wilawen and the mage

Wilawen took one last look at the giant slug, and bid Valandil farewell, before her ensorcelled feet carried her away from him, perhaps forever.

No, she thought. Do not think that! All you need do is survive and, eventually, you will find your way back to him—or he will find his way to you.

She glanced at her new owner. I will survive, she promised herself. I will do whatever it takes.

She worked her way through the jostling crowd—the drow following close behind—aware that her feet, no longer under her own control, knew exactly where they were going and were navigating her, with smooth efficiency, past stall after stall—past cages of dejected slaves, naked and shackled; past displays of embroidered silks and dyed leathers; past racks of extraordinary weapons, and burnished armour, and fine, supple chainmail…

And at every step the city’s strange inhabitants loomed out of the darkness at her—drow females, tall and strong, striding confidently through the milling shoppers; fish-men with strange goggle-eyes, staring at her and sniffing disdainfully; smartly dressed orcs in elaborate livery, hurrying past on their owners’ business; tiny reptile-men, scurrying to collect rubbish; male drow...

The males, Wilawen noticed, were subservient to the females—even the courtier stepped aside and bowed (almost respectfully) when a female drow passed by. But she—being, she supposed, like and yet not like their own women—drew insolent stares from every male drow she encountered, some going so far as to reach out and grope at her until her owner dismissed them with a flick of his elegant hand.

“You are,” he murmured in Westron, “the stuff their dreams are made of…”

They turned a corner, and Wilawen’s feet came to a sudden and disturbing stop. To her right, a double-fronted stall caught her attention. She peered into its dimly-lit interior.

“Shimmerdark’s Decanter,” said the courtier, “with its astonishing collection of wines and spirits and—if you have the right currency—potions and poisons from all over the worlds, below and above.”

“Why have you brought me here?” asked Wilawen, her mouth dry with fear.

“Brought you...?” The courtier frowned; then his handsome face shone with amusement. “I think you misunderstand, My Surface Lady. We are here because I have a fancy for some wine.”

The forced march through the city ended at the foot of a grand staircase, wider and more imposing than the Great Gates of Minas Tirith, sweeping up to another, smaller cavern. And in that cavern—blazing, it seemed, with lights of every colour—stood three massive buildings: to the right, a solid, windowless pyramid; to the left, an elegant, many-spired tower; and in the centre—dwarfing them both—a stone spider, bigger than The Citadel itself!

Wilawen’s owner took her by the arm and drew her into the shadow of the sweeping stonework, where another drow was waiting for them. The two males greeted each other with a familiar hand-clasp, though it seemed to Wilawen that the second drow—a tall, burly creature clad in plate armour—was angry. But the courtier held up a hand and spoke soothingly and, suddenly, all was calm—and Wilawen strongly suspected that he had cast another of his spells.

“This,” he said, affably, “is Master Argith and, in a moment, he is going to carry you up the stairs and past the sentries.”

Sentries,” said Wilawen. “Why do...”

The courtier reached inside his cloak and drew out a small object—a tiny glass lens—raised it to his eye and sighted her through it. “Because I can make you invisible, but not without lifting the spell that forces you to walk, which means that you must be physically coerced, and I was not fashioned to carry heavy burdens.”

Wilawen clenched her fists. She was seething with fear and anger and indignation—at being bought and sold; at being smuggled into this place; at whatever the courtier intended to do with her once he got her inside—but all she said was, “I am not heavy.”

“Hmm.” Her owner signalled to his friend and the big drow scooped her up, and held her fast.

Then the Mage—That is what he is, thought Wilawen—cast his spells, and the two drow ascended the staircase and, nodding to the guards, passed unhindered through the gates, crossed the cavern, and carried Wilawen into the smallest of the three buildings, the slender tower.

Survive, thought Wilawen. I must survive.

Eryn Carantaur
Haldir's flet

Cyllien ran a hand through her tangled hair.

She had been lying on her bed—the bed she shared with Haldir and, sometimes, with others—since she had forced the carpenter, Heral, to leave at knife point the day before.

Lying on her bed, and hoping that she might die.

But morning had broken and she was still alive.

And now she needed some pipeweed.

Sighing, she pushed back the coverlet, swung her feet to the floor, and sat up.

A wave of nausea—an unfamiliar sensation—made her head swim. She swallowed hard and, ignoring the cold sweat on her forehead, and the sharp saliva filling her mouth, she stood up. It will be all right, she thought, when I have had a smoke.

She picked up Haldir’s hunting knife and, fumbling with the buckle, strapped it to her thigh.

