What has happened to me? Haldir wondered.
Why do I feel so strange
He looked down at his hands.
No! he screamed. No! NO!
Legolas looked around frantically, trying to find a weapon, but
Rimush had already grabbed one of the palanquin's carrying poles
and was brandishing it at the snarling animal.
"Back!" he shouted. "Go! Get away from my lady,
you vile creature! Go!"
"No, Rimush! No!"
The voice was coming from inside the courtyard. Legolas turned
towards it in surprise.
"Do not chase him away!" Eowyn cried, running barefoot
across the mosaic floor. She caught hold of the metal bars and
shook the gate. "Please, Yassib, open up, quickly. Quickly!"
The baboon ran towards her, chattering excitedly.
Legolas jumped down from the palanquin and seized another pole.
"Melmenya," he said, "be careful!"
But the animal's anger had already vanished and, the moment the
wrought-iron gate swung open, he bounded up to Eowyn and nuzzled
her outstretched hand.
"It is Haldir," said Eowyn, holding the baboon's
head. "I was watching from the balcony, Legolas. I saw him
"No!" cried Hentmirë, wildly. "No! I
am the one who has angered you! Punish me!"
"Women," said Valandil, filling a bowl with water,
"are brave and resourceful but more fragile than ellith.
You have to take much better care of them."
Figwit cut two thick slices of bread and laid them on a plate
with a small piece of cheese and some dried fruits. "Do you
think she is improving?"
"I am not sure," said Valandil. "The desert was
very hard on her."
"I am sorry."
Valandil patted his arm. "Had the roc not taken us, who
knows what would have become of her," he said, "either
on that ship or, later, when we reached land?" He carried
the bowl and a cloth through to Figwit's spartan bedroom and set
it down on the nightstand.
Wilawen, lying on the narrow bed, was tossing and turning, and
mumbling incoherently about the roc and the dragon-creatures.
Valandil dipped the cloth in the water and, sitting down beside
her, carefully dampened her face and neck.
Figwit placed the plate of food on the nightstand, beside the
bowl. "Here," he said. "And do not forget to eat
it this time."
"My lady?" said Legolas, softly.
He had carried Hentmirë indoors and laid her on her daybed
whilst Eowyn and Faramir, using a leather belt as a lead, had
brought the baboon inside.
"My lady..." he repeated.
Hentmirë did not respond.
Legolas looked up at Faramir. "I knew there was something
wrong," he said. "I knew that someone had threatened
her. But she would not confide in me."
A serving girl, carrying a glass of steaming liquid, approached
him respectfully. "Old Donatiya has made up a philtre to
help soothe the mistress's nerves, Master Legolas," she said.
"It usually works."
The elf took the glass from her, gratefully. "Thank you,"
he said. "Come, my lady." He slipped his arm behind
her shoulders. "Drink some of this. It will make you feel
"Ask her to drink it for you," said Eowyn, quietly.
The baboon was looking up at her, watching her intently; she stroked
Legolas shot her a grateful smile. "Please, my lady,"
he said to Hentmirë, "take a sipfor me."
The woman turned to face him, her eyes wide and unfocussed, and
said, sadly, "I told them it was not safe after dark."
"I know, my lady." He held the glass to her lips and
helped her take a few sips.
"He thought it was you," she said.
"It is all my fault. He threatened to take you away from
me and I still refused to give him what he wanted. How could I
have taken such a risk? And now your poor friendoh, my dear,
I am so sorry! Tell him I am sorry! If I could change places with
him..." Tears ran down her face.
Legolas set the glass down on the side table and took her in
"You are not to blame for this, my lady," he said,
firmly. "But now you have no choiceyou must
tell me everything you know about this man. I will not let him
get away with this. Eowyn and Iand Faramirwe will
find him and, when we have forced him to restore Haldir to his
proper form, I will make sure that he is punished for whatever
he has done to you."
"Valandil? What are you doing in my bedroom?" Wilawen
The elfwho had finally been overcome by exhaustion and,
in spite of himself, slipped into reverieawoke with a start.
"We are not in your bedroom, hûn velui,"
he said, smiling. "Are you thirsty? Shall I fetch you a drink?"
"I am not an invalid." She tried to sit up. "Oh,"
Valandil caught her shoulders and gently lowered her back onto
the thin pillow. "Do not try to move just yet."
