"Gofind some firewood, and bring it back,
here," said Eowyn, pointing to the ground.
"I hear and obey," said the djinn, favouring
her with an elaborate bow. Then he soared up into the sky, and
disappeared towards the mainland, leaving a faint trail of smoke
Eowyn shook her head. "What am I going to do with him?"
she asked Legolas. "We can hardly take a djinn back to Eryn
Carantaur with us."
She crouched beside him and carefully pulled the woollen cloak
up around his shoulders. "We should soon be able to light
a fire, my love..."
Legolas smiled. "Stop worrying, melmenya," he said.
"I am quite warm enough."
"How can I stop?" asked Eowyn. "The fall
could have killed you. And it was my fault. If I had not been
so foolish about flying"
"Eowyn! I fell because of the storm!" He stroked her
cheek. "Who rescued me, using her very own magical
being?" He leaned closer, and whispered in her ear: "And
who warmed me, using her very own magical body?"
Reluctantly, Eowyn grinned. "Stop it," she whispered.
"Anyway," she added, "I think the Magus will find
a fire comforting. I have never seen a man so shaken by the sight
She stopped in mid sentence at a tiny sign from Legolas and turned
to look behind her. The magician was coming towards them.
"Your Highnesses," he said, urgently, "I do not
believe the rubble is a natural rock fall. Someone deliberately
blocked the prison entrance and left everyone to dieand
Queen Naqiya does not have the power to move matter. Something
extraordinarily malevolent is going on in there, and your friends
are still trapped inside." He drew out his wand. "I
must go back inside. Will you accompany me?"
"Valar!" said Legolas, springing to his feet. "Of
course!" He held out his hand to Eowyn. "Come, melmenya."
Wilawen's stake sank into Naqiya-Zakutu's back like a hot knife
into butter, but the undead woman simply reached behind her, drew
it out, and dashed it to the floor.
Then she rose from Valandil and, with a strange, spider-like
motion, turned on Wilawen, whose presence she seemed to be registering
for the first time.
"Gods, preserve me," whispered Wilawen, backing
awayuntil a few steps brought her up against something solid.
Oh, no! Without taking her eyes off the woman, Wilawen
felt behind her. One of the weapons racks. Her hands searched
blindly for a knife or a sword...
The rack was empty.
Nothing. Oh gods...
Queen Naqiya's hands reached for her throat.
Wilawen, her strength suddenly spent, slid to the floor.
Valandil moaned. "Run, meleth nín, run..."
But Wilawen could no longer move, and she knew she would not
have run had she been able.
How could I leave him? My life was empty before I met him...
She stared defiantly into the queen's dead eyes. "Do your
worst, you she-orc," she whispered.
"I cannot move the rock," said Niqmaddu, as they climbed
the steps, "but I may be able to protect Valandil and Wilawen,
at least for the time being. Then, perhaps, if your djinn can
remove the rubble for us, weoh..."
He faltered, once more, at the sight of the dead guards, but
Legolas squeezed his arm.
"When the djinn returns, we will free their bodies and help
their spirits find rest," he said. "In the meantime,
the living need you."
"Yes," said Niqmaddu, "yes." He raised his
right hand, pointing his wand at the rubble, paused for one, two,
three heartbeats, then cried, "Shield them!"
For a split-second, confusion flickered across Naqiya-Zakutu's
hitherto impassive face. Then she drew back her hands, curled
them into fists, and hammered them down on Wilawen's head.
But the blows ended harmlessly, in mid air, inches from her victim's
Wilawen stared at the queen's grazed knuckles. What is happening?
She reached up and tried to touch the woman's hands, but could
not. A smooth, hard surfacean invisible wallwas standing
between them. Wilawen ran her fingers over it, following its contours.
It seemed to surround her completely.
Ignoring Naqiya's relentless attempts to reach her, Wilawen crawled,
on all fours, towards the elf. "Valandil..."
