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Ten Thousand Years Will Not Suffice  by Agape4Gondor

Ch. 24 - Third Age 3017 - Part Seven - B

“We found the errand-rider, Captain Mardil. Well, we found what remained of him.” The man spoke quietly. They were standing a little ways off from the rest of the men. “It looks to have been Orcs.”

“What else?” Mardil said in disgust. “So the Lord Denethor still does not know and we still have no escort, but the little we have brought with us.”

“We could stop at the outpost at Calenhad.”

“We will stop, though I am afraid any delay will not bode well for Captain-General Boromir.” Mardil motioned and Éomer joined them.

“The errand-rider never made it to Minas Tirith. I will not dare send another.”

“Orcs?”

“Aye. Even with the beacon outposts so close, still he did not make it.”

“It does not seem wise to send another. Our company is not large enough to waste men in such a manner.”

“Aye. It is almost night and we will not reach Calenhad this night. We will camp here, if you agree.”

“We are on Gondor’s soil now, Captain Mardil. What I agree to or not is of no importance.”

“Lord Denethor has made it clear that the men of Rohan are allies. As my ally, your input is deemed important. Let us speak of this no more. I believe we should camp here this night. Do you agree?”

Éomer smiled warmly. “Have you searched the area? Does it seem practical?”

“I have and it does.”

“Then if I may use my men as the first watch?”

Mardil clasped Éomer on the shoulder. “That would be well. My men will want to make sure their Captain-General is comfortable. They will raise camp.”

Both men went their separate ways. The soldier who had brought the news looked after them in surprise. “This is not the way of those of us closer to Minas Tirith,” he wondered to the soldier who had found the rider’s body with him. “The Rohirrim by Amon Dîn do not treat us as this man has done.”

Éomer stopped. He walked back to the men, who shied back in alarm. “Forgive my men, then.” He spoke with fervor. “That is not our way. I would not make excuses for them, but mayhap they have been too long away from the Golden Hall. Théoden King renewed Eorl’s vow to Denethor when he took up the crown. Denethor renewed Cirion’s. We are allies, no matter what others might say.”

The men nodded their heads in wonder. Éomer saluted them and walked back to the camp. He set his pickets and then found his way to the tent they had pitched for Boromir. The healer was busy about her work. Éomer ran his hands through his hair. Mardil walked up to him and motioned for him to sit. After finishing their meal, Mardil turned to the Rohir. “I heard what you told Guilin’s men. Thank you.”

“Guilin?”

“Aye – the captain of the men who accompanied Boromir. ‘Twas his body that lay in the cave next to Boromir.”

“Too many good men fall.”

“Aye.”

The Rohirrim began to sing softly as Anor coursed her way behind the White Mountains.

“I do not know the language of Rohan; what are they singing about?”

“It is a song of the Golden Hall of Meduseld in our city of Edoras. It tells of the sun glinting upon its roof. The beauty of the fields and the grasslands of Rohan in her path, warmed and turned as golden as the Hall by the sun’s glint.”

The song felt sad and Mardil found himself transported back to Minas Tirith. It had been long since he had seen the White Tower, the Tower of Ecthelion, as it gleamed in the sunlight. He missed it terribly. Now, he was returning, but the homecoming would be bitter.

“My father told me that he met Lord Denethor first by the Mering. The Steward was but a man new grown at the time. The men of Gondor challenged the men of my country to a singing battle. The Lord Denethor refused. Said his voice scared the great mountain cats.” Éomer chuckled. “They became fast friends.”

“Then perhaps we shall become fast friends?”

“I would like that, Captain Mardil.”

“Nay. Mardil only.”

Éomer nodded his head only to have it snap back as the sounds of Boromir’s screams rent the night air. Both men stood and ran to the tent. The healer was bent over the Gondorian, holding his hands as he thrashed about. The wound was bleeding. Éomer knelt on Boromir’s right and Mardil on his left. The healer quickly brought a cup to Boromir’s mouth and attempted to make the man swallow. He only choked. She tried again and Boromir took some of the proffered tea. ‘Valerian,’ thought Mardil. Two or three more drops were taken by Boromir and within a few moments the thrashing ceased.

