Let me see her, then.
Somebody pulled off the sack that had been twisted round Eowyns
head and, blinking and coughing, she looked about her.
She had been dragged into a huge, natural cavern lit with flaming
torches that illuminated some parts in a lurid red, and threw
others into deep, menacing shadow. All around her, strange,
orc-like creatures were stamping about and growling ferociously,
and she realised that these must be the goblins Legolas had
wanted to protect her from...
Directly in front of her, one enormous goblin, fat and warty
like a toad and wearing a metal crown that seemed to have been
hammered together from random bits of silverware, sat in a big,
Wheres her horse? he demanded.
Eowyns captors looked at one another, shiftily.
Come on, he shouted, she must have a horse!
A handful of goblins went skittering off.
Brightstar and Arod are far too clever to let these creatures
catch them, Eowyn told herself.
Now then, said the Goblin King to Eowyn, come
here, and let me see your face.
Eowyn resolved to stay exactly where she was, but two of her
guards were pulling her forward, and another pushing her from
behind, and she stumbled towards the throne.
Hmmm, said the king, clearly unimpressed with her
looks. Show me your arms then.
Eowyn scowled, but one guard opened her cloak and another,
grabbing her hand, ripped off her sleeve and lifted her arm
The Goblin King studied it with the air of an expert, and Eowyn
had a sudden vision of herself, roasted on a spit and served
on a pewter platter...
Not bad, he said. Can you punch? He
jerked his head, and one of the guards stepped in front of her,
raising his hands in a gesture of surrender.
Punch him, said the king.
Eowyn folded her arms across her chest.
Do it, the king insisted, his voice growing
shrill; hit him!
Eowyn tapped the goblin; he staggered back a few steps.
The crowd tittered, clapping their hands.
Could be better, could be worse, said the Goblin
King. Put her with the others.
Eowyn was seized by three goblins and hauled backwards, through
the crowd, to the rear of the cavern, where a natural alcove
had been barred with a rough metal grating.
One of the goblins took an oversized keyring from his belt
and tried each key in turn, whilst his fellows hissed, and clicked
their tongues impatiently.
Eowyn peered into the cell.
At the very back, a crowd of women, all in various states of
undress, and all caked, to a greater or lesser degree, with
mud, sat huddled together.