Standard Bearer, The
9. A Very Bad Horse
She was awoken the next morning by a gentle voice at the entrance to her tent, and groggily opened the flap to see a page holding a steaming basin.
“Luinil instructed me to bring this to you.” He carried it in gingerly.
Gildinwen touched a finger to the warmth – it was heavenly. “Please thank him.”
“Generally we’re quite short of water,” he grinned, “so don’t be expecting this every day.”
She smiled back, “I won’t, and thank you.”
“You’re welcome, my lady,” he called over his shoulder as he ducked out.
Looking around the tent she found some soap and towels, as well as a clean set of clothes. After a thorough wash, and dressing in the fresh clothing, she felt completely renewed. There was not enough water to wash her hair, so she settled for combing and braiding it. Her new clothes were in the livery of Gil-galad’s house, such as she had seen many Elves wearing the day before. The neatly-fitting trousers were somewhat long, but the thigh length tunic and sleeveless mantle fitted well.
Stepping outside the tent she made her way uncertainly up to the concourse where she had been the previous evening. Gil-galad and his council were already poring over their papers. At the outskirts she hesitated, then with a deep breath walked forward.
“Good morning my lords,” she bowed.
“Ah! The Lady Gildinwen,” replied the Elf-Lord. He held up a paper, “Do you have the tongue of the Dunlending?”
“Yes, my lord, both speech and writing.”
“Excellent!” He motioned her over and gave her the letter, “Translate that for me, and make two copies.”
“Yes, my lord.” It looked like all those hours spent poring over her father’s old books were going to come in useful.
She retired to the far end of the table, gathering the materials she would need. A page placed a plate of bread and fruit beside her, along with a cup of spring water.
The day passed thus, Gildinwen quietly copying and translating many letters and reports, while the tide of Men and Elves ebbed and flowed around Lord Gil-galad. When it came to the late afternoon, and she had finished the last one, she dared to ask if she might be excused for an hour or two.
“I had two friends with me yesterday who were gravely injured, I promised that I would call to see them.”
Gil-galad nodded and waved her away, “Luinil will fetch you, if I have need.”
The hospital tents for the Men were set up between the two camps. They were spacious, with the sides rolled up to admit light and air, but many cots crowded the floor. In every one lay a human, each with his own injury, his own pain.
As she walked among them searching for her friends, Gildinwen heard many call to her.
“The Lady of Amarnon.”
Awkwardly she touched the hands of those that reached out to her, smiling to give them what comfort she could.
“Gil!” Tom’s voice reached her from the next row, and she stepped to his side with relief. He looked suddenly embarrassed, “I mean, my Lady.”
She smiled broadly, “Tom! You’re looking well.” And he was. “So, have you changed your mind about the Elves?”
He blushed and nodded.
“He’s asleep now,” Tom pointed to a bed nearby, “But he’s regained his senses.”
“The Elf that has been caring for him says he’ll make it, but it will take a little time.”
“And what have the healers been saying about your injuries?”
He grinned, “I’m made of strong stuff, the sword cut is closing already.” The grin faded a little, “the leg will be longer though, it is broken in two places.”
“You’re lucky there are Elves here, a human surgeon would have taken it off.”
He looked solemn, “I know, and I’ll never be mislead by others’ stories again, not without seeing for myself and making up my own mind.”
A disturbance outside the tent drew their attention.
A stout fellow lying on a stretcher, the front of his tunic stained with blood, was yelling. “Get away from me! Don’t touch me!”
An Elven healer holding a jar of ointment was trying to attend to him. “Your wound needs to be seen to.”
“I’ll have no stinking Elvish potions.”
“I am trying to help you!” the healer was a young Elf, her beauty dark and ethereal.
The soldier flailed his arms blindly, fear and pain clouding his vision, knocking the jar to the ground. “Leave me alone!” he cried.
“Excuse me a minute, Tom.” Gildinwen hurried over to the healer, whose face was taut with exasperation.
“Pardon me,” she asked diffidently, “Maybe I can help.”
The healer’s face was sceptical but she held out a palm towards the hysterical patient, “Please.”
Gildinwen knelt at his side and took hold of his shoulders. “Soldier!” she shook him. “Look at me!”
He quietened a little.
“Do you know who I am?” her voice was commanding.
He made an effort to focus on her, then nodded, “The Lady Amarnon.”
“Good,” she spoke more softly, “Now do you trust me?”
“Yes, my lady.”
