Hi everybody!

I am posting this from Portugal, where I am visiting my mother who has gone away on business and has left me with her garden (about five thousand square metres, give or take five hundred) and our zoo. It's very nice and hot and also very nice to see all the cats and our dog again, so I am spending a few very lazy weeks here. I am flying back to Madrid on Thursday, though. •unhappy frown• I really don't want to.

Anyway, here is the little story I promised Jack. I can't actually remember if it was a birthday present or a little something for Easter; all I know is that it's about a year overdue. Sorry, Jack, I did this as fast as I could! Anyway, it's not only her story, it's also partly her idea, so it's not entirely my fault. I don't really know how all this came to pass - let's just agree that it's a mystery for the ages and leave it at that. •g•

This is a humourous story and somewhat of a parody, so please do not take it seriously! It's just a bit of fun and there will be no torture or angst (not for our heroes at least). Sorry, guys, but you'll have to wait for the next big story for that. This story here will have only three chapters and I will try to post them as quickly as possible. I am going back to Madrid on Thursday and flying back home on Tuesday next week (for good, I'm afraid), so everything will be chaotic till university starts in October and I find a flat. Still, I will try to post the next part in a week or maybe sometime this weekend. I will do my best, I can promise you that!

All right, enough of this and on to the story! Jack, I hope you will enjoy this! •hugs•

A Taste of Disaster

By: Nili

Rating: PG. Or K+ or whatever it's called here. Yes, it has happened, I wrote something with a different rating than PG-13! Yay me! •g•

Spoilers: Good question, actually. Since this is a very different kind of story, at least for me, I have really no idea. It is loosely - very loosely! - connected to my other stories, so I guess there are some tiny spoilers for some of my stories in here, most likely for "An Eye For An Eye", "To Walk In Night" and "A Sea of Troubles". Oh, and also for "Everlasting". There might be some others, though, even though - since this isn't exactly to be taken seriously - they would be really small, so don't worry about that. There are probably also some spoilers for "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Hobbit", but nothing more than the usual.

Disclaimer: I own nothing in Middle-earth (or in Valinor, for that matter), to my never-ending regret. Any recognisable character, setting, place, event and so on belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien and his heirs. I do not have anyone's permission to use any of the above, but I do so anyway. Not very nice of me, I know. The rest, however (places, characters etc.) belongs to me, so please don't kidnap any of my characters. They might be rather happy to get away from me, but I wouldn't like it all that much. Besides, my alter ego would have a fit! And, finally, this story was written just for fun, and I will most certainly not receive any money for it. It would be a wonderful way to earn my living, but you can't have everything, I guess, least of all vast sums of money. Please do not use any of my original characters without asking me first, even though I haven't got the slightest idea why anybody would want to use anything of this story. Thank you.

Summary: It had to happen sooner or later: Elrond, prompted by the reckless and dangerous usage of his healing supplies, has snapped and decided that enough is enough. His solution to the problem, however, falls victim to the fact that nothing ever goes according to plan in Rivendell, especially when a certain elf and ranger do things because they "sounded like a good idea". Aragorn and Legolas are bored, Elladan and Elrohir are annoyed, Elrond is reaching the end of his patience, and Erestor, Glorfindel and the rest of Rivendell are treading very, very carefully. And the hired henchmen realise that they should have asked just whom they were to kidnap.

Series: This story is ... well, yes, I guess you could say that it is part of my nameless mini-series. Not really, of course, since this story is not to be taken seriously by anybody! If someone should do so, I am in no way responsible for the outcome or consequences. Still, so this latest proof of me being as mad as a hatter is part of my series; the others are (in chronological order)

Straight Paths
An Eye For An Eye
The Heart of Men
To Walk In Night
A Sea of Troubles

Where exactly it fits in, I have no idea. It's a parody, people, so let's just assume it's an AU which describes just how 24 hours could be in the lives of our favourite ranger and elf. Therefore, it would take place in an AU version of my "normal" timeline, meaning sometime during the summer of III, 2954 or maybe III, 2955. It's not to be taken seriously anyway, though, so don't you mind that for once and just read on. •g•

Additional Notes: I wish to seize this chance to publicly declare that none of this is my fault. Jack and I were jokingly talking about just how impossible it would be for anyone - elf or not - to survive what I keep putting them through on a regular basis, we talked about some of the more ridiculous fanfics out there (Aragorn/Legolas/whoever undergoes horrible torture and is right as rain the next morning), one thing led to another and, voilà, this story was born, which I now officially give to Jack as a gift. You see what you can do with it, girl. •g•
Essencially, it's an attempt at a humourous story/parody, both of my own stories and several popular clichés that exist in LotR fanfiction. Let's just say that I was in a weird mood and leave it at that, 'k? Because I sure as He•• don't know how to explain this.

Still, universe-like: A long time ago I decided to follow Cassia and Sio's lead and pretend that Gilraen was killed with Arathorn, something that I sometimes regret by now since I try to stick as closely to canon as I can. It wasn't because I don't like her though, no; I started this way because it was easiest. I still think it's hard to integrate her into Rivendell-life realistically, and she's such a complex character that I only now feel confident enough to have a go at writing her. Now it's too late, though. •g• I hope you - and her - will forgive me for this not so little detail.

Because of this - but more because this is a Humourous Story - this is an AU. It is not meant seriously and never was; I am poking fun at LotR fanfics in general and probably my fics in particular. While I usually try to make my characters sound faintly Tolkienesque (or at least try not to make them sound as if they just walked into the story from the nearest pub), I kind of disregarded this here. I hope they still don't sound completely "modern", but it's - due to the nature of the story - probably more noticeable than before.

A small note concerning the Elvish used in this story, or, more specifically, the Sindarin: I am a follower of the "mellon nín" variety. If you like the undoubtedly equally correct "mellonen" better, bear with me. As far as I know, you can use both versions. And, last but not least: It is no secret that English is not my first language. It is, in fact, my third, but that's beside the point. •g• So please, let me know when you find a blatant and horrible mistake somewhere. You will, trust me, especially this time - humour can be tricky. Some of them always manage to sneak their way into my stories no matter how hard I try. Pointing them out to me doesn't bother me at all and really helps to improve my English. Thank you!

