On the Roadside.

Rating: G

Summary: All skills will need to be utilized in order to win, and with some help from a friend, Legolas retrieves some old skills.

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The fellowship had been travelling for some time. All were footsore and weary. Tempers were short and even Sam snapped at Pippin when Pippin trod on his cloak. All wanted a rest and even Gimli took one gladly when the opportunity came. Boromir was fooling around with Merry and Pippin whose tempers were gradually restored by the short stop. Gimli was polishing his axe muttering grimly to himself. Sam and Frodo conversed silently in the corner. Legolas and Aragorn sat a little to one side. Legolas was polishing his knives gently as if they were a pair of old friends, and Aragorn watched without saying anything. He had always wondered why Legolas did not carry a sword as it was obvious knives were not his first weapon skilled though he was with them.

He was not sure if it would be impolite to ask Legolas why he did not wield a sword but Legolas intercepted his glances at his knives, and put them away. When Aragorn summoned up enough courage to ask him the question Legolas turned dark cool eyes to Aragorn. "It is a long tale," he said quietly. "I would not wish to bore you."

"You would not bore me," said Aragorn. Legolas sat back eyes fixed on the sky.

"It was a long time ago many autumns from this time. I was the best at swordsmanship in my guard. We were young elves, though we believed ourselves old and wise. I was very skilled I suppose, and certainly I reckoned myself a master swordsman, since none of my peers could rival me with a blade. Not even my best friend Fariner though he was skilled indeed. We were best friends; rather thrown together being the two youngest in the guard. We had fought together, killed together, and we could lapse back into childish ways around one another. We loved to mock duel to show off our skills in the intricate patterns of attack and blocks."

He paused then continued. "One day Fariner challenged me to a duel, to impress the lady whom he liked. I was supposed to let him win but we got carried away. Our strokes got wilder and wilder, and we were laughing as the swords clashed together. Elthwen the maiden for whose honor we were mock duelling was laughing as well as she watched us. She was no mean hand at the sword herself though she is long dead now. I swung at my friend expecting him to block the blow, but it went through his neck. I watched in horror as the blood spilled out and the look of shock in his eyes as he turned to me in bewilderment his hand going to his throat the blood spilling out through his fingertips.

Elthwen turned to me her eyes huge in her pale face. She had seen death before and knew that Fariner would die soon and that not even the most skilled of healers could heal a wound like this.

Fariner was mumbling something as blood frothed. We bent closer to hear what he said."

Legolas's eyes were closed now.

He said. 'It wasn't Legolas's fault. Don't punish him with outcasting him.' With his last words he absolved me of blame. But not even that could absolve me of the blame I felt within my own heart. The council when sentencing me took into account that I was not 'at fault' for the 'tragic accident,' and also of the fact that I was the king's only son.

I was sent to Elrond in Rivendell for Thraundil my father could no longer bear to look on the face of the son he thought of as a murderer. I swore that day I would never again bear a sword except in the most dire need. I retrained with knives and developed my bow skills."

Aragorn nodded. Standing he walked to Boromir and asked him something. Boromir handed Aragorn his sword with a few words. Aragorn walked back to Legolas and laid Anduril carefully down beside him. Bewildered Legolas looked at Aragorn.

Aragorn looked back steadily. "Its time to forget the past Legolas. On this quest we will need all the skills we can muster. Show me your skill with the sword." Legolas's face was a picture of different emotions- usually so blank now a thousand different expressions passed through his face in a second. He handled the sword uncertainly and stood balancing the sword's weight. He tried a few practice swings surprised at how readily even after four hundred years, his body responded to the sword's weight and heft and compensated. He felt his old skills rush back, into fingers unused to gripping a sword handle.

Aragorn looked at him steadily seeing Legolas's unease. "I know how to block my friend." Legolas nodded. He was disarmed easily at first a number of times, until he felt lke flinging the sword on the ground in frustration, but after the fourteenth shambolic exchange he felt some of the old knowledge run through his limbs soon enough turning him in motion with the sword. He blocked Aragorn's next blow easily and swung in reply feeling the return block. Back and forth the battle went sometimes favoring Aragorn other times Legolas. Finally in one smooth motion Legolas swept the sword from Aragorn's hand landing it some feet away.

Merry and Pippin boisterous as usual shouted congratulations even Gimli looked up in annoyance and muttered something to do with how the elf wasn't half bad with the sword. Gandalf looked at them shrewedly and nodded. The second match Aragorn won. They were well matched, though Aragorn had the edge in swordsmanship, and though Legolas claimed that Anduril had helped him. Legolas sat down aching. Aragorn smiled turning away to return Boromir's sword. He returned and looked at Legolas. After a few minutes Legolas quietly muttered a thank you. Aragorn shrugged, a smile on his face. "We all have to let go of the past sometime."

So it was crap. Are you going to sue me?