The Hands of a Healer - A short story about a little girl in Gondor
"There, there, Little One." a kindly old woman comforted, "You are safe now."
The little girl gazed up at her for a moment, unsure of all that had happened, "Where...where am I?" She looked around, noticing the carved beams and hearing others in the hallways.
"You are in the Houses of Healing, Little One. A soldier brought you in hurt from the lower levels of the city." the woman answered, "Now, let's check your wound." She gently peeled away the bandage and slowly wiped the wound with a wet cloth. The little girl squeezed her eyes shut, desperately trying not to cry.
"I am sorry, Little One. I know it hurts." the woman apologized, tying a new bandage on, "There, it'll heal nicely. You were lucky, you were. A few more inches over and the arrow would have pierced your heart."
The little girl looked at her. "I was shot with an arrow?" she gasped.
"Why, yes...do you not remember getting brought here?" the woman asked, helping the girl to lie back down.
"No, I don't. All I remember is hearing the roar of the orcs and the yell of Mithrandir to retreat. I just ran with the rest of the children. I felt a burning in my shoulder and fell...I don't remember anything else." the girl answered, starting to cry.
"Sh...sh...it's alright. You're safe." the old woman reassured and hugged her, "Now, do you have a name?"
"Gilraen...my name is Gilraen. I am ten years old, almost a woman, my father told me." Gilraen answered sleepily.
"Ai, I am Elen. Sleep, Little Gilraen. Things should seem better in the morning." Elen softly covered Gilraen up and tiptoed out of the room, for the little girl had fallen asleep almost immediately after saying her name.
Gilraen walked the hallways, carrying a tray of food. It had been three days, and she had healed quickly. Elen had said that she was well enough to move about the place and let her bring food. It seemed that the men and women were uplifted by seeing a child's face, especially when she either read or sang to them. Gilraen stopped as men brought in more stretchers from the battle field. Most of the men were mortally wounded. One had a broken shaft of a spear still in his chest and a deep gash across his forehead. She glanced at them, and then her eyes went wide with disbelief. The tray crashed to the ground.
"Father!" she screamed, racing towards the stretcher of the man with the broken spear shaft. A soldier grabbed her and held her back.
"No, Little One." he soothed, keeping her from the stretcher, "Not now...do not see your father now."
She looked at the soldier, seeing the grave look in his eyes, and then burst into tears. The soldier gently held her, his eyes full of pity for this little girl. He had seen her father's mortal wounds. There wasn't much hope for him.
"It's alright..." he slowly loosed her arms from about him, "Where is your mother?"
"She's...she's dead." Gilraen answered softly.
"I am sorry." he said helplessly, looking around for any kind of healer. He saw Elen walking towards them, "Grandmother? Can you take care of this little girl? Her father was just brought in."
Elen nodded and guided Gilraen to a seat. "It's going to be alright, Gilraen." she comforted her.
"No, no it won't. I saw my father. He was so...he looked like my mother." Gilraen shouted angrily, pulling away from Elen. She turned and raced down the hall, tears streaming down her face. She went into the room she was staying and threw herself onto the bed, sobbing uncontrollably, "Eru...please let my father be alright. Please help him." She fell into a restless sleep.
"Gilraen...wake up, Child." Elen shook her shoulder.
"What..." Gilraen rubbed her eyes sleepily.
"It's your father...you should come." Elen said urgently.
Gilraen leaped up and followed Elen down the hall to his room. She went in behind Elen and stopped. Her father lay on the bed, deadly pale. He had no shirt on, and she could see bandages around his ribs and brow. She went over to him softly.
"Father?" she whispered, "Father, it's me, Gilraen." He didn't stir, "Please wake up. You promised to show me the flowers in spring, remember? And you promised to teach me how to ride a horse." She grasped his hand, fingering his ring, "Please, Papa. Wake up. You told me that you would teach me how to fight when I got bigger, and that you would someday take me to see the elves. I can't go by myself, Papa."
"Child, you...you best go now. We need to change his bandages. You can wait outside, if you like." Elen approached her, "You should know...there isn't much hope for him healing, Child. Pray to Eru...." Gilraen allowed the young nurse to steer her outside. She sat on a bench in shock and started thinking about her father...
"Gilraen?" Iorlass shouted, "Where are you, my crazy girl?"
"Here I am, Papa!" Gilraen raced into his arms. He laughed and swung her up high.
"Iorlass, don't drop our daughter." Lothel smiled from the loom.
"You think I would drop our only daughter?" Iorlass looked amazed, "You mean like this?" He threw her up and pretended not to catch her. Gilraen screamed in laughter, knowing all the while that he would not drop her.
"No, I don't think you would drop her." Lothel laughed, getting up and kissing him.
"Ima, please tell me a story." Gilraen begged, clambering up into Iorlass' lap. She snuggled up with him, his arm around her.
"Alright, here's a story about the woman you are named after. I knew her well. She was a valiant woman with a fighting spirit. She married a fine man with a grand heritage. She had a son and named him "Aragorn", for he was to fulfill a great calling. Well, her husband died, and she went to live with the elves, for some bad men were after her son. The elves protected and taught Aragorn as one of their own kind, and he grew up to be a fine warrior with a kind heart." Lothel stopped and kept on weaving.
"Ima? Is that the end?" Gilraen asked, a little disappointed.
"No, Daughter, that is not the end, for Aragorn's part in this world has not finished." Lothel smiled at her husband.
"Come, Crazy Girl! It is time for bed." Iorlass swooped her up and put her to bed.
Gilraen smiled at the memory, for it was about six years ago. She remembered how that was one of the last stories her mother told before she became sick and died. Gilraen shook at the memory of seeing her mother, pale and sickly...
