Caranthir had identified forty guests whose innocence had not already been established. He reasoned that at thirty minutes per interview—A very optimistic estimate
, he thought—it would take each of the interviewers more than seven hours to talk to the whole list. He had therefore sorted the names in order of priority, placing the least likely suspects at the bottom of the list.
To the very bottom went Lord Gimli's three dwarven companions. Since he had come to know Gimli, Caranthir had lost all mistrust of dwarves and he could see no reason for these three to have killed the Mistress of the Ceremony. The rite means nothing to them
, he thought, and this is an elf's crime
Also to the bottom went the sword smith, Tathar, the healer, Findecáno, and their families. These were people of unimpeachable character who, moreover, lived in the city and could easily be interviewed at a later date. For the same reasons, Caranthir eliminated all the courtiers who had attended the ceremony.
But that still left over twenty people to be interviewed individually, all of them either ellyth—Whom I myself chose to take part in the ceremony
, he thought, his blood running cold—or their families. Which does make sense
, he thought, because they had the most to gain from the ceremony.
And that brings me back to Angaráto…
He arranged the remaining names in order of urgency, placing those who would be leaving the city tomorrow nearest the top.
And at the very top, he placed Angaráto and his daughter, Alatáriël.
Fingolfin and Caranthir had insisted that Aragorn take Legolas' place at the head of the Council table and chair the proceedings. Aragorn looked round the table. Gimli sat beside him, strong and dependable; Fingolfin and Haldir sat to his left; Caranthir and that hot-headed Captain of the Guard—Why in all of Middle Earth did Legolas appoint him?
—sat to his right. He felt slightly uncomfortable taking precedence over the old, distinguished elves, but three years of kingship had taught him how to act the part of a monarch.
"Well, my lords," said Aragorn, "Lord Caranthir has drawn up a list of guests to be questioned." He indicated the parchment in front of him. "And I suggest that we divide them equally amongst us." The elves murmured their agreement.
"Lady Eowyn has made some suggestions about how we should proceed, which I believe you have all read. She suggests that we should interview people one at a time, to ensure that they give us independent testimony, and that we ask each person who else they saw, when and where. Lady Eowyn believes that, whilst they may lie about their own whereabouts, if two, or more, of them agree about someone else's whereabouts, we can probably assume that they are telling the truth."
"I think we all agree that is a wise approach, your Majesty," said Fingolfin. The elves nodded.
"She also asks us to make a written record of each interview and ask the witness to sign it," continued Aragorn, "and I think that is a sensible idea. The Gondorian Guard do something similar. I am not sure what she means about drawing a plan of the banqueting hall, so I suggest we leave that to her."
The elves agreed.
"How is Lady Eowyn, your Majesty?" asked Caranthir, with genuine concern.
Aragorn looked at the Chief Counsellor. They have already accepted her as their Queen
, he thought. "She is tired, my lord," he said, "but I believe she will recover with no ill effects."
Caranthir's relief was evident.
"Now," said Aragorn, "before we begin the interviews, I think it would be useful if you can tell me what information you already have. Obviously, Gimli and I have not been involved in your investigations so far."
Lord Fingolfin described what Legolas and Eowyn had uncovered: that the elleth had been killed just before dawn, that she had been strangled using a boot lace, that there had also been some sort of struggle involving a candlestick, possibly after the elleth was dead. And that the culprit had later searched his victim's chambers.
Caranthir talked about his visit from Angaráto and the elf's attempts to bribe him. "He wanted me to persuade Lord Legolas to choose his daughter for the harvest rite, your Majesty," he explained.
Haldir described what he had seen of Eowyn's attacker. "He was wearing a long cloak with the hood raised and I could not see his face. But he was definitely an elf, your Majesty, average height, slightly heavy build, but fast—he was over the wall and away before I realised what he was doing. And he used another bootlace. He—he tied it around Lady Eowyn's neck…" Haldir's voice faltered and Aragorn saw Gimli look up in surprise. Yes
, he thought, the haughty March Warden has lost his heart
Then Golradir reported Maranwë's disappearance. "She must have disappeared at about the same time that the Mistress of the Ceremony was killed," he said, repeating Eö's words exactly, "and the route from her rooms to the kitchens would have taken her past the banqueting hall. I have assigned two of the palace guards to search for her, your Majesty."
"Let us hope they find her alive," said Aragorn, gravely. The elves agreed, and Gimli gripped the haft of his axe at the thought of any harm coming to a young elleth.
"My lords, Haldir, Captain Golradir," said Aragorn, "do any of you have any idea who may have been responsible?"
"No," said Fingolfin. Haldir and Golradir both shook their heads.
