The Undying Lands - (chapter 63)

Ariengil separated herself from the others slightly, as they rode, for they all rode in couples- leaving her alone anyway. She did not mind so much, although she felt a twinge of jealousy and sadness. However, she decided not to dwell on sadness and thought of the happy times she had spent with Harma, Nimtheryn and Eldarion.
`Oh, Harma,' she sighed. She knew in her heart that Harma was the one she would choose of the three if she had to, but she had no choice to; and she never would have that choice either. Harma had been her soul mate, and as she rode Ariengil realised that no one could replace him- not even Eldarion. `I thought I loved him,' said Ariengil aloud, `but over time I am not so sure. I will lose the pain of losing him. Yet I still feel the pain of losing Harma. Poor Harma. Valiant Harma. Harma, my love,' she whispered to herself.
The group rode for a few hours, paused for lunch, and rode on again. They reached Cair Andros as night crept in. The company did not go onto the island of Cair Andros, but near it. They crossed the river Anduin and found a small town nearby. Here they chose an inn to stay at, and they put their horses in the stables.
The innkeeper was very friendly, if a little dubious about letting seven elves lodge there. His voice was kindly and slightly humorous for there was constantly a smile on his face.
`Now then, seven elves. You can stay in the rooms up thar,' he pointed down a well-lit corridor to a few rooms. `Nice an' comfortable, they are. You'll be wantin' nice warm drinks, I s'pose, or a big mug o' beer. So come on down to the room down here an' please us with ya presence. Please sirs, madams, if ya don't mind. Maybe you fine people can give us a song; I've heard that elves sing good. Very good, yes,' he murmured as he walked away. The elves wandered along the corridor and found their rooms, which were pleasant and comfortable. They had nothing else to do, so they did as the innkeeper had asked, and they went to the large room.
There were tables and chairs situated all around the room, with a main table in the centre for many guests to socialise together. There was just enough room for most of the elves there, so Thaliondil and Mereth stood while the others sat. One man shouted out as he saw them standing.
`Oi, come on mates,' he cried to his friends. `Move up and let the fine men sit, come on.' All the men shuffled along, creating a little more space and allowing everyone to be seated. The talk wasn't particularly interesting to the girls, but the others joined in and laughed along with men.
Presently a young man called for a story or song. No one volunteered to tell a tale or to sing, so he stood up and stepped onto the table. `Fine then, I'll tell a story I heard yesterday. I heard that there was a witch-' all of the Gondorian men roared with laughter at such an absurd idea, but the young man put up his hands, calling for silence. `You heard me,' he called, `a witch... in Gondor.' Such an outcry came, and many men stood up, trying to push the younger one off the table.
`Silence,' came the bartender's voice. `Let him continue. This is a good windup,' he laughed.
The man nodded in thanks and continued. `She came to the city of Minas Tirith because the King took her fancy.' All of the men laughed, roared or wolf-whistled now. `She wanted to make the King love her, but he wasn't having any of that. So she tricked him.
`Tricked the King of Gondor? You may ask. But she did. She is an evil and scary elf, begging your pardon sirs and madams,' he said to the elves, `but that is what I've heard, so I'm just telling my tale if you understand.
`Anyway, she tricked him with her scary eyes. She tricked him, but someone got her and locked her away before it was too late. But they say her spirit can move places. It can move away from the city, whether she stays or not, and it likes to go to inns, and take the men there and kill them in their sleep,' he cried. Again everyone roared with laughter, yet some people looked into the corners of the inn for this scary elf.
The man jumped off the table, and received many pats on the back, and an even younger boy jumped up. A protest went up immediately. `Get off, we don't want your singing again,' they cried. Yet he boar the insults and waited for silence.
`I've heard the same tale,' he shouted. This instantly stopped any complaints. `I heard a song,' and again the complaints started. `Alright,' he cried, `not a song, but a limerick. Do you know what that is?' he asked a random man. The man shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. `A little poem,' he laughed.
`Well get on with it then,' shouted someone.
`This scary elf is fair,' he began,
`With very long, blonde hair.
Her bright green eyes
Trick all of the guys
As she lures them into her lair.'
There was an racket as every person in the room, with the exception of a few of the elves, roared with laughter, slamming their beer mugs down and stamping their feet. The young boy had become a hero instantaneously for only a short and simple poem.
Ariengil looked sideways at Dînhith, who was also roaring with laughter. She turned to Ariengil and patted her on the back. `That sounds like you Arri,' she giggled. `Long, blonde hair; the King; but no green eyes, that is a shame. I thought you were a witch,' she cried. Ariengil did no find this remotely funny, and she glared at her best friend. Dînhith immediately stopped laughing, wiping the tears from her eyes. `Sorry Arri, it was a joke. Of course it isn't you,' she said.
`You think they're not talking about me? All tales have a little truth in them,' she shouted above the din, `and this one is based on me. I've had enough,' she screamed as she stormed out of the room. Not many people noticed her leave, as another man stepped onto the table to tell his version of the `witch' story. Dînhith stood to leave, but Beleg grabbed her hand.
`Leave her. She is very emotional at the moment and just needs to be alone,' he said, trying to help. Dînhith smiled appreciatively and stayed where she was, listening to the third man.
`I've heard that she has black hair,' he shouted, `but is so powerful that she can change her appearance as she wishes. She can even become a man- one of you could be her. You,' he screamed, pointing at an old man who was sitting alone, drinking his beer. `You are her,' he cried in laughter. Dînhith let the laughter and conversations fade away around her as she began to think of Ariengil again.
Someone shook her a while later. `You. I ain't heard ya talkin' much. Why don't ya give us a tale, eh?' Dînhith gave a cheeky smile and agreed, standing delicately on the table.
`Now you might have had enough of this witch,' she began. A cheer of approval rose, which she stopped immediately. `So I won't tell you a whole tale of her, but I will tell you the truth about her; and then I will sing something for you, or tell a different tale, is that alright?' The cheers confirmed this, so she began. `This `witch' is actually-' Mereth slammed his hand down and shook his head in warning, but Dînhith continued meaningfully. `She is actually- What Mereth?' she asked as he stopped her again. `They deserve to know the truth,' she shouted, yet she winked at him slightly at the same time. `She is actually a spirit. A spirit that was brought back from the dead by a child who was playing around.
`The little boy was playing by a lake, and he fell in, screaming for help. He was sucked under the water, but did not die for the spirit saved him. She said to him that she would only save him if he would release her from the lake. He did so, and she rose from the dead.
`As the spirit left, she took the body of a young girl of Gondor. And you know the rest- she tricked the King until he caught her and threw her into the dungeons. So there you are, the true story.' There was no cheer or roar of laughter, but every man seemed shocked and puzzled. Then suddenly there was a loud round of applause for the elven maiden.
`Hip hip, huzzah,' cheered one man, and the others followed suit. Dînhith blushed with happiness and embarrassment. She could not believe that they had all bought the story so well, but so it was.
`Sing for us, madam, please,' shouted out one small boy. Dînhith obliged, and serenaded the inn, which was so quiet as she sung that her clear voice could be heard all the way down the road outside. Ariengil heard it, and her anger relaxed slightly. She lay back on the bed and fell asleep listening to the same song as she had sung to Harma once.
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