Eowyn awoke to feel Legolas' lips pressed gently against her temple. "Good morning, melmenya," he said softly, pulling her closer, "are you hungry? I am famished—I could eat nothing last night."
Eowyn smiled happily. She was going to spend the rest of her life with this man-this elf
. "Good morning, my love," she replied, "let us find you something to eat, then." And she threw back the blanket and bounded to her feet, holding out her hands to him.
Legolas smiled ruefully. "Why do I have the feeling that I have met my match in you, melmenya?"
He rose—very gracefully, Eowyn thought, for someone who was completely naked and so uncharacteristically dishevelled—and took her hand and together they looked around the banqueting hall. The remains of the banquet had been cleared away but some of last night's guests remained, sleeping in various groups around the hall.
Eowyn examined a pile of bodies lying beside the table—she recognised Elrohir and Elladan, and one of the disappointed ellyth, but—who was that, naked, beside them, lying on his stomach? Ah, Prince Imrahil
She turned happily to Legolas and pointed at the prince: "That," she said, softly, "but for you, and the grace of the gods, would be me." She was surprised to see Legolas look away, clearly uncomfortable. She caught his hand and gave him a questioning look, but he simply pulled her to the table, where breakfast had already been laid out—fresh bread rolls, jam, honey, fruit, and jugs of water. The water, Eowyn noticed, bubbled and foamed as she poured it into a glass.
Seeing her surprise, Legolas recovered his good mood. "It comes from a spring in the hills just outside Doro Lanthron. Gimli tells me that that the bubbles are made by 'good stone' dissolving into rainwater. The local people seal it in jars to stop the bubbles escaping, then sell at the market here in Eryn Carantaur. It is very popular as an alternative to wine."
"Is it safe?" asked Eowyn.
"Yes," he replied, "in fact, my healer tells me its effects are beneficial."
She tasted it; it felt sharp and refreshing on her tongue. "Your people should take it to Caras Arnen and Minas Tirith. And to Edoras," she said. "I am sure it would be very popular there, too, especially with the ladies."
"You can suggest it at the next meeting of the Council," he said, "to our
people, meleth nín. Come, sit."
Legolas pulled out a chair and Eowyn heard his breath catch. She stepped forward and peered under the table. Sleeping there, clearly hoping for some privacy, lay a semi-clothed King of Gondor, his wife, and another of the eligible ellyth. Eowyn and Legolas smiled at each other, conspiratorially.
"Perhaps," Eowyn said, "we should take our breakfast elsewhere."
Legolas nodded in agreement. "Where would you like to go, meleth nín?" he asked. "To my chambers?"
"What I would dearly like," said Eowyn, "is to bathe."
Legolas kissed her forehead. "I thought humans were afraid of soap and water."
Eowyn laughed, "Only the men!"
"Let us go to my chambers then; we can bathe, and eat breakfast in my garden." Legolas picked up the robe he had been wearing the night before and helped her into it, carefully tying the sash around her waist. He himself seemed quite happy to remain naked. Elves!
she thought. She fingered the robe. But this was very considerate of him
They filled a plate with bread, honey and fruit, and Eowyn poured two glasses of the bubbling water, and together they escaped from the banqueting hall like two naughty children.
"And I am telling you," said Lenwë, Treasurer of Eryn Carantaur, trying vainly to keep the wail out of his voice, "that we must not tell him. If Lord Legolas were to know about this terrible tragedy, how could he possibly complete the harvest rite? So much depends on his ability to—to perform it successfully. And if he cannot, what future will our colony have?"
"And exactly how do you propose to keep it from him?" asked Chief Counsellor Caranthir. "She was central to the rite. Without her it will be impossible to continue. Whoever did this might as well have killed Lord Legolas' lady herself."
But Lord Fingolfin held up his hand. "We have no choice, my friends. We must tell him, for he must reassure his guests and he must discover and punish whoever is responsible for this deed. And as for the rite, I believe there is another who has been trained to take the elleth's role—no, Lenwë, I will hear no further protests. I will go now and tell Lord Legolas myself."
