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Author Topic: fresh wounds and bitter tears | Houses of Healing, After the Battle of Pelennor  (Read 2220 times)

Lothíriel

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Day and night blurred together in the time passing the Battle of Pelennor, a constant drum and lull of healers pattering about and wounded being tended to, of washing blood and pus-soaked linens and wrappings while working mortar and pestle to create more unctions and liniments for injured man and ailing bodies, of the cries and moans of death that seemed to creep through the night as those whose wounds were grievous were no longer able to fight the specter of Death that seemed to fill the houses at first. The healers were stretched a little thin in the beginning, taking whatever hands they could to keep the stem of bodies from rising any more than it already had, and one set of hands so happened to belong to Lothíriel. She had stayed behind at her own behest, although the healer in charge had agreed she was not quite healed enough to go on her own to Lossarnach.

She stayed, though, because her men were there. Her people had come to the aid of their kin and leaving them to whatever horrors awaited was not something she was going to do. Lothíriel would never rule Dol Amroth, but she cared for the men as if she did. She was Lady of Dol Amroth after all, a title she had since she was but a babe and her own mother passed into the halls of their forefathers. Staying...helping...it was the least she could do.

After the men had marched forward, Lothíriel had been given instructions to help tend to those whose wounds would need redressing in the days to come - many left behind had suffered injuries far greater than would allow them to march, after all.. The young Gondorian had moved among the rooms of these men when she was not sleeping, tending to the wounds of the soldiers, offering words of comfort and reassurance to Gondorian and Rohirrim alike in their time of need. If infection was setting up (and some were not lucky enough to avoid infection), the young woman watched as a healer would first drain the infection and then instruct her on what ointment to use to tend to the wound. And when the wounds were wrapped, when the work was done for a time, she worked on cleaning other wrappings so they could be reused, scrubbing the linen with fierce fingers and lye soap to make certain whatever possible infection lingered was eradicated so that the men would be able to heal properly.

At some point - what day was it now? - Lothíriel found herself pulled away by the healer in charge of her to tend to other business. Men who were capable of sleeping outside of the Houses were coming in now for their own wounds to be tended and the healers were still far too busy with more serious injuries to be pulled away to tend to them. This left the princess in charge of the wrappings, studying each man's wounds briefly to check for signs of infection or rot before applying any needed ointment, rewrapping the wound, and bidding them farewell. Each man who came within the room was treated with a kindness and care that bordered on motherly. Her voice was soft as she spoke to them, tender, and many of the men were grateful for such a tenderness after the initial curt manner of the healers after the battle.

She listened to the men air their grievances concerning their wounds, listened to them question whether or not they would one day be able to ride or wield sword or bow again, cursing the gods they prayed to for bestowing on them the curse of helplessness. All the while she was calm, listened to their woes and offered words of encouragement to them, offered the belief that full restoration was indeed possible if only they did not allow such anger to fester within them and darken their spirits. It was late afternoon by the time Lothíriel was able to actually take a moment to rest, to restock her diminishing stores, and she moved about the small room where the men were being guided to. Her movements were slow, stiff, the limp pronounced and the ache she felt visible on her tired face. "It seems I need more calendula and goldenseal from the closet. My dressings are almost depleted as well."

Which meant she would have to wash more dressings before the next day. She sighed, feeling the weight of the day finally settle in on her shoulders. Her shoulder slumped for a moment, her heart heavy. Would this darkness ever abate?

Eorik

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There was little for him to do but watch at present.

Not, surprisingly enough, a difficult task for him to idle along with. Eorik had learned young the value of observation, and no matter how active he'd become physically or busy his life had been, he'd always found a moment to do just that. Observe, reflect more, but both served a man of his calibre especially when faced with the tasks set before him -- none of which at present he was allowed to carry forth with.

