The Weaving cow
The Weaving cow
Please feel free to review.
Beta: Raina…. Thank you so much.
I would like to dedicate this story to Cassia and Siobhan who have not only entertained and inspired me for years, but have also warped my mind… OK, so I was already warped. LOL
I own nothing of Middle earth or any of Tolken's worlds or characters. Yes, that means that Legolas and Aragorn do not belong to me. I have made several offers to buy them, but the good professor just rolls over in his grave… Sigh He just doesn't understand me!
I have no permission to use these characters, and I'm receiving no money for this story… Like anyone would pay me for this! LOL. This story was written for enjoyment only… I hope yours as much as mine Wink.
I would like to thank Cassia and Siobhan for allowing me to borrow their OC's Raniean and Trelan (good Silvan Elves and friends of Legolas), and also Seobryn, Talft and Lur (nasty bad guys), as well as the nickname 'Dari' for Eldarion… I hope that they don't put a price on my head for what I have done with them.
This story also contains references to some of their stories, the Mellon Chronicles, especially Stars of Harad. It is possible to read and enjoy this story without first reading those stories, but they are it is a wonderful series and I highly recommend them to anyone.
This story starts Post-RotK, when Aragorn's son is only 4 years old. It then jumps back in time to when Aragorn was still young and is returning from Harad with Legolas who had tracked him to Harad (having to disguise himself as a human and travel with some rather unsavoury types in the process) and helped to rescue him there. It is a long journey home afterwards and this is just a bit of fun that happened along the way… grin it was a long trip home, and I just could not imagine these two travelling so long and far without getting into at least a little bit of trouble ;p.
So, on with the insanity!
The Weaving Cow
The dappled sunlight softly filtered through the trees, casting a soft glow over the secluded glade, while glimmering rainbow hues danced in the shimmering mist from the nearby falls. The song of the trees blended with the music of the cascading waters, lending their harmony to the sound of Elven laughter.
They were gathered around the remains of a picnic, enjoying the last of the wine and watching in amusement as a small child splashed in the nearby stream, snatching at the darting silver forms beneath the surface. Dari was having a wonderful time… they all were.
"He may not have your skill at that Trelan, but I think that his enthusiasm out matches even yours." Legolas leaned against a fallen log looking at both his friends and the boy with dancing eyes. "Perhaps you would like to join him?"
Trelan laughed and swirled his near full wine glass, "Perhaps when I am finished."
"After you are finished, you will have even less skill than him," Raniean chuckled receiving a light cuff from his smaller friend.
"Just don't let Estel try to show him how to spear fish with one of the arrows." Elladan quipped with a sideways look at his twin. "We all know how that turned out."
Aragorn looked up from where he laid in the grass with smirk on his face. "As I recall, it was you, dear brother, who ended up in the water that day, not I."
"He's right you know," Elrohir grinned at Elladan. "You were the first one in that day."
"Well, perhaps I should rectify that past error." With a wicked gleam in his eyes Elladan started to rise, only to be stopped suddenly as Elrohir reached over and deftly captured his wine glass.
"You go ahead and teach him a lesson," he laughed, "and I will finish this off for you."
Elladan instantly dropped down again, retrieving his wayward glass and clutching it possessively.
The laughter that erupted was enough to cause Dari to pause and look up at his elders, but could not distract him long from his task.
"Thank you, Elrohir," Legolas chuckled, "once they get going, there is no telling what kind of trouble they will drag me into next… especially that Ranger."
"Me!" Aragorn swatted lightly at his friend. "I think that you have things a bit backwards. It is you, Mellon-nin, who is always dragging me into things."
"Dragging you out of or home again afterwards perhaps," Legolas said with a look of false piety on his fair face, "but it is you who starts it."
Aragorn was laughing openly now as were the others. "I seem to recall dragging you out of trouble on many occasions, my dear innocent Prince."
Legolas' eyes sparkled with mischief as he tried to stare them all down. "Just because I have been in trouble, does not mean that it was my fault… I do not start things!"
The glade was immediately filled with a cacophony of merry voices all lifted up in an effort to refute such an outrageous statement even if it was meant in jest. They called out one story after another as Legolas gaily pointed out how the trouble had all really been caused by others and using some very 'Creative Logic' in some cases.
