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
Author’s Note: For some reason, the format of the URL’s keeps changing. Hopefully these will work!
<strong>Chapter 7: Inquisition</strong>
The next morning Lienilde found herself seated in the front room, watching the seamstresses fuss over her mother while waiting her own turn. Melde’s dress was similar to Lienilde’s, but made of a rich blue fabric. Lienilde had noticed that everyone in the family would be wearing a dark-colored outfit with golden trim for the wedding, with the exception of Ardil. Lienilde’s dress was a dark red, Failon’s clothes were deep green, and her father’s were a mahogany brown.
This morning Ardil’s betrothed, Inzil, came to watch the fittings, and thus Ardil stayed home rather than going to the smithy. Lienilde glanced over at her soon-to-be sister-in-law, her fingers loosely entwined with Ardil’s. Inzil was a petite girl, four years Lienilde’s elder, with shiny blonde hair indicative of her Hadorian heritage. Lienilde had always envied Inzil’s hair, for her own was wavy and often looked unkempt even though she tried to keep it combed. Lienilde’s family was descended from the Houses of Beor and Haleth and she had inherited the dark hair common to both houses.
Lienilde had never spent a lot of time with Inzil, and thus had never received the chance to become close friends with her. Ardil had invited Inzil over for dinner several times, but otherwise Lienilde seldom saw the girl. She knew that Inzil had never had an apprenticeship, but rather had stayed at home to help her mother with the three younger children in the house, which included a pair of particularly mischievous twin boys. Lienilde wondered how Inzil’s mother would survive without her after the wedding; the one time Lienilde had been to her house, the children had spent the entire time running in and out the house, often screaming as they played.
"Your dress is lovely," Inzil complimented Melde, pulling Lienilde from her musings. Lienilde glanced up and smiled; her mother’s dress was nearly complete and did fit her wonderfully. In fact, the seamstresses hoped to finish the entire family’s clothes by the next day, and Lienilde looked forward to the time that their front room would finally be free of activity. However, she quickly remembered, once the clothing was finished they would have to start preparing the food for the party after the wedding, and she knew that her mother would recruit her help. She suppressed a sigh, not exactly looking forward to spending three straight days in the kitchen with her mother, for she knew Melde would only become more excited and stressed as the wedding approached.
"It is beautiful," Lienilde added after a moment, and her mother beamed with the compliments she was receiving.
"Thank you, dears," Melde replied. "But enough about me; let us see your dress, Lienilde!"
With that, Melde and Lienilde retreated to their bedrooms, each with a seamstress in tow to help them dress. Lienilde was surprised to find her dress completed, and once she tried it on the seamstress agreed that it should need no more alterations. She then made her way to the front room to show Inzil and Ardil.
"Why, your dress is stunning!" Inzil exclaimed, and Lienilde could not help but blush slightly at Inzil’s enthusiastic comments. She wondered if the girl was being genuine or whether she was exaggerating, but Lienilde soon decided she did not care and enjoyed the compliments either way. "You are all going to look just lovely at the wedding!" Inzil continued.
"You are gorgeous, Little Lien," Ardil agreed, and Lienilde smiled at the use of her childhood nickname. She had been rather small for the first decade of her life, but the name had persisted (though was not used as frequently) even after she had reached normal height.
"Thank you," Lienilde replied. Before she could say more, a strong knock sounded on the door and her mother went to answer it. Lienilde was surprised to see Vorime standing there — she had actually been so caught up in the fittings that she had forgotten about her apprenticeship. Of course she had not planned on visiting Isildur until the evening, but this morning was probably the first time that she had been able to push Isildur completely from her mind.
Vorime smiled to see Lienilde standing in the center of the room, showing off her new attire. "You look lovely, my dear," the healer said, and Lienilde blushed once again, surprised to hear such comments from her normally taciturn master. "When you are finished, would you be able to come with me and visit your patient?" she continued.
"Of course," Lienilde answered, "just give me a moment to change."
It was not long before healer and apprentice were walking toward Elendil’s house. "How was Isildur the last time you saw him?" Vorime asked.
"I visited him yesterday morning. His wounds are just beginning to heal, though his fever remains. He did awake for a few moments and drink some tea."
"Very good," Vorime said. "He still has a long road to recovery, but I am glad he is showing signs of improvement."
So am I, Lienilde thought silently. Remembering yesterday’s events, she said, "Elendil and Anarion spent yesterday at the shipyards, so they may not be home right now. I had forgotten until now."
