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Journey of a Butterfly 2: Black as the Raven by L8Bleumr

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*Please note that this story is mainly OFC/OMC oriented as it was in the first installment. LotR characters may appear from time to time, but none are main characters. Set in Ithilien, Fourth Age, and continues where it left off in Journey of a Butterfly. All the regulars appear: Terrywn, Feredir, Horphen, Orthorien, Glandur, Antien, and many others. I hope you will give this story a chance. Remember, there were more elves in Middle-earth than just Legolas ;)
Chapter 1 - Healing House

An elvish Ithilien soldier made his way slowly to the Healing House. His battle mate had offered to come with him, but he refused saying the wound was nothing more than a scratch, but it needed to be properly cleaned and checked for poison. He knew this was not the case. He had seen men wounded in that fashion, and he knew this was nothing like the usual burn of such a harmful infection. He had been careless during the latest battle with a group of Haradrim. The elvish soldier knew better than to take his eyes off his enemy to check on his partner, but he thought there had been trouble. The distraction was just enough to give the Harad man an opportunity to swing his weapon, striking the soldier across his upper arm, tearing through the black sleeve of his uniform and cutting into his bicep. It had been a mistake for sure, but not all was in vain. The wound was deep, but it would also represent the elf’s first battle scar, something all soldiers prided themselves on. Now maybe his fellow soldiers would stop teasing him about his ‘virgin flesh’. He swore that if he didn’t get wounded soon, he would do it himself just to end the ridicule.

He opened the door to the Healing House and looked around. There was an elderly gentleman holding his head in his hands looking quite distraught. The soldier wondered if he was here with his own ailments or waiting for word of another. The old man glanced up at the elf, who in turn nodded and bowed slightly to show his respect. The man nodded without a smile, clearly in some sort of pain. Other than that, the room was empty and the elf took a seat to wait his turn.

It seemed that he was the first of the wounded to arrive, but soon there would be more soldiers. The battle was at its height when he left, by orders of his Captain. He could have kept fighting, but he had been careless, and in the line of sight of his Captain. The elvish soldier was reprimanded … again. This was his last warning, the Captain had said. His punishment had been his orders to leave mid-battle, before—as his Captain put it—he lost more than just his pride. At least he received his wound first, the soldier smiled to himself.

He glanced down at the temporary bandage wrapped around his upper arm. Blood was seeping to the surface, but it was not bad. All wounds bled, and this one seemed to be minimal, though it was beginning to burn just a bit. He hoped it was not poison, he thought as he second guessed himself.

The door to the examining room opened, and a lovely elleth came out holding a small pouch in her slender hands. She sat down next to the elderly man, and gave him instructions on how to use the herbs in the pouch. He nodded and thanked her, patting her arm. The blond elleth placed her hand over his and smiled warmly, reassuring him that all would be well. Then she helped him up from his chair and to the front door of the office. She asked him if he was alright to walk home by himself, and the man nodded, smiling for the first time. He hobbled out the door with his little pouch, and the elleth closed the door after watching him for a little while.

She smiled to herself. Obviously, the elderly patient was known to her, as she showed her concern. Then she looked to the new patient, the smile still upon her lips, “Well now, what do we have here, an injured soldier?”

“Yes, my lady, I was cut on the arm by the blade of a Haradrim sword. The wound is not deep, but I wanted to have it checked for poison,” he answered.

She went to the patient room door and opened it for him, “Come along then, and let’s see what we’ll find beneath that bandage.” As he passed by her, she asked his name.

“Halion, my lady,” he answered respectfully.

“Well, Halion, follow me and I’ll put you in the examination room. I’ll let the Mistress Healer know you are here.” She smiled kindly at the young soldier, and then led him down the hall.

“May I have the pleasure of knowing your name?” he asked, as they walked.

“I’m Rhawen, assistant to the Mistress.”

Halion smiled slyly, “That is a lovely name for one as beautiful as you.”

Rhawen glanced over her shoulder, “Hmm, maybe that wound is poisoned after all, or are you naturally this bold with all the ladies?”

“Only with those that I find so appealing,” Halion answered.

Rhawen smiled and seemed to blush slightly. She ignored his last comment, and pushed open the door to the examining room, “Sit here and I will be back to check your arm.”

