5. Settling In
Ellie woke up. She seemed to be doing a lot of that these days. It appeared to be early morning, with the first rays of sunlight filtering in through the eastern windows.
She looked about her and saw the washstand by one of the windows. She swung her powerful, muscular legs over the edge of the bed and strode to it. A suspiciously familiar basin was set on the washstand, a jug filled with lukewarm water by its side. Ellie filled the basin and began to splash her face, noting with morbid fascination as she did so that the ornamentation on the basin matched that of the jug, which in turn matched perfectly the carvings on the washstand and the pillars of the room. Elves liked to make things in sets, maybe? She was just searching for something to use as a face towel when the door swung open.
An elf-maid came in, bearing a tray that wafted delicious smells of fresh bread and honey. Probably just your average elleth, no doubt, but lovely enough to make Miss Universe look like a moldy pancake. Their eyes met.
Ellie beamed in what she hoped was a friendly manner, quite pleased at the sight of another female soul (and food) at long last.
She had, however, for the moment forgotten that she was Glorfindel the Golden-haired, Lord of the House of the Golden Flower and worshipped by every maiden west of the Blue Mountains. She also did not know that the serving-maid, a young impressionable elleth barely into her first century, had, like all young impressionable females, her own ideals of romantic interests, and that she, in the studly form of the Balrog-Slayer, fulfilled every single one of them to the minutest detail.
Gloriously backlit by the rising sun, golden tresses aflame with the light of dawn, water droplets glistening on mane and face like a thousand adamants, Ellie-Glorfindel represented the epitome of male Elvish beauty. And when he (she) smiled that heart-stopping smile, the elleth was overcome.
Ellie looked on in bewilderment as the elleth shuddered and slumped unconscious onto the floor with a long, lovesick sigh.
"Oh dear," said Ellie (in truth expressing more regret over the upset tray than the fallen maiden). She wondered if she should attempt to revive the maiden (though really, she was only good at reviving half-dead vegetation). She was about to approach her when Neldor came hurrying in through the open door, very nearly tripping over the elleth in the process.
Regaining his balance, Neldor stared at the body on the floor. He lifted his gaze and regarded Ellie-Glorfindel, still dramatically haloed by the sunrise. He dropped his eyes back to the elleth and delicately prodded her back with a velvet-shod foot. He looked up again at Ellie and proceeded to convey his disapproval, disgust, and complete annoyance in one hard glare.
"I didn't do anything, honest!" declared Ellie. The healer sniffed, slung the elleth over his shoulder, and stalked out of the room. The door shut, and Ellie heard a key turn in the lock.
"Well!" exclaimed Ellie, miffed at being locked in like a lunatic in a cell. "How rude. Not so much as a hello. And all that lovely breakfast wasted, too."
As she looked regretfully at the mess on the floor (which still looked remarkably appetizing given its slightly splattered state) she became acutely aware of an overpowering urge to micturate1. A hasty rummaging about the room revealed a brass vessel discreetly hidden beneath the bed. Ellie got it out and studied it curiously. It was extraordinarily beautiful, every square inch of it covered in exquisitely detailed floral motifs, and a sweet fragrance emanated from a cleverly designed compartment on the lid. For a moment Ellie paused, wondering if this was indeed, as it appeared to be, a chamberpot. As far as she knew, vessels expressly made for the purpose of waste elimination were not also meant to function as works of art.
Her protesting bladder indicated that it might be more convenient for her to continue her musings after it had been emptied. She removed the lid of the vessel, and considered it with great interest. Unfamiliar with the workings of the complex hydraulics that constituted the new part of her anatomy, she was loath to carry out her business in the manner of the male gender, lest she miss her mark and stain the lovely carpet. Yet, she doubted that doing it the way she was used to would be practical, or even feasible. Thus her dilemma: To Squat or Not to Squat, that was the question.
Neldor put on his best scowl as he stomped (as much as an elf can stomp) down the corridor to the maiden's quarters, hoping it would be sufficient to ward off any questioning glances. Curse the elf's beauty! He was dangerous, that one, and best kept under lock and key. Neldor was glad that Círdan had decided to keep Glorfindel's return quiet for the time being – he could well imagine his beloved infirmary swarming with excited, squealing ellith jostling for a sight of the famous hero. He would have trouble enough getting this particular one to keep her mouth shut.
He reached the rooms which the elleth shared with her family, and deposited the maiden, still blissfully comatose, with her mother. "She has been having strange hallucinations about handsome elf-lords," he informed the older elleth, who blinked at him in confusion. "Ignore her and tell her not to eat any more strange mushrooms."
How terribly annoying, thought Neldor as he stormed bad-temperedly to the kitchens to prepare another breakfast tray for his charge. He would just have to care for Glorfindel completely himself.
How hard can this be, really? wondered Ellie as she gazed at the brass vessel, its finely ornamented mouth so open and inviting. She lifted her nightshirt and took careful aim. She missed by quite a wide angle, hitting instead a patch of (thankfully) dark-colored carpet. The vessel remained pristine and conspicuously empty. Alarmed, she hurriedly swung left, but still only succeeded in ruining yet another spot of carpet. Quite ready to scream, Ellie shifted to the right again. Still, defying her will (and to her mind, several laws of physics), it stubbornly refused to go where she directed it. Hold and desist, Ellie told herself, in a valiant endeavor not to create a swampland out of the carpet fibers. Relieving oneself shouldn't be so difficult! She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to ignore the imminent bursting of the floodgates, and attempted to recall as much as she possibly could about male toilet habits. Really, the thing seemed to have a mind of its own. A mind of a particularly stubborn mule, to be exact. Now, with a mule one could, through the use of physical force, take it in hand… Hands! That was it! Perhaps a little manual control would do the trick. It worked, and Ellie let out a whoop of jubilation as the fruit of her labors manifested in a beautiful trajectory and landed neatly into the chamberpot.
Neldor returned to the room, precariously balancing a well-laden breakfast tray in one hand and clasping an assortment of clothing and articles of toilet in the other. Glorfindel seemed strangely smug, but Neldor dismissed it, putting it down to the knockout success of the earlier peacock display. He set the tray down and waved a hand towards it, indicating that the elf-lord should eat. Glorfindel flashed him a dazzling smile and complied.
Neldor watched in mild horror as Glorfindel devoured the contents of the tray with the speed and table manners of a ravenous warg. Didn't they feed him at all back in Valinor? He averted his eyes to the much more agreeable view out the window and waited with a long-suffering air for his charge to finish his meal.
Eventually the elf polished up the last few scraps from the tray and sat back, contentedly sated. Neldor took the tray from him and set it aside. Then he began showing Glorfindel the various objects he had brought, miming as he went along.
Glorfindel smiled and even looked a little excited at the finely brocaded tunic, but seemed wholly baffled by Neldor's attempts to explain the uses of a collection of twelve vials and jars containing various potions and creams (the very bare minimum every elf ought to have)2.
After some time, Neldor gave up and put the toiletries away. He pinched one edge of Glorfindel's nightshirt between finger and thumb, gave it a little tug, and thrust the garments he had brought into his arms. Then he waved in the direction of the door and made a backwards motion, indicating that he would be back for the elf-lord later. Glorfindel nodded slowly in comprehension (ah, the poor fellow was not too far gone then), and Neldor turned to leave.
Today would be another day of observation. Tomorrow, thought Neldor happily, rubbing his palms together in anticipation. Tomorrow would see the beginning of treatment.
1: micturate: to urinate
2: A gentle dig at popular interpretations of elvish hygiene and skin care.
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