alfgar and eowyn

Eryn Carantaur

“I felt it,” said Legolas, cradling Eowyn against his chest, “the pain, when you thought I had betrayed you; the hopelessness. I felt it.”

“I am so sorry, Lassui. I do not know how I could ever have thought—”

Shhhhh.” He hugged her closer, enjoying the feel of her soft, bare skin against his own. “You did not know what had happened, melmenya; how could you?”

“But I do know you. And he is nothing like you. He is—”

“Not nearly so handsome.”

“Lassui!” Eowyn pushed herself up, and grinned down at him. “When Lord Fingolfin told me that he was not my Legolas, I was the happiest woman in Middle-earth. In either Middle-earth.”

“I know. I felt that too.” He reached up and gently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“What are we going to do now?” she asked. “Are we going to risk trying to get back?”

“Do you want to stay here?”

“Of course not. But...”

“But what?”

“Suppose one of us were to get safely back, and the other were to drown?”

Legolas remained silent for a few moments, staring up at her. Then he said, firmly, “We will not let that happen, melmenya.”


Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“There.” Eowyn laid down her pen and sprinkled sand over the wet ink. “I have not gone into many details, Master Elf,” she said, shaking the parchment, “for I trust that you will impress upon Prince Legolas the desperate nature of our situation.”

“Of course, your Highness.”

She rolled the letter and sealed it carefully, stamping the wax with a heavy gold signet ring. “I have heard much of the fortitude of elves, and of the spirit of their horses,” she said, “but even an elven horse must tire on such a journey. I will lend you my own Brightstar—he is descended from the Mearas.”

Aranwë placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head. “I shall take great care of him, my lady.”

The woman rose from her desk and handed him the parchment. “Do not fail us, Master Elf.”


Eryn Carantaur

With Eowyn and Hentmirë on his arms, and closely followed by Gimli and Berryn, Legolas descended the main staircase, crossed the clearing, and ascended the broad wooden steps of the Banqueting Hall.

The sky was already darkening, and the intricately carved dome of the Hall was filled with the soft light of candles. The arrival of a second Lord of Eryn Carantaur, accompanied by his strange assortment of friends, brought a chorus of gasps from the assembled company—and elves who were unused to making a public display of curiosity shifted in their seats to get a better view.

Legolas’ double, sitting at the head of the ring-shaped table between his betrothed and her father, rose and welcomed his guests. “Suilad, gwador nín,” he said to Legolas. “Baren bar lin.”

Legolas returned his formal greeting, then added, in Westron, “My friends and I thank you for your gracious hospitality.”

His double gestured to a row of empty seats beside Alatáriël. “Telo, medo a sogo uin mereth...


Emyn Arnen

“Captains Alfgar and Drago, as you requested, my lady,” said Berengar, holding up the tent flap to allow the soldiers to enter.

“Come in, gentlemen,” said Eowyn, rising stiffly from one of the folding chairs. “Berengar has no doubt given you the news—two thousand of the dark warriors advancing swiftly along the Caras Arnen road.”

“Two thousand!” muttered Alfgar.

“That is the elf’s estimate. And they are less than two hours away.”

She beckoned them over to the map table. “I believe that this gorge is safe—for some reason, they do not seem able to penetrate the wall behind us. So it is the people outside who are at risk—the women, children and elderly. We must bring them inside.”

“It will be awful tight,” said Drago.

“I know,” said Eowyn. “But if we are to have any chance of protecting them, we have no choice.” She turned to Alfgar. “Your men must build a barricade, from here,”—she pointed to a steep spur of rock extending out into the plain, some two hundred yards east of the gorge—“to here,”—she indicated a deep natural gulley running diagonally from the forest edge to a second, smaller gorge a quarter mile to the west.

“A redoubt,” said Alfgar.

Eowyn nodded. “The gulley is all but concealed by brushwood at its southern end so, if we add some obstacles—”


“We may well take a first wave unawares.”

“I have heard that these demons can rise up into the air, my lady,” said Drago, doubtfully, “and float over such obstacles.”

