It took Valandil a few moments to remember where
Then he leaped to his feet and ranacross the hall, through
the door, up the spiral stairsapologising to the dead for
his cowardice as he flew past their wispy formsalong the
corridorpast the room in which he had discovered the first
corpseand through the door
A female figure was standing, silhouetted, before the window.
"Ilúvatar preserve me!" he cried.
"Gods, Valandil," said the woman, pressing her hand
to her breast, "you almost scared me to death!"
"Wilawen!" He threw his arms around her. "Wilawen!"
"What has happened?" she asked. "Why have you
been so long? I thought that something had happened..."
She came up on tip toe and looked over his shoulder. "What
is this place? Where does that door lead?"
"It is not the way out," said Valandil. "Come,
we must leave. Quickly."
"I will tell you when we are safe."
The sheet-rope was already tied around her waist. Ignoring her
protests, the elf threw her over his shoulder, jumped up onto
the window sill and climbed rapidly back to Figwit's terrace.
"Who are you?" asked Eowyn, from the safety of Legolas'
arms. "What are you?"
"I am the Djinn of the Lamp. Your wish is my command."
"What does that mean?" she asked.
"Bid me turn back the tide, or change the course of the
River Bodmelqart, or ask me to level Mount Khilletzbaal,"
said the djinn, loftily, "and it is done. Your wish
is my command."
"Can you turn our friend back to his proper form?"
Eowyn pointed to the baboon.
"Can you find the magician Baalhanno for us?"
"Well, at least, you can cover yourself up," said Legolas,
pulling a silk throw off the daybed. "Herequickly,
before Hentmirë comes down from her nap and sees you."
"It is only my mistress's wish that is my command,"
said the djinn.
"Please, do it," said Eowyn.
The djinn took the fabric from Legolas and draped it over his
"No," said Eowyn. She mimed tying it around her waist.
"Do you think," said Eowyn to Legolas, "that that
was Baalhanno at the gateand that this is what he wants?"
"I cannot imagine why." Legolas turned to the djinn,
who had settled himself on the daybed. "Who was your last
master?" he asked.
The djinn folded his arms across his massive chest.
"My wish," said Eowyn, "is that you answer Legolas'
question. In fact, I want you to answer all of his questions."
"I hear and obey," said the djinn, doubtfully.
"My last master was Mursilis, son of Anittas."
"Hentmirë's father," said Eowyn. "So he did
know about thewhat is he called?the Djinn of the Lamp.
But he never told Hentmirë about him."
"She was only a child, melmenya," said Legolas. "What
did Mursilis command you to do?" he asked the djinn.
Legolas sighed. "Tell us," he said.
"I cut a channel through the Sharruma plateau, so that
his ships might avoid the corsairs in the bay of Estan; I summoned
fair winds when his ships were becalmed and I quelled tempests
when they were beleaguered"
"No wonder Hentmirë is so rich," said Eowyn. "A
merchant could desire no better servant."
The djinn bowed, proudly.
"But why would a magician want you?" asked Legolas.
"What could you do for him that he could not do himself"
The baboon suddenly bounded out into the courtyard, howling.
"What is it?" asked Eowyn.
"Someone is arriving, melmenya," said Legolas, "with
"Go back into the lamp," said Eowyn to the djinn. "Please.
Just until we are sure it is safe."
"I hear and obey," said the djinn, and he disappeared
down the spout of the lamp, taking his silken loin cloth with
"You are sure that she opened her eyes?" Wilawen
"And you fainted."
"I was briefly stunned," said Valandil.
"You descended, with no qualms, into the depths of the underworld,
accompanied by the spirits of the dead, but the sight of a living
woman 'stunned' you?"
"She was not living, Wilawen."
"What do you mean?" asked Figwit. "Here."
He handed Valandil a glass of water.
"She was..." Valandil searched for the right word.
"She was not living, but not dead. By some trickery her body
has cheated death and she appears to live. But her spirit is..."
