Talking his way into the healing rooms
proved surprisingly easy.
The guards at the bottom of the staircase were
no problem: they waved Wolfram past, wishing Lady Eowyn well.
The two men outside the door were more cautious, but even they
were convinced by the emblem of the White Tree on his breast.
Wolfram opened the door to the mens healing room, stepped
inside and looked around.
The room was quite dark. The elf lay sleeping on the bed, with
the woman beside him, holding his hand and talking softly. Wolfram
had never really looked at them beforenever noticed their
beauty, never witnessed their love for each other.
But, looking at them now...
Who do they think they are? he thought. Beautiful,
powerful, rich beyond beliefthe gold on that bloody
gown alone would keep me in food for a year.
They deserve everything that is coming to them.
Legolas had tried again and again to let her know that he could
He knew what she had done, his brave Shieldmaiden, to protect
him and, in his minds eye, he smiled proudlythough
his mouth would not moveand he tried once more to squeeze
She was telling him about an idea she had had for their garden:
a canopied bed where they could sleep beneath the stars during
the warmer months, and even, perhaps, during the colder months
if she had warm bedclothes. She laughed. "You should have
chosen yourself a wife who does not feel the cold," she said,
knowing full well how he would have replied to that if he could
Oh! How he longed to hold her, kiss her, make love to her! The
moment I can move again, he thought, I shall ravish her!
And it was while Legolas was planning this adventure that he heard
the door open and was immediately struck by the same malevolence
he had felt just before he had been attacked.
Eowyn, he tried to shout, Eowyn nín, take care! But his
lips could not form the words. He tried to squeeze her handtried
so hard that he would have crushed her bones if he could have
movedbut his body would not respond.
"The Queen of Gondor has sent you a syllabub, my lady,"
he heard someone say.
"Thank you," said Eowyn, still smiling down at Legolas.
"Please put it over there."
Eowyn, Eowyn, meleth nín! Legolas screamed.
But he was forced to watch helplessly as a figure suddenly loomed
behind his beloved, and struck her, and she fell forward, senseless,
onto his chest.
She was far lighter than the half-elf, but she would still be
Wolfram opened the healing room window and looked out. The
gods do favour the brave! he thought, for there was a broad
ledge running from beneath the window to one of the corner towers.
What are these idiots thinking of when they build a castle?
All Wolfram would have to was climb up the tower onto the roof
and enter through one of the skylights, then he could use his
normal route, through the privy shaft, to get out! Yes, the woman
would be a burden, especially climbing up the tower, but she was
worth at least two thousand gold piecesand if it became
a matter of life or death, he would simply drop her.
Wolfram walked over to the bed, andtaking a short length
of rope from his pockettied the womans wrists together.
Then he ducked his head between her arms and stood, hauling her
up onto his back, like a sack. Not as heavy as I feared,
I may yet see my two thousand in gold...
He turned to climb out of the window, and felt an intense wave
of anger, coming from the sleeping elf!
"It seems you know I am here, elf-boy!" he said. "Well,
let me tell you: I have your woman and I want two thousand gold
pieces for her. I will send you instructions tomorrow. But in
the meantime, I think I will have some fun with her myself. I
have seen her riding youwhat a passionate bitch she is!and,
who knows, she may appreciate being ridden by a man."
Gimli had only slipped out for a moment.
He had told Eowyn that he needed to answer natures
call but once outside the mens healing room, he had
searched for Master Dínendal.
"That elf has changed colour," he said to the healer,
when he found him at Senta's bedside. "I do not know if it
is good or bad, but I have never seen the lad so flushed, so I
thought you ought to give him a look. I did not want to worry
the lady," he added.
Dínendal took a few minutes to ensure that Senta was comfortable
before following Gimli to the mens room.
But, as the dwarf reached for the door latch, a terrifying scream
burst from the room beyond, freezing his hand in mid air.
who knows, she may appreciate being ridden by a man,"
said the wretch, and he disappeared from Legolas line of
vision, taking Eowyn with him.
