Even though I stuck to canon when I could, I am taking some creative liberties with this story since I could find very little information about Isildur's wife and family in Tolkien's works. I know that his wife stayed in Rivendell while Isildur marched with the Last Alliance and there gave birth to their youngest son. I do not know his wife's name, how they met, or when they were married, so I decided to create my own story of their early life together. Also, the Silmarillion said that Isildur and Anarion were young men at the time of this story, and since Numenoreans came of age at age 25, I am assuming Isildur was in his thirties or forties since he was ten years older than Anarion.
The main sources I used for this story are the "Akallabeth" in the Silmarillion and "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields" in Unfinished Tales. I also picked up a few tidbits about Numenorean history and culture from "Aldarion and Erendis" in Unfinished Tales, the Appendices in The Lord of the Rings, and some of the volumes of HOME.
Also, I have omitted all accent marks and other special characters in names, since one of the websites I am posting this story on often has difficulty displaying them.
Finally, the main idea for this story has been floating around in my head for nearly three years, when I first read the Akallabeth, though most of the details only materialized recently. It took me a long time to actually get it all written down, since I had a crazy schedule in graduate school, and only a slightly easier schedule after I graduated! However, I have finally finished it, and will be posting one chapter every week or so, since I always do one last proofread/revision before I post each one. So I hope you enjoy this story, because I have enjoyed writing it!
Many thanks to my wonderful husband for beta-reading this story!
Chapter 1: The First Meeting
He did not return her gaze the day that she first saw him; indeed, he was unable to even open his eyes. Yet it was on that day that her heart broke for him, and she knew that somehow their fates would be intertwined, if only for a brief while. However, she never could have foretold that the injured young man would someday become her husband, and even now she could not see what the future held for their lives together.
Lienilde sighed at the memory of that first meeting and leaned against the railing of the ship deck, drawing in the fragrance of the freshly cut wood. For it was on that day years ago that Isildur had taken the fruit of Nimloth from the courts of the King in an attempt to lessen the wrath of the Valar. The thought of his heroic deed brought a smile to her face even in the dark times in which she now lived. As the orange rays of the setting sun warmed her face, she closed her eyes and sat on the deck, allowing herself to escape to memories of happier days.
The sky was grey and sunless when Lienilde awoke on that fateful day. She had always loved the warmth and brightness of a morning sun, and the dark skies only served to cloud her heart that morning. If only the rains would wait another day, she thought, for she had hoped to assist her mother in the garden that afternoon. Though it was late autumn, it had been unseasonably warm as of late and several of their garden plants were still bearing fruit, though many trees had begun to shed their leaves. However, the cool wind blowing through the open window heralded both the end of summer and the end of the harvest. With a sigh, she slowly slid out of her bed and began to dress for the day. She had just begun braiding her hair when a knock sounded at her bedroom door.
"Lienilde," her mother said, opening the door a crack. "Vorime is here. She needs your help with a patient immediately."
"I will be right there," Lienilde replied, wondering why Vorime was so urgent in asking for her help. Lienilde had begun her apprenticeship under the elderly healer nearly a year ago, and her master seldom requested her assistance early in the morning or late at night, allowing the girl to spend part of each day with her family. Perhaps the patient was so ill that she simply required another pair of hands. Lienilde had noticed no concern in her mother's voice, but more likely than not Vorime had told her mother nothing other than she had need for her apprentice.
Lienilde quickly tied the end of her dark braid and rushed out of her room, nearly colliding with Vorime who had been pacing throughout the house. The healer instantly turned toward the door. "Come," Vorime said as they left the house. "One of the sons of Elendil has been gravely injured during the night."
Vorime said no more, not even specifying which of Elendil's sons had been injured. Lienilde's elder brother slipped a slice of bread into her hand as she walked out the door, and she nodded in appreciation for the quick breakfast. As she followed Vorime through the city streets, trying to eat the bread and keep up their quick pace, she wondered what could have transpired over the night. She had never met Elendil's sons despite having lived in the seaport of Romenna her entire life. She knew little about them, other than they were mariners and members of the Faithful as was their father. For these were desperate times in Numenor, with the King obeying Sauron's every command and many of the people of the isle following him in worship of the Dark Lord Melkor. Those few people still loyal to the Valar and the Elves, known as the Faithful, had been all but banished to the eastern city of Romenna. Lienilde had not yet joined in the worship of Melkor, but knowing little of the Valar and the history of Numenor she did not consider herself a member of the Faithful either. She was simply Lienilde, a twenty-five-year-old healer's apprentice living with her parents and two brothers.
