The Undying Lands - (chapter 58)

The company of ten set off later- the three girls, their male friends and four servants. They all rode on horseback and the ride to Osgiliath proved to be fairly quick. Trumpets sounded the arrival of the King, and many people came out of their homes to stare. The group rode through the city, as everyone bowed to them, and to the centre.
In the centre of the city stood a building and a cemetery. They all dismounted and walked into the building, which was pale and calm. The King shook hands with a man who came up to them, looking as though he had a lot of authority. They conversed for a while, and then the King signed a piece of parchment and the group left again. Ariengil found out later that they had been in the crematorium.
`What did you sign, may I ask?' she asked Eldarion.
`You may ask, and I signed something to do with money for all of the widows.' Ariengil fell silent for she had not thought about the families who had lost husbands, fathers and brothers in the battle. She felt guilty now for thinking only of herself, and not of anyone else.
The group rode through Osgiliath, and soon left it behind as they rode into the countryside. After a while of riding, the girls spotted a secluded lake surrounded by trees. It was beautiful and they became excited, whispering to one another.
Dînhith and Ariengil had talked all of the way to the lake, without letting anyone, other than Leonora, have a word in at all. They talked about everything, but mainly the opposite sex. They talked about Eldarion first, and then Larat, and then Danlir- Dînhith's `male friend'. Danlir was very friendly and kind, so Dînhith said, and flattered Dînhith a lot. He was very worried about spending time with the King, for the previous day was the first time he had ever been in such close proximity with the King, and now he was to bathe in the same lake- he was very worried. Leonora seemed to like Larat a lot, and they appeared to get on very well too. She was very impressed with all of the flattery and smiles he gave her, and she seemed like a four year old with a new toy- she was constantly happy.
The girls dismounted and went into the greenery to change. They came out; feeling self-conscious and they all blushed slightly as the men turned to them. Each man stared at his friend and the girls giggled, blushing more and more. To break the embarrassing silence, Dînhith shouted out: `Last one in has to cook tonight!' and all of the girls ran into the water, splashing about as the cold water touched them and they shivered. The men all quickly changed and ran into the water after the maidens, but Eldarion was the slowest. He tried to regain his pride, from losing the race, but everyone splashed him and he failed.
Soon all of them were laughing and splashing around. Even the servants ventured a little way into the water, after seeing that their King was so relaxed and comfortable- they felt embarrassed at first, but followed Eldarion's example.
Larat and Leonora soon left the company of the others and went for a walk together. The others barely noticed them leave. Dînhith and Danlir were bathing in the shallower part of the lake, and talking together- occasionally there was a laugh coming from their direction, but Ariengil and Eldarion did not notice them either.
In the lake, there was a slight ledge just below the water. This was were Eldarion and Ariengil sat now, so that their legs were under water, but the rest of their bodies were above the water. They sat talking about anything and everything, and just enjoyed each other's company. Gradually the conversation ground to a halt and Eldarion suggested he began to cook. Ariengil smiled and agreed, then watched as he swam away to the edge of the lake. The servants automatically left the water and began to cook, but Eldarion told them to return to the water and let him cook- it was his punishment, he said.
Eldarion attempted to light a fire, and it was so comical to watch that Ariengil decided to help. She swam to the edge and began to help Eldarion to prepare the food. They heated up some water, then added herbs and a red powder that the servants had brought with them. They also added chopped vegetables, prepared previously, and small pieces of meat.
`Ah,' cried Ariengil as she touched the metal pan that they were using to heat the food.
`What happened?' asked Eldarion in a worried voice. `Are you alright?'
`I'm fine thank you,' said Ariengil as she shook her finger, which was now red. `I just burnt it, that's all.'
`Put it in the cold water,' replied Eldarion, and he led her back to the water and held her hand under water, even though it stung. Ariengil bit her tongue to bite back a cry, and she smiled at Eldarion. After a few minutes they went back to the food, which was almost ready, and they sat in silence. Larat and Leonora were returning, now holding hands, and Dînhith and Danlir were swimming towards the `cooks'.
`I hope it tastes perfect,' joked Danlir, who seemed quite at ease with the King. Ariengil smiled as Eldarion replied.