“What caused this?” Éomer asked.

“I know not. He is coming awake though. Might be the pain from his wound.” She clucked angrily. “He has pulled the stitches out. I will have to sew him up again. Hold him a little longer while I find my needle.” She scavenged about the place and then turned with a glee-filled smile upon her face. “Here it is.” She bent and began to sew the wound.

Mardil held his tongue. She had not even washed her hands!

At last, she finished her work and wiped her hands on her apron. “There! That should hold him, at least till the next time he thrashes about.” She walked away.

Mardil went to the fire and dipped a cloth in a pot of water that stood boiling to the side of the fire. He brought it to Boromir and gently wiped the wound. The captain sat on the floor and took Boromir’s hand.

He startled back, but kept the cloth held tight. “Boromir!” he whispered as the grey eyes looked up at him.

“All is well with my men?” the Captain-General whispered.

“Aye, Captain. Sleep now. We ride for Minas Tirith in the morning.”

Boromir nodded and closed his eyes.

“That is a good sign, Éomer. He speaks.” Mardil sat and watched his captain until Boromir’s chest raised and lowered easily.

“It is, Mardil. However, you did not sleep last night, friend,” Éomer commented. “I will take first watch.”

Mardil looked up with weary eyes. “Thank you, again.”

He crawled to a blanket that lay spread out to the side and fell onto it; his eyes closed.

Éomer’s head dropped. “Ever evil wins out.”

“Nay!” Mardil sat up with a start. “Friendship has been won this day. Forget that not, Éomer. Even in the midst of the most terrible of times, evil will not win out.”

~*~

They passed Calenhad, Min-Rimmon, and Erelas. Nardol could be seen clearly. Mardil sighed in relief and pointed out the beacon hill to Éomer. “We are more than half way home.”

Éomer nodded. “Should we pass through the forest or stay on the road?”

“The road. There is no road in the forest that I recall, though that way would prove much shorter. Without a road, Boromir would suffer greatly. More so than he has up to now.”

“When will you send the men back to Amon Anwar?”

“Once we pass Amon Dîn. Our road should be safe from that point on. Will you also send your éored back?”

Éomer smiled grimly. “I will not bring the éored onto the Pelennor, but camp it before the North-gate. Another three days then? Before we reach Minas Tirith?”

“At least. Boromir cannot continue this pace much longer. Though we only go about eight leagues a day, it is still too much for him. I will send an errand-rider when we reach Amon Din. Denethor must be prepared.”

“If you wish, I will stay with the men and you can ride yourself to the Steward. I think he should hear the news from your own lips.”

“Perhaps. In fact, I would much prefer that. When we reach Amon Dîn, we will make camp. I do not know who is in charge of the garrison there. It was Captain Guilin, but he is now dead. Whoever it is, I will ensure you and your men are safe, then I will ride on and notify those at Forannest of your coming. You will be given safe passage onto the Pelennor – you and Boromir and the men of Gondor. As you said, leave your men camped without. It will be safer for them and for you. Leave your horse at the stables outside the city; once you enter Minas Tirith, someone will meet you and bring you to the Citadel. That is where the Steward will meet you.”

~*~

Lady Miriel’s retinue was at the Harlond and all of Minas Tirith rejoiced. Trumpets rang out a greeting from every level. 

“He will come.” 

Denethor stood on the parapet, resting his hands on the wall that encircled the Citadel. Imrahil stood by his side.

“It is getting late,” observed the Prince of Dol Amroth.

“He will come.”

“Of course. Unless…”

“I have received no missives; no signal fires have been lit. He will come.”

“The ceremony is tomorrow.”

“We have been through this before. Boromir will not fail me. He will come. In time.”

~*~ 

Denethor stood on the parapet. Though the Citadel buzzed from the early morning until now, he had not left his post. Waiting.

Faramir came to him three times during the day; each time, he tried desperately to make Denethor come in for food, for rest, to meet the lady, anything, but Denethor would not be swayed. He stayed his post.

At last, Imrahil came. “My brother,” he started quietly. “You do your son a great disservice by not meeting his bride to be. She has waited patiently.”

