"And the two Silmarils which remained to Morgoth were taken from his crown, and they shone unsullied beneath the sky; and Eönwë took them, and guarded them But Maedhros and Maglor would not hearken, and they prepared, though now with weariness and loathing, to attempt in despair the fulfillment of their oath And they disguised themselves, and came in the night to the camp of Eönwë, and crept into the place where the Silmarils were guarded."
- Quenta Silmarillion, "Of The Voyage of Eärendil"
"They're not here," said Maglor.
"I said they're not here."
"That's impossible." Maedhros reached up to brush his hair back, having ripped off his stolen helmet the instant they'd passed into shadow. "They have to be here."
"I'm telling you, Maedhros, they're not here." Maglor almost slammed the lid of the casket in which they'd last seen the gems of their father Fëanor, but thought the better of it at the last moment. "Neither of them."
"Maybe they've been hidden?"
Maglor gave his brother a disgusted look. "They're Silmarils. There's one in the sky and we can still see its light."
"All right, maybe they buried them?" Maedhros glanced around the tent hurriedly, taking up his sword again in his left hand.
"Don't be an ass, Maedhros."
"Look, I'm not the one saying they're not here. You can't see them and I can't see them, so what option does that leave? Either they're buried or-"
"Or someone else has them," Maglor said, the old, familiar, dreadful weariness settling over him. "Eönwë probably has them with him-"
"-And set this place up as a trap," finished Maedhros, fingers gripping the hilt so tightly his knuckles blenched. "I should've known- Maglor, we have to get out of here!"
His brother nodded, setting the casket down hastily and slipping to the far side of the tent. There Maglor peered through a gap in the fabric, and swore.
"How many?" asked Maedhros tensely, twitching a bit of fabric aside himself.
"Ten, but they're only wearing ceremonial armour."
"Five on my side." He closed his eyes, loosening his sword in his sheath.
"Maedhros?" asked his brother's voice.
"What do you think Father will say, when we meet him at last in the Halls?"
He would've liked to answer, but the words failed to come. At last, he only shook his head.
"That's what I thought," said Maglor sadly. "Ready?"
"Ready," Maedhros said, and they burst forth, swords in hand.
The guards were there right enough, encircling the tent, careless as if nothing had happened. The brothers' clamour caused several of the Vanyarin warriors to turn and draw weapons-
"Hold!" cried the voice of Eönwë, mightiest of Maiar. "Hold, I say!"
To the brothers' surprise, the guards halted. Eönwë strode forward, one hand up, palm out.
"Stay where you are," growled Maedhros, sword at the ready. "Or, Manwë's Herald or no, we will hew you down-"
"There will be no talk of hewing or standing this day," answered Eönwë.
Maglor's lips thinned; he sank back on his heels, eyeing the line of guards on either side of the herald.
"Hear me now," were Eönwë's words, "for I will ask this question of you once only."
Maedhros gave a dry, bitter laugh.
Eönwë's eyes narrowed; he drew himself up to his full height, splendid and terrible. He looked down upon the brothers then, and in a voice as dreadful as thunder he demanded, "Where are the Silmarils?"
"You have heard me! The Jewels- where are they?"
At his elbow, Maglor coughed. "Come again?" he said weakly.
"What have you done with them?"
"Ah- we. . . rather thought you had them, actually." Maglor actually attempted a smile- a feeble one, but a smile nonetheless.
"I certainly don't! If I did, do you think I'd be asking you about them?"
"Look, we just got here! Do we look like we've got the wretched things?"
"They're not in MY possession, son of Fëanor! Melkor's still in chains and won't be getting out any Age soon. That leaves- let's see- you!"
Maedhros snorted. "If we had our father's jewels," he said, "do you think we'd even still be here?"
"He's right, you know," said a new voice- low, raspy, harsh. "Dunno about you, but if I were sneaking into a place like this to steal the prize of the longest war in the history of the world, I sure wouldn't hang about after. Not exactly practical thinking, that."