She picked up the jar of ointment and examined it, putting a little to the tip of her tongue, then she smiled. “This is an unguent of meadow-wort, and flaxfoot.”
“Oh.” The soldier looked sheepish, “My old mam uses that.”
“There’s nothing so strange about Elven medicine, they just use different names to us.” She smiled comfortingly. “Now, may the healers attend you? I assure you there is nothing to fear.”
He nodded, grappling for her hand as she stood up. “Bless you, my lady.”
The Elven healer motioned to one of her helpers to treat the man then turned to Gildinwen with a friendly smile, “I’m Galeria. If you have time we could use you here, we get many such incidents.”
“I am at Lord Gil-galad’s command, but I will be happy to help you however I may.”
And so for the rest of the afternoon, and on into the early evening, Gildinwen helped the Elven healers. Many were the injuries from the previous day’s battle – flesh torn by sword and lance, heads and bones crushed by axe and club, bodies pierced by blade and arrow. Gildinwen cleaned, and bandaged, wrapped and comforted. Every man had his wound, his story - a friend lost, an enemy cut down. To each she tried to give what she could, kind words and soothing hands, and by the end of the day she was exhausted.
Dusk was falling when the Elf Galeria came to her. “Come now, let us go and eat. Tomorrow there will be more needing our care.”
They walked together back into the Elven camp, a little way behind the rest of the healers. Galeria, proving to be a merry soul, chatted in a friendly manner.
“I have two brothers here. Gildor there, “ she indicated a straight-backed Elf with a fall of dusky hair who walked a few steps in front of them, “He is with Lord Gil-galad’s household, and Galdor, who is apprenticed to Cìrdan, the shipwright. My grave cousin Elrond, you met yesterday.”
As they approached the terrace she pointed out another. “That’s Cìrdan with the white hair, he’s ever so tall, even for an Elf, and always very serious. And that gorgeous creature,” she sighed as she indicated a beautiful Elf, his brow clear and bright, his hair spun from gold, “is Glorfindel.”
As they made their way up the gentle slope towards the terrace, the sound of horses came from behind them. Looking round, Gildinwen felt her breath catch when she saw that it was Lord Elrond astride his grey, cantering easily towards them. Then she noticed his companion, a riderless horse. A chestnut horse. Her heart leapt for joy.
“Loreglin!” Turning, she ran heedlessly down the hill, pell mell, her arms wide, a look of pure happiness stretching across her face.
Laughter in his eyes, Elrond eased the horses to a stop, just as she reached them. She flung her arms around Loreglin’s neck and hugged him tightly.
“Oh Loreglin!” she scolded, smiling through her tears, “You bad, bad horse! Where have you been?” He looked at her sheepishly and rubbed his head against her chest. She squeezed him again, and patted and kissed him all over his dear, wonderful face.
Lord Elrond dismounted and she turned to him. “Thank you!” She wiped her face. Did she have to start crying every time she saw him? “Thank you so very much.” Shyly she reached out a hand and touched him lightly on the arm, then turned to Loreglin again, hiding her face against his neck, as she led him away.
She did not see the Elf-Lord’s keen eyes following her, a smile flickering on his lips, nor did she see Galeria’s thoughtful look.
The next morning, the ranks were once more drawn up for battle, the enemy had been set back, but they were a long way from being defeated. Little did any of the bright host realise, as they waited battle-ready for the dawn, that they would be many months on that filthy, blood-soaked field, before they pushed the dark lord Sauron back to his festering stronghold of Barad-dûr.
Gildinwen was again mounted on Loreglin, placed behind the mighty Lord Gil-galad, beside the standard bearers of his own house. Elven armour had been made for her, but she had kept Deanor’s sword. From the corner of her left eye, she could see Lord Elrond, once more arrayed in his battle dress, the green-gold plates fitting close to his lithe body, his long limbs loosely astride his mount, hair and cloak snatching at the wind. She smiled to herself, ‘Keep your mind on the job, Gil. There’ll be time enough for daydreaming later.’
The sun flashed over the mountains, the silver trumpets spoke their warcry, and with a roar the Alliance, Men and Elves, charged the field of Dagorlad, against the Enemy, against his foul creatures and against the very Dark itself.
Author’s Blurb: I feel this is quite a weak chapter, it’s a sort of bridge between different parts of the story, and I didn’t feel it turned out too well. I’d appreciate your views on this. Just for interest, originally Loreglin was going to die in the battle, but then I thought it was too sad, and the real Loreglin started looking at me accusingly every day, so I just had him run off – which had the bonus of allowing another scene between E & G.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.