haldir, gimli and legolas

Legolas and his small band of warriors entered Osgiliath shortly before dawn.

They had worked their way through the Forest, staying close to the Anduin and keeping as far from the rocks of Emyn Arnen as the terrain allowed. They had seen no sign of the dark elves, but Legolas could not shake the feeling that danger was close by and, when they reached the abandoned city, he decided to wait until daylight before attempting to cross the river.

They quickly found a safe place to camp—a small, thick walled, flat-roofed guard post, built into the city wall and commanding views of the ruins to the east, and of the river to the west with the western suburbs of the city beyond.

Haldir volunteered to keep watch.

“We will rest here for two hours,” said Legolas to Eowyn, Gimli and Arador. “Try to sleep.”

He sat with Eowyn until her slow, regular breathing told him that she was safely asleep, then he joined the March Warden outside.


Haldir had walked a little way north along the wall, and was standing beside its outer parapet, looking towards the Anduin.

“If they attack,” said Legolas, quietly, “it will be from over there.” He indicated the ruins behind them.



“They are not here. They should be here—otherwise, why did none of Eowyn’s messengers reach Minas Tirith? They cannot be beyond the wall,”—he nodded towards the great fortification that surrounded The Pelennor—“for the plain within is too exposed.”

“They live in the rocks,” said Legolas. “They may be beneath us, or...”

“Or what?”

“They may already be in Minas Tirith.”

Haldir turned to him in alarm.

“Suppose they have emerged from Mount Mindolluin,” said Legolas, thinking aloud, “and taken Minas Tirith as they took Caras Arnen. That would explain why Aragorn has sent no aid—for, even without Eowyn’s messengers, he must know that something is wrong—he has had no communication from Faramir in almost a month, and there will have been no travellers, no merchants ...”

“Where would that leave us?”

“We will proceed as planned,” said Legolas.

“With Eowyn? And the boy?”

“It is all conjecture at present,” replied Legolas, “we will not know for certain until we reach the city. And Eowyn and the boy would be no safer back at the encampment.”

Haldir nodded. Then, turning back towards the east, where a faint, pinkish glow was already spreading upwards over Osgiliath, he said, “Eowyn and I—the other Eowyn—we—”

“Yes,” said Legolas.

“It must seem...”


With an effort, Haldir looked his Lord in the eye. “When it happened, I did not know exactly who she was, but I was sure that she was not your wife.”

“Oh, Haldir!” Legolas patted his friend on the back. “Do you think I ever doubted that?”

“You are more trusting than I would be,” said Haldir.

“I know you. And I know my Eowyn.” He nodded towards the west and the two elves crossed the wall-walk and surveyed, once more, the shores of the Anduin.

“Do you intend to stay here?” asked Legolas.

“If it is possible,” said Haldir. “And if you will grant me permission.”

“What is, and is not, possible,” said Legolas, “we will not know until we try—we may none of us have any choice but to stay here. As for the other: do you really feel you need to ask?” He shook his head. “But Haldir—” He stopped abruptly. Then he said, softly, “Did you see that?”

Haldir nodded. “It is not a dark elf—too tall...” He leaned across the parapet, observing the figure that had emerged from the ruins on the farther bank of the river. “It is a man,” he said, “who has darkened his face.”

“So as not to be seen in the moonlight,” agreed Legolas.

As the two elves watched, the man slipped into the water and began to swim—working hard to maintain his course across the swift current.

“He is a good swimmer,” said Legolas, “but he will need help. Wake Gimli: tell him to take over the watch. Then join me at the water’s edge.”


Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“Good morning,” said Legolas, awkwardly. He stepped into Eowyn’s tent, lowering the flap behind him. “Did you sleep well?”

Eowyn frowned. “Yes, since you ask, thank you...”

“It is just...” Legolas cleared his throat. He himself had spent a difficult night, slipping in and out of reverie—sometimes falling into mortal-like sleep—plagued by lurid visions of the woman now standing before him. “I know,” he said, “that mortals need sleep...”

“There is precious little time for it here,” said Eowyn, brusquely. “What did you want?”

