The Undying Lands - bad news approaches (part 8)
The food was plentiful- there were mushrooms, apples, berries and pears to choose from, and fresh water from a spring to drink. A while later, they stood up and started their journey again.
After travelling for another three leagues, the girls dropped back a little way from the men. Dînhith was forever looking backwards at the way they had come.
'For goodness sake Dîn! What is the matter? There are two things that I have noticed- one, you are twitchy, and two, your appearance is different, though I have not worked out how yet.'
'I am sorry Arri, I know I do not seem normal at the moment!'
'Too right you- I have got it! You are wearing a cloak. None of us are, and you did not have it last night. It looks like that young man's- Mereth's brother- what was his name? Belen...Beler-'
'Beleg. And you are correct. I could not sleep and so I started singing...' She related her story to Ariengil as they approached the lake. Ariengil was a very good listener and "oohed" and "aahed" in exactly the right places. By the time they were at the edge of the lake, the men were suspicious but Ariengil knew all of the details, and so they stopped talking.
'Last one in is a rotten orc!' cried Ariengil as she began to take her clothes off. At this, the others hurried too and they all ran, splashing, into the lake. Thaliondil was the last in and so they all began attacking him and pretending to drown him. He was a good fighter though, and soon had the two girls screaming and trying to get away.
When they had got over the original excitement of the lake, they swam around slowly, looking around. The lake was large- about the size of the dining hall where they had eaten breakfast only three days ago. The water was a rich blue and was very easy to see through- not mirky in the least. There were plants growing on top of the water, in the water and on the banks. Little, harmless animals were scuttling or jumping around and birds were flying overhead, hoping for a meal from them.
Thaliondil called Ariengil over from one side of the lake. She reluctantly agreed, for she did not want more questions or another confrontation. Thaliondil, however, had a different topic in mind. 'What were you and Dînhith talking about? She has a cloak- who gave it to her and when? I feel she is not telling the whole truth.'
Ariengil laughed. 'I heard you shouting at Mereth yesterday, what was it you said? *What is it to you what they talk about?* Yes, that was it!'
'Fine then, I will just have to drown you until you tell me.' He pulled her close then suddenly pushed her underwater. She came up giggling.
'Very well, I will tell you a little. You say she is not telling the whole truth? Well, she never said a lie, so she is telling the truth! And that is all I am telling you!' She swam away quickly before he had time to drown her again. Looking around, she could not see Dînhith and wondered whether Beleg had followed them again, but saw her dressing in the woods a little while later.
Mereth and Ariengil left Thaliondil to have the whole lake to himself while they dried and dressed themselves. He too soon became bored and also left the lake.
That night, they gathered around a small fire and sung to each other and told tales, some love stories and some adventures, but all were interesting.
Dînhith excused herself from the little party and wandered off. Thaliondil was about to stop her, but Ariengil gave him a look that said not to. The three of them carried on singing, and sung the song of the Eavenstar, the song of Beren and Luthien, and the song of the Undying Lands, which seemed fitting.
Dînhith was hoping that Beleg had followed them again, but suspected that he had not, so she lay down on the ground, looking up to the stars and hummed the tune which he had sung to her, for she could not remember the words.
Presently she shut her eyes, although she still hummed, and imagined that Beleg was with her. *She could sense him, see his loving eyes, smell his lovely smell and see his wonderful face. He leant closer too her and she opened her eyes.*
She did actually open her eyes, but then had to screw her eyes shut again, for she must have been imagining things. Once again, she opened her eyes, but still she saw a hallucination in front of her- she could see Beleg, she could smell him and she looked into his eyes.
Slowly she reached up to touch him, to see if he was real. She felt his soft skin and suddenly felt really embarrassed- she must have seemed so stupid to him. Beleg laughed, took her hand and kissed it. This time, she did not recoil.
'You did not think that I would leave my cloak with you, did you?'
'No, but I did only keep it so that you would come for it,' she admitted.
'I would come anyway.' He was lying next to her now, and leant towards her and kissed her lips. She kissed him back and it felt natural to her.
'Beleg?' she asked, 'Do you really like me? You have only known me for a day.'
'My parents knew they were perfect for each other after only an hour. Yes I do like you, I think I even love you.'