"What worries me," said Caranthir, "is can the rite still be valid? The murder was surely a sacrilege—"
Fingolfin sighed. "If the Valar would truly condemn an entire colony for the wickedness of one elf, mellon nín, then I fear the damage is already done."
"Melmenya!" Legolas pretended to be angry. He caught her arms, pinning them to her sides, and pulled her forward so that she was lying between his legs, holding her in place with his thighs. His very muscular thighs
, thought Eowyn. She leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed contentedly. She could feel him hardening against her belly.
"Are all elves completely insatiable?" she asked.
Still holding her firmly, Legolas burrowed into the crook of her neck and bit her. Eowyn yelped and they both laughed. Then, with hands and mouths, they started to explore each other's bodies.
"Oh, my lord," she whispered, "make love to me."
He turned them both over and, supporting her head and shoulders above the water, gently entered her body and began to thrust—
They were immediately interrupted by an urgent knocking on the bathing room door.
"Please return later!" shouted Legolas.
"I apologise, Lord Legolas," said the muffled voice, "but this is an urgent matter."
Legolas looked questioningly at Eowyn; she nodded and, with a frustrated sigh, he gently withdrew.
"One moment!" he called to the elf outside the door. He rested his forehead on Eowyn's shoulder, breathing raggedly, until he had regained control of his body. At length, he said, "Stay here, melmenya, where he cannot see you." Then he climbed out of the bath, hastily put on his robe, and virtually stamped to the door.
That is not like him
, Eowyn thought. Instinctively, she put on another of his robes and joined him.
"This had better be a matter of life or death," said Legolas sharply.
The elf at the door was tall and distinguished and reminded Eowyn of Lord Elrond. He has never seen Legolas angry before
, she thought.
"My lord, I—oh, and my lady," he added. Legolas glanced back, surprised to find Eowyn standing behind him.
"I have bad news, my lord, which I believe you should hear. This morning one of the serving ellyth found the Mistress of the Ceremony." The elf hesitated. The news was clearly very bad and, unseen by the Counsellor, Eowyn took Legolas' hand, supportively. He gently squeezed her fingers in response.
"And, my lord Fingolfin?" Legolas prompted.
"She is dead, Lord Legolas. She has been strangled."
Haldir, formerly March Warden of Lorien, now March Warden of Eryn Carantaur, was rapidly reaching breaking point.
At Legolas' insistence, the emergency meeting of the colony's Inner Council and its heads of the border and household guards had been joined by the woman, Eowyn—Haldir nodded a brief greeting—and the nogoth, Gimli. And, thanks mainly to the latter's enthusiastic support of his friend, the meeting was proving even louder and more pointless than usual.
Chief Counsellor Caranthir was advising Legolas to cancel the rite and send his guests home. "We cannot guarantee their safety, my lord. Suppose the killer were to attack King Elessar—or Queen Arwen." He shuddered at the thought. "My lord, we could even find ourselves at war with Gondor."
The Treasurer—that cringing fool Lenwë—wanted Legolas to continue as if nothing had happened, and kept whimpering "But this colony cannot survive without the blessing of the Valar, my lord!" whenever he thought Legolas might hear him.
The so-called Captain of the Palace Guard, Golradir, was merely concerned to cover his own back, bristling at anyone he thought might be questioning his competence.
Haldir sighed: he would have followed Legolas-the-warrior into the fires of Mount Doom itself, but watching Legolas-the-diplomatic-ruler in action drove him to the brink of mutiny. Just give them orders!
he almost screamed.
But Legolas was being supremely patient whilst firmly insisting that steps must be taken to find the murderer immediately. "This sort of thing cannot be kept secret. And we do not," he said, "know what the killer's motives are. We do not know whether he intends to kill again or, if so, who his next victim might be." He placed his hand on Eowyn's. "If he intends to disrupt the rite, then all the participants are at risk. Our only option is to track him down as quickly as possible, stop him, and make him answer for his crime."
