PartIII Chapter 3.2
Quest Day 5: For those of the Light and Dark
From day’s zenith to its dusk
Of the brothers
The brothers sensed Raalta’s shock, but said nothing; waiting with bated breath.
He knew that The Dark followed close behind, but unmistakably its aura engulfed the door ahead. They could not turn back, and yet he was fearful that they could withstand what lay beyond the huge iron and wooden structure. It loomed out of the dark passage, an ancient gate now pulsing with malevolence and foreboding. The brothers could not perceive the evil; it took a Maia’s powers to see.
Raalta walked to in front of the door and reached out to it; it let out a shrill scream which sent a piercing shock into his hand. He tried again, with the same repelling outcome. Whatever was contained inside, was repulsing a Maia.
Raalta felt the eyes of another upon him, he looked for any sign, but there was none; however he knew that someone, in some far-off space was observing them, if not by direct sight, then through some medium.
Raalta was contemplating how to proceed, when Boromir walked up to, and insistently, as if driven to dismiss Raalta’s restraint, placed his hand on the door; it unbolted.
Raalta pulled Boromir to the side, and motioned that he should wait with Faramir in the passageway.
He took a step through the door, and was immediately overwhelmed with a kaleidoscopic vision of a blizzard on Caradhras, a meeting, and then, a battle on Amon Hen.
He looked at Boromir, and Gandalf’s Light and his shield. They were waning, no longer fully protecting Boromir from the sight of The Dark. They were tracking them, and Raalta had no doubt, had set a trap for the Steward’s first-born. But whatever this was, they had to proceed; they had to escape Minas Tirith, and there was no other way.
Reluctant to utter the words of warning and declare his insight, for fear of these being overheard, Raalta wrote them down on a parchment he had brought with him:
The Dark may hear what we say. Trial passed this door; blizzard on Caradhras, and others. Must proceed, cannot retreat. Trust not your eyes. Follow my lead.
He did not explain further, but Boromir and Faramir understood that as before, Boromir was the target of this trial. He alone, as part of the Fellowship, had faced and retreated from the blizzards of Caradhras when the Ring went south. This action forcing them to the Mines of Moria and the death of Gandalf, then of Grey. How different things might have been if this path had not been taken.
Raalta stepped into what seemed like a narrow rock cavern, the brothers followed.
There was no wind, no blizzard, merely a calm delicate breeze. The cavern was bathed in a ghostly grey light that overshadowed the light cast by Gandalf’s crown, which Faramir held high to envelop his brother. In front of them was a stone pathway that led off into the distance. Faramir who entered last, looked guardedly about and then at Raalta. The door slammed shut behind him, giving an ominous resonating metallic thud.
As it did, the breeze was whipped into a fury, swirling around and buffeting the three, ‘the wind whistled and snow became a blinding blizzard’ (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘The Ring Goes South’) with biting sleet that cut into their flesh as it fell upon them. The ground beneath them gave way, and Boromir anticipating this by some uncanny means, managed to leap to the edge of the cavern, where a thin ledge remained. The wind was so merciless and the air frigid, Boromir fought to breathe, and with each breath, he saw a caliginous mist besiege him. He could no longer see Faramir or Raalta, and feared that both might have been consumed by the gapping chasm. Boromir tried to yell to the others, but his voice was swallowed by the howling wind. He could not see more than a foot in any direction, nor, as he was buffeted by wind and sleet, could he move forward or backward. In this ensnared state, he sought desperately for his brother, but the storm only grew in ferocity. Then suddenly out of the murk he saw two figures. He could not make them out at first, but they hurtled toward him; Isengard orcs, their war cry screeching above the wind. Boromir drew his sword and ran to face them in combat, as he had on Amon Hen. He was about to strike one dead, when a bright light stunned him.
Raalta and Faramir had been watching on helplessly as Boromir’s was consumed by torturous ravings. Whatever had intervened, had taken him to the edge of the cavern, and despite their attempts some invisible shield separated him from them. So they had to look on as he seemed overwhelmed by a catastrophic vision in which he fought and screamed. These were not the rantings of a mad man, but by one who was possessed. They were concerned at first that he might harm himself, but abruptly he turned, rushing at them with his sword raised, passing through the shield, ready to strike; there was no bodily force that could have blocked his charge.
Raalta reached for the armlet which Faramir had seen him use in the Tower to bring Boromir to consciousness; he pressed one of the smaller stones, and a silver shaft of light shot directly at Boromir.
Boromir was in mid swing just feet from Faramir when the shaft sliced through the torrent of the storm and the darkness that engulfed him. He stopped and looked into the shimmering light, it reflected back his image.
He was stunned, for he did not look as he imagined or felt, his hair and cloak were not dripping wet, it was not dark; yet beyond this ray all seemed as if in the fury of a tempest. He looked deeply into the reflected whorl of the storm and could just make out images of the Fellowship struggling against the blizzard of Caradhras. Boromir dropped his sword and fell to his knees, for he realised then the storm was an apparition, bought back from a tortured memory; it was not real. Raalta’s words flooded back to him: ‘trust not your eyes, for nothing is real’.
Slowly Raalta’s light filled the cavern, and as it did, Boromir saw it swallow his storm. He collapsed, totally spent.
Faramir rushed to his side:
‘It is over Boromir, they have tried their worst and failed – you are free of them now.’
Raalta helped Faramir pull Boromir up, and acknowledging Faramir’s words with a nod, added:
‘Free of them for now, but we must leave this place quickly, for we have now little time to reach safety.’
Raalta and Faramir, supporting Boromir, strode quickly down the passageway, driven by the terror of what stalked them. They came to a massive metal gate.