“He will come.”

“Of course.”

“By all the mithril in Gondor, I tell you he will come!”

“He will come, Denethor. I trust him, as do you. Come now and greet the Lady Míriel and welcome her to your family.”

Faramir stood behind his uncle. He glanced northward, but there was naught to see. He turned again to watch his father, to see what the words of Imrahil would produce. At last, he saw the shoulders sag. His heart went out to his father.

“I will spend an hour with her, then I must return here.”

“Of course,” Imrahil said and gently took Denethor’s arm.

The next hour was pleasant. They met in Finduilas’ garden. Imrahil, Lady Nerdanel, Lady Ivriniel, Lady Lothíriel, Lady Míriel, Denethor and Faramir chatted of Dol Amroth, relatives, and the sea. They spoke of the various holidays that would be shared with Boromir’s betrothed. They decided which holidays would be spent in Minas Tirith and which in Dol Amroth. They spoke of who would be invited and who would stay in the Citadel and who would stay on the lower levels. They spoke of the menu and the libations. They spoke of everything… but Boromir.

After the agreed upon hour was up, Denethor stood and bowed, kissed Lady Nerdanel’s cheek, then Lady Miriel’s, took Lothíriel’s chin in his hand and smiled fondly at her, then left the gardens. Boromir’s intended held her head up high.

Faramir was impressed. “If you do not mind, Aunt Nerdanel, I meet with the Steward now. Some unforeseen, important matters. Forgive me. I will see you at the festivities tonight?”

At his uncle’s nod, Faramir bowed to them and left.

Imrahil sat next to his cousin and held her hand. Every sailor’s curse he could think of rattled through his mind. At last, he stood to take his leave. He must speak with Denethor further.

“Is there truly some untoward event that has caused his delay, Cousin, or has the Lord Boromir changed his mind?” she asked gently.

“He will not change his mind, Míriel. I promise you that, but this delay does not bode well for the Steward. Boromir would only be late if something had happened. I am concerned, as is his father.”

“Then I shall offer a prayer to the Valar before I retire tonight. For his well-being.” She stood and waited for him to stand. “Good evening, Cousin.”

“Take your rest this afternoon. I will escort you to the festival later this evening.” He kissed her lightly on her forehead, kissed his wife and daughter, and watched as they walked back to the stairs and turned towards their quarters. Then, he ran down the stairs and out onto the parapet. Denethor was nowhere to be seen. Another curse parted his lips.

“He is in the Tower,” Faramir’s grim voice rose behind him. “I could not stop him. He has locked the door.”

“It is as I feared. Did Húrin ever make an extra key for the new door?”

“He did. But he will not use it until the last moment. He is loyal to my father.”

Imrahil snorted. “As if loyalty matters when your father lays dying on the Tower floor!”

“If we could prove father lays dying on the Tower floor,” Faramir said dryly, “then he would open the door.”

“You cannot ask him to?”

“I will not. I will, however, stand outside the door, whether father will it or no, and if I hear anything that sounds ill, I will blow my horn. Húrin waits at the bottom of the stairs. I go now, Uncle.”

Imrahil nodded. Once Faramir left him, he kicked the parapet. He cursed again, loudly, and sat down on the wall. “Ulmo, Lord of Waters, give me strength to endure these proud men!”

As Anor set, Denethor left the room. Faramir stood at the top of the stairs. “My son,” he sighed heavily, “You should be with your uncle’s family. The celebration of Ethuil begins shortly. The Lady Míriel will need an escort.”

“She has Uncle and Aunt. I would be with you. I,” he noted his son’s hesitation and waited. Faramir began to walk down the stairs; Denethor followed. “Continue, my son.”

“I would ride to Amon Dîn to find news of Boromir. Please, Father. Unless you have news?”

Denethor scowled. “Though I can see much, Faramir, I cannot see you nor your brother. I have tried. He is not in my sight.”

“Then please let me ride to Amon Dîn. I will question them and then, perhaps ride further, towards Eilenach?”

“On the morrow. You will ride to Amon Dîn, but no further. Find out what you can, then report back to me.”

