The search parties returned at dusk, empty handed. Aragorn called the leaders together to discuss progress, and they were joined by Legolas, Eowyn and Elrohir. They had covered a good two thirds of the city, but that still left some of the more rundown neighbourhoods unsearched.
"We will be continuing tomorrow, at first light," said Aragorn. "We can only hope that Elladan is still in the city by then."
Legolas nodded. "Eowyn and I will join you, mellon nín. I would have expected a ransom demand by now, if money had been the motive. But since there has been no communication-"
"You are wondering what anyone would want with an elf. So am I," admitted Aragorn. "If we could work that out, it might also tell us where to look."
"Perhaps there is another way to narrow down the search," said Eowyn, thoughtfully.
"What are you thinking, melmenya?" asked Legolas.
," said Eowyn. "I assume it is not common? Then where did the kidnapper get it? Was it supplied by someone in Dol Amroth? If so, perhaps we can question him and-er-persuade him to tell us about the buyer."
"That is a good idea," said Aragorn, and the others nodded in agreement. "We need to speak to someone with good local knowledge," continued Aragorn. "Your steward, perhaps, Prince Imrahil."
The steward was summoned. "Thank you for joining us, Master Reimar," said Imrahil. "As you know, one of my guests has been kidnapped, and we believe he was subdued using a rare substance called elfsbane
-a poison that affects only elves. With your knowledge of the merchants of Dol Amroth can you think of anyone who could-and would-supply it to the kidnapper?"
Master Reimar thought for a moment. "There are more than twenty apothecaries operating in the city, my lord, and though I have not used all of them, I have no reason to suspect that any of them are other than honest, respectable men and women. But I will make some enquiries."
He turned to address the company more generally. "Dol Amroth is a crossroads, my lords, my lady. The sea brings merchandise here from all over Middle Earth, so it might be worth searching the docks. There is a merchant there, named Saleem, who specialises in rare and exotic elixirs, but most of them come from Far Harad, and beyond, where elves are unknown, so I doubt that he was the supplier. But still, he may be able to direct you elsewhere.
"I am sorry I am being of so little help, my lords," he said.
"No, no, Master Reimar," said Imrahil. "You have been most helpful. Please let me know the results of your enquiries as soon as possible."
The Steward bowed to Imrahil, then the company, and then turned to leave but, as his hand touched the door, he suddenly turned back. "My lords," he said, "I have heard talk amongst the kitchen maids-fanciful talk, my lords, but there may be some grain of truth in it-of a shop hidden in the southern region of the city where a girl may get," he glanced apologetically at Eowyn, "herbs that will-that will dispose of her unborn child. They say that the shop can only be found by those who already know where it is-"
"My gods!" said Imrahil. "Talk to the girls, Master Reimar, find out where the shop is," he said, "as quickly as possible. And, Master Reimar, tell them that-in future-if any girl should find herself in that-condition-she is to go straight to the palace healer, instead of taking gods know what poisons!"
Imrahil shook his head. "Why do they do it?" he asked.
"Because they have been abandoned by the father, are afraid their families will disown them, and are desperate, my lord," said Eowyn, quietly. Legolas squeezed her hand.
Imrahil nodded. "Well," he said, "it stops here."
He looked around his guests. "We can do no more today. I suggest we eat. Nothing elaborate-under the circumstances, I do not think any of us could manage that. And then I think we should retire early, so we can move immediately tomorrow, once we have more information."
Wolfram had slipped out at dusk and 'borrowed' a handcart-complete with two boxes of vegetables-that some unfortunate farmer's boy had left for a moment outside the greengrocers on Raven Lane.
Early in life, Wolfram had discovered that the way to do things unseen was to do them openly, so had he pushed the handcart confidently, straight into the market place, then down Broad Street and into the alley at the back of Herzog's shop.
Herzog was waiting for him, with Elladan already wrapped in an old blanket. Wolfram placed the elf on the cart and covered him with vegetables.
"I will return tomorrow for my advance," he said.
Then he wheeled the handcart back down Broad Street, back through the market place and right up to the castle gatehouse. A few casual glances around the market place had told him that no one was paying him any particular attention, so he parked the handcart outside the gatehouse, then slipped along the castle wall, and out of city through Dinham Gate.
He would enter the castle by his usual route, through the drains and the privy shaft, and spend the night selecting his next victim and learning as much about him as possible. And who knows
, he thought, I may even get another look at the woman
The handcart had been standing outside the castle gates for at least half an hour.
