Of Elf-Princes and Mortal Menby Erestor
Disclaimer: I own nothing pertaining to Lord of the Rings.
A man and an Elf stood side by side, watching the sun sink slowly into the horizon, tinging the White City a pale gold. They were both panting for breath.
"Do you think we lost them?" asked the Elf, glancing over his shoulder.
The young man shook his head. "Of course not. They'll find us eventually."
"Why did you tell them that I was a hero?" asked the Elf. "You exaggerated. I am not a hero. Not quite. I'm almost a hero. But not totally and completely a hero. You don't want to mislead young innocent children, do you?"
The man smirked. "All right then. Have it your way. You're not a hero. I shouldn't have told them that."
"Anyway," said the Elf, "now they'll all want to hear about my adventures."
"I'm actually rather curious about your adventures myself," confessed the man.
The Elf shook his head sadly. "Not you too! There's nothing much to tell. Aragorn and I traveled around Middle-Earth, got into trouble now and then, got out of the trouble, and then lived happy contented lives."
"I heard an interesting story about you and him," said the man, a grin beginning to spread across his face. "It had to do with some Orcs and an abandoned mine."
The Elf sat down quite suddenly. "Bergil! Who told you about that incident?"
"Incident?" Bergil raised his eyebrows teasingly. "It sounded more like an epic than an incident."
"It was an incident," said the Elf firmly.
"I suppose it was only an incident," mused the young man, "especially when you compare it to the time you and Aragorn got captured by men who wanted to get their revenge on your father."
"Ai! That one was embarrassing." The Elf sighed, and swung his feet carelessly, lightly scuffing the ground with his boot. Perched on the white stone wall, glowering half-heartedly at Bergil, Legolas did not look like a hero. Not quite.
"So you admit it happened?" asked Bergil. He was too curious to act diplomatic.
"Perhaps someday someone will tell about an adventure that Aragorn and I didn't have," said Legolas. "However, that day has not yet arrived."
At that moment, Eldarion dashed up the stairs, gasping for breath. It was apparent that he had been running for a long time. Behind him scampered Morwen, daughter of Faramir and Éowyn. She was seven years old and already reckless and bold. Eldarion was eight years old and just as adventurous.
"We found you!" he yelled in delight, flinging himself forward. Legolas caught him before he went over the side of the wall.
Morwen jumped up and down happily, her long braids twisting and her bright eyes dancing. "Now you have to tell us a story!"
Legolas groaned, pretending to be horrified by the idea. "A story? Surely we've told you two every story there is!"
"No, you haven't!" cried Eldarion. "You never told us about your adventures! You never said that you were a hero!"
"Well," began Legolas, "I don't know if you're ready for this yet."
Bergil was perfectly ready to encourage the youngsters. "Of course they're ready! You're brave little warriors, aren't you?"
"Not little," said Eldarion.
"We're big!" squeaked Morwen. She scrambled onto Bergil's lap. "Tell us a story, please."
Legolas looked at Eldarion and Morwen. They could tell he was weakening. They widened their eyes and stared at him pleadingly. "Please tell us a story," begged Eldarion.
Legolas sighed, giving in. "All right. A long time ago, your father and I went on many adventures together."
"My father?" asked Eldarion.
"Really? He had adventures?" Eldarion was surprised. "But he's a king! He just sits around all the time!"
"He had adventures though," said Legolas. "Though I'm not sure which one you should hear."
"I'll start then," said Bergil. "Once upon a time— "
"Now hold on for a moment," said Legolas. "It wasn't that long ago."
"Only sixty years, right?"
Legolas was forced to say yes.
"See? That's a long time ago," said Bergil. He resumed his story. . .
"Aragorn and Legolas were sneaking through the forest. Actually, they were hunting in the forest. As usual, Aragorn was unable to hit anything. As usual, Legolas was a perfect shot."
"That's not fair!" said Eldarion defensively. "My father can hit any target in the world!"
"He can now," said Legolas. "But he couldn't back then."
"Legolas suddenly realized that someone was stalking them."
"Why didn't my father notice?" asked Eldarion.
"Because he was too busy trying to shoot a deer," said Bergil soothingly. "Don't worry. Your father gets to do lots of exciting stuff in just a minute."
"Good," said Eldarion.
