Legolas slung Eomers hunting horn over his
shoulder and set off down the trail, scanning the ground for Eowyns
The sky was dark now andthough still convinced that Eowyn
had simply gone somewhere private to relieve herselfhe was
starting to worry. She does not see well in the dark, he
thought. She could easily get lost. If I do not find her soon,
I will go back for one of Eomers dogs
elven hearing caught the distant sound of her voice, saying, angrily,
Legolas broke into a run.
Recognising the second voiceThorkell bogsveigir!Legolas
reached for the hunting hornbut immediately changed his
mind. By the time Eomer comes, he thought, I will have
dealt with the Beorning myself. Say something else, melmenyato
help me find you
Drop whatever it is your are holding in your other hand!
Yes! Legolas veered left and plunged down the riverbank,
darting between the trees, leaping over rocks and fallen branches.
A spade, he heard Thorkell bogsveigir say,
it is just a spade
And something about the way he said itwith genuine astonishmenttook
Legolas by surprise, and his senses, which from the moment he
had heard Eowyns voice had been directed entirely at her,
suddenly widened focus, and detected something else.
Something between him and
He ducked aside as a long, ragged blade, thrown from somewhere
up ahead, flew past his shoulder and hit the ground.
His hands rose automatically, seizing the handles of his white
knives, and he drew them, whirling them into alignment.
There were five of the brutes, directly in front of himthree
small and quick but relatively weak; the fourth a heavily-muscled,
slow-witted creature; the fifth a big Uruk Hai, clad in steel
armour. Weak at the neck, thought Legolas, beneath the
arms, and just above the belly
He cleared his mind and let his instincts take over, launching
a spinning attack that took him in close to the first Orche
thrust both blades into its chestpropelled him under its
flailing arms and positioned him before the second beasthe
slit its scrawny throat with a snarlturned him full-circle
to face the thirdquickly adjusting his grip, he sank his
knives into its windpipespun him on, inside the Uruk Hais
guardhe found the chink in its armour and ripped out its
Eowyn! Her voice pierced his battle fury as nothing else
could have done and, even as he dispatched the final Orc, his
elven senses pinpointed his wife and reached out, beyond her cries
of fear, to analyse her situation. Five more Orcs! Legolas
sheathed his knives and ran, raising the hunting horn to
his lips and calling for Eomer with three long blasts.
As he drew closer, one sickening sound, suddenly separating itself
from the rest, filled his earsthe sound of bone splintering,
the sound of a skull being beaten to a pulpand his step
faltered as his heart lurched in despair.
No! EOWYN! No, NO!
Then he heard her voice, sounding small and uncertain butThank
the Valar!proving that she was still alive, saying,
Thorkell?; and, his spirit soaring with hope once
more, he ran into the clearing, and found her.
She was lying on the ground, sprawled across the Beorning, and
Legolas fell to his knees and pulled her from the mans embrace
andbarely noticing the expression on Thorkells facehe
crushed her to his chest.
They were going to rape us, Lassui, she whispered.
I know, my darling.
Thorkell stopped them.
Legolas glanced, over her shoulder, at the Beorning.
We both stopped them, said the man, struggling to
sit up. She saved my life, with the spade.
We must move, said Legolas. More are coming
andmelmenya? He had noticed her injured hands
and, quickly examining her, had found more bloodstains, on her
leggings. What happened?
It is nothing, said Eowyn. I just slipped.
Hugging her tightly, Legolas turned back to the man. I
dare not risk telling the Orcs where we are by sounding the horn
again. Can you walk?
Thorkell shook his head. No. Then he added, Leave
me. Get her to safety
I can walk, Lassui, said Eowyn. We can
both help him.
Oh, melmenya! His heart brimming with conflicting emotionswith
pride at her bravery and fear for her safetyLegolas kissed
her forehead. Then, releasing her, he scrambled to his feet and
helped her up and, with difficulty, they both raised Thorkell
It is my ankle, gasped the Beorning. It will
not take any weight
He started at a sudden soundof
splintering woodsomewhere nearby. They are too close,
he panted, leave me.
