It had taken all day to decorate the banqueting hall of Eryn Carantaur for the colony's first Harvest Ceremony. But now garlands of corn and rosy red apples hung between its columns; and dried flowers and autumn fruits, and hundreds of candles, decorated its large, ring-shaped table.
Legolas Greenleaf, Lord of Eryn Carantaur, took one last, careful look around the hall. All was ready. The banquet would begin in less than three hours. And then—the elf glanced nervously to centre of the hall—he would perform his very first Harvest Rite.
Maranwë, the scullery maid, should not have been in Legolas' bedchamber.
It was her job to scrub all the crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils used in the royal household. She never left the kitchens during the day except on the very rare occasions when the cook asked her to run errands. And that
, she thought, is probably why Master Eö asked me to help him, too.
"Lord Legolas has requested a vase of fresh roses in his sitting room," Master Eö had said, "and all my serving ellyth are busy decorating the banqueting hall, so I am relying on you, Maranwë."
He had handed her a bowl of deep red roses and sent her to Legolas' chambers with strict instructions: "Put the mat on Lord Legolas' desk, to the right of where he sits, and well out of arm's reach. Put the bowl on the mat. On no account spill any water on the desk. And, when you have finished, make sure you run straight back here."
And Maranwë had meant to do exactly as he said. She really had. But once she was inside Lord Legolas' chambers, she simply could not bring herself to leave. Like all the female servants, Maranwë was in love with the Lord of Eryn Carantaur. And to have the opportunity to explore his private chambers...
She had looked around the beautiful sitting room, admiring the huge desk by the window and the elegant furniture grouped around the fireplace. She had examined the pale, polished wood and the deep red upholstery, tracing with her fingers the embroidered carantaur leaves. She had imagined herself sitting by the fire, graciously entertaining the wife of one of Lord Legolas' guests, whilst their husbands discussed important matters.
And then she had spotted the bedchamber.
Gingerly, she had opened the door and peeped in. Like the sitting room, Legolas' bedchamber was severely elegant, though the effect was lighter and more decorative. The bed, the nightstand and the dressing table were again of pale wood but were finished with a beautiful carved moulding that reminded Maranwë of flowing water. She ran her fingers along the swirling edge of the dressing table mirror. The chair seat, like the coverlet and the bed curtains, was of pale pink silk embroidered with young, green carantaur leaves. Maranwë sat down, picked up Legolas' comb and ran it through her hair.
The bed had been placed by the windows so that Lord Legolas could lie looking up at the stars. It seemed to invite her... She walked over, perched on the edge and began to swing up her legs, intending to stretch out on the bed, just for a moment. Then something on the nightstand caught her eye: a large, flat box, ornately carved. It was beautiful. Maranwë picked it up, unfastened the catch, and opened it.
The box was not a box at all but some sort of album. And it contained just one picture, a portrait of a beautiful golden-haired lady. Maranwë studied her rival. The face was flawless, delicately shaped with a generous mouth, pale blue-grey eyes and an expression that spoke of strength and determination. This lady is a match for my lord
, thought Maranwë. She studied the face more closely. There was something strange about the lady and it took her a few moments to work out exactly what it was.
She was human!
Maranwë was taken aback. Why in all of Middle Earth does Lord Legolas have a picture of a human beside his bed?
Whilst she was still pondering that question she realised that there was someone else in the chambers. Heart pounding, she peeped around the door to the sitting room and—Dear Valar!
—Lord Legolas had returned! Maranwë quietly closed the door.
Perhaps she could leave by the window?
But no, a group of palace guards were talking just outside. She would have to wait-and hope that she was not discovered in the meantime. She crept back to the door and listened intently. If Lord Legolas should decide to come into his bedchamber she would need plenty of warning.
Legolas had been preparing for the Harvest Rite for three months.