‘The last one,’ Raalta said in a wheezing whisper, ‘Last one!’
‘There is no lock,’ Faramir uttered in dismay, fearful that after all, they would be defeated at this final turn.
‘This gate does not open with a key,’ Raalta whispered in reply. He pointed Gandalf’s Light at a middle plate, and by some light-hydraulics unknown to the brothers, it swung open.
They stepped out into a large cave, into which golden rays of sunshine streamed, welcoming them to the security of the light. Faramir, guiding Boromir, rushed to the entrance, taking in with whooping gulps the fresh air of the soft early afternoon sun.
This cave was located on top of the lower slopes of Mt Mindolluin, at the back of the White City’s walls, furthest from the terror of Mordor. As they looked out upon the Plains of Pelennor Fields, Faramir envisioned the devastation that would lie here in a few days. His eyes moved from the Fields to Boromir, it was the first time in days he had time to look at him in light. He was shocked with what he saw. There was something amiss, he could not put his finger on it at first, but then he realised, Boromir’s eyes had a yellowish tinge and his whole carriage and demeanor was not that of his proud, robust, self-confident big brother but of a beleaguered being.
Raalta joined them at this entrance, instantly recognizing what had befallen Boromir. He pulled Faramir to him, whispering:
‘We must leave this place now.’
‘Raalta, Boromir needs time to rest, he is not…’
‘There is no time, come follow me…’ Raalta insisted, taking Boromir by the shoulder and leading him from the cave, half-dazed he followed without complaint.
The slopes were covered with shrub and thorny bush clinging to the barrenness of the rocky outcrop. As they walked it tore at their cloaks, as if even here the enemy had engaged allies to block their escape, but Raalta did not falter in his step. As they descended, Faramir was staggered by the silence. Only their tread on fallen leaf or branch, broke the eerie stillness; for here he knew a multitude of creatures of wing and foot lived, yet none appeared; they had retreated to some safe place, sensing what was to come.
When they reached the bottom of the slope, where a thicket of gnarled trees grew, they found a pair of tethered horses.
Boromir propped himself up alongside a tree, then slid to the ground with exhaustion. It was then the tremors began, a faint quivering of the fingers, then a distinct tremble of his hand which travelled up his arm.
Faramir horrified, exclaimed:
‘See Raalta, Boromir was too fatigued to …’
Raalta responded, shaking his head with concern:
‘It is not a physical ailment Faramir, it is mental malignancy. The Dark has infiltrated his mind…’
‘Is there nothing that can be done?’
‘If only I had some Elanor, that could forestall for a time the darkness overtaking his spirit.
‘I have some Raalta; Gandalf gave us healing herbs…’ Faramir exclaimed, and reaching into his cloak pocket withdrew three vials.
Raalta took the Elanor and poured it into Boromir’s mouth while chanting a soulful refrain; the sonance resonated around them. Within seconds the tremors stopped and Boromir fell into a becalmed stupor, his eyes wide-open, more yellowed than before. Raalta examined them, shaking his head.
Raalta reached for his amulet, and pressing on the middle stone, a lavender-grey light radiated forth, encapsulating the three.
Raalta spoke to Faramir, his voice laced with trepidation:
‘We are afforded some shelter within this light, but it can withstand the vengeful eyes of The Dark for a matter of minutes only, so I must with haste tell you what you must know. There is no doubt, that Sauron has overtaken Boromir’s mind. It is only a matter of time unless we can intercede that the transmutation will be complete, and he will move irrevocably to The Dark...’
Faramir gasped in shock:
‘What must we do to intercede - Gandalf’s light…!’
‘Gandalf’s light cannot help now. There is only one thing that can protect him…’
‘Then it must be done, tell me what it is, what I must do…’
‘There is nothing you can do… and it is not without risk…’
‘But the alternative…’
‘When Boromir’s pupils shine yellow, he will be irretrievably lost…’
Faramir rushed to Boromir’s side:
‘His eyes are yellowish, but his pupils are not as yet!’
‘Sauron has fixed on to Boromir’s thoughts via the Band; it is only a matter of moments….’
‘Then… can we remove the Band?’
‘Not without loss of Boromir to the Quest.’
‘Then Raalta… what can be done?!’
‘We must block the Band and its transmission thoughts; we must block Boromir’s mind.’
‘Block his mind…. his mind! Then how can he be! Is there no other way?!’
‘There is none – but if you can get to a safe-haven in time and release the block, then Boromir’s mind can… be restored…’
As Raalta spoke, Faramir watched as the yellow tinge darkened and spread.
‘Then do it Raalta! Do it now!’
Raalta took the central gem out of his amulet and held it above Boromir, and began to chant again, but now in florid and baser tones. The greyish mist enveloping them quivered then pulsed in rhythm, as if waves of sound and light had become one. Raalta stopped, breathed in heavily, waiting in anticipation... The gem started to glow, and from it issued a chorale of haunting melody, which built into a crescendo, then a ray of silvery light shot forth and swirled around their capsule of space. As Raalta chanted in harmony with the voices, the rays deepened in colour, like the light before the storm, then as Boromir breathed, he inhaled their greyness; sucked in by his breaths, they disappeared – then all was silent.
‘It is done Faramir, now it is up to you. Boromir will see, hear, feel and think, but no thoughts will be transmitted, these are cocooned from all, except from the wearer of this ring of labradorite – the jewel of the opened Third Eye,’ and Raalta took off his index finger a jeweled ring of iridescent green, turquoise and gold.
‘This will channel his inner feelings to the wearer; take it Faramir. By this you will sense what has been blocked by the aura of Elmowé – the spirit that protects his thoughts from Sauron. Know that the longer Boromir is in this state, the more difficult it will be to release him from it.
