"Good morning," said Faramir. "I
saw you from the balcony. Do you mind if I join you?"
"Of course not," Legolas replied, smiling up at him.
"I have asked the servants to fetch us some breakfast out
With the agility of a former ranger, Faramir sat down on the
mosaic pavement. "How is she?" he asked, nodding towards
Eowyn, who was sleeping, at last, in Legolas' arms.
"She is taking Haldir's condition very badly."
"Yes..." said Faramir. He hesitated. "Legolas..."
"Yes, Faramir, I am fully aware of his feelings for
herand of hers for him," said the elf. "And I
wish it were not so. But what can I do? It is a difficult situation."
The baboon began to chatter.
"Just so long as you know," said Faramir. "Ah,
my dear, good morning."
Eowyn sighed, and rubbed her eyes. "I fell asleep..."
She turned towards the baboon, sitting quietly beside her. "Oh,
gods, it is true..."
"Melmenya..." Legolas pulled her close, kissing her
forehead. "Faramir has organised some breakfast for you,"
he said, gently. "And I want you to eat it."
He kissed her again. "But, in the meantime, I think you should
tell him your theory."
"My theory? Oh, yes..." Eowyn repeated her earlier
speculations about the magician's motives. "If we could find
this thing, whatever it is, we could use it to bribe himmake
him take his spell off Haldir."
"Would that be wise, my dear?" asked Faramir.
"If you are right about thisobject, presumablywhy
would he want it so badly? What additional powers would it give
him? What would we be letting loose?"
"We would be saving Haldir," Eowyn cried.
"Shhhh, shhhhh, melmenya," said Legolas,
hugging her tightly. "Faramir is right to be concerned. But
we will do whatever it takes to save Haldir, my darling,
Be careful, meleth nín. Listen to Faramir, thought
Haldir, sadly. He nuzzled Eowyn's hand.
Valandil opened the door and stepped out into a narrow corridor
running parallel to the cliff face. It was darkthe torch
sitting in the sconce opposite had burned out long agoand,
with some trepidation, he turned right and began walking.
The next door was open and, Valandil realised, the room was not
empty. Someone was lying, scarcely visible, on a low rock shelf
beneath the window, and the elf could just make out the glint
of a chain running from the sleeping form to a ring in the rock
"Hello?" he said, softly.
There was no answer.
Valandil walked over to the window. "Are you all right,
mellon nín?" He reached down and touched the
Outside, the sun was, at last, rising; a shaft of pale light
spilled through the window. And staring up at Valandil were the
empty eye sockets of a mummified corpse.
The servants had brought out a low table laden with breakfastsweet
bread, honey, and a cold, milky porridge filled with nuts and
"I am sorry, Eowyn," said Faramir, handing her a glass
of fruit cordial. "I always did have a knack for riding rough-shod
over your feelings..."
Eowyn looked into her glass. "You were right about the magician,"
she said, reluctantly.
The baboon softly howled, as if in agreement.
Legolas squeezed her hand. "We shall find some way to persuade
him, melmenya, when the time comes," he said. "And I
do think you are righthe wants something. But what is it?
And how are we to find it?"
"We need to talk to Hentmirë," said Eowyn. "We
need to know everything the magician has said to her over the
yearswhat did he do on the boat to frighten herwhy
did she flee from him? And we need to know much more about his
letters. I wonder if she has destroyed all of them?"
"It will not be easy to persuade her to talk," said
Faramir. "I think that Legolas is the only person she is
likely to be candid with." He spread some honey on a piece
of bread and offered it to the baboon.
The animal accepted it politely, and, holding it daintily in
its hand, took a small bite.
"Gods," whispered Eowyn. She bit her lip.
"I shall speak to Hentmirë as soon as I can,"
said Legolas, "with Eowynyou have a far better idea
of what to ask than I, melmenya."
"Good," said Faramir. "And, whilst you are doing
that, I shall speak to Captain Oliel. Then, this afternoon, I
think that you and I, Legolas, should pay a visit to the brothel."
Let me come with you, thought Haldir. Let me do something.
Valandil reeled back, gagging.
He staggered out of the room, and bent over, hands on knees,
trying desperately to control the bile rising in his throat.
How could anyone do that? He wondered. Leaving the
poor creature chained to the wall like that, to die like an animal
in a trap...
He looked along the corridor. More doors. Twenty? Thirty?
Does every one of these cells contain a corpse?
Taking a deep breath, and swallowing hard, he turned back towards
the unfortunate prisoner, placed his hand over his heart and bowed
his head. "Hiro hyn hîdh ab'wanath," he
He had no idea what happened to the spirits of men after they
died. But if they remained beside their bodies, he could only
hope that his prayer would be enough to appease them.
