Flowers of Nimloth - Chapter 3
Chapter 1: www.theonering.com/articles/20010,1.html
Chapter 2: www.theonering.com/articles/20031,1.html
Chapter 3: www.theonering.com/articles/20052,1.html
<b>Chapter 3: Isildur’s Great Deed</b>
She arose about an hour later, the tears finally dry, her heart calm again. She immediately recalled the words she had overheard Anarion tell his sleeping brother, but she tried to push the memories from her mind, already feeling embarrassed for staying to listen. She also began to feel guilty that she had neglected her duties as healer for much of the day, so she walked to Isildur’s room to check on his condition. This time she paused, and when she heard no voices, she knocked on the door.
When there was no reply to her knock, she entered the room and sat by Isildur’s bed. He had been propped up on his side the previous day with several blankets and pillows, to allow for easier breathing and to keep his weight off the injuries on his back and chest. His face was turned toward her, his eyes still closed in unconsciousness. Lienilde had intended to change his bandages, but once again she found herself memorized by his young face. What was it that so attracted her to the wounded man? She knew nothing about him, not even how he came by his injuries. She longed to see a smile on his face, to ask him what happened, or even just to see his eyes open -- with a start, she realized that she didn’t even know what color they were.
"What happened to you?" she whispered, slowly bringing a hand to his face. There were no tears this time -- her tears were spent -- but the compassion she had felt earlier was still present. Her fingers soon found their way into his still matted hair, and then down to his warm, feverish cheek. At their touch, Isildur began to stir, and Lienilde, startled, quickly pulled her hand back. To her amazement, Isildur then groaned and opened his eyes slightly, staring past her blankly.
<i>Dark grey</i>, she thought to herself. <i>His eyes are a dark grey. Like a storm cloud -- a storm over a dark sea</i>. Many Numenoreans of Beorian descent had eyes in some shade of grey, but his eyes were slightly darker than average. Suddenly remembering that she was here as his healer and not his admirer, she felt her face flush as she asked, "Isildur? Can you hear me?"
The young man did hear and slowly turned his eyes to look at her, though he remained silent. Lienilde continued, hoping to keep him awake. "My name is Lienilde. I am a healer -- or rather, a healer’s apprentice. How are you feeling?"
"Tired," Isildur replied, his voice raspy and hardly louder than a whisper. "And...thirsty."
"Here, drink this," Lienilde answered, holding a cup of water to his lips. A good healer always had water available for their patients. <i>Though if I had known he would awaken, I would have made some medicinal tea!</i> Lienilde thought, making a mental note to prepare the tea later that day so it would be ready the next time he awoke. <i>Assuming there will be a next time,</i> she reminded herself, for Isildur was far from healed, though in her heart she felt that he would survive. Why she felt this way she knew not, for just the fact that Isildur had awakened did not ensure his recovery. But there was no denying the sudden hope that filled her heart and threatened to chase away the darkness.
Isildur managed to take a few sips of water, then coughed and quickly fell back asleep. Encouraged that he had awakened if only for a brief time, the young healer forgot about her intent to change his bandages and left to find Elendil and his family to share the good news.
A quick tour of the house convinced her that no one was inside, so she decided to check the stables and sheds. If the men were not there, she would assume they were at the shipyards and would wait for them to return. She quickly made her way to the back of the house and entered the stables, only to find several horses and a single stable hand. As she left the stables, she heard muffled voices coming from a small storage shed, so without thought she walked to the shed and opened the door.
She was startled to find Amandil, Elendil, and Anarion all in the small building, and they in turn were surprised to see her, for they all stopped what they were doing immediately upon seeing the door open. Elendil stood in the center of the shed holding a shovel, with the beginnings of a small hole at his feet. Anarion stood rigid in the corner, with Amandil beside him, holding a small white object which Lienilde could not identify. "I’m -- I’m sorry," she stammered as she moved to shut the door and leave, "I did not mean to interrupt--"
"No, it’s all right," Amandil answered, "Please stay." Lienilde paused, unsure of whether to stay since she knew her presence had been uninvited. She noticed Elendil and Anarion both glance at the older man, apparently surprised that he would ask her to stay. After a brief mental deliberation, Lienilde decided it was best not to disobey the man, so she entered the shed and shut the door behind her. She was surprised to find that the shed was rather well-lit with the door shut, due to a small window high on the wall and several cracks and holes in the wooden roof.
"Lienilde," Amandil continued, "I know that your parents are trustworthy and righteous, and from what I have seen I judge that you are the same." The young healer blushed, for no one had ever described her as "righteous" before this day. She also wondered what had spurred this preamble, and what the old man would say next. "You have been diligent in treating my grandson, and I feel that it is only right for you to know how he received his injuries."
Lienilde’s heart jumped to know she would finally find the answers to the questions that had been plaguing her since the previous morning, yet she was curious as to how their activities in the shed related to Isildur’s doings. So she simply remained silent, waiting for Amandil to continue.
"I trust that your parents have educated you in the history of our great isle of Numenor?" Amandil continued.
"A little," Lienilde replied, for it had been many years since she had received any lessons about Numenor’s history and remembered little of what she had been taught. But how did this relate to Isildur?
"Do you know the history of Nimloth, the white tree in the courts of the King?"
She thought for a moment and replied with all the knowledge she could recall: "I know that it is related to Telperion, one of the Two Trees that lighted the world ere the days of the sun."
