1. A Wind in the Night
“Hold him down, I said!” The healer wiped his forehead with a blood-grimed hand, bending over the youth who had just been brought to his makeshift tent near the former battlefield. Many men had fallen on the grass of Pelennor this day, but this one was yet a lad. It made the healer queasy to have his hands plunged in the wound, staring into a face the same age as his own sons’. He jerked as the boy gasped, a trickle of blood escaping through his lips. And then the air changed, and a hand came to rest on his shoulder, and slim fingers moved him aside as a robed man – or something in the shape of a man, at least, knelt over the boy and put one hand over the sword wound, his other hand closing the young soldier’s mouth over a handful of some green stuff. The boy choked but the stranger tipped his head until he swallowed and then sank further into unconsciousness. The stranger put both hands over the wound and pulled the edges together, wiping the area around it with a clean cloth from inside his robes.
“A needle, master Healer?” The healer started at the deep voice coming from the stranger, and then raised his eyes to meet a flash of strange humor behind the dark glow of battle exhaustion in the other’s expression.
“Yes, yes,” The healer murmured, coming to himself and finding the needed sliver of metal quickly and pressing it into the hands of the stranger. He could feel sword calluses on the stranger’s palms, but the slender fingers were deft as they stitched up the boys wound and then pressed a damp compress to the top with a quick wrap of linen. The healer leaned over to pull up the edges of the bandage, and when he looked back, the stranger was gone. And then one of his assistants called out from the other side of the tent and he shook the image from his mind and returned to his work.
Inside the next tent the stranger lowered his hood and candlelight flickered on his dark head as he bowed over the wounded man stretched on the furs arranged along the back of the tent. A young woman sat on his other side, a bowl of water by her knee as she squeezed a damp cloth over her brother’s forehead. She pursed her lips to avoid questioning the stranger, her eyes watching his hands move along the arrow embedded in the man’s shoulder. He was unconscious, to her sincere relief, and the blood from the wound was barely more than a trickle, though it was lodged tightly in his flesh. The Healers had taken their time sending somebody, she thought fiercely, but her logical mind told her that there were many hurt worse than her brother.
The stranger paused to reach across and rinse his fingers in her water and she stared at them as he went back to the shaft of the arrow, carefully twisting it to slide the barb out without causing more damage. His hands were slim and tanned, with calluses on both his palms and his fingertips, and sure in their movements. A signet ring glinted on his left hand, but she didn’t recognize the pattern. And then her attention dropped once more to her brother as he shuddered and then was rolled gently onto his side as the stranger bandaged the shoulder efficiently.
“You will want to change the wrap every morning and night, and keep on as you have been with the water,” he instructed, standing gracefully and pulling gloves over his hands. She rose rapidly and struggled with her skirts before catching his arm.
“Wait, my lord.” He paused and she felt his eyes on her, and lifted her chin stubbornly. “You are not a Gondorian, nor are you one of the fair horsemen. Yet you aid us in the hour of our need.” The unspoken question of why hung in the air, and then he smiled, and grasped her hand briefly.
“I am a kinsman, my lady. See to your brother now.” And then he was gone, and she was left to ponder his words as she pulled the furs around her brother’s chin.
In many other tents on the field surrounding Minas Tirith, a similar miracle happened, as three men in dusty gray leathers made their way among the wounded, leaving only a well of thanks and living soldiers, and a faint scent of herbs. As the night drew on they became dustier, and gathered dark smears of blood, dirt, and wine on their skin and clothes. But they worked just as silently and thoroughly, until as many as could be saved were.
The circle of torchlight flickered with the breeze that now moved through Minas Tirith, bringing a hope of fresh air to the weary and wounded defenders. One of the guards posted on the wall of the fifth level leaned against his spear for support, his eyes focused on the dark, debris-strewn field below. Crews were beginning to drag the bodies of the orcs onto huge pyres, but none had yet been lit, and their shapes were merely strange crawling shadows on the ground. The cries of the wounded seemed to have faded now, as a hush fell over the White City and people finally took to their beds. The guard looked back at the cobblestone path below him at the sound of footsteps. Whoever it was paused just below the guard’s post, and was joined by another who came from within the Houses.
Elrohir greeted his brother by gripping his shoulder with a mixed feeling of relief and weariness. It had been a long day and a longer night, even for the sons of Elrond. Now the barest glimmerings of dawn could be seen on the horizon, and they had done what they could for the people of their brother. Elladan returned the brief embrace, and then pulled his twin up the stairs to the House. They entered and were quickly taken to a washroom where they could clean up. There was no sleep yet for them; Estel would want them for the morning’s counsel with the other leaders.
A boy brought them towels and the packs from their horses. They washed and changed in silence, donning light cloaks over clean shirts and breeches, glad to be free of blood and dirt stained leathers and mail. The same boy brought them a jug of water with lemon, which they drank gratefully and then led them to a back door. “Thank the Master for his hospitality,” Elladan said as they left, stepping into the morning light and onto the path up to the Citadel.
“They have hope that they did not possess before, brother,” murmured Elrohir once they were out of the boy’s hearing range. Elladan turned his eyes to the tall white buildings that towered over the city from the top.
“It is Estel,” his twin answered simply. “And the respite from battle that has been so dearly bought.” Elladan was not entirely comfortable with healing, his brother knew. It was knowledge they had forced upon themselves after their mother’s attack, but it was not knowledge they could use without stirring those memories.
“There are more battles to be fought, but now we have brought Hope back to his people.” The twins were silent for a moment, and then, as they reached the gates to the last level, Elladan chuckled and slapped his brother on the arm.
“Now you sound like father!” And the sons of Elrond quickened their pace and ran lightly to the Citadel, and those who saw them pass smiled for it.
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.