A Debt Repaid
A Lord of the Rings story by Deana Lisi
Disclaimer: I don't own Legolas or any other LOTR character.
A huge hannon le to my dear gwathel Karri for providing me with this story plot!
"Did you ever think this day would come?"
Legolas shook his head, looking up at the ceiling as if pleading to a higher power for mercy. "Never, mellon-nin."
Aragorn chuckled as he ate, watching the herd—you couldn't call them anything else—of dwarves that shared their table. He and Legolas had traveled to the Glittering Caves on Gimli's invitation, to strike a trade agreement. They'd headed to Lake Town after that, on route to Mirkwood. A group of dwarves were journeying to the floating city themselves, and decided to accompany them. They were a friendly bunch, and two dwarves in particular had shown fascination and great interest when they found out that Legolas was the son of King Thranduil. They stayed near the elf through most of the journey, talking with him quite animatedly.
"I am not sure if it is a good or bad thing that Gimli is not here also," said Legolas.
Just then, one of the dwarves laughed heartily at something that one of the others said, before belching loudly.
"He is with them in spirit!" said Aragorn.
Legolas laughed at that, finishing his drink. He never noticed his two new dwarf friends watching him slyly.
A few minutes later, Aragorn looked up to speak to his friend, but saw with surprise that Legolas' chin had fallen down to his chest. "Legolas?"
The elf gave a start, abruptly sitting up straight.
Aragorn's eyebrows shot up. "You were asleep! Are you all right?"
Legolas blinked, confused. "I was? I must be tired."
Aragorn nodded. "I would say so, my friend. Does something ail you?" he asked worriedly, knowing that it was impossible for an elf to fall ill, but also knowing that an elf did not fall asleep at dinner for no apparent reason.
Legolas shook his head. "No, nothing."
Aragorn could see by his friend's confusion that he was telling the truth, and he wondered if perhaps the elf had been staying awake on their journey at night keeping an eye on the dwarves. "Mayhap you should retire to bed."
Legolas nodded. "Aye, no doubt Jari and Bari will talk my ears off again tomorrow."
Aragorn nodded, with a smile. The two dwarves were brothers, and quite an amusing pair. "Sleep well."
"You also," the elf answered. He stood and bid goodnight to the dwarves before leaving, and neither he nor Aragorn saw Jari and Bari shoot each other excited expressions.
Legolas yawned as he entered his room. He couldn't believe how exhausted he felt; he'd actually had to stop on the stairs and shake his head to clear the fog from it. He was glad that Aragorn had not been there to witness it, for he would surely have thought something wrong with him—and Legolas would not have blamed him.
Yawning again, Legolas shuffled to his bed, his eyes more closed than open. He felt like his consciousness was being forcefully taken from him, and he plopped down on his bed. Alarm filled his mind, for he knew that this was not normal, but before he could figure out what to do, his consciousness suddenly fled.
Bari and Jari watched as Legolas left, and Bari—the elder brother—left a minute later, taking a different route so Aragorn wouldn't notice him following the elf.
Peeking around a corner, he saw Legolas standing halfway up the staircase. The elf shook his head, making his whole body sway.
The dwarf had to cover his mouth to hide a laugh as he slid back around the corner, not wanting to be spotted. He listened as Legolas climbed the rest of the steps—slowly, he noticed—and he climbed them himself, following the elf until Legolas disappeared into his room. The Mirkwood Prince's mind was so muddled that he didn't fully close the door, and Bari watched as Legolas collapsed on the bed.
Tiptoe-ing into the room, Bari approached the bed, noting the elf's completely-closed eyes. "Legolas?" he said.
He got no reply.
"Elf!" he said louder, shaking his arm.
Trying not to laugh again, he tiptoe-ran out the door and carefully closed it, grinning ear-to-ear as he ran down the staircase and back into the Inn's dining room, where he sat beside his brother.
"Well?" Jari whispered.
"He's out like a dead orc!" Bari whispered back.
Jari snorted into his mug, ignoring the ale that spilled into his brown beard. "Aragorn has been watching the direction that Legolas went in," he said, gesturing to the human. "I think that he wants to check on him."
Bari nodded. "Aye, I noticed his concern when the elf fell asleep at the table!"
