The Undying Lands - (chapter 31)

Last Chapter: Ariengil was too weak to object and could not even speak. She just collapsed onto the horse?s neck, with the picture of Harma lying on the floor in her mind, torturing her.

Chapter 31:
As Tarma shouted to his horse to ride, the remainder of the elves who had travelled with Ariengil and Harma, ran into the clearing screaming and shouting. They all stopped when they reached Harma and it took them a few seconds for recognition to sink in. Suddenly they realized that one of their friends was lain, dead, on the forest floor and one was captured and taken away against her will.
In the time it had taken for Ariengil's friends to realise their situation, Tarma, Ariengil and the horse were out of sight, hidden by the tree's long branches. The sound of hooves hitting the ground was gradually lessening and the only other sounds were of the birds above and the wind signing her song.
Ariengil tried to sit up as she heard her friends' war cry, but straight away she felt a hand between her shoulder blades. A very hard blow later, she was unconscious.
Back in the heart of the forest, the elves were crying over Harma's corpse. They ceremoniously picked up his warm and fragile body and carried it to a sheltered tree. There, they lay him down gently and took flowers and strew them over the body carefully.
As the elves stepped back, they said their farewells. Mereth began, as he had known Harma the longest, although it had not been a long acquaintance.
`Harma was a kind, considerate and respected elf. He was always a nice person and thought of others before him. He loved Ariengil so very dearly and I will do all I can for her to avenge his death.'
Nimtheryn then spoke up. `I knew Harma for a very short time, and although we had a small, unspoken rivalry, as we have both loved the same beautiful woman for a long time, I respected Harma and found him to be a very good companion. I will avenge your death, Harma, and I will look after your loved one as you did yourself, although I will never live up to you.'
Then Anrad stepped forward. `Harma helped to save us from a terrible fate of being evil creatures forever and serving his evil brother who has no right to be called an elf. Harma was noble and thoughtful; I will avenge his death.'
As one, the eight elves shouted, `We will avenge his death.'
Tarma, and Ariengil in her half-unconscious state, heard this war cry and Tarma leant forward to his horse, `Noro lim,' he whispered and the horse sped up. It swerved to the left and they galloped through the greenery towards a light clearing where there was something lying in the middle.
When the three reached this clearing, the horse stopped and Tarma dismounted quickly. He ran up to a body lying on the floor, just as Ariengil awoke. She shook her head gently as a pain in her head came suddenly, but she looked up in pain, only to see Nieninque lying on the floor with Tarma standing over her.
`No,' gasped Ariengil, in disbelief. Tarma ran back to his horse and leant up to Ariengil with something he had just pulled out of his pocket. He wrenched Ariengil's mouth open and forced something small and white in, then he held her mouth shut and stopped her from breathing until she had swallowed the white thing in her mouth.
Ariengil experienced, first of all, an unpleasant taste in her mouth, of herbs, then she felt dizzy and everything blacked out. The last thing she remembered was Tarma's insane smile and Nieninque lying slumped on the floor.

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