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the road


Part 5

“Can it be true?” asked Eowyn, as they descended the stairs.

“No,” said Legolas. “It is a cruel ruse, melmenya, meant to terrify their victims and discourage them from fighting back, and it must be stopped.” He approached Haldir and Sighard, who were still eating. “Buckle on your sword, Master Sighard. We leave immediately.”

The man leaped to his feet and, filling his mouth with a last spoonful of stew, gathered up his sword and greatcoat, whilst his wife wrapped a loaf of bread and some cheese in a cloth, and stuffed the parcel into his saddle bag.

Eowyn, standing in the shadow of the staircase, remembered the ring she had found outside the wise women’s hut, and brought her hand up to where it lay, inside her corslet. “Lassui...”

Legolas sent Haldir to fill the water skins. “What is it, melmenya?”

“I...” Suddenly fearing that he might take it from her, she changed her mind. “Nothing. It can wait.”

Legolas took her hand. “You know that there is no one I would rather have fighting by my side,” he said, quietly. “But the weather is deteriorating, my darling, and I know you will feel the cold more than we will. If you would rather go home with the boy—”

“Never! You know that I will stay with you,” she said.

He kissed her forehead.


As they watched Sig-lad run off into the woods, Sighard reassured his wife that the boy, travelling in the opposite direction, would be safe from the reivers. Then he embraced her, and bade her farewell but, as they drew apart, Mother Cynwise appeared behind them, tottering through the doorway.

“Oh, no, Nana,” said Haldir, taking her gently by the arm. “You must stay here, with Mistress Edyð, until Ayleth returns...”

The old woman refused to budge.

Briefly lucid, she fixed her sightless eyes on Legolas, and cried, “Beware the sword in your heart, Legolas of Eryn Carantaur! Remember! Beware the sword!”