Chapter 1

It was a beautiful day. The sky was of a deep, azure blue colour, there were no clouds in sight, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. All of Rivendell was bathed in the brilliant morning light, and the elves that had nothing better to do (which accounted for quite a few) were strolling through the gardens and were taking walks down to the Bruinen with their friends and family.

So, it was indeed a beautiful day, Elrond decided, that was something no one in their right mind could or would have contested.

Unfortunately, he was not in his right mind at the moment.

The half-elf scowled at the far too bright and happy valley that spread out beneath him and turned away from the window in a very abrupt and uncharacteristic manner. He thought about taking up pacing once more, but quickly decided against it. It wouldn't help, that much was sure, and he wasn't ready to be seen by somebody who would inevitably tell Glorfindel. He had stopped wondering a long time ago why Glorfindel was behaving like his mother or why he actually let the golden-haired elf get away with that kind of attitude. It only gave him a headache.

And somebody would see him, too. Sometimes he had the feeling that there were far too many unemployed elves walking through the corridors of his home. He couldn't even remember where they had all come from; Valar, he couldn't even remember most of their names. Being surrounded by far too many strange people all the time was something that could drive even one of the Wise to distraction.

Elrond thought about that for a while and then shook his head in disgust. Being one of the Wise wasn't all that great a thing anyway; one just had to look at his "colleagues". He guessed that most of them were unable to even tie their own shoelaces, let alone determine the fate of Middle-earth. His parents-in-law were all right, he guessed, Galadriel in a rather creepy way at that, and Celeborn was … well, a Sinda. That was all that could be said about that. Mithrandir was indeed wise – if he hadn't been at the Halflings' weed again. But, Elbereth be his witness, no one should even get him started on Curunír. He simply couldn't stand the White Wizard, and he had the very distinct impression that the dislike was mutual.

These thoughts only served to turn his already dark mood positively black, and he ground his teeth firmly. He had enough of all this. He was one of the Wise and he would not put up with it any longer, and that was that.

"My lord?" A tentative voice behind him asked, and Elrond whirled around, once again gritting his teeth, this time in order not to snap at the young elf that had addressed him.

It didn't help at all, of course. The dark-haired elf was shrinking back as if Elrond had turned into a cave troll. He even began to tremble slightly, and Elrond absent-mindedly gave him extra points for that.

"Yes?" he asked, trying to sound as harmless as possible. "What is it?"

The other elf looked clearly unconvinced, but he bravely stretched out an arm and presented his lord with several pieces of paper and a quill whose tip was wet with dark ink. The tremors had mostly stopped. Elrond decided darkly that he must be losing his touch.

"The human traders are here, my lord. You … you need to sign this."

Elrond contemplated asking what 'this' was for a moment, but quickly decided that he didn't care. That was one of the reasons why he had subordinates, after all – perhaps it was quite useful having all these strange elves around. The ones in charge of the warehouses would know what they needed, wouldn't they?

The half-elf was quite happy in that knowledge until he remembered the last time, when somebody had ordered three barrels of brown dye. He was still firmly convinced that it had been Prince Legolas; who else but a wood-elf would even consider a colour like that? Elrond thought about going down to the warehouses to make sure everything was in order, but then he decided that he had better and more important things to do.

Grasping the offered quill with quite a bit more force than necessary, he began to sign the documents. He didn't even notice that he was mumbling under his breath while he was stabbing the quill at the parchment, but when he looked up, the young messenger had backed away as far as courtesy allowed him and was watching him out of wide, rather scared eyes.

Elrond decided to placate him with a smile, which only seemed to have adverse effects. If anything, the younger elf looked even more scared now.
"Is there anything else?"

The other elf looked at him as if he had spoken these last words in the Black Tongue, but finally he began to shake his head frantically.
"No, my lord, no." Elrond didn't avert his eyes and only kept looking at him, and so the young elf added, looking as if he was asking this against his better judgement, "It's just that … are you all right, my lord?"

That was quite clearly something that he shouldn't have asked. Elrond's face darkened even more, and there came a bright light into his eyes that did not look healthy at all.
"All right?" the half-elven healer exclaimed, not even noticing that he was waving his quill in a rather unstable-looking manner. "All right?" He stared at the younger elf as if he had committed some sort of horrible crime. "What do you think?"

The younger elf quite clearly thought that his lord had taken leave of his senses, but was too well-educated to actually say it.
"I … I do not…"

"Let me ask you a question," the wild-eyed Lord of Rivendell went on, still waving the quill around in a manner that looked disconcerting at best and dangerous at worst. "Would you be all right if you had seen all the things I have seen over the past few years?"

That was a trick question, the young elf thought frantically. He just knew it was a trick question. Lord Elrond had been behaving very strangely lately, and had developed a worrying and highly annoying liking for asking these horrible rhetorical questions that you just couldn't answer correctly.
"Uhm, I would say that…"

"No, you wouldn't be," Elrond answered his own question. "Nobody would be, at least nobody who is still in possession of his mental faculties. Mind you, sometimes I have the feeling that those who do have already left Rivendell far behind and are sitting somewhere on the shore of the Undying Lands, sipping their wine and laughing at me."

The younger elf would clearly have liked to protest, but he either couldn't bring himself to lie or was too scared by the strange glint in his lord's eyes.
"I do not think that anybody…"

Elrond cut him off again, and the other elf dimly wondered if he would ever finish a sentence in this conversation again. Or ever, period. The dark-haired healer returned his attention to the papers he was still holding, once again beginning to paint dark letters onto the parchment with angry, stabbing movements.

"I will not tolerate this behaviour any longer. I am the lord of this place, and I will not allow a group of younglings to dictate my behaviour."

