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The Healer's Journey  by Linda Hoyland

Estel part Two Baptism of Fire


Write a story or poem or create an artwork in which a character unaccustomed to acting as a leader must make an important decision.

Warning This chapter might upset anyone of a squeamish disposition.

Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Rivendell was almost deserted. Master Elrond and most of the Elves had gone into the surrounding countryside to mark the coming of spring with an Elven ritual.

Estel was enjoying practising archery in the gardens away from the critical eyes of his Elven tutors. Only his mother was nearby, her spindle was in her hand, but instead of spinning, she was watching her son with a mixture of pride and apprehension as he repeatedly hit the target. Her little boy was growing up into a warrior all too quickly.

The peace of the spring afternoon was suddenly shattered when a dark haired man, obviously a Ranger by his dress and appearance, came running towards them.

"Our village has been raided by Orcs! Many are wounded," he cried. "We have come to seek help from Master Elrond. I am Halthorn, son of Halborn."

"Master Elrond is away for the afternoon," said Estel. He hesitated only for a moment. These men were his mother's folk and always welcomed within Elrond's halls. "But bring your wounded here and await his homecoming."

The man turned and called. A bedraggled group emerged from the trees. Women clutched babies and wept. Many of the men were covered in blood and some were being carried by their fellows.

"Are the sons of Elrond here or Glorfindel or Erestor here?" Halthorn asked urgently. "Our wounded cannot wait! The foul Orcs slew our healer."

"I am sorry, they have all gone to celebrate the coming of spring," said Estel. "But bring your wounded within. I will do what I can."

"You are but a boy!" Halthorn said. "How can you aid them?"

"I am fifteen and Master Elrond is teaching me the healing arts," said Estel. "There is no other here save my mother and I and few guards and servants."

"It seems we have no other choice then," said Halthorn. "They will surely die if no one tends them."

Estel paled, but tried not to show his apprehension. "Mother," he said, "Will you see that the women and children are cared for? We will take the wounded the Master Elrond's healing chambers."

"Gladly, my son. Please come with me." Gilraen drew her veil about her face and beckoned the women and children to follow her to the guest hall, while Estel led the way to the healing rooms. By now the guards and servants had appeared. He swiftly told the guards about the Orc attack and asked the servants to bring hot water.

At first Estel felt quite overwhelmed and wished that he were elsewhere. Long had he desired to but into practise the healing arts that he had been taught, but not like this away from Master Elrond's skilful supervision! He took a deep breath and tried hard to recall all that Elrond had taught him. The first thing you must do is staunch bleeding when you are dealing with the wounded. Do not waste time dealing with someone you cannot save while there are those that you can in need of your help. He could hear Master Elrond's words in his head as clearly as if his teacher stood beside him.

The Rangers had placed six wounded men upon the beds. Two were sitting up and did not appear too badly hurt. Two others were groaning loudly, but did not seem to be bleeding very much. That only left two. One was deathly pale and had a deep wound across his chest and was coughing up blood and froth, the other was bleeding copiously from a wound in his leg.

Estel hurried towards the man with the injured leg, grabbed a cloth and pressed it down firmly against the wound.

"What about my brother?" cried one of those sitting up. "He is dying!"

"I am sorry!" Estel swallowed hard."I fear his wound is beyond my aid." He felt sick, but he continued to apply pressure to the bleeding leg until the flow stopped. "Hold that in place!" he ordered a hovering servant. He went to where Master Elrond kept his medicines and mixed potions of poppy juice for the wounded. He gave the largest amount to the dying man, hoping he could at least ease his pain. Then he cleaned and stitched the other men's wounds as gently as he could.

"Estel, what has happened here?" Master Elrond's voice started him, as he was engrossed in tying a bandage.

"These men were wounded by Orcs. I tried to help, but I am not sure if I acted rightly."

"I will take over now."

Estel sank down thankfully on a chair in the corner while Elrond attended the patients. He found he was shaking.

A while later, Elrond came over to him and placed a comforting hand upon the boy's shoulder. "Estel, I am so proud of you, " he said. "You have saved a life today and treated each man's wounds skilfully."

"There was one I could not save," Estel's eyes wandered to the now motionless form shrouded with a linen sheet.

"I could not have saved him either. The Orc blade sliced deep into his lung. There are some wounds no healer can treat. You treated the wounds that can be healed. It seems you have heeded my teachings well. I will make a fine healer of you yet! Now go and rest then eat when you can."

Estel left the healing chambers, his young face glowing with pride.

Elrond thoughtfully watched him depart. It seemed that his foresight concerning the boy was already coming to pass. He believed that Estel would be a great healer and a great leader one day A high destiny could await his foster son.

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