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Heart of a Warden

Chapter 1: Chapter 1

by aimless

Chapter 1


Sharp Elven eyes scanned the horizon as the sun rose, bathing the treetops of the western border of Lothlorien in its golden light. A lone figure stood on a flet high in the trees in what was one of the most isolated watch posts in the forest. Dressed in the gray and green of the wardens of the wood, with a bow near to hand and a sword sheathed at the hip, the watcher took note of a thin plume of smoke rising in the distance. Unable to think of a reason for the smoke the warden swiftly descended to the forest floor and took off in a ground-eating run towards the source.

Cautiously as the warden drew closer it became apparent that the smoke came from the smoldering remains of several wagons. Disgust and pity etched the features of the warden as it soon became very clear what had happened to the unlucky travelers. Several Orc bodies were lying twisted and broken among the debris. It seemed that the travelers had managed to kill a few of their attackers before they were overwhelmed. Conspicuously absent were any signs of human remains other than pools of blood congealing upon the ground. That was not surprising since the warden knew that orcs had an abominable habit of eating their victims. Sifting through the wreckage the warden surmised that this had been a trader caravan, though why they were in this location was a mystery. Perhaps they had been lost or herded here to ambush.

Approaching the only mostly intact wagon the warden peered inside, it was empty, which was to be expected. Orcs were raiders and scavengers and left nothing behind. What the warden did not expect was a fierce biting pain across her right thigh after she had leaned over to look into the wagon. Crying out in distress the warden stumbled backwards, eyes lighting on a lone orc that huddled in the darkness beneath the wagon. The orc appeared injured and had most likely been abandoned by its brethren. A crude dagger in its filthy hands now dripped red with blood. With a curse the warden drew steel and skewered the disgusting creature before it could swing again. The warden, ashamed and angry to have been caught so off guard kicked the now dead orc and hobbled around the wreckage to ensure of no more nasty surprises.

Once satisfied that the danger had passed the warden sheathed her sword and glanced down at the messy wound. The long, jagged vertical slice had immediately started to bleed and was soaking through her leggings, nausea threatened to overwhelm the injured elf. The warden knew that to get to first-aid supplies and eventual help, getting back to the flet was crucial. Fighting dizziness the warden removed her wool sash and wrapped it around her thigh. She tied the ends and pulled it tight to try and slow the bleeding, the pain was intense as waves of agony washed out from the wound to almost engulf the warden. Black spots danced in front of the elf’s vision; unable to quell the nausea again she fell to her knees and lost what breakfast had been consumed hours earlier. Wiping lips with a trembling hand, the warden staggered to a standing position and limped back towards the wood and relative safety. The wound, by this time, started to feel hot and a tingling numbness started to creep up her leg. She cursed again at the slain orc for his blade had been poisoned. It was now imperative that she reach the flet without delay.

After what seemed like an eternity the warden entered the edge of the wood. She limped to a halt and staggered, falling to the ground and jarring her injured leg. The pain was intense and darkness threatened to close in, refusing to give in to the void the warden rose once more on unsteady feet and grasped the rope ladder. The climb to the flet was excruciatingly slow and the lure to pass out almost too great. The warden heaved a sigh of relief as her head cleared the hole in the floor and she pulled herself inside and collapsed. Panting in exhaustion she took a moment to rest knowing what was to come would be unpleasant.

Levering herself once more to her feet she limped over to the chest that contained the first-aid supplies. The first thing she did was to grab a small corked vial out of the kit. She pulled out the cork with her teeth and downed the contents in one swallow. The antidote, while not being able to completely cure the effects, would at least help purge the poison from her body. She then gathered the herbs, and cloths she would need to clean the wound. She also grabbed a clean bowl and a water skin, and sat awkwardly back down on the floor. She laid out the supplies and poured a generous amount of water into the bowl. She then added a handful of herbs to the cold water, crushing them as she did so, releasing a pungent astringent aroma. The Warden would have preferred to use hot water but she felt too weak to put forth the effort.

