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
Chapter 11: www.theonering.com/articles1-20202/FlowersofNimlothChapter11
<strong>Chapter 12: A Visitor</strong>
The next morning, Lienilde awoke to yet another dark day under the smoke of Nimloth. She knew that her fever was not better and that she would spend that day and likely the next several days confined to the house. Yet the thought did not sadden her as much as it did the previous day. Ever since she had told her family of Isildur it felt as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She had not realized how much she had longed to tell someone until last night.
The day began slowly for Lienilde. Her mother brought her breakfast in bed, and later she made her way to the front room sit by the warm fireplace. Noontime found her still seated by the fire, with a warm blanket on her lap and a book in her hand. It was nearing the middle of winter and judging by how cold the house was, Lienilde guessed it was the coldest day yet that year. She tried to ignore the chill and focus on the healers’ manual she was reading. The current chapter was a discussion on rashes and boils, complete with detailed illustrations, and not for the first time Lienilde began to wish she had a different book to read. Her mother would not allow her to do much else besides read and sleep, and there were few books in the house.
Thus when a knock sounded on the front door that morning, Melde rushed from the kitchen to answer it, instructing Lienilde to stay in her seat. When Melde opened the door, Lienilde was surprised to see a familiar face in the doorway.
Anarion removed his hood and glanced at Lienilde, then turned to address her mother: "Hello, I do not believe we have met. I am Anarion, son of Elendil."
"Welcome. I am Melde, daughter of Veryandil. Lienilde tells me that she has been treating your brother; is everything well?"
Anarion’s eyebrows raised slightly in surprise as he glanced at Lienilde, clearly curious as to what she had told her family. Lienilde simply gave him a weak smile.
"Everything is fine," Anarion answered. "I have simply come to call on Lienilde and see if she is well, if I may."
"Of course," Melde replied, then returned to the kitchen, though Lienilde did not doubt that her mother would be listening to their conversation. Fortunately Failon was running an errand for Melde in the marketplace, so Lienilde only had one meddlesome family member to worry about at the moment.
Anarion took a seat beside Lienilde. "Vorime told us you were ill," Anarion began, "so I wanted to see how you were faring."
"I am fine; it is nothing more than a winter flu. I am sure I will be working again in just a few days. But thank you for stopping by."
"Do not mention it. Besides, this is a warm relief from the cold shipyards," he added with a smile.
"Indeed it would be," Lienilde answered, and then they both fell silent as the unspoken question hung in the air. Finally, Lienilde answered it: "I told my family about Isildur," she said, lowering her voice though she was not sure why; there was no one in the house to hide the conversation from. "I had previously told them only that he was ill and that Vorime had asked me to check on him daily, but last night I — well, I told them everything. Everyone was so sad, and I just wanted to share a little hope. I do hope that Amandil will not be upset–"
"Do not worry," Anarion interrupted her, briefly resting a hand on her knee. "If you trust your family, then my grandfather will also."
"Thank you," Lienilde said with a smile, which Anarion soon returned.
After another brief moment of silence — this one much more comfortable than the first — Anarion spoke again: "Isildur asked about you today. Your visits seem to do him good — even on the days that we spend in the shipyards and do not see him awake, you are always there."
Lienilde’s cheeks warmed slightly at the compliment. "I — I am just doing my job," she replied, though neither believed her. Lienilde thought back to the last time she had seen Isildur, two days prior, when they had confided their fears to each other. She did not yet want to admit to Anarion that she looked forward to her visits with Isildur, for she wanted to keep her appearance as a professional healer. Yet she also knew that she was much more than simply a healer to Anarion and his family — she was a friend. Were there any reasons to maintain such appearances?
Anarion saw Lienilde’s face flush and he hid a smile. Anarion had arrived home not long after Lienilde’s last visit, and Isildur had awakened again and was in rather a contemplative mood. His brother had admitted that Lienilde had told him of the smoke and the completion of Sauron’s temple but said no more. Anarion had wondered what had transpired between the healer and her patient that night. He recalled Lienilde’s earlier visits, and how she always seemed so eager to treat Isildur. And even though Isildur seldom spoke of her — indeed, he rarely even spoke to her, from what Anarion had seen — he always seemed to be in better spirits after her visits. Anarion could see that some sort of bond, perhaps only a weak one but a bond nonetheless, was growing between his brother and the young healer, and now Anarion realized that Lienilde sensed the same thing.
Yet Anarion was polite enough to discontinue the conversation, and so he stood and said, "I suppose I should be leaving then, and leave you to your rest–"
Just then the door burst open and Failon entered, carrying a rather large bag of flour, which he immediately dropped on the floor. He then closed the door and leaned against it to catch his breath, when he suddenly noticed Lienilde’s visitor. "Hello there," he panted.
Anarion smiled, obviously amused that Failon was so exhausted, for the bag of flour should not have been that heavy for a boy his age. Failon had never been the strongest child in the neighborhood, though. "Hello, I am Anarion, son of Elendil. And you must be Failon — Lienilde has mentioned you." Anarion motioned toward the seat he had just left and continued, "Please, come here and warm yourself by the fire; the wind is rather chill today."
A sudden recognition flashed on Failon’s face as walked toward the fire. Anarion once again raised his eyebrows and looked at Lienilde; apparently when she said she had told "her family" Anarion did not think that included the young boy. Lienilde smiled to confirm his suspicions then glanced away, suddenly feeling slightly embarrassed that she had told her whole family.
Melde then entered the room to carry the flour to the kitchen. "Anarion, would you care to stay for lunch? It will be ready in just a moment, and there is plenty for an extra plate."
