legolas and aragorn

Legolas peered through the spy hole.

His view was restricted, but he immediately recognised the small reception room where, in his world, with the help of several secretaries, Aragorn conducted most of his day-to-day business—talks with foreign emissaries, meetings with his own counsellors, audiences with his people’s representatives.

Here, the room was empty.

Pressing his cheek to the stone, the elf peered at the entrance to the royal chambers.

“No guards,” he muttered.

“They’re inside,” whispered Redwald. “Two of them. You can see them when the door opens.”

“And you say that the King has not been out for two weeks?”

“At least two weeks. His new counsellor comes out here to give the men their orders.”

“Who is he, this new counsellor?”

The outlaw shrugged. “Some out-of-towner.”

“Is he human?”

“Oh yes. And he knows the local villains—he knew who to take on and who to avoid.”

“He avoided you,” said Legolas.

The man said nothing.

The elf shifted, turning his head to look in the opposite direction. “What?” whispered Redwald, when it seemed safe to speak.

“Someone just entered the royal apartments. Can we get any closer—can we see into the King’s bedchamber?”


“Can we get out? Into the Palace?”

“Yes—but I wouldn’t advise it in daylight.”

“Daylight will be our best chance,” said Legolas.

Emyn Arnen
The barricade

The mercenary leader swept off his wide-brimmed hat and, clasping it to his chest, bowed low. “My Lady,” he said, in accented Westron, “I hear that you have need of my services.”

He set the hat back on his shaven head, and regarded her with one fiery eye—the other being covered by a black eye-patch—and Eowyn had never been subjected to such open and insolent appraisal in all her life.

Sir,” she said, with a dignified bow, “thank you for agreeing to meet with me. This is Lord Fingolfin, my advisor. My headquarters are up in the hills.” And she gestured towards the gorge, saying, “After you, sir,” for she would not have allowed him to walk behind her for all the wine in Dorwinion.

Minas Tirith

Crouching in the darkness, Legolas found Eowyn’s hand, squeezed it, and felt her fingers press his own in response—

Then the door swung open, and the elf and his small band of warriors—including ten men hand-picked by Redwald—ran out into the Queen’s Garden and, keeping low, darted across the courtyard to the pretty archway in the northern wall. The door was locked, but Legolas could sense no one in the corridor beyond, so he signalled to two of Redwald’s men and, within seconds, they had pulled the pins from the hinges and pushed the door open.

Legolas stepped inside.

He was standing at the very heart of the Palace, in the corridor leading from the public rooms to the reception chamber that he and Redwald had earlier been observing. In his own world he had walked its length many times, meeting and greeting courtiers, stepping aside to permit functionaries to hurry past… But here, in the shadow world, the corridor was deserted. Reaching out with his elven senses, Legolas sought some sign of life—the discreet hubbub of palace business—and found nothing; the chambers were empty.


Legolas closed his eyes. Deep in the royal apartments, he sensed a presence—someone small, bewildered, and very, very frightened.

Oh, dear Valar!

And having found him, the elf quickly discovered the rest—Arwen and Eldarion, huddled with him; Aragorn, frantic, confined in a separate chamber—all of them surrounded by dark shadows.

He glanced at Eowyn, standing beside Gimli, her hand on her sword, awaiting orders.

Thank the Valar that she cannot sense him too, he thought.

Wilawen’s house

“Well, what are we going to do now?” whispered Arador.

Haldir, watching Wilawen rearrange her father’s cushions, and hand him his tea, came to a decision. “With your permission, sir,” he said to Geruil, “the boy and I will go back to your shop.”

The old man nodded, slowly. “You have my permission, of course,” he said. “But—”

“These men,” said Wilawen, “who threatened my father,”—for Geruil had lied to her about his reasons for abandoning the premises—“might they not come back?”

“That is precisely why we are going, Mistress,” said Haldir. “If they come again, we will be waiting for them. It is all we can do at present.” He turned back to Geruil. “I must get a message to Lord Olivan.”

“Wilawen will take it for you.”

“Of course I will,” said the woman. “What do you want me to say?”

“Tell him that his son has made contact with Prince Legolas and that they have gone up to The Citadel,” said Haldir. “Ask him to tell them—when they come to him—that we have found what we were looking for, and will defend it. And tell him where they can find the shop.”

“I will. I will write it all down.”

