Flowers of Nimloth - Chapter 15

Chapter 1: www.theonering.com/articles1-20010/FlowersofNimlothChapter1<br /> Chapter 2: www.theonering.com/articles1-20031/FlowersofNimlothChapter2<br /> Chapter 3: www.theonering.com/articles1-20052/FlowersofNimlothChapter3<br /> Chapter 4: www.theonering.com/articles1-20083/FlowersofNimlothChapter4<br /> Chapter 5: www.theonering.com/articles1-20129/FlowersofNimlothChapter5<br /> Chapter 6: www.theonering.com/articles1-20150/FlowersofNimlothChapter6<br /> Chapter 7: www.theonering.com/articles1-20162/FlowersofNimlothChapter7<br /> Chapter 8: www.theonering.com/articles1-20192/FlowersofNimlothChapter8<br /> Chapter 9: www.theonering.com/articles1-20199/FlowersofNimlothChapter9<br /> Chapter 10: www.theonering.com/articles1-20200/FlowersofNimlothChapter10<br /> Chapter 11: www.theonering.com/articles1-20202/FlowersofNimlothChapter11<br /> Chapter 12: www.theonering.com/articles1-20213/FlowersofNimlothChapter12<br /> Chapter 13: www.theonering.com/articles1-20235/FlowersofNimlothChapter13<br /> Chapter 14: www.theonering.com/articles1-20239/FlowersofNimlothChapter14<br /> <br /> <br /> <strong>Chapter 15: Sauron&#8217;s Worst Deed</strong><br /> <br /> The day after Isildur finished his tale of Nimloth&#8217;s history, Lienilde arrived at his home to once again find Isildur alone in the house, for the days were lengthening and Elendil and Anarion spent more time at the shipyards as of late. When she entered Isildur&#8217;s room she saw that he was awake and sitting up in bed, yet his head was turned away, and he did not look at her when she arrived.<br /> <br /> &quot;Isildur,&quot; she asked hesitantly, worried at this change in his demeanor, &quot;is something wrong?&quot;<br /> <br /> Isildur sighed and finally turned to face her, a sadness clearly visible on his face. Lienilde was puzzled but said nothing for a moment, waiting to see if he would answer. Finally he spoke: &quot;It seems that this time, I must be the one to bear ill tidings to you.&quot;<br /> <br /> Lienilde&#8217;s heart seemed to skip a beat at his words. She recalled the day she had told him of Nimloth&#8217;s fate on Sauron&#8217;s altar, and she wondered what terrible event had now occurred to cause him such sorrow. &quot;Isildur, you are frightening me,&quot; she said, sitting in the chair at his bedside. &quot;Please tell me, what are these ill tidings?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Sauron has--&quot; Isildur paused, and then seeming to find the courage to continue, said, &quot;Sauron has offered his first human sacrifice to Melkor.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Human sacrifice?&quot; Lienilde repeated, stunned. Her stomach turned at the thought -- she had seen smoke rising from Armenelos the day before and knew that Sauron must have offered some burnt offering, but she had assumed it was another plant offering, or maybe an animal, for she had heard of such things being done by some of the peoples on the shores of Middle-Earth -- but never did she suspect a human being!<br /> <br /> &quot;The victim was one of the Faithful,&quot; Isildur continued, his voice strangely devoid of emotions, &quot;though he was falsely accused of some crime first. Sauron says that human sacrifices will free the land from death--&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;But that is madness!&quot; Lienilde interrupted, tears already visible in her eyes, her heart pounding at the thought. She suddenly stood up, too upset to remain seated. Of all of the dreadful news that had come out of Armenelos during the past four months, this was by far the worst. Isildur said nothing, and his silence only aggravated her more. The thoughts that had troubled her heart as of late suddenly began to pour out: &quot;It seems as if every time I find reason to hope, or begin to forget Sauron&#8217;s works and enjoy my life, some horrible news comes to break my heart again! I can hardly stand it -- for the past four months it seems like all I have done is weep over Numenor&#8217;s fall, and worry about our fate, and Ardil&#8217;s, and -- and worry about <em>you</em>! Sometimes I wish I had not met you -- at least then there would be one less burden on my heart!&quot; She turned her back to him and put a hand over her eyes, for she did not want him to see her cry. <br /> <br /> Isildur&#8217;s eyes widened at her outburst. &quot;Lienilde, please,&quot; he said softly, attempting to calm her. He longed to climb out of bed and hold her, but he knew he could not. He reached out a hand but she did not see. &quot;I did not know it would upset you so--&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;How could you not know?&quot; Lienilde snapped, now angry at the ignorance she perceived in her patient. Why was he not as disturbed at this news as she was? She turned to face him, but only briefly. &quot;This is Sauron's worst deed yet -- do you not realize that he now has excuse to hunt down every last one of the Faithful? We cannot hide forever! How could this <em>not</em> upset me? Or you?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Of course it upsets me, Lienilde!&quot; Why did she not see his pain? Her words pierced his heart, and suddenly he was angry that after spending so much time together she could not see how such news would hurt him. &quot;Why would you--&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Just let me think on this,&quot; she replied, rather harshly, not truly hearing his words, so deep was she in her own thoughts. She turned to leave, wishing to be alone with her grief and self-pity.<br /> <br /> &quot;Lienilde!