Halion nodded and watched her leave, then he checked his surroundings. The room was in pristine order with chairs and a few beds arranged in a row along one wall. Opposite of where he sat were shelves with jars and bottles, boxes and pouches of all different shapes and colors. Most of them seemed to be filled with dried leaves or powders. A few of the bottles held oddly colored liquids. Halion got up and went to the shelves to examine them more closely. He knew nothing about healing herbs, and he wondered what all of the different things were used for. As he walked along examining the bigger jars filled with roots or twigs, he suddenly stopped and gasped when one of the jars seemed to be looking back at him. Halion narrowed his eyes, and leaned closer as many sets of eyes gazed absently through a murky yellowish liquid. He reached out and tapped the glass jar. Whatever was in there did not move or blink.

“Marsh frogs,” someone said, and Halion jumped back from the shelf, spinning around and reaching for his sword. Feeling an empty scabbard, he remembered leaving his weapon with his battle mate. He fumbled a moment, embarrassed. “Apologies, my lady,” he said when he saw the Mistress Healer smiling at him.

“Quite alright, it’s a warrior’s instincts to reach for his weapon,” she replied.

Feeling his face burn red, he turned back to the strange jars on the shelf. “Marsh frogs, you say?” he asked curiously.

“They are poisonous you know, but their poison is very useful as a numbing solution when it is properly mixed with certain herbs,” she said, as she approached the soldier. She immediately reached for his bandaged arm. “I believe this is more than a mere scratch,” she said, noticing the blood seeping through the gauze. Then she stood back and smiled. “My name is Terrwyn, the Mistress Healer of this House.”

“Mistress Terrwyn, I’m Halion,” he said with a bow of his head. “I have heard many great things about you. Some of my troops have been treated here, and say nothing but kind words.”

“Well, that is good to know,” she answered as she led him back to his seat. “And Terrwyn will be fine. It is my name after all, and I will have you call me as thus. No ‘Lady’, no ‘Mistress’, just Terrwyn.”

“As you wish,” Halion smiled.

Rhawen came back into the room then, and Halion’s eyes went straight to the elleth. Terrwyn took notice right away. “Rhawen, would you undress the wound, and give your analysis of the situation?”

“Of course, Terrwyn,” she smiled, and took the soldier’s arm, carefully unraveling the soiled bandage.

Terrwyn watched not only her assistant, but Halion as well. It seemed the bandage was not the only thing being undressed, as the soldier examined Rhawen from head to toe, stopping briefly at her cleavage and hips. He was a rather handsome, yet young elf, with dark brown hair midway down his back, and an interesting shade of brown eyes rimmed in gold. Many soldiers took notice of Rhawen when they came to the healing house, and for good reason. She was very lovely, with her golden hair the color of wheat, and her bright blue eyes, slim figure and tall just like the rest of her elvish kin. She always had a smile upon her pink lips, and kindness in her eyes.

Terrwyn first met Rhawen at her wedding, where she had been a wine servant. Rhawen had been working in the kitchens in her spare time, but she longed to learn the art of healing. When Terrwyn and her husband, Feredir, left Eryn Lasgalen to return to Ithilien, a small group of wood elves joined them. Rhawen had been one of them. She was young for an elf, determined and independent, willing to do anything to follow her dreams of becoming a healer. It was an easy decision for Rhawen to leave the comforts of her home, and start over in the new city of Ithilien.

With the bandage completely removed, Rhawen could clearly see the slice in Halion’s arm. It had been a clean cut through the flesh, but the muscle was not damaged. Blood pooled in the incision, and she held a rag over it before it ran down his arm, “It bleeds freely,” she told Terrwyn. “And the edges seem clean, not bubbled and grey.”

“What does that mean?” Halion asked worriedly.

“It means there was no poison on the blade that struck you.” Rhawen smiled and eased the soldier’s mind. “Just some stitches, and you will be as good as new.”

Halion smiled but only partly, and Terrwyn knew why. “Is this your first battle wound?”

“Yes, my lady,” he answered, forgetting to call her by her name. “I took my eyes off the enemy for just a moment and … well . . .”

“You are lucky you were not struck any higher, or it might have been your head that you lost.”

“I was told that several times by my ranking officer,” Halion replied disappointedly. “He was not at all pleased with my performance.”

Terrwyn laughed. “They never are it seems, but they are hard on you for a reason.” She patted him on the shoulder. “I will let Rhawen prep the wound while I get my instruments ready.”

Rhawen stepped forward with a bottle containing a clear liquid, and a clean white rag. “This may sting a little, but it will clean out the wound.” She placed the rag at the bottom of the slice and poured some of the liquid into the open flesh. Halion hissed and sucked air between his clenched teeth. The wound instantly began to bubble.

“Is it supposed to do that?” he asked.