"What about you bringing home a warg cub you found in the woods and wanting to keep it as a pet?" Raniean happily pointed out. "The whole palace was in an uproar. I will never forget the look on your father's face as he was trying to explain why you couldn't keep it and all the time you are petting it! I thought that he was going to be sick."
"I remember that look too!" Legolas snickered, "I used to tease him when he would complain about my Ketrals and tell him that if he had let me keep the Warg, I would never have started keeping Ketrals. That one doesn't count though, because I was only 6 at the time and I thought that I had found a puppy… an extremely ugly puppy, but still a puppy. I was too young to know better. Besides, who helped me carry it home?"
Raniean helplessly shrugged and smiled. "I was no older than you, and its eyes weren't even open yet," he glanced up at the others. "We felt sorry for it!... It really was ugly though."
Aragorn was wide-eyed. "Valar! However did you get your hands on a warg cub without getting killed?!"
"That is what my father kept asking!" Legolas laughed.
"How do you explain getting arrested in Strayton for River stealing and chicken thieving?" Elrohir intoned with a wink at his twin.
Trelan sputtered and choked on his wine at this, "Chicken thieving?!"
"Oh, this should be good," Raniean chuckled with a mock bow. "Hir-nin." /my lord/
Legolas tossed his half finished apple at the incorrigible pair of Silvan elves and glowered at the twins. "The earthquake diverted the river and a lot of superstitious townsfolk overreacted, as you both know full well… Nobody stole the river! " Turning with a teasing look at his human friend he added. " Besides, I was not the only one arrested."
"Yes, but who stole the chickens?!" Trelan giggled.
"You nift! Nobody stole any chickens!" Legolas groaned. "Raniean, do something with him!"
Trelan quickly ducked his head down into his arms to avoid the swat aimed his way, but he could still be heard chuckling: "My prince the chicken thief!"
"You know, mellon-nin," Aragorn eyed the elf prince with an impish glint in his eyes, "I never really counted those chickens before I fell asleep in that barn… You didn't do anything while I was sleeping, did you?"
"Strider!" Legolas growled. "You are impossible!" He glanced over at Trelan who was now laughing so hard that he was having trouble breathing and rolled his eyes. "Now look what you've started this time."
"Oh no you don't, I didn't start that one, El did!" Aragorn exclaimed. Then he smiled slyly at his friend. "At least I can enter a tavern without causing a brawl."
Legolas fixed his friend with a look of mock distain. "I do not cause brawls."
Aragorn chuckled "Oh really? That is not what I heard… What about that time in the Drunken Goblin?"
"I did not start that, I just finished it." Legolas smirked.
"Umm… So you say, but that is not what I overheard Talaft and Lur saying."
Legolas snorted, "Talaft and Lur were not even there!"
"No, but apparently they heard quite a few stories about you from Seobryn's men." The former ranger chuckled at the elf, "Face it my friend, even without knowing you were an elf, you did tend to stand out there; not a lot of tall blondes in Harad, you know, people were bound to talk."
"Second hand gossip from a band of ruffians relayed by those two?! I have been maligned you can't believe a word of it." Legolas sniffed disdainfully
"Perhaps, mellon-nin," and now Aragorn fixed Legolas with triumphant smile, "but that does not explain what happened at the Weaving Cow."
"Strider!" Legolas growled, "That was not my fault! Besides…"
"Not your fault?!" Aragorn exclaimed, sitting up and giving the elf a playful shove. "Legolas, you forget that I was there! Everything was fine and then all of a sudden you scream and start throwing over tables…"
"The tables were an accident," Legolas defended.
"And that shrill scream?" Aragorn grinned.
"I did not scream, shrill or otherwise!" Sputtered the prince.
"Alright, shout, yell or perhaps… Squeak?" Aragorn laughed openly at the glare that Legolas was turning on him. "Call it what you will, it was loud and very high pitched"
Legolas flushed and tried to look aloof and unconcerned. "You exaggerate human, besides, this is hardly the time or place and it would be of little interest to the others."
To Legolas' consternation, the instant clamour that arose from the others, who had until that moment been watching the two friends cryptic banter in relative quiet, belied that notion.