That resolution brought a chorus of protest from Caranthir and Lenwë, but Counsellor Fingolfin—The only one of the counsellors worth a fig
, thought Haldir—nodded in agreement. And the dwarf pounded the table—presumably
Haldir had had enough. "But we elves
have no experience of these matters," he said. "How do we find a murderer? I
do not know where to start."
"I do," said a firm, quiet voice, taking everyone by surprise.
Haldir turned to face the woman who had, until now, been sitting silently beside Legolas. "I have observed several investigations of this sort," continued Eowyn, "and they all follow a similar pattern." She counted each step on her fingers. "First, you must seal the borders of Eryn Carantaur and ensure that no one leaves until you have had a chance to question them. Secondly, you must examine the place where the body was found, looking for anything that might identify the murderer—"
"Do you think me a fool, lady?" asked Golradir angrily. "I have thoroughly searched that part of the hall, myself. The murderer left nothing—"
"I am not making any accusations, Captain, for I am not referring to a cloak or a dropped glove," said Eowyn, firmly. "I am talking about small traces that might easily be overlooked—a few hairs, perhaps, or a shred of cloth. Something that might nevertheless provide you with a clue to the murderer's identity."
Legolas, Haldir noticed, was gazing at the woman with even deeper adoration. And the dwarf's expression was much the same.
"Thirdly," continued Eowyn, "you need to establish exactly where the murder took place—whether the Lady was killed where she was found or whether her body was moved there afterwards—"
"Why?" asked Haldir. And realised, too late, that he, too, was taking the woman seriously.
"Because, March Warden, it will help you eliminate suspects—I will explain that in a moment." She is every inch a Princess
, Haldir thought, and would be a fitting consort for an elf, were she not mortal
"The body was moved by the guards—" Eowyn continued.
"That could hardly be avoided, lady," said Golradir, "the guests were beginning to waken."
"Yes, I understand that, Captain," she answered. "But evidence may have disappeared when the body was moved, so you need to talk to the girl who found it and to the guards who moved it, and see what they remember. Fourthly, your healer must examine the body thoroughly—"
"Why? Why must we violate her still further?" cried Lenwë, "surely it is time to leave the poor, unfortunate elleth in peace and…" He was silenced by a look from Legolas.
"Because, my lord Lenwë," answered Eowyn, gently, "we owe it to the lady herself to find out who did this terrible thing to her. If possible, you must know the time of her death. Also, whether the murderer left anything incriminating on her body—again, you are looking for hair, or shreds of clothing, torn away when the lady struggled. It would also be useful to know how tall the killer was, how strong, and which hand he favoured—all these things a healer can often tell from the wound. And you need to know whether he
could possibly have been... a she
The Counsellors stared at her in horror; even Gimli looked surprised.
Eowyn held up her hand. "I mention it only as a possibility," she said. "If the answer is no, then that reduces your number of suspects. Lastly—" she hesitated, for just a moment, "lastly, it will be necessary to question all your guests—"
There was pandaemonium. Legolas called everyone to order.
"You must question all the guests as soon as possible and make written records of their statements. If you can establish where the Lady was killed and when, and you use the statements to work out where each guest was when she died, you can eliminate all those who can prove they were elsewhere at the time, and that should help you identify the killer."
"How can we possibly ask our guests what they were doing last night, of all nights, my lady?" asked Caranthir.
"True," said Legolas, " it will not be pleasant, my lord, to ask our guests about their private—er—affairs. But they will understand that our search for the killer must come first."
"That is why I think Lord Legolas should personally oversee the investigation," said Eowyn. "He is above suspicion. And people will be more co-operative when approached by the lord of the colony."
The counsellors nodded reluctantly in agreement.
"Very well," said Legolas. "There is much to do. Haldir, I presume that your guards will have records of any guests that have left the colony since last night?" Haldir nodded. "Good. Have anyone that has left brought back to Eryn Carantaur; and seal the border until further notice."
