Halls of Healing
This Hall is airy and open, dressed in light by the many lamps suspended by delicate chains and by the large windows opening towards the herb gardens. The white walls are worked in relief with tales and healing lore, plants and images from healing songs; the cornices of each of the five walls are trimmed with exquisitely carved flowers and vines. Comfortable seating is available, for it is here that many rest, after leaving the worst of their illness behind.
Elethin nods. "Enough clouds can bring a welcome rain." She walks to a particular shelf and pulls out a particular tome. "However, in this case I see nothing so pleasant. I can tend him, but even my brief glimpse into his heart tells me that he is beyond my ability to heal altogether." Her hand runs down the page. "If he is beyond us I will have to call for a master healer. The stain on his soul is black."
Lying in the bed, Careithros stirs fitfully. His eyelids slowly open...
A man, covered with travel dust except for his face, which is clean, is being watched by a few white-robed apprentices as Elethin pores through a book. Elethin, Tuonoorwen and Tara are talking.
The man lies upon a bed in the hall and is silent. Merely looking at the intricate patterns carven into the wood.
Tuonoorwen makes few steps forward, to better see the human stretched on the floor. She tilts her head to one side, then to the other, seemingly paying no heed to Elethin's words. Her bright blue eyes look at the man with non-blinking piercing stare, and a pale, unkind light flickers in them. Without looking away, she drops to Elethin, "You always liked watching clouds".
Another male, this one of Sindarin stock, is leaned easily against the wall near to the entrance to the Hall. He watches the healers and their ward, but he speaks not.
Arwen walks into the room, an expression of brusque determination on her fair features. The Evenstar shines as always, her white jewel glowing in the low firelight, and her grey gown shimmering with silver embroidery. "Who is this new patient that you tend, healer?" she asks, turning to Elethin.
Into this place comes one, a tall figure clad in the grey of morning mist which flows loosely down across his body and is clasp at the shoulder by a simple leather and brass broach. Tall is this one, yet short is he compared to the elven lords and ladies of this valley, and there is something in his step that sets him forever apart from these people.
But for now he dwells in this room, this man Calthorn, and it is in silence that he comes for there is much commotion in this room, though his eyes naturally find first the thing that stands out most within the quarters of healing, a new face that has not been seen by this tall Rangers silvery eyes. Questions form in the eyes of the man, yet nothing does he say for now.
Elethin rises, greeting Arwen with a respectful nod. "He is Careithros, returned to the Valley in penitence. The Master your father has accepted his plea for forgiveness, and ordered him healed in spirit that he may live as a new man."
Careithros is silent, but he glances over at the Lady Arwen. He rises and bows slowly.
A man, covered with travel dust except for his face, which is clean, is being watched by a few white-robed apprentices as Elethin pores through a book. Elethin, Tuonoorwen and Arwen are talking.
Arwen nods gravely. "Careithros. If my father has allowed your return, then I will yield to his judgment. Yet I would not have any of our folk put at risk. I see none of the Tirith here. I will summon them." The Lady's face is serious, and her words are spoken in a stern, unforgiving tone.
Darkbow nods and then suddenly flops down upon the bed, "Do as you will Lady. I shall prove my worth!"
"Heryn," Elethin interjects, "Your brother Elladan has set himself as this man's ward and guard until he has healed. I expect his return shortly." She looks over at the man. "Lie down. I will rouse you for a much needed bath when it is made ready."
Tuonoorwen glances at the human again, then at Elrond's daughter, but again remains silent. She does speak after a while, but to Elethin: "How shall you bleach this cloud?". No shadow of doubt or hint at difficulty of such an undertaking can be heard in this even voice.
Sighing Careithros says at length, "So what then would you plan to do with me? I shall help where I may. Simply command me."
Arwen looks about at the others. "Tell me more of how Careithros found his way back to the valley." She does not acknowledge his words as yet, nor does she look at the man.
Tuonoorwen takes a slight step back, as if underscoring that she will not be the one to answer Arwen's question, and glances at the man again.
