Rituals of Old

On the hunt for Merry and Pippin, Aragorn seeks an aloof Legolas out and finds him doing something that seems, at first, a little odd. (Just a bit of madness for the heck of it.)


A day of running had brought to rest at last a small party of strange companions. Not in many long centuries had the trees and ground on the edge of Rohan seen three such as these pass together as friends, if ever. And yet here sat a Ranger tending fire with a Dwarf, and an Elf not far from the camp completed the group. The Dwarf was perched upon a log he had dragged from nearby, now sharpening his axe with an expression of gratitude for sake of finally being able to rest. The Man was not as tired as he, but no less relieved, for they had run a good distance and had many more miles stretched before them on the morrow. He sat with his back against a tree, his eyes watching the dance of the fire and his lips curled around the mouthpiece of a pipe.

After a time the Dwarf put his axe aside and fixed his gaze upon the Ranger. "I think I'll turn in," he said gruffly, sliding down off the log to make his bed near the flames. "We've a lot of distance to cover, and I'll want to be fresh. Unless you want me to keep watch." The last was added half-heartedly, for the Dwarf knew he could not escape the offer and still show up their other companion with his boast of endurance.

The Ranger knew he was tired, and knew as well there was no reason he should not sleep, save for pride. That was no reason for the Dwarf to deny himself what he sorely needed. "Nay, Gimli. You needn't trouble yourself, unless it is your want to stay awake, for Legolas would keep watch even were there no reason. It is in the nature of Elves to go long without sleep. You may keep him company if you wish, but I fear sleep will claim me whether I would have it or not." He offered a wan smile.

Gimli grunted and patted the ground as one would a bed, then settled his hindquarters further into the dirt reflexively. "Yes, well, he may wish for privacy, anyway. At least it seems that way. He has been away from us all evening." The Dwarf paused midway into a prone position. "You don't suppose anything happened to him, do you, Aragorn?"

Far be it from any Elf to be dragged off so easily without making a sound that would tell them of danger, and yet it was not usual that Legolas would remain away so very long. Aragorn knit his brow in thought. "I do not believe so, but perhaps I should make certain. With so many evil things happening around us, I would not chance leaving him to his thoughts without certainty." Pushing himself up from the tree, the Ranger glanced off in the direction he had last seen the Elf go. "Keep watch and listen."

"Aye," Gimli agreed, crossing his arms over his chest and looking up at the stars.

Aragorn departed the camp and headed into the woods, keeping eyes and ears open for any sign of his friend. "Legolas?" he called, brushing past a low hanging tree limb. The shadows of the forest concealed much.

"Si, Aragorn," beckoned the Elf's voice from not far.

The Ranger followed the sound to the edge of the woods where he saw his friend seated on the edge of a short precipice overlooking the grasslands below. "Gimli nautha ha goll ceni o le. Man carich?" he asked him, wondering what had been keeping the Elf away.

Legolas answered simply, "Breithol gwaew."

This reply caused Aragorn to pause a moment, wondering if he had heard correctly. There was no help for it. He would have to make sure his hearing wasn't failing him. "Breithol gwaew?" he repeated, furrowing his brow. It wasn't that he did not believe Elves could and actively did do that, it was only he did not expect Legolas to be so bold in announcing it.

"Aye, Aragorn. It is an old ritual of my people." He put his hand to his breast. "The turmoil within is as a raging storm. It must be torn asunder by sheer force of will, or bring about destruction to he who holds it in."

Drawing his hand over his mouth, Aragorn stroked his mustache thoughtfully and drew his shining eyes away from his friend's most serious expression. "Aye," he said, coughing lightly. "It is a terrible feeling, the...turmoil."

The Elf eyed him a moment with knit brows. "Is something wrong?"

Quickly schooling his features, the Ranger shook his head. "Nay, my friend. Continue with your...ritual. Gimli and I are going to retire for the night."

If he thought anything of Aragorn's little slip, he said nothing. Legolas watched his friend a second more, then nodded. "I will return to camp to keep watch in a moment."

"Take all the time you need," Aragorn assured him with a genuine smile, then made his way back to the campfire.

Gimli's eyes were closed, and a slight snore emitted from beneath his long mustache, but he was easily roused as Aragorn settled in nearby. "What was the Elf doing?" he asked drowsily.

The Ranger relaxed on his back and folded his hands beneath his head. "He called it a ritual."

"Ritual?" the Dwarf turned his head to look at him.

Aragorn sighed and rolled onto his side to return his companion's gaze. "Shall I tell you his words?" Gimli nodded, curiosity coloring his features. The Ranger rubbed at his forehead in thought, then shrugged. "He said he was breaking wind." He rolled back onto his back.

The Dwarf sputtered in surprise, sitting up to look at Aragorn more fully. "Breaking wind, you say? Balin's beard, the Elves have rituals for everything, don't they?" The two of them shared a laugh despite themselves.

It was then Legolas appeared from the brush, taking in their mirth with inquisitive eyes. "What is funny?"

Now, in his defense, Aragorn was about to make something up to spare his friend, but alas, the Dwarf would not have it be so. "Why, Aragorn says you've been breaking wind!" he barked, topping it off with another round of snickering. "I cannot say as I knew Elves could do that."

The Elf knit his brow, the humor in this situation lost on him. "Aye, I was breaking wind." This confession only caused the Dwarf to laugh harder. Aragorn tried not to smile, but fate was against him this night, it seemed. Legolas shook his head. "We take the windstorm of fear and worry within, and we break it apart with our will."

"Fear and worry," Gimli snorted, letting out an expansive breath as he sank into the dirt once more. "Ah, if you could only hear yourself."

"I fail to see what is so funny," Legolas asserted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Do you mock the rituals of my people?"

When the Dwarf started snickering again and the Elf's gaze darkened, Aragorn knew it was time to cease the nonsense. He waved his arm and tried to stop grinning. "Legolas, he does not understand what you mean. I think I do now. Worry not. He does not mock your people. Gimli, it is not as you think."

Legolas frowned. "What is it you think I meant?" he asked. Gimli waved his arm in dismissal and rolled over, facing away from them both. The Elf looked to Aragorn to make sense of this puzzle for him.

Aragorn gave him a pointed look. "Think about it for a while. I am sure it will come to you." He settled back and looked up at the stars. "And if we go into Rohan on this hunt and meet any Men, I suggest you not tell them of this ritual of breaking wind." He smirked as Gimli started up again.

The ritual was simple to understand. The winds of tension--so called for the ferocity of the storm--within a being were quite destructive, and therefore had to be broken, lest they bring that being to ruin. It was no different than breaking waves of fear, or seeing tendrils of light. Yet even Aragorn had reacted from the moment he cited the name of the ritual of inner cleansing.

So it was that Legolas pondered this great mystery as he kept watch over his friends. And when he understood at last what was so funny, he did not speak to either of them for two days.


Si, Aragorn - Here, Aragorn.
Gimli nautha ha goll ceni o le. Man carich? - Gimli thought it wise to see about you. What are you doing?
Breithol gwaew. - Breaking wind.

Disclaimer: No infringement intended. All hail the great Tolkien, of course.
Author: Ruse angelruseATgmailDOTcom
Note: As I said, a bit of madness, born out of a conversation with my friend (Deana, the great tormentor of Legolas) about finding an Elvish phrase for farting. Hehehe.