In The Pits Of Utumno
All was silent, and the halls and tunnels of Utumno were lit only by
flickering flames and the red glow of firelight. Silently,
stealthily, Elatan moved through the tunnels like a ghost, pausing
frequently to listen for pursuers. From darkness to shadow, from
deep corners to densest shade, he moved furtively and secretly further
and further into the Pits. An elven warrior, with countless
battles behind him, this was his most deadly, dangerous task yet – to
penetrate deep into the Pits of Utumno, where no other elf had ever
ventured before. At least, no other elf had ever returned to tell
Rumours whispered of elves who vanished from forests and glades to be
taken to this stronghold, of hideous tortures and suffering inflicted
on them. And one of those now held in this place of darkness was
Elendur, his dearest friend, a companion who was like a brother to
him. He would save him, or die in the attempt.
He stiffened as he heard voices approaching. Sliding into a
shadowy alcove barely wide enough to conceal him, he waited, scarcely
daring to breathe, as the enemy passed him by. From where he hid
in the shadows he could see them, and the way the torches they carried
cast grotesque shadows over their faces. Finally, when the
voices had faded away and silence had fallen again, he emerged once
more. Ahead lay a wide expanse, a hall lit only by fires, which
he must cross – unseen and unheard.
The hall was empty. Dashing from pillar to pillar, and from
shadow to shadow, he reached the far side in safety. A dim
corner concealed a dark archway, and he found himself in another long
tunnel. At the far end, steps plunged downward, which would
lead him deeper into the Pit. Somewhere down there lay his goal –
the one he had come to rescue, after the wretched prisoner had suffered
years uncounted of unbelievable torment and torture.
Elatan paused at the top of the steps, listening again before he took
the final steps of his quest. He had been in this place
before. Below, the tunnels and passages branched and linked
together again in an intricate maze, where it would be easy to
become lost. With a final check that no-one was near, he
descended the steps cautiously. A great, iron-bound door lay at
the foot of the steps. He waited for a moment, ensuring once
again that all was quiet and the tunnels deserted, then turned to the
door. The heavy latch required both hands to lift it, and he
struggled with the stiff catch. The door was not locked, though,
and pushing it open just a few inches, he slid through the narrow
gap. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw a small,
stone-floored room – and the prisoner he had come to save.
He was naked, lying as if in a swoon on a heap of filthy rags.
Apart from that scant comfort, the room was empty – there was no food,
no water, no bed. Nothing. Elatan could have believed
him dead, had it not been for the faint rise and fall of his
chest. He crossed the room silently to the pile of rags, and
knelt at the prisoner’s side, touching his shoulder. “El –
Grey eyes opened slowly, and blinked. The pupils were wide in the
near darkness. “You took your time,” Elendur whispered.
“Hush. I have come to rescue you,” Elatan replied.
Removing his cloak, he wrapped it around the prisoner’s body
carefully. “Come. We must get you out of here. Can
As Elendur pushed himself upright, he nodded slowly. “I can walk,” he
Together they crept back to the door, again waiting to ensure that the
tunnels outside were deserted. “We have a long way to go,”
Elatan whispered. “The halls and tunnels above are lit by
firelight and flames, and are guarded. We will not be safe until
we are away from here.”
Elendur merely nodded. “Then the sooner we leave …” he breathed.
“ … the better,” Elatan agreed.
Slipping out through the door into the dark tunnel, Elatan led
the way as they climbed the steps, up and along the passageway, out of
the dimly lit maze and back to the shadowy, arched doorway.
He halted in dismay. The hall was busier now, buzzing with orcs
and other fell creatures, and at the far end – there sat the lord of
this place. Stepping back into the shadow, Elatan turned to his
companion. “Look – do you see?” He pointed. “It is Melkor
Elendur peered around the edge of the arch, then glanced at his
rescuer. “Melkor?” he questioned.
“The lord of Utumno!” It was clear that crossing the hall
as before would be impossible. They would have to skirt around
the edges, and hope to avoid detection. Elatan turned to his
companion. “Follow me,” he whispered. “This way.”
Pressing himself against the walls, he guided Elendur towards the
doorway. The red glow of firelight cast eerie, leaping shadows,
and they remained safe and unseen, all eyes still fixed on Melkor.
In the welcome shadow of a heavy bench they sank to the floor, still
tense. They watched silently for a moment, then Elendur nudged
his companion. “We must go …”
“ … while they are still occupied. Yes, I know. Wait – I
will see if the way ahead is clear. Stay here.” Leaving the
shelter of the bench, Elatan moved a few paces to the door, listened
intently, then peered out. A guard stood at the far end of
the outer hallway, but he was facing in the opposite direction.
At the other end of the tunnel steps led upwards to safety and freedom.
If they moved swiftly, they could reach less populated regions, and
might still escape detection. With a final glance at the guard,
he turned back to his companion.
He ran into a hard, unyielding body that towered over him. A
voice spoke, sounding like the thunder of doom.
“Well. What have we here?”
Elatan looked at Elendur, and saw the same dismay there that he felt in
his heart. To have come so close to success, and to then fail –
it had been a desperate gamble, yet had so nearly succeeded. He
sighed, then decided to risk all on one last, forlorn chance.
“Erestor, can you pretend you have not seen us? Please? I
have to save Elendur – I mean Elrohir – from Utumno.”
“The cellars. Glorfindel was telling us all about the Pits of
Utumno today, and I told El that it was his turn to be a prisoner, and
my turn to rescue him. Glorfindel said that Elatan was a brave
elven warrior, and Elendur was his friend, but Melkor captured
him. So I’m Elatan …”
“And Elrohir is Elendur. Yes, I see.” Erestor stared at
them, his mouth twitching slightly. “Elrohir, where are your
clothes? You are wearing naught but your undergarments!”
Elrohir wrapped the cloak a little more closely around himself.
“Glorfindel said that prisoners were stripped naked,” he
“I see. So this is Glorfindel’s doing? I would have thought
he had learned his lesson after telling you of the Balrog.” He
sighed. “Very well. I have seen nothing. Begone with
As the twins dashed towards the stairs, Elladan glanced back at
Erestor. “You will not tell Melkor?”
Elrohir pointed back to the Hall of Fire. “Ada. We are
supposed to be in bed!”
Erestor’s shout of laughter followed them up the stairs as they headed
for the sanctuary of their bedroom.