Slowly, as if tugged by an irresistible force, the heads of all three disputants turned.
The speaker emerged from the shadows that lay about the camp. He was clad in mail, and bore a sword; but there his resemblance to any of the warriors about him ended. If his armour were of mithril, Maedhros would, personally, cut off his remaining hand and eat it. Steel, maybe. Battered breastplate, mismatched greaves, mail shirt patched and held together with rings of at least three different sizes. His helmet was shoved back from his face-
"Here," whispered Maglor out one side of his mouth, "isn't that a Man? And not one of the Edain, either."
It had to be. No Eldar, no matter what Kindred, could ever look so thoroughly off. Oh, he had the dark hair, he had the eye colour, but even the most woefully lost of Moriquendi bore up under the weight of years better than this. From the greying at the temples to the scraggly stubble that ranged across much of his face, to the lines at the corners of his eyes, every last thing about him screamed 'mortal!'. He grinned at the watchers, a rolled-up stump of some kind of leaf clenched firmly in his teeth despite being afire at one end. "Why is it," he said to no one in particular, "that no one ever thinks these things through, eh? Answer me that."
Eönwë's lips pressed together, and his eyes rolled heavenward. "Good evening, Vimes," he said with weary formality.
It was not a name of any of the Edain, the brothers knew that. Nor was it any name of Bór's people, the Easterlings. Beyond that, they knew precious little of the names and ways of Men; and so all they did, really, was look at each other and silently mouth, "'Vimes'?"
"Evening." The Man tipped his helmet back a bit farther in a desultory imitation of a gesture of respect. "Interrupting, am I?"
"Yes," said Eönwë, his tone clipped, curt.
"Sorry," said the Man, who did not seem sorry at all. "Couldn't help but overhear, see. I'm pretty sure there's a couple of those orc things up in the mountains who caught that question of yours."
"Vimes, the Elder King has already spoken of his gratitude to you for your valour in the pits of Angband. You will have your reward come the morning-"
"Wait," said Maedhros, staring hard at the Man. "What is this of Angband?"
The Man's eyes slid over to Maedhros, calculating, considering. Finally he jerked his chin at Eönwë. "His boss," he said, "this Elder King of yours- Manwë, is it?- he had some trouble rousting a fellow name of Morgoth out of the Iron Hells. Said he sent his best warrior in after him, but wouldn't you know Tulkas got distracted on the way in? Too many monsters to fight, or something." He snorted. "So what does he do but come looking for me, nice and safe and polishing the family heirlooms at home in a different world entirely, and say 'oo, help me, Mr. Samuel Vimes, I'm in need of a policeman and no mistake'."
"He didn't say that," Eönwë protested.
"You tell him what happened, then." Vimes waited; Eönwë remained silent. "Didn't think so. Next thing I know, I'm surrounded by dead dragons, standing at the head of a bloody huge army of chaps in weird armour and funny ears. And none of 'em, not one, is willing to go into that Angband place and clap the irons on the bastard who caused all the fuss to begin with."
Vimes shrugged his shoulders. "Asked what the hell was going on, of course, but you lot are worse than Nobby Nobbs when it comes to explanations. All I knew for sure was, there was a war over and one man to be called on the carpet for it. Nobody told me he was a god, thank you very much."
Maedhros struggled to speak; Maglor managed first. "So- you-"
"This Man," said Eönwë firmly, "is the one who found Melkor at last, and who saw to it that he was bound with Angainor. Were it not for him, the Silmarils would yet be lost beneath the Earth. You owe him much gratitude, sons of Fëanor- as do the Valar, and all who yet dwell in Arda. And this gratitude will be repaid tomorrow, thank you, Vimes?" He made a slight shooing motion with both hands.
"I don't think so." The wry, unpleasant humour that had been in the Man's face moments before vanished, replaced by a sudden iron grimness. "See, I heard you before. Looking for those Silmaril things, are you?"
