haldir and arador

The blackness—a cold, thick, emptiness darker than anything she had ever experienced—enveloped Wilawen, filling her with a terror that threatened her sanity.

The creatures around her were making no sound, moving in complete silence, and only the occasional glimpse of fire-bright eyes or the rough touch of an armoured hand contradicted her feeling of total isolation as she shuffled forwards.

And every step was taking her further from Valandil.

She knew that he had been hit by a crossbow bolt—she had seen him lose consciousness—and she knew that entering the rock had required some sort of magical transformation that had temporarily distorted her body.

But neither of those obstacles changed the truth: He will come for me, she thought—

The creature behind her gave an her impatient push, and Wilawen stumbled against the creature in front.

The thing spun round—its red eyes flaring—and its unseen fist connected with her jaw. Wilawen cried out in surprise, raising her hand to her face, as another punch crashed into the side of her head, knocking her to her knees.

She cowered, awaiting the fatal blow.

But it never came.

Instead, she felt the air around her stir as a third creature seemed to rush to her side and stand over her. There was a whispered exchange of angry-sounding words. Then silence. And then a female voice began to chant.

More magic?

Wilawen raised her eyes, wiping away tears and sweat with the back of her hand. A faint glow was appearing, just above her head. She watched it spread upwards, in a long, slender cylinder, then gradually grow brighter.

A torch?

In its steady light, Wilawen could now see her immediate surroundings—a craggy wall close to her right elbow, an uneven floor beneath her knees, two creatures standing over her. One—a male—bent down and grasped her arm and, with surprising gentleness, helped her to her feet. Then, with a few quiet words, he took the torch—a single, pointed crystal glowing with a soft, blue fire—from his female companion and handed it to Wilawen and, giving her a gentle push, indicated that she should continue walking.

Wilawen gasped.

Purple, the child had said, back in the clearing. Purple, over and over. Purple. Purple. And Wilawen had not known what it meant.

Not until she looked into the face of her protector, and saw his purple eyes.


With the help of the elves, the men of the Newhome Night Watch were gradually recovering the bodies of the dead, and laying them on the carts.

Haldir crouched beside Dínendal. “How is Valandil?”

They had moved the wounded to the comparative safety of the road, improvising a ‘healing room’ along its grassy verge. Dínendal laid his patient’s hand back on his chest. “His pulse has returned to its normal rate. I think he will awaken quite soon.”

“Good. We cannot wait much longer.”

There was no question in Haldir’s mind that they were going after Wilawen, and he had already decided that the rescue party should be small—just himself, Rumil and Orophin, Valandil, Dínendal, and...

He spoke quietly. “Is the boy fit to come underground with us?”


“His voice. That groan. Is it a sign of illness?”

Dínendal shook his head. “I believe it is his age—what happens to a human voice during the transformation into manhood—Men call it ‘breaking’.” He glanced at the boy. “He seems perfectly healthy to me. Do you want me to examine him?”

“No—try to waken Valandil.”


With the crystal to light her way—however faintly—Wilawen could now move without stumbling or falling over her captors, and they—she was painfully aware—had increased the pace accordingly.

How will Valandil find me now?

With her free hand she grasped one of the buttons on the front of her dress, and pulled hard. The mother-of-pearl disc came away easily. Thank the gods for fine elven thread!

She lowered her hand and, holding her breath, opened her fingers.


Haldir made his way between the stretcher bearers to where the Reeve’s son was crouching, searching through his travelling pack.

“Are you still willing to accompany us into the Divor Rocks?”

The boy looked up. “Of course I am. And you need me—I know how to get in. That is what I want to show you.” He pulled out a creased and dirty parchment, carefully unfolded it and laid it on a boulder. “Look at this.”

The image, though unfamiliar to the elf, was obviously a map.

“Look at the runes,” said Arador, “they are the same as on the piece of blade you found. This was made by them.”

“Where did you get it?”

“I know someone who knows someone,” replied the boy, airily. Then he pointed to a narrow ribbon of colour running around the edge of the sheet. “The green is the surface. And I know that this is Emyn Arnen, so this must be the Divor Rocks.”

Haldir shook his head. “How can you be so sure?”

The boy pointed to a circular symbol. “If this is the City on the Hills, then this triangular area is exactly where the gorge on the southern edge of Emyn Arnen should be. See how it curves to the west and then forks? The real gorge does that—I have paced it out. This distance,”—he measured the space between the city and the supposed gorge with his finger and thumb, “is twenty miles. And five times that... Brings you to the Divor Rocks, here.”