Elethin simply shrugs in response to Tuonoorwen. "Of that there is little to report," she says, turning her attention back to Arwen. "We were feasting our guests by the river, at Estel's suggestion - he was far merrier, and walked with a lighter step today - and Master Elrond spotted him across the river. How he found this place only he knows." She seems visibly uncomfortable with that fact, and she turns to look at the man. After a long moment of dark consideration, she says, "My command was, and is, to lie still."
Arwen turns to Elethin. "How he found this place..." she considers the phrase a moment. "How he found this place, Gwethron, is quite simple. He knows the paths, he has known them since his youth. And he has feared to tread them of late, and for just cause. What desperation led him here? Has he planned some ambush of our folk? I have said, I will summon the Tirith, if that has not already been done. I trust it has?" She turns again to the others, as if expecting an answer.
The sun peeks over the Misty Mountains and illumines the valley again.
From the high windows which open unto the herb gardens comes the soft response, "He came, Lady, for forgiveness, and has yet found little hope of such."
It is Tara, alone there, perched on the threshhold, neither here nor there, and in her eyes there wars compassion and confusion.
Elethin holds Arwen's stern gaze, barely. "Elladan is his word. That is all the measure that has been taken sofar. Unless he has called for Tirith himself."
Tuonoorwen looks around the room, holding each elf and human in her gaze for several seconds. Her piercing blue eyes search for something in each of them. She finishes this round on Arwen, "Forgiveness? What for?"
Arwen nods to Elethin, and then turns to greet the Dunadan woman gravely. "He asks forgiveness, and my brother is his champion. I will say no more then. I was not aware that my brother had seen fit to take this man under his protection." This last word, 'protection' is said in a tone that suggests more suspicion than aught else. To Tuonoorwen, she sighs, and says, "Forgiveness for waylaying and murder, for turning his sword against his friends and the companions of his youth. For these he seeks forgiveness, my friend Tuonoorwen. You are fortunate that in Lothlorien you see little of treachery."
"I fear," begins Tinwuinhur softly. His gaze is compassionate, his blue eyes soft, and it rests upon the prone form of Careithros. "that should we not afford this prisoner even the smallest part of compassion, that he will return to the dark path. With our hearts turned against him, he will cozen his treacherous ways; he will embrace them once more, and there will be none of us the better for it."
Elethin touches Arwen's hand, gently. "Say rather that he is under your father's protection. Your brother has only set himself as a guard because of that. He too is wary." She sighs, and gives Tara a pointed look. "As am I." Her voice drops low. "Woman, what brings you here? I would rather you were elsewhere, without Tirith to watch him." She nods to Tinwuinhur. "Well said. And there is compassion here, else he would not be here at all. But woe to her who goes to tend a wounded bear. It is those hurt most who hurt most, alas."
The tall Ranger man who had come into the healing halls stands there silent as ever, eyes watching the sleeping form of the man long called 'Darkbow' by those who knew and hunted him. Though in his eyes there are emotions, there lurks there no hatred or anger for this man, only confusion.
Then his eyes are turned from the man, only to stop upon the Lady Evenstar, "Much wrong has this one commited, in past deeds and present, and now he comes once again unto the city of your father seeking forgiveness for those deeds. But I know of two kinds of forgivness, that which is given freely and quickly forgotten, and that which is earned." Then he grows silent again for a time, turning once more his eyes unto the man, "I pray for him that he seeks the latter of the two, but only time will tell."
There is a clatter of heavy boots outside the door. It grows louder and eventually comes in through the door. It is a young elf, he slows down and stops when he sees the sleeping and injured on the beds. A gash on his arm is dripping blood onto the floor. He treads quickly but lightly over to Elethin and acknowleges the Heryn with a nod of his head. The young elf ask Elethin for help.
The young elf explains it is hurried and out of breath, "my name is Acailon.... we were training.... I lost concentration...." His face goes a sickly white
Tuonoorwen listens attentively to Arwen's tale, then turns her eyes away from Heryn, and again fixes the man on the bed with her intense stare. She even takes a step closer... There is a feeling of threat, some hidden menace, about her, perhaps in the way the shadows gather around her. The arrival of the wounded distracts her, though.