He shook his head. "Her spirit decays."
"So she is a woman who has somehow become immortal,"
"Not immortal, meleth nín," said Valandil.
"How do you know?" asked Wilawen.
"I felt it. The moment she opened her eyes, I felt it."
"And what she has done is bad?"
"It is very bad," said Figwit. "To defy Ilúvatar
in that way is the most grievous of transgressions. If she has
done that, she is capable of doing anything."
"Then why does she not do it?" asked Wilawen. "Why
does she not come up here andOh gods," she cried, turning
to Figwit, "you were chosen to be her paramour! And now Valandil
has awoken her, and she has seen him, too!"
"What a strange place this is," said Legolas softly.
He watched, open-mouthed, as what looked like a carpet, carrying
Faramir and a small stranger dressed in a suit of vivid pink silk,
spiralled slowly down from the sky. It circled twice around the
courtyard and landed gently before them.
The baboon howled.
"Is this the bewitched elf?" asked the small man, springing
to his feet.
"Yes," said Faramir.
"Well, well." Bending slightly, the man peered into
the baboon's eyes. "Yes..."
"Can you release him from the spell?" asked Eowyn,
anxiously. "Can you restore his immortality?"
"It is little more than a cunning illusion, your Highness,"
said the magician, bowing, "and it will be my pleasure to
"I am Niqmaddu, son of the great Niqmepa; you must be Princess
Eowyn and Prince Legolasyour friend has told me all about
you. May we go inside?"
"Please." Legolas gestured towards the door.
The magician stepped into the reception hall, looked curiously
at the piles of wooden boxes, and then at the lamp, now sitting
on a small side table beside the daybed, and sniffed the air deeply.
"Ah," he said, with a twinkling smile, "I see
that you have found what Baalhanno is looking for!"
"Yes," said Legolas, "we think we have. But how
did you know?"
"I can smell the smoke... Who awakened the djinn?"
"I did," said Eowyn.
"What is wrong?" asked Legolas.
"The djinn is now Princess Eowyn's slave," said Niqmaddu.
"He can obey no other"
"We know," said Legolas.
"until the Princess dies." He bowed. "I
am sorry, your Highness."
"You are saying that, to get what he wants, Baalhanno must
kill me," said Eowyn.
"Just let him try," said Eowyn. "I have seen him
now, and I shall not be tricked by him again!"
"I am sure you will not," said the magician. "But
do not underestimate him, your Highness."
He looked from Faramir to Legolas and back again. "You must
both keep a very close watch on her."
"Of course we shall," said Legolas.
"Do you think she is dangerous?" asked Wilawen.
"She has no conscience," said Valandil. "If she
cannot be killed, there is nothing to stop her."
"Then we must get you away from here," said Wilawen,
"both of you, before"she shuddered"before
she comes to claim you."
She began pacing up and down the terrace. "Valandil and
I could fly away, but Figwit cannot leave... We need to break
the spell that holds him here... But how? I know nothing of magic,"
"Nor do I," said Valandil. He looked at Figwit; the
other elf shook his head.
"Then what do we know?" asked Wilawen.
There was no answer from either of the elves.
"We know that there is a mainland," she said. "How
Valandil closed his eyes and tried to remember how long it had
taken the roc to cross the sea. "Ten, twenty miles,"
"So: not far," said Wilawen. "And, Figwit, you
say that you were taken to a citya seaportwhich is
probably where our ship was heading, too." She leaned over
the terrace wall, looking out over the empty blue sea. "Who
else was on that ship? Valandilyou knew some of the others."
"Prince Legolas and Lady Eowyn," said Valandil. "Camthalion
"That was the Lady of the Shield Arm? I had no idea!"
She began pacing again. "If I could find her, and
Prince Legolas, and free them, and find someone who does
know about magic, we would have a chance. But I would have to
"You would never find them," said Figwit. "There
must be thousands of people in that city. A million..."