Her pipe was hidden in the sitting room—for Haldir, though he said nothing, did not like her smoking, and Cyllien, though she took a childish pleasure in crossing him, was, for some reason, sensitive to his disapproval of that vice.

She opened the bedchamber door—

And, retching, clamped her hand over her mouth.

Lying in the middle of the sitting room floor, its head almost sliced from its body, was a dead cat.

The Underdark


“Yes, Valandil?”

“Where are we?”

In the inky darkness of the holding cell at the rear of the slave dealer’s stall, Dínendal sought out Rumil and Orophin, and beckoned them closer. “We are prisoners,” he replied, softly, “we—”

“Wilawen!” Valandil sat bolt upright.

Rumil and Orophin caught his arms.

Shhhh,” whispered Orophin. “She is still alive, mellon nín. And where there is life, there is hope. Sooner or later someone is going to open the door and, when they do, we will be ready. They will be armed, but they will not be expecting any resistance...”

“What makes you think that?” whispered Rumil.

“They have not restrained us,” replied Orophin. “They have underestimated us.”

“They just know that we have nowhere to go,” said Rumil.

“So what are you saying? That we should give up?” said his brother, sharply. “Are we going to cower in our cage or are we going to fight?”

“Orophin is right,” said Valandil, quietly. “We must try to escape.”

Together,” said Dínendal. “Our only chance is to stay—”

Shhhh,” said Rumil, suddenly. “Someone is coming.”

Eryn Carantaur

Swathed in a dark mantle, and keeping to the shadows as she passed the Palace building works, Cyllien descended to the main walkway and followed it westwards to the quiet neighbourhood where Arinna shared a house with the two Mirkwood elves.

Camthalion was surprised to see her, but politely invited her inside.

Arinna, sitting by the fireplace, gestured towards a chair. “You look as though you had seen a ghost,” she said.

Cyllien sat down heavily and—suddenly feeling safe enough to let her control slip—buried her face in her hands.

“Camthalion,” said Arinna, “some apple brandy, please. He has threatened you,” she said to Cyllien. “I am sorry. I should have realised—ah—thank you, Cami.”

Sensing the elf beside her, Cyllien raised her head, took the glass from him, drained it, and handed it back. Camthalion glanced at Arinna. The woman nodded. He went to fetch a refill.

“Tell us what happened,” said Arinna.

Cyllien frowned at Camthalion's back.

“You may speak in front of Cami,” said Arinna. “He already knows. And he is very discreet.”

Cyllien sighed. “When Heral came, yesterday, I told him I wanted to end it. But he would not listen; he frightened me. I—I threatened him with a knife and made him leave.”

Camthalion handed her another apple brandy. Cyllien took a large mouthful and cradled the glass against her chest.

The elf stood waiting.

Cyllien looked up at him, questioningly. Then, flushing, she whispered, “Thank you.”

“You are welcome.” He went to stand behind Arinna’s chair.

“Go on,” said the woman.

“This morning,” said Cyllien, “I found a dead cat in the sitting room. He must have come in whilst I was in bed and put it there. I had barred the door with a chair; I do not know how he got inside…”

“You are sure that this cat,” said Arinna, “could not have crawled in by itself—been injured somewhere else, perhaps, and—”

“No.” Cyllien shook her head. “Its throat had been cut with knife.”

Arinna leaned back in her chair. “How much cleaner things are,” she said, “when they are done properly. If I were running a house here… Still, things are messy, you have made your decision, and we must persuade him to accept it.”

“Accept it! He will never accept it!” cried Cyllien. “He left a dead cat in my house! In Haldir’s house.”

“Shall I fetch Captain Golradir?” asked Camthalion.

“No…” said Arinna. “Not yet. The Captain would be honour-bound to tell the March Warden—and we must avoid that, if we can.”

“I will see to the cat, then,” said the elf. He gave Arinna’s shoulder a brief squeeze; then, placing his hand on his heart, he bowed his head to Cyllien, and left.

“He is the best sort,” said Arinna, watching the door close behind him. “Completely trustworthy. They both are. Like your March Warden.”

“Thank you,” said Cyllien, bitterly.

The Underdark

The cell door opened.

Rumil and Orophin, crouching either side, sprang forward, grabbing the slave dealer by the arms and throwing him to the floor. Rumil pinned him down—


A second drow had appeared in the doorway, wielding a whip—Crack!—and Rumil cried out as the lash bit into his back. His body convulsed violently.

Rumil!” Orophin dropped to his knees beside his brother.