“So have I,” said Eowyn, “but I have yet to see proof of it, Captain. And even if it is true, I doubt that they can float beyond the range of our archers.” She turned back to Alfgar. “You have less than two hours to construct the wall—take the carts, demolish the sheds, pile up the earth—use anything you can find. If the dark people attack before Captain Drago has brought the women and children safely inside, it will be up to you to hold the enemy back. Once everyone is secure, Captain Drago’s men will join yours at the barricade, and along the gulley. In the meantime, my own Guards will be building a second barrier across the entrance to the gorge—”

“Ready for us to fall back, if necessary,” agreed Alfgar. “Who will be leading in the field, my lady?”

I shall,” said Eowyn. “I shall be directing the battle from the plain.”

Alfgar glanced at Drago.

The other man shook his head. “You will not be safe there, my lady.”

“None of us will be safe, Captain Drago,” said Eowyn, “once they attack. None of us.”


Hentmirë turned to her neighbour and smiled warmly. “Maer aduial, híril nín. Hentmirë i eneth nín—though I do not speak very much Elvish as yet.”

“Who are you?” asked Alatáriël, coolly. “Another of his women?”

Hentmirë cleared her throat. “I am one of Legolas’ friends, yes. I live in Eryn Carantaur—his Eryn Carantaur. He calls me his ‘adopted aunt’.”

Alatáriël looked at Legolas, deep in conversation with Lord Fingolfin. “How strange,” she said.


Emyn Arnen

Eowyn stood at the mouth of the gorge, surveying the preparations.

Captain Alfgar, the most capable of Faramir’s—of her—officers, had rounded up the able-bodied refugees and set them to work. The men and women, many of them skilled artisans, were scavenging timber from the camp, and wood from the forest, and were constructing a rough, irregular wall of overturned carts, planking, and fallen branches, interweaving it with brushwood, and shoring it up with earth and rocks; the warriors were rapidly digging a trench along the inside of the barricade; and even the children were fetching, carrying, and running errands.

“We will need light, Captain,” said Eowyn. She looked up at the sky. “The night is dark—which is in their favour. We must set a line of braziers beyond the barricade...”


Lord Fingolfin glanced across the Banqueting Hall.

The young Lord of Eryn Carantaur appeared to be arguing—heatedly—with his future father-in-law, whilst the elves around them tried tactfully to ignore the altercation. “When do you intend to leave us, my lord?” Fingolfin asked Legolas.

Legolas followed his gaze. “As soon as possible,” he said.

Fingolfin nodded. “Then might I invite you—and Princess Eowyn—to join me in my chambers later tonight? I have a fine old red of Dorwinion I think you will enjoy... ”


Aranwë the messenger brought Brightstar to a sudden halt.

He had been making good progress along the sheep-herders’ trail, keeping far to the west of the Caras Arnen road, hoping to bypass the dark army unseen, and—having come perhaps twenty miles, through dense forest, without incident—he had just begun to think that he was safe, when something up ahead alerted his elven senses.

The forest was dark. Aranwë carefully scanned the trees, tracing the dim outlines of trunk and bough, looking for any sign of warriors waiting in ambush. Brightstar, whether sensing danger, or merely responding to his rider’s alarm, suddenly whinnied.

Shhhhh.” The elf patted the horse’s neck and, after calming him with a few gentle words of Elvish, he drew his bow from its strap and nocked an arrow. Then he urged the horse forwards. “Tolo, Brightstar...”

The horse, though nervous, walked bravely down the trail.

Aranwë heard a faint click.

He spun in the saddle, loosing his arrow at a dark shape that had suddenly appeared in the branches of the nearest tree; the shadow let out a muffled cry, and fell to the ground with a soft thud.

Aranwë’s hand flew back to his quiver “Noro!” he cried, digging his heels in the horse’s flanks. “Noro, Brightstar!”

The horse broke into a gallop and Aranwë turned, loosing again and bringing another shadow crashing down from the trees, just as something sharp stung his bow hand.

He dropped his gaze. A tiny crossbow quarrel had embedded itself in his flesh!

And, as he went to remove it, the elf could already feel a numbness, like liquid lead, flowing up his arm and into his body. His bow fell from his paralysed fingers, and he slumped forward in the saddle, using up the last ounces of his strength in a desperate attempt to lock his good arm around the horse’s neck.

Noro, Brightstar,” he mumbled, “find the elves... Find... Eryn Carantaur...”


