Valandil inspected the fire trench one last time.
We must not burn ourselves to death, he thought,
sprinkling the spirits, which Camthalion had found amongst the
murdered humans, over the kindling, then touching his torch to
the alcohol-soaked twigs.
The wood caught quickly, and an angry sheet of flame was soon
rushing up the stone wall.
Valandil took his place in the line of archers, immediately in
front of Wilawen and the child. Come soon, whoever you are,
he thought. Come whilst my warriors are still fresh
Come before the flames die down.
Half past ten
Legolas smiled affectionately
at Hentmirë. I cannot ask you to
You are not asking, Legolas, said the
little woman, firmly, I am telling: Gimli and I will
not let you go alone. She turned to the still slightly dazed
dwarf for confirmation. Will we, Gimli?
The dwarf shook his head.
Can you swim? asked Legolas.
Like a fish, replied Hentmirë. Well, really
more like a cork, but I will manage.
No. No, it is too dangerous, gwendithen.
Only if you think about it, said Hentmirë, firmly.
But I have found that if you do not think, and just do
a thing, the danger seems to disappear.
Legolas smiled. And you will follow me, anyway.
We both will, said Gimli. He knocked back the remainder
of his ale and slammed his tankard down with a flourish.
The elf conceded defeat. I want to be at The Aelvorn by
dawn, he said, which means we will leave here before
three. We cannot take much with usand nothing that will
weigh us downGimli, I think you must leave your armour behind
But, surely, said Hentmirë, we need to
sink to the bottom?
What makes you say that, gwendithen?
The djinn said that Eowyn was beyond the water
that not mean past the bottom?
I have no idea, gwendithen. I will simply jump in and hope
that whatever currents swept her away will take me in the same
Lord Fingolfins chambers
I do apologise, my lord, said Legolas, for
disturbing you at this hour.
Fingolfin waved the apology aside. I was not resting,
he said. Berryn and I are searching for information about
I thought you would be.
Fingolfins chamberslittle more than an enormous studywere
normally kept very tidy but, tonight, they looked as though a
whirlwind had ripped through them, knocking books and papers from
the shelves and throwing them into a rough circle on the floor.
Legolas nodded to the young man sitting at the centre of the chaos.
I am so sorry, my lord, said Berryn. If I had
taken better care of Lady Eowyn
Legolas held up his hand. You carry no blame, Berryn,
he said. I know that Eowyn persuaded you to take her there,
and I am sure that whatever happened to her,he smiled
sadlywill have been the result of her own curiosity.
He gestured towards the papers. I plan to enter The Aelvorn
in a few hours. Have you found out anything that might assist
Fingolfin and Berryn exchanged glances. We have, my lord,
said the man. But we do not know whether we can believe
So you are saying that the crack definitely exists?
Yes, my lord. Berryn spread out one of his maps.
It starts here, just north of Emyn Arnen, and runs along
here as series of caves. It virtually disappears here
He traced his finger south west, in a great curve. But then
it slices through the Divor Rocks, runs along the edge of the
Doro Lanthron hills, disappears again until it crosses The Aelvorn,
and ends about here. He pointed to an area some fifty miles
to the south.
And are all of those places associated with the
We do not know, said Fingolfin. The people
of the various regions have different attitudessome faithfully
record such stories, others dismiss them as mere superstition.
How do I pass through? asked Legolas. Assuming
that the stories are at least partially true, what do I have to
do to cross from this Middle-earth to the other?
In every account I have read, said Fingolfin, the
protagonist has fallen into the water by accident.
Legolas sighed. Then that is what I must do
21st day of Cerveth
One oclock in the morning
At first, Valandil thought he was seeing smokeone thin
column of black smoke rising behind the wall of fire, and then
another, and another, and then too many to count. And, quickly,
each column broadened, and grew arms and legs, and a shock of
white hair, and, worst of all, a pair of fire-coal red eyes
Shoot! cried Valandil.