The problem was that Torul was not sure how or when it had got there. It had certainly not been there before he slipped out to use the privy. But whether it had appeared then or later, when he was making himself a pot of tea, he could not be sure. What he did know was that if the Captain of the Guard found out about it, he would be in real trouble. Especially if he happened to get flustered whilst trying to explain himself and accidentally mentioned the words 'privy' or 'tea'…
His only hope was his comrade, Konrad, who should be coming in to relieve him at any minute. Once Konrad was on watch, he could slip out, examine the handcart and, if it seemed harmless-which he was sure it was-push it further away into the market place. Problem solved.
As he was formulating this plan, his relief arrived. "What on Middle Earth is that handcart doing out there?" Konrad asked.
He misses nothing
, thought Torul. "That is what I am just about to find out," he said, bristling with efficiency.
"Do you want a hand?"
"No, it is probably just an empty cart. I will push it away."
"How did it get there-" asked Konrad, but Torul had already stepped outside and he pretended he had not heard.
Pleasant night, but a bit chilly-no clouds
, he thought, rubbing his hands together as he approached the handcart. Now why would someone leave a load of potherbs outside the castle?
He looked more closely at the back of the cart. The moon was bright in the cloudless sky and he could see quite clearly that there was something under the vegetables. Something wrapped in an old blanket.
He leant over and prodded the something, thinking, What in Mordor can that be? Then he pulled his hand back as if he had been burned.
The something had groaned.
Elladan, still only semi-conscious, was carried to his apartment and laid on his bed.
Aragorn and Elrohir waited anxiously in the adjoining sitting room, with Legolas and Eowyn, whilst Master Dínendal gave Elladan a thorough examination.
At length, the healer came out of the bedchamber, closing the door quietly behind him.
"He is in healing sleep at the moment, my lords, and should remain so for perhaps another twenty-four hours. It will help clear the remainder of the poison from his body."
"How is he?" asked Aragorn.
"In remarkably good health, your Majesty, considering what he has endured. Whoever administered the poison knew exactly what he was doing. When he wakes he should be fully recovered. From the poisoning, at least."
"What do you mean, Master Dínendal? Has he said anything?" asked Aragorn.
"He remained unconscious throughout the ordeal, your Majesty," said Dínendal, "but he does have two memories-it might be better to call them impressions
. First, he remembers being overpowered, with a knee pressing down on his chest-and he has a large bruise, just below the sternum. Secondly-" Dínendal glanced uncomfortably at Eowyn. "Perhaps you would rather not hear this, my lady," he said, softly.
"You know you can speak openly in front of Lady Eowyn, Dínendal," said Legolas, sternly.
Dínendal blushed. "Yes, my lord, it is just that-very well, my lord. Lord Elladan has the impression that he was-molested."
"Molested?" said Aragorn. He looked at Elrohir.
"Yes, your Majesty; he believes that someone," Dínendal cleared his throat, and glanced at Eowyn again, "someone-er-stole his seed. And his leggings were unlaced, my lords, when I came to examine him and there is indeed some abrasion, quite severe in places…"
"Dear gods," whispered Eowyn.
The friends sat silent for a moment, stunned by Dínendal's revelation.
Then Aragorn said, "The healing sleep will help him. Elrohir, you stay with him, in case he wakes during the night. Master Dínendal, do you have any powdered alfirin root with you?" Dínendal shook his head. "Perhaps you can obtain some tomorrow. Mix it in white wine, one part to ten, and have it ready when Elladan wakes tomorrow.
"I will ask Imrahil to chase the information about the apothecary that his steward promised. I want to have a long talk with our friend who preys on unfortunate young women. Perhaps he also preys on unconscious elves. We will make finding his shop tomorrow our first priority.
"In the meantime I will go and tell Arwen the good news that her brother is sleeping peacefully and is expected to make a full recovery from the poison. I will not mention the other thing-and I trust it will go no further than the people in this room."
Eowyn was leaning over the balcony, looking out to sea, thinking about what Master Dínendal had told them. It was a calm, cloudless night, and the reflected moon and the stars shimmered on the water. The scene was magical, but Eowyn hardly noticed it.
"Legolas!" she called, unaware that he was already standing behind her until he took hold of her waist and gently bent her over the balcony wall then lifted her skirts, running his hands up her thighs and over her buttocks.
"No, my love," she said, trying to turn to face him.
She had never said no to him before, and she felt his whole body tense with surprise.