"Yes," said Maglor suddenly. "Yes, we are, they're ours-"
"They're not," said Eönwë. "Not until the Valar have adjudged them to you."
"They are," snapped Maedhros. "We swore an oath-"
"And what you did in the keeping of that oath is absolutely inexcusable! You have no right to such sacred objects-"
"The work of our father's hands belongs to us! Not to those who would destroy it to repair their own folly-"
Vimes coughed. Eönwë stubbornly ignored him. "Given what the Valar have done to retrieve the Jewels from Morgoth, when you and all your brothers failed-"
Maedhros crossed his arms over his chest. "Oh, bringing that up, eh? And how many centuries did the Powers sit on their thumbs in Valimar until Eärendil showed up to ask for help, hmm?"
"At least he asked! You Noldor betrayed, murdered, stole-"
Vimes coughed again; Maglor threw him an apologetic look. Maedhros was glaring at Eönwë with pure murder in his eyes. "Only because you were too fearful of Morgoth to lend us aid! Had you but-"
"AHEM," said Vimes loudly.
Maedhros swung around to face the Man. "WHAT?"
For answer, Vimes held up a leather pouch. It swung as if it were quite heavy, and the line of it suggested it had been patched more than once.
"Yeswhatisthatsupposedtomean?" snapped Maedhros. For once he and Eönwë looked as if they were in perfect agreement.
Vimes grinned, and casually pulled the neck of the pouch open. A fountain of silver-gold light more brilliant than the Sun poured forth, blazing in a column of fire that shot straight up to the skies.
Eönwë gasped. The Vanyar warriors cried aloud. The brothers staggered backwards, Maedhros momentarily forgetting and trying to shield his eyes with his long-lost right hand. When the searing purple blotches faded from his vision, Vimes had closed up the bag and tucked it away somewhere. "Right," he said. "Now that I've got your attention. . ."
"Give," said Eönwë.
"Those," said Maglor.
"BACK," said Maedhros, and swung his sword.
The clash of metal on metal echoed through the camp of the host of the Valar. The Man had held off Maedhros' blow with a weapon of his own- an axe that shone as bright and cold as Fingolfin's sword Ringil. Only barely held it off, true, but that he had held it off at all-
A twitch of motion caught Maglor's eye. "Maedhros! Look out!" he cried, and drew his own sword- but Eönwë had smashed his brother's weapon aside with no more effort than it took to swat a fly. The Man sprang up and back, eyeing Eönwë with animal wariness, his axe still in his hand.
"The Jewels, Vimes," said Eönwë as he leveled his sword at Maedhros. "Return them to their proper place, if you please."
"You know," said the Man, still watching, "I don't think I will."
"The Jewels, Vimes," Eönwë repeated. Maedhros was watching the Herald, his face as still as a becalmed sea. "It's what you're here for."
"Funny thing, that," said Vimes. He tilted his axe, catching a gleam of starlight along the edge of the blade. "I was under the impression Manwë brought me here and crammed my head full of your language so that I could make an arrest. Am I right? 'Go into Angband and bring out Melkor so we can judge him and put him to proper punishment', that's how he put it."
"If you think for even one instant that you have any claim WHATSOEVER to the Silmarils-"
"I don't." Vimes smiled. Even in that dim light Maglor could see the look never reached the man's eyes. "Frankly, I'd say you could have 'em and welcome, but you know? That's not really up to me."
Eönwë turned to stare at the Man; Maedhros took advantage of the situation to scramble out of the Herald's range, standing beside his brother once more. "Explain," Eönwë said curtly.
"Glad to." He reached up and took the foul burning thing from his mouth, though he still held the axe in his other hand. "See, your Elder King gave me jurisdiction-"
"Sorry? Not one of your words? All right, then." Vimes rocked back on his heels. "He gave me the right and the duty to act as a policeman in his realm. Which, I'm told, is the entirety of this 'Arda' of yours. Not a soldier, a policeman. If these things were just prizes of war I'd be free to drop 'em and walk away, but they're not. This Morgoth, he's yet to be judged, am I right?"