It was not long before they arrived at Elendil's home. The young girl was practically out of breath from their near-running pace and marveled that her aged master did not appear tired in the least. Of course Vorime hardly looked her age -- she stood tall and straight, and there was a light in her eyes that had faded from many others of her generation.
Elendil had been awaiting their arrival and quickly led them to a room in the back of the house. "Isildur has two arrow wounds," he hurriedly explained, distraught clearly visible on his face, "along with several other injuries." The tears that Elendil tried to hide nearly made Lienilde cry herself, and she quickly forgot her musings on how Isildur had been injured as her heart filled with compassion for the father before her. He believes he is watching his son die! she realized, recognizing the hopeless look on his face that she had seen on family members of other dying patients. If only we could give him hope -- yet I know not the condition of his son! Is hope even possible?
Elendil opened a door and Lienilde followed her master inside. The room was small, with a single window that provided little light. Two men were already in the room, a young man standing by the window and an older man sitting at the bedside. She recognized the latter as Amandil, father of Elendil and Lord of Andunie, and she assumed that the other must be Isildur's brother, Anarion. But when she laid eyes on the bed and the injured man lying there, the rest of the scene vanished from her thoughts. Isildur was lying on his stomach and what little clothes he wore were nearly soaked with blood, along with the bedding on which he lay. Two broken arrow shafts protruded from his body, one in his shoulder, another from the back of his leg. Despite the horror before her, what captured her attention most was his face. Isildur's head was twisted towards her, his eyes closed in the bliss of unconsciousness. His dark hair had been pulled away from his face and laid matted with blood and sweat on the sheets. Yet what startled her most was that he was so young -- he was barely older than she, barely even old enough to be called a man. What could such a young man do to deserve such a punishment? Her heart was suddenly filled with an unexplainable desire to help this man, a compassion stronger than she had ever felt for any of her other patients.
"Lienilde!" She looked up, startled out of her reverie, to see Vorime already at Isildur's side. "Help me bandage this wound, ere we open the others by removing the arrows." She gestured toward Isildur's side; Lienilde could not even see the injury through the blood that covered him. She soon discovered that he had several more wounds in addition to those caused by the arrows: deep gashes on various parts of his body, likely from a knife or sword, and a few bruises. She tried to push her feelings aside as she always did when at her duties, but she was surprised to find she could not do so with Isildur. She fought back tears the entire time she covered his wounds and later helped with removing the arrow shafts, and she prayed that her master did not notice her emotions.
It was well past noon when Vorime announced that she had done all that she could at this time for Isildur. She and her apprentice had removed the arrows, cleaned all of the wounds, and applied several varieties of healing herbs. Isildur never awoke or even moved through the entire process, and both master and apprentice were unsure whether he would survive until the morrow. "All we can do now is wait until his condition changes," Vorime told the concerned family. She did not express her doubts about Isildur's fate, but all could see the hopelessness in her eyes.
Lienilde turned her head toward the wall and shut her eyes, ignoring her master as Vorime continued to discuss Isildur's condition with his family. Lienilde had finally managed to control her tears during the final stages of the healing process, but seeing Vorime's lack of hope caused her to lose her composure once more. She still could not explain why Isildur was affecting her so much. Was it simply because he was approximately her age and she was able to relate more to him than many of her other patients? Or was there a deeper connection that remained unexplained? She longed to know how the young man had received his injuries, for though she knew little about Elendil's family she had never heard a negative comment about his sons, and she wondered who could attack an innocent man -- for Isildur's attacker surely meant to kill him, judging by the severity of his wounds. Or perhaps Isildur was not as innocent as she believed?
"Lienilde!" The girl suddenly realized that Vorime had called her name twice, and quickly brushing away her tears she turned to her master and sat up straight, trying to look like the composed, professional apprentice that she should be.
"I would like you to stay with Isildur for the rest of the day, and possibly the next few days, until he begins to recover," said Vorime. "I will leave the bandages and medicines with you; you know what to do. If his condition worsens, please send someone for me immediately." Vorime could see the emotion in Lienilde's face but ignored it for now. This was certainly the most gruesome case that Lienilde had helped with thus far, and Vorime was not surprised that it would affect her so, though if she did not calm down soon, Vorime may need to have a discussion with her apprentice. Good healers should be able to hide their emotions and offer hope to the family members when warranted, though even she did not feel that there was much hope for this case.
"Of course, master," Lienilde replied, not knowing what else to say. Vorime's command that she stay with Isildur had caught her rather off guard.
