Mistress Livildas neighbours confirmed that none of them
had bought the djinns lamp, and Legolas decided that the
friends should immediately press on, in the hope of closing
the gap between themselves and the knight still further.
I know the man who lives beside the bridge at Ress Arnen,
said Haldir, His name is Estmond. I am sure that, tonight,
he will let us sleep under his roof.
You know these people well, said Eowyn, with admiration.
The outlying settlements are my responsibility, as March
Warden, he replied. And these are Ayleths
people, he added. They respect her, and they accept
me because of her.
As they left Sad Dholt, Eowyn urged Brightstar forward, and
fell in beside Legolas and Gimli on Arod. It sounds,
she said, as though this knight is not the demon you feared.
No, Legolas admitted. It seems not, melmenya...
And yet, he added, thoughtfully, for whatever reason,
Eowyn nín, he seems to trail turmoil behind him like
a velvet cloak.
It was dark by the time they reached Ress Arnen.
Haldirs friend seemed genuinely pleased to have company,
and insisted that they share a meal with him before they retired.
The friends asked him their usual questions, and Estmond was
only too happy to talk, confirming that the knight had crossed
the bridge early that morning.
He stopped here, and asked me, he said, whether
I remembered seeing a man and a woman ride by, about three or
four years ago.
I told him that I did remember, and that it was three
years not four, and that I knew that for a fact, because
it was the day my wife left me and went back to her parents.
He shrugged, resignedly. I told him that the man had asked
me the way to the salt mine
The salt mine? Legolas interrupted.
Yes. Theres an old salt mine up at Nan Arnen, though
it hasnt been working since Beregond was Steward of Gondor.
The man said he had family thereabouts. I said I didnt
know if anyone was still living up there, but he was on the
Legolas glanced at the others.
Did the womanthe one that rode bysay anything
to you? asked Eowyn.
Estmond shook his head. The knight asked me that, tooand
he asked whether she seemed frightenedbut, to tell the
truth, my Lady, I couldnt answer him. She was all bundled
up. I never saw her face.
How did the knight react when you told him that?
Estmond shrugged. He was a man of few words, if you get
my meaning, but I think he was worried... Yes, Im sure
he was worried.
Eowyn nodded, thoughtfully.
Oh... Estmond rose, fetched a small object from
the dresser, and laid it on the table. Youll probably
want to see this, he said.
It was a silver buckle.
He traded with you, said Legolas. What did
A bag of corn, said Estmond, sitting down again.
I offered him a loaf, and some biscuit, and a pouch of
dried beef, but he said, no, it was just the corn he needed.
Ress ... Ravine
Nan ... Valley