"Technically," said Eönwë, whose mood had been soured even further by the realization that he no longer had a Fëanorian at sword-point.
"Right. So, your Valar are going to sit in judgment of him in this Ring of Doom thing of yours for- oh, all kinds of things, right? Disturbing the peace, vandalism, conspiracy to commit affray, fraud and deceptions, murder, theft" He patted his breastplate. "Of these, specifically. Other things, yeah, but mostly it's these jewels that you want him for."
"The Silmarils in which the fates of Arda are bound, yes," said Eönwë.
"The Silmarils of Fëanor, crafted by my father in the Day before Days," said Maedhros.
"Right, right." The Man waved a hand dismissively. "He stole 'em, so I'm told. That makes them evidence."
"I suppose," said Eönwë, who had lowered his sword and was watching Vimes with the greatest of suspicion.
"And now there's a matter of dispute over whose jewels these actually are, right? Between the two surviving sons of the last legitimate owner-"
"Thank you," said Maglor.
"And the ones who made it possible for them to be recovered from the thief?"
"That would be the Valar, yes," said Eönwë.
Vimes nodded. "Tell me something," he said, looking up to Eönwë. "How's that going to be decided?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"How d'you determine who's the rightful owner of these jewels of yours?"
"He doesn't," said Maglor, pushing forward again. "Manwë and Varda and the other Valar have said they will judge my brother and I, and decide our fate- and that of the Silmarils."
"Ah. Right. So you've got a highly coveted set of jewels that's key evidence in two trials, and judges who stand to keep that set of jewels if they find the defendants guilty?" The Man raised his brows. "D'you know the term 'conflict of interest'?"
Eönwë growled at the implication in Vimes' tone. Maglor looked thoughtful.
"Mmm. Sacred objects, you said?" Vimes looked expectantly at Eönwë. "Not for the hands of murderers, liars, thieves, things like that?"
It was Maedhros' turn to growl now, and Eönwë's to nod.
"Is there anyone else who can judge this case? Anyone at all?"
"None save Ilúvatar," said Maglor, "who dwells beyond all confines of this world. We swore by his name, as well as by Varda and Manwë, and can never be free of our oath save if he release us."
"Figures," said Vimes dryly. He turned, glancing over his shoulder. Sticking two fingers in his mouth he gave a piercing whistle; then he turned back. "All right," he said. "Here's the deal: I'm not giving these back to any of you lot."
Three swords were out and pointed at him before the last word fell from his lips.
Vimes looked down at the weapons, then up at the wielders. "I'm not keeping 'em, either," he said, "so put those away, all right? These Jewels of yours are evidence now. "
"If you just wanted 'em recovered then you should've tapped Cohen the bloody Barbarian, all right? Only you'd've had a hell of a time getting them out of his hands once he'd taken the crown from Morgoth. Your Manwë called for a policeman, and a policeman he got! There's rules about this kind of thing." He stuck the burning thing back in his teeth. "Don't invite me to your party if you don't want me to dance, lads."
"But," said Maglor slowly. "You say you're not keeping them?"
"Too right I'm not."
"And you say you're not giving them back," added Eönwë.
Maedhros was still fuming, and did not speak. But the question hung in the air, unspoken; and Vimes answered it anyway. "What I'm doing," he said, "is putting the evidence away. Putting it in the very capable hands of an uninvolved party who has no interest whatsoever in the damned things- and, I might add, from whose realm nothing has ever been stolen."
"Who are you talking about?" Maedhros asked at last.
I BELIEVE HE IS REFERRING TO ME.
The guards fell away on either side like leaves at the stroke of a sword. Even Eönwë paled, falling back a pace at the sound of that voice. It spoke no more, but there came instead the sound of hoofbeats. They were the hoof-beats of a magnificent white horse, fair as sea-foam, caparisoned in silver and black. He might almost have been taken for Nahar, if it were not that his rider could never be taken for Oromë. That rider was hooded and robed all in black, and his hands-
"They're just bones!" whispered Maglor to his brother. "Am I right? Are they-"
"Just bones. Yes," Maedhros answered, equally quietly. Something about that rider had seized him with a nameless dread.
