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At Tharbad's Greenway Spring Faire  by Dreamflower

B2MeM Challenge: This prompt by: Are the Rangers ever seen in the Shire? If so what do the Hobbits make of them? Do the Rangers ever openly help the Hobbits or have the Hobbits ever helped a sick or injured Ranger?

Format: format:multi-chapter

Genre: genre:adventure, genre:gapfiller
Rating: PG-13   
Warnings: Violence and one passing mention of cannibalism among orcs
Characters: Ranger OMC, various hobbits, Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took
Pairings: Bandobras/OFC
Creators' Notes (optional): This draws somewhat on my account of the Battle of Greenfields as recounted by Berilac Brandybuck in Chapter 15 of "In the Court of the High King"
Summary: Wounded and in peril of his life, a Ranger of the North carries a dire warning to the Shire: invasion!

The Invasion

Part 4

Jago Longhole looked at the Man, and then drew in a deep breath and turned to the hobbit at his side. "Gabby, go find Mistress Beryl. Tell her the patient is one of the Big Folk, and make whatever arrangements she tells you may be necessary to care for him. Find some strong, likely lads--we'll probably need six to eight hobbits to carry him into the smial. Then send someone over to the Post Office and tell the Postmaster we will need his fastest Quick Post Rider for a journey to Tuckborough. Tell him it is an emergency." Then he raised his voice to the crowd: "If you've no good reason to be here, then go on about your business."

Gabby nodded briskly and went in search of the Healer, who also happened to be the Mr. Jago's sister, Beryl. Gabby wasn't sure he believed in goblins, but the Squire clearly took the threat seriously, so he would too. Fortunately word had already reached Mistress Beryl through the gossip of the crowd, now dispersing. As he went into the smial he found her already headed in his direction, trailed by her apprentices, Myrtle Greenhand and Miss Diamanté, the Master's daughter. "Mr. Jago's asking for you..." He said.

The Healer nodded. "I heard there is an injured Big Person." She did not pause, but continued to bustle along briskly to the main door.

Gabby was used to her in an emergency, and matched her stride for stride. "Yes, Mistress Beryl." He glanced behind him at the apprentices. "Miss Myrtle's da came along with him."

"My da?"

"Aye, Miss Myrtle."

Myrtle started to speed up, but Mistress Beryl spoke up. "Remember your place, Myrtle."

"Aye, Mistress," she replied meekly, slowing down again.

As they went back outside, the Healers went over to where Jago stood by Hob Greenhand and the stranger still were. The Man was still sitting upon the ground, his big horse standing guard over him.

-oo000oo-

As Gabby went on his assigned tasks, Jago had gone over to where Hob and the Ranger were. Hob was leaning over his guest with a worried expression. Hirluin's eyes were glassy, and there was a faint sheen of sweat on his face. His breathing was shallow.

Hob looked up. "Mr. Longhole, sir, he needs some help."

"I've already sent for the Healers, Farmer Greenhand. They should be here very soon. What can you tell me about his warning? Clearly, you believe it, or you wouldn't have come with him."

"Well, sir, considering he nigh killed hisself getting to the Shire, I think he deserves to be listened to. I don't think it's madness, nor no fever dream. If he says goblins are a-coming, then I'm sure as sure can be he's telling us true."

"I'm inclined to agree with you, Farmer Greenhand. I've always found you a shrewd judge of character. Did he give you any details?

"He said they was coming in from the north. He come ahead of them as fast as he could; washed up this side o' the Brandywine right in my turnip field. If they was directly behind him, that's about where they'd come in, or mayhap a few miles to the East or West o' there. He also said there was about a hundred, evil brutes, big and cruel."

"Very well. If it comes to nothing some folks might be fussed, but if it's true, they'll be far more than fussed--they could be dead! Better safe than sorry!"

"That's what I say," replied the farmer, "but Shirriff Headstrong, he didn't want to bother folks!"