"On the contrary, mellon-nin, I think that now is the perfect time, unless you would like to admit defeat and concede that you did start the brawl?" Aragorn was counting on Legolas' pride and competitive nature to prevent him from backing down and keep him from recounting the event.
Legolas was trapped, and he knew it. Even if he did concede, too much had already been said. The rest of his friends would never let it go. "Very well Strider, go ahead and tell them," he grudgingly agreed, "but, it was not my fault."
Aragorn grinned widely at Legolas who was now almost squirming. He knew there was something that Legolas had never told him about this and he had a feeling that he just might finally discover what it was… This was going to be fun!
"We were on our way back from Harad, about half way between Near Harad and southern Gondor and we lost our baggage in a river…"
"You lost it, not me! See, it was all your fault!" Legolas interjected in a last effort to circumvent fate.
"I am hardly responsible for falling when the embankment collapsed," Aragorn countered. "Good try, Legolas."
"Besides, Estel always falls." Elladan chuckled.
"It is like a law of nature, definitely not his fault." His twin finished, rolling swiftly out of the way of the sticky honey roll that flew past his head.
"Do not insult the story teller if you want to hear the story." Aragorn intoned in his most dignified and regal manner, an effect that was hopelessly ruined by the fact that he was licking the honey off of his fingers. "Now, where was I…?"
45 to 50 years pre-Fellowship of the Ring
…the mud was moving.
The small rabbit froze, watching it flail about and curse as it came ashore. It was uncertain if this new phenomenon was a threat or not, but before it could make up its mind, it spotted an elf running towards it and bolted into the sparse undergrowth.
"Estel! Are you alright?" He called out in concern which soon turned to mirth as he took in the sight before him.
Legolas' laughter floated upon the hot afternoon air, contrasting with the angry string of Dwarvish emanating from the very annoyed Ranger.
"Do I look alright?!" Aragorn snapped trying to wipe the mud out of his eyes with very limited success.
"It is about what I would expect for a filthy human." The prince quipped, ducking the mud that was flung his way in response.
"Prissy Elf," the ranger growled, trying to take another step forward and almost falling when the thick mire sucked at his boot, almost pulling it off. "Are you going to help me out of here or not?"
"That depends," chuckled the elf as he lightly stepped across the top of the muddy surface much like he would snow, "are you going to keep your filth to yourself?"
"I promise not to try and throw you in or throw any more mud at you, but I am not responsible for anything that may rub off in the process." The ranger smiled up and grudgingly gave his word then softly muttered under his breath, "and that could be a lot."
"I heard that! Behave yourself, or you are on your own, Strider." Legolas warned as he reached out and grabbed hold of his very slimy friend's arm and started pulling, but it was to no avail.
Aragorn's long heavy leather coat, which was tied around his waist, was so deeply buried that he could not lean forward enough to get the leverage to pull himself free even with the help of the elf. It was, in fact, because of the coat that he was stuck in this mess to begin with.
The two friends had been walking along the river's edge all morning and, as the day heated up, Aragorn had stopped to remove the heavy garment. He had just finished strapping on his sword again and tying the coat around his waist when it happened. He reached for his pack and the embankment that he was standing on gave way, plunging him and his pack into the water.
He was swept down river about a quarter mile before he saw a break in the otherwise steep banks of the river, only to be washed up onto this infernal patch of mud, where the river turned sharply and the silt had been acuminating in a low break on the shore of the watercourse.
His pack, however, being a rather poor swimmer, had immediately sunk to the bottom.
"This is hopeless!" Legolas grumbled while trying to blow a loose strand of golden hair out of his face. "Untie your coat and hand it to me." Without the Ranger attached to it, Legolas was able to pull it free and throw it up onto dry land along with Aragorn's sword and scabbard.
"Now loosen the ties on your boots, if you can get to them, and step out of them," he instructed next.
Aragorn had to bend down and shove his hands blindly down his legs past the thigh high silt and slime, almost shoving his face back down into it; he grimaced at the distasteful sensation.