Faramir put on the ring. In an instant, he felt a sensation – not a thought – but a feeling; or a fusion of feelings – of dread, bewilderment, release... He looked at Boromir, the yellow of his eyes had gone, and a smile, yes Faramir was sure, a glimmer of a smile appeared on his lips. Faramir bent over and helped his brother to rise; he embraced him and a warm glow flowed from brother to brother.
Faramir, struggling how to communicate, spoke to Boromir in wavering words:
‘Boromir, we must depart to a safe place that Raalta has organised for us. To protect you now from The Dark your thoughts and words are… blocked, but I can feel these through the channel of this jewel… do you understand?’
At first there was nothing, Faramir’s heart dropped, then the jewel flashed and Faramir felt… knew that Boromir understood.
Reassured Faramir turned to Raalta:
‘Raalta we are ready, give us directions for where we must go.’
‘You have until the fall of dark to reach the place of immunity when you will come under the protection of Iarwain Ben-adar – it is a cottage in the southern tip of the Drúadan Forest. Your journey should be unhindered by The Dark, for Sauron will assume with the expiration of Boromir’s mind-waves that he is dead, but at nightfall, with the Dark’s powers once more in full-force, he will see through the ruse – without the protection of the Ancient One … nothing can save Boromir then.’
‘The Drúadan Forest’, Faramir thought and shuddered, for this forest had always been avoided by the people of Gondor, who believed it was haunted, but he said nothing of this to Raalta; he simply asked for directions to this refuge.
Raalta drew a rough map of the entrance to the forest and the location of the house, adding with a soaring urgency:
‘You must ride through the enduring afternoon sun to reach it before dark. The release will be waiting. You will receive a message which will confirm your next destination, I can say not more of this… for there is not time...’
By now the sun, shadowed by black billowing clouds that were being blown upon a moiling mistral of Mordor’s making, struggled to send its light upon the earth, and grimaced against the clouds threatening to cloak its rays.
Raalta sensing the change was coming, continued with even greater urgency in his tone:
‘I leave you here, but you must – you must know some things. You asked Andil about an Elven prophecy… this will be revealed to you. And one other matter...’
Raalta hesitated; clearly concerned about the message he must give:
‘Your father’s mind is no longer his, for it belongs to Saruman, and through him, to Sauron. With my powers, I was only able to rid him of these influences for an hour yester-morn. In this short respite, he was lucid. He realised that he was under the control of others, but could not stop the enslavement of his mind. We spoke about the pact and the prophecy. He realised that his heart had been placed on Boromir, and that the pact would enslave him to The Dark, as it had, himself. In this briefest of reprieve, he wanted to write to you to explain that which he could. In this scroll are his words. There was no explaining to your father in this time that the Quest would bring you and Boromir forth. You will see that even at the end, as my powers waned to fight those of Saruman, his mind moved again to The Dark.’
Raalta drew breath, and then proceeded, putting his hands upon Faramir’s and Boromir’s shoulders, trying to give them solace, but aware that they needed to know the full extent of the peril afore them:
‘His words tell you of the torment he has faced with actions he did to secure what he thought was best, but which played into the hands of those that would use him to their ends…. His end has been cast, and nothing can undo what lies before him. But you will see that when he was in control of his mind, he understood the prophecy, as you will when you look within the vision and see its meaning unfold. I give you his words and the elven manuscript with my translation. When you are safe in the forest, take heed of the words and visions contained within. You have now very little time to make this by night fall when Sauron will unleash his powers. Time has become interlocked between now, that of the past and that of the Quest, and I know not what will eventuate from this juncture. I must leave you now. A mighty power will protect and guide you when you reach the Forest. Ride with all speed. May The Light protect you! Remember - the secret is within the vision.’
With that he clasped the hands and embraced the brothers. Both brothers felt the force within his embrace. He waited for Boromir to mount, then pulled Faramir one-side, whispering:
‘If all does not go well, if Sauron sees though the ruse or if you do not reach the forest in time, if Boromir’s eyes take on the yellow hue, then you must act at once, there will be no warning, you must,’ and he hesitated ‘you must k…’
Faramir anticipating Raalta’s word, responded emphatically:
‘I will not!’
‘Faramir there is no saving him, under Sauron’s influence he will turn… he will...’
‘I will not!’
Raalta sighed, knowing that his words were not enough:
‘Only you will know what is right at the time, you must do what you must do!’
Faramir would hear no more of this, he went to the steed and mounted it, leaning down, he entreated Raalta:
‘Look after father… and Andil, for he would have expected to have met you at dawn.’
Raalta looked away momentarily, then returning his gaze on Faramir, then Boromir who looked on for his answer, replied in an assured tone:
‘I will do what I can.’
He knew, but did not say, that he could do nothing more for either. Denethor was lost to Raalta’s influence now. There had been some release from the catatonic stupor by Andil’s potion, such that when Gandalf had arrived, he would see in the Steward only the bitterness of grief; only later at the sight of Faramir’s dire injury, would the full-blown madness re-emerge. For Andil, there was nothing that could be done. Raalta had received news that one of Saruman’s spies had captured the faithful servant, interrogated him about Boromir, and when the old man could give him no information, had slain him. He would be lost to the story of the Ring; no mention of him would be made, even by the Master of Middle-earth.
For himself, Raalta knew that danger lay for him in the White City. The hounds of The Dark had been set upon him now that Sauron would have uncovered his part in Boromir’s escape. In other times and conditions, he could have helped Boromir more, there was much more to tell… but it was set that the Steward’s first born must find his own path – his own truth.