Anarion could not refuse such an offer; Melde had a way of inviting guests so that they never turned down a meal. Mandil soon arrived home from the smithy, though Ardil had elected to eat lunch with his wife that day. Lienilde was almost relieved, since her elder brother was the only one who did not know of Isildur.
Yet the conversation at lunch never turned to Isildur; rather, it was the polite talk typical of any meal in which a guest was invited. Anarion and Mandil dominated the conversation, each telling the other about the crafts of their trade. Lienilde could see that Failon wanted to ask Anarion about Isildur — likely he wanted to hear some exciting tale of how Isildur fought off the guard — but a stern glance from Melde kept him silent.
After the meal Anarion was finally able to retreat to the shipyards and Mandil returned to the smithy, while Melde turned to baking bread in the kitchen. This left Lienilde alone with her eager chess-playing brother, and thus she passed the day playing games with Failon, though the smoke of Nimloth was ever present to darken their mood whenever they found themselves beginning to enjoy the game.
Lienilde’s life settled into a routine for the next few days as she slowly recovered from her illness. She spent her time sleeping, reading, and playing chess with Failon. She even managed to win one game — Failon was not perfect, after all, and occasionally lost to a determined opponent. Though Ardil occasionally came over to share a meal, often accompanied by his wife, the family elected not tell Ardil about Isildur because Inzil and her family were less sympathetic towards the Faithful.
Vorime did stop by a few times to check on Lienilde, though she received no other visitors. Lienilde often wondered how Isildur was doing — she doubted his physical condition had changed much since he seemed abnormally slow to heal, but she was still concerned about his heart and whether he was still agonizing over the fate of Nimloth. She wondered if he had ever opened up to his family about his fears as he did to her — when Anarion visited he had said nothing about it. But such questions she could not ask Vorime, so she was forced to wait until she could see him herself.
Finally, on the eighth day after the smoke of Nimloth first appeared, Lienilde awoke to a bright sunrise. The light nearly hurt her eyes, for she had become so accustomed to dark during the previous week, but her heart still soared to see a blue sky. Leaning out of her window to get a better view of the island, she could still see the dark smoke in the distance, as the wind swept it across the island toward the western sea. As an added joy, her fever had finally left her, though she was not that surprised for she had begun to feel better the previous day.
Thus, her mood was rather elevated as she returned to her healer’s duties that day. There were surprisingly few patients to attend to, and it was not long before she found herself at Isildur’s doorstep. The sun had not yet set, so Lienilde was not surprised to find that Elendil and Anarion were not at home. She was pleased; she had hoped to find Isildur alone so she could talk to him again.
Isildur was asleep when she entered the room, though the touch of her hand as she checked his fever soon woke him. He seldom slept through her visits as of late, which was certainly an improvement over his earlier condition, but his wounds were still incredibly slow to heal and pained him too much for him to leave his bed.
Lienilde smiled as her patient opened his eyes, and soon he returned the smile. "I am glad to see you are well," he said, his voice still scratchy with sleep.
"And I am glad to return to my duties." And to you, she almost added, but thought better of it. "Have you seen that the sun has returned?"
"Yes, I noticed this morning. It was a welcome sight." His voice was low and soft, and Lienilde could see that he was rather tired, yet he began to prop himself up on the pillows as if he wanted to sit up.
"You needn’t move," Lienilde scolded him. "Stay there, and drink this," she added as she handed him some herbal tea.
Isildur had sat up enough that he could sip the tea without her assistance, so Lienilde moved on to examining his wounds while he drank. After a moment Isildur asked, with a slight smile on his face, "Has anyone ever told you that this tea tastes terrible?"
Lienilde smiled herself; she had drunk much of that same tea the previous few days. "Yes, but it is good for a fever," she replied, her eyes not leaving the bandages she was attending.
"Lienilde," Isildur then said, his face taking on a more serious expression. "We have spent much time together over the past two months or so, yet we hardly know each other. Tell me about yourself; I am not much in the mood to talk today."
Lienilde glanced up, surprised. She had thought much the same thing lately, but had never found the courage to start such a conversation. She was pleased to know that Isildur was interested in her life — though she perhaps should not have been startled after the thoughtfulness he had shown her on her last visit.
Yet no matter how happy she was, Lienilde was not sure what to tell him. "What do you want to know?" she asked. How am I supposed to respond to "tell me about yourself," anyway?
"Well, to begin," Isildur replied, "How long have you been a healer? Why did you choose such a trade?"
"I began my apprenticeship nearly a year ago," she answered as she continued to change one of his bandages. The bandages did not need to be changed near as often, but the wounds still persisted. "As for why…" she paused as she recalled the event from her childhood: "When we were young, my older brother Ardil fell ill with a terrible fever. Vorime came to our house several times each day, administering herbs and monitoring him closely, until he was finally well. I never forgot the care she showed him, for her diligence likely saved his life. When I came of age and my mother wanted me to begin an apprenticeship, I knew that I wanted to help people and give them hope, just as Vorime had given hope to my brother and family."
Lienilde finished wrapping the bandages then glanced up at Isildur. He sat with his eyes closed, the cup of tea empty in his hand. But when he noticed the pause in the conversation, he opened his eyes and said, "That is the best motivation, to help others. I — I am glad you made the choice that you did."
Lienilde felt her face warm at the compliment, though it was occasions like this that made her wish that she did not flush so easily. "Thank you," she said, taking the empty cup from his hand. "I am finished here, and I can see you are tired. Rest, and I will see you again tomorrow."
She helped him lay back down in the bed, and as she left the room, she heard him say softly, "Goodnight, Lienilde, lover of people."
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.
Veryandil: "Bold friend."