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Nurtured in the North by nancylea57


Author: nancylea57
Title: Nurtured in the North
Rating: general
Theme: out on a limb
Element:  willow
Author's notes:  He's back.
Summary: A Gondorian recovers under his new king's care, what a learning curve! 
Word Count: 3026

 

 

Nurtured in the North

    I sit under my willow dome and read back from my journal, a month ago I succeeded in wearing a tunic while my supply team was here; ten days later I suffer a rash from the marigold/willow cream, and a surprise visit from Sir Peregrin, Sir Merry, and Lord Perhael. I leaned back enjoying the dappled sunshine on my face, fondly recalling.

    The marigold lotion that had been helping to keep my skin supple has caused a terrible rash. Because of the fragility of my skin, I could not rub so I had to gently lave the soapy water over my skin time after time to wash the ointment off my body. The itching had stopped, the cold water from the lake had reduced the swelling, and I was layering on the last of the athelas in olive oil the king had sent; when I heard hailing from the path. I hurriedly wrapped on my clean breechclout, grabbed my sword, and rushed to the tree line.

    Sir Peregrin, Sir Merry, and Lord Perhael were standing there with a supply train, while I was gathering my wits and greeting these visitors the soldiers began to pitch a campsite in the clearing across the path. King Elessar had been corresponding with Lord Perhael about herbs and botanicals native to the north that might be advantageous to me, so Lord Perhael had decided that he should come up and see what was most available.  Sir Peregrin and Sir Merry had decided that they needed to come and assay the layout of the new palace. Sir Peregrin noticed that between holding the tunic against my chest and trying to keep the sword out of sight, I was losing my breechclout. He offered to hold the sword. “One Gondorian guard to another.”

    Lord Perhael remarked as he headed for the lake, “I will need to look around and see what grows here; I have never lived close to such a major water source.” Sir Peregrin and Sir Merry grabbed several baskets and a handful of water jugs and waved me to precede them along the path. They stopped well short of the water at an old fire circle and began to neaten and reline it. They told me that it was almost time for ‘elevenses’ and that they could not think of putting me out as they knew that I was at the end of last week’s supplies, besides they had to finish the goodies that their wives had packed or they would spoil. Sir Peregrin turned back into the woods singing a song to the trees thanking them for sharing their limbs for our comfort. Sir Merry took three stone jars from one basket and asked, “Where do you prefer to keep your cold things, because I do not want to put these somewhere that would trip you up on way to dip in the lake?”

    I began to suspect that they were under a misunderstanding as to my status out here; I was not out here alone, my lady wife and children had come with me into the northern wilds. Plus there was a ‘troop’ of Northern Dunedain who were scouting and laying out farms for their own families in the hopes that soon our King would be visiting us in his newest reclaimed land. Yes, currently I was the only one here at this encampment, one of the Dunedain women had given birth last night, and all of my womenfolk and the healer had gone to her camp to participate in the celebration of life. I was the designated “Mayor” of our settlement by virtue of the fact I was least likely to be away from my cave for any length of time; my cave only because I slept in it as opposed to a tent or lean-to.

    The cave had in fact been a well supplied and often used Dunedain outpost of many years. Now that we were settling the area more completely it was being used to house all kinds of things that would help our new settlement become a center of commerce. I am the proud keeper of a set of mill wheels, three anvils of varying sizes and boxes and boxes of material and threads among other things in the general stores. Each wagon of supplies brings one more household’s goods and we move them into the caverns to await the building of their homes. We have designated one of the back caverns as a cold storage unit and have secured an ice bear’s skin to act as the doorway to keep the cold in as much as possible. This is one of the littler caverns and has the distinction of having a twinkle of the ice melt that forms Lake Evendim run down its back wall. It is truly a cold room, it can form ice crystals in fresh meat within a day, freeze it solid with in the week.

    As I consider how I can ‘show’ him the way to the room, and still be here to explain to the others what is about to happen; it happened. Lord Perhael is lead out of the woods by my youngest son and his band of ‘hunters’. I am proud to see that the hunters are all carrying a brace or more of ducks, geese, and fowls. And that none of those with bows have them pointed at our guest. They had camped out last eve far from the birthing mother’s camp, with orders to provide the main course for the dinner tomorrow night. It seems that Lord Perhael had some luck also as he is carrying a gleaning bag that looks full. “Mushrooms, Merry. Fields and fields of mushrooms! Wild taters, carrots, and onions also.”

    “Well, with the return of such fine hunters, I glad we won’t have as many sweets as go to waist as we thought we might have. Gentlemen, I am Meriadoc Brandywine of the Shire, at your service and that of your families. May I help you dress your bounty?” The boys once again earn my esteem by returning his greetings and making very polite introductions for themselves; they gathered their new friend and headed for the area set aside for cleaning and gutting game, proud to be treated as responsible ‘men’.

