The blacknessa cold, thick, emptiness darker
than anything she had ever experiencedenveloped Wilawen,
filling her with a terror that threatened her sanity.
The creatures around her were making no sound, moving in complete
silence, and only the occasional glimpse of fire-bright eyes or
the rough touch of an armoured hand contradicted her feeling of
total isolation as she shuffled forwards.
And every step was taking her further from Valandil.
She knew that he had been hit by a crossbow boltshe had
seen him lose consciousnessand she knew that entering the
rock had required some sort of magical transformation that had
temporarily distorted her body.
But neither of those obstacles changed the truth: He will
come for me, she thought
The creature behind her gave an her impatient push, and Wilawen
stumbled against the creature in front.
The thing spun roundits red eyes flaringand its unseen
fist connected with her jaw. Wilawen cried out in surprise, raising
her hand to her face, as another punch crashed into the side of
her head, knocking her to her knees.
She cowered, awaiting the fatal blow.
But it never came.
Instead, she felt the air around her stir as a third creature
seemed to rush to her side and stand over her. There was a whispered
exchange of angry-sounding words. Then silence. And then a female
voice began to chant.
Wilawen raised her eyes, wiping away tears and sweat with the
back of her hand. A faint glow was appearing, just above her head.
She watched it spread upwards, in a long, slender cylinder, then
gradually grow brighter.
In its steady light, Wilawen could now see her immediate surroundingsa
craggy wall close to her right elbow, an uneven floor beneath
her knees, two creatures standing over her. Onea malebent
down and grasped her arm and, with surprising gentleness, helped
her to her feet. Then, with a few quiet words, he took the torcha
single, pointed crystal glowing with a soft, blue firefrom
his female companion and handed it to Wilawen and, giving her
a gentle push, indicated that she should continue walking.
Purple, the child had said, back in the clearing. Purple,
over and over. Purple. Purple. And Wilawen had not known
what it meant.
Not until she looked into the face of her protector, and saw
his purple eyes.
With the help of the elves, the men of the Newhome Night Watch
were gradually recovering the bodies of the dead, and laying them
on the carts.
Haldir crouched beside Dínendal. How is Valandil?
They had moved the wounded to the comparative safety of the road,
improvising a healing room along its grassy verge.
Dínendal laid his patients hand back on his chest.
His pulse has returned to its normal rate. I think he will
awaken quite soon.
Good. We cannot wait much longer.
There was no question in Haldirs mind that they were going after
Wilawen, and he had already decided that the rescue party should
be smalljust himself, Rumil and Orophin, Valandil, Dínendal,
He spoke quietly. Is the boy fit to come underground with
His voice. That groan. Is it a sign of illness?
Dínendal shook his head. I believe it is his agewhat
happens to a human voice during the transformation into manhoodMen
call it breaking. He glanced at the boy. He
seems perfectly healthy to me. Do you want me to examine him?
Notry to waken Valandil.
With the crystal to light her wayhowever faintlyWilawen
could now move without stumbling or falling over her captors,
and theyshe was painfully awarehad increased the pace
How will Valandil find me now?
With her free hand she grasped one of the buttons on the front
of her dress, and pulled hard. The mother-of-pearl disc came away
easily. Thank the gods for fine elven thread!
She lowered her hand and, holding her breath, opened her fingers.
Haldir made his way between the stretcher bearers to where the
Reeves son was crouching, searching through his travelling
Are you still willing to accompany us into the Divor Rocks?
The boy looked up. Of course I am. And you need meI
know how to get in. That is what I want to show you. He
pulled out a creased and dirty parchment, carefully unfolded it
and laid it on a boulder. Look at this.
The image, though unfamiliar to the elf, was obviously a map.
Look at the runes, said Arador, they are the
same as on the piece of blade you found. This was made by them.
Where did you get it?
I know someone who knows someone, replied the boy,
airily. Then he pointed to a narrow ribbon of colour running around
the edge of the sheet. The green is the surface. And I know
that this is Emyn Arnen, so this must be the Divor
Haldir shook his head. How can you be so sure?
The boy pointed to a circular symbol. If this is the City
on the Hills, then this triangular area is exactly where the gorge
on the southern edge of Emyn Arnen should be. See how it curves
to the west and then forks? The real gorge does thatI have
paced it out. This distance,he measured the space
between the city and the supposed gorge with his finger and thumb,
is twenty miles. And five times that... Brings you to
the Divor Rocks, here.
