Lady vanishes, The: 3. Family secrets

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3. Family secrets

"What do you mean, she has disappeared?" asked Legolas. "When Florestan and I went to visit her, yesterday morning," said Senta, "her husband's uncle, Lord Berodin, said that the couple were travelling, visiting family in Ithilien. But, at supper last night, the palace healer told Florestan that the young man has no wife-he has been confined to his rooms for years, sick of the wasting disease." Eowyn and Legolas exchanged puzzled glances. "You had better tell us everything you know, Senta," said Legolas. "What is the girl's name?" "Lëonórwyn, my lord." "And the boy?" "Just a moment," said Eowyn. "Do you mind if I take notes, Senta?" "No, my lady," said Senta. Legolas set down his wineglass, opened Eowyn's small travelling pack, pulled out her wax tablet, and handed it to her with a smile. "All set?" Eowyn smiled back. "Yes-thank you. Lëonórwyn," she said, inscribing the name on her tablet. "Lord Berodin. And the boy's name?" "Master Berkin, my lady." said Senta. "How did Lëonórwyn come to be in Minas Tirith?" asked Legolas. "Florestan comes from a noble family on his mother's side," said Senta, "but his father was just a poor scholar-" "My uncle's secretary," said Eowyn. "Yes, my lady. Lady Silwyn's-Florestan's mother's-family would have nothing to do with Florestan's father. But Florestan and his sister were sometimes allowed to visit their grandparents, and Lëonórwyn was always her grandfather's favourite. When she was still a child he promised her hand in marriage to Master Berkin. And, when he died, he left her all his fortune." As an elf, Legolas was unfamiliar with the rules of inheritance. "Is that usual?" he asked. "No," said Eowyn. "Different lands have different laws, but in Rohan everything is usually left to the eldest son." And there was more than a trace of bitterness in her voice. "Florestan says he would not have accepted a penny from his grandfather," said Senta. "He says it would have been an insult to the memory of his father." Eowyn nodded. "Presumably," she said, "the inheritance was to be held in trust until Lëonórwyn married?" "Yes-I believe so, my lady," said Senta. Legolas looked at Eowyn, questioningly. "Because women are so foolish and empty-headed," she explained, "even though the fortune nominally belongs to the woman, it remains in the control of her male relatives until she marries. Then it is given to her husband to squander on horses or dogs or mistresses, as he sees fit. And her only hope is for an early widowhood." "Melmenya!" Legolas chided. "Carry on, Senta." "Lëonórwyn set off for Minas Tirith about three months ago, just after her eighteenth birthday," said Senta. "Florestan told me that he wanted to bring her himself, but Eomer King was preparing for the birth of his heir and could not spare him. So, instead, she had an escort of four Rohirrim, her lady's maid and her old nurse. Florestan has not heard from her since she left…" Legolas and Eowyn exchanged glances. "Do you know the names of the Rohirrim who were with her, Senta?" asked Eowyn, softly. "No, my lady, I do not." Eowyn looked at Legolas-almost imperceptibly, Legolas shook his head, Do not tell her just yet. "What do you want us to do, Senta?" he asked. "I do not know, my lord. Florestan is so worried-and he does not where to turn. I just thought-I thought-that if anyone could find Lëonórwyn it would be you and Lady Eowyn…" "Oh, Senta," said Eowyn, softly, leaning forward to touch her hand. "We will certainly do our best." … "Eomer," said Aragorn, quietly. "I have some bad news." Eomer rose from fire and followed Aragorn to the mouth of the cave. Aragorn held out the glove. Eomer took it, examined it carefully, and frowned. "This is familiar," he said, "I believe it was made by my own glove maker. Where did you get it?" "Orin-the stable lad-found the body of a young woman outside in the snow-she was wearing it," said Aragorn. Eomer stared at him, then looked back at the glove. "By the gods, yes," he said, "my secretary's sister-I gave these gloves, and a pair of riding boots, to Florestan's sister as a wedding present. Where is she lying?" Aragorn turned to Orin. "She is in a deep snow drift, beside the rock wall, your Majesty, a