Working Life in Middle-earth

To Labor and to Wait

2. The Herbalist

The air grows colder, and we stock our storerooms with herbs and drugs. My days are filled with the work: boiling and crushing, powdering and bottling. I can name the plants as their leaves slip through my fingers: here is the mild tang of chamomile, and before that the hard earth-scent of the dried parsley, and ere that, I touched the sweet fire-smell of cloves. I have forgotten their colors, save for the pale flashes that come to me in dreams, but that is no matter: to be an herbalist, one needs not her eyes.

Even when I was younger, when my eyes were better, my vision still was poor. Now it is all but gone. At times I can discern some shapes, some movement—darkness converging in darkness. That, too, is no matter; I walk the halls of these Houses, walk the spokes and wheels of our gardens, as straight and surely as any sighted woman. If I had need of it, I could even venture into the City, itself, and know my path, stone circle on stone circle. I know the others before they speak, by the sound of their footsteps and the noise of their movements: the soft rustle of the girls’ skirts, the fussing and fidgeting of the restless men and the slow measured breathing of the calm ones.

I dread not the creeping darkness that everyone here speaks of in anxious whispers. I walk in blackness; there is nothing to fear there. Instead, I fear endings and emptiness. Even as they clutch at stems and flowers, my hands tremble at the thought of hollow rooms, ruined passages and vacant spaces: nothing to hold but ashes and nothing to breathe but smoke.

Sightless I may be, but I know the City shifts around me; even now its shapes are changing and its echoes wane against the stone.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Aliana

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/15/04

Original Post: 12/01/04

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