shadow eowyn and hadir

Heart pounding, lungs burning, Arador burst through the surface of the water and fell, gasping, upon the shore.

Legolas’ advance party filed silently down the old sheep herder’s trail. The sun was already low in the sky, and its hazy golden light, filtering through the beech trees, cast alarming shadows throughout the Forest.

“Hentmirë,” said Eowyn, softly, “you need not cling so tightly.”

“I am sorry,” whispered the little woman, looking to left and right. “I am a bit nervous.”

“We are all nervous,” replied Eowyn, reassuringly, “but you know Legolas’ orders. If we are attacked, I am to get you safely away from the fight.”

“Yes,” said Hentmirë, “but that means leaving Legolas behind. And Gimli and Berryn.”

Smiling, Eowyn patted her hand.


Arador raised his head. The noise was unmistakable, and—now that he had seen exactly what made it—terrifying. We must move, he thought. “Orophin?”

Where is he?

Where am I? Clumsily, he rolled onto his back. Still in the starlit cavern…

But how can that be? He remembered being dragged down by his heels, deep, deep into the suffocating water, but he had no memory of rising up again. Am I dead? Is this… “Orophin!”

“He is not here.” The voice was familiar, but sounded strange. “Not Orophin. Not Rumil,” it said. “There are both—they are not here.”

“Haldir?” Arador struggled onto his elbows. The big elf was sitting at the edge of the lake, staring out across the mirror-still water. The boy crawled towards him. “Haldir…”

“They did not survive—none of them survived… Just us.”

Arador laid a hand on the elf’s arm. “I am not sure that it is we—”

My brothers are both dead!


The boy jumped. “Gods, it is getting closer! Haldir, we must move—come! We cannot stay here. Please—come!”

Emyn Arnen

Captain Alfgar coughed respectfully.

“Come in!”

The soldier lifted the tent flap and ducked inside. Eowyn was sitting at her little writing desk, working her way through a pile of papers. Alfgar waited until she had laid down her pen. “The prisoner wants to talk to you, my lady.”

“Good” She turned to face him. “Are we ready for his comrades?”

“The braziers have been moved further out, as you instructed. The barricade has been strengthened—”

“With what?”

“We felled some trees. Radulf’s citizens are drilled and ready to fight.”

“We will keep them in reserve.”

Alfgar nodded approvingly. “Gybon has had the civilian blacksmiths working hammer and tongs, turning every bit of metal he could scrounge into spikes—we have lined the gulley with them.”

“The demons can fly.”

“I know that, my lady. But their mounts cannot. And some of the lads from the boatyard have helped Hallyng build two crossbows—massive things, mounted on wooden horses—that shoot bolts as thick as your wrist.”

“For the lizards?”

“Yes.” He smiled, grimly. “If they come back tonight, my lady, we shall be ready for them.”

“And Captain Drago?”

“No word as yet, my lady.”

Captain Drago moved cautiously through the undergrowth.

He had been searching for the dark elves’ encampment since shortly after dawn, starting at the wooded foothills of Eryn Vorn, ten miles east of the gorge—which was where he had told Princess Eowyn they would be, because that was where he would have been.

But they had not been there.

So, disobeying Eowyn’s direct orders, he had continued the search, leading his small band of men farther and farther east, deeper and deeper into possible enemy territory, towards what would have been his second choice of hideout, the great overhanging rocks of Gynd Thûn.

Fighting the panic that was rising, like bile, in his chest, Arador dragged Haldir through a low opening in the cavern wall.

The noise had multiplied—now there were two, perhaps three, crab-creatures, and they were closing in.

Hunting us, thought Arador. By sound or smell or… something. “Haldir!” He grasped the elf’s good arm and shook him as hard as he could. “We must keep moving!”

“Yes… I am sorry. I… Yes.”

“Here.” The boy pulled the glowing crystal from his pack and put it in the elf’s hand. “Go!” For a long moment, Haldir simply stared at the thing in confusion, then he set off down the twisting tunnel.

Arador followed. He had sealed his map in its oilskin pouch before entering the water, and he knew that it would take too long to retrieve it now, so he could only hope that he was remembering Drizzt’s instructions correctly.


Where is Drizzt?

The boy’s final memory, before he had slid beneath the water, was of the dark elf, watching them cross the lake. It is not that the others have drowned, he thought, as he scrambled after Haldir. If they had, Drizzt would still be beside the lake… It must be that we have drowned.

Oh mama, I am so sorry—


Shit! They have followed us into the tunnel!” Arador grabbed Haldir. “They are catching up.”

“One of your bottles,” said the elf.


