eowyn and thorkell

“What do you think you are doing—?”

His voice took her by surprise, but Eowyn immediately spun round, sword already raised in the Ox guard, its tip aimed straight at Thorkell bogsveigir’s throat.

“Hey!” The Beorning, still partially hidden by the undergrowth, raised one hand in a gesture of surrender.

“Drop it!” said Eowyn, angrily.

“Drop what?”

She took a step forward—the man retreated—“Drop whatever it is that you are holding in your other hand.”

“A spade,” said Thorkell, incredulously. “It is just a spade…”

“Then drop it.”

With a theatrical sigh, Thorkell did as he was told.

Eowyn took another step, adjusting the angle of her blade to maintain its position, tip pressing into his skin. “What did you think you would do? Hit me over the head with it?”

The Beorning frowned. “What?

“You knew that you could not have me any other way.”

Have you?” For a moment he simply stared at her, wide-eyed and open-mouthed; then he burst out laughing, his body shaking so hard that he risked impaling himself on her sword. “It would take a braver man than I to try to fuck you—gods!” He took another step backwards. “I would be safer fucking an Orc.”

Eowyn was unconvinced. “Then why were you following me?”

“I was not following you. I just happened to spot you cavorting about here, all by yourself—you stupid woman!”

“I am still your Lady, Master Bowswayer,” said Eowyn, coldly, “and the warrior who has a sword at your throat.”

“Alright, then. I happened to spot you here, my stupid Lady,” replied Thorkell. “And if there is one place between The Carrock and the Falls of Rauros where you should not be dancing about alone, it is here, where the Orcs come to hunt the wolves of southern Greenwood.”

“There have been no confirmed reports of Orcs in this region for months,” said Eowyn, lowering her blade. “I do not believe there is any danger.”

“It would only take one stray Orc,” said Thorkell, “to…” He made an obscene gesture with his forearm.

“So you rushed in to protect me—with your spade.” Eowyn slid her sword back into its scabbard.

“On my way down to the river,” the man replied, speaking slowly, with mock patience, “to dig up some angelica for my latest lord and master—Elros the Cook—I took the time and trouble to warn you to get your foolish arse back up to the camp.” He retrieved the spade. “And, whilst we are on the subject, let me make it clear, once and for all, that—although it is a choice enough piece of arse, especially in those tight leggings—it is hardly worth having my balls cut off for.”

Despite herself, Eowyn smiled. “If your word was worth anything at all, Master Bowswayer,” she said, “I would have you swear to that.”

“Too bad, then, that it—what was that…?”

They had both spun round, startled by the same noise. Eowyn drew her sword. Thorkell lifted the spade above his shoulder in a two-handed grip. Whatever was coming through the trees—and it was too noisy to be elves, or wolves, or even men with any knowledge of woodcraft—it was heading straight for them. Eowyn listened hard to the grunts, snuffles and occasional yelps. “There are at least three of them,” she whispered, “maybe five or six.”

“Shit,” muttered Thorkell.

“Where is your bow?”


“Can you climb up there?” She nodded towards one of the trees.

Thorkell frowned at the smooth, bare trunk—its lowest branches were at least three feet higher than his head, but the noises were growing louder—“Yes! Come on!” He grabbed Eowyn’s arm and dragged her beneath the tree—“sheathe your sword!”—and made his hands into a stirrup.



Eowyn stepped into his hands and, as he lifted her, grasped the tree trunk—and then the lowest branch—and then scrambled up, somehow getting one leg over—and mounted the branch like a horse.

“Lift your feet,” cried Thorkell, “or they will drag you down by them. Here, take this!”

He held up the spade. Eowyn struggled to her knees and, holding on to the tree with one hand, took it from him. “Come on,” she gasped. “Hurry!”

Thorkell glanced over his shoulder. It was Orcs alright—there was no mistaking those noises now—but they had not yet caught his scent… He backed up a few paces, took a short run, and leaped.

Man flesh!

The cry went up just as the Beorning caught hold; and—as he dangled, kicking his legs, desperately trying to get his feet up higher—the Orcs broke cover.

Eowyn grabbed a handful of his jerkin.

“No! Get back—against the trunk!” He kicked again, hauling himself up on straining arms—and his right foot grazed the bark—but the first Orc had already caught hold of his left leg—and then one of its fellows grasped his thigh, and pulled—and Thorkell lost his grip…

The leather slipped from Eowyn’s fingers. She lunged—“No…!”—but she was too late.

In horror she watched the expression on Thorkell bogsveigir’s face turn from hope, to dismay, to fear, as he was dragged down from her, and thrown to the ground, and the Orcs fell upon him—



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