It took Valandil a few moments to remember where he was…

Then he leaped to his feet and ran—across the hall, through the door, up the spiral stairs—apologising to the dead for his cowardice as he flew past their wispy forms—along the corridor—past the room in which he had discovered the first corpse—and through the door—

A female figure was standing, silhouetted, before the window.

"Ilúvatar preserve me!" he cried.

"Gods, Valandil," said the woman, pressing her hand to her breast, "you almost scared me to death!"

"Wilawen!" He threw his arms around her. "Wilawen!"

"What has happened?" she asked. "Why have you been so long? I thought that something had happened..."

She came up on tip toe and looked over his shoulder. "What is this place? Where does that door lead?"

"It is not the way out," said Valandil. "Come, we must leave. Quickly."


"I will tell you when we are safe."

The sheet-rope was already tied around her waist. Ignoring her protests, the elf threw her over his shoulder, jumped up onto the window sill and climbed rapidly back to Figwit's terrace.


"Who are you?" asked Eowyn, from the safety of Legolas' arms. "What are you?"

"I am the Djinn of the Lamp. Your wish is my command."

"What does that mean?" she asked.

"Bid me turn back the tide, or change the course of the River Bodmelqart, or ask me to level Mount Khilletzbaal," said the djinn, loftily, "and it is done. Your wish is my command."

"Can you turn our friend back to his proper form?" Eowyn pointed to the baboon.


"Can you find the magician Baalhanno for us?"


"Well, at least, you can cover yourself up," said Legolas, pulling a silk throw off the daybed. "Here—quickly, before Hentmirë comes down from her nap and sees you."

"It is only my mistress's wish that is my command," said the djinn.

"Please, do it," said Eowyn.

The djinn took the fabric from Legolas and draped it over his shoulders.

"No," said Eowyn. She mimed tying it around her waist.


"Do you think," said Eowyn to Legolas, "that that was Baalhanno at the gate—and that this is what he wants?"

"I cannot imagine why." Legolas turned to the djinn, who had settled himself on the daybed. "Who was your last master?" he asked.

The djinn folded his arms across his massive chest.

"My wish," said Eowyn, "is that you answer Legolas' question. In fact, I want you to answer all of his questions."

"I hear and obey," said the djinn, doubtfully. "My last master was Mursilis, son of Anittas."

"Hentmirë's father," said Eowyn. "So he did know about the—what is he called?—the Djinn of the Lamp. But he never told Hentmirë about him."

"She was only a child, melmenya," said Legolas. "What did Mursilis command you to do?" he asked the djinn.

"Many things."

Legolas sighed. "Tell us," he said.

"I cut a channel through the Sharruma plateau, so that his ships might avoid the corsairs in the bay of Estan; I summoned fair winds when his ships were becalmed and I quelled tempests when they were beleaguered—"

"No wonder Hentmirë is so rich," said Eowyn. "A merchant could desire no better servant."

The djinn bowed, proudly.

"But why would a magician want you?" asked Legolas. "What could you do for him that he could not do himself—"

The baboon suddenly bounded out into the courtyard, howling.

"What is it?" asked Eowyn.

"Someone is arriving, melmenya," said Legolas, "with Faramir."

"Go back into the lamp," said Eowyn to the djinn. "Please. Just until we are sure it is safe."

"I hear and obey," said the djinn, and he disappeared down the spout of the lamp, taking his silken loin cloth with him.


"You are sure that she opened her eyes?" Wilawen asked.


"And you fainted."

"I was briefly stunned," said Valandil.

"You descended, with no qualms, into the depths of the underworld, accompanied by the spirits of the dead, but the sight of a living woman 'stunned' you?"

"She was not living, Wilawen."

"What do you mean?" asked Figwit. "Here." He handed Valandil a glass of water.

"She was..." Valandil searched for the right word. "She was not living, but not dead. By some trickery her body has cheated death and she appears to live. But her spirit is..." He shook his head. "Her spirit decays."

"So she is a woman who has somehow become immortal," said Wilawen.