few yards hence," said the stable boy, bowing. "I think I can find her again-" But Aragorn shook his head. "No. It is already dark and the wind has risen once more. Conditions outside are treacherous. A few more hours in the snow will not hurt her now. I suggest we wait until morning." … "Where do we start?" asked Eowyn, after Senta had left. Legolas shook his head. "I have no idea, melmenya." "Was I wrong to say yes?" "No, Eowyn nín. What else could you have said?" "That we had no idea what to do," said Eowyn. Legolas took her in his arms. "Arwen is waiting for us, melmenya. We can discuss this whilst we bathe." "Hmmm," said Eowyn, "we can seldom talk when we bathe…" "Well you will have to control yourself, Eowyn," said Legolas, lifting her off the bed and carrying her into the bathing room. "I will have to control myself?" "You are an insatiable woman, meleth nín." "You are an elf-" Legolas laughed. "Irresistible to women," he said, lifting her into the water and climbing in beside her, "through no fault of my own." Eowyn pursed her lips. I cannot argue with that, she thought. She began unbraiding his hair. "How long should it have taken Lëonórwyn to reach Minas Tirith?" she asked. "It is about four hundred and fifty miles… So, at between ten and twenty miles a day," said Legolas, "she should have been here more than a month ago." "The body we found had not been dead that long." "No-but it must surely be connected with her disappearance. Unless someone is lying in wait for Rohirrim?" Eowyn rubbed a small amount of soft, scented soap between her hands and began massaging it into Legolas' hair. "We need to know whether Banduil was part of her escort," said Eowyn. "We need to talk to Florestan." "Mmmmm," said Legolas. "And we need to find out more about this Lord Berodin and his nephew-perhaps we can talk to somebody at the banquet tonight," she added. "And we need to find out whether the girl had any reasons of her own to disappear-" "Harder," said Legolas. "What? Oh…" Eowyn pressed her fingertips against his scalp. Legolas sighed with pleasure. "You have not been listening to a word I have said," she complained. "Yes I have," said Legolas. "We will talk to Florestan before we join Arwen-and she may know something about Berodin." Eowyn carefully rinsed the soap out of his hair. "Will you wash mine?" she asked. Legolas smiled. "With pleasure, melmenya," he said. … "She was to have married a man of Minas Tirith," said Eomer. He shook his head. "I cannot remember his name, but their families have a trading agreement." Aragorn sighed. "They trade horses?" he asked. "Yes," said Eomer. "Wild horses-from the Downs-noble animals distantly descended from the Mearas. I have tried to end the trade, but the agreement was approved by Helm-and there is nothing I can do. Do you know the Gondorian family?" "I have heard of them," said Aragorn, "unfortunately." … Florestan was surprised to see them. "Come in, Lord Legolas, Princess Eowyn," he said, showing them into Eomer's apartment. "Please, sit down-I am afraid that Eomer King is still out hunting-and with the weather as it is I think he has probably taken shelter for the night. Queen Lothiriel and Prince Elfwine are visiting Queen Arwen." "It is you we have come to see, Florestan," said Eowyn. "I do not understand, my lady…" "Senta told us about your sister, Florestan," said Legolas, "and asked us if we would help you find her." "She should not have troubled you, my lord," said Florestan. "She is worried about you, Florestan," said Eowyn. "And…" she glanced at Legolas for guidance-Legolas nodded. "We think we may already be involved," she said. "On our way here we found the body of a man hidden in the ruins of Osgiliath. I recognised him as one of Eomer's riders." Florestan turned to Eowyn, alarmed. "Who was he, my lady?" he asked. "His name was Banduil-" Florestan sprang to his feet. "Oh gods!" he cried. "He was part of your sister's escort?" asked Legolas. "Yes! Yes!" cried Florestan. He walked over to the window and gripped the sill. "I knew it! I knew I should have brought her myself!" "Florestan," said Eowyn gently, "Legolas searched the area very thoroughly and found no other bodies. There is still hope that your sister is safe. Will you let us help you look for her?" "Oh, my lady!" said