The younger elf decided quite correctly that the only way of action was agreeing with everything Lord Elrond said. Valar, he would be agreeing to almost anything at this point if Lord Elrond just stopped looking at him like that, namely as if he wanted to rip off his head at the shoulders.

"Yes, my lord."

Elrond went on as if he hadn't heard him, which he probably hadn't.
"And if anybody calls Glorfindel, I will have them drawn and quartered. And Glorfindel too, perhaps." The half-elf smiled in a manner that would have made most people shrink back. Things being as they were, the young elf was already too terrified to react much and only gritted his teeth. "We should do that more often anyway. It would lighten things up a lot around here."

"Yes, my lord." A part of the younger elf actually happened to agree with that, and besides, he was not Lord Glorfindel. He was not related to him, he was not a friend of his, and he was not looking like him. There was no way he could be coonnected to the golden-haired elf in any way, so he should be safe.

'Should be' being the operative words; Lord Elrond had been behaving very strangely lately, after all.

Elrond signed the last of the documents with a flourish, apparently somewhat cheered up by his bloodthirsty thoughts, and raised his eyes to meet the other elf's wide ones.
"Or we could try something a bit more traditional. What about public hangings?"

"A good idea, my lord."

"Yes, I think so, too," Elrond agreed readily and handed the documents back to the younger elf. A young elven couple walked past them, inclining their heads in greeting before they went back to gazing adoringly at each other, and so much unbridled sickly-sweet happiness was enough to bring back the elf lord's dark mood. "Have you seen my sons, pen-neth?"

The elf didn't really know what a negative answer would lead to, but he was rather sure that he didn't want to find out.
"I … I think they are in the Hall of Fire, my lord," he said.

He hadn't thought that the half-elf's smile could get any bigger and more disconcerting, but now he was quickly proven wrong. For a moment, he actually saw why some of Rivendell's inhabitants upheld the theory that Lord Elrond was actually part warg. When he smiled at you like that, anybody would be willing to swear that there was truth to that. Or maybe he was indeed – as was theorised by others – somehow related to the Dark Lord. With his mixed heritage, who knew. A Maia was a Maia, after all.

"Very good," Lord Elrond said somewhat gleefully, oblivious to the other's thoughts, which was probably a rather good thing. He was not really in the mood for anything but instant agreement. "They will never see this coming."

The messenger was contemplating asking about what he was talking about, but quickly decided otherwise. Firstly, he didn't really want to know, and secondly, he would be damned if he got into the middle of this. Before Lord Elrond could notice his silence, he quickly reassumed his grin-and-nod attitude.

"No, my lord."

If Elrond noticed the not very genuine way in which the words were spoken, he did not comment on it. He simply nodded, preoccupied, and half turned around before he seemed to remember something and stopped in mid-motion.
"Have you seen Lord Erestor?"

The younger elf only stared at him for a moment, clearly asking himself just when he had turned into a walking encyclopaedia and why his lord wanted to know that and then just as clearly deciding that, again, he didn't want to know. Even Elrond, in his preoccupied state, could see that the other elf was already half-planning his trip to the Grey Havens.

"I do not know for sure, my lord, but I think he was in the council chambers, discussing something with some of the secretaries. I saw him when I walked here."

Elrond nodded curtly, clearly already almost having forgotten about the other elf's presence. The smile was still on his face, and he was rubbing his hands in a manner that reminded the younger elf of a scheming dwarf. He would have rather died than share that comparison with anybody, least of all the elf standing in front of him.

"Good," Elrond said, interrupting the younger elf's thoughts. "Very good. If he is tormenting the secretaries about one thing or other, he will still be there. He enjoys these things, after all. I will go and fetch him, and then I will put an end to all this." He turned and looked at the younger elf, his eyes narrowing, and added, "Once and for all."

He turned and walked away, leaving behind a thoroughly flummoxed young elf. The half-elf didn't even notice that he was still rubbing his hands, mumbling something under his breath as he hurried towards the council chambers. The younger elf looked after him for a moment, the documents still clutched in his hands, and only when the tall, dark-haired figure had disappeared around a corner did he blink, shake his head and return to the present.

Packing was overrated, he decided calmly as he walked back towards the warehouses. He would grab an extra cloak, a blanket and a few supplies, say good-bye to his friends and leave. He had no idea what was going on here or what would happen, but he knew how this was going to end. This was Rivendell, after all, and things always ended in blood, death or mayhem.

He had no idea what Lord Elrond's solution was, but he knew that he wanted to be far, far away from here when his sons heard about it.


From where he was sitting, in his chair behind his desk in his study, Elrond had an excellent view of the entire room. In front of the desk his three sons were standing in a line like three chickens sitting on a pole, expressions of equal loathing and disbelief on their faces. Behind them, Prince Legolas was keeping a respectful distance, quite clearly trying to keep out of this. He was his father's son, Elrond thought absent-mindedly. One could say a lot of things about King Thranduil, but he most certainly wasn't stupid.

The half-elf studied the three – no, four, Prince Legolas' Thranduilesque mask was slipping – indignant faces in front of him and could hardly keep a satisfied grin off his face. Oh, this was even better than he had anticipated.

"You heard me, Elladan," he said in his coolest, most reasonable voice. He looked from his oldest son to his youngest and then to Elrohir, the grin once again threatening to appear on his face. "All of you heard me. No more hunting trips."

"Forgive me, ada," Elrohir spoke up, ever the diplomat. "But I could have sworn you said 'No more hunting trips'. There must be something wrong with my ears."

Elrond, however, was immune to that kind of sarcasm. He had been living in one house with Glorfindel and Erestor for quite a while, after all. Speaking of which… The half-elf turned to the left to give his chief councillor a quick look. Erestor was sitting in an armchair, a long piece of parchment on his knees, and was looking bored out of his skull. It was clear that he considered all this below him, but even he had known better than to protest when his lord and friend had stormed into the council chambers and had all but dragged him into his study. When Elrond smiled at you like that, you simply did not ask questions or, Valar forbid, disagree.