"It hurts to smile."
"Your face is burnt," he said, carefully pushing back
her hair. "Chiefly on the right side"
"We were travelling west," she said.
"Yes." He smiled againher mind was as sharp as
ever. "And your lips are cracked. But they are much better
than they were. Let me fetch that water."
"Better than they were? Were when?"
"When we first arrived, Wilawen. Two days ago. You have
been sleeping for two days."
"I told you," said Hentmirë, blushing deeply,
"that, in my youth, I had a suitor and thatwhen I realised
all he wanted was my moneyI sent him away." Legolas
nodded. "But what I did not tell you"
She bit her lip. The elf stroked her hand, encouragingly.
"What I did not tell you, Legolas, is that, before I sent
him away, I did something very, very foolish." She shook
her head. "No, I cannot tell you!"
Legolas looked up at Faramir, appealing for support.
"What did you do, my lady?" asked the man, gently.
"We need to know."
"I... I married him," said Hentmirë, and
her tears began to fall again. "I married him, Legolas. I
was young and I thought that he loved me. And it was such an adventurewe
sailed to Umbar, where there was a magistrate willing to marry
us without asking too many questions..."
Legolas squeezed her hand. "Oh, my lady," he said,
"It was not until the journey home that I realised what
a mistake I had made. Before the wedding he had been so kind and
gentle, and so attentive. But afterwards..." She could not
hold back a sob.
"When I refused to allow him into my cabin he struck me.
Dear Captain Mutallu locked him in the hold and took me ashore
as soon as we came into port. We planned for the Captain to take
him back to Umbar and leave him there, but neither of us knew
what a powerful magician he was"
"He escaped?" asked Faramir.
Hentmirë nodded. "When I got back to the house, some
sixth sense made me have the servants lock all the doors and windows.
If I had not done that..." She shuddered. "Years later,
another magician told me that no sorcerer, however powerful, can
enter a house if its lady has forbidden it, and thatby locking
the doorsthat was exactly what I had done. We are safe in
here, now that it is too late." She wrung her hands. "The
magician said that Baalhanno's powersthat is his name, Baalhannoare
much weaker in the daylight. That is why we can go out during
"But," said Legolas, "you came to the slave market
in the dark."
"I came because Captain Milkherem had told me about you,"
she said. "And it had been so long since Baalhanno's last
threat that I had begun to think he had given upbut, in
any case, I would have risked anything to see you."
"Where does he live, this Baalhanno?" asked Legolas.
"Where can we find him?"
"I do not know, Legolas. Captain Mutallu cannot find him;
the Hatja's guards could not; and nor could the magician. Oh!
How shall we help your friend if we cannot find him?"
"Tell us about the letters," said Legolas, gently.
"Yes. At first they came every night," she said. "Sometimes
he would float up to my windowfloat!I had a
room overlooking the Great Road thenand he would push the
letters through the shutters, scratching his nails over the wood
to scare me." Legolas squeezed her hand. "They were
full of terrible threatsonce he said that he would call
up a tempestknowing that dear Captain Mutallu and his crew
were far out at sea. Another time he said that he would turn my
servants into snakes and scorpions to bite and sting me. And,
in the last letter, he said that he would take you away
"My lady," said Faramir, watching the baboon carefully,
"do you still have that letter?"
"No," said Hentmirë. "I burnt it."
"Can you remember exactly what it said?"
Hentmirë bit her lip, thoughtfully. "He said that,
if I did not allow him to take his rightful place in my house,
he would turn Legolas into something so disgusting that I would
no longer want to look at him; that he would take away his elven
spirit, and with itOh my dear!" Her eyes widened
and she turned to Legolas, remembering the exact nature of the
threat. "He said that he would take away your elven spirit
and, with it, your immortality!"
"How long do these creatures live?" asked Eowyn, stroking
the animal's head.
"I believe it is called a baboon," said Faramir. "I
do not know, Eowyntwenty years, perhaps."
"He seems to be fully grown," said Eowyn, "so
he haswhat?five or ten years left..."
Faramir shook his head. "We shall have him restored to his
own body long before that, my dear! You are absolutely
certain that this is Haldir?"
"Yes," said Eowyn firmly. "I told you: I saw him
"It could have been an illusion..."
The baboon tugged hard at his lead.
