvar...” His voice wavered.

The cat growled, deep in its chest.

Guenhwyvar,” he repeated, trying to sound confident, “I have summoned you to help us guard the portal.” He gestured towards the blank wall.

The cat turned full circle, as if surveying its new territory.

The boy glanced at Haldir. “I think it understands.”

Guenhwyvar turned towards the shop door and, ears flattened against its head, growled again

“No,” said Arador, “the portal.”

But Haldir, too, was watching the door. “Someone is coming—”

Behind them, the wall transformed, solid stone melting into shimmering silver liquid—

And, at the same moment, the door flew open, and three drow ran into the shop.

“Shit!” cried Arador.

The cat leaped, bringing down the first warrior and pinning him to the ground. Haldir, sword already in hand, cornered the second. The third, a female, streaked past her comrades, heading straight for the portal, pursued by Aragorn and Legolas.

“Stop her,” shouted the King.

Arador scooped up the onyx figurine, and hurled it.


The Queen’s bedchamber

With a final glance around the chamber, Eowyn approached the closet. Gimli had removed the drow bodies; she and Berkin had cleared away the rest of the debris and straightened the furniture. Everything looked normal.

She hoped that the little boys would feel safe.

“Arwen,” she called, softly, “you can bring them out now.” She opened the door—

Something very small and very blond shot through the gap, and cannoned into her, burying its face in her stomach. “Ooof!” she cried; then, smiling, she wrapped her arms around her double’s son. “Hello...”

Arwen appeared in the doorway, carrying Eldarion.

“It is safe for them now,” said Eowyn. “Do they need anything? Food? Water?”

“Where is Estel?”

“Some of the drow escaped.” Eowyn guided the elfling to a chair and sat him down. “He and Legolas went after them. Gimli has caught the rest, and their human collaborators, and has recalled your servants.” She kneeled down before the child, hoping to reassure him, and found herself buttoning his crumpled jerkin. She smiled up at the Queen. “Everything will soon be set to rights, Arwen. Do you need anything? Do the children?”

“Just Estel.”

“I am sure he will be back soon.” She shifted her weight, intending to stand, but the elfling caught her hand. “Do you want something? Would you like a drink?”

He shook his head, but his little fingers held onto hers, tightly.


Geruil’s shop

“This,” said Legolas to Aragorn, “is Arador. He can tell you more.”

The King eyed the boy, standing between Haldir, whom he had seen die at Helm’s Deep, and the massive black cat, which was, apparently, some sort of demon, and shook his head in disbelief. “Can you close it?” he asked, gesturing towards the portal.

The boy shook his head. “It seemed to become active when the drow approached it, your Majesty,” he said, without any of his usual jauntiness, “and, from what I have read, I would say that they are carrying some sort of key—a jewel, or other magical object. If you can find that, and take it far enough away, the portal will close. But it will not seal permanently, sir,” he added.

Aragorn ordered one of the men to search the drow prisoners. “Whatver it is, you will probably find it on the woman,” he said. “What will seal it, Arador?”

“I do not know, your Majesty. I am still trying to find out.”

Aragorn approached the shimmering wall. Beyond its watery surface, a narrow tunnel, with walls of jagged rock, seemed to recede into the distance. “And it leads to their homeland?”

“Yes,” said Legolas. “A world, deep underground, that is almost completely dark, and filled with strange beings.”

“Like the cat.”

Guenhwyvar growled.

“Far worse than the cat, your Majesty,” said Haldir.

Aragorn turned to his old friend, smiling. “How long were you down there?”

“It is hard to tell,” said the elf. “The depth of rock and the darkness confuse the senses—but I believe it was no more than two days.”

“I see.” Aragorn turned to Legolas. “This,”—he indicated the shadowy tunnel beyond the portal—“is a serious breach in our defences, but there is no sign of preparations for an invasion.”

“And Emyn Arnen is already under siege.”

“Yes...” Aragorn seemed to make up his mind. “Haldir,” he said, “if you are willing to stay here and guard this, I can leave you a company of warriors, and,”—he gestured towards the men who had followed him earlier and were still thronging the alleyway outside—“a citizen militia.”

The elf placed a hand upon his heart and inclined his head. “It will be an honour, your Majesty.”