Caranthir sighed. "My—for want of a better word—my intuition tells me it was Angaráto, your Majesty. But for no other reason than that I do not like the elf."
Aragorn and Gimli spent almost five hours interviewing the elves on their list.
Their fourth interview was with a pleasant wood elf called Arafinwë. He had travelled to Eryn Carantaur from the rural settlement at Doro Lanthron with his wife and daughter, who had been selected to take part in the ceremony.
"Lord Legolas did not choose my daughter, your Majesty, but, in truth, I think she preferred one of his friends," he smiled at Gimli, who blushed beneath his beard. Aragorn tried hard to put Gimli's love life out of his mind.
"We have all had a wonderful time," Arafinwë continued. Then he remembered himself. "Though, of course," he said, "we are sorry that the elleth was killed."
Aragorn nodded. She is not mourned
, he thought.
He asked Arafinwë whom he had seen at the banquet, and during the festivities afterwards. But apart from Aragorn himself, Arwen, Legolas and Gimli, and, of course, Eowyn—"The most beautiful lady I have ever seen,"—and the elf sitting beside him, whose name he could not remember, Arafinwë had noticed no one.
It was not until Aragorn thought to ask him whether he had known any of the other guests before meeting them at the banquet that Arafinwë suddenly said something startling: "Only Master Angaráto, your Majesty, for he protects us."
"Yes, your Majesty. He keeps the orcs away from our settlement."
Gimli and Aragorn exchanged glances.
"Do you pay for his services?" Aragorn asked tactfully.
"Well, yes, your Majesty. And at first I refused. But then we were attacked and—well, I would pay anything to prevent that happening again."
"Why have you not told Lord Legolas about this?" asked Gimli.
"Master Angaráto said it was not necessary to trouble him with it, Lord Gimli…" his voice trailed off.
Aragorn had the distinct impression that Arafinwë had been threatened.
Gimli made a careful note of Arafinwë's evidence and asked him to sign the statement. Then Aragorn thanked him for his time and asked him to send in his wife.
"I wonder," said Gimli, "if Angaráto had a hand in that orc attack?"
"I was wondering exactly the same thing myself, Gimli," said Aragorn. Then he added, "So now we know that Angaráto is a thoroughly bad elf, but we still have no proof that he is the murderer."
Arafinwë's wife, Amarië, was a beautiful, lively elleth, whose recollections were as precise as her husband's were vague. This was the first time she had been to a function at court and she had missed nothing. Over the course of the evening she had watched all the other guests with keen interest—though, Aragorn noticed, no malice—and could tell them exactly who had been where, and with whom, throughout the night and into the small hours of the morning. She had retired to bed, with her husband and daughter, at about four.
Gimli carefully transcribed every detail of her testimony onto parchment, then read it back to her, corrected some points, and asked her to sign it.
The couple's daughter, Eámanë, beamed affectionately at Gimli throughout the entire interview, but she also confirmed much of her mother's testimony.
"That is our list completed," said Aragorn, "and it is almost two. Let us return to Legolas' garden and let him know what we have found."
Eowyn awoke feeling strangely elated, her body tingling. Legolas was sitting beside her, holding her hand, but his back was against the carantaur trunk and his eyes were fixed on the sky. Eowyn took the opportunity to admire him unnoticed: his blond hair, falling loose about his face, his well-muscled chest and arms, and his long legs in those Gondorian riding breeches. His feet were bare.
Eowyn slipped her hand out of his, took up the wax tablet, wrote a few words, and handed it to him. Then she slid her hand up his thigh… Startled, Legolas looked up from the tablet. Then, slowly and deliberately, he rubbed the words out with his thumb. She had written, You look nice in leather breeches
He bent over and kissed her mouth.
Eowyn took the opportunity to slip her hand between his legs.
"Gods, Eowyn!" Legolas gasped.
Eowyn straddled him. Slowly, she brushed her fingers up the front of his breeches, feeling his hard, thick penis straining beneath the leather. Then she grasped the ends of his laces and pulled. The knot came undone and she unlaced him, teasing him with the tiniest touches as her fingers worked back and forth. By the time he was free, Legolas' whole body was trembling.
Eowyn ran her hands slowly and firmly up the insides of his leather-clad thighs, then she leant forward, and took the head of his penis in her mouth, whilst her hands massaged its shaft.
"Ahhhhh, melmenya…" Legolas gasped, hoarsely, gently pushing her away. "I want to be inside you."
But it was already too late—his body suddenly arched like a drawn bow, and Eowyn, still holding him, watched as a stream of warm, pearly seed shot onto her belly, once, twice, three times, then his whole body suffered one last, intense convulsion, and he sobbed as he emptied himself between her breasts.