"But you have trained the roc to find elves," said
Wilawen. "And there will not be many of those. Of course,
I shall need to"
"Why do you keep saying 'I'," asked Valandil, "instead
"Because you must stay here," said Wilawen.
"What? No! Why?"
"We cannot both leave. What if the woman were to come for
Figwit whilst we were gone?"
Valandil looked from Wilawen to his friend and back again in
frustration. "You cannot go alone," he said, firmly.
"We have no choice," she replied. "You must stay.
I could not defend Figwit!"
"Both go," said Figwit. "Valandil is right, Wilawenit
is too dangerous for you to go alone. I will manage. After all,
the woman has waited five yearswhy would she come for me
now? Both go. But come back. Come back soon."
The baboon was struggling on its leash.
"Hold him still," cried the magician, raising his wand.
"He is afraid of the stick," said Eowyn. "Shhhhh,
shhhhh." Gently, she grasped the back of the baboon's
head, pulled it into her lap and covered its eyes with her other
hand. "Now," she said.
Skipping forward, almost like a dancer, the magician touched
his wand to the animal's forehead.
There was another bright flash.
Then, tactfully, Legolas took a second throw from the daybed
and draped it over Haldir's naked body.
"How do you feel?" asked Eowyn, gently.
"Better," said Haldir, "much better." He
smiled. "Almost myself."
He raised his head from her lap and sat back on his heels, swiftly
wrapping the throw around his lower body. Then he looked up, apologetically,
at Legolas. "Thank you," he said. "All of you.
Thank you." His eyes were bright.
"We are just glad to have you back," said Legolas,
laying his hand on the bigger elf's shoulder. "Faramir, will
you take care of Master Niqmaddu whilst Haldir and I see whether
there is anything in my extensive new wardrobe that will fit him?"
He turned to the magician. "I shall tell Lady Hentmirë
that you are here, sir. I am sure that she will want to thank
"You look like Lady Eowyn," said Valandil.
They had cut the full skirt from Wilawen's dress and she was
wearing the bodice with a pair of trousers and some boots she
had borrowed from Figwit. She slung a small cloth pouch across
"What is that?" asked the elf.
"Something useful I found in the desert"
"Are you ready?" cried Figwit. "The roc is coming!"
He cupped his hands to his mouth and whistled a long, plaintive
The bird responded with the same call and, swooping down, landed
lightly on the terrace wall.
"Mae govannen, hiril velui," said Figwit. "I
have a favour to ask."
The bird made a purring sound, deep in her throat.
"I want you to take my friends to the mainlandto the
nearest cityand help them find another elf. Will you do
that for me, hiril velui?"
The bird cried loudly.
"Thank you." Figwit turned to Valandil and Wilawen.
"Come and stand by the wall," he said.
The roc turned carefully on the parapet, crossing her large,
ungainly feet one over the other, then spread her wings and took
off, climbing, gracefully, high into the sky.
For a terrible moment, Wilawen was afraid that bird had not understood
Figwit's request. But then the roc turned and swooped back towards
them, faster and faster. And Wilawen shut her eyes and hardly
felt the talons close around herfelt nothing but a moment
of sickening weightlessness as the bird lifted her from the ground...
And then she was flying!
Wilawen opened her eyes and smiled across at Valandil. "I
am getting used to this," she shouted.
"Magus Niqmaddu," cried Hentmirë, holding out
her hand, "how lovely to see you again. And you have rescued
Legolas' friend from the malice of that terrible man! However
can I repay you?"
The magician took her plump little fingers in his own and raised
them to his lips. "Your smile is as enchanting as ever, Lady
Hentmirë," he said. "No further payment is necessary."
Hentmirë smiled again, happily. "Will you join us for
"I shall be delighted to, my lady."
"Look!" cried Valandil. "The city!"
Wilawen screwed up her eyestrying to see like an elfand
the blur of grey, green and brown slowly turned into clusters
of buildings, surrounded by cultivation, nestling beneath a range
of sandy mountains.
