It was frustrating to have to write it all down, but Eowyn knew that Aragorn would not have let her speak, even had she been able. She indicated that she needed more space than her wax tablet provided and Legolas found her some blank parchment.
She gathered her thoughts.
Lady Lessien saw the Mistress of the Ceremony adding extra ingredients to the potion Legolas drank on the first night of the harvest ceremony
, she wrote.
The rest of the company was surprised and concerned—they had not known about the potion.
Legolas held up his hands. "I have been examined by Master Dínendal and appear none the worse for it," he said.
When Legolas and I searched the elleth's chambers, I found a book lying on the floor. It was called
Love Potions and some of its pages were missing. I assumed that the murderer had torn it accidentally or through malice, but now I think that it was what he was looking for.
"It contained the recipe she used?" asked Fingolfin.
I think so. I think that Angaráto either bribed or threatened her and that she agreed to alter the potion
"To make Lord Legolas choose Alatáriël," said Fingolfin. "But she did not do it."
Or it did not work
"I think the Valar had a hand in that," said Legolas, squeezing Eowyn's hand.
"Indeed, my lord," agreed Fingolfin, smiling.
Angaráto must have been angry. He must have told her to meet him in the banqueting hall
"She may have thought she was safe in a public place," said Aragorn. "But we were all sleeping too heavily to help her." he added, regretfully.
He must have lost his temper, because he seems to have attacked her with one of the candlesticks.
Or perhaps she attacked him?
"I would not put that past her," said Legolas. "She was strong-willed. She would not have grovelled."
"But in the end he strangled her," said Aragorn. "It must have been a crime of passion, because he took an enormous risk—any one of us could have woken up and seen him. There must have been some noise."
The servant must have seen him. But why did she not shout for help?
Then Eowyn wrote and Legolas cried, simultaneously, "The third person!"
"Eowyn and I originally thought there was a third person involved," he explained. "The third person could have attacked the servant and silenced her whilst Angaráto was murdering the Mistress of the Ceremony."
"So," said Aragorn, "we have the start of a convincing case against Angaráto, especially if the servants confirm that he was not in bed at the time of the murder. I would suggest that you arrest him and question him closely, mellon nín," he said to Legolas.
"And his daughter," said Fingolfin.
"Do you think she was the third person?" asked Legolas. He had never liked Alatáriël, but he found it hard to imagine her as a murderer.
"I do not know, my lord," said Fingolfin, "but when we questioned her, she appeared to be in a state of—shock."
"Captain Golradir—" Legolas began.
"Wait, my lord," said Caranthir. "There is the final part of the rite to consider." He looked around the table, "Would it be too great a risk to wait until after Lord Legolas has performed the rite? We could assign some of the palace guard to watch Angaráto and his daughter until the guests have—er—relaxed, then Captain Golradir could look for an opportunity to arrest them discreetly."
"It is too risky," said Haldir, looking at Eowyn, "he is as slippery as an eel—"
"He will not touch her again, mellon nín," said Legolas, firmly.
"It must be your decision, my lord," said Fingolfin.
"Lord Caranthir is right," he said, after a moment's thought, "we must avoid compromising the ceremony any further. Do as he suggests, Golradir, but if an opportunity arises to arrest Angaráto quietly, before the banquet, take it. Now I suggest we all prepare ourselves for this evening."
The final part of the rite began officially at eight o'clock when Legolas led Eowyn into the banqueting hall. Several of the guests clapped their hands as he seated her on the throne beside his own, at the head of the table.
Angaráto and his daughter were sitting together, at the far end of the table, near the main entrance. So Golradir did not get the chance to arrest them before the banquet
, Eowyn thought. I hope he has guards covering the door
. She looked discreetly round the hall, trying to spot the guards, but they were either too well disguised or were elsewhere.