"And lots of Orcs jumped out of the bushes. Aragorn and Legolas were ready for them though, and they fought them off bravely — "
"Cool! Fighting!" said Morwen excitedly. She clapped her hands, bouncing up and down on Bergil's lap.
"I think I should tell them this part," said Legolas.
"All right. Go ahead," said Bergil, tickling Morwen.
Legolas coughed to get their attention.
"Unfortunately, Aragorn was tired, because mortals are always tired— "
Eldarion sounded as if he was choking. Legolas paused until the young boy began breathing again.
"And he didn't notice the Orc that was sneaking up on him. I turned around just in time to see the Orc chop him in the back. Blood was everywhere! I dashed over towards Aragorn and killed the Orc. But Aragorn was bleeding a lot. I knew I had to save him."
Bergil glanced at the children. Their eyes were huge. "Legolas. . ."
Legolas was getting carried away.
"Blood was everywhere! There was so much blood, I couldn't see how badly wounded Aragorn actually was. The place was covered with Orc blood from the Orc, and man blood from Aragorn. I picked up Aragorn (getting lots of blood on me) and then— "
"Legolas," said Bergil. "You're scaring them."
"I was a little scared myself," said Legolas. "It was a scary experience. All that blood, you know."
Bergil frowned. "Legolas. . ."
"I'm sorry. Morwen, Eldarion, there was hardly any blood at all. Forget the blood! Aragorn was only a little scratched," said Legolas quickly. "Anyway, once he recovered consciousness. . ."
"He was unconscious? From a scratch?" asked Eldarion.
"He hit his head on a tree," explained Bergil.
Legolas shot a thankful look in Bergil's direction. "Once he recovered consciousness, we hurried off into the forest, trying to avoid the Orcs that wanted to. . .um. . .hurt us."
"Like hide-and-go-seek?" asked Morwen, thinking of her favorite game.
"Yes, exactly like that," nodded Legolas, "except more dangerous."
Eldarion frowned, looking just like his father. "Orcs are evil," he announced. "I hope you killed lots of them."
Slightly taken aback, Legolas nodded again. "Of course. Our mission in life was to kill lots and lots of Orcs."
"Cool," said Morwen.
"But even we couldn't avoid the Orcs forever," said Legolas. "Some of them burst out of a clever ambush! We fought bravely, but they eventually captured us."
There was a long silence. Morwen and Eldarion waited anxiously for more of the tale while Legolas panicked, wondering how to describe the next events. Bergil spoke up after a moment.
"But you escaped soon after, right?" he asked.
Legolas snapped out of his daze. "Yes, we escaped," he said. "We were only. . .er. . .mildly injured."
"And the only way to keep the Orcs from catching them again was to swim across a river," said Bergil in a stage-whisper.
"Yes," said Legolas. "We hurried to the river and began to swim across."
"But before they could get far, your father saw a large fish in the water, and began to panic," continued Bergil.
"Panic?" asked Eldarion scornfully. "Father would never panic."
"This was a large fish," said Legolas seriously. "It had teeth like knives."
"And it smelled blood in the water," added Bergil.
"Who was bleeding?" asked Morwen.
Another pause. "I guess we both were," said Legolas. "I'd gotten a few scrapes myself, mainly from being in the Orc camp."
Bergil decided to drive home an important lesson. "You must never ever get captured by Orcs," he said. "They aren't very nice."
"So what happened?" asked Morwen. "Did the fish eat you?"
Legolas grinned. "No."
Morwen realized how silly her question had been and laughed. "But did it bite you?"
"Yes, it bit me on the arm," said Legolas.
"Did it hurt?" asked Morwen.
"Just a little," said Legolas bravely.
Morwen was still worried. "Did you cry?"
"No," said Legolas.
"You really are a hero!" cried the small girl. She snuggled closer to the Elf.
"But what happened?" demanded Eldarion.
"Well, they made it to the opposite side of the river," said Bergil. "As they were making a campfire, so that they could dry their clothes, wargs were lying in wait for them."
"Why?" asked Morwen.
"Because they were hungry," said Legolas. "And they wanted to EAT US ALL UP!!!"
"But they didn't eat us either," smiled Legolas. "We killed them all."
"You killed them?" asked Morwen. "Why?"
"Because they wanted to eat us," said Legolas.
"They had to save themselves," said Eldarion in older brother fashion. "That was the only way to stay alive. They had to kill them."
"All right," said Morwen. "Then what happened?"