It was the most important of the wood elves' festivals and-since Legolas would be performing it for the first time-his father, King Thranduil, had sent his own Mistress of the Ceremony to Eryn Carantaur to prepare him. For three months the terrifying elleth had lectured Legolas on the mysteries of the Rite, insisting that he remain 'pure in body and spirit' during his period of preparation. And that had meant three months of complete celibacy.
Sweet Eru, it had been difficult! Far more difficult than he had ever imagined, even though he already lived a solitary life. For, although there was no shortage of ellyth—or, it seemed, of men—ready and willing to give him physical pleasure, Legolas could not, would not, betray her
Since he had met her, four years ago, he had lain with no one, satisfying his body himself, when necessary. But now, after three months without any opportunity for physical release, his longing for her had begun to affect his spirit. He had started falling into a mortal-like sleep, and dreaming.
And, Valar, what dreams they were!
Every night his lady—his sweet, gentle girl—would behave like a first rate whore. She would undress before him, slowly, straddle him and—after much unbearable teasing—impale herself upon him with a deep guttural cry of satisfaction. And then, once she had him captive, she would lean back, and pleasure herself with her own hand. And he, paralysed inside her, would be reduced to begging for his own release. And only when she had come herself, sometimes more than once, and when she judged him sufficiently humiliated, would she slowly lean forward, brushing his chest with her bare breasts, and ride him into oblivion.
And, Valar, it felt good! But always, as he approached completion, he would wake to find himself alone, his seed splashed across his belly and his body still aching for proper release.
Oh, hiril nín! Oh meleth nín! What sickness in me would have you behave so?
"My lord?" Legolas' guilty thoughts were interrupted by the Mistress of the Ceremony, who seemed to enter his private chambers whenever she wished, with no regard for common courtesy. "We must make our final preparations, my lord. Please sit down here." She moved a dining chair to the centre the room. Legolas sat down reluctantly, then watched, appalled, as she knelt before him and reached for his leggings.
"What are you doing?"
"I am preparing you, my lord. We must ensure that your passions are sufficiently roused to complete the rite."
"That will not be necessary."
"It is a part of the ceremony."
"No, I will not permit it."
"To refuse, my lord, is to dishonour the Valar. And if you cannot perform the rite tonight, you will be failing your subjects." Her standard answer permitted no further discussion.
I have no choice
, he thought. He gritted his teeth and tried to allow her to do her work. But there was something especially repulsive about the way she handled him, as if tickling a trout…
"My lord, you must relax and stop resisting me or we will not achieve the result we desire."
Legolas' stomach churned.
But he told himself again that he had no choice. He was Lord of Eryn Carantaur, and his father's son, and he had committed himself to performing this rite. And he knew there was only one way to 'achieve the result' the Mistress of the Ceremony was demanding. Guiltily, he closed his eyes and he thought of her
. Not the woman who tortured him in his fevered dreams but the woman he had fallen in love with the first time he had seen her-the woman who had slipped through his fingers, like a river daughter swimming in the Anduin! He thought of her body, slender and graceful, with small, full breasts; and he remembered how, as she ran past him, her white skirts had lifted and he had caught a glimpse of her long, slim legs in little black boots…
Oh! His body was beginning to respond. He let his imagination wander.
She was standing in her garden, beneath one of the cherry trees. The pink blossoms were just beginning to fall and several had caught in her golden hair. She smiled at him and held out a garland of daisies she was weaving. He took the flowers, twisting them into a coronet and placed them on her head, letting his fingers run through her silky hair and graze her bare shoulders. He gathered her against his body and made her shiver with pleasure.
"Make love to me, my lord."
He led her to a low wall where, under the blossom, they could join their bodies in privacy.
Gently, he turned her over the wall and raised her skirts, running his hands up her smooth thighs and over the perfect curve of her buttocks. She writhed under his touch: "Please, my lord."
He pulled open his leggings. Then, slipping one hand beneath her, he gently lifted her body, using his other hand to guide himself inside her, and he began to thrust.
