As the riders travelled, they felt the wind blowing fiercely against them, but the sun, too, beating her rays down on them. Nature wrapped her arms around the paths and forests that the travellers passed, and the sun contended with her friend, the wind, in a competition of heat and a breeze.
They heard birds, animals and the trees surrounding them in soothing sound, surpassing the impending war.
Barely any creatures were seen, but those that they did sight were of particular beauty and their presence was amazing. They passed three wonderful rivers, each with its own tale of bubbling rapids and flowing sounds of water over stone.
Within a few days, the company had reached the breathtaking mountains of the south. They were the White Mountains and were truly spectacular, with slopes of crisp, glittering, white snow that looked untouchable and precious.
The travellers passed between the mountains and across another river and found themselves in Gondor. They wondered at the beauty and splendour of the place and found themselves in awe.
As the five elves travelled, they looked at the countryside and gazed at the trees for they were fascinating. Suddenly, a horn was sounded from somewhere amongst the trees and within seconds, the small group was surrounded by people.
There were men with spears standing close to the horses, to frighten them, and men and women on horseback around the inner circle.
One man sat more upright in his saddle and addressed the elves. `You are welcome in our lands if we know who you are, and what your business here is.’ He was tall, with blonde hair, which was cut short enough for a helmet to cover it. His beard was scraggly and he looked as though he had not washed for a few days.
`We are elves, friends of men, what is the problem with us?’ asked Nimtheryn roughly.
`There is nothing wrong with you, sir,’ replied the warrior, with a slight bow, `but it is my job to ask questions.’
`Please forgive my friend, sir. I am Harma, son of Malar, and I fought beside the noble King Aragorn many a time and we respect this land. We wish it, and you, no harm whatsoever,’ interrupted Harma.
At this, many of the soldiers bowed their heads and stuck their chests with their fists, murmuring, `Bless him, Eru,’ as they thought of their deceased King. The leader then dismounted, walked towards Harma and took his hand in his own and clasped it.
`You are very welcome. What is your business here?’ he asked.
`We must speak to the King, with all urgency,’ replied Harma hurriedly.
With no further ado, the company, including a few horse riders, the leader included, set off towards Minas Tirith. They travelled until night fell, when they were sixty leagues from where they left, around the Gilrain River.
They had discovered that the leader was called Anrad, and the other travellers who had accompanied the elves were called Harnal, Letri, Marnat, Darmoon and Sirnal. Two were brothers, and all of them travelled as rangers and scouts.
Ariengil was rather unnerved by Anrad, as he was constantly staring at her. Sirnal, too, was rather besotted with Ariengil, but was quite a lot more obvious than Anrad, as he would run to the camp before everyone else and would make Ariengil a seat of moss, or he would fetch her fresh water, or would help her over a log.
She found this very sweet, but fairly annoying. It didn’t help that Harma was jealous again, but he was overcoming this obsession of protecting his love, and was calmer when Ariengil talked to other men. He rode by Ariengil, though, to show that she was spoken for, and they often glanced at each other affectionately.
Nimtheryn would also watch Ariengil’s every move, and found Sirnal’s and Anrad’s interests in Ariengil somewhat frustrating. Ariengil, however, ignored Nimtheryn as much as she could.
The two brothers, Sirnal and Harnal built up a fire and everyone gathered around to keep warm. Ariengil, however, excused herself and wandered up the river, out of sight of the others, to bathe. Harma looked up as she left, but made no move to follow, as he respected Ariengil and figured that she wished to be alone for a while.
When Ariengil found a nice, sheltered part of the river, she shed her clothes, and slipped into the water. She gasped and laughed at the pleasure of the water that was soft and pleasant to the skin. Ariengil swam around for a while and then ducked under the water to soak her hair.
When Ariengil emerged, she swam back to her tunic and felt around inside the single pocket for a powdered herb. She took a little of it in her hand, which frothed as it came in contact with the water on her palm, then the elf massaged this into her scalp until her hair was rid of any grease and dirt.
Once more, she bobbed beneath the water, and shook her head around to rid her hair of the herb. Once done, Ariengil stood up straight and looked around as she had the feeling that she was being watched.
She was correct, for her eyes locked with Anrad’s as he sat in a tree nearby. He smiled and leapt down gracefully. Ariengil promptly sunk lower under the water, so that only her face was visible.
`How long have you been here?’ she asked, embarrassed.
`Long enough,’ came the strange reply.
`Why are you here?’ questioned Ariengil.
`I wanted to see you.’
Ariengil couldn’t think of a reply to this, but did not worry as she heard footsteps approaching and could tell that they were Harma’s.
`You may wish to leave; the man that I am devoted to is arriving,’ Ariengil told Anrad. He turned around, looking in all directions, but nodded curtly and ran off. Presently Harma arrived.
He, too, shed his clothing, as Ariengil prayed that Anrad had actually left, and he slipped into the water alongside Ariengil. Harma leant forward and kissed Ariengil romantically on the lips, and ran his hand through her wet hair.
The couple swam around for a while until they were thoroughly clean, and then jumped out. They dressed in the sun, to dry quickly, then turned back to camp.