The men -- those capable of coherency anyway -- still came to him, looked to him some, and part of him was oddly thankful to them for that; it kept him from dwelling too long on what could very well be his new reality. Not something he was prepared yet to face, despite the hazy ache that still persisted at the edge of his senses (it still woke him from true sleep in a cold sweat, for he'd never known suffocation despite his many years as a soldier before Pelennor) and the ugly, heavy poultice his arm had been cast and slung into. No, he was glad for it, even if he himself was something approaching directionless (not that he blamed Lord Eomer in the slightest, not when the Lady, he now knew, somehow lay among the ailing). But they never talked of the aftermath of battle and war, and not just the wounds and the dying either...it was the shiftlessness that came with the ebbing of the storm, the heavy, pained, restlessness that was somewhere between melancholia and struggling to adjust to a different kind of life once again-- not literally, but...no, it was inexplicable, even in his own mind. One would never understand it, even explained, not lest they'd known the upheaval of war...

...of any great trauma, really, and even as he remembered where she'd come from did Eorik have a sudden, sharp pang for his grandmother, Katja, and despite being a man of thirty winters, an ardent desire for her presence, whether it was in embrace or even tart, cheeky commentary that had only become worse the more she'd aged.

She'd had dark hair once, Eorik mused. His grandmother. Rather like the woman he'd taken to watching now and on occasion since he'd become mobile again -- dark as a rook's wing, though this one, unlike Katja, did not look even remotely of Easterling blood. Not a common healer either; he knew noble regard when he saw it, even if it came by him looking sallow and worn and weighted. And muttering to herself to boot, and for a moment, Eorik was forced to stifle the rather hysterical desire to laugh. Once stifled though did he attempt to make himself more useful, the words mulling over briefly in his mind before he stood, slightly less stiff than she, and the roughened fingers still usable touched her arm gently to gain her attention without overtly startling her or doing damage to himself.

"I know both of those, so if you will tell me where to find them, I shall do so while you sit and take your ease for the moment."

Lothíriel

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​​At some point, Lothíriel had let her mind wander. It was somewhere during the time the steady flow of men had diminished, where the time between patients was now longer and the men who came needed less time with her, where the worries were easier to tend to when they bared soul to the woman most assumed was a healer. At least the Rohirric men assumed she was a healer - wearing the soft robin's blue robes, her hair pulled and pinned back, she was easily mistaken for a healer by glance alone. Many of the Gondorians were well aware of her position, although that did not keep them from allowing their grievances to be aired. Even the men from her home who had been injured and now stayed behind aired their own grievances, although it was easier to assuage their fears - they were men of her home, men who she had known since she was a wee girl running through the Swan Halls.

In the ebb, she had considered the stores in the room, the work she would need to do before retiring to her chambers for a little rest before returning the next day to tend to others, to help where she was able. The wrappings in a basket nearby that needed washed, the work that would need to be done to make new poultices for wounds and liniments for others...by Ulmo's beard, she had a newfound appreciation for the healers and their work.

In this time of consideration, she had become unaware of anyone entering or exiting the room.

Eorik's words and hand drew her back to the present, to the fact that the sun was setting and her time was almost done, but there were still men who needed tending to. She turned to face the man, a familiar face among a sea of familiar faces. It was easy enough to tell the man was one of the Rohirrim - his hair, his demeanor...those things spoke of a people she had been unfamiliar with but was becoming easily acquainted with now. "No, no, horse-lord. You are here for tending. It would be rude of me to make you fetch the things to tend to your own injuries." Her hand motioned to the stool nearby for him to sit on, eyes taking in his injuries with a cursory glance.

Even if his face was familiar, there were too many wounded and injuries to recall by heart - the stores she needed could be found later, when her time was done - and so she took to the task of inspecting his wounds. She gave her full attention to the soldier before her, banishing thoughts of what needed to be done later and replacing them with what needed to be down now. Her fingers worked on the wrappings of his arm, careful of the wounds beneath poultice and sling. She eyed the poultice that had been packed around his wounds and moved to place the older medicine into a bucket to be disposed of after ascertaining there was no infection that had leaked onto it. "Do you have any other aches? Or fevers?" While some could easily slip into a mechanical questioning, ​​Lothíriel's own was sincere, her words as gentle as the fingers that traced over the wounds and washed off the remaining of the poultice with herb-steeped water. She would have to make another poultice and refashion the swing, but his arm was healing, at least.