His archers responded, but the volley passed harmlessly through
the wraiths, who were still too insubstantial to feel its sting.
Hold! shouted Valandil, raising his hand and waiting
until the creatures seemed more solid, then, SHOOT! SHOOT
NOW! SHOOT AT WILL!
Some of the invaders, shocked by the fire and by the rain of
arrows, immediately slipped back into the rockthough one
failed, screaming piteously when his head and arm remained trapped
outside; Valandil loosed an arrow, and put him out of his misery.
Others howled, and writhed in agony, caught in the denser patches
of flame; they were easy targets.
But manytoo manypassed through the fire unharmed
and advanced on the elves in a solid line, simultaneously raising
their small hand-crossbows.
We cannot pierce their armour, cried Camthalion.
Aim for the head and the hands! shouted Valandil,
and another volley of elven arrows whistled across the divide,
dropping three of the invading warriors, and slowing the rest.
Again! cried Valandil.
But the enemy had suddenly been enveloped in a strange cloud
of darkness, and only the click of mechanical triggers warned
the elves that their foes had shot their poisoned darts.
Agh! Camthalion pulled a quarrel from his shoulder
and threw it to the ground. Numb
and slumped to his knees.
To the right and the left, Valandil saw other warriors fall.
Stop those crossbows, he roared. And his elves shot
blindly into the dark.
Camthalion is alive, cried Wilawen. It is a
drug, not a poison!
Of course, thought the elf, they like to use swords
for the kill. Keep them back! he ordered. Send
them back into the flames!
His archers shot faster, falling into a rapid rhythm that seemed
to be holding the unseen invaders at bay and, here and there,
holes appeared in the unnatural darkness.
But on the right flank, where the elves had taken most casualties,
one dark warrior suddenly seized command, calling out ordersor
threatsin a strange, guttural language, and several soldiers
emerged from the cloud, swords drawn, and charged the elven line.
Do not let them lure you away, shouted Valandil,
stay in positionprotect the civilians!
The elven line drew back, forcing the invaders to come to them,
andthough the elves lacked their enemies extraordinary
armourtheir superior size seemed to be carrying the sword
fight. Meanwhile, elven archers to the left and centre were opening
up more and more holes in the strange darkness.
Valandil started to feel confident
Then a wail of terror pierced the air behind him, and the child
broke free and ran, screaming, towards the enemy, and Wilawenhis
astonishing Wilawenducked beneath his arm, and followed
No, meleth nín, he cried, no!
Something thudded against his chest. And, suddenly, his arms
and legs would no longer obey him andas his head droopedhe
noticed a tiny crossbow bolt embedded in his jerkin.
It can only be a scratch
He sank to the ground.
And through rapidly clouding eyes he sawas if in dumb-showone
of the warriors raise his sword to strike Wilawenanother
rush forward, knock his comrade away, and help her to her feetand
then another push her protector aside and drag her, by the hair,
into the last shred of darkness
Haldir could smell burning.
He reined in his horse and fell back to where the Captain of
the Night Watch was hurrying the cart drivers along the bumpy
trail. How many men can you spare me? he asked.
Leave me fiveand I will need a guide.
Haldir placed his hand on his heart and bowed his head. Thank
you. Rumil will stay with you. Good luck, Captain.
Moments later the March Warden was galloping down the trail towards
Eryn Laeg, followed by Orophin, ten Night Watchmen, and the Reeves
son, bringing up the rear on his feisty little pony.
Half past two
One last thing, my lords, said Legolas, pausing with
his hand on Arods back. Eowyn and I promised Haldir
that we would watch over Cyllien whilst he was away
Leave it with me, my lord, said Caranthir.
I do not believe I have ever told youeither of you,
said Legolas, turning back to his counsellors, how much
I value your friendship and rely on your advicethe entire
colony relies on you. He held out his hand to Fingolfin,
human-fashion. If I should not return
Of course you will return, said Caranthir.
