The past days had flown by in a blur. Eruviel had missed the riot that had ensued when the gates to Bree had been closed on account of the plague. She was not sure if she was glad she had or not, but the blood on the street made her core feel cold. Glad that Anya and the boys were safe away from town she had rolled up her sleeves and gotten to work.
Wandering the alleys made her wish she had become a healer instead of a hunter, and two days before was spent tactfully relieving headaches and taking fevers till her body shivered with chills, her bones ached and her head spun. Part of her hoped that the more frequent use of her gift would make it stronger, while a small corner of her fevered mind thanked the Valar that she was and elf. Crawling up onto a roof she had slept hard all the next day, the warmth of a chimney to her back and a fresh breeze to ward off the stench of death that crept through the streets. As night fell she finally woke, and she sat back to watch the sunset through the haze, feeling mostly revived and more determined than ever to do more.
“All citizens are to remain within Bree, help the sick, and tend to themselves for the greater good of the town,” had been the Mayor’s decree, and it was repeated over and over. She was not sure how the laws of citizenship worked, but she intended to help the sick. She had never spent time in a prison other than those of the enemies, but in her mind the reward far outweighed the risk. After spending her small purse on a trinket for Anya she watched the change of the guard from the same roof. Once . . . twice . . . then on the third change she saw it. A gap. Having ran into an old friend she drug him along with her and at the change of the fourth guard they’d snuck past and scaled the cliff to one side of town.
How incredibly good the forest seemed; the sight, the smell, the open space. But she had little time. The next few hours were spent digging through the undergrowth and riding through the fields to different areas, combing the land for roots, herbs and the few flowers she knew to hold healing properties. The sun rising as she filled her small bag she quickly washed up at Mira’s cabin and slipped back into town.
The smell had gotten worse. Closing the door of the Pony behind her, Eruviel looked around the common room, hoping to find one of the healers who often frequented the Inn. But none were there. Not even Threz was in the small crowd pretending to enjoy the terrible ale. Adjusting the strap of her satchel over her shoulder she shot a glance and polite nod to the Justice as she made her way to the bar.
As she ordered herself a mug the door of the inn opened behind her. Glancing back a small wave of relief swept through her. Laerlin stepped inside and walked over to stand beside her, ordering her own mug of ale.
A string of laughter and off-colored comments rose from a near table. Laerlin shot a quick, strange glance at the bit of conversation to their left, Eruviel hesitating her greeting to look past in the table’s direction. Eyebrows raised, Laerlin looked straight back at the counter, a bewildered look twisting her features.
Chuckling softly, Eruviel took her cup from Barliman and nodded to the healer. “I beg your pardon, Laerlin, but are you free for a moment?”
Taking her drink from the innkeeper, Laerlin turned to look at Eruviel. “Oh, hello again. It has been a while. Yes, how can I help you?”
“I probably should say my greetings more often,” Eruviel nodded with a polite smile, “but I was wondering, with the recent events, how are the healers faring?”
Laerlin wrinkled her nose. “Busy,” she admitted. “Miss Dagnawyn is pushing as much preventative mixtures as she can to any who will take them, as fast as she can make them. I’ve been treating symptoms as I see them. Master Daretwin more recently took a journey to Beggar’s Alley– I regret I could not join him.” She sighed heavily. “I warrant Nillariel, Aniwise, and other jail healers are also helping as they can. And that covers only what I know of healer’s movements recently.”
Eruviel nodded slowly, glancing towards Arion as he departed the room. Good. Taking the small satchel from her shoulder she extended it out to Laerlin. “It is not much, but I want to do what I can as well, and offer my services.”
Laerlin looked at her in faint surprise. She slowly took the satchel and peered inside at the contents. Closing it once more with a glimmer of surprise on her face her grip tightened faintly on the bag. “This is a wonderful collection. How much do you wish for it?”
Eruviel tucked her now free hand into her pocket, pursing her lips as she shook her head. “It is not for sale. You are gifted at healing, and my . . . talents can be put to good use aiding in those efforts.”
Laerlin smiled at her. “Knowing which herbs are valuable and which are not, and being able to find them is a wonderful talent,” she said earnestly. “Thank you for this gift.”
Eruviel nodded, giving a small, amused smile. “There will be more, as long as there is a need. And if you need anything from more of that,” she gestured to the bag, “to an extra set of hands, seeing as I doubt I will get ill, please let me know.”
“It is not like your kind to fall ill, from what I understand. It would indeed be something terrible if you did,” she murmured. “Did you want the satchel back? I can put these into my own.”
Eruviel shook her head. “I can get it back when I get more. On that note,” she said, lowing her voice a bit more, “Is there a certain type that is best suited to combating this illness? I am afraid that is a collection of herbs and not all might be useful.”
Laerlin shook her head slightly. “I have seen different symptoms, many of them cold-like, others worse, such as these nasty looking rashes, to put it simply. If you were to collect but one plant from the wild, though, I would say yarrow would be most useful. If you are out in the Shire, ginger– the whole plant, roots as well.”
Eruviel nodded as she made a mental note of them. “Very well. I hope to get out again tonight or tomorrow. If you think of anything else leave a note with the tanner. He will know where to find me.”
Laerlin switched her mug to her other hand, glancing across the room to where her husband was being interrogated by an exceptionally cheery hobbit. “There are certainly a dozen different herbs that could be useful, but I would say concentrating on searching for one would be most useful, and if you find something like clover and sage and so on while looking, then collect it, but . . . well, yarrow may be most useful if this continues to get worse.”
Eruviel chuckled and took a sip of her ale. It was disgusting. Giving the mug a distasteful frown she set it back on the counter. “You will have them, my friend.”
“Thank you, Eruviel. I should join Darramir, but I appreciate this,” she said with a kind smile, lifting the satchel. “Stay safe.” Giving Eruviel one last nod Laerlin hurried across the room to rescue her man.
Glancing to the two of them Eruviel swallowed and headed back outside. Patting the small statue of a ship in her pocket she strode down the steps, squaring her shoulders against the death and the dark.