He stepped back and she managed to turn. "I want you to go home," she said. "I want you to take Haldir and Dínendal and the others-and the twins, if they will go with you-back to Eryn Carantaur where you will all be safe-"
"What does he want? Why would he have-have done that to Elladan? I cannot bear to think of him doing anything to you, my love-please, Legolas, please go home-" she sobbed.
"Shhhhh, melmenya," he said softly, taking her in his arms and pressing his lips to her temple, "Shhhhh. I know you are worried, but it is out of the question. I am not leaving you here alone."
"I would not be alone! Eomer, Gimli, Faramir, Aragorn are all here. Any one of them would bring me back to Eryn Carantaur when the Naming Ceremony is over. And I am safe; I am not the target."
"How do we know that?"
"He wants an elf!"
"He returned Elladan; so we do not know for certain that he wanted an elf-"
"He used elfsbane
! He stole elven seed! He wants an elf. And he wants to-" she shuddered. "Who knows what else he wants to do to you?"
"I am not leaving you. And neither Haldir nor Dínendal would leave you, either," he whispered. "Shhhhh, shhhhh, my love." And he kissed her, and caressed her, and stroked her hair, until she had calmed. And then he bent her once more over the balcony wall, raised her skirts and, holding her hips steady, he entered her gently, filling her body completely.
"Oh Legolas!" she whimpered.
He kissed the back of her neck, making her squirm beneath him, then he withdrew, almost fully, and slowly filled her again.
"Oh!" she whimpered.
"You are so beautiful, melmenya," he whispered. "So soft and warm, and I love you so much. I would risk anything to be with you. To be able to love you like this…" He withdrew once more and slowly filled her again. And then again. And again. Then he suddenly gripped the wall, shuddering. "Oh, Eowyn!" he sobbed, and he attempted one more thrust, but it was too much for him, "oh, melmenya..." And he braced himself against the balcony, pushing himself even deeper inside her, and held himself there, and Eowyn felt his warm seed flooding her body. Then he collapsed over her.
"I am sorry, meleth nín," he whispered. He slid his hand under her and caressed her, gently. "I will make it up to you, I promise."
And Eowyn-lying over the balcony wall, part of her still terrified at what might happen to Legolas, part of her aware of nothing but his penis still inside her, and his hands performing the sweetest torture-thought she might die. Then Legolas raised himself on his arms and, slowly and deeply, began to thrust again.
, she thought, dear gods, dear gods, dear gods!
And she felt herself approaching her first climax.
Wolfram had six full-blooded elves to choose from. Three were lodged in the guardhouse, virtually inaccessible, so he rejected them. One was unnaturally big, and he had had enough trouble carrying the last one, so he rejected him.
That left two to choose from-the quiet, studious one, who seemed to be a healer, and the pretty elf-boy. Neither of them looked as if they would give him much trouble, though the elf-boy did tend to prance around wearing a bow and a couple of very nice knives.
What decided it was the woman. She belonged to the elf-boy. And it seemed fitting to Wolfram that he should take him first then come back and take her.
He had followed the elf-boy to his apartment and climbed out onto a gargoyle, just below the castle battlements, that gave him a safe view into the bedchamber. He had planned to watch the elf, to get to know more about him, so he would be easier to catch alone. But as the hours had passed he had seen rather more than he expected.
He had seen the elf-boy and the woman come out onto the balcony. He had seen the elf bend her over the wall and take her from behind. By the gods!
he had thought, as the elf freed himself from his leggings, he may be a boy but that is certainly no toy!
And then the woman turned the tables on the elf-mounting him and riding him, hard and fast. And Wolfram was forced to attend to his own needs as he watched her bring the elf-boy to a spectacular, shattering climax.
Gods, I was right about that woman
, he thought. She has ridden the elf-boy into the ground. And I will have her!
Senta had taken the apothecary's powdered herbs before she had gone to bed, but they had had no effect. What am I going to do now?
she thought, her eyes filling with tears. The problem is still here
-she placed her hand on her stomach-and all my savings are gone… But I have no time to worry about that now.
And she took a deep breath, pulled herself together, ran up the stairs to Lady Eowyn's bedchamber and tapped on the door.
There was no answer, so she slowly pushed the door open and looked inside. Lady Eowyn lay alone in the bed, still asleep. The elf was nowhere to be seen.
Senta entered the bedchamber and closed the door quietly behind her.
"My lady?" she said softly. The woman stirred. "My lady?" she said more loudly.