She grasped the ends of the makeshift bandage and untied the knot, her fingers fumbling as she struggled to loosen the blood-soaked material. Even though she had clenched her teeth in anticipation of the pain an agonized cry escaped her lips. Fresh blood welled from the long slice, but she noted with relief that it did not spurt out. She had seen someone bleed to death before from a similar wound and thanked the Valar that the orc’s blade, while having bitten deep, missed anything vital.

In order to properly see the wound she had to remove her leggings. First she removed her boots while trying not to bend her injured leg. Then she untied the laces on the leggings and carefully tugged them down her hips. The soft doeskin leggings were caked with blood and adhering to the wound. She carefully peeled the material away from the injury and pushed the leggings to her knees. She used her uninjured leg to push them the rest of the way down. Her stomach gave a sickening lurch as she examined the wound.
The cut, jagged and about 2 hand spans long bled freely. The orc had stabbed the dagger in to the hilt then had drawn the blade downward before pulling it out right above her knee. The wound was also full of debris from when she had fallen. Orc swords were filthy and she was unlucky that the blade had also been poisoned.

Making a pad of one of the cloths she dipped it into the liquid in the bowl, and then pressed it tightly to the wound. Tears streamed down her cheeks as the stinging liquid seeped into the slice. She applied pressure to the wound for a few moments, then removed the cloth and dipped it into the bowl and again pressing it to the cut. She did this several more times till the bleeding slowed to a trickle. The warden used her fingers to pluck as much of the debris from the wound as possible and dug into the bag of herbs to remove some largish furry blue-green leaves. She crumbled one directly into the cut and the rest, with a little of the astringent water, formed a poultice. She used a clean cloth to hold it in place and used bandage strips from the storage chest to tightly bind the wound.

She had done the best that she could, and would have to wait till her replacement showed up in 3 days. The warden mentally thanked Elbereth that she was near the end of her watch rotation. She could not make it back to the city on her own and the next nearest guard post was 4 leagues to the north. She was better off to stay put till help came, plus she did not think she could make it back down the ladder. Also every 5 days an outrider would check the border guards and take any messages of importance back to the city, she would have to rest until either one made an appearance. With her remaining strength she crawled to her store of supplies and grabbed a full water skin, a cup, the rest of the herbs and then made it to her bedroll and collapsed. Her leggings were left wadded up in a pool of blood, along with the bowl of red tinged water and the used cloths. Normally a very tidy person she just did not have the strength to clean up the mess. The warden had barely enough energy to shakily pour some of the water into the cup, take another smaller packet of herbs add it to the water and gulp down the contents. Gagging at the bitter taste she pushed the cup away and lay down. She managed to pull the blankets up and then allowed herself the luxury of oblivion.

Her mind wandered in her reverie, partly due to the strong pain killing herbs and partly due to the stress of the wound. It focused on a time many centuries ago when she was but an elfling.

“Elendara! Elendara! Where are you child?” A voice called out in the midst of a large garden.

An Elven woman stood, hands on hips, looking around for her wayward child. She was blonde and fair as were most of the Lorien elves. She was of medium height and slender build, almost delicate. She wore a dress of homespun wool suitable for gardening on an early spring day. The dress and her hands were streaked with mud from working in her herb beds. A small tousled blonde head popped out of the bushes. The woman sighed noting that her child’s hair was a veritable nest of twigs and leaves.

“Here I am Nana, I was hunting orcs! See I even have a sword.” She excitedly waved a small branch in the air as she leapt out of the bushes.

The elf shook her head at the disheveled state of her only child.

“Just look at you Dara, I suppose it is expecting too much of you to at least stay clean and out of trouble while I weed the herb beds, why don’t you play with your doll?”

“I don’t wanna Nana, I want to play warrior, can I go and play warrior? Please?”