Legolas could not contain his mirth at the picture before him of his friend bent forward in the mud almost up to his shoulders, with his back side stuck in the air, trying to get his boots off. "Do not get stuck in that position Estel, it is decidedly undignified, especially for the future King," he snickered.
Aragorn glared at his companion and was about to retort, when he sprawled backwards in the mud having finally gotten his boot off.
Reaching down into the mire he pulled it free and threw it up to land at the elf's feet, splattering Legolas' boots with mud. "Oops, accident!" He smiled with false sincerity before going to work on the next one.
He finally pulled the second one free and it, along with the first one, joined his coat.
Still unable to pull free of the grasping quagmire, he looked up in frustration at the tall elf standing easily atop the mess and laughing down at him. "Well?! Are you going to help me?... or do you want me to keep stripping?" he said with a smirk.
Legolas' eyes widened in a look of false alarm. "Oh, Valar, no! Not that!" He laughed and reached down, grabbing the back of Aragorn's belt in one hand and his upper arm in the other while fixing him with a mischievous grin. "I think just a bit of crawling will do."
"Oh fine, have your fun then." Aragorn chuckled as, with the additional support, he was finally able to pull free and do a combined walk, crawl, and slither out of the mud.
On firm ground at last, he flopped down on his back in exhaustion, looking over at his friend who was fastidiously wiping the mud off of his hands on a small patch of grass before rinsing them off with some water from his water bottle. He then surveyed his current state and groaned, "I need a bath!"
"Really? I hadn't noticed," snickered the elf as he rose and nudged the Ranger's mud sodden coat with the toe of his boot, looking sidelong at his friend. "What do we do with this...? Bury it?"
Aragorn rolled quickly to his feet, possessively snatching up his coat and boots. "There is nothing wrong with my coat!" he grumbled. "We will back track to those rocky shallows that we camped near last night and I can bathe and clean it up there."
"Go back there?" queried the elf. "Estel, we will lose a whole days travel if we go back. I'm sure that we can find a suitable place if we continue on our way." He gently argued.
"Actually Legolas, the shallows are on our way." He chuckled at the confused look on the elf's face. "In case you didn't notice, I lost my pack. If we go back I can pick up supplies at that town we passed about five miles downstream of the shallows."
Legolas frowned at his companion as he remembered the dusty, shabby looking place. "Is it really necessary? We still have my pack, and hunting has been reasonably good around here," he added hopefully.
"Yes, mellon-nin, it is. Without my pack, I am literally down to the clothes on my back, which are far too light weight for the weather we will encounter as we travel north, and although you can wear my clothes, I cannot fit into yours." Aragorn stated firmly. "Besides, it is going to take a lot of oil to restore this coat and I don't think that small jar that you carry for your bow will do the job," he noted with wry amusement.
Legolas could not refute his friend's logic, nor could he refrain from smiling as the image of Aragorn trying to squeeze into one of his close-fitting tunics flitted across his mind. He sighed in resignation and started to pull out the plain, tan tunic and cloth strips that he had used to disguise himself while posing as a sharpshooter in Harad. "Very well, Strider, since it is a matter of saving your coat, how can I refuse?" he snickered as he started to wrap the cloths around his head to hide the delicate points of his ears.
Aragorn grinned, holding up his coat. "Glad to see that you can finally recognize a fine thing!"
As they started to walk brusquely south again, Aragorn glanced over at his friend who had now finished transforming himself. "Legolas, I have been meaning to ask you - where did you get that?" He gestured at the very simple, rather drab tunic that the elf had donned, with an impish glint in his eyes. "It's so… common looking."
"You are one to talk!" the prince snorted as he shoved the Ranger, gaining a hand full of mud in the process. "It is supposed to look 'common.' I bought it when I was travelling south with Seobryn's men looking for you, if you must know. It had turned very hot and continuing to wear that nasty coat of yours was starting to look suspicious. So I picked this up at one of those disreputable excuses for a town that they seemed to favour so much… A bit like the one you are probably dragging me off to now, I imagine." He said with a grimace as his mind wandered back to that time.
Travelling amongst Humans, while disguised as one, had been difficult for Legolas. It had been hard to navigate the unfamiliar experiences without giving himself away due to his ignorance over some of the simplest aspects of the foreign culture. Though he had learned to blend in, he had come away with more questions than answers. Now, heading back into that confusing environment, many of the old questions came to mind.