Hannon le, mellon nín,” said Aragorn, returning his bow. Then, “Arador,” he continued, “keep looking for a way to seal it.”

“I shall, your Majesty,” said the boy, bowing low.


The Queen’s bedchamber

Hugging the elfling, Eowyn spoke quietly to the Queen. “Why did he call me his ‘other Nana’?”

“Because he knows, Eowyn,” replied Arwen. “He has always known—the moment he could speak he began asking about his ‘other Nana’ and his ‘other Ada’. It has been hard, answering his questions without breaking our word to you.”

Eowyn stroked the boy’s silken hair. “Thank you for taking such good care of him, Arwen,” she said, kissing the crown of his little head. “But there is something I must explain to you.”


“It is just like the old days,” said Aragorn, as he and Legolas jogged back to The Citadel, accompanied by a small band of men escorting the drow prisoners.

“Aragorn,” said Legolas, “there is something I must explain to you.”


Arador sorted through the collection of objects that had been confiscated from the drow—two tiny crossbows and their poisoned quarrels, a jewelled dagger, several heavy rings, a carved wooden rod, a large, circular brooch, set with a single, glowing gemstone, and an ivory bracelet.

He picked up the brooch and examined its stone more closely. This is the most likely, he thought. And, followed by Guenhwyvar, he walked out of the shop, through the crowd of men, and turned.

The wall was solid stone.

“Well,” he said, “I suppose that is a start.”


The King and the elf entered The King’s House and climbed the Great Staircase. The Palace was bustling with activity.

“I cannot believe it,” said Aragorn. “I know you—or, if you are right, your double—too well to doubt your sincerity—you are an elf, after all—but, still, I cannot believe it. And yet I have seen Haldir, alive...”

“You will be in no doubt once we reach Emyn Arnen,” said Legolas. “Two Eowyns, two of me.”

“Hmm.” They approached the Royal Apartments. Aragorn eyed the unfamiliar guards flanking the doors.

“They are Redwald’s men,” said Legolas, “and trustworthy, for the present.”

“Where is the queen?”

One of the men bowed, awkwardly. “I think she is in her bedchamber, your Majesty—”

Laddie!” cried Gimli, running to Aragorn, and throwing his arms around him.

“Old friend,” said the King, returning the dwarf’s embrace, “it is good to see you after all this time!”

“Come inside, come inside,” said Gimli. “We have caught the Orc that was calling himself your Counsellor, and one or two of his friends—but you can deal with all that later—the Queen is safe, in there, with the little lads and Eowyn.”


Aragorn opened the bedchamber door.

Legolas, close behind him, heard one of the children cry out in fear. Then a voice shouted, “Daddy, Daddy!” and he saw Eldarion slide from his mother’s lap and run to his father, who lifted him into his arms.

“Estel!” cried Arwen.

But Legolas had spotted Eowyn, holding his double’s son, and he rushed to them, and gathered them close.

“Are you all right?” asked Eowyn.

“Yes.” He pressed his lips to her forehead. “We caught them, melmenya, and Aragorn has agreed to come back to Emyn Arnen with us.”

“Thank the gods.” She smiled up at him. “This is Meldon,” she said.

“I know,” said Legolas, hugging them both tightly.

“Other Ada,” murmured the elfling, contentedly. “Nana and Ada.”


Arador picked up the figurine. “I am sorry,” he said, “I should not have thrown it.”

Guenhwyvar growled.

“But it does not seem to be damaged.” He set it down on the floor. The cat padded towards him. “Gods,” he muttered, “you are scary. I am so glad that you seem to be on our side.” He took a deep breath. “Right, let us hope you understand this: go home.”

The animal circled the statuette, once, twice, again, and again, smoke peeling from its body and swirling down into the stone; and—as the last grey wisps were finally draining away—Arador thought he heard a faint sound, almost like a voice, and it seemed to be calling, “Guenhwyvar?


Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“So what Princess Eowyn told me is true,” said Legolas. “I was poisoned?”

“Yes, your Highness,” replied Findecáno.

“With what?”

“A philtre, your Highness, designed to enslave you.”

“Enslave? You mean Alatáriël’s tonic? No,”—Legolas shook his head, smiling—“that was simply—she said that was just...”

