Legolas and his small band of warriors entered
Osgiliath shortly before dawn.
They had worked their way through the Forest, staying close to
the Anduin and keeping as far from the rocks of Emyn Arnen as
the terrain allowed. They had seen no sign of the dark elves,
but Legolas could not shake the feeling that danger was close
by and, when they reached the abandoned city, he decided to wait
until daylight before attempting to cross the river.
They quickly found a safe place to campa small, thick walled,
flat-roofed guard post, built into the city wall and commanding
views of the ruins to the east, and of the river to the west with
the western suburbs of the city beyond.
Haldir volunteered to keep watch.
We will rest here for two hours, said Legolas to
Eowyn, Gimli and Arador. Try to sleep.
He sat with Eowyn until her slow, regular breathing told him
that she was safely asleep, then he joined the March Warden outside.
Haldir had walked a little way north along the wall, and was
standing beside its outer parapet, looking towards the Anduin.
If they attack, said Legolas, quietly, it will
be from over there. He indicated the ruins behind them.
They are not here. They should be hereotherwise,
why did none of Eowyns messengers reach Minas Tirith? They
cannot be beyond the wall,he nodded towards the great
fortification that surrounded The Pelennorfor the
plain within is too exposed.
They live in the rocks, said Legolas. They
may be beneath us, or...
They may already be in Minas Tirith.
Haldir turned to him in alarm.
Suppose they have emerged from Mount Mindolluin,
said Legolas, thinking aloud, and taken Minas Tirith as
they took Caras Arnen. That would explain why Aragorn has sent
no aidfor, even without Eowyns messengers, he must
know that something is wronghe has had no communication
from Faramir in almost a month, and there will have been no travellers,
no merchants ...
Where would that leave us?
We will proceed as planned, said Legolas.
With Eowyn? And the boy?
It is all conjecture at present, replied Legolas,
we will not know for certain until we reach the city. And
Eowyn and the boy would be no safer back at the encampment.
Haldir nodded. Then, turning back towards the east, where a faint,
pinkish glow was already spreading upwards over Osgiliath, he
said, Eowyn and Ithe other Eowynwe
Yes, said Legolas.
It must seem...
With an effort, Haldir looked his Lord in the eye. When
it happened, I did not know exactly who she was, but I was
sure that she was not your wife.
Oh, Haldir! Legolas patted his friend on the back.
Do you think I ever doubted that?
You are more trusting than I would be, said Haldir.
I know you. And I know my Eowyn. He nodded towards
the west and the two elves crossed the wall-walk and surveyed,
once more, the shores of the Anduin.
Do you intend to stay here? asked Legolas.
If it is possible, said Haldir. And if you
will grant me permission.
What is, and is not, possible, said Legolas, we
will not know until we trywe may none of us have any choice
but to stay here. As for the other: do you really feel you need
to ask? He shook his head. But Haldir
He stopped abruptly. Then he said, softly, Did you see that?
Haldir nodded. It is not a dark elftoo tall...
He leaned across the parapet, observing the figure that had emerged
from the ruins on the farther bank of the river. It is a
man, he said, who has darkened his face.
So as not to be seen in the moonlight, agreed Legolas.
As the two elves watched, the man slipped into the water and
began to swimworking hard to maintain his course across
the swift current.
He is a good swimmer, said Legolas, but he
will need help. Wake Gimli: tell him to take over the watch. Then
join me at the waters edge.
Good morning, said Legolas, awkwardly. He stepped
into Eowyns tent, lowering the flap behind him. Did
you sleep well?
Eowyn frowned. Yes, since you ask, thank you...
It is just... Legolas cleared his throat. He himself
had spent a difficult night, slipping in and out of reveriesometimes
falling into mortal-like sleepplagued by lurid visions of
the woman now standing before him. I know, he said,
that mortals need sleep...
There is precious little time for it here, said Eowyn,
brusquely. What did you want?
Legolas narrowed his eyeseverything was suddenly blurredand
his head seemed too heavy for his shoulders. May Isit
Over here. Eowynmost inappropriately, he thoughtput
her arm around his waist and led him to a chair. Are you
I... Legolas sank into the seat. To tell
the truth, I...
Berengar! Eowyn struggled to stop the unconscious
elf falling. Berengar!
The tent flap rose, but it was not Berengar who came rushing
to her aid. Perhaps, said Hentmirë, supporting
Legolas from the other side, we could lie him on the floor...
Yes. Eowyn allowed the little woman to take the lead
and, together, they lowered Legolas inert body to the ground
and rolled him onto his side. Where is Berengar? muttered
Eowyn. We need a healerwhat are you doing?
