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My Sword Sings - Book One - 'My Sword' Series  by Agape4Gondor

Listöwel stood stock still. If Théoden King and Erkenbrand had not been on either side of her, she knew she would have fallen. As it was, she slowly tipped backwards. A hand stopped her, gently preventing her fall. Elfhelm whispered in her ear, "It is lies, my Lady. All lies. Look at how his eyes shift. The children are alive. Do not believe him. Have hope." She straightened.

Amandil, usurper to the Chair of Gondor, turned towards her as he noted her slight movement. "You are no longer needed here. Your things have been packed and sent by cart back to your home in Dol Amroth."

"I am to leave today?"

"I think it would be best." The ingratiating voice droned. "Best for your recovery from this shock. Best if you were with your family. People you love. It is a terrible time we live in."

She wanted to slap that hideous face, that lying face that told her that Indis was murdered by Orc. That the bodies of Boromir, Faramir and Théodred had been mutilated beyond recognition and now lay in vaults in the Silent Street. That this being before her was now calling himself Steward. That she was no longer welcome in the city that she had called home for years beyond remembering. She began to shake and felt the strong hand of Elfhelm again touch her, giving her strength. She took a deep breath and bowed. "I thank you for your kindness, my Lord. I will say my farewells and leave."

"There are hardly any left here to farewell, my Lady. I suggest you leave now."

The audacity of the man! She wanted to wring his neck. "I will do as you bid, my Lord," she said between tightened lips. "Mayhap Théoden King would accompany me to my carriage?"

"Ah, I am most sorry. We cannot afford to offer a carriage. A horse has been saddled and waits for you at the Great Gate. My man will show you to it." With that, he motioned and a soldier stepped forward. "As for speaking with Théoden King, I think not. I have further business with the King of Rohan. You may go now."

She turned to Théoden King in despair, but he kissed her and whispered, "We will meet you at my tent on the Pelennor. Do not go further than that."

She turned, bowed to Amandil and left the room.

Almost running down the street to the Great Gate, she stumbled. A hand reached out and helped steady her; then she felt arms hugging her tightly. "Oh! My lady!" The hands dropped quickly. "Pardon me, please. I was so happy to see you. I had not expected to see you here in the city. They said you had gone back to Dol Amroth." Tears fell from the eyes of her rescuer. "So much has happened. Such pain and sorrow I do not think I can stand it. The Steward dead! It cannot be. Can you believe that the Steward's sons are also dead? It near broke my heart. I have not stopped crying since the moment I heard. And the Lady Indis, too. It is too much. I am beside myself. I have not eaten nor slept since I heard the news."

Listöwel held her hand up. "It is Ioreth?" she asked. "My brain is addled, forgive me for not recognizing you."

"Nay, my Lady, 'tis sorrow that addles our brains. I have not had the wit to even think straight these past days. First the news of Lord Denethor. How could this have happened I thought to myself, and then just this morning, the new Steward announces that Boromir and Faramir are dead and now entombed, along with their father in the City of the Dead. And the Lady Indis," the woman's tears flowed and great sobs shook her body, "that kind sweet lady. She is dead also. I can bear it no longer." And the woman sat in the middle of the street and wailed.

Listöwel looked about her; the soldier sent to accompany her didn't know what to do. She turned to him and said, "I must help my friend to her home. I promise I will leave as soon as I see her safely home. She is too distraught to be left alone." The man scowled. Listöwel bent and held Ioreth tightly. The other woman's wailing increased in volume and intensity. "You must see that she cannot be left alone. I promise I will leave the city within the hour."

"You best be done quickly. I will wait at the gate for you. Be there soon. I have an appointment at one of the inns. A very important appointment, if you get my drift." He leered at her, turned and left them.

"Are you well enough to walk to the Houses?" Indis helped Ioreth stand.

Ioreth gave a short laugh. "I am well enough to dance a jig, if need be. Amandil's soldiers are all fools and easily duped."

Wide-eyed, Listöwel stared at her. "You pretended you were o'ercome with grief?"