Legolas tapped lightly on Hentmirë's bedroom door.
Old Donatiya opened it. "The mistress is indisposed, Master
Legolas," she said.
"We have brought her some breakfast," said Legolas.
"She must eat."
"Who is it, Donatiya?" called Hentmirë.
"It's Master Legolas and Eowyn, my lady," said the
old woman. "They've brought you some breakfast."
There were a few moments' silence. Then Hentmirë said, "Let
Eowyn looked up at Legolas in surprise.
"Go on," he said, quietly. "Talk to her. I will
be just outside."
Eowyn took the tray and stepped through the door.
Hentmirë, wearing an old nightgown and with her coarse brown
hair falling, undressed, about her shoulders, seemed to have aged
twenty years overnight.
She does not want Legolas to see her like this, Eowyn
thought, and she suddenly felt an unbearable sadness for the woman.
"Good morning, my lady," she said, with a genuine smile.
"I have brought you some bread and honey. But perhaps you
would like me to help you dress before you eat."
Hentmirë looked undecided.
Eowyn laid the tray on the nightstand. "Legolas is waiting
outside," she said. "He is worried sick about you."
"He must think me such a fool."
"He thinks you an innocent victim, my lady," Eowyn
insisted. "And he wants to help you."
"How can he help me? How can anyone help me?"
Eowyn sat down on the edge of the bed. "First," she
said, "let us make you presentable. Then we shall ask Legolas
to come in. Do you trust him, my lady?"
"Trust him? Of course I trust him," said Hentmirë.
"He is the most honest, most honourable person I have ever
met... He is an elf."
Eowyn smiled. "Yes, he is. He is going to ask you some questions,"
she said, "and some of them will be painful. But you know
that hethat he and Iwant only to rid you of this terrible
persecution and to return our friend to his proper form."
The end of the corridor was sealed with a wrought-iron grating.
Valandil took hold of the bars and pushed hard.
The door was solid, and he growled in frustration, resting his
forehead against the metal. After all this effort!
Then he smiled.
The grating might be solid, but the door was unlocked. He reached
between the bars, slid back the bolt, pushed it open and stepped
out onto a spiral staircase.
Should I go up or down?
"Good morning, my dear," said Hentmirë, greeting
Legolas with something approaching her usual good humour.
Eowynwho, it had to be admitted, made a very poor lady's
maidhad washed her face and carefully arranged her hair
and had helped her choose a flattering gown of deep wine red that
went some way towards restoring the colour to her cheeks.
Legolas smiled. "Good morning, my lady." He sat down
beside her. "Thank you for agreeing to talk to me about this.
I shall try not to intrude too far upon your private feelings."
He paused to collect his thoughts. "How did you meet Baalhanno?"
Hentmirë looked down at her clasped hands. "He sent
me a letter, introducing himself. He said he was one of my late
father's business partners, and he asked if he might visit me."
"Did he say why he wanted to see you?"
"He said that he had heard all about me from my father and
felt that he knew me already." Hentmirë sighed. "So
I invited him to tea. He arrived with flowers... And he talked
about the sea, and sailing, and about his recent visit to Dol
Amroth. He seemed charming."
"Did he ask you for anything?" asked Eowyn. "Something
of your father's, perhaps?"
"How did you know that?"
"What did he want?" asked Legolas.
"He asked if I still had all of my father's belongingsand,
of course, I hadthen he asked whether he might have some
token to remember my father by. I took him into the studyI
had kept it exactly as my father had left itand asked him
to choose. I should have known that he was untrustworthy then..."
"Why, my lady?" said Legolas.
"Because he got angry," said Hentmirë. "Oh,
he hid it. He behaved like a perfect gentleman. He looked around
the room and, eventually, he chose my father's inkstand. But he
was angry; I could feel it." She shook her head. "I
could feel it, but I thought I must be mistaken."
"Were all of your father's belongings in the study?"
"And are they there still?" asked Eowyn.
"Yes, they were," said Hentmirë. "All except
his clothing, which I had given to the poor. But everything is
stored in the cellar now, packed in boxes. Why do you ask?"
"Because we think that your father had something that Baalhanno
wants," said Legolas. "We think that if we can find
it, we can make him go away."
"I wasn't sure I'd ever see you again," said
Captain Oliel. "A handsome foreigner shouldn't run off into
the souk like thatit isn't safe."
Faramir smiled at the compliment. "Did you pay your friend?"
"I took the liberty of doing so, yes," said Oliel.
"And the rest of your money is still safe in my strongboxthough
I have to tell you that I should have made good use of it if you
hadn't shown up by the end of the week."
