From “Return of the King”, by J.R.R. Tolkien:
“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!”
A cold voice answered: ‘Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.”
A sword rang as it was drawn. “Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.”
“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”
Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel.
“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”
The Witch-King of Angmar is the Lord of the Nazgûl, the second most evil character in the LOTR trilogy. When he appears, men tremble and flee. This is probably for the best, because there is a thousand-year-old prophesy about the Witch-King:
Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.
During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the Nazgûl attacked and King Théoden was mortally wounded. As usual, the men ran away in terror, leaving a single soldier to challenge the Nazgûl. The Witch-King advanced on the soldier, threatening torture and referring to the prophesy, which he believed made him deathless. The soldier then revealed herself to be a woman, Théoden’s niece Éowyn. The Witch-King hesitated but attacked her, and she destroyed him by driving her sword between his crown and mantle.
The line reminds me of three things:
1. Never assume a woman can’t succeed where many others have lost their courage.
2. When your enemies think they’re about to defeat you, sometimes the best course of action is to laugh at them and stab them in the face.
3. Always – always! – make sure you know the exact wording of the prophesy.