Part 94 – Healing
One Day Earlier
Morning set on the compound of Esteldin as the rangers busied themselves with their own tasks. They switched out guards and sentries at their posts, they retrieved water and made food for themselves and others. Other rangers cleared the dust that had settled on the stoney doorways that the wind of the night blew in from the passes. The weapons and armor venders in the forecourt of the compound set up their shops once again like they had done a thousand times before. All were busy, like usual, in the compound.
Magla woke up to Estonethiel feeling her way around the potions and draughts she had stored upon a small flat surface nearby. Sergee started to writhe, again in pain; moaning and gritting his teeth as he had been doing off and on throughout the night. “End the pain, Estonethiel, please end the pain,” he begged the elf as she continued to riffle through her draughts unsuccessfully.
“I am,” she said. “I can only do my best. I cannot find the draught for the pain.” Her hands were feeling each bottle that stood on top of a simple wooden chest with drawers beneath. She handled each one, feeling around it and then placed it down to feel the next.
“Let me look for it,” Magla said as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “If I knew what it looked like I could find it for you.”
“I cannot describe the look of it,” she said. “The shape is round on one side and straight on the other. It’s topped with a cork that feels thinner on one side and wider on the other.”
Magla looked for the draught but he too could not find it. Sergee writhed louder in his pain as it became much worse. His moaning frustrated Magla which pushed him to stress, “I can’t find it!” he yelled and tried to push the potions off the table when Estonethiel grabbed his arms.
“Try to calm down, Magla. Calm down,” she said in her usual soothing voice. “Most of the time, if I cannot find something by just looking, I move all other things to find it.”
He thought about what she said and then moved the entire chest out from the wall. Behind the chest, there were two bottles sitting on the floor, apparently fallen behind at some point. “There are two. One is as you described. The other is a shorter one with a greenish look to it.”
“We will not need that other one yet. That is the poultice I have been applying to his skin,” Estonethiel said. “I am only glad we have the one you found.” She placed out her palm to receive the bottle. Magla gave it to her and she poured it into the mouth of Sergee who still writhed in pain for a little while longer. “Now it is only time. His pain should subside soon.”
“How long will it take for him to recover fully?” Magla asked.
“Recover fully he will not. He will never look the same as he did. He will bare the scars for the rest of his life. But to recover his strength enough to go out again, I know not. It could be a week, a month, a year…it all depends on his vitality. We all have a different amount. I felt his was strong, but that is only a modest guess of an elf. In truth I know not when he will awaken. I can only guess, which his why I told you it could be a day, a month, or a year.”
Magla walked toward a wall and just stood at it, clearly frustrated. “If only all of this had not happened,” he said as he shook his head. “All of this is a terrible happenstance. You’re blind; Sergee is greviously injured; Eleswith and Helesdir are missing. And now we have Theomin who has gone looking for his brother. I know not what strength I still have in my body, but I will not let Teryndir live to see another day if Theomin brings him here alive.”
“Anger is inside of you,” Estonethiel stated.
“Really? You think?” he angrily spouted.
“Look at me,” she said softly. “Do I have the look of anger? I lost my sight yet without it I am still living. Sure everything is more difficult but I can still perform my duties. I do not want to take this feeling you have toward Teryndir away from you, but he is Theomin’s duty now. If he chooses to end Teryndir’s life, so be it. If not, please do not take that Theomin’s decision away from him.”
“He deserves death,” Magla said with rage.
“I agree, but that is not for Theomin to decide. I need your help now. Sergee will need more healing draughts for the pain and also to heal from his wounds. They will not be easy to cure and with any luck he can pull out of this with no more than the scars. Though I am confident he will recover from those scars, the emotional ones may be much worse.”
By mid morning the draught for pain had started working and Sergee was resting peacefully. Magla and Estonethiel were making a list of the plants that needed to be collected when Eotheron and Helesdir finally came through the the door. A feeling of releaf washed over Magla’s body as he finally saw his friend for what felt like forever.
Magla went to Helesdir and they both embraced much like brothers. “I missed you, Helesdir. I believed you dead.”
“I believed I was too,” Helesdir said with sadness in his eyes.
“And Eleswith? Where is she?” Magla asked.
Both Eotheron and Helesdir looked down but Helesdir’s tone changed as he had the sudden rush of sadness. “We could not find her. Eotheron looked for both of us but only found me. I am grateful for him for saving me from that place,” he looked at Eotheron with a smile, “but in the end, I am less complete without Eleswith. I feel empty like a glass with no water in it. Just…” he closed his eyes, “just empty.”