"Not immortal, meleth nín," said Valandil. "Undead."

"How do you know?" asked Wilawen.

"I felt it. The moment she opened her eyes, I felt it."

"And what she has done is bad?"

"It is very bad," said Figwit. "To defy Ilúvatar in that way is the most grievous of transgressions. If she has done that, she is capable of doing anything."

"Then why does she not do it?" asked Wilawen. "Why does she not come up here and—Oh gods," she cried, turning to Figwit, "you were chosen to be her paramour! And now Valandil has awoken her, and she has seen him, too!"


"What a strange place this is," said Legolas softly.

He watched, open-mouthed, as what looked like a carpet, carrying Faramir and a small stranger dressed in a suit of vivid pink silk, spiralled slowly down from the sky. It circled twice around the courtyard and landed gently before them.

The baboon howled.

"Is this the bewitched elf?" asked the small man, springing to his feet.

"Yes," said Faramir.

"Well, well." Bending slightly, the man peered into the baboon's eyes. "Yes..."

"Can you release him from the spell?" asked Eowyn, anxiously. "Can you restore his immortality?"

"It is little more than a cunning illusion, your Highness," said the magician, bowing, "and it will be my pleasure to reverse it.

"I am Niqmaddu, son of the great Niqmepa; you must be Princess Eowyn and Prince Legolas—your friend has told me all about you. May we go inside?"

"Please." Legolas gestured towards the door.

The magician stepped into the reception hall, looked curiously at the piles of wooden boxes, and then at the lamp, now sitting on a small side table beside the daybed, and sniffed the air deeply.

"Ah," he said, with a twinkling smile, "I see that you have found what Baalhanno is looking for!"

"Yes," said Legolas, "we think we have. But how did you know?"

"I can smell the smoke... Who awakened the djinn?"

"I did," said Eowyn.

"Oh dear."

"What is wrong?" asked Legolas.

"The djinn is now Princess Eowyn's slave," said Niqmaddu. "He can obey no other—"

"We know," said Legolas.

"—until the Princess dies." He bowed. "I am sorry, your Highness."

"You are saying that, to get what he wants, Baalhanno must kill me," said Eowyn.


"Just let him try," said Eowyn. "I have seen him now, and I shall not be tricked by him again!"

"I am sure you will not," said the magician. "But do not underestimate him, your Highness."

He looked from Faramir to Legolas and back again. "You must both keep a very close watch on her."

"Of course we shall," said Legolas.


"Do you think she is dangerous?" asked Wilawen.

"She has no conscience," said Valandil. "If she cannot be killed, there is nothing to stop her."

"Then we must get you away from here," said Wilawen, "both of you, before"—she shuddered—"before she comes to claim you."

She began pacing up and down the terrace. "Valandil and I could fly away, but Figwit cannot leave... We need to break the spell that holds him here... But how? I know nothing of magic," she said.

"Nor do I," said Valandil. He looked at Figwit; the other elf shook his head.

"Then what do we know?" asked Wilawen.

There was no answer from either of the elves.

"We know that there is a mainland," she said. "How far away?"

Valandil closed his eyes and tried to remember how long it had taken the roc to cross the sea. "Ten, twenty miles," he said.

"So: not far," said Wilawen. "And, Figwit, you say that you were taken to a city—a seaport—which is probably where our ship was heading, too." She leaned over the terrace wall, looking out over the empty blue sea. "Who else was on that ship? Valandil—you knew some of the others."

"Prince Legolas and Lady Eowyn," said Valandil. "Camthalion and Orodreth."

"That was the Lady of the Shield Arm? I had no idea!"

She began pacing again. "If I could find her, and Prince Legolas, and free them, and find someone who does know about magic, we would have a chance. But I would have to be quick."

"You would never find them," said Figwit. "There must be thousands of people in that city. A million..."

"But you have trained the roc to find elves," said Wilawen. "And there will not be many of those. Of course, I shall need to—"

"Why do you keep saying 'I'," asked Valandil, "instead of 'we'?"