Haldir looked unconvinced.

“These purple and blue lines,” the boy persisted, pointing to the maze-like pattern covering the centre of the sheet, “are underground tunnels—but I will not know until we get there which colour is the space and which is the rock—the tunnels do not seem to join up...”

Haldir sighed. “Where do you think we are now?”

“Here.” Arador pointed to the left-hand edge of the map. “And these indentations, here, are the Divor Caves—see how this one is coloured purple? If purple does mean tunnel, this is the way in.”


Wilawen’s fingers travelled slowly down the front of her dress.


She would risk ten—every other one. More than that would be too obvious.

She pulled off a second button and hid it in the palm of her hand, waiting for the next fork in the tunnel.


“March Warden!” cried Master Dínendal.

Haldir finished helping the Captain of the Night Watch lay what had once been the Mayor of Newhome on one of the carts, then jumped down and joined the healer beside a still-drowsy Valandil.

“His pulse is normal, his breathing strong, his eyes clear,” said Dínendal.

“How do you feel?” asked Haldir.

“I...” Valandil looked up and down the road. “What happened?”

“You were hit by a drugged—”


Haldir caught him by the shoulders. “They have taken her. But we are going to follow them and we are going to get her back—Valandil?” He shook the confused elf. “We are going to get her back!


The rock wall, which, all this time, had been close to Wilawen’s elbow, suddenly disappeared. Without drawing attention to herself, the woman raised her eyes—and saw that the roof was no longer visible in the light of her crystal torch.

The tunnel, she realised, had opened up into a cavern. And her captors seemed to be taking a very precise route across its uneven floor. She let the tip of the crystal droop. They were crossing a narrow rock bridge. Over what? she wondered. A chasm? A lake? How far is the drop?

She tore off her last button and held it in the tips of her fingers. The tunnels had been branching frequently over the last hour or so, and she would soon need some other way of leaving a trail.

She let her hand sink to her side—

And a fist ploughed deep into her lower back.

Wilawen’s knees instantly buckled and she cried out in terror as a foot connected with her shoulder and sent her flying, forwards into the blackness—


“Master Arador tells me he is going with you,” said the Captain of the Night Watch.

“That puts you in a difficult position, I know,” replied Haldir.

The man shrugged his shoulders. “He is the Reeve’s son, so I must do as he bids—and I am officially under your command. If you are willing to take him with you...” He shrugged again. “What I came to say is: I can spare you ten men if you want them...”


Something caught Wilawen’s ankle and held her fast.

Then another pair of hands grasped her waist and dragged back onto the narrow bridge—and she felt the jagged rock scrape her legs and tear through her dress—and then she lay on her back, panting, gazing up into the halo of blue light—Gods, I am still holding the crystal!

She watched the silhouettes of three of the creatures dance above her, their hands flashing back and forth in some sort of...

Speech, she thought, hazily. They are speaking with their hands, like the tongueless beggar outside my father’s shop.

Oh, my father...

Tears spilled from her eyes and she could no longer hold back the sobs. But one of the creatures immediately dropped to its knees and clamped a hand over her mouth.

Purple Eyes!

She stared up at him, silently begging him to help her, and caught—she hoped—the briefest flicker of sympathy on his handsome face before he hoisted her onto his shoulder and carried her over the bridge.


Having bade farewell to the Captain of the Night Watch, Haldir commandeered as many water skins, pieces of Lembas, and additional weapons as the rest of his troops could spare, dispatched six warriors to reinforce the garrison at Baradorn, and sent the remainder back to Eryn Carantaur with the wounded.

“You are sure you are ready?” he asked Valandil.

“Yes,” said the other elf, vehemently. He picked up his bow. “Let us go, Haldir.”

The March Warden turned to Arador. “From now on, you follow my orders.”

The boy grinned.

“I am serious, Manling.”


“I will not have you putting Mistress Wilawen or my warriors at risk.”

“What would you do?” asked Arador, with genuine curiosity. Then he pulled himself together. “No sir, of course not. You can rely on me. Truly. You have my word.”

“Then take us to the cave.”

Though thin and gangly, the Reeve’s son proved surprisingly able, leading them northwards, at a brisk trot, for almost five miles along the edge of the Divor Rocks before coming to a halt beneath a group of caves, clustered on the cliff face like the features of three vast skulls.

Valandil began to climb.

“From the map it is hard to tell exactly which one we want,” shouted the boy, “but I think you should start at the right.”

