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legolas and eowyn


Part 11

Several hours later

“Let us rest a moment,” said Gimli, inclining his head towards Eowyn.

“Good idea, Elvellon.” Legolas removed the waterskin from his belt, and offered it to his wife.

“I will not refuse a chance to catch my breath,” said Eowyn, smiling at their antics. She uncorked the waterskin and took a sip of water. They had been creeping hrough the dark for hours, and the taste of salt was sharp on her lips. There had been no more screams, and they had seen no sign of the knight, but both elves had told her they sensed they were being watched, and Legolas had pointed out a pair of eyes, burning in the shadows...

Haldir, who had gone ahead, reappeared out of the darkness. “Come,” he said, “you must see this.”

Eowyn followed him through a decorated doorway, and found herself standing on a balcony, overlooking a massive hall.

Gimli raised his torch.

A broad staircase curved down into the cavernous chamber, and the friends descended. To the right and left, illuminated by the flickering light, carvings emerged from the walls; high above, the vaulted ceiling disappeared into the darkness.

“This was built by Men,” Gimli declared.

The floor had been cut in a complex pattern of squares, diamonds and circles to resemble a marble pavement. “I have seen one of these before,” said Eowyn, “in the Council Chamber at Caras Arnen. The shapes represent numbers, and signify the date of the First Sunrise...”

They approached the nearest wall, and Gimli lifted the torch to light the reliefs.

“It shows the Fall of Gondolin,” said Legolas.

“Why would anyone create a place like this?” asked Eowyn, turning full circle. “In a mine?”

“Salt is a valuable substance, melmenya,” said Legolas. “It means life or death to Men. This mine must have belonged to the Kingdom of Gondor—perhaps the Steward was in the habit of visiting.”

“It must have taken years to carve these scenes.” She moved to the next relief. “I think this one is the Battle of Dagorlad...”

“Over here,” called Haldir. He had climbed back up the staircase.

“What is it?” asked Legolas.

“Two doorways, and one has been marked with a handful of corn.”

“The knight,” said Gimli. “Now we know why he refused the loaf.”

“He wants to find his way out,” Legolas agreed.

“Good,” said Gimli. “It is never wise to try rescuing a man who does not care whether he lives or dies.”

“We must follow him,” said Legolas. “Come, melmenya.” He scanned the cavernous hall. “Melmenya?”

Eowyn did not reply.

“Gimli! The torch!”

The dwarf was at his friend's side in an instant, raising the light high and sweeping it round, but it was no use.

There was no sign of Eowyn.