Several hours later
Let us rest a moment, said Gimli, inclining his
head towards Eowyn.
Good idea, Elvellon. Legolas removed the waterskin
from his belt, and offered it to his wife.
I will not refuse a chance to catch my breath,
said Eowyn, smiling at their antics. She uncorked the waterskin
and took a sip of water. They had been creeping hrough the dark
for hours, and the taste of salt was sharp on her lips. There
had been no more screams, and they had seen no sign of the knight,
but both elves had told her they sensed they were being watched,
and Legolas had pointed out a pair of eyes, burning in the shadows...
Haldir, who had gone ahead, reappeared out of the darkness.
Come, he said, you must see this.
Eowyn followed him through a decorated doorway, and found herself
standing on a balcony, overlooking a massive hall.
Gimli raised his torch.
A broad staircase curved down into the cavernous chamber, and
the friends descended. To the right and left, illuminated by
the flickering light, carvings emerged from the walls; high
above, the vaulted ceiling disappeared into the darkness.
This was built by Men, Gimli declared.
The floor had been cut in a complex pattern of squares, diamonds
and circles to resemble a marble pavement. I have seen
one of these before, said Eowyn, in the Council
Chamber at Caras Arnen. The shapes represent numbers, and signify
the date of the First Sunrise...
They approached the nearest wall, and Gimli lifted the torch
to light the reliefs.
It shows the Fall of Gondolin, said Legolas.
Why would anyone create a place like this? asked
Eowyn, turning full circle. In a mine?
Salt is a valuable substance, melmenya, said Legolas.
It means life or death to Men. This mine must have belonged
to the Kingdom of Gondorperhaps the Steward was in the
habit of visiting.
It must have taken years to carve these scenes.
She moved to the next relief. I think this one is the
Battle of Dagorlad...
Over here, called Haldir. He had climbed back up
What is it? asked Legolas.
Two doorways, and one has been marked with a handful
The knight, said Gimli. Now we know why he
refused the loaf.
He wants to find his way out, Legolas agreed.
Good, said Gimli. It is never wise to try
rescuing a man who does not care whether he lives or dies.
We must follow him, said Legolas. Come, melmenya.
He scanned the cavernous hall. Melmenya?
Eowyn did not reply.
Gimli! The torch!
The dwarf was at his friend's side in an instant, raising the
light high and sweeping it round, but it was no use.
There was no sign of Eowyn.