"Of course," said Faramir.
He sat down on the captain's bunk. "I have found my friends,"
he said, "but another problem has arisen." He told Oliel
about Baalhanno, and his persecution of Hentmirë, but did
not mention what the magician had done to Haldir. "I thought
that you might know something about this man," he said. "Or,
perhaps, know someone else who might know something..."
Oliel scratched his head. "A magician," he said. "And
a powerful one, from what you saytake great care dealing
with that sort, my friend." He thought for a moment. "Yes...
Yes, I do know someone. Someone of the same sort. Come with me."
"Be careful, my dear," said Hentmirë. "The
floor is very uneven..."
Legolas lifted his oil lamp and looked around the cellar in dismay.
The room was stacked, from floor to ceiling, with wooden boxes.
"Are all of these your father's belongings?" he asked.
"Yes, my dear."
"It could take us weeks to sort through them," said
Eowyn. She opened out the folding chair that Hentmirë had
insisted on bringing downstairs and helped the woman sit down.
"Did Baalhanno say anything while he was searching through
your father's things? Did he give you any impression of what it
was he wanted?"
"It is such a long time ago," said Hentmirë. She
thought hard. "No," she said.
"Perhaps he did not know exactly what it was, either,"
said Legolas. He sighed. "With your permission, my lady,
I shall have all of these boxes brought upstairs into the hall.
Then we can spread them out and search them properly."
Valandil had lost count of the number of floors he had passedall
with narrow corridors lined with tiny cells, and all of those,
he had no doubt, tombs to their unfortunate occupants.
And the dead were still there.
He could sense them.
But they were not hostileat least, not towards him.
In fact, they seemed to be looking on him as some sort of saviour.
Valandil was a brave, seasoned warrior, but he felt distinctly
uncomfortable with that idea, and it was some time before
he realised that the spiral staircase had turned into a featureless
shaftthat he had left the prison behind some time agoand
that he was nowhe was almost certainclose to sea level.
This is clearly not a way out, he thought. I must go
He turned on his heel, and an overwhelming feeling of sorrowof
someone else's raw emotionsassailed him. He peered
into the darkness above. Wisps of green mist floated before him,
here and there forming themselves into faces, with eyes imploring,
and into hands, clasped together, begging.
The dead, he thought. The dead want me to keep going down.
So down he wentnot daring to wonder why they wanted itdown,
down, down, until, at last, the stairs came to an end and he stepped
through a doorway and into a vast, vaulted hall.
"I should have gone with him," said Wilawen, peering
over the balcony wall. "He is not very practical. He does
not always make the right decision."
"You like him," said Figwit.
"Like him?" She straightened up and turned towards
the elf. "You mean like him?" Wilawen shook her head.
"No," she said, "look at me!"
Figwit did as she asked, starting at her head and working his
way down to her toes. "What am I looking for?"
"He is an elf; I am a woman," she said, barely containing
her exasperation. "A woman who has been sitting on the shelf
for many years."
"Why would where you normally sit affect whether or not
you like him?" asked Figwit.
"Are all elves idiots?" cried Wilawen, throwing up
Valandil walked into the vast space.
Two rows of massive stone columns, carved to look like bunches
of reeds, ran its entire length. Slowly, he made his way down
the central aisle, towards the only object in the halla
huge block of stone, engraved with strange images, standing on
a low, stepped platform.
The elf knelt on the steps and traced the carved figures with
his fingersa woman, seated on a chairno, a thronethree
men, raising their hands in supplication before her. He rose to
his feet and climbed up the steps.
The block was not solid but hollowa stone box holding yet
But this one was different from the rest.
This one was a woman with long black hair and smooth skinremarkably
well-preserveddressed in a close-fitting robe of woven gold
encrusted with red gems.
Who is she? Valandil wondered. Why did the other dead
want me to see her? She looks peaceful. Like Wilawen when she
He leaned forward to take a closer look.
The woman opened her eyes.
And, for the first time in his long, elven life, Valandil lost
The house they were seeking was hidden at the end of one of the
twisting streets that surrounded the souka tall, narrow
building with no obvious defences. Oliel knocked at the door and
spoke briefly to the doorkeeper, handing him one of Faramir's
The man bowed and closed the door.
"How do you know this magician?" asked Faramir.
"Not long after my wife was taken, I heard rumours that
there was a slave in this housea pretty woman from the north.
It was one of the best leads I'd ever had." He nodded towards
the door. "It took me a month's persistence to get inside,
but it turned out that it wasn't her."
"I am sorry," said Faramir.
The door swung open.
"Go on," said Oliel. "That's your invitation.