Trying to dispel her feelings of anxiety, Eowyn looked around the rest of the guests. They all seemed happy. Several had changed places-a beautiful elleth was now seated next to Gimli, and was gazing at him with unconcealed affection; Elladan and Elrohir had placed an extra chair between them and were entertaining a guest of their own. Eowyn recognised the young woman as Arwen's lady's maid. Well
, she thought, they have found themselves a woman and now they are treating her like a princess!
"Those orcs," said Legolas. "I had better rescue her-"
"No, my love," said Eowyn, "I know Richardis. She is a strong, forthright young woman and would not be with them if she did not choose to be. Arwen does not seem concerned. And every woman should have an elven lover—or two—at least once in her life," she added.
Legolas smiled and kissed her forehead.
"Can you see Captain Golradir's guards?" Eowyn whispered.
"Good, I was beginning to worry."
"Will you have some roasted vegetables, Princess Eowyn?" came a deep, resonant voice from Eowyn's left.
She turned, "Thank you, Prince Imrahil," she said, grateful that Aragorn's soothing draught had restored most of her own voice. Then, because Imrahil always liked to talk, she asked, "Have you visited Eryn Carantaur before?"
"No," he said, with a pointed glance at Legolas, "this is the first time I have been invited."
Eowyn was surprised. Change the subject
, she thought. "Are you enjoying the festival?"
"It has been—most interesting, my lady. Though I was surprised to see you
take such a prominent part in it."
"Faramir sent me here alone, Prince Imrahil," said Eowyn, firmly, "knowing much more about the ceremony than I did. But I must admit, my role has been something of a surprise to me, too," and she smiled at the elf on her right. But Legolas was staring straight ahead.
"I believe it is considered a great honour for the husband," said Imrahil. "So let us leave it at that."
And Eowyn spent a pleasant hour in conversation with Imrahil, who was something of a raconteur. But—to her surprise—Legolas resisted all her attempts to draw him into the conversation.
As the serving ellyth entered the hall bearing dessert, Captain Golradir took the opportunity to slip by unnoticed and report briefly to Legolas.
"We have found the scullery maid, Maranwë, my lord."
"Is she alive?"
"Yes, my lord."
"Thank the Valar! Where was she?"
"She had been hidden in one of the caves towards Doro Lanthron, my lord. She was blindfolded and chained to one of the rock pillars. She says she did not see her attacker clearly, but that he told her he was going to take her back to his estate with him."
"So he was from outside the city. Did she see the murder?"
"I believe so, my lord. Though I have not asked her for any details. I thought you would want to question her yourself. With the lady." He indicated Eowyn.
Legolas nodded. "Did he harm her?"
"She has a wound on her head, my lord, but Master Dínendal has examined her and says that she should suffer no lasting harm. And she is tired and hungry: the cook is feeding her now, my lord."
"Thank you, Golradir, this is most welcome news," said Legolas.
And he turned to tell Eowyn. But she was still talking to that ingratiating orc, Imrahil.
At length, the meal was over.
The musicians played a fanfare and Lady Lessien and six attendants carried wooden trays laden with small gifts, wrapped in brightly coloured gauze, to the centre of the threshing floor.
"It is time to perform the gift-giving, meleth nín," said Legolas to Eowyn.
Starting at the head of the table, the couple greeted each guest in turn and presented him or her with a gift. For the men and elves there was a bottle of fragrant port wine. For the dwarves there was a jug of mead. And for the ladies there was a small bottle of perfumed oil, carefully blended from the pressed seeds of local fruits and berries. Eowyn had never seen anyone so pleased to receive a gift as Richardis, especially when the twins promised to help her apply
The couple was so engrossed in the gift-giving that neither of them noticed Alatáriël becoming more and more agitated; and Legolas was taken completely by surprise when, as he handed her the gauze-wrapped gift, the elleth suddenly slapped him across the face.
"No!" she cried, "No! I will not take that from you! You, who should be mine! How dare you choose her? That woman? I have seen them! They shrivel and their breasts sag and their teeth fall out! They dry up and they die! They are disgusting! Disgusting!
"Why did you choose her when you were supposed to choose me? It was all arranged! But that stupid Mistress of the Ceremony…"
She turned to her father.