“If it didn’t I would be worried, but this is exactly what it’s supposed to do,” she answered. After a moment, she covered the injury with another rag. “Hold that there for a moment,” she told him. He put his hand over the rag, brushing her hand as he did. Their eyes connected for a moment, but Rhawen turned away immediately, and went to the shelf. She retrieved a jar of creamy salve, and returned to her patient.

“What is that for?” Halion asked curiously.

“It is a numbing solution,” she answered, as she took off the lid, and placed it on a table next to her. With another small rag, she dipped it into the jar and turned back to the soldier.

“Numbing solution … m-made from the marsh frogs?” he asked nervously, as he nodded towards the large jar on the shelf in front of him.

Rhawen nodded and dabbed the salved over the cut flesh. Halion watched as she carefully and skillfully applied the medicine. He smiled and looked up at her through his long dark lashes. “I will not crave flies after this, will I?” he jested.

“I don’t think so,” she replied, playing along. “But I would stay away from the marshes for a while if I were you … just in case.”

Rhawen finished applying the salve, returned the lid to the jar, and then placed it back in its proper place on the shelf. When she turned back to Halion, he was watching her longingly. It was not the first time she had seen that look from a soldier, and she was sure it would not be the last. She could not help but notice how handsome he was, but—

“I hope you do not think I am being too forward, my lady, but since it seems I will be relieved of my duties for a while, I was wondering if you might like to join me for a stroll through the gardens,” he asked most politely.

Rhawen smiled, but kept her eyes turned down, “That is a very nice offer and I’m sure you are splendid company, Halion, but I am already spoken for.”

Terrwyn had been at the back of the room with her back turned, but she listened to their conversation, and was surprised by Rhawen’s response. She had heard her assistant turn down many offers, but never had she given a reason before. Terrwyn glanced over her shoulder, and watched Halion’s shoulders slump slightly as his hopes of seeing the elleth again were deflated. It did not last long, and within the same breath, the soldier sat up straight again.

“He is a very lucky ellon then,” Halion responded and said no more. Then he looked at his arm and moved it around. “That frog stuff really works. I don’t feel a thing.”

“Good,” Terrwyn answered as she approached the soldier. “Now, we have to stitch it up so it will not get infected and will heal properly.” In her hand, she held a rather long curved intimidating needle with string attached.

Halion’s eyes went wide. “You’re going to stitch me up … with that?”

“Oh, you won’t feel a thing,” Rhawen answered. “Remember the numbing solution?”

Halion nodded slowly, but never looked away from the needle.

Terrwyn could see that he was not going to help make any of this easy, so she decided to distract him first. “Now tell me, Halion, were there other injured or just yourself?”

“Oh, I’m sure more will come along shortly. There was a scuffle with a group of Haradrim, and you know how those go,” he answered, seeming to calm a bit. “I imagine you will have some of the captives in your office along with Ithilien soldiers. I witnessed a few as I made my way here, tied up for questioning. They didn’t look too bad off, but they were battered none the less.”

Terrwyn took the opportunity to start the stitching while Halion was distracted with his accounts of the battle. Unfortunately, as he spoke, he kept a sharp eye on Terrwyn, and he tensed as she was about to begin. “Wait, are you doing that now?”

“I promise you will not feel a thing, but I suggest that you do not watch,” Terrwyn said as she stood next to the soldier. “Needles tend to make some people—”

She didn’t finish her sentence before Halion’s eyes rolled up in his head, and he slumped back in his chair, fainting as his mind conjured up the idea of the needle being inserted into his flesh. Rhawen laughed as Terrwyn rolled her eyes and started the stitching.

“Why is it the hardest, toughest warriors are the ones that faint at the sight of the smallest object?” Rhawen giggled.

“I’ve often laughed at the thought of an army of healers ending a war just by holding up their needles. One look and they would all fall flat on the ground. Who needs swords?” Terrwyn laughed.

She made the first few stitches, and then handed the needle to Rhawen. “Let’s see what you can do?”

Rhawen looked nervously at the needle. “But I have only practiced on pig flesh, never a real patient.”

“Then it’s time you did.” Terrwyn stepped back and watched Rhawen as she hesitated. “Don’t worry about being neat. He will want the scar this time,” she chortled.

Rhawen gave Terrwyn a peculiar glance. “What?”

“The new soldiers, they look forward to their first scars. It’s considered a right-of-passage. I don’t understand it, but it is important to them,” Terrwyn explained.

Rhawen took a deep breath and started her work. Her hand was a little shaky at first, but soon she calmed and found that peaceful place that every healer goes to when concentrating on a patient.

After a few minutes, Terrwyn continued with conversation. “So, you are spoken for, are you?”