"Indeed, you speak truly, Elethin, and Calthorn. Though we all would wish compassion, Tugwiol, we need not be blind." Just then, the young Acailon enters the hall. "Acailon, is there something amiss? How did you come by this wound?" she asks rather sharply, moving quickly towards the cabinets with bandages and herbs. "Elethin, come to aid him." she commands quietly.
Elethin's words fall upon Tara, softly but edged with steel, and the woman's eyes widen briefly, ere she nods with awkward motion, and steps backward into the gathering dark. One last look does she spare for the man so still upon the bed, and then a glance to Elethin, a request there, but its nature perhaps too difficult to discern.
And then the Ranger turns and is welcomed by the shadows as if a prodigal child.
With a look of maternal reproach on her face, Elethin looks the Elf over, frowns, and sends a few young helpers scurrying with a few sharp commands. "With your pardon," Elethin says to Arwen, and hurries the Elf to a bed. She watches and directs as the wound is cleaned and bound.
Tinwuinhur watches the Dunadan man closely; his words are considered gravely before they are uttered, "You, Dunadan, who have learned much from we who abode in the Last Homely House, should know better than that. From the elves of Imladris there is only one forgiveness. It matters not what lies in the heart of that who seeks the forgiveness, for the wisdom of Elrond has been distributed amongst those that dwell beneath his roof, if to a lesser degree. If the heart of this man is shallow and seeks not true forgiveness, then our healers will see through his guise, however cleverly wrought it may be." Then he bows his head demurely to the Lady Arwen, and murmurs softly: "As ever, you are correct, Lady Evenstar. One learns much from the great boles of the Valley, but one also loses much."
Tuonoorwen's attention wanders away from the lightly wounded elf, far be it from her to give healing advice in the halls of Elrond. Instead, she looks around the room once more, her eyes focusing on the retreating Ranger this time. Slowly, she crosses the room to face the woman. "You are eager to forgive", notes she, evenly and without a shadow of disapproval.
Arwen looks up. "I would ask for an answer from this wounded one. Acailon, how did you come by your hurt?"
Acailon winces as the wound is cleaned and turns towards Lady Arwen and says "begging your pardon my lady, i am sorry interrupt but it was sort of urgent, i hope that you don't mind. It was just an accident, I was learning to use a longsword and it just got too heavy for me after a while and when i tried to fend of a blow i couldn't lift my sword and i took the blow on my arm. Once again i am sorry for my interruption." Out of respect Acailon averts his eyes
"Speak not of what I should and should not know, for I only speak of what it is that I know for certain, for the matters of men are not wholly those of the Elven lords. Offer him forgiveness as you will, simply said or wholly given, and pray that it does not fall upon shadowed and hardened hearts." As he speaks the man looks deeply into the eyes of the Elven man, his voice low and powerful.
"But much hope do I bear that the words of this man are true, and linger here I will not for a time," and with a bow to the daughter of Elrond, and the simply worded phrase, "By your leave my Lady," the man turns and once more passes through the doorway.
Dressed as she is for a feast, not for healer's work, Elethin leaves the actual business of tending and binding to the other apprentices, then inspects the result, nods, grabs Acailon by his jaw and looks sternly into his eyes, searching. After she is satisfied with whatever she was looking for, she lets go. "If you get tired, stop. You will learn nothing if you apply yourself too hard except for pain."
Arwen nods. "I see. I think that you shall find expert healing in the hands of Elethin, and her apprentices, Acailon. And you would do well to heed the direction of the Captain Celebbilin." She smiles, her face now filled with a soft look of compassion, but not for the figure of the Man who lies motionless on the bed. "Indeed, I will speak to my father of this matter, and my brother. Goodnight, mellyn." The Evenstar departs the hall quickly and silently.
Acailon nods in understanding, a slight hint of fear in his eyes. "I am sorry for the disturbance, please may i rest here"