Magla said nothing. He only lowered his head and patted Helesdir on the shoulder. He stayed there for a while, all in silence as they hung their heads. Estonethiel was the one who broke the silence. “I am very sorry for breaking the grieving, but I will need certain healing plants if Sergee is to recover. When he wakes, he will need them so I need to have them ready.”
“We can go, Eotheron,” Magla said. “We are the most prepared of the whole company.”
“Good, we can bring Theomin along,” Eotheron suggested.
“No, we cannot,” Magla said. Eotheron looked at Magla with shock. “When you left, so did Theomin out the west gate to retrieve Teryndir.”
“I need to go retrieve him,” Eotheron said with a sudden impatience.
“You cannot, our first priorty is Sergee,” Magla said.
“You can do this yourself, Magla. You are more than capable. I have seen you in combat before. You are a one-man army.”
“Not now,” Magla admitted. “Since the valley, I have felt less confident. I have felt less sure of myself and my abilities. I am just not sure of myself. I spent the whole time since the valley questioning myself and how adept I am at combat. You remember that glade north of here when Theomin and I went looking for you. If it was any other time before the valley of the worms, I would have been able to rip your arms off before you had a chance to take me. I thought I was invinsible but now I’m…” he paused with humiliation, “…I’m realizing I am just as vulnerable as anybody else. And that scares me.” He looked at Helesdir who had sat down with a look of longing. “Besides, I cannot take my good friend Helesdir. He needs to recover from his own wounds of the heart.” He looked at Eotheron. “I need you to come with me. The ingredients are near a den of goblins. Though not as tough as orcs, they are deadly in great numbers.”
Eotheron looked at Magla for a while. He had a look of great thought as he just staired at Magla, then the rest of the room. “Okay then. I will go with you. But if Theomin has not returned by daybreak tomorrow, we must look for him.”
“Yes,” Helesdir agreed. “We do not want any of his scheming to cloud Theomin’s mind.”
With that, Magla and Eotheron set out for Eastern Nan Amlug. It was a fast journey to the valley and an even faster venture to the small glade where the flowers bloomed in the thicket in the shadows of the trees. The whole time, the two stayed quiet. Magla was not known for keeping a conversation and Eotheron just kept his mind on Theomin’s well being. They finished up and gathered the whole lot of weeds and flowers in a sack and Magla lugged them back northward toward the pass to Esteldin.
“So you are from those lands south of here. Where that tall hill is, right?” Eotheron broke the silence.
Magla nodded. “That’s right. The tall hill is called Aman Soul o Weathertop. What of it?”
“Nothing, I only wanting to more about my companion, that is all. Have you always been a warrior?” Eotheron enquired.
“Not always,” Magla admitted. “I much rather wanted to be a writer or a poet or a,” he smiled, “or a teacher.”
“Odd that you chose to be a warrior. What brought you to this life?” Eotheron asked as they finally passed the vale into Eastern Nan Amlug.
“I didn’t quite choose it. There had been a need for warriors for a while. Wargs and orcs have been steadily increasing in the Lone Lands. Plus, I never really had a way with words. They never seem to flow out of me quite the way I would like them to.”
“I suffer from the same fate, my friend. It sounds right in my head, but once it leaves my mouth, it sounds wrong.”
“Right. I guess we are cursed with that flaw as I am cursed with this ability to fight,” Magla sort of laughed off.
“I would not call it a curse. I would say it is a great ability to fight.”
“I don’t feel it is. My hope is to some day rest and have a family of my own, maybe write some poetry here and there and teach. Maybe, even someday write a book.”
“A nice blade of steel and a long ride on a horse is my life. I have always enjoyed the adventure of being a warrior.” He looked down and laughed, “So much so that I challenged many men of the Rohirrim to fight with me. I took their challenges seriously and wanted so badly to join them. As it were, they sent me on an impossible mission to fight men from the east who had waded over the River Anduin to invade Rohan from the east. I took them for their challenge, which was a horrible mistake. If it was not for Theomin, I know not of what would have happened to me. I felt I was invinsable, much like you. It turned out I was no more invinsable as the next person. I could only swing my sword better. But if it was not for Theomin, I would have been moping around in the Wold right now, sipping on ale and getting fatter.”
Magla gave a slight laugh, “I suppose we owe a lot to Theomin. He has been a strong leader for our group. Much stronger than Teryndir. He has done more than Sergee and is less quick to judgement as Helesdir. I only hope his decision to retrieve Teryndir in that elf refuge was not an ill one.”
“That is my hope too. Though I feel his prowes in battle and mind games is far superior to our own. He may be doing very well yet. Though I would feel better if he was there in that compound right now.”
“You and me both, Eotheron. You and me both,” Magla said as they finally entered into the threashold of Esteldin.
