wilawen and valandil

"Good morning," said Faramir. "I saw you from the balcony. Do you mind if I join you?"

"Of course not," Legolas replied, smiling up at him.

"I have asked the servants to fetch us some breakfast out here."

With the agility of a former ranger, Faramir sat down on the mosaic pavement. "How is she?" he asked, nodding towards Eowyn, who was sleeping, at last, in Legolas' arms.

"She is taking Haldir's condition very badly."

"Yes..." said Faramir. He hesitated. "Legolas..."

"Yes, Faramir, I am fully aware of his feelings for her—and of hers for him," said the elf. "And I wish it were not so. But what can I do? It is a difficult situation."

The baboon began to chatter.

"Just so long as you know," said Faramir. "Ah, my dear, good morning."

Eowyn sighed, and rubbed her eyes. "I fell asleep..." She turned towards the baboon, sitting quietly beside her. "Oh, gods, it is true..."

"Melmenya..." Legolas pulled her close, kissing her forehead. "Faramir has organised some breakfast for you," he said, gently. "And I want you to eat it." He kissed her again. "But, in the meantime, I think you should tell him your theory."

"My theory? Oh, yes..." Eowyn repeated her earlier speculations about the magician's motives. "If we could find this thing, whatever it is, we could use it to bribe him—make him take his spell off Haldir."

"Would that be wise, my dear?" asked Faramir.


"If you are right about this—object, presumably—why would he want it so badly? What additional powers would it give him? What would we be letting loose?"

"We would be saving Haldir," Eowyn cried.

"Shhhh, shhhhh, melmenya," said Legolas, hugging her tightly. "Faramir is right to be concerned. But we will do whatever it takes to save Haldir, my darling, I promise."


Be careful, meleth nín. Listen to Faramir, thought Haldir, sadly. He nuzzled Eowyn's hand.


Valandil opened the door and stepped out into a narrow corridor running parallel to the cliff face. It was dark—the torch sitting in the sconce opposite had burned out long ago—and, with some trepidation, he turned right and began walking.

The next door was open and, Valandil realised, the room was not empty. Someone was lying, scarcely visible, on a low rock shelf beneath the window, and the elf could just make out the glint of a chain running from the sleeping form to a ring in the rock wall.

"Hello?" he said, softly.

There was no answer.

Valandil walked over to the window. "Are you all right, mellon nín?" He reached down and touched the man's shoulder.

Outside, the sun was, at last, rising; a shaft of pale light spilled through the window. And staring up at Valandil were the empty eye sockets of a mummified corpse.


The servants had brought out a low table laden with breakfast—sweet bread, honey, and a cold, milky porridge filled with nuts and dried fruit.

"I am sorry, Eowyn," said Faramir, handing her a glass of fruit cordial. "I always did have a knack for riding rough-shod over your feelings..."

Eowyn looked into her glass. "You were right about the magician," she said, reluctantly.

The baboon softly howled, as if in agreement.

Legolas squeezed her hand. "We shall find some way to persuade him, melmenya, when the time comes," he said. "And I do think you are right—he wants something. But what is it? And how are we to find it?"

"We need to talk to Hentmirë," said Eowyn. "We need to know everything the magician has said to her over the years—what did he do on the boat to frighten her—why did she flee from him? And we need to know much more about his letters. I wonder if she has destroyed all of them?"

"It will not be easy to persuade her to talk," said Faramir. "I think that Legolas is the only person she is likely to be candid with." He spread some honey on a piece of bread and offered it to the baboon.

The animal accepted it politely, and, holding it daintily in its hand, took a small bite.

"Gods," whispered Eowyn. She bit her lip.

"I shall speak to Hentmirë as soon as I can," said Legolas, "with Eowyn—you have a far better idea of what to ask than I, melmenya."

"Good," said Faramir. "And, whilst you are doing that, I shall speak to Captain Oliel. Then, this afternoon, I think that you and I, Legolas, should pay a visit to the brothel."


