(Fic 8-Takes place several months after the battle.)
"I've heard tell of the wonders of Elvish medicine... That was a privilege to witness." (Oin to Fili)*1
Part 1 of 3
Thranduil headed for the lower level floor, meeting the attendant sent to fetch him half way. He brushed past him without slowing down. He had heard the ruckus long before the attendant would have reached him.
Annoyance at the interruption in solitude—or a possible breach of security—clouded the Elvenking's face. It did not sound like an attack, more like something had happened and they knew he would not like it: "We can not bring them in here", "I said ease him down gently", "He is not going to like it", "He won't allow it", "I say you take them back outside before he sees them..."
He strode down the ramp and the frenzy before him froze in a hush. Two elves waited by their horses, still holding the reins. Several wranglers stood nearby, unsure of what to do. A small group stood staring down at the floor by the third horse with no rider.
They all came to attention when they saw him, but he could not take his eyes off the two bodies strapped to the backs of the first two horses. They had been covered over with cloaks so he could not see who or what they were.
The cloud turned to an ashen mask as he stared the lumps under the coverings. "Tauriel!" he snapped as a fear started straining his heart. He fully expected one of the elves to bow his head and step aside, indicating which lump was hers.
"Here, my Lord." Tauriel stood up from kneeling within the group. The whole front of her uniform was covered in blood where she had cradled the injured for the ride. She stared at her king, daring him to do the right thing. "He is hurt badly, Sire, and we must help him!"
The still annoyed, Elvenking silently breathed a sigh of relief.
"You mean, the dwarf is injured," Elros, one of the Gatekeepers, corrected contemptuously. Tauriel silenced him with a glare.
The gathering parted to let Thranduil through. Remily, the Chief Healer, was crouched on floor examining the battered and broken dwarf laid out on a stretcher from Healer Hall. He obviously had been the victim of some huge, ferocious animal.
Bile rose up in Thranduil's throat, not because of the grisly injuries, but because it was, in fact, a dwarf in his Realm. It was one thing to fight side by side with "Durin's Folk" against a common enemy, but to have one under his roof was an entirely different matter. He could sympathize with Elros's reaction but fought down the revulsion to act rationally and regally.
"Can you save him?"
"I believe so, but we need to act quickly. Tauriel did her best, but the ride caused more injury." Remily replied critically.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Tauriel whispered as she paled from her failure.
"No, no, Tauriel, you did fine, but he is barely hanging on."
"So he is not fit to travel at all?"
"Absolutely not!" Remily stood up to face the Elvenking squarely, wiping her bloody hands on her apron.
"But you believe you can save him?"
"Yes, but we need to act quickly! My Lord King, he is not the enemy."
"No, of course not," Thranduil replied smoothly. He stepped back, and so did the others, to give them space. "Go then and report to me when you can."
Remily did not pause for formalities but directed her assistant to lift the other end of the stretcher. "One, two, three, lift!" And they were gone.
"And what of these others?" Thranduil asked Tauriel, who did not hide her relief that they were going to help the dwarf.
"His brothers, mostly likely from the resemblance. They were already dead when we found them just beyond the north-east border. It appears they were trying to cut a path through the woods on the north side of the palace, which I would guess, is to join ours without having to go past our main gate."
"My Lord, I do not like the idea of wargs—Remily said that is what it looks like, a warg attack. I do not like them coming so close to our border, but the—"
"Nor do I, but we will speak of it later. We must attend to them now." Thranduil responded with a slight tilt of his head in the direction of the bodies.
Without raising his voice, he never had any need for it to exercise his power, Thranduil gave orders to everyone on the gate floor. "We will return their dead, but it is imperative you must bring back one of their physicians as soon as possible. I want no recriminations regarding his care while he is in our hands. Unbind those bodies. Ready a wagon and lay them out as respectfully as possible and then put a nice clean white sheet over them. And then lay their sword on top of them for identification as we would for burial. Pull the wagon up to the main gate and wait until you are hailed. And above all, do not draw any weapons. Understood?"
"Yes, my Lord." Tauriel bowed her head in acknowledgment before turning around and barking out orders. "You there, you heard the King, fetch the wagon quickly!.."
When the dwarf came into view across the cavern of flyways and walkways, Thranduil and Tauriel exchanged glances of surprise. He was leading the way with the elven attendant, Nis, courteously carrying his things trailing behind (he had not been searched at the gate in an effort to show good faith since he came alone). He had been here before as part of the Company of Thorin Oakenshield and they were amazed he remembered the way. He had been marched in as a prisoner, briefly presented to the Elvenking and then taken directly to the dungeons.*2
They watched as Nis stopped at the shortcut and, smiling politely, indicated the way to go with an tilt of her head. Delighted, the dwarf continued on his way to the throne.