Her head hit something solidOf course, he is surrounded
She came up on her knees and, for a moment, hung in mid air,
hands spread, pushing against the magical barrier with all her
might. Then the walls gave way and she fell through.
But Valandil was there to catch her.
"Something is happening," said Niqmaddu. "My spell
is active. Your friends are in danger!"
"What can we do?" asked Legolas.
Eowyn turned, and ran out of the prison door. "DJINN,"
she shouted across the sea, "DJINN! COME HERE! NOW!"
Valandil crushed her against his chest. "Meleth nín,"
he whispered, his lips pressed to her temple, "I thought
she would kill you."
Wilawen hugged him back, fiercely. "And I thought she would
kill you. But your friends must have arrived with the magician,"
she said, "just in time."
Valandil kissed her forehead. "Just in time."
"Where has she gone?"
"I do not know"
"Valar! I had forgotten about him!"
"Can you stand?"
"YesI think so..."
They scrambled to their feet and, hand in hand, followed the
trail of Naqiya-Zakutu's blood.
"Here he comes," said Legolas.
The djinn swooped down, somersaulting flamboyantly, before landing
on his whispy tail and bowing to Eowyn, laying two large armfuls
of wood on the ground before her. "You called me, pretty
little mistress," he said, "and your wish is
"Through there," said Eowyn, pointing towards the prison
entrance, "there is a pile of rocks. I want you to move the
rocks out here," she pointed to the sea, "as quickly
as you can."
"I hear and obey," said the djinn, leaping into
He flew through the prison door, seized a massive boulder from
the top of the wall and, turning in the air like a swimmer, skimmed
back long the ground, dumping the rock in the sea; then he turned
again and flowed back inside.
Faster and faster he moved, carrying one rock after another,
untilto Eowyn's eyeshis actions dissolved into a continuous
blur of colour, surrounded by a halo of dust.
"Oh no," whispered Wilawen, "no..."
Figwit was lying, pale and still, on a wooden bench, like a corpse
on a marble slab. Queen Naqiya-Zakutu was bending over him, her
face buried in the crook of his neck.
"Leave him!" cried Valandil.
The queen raised her head and stared at them; her mouth was dripping
The elf squeezed Wilawen's hand. "I will get her away from
him," he said, "then we must use our bodies to shield
him with the spell."
Wilawen nodded. "Say when."
Valandil squeezed her hand again. "Now!"
Co-ordinating their movements by instinct, they ran to the bench.
Valandil released Wilawen's hand and jumped, swinging his feet
up and over the wooden surface and slamming them into Naqiya's
face. At the same time, Wilawen threw herself on top of Figwit,
stretching out to cover as much of him as possible. A moment later,
Valandil joined her.
She felt his hand on her waist and turned to face him, smiling
He smiled back. Then, "What is that noise?" he asked.
"Someone is breaking through the rubble."
"No," said Valandil. "The other noise."
"Stop!" cried Eowyn.
The djinn froze, mid cartwheel, his arm outstretched, his head
pointing downwards. "Does my work not please you, pretty
little mistress?" he asked.
"Your work is excellent," said Eowyn, "but the
gap is big enough. You may return to your lamp now."
"I hear and obey."
He took a moment to right himself, then disappeared down the
narrow spout. Eowyn carefully placed the lamp in her bag and drew
out her sword.
"All set," she said.
Legolas had already strapped on Hentmirë's father's quiver
and his one white knife. He picked up the small, heavy bow. "Perhaps,"
he said to Niqmaddu, "you should stay out here, Magus."
The magician shook his head. "As much as I would like to
do exactly that, your Highness," he said, "I think that
you and your friends may need me in there."
"Then take carestay by the entrance until we tell
you it is safe," said the elf. "Come, melmenya."
As they were clambering through the gap in the rubble wall, Legolas
suddenly held up his hand and listened intently. "They are
in a side chamber, to the right," he said, "and we had
"What other noise?" asked Wilawen. Then, "Oh..."