"Strider? What do those red lanterns in the windows of some establishments mean?" …
The heat and humidity of the day had not waned despite the setting of the sun as the two friends traversed the dusty streets in the early dusk. They came to a sudden stop in front of one of the largest buildings in town. A large, garish sign out front proudly dubbed it, "The Weaving Cow."
It was not the size of the establishment that had stopped them, nor the generally run down and seedy appearance. It was something else.
"Valar, Strider, what's that smell!" Legolas hissed while wrinkling his nose in distaste. Entering these closed-in, crowded establishments was always a bit of a shock to the elf's sensitive senses, but this was something different. They had not yet climbed the steps to the front door and yet the odour had hit him like a physical presence. Glancing sidelong at his companion, he could see that Aragorn was equally affected… his eyes were watering.
Aragorn was taking shallow breaths and trying to discreetly cover his nose and mouth in an unsuccessful attempt to guard against the pungent assault. "I have no idea, mellon-nin. Let us gather our supplies as quickly as we can and go," he said as he started to ascend the steps.
Legolas quickly grasped his arm, pulling him back, whispering urgently, his eyes making a desperate plea. "We cannot go in there! If it smells like this from out here, can you imagine what it must be like inside?!" he looked at the front of the tavern in confused disbelief. "What could they doing in there?"
Aragorn started to chuckle at the expression on the elf's face. "I do not believe that it is coming from inside the building, I think that it is actually coming from somewhere else… come, perhaps inside we will actually be sheltered from it." He said with a smile while gently pulling Legolas up the steps behind him. As if in answer to his comments a very slight breeze that had been missing all day finally arrived almost dissipating the acuminated reek… Almost.
As they entered, they were struck by two things: first, the only odours were the normal ones to be expected in such a place – a fact that brought a smile to the ranger's face and drew a sigh of both resignation and relief from the elf – the second thing that they noticed was that it was uncomfortably hot and stuffy inside. This was not caused solely by the heat of the day, but was also the result of the fact that every window in the place was tightly shut… they did not have to ask the reason for the latter.
Aragorn started across the large main room. Glancing back at the prince with a twinkle in his eyes, he inquired, "Do you want to wait in here with me, or outside in the fresh air?"
With a soft snort and a rueful shake of his head, Legolas chose the least pungent of the options and followed him. They settled themselves at a small table at the back, Aragorn with a relaxed grin on his face that spoke of how much he had missed this and Legolas with a look of long suffering that spoke of how much he wished that he was missing this.
They were quickly spotted by the young girl tending to this part of the room; she came over with a smile almost as warm as the room and inquired what they would like to drink. Aragorn casually ordered the house brew and she then turned to Legolas, who had been so distracted by his environment that he had not acknowledged her arrival. She looked the slender blond archer up and down, her smile widening. "Now what can I get for you, sweetie?" she cooed.
SWEETIE?! His head snapped up, eyes a bit wide from surprise at the term, which turned out to be a mistake since it put him at eye level with her rather low cut and amply filled dress. The bright blush that instantly suffused his cheeks brought a twitter of amusement from the girl before he could avert his eyes and choke out, "House brew."
She laughed and returned a few minutes later with their drinks, intentionally bending over a bit further than she had to as she placed them on the table. "Let me know if there is anything else that I can get you." She said with a wink and a merry smile aimed at the Prince. "My name is Himwen."
She had only gone halfway across the room before Aragorn, looking at the elf's still glowing cheeks, dissolved into laughter "You seem to have made quite the impression… sweetie." He teased. "Would you like me to have her come over here and keep you company while I go up and get the supplies, or should I stay and defend your honour?"
He almost fell out of his chair from the shove he received from the embarrassed elf, who rolled his eyes and dropped his head into his hands. "Strider!" he growled, "you are incorrigible!"
"I will take that as a no to both then." Aragorn chuckled, taking another sip from his drink. "Wait here, my friend, I will be right back. I am just going to go up and get the supplies."