    “Lieutenant Hurin, it seems we should talk about your situation, before I come to anymore conclusions. I feared the things I would have to write King Elessar about leaving you alone out here and now I wonder what else I have misjudged.” I direct him towards an area where I can begin my day’s mud bath with him safely out of splash range. “As I recall Lord Hurin is second in line to Prince Faramir for stewardship of the realm?”

    “Yes, my great-uncle and his sons are in line for the stewardship but I am of the distaff lineage, illegitimate and not entitled to privilege. I enlisted as a foot soldier and made my way through the ranks until selected for Lord Faramir’s Ithilien guard. There Lord Faramir undoubtedly recognized my family name but there was no favoritism shown, trust me. I was and dream of once again being the second best shot in the troops of Gondor. The only one to beat me in competitions among the troops was my commander. But more and more I realize that it is a dream, the damage to my body is too great to expect to return to the service of Gondor as a soldier. I fear that I must begin to train myself for other things. ”

    “Myself, I think you will find that your troops have begun your training already. Talking to the boys as we walked out of the woods, they informed me that their fathers feel they have the best general they have served under-- bar Aragorn himself. I fear you may find yourself in the situation that I am in…elected mayor; no reservations allowed, and no resignations accepted.”

    As we spoke Sir Peregrin had returned with more firewood than I would have thought he could find without an axe. Nodding to Lord Perhael and waving at Sir Merry, he preceded to build a fire and put on pots of water. I was about to summon my son and one of the boys, when young Thomas and his older brother, Peter went to help Sir Peregrin, “What is ‘elevenses’ and how can we help prepare it for you?”

    “Elevenses is the meal we eat between second breakfast and luncheon. We have enough almost to feed this crowd because our wives got a bit carried away competing with each other to see to our care. But if you have a loaf or two of bread for toasting, we have jars and jars of jam for toast. I believe that two of the jars I see set out are of creamery butter from sheep's milk. A tasty treat if you’ve never had it before. I believe the count last night after supper was 6 fruit and 3 meat pies from Diamond, 7 breakfast cakes from Estella, and a basket of doughboys from my own Rosie, plus 8 combined pounds of summer sausages. Then we must begin to cook for ourselves….poor us.” I cannot imagine what the look on my face was because it started Lord Perhael laughing hysterically. “I am sorry, I don’t mean to laugh at you but truly their wives are that sure we will starve to death without their cooking skills. My Rosie of course knows better as we cook together often. If you are covered now, we can move over and I will start to prepare the last of the old taters and onions to cook with my mushrooms. Pip’s going to be so happy with that find.”

   The hunters were finished with the game by then and I gave them permission to carry out anything that Sir Merry thought would help with elevenses preparations. Two of the boys had knapsack that bulged with grass stuffing so I am guessing that they were able to procure eggs as well as fowls. “Remember to test those eggs before you leave them in the cold room.” One of the Dunedain widows had a way of finishing off the incubation of eggs if they were not too long out of the nest, she had the start of a fine herd of geese and ducks just not enough to feed the entire troop and still maintain her livelihood. “In fact, take them, two ducks, and two sacks of root vegetables over to your mothers for their supper tonight and tell them of our company and the arrival of the supply train; but insist that they not hurry back, I believe we have enough help to cook our own soup today. Give your mother a count of what you killed and see what she needs us to forage for to go with them.” I had two of the lads take Sir Peregrin over and showed him the woodpile and the outdoor kitchen area that we used. He had just lit the range there when the soldiers who had been pitching the camp came down the path with a huge lidded pot, “Just in time fellows, put it on the range and we’ll have a little soup with luncheon.” He took the weight stone out of his pocket and with a flick of his wrist sent it to Lord Perhael, “Don’t think we need this since its all cooked but it will heat fast enough with the lid left screwed down.”

    The hobbits had spied the “soup pot” when they joined the caravan in the Shire and had kept it hot and full every night for supper on the way north. None of the soldiers seemed to know or care that it was in fact a laundry pot. It was intended to boil and sanitize the bandaging materials for the new healing house in our community. Guess I will write the king for a couple more, seems a good size for community pot lucks. Lord Perhael told me he had one about half that size of dwarf make that he and his Rosie used for preserving foods all the time through the summer and fall harvesting. He had already sent a note to Gimli to get a couple of this size delivered to Bag’s End as soon as possible.