She turned her head slowly and looked in the direction of the
strange crackling sounds. "Oh, gods!"
Several of the mummified corpses had risen from the floor and
were advancing on them with the same relentless determination
Naqiya-Zakutu had shown.
"Courage, Wilawen," said Valandil, softly.
"Some magic re-animates their empty shells, meleth nín,"
he said, "but their spirits stand beside us and they
wish us no harm. Remember, the spell will protect us. We
must protect Figwit."
"I'll remember," she whispered, closing her eyes tightly.
The bow's range was short and the arrows were heavy but Legolas
judged the shot perfectly, piercing the skull of the leading corpse,
from back to front. For a split-second the creature staggered.
Then it continued advancing as before.
Legolas drew two arrows and loosed them simultaneously, with
exactly the same result.
"They are already dead," cried Eowyn. "But perhaps
we can dismember them!" She ran forward, sword raised, and
struck at one of the stragglers, severing its spineand the
creature fell to the ground, its legs still walking where they
Following her lead, Legolas drew his white knife and began removing
heads and arms with surgical precision; Eowyn, at his side, continued
hacking and slashing with her scimitar.
Rapidly, they cut a path to their friends.
"Quickly, Valandil," said Legolas, "see if you
can get Figwit outsidethe Magus will help youwe will
hold them back."
Valandil swung himself off the bench. Wilawen followed and, together,
they pulled the semi-conscious Figwit to his feet and began dragging
him towards the entrance. Legolas and Eowyn, fighting on the left
and right flanks, tried to keep the way clear but, as they passed,
more and more corpses rose up, brandishing weapons, and pieces
of wood, and dismembered limbs.
The odds were becoming insuperable.
Suddenly, Niqmaddu stepped through the door and raised his wand.
"Be still!" he cried.
The corpses froze.
Everyone waited, nervously...
But the spell held.
With a sigh of relief, Eowyn let her sword hand fall to her side.
And at that very momentwith the magician's attention completely
focussed on the deada slender figure swathed in black robes
flew through the guardroom door on Niqmaddu's own carpet. He skimmed
over the rescuers, dipped behind the wooden bench, and raised
up Naqiya-Zakutu, who was still lying where Valandil had left
her. Then he swept out of the chamber, bidding Niqmaddu farewell
with an insolent salute.
"That was the pedlar!" cried Eowyn. "That was
Baalhanno! And he has my bag! He has the djinn!"
They ran out onto the wharf, but Baalhanno was already gone.
Valandil and Wilawen set Figwit down on the stone steps. Valandil
crouched before him, chafing his hands.
Wilawen examined his neck. "Dear gods, she has bitten him,"
she said. "It is quite superficial, but I wish we had some
water and clean cloths..."
Eowyn, sitting hunched forward on the steps, buried her face
in her hands. "Why did I leave the lamp out here?"
"Do not blame yourself, melmenya." Legolas sat down
beside her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "None of
us imagined he was close by..."
"But now he has the djinn," said Eowyn. "He
has what he has wanted all along"
"No," said Niqmaddu. "No; the djinn is your
slave, your Highness; he is yours for the rest of your life. He
will not obey Baalhanno."
"Does Baalhanno know that?" asked Legolas.
The magician shrugged. "He must know it."
"Then why did he take it? Unless"
The elf and the magician stared at each other in alarm, both
coming to the same conclusion at the same instant.
"He does not expect Princess Eowyn to live much longer,"
said Niqmaddu, softly.
A small stone bounced down the cliff face.
"We are sitting targets," said Legolas, leaping to
his feet, "but for what?" He raised his bow, looking
about the wharf. "There is nothing out here..."
"Perhaps that is the danger," said Niqmaddu. "Perhaps
he intends for us to die of thirst, like the prisoners. Perhaps
that is why he took my carpet."
Another stone clattered to the ground.