&quot;<br /> <br /> Lienilde froze when she heard her name spoken with an authority she could never have imagined coming from the injured young man. Neither spoke or even moved for a brief moment, and the room grew quieter as Lienilde&#8217;s sobbing lessoned. Finally, she slowly turned to face him, her cheeks still wet with tears.<br /> <br /> &quot;Lienilde,&quot; Isildur repeated, his voice softer but still containing an underlying sternness. &quot;After four months, I had thought that the one thing you knew about me is that I <em>do</em> care.&quot; He said no more, but sat unmoving, awaiting her answer.<br /> <br /> Lienilde looked at the young man who held her in his gaze so intently, though she soon found herself forced to look away in shame. For in the brief moment that their eyes met, she had seen not only his anger, but his pain. He was right, and she had been foolish not to see it. For how could he not care about Sauron&#8217;s doings after risking his life in Armenelos? He must have hidden his emotions from her, hoping not to upset her.<br /> <br /> &quot;I am sorry,&quot; she finally said, &quot;I do know you better than that. I was -- I mean, it is just that--&quot; Wringing her hands in exasperation, she gave up on words for a moment and returned to the chair at Isildur&#8217;s bedside, lacking the strength to stand while she tried to explain her many thoughts. She felt Isildur&#8217;s hand rest on her own, and looking up she saw a slight smile on his face. She knew then that he had forgiven her for her outburst, and that he cared enough to know what she was thinking. That was the encouragement she needed to continue.<br /> <br /> &quot;I was scared, Isildur,&quot; she finally said. &quot;I had images of Sauron&#8217;s soldiers arresting every last member of the Faithful, in Armenelos, in Romenna--&quot; She wiped her eyes as the tears threatened to return. &quot;And I have experienced so much heartache as of late! I have often tried to ignore it but...&quot; Her voice trailed off and finally she broke into tears. It had been a long time since she had simply sat and cried, and her heart needed a release from all of the painful emotions that it had kept pent up until now. Isildur said nothing and simply held her hand, and for that she was thankful.<br /> <br /> After several long moments of crying, her mind began to wander back to the hurtful things she had said to Isildur earlier that night. For her earlier words were true, even if she should not have spoken them: she was just so weary from everything she had heard and felt these past four months. Whenever she was not considering the recent ill tidings from Armenelos, she was worrying about Isildur. Just seeing his face every day brought so many emotions to her heart, both good and bad. Today more than ever she just wished that she could return to the life she had before she met Isildur. Yes, four months ago she had been naive about the goings-on at Armenelos, but she had also been happier, and life had been so much simpler. She had been only a girl: a daughter, a sister, an apprentice, and nothing more. Her world had been small, and Sauron and the King were distant people who had affected her not. Yet she knew that she must apologize for her outburst to her patient.<br /> <br /> &quot;Isildur,&quot; she finally said as her tears subsided, &quot;I did mean what I said, even though I should not have been so -- so angry.&quot; She was finding it hard to apologize, though she knew it was the right thing to do. Yet suddenly, her mind returned to the day that they had learned of Nimloth&#8217;s fate as a burnt offering. She realized that she had reacted to the news of the human sacrifice in much the same way that Anarion had reacted to hearing of the sacrifice of the White Tree. However, she also remembered the hope that she had given Anarion -- or more correctly, the hope that Isildur had given them both. <br /> <br /> &quot;I have spent many long hours worrying about you,&quot; she said, &quot;and about what is happening in Armenelos and in the hearts of our own people. Sometimes I do wish that I had not met you, because I wish my life could return to what it was before.&quot; She did not look at him as she spoke these last few words but quickly continued: &quot;But what I keep forgetting is that even if we had not met, Sauron would have still performed his terrible acts. And then I would have no hope -- for you have given me hope, Isildur, to know that there are still people who are strong enough to fight Sauron and hold to the beliefs of old.&quot;<br /> <br /> Lienilde finally looked up to see his reaction. &quot;Thank you,&quot; Isildur answered, giving her hand a quick squeeze. He considered her words for a moment and then added, &quot;Sometimes I fail to remember all the burdens that you must be bearing.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;But you are my patient,&quot; she replied, suddenly remembering her place and feeling slightly guilty for showing her true emotions, &quot;and I should not have distressed you so -- I should be the one giving strength to you.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Is that what you believe?&quot; Isildur then asked as he released her hand, his expression changing. The sadness was still visible in his eyes, but there was another emotion as well, one that Lienilde could not read, and she wondered at this.<br /> <br /> &quot;What do you mean?&quot; she said, wiping the last of her tears from her cheeks.<br /> <br /> &quot;Why do you think you should give me strength, as you say?&quot;<br /> <br /> Lienilde glanced at him, confused at this sudden change in topic. &quot;Why, because you are my patient, and I am the healer, of course.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Is that how you think of me? As only your patient?