Looking down from the Ambenn Rocks into the Hollen Valley,
Legolas and Eowyn could see the minea great, gaping wound
in the foot of Amon Hilland, clustered around it, a jumble
of tumbled-down stone buildings and newer wooden sheds. To the
east, a stream had been dammed and its waters diverted into
a series of massive, square-cut ponds. To the west, fires burned
beneath gigantic vats, and smoke poured from noxious substances,
filling the air with an acrid, choking stench.
But that was not the worst of it.
The worstthe most unnaturalthing about the Hollen
Valley was that everything was blue.
The stone walls were blue, the slate roofs were blue,
the wooden sheds were blue, the bare, worn earth was
blue, the cart that must have brought Arador there was
blueeven the hapless men and women, slaving at
the water tanks and over the fires, were blue.
What is it? whispered Eowyn. Then, pulling
herself together, she added, Can you see any sign of Arador,
No, said Legolas, but I can see his father
and the Watch. He pointed to the south, where a line through
the trees showed the path of the forest road, but Eowyns
human eyes could see no sign of the men. We must get down
Young Belecthor caught his arm. These people are not
friendly, my Lord, he said, and he looked sideways
Legolas smiled. Neither is my wife, mellon nín.
Legolas had a plan, of sorts, though he would have been happier
had Gimli or Haldir been on hand to back him up.
You and Belecthor will go down first, he told Eowyn,
and I will cover you. You must make as much noise and
draw as much attention to yourselves as possible, and demand
to be taken to their leader so that you can warn him that the
Reeve is on his way with an army of men.
But that will only be a diversion, said Eowyn.
Legolas nodded. Once I am sure that they do not intend
to harm you, Melmenya, I will search for Arador. By the
time the Reeve arrives, I should have his son safe, and we should
be able to avert a massacre.
You think that that is the Reeves intention?
I am sure of it, Melmenya; I saw it written on his face.
There is a blood feud between these two, and I fear that Arador
may be the next casualty.
It was not difficult for Eowyn to make a commotion scrambling
down the rocks.
By the time she and Belecthor reached the valley floor, most
of the workforce had turned to stare at them, and several menarmed
guards, she realisedwere coming towards them.
Eowyn approached the first, a heavy, thickset man with a surprisingly
homely face and, drawing herself up to her full height and mimicking
her brother, Eomer, at his most kingly, she said, I am
Eowyn of Rohan, co-ruler of Eryn Carantaur. She pulled
out the signet ring she wore about her neck and, keeping her
other hand on her sword, she showed it to him. I demand
to speak with your leader.
Whats she saying? asked a voice, and the
first man turned to reveal a second, who was obviously his twin
She says she wants to talk to Ma, he replied.