The Undying Lands - (chapter 33)

Ariengil had never felt such an intense feeling of hatred in her life, she felt disgusted at being touched by a murderer, and to have his cut, dry, repulsive lips caressing hers, Ariengil suspected she would become nauseous.
As she managed to wrench her lips away from Tarma, Ariengil shook with fear and grief, and as the vile elf touched her lips with his fingers, she drew back and spat in his face. However, far from being aggravated, Tarma seemed to enjoy it and wiped the spit from his cheek and licked his finger where it rested.
`I like you, you are feisty,' murmured Tarma, then he cheered and his companions joined in, hustling around Ariengil, as close as they could with their mounts, and some even trying to kiss her arms and cheeks as she squealed in terror.
After a few minutes of Tarma watching in pleasure, he shouted at his men and they all stepped back. Tarma wrapped his arms around Ariengil and took the reins of his horse. With a sharp whip, they were galloping through the narrow cave, very close to the edge, through the darkness and with the hundreds of horses following quickly in pursuit.
At one point, the horse slipped on the gravel and a hoof slipped off the edge, but it quickly regained balance and galloped on. Ariengil found herself not caring whether or not she survived this dangerous ride, for her predicament at present seemed worse than death.
No sooner than Ariengil had thought this, though, they stopped abruptly in an open cavern with ten passageways, excluding the one they entered through, leaving the cave at different angles. Tarma dismounted and looked up to Ariengil, offering his hand.
Without even looking at Tarma, Ariengil slid easily to the ground on the opposite side to him but fell over, as her legs were unstable. Ariengil felt strong arms lift her up and help her to stand, but she could not see the man until he stepped back- it was the good looking rider who seemed nice and Ariengil had hopes that he would help them later.
`How dare you touch her?' shouted Tarma angrily to the man.
`I'm sorry sir, but she fell.'
`Do I care? Leave her be- she is not to be touched now.'
Ariengil looked up in surprise, but Tarma did not notice and mounted the horse that was her support, so she automatically fell back to the floor again. The tall man looked at Ariengil sadly before mounting too and looking to Tarma for orders.
`There are eleven passage ways here, one we will leave by. You may choose any passage way you wish, and follow the route down there. One route leads to a cliff edge, one leads to the way out of here, one leads to my chamber, one to the dining hall and the rest lead to parts of this maze of tunnels.
`I hope to meet you again, my pretty.' With that, the company left as swiftly as they had arrived.
`I hope you die, filth,' screamed Ariengil through her tears. One man, and one man only, looked back at Ariengil. His face was solemn and sad as he saw the pretty being sitting in the dust, her eyes red and her face streaked with tears.
When the last man had left, a loud bang was heard and Ariengil looked up to see a metal gate shut behind them, which slid down from the rock and fastened tightly. Ariengil cried aloud and pushed herself upwards. She ran to the gate and felt around for any gaps, but realised she could not move it at all; she was trapped.
Lying down, Ariengil tried to calm herself and convince herself that everything would be all right, but she broke down and cried as she realised it was hopeless.
Thinking again, Ariengil grasped the fact that she had a slight chance of escaping, a one in ten chance, and she ought to try to leave if possible. `But I'm so tired,' thought Ariengil, `I'll have a nap first, as no one will disturb me here, then I'll leave.' Contented that there was some hope, Ariengil lay down and shut her eyes. But very soon, she breathed in a liquid, rather than air, and woke up suddenly.
Ariengil was surrounded in water, and if she did not stand soon, she would drown. Quickly she jumped up and looked around. Unsure of where the source of the water was, Ariengil splashed around a little, frantically. The water was not deep, and it would need to fill all ten passages and the cavern too, so she was not completely worried, but the water was coming fast and it didn't seem like Ariengil would have long.
Ariengil looked speedily down most of the tunnels, and chose a random one to go down. She took the third on the left, and ran.
But as soon as Ariengil had taken two steps in, she realised she had chosen incorrectly- the air was bad, the floor was uneven and there were sounds coming from the end.
One thought possessed Ariengil- turn back. But, when Ariengil spun around, she saw the gate shutting, and she was once again trapped. There was one choice to make, and that was to move on.