"Golradir, have your men close the banqueting hall immediately and stand guard; no one is to enter until we have examined the area. If we can finish that before three o'clock, there will still be time to prepare for the banquet tonight. Have the girl—Míriel?—and the guards sent to my chambers in half an hour. We will talk to them first."
"Yes, my lord."
"Lord Caranthir, is everything prepared for the rite this evening?"
"Lady Eowyn must be fitted for her gown, my lord. And you will need to find a Mistress of the Ceremony," replied the Chief Counsellor.
"Lady Lessien has been tutored in that role, my lord. Please explain the situation to her and ask her to prepare herself to officiate tonight."
Caranthir nodded gravely.
"Where is the body?"
"She lies in her own chamber, my lord," said Golradir.
"Lord Fingolfin," said Legolas, "who amongst our healers do you think would be best equipped to examine the body?"
Fingolfin thought for a moment. "Master Dínendal, my lord. He is young and has a practical nature, and will, perhaps, be more willing to take part in something of this sort than any of the others."
"And he has already examined the body, my lord," added Golradir.
"Good. That should help us," said Legolas. "Lord Fingolfin, please ask Master Dínendal to meet me in the lady's chambers in two hours. And please feel free to join us yourself, my lord. You too, Lord Caranthir." He smiled at the Treasurer. "I will spare you that burden, Lord Lenwë."
, thought Haldir, that ability to grasp the situation and be decisive, whilst he charms the birds down from the trees,
that is what makes him a king, even though he refuses the title
Legolas inclined his head to indicate that the meeting was over.
"Thank you Gimli," said Legolas. "I am so sorry to have dragged you into this, but I do appreciate your support, elvellon."
"Well," said Gimli, "someone has to keep you elves in order." He winked at Eowyn.
"Will you help us with the investigation?"
"My sharp dwarven mind—like my axe—is at your service," said Gimli. "But I should point out that I am as much a suspect as anyone else. I left the banqueting hall before the rite began. I had intended to return once, er—" Gimli blushed, "once things
were over, but—well, I was, er—" Gimli came to a painful decision. "The truth is, I fell asleep and did not wake until you sent for me this morning."
The two friends laughed despite the grim situation.
"So, you see, there is no proof that I did not kill the lady myself," continued Gimli. "And though I will give you all the support I can, lad, I am not sure that your people would be happy for me to take part in the investigation."
Legolas sighed. "Ai, Gimli, how could anyone accuse you of such a thing? What reason could you possibly have?"
"Gimli?" Eowyn interrupted, suddenly. "When you awoke, had the fire in your chambers been tended? Was there hot water in your bathing room?"
Gimli looked surprised, "Yes."
"Then the servants responsible must have seen you asleep in bed. If the healer can determine when the lady died, it may be possible to clear you of any suspicion. And I think we can also clear Aragorn and Arwen, and Prince Imrahil and the twins," she looked at Legolas, "and their elleth companions."
"Aragorn!" said Legolas. "I must tell him what has happened and explain why I have decided not involve him in the investigation yet. Gimli, are you happy to remain in the background for the time being, elvellon?" Gimli nodded. "Thank you. But at least meet us in my chambers this afternoon. Who knows, by then, we may have proved your innocence."
He briefly clasped Gimli's hand, then turned to Eowyn. "Come melmenya," he said, "let us go and talk to Aragorn."
Swinging himself up into the saddle, Haldir caught sight of Legolas and Eowyn walking towards the guest quarters.
Though he could not begrudge Legolas his obvious happiness, Haldir was finding it painful to watch his lord court the mortal woman.
She had found him, barely breathing, on the ramparts of Helm's Deep, had single handedly dragged him out from under a filthy orc, and had stubbornly insisted that the healers continue treating him, even after they had said there was no hope.
And he had woken from the darkness to find her sitting beside him.
But I was a coward
, thought Haldir, and that is another story
He spurred his horse and set off for the nearest border post. He had a lot of ground to cover in the next few hours.
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.