I BEG YOUR PARDON, said the rider as the horse came to a halt. BUT I HARDLY THINK THE WORD 'JUST' APPLIES. CONSIDERING.
Vimes grinned, waving his axe in the rider's direction. "Gentlemen," he said as the rider dismounted, "meet the Silmarils' new custodian."
"Excuse me?" cried the brothers together. Eönwë gaped.
The figure straightened, patting the horse's flank with one skeletal hand. Maglor doubted he could have been any less than twenty hands tall- more, most likely, but in the dark it was hard to say. As he turned from the horse towards Vimes, he did not so much move as stalk, striding across the ground with a peculiar implacability-
"This may not be!" cried Maedhros, springing forward. The figure stopped. "Maglor, our Oath-"
"Was to 'Pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends of the World Vala, Demon, Elf or Man as yet unborn, or any creature, great or small, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days, whoso should hold or take or keep a Silmaril from our possession'," quoted Vimes. "Am I right? That's what you swore?"
"How do you know these things?" Maglor wailed.
"I'm a policeman. It's my job to find out what you don't want me to know." He stepped forward, thrusting the handle of his axe through a loop at his belt. "Anyway, it doesn't matter, because none of it applies."
The brothers looked to each other, and then to Vimes. The skin just under Maedhros' right eye twitched.
"This, lads," said Vimes, "is what we in the business call an 'anthropomorphic personification'. Not a man or elf, and never has been. Not a demon, by any stretch of the word."
I SHOULD CERTAINLY HOPE NOT.
"And most definitely not a Vala, am I right?" Vimes looked up at the hooded figure. "I mean, you'd know that, wouldn't you?"
NOT A VALA, NO.
It occurred to Maglor suddenly that he could not recall hearing its words. Oh, it spoke- but the words arrived in his thought without stopping for anything so crude as his ears.
NOR ANY OTHER SORT OF CREATURE, AT LEAST AS YOU DEFINE IT. THAT ISN'T THE KIND OF THING I'D FORGET. The figure turned, its gaze sweeping the flinching Vanyar, pausing for a moment on Eönwë, and coming at last to rest upon Maedhros and Maglor. They could make out nothing beneath the hood save two brilliant blue pin-pricks of fire.
"So what are you, then?" said Vimes, with the air of a mother prompting her child to thank his uncle for the lovely gift.
It reached up, tucking back the hood slightly. Beneath it there was nothing but a skull, and just barely visible above the black robes, the bones of its neck. As one, the brothers shuddered. I AM DEATH, it said. I BELIEVE IN THIS WORLD YOU WOULD KNOW ME AS 'THE LAST GIFT OF ILÚVATAR TO MEN'.
"Oh, you have got to be joking!" cried Eönwë. "This? This is-"
YOU WERE EXPECTING SOMEONE TALLER? Death asked mildly.
Eönwë fell silent.
Vimes just smiled grimly, and produced the patched bag from beneath his breastplate. Death stretched out one bony hand for it.
"Wait a moment," said Maglor.
Skeleton and Man alike stopped. YES? said Death.
"What are you going to do with them? I mean-"
THEY WILL BE QUITE SAFE IN MY REALM, said Death. MY COUNTRY LIES BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF ALL MORTAL WORLDS, AND IS SUBJECT TO NEITHER TIME NOR DECAY. GRANTED, THE KITTENS MAY TRY TO GET AT THEM, BUT I AM LED TO UNDERSTAND THEY ARE UNBREAKABLE. SO THAT'S ALL RIGHT THEN.
"What's a 'kitten'?" whispered Maedhros surreptitiously.
"Very small cat," answered Maglor. "I think."
"Ah. And they're unbreakable, are they?"
"He means the Silmarils, Maedhros."