Startled from her healer’s trance, Rhawen paused and looked up. “What?”

“You told Halion you were involved with someone,” Terrwyn went on. “I thought he was hopeless and you never wanted to see him again, unless you speak of someone new.” The ‘he’ in question was a warrior named Horphen whom Rhawen had met at Terrwyn’s wedding. Horphen was the best friend of her husband, Feredir, very sweet but not ready to tie himself down to just one elleth. Rhawen had tried to capture his heart many times since coming to Ithilien, but Horphen would not allow it, and Rhawen would not become one of those desperate ellith that made a nuisance of themselves. That would only drive the ellon away. Instead, she backed away, and left him alone to let him figure things out for himself.

“I stopped paying him any attention, and I don’t think he liked that very much,” Rhawen said. “He called upon me several times with well thought out letters, and I did not return his messages. If he wants to speak to me, he must do it in person. I have known men like him. They want their sweet rolls handed to them on a mithril platter, so to say. Well, I worked the kitchens long enough to know that I would cater to no ellon who would not fetch for himself. I am not his servant just as he is not my savior. I want someone who views us as equals.” Rhawen smiled, and was suddenly surprised to see she was doing a fine job of stitching up the soldier while holding a conversation. “This is easier than I thought,” she commented, as she put in the final stitch, knotted it, and snipped the thread. She placed the bloody needle on a cloth on the table.

Terrwyn examined the elleth’s handiwork. “Very well done for your first time on a living patient.” She handed her a bandage. “Just a light wrapping.”

Rhawen nodded and took the bandage, carefully wrapping it around Halion’s arm. The soldier was just starting to mumble as he came out of his faint induced sleep. The women ignored him for a moment while he came around.

“So what made you give Horphen a second chance?” Terrwyn asked, getting back to the subject.

Rhawen smiled as she finished her work. “He called upon me again, this time in person … with a basket of sweet rolls,” she laughed. “We are meeting for dinner next week … at my home … just the two of us.”

Terrwyn crossed her arms and smiled mischievously. “Should I expect you to come in late the next day then?”

Rhawen gave Terrwyn a sly look. “Will it go against my perfect attendance record?”

“Not as long as you give me details,” Terrwyn answered, and both women broke out into a fit of laughter. It was short lived though, as voices floated from the waiting area. Both women glanced to the door.

“The other soldiers are here,” Rhawen mentioned. Then there were the voices of the harsher language of Harad, the injured prisoners Halion spoke of.

Terrwyn looked slightly worried. “I should separate them before there is trouble.”

Just then, Halion started to wake. “Is it over with?” he mumbled.

“Good as new,” Rhawen smiled. She turned to Terrwyn. “I’ll usher the Haradrim to the patient rooms.”

“Good, and ask Tharon to keep an eye on the waiting area. We do not need a battle to break out in the healing house.”

Halion sat up and looked at his arm, thankful that it was already bandaged. If he never saw a needle again, it would be too soon. Then he turned to Terrwyn, looking up at her with questioning eyes. “Will it leave a scar do you think?”

“I believe there will be a reminder of your first battle wound,” she reassured him and he smiled.

Just then, the back door to the examining room burst open, making everyone jump at the unexpected commotion. Halion’s instincts had him reaching for an invisible sword once more, but he winced as he moved his injured arm. Terrwyn was about to yell at whomever was entering her workplace without coming through the front entrance, but stopped when she saw who it was. A small elfling boy had come running in holding a child size bow in one hand and a large brown rabbit in the other. The rabbit hung limp as the boy raised his arm in the air. The look on his face was pure excitement. The look on Terrwyn’s face was full of surprise and joy.

“Nana, look!” he exclaimed. “My first kill!”

Terrwyn got down on her knees and clasped her hands together. “You caught it all by yourself?”

The auburn haired elfling stood straight and proud. “I did, Nana. I saw him through the bushes and followed him. Ada told me when to shoot and I did. Just one arrow too. I killed it on my first shot.”

At that moment, Feredir, Terrwyn’s husband came through the door, a wide smile upon his handsome face, his long black hair looking a wild mess. Terrwyn took a brief second to notice how much their son, even at the age of seven, was beginning to look like his father. He would be a handsome man someday, but that day was still far off, thank goodness.

The moment passed, and Terrwyn stood back up on her feet, eyes narrowing as she regarded her husband, but speaking to her son, Norion. “And just how were you able to kill a rabbit with blunt tips?”

“Ada took them off, and replaced them with real tips,” the boys said excitedly.

“Did he now?” Terrwyn said with a cold stare trained on Feredir.

