Tasana: Queen of Wargs - Part XVI:Of Trust and Betrayal, Section 1
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"Ye gods, 'Naki! Stop acting like a squirrel-bitten pup and come here," Tasana gestured exasperatedly from where she sat by the smoky fire, but the old black Warg still refused to approach her, bristling uneasily at the heat of the flames.
"You are mad, Chev'yahna. I do not know why I consented to allow a rabid zwiero to join my pack. I realize I was suffering from deep wounds at the time, but zwiero multiply like rats and bring strange customs to the packs," Gonaki continued to mutter, watching in horror as the woods woman picked through a pack mate's fur with a hot, dried stick from the fire.
"There's one," the healer murmured, touching her hickory stick to a bug. As the parasite squirmed under the heat, causing the watching alpha to writhe in sympathy, Tasana removed it from the wolf's back and threw it in the fire, where the unlucky invertebrate expired with a crackle. "Complain about Rak and his element as you will, Sekrahc, but fire is as necessary to furthering culture as ice."
"The Wargs have done with a minimum of fire for hundreds of years, Chev'yahna. I see no reason to fly in the face of history," Gonaki replied. "What does a zwiero know of Wargish gods anyway?" He shook himself irritably, biting at the work of another bloodsucker.
"When the four are balanced, the packs shall live in harmony once more," The woman quoted one of Mithilira's favorite religious sayings. Both the old lady Warg seeress and Sekrahc Sahnchanc had equated Tasana with odd prophecies of a being called the Balancer, the one who would bring peace between the Wargs and their onetime friends and companions, the elves. The woods woman had always laughed off such comparisons, as had Gonaki. Even Mithilira only spoke of such things in jest, now.
And yet, as Tasana let Roliran go with one final itch along his back, she recalled that a very tiny level, she had done just that. The beta, aloof as he was amongst even the rest of the pack at times, had formed enough of a friendship with Legolas that he wished he had convinced the archer to come back to the garm with him, instead of heading further into danger. Gaundalan had still not returned home, opting instead to stay with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli on their journey. It worried the yearling's parents to no end, but Tasana was glad to know that there yet remained a member of the pack with her brother and their friends. It gave her more hope of uniting someday with the rest of the group.
"To T'sheckna with the balance. I am not coming over there." Gonaki was revealing his teeth, but Tasana need not worry yet, she knew it to be merely a nervous habit rather than a true sign of anger. The two of them had had this same argument every spring for the past twelve years, shortly before the pups were born.
"Fire's not so bad, Gonaki." Seeing that religious appeals were not getting her anywhere, the healer abruptly switched tactics. "You probably wouldn't be here to whine and complain today if I hadn't been able to boil my herbs with it. Now, come here and let me check you for ticks. You don't want your pups to get them now, do you?" With a rather theatric sigh, the alpha resigned himself to the inevitable and approached the kneeling woman and her blaze.
In this old struggle to petition the black Warg's pride while skirting all mention of his disastrous early affair with flames -a tale Gonaki would never tell, but his brother had spoken often of it enough to any being that would listen - Tasana could forget all grave affairs of men, hobbits, and Wargs, if only for a moment. In this minute, her frenzied ride to Rivendale with Mithilira could blend with any other run; and the woods woman's time with Boromir a vague dream that was in parts fantasy, in other parts nightmare.
Yet these sensations of normalcy passed quickly. The healer had only to turn to the other side of the fire in order to remember how much larger her world beyond pack boundaries had become, where the man she loved impatiently fiddled with his blanket as if he could heal his wounds instantaneously if only he put enough willpower into doing so. Her life had expanded: it was bigger, richer, much more dangerous, and yet ultimately more satisfying. There were questions about her expanding role that bothered Tasana, but she doubted she would ever be answer all of them, even if she were granted the lifetime of an elf and the wisdom of the wizards.
Many such questions centered upon Boromir and their budding love. There was no denying her feelings now, Tasana knew. The woods woman still felt a sense of incredulity every time she saw the steward's heir smile at her, reach for her hand. To wake up next to Boromir- the heartwarming thought of that alone gave Chev'yahna hope for the futures of her brother and their friends on their separate quests, and reassured her more than any vision or seer sense that the companions would meet again. Even if that day should prove to be the one that the T'Seer should call her name and speed her along a Warg friend's final journey; wherever her final destination might be, Tasana would go there willingly, given a last chance to speak frankly with Aragorn and Frodo, share a final joke with Legolas and Gimli, to see Merry and Pippin happy and carefree, to put Sam and the Wargs at ease with one another.