Emyn Arnen

“Why do they not attack?” asked Berengar.

The two hours had come and gone. Drago had brought hundreds of refugees into the comparative safety of the gorge; Alfgar had completed the barricade—as best he could—to a height of six feet in some places and backed with a deep trench; the warriors of North Ithilien were armed and ready.

“They hope to break our nerve,” said Eowyn.

Berengar, staring in the direction of the Caras Arnen road, craned his neck forward in a futile attempt to see through the dark. “They are succeeding.”

The woman turned to the young man—once her rival for her husband’s love, now the closest thing she had to a friend—and placed her hand on his arm. “You should not be here, Berengar,” she said. “Go up to the camp—I know you want to avenge him—we both want to avenge him—but your place is up there. No one can juggle men and stores and set up chains of supply like you can. I need you up there, in the Healing Tents and the Mess Tent, finding help for the wounded and food and shelter for the refugees.” She smiled. “It is where he would have stationed you.”

She saw the man’s handsome face distort with terrible grief, saw the pain threaten to overwhelm him, then watched in admiration as, with an heroic effort, he regained control of his emotions. “I shall do as you command, my Lady,” he said.

Eowyn squeezed his arm. “Good luck, Berengar. May we both live to see the dawn.”


Eryn Carantaur
Lord Fingolfin's chambers

Legolas leaned back in his chair. “The wine is, as you say, my Lord, excellent, but I do not believe it is the real reason you asked us here.”

“No...” Fingolfin looked slowly from Legolas to Eowyn, and back again, then said, “I do not want either of you to think that I am being disloyal to Lord Legolas. I believe in his leadership; I believe in his vision for this colony—” He suddenly looked down at his hands, which he had been unconsciously wringing, and clasped them tightly together.

“My lord?” prompted Legolas, gently.

“Recently,” said Fingolfin, still staring at his hands, “he has seemed...” He searched for the right word. “He has seemed to lack confidence. And some of his decisions have been—unexpected.”

“Are you saying,” asked Legolas, “that he is being influenced by his future father—”

No!” Fingolfin shook his head. “No, my lord. Quite the opposite! I would say that he is deliberately avoiding that by vetoing any policy that might favour Angaráto’s business interests—sometimes to the detriment of the rest of the colony. I am not saying that he has lost his integrity—far from it. I am saying that, sometimes, it seems that he can no longer think clearly.”

Legolas set down his wine glass. “Why are you saying this to us, my lord?”

“Because I had been thinking for some time,” said Fingolfin, “that Lord Legolas’ feelings for Alatáriël were not natural.”

“In what way?”

The older elf cleared his throat, delicately. “Granted, she is a very beautiful elleth, and he has always had a reputation for—er,”—he cleared his throat again—“excess—”

Legolas gasped—his face betraying a mixture of surprise and embarrassment

“He is still young,” explained Fingolfin, quickly. “But their relationship, which has always been quite public—”

Eowyn blushed deeply, and reached for Legolas’ hand.

“—appears to have no foundation—besides physical desire—other than a slight affection on his part and a hunger for status on hers. When Princess Eowyn told me how the Harvest potions had been tampered with on your world, I realised that the same might have happened here. And if Alatáriël—or, rather, her father—is still plying Lord Legolas with potions, then that might explain his strange attachment to the elleth, and his generally blunted faculties.”

Legolas turned to Eowyn. “You have spent time with him, melmenya. Do you think he is being drugged?”

Eowyn bit her lip. What Legolas’ double had admitted to her, beside The Aelvorn, had not strictly been told in confidence, and to disclose it now was almost certainly in his own interest, but, still, it felt like a betrayal.

“You have my word,” said Fingolfin, sensing her discomfort, “that nothing you say to me will be repeated outside these walls, my Lady.”

“I cannot say whether he is acting strangely,” said Eowyn, “but he did tell me that he has been dreaming of my double. He says he hardly knows her, and yet he has been dreaming about choosing her at the Harvest Rite and making her his wife.”

Dear Valar,” whispered Fingolfin. He turned to Legolas. “Can I ask you, my lord, to stay here a day or two longer?”

“To what purpose, my lord?”

“To spend some time with him. I am sure that if he were to discuss these matters with you—”

I seem to annoy him,” said Legolas. “In fact, we annoy each other.”

