gimli, legolas and aragorn

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 men’s 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 before—never 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 hear her.

He knew what she had done, his brave Shieldmaiden, to protect him and, in his mind’s eye, he smiled proudly—though his mouth would not move—and he tried once more to squeeze her hand.

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 have spoken.

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 hand—tried so hard that he would have crushed her bones if he could have moved—but 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 a burden.

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 pieces—and if it became a matter of life or death, he would simply drop her.

Wolfram walked over to the bed, and—taking a short length of rope from his pocket—tied the woman’s 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, he thought.

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 you—what 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 nature’s call’ but once outside the men’s 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 men’s 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 sleep—"

"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.


His four friends stared at him, speechless. None of them had ever seen the elf so out of control, not even before the Gates of Mordor.

"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 be—tell them, Faramir; tell them what Wormtongue tried to do to her; tell them how he scared her. And this—this 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 Eowyn’s trail."

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 faster—all with no extra effort. The anodyne had given him more than a respite from pain. It had virtually turned him into an elf!

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 Herzog’s shop.

"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 people—one to watch, the other to make sure the watcher stays awake."

"Elves do not need as much sleep as humans," said Haldir, frostily.

"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 me—"

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 apothecary’s 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 out—go 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 possible—take her down to the docks."

Wolfram hesitated.

"Now!" said Herzog. "I cannot hide all three of us!"

Wolfram lifted Eowyn onto his back and ran up the stairs.

Eomer’s 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 woman—nor 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 pleases—how 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 Helm’s Deep? Saruman used the culvert to get his powder under the Deeping Wall—is 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 defences—it cannot be tainted by an enemy...

"Tainted," Imrahil repeated, thoughtfully.

"The drains!" cried Gimli. "He has taken her through the drains!"

"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 apothecary’s 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 with him.

"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 stairs—a shape, a shadow—he could not see it clearly.

"Eowyn!" he cried, climbing the stairs. "Eowyn!"

The shape was clearer now and—too late—Haldir 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 is overpowering."

"Where would he take her?" said Legolas, retreating from the muck, and squatting down upon the grass. "He cannot take her to the apothecary’s shop. Where else could he hide her? Where does the orc live? Where do we look? Someone must know!" One of Eomer’s 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 apothecary’s 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 Eowyn’s scent!" said Eomer. "Come on!"

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 apothecary’s shop—Haldir said it was Princess Eowyn—he 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 inside—not 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 Lady Eowyn."

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 King’s dog has picked up the lady’s 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 Herzog’s 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 again—People pay less for damaged goods, he thought—so 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 wonderful—strong, fleet of foot, like an acrobat! He lifted the woman onto his shoulders and approached the nearest ship.

Herzog was not a physical man—even as a child, he had never run or played with a ball or bowled a hoop—and 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 days.

He carried the woman—still a-swoon, but struggling, as if by instinct—towards 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 seen—Herzog 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 Maiden—the 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 Eowyn’s 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. Otherwise—otherwise, 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 Dínendal’s 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 the wind.

"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 whimpering.

"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 water’s edge and sat him down on a mooring post. Gimli grasped one of the elf’s 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 deserted—he could hear the sailors carousing in nearby taverns—but 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 wharf.

"You looking for the elf or for the woman?" he asked.

Aragorn and Brenal exchanged glances. "Both," said Aragorn.

The sailor nodded. "Captain o’t’ Sea Maiden," he jerked his head towards the galley pulling out of the bay, "i’n’t too particular what or who he carries, if you know what I mean—provided the price is right. I thought the woman’d soon be missed. You looking for a vessel?"

"Can you catch him?" asked Aragorn.

"He won’t be expecting you, so he won’t be in any hurry. Once he gets out to sea he’ll rely on his sails—needs to save his slaves for the other end. With any luck we’ll catch him in a matter of hours, while it’s still dark. That’s where you’re lucky—most ships couldn’t get anywhere near a Corsair galley. But with the right man steering ’er, the Starlight’s small enough to avoid the ram—and the crossbows, if he thinks to use ’em. Your main problem’ll be boarding—the Sea Maiden has a row of wooden shields running down both sides o’t’ 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 a deal?"

"Yes, your Majesty, we do," said the sailor, bowing his head, respectfully. "But, just so’s you know: once we’re on board ship, I’m 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 ceiling...

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. "I—er—I 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 weapons—unless 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, March Warden."



Contents page

Contents page

Previous chapter: The next victim
Wolfram meets his match.

Chapter 6

Next chapter: To the Sea, to the Sea!
Aragorn leads a rescue mission. How will Legolas fare at sea?.

Chapter 8