"What is it?" Eowyn asked. "Where do you want
She rose from her seat, and allowed him to pull her over to the
fireplace. The servants had built a small fire to ward off the
night's slight chill but, in the general commotion, it had been
allowed to die out. Eowyn and Faramir watched in fascination as
the animal carefully picked a piece of charred wood from the embers
and scratched on the rough stone hearth, 'Haldir i eneth nín'.
"'My name is Haldir'," read Faramir, softly.
"That is his handwriting," said Eowyn, her voice wavering.
Faramir patted her back.
"What is wrong?" Legolas asked, from the top of the
stair. He ran lightly down the steps and across the hall to Eowyn's
"Oh, Valar," he whispered, reading the scrawled Tengwar
characters in the hearth. He crouched beside the baboon. "Trust
us," he said. "You have friends here who would travel
to the ends of the earth for you. We shall not rest until you
are restored to your proper form. I swear it."
The baboon howled, and sat back on his haunches. Eowyn stroked
"How is Hentmirë?" asked Faramir.
"I have left her with her ladies," said Legolas. "They
will put her to bed with a sleeping draught and Old Donatiya has
volunteered to stay with her, in case she wakes in the night."
"Good," said Faramir, "good." He looked from
Legolas to Eowyn and back again. "So: what are we going to
do?" He gestured towards the group of chairs arranged around
"The first thing we must do," said Eowyn, "is
find the magician." She turned to Legolas. "Do you think
that Hentmirë could know more than she is admitting?"
"Whatever makes you say that, melmenya?"
"I... I just... I think that she would do anything to protect
The elf shook his head. "I do not think she is holding anything
back now, melmenya," he said.
"Then how are we going to find him? And, when we do find
him, how are we going to make him bring Haldir back?"
"I have been thinking," said Faramir, "that the
men who helped us find you may know something of this villain.
I shall talk to Captain Oliel at first light. I have also been
thinking that we should rescue the other elves. Oliel's associate
told us that two of them were bought by a brothel keeper..."
"Arinna," said Legolas. "It seems so."
"What happened to the other one?"
"Valandil." Legolas sighed. "You will not believe
me, Faramir," he said.
"Where is your friend?" asked Wilawen, handing her
glass back to Valandil. "With the strange name."
"Figwit?" Valandil smiled. "That is his nickname.
He is out on the terrace, with the bird."
"What is that bird? And why did it bring us here?"
"I have not had the chance to find out."
"Not had the chance? What have you been doing, for two days?"
Valandil opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. He
shrugged his shoulders.
Wilawen shook her head. "Let us go and talk to this Figwit,
now," she said.
"You are too tired."
"I am fine." She tried to sit up. "Wellperhaps
you could help me."
With difficulty, fearing that he might accidentally overstep
the boundaries of their friendship, Valandil helped her out of
bed and supported her as she slowly made her way through Figwit's
sparsely furnished sitting room, through the door, with its strange,
onion-shaped arch, and out onto the terrace.
Figwit was bidding the roc farewell. "Good night, hiril
velui," he cried, as the great bird rose up into the
night sky. "No i Melain na le." He turned to
his guests. "She lives on the mainland," he explained.
"Where She cannot find her."
"Who is She?" asked Valandil. "And why
does she want us?"
"She does not want us," said Wilawen. "It
was your friend, Figwit, who brought us here."
Valandil turned to her in surprise.
"The bird," she said, gesturing up at the tiny silhouette,
now hovering far above them, "belongs to him and he sent
it to find usor, rather, to find you."
"You are right, hiril nín," said Figwit,
"though the roc does not belong to me. She is my friend.
But I must apologise to you." He bowed, hand on heart. "As
you say, it was never my intention for her to bring a woman, just
another elf. But, please"he offered to take Wilawen's
other arm"come back inside and I shall explain everythingor,
at least, I shall explain as much as I know."
As long as she is sitting beside me, thought Haldir, I
can survive this.
Legolas could not help smiling, for Eowyn had fallen asleep,
curled up in her chair, with her hand still resting on the baboon's
head. "Come, melmenya," he said, softly, "we must
put you to bed."
He slipped one arm around her shoulders and the other under her
The baboon growled.
Legolas looked up in surprise.
"I have been watching him," said Faramir, quietly.
