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Eowyn and the lamp


Part 21

Nothing happened.

“Try again, melmenya,” said Legolas, calmly. He knew that, in the Great Cavern, the goblins were beginning to recover; in a few moments they would be pouring through the tunnel mouth...

Eowyn rubbed again, her muddy fingers slipping on the brass.

Still nothing happened.

“Might the Goblin King have released him, melmenya, and forced him to take refuge elsewhere?” Legolas nocked an arrow; beside him, Haldir did the same.

“I do not think so, Lassui; I am sure that he would have come to me.”

Legolas glanced over his shoulder.

Behind him, Gimli was battle-ready—feet spread wide, axe in both hands. To Gimil’s right, Eowyn was crouching over the lamp, trying to wipe her fingers clean on her muddy shift. Beside Eowyn, the knight was tending to his daughter and, although the girl did not appear to have been burned, it was clear that she would not be able to run.

A few yards farther on, the tunnel shrank to nothing but a spur of rock that, jutting out over a great, fathomless precipice, connected with a series of narrow wooden walkways suspended on ropes and chains, like the treacherous bridge that he, Gimli and Haldir had fallen from.

And beyond that...

Beyond that lurked the mysterious creature that had stopped the goblins using this part of the mine—the creature that was making the hairs on the back of Legolas’ own neck bristle.

They were trapped.


The first wave of goblins was small in number, but they came swiftly, in an arrow-shaped formation, streaming towards the narrow opening.

Legolas and Haldir shot tactically, picking off the most able-bodied; those who managed to pass the elves were felled by Gimli’s axe, or sliced by the knight’s blade, which—glowing ice-blue as it flashed through the air—found its mark with unerring accuracy.


Kneeling beside Gudyth, ready to defend her if need be, Eowyn fought her longing to draw her sword and join the battle and, instead, concentrated on the lamp.

She was sure that the problem lay in the mud, which was preventing her fingers from making sufficient contact, but the more she tried to clean her hands, the muddier they grew.

She looked about in frustration and, for the first time, noticed something falling down the cavern wall, bouncing from rock to rock, and running in rivulets...


Her heart pounding, for she had no head for heights, Eowyn crawled to the edge of the rocky platform and swung a leg over, feeling with her toes for a foothold, reasoning that, if only she could summon the djinn, he would rescue her from whatever impossible situation she might get herself into.

She scrambled sideways, passing beneath the fight, and plunged her hands into the stream of ice-cold water, holding them there until they were clean. Then she shook them dry and, taking hold of the lamp, which was hanging from her sword belt, she rubbed it.