"If that is so, you are very welcome to come to the healing chambers and have them checked out," Elrond told the twin with a smile. It wasn't a nice smile, either. "But my word stands. There will be no more hunting trips, or if there are, you four are not to be a part of them."

"But … but why?" That was Aragorn, sounding as if he had just found out that his father had been replaced by an orc with an ill-fitting paper mask.

Elrond's smile broadened.
"Erestor, if you would."

The dark-haired elf looked up, for the first time truly paying attention to his surroundings, quite clearly resisted the urge to roll his eyes and then fixed the same on the list.

"Four months ago, a hunting trip ended with an encounter with orcs and a subsequent skirmish. Elrohir, Estel and Prince Legolas were wounded, Elrohir seriously, together with three other warriors."

"Seriously?" Elrohir asked. "It was a broken arm."

"It was a shattered shoulder," Elrond corrected him. "You almost lost the arm."

"Three months ago," Erestor went on, one long index finger tapping on a point of the parchment that was disconcertingly high up the list, "you ran into wolves. This time Elladan almost lost a … well, a certain part of his anatomy."

Aragorn chortled, ignoring the icy glare his oldest brother shot him.
"A nice way of putting it, my lord. It was…"

"Yes, Estel," Elladan interrupted him sharply, glaring daggers at his sniggering brothers. "We all know which part it was."

"Ten weeks ago, you didn't make it very far. You," Erestor narrowed his eyes at the list, clearly not being able to remember that particular event, "you fell down a mountainside and spent the next two weeks in the healing wing."

"Hillside," Legolas corrected automatically. "It was a hillside. And not even a particularly high one."

"I've seen higher ones," Elladan agreed.

"That is sad for you and completely uninteresting for me, Elladan," Erestor said, not even looking up from his list. "After that, eight weeks ago, you went on another hunting trip and were promptly kidnapped by yet another evil maniac." He looked up, grey eyes faintly amused. "I have been meaning to congratulate you on that. It was the third one this year, if you count that botched attempt back in March."

"It wasn't your stereotypical evil maniac," Aragorn said. "He was actually a rather pleasant fellow. He even gave us water."

"He tried to drown you, Estel," Elrond said, his eyebrows arching so high that they almost disappeared into his hair. "After he tortured all of you for three days."

"Well," the man shrugged. "That, too. You know, after all this time you develop a different set of standards."

"Three weeks ago," Erestor went on, ignoring everybody and everything else, apparently trying to get this over with as quickly as possible, "while you were trying to avoid yet another kidnapping attempt, you ran into a group of human highwaymen who, once they realised where you were from, took you captive and tried to exact ransom."

"That is hardly worth mentioning," Legolas said, waving dismissingly. "That was only for a few days. Lord Glorfindel found us quickly enough."

"Lord Glorfindel," Erestor interrupted him, apparently unable to let that stand without contestation, "stumbled over you with yet another hunting party – I have to talk with him about that, by the way, he is becoming as bad as you are – and barely made it out of that glade alive. And neither did you."

"Well, we did make it out," Elladan stressed. "And they held a knife to Estel's throat, to no one else's."

"Thank you so much for reminding me, muindor nín," the ranger told his oldest brother with a thoroughly fake smile.

"Yes, indeed, thank you for reminding us, Elladan," Elrond tried to reassert his position in this conversation. "I had almost forgotten about that."

"And finally, ten days ago," Erestor continued, realising that his reasonable remarks were completely lost on his surroundings, "Elladan, Estel and Prince Legolas fell off a tree which they had used as a lookout for potential quarry. If I remember correctly, you barely managed to avoid breaking your necks and could return to Rivendell only with Elrohir's help."

Elrohir looked very smug at that, but while Elladan and Aragorn only rolled their eyes and remained silent, having learned that protests wouldn't help them, Legolas took a step forward, apparently not willing to accept the dark-haired elf lord's words.

"Wood-elves, my Lord Erestor, do not fall off trees. It is something that simply does not happen."

"Oh?" Erestor asked, arching a dark eyebrow. "I have made some other experiences, personally, but far be it from my mind to disagree with you, your Highness." Legolas narrowed his eyes and had just enough time to decide that Lord Erestor could give Celylith a run for his money when it came to respectfully disrespecting him, when the elf lord continued, a lenient smile on his lips. "Then what happened?"

"Well…" Aragorn began.

"Yes?" Erestor asked.

"Well," Elladan repeated his human brother's words. "We … we might have…"

"Exactly," Elrond cut his son off. "You fell off a tree."

"No," Legolas shook his head stubbornly. "We didn't."

He would have said more, but at that moment Elrond lost his patience and shot him a look so full of menace and dark threats that even he, as a son of Thranduil, was impressed and fell silent. Erestor, either unaware of all this of not caring, looked up from his list once again, a helpful, bland expression on his face.

"I have more for you, if you want to hear it. My list reaches back another fourteen months."

The four young beings shot him a scathing look (which didn't impress him at all), but Elrond shot his head.
"Thank you, Erestor. I think that should be quite enough."

Erestor nodded and went back to staring at his list, clearly wishing to be anywhere but here, but Elrond ignored him and returned his attention to his sons and the prince.
"That should answer your question. And even if it hasn't," he interrupted himself, a rather disconcerting smile on his face, "I find that I do not care overly much. You will not be going on any more hunting trips, and that is final."

Elrohir exchanged a look with his brothers, and Elrond could almost see how his brain worked to come up with a solution. After a heartbeat he looked up at his father, the fake, harmless innocence he had inherited from his mother shining in his eyes.
"What about walks?"

"Not allowed." Erestor shook his head curtly as he rolled up his list to be able to read the lower part of it. "Not if they take you outside of the borders in the truest sense of the word."

"Nothing further than to the ford, then?" Elladan asked, an incredulous sparkle appearing in his grey eyes.

"No." The dark-haired elf lord shook his head again. Judging by his faintly amused expression, he was slowly beginning to get into the spirit of things.

"What about riding excursions?" Elrohir wanted to know, even though he knew exactly what kind of answer he would get. He had known Erestor for all his life and he had come to know and fear that sparkle that was now visible in his eyes.