He edged towards the animal and slowly picked up its lead. "It
is as though the baboon's nature is at war with Haldir's and,
sometimes, the animal prevails. You take her up to bed. I shall
find him some food and then tie him up outside for the night."
He stroked the baboon's head. "Come with me," he said,
pulling gently on its improvised collar, but the creature was
reluctant to leave Eowyn's side. "He will take good care
of her," Faramir assured him. "And you will see her
again in the morning."
Legolas scooped Eowyn into his arms. "Good night, Faramir,"
he said. "And thank you, mellon nín. Thank
you for everything."
"I heard that you had sailed west," said Valandil. He
turned to Wilawen. "To the Undying Lands," he said.
"I set out for the Grey Havens with Lady Arwen," said
Figwit, "when Sauron's power was at its height. There were
hundreds of us, all making our last, melancholy journey through
Middle-earth together." He shook his head. "Lord Elrond
had urged me to take good care of his daughter and, as I walked
beside her, I could sense her conflicting emotionsher respect
for her father just prevailing over her love for Estel. But then,
as we neared The Last Bridge, she caught sight of something, deep
in the forest"
"Estel," said Valandil, turning to Wilawen, "is"
"King Elessar," said Wilawen, with a touch of impatience.
"Now her husband." She turned back to Figwit. "What
did she see?"
"So she did marry Estel!" Figwit smiled. "I
did not know... And I do not know what she saw, hiril nín,
but, whatever it was, it took me some time to break the spell
it had cast over her'Lady Arwen,' I said, 'we cannot delay.'
'My future is here, Aegnor,' she said, 'in Middle-earth, with
my husband and child.' Tears spilled from her eyes. 'I am to have
"In a month or so," said Wilawen.
"A month! I have been confined here for so long..."
"What happened next?"
"She spurred her horse and set off at the gallop,"
he said. "Imagine it! Lord Elrond had entrusted her to me
and I had no mount! I borrowed a horse from Lord Sáralondë
and followed her." He took a sip of water. "But by the
time I reached Rivendell, it had all been decided. Arwen Undómiel
was no longer immortal."
"So did you go back?" asked Wilawen. "To the Grey
"I did," said Figwit. "But when I arrived, the
ships had already gone."
By the time they reached the bedroom, Eowyn had awoken and was
Gently, Legolas laid her on the bed. "Oh, melmenya,"
he said, stroking her hair. "I would do anything to spare
you this pain." He took her in his arms.
"I want to go home," she sobbed, against his shoulder.
"I want everything back the way it was."
"You are tired, my darling," he said. "Exhausted.
You must sleep and get your strength back." He began to rock
her, gently. "I swear, melmenya, that we shall find the magician
and make him release Haldir. And, as for home, I do not think
it will be very long, now, before Hentmirë lets us go. Close
Eowyn took a deep, shuddering breath and did as she was told.
"That is better," said Legolas, rubbing her back. Then,
very softly, he began to sing her favourite song.
"I will give my love an apple without e'er a core,
I will give my love a house without e'er a door,
I will give my love a palace wherein she may be
And she may unlock it without e'er a key...
"My head is the apple without e'er a core,
My mind is the house without e'er a door,
My heart is the palace wherein she may be
And she may unlock it without e'er a key."
He kissed the top of her head.
"We are so lucky," Eowyn muttered.
"To be together like this."
Legolas smiled. "I love you, Shieldmaiden," he said,
kissing her forehead. "Brave Eowyn nín."
"They came one morning, before the mist had risen,"
said Figwit. "They took five of usall stray elves waiting
on the shore for another ship to be built."
"They are animals!" said Wilawen.
"After days and days at sea we landed on the coast of Far
Harad. The sailors chained us together and dragged us to a house
on the very edge of the town. There, we were left waiting in the
garden for hoursthough, from time to time, some women would
come out of doors and stare at us. Some of them would point. One
of them even grabbed me..." Figwit cleared his throat.
"Then another woman, older than the rest, came out andthe
only word is examined. She examined us. 'He is the best,'
she said, pointing to me. 'She will enjoy him. Take him.'
One of the sailors approached me andand another must have
clubbed me from behind, for I remember nothing more until I woke
"What did she mean, 'She will enjoy him'," asked Wilawen.
"Who would enjoy you?"
"I have no idea, hiril nín. I assume that
She is my captor. But I have seen no one but you and Valandil
in all the time I have been here. That is why I sent the roc to
find another elf."