He had already known this would be an issue, and he was prepared to defend his decision, which he was about to do when Halion jumped up from his chair and assumed a straight stance, hand over heart and bowing his head, “Captain Feredir,” he addressed properly.

“As you were soldier,” Feredir said, relieving him. It was the perfect diversion. He looked at his wife once more, but the look on her face had not faltered. Then he brought his attention back to the injured elf. “What happened to your arm?”

“I caught the blade of a Haradrim sword … uh … but there was no poison, only a flesh wound,” Halion answered.

Rhawen had returned to the examining room just in time to hear his answer, and rolled her eyes. “A flesh wound that took twenty one stitches.”

Feredir raised his eyebrows looking impressed. “Twenty one? That is quite a nice battle scar then. Your first one I presume.” The Captain of the Ithilien Guard could see that Halion was young, and this was probably his first campaign at the borders.

Halion nodded. “Yes Captain, but I assure you I will not be getting another one any time soon.”

The shouts from the waiting area were increasing in volume and everyone turned to listen. Rhawen twisted her hands together nervously. “I managed to lead the prisoners to the patient rooms, but some of the Ithilien soldiers insisted on standing guard at their doors. The Haradrim took offence to that, saying that a place of healing was considered even territory, and they started arguing again.”

“I can hear that,” Terrwyn answered, becoming irritated by the noise. “And where is Tharon?”

“He is trying to mediate the situation, since he is the only one fluent in their language, the Harad men, that is,” Rhawen answered.

“I can speak with them if you would like,” Feredir offered. He too spoke enough of the desert dwellers tongue to communicate.

“No, no,” Terrwyn said quickly, “This is not your place here, Feredir. I am the head healer, and I will handle it.”

There was a thump, and the sound of empty bottles clanking together. Everyone turned to see Norion flinging the dead rabbit carelessly onto the workbench. Terrwyn ran to him. “Not there, Norion, that area is sterile,” she complained, but she could not be mad at him. He was so proud of his catch, and she would not ruin his winning moment.

“I’m sorry, Nana,” Norion said softly.

Terrwyn lifted the rabbit and held it up, measuring its weight. Her son looked up and watched his mother. “I must admit, this is one of the largest rabbits I have seen in a long time.” She handed it back to him. “What shall we do with it then?”

Norion shrugged his shoulders. “We could have it cooked into a stew.”

“That will make a lot of food. Perhaps we should invite some of our friends and have a celebration,” Terrwyn suggested.

“Can we ask Uncle Horphen to come?” Norion asked eagerly, “And Rhawen … and Antien and Commander Glandur … oh … and Curuven and Limil too?”

Feredir stepped forward coming to stand behind his son and laughed. “I think you have invited all of Ithilien.”

“Looking at this catch, there will be enough stew to feed all of Ithilien,” Terrwyn chimed in. She handed the rabbit back to her son. “Why don’t you run upstairs, find Limil and politely ask if she will prepare it.”

“Yes, Nana,” Norion answered with a big smile, as he ran through the door and towards the stairs that led to the apartment above the Healing House.

Terrwyn looked up at Feredir, eyes narrowing instantly. “And don’t think I’m letting you off so easily.” She turned to Rhawen. “Can you finish up with the patient?”

“Of course,” Rhawen nodded.

Terrwyn exited through the back door and Feredir followed her. Once they were alone in the workroom area, she spun towards him, and poked her finger into his chest. “And just what did you think you were doing by giving Norion real arrows? I thought we had agreed; blunts only until he is ten. You yourself said that his coordination would not be very well developed until then.”

Feredir did what he did best and smiled irresistibly. “You have not been hunting with him, and seen his development. He is ahead of his years. He has a concentration that I have not seen in someone so young. I wish you could have seen his face when he spotted the rabbit. His silver eyes were like darts trained on the target. And his hands, though so small, were as steady as a rock. I knew it was time, and I removed the blunt just this once, and look how proud he is now.” Feredir’s own face beamed with fatherly pride, but Terrwyn still looked cynical. His features softened, as they only did for his wife. “Do you not trust me, Naru? I would never put our son in danger.”

Terrwyn still glared at her husband. “I know you would do no such thing, but we had agreed upon this already. When we talk about what you are teaching him, I feel as though I am a bit involved, and my mind is assured. I regret not being there for every milestone.”

Feredir’s hands rested on her hips, and he pulled her to him, holding her close. “You are there, Terrwyn, maybe not in body, but in spirit. With every accomplishment, he says he cannot wait to tell you. And when he caught that rabbit,” Feredir paused to chuckle as he remembered, “there was no time to spare. He could not wait another moment to get back here and show you.”

