That evening, the elves stayed at Bag End for the night, in Merry and Pippin’s hospitality. They talked late into the night and the elves narrated their tale to the younger hobbits, who returned after dark.
As the sun rose the elves woke to hear birds singing and hobbits laughing. Hobbits were early risers and sizzling bacon was on the table as Ariengil entered the kitchen. She smiled gratefully, but helped herself to eggs and tomatoes instead. Harma came in and kissed Ariengil gently on the cheek. She blushed red, but the hobbits turned to each other smiling at Harma’s affection.
As Harma and Ariengil ate, Nimtheryn came in too. He sat opposite Ariengil and smiled. `Mereth will not eat for he thinks Nieninque will be waking soon,’ Nimtheryn told the others.
`Not to worry,’ smiled Pippin, `I’ll take him a plate. Sausages, tomatoes, nice crispy bacon,’ he said and smiled broadly as he put food on a plate.
Mereth entered smiling. `We’ve saved some for you mister Mereth,’ said Merry, giggling. Pippin put down the plate as Mereth sat down, but then he doubled over, laughing. Merry helped his friend up and the two hugged each other, laughing and slapping each other on the back.
`Saved some for you mister Mereth, good one Merry,’ murmured Pippin. Then the two became hysterical again and laughed until tears came to their eyes. Everyone else just watched, completely confused. Slowly the two old hobbits controlled themselves and stood up, only to see everyone’s blank faces.
`Sorry, it’s just… On Weathertop…’ Merry tried to explain.
Acknowledgment dawned on Diamond’s face, as she understood. `When they were… you know… travelling and… fighting, they were on Weathertop- it’s an old story, but they’re just remembering the good times, let them be,’ she mumbled happily.
`Nieninque is waking,’ mentioned Mereth happily, and he turned around to look back at Nieninque, who’s eyes were open now, but she was confused as she had no idea where she was.
Nieninque slowly looked around the big room that she lay in. It had bookshelves across one wall, with books of every shape and size. Across another wall was a picture, a map, of Middle Earth, and someone had drawn a route from Hobbiton to Mordor. This was presumably the route that Frodo had taken to arrive at Mount Doom.
A desk, near Nieninque’s head, was covered in scrolls and quills. An inkpot was open, with a quill protruding from it, next to a big blue book, bound with beautiful blue ribbons.
Nieninque turned completely around and saw, behind her, a large window that was semi- circular and took up the majority of that wall. Looking through it, Nieninque saw fields of crops, mostly corn, spreading across the view. There was a great, old forest to her left, in the distance, and a river too.
Hobbits were scurrying around the middle of Hobbiton, most were heading in the direction of a market where a very fat hobbit was shouting out his prices. Hobbit children were being pulled along by their parents, to buy new clothes or a new hairbrush. Children, who had not been caught by their parents, were running around with their friends, climbing trees or playing a game of chase.
Nieninque suddenly realised that she was in the Shire and smiled happily as one child waved at her. She waved back before the child was picked up by his mother and carried towards the market. Nieninque looked at the boy’s face, which had a distinct look of sorrow now on it.
Nieninque heard the bushes rustle beneath her window, so she leaned forward and looked down. A little head popped up and Nieninque screamed, then the little child ran back to his friends. Mereth ran to Nieninque and laughed with her at her shock of the boy, who was now telling his friends excitedly that he had seen an elf so close.
Nieninque turned to Mereth and smiled gratefully for all he had done for her. Mereth smiled back and offered his hand to Nieninque. She took it and Mereth led her to the kitchen for some food.
Everyone welcomed Nieninque and she sat down carefully at the big table. Nieninque was still weak, but at least she was awake- that was some benefit.
After breakfast, Harma thanked Merry and Pippin greatly, but announced that they must leave for they must hurry to Gondor to speak to the King. At this, Merry and Pippin bowed their heads, for they knew King Aragorn, now deceased, very well.
`If you are in a hurry, there must be something important you need to tell the King. What is it?’ asked Pippin, in his manner- which was fairly rude.
Mereth answered quietly, and in a hushed tone. `Middle Earth is at war.’
`What?’ exclaimed Pippin, then he questioned further. `How? With who? Why?’
`An elf, who has betrayed all good races of Middle Earth, called Bruminor the Black has decided he will try and destroy this Middle Earth by going to war. He was once called Tarma, and he was once my brother.’
Merry slowly sunk into a chair and murmured, `It has begun again.’
But Pippin was still not sure. `Once your brother? But if he is still alive, then he still is your brother, and you should never denounce your family- never, not even if they are terrible.’ Diamond elbowed her husband in the ribs and he promptly fell silent, with a murmured, `Sorry.’
Harma nodded at Pippin in acknowledgement, and turned to get his bag. Diamond quickly went into a large cupboard and brought out a nice round cake. `Take this with you, it’ll keep you going.’ Ariengil accepted it and placed it in her own bag as Mereth helped Nieninque back to where her bag lay.
Once the five elves had their bags ready, they left Bag End to fetch their horses, which were tethered at a stable nearby. Harma took Ariengil’s hand in his and they walked together. The two old hobbits came to see the elves off and waved as they trotted away.
Harma and Ariengil talked for a while, as they rode, and they looked at each other with love and affection and Ariengil remembered the old days when they had been so close. She wondered why she had ever thought about Nimtheryn since she had fallen in love with Harma, for Harma was so nice and kind that no being could compare, thought Ariengil.
Harma then went on to tell Ariengil the route they were to take. `We leave the Shire and cross the Brandywine River at the Sarn Ford, and then we travel across Minhiriath towards Eharbad. We will keep away from the sea, for I have heard bad tales of it from my friends. We will cross the Greyflood River at Eharbad and will travel along the Old South Road to the gap of Rohan, but we will not go through, we will go to the Isen River and cross it. Then we will go through the gap between the White Mountains and towards the River there. After the river, we will travel to Gondor. It is not as far as it sounds- we may make it in less time than anticipated.’
He smiled lovingly at Ariengil and she smiled back with the same love in her eyes, while Nimtheryn watched sadly.
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.