"Where does your food come from?"
"It appears," said Figwit. "In the cupboard. Fresh
"Gods," said Wilawen, "magic!" She thought
for a moment. "You are sure that those were her exact words?
'She will enjoy him.'"
Wilawen turned to Valandil. The elf shrugged his shoulders.
"Could she have meant the bird?" asked Wilawen.
"I do not think so," said Figwit. "It took me
months to befriend the roc. She is very independent."
"Why do you not fly away?" asked Valandil.
"Good question," said Wilawen, rewarding him with a
"Because I cannot," said Figwit. "The roc can
land on the terrace. She can bring thingsshe brought you.
But I cannot cross the terrace wall. It is as though I am confined
by some spell."
Wilawen turned to Valandil.
"I shall try it," he said.
"Be careful," said Wilawen. "Perhaps you should
wait until dawn."
Valandil, with both hands on the terrace wall, gave her a dazzling
smile. "Elves can see well enough in the dark," he said.
He leaned forward and looked down. "It is a sheer drop."
She had made a 'rope' by twisting and knotting Figwit's bedclothes
together. Valandil tied one end around his waist and threaded
the other through the balustrade.
"Make sure that the knots are secure," said Wilawen.
She slipped her hands around his waist and tested them. "They
seem all right." She looked up at him. "Be careful,"
she repeated. "And remember that you will need to climb back
He bent his head towards her...
Then he remembered himself. "I shall," he said, lightly.
He swung his legs over the balcony wall and, gripping its inner
edge tightly, reached down with his right foot, searching with
his toes for a foothold. The cliff face was almost smooth, but,
after a moment or two, he found a small vertical crack, off to
his right. He jammed the toe of his boot into it and, taking a
deep breath, moved each hand, in turn.
"Valar," he said, softly, "this is harder than
climbing a tree!"
Slowly, he inched his way down the cliffone foot; two feet;
six feet; twelve... Then, with his hands and feet secure, he leaned
back from the cliff face and looked across to his right.
His first impression of the island, whilst still in the bird's
grasp, had been correct. The cliff was riddled with holes. Square
holes, he thought. Windows. How strange men areeven
here, they must impose their own regularity on nature.
"Valandil!" cried Wilawen, "are you all right?
Can you see anything?"
"Yes!" shouted Valandil. "There are more rooms
down here. I am going to climb into one."
"Be careful," she said again, and Valandil thought
that, perhaps, there was a touch of affection in her voice.
He climbed down another six feethe was nearly at the end
of the ropethen began to work his way, sideways, towards
the nearest window. Could Wilawen do this? he wondered, wiping
an unusually sweaty hand on his tunic.
At last he reached the opening and, with both feet on the sill,
peered inside. It was a small room, dark and empty, with a strong
smell of bats but, on the back wall, Valandil could make out the
shape of a door.
He untied the rope and secured its end in a crack at the side
of the window. Then he dropped lightly to the floor and, fastidiously
avoiding the piles of guano, walked over to the door and opened
Legolas had emerged from reverie to find the bed beside him empty.
He had searched the house with mounting panic, until he had found
her in the courtyard, sitting beside the baboon.
"You should have roused me," he said, wrapping a silken
shawlthat Hentmirë had insisted on buying for him to
give to Eowynaround her shoulders. He sat down beside her.
"I was not fit company," she said. Then she caught
the expression on his face. "Oh, Lassui," she whispered,
with genuine remorse, "I frightened youI am sorry."
She raised his hands to her lips and kissed his fingers. "I
did not mean to frighten you..."
He hugged her tightly. "What are you doing out here?"
"I did not want to leave him alone," she said, stroking
the baboon. "And I have been thinking."
"Tell me," he said.
"Why is he doing it?"
Legolas smiled. "You will have to tell me more, my darling,"
"The magician. He has been persecuting Hentmirë for
"He wants her money."
"No!" She turned to face him, fire in her eyes. "That
is what Hentmirë assumes because the poor woman has always
been convinced that she has no other value. But a man who can
turn an elf into a baboon has no need of riches."
"You think that, in some perverse way, he loves her?"
"Then what? He wants revenge?"
"Perhaps that is part of it. But I think..."
"I think that he wants to get into the house. I think that
Hentmirë has something, here in the house, that he needs.
Something that she, herself, is not aware of."