I'll leave you to itbut, if you need me again, you know
where to find me. And, remember," he added, as he began to
walk away, "I sail with the tide tomorrow week, wind permitting.
If you and your friends want to return to Pelargir with me, you
will need to be aboard before dawn."
"Thank you," called Faramir, raising his hand. "And,
if we do not meet again, Captain, I wish you every success in
your search for your wife."
He watched until the man had disappeared around the corner;
then he picked up his carpet bag, climbed the steps, and entered
He found himself in a narrow but airy corridor, lined with tall,
potted palm trees. There was no longer any sign of a doorkeeperthe
small wooden sentry-box on his left was emptybut, through
the archway ahead, Faramir thought he saw a movement.
"Come in!" called a voice.
Faramir walked slowly along the marble floorwondering why
he felt so nervouspaused before the arched doorway and took
deep breath, then stepped inside the room and looked around.
In the centre of the otherwise empty space there was a small
living areatwo low couches, a low table, some stools and
more potted plants, all arranged around a brazier. A half empty
glass of iced tea and several open books lay on the table.
But there was no sign of the owner of the voice.
"Sir?" called Faramir, uncertainly.
"Sit down!" said the voice, cheerfully; it sounded
Intrigued and, for some reason, no longer nervous, Faramir sat
on one of the couches.
"What can I do for you?" asked the voice.
"I need some advice," said Faramir, and, when there
was no immediate response, he added, "and I am willing and
able to pay you."
The voice laughed. "What is troubling you?"
Faramir hesitated. "Might I see you, sir?"
"See me? Why?"
"I find your invisibility disconcerting," said Faramir.
"Very well," said the voice, merrily, "but materialisation
will cost you extra."
The voice laughed again. "You are easy to tease," it
said. "Are you ready?"
There was a bright flash accompanied by a loud bang. Faramir
threw himself down on the couch, his arms folded protectively
over his head.
"Rather louder than I had intended," said the voice.
"But impressive, do you not think?"
Faramir raised his head. Sitting cross-legged on the other couch,
dressed in a tunic and trousers of vivid pink silk, was a small
man with laughing eyes.
"Very impressive," said Faramir. "How do you do
"Ahthat is a secret," said the man.
Faramir smiled. "Good morning," he said.
"And good morning to you. What can I do for you?"
Faramir decided that they had wasted enough time. "Are you
familiar with a magician by the name of Baalhanno?" he asked.
"Baalhanno. Yesmy best and my worst pupil."
"Best in ability, I assume," said Faramir.
"Indeed," said the magician. "Quick and very able.
But a man with no conscience."
"He has turned one of my friendsan elfinto a
baboon," said Faramir. "Can you undo his spell?"
Faramir sighed with relief. "That is good news," he
said. "Will you come with me, now, and do it?"
The magician thought for a moment. "I have no pressing plans,"
he said, "and I have never seen an elf, so I think I shall.
But, first, tell me: why did he do it?"
Faramir described Baalhanno's persecution of Hentmire and Eowyn's
theory that he wanted something from the house. "What could
it be?" he asked.
"I have no idea," said the magician. "You say
that he has been threatening her for years and yet this is the
first time he has ever acted on one of his threats?"
"As far as I am aware," said Faramir.
"That is interesting," said the magician. "Yes,
I shall come with youcome." He rose from the couch
and walked to an intricately patterned carpet, lying at the far
end of the room. He sat down at its centre.
"Come along!" cried the magician. He patted the carpet.
"Sit beside me."
"I thought we were leaving."
"And so we are. Come, sit down."
Reluctantly, Faramir obeyed.
"Rise, skyward!" cried the magician.
Immediately, the edges of the carpet lifted from the floor.
"By the gods!" Faramir clasped his bag to his chest.
The carpet flew slowly, once around the room, then suddenly shot
out through the open windows, and climbed up into the sky.
"There," said Eowyn, giving the baboon a slice of bread
and honey. "This seems to be your favourite." She stroked
its head. "Do you understand me?" she asked, softly.
The baboon nodded.
"Oh, gods! Is there anything I can do to make things
easier for you"
The baboon growled.
"What is wrong?"
"Good morning, my lady!" cried a cheerful voice. Eowyn
glanced up to see a pedlar standing just outside the wrought-iron
gates. "What a fine looking beast!"
The baboon growled again, baring its teeth.
"Good morning, sir," said Eowyn. Her tone was polite
but at the same time, she hoped, discouraging, and she carefully
turned her back on the stranger as she tried to calm the animal,
stroking it and murmuring softly.
"Will you not come and see my wares?"
"No, thank you."