"You! You did not pay her enough. I should have known I could not rely on you! You said he would be mine!"
And she picked up a candlestick and lunged at Legolas.
A cry of horror went up from the guests; Haldir rose to his feet; Gimli grasped his axe; Golradir's guards ran forward. But the Shieldmaiden was faster than any of them. With a single efficient movement she drew her sword and pressed the point against the elleth's throat, holding her back from Legolas.
"If you ever try to harm my lord again," she said, icily, "I will kill you."
"Captain Golradir," cried Legolas, recovering quickly, "arrest Angaráto and his daughter and keep them under guard. I will deal with them after we have completed the rite."
Angaráto tried to protest his innocence, but Legolas waved him away.
"Now, my friends," he continued, "let us finish the gift-giving and perform the final part of the rite. And let us pray that the Valar still see fit to bless our colony and will not hold against the rest of us the actions of these two wicked elves."
Legolas slid Eowyn's gown off her shoulders. It is going to be difficult to make love tonight
, he thought, even to her, after what has just happened
"My lord," said Lady Lessien, softly, "I have made the potion slightly stronger tonight, to help you put the unpleasantness behind you."
"Thank you, Lessien," said Legolas, "I could not have chosen a better officiant."
Lessien smiled gratefully. "Repeat after me, my lord…"
The guests applauded enthusiastically, then fell to performing their own rites with equal vigour.
, thought Legolas, if she had made it any stronger I would have killed us both. And I am still so hard it hurts
He turned to Eowyn. She was lying curled beside him and his heart twisted in sudden fear. "Are you alright, meleth nín?" he asked anxiously, "did I hurt you?"
She raised her head; her face was wet with tears.
"No!" wailed Legolas, "I did. I am so sorry, melmenya!"
But she pressed her hand to his mouth and shook her head.
"She is right," she said.
"Who is right, meleth nín? Oh…"
"I will age, Legolas, I am no longer the young girl I was when we first met; and soon I will age and my body will shrivel and sag—and you will no longer want to make love to me—"
"Eowyn," he whispered, "since the day we met I have wanted no one but you. I have lain with no one but you." She stared in surprise but he shook his head. "No, no one in three years, meleth nín. Once an elf gives his heart, he is faithful for eternity."
"I do not know the answer, meleth nín. But I do
know that it was the Valar that gave you to me. And I trust them to show us the way. We will be happy, my love; I know we will."
Eowyn smiled; it was a shaky little smile, but a smile nonetheless.
"I am sorry, meleth nín, but I need—" he began, but she silenced him with a kiss and a loving caress.
"I know, my beloved elf," she whispered, her fingers stroking him gently. "And you did not hurt me before—though you nearly killed me! But," she added, brushing her lips across his ear, "I will gladly risk death with you again…"
The following morning, Míriel was sent to the kitchen to arrange breakfast for ten in Legolas' garden.
The kitchen was buzzing with talk of Lady Eowyn's swordsmanship the night before. Several elves and serving ellyth had gathered around Captain Golradir, who was not normally a morning person, to hear in detail how Lady Eowyn had drawn her sword—"She is almost fast enough to be one of my guards,"—and threatened to kill Alatáriël if she so much as looked at Lord Legolas again. "Then I arrested the pair of them," he added.
"Did you know that Lady Eowyn was such a swordswoman?" asked Feärwen.
"Oh yes," said Míriel. "In fact, I am the one she asked to fetch her sword."
Legolas and Eowyn welcomed Aragorn and Arwen, Fingolfin, Caranthir and his wife, Haldir, and Gimli and his young elleth friend, to breakfast in Legolas' garden. It was pleasant, after the worries of the past two days, to relax and share light-hearted conversation, and the friends were enjoying their meal when Arwen suddenly excused herself and hurried down the stairs. Aragon rose to follow her, but Eowyn, suspecting the truth, said, "No, Aragorn, let me."
She found Arwen in the bathing room.