Do not touch her! shouted Legolas, silently. Bring
her back! Bring her back to me! If you hurt her I will kill you!
If you frighten her I will kill you! There is nothing I will not
do to you! I will rip off your ballocks and burn them in front
of you! I will saw off your member and make you swallow it! I
will cut off your head and piss in your skull! There is nothing
I will not do to you if you hurt her, nothing! I hunt you down
with the last of my life and I WILL SHOW YOU NO MERCY!
"I WILL SLAY YOU, YOU GODLESS BALROG! I WILL SLAY YOU!"
he screamed, forcing his way back into wakefulness.
"I do not know how you have beaten the elfsbane," said
Dínendal to Legolas. "It is a miracle. But I cannot
allow you to leave the healing room. You must get some healing
"Aragorn! Faramir!" cried Legolas, entreating their
support. "Imrahil! I must find her! I must! I must bring
her back. She will be so scared..."
"Legolas" began Aragorn, soothingly.
"I WANT HER BACK!"
His four friends stared at him, speechless. None of them had
ever seen the elf so out of control, not even before the Gates
"Calm down, lad, you do not want a relapse," said Gimli,
patting his hand. "She is a brave lady"
"This is not a battle, Gimli. This is something far worse.
This is all her deepest fears coming to pass. She will be so frightened."
He climbed out of bed and shrugged on his jerkin. Only Dínendal
made any move to stop him, and even the healer quickly thought
better of it. "I cannot bear to think of how frightened she
must betell them, Faramir; tell them what Wormtongue tried
to do to her; tell them how he scared her. And thisthis
orc plans to do the same. It would tear her spirit from
her body. We must get her away from him!"
"Legolas is right," said Faramir, gravely, "we
cannot risk leaving her with this fiend. Wormtongue"
The healing room door flew open. "Is it true? IS IT TRUE?"
"Yes, Eomer," sighed Imrahil. "I am afraid the
villain has taken your sister."
"Then what are you all waiting for?"
"They have been trying to keep me in the healing room,"
said Legolas, strapping on his quiver and white knives. "But
now you are here, Eomer, I want to use your dogs to follow Eowyns
Wolfram was ecstatic. He had emerged from the castle drain in
less than an hour, with the woman, still in a swoon, on his back.
He dumped her on the ground and squatted beside her, thinking.
In this painless state he could carry more, climb better, run
fasterall with no extra effort. The anodyne had given him
more than a respite from pain. It had virtually turned him into
He needed to take his next dose in about three quarters of an
hour, and he could think of only one place to go. He lifted the
woman into his arms and, carrying her like a lover so as not to
draw too much attention to himself, he set off for Herzogs
"You should return to the castle," said Haldir. "You
must have been on watch for twelve hours."
"Nearer thirteen," said Brenal, "and not for the
first time, I might add! I can stay a while longer. This is a
job for two peopleone to watch, the other to make sure the
watcher stays awake."
"Elves do not need as much sleep as humans," said Haldir,
"No, I am sure you do not," said Brenal, a hint of
laughter in his voice.
Haldir looked at him sharply. "Men never cease to surprise
Brenal pointed through the window. "Look!"
Haldir peered through the distorted glass. A smallish man, carrying
a woman in his arms, was walking down the alley. He stopped outside
the apothecarys door and knocked.
"I think I know that woman," said Brenal, leaning forward
to get a better look. "She used to be married to Prince Faramir.
It is Princess"
"Eowyn!" cried Haldir. "By the gods I will kill
that orc! If he has harmed one single hair on her head I will
rip his throat outgo and fetch help, Master Brenal. Quickly."
Haldir leaped to his feet and ran downstairs, into the alley,
leaving Brenal wondering whether to follow him.
Herzog was not pleased.
"What possessed you to bring her here, you fool? I told
you they are watching the shop"
As if on cue, someone began pounding loudly at the back door.
"Take her upstairs and out through the skylight," said
Herzog. "My spell will hide you whilst you are on the roof.
If you are lucky, you will slip past them while they are watching
the doors. Get as far away from the shop as possibletake
her down to the docks."