Legolas narrowed his eyes—everything was suddenly blurred—and his head seemed too heavy for his shoulders. “May I—sit down?”

“Over here.” Eowyn—most inappropriately, he thought—put her arm around his waist and led him to a chair. “Are you all right?”

“I...” Legolas sank into the seat. “To tell the truth, I...”


“Berengar!” Eowyn struggled to stop the unconscious elf falling. “Berengar!

The tent flap rose, but it was not Berengar who came rushing to her aid. “Perhaps,” said Hentmirë, supporting Legolas from the other side, “we could lie him on the floor...”

“Yes.” Eowyn allowed the little woman to take the lead and, together, they lowered Legolas’ inert body to the ground and rolled him onto his side. “Where is Berengar?” muttered Eowyn. “We need a healer—what are you doing?”

“I am loosening his clothing,” said Hentmirë, opening the elf’s suede jerkin. “It is what Master Findecáno did when Legolas—my Legolas—swooned the other day. And he gave him some smelling salts. Do you have any smelling salts?” She hesitated briefly then, blushing deeply, she lifted the elf’s silken tunic and unlaced the waistband of his leggings.

“Smelling salts?”

“Yes.” Hentmirë quickly lowered the silver fabric. “Perhaps there is a healer with the elves. If you will watch over him, I can go and see...”

“No,” said Eowyn, “you stay here with Legolas—you seem to know what you are doing. I will find Berengar, and ask him to fetch an elven healer.”



Despite Haldir’s best efforts, it had been impossible to rouse a fully-armed dwarf and get him out of the guardhouse without making enough noise to wake Eowyn.


He raised a finger to his lips. “Arador is still sleeping,” he whispered.

She nodded. Then, stretching, and gathering her cloak around her, she rose and followed the elf out onto the wall-walk. “What is happening? Where is Legolas?”

“We saw a man trying to cross the river—it looks as though he may be a messenger from Minas Tirith—”

“From Aragorn.”


She smiled, suddenly. “With a message for my double!”

“If it is a message from Aragorn,” said Haldir, gently, “it is more likely to be for Faramir.”

“Because no one knows that poor Faramir is dead—” She looked up in alarm. “He will be heading for Caras Arnen!”

“Yes. But Legolas has gone to intercept him,” said Haldir, “and he ordered me to follow. I must go, Eowyn.” He bowed his head in a brief salute and turned to leave—

“No, wait!” She caught his wrist.

The elf stopped, staring down at the little hand restraining him.

“I will come with you,” she said.


Knowing that the drow could see better in the dark than in the light, Legolas ran down to the waterfront, bow in hand, keeping to the brightest, warmest parts of the embankment, scanning both sides of the river for any sign of the enemy.

The man was a good swimmer but the Anduin was in full flow and Legolas could see that he was already tiring. What is keeping Haldir? he wondered. Without someone to provide covering shots, it would be madness to enter the river...

He surveyed the area again—looking, listening, and reaching out with that elven sense that can feel imminent danger. Nothing.

And now the man was starting to drift.

Legolas slipped his bow into its strap and dived into the water.


“What did you want to say?” asked Haldir as they approached the city gate.


“Is that not why you came with me?” He stopped walking and turned to Eowyn, looking her directly in the eye. “Legolas is happy for me—he trusts me—but we both know better.”

“I do not know what you mean.” Eowyn ducked past him.

“I thought I was free of you,” said Haldir, raising his voice. “I thought that she... I thought that I had found my Eowyn. Then you came into her tent and everything—”

Please!” Eowyn rounded on him. “We have had this conversation too many times, Haldir.”

“I am fond of her,” said the elf. “And I will stay with her, if I can. I will grow to love her.”

“I hope you can,” said Eowyn, softly. “I really do. But be careful, Haldir.” She placed her hand upon her breast. “Be careful with your heart. She is too like m—”

But Eowyn never finished her warning, because the big elf suddenly gathered her into his arms and held her tightly.


As Legolas closed in on him, the man—who had been floundering—suddenly discovered an extra reserve of strength and, turning northwards (against the flow of water), tried to swim away.

“No,” cried the elf, following him. “No! Wait! I am here to help you! I am King Elessar’s friend!”