"Are congratulations in order?" she asked, smiling.
"Yes," said Arwen and, in spite of her obvious queasiness, she smiled too.
"I am so happy for you, Arwen."
"Thank you. But please do not tell anyone. I have asked Estel to keep it secret. I am mortal now and the healer at Minas Tirith tells me that things sometimes go wrong in the first three months of a human pregnancy—and though we do not know if that applies to me, if the worst were to happen—well, I would rather no one knew."
"Of course," said Eowyn, sympathetically, "I understand. But may I at least tell Legolas? You are like a sister to him and he will be concerned."
Arwen smiled. "Yes," she said, "but swear him to secrecy."
"Lie down and get some rest," said Eowyn, guiding her to the bed. "You are near the bathing room if you need it and, when breakfast is over, I will send Aragorn to take you back to your own chambers."
"Thank you, Eowyn."
Eowyn climbed back up to the garden. "The Queen is slightly indisposed," she said.
"Should I send for Master Dínendal?" asked Legolas.
"No, my love, it is not that sort of illness," said Eowyn. And she smiled at Aragorn, and Aragorn smiled back at her.
Legolas convened his Inner Council to try Angaráto and Alatáriël, and asked Aragorn to preside. The trial was open to the public and Eowyn and Gimli sat together at the front of the crowd.
"Master Angaráto," said Aragorn, "you are charged with the murder of the Mistress of the Ceremony, the attempted murder of Lady Eowyn, and a grievous assault on the scullery maid, Maranwë. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty," said Angaráto.
"Alatáriël, daughter of Angaráto, you are charged with being an accessory to the murder of the Mistress of the Ceremony, an accessory to the attempted murder of Lady Eowyn, an accessory to the grievous assault on the scullery maid Maranwë, and with an attempted assault on Lord Legolas. How do you plead?"
The elleth said nothing.
"You must answer the charges," said Aragorn. "How do you plead?"
"She is not guilty," said Angaráto.
"She must plead herself."
Angaráto gently shook his daughter and she mumbled something unintelligible. Aragorn decided to proceed.
"Call the first witness," he said.
Lady Lessien described seeing the Mistress of the Ceremony adding extra ingredients to the Celebrant's Potion.
Then the healer, Master Dínendal, described examining the book found in the Mistress of the Ceremony's chamber. Though the page containing the recipe had been torn out, Dínendal had found enough information in the appendices to work out the effect the potion had been intended to have.
"The potion Lady Lessien told us about was, in fact, one half of a pair of potions," he explained. "One potion is given to the lady and—by some mechanism I do not understand, your Majesty—is intended to make her attractive to the celebrant.
"The Celebrant's Potion is adulterated with uil
fronds to harness his sea longing, aeglos
, root to intensify his visions, and a large quantity of ground alfirin
petal, which counteracts the soporific effects of the aeglos root."
"So the two potions were intended to ensure that Lord Legolas chose a particular lady?" asked Aragorn.
"Yes, your Majesty," said Dínendal.
"But it does not appear to have been successful."
"No, your Majesty. As I say, I do not understand the mechanism by which the attraction is supposed to work. It is magic rather than healing. But perhaps the potion was not given to the elleth."
"Thank you, Master Dínendal."
Next, Maranwë was brought into the courtroom. The crowd gasped when they saw the bandage around her head. One of Golradir's guards ushered her to the witness seat.
Aragorn tried to put her at her ease: "Good morning, Maranwë, we all hope you are feeling better."
"Thank you, your Majesty," said Maranwë, without a trace of nerves.
"Please tell the Council what you saw just before you were attacked."
Maranwë nodded. "I was running past the banqueting hall—I was late—and as I passed the main entrance, something caught my eye and I looked in. The Mistress of the Ceremony was sitting by the table, facing the entrance—she was looking straight at me. I saw an elleth behind her take up a candlestick and swing it towards her head, and I tried to shout. But someone hit me and I woke up blindfolded in the cave."
"Can you describe the elleth who used the candlestick?" asked Aragorn.
