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A sound from Faramir made her quickly turn. She cried aloud as she saw tears running down the little face. She held her arms open and he ran to her. "Ada," he sobbed brokenly over and over again. Her whole being hurt for the pain in the little voice. "We will stop and rest for a bit," she said, looking up at a concerned Éomund.
"Aye. Come boys," he motioned to Boromir and Théodred, "let us build a fire. Find only dry wood; it will smoke less. We should be safe. This is a desolate area, but open. We would see the enemy well before they were upon us and we are blocked from any from the city seeing us. The sun has a few more moments left to her. Let us prepare a last meal."
Grimbold shivered. He hoped Éomund's words were not prophetic. Baldor quickly lit the wood the boys collected. He warmed the last of their mead and gave a cup to Faramir. 'Twould help settle the child, Grimbold expected. Then, he stood guard, sending Baldor off a little further north and Aldor south. The leech sat on the ground, gobbling his share, oblivious to all about him. 'If we could only have sent him back without fear,' thought Grimbold, 'it would have been better all around. The man is like a millstone around our necks,'
"Is something wrong?" Éomund asked.
"Aye. I do not trust that little weasel," Grimbold showed his anger and frustration by pointing his finger in the man's direction. "Look at him! Forgive me, my Lord, but I wonder at his presence. I do not think Théoden King would have sent an incompetent to take care of Faramir in his fever. But then why, if he is a leech, did he not think he could aid Aldor? This I do not understand. If he were only a household servant, why would the King send him?"
"You speak true. Indis and I have already wondered at this. But he had a token of introduction from the King or I would never have allowed him into our camp." Éomund suddenly shivered. "He could be a spy. I do not know. I have not turned my back on him though, nor will I."
"I will keep watch also."
Holding Faramir's hand as his brother snuggled in their aunt's lap, Boromir sat quietly next to Indis. Théodred stood guard over them, a protective look on his young face. Indis noted Boromir pressed close to her, trembling slightly. What would they do, how would they react when they saw the Citadel, when they entered the Great Hall for the first time, and when they crossed the threshold of their own quarters? Horror threatened to overwhelm her. The blue skies, the green of the mountain, and the cheerful call of birds did nothing to ameliorate the situation. Nothing could dispel the chill that shook her body. She felt entirely useless. She had not thought their homecoming would be this difficult. In fact, she had given it no thought whatsoever, so focused had she been on their safety. They were crushed, she could now see, and she felt helpless in the face of such grief. All she could do was hold Faramir and whisper his name while she stroked Boromir's arm. The family sat thus until the sun, not waiting for their grief to abate, deserted them.
At last, Indis spoke. "Faramir, we must be off, you know. Your bed awaits. You will be sleeping comfortably soon. Cook will have made your favorite sugared biscuits and warm buttermilk. Shall we go now?" She looked down; the little one was sleeping. Éomund came and took him from her. Théodred helped her up. She quickly hugged Boromir, then retrieved her sword from her horse and strapped it on. Éomund had Boromir help put out the fire and then the party turned southward. Excitement had left them; exhaustion threatened to overcome them.
As they walked, Éomund was surprised to find Boromir and Théodred walking next to him, one on either side. "Hoy, is there something you need? Something I might help you with?"
"We need our swords," Boromir said flatly. "Indis will probably not allow it, but we need our swords."
His tone, Éomund had to stifle a laugh when he heard the command, brooked no argument. Indeed, he had none to offer. Both boys had been trained, not that they were ready for battle, but at least they might help intimidate any who faced them. Their company would look fiercer with two more swords in view.
Théodred nodded his head in agreement. "We know how to wield them, Éomund. You know that."
"Aye. You may have them. However," he stopped and looked at them, trying to imbue his words with as much force as he could, "you have never killed anyone. Nor have you faced such a situation. How will you feel, Théodred, plunging your sword into the belly of a man?" He had to use harsh words to make them understand the gravity of the situation. "Boromir, these will be your countrymen. Will you pause if one attacks whom you considered an ally? You will lose your life if you do!"
The smile at Éomund's agreement to their demand faded instantly as he spoke. Théodred nodded his head, not trusting to words.
Boromir flushed. "None who are considered ally would ever attack me!" His words were hot, but Éomund noted the flash of moisture in his eyes. "I know what you think, what Indis thinks. The House of Húrin has enemies in the city, but those soldiers who were true to Adar will not attack me."
"Aye. I believe you, Boromir, for I know the loyalty of Gondor's Knights. Still, there may be those you considered trustworthy who are not. We have seen it already in the Mark with the treachery done to Lord Denethor and the near-fatal attack against you and Faramir. Be prepared for this!"
In a short time, Boromir stopped. He pointed towards a spot in the wall. The door was truly indistinguishable from the wall itself, but Boromir went right to it. Éomund put out a hand and stopped the lad from opening it. Boromir looked up.
"'Tis time for caution, my Lord," Éomund whispered. "We will send Baldor and Grimbold in first, to discover what might be waiting for us on the other side. Does this meet your approval?"
Boromir nodded. "You are wise. It is a good plan."
"'Twas Indis' plan."
"Oh," he smiled back at his aunt. "We wait here?"
"We wait here," Indis answered.
Grimbold and Baldor moved forward at Éomund's signal. Slowly, they opened the door. Both were surprised that it opened so easily, with nary a noise. They peeked inside, their eyes slowly becoming accustomed to the dark, for it seemed as if no light penetrated the Hallows.
A shiver ran down Grimbold's spine, but he moved forward, Baldor close behind. They walked several yards in. There was undisturbed dust on the floor.
Baldor breathed a sigh of relief. They walked a little further, one on each side of the quiet road. There seemed to be some kind of moss on the ground, probably planted for its quieting properties. No noise was permitted in the Hallows, according to Indis' accounts, no noise to disturb the dead. Finally, Grimbold signaled to Baldor who moved back to the entranceway. He looked through the door and gave the all-clear sign.
Silently, the company moved forward. Aldor trailed behind covering their backs. Éomund handed Faramir to Indis, who gently woke him. Éomund's hand was on his sword's hilt, ready to unsheathe it. Boromir and Théodred had put their own swords on. They were still sheathed, but both boys were alert and ready.
After placing Faramir on the walkway behind her, Indis, too, took hold of the hilt of her own sword. It felt good, comfortable, and proper. She hoped with all her heart that she was wrong about their welcome. Slowly, her confidence built as they walked further down Rath Dínen. She noted the only tracks before her were those of her companions.
Her skin prickled. A sudden sense of danger assailed her.
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