"I spoke with Amandil and he will be staying with Isildur," Vorime said. "In fact, he sat with him yesterday as well."
"I did not know that," Lienilde replied, though she was glad to hear that Isildur was not alone all day yesterday. Why did I not think of that yesterday? It had not even occurred to me that he would be alone all day! Were my emotions so strong yesterday that I couldn’t even think of such an obvious thing? These thoughts combined with how she had forgotten about Isildur that morning made Lienilde feel a little guilty. Shouldn’t I be taking better care of my patient? He is still seriously ill, after all! And what about my vow — my vow that first night I stayed with him, that I would do everything I could to help him! Can I even say that I have kept my word? Have I really done everything I could?
Before Lienilde’s thoughts could continue, they arrived at Elendil’s house. She quickly put her guilt aside, replacing it with a newfound determination. I will not let such frivolous things as the wedding distract me again! She did not stop to think that whenever she was with Isildur, she was completely focused; but for some reason, right now she felt guilty just for not thinking about him even while she was at home.
Amandil answered the door and led the women to Isildur’s room. "It is good to see you again," Amandil said to Lienilde with a slight, knowing smile. She knew that he was recalling the last time he had seen her: the day they planted the seed of Nimloth. She felt her heartbeat increase slightly at the memories of that day.
Vorime did not stay long. She changed Isildur’s bandages and agreed with Lienilde’s earlier assessment of his health. She did not say whether she had hope for Isildur’s continued improvement, but Lienilde could see that the despair evident in her eyes that first day was now gone. When Vorime was finished, she told Amandil that they should keep a pot of soup over the fire, so that the next time Isildur woke he could have some nourishment besides simply tea.
"Now I must leave to see another patient," Vorime said, then turning toward Lienilde, "I trust you can walk yourself home?"
"Of course," the apprentice answered. Vorime then departed, but Lienilde lingered for a moment.
"You seem rather preoccupied this morning," Amandil said after a short silence.
Lienilde glanced up at the old man. How could he sense what she was thinking? Was she really that obvious?
"I…" she began, then paused, not really sure how to explain her thoughts or if she even wanted to. "I guess I am not sure that I have done everything for Isildur that I could."
"Nonsense!" Amandil said with a smile, though his eyes showed that he was not merely joking. "You stayed with him day and night, and now you visit him at least once daily even though his condition does not seem to be changing. You have hardly slept for all the work you have done! Isildur is in good care; do not fault yourself for taking some time to rest."
Lienilde smiled and glanced away, reassured by his words. She had been unreasonably harsh with herself that morning, knowing that few healers would have invested the time with a patient that she had; perhaps Isildur was still taking more of a toll on her emotions than she realized. Yet she still found it difficult to find the right balance between her two conflicting thoughts: concern for Isildur, and a focus on her personal life. Sacrificing one would only hurt either her or Isildur — or both of them.
"So tell me," Amandil then asked, "how go the wedding preparations?"
Lienilde glanced up, surprised at the change in subject, especially since Amandil was normally not one for small talk. Did he perhaps realize that she did not really care to elaborate further on her feelings toward Isildur? "It is going well," she answered. "The seamstresses are just now finishing everyone’s attire, and I believe we will start preparing the food tomorrow since the wedding is now three days away. Of course the bride’s family will also be helping with the food."
"I see," Amandil said. His eyes wandered upward, above Lienilde’s head, and she wondered what was on his mind as he paused for a moment. "When I was young, weddings were different." He smiled and brought his eyes back to her face. "We still made all the same preparations, of course — sewing, cooking, gathering flowers… But the weddings themselves were different. The ceremonies were performed in the Elven tongue, and always with a long prayer to the Valar to bless the marriage. We have … we have gotten away from that in the past several decades, and I find it a shame." Amandil’s face saddened at this last thought.
"I did not realize that," Lienilde mumbled, feeling rather awkward and not knowing what else to say. She knew that Numenorean culture had abandoned many Elvish influences, but being young she was familiar only with the way things were at the present and had never stopped to mourn the changes of the isle. It had never occurred to her that there were those who knew Numenor when it was different, and still longed for the olden days.
"Well," said Amandil, "you should probably be on your way, rather than standing here listening to an old man’s musings." He knew that Lienilde had not known how to reply to his thoughts, but he did not regret his words — Lienilde was young and naïve, but he saw in her a strong heart and longed for her to learn more of the ways of the Faithful. Surely she did not fully realize the depths to which Numenor had fallen, and as the isle continued to deteriorate he did not want to see the young woman fall with it.