“Perhaps if you were both to spend time with him...”

“Will you allow us to sleep on it—as men say—Lord Fingolfin?” said Eowyn. “We will give you our answer in the morning.”


Emyn Arnen
The barricade

Eowyn climbed onto the escarpment, and peered through a gap in the wooden barricade. “Where?” she asked.

“About three hundred yards, my Lady, to the right of the beech copse,” said Alfgar, softly.

“So close...” She scrambled back into the trench. “Light the braziers,” she said, decisively.

“Make ready to light the braziers!” cried Alfgar.

Twenty hand-picked men nocked prepared arrows; twenty comrades applied a light to twenty arrowheads. Alfgar raised his hand, then, “LIGHT THE BRAZIERS!” he cried, bringing it down in a swift, chopping motion.

The twenty archers loosed, and all found their targets. There was a long moment. Then twenty piles of pig fat-sodden kindling caught and flared.

Cries of pain went up all over the plain, from hundreds of dark shadows, stumbling about in the sudden light, some shielding their eyes, others raising their heads and staring bravely into the searing flames...

“Gods,” cried Eowyn. “Loose! Loose! Stop them! Stop them now!”

LOOSE!” roared Captain Alfgar, and the cry was relayed along the barrier as archers began their desperate work, whilst support crews ran back and forth along the trench, bringing arrows and bowstrings and replacing broken bows.


“It is not our responsibility, melmenya,” said Legolas, quietly, as they made their way back to their lodgings.

“Why do you say that?”

“You think it is?”

Eowyn paused beside a small garden flet and, leaning against the walkway rail, gazed out across the aerial city. It was not her real home, but its beauty still brought a lump to her throat. “We have no idea,” she said, “how the two worlds co-exist—for all we know, events in one may influence events in the other.”

“If that were true, melmenya,” said Legolas, dryly, “our relationship should already have brought him to his senses.”

Eowyn turned her back to the handrail and smiled up at him. “Perhaps it has, Lassui. Perhaps that is what he is seeing in his dreams.”

Legolas shook his head. “You never let me win an argument.”

Eowyn grinned. “I love you. Especially when you admit defeat.”

“Come on, then—”

“Where are you going?” She grasped his arm.


We are over there.” She pointed to the guest house.

Legolas cursed under his breath. “We will ask the others if they are willing to stay a few days more, melmenya—if they are not, we will return home immediately.”


Emyn Arnen
The fight

“Look,” gasped Eowyn, “it is true!”

The advancing warriors were shrouding themselves, disappearing within strange globes of darkness and, here and there, some were rising several feet into the air and floating towards the barricade. Eowyn narrowed her eyes, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. “Aim for the centre of each cloud,” she shouted. “Do not let the flyers cross the wall!”

“We cannot see the centres, my lady,” said Alfgar, as more and more of the dark army disappeared. “The clouds are merging...”

Some of his archers had stopped shooting, and stood in confusion, wildly aiming and re-aiming as their targets disappeared before their eyes.

“Shoot the darkness itself!” shouted Eowyn, at the top of her voice. “Shoot into the darkness—do not stop! You must hold the darkness back.”

Alfgar relayed her orders. Then, “We risk wasting arrows, my lady,” he added, quietly.

Eowyn shook her head. “No! They have no long-range weapons, Captain, just small crossbows, and swords. If we can hold them back, we retain the advantage—see how the darkness begins to thin? They are dying Captain—wounded or dying. The darkness is some act of will...” She leaned over the barrier. “The more we can kill before they get in close, the better our chances. It is worth risking the arrows—”

Alfgar pulled her down into the comparative safety of the trench. “Leave it to me, my lady—KEEP IT UP,” he roared, “keep shooting—hold them back!”

A frantic war cry went up behind them—from the gulley, their western defence. Eowyn scrambled from the trench and ran across the tongue of land between the lines, her hand on her sword.

A horde of dark warriors, some mounted on huge lizards, had swept out of the forest and were attempting to cross the natural ditch. With no parapet to protect them, the ordinary men, women and children of Emyn Arnen were risking their lives, pounding the enemy with rocks, felling them with heavy logs, and drenching them with boiling water.