In the end it was Arador himself who found the tiny opening, in the ‘nose’ of the right-most skull, using his own glowing crystal—which he had also bought from the someone who knew someone—as a torch.

He turned to Haldir. “I can see a cave beyond. Permission to go through first, sir?”

Haldir peered into the low tunnel and listened carefully, but he could neither see nor hear nor sense any immediate danger. “Granted,” he said, “but do not move one step beyond the end of this tunnel.”

The boy gave him a slightly cheeky salute, took off his travelling pack and crawled into the hole. Moments later, he came back, head first—“It is further than it looks!”—grasped the strap of his pack, and disappeared once more, shuffling backwards.

“What can you see?” shouted Valandil, anxiously.

“The cave seems quite large... But there is not enough light to see it properly.”

Haldir patted Valandil’s shoulder. “You go next. But wait with the boy until we join you.”

It took some time for all of the elves to slide through the gap. Haldir came last—and was forced to remove his jerkin and tunic before he could squeeze through the narrowest part. He sat on the rocky floor, taking a moment to replace his bracers and let his eyes become accustomed to the dim, greenish light of the crystal.

“Which way, Arador?”

“Purple is space and blue is wall,” said the boy, triumphantly, “so there are four ways out of here, but only one that connects with the tunnel they must have taken. If we work our way along the right-hand wall, it should be the first opening we come to.”

Haldir pulled a length of elven rope from his pack and handed the end to Rumil. “You and Arador take the lead.” He unwound the coil. “Valandil, follow them. Dínendal, stay with me.” He handed the other end to Orophin. “Take the rear. No one lets go of the rope unless everyone is in view. And, if anybody gets into trouble, give three tugs.”


Once over the rock bridge, the creatures had moved quickly, running through the darkness as surely as through daylight. Wilawen had been carried along, head down, on Purple Eyes’ back, no longer able to leave a trail for Valandil.

At length, they had stopped, and Purple Eyes had lowered her to the ground.

Wilawen glanced around, cautiously. The creatures seemed to be settling down to sleep.

Perhaps, if I wait until they...

But how could she escape? She could not move without the torch—could not move without giving herself away.

Even if I knew the way back...

Purple Eyes touched her arm, making her jump. “What? What do you—?”

He clamped his hand over her mouth. But none of his fellows stirred and, after a moment or two, he released her. Then, very gently, he took the glowing crystal from her hands and laid it on the ground beside her.

What are you doing? she mouthed, and for a second her heart froze with the thought that he might be planning to use her.

But he smiled, reassuringly, and held out his hand, waiting patiently and, after a brief hesitation, Wilawen placed her hand in his, and let him help her to her feet and guide her slowly through the darkness—out of the cave and into another small tunnel—where he lifted her over his shoulder and began to run, and Wilawen could only close her eyes and pray to the gods.

On and on they went, twisting this way and that, until Purple Eyes came to an abrupt halt and, through her tightly closed eyelids, Wilawen realised she could see light.

She opened her eyes.

They were standing at the mouth of another cave—a beautiful cave of delicate, twisting stalactites and slender, branching stalagmites—a faery forest lit by a carpet of glowing moss.

Wilawen bent down to examine the source of light, but Purple Eyes caught her fingers and, with his free hand made a sideways slicing motion—No.

“Is it poisonous?”

He put his hand to his lips, then repeated the slice.

“Why have you brought me here?” she asked.

Purple Eyes pointed to his own chest. “Drizzt,” he said.

Wilawen frowned.

He pointed again, “Drizzt. Drizzt.” Then he pointed to her.


“O’Wilawen,” he said, with a gesture she had seen Valandil use to calm a skittish horse. Then he reached into a pouch at his hip, took out a small black object and showed it to her. Wilawen peered closely, in the dim light, surprised to see a piece of black onyx, shaped like a cat.

“O’Wilawen,” Drizzt repeated, with the same calming gesture as before. He laid the statuette on a patch of bare rock and called, quietly, “Guenhwyvar...”

Wilawen watched the stone cat—its sleek body now brightly lit by the glowing moss—her eyes narrowing in disbelief as a grey mist seemed to emerge from its back, and swirl around it, slowly rising and growing denser and denser, until—

“Ohhhh—!” Wilawen clamped her hand over her mouth.




Contents page


Previous chapter: Double Trouble
Legolas and Eowyn are reunited. Shadow Legolas lays down some rules; his messenger has two strange encounters.

Chapter 8

Next chapter: Friends in need
Lord Fingolfin asks Legolas for a favour; Aranwë rides home; the Shieldmaiden defends her people.

Chapter 10