Stepping outside was like finding water for the first time in weeks- it was incredible. The cold wind stroked their faces, the birds sung in their ears and the whole land delighted their eyes. The sun beamed down upon the three elves, as they looked around- the girls looked in wonder at what seemed to be a new thing to them, while Nimtheryn checked that all was safe and correct. Content, he looked back at the girls; he took Ariengil’s arm and was about to speak to her when he heard a voice from behind.
`Very good, very good,’ laughed Tarma as he clapped his hands together a few times, applauding Nimtheryn. `You have caught her, but now hand her to me,’ he motioned with his hand.
Nimtheryn looked from Ariengil to Tarma and back again, clearly surprised at Tarma appearing out of nowhere. `No,’ he replied defiantly.
`No?’ asked Tarma, evidently shocked and angry. `No,’ he said again, as if waiting for the word to sink in. After a while, he spoke again. `You say no, so you mean you are with them. Well, I see. If it’s like that then-‘ he paused and suddenly put his tongue between his teeth and whistled shrilly for a few seconds.
All of a sudden, the bushes and trees around them shook and a man stood from each bush, or jumped out of each tree. Dark elves and men aiming a bow and arrow at them surrounded the three elves.
Nimtheryn looked around distraught and stepped in front of the girls, trying to protect them. Tarma just laughed cruelly.
`There is no escape,’ he cackled, `unless you wish to go back into the maze. It is totally up to you. You have three options- to come calmly back in with me, to run back in to the maze and then try to escape again, or to try and escape now and most likely be shot. So, what are you waiting for?’ He looked down at the floor, then up again, directly at the girls, his dark eyes flashing as he shouted, `Go.’
Nieninque moved to the middle of the three elves and pulled Nimtheryn backwards, looking at Tarma she started to speak. `You are not worth living, you have nothing and no one, other than a few other evil beings like you, but none are as disgusting and repulsive as you. One day you will find yourself in need of friends, in need of help, and in need of someone to turn to.’ Tarma’s face was livid as Nieninque continued, his eyes searing with anger, but helplessness too. `On that day, you will still have no one and nothing and you will not be helped. I hope, then, you will think of us and realise that you are not worth a thing.’
Nieninque threw herself, Nimtheryn and Ariengil to the floor, but not before she made them invisible to the other peoples’ eyes. Tarma, confused, shouted at his men to shoot at the place where they had last been, then with an evil smile, he added, ‘And aim at where their hearts where.’
Hundreds of arrows flew over the three elves’ bodies and heads as they pressed themselves as close to the ground as possible. When the arrows were expired, Tarma shouted at the warriors to tighten their circle until they found the three elves. Nimtheryn jumped up, and then picked Ariengil and Nieninque up and put them on their feet. The elves and men were closing in and there seemed nowhere to escape, other than the maze, so Nimtheryn pushed the two girls ahead of him and ran into the cave. Luckily, there was an inlet near the entrance, so he pushed the girls up and jumped up himself.
Looking out of the corridor, Nimtheryn saw all of Tarma’s fighters close together, looking around and wondering where the elves had gone. Tarma, fury in his eyes, turned towards the cave and raised his hand. He brought it down, pointing towards the cave and ran in shouting. The men followed copying Tarma’s cry, with their swords now out, running into the maze.
When the last person was out of sight, Nimtheryn hopped down and helped the girls down too. They crept outside, now visible, as Nieninque had not enough power for longer, and looked into the sun.
A dark figure stood, silhouetted, against the sun with a bow and arrow raised at Nimtheryn. The three had no time to blink before the arrow was let loose and shot directly at Nimtheryn. Thanks to quick reactions, Nimtheryn whipped out his sword and hit the arrow on the side with the blade. The wood snapped in two and was thrown to the side as another arrow was fired. Nimtheryn knocked the second arrow down, and then a third that was fired.
The bowman threw down his bow and unsheathed his sword, running at Nimtheryn with the sword in both hands, screaming a battle cry. Nimtheryn ran at his attacker, his sword also drawn, and they met with a clash. Sword on sword, elf on elf, the fight lasted for what seemed to be a long time to the girls who watched in anguish. Only a few strokes were on target, and Nimtheryn received a few cuts as he combated the stronger elf.
With quick precision, Nimtheryn spotted the elf’s weakness and attacked. The dark elf had raised his sword a fraction too high and Nimtheryn struck a deadly blow. The sword pierced the dark elf’s chest and blood gushed forth as Nimtheryn withdrew the blade again.
The dark elf’s eyes flew open in agony then dimmed as he fell to his knees and again he fell forwards, onto his front. Nimtheryn turned away, disgusted and sheathed his sword, motioning to Ariengil and Nieninque to follow him. He led them away from the horrible maze, towards the sun that was beginning to set.
Looking back, Ariengil knew she would remember the maze forever. It was set in a cliff, and there was but one passage she could see, leading out onto a muddy path surrounded by trees and bushes. In front of the maze lay a deceased elf, and inside the maze, stood a terrible elf, his shout echoing away, into the surroundings outside as the three elves made their escape.
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.