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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 6: Chapter 6

by ellie

When Ariella awoke the day after healing Glorfindel, it was past noon. She was on her way to the kitchen to obtain a very late breakfast when a servant diverted her to Glorfindel’s study. The last thing she felt like dealing with today was Glorfindel’s brothers and their disdain for her. She erected her mental barriers and entered reluctantly to find them both waiting for her.

She curtsied stiffly, doing her best to hide her annoyance, and they nodded to her. Celoril and Elindir, looking a little bedraggled, were both still wearing the same clothes they had worn the day before. She guessed they must have spent the night keeping vigil with Glorfindel. Elindir motioned for her to sit in a chair near Glorfindel’s desk. He offered her a glass of juice, which she gratefully accepted, and both brothers walked over to stand in front of her.

“I know you have not had any breakfast yet today. I am sorry we diverted you from your meal, but we wanted to catch you before you disappeared for the day. We both felt we needed to speak with you.” Elindir sighed heavily and rubbed the back of his neck. “I am not normally the one at a loss for words…”

“That would be me,” Celoril chimed in with a smile, raising his right hand. She noticed he had Glorfindel’s smile.

“Yes, exactly, which is why I am the one trying to say this. I will try to be brief,” Elindir continued.

Ariella smiled at them cautiously. They never cared whether they were inconveniencing her before. What was going on here?

He fidgeted a little bit and took a deep breath, clenching and unclenching his hands into fists at his sides like a penitent little boy about to plead his case before his mother. “First of all, thank you very much for healing our brother. We love him dearly and cannot bear to think of life without him. Thank you for giving him back to us when everyone else told us we were going to lose him. I am sorry I blamed you for what happened to him. We… had a lot of time to think last night as we waited by his side, and we realized Turgon was right that Glorfindel would have rushed in to help anyway, regardless of the danger to him. We also realized that his being so close to the mine at the time may be all that saved the lives of those trapped, including our cousin. So… it could very well be that Glorfindel and Maeglin and the others are only alive because of you.”

Ariella’s smile warmed considerably. She knew it took a lot for him to be telling her this. She actually had agreed with him last night that it was her fault that Glorfindel was in this situation. It had never occurred to her that the others might not have survived if Glorfindel and his soldiers had not been there to aid them. Maybe her idiocy had served some good purpose after all.

“Second of all,” Elindir went on hesitantly, averting his eyes from hers, “we owe you an apology for the way we have treated you since you arrived here. We have been rude, callous, and generally unpleasant. As I have said, Glorfindel is very dear to us, and we are probably a little over protective of him, as I am sure you have surmised. Celoril and I are both very sorry for the way we have treated you. We beg for your forgiveness though we do not deserve it.” They both bowed their heads in shame.

Ariella was quite taken aback. They were actually apologizing to her. She couldn’t believe it!

“I… I do not know what to say.” Now she couldn’t look them in the eye, so she addressed their boots. “Uh, thank you for the apology. I understand your love for him. He really is a wonderful person. He is very fortunate to have brothers who care for him so much.” She took a deep breath then looked up and met their eyes. “I forgive you. I hope that we can get along better in the future, since we will probably be seeing a lot of each other for the time being.”

Both brothers sighed audibly, relief evident on their faces.

“Thank you,” Elindir said.

Ariella slowly drank some of her juice, almost afraid to ask the next question. “How is your brother today?”

Celoril answered, “He had a peaceful night. He awoke a little while ago in a lot of pain. The healers tried to give him something for it twice, but he could not keep it down long enough for it to have any effect either time. The healers have talked about using other methods of putting him to sleep so they can turn him over and tend to his other injuries, but they wanted you to examine him first.”

Did she miss something while healing him or was the trauma of the injuries and subsequent healing still taxing his body too heavily? At least he made it through the night and was awake now. Those were good signs that things had not gone too poorly. “I will go and check on him after I eat and see if there is anything I can do to help. I do not think his body can handle my healing him much more for a few days. But, I will do what I can.”

“Thank you again,” Celoril said quietly with a nod, “And this is a little late, but…Welcome to the House of the Golden Flower.”

“You are welcome,” she responded with a smile, nodding to him in return, “And thank you.”

Celoril and Elindir elegantly bowed low before her. Upon arising Celoril said, “We are going to return to our brother now. Please join us when you are ready.”

She rose and curtsied. “I will do that. Thank you.”

They both smiled at her as they turned to leave the room. Their steps were lighter and their backs less stiff than they had been before.