Let me come with you, thought Haldir. Let me do something.


Valandil reeled back, gagging.

Death, decay!

He staggered out of the room, and bent over, hands on knees, trying desperately to control the bile rising in his throat.

How could anyone do that? He wondered. Leaving the poor creature chained to the wall like that, to die like an animal in a trap...

He looked along the corridor. More doors. Twenty? Thirty? Does every one of these cells contain a corpse?

Taking a deep breath, and swallowing hard, he turned back towards the unfortunate prisoner, placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head. "Hiro hyn hîdh ab'wanath," he whispered.

He had no idea what happened to the spirits of men after they died. But if they remained beside their bodies, he could only hope that his prayer would be enough to appease them.


Legolas tapped lightly on Hentmirë's bedroom door.

Old Donatiya opened it. "The mistress is indisposed, Master Legolas," she said.

"We have brought her some breakfast," said Legolas. "She must eat."

"Who is it, Donatiya?" called Hentmirë.

"It's Master Legolas and Eowyn, my lady," said the old woman. "They've brought you some breakfast."

There were a few moments' silence. Then Hentmirë said, "Let Eowyn in."

Eowyn looked up at Legolas in surprise.

"Go on," he said, quietly. "Talk to her. I will be just outside."

Eowyn took the tray and stepped through the door.

Hentmirë, wearing an old nightgown and with her coarse brown hair falling, undressed, about her shoulders, seemed to have aged twenty years overnight.

She does not want Legolas to see her like this, Eowyn thought, and she suddenly felt an unbearable sadness for the woman.

"Good morning, my lady," she said, with a genuine smile. "I have brought you some bread and honey. But perhaps you would like me to help you dress before you eat."

Hentmirë looked undecided.

Eowyn laid the tray on the nightstand. "Legolas is waiting outside," she said. "He is worried sick about you."

"He must think me such a fool."

"He thinks you an innocent victim, my lady," Eowyn insisted. "And he wants to help you."

"How can he help me? How can anyone help me?"

Eowyn sat down on the edge of the bed. "First," she said, "let us make you presentable. Then we shall ask Legolas to come in. Do you trust him, my lady?"

"Trust him? Of course I trust him," said Hentmirë. "He is the most honest, most honourable person I have ever met... He is an elf."

Eowyn smiled. "Yes, he is. He is going to ask you some questions," she said, "and some of them will be painful. But you know that he—that he and I—want only to rid you of this terrible persecution and to return our friend to his proper form."


The end of the corridor was sealed with a wrought-iron grating.

Valandil took hold of the bars and pushed hard.

The door was solid, and he growled in frustration, resting his forehead against the metal. After all this effort!

Then he smiled.

The grating might be solid, but the door was unlocked. He reached between the bars, slid back the bolt, pushed it open and stepped out onto a spiral staircase.

Should I go up or down?

Down first.


"Good morning, my dear," said Hentmirë, greeting Legolas with something approaching her usual good humour.

Eowyn—who, it had to be admitted, made a very poor lady's maid—had washed her face and carefully arranged her hair and had helped her choose a flattering gown of deep wine red that went some way towards restoring the colour to her cheeks.

Legolas smiled. "Good morning, my lady." He sat down beside her. "Thank you for agreeing to talk to me about this. I shall try not to intrude too far upon your private feelings." He paused to collect his thoughts. "How did you meet Baalhanno?"

Hentmirë looked down at her clasped hands. "He sent me a letter, introducing himself. He said he was one of my late father's business partners, and he asked if he might visit me."

"Did he say why he wanted to see you?"

"He said that he had heard all about me from my father and felt that he knew me already." Hentmirë sighed. "So I invited him to tea. He arrived with flowers... And he talked about the sea, and sailing, and about his recent visit to Dol Amroth. He seemed charming."

"Did he ask you for anything?" asked Eowyn. "Something of your father's, perhaps?"