Florestan, turning towards her. "I am so sorry. I am behaving like a oaf." He lifted his hands to his face and took a deep breath. "I would be very grateful for your help, my lord, my lady," he said. "Do you mind if we ask you some questions?" asked Eowyn. "No, my lady," said Florestan, coming back to sit opposite her, "please do." Eowyn took out her wax tablet, and thought for a moment. "Senta told us that your grandfather arranged your sister's marriage," she said. "Do you know why he chose Master Berkin?" "I believe the two families have trading links, my lady. But I did not know my grandfather very well…" "How did Lëonórwyn feel about the marriage?" Florestan hesitated. "I do not think she would have chosen to leave Edoras, my lady," said Florestan, "but she and her husband-to-be had been corresponding for a while and he seemed like a good sort. I would say that she accepted it. Yes, she was resigned to it." "Did her fortune travel with her?" "The plate and jewellery went with her, my lady. But the bloodstock is still in Rohan. And much of her fortune is tied up in property-" "From which she will receive regular rents?" "Yes, my lady, and tithes." "Tithes?" asked Legolas. "Once a year," said Eowyn, "her tenants must pay her one tenth of whatever they produce. It is a sort of tax." "That is a heavy burden," said Legolas. Eowyn nodded. "Life is hard for a peasant," she said. She turned back to Florestan. "So Lëonórwyn is a wealthy woman. Did she leave a sweetheart behind in Edoras?" "I-I really do not know, my lady. She did not confide such things to me…" "But you have your suspicions?" "I know that one of the men chosen to escort her was sweet on her, my lady, but whether Lëonórwyn returned his feelings-I do not know." "What is his name?" asked Eowyn. "Eowulf, my lady." Eowyn made a note. "I know him-he is an honourable man. Who were the other riders?" "There was Banduil, my lady; and Theodort, son of Halael; and Ailhard, son of Ailhart. Then there was Lëonórwyn's lady's maid, Rosemant, and her nurse, Mistress Amarri. Gods, if they are all dead!" He shook his head and buried his face in his hands. Eowyn leaned forward and laid her hand on his arm. "When did they leave Edoras?" asked Legolas, gently. "On the twentieth day of Ivanneth, my lord," said Florestan. "Just over three months ago." "Do you know which route they planned to take?" "Along the highway from Edoras to Minas Tirith." "They did not intend to make any detours on the way?" "No, my lord, not that I know of." Legolas nodded. "How will we find her, my lord?" asked Florestan. Legolas looked at Eowyn. She was deep in thought. "At this moment, I do not know, Florestan," he said. "But we will think of something-" "Servants!" said Eowyn. "Melmenya?" "Servants know everything." She began to rise to her feet. "No melmenya!" cried Legolas, placing his hand on her knee, "you must not stand!" "But it is so hard to think sitting down," said Eowyn, in frustration. "Very well-if Lord Berodin lied to Florestan about his nephew's whereabouts to cover up Lëonórwyn's disappearance-" "Then he knows something about it-he may even have been responsible for it," said Legolas, following her train of thought. Eowyn nodded. "Yes. And whatever he knows about it, his servants know as well. So what we need to do is talk to the servants." She smiled. "A dishonourable man has dishonourable servants-or else servants who are badly treated. Either way, we should be able to bribe them. We just need to think of a way of approaching them without Lord Berodin's knowing." … The problem preoccupied Eowyn all through the hour she and Legolas spent with Arwen and all through dinner-so that she failed to notice that Legolas seemed to be flirting with the handsome woman on his right. And she was still oblivious as Legolas carried her back to their apartments. "Melmenya?" "Hmm?" "I said, at least now we know how we can talk with Lord Berodin's servants." Eowyn sat up in his arms, startled. "We do?" "Oh! Careful, melmenya!" He settled her back against his chest. "Were you not listening?" "I-no, I was thinking…" Legolas laughed, and kissed her cheek. "The charming Lady Emliet," he said, referring to the woman who had been sitting beside him at dinner, "-who, incidentally, seems to be a reliable source of information on