Ariella watched them leave, then, sighing loudly with great relief, offered silent prayers of gratitude for this pleasant turn of events as she set off to find some food.

*~~~~~*

A short while later, Ariella gently pushed open the door to Glorfindel’s room. She felt guilty for keeping him waiting in pain for her to eat, if he was even still awake, but she knew she had to take care of herself or she wouldn’t be of any use to anyone.

She had been too preoccupied to notice his room the day before, but she took a moment to look at it before going to him. His room was large and bright with white paneled walls. The windows and arched doorways were all trimmed in carvings of vines and flowers. A large furry white bearskin lay sprawled invitingly on the floor in front of a fireplace off to one side. An archway in the adjoining wall led to a spacious balcony. Celoril and Elindir sat in chairs out of the way near the entrance to the balcony.

Glorfindel lay on his stomach upon his large bed off to the side opposite the fireplace. Three of the healers from the day before were busy trying to coax him into drinking something. The healer in blue she had had the row with was nowhere to be seen.

She waved to Glorfindel’s brothers who waved back at her. Finally one of the healers noticed her and gestured in exasperation. “Good. You try to talk some sense into him! He is very stubborn and will not even try to take this now that we have his stomach settled.”

Glorfindel’s quiet raspy voice was quite insistent, “I do not know that I will able to keep it down, and whether it is going down or coming back up it still tastes just as horrible. I would rather endure the pain.”

“My Lord, I can assure that you will not be so eager to endure the pain when we turn you over and start setting all of your broken bones,” the healer answered back, clearly starting to lose his patience.

Ariella bit the corners of her mouth trying to suppress a smile, but failed. Feistiness in the patient was good sign to her. As she walked over to the bed, she wondered if stubbornness was a prerequisite for becoming an elf lord. She would have to remember to ask Idril and Elianna the next time she saw them. If nothing else, it would probably lead to some good stories.

The healers withdrew from their assault upon Glorfindel and gave her room to kneel beside him. His face looked even worse than it had the day before and his broken nose had not been set yet. He tried to smile at her, but winced immediately, gasping in pain.

Though the healers looked at her doubtfully, she smiled at them reassuringly. “It’s all right, I tend to have that effect on males.”

They laughed, but Glorfindel’s raspy voice begged, “Please do not make me laugh. It really hurts.”

“It would not hurt so much, if you would take your medicine,” one of the healers admonished.

Glorfindel ignored him, weakly addressing Ariella. “It is good to see you again. My brothers told me you saved my life when no one else could. A simple thank you somehow seems inadequate.”

She placed her left hand ever so gently on the side of his forehead and, stroking the side of his head, established a light healing contact without his realizing it. His body was tense and rigid; he was in so much pain. She slowly started dulling the pain, taking the edge off of it. “Just you being alive to say it is enough of a thanks. But if you are truly grateful, you need to cooperate with those who are trying to help you so you do not undo any of our hard work.”

From across the room, Elindir asked dubiously, “Ariella, are you sure our mother did not send you from Valinor? That sounds like the kind of thing she would have said, and it would explain a lot about you.”

Ariella snickered. If they only knew where she was from! Well, why not play along? “All right. Yes. You have found me out.” She threw up her right hand in mock surrender, still maintaining contact and easing pain with her left. “Your mother spirited me here from Valinor to check up on her wayward children to be sure you were behaving yourselves because she does not trust you. I report back to her tomorrow. She will be most displeased to hear that he shot me while out playing with his bow and arrows, and you two let him go play in a cave with your cousin all by themselves and they both got hurt.” She gestured at the two brothers accusingly. “I hope you are happy with yourselves. You are all going to be in real trouble when your father finds out!”

Glorfindel’s body trembled a bit, his face contorting as he tried not laugh but painfully lost the battle. Celoril looked at Elindir, mouthing a swear word to him then declared in mock incredulity, “Mother really did send you! Stay away from our sister from now on! She has been a bad influence on you.”

Celoril and Elindir both laughed as Ariella snickered again. “I come from a large family, too. It sounds like your mother is just like mine was.”

Ariella turned her attention back to Glorfindel and increased the easing of his pain. Sensing that his body was finally beginning to relax a little bit, she turned to the healers and asked, “Would you like to go ahead and turn him now? I am easing the pain for him and he is starting to relax.”

One of the healers nodded and replied, “Move up to the head of the bed. Support his head while we turn him. Let us know when you are ready for us to turn him.”

Ariella nodded and did as she was told. Resting his head on her lap, she dulled the pain completely. She smiled as his entire body relaxed.