“But Father…”

“Nay. No further than Amon Dîn. I will wait for your report in my study. I will have the daymeal prepared. You may share it with me.”

Denethor might have smiled at the sagging shoulders of his youngest, but his heart was bleeding. Boromir would not be late, unless misfortune had struck.

~*~

“I have not danced in a thousand years, Uncle. Might you show me what some of the latest steps are?”

Imrahil chuckled. “If you were with your men, you would not be so shy. What makes you tremble this evening?”

“I do not tremble. At least,” Faramir grinned, “Father would not allow me to tremble before anyone but him. However, dancing with a woman is different than dancing a warrior’s dance under the stars! You would not dance a sea shanty tonight, would you? Why should it be different with me? And why should you tease me so?”

Imrahil relented. “Boromir has not taught you?”

“That was ages past. I cannot even remember the last dance we held here. So the steps I learned in my youth are useless for tonight.”

“Then I will show you what is current in Dol Amroth. But I cannot promise these steps will do you any good here in Minas Tirith.”

They began. Slowly at first, with turning and twirling and much laughter, until Faramir found himself wiping a sheen of sweat from his brow. “I am ill prepared for dancing. The movements use muscles that I have not used in a long while.”

“Then perhaps your daily training should encompass a bit of dancing,” the voice of Denethor broke through Faramir’s concentration and the man all but fell.

“My Lord,” Faramir gasped.

“Nay. You do well. You do not look as awkward and gangly as at your first dance, though you still have not the grace of your uncle.”

Imrahil crowed. “At last! A compliment!”

“Do not let it go to your head. My Boromir would dance circles around the both of…” The Steward could not hide the shiver that coursed through him. “Let us to the dance before my state of melancholy infects us all.”

~*~

Merethrond was regally decorated as befitted the ceremony that was to take place on the morrow. Though the festival commemorated the first day of Spring, all knew that the major reason for this evening’s event was to welcome the Lady Míriel to Minas Tirith. There were flowers everywhere, food-laden tables stood against the walls, and a large group of players tuned their instruments in preparation for the dancing to be held later in the evening. Arthad ran from group to group making sure all were enjoying themselves and that the food supply was ample.

Imrahil led Nerdanel, Ivriniel, Lothíriel, and Míriel into the dining hall. Húrin ran forward to greet them. “Ah! Lady Nerdanel and Ivriniel. Too long has it been since last you graced Minas Tirith. The echoes of your laughter have long been missed. And you,” he turned towards Lothíriel, “You have grown full well. You look lovely. The blue becomes you.” He turned back towards Nerdanel and Ivriniel. “As it seems to become all the women of Dol Amroth!”

Lady Nerdanel smiled and kissed Húrin lightly on the cheek. “You have ever been glib with your tongue, dearest cousin. I have oft wondered how a man of such striking bearing has escaped marriage. But I see now that Minas Tirith holds your heart.”

“Aye, my Lady. Indeed it does. And when was I to wed when the Lord Denethor could not govern without me?”

At that he laughed heartily, but Imrahil noted that the Warden looked about and knew he looked to see if the Steward might have overheard the comment.

Imrahil took Miriel’s hand and led her forward. “Warden Húrin. I would like to present my cousin, the Lady Míriel. Lady Míriel, this is a cousin of ours, Húrin of the House of Húrin, Warden of the Keys.”

Míriel dropped a deep curtsy and Húrin blushed furiously. “Ah, my Lady. Please do not bow to me. I am but a lowly servant of Gondor. Let me say, though, that I am most pleased to meet you. Prince Imrahil speaks highly of you.”

At that moment, the Chamberlain rapped his staff on the marble floor and all turned. Denethor and Faramir stood in the doorway. The men saluted and the women bowed. Denethor waved his acknowledgement of the welcome. The Chamberlain bid them all to continue with the festivities.

~*~

Boromir tried to sit up, but the motion only caused his head to throb painfully. Nausea o’ercame him and he leaned forward. The leach ran to his side. “You must not sit. Not good for the stomach. My stitches will come undone!” She pushed him back onto the blanket, helped him lean to the side, and waited till his stomach had emptied. Then she laid him back down and shoved handfuls of dirt over the vomitus.