They rounded a sharp turn, stopped, and—whilst Haldir held the crystal over the boy’s pack—Arador found his tinderbox, wiped away the worst of the water, and unscrewed the metal lid.

At least the tinder is dry.

If I am already dead, he thought, as he struggled to strike a spark, why am I so scared? Can I be killed again? Do we pass from world to world, dying over and over? No. I was born in the last world; I remember growing up there.

Besides, why would Haldir be in the same place as me…?


“Oh gods!”


No! We are still alive! We are alive and we are going to stay alive!

Fired by a new determination, Arador uncorked the bottle and touched its cloth wick to the glowing tinder, waited until the flame caught, then stepped around the corner—crying out in shock as a pair of massive pincers snapped at his head—and flung the flaming bottle between the monsters’ legs.

The bottle exploded.

For a split-second the boy froze, mesmerised by the sight of the creatures’ writhing in the flames and the sound of their hard shells cracking in the heat.

Then Haldir dragged him back to safety.

“You,” the boy gasped, “are the warrior. You are supposed to do the killing.”

Emyn Arnen

The drow prisoner was still bound to the tent pole, but someone had taken pity on him and found him a pair of breeches and a shirt. Eowyn crouched beside him. “Captain Alfgar tells me that you have agreed to talk.”

The dark elf turned his beautiful face towards her. “What do you want to know?”

“What I asked you before,” said Eowyn. “What are your people planning, and why?”

The drow shook his head. “They have no plans, and they have no reasons.”

Eowyn sighed. “What is that supposed to mean?” She sat back on her heels.

The drow stared thoughtfully at the ground, and Eowyn realised that he had meant what he said. “They act upon the orders of their goddess,” he explained, “and she lusts after chaos.”


“It increases her power.”

“So we are—what?—a sacrifice to her?”

The drow raised his head and eyed her with sudden respect. “You,” he said, “are clever.”

“Why did they capture Caras Arnen?”

“They did not—you abandoned it—you left it in their hands.”

“To save our people,” said Eowyn.

The drow nodded. “That was a surprise. You do not behave as they expected. But your resistance is only playing into her hands.”

“The goddess?”

“Increasing her power.”

“But someone—one of the dark elves—must lead your army. Who is it? Your king?”

The drow smiled. “We have no king!” He considered her question. “The soldiers belong to the noble houses; the army is commanded by the matron mother of the foremost house—House Baenre.”

“A woman? Your leader?”

“Not my leader.”

Eowyn looked at him curiously. “You said that before—you said that you were nobody’s slave…”

“I am a free male. A soldier of Bregan D’aerthe,” said the drow, proudly.

“Meaning what, exactly?”

“How do I know that I can trust you?”

Eowyn turned to Captain Alfgar. “Cut him free.”

“My Lady, it is far too dangerous…”

“He knows that if he puts one foot outside this tent your men will cut him down.”

“He can do a lot of harm without ever leaving the tent, my Lady.”

“I can defend myself, Captain.” She tapped her sword hilt. “Cut him free.”

Reluctantly, Alfgar drew his long knife and, taking care to stand behind the drow—beyond his reach—sawed through his bonds. The dark elf gasped as feeling flooded back into his cramped arms.

“Now,” said Eowyn, “what have I earned by trusting you?”

The dark elf, rubbing his upper arms, gave her a faltering smile—and Eowyn, though surprised again by his extraordinary beauty, carefully kept her expression neutral. “Most male drow,” he said, “are slaves, kept for nothing more than breeding and fighting—”

Captain Alfgar made such a strange noise that the drow turned towards him, startled.

“Go on,” said Eowyn.

“The members of Bregan D’aerthe do not belong to the houses. Our services must be bought. Our leader is respected by all the matron mothers.”

“So you fight for the highest bidder?”

“Do you think they are dead?” asked Arador.

Haldir passed him the crystal. “I do not know. But I can hear no sound from them.” He sighed. “Are you sure that this is the right way?” The tunnel had suddenly closed in upon them—they could no longer stand upright—and, in places, the gaps were so narrow that Haldir had difficulty squeezing through.

“I have never killed anything before, Haldir. Do you think any of the drow in the acid cave died?”


“It had human eyes.” The boy handed back the crystal and slipped easily through the slit, pulling his pack behind him. “It was afraid of the fire.”

“I know it is difficult,” said Haldir, wearily, “but you must save your remorse, just as I must save my grief.” He grimaced as, pulling himself through the next gap, he grazed his bound hand on the rough wall. “If this is the way,” he said, holding up the crystal, “how much farther do we have to go?”