“He did?” she said, her eyes pooling with tears.

At that exact moment, there was a muffled cry from the waiting area. Terrwyn bit back her emotions, and was instantly the Mistress Healer once more. She pushed through the door of the examining room and found Halion fumbling for an invisible sword again, Rhawen with her hands covering her mouth in surprise, and Tharon pinching his nose, which happened to be bleeding profusely.

“What’s happened here?” Terrwyn called out, demanding explanation.

Tharon sat on a stool, moaning in pain. Rhawen was already at his side, checking his injured nose. She handed him an unused bandage left over from Halion’s suturing, and he held it to his face. “I did as you said, Mistress Terrwyn. I tried to keep the soldiers calm, but the Haradrim started shouting rude comments. Seems that they do not speak much Westron, but they know all the insults.”

Terrwyn gave an internal sigh. Tharon was just beginning his training in the art of medicine. He was a good listener and tried very hard, but he was not a mediator. She should have known better than to send him to keep a watch out. Tharon was a young elf, with dark brown hair that he kept tied back in a ponytail, tall and very slim. Compared to the Ithilien men, he looked like a sapling amongst a forest of Ents. Still, he had followed her directions, and it cost him a possible broken nose.

“Where are the prisoners now?” Terrwyn asked.

“They are still in the waiting area with the soldiers. There’s five of them as far as I can tell. Their injuries look minor, but they need to be cleaned and bandaged,” Tharon said in a nasally voice.

Feredir stood at the back of the examining room, knuckles cracking as he flexed his fingers. If he had been anywhere else, he would have already been out the door and establishing order. These were his men, after all. However, this was Terrwyn’s territory, and she had told him as much on countless occasions. He knew better than to cross his half-elvish, half Rohirric wife. She had the patience of the elves, and the feistiness of the Rohirrim. More often than naught, she was a daughter of Rohan, and her personality was as fiery as her red hair.

“Perhaps I can calm them,” Rhawen said after she finished examining Tharon. A piece of his brown hair had come loose from the thong in his hair, and she pushed it behind his ear. “It will be sore and possibly bruised, but it’s not broken,” she told him.

“She should not—” Feredir started to say, but Terrwyn held her hand up to stop him.

“It is alright, Hervenn,” Terrwyn said lovingly, but with a touch of aggravation … just a warning. Then she smiled at Rhawen. “I will see to the disturbance. You stay with Tharon and see that the blood stops.”

Without any more argument, Terrwyn left through the examining room door, down a short hall and exited into the waiting area. What she found was a room full of Ithilien soldiers yelling and waving fists to a group of Harad men, who were yelling back in their own language.

“Stop!” she yelled, “Stop this instant! You are in a house of healing. This is neutral ground!” But her shouts went unnoticed.

Suddenly, one of the soldiers called one of the Harad men a wicked name, and accused him of doing unthinkable things to his own sister. The Harad man’s face turned a shade of red that Terrwyn hadn’t known existed, and he hocked and spit in the Ithilien soldier’s face. There was a single moment when time seemed to stop and a hush covered the waiting area, as everyone waited to see what would happen next. Then the soldier said calmly, “You dirty orc-fucking bastard!”

Time started back up as the soldier lurched at the Harad man and a brawl broke out. There was nothing Terrwyn could say to stop the madness. It was already out of control, and unless she wanted to join Tharon with a bloody nose of her own, she had to regain order. She glanced around the room, looking for something to use to get their attention. There was nothing but chairs and a table at one end. Half of the chairs were in use by the unarmed soldiers, raised above their heads as they threatened to beat the Harad prisoners with them.

Terrwyn turned back to the door that led to the examining room and at that very moment, Feredir stepped out, a look of shock on his face as he absorbed all that was happening. In an instant, she marched over to where he stood, her eye trained on the hilt of his sword safely sheathed at his side. Before he could speak, she grabbed it and pulled it free. He started to protest, but she glared at him with murderous eyes, and he bit his tongue.

With sword in hand, Terrwyn leapt atop the table with elf-like grace, and held the sword up, flashing silver in the sun that beamed through the window behind her, “You will stop this now!” she shouted.

Her voice captured the attention of a few of the men close enough to hear. They immediately stopped and watched with amazement as the Mistress Healer stood on the table and commanded order. Terrwyn could see that the prisoners had moved, or had been corralled across the room against the wall on the far side. The Harad men were pinned to the wall by their throats as the soldiers were on the verge of strangling them.