Legolas glanced at Eowynbut she shook her head.
No, said the elf, firmly. We will stay together.
They had hobbled less than ten yards when the first Orc broke
cover. Fresh meat, it growledshouting to its
comrades behind it, Come on! Get em!
But Legolas had already lowered Thorkell to the ground andhaving
nothing to lose nowhe unslung the hunting horn and dropped
it in the Beornings lap. Blow for all you are worth,
he ordered, drawing his white knives.
Give me your bow, cried Thorkell. I cannot
walk but I can still shoot!
The elf hesitatedfor just as long as it took Eowyn, with
bloodied fingers, to drag her sword from its scabbardthen
he pulled his Galadhrim bow from its strap and gave it to the
Beorning with a handful of arrows.
Stay behind me, melmenya, he called, advancing on
the Orcs, keep your back to my back!
Thorkell bogsveigir put the horn to his lips and blew one long,
Then he took up the great elven war bow, andwith grim,
human determinationstraining muscle and sinew with every
draw, he picked off Orc after Orc, keeping Eowyn safe until help
arrived in a posse of men and dogs (and one furious dwarf), who
came streaming through the trees and began slaughtering the enemy
like a pack of terriers killing rats.
An hour later
Do not be a baby, said Eowyn.
It is cold, said the Beorning, glaring at
The compress should prevent further swelling of the ankle,
said Master Dínendal, carefully tying off the binding.
But it is the damage to your shoulder that most concerns
me. I will immobilise it with splints and you must rest it until
the tissues have healed sufficiently to permit gentle exercise
Rest! exclaimed Thorkell bogsveigir, derisively.
Bergthórr beytills healers would have had me
strapped up and back in action half an hour ago. He tried
to climb off the bed.
Dínendal, exerting his elven strength, restrained him.
No doubt they would, he said. And I can
do the sameif you want to risk a permanent weakness
in your bow arm.
No, we certainly cannot have that, said Eowyn. She
sat down beside the Beorning.
What now? he grumbled.
The man frowned. Blood
We have fought, said Eowyn, seriously, and
now we have saved each others lives
We are already
bonded by blood.
If you say so
So now you want to cut my hand open?
Eowyn laughed. No, she said. I have
bled enough for one day. She held out a bandaged hand.
The Beorning eyed it for a moment; then, with his good hand,
he grasped it gingerly. Now what?
Now we swear that, henceforth, we will be as brothers to
one another, she said.
You mean that we will fight and curse and vie with each
other for our fathers property? He looked up suddenly.
Does this make me an heir to the throne of Rohan?
My Lady, called Dínendal from the other
side of the tent, I can see you now.
Make sure that you do exactly as the healers tell you,
Master Bowswayer, said Eowyn, rising. When I said
we needed your bow arm, I meant it.
She slipped behind the screen, which Dínendal had improvised
by tying a blanket between two tent poles, stripped off her leggings
and climbed onto the bed, pulling the sheet over her middle. I
Dínendal joined her. How did it happen? he
asked, folding the sheet back.
I slipped and landed astride a branch, she said.
But there is nothing wrong there. I have grazed my
thigh, that is all.
Bring up your knees
Eowyn did as he asked and
felt his hand examine her, gently. Good, he said.
You can lower them now.
It is just my thigh? said Eowyn.
Yesfortunately, said Dínendal. And,
like your hands, it is already beginning to heal, but I will clean
and dress it for you.
There was a small table beside the bed, with a bowl of herb-infused
water upon it, and he took up a clean cloth and dipped it in the
liquid. I would think, he added, gently sponging the
dried blood from Eowyns leg, that for the next few
days at least, you will find riding on horseback quite uncomfortable,
my Lady. Perhaps you should travel in one of the carts, with my