The Undying Lands - (chapter 54)
As Ariengil sat, sorting through her thoughts, the curtains parted and the King jumped up. Ariengil immediately smiled and her hand began to tremble again. Eldarion announced that they were nearly at Minas Tirith and would soon be stopping. Ariengil smiled and was left alone again. Gradually she felt her eyelids dropping and she was soon fast asleep.
When Ariengil woke again, she had Dînhith by her side and was being shaken awake. `Arri you will never believe where we are,' she squealed. `We are at Minas Tirith.' Ariengil didn't have the heart to tell her best friend that she knew already, so she smiled and Dînhith continued. `Such finery you will never see again- it is wonderful. We are being treated like royalty. Come quickly, we are feasting tonight.'
Ariengil dragged herself up and got down from the carriage. Her legs were weak again and she was shaking slightly from her dream- she had been chased by Tarma throughout the whole nightmare. She looked up at Minas Tirith and gasped.
Seven tiers of fine, white stone stood before her, standing as the seat of power in Gondor. Men in armour stood along the road, flanking each side as the King prepared to enter his stronghold. He first approached Ariengil and offered his arm. She gladly accepted, and leant on the King as they walked to Minas Tirith.
A fanfare stuck up as King Eldarion entered, and an important figure announced the re-arrival of the King. Two horses were led to the King and he took the black one while Ariengil took the white. She only realised how weak and tired she was when she nearly collapsed on the horse. The horses' flanks were whipped and Ariengil found herself flying gaily along the road. She and the King spiralled up the seven tiers, right to the top where the white tree was.
As they dismounted, the King spoke. `Ariengil you must rest. Leonora will take you to the guest quarters. Have a sleep, then I will see you again for the feast.' Ariengil was led away, not realising where she was going or what she was doing and she soon found herself in a comfortable bed. Her eyes were shut as she lay down, and she was fast asleep as her head touched the bed.
~Ariengil walked through a dark forest, following an unseen guide. She seemed to know which way to go; yet she had never been there before. She wore a light blue dress that rested on her gently but felt so light that it could not be there. The cloth was as though someone had taken a strip of the sky and made it into a dress, and then draped it over Ariengil. Her hair was beautiful- it floated around her shoulders and had such beauty in it.
Ariengil saw a clearing ahead, then realised it was the edge of the forest. The sun was shining and there was an expanse of water ahead of her, the water welcoming the gleaming sun and catching the gold streaks gently. Ariengil sighed and shut her eyes as the wind tossed her hair playfully. Ariengil could smell the freshness in the air, and she felt free.
`Ariengil,' came a whisper in the air. She opened her eyes quickly, but saw no one. Once again she felt drawn towards an unknown place and she started walking along the water's edge. Sand sifted through her toes and she was relaxed as the wind helped her along.
Ariengil stopped again as she knew she had come to her destined place. A boat was tied up on a small platform by the water and someone had left his or her bag there. Ariengil felt that it would be rude to get in the boat, but she sat on the edge of the platform and dipped her toes in as the boat bobbed gently beside her. She sensed someone or something behind her, but was not afraid.
`Ariengil,' spoke a male voice from behind her. `I needed to talk to you.'
Ariengil slowly stood up, helped by a strong arm, and she turned to face Nimtheryn. She was not surprised, for she had almost expected it, and she smiled. They held each other in their arms and were content.
`Where are we?' asked Ariengil as she stepped back, but she held Nimtheryn's hands still.
`That boat brought me from the Halls of Mandos where I was for a while. It will take me back, then onto the Undying Lands.'
`So I will see you again,' cried Ariengil again happily.
`Not properly,' replied Nimtheryn. `I will be reborn in a different body. I shall be a child the next time you see me, and I will not remember you very well. Not very well at all- you will be more like a dream.'
Ariengil faltered as she took this in. `Have you seen Harma?' she asked quietly.
Nimtheryn didn't answer for a while, but he did not look jealous any longer. He looked almost puzzled, but happy; and there was another emotion that his face expressed, but Ariengil could not tell which emotion it was. `Yes,' he said very slowly.
Ariengil's face lit up happily and she didn't even notice Nimtheryn's strange reaction; if she did notice it, she put it down to jealousy. Nimtheryn smiled back and swept Ariengil into a hug. He pushed his face into her hair and smelt her for the last time; he remembered every detail about her- the rise and fall of her chest, the colour of her hair, the shine in her eyes, the beautiful clothes, her smell, and everything. Tears came to his eyes, but Nimtheryn just hugged Ariengil tighter so that she wouldn't see. When his eyes were more or less dry again, he stepped back and looked into Ariengil's eyes.
`Ariengil, I came to tell you that I love you and always will. I understand that you do not love me as much anymore- you love me as a friend, but nothing more. I understand that and accept it. All I want is for you to be happy.
`I hope you will always remember me as a dear friend, for that is what I think of you. I love you from here to Valinor and back one million times. I am totally in love with you and this departing will be the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I would give my life for you,' he said, though he looked rather mysterious as he said that. `I bid you a very fond farewell, and I love you.' He took Ariengil's face in his hands so very tenderly and kissed her soothingly, yet he seemed to fade before Ariengil's eyes as tear after tear welled in her eyes.~
`Ariengil, wake up. Ariengil,' came a frantic voice and she found herself being shaken awake by Eldarion. He looked very worried, and she sat up to find her eyes were wet and she realised that she had been crying. `Ariengil, thank Eru you are awake,' sighed Eldarion. `I was so worried. You have been crying for a few minutes. Are you all right?' he asked.
`He said he would give his life for me,' sobbed Ariengil. `Do you think that is what he did?' she asked through her tears.
`Who?' asked Eldarion in bewilderment. `Who said that?'
`Nimtheryn. He told me that he would give his life for me. He told me that. He did give his life for me, didn't he? I didn't realise that before, but I do now. He did that for me, Eldarion. For me.'
`Ariengil, I don't mean to be pessimistic, but it was a dream and not reality. Also, you weren't in danger, so why?'
`I don't know Eldarion, I just don't know. But I do know that he saved me from something. He said that all he wanted was for me to be happy. Maybe that is it, but no.' Ariengil faded out as Eldarion took her hand and looked into her eyes.
`If all he wanted was for you to be happy, then be happy and come to the feast. We will eat, drink and be merry. Can you dance? I will be having my first dance with you if that be the case.' Ariengil nodded numbly and she smiled, but her thoughts still troubled her.