“Thank you, Mistress. And,” he continued, “if you should know of a pair of strong, reliable men who would be willing to wait in the shop with us…”

“Well,” said Geruil, scratching his chin—

“Ailbric, son of Alberic,” said Wilawen. “He is strong—a carter—and he has worked for my father before. He may have a friend. I could speak to him on my way up to Lord Olivan’s.”

“We are in your debt.” Haldir placed his hand on his heart and bowed his head. Wilawen blushed. The elf turned back to her father. “And the boy will search through your books, sir.”

“I pray that he will find the answer.”

“You are not the only one,” muttered Arador, under his breath.

Haldir set down his tea cup and rose to his feet. “Well. Thank you, sir, Mistress, for your help—come, Master Arador. Oh,”—he paused by the parlour door—“I believe that you owe Master Geruil some money, Arador.”

“Yes, I had forgotten!” The boy pulled out the onyx carving he had taken from the shop and held it up. “How much do you want for this, sir?”

“Have it, young master,” said Geruil, “with my compliments.”

Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

Sitting at the map table, opposite the drow—he with his lieutenant, her former prisoner, she with Lord Fingolfin and Captains Golradir, Alfgar and Drago—Eowyn decided that her attempts to question him, to sound him out and decide whether she dare trust him, were doomed to failure.

She leaned back in her chair.

Instantly, the drow mimicked her, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms across his chest.

Eowyn sighed inwardly. Time to change tactics. “Can I offer you some refreshment?”

The drow answered with a slow, suggestive smile—Eowyn felt Captain Alfgar bristle, and willed him to let it pass. “Thank you. I should like some of your surface brandy, if that is not too much trouble.”

Eowyn nodded to Berengar, then turned back to the drow. His smile, disconcertingly, was still frozen upon his face, but she ignored it. “I will not waste any more of your time,” she said, firmly. “You know our position—no doubt better than I do. We are out-manoeuvred and outnumbered. We need your assistance.”

“My fees are high.”

Then I will expect you to earn them.”

The smile vanished; and, for the first time, the drow seemed to take her seriously. “Do you have a plan?” he asked.

Yes,” said Eowyn.

Minas Tirith
The Palace

The warriors ran through the deserted reception chamber—each man already in position, with Legolas at the front, his bow raised. As they reached the doors to the royal apartments, Berkin slipped past, knocked loudly, then dropped back.

The doors opened, Legolas loosed two arrows, and both guards fell.

The band surged into the corridor following Eowyn and Gimli to the next set of doors, whilst Berkin and Legolas, with two of Redwald’s men, hung back, fashioning a barricade using furniture from the reception chamber.

“You know what to do?” asked the elf.

“Hold the doors,” said Berkin.

“We may need to leave in a hurry, with the King and his family.”

“I know.”

Legolas patted the boy’s shoulder, and sprinted off to join the others.

Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“Surviving the next attack is not enough,” said Eowyn unrolling her battle plan and spreading it out on the table. “To win the war, we must attack. We must inflict sufficient casualties to—”

Wipe them out,” said Drago.

“Thank you, Captain,” said Eowyn, tersely. “We must persuade them—”

“No. Your man is right,” said the mercenary. “Casualties mean nothing to them. Males are, by definition, expendable. And when they run out of drow, they will send in orcs, and goblins, and kobbolds.”

“Then how would you defeat them?” asked Lord Fingolfin.

“I would strike at the heart,” said the drow.

“The heart?” Eowyn frowned. “You mean their Queen?”

“Queen?” The drow’s infuriating smile broadened. “She would like that.”

Eowyn continued. “Our plan,” she said, “is quite simple. You get your men into key positions,”—she pointed to various places on the sketch map that Golradir had drawn for her—“and then we both attack, simultaneously, in daylight.”

The mercenary looked at the sketch. “They are more spread out than this,” he said. “There are other camps—over here.” He waved his hand to side of the parchment.

“We know that,” said Golradir. “We will need as much information about those as you can give us.”

“It will cost you.” The drow leaned back, looking Eowyn up and down. “It will cost one hundred thousand gold,” he said, “and a night with you.”

Eowyn threw out an arm to restrain Captain Alfgar. “He is joking,” she cried, over the bubbling anger of her male companions. “Are you not?”

The drow smiled.

“We will pay you fifty thousand in advance,” she said, “and the rest—of the money—after the battle.”

Minas Tirith
The Palace

Gimli was waiting at the next doorway and, as Legolas approached, with an arrow already nocked, he swung his axe, dealing a series of mighty blows that split the wood and pushed the leaves inwards.