“Thank you,” he whispered emphatically, the relief in his eyes clearly evident.

“You are welcome. Now be quiet and be still so I can concentrate, or you will really hate them and me for what is about to happen to you.”

“I thought they were just going to turn me over and set the bones?” he inquired curiously.

“You have never had a broken bone set before, have you?”

“No,” he answered softly.

“Then be thankful she is here to aid you, and do not distract her, my Lord,” one of the healers answered matter-of-factly, “or you would receive such a strong dose of reality that you would find throwing up your nasty medicine a most pleasant experience by comparison.”

“Ah. I believe I will lie here quietly then and be most cooperative,” Glorfindel readily conceded.

Ariella smiled down at him. “Good thinking.”

The healers pulled back the sheet and, with the help of his brothers, carefully turned him over. One of the healers took the opportunity to also change the sheets on the bed. Glorfindel, having nothing better to do, looked up into Ariella’s eyes. His bright eyes were quite beautiful, but after a while she found his constant staring to be a little distracting, so she looked toward the healer who was now setting one of Glorfindel’s legs. Considering no one had bothered to cover Glorfindel’s naked body again because of all of the work being done on his legs, she soon found this to be even more distracting than looking at his eyes. She felt her face flushing furiously as she looked back down at his face and realized he was still watching her, biting his lip hard as if trying not to smile or laugh at her reaction to what she had been looking at. This made her turn an even brighter shade of red and completely lose her concentration.

He stiffened and screamed as the full force of the pain suddenly engulfed him.

The healers froze and looked up at her, surprised. Glorfindel’s brothers came running in from the balcony where they had escaped after helping turn their brother. She jumped, and hurriedly reined all of the pain back under control. Glorfindel’s wide-eyed face had gone completely white – even his bruises had gone pale. He was breathing hard, gasping painfully from the sudden shock.

Ariella winced and looked up apologetically, “Sorry,” she apologized in a weak guilty voice. “I, uh, lost my concentration for a moment.”

Glorfindel continued to stare at her as he struggled to catch his breath. “I am sorry!” she whispered as the healers went back to their work and the brothers back to the balcony. “I really did not mean to do that. Just… do not look at me like that, or do not look at me at all. Close your eyes. I get flustered when you watch me.”

He immediately shut his eyes and managed between gasps, “I will do as you ask. But please, please do not do that again. I beg you.”

“I am so sorry. I did not mean to hurt you,” she repented softly, gently stroking the sides of his head. “You will need something for the pain when they are finished. Do you want me to put you to sleep? Then you will not have to endure that nasty concoction when they are finished. I can only control the pain while I am here with you.”

“You could stay with me,” he suggested wearily, opening his pleading grey eyes. She could see his strength was rapidly fading.

Ariella smiled at him. “Yes, I could stay, but I need to get some dinner at some point, and I need to find the healer I argued with yesterday and apologize to him.”

“Why did you argue with a healer? Which one was it and what did he do?”

“It was the one in blue. I was angry that they were not doing more for you and had given up on you just because your back was broken. He tried to tell me that if he and the other healers, who are calaquendi and trained in Aman, could not heal you, then no one could, especially not a moriquendi. Apparently, I am “no one”.”

“Oh.” Glorfindel chuckled weakly, his voice growing fainter. “Do not worry. I have avenged you.”

“How?” she whispered leaning closer to hear him.

“I threw up on him twice.”

Ariella laughed out loud, then looked up and noticed that everyone was looking at her again. “It is all right. Glorfindel is fine and his sense of humor is still quite intact as well.”

Once she was certain everyone’s attention was occupied elsewhere, she looked back down into Glorfindel’s tired eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered giving him a quick kiss on the lips. She watched the sweetly startled look on his face relax as a deep restful slumber suddenly overtook him.

She looked around to be sure no one had spied her actions. Realizing, she had not been caught, she sighed. Kissing him was a really stupid thing to do, especially with other people around. At least the sleep she gave him should keep him from remembering it clearly. Now she needed to forget it. She occupied herself by admiring the skill of the healers as they endeavored to put Glorfindel back together.

Another hour elapsed before the healers finished their work. Celoril helped her get up while Elindir gently placed a pillow beneath Glorfindel’s head.

“Thank you again,” Celoril said softly so as not to disturb his sleeping brother.

“You are welcome,” Ariella whispered back as he accompanied her to the door. “By the way, where would I find the healer who was dressed in blue? I need to talk to him.”