Captain Drago raised a hand, bringing his men to a halt. “The sun is already going down,” he said, quietly. “So we do not have much time. Janekin—come with me. The rest of you, stay here—eyes open.”

The two men crept forwards through the scrub, then dropped to the ground and, bellies in the dirt, crawled out into the long, dry grass at the foot of the rock shelter.

Cautiously, Drago raised his head. “Well I’ll be…!”

“Let me go first,” said Haldir.

“Alright,” said Arador. “But be quick. Do not leave me alone in here too long.”

Haldir patted his shoulder. Then he slipped his arm from its sling and pulled himself through the tiny hole into the daylight beyond.

Captain Drago leaped to his feet, ripping his sword from its scabbard as he ran towards the stranger.

The big elf—for it was obviously an elf, not a dark warrior—turned, and immediately drew his own sword, holding it, Drago noticed, in his left hand—

“Captain Drago!” he said, suddenly smiling and lowering the tip of his blade. “What are you doing in Eryn Carantaur?”

Frowning, the man planted his feet and levelled his sword. “Janekin?” he shouted.

“Yes sir.”

“Have you got your bow on him?”

“Yes sir.”

“One wrong move, elf,” said Drago, “and you will be waiting in your Halls of Mandos. Now—slowly—drop your sword—good—and tell me who you are, and how you know my name.”

“We have met before,” said the elf, “twice or thrice—when you have accompanied Prince Faramir to Eryn Carantaur.”

“I have never seen you before,” said the man. “And I have never been to the elven colony—”

A sudden movement beside the prisoner's feet caught Drago's eye. “Remember, elf,” he said, cautiously approaching the cliff, “my man has you in sight.”

He watched, sword at the ready, as a battered travelling pack emerged from a small gap at the foot of the rocks, followed by a very dirty but familiar-looking young man, crawling on all fours.

“Master Arador,” said Drago. “What are you doing here?”

Shielding his eyes from the dying sunlight, the boy peered up at him. “Have we met before, sir?”

For more than an hour, the Captain hurried them through the trees, staying close to the forest edge with the rocks of Emyn Arnen visible to the right, until they emerged into a wide, triangular plateau, fortified with a barricade running diagonally from the forest on the left to the cliff face on the right, defending a narrow gorge that sliced into the cliff behind.

Drago approached the wooden wall. “Amandil,” he shouted, “let us in.” A man appeared above the parapet and immediately lowered a ladder. Drago gave both prisoners a push. “Go on.”

Arador began to climb.

“My Lady expected you hours ago,” said Amandil. “Who have you got here?” He helped Arador over the barricade, holding him firmly by the arm. “Nowhere to run from here, son—gods, is that you under all that dirt, Master Arador?”

The boy shrugged.

“Your father thinks you are dead…”

Drago pushed Haldir again. “Hurry up!” he said. “Princess Eowyn is anxious to give me a roasting.”

Eowyn!” Haldir turned to face him. “What is Eowyn doing here?”

Eowyn’s tent

“My Lady?”

Eowyn laid down her pen. “Come in, Captain Drago.” She turned to greet him. “Did you find their camp?”

“I did not, my Lady, but I have taken two prisoners, who may be able to tell us something more.” He explained how he had caught an elf and a boy, emerging from inside the rocks. “The boy is the spitting image of Lord Aubin’s son, ma’am, but claims he does not know me. The elf—”

“Bring them in, Captain.”

“Very good, my Lady.” Drago lifted the tent flap. “Come inside.”

Eowyn watched the prisoners enter—Aubin’s son, Arador, and a big, handsome elf, who seemed familiar.

“Helm’s Deep!” she said, rising to her feet. “You led the elves at Helm's Deep. But—”

Eowyn!” The elf rushed forward, arms outstretched, and caught her by the hands.

“You died. I saw your body—”

“Eowyn!” He laughed, uncomfortably. “What on Middle-earth are you talking about? What are you doing here? Where is Legolas?”

Eowyn frowned. “Sir Elf,” she said, for he was clearly a person of some authority, “please, calm yourself.” She guided him towards one of the folding chairs. “I see that you are injured—Berengar, please fetch Master Ethelmar.” She sat him down. “You mentioned Prince Legolas. Is he on his way? Were you separated from him?”

The elf stared up at her. “I left Legolas with you, in Eryn Carantaur, three days ago.”

“Was I naked?”


“You are not the first person to mention having seen some—some double of mine in the elven colony,” said Eowyn. “But I assure you that she, whoever she is, is an impostor. As for you—you bear an uncanny resemblance to someone I saw fall at the Battle of the Hornburg.” She sighed. “But all this can wait. What I need to know now is—ah, Master Healer, here is your patient.”

