|Shadow and Flame
Author: Elf Eye PM
An elfling tale in The Nameless One series. Legolas, as Anomen, tries to prevent Gandalf from crossing the Orc-infested Misty Mountains.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Angst - Gandalf & Legolas - Words: 2,403 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 2 - Published: 04-29-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4227567
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This started out as a light-hearted interlude, but it moved inexorably toward foreshadowing. It should be considered part of The Nameless One series because it has Legolas, as Anomen, living in Rivendell as Elrond's foster son.
Beta Reader: This is a one-shot, so I did not request a beta reading.
Gandalf blew a smoke ring, which shaped itself into a dragon. The dragon shimmered green, then blue, then purple before dissolving into a mist that was carried away by the gentle breeze that blew through Elrond's garden. The wizard sighed and took his pipe from his mouth. "I know that you are in the bush," he said, "so you may as well come out."
The shrub rustled slightly, and a shamefaced Anomen crawled out and came to stand before the wizard. Gandalf tried to frown at him, but was only partially successful. It is hard work frowning at a woeful elfling who gazes sadly but hopefully at you with wide eyes the color of cornflowers. The Istar sighed again.
"Whatever were you thinking?" he said, trying to sound stern. "Whatever were you thinking taking my staff and hiding it?"
Anomen considered. "I suppose," he said slowly, "that I was trying to make mischief."
"Do not tell me what I already know," huffed Gandalf. "Why that mischief and not some other prank?"
"You need your staff," Anomen replied after a moment.
"Really? I never should have known that! Thank you for enlightening me. Now, if you will be a bit more forthcoming, we might get on a little faster. It is nearly time for the noon meal, and I do hope that we conclude this conversation in time to repair to the Dining Hall."
"You won't leave Rivendell without your staff," Anomen said. "And I don't want you to leave Rivendell," he added softly. He looked down at his feet, but not quickly enough to prevent Gandalf from spying the tears that the elfling could no longer suppress. The wizard put aside his pipe and opened his arms. Hiccupping a little from his effort to appear brave, Anomen crawled into the Istar's lap and gladly settled into his embrace. "Why must you leave, Mithrandir," the elfling asked mournfully. "You say that the Orcs are multiplying in the Misty Mountains, yet you depart for Lothlórien tomorrow."
"It is because the Orcs are multiplying that I depart tomorrow," Gandalf said gently.
"But the crossing will be dangerous," Anomen protested. "Why can't you wait until the Orcs are not so numerous?"
"My lad, the number of Orcs will not be the less if I delay my journey. On the contrary: they will continue to multiply. That is why I must leave tomorrow. The realms of Lothlórien and Imladris must join forces to beat back this latest threat, and it is to that end that I carry a message from Elrond to the Lord Celeborn and the Lady Galadriel."
"Why can't somebody else carry the message? Why can't Figwit do it?" Anomen had lately overheard Elrond declaring that he wished he had more errands upon which to send the accident-prone Elf so that he might decoy him away from the Hall. Gandalf tried not to smile at the thought of Figwit being sent on such an important mission. 'Of course', he laughed to himself, 'along the way he would probably inadvertently take out a fair number of Orcs. Let me see: he would trip over a root and fall upon the path, thereby dislodging a stone. The rock would roll down the path, dislodging other rocks. By and by the stones would tumble over a cliff, dislodging dirt and more rocks, and the cascade would knock loose even more dirt and stones and even boulders. Before you could say "Gynd, no dan guid-nín," a full scale avalanche would be underway, and no doubt half a mountain would end up falling upon a garrison of Orcs at its base. That's the way it usually is with Figwit!' (Rocks, be against my foes.)
Gandalf was interrupted from his reverie by Anomen tugging upon his beard. "Ow!" exclaimed the wizard. "There are other ways to get my attention, you know."
"This one works best," Anomen observed matter-of-factly. "You haven't explained why Figwit can't carry the message."
"Perhaps he might if it were only the one message," answered Gandalf, "but Galadriel and I must discuss a Ri—we have other matters to discuss."
The wizard had stopped so abruptly that Anomen looked curiously at him. Suddenly the elfling caught sight of a pretty bauble upon the Istar's finger.
"Oh, Mithrandir, such a pretty ring. Shall I have one like it some day?"