Legolas watched his friend cross the room and noticed Himwen and another girl near the bar whispering back and forth while giggling and casting furtive glances his way. Valar, what was it with them! You would never see elves behaving like that… well, maybe the whispering and giggling, but elves would never display themselves so, and to be so very… Forward! Ai, they were so young even by human standards. It was disconcerting to receive such attentions from mere children. He looked down, turning his attention once more to his drink as he felt the colour rising once more to his face.
He looked up in relief as he sensed Aragorn returning, but felt his heart sink when he realized that he carried no supplies.
The young ranger dropped onto his seat with a smile at Legolas. "Well, the owner says that he can get what I need, but it will take him about an hour to gather it up, so you might as well relax and enjoy your drink." He then added with a sly glimmer in his eye, "He will send Himwen over to let us know when it is ready… Nice girl, don't you think?"
Legolas glared at the ranger, "Are you enjoying yourself?"
"Very much, thank you." He grinned, his silver eyes dancing. "Almost as much as you enjoyed my little ordeal in the mud this afternoon," he laughed.
Legolas could not help smiling as he remembered the reason that they were sitting here now. "I think that you missed a spot behind your ear," he teased. Perhaps the evening would not be such a long one after all.
It was not long before Legolas noticed with some trepidation that Himwen was headed toward their table. She smiled broadly as she informed them that the supplies were waiting up by the bar, but did not move off when they thanked her.
As they stood she stepped forward and, much to Aragorn's delight and Legolas' chagrin, took the Prince by the arm, tucking it in close to her side while beaming up at him. "Come, I will show you." She giggled as she pulled him along.
Almost paralyzed with shock, Legolas allowed himself to be numbly steered across the room before gently, but firmly, disentangling himself upon reaching the bar. He shot a sharp look back at his friend who was having a bit of difficulty navigating the tables due to the fact that he was almost staggering in his effort to keep from bursting out in an uncontrolled fit of laughter. 'Get me out of here!' he desperately mouthed at the ranger who nodded and laid a reassuring hand on the elf's shoulder as he finally caught up and turned to pay for the supplies.
Legolas turned and bent down near the table at the end of the bar where the supplies were stacked, and quickly stuffed the supplies into the new pack. He had just finished and was about to straighten up and sling the pack over his shoulder, when it happened.
Aragorn spun around at the high, unnatural sound that pierced his ears, only to see Legolas shoot upright, catching the table next to him with his shoulder and sending it tumbling into the next one, starting a cascade effect that up-ended almost a third of the tables in the room.
There was a brief moment of silence in which Legolas stood frozen in shock with his mouth open, staring back at a room full of hot, beer splattered and now irate men. He could not believe what had just happened! The next moment they erupted like a swarm of hornets from a nest that has just been kicked over.
Swiftly moving to his friend's side, Aragorn blocked a poorly aimed swing from one inebriated patron, shoving him into another one and sending them both sprawling. A third one was stopped mid-charge by a chair when Legolas spun and ducked out of the way of someone else swinging it at his head.
Legolas spun and blocked one attack after another with elven speed and grace, but even with Aragorn at his back the situation was untenable. The numbers were just too great. Besides, he really didn't want to hurt these people. More than half of the drunken mob was between them and the front door, so there was no escape that way. He flipped a large bear of a man over his shoulder, sending him careening into three others, pulled Aragorn down and to the side, avoiding the bottle that had been aimed their way, and darted off to the right, towards the stairs in the back leading to the upper floors. "We have to get out of here!"
"This is not the way out, Legolas!" Aragorn shouted over his shoulder as he raced up the stairs behind the elf, turning only long enough to kick a man in the chest, who had been about to grab him from behind, knocking him backwards into the crowd behind him, and temporally stemming the angry tide.
They reached the upper landing and sprinted down the long hallway. Near the end, Legolas found an unlocked door, and they both raced in, slamming the door behind them, and throwing the bolt. Aragorn leaned back against the door trying to catch his breath, while Legolas moved across the room and peered out the window.
"How long do you think this door will hold once they find us?" Aragorn asked in exasperation. He had no clue what had just happened down there.
"Long enough, I hope." Legolas said through gritted teeth as he tried to open the window, which was stuck tight due to age and disuse. "Help me get this open. I can see a ledge outside, we can use it to get out of here, and hopefully find a way to climb down."