I am loosening his clothing, said Hentmirë,
opening the elfs suede jerkin. It is what Master Findecáno
did when Legolasmy Legolasswooned the other day. And
he gave him some smelling salts. Do you have any smelling salts?
She hesitated briefly then, blushing deeply, she lifted the elfs
silken tunic and unlaced the waistband of his leggings.
Yes. Hentmirë quickly lowered the silver fabric.
Perhaps there is a healer with the elves. If you will watch
over him, I can go and see...
No, said Eowyn, you stay here with Legolasyou
seem to know what you are doing. I will find Berengar, and ask
him to fetch an elven healer.
Despite Haldirs best efforts, it had been impossible to
rouse a fully-armed dwarf and get him out of the guardhouse without
making enough noise to wake Eowyn.
He raised a finger to his lips. Arador is still sleeping,
She nodded. Then, stretching, and gathering her cloak around
her, she rose and followed the elf out onto the wall-walk. What
is happening? Where is Legolas?
We saw a man trying to cross the riverit looks as
though he may be a messenger from Minas Tirith
She smiled, suddenly. With a message for my double!
If it is a message from Aragorn, said Haldir,
gently, it is more likely to be for Faramir.
Because no one knows that poor Faramir is dead
She looked up in alarm. He will be heading for Caras Arnen!
Yes. But Legolas has gone to intercept him, said
Haldir, and he ordered me to follow. I must go, Eowyn.
He bowed his head in a brief salute and turned to leave
No, wait! She caught his wrist.
The elf stopped, staring down at the little hand restraining
I will come with you, she said.
Knowing that the drow could see better in the dark than in the
light, Legolas ran down to the waterfront, bow in hand, keeping
to the brightest, warmest parts of the embankment, scanning both
sides of the river for any sign of the enemy.
The man was a good swimmer but the Anduin was in full flow and
Legolas could see that he was already tiring. What is keeping
Haldir? he wondered. Without someone to provide covering
shots, it would be madness to enter the river...
He surveyed the area againlooking, listening, and reaching
out with that elven sense that can feel imminent danger. Nothing.
And now the man was starting to drift.
Legolas slipped his bow into its strap and dived into the water.
What did you want to say? asked Haldir as they approached
the city gate.
Is that not why you came with me? He stopped walking
and turned to Eowyn, looking her directly in the eye. Legolas
is happy for mehe trusts mebut we both know
I do not know what you mean. Eowyn ducked past him.
I thought I was free of you, said Haldir, raising
his voice. I thought that she... I thought that I had found
my Eowyn. Then you came into her tent and everything
Please! Eowyn rounded on him. We have
had this conversation too many times, Haldir.
I am fond of her, said the elf. And I will
stay with her, if I can. I will grow to love her.
I hope you can, said Eowyn, softly. I really
do. But be careful, Haldir. She placed her hand upon her
breast. Be careful with your heart. She is too like
But Eowyn never finished her warning, because the big elf suddenly
gathered her into his arms and held her tightly.
As Legolas closed in on him, the manwho had been flounderingsuddenly
discovered an extra reserve of strength and, turning northwards
(against the flow of water), tried to swim away.
No, cried the elf, following him. No! Wait!
I am here to help you! I am King Elessars friend!
Whether the man heard him, Legolas could not tell but, suddenly,
all his strength seemed to desert him and, although his arms were
still moving, he began to drift once more, bobbing up and down,
overwhelmed by the current.
It was easy, then, for Legolas to come up behind him and, grasping
him beneath the arms, strike out for the shore.
By the time Legolas reached the bank, Haldir and Eowyn were there
to lift the exhausted man out of the water and lay him on the
Legolas clambered up by himself and quickly scanned the surrounding
buildings for any sign of the enemy. You should not have
come, melmenya, he muttered. Then, How is he?
When neither Eowyn nor the March Warden replied, Legolasfearing
the worstlooked down at the man and, for the first time,
had a clear view of his face.
Sweet Eru! he gasped. It is Berkin!
I do wish they would hurry, said Hentmirë. The
two women had covered the elf with a blanket and, at Hentmirës
insistence, had folded a cloth and placed it beneath his head.
To keep it tilted, in case he vomits, I think, she
explained. She lifted Legolas hand and attempted again to
check his pulse. I am not sure that I am doing this right...
Eowyn patted her shoulder. You are taking very good care
of him, Lady Hentmirëthank you.
He is not my Legolas, said Hentmirë,
but I do not want anything bad to happen to him.
Berengar should be back with help at any moment,
said Eowyn. Yes, thank the gods; I can hear him coming!
She turned towards the tent door as an unfamiliar elf appeared
at the opening. Quickly, pleaseover here.