"I should hope not!" exclaimed the wizard, appalled that the elfling had managed to catch sight of Narya, the Ring of Fire. Yet the Maia was curious as well. 'Odd that the lad was able to see it', the wizard mused as he worked to cloak the Ring more securely. 'There is a reason for that, I am sure. I shall have to mention the matter to Galadriel. Although she will probably give me an enigmatic answer—if she deigns to answer me at all!'
Gandalf was brought back to the present by another tug on his beard.
"Why may I not have such a pretty ring?" Anomen said wistfully. "Is it because I have been bad?"
"Not at all, my lad," Gandalf reassured him. Thinking quickly, the wizard said, "Have you ever seen a ring upon Lord Glorfindel's hand?"
"No-oo," answered the elfling. "No, I never have."
"Why do you think the Lord Glorfindel wears no ring?"
"Ah," said Anomen happily, "I know! The Lord Glorfindel is the finest archer in all of elvendom. He wears no rings on his fingers because he wants nothing to interfere with his grip or his aim."
"Excellent! As you want to be like the Lord Glorfindel, you must model yourself upon him. No rings for you, my lad."
"I suppose your ring does not get in the way of your wielding your staff."
"No, it does not—and by the by, now that we have come back to the subject of my staff, where have you hidden it."
"I didn't hide it. I gave it to Elrohir to hold."
"Elrohir? No! You didn't!"
Before Gandalf had a chance to say another word, an indignant yell rang out and an Elf burst into the garden. It was Figwit, and smoke was arising from his seat. Behind him ran Elrohir, clutching Gandalf's staff, and trailing behind him was Elladan. When they spied the wizard, the two elflings skidded to a stop and turned to flee, but before they took two steps, Gandalf was upon them, seizing them both by the neck. Figwit, meanwhile, had leaped into the fountain. He lost his footing as he did so, landing upon his bottom and sliding across to the other side, where he fetched up against a piece of statuary. It was a tall, slender piece, and Figwit hit it well below its center of gravity. As Gandalf watched helplessly, his hands full of elfling, the statue wobbled and slowly, slowly listed to the left, until at last over it crashed, striking a second statue, which then fell over and struck a third, which, yes, toppled into a fourth. The catastrophe spread onward, the sound of crashes receding into the distant, to be replaced by shouts of alarm as Elves swarmed out of the Hall to see what the matter was.
"Dominos," Gandalf said morosely. He gave each elfling a shake. Figwit clambered out of the fountain and stood dripping before him. "What happened?" Gandalf asked grimly. "I-I-I hardly know," stammered Figwit, rubbing his bottom gingerly. "Elrohir asked me whether I could spare the time to watch for the Cook's return. I said I couldn't, as I had an important commission to perform for Lord Elrond. Oh!"
Figwit frantically fished about in his tunic and drew forth a soggy piece of parchment. "Alas," he lamented. "See how the ink has run so that the message is illegible. I shall have to report upon the failure of my mission."
Elrohir snorted at hearing an errand referred to as a 'mission', but he subsided at once when Gandalf gave him another shake.
"So you refused to stand watch for Elrohir and Elladan—who no doubt were planning to raid the kitchen. What then?"
"Elrohir muttered some silly rhyme—'liar liar pants on fire', or something to that effect."
"Well, it was a lie," Elrohir protested. "He could have kept watch."
"Silence!" commanded Gandalf. "I suppose," he said more calmly, addressing Figwit, "that Elrohir was pointing the staff at you when he uttered those words."
"Why, yes, he was."
Gandalf sighed. "Must adjust the settings," he murmured. "The defaults simply do not provide enough security."
"Pardon?" Figwit said.
"My staff has been hacked," Gandalf explained.
"Hacked? It seems to be in one piece."
"Compromised. My staff has been compromised."
"I do not believe," Figwit said solemnly, "that a staff can compromise. Only a sentient being can compromise."
Gandalf did not roll his eyes. Both his ears and his eyebrows twitched, though, and Anomen, who had been dumped on the ground when Gandalf leaped up to pursue the twins, braced himself for fireworks. None were forthcoming, however. Anomen was torn between being relieved and disappointed.