Eowyn drew her sword and prepared for hand-to-hand combat.

Three enormous lizards, running on huge, clawed feet, plunged into the ditch and emerged unscathed, their dark riders—wielding long, curved swords—slashing the defenders to right and left.

Eowyn stood her ground.

The foremost creature lurched towards her, snapping its wide, beaked mouth.

Eowyn waited, sword raised.

The rider veered left, pulling back on his reins, aiming to bring his sword arm within range of her. But the manoeuvre raised his mount’s head, and exposed the soft, loose skin of its throat. Eowyn ducked past the creature’s cruel jaws and slashed upwards in a long, overhand stroke, slitting its gullet—then threw herself to her knees to avoid the sudden gush of gore, and rolled clear of the falling carcase.

The dark rider, his leg crushed beneath his mount, struggled to release himself from his elaborate saddle.

Eowyn froze, momentarily taken aback by his beauty—by the delicate, almost feminine features, the pointed ears, and the thick white hair. Then the thing raised his head and stared at her, defiantly, with his fiery red eyes, and she remembered Faramir’s mangled body, and calmly finished him off.

Now the chaos was all around her, but her warriors were not overmatched and she knew that, if she could regroup the men, form them into a wedge, they might still drive the dark demons back into the forest.

Eowyn raised her sword aloft. “Fall back to the centre,” she shouted, and Captain Alfgar, running to her side, took up the cry. The humans started to manoeuvre themselves into position—

And, suddenly, everything changed.

An order seemed to pass along the dark ranks, and the demons began to withdraw, retreating down the gulley and melting away into the trees—the humans had no trouble finishing off the few caught at the centre of the battlefield. The fight had mysteriously gone out of them.

Eowyn looked up at the sky.

Dawn! she thought.


Eryn Carantaur

“That is exactly how he behaved,” said Gimli to Hentmirë, “when I first met him. As stiff-necked an elf as ever there was—”

“Good morning, elvellon, gwendithen,” said Legolas, walking briskly into sitting room. “Ah, I see our host has provided us with an excellent breakfast!”

“This sounds ominous,” said Gimli, quietly.

“Come, gwendithen,” said Legolas, drawing out a chair for Hentmirë. “I have something to ask you—all of you—good morning, Berryn, come and join us.” He seated Eowyn, then took his place between the two women.

Gimli offered Hentmirë some porridge; she shook her head.

“Lord Fingolfin,” said Legolas, “has asked us to stay for a few days.”

“Why?” asked Gimli, ladling a good measure of porridge onto his own plate.

“He has asked me to spend some time with my double,” replied Legolas.

“To talk some sense into him, I hope,” said Hentmirë, buttering a slice of bread.

“What makes you say that, gwendithen?”

He is civil enough,” said Hentmirë, adding some strawberry jam, “if a little proud. But his lady is quite rude. He could do so much better.”

“To talk some sense into him, then,” admitted Legolas, with a smile. “But I have my doubts about the idea,”—he smiled at Eowyn—“and we shall not stay if anyone objects. What do you say, Gimli?”

“From what I saw last night,” replied the dwarf, “every elf in this colony would profit from a few days’ fighting orcs in the Mines of Moria.” He thought for a moment. “I say stay. If nothing else, it will give Hentmirë and Berryn a chance to get a good rest before they have to go back into that black water.”

Berryn laughed. “Thank you Gimli! I have no objections to staying, my Lord. It is fascinating to see the differences between the two worlds. As for the inhabitants’ slight frostiness—well, that is nothing I have not experienced before.”


The little woman laid her piece of bread on her plate, and wiped her fingers on her napkin. “If you can persuade them to give me my own clothes back,”—she held out her arms to indicate the borrowed elven gown that made her look like a short, stout Arwen—“I shall be quite happy to stay for a few more days,” she said. “Perhaps I could have a quiet word with your double.”

Legolas gave her a hug. “Then I shall tell Lord Fingolfin that we will stay for another two days, and then we will go home.”


Emyn Arnen

“You need some sleep, my lady,” said Berengar, following Eowyn into her tent.

The woman waved his supportive hand away. “How many casualties?”