Haldir looked unconvinced.
These purple and blue lines, the boy persisted, pointing
to the maze-like pattern covering the centre of the sheet, are
underground tunnelsbut I will not know until we get there
which colour is the space and which is the rockthe tunnels
do not seem to join up...
Haldir sighed. Where do you think we are now?
Here. Arador pointed to the left-hand edge of the
map. And these indentations, here, are the Divor Cavessee
how this one is coloured purple? If purple does mean tunnel, this
is the way in.
Wilawens fingers travelled slowly down the front of her
She would risk tenevery other one. More than that would
be too obvious.
She pulled off a second button and hid it in the palm of her
hand, waiting for the next fork in the tunnel.
March Warden! cried Master Dínendal.
Haldir finished helping the Captain of the Night Watch lay what
had once been the Mayor of Newhome on one of the carts, then jumped
down and joined the healer beside a still-drowsy Valandil.
His pulse is normal, his breathing strong, his eyes clear,
How do you feel? asked Haldir.
I... Valandil looked up and down the road. What
You were hit by a drugged
Haldir caught him by the shoulders. They have taken her.
But we are going to follow them and we are going to get her backValandil?
He shook the confused elf. We are going to get her back!
The rock wall, which, all this time, had been close to Wilawens
elbow, suddenly disappeared. Without drawing attention to herself,
the woman raised her eyesand saw that the roof was no longer
visible in the light of her crystal torch.
The tunnel, she realised, had opened up into a cavern. And her
captors seemed to be taking a very precise route across its uneven
floor. She let the tip of the crystal droop. They were crossing
a narrow rock bridge. Over what? she wondered. A chasm?
A lake? How far is the drop?
She tore off her last button and held it in the tips of her fingers.
The tunnels had been branching frequently over the last hour or
so, and she would soon need some other way of leaving a trail.
She let her hand sink to her side
And a fist ploughed deep into her lower back.
Wilawens knees instantly buckled and she cried out in terror
as a foot connected with her shoulder and sent her flying, forwards
into the blackness
Master Arador tells me he is going with you,
said the Captain of the Night Watch.
That puts you in a difficult position, I know, replied
The man shrugged his shoulders. He is the Reeves
son, so I must do as he bidsand I am officially under your
command. If you are willing to take him with you... He
shrugged again. What I came to say is: I can spare you ten
men if you want them...
Something caught Wilawens ankle and held her fast.
Then another pair of hands grasped her waist and dragged back
onto the narrow bridgeand she felt the jagged rock scrape
her legs and tear through her dressand then she lay on her
back, panting, gazing up into the halo of blue lightGods,
I am still holding the crystal!
She watched the silhouettes of three of the creatures dance above
her, their hands flashing back and forth in some sort of...
Speech, she thought, hazily. They are speaking with
their hands, like the tongueless beggar outside my fathers
Oh, my father...
Tears spilled from her eyes and she could no longer hold back
the sobs. But one of the creatures immediately dropped to its
knees and clamped a hand over her mouth.
She stared up at him, silently begging him to help her, and caughtshe
hopedthe briefest flicker of sympathy on his handsome face
before he hoisted her onto his shoulder and carried her over the
Having bade farewell to the Captain of the Night Watch, Haldir
commandeered as many water skins, pieces of Lembas, and additional
weapons as the rest of his troops could spare, dispatched six
warriors to reinforce the garrison at Baradorn, and sent the remainder
back to Eryn Carantaur with the wounded.
You are sure you are ready? he asked Valandil.
Yes, said the other elf, vehemently. He picked up
his bow. Let us go, Haldir.
The March Warden turned to Arador. From now on, you follow
The boy grinned.
I am serious, Manling.
I will not have you putting Mistress Wilawen or
my warriors at risk.
What would you do? asked Arador, with genuine
curiosity. Then he pulled himself together. No sir, of course
not. You can rely on me. Truly. You have my word.
Then take us to the cave.
Though thin and gangly, the Reeves son proved surprisingly
able, leading them northwards, at a brisk trot, for almost five
miles along the edge of the Divor Rocks before coming to a halt
beneath a group of caves, clustered on the cliff face like the
features of three vast skulls.