The elven healer ducked inside andwithout even pausing
to greet herwent to work immediately, examining his patient
from head to foot. Though her inclination was to stay at Legolas
side, at least until the healer had given his diagnosis, Eowyn
saw that Berengarone step ahead of everyone else, as usualhad
also brought Lord Fingolfin and Captain Golradir with him, and
she knew that her responsibilities as commander-in-chief must
She forced herself to rise and greet them. Thank you for
coming my Lord, Captain, she said, inviting them to sit
down. You will be acting as Prince Legolas deputies,
Fingolfin bowed his head in assent. Captain Golradir will
assume command of our warriors, should that prove necessary, and
I will help you all I canbut I confess that I had another
reason to accompany Master Findecáno
You were right, my Lord, called the healer, suddenly.
What is it? asked Eowyn, immediately returning to
He has been poisoned, my Lady
Poisoned! cried Hentmirë. Then, So
you cannot use the smelling salts?
Not for this, my Lady.
But he will be all right?
Eowyn, equallythough not so visiblyworried, looked
to the healer for an answer.
The elf patted Hentmirës hand reassuringly. Healing
sleep is all that he requires in this case, my Lady. That is how
elven bodies recover.
Eowyn let out a sigh of relief. Can he be moved?
Of course, said the healer. I will arrange
to have him carried up
No, said Eowyn, he can stay here, of course.
I meant that perhaps the Captain would help you lift him onto
But what has poisoned him? persisted Hentmirë,
as the elves carried Legolas into the bedchamber. Was it
something he ate? She picked up the blanket and followed
them. Is anyone else likely to be poisoned?
No, said the healer. Thank you Captain.
He turned Legolas onto his side and carefully arranged his limbs.
Someone has been feeding Prince Legolas small amounts of
poison over a long period of time, my Lady, and his body has grown
accustomed to it. Now that he is no longer taking it, he has had
a severe reaction to its withdrawal.
But who would do that? asked Hentmirë, carefully
draping her blanket over the sleeping elf.
Eowyn frownedthat was exactly what she had been wondering.
It was a love potion, said Lord Fingolfin (putting
it tactfully, for the little womans sake).
His elf lady! said Hentmirë. I
knew that she was not good enough for him. She smoothed
the blanket over Legolas chest.
Alatáriël, agreed Fingolfin, but
not, I think, on her own. I imagine it was her fathers plan.
Eowyn drew the healer aside. He will recover?
How long will he sleep?
It is hard to say, my Lady. A day or two; perhaps moreI
have no way of knowing how long he had been taking the poison,
nor in what amount, said Findecáno.
Eowyn turned to Golradir. You must assume command of the
elven army, Captain. And,she addressed Fingolfinand
I would be most grateful, my Lord, for your assistance
in certain matters.
We are both at your service, my Lady, replied the
P-princess Eowyn, is P-prince Faramir with you? I have
b-bad news... Teeth chattering, Berkin sat, bunched up,
trying to rub some warmth into his upper arms. Oh! I am
sorryI r-really must get up and g-get moving.
Your cloak, Haldir, said Legolas, thank you.
He draped it around the young mans shoulders. This
Th-thank you, Prince Legolas. The young man bowed
his head respectfully.
The elf helped him to his feet. Come, Berkin. We must find
you some dry clothes. And then we can talk.
Yes... Butwaith-how do you know my name, your
I will explain that when we are safe, said Legolas.
He led the young man through the city gate and gestured towards
the steps leading up to the guardhouse. Up there.
Berkin stopped suddenly, and eyed him cautiously.
You do not trust me, said Legolas.
I... I do not know how you can p-possibly know my name,
unless... He sighed. But, s-since you are an elf,
it does not matter whether I t-trust you or notI have no
ch-chance of escaping. He began to climb. And I d-do
not think that Princess Eowyn would betray us... He stepped
up onto the wall-walk. But where is Prince Faramir, your
Highness? he asked, I m-must speak with him.
Eowyn shook her head. We have bad n
Berkin, lad! cried Gimli running up to the
boy and giving him a mighty bear hug. My, you have filled
out! There is muscle on you now! He slapped the young man's
back. But you are soaking wet!
Lord G-gimli! Berkin looked from the dwarf to Eowyn
and Legolas, and back again. W-what is going on? What are
you d-doing here? And how do you all know me?
Come inside, said Legolas. Before you freeze
They found him some dry leggings and a tunic and, whilst Arador
and Haldir stood guard outside, they sat down to talk.
How we know you, I will explain later, said Legolas,
for that is a long story. But as for why we are here...
Three weeks ago, Caras Arnen was invaded and Prince Faramir was
killed in the attack
Princess Eowyn led the survivors away from the city and
took refuge in a natural stronghold, south of the hills, where
she is now under siege. We have come to ask King Elessar for help.
