They had said their sad farewells and had set out
at dawn, slowly winding their way downwards through the levels,
finally passing through the Great Gates as the huge mechanical
clock in the Place of the Statuesthe wonder of Gondorstruck
Before them sat the Pelennor, white and empty save for the criss-crossings
of a few deeply-rutted cart tracks. Above them, the sky curved
in a vast blue dome.
If we reach the river before two, said Legolas, we
can rest a while beneath the Osgiliath Bridge. I want to be at
the inn soon after dark.
Were it not for me, said Eowyn, the four of
you could camp on the trail. Perhaps I could
I will not risk your freezing to death in the snow, melmenya,
replied Legolas, firmly.
Eowyn hid her grin. There were times when it was nice to be cherished.
When they reached the river, the elves and the dwarf dismounted
and soon found a safe way down the steep bank, using the stone
footings of the bridge as a staircase.
Come, melmenya, said Legolas, holding out his hand.
I will help you.
Steadied by his strong arm, Eowyn climbed down to the rivers
Under here, called Master Dínendal.
Beneath the massive arch, a patch of dry ground littered with
boulders served them as a dining room and, with a splendid view
of the Anduin, the travellers spent a pleasant hour sharing their
I am just going to stretch my legs, said Eowyn, before
we set off again.
Do you want me to come with you? asked Legolas.
Eowyn grinned. No. I shall not attempt any mountain climbing.
Wellbe careful. Your feet have only just healed
The climb was much easier than Eowyn had expected and, concentrating
as she was upon placing her feet safely, she was soon surprised
to find herself at the top of the bank.
The sun, sitting low in the winter sky, was painting the frosty
landscape in subtle shades of rose and lavender and, stretching
out her arms, Eowyn turned full circle, savouring the viewnoticing,
as she did so, that several inches of pristine snow lay, like
lambswool, along the parapets at either side of the bridge...
Agh! A string of elvish curses burst from
her target as he instinctively crouched, arms raised over his
head, and shook himself like a dog, trying to dislodge the wedge
of snow that had caught in the high collar of his tunic. What?
He began to turn
Splat! Her second shot slipped neatly through his guard
and caught him on the back of the head. EOWYN!
Now more troops were emerging from under the bridge, running
to their captains aid. She took out the first with two rapid
shots, splat, splat, forcing him to adopt the same
defensive posture as his leader.
My lady! cried the second, andshowing her first
sign of weaknessshe lowered her aim and, splat, let
the civilian off with a warning.
When I get up there... roared her first victim,
demonstrating exceptional courage by running up the snowy slope,
until, splat, splat, splat, splat,
she pinned him down with a barrage of perfectly-aimed hits.
But, just as victory seemed within her grasp, she realisedsplatthat
she had left her own back exposedsplat, splat.
The crafty dwarf had crept up the slope on the far side of the
bridge. Surrender, he shouted, and I shall persuade
the elf to go easy on you.
Never! she cried, whirling round and hurling two
missiles simultaneouslyone at his chin, splat, the
other at his neck, just below his helmet, splat.
The dwarf spluttered and cursed. Eowyn bent to scoop up more
But she had forgotten her back once more! And before she could
rise with her deadly weapons, some dishonourable foe came up silently
behind her, grabbed her, and dumped a handful of snow down the
back of her tunic.
Taste the bitterness of defeat, Eowyn Eomundiell,
he whispered, nipping her ear.