Inside the chamber—the Queen’s sitting room—dark warriors, taken by surprise, overturned the furniture in their haste to defend themselves.

Legolas loosed a handful of arrows into the moving shadows and was gratified to hear their points pierce flesh and bone. “Now!” he cried, and his warriors crashed through the doorway, and took on the survivors, hand-to-hand.

From the far end of the dimly-lit corridor, Berkin watched Gimli demolish the doors and Legolas shoot into the darkness beyond, wondering, Why is it so dark?

“Stay here,” he said, slipping through the barricade and, back in the reception chamber, scanning the remaining furnishings for something he could use.

In the corners of the room there were free standing candle holders—five feet high, cast in bronze, with heavy, circular bases. Berkin seized the nearest. Perfect!

He carried it back into the corridor.

“Fetch the others, and see if you can light them,” he said, discarding the candle from his own.

Then, grasping the metal shaft in both hands, he set off down the passageway, smashing the enchanted glass from the windows, and letting the daylight back in.

Geruil’s shop

Haldir closed the door, and he and Arador stood with their backs to it, staring at the blank wall opposite.

“It is hard to believe,” said the boy.


“Do you think it is active?” Stretching out a hand, he slowly walked forward—until his fingers touched solid stone. “No…”

Haldir pulled off his velvet cap. “You had better start looking through the books,” he said.

“You do know that that is a crazy idea?” said Arador. “It is like looking for a needle in a haystack when you do not even know there is a haystack—”

“Yes,” said Haldir, “but I have great faith in you, Master Arador.”

“What will you be doing?”

“Arranging a few surprises for our guests.”

Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s tent

“Why wait two days?” asked the mercenary.

“Because that is the plan,” said Eowyn, firmly.

Ah…” The drow smiled. “You are expecting reinforcements. From where?” He looked around the table, searching for the weakest link. “Gondor? Hm? Rohan? Or is it from the elves of East Lorien?” His fiery eye settled on Eowyn. “You will not tell me? Your ally?”

“You are not our ally,” said Eowyn. “We are paying for your services.”

“You wound me.”

“We are under no illusions,” said Eowyn. “You fight for the highest bidder. And you will not know which side pays most until the battle begins.”

“Very astute.”

“Our plan allows for that. But if you do fight for us, you will make the difference, and that is why it is worth hiring you.”

Minas Tirith
The Palace

“Gimli! Arwen and the children!” cried Legolas—for his elven senses were telling him that the drow in the Queen’s bedchamber had grown nervous—and the dwarf hurled himself at the chamber door, ripping it from its hinges, and plunged inside.

He was immediately hit by a hail of tiny crossbow quarrels, but his gauntleted hand was already raised to protect his face, and the poisoned points glanced off his helm and caught harmlessly in his thick dwarven mail.

Roaring, he charged his attackers.

“Stay back, melmenya,” cried Legolas, and ran in after his friend.

There were five drow inside the chamber, two of them females—and one of them appeared to be casting a spell, but Gimli barged through the males surrounding her and put a stop to her incantation with a single swing of his axe.

The other female had seized Arwen—huddled on the bed with the children—and was holding a blade to her throat. Legolas shot two arrows into her skull, and the knife fell from her dead hand as she toppled forwards over her prisoner.

One of the children howled in terror.

But Arwen had already freed herself and was gathering them into her arms.

Legolas drew his white knives and turned to help Gimli finish off the males.

Watching anxiously from outside the door, as Legolas had ordered, Eowyn could see Arwen struggling to calm the two terrified children. “Come,” she cried, darting past the fight, “bring them in here.” She opened the door to the Queen’s closet. “Stay inside until I come back for you.”


“Yes—come—see if you can find some way to block the door from the inside.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I will explain later.”

Arwen had gathered up one of the boys, but the other was still hiding amongst the bedclothes, too frightened to move.

“Get Eldarion into the closet,” said Eowyn, “I will bring him.” She slipped her arms around the smaller boy and—awkwardly, because she had had no experience of children—she lifted him up and, for the first time, saw him properly.

His little face was round, and dirty, and tear-stained but, with his pale, silken hair, his huge blue eyes and his sweet button nose, he was the image of his father. Eowyn’s heart lurched.

And the elfling, wrapping his arms around her neck and hiding his face in her hair, whispered, “Other Nana.”

Holding his candlestick like an axe, as Gimli had taught him, Berkin followed the warriors into the Queen’s sitting room. To his right, through an open door, he could see the elf and the dwarf, fighting. To his left, Redwald’s men—those who had not fallen—were battling a pack of drow that had emerged from another chamber; directly ahead, there were more darkened windows to deal with.