"Gilraen...do not be too sorrowful at my parting. I have played my part and am going to Mandos." Lothel had told her, though Gilraen was too young to understand and still is, "Take care of your father for me. Remember your name and who she was." And with those parting words, she had breathed her last. Gilraen did not do anything for a while, and then ran outside, crying for help. Some kind neighbors had come in and took her mother away. The next day, she and her father were standing next to Lothel's grave. Her father did not smile or laugh as quickly or easily as he used to, she had noticed. But he did do everything for her and took good care of her.
Gilraen walked aimlessly down the hall, remembering the last time she saw her father...
"Gilraen?" Iorlass called, standing in the doorway.
Gilraen ran up, stopping short in front of him. He was dressed in full armor and a horse was saddled outside. "Father?" she questioned, taking in his grave face and manner.
"I am summoned to go out and fight, Gilraen." Iorlass said.
"No, Father! You will get killed!" Gilraen hugged him tightly, as if to keep him from leaving.
"My child, I must go. The Steward has summoned me." Iorlass gathered her into his arms, stroking her hair, "Smile for me, my Crazy Girl. I want to leave seeing your cheerful face."
Gilraen smiled through her tears and kissed him goodbye. He mounted his horse, looking proud, with his armor shining in the sunlight. He waved goodbye and rode out with the other men. She waved until she couldn't see him anymore. She then allowed the woman who was staying with her to guide her back into the house.
Suddenly, she remembered how she had gotten hurt. It was several hours after her father had left, when soldiers pounded on every door...
"Go up to the next level! Up to the next level! We are going to get overrun!" the soldiers had cried. Mithrandir had seconded the cry, urging the people on.
Gilraen had raced with the others when she tripped over some debris. As she was struggling to get up, something pierced her shoulder. Glancing down, she saw an arrow sticking out of her shoulder and blood, her own blood, starting to soak through. She cried out in pain, causing a young soldier nearby to hear her. He paused, glancing at her. She looked pleadingly up at him. He raced towards her and swept her up without breaking stride. She felt him stumble, but then push on. She blacked out and woke up in the Houses of Healing.
Gilraen realized that she had walked down several halls and started to go back to her father. She had tears streaming down her face and was looking down. She bumped into a man coming out of Faramir's room. She mumbled an apology, looking up at him. He had a dark cloak on with the hood covering his face. All she could see were his eyes, piercingly grey, glancing kindly down at her. The cloak was gathered about him, but she could see a sword hilt poking out of it.
"What is wrong, Child?" he asked kindly.
"I...nothing." she answered hesitantly.
"Nothing? Then why do you cry?" he knelt so he could look her in the eyes.
"I...my father is going to die." Gilraen sobbed out. The man looked at her with compassion.
"What is your name, Tetheniel (Little One)?" he wiped her tears with his hand.
"Gilraen." she rubbed her eyes, looking at him.
He didn't move, but his eyes took on a keener gaze as he watched her. "Gilraen? I knew a woman once, with that name." he stood up and took her hand, "Come, Gilraen. Show me where your father is at."
She gazed up at him, barely coming up to his waist. "Are you a healer, Sir?" she questioned hopefully.
"Yes...I am a healer." he walked slowly, allowing her to lead him.
"Maybe you can help my father...but the other healers said there is no hope for him." she said sadly.
"No hope? There is always hope, Gilraen." he stooped down, "Always hang onto hope, Tetheniel." Suddenly, she blacked out and then woke up to see him looking down at her.
"What happened?" she sat up.
"You fainted...why did you not tell me you were wounded?" he picked her up carefully.
"I...I don't know." she felt her bandage, "It hasn't been hurting for many days."
"It won't hurt you anymore." he smiled down at her.
"What is your name, Sir?" she asked shyly.
"Estel..." he walked swiftly towards her father's room.
"There you are, Gilraen." Elen strode out of the room, "Your father is worse, Child. I am afraid..." She broke off as she noticed Estel for the first time.
"Elen, this is Estel. He's a healer too. He wants to look at Father." Gilraen limped towards her as Estel entered the room. He threw back his hood and examined Iorlass's wounds, kneeling by the bed.
"His are not as bad as some..." Estel told Elen.
"Will you be able to help him, Estel?" Gilraen looked at him hopefully, standing next to the bed.
Estel smiled grimly, "Yes, I will." He placed his hands on the different wounds. His eyes were closed, and his face was grim. He seemed to be in a slight struggle, but soon won. He spoke some words in a tongue Gilraen did not know and relaxed. His eyes opened, and he smiled at her. "Your father will be alright, Gilraen." he stood up.
"Gilraen?" a weak voice questioned.
"Father!" Gilraen hugged him, "You are alright! Just like Estel said."
Iorlass looked at Estel. His eyes went wide, recognizing him. "M'lord..." Iorlass struggled to sit up.
"No, lie down." Estel gently restrained him, "Good service, my friend."
"Thank you, m'lord." Iorlass smiled, grasping Gilraen's hand. Estel pulled his hood up and started out of the room.
"Estel!" Gilraen came up, "Thank you." She shyly stood in front of him. He knelt and hugged her, "You are most welcome, Gilraen. Take care of your father." He nodded to Elen and disappeared down the halls.
"Well...I never would have believed it..." Elen laughed, tears streaming down her face, "The hands of a king are the hands of a healer, so they say."
"Yes, they are." Iorlass kissed his daughter's brow, "Thank you, my Crazy Girl."
"Father, did you know Estel?" Gilraen asked, holding his hand tightly.
"Yes, in a way. I fought for him." Iorlass laughed a little at her confused look, "He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the king of Gondor."
"Aragorn...the same one as Ima..."her eyes went wide with wonder, "Then the story isn't over..."
Her father smiled lovingly at her, "No, Child. It is far from over."