As they crossed the harbour, the roc swooped down, passing close
to the bows of a three-masted carvel moored on its eastern fringe.
"That is the slave ship," shouted Wilawen, "we
are in the right place!"
Up the bird rose, clearing the tall warehouses lining the wharves,
and hovered for a moment over the bustling souk. Then she continued
south east, to where the great town gave way to desert and only
a few strange buildings stood isolated in the sand. There, she
circled one of the sprawling villas, showing Valandil two elves
lazing beside an artificial pool.
Camthalion and Orodreth, he thought, blessed as ever...
"No," he cried, "not those elves. Find me another."
The bird flew out into the desert, climbing on the warm air rising
up the mountain side, then turned, and, heading more northerly
now, zigzagged over the poorest quarter, where the crowded streets
were filled with cramped, misshapen tenements.
There, she circled again, showing Valandil a third elf, sitting
with a gang of thieves.
Vardamir! he thought. Vardamir the murdering orc! What
is he doing here? "No," he cried, "not now!
I will deal with him later. Find me another!"
Banking to the west, the roc flew back along the sea shore, following
a broad, straight road lined with palatial villas. "Yes!"
cried Valandil, "Yes! On the balcony of the pink houselook!Prince
Legolas and March Warden Haldir! Leave us here!"
Instantly the bird obeyed him, dropping low, and reaching for
the ground, opening her claws just before her feet touched, leaving
Valandil and Wilawen standing in the sandy road, then she climbed
back into the clear blue sky and, with slow, steady strokes, flew
out across the sea.
"Will you be able to call her back when we want to leave?"
"Well," said Legolas, "it is a little short, and
very tight, but it will stop you scaring the ladies of
"Look," cried Haldir, "Valandil!"
Legolas turned towards the road just in time to see the roc swoop
down and set the missing elfand the woman who had been taken
with himgently on the ground.
"This land is truly full of wonders," he said.
"And then," said Valandil, "she opened her eyes."
He took a sip of wine.
"Whatever did you do?" asked Hentmirë.
"He was stunned," said Wilawen.
"I went back to the prison, found Wilawen, and we both climbed
up to the terrace."
"You are sure that you saw her eyes move?" asked Niqmaddu.
"Absolutely," said Valandil.
"Tell him what you sensed," said Wilawen.
"I sensed her spirit, decaying," said Valandil.
"It would be," said the magician, his twinkling smile
absent, for once. "It certainly would be." He looked
down at his untouched food. "We thought the prison impregnable.
But it seems we were wrong..."
"Who is this woman, Magus?" asked Legolas. "And
why is she imprisoned?"
"She is a prisoner of war, your Highness," said Niqmaddu.
"Thirty years ago, she attacked Carhilivren and was narrowly
defeated, and I helped the Hatja build a prison to hold herher
and all of her unfortunate followerssecurely."
He laid his knife beside his plate and, leaning on his elbows,
clasped his hands together. "Her name is Naqiya-Zakutu but
her people called her 'Naqiya the Terrible' and 'She who is feared'.
She was a woman without conscience and without mercy, and she
ruled the land of Kuri for over two hundred years."
"Kuri..." said Hentmirë. "I thought that
the land of Kuri was a myth."
"It is best that people think so," said Niqmaddu. He
turned to Legolas and Faramir. "But Kuri is all too reala
barren, featureless desert land, many leagues to the south, with
no trees, no mines, no natural resources of any kind, save one.
And that one resource has made it fabulously wealthy."
"What is it?" asked Faramir.
"Water," said Niqmaddu.
"I do not understand."
"A fountain of youth!" said Hentmirë.
Niqmaddu nodded. "Deep in the rocks below the royal palace,"
he said, "there is a spring. Its water is chargedwhether
by some property of the surrounding stone or whether by ancient
magic, I do not knowwith a restorative power. And whoever
drinks from the spring ceasesfor a timeto age. Some
even say that the water can reverse aging. People
travel from all over Far Harad to drink it."
