Author – I don't owe any characters written by Tolkien or LOTRs. I'm aware that my story is riddled with a few faults here and there, please do point these out to me via constructive criticism. I'll be glad to hear of any of your opinions.

The Band Of Many

Historic note – according to Tolkien, Gondor has long received threats and numerous attacks from the race of men namely called the Haradrim who dwelt in the south, near the sea in the land called Ithilien. This race of men who hated elves as well as the realm of Gondor and her allied kingdoms, joined forces with the Easterlings under the power of Sauron and continued their relentless attacks over the weakened kingdoms. It wasn't until the War of the Ring and the fall of Sauron did the powers of those alliance races of men fall and many signed a peace treaty with the newly crowned King of Gondor that is Aragon, bringing peace to the war scarred lands,including Ithilien who was at the forefront of it all.. This land was offered to Legolas by the King so that the elves could moved nearby and heal it back to its former glory till their time came to sail Legolas, former prince of Mirkwood took up his friend and fellow 'brother's' offer and the story catches him on the last convoy of his journey to becoming the new crowned king of Ithilien, a kingdom arisen by his own hand. But little does he know that the Harad road, formerly built by the people of Gondor and used by Sauron's forces as a way of travelling during the war, is not safe in these quiet times.

The wheels of the carts groaned and protested as they trundled over the rocky, derelict road that has laid abandoned for long periods of time. More than often, one cart's wheel will become stuck in a pothole and will require strength of the elven men to move it back to resume its journey south to their new homeland. It was hot, the unforgiving sun bothered the elves who were normally unfazed by such extreme conditions. But the toll of the journey has taken its effect and even the most robust warrior, seasoned in many wars were hard pushed.

Especially as this being the last convoy to their home in Ithilien, and as it being the last, it was the largest baring many women and children with their belongings, horses, food, wines and all they could carry.

With children running up and down the convoy, dodging horses, elven legs and rolling carts, generally causing a nuisance, with consequently lead to the convoy being stopped on a few occasions as worried mothers cannot find their precious babes, who in turn always seem to reappear perfectly unharmed and smiling. With the air busy with idle gossip of the women and marching chants of the soldiers escorting their royal heir home, Legolas had left his title of prince to claim one of King.

And the King in turn was busy trying not to snap at two elfling boys who kept staring at him and making Arod uneasy. Finally the warrior who stared the dead straight in the eye when he walked the paths of the dead, shot down a fell beast and befriended a dwarf , quite simply....snapped.

"What are you staring at?"

"You." The boys giggled as they grinned and continued staring.

"Haven't you anything better to do?" he groaned as Arod snorted.

"No." one of the boys smiled, he looked at Arod and asked, "What's his name?"

"Horse, now be gone, your mothers may be looking for you." He replied almost as childish as the boys.

"Is that your bow?" the other boy pointed to the much famed bow of the king.

"Yes." Legolas decided to keep it short, maybe they'll tire and leave him alone?

"Can I touch it?"

Obviously not.

"No, only I touch this bow, no one else." He raised an eyebrow as he watched the boys frown, clearly disappointed.

A baby nearby started brawling, ignoring its mother's soothing words, and continued shrieking out its ear-splitting note that made the royal elf's head throb and grind his teeth. He looked over to his second in command that is Feanor, a tall elf with dark ginger hair that fell past his shoulders, like his name sake, the elf was a fiery character, prone to arguments but the gist of it made him a fine warrior and Legolas could rely on him to take command should the situation arise.

Feanor only smiled as they two boys continued their babbling and asking questions, he was clearly not in a hurry to rescue the prince.

Legolas looked around them, they were entering a valley where woods grew thickly on either sides that sloped upwards.

They were half way home.

But it was at that moment that Legolas realised something was amiss when he was a row of archers lined up on a ridge and knew they were under attack.

"Ambush!" he yelled, followed by a total chaos as carts fell over, children crying and women shrieking, Legolas yelled to his men to form a line and ready their arrows. He could see it was Haradrim soldiers from their dark skin and turbans, and for one crazy moment wondered why were they attacking?

Surely all of the tribes has signed the treaty?

Obviously not.

The whistle of arrows bought him back to the battle and ducked the flying missiles as they flew over their heads. He yelled an order to fire and they retaliated, arrows on arrows. Many flew true to their mark, striking down a man who then toppled over the edge and disappearing in the foliage.