"I did not see her face properly, your Majesty, but she was wearing a bright blue gown. It was beautiful." Maranwë illustrated her description with her hands: "The neck was scooped very low, with silver beads down the front, and the skirt was full and almost transparent—"
"Alatáriël," murmured some of the crowd.
"You say your captor kept you blindfold. Can you tell us anything about him?"
"Yes, your Majesty. He smelled fishy."
Aragorn looked surprised. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, your Majesty. I scrub dishes: I know the smell of fish."
"Thank you, Maranwë."
Next, Gelmir described waking up and seeing an elf throwing an elleth over his shoulder and carrying her away.
"Do you see the elleth in the court room?" asked Aragorn.
"Yes, your Majesty." He pointed to Maranwë.
"Do you see the elf?"
Gelmir hesitated. "I cannot be sure, your Majesty."
Then Eowyn described being attacked. She explained that she had not seen her attacker's face but that he had a distinctive smell that she had not recognised at the time.
Haldir described disturbing the elf as he attacked Eowyn. "He was wearing a cloak with a hood over his face; but he was average height, quite heavily built, agile." He described the bootlace that had been tied around Eowyn's neck and its metal fobs.
Finally, Lord Fingolfin recounted questioning Angaráto and described his riding jerkin with the metal fobs and its fish oil waterproofing.
When all the evidence had been given, Aragorn asked Angaráto if he had anything to say in his own defence. For a moment, it looked as though Angaráto might protest his innocence. But then he put his arm around Alatáriël's shoulders. "My daughter is innocent," he said, "any guilt is mine."
Alatáriël was asked the same question, but did not respond at all.
Aragorn turned to Legolas and his three counsellors.
"My lords, you have heard all the evidence," he said. "How do you find Angaráto?"
"Guilty," said Finwë.
"Guilty," said Fingolfin.
"Guilty," said Caranthir.
Legolas nodded. "Guilty," he said.
"How do you find Alatáriël?"
"Yes, guilty," agreed Legolas.
"We may never know exactly what happened," said Aragorn, summing up. "I suspect that after Alatáriël attacked the Mistress of the Ceremony with the candlestick, Angaráto was forced to kill her to silence her. And he kidnapped Maranwë to keep her quiet, too. But I think he attacked Lady Eowyn to appease his daughter. And perhaps they thought that with his lady gone Lord Legolas would be forced to choose another.
"Angaráto and Alatáriël," he said, "you will be kept in confinement until the Council of Eryn Carantaur has decided on your punishment.
"This trial is now ended."
It was a cool, crisp autumn morning.
"The weather has changed," said Eowyn as they walked down the main stairway and towards the stables. "It will soon be winter."
"Yes, melmenya," said Legolas. "Soon the nights will be drawing in, and you will need someone to warm your bed and keep you safe in the dark."
Eowyn smiled. "Do you know anyone who might do that for me? Perhaps Captain Golradir could assign me one of his guards—agh!"
Legolas had punished her by slipping his arm around her waist and squeezing, and they both laughed.
When they reached the stables, Aragorn, Arwen and their retinue were almost ready to depart. Eowyn had travelled to Eryn Carantaur with them and, although she had no doubts about staying with Legolas, she felt a small twinge of regret that she would be saying goodbye to her friends.
"Farewell, mellon nín," said Legolas to Aragorn. "And thank you again for everything you have done both for Eryn Carantaur and for me—especially," he added, glancing at Eowyn, "for restoring my lady to health, once again."
Aragorn shook his head. "It was my pleasure, mellon nín," he replied. "And do not forget that Arwen and I expect you both at Minas Tirith to celebrate Yule." He leant closer to Legolas. "I apologise, mellon nín, for my earlier disapproval. She is happier with you than I have ever seen her."
"You still care for her," said Legolas, softly, and Aragorn smiled. "Rest assured, Aragorn, I will take good care of her."