“Back!” The second drow—a magnificent female—stepped into the cell, one hand on her hip, the other holding the whip—which she trailed suggestively down Orophin's cheek, letting its six heads lightly brush his skin.

Then she drew it away, and the heads hissed

“Snakes!” cried Dínendal. “The whip is made of snakes!” He crawled forward. “Rumil has been bitten!”

“Back!” The drow raised her arm.

“I am a healer,” said Dínendal, holding up a hand in submission. “Please! Let me help my friend!”

“He does not need help,” replied the drow, in heavily-accented Westron. “That was just a warning. But,”—she cracked the whip again, letting the snake heads pass within a whisker of Rumil’s back—“a second lash will kill him. Release the male.”

Gently, Orophin and Dínendal lifted Rumil off the drow, and laid him, face down, on the cell floor. The male scrambled to his feet and stood before the female awaiting his punishment.

“You told me they were docile,” said the female, still speaking in Westron.

“Mercy, mistress,” the male mumbled, head bowed so low that his chin was resting upon his chest.

The female, however, was fondling her snakes, thoughtfully. “You have done well,” she said. “My clients will pay extra for males with spirit.”


Orophin paced back and forth across the tiny, dark room, cursing under his breath.

After allowing the female drow to cow him with her demonic whip he had let her force him to lift his unconscious brother onto his back and, with Dínendal and Valandil in tow, and escorted by a troop of heavily armed drow males, he had followed her across the city like a gelded hound.

Manwë's balls! Orophin drove his fist into the wall.

The pain was excruciating but, at the same time, calming.

Dínendal was right, he reminded himself. Our only chance is to stay together. Once Rumil had been bitten, we had no choice but to bide our time…

So why am I feeling like Orc shit?

The female drow had led them to an elegant tavern on the edge of the bazaar, set, like a castle, in its own moated grounds. She had brought them in through the rear entrance, had had them looked over by another female, and had locked them up in separate cells.

Orophin had no illusions about what the place was. He had visited human brothels himself, and had heard that there were some where males would lie with other males.

He punched the wall again. That will not happen to me! I will die first, he swore. I will

The key turned in the lock.

Orophin clenched his fists, and prepared to fight. The door swung open and a drow entered, carrying a dark lantern. Orophin charged.

The drow stepped aside.

Someone outside slammed the door shut. Orophin hit it with a sickening thud.

And, as he leaned against the planks, momentarily winded, he felt a hand slide down his back, and over his buttocks, and reach up between his legs.

“No!” He whirled around, lashing out with his fists, knocking the filthy animal to the floor.

The drow's dark lantern fell open, and a soft light filled the room.

Orophin gasped.

His molester was the drow female—no longer wearing her boiled leather armour, or carrying her fiendish whip, but dressed in a translucent gown that scarcely contained her voluptuous curves—and she was looking up at him with a mixture of sham contrition and genuine lust…

“I have been a very naughty girl, Master Elf,” she purred, in Westron, her exotic accent lending her words an extra frisson, “and I have come here to be punished.”

Wilawen stood beside the carved marble bath, staring at the warm, flower-scented water. It had been so long since she had felt clean, but…

“Undress and bathe,” said the Mage

“Why?” she asked, sharply.

“You smell. You must be cleansed.”


The drow sighed. “Here am I, about to involve you in one of the most arcane, most abstruse, most audacious rites a Master of Sorcere has ever attempted, and all you can do is quibble about bathing—have you no sense of the honour I am conferring on you? Have you no sense of gratitude?”

Wilawen sat down on the rim of the bath and folded her arms across her chest.

“Undress and bathe by yourself,” said the Mage, “or I will send for Master Argith and he will do it for you.”

“He would not,” said Wilawen, hoarsely. “He is your friend, not your servant, and he could never be persuaded to do anything so dishonourable in the name of friendship.”

The drow looked at her curiously. “And you know this, how?”

“By observation,” said Wilawen, “of him and of you. And from the way he held me when he carried me.”

“An impressive insight. But not, at this moment, of the slightest use to either of us. Very well, I shall undress you myself.” He raised an elegant hand. “With a single word.”

“If you could really do that,” said Wilawen, “you would already have done so—OH!”

The Mage had uttered his word.

Wilawen covered herself with her hands.

“I was refraining out of respect,” said the drow. “And because watching a woman undress is always pleasurable. Now bathe!” He turned to leave.

Wilawen glowered at his back.

Two words and your face will stick like that,” he said.

A young drow climbed the massive staircase, gave his excuse to the sentries, and entered the School of Wizardry.