That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen
, she thought. She caressed Legolas' penis and testicles.
"Agh!" he yelped.
"Did I hurt you?" she asked anxiously, her voice little more than a croak.
He gathered her into his arms. "It is very sensitive, meleth nín—immediately afterwards," he explained.
"I am sorry." Her voice was now a plaintive little squawk.
He kissed her tenderly. "Shhhhh. Give me one moment, melmenya," he said, taking her hand and rubbing her fingers. "And then," he smiled, wickedly, "I will make sure that you are sorry—very sorry—I will make you beg for mercy. And I will not stop until you have been severely punished." He placed her hand on his now fully recovered penis, and pressed his lips to her ear. "I will not stop punishing you, meleth nín, no matter how hard you beg."
It had been agreed that Lord Caranthir should not interview Angaráto, since he could not be impartial. The task therefore fell to Lord Fingolfin, and this had the benefit of giving Haldir the chance to take a good look at Angaráto and see whether he resembled Eowyn's attacker.
Angaráto's testimony was unenlightening. He had noticed nothing, spoken to no one, and had retired to bed early. Haldir made a note in the margin: Check with servants
. He read the sparse testimony back to the elf and asked him to sign it.
Then, as Angaráto rose to leave, Lord Fingolfin said, "That is a very beautiful jerkin Master Angaráto. I have never seen anything like it."
Haldir stared at the older elf as if he had lost his mind. Angaráto nodded but said nothing.
"The workmanship is exceptionally fine," Fingolfin continued, "human, if I am not mistaken."
"It is a traditional riding jerkin from the foothills of the Misty Mountains," said Angaráto reluctantly. "The men make them from the hides of their favourite horses. As a kind of memorial."
"They apply some sort of treatment to the leather?"
"Fish oil," said Angaráto warily. "They import it specially. It makes the leather completely waterproof."
"But it is quite pungent," said Fingolfin. "And the lacings, I see, are decorated with metal fobs," he lifted one to look at it more closely. "Curious…" Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Haldir's hand close around the hilt of his sword and he shot him a warning look. Haldir released his sword, but his eyes remained wild with anger.
Angaráto bowed stiffly. "If that is all, Lord Fingolfin?"
Fingolfin nodded and Angaráto left.
"That orc!" exploded Haldir, "that filthy orc, that—that i>Bal/i>rog—"
"Hush, March Warden," said Fingolfin, "we are about to see his daughter. We will discuss this later."
Alatáriël was even less helpful than her father had been. She sat sullenly throughout the entire interview, answering Fingolfin's questions with monosyllables and then, when he finally gave her permission to leave, she walked from the room without a further word.
"That," said Fingolfin, "is a very disturbed young elleth."
"Why did you not allow me to take him prisoner, my lord?" asked Haldir. "The laces, the smell of his jerkin—even his build condemns him."
"It is not sufficient, March Warden, said Fingolfin, "we need more conclusive evidence."
"Evidence! That warg's member attacked Eowyn and would have killed her had I not happened to disturb him. And he could attack her again, yet we let him go free. Perhaps you would like me to hold her down while he finishes the job—
"March Warden!" cried Fingolfin, "I will overlook your hasty words because I know that you are not yourself where Lady Eowyn is concerned." Haldir gave him a withering look. "But let me remind you that we still have three more guests to interview, and the sooner we do so the sooner we can report back to the others. In the meantime, I think we can trust Lord Legolas to take care of his lady."
Eowyn lay in Legolas' arms, contented as a cat. She smiled. He had indeed made her beg—squeakily—but the word 'stop' had never passed her lips. Gods
, she thought, elves do have stamina. At least, this elf does.
What time is it?
she wondered, with a start. What time did Fingolfin say they would be back?
It was one thing to perform the harvest rite before an audience—she was beginning to find that quite exciting—but it was another thing altogether to have their friends intrude on their private moments.
"Legolas?" she said, as softly as her cracked voice would allow.
Legolas sighed sleepily. "I am sorry meleth nín, I do not think I can…"
Eowyn managed a small laugh. "You had better be recovered by tonight!" she said.
"Of course, melmenya." Then he added, with a touch of pride, "I am an elf."
She hugged him tightly. "An elf that needs to bathe and dress before his friends and counsellors arrive." she croaked.
"Orc's breath," said Legolas, "I had forgotten, meleth nín."
She helped him to his feet and together they went downstairs to the bathing room, Eowyn taking her wax tablet with her. Whilst Legolas organised the hot water, Eowyn wrote a series of instructions for Míriel.