“To increase sexual appetite,” said the healer, “and the ability to satisfy it.”

“It had no effect,” said Legolas, colouring.

“Its effects would have been so gradual, your Highness, that you may not have noticed them. But you would, for example, have felt increasingly dependent upon the lady, and have experienced difficulty making decisions of your own—”

“Leave me,” said Legolas.

The healer bowed, and turned to go.


“Your Highness?”

“Forgive me, I am sorry... Will you ask Princess Eowyn to join me?”

“Of course, your Highness.”

Legolas watched the healer leave. Alatáriël, he thought; and, closing his eyes, he tried to picture her, tried to summon up the feelings of tenderness—and of deep physical desire—that had always accompanied his thoughts of her.

And he saw her face, with its wicked smile, and he smiled too; but his heart and his body remained strangely unmoved.


Eowyn and Hentmirë were waiting in the busy Mess Tent.

“You are more nervous than I am,” said the younger woman.

“Well, I am to blame,” said Hentmirë, miserably. She toyed with her bowl of stew. “I knew that he would be waking soon. I should not have let you speak to me so openly.”

Eowyn patted her arm. “You did me a great kindness, Lady Hentmirë, allowing me to unburden myself like that,” she said. “And, now that Legolas knows about Meldon, I feel, somehow—lighter—as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.”

“Will you—I mean, what do you intend to do?”

“Legolas wants me to go to Eryn Carantaur with him. He wants the three of us to live as a family.”

“Will you?”

“No.” She saw the disappointment on Hentmirë’s face, and squeezed her arm, smiling. “However...Though I hope that he will leave Meldon with Arwen and Aragorn, if he insists on taking him, I will not oppose it. I may even visit them from time to time. But—assuming that I survive the next battle—I will have work to do here. Faramir’s work. And, besides...” Her voice trailed away.

“Does Haldir intend to stay with you?”

Eowyn smiled. “You are observant. Yes, he has suggested it,” she admitted. “And he is kind, and honourable; a brave warrior, and a natural leader of men.”

“Yes,” said Hentmirë. Carefully, she removed a lump of gristle from her bowl, and laid it on her platter. “He is all of that. But do you love him?”

“I...” Eowyn frowned. “I do think that I could be happy with him.”

Hentmirë nodded.

“But you do not think that that is enough,” said Eowyn.

“I am biased,” said Hentmirë.

“Legolas is not your Legolas,” said the younger woman. “And I am not your Eowyn.”

“No. But he is my Haldir.”

Ah...” Eowyn smiled. “You are a loyal friend, Lady Hentmirë,” she said.


Eowyn returned to her tent to find Legolas sitting on the edge of the bed, fastening his jerkin.

“You are leaving?”

“I am going back to the elven encampment,” he said. “There are preparations to be made. Captain Golradir is a reliable elf, but—”

“The warriors are your responsibility.” Eowyn smiled. “Yes, I understand that. But I must show you our battle plan before you go.” She beckoned him to the table.

“Findecáno has told me about Alatáriël's tonic,” said Legolas, watching her unroll her map. “I do not—I cannot—I thought it was harmless.”

“Lord Fingolfin believes that it was really her father’s doing.”

I loved her.”

“I am so sorry.” Eowyn grasped his arm.

“And now I do not know what I feel for her.”

“I have decided,” said Eowyn, “that I will not oppose you; if you want to take Meldon back with you—if Arwen will permit it, that is—I will not try to stop you.”

“But you will not come with us?”

“I belong here, Legolas. I have work to do here. Besides, you are still betrothed to Alatáriël, and I,”—she turned from him and, smoothing out the parchment on the table top, placed a weight on its corner—“I am mortal.”

“Your double is not.” Legolas came up beside her.

“What do you mean?”

“She will not die. I do not know how it happened, exactly, but my healers confirm that it is true. And my double believes it to be a gift—a sign from the Valar that he and she are meant to be together.”

“That has no bearing on our circumstances,” replied Eowyn, placing another weight on the parchment. “Now,”—she pointed to the sketch of the drow encampment—“their troops are concentrated in this clearing and in three others to the east—”

“Haldir of Lorien is immortal,” he said, softly.

Eowyn looked up in surprise.

“I have heard you mention his name,” said Legolas, “with fondness.”