The window finally gave way at about the same time that the door to the room they were hidden in shuddered with the first impact of several drunk and angry bodies. That is when it hit them. The stench was overwhelming, almost causing them to gag. Whatever it was, it seemed to be right below this window. With little choice in the matter, Aragorn slung his new pack over his shoulder and followed Legolas out onto the ledge… what there was of it.
It was only about six inches wide and ran the length of the long building. Because of the way the ground sloped steeply in this area the window they had come out of was almost three stories above the ground, but at the far end of the building it was only a little over one story high.
Aragorn hugged the wall in front of him as he carefully sidestepped along the narrow ledge. A feat made all the more difficult by the fact that he was trying to do it without inhaling. He could make out very little detail beneath him in the moonless dark, but it seemed almost as if the ground below him was moving. Glancing over at Legolas, Aragorn could see that he too had noticed this and was intently staring down. The elf looked up at the ranger with a rueful half smile and softly called to him, "We seem to have found the source of that horrid odour… Cattle."
Below them, built onto the back of the tavern, was a large cattle pen with almost one hundred cattle crowded into it. Accustomed to the practices of their own people and the smaller communities around them, they had never experienced what happened when you had so many of the creatures confined in such a small area. The smell of the animals, combined with the built up waste that had piled so deep in some places that it had fermented, was a powerful and pungent combination especially in the heat and humidity that they had had today.
Legolas was dumbfounded! Why would anyone chose to place something like this so close to where they lived? Valar, it reeked! You could repel Orcs with this stench!
He continued to move along the ledge, frequently glancing back to see if they had been discovered yet. They were about half way to their goal and still about two stories above the ground, when he heard a sharp crack. Snapping his head in the direction of the noise, he found himself looking into Aragorn's wide, silver eyes as he scrambled for a hold on the siding of the building… the ledge was giving away.
Legolas grabbed for his friend intending to pull him to a more stable section, but before he could get a good hold of him, the whole ledge tore free of the building, sending them both tumbling down.
Aragorn tried to brace himself for a hard and painful landing in the dark and was shocked when instead, he landed on something soft and yielding. Although he had landed with enough force to drive the wind out of his lungs, he was basically unhurt. He had landed in a heap of partially dried manure that had been piled almost eight feet deep against the side of the building.
Turning his head he could see Legolas laying face down next to him. He rolled to his side and reached for the elf, but before he could touch him, Legolas scrambled to his knees and started to retch and cough. "Legolas? Are you alright?"
Aragorn was uncertain of the answer to his question despite the resulting vigorous back and forth shaking of his friend's head… was he indicating that he was hurt, or just trying to shake this foul stuff from his face and hair?
Climbing to his feet, he reached into the small pack that Legolas' carried and pulled out a small cloth that he knew his friend kept handy for cleaning his bow. Leaning over the distressed elf, he placed a comforting hand on his back and handed him the cloth.
Quickly snatching the cloth from the ranger's hand, Legolas did his best to wipe his face clean. He couldn't believe that he had just fell face down in a huge pile of… He shuddered. No, he didn't want to think about it! But the stuff was everywhere! In his hair, down his tunic, even up his nose! He groaned. It was enough to make him wish to flee to the Halls of Mandos. Except in his current state he doubted that they would let him in! He thought wryly.
"Legolas?" Aragorn gently called.
Legolas climbed unsteadily to his feet and managed to choke out. "I'll be alright Estel…" There was a loud crashing noise which caused the two friends to look up. The door to the room that they had escaped through had finally been smashed in, and they could hear the confused and angry shouts as the men tried to figure out where the two friends had gone. "Come Estel, let us leave this foul place while we still can."
They wound their way through the milling herd as quietly and calmly as possible, keeping low and hoping that the dim light and slight motion of the cattle would mask their passage from anyone looking out of the window as they slipped out of a gate at the far side of the enclosure. As Aragorn was latching the gate he was stopped by a light touch on his shoulder. "Leave it open Strider," Legolas quietly intoned, "they should not be confined like this… Besides," he added with a sly smile, "it will help cover our tracks, and give those men something to chase besides us."