"Such golden hair deserves to be tied in ribbons. Here,
my pretty lady: a gift from me to you..."
"I really do not..." Eowyn began.
But there was something in his voice that reminded her of the
pedlar who had visited Edoras all those years ago. Why not
take a look? She slipped her fingers under the baboon's collar
and led it to the gate. "I do not wear ribbons," she
said. "What else do you have?"
"Fine jet beads from the north, red coral combs from the
south, and shiny brass lamps from here in Carhilivren." He
held a lamp up to the bars. "See the engravingsuch
fine workmanship. And I would be willing to exchange it for an
old one... Why not open the gates and let me show it to you properly?"
"My mistress would not allow that," said Eowyn.
"Your mistress? I do not think so, pretty lady. No
one is your mistress. Come here, my sweet," he said,
his voice now soft and caressing, "open the gates, and let
Slowly, his free hand reached towards her forehead
With a screech the baboon flew at him, forcing its snout through
the bars and snapping at the offending fingers.
Get away from her, you animal! Get away from her! Do not touch
her! DO NOT TOUCH HER!
"Leave her!" cried Legolas, running out from the house.
"Get away from her, now!" He seized a garden hoe and
advanced on the stranger.
The pedlar, who had drawn back from the gates and was rapidly
gathering up his wares, stared at Legolas. "Two!" he
cried. "There are two of them!"
Then he fled, disappearing into the cultivation on the other
side of the road.
"Melmenya?" Legolas put down the hoe and took her by
"What happened?" she asked.
"I do not know. I heard Halthe baboon screaming, and
came out to see what was wrong."
Gently, he led her into the house, guiding her through the piles
of wooden crates, to Hentmirë's daybed. The baboon followed
them, chattering loudly.
"Sit down, melmenya."
He poured her a glass of chilled cordial. "Here," he
said, "drink this." He sat down beside her, wrapping
his arm around her shoulders. "Tell me what you do
remember, meleth nín."
"I think he was trying to sell me something," said
Eowyn. "Yes... Yes, he was trying to sell me a lamp. It was
just like this one." She reached into the box beside her
feet and lifted out a brass lamp with a large looped handle and
a long spout.
"Yes," she said, showing it to Legolas, "it was
very like this one. Oh..." Her thumb, sticky with the honey
she had given the baboon, had left an ugly mark on the lamp's
otherwise mirror-bright surface; she tried to rub it away with
A fine curl of smoke emerged from the spout of the lamp.
"What is that?" asked Legolas.
"I do not know," said Eowyn. She had stopped rubbing,
but the smoke was still flowingpouring nowand creeping
along the floor...
"Put it down, melmenya," said Legolas, calmly, "and
come with me." He took her by the hand, drew her to her feet
and led her, backwards, towards the door.
The baboon ran into the smoke, chattering excitedly.
"Haldir!" cried Eowyn.
"Come with us," said Legolas firmly.
The baboon ignored them.
"We cannot leave him," said Eowyn.
"Go outside," said Legolas. "I shall fetch him."
"I am not leaving you."
"Wait here for me then." Legolas darted into the smoke,
seized the baboon's collar and began dragging the shrieking creature
towards the door.
"Legolas," Eowyn screamed, "Legolas,
Melmenya? The elf turned...
The smoke was no longer lying, like a thick white blanket, on
the floor: above the daybed it had formed itself into a shoulder,
bare and heavily muscled; beside the chandelier it had become
a perfect ear, rounded and pierced with a gold earring; hovering
over the wooden crates it was a powerful forearm, tattooed and
lightly sprinkled with dark hair. And curled around Eowyn's waist,
it was a hand...
Legolas dropped the baboon's leash and walked, determinedly,
back to Eowyn, grasped the huge little finger, and pulled hard.
The hand sprang open and Eowyn fell into his arms.
"Ow," cried a booming voice, "that hurt!"
Legolas looked upwards. The ear was now attached to a cheek,
and above that there was already the suggestion of a twinkling
blue eye. Then, as the elf continued to watch, still holding Eowyn
against his chest, another eye appeared, and a mouthsmilingand
another ear, and the shoulder became two shoulders, and
a muscular torso, and, below that, a massive
Dear Valar! thought Legolas, I cannot let Hentmirë see that.
"Who rubbed my lamp?" asked the strange being.
Much to Legolas' consternation, Eowyn turned to face the naked
creature. "I did," she said.
The being smiled proudly. "I am the Djinn of the Lamp,"
he said. "Your wish is my command." He bent towards
herhis strange, mutable body flowing into its new postureand
peered at her, closely. "Well," he added, "the
gods have blessed me this time, pretty little mistress."