“Haldir has offered to stay with me,” Eowyn admitted, “to be my consort and the Captain of my Guard.”

“And the father of your children?”

“We do not have time for these emotions, Legolas,” said Eowyn, curtly. “Not now.”

The elf sighed. “I am sorry,” he said. “Show me your battle plan.”


Minas Tirith
Geruil's shop

“There,” said Haldir, placing a bowl of soup and some bread on the counter, “eat, Master Arador.”

The boy laid down the book he was consulting, and took up the horn spoon. “Thank you. It smells delicious.”

“The alleyway is now a barracks. Mistress Wilawen has set up a field kitchen in one of the workshops.”

“I never imagined her as a cook.” Arador broke off a piece of bread. “Do you think the drow will attack tonight?”

Haldir glanced at the wall—blank stone once more, now that the key had been removed and locked safely away in the lantern shop. “No.”

“Good,” said Arador. Then, “Why not?”

“Because they were not expecting today’s defeat,” said the elf. “The portal is small and the alleyway is narrow—it is designed for stealth, for gradual infiltration, not full-scale invasion. Now that we have captured it, it will take them time to plan a counter move.”

“Assuming,” said Arador, “that they even know we are here.” He dipped his bread in the soup.

“They know.”

“No one got back through the portal to tell them.”

“No. But I would be willing to wager,” said Haldir running his fingers over the assortment of drow artifacts that Arador had left lying on the counter, “that they have other ways of sending messages.”

“Yes,” said Arador, taking a bite of bread, “I think I have read of spells...”

“Have you discovered anything more about the portal?”

“Lots, but nothing that really helps.” He sighed. “There is still so much I do not know. I mean, we could try destroying the key—assuming that it can be destroyed—but ours is unlikely to be the only one. We could try building another wall, here, in the middle of the shop, because you cannot pass through a portal when there is a solid object at the other side, apparently. But there is nothing, as far as I can see, to stop them removing the wall magically—unless their magic cannot penetrate a portal—”

Haldir patted the boy’s shoulder. “You are tired, Master Arador, ” he said. “When you have finished your meal, go and find yourself a bed in the boot-maker’s shop. I will have the men build your wall—it cannot hurt.” He walked to the door. “Keep the figurine with you, in case we need to summon the cat in a hurry.”


The Palace

Legolas closed the door of the guest bedchamber “We leave for Emyn Arnen in six hours.”

Eowyn smiled up at him. “He is fast asleep, Lassui,” she said, “all tucked up in his little bed. I had to tell him a story.”

“Oh, melmenya,”—the elf stretched out his arms—“come here.”

Eowyn rose and, sliding her arms around his waist, laid her head upon his shoulder.

“I want you to promise me something,” said Legolas, gently.

“I will not stay out of the battle, Lassui. Whatever dangers you face, I will face them with you.”

“No, it is not that—though perhaps it should be—no, it is little Meldon. I want you to promise me that you will remember he is not ours—shh, shh,”—he pressed his lips to her temple—“I want you to remember that, when all this is over, if we survive, we must return to our own world and he must stay here, with his real parents—or with Arwen and Aragorn.”

“I know, Lassui.”

“Yes,” he said, kissing her again, “but knowing and knowing are not the same thing; and I do not want to see your heart broken, melmenya.”

“Then what am I to do,” she asked, “if he comes running to me—if he grasps my hand—tell him to go away?”

“Oh, my darling, no! I just—”

“You are trying to protect me; I understand,” she admitted, “but you cannot, not this time.” She slipped from his arms and sat down on the bed. “It is already too late, Lassui—yes—I loved him the moment I saw his little face, and I think that you did too.”

“I did.” Legolas knelt down before her. “But he is not ours, my darling. One day, we will have a child of our own, Eowyn nín,”—he raised her hands to his lips—“and we will love him even more.”

“My elf,” said Eowyn, stroking his face, tears running down her own cheeks, “my beautiful elf...”

Legolas gave her fingers a final kiss. “Let me help you undress, melmenya. You will feel much better for a few hours’ sleep.”

“You will stay with me tonight?”

“There is nothing in this world that could drag me away, meleth nín.”


Next morning

“And I want you to be a good boy, and take care of your Nana and your muindor,” Eowyn whispered. She leaned into the cot and kissed him.

