Chapter 8: A War Ends and a Journey Begins
Recap: The people of Ridden and their allies defeated the Northern Tribes, who have retreated to Eomas. The people of the city-kingdoms have moved their camp to Ridden and have begun preparations for another battle, this one at Eomas. Meanwhile, the king’s son Denya has threatened Ariya, believing that she is stealing the people’s favor from their king.
One early morning a few days later, Ariya awoke suddenly to see a way to avoid the impending battle at Eomas. It was not a vision; but rather the thought planted itself so firmly in her mind that she knew it to be her elven foresight. She was learning to recognize such thoughts as foresight, but was as yet unable to control what she could foresee.
She quickly walked to the small tent that had been pitched for the king. The guard standing outside the door allowed her to enter. As she came inside the tent, she saw King Renya, Duran, and Denya eating breakfast together. “Ariya Alayah, what brings you here so early in the morning?” the king asked with concern in his voice.
“Do not worry, my lord, nothing is wrong,” she quickly replied, sitting down to join them. “I have foreseen a way to circumvent another battle with the Northern Tribes.”
The king was noticeably surprised at such news. “Then what is it? And why did you not mention such a plan before?”
“My king, to answer your second question first, I am afraid I cannot control my abilities. I can recognize my thoughts as foresight when they occur, but I cannot choose when to see into the future. Now before I share my plan, please tell me: what terms did our negotiators offer the Northern Tribes after the Battle of Ridden?”
“The Northern Tribes were told to leave the city of Eomas before we went to battle again.”
“We did not try to compromise with them?”
“Compromise!” the king huffed. “They invaded our cities, destroyed our homes, and you ask if we wished to compromise? If they refuse to leave Eomas, then they will be defeated in another battle!” Ariya could see that the king had clearly become overconfident after winning only one battle. She was also saddened that he had not told her the precise terms of the negotiations–if they could be called such. He had merely said that the tribes refused to leave the city. She could not effectively advise the king if he continued to withhold such information from her.
“My lord,” she began, hoping that he was not too proud to listen to her idea. “The Northern Tribes invaded our cities because their own land is very unfertile. From what I have heard, they were barely able to raise enough crops each year to survive. They saw our fertile lands to the west, full of rivers and streams, and felt that by taking our lands they could prosper. Forcing them to return to within their original boundaries will not solve the problem; I fear it would only be a matter of time before they invaded our lands again.”
The king narrowed his eyes and asked, “So what do you propose?” knowing full well what she was about to say.
“We must give them some of our lands. They do not need much; if they are given access to the streams near Eomas, they will be able to dig irrigation trenches into their own lands. Surely there are some unused fertile lands between Eomas and the Northern Tribes’ lands that they could use as well.”
Just then Denya spoke up. “Ariya, you were the one who persuaded us to go to battle, saying it was the only way to win back our homes. Now you propose that a treaty is the only way to stop the fighting? Why did you not make this suggestion before the Battle of Ridden?” Ariya could see the challenge in his eyes, but was relieved that he was at least behaving more rationally than he had a few nights ago.
“As I explained earlier,” said she, “I only just received this–this vision, for lack of a better word. Perhaps the Battle of Ridden was meant to be: if we had not defeated the Northern Tribes in battle, they may never have agreed to a treaty. However, we must also make clear to them that another such invasion will not be tolerated.”
Denya did not answer. The king ignored his son’s obvious anger, trusting that Ariya’s foresight would prove true once again despite the fact that he did not want to compromise with the invaders. Renya sighed and asked, “And you have foreseen that such an agreement will prevent future war?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Then it seems we have no choice. I shall call my ambassadors and the king of Eomas to discuss the terms at once. Please stay and assist us.” With that, the king told Duran to find the king of Eomas, who was also in the camp. Renya and Duran both left the tent, leaving Ariya alone with Denya. The king’s son said nothing, but the look in his eyes revealed all his thoughts. He suddenly stood and left the tent, infuriated with this new turn of events. Ariya could see no reason to remain in the tent, so she walked outside and headed toward the place where the king’s council always met.