Jago snorted. His opinion of Rob Headstrong was not high, but the shirriffs were appointed by the Mayor; he had no say in that. Just then he smiled to see to his sister and her apprentices approach. Beryl gave only a brief nod of acknowledgement to as she went straight to the patient. Even kneeling as he was, the Man was still taller than she was standing. She drew her amber pendant over her head, and held it before the Man.

Jago often found his sister's use of her pendulum to be fascinating but mysterious, but even to Jago's untrained eye, the pendent was swinging erratically which he knew was not a good sign.

She put the pendulum back on, and felt the pulse at his neck. He blinked and looked at her blearily.

"M-must...warn..." he could barely whisper the words.

"Shush, lad," Beryl responded comfortingly. "Let me check you over." There were spots of blood on his shirt, and she lifted it. The bandage beneath was beginning to seep, to all appearances, not for the first time. "I want to examine his injury more closely, but I can't do that here."

-oo000oo-

Gabby watched as the three Healers went over to where the injured Man was, and then went to his other task; he'd soon commandeered three stable hands, two of the undercooks, and two of the gardeners, and a visiting blacksmith. He sent the youngest of the stablehands off with the message for the Postmaster. "Bring the Quick Post messenger back with you, as the Master will have a letter for him."

The tween nodded. "Yes, Mr. Gabo." He turned and raced off in the direction of the village.

He turned to the others he had recruited. "Go over to the healers, and do whatever Mistress Beryl needs of you to help her with the patient."

The hobbits looked over in the direction he had pointed. One of the undergardeners looked doubtful. "That Man? I don't see how we'll be able to handle one of them Big Folk."

Gabby turned a stern look upon him. "You do what you're told. That Man has ridden long and hard even though he's wounded and sick, to warn us of danger. He deserves to be taken care of. He's a guest of the Master now!"

The undergardener looked abashed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Gabo, sir."

"Now off with you! Mistress Beryl needs help."

He watched the hobbits go to join the healers, and then turned and went into the smial. He had been Jago Longhole's assistant since he'd come of age and his cousin had asked for his help. Gabo Banks had taken great pride over the years in anticipating Jago's needs. First he'd see to a guest room for Farmer Greenhand. Then he'd ready Jago's study so that he could write his message to the Thain, and make any other preparations necessary in case the Man's warning was true. Gabby very much feared it was.

-oo000oo-

Mistress Beryl was pleased to see strong arms and backs approaching, although she was still concerned about how they could take him inside. Even with all this help, carrying him would be awkward at best, and could even harm the patient if he should be dropped. He was clearly too weak to walk so far. She voiced her concerns aloud.

Farmer Greenhand twisted his hat in his hands, and told her of the solution they had used on the farm.

The healer shook her head. "I don't think so. We could not get him into the smial on a horse, and I would prefer not to treat him in the barn!"

One of the cooks spoke up. "Mistress Beryl, would that long work table on wheels they use in the main kitchen work?"

"Could you lift him up that high?"

"We oughtn't need to, Mistress; we could take the pegs out of the tabletop and lift it down aside of him. I'm thinking it would be a mite easier to move him back up on top of it, and put the pegs back in."

"That sounds like an excellent idea, Rook! Thank you for thinking of it. Can you see to borrowing it for us?"

"Yes'm, Mistress Beryl." He turned to the other undercook. "Mat, come with me. It'll take two of us to steer that big table."

Mat nodded, and the two cooks went off to fetch the table. Beryl turned to her apprentices. "Dia, go fetch some blankets. We'll need several to cover the table and make our patient comfortable."

"Yes, Mistress," and she too, hurried off. Beryl watched her with pride; she doubted that her niece would become a full-fledged healer. Diamanté was, after all, Jago's only child and heir. But she was working hard, and had no problems in learning the proper attitude of an apprentice. The skills she was learning in handling people would be useful in running Northcleft on her own or with a future husband, and any healer training would always be handy in an emergency.