Éomer came in at the sound of Boromir’s discomfort and knelt next to the man. “You are awake.”

“This way of waking is not to my liking,” the Gondorian managed a weak smile. “How long?”

“We are camped near the Great West Road. The beacon of Eilenach is about two leagues south of us. We should reach Amon Dîn tomorrow in the late afternoon.”

“I have been unconscious most of the way! What happened?”

“We came upon the Orcs as they were leaving the cave. One had begun to push you forward when he saw my men attacking. He must have become agitated. He pushed you into the wall itself. You have woken occasionally. My healer is concerned. Was there another injury to your head before this?”

“An Orc fell on me during the battle in the Firien. We clunked heads. He had a helm on; I did not. I was out for at least an hour.”

“Then that explains it. I was concerned myself. I had thought better of you.”

Boromir smiled. “I am known for my hard head, but this time, fate was too much for even me.” The smile left him. “My men. I lost them all, did I not?”

“All. Even Captain Guilin. We buried them. Deep so the Orcs would not smell the remains.”

“Thank you.” Boromir’s eyes closed wearily. “What is the date?”

“It is the eighth.”

“Ethuil, first day of spring. I had other plans for this day.”

“A last fling with a maiden, perhaps?” Éomer smiled warmly.

“Nay. Greeting my bride. She was to arrive in Minas Tirith today. It is not the best way to start a relationship, leaving her standing at the White Tree. Father will be furious.”

“If I remember your father, and I remember him quite well, he will be o’erjoyed to see his eldest alive.”

“You will stand for me, will you not, Éomer?”

“None need to stand for you, Boromir. At least, not with your father. He dotes on you.”

“As your uncle dotes on you, Éomer. The last time we were in Edoras…” The thought of the sickness that had taken Morwen, Indis and Listöwel brought a sudden stab to his heart.

“Those were sad days, Boromir. Never have I seen your father so inconsolable.”

“Once before only.”

“I am sorry.”

“You, my friend, lost your mother too. I still have a father, but your uncle dotes on you, as I have said. He spent nigh unto two evenings, before Indis took ill, telling us of the great deeds you have done in the Eastmark.”

“He is as a father to me, as is Théodred a brother. I wish you could have seen him when the King sent him to Helm’s Deep as the Second Marshal of the Mark. I could not have been prouder of him.”

Boromir smiled. “Like unto brothers are the two of you.”

“Aye,” the Rohir rider said quietly. “As close as you and Faramir.”

Boromir swallowed hard.

“Rest now, Boromir. We will break camp early tomorrow. You will see your father and your brother soon.”

~*~

The dance lasted o’erlong, in Denethor’s opinion. His heart stood upon the escarpment, not here in this raucous hall. The Steward noted that Faramir left his side only when one or the other of his cousin’s asked for a dance. He could not begrudge them that. This was to have been a joyous occasion.

“If I leave now, I can reach Amon Dîn before sunup.” Faramir stood by him once again. “Please, Father.”

“Do not tax me. I have not the strength, tonight, to argue with you. I have made my decision. At first light, you may leave, but not before.” He could feel the anger and anguish flow through his youngest’s body. The tension overwhelmed him. He wondered if it might have an odour, as of fear, but did not think so. His own heart rummaged somewhere in the middle of his throat. He could not swallow, had not been able to swallow for hours now. 

He did not dance. Though the Lady Ivriniel requested one of him twice this night. He claimed a sore back, but she smiled sadly at him, hugged him warmly, and left. Others stayed far from him; he could hear the whispers and knew all wondered where Boromir, son of the Steward, was. When Denethor opened the ceremony earlier this eventide, he had suggested that Boromir was in Rohan on state business. His words apparently did not stop the whispers. He wanted to thrash a few of the gossips. He would find out, in time, who said what, and he now vowed that they would pay for their disloyalty.

He looked about him and realized that the hall was emptying. Anor’s light was awakening. It would be dawn soon and Faramir would leave him. He motioned to Imrahil. “Brother. Faramir will be leaving for Amon Dîn within the hour. I would speak with him in private. I will say my goodnights to your family. I am sorry.”