"Because you must stay here," said Wilawen.

"What? No! Why?"

"We cannot both leave. What if the woman were to come for Figwit whilst we were gone?"

Valandil looked from Wilawen to his friend and back again in frustration. "You cannot go alone," he said, firmly.

"We have no choice," she replied. "You must stay. I could not defend Figwit!"

"Both go," said Figwit. "Valandil is right, Wilawen—it is too dangerous for you to go alone. I will manage. After all, the woman has waited five years—why would she come for me now? Both go. But come back. Come back soon."


The baboon was struggling on its leash.

"Hold him still," cried the magician, raising his wand.

"He is afraid of the stick," said Eowyn. "Shhhhh, shhhhh." Gently, she grasped the back of the baboon's head, pulled it into her lap and covered its eyes with her other hand. "Now," she said.

Skipping forward, almost like a dancer, the magician touched his wand to the animal's forehead.

There was another bright flash.

Then, tactfully, Legolas took a second throw from the daybed and draped it over Haldir's naked body.

"How do you feel?" asked Eowyn, gently.

"Better," said Haldir, "much better." He smiled. "Almost myself."

He raised his head from her lap and sat back on his heels, swiftly wrapping the throw around his lower body. Then he looked up, apologetically, at Legolas. "Thank you," he said. "All of you. Thank you." His eyes were bright.

"We are just glad to have you back," said Legolas, laying his hand on the bigger elf's shoulder. "Faramir, will you take care of Master Niqmaddu whilst Haldir and I see whether there is anything in my extensive new wardrobe that will fit him?"

He turned to the magician. "I shall tell Lady Hentmirë that you are here, sir. I am sure that she will want to thank you personally."


"You look like Lady Eowyn," said Valandil.

They had cut the full skirt from Wilawen's dress and she was wearing the bodice with a pair of trousers and some boots she had borrowed from Figwit. She slung a small cloth pouch across her shoulders.

"What is that?" asked the elf.

"Something useful I found in the desert—"

"Are you ready?" cried Figwit. "The roc is coming!" He cupped his hands to his mouth and whistled a long, plaintive melody.

The bird responded with the same call and, swooping down, landed lightly on the terrace wall.

"Mae govannen, hiril velui," said Figwit. "I have a favour to ask."

The bird made a purring sound, deep in her throat.

"I want you to take my friends to the mainland—to the nearest city—and help them find another elf. Will you do that for me, hiril velui?"

The bird cried loudly.

"Thank you." Figwit turned to Valandil and Wilawen. "Come and stand by the wall," he said.

The roc turned carefully on the parapet, crossing her large, ungainly feet one over the other, then spread her wings and took off, climbing, gracefully, high into the sky.

For a terrible moment, Wilawen was afraid that bird had not understood Figwit's request. But then the roc turned and swooped back towards them, faster and faster. And Wilawen shut her eyes and hardly felt the talons close around her—felt nothing but a moment of sickening weightlessness as the bird lifted her from the ground...

And then she was flying!

Wilawen opened her eyes and smiled across at Valandil. "I am getting used to this," she shouted.


"Magus Niqmaddu," cried Hentmirë, holding out her hand, "how lovely to see you again. And you have rescued Legolas' friend from the malice of that terrible man! However can I repay you?"

The magician took her plump little fingers in his own and raised them to his lips. "Your smile is as enchanting as ever, Lady Hentmirë," he said. "No further payment is necessary."

Hentmirë smiled again, happily. "Will you join us for lunch, Magus?"

"I shall be delighted to, my lady."


"Look!" cried Valandil. "The city!"

Wilawen screwed up her eyes—trying to see like an elf—and the blur of grey, green and brown slowly turned into clusters of buildings, surrounded by cultivation, nestling beneath a range of sandy mountains.

As they crossed the harbour, the roc swooped down, passing close to the bows of a three-masted carvel moored on its eastern fringe.

"That is the slave ship," shouted Wilawen, "we are in the right place!"