He was not disappointed. Erestor raised his head and smiled at him, a smile that would have frightened even a fully grown warg.
"Please, Elrohir. Of course not."

"Visits to neighbouring settlements?" Aragorn tried.


"Visits to settlements that are a bit further away?"


"Diplomatic missions?"


"Missions of any kind?"


"Travels … well, somewhere?" That was Legolas, looking as if he wasn't sure whether he should take this seriously or not.


"Not unless you want to return home, young prince," Elrond interjected, smiling broadly at that thought. "In that case I would be more than happy to provide you with an escort to make sure you reach the realm of your father safe and sound."

Rather to make sure that he left and never came back, but that was something the half-elf didn't have to say. Even though the Thranduilesque mask was firmly back in place, the thoughts could be seen on the blond elf's face as clearly as if they had been painted on his forehead in bold black letters.

"I thank you, my lord, but that won't be necessary." Legolas smiled at the Lord of Rivendell. For a moment he regretted deeply that Celylith had had to leave a few days ago; he could use some help right about now! "I am content where I am."

"Then I suggest you make yourself comfortable in your quarters," Elrond answered, the same kind of smile on his face. "Because, by my father's star, none of you will be going anywhere until you stop this kind of behaviour."

"Until we stop this kind of behaviour?" Aragorn asked, indignation visible in every line of his face. "You make it sound as if all of this is our fault!"

"It is," Elrond said serenely. "I have meditated on during this many sleepless nights. It is your fault. I do not know yet why you do it, or even how you do it, but it is your fault."

The four young beings were staring at him out of wide eyes, quite clearly not being able to believe what they were hearing, but Elrond either didn't notice or didn't care. He was far too busy glaring disapprovingly at Erestor, who had lost the fight with the gleeful amusement that was beginning to spread over his face. He could not understand how the other elf lord could find this amusing; this was serious!

"Be that as it may," Elrond went on, unfazed by his sons' and their friend's reaction. "I already have something to keep your minds occupied. Elladan, Elrohir, there are some human traders here that need attention. I am sure the master of the warehouses could use your help. Consider it an exercise in management."

Elladan was already opening his mouth to say something, but an elbow that his twin jabbed into his ribs made him fall silent. Elrohir, always the more diplomatic one and the one more attuned to other people's feelings, knew very well that a protest would change nothing and would end in something far worse than an "exercise in management", whatever that was supposed to mean. In that case, they would be lucky if they got out of it alive and without any important parts missing.

"Yes, ada, we understand," he said respectfully, in just the tone of voice a dutiful son ought to use when speaking with his wise and revered father. "I am sure it will be … instructive."

Erestor wasn't fooled by any of this for a second. He had more than enough experience with insincere declarations (Glorfindel was his friend, after all), and besides, he had known the twins since their birth. If they looked at you like that, they were planning something you were better off not knowing about.

Elrond seemed to come to the same conclusion, but also didn't seem to care.
"Good." No one moved, and so he added, an eyebrow raised in very threatening manner, "You are dismissed."

Realising that their father was relentless about this, the twins gave Elrond a sketched bow and quickly made their way out of the room. A second later, Aragorn and Legolas seemed to decide simultaneously and without words that, in this case, discretion was definitely the better part of valour and beat a hasty retreat as well.

Erestor gave his lord and friend a few minutes to realise that he was still keeping him from various very important duties (one of them a board game with Glorfindel which he absolutely refused to lose), and when no such reaction was forthcoming, finally asked if he could be dismissed. Elrond hardly looked at him and only waved his hand in agreement, and the dark-haired councillor picked up his list and slowly and carefully moved towards the door. He wasn't quite tip-toeing or doing anything else that could be interpreted as sneaking, but it was close.

He would have had more than enough reason to sneak, for it had finally happened, the event that so many elves had anticipated with mingled malicious anticipation and dread: Lord Elrond had finally snapped and taken leave of his senses.

It was something that should have made him fear for the fate of the world in general and Rivendell and the remaining Noldor of Middle-earth in particular, but somehow, this time, Erestor found that he didn't care.

It had been bound to happen, after all.

He had always known that his father could be sneaky. Perhaps he was even a bit too sneaky to be considered a proper elf lord; then again, the people who thought in such terms were usually old, far too proper elves that frowned upon anyone who didn't have three consecutive generations of pure-blooded elves amongst their ancestors.

Be that as it may, Aragorn thought, getting firmly back on track, his foster-father was sneaky and even what one would consider distrustful. The young ranger gave the distant, gleaming silver band that was the Bruinen a longing look and turned to his fair-haired companion, his lips barely moving in order not to be overheard by anybody.

"Do you think we could lose them?"

Legolas looked at the trees around them with distaste. If you gave a bunch of Noldor a rock or something to forge, they were happy. Put them into a tree, however, and they were completely useless and about as inconspicuous as an oliphaunt amongst a herd of sheep. He briefly thought about sharing his sentiments with his human friend, but remembered the results of the last conversation of that kind and promptly closed his mouth again.

"Lose them?" he finally retorted, allowing his incredulity to be heard. "Of course we can lose them." He fell silent for a moment and then added, "Should we?"

That was apparently a question Aragorn hadn't ever asked himself. He looked at the elven prince, clearly perplexed.
"Well," he finally said. "We always do, don't we?"

That was something that could not be contested. No matter what happened or how often they got captured by orcs or evil maniacs (of both genders), they always did their best to get away from their guards/brothers/friends/guardians/fathers.

"Nothing easier than that." Legolas smiled at his companion in a faintly unsettling manner, conceding that his argument was convincing. "I have had yéni of experience with sneaking out of the palace or away from my guardians. Just ask Celylith."

"I did," the man said. "He started going red in the face and foaming at the mouth."

Legolas nodded thoughtfully. He had never seen Celylith react in such a way, even though he could imagine it only too well. It sounded rather amusing.
"Be that as it may," the elven prince went on, "it is easy, truly. I have done it a thousand times."