"How did you know that?"

"What did he want?" asked Legolas.

"He asked if I still had all of my father's belongings—and, of course, I had—then he asked whether he might have some token to remember my father by. I took him into the study—I had kept it exactly as my father had left it—and asked him to choose. I should have known that he was untrustworthy then..."

"Why, my lady?" said Legolas.

"Because he got angry," said Hentmirë. "Oh, he hid it. He behaved like a perfect gentleman. He looked around the room and, eventually, he chose my father's inkstand. But he was angry; I could feel it." She shook her head. "I could feel it, but I thought I must be mistaken."

"Were all of your father's belongings in the study?" asked Legolas.

"And are they there still?" asked Eowyn.

"Yes, they were," said Hentmirë. "All except his clothing, which I had given to the poor. But everything is stored in the cellar now, packed in boxes. Why do you ask?"

"Because we think that your father had something that Baalhanno wants," said Legolas. "We think that if we can find it, we can make him go away."


"I wasn't sure I'd ever see you again," said Captain Oliel. "A handsome foreigner shouldn't run off into the souk like that—it isn't safe."

Faramir smiled at the compliment. "Did you pay your friend?" he asked.

"I took the liberty of doing so, yes," said Oliel. "And the rest of your money is still safe in my strongbox—though I have to tell you that I should have made good use of it if you hadn't shown up by the end of the week."

"Of course," said Faramir.

He sat down on the captain's bunk. "I have found my friends," he said, "but another problem has arisen." He told Oliel about Baalhanno, and his persecution of Hentmirë, but did not mention what the magician had done to Haldir. "I thought that you might know something about this man," he said. "Or, perhaps, know someone else who might know something..."

Oliel scratched his head. "A magician," he said. "And a powerful one, from what you say—take great care dealing with that sort, my friend." He thought for a moment. "Yes... Yes, I do know someone. Someone of the same sort. Come with me."


"Be careful, my dear," said Hentmirë. "The floor is very uneven..."

Legolas lifted his oil lamp and looked around the cellar in dismay. The room was stacked, from floor to ceiling, with wooden boxes.

"Are all of these your father's belongings?" he asked.

"Yes, my dear."

"It could take us weeks to sort through them," said Eowyn. She opened out the folding chair that Hentmirë had insisted on bringing downstairs and helped the woman sit down. "Did Baalhanno say anything while he was searching through your father's things? Did he give you any impression of what it was he wanted?"

"It is such a long time ago," said Hentmirë. She thought hard. "No," she said.

"Perhaps he did not know exactly what it was, either," said Legolas. He sighed. "With your permission, my lady, I shall have all of these boxes brought upstairs into the hall. Then we can spread them out and search them properly."


Valandil had lost count of the number of floors he had passed—all with narrow corridors lined with tiny cells, and all of those, he had no doubt, tombs to their unfortunate occupants.

And the dead were still there.

He could sense them.

But they were not hostile—at least, not towards him. In fact, they seemed to be looking on him as some sort of saviour.

Valandil was a brave, seasoned warrior, but he felt distinctly uncomfortable with that idea, and it was some time before he realised that the spiral staircase had turned into a featureless shaft—that he had left the prison behind some time ago—and that he was now—he was almost certain—close to sea level.

This is clearly not a way out, he thought. I must go back.

He turned on his heel, and an overwhelming feeling of sorrow—of someone else's raw emotions—assailed him. He peered into the darkness above. Wisps of green mist floated before him, here and there forming themselves into faces, with eyes imploring, and into hands, clasped together, begging.

The dead, he thought. The dead want me to keep going down.

So down he went—not daring to wonder why they wanted it—down, down, down, until, at last, the stairs came to an end and he stepped through a doorway and into a vast, vaulted hall.


"I should have gone with him," said Wilawen, peering over the balcony wall. "He is not very practical. He does not always make the right decision."

"You like him," said Figwit.