She was warm and soft, and so sweet that he was losing himself…
He cried out her name. "Eowyn! Oh Eowyn! Sweet, sweet
"No, my lord, you must not spill your seed." The Mistress of the Ceremony ruthlessly prevented his climax.
And then he cursed. He called her a perverted old hag, her mother a whore and her father a cuckold. He called the harvest rite a peep show for impotent elves. He ordered her to leave his kingdom and to pray to the Valar for protection.
"Or I might just hunt you down and carve you up like the disgusting, filthy orc you are…"
Then he wrapped himself in a thick, warm dressing robe and stalked angrily out of his chambers. Ilúvatar!
He needed some fresh air.
That wicked, wicked elleth
, thought Maranwë. How could anyone treat Lord Legolas like that? Touching his-his private parts like that. Then hurting him. The Valar will see that she is punished. If I were a warrior, and not just a scullery maid, I would punish her myself
Seizing the opportunity to escape unseen, Maranwë slipped out of Legolas' chambers and headed for the staircase that would take her back to the kitchens.
The protocol of the harvest rite stipulated that the celebrant must not see any of the guests before the banquet began, so it had fallen to Legolas' Chief Counsellor to welcome his visitors and to ensure that they were comfortably settled in their quarters.
Fortunately, the walkway that snaked past the guest chambers, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the 'palace', was completely deserted. Legolas smiled. Though he still ached, he did not feel quite so unclean. The warm autumn air, carrying with it the scents of ripe fruits and newly mown hay, had cleansed his spirit…
"Good afternoon, Lord Legolas."
The merry voice took him completely by surprise, and for a moment he froze like a startled deer. Then he pulled his robe tightly across the front of his body and turned to face her.
"Good afternoon, Princess Eowyn."
She smiled and his heart broke.
"I do hope you do not mind my being here, my lord,"—he had not invited her—"Faramir thought it would do me good to leave Caras Arnen for a while, so he asked Aragorn and Arwen to bring me to your festival."
Legolas shook his head. "You are most welcome, my lady." He allowed himself to look at her properly, taking in her tall, slender figure, her long golden hair—worn bound now, as befitted a married woman—and her face, still flawless, yet warm and generous when she smiled. Perhaps he was staring, because she suddenly seemed uncomfortable and looked away.
"Your settlement is very beautiful, my lord."
"Thank you." Now it was Legolas' turn to feel uncomfortable. "May I show you something, my lady?"
He led her to a flight of narrow stairs that wound its way further up the trunk of the tallest tree. "It is up here." Ilúvatar,
he thought, I sound like an old witch luring a little girl to her doom with the promise of sweetmeats
But Eowyn climbed nimbly up the stairs without any hesitation and they both stepped out onto a small, open flet.
"This is the highest point of the settlement," said Legolas. "From here, on a clear day like today, you should just be able to see-"
"The sea!" She laughed, clapping her hands together with delight. Then, realising its significance for him, she asked: "Do you intend to leave, my lord?"
"Nay, my lady. I have sworn that I will remain in Middle Earth for as long as my mortal friends live," he answered.
"Does it hurt—to see it?"
"It is bitter-sweet, my lady." He smiled, sadly. "The sea longing is not itself painful, but it can be painful to resist. Yet I could not bear to enter the undying lands knowing that I had left my mortal friends behind. How could I leave and never know their fates?"
Eowyn nodded, gravely: "Death, most times, does not come when we choose it, so we leave our loved ones whether we will or no. I had never thought so before, but our death is easier than your leaving, for you must choose when
to leave. And I fear that your loyalty will cost you dearly," she added, softly. "They are indeed fortunate, my lord, to have a friend such as you."
"Nay, my lady. I count myself lucky to have so many mortal friends. Mortals are full of life; they are
life; and it makes an elf humble to see their fragile beauty, their brightness. I love their brightness; and I love…" He stopped, suddenly embarrassed. "I am sorry my lady."
"No, please continue."
"I simply mean that an elf gains much in the company of mortals."
"But," she said, delicately, "there will be so much sadness for you." For a moment, he thought her eyes filled with tears. "Thank you for sharing the sea with me."
