Chapter 1: www.theonering.com/articles1-20010/FlowersofNimlothChapter1
Chapter 2: www.theonering.com/articles1-20031/FlowersofNimlothChapter2
Chapter 3: www.theonering.com/articles1-20052/FlowersofNimlothChapter3
Chapter 4: www.theonering.com/articles1-20083/FlowersofNimlothChapter4
Chapter 5: www.theonering.com/articles1-20129/FlowersofNimlothChapter5
Chapter 6: www.theonering.com/articles1-20150/FlowersofNimlothChapter6
Chapter 7: www.theonering.com/articles1-20162/FlowersofNimlothChapter7
Chapter 8: www.theonering.com/articles1-20192/FlowersofNimlothChapter8
Chapter 9: www.theonering.com/articles1-20199/FlowersofNimlothChapter9
Chapter 10: www.theonering.com/articles1-20200/FlowersofNimlothChapter10
<strong>Chapter 11: Secrets Revealed</strong>
Lienilde awoke the next morning to the persistent sound of her mother’s knocking. She immediately noticed that the sky was still dark and the stench still permeated even their house. Her heart dropped; she had hoped to awake to a bright, sunny day so that maybe the isle could return to how it was before the smoke had arrived.
She slowly slid out of bed and stood up, but feeling slightly light-headed she quickly sat down again.
"Lienilde, I have been knocking for several minutes," her mother Melde said, finally opening the door. "Are you alright?"
"Yes," Lienilde answered, but her mother did not believe her. Walking across the room, Melde immediately put a hand on her daughter’s forehead.
"Why, you have a bit of a fever!" Melde exclaimed. Maybe I should send for Vorime–"
"No mother, it is all right," Lienilde answered. "It is just a winter flu; I will be fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. After nearly a year of training I can certainly diagnose a simple flu," Lienilde said with a weak smile.
"Very well then," Melde replied, "I shall send Failon to tell Vorime you will not be working today, and to fetch some of her herbs. And you, my dear, are not to leave your bed for awhile." Lienilde nodded, knowing that she could not convince her mother otherwise. She was surprised that she had been able to prevent her mother from calling for Vorime, for Melde had always been rather overly concerned when one of her children was ill. Though it was not without cause: she had been that way ever since Ardil had survived a rather serious illness as a child.
Melde then turned to leave, but Lienilde called out as an afterthought, "Wait — have Failon tell Vorime to check on Isildur."
"Of course, dear," Melde replied with a smile before leaving her daughter alone for a while.
Lienilde lay back down and sighed. After what had transpired between her and Isildur the previous day, she was rather looking forward to seeing him again. She wanted to ensure that he was handling the news of the temple well, but more importantly she wanted to spend more time with a man who would care so much for a young healer he hardly knew. He hardly knew, Lienilde repeated to herself. That is why I long to see him — I hardly know him, and I want to learn more about him: his thoughts, his character… and I wouldn’t object if he learned a little about me in the process… Lienilde suddenly realized that a smile had formed on her face. I do care about him, she thought. Even though I may have tried to forget at times, trying to be a professional healer, I’ve always cared about him, ever since I first saw him, really… With that thought, Lienilde drifted off to a light sleep, as her body tried to recover from her illness.
The day passed slowly for Lienilde. When she was not napping, she was eating the soup and herbal tea her mother prepared, or reading the healers’ manuals that Vorime had loaned her early in her apprenticeship, just to pass the time. Being confined to bed was already depressing enough, but the continual sight and smell of Nimloth’s smoke outside her window worsened her mood even more. She soon longed to leave her room and do something, anything, to take her mind away from her dreary thoughts, but she knew that her mother would not allow her to leave her room until her fever dropped.
Late in the afternoon, she was pleasantly surprised to hear a knock at her door, recognizing that the hand did not belong to her mother. Her younger brother Failon then entered the room.
"Lienilde, would a game of chess cheer you up?" he asked, holding up the board and a box of wooden chess pieces. Mandil had carved the pieces several years ago when Failon had first shown an interest in chess at a rather young age. Mandil may have been a smith by trade, but he had always had a heart for whittling, and the house was full of his hand-crafted wooden trinkets.
"I don’t know if it will cheer me up," Lienilde replied with a smile, "but I have a feeling you would much enjoy it!"
"I was going to let you win," Failon said, trying his best to act insulted but failing miserably, "but not if you won’t be nice to me!"
Lienilde laughed, thankful for the release from her previous thoughts. "Just come here and play! I know you would never let me win; you derive too much joy from seeing us adults lose to an ‘innocent child’ such as yourself."
Failon grinned, knowing she spoke the truth. He climbed up onto the foot of her bed, facing his sister and putting the board between them. It was not long before he had arranged all the pieces on the board. "Here," he said, "I will be nice and even let you make the first move."