THEY WILL REMAIN INVIOLATE, I ASSURE YOU, continued the hooded skeleton. I'VE GOT NO USE FOR THEM ANYWAY. AND IN THE HOUR THAT YOUR ILÚVATAR MAKES HIS WILL IN THIS MATTER KNOWN, I WILL YIELD THEM UP.
The brothers looked at each other, and at Eönwë. Eönwë shrugged helplessly. "It's not like I've got Manwë's voice speaking into my ear, you know," he said defensively.
"If he's not happy about it, you can blame it on me," Vimes offered. "Seeing how it was me Manwë hired to get the damn job done in the first place. All right?"
"Oh, for- do what you want, I don't care any more," snapped Eönwë.
"Right, then," said Vimes, and handed the Silmarils over to Death.
"What became of the Jewels after none may say; for though they went beyond the World indeed, they ceased not, but went on. Neither Manwë, nor Mandos, nor any other of the Valar knows what may have befallen the two Silmarils since that time; but they are not destroyed, for such would have been known. Indeed, it is said that they will not return to Arda until all the world be broken and remade at the word of Ilúvatar.
"Maedhros and Maglor the sons of Fëanor yielded themselves then unto Eönwë, that they might be brought before the Valar for judgment. But it was said, on their return into the West, that the judgment had been removed from the hands of Manwë and might not be pronounced by any save Ilúvatar himself. They abide yet in that Realm, though separate from all the Kindreds of the Eldar, awaiting the day of their doom.
"As for the Man, Vimes. . ."
Sam Vimes stuck out among the gathered hosts of the Edain like a catfish among cats. They spoke little to him, which was just fine so far as he was concerned; Manwë had only seen fit to stuff his head with a language called Quenya, and that didn't seem to be what the humans here spoke. Or if they did, the accent was so thick as to be absolutely impenetrable. Besides, he was too busy honing the edge of his axe. That strike from the one-handed elf (nothing like any elf he'd read about, except in terms of attitude) had left a hell of a ding in it. He'd have to congratulate the Low King on the ability of dwarven craftsmanship to stand up to real testing, when he got home.
If he got home. Word had it that all Men who had helped in this bloody war were being rewarded together. Something about an island...
Sam shook his head, examining the blade. Well, that was the best he could do with the tools he had. It would have to manage. He thrust the thing through his makeshift belt-loop and headed out in search of someone who could answer his questions.
He found Eönwë first. The Herald of Manwë was sending a blond, shaggy-headed fellow away as he arrived. "Ah, Vimes," said Eönwë expansively. "Good to see you. I've had word from Manwë, and he approves of your course of action."
"'course he does," said Vimes, though inwardly he was thinking: not like he had a choice, unless he feels like trying to get the damn shinies away from Death on his own. "It's what he hired me for, isn't it?"
"Yes, about that. . ." Eönwë smiled. "It is the judgment of the Valar that you deserve a share in the reward of the Edain equal to any one of the Three Houses."
"Gosh," said Vimes dryly, "that's generous. The Edain only outnumber me what, several tens of thousands to one?"
"You misunderstand," said Eönwë. "A share equal to that granted to an entire House."
"You are not the only one capable of taking others by surprise, Vimes." Eönwë chuckled, watching the Man's reaction. "The one who braved the Hells of Iron, who accomplished what not even Tulkas the Strong might do- to him belongs a full share in the Land of Gift, that even now is being raised above the waves. The island will of course be a mortal land and subject to-"
"No," said Vimes at last.
"There is nothing the Valar can do about that, Vimes. The Doom of Men is not for any save Ilúvatar to withdraw. I should think you would know that."
"I don't mean that," Vimes said, shaking his head rapidly. "I mean I don't want it. This island thing, I mean."
Eönwë raised one eyebrow. "Pardon me?"
"I don't belong here," he said. "You know that, and I know that. I've got a wife and a son back in Ankh-Morpork-"
"Bring them, of course. They should share equally in your reward. Manwë can arrange it."