Thranduil stood by the base of his throne to greet the guest with respect by being on the same level rather than sitting high above him. He was flanked by Tauriel and Bresalden, his Chief Steward and confidant, while several attendants and officers were arranged behind them.
Nis stayed at the base of the stairs while the dwarf came up on to the dais.
"My Lord King Thranduil, Oin, at your service." He bowed low in the customary greeting of Durin's Folk. Thranduil stepped forward with a kind smile and inclined his head in acknowledgement.
Oin bowed again. "And on behalf of Lord Dain, King Under the Mountain, and all our Folk, we thank you for returning Kizan and Kuzan for burial. Aye, that was a surprise that, to show such respect for our dead. I presume you have their brother Kazan in your care? When they were long in returning, we began to wonder... attacked by a warg by the look of it."
While the Dwarf was presenting himself, Thranduil and Tauriel glanced at Nis out of the corners of their eyes. She deftly showed them his two bags and the contents: a satchel containing several sets of clothing, two grooming kits, tins of meat and one small pick axe; and a harmless medicine bag.
Then Oin turned to Tauriel and bowed to her as well, catching them off guard. "And to you, Healer-Lady."
"I'm not a healer," she responded, smiling at the honor. She paused while he took out his ear horn to hear. "I am the commander of the guard."
Thranduil discreetly approved the contents of the dwarf's belongs, which were quickly repacked.
"Oh? Then elvish medicine is a wonder you all possess? I hope to see more. Aye, that's why I came. I had seen it before and welcomed the opportunity to see it again."
"You are a physician then?" Thranduil asked.
"When? Why as soon as the lad is fit to travel, we'll be on our way. We'll not impose upon your hospitality any longer then necessary, you have my word." His smile was congenial but his eyes remained guarded as he looked around at them all.
Several elves chuckled at the misunderstanding, but Thranduil frowned as he studied that inferior thing sticking out of the dwarf's ear. He leaned forward slightly, locked eyes with Oin and pitched his voice directly to the ear horn. "You misunderstand."
"Aye?!" Oin gasped as his eyes popped open wide at hearing quite clearly the quietly commanding voice of the Elvenking.
"You are welcome to stay as long as you like and the lad—Kazan—is fully recovered. We have addressed his injuries to the best of our ability, but the Chief Healer is looking forward to learning about dwarvish medicine and an exchange of sciences."
"Aye! That is very generous, my Lord King. I was hopin' for such opportunity between healers." Oin replied enthusiastically. He took out the ear horn and studied it, wondering how he had been able to hear so clearly like never before. "By my beard," he muttered to himself, "must be the acoustics in here..."
Suddenly aware of all the eyes on him, he looked up sheepishly from his distraction. He shoved the horn in his pocket and rubbed his hands together, ready to get down to business. "Well now, I best be getting on to the lad and see how he's fairing."
"Tauriel will escort you to your rooms and Healer Hall." Thranduil stepped back in dismissal as Tauriel came forward.
"This way, Oin," she gestured for him to proceed, but he came up beside her as though talking to an old comrade.
"Commander of the Guard, eh?" Oin marveled. "You may not remember, but I was there in Lake-town when you performed that cure on our lad, Kili."*3
At the bottom of the steps, Nis turned aside for them to pass—his bags looking as though nothing had been disturbed—then dutifully followed behind.
"I remember," Tauriel whispered, but Oin seemed not to notice the hint of sadness in her reply or see it in her eyes.
"It was a privilege then and it's a privilege to be here now, I say. And I brought some herbs and some instruments..."
Thranduil waited till they were out of ear shot before turning to Bresalden. "That grotesque cowbell in his ear—we can do better than that, can we not?"
"Yes, Sire, my thoughts exactly. The design is obvious but the smiths will need some measurements of his ear. I can obtain those by observation."
"Yes... and when you look in on them in Healer Hall, do extend an invitation of dining with us this evening to our guest. Assign Nis to be their attendant. She seems at ease in his presence but can be formidable if necessary—not that I am anticipating any trouble. For this diplomacy to work, those involved must be comfortable with each other... but I believe he has a mind for diplomacy as well.
"Yes, my Lord." The Chief Steward bowed his head with a smile of approval before leaving.
Thranduil remained on the dais, watching the retreating figures of Oin and Tauriel. "A dwarf... in my realm... as guest...," he mused with mixed emotions. "Yet he was willing to come here—alone—without his own escort... to learn from us..."
*1. & *3. =H2-44, "Elvish Medicine".
*2. =H2-11, "The Woodland Realm".
[No satchels, grotesque cowbells or Durin's Folk were harmed during the production of this part.]
Thranduil and the world of the Hobbit movies are the property of Warner Bros. Entertainment & MGM directly; Sir PJ indirectly and Mr Lee Pace embodimently because he is—oh my yes!—Thranduil. I was just visiting to make sure Kazan was ok—and I agree, definitely warg attack—and not for profit. jk2017 tyl]