Berengar sighed. “I estimate eighty dead, some of them women and elderly men,” he said. “We are recovering as many bodies as we can. As for their dead, I have not yet decided what to do with them, nor with your lizard—perhaps we can eat it... We have over a hundred injured and, of those, the healers say at least ten will not live—”

“They will return Berengar,” said Eowyn. “They will return—perhaps tonight. We must shore up the barricade, fortify the gulley—it was the weakest point in our defences—and we need arrows—”

Berengar caught her by the hands. “If you do not take four hours sleep now I shall drug you myself!” He led her into her bedroom and started to unlace her cuirass.


“If you are going to behave like a warrior, expect to be treated like one.” He removed the leather breastplate, and lifted her mail hauberk over her head. “Sit down.” He unlaced her boots and pulled them off. “Now—lie down,” he said, lifting her feet and dumping them unceremoniously onto the bed, “and sleep! I will organise the repairs. And...”

He sat down beside her and took her hand. “You said earlier that you were using me as Faramir would have used me. Well, Faroth would have trusted me to give him advice. And that is why I am advising you to send for your brother immediately.”

When there was no protest, he glanced down at her face.

She was fast asleep.

“Very well,” he said. “I shall send for your brother.”


Eryn Carantaur

Legolas answered the door.

“I am on my way to inspect the guard post this side of Eryn Brethil,” said his double. “Perhaps you would like to join me?”

Legolas could not keep the surprise from his face.

“I know that Lord Fingolfin has invited you to stay a while,” the other elf explained. “He thinks that we will each benefit from hearing the opinions of the other...”

“Ah. I see.” Legolas nodded. “In that case, yes. Let me take my leave of Eowyn, and fetch my bow.”


Berengar scanned the Mess Tent. “Captain Alfgar, may I join you?”

“Suit yourself.”

The captain was a good man, Berengar knew, but he thought the world of Eowyn, and had never hidden his hostility to the secretary who had supplanted her in her husband’s affections.

Berengar laid a sealed letter on the table. “Lady Eowyn has already written to Lord Legolas, asking for his aid—”

“I know.”

“And that is all well and good,” continued the secretary, “but he is an elf and, since the Ring war, the elves have shown little interest in the affairs of men.”


“I have written to her brother—”

“Wild Eomer King.”

“The same. And I need a strong swimmer,” said Berengar, “to deliver the letter.”

The captain’s surly expression suddenly changed. “A swimmer?”

“Capable of swimming at least ten miles along the Anduin, against the current,” said Berengar. “At Parth Forod there is a farm that Faroth—Prince Faramir—used to visit regularly, when hunting orcs along the northern border. The farmer there will supply our messenger with a horse.”

“That is a clever plan,” said Alfgar, nodding. “Does Lady Eowyn know of it?”

“No,” Berengar admitted, for he anticipated no further resistance from Alfgar. “Do you know of a swimmer, Captain?”


The Eryn Brethil road

“Have you found it to be true, what they say about the passion of women?”

Legolas, who had been enjoying the slow, silent ride through the carantaur forest, turned to his double in surprise.

His double shrugged. “You cannot blame me for being curious...”

“I fell in love with Eowyn the moment I saw her,” said Legolas, pointedly, “as she ran into the Golden Hall, intent on protecting her uncle. Why did that not happen to you?”

The other elf ducked gracefully beneath a low branch. “How do you know that it did not?”

“Did it?”

“I was certainly aware of her charms...”

“That is not what I mean, and you know it.”

“What you mean,” said his double, “is that if your precious union with an adaneth really is approved by the Valar, why did it not happen here, too?”


Yes. You are not as confident in your choice as you claim—”

“It is not I who is dreaming of Alatáriël!”

His double drew in his reins and brought Arod to a halt. “What do you mean by that?”

You are dreaming of Eowyn. Or of her double. You—” His double suddenly gestured for silence. “Two riders,” he whispered, pulling his bow from its strap and nocking an arrow; a split-second later, his double did the same.

They sat, side-by-side, astride their horses, staring intently through the red-dappled gloom, their arrows trained, unmoving, on a bend in the forest trail, thirty yards ahead.

Moments later, his own bow at the ready, a very familiar figure emerged from the trees, leading a magnificent black stallion bearing an unconscious elf on its back.

“Valandil!” cried Legolas. “And Brightstar...” He lowered his bow and dropped lightly to the ground. “What has happened?”

