What Is It Good For?


Disclaimer: If you've read about these characters elsewhere (and I'll give you a clue: Lord of the Rings) then they don't belong to me. Happy?

Author's Notes: Just another one of my little short fics. I was feeling p'ed off, so I wrote this. Fun, huh? Set post-Return of the King. Oh, and the title comes from that damn fine song, 'War'. Let's see whether I can get more reviews for this than the first chapter of my latest LotR fic, where I got one.


Legolas, son of Thranduil, was angry. Very bloody angry. His expression was feral, teeth bared as his knife sliced at the orcs surrounding him. They grunted and roared, coming at him from all sides with their weapons. It was all he could do to keep himself from simply losing himself to the rage, allow the red to cover his vision. This was not the War of the Ring anymore; he was not simply a warrior. Life wasn't as simple as eat, sleep (occasionally), run, and kill orc. Well, only when stray bands of the creatures, such as these, were discovered. And he hadn't meant to discover them. It was a stupid mistake.

He growled in anger as he remembered. Waking in the middle of the night, Gimli asleep by his side, he had stupidly decided to go for a walk. On his own. Even now he berated himself for it. Middle Earth wasn't suddenly safe just because Sauron had been defeated. He should know better than to go wandering alone at night. It was all his own stupid fault and now he was paying it. Every missed slash of his blade angered him further, while every landed one still fuelled it. Legolas felt like screaming in rage, though sense held him back. No point in wasting energy. He concentrated on avoiding the orcs and their attacks, parrying and dodging, while all the time thrusting, slicing and slashing. Blood covered his blade.

To give in entirely to his rage was to become as bad as the foul creatures. Elves were above these monsters, this he had always known. To lose himself to his anger would be unnecessary. Yet still, during the War it was so. Killing was no taboo; it was what you had to do. Killing was your one purpose, your sole reason for living and being there. You grew inured to the horror of taking another's life, it grew commonplace. Valar forbid, it even became a game between him and Gimli. A game of numbers. The orcs deserved it, Legolas told himself, they were bred for evil. It was their one purpose. But even so, they had been Elves once. He pushed that thought away. You couldn't afford those thoughts; pity had no place in war, despite what Mithrandir had said. He had spoken of a different situation. Pity was excess baggage in war, not that this skirmish now was one. Though in a way it was a small war, a lone Elf against a score of orcs, but the battle filled the Elf's head. Where was the place for the warrior in peacetime? A chance for a battle was almost welcome.

But as Legolas avoided an orc-blade that threatened to cleave his head from his shoulders, he knew there was a better reason for not fighting. The price in tears was too great. Too many deaths on both sides. Too many mothers who mourned their children. War was an abomination, a murderer, In its heated grasp, they killed others who they had never seen before, and had no personal grudge against save for the side they supported. And the other side had done the same. Legolas knew that on Sauron's side were the races of men that had been recruited, such as the Easterlings, who had families and friends who would miss and mourn them. And he had killed them coldly, shooting them down of cutting them apart. His knife, for all its beauty, was stained. War made murderers of everyone in its greedy hands. The boys who fought at Helm's Deep would never again be the same. They had killed, though for good reason, and kept killing as the orcs swept over. A loss of innocence. Children going to war to play at soldiers, and dying as such.

Legolas felt a wound being cut down his left arm. He whirled and killed the perpetrator without a thought, hating himself suddenly for feeling so numb about such an action. It was instinctive. But even as that orc fell, another took its place, eager at a chance at the fair Elf. One advantage to Legolas was the number of orcs. Crowded as close as they were so as not to allow him escape, they blocked each other and limited their movements. No orc could draw a bow; there simply wasn't space. It didn't feel like much of an advantage to Legolas though. They closer they were, the easier they could reach him. But this worked both ways; he could also easily reach them. Many had already fallen to him, though several had also wounded him. Their bodies littered across the ground at his feet, becoming a hindrance as he ducked and weaved, trying to stay one step ahead. The orcs' blood was thick and oily on the ground, and this caused Legolas to slip.

