The Undying Lands - (chapter 45)

With another day's journey ahead of them, the girls were daunted by the elves behind them, what could be in front of them, and, for Ariengil, the company they were in. She felt uncomfortable with Nimtheryn constantly watching her, and always trying to make conversation with her. She felt flattered that he was so worried for her, and constantly looking out for her, but Ariengil also began to find the continuous sideway glances and insignificant comments annoying.
The three elves ran tirelessly, and Nimtheryn kept looking back to check they were not being followed. At one point he was sure of a singular person standing on the top of a hill watching the three, but when he looked back again, Nimtheryn saw nothing. He decided not to worry the girls by this, but he felt as though they were being watched regularly.
Nieninque was relieved to be away from the torturous maze of Tarma's, and she smiled and laughed as the wind tossed her hair around, stroked her cheeks and cooled her body. Nieninque felt completely free again and she was happy too. Running ahead of the other two, she giggled to herself with sheer delight at the beautiful surroundings. She stood on a fine hill, so she could see down the valley and across the plains before her. To her right, which they had been running beside, there was a lovely forest with lush green trees; yet in front of the forest there were large boulders of rock that had seemingly grown from the ground, which was of course impossible, yet there seemed nowhere that they could have come from as the land was so fertile and beautiful.
Nimtheryn fell into step beside Ariengil and smiled at her, she smiled back genuinely and breathed a sigh of relief that she wasn't embarrassed at his presence. Again, she felt the overwhelming feeling of a need to be loved- for the second time since she had lost Harma. Nimtheryn could almost feel this sheer delight of Ariengil's and he felt lost in wonder at how he could have been given such a perfect elf to love.
Looking up at Nieninque, Nimtheryn was shocked to see her running back towards them as fast as she could. What was even more surprising was that an arrow followed her and shot straight over her head, landing in the ground right in front of Nimtheryn. He snatched it out of the moist soil and shouted: `Get down.' He threw himself to the floor as Nieninque landed in front of him, and Ariengil to his side. Looking at the arrow, he was puzzled as it was not an orcs arrow, nor one of Tarma's army's arrows, yet one of their own kind's arrows.
Nimtheryn signalled to the girls and put his finger on his lips as a sign of silence. He then crawled to his right, towards a large boulder where they could hide if they were quick enough. They silently crept towards the boulder and the forest, where they would be safe as there were many hiding places, but suddenly about ten elves, clad in armour, ran up the hill and pointed their bows and arrows at the three creeping away.
`Stay where you are,' shouted one, presumably the captain as he had three white stripes across his right arm, `or we shall shoot you.'
Nieninque screamed as she looked at them, but Nimtheryn stood up immediately and stood in front of both girls. One elf cried out loud when he saw Nimtheryn, yet the captain hushed him and aimed at Nimtheryn.
`Take one step closer,' shouted the captain, `and you will be dead before you know it.'
`No,' cried the elf who had shouted out before, `he is one of ours.' With that, the elf took off his helmet and his long blonde hair fell to his shoulders again. Nieninque gave a squeal of delight and, picking herself up, she threw herself on the handsome elf. It was Mereth.
`Mereth,' exclaimed Ariengil happily, `what a pleasure this is. Tell us how you got here, and how you are in such fine company. Your armour,' she cried, `it is lovely, where did you get all of it? Tell us all, my dear friend.' She hugged Mereth happily once Nieninque had stepped back, then Nimtheryn stepped forward too. Mereth offered his hand to shake, but Nimtheryn grabbed Mereth in a strong-armed hug instead, much to his friend's surprise.
The group left the hill again, after being introduced to the three by Mereth, and they started walking down. To the three's amazement, there was an army of men and elves waiting for them. The crowds of people watching the company approach parted slightly and five elves ran towards them. Ariengil was thrown to the floor as Dînhith threw herself on her best friend. The two girls giggled and squealed as they rolled around, watched by thousands and thousands of people who were whispering at the new comers.
When Dînhith had calmed down, she stood up and smiled at her friend as Thaliondil offered his hand to Ariengil. She accepted it and was pulled up from the floor then drawn into a warm hug with her dear friend. After Thaliondil hugging her, Nárfin grabbed her friend in a friendly hug too, smiling and laughing happily. Ariengil smiled and turned to Tiuka who was just approaching, she smiled and nodded to Tiuka but preferred not to hug her as they were not very friendly towards each other. Last of all, Beleg smiled at Ariengil and welcomed her back. Nimtheryn and Nieninque had been welcomed back too, but Nieninque stayed mostly with Mereth who was smiling at her constantly. She felt embarrassed at his unending friendship and she thought she felt more for him than she had for anyone else she knew, but she was confused too so left it as that.
The group seemed to divide into couples and Ariengil found herself wishing that Harma was there more than anything, but Nimtheryn put his arm on her waist and she remembered how much she had loved Nimtheryn once and hoped it would be the same again. Dînhith and Beleg sat together; Nárfin and Thaliondil were arm-in-arm; Nieninque and Mereth kept smiling at each other; even Tiuka had someone- a very friendly and easygoing elf. So Ariengil sat with Nimtheryn and was content.
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