"Like him?" She straightened up and turned towards the elf. "You mean like him?" Wilawen shook her head. "No," she said, "look at me!"

Figwit did as she asked, starting at her head and working his way down to her toes. "What am I looking for?"

"He is an elf; I am a woman," she said, barely containing her exasperation. "A woman who has been sitting on the shelf for many years."

"Why would where you normally sit affect whether or not you like him?" asked Figwit.

"Are all elves idiots?" cried Wilawen, throwing up her hands.


Valandil walked into the vast space.

Two rows of massive stone columns, carved to look like bunches of reeds, ran its entire length. Slowly, he made his way down the central aisle, towards the only object in the hall—a huge block of stone, engraved with strange images, standing on a low, stepped platform.

The elf knelt on the steps and traced the carved figures with his fingers—a woman, seated on a chair—no, a throne—three men, raising their hands in supplication before her. He rose to his feet and climbed up the steps.

The block was not solid but hollow—a stone box holding yet another corpse.

But this one was different from the rest.

This one was a woman with long black hair and smooth skin—remarkably well-preserved—dressed in a close-fitting robe of woven gold encrusted with red gems.

Who is she? Valandil wondered. Why did the other dead want me to see her? She looks peaceful. Like Wilawen when she is sleeping...

He leaned forward to take a closer look.

The woman opened her eyes.

And, for the first time in his long, elven life, Valandil lost consciousness.


The house they were seeking was hidden at the end of one of the twisting streets that surrounded the souk—a tall, narrow building with no obvious defences. Oliel knocked at the door and spoke briefly to the doorkeeper, handing him one of Faramir's gold coins.

The man bowed and closed the door.

"How do you know this magician?" asked Faramir.

"Not long after my wife was taken, I heard rumours that there was a slave in this house—a pretty woman from the north. It was one of the best leads I'd ever had." He nodded towards the door. "It took me a month's persistence to get inside, but it turned out that it wasn't her."

"I am sorry," said Faramir.

The door swung open.

"Go on," said Oliel. "That's your invitation. I'll leave you to it—but, if you need me again, you know where to find me. And, remember," he added, as he began to walk away, "I sail with the tide tomorrow week, wind permitting. If you and your friends want to return to Pelargir with me, you will need to be aboard before dawn."

"Thank you," called Faramir, raising his hand. "And, if we do not meet again, Captain, I wish you every success in your search for your wife."

He watched until the man had disappeared around the corner; then he picked up his carpet bag, climbed the steps, and entered the house.

He found himself in a narrow but airy corridor, lined with tall, potted palm trees. There was no longer any sign of a doorkeeper—the small wooden sentry-box on his left was empty—but, through the archway ahead, Faramir thought he saw a movement.


"Come in!" called a voice.

Faramir walked slowly along the marble floor—wondering why he felt so nervous—paused before the arched doorway and took deep breath, then stepped inside the room and looked around.

In the centre of the otherwise empty space there was a small living area—two low couches, a low table, some stools and more potted plants, all arranged around a brazier. A half empty glass of iced tea and several open books lay on the table.

But there was no sign of the owner of the voice.

"Sir?" called Faramir, uncertainly.

"Sit down!" said the voice, cheerfully; it sounded quite close.

Intrigued and, for some reason, no longer nervous, Faramir sat on one of the couches.

"What can I do for you?" asked the voice.

"I need some advice," said Faramir, and, when there was no immediate response, he added, "and I am willing and able to pay you."

The voice laughed. "What is troubling you?"

Faramir hesitated. "Might I see you, sir?"

"See me? Why?"

"I find your invisibility disconcerting," said Faramir.

"Very well," said the voice, merrily, "but materialisation will cost you extra."

"Of course—"

The voice laughed again. "You are easy to tease," it said. "Are you ready?"


There was a bright flash accompanied by a loud bang. Faramir threw himself down on the couch, his arms folded protectively over his head.

