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 Statues—the wonder of Gondor—struck nine.

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 river’s edge.

“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 midday meal.

“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.”

“Well—be 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 view—noticing, 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 captain’s 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, and—showing her first sign of weakness—she 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 realised—splat—that she had left her own back exposed—splat, splat. “Gimli!”

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 simultaneously—one 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 ammunition.

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.



Three days later


Legolas handed her a hot toddy.

“Thank you,” said Eowyn with a sniff. “Whad are you laughing ad?”



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Chapter 12