What do you think you are doing?
His voice took her by surprise, but Eowyn immediately spun round,
sword already raised in the Ox guard, its tip aimed straight
at Thorkell bogsveigirs throat.
Hey! The Beorning, still partially hidden by the
undergrowth, raised one hand in a gesture of surrender.
Drop it! said Eowyn, angrily.
She took a step forwardthe man retreatedDrop
whatever it is that you are holding in your other hand.
A spade, said Thorkell, incredulously. It is
just a spade
Then drop it.
With a theatrical sigh, Thorkell did as he was told.
Eowyn took another step, adjusting the angle of her blade to
maintain its position, tip pressing into his skin. What
did you think you would do? Hit me over the head with it?
The Beorning frowned. What?
You knew that you could not have me any other way.
Have you? For a moment he simply stared at
her, wide-eyed and open-mouthed; then he burst out laughing, his
body shaking so hard that he risked impaling himself on her sword.
It would take a braver man than I to try to fuck yougods!
He took another step backwards. I would be safer fucking
Eowyn was unconvinced. Then why were you following me?
I was not following you. I just happened to spot you cavorting
about here, all by yourselfyou stupid woman!
I am still your Lady, Master Bowswayer, said Eowyn,
coldly, and the warrior who has a sword at your throat.
Alright, then. I happened to spot you here, my stupid Lady,
replied Thorkell. And if there is one place between The
Carrock and the Falls of Rauros where you should not be
dancing about alone, it is here, where the Orcs come to hunt the
wolves of southern Greenwood.
There have been no confirmed reports of Orcs in this region
for months, said Eowyn, lowering her blade. I do not
believe there is any danger.
It would only take one stray Orc, said Thorkell,
He made an obscene gesture with his forearm.
So you rushed in to protect mewith your spade.
Eowyn slid her sword back into its scabbard.
On my way down to the river, the man replied, speaking
slowly, with mock patience, to dig up some angelica for
my latest lord and masterElros the CookI took the
time and trouble to warn you to get your foolish arse back up
to the camp. He retrieved the spade. And, whilst we
are on the subject, let me make it clear, once and for all, thatalthough
it is a choice enough piece of arse, especially in those tight
leggingsit is hardly worth having my balls cut off for.
Despite herself, Eowyn smiled. If your word was worth anything
at all, Master Bowswayer, she said, I would have you
swear to that.
Too bad, then, that itwhat was that
They had both spun round, startled by the same noise. Eowyn drew
her sword. Thorkell lifted the spade above his shoulder in a two-handed
grip. Whatever was coming through the treesand it was too
noisy to be elves, or wolves, or even men with any knowledge
of woodcraftit was heading straight for them. Eowyn listened
hard to the grunts, snuffles and occasional yelps. There
are at least three of them, she whispered, maybe five
Shit, muttered Thorkell.
Where is your bow?
Can you climb up there? She nodded towards one of
Thorkell frowned at the smooth, bare trunkits lowest branches
were at least three feet higher than his head, but the noises
were growing louderYes! Come on! He grabbed
Eowyns arm and dragged her beneath the treesheathe
your sword!and made his hands into a stirrup.
Eowyn stepped into his hands and, as he lifted her, grasped the
tree trunkand then the lowest branchand then scrambled
up, somehow getting one leg overand mounted the branch like
Lift your feet, cried Thorkell, or they will
drag you down by them. Here, take this!
He held up the spade. Eowyn struggled to her knees and, holding
on to the tree with one hand, took it from him. Come on,
she gasped. Hurry!
Thorkell glanced over his shoulder. It was Orcs alrightthere
was no mistaking those noises nowbut they had not yet caught
He backed up a few paces, took a short run, and
The cry went up just as the Beorning caught hold; andas
he dangled, kicking his legs, desperately trying to get his feet
up higherthe Orcs broke cover.
Eowyn grabbed a handful of his jerkin.
No! Get backagainst the trunk! He kicked again,
hauling himself up on straining armsand his right foot grazed
the barkbut the first Orc had already caught hold of his
left legand then one of its fellows grasped his thigh, and
pulledand Thorkell lost his grip
The leather slipped from Eowyns fingers. She lungedNo
she was too late.
In horror she watched the expression on Thorkell bogsveigirs
face turn from hope, to dismay, to fear, as he was dragged down
from her, and thrown to the ground, and the Orcs fell upon him