"What a terrible thing," said Faramir. "It must
enslave all who touch it, for once they have experienced its power,
they will surely crave more."
"And some of them have killed to get it," said the
magician, "for Naqiya's guards took an oath to defend it
with their lives."
"But does it really work?" asked Wilawen. "It
sounds more likely that people are being swindled to me."
"It is always wise to be sceptical, young lady," said
Niqmaddu, shaking his head, "but, in this case, your friend,
Valandil, has seen proof of its effects. Queen Naqiya drank the
water every day; it is said that she even bathed in it. And, as
a result, her body will never die."
"But her spirit has," said Valandil. "I felt it
"The water is poison to the spirit," the magician agreed.
"And, as the spirit dies, all humanity dies with it..."
"How sad," said Hentmirë. "I wonder if she
knew that before she used it?"
Legolas patted her hand. "But surely," he said to the
magician, "you did not leave this woman's followers
to die in your prison?"
Niqmaddu shook his head.
"Then why are they dead?"
"And why can Naqiya open her eyes?" asked Niqmaddu.
"For I placed the strongest of all sleeping spells upon her.
Who has released her? And why? Was it her successor? If it was,
is he planning to resume the war on Carhilivren? Does he have
an army? Or...
"It is such a strange co-incidence... Could it have been
"Baalhanno! What would he have to gain by releasing this
woman?" asked Faramir.
"I have no idea," said the magician. "I do not
know the answer to any of these questions, your Highness."
Wilawen cleared her throat. "Well, whoever it was,"
she said, "we need to get back to the island. And quickly,
for Figwit is there all alone."
It was decided that Valandil and Wilawen would return to the
island immediately, Niqmaddu would go back to his house for supplies
then follow on his carpet, taking Legolas and Eowyn with him,
and Faramir and Haldir would go to Arinna's, 'rescue' Orodreth
and Camthalion, then sail to the island on Hentmirë's ship.
"She is very fast," said Hentmirë, "and dear
Captain Mutallu is an excellent sailor. He will have us there
in no time."
Legolas drew her aside. "You must leave this to us, my lady,"
"But I can help."
"I can! I can cooka little. And I can dress wounds.
I am very good at making bandages."
Legolas could not stop himself hugging her.
But would she really be any safer here, alone, he wondered,
than on the ship with Faramir and Haldir and her dear Captain
He sighed. "I want you to make me a promise," he said,
sternly. "I want you to promise that you will stay with Faramir
or Haldir or with Captain Mutallu at all times; that you will
never wander off alone; and that, if you are scared, you will
stay on the ship. Do you promise?"
"Show me your hands."
Hentmirë brought both hands out from behind her back, hastily
uncrossing her plump fingers.
She bit her lip. "I promise," she said. "But I
will not be scared."
Valar, thought Legolas. Now I have two Shieldmaidens
to worry about!
"Look," said Eowyn, handing Legolas a small bow and
a quiver of heavy arrows. "I found these amongst Hentmirë's
Legolas raised the bow and tested its draw weight.
"How is it?"
"It is heavy for its size," he said, "and I am
very much out of practice." He smiled, "But it is good
to feel the pull of a bowstring again. Thank you melmenya."
"I have also found some swords." She showed him two
scimitars with broad, curved blades. "They are decorative,
really, but quite sharp and surprisingly well-balanced..."
She began performing the basic guards, moving fluidly from one
to the next. Oxshe raised the sword above her head
and held it horizontal, pointing at her imaginary opponent's headPloughshe
brought the hilt of the sword down to her hip, blade pointing
upwardsFoolshe lowered sword point, inviting
her enemy to strikeOver the roofthen raised
her hands above her shoulders, ready to slice downwardsTailand
brought the blade down to her side, then began again...
"These people do not seem to use scabbards, so we must
be careful how we carry them, but I am sure they will be useful.
I have given Valandil the best one"
Legolas snatched up the other sword and struck.
