|About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search|
Indis tried to guide Boromir to her horse, but Éomund asked for the lad and Boromir agreed, hugging and comforting Faramir before being lifted up to sit in front of Éomund. Théodred climbed upon his horse and his father placed Faramir up in front of the young prince; Faramir clung tightly to the pommel, his eyes never leaving Boromir. Two packhorses were tied to the other riders' mounts. Indis would ride directly behind Éomund. He would take the point and his second the rear. She would have to learn these men's names.
To her surprise, Théoden King had hugged her; then helped her to mount. She had bid her farewells to an inconsolable Listöwel while they were still in the cart. Indis left her with many tasks to perform. The most important, Indis had told her, was to decide how they would protect Boromir and Faramir. 'Who would have ever thought we would need to worry about such a thing in Minas Tirith?' Except for the normal guard set for each member of the Steward's family, there had never been a thought for more than that. Now, they had an assassin on their trail.
It was difficult for her to leave the dim light of the camp. She heard a sob from Faramir as Théodred followed Éomund's lead, urging his horse onward. 'How has this happened?' she wondered in her grief. 'How has it come to this, fugitives in the night, fleeing assassins, riding towards a city that once stood for safety, comfort, and warmth, but now has become a snare where murderers await?' She closed her eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, and urged her horse forward. The muffled padding on the horses' hooves, devised by Théoden King to hide their departure, lent an eerie quality to the ride.
The sun rose all too quickly. They decided they would ride till mid morning; find a cave or den -- some protected place near the road, and rest until the sun set. All felt the need to travel as much as possible during the night, though their travel time much increased during the day. While the road was in good repair, they were still hard-pressed to stay upon it. The elements seemed to conspire against them, for dark clouds hid the light-giving moon and stars.
Éomund's second was familiar with the road to Mundburg and places for rest alongside it. He led them to a cave, which proved small, but adequate. Faramir had fallen asleep again, just as they were ready to dismount. She left her own horse and took the boy into her arms. Boromir had slid from Éomund's horse by himself and waited. They spread blankets on the floor, and laid the sleeping Faramir to bed. Then they had a cold meal.
Éomund deemed it wise to introduce his men to Indis and Boromir. "Baldor and Aldor, knights of the Mark, twin sons of Elfhelm, a captain himself of the King's éored," he said proudly. "Baldor is my second and Aldor is Grimbold's. I cannot tell you how I know which is which, but I do. It will come to you in time."
Indis smiled. She had heard of Elfhelm from Denethor, knew him to be a wise and steadfast soldier. If their Captains trusted them, then she would too. She thanked them for their care; then turned to her own blanket, lying down in utter exhaustion. Sleep o'ercame her instantly.
"None know we are here and yet there are crebain circling o'erhead," she heard Grimbold's whisper. She pushed herself upright and swiped back the hair that had fallen into her face.
"Ah, I see you are awake," Éomund whispered. "The boys still sleep—"
"I am not asleep." Boromir's voice was hushed but firm. "Do you not know how to observe more closely?"
"Boromir!" Indis blushed at his insolence.
"Nay, he is right to chide me. Such a mistake could cost us all our lives. Thank you, Lord Boromir, for instructing me."
It was Boromir's turn to flush. "Truly, I am sorry. I am trying to…" He was not sure what he was trying to do or why he made such a remark. It had truly been rude. "I spoke in haste."
"I know you are trying, Boromir. You have much to learn, but you have already learned much. Do not be discouraged. We will help you." Éomund stepped forward to hug the lad, then thought better of it. The boy was trying hard to transition from child to Steward. A hug would not be appropriate at the moment – even warrior to warrior. Boromir would misconstrue it. The boy's reproof had been more from fear than haste, Éomund felt. Anything Éomund could do to help the lad he would do, but he felt totally helpless in this respect.
"Thank you," Boromir whispered, shame still etched upon his face.
"The first thing you must do, when you return to Mundburg —" Éomund began.
"I think I will be the judge of that," Indis spoke firmly. "But we tarry here too long. We must wake Faramir and depart. A full seven days at least, I deem, till we reach the Rammas."
"Aye. At least. The road has been straight along the route we have taken thus far. Further west, it twists and turns. The foothills cut across it in many places. Snow will begin to fall the closer we come to the mountains. I fear we may have at least ten days ride ahead of us. You are right, Indis," Éomund held his hand out to help her stand, "we must be on our way."
The days passed in a blur. Never had she ridden for such a long period of time. Her backside and legs burned. For the past two days, the mountains had fulfilled Éomund's prophecy and dumped snow upon them. Even at night, there was no respite. The small caves that Baldor found for them were wet and chilly. No one spoke as they rose for the night's ride. The children's laughter had disappeared. All were discouraged, tired and bone-cold. They had not had a fire since leaving Théoden King's company. Indis sat holding her knees to her chest. "Here we sit in the midst of a great forest and we cannot even light a fire. My heart needs some warmth." She looked towards Faramir, sleeping soundly near her and her heart ached. "The children need warmth, too. Might we not have the comfort of a small fire?"
"I do not think it wise, Indis; we only have a few more days ride to Mundburg." Éomund stood and stretched.
"I know. I am concerned for the children. The furs are warm, but these caves are abysmal."
She moved to Faramir's side and gently shook him, but the lad only moaned and turned away from her. "Faramir," she whispered, "'tis time to rise. We have some food for you. Are you not hungry?" He moaned again and concern washed over her; the lad normally awoke quickly and in a pleasant mood. She touched his forehead. "Burning," she accosted Éomund, "he is burning with fever." Anger over the conditions she was forcing upon the children and her inability to do anything about it, and fear for Faramir, caused her to lash out at Éomund.
He stepped towards the boy and touched his forehead. "We must return to the caravan." He motioned for Baldor and Aldor to saddle the horses.
"Wait!" Indis cried. "We cannot. There is sickness here, but there is death in the column."
"Indis. Be sensible. We have no leech here, we dare not light a fire, and the damp will only hasten whatever illness assails Faramir."
"I know that," Indis said with forced calm, "but there is the beacon-warden of Nardol close by. We will go to his hut. A fire there will be acceptable. None will consider who lights it; the warden lights it. While you are leading us to the hill, Baldor can return to the caravan and bring the company's healer back with him. He must ride like the wind, then wait until cover of darkness, impart our need to Théoden King, and bring the healer back with him – at speed."
"The caravan is two days away."
"Two days away with a sick child becomes at least three. Baldor can reach Théoden King's army in a night and a day. They can be back here in three days time. And we will not have put the children at risk."
"I could ride to the garrison of Nardol and bring back their leech?" Baldor asked quietly. "We could be back before morning."
"Nay, we still know not our enemy. Better to return to the column." Éomund then nodded to Baldor who stuffed some meal in his tunic and quickly mounted.
"I will be like the wind, my lady," he said and wheeled the horse away.
|<< Back||Next >>|
|Home Search Chapter List|