Eorik

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Though he was, indeed, Rohirrim, the events that had cast a lines in the shadows of a kind face and keen eyes had made the right hand of the new King more reticent than his kin were often boasted to be, and so he stiffened, hackles bristling slightly, at the sudden movement into his personal space. Just as quickly though did it pass, the look of the cornered beast fading into understanding...and then, if only because smiling seemed always to improve upon a situation, allowed a crooked smile in response to the forwardness and the fussing of a woman that had seemed, not a moment ago, ready to curl up on the very ground she stood. It seemed to be the lot of the fairer sex to be so, regardless of where or who they were, and Eorik knew better than to kick up a protest at the attention.

"No and not really, or not yet, and is forwardness in your nature, or simply a healer trait you've grown into?" The words were even, almost flat, but a glance into his face would betray the teasing that flickered behind the set features and the hint of a jaw tightened, understandably, at the removal of the poultice from a wound not deadly, but deep enough that Eorik did not, could not think about the reality and the potential repercussions of it. If he did for too long, and so early into the days following that last, gallant, desperate stand on those accursed fields, he would indeed run feverish...mad with hopelessness and grief and anger. No, right now, his mind was in something like self-protection, and it demanded that until he sleep, he make himself useful.

"Please, let me do something to assist you or I shall run mad. These are my men, those that are Eorlingas, and I will not do anything to overexert, I assure you." The crooked little smile returned, if a little wry. "I am sure you have heard such a promise many a time, and rarely followed, but I have been told repeatedly that I am a terrible liar and thus have no desire to fool you."

Lothíriel

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​​Even if she were still unaccustomed to the Rohirrim and their ways, still unsure of the words the men spoke to one another in their mother tongue, of the way they seemed, to some degree, untrusting, ​Lothíriel felt at ease around them. They were men, after all, and all men were the same in nature, no matter what bloodline they came from. It was easy to pick up on the tense nature of the man, on the way his stature and demeanor changed, and so the cornered beast was not ignored - it was best to move slowly, to speak kind and softly, to gain the trust, and that is what she did. She had learned such things at a young age and it was easy enough to slip into old habits.

When Eorik asked if forwardness was in her nature of a healer's trait she had grown, the woman paused for a moment, looking back at the man briefly. So this rider knew she was not a healer by training or through learning. He knew she was something else entirely - by his words she was certain he was not fooled into thinking she was just a common woman, and his manner spoke of a carelessness or propriety that the princess appreciated. She gave a smile in turn to him, chuckling to herself. "I have three older brothers, so forwardness is in my nature."

Even the younger of the apprentices had been faint at the sight of many of the wounded, most of them not yet prepared for the horrors that they would find themselves surrounded by as the injured and dying were brought forth. ​It was surprising to many of those same people that Lothíriel had not fainted in the beginning - there had always been unspoken beliefs that those women of noble birth had weaker constitutions, that they were faint of heart and could not truly withstand the horrors their more common kin took in stride. It might have been true for some, but the sea-folk and their nobility were a different lot. They all had to learn to deal with hardships and pains, and the princess had also walked the paths few had trodden, including the healers. She had been in a fevered darkness that few ever survived, and she had seen and heard things that had not shaken her soul but steeled it. The wounds might have been gruesome, but her demeanor never changed as she tended to these men.

They needed some constant in their life, a ray of hope in the darkness, and the Dol Amrothian had decided if no other was there to offer it, at least it would be her who did.

Even for those who did not want it. Eorik offered himself to be of assistance (actually, he asked to be of assistance) and so ​Lothíriel had to consider his words and his wounds. He would not be able to do as much as someone with use of both hands, of course, but he could help. She was silent, listening to the low hum of noise from the halls. No one was near - at least no one who might scold both princess and soldier for doing something outside of their duties or that might cause them to overexert themselves. "The herbs are in the closet across the hall," a nod of her head given to the door across from where they were, "so if you will bring the goldenseal, calendula..." She paused, looking back to a piece of paper and to the stores in the room with her. "And yarrow, I would be indebted to you for the help." She needed to make a new poultice for him and the stores in the room were too few to properly be used for his arm. "The jars should be labeled," she added as an afterthought as her hands went to work on preparing a small fire to heat up the water for his poultice.