Lady Eowyn suddenly sat bolt upright and stared at her, fully awake. "Senta!" she said, "what are you doing here? Where is Legolas? Oh-" She picked up a piece of parchment lying on the pillow beside her and read it, then grinned and coloured slightly.
Senta cleared her throat.
"I do not need any assistance, Senta," said Lady Eowyn. "Why not sit down and tell me about yourself and we can pretend that you have dressed me."
Senta sat down and watched as Lady Eowyn took a clean shift, a dark blue gown, and matching boots from a clothes chest and laid them out on the bed, then walked into the bathing room to wash.
"How long have you been in service, Senta?"
"Almost two years." Senta looked at the gown. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, deep, deep, blue velvet embroidered with pale red-gold autumn leaves. The leaves looked almost real…
"And do you have a young man?"
"I-I-no my lady, not now-" Senta rose and walked towards the bed, intending to look more closely at the gown. But the moment she stood, intense pain pierced the small of her back and travelled right down through her belly and between her legs. She clutched the bedpost. Oh! Oh Gods!
she thought. The pain eased slightly and she pressed her hand to her stomach. Is this it? Is this why he said stay in bed?
Another pain wracked her body. "Oh gods," she cried, "Oh, gods! Oh my lady!"
And Lady Eowyn-half-naked-was beside her instantly, supporting her, lowering her gently onto the bed.
"Your-your gown," gasped Senta, as another pain crippled her.
"Shhhhhh," said Lady Eowyn. "Are you with child, Senta?" she asked gently.
"I-yes, my lady-Oh!"
"I will be back in a moment." And she ran into the bathing room and reappeared with a towel. "Trust me," she said gently, and Senta felt the lady raise her skirts, carefully place the towel between her legs, and smooth the skirts back down.
Then she disappeared again.
Senta panicked. "My lady?"
"I am here," she said. "I am going to dress and then I will fetch a healer." Moments later she was crouching before Senta, wearing the beautiful blue gown. "I will be as quick as I can," she said.
"Thank you, my lady. I am so sorry-Ohhhhh!"
Lady Eowyn stroked her hair gently. "Shhhhhh," she said, soothingly.
Senta closed her eyes and tried to master the pain. She heard Lady Eowyn open the bedchamber door, but she did not leave. Instead, Senta heard quiet voices, and she kept her eyes tightly closed. A moment later Lady Eowyn was beside her again, taking hold of her hand. "I have sent someone else to fetch the healer, Senta, so I will stay with you," she said.
"Thank you, my lady-oh!-oh!-he did not tell me it would hurt so much!" Senta cried.
"Who did not tell you?"
"The-oh-the apothecary, my lady-"
"An apothecary! Did he give you something to take, Senta? To kill the child?"
Senta sobbed, "Yes! Yes! I did not want to, but-"
"Shhhhh. I know. I understand. But he is a wicked man, Senta. You should have gone to the palace healer."
"He would not have helped me, my lady."
She heard Lady Eowyn sigh. "No. No, you are right, of course. Men are very good at making women pay for being the victims of other men. How did you find the apothecary, Senta?"
"My friend Romilde, the scullery maid, told me, my lady. It was very hard to find-ohhhhh!" Senta sobbed in pain and misery, "I wish it would stop."
"It will stop, Senta, but not for a while. I am sorry; I should not be troubling you with all these questions." And she squeezed Senta's hand gently.
She is such a good lady
, thought Senta.
They sat quietly, Lady Eowyn holding Senta's hand during the contractions and rubbing her back in between.
At length, there was a knock on the door. "Come in," called Lady Eowyn.
Eowyn was shooed out of the bedchamber by Prince Imrahil's healer, Master Hagen, and an apologetic Dínendal. "You have done very well so far, but you know nothing of midwifery, my lady," said Hagen. "Leave it to us."
Eowyn was reluctant to leave, and promised to return later. But at least
, she thought, if Hagen turns out to be an insensitive dolt, Dínendal will be gentle with her
As she left she found Florestan, Eomer's secretary, who had arrived with a message when Eowyn had been leaving earlier, and whom she had sent to fetch the healer, hovering outside the door.
"Will she be alright, my lady?"
"Yes, I believe so, but it will have to take its course," said Eowyn. Then she had a sudden thought and stared at him. "Do you know her, Florestan?"
"We sat together at dinner yesterday, my lady. I did not know she was your maid."
"You had never met her before that?"