"Thank you," Lienilde replied. "When Elendil and Anarion return, please tell them to have some soup ready should Isildur wake again."
"Of course," Amandil said. "Oh, and there is one more thing, I had nearly forgotten." He reached into his pocket, rummaged around for a brief moment, and pulled out a bronze key. "Here is a key to the house, so that you may check on Isildur at any time. I fear he will be slow to recover, and one of us may not always be able to stay with him. Saddened as we are by his condition, we still have other businesses to attend to — secrets of the Faithful, and work in the shipyards, ere others begin to ask questions about our absence. It will soon be well known that Isildur is ill; however, you understand that the nature of his injuries cannot be made public."
"Yes, sir," Lienilde politely replied, taking the key from Amandil’s open hand. She wondered at the "secrets of the Faithful", but did not question the old man further — she knew that he was a former advisor of the King and that he was well aware of the goings-on in Armenelos, the capital city of Numenor. After all, it was his knowledge of Sauron’s intentions that had prompted Isildur to travel to Armenelos himself. Thus she simply left without another word, leaving Amandil alone with his ailing grandson and her alone with her thoughts.
Lienilde’s thoughts remained on Isildur’s actions in Armenelos as she slowly walked home. Dark clouds were slowly filling the sky, heralding an afternoon storm, but Lienilde hardly noticed. She had mulled over Isildur’s deed much in the last few days, and her thoughts today were no different than on the previous day. Whenever she thought of his deed she always felt a twinge of pride for the young man, similar to how she would feel if her brother or father had performed some equally heroic deed — but why she felt this way toward Isildur, a man she hardly knew, and had not even spoken more than a few words to, she did not know. She had often wondered why her feelings toward Isildur were so strong, and why the sound of his name or the memory of his face brought so many unbidden emotions to her heart. But as of late she had simply accepted her feelings and had ceased trying to explain them. They were, after all, just feelings, and everyone knew that the human heart was far from logical. However, she could not help but wonder if Isildur had been brought into her life for a greater purpose — or were her emotions simply a reaction to his gruesome injuries? Or perhaps I am just over thinking everything, she finally concluded, and tried to push the thoughts from her mind as she climbed the last hill to her home.
As she approached her home, she was surprised to see an unfamiliar horse standing outside the house, waiting for his master. Coming closer, she saw the emblem of the King on the horse’s saddle, and suddenly her heart nearly stopped and her feet faltered. The King’s Men! she thought. Have they learned of Isildur’s deed? Do they know I have helped him — are they here to arrest me? She stood still for a moment, hoping that the King’s Man — who must have been in her house — did not see her hesitation through the windows. She soon realized that she could not stand outside forever, and even if the King’s Man had such evil intentions for her, she knew she could not run and hide from him forever, either. She would have to enter the house and confront him. But there is still a possibility that he does not know everything, she suddenly realized, for if he did, surely there would have been men at Isildur’s house! With that thought to strengthen her heart, she slowly stepped forward and opened the door.
The scene inside would not have been frightening to anyone but her: a single man, clad in the raiment of the King’s Men, sat calmly at the kitchen table conversing with her mother. While she could not hear what they were saying, Melde did not seem fearful or even overly concerned. Failon stood quietly off to the side, fidgeting and wondering when the guest would leave.
As soon as she entered the house, the conversation died and the King’s Man rose to greet her. "Hello," he said, "I assume you are Lienilde, apprentice to the healer Vorime?"
"I am," Lienilde managed to answer, hoping her voice did not betray her fear. While she doubted that the man would be so polite if he were there to arrest her, she still had no doubt that his presence was related to Isildur’s deed.
"May I speak with you outside?" he then asked. Lienilde agreed and followed him out the door. She glanced over her shoulder at her family as she left: she could not read the expression on her mother’s face, but her brother was staring at her with a wide-eyed curiosity.
"Lienilde," the man said once they were outside. "I just have a few questions that I hope you can answer for me."
Lienilde wrapped her cloak tightly around herself, partly to keep out the cool wind, and partly to give her nervous hands something to hold on to. Her heart was beating so hard that she swore the man could see it jumping beneath her dress, if she had not hid it with the cloak. "Of course, sir," she answered, praying that she still sounded calm. However, it became clear to her that the King did not know as much as she had at first feared, and this brought her some comfort.
