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Of Closed and Open Doors  by WhiteTree

“How is the Lord Faramir?” inquired Galron as he approached Imrahil. 

The prince rubbed his mouth in frustration.  “Dying I assume.”  He threw up his hands and uttered something indiscernible that Galron interpreted as a curse.  “Denethor ordered that he should be left alone with his son.”  He shook his head, put his hands on his hips, and gazed at the White Tower.  Then looking back to Galron, “How fares the woman?”

“They say she lives for now.” 

Imrahil studied his haggard young subordinate for a moment and then clasped him on the shoulder.  “Come, let us prepare to meet the foe.”

******

And so the dark forces laid siege to Minas Tirith.  Only the timely charge of the Rohirrim saved the defenders from utter destruction, but not without high cost.  And the heavens opened and wept for them all.  Through the mist, Prince Imrahil spied soldiers carrying litters. 

“What burden do you bear, Men of Rohan?' he cried.

'Théoden King,” they answered.

Imrahil dismounted and paid his respects to the fallen warrior king.   Then, rising, he gazed upon the still form in a litter laid next to him and marveled.   

Turning his visage skyward at the rain coming down, he pondered, “Another one?  Do even the women now come to war in our need?”

They informed him that this was the niece of the king. Éowyn was her name.  She had ridden to war disguised as a man and fell in a perilous struggle with the Witch-king.

Then studying the fair features of the warrior woman, Imrahil noticed that she lived still.  Indeed, her breath formed a slight mist on the prince’s vambrace when he held it to her lips.  Urgently, he dispatched a rider to the city to retrieve help and then grimly turned away to rejoin the battle for he was needed to complete the task of slaying.

*******

The battle raged.  And with all heated contests in war, the tide ebbed and flowed.  But then the fortunes swung in favor of Gondor and her allies for good upon the arrival of Aragorn with his Grey Company upon the Corsair ships.  At long last, the foe was routed, and the slaughter ceased, leaving a wake of death and destruction unparalleled in the recent memory of many who witnessed it.  The lower level of the city of Minas Tirith and the Pelennor Fields beyond bore marks of the severity of the clash.  Wreck and ruin.  Ugly and savage.  Decisive and devastating.  Bloody and bitter.  Pain and suffering.  All bore into the souls of the living. 

Imrahil and Galron, weary beyond measure, silently observed the broken landscape, one they would fail to describe but would forever remember:  the hurrying to and fro of men and animals, the smoke emanating from the ground, the cries of the survivors, the screams of the wounded sufferers, and the sight of litters bearing them to the Houses of Healing.

Galron turned and silently followed them.  Imrahil watched him go and began to understand. 

As the sun descended beyond the hills casting a bloody glow that reflected upon the stricken field, the prince accompanied Aragorn and Éomer to the gates of the city.  But Aragorn desired to remain outside the walls for fear of causing needless strife with the Lord Denethor who viewed the return of the king as a threat to his authority and power.  Yet, he did ultimately enter, albeit cloaked and shadowed, upon the bidding of Gandalf, for he was direly needed to treat the sick and injured, among whom were the prince’s nephew and the sister of Éomer, the new king of Rohan.  Denethor, they learned, had burned himself to death, and Faramir, who was at that very moment fighting for his life, was now Steward.   And they rued all that had befallen. 

With the assistance of the sons of Elrond, Aragorn and the healers worked tirelessly to save as many of the sick and wounded as they could.  Aragorn particularly labored long, wresting those stricken with the Black Breath from its deathly grip.  Thus, he was able to save Faramir, Éowyn, and the hobbit, Merry, who had helped Éowyn slay the Witch-king.

And there was one more.

After departing Faramir’s chamber where he bore witness to Aragorn recalling his nephew from the dark vale, Imrahil went to seek out the woman whom Galron brought to the Houses.  An aging nurse led him to a half-opened door, and he quietly slipped in.  His young subordinate was there, sitting at the woman’s bedside.  The elderly healer, Lindion, was there as well, bending over his patient and bathing her fevered brow with a damp cloth.  With his task momentarily completed, he departed, muttering something about the need to retrieve more medicine, as Imrahil entered.

Galron sat back in his chair, blew out a breath, and shook his head in answer to his lord’s unspoken question.  Imrahil halted and gazed down at the still form.  The sheet on her left side came up to just above her waist, and she grasped the hem of it in her left fist so tightly that it was as if she were holding on for her life.  In her fevered state, she had pushed the covering down on her right side and pulled her top up to the base of her ribs, exposing the blood-soaked bandage across her stomach.  Her breathing was haggard and raspy, as if she were drowning.  Suddenly, she called out, tossed her head away from Galron, and began desperately grasping at her bandaged stomach as if she were trying to pull out an arrow that was no longer there.

Afraid that she would further damage herself, Galron reached out and gently took her hand in his.  Her grasp was firm, her fingers forming a trembling claw, but then they relaxed and straightened.  Galron pressed her hand between both of his and began messaging the fingers and palm, not caring about the impropriety involved.

“I shall return, Galron.”  Imrahil placed a hand on his young knight’s shoulder and quickly strode out of the room just as Lindion arrived.  The prince went to seek Aragorn and finally located him exiting Merry’s room.

“My Lord, may I request your assistance for another who is dying.  A woman who was wounded in battle.”

Aragorn gazed on the prince with weary wonderment.  “Another one?”

Imrahil nodded.  “Indeed.  This one fought with Faramir’s Rangers.  That is all I know of her.  I found her mounted behind my nephew on his horse.  Both were unconscious.  The way I read it is that she was bearing him back to the city after he fell.  She had been pieced multiple times.” 

Aragorn’s face was filled with pity.  Though he was exhausted beyond measure, there was no time for rest now.  “Come, show me where she lies.”





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