Celoril smiled and looked a little sympathetic. “He left to change and wash up a short time before you came in. Glorfindel… threw up on him.”

Ariella turned away from him, biting back a laugh. She looked back in surprise when she heard Celoril do the same thing.

“I am sorry,” she apologized covering her mouth. “It really is not funny.”

“No it is not,” Celoril agreed then he stepped into the hallway and laughed out loud.

When he had calmed, he gave her directions to the house of the Nestadain, the healers’ guild, saying the healer would probably be there. She thanked him and left for a refreshment before heading out to find the healer in blue.

*~~~~~*

The house of the Nestadain was located a few blocks north of Glorfindel’s house. It was a tall white stone building completely surrounded by lush, well-ordered herb and vegetable gardens interspersed with bubbling fountains. The gardens lent the house an air of tranquility and seemed to emit their own sense of spiritual healing as well as providing tools for physical healing.

Ariella hesitated a moment in trepidation before she knocked on the door, putting all of her mental barriers in place. What if the healer was still annoyed with her or did not accept her apology? Her thoughts were interrupted by a young elleth who answered the door and let her inside. The house itself was filled with light, and a breezy warmth seemed to whisper peace and wholeness to those who entered. Ariella described the healer she was looking for and was finally given his name: Lhûnedhel. The elleth left Ariella just inside the chamber where Lhûnedhel was sitting off in a corner preparing herbs.

Lhûnedhel was now dressed in green and his damp black hair was bound in a single braid down his back. Ariella cleared her throat and greeted him. “Hello. I hope I am not disturbing you.”

Lhûnedhel looked up from the herbs he was cutting and scowled when he saw who it was. “Hello,” he grumbled back as he started chopping somewhat harder than was really necessary. “I am a bit busy at the moment. Is there something you need?”

Ariella was not encouraged by his tone. “Yes. No. I mean, I just want to say something to you.”

He grabbed more things to chop without looking up at her. “Well, out with it and hurry up. I am really busy and need to finish up here. You may not need herbs, but our healers use them quite skillfully and are in need of them now.”

She felt a little flustered and starting fidgeting with her dress. She wished he would stop and look at her so she could do this right, but he seemed determined to make this difficult. Well, if this was the best she would get, then so be it. At least she could say she had apologized.

“I am sorry I yelled at you and the other healers yesterday. I am sorry I accused you of not doing your work, when you had clearly tried. I knew that your healing methods and mine were different; I just was unprepared for facing the differences that I saw yesterday. I never meant to insult or embarrass you. I am sorry.”

Lhûnedhel looked up surprised in mid chop. Apparently this was not what he was expecting. He completed the chop, then immediately swore in Quenya and stuck the side of his hand in his mouth. He reached for a cloth to wrap around his bleeding hand and knocked over a mug which fell to the floor and shattered, releasing its contents under the table. He swore even louder and threw another cloth on the floor to soak up the spill. He leaned over in his chair and started picking up the pieces.

“Do you want some help?” Ariella tentatively asked.

He went to sit up and banged his head on the table. He swore again, this time in Sindarin. “No,” he said testily, though the situation really seemed to Ariella to indicate otherwise. “You have already done enough. I am fine. I can handle this.”

Ariella sighed. She was never going to understand Noldorin pride, but maybe this would be a good lesson for him, she thought, feeling a bit arrogant. He kept touching his head where he had hit it and looking back at his hand, swearing alternately in Quenya and Sindarin. She strode up behind him placing her right hand on his right temple and her left hand on his chest to establish healing contact with his body. Ariella stiffened and inhaled sharply as the connection was made. She pulled his head back against her abdomen to keep him still while she assessed the damage he had done to himself. She numbed the pain and healed the cut and bruise on his head. Then she lifted his injured left hand. She slowly passed her hand over the cut and watched as it healed over completely, leaving only blood on his skin. Placing her right hand over the back of his, she passed their right hands slowly over the blood on his head and hand and the blood vanished.

She released him, but he stood swiftly and turned, grabbing both of her hands and looking incredulously between her palms and her face. He shook his head and mouthed a few words before sound finally came out.

“How? I would not have believed it if I had not seen it yesterday…and then to feel it for myself. What are you?”

She froze. This was not what she had intended. How did things get away from teaching him a lesson and onto her so quickly? She struggled a bit trying to get away from him, but he maintained his grip. She did not want to have to answer any questions. “You called me moriquendi yesterday. Why do you find that so hard to believe now?”

“Because I have never seen an elf do what you have done.”