"As she will of you, my friend," replied Aragorn. "Your people already love her and she makes a fine elven queen! I pray that you will reach your agreement with Faramir and that all three of you will then find the happiness you deserve. In the meantime, you have my support in this."
Legolas placed his hand on his heart and bowed his head in a formal gesture of thanks, but Aragorn embraced his friend and slapped his back, human fashion, and the two smiled at each other, warmly.
"Good bye," said Eowyn to Aragorn.
"Good bye, Eowyn, take good care of him."
Eowyn smiled. "I shall."
Then the couple said their goodbyes to Arwen, and the twins, and the great procession set off along the road out of Eryn Carantaur, with four soldiers in the vanguard, followed by Aragorn riding Hasufel and Arwen on her pretty elven horse.
"Should she be riding in her condition?" asked Legolas.
"Shhhh," replied Eowyn.
Then came Elladan and Elrohir, with Richardis between them. That
, thought Eowyn, will raise some eyebrows in Minas Tirith!
And, finally, came the remainder of the Gondorian Guard, their armour shining, and their pennants fluttering in the light breeze.
Legolas and Eowyn watched the procession until it disappeared.
"Any regrets, meleth nín?" asked Legolas.
"None at all," she replied.
And hand in hand they walked back to the main staircase.
Shortly after the King and Queen of Gondor's procession had left, Arafinwë, the farmer from Doro Lanthron, his wife, Amarië, and the couple's daughter, Eámanë, also set off for home.
"Thank you, Lord Gimli," said Arafinwë, "for dealing with that—that matter for me." He referred to Angaráto's 'protection'. "My neighbours and I will always be honoured to offer you hospitality, my lord, whenever you are in the neighbourhood of Doro Lanthron.
"And there is a certain young lady who will be very disappointed if we do not see you soon, my lord," he added, winking.
Eámanë bent and kissed Gimli tenderly on the forehead then mounted her pony and set off with her parents. Gimli watched the family until they reached the bend in the road, returning the elleth's wave as she disappeared behind the trees.
She is fair
, thought Gimli, and gentle and good, and perhaps if I had never seen Lady Galadriel I might have spent the rest of my days with her
And he walked sadly back to the main staircase.
Eowyn glanced at herself in the full-length mirror. She was dressed for travel in leggings and boots, and a green suede jerkin she had borrowed from Lord Lenwë's son. I look like a short Legolas!
She had come to her former chamber to pick up a few items for the journey to North Ithilien whilst Legolas got the horses ready.
She took her hunting knife, a pair of gloves, a spare shift, a box of toothpowder and—though she knew it was foolish—the small jar of soothing lotion that Legolas had given her when she first arrived, slipped them into her travelling pack, slung it across her shoulders, and ran out onto the walkway and down the main staircase to join Legolas.
But as she reached the stable, she heard something that made her stop, and step back into the shadow of the stable door.
"What did you think you were doing last night?"
"I was exchanging pleasantries with your lady." Eowyn recognised the deep, resonant voice of Prince Imrahil. "She is beautiful, clever, and a charming companion at dinner—"
"Stay away from her," said Legolas.
"DO NOT TOUCH ME!"
"I am sorry."
"Just what do you plan to tell her?"
"Tell her? Why would I tell her anything?"
"If you try to turn her against me, I swear I will kill you!"
Eowyn gasped, then clamped her hand over her mouth, guiltily.
"Wait, Legolas!" cried Imrahil.
But Legolas came striding out of the stable door and, not noticing Eowyn, walked angrily into the forest.
She had followed him, cautiously, into a clearing not far from the stables. He was sitting on the trunk of a fallen tree, his head buried in his hands.
But at the sound of her voice, his head shot up and he smiled… and Eowyn had never seen such relief on a face. "Eowyn nín," he whispered, and stretched his arms out to her.
Eowyn did not hesitate for a second. Not for a fraction of a second. She wrapped her arms around him and crushed him against her body.
Whatever had upset him—whatever had really passed between him and Imrahil—she could trust him. She knew that. And she knew that he would explain it to her as soon as he was ready.
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.