"Rather louder than I had intended," said the voice. "But impressive, do you not think?"

Faramir raised his head. Sitting cross-legged on the other couch, dressed in a tunic and trousers of vivid pink silk, was a small man with laughing eyes.

"Very impressive," said Faramir. "How do you do it?"

"Ah—that is a secret," said the man.

Faramir smiled. "Good morning," he said.

"And good morning to you. What can I do for you?"

Faramir decided that they had wasted enough time. "Are you familiar with a magician by the name of Baalhanno?" he asked.

"Baalhanno. Yes—my best and my worst pupil."

"Best in ability, I assume," said Faramir.

"Indeed," said the magician. "Quick and very able. But a man with no conscience."

"He has turned one of my friends—an elf—into a baboon," said Faramir. "Can you undo his spell?"

"Oh, yes."

Faramir sighed with relief. "That is good news," he said. "Will you come with me, now, and do it?"

The magician thought for a moment. "I have no pressing plans," he said, "and I have never seen an elf, so I think I shall. But, first, tell me: why did he do it?"

Faramir described Baalhanno's persecution of Hentmire and Eowyn's theory that he wanted something from the house. "What could it be?" he asked.

"I have no idea," said the magician. "You say that he has been threatening her for years and yet this is the first time he has ever acted on one of his threats?"

"As far as I am aware," said Faramir.

"That is interesting," said the magician. "Yes, I shall come with you—come." He rose from the couch and walked to an intricately patterned carpet, lying at the far end of the room. He sat down at its centre.


"Come along!" cried the magician. He patted the carpet. "Sit beside me."

"I thought we were leaving."

"And so we are. Come, sit down."

Reluctantly, Faramir obeyed.

"Rise, skyward!" cried the magician.

Immediately, the edges of the carpet lifted from the floor.

"By the gods!" Faramir clasped his bag to his chest.

The carpet flew slowly, once around the room, then suddenly shot out through the open windows, and climbed up into the sky.


"There," said Eowyn, giving the baboon a slice of bread and honey. "This seems to be your favourite." She stroked its head. "Do you understand me?" she asked, softly.

The baboon nodded.

"Oh, gods! Is there anything I can do to make things easier for you—"

The baboon growled.

"What is wrong?"

"Good morning, my lady!" cried a cheerful voice. Eowyn glanced up to see a pedlar standing just outside the wrought-iron gates. "What a fine looking beast!"

The baboon growled again, baring its teeth.

"Good morning, sir," said Eowyn. Her tone was polite but at the same time, she hoped, discouraging, and she carefully turned her back on the stranger as she tried to calm the animal, stroking it and murmuring softly.

"Will you not come and see my wares?"

"No, thank you."

"Such golden hair deserves to be tied in ribbons. Here, my pretty lady: a gift from me to you..."

"I really do not..." Eowyn began.

But there was something in his voice that reminded her of the pedlar who had visited Edoras all those years ago. Why not take a look? She slipped her fingers under the baboon's collar and led it to the gate. "I do not wear ribbons," she said. "What else do you have?"

"Fine jet beads from the north, red coral combs from the south, and shiny brass lamps from here in Carhilivren." He held a lamp up to the bars. "See the engraving—such fine workmanship. And I would be willing to exchange it for an old one... Why not open the gates and let me show it to you properly?"

"My mistress would not allow that," said Eowyn.

"Your mistress? I do not think so, pretty lady. No one is your mistress. Come here, my sweet," he said, his voice now soft and caressing, "open the gates, and let me in..."

Slowly, his free hand reached towards her forehead—

With a screech the baboon flew at him, forcing its snout through the bars and snapping at the offending fingers.


Get away from her, you animal! Get away from her! Do not touch her! DO NOT TOUCH HER!


"Leave her!" cried Legolas, running out from the house. "Get away from her, now!" He seized a garden hoe and advanced on the stranger.

