The Undying Lands - (chapter 65)

The sun filtered down through the trees, warming all that it touched. All around the forest of Lorien, trees stood tall and proud as they sheltered everyone beneath their branches. Ariengil rose at midday and was immediately surrounded by her friends who were very concerned about her. After a brief meal, Ariengil demanded to see her sister.
`Where is my sister? Where is Elen?' she demanded. Elrohir ran forward and took Ariengil's arm. He silently led her away from everyone else and towards a building in the centre of the forest.
As Ariengil entered, she gasped. They were in the medic's centre and it was silent. `Why are we here?' she asked breathlessly.
`I am afraid that Elen is injured badly. She has been struggling to live and is in between life and death. I am sorry,' replied Elrohir. He opened the door and motioned for Ariengil to enter.
Stepping in, Ariengil looked backwards at her new friend, but he nodded in encouragement and she continued forwards. The door shut behind her as she proceeded towards a table with a maiden lying there. She had long, blonde hair but it was matted with blood and draped over her bare shoulders.
Ariengil took the sleeping girl's hand and stroked it gently. Her hand was pale and cold, but her fingers twitched as Ariengil warmed them. Looking at her sister's body, Ariengil had to blink back tears. Elen's face was bruised and cut; her arms were scratched and a bone protruded from one; across her stomach, there were three deep gauges; and there was very little skin on her legs.
`Elen,' breathed Ariengil, looking at her younger sister. As a baby, Ariengil had been found by Kiemen, her father, and had grown up with her older brother. She had had such delight and happiness when Elen had been born, for now she not only had a playmate but a friend too. She remembered their first archery lesson together, and the first time they rode their horses. These memories seemed to reach Elen through Ariengil's hands, for Elen gradually opened her eyes.
Looking up at Ariengil, Elen almost shook her head. Her head lolled to the side and she looked around in a dreamy daze. Ariengil smiled at her, but Elen looked through her and shut her eyes again.
`Elen,' she whispered, `it's your Arri. I'm here. I've travelled Middle Earth, as we always said we would. It's me.' Elen gave a groan, though not in recognition of her sister.
Ariengil gave a start as Elrohir entered behind her and spoke to Elen. `Look Elen, your sister has come to see you. She looks like a princess. I think one day she will be a princess. You will like that, won't you Elen?' he asked her. She still did not respond but coughed in her sleep. She looked so weak and helpless and Ariengil longed to lean down to hug her and hold her close.
`Yes, that's right Elen. I need to tell you my stories too. You'd like to hear them-' Ariengil stopped because it was unbearable. She sat down beside her sister and tears came to her eyes. `Be brave for her,' she thought to herself. A couple of tears leaked out and streamed down her cheek, but Ariengil brutally brushed them away. If Elen woke, Ariengil did not want to be seen crying.
She sat in silence watching her dear sister twist and turn slightly, always in excruciating pain, and completely oblivious to Ariengil. The young maiden stood and leant down to her sister. She kissed her forehead gently, and left in tears; Elrohir ran after her.
`Ariengil, please be with her in case she wakes. She would want you there,' he called.
`She won't wake though, will she?' cried Ariengil. `She did not know I was there, and if she felt a presence, she did not realise it was me. When I kissed her, she was unaware of me. I don't want this to be the last memory I have of her- I don't want to always see her dying in my mind when I think of her. I love her so much, and she is all I have left. I can't do it.'
`She might not die,' murmured Elrohir, though there was not much hope in his voice. `If you stay with her, she may come to feel you there and will have a stronger will to live. Please.' There was a light in his eyes that flickered with such a reverence that Ariengil had to look at him again.
`You loved her, didn't you?' she asked sadly.
`I still do, Ariengil. She loved me too, but there is one that she loves more.' Ariengil looked at him inquisitively, so he continued. `She loves you more. She constantly talked about you and how she missed you. The day your brother died, she swore to find you and bring you home. She has managed that now, though she does not know. Please go to her and let her know.'
`I shall go to her,' replied Ariengil. She made as though to continue, but thought better of it and turned back to the room. With a determined look on her face, she entered again. For the rest of the day, and into the night, she held her sister's hand and willed for the Valar to give mercy and spare her sister's life.
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