Night in Esteldin was quiet. All were sitting in their chairs with Sergee lying, asleep from another dose of the concoction Estonethiel gave him. Estonethiel sat and hummed hoping her humming would be soothing. It was unsure whether the humming was comfort for Sergee, the rest of the group, or just for herself. She just sat there next to Sergee, stroking his skin and humming her tune softly and gently.
Eotheron sat facing the door. The heal of his left leg was beating on the floor waiting for Theomin to come through the door. Every so often he would have a sigh of disbelief as he could not believe he was still there and Theomin was still outside.
Magla sat next to his friend Helesdir, who was sitting with a sad longing face. Magla just stared at his friend as he wanted to aid his friend but knew not how to comfort a heart that was broken. So he just staired with a hopeless face with a feeling of failure.
One by one, each person of the group slowly fell to sleep with Estonethiel being the last. Her soothing humming aided each one of the company to their sleep. At last, after hours in the room humming to herself, Sergee, and the rest of the company, Estonethiel too fell to sleep next to Sergee.
It was early the next day when Eotheron woke to an empty room, except for Sergee. He realized he was alone and bursted out the door. It was bright outside and after shielding his eyes from the sudden sunlight, he came to the rest of the company talking amongst themselves. “Has Theomin arrived yet?” he asked with anticipation.
They each looked at each other. “He has not,” Helesdir finally said.
“Then I will go after him. If he has not yet returned by now I must go find him,” Eotheron said.
“Wait a moment,” Helesdir said as he blocked the way of Eotheron. “You cannot go on your own. But none of us is capable of going out there. It’s too dangerous. Orcs have been spotted nearby Lin Giliath.” Eotheron looked at Helesdir with confusion, “That elven place you took Teryndir to.”
“I care not. Theomin is my charge, my friend, and I am a much better friend to him than you ever will be,” Eotheron said with anger. “I should have gone myself last night. I should not have done what you said. None of you wanted to go find him.”
“We could not go. Sergee needed our aid,” Magla defended his decision.
“Do no speak of that. There are planty of other rangers here who could have done the same job. None of you thought of getting their aid…”
“They have jobs of their own…” Helesdir tried.
“Oh their own jobs are not worth it. They are skilled warriors, not like you scared little men. You are a dishonor to Theomin,” Eotheron turned toward the forecourt when he was punched down by Magla.
“How dare you soil our names to bolster your own vanity,” Magla yelled at Eotheron as he pushed his hands in Eotheron’s face as they restled on the ground. “I am not a scared little boy. I am a warrior. I cannot stand by while you insult us.”
Helesdir tried to pull Magla off of Eotheron when Magla ran his arm into Helesdir, knocking him down to the ground. Eotheron, with his leg, pushed Magla off of him as Magla flipped to his back. Eotheron then strangled Magla and growled at him, “After the valley you have become nothing but a whining baby. You cannot go back out because you are too scared. Become a man again, Magla. Stop being a baby. You are…” he said no more because Estonethiel kicked Eotheron off of Magla.
“Stay this nonsence immediately,” she yelled at the two men as she hoisted Magla up rather forcefully. “You are both honorable men, not little boys fighting over a child’s playtoy. Eotheron, Magla needed you to go with him but it was your decision to stay. Noone pulled you back here. You stayed by your own volision. Do not accuse anyone else of your own actions. And Magla, you were once the stoic rock our group. I looked up to you because you had the confidence of a true warrior. I have kept that feeling even after the valley. But now I have ceased to feel that way. Now that I know you were rolling around on the ground with this man; you are nothing but a little child to me.”
The two grown men looked at Estonethiel as if she was a parent scolding her children. They both hung their heads. It was as if she could see all that was happening and knew exactly who to strike and when as she continued to yell at the two men. “I am capable of going out to find the plants on my own. I may have been blinded, but I can see more than you know. I needed you both to find the plants in order to occupy your minds. You are clouded with much sorrow of late, I understand that, but the feeling of the valley is not what concerns me. Your feeling of killing a man for what he has done to us is what concerns me. To be so willing to murder him for your own vengience is just…” she shook her head as only a mother would do, “…it is what children do. I really hope Thoemin is more evolved on this matter than you are.”
All of the sudden, someone rode in like the wind upon a storm. It was a person clad in steel blue armor, a face mask conceling his head and eyes, and had the image of a golden tree moulded to the chest piece. Behind him, a complement of rangers trailed the elf. He came to Estonethiel and spoke directly to her, “Estonethiel, mae govannen.”
“Mae govannen, Sylderan,” she recognized his voice. Estonethiel held her hand up to hault the rangers before she continued, “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit at such an interesting time,” she said to Sylderan, but not looking directly to him.
“A man has been poisoned by an arrow in the orc vale of Nan Wathren. He is breathing but is barely alive. We need you to concoct a draught of poison for the man as he is barely capable of anything else but his slight breathing.”