Whether the man heard him, Legolas could not tell but, suddenly, all his strength seemed to desert him and, although his arms were still moving, he began to drift once more, bobbing up and down, overwhelmed by the current.

It was easy, then, for Legolas to come up behind him and, grasping him beneath the arms, strike out for the shore.


By the time Legolas reached the bank, Haldir and Eowyn were there to lift the exhausted man out of the water and lay him on the stone wharf.

Legolas clambered up by himself and quickly scanned the surrounding buildings for any sign of the enemy. “You should not have come, melmenya,” he muttered. Then, “How is he?”

When neither Eowyn nor the March Warden replied, Legolas—fearing the worst—looked down at the man and, for the first time, had a clear view of his face.

“Sweet Eru!” he gasped. “It is Berkin!


Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“I do wish they would hurry,” said Hentmirë. The two women had covered the elf with a blanket and, at Hentmirë’s insistence, had folded a cloth and placed it beneath his head. “To keep it tilted, in case he vomits, I think,” she explained. She lifted Legolas’ hand and attempted again to check his pulse. “I am not sure that I am doing this right...”

Eowyn patted her shoulder. “You are taking very good care of him, Lady Hentmirë—thank you.”

“He is not my Legolas,” said Hentmirë, “but I do not want anything bad to happen to him.”

“Berengar should be back with help at any moment,” said Eowyn. “Yes, thank the gods; I can hear him coming!” She turned towards the tent door as an unfamiliar elf appeared at the opening. “Quickly, please—over here.”

The elven healer ducked inside and—without even pausing to greet her—went to work immediately, examining his patient from head to foot. Though her inclination was to stay at Legolas’ side, at least until the healer had given his diagnosis, Eowyn saw that Berengar—one step ahead of everyone else, as usual—had also brought Lord Fingolfin and Captain Golradir with him, and she knew that her responsibilities as commander-in-chief must come first.

She forced herself to rise and greet them. “Thank you for coming my Lord, Captain,” she said, inviting them to sit down. “You will be acting as Prince Legolas’ deputies, I presume.”

Fingolfin bowed his head in assent. “Captain Golradir will assume command of our warriors, should that prove necessary, and I will help you all I can—but I confess that I had another reason to accompany Master Findecáno—”

“You were right, my Lord,” called the healer, suddenly.

“What is it?” asked Eowyn, immediately returning to Legolas’ side.

“He has been poisoned, my Lady—”

Poisoned!” cried Hentmirë. Then, “So you cannot use the smelling salts?”

“Not for this, my Lady.”

“But he will be all right?”

Eowyn, equally—though not so visibly—worried, looked to the healer for an answer.

The elf patted Hentmirë’s hand reassuringly. “Healing sleep is all that he requires in this case, my Lady. That is how elven bodies recover.”

Eowyn let out a sigh of relief. “Can he be moved?”

“Of course,” said the healer. “I will arrange to have him carried up—”

“No,” said Eowyn, “he can stay here, of course. I meant that perhaps the Captain would help you lift him onto my bed.”

“But what has poisoned him?” persisted Hentmirë, as the elves carried Legolas into the bedchamber. “Was it something he ate?” She picked up the blanket and followed them. “Is anyone else likely to be poisoned?”

“No,” said the healer. “Thank you Captain.” He turned Legolas onto his side and carefully arranged his limbs. “Someone has been feeding Prince Legolas small amounts of poison over a long period of time, my Lady, and his body has grown accustomed to it. Now that he is no longer taking it, he has had a severe reaction to its withdrawal.”

“But who would do that?” asked Hentmirë, carefully draping her blanket over the sleeping elf.

Eowyn frowned—that was exactly what she had been wondering.

“It was a love potion,” said Lord Fingolfin (putting it tactfully, for the little woman’s sake).

His elf lady!” said Hentmirë. “I knew that she was not good enough for him.” She smoothed the blanket over Legolas’ chest.

“Alatáriël,” agreed Fingolfin, “but not, I think, on her own. I imagine it was her father’s plan.”

Eowyn drew the healer aside. “He will recover?”