The Mage returned carrying a gown of soft, black suede spangled with blood-red gems, and laid it carefully on the bed. “Are you considered a beauty amongst humans?”


“Are you—at least—intact?”

Wilawen stared up at him.

“I can look.”


“Pity… Still, it is the thought that counts—and you do have all the working parts—here.” He picked up a towel and held it ready for her. “But, if he should ask, tell him that you are a virgin.”

Orophin lay upon his bed, staring into the darkness.

The drow had not forced him. What he had done, he had chosen to do.


Wilawen watched the Mage take a long, slender rod from a padded box and approach the geometric figures inlaid in the marble floor. “What is your name?” she asked.

“What is yours?”

“I asked first.”

“Yes.” He turned, abruptly, his handsome face lit by something approaching a grin. “But I have more to lose.” Then he went back to his work, slowly drawing the rod down each side of the first figure, reciting a short phrase at the end of each stroke.

Wilawen, watching him, noted his absorption in the delicate process, and took a chance. “Eowyn,” she said. “My name is Eowyn.”

“Pharaun,” replied the Mage, sweeping the rod around a curve. “Pleased to meet you, Eo…” Then, under his breath, “Oh Lloth, you addle-headed fool!” He raised his head, fixing Wilawen with his fiery eyes. “Do you know anything of arcane magic?”



He took her by the hand and drew her into a circle, reciting more words. “Perfect,” he said. “Now we are ready.” He backed away. “This may take some time…”

He had collected several items and arranged them on a table, and now he stood behind them, lighting an incense burner and using his hands to waft the fragrant smoke into the prepared space, whilst he chanted a monotonous refrain—quietly at first, then louder, and louder, slowly building more and more momentum, until, at last, his summons reached its climax...

And a massive, man-like creature suddenly shot up through the floor, and stood beside Wilawen.

The young drow paused, and glanced back.

There was no one following him.

He drew a small onyx figurine from a pouch at his waist, set it down on the floor, and whispered a single word.


The demon clenched its fists and roared.

Wilawen stared in horror at its naked body—slimy mottled skin stretched over broad shoulders, a heavily muscled chest, powerful thighs, and a big, erect penis.



I have,” said Pharaun, calmly.


“Do not be foolish,” said the Mage. “For one thing, you are imprisoned—”

The demon lashed out, smashing both fists into the walls of an invisible cell.

“Well,” said Pharaun. “I suppose there is no harm in your trying. Unless, that is, I take steps to dissuade you.” He skimmed his fingers over the objects on the table and, dipping them into a small bowl, took a pinch of dust, and threw it at the demon.

The substance fell in a silvery shower, cascading down the invisible dome and studding its surface, like diamonds.

The creature fell silent, watching, as if mesmerised. Then it reached out, and stroked the glittering surface—

The dust motes exploded under its fingertips, shooting into its hand like a thousand tiny arrows. The demon drew back, crying out in pain.

“Now,” said Pharaun, “if you will just calm down, and look to your right, you will see that I have a gift for you.”

The demon looked Wilawen up and down.

“Is that not worth having?” asked Pharaun.

“Depends. What do you want in return?”

“We can discuss that later. Just give me your word that you will grant me one wish, and I will dispel the walls, and leave the pair of you to get acquainted.”

“No,” cried Wilawen. “No! Please—sir—I will do anything else you ask. Please!”

“It is a tempting offer,” said Pharaun; “but no.” He turned to the demon. “Well? What do you say?”

The creature leaned as close to Wilawen as his prison would permit, and snuffed at her skirts. “Is she a virgin?”

“Would I give you anything less?”

“No!” cried Wilawen. “No, I am not! He is trying to trick you! Pharaun, please, I am begging you—”

“PHARAUN!” bellowed the demon, pounding on the magical wall—oblivious, now, to the volatile dust that exploded with every blow—“I command you to release me, PHARAUN!”

Pharaun clasped his hands (as though around the creature’s massive neck), and hastily recited a spell that would shrink the demon’s prison and grip him in an invisible vise…

He completed it just as the creature broke free—disappearing through the floor and back to the astral plane from which it had been summoned—and the spell closed on empty space, met itself in the middle, and rebounded, lifting Wilawen bodily, and depositing her almost neatly in Pharaun’s outstretched arms.




Contents page


Previous chapter: Confusions
Haldir and Shadow Eowyn grow closer; Legolas and Golradir find the Drow encampment; Arador has an idea.

chapter 16

Next chapter: Departures & arrivals
Legolas and his companions set out for Minas Tirith; Shadow Legolas arrives.

chapter 18

More about the City of Spiders.