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Climbing the stairs was more than Indis could endure. She stopped on the third step and touched Éomund's arm. "My ribs must be bound."
He looked at her and smiled sadly. "I understand. Let us find something."
Théodred understood as well. "The blanket, back in our cell – it is worn and should tear." The lad turned, jumped the three steps, landed easily, and ran before Éomund could stop him.
Éomund helped Indis sit. "I do not understand why you sprang upon me when I entered your cell?"
"I had just made a vow to myself. To let nothing, even death, keep me from saving Boromir and Faramir. I was prepared to die. And then the door opened. I thought it was my captors again. I hoped Faramir was with them and that I could, somehow, wield enough damage to save him. Forgive me."
He smiled. "There is nothing to forgive. You fought like a warg, and, if not for your wounds, would have o'ercome me."
Théodred ran up as he finished speaking and gave Éomund the blanket. The boy helped Éomund tear a large piece off; then they helped Indis stand, and quickly wrapped the cloth around her chest. "We must pull it tight," he apologized, "else it will do no good."
Through clenched teeth, she murmured, "I understand."
When they were finished, Éomund noted her eyes were moist. Acting on impulse, he kissed her gently. "You are a brave woman, Indis of Gondor." Then, he took her arm and helped her climb the stairs.
A door barred their way when they reached the top of the stairs. Éomund tried the key; he was amazed that it worked. Opening the door slowly, he stole a look. This did not feel right, but he had no choice. "Indis, please stay here with Théodred. I will go ahead, see what may lay before us."
She nodded and smiled at the look of chagrin on Théodred's face. As she watched Éomund go through the door, she put her hand on the lad's shoulder. "One of the most difficult things, I find, about soldiering – is staying put when ordered. I want to draw my sword and surge forward. Obedience comes with difficulty to me."
Théodred turned a miserable face towards her. "It is the same for me. I am not very good at it."
"Nay. You are quite good at it, my dear Prince. During the Orc attack, in the Silent Street, and now – you are a true liege subject to your Marshal. He places his trust in your obedience, your loyalty. Cannot you see that?"
"Do you believe this is so? I have tried very hard, my Lady. Éomund has been my uncle only a short time, but he has been my mentor for many years. I would like to become like him someday."
She had to smile. So young and so intense. And then a frown creased her brow. 'Like unto Boromir,' she thought. 'Too intense for ones so young.' It was as if the world they lived in was all fear and pain and death. It hurt to think this. She remembered, when she was growing up, that life was not so hard. She wished it could have been the same for her brother and for these children. Yet, she realized the life given her by Turgon had been illusory. Because of his poor Stewardship, Gondor was now even further weakened than it had been during the days of the last of the Kings.
Théodred stirred and she recalled herself. Anxiously they waited for Éomund to return, all the while, Indis kept up a steady murmuring for the lad beside her, to encourage and comfort.
Targon's eyes opened wide. "What could you do for that fat good-for-nothing Amandil?"
"I failed my Adar and Gondor. I told the Council that I willingly gave the Rod to Amandil." Boromir shook suddenly, sobs overtaking him. He angrily wiped the tears away. He did not want this boy to see him like this. "Well," he asked furiously, trying to hide his discomfiture, "do you have a plan or are we to stay here the rest of the night, waiting for Amandil's thugs to throw me back into the dungeons?"
Targon shivered. "Nay! I have no plan but to take you with me to the buttery. It is the only safe place I know. I cannot imagine anyone looking for you there – unless the guard remembers your hunger," he replied impertinently.
"Then let us be off. I would rid myself of this room, this prison, though once I loved it."
Targon walked ahead to the hidden entrance and opened the path. Boromir followed in silence. Tears still glistening on his cheeks.
They descended the small steps, keeping their fingers splayed against the winding stair's wall as they went down. At last, they came to a landing. Targon stopped, put his hand on Boromir's shoulder and whispered, "I will look first. Wait for me."
After only a moment, Targon returned. "All is clear. Come with me." He led the way down a servant's hall, down some more stairs, and into the Third Company's buttery.
The smells almost overcame Boromir, so famished was he. He leaned against a table. "I am sorry. I can go no further. I cannot even remember the last time I had food." Suddenly, he did remember. It was with Amandil and he remembered he had been drugged. He looked at the food about him with suspicion.
"Well, if you are hungry, come over here. We can eat quietly and none will see us." He led Boromir to a table in a far corner of the room and then ran to bring cheeses, bread and wine. He broke pieces off the bread, quickly sliced the cheese and handed it to Boromir. Then he poured a cup of wine.
Boromir sat still. His skin prickled. 'I will not be fooled again,' he thought guardedly. Though it felt like all the foes of Gondor rode in his stomach reaching for the food before him, he would not eat. "You first," he said, unceremoniously.
Targon looked at him as if he had lost his mind. Scowling, he took the food and bit into it; then drank a long swallow from the cup. Angrily, he slammed the cup down. "There!"
Unshaken, Boromir smiled. "I am not sorry. You must know, I have been drugged only a day ago. By the very same kind of food." His eyes shone with tears. "Thank you," he whispered and dove into the meal before him.
"Stop!" Targon cried and Boromir spat the food out, sure now that he was eating something foul.
"Nay!" Turgon laughed through his own tears. "`Tis not poisoned. But if you have not eaten in such a long time, you should eat and drink slowly. Else your stomach rebel."
Boromir started to laugh, but the laughter turned to sobs. "I do not know whom to trust," he said wearily. "I am sorry." He laid his head on the table and gave into the fear, confusion and pain, weeping bitterly as he thought of Faramir, alone somewhere, mayhap with no food, certainly with no comfort. It was more than he could endure.
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