Amandil smiled. "Very good. A more detailed history of Nimloth I will give you another day, perhaps. However there is one more important aspect that you must know. Surely you are aware of how the King and the people of Numenor have fallen so far from the will Valar?"
"Of course," Lienilde replied. She now began to wonder if she should have paid more attention to her parents’ political discussions instead of gardening or playing with her brothers. She still did not understand how this conversation related to Isildur, but she held her tongue and allowed Amandil to speak.
"Many years ago, the King Tar-Palantir prophesized that the fate of the King’s house, the line of Elros, would be forever tied to the fate of Nimloth. A week ago, I received word that Sauron was trying to convince the King to cut down the White Tree. I was distraught, knowing that such an act would bring the curse of the Valar down upon the King and all of Numenor, and I shared the news with my son and grandsons. Isildur took it upon himself to enter the King’s courts in disguise, and stole a fruit from the branches of Nimloth."
Amandil held aloft the white object he had been holding, and Lienilde suddenly realized that it was the fruit of Nimloth. The fruit was round and white, with the slightest hint of a silver shimmer when the rays of the sun touched it. She suddenly felt tears in her eyes threaten to run down her face as she realized the heroic act that Isildur had performed. All of her emotions and concern for the man suddenly made sense -- it was as if somehow she had known of his deed all along. But how could she have known of his actions? Had she somehow been given such compassion so that she could give Isildur all the care that he needed? These thoughts had barely entered her mind when she became distracted by Amandil’s continued conversation.
"Isildur did not tell us of his intentions," Amandil said. "And we did not know of them until he appeared on my doorstep yesterday morning, in the condition in which you found him."
Lienilde quickly looked down to hide her watery eyes, failing to notice similar emotions on the other men’s faces. How had he managed to travel all the way from Armenelos, the capital city of Numenor, with such injuries? If he had been conscious she supposed he could have ridden a horse, but a fifty-mile ride with arrow shafts still in his body would have been incredibly painful. Surely the grace of the Valar had followed this young man and brought him home!
After a moment’s pause, Amandil continued. "It is now time for us to finish Isildur’s task. He saved this fruit in an attempt to preserve the line of Nimloth and lessen the wrath of the Valar. We must now plant the fruit, so that if Nimloth does fall to the ax of Sauron, its descendent will live on."
Now Lienilde understood why they were in the shed -- they hoped to plant the fruit and keep it hidden here in the small building. As long as Isildur’s disguise was not found out, no one would have reason to look for the fruit on Elendil’s land.
"I see," Lienilde replied, afraid that if she said any more she would break into tears. She did not see the slight smile that appeared briefly on Amandil’s lips, for the old man was perceptive and could see the compassion she felt for his grandson.
Elendil began digging again, and the other three watched in silence. After a few moments he set the shovel aside, and Amandil silently placed the fruit in the ground and covered it with loose dirt. Lienilde watched the process intently, while her mind whirled with the information she had just received. <i>Isildur risked his life to save the fate of Nimloth, to avert the wrath of the Valar! Yet he is so young, like me -- would I ever have the courage to perform such a sacrificial act?</i> In her heart, Lienilde feared the answer to her question was no, and she admired Isildur all the more.
When Amandil had finished planting the fruit, he motioned to the others to be silent as he spoke a blessing over the fruit and the seedling which would arise:
"O holy Eru, and great Valar, creators of the stars and Arda and all things upon it, you have blessed Numenor greatly in years passed. You raised our isle from the sea and led us to our new home, and graced us with the splendor of Nimloth, descendent of Galathilion, the image of your great White Tree, Telperion. Your decrees are just and your imminent judgment toward our people is much deserved, yet I pray that you may heed our cry. For Isildur nearly gave his life, and may yet still--" here, his voice faltered, and Lienilde saw a single tear escape his eye at these words. She suddenly remembered that she had come here to inform them of Isildur’s improved condition, but remained silent and closed her eyes, caught up in the powerful moment of the blessing. "But by his actions, I pray that your wrath against the line of Elros will be lessened, for here before us is planted the seed of Nimloth. Bless this seed and the tree it will produce, and remember it when your time of judgment comes. May this seedling live long to remind us of the splendor of Numenor which has all but faded in these days. Forgive us all for not heeding your counsel, for we are but mere mortals, and your wisdom is perfect."
After a long moment of silence, the four Faithful opened their eyes nearly simultaneously. Without a word, they left the shed to continue their vigil by Isildur’s side.
<i>"And Sauron urged the King to cut down the White Tree, Nimloth the Fair, that grew in his courts, for it was a memorial of the Eldar and of the light of Valinor. At first the King would not assent to this, since he believed that the fortunes of his house were bound up with the Tree, as was forespoken by Tar-Palantir. Thus in his folly he who now hated the Eldar and the Valar vainly clung to the shadow of the old allegiance of Numenor. But when Amandil heard rumour of the evil purpose of Sauron he was grieved to the heart, knowing that in the end Sauron would surely have his will. Then he spoke to Elendil and the sons of Elendil, recalling the tale of the Trees of Valinor; and Isildur said no word, but went out by night and did a deed for which he was afterwards renowned... But Isildur came at last hardly back to Romenna and delivered the fruit to the hands of Amandil, ere his strength failed him. Then the fruit was planted in secret, and it was blessed by Amandil."</i>
<i>-The Akallabeth, from The Silmarillion</i>
Lienilde: "People-loving", a twenty-five-year-old healer’s apprentice.
Vorime: "Faithful" or "Steadfast", healer and Lienilde’s master.