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Part 18

One after another, they climbed the rope until they reached the arrow, which was lodged above a shallow ledge scarcely broad enough for the three climbers to rest upon.

Bors hauled himself onto the rock, shuffled to one side, and sat with his head in his hands, breathing heavily. Arthur, sitting beside him, watched Legolas pull the arrow from its cleft—as easily as if the stone had been butter.

“All right,” said Arthur, “now that has to be sorcery.”

Legolas shook his head, smiling. “Elves have command of their weapons in ways that humans do not, your Highness, but it is not sorcery.” He nocked the arrow again and, bracing his legs, raised the bow above his head, parallel to the cliff face, drew, and loosed.

The arrow streaked upwards, carrying the elven rope another two hundred yards closer to the dragon’s lair.


They had been climbing for hours, zig-zagging from one perilous, crumbling ledge to another perilous, crumbling ledge, but the elf—Arthur noticed—was showing no signs of the fatigue—Or, he thought, let’s face it, the fear—that was wearing down him and Bors.

He came to the end of the rope and, clinging to it with one clammy hand and two tired legs, he reached for the safety of the rock—missed it—swung forward, and banged his head on the ledge.

The cliff and the night sky suddenly changed places as his feet lost their grip and his head rolled back, and only his left hand, locked in a death grip around the flimsy rope, stopped him from falling thousands of feet to his death.

For hours (it seemed), he swung in the breeze like a pair of freshly-laundered under-hose.

Then a strong elven hand closed around his wrist, and he felt himself being lifted bodily until his knees crashed onto the rocky shelf, and Sir Bors threw his arms around him, and pulled him to safety.

“Thank you,” he gasped, crawling forwards, with his rump in the air. “And thank you, Sir Elf. I believe,”—he let out a huge breath—“that that more than makes us even.”