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eowyn and the rogue

“He is tired, Lassui,” said Eowyn.

Legolas looked at the elfling. Melannen had already finished his bread and cheese and, lying on his stomach, was watching a large, black beetle make its laborious way through the long grass. It was pointless trying to explain to Eowyn, yet again, that elflings did not tire like human children. Still, “He likes having you fuss over him, melmenya,” he said, quietly.


“But I cannot blame him for that,” said the elf, smiling. He kissed her hand. “Very well. Rather than drag you both all the way to Eryn Davor, I will go by myself, and you and Melannen can ride straight to the inn. I will meet Gimli, and bring him there.”

“Take care, Lassui.”

The elf laughed. “Come, Melannen,” he said, springing to his feet, “help your Gwanur Eowyn pack up the food and the blanket.” He summoned Arod with a whistle. “I will be as quick as I can, melmenya.”

It was a warm spring day. Fresh young leaves, gilded by sunlight, stirred gently in the blossom-scented breeze. Eowyn lifted Melannen onto Brightstar’s back and, as she led the horse down the Emyn Arnen road, she and the boy played a guessing game.

“I know,” she said, “snake!”


“Swan, then.”

The boy laughed. “There are no swans here.”

“Well, there are no snakes, either—I hope.”

“Do you give in?”


“Sparkle. On your necklace.”

“On my necklace! That is cheating! I cannot see—”

“Gwanur Eowyn,” said Melannen, suddenly, “someone is coming.” He sat up in the saddle and peered into the Forest to the east. “A man.”

Following his gaze, Eowyn spotted a dark, shadowy figure moving towards them, stealthily. “Hold the reins,” she said, softly. “And, if I tell you to ride, make straight for The Four Alls tavern. Do not stop until you reach it. Do you understand?”

“Yes, but—”

“Good boy.” Eowyn laid her hand upon the hilt of her sword and turned to face the stranger. “Good day, sir,” she said, calmly.

“Good day, mistress,” replied the young man, emerging from the trees. He bowed. Then, glancing quickly, right and left, he asked, “Are you travelling alone?”

No, sir,” said Eowyn—and she felt Melannen flinch at the lie but, luckily, the child said nothing—“my husband and his friends are close behind.”

Good.” The man smiled.

Eowyn stared up at him. Though he was dressed like a servant, not a soldier, she could see strength in his lean frame, and something told her that he would be dangerous in a fight, but—with his unruly mop of brown hair and his cheerful, slightly foolish smile—he seemed trustworthy enough, and he was unarmed, except for his sturdy walking staff.

“Well,” she said, “we must press on.” And she heard Melannen sigh with relief, and saw Brightstar’s reins sag as the boy’s little hands relaxed their grip.

“I am on my way to The Four Alls tavern,” said the man. “Perhaps I can walk with you?”

Eowyn could not see that she had any choice. “If you wish.”

He fell into step beside her. “So,” he said, “your husband is an elf.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Your boy.”

“Melannen is not my son,” said Eowyn, softly, “but, yes, my husband is an elf.”

“I must mind my manners, then,” said the man, smiling, “for I do not want to anger an elf.”

“No,” said Eowyn, “you do not.”

The stranger proved good company. By the time they reached The Four Alls, both Eowyn and Melannen were sore from laughing at his outrageous tales about a dashing young outlaw and his band of merry men.

“Here we are, then,” he said, opening the tavern door.

“Welcome, my Lady,” cried the landlord, rushing forward to greet Eowyn. “Is Lord Legolas not with you?”

Eowyn stepped into the familiar parlour, where she and Legolas had spent a very happy Mother Night during their first Yuletide together. “He is following close behind, Master Geruil, with Lord Gimli,” she said, smiling. “They will be here very soon.”

“Well, my Lady, your room is all ready. My wife has gone to market, but she has made up the room opposite yours for the boy—hello, little sir!—would you like to go straight up, or would you prefer something to eat first? There are cold cuts, and potage, and there is some fruit tansy—you could take it in the alcove, over there, by the window…”

“Are you hungry, Melannen?”

The boy nodded.

“We will have potage, Master Geruil—and I am sure we will both find room for some fruit tansy afterwards.” She winked at the elfling. “But we must save some for your Gwanur Legolas, nadithen, or there will be trouble.”

“Please take a seat, my Lady. Norwas will take your bags upstairs—come on boy, Lady Eowyn is waiting!”

Eowyn gave her travelling companion a brief nod before leading Melannen into the alcove. As she helped the child climb up onto the bench, she heard the young man ask, “Is everything ready, landlord?”