She stepped back to give Ethelmar space to work. “All I need to know now, Sir Elf,” she repeated, “is what you can tell me about the dark demons.”

“About the drow?” The elf shook his head. “I do not understand what is happening here, but… Very well, I will tell you about the drow.” Slowly, he described how he had been sent to investigate a massacre near the Divor Rocks and how one of his people—a woman—had been kidnapped by the dark warriors.

Master Ethelmar, meanwhile, helped him out of his jerkin and tunic; Eowyn looked away.

As the healer cleaned and dressed his wound, the elf told how he had led a small band of rescuers into the Underdark, how they had been helped by one of the drow, and how the rest of the party—including his two brothers—had perished.

“I am sorry,” said Eowyn.

Finally, he explained how he and Arador had found their way out of the rocks at Gynd Thûn.

Eowyn looked enquiringly at Arador. “And you confirm this?”

“Of course, my lady,” said the boy.

“You befriended a dark elf?”

“He befriended us, my lady—or rather, he took pity on Mistress Wilawen.”

“He took pity…? Do you have any injuries, Master Arador?”

“Not really, my lady.” Arador smiled. “I am just hungry.”

“Berengar will take you to the mess tent.” She turned to her secretary. “Then find his father, Berengar. He will be overjoyed to see that his son is still alive.”

“All done, my lady,” said Master Ethelmar. “I will need to see him again tomorrow. But, for now, he is all yours.”

Eowyn cleared her throat. The elf was still stripped to the waist, but most of his broad, muscular chest was now covered in linen bandages. “Are you hungry, Sir Elf?”

He shook his head.

“Then I will leave you to get some rest. Please feel free to use my—er—bedchamber.”

Arador dumped his wooden bowl on the table and sat down heavily. Now that the danger had passed he was both tired and hungry—exhausted and ravenous—and it was hard to decide which need was more pressing.

But the soup smelled delicious.

He dipped his spoon into it.

“When did you last eat?”

The boy looked up. Berengar was sticking to him like a shadow. “I thought you were supposed to be fetching my father—though I do not understand what is he doing here.”

“I will find him in a moment.” Berengar sat down.

“I am not that sort,” said Arador.

“I am sorry?”

“I like women.”

Berengar laughed.

“I do.”

“I do not doubt it—though I think you are a little young for women. Girls, perhaps.”

“Then what do you want?”

Berengar beckoned to someone behind Arador’s back and immediately Captain Drago and the other soldier from the Princess’s tent—Captain Alfgar—joined them at the table.

“We want to hear more about the drow,” said Drago. “We plan to take the fight into their own territory—”

“You think you can invade the Underdark?” Arador looked up from his soup. “No,”—he shook his head—“impossible. First of all, it is dark down there—so dark that even an elf like Haldir cannot see without some sort of light. But light attracts them.”

“The dark demons?”

“And whatever other monsters are down there. They do not even need the light to find you—the crab things tracked us by some other sense—smell or hearing…”

He took a spoonful of soup, and continued, with his mouth full, “Then there was a lake of acid, and poisonous fungus, and tunnels so narrow that Haldir had to take his clothes off to squeeze through. You cannot lead an army down there. You would not last an hour.”

The three men exchanged glances. “The elf mentioned a map,” said Drago, as if the boy had said nothing during the past five minutes.

Arador sighed. “Believe me. You would not last an hour.”

“But you did.”

“I was with elves! Besides, we had help—”

“Tell us more about this friendly dark elf,” said Alfgar.

Arador shook his head. “Drizzt helped us because of Mistress Wilawen. He would not betray his own people for you.”

Deep in the forest

Legolas brought his followers to a halt, drawing them off the trail and into the comparative safety of the trees. “They are up ahead,” he said, softly. “I can sense them.”

Captain Golradir nodded in confirmation.

“How many?” asked Gimli.

“Thousands,” said the Captain, shrugging. “The entire army.”

“How do we get past them?” asked Eowyn.

“They will not be camping on the trail itself,” said Legolas. “Captain Golradir, Orodreth, and I will go ahead, on foot, to deal with the lookouts. The rest of you will wait here until we give the signal.” He raised his hand to his mouth and whistled like a bird.

“We must warn your double, Lassui,” said Eowyn.

“Yes.” He glanced around the remaining elves. “Malgalad—you will ride back to Eryn Carantaur, immediately.”

Emyn Arnen

“You intend to set the demon free?” Drago shook his head.