I will certainly do my utmost, said Legolas. But
should it not prove possible, my Lords, I will at least know that
the future of Eryn Carantaur is safe. He shook Caranthirs
hand. Oh he smiled, drawing a sealed parchment
from inside his jerkin, one final thing! This is
for my father; it explains what I am doing. If you would
It will go by messenger immediately, my Lord, said
Caranthir. Take care; and bring her back to us.
I shall do my best, my Lord. Legolas swung himself
up onto Arods back. Ready? he asked.
Gimli, already mounted behind him, grunted; Hentmirë, on
her stout little pony, nodded; and Berryn, on one of Caranthirs
mares, replied, Yes, my Lord.
Then let us go. And, with a final salute to Lord
Fingolfin and Lord Caranthir, Legolas led his three companions
out of the city.
Haldir stared at the elves lying at the centre of the stone alcove.
Valandil? Camthalion? Dead?
No! Dínendal quickly assured him, no,
just drugged. We have no fatalities, a few sword wounds, but they
Thank the Valar!
I have no idea how long Valandil will sleep, said
the healer, and he does not know
The boy says it lasts twelve hours.
Twelve hours on me, called Arador, it
may be different for an elf. He was kneeling beside one
of the fallen enemy. Come and look, sir!
Haldir shot Dínendal an exasperated glance. How
many of them did we kill? he asked, joining the boy.
Seven, said Dínendal, if you count
the one caught in the stonebut they have taken
Just look, cried Arador, pulling back the
cloak covering the creatures head.
Haldir looked, expecting to see a monster. But the face was extraordinarily
handsome, with delicate, angular features, ebony-black skin and
sharply pointed ears. Valar, he said, he is
Of a sort, agreed the boy. A dark elf. They
call themselves drow, apparently. He replaced
the cloak. Their women are said to be even more beautiful,
and much deadlier than the men. They kill their own husbandslike
Haldir suddenly scanned the stone alcove. Dínendal,
he said, where is Wilawen?
Half past five
Legolas stared at the circle of black water, shining like a mirror,
with its strange stone lip and its empty grass verge. It
is as though the Forest is afraid to get too close to it...
He dropped from Arod and walked to the edge of the rocky funnel.
Where was she standing when you last saw her? he asked.
About where you are, my lord, said Berryn, dismounting.
Legolas crouched and lightly brushed his hand over the grass.
My back was turned, said Berryn. So she may
have gone closer without my knowingshe may have gone onto
the rock itself.
The elf stepped over the lip and into the funnel.
Do be careful, my dear, said Hentmirë coming
up behind him, it does not look safe.
Despite the gravity of the situation, Legolas chuckled. We
are here to throw ourselves into the water, gwendithen,
he said, over his shoulder. So I do not think I need to
His expression suddenly changed as the stones shifted beneath
him and, instinctively, he threw up both arms to maintain his
And Hentmirë, just as instinctively, lunged for him, losing
her own footing and tumbling both of them down the rocky slope
and into the waiting waters...
He could have sworn that the lake, like a living thing, had reached
up to catch his two friends, and thatalthough they had
broken its surface without a soundthe inky splash, like
a great hand, had then seized the helpless Berryn, and
dragged him down after them.
The dwarf blinked again.
All three. Taken.
With a furious roar he threw himself from Arods back, drew
his axe, and charged down the stone funnel, launching himself
into the black pit.
The water was thick, and so silent that Gimli could hear his
He felt the lake twitch around him, then heave and heave again,
as though trying to cough him from its throat.
But the dwarf was having none of that.
Stunning the gullet with a swing of his axe, he rolled onto his
belly and stretched himself full length, kicking his powerful
legs to propel himself downwards. Faster and faster he went, following
his outstretched axe, deeper and deeper, shuddering when a corpse-like
faceLegolas!briefly loomed before him as he
shot towards a pale saucer of light.
He closed his eyes.
And suddenly he was no longer under water but crawling upon dry
land, coughing and spluttering, and gasping for air.