"I am sorry for this incident, Figwit," Gandalf, with an effort remaining calm. "You had best go and dry your clothes. I shall see to the twins."
Figwit bowed stiffly and squelched off, leaving wet footprints on the flagstones. Elrohir and Elladan giggled until Gandalf spun them about and glared at them.
"What do you mean by meddling with my staff?"
Elladan and Elrohir each pointed at Anomen. "He gave it to us!" they chorused.
"Howsoever that may be," Gandalf growled, "that fact did not license you to use it. Shame on you, setting Figwit on fire. He could have been badly injured."
Elladan and Elrohir hung their heads. They looked so thoroughly ashamed that Gandalf relented, although he suspected that the twins had more the appearance of contrition than any actual sorrow over their misdeeds.
"Oh, be off with you, all three" he growled. "I had thought to bring you rascals something back from Lothlórien," he added as the elflings began to retreat. Three heads at once swiveled about, and three sets of eyes stared imploringly at Gandalf. The Istar was not proof against such a concentrated dose of elfling consternation. "Well, I may find room in my pack for something," he grumbled. "Mind you, I had better be left undisturbed for the remainer of this day, or I may very well change my mind!"
Elfling heads bobbed, and then the elflings took to their fleet heels, lest the wizard reconsider. Once they were gone, Gandalf carefully examined his staff. "Looks unharmed," he muttered. "Should have tested it upon their pates to make sure! Although," he reflected, "then the staff might really have been done for!"
With that, Gandalf reached for his pipe—and could not find it. He looked under the bench. He looked beside it. He looked behind it. At last he sat back upon his heels, his face a picture of ruefulness. "I ought to be angry," he sighed, "but I know Anomen has heard Elrond say repeatedly that pipe weed is bad for my health. No doubt the scamp has made off with it for that reason."
Gandalf had of course hit the proverbial nail on its head—which was no doubt why, over the centuries, that he refrained from cudgeling Anomen on his! No matter how mischievously the elfling behaved, Gandalf knew that at the heart of the matter was the love Anomen bore his mentor. The wizard could never stay angry with Anomen for long, not even when, as Legolas, the young Elf drove him to distraction quarreling with Gimli son of Glóin.
But that latter dispute was centuries in the future. For now, Gandalf made his way into the Dining Hall and took his place by Elrond's side. Fidgeting, he tried to enjoy his meal whilst ignoring the whispers and giggles of the three elflings who sat nearby. "Whatever is the matter," Elrond finally exclaimed when Gandalf bumped his elbow for the fourth time.
"Need my pipe," growled Gandalf. He looked balefully at Anomen, who gazed back innocently. Elrond followed the wizard's glance and caught Anomen's eye. The elfling blushed and looked at his plate. Elrond knew from long experience that it was always a bad sign when an elfling developed an intense interest in his place setting. He cleared his throat. "I am sure you will have a chance to enjoy your pipe later," he said meaningfully.
That night, when Gandalf retired to his room, he found his pipe sitting on the table by his bed. Beside it lay a soft leather pouch filled with pipe weed. The stitches of the seams were uneven, and upon the cover of the pouch the rune for 'G' was embroidered lopsidedly. Gandalf smiled at the peace offering. "Scamp," he said fondly, tossing his hat upon a chair. "Scamp," he repeated as he pulled off his boots.
The next morning Anomen stood by stoutly as Gandalf said his farewells to the household. As Gandalf passed by him, the wizard stopped and tousled his hair. "Mithrandir," Anomen said impulsively, "I shall never wear a ring like yours, but someday I shall journey with you." Gandalf regarded him with mock gravity. "If you do, you shall have to put up with my pipe weed," he warned. A faraway look came over Anomen's face. "Your companions shall have to endure Shadow and Flame much the worse," he said in a voice not his own. Gandalf exchanged an astonished glance with Elrond. "Anomen," Elrond called, "come back!" Anomen trembled and then his eyes came back into focus. He looked happily at Gandalf. "Someday I shall journey with you," he repeated cheerfully.
"Yes," Gandalf agreed, forcing himself to smile. "Yes, someday you shall journey with me." He clutched his staff tightly, and the ring on his finger burned. "Shadow and Flame," he whispered to himself as he strode away from Rivendell. "Shadow and Flame."