The Undying Lands - (chapter 32)

When Ariengil woke again, it was dark and she could tell she was on a horse. Her first thought was not as to where she was, but as to how Nieninque was- for all Ariengil knew, she, too, could be dead.
Her head throbbed badly and she had bruises down the left side of her body from where she had fallen off Tarma's horse. Her long, blonde hair was tangled and caught up in her tunic, causing her head to hurt even more if she turned her head.
However, Ariengil did not turn her head too much for Tarma would realise she was awake, so she coped by looking out of the corner of her eyes. She noticed Nieninque slumped forward on a black horse, in front of a tall man. Ariengil, despite her situation, couldn't help noticing that the man looked quite nice, but then blushed as she realised she was betraying Harma. Still, maybe there was some hope and he could be helpful to the two girls later on.
Ariengil wanted to see where they were travelling to, so she lifted her head very slightly and looked forward. A sigh escaped her lips as she realised that they were riding across a barren wasteland that stretched for miles, until it stopped at a cliff edge. There was then a huge gap, which no being or animal could jump across, and yet another cliff on the other side. The other cliff, however, after the steep drop, gradually got steeper so that no animal could climb it.
With such a complexed path ahead of them, Ariengil was sure that she and Nieninque would never be found. That is, if they did not die before they had finished travelling this dangerous path.
With all the dust kicking up around the horses, more of which Ariengil could now see, she breathed in some of the filth and it tickled her throat. `No, I can't cough now, please no!' Ariengil thought to herself. But to no avail, she gave a slight cough and automatically felt a rough hand on her shoulder.
`Awake are we, my pretty?' came Tarma's cruel voice. Ariengil turned around slightly with tears in her eyes and looked at Tarma with such hatred and disgust that he had nothing to say.
Tarma turned Ariengil away from him with shock running through his body. For what seemed to be the first time in his life, Tarma felt guilty and ashamed. `I have hurt this elf so badly, just by killing the one she loved,' thought the evil being. `I wonder what it felt like to be loved so much. I wish I had someone to love me like that.' But suddenly Tarma felt disgusted with himself again. `What am I thinking? No one loves me- even my family betrayed me and hated me. I was no one, but I will be some one- and everyone will love me. That is how it will be. I could have a Queen to rule beside me if I want... Ariengil might love me. No, she will love me, I'll make her; but I won't love her back.'
Ariengil shuddered as the elf behind her laughed evilly, then went back into his own thoughts. Now that he knew she was awake, she could look around without Tarma caring.
Glancing around, Ariengil saw that they were leading a horde of horses, mainly black, of around three thousand. All the riders were elves or men, but they were unlike any that Ariengil had met.
Every person wore long, dark slacks under their uniform of a black overcoat and a black, red and mauve cloak. Their faces were partially covered by a metal helmet, covering both eyes, the bridge of their nose and a cheek. Hair flicked out from under their helmets, in whips of dark filth, occasionally catching in their scraggly beards. Every rider was dark skinned with dark, menacing eyes glaring out through two slits in the helmets. They were tall and rode well, perfectly adjusted to their own horse, which had a name on their bridle.
On Tarma's horse, the bridle was black with a silver, glowing nameplate. `Fury.' Ariengil could tell why the horse was called Fury, as it danced along the ground in a temper. Every few steps the stallion took, his rider would reach down and lash the horse to make him ride faster. The more this happened, the friskier the horse would be, but still it rode on with persistence.
Looking up again, Ariengil realised that the cliff edge was very near now, only a few more seconds and they would reach it. However, it looked as though none of the horses were slowing down, and their riders were just trying to urge them on, rather than stop them.
Turning around completely, Ariengil looked Tarma in the eyes. He had a wicked smile on his face and his eyes were lit up with glee as they came closer and closer to the fall.
`Stop,' screamed Ariengil to Tarma. But the evil elf acted as though Ariengil had not said a word, and whipped Fury once more. `You are going to kill us both,' Ariengil shouted again, `stop it.'
With a final hit of the whip on Fury's flanks, Tarma made the horse leap into the air. Ariengil looked around frantically and saw every horse doing the same- their riders all smiling happily; they were all maniacs.
`We are all going to die,' was Ariengil's last thought as she looked around at the crazed men. Shutting her eyes and thinking of Harma in her last second to live, Ariengil prayed to Eru.
`Eru let me rejoin my love and-'
Ariengil's eyes flicked open, and everything was dark. Not a sound was heard, not even her own breathing made a noise. `This is what it is like when we die then,' thought Ariengil.
Just as she was about to move, a crash was heard and suddenly there was light. Not light like the sun, but light from a torch of fire. Ariengil suddenly realised she was not dead at all, but inside a cave with every other rider who had jumped.
`Welcome,' a cruel voice sniggered from behind Ariengil, `to my humble abode.' Tarma spread his hand out and showed the poor maiden the cave in front of her. The cave stretched on for miles in one direction, whilst on the right there was no wall, but a big clearing. Looking down, Ariengil saw thousands upon thousands of elves, men, orcs and Harschnaks. Many were working, others were eating, and some were fighting.
Tarma smiled and kissed Ariengil on the cheek. As she pulled away, Tarma grabbed her jaw and pulled her towards him. `Don't struggle, my lovely Queen, this will all be yours one day,' he smiled. Tarma brutally brought Ariengil closer to him, so close that she could smell his horrible breath, and then he kissed her on the lips amid the cheers and wolf whistles of his companions.
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