"That’s only because you always want to go second!" Lienilde exclaimed. "I can see through you too easily, brother. You go first, and perhaps I will have a chance to deflect your attacks!"
Failon grinned; the challenge had begun.
Failon easily won the first game, to no surprise for either of them. Lienilde readily agreed to a second game, for the alternative — sitting alone in her room until her mother brought her dinner — did not appeal to her.
Yet as the game drew on, the siblings grew tired of idle talk and fell to silence. Not long after, Failon began to make several misjudgments in his strategy, being surprised by some of Lienilde’s moves. Concerned, Lienilde studied her bother closely, and could see that his thoughts were not fully on the game.
"Failon, is something wrong?" Lienilde finally asked. "You are not playing as well as usual."
"It’s just that–" he paused, and looked out the window. "Do not the dark clouds depress you?"
"Yes," Lienilde replied, "it seems that no matter what I do, they are always on my mind."
"I know," Failon turned toward the chessboard, for it was his turn, but soon decided against moving just yet and looked up at his sister.
"They say the smoke comes from the King’s offerings to Melkor," Failon finally said. "Yet what could he burn that would cloud the whole isle for two days? And why does he even worship Melkor — Mother and Father have always said that Melkor was evil, so why would a king do such a thing?"
Surprised, Lienilde looked at her brother. Failon normally took his problems to their parents; he had never opened up his heart to her like this before. She hesitated in her answer, unsure of how to respond.
"Well," she finally replied, "Your first question is easiest to answer. King Ar-Pharazon — or rather Sauron — burned the White Tree of Numenor as his first offering."
"The White Tree? Is that not a symbol of the kings?"
"Yes," she replied, but did not tell him of Tar-Palantir’s prophecy that Nimloth was tied to the fate of the line of Elros. She knew that would bring questions that she was unable to answer.
"But why would the King do such a thing?" Failon repeated his earlier question, frustrated that he was not getting all the answers he desired.
"I guess even kings can be corrupted by evil," Lienilde simply replied.
"But what hope does Numenor have if even its King has turned to evil?"
Lienilde almost cringed at his words. How many times had she heard others ask a form of the same question — how many times had she asked the question herself? And what was the answer? Had she ever received a satisfactory answer?
"Just because a king has turned to evil," Lienilde said, "does not mean that his people must turn as well. Do you recall Mother and Father’s talk of the Faithful?"
"Yes, but what have they ever done? Should they not fight this evil?"
But they have done something — Isildur has done something! Lienilde desperately wanted to tell her brother. But once again she refrained herself from telling his story — if anyone loyal to the King learned of his deed, Isildur and likely his whole family would be in danger.
"They do not yet wish to be counted as rebels against the King," Lienilde finally replied instead. "They have kept the decrees of the Valar — that is all we can do for now."
Failon sighed and looked down at the chessboard, knowing that Lienilde could give him no better answer. "I suppose. But surely the Valar will not permit the King to worship Melkor forever."
Before Lienilde could formulate a reply, they heard Melde call Failon to dinner.
"Let us call this game a draw," Failon said as he began to gather up the pieces. Lienilde’s first thought was to tease him for not insisting that they continue the game so he would win, but she thought better of it. Failon did not seem to be in the mood for such humor, and neither was she. When they were finished, Lienilde stood up from her bed.
"Mother will be angry if you leave your room!" Failon cautioned.
"I do not care; I think I shall go mad if I spend any more time locked in this dreary room!" A brief image of Isildur, confined to bed for two months now, flashed through her mind, but she quickly ignored it as she made her way to the kitchen.
After much persuasion, Melde allowed Lienilde to join the family for dinner, with the stipulation that Lienilde not leave the house until her fever was gone. The girl readily agreed, knowing that as long as her fever persisted she would not be well enough to perform her healer’s duties anyway.
Although about halfway through the meal, Lienilde began to wonder why she had been so persistent about joining them. The family was much quieter than normal; everyone was still obviously depressed by the black smoke and the pervasive stench. Indeed, Lienilde was finding it difficult just to finish her meal with the foul odor in her nostrils. Finally she leaned back in her seat, deciding that she had eaten enough.
"Are you all right, dear?" Melde asked, seeing that her daughter had quit eating. "I told you not to get out of bed–"
"I am fine, Mother. I am just not hungry, the stench–" she then stopped, deciding that she did not want to worsen the mood by discussing the smoke.
However, the damage had been done. "When is the smoke going to clear?" Failon asked.
"I do not know, son," Mandil simply replied.
"Do you think it is an omen?" Failon persisted on the topic. His words became more rushed as he began to let his frustrations show: he had asked a lot of questions that day but had not received many answers. "I still do not understand why no one will fight the King or Sauron to stop the worship of Melkor — or maybe if someone could tear down the temple — but I know–" Finally he could think of no more words and sat sullenly, his arms crossed.
