The King took Ariengil’s hand in his and wrapped the cloth around her injured hand.
`No,’ cried Nieninque, `let me help.’ Ariengil offered her hand to Nieninque, who was still crying. Her tears fell to Ariengil’s hand, but nothing happened. Ariengil cried aloud as the salty tears stung her- there was no magic in these tears, they were perfectly normal now. There was no time to lose though, as the orcs were still firing into the midst of all the elves and would spot the four of them soon. King Eldarion took Ariengil’s hand again and wrapped it in the cloth. It was a long piece of cloth and he had to wrap it around a few times, then secured it in a knot. They all looked around in dismay for their numbers were half of the orcs now: about four thousand elves and eight thousand orcs. The two thousand orcs at the forests were constantly firing arrows, and each time they took down more and more elves.
`Your Majesty,’ whispered Ariengil, `why do we have so few men? We started with only fifteen thousand men, and that is so few. Did we not have help from many places? Did you ask the elves for their help?’
`Of course I asked,’ replied the King calmly, `but they are many leagues away and have not arrived yet. They will arrive too late.’ As they conversed, a man fell beside them. Ariengil recognised the messy, dark hair and the tatty coat, and realised that Harma, the man who had given them arrows earlier that day, had been slain. His quiver was full and his bow was slung across his shoulder, unused. His work had been in vain.
`Not for much longer,’ murmured Ariengil as she took his bow and arrows and handed them to the King. As she spoke, she took her own bow and quiver. `Can you shoot, your Highness?’
`I can, my Lady. Shall we?’ he jested. They fitted an arrow each to their bows and, from the ground, shot at the orcs by the forests. Nieninque and Mereth followed suit, and presently there were four arrows flying at the orcs at a time. Every shot was fatal, and each quiver held about twenty-five arrows.
`One hundred,’ cried Ariengil happily. `We got one hundred. Nice teamwork.’ She then remembered who she was talking to and corrected her sentence. `I mean: Congratulations, your Majesty, you shot down twenty-five. Well done.’
`Ariengil,’ replied the King, `please do not be formal with me. We have fought together; saved each other’s lives, are still fighting together and may even die together. I do not wish for you to treat me as a superior- we are equals.’
`Yes Sir. Sorry Sir.’
`Call me Eldarion please, Ariengil.’
`But, your Highness, I use names for my…’ she faded out at the end of the sentence, yet the King picked up the sentence.
`Friends. Yes Ariengil, we are friends, are we not? Now, let us fight.’ The two smiled at each other and took their swords. Both stood up and ran at a group of orcs with their swords in front of them. They each killed an orc with their first strike, and turned to kill a couple more. The group was huddled around something, and each orc was determined to stop the couple from reaching the centre, yet they cut down each orc faithfully and easily until there were only two left. They seemed to have killed the group rather quickly, but then they realised that arrows had shot half of the group down. Yet there were no archers left in their army. Suddenly, an elven horn sounded and every being on the battlefield looked to the top of the hill. Another army had appeared- an army from Mirkwood. The elves were spending their arrows quickly, and as each rank finished their arrows, they ran towards the orcs and cut down many. A grunt recaptured Ariengil’s attention and she and the King turned back to the final two orcs who were standing in front of the thing they were hiding- it was just another being.
Ariengil looked at Eldarion and he looked at her. Together, they ran forward and drove their swords into a final orc of the group each. Ariengil turned around in a circle and slammed her sword into the ground, forgetting about the other being as she smiled at Eldarion. Her smile vanished quickly as she found herself in the arms of another elf- one with a sword. The sword was put to her neck and Ariengil found herself shaking with shock. The battle was nearly over, thanks to the Mirkwood elves, and she had survived; yet now she was to die in the arms of an unknown person.
King Eldarion looked shocked and worried, yet he put his hand up to tell Ariengil not to worry. `What do you want with her? What do you want in exchange?’ asked Eldarion.
Ariengil cringed and shook as she heard the cruel laugh that she recognised so well. `I just want her, though I could have your life too,’ replied Tarma as he stroked Ariengil’s cheek. He then whispered in her ear, the cold sword resting on the orange rag around her neck. `You got away before, but you will not this time. You will not want to get away though, for if you try, all of your friends will die.’
`You will not get away with this, filth,’ spat Ariengil. `Look around. Your orcs and dark elves are being slain and we will win this war anytime now. You will not be able to leave alive, and you most certainly will not be able to leave with me for I will not come with you.’
`Will you not?’ asked Tarma in a mocking voice. `We shall see about that.’ Holding the sword by Ariengil’s neck with his right hand, Tarma reached down to his left side and took a dagger with his left hand. He aimed the dagger at the King and smiled. `Do you really want the King of Gondor to die?’ he sneered.
`No,’ choked Ariengil in distress. `Please don’t do it, please.’
Tarma pulled his left arm back, ready to throw the dagger, and as his arm went past Ariengil’s cheek again, she felt him let go of the blade so she shut her eyes tightly. The girl heard a choked gasp and she opened her eyes quickly, to see the King still alive. She breathed in relief, but saw that behind the King an elf had sunk to his knees.
The elf’s dark hair was matted with blood as he clutched his neck where the dagger was stuck. His dark eyes flickered in recognition as he saw Ariengil and he smiled just before he fell to the floor, with all life leaving his body.
Ariengil gasped and watched Malta’s body breathing out a last, ragged breath. `NO,’ she screamed and her knees sagged as she cried. Tarma caught Ariengil with his left hand around her waist, keeping his right hand and the sword by her neck. `No,’ sobbed Ariengil quietly. `No, it isn’t fair. Don’t do this to us, please.’
`Will you come with me then? Because the next person is the King,’ snarled Tarma.
`Yes, I’ll come. Just don’t kill anymore people, please.’
Eldarion watched Tarma smile contentedly as he backed away from the King, towards the forest. He was careful not to take his eyes off the King as they vanished from sight.
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.