Several times, she tripped and fell into the water and cut her hands on the sharp rocks beneath, staining her tunic with the blood that she wiped off. For what seemed like hours, Ariengil trekked through the water and the rough ground until she came to an interchange.
Unsure of a way to take, and worried that another gate may snap shut, Ariengil paused and looked each way, as far as she could see, and smelt the air too. There were two ways that smelt fresher than the other, and one of those seemed to be a fairly safe, rock less path.
True to her guess, the moment that Ariengil had stepped over the boundary to the left tunnel a gate snapped shut behind her, which still caused her to jump in shock. This route was easier, as it was not rocky, and the air was fresher, but it was uphill too.
On she walked, crying as she went, hoping beyond all hope that she would be safe. But dark thoughts crossed her mind- even if Ariengil could escape; who would she have to turn to? No one. Harma was dead and he was the only one who loved her, he was the only one she loved.
`Don't be stupid,' shouted Ariengil to herself. Her voice echoed down the tunnel and the sound reverberated for a few minutes. She calmed herself and spoke again, quieter now. `You have all of your friends. And Nimtheryn would look after you, stop being silly Ariengil.'
Ariengil looked up suddenly as she heard someone shouting. The voice was not too far away, but she could still hear it fairly well. `How dare you? ... got away. You will pay for... with your life. Now go, find...' Ariengil could not hear all of the words, and it seemed that only the important words were blocked out. She stopped and listened again, but no sounds came.
As Ariengil turned the corner, she saw a dimmed light behind a coloured cloth. Ariengil gasped and fell to the floor- she had chosen the wrong way and had ended up somewhere in the maze. Ariengil wished to herself that although she was still in the maze, she could be anywhere but the bedroom of Tarma.
Between her sobs, Ariengil tried to think of a plan that would work if she were outside Tarma's bedroom. But her head ached too much and she was in pain, her tears stung her painful cheeks and she cried harder and harder.
Suddenly the cloth at the end of the tunnel was ripped to the side and a dark face appeared in the light. Ariengil shuddered and her skin crawled as she recognised the scar across the being's face. Tarma.
As the elf advanced towards Ariengil she screamed in shock and tried to move backwards. But Ariengil's legs seemed not to be working and, try as she would, she could not move further away. Tarma, who had now reached Ariengil, grabbed her by the arm and lifted her up.
`Good choice sweetheart,' he laughed and pulled her into the room ahead. Throwing Ariengil on the floor, he smiled and turned back to the cloth that he drew shut quickly.
Ariengil looked frantically around, her eyes darting from side to side as she briefly examined the room. There were two escapes- the tunnel from which she had just come, but that had a locked metal gate at the end, and a big, wooden door that was the exit to the room.
A bed was placed in the middle of the room, but there was not much else other than a chair and a desk; a used plate, knife and fork where placed on the desk. In a flash, Ariengil jumped up and grabbed the knife and turned to face Tarma. As Tarma turned to face the maiden, she jumped forwards with the knife aimed at his heart.
Tarma's quick reactions led him to be saved, but the knife was deflected and slit his lip slightly, causing blood to trickle down his chin. Enraged, Tarma grabbed Ariengil's hand as she drove the knife forwards again with disgust in her eyes. Ariengil screamed as Tarma twisted her arm cruelly. Ariengil promptly twisted her whole body to stop her arm from breaking, but now she was vulnerable with her back to Tarma. Ariengil had not even a chance to blink before she found her hand, still carrying the knife, against her throat.
`Now we don't want that, do we?' panted Tarma as he wiped away some blood from his lip. Then, turning towards the door, he shouted. `Eala, come here.' Ariengil watched as a man entered- it was the man who had helped her up earlier. `Why did you not take away the knife and fork? No, don't answer because there is no answer- you are just incompetent. Now take them and go.' He threw the knife towards Eala, who caught it deftly in his hand.
As Eala turned to go, he looked sadly into Ariengil's tearful eyes, but Tarma was watching and he was forced to leave. As the door shut Ariengil felt all hope leave her and had she no support, of Tarma's vindictive arms around her waist, she would have fallen to the floor.
Tarma did not even speak to Ariengil, but threw her to the bed and strode over to her. Tarma faltered as Ariengil whimpered for he looked like a dark shadow towering over her, closing in as the darkness fell.
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