Mandil and Melde traded a glance, clearly unsure of how to address their son. Finally Mandil spoke: "Failon, you know that kings are appointed by the Valar; we cannot rebel against them. There must be some purpose to this that we do not see."
"What purpose can there be?" Failon retorted. "And even if there is a purpose, what do we do until then? Sit around and do nothing? Like the Faithful have done, ever since Sauron rose to power? Why do they call themselves the–"
"But they have done something!" Lienilde exclaimed, then quickly regretted her words. She felt her cheeks flush and she turned her gaze downward, hoping that no one would ask her to elaborate.
Her parents glanced at her but said nothing when they saw that their daughter did not wish to speak further, yet they were curious as to what she knew. Probably just rumors she heard from her patients, Mandil concluded.
Failon, however, was not so tactful. "What have they done?" he asked, wondering why she had not shared this information with him earlier that afternoon.
Lienilde tried to think of an answer that would not betray Isildur, but she could think of no other such deeds of the Faithful that she could tell instead, and she did not want to invent a tale. But they are my family, she thought. I trust them to keep quiet, so what harm would be there be in telling them? Plus they are all so sad and I want to share with them the hope that I have — not matter how small it may be. She drew in a breath and looked up.
"You must tell no one of this," Lienilde began. "If certain people hear of this, a man’s life will be in danger." Her parents looked at her in concern, suddenly worried that their daughter had aided in some secret, dangerous act. However, Lienilde’s stern warning was directed toward her brother. Failon’s eyes widened and he nodded, eager to hear what she had to say. He is young, Lienilde thought, but I know I can trust him.
"You know that I have been caring for Elendil’s son Isildur for the past several weeks. I have told you that he was ill, but in truth, he was terribly wounded–" she paused, then decided to tell the story from the beginning:
"Two months ago Amandil, Elendil’s father, received news that Sauron had plans to cut down Nimloth. He immediately shared his concerns with his son and grandsons, for many years ago Tar-Palantir had prophesied that the fate of Nimloth would be tied to that of the line of Elros.
"Isildur took it to heart that he must somehow prevent this fate. Telling no one, he managed to enter the courts of the King and steal a fruit of Nimloth. But the guard was aroused and attacked him, and he barely escaped, and received many wounds. Since he was in disguise, no one knew it was him.
"The fruit is now planted, and we pray that when it sprouts in the spring that it may bring some hope to Numenor, and that the Valar may show mercy–"
Lienilde suddenly stopped as tears appeared in her eyes. She turned away from her family, not wanting them to see her cry. This was the first time she had shared the story with anyone, and the telling of it — even this brief telling — brought back all of the emotions she had felt since she first saw the young man, lying on the blood-stained sheets.
Her family remained silent for a moment. Her parents were relieved to hear that their daughter had not participated in any such heroic act herself, though they could see that she was still deeply affected by the experience. In fact, Melde was not surprised at the story, for she had seen several changes in her daughter’s well-being and attitude ever since that first day she had treated Isildur. And now that she thought of it, she recalled Vorime saying that Isildur had been injured during the night — funny how she had forgotten and had not thought anything strange when Lienilde later said he was simply ill. She also now knew that this was the reason for the visit from the King’s Man two months ago.
Melde then walked to the other side of the table and sat on the same bench as Lienilde. She wrapped her arms around her daughter, and suddenly Lienilde quit trying to hide her tears. "I have wanted to tell you for so long," Lienilde whispered into her mother’s shoulder.
"I know," Melde replied. "But I am proud of you. You have been very strong to keep such a secret in your heart, and to care for him for so long."
As Mandil watched his wife and daughter, he marveled at the change he saw in Lienilde. He had noticed that she seemed to have grown up rather quickly as of late, but he had simply attributed it to her work as an apprentice. He recalled that his own apprenticeship had taught him much about responsibility and maturity. Yet he saw something more than that tonight. As Lienilde told her story, he had sensed many emotions in her voice: fear, yes, but also pride for Isildur, and even purpose. He realized that this event had shown her that there was much more to the world than simply her family and her apprenticeship. Mandil knew then that his daughter was no longer his little girl, but well on her way to adulthood — and he knew that she would be a woman that he could be proud of.
Lienilde: "People-loving", a twenty-six-year-old healer’s apprentice.
Vorime: "Faithful" or "Steadfast", healer and Lienilde’s master.
Ardil: "Noble Friend", Lienilde’s thirty-three-year-old brother.
Failon: "Generous, Just", Lienilde’s thirteen-year-old brother.
Melde: "Beloved", Lienilde’s mother.
Mandil: "Good Friend", Lienilde’s father.
Inzil: Adunaic for "Flower", Ardil’s wife.