all the noble families of Gondor-tells me that, since the death of our friend's wife, his household has been most disorderly. And that half his servants squander their time and money in the Golden Goose tavern on Cocks Alley. Which is, incidentally, a notorious stew. And Aragorn should have closed it down years ago to preserve the health and morals of all the men of Minas Tirith." Eowyn hugged him tightly. "Legolas!" she cried, "you are a genius!" Then she said, "It is a pity Berryn is not with us." "Berryn! Why melmenya?" "Because he is a man." "I do not understand." "He could walk into the tavern without arousing any suspicion. Whereas an elf or a dwarf-or a woman with no feet-" "You are not going in there, melmenya," said Legolas, firmly. "Why ever not? I might make us some money. You could pose as my pimp-" Legolas made a strange, unelven sound, almost like a dwarven battle cry. "I am serious, Eowyn!" … "You must take Haldir and Gimli in there with you," said Eowyn as Legolas laid her on the bed. "There is safety in numbers. Dínendal is far too unworldly-he would set up a healing room for the women and we would never get him home. And Florestan is too emotional at present. But perhaps you could take Eomer-and Faramir too…" "Lothiriel would never allow Eomer to visit a brothel, melmenya. Besides, he is too-too-big-" "Big?" "Obvious. With all that hair. And I cannot take Faramir, either." "Why not?" Legolas raised his eyebrows. "We are not asking him to sleep with anyone, Legolas," said Eowyn. "Just to talk to them. And Faramir is very good at talking to women." "It would be better if I went in alone," he said, helping her out of her beautiful red gown. "No-no, as I said, there is safety in numbers. On your own you would look suspicious, but with companions you will just look as if you are having a drunken adventure-even if somebody recognises you, it will look innocent. Besides, Gimli has a gift for making unlikely friends, and-" "What does that mean?" Eowyn smiled. "And Haldir will distract the women-give them something to look at-" Legolas shot her a suspicious glance. "And you promise you will not try to follow us, melmenya?" he asked. Eowyn sighed. "I promise," she said, slipping out of her shift. "But on one condition." "What is that?" asked Legolas. She reached behind him and began unlacing the broad red sash around his waist. "That you make me scream…" she whispered. … "Please…" Eowyn whimpered. "Shhhhh." Slowly, he withdrew, inch by tortuous inch, every part of his penis stroking every part of her swollen inner flesh. He paused, smiling down at her, then gradually entered her again. "I cannot bear it…" "Yes you can, melmenya," he whispered, kissing her face. "You can bear it, for me." "No…" "Yes, my darling." He drew himself out of her again, and paused. "I love you," he whispered, then slowly, oh so slowly, he entered her again, his penis filling her, pushing deep inside her, pressing against her womb. And he held himself there. "Oh gods, no…" She arched beneath him, desperate to release the pressure he had built in her, but terrified of the spirit-wrenching orgasm she knew would follow. But then he reached down between them and gently brushed her with his fingertips and she was given no choice. … Eomer sighed. What would otherwise have been a very pleasant night-sharing good food and ale and tall stories around the fire with his hunting companions-had been turned into an interminable vigil by the discovery of Florestan's poor sister. What in Middle Earth had happened to her? And what had happened to the escort he had sent with her? He peered out of the cave mouth. A faint glow was appearing over the horizon-it would soon be dawn. And-thank the gods-it had stopped snowing. Eomer turned to Aragorn. "Let us go and find her," he said. Aragorn nodded. "Orin," he called softly. The stable boy, also awake, sprang immediately to his feet and bowed, hastily. "Take us to the lady," said Aragorn. Orin led them out of the cave and, keeping close to the cliff face, tried to retrace his steps of the previous night. "I left the buckets behind, your Majesty," he said, "so it should be easy to find her, but there is so much more snow now." He looked around. "It was near here, I think, next to the-oh!" He tripped and fell, full length. "Be