Dînhith thought back to what Ariengil had told Thaliondil- *I did not love you, or anyone at that time, but I felt flattered and so I told you that I loved you too. I should not have done.*
*Am I also making a mistake?* she asked herself as she answered Beleg, 'I love you too, Beleg.'
They kissed once more, and then Beleg took off his necklace and put it around Dînhith's neck. It was made of elvin chord and had a little arrow, made of twined sticks, attached to the end.
'It is beautiful, did you make it?'
'Yes I did, I made it two days ago, somehow I knew that I would be giving it away and so I made it with my eyes closed so that it was perfect for the person I gave it to. Does that make sense?'
'My instincts were in control of my hands, so they knew who I would give it to- you- and so they made it depending on what you would like. Do you understand now?'
'I do, it is amazing. I love archery so very much, thank you.'
'Dîndîn,' shouted Ariengil from the distance, 'time to eat. Would you like to come back?'
'Just coming,' she shouted in reply, then turning to Beleg, she held his hand and asked, 'would you like to join us?'
'I am not sure I would feel welcome.'
'Of course you would, come on.' They walked back to the camp and Dînhith introduced Beleg to Thaliondil, for he was the only one who did not know him. Food was passed around- they had roasted chestnuts, berries and apples.
Thaliondil suddenly seemed really protective of his little sister and begun asking hundreds of questions. Beleg answered calmly and smiled at Dînhith a lot. Only Mereth noticed Ariengil leaving. He decided not to follow her for the time being and let her wander alone.
Ariengil sighed. She missed Harma so much. Ariengil lay down on the floor, playing with the daisies and thinking of him. She became very tired, *perhaps there is something in the pollen,* she said to herself as she dropped off.
, 'Ariengil,' said a voice. It was Harma, but she couldn't see him yet. She looked around but all she could see was mist. A gentle hand rested on her shoulder and she turned around.
'Harma. Where are we?'
'I am not sure, but I think we are both asleep. I wish you were here, in Middle Earth.'
'And I wish you were here, in the havens. It is incredible here- so peaceful, so beautiful, so kind.'
'But if I was with you then I would not notice you, because you are peaceful, beautiful and kind!'
'Harma, I think of you everyday, I love you so much.'
'I love you too, my amazing Arri.'
'When will you be coming here?'
'Soon, very soon.'
'Soon. Very soon.' Harma was vanishing into the mist but when was he coming? Ariengil had to know.
'Harma, do not leave me again. I love you.'
'Do not forget me.'
'I will NEVER forget you. Never, stay Harma, I need you.' She reached out to touch his hand as he leant forward, but too late- he was gone and she was all alone.,
'Ariengil, are you all right?' asked Mereth, who had now followed her.
Ariengil reached up to her face and felt tears pouring down, her cheeks were moist and her eyes were puffy. 'No Mereth, I am not.'
'Anytime you wish to talk, I am here.'
'Thank you Mereth.' Suddenly, she fainted- too tired to stay awake. Mereth picked her up in his arms easily and carried her back to their friends. He laid her by the fire to keep her warm and lay down nearby. Thaliondil was already asleep but Beleg and Dînhith were talking very quietly to each other. By midnight, the camp was silent.
As the sun rose, the birds sung to each other, happy that the sun was out again. The sky was blue and the clouds were a perfect white. Ariengil rose for an early morning swim alone, then rebuilt the fire and boiled some water. She found two dead fish in the bulrushes and cooked them for breakfast. The others woke to the smell of fish and vegetables. The meal was delicious and Ariengil received many compliments.
By midday, everyone was ready to set off again, but first they had to decide which way to go- should they go back to Calenarda, forward, past the lake, or through the woods to their left. They decided on going past the lake, gathered their belongings and set off. Ariengil had a strange feeling that they were being followed but Beleg was now travelling with them, so it was not him. The person or people following were not trying to hide, but had not come into view yet.
Ariengil asked for the company to stop and wait for the follower. They did so, and presently a rider approached on a chestnut mare. He jumped down and patted his horse as the friends greeted him.
'I have some bad news for one of you, who is Ariengil, please?'
'It is I.' She stepped forward, dreading the impending sentence.
~the writing inside the things: ,..., is like a dream~