They followed Estmonds directions, and reached Nan Arnen
after a further day and a halfs travel, having spent the
night huddled in an empty sheep pen, whereironicallyonly
Eowyn, warm and comfortable in Legolas arms, had slept.
Nan Arnen was a narrow gorge, winding deep into the southern
slopes of Emyn Arnen. This is where, said Eowyn,
giving voice to everyones surprise, in the shadow
world, my double had her command post!*
The friends dismounted and, leading the horses, filed quietly
up the twisting path.
On the plateau, instead of a jumble of tents and wooden sheds,
they found a gaping hole in the cliff wall, defended either
side by crumbling stone piers that had once supported massive
They approached cautiously.
The state of the outbuildingswith their roofs and walls
collapsed and overgrown, their doorways choked, and everything
smothered in a thick blanket of unblemished snowseemed
to confirm that the mine had been disused for at least as long
as Estmond had claimed, though a clear, if indirect, path into
the tunnel suggested that the place was not entirely
It is a perfect hideout, said Haldir.
Which is presumably what the mysterious man meant when
he said he had family living here, Legolas
agreed. He scanned the slopes on all sides of the plateau. No
decent folk live here.
Eowyn set Brightstar grazing with a quiet Avo visto.
Are we going inside? she asked.
Gimli led the way, taking a torch from one of the wall-brackets,
and lighting it with a spark from his tinderbox.
He held it aloft.
What do you think, Elvellon? asked Legolas, with
an elfs natural distrust of underground spaces. Is
Built to last, replied the dwarf, patting one of
the thick wooden beams that lined the walls. It is not
the roof collapsing we need fear in here.
They inched forward slowly, giving Gimli a chance to get the
lie of the land. After a few hundred yards, he stopped suddenly
and, lowering the torch, pointed it at a strange-looking bundle,
propped against the wall.
Eowyn moved closer. Oh, gods...
Covering her mouth and nose with one hand, she crouched beside
the pile of rags and, drawing out her hunting knife, examined
it, gingerly using her blade to lift its covering and expose
the withered corpse beneath. Do you think this is the
man? she whispered, from behind her fingers.
I think, said Legolas, leaning over her shoulder,
that this poor fellow has been dead for considerably longer
than three years, melmenya.
He reached down, drew a broken arrow from the corpses
chest and, holding it up in the light of Gimlis torch,