“Are you with the lawyers from Caras Arnen?” asked Geruil.

Eowyn did not hear his reply.

“As you can see,” said the landlord—and Eowyn heard him open a door—“the table is set, the wine is uncorked, and the food is waiting in the kitchen.”

“Good,” said the man.

Eowyn settled back in her chair.

“When I grow up,” said Melannen, tapping the table with his spoon, “do you think the outlaw prince will let me join his merry men?”

Eowyn laughed. “The outlaw prince is not real, nadithen,” she said. “The man was just making up stories to amuse you.”

“Here we are—my Lady—little sir,” said Geruil, placing two dishes of potage on the table.

“Thank you,” said Eowyn. “What do you say, nadithen?”

“Thank you, Master Geruil.”

“You are most welcome—”

Landlord!” The young man called impatiently from the doorway of the dining chamber.

“Excuse me,” said Geruil. “Yes, what is it?”

Eowyn smiled at Melannen. “Eat up.”

The child dipped his spoon in the thick soup. “Do you think,” he said, “that Gwanur Legolas will be here soon?”

“Oh, I am sure he will.”

“There is no pipeweed,” said the young man.

“Pipeweed?” Geruil sounded surprised.

“You do have some?”

“A little. In the cellar.”

“Then, please, fetch it—they will be here any minute.”

Eowyn watched the flustered landlord disappear through a door behind the bar, and heard his footsteps descending a flight of wooden stairs.

Moments later, just as the young man had predicted, the important guests arrived—twelve elderly men, all richly but soberly dressed—and, with much obsequiousness—“Please, allow me to take your cloak, good sir,”—the stranger welcomed them, and showed them through to the dining chamber.

“Did you enjoy that, nadithen?”

The child, scraping the last traces of fruit tansy from his dish, nodded.

Eowyn reached for her wineglass, and found it empty. She glanced over to the bar, but Geruil seemed to have disappeared again, no doubt sent on another errand by the officious young man.

“Gwanur Eowyn?”

“Mmm? Yes, Melannen?”

“I said, ‘May I read my book whilst we are waiting for Gwanur Legolas?’”

“Of course you may. Where is it?”

“In my travelling pack.”

“Stay here,” said Eowyn. “I will fetch it for you.”

It took Eowyn a few minutes to unbuckle her sword belt and carefully lay the sword on top of the clothes chest, and then to find the child’s travelling pack, and rummage through his belongings, and find the book, and by the time she returned to the parlour with it, the sounds of ‘Shhh, shhh,’ coming from the dining chamber told her that dinner was over and the speeches were about to begin. But, passing the bar, she heard another, stranger, sound, and stopped to investigate.

The cellar door was locked, and someone on the inside was knocking impatiently. She leaned against the door, calling, “Who is it?”—and, at that moment, she heard the young man’s voice, coming from the dining chamber behind her, say, “Might I trouble you, Masters, to settle your account?”

“Of course, landlord,” replied one of the diners.

Landlord? Now she knew who was locked in the cellar! “Just a moment,” she called to Geruil, searching the bar for the key.

“Here,” said the diner—and Eowyn heard the clink of gold coins in a leather pouch—“and you will find a little extra in there, for your excellent service.”

“Thank you, Masters,” said the young man.

“Stay where you are, Melannen,” cried Eowyn, “do not move!” She ran to the dining chamber door.

The man was in the doorway.

Eowyn took a deep breath, intending to shout a warning to the diners, but the man quickly closed the door behind him and, with one of his cheery smiles, bowed slightly, and pushed past her.

Eowyn followed. “Stop!” she cried. And, to her surprise, he did.

Then he turned, flashing her another smile, and said, calmly, “Well, now, what have we here?” And, reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a band of fine silver, studded with white gems.

Eowyn’s hand went to her throat. “My necklace!”

“You must take more care when talking to strangers, my Lady,” he said. And, with a wink, he tossed it to her, like a child throwing a ball. Up the jewel sailed, in a high, glittering arc, and Eowyn jumped up, and caught it.

And, when she landed, the man had gone.

Gods!” She ran outside, just in time to see the thief’s accomplice ride out of the trees leading a second horse, and the young man leap onto its back, and gallop away, almost colliding with Legolas and Gimli as they approached on Arod.

“Who was that, melmenya?” asked Legolas, as the pair disappeared into the night.

“The outlaw prince,” said Eowyn, “and one of his merry men.”





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Takes place sometime after Winter Magic.

Inspired by a supposedly true story about the eleventh century Englishman, Thomas Dun, told in Stand and Deliver by David Brandon.