He fell to the grass, twisting and managing to land on one knee. The orcs pressed in over him, though in doing so limited their own movement more. Their weapons came closer to him, as he struggled to regain his feet while warding off their attacks. Then a shout came through the air and he was saved.


The orcs all turned in surprise. This gave him his opportunity. Holding his long knife high, Legolas thrust himself up, slicing through the orcs above him and causing the others to fall back. Not caring any longer for any compassion, he carved his way through the foul creatures, not stopping until they were all dead, lying on the ground. It was only when he wiped the blood and sweat from his eyes that he saw Gimli, standing with axe in hand, though he had known he was there. The dwarf surveyed the score of dead orcs, pulling at his beard.

"Can't take you anywhere without you finding a fight," he commented.

Legolas said nothing for a moment, standing perfectly still among the perfectly still bodies. "I need to bathe," he said eventually, heading for the nearby stream.


He took his time. Removing the bloodstains from his clothes came first, rubbing the dark spots from the fabric. Then, after they were spread out to dry, he began to do the same for his body. He sluiced the worst of the dark liquid from him, then set to scrubbing the more stubborn sticky patches away. There was pain where he had been injured, but this he ignored. It merely served to remind him. Another battle, a few less orcs. Not many were left now anyway. Soon there would be none, save for in dark corners somewhere. As much as Legolas welcomed that day, he thought about killing them and how easy it was on his conscience.

Unbraiding his hair, he began to wash that, cleaning away the last traces of the battle. At least, the last visible traces. He would never forget, not this fight nor any other. He bent forwards and dipped his head under the water, wetting it all through thoroughly. It waved lazily in the slow current, brushing against his hands and skin. Feeling his breath start to run out, he threw his head back, hair flying behind him.

"Hey!" Gimli called from the bank, where he had just been hit by the spray. The bank was fairly high at that point before cutting down an overhang to the stream. Gimli sat on the edge. His position meant that his head was about level with Legolas'. "You're wounded," he continued seeing the marks on the Elf's pale body.

"They will heal," Legolas said, combing through his hair with his fingers. There was a silence.

"Oh, I see," Gimli muttered, more to himself than to his companion. "What troubles you, Master Elf?"

"Nothing," Legolas replied, not looking at the dwarf. Gimli sighed, picking at the grass in front of him.

"Something clearly does," he said, "I am your friend, Legolas. Talk to me."

The Elf stared down at the water, then strode through it to stand before Gimli. "What do we do now?" he asked, hurrying his words out. "The War is over. I don't know what else I can do."

Gimli looked at him in surprise. "Anything," he answered eventually, "anything you want to do. Why ask?"

"We've been fighting for so long; all we've ever done is kill!" Legolas' hand formed a fist. "I don't think I can remember doing anything else. I'm a warrior, as are you, and that's what I know how to do. It's what I've been trained for!" His voice dropped to a whisper. "I can't do anything else."

Taking the other's long hand between his own, Gimli sought to comfort his friend. "That can't be true," he reasoned, "you're too old to only be able to do one thing. You Elves are famed for your affinity with the higher arts. You can't forget that. Even if you've forgotten, you can still rediscover everything."

Legolas' eyes were on his, and Gimli could see the indecision in the Elf. He smiled.

"Besides," he said, "I'm taking you to see the Glittering Caves, remember? That's culture and beauty for you."

Legolas raised an eyebrow, and then laughed. He flung his head back, his laughter sounding like a song, and his hand squeezed Gimli's. "Thank you," he said, "let no one say that dwarves are stupid!"

Gimli's smile turned into a wry one. "You seem to say it a lot."

Legolas flicked water at him. "That's different. You know I don't really mean it."

"Yes," Gimli said, "I know."

Legolas' grin grew wider. "At least, not all the time."


The End.