Up the bird rose, clearing the tall warehouses lining the wharves, and hovered for a moment over the bustling souk. Then she continued south east, to where the great town gave way to desert and only a few strange buildings stood isolated in the sand. There, she circled one of the sprawling villas, showing Valandil two elves lazing beside an artificial pool.

Camthalion and Orodreth, he thought, blessed as ever... "No," he cried, "not those elves. Find me another."

The bird flew out into the desert, climbing on the warm air rising up the mountain side, then turned, and, heading more northerly now, zigzagged over the poorest quarter, where the crowded streets were filled with cramped, misshapen tenements.

There, she circled again, showing Valandil a third elf, sitting with a gang of thieves.

Vardamir! he thought. Vardamir the murdering orc! What is he doing here? "No," he cried, "not now! I will deal with him later. Find me another!"

Banking to the west, the roc flew back along the sea shore, following a broad, straight road lined with palatial villas. "Yes!" cried Valandil, "Yes! On the balcony of the pink house—look!—Prince Legolas and March Warden Haldir! Leave us here!"

Instantly the bird obeyed him, dropping low, and reaching for the ground, opening her claws just before her feet touched, leaving Valandil and Wilawen standing in the sandy road, then she climbed back into the clear blue sky and, with slow, steady strokes, flew out across the sea.

"Will you be able to call her back when we want to leave?" asked Wilawen.


"Well," said Legolas, "it is a little short, and very tight, but it will stop you scaring the ladies of Carhilivren—"

"Look," cried Haldir, "Valandil!"

Legolas turned towards the road just in time to see the roc swoop down and set the missing elf—and the woman who had been taken with him—gently on the ground.

"This land is truly full of wonders," he said.


"And then," said Valandil, "she opened her eyes." He took a sip of wine.

"Whatever did you do?" asked Hentmirë.


"He was stunned," said Wilawen.

"I went back to the prison, found Wilawen, and we both climbed up to the terrace."

"You are sure that you saw her eyes move?" asked Niqmaddu.

"Absolutely," said Valandil.

"Tell him what you sensed," said Wilawen.

"I sensed her spirit, decaying," said Valandil.

"It would be," said the magician, his twinkling smile absent, for once. "It certainly would be." He looked down at his untouched food. "We thought the prison impregnable. But it seems we were wrong..."

"Who is this woman, Magus?" asked Legolas. "And why is she imprisoned?"

"She is a prisoner of war, your Highness," said Niqmaddu. "Thirty years ago, she attacked Carhilivren and was narrowly defeated, and I helped the Hatja build a prison to hold her—her and all of her unfortunate followers—securely."

He laid his knife beside his plate and, leaning on his elbows, clasped his hands together. "Her name is Naqiya-Zakutu but her people called her 'Naqiya the Terrible' and 'She who is feared'. She was a woman without conscience and without mercy, and she ruled the land of Kuri for over two hundred years."

"Kuri..." said Hentmirë. "I thought that the land of Kuri was a myth."

"It is best that people think so," said Niqmaddu. He turned to Legolas and Faramir. "But Kuri is all too real—a barren, featureless desert land, many leagues to the south, with no trees, no mines, no natural resources of any kind, save one. And that one resource has made it fabulously wealthy."

"What is it?" asked Faramir.

"Water," said Niqmaddu.

"I do not understand."

"A fountain of youth!" said Hentmirë.

Niqmaddu nodded. "Deep in the rocks below the royal palace," he said, "there is a spring. Its water is charged—whether by some property of the surrounding stone or whether by ancient magic, I do not know—with a restorative power. And whoever drinks from the spring ceases—for a time—to age. Some even say that the water can reverse aging. People travel from all over Far Harad to drink it."

"What a terrible thing," said Faramir. "It must enslave all who touch it, for once they have experienced its power, they will surely crave more."

"And some of them have killed to get it," said the magician, "for Naqiya's guards took an oath to defend it with their lives."

"But does it really work?" asked Wilawen. "It sounds more likely that people are being swindled to me."