Now Raalta needed to return to his charge; to the Great Library of Gondor; for he knew that the onslaught and battle would lay waste to parts of the Hall of Records, and he had to save those rare books that stood outside the doors of the Anduin. All inside would be safe, for the doors contained a ferric lining that would hold back fire, even that from the fury of Mount Doom. However, he could not return along any of the passageways he had travelled with Boromir, for Saruman would have discovered these, but he knew a separate route that would lead him to his lodging-house. There he would take on the guise of a monk, who he knew had secretly left the city, and about whom he had previously left message with the Yeoman was to take charge of the Records anytime in his absence. He would gain access to the Library and no-one would suspect this disguise, for this monk was of handsome features, very tall and had the build of an athlete, but changing into the form of this monk posed no problem for Raalta.
He looked after the brothers until they went from sight; he sensed the turmoil within Faramir, but knew despite his protestations he would do what was needed of him. He walked to the westerly side of the forest, and then into an entrance concealed by a cascading crystal waterfall.
The brothers rode, cloaked, swiftly north-west to the promised sanctuary of the Drúadan Forest.
The late sun struggled stalwartly against the sorcery of Sauron. From Mordor, he unleashed cavernous clouds which hunted the orb, trying to bring night to the day; yet it held its station, tracing in the sky the brother’s journey, urging their speed to safety.
The brothers did not waver in their course; they stopped only once to water their horses, pushing themselves and their steeds onward through vale, plain and pain. The Forest emerged in the distance; the trees appearing to race toward them. The sun seemed as if it was holding its setting until they had reached their destination; resisting the darkness of dusk, now surrounding and swallowing its being. It hung, lingering over the forest, as if Arien herself had returned to hold off its descent into the western horizon.
The brothers still held a deep-seated apprehension of this primeval forest, yet thankful there was on offer a place of refuge, be it even in this forbidding place.
They dismounted and led their horses into the woodland. Following Raalta’s map, they made their way passed trees which loomed as sinister sentinels. Finally they could see their destination; up high on a hill, virtually undetectable, was a modest timber and thatch cottage melding completely into the forest itself. They began their ascent through what appeared as an impenetrable barrier of decaying mounds, pits and standing snags, but as they moved forward, it seemed the growth of the forest yielded up to them a path to the cottage. Faramir leading, the brothers strode in haste up the hill, and reached the cottage, just as contorted shadows were cast throughout the wood.
As they closed the door, darkness engulfed the forest; it engulfed the Fields of Pelennor and Denethor in the White City. A malign mist arose; it whaled furiously across the trees and consumed the cottage and the brothers.
Now the darkness also began to flow viciously out from Mordor.. The air was filled with the acrid odour of fire, hate and destruction; a fire burning deep within the Dark Lord and his Mount Doom.
At this time, Gandalf and Pippin having flown on Shadowfax to reach Minas Tirith and Denethor on that dawn, waited anxiously for the battle of Pelennor Fields as they watched:
‘’… a great cloud…. devouring light, borne upon a wind of war.’ (Tolkien, ROTK, ‘The Siege of Gondor’)
Of the maiden
Éowyn explained to Raalta what she had uncovered, and where she sensed her search needed to take her. In the politics on the relationships between kingdoms, such a catastrophe of a Royal entourage would be recorded; Sauron could not have erased record of this. The Book on the Kingdoms of Men would record such events. Raalta collected this from the Library. It did not take long to locate an entry.
Written in the beautiful calligraphy of the Monk Minast, who had specialized in the accounts of the politics and diplomacy of Middle-earth, writing over a thousand years after the event, recorded:
Despite a blood-line alliance, the relationships between the kingdoms of Carn Dûm and Númenor became strained when on the day preceding the millennium festival of Erukyermë, on 21 March 2000, the entire entourage from the Northern Kingdom was slain. Tar-Ciryatan attributed the killings to militant terrorists in Númenor. A war between the kingdoms was narrowly averted when it was claimed by the Númenóreans that the perpetrators had been hunted down and executed. The King of the Northern Kingdom, overcome by anguish and mistrust, never believed the assurances provided by Númenórean King, and no royal visit to Numénor occurred again in his or his descendants’ reign.
Now they had the exact date!
What remained was where would she have been at this time? Éowyn sensed she had come to Armenelos for a special event, beyond that of the Spring festival. Some happening significantly personal to her. If only they knew more what had been written. She urged Raalta:
‘Can you remember nothing about the words of the poem?’
Raalta immersed himself in a trance-like state. Minutes later, he brought from memory:
‘I recollect simple words of love. A tribute to her beauty. Of facing trials together; of those unwilling to give consent. That at Erukyermë, when doves will meet eagles, I remember the words…. “we will make them… understand”.’
‘Then we were right,’ exclaimed Éowyn, ‘There was betrothal to be proclaimed, but this was resisted by one or both houses. The doves of Hadiya meeting the eagles of Numénor would consecrate their vows. Hadiya would have come, with her party, to announce this betrothal. The King must have received her, then known of her death, as expressed in his recorded words.’
‘He would have given her and her party accommodation, even if he did not sanction the union,’ added Raalta.
‘But since it had been agreed to include the doves in the ceremony, I sense it was not the Númenóreans who resisted the wedding, but her parents. For it seems that they did not travel to Armenelos with her, otherwise they too would have been killed. But where in this enormous city would she have resided?’
‘We have a way to uncover this. For with noble parties, even though they brought their own entourage, it was part of the custom of Númenórean hospitality, to provide one of the royal household as their contact and guide. Usually, especially on occasions such as the Erukyermë, when dignitaries from various empires would have been invited, these household attendants would have had specific parts of the palace to look after. We have to find one such servant that was here before Erukyermë and then not after. For if Hadiya’s own attendants would have been killed after her, then this servant, who would have lived with them, would also have perished.’