Valandil began to climb.
From the map it is hard to tell exactly which one we want,
shouted the boy, but I think you should start at the right.
In the end it was Arador himself who found the tiny opening,
in the nose of the right-most skull, using his own
glowing crystalwhich he had also bought from the someone
who knew someoneas a torch.
He turned to Haldir. I can see a cave beyond. Permission
to go through first, sir?
Haldir peered into the low tunnel and listened carefully, but
he could neither see nor hear nor sense any immediate danger.
Granted, he said, but do not move one step
beyond the end of this tunnel.
The boy gave him a slightly cheeky salute, took off his travelling
pack and crawled into the hole. Moments later, he came back, head
firstIt is further than it looks!grasped
the strap of his pack, and disappeared once more, shuffling backwards.
What can you see? shouted Valandil, anxiously.
The cave seems quite large... But there is not enough light
to see it properly.
Haldir patted Valandils shoulder. You go next. But
wait with the boy until we join you.
It took some time for all of the elves to slide through the gap.
Haldir came lastand was forced to remove his jerkin and
tunic before he could squeeze through the narrowest part. He sat
on the rocky floor, taking a moment to replace his bracers and
let his eyes become accustomed to the dim, greenish light of the
Which way, Arador?
Purple is space and blue is wall, said
the boy, triumphantly, so there are four ways out of here,
but only one that connects with the tunnel they must have taken.
If we work our way along the right-hand wall, it should be the
first opening we come to.
Haldir pulled a length of elven rope from his pack and handed
the end to Rumil. You and Arador take the lead. He
unwound the coil. Valandil, follow them. Dínendal,
stay with me. He handed the other end to Orophin. Take
the rear. No one lets go of the rope unless everyone is in view.
And, if anybody gets into trouble, give three tugs.
Once over the rock bridge, the creatures had moved quickly, running
through the darkness as surely as through daylight. Wilawen had
been carried along, head down, on Purple Eyes back, no longer
able to leave a trail for Valandil.
At length, they had stopped, and Purple Eyes had lowered her
to the ground.
Wilawen glanced around, cautiously. The creatures seemed to be
settling down to sleep.
Perhaps, if I wait until they...
But how could she escape? She could not move without the torchcould
not move without giving herself away.
Even if I knew the way back...
Purple Eyes touched her arm, making her jump. What? What
He clamped his hand over her mouth. But none of his fellows stirred
and, after a moment or two, he released her. Then, very gently,
he took the glowing crystal from her hands and laid it on the
ground beside her.
What are you doing? she mouthed, and for a second her
heart froze with the thought that he might be planning to use
But he smiled, reassuringly, and held out his hand, waiting patiently
and, after a brief hesitation, Wilawen placed her hand in his,
and let him help her to her feet and guide her slowly through
the darknessout of the cave and into another small tunnelwhere
he lifted her over his shoulder and began to run, and Wilawen
could only close her eyes and pray to the gods.
On and on they went, twisting this way and that, until Purple
Eyes came to an abrupt halt and, through her tightly closed eyelids,
Wilawen realised she could see light.
She opened her eyes.
They were standing at the mouth of another cavea beautiful
cave of delicate, twisting stalactites and slender, branching
stalagmitesa faery forest lit by a carpet of glowing moss.
Wilawen bent down to examine the source of light, but Purple
Eyes caught her fingers and, with his free hand made a sideways
Is it poisonous?
He put his hand to his lips, then repeated the slice.
Why have you brought me here? she asked.
Purple Eyes pointed to his own chest. Drizzt, he
He pointed again, Drizzt. Drizzt. Then he pointed
OWilawen, he said, with a gesture she had seen
Valandil use to calm a skittish horse. Then he reached into a
pouch at his hip, took out a small black object and showed it
to her. Wilawen peered closely, in the dim light, surprised to
see a piece of black onyx, shaped like a cat.
OWilawen, Drizzt repeated, with the same calming
gesture as before. He laid the statuette on a patch of bare rock
and called, quietly, Guenhwyvar...
Wilawen watched the stone catits sleek body now brightly
lit by the glowing mossher eyes narrowing in disbelief as
a grey mist seemed to emerge from its back, and swirl around it,
slowly rising and growing denser and denser, until
Ohhhh! Wilawen clamped her hand over her mouth.