Aragorn cocked his head to the side and studied the elf.
"And how did that usually go for you?"

Legolas was silent for a few moments, his face completely expressionless as he recounted past escapades. After several long moments he finally smiled at the man in a thoroughly unconvincing manner.
"Perfectly. Why?"

Aragorn returned the smile in kind and shook his head, refusing to believe his friend.
"And I am Sauron in disguise."

"I knew it!"

The man ignored him without any trouble.
"So, how many times did you land yourself and Celylith and all others that were unlucky enough to be in the vicinity in deadly peril? And having to face your father counts, too."

"Not too many times." Legolas shook his head and began to steer the man over to the right, into the direction of a small copse of trees. If he remembered correctly, the trees were standing closely together, and there was enough undergrowth to give their guards the slip. "If you don't count the troll incident, which I am inclined not to do."

"Which one?" Aragorn asked with interest. "The one with the one close to Dol Guldur or the … unfortunate accident … we were involved in a few years back?"


The elf shook his head. They had almost reached the trees now, and a broad smile began to spread over his face. Hah, he thought gleefully, Rivendell's warriors didn't stand a chance! No one and nothing bested a wood-elf when he walked amongst trees of any kind, be they the trees of his home or not. Well, apart from black squirrels, but that was a whole different story.

"There was another one?" Aragorn was looking at him with wide eyes, impressed by the existence of yet another near-disaster about which he hadn't known anything.

Legolas decided not to enlighten his friend about the fact that there had in fact been several.

"Nothing special, truly," he explained with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Just the usual, you know: A patrol, me being separated from everybody else during a warg attack, me being attacked by a hungry troll, caves, fire, spits, the stereotypical beating-and-near-death experience, Celylith and Glónduil coming to the rescue, me almost dying on the way to the palace, two weeks in the healing wing under Master Hithrawyn's distrustful eyes, disapproving lectures from my father." He shrugged. "As I said, the usual."

There might have been a time when such an enumeration would have shocked the young ranger, but that time (if it had ever existed in the first place) was long past.

"I see." He nodded somewhat distractedly; he had got bored by Legolas' list after the beating-and-near-death experience. His friend was right, after all; after the tenth experience of that kind they tended to become the tiniest bit dull. "Just when were we going to lose ada's watchdogs again?"

The answer to that question came promptly, but not in form of words but in form of Legolas' hand that clamped around his left upper arm and yanked him to the side, into the shadow of a huge, towering oak. After twenty minutes of rather sneaky wood-elven tricks, hiding and scrambling for cover, they exited the small copse of trees, doubtlessly leaving behind a group of fuming elven warriors who were more than willing to chance King Thranduil's wrath and show his offspring just what happened when you crossed the warriors of Imladris.

Said offspring made a mental note to mention this little incident the next time he wrote his father a letter. The Elvenking would most likely be intensely proud.

Giving the trees a last glance (in Aragorn's case a slightly guilty and in Legolas' case a rather smug one), the two of them began to make their way down to the banks of the river, carefully keeping close to the trees or whatever other shelter they could find.

After several minutes of walking or rather sneaking, Legolas seemed to remember his earlier line of inquiry and shot his human friend a quick, inquisitive look.
"Just why are sneaking off again? Your brothers are still occupied with their 'exercise in management'."

Aragorn looked just as confused as the first time this question had come up.
"Well … because?"

And, just like the first time, Legolas couldn't come up with a better reason himself. When they reached the Bruinen and slowly began to follow it downstream (there were fewer guards and crossable spots there), the fair-haired elf decided that the reason for that was probably connected to just why they always taunted the sadistic madman du jour. It didn't make sense either; all either of them had ever come up with by means of an answer was "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

It was never an answer that satisfied their fathers, who promptly behaved as if this was the latest proof that they wanted to drive them to madness and despair.

That was not correct, of course. That would have required wilful intent, and, by the Valar, they were not doing this on purpose. It just … happened.

He had just reached that conclusion when he noticed that he was following Aragorn into the direction of the stream and a lesser-used ford. It was known exclusively to the border patrols and Aragorn and his brothers, and more than once a part of Legolas had asked itself if sharing such a secret with a son of Elrond had been a particularly clever idea.


"Yes?" the man retorted without turning around.

"Are we crossing the river?"

"Yes." The ranger nodded.


Now, the young man did turn around.
"It … sounds like a good idea?"

That figured. But Legolas couldn't honestly say that it didn't. He didn't like the idea of spending an unspecified amount of time within Rivendell's borders without doing anything any better than Aragorn. He had his daggers and Aragorn carried his favourite knife, the one from Lórien that the twins had given him some years ago, but he didn't carry his bow just like Aragorn didn't have his sword, because that would have given their plans away.

It was of little consequence, he decided. These parts were relatively safe, after all, and they would only be gone for a short time. And besides, it did sound like a good idea.

So they crossed the river. Neither of them slipped or stumbled and they safely reached the other shore, and once they set foot on dry ground, they weren't attacked by orcs, wargs, wolves, highwaymen or evil madmen. It was a highly promising start indeed, which should have alerted them to the fact that something was definitely off here. Even unsuspecting as they were, neither one of them was surprised when, about an hour after having crossed the river, the birds in the trees around them fell silent and an eerie, hair-raising silence settled over the woodland.

Aragorn shifted slightly from foot to foot, eyeing their surroundings with a mixture of annoyance and apprehension. Legolas and he came to the same conclusion at the same time, namely that the huge tree ten feet to their right would make an excellent place to make their stand, and without even looking at each other they slowly walked over to it, their hands wandering to the hilts of their knives.

"So, what do you think is it this time?" Legolas asked, only sounding remotely interested. It was only logical, Aragorn supposed. He had been doing this for only twenty-something years; Legolas, who was nearly as old as the twins, really had to become annoyed by now. "Wargs? Or wolves, maybe?"

The man shook his head and leaned back against the broad trunk at his back.
"No, I don't think so. I would say … highwaymen."