“I said enough!” Terrwyn shouted again, and the crowd slowly came to order. The last to notice the Mistress Healer was the man who initialized the brawl. The one who was spit on was doing a thorough job of choking the life out of the Harad prisoner who had done the spitting. Caught up in the bloodlust of holding another being in the balance of life and death, the Ithilien man did not hear Terrwyn. Another second, and the prisoner would be past saving. With only one thing left to do, Terrwyn hiked her skirt up her leg, exposing the ivory flesh of her thigh. The men watched … their eyes trained on her bared leg. A few mumbled and some groaned. They had obviously been away on duty, and deprived of female companionship for some time. She retrieved a throwing knife from a garter that she always wore, lowered her skirt and took aim. As the knife left her hand, there was a whispered gasp across the room from the soldiers watching the show, and then a nice hearty thwack as the blade sliced through the Ithilien soldier’s sleeve, pinning his arm to the wall. He instantly released the Harad prisoner, who coughed, and reached for his reddened throat.

Terrwyn held Feredir’s sword up again for all to see. “Now that I have your attention, I would ask that you all take a seat and quietly wait your turn,” she paused and glared sharply at the Ithilien man pinned to the wall, “or next time I will not miss.”

She jumped down from the table, went to Feredir and handed him his sword. “I won’t be needing this anymore,” she said, and for one of the very few times since they met, Feredir was speechless. Watching Terrwyn assume authority and handle his weapon made something deep within stir to life, but that would have to wait.

The crowd in the waiting area parted as Terrwyn made her way to the other side where the prisoners stood against the wall. Feredir sheathed his sword and followed her, regaining control of his emotions quickly.

“That was a very dangerous thing you did, Hervess,” he said in a scolding whisper from behind.

“This is a place of healing, and this sort of barbaric behavior will not be tolerated.” Terrwyn was still a bit charged from all the excitement, and she said this loud enough for the surrounding men to hear. “Leave the fighting on the battle field.”

No one got in her way as she approached the prisoners. One look at them told her just how scared they had been during this ordeal. She didn’t know what these men had done, but it hadn’t been as bad as killing, for them to be allowed treatment within the city. These men did not seem the soldiering type, she thought oddly.

She looked them over hastily. There were cuts, scratches, bruises and a black eye or two, but they seemed to be in one piece. “Feredir, tell them they will come with me for treatment.”

He relayed the message in their foreign tongue and the men nodded in agreement. Then Terrwyn led them to the examining room. Along the way, Feredir gestured to the two guards that originally brought the prisoners, to come with them and keep watch as they were treated for their injuries.

“Is everything alright?” Rhawen asked when Terrwyn returned with five Harad men in tow.

“Order has been restored,” she smiled for appearances sake. “Now, we have work to do. Let’s start with these men so we can send them to the prison house where they’ll be out of the population.”

Terrwyn, Rhawen and Tharon worked diligently under the watchful eyes of Feredir and his men. Terrwyn stole a glance at her husband, who took up residence in his usual spot, a table in one corner of the room. There was no doubt, from the stern look in his silver eyes, that he would have a thing or two to say about her sudden bravery. He did not look pleased, but what else could she have done? It was just a matter of time before he would confront her, though not while she worked. But once the prisoners were on their way, she could be assured Feredir would want to speak his mind, and they would have an argument. At least she would have some time to get her thoughts together while she bandaged the Harad men. She had already decided that she would not back down in this matter. Terrwyn was a strong and capable woman. It was her right to protect and bring order to her house.

The last prisoner was taken care of, and Feredir ordered his men to take them back to the interrogation rooms. As the guards led the men away, one of the soldiers, an elvish man fair of face and skin, stopped and bowed his head to Terrwyn. “I apologize, ma’am, for the disturbance in your place of business. We hadn’t known the place would fill so full and so quick with soldiers, otherwise we would have taken the prisoners away sooner, and spared you the annoyance.”

Terrwyn smiled. “Quite alright, there was not much harm done … outside of a few chairs and my new curtains.” She cringed inwardly as she thought of her dear friend, Antien, who so thoughtfully picked them out and hung them for her as a surprise. “Thank you for your help.”

She stopped to consider it all for a moment. It was rare that injured prisoners of war were sent to her. Usually, they were held in the prison and seen by the healer on duty there. She recalled one of the men telling Feredir that Captain Horphen gave them their orders while he interrogated the captured leader. A bargaining tool, she thought. The leader would divulge information in exchange for the fair treatment of his men. She wondered what kind of information the Harad man held for Horphen to agree to the arrangement.

