The Undying Lands - (chapter 51)

`I need five men, NOW,' shouted the King. At least ten men appeared by his side, ready for his orders. Of the ten, the King selected five- one was Nimtheryn- and they listened to his commands quietly and without question. They split up and went to either side of the forest, and crept in quietly. Each had a single arrow and their bow with them.
Tarma dragged Ariengil into the forest and as soon as they were concealed from view, he grabbed the collar of her clothes and pushed her along in this way. Ariengil purposefully stumbled her feet to slow them down, but Tarma cut her arm for causing them to be slow. Ariengil grabbed the cut on her arm and her hand wandered down to the arrow mark in her hand. Slowly, whilst running, she began to unravel the cloth around her cut. When the cloth was a long piece of cloth, she wrapped one end around her left hand, and the cut, twice and wrapped the other end around her right hand twice. In the middle, she had a length of cloth that was quite strong.
Ariengil shouted at the top of her voice and, with all of her strength, ripped away from Tarma's grasp by turning to the right, away from him. She quickly put the length of cloth around Tarma's neck and held it tightly.
`Don't move, you piece of dirt, or I will strangle you to death,' snarled Ariengil.
`Now you wouldn't want to do that,' said Tarma in a strained voice.
`And why would that be?' screamed Ariengil. She was so livid that she was already beginning to tighten her hold on the cloth. Tarma choked slightly and Ariengil loosened her grip for she still felt for Tarma a little- the time they spent together at the ball in his evil maze was nice; when they were younger he was sometimes kind; and Ariengil did not think it was a good idea to kill the only thing of Harma that she had left.
`Because you cannot kill me, I can tell.'
`I can kill you,' replied Ariengil, although she was not so sure of it herself, `and I will kill you if I must.'
`Ariengil, my dear,' murmured Tarma in a voice so similar to Harma's that she had to shake herself mentally. `You and I are so good together,' continued Tarma and he put his hand on Ariengil's leg gently. `We compliment each other and we work well together, can't you see that?' He stroked her leg gently and Ariengil began to feel dizzy- she had lost so much blood earlier, and now Tarma was tricking her by talking like Harma, so he was almost becoming Harma before her eyes as she became dazed.
`Hmm? What did you say Harma?' asked Ariengil, and her arms rested on Tarma's shoulders, gently slacking the cloth. She felt faint and was swaying slightly as she listened to Harma's voice in her head.
`I love you, Ariengil. You and me- Harma and Ariengil,' cooed Tarma.
`Uh huh,' whispered Ariengil as Tarma turned to face her. `Harma and Ariengil-' she collapsed into Tarma's arms, though her hands were still tied so she just sagged in his arms, mumbling to herself.
Tarma lifted Ariengil's arms over his head, untied her hands and retied them tighter so that her wrists were tied tightly. He then lifted her into his arms and started walking away from the now finished battle, with the dainty maiden with him.
`Don't move, don't turn around and don't speak,' came a cry. `I have an arrow aimed at your back and if you make the slightest move, I will shoot.' Tarma stopped walking and looked at Ariengil who was now sleeping peacefully. A plan quickly formed in his head, yet it involved hurting Ariengil again- either emotionally or physically- and he could not bear to keep upsetting her. The voice came again. `Put the girl down, then put your hands on your head and turn around.'
Tarma turned slowly around, with Ariengil in his arms, and laid her carefully on the ground. He felt her forehead, which was hot, and smoothed out her hair. Standing again, he turned to the elf who had spoken. `Aah,' he said as he recognised the elf. `Nimtheryn. Still trying to be the hero, aren't you? You may be the hero from time to time, but you will never be the hero in her heart,' Tarma nodded to Ariengil as he spoke. Nimtheryn flushed with anger, but remained where he was, with the arrow aimed at Tarma.
`What would you know?' shouted Nimtheryn. He looked uneasily around as though looking to check that no one was listening. `She loves me, and if she doesn't then she will because I look after her. She loved me once and she will again. Now put your hands on your head before I lose my patience and shoot.'
`Now you wouldn't want to hurt Ariengil, would you? So put the bow down.' Tarma spoke with a slurred voice that was slightly hypnotic, but Nimtheryn knew what Tarma was trying to do so he was strong and did not listen to Tarma if he could.