"It is always wise to be sceptical, young lady," said Niqmaddu, shaking his head, "but, in this case, your friend, Valandil, has seen proof of its effects. Queen Naqiya drank the water every day; it is said that she even bathed in it. And, as a result, her body will never die."

"But her spirit has," said Valandil. "I felt it decaying."

"The water is poison to the spirit," the magician agreed. "And, as the spirit dies, all humanity dies with it..."

"How sad," said Hentmirë. "I wonder if she knew that before she used it?"

Legolas patted her hand. "But surely," he said to the magician, "you did not leave this woman's followers to die in your prison?"

Niqmaddu shook his head.

"Then why are they dead?"

"And why can Naqiya open her eyes?" asked Niqmaddu. "For I placed the strongest of all sleeping spells upon her. Who has released her? And why? Was it her successor? If it was, is he planning to resume the war on Carhilivren? Does he have an army? Or...

"It is such a strange co-incidence... Could it have been Baalhanno?"

"Baalhanno! What would he have to gain by releasing this woman?" asked Faramir.

"I have no idea," said the magician. "I do not know the answer to any of these questions, your Highness."

Wilawen cleared her throat. "Well, whoever it was," she said, "we need to get back to the island. And quickly, for Figwit is there all alone."


It was decided that Valandil and Wilawen would return to the island immediately, Niqmaddu would go back to his house for supplies then follow on his carpet, taking Legolas and Eowyn with him, and Faramir and Haldir would go to Arinna's, 'rescue' Orodreth and Camthalion, then sail to the island on Hentmirë's ship.

"She is very fast," said Hentmirë, "and dear Captain Mutallu is an excellent sailor. He will have us there in no time."

Legolas drew her aside. "You must leave this to us, my lady," he said.

"But I can help."

Legolas smiled.

"I can! I can cook—a little. And I can dress wounds. I am very good at making bandages."

Legolas could not stop himself hugging her.

But would she really be any safer here, alone, he wondered, than on the ship with Faramir and Haldir and her dear Captain Mutallu?

He sighed. "I want you to make me a promise," he said, sternly. "I want you to promise that you will stay with Faramir or Haldir or with Captain Mutallu at all times; that you will never wander off alone; and that, if you are scared, you will stay on the ship. Do you promise?"


"Show me your hands."

Hentmirë brought both hands out from behind her back, hastily uncrossing her plump fingers.

"Promise again."

She bit her lip. "I promise," she said. "But I will not be scared."

Valar, thought Legolas. Now I have two Shieldmaidens to worry about!


"Look," said Eowyn, handing Legolas a small bow and a quiver of heavy arrows. "I found these amongst Hentmirë's father's things."

Legolas raised the bow and tested its draw weight.

"How is it?"

"It is heavy for its size," he said, "and I am very much out of practice." He smiled, "But it is good to feel the pull of a bowstring again. Thank you melmenya."

"I have also found some swords." She showed him two scimitars with broad, curved blades. "They are decorative, really, but quite sharp and surprisingly well-balanced..."

She began performing the basic guards, moving fluidly from one to the next. Ox—she raised the sword above her head and held it horizontal, pointing at her imaginary opponent's head—Plough—she brought the hilt of the sword down to her hip, blade pointing upwards—Fool—she lowered sword point, inviting her enemy to strike—Over the roof—then raised her hands above her shoulders, ready to slice downwards—Tail—and brought the blade down to her side, then began again...

"These people do not seem to use scabbards, so we must be careful how we carry them, but I am sure they will be useful. I have given Valandil the best one—"

Legolas snatched up the other sword and struck.

Eowyn parried, but the elf ducked beneath her blade and caught her round the waist. Their swords dropped to the floor and they grappled, Legolas exerting his superior strength to hold her still whilst he leaned in and kissed her mouth, hard.

"That was an interesting move," said Eowyn. "I am not sure that it would work with an orc, but an undead woman might certainly be conquered—provided"—she slid her hand down between their bodies—"she did not realise how vulnerable it left you, here." She grasped his ceryn, though very gently.