"Now!" said Herzog. "I cannot hide all three of
Wolfram lifted Eowyn onto his back and ran up the stairs.
Eomers dogs had found no trace of Eowyn's scent in the
castle courtyard, nor at the Main Gate, and the guard on duty
swore that he had seen no one leave with a womannor with
a cart, a chest, a rolled up tapestry, or any other object that
a woman might be concealed in.
"How is he getting out of the castle?" said Aragorn.
"He comes and goes as he pleaseshow is he doing it?
Are there any other gates or doors?"
"No," said Imrahil. "There is no other way in
or out, not even from my own private apartment."
"What about fresh water?" asked Gimli. "Remember
Helms Deep? Saruman used the culvert to get his powder under
the Deeping Wallis there is some similar weakness here?"
"The well shaft is cut through solid rock. The water beneath
cannot be reached from outside the castle. It is part of our defencesit
cannot be tainted by an enemy...
"Tainted," Imrahil repeated, thoughtfully.
"The drains!" cried Gimli. "He has taken her through
"Oh Valar!" said Legolas.
"The main outflow is at the north west corner of the castle,"
said Imrahil. "Come!"
Haldir threw all his weight at the door.
It creaked but did not move.
Ignoring the pain, he threw himself at it again. And again.
He was sure it was starting to give. He stepped back a few feet
and ran at it.
This time the lock gave way. The door swung open and Haldir staggered
into the back room of the apothecarys shop and, rubbing
his shoulder, looked around. The room was empty. But he could
not shake the feeling that there was someone else in the building
"Eowyn!" he cried, "Eowyn!" There was no
response. "Oh Valar, where is she?"
He opened the inner door and looked into the shop. Nothing.
He rushed towards the stairs, praying to the Valar, "Please
let me find her alive. I will never be jealous of her and Legolas
again if you let me find her alive..."
There was something on the stairsa shape, a shadowhe
could not see it clearly.
"Eowyn!" he cried, climbing the stairs. "Eowyn!"
The shape was clearer now andtoo lateHaldir realised
what he was seeing. Instinctively, he lifted his hands to protect
himself as the shape raised its arm, but the metal bar still found
its target, and Haldir fell down the stairs.
Prince Imrahil led his friends, plus Eofred, and Master Dínendal,
who had insisted on accompanying Legolas, outside the city walls
to the mouth of the drain, but the dogs could not pick up a scent.
"It is no use," said Eomer. "The smell of filth
"Where would he take her?" said Legolas, retreating
from the muck, and squatting down upon the grass. "He cannot
take her to the apothecarys shop. Where else could he hide
her? Where does the orc live? Where do we look? Someone must know!"
One of Eomers dogs began sniffing around him; Legolas patted
it absently. "I swear that when I get my hands on that Balrog
he will wish his mother had taken the apothecarys herbs.
I will make him eat his own"
"Mellon nin," said Aragorn, soothingly; he and
Gimli were exchanging worried looks...
But Legolas had noticed something. "Look!" he cried,
pointing to the dog.
"He has picked up Eowyns scent!" said Eomer.
They followed it back through Dinham Gate, past the castle gatehouse,
through the market place, and into Broad Street.
"Your Majesty!" cried Brenal, jogging towards the search
party. "Your Majesties, my lords, someone brought a woman
to the apothecarys shopHaldir said it was Princess
Eowynhe sent me to get help. He has gone into the shop"
Legolas ran past him. The planks were back in place, barring
the shop's front door; the elf pounded his fists against them.
"Round the back," cried Brenal. "This way, my
lord!" He led Legolas down the alley.
The back door of the shop was wide open, its lock broken, but
a quick search told them there was no one insidenot Eowyn,
not Haldir, not the kidnapping fiend, not even the shadow.
Legolas sank to his knees and sobbed.
"My lord, you are not yourself," said Dínendal,
gently. "The poison is still working on you. Let me take
you back to the castle. Their Majesties and Lord Gimli will find
Legolas shook his head. "It would kill me Dínendal.
I could not bear it."