`You can test it, then if it is poisonous then I'll be safe,' he joked, and then he winked at Ariengil in a friendly way. The servants brought out wooden bowls, and the King poured some soup into each one. It tasted delicious- the red powder must have been made of tomato and herb, for it was perfect.
Ariengil sipped the soup from her spoon and smiled in delight. `It is delicious, how is it so good?' she asked.
Eldarion feigned sadness as he replied. `How is it so good? Did you not think my cooking skills were any good?' then he smiled and continued. `It is a special recipe that the cooks of Minas Tirith have made; I was sworn to secrecy, and if I told you it then I'd have to kill you.' They all smiled and went back to their meals.
After eating they began to pack away all of their belongings, and then the girls left their friends to change. They went back into the greenery and whispered as they changed.
`Larat is so lovely,' giggled Leonora. `He was such a gentleman, and he looked after me as we walked, then we sat and talked for ages. He keeps telling me I'm really pretty,' she blushed, `but I don't know why.'
`Because you are very pretty,' replied Ariengil, rolling her eyes.
`Did you kiss?' asked Dînhith. Everyone giggled, but Leonora most of all.
She brushed her hair behind her ears and looked up at the elder girls. `Yes,' she whispered, then blushed desperately and turned away. Dînhith and Ariengil looked at each other and squealed happily, then grabbed Leonora in a hug. She was surprised, but pleased, and they all laughed and smiled together.
`What about you Dînhith? What did you and Danlir do?' asked Leonora.
`We swam about a little and chatted a lot. It was very nice,' she replied. `But I felt a little uncomfortable, probably because of losing Beleg so recently.'
`That's only natural though, Dîndîn, you don't need to worry. Just relax with him, and if you are suited to one another, and if you like him, it will all be fine,' replied Ariengil.
`But he's a man, and lives in Minas Tirith, I'd never see him then even if I did like him. I don't want to get too close to him so that I'm sad when we leave.'
`When we leave,' repeated Ariengil. `Do you mean to leave soon then?'
`We cannot stay here forever, Arri.' They began walking back to the men, who had changed too, and Ariengil repeated that to herself. `We cannot stay forever.' She looked up at Eldarion, who was smiling at her, and she felt herself smile back although she was thinking of Dînhith's words constantly: `I don't want to get too close to him,' and `we cannot stay forever.'
The ride back seemed very quick to Ariengil, and she realised how quickly her time was being spent. Dînhith was correct: they could not stay in Minas Tirith forever, even if Eldarion asked them too. But he wouldn't- he was sure that the prophecy could not be changed, and, although he had said he loved her, Eldarion would not let Ariengil stay forever.
That evening, Ariengil did not go downstairs, but lay on her bed hugging a blanket to her and thinking of Eldarion, Harma, Nimtheryn and Tarma. Her life had changed so drastically since she had left the Undying Lands. She had expected to always live in the Undying Lands with Harma and her friends, but it had all changed and so much had happened. There were obviously some good points about leaving the Havens- she had met Nieninque, Malta, Eldarion and many more friends, but she had lost many too.
She drifted into a sleep and did not wake as Eldarion came into the room. He sat by her bed and moved her hair away from her face, and tucked it behind her delicate, pointed ears. The King sighed and stroked Ariengil's cheek, before kissing her pale skin delicately. She stirred but didn't wake. Eldarion began to sing softly as he stroked her arm softly.
`Vanimle sila tiri ar cormamin lindua ele lle,
quel kaima tenna ento lye omenta.
Amin mela lle ar amin hiraetha tanya lle merna auta.
Ta nae amin saesa omentien lle ar cormamin niuve tenna ta elea lle au;
Sut an merna ta?
Aa' menealle nauva calen ar malta.
Lle naa vanima ar lle naa i mela en coiamin.
Lle merna omenten?
Quel esta ar quel kaima.
Amin mela lle.'
`[Your beauty shines bright and my heart sings to thee,
Sleep well until we next meet.
I love you and I am sorry that you will leave.
It was my pleasure meting you and my heart shall weep until it sees you again.
How long will that be?
May your ways be green and golden.
You are beautiful and you are the love of my life.
Shall we meet again?
Rest well and sleep well.
I love you.]'
Ariengil slept on and when she woke, she thought she dreamt that Eldarion had visited her and sung to her, yet she remembered the words and held them dear in her heart.
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