But more than any of that, Tasana would not be at peace without figuring out what she must do about Boromir. It was a step in the right direction, certainly, that they had admitted love for one another, but the healer still had reservations concerning the most logical next step. Chev'yahna feared the commitment of marriage, even though she had few compunctions concerning sleeping with him. Mating was natural to the woman of the wolves; a Warg pair needed no other ceremony to bind a couple together. Marriage, on the other hand, was a ceremony of the free folk that Tasana subconsciously feared would tear her from her wild family, the folk who had been her truest companions since her mother had died. The healer wanted to be a part of this larger world that her time amongst the fellowship had helped her discover, but an impassible rift betwixt the woods woman and her Wargs was too high a cost for her to bear.
"Yents!" Gonaki suddenly yelped, his ears flattening and tail tucking between his legs as fast as those of a startled yearling. "That was my skin you burnt, Chev'yaha-Ana*, not some tick!" he growled, and Tasana bobbed her head below his indignant expression and licked her lips in consternation, embarrassed that her thoughts had distracted her from the business at hand. "You'd do your best to keep your mind on that brand of yours, zwiero, lest you wish me to remove your means of manipulating such weapons." The Warg affected a righteous anger, but Tasana knew his blustering was designed to hide his fear of fire and gruff sympathy for the two-legged member of his pack.
"Aye, Sekrahc," Chev'yahna responded demurely. The fellowship had indeed opened up a new world for Tasana Rivermerchant, but for too long she had forgotten what lay at the heart of that world: the Wargs. Even if she could prove herself strong enough to step into the roles Aragorn and Boromir had encouraged her to, Chev'yahna still could not do so if it meant abandoning her four-legged family. If fate conspired to set Tasana amongst the nobility of the White City, the woods woman hoped the Steward did not mind dogs.
After she finished picking through Gonaki's fur, the gigantic black wolf sulked off towards the nearest body of water, complaining that the scent of smoke irritated his nostrils. This left the woman to tend to her other anxious ward, a simpler agenda in theory, but a much more difficult task in actual application. "Boromir," she said gently, taking his uneasily grasping hands in her own, "You know you'll heal faster if you get some rest."
"I'm lying down, aren't I?" He gestured openly. As a seasoned warrior, veteran of the fall of Osgiliath and more orc scrimmages than Tasana could hope to count, Boromir had seen his share of battlefield injuries, but that did not give him any more patience for waiting and healing. The soldier, known for his pride in his strength as well as for his valor and leadership, saw resting for long periods while other men were out and fighting to be a sign of weakness.
"That you are, but you may as well be pacing with the way you fidget so." The healer could not help but smile, despite her attempts at a grave voice. "Close your eyes, beloved, and get some sleep. You won't worry so much when you're not so tired."
"I think the stitches are ready to come out, Tasana," Boromir said brightly, welcoming her kiss but refusing to follow her advice. "They're beginning to itch."
The healer sighed with defeat, and then resumed her gently ironic smile. "It's been four days, now, I suppose. Stop worming like a little boy who's gotten in trouble, and I'll pull them loose. Deal?" She gave his wrist a gentle squeeze, and he returned it, placing his right arm over her elbow.
"Deal," Boromir laughed ruefully, then pulled her close. "We still have a certain wound to manly pride to heal as well, my Chev'yahna," he added, kissing her ear softly.
"You need sleep more than you need that, Boromir," Tasana pushed him down with another kiss before opening his shirt to check how he fared. Still holding her loosely, Boromir sat up slightly as she removed the bandages. Straddling his lower body, the woods woman examined her lover's wounds. Although he flinched at her light touch along his bare, half healed ribs, his arrow wounds were well scarred over and beginning to turn white. His stitches could indeed come out, but it would require a gentle hand so as not to disturb his knitting bones. "Let me fix you some tea before I start, dear."
