And then, said Eowyn, dipping her head to avoid
a frost-covered branch, I shall take him down to the stables,
and show him his present.
Legolas looked at the coal-black mare his wife was leading
on a long rein. Are you sure you can bear to part
with her, melmenya? he asked, gently. The mare had been
the first offspring of Eowyns beloved horse, Brightstar,
and Eowyn had not only helped birth her but had also had a hand
in her training.
It will be hard, she admitted, ducking under
another branch, but Faramir deserves a swift horse, and
he will take good care of her, Lassui.
It was two days before Yuletide, and the couple were riding
to Caras Arnen, the City on the Hills, to spend the festive
season with the Prince of Ithilien.
It had been a long and taxing yearthey had helped put
down a rebellion in the North of Rohan; had investigated a series
of particularly bloody murders in the Academy of Minas Tirith;
had sailed the Bay of Carhilivren in search of Hentmirës
long-lost cousin; and now they were more than ready to spend
twelve blissful days doing nothing more than eating, drinking
and having fun with their closest friends.
Approaching the foothills of Emyn Arnen, the trailflanked
either side by steep, snowy bankssuddenly narrowed, and
Legolas gestured to Eowyn that she should go first.
She urged Brightstar forward, leading the mare behind her and,
just as she entered the passage, she heard a strange soundlike
the hollow crack that sometimes accompanies lightningfollowed
by a rush of foul-smelling air that shot past her, spooking
both horses and almost unseating her, and then the ground began
to shake beneath her and, amidst the mounting chaos, she thought
she heard Legolas cry out in horror.
Lassui? she yelled, trying to turn Brightstars
head into the wind, LASSUI!
But the narrow pass and the panicking mare defeated her.
Over her shoulder she could see fogor smokeand
a strange flicker of light, which seemed to be getting closer,
anddeciding to abandon the horses, and run back to Legolasshe
was beginning to dismount when she heard him shout, Get
clear, melmenya! Ride! Ride!