“There is no apology needed, Brother. The women are all tired. The trip was long, though not that arduous. I do believe none of them slept well this afternoon.”

“Then another apology is needed. I should have ended this debacle hours ago.”

“Nay! It was needed. I will bring the women to bid you a good night.”

Denethor watched as the prince brought his family to the Steward’s side. “My Lord Steward,” Imrahil hugged him warmly, “We come to bid you a good night. Long has the day been, but the evening was too full of good food and entertainment to leave. Forgive us for the delay.”

Denethor kissed each of his cousin’s and smiled. “It has been a long time for all of us. I bid you sleep well. We will break our fast whenever you decide. Please do not rise early on my account.”

Míriel stepped forward and curtsied. “I will offer a prayer to the Valar tonight for the safe return of Boromir.”

Denethor stood up straight. “Thank you, Cousin. Sleep well.”

He turned and walked quickly from the hall. Faramir, after giving his farewells to the family, ran after his father.

“She does not understand war, I think, Father,” he offered in apology.

“Nay. But she will before long. Unfortunately.” Denethor turned to his son. “As your mother did. We cannot let that same fate happen to Míriel.” Denethor’s eyes were sunken and red.

“Nay, Father. We will protect her. You have already wisely decided to give her leave more than once a year to visit her home. That should ameliorate any homesickness.”

“Let us discuss your travels. You will ride to Amon Dîn and inquire as to Boromir’s whereabouts. If you do not find him at the garrison, if there is no word of him, I would have you take three companies westward and find him.”

Faramir nodded his head in stunned silence.

“Do not put yourself in harm’s way. If you are attacked, or even feel the presence of the Enemy, turn immediately back to Amon Dîn. Do you hear me? I will not chance the loss of both of you.”

“I understand, Father. I will obey you. Do not be concerned.”

Denethor groaned. “Boromir would be standing here right now if naught had happened to him or his men. I can be nothing but concerned. I will not, however, have you go into harm’s way. Do you understand me, Faramir? I cannot speak more strongly. Will you obey me; will you follow my wishes?”

“I will, Father. Please, know I will return and with Boromir!”

“Very well. Now prepare yourself and be off. I will expect a missive sent as soon as you ascertain the conditions at Amon Dîn. Do not fail to send riders!”

“Be at peace, Father. I will do as you ask. And I will bring Boromir home.”

~*~

Boromir did not wake the following morning and the healer could not be found. Éomer sent a patrol out to search for her, while his heart sank in nameless fear. Théoden King had changed much during the last few years; his fiery spirit lost in a morass of illnesses that only his councilor, Grima Wormtongue, seemed capable of healing. Rumour of treachery spread throughout the kingdom and among Éomer’s éored. Had treachery joined his own éored in the person of the leech? He shuddered at the thought.

Mardil knelt beside his Captain-General. The fever that had never left the Gondorian now raged unchecked. Boromir’s body was soaked in his own sweat and his breathing was shallow, rapid and laboured. Mardil was at a loss as to the cause of this. Gently, he moved Boromir’s shirt up and took off the bandages. He reeled back from the stench, desperately trying not to vomit. “Éomer!”

The Rohir came into the tent and stopped short. He put his hand over his mouth and nose and stepped forward. The flesh around Boromir’s wound was red, swollen, and oozed a cloudy pus. “Poison!” he whispered, as sick to his stomach as Mardil. “We must cut the wound open and clean it out. It is full of poison!”

Mardil nodded. “We have no supplies. The healer must have them with her.”

“My knife is clean. Water will help and we will find cloth to wrap the wound, once we have cleaned it.”

Éomer left the tent and called for water to be boiled; then, he placed the end of his knife into the fire’s flame. He waited until it shone a bright red. Then, he took a pail and poured some of the almost boiled water into it; then dipped his hands in and laved them and his face. He ordered the water brought into the tent when it was fully boiled. He had a man bring a pot of cold water, filled from a nearby mountain stream for the breaking of the fast.