Eorik

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Three brothers, eh?

"That would instil forthrightness in a woman, yes." Eorik murmured, glad to latch on to the topic-- anything, really, that was not the dreaded premonition of any number of futures currently aching in his arm (none of which were positive), or what went on around them. For even as he'd sought to help her willingly did a part of Eorik need distance -- distance to process, distance to recharge, if only a little, and if only so he was of better use to his comrades, to his liege lord, should they have need of him in the near future.

Liege lord turned King, rather, he thought, and with some sorrow. Not able to quite catch it before his mind dipped a toe into self-pity and what if's (for what indeed, if at all, would Lord Eomer have use for him in this new world, should they survive the ending of the old?), Eorik shook his auburn head something akin to a dog shaking water from its ears, before following the instructions given to him. The walk across the hall was both refreshing to his slightly fevered skin and a little more tiring than expected, but he made it, finding easily the labelled jars and wandering back in good time to Lothiriel, proffering the jars to her where they were tucked into his arm. He didn't dare put them down himself, not trusting that one would not slip and shatter upon the floor with his balance a little more compromised than was usual.

What an interesting thing. Only hours ago-- or was it a day? -- I was fighting Mummakil, and now I concern myself with my balance and whether or not I can identify with one who has siblings.

The mind was, indeed, an interesting beast. Especially when trauma had been inflicted upon it.

"I have no siblings, though I rather feel that a close little village with other children might breed something akin to brotherhood...or sisterhood. Rivalry is certainly a constant regardless." The last was said with a crooked smile, his head inclining slightly as he sat himself down cautiously.

Lothíriel

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The mention of her brothers brought a small pang of sadness to the princess's heart; they were riding to war now, two of them at least, and her eldest brother had been left behind to guard their home, the place he would one day rule and inherit. There was a possibility she would never see them again. That the last time she saw her brothers, just a fleeting moment among the bitter pain and agony before she made the treacherous journey to Minas Tirith, would be the last memory they each had of her: a shell of her former self, her body withering away as a flower would that was denied sun and water. That sadness crept into her eyes,  into her smile, and she felt it twine tight around her heart.

No, no. She mustn't dwell on such things. She had things to tend to, a future to look forward to.

As the Rider exited the room, Lothíriel watched after him a moment, studying to make sure he wasn't feeling weak or faint before she turned her ministrations back to making a new poultice for his arm. She kept an ear turned towards his location at all times, and when he reentered the room with the herbs she asked for, the young woman wiped her hands on the apron adorning her and took the jars gently from his arm. "My brothers are much older than I am, or old enough that I was more a nuisance to them than anything as they aged." She returned the smile to Eorik and shifted to half-face him as she continued work on the poultice.

"I grew up with the cook's granddaughter, though, and so I at least had a friend whose years were close to mine. Our only rivalry was to see who could give Telemanthea the most grey hairs." Lothíriel looked to Eorik with a cheeky grin, "I won that rivalry." A pot of cooling water was set aside, and Lothíriel dipped a bowl in it before grabbing one of the clean cloths that was left. She approached, kneeling down to be more level with his arm so it could be cleaned off properly before the new poultice was reapplied.

"What is your name, horse-lord?" she asked as she began to gingerly clean the healing injury.

Eorik

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Eorik didn't consider himself many things, overly humourous being among them. He'd been teased more than once for it, though it was one odd reason, among many, that had made him suit the more literal Eomer better than most might have. He might have blamed his grandfather's genetics for it, personally-- Eadlyn was notoriously bad to this day at seeing the subtleties of humour, despite being married to the mirthful Katja for what was headed into five decades.

(How he missed them terribly, more so at the present.)