Several days later, the negotiators returned with news that the Northern Tribes had agreed to the treaty. The men from Ridden and Eomas were overjoyed that they would be able to return to their homes, while the men of the other cities agreed to stay and help rebuild the two cities destroyed by the invasions. That night there was a celebration in the camp, and the king announced that it was Ariya who had devised the treaty and thus ended the war.
Many men approached Ariya to congratulate her and thank her for preventing another battle. Ariya celebrated with the men for a while, but she refused to dance with them for her heart was heavy. Finally, she could take no more, and walked outside the city walls into the forest in the south. For the past three weeks she had kept herself preoccupied with the preparations of war; now that there was nothing left for her to do, she could no longer hold back her grief for her brother.
She sat down on the ground and leaned against a fallen tree. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she rested her head on her arms and began to cry. She did not know how long she sat there crying before she heard footsteps not far away. Recognizing them as Duran’s, she did not look up. He sat down beside her and silently put his arm around her shoulders. She leaned against him, tears rolling down her face, and he brushed away a strand of hair that had fallen out of her braids. They sat there for what seemed like hours, not saying a word, until she finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning Ariya and Duran said nothing about what happened the previous night, but rather went their own ways and joined the others in rebuilding the city of Ridden. Progress was quick with so many people working together, and after two weeks the city was nearly completely rebuilt. The city wall was repaired as well as some homes and shops, while other buildings destroyed beyond repair were replaced entirely. At the end of the two weeks, the entire group of men then traveled to Eomas. Eomas was not nearly as damaged as Ridden, and within a week the construction was complete.
After Eomas was rebuilt, all the men returned to their own cities. Word was sent to the refugees at Dunneth, and before long the women, children, and elderly returned to Ridden and Eomas. Life soon returned to normal in the land of the city-kingdoms. The king occasionally asked for Ariya’s advice on certain matters, but for the most part she was left alone to tend to her pottery shop. Many people came into the shop hoping to replace the pottery which had been destroyed during the battle, and Ariya worked many long hours to meet the demand.
Ariya and Duran continued to see each other when they could. Without saying a word they agreed not to meet for supper; the memories of the happy nights spent with Lein were much too recent. Rather, they took to walking through the fields and forests during the afternoon or evening. They often said little, being content to merely be in each other’s company. When they did speak, it was of the current events of Ridden. It was during one of these walks that Ariya learned Deilen’s wife was pregnant, and thus Duran was to be an uncle in six months.
Since the battle, Ariya had seen little of Denya. Duran said that the king’s son had been unusually quiet lately. This worried her slightly, but she did not wish to dwell on such thoughts and continued to focus on the everyday activities of her life.
One night a few months after the rebuilding of Ridden, Ariya awoke to hear a soft knock on the door. The recent battles and the attack on the East Road so long ago had made her a very light sleeper. Knowing that it was much too late for visitors, she quickly got dressed and answered the door.
“Duran, what is wrong?” she asked as she opened the door, knowing that such a midnight call could not bear good news.
Duran hushed her, then stepped inside and shut the door. “King Renya is dead,” he said quietly.
“What?” Ariya replied, shocked. She had heard no news that the king was ill. “How did this happen?”
“Poisoned by his son, no doubt,” Duran said, his eyes flashing with anger. “The king was feeling ill this evening, but no one anticipated his death so soon. I cannot stay long before I am missed; but I have come to warn you that Denya intends to have you arrested and killed soon after his father’s funeral,” he said hurriedly.
“What?” Ariya said again, at a loss for words. She had not realized how mad the prince–now king–truly was. “How do you know this?”
“It does not matter. I had to warn you now so that you could be prepared.”
