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She had all the necessary simples at her command in her herb cellar. 'Nine Herbs Charm' needed Mugwort, Waybread, Cress, Black Nightshade, Chamomile, Nettle, Crab Apple, Chervil, and Fennel. After pounding these to a powder, she mixed them with soap and the juice of an apple, and applied the charm itself, as a salve, on the lady's forehead, all the while singing into the mouth, ears and then the face of her potilas.
Indis stirred. The leech laughed as Théoden King sighed in relief. "Did you not trust me to heal her? 'Twas only a faint. If I cannot heal a faint, then call me useless!"
She turned again towards her patient. 'The heart needed the charm, for was it not broken?' she thought to herself. She did not say this to the King, only thought it. He seemed a fool this day, not even able to prepare the noble lady for such devastating news. The loss of a brother, nay that is not what caused her heart to stop, but the loss of a husband, one entwined in the heart. This one had never had dalliances, she could tell from the pain.
"Now you just rest yourself, dear lady, and none will bother you while you are under my care," she crooned.
There would be no argument from Indis. She never wanted to open her eyes again. The awakening brought such pain with it; her very heart felt torn in two; she did not think she could breathe. Once she realized she was not dead, she began to sob.
Morwen sat on the bed and held her hand. "Shush now, dearest friend. Shush now. Your sister-friends are with you. We will not leave you."
Listöwel sobbed quietly.
Morwen hushed her, giving the younger woman a look that would wither a warrior, but nothing could assuage Listöwel's grief for her friend.
"Leave us now," Théoden King commanded, looking directly at the Gondorian woman.
The leech gathered her tools, plucked at Listöwel's sleeve, and motioned for her to leave. "The King has spoken," she hissed as Listöwel twitched nervously away from her. A look from Morwen quieted her. Angrily, Listöwel left the room, followed by the leech.
The bedchamber grew quiet. Indis' sobs had ceased. She held her hand tightly to her chest; anguish filled her and pain flamed from her heart to her very extremities.
"There will be no time for mourning for you, I am afraid," the King's strong voice broke through the rush of sound that filled her ears and crashed against her being, the sound of a heart beating too wildly. "We must decide what is to be done. I have sent an errand-rider to Minas Tirith. Another cortege has been sent to recover your brother's body. They will bring it here. Then we will prepare an assemblage and ride in state with the body to Gondor. I will bring two full éored's with me. Who do you deem will sit on the Steward's Chair?"
Her eyes flew open. Gasping for breath, she turned to him. "Bring back the rider immediately." Her voice was ragged from the tears, but strong. "Bring back the rider at once and do not again presume to order Gondor about."
Théoden King stepped back a moment from the force of her anger. "You would presume to speak to me thus?" he wanted to shout, but remembered her state and gave her leeway.
Indis placed her fingers to her forehead, massaged it absently, and then sat up. Morwen looked upon her in shock, but she let it not stop her. She threw the coverlet off and stood up. Swaying but a moment, she held up her hand to stop the offers of help. She walked to the bowl on the nightstand, laved her face, and turned. "I will take the Regency. I am the daughter of Ecthelion and the guardian of the heir. Until Boromir has come of age, Gondor will be under my care. Send Listöwel back and leave me. I must spend time in thought."
Théoden stood there, transfixed. Morwen's mouth hung open. Indis turned her back on them and walked to the desk, sat, and began writing.
After a moment, when she heard no sound of their departure, she turned and gave them a withering glance. "One more thing. I do not want Boromir nor Faramir to hear of their father's death from any but me. That is my duty and my responsibility. Please abide by my decision." Her voice grew quiet. "Now, please leave me. Please."
Once the room was emptied, her tears began again.
'So this is how poor Denethor felt when his beloved Finduilas passed. By the Valar, I did not understand. If I had known the pain of losing your heartmate… dearest Denethor.' Her chin began to quiver. 'Mayhap he is at peace. And my beloved venno, my Arciryas. He will be healed from the cares and worries that have plagued him all these years. No more to carry the weight of Gondor's Master Healer, nor to hold a dead comrade in his arms and weep over the loss. No more to see a friend waste away with no hope for healing, nor to hold my hand in his…' She laid her head on the writing table and sobbed. She did not hear Listöwel enter.
"My Lady," Listöwel greeted her, knowing by the look Morwen had given as they passed in the hall that a change had come upon her dearest friend.
Indis sat up. She beckoned to Listöwel who knelt by her side. "Listöwel, I have great need of your courage and friendship. Much will happen in these next days, and I will need your strength. Are you ready to change the mantle you wear?"
"I am naming myself Regent of Gondor."
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