“We do not know, my lord,” said Valandil, looking uncomfortably from one Legolas to the other. “We caught the horse galloping south along the old sheep-herder’s trail. Aranwë was already unconscious.” He looked down at Legolas, clearly awaiting an explanation. “My lord?

“This is a distant kinsman of mine,” said Legolas’ double, dismounting. “He is paying me a brief visit. But I was not expecting Aranwë until tomorrow, at the earliest, and he should have brought men...” He came up beside Legolas, who was gently examining the messenger for any signs of injury. “I sent him to Prince Faramir, with a letter demanding he send an armed escort to fetch his wife.”

“Why is he riding Brightstar?” asked Legolas. “Eowyn loves this horse...”

“He is carrying a message, my lords,” said Valandil. “I thought it might be urgent.”

Legolas carefully opened the leather satchel, removed a rolled parchment, and handed it to his double, who broke the seal and quickly scanned its contents.

“There is a tiny wound on his hand,” said Legolas, “almost like the insect bites I have seen on men—”


“What is it?”

“Prince Faramir is dead.”

Dead... How?”

“In battle.” He read from the letter:

We do not know where these demons have come from, only that, until now, they have shunned the daylight and attacked at night. Your messenger, however, has reported seeing an army of two thousand, in the vicinity of the Divor Rocks, running north along the Caras Arnen road. I shall leave it to him to provide further details—” He raised his eyes. “When will he wake?”

“I do not know,” said Legolas. “But his pulse is strong, and its speed is no different from mine...”

His double continued reading:

I have sent repeatedly to King Elessar for assistance but none of my messengers has reached him. The dark army clearly intends to strike immediately, perhaps with their allies from Caras Arnen, in a two-headed attack. If we endure this night I doubt that we can survive a another... I beseech you, Lord Legolas, to keep the promise you once made, and join me in this desperate fight,

“Your former comrade in arms,


“Eowyn!” Legolas grabbed the letter and stared at the signature. It was identical to the one he knew as well as his own. “It will take us—what?—two days to raise an army and to march it north to Emyn Arnen. How many warriors can you call upon?—Eomer! Why has she not sent to Eomer for help? Why—?” He turned to his silent double, suddenly aware that the other elf was not responding to his questions. “You do not intend to answer her call...”




Contents page


Previous chapter: The Underdark
Wilawen is taken deep into the Underdark; the elves follow.

Chapter 9

Next chapter: The guardian
Drizzt hides Wilawen; the elves struggle through the Underdark; Orodreth delivers a message.

Chapter 11

A lizard and his rider
Images from the Homeland comic book.


Suilad, gwador nín ... ‘Greetings, my (sworn) brother’.
Baren bar lin ... ‘My home is your home’.
Telo, medo a sogo uin mereth ... ‘Come, eat and drink of the feast’.
Maer aduial, híril nín ... ‘Good evening, my lady’.
Hentmirë i eneth nín ... ‘My name is Hentmirë’.
Avo 'osto, mellon nín ... ‘Do not fear, my friend’.
Tolo ... ‘Come’.
Noro! ... ‘Run!’

From The Council of Elrond and Hith a Naur.


I've had a lot of fun reading up about American Civil War fortifications!

A barricade is 'an obstruction positioned to block passage through a street, trail, or doorway. Barricades could be formed using whatever heavy materials were close at hand such as tipped over wagons, heavy casks, and sandbags'.

Technically, a redoubt is an enclosed detached fortification, but colloquially the word is used to refer to any line of defence that's really successful, and that's how Captain Alfgar's using it.

An enceinte is the outermost continuous line of fortification—in this case, a short wall across the mouth of the gorge.

A ditch runs along the outside of a parapet and is intended for defence; a trench runs along the inside and its main function is to provide building materials, but it also serves as a base for offence. The disadvantage of a ditch is that, if the enemy can get inside it, he can take a rest—make a cup of tea—while he prepares for the next stage of the attack, and not only can you not see him over your parapet, you can't shoot him, either (though if you've had the foresight to collect them up beforehand, you can always drop rocks on him).

Obstacles at the bottom of a ditch might include felled trees, a row of stakes, or nasty spiky things called cheveaux-de-frise.