"I'm the head of the City Watch-"
"Your men-at-arms? Them, too, of course."
"I've got an entire bloody city to look after, you prat! " Vimes snapped. "Ankh-Morpork! You know? The place your great damn Elder King snatched me out of? How're you going to move that, eh? Even if you could, you sure as hell wouldn't want 'em here. You seem to think food should be edible and rivers should be liquid."
"Never mind. The point is, you don't know Ankh-Morpork and I daresay you're better off for it- but it's my city, damn it, and it's where I'm supposed to be. Not here, however nice this Arda place might be now that Morgoth is gone. If that's your reward, you can keep it. All I want is to get back home and never hear from you lot again, all right? That's all. Send me home."
Eönwë rubbed at his face with one hand, expression confused. "I've. . . that's a new one on me," he said at last. "Usually they go the other way."
"Asking for more, you mean?"
"Yes, well, usually 'they' means people who've got a stake in their world. Naturally they're going to want more."
"I see. . ."
Vimes folded his arms over his chest, glaring at the Herald. The overall effect was a bit spoilt by his inability to locate a razor that morning, and by the fact that he was still wearing the clothes in which he'd left Ankh-Morpork.
"Look," said Eönwë at last, dropping his hand. "I'm supposed to give you a bloody great reward, all right? Nobody's ever done what you did for us. Nobody. If I don't come up with something to give you, it's not going to look good. I realise you technically stole the Silmarils but Mandos says they're just fine where they are, so I can't actually reduce your reward for that. What am I supposed to do if I can't send you and your House to Andor?"
Vimes settled back on his heels. He knew what he could expect from Vetinari in a case like this, but- "Give me a minute," he said. "I'll think of something."
Eönwë nodded. "Take your time," he said. "By the way- might I have a look at your weapon, there?"
"Huh? This?" Vimes looked down at the dwarven axe. "Sure. Why?"
"You held off Maedhros with it," said Eönwë as Sam carefully passed him the axe. He turned the weapon over, examining it from every angle, even down to the pick. "That was a blade of the Noldor, wielded by one of their mightiest warriors. Among all the Eldar there are no finer smiths and craftsmen. Who made your axe, if I might ask?"
"Dwarves," said Vimes. "They said it was a gift, to be an heirloom of my house. I had it in my hand when Manwë brought me here."
"Ah," said Eönwë. "The Naugrim are mighty smiths indeed. Maedhros had long been their friend, you know. Learned much of his craft from them. Most of his armies' weapons came of their making, I do believe." He hefted the axe. "A truly fine weapon."
"Isn't it, though?"
"Indeed," said Eönwë, returning it at last, handle-first.
As Sam reached down to take it, the Herald's words sunk in.
"Think of something?" Eönwë asked.
"Maedhros' army," said Sam. "Not using their stuff any more, are they?"
"Wouldn't work," Eönwë said. For the first time there was something like sympathy in his voice. "The balance'd be all wrong. You saw the proportions those two had. Can you honestly tell me a blade or a spear tempered to suit the likes of them would do for someone of your own build?"
Vimes nodded, sighed, and started to put the axe away.
"On the other hand-"
"Well, it's not as if the Noldor are allowed to come back to the Undying Lands any more, after what they did. We've got to give them something to do. You did mention an entire City Watch, am I right?"
"Yeah. . ."
"I think we can take care of your armoury for, oh, how does the rest of time sound?"
Vimes gave Eönwë a very, very long look. Eventually, he said, "We could do with a bit of new armour, yeah-"
"We'll start with your own."
"Good, 'cos this lot's about had it. Can you do it so it'll be fit to wear on formal occasions? You should see what Sybil makes me put on."
"I assure you, Vimes, it will be done. For you, and for the rest of the City Watch of this. . . Ankh-Morpork."
Vimes nodded. "Then throw in some really proper boots, the kind that'll keep your feet dry but let you feel the ground through the soles, and you've got a deal."