"The last time you fixed me 'tea,' Tasana, I was asleep for nearly two days. I'm a full grown man, lover, I can take a bit of pain," Boromir responded.
"I know you can, but there is no sense in pushing your limits when the rest does you good anyway." Tasana had kept a small pot of mixed herbs ready to boil since he had reawakened from his previous sleeping draught, knowing that between his guilty conscience and painful wounds, the warrior could not sleep easily without them. There would come a time for Boromir to think about what he had done, a time for him to speak of his shame and work through it, but that time was not when he needed rest to heal the body. After the troubled, proud lord was once again sound of frame, his lover was willing to help him down the long, twisting road back to mental health. Until then, Tasana would let him take on one challenge at a time.
"You must insist upon this?" Breathing in the aromatic scent of the boiling herbs, Boromir reached to caress her as the sweet smell of kingsfoil infused his weary, worn frame with soothing sluggishness.
"It will heal you much faster than restless fidgeting," the woods woman nodded, passing him the warm, pungent brew.
Boromir suddenly caught her wrist as she presented the draught, a childishly frightened expression breaking through his warrior's bravado. "Will you be here when I awake, Tasana?" he asked her seriously, an undertone of trepidation lying beneath his gravity.
"Aye, my darling," she replied softly, gently breaking his worried grip. "There is nowhere else I'd rather be." Still afraid of his own weakness, but willing to trust himself in the hands of the healer, Boromir shakily took the proffered cup and drained it, with a silent salute to his lady. His tired eyes lingered upon her, as if she were his last anchor of routine and normalcy in a world that had become blurry with madness.
Tasana recognized the expression, for she had worn it often enough while attending to her wounded lover. For too long she had been separated from her pack, alone amongst strangers. True, she had met new friends; even family she had never expected to find. And yet it was because of Boromir that she had been willing to come on this journey, and Boromir who had first started to put her at ease with the rest of the company, even before her brother. The comforting words the healer had spoken were not just empty niceties, but truly heartfelt.
The only thing Chev'yahna truly wished she could change was the status of the rest of the fellowship. Let come what may, the woods woman could face it all with her pack and her friends united against the black tower; and yet there was very little she could do for them. With the help of Gonanki and Valenska, Aragorn and his companions had been forewarned of the trap they had been walking into, if they had understood their warning. Valenska had told the rest of the pack that she had lacked the words to truly make the Dunedain see the threat of the treachery of Isengard. This was becoming too typical of Tasana's time with the fellowship: she recognized the danger of their perils, but there was little or nothing she could do to prevent it by herself. She needed her friends to do their part to help her in order to help them.
For the first time in her lonely life, the aloof woods woman was beginning to truly appreciate the impact of her companions, and most of them had left her. Her self-mocking laughter at this thought caused Boromir to stir in his herb-induced half-doze, and Tasana kissed his heavy eyelids closed. Speaking partially to her drowsy patient, partially to herself, Chev'yahna quietly announced, "I have found my purpose here, within the forest, in the company of Wargs and my lord of my heart. Here is my strength, Boromir: the support of your own."
"I have no strength," he muttered sleepily with inner self-hatred that the warrior had attempted to mask under playful, gruff impatience with his slowly healing wounds bared to the world.
"You have me," Tasana replied sharply, but she knew not if he had heard her in the depths of sleep. The healer sat at his side for a long time, watching the rise and fall of his scarred chest. The stitches would come out that day, but a single thought would return to plague Chev'yahna: How did one repair a torn mind?
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[It's been awhile, so I'll give the full dictionary]
[Ana- trouble, or troublemaker, depending on context
Chev'yahna- healer, Tasana's nickname
Confuzzled- the general state of my mind
Gaundalan- a male yearling
Gonaki- ('Naki) Alpha male of Tasana's pack
Mistevar- Wargish God of ice and intelligence
Mithilira- Alpha female of Tasana's pack
Rak- Wargish god of fire
Sahnchanc- Gonaki's brother; alpha of the Isen pack
Sekrahc- Alpha male
T'Seer- "Blessed ravens"; guides of the dead
T'Sheckna- Hades; also, Wargish goddess of the dead
Valenska- a female yearling with a loose grasp of the Common Tongue
Zwiero- two legged being]