‘That is ingenious reasoning Raalta. But how do we find any documents that would show this,’ Éowyn replied excitedly.
‘Through the registry of households that are located in the archives. All such records were carefully documented by the Númenóreans. Before the time of the empire’s destruction, copies of these records were housed in Grey Havens. After the destruction, these records were sent to this Library to be preserved. I will see what records there are for that period.’
Raalta went across to the bookcase containing the Great Books, Éowyn following behind. On the lowest shelf, there were a series of parchment tomes with rustic burgundy bindings, numbered in series. Raalta ran his figures over the numbers, then pulled out one from the middle of the row, opened it and flicked through the pages, then declared to Éowyn who was standing alongside:
‘Here we have it. Look the entry for the royal household before Erukyermë in 2000, and look at those after, there is a sole name missing.’
‘And what if she just left?’
‘That did not happen. The servants stayed in service of the King all their lives.’
‘And, does it say the quarters she serviced.’
‘Yes, she was one of the Queen’s favorite attendants, and she looked after the visitors’ quarters in the northern wing, the one where the highest dignitaries were accommodated. You were right; Hadiya would not have been given quarters here, if Tar-Ciryatan disapproved of the betrothal. The resistance must have been from her family.’
‘So we now know the exact date and her location. Raalta, we have finally all the information we need to find her!’
In her excitement and relief Éowyn gave Raalta a grateful hug. Then with both of them feeling the embarrassment of her spontaneous show of emotion, she sat down, still in disbelief that this part of her search had been accomplished.
‘Yet we still do not know who he was,’ responded Raalta perusing the manuscript, ‘It could not have been Tar-Ciryatan’s son Atanamir. Though, due to the way Hadiya was received and the inclusion of the doves on her behalf, which was highly irregular for the Númenóreans were assiduous in keeping of traditions, he must have been a near relative or friend of the King. We do not now have time to search for his identity as Saruman will be here at nightfall and I do not know what power he brings with him. And we have much to put in order. Come, we must arrange the Library.’
With that Raalta took the jug, glasses and candle from the anti-room.
‘Why do you need these?’ Éowyn asked, ‘we have finished our work.’
‘But now we must hide our discovery.’
Raalta put the objects on the Library table.
‘We must hide where and what we have looked at. I will pass you other Great Books; you must open them, as if you referred to them. We must obscure the ones we derived our information from, by leaving your trace in others.’
So Raalta did this with six other Great Books. He and Éowyn, marking their opening this way. He then put the Books back in their designated spots. He went through the Library, and then giving every choice careful consideration, brought a stack of manuscripts for Éowyn to flick through and open at places. Then when this was completed, he replaced all of them back in their proper places. He moved the stepladder across to a number of bookcases, so the fresh scrapings on the floor were repeated across a number of sections of the Library.
He meticulously repositioned volumes in front of the box of manuscripts from which Aragorn had taken the Prophecies, and with a dusty cloth, covered these in a layer of dust, removing any sign of recent handling. He was sure that, although not catalogued, if Eowyn had referred to these, Saruman might use her tracer to locate their hiding spot, and then sense that one was missing. However, she had not touched them, so he was confident they were safe.
He then placed the glasses on the table near the window, leaving tiny residues of watermarks. Then lighting the candle he let a filament of wax fall on the table, then removed this, leaving with the smallest remnants as a tell-tale mark. Then he took two glasses off the table and placed them and the burnt down candle on a low cabinet under the window. The third he put into the bag he had brought.
Éowyn looked on in amazement at Raalta’s methodical staging.
When finished, Raalta said in a breathless concerned tone:
‘Time is passing and we must have a considerable distance between us and him by nightfall. We must leave the city now.’
He motioned to Éowyn towards the hidden room. As he went through the door, he looked back into the Library, he had done all he could to hide their search. It would only delay Saruman for a brief period, for the Wizard would see through this pretext in time, but that is all they needed to make safe their escape.
He led Éowyn down the stairs, stopping at the landing that went to his lodgings, saying:
‘I have already removed all evidence of your and Aragorn’s stay in the chambers, but I have to put the Library keys in a secure place in my chamber. A message has already been sent to Yeoman that I have been urgently called away to an ill friend in Linhir. We will travel to the juncture of the passageways to my lodgings, and I would ask you to wait there until I deposit the keys.’
They descended the steps to the fifth tier – and Raalta left Éowyn on the landing, lit by a candle he had brought. She sat down, and looked at the staircase. Once menacing, it now took on a new aura; it was their route to safety, hiding them from the eyes that would ensnarl them. Raalta returned and led the way, down the scores of stairs they once had climbed.
When the got to the landing that had seen them beforehand cross over to the other side of the city, Raalta continued down. It was clear that no-one had ventured here for an age. The grime from centuries covered the floor and cobwebs hung across the ceiling, ensnarling the two as they hurried through the dark. They then came to a doorway.
‘Just two to go to the outside,’ Raalta whispered.
He had a single key, and despite going into the lock, it did not turn the bolt.
‘It has been a long time since this door has been opened.’
Éowyn felt herself holding her breath, if it didn’t work then they would have to retrace their steps, and Saruman’s presence loomed in her mind.
But with gentle turning, the bolt released. Raalta cautiously opened the door, and then when he was sure that it was safe, he led Éowyn out. Once out, he rebolted the door. Éowyn had no idea where she was, but dim light flooded the area from a small opening somewhere high up in the passageway. The floor was covered with slimy water and an olive-coloured moss. As they walked along, she dared not look down at what also might lie within the sodden ground.