Please arrange food for our guests—eight people, including King Elessar and Lord Gimli
Míriel made some helpful suggestions—it seemed that Legolas was not the only elf that loved lavender cakes and that the dwarf was particularly partial to a delicacy called 'honey buns'.
Have the food laid out on the table in the garden—we will need three more chairs
"Yes, my lady."
Then please go to my chambers in the guest quarters and bring my white gown. It is in the chest at the end of the bed
"Very well, my lady."
Eowyn wrote one final instruction.
Eowyn nodded emphatically.
"Are you quite sure, my Lady? Lord Legolas may not like—"
But she stopped when she saw the determination on Eowyn's face.
"Very well, my lady," she said. And she set off on her errands.
Master Gelmir, his wife, Orelindë, and his daughter, Eldarwen, were Caranthir's last three interviewees.
So far, the Chief Counsellor had learned very little, and had been aided not one whit by Captain Golradir. He had high hopes of Master Gelmir, though. The elf was the colony's astronomer and it was his job to observe.
He did not disappoint.
"I am so glad to have this opportunity to talk to you, my lord," said Gelmir, "because the more we think about it, the more my wife and I both believe that we may have seen something important the morning the elleth was killed.
"At the time I was not sure, but now…"
"Please explain, Master Gelmir," prompted Caranthir, gently.
"I am sorry, my lord, it is just that I feel—foolish. And if anything has happened to the elleth…" Gelmir collected himself. "We—my wife and I—fell asleep just outside the main entrance to the banqueting hall some time during the night. We both woke shortly after dawn, because the serving ellyth had begun to clear the table. They were being very quiet, my lord, but my wife is a light sleeper.
"I noticed a couple lying in the doorway and, at first, I thought it was another pair of lovers who had fallen asleep. But then the elf suddenly stood up, picked up the elleth, and hurried away."
"What made you suspicious, Master Gelmir?" asked Caranthir.
"There were two things, my lord. First the elleth had no—life in her. And secondly, there was something about the way he just threw her over his shoulder, with no regard for her. It was as if she was," he hesitated, "dead."
"Why did you not report this before?" asked Golradir. His first question of the day
, thought Caranthir.
"Because I thought they might be—er—playing rough," Gelmir said.
. "Can you describe the elleth, Master Gelmir?" asked Caranthir.
"I did not see her well," said Gelmir, "but she was dressed very plainly—like a servant, my lord."
The wife confirmed her husband's story, adding that she had, in fact, been woken by a loud noise—"Like chairs falling over,"—shortly before her husband awoke.
The daughter, whom Caranthir remembered having seen with Lord Fingolfin the previous night, had nothing more to add. She had gone to bed early—No doubt disappointed not to have been chosen by Lord Legolas
, thought Caranthir. Still, she has recovered quite quickly
Relieved that the interviews were over, Caranthir carefully gathered up his sheaf of signed statements and his own pages of notes. "Let us return to Lord Legolas' garden," he said to Golradir, "and see what the others have found out."
Eowyn walked into Legolas' bedchamber, lacing up her white gown.
Legolas was standing before the full-length mirror wearing pale grey leggings and black boots and holding a tunic of fine black velvet against his chest. Eowyn smiled. She loved him dearly, but she was more used to men who would happily wear the same linen all year round if their servants did not take the trouble to lay out fresh each day.
And even then…
"I prefer the other one," she croaked, pointing to an exquisite tunic of pearly grey silk, embroidered with a darker grey blackberry pattern, lying on the bed.
Legolas turned, and thanked her with a dazzling smile.
But I could easily get used to helping him choose his clothes
, she thought.
"You were wearing that gown the first time I saw you, meleth nín," said Legolas, fastening his tunic, "but your feet were not bare—"
"No?" she asked, concentrating on tying her laces.
"No," he said, suddenly quite close, "you were wearing little black boots."
And he grabbed her and nipped her neck and Eowyn laughed—or, rather, squawked—and squirmed in his arms.
"You are an elf with very strange tastes," she croaked. "Stop it! You need to rest or you will disgrace
Legolas laughed too, burying his face in her shoulder.
The main door to their chambers opened and closed and Eowyn stiffened in his arms.
"What is it, melmenya?" he asked, concerned.
"My sword," she said.
He released her and she ran into the sitting room. "Thank you, Míriel," she croaked; and she took the sword belt and fastened it around her hips.
Míriel looked anxiously at Legolas.
But Legolas was smiling.
By two o'clock, everyone had assembled in Legolas' private garden.
Legolas welcomed them and seated them at the table, suggesting that they should eat whilst they discussed their findings.