"It is the poison, my lord, you need to sleep"
"No!" Legolas wailed.
"Your Majesty," said Dínendal to Aragorn, "Lord
Gimli, please help me"
At that moment, Eofred came through the door. "Your Majesty,
my lords," he cried, "Eomer Kings dog has picked
up the ladys scent again. His Majesty asks that you follow
him out of the city..."
Wolfram had reached the docks with only moments to spare. A wisp
of pain was already beginning to crawl up his leg.
He propped the woman against a wall, took out the vial of anodyne
and swallowed five drops. The maximum dose. He was sorely
tempted to take more, but he remembered Herzogs warning
about stopping his heart. He may have been lying to me,
he thought, but I am better safe than sorry.
The woman moaned. Wolfram crouched before her and prodded her
shoulder. She was still in a swoon, but he could see that she
would not be so for much longer, and he did not want to risk hitting
her againPeople pay less for damaged goods, he thoughtso
he needed to get her safely bound and gagged, and somewhere her
friends would not find her.
He scanned the ships, moored along the wharves. Or somewhere
they cannot reach her.
The pain had already gone. Wolfram suddenly felt wonderfulstrong,
fleet of foot, like an acrobat! He lifted the woman onto his shoulders
and approached the nearest ship.
Herzog was not a physical maneven as a child, he had never
run or played with a ball or bowled a hoopand he had no
idea how he had managed to drag the big elf out of the front door
of the shop and along the street to Broad Gate, all the while
keeping them both shrouded by the spell.
Terror had given him strength, he supposed.
Broad Gate was not yet locked and he had no problem leaving the
city, but he knew he could not drag the elf as far as the docks.
A thousand gold pieces, he thought, I have a thousand
gold pieces in my hands. All I have to do is get us on a ship
bound for Far Harad. But how?
He looked around, desperately. Just outside the gate, a group
of beggars sat huddled around a small fire, drinking rot-gut.
Stinking, worthless creatures, he thought.
Then an idea occurred to him: With a couple of simple spells,
I could persuade two of them to carry the elf for me... And in
the morning, they would wake up on the docks remembering nothing.
He dragged the big elf towards the fire.
The first ship Wolfram had tried was not due to sail for seven
He carried the womanstill a-swoon, but struggling, as if
by instincttowards the gangplank of the next ship
"Wolfram! Wolfram! Bring her over here!"
Wolfram turned towards the voice. There, in the shadow of some
lifting gear, was the strangest sight he had ever seenHerzog
leading two filthy beggars on leashes, like dogs, with an unconscious
elf, in full armour, supported between them.
Ye gods! How did I ever get myself into this? Wolfram
wondered, as he carried the woman over to his accomplice.
"I know the captain of the Sea Maidenthe galley over
there," said Herzog. "He will take anyone or anything
to Far Harad provided you have the money to pay him."
"How much?" asked Wolfram.
"Twenty gold pieces for you and thirty for her. Give it
to me and I will negotiate our passage."
Wolfram sighed. He was investing a lot of money in this woman.
What if elf-boy does not want her back?
But the men of Far Harad might pay well for the novelty of
a golden-haired whore. And, that way, I can keep her, and have
her myself on the voyage...
"Very well," he said, handing over the money. "Get
us on the ship."
The dog had lost Eowyns scent.
Eomer and Brenal were leading him round in increasing circles,
hoping to pick it up again. Legolas was sitting on the ground,
rocking back and forth, moaning.
"Your Majesty," said Dínendal to Aragorn, quietly
but forcefully. "The poison is acting on his mind. He needs
to sleep, to work it out of his body. Otherwiseotherwise,
the Valar only know whether this will do him permanent harm. Lord
Gimli, perhaps you could persuade him"
"Nay lad," said Gimli, "short of hitting him over
the head with my axe and carrying him, I do not see there is any
chance of getting him back to the healing rooms."
When Dínendal looked as though he might seriously be considering
this course of treatment, the dwarf added: "In truth, lad,
you cannot blame him. He needs to be here. If it was your
lady that had been carried off, I wager you would be the same."
