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legolas and eowyn


Part 9

They followed Estmond’s directions, and reached Nan Arnen after a further day and a half’s travel, having spent the night huddled in an empty sheep pen, where—ironically—only Eowyn, warm and comfortable in Legolas’ arms, had slept.

Nan Arnen was a narrow gorge, winding deep into the southern slopes of Emyn Arnen. “This is where,” said Eowyn, giving voice to everyone’s surprise, “in the shadow world, my double had her command post!”*

The friends dismounted and, leading the horses, filed quietly up the twisting path.

On the plateau, instead of a jumble of tents and wooden sheds, they found a gaping hole in the cliff wall, defended either side by crumbling stone piers that had once supported massive wooden gates.

They approached cautiously.

The state of the outbuildings—with their roofs and walls collapsed and overgrown, their doorways choked, and everything smothered in a thick blanket of unblemished snow—seemed to confirm that the mine had been disused for at least as long as Estmond had claimed, though a clear, if indirect, path into the tunnel suggested that the place was not entirely abandoned...

“It is a perfect hideout,” said Haldir.

“Which is presumably what the mysterious man meant when he said he had ‘family’ living here,” Legolas agreed. He scanned the slopes on all sides of the plateau. “No decent folk live here.”

Eowyn set Brightstar grazing with a quiet Avo visto. “Are we going inside?” she asked.


Gimli led the way, taking a torch from one of the wall-brackets, and lighting it with a spark from his tinderbox.

He held it aloft.

“What do you think, Elvellon?” asked Legolas, with an elf’s natural distrust of underground spaces. “Is it safe?”

“Built to last,” replied the dwarf, patting one of the thick wooden beams that lined the walls. “It is not the roof collapsing we need fear in here.”

They inched forward slowly, giving Gimli a chance to get the lie of the land. After a few hundred yards, he stopped suddenly and, lowering the torch, pointed it at a strange-looking bundle, propped against the wall.

Eowyn moved closer. “Oh, gods...”

Covering her mouth and nose with one hand, she crouched beside the pile of rags and, drawing out her hunting knife, examined it, gingerly using her blade to lift its covering and expose the withered corpse beneath. “Do you think this is ‘the man’?” she whispered, from behind her fingers.

“I think,” said Legolas, leaning over her shoulder, “that this poor fellow has been dead for considerably longer than three years, melmenya.”

He reached down, drew a broken arrow from the corpse’s chest and, holding it up in the light of Gimli’s torch, growled, “Goblins.


In Shadowland.