As they walked along, Ariengil once again had the feeling of being watched, but dismissed it, as she expected it was Anrad again. Looking at Harma out of the corner of her eye, Ariengil smiled happily to have such a great love inside of her. However, as she was watching Harma, half way back to the camp, she did not see a shadow following her. Suddenly someone jumped out of the bushes behind the two elves and grabbed Ariengil, with one arm around her neck.
Ariengil screamed in shock, which she hoped alerted the others at camp, as Harma whipped around. His face did not enlighten Ariengil at all, as it was a look of shock, hatred and worry.
Ariengil heard a knife being unsheathed and then she felt the cold bite of steel against her neck. She shuddered and stepped backwards onto her captor’s foot. He shouted loudly and slapped Ariengil roughly on her face.
Harma stepped forward in anger, as Nimtheryn, who had been walking, ran into the clearing. He stopped straight away with a pained look on his face as he looked at Ariengil. He grabbed hold of Harma to stop him from attacking Ariengil’s captor, but then looked from Harma to the captor and back again. The two were so similar that if the captor had no scar down his cheek, then they would be identical.
Harma started to reason with the captor, `Tarma,’ he said calmly. `You don’t want to do this.’
`Oh don’t I, brother,’ he spat as Ariengil squealed. `I think you are very wrong. I have the upper hand here- I have the beautiful maiden, I have the chance to kill my kin, which I have been looking forward to for so long, and I have an army at my beck and call.
`So do you still think I don’t want to do this?’ he cackled evilly.
`Please, think again,’ cried out Nimtheryn. `Don’t hurt her.’
An evil grin appeared on Tarma’s face as he reached up his other hand and stroked Ariengil’s cheek. She shuddered at his touch and tried to pull away, but his grip was too firm.
`Don’t worry, I think I will keep her,’ laughed Tarma. He paused, and then spoke again. `And the other one,’ he grinned again.
`The other one. What do you mean, the other one?’ asked Nimtheryn as Mereth ran into the clearing and stopped. He looked around and quickly realised that Nieninque was not among the group. Tarma nodded knowledgably and laughed again.
`What have you done with her?’ shouted Mereth, but there was no reply other than a scream in the distance. `Don’t hurt her, let her be,’ he begged.
`I’ll think about it,’ sniggered Tarma as he stepped backwards, dragging Ariengil with him. Ariengil gasped as the knife slid into her skin and drew blood. `Woops, I forgot, I’m not supposed to hurt you, am I?’ he sneered. Then he took the knife away from Ariengil’s neck, although he kept a tight grip on her, and tipped it up so that the blood trickled to the bottom of the knife. A single drop of blood fell to the floor and everyone present watched it in disgust, all bar Tarma who seemed to enjoy everyone else’s pain.
`Goodbye then,’ he shouted as he dragged Ariengil into the forest.
`No, wait Tarma,’ shouted Harma. His brother stopped and looked Harma straight in the eyes. `Take me, not her.’
`Take you? Now there’s a thought. But what would I do with my brother… Let me see, how about I kill you?’ he snorted.
`Yes. Kill me, not Ariengil,’ retorted Harma.
`Ariengil, now there’s a pretty name. This is a good offer you give me, Harma. Come closer and you and your little love, here, will swap, then.’
Harma strode forward, ever with his eyes on Ariengil. Their love was expressed just through that single gaze as Ariengil silently pleaded with Harma not to sacrifice himself. Harma’s eyes were strong and resolute though, and he stopped within two metres of his brother.
`Let her go, then you may kill me… brother,’ he spat.
Ariengil’s eyes filled with tears as she watched her love so defiantly offer his life in replace of her own. She wanted so very much to scream out, to stop Harma from doing this, but her throat was dry and no words would sound.
Tarma, however, had no pity and looked his brother in the eyes. `You don’t think I could kill you, do you?’
`No, Tarma, I do not think you would have the heart to kill your own brother,’ admitted Harma, but he stood upright anyway.
`Then watch me,’ laughed Tarma sadistically as he withdrew the knife from Ariengil’s neck, leant backwards, and threw the knife with all speed directly at Harma’s heart, all in one quick, swift movement.
The knife proved to be fatal and struck Harma directly in his heart. Blood poured from his chest, staining his tunic, and Harma could only look down in shock. Ariengil found her voice and screamed and cried for all her life was worth.
`No! Harma! NO! I love you, I cannot be without you. This cannot be. Harma! NO! I love you,’ she screamed as she beat her arms around, struggling to free herself, but Tarma pulled her backwards as he took out another knife and held it to Ariengil’s neck.
Tarma laughed as Harma watched Ariengil being dragged away, helpless to save her or himself, oblivious to Tarma’s evil laugh and unable to comprehend Ariengil’s screaming.
Harma sunk slowly to his knees, with his hands around the knife, and, looking into Ariengil’s eyes, he whispered, as Ariengil was silent to hear him. `I would have loved you until the end of time.’
As Harma’s eyes misted over, Ariengil was being borne away by Tarma, to a waiting horse. She looked back just as Harma collapsed completely, but she was unable to do a thing. She was now choking on her tears, almost unable to breathe, but was being lifted onto a black horse and could do nothing to object, her mind was screaming for Harma, for her soul mate but no sound came out.
Tarma also mounted, and leant forward to tie Ariengil’s hands. Ariengil was too weak to object and could not even speak. She just collapsed onto the horse’s neck, with the picture of Harma lying on the floor in her mind, torturing her.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.