The Undying Lands - (chapter 40)
`Arri, what is it? Tell me,' cried Nieninque.
`What did I do?' asked Ariengil breathlessly.
`You were screaming for Harma most of the night. It must have been very terrible for you to be crying constantly for him.'
`It was Nieninque,' gasped Ariengil. `It really was.' Sobbing, she leant on Nieninque's shoulder and cried.
`I heard earlier that Eala has gone from here. He has left, for it was not safe for him.'
`Gone?' asked Ariengil as she looked up. `But he was going to help us. No!' she gasped in shock.
`It is true, I am sorry. We must rely on our own judgement now. I also heard Tarma talking to someone, and I am sure he said the name Nimtheryn, that means Nimtheryn is still alive.'
`Good. It is today that we must leave,' replied Ariengil. Nieninque just nodded.
Later, after they had dressed and eaten the food that had been brought to them, Ariengil sewed her dress that had been ripped the day before. She found the stone that Eala had given her and wondered whether he was hiding.
The two girls took their dresses from the ball, a loaf of bread each, which they had also been given, their hairbrushes and a dagger each. Nieninque found the daggers under her bed, which she presumed Eala had left for them. They put their few belongings in a bag each, and Ariengil lead the way.
The two girls ran to the nearest door, one that Ariengil recognised, and they ran through the passageway. At one point, Ariengil heard someone coming and pushed Nieninque into a neighbouring corridor, following quickly. They heard two people talking as they walked, talking of war. From the conversation, they gathered that the war was to commence that very day, as there were men and elves from Gondor, Rohan and elven realms gathering nearby.
Later on, stepping out of a door with the number twenty painted on it, Ariengil looked at the dungeons. Somewhere in there, Nimtheryn lay, possibly wounded. Stepping up to the wall that Ariengil knew hid the hiding place, she took out the black stone and held it in her palm.
`One moment, Nieninque, I have to think of someone I love for this to work,' whispered Ariengil.
*Harma ran to Ariengil and swept her into his arms, the two laughing happily as they gazed into each other's arms. Harma let go of his love and stepped back. He called into the woods.
`Tarma, come out, stop hiding,' he laughed.
Ariengil looked inquisitively at Harma, but smiled and took his hand as Tarma stepped out of the woods. Ariengil had never seen such similarities in anyone she had met before. The two elves were identical in every single way.
But Ariengil could tell the two apart- Tarma had a sad look upon his face; a look of jealousy and hatred. He hated Ariengil and she knew not why.*
`Ariengil?' asked Nieninque quietly.
Ariengil looked up and realised she was crying. Crossly, she wiped away the tears and gazed at the wall. There was no veil, she had not managed it, as she had thought of Tarma instead.
`I will try again,' said Ariengil irritably.
*In the distance, Ariengil could hear Harma calling her, urging her to hurry. The two had decided to travel for a few years, and they were leaving soon. Running through the forest, Ariengil smiled happily- there was no one who could ruin this now.
Harma stopped shouting and Ariengil ran on. She stopped, just before the edge of the forest, leading out to the fields beyond. It was beautiful, and the most beautiful thing about it was that she and her love were to explore it alone.
Looking around, Ariengil did not see Harma at first, but he was sitting on the grass, gazing happily at the scenery.
Suddenly, Ariengil heard a shout, a cry of anger. Out of nowhere, Tarma appeared, brandishing a dagger. He was shouting, although his words were not quite comprehendible to Ariengil.
`No,' shouted Harma. `Leave us alone, Tarma. I know you are jealous, but there is nothing you can do.'
The words that Harma spoke just angered Tarma further. He ran forward with the dagger, planning to strike Harma. Just before Tarma struck Harma, Harma dodged out of the way. Tarma's surprise was obvious, and he fell to the floor, the dagger falling seconds before him.
The dagger hit the floor and turned as Tarma fell to the grass. The dagger struck his face and cut deeply into his cheek, leaving a cut with blood pouring. This cut would go on to be a scar.*
`Ariengil,' whispered Nieninque.
Ariengil realised she had, once again, thought of Tarma, not of Harma, and the hiding place did not appear. Very angry with herself now, she sighed and shut her eyes again.
Nieninque took the stone from Ariengil and put it in her own hand. `Let me, Ariengil, you are too cross now.'
The maiden was about to object, but felt the tears on her face and realized her friend was correct. Within seconds, the veil appeared in front of the girls and Nieninque opened her eyes smiling. She stepped forwards and went through the veil. Ariengil stepped forwards, but heard a shout seconds before.
`Wait, you are wanted by Bruminor.'
Ariengil wondered whom the man was talking about, but quickly realised it was Tarma's name. She looked from side to side- she had taken too long and the veil was gone; she had no choice but to run.
Opening the first door she could, the number nineteen door, she ran as quickly as possible. The man did not follow, but ran through a different door. As Ariengil ran, she realised she had chosen a door leading to the dining hall, how many people would be there now, she did not know.
As two corridors joined each other, Ariengil tripped. Surprised that she did not touch the ground, Ariengil looked back. She realised very quickly that she had been caught by the man chasing her.
`Not a good idea, Ariengil,' came a smooth voice. Ariengil looked up in shock at the soldier. Distinct blue eyes and blonde hair told Ariengil that none other than Nimtheryn had caught her.
`What do you think you are doing?' spat Ariengil as she tried to push Nimtheryn away. Each time Ariengil pushed the elf, he brought her closer to him, until they were so close that they could see each other's every feature. Ariengil stopped struggling as she remembered every moment that had passed between the two of them.
`I am saving you,' replied Nimtheryn. He leant even closer, his lips moving towards Ariengil's.
`Saving me?' screamed Ariengil, leaning backwards. `You think you are saving me by taking me to Tarma. Well you are not, so I would rather you let go... of... me.' Her voice faded as she looked into Nimtheryn's eyes and her heart fluttered. Ariengil seemed to melt in Nimtheryn's arms, as she relaxed suddenly.
`I am,' he murmured, `saving you.' With that, he leant forward and stopped, a hair's breadth from Ariengil's lips. She breathed in, savouring the smell of Nimtheryn, and taking in his every detail. `I am saving you,' he said again, his lips gently brushing Ariengil's as he spoke, `from yourself.'
The two kissed passionately, holding each other in the dark passage. Later, Ariengil told herself time and again that it was Nimtheryn who had kissed her first, but she was not so sure whether she was telling herself the truth.