"What did happen?" Legolas asked himself. He realized that he couldn't quite remember.
Bergil grinned. This was fun. "Then Legolas got amnesia."
"Who's she?" asked Morwen.
"Who's. . .she?" Bergil frowned. "No, amnesia isn't a she, amnesia is. . .uh. . .sort of like a sickness."
"Oh," said Morwen. "What does it do?"
"It makes you lose your memory," said Bergil. "You forget everything!"
"Are you sure that happened?" asked Legolas.
"Of course it happened," said Bergil. "This is one part of the story I know! The King told me all about it."
"So when does Dad get to do something cool?" asked Eldarion.
"He gets to do something cool right now," said Bergil, smiling. "He hauled Legolas to a Dwarven settlement."
"Eh? When was that?" asked Legolas. "He didn't do that!"
"Oh, yes, he did," said Bergil. "I told you that he told me all about it. And would the King lie to me?"
"No!" said Eldarion. "He wouldn't! He's the King!"
"Yes. See, Legolas? It's all true," said Bergil happily. He bounced Eldarion lightly on his lap. "So then the Dwarves helped cure Legolas. . .but for a price."
"I don't remember any of this," said Legolas, who was looking confused.
"That's 'cause you had 'nesia," said Morwen, proudly.
"But I didn't get amnesia!" said Legolas. "Aragorn did!"
"Yes," said Legolas. "I carried him to a town and found a cure."
"For a price?" asked Bergil, hopefully.
"Yes," said Legolas.
"No fair!" wailed Eldarion. "My father isn't doing anything!. . .Except getting hurt," he added.
"I got hurt too," said Legolas.
"Yeah, well, he got hurt worse," said Eldarion.
"What was the price?" asked Morwen.
Legolas actually blushed. "The woman who cured Aragorn asked for some of my hair."
"Your hair?" Eldarion's eyes nearly bugged out. "What did she want your hair for?"
"I have no idea," said Legolas.
"That's a daft price," muttered Eldarion to himself. "Who wants hair? Who wants Legolas's hair? That's sick."
Eldarion was discovering that the hero business was not all it was cracked up to be. It was actually rather stupid.
"That's really romantic," said Morwen happily. "Can I have some of your hair too?"
Eldarion decided that Morwen was crazy. In fact, all girls were crazy. He was never going to have anything to do with them again.
Just then, Lady Éowyn came up the stairs. "I see you found them," she said. "I thought that you two were going to catch them both and bring them to bed," she added, almost accusingly.
"I'm sorry, Mother," said Morwen. "But they were telling us a story!"
"I'm sorry too," said Bergil. "I didn't know that you needed to put them to bed this early."
Éowyn laughed. "Bergil, I sent Morwen and Eldarion to take you and Legolas to bed. You're tired. You had a big day."
Legolas and Bergil glanced at each other. "We did," said Legolas. "I suppose we are tired."
"Come on, Morwen," said Éowyn. "You too, Eldarion. Say goodnight to Legolas and Bergil."
"Goodnight, Legolas and Bergil," said Morwen and Eldarion in unison.
Eldarion lingered for a few moments. "I guess you are a hero," he said. "But I'm going to ask my father what happened. I bet he's a hero too."
"He certainly is," said Legolas. "Goodnight, Eldarion."
Eldarion scampered after Morwen and her mother, dashing down the stairs.
Legolas and Bergil looked at each other.
"How's your arm?" asked Bergil.
"It's all right," said Legolas. "It hardly hurts now. What about your head?"
"Still attached to my neck," chuckled Bergil.
"We did have a big day," said Legolas.
"Yeah. I didn't know there were Orcs so near to Minas Tirith."
"There aren't Orcs near it anymore," said Legolas. "Though I was worried for a moment. Don't try to fight five Orcs at once ever again! Aragorn learned the hard way that it rarely works."
"What is it about you that attracts danger?" asked Bergil. "We go out on one simple hunting trip, and almost die."
They sat for a moment longer, Legolas cradling his bandaged arm thoughtfully. Then Bergil mused aloud, "And what is it about you that attracts foolish mortals to your side, to get injured and to kill Orcs and to have amazing adventures?"
Legolas laughed. "That I will never know."
They sat in silence, considering the exciting events of the day.
"So do you want to go hunting with me again?" asked Legolas, eyebrows raised questioningly.
Bergil grinned. "Of course! I had a great time!"
That was what they all said.