. She was overcome by the sourness of the air that swamped them. There was no sound, no sound at all, except the swishing noise of their watery tread. She said nothing to Raalta. He felt her rising concern, nonetheless he did not say anything, for it was not safe to stop or speak.
They walked briskly on the flat, relieved that the steps had ended. Raalta leading the way and Éowyn following, trying to keep up with this man that certainly no longer appeared feeble or old. They said not a word, occupied with thoughts of what danger lay behind, and that which lay in front of them.
Éowyn had no sense of how long they walked, then as they reached a sweeping bend in the passageway, Raalta announced in a hushed voice:
‘The final bend and door.’
He turned the bend, and stopped suddenly in shock.
Éowyn sensed his shock but did not ask the reason; she waited to see what ensued.
He sensed that The Dark was tracking them, yet here, obviously anticipating their course, its aura had enveloped the door. They could not retreat, however he was not confident that she could withstand what lay in store for her, for the vast structure, looming out of the shadowy passage, throbbed with malice and guile. She could not perceive the evil; it took a Maia’s powers to see.
Raalta walked to the door and reached to touch it; it let out a screeching scream which sent a stabbing shock into his hand. He tried, and was repulsed, again. Whatever lay waiting, wished to repel a Maia’s influence.
Raalta sensed they were being watched. He scanned the passageway for a sign, none was apparent, however he was sure that an agent of The Dark in a parallel plane was monitoring them, if not directly, then by other means.
Raalta stood in a quandary, when Éowyn sizing up the situation, stepped up to him, and whispering:
‘It is rebuffing you, let me try.’
She placed her hand on the door; it swung open.
Raalta nodded in tribute to Éowyn and then motioned gently that she stand-aside; she did so.
He moved to the threshold, and was thereupon beset by a psychedelic vision of events that he had no knowledge of, but surmised they were of particular significance to Éowyn. They centred on, and were forcing, a choice upon her – and he feared for her, though he knew her strength of will. He was certain a trap had been set, knowing the treachery The Dark Lord was capable of. Nevertheless, how ever this was derived, they had to continue. They had to flee Minas Tirith and this was their only chance, for soon Saruman would appear in the White City searching for her.
He wished to warn Éowyn, but wary not to reveal his insight in words, conscious that The Dark may overhear, he wrote them down on a scrap of parchment:
The Dark heeds what we say. Trial of choices has been set; of hopes and disappointments. Must proceed, cannot retreat. Trust your feelings. Watch for my sign.
He did not explain any further, but clasped her hands; she understood. She understood those choices she had made and had been forced upon her, and how things might have been, had certain paths not been taken.
Raalta stepped into what seemed like a craggy limestone cavern, Éowyn followed.
Far from them, away from their sight, the day was consumed by the night and Sauron’s power wailed and come to the fore, and with it came:
‘… a great blackness looming slowly out of the East, eating up the faint blurred stars.’ (Tolkien, TT, ‘Journey to the Cross-Roads’)
They saw this not, but felt it to their core.
Of those of Brandybuck and Took
Refreshed and re-enthused Merry had taken his turn with scroll and quill. Pippin was splashing in the cool waters of the Entwash. Treebeard had returned to the centre of the clearing, and basking in the warmth of the early-afternoon sun readied himself for the continuation of his journey through the discoveries and achievements of man.
‘Are you ready Master Merry, for there is still much to cover before nightfall?’
‘Hobbit, scroll and quill at your disposal Treebeard,’ replied Merry jovially.
‘Then we commence from what came after ‘Quantum Theory,’ and in sonorous voice the words began:
Zeppelin; ‘Laws of Radiation’; telegraphic messages; safety razor; neon light; lie detector; arc generator; flight of man – motorized airplane; ultramicroscope; silicones; tractor; vacuum diode; ‘Special Theory of Relativity’; Alzheimer disorder; term allergy; colour photography; conditioned reflexes; piloted helicopter; Ford Model T-Ford; plastic; ‘Treatise on Radiography’; Halley’s comet observed; theory on atomic structure; ‘ecstasy’ drug; zipper; term vitamine; protons and electrons; theory if continental drift; Vitamin A; rocketry experiments; ‘General Theory of Relativity’; fighter airplane; ‘Theory of Transfinite Numbers’; refrigeration of blood for transfusion; tanks; telescope; shortwave radio; radios; stainless steel; Rorschach inkblot test; robot; sound film system; distance to star nebula; insulin; insecticide; quantum mechanics; Vitamin B; Atlantic flight; B&W television; cardiac pacemaker; aerosol can; quartz clock; iron lung; penicillin; Geiger counter; teleprinters; quartz crystal clocks; colour television; talking films; yellow fever vaccine; gas turbine; photoflash bulb; iron lung; planet Pluto; jet engine; heavy hydrogen; cyclotron; neutron; nylon; aircraft carrier; male hormone; radar; ballpoint pen; nuclear fission; DDT; helicopter; electron microscope; Plutonium; electronic computer; magnetic recording tape; photocopier; atom split ‘Manhattan Project’; electron microscope; jet airplanes; nuclear reactor; atomic bomb…
Treebeard took breath and shuddered, for the recall off what he had seen, through devices of the time and those of Ents, those supernatural, were horrifying. But he did not dare linger, so as the sun faced its journey of decline, he proceeded, and the hobbits in their transcription, followed:
Kidney dialysis; fully electronic computer; supersonic flight; microwave oven; transistor; long-playing record; 200 inch reflecting telescope; missiles; telescope; holography; mobile phones; antihistamines; power-steering; video-tape recorder; heart-lung machine; credit card; cinerama; contraceptive pill; lung cancer linked to smoking; hydrogen bomb; solar cell; optical fibre; hovercraft; modem; integrated circuit; black box recorder; DNA structure; nuclear powered submarine; ultra high frequency waves; earth satellite Sputnik; satellite Explorer; radiation belts around earth; satellite Lunik reaches moon; microchip; solar water heater, laser device; laser-aided holograms; weather-satellite; black box flight recorder; bathyscaphe ‘Trieste’; internal pace-maker; man in space; ultrasound scanner; structure of DNA molecule; Venus probe; man in earth orbit; Thalidomide; quasars; Ranger photos of moon; man walk in space; Luna 9 soft-landing on moon; artificial heart; heart transplant; pulsating radio waves; hand held calculator; man walks on moon…
‘Ah, hoom, hobbits,’ Treebeard sighed, ‘this was a momentous event! All those on earth stood still as a man walked on the moon.’
