"The Treasure of Her Keeping"
There is a dragon
whose eyes cast a spell of forgetting,
and whose breath carries sleep.
They bring her the broken knights
after battle, the ones
who cannot stop weeping
over what they have done, the ones
not even the mindhealers can help.
It is a hazard of the elves,
who live so long
and have such perfect memories,
but the dragon knows what to do.
She catches them gently
with her jewel-green eyes,
slips her spell in with tender skill
before they can quite move to block it.
It is easier to remove the harmful memories
at this early stage, so that they don't have time
to solidify into pearls and thorns
in the back of the mind.
She breathes over the enchanted knights,
sending them deep into a drugged sleep
where nightmares cannot reach them.
They sink down to the padded surface of her nest,
their hair spilling around them
in strands of silver and gilt.
The dragon swaddles each one
in his own cocoon,
spinning them with care.
They lie piled against her warm flanks,
curled like eggs, each of them
wrapped in layers of dragonsilk,
its magic sustaining them
while they sleep and heal.
The dragon coils herself around her charges,
brooding over them as they rest.
It may take weeks for them to recover, or years --
she has some who have slumbered
for centuries now --
before they hatch out into their new lives.
She is jealous of their safety,
ferocious in their defense.
Sometimes enemies have come
to threaten this sanctuary,
but none have ever left alive,
nor succeeded in disturbing
the treasures of her keeping.
The newest knights whimper a little
in their sleep, and she soothes them,
breathing over the still-damp silk
to help them settle.
She turns the older ones with her nose,
easing them into a new position.
There, one shell is beginning to harden
and the dragon licks it with careful strokes,
silk slowly turning to nacre.
She waits, infinitely patient,
for the healing process to be complete.
* * *
PTSD is bad enough for humans. Add a much longer lifespan and eidetic memory, and you can see why elves would require special care. Closely related, acute stress disorder appears immediately after trauma.
People have tried various approaches to preventing PTSD. It's basically a condition of memory gone haywire, so if there were a way to prevent the memories from encysting like that, the problem wouldn't arise.