"But he is not rational, my lords," said Dínendal,
looking across at the rocking, moaning elf.
Aragorn put his hand on Dínendals arm. "We
will take care of him," he said.
"And he will do fine when it comes to the crunch, laddie,"
added Gimli. "Just wait and see."
"We have got her scent back!" cried Eomer suddenly.
"The docks! He is heading for the docks!"
As the search party approached the docks they could see a galley
pulling slowly out of the bay, its two tiers of oars moving in
perfect time, its three triangular sails just beginning to catch
"Please, Valar," cried Legolas, "let her not
be on that!"
The dog dragged them down to an empty wharf and then refused
to go any further, scuttling around in circles, snuffling and
"He has lost the scent again," said Eomer, despondently.
"I will try to find it, but it looks very much as if she
was taken on board that ship."
Aragorn and Gimli dragged Legolas back from the waters
edge and sat him down on a mooring post. Gimli grasped one of
the elfs slender hands and rubbed it soothingly.
"Come on lad," he said, "do not give up hope."
Brenal looked around the docks. The wharves were almost desertedhe
could hear the sailors carousing in nearby tavernsbut there
were still a few men keeping watch on the various ships, and there
were two men lying asleep by a piece of lifting gear. "Perhaps
someone saw the lady," he said. "I will ask around."
"I will come with you," said Aragorn. "Take care
of him, Gimli."
Having had no success trying to rouse the sleeping beggars, the
king and the warrior approached a sailor, who was enjoying a pipe
on the deck of a small sailing vessel moored close to the empty
"You looking for the elf or for the woman?" he asked.
Aragorn and Brenal exchanged glances. "Both," said
The sailor nodded. "Captain ot Sea Maiden,"
he jerked his head towards the galley pulling out of the bay,
"int too particular what or who he carries, if
you know what I meanprovided the price is right. I thought
the womand soon be missed. You looking for a vessel?"
"Can you catch him?" asked Aragorn.
"He wont be expecting you, so he wont be in
any hurry. Once he gets out to sea hell rely on his sailsneeds
to save his slaves for the other end. With any luck well
catch him in a matter of hours, while its still dark. Thats
where youre luckymost ships couldnt get anywhere
near a Corsair galley. But with the right man steering er,
the Starlights small enough to avoid the ramand
the crossbows, if he thinks to use em. Your main problemll
be boardingthe Sea Maiden has a row of wooden shields
running down both sides ot deck..."
"We will manage," said Aragorn, grimly. "How much?"
"Five hundred gold pieces."
Aragorn took a heavy gold ring, set with a diamond and two rubies,
from his finger. "This is worth fifty," he said, handing
it to the sailor. "Bring us back safely and I will give you
another thousand. If we rescue the woman and the elf I will give
you fifteen hundred."
"Who are you?" asked the sailor.
Aragorn shook his head. "That does not matter. Do we have
"Yes, your Majesty, we do," said the sailor, bowing
his head, respectfully. "But, just sos you know: once
were on board ship, Im the Captain and what I say
goes. If I tell you to pull a rope, you pull the rope."
Aragorn smiled. "Agreed," he said.
Cautiously, Haldir opened his eyes. He was lying on a narrow
bunk, in a strange wooden room with curving walls and a very low
But none of that mattered because, sitting beside him, holding
a damp rag to his forehead, was his guardian spirit. And, without
thinking, Haldir reached up and pulled her down into his arms.
A small pair of hands, pushing against his chest, brought him
back to his senses.
"I am sorry, my lady," he whispered, releasing her.
Eowyn cleared her throat. "IerI am glad to see
that you have recovered, March Warden," she said.
She stood and smoothed the skirt of her gown, and Haldir noticed
she was biting her lip, nervously. "We appear to be on a
ship," she said. "I can see water through the window.
The door is locked, the window is too small to crawl through,
and there are no obvious weaponsunless we can break a leg
off a chair, that is..."
"I am sorry, my lady," he said, again.
"It is forgotten," said Eowyn. "Completely forgotten,