Berkin took a step forward—

Something grasped his ankle, and pulled—

The young man kicked himself free, stamped down hard, swung the candlestick—once, twice, again, and again—and killed another being for the first time in his life.

Geruil’s shop

Arador dumped a pile of carefully selected books on the counter, and looked across at Haldir.

The elf had found a handful of wooden chairs and a couple of stools, had broken off the legs, and was using a hunting knife to turn them into stakes.

“What are you going to do with those?”

“Mount them on a beam—”

“I found a weapons chest,” the boy interrupted. “in one of the other rooms. There are swords in it.”

“We do not have anyone to wield a sword, Master Arador.”

“No—at least, not yet. But you could mount the swords on your beam.”

Haldir looked up from his carving.

“Did I just prove my worth again?”

The elf smiled. “Show me this weapons chest.”

“I will, but—there is something else.” The boy was suddenly very serious. “Something I… Well, I am not sure that it will work even if we dare try it, but if it did work…”


Arador pulled the piece of black onyx from his pocket.

Emyn Arnen
The barricade

“Two days, then?” said the mercenary.

“Two days,” agreed Eowyn. “You will attack on our signal. In the meantime, we will leave the first instalment of gold at Gynd Thûn, as you requested.” She held out her hand.

The drow took it and—instead of shaking it, as she had intended—raised it to his lips. “I had heard,” he said, “that human women had no understanding of warfare, but you, my Lady—”

“Human women, sir, can do whatever they are required to do,” said Eowyn, withdrawing her hand.

The drow smiled. Then, pulling off his hat, and sweeping his arm in a wide arc that encompassed Eowyn, Lord Fingolfin, and all three captains, he bowed. “Until we meet again…”

He nodded to his silent lieutenant and the pair sprang over the barricade, ran across the plateau, and disappeared into the forest.

“And that is the last you will ever see of him,” muttered Captain Alfgar. “If you are lucky.”

Minas Tirith
The Palace

Eowyn shut the closet door, and turned, just as Legolas dispatched the last drow, and their eyes met, and she knew that he had sensed the turmoil inside her, and had understood what had caused it, and she ran to him—

But the battle was not yet over—a sudden cry in the Queen’s sitting room startled both of them, and they dashed into the chamber to find Aragorn, sword in hand, in full battle rage, fighting his way to his wife’s bedchamber.

“Arwen and the children are safe,” cried the elf.

Legolas?” The King, dodging a close cut, and striking back, smiled.

The room was flooded with midday sunlight, giving the surface dwellers a natural advantage, and the drow, fighting blindly, were soon surrounded. It seemed that it was over—until three of the dark warriors, led by a female, broke free and fled.

“Stop them,” cried Aragorn. “She is their leader.”

The men holding the barricade advanced, with swords and lighted candles, but the female veered left, sprang, and disappeared through one of the shattered windows, with her warrior escort behind her.

Aragorn, close on their heels, ran at the window, and vaulted over the sill.

“Eowyn, Gimli—stay with the Queen,” cried Legolas, and followed.

They ran across the empty courtyard, skirting the White Tower of Ecthelion, and emerged in the Place of the Fountain just as the drow were entering the tunnel.

“They move fast,” muttered Aragorn, “and they leave no trail.”

There were no guards beside the White Tree, nor any at the tunnel mouth. The lamps inside the passageway had all been extinguished.

“Let me go first,” whispered Legolas, pulling his bow from its strap and nocking an arrow.

Aragorn nodded.

Cautiously, the pair pressed forward, Legolas scanning the darkness for any sign of an ambush. But all his senses told him that the warriors were still moving. “They are pulling away from us,” he whispered.

“They are in their element down here,” said Aragorn. “We must move faster.”

So Legolas grasped his friend’s arm and led him, at the run, down the curving passage until, at last, they saw the daylight ahead, and sprinted towards it. At the tunnel mouth they found grim evidence of the drow’s passage—four members of the city patrol, shot with tiny crossbow bolts, and finished off with knives.

Aragorn crouched beside one of the bodies, and closed the dead man’s eyes. “This is not one of my guards…”

“No,” said Legolas, “anyone loyal to you has been replaced. They have rewritten the laws by royal decree, and hired thieves and murderers to terrorise your citizens.”

Aragorn examined the paving stones. “Horses,” he said. “They have taken the horses.”