Jari downed the rest of his drink. "We must hurry, then!"
Bari nodded, and the two dwarves left, taking the same back route that Bari had taken earlier. They dashed up the stairs as fast as their short legs could go and ran into Legolas' room, finding the elf exactly where he'd passed out.
"Hurry!" said Bari. "We need to make it look like he went to bed!"
Together, they shifted Legolas' body and covered him with the blanket.
"What about his eyes?" said Jari. "They're closed! Aragorn will know something is wrong with him when he sees that!"
"Well, open them, then!" said Bari.
Jari made a face, reaching over to comply.
Bari chuckled as he watched, and they were both surprised when the elf's eyes remained open.
Jari waved his hand before Legolas' face, nervously wondering if he'd woken.
The sudden sound of a soft knock met their ears, and a whispered, "Legolas?"
The dwarves panicked; Bari grabbed Jari and dove under the bed.
Aragorn quietly opened the door, walking silently to the bed. He was relieved to see his friend's eyes open in sleep, and his nerves calmed. Checking his friend's pulse, he found it slow but steady, and concluded that Legolas really was just very tired. He still thought it odd, for an elf, but Legolas appeared fine, so he left the room as quietly as he had entered.
One dwarf, and then the other popped their heads out, listening as the human walked down the hall and into his own room.
"Go get the rope!" Bari told his brother.
Jari obeyed, hurrying to his room and bringing it back. They tied it under the elf's arms and lifted him, surprised at how light Legolas was. They carried him over to the window and opened it, carefully guiding the limp elf through and lowering him to the ground below.
Suddenly, though, the rope slipped from Jari's hands and Bari was pulled forward as Legolas' dead weight proved too much for one small dwarf…they both gasped at the sound of a sudden thump.
"We dropped him!" Jari exclaimed, hands over his mouth in shock.
Bari looked out the window, seeing the unconscious elf lying on the ground. "I do not think he fell far," he said, remembering how far he'd been yanked forward by the pull of the rope. "Only about five feet or so."
Jari sighed; half relieved, half horrified.
"Come!" Bari said, throwing the rope out and closing the window.
Leaving the room, they ran outside and grabbed a wheelbarrow that they'd hidden behind the building. Bringing it to Legolas, they nervously checked him for broken bones. Relieved when they found none, they placed him in the wheelbarrow.
Glad that it was dark, they maneuvered it—with difficulty—to the waters of Long Lake, where a large barrel floated, tied to a tree.
Unable to stop himself, Jari laughed as they pulled the barrel to shore and removed the cover.
"There is still flour inside!" Bari exclaimed.
"I tried to get it all out," said Jari.
Bari shrugged and they took hold of Legolas, pulling him out of the wheelbarrow and sliding him into the barrel.
"He is too tall," said Jari.
"Stuff him in!" said Bari. "It does not matter; we will come back at dawn and let him out when he wakes!"
Jari nodded and they shoved the elf inside before replacing the cover and looping the rope around it. Finished, they pushed it back into the water and watched as it bobbed helplessly.
Looking at each other, the two dwarves burst out laughing.
"We've done it!" said Jari.
"Indeed we have!" said Bari. "Finally, we have our revenge on Thranduil! Let us see how the King's son enjoys floating in a barrel the way that our father had to!"
Laughing again, they headed back to the Inn.
The night passed slowly for the dwarves, who took turns staying awake, lest they sleep past dawn and Legolas suffer in the barrel longer then necessary. They felt no malice towards the elf; even their father, who'd been imprisoned by King Thranduil so long ago, laughed at the incident where he and his fellow dwarves had escaped the Mirkwood dungeon in floating barrels.
When light began to fill the sky, the two dwarves quickly made their way to the floating barrel, but what they found shocked them even more than dropping the elf out the window had—
The barrel was gone.
Jari gave an exclamation of alarm and ran over to the tree…the only clue of the barrel's whereabouts being the broken rope that lay on the shore.
ROTFL! I can see the headlines now! "Missing: one blond-haired elf. Last seen floating down a lake in a flour barrel." (hides) LOL! I must truly say that I'm amazed that a few readers who saw my preview figured out that he was in a barrel. Of course, mention of Thranduil imprisoning dwarves that later escaped in barrels came from The Hobbit.