Eowyn parried, but the elf ducked beneath her blade and caught
her round the waist. Their swords dropped to the floor and they
grappled, Legolas exerting his superior strength to hold her still
whilst he leaned in and kissed her mouth, hard.
"That was an interesting move," said Eowyn. "I
am not sure that it would work with an orc, but an undead woman
might certainly be conqueredprovided"she slid
her hand down between their bodies"she did not realise
how vulnerable it left you, here." She grasped his
ceryn, though very gently.
Legolas nuzzled her neck.
"We should not be doing this, Lassui," said Eowyn.
"Why not, melmenya?"
"We are about to go into battle."
"That is precisely when a warrior needs it most, Eowyn nín."
He rubbed himself against her belly.
"Impressive weapon," said Eowyn, softly. "Very
"Ohyes!" cried Eowyn.
Her hands, which had been clawing at the coverlet, suddenly flew
behind her head and grabbed the bedstead, and her body bowed upwards,
and Legolas, holding her by the hips, rammed himself into her
again and again.
"Gods, that was... vigorous," said Eowyn. She
rolled onto her stomach and leaned over him. "Sometimes,
Lassui, you surprise me."
"What do you mean?"
"Most of the time I feel like I have known you all my life."
She stroked his face. "But, in truth, we have been together
for less than a year. And there are sides to you that I do not
"Did I hurt you?"
"Did I say it hurt?"
She smiled. "You are a wonderful lover, edhel
nín, even excited by the thought of battle," she
said. "No: it is the warrior in you that I do not know. I
caught a glimpse of him at Helm's Deep, finishing off wounded
orcs, and then again, leading the elves at Minas AthradI
fought beside him there. But I have never really seen the fearsome
elven warrior the Rohirrim so revere. He is not a part of my
"Did you do it before Helm's Deep? Or Pelennor Field?"
"Have a woman?"
"Melmenya! You know I did not! From the moment I
saw you, Eowyn nín, to have made love with anyone
else would have been impossible!"
"You should have come to me then."
"And what would you have said?"
Eowyn thought for a moment. "I do not know... I think I
would have been flattered. But I think I would have said no."
She slipped her arms around his waist and hugged him tightly.
"More fool me."
"Are you afraid, melmenya?"
"Of the woman?"
"Of what you might see in me."
"I do not know..."
He stroked her back. "When you slew the Witch King, what
did you feel?"
"What do you mean?"
"How did killing him make you feel?"
She laid her head on his chest. "I was angry," she
said, "and frightened... My uncle was lying helpless beneath
Snowmane... The Witch King had shattered my shield arm, and I
could see no way to defeat him. Then Merry attacked him from behind
and he was left off guard. The only weakness in his armour was
at the mouth, so I stabbed him there. And the moment my sword
entered him I felt his evil poison me. But I also felt...
"Elation. Yes, elation. I felt him die, Lassui. It
had been him or me, and I had survived."
"And did that feeling make you any less Eowyn? Or did it
make you more Eowyn?"
After a moment, she raised her head and smiled at him. "More
Eowyn," she said.
"So, although I did not see it happen," said Legolas,
"killing the Witch King made you my Eowyn."
"And I am your Legolas."
He brushed back her hair and kissed her tenderly. "Now our
only worry," he said, "is: when I see you using your
sword, will I be able to fight beside you? Or will I have to drag
you off into some quiet corner and ravish you?"
It had been going on for several minutes now.
Valandil had said that the spiral staircase came up as well as
down, and they had all wondered where it might end...
Now Figwit knew.
The door was hidden behind the wooden panelling in his bedroom.
And someoneShe?had opened it, found the way barred,
and was trying to break through.
There was something chilling about the slow, relentless pounding.
Figwit had never been much of a fighter. He tried to formulate
The planks will not hold much longer, he thought. They
are dry and brittle. I need to reinforce them. He ran into
the sitting room. If I pile the chest and the table against
them and then jam them in place with the couch and the bed...
From the bedroom came the sound of splintering wood. I must
be quick. And I need to find a club.