careful, your Majesty," he said, pushing himself up on his knees and wiping the snow from his face, "that was one of my buckets. She must be here…" He pulled the bucket out of the snow and-very carefully-began digging with it. Eomer retrieved the other bucket and joined him. "Oh, gods," said Orin softly, "here, your Majesty, I have found her." He dropped the bucket and began scraping the snow away with his hands. "Tup a duck!" he suddenly exclaimed. Then, "Sorry, your Majesty-" "What is it?" asked Eomer, peering over his shoulder. "It is another one," said Orin. "A man in armour." Eomer looked up at Aragorn. "One of the riders who escorted her," he said. "We will need some help." … Legolas took one last look at Middle Earth. How he would miss it! The mountains of Gondor, the plains of Rohan, the beloved trees of Eryn Carantaur. But it was all in safe hands. Eldarion would carry on his father's work with wisdom and honour. Elfwine King had been ruling Rohan in peace and prosperity for many years. And his own son had taken over the guardianship of Eryn Carantaur, with the help of Lord Fingolfin and Lord Caranthir. "Are you ready, my love?"asked a voice beside him. He nodded. "Are you ready?" he replied. "I have said my good byes," she said. "And though I shall miss Meldon every moment of every day, I know that he will join us when it is his time." Then she added, in a whisper, "Haldir is growing impatient and I think Gimli is getting tired, Lassui." "Of course," he said. "Let us go." And he took Eowyn's small, smooth hand upon his own, elven fashion, and led her down the steps and along the quay, and onto the grey ship. … After almost an hour of careful digging, Eomer, Orin, and two of the huntsman, had uncovered the bodies of Florestan's sister, the rider, and a another man. Reverently, Eomer laid a blanket over each body. "Theodort, son of Halael," he said, "and Ailhard, son of Ailhart-forgive me, I sent you both to dishonourable deaths. Lady Lëonórwyn-your life should have been blessed with a husband and children..." Aragorn placed a hand on his shoulder. Eomer looked up at him. "If the others are also here," he said, "we will not find them until the snow thaws." Aragorn shook his head. "No," he agreed. "We will take these bodies back to Minas Tirith and I will instruct the Gondorian Guard to search for the others as soon as conditions permit." "Do you think they froze to death?" asked Eomer. "I have seen no obvious wounds," said Aragorn. "But we will ask the royal healer to examine them. And if there is any sign of foul play, the Gondorian Guard will investigate." … Legolas awoke late. He had been dreaming again-something about Eowyn-something that had filled him with so much joy he wanted to sing-but he could not remember it. Should he tell her about the dreams? He rolled onto his side and looked at her. She was already wide-awake, and the radiant smile she was giving him promised something very, very wicked. Legolas decided that the dreams could wait until later. He reached for her- And someone rapped at the door. "Sweet Eru! Perfect timing, as ever!" cried Legolas. He threw on his dressing robe, pulling it closed across the front of his body, and opened the door. "Yes?" The servant bowed nervously. "Master Halmant sends word that King Elessar has returned, my lord, and awaits you, with the King of Rohan, Prince Faramir, and Lord Gimli, in his study." Legolas sighed. "Thank you." He closed the door. "Come melmenya," he said, "it seems we are wanted." … "You took your time," said Eomer, turning towards the door. "By the gods! What is wrong with you?" "It is nothing, Eomer, just a few cuts on my feet," said Eowyn, as Legolas set her down on a couch by the fire. "Do not fuss." "Those are honourable wounds," said Gimli, "received protecting Legolas from an extremely nasty creature that was trying to break his neck. Very useful in a tight spot is your sister, Eomer," he added. "She saved me from a stampeding warg…" Eomer looked pointedly at Legolas. I will speak to you later. "It is good to see you Legolas, Eowyn," said Aragorn, clasping Legolas' shoulders and giving Eowyn a brief bow of the head. "We are both very pleased to be here," said Legolas, returning his embrace. "But I assume that Gimli has told you of the body we found in the