"So close to Rivendell?" Legolas arched an eyebrow dubiously. "You are losing your touch, mellon nín. Anybody can see that this is – or rather will be – yet another evil maniac."

"Another one?" If nothing else, Aragorn found that idea entertaining. "You know, even we can only attract so many. That would be the fourth this year!"

"So?" the elf asked. "And you said it yourself earlier today: That last one didn't really count."

"He was rather nice before Elladan chopped off his head." Aragorn nodded his own, still firmly attached head. "Still, I don't think so."

"Would you like to place a bet?" Legolas asked, a calculating gleam entering his eyes as he turned his head to look at his friend.

"What is it with you Silvan Elves and bets?" Aragorn asked, exasperated. "You are nearly as bad as Celylith! You lot would bet on anything!"

Legolas decided that now was not the time to mention his father's dream of legalizing gambling in Mirkwood, building huge inns and bankrupting as many dwarves as he possibly could.

"Well, there are some things that are too important to bet on," he admitted. "Like the development of the prices of Dorwinion wine. But anything else…"

"Is fair game," Aragorn finished his sentence. He rolled his eyes, therefore missing the grand entrance of a group of tall, hooded, very clearly armed and thoroughly menacing-looking figures. He needn't have worried, though; Legolas was too busy looking indignant to notice anything, either. "Have you ever thought of seeking professional help? A mind healer might be what you need. Or maybe an Istar. I hear Gandalf is fabulous with mind-restoring spells."

"The day I accept medical advice from a Noldo will be a dark day for Middle-earth," Legolas proclaimed solemnly. "And doubly so when it is a son of Elrond."

"Quite obviously; it would be the day you Sindar would actually start making some sense," Aragorn said.

"Silvan elves aren't Sindar in the truest sense of the word, even though my family is," Legolas argued. The dark, hooded figures were coming closer, appearing slightly puzzled, but neither of them noticed. "I am surprised that a Noldo wouldn't know that. Deep-elves indeed!"

"I am not an elf, and can therefore not be a Noldo."

"A technicality," the elven prince waved the words aside like a troll would a bothersome insect. "You are as much a Noldo as your brothers and your father."

"Oh, of course," Aragorn agreed, a sarcastic undertone tingeing his words. "38 generations removed, of course. 38 generations of human ancestors, if I might add."

"Then, Elrondion, you are a Noldo by association." Legolas looked very pleased with that assessment. "With genetic predispositions." He shook his head in mock sadness. "I supposed you are not entirely responsible for your attitude, then."

By now, the strange beings had drawn a tight semicircle around the arguing elf and ranger, and if one of the two had looked up, he would have seen more than a dozen armed people who radiated malicious intent. The weapons they were brandishing ranged from long, wicked daggers and swords to crossbows and short bows, and while some of them looked as if they had already seen many seasons, they looked well taken care of. These people were professionals, that much was sure.

The two of them did not look up, though. Legolas was right now grinning at his human friend, who was brimming with righteous indignation.

"Attitude?" Aragorn exclaimed. He was apparently only one step away from waving his arms and hopping up and down. "What attitude? The Sindar invented attitudes of any kind, and no doubt about that!"

Legolas raised an eyebrow and managed to look just like his father while doing it.
"Silmarils, ever-lasting vengeance, Kinslaying, pointless battles, even more pointless heroics – does any of this sound familiar? If that isn't an attitude, I don't know what is!"

The armed figures looked definitely uneasy now. They were apparently unused to their victims ignoring them completely and arguing amongst themselves as if nothing at all was wrong. They looked at each other, clearly at a loss what to do, and finally one of them stepped forward, pushing back his hood in the process and revealing the weather-beaten face of a man. He was perhaps thirty years old, with dark hair and a dark beard, armed to the teeth with a crossbow, a short sword and two curved knives, and looked confused more than anything else.

After a moment of hesitation, he took a deep breath and cleared his throat. Neither the elven prince nor the ranger paid him any attention, too caught-up were they in their argument. It was something that astonished the man, but it would have provoked only a headshake and a shrug in the average citizen of Rivendell.

"An attitude?" Aragorn was repeating right now, glaring at the far too smug-faced elf in front of him. "Morgoth stole the Silmarils and murdered Finwë! If that is not a cause for vengeance, then what is? What should Fëanor have done, let the murderer of his father escape unhindered and unpunished?"

"I never said that," Legolas hurried to assure the man. Elf he might not be, but he was quick to take offence in the name of his Noldorin forefathers. That was the problem of the Noldor, he decided: No sense of humour. "But it is an attitude, admit it."

"Hah!" the man exclaimed, clearly unwilling to admit any such thing. "I will tell you what an attitude is, wood-elf, your haughty, superior arrogance and your…"

"Excuse me!" The man had apparently had enough. Judging by the expression on his face, he wasn't sure if he was dreaming or not.

Elf and ranger turned as one and gave the man a withering glare that should have shrivelled him on the spot.
"What?" they asked in unison.

The man looked as perplexed as only the leader of a group of armed-to-the-teeth mercenaries could look who was being yelled at by two basically unarmed beings who were completely ignoring the threat he or his men posed them.

"Are you living in Rivendell?" he finally asked. He was blinking frequently, Aragorn noticed, as if he couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. "Both of you?"

These were apparently conscientious mercenaries who wanted to make sure they were attacking the right people. It made for a nice change, Legolas decided, and prompted him to give the man in front of him an indulgent smile.

"How many elven settlements do you think exist around here?"

The man gave him a blank look, and before he had to turn around to his companions for support, Aragorn took pity on him and added, "What he means to say in his arrogant way is: Yes, we are."

"Oh, so that is arrogant?" Legolas asked, turning back to the ranger. "I hate to break this to you, Estel, but if that is arrogant, then you are, too."

"I could never be as arrogant as you." Aragorn shook his head, also returning his attention to his friend. The mercenaries around them were looking from one of them to the other as if they were following a ballgame, incredulous confusion on their faces. The leader only looked flabbergasted. "I can't pull off the whole 'incredulously raised eyebrow/contemptuous expression/faint loathing in the voice' that you are so fond of. You know what I mean?"