‘Walked on the moon Treebeard, the sphere of the night…how did they get there?’ replied Pippin in wonderment…
‘Oh, if I had to give the whole story, well – it would take an age. Perhaps when we have finished our journey through these discoveries, I can tell you the history of man in space, as was prophesized by a venerable Sindarian seer.’
In unison, Merry and Pippin, chimed in:
‘Oh Treebeard, please do.’
Treebeard smiled at their innocent enthusiasm, and then pressed on:
‘Later…later when all has been disclosed for Gandalf’:
Mariner Mars pictures; artificial heart; Venera spacecraft lands on Venus; microsurgery; super-sonic aircraft; Interscan; electronic ignition system; floppy disc; manned space-ship; word-processor; pictures of Venus; 2.5 million old human skull; pictures of Jupiter; Mars probe; 3-D imaging of brain; subatomic particle; ozone layer damage reported; new species of bacteria; magnetic resonance; CT scans; ‘test-tube baby’; in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy; ring around Jupiter; supercomputers; bionic ear ; photographs of Saturn; cornea replacement; kidney dialysis machine; personal computer; power protector; AIDS identified; ‘Virtual reality’ term; colour photos of Venus; space shuttle; Macintosh computer; compact disc; transputer; hole in ozone layer; Voyager 2 to Uranus; photos of Halley’s comet; transatlantic optical fibre telephone cable; voyager space-flights; human growth hormone receptor; super-conductor; world-wide-web, internet & e-mail; internet virus; web-TV; new planet 4th closest star; universe is accelerating; mad-cow disease; artificial liver; clone of adult sheep; multi-focal contact lens; balloon flight around world; human genome; international space station; Relenza; activa tremor control therapy; retinal scanning display; digital angel; hy-wire car; space probes and discoveries to Mars and Saturn; virtual ultrasound; birth control patch; icopod; nanotechnology; optical camouflage system; aviation and space planet; floating train; camera phone; personal health statscan, YouTube; military search and rescue robot; TopSat spy satellite; stem cell; genetic modeling; Electro Needle Biomedical Sensor Array; Brilliance CT scanner; nanotechnology.
He stopped, and breathless, from a burden released:
‘That is all – it is done! Not sequenced in a perfect chronology, for things are not set in my mind… but it is done!’
‘We can stop holding quill to scroll?’ Pippin gasped, consumed by exhaustion.
‘Yes dear hobbit friends, the list is as complete as my memory can make it.’
With that Pippin jumped to the ground and ran about – shaking limb and body. Merry roll up the scroll, now extending many feet, and packed it and the quill away in their containers.
Treebeard had walked to the Onodlo waterfall, created by the virgin springs of the Entwash. He stood beneath it and soaked in its reviving vim, just as the brilliant star of the day gave way to those of the night:
‘... glinting through the pale roof of quivering leaves.’ (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘Lothlórien’)
Of the Wizard
With trembling hands Saruman opened the coffer. The Wizard realised that the tremor was a delayed reaction from experiencing Sauron’s onslaught in the hall, which though survived, unleashed now in its wake, an almost uncontrollable mental trepidation. The Wizard desperately fought this and had consumed a draught of Elanor, but this would take some minutes to deliver its calming effect, and the contents of the coffer, or rather that which had seemed to be missing, demanded immediate scrutiny.
Saruman removed all the documents, the parchment was not there.
Could Gandalf have come back to Orthanc as hinted at by Sauron? But why return, and then take this document? Of what value was it to Gandalf and how much of the story was known?
Saruman in researching the creation of the Nazgûl had stumbled over this document, at first not recognizing its significance. With painstaking study of the chronicles of Middle-earth, the then Chief of the Istari had pieced together the tragedy, and that the existence of the poem meant that the Dark Lord’s orders had not been followed.
Saruman had taken the document as insurance, counting on the power of blackmail; now he would have to find out the reason someone-else wanted it. Saruman dared not reveal that any problem prevailed, and struggled not to betray deep-seated feelings or concerns, for the Dark Lord’s venom fed off such disclosures.
With Maia tenacity, the Wizard calmly determined to focus on the preparations for the time-travel to Minas Tirith in pursuit of the maiden, which had been planned for nightfall, when this was achieved, the trail of the parchment could be followed.
Saruman replaced the items in the coffer, locked it, then went off in search of the Lieutenant.
Of the Lieutenant
The Lieutenant had returned from the hall in a shaken state. This sharman had served Sauron loyally for years and was richly rewarded with a favoured status. However in all that time, the soldier, seer, diplomat, had never experienced the trial just set before the two in the hall. The Lieutenant knew not to underestimate the demands and wrath of the Dark Lord, and wondered how the Wizard had fared.