"My brothers would be proud of you, mellon-nin." Aragorn softly chuckled as he quietly propped the gate open.
"Your brothers are never going to hear about this, Strider!" Legolas admonished. "Now let's get out of here."
They ran swiftly and silently south out of the town, and then cut north heading straight towards the shallows about five miles above town… This time, they both needed a bath.
"He was still complaining about the smell a week later," Aragorn sniggered as the glade was filled with the ringing sound of elven laughter.
"I was complaining? Who was it who was scrubbing and oiling his coat down almost every day for a fortnight?" Legolas laughed and then added with a smirk, "For all the good it did, it still smells!"
"Mud and manure!" Trelan chortled, "I would love to have seen that!"
"As would I…" Elladan grinned.
"…but only from up wind!" His twin finished for him with a giggle.
Raniean chuckled and gave the prince an appraising look. "I had no idea that you had such common tastes, hir-nin… Do you still take that tunic with you when you travel, just for special occasions?" he finished with a mock bow.
Legolas rolled his eyes, and shook his head. "If you must know, it wouldn't come clean, so I burned it!"
It was several minutes before the merriment over that last statement died down, but when it finally did, Aragorn fixed Legolas with a smug smile. "You cannot deny this time my friend, that you unquestionably did start this one."
Legolas scowled at him. "It was not my fault, the tables were an accident."
"An accident!" He exclaimed. "You do not seriously expect us to believe that you are incapable of standing up without knocking over and destroying half a room, do you?" Aragorn shook his head in disbelief as the others laughed and nodded their agreement. "And how do you explain that noise that you made?" Aragorn said with a grin. Legolas had never explained that one to him and he was hoping to finally get an answer.
Legolas looked at them and tried to figure a way out of this trap… He could not tell them, but how else to explain his actions? Even if he conceded that it was his fault, they were never going to let go of it until they got some sort of explanation for his bizarre actions that evening….Ai! He could feel the colour rising to his cheeks just thinking about it!
Aragorn noticed the blush suffusing the elf's cheeks as he attempted to keep from squirming. It was close now, he could feel it. "Well…?"
"It was her fault!" Legolas muttered.
"Her?" Aragorn queried in confusion as the others exchanged puzzled glances. "You don't mean Himwen, that girl that was so sweet on you, do you? … How could she be at fault? She was just standing in the corner behind you."
Oh Valar! How was he supposed to put this?! Elves didn't do this sort of thing! Finally dropping his burning face down into his hands, he softly gritted out, "She pinched me."
There was a very brief moment of stunned silence before they all exploded into raucous laughter.
"She pinched you?!" Aragorn gasped through the tears streaming down his face from laughing so hard. "Oh, mellon-nin, I had no idea that the situation was so dire! No wonder you wrecked the place!" He teased, falling over from the push he received from the embarrassed elf.
"Strider!" Legolas growled as his shoulders started to shake with the suppressed laughter he was holding back. He gave a start as he felt the gentle touch on his shoulder and looked back to see Dari gazing at him with a gentle and sympathetic smile on his face.
He had come in on the tail end of the story and didn't really understand what was so funny, but he knew what it felt like to be laughed at. "It's okay, Leg'las, Naneth pinches my cheek all the time… you don't have to be embarrassed." He comforted in an attempt to make the elf that he was so fond of feel better.
Legolas could not help finally bursting out laughing as he swept the little boy up in an affectionate hug. "Thank you little one, you are very wise… which is more than I can say for the rest of you." He said, with a bemused glance at the others.
Aragorn just laughed even harder and snickered, "Prince Sweetie got pinched!"
Legolas turned with Dari still in his arms, a wicked smile on his face. "Let's get him, Dari!" he yelled as he launched the two of them at the helplessly laughing King.
EG Oh come on! I'm just having a bit of fun... and rather like the idea of making the elf blush ;p. Besides; I know there are those of you who would have done it if you had had the chance!;p
For those of you who are wondering about the origin of the name Himwen, I got it from the name generator on the MC site after entering the word "Flirt". The translation is probably far from correct, but I somehow doubt that the good professor ever thought to translate flirt or any other such terms into Sindarin, so what the heck. ;p