But then, the ambush took a surprise twist, Haradrim rode in on horses out of no where and swooped down on the innocent elves who tried to keep out of the battle, their curved swords slicing and hacking.

Frontal attack forgotten, Legolas ordered his soldiers to protect their own and ran to the aid of those who were struggling. He took down a horse by cutting its legs and stabbed the rider who attempted to stand and fight him off. He turned and collided with a young woman who jerked her dagger at him, momentarily thinking he was the enemy.

"Get the children into the woods, now!" Legolas yelled at her over the dim of the battle. She nodded and grabbed several children nearby and ordered them to stay together and run to the trees.

Legolas turned and ducked a sword that was aimed for his head and stabbed the man in the chest, he saw a small girl running towards the woods, tears running down her face as she tried her hardest to keep up with the older children. He ran and leapt over fall bodies and in one swoop, picked the child up and ran into the woods.

"Psst!" a hiss nearby made him turn to see the woman surrounded by thirty or so children, all scared and huddled together. Putting the girl down , he walked up to them, "Everyone alright?"

The children weakly nodded and the woman followed. But before he could reply, he heard crashing in the undergrowth and shouting of orders in a foreign tongue he recognised, they were being followed and he whispered urgently, "Run! Don't look back, keep together." He lead them deep into the forest, slowing as youngsters toppled over roots and branches, they cried until Legolas told them to be quiet. He picked two girls up and realised they couldn't out run the enemy who were close on their tails.

"You." He stopped the woman and carried on, shifting the weight of the children in his arms, "We need to hide, tell them to not say a word or move and get them under that ridge now." she nodded and whispered to two older boys who lead the children single file down the slope to a rocky ridge where there was a deep overhang shielded by shrubbery.

Legolas followed at the rear, his ears ever alert as the sounds of the men grew closer as their swords chopped at the dense shrubs. He pressed himself against the rocks and held his breath.

The children so silent as they closed their eyes and tried to disappear into the smallest spaces they could get themselves into. Then Legolas could see the Haradrims, there were twenty of them, all armed to the teeth. They stopped in the clearing before them, only the shrubs separated them from being discovered.

The girl in Legolas's arms let out a small wail and Legolas held her tighter, raising a finger to his lips signally for her to be quiet. Then one man walked over to the shrubbery and stood directly in front of them and Legolas thought they were discovered, his breath caught in his throat but to his surprise, the man fumbled with his breeches, stood with his legs apart and urinated into the grass.

The smell of urea offended the elf's nose as he gingerly moved his foot to avoid it being soaked with the vile stuff.

The man walked away and soon the company disappeared into the trees.

Legolas waited for several minutes then reached over to shake the woman who he thought has fallen asleep. But she unscrewed her eyes and let out a breath and he knew she had been afraid. "Let's go but keep quiet." They slowly stood up and started moving out of the overhang and in single file walked quickly into the woods, careful not to disturb anything that could give away their position. After a while, Legolas looked up and in the small opening in the canopy above their heads, he could see that the sun was almost set. That mean that whoever was following them had to put off their pursuit till the morning.

"We'll stop here." He halted and turned, the children all with various expressions of tiredness, weariness and anxiousness.

Looking around and counting as he went, he made out there were twenty seven children and one elleth and they were all looking at him, awaiting their next order. "We shall build a small fire bed down for the night." He said, he looked at the girl he was carrying to see she was asleep. "I'll hunt for some food, tell them to remain quiet and stay close." The elleth nodded and took the girl from him, "Is now a good time to tell you I don't have any maternal instincts?" she joked.

Legolas weakly smiled, "I'm prince Legolas, and you?"

"I do think that since we're stuck out here lost and battling to survive, we could drop the titles?"

Legolas blinked, "True. Alright, I'm Legolas."

"I'm Artanis." She introduced herself.

"I'm Carnil." A tall boy informed them.

"Sirion's my name."

"Vala's mine."

"Rothinzil."

"Dagnir."

Mine's Elenath."

And so the children introduced themselves, all with names to their faces, all armed with individual characters, skills and flaws.

And all of them miles from home with only Artanis and Legolas to lead them back.

And even they were unsure how to handle so many elflings.