`I won't hurt Ariengil because the arrow is aimed at your heart, not hers. Now be silent.'
`But you will hurt her because she loves me, and not you. Would you like to know why she loves me?' Without waiting for a reply, Tarma continued. `I am the only remaining piece of Harma, and she wouldn't be able to hurt me or see me hurt. She still loves Harma, yet she will love me in time. Me, not you.'
`If you say one more word, I swear that I will kill you,' shouted Nimtheryn. He ground his teeth as his right arm shook, pulling back the arrow. He held it there for a few seconds, but again he relaxed the bow and held onto the arrow.
`No you won't, Nimtheryn. Put the bow down and think of Ariengil,' Tarma took a step towards Nimtheryn with his hands in front of him now. `She may have loved you once, but she does not now and she never will.'
`No,' thought Nimtheryn to himself, `do not listen to him. He is twisting your mind and confusing you.'
`Put the bow down because if you hurt me, you will hurt Ariengil too. You don't want that, do you?'
`One step closer and I will fire,' warned Nimtheryn. But, again, Tarma took another step forward and Nimtheryn did nothing to stop him. Inside his head, Tarma's words were tormenting him and he had to shake his head to sort out his thoughts.
`You can't get rid of your problems by shaking your head, Nimtheryn,' continued Tarma as he took another step closer. He was almost beside Nimtheryn now. `Ariengil is helpless, Nimtheryn, and she needs a strong man to be at her side. I am that man, not you. Look at her now- she is a weak and helpless maiden.' Tarma turned to look at Ariengil, but as he turned his back to Nimtheryn, he felt a fist strike his face.
Everything went black for a second and Tarma fell to the floor. When he opened his eyes again, he saw Ariengil standing over him. She had taken Nimtheryn's bow and arrow and was aiming it at Tarma with a look of malice on her face. `Stand up,' she spat. As she spoke, Nimtheryn looked sadly at Ariengil and ran away, back towards the battlefield.
Tarma obliged and kept his eyes on Ariengil for the whole time; her face was set and remained unchanged as she glared at him. She was very pale and obviously weak, as her arms were shaking with the weight of the bow, yet she was determined not to avert the bow from Tarma's chest.
`Ariengil,' whispered Tarma in a defeated and pleading voice. He held out his right hand to her, but his left hand was sneaking down his leg to a dagger that was cleverly concealed. Ariengil spotted the movement and demanded that Tarma stopped moving. He did so, but stepped towards her. `Ariengil, my dear,' he murmured, his voice as smooth as honey, `you do not want to do that to me; you do not want to do that to us.'
Ariengil was weak to Tarma's affluent voice and she shut her eyes as he moved closer. She trembled as the cruel elf stepped next to her and rested his hand on her arm. Tears welled under Ariengil's eyelids as she felt Tarma take the bow and arrow from her hands. He put the two objects on the ground and put his arms around Ariengil, she cried into his chest and was helpless to everything.
Out of nowhere, three archers jumped out and aimed their single arrows at Tarma. He put his hands up but Ariengil stayed where she was, oblivious to everything and everyone else. One elf came up to the couple and took Ariengil away gently. She continued to cry helplessly, but when she realised where she was and the company she was in, she quickly recovered. Tarma was being led away with two arrows aimed at him.
`Wait,' cried Ariengil. She ran to Tarma and gave him a quick kiss. `I'm sorry,' she said. She stepped away again and the elves maintained their exit, with Tarma at their arrow points. The elf with Ariengil began to lead her back to the battlefield to meet her friends again. When they were out of sight, the archers made Tarma kneel on the floor. They bound his hands roughly with some cord that had and then aimed their arrows at his head again.
One elf kept his arrow aimed at Tarma's head while the other took out his sword. Placing the blade on Tarma's neck, he spoke: `Do you have any last words?'
Tarma shook his head gently and the elf raised his sword. As the sword was brought down, Tarma quickly moved his head backwards and kicked the other elf in one quick movement. The sword sunk into the ground and the arrow was shot at an angle, and Tarma jumped up. The swordsman scrabbled around on the floor, trying to pick up his sword quickly. With a well-aimed kick, Tarma knocked out the elf on the floor and turned around to head-butt the other elf. Both elves fell to the floor instantaneously without more than a groan. Tarma knelt to the ground again, with his back to the sword, and began trying to undo his bonds.
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