"If you will excuse me," Vorime said as she turned toward Elendil and Amandil, "I have other patients I must attend to."
"Thank you for your services," Amandil replied. A tear was still visible in his eye, though he was much calmer than his son and grandson. "We will let you know immediately if Isildur's condition changes." Turning toward Lienilde, he added, "And you may stay with us as long as you need."
"Thank you, sir", Lienilde replied.
"I shall return tonight," the healer concluded. With that, Vorime left her apprentice alone with her charge and his family.
Several moments passed in uneasy silence after Vorime left the house. Elendil sat by the bed, staring at his unmoving son and hardly moving himself. Amandil made his way toward the window and gazed outside, clearly lost in thought. Lienilde watched him for a moment, wondering what he was thinking. Anarion, who had hardly stood still during the healing process, now paced through the room one last time and then left, leaving Lienilde alone with the grieving father and grandfather. For though Isildur was not yet dead, they were grieving -- grieving for the pain he had surely experienced, and perhaps already grieving for his death which they all felt was imminent though no one would admit it. Lienilde could hardly bear the sorrow that was so evident in the room and looked down at the floor, her eyes unfocused. Why do we continue in such a charade? she thought. We all doubt Isildur will live, yet we talk as if he will be well in just a few days! They tell me to stay as long as I wish, yet I doubt I will be needed for long... I have seen this act with the family of every dying patient I have treated. "If death is the 'gift of men', why do we fear it so?"
Lienilde suddenly realized that she had whispered the last sentence aloud, and felt the stares of Amandil and Elendil. Too embarrassed to confront them, she continued to stare at the floor and suddenly noticed several discarded bandages and wrappings for the herbs. She quickly bent down and began to gather the refuse and clean the floor. Elendil and Amandil said nothing, much to Lienilde's relief, and soon they were ignoring her just as before.
Having gathered all of the garbage, Lienilde carried it outside, grateful for a reprieve from the dark, stuffy room. She did not even notice that the sun had come out until she left the house. Leaning against the wall of the house, she closed her eyes and greedily drank up the sun's warmth, trying to forget the horror and dismay that she had experienced all morning. The sunlight was calming, comforting, and soon the tears had dried from Lienilde's face and her mind knew only the light of the sun. Truly, men were children of the sun, for nothing else could have such an effect on her.
"Lienilde?" Her name was spoken softly, barely more than a whisper, yet it was enough to draw Lienilde out of the peace that she had so briefly enjoyed. She opened her eyes and turned to see Anarion standing next to her, and the memories of the morning came crashing into her mind like a sudden great wave rushing onto a calm beach.
"Yes?" she asked weakly, not willing to confront reality so soon. She longed to escape from the sadness of the household, but knew she could not do so any time soon.
"I..." Anarion began, then nervously scratched the back of his head. Clearly he was unsure of what to say, yet he wanted to talk to someone, also wishing to escape from the morning's events. "Thank you," he said simply, never actually making eye contact with Lienilde.
"Anarion, what happened to your brother?" Lienilde spoke before she realized what she was saying. She was still disoriented from all that had transpired. "I'm -- I'm sorry," she immediately apologized. "You don't have to talk. I shouldn't have--"
"It's all right," Anarion answered, still speaking softly. Lienilde felt her face flush and quickly shut her mouth. "I'm not sure if Grandfather would want you to know," Anarion said, "though perhaps if you stay with us a while he may tell you."
Not want me to know? she thought, Has Isildur committed some sort of crime? Has he performed some secret act of war? No, that is silly; there is no war on this side of the Sea! What has he done?
Anarion saw the confusion on her face and respected her for not questioning further. For Anarion knew that if what Isildur had done became public knowledge, not only would Isildur's life be in even more danger than it already was, but the rest of their family would be at risk as well. "Come," Anarion said, "Let us go back inside."
"Of course," the healer's apprentice replied, knowing that her duties lay with the injured young man in the back room of the house. With one last glance at the bright sun, she turned her back to its warmth and returned to the darkness inside.
Though the use of Elvish languages was forbidden in Numenor at the time of this story, the Lords of Adunie gave their children Elvish names in addition to their Adunaic names. Since I do not know the Adunaic names for Elendil and his family, I used their Elvish names. Additionally, most of my original characters have Elvish names as well, since it is much easier for me to look up Elvish names than Adunaic! However, it would make sense that members of the Faithful took Elvish names for themselves after arriving in Middle-Earth, so perhaps this story was simply written in Middle-Earth, using the Elvish names the characters were remembered by!
Vorime: "Faithful" or "Steadfast"