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Enter the Ranger  by Larner

The King’s Gift of Healing

            “Look at it!” shouted Orominion, furious.  “It’s shrunk!  No one could wear it now!”

            There was no question that Orominion’s cloak was now several sizes too small to fit him. 

            “Who washed it in hot water?” he continued, pointing at it accusingly.  “This should not have happened!”

            As Ivorwen was escorted to the barn by Malvegern and Sedras, they could easily see and hear the anger in Orominion’s voice.

            “I hope,” Sedras said quietly, “that no one will admit to having been the one who used hot water on his cloak.  I doubt he could easily humble himself one more time today to forgive whoever was to blame.”

            “I believe that you are correct,” Malvegern responded.  “Although I suspect he might well be the author of his own misfortune.  The rest of his clothing was taken early to the wash house, and those assigned to the washing detail spent part of yesterday afternoon and early evening sorting the clothing as to whether it should be boiled or merely scrubbed in cold water.  If he went into the place after his visit to the swampy ground near the lake, he may well have simply tossed it onto the wrong pile or tub.”

            Sedras gave a soft laugh.  “In which case he would again be forced to admit his own guilt.  Not an easy thing for him to do.”

            Inside the barn they found Peredhrion sitting atop a disused churn, his right foot heavily wrapped in bandages, a long staff held to his shoulder.  He was looking at his foot thoughtfully and with signs of distaste while Halbarad finished adding another layer of protection about it.

            “There,” Halbarad declared, handing the rest of his materials to Berevrion, who carried them away.  “That should allow you to walk and yet protect your foot.”  He glanced up to see who had entered and smiled.  “Daernaneth, have you come to have your shoulder seen to?”

            Peredhrion rose to his feet, leaning upon the staff, his face uncertain.  “You are hurt, Lady?” he asked.

            “I had a fall from my horse today.  She was startled by a lightning strike and bolted away, throwing me upon my shoulder.  We are concerned that it might be broken.”

            He moved awkwardly to stand behind the churn.  “Come and sit, and I will examine it for you.”

            As she sat she asked, “Then it was Lord Elrond who taught you the arts of a healer?”

            He nodded, setting his hands upon her shoulders, then moving them both to the one that had been injured.  “Please advise me if what I do causes pain, Lady.  Yes, I was taught by Master Elrond himself as well as by his sons and those who serve as healers within his house.”  He began by first untying the shawl that was being used as a sling, then removing the bandaging that had been wound about the injury, and handed each to Halbarad.  “They did well to immobilize it for the time.  Now, let me feel it.”

            He went quiet, and his eyes closed as he considered what he felt beneath his fingers.  At last his eyes opened, and he came around her to look down into her face as he leaned forward to feel the injury from this side.  “Can you move your fingers?  Your hand?  Can you bend your elbow at all?  Does it hurt if I press here?”

            The gasp of pain she gave answered that question without the need for further speech.

            He nodded.  “I do not believe that the shoulder is broken, but it is not fully within its socket.  It will hurt to put it back where it belongs, but far less than to leave it as it is.  Are you willing to allow me to put things right, my Lady?”

            “Oh, yes, please,” she whispered through gritted teeth.

            He again nodded.  “I will do so, then.  Halbarad, kneel here and hold her thus.  No, with your left hand here, and your right supporting her there.  And, if you—I am sorry, for I do not know your name.”

            “I am Sedras, the younger of her two sons.”

            Peredhrion paused, searching the Man’s face momentarily.  “I see.  Please forgive me for not being aware….” he began.

            Sedras smiled reassuringly.  “I am certain that when your patrol is over and you have returned to my brother’s hold we shall come to know one another much better.”

            “Well,” the younger Man said, “if you will stand here and support your mother so….”

            He made as if to kneel facing Ivorwen, but found that the bindings about his foot, ankle, and lower leg made it impractical, so he at last withdrew behind her once more, once again placing a hand on each shoulder.  “Hearken to my voice,” he said in a soft, low yet compelling voice.  “Close your eyes and hearken to my voice.  Listen, and be at peace.”

