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Part 14

Lying on his back, Legolas stared up into the darkness. “Elvellon?”

“Still in one piece,” growled the dwarf, though his tone implied that, as a dwarf, he did not feel he deserved to be.

“March Warden?”

“Safe and sound...”

Legolas got to his feet and, feeling with his hands, examined their surroundings.

The friends seemed to have fallen into one of the goblins’ pits, and it appeared to be deep—though, without Gimli’s torch, which had either gone out or been lost—the elf could not be sure. He inched his way to his right, searching as high as his arms could reach. The rock wall was vertical, but it was not smooth.

With luck, he thought, it should be possible to climb to the top...

From somewhere behind him, Legolas heard a quiet scraping, then—after a few more moments—the sound of a metal box being opened, and the clash of flint on iron—once, twice—and Gimli’s torch burst into flame.

“Thank you, Elvellon.”

“Can you see a way up?” asked the dwarf, scrambling to his feet and holding the flame aloft.

Legolas scanned the wall, quickly tracing a route from hand hold to hand hold. “Yes...”

“You go ahead, then,” said Gimli. “The March Warden and I will follow.”

Legolas squeezed the dwarf’s shoulder—his simple gesture hardly conveying the extent of his gratitude for Gimli’s friendship—and began to climb.

“And, Elf,” the dwarf warned, “be careful.”


The pit was spanned by a bridge of wooden slats—lashed with ropes and hung on metal chains—cunningly designed to tip suddenly at the slightest imbalance and cast the unwary into the pit below.

You will not get me a second time, thought Legolas.

He clamped one hand on a chain, and signalled to the others that he had reached the top.

“I will throw you the torch,” called Gimli.

“No, Elevellon,” said Legolas. “You need it more than I do, and it might give me away.”

He bade his companions a temporary—he hoped—farewell and, relying only on his sharp Elven senses, set off in the direction of the faint glow they had been chasing before, moving cautiously, still looking for hand- and footholds and, where necessary, using them to avoid the tunnel floor.

He had almost reached the light when he noticed something part-hidden behind pillar of rock— glinting—and he reached down, and touched it.

It was cold and hard, with a smooth, polished surface...

The knight’s armour, he thought, smiling grimly. He knows the clanking would give him away.

“The man is unstoppable,” he murmured to himself. “Perhaps Eowyn nín is right: he is here to rescue his lady.”

Moments later, he was creeping into a vast cavern.

This is the goblins’ own Great Hall, he thought, scanning the crowd and quickly estimating its numbers at close to five hundred, noting that everyone—without exception—was looking in the same direction.

Silently, he crept nearer, hoping to discover what was holding their attention, and what he saw made his blood boil: in a large, shallow pit, Eowyn and another woman were—

Keep out of sight, you young fool!” hissed a voice, and a big, square hand seized his arm in a vice-like grip.