The guards left with the prisoners, and Terrwyn waited for Feredir to go with them. Instead, he stayed seated on his rickety throne in the corner, his eyes burning a hole into her back. Her ire began to boil slightly. What was he waiting for? If he was to have it out with her, better to get it over with so she could work in peace.

She ordered Tharon to send in the first group of Ithilien soldiers, as she and Rhawen prepared and cleaned their work area. Rhawen leaned in and whispered in Terrwyn’s ear with concern. “Did you notice the odd wounds on the prisoner’s backs?”

“I did,” Terrwyn answered. “Those were not fresh. They looked to be a week or so gone. That did not happen here or by our soldiers.”

“They did not seem like Harad soldiers either,” Rhawen mentioned. “They were very scared, unlike what I have seen with other prisoners of war.”

“Terrwyn, a word with you, please,” Feredir said as he stood and went through a door that led to a private workroom at the very back of the healing house.

The dry tone of his voice made her tense and ready for the fight. She abandoned the conversation with Rhawen. “Stubborn man,” she muttered. Just as Terrwyn was half-elf, half-human, so was Feredir, but his human half was Numenorean, and in times when his temper flared, this trait was very prominent.

Terrwyn cleaned her hands, and gave orders to Rhawen and Tharon to begin attending the first of the Ithilien soldiers while she spoke with her husband. She fixed her dress, pulled her hair back and tied it with a ribbon, and then took a deep breath, ready to defend herself against her stubborn husband. She went through the door, closing it behind her so that the others would not hear, and opened her mouth to start the argument. To her surprise, Feredir stepped out of the shadows from behind, grabbed her by the waist, spun her round to face him, and pushed her against the wall.

“Feredir, what—” she said startled, but was cut off when his mouth covered hers. His kiss was hard and fervent, as if his very life depended on the taste of her lips. Terrwyn had prepared herself for a fight, and hadn’t anticipated this. The mixture of anger and lust was making her body ache with a growing fire in her belly. If he didn’t release her soon, she thought she would instantly combust into flames. Unable to resist, she kissed him back, grabbing fistfuls of his thick black hair, and enjoying the sensation of being crushed between the wall and his hardened body. When he let her go, she felt herself swoon from weakened knees. He had truly taken part of her life force to satisfy his sudden need for her soul.

She swayed slightly, but he wrapped an arm about her waist. After she was able to breathe again, she spoke. “What was that for?”

“I don’t know what came over me, Naru, but the sight of you standing above the crowd, my sword in your hand, controlling all those soldiers … by the gods Terrwyn, I wanted to throw you down right then and there, drape you across that table, and have my way with you.”

“You don’t say,” she jested, still a little light-headed from the kiss. “I was only doing what I must to get my healing house back in order.”

Feredir pulled her close and whispered his hot breath into her ear. “I will not be able to concentrate for the rest of the day. That image of you is burned into the backs of my eyelids.”

“Then I suggest you keep your eyes open,” she responded, suddenly feeling drunk on the power she held over him. She felt her resistance was much stronger than his was in that moment. He was as a puppet in her hands, ready to do as she willed.

“I need you now, Terrwyn. My body aches for you,” he begged.

“But I can’t. I have a waiting room full of men … your men, might I remind you.”

He rested his forehead against hers, and cupped his hands to the sides of her face. “I will give you an hour, and then you are all mine, Naru. I’ll send a carriage.”

“But—” she protested. There was a waiting room full of patients to consider, and not to mention their son, who was upstairs preparing rabbit stew with their family friend, Limil. “I can’t just leave and—”

“One hour.” He leaned down to kiss her, his lips only an inch from hers, but he stopped, closed his eyes and released a long sigh. Then he left through the back door, which led to the herb garden. There was a gate that opened to a stone pathway. From the back of the healing house, his captain’s quarter was within walking distance. That must be where he was going for now.

“No wonder he did not leave by the front door,” she said to herself. The heaviness of his hardened bulge still left a ghostly impression upon her pelvis. He was in no shape to be seen by his men, or anyone for that matter. Terrwyn smiled as she thought about how easy it was to identify an aroused man. It was good to be a woman, she concluded, knowing her own arousal was just as prominent, but secretly hidden. And a good thing too, since she only had an hour to stitch up the men and send them on their way.
Chapter end notes:
Please, please, please leave a review. I've been on hiatus for a while, but I'm back and ready with an all new story. Hope you'll enjoy, and hope to hear from some of those who followed Journey of a Butterfly (the first). Thanks for reading. Je Suis Prest! Can't help it. Outlander fan here ;)