Mardil had been trying to clean the wound as best he could with a clean shirt of his own. He looked up when Éomer entered, eyeing the knife. “I should be the one to do this. He is my liege lord.”

“It is because of my healer that Boromir lies thus. It is my duty to right this wrong.”

“What wrong, Éomer? Are you saying this was done on purpose?”

“I am, I am sorry to say. Treachery.” Éomer knelt at Boromir’s side. “I hope he stays unconscious. I have no poppy, only Valerian tea, which will be useless should he wake.” He took his knife and put it to the wound. Gulping, he began to cut along the ragged line. The stench grew worse as the wound was re-opened. Blood and pus ran out.

By this time, a soldier had entered with the boiled water. Mardil dunked a torn piece of shirt into the water and waited a moment. Then, he pulled it from the pot. Steam rose as he clenched his teeth in pain. He waved the cloth about for a moment and then used it to wipe away the blood. The soldier who had brought the water in, realized what Mardil was about. He took another piece of cloth, did the same as Mardil had done, and handed the slightly cooled cloth to Mardil. As Éomer cut further, the two men cleaned the wound behind him.

At last, Éomer leaned back on his haunches. “Is the water cool enough to pour over the wound?”

“It is, Éomer.”

“Good. Then do it.”

The water washed over the wound as Éomer gasped. Tiny bits of burrs, leaves and dirt washed out. “Not poison! The leech used the very stuff of the earth to try to kill him.” Tears fell.

“She must have put those in the wound when she sewed him the second time,” Mardil moaned. “You were not with us and I spent the time consoling Boromir. Why would she do such a thing? Her a healer?”

“Treachery. But that is no matter now. We must make sure the wound is thoroughly cleaned.

The soldier left the tent and returned a few moments later with another full pail of hot water and  a small case. “I brought my sewing kit, Captain Mardil. I did not know if you had one. The thread is clean; my mother taught me how to protect it.”

Mardil took the case and grabbed the soldier’s arm. “You did well. Now, help me pour more water over the wound. As you hold it open, I will try to get the debris out, then we will flush it.” They worked for long moments. Mardil’s fingers worked under the ripped skin feeling for any other waste. At last, Mardil was certain the wound was clean and the soldier flushed it four times with the warm water.

Éomer took a deep breath and began to sew the wound closed. He swore. “The flesh is torn from the debris; some of it is rotted. See the blackness here. And the swelling. Ah! We have no maggots, so I must cut some off else it will continue to rot and not heal properly.” Tears filled his eyes again. “Morgoth be cursed!” The blade was sharp and the wound was readied. Éomer finished sewing it closed. He sat on the floor and wiped his brow. Blood covered his hands. The soldier stepped forward and offered the pail. Éomer held out his hands and winced as the hot water washed away the blood and filth. “Thank you,” Éomer whispered as the man offered a cloth for him to dry off. Éomer did so, then wiped his face clean. “Now, let us leave it open for awhile, with just a thin layer of honey. It will heal better that way.”

“We will not travel today,” Mardil decided. “Boromir will not be able to stand the strain.”

“I agree,” Éomer laid a clean cloth lightly over the wound. “I need to-“

Shouts came from without the tent. Mardil ordered the soldier to stand guard over Boromir while Éomer and he went to see what the commotion was about.

“We found the healer, Captain. Here she is.” The healer was unceremoniously dumped from before the rider.

Mardil strode forward, but was roughly pushed aside by Éomer. The Rohir thrust his blade towards the woman’s stomach. “Feel the blood of the man you tried to kill!” he screamed in Rohirric. “Héo is déaðes scyldig!”

Mardil stood in stunned silence.

 

A/N  -- She is deserving of death… héo is déaðes scyldig  http://home.comcast.net/~modean52/old_to_new_english_s.htm

for the pronoun ‘she’ in Old English http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She also http://home.comcast.net/~modean52/oeme_dictionaries.htm

Wounds - http://www.worldwidewounds.com/2005/september/Gottrup/Surgical-Site-Infections-Overview.html

More – but very graphic. http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/tech/medicine/AnomaliesandCuriositiesofMedicine/chap12.html

http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.asp  for the first day of Spring





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