“The other healers have not questioned me so, and I worked with them again today, relieving Lord Glorfindel’s pain while they set his broken bones.”

“They never question anything as much as I do nor seek to understand as I do. That is why I am the leader of the Nestadain and they are not. Now tell me what you are. I will not hurt you. I just want to know. I have never met someone like you before. You do not feel like an elf, but you do not feel like any mortal I have met either.”

“My father was mortal,” she offered hoping to distract him from asking her any more questions. It had worked with everyone else so far.

He searched her face, staring into her eyes for a long time before stating in disbelief, “Peredhel, I cannot read you. I am almost as impressed with that as I am with your healing abilities. There are few whose hearts I cannot read.”

They were interrupted by a knock at the door. He released her hands and said, “Enter!”

The elleth from before was there accompanied by one of the king’s messengers.

“Lhûnedhel. Ariella.” The messenger addressed them. “The healers attending to Lord Maeglin request your presence immediately. He is fading, and they fear he will not last much longer. His family already attends him. They hope that perhaps you can help him as you did Lord Glorfindel.”

Lhûnedhel grabbed a bag from a table near the door, then took Ariella’s hand leading her out at a run. “You can ride with me on my horse. It will be much faster.”

They quickly arrived at some stables she had not noticed before and swiftly mounted a waiting horse. Ariella clung to Lhûnedhel’s back as they made their way through the city.

How had she gotten herself into this? It was not her fault that Maeglin was injured. Why should they be calling her to help with this? She had volunteered to help Glorfindel, no one had asked her to do it. Helping Glorfindel had been her choice and something she had wanted and had to do to keep from changing history. She did not want to help Maeglin. He was going to betray the entire city to Morgoth in a little more than twenty years. Thousands of people were going to die because of him. Why should she help him? Why should she help a murderer and betrayer of kin? He had even been stalking Idril for decades, frequently asking Turgon for her hand in marriage despite their close kinship. Idril loathed him. Yes, Maeglin deserved to die.

No one here really understood the full extent of her abilities. She could lie and say she could not heal him or she could pretend to help him and sever whatever was still keeping him alive. No one would ever know. She could prevent the fall of Gondolin with a few simple actions tonight.

They arrived and dismounted quickly, these thoughts still running through her head. She ran after Lhûnedhel into the king's house and up to Maeglin's room, feeling a weird sadistic glee. This would be so easy for her to execute. She could save so many from death; so many who did not deserve to die.

She watched as Lhûnedhel raced to their patient's still form, quickly examining him. Ariella heard Maeglin's labored, shallow struggles for breath, knowing she would not have to listen to the ugly sounds of a traitor for much longer. Lhûnedhel completed his assessment and called her over, instructing her on how they would work together on this. She listened to his plan out of courtesy, but knew Maeglin would still die. She was going to prevent the fall of Gondolin, and no one else would have to die.

As she approached the bed, something rather unnerving occurred to her: How many would she be saving from ever having life if she let Maeglin die?

Elrond would never know life. Who would teach her the elven lore and languages she knows? Who would succor the kings of Gondor, if he does not live? Would there be any kings of Gondor? Would there even be any kings of Numenor? They were/are all descended from Elrond's twin brother Elros.

Earendil, the son Idril has yet to bear, will never leave Gondolin and learn about the sea. He will never marry Elwing and sire Elrond and Elros. He will not sail to Valinor with a silmaril bound to his brow to beseech the Valar for pardon for the elves and men of Middle Earth. No army of light will come from Aman to defeat Morgoth and save the few free peoples left in Middle Earth. If that does not happen, then in the end ...

She knelt by Maeglin's bed and slowly extended her hands.

...Gondolin will fall anyway. Morgoth will win. And it will all be her fault.

She established the healing contact with Maeglin's dying body.

At all costs, Maeglin must survive.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

Notes:
Nestaedain – men of healing, I made this up as the guild of healers. I figured if there could be a guild of jewel smiths in Eregion, the mirdain, then why not a guild of healers in Gondolin?

Silmaril – The silmarils were beautiful jewels created by Feanor son of Finwe, the first king of the Noldor in Tirion. These jewels contained within them the light of the Two Ttrees. Morgoth stole the silmarils and slew Finwe in the process. Feanor swore revenge and stirred the Noldor to rebellion against the Valar. Under the leadership of himself and his half brother Fingolfin, the Noldor forsook Aman and traveled to Middle Earth.

Aman – The continent on which Valinor is located.

elleth – female elf

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Chapter 6
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26 Oct 2004
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26 Oct 2004
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