“Oh, yes.”

“How long will he sleep?”

“It is hard to say, my Lady. A day or two; perhaps more—I have no way of knowing how long he had been taking the poison, nor in what amount,” said Findecáno.

“Thank you.”

Eowyn turned to Golradir. “You must assume command of the elven army, Captain. And,”—she addressed Fingolfin—“and I would be most grateful, my Lord, for your assistance in certain matters.”

“We are both at your service, my Lady,” replied the elf.



“P-princess Eowyn, is P-prince Faramir with you? I have b-bad news...” Teeth chattering, Berkin sat, bunched up, trying to rub some warmth into his upper arms. “Oh! I am sorry—I r-really must get up and g-get moving.”

“Your cloak, Haldir,” said Legolas, “thank you.” He draped it around the young man’s shoulders. “This should help.”

“Th-thank you, Prince Legolas.” The young man bowed his head respectfully.

The elf helped him to his feet. “Come, Berkin. We must find you some dry clothes. And then we can talk.”

“Yes... But—wait—h-how do you know my name, your Highness?”

“I will explain that when we are safe,” said Legolas. He led the young man through the city gate and gestured towards the steps leading up to the guardhouse. “Up there.”

Berkin stopped suddenly, and eyed him cautiously.

“You do not trust me,” said Legolas.

“I... I do not know how you can p-possibly know my name, unless...” He sighed. “But, s-since you are an elf, it does not matter whether I t-trust you or not—I have no ch-chance of escaping.” He began to climb. “And I d-do not think that Princess Eowyn would betray us...” He stepped up onto the wall-walk. “But where is Prince Faramir, your Highness?” he asked, “I m-must speak with him.”

Eowyn shook her head. “We have bad n—”

Berkin, lad!” cried Gimli running up to the boy and giving him a mighty bear hug. “My, you have filled out! There is muscle on you now!” He slapped the young man's back. “But you are soaking wet!”

“Lord G-gimli!” Berkin looked from the dwarf to Eowyn and Legolas, and back again. “W-what is going on? What are you d-doing here? And how do you all know me?”

“Come inside,” said Legolas. “Before you freeze to death.”


They found him some dry leggings and a tunic and, whilst Arador and Haldir stood guard outside, they sat down to talk.

“How we know you, I will explain later,” said Legolas, “for that is a long story. But as for why we are here... Three weeks ago, Caras Arnen was invaded and Prince Faramir was killed in the attack—”

“Oh gods!”

“Princess Eowyn led the survivors away from the city and took refuge in a natural stronghold, south of the hills, where she is now under siege. We have come to ask King Elessar for help.” He looked intently at the boy. “But I begin to think that something has befallen Aragorn, too—is that not the news you were carrying to Faramir?

“What has happened in Minas Tirith, Berkin?”


On the wall-walk

“She is beautiful,” said Arador, gazing out across the ruins, “really beautiful, like a princess—well, she is a princess, of course—I mean, like a princess in a tale.”

Haldir frowned. But he already knew the boy well enough to sense that he was not teasing.

“So it is easy,” Arador continued, “to see how things could happen that should not have happened.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know what I am talking about.”

Haldir said nothing for a moment. Then, “So you saw us. What do you want Arador?”

Want?” The boy turned to him in surprise. “You think that I...?” He shook his head, his expression deadly serious. “I am not the one who is going to wreck two other lives.”


“It started about two weeks ago,” said Berkin. “My father—”

“Your father is still alive!” exclaimed Gimli.

“Yes, of course... Oh! No, not my real father—I mean Lord Olivan, who adopted me. I call him my father, because—well, he is.”

“What of your uncle?” asked Legolas.

“My uncle? My uncle was a murderer and we do not speak of him.”

“That explains a lot,” said the elf. “But we interrupted you, Berkin. You were telling us what had happened.”

“Two weeks ago,” said Berkin, “the King suddenly dissolved the High Council and started using his Powers of Decree to introduce new laws. At the same time, he dismissed all the Captains of the Gondorian Guard and replaced them with men who—” The boy searched for the right word. “Well, my father calls them ‘scavengers’. No one is allowed to leave his home without a special permit—”

“Issued by these scavengers,” said Gimli.

