5. More To Ponder
Rising from where Arwen and she had been sitting during the mid day break for food Nurael crossed over to where Haldir was talking to two of his warriors. Waiting patiently behind him until he had concluded his instructions to them she addressed him respectfully.
“March Warden, may I have a moment of your time?”
He stiffened at the sound of her voice and turned to face her. His face was closed and he looked at her through narrowed eyes. “If it is important, otherwise it will have to wait. I cannot do anything right now about the conditions you or the Lady Arwen may find wanting.”
She snorted inelegantly. “Haldir, this is silly. I am not here to complain. I am here because I wish to remove any possible enmity between us. We have a long and dangerous trip still ahead of us and it serves no purpose to have you worry that I will add to your concerns. Neither you or your warriors need unnecessary distractions.”
“What makes you think that such as you can cause concern?” He starred at her coldly with icy blue eyes.
“You are obviously upset that I am returning to Lothlorien. You have been distracted ever since you recognized me. I would put your mind at ease. I am not the same silly elleth that was such a brat you knew all those years ago. Sweet Elbereth, I was only twenty years of age. Surely you can accept that a hen does outgrow ridiculous behavior. Your own brothers have become worthy of your approval and they were every bit as involved with our activities as I was. I am nearly three hundred years old now. I have grown up. I have a profession and I have handled responsibilities for many years that Lord Elrond has seen fit to entrust to me.”
“If it will help, I will apologies most sincerely, for my childish conduct. I am ashamed that I was so much of a trial back then and I can now appreciate the foolishness of my actions. Taking Orophin and Rumil away as my playmates was the severest punishment you could have given me. It left me with no one and I was very angry with you. That is no excuse, merely an explanation of why I acted as I did. It took me a long time to understand why.”
“He was silent for a very long time as he studied her. “It matters little. Once we have returned to Lorien, we will have few reason to cross paths.”
She sighed, “Unfortunately it matters a great deal.”
The sudden warning call from a warrior, “yrch”, interrupted them.
Haldir let go a snarl and gestured to a nearby warrior, “Get the ellyth into the trees and do not leave them.”
Nurael returned to Arwen, “We need to get into the trees. This warrior will help you climb.”
“What about you?” Arwen frowned.
“I am wearing leggings and will not have the difficulty you face in your riding habit. Now climb.”
Before joining them Nurael grabbed her bag of medical supplies as well as her bow and quiver from her pack and slung them across her shoulder. Returning to the stand of trees, she began her climb and reached the branch opposite where Arwen was safely perched. The warrior had taken his position just below and readied his bow to defend them.
“What is your name Warden?” Arwen asked softly.
“I am called Dolen, my lady.”
“ I thank you for your protection, Warden Dolen.”
“It is my duty, my lady.”
“Nonetheless it is much appreciated.”
Dolen watched curiously as Nurael hung her shoulder bag on a higher limb and positioned herself firmly in the crotch of the tree. She placed the quiver full of arrows within easy reach and slipped on her leather arm guard as well as the glove. Taking up her bow, she nocked an arrow and looked down at the warden.
“Which side should I take?”
“You have some knowledge of how to use it.” It was a statement not a question.
He frowned, “It is a bow of the Galadrim.”
She smiled, “Yes, it was my father’s. He taught me to use it as a young elleth and Lord Glorfindel insured that my skill was acceptable.”
All three exchanged grins and the two archers turned to concentrate on the task at hand.
“You are the expected healer, are you not?” He continued.
“It would appear that our March Warden has many things to discover about you, my lady.” He chuckled.
Arwen swallowed a laugh before falling silent.
They waited for the better part of an hour before Haldir and the remaining warriors returned. Several were wounded and all were covered with blood. They waited until he signalled the all clear before they descended their leafy sanctuary. Nurael immediately began to check each of the warriors and treating their wounds. Luckily none were seriously hurt and they would be able to continue travelling immediately. Arwen offered to prepare the herbal teas that would provide some relief from pain and Nurael nodded gratefully. When all but Haldir had been taken care of, she crossed to the rock where he had been sitting watching her silently.
“Please remove your tunic, March Warden,” she directed crisply. That cut in your lower back needs to be cleansed and will possibly require some stitches.”
He stood and complied, puzzling as he tried to fit this Nurael with the one he remembered. Turning around he caught Dolen grinning at him. He narrowed his eyes and glared at him. Dolen chuckled and turned away to help prepare the horses for that afternoon’s travel.
Haldir caught his breath and grimaced as Nurael applied an astringent cleaner to his wound.
“You were lucky March Warden, it is not deep so as to need stitches. I will put a poultice on and wrap it well. I will check it again when we stop for the night.”
He nodded. “What of the others? Are any of their wounds serious?”
She paused considering her patients. “No, although that one with the shoulder cut should be observe carefully. He should not attempt to draw a bow for at least a week. I want to watch all of them to make sure that the wounds remain clean and do not fester. Yrch weapons are always dirty and their cuts can be dangerous.”
“Thank you Nurael,” he hesitated. “You are not just the Lady Arwen’s companion are you?”
“You are the healer that was expected to travel back with us.”
“Master Maenestad is in for a shock,” he grinned crookedly.
“Both Lord Elrond and I both suspect he will as well,” she dimpled at him with twinkling eyes.
He grew serious. “You know the healer is expected to return with the patrols to the northern fences.”
She nodded, “That is why I asked to return. My training was being wasted at Imladris when there is greater need in Lothlorien.”
“Is that what you were trying to tell me before the attack?”
She nodded once more. “Will you have a problem with that?”
“It will take some getting use to. I am still have difficulty reconciling the healer with the brat.”
She groaned. “Can’t you treat that as very old history and let us start again?”
“I will try, but it will take some doing.” He said very seriously, “You left some pretty deep scars.”
“I was only a hen. Surely the great March Warden can overlook such scratches that surely healed a long time ago.” Nurael protested.
“We will see.” He turned away and moved to help the rest of the group prepare to depart.
Arwen had been watching their exchange.
“Has our March Warden caused any difficulties?”
“No, but he is being very cautious.” Nurael turned and stopped, frowning as she noticed something different about Arwen. “You have changed to leggings. I didn’t know you even had any.” She exclaimed.
“I intend to be ready if we have to spend more time climbing trees.”
“Your daer naneth may not approve of you wearing of such garments.” Nurael grinned.
“She would approve if it saves our lives. Besides I do not intend to tell her.”
nocked- term for mounting an arrow on a bowstring in order to shoot it
daer naneth- grandmother
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