He should have left her then, but her earlier delight in the sea and her gentle concern for him now were both addictive. And on a sudden impulse he tried to shake off the melancholy he had just brought down on them: "Come, my lady!"
Legolas led her down another flight of stairs, back through the leafy canopy of the big carantaur, to a large flet, just above his own private chambers, where he had made himself a secluded garden of sorts, a place to entertain his guests. A table and some chairs stood at the centre, with pots of his favourite plants—brightly coloured daisies, small, sweet-scented cabbage roses, lavender, rosemary, and lemon sage—all arranged around it. But he led her past the table to a corner of the flet where, hanging from one of the smaller branches of the carantaur, he had built a swing. He had meant it for the children of his human guests, but it seemed to him now the ideal way to cheer Eowyn.
"Sit down, my lady."
She looked surprised and, perhaps, a little insulted. But then she sat on the swing and took a firm hold of the ropes. Legolas stood behind her and gave her a gentle push. Eowyn swung to and fro. He pushed again. She laughed happily. He pushed again. Higher and higher she rose, back and forth, back and forth, both of them laughing.
And suddenly Legolas could see himself sitting on the seat, with Eowyn straddling him, her head thrown back, her hair unbound, and each sweep of the swing driving them both closer to completion…
"I am sorry, my lady," he said, hastily. "I must go now and prepare for the ceremony."
"Yes. Yes, of course." She climbed down from the swing. "Thank you. And thank you again for showing me the sea."
He took her hand on top of his, elven fashion, and led her downwards—this time using a much broader staircase-back to the main walkway.
"Goodness," she said, "do you ever get lost?"
"Not often, my lady."
She gave him a most unladylike grin. "Good bye, my lord. And—and good luck, for this evening."
He placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head; then he watched as she walked gracefully across the walkway to the large open windows of her guest chamber. He watched until she had disappeared inside and closed the windows behind her. And still he watched.
And, unknown to him, two dark haired elves and a beautiful, dark-haired elleth watched him watching.
The Chief Counsellor of Eryn Carantaur looked up from the papers on his desk. At the sight of his visitor his heart sank, but it was his job to soothe and flatter the egos of the colony's more powerful citizens, and Chief Counsellor Caranthir took his duties seriously. This citizen needed more flattery than most.
"Master Angaráto," he said, "please take a seat. What can I do for you?"
Angaráto bowed courteously, but remained standing, his hands grasping the back of the proffered chair. "As you know, my lord Caranthir, my daughter and I are attending the harvest rite tonight."
Caranthir nodded. A dozen eligible ellyth, all unmarried, had been chosen to attend the festival. Caranthir had overseen their selection personally.
"Before I settled in Eryn Carantaur," continued Angaráto, "I farmed a large estate in The Brown Lands, on the borders of what was then called Mirkwood."
Caranthir nodded. Though 'farming' was, he thought, something of a euphemism for what Angaráto had been doing in The Brown Lands.
"I had—and still have—considerable influence amongst the men of The Brown Lands and The Wold…"
, thought Caranthir. It is common knowledge that King Thranduil tried and failed to bring you under control
. It was said that Angaráto had ruled the human settlements surrounding his estate like a warlord.
"And I have trading links with human settlements as far north as Bree and as far South as Near Harad."
And it is rumoured
, thought Caranthir, that you have supplied elven weapons to Near Harad
. He was finding it hard to see where this conversation was going, but then Angaráto came suddenly to the point and Caranthir was taken completely by surprise.
"It is widely agreed," he said, "that the harvest rite is the perfect opportunity for an elven lord to choose a wife. I would think-speaking hypothetically—that if an elf of influence, someone with the ear of his lord, were to recommend a particular elleth-simply on the grounds of her beauty and her spotless character, you understand-and if his recommendation were to-bear fruit, then-again hypothetically-I would think that that elf could expect a considerable reward. From his lord-and, perhaps, also from his lord's grateful subjects."
