31. The Tunnels of Mindolluin
Early the next day, I broke my fast with Faramir. After an hour's discussion, mostly of Boromir, but now and again of Éowyn, I left him. Another dose of Elessar's draught and I knew he would sleep for at least three hours. I went to Húrin's rooms and found the man waiting for me as planned, his face still pale. We walked the circles of Minas Tirith, breaking only long enough for me to return to Faramir and the Hobbits for nuncheon. I would be gone from them soon. I needed to make sure Faramir was healing well.
The tunnels were easily found. I heard Húrin's gasp and had to mollify him for his not knowing about them. None knew of them but the Stewards and their cats. I smiled as I remembered how my mother had taken me to them, when I was small. Even though I was but a kitten, she began to teach me my duties to the Steward, the same duties she had kept all her long life. I sighed in pride. Even the Steward's did not know that we made sure a Cat of the Line was always in attendance. Some knew of the gift; others did not.
I stopped in my tracks. I had no heir. None of the Line to follow me and care for Faramir when I passed. I cursed roundly and found Húrin staring at me in confusion. Pulling myself together, I continued our inspection. I showed him where all the hidden doors were; we walked one of the tunnels all the way to its end, to the slopes of Mindolluin. The door at the end, though not used in probably an age, quietly swung open, a tribute to its Númenórean carpenters. The mountain stood before us. It would be difficult for some to make the journey; there was no path and the slopes were treacherous. Thankfully, most of the women and children had been sent off to other parts of Gondor. Only those women who helped in the Houses and the sons of some of the guards, like Bergil, were left in the City. There would be enough hands to help them navigate the way. There were caves further up, I told Húrin, that the people could hide in.
I was gratified to see that Húrin fully understood the King's plan. That his King would probably not return and this would be Gondor's only hope for the people left in the City. Once Elessar's army fell at the Black Gate, it would be up to Húrin to rally the people and take them here, to Mindolluin, and hide them for as long as he could. Eventually, we both knew, all would die.
The wounded? 'Húrin!' I cried, 'what will we do with the wounded? They cannot come this way.'
He gave me such a look of pain that I turned from him. "They will stay in the Houses and the healers will stay with them, some of them, and they will die as soldiers of Gondor. There is naught that can be done."
More death. Always more death. But why should I be surprised? Were not the King and all his men and all the men of Rohan going out to their deaths? Why should it be different for those who were left behind? We walked on again, discussing a few other things, but nothing more of death.
At last, we finished. Walking slowly back to the Citadel, I spoke to him of one last thing. "I will have supplies brought to the mouths of the tunnels, not inside so that others will discover them, but near enough so that, once the time comes, you can pack them quickly and then leave."
Húrin turned towards me and stopped. "I do not understand all this, Alqualondë. Are you planning on going somewhere? Will you not be here to help me?"
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