With a long suffering sigh the child’s mother sent her off to play. Admonishing her not to go too far. With a cry of glee the young girl ran to find some playmates. She did not have to look long, for in a clearing were a group of male elves about her own age. They all had mock swords and were playing warrior. The girl ran up to the group eager to join in on the game.

“Can I play too? I want to be a warrior. I want to play orc hunter.”

A larger boy, who seemed to be the spokesman for the group looked at the girl in front of him with a sneer on his face. He stepped up and spoke in an unfriendly tone.

“You? Want to play with us? You are only a silly girl, go play with your dolls. You do not even have a proper sword, just a little stick.”

He then took the stick away from her and broke it into several pieces before dropping it to the ground. “Go away we do not want you here.”

At these cruel words the young Elf’s eyes filled with tears. The boys all started to laugh and taunt her for being weak. With a cry she ran off into the wood and swiftly climbed one of the great trees. Once high up in the branches she gave in to her sorrow, curling up on one of the large branches, and sobbing noisily.

She did not notice that her distress had attracted the attention of a young elf, and curious he climbed the tree to see who was crying. It startled her so much when he climbed up beside her that she almost fell off of the branch.

“Why are you crying? I could hear you all the way across the glade.” Inquired an unfamiliar elven boy.

She looked up at him through tear filled eyes. He had an engaging smile and he looked at her with concern. He had a kind face and his silvery blond hair was braided in the style of most of the male elves, a braid at each temple and a thicker plait in the back. He was dressed in a green tunic and brown leggings.

“Why should you care? I am only a girl.” She responded bitterly.

“Well as to why I care, I hate seeing someone so miserable on such a nice day. Plus your loud sobbing was scaring away the wildlife.” He remarked with a grin.

“Those, those boys would not let me play warrior! They said I was only a silly girl, and should run home to my Nana. I want to play warrior! I do not want to play with dolls, or learn to sew and cook. I want to climb trees, and run through the wood. I want to…well I just want to do everything the boys get to do.”

The words came out in a rush of emotion leaving her panting slightly.

“Just who was it that said these things to you?” the boy inquired.

The girl described her tormentors and the boy’s mouth turned down into a sneer.

“I know who you speak of, the large boy is named Telerin and the rest are his cronies. He is a bully and has tried to catch me alone on occasion. We do not get along. You should avoid him.”

“I do not know anyone else who might play warrior with me or climb trees with me or do all those other things I want to do.” She said plaintively

“I will, if you help me get back at Telerin for being such a toad, I cannot stand that bully.”

She looked at him again a little stunned that he wanted to be her friend.

“You will? I mean..why me? I do not even know who you are.”

“I’m not sure why, you just seem like you might be fun to be around and much better company than Telerin. So are you willing to help me teach that bully a lesson? Oh and my name is Rúmil.”

The girl wiped her eyes and slowly smiled at the thought of getting revenge on the bully who made her cry.

“My name is Elendara, but my nana calls me Dara. So what can we do to teach that rat a lesson? I do not like him either.”

Rúmil outlined a rather diabolical bit of revenge on the boy who liked to torment them both. Their eyes lit with the same glee as they thought of the prank they would pull.

After this incident, which had left Telerin’s skin a bright orange for the better part of a month, they became fast friends and managed to get into much mischief together. Elandara also met Rúmil’s middle brother Orophin and he became the third co-conspirator. Dara spent most of her free time on adventures with the two brothers. She also met the eldest brother named Haldir who already spent most of his time training with the other prospective wardens. She was a bit in awe of him, as he seemed so adult and responsible even at his young age. He was the head of their family since the three brothers’ Mother and Father had been killed when Rúmil was but a very young elfling. Dara could not conceive the thought of ever losing her parents. It was this thought that turned her reminiscing into much darker dreams. She dreamt that her parents were surrounded by orcs and that she was still but a helpless child. She watched the creatures close in on her parents and awoke with a scream.

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Chapter name
Chapter 1
Created
17 Apr 2004
Last Edited
17 Apr 2004
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