Dusk of Ages - Tale 5--> Healer
[Elvish thought or telepathy]
Recap of Tale 4 . . .
//[I told you not to quit! How do you expect to be an archer if you give up on it so easily?! Get up and put some clothes on--we will practice now to make up for the time you threw aside! . . . I do not care that it is the middle of the night! Get up before my bow finds your back!]
[I do not train wastes of time, Kyshri! I have far more important things to do than babysit your silliness! I know you can do better than this! You are not weak! Take your tail from between your legs this instant and strike me! You will not leave this field until you draw my blood, do you understand?!]
[I have always been proud of my wardens, Kyshri, because they have learned to balance efficiency with watching the backs of their allies. Of course, that was not the case when I first took over, but I have trained them. And I will expect the same good judgement from you . . . as my newest warden.]
[Good work, dindae. Good work.]//
Haldir . . . He had always been a hard taskmaster, which made him a good leader in terms of the border guard. As a rule, he had driven me to tears trying to teach me the finer points of archery or swordplay. I could remember running away when the stress was too much and he would make me work twice as hard the next time to make up for the time I had missed the day before.
At the time I had thought that he actually liked making me upset, which only frustrated me more. I found out the truth after one particularly harrowing afternoon, after I had learned not to run away and seek temporary refuge from his wrath. I had marched off the field, body aching, and in a moment of audacity turned around and headed back to give him a piece of my mind. I had found him sitting on a bench, his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. Rumil and Orophin were sitting on either side of him, apparently trying to comfort him. It was Rumil who had seen me standing there and though his face gave away nothing, his eyes said everything. It was just as difficult for Haldir, who loved me dearly, to shout at me as it was for me to suffer his aggression.
It had been the only effective way to teach me and it was tearing him apart, but he did it because he knew I wanted to learn even if I thought I wanted to quit. I had buckled down from that day onward and learned everything that he had to teach me in a single month when it would have taken years at the pace I had previously been going.
This scenario was just like that. Lady Galadriel knew I wanted to strengthen my control and I knew it as well--I was just too frightened of the possibilities of the magic going awry to try.
I turned and looked back at Lady Galadriel, who smiled brightly and gave a single nod. [You can do this.]
Yes, I could.
I could and would because I was a warden of Lothlorien and sworn to protect the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood. I could not back out now. Not while the lives of so many were on the line, depending on me.
//[Make me proud, dindae.]//
Haldir had said that to me right before an all-female archery tournament. At the start of the match I had thought that I could win, but after seeing the older and more experienced archers make perfect shots, I began to feel self-conscious. Still, I took my place and awaited my turn.
I ended up placing only fifth out of ten, but Haldir had acted as though I had won. When I challenged him he told me that he had seen me quailing at the abilities and scores of those before me, yet I had not let that stop me. It was the fact that I had tried, not whether or not I had won, that made him so happy. And that, he had said as a clincher, was really all he could have asked of me.
Now I faced oncoming Orcs, drawing Feanar and Daenar. If I were unable to do this, I would not be able to stand up to two hundred of these foul creatures alone. Still I would not simply let them strike me down. If I could not set them on fire then I would fight until they killed me.
Holding my mother's swords out to either side, I advanced, my eyes locked on my first victim. Focusing my power, I thought I could feel an immense strength rising up behind me. I dared not turn, however, and raised my arms.
A blast of flame passed roughly four feet over my head, setting the first few lines of Orcs on fire. They screeched and collapsed on one another, writhing in pain before becoming still.
I concentrated again, harder.
The air seemed to disappear around me, leaving me gasping helplessly, and I watched as the next rows of Orcs were firmly flattened. A blast of air smashed into me and I staggered back a step.
I focused once more, my success egging me on.
The earth rolled beneath my feet out toward the Orcs, which it flung into the air like so many dolls. Those that were left alive after that became the victims for my next magical punch.
A veritable tidal wave of water lunged over the crumbled walls of Isengard and crashed into me as well as the Orcs. The water pooled for a time when the Orcs struggled, then drained away when they were still.
Triumphant, I was abruptly aware of the discomfort of being fought against, though there was no one with me. As though a mere passenger in my own body, I watched as I turned and prepared to strike at my comrades. It was only when Lady Galadriel called my name sharply that I was startled and came back to myself just in time to avoid attacking.
[You must be more careful, Kyshri. That was a bit much; especially for you. You should have left it at fire, as I suggested.]
[What . . . happened?]
[Your magus consciousness took over. It will deem everything around you a threat if you do not control it.]
The Orcs were piled and burned and Aragorn and Faramir left with their warriors. The rest of us--Elves, hobbits, Gimli, and Gandalf--continued northward, either chatting amiably or riding in companionable silence. It was about two weeks more when we stopped in sight of Moria for some last-minute talks--Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn would be turning toward Lorien.
The first night we settled I sat in front of the fire between the hobbits, who were watching me fletch arrows with the most intense concentration I had ever seen any of them display--particularly Pippin. I did not know why and did not ask, as it kept them from whining about food and pestering everyone else.
It was a time later that I realized I was running out of arrowheads. I had some in my pack, but it was by my chosen bed and quite far out of my reach. I was just deciding that I would have to rise and break the trance the hobbits were in when a leather pouch was dropped in front of my face. It was shaken slightly to emphasize its presence in case I had not noticed it and steel clinked within.
I accepted it with a blank thank you, then paused and turned. [Legolas?]