“Prepared?” Ariya replied. “You surely do not expect me to resist arrest! It appears that Denya will stop at nothing to have me dead; if I were to stay I fear that I would be forced to kill him.” Duran said nothing, but she could see that that was exactly what he wanted her to do. “Duran!” she hissed, trying to keep her voice low. “The people of Ridden have seen enough death these past few months; I will not create more turmoil by killing their king! I will pack my things and leave before the sun rises.”
The expression on Duran’s face suddenly softened. “Ariya, I’m sorry. I… I just don’t want you to leave.”
“I must leave, Duran,” she replied, more calmly this time. She did not want to leave him either, but knew it would be best for the people. “And you must stay. The people trust you, and even Denya still holds you in high regard despite our friendship. You must stay to dissuade Denya from mad decisions and to protect the people from their own king.”
Duran knew that she was right; yet he could not bear to see her leave, not so soon after his closest friend’s death. “But Denya will surely seek you out! Where will you go, to Rivendell?”
“No,” Ariya answered without hesitation. “My place is in the world of men. The elves’ time is fading; I was not born to simply pass over the sea. Where I go I know not, but it will not be among the elves.”
Duran knew that he could not persuade her to stay. His heart was in anguish; he opened his mouth to speak, but could not find the words to say.
“Goodbye, Duran,” she simply said. She hugged him then quickly left to pack her things.
“Goodbye, Ariya Alayah,” he replied, unable to express what was in his heart. Knowing that he must return to the king’s hall immediately, he tore himself away and walked into the night.
As Ariya rode under the stars, she could not help but think of their parting conversation. She was grieved that she must leave Duran and knew that he felt the same way; yet she knew that it was best for the people. In time, he would understand that as well. However, her thoughts continued to return to the fateful words she had spoken: My place is in the world of men. The elves’ time is fading; I was not born to simply pass over the sea. In those few sentences, she had voiced the thoughts that had continually returned to her mind over the past few months. She had made her choice: she would be judged among mortal men.
List of Names and Places through Chapter 8
- Ambilë: Ariya’s mortal father. Chapter 1.
- Arelen: “Morning Star”; Ariya’s Elvish name. Chapter 1.
- Ariya Alayah: Translated as “Morning Star” in an ancient tongue of men; the heroine of our story. Chapter 1.
- Beredhel: “Bold Elf”; Ariya’s maternal grandfather. Chapter 1.
- Cul-Rômen: “Golden-Red Sunrise”; the name of Ariya’s sword. Chapter 5.
- Deilen: Duran’s brother. Chapter 5.
- Denya: Renya’s only son; succeeded his father as King of Ridden. Chapter 6.
- Dunneth: The city-kingdom to which the refugees of Ridden fled. Chapter 6.
- Duran: Advisor to the king of Ridden. Chapter 3.
- Eomas: The first city to be attacked by the Northern Tribes. Chapter 5.
- Isilmë: “Moonlight”; Ariya’s maternal grandmother. Chapter 1.
- Kalen: A man from Dunneth; leader of a group of archers in the resistance against the Northern Tribes. Chapter 6.
- Land of the City-Kingdoms: A land northwest of Rivendell, consisting of several small cities of men, each ruled by their own king. Chapter 2.
- Lein: Ariya’s half-brother, son of Ambilë; a smith in Ridden; killed in the Northern Tribe’s invasion. Chapter 2.
- Lómion: “Descendant of Dark”; maker of Ambilë’s ring. Chapter 4.
- Melwen: “Kind Maiden”; Ariya’s elven mother. Chapter 1.
- Peramac “Perry” Brandybuck: One of the hobbits who helped Ariya on the East Road; twin brother of Tanagrim. Chapter 2.
- Renya: King of Ridden. Chapter 5.
- Ridden: A city in the land of the city-kingdoms. Chapter 2.
- Tanagrim Brandybuck: One of the hobbits who helped Ariya on the East Road; twin brother of Peramac. Chapter 2.