Legolas shook his head. "That would surely take too long,"
he said. "Besides, Hentmirë will be here at any moment,
with her ship."
A handful of pebbles rained down onto the wharf. The elf looked
up at the cliff. High above him, thousands of small stones were
pouring down its face, like a waterfall, and, here and there,
jagged cracks were appearing in the rock behind.
Oh Valar! Yes, sitting targets
"Into the sea!"
he cried "Quickly, quickly! Into the water!"
Legolas broke the surface and looked around wildly.
Where is Eowyn?
The rocks were falling in a thundering curtain nowthe wharf
was buried in debris and the prison entrance already invisibleand
massive blocks were breaking off the cliff and bouncing into the
Where is she?
He heard a splash behind him, and turned.
Thank the Valar!
But Eowyn was not a strong swimmer and she was working far too
hard to stay afloat. Legolas swam towards her. "Keep calm,
melmenya," he said. "Let me help you..."
Somehow, he managed to slip his hands beneath her arms and pull
her head and shoulders against his chest.
"Prince Legolas!" cried Valandil, suddenly. "To
the east! There is a covewe can climb ashore!"
"Good! Lead on!" Legolas spat out a mouthful of salty
water. "Relax, melmenya," he said, softly. "Keep
still and leave it to me. I will soon have you back on dry land."
The cove was a semi-circular shelf of barren rock, backed by
vertical cliffs. There was no obvious way out.
"What are we going to do now?" asked Wilawen, helping
Figwit out of the water.
"Hentmirë and the others will soon be here," said
Legolas, reassuringly. "But we must think of some way to
attract their attention."
"I still have my wand," said Niqmaddu. "I should
be able to conjure up a few fireworks"
"Look!" cried Valandil, pointing out to sea.
Legolas turned, and stared. Rolling across the vivid blue water
was a huge black ball, its boiling core spiked with flashes of
lightning, like a giant Palantír.
"Could it be..." Eowyn began.
"It is the ship, melmenya," said Legolas. "It
is Hentmirë's ship!"
"Hold on!" cried Captain Mutallu.
A mass of white, foaming water burst over the Early Bird's bows
and rushed towards the stern. With a split-second to spare, Faramir
grabbed the taffrail with one hand, and Hentmirë's arm with
the other, and clung desperately to both as the water surged over
and under and through them.
Then another wave, helped by the shrieking wind, laid the Bird
over to port, with her deck almost vertical and, for a few terrifying
moments, Faramir's right handslipping on the wet woodwas
all that prevented both him and the little woman from falling
The next instant the boat had righted herself.
"Tie my lady to the mainmast!" shouted Mutallu.
Faramir tried to estimate the distance: Thirty feet, perhaps.
Can we make it?
Another massive wave, higher than the Great Gates of Minas Tirith,
was approaching the starboard bow, moving faster than a running
man. As Faramir braced himself for the impact, he felt Hentmirë's
hand squeeze his ownshe had caught the taffrail and was
doing her very best to pull her weight.
Faramir squeezed back. "Ready?" he shouted.
She nodded, her plump face grimly determined.
Then the boat dropped out from under them, just as the wave broke,
and the water hit them like a charging warg, turning Faramir around
and smashing him into the rail, leaving him hunched over the wood,
struggling to fill his lungs.
A spot of red, like a dragon's eye, opened in the black depths
of the storm-tossed ball, glowed menacingly, then flared orangeyellowwhite
And the ball blew apart with a dull boom.
"No!" cried Eowyn. "No! Faramir! Faramir! Haldir!"
She ran towards the water, but Legolas caught her in his arms
and pulled her against his chest, shielding her eyes from the
sight of the broken ship.
"Shhhh, melmenya," he whispered, hugging her
close. "Shhhh, shhhh..." He bowed his
head to hers and prayed for both of them, "Hiro hyn hîdh
"No..." sobbed Eowyn.