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Author: Rhyselle
Title: March 15, 3019 T.A. in the Houses of Healing
Rating: PG (for mention of the aftermath of war)
Theme: the Ides of March
Elements: _________ looked out, and caught (his/her) breath in stunned amazement.
Author's Notes:
Summary: For a healer the aftermath of war can be difficult.
Word Count: 1,051

March 15, 3019 T.A. in the Houses of Healing
By Rhyselle



Adoan looked out, and caught his breath in stunned amazement. Exhausted, the second in command at the Houses of Healing stared out at the masses of bodies that lay on the Pelennor beyond the walls, piles of them, stained red with blood and the glare of the setting sun.

He'd been too involved with treating the wounded that had been carried up through the levels of the city to think much about just what was causing the horrific injuries that passed under his bloodstained hands.

"Master Adoan?"

He didn't hear the soft voice of one of the few women who had remained in the city, too horror-struck by the scope of the lost lives before his eyes to pay her any mind. "So many…" He swallowed hard as he tried to estimate the numbers, then gave up, clenching his hands tightly on the windowsill.

They'd been at their posts all night, while the siege went on. Within minutes of the first soldier being laid on the table before him, his black robes and white apron were encarmined, and it all became a blur of torn and burned flesh, broken bones and mangled limbs surrounded by the cacophony of overlapping shrieks of pain as scalpels cut out arrows and darts, and amputation knives were applied. At one point he thought he'd heard the sound of horns blowing, but disregarded it as he'd disregarded the barely visible dawn.

He'd worked all the day, stitching, cutting, splinting, bandaging until, finally, he was in danger of no longer seeing them as men, but merely masses of damaged flesh and bone encased in armor and the bloodstained livery of two kingdoms, one after the other. By his skill, he called some back to life.

But too many times, his hard won expertise was not enough; and lifeless bodies were lifted away to be carried to the silent cold room in the cellars where the dead were placed until they could be entombed. In their place would come another warrior, screaming in agony, or terrifyingly silent.

"Master Adoan!"

The Healer started and turned towards the old dame who waited anxiously, kneading her hands in her apron. "What is it, Morwen? Have more wounded come in?"

She shook her grey head and bobbed a brief curtsey. "The Warden wishes for you to take out some of the surgeons, journey men and apprentices, and go down to the Gates to triage and treat the wounded there." She looked out the window beyond his shoulder and shuddered.

Adoan almost echoed the movement, but force of habit made him repress it. He did not want to go down to the battlefield, yet there still might be those who would need his care to survive the night and the days ahead. He nodded to her. "Tell the Warden that I am coming, Morwen."

She bobbed another curtsey at him and hurried away, as he tiredly rubbed his sleeve across his face. He'd need supplies, and his surgical kit…. He'd better get the apothecary to give him more opiates… The detailed logistics of the mission pushed the immediate horror of what had happened beyond the walls aside and he made his way down to the courtyard, stepping around those soldiers who lay in groaning ranks while apprentices moved among them bandaging and splinting under the direction of one of the other masters.

While he gathered his team and the supplies together, he was distracted by the arrival of yet another pair of patients, borne carefully on stretchers, surrounded by Riders of Rohan and those wearing the livery of Dol Amroth…. Was that Prince Imrahil talking to the Warden? No matter; he turned his mind back to his task, sending one of the apprentices back inside for more splints and another to acquire more bandages.

It was nearly full dark when they headed out into the Sixth Circle, the streets lit by flickering torches, passing slow moving wains laden with yet more injured; working their way down through the levels until they were carefully picking their way through the destruction of the lower city.

"Stay with me," he snapped, as one of the apprentices began to move to where a soldier was wrapping a makeshift bandage on the head of his companion who lay against the shattered front of a house in the Street of the Lampwrights. "Our orders are to succor the wounded at the gate itself." He closed his mind to the need around him; but his heart still ached, wishing there were some way for him to heal each and every man and boy who had defended Minas Tirith against the wrath of the enemy.

A few words conversation with the men guarding the destroyed gates had him rapidly directing his juniors. He obtained a cleared area within the guarded cordon, to be their base for the patrols out onto the Pelennor—a triage point, which would, he was certain, ultimately become a field hospital.

The tent was already going up as he led the first of his teams to collect up the injured beyond the gateway. The torches jammed into the broken hinges of the great gates flickered in the breeze from the west, casting shadows on the exhausted faces of those who passed through.

Caught in an eddy of folk moving out and moving in through the chokepoint, Adoan found himself face to face with Mithrandiir. Next to the white-garbed wizard strode a tall warrior whose armor and grey cloak pinned with a star were shabby when compared to the black and sliver of the Citadel Guard. Adoan stopped dead, staring up into the kind, rugged face. The grey eyes that met the Healer's for a moment were steady and full of wisdom, and something inside Adoan seemed to stir—and for the first time since he'd picked up a scalpel that day, he had hope.

A/N: Adoan is the Master Healer of Dancingkatz's Through Daeron's Eyes series. He's not the Warden of the Houses of Healing, but he's probably the next in line for it, once the original one gets told off for blowing off Aragorn's request for Athelas. Please pardon the delay on this ficlet. My muse only decided to return back to work this evening. *Grin*

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
blslarner
Mar. 16th, 2009 11:26 pm (UTC)
An excellent incident, and all too likely to be true.

Well done, and loved seeing hope returning to Adaon with his encounter with Aragorn.
rhyselle
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Larner. Isn't it neat how in so many of the stories for this challenge, Hope plays such a part?
lindahoyland
Mar. 17th, 2009 01:55 am (UTC)
An excellent story which vividly caught the horrors of that day.
rhyselle
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
When I saw my prompt, I was drawing a total blank of what to do with it, and then, literally at the last minute, Adoan started talking to me. I've always liked reading about what that day was for others than just the heroes of the hour. I'm now thinking about exploring the experience of an innkeeper on the fourth level... I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks!
dreamflower02
Mar. 17th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
What a horrific sight the Pelennor must have been that day to anyone who was left in the City! And a healer, especially, would find it dreadful.

But I love the idea that he finds a bit of hope when he sees Aragorn.
rhyselle
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
When you get down to it, hope is the thing that gets all of us through the terrible things that occur in our lives. Estel is what keeps us going when all seems lost.

Adoan was just fortunate enough to come face to face with his nation's hope.

I'm glad that you liked this.
surgicalsteel
Mar. 17th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
This really worked for me. :)
rhyselle
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of you the whole time I wrote it, hoping that I wouldn't inadvertently write something that would set off your "You can't DO that" alarm. *grin*

I realized the next morning (this was written literally as I was falling asleep for the night on the 15th) that Imrahil didn't accompany Theoden and Eowyn up to the Sixth Level, so I have a bit of a boo-boo there... but I plead exhaustion. *wry grin*

I'm glad it worked for you.
surgicalsteel
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
No rants from me on this one. You've got a controlled entry point at which triage is taking place and a healer who's initially horrified by what he sees but then gets past it to say 'right, let's get to work.' It works. :D
labourslamp
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
Wonderful imagery all around. You did a great job at showing how engrossing--and gruesome--the healer's job must have been on a day like this, and the danger of loss of humanity and/or burnout from that job. And the moment at the end: simply beautiful!
mrowe
Mar. 19th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
A grim scene, but one with a hopeful ending (if you'll pardon the pun).
ceshaughnessy
Mar. 19th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, hope is a wonderfully constant factor in this, and all the other stories this month. Beautifully done!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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