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In the hour before the sun rose, Indis wearily placed her feet into the stirrups. The boys still slept, placed gently into the wain by Éomund. Théodwyn had covered them with furs and turned towards her husband. She kissed him and walked away. 'A true warrior's wife,' Indis thought, remembering with fondness the young child who used to run through the halls of Minas Tirith when Thengel King and his family visited Gondor. Listöwel would ride alongside the cart that held Boromir and Faramir. Ragnhild, with a missive for Prince Adrahil, had ridden out an hour earlier with two Rohirric guards at her command. Indis had given Ragnhild a token to present to the Prince, a small pin with a carven swan upon it that Finduilas, wife of Denethor and daughter of Adrahil, had gifted to Indis.
Indis was too restless to ride in a cart. The mare Théodred had given her was small and suited her well. Biddable to her touch, it obeyed easily; it would be a simple ride, at least for a time. She had spent the night in tears and needed to be by herself. 'Some say tears dry up after a time; the body runs out of moisture to fuel them, but that is not so.'
Her beloved husband's body lay alongside Denethor's at the back of the line in the ornately carved likwain. Théoden rode in front of the column along with his son. Then came Éomund and Indis.
'Two weeks, at least, before we turn into the Pelennor,' she thought. She longed to be there now. She must speak with the King tonight;there were things that still needed to be said. She was grateful that he had been so quick to muster his men, that he was leading them to Minas Tirith, and that he had brought Théodred and Éomund with him. It was an act of courage, for Rohan still needed protection. It had surprised her that Théoden had brought Théodred, but she had noted the King seemed to include his heir in many aspects of the rule of Rohan. A decidedly different course than Ecthelion had taken with his own son. Still, she could not bring herself to dwell further upon the way their father had raised them, not now.
They had been traveling for at least three hours. She had ridden back to the wain; she and Listöwel chatted as the cart trundled along. The boys were still asleep, wearied by last evening's ceremony, by the grief that washed over them when they had a moment to think, and by the movement of the cart. Théodred had ridden up alongside her, asking if he might speak with Boromir. She told him the boy was still asleep, but Théodred insisted upon staying by the wain.
"He will wake soon and then we may speak. I am tired of hearing soldiers' talk."
She laughed, bid Listöwel farewell and returned to the head of the line, reining in next to Éomund. "I am sorry that you must leave your bride so soon. But I am most grateful. She is a brave woman, as are all the women of Rohan. She takes after her mother in this respect."
"I loved your brother well, since the first moment we met by the Mering Stream. I could do no less for him; he would do no less for me." Éomund smiled. "And yes, she is most brave… and beautiful." He paused for a moment. "Your brother knew I loved Théodwyn before I knew it myself." His eyes clouded. "I will sorely miss Denethor; to escort his body is an honour."
Indis bowed her head in thought; they rode on in silence.
A startled cry from the wain driver and Indis spun around in her saddle, watching helplessly as the cart tipped wildly, and then turned over on its side. As fast as she was to ride towards it, Théodred, was faster.
Boromir had awakened earlier, moved forward and sat upon the seat next to the driver. Théodred had been riding alongside the cart, chatting animatedly.
Théodred was off his horse in an instant and climbing into the back, searching frantically for Faramir. Boromir had been flung back into the wain by the force of the collapse. As she pulled up, Théodred stuck his head through the canvas and waved. "They are well, just a little frightened. Listöwel has survived, too."
A score of soldiers had ridden up as quickly as Indis. Grimbold, Éomund's second, set about taking the children from Théodred as he helped a shaken Faramir and Boromir out through the back of the cart; then, Grimbold reached in and passed Listöwel to Éomund. Another score of men turned their attention to the wain. It took only moments for them to push it upright and replace the broken wheel.
Indis kept as calm as she could. She knew she would frighten Boromir and Faramir if she cried. She smiled as they turned to her, yet, she noted, they still clung to the warriors' hands that held them.
Tentatively, Boromir smiled. "That was quite a ride, was it not, Faramir?"
She could have hugged him for making light of the crash. "Are you hurt?" She ran her hands over their arms and legs, looked long into their eyes for sign of headhurt, and then hugged each one.
Boromir wiped the dust from his tunic, looked at Faramir, whose eyes were still wide with fright, and did the same to him. "We are quite well."
Théodred patted Boromir's shoulder; he too had been quite frightened, and needed to touch his friend to confirm his safety.
"We will camp here and have our noon meal," she heard Théoden King's voice boom out. He walked slowly towards them. "Are all well?"
"They seem to be, my Lord," Éomund said quietly so as not to frighten the lads even more. "I see no cuts. I am sure bruises will appear soon, but for now, they seem well."
"Then please take them over by the fire, Listöwel." Théoden King pointed to where soldiers were lighting one. He turned to Grimbold. "Send for the leech. They are probably thirsty, too. We have brought mead; make weakened cups for each of them. I think it will help stop the shivering." He walked to Faramir, put his huge arm around the lad, and pulled him into his chest. "I would be shaking, too," he whispered. "I am surprised you did not cry."
"As soon as the cart stopped, Boromir made me promise. Amma affrights easily."
Théoden King threw his head back and laughed loudly. His men turned towards him, smiling at the joy of their king. The heaviness of fear dissipated. The children smiled, too. Then, he shooed them towards Listöwel. As he turned towards Indis, his face hardened. She stiffened in surprise. Noting Boromir and Faramir were well tended, Théoden King took her arm, and steered her slowly away from camp. Éomund and Grimbold joined them.
"The draught traces were severed," Théoden King spoke quietly. "The chains had been pulled apart, but left intact only enough to hold under stress for a short time. There were marks on the chains; I tell you, marks of a tool used to pull them apart. That Boromir and Faramir are not dead is a wonderment."
Shivering, Indis turned towards the wain. There was nothing to show that the cart had been tampered with, at least as far as she could ascertain. She knew Théoden King's men had inspected it, and believed what he said was true. She could not get the sight of the crippled wain out of her mind, pitched wildly to the left, where the wheel had broken after the horses had run. "I wish with all my heart that I did not understand, yet I understand too well. You are saying an attempt has been made on their lives."
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