Caranthir suppressed a shudder. Angaráto was truly an elf of the fourth age, ambitious and ruthless and without honour. More like a man than an elf. Except that all the men Caranthir had ever met—King Elessar, Prince Faramir, and Eomer King—were people of exceptional honour.
Valar help me
, he thought, how do I deal with this?
"Master Angaráto," he said, tactfully, "have you attended a harvest rite before? No? Then let me describe it to you, so that you will enjoy it all the more. At the appropriate time, Lord Legolas, guided by the Valar themselves, will make his choice. How the Valar show their preference is a mystery known only to the initiated, that is, to the Mistress of the Ceremony and to the celebrant himself. But you may rest assured that Lord Legolas has been well prepared and can be relied upon to perform the rite correctly and with all due piety.
"Now, if you will excuse me, Angaráto, I still have much to do."
Since the Mistress of the Ceremony would be leaving once the harvest rite was over, Legolas had asked her to reveal the mysteries of the rite to a lady of Eryn Carantaur who would then become the colony's own officiant. The lady he had asked to take on the role was Lessien, a well-liked, unmarried elleth of a good Lorien family who had joined the colony when her parents had departed for the Grey Havens.
"I am not yet ready to leave Middle Earth," she had told Legolas when she arrived. "I do not yet hear the sea's call. There is still so much to be done here, and I feel that I can make a contribution to your colony, if you will permit me."
And Legolas had been impressed by both her sense of duty and her quiet dignity. "I would be honoured if you would join us, my lady," he had replied.
But to say that Lessien did not see eye to eye with her teacher would be an understatement. Though modest, Lessien had an intelligent, analytical mind. She accepted nothing at face value, and would continually ask questions. "But why must the lord do that?" she would ask. The Mistress of the Ceremony's standard answers, "Because that is how it is always done" and "Because I say so" had several times driven her close to the point of ending her noviciate.
Today, the Mistress of the Ceremony had arrived, unannounced as usual, to teach her 'how to prepare the celebrant immediately before the ceremony'. Lessien watched as she pulled a strange wooden object from the bag she was carrying and placed it on the table. It was so bizarre that it took Lessien a moment to accept that she had really seen it correctly. She watched as the Mistress of the Ceremony poured a small amount of oil into her hands, rubbed them together, then proceeded to demonstrate the technique, clasping her hands around the wooden phallus, drawing them up its length, swirling them around its head, then pushing them down again. Then she showed Lessien how to detect and prevent the climax.
"You intend to do this to Lord Legolas?" asked Lessien, incredulously.
"The celebrant has already been prepared today," said the Mistress of the Ceremony, brusquely. "Now, please show me that you understand this technique."
"No, my lady," said Lessien.
"You are wasting my time-"
"This is going too far," said Lessien. "The rite itself is a beautiful celebration of life and a sacrifice to the Valar. But this—this is perverse." Lessien found she could not imagine performing this 'technique' on Legolas without having certain lascivious thoughts that, she was sure, were quite inappropriate to the rite. Sacrilegious, in fact.
"You will practice this technique and you will do it now," said the Mistress of the Ceremony, icily.
"No, my lady, Lord Legolas has been celibate for three months, and for him to have had to endure this
, and at the hands of an elleth not of his choosing…" She shook her head. "I did not agree to become Mistress of the Ceremony in order to torture the celebrant."
The Mistress of the Ceremony drew herself up with dignity. "You," she hissed, "will never
be Mistress of the Ceremony. Not while there is a breath left in my body. And I will tell Lord Legolas, and his father
, that you are a wilful, disobedient, conceited elleth who thinks she knows better than her teacher, even though her teacher was officiating at this rite long before she was born. You are a disgrace to your family."
Lessien rose, walked stiffly to the door and held it open. "Please leave now, madam," she said.
, she thought, as she watched the Mistress of the Ceremony hurrying angrily down the walkway, I have just made myself a most influential enemy
. And she closed the door.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.