Aragorn explained that they had followed Eowyn's suggestions. "Gimli and I have gathered a great deal of information about the whereabouts of the guests throughout the night," he said, "and I am sure that Lord Fingolfin and Lord Caranthir will have had similar results." The two elves nodded in agreement. "But we have left it to you, Eowyn, to interpret all this."
Eowyn looked ruefully at the mountain of paper lying on the table.
Fingolfin glanced at Haldir, "The March Warden and I interviewed Angaráto," he said, "and I must say that I am now inclined to agree with Lord Caranthir. I also think that he is the killer—"
"Nay," said Haldir, "it is absolutely certain."
"Why do you say that, mellon nín?" asked Legolas.
Haldir glanced tactfully at Fingolfin for permission to continue. The older elf nodded.
"He was not co-operative during the questioning," said Haldir, "and he claims that he was in bed at the time of the murder, which, of course, we must check with the servants, as Lady Eowyn suggested." He bowed his head to Eowyn. "But as he left, Lord Fingolfin asked him about a leather riding jerkin he was wearing. He was very reluctant to talk about it, for he knew it had given him away. Apparently, it was made by the men of the Misty Mountains. It has laces similar to those used by the killer, and it is treated with fish oil to make it waterproof—"
"Fish!" croaked Eowyn, "yes!" then she smiled, embarrassed by the strange sound of her own voice. Legolas hugged her.
"It is a very distinctive smell, my lady," agreed Haldir.
"That is not enough, though," said Fingolfin, "to prove Angaráto's guilt conclusively. Especially as we still cannot show why he did it."
"No," said Aragorn, "you are right my lord." He patted a paper lying beside him on the table. "But Gimli and I also discovered some interesting things about our friend Angaráto that will give you the opportunity to question him further. Tell them Gimli, whilst I make up a soothing draft for Eowyn's throat."
Gimli explained about the 'protection' that Angaráto was providing to the people of Doro Lanthron and his and Aragorn's suspicions that he might have somehow managed the orc attack himself.
"Valar!" said Legolas. "Why did they not come to me with this? Did they think I was in league with him?"
"No, no my friend," said Gimli, "we believe he threatened them." And he clapped Legolas on the shoulder.
"But I should have known—I should have realised," said Legolas. "I swear I would lock that orc away and lose the key—if I were not going to kill him for attacking Eowyn."
Aragorn stirred his herbal concoction. "We need more solid proof before we can accuse him of that, mellon nín—or of the murder. Did you
find out anything that might help, Lord Caranthir?" He handed the goblet to Eowyn.
Caranthir described Astronomer Gelmir's testimony. "It seems that one of the servants, a good dependable girl, my lord," he said to Legolas, "went missing at about the time of the murder. Captain Golradir has had his men looking for her since dawn this morning. We think that she saw something—and that the murderer either knocked her out or—or killed her, and lay down with her in the doorway so that the serving ellyth would think they were lovers and ignore them. Then, when he thought no one was looking, he made his escape, carrying her with him."
Eowyn sipped Aragorn's soothing draft slowly, listening to Caranthir's reasoning. It made perfect sense. They needed to find that poor elleth. Please, gods, let her still be alive
, she thought.
"That he took her with him suggests she was
still alive," she thought aloud. The others turned to her in surprise. "Had she been dead," she explained croakily, "he could just have left her. What difference would a second body make? But alive she could tell us what she saw. Though he may have killed her since."
"Eowyn, you are right; but you must stop trying to talk," said Aragorn, "or your voice will never get better. Drink!"
The liquid was thick and green, and tasted slightly bitter but not unpleasant, and it reminded her of the potion she had drunk at the coronation ceremony. I never did find out what effect that was supposed to have
, she thought. If it had been intended to enhance the passions it had certainly not worked like the potion on the first night. That had given her real physical pain, creating an aching void between her legs that only Legolas could fill.
Gods, I love him!
She looked up from the goblet and watched him talking to Aragorn. He feels so bad that his people have suffered at Angaráto's hands
, she thought.
…Or do I love him?
For a terrible, heart-stopping moment it occurred to Eowyn that her feelings for Legolas, and all her present happiness, might be an illusion. The potion had induced intense, unreasoning desire, and Legolas had fulfilled it. So now I feel as if I love him
, she thought.
But if I feel that I love him, and the feeling persists, how is that different from 'true love'? And even if the feeling were to wear off—well, so does true love, sometimes.
And who is more worthy of love than Legolas?
What does it matter how love begins?
And suddenly the motive for the murder became clear to her. Love Potions!
she thought, Love Potions!
And she waved her hands frantically, to catch everyone's attention.
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.