"Of course! How else were we to get a moment alone! But I am distraught, even unto falling on the ground, though I would not let one of that man's soldiers see me thus, without good cause!" She laughed at the thought of her stunt. "But come, we cannot stand out here." And the woman led her back to the Houses. When they entered the main hall, she steered Listöwel towards a side door. "Here. We can sit here, take some tea, and talk." She quickly put a kettle on the stove, brought out cups, spoons and plates. I have some cake left over from nuncheon. You look like you might need a little something?"

"Are the children dead? Did you see their bodies?" Listöwel asked, her eyes brimming with tears. Mayhap Théoden King was mistaken.

Ioreth stopped. "I did not see them. But that is what is being said. I can hardly believe it myself. Rumours always fly about, but these are not rumours. As I said, the new Steward, just this morning, proclaimed a day of mourning for the Steward's family. I…" Ioreth sat. "I cannot believe it is true. I will not believe it is true, unless someone I trust tells me." Her tears flowed. "I played with them, tucked them into bed at night when Mother had other duties, took care of them when they were sick and brought here for treatments. They cannot be dead." Her chin shook, but she wiped the tears from her eyes, stood and took the kettle off the stove, placed the leaves in the pot, and covered them with the hot water. She cut the cake, placed it on two plates, and brought them and the tea to the table. "They are not dead," she stated flatly. "'Tis time to eat."

"The King of Rohan does not believe they are dead," Listöwel said while they ate their cake. "I do not know what to believe, but I am to meet him on the Pelennor. I must not tarry. I cannot thank you enough, Ioreth, for your kindness." She stood.

"'Twas nothing, my lady. I ask only one favour in return. Please find them. Then tell me they are alive and well."

"I will. I promise!" She gave Ioreth a hug, quickly left and ran down the street.

The soldier startled her as he stepped out of an alley near the gate, pulling a bedraggled horse behind him. "You were gone too long," he chided. "Must be on your way, else the Steward will have my skin. Here." And he shoved the reins into her hand, turned and left her.

'Not even a leg up,' she thought bemusedly. 'Well, better this way. At least he will not be able to tell Amandil which direction I took.' She clicked her tongue and the horse started forward at the slowest pace possible. 'If I have to stay on this horse the entire way to Dol Amroth, I will get there by next spring!'

As Listöwel entered the King's tent nigh unto an hour later, she was surprised to see Théoden King standing before her. "We were concerned," he said quietly. "None knew your whereabouts. The soldier assigned to you did not look too savory."

"An old friend needed to bid me farewell. So I tarried for a moment. Then, the mount I was given must be a hundred years old. It walked slower than a snail." She smiled.

"You are feeling better?" the King asked.

"Aye. I do not believe the boys are dead, nor Indis. No one, it seems, has even seen their bodies."

"I am sending an aide tonight. Someone who knows the city well. We should have a report before morning. Would you want to be notified?"

She walked towards him. "Surely you jest, my lord. I will not sleep till the man returns."

"Then stay here. We have things to discuss and plans to make."

Supper was brought in; Théoden King, Erkenbrand, Elfhelm and Listöwel ate and talked well into the night.

"We have a dilemma before us. We came to support Boromir, see him seated upon the Chair of Gondor; now, we find a usurper on that very Chair and no sign of the company I sent forth. They should have been here already. If there was, in truth, an attack, they may have sustained injuries that have delayed them."

Silence filled the tent as each considered Théoden King's pronouncement.

"My King," Erkenbrand said, "their is another possibility. They might have been imprisoned, once they entered the city."

"The Lady Indis was certain she would be able to hide until we came," Théoden King stated.

Elfhelm stood. "We had treachery in Edoras. Mayhap there is treachery here also. A traitor could have discovered our plan, sent word to this scoundrel, and our friends discovered."

"Or," Erkenbrand stated, "they are, in truth, dead."

At that very moment, the tent flap was pushed back and a soldier stood in their midst. He saluted and waited.

All in the tent stood. "What did you discover?" Théoden King asked with as much force as he was able to muster, though his heart was in his throat.

"According to your direction, my Lord, I viewed the remains. They were still in the Houses waiting interment. The body was not Théodred's."

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