    The soldiers informed me they were ready to start unloading the wagons and had set the signal to call for help. Of course, this necessitated telling the hobbits about our version of the signal fires. Pointing to the hill above our heads, the hobbits watched as the smoking rising from the fire turned from white to dark blue and green. “Gandalf taught some of the engineers how to use certain minerals and compounds to change the smoke so that we could signal more than one thing with a bonfire. Blue flames and smoke means that good things are happening and green that assistance is desired. Reds are we are under attack, come running with caution. Then there are shades of yellow that mean help is needed but that things are not dire. If the birth last night had gone wrong, we would be burning yellow and green today. Now all the patrols will know that the birth went well and that the supply train has arrived safely, any within a day’s journey will hurry home to help unload and secure the goods. We will keep the fire burning one hour past the nooning, if it had been dark we would burn till daylight.” As we worked to finish the meal, I explained that we currently had enough men to form nine units to patrol and do long range hunting forages. So we tried to maintain at least half of them within a day’s walk of the camps and new groups leaving every third day to patrol the area between Shire to the south and the ice fields to the north. Each unit went out on a different compass point each time and therefore kept fresher for it. Any time more than four days went by without a return then two scouts would be sent out on horseback to ride their assigned trail. So far we had only had to retrieve two groups in the quarter of the year we had used this method; the first group had the misfortune to succumb to toadstools on their third day out from camp; which taught us that we needed to hold classes on local fauna and flora. The second group had triggered a landslide and cut themselves off from us; thus forming the class in mountaineering, which was now open to all over the age of eight.

    While we ate the soldiers and I discussed that I had guessed right two of the wagons carried the glass panes for our glass house for winter vegetable growing. They would need guidance into the center of our newly conceived and yet to be built town. I told the leader of the soldiers that we had found what we thought was silica of glass making quality and that we hoped to entice a glass maker north with the incentive of his own glass making plant. He made a note in his logbook and we continued our meal. Looking through the manifest, I find that we received three barrels of olive oil. The note said the red one was for the healer as it was something called extra virgin oil. The other two were noted as cooking quality oil; which brought to mind my own need. “Lord Perhael, can you identify athelas in the wild? Our healer has found three different clumps that he thinks are athelas but they are not alike to the leaves that the king entrusted to us.”

    “Call me Sam, please. Yes, so far we have found five strands of athelas here in the north. The shaping and formation of the leaf seem to signal the potential for healing in the plant. Of course, the fresher the harvesting the better the quality of relief. I saw two nice growths of different plants near the mushroom fields. One will make good tea; the other will need to be concentrated into attars. I also have seeds for the royal plants from Elessar himself for your greenhouse. Have you learned to sing the blessing as you brew the teas?”

    “The Blessing?”

    “Yes, I first heard King Elessar sing it when my master had been stabbed by the Nazgul on Weathertop and then when he was treating us with it after the fall of Mordor I noticed that I felt better after he treated me and sang the blessing then when his brothers treated me without singing the blessing. They say that it has more to do with his being the king, but I figure there’s no harm in being careful. I always sing the blessing.”

    “I don’t know which amazes me more your master survived being stabbed by the Nazgul, or that the Nazgul made it this far north.”

    “Do you not realize that some of the Nazgul were kings of these northern nations? They were the ones who took the rings and succumbed to the power; their kingdoms were either defeated or died hideous deaths in the service of Sauron. This is part of the reason there are so few Dunedain. They stayed loyal to their king and the Valar. For which they have been hunted and destroyed for many generations.”

     Shaking my head I return from the memories of that day; that visit taught me so much and opened my horizons so far that I’m not sure I shall ever see the end to opportunities here in the northern kingdom. Tomorrow the perian will return to their homes having brought much joy and laughter and knowledge of the north to our little community.

    From the feeling of being left out on a limb with nowhere to go, to feeling the love and security of a community building a nest around me; there are few as blest and loved as me.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
shirebound
Aug. 17th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
I love these glimpses of this new community, and the fellowship of those who are building it.
nancylea57
Aug. 18th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
hurin seems to have taken root in my mind and has more to say than i can type at times.
dreamflower02
Aug. 18th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
I love the way this little community is growing. And I also like the way it's being looked after from afar by its King and his friends.
nancylea57
Aug. 18th, 2009 12:25 am (UTC)
i think that thats the kind of king elassar would be... involved and deeply caring of his wounded. i think thats one of the things that hurt him most about frodo leaving... he could not do more.
blslarner
Aug. 18th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
Ah--an interesting look at the renewal of Arnor!
lindahoyland
Aug. 18th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
I loved this glimpse of life in Arnor and the different herbs they used and the care shown to Hurin.Is this a sequel to your last story?
ceshaughnessy
Aug. 21st, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Very nice tale!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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