"During the past week, have you treated any patients with arrow wounds? Or other wounds that could have come from a weapon, such as a sword?"
"I have not," Lienilde lied, and her untruth did nothing to slow her heartbeat. She had not lied since she was a child, and even that was over something so silly she no longer remembered it, and she cringed with guilt to be telling such a blatant lie now. (Though she forgot for a moment that the way she hid Isildur’s true condition from her family could be considered a lie by some.) Yet at the same time, she knew it was the right thing: she had little doubt that Sauron would have Isildur put to death if he discovered his deed. Sauron already hated the Faithful, and the line of the Lords of Adunie in particular. He needed little excuse to arrest and execute them. "However," Lienilde went on, "my master did treat a ten-year-old boy who was shot by an arrow in a hunting accident with his brother."
The man’s face remained expressionless, and suddenly she feared that he did not believe her lie. "That is what your master said, when I spoke with her on my way to your house." Lienilde glanced up, surprised that he had managed to speak to Vorime in the short amount of time that had passed since Vorime had left Isildur’s home — Lienilde must have taken more time than she realized lingering with Amandil and walking home. She was suddenly very thankful that the King’s Man had not found her master at Isildur’s home, for the timing was certainly close. The man then continued, "We are trying to catch a fugitive from Armenelos, who was wounded by arrow and sword ere he escaped. If you see such a man, inform one of the King’s Men as soon as you can. Do not try to speak to him, for he is very dangerous: he seriously wounded one of the King’s guards during his escape, and it is not certain that the guard will survive the attack."
Lienilde’s heart jumped again — if that was even possible considering how fast it was already beating — when the man said that Isildur had nearly killed a guard. She did not doubt that it was for his own protection, but it still shocked her to hear that the man she admired so much had nearly murdered another — and may yet still, if the man dies. "Of course," she answered.
"I will not keep you any more, then," he said, still oblivious to Lienilde’s nervousness. "Thank you for your time."
"You are welcome, sir," she replied, as the man turned and climbed up on his horse. He rode away without another word.
Lienilde stood outside for a moment, letting her heartbeat slow in the cold, quiet air. She prayed that the man had not seen her fear — for if he had, he certainly had not reacted to it. She finally decided that regardless of what he knew or had guessed, there was nothing more she could do about it now, so she returned to the house.
Melde and Failon were still in the kitchen, quietly chatting while they waited for Lienilde and the King’s Man to return. As soon as Failon could see that his sister had returned alone without the man, he ran up to her and asked, "What did he want?"
"Nothing that I could help him with," Lienilde said, a smile finally coming over her lips as she saw Failon’s excitement. She was thankful now that she had not told her family about Isildur, for they had no reason to share her fear today, and she did not need to worry about them unintentionally sharing her secret. "It seems that he is hunting an injured fugitive from Armenelos."
"And he thinks this fugitive traveled all the way to Romenna?" Melde asked.
"I suppose," she answered. "He did not rightly say: he only asked me if I had treated any men with an arrow wound. Which I had not," she quickly added.
"I see," Melde said. After a short pause, she turned and walked toward the pantry, saying, "In that case, I was just about to start baking the bread for the wedding celebration before he arrived. Please, come help!"
Despite her lingering fear from the inquisition and her earlier reluctance to cook, Lienilde could not help but smile at her mother’s enthusiasm. With a smile on her own face, she quickly walked toward the kitchen and began measuring flour per her mother’s instruction. She spent the rest of the day with her mother and Failon in the kitchen, and as she expected it was rather hectic as her mother fired off instructions to her children, but also a joyful time to spend with some of her family. Yet the fear of the visit from the King’s Man never fully left her mind.
I could not find any information about weddings in Numenor, so if this chapter or the next conflicts with any of Tolkien’s writings I apologize! However, I do think it is at least possible that the ceremonies were originally performed in an Elvish language. And while Tolkien never gave Amandil’s birth date, some Internet sources estimate his birth date to be about one hundred years before the King forbid the use of Elvish languages. So I thought it was possible that either Amandil himself, or at least his parents, were married in a more Elvish-influenced ceremony!
Lienilde: "People-loving", a twenty-five-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 twelve-year-old brother.
Melde: "Beloved", Lienilde’s mother.
Mandil: "Good Friend", Lienilde’s father.
Inzil: Adunaic for "Flower", Ardil’s betrothed.