"No, my lady-Oh! You think the child is mine? Nay, my lady, it is not. I had never met her before yesterday. She told me…" His voice trailed away.
"It was private, my lady."
Eowyn continued to look at him expectantly. He did not resist her long.
"She told me that her betrothed had been killed in a hunting accident, my lady."
"Oh." That would explain it
, thought Eowyn. Poor Senta. And poor Florestan, too, for he is clearly besotted with a girl whose heart already belongs to a dead man. Still, people's feelings do change. Who at Helm's Deep would have thought Legolas the love of my life?
"Do you want to wait in the sitting room downstairs?"
"I would rather wait here, my lady, if you do not mind," said Florestan.
Eowyn nodded. And then she ran downstairs to find Legolas and Aragorn, leaving the lovesick secretary leaning against the doorjamb.
Legolas' note had told Eowyn-amongst other, more intimate, things-that the leaders of the search parties from the previous day would be meeting in Aragorn's apartment to discuss how best to find the apothecary. She needed to catch them before they left to start the search. She ran across the courtyard, up the staircase to Aragorn's apartment and burst in through the door.
Seven pairs of eyes-Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Haldir, Faramir, Eomer and Imrahil-were staring at her.
"What is it, melmenya?" asked Legolas.
"I have news of the apothecary," she said, a little breathlessly. "The girl you appointed as my lady's maid, Prince Imrahil, is his latest victim-she has taken some of his foul herbs and is miscarrying her child even now."
"Then should we not be with her, meleth nín?" said Legolas getting up from his chair.
"No, my love, Master Dínendal and Prince Imrahil's healer are with her. She will be fine." She squeezed his arm, then turned to speak to the entire company. "She told me that she learned about the apothecary from a scullery maid called Romilde. The shop is apparently very hard to find, but is somewhere in the region of Broad Gate." She turned back to Legolas. "I think it was the apothecary that I saw with Senta when we first arrived-"
"The man who 'walked over your grave'," said Legolas.
"Yes. It seems I was right to distrust him. And I think I remember where he was standing, but it might be wise to question the girl, Romilde, too."
Imrahil sent a servant to fetch the girl.
"We must find the father of Senta's child," said Legolas, softly, to Eowyn, as they waited. "He must face what he has done."
"I think the father is dead, my love," said Eowyn. "Shhhhh. I will explain later."
Romilde arrived with the steward, Master Reimar, who had had spent most of the night trying to get information from her. The girl was very reluctant to tell a bunch of interfering men anything about the apothecary.
"He is the only person a girl can turn to when she is in trouble, your Highness," she said to Imrahil and curtseyed, rather impudently.
"Romilde!" cried Reimar, in warning, and Eowyn saw anger flare in Imrahil's normally calm, worldly eyes. But she liked the girl's spirit, so she decided it was time to intervene.
"Romilde," she said, "this man is not helping you. He is selling you a poison that may leave you barren, or even kill you-your friend Senta is lying upstairs in agony at this very moment. And he supplies other poisons, too, to kidnappers and murderers. He supplied a poison that was used to harm one of our friends-King Elessar's brother," she pointed to Aragorn. "Will you not tell us where to find this terrible man?"
Romilde looked at Aragorn. He had a kind, gentle face and she imagined that his brother must look the same… So why would anyone want to hurt him? But then, she had only this woman's word to go on and how could she be sure she could trust her? What does she know about anything that affects a girl like me?
she thought. Look at her-rich, beautiful: just look at that gown! And she has a highborn man-thing-who thinks that the sun shines out of her arse. Why should I listen to her?
"If you are worried that you or your friends might need-help-in the future," continued Eowyn, "Prince Imrahil has said that, from now on, girls in need will be treated by the palace healer. There will be no questions, no accusations; they will be treated in complete confidence. They will be safe with the healer, Romilde, and he will not force them to hand over their life savings for the treatment."
"Do you swear it?" asked Romilde.
Eowyn looked at Imrahil, questioningly. After a moment he nodded his assent. "Yes," said Eowyn. "On Prince Imrahil's behalf, I swear it."
"What if they want to keep their babies?" asked Romilde.
"Then they can come to live with us, at Eryn Carantaur-with Prince Imrahil's permission," said Legolas. "We will find them a place to live and light work to do and they can stay with us until they have had their babies and are ready to return here."
Romilde thought for a moment. "Very well," she said, with a conspicuous lack of gratitude. "I will take you to within sight of the shop. But I will not go too close, for I do not want to be seen by the apothecary."
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.