But Meldon was not asleep, and the smile that he gave her—and Legolas, standing beside her—was just as dazzling as his ‘other Ada’s’.


As the sun rose over the mountains of Mordor, the King of the Reunited Kingdom rode out from Minas Tirith at the head of his army.

By midday he had crossed the Great River—passage having been secured by an advance party he had sent out the some hours before—and at dusk, having seen no sign of the enemy on the eastern bank, he entered the shadow Eowyn’s stronghold in the southern foothills of Emyn Arnen.

Eowyn’s scouts had spotted him as he approached from the west, and the Shieldmaiden was already waiting on the plateau to receive him. “Your Majesty,” she said, bowing deeply.

“Eowyn, my dear friend, you must not bow to me!” he said, dismounting and taking her by the hands. “It is good to see you again—I only wish that the circumstances were happier. Faramir was a wise counsellor and a good friend, and I shall miss him.”

Eowyn nodded, her eyes glistening with tears.

Aragorn leaned closer, to speak privately. “If there is anything that Arwen or I can do...”

“Thank you.” She smiled, sadly. “Perhaps, when this is over...”

“Yes,”—he squeezed her hands—“let us discuss your battle plan—Legolas,”—he placed his hand upon his heart to greet the shadow Legolas—“Mae govannen, mellon nín.”

Gîl síla erin lû e-govaded vín, Aragorn.”

“My headquarters are in the hills,” said Eowyn.

“Lead the way.”


As the procession reached the encampment, a plump little woman, dressed in trousers and boots, came blundering from the Healing Tent and hugged Legolas, Eowyn and Gimli.


Eowyn’s tent

“After the fire,” said Captain Alfgar, “we expected them to retaliate immediately.”

“But they missed their chance,” agreed Drago. “They sat in their camp, licking their wounds, and now our scouts report that their numbers are dwindling.”

“The warriors belong to different noble houses,” explained the shadow Eowyn. “According to our mercenary, the old woman is not their Queen but the ‘matron mother’ of the largest house. She holds the alliance together by little more than threats and promises, and the other matrons will rebel at the slightest sign of weakness—some of them have already deserted her, and taken their warriors with them.”

Aragorn looked at the sketch map laid out on the table before him. “How accurate is this?” He indicated the positioning of the drow troops.

“It was updated at midday,” said Eowyn. “These,”—she pointed to a ring of symbols running around the edge of the main clearing—“are all women. The men have been moved out into the forest. Our mercenary says that the holy women are preparing to perform some sort of rite, seeking the aid of their goddess, and the men must be kept at a distance. The ceremony will begin at nightfall, and will last until they get an answer.”

“Whatever that might be,” muttered Drago. “But the male drow know that you are here, your Majesty. We have seen their scouts flitting through the trees; they are ready for us. And... They are brave warriors,” he added, grudgingly.

“But we know their strengths and weaknesses,” said Eowyn, “and now they are outnumbered.”

“Let us get some rest,” said Aragorn. “We will follow your plan, and attack at first light.”


As her captains were filing out of the tent, the shadow Eowyn drew her double aside. “Where is Haldir?” she asked. “Why did he not return with you?”

“He is safe,”—Eowyn smiled, placing a reassuring hand upon her arm—“he stayed in Minas Tirith to defend the city. Aragorn left him in command. But he will come back as soon as he can.”

The shadow Eowyn glanced at her Legolas. He was deep in conversation with his own double. “Did you,”—she hesitated—“did you see Arwen’s children?”

“Yes, I saw your son. He is beautiful.”

"My—you know? Did he see you?

Eowyn nodded. Then she squeezed her double’s arm, and whispered, “He thought that I was you.”

“What do you mean?”

"He loves Arwen and Aragorn, and little Eldarion, and he is happy with them—you can rest assured of that—but he knows that they are not his real family. He came to me—he held my hand—when he was scared.” She smiled, her eyes bright with tears. “And Legolas and I just wanted to gather him up, and keep him safe with us forever.”




Contents page


Previous chapter: Flight
The elves escape from the brothel. Will Pharaun keep his word?

chapter 25

Next chapter: Farewell
Pharaun, Wilawen and Drizzt set out on a journey.

chapter 27