“Exactly, my Lord. All public gatherings are banned—even the taverns are closed—and anyone who speaks out is immediately punished. Several of my father’s friends have been arrested and had their fortunes confiscated. Poorer citizens just—vanish... If anyone is caught out of doors without a permit or, even with a permit, is found outside after curfew, he is summarily executed—run through with a sword.”

“How did you get out?” asked Legolas.

“Well, I know certain ways, your Highness.”

“The tunnel network,” said Gimli.

“Yes. How do you know of that, my Lord?”

Gimli smiled. “Can you get us in the same way, lad?”

“I should think so...”

“And your contacts in the underworld,” said Legolas. “What do they make of all this?”

“They bide their time. But they complain that their livelihood is threatened,” said Berkin.

“Perhaps we can persuade them to help us,” said Gimli.

“If numbers prove necessary,” said Legolas.


“My uncle,” said Arador, “that pig who is claiming to be my father,” he gestured angrily in the vague direction of Emyn Arnen, “pestered my mother for years—telling her that he loved her, giving her gifts, turning up whenever my father was away. My mother is a kind, gentle woman and could not bear to hurt him, so she tolerated his—attentions—until my father began to believe that she was being unfaithful to him—with his brother.

“He threw her out of the house!

“She and I spent four nights hiding in the stables.”


“How did you cross The Pelennor without being seen by the Guards?” asked Legolas.

“I did not—not exactly,” said Berkin. He smiled—revealing, for the first time, that confident self-reliance that was so marked in his double. “There is an underground tunnel running northwards, following the line of Mount Mindolluin, that issues a few hundred yards beyond the Rammas Echor,” he explained. “My family owns a herd of horses, which we keep corralled just south of the Grey Wood. I set them free, knowing that they would head for the water, and rode amongst until I was close enough to Osgiliath to dismount and crawl the rest of the way. It was an expensive plan...”

“It is good,” said Gimli, “to see you so active, lad!”

Berkin frowned. “What do you mean, my Lord?”


“That,” said Arador, “is all I wanted to say.” He turned to leave.

Haldir caught his arm. “Do not say anything to her...”

“Do you think I would?” He shook off the elf’s hand. “She is not at fault—unless being too kind is counted a fault.”


“There is not much else to tell you,” said Berkin, “except that I fear for my father and mother’s safety.”

“So you came to ask Faramir for help,” said Legolas. “Does your father know what you are doing?”


“Anyone else?”

“Just Olemi—a servant.”

“You did not tell your mother?” asked a new voice, from just inside the doorway.

Berkin looked up at Arador. “She cannot keep a secret...” he said.

“The fewer people who know, the better,” said Legolas, “for them as well as for us. Come and join us, Arador.”

“But what has happened to Aragorn?” asked Eowyn, suddenly. “None of this can be his doing—they must have taken him prisoner.”

Legolas slipped his arm around her, and hugged her briefly. “We will find him, melmenya; we will free him and help him put things right.” He looked up at Berkin. “Have you seen the King recently?”

“No, your Highness. No one has seen him since all of this began. My father requested an audience—when such a thing still seemed possible—but he was refused. And no one has seen the Queen, or the royal children, either—”

“The children,” growled Gimli. “That is why Aragorn is doing their bidding. They have taken the children! The dogs!”

“What ‘dogs’, Lord Gimli? Who do you mean by ‘they’, my Lords? What is happening?

“I think,” said Legolas, “that it is time we told you everything, Berkin. And then, we will need a plan...”




Under cover of darkness—for Berkin’s tale had convinced Legolas that any immediate danger was from men, not drow—the small band of warriors approached the River Anduin, dragging behind them a large wooden object built from an assortment of barrels, planks and bits of furniture, all salvaged from the ruins of the eastern city and lashed together with cords.

At the water’s edge they paused whilst Haldir secured a length of fine elven rope to an arrow, and handed the arrow to Legolas, who nocked it and—taking unusual care in aiming at the far bank—loosed it.

“Good shot!” said Gimli.

“Do not forget the tethering rope,” said Arador, anxiously.