He turned towards the men's leader expectantly, and Legolas, too, was looking at him with – yes – an incredulously raised eyebrow. Swallowing quickly under the elven scrutiny, the man simply nodded wordlessly. Aragorn looked back at the elf triumphantly, but Legolas simply shrugged.

"He is a hired henchman. What does he know?"

"Apparently more than you, o old and wise…"

"Excuse me!" the hired henchman repeated, apparently tearing himself out of his stupor. This was clearly not what he'd had in mind when he had accepted this job. "This is a kidnapping! A bit more attention would not go amiss!"

That clearly was something he shouldn't have said, as the man quickly realised. The elf turned towards his friend, an air of triumph about him, and the ranger glared at him before he reluctantly looked at the elf. This wasn't going how these things ought to go, the man decided dazedly, and he would be damned if he knew just when things had started to take this decidedly wrong turn.

"So this is a kidnapping!" Legolas exclaimed, making sure that there was no way Aragorn could miss his gleeful enjoyment.

"Of course it is," the leader said, desperately trying to get this situation back under control. "So, you two are from Rivendell?"

"We've been over this," Legolas said impatiently, the indulgence he'd felt for the men quickly fading. They might be conscientious kidnappers, but they were also not very clever ones. That wasn't too uncommon, mind you; it was the main reason why Aragorn and he kept surviving all these things. "Are you new at all this?"

"Yes … I mean, shut up!" the man ground out, flustered. "I am the one asking the questions here!"

The two friends exchanged a pained look. This lot was apparently not only not very clever, but also not very original. Sometimes, Aragorn wondered absent-mindedly, he asked himself if there was a book called "A Hundred Phrases Every Self-respecting Villain Should Know". It would hardly surprise him.

"Then ask," he said curtly. If this took any longer, he would lose his patience, which was already strained due to having to concede that Legolas had been right.

"What!" The man wasn't quite yelling yet, but it was a close thing. His companions looked too confused to feel amusement, which was probably a good thing. Their leader didn't look as if he was inclined to tolerate smiles, no matter how small.

"If you are the one asking the questions, you actually have to ask them."

The man searched for words and finally took a deep breath, probably to calm himself.
"You two are from Rivendell?"

"I cannot believe this," Legolas interrupted him. "This hasn't happened to me in years. I…"

"Yes," Aragorn answered, shooting his elven friend a quelling look. "We are."

The man nodded, looking satisfied at last.
"And are you…"

"All right!" Legolas exclaimed, his patience finally spent. "Just let us get this over with, please. At this rate, we will still be here tomorrow, and by then I plan to be safely back in Imladris. So," he looked at the men's leader, who seemed to have forgotten how to close his mouth, "yes, we are from Rivendell. Yes, he is Lord Elrond's adopted son. Yes, I am Legolas of Mirkwood. Yes, we are alone. So would you please do something already?"

The confusion on the man's face was quickly replaced by suspicion. His men continued to look confused. Aragorn just looked bored.

"Why would you tell me this on your own?" the man asked, his eyes narrowing.

"Elbereth Gilthoniel!" the elven prince sighed. "If you really want to know, it is the voice of experience talking. The sooner we get these questions out of the way, the sooner we can get this over with. But then again, perhaps I am lying, or I am mad. Perhaps I'm just bored out of my skull. Take your pick."

One look at the man's face and everybody knew which option he considered the most likely one. It took him only a moment to make up his mind, though, and he quickly turned around to his men.
"It's them. Bind them and let's get out of here before their friends come looking for them."

"Finally!" Legolas exclaimed.

The man ignored him, looking almost a little scared now. It took the mercenaries only as few moments to take friends' weapons, search them for hidden ones and bind their hands behind them with the rope they had brought. That seemed to spark off a new discussion about how often hands were being tied behind them and how many times in front of them, and the leader couldn't help but stare at the two in incredulous consternation. They had to be mad; they just had to.

While the elf and the ranger were being prodded into the direction where the group of humans had left their horses, the argument ended with an abruptness that rather worried the dark-haired man. A second later the two fixed their attention on him, which made him feel as if a very bright light had been lit and trained on him and him alone, and he couldn't help but swallow when the elf cocked his head to the side with a half-smile that rightly shouldn't be on the face of someone who was just being kidnapped.

"So, which evil maniac are you taking us to? And, more importantly, is it far away?" He turned back to his friend. "It's always such a bother when it's far away."

"True." The ranger nodded. "Anything that's further away than the Trollshaws is too far. The Valar forbid that it's the Misty Mountains again."

The elf nodded as well and turned back to the men's leader, resolutely ignoring the sword hilt that was being jammed into the small of his back in order to make him move faster.
"Which is it? Where is your employer?"

This whole situation was so bizarre that the man actually found himself answering.
"I could not tell you, even if I wanted to. Which I do not."

"Ah!" the fair-haired elf exclaimed and exchanged a knowing look with the ranger. "It's one of the mysterious ones."

During the ensuing argument about which kind of kidnapper was the best, the man found that he had to resist the oh-so-very-very-very-inviting temptation of burying his head in his hands.

This was not how this was supposed to go.


pen-neth (S.) - young one
ada (S.) - father (daddy)
muindor nín (S.) - my brother (by blood, not association)
yéni (pl. of yén) (Q.) - elvish unit of time, equivalent to 144 solar years
mellon nín (S.) - my friend

Gods, I really have no idea what possessed me to write this. I blame it all on Jack. •g• So, as I said, the next chapter should be here in about a week. I had hoped to start posting sooner, but alas, it was not to be. So, stay tuned for the next bit of whatever-this-is, where Elrond finds out what has happened, Erestor makes a list, Elladan and Elrohir make a bet, Aragorn and Legolas find something to entertain themselves, we find out the men's leader's name and meet the evil maniac du jour. Fun all around! And yes, reviews are very welcome, weird as the story is. •g• Thanks!