You have another patient, Master Dínendal,
said Haldir, holding the door open.
Two border guards carried a sleeping elf into the Healing Room
and carefully laid him on one of the beds; the March Warden dismissed
them with a nod.
We found him, he continued, on the road to
Pelargir. I have no idea how long he had been lying there.
He sat down, heavily. And there are reports of others,
he added, quietly.
Where? Dínendal bent over the sleeping elf,
and gently lifted each of his eyelids.
Three between here and Doro Lanthron, two more on the Pelargir
So, in a straight line, with Lord Legolas somewhere near
Haldir frowned. Yes, more or less.
The healer nodded. I have been speaking to Lord Fingolfinas
you know, he is well-versed in Mannish lore.
It seems that Men believe this condition is not a disease,
but an affliction.
The healer sat down beside him. Usually, when a disease
spreads, he explained, one person passes it to many,
and each of the many passes it on to many more. If you were to
trace the path the disease has taken, it would look like the branches
of a vast tree. Do you see?
But this condition is spreading in a straight line.
So, said Haldir, one person, travelling east
to west across the colony, is giving it to the people he meets
along the way.
Yes. But those people are not passing it on.
Because it is not a disease.
It is some other affliction.
What is he doing to them?
I have no idea.
Then I will follow the path, said Haldir, rising,
and find out.
No! Dínendal caught the March Wardens
arm. We know that contact with him is dangerous.
Not as dangerous as his contact with me will
Since taking the Elven locket, the pedlar had grown used to ignoring
its seductive call, but nowas he stuffed his latest victims
meagre wealth into his pocket, and his fingers brushed its cold
edgescuriosity suddenly overcame him.
He took it out and, with long, dexterous fingers, pressed its
The locket sprang open, and its contents were revealed.
The pedlars cry was terribleworse than the wail of
stag, pierced through the heart by an arrow; worse than the screech
of a fox, trapped in its mateand he fell to the ground,
clutching his breast.
It was many minutes before he was able to move.
When, at last, he did, it was only to grope for his pack, find
one of the crystal bottles, wrench out its stopper, and gulp down