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Targon walked to the door to make sure no one was near, but more to give his young Steward privacy. When he returned, he found Boromir fast asleep. Panicked that they would be found, he considered waking him, but knew, from the little he had observed, that Boromir had suffered. He placed aprons on the floor behind the table, then gently moved Boromir to the floor, and put more aprons on top of him. He must find help. He ran from the room and bumped into Baranor.
"Have you finished those dishes yet?" the kindly old cook asked. "What ails you, lad?" he asked when he saw the terror in the boy's eyes.
"Nu… nothing. I saw a rat in the buttery and was running for a broom."
"A little rat," the man laughed gently.
"'Twas a big rat, Baranor. Very big."
"Then mayhap you will need my help."
"Nay!" the boy shouted.
Baranor looked at him shrewdly. "A big rat that you do not need my help in ridding the buttery of?"
He took the boy by the shoulder and marched him into the room. Targon was beside himself. He'd made a wretched mess of his attempt to save his Steward's son.
Looking around him, Baranor noted the pile of aprons in the corner, but said nothing. "Go. Find the broom and bring it back to me. I will stand guard against this ferocious creature until you return."
"I will stay. You can find the broom." The boy trembled as he spoke.
"Targon," the cook said, quietly. "Do as you are told."
The lad, feeling absolutely miserable, left the room.
The cook walked to the pile, nudged it with his toe, and then picked up one of the cloths. Nothing. He picked up two more, then three. Drawing in his breath, he laid the aprons back. He left the buttery, passing Targon as he went.
"I have the broom!" Targon yelled to the cook who was running down the hall. Targon sat down heavily next to the table.
Once he left the Third Company's quarters, Baranor stopped running and stooped low, holding his back as one aged and infirm. None looked at the old man and he was able to reach the stables on the Sixth Level. He whistled low. Two men stepped from the stalls. "Gildor, Gorlim, I have found the Steward! That young rascal, Targon, has him hidden away in the buttery. Let us go!"
"We will set off for the Citadel in a few hours. The guards will be changing soon; those on duty now will likely have fallen asleep. We must be beyond them before they change." Siriondil looked towards the sky through a tiny slit that he mockingly referred to as a window in his study. "And before dawn comes."
Grimbold held the warm cup of tea in his hands, grateful for the moment's peace. He had been well-fed, twice now, and had even slept some. Though he had not seen Ioreth since early afternoon, he was puzzled to realize he missed her voice. "Is there some way to enter the Seventh Level unseen?"
"There is; I am not privy to it, but Ioreth is. As a youngster, she played in the halls of the Citadel. Her mother, Firieth, was nanny to Boromir and Faramir."
"Will she help us? Can she be trusted?"
"Her eyes have been red since the news of the boys' death. I could not comfort her for days. Your appearance has given her hope, though I have not said a word as to who you are. The woman may jabber like a magpie, but she is clever. I believe she does not think you are one of Amandil's men. They are heartless, cruel people. She saw kindness when first she saw you."
He breathed a sigh of relief. "Had I known, I could have appeared cruel."
A gentle laugh filled the room. "Forgive me, Master Healer, I was walking by and the two of you spoke too loudly for these times. I thought I might offer a word of warning." Ioreth turned to Grimbold. "If you had appeared cruel, when you collapsed, I would have fed you to the peregrine that haunt the Citadel. My sisters have told me how to handle soldiers. Many have passed by our farm in the country and tried their wiles on…"
"Be still, Ioreth," Siriondil scolded lightly, "and shut the door. No. No. Come in," he said as she turned to leave. "You are needed."
"But my tongue is not; is that what you are saying, my Lord Healer?"
He laughed. "Aye. That is what I am saying. We must get into the Citadel unseen. Will you help us?"
"I will. But it is a foolish thing to attempt. Mayhap you would be better to go to the buttery of the Third Company. There are strange concoctions being brewed there besides the evening meal."
"What do you know?" Siriondil asked impatiently, pulling her into the room.
"I mean that, if this man is who I think he is, then you are better to go find allies. And quickly. I told this man that I do not just sit and twiddle my thumbs. I know a few things that you, Master Healer, obviously do not."
"I am admonished. Let us be up and away, Grimbold. I do not want to wait too long." He stood and ushered the man through the door, taking Ioreth with him.
They heard the clash of steel-scraped steel; then silence. Indis sent Théodred to the bottom of the stairs. She saw the anger in his eyes, but felt danger too near; she had to protect him. She stepped through the door.
"Indis!" Éomund laughed. "We have allies!" He ran to her, clasping her hand in his.
Bewildered, she looked beyond him and saw a cook. "A cook?"
He laughed when he saw her face. "I have been masquerading as a cook visiting from Dol Amroth since Amandil started on his rampage. Not many know me here in the city. I retired to a farm on the Pelennor many years ago. Those that do know me are enemies of our Steward." He spat the title. "My name is Baranor. Would you follow me? We must leave this place ere we are discovered."
"Théodred," she whispered. The lad came bounding up the stairs, two by two.
Cutting through a hallway and then up some more stairs, Baranor kept a brisk pace. Indis finally had to stop. Théodred called to Éomund. Both men turned back.
"Forgive me," she panted, "I had to catch my breath. Please, do not wait for me. Leave me here. I will only hold you back. You must rescue Boromir and Faramir."
Baranor looked at Éomund, questions filling his eyes.
"The Lady Indis has some broken ribs. How many, I do not know. I have bound her chest, but we have not eaten in a very long time. She has no strength left, though her heart beats for Gondor's weal as furiously as mine does for the Mark."
"I am taking you to Boromir," the man said. "It is up two more levels. You may rest then, and eat and drink to your fill." He turned towards her. Gently laying his hand upon her shoulder, he looked into her eyes. "I am sorry, my Lady, but you must try. If you are found, they will begin a search. You would not want Boromir found?"
Tears spilled from her eyes. Shuddering, she shook her head; then pushed Baranor aside and walked on ahead.
He smiled and quickly caught up to her. "My Lady, I do have good news. Faramir has been taken from the city. He is being sent to Dol Amroth as Prince Adrahil's ward."
She turned to him in horror. "And who takes him? Do you trust any of them?" Her voice rose to a shrill pitch.
He put his hand over her mouth. "Hush, my Lady. There are more than rats in these dungeons. We must not be heard. You are wise. I had not thought… I assumed he would be safer away from the city. Amandil's minions took him. They would not kill him." But uncertainty hung on his words and did nothing to assuage the fear he saw in her eyes. "If that is the case, if what you believe is true, then haste is even more important." He ran towards the next flight of stairs. "Boy," he grabbed Théodred by the shoulder, "help her up the stairs." Then he turned and ran as quickly as he could, leaving the little company alone in the stairwell.
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