ruins of Osgiliath?" he added. "Yes," said Aragorn. "He said that Eowyn recognised him." "It was Banduil, son of Falemi," said Eowyn to Eomer. "He had been shot in the back. Florestan told us that he was one of the riders who escorted his sister to Minas Tirith, but-fortunately-we found no sign of her or of the rest of her party, so we assume that they…" She noticed that Eomer and Aragorn were exchanging glances. "What is it?" she asked. "This morning, we found the bodies of Lëonórwyn and two of the other riders," said Eomer. "No!" cried Eowyn. Legolas sat down beside her, took her hand, and pressed it gently. "Have you told Florestan?" he asked. "Yes," said Eomer. "How is he taking it?" "Badly," said Eomer. "Very badly…" "How did she die?" asked Eowyn. "We do not know yet," said Aragorn. "I have asked the royal healer to examine all three bodies-" "If Master Dínendal can be of any assistance," said Legolas, "I am sure he would be happy to help." "Thank you, mellon nín," said Aragorn. "Since the man you found was clearly murdered, and by a Gondorian archer, I will be instructing the Gondorian Guard to investigate." "There is still one rider missing," said Eowyn. "And the two women." Eomer nodded. "They may still be buried in the snow. We will not know until the thaw…" "We will send out search parties as soon as possible," said Aragorn. "As for the Yuletide celebrations, Eomer-" "They must continue, of course," said Eomer. "No one would expect you to cancel rites intended to ensure the future prosperity of your people. It would be seen as a bad omen." … "Would you mind if I spent a few hours in the archery practice hall, melmenya?" asked Legolas as he carried Eowyn back to their apartment. "I need to clear my head…" "Of course not," said Eowyn. "But can I come too? I like watching you." Legolas smiled. "I would enjoy your company Eowyn nín-it is a pity you did not bring your bow, or I could have taught you how to shoot from a sitting position." "Of course I brought my bow-and my sword! I would never travel without them." Legolas hugged her. "Then let us fetch it, melmenya, and perhaps we can put this terrible business from our minds for a short while." … "Once more, melmenya," said Legolas. He was crouching beside her, with his right hand on her back, to make sure that she was using the correct muscles. "You are a slave driver," said Eowyn, drawing her bow. Legolas laughed. "Yes, that is much better. Remember how that feels-and tomorrow we will progress to shooting…" "Can I join you?" asked a familiar voice, from behind them. "Certainly, March Warden," said Legolas, "best of fifty?" Eowyn smiled. She had no idea why Haldir still bothered to compete. But perhaps he thinks that, one day, he will win, she thought. "Will you be alright melmenya?" asked Legolas. "Of course I will-go ahead." Eowyn watched Legolas' graceful body, working with a perfect blend of power and precision, as he loosed all fifty arrows without a moment's hesitation. It is so-erotic, she thought, smiling. If all women were to watch their husbands practice the bow-or the sword-the average marriage bed would be a far livelier place- "May I have a word, my lady? With you and Lord Legolas-in private?" Eowyn turned towards the newcomer. "Florestan," she said, "I am so sorry-" "The thing is, my lady," said Florestan, leaning towards her and speaking very quietly, "the woman lying in the House of Healing is not my sister." … Apparently, mediaeval brothels were often located on streets with names like Cocks Lane, Sluts Hole, and Gropecunt Lane. Somehow, I couldn't imagine anything quite so coarse as the last two passing Legolas' beautiful lips… but I thought that Cocks Alley sounded more colourful (and disreputable) than Cocks Lane. I took the name Meldon from a wonderful essay at http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/elfnam.htm called Now we have all got elvish names. It is given as an Elvish equivalent of David, which means 'beloved'.

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.

Story Information

Author: ningloreth

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 4th Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 01/14/11

Original Post: 07/24/04

Go to Lady vanishes, The overview

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