He then stormed off back toward the forecourt of Esteldin and as swiftly as the elf came, he left their presence and the dumbfounded rangers again. All in the company looked with sudden fear as all were quiet. Estonethiel was the first to move back to the crafter’s court of the compound when Eotheron asked, “Where are you going?”
“I am making the draught,” she said.
“What about Theomin?” he insisted.
She stopped and tried to look directly in the direction of Eotheron. “Are you blind or just that stupid? That injured person may very well be Theomin. Now leave me in peace while I start making that poison draught.”
Estonethiel marched off to the crafter’s court while the Helesdir, Magla, and Eotheron stood silently until Helesdir spoke up, “I’m sure she didn’t mean to call you stupid.”
“I know she meant it and she may a be very right. I do not make smart decisions,” Eotheron said.
“Those decisions got you here, did they not?” Helesdir said.
“If it’s any conciliation,” Magla said, “I feel she is not right about you being stupid. But she is right about the other things. You needed not to go with me. I did not pull you to go and but I thank you for coming with me. I, on the other hand, have disappointed her. I had not spoken up before but always had a lot to say. I just never had a way to say it. Perhaps it would be better if I had not spoken at all.”
“No,” Helesdir spoke up. “I am rather glad you are speaking. Though stoic you were, I would much rather you voice an opinion than for me to make a bad decision and you not voice it.”
Soon, another commotion rang out through the forecourt of Esteldin. Again, the elf rider rode his horse to the center court where the three were standing. Behind, Bragga came with Theomin riding. A collective sigh of relief poured over the three men as they saw Theomin was okay. But slouched before him was Teryndir, obviously dazed with the poison.
“Where is Estonethiel?” Theomin demanded emediatly. “I need the poison draught for Teryndir, he is in a terrible state and I know not how long he has.”
“The draught is for him?” Helesdir burted out without much thought. “It his his decision that lead us here. When he abandoned us at the mouth of Naglangon, he sealed our fate.” He looked down, “He sealed Eleswith’s fate.”
“I know,” Theomin said with all concern, “He did seal her fate and I grieved, believe me I grieved. But you know not what happened in the valley of Nan Wathren. He was the reason we escaped. He aided me because he knew Kronog was going to take me and torture me once again. Teryndir is a good man. Besides, I have seen too much death as a result of me not being able to do anything about it. In Rohan, my friend Kaymel died because I did not know enough about the knowledge of poisons. And not long ago Taidir…” he trailed off because his death still rocked his soul, “Taidir died by blade but he was suffering because of a poisoning of dark magic. I cannot let the same happen to Teryndir. He has done wicked things, I know that. But please do not condemn him to death. He has changed and I want you to see that. I need you to see that.”
“He is no more a good man than those evil orcs in the Lone Lands,” Helesdir said. “I will end his life right here and now!” He grabbed a hammer that sat nearby and began to swing it at Teryndir’s head.
“Wait, wait, wait,” Magla said as he struggled to stay Helesdir’s hand. He finally ripped the hammer out of Helesdir’s hand and held it in his. He began to talk before he felt how nice the hammer felt in his hand. The then continued, “You said you would need a person to help you on your decisions. I know now is the best time for that. Are you willing to kill Teryndir for his crimes? Estonethiel was right. And I would go even further. If we were to murder him in this state he is in right now, we would be no better than that which consumed Teryndir.” He looked at Theomin and continued, “What if Theomin is right. He may have evolved. He may have changed his ways after what happened with Nanglengon. If we killed him now, we would never know that. He may be up to one of his schemes but we would never know that. Or,” he looked at Eotheron and Helesdir who looked beaten, “or he may be our closest ally against what ever else we face in the future. He is Theomin’s and Sergee’s brother. We cannot take their brother away from them, no matter how we feel about him. I know Sergee saw the good in him and now Theomin sees the good in him too. I have not seen it but I believe. At least I have evolved on that.” He looked at Helesdir and Eotheron who looked at Magla with disbelief. “Now if you will excuse Theomin and I, we need to bring Teryndir to be healed. It may not be your way, but it is the right way.”
With that he and Theomin pulled Teryndir off Bragga and placed him on the shield of Sylderan. Both Magla and Theomin carried Teryndir to the crafter’s court of the compound accompanied by Sylderan. Magla carried the shield at the feet of Teryndir and Theomin at the head. Teryndir was pale and unresponsive. His eyes were open, looking up at the sky as his puples were dialated fully. His mouth was agape and his breathe was labored as he weezed as he breathed. Sweat poured from his brow and his hair was also wet from his sweat. They knew not whether Teryndir heard the whole argument, and only time would tell if he did.