Legolas nuzzled her neck.

"We should not be doing this, Lassui," said Eowyn.

"Why not, melmenya?"

"We are about to go into battle."

"That is precisely when a warrior needs it most, Eowyn nín."

He rubbed himself against her belly.

"Impressive weapon," said Eowyn, softly. "Very impressive."


"Oh—yes!" cried Eowyn.

Her hands, which had been clawing at the coverlet, suddenly flew behind her head and grabbed the bedstead, and her body bowed upwards, and Legolas, holding her by the hips, rammed himself into her again and again.


"Gods, that was... vigorous," said Eowyn. She rolled onto her stomach and leaned over him. "Sometimes, Lassui, you surprise me."

"What do you mean?"

"Most of the time I feel like I have known you all my life." She stroked his face. "But, in truth, we have been together for less than a year. And there are sides to you that I do not know."

"Did I hurt you?"

"Did I say it hurt?"


She smiled. "You are a wonderful lover, edhel nín, even excited by the thought of battle," she said. "No: it is the warrior in you that I do not know. I caught a glimpse of him at Helm's Deep, finishing off wounded orcs, and then again, leading the elves at Minas Athrad—I fought beside him there. But I have never really seen the fearsome elven warrior the Rohirrim so revere. He is not a part of my Lassui."


"Did you do it before Helm's Deep? Or Pelennor Field?"

"Do what?"

"Have a woman?"

"Melmenya! You know I did not! From the moment I saw you, Eowyn nín, to have made love with anyone else would have been impossible!"

"You should have come to me then."

"And what would you have said?"

Eowyn thought for a moment. "I do not know... I think I would have been flattered. But I think I would have said no." She slipped her arms around his waist and hugged him tightly. "More fool me."

"Are you afraid, melmenya?"

"Of the woman?"

"Of what you might see in me."

"I do not know..."

He stroked her back. "When you slew the Witch King, what did you feel?"

"What do you mean?"

"How did killing him make you feel?"

She laid her head on his chest. "I was angry," she said, "and frightened... My uncle was lying helpless beneath Snowmane... The Witch King had shattered my shield arm, and I could see no way to defeat him. Then Merry attacked him from behind and he was left off guard. The only weakness in his armour was at the mouth, so I stabbed him there. And the moment my sword entered him I felt his evil poison me. But I also felt...

"Elation. Yes, elation. I felt him die, Lassui. It had been him or me, and I had survived."

"And did that feeling make you any less Eowyn? Or did it make you more Eowyn?"

After a moment, she raised her head and smiled at him. "More Eowyn," she said.

"So, although I did not see it happen," said Legolas, "killing the Witch King made you my Eowyn."


"And I am your Legolas."


He brushed back her hair and kissed her tenderly. "Now our only worry," he said, "is: when I see you using your sword, will I be able to fight beside you? Or will I have to drag you off into some quiet corner and ravish you?"



It had been going on for several minutes now.


Valandil had said that the spiral staircase came up as well as down, and they had all wondered where it might end...


Now Figwit knew.


The door was hidden behind the wooden panelling in his bedroom. And someone—She?—had opened it, found the way barred, and was trying to break through.


There was something chilling about the slow, relentless pounding. Something...



Figwit had never been much of a fighter. He tried to formulate a plan.

The planks will not hold much longer, he thought. They are dry and brittle. I need to reinforce them. He ran into the sitting room. If I pile the chest and the table against them and then jam them in place with the couch and the bed...

From the bedroom came the sound of splintering wood. I must be quick. And I need to find a club.




Contents page

Contents page

Chapter 6: New lamps for old
What does Baalhanno want? Can Valandil find a way out?

Chapter 6

Chapter 8: Cat and mouse
Will help ever reach the island?

Chapter 8

Eowyn's sword drill
With pictures!


Vardamir is, of course, the villainous elf who attacked Valandil’s friend Maeglin in The time of the Orcs has come. We shall see more him, and his equally fiendish companion (can you guess who?), in the next story, The usual suspects.