Donning a pale dress, Ariengil left the room silently. In the main hall everyone was eating their morning meal. She sat down beside Thaliondil and took a wooden bowl. She put a piece of fruit on her plate and picked at it with her fork. Thaliondil took the fork from her and set it beside the bowl.
`Ariengil, I know you are upset, and I can tell that you love him, although you do not confide in me. Do not object,’ he said quickly as Ariengil opened her mouth to argue, `for you know it is true. I am not upset that you do not, but remember that I am here if you need me.’
`Thank you, Thalion,’ replied Ariengil, squeezing his hand gently, though she wanted to tell her friend what she was really feeling- she was perplexed. She then began to eat more delicately, though she lost her appetite as soon as Eldarion entered the room. He walked past every person in the room and sat, not in his seat at the head of the table, but beside Ariengil. She blushed as he bid her good morning, and she smiled in reply.
A few times during breakfast, Eldarion or Ariengil opened their mouth as though they were about to speak, but each time they shut it again without speaking a word. To other people they looked rather comical- almost like fish opening their mouths silently and shutting them with a pop. Yet, to the two of them, they felt terrible not being able to express their feelings or say what they wanted.
Finally Eldarion managed to speak. `Ariengil, I need to tell you this before it is too late and I can never tell you.’ He looked into Ariengil’s eyes and opened his mouth to speak once more, but a servant came up quickly and interrupted as everyone else in the hall stood to leave- their chairs scraping on the floor and covering any voice speaking. Eldarion sighed, rolled his eyes and thumped his fist on the table. The servant backed away, begging forgiveness and was told to leave quickly. He did so in the briefest of moments.
`Come, let us go,’ said Eldarion.
`But-‘ stuttered Ariengil, wanting to know what Eldarion was going to say.
`No, Ariengil. Now is not the time. Anyone could hear,’ he said, giving Thaliondil a sideways glance. Thaliondil was slowly clearing away his bowl as though it was important to him, though it was obviously an excuse to stay and listen to the King and Ariengil’s conversation.
The King and Ariengil walked side by side to the main doors to Minas Tirith. Horses were waiting for the elves- seven horses for the seven elves. There was also one horse with packs on its back, carrying food and presents. Ariengil stopped in front of them and breathed in a deep, ragged breath. As she breathed out, she felt tears come to her eyes and her vision became blurred. All she could see was a vision of Harma, yet she blinked him away in an attempt to look normal.
`Right,’ she said in a squeaky voice. She was trying to be confident, yet the tears and the unstable voice gave the confidence no strength. `Time to go, is everyone here?’ she asked, speaking quickly and walking around. She went to the first horse and checked its saddle, then went to the second and fiddled with its bridle, then moved onto a third horse. She put her hand on the saddle, ready to adjust it just for something to do, but Eldarion came forward and put his hand over hers.
`Calm down, Ariengil. Take a deep breath and relax. Running around frantically won’t solve anything. Please calm down,’ he whispered. Ariengil’s hand shook under Eldarion’s, but she did as he asked.
Dînhith and Beleg were coming down the steps as Ariengil turned around. Ariengil smiled, although her smile was drawn and not at all realistic, and she went to help Beleg down the stairs. He could walk almost perfectly now, but going down steps was still painful.
Presently, everyone except Ariengil had mounted. She turned away from Minas Tirith and looked across the lands, at the beautiful countryside and the wonderful sky. She looked around at Nimtheryn’s grave and briefly said a prayer to Eru, and then she turned back to Eldarion.
Not knowing whether to curtsy to the King, in front of so many people, or to hug him, she did a mixture of the two and fell forwards onto him. Everyone laughed, to Ariengil’s embarrassment, but Eldarion whispered in her ear before she stepped back again.
`What I wanted to say earlier,’ he began, then lowered his head closer to her ear so that no one other than she could hear, `is that it is so hard letting you go, and I love you. Farewell my sweet.’ He gently kissed her cheek, but he did so subtly so that no one else could tell.
`Your Highness,’ said Ariengil aloud, and she curtsied, looking to the floor. As she stood, she whispered, `thank you,’ so quietly that not even Eldarion heard, but he read her lips and smiled sweetly.
Ariengil walked to her horse, a chestnut mare, and she mounted, watched by the hundreds who had gathered to see the elves leave. As she sat on her horse, a young girl approached the rider. She carried a bouquet of flowers, which she now presented to Ariengil. Ariengil smiled and leant down to take the flowers, and stroked the young girls golden locks. `Thank you, sweetheart. Thank you very much.’ The girl ran back to her mother and hid her face in her mother’s clothes, with mortal embarrassment.
Ariengil turned to Dînhith, who had also been presented with flowers, as had the other females. They smiled to each other and turned their horses towards the city gates.
`Wait,’ Ariengil cried, and she turned her horse back again. She quickly dismounted and ran back to Eldarion. `Where is Leonora?’ she cried desperately. `I haven’t said farewell, what will she think of me?’
Leonora was standing in the crowds, and she heard Ariengil’s cry. Tearing herself away from Larat, she ran towards Ariengil. They threw themselves on one another, crying yet smiling at the same time.
`I shall miss you,’ whispered Ariengil, `fare thee well, my dear.’
`I have so much to thank you for, Ariengil. It is thanks to you that I am leaving work and becoming Larat’s wife,’ she giggled as Ariengil’s mouth positively dropped in shock.
`Are you joking?’ asked Ariengil in delight. `No, you would not joke about this. Well, congratulations. I am very happy for you. Now I must go,’ she said as she heard her friends calling to her. `Think of me on your wedding day for I should truly love to be there.’
`I will think of you in everything I do. And I’m not the only one,’ she whispered in a sneaky voice. The two girls giggled as they glanced at Eldarion, who knew that he had just been mentioned; yet he tried to regain his composure. `Farewell, may your life be as great as you have made mine, for you deserve so much more yet all you receive is sadness. There will be a time when you are so happy that nothing can upset you. May all of the love of Minas Tirith go with you.’ They hugged once more, and Ariengil kissed Leonora’s brow.
`Now you run off to your love, and I’ll see if I can find one for myself somewhere in this Middle Earth. Look after yourself.’ Ariengil walked back to her horse and mounted, then the company left Minas Tirith and King Eldarion behind, and all he could do was watch.
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.