He stopped and turned to me. [Yes?]
[Did you give me these arrowheads?]
[Did you not ask for them?]
I frowned. [. . . No. I was thinking about them, but I did not ask for them.]
He frowned in confused reply, then--in a typical male manner--seemed to be overall unbothered by this strange mind-reading and shrugged. [You needed them, I gave them to you.]
Rather over-simplified it, did he not?
[Yes, thank you.] I returned to my fletching, noticing Lady Galadriel's smile. [My Lady?]
[It has begun,] she noted, still smiling.
[What has?] I asked.
[You will know in time.]
I muttered under my breath and Sam shot me a look that was disapproving and horrified at the same time. Either because I used such language, because I used such language in regard to Lady Galadriel, or both. I did not bother to tell him that it was quite likely she had heard me.
Legolas continued to read my mind--though he had no other previous signs or history of such abilities--and while it bothered me to be unaware of what this could mean, it did not concern him. If anything, it seemed to amuse him.
What finally set me off was when I at last read his mind. He had been trying to build a fire, but had realized he had forgotten to bring kindling. Since I was at my pack--with my back directly toward him, mind you--retrieving a whetting stone, I automatically brought over some of my kindling and gave it to him.
[Ah, thank you . . . Kyshri?]
[I did not ask for this.]
[Did you not need it?]
[. . . Yes.]
[Then you must have asked for it.]
[I am sure I am currently quite in control of my mouth,] he replied, turning my words on me from the last time. [I did not ask.]
I caught Lady Galadriel smiling at us out of the corner of my eye and turned to her. [I would indeed like to know exactly what it is that is happening.]
[You will know in time,] was the stock reply.
I grumbled and stomped back to my bed, where I flopped down and tried to get some sleep. I had been hearing wolves howling all during the night recently and been unable to sleep despite that the night watch had been doubled. As I could not sleep during the day or risk walking blindly into an Uruk-hai den, I had gotten two hours of sleep in about five days. I was getting cranky and otherwise vile-tempered and I was sure everyone was having trouble putting up with it.
Expecting at least an hour of rest, I was jolted from my five minutes of total unconsciousness by howling. I would have screamed, but it was not prudent and so I refrained. Instead, I crawled defeatedly to the fire and collapsed between Legolas and Lord Celeborn.
Once sure she was asleep, Celeborn gathered her and settled her in his lap as the wolves began their mournful howling once again. [She has not been getting much rest.]
[I noticed,] Legolas agreed. [Why?]
[Kyshri was an unexpected early birth. A full month early, to be exact. As a result, she was born among the grasses of the earth rather than in the trees. One of the first things she heard was the wolves' howling and even though there was no chance of attack she has subconsciously feared the implications of the noise ever since then.]
[Tell me,] Elladan put in, [is there anything not wrong with her?]
Orophin and Rumil bristled and Orophin, who had just taken a bite off a piece of lembas, hissed, [That is my niece you speak so ill of.]
[Despite her age,] Rumil added, [she is of your mother's generation.]
[What?] Elrohir blurted, clearly unable to believe it.
Celeborn nodded. [Her parents wedded not long before Beleriand fell. They chose not to have children until after the Last Alliance, when peace had a chance of existing. In a technical sense, Kyshri is indeed your senior.]
There had been no warning. Even the scouts had not been aware of them. It was a clear indication that they had spotted us first and stayed away until they felt that they could catch us off guard.
Though surprised, we did not simply roll over. Too much was at stake. Even the hobbits all banded together and fought. Legolas and Gimli had their usual little competition. I stayed with Rumil and Orophin, using my body as a shield to protect Lady Galadriel and picking off the enemy with arrows.
It was only once the battle was through and I had just cleaned my hands after piling up the carcasses that I became aware of a casualty. Elladan had been mortally wounded and everything that could be done had been--it simply was not enough. I approached slowly and my mind suddenly shifted to Boromir's death, when I had vowed to practice my healing magic, and then to Haldir's, when my magic had been too depleted.
Yet now . . . now I had a chance. I had recovered mostly from my last magic use and was confident in my abilities.
I bolted the short distance between me and the gathering of Elves, pushing my way violently to the front. I dropped to my knees on Elladan's left side and tried not to snap at Elrohir as he hovered more anxiously than even Lord Elrond was. I had treated twins before--Rumil and Orophin could never stay out of trouble--and knew well that the one less injured would insist on the right to monitor everything being done to the other.
I also knew it was possible that if one died, the other would too.
[Hold his hand,] I commanded Elrohir calmly. [Speak to him. It does not matter what you say, just keep him awake and still.]
While he obediently did that, I put my left hand against the large wound on Elladan's right flank and my right on his chest over his heart. I bowed my head and closed my eyes to block out distractions as I whispered prayers of healing to myself. I avoided getting too excited, especially when I could quite easily feel the healing energy moving from me to Elladan.
Sure that I had the healing under control, I glanced up. Elrohir had stopped talking aloud, but from Elladan's hazy-but-alert expression and his occasional smile they were still communicating.
I focused on a spot between my hands, trying to ignore the itchy feeling that had begun to spread along my right side. I could not take the time to scratch it, nor did I feel confident enough of my concentration to keep healing if I spoke and asked someone to take care of it for me.
[Stop! Stop!] Elrohir shouted suddenly. [You will kill yourself!]
It was at that moment that I felt a vicious stab of pain in my right flank and the world went completely black.