But an infectious smile was hard to resist, and that he knew as well as he knew himself-- knew it in the same way he knew his grandmother, the woman who had raised him and somehow foiled her husband so well. And so he knew even as he fought the twitch of his lips out of habit the cheeky smile for what it was that it was fruitless to do so, more so when it came from one who already consciously had impressed upon him a miens that was most parts hard-working and, unconsciously (or subconsciously for himself, if not for her), drawn him into her company by a kind of sorrow that few could put into words.

He could, though. He might, given another time.

For now though, he merely allowed the twitch of his lips to become a smile, and enjoyed the glimpse of a more innocent past from long ago. It carried the taste of his childhood-- the baked land and the threshed grass and the melt of goat's cheese on his tongue-- even as it showed him her own, fanning further a kinship with this woman that, in any other scenario that wasn't the rawness of wartime and sickness, might not have burned so strongly so fast.

Eorik couldn't put that into words, though. Because he'd known the kinship of wartime and camaraderie his entire life. It was like breathing.

So he merely stayed his smile where it was instead, allowing kindness to feed from sadness and gentleness from weariness.

"Eorik. I am--was...am...Lieutenant of the Third Eodres." The practicality of his not being stripped of his rank by the injuries she tended warred with the fanciful fear of the future that threatened, but he said no more of it, instead drawing attention from himself instead with a head tilt and a gaze that suggested nothing but his attention comfortably centered on the individual it was on, and little else.

"And you are noble, though you have the common touch." Indeed, the comfortable manners already explained by that glimpse into her childhood. "But my knowledge of Gondor beyond its forces and its trade advantages is rather pitiful."
« Last Edit: September 30, 2018, 06:35:02 AM by Eorik »

Lothíriel

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The mention of her past -- the memory of childhood, of Telemanthea and Falthrial watching over Lothíriel and Avariel as they grew, of the princess testing the patience of the elderly women and learning and growing alongside her companion -- settled a melancholy over her tinged with happiness. They were memories she held near and dear to her, memories that shaped her into the woman she now was. Without a mother’s influence, the little swanling only had the cook and her help to give her a woman’s touch, to temper the influence of elder brothers and soldiers that the child grew up around. Before Eorik stood the product of that raising: a woman with a tender touch and heart but with an iron will to rule.

As her work began on the injury, the princess took note of any potential issues that would need to be addressed by a healer. She had a keen enough eye for these things now, the tidbits of information passed along from her by the other healers stored neatly away. Even though her gaze was intent on his arm, her touch feather-light so as to not disturb the wound or cause him undue pain, it was obvious she listened just as intently to him as before.

His hesitation in discussing his title, his role among the Éored, did not go unnoticed. Those bright grey eyes flickered up for just a moment to rake over his face, to judge for herself where to go with this conversation. Even a princess understood what it was to be a soldier -- that rank and title and brotherhood and war were things bred deep into these men, and to have it all taken away...it was a fear they all had.

(Even Maethor feared the loss of his position, feared one day having his capabilities stripped from him by the impending darkness that stretched from Mordor....and in the end that darkness took him, swallowed him whole.)

“Eorik,” she repeated, the name easily enough spoken even though the language of his people was still entirely foreign to her -- her fluency in Sindarin meant that occasionally harsher vowels were softened by habit alone, yet she was trying to break from that as she engaged with the Rohirric soldiers in the Houses, trying to adjust to their tongue and learn all she could of their language in turn by doing so. “Well met then, Lieutenant Eorik.” The cloth used to clean off his wound was deposited to the side, the new poultice now retrieved from the table nearby.

“Your assessment is correct,” she responded as he mentioned her nobility. Moving the stool closer to him, she settled down and began to work on packing the poultice in place. “I am Princess Lothíriel, youngest child and only daughter of Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth.” She worked diligently even as she spoke, “But I would prefer if you called me Lothíriel.” She looked up to him, bright gaze gentle with a reassuring smile lingering still on her lips. “I learned early on that those who view me as nobility feel as if they must wear a mask around me, treat me as if I might suddenly demand their heads to be placed on a pike if they so much as looked at me wrong.”

There was a gentle shrug of her shoulders. “But I prefer candor over falsity, and I prefer to encourage it among others as well.”

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