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gudyth and eowyn


Part 16

“Have you tried to escape?” Eowyn asked.

Gudyth shook her head. “Leffeda tried. She said she’d get to Caras Arnen and bring some of Prince Faramir’s men to save us. She slipped away when the goblins were taking us to the pit, and she was gone for three days, then they brought her back, and ate her.”

One of the other women moaned. “Stanhilda and Leffeda were sisters,” Gudyth explained.

“Poor thing,” Eowyn whispered back. She tried to picture Stanhilda as she must have looked before the years of captivity had reduced her to skin and bone—a pretty young girl, dressed in a velvet gown—and it occurred to her that all of these women must have come from the City, since there were very few homesteads in the southern hills, and it seemed unlikely that any of them would have been travelling alone...

“What happened to the men?” she asked.

“Eaten,” said Gudyth. “Or sent down to the lowest levels, to mine the salt—the strong ones, that is.”

“Did you lose someone?”

“He was sent to the mine,” said Gudyth. Then she looked Eowyn in the eye for the first time and said, with a sudden flash of spirit, “But, I swear to the gods, I would have cooked him for the goblins if they’d wanted to eat him.”



“’Ee wants ’er—the new one,” said one of the goblins.

His comrade with the keyring took it from his belt, and went through his laborious ritual, trying each key in the lock until he found the right one.

Eowyn waited.

She had been watching the goblins carefully, and had noticed a small opening in the cavern wall that did not appear to be guarded, and which looked as though it might lead to a tunnel. And, although she realised that, even if she succeeded in escaping from the Great Cavern, she would almost certainly get lost in the warren of passages beyond, she had decided that she would wait for Legolas for two days—as best she could judge—and that if he had not come to her by then, she would escape, and find him.

She knew that her plan might prove fatal but, still, she felt much better for having a plan.

At last, the goblin got the door open. “You,” he said, jabbing a warty finger at Eowyn, “and... You!” He pointed at Gudyth. “Come on!”

Eowyn glanced at her new friend; the other woman seemed resigned.

Together, they allowed the goblins to lead them out into the cavern and, through the excited crowd, to the edge of the mud pit, where the hideous Goblin King sat waiting for them.

He raised his hand, then let it fall, and the guards pushed the two women into the mud.

And, as she tumbled, Eowyn spotted something that changed her plans entirely.