Haldir took a second length of rope and, after looping it over the first, tied both ends to a metal hasp driven into the centre of the wooden contraption.

Then he, Legolas and Gimli pushed the contraption off the wharf.

“It floats!” said the dwarf.

“Of course it floats,” said Arador, with obvious relief. “I told you—those barrels are full of air...”


Legolas dropped lightly onto the raft. “You first, Eowyn nín.”

Eowyn descended the stone stairs and, steadied by Haldir, stepped onto the bobbing wooden platform.

“Very good,” Legolas whispered, squeezing her arm. “Sit at the centre—Arador, you next.”

One by one the warriors took their places on the makeshift craft. Then Legolas and Haldir, standing fore and aft, seized the elven rope and, working together, hauled the raft across the turbulent waters, hand over hand.


Once ashore, Legolas and Eowyn crossed the wharf—“Keep low, melmenya,”—and, staying in the shadows, made their way through the ruined streets to where a breach in the western wall of the city provided clear views of the Rammas Echor and the white city beyond it (glowing faintly in the starlight), and, to the north, separated from the dark mass of Mount Mindolluin by the Stonewain Valley, the mysterious Grey Wood.

“Can you see them?” whispered Eowyn, peering through the gap.

“Yes...” Lifting his hands to his mouth, the elf whistled.

For a moment nothing happened. Then a faint sound, like distant thunder, brought a huge smile to Eowyn’s face. “You have done it,” she said, “the horses are coming!”


Haldir, Gimli, and the two boys, meanwhile, had dragged the raft out of the water.

Haldir seized his elven rope, gave it a swift jerk—the knots securing it to the arrow and to a mooring ring on the far bank immediately came loose—and he drew it in, coiling it over his forearm as it came.

“Neat trick,” said Arador.

It was a peace offering. “Fetch the arrow,” said Haldir, smiling in the darkness.

“Yes, sir,” replied the boy, cockily.

Berkin watched him go, a curious expression on his face. Then he said, “I do not think we should leave the raft here. It could take us a day to reach The Citadel, and we do not want to give them any warning.”

“He is right,” said Gimli. “Let us push it back into the river. It will soon be gone.”


They crossed the plain on horseback, galloping amongst the herd, sweeping along the Rammas Echor; then, wheeling in a great arc, they turned north west, and followed the dark cliffs of Mount Mindolluin until Legolas, spotting the feature that Berkin had described, brought the horses to a halt with a low whistle.

The warriors dismounted, ran into the rocks, and hid themselves in the shadows.

“Wait here, your Highness,” said Berkin. “I will be as quick as I can.” He disappeared into a deep natural crevice in the purplish cliff, and Legolas, listening intently, heard the faint screech of stone grating on stone, a muttered exchange, another screech, and then silence.

Minutes passed.

“Do you have a second plan,” asked Gimli, “if the lad’s friends will not play?”

“Yes,” said Legolas, seriously. “If we cannot use the tunnels, I will toss you over the wall.”

The dwarf growled.

Eowyn smiled nervously at Haldir. “You have been in these tunnels before...”

“Yes,” said the elf. “It is not unpleasant, though the air is a little stale.”

“What I said—before—”

“Do not apologise, Eowyn,” said Haldir, softly. “You were right to rebuke me.”

She smiled again, this time more confidently. “I shall miss you if you stay here,” she said, “but I do hope, with all my heart, that you can stay.”

She frowned—for he had suddenly turned his head in the direction of Berkin’s doorway—and she glanced at Legolas, and saw that he, too, was staring into the crevice.

A moment later, Berkin emerged from the shadows and joined them. “It is all arranged,” he whispered, “but I have had to lie about your purpose, so, please, all of you, keep your heads covered and, whatever happens, whoever may accost us, do not let them see your faces.”




Contents page


Previous chapter: The discovery
What exactly happened in the explosion? How can the elves survive in a brothel?

chapter 19

Next chapter: The truce
Can Wilawen use her new power? Or will she be forced to come to 'some arrangement'?

chapter 21

Emyn Arnen, Osgiliath and Minas Tirith.

chapter 21