&quot; He paused, then lowered his voice slightly and continued, &quot;I had hoped that by now, you would consider me a friend.&quot;<br /> <br /> Lienilde could not help but smile slightly at this, touched by his words, especially in light of the anger she had shown toward him just moments before. &quot;Of course,&quot; she replied, and at that a light appeared in Isildur&#8217;s grey eyes. &quot;But you must agree that you are also my patient. I suppose that sometimes it is hard for me to separate the two.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;That is understandable,&quot; he replied, returning her smile. However, the mood did not last long; the smiles soon fell from both of their faces. &quot;It <em>has</em> been a long four months,&quot; he then said, his voice low. Lienilde could see that he was growing tired but she let him keep talking. &quot;We have all wept over Sauron&#8217;s recent doings, but I guess I never realized how much you worried about me as well. I should not fault you for your earlier words: you have been very strong to endure so much.&quot;<br /> <br /> Lienilde felt her face begin to flush. &quot;Trust me, I am not as strong as you think -- tonight should have been evidence of that!&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Then promise me something, Lienilde,&quot; Isildur then said.<br /> <br /> &quot;Yes?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Promise me that next time something happens, you will stay and let me comfort you.&quot;<br /> <br /> Lienilde smiled. &quot;Of course,&quot; she answered, resting her hand on his arm for a moment. She recalled the day that she had told him of Nimloth&#8217;s fate, when she and Isildur had sat together and cried together. Suddenly she knew that his arms would be more of a comfort to her than anything else, and she wondered why she had been on the verge of leaving the house earlier that night. Where would she have gone? &quot;It is strange,&quot; she said, &quot;that about two months ago, I was able to remain so calm, and now -- now everything seems to make me want to weep!&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;But much has happened during these two months,&quot; Isildur said. &quot;Two months ago your worries were limited to my health and the distant threat of Sauron. Cutting down Nimloth was a tragedy, to be sure, but nothing like what has transpired as of late. In fact, I am glad to see you upset -- it shows that you truly care for Numenor, and -- and for me.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;You are very perceptive,&quot; she said, unsure of how else to reply. Isildur&#8217;s words were true, and suddenly she did not feel so weak for being so emotional. He was right: it had been a very long four months, and she only hoped that the future would hold happier days.<br /> <br /> After a brief moment, she then stood. &quot;It is growing late,&quot; she said, &quot;and I still have not done what I came here to do.&quot;<br /> <br /> Isildur nodded, obviously weary from the day&#8217;s events, and fell silent as she examined his wounds. It was not long before Lienilde turned to leave. &quot;Goodnight Isildur, and I will try to be in better humor tomorrow,&quot; she said, trying to end the night on a lighter note.<br /> <br /> Isildur smiled briefly, though he did not open his eyes. &quot;Goodnight, sweet Lienilde,&quot; he said, his voice barely more than a whisper.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> Lienilde walked home slowly, contemplating the day&#8217;s events. She had been slightly surprised when Isildur had called her &quot;sweet Lienilde,&quot; but she soon forgot about it as her mind went to other, more depressing events. The news of Sauron&#8217;s sacrifice still brought fear and sadness to her heart, yet now that the initial shock had worn off, she was able to stay more composed than she was earlier. When she arrived home, it was obvious that her family had not heard the news for they were all in a light-hearted mood, and Lienilde did not want to spoil the night. Thus she simply joined them in their conversations, trying to forget about the day&#8217;s events. They would hear of the sacrifice soon enough.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>&quot;Thereafter the fire and smoke went up without ceasing; for the power of Sauron daily increased, and in that temple, with spilling of blood and torment and great wickedness, men made sacrifice to Melkor that he should release them from Death. And most often from among the Faithful they chose their victims; yet never openly on the charge that they would not worship Melkor, the Giver of Freedom, rather was cause sought against them that they hated the King and were his rebels, or that they plotted against their kin, devising lies and poisons. These charges were for the most part false; yet those were bitter days, and hate brings forth hate.&quot;</em><br /> <br /> <em>-The Akallabeth, from The Silmarillion</em><br /> <br /> <strong>Notes:</strong><br /> <br /> Lienilde: &quot;People-loving&quot;, a twenty-six-year-old healer&#8217;s apprentice.<br /> Vorime: &quot;Faithful&quot; or &quot;Steadfast&quot;, healer and Lienilde&#8217;s master.<br /> Ardil: &quot;Noble Friend&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s thirty-three-year-old brother.<br /> Failon: &quot;Generous, Just&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s thirteen-year-old brother.<br /> Melde: &quot;Beloved&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s mother.<br /> Mandil: &quot;Good Friend&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s father.<br /> Inzil: Adunaic for &quot;Flower&quot;, Ardil&#8217;s wife.<br />
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