The pedlar, who had drawn back from the gates and was rapidly gathering up his wares, stared at Legolas. "Two!" he cried. "There are two of them!"

Then he fled, disappearing into the cultivation on the other side of the road.

"Melmenya?" Legolas put down the hoe and took her by the arm.

"What happened?" she asked.

"I do not know. I heard Hal—the baboon screaming, and came out to see what was wrong."

Gently, he led her into the house, guiding her through the piles of wooden crates, to Hentmirë's daybed. The baboon followed them, chattering loudly.

"Sit down, melmenya."

He poured her a glass of chilled cordial. "Here," he said, "drink this." He sat down beside her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. "Tell me what you do remember, meleth nín."

"I think he was trying to sell me something," said Eowyn. "Yes... Yes, he was trying to sell me a lamp. It was just like this one." She reached into the box beside her feet and lifted out a brass lamp with a large looped handle and a long spout.

"Yes," she said, showing it to Legolas, "it was very like this one. Oh..." Her thumb, sticky with the honey she had given the baboon, had left an ugly mark on the lamp's otherwise mirror-bright surface; she tried to rub it away with her fingers.

A fine curl of smoke emerged from the spout of the lamp.

"What is that?" asked Legolas.

"I do not know," said Eowyn. She had stopped rubbing, but the smoke was still flowing—pouring now—and creeping along the floor...

"Put it down, melmenya," said Legolas, calmly, "and come with me." He took her by the hand, drew her to her feet and led her, backwards, towards the door.

The baboon ran into the smoke, chattering excitedly.

"Haldir!" cried Eowyn.

"Come with us," said Legolas firmly.

The baboon ignored them.

"We cannot leave him," said Eowyn.

"Go outside," said Legolas. "I shall fetch him."

"I am not leaving you."

"Wait here for me then." Legolas darted into the smoke, seized the baboon's collar and began dragging the shrieking creature towards the door.

"Legolas," Eowyn screamed, "Legolas, help me!"

Melmenya? The elf turned...

The smoke was no longer lying, like a thick white blanket, on the floor: above the daybed it had formed itself into a shoulder, bare and heavily muscled; beside the chandelier it had become a perfect ear, rounded and pierced with a gold earring; hovering over the wooden crates it was a powerful forearm, tattooed and lightly sprinkled with dark hair. And curled around Eowyn's waist, it was a hand...

Legolas dropped the baboon's leash and walked, determinedly, back to Eowyn, grasped the huge little finger, and pulled hard. The hand sprang open and Eowyn fell into his arms.

"Ow," cried a booming voice, "that hurt!"

Legolas looked upwards. The ear was now attached to a cheek, and above that there was already the suggestion of a twinkling blue eye. Then, as the elf continued to watch, still holding Eowyn against his chest, another eye appeared, and a mouth—smiling—and another ear, and the shoulder became two shoulders, and a muscular torso, and, below that, a massive—

Dear Valar! thought Legolas, I cannot let Hentmirë see that.

"Who rubbed my lamp?" asked the strange being.

Much to Legolas' consternation, Eowyn turned to face the naked creature. "I did," she said.

The being smiled proudly. "I am the Djinn of the Lamp," he said. "Your wish is my command." He bent towards her—his strange, mutable body flowing into its new posture—and peered at her, closely. "Well," he added, "the gods have blessed me this time, pretty little mistress."




Contents page

Contents page

Chapter 5: Hentmire's secret
What has happened to Haldir? What was Hentmire's foolish mistake?

Chapter 5

Chapter 7: The sleeper
Who is Naqiya-Zakutu? Why has she been awakened?

Chapter 7

Hiro hyn hîdh ab’wanath is Legolas’ prayer for the spirits of Merry and Pippin, when he thinks they have been killed by the orcs, ‘May they find peace after death’.


Hatja is my attempt at ‘Englishing’ the Ancient Egyptian word, HAtj-A, meaning ‘foremost man, leader’, and often, in older translations, rendered ‘mayor’.