“Then we will never catch them on foot,” said the elf, looking down the curving rath. “We must go back to the stables—”

“There are other ways down,” said Aragorn. “If we are quick, we can cut them off at the next level. Come.” And he led the way—through an arch, down a narrow alley, over a wall, through a garden, under a washing line, through a gate, into a kitchen—

The cook turned, frying pan in hand, but froze, and dropped a flustered curtsey.

Acknowledging her with a hasty salute, Aragorn ran on—through the servants’ quarters, into the great Entrance Hall, out through the front doors, and into Rath Bein.

Too late! The drow had already thundered past, leaving chaos in their wake.

“Come on!” cried the King. Down another alley they ran, vaulting two more walls, ducking through another gate, emerging in Rath Amrûn. Aragorn stood in the centre of the street, staring down its empty length. There was no sign of their quarry.

“They have an affinity with stone,” said Legolas, “they must have found a way through. But I think I know where they are going—down to Rath Luin.”

Aragorn slapped his shoulder. “Come on, then.”

Off they ran again, down more alleys, over more walls, round more gardens, through more gates. And, as they passed, more and more people recognised their King, and his friend, Prince Legolas, hero of the Ring War; they remembered the rumours that Elessar knew nothing of the new laws, and would personally set things right when he heard of them, and they began to follow him. Soon, the pair had a band of warriors at their backs—brave, stout fellows, though armed with nothing but the tools of their trades.

Legolas caught one of the men by the shoulder. “A curio shop,” he said, “that sells things from other lands—books and maps, crystals and strange weapons—somewhere near here. Do you know it?”

“There’s a shop on the next rath that sells books…”

“No, no,” said the man’s companion, “he means somewhere like old Geruil’s.”

Geruil. Legolas frowned—he had heard that name before, though he could not remember where. “Yes,” he said, “take us to Geruil’s.”

Geruil’s shop

Haldir stared at the black onyx cat. “It may, of course,” he said, “be nothing more than a piece of carved stone.”

“I know,” said Arador. “Geruil thought so—he let me have it for nothing.”

“Do you remember the beast’s name?”

“Yes. At least, I think I do.”

The elf drew his sword. “Try it.”

Arador lifted the stone cat from the counter, and set it down on the floor. “Gwen…” he began. “No, Gu-en…” He cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “Guenhwyvar,” he said.

Nothing happened.

“Try again,” said Haldir. “But, this time, make it a summons.”

Guenhwyvar,” said Arador.

Emyn Arnen
Eowyn’s Tent

Eowyn pulled back the silken curtain and looked into her bedchamber.

Legolas was still lying on her bed, his eyes closed in healing sleep. Hentmirë was still sitting beside him, but now she was making bandages—carefully shredding fabric into strips, forming the strips into rolls, and packing the rolls into a basket.

Eowyn smiled. “I was just about to have a glass of brandy, Lady Hentmirë. Would you care to join me?”

“That would be very nice,” said the little woman. “But just a small one.” She set down her work and, leaning over her patient, she checked his breathing and his pulse. “He does not seem to be sleeping quite so deeply now—thank you,” she said, taking the glass from Eowyn, “I think he may wake up quite soon.”

Eowyn sat down beside her. “I do hope so.” She took a sip of the warming spirits. “It would be a relief to have someone more experienced take over command.”

“You are doing very well,” said Hentmirë. “Your plan sounded like a good one to me, and even Legolas could not have handled that dark elf any better than—oh…” She clapped her hand to her mouth, blushing deeply. “I am sorry—I could not help overhearing.”

Eowyn smiled. “Of course you could not.” She patted the other woman’s arm. “Thank you. I do know that I can do it. I just… I miss Faramir, that is all, and…”

It was such a relief to have someone to talk to, and Hentmirë was a good listener; and soon, without realising quite what she was doing, Eowyn had told her everything.

“You have not seen the baby since he was born?”

Eowyn shook her head.

“I am so sorry.” Hentmirë bit her lip. “I know that it is none of my business,” she said, slowly, “and I know that he is not my Legolas, but... I am sure that he would be a good father. Would it not be best to tell him that he has a son? It might even be the making of him.”

Neither woman noticed that the elf’s eyes had opened.




Contents page


Previous chapter: The escape
How badly is Valandil injured? Will Wilawen succeed in rescuing him and the other elves?

chapter 23

Next chapter: Flight
The elves escape from the brothel. Will Pharaun keep his word?

chapter 25