            He leaned down somewhat and spoke in softer tones obviously meant for the Lady Ivorwen alone.  She appeared surprised at first, but relaxed at the gentle pressure on her shoulders.  He continued to speak, and her eyes did close, and her face softened, eventually showing a small smile as if of quiet pleasure.  It was almost as if she had fallen asleep sitting up upon the churn, completely secure in her knowledge that she was safe. 

            At last he went quiet, and appeared to be centering himself.

            A few of the trainees paused in the doorway to the barn, realizing something important was happening and unwilling to break the concentration of either Peredhrion or the Steward’s mother.  Others looked down as they could from the loft, all equally quiet and expectant.

            When Peredhrion began to sing it was still in low tones.  Sedras recognized the tune—it was an invocation for healing offered in Sindarin, calling upon certain of the Powers to look down on the one who suffered and to offer her easing and healing.  As he sang, Peredhrion’s one hand slid slowly down her shoulder to the upper arm, and the other now lay upon the shoulder near the socket.  The invocation drew to a close, and the young Man took a deep breath and felt deeply----

            Then there was a firm twist—and it was over!  Ivorwen’s eyes opened part way, and her lips formed an O as if of surprise, but that was swiftly followed by another smile, one this time of relief.

            Now Peredhrion was massaging the injured joint, once again speaking in a quiet voice intended only for Ivorwen, his tone reassuring, authoritative.  He had done what was needful, after all.  Sedras heard what appeared to be whispered words of thanksgiving, then a few more quiet words to the lady before he indicated that Halbarad should hand him the shawl once more.  He folded it expertly to the shape proper to a sling and soon had it fastened about her to support the arm so as to relieve the pressure on the shoulder.  He then stood once more behind her, his hands again resting one on each shoulder, and at last he went silent. 

            Slowly Ivorwen opened her eyes, which had gone closed again as he’d massaged the injured joint, and she sat up straight, her eyes somewhat confused as if she were still within the spell of an interesting dream.  At last she rose, and he let his hands slide away, his left falling to his side and his right taking hold of the staff, bracing himself somewhat with it.  She turned to face him, searching his face.  At last she said quietly, “I see that indeed Lord Elrond and his sons and people have taught you well.  I do not know any healers among our people who could have done as well and gently as you have done.  I thank you, and as my son has said, I look forward to the day when your patrol is over and we might come to know one another better.”

            Is he flushing? Sedras wondered, suppressing a laugh at the thought.  Indeed, he displays this portion of the King’s Gifts.  It would appear that he will prove a proper Chieftain for us.

            “M-Master Elrond sought to impress upon me that as I have apparently a gift for healing that it must be properly trained and used.  I rejoice that it has eased you, and pray that the injury will heal swiftly and properly,” Peredhrion answered her, bowing his head respectfully.  “It should remain supported by a sling for at least two days, after which it should much recovered.  If there are any other bruises that need tending?”

            But she shook her head.  “Mistress Andradë has already anointed them with arnica, and the scrapes have been cleansed and properly bound.  This only needed a true healer’s touch.  I suspect that your skills will be well sought after once your patrol is over.”

            Now there was no question he was flushing.  Sedras and Ivorwen both smiled at him, bowing their heads in return before turning away to make their way back to the farmhouse.  Both were well pleased with what they had seen of the young Man’s skills.

            As they approached the barn door, Sedras could hear Malvegern saying, “That was well done.  As Rangers of Eriador, it is our duty to each use whatever skills and talents we have for the good of all we meet who are of good will, and you have done this admirably.  Now, Peredhrion, it is time that you should return to your cot.  Túrin and Berevrion will see to the prisoners for the rest of the night.”         

            “He will fulfill his destiny,” whispered Ivorwen.  “He will restore both Arnor and Gondor!”

            “Nasië,” he replied equally quietly.  “May it be so.”

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