He looked intently at the boy. But I begin to think that
something has befallen Aragorn, toois that not the news
you were carrying to Faramir?
What has happened in Minas Tirith, Berkin?
On the wall-walk
She is beautiful, said Arador, gazing out across
the ruins, really beautiful, like a princesswell,
she is a princess, of courseI mean, like a princess
in a tale.
Haldir frowned. But he already knew the boy well enough to sense
that he was not teasing.
So it is easy, Arador continued, to see how
things could happen that should not have happened.
What are you talking about?
You know what I am talking about.
Haldir said nothing for a moment. Then, So you saw us.
What do you want Arador?
Want? The boy turned to him in surprise. You
think that I...? He shook his head, his expression deadly
serious. I am not the one who is going to wreck two
It started about two weeks ago, said Berkin. My
Your father is still alive! exclaimed Gimli.
Yes, of course... Oh! No, not my real fatherI
mean Lord Olivan, who adopted me. I call him my father, becausewell,
What of your uncle? asked Legolas.
My uncle? My uncle was a murderer and we do not
speak of him.
That explains a lot, said the elf. But we interrupted
you, Berkin. You were telling us what had happened.
Two weeks ago, said Berkin, the King suddenly
dissolved the High Council and started using his Powers of Decree
to introduce new laws. At the same time, he dismissed all the
Captains of the Gondorian Guard and replaced them with men who
The boy searched for the right word. Well, my father calls
them scavengers. No one is allowed to leave his home
without a special permit
Issued by these scavengers, said Gimli.
Exactly, my Lord. All public gatherings are bannedeven
the taverns are closedand anyone who speaks out is immediately
punished. Several of my fathers friends have been arrested
and had their fortunes confiscated. Poorer citizens justvanish...
If anyone is caught out of doors without a permit or, even with
a permit, is found outside after curfew, he is summarily executedrun
through with a sword.
How did you get out? asked Legolas.
Well, I know certain ways, your Highness.
The tunnel network, said Gimli.
Yes. How do you know of that, my Lord?
Gimli smiled. Can you get us in the same way, lad?
I should think so...
And your contacts in the underworld, said Legolas.
What do they make of all this?
They bide their time. But they complain that their livelihood
is threatened, said Berkin.
Perhaps we can persuade them to help us, said Gimli.
If numbers prove necessary, said Legolas.
My uncle, said Arador, that pig who
is claiming to be my father, he gestured angrily in the
vague direction of Emyn Arnen, pestered my mother for yearstelling
her that he loved her, giving her gifts, turning up whenever my
father was away. My mother is a kind, gentle woman and could not
bear to hurt him, so she tolerated hisattentionsuntil
my father began to believe that she was being unfaithful to himwith
He threw her out of the house!
She and I spent four nights hiding in the stables.
How did you cross The Pelennor without being seen by the
Guards? asked Legolas.
I did notnot exactly, said Berkin. He smiledrevealing,
for the first time, that confident self-reliance that was so marked
in his double. There is an underground tunnel running northwards,
following the line of Mount Mindolluin, that issues a few hundred
yards beyond the Rammas Echor, he explained. My family
owns a herd of horses, which we keep corralled just south of the
Grey Wood. I set them free, knowing that they would head for the
water, and rode amongst until I was close enough to Osgiliath
to dismount and crawl the rest of the way. It was an expensive
It is good, said Gimli, to see you so active,
Berkin frowned. What do you mean, my Lord?
That, said Arador, is all I wanted to say.
He turned to leave.
Haldir caught his arm. Do not say anything to her...
Do you think I would? He shook off the elfs
hand. She is not at faultunless being too kind
is counted a fault.
There is not much else to tell you, said Berkin,
except that I fear for my father and mothers safety.
So you came to ask Faramir for help, said Legolas.
Does your father know what you are doing?
Just Olemia servant.
You did not tell your mother? asked a new voice,
from just inside the doorway.
Berkin looked up at Arador. She cannot keep a secret...
The fewer people who know, the better, said Legolas,
for them as well as for us. Come and join us, Arador.
But what has happened to Aragorn? asked Eowyn, suddenly.
None of this can be his doingthey must have taken
Legolas slipped his arm around her, and hugged her briefly. We
will find him, melmenya; we will free him and help him put things
right. He looked up at Berkin. Have you seen the King
No, your Highness. No one has seen him since all of this
began. My father requested an audiencewhen such a thing
still seemed possiblebut he was refused. And no one has
seen the Queen, or the royal children, either
The children, growled Gimli. That is
why Aragorn is doing their bidding. They have taken the children!
What dogs, Lord Gimli? Who do you mean by they,
my Lords? What is happening?
I think, said Legolas, that it is time we told
you everything, Berkin. And then, we will need a plan...