As Ariengil wandered the corridor, walking to her bedroom, she nearly bumped into Mereth. They smiled at each other and hugged warmly.
`I’m so glad you are better, Arri,’ said Mereth as they walked to her bedroom. `Are you coming home with us in a few days?’
`Yes, I am. As long as I’m with my friends, I’ll be fine.’
`That’s great,’ smiled Mereth. `Are you recovering from losing Nimtheryn? I’m sorry to say it so bluntly, but I’d like to know how you are.’
`I’m alright-‘ Ariengil stopped suddenly and grabbed hold of Mereth’s arm. He turned, worried, to his friend.
`What?’ he asked. `What is it? Are you ill or something? I’ll call for a medic.’
`No, I’m not ill. But I just realised- we haven’t buried Nimtheryn yet. He is here in Minas Tirith, and we can’t leave without seeing him off.’
`Don’t worry,’ replied Mereth, `we’ll sort something out- tomorrow we’ll have his funeral, or the day after.’
`Good. No!’ she cried.
`What if he doesn’t want to be buried here? What if he wants to be buried in the Undying Lands or Lothlórien?’
`Then we’ll never know, Ariengil. Be sensible, please. I think you need sleep- you are in a very strange mood. How about it? Then I’ll go and organise Nimtheryn’s funeral.’
`Very well, thank you, Mereth. And I’m sorry.’
`You have no need to be sorry, just sleep well.’ They hugged and Ariengil walked away in one direction, and Mereth in the other- in search of the King.
The funeral was two days later, and Ariengil rose with a heavy heart. She dressed in a black dress and called for Leonora. The young girl came and did Ariengil’s hair for her. Ariengil then took a black cloak and placed it around her shoulders. She tied it around her neck, then lifted the hood and left to go outside.
Swarms of people dressed in dark clothes were walking sombrely to the gates of Minas Tirith. They then left the city and walked for a while to the mounds nearby. There was a mound with an open entrance, ready for Nimtheryn to lie at rest. The people formed ranks on either side of the road, waiting for the procession of men to arrive, carrying Nimtheryn’s body on a stretcher.
The people were mainly men- soldiers who had fought with Nimtheryn, and then there were Nimtheryn’s friends too. They stood together, holding one another’s hands or comforting one another.
Soon the procession came, and Ariengil stood by the tomb, waiting as it approached. Her face was deathly pale and she did not make a sound. Her hands were shaking as the procession arrived by her side. They stopped just before the tomb, and Ariengil reached out to touch Nimtheryn’s face. She stroked his cheek, which was pale and cold, and she withdrew quickly, to wipe tears from her eyes.
The procession went a little further and they lay Nimtheryn in the mound and covered the entrance. The last time Ariengil ever saw Nimtheryn was then- watching his pale and peaceful body being hidden from her and taken away forever.
Even after everyone had left, Ariengil stayed by the tomb, sobbing. She sat, as though waiting for someone. Someone did come, although it was not who she expected. Dînhith came and took Ariengil in her arms.
`Do not worry, Arri. Nimtheryn was strong, and he shall find his way to the Halls of Mandos easily. Do not fear for him.’ Ariengil nodded, but did not reply. They began to walk back to the city, and turned one last time to look at the grave. As they did so, Dînhith looked around at the countryside.
`Ariengil, look,’ she exclaimed, pointing past the mounds, into the distance. With their elven eyes they could see a man. The man was limping badly and kept falling over. He was alone and obviously in need of help. Dînhith quickly ran to fetch help, while Ariengil stood alone- half watching the man to check that he did not stray, and half thinking of Nimtheryn.
Dînhith soon came back, and as they walked back to the city two riders left, galloping towards the injured man. Dînhith took Ariengil up to her bedroom, and Ariengil went to sleep for a while, then Dînhith went to the infirmary to see how the injured man was.
`May I see the man?’ asked Dînhith to the medics.
`Of course,’ they replied. `He will obviously want to see his rescuer,’ they laughed.
`Well I didn’t exactly rescue him,’ replied Dînhith as she blushed. `I just spotted him, that’s all.’
`Well if you hadn’t seen him, he may have bled to death. He dragged himself all the way from the battlefield- you would have fought with him. He wasn’t spotted, and was left behind when you all returned. Well done for seeing him. Now go in if you want.’ Dînhith thanked the medics and entered cautiously. She found that she was nervous and embarrassed, but there was no need for the man was lying down and couldn’t even see her as she entered.
The man had long, blonde hair, and was quite tall. His leg was broken, and he had cuts across his chest and arms. There was an arrow hole in his left shoulder.
`Hello,’ said Dînhith timidly. The man looked up a little, but groaned in pain. Although it hurt him, he seemed desperate to see who his visitor was.
`Come closer,’ he croaked. Dînhith felt her heart flutter for some unknown reason, and she stepped closer. As she stood beside the man, he grabbed her hand and she looked down at his hand, then at his face. She gasped and stepped backwards.
`I’m seeing things,’ she cried. `Who are you?’ she shouted. The medics ran in through the door and surveyed the scene- the maiden seemed hysterical.
`His name, he told us, is Beleg,’ replied the medics.
`No, you are lying,’ screamed Dînhith, and she pointed at the medics in an accusing way. She stumbled backwards and fell into a chair. `He died.’
`Come closer, Dînhith, it is all right. He’s very much alive; he didn’t die. Come on, he’s safe.’ Dînhith stood and cautiously approached the bed. She looked at Beleg properly and saw that it really was him. Both their faces lit up with joy, and Dînhith threw herself on Beleg, kissing him happily all over his face.
`Ah,’ he cried in pain. Dînhith withdrew quickly, and looked in concern at her love who had returned to her. `No,’ he cried, `don’t stop, even though it hurts.’ They both laughed and cried as Dînhith ran her hands all over Beleg’s face and body- touching the cuts gently and kissing his face, hands and arms constantly. The medics withdrew with looks of satisfaction.
`How is this possible, Beleg, my love? I saw you fall and you did not get up again- the arrow went straight through your heart,’ sobbed Dînhith.
`No arrow went through my heart, but through my shoulder. You must have seen someone else fall- someone like me. It wasn’t Mereth was it? Tell me he is well, please, my dear. Tell me my brother is well.’
`He is well. And you are too, with exceptions. But you will be well, thank Eru. Where were you? How did we leave you behind?’ she asked.
`An orc dragged me away from the battlefield when I was shot in the shoulder. He dragged me brutally- that is how I broke my leg, and then he set about trying to kill me. I was too strong though, and broke his neck. But then I lay unconscious and nobody found me.
`When I woke again, I realised that I was alone. I had to drag myself here- the only reason I did was that I was sure that you were alive, and you were my only hope.’
When Ariengil woke later, she went to the infirmary to find Dînhith. There she found the couple sleeping, with Dînhith sitting beside Beleg, her head resting on his chest, and his hand in her own.
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.