She turned to Myrtle. The apprentice was quietly waiting for her orders, though Beryl could read the signs; the lass desperately wished for a word from her father. Farmer Greenhand looked far more impatient than his daughter, wringing his hat in his hands and casting glances at her. "Myrtle, you may have a moment to speak with your father, and then you must go to the stillroom. I will need you to prepare some birch bark tea, and add a teaspoonful of the goldenseal infusion we just prepared. Check our stores of boneset and comfrey. See if we have any comfrey salve left. If not we shall need to make some up."

"Yes, Mistress Beryl." Myrtle took a deep breath and looked at her father; Hob came over, and the two exchanged a few short words--just enough to insure one another of each other's well-being, Beryl assumed. There was a look of relief on Myrtle's face, and then she too, hurried off.

Then Beryl looked at her brother. Jago had been calmly waiting as she made her assessment. Now she turned to him to answer any questions he was bound to have about this stranger suddenly thrust upon his hospitality, and to get answers of her own.

"Will he be all right, Beryl?"

"He seems likely to live. A lot will depend on his injury; but it's not a new wound, and it hasn't killed him yet. There are some signs of infection, however, and we must hope that the injury is not badly septic. His main problem aside from the wound seems to be exhaustion, blood loss, and he's badly parched and been eating poorly for several days. He should not have been riding at all, much less travelling so far and in such haste."

Farmer Greenhand had stayed by them after Myrtle left to do her duties. He spoke up diffidently. "We gave him water and some broth; we was afraid to try and feed him up too much. But he seemed to be doing better when we set out; he said he had to come to convince folks of the danger, when the Shirriff didn't take him seriouslike."

"Fear not, Mr. Greenhand," said Jago. "I do take his message seriously. As soon as I can I will send a message to Tuckborough to the Thain. And I'll begin gathering up the local muster so we will be ready when we hear back from Thain Ferumbras."

The farmer heaved a sigh of relief.

Just then the two cooks came back, wheeling along the path a long butcher-block worktable on wheels. It was close to seven feet long and It rolled smoothly enough along the flagstone path, and they brought it out to the drive where the group stood. At the same time, Diamante came hurrying back, her arms filled with blankets, and behind her a couple of maidservants similarly burdened trotted along.

Rook and Mat used a wooden mallet to remove the pegs that held the wooden tabletop, and then with the help of the stablehands they were able to lift it off and lower it to the ground. Diamante needed no orders, but with the help of the maidservants she began to quickly arrange a comfortable pallet upon it.

Beryl stood over the Man, Hirluin, the farmer had said his name was. He had been resting with his head on his knees. She roused him, for he had fallen asleep, poor fellow, and urged him to move enough to sit upon the pallet and then lie down.

She gave a start, and one of the maidservants squeaked when the big horse took a step closer, and pawed a hoof as they began to lay hands upon his master. This roused Hirluin more than aught else had done. The horse lowered his head, and nuzzled at the Man's face. He reached a hand up weakly to pat it on the nose. "Peace, Belan," he murmured, and then said something softly in an unfamiliar language. "Can someone see to my brave fellow?" he asked. "He's worked so hard..."

One of the stablehands, who'd been looking with admiration at the huge animal, offered to take him and see him watered, fed and groomed.

"I'll help," said Farmer Greenhand. "This is a good horse." He followed the stablehand as Belan was led away, watched by the anxious eyes of his master for a moment.

It took both remaining stablehands, both cooks and gardeners, the blacksmith and Jago himself to lift the tabletop now that Hirluin was lying atop it. Beryl held her breath, fearing that if they could not keep it steady it might tilt and drop her large patient upon the hard ground. But in spite of much grunting and groaning, the hobbits managed to place it smoothly upon the frame once more, and the two cooks replaced the pegs that held it in place.

Beryl heaved a sigh of relief. "To the infirmary," she said. The sooner she had her patient where she could begin treating him, the better.

Jago followed the little group into Northcleft, and then went on to his study. He had a letter to write to the Thain.


   





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