The cabin door opened and Eowyn, barefoot, and wearing nothing
but her tunic and sword belt, appeared in the doorway.
Legolas raised a finger to his mouth: Shhh!
She padded quietly to his side. You woke me, she
mouthed, alluding to their close mental bond, what is
Legolas looked over the ships side. The first man had
already reached the half-way point. We are under attack,
melmenya, he whispered. They look like farmers,
but they are well armed. They must think that we are
pirates, from a world above the clouds...
What shall we do, Lassui? She loosened her sword
in its scabbard.
Legolas was not sure. Wait... He looked over the
gunwale again. The first man was still climbing steadily, the
second was gaining upon him, and a third had joined them. Many
more, he thought, and they will drag us out of the sky!
Do you remember how to work the anchor rope, melmenya?
Eowyn looked down at the mechanism, another of Master Eldacars
Good. Then get ready to use itbut not until I give
He crossed to Haldir. We must make it harder for them.
I need you to take us up, he said, slowly,
one foot at a time.
I shall do my best...
Legolas took his place at the starboard anchor housing. The
men on that side were climbing more slowly than their comrades
on the port, but he knew it would not be long before the first
of them reached the hullThe Shieldmaiden must rise.
He seized the winch handle, and waved to Eowyn: NOW,
melmenya, he shouted, lift the ratchet, and let
the rope out as fast as you can!
She did as ordered, windingit almost broke his heart
to see itwith every ounce of her strength, and Legolas
matched her, turn for turn, whilst Haldir raised the ship: one
foot, two, a yard, two yards, three
Eowyns hand slipped, and her handle locked. The Shieldmaiden
floundered, and a wail of terror rose up from below, ending
in a sickening crash, and the creak of broken branches.
One of the men had fallen!
Keep winding, melmenya, shouted Legolas,
keep winding! For he knew the effect the mans
death would have on the rest of his comrades.
Higher the ship rose, higher and higher, with Haldir struggling
to keep the hull level and the ropes taut, untilat lastthe
anchors were fully lowered.
Gods... Eowyn collapsed, hands on knees, panting
for breath; Legolas rushed to her and, as he rubbed her back,
proudly, he peered over the gunwale.
The men on the port side already seemed to have lost heartthe
first had stopped climbing and was looking up at the extra distance;
the second had begun to descend.
We mean you no harm, the elf shouted, in Westron.
Climb down, and we will sail away and leave you in peace;
climb up, and you will force us to defend ourselves!
It took a well-placed arrow to persuade the last of the farmers
to retreat, but the men had one final surprise in reserve, and
they used it then, hacking at the anchor ropes until the starboard
line gave way.
The Shieldmaiden veered violently to port, turning her
broadside to the wind, and strained against her remaining rope,
her planking creaking ominouslybut Master Eldacar was
on deck and, at his command, Legolas took Eowyns sword,
and cut the ship free.
The Shieldmaiden surged forward in the currentrising,
falling, righting herself, and throwing Eowyn, who was not tethered,
down upon the deckbut Eldacar seized the helm and, within
moments, he and Haldir had regained control.
Legolas helped Eowyn to her feet. How will we land, Lassui,
with no anchors? she asked.
I do not know, my darling, said Legolas, wrapping
her in his arms. But I am sure that Master Eldacar will
think of something.