Working in concert they had accomplished much, albeit not enough for their Lord. They could trace the movements of The Light, and had the general locations of the quest-members other than two-hobbit folk. They had intercepted a few thought-transmissions, and had deciphered elements of these. They had successfully sent four agents through time, though they had failed to retrieve them. The abandonment of them in the junctions-of-time was of little consequence to Saruman or the Lieutenant, for much had been gleaned from their failures. They had learned the need to recalibrate the journeys to commence at the fall of night and last for no longer than three hōrae. They waited approval from the Dark Lord for their riskiest venture, that of sending the Wizard after the maiden in Minas Tirith. As Saruman had put great store in the documents contained in the Coffer of the Council of the Wise, the Lieutenant anxiously awaited its delivery.
The Lieutenant was preparing the palantir for transmission, when told that the Wizard was approaching.
Of the Dark Lord
Sauron was pouring over the chronicle of the Arda, the Annals of the Valar. A possession so prized that he quivered in disbelief that after his searching, when he had given up hope that it really existed, he had found it locked away in a simple coffer – he snorted with the irony of it! He, the most powerful being in Middle-earth, had been foiled by the mithril magic of The Children of Aulë. These lowly creatures of the mines had hidden from his vision that which, next to The One Ring, was the greatest treasure, for the Annals recounted…
So deep in thought was he, that he did not hear the Captain enter his chamber.
‘My Lord, you asked to be told…
Sauron, disturbed and impatient, retorted dismissively:
‘Yes, yes Captain. Do what you will!’
‘But My Lord, you requested a report from the Lieutenant on the Wizard of Isengard.’
‘Ah, the Wizard of Isengard. Should I not hold the Wizard in high regard, for he has brought me the Annals of the Valar?’
‘But My Lord, you required assurances from the Lieutenant, that should the Wizard journey to Minas Tirith that we will maintain connection and control over him.’
‘Yes, yes… you are correct Captain. We cannot release the Wizard into a time-parallel without surety of loyalty and our reach to compel a return… or extermination. Has the Lieutenant prepared an assassin to secretly follow the Wizard to Minas Tirith?’
‘The Lieutenant has chosen the Harad.’
‘A wise choice, for the Wizard is cunning and has extensive powers, most of which I can command. Yet it gnaws at me that this Man of Skill is not completely under my sway,’ then following a pause, he continued in a calm steely voice:
‘I assign oversight of the arrangements to you Captain – ensure that there are no failures.’
‘You have my assurance, My Lord. I will collect you just before the night-tide, when the troops will be assembled for your inspection.’
‘Do this. Leave me now.’
Of the Lieutenant and the Wizard
Saruman had arrived and they set to work to finalise the calibrations for the travel. The moment of night’s birth and the location – the Gondorian Hall of Records - had been set, as had the coordinates for the return-journey. With all in readiness, Saruman left; the arrangement was that they would meet again in the Tower Room just before dusk.
As soon as Saruman had gone, the Lieutenant called for the Harad, provision needed to be made for this departure.
Of the Dark Lord and his Captain: on the parapet of Dark’s Tower
The sky was crimson with the death’s throes of the day; soon the night would take command. A whirlwind flared from the bowels of the earth, it swirled with the fury of Morgoth.
Sauron came to the parapet with his Captain to inspect the orc forces on the plateau down below.
The Captain had amassed his vast army, to see and be seen by their Lord. With mountains extending as impenetrable sentinels in the west and the north, the Dark Lord’s fiendish fighting machine was protected from the eyes of those who lay beyond. And, as the Captain had promised, there emerged before Sauron a dark expanse of warriors, stretching out further than his view, a horde of destruction who felt no pain, and answered only to his call, devoid of fear or questioning. These gladiators were once the kin of those who now stood in his way towards an ultimate victory.
The heavens had turned a thunderous grey. Colossal cumulus clouds swept over the plain; hanging like a caliginous canopy over the assembly and issuing torrents of rain; not a single creature moved; standing in silence, waiting for the Master of their World to arrive.
As Sauron appeared and acknowledged his troops, there arose like the enraged eruption of Mount Doom, a war cry:
‘Matum ob Laal!’
and lances and feet thumped the ground so it shook in thundering applause.
He uttered one word in reply:
and received in roaring response:
‘Uur Burz Goth!’
with swords and spears swung in earth-shattering salute.
A vicious wind raged and formed into a churning channel of air, and like a tornado it blew the foul stench of hate throughout the lands of Middle-earth.
Then, as Sauron held his arms above his head, towering bolts of fire came forth, casting a shroud the colour of blood across the darkening skies, and he cried out:
‘Arûrz –izgu shatûp ish!
A monstrous roar of assent rose from the soldiers of Doom; the sound echoing and traversing time and space, reaching that of Gandalf and the Ancient One; who accepted in horror what The Dark had become, but trusted in Light’s decree that the final battle would transcend brute force.
Sauron withdrew from the rampart, declaring in satisfaction to his Captain:
‘These troops are ready for the assault. If we fight with spear and sword, we cannot lose.’
Of the Wizard and the Lieutenant: in the Tower Room
Saruman heard Sauron as he had pronounced his catch-cry, and looking out of a southern portal, saw an astounding sight. For there on the plateau, was a sea of creatures without-end; a greater legion of carnage than the Uruk-hai bred at Isengard. Saruman was transfixed by the spectacle of supreme master and lowly vassals; of the blood-red heaven and the black earth, when the Lieutenant came up to him and said:
‘It is time.’
‘There was a howling and wailing round them in the empty spaces of the night’ (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘A Journey in the Dark’) as it fell.