“If this leader of his,” said Eowyn, “can be persuaded to change sides—”

“He would be asking his men—his elves—to kill their own,” said Alfgar.

“They are mercenaries, Captain,” said Eowyn, “it is how they make a living—and, from what the prisoner tells me, their kind are constantly engaged in civil war.”

“You are assuming that he will keep his word,” said Drago.

“Because I will make it worth his while.”

“It is still a gamble, my lady,” said Alfgar.

I will follow him,” said Drago. “This is our best chance to find their camp.”

“No!” said Eowyn. “No—going into the forest after dark would be suicide, Drago. Besides, if they attack tonight we will need you here. We must trust him. And if he does betray us, what have we lost? Just a few gold pieces.”

Deep in the forest

“Be careful,” said Eowyn.

Legolas pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly. “A Captain kissing his second-in-command,” he whispered. “There will be a scandal…”

Promise me.”

“I promise.” He kissed her forehead. “You know what to do?”

“Wait for the signal then move out as silently as possible.”

“Take care of Hentmirë for me, melmenya.”

“You know I will, Lassui.”

Emyn Arnen

“Five hundred gold,” said Eowyn.

“A thousand,” replied the prisoner.

“Seven hundred and fifty. And that is my final offer.”

“Half now.”

Two hundred now,” said Eowyn. “Five hundred and fifty when I have spoken to your leader.” She cocked her head, regarding him shrewdly. “And one hundred extra if you bring him here in two days. Agreed?”

The drow sighed. “You drive a hard bargain, my Lady, but yes—agreed.”

“Captain Alfgar will return your armour and your knife, and escort you to the gulley.” She held out her hand. “We humans,” she said, “shake hands when we make an agreement like this. It binds each party, on his honour.”

The drow took her hand but did not shake it; instead, he raised it to his lips. “I am your servant, my Lady,” he murmured.

Eowyn calmly withdrew her hand. “I will believe that when you return with your leader, Master Drow. In two days.”

“Two days.”

Legolas, Golradir and Orodreth had left the trail and were moving through the trees, bows in hand.

They found the first pair of lookouts less than a quarter mile from where they had left Eowyn and the others. Legolas nocked an arrow and drew, aiming for the nearer of the two. The dark elf, suddenly sensing him, turned.

Valar, they look so much like us, thought Legolas, as he loosed, but on the inside, they are no better than orcs.

He hit his target between the eyes, and the drow fell from the tree, his mouth open in a silent cry.

His companion, shot by Golradir, fell a split-second later.

The elves pressed on.

The next pair of lookouts—alerted by the sound of their comrades’ fall—came running to meet them, swords drawn. Legolas took them both with two rapid shots.

“We must hurry,” he said, softly. “The next pair will know we are coming. And if they raise the alarm…”

“We should split up,” said Golradir.

The three elves broke into a run, weaving silently through the trees, scarcely disturbing the undergrowth.

The forest is our world, thought Legolas. Here, we have the advantage.

He saw the next pair of lookouts and, without breaking his stride, nocked an arrow and loosed.

Golradir and Orodreth ran on to the next post, leaving Legolas to take care of the second drow.

Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“I am sorry,” said Eowyn quietly. “I did not mean to wake you. I just need—”

“You did not.” Haldir swung his feet off the camp bed and sat up. “You look tired.”

“No.” Eowyn smiled. “That is, yes, I am, but not in the normal way.”

“Why are you here, Eowyn? Where is Legolas? And Eomer? Where is Faramir?”

“Faramir was killed,” said Eowyn, “in the first attack.”


“Yes.” She sat down beside him. “I miss him so much… As for Eomer—Eomer and I quarrelled—he does not approve of me. And Prince Legolas and I had a misunderstanding.”

“So much has changed in three days? None of this makes any sense…”

Eowyn smiled, sadly. “At least you seem to be feeling better. I am so sorry—about your brothers, I mean.”


“You are not ready to talk about them.”


“Elves are not accustomed to death—I saw that at Helm’s Deep.”

“You saved my life at Helm’s Deep,” he said. “You did.”

He looked at her intently—so brave, and yet so small and so vulnerable. So alone. His gaze dropped to her lips, delicately curved and petal-soft, and he leaned in closer and, with his good arm, he gathered her to his chest…




Contents page


Previous chapter: The hook horror
Wilawen and Guenhwyvar face a hook horror; the elves get some unexpected help; Arinna discovers Cyllien's secret.

Chapter 12

Next chapter: The drow
The elves are attacked; Cyllien makes a decision; Wilawen fetches a good price.

chapter 15