The Undying Lands - (chapter 27)

Recap: As Harma turned around, Nimtheryn moved his hand away and Harma saw nothing of the look that Nimtheryn gave Ariengil- his lush blue eyes sparkled and his lips formed the words, `With love.' Once more, he stepped away, leaving Ariengil on her own to contemplate what he meant.

A little further along the way to which they were heading, the four riders drew to a stop. Once more, Mereth laid Nieninque on a bed of moss and, once more, the men left to find wood. Ariengil did not see which way they went, but waited for a while until they would be quite far from her.
Leaving Nieninque alone, Ariengil headed into the middle of the forest to be alone. She walked for a while, but stopped as she thought she heard a sound. Looking around, she saw nothing with her elf eyes; and everything was silent, other than the birds, so she decided nothing was there.
Sitting down, Ariengil picked a flower from beside a tree. It was beautiful- it was light pink with tinted edges in dark pink and the pollen was a cherry colour and it smelt heavenly. Smiling, Ariengil placed it in her hair and it sat there comfortably.
Ariengil jumped up as she heard a sound from the left- someone was approaching. Quickly, Ariengil scaled the tree next to her and sat as still as possible, looking down to see the person.
Ariengil sighed in relief as she realised it was Harma, but she still did not want to talk to him at present, for she needed to think about her feelings for Harma and for Nimtheryn, so she sat tranquil. When Harma had passed, Ariengil looked about her. She was not high up and she wished to see more of the view, so she stood up on the branch and looked up.
Suddenly she gasped and had to grab hold of something before she fell. Nimtheryn was sitting at the top of the tree; smiling down at Ariengil- he had obviously noticed her approaching and then climbing the tree.
`Come up here Arri,' he called softly. Ariengil debated this for a while- on the one hand, if she left now, she would never know her feelings and Nimtheryn would feel offended if she ran away; and on the other hand, if she climbed up, there might be a confrontation and something more could happen.
At length, Ariengil decided to climb up to Nimtheryn; anyway, she enjoyed the feeling of being so high- it gave her a sense of power. Slowly, she climbed up and as she climbed, she thought of something to say to Nimtheryn- a way to start up a conversation. She thought of nothing and all too soon, she was next to Nimtheryn.
She settled herself on a fork in the branches and rested her feet, for they were on a sort of platform that had formed naturally. Nimtheryn smiled nicely at Ariengil and they sat in silence for a while.
Both started talking at once- `Do you...' and, `Why were...' and both stopped when the other started. There was an embarrassing silence before Ariengil spoke.
`You first,' she offered.
`No, Ladies first,' replied Nimtheryn, chivalrously.
`Thank you... Why were you the one who volunteered to come to Gondor with us?' asked Ariengil finally, after thinking this for the whole day.
`I... isn't it obvious?' Ariengil shook her head, so Nimtheryn continued, `I wanted to be with you.'
`But... I'm with Harma now,' Ariengil bowed her head, ashamed that she had hidden from Harma earlier and was now sitting in a tree with Nimtheryn... who she once knew... but she needed to stop thinking about that, she decided.
Nimtheryn placed a finger and thumb on Ariengil's chin and gently lifted her head to be level with his. Ariengil looked into Nimtheryn's eyes and saw her past, her happiness and her sadness there. Tears started to well in Ariengil's eyes and she blinked frantically, trying to rid herself of them.
One tear slipped out of Ariengil's eye and made it's way down her cheek. Nimtheryn moved his hand and, with one finger, traced Ariengil's lips and then travelled to the tear, which had now stopped moving.
Nimtheryn lifted the tear with his finger and it rested on his fingernail. Slowly he clenched his fist and moved his hand to his lips where he rested his hand and sat there, staring into space.
Ariengil sat, still and silent, watching Nimtheryn as more and more tears fell from her now wet eyes. Nimtheryn was currently fiddling with a ring that he was wearing. It was a silver band with lines of blue across it and a small, engraved sun in gold at the top.
Ariengil saw the ring and gasped. `You... you still have it. I gave it to you... two thousand years ago...'
`One thousand, nine hundred and seventy-two years ago,' corrected Nimtheryn. `I remember it well. You said you loved me...'
`And I did... I still do sometimes.' Ariengil was leaning on the branch to her left, watching Nimtheryn's every move.
Nimtheryn looked at Ariengil intently. She had not changed very much since he had last seen her, but now she was stronger, more confident... and had a different lover. But Nimtheryn could not stand being without Ariengil; he had loved her even though she had... *But it doesn't do to dwell on the past,* thought Nimtheryn. *I must think in the present.*
Slowly, Nimtheryn stood on the type of platform in the tree and walked forward slightly. Offering his hand to Ariengil, he pulled her up. Ariengil cried out as she stepped on an uneven part in the tree and almost fell. Swiftly, Nimtheryn grabbed hold of Ariengil and placed his hands on her hips; she placed her hands on Nimtheryn's shoulders and they stood for a minute looking at each other.
Slowly Nimtheryn leant forward, towards Ariengil, and placed his lips on hers. Ariengil was shocked, but found it pleasantly surprising and kissed Nimtheryn back again before she realised what she had done- what about Harma?
Quickly, Ariengil pulled back and pushed Nimtheryn away but as she did this, she slipped and toppled backwards over the platform. Nimtheryn shouted and reached out to grab Ariengil, but was too late. She fell half way down the tree, but managed to grip onto a branch.
The branch slowed Ariengil down but bent under her weight and she felt herself slipping once more. The last thing that Ariengil thought was, `Now this is going to hurt!'
Ariengil landed on the ground and heard a loud crack before she passed out. Nimtheryn scurried down the tree, shouting for Mereth and Harma at the same time. He ran straight to Ariengil and knelt beside her, checking for injuries.
`Urgh,' Nimtheryn said, disgusted as he saw Ariengil's leg. It was obviously broken, but not as badly as her arm which was covered in blood and the bone was piercing through the skin.
Harma and Mereth ran through the forest and were at Nimtheryn's side very quickly, but could do nothing to help- especially Harma who was crying and shaking Ariengil, trying to get her to regain consciousness.
`Harma!' shouted Nimtheryn, `Stop it. If you want to help, get four strong sticks about the length of the bottom half of your leg. Mereth, you go and get some rope while I find some big enough leaves...' The three ran off in different directions and returned with their required equipment soon.
Nimtheryn took the small branches and laid two next to Ariengil's broken leg. He then took about six of the greenest leaves, that Mereth had ever seen, and placed them around Ariengil's leg. He then took the elvish rope and managed, somehow, to tie the branches and leaves around Ariengil's leg as a splint.
Nimtheryn then did the same for Ariengil's arm while Mereth examined the leaves. They were very large and shaped as ivy leaves, but were brighter green. The under sides of the leaves were furry and had little green hairs all along, to keep heat in and were very soft. The other side of the leaves was not as furry, but was dark and had protection against water, for it had started to rain now and the leaves just let the water bounce off, without wetting the other side.
Soon Ariengil had a splint on her left leg and right arm and could be carried back to the camp. Harma volunteered to do this, but Nimtheryn did not allow him because he was still shaking with shock, so Nimtheryn carried back Ariengil gently and carefully.
Ariengil was now awake, but as she opened her eyes, she saw that she was in Nimtheryn's arms, so she shut her eyes again quickly, although she was in pain, and pretended to be unconscious.

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