Woo! The first chapter of this came third place for the teitho 'disguises' competition : ) thanks to all who voted : )
Disclaimer : unfortunately, I own no one from the Lord of the Rings. Although Margon, Calthor and Iruthel are mine!
Summary :. Legolas spends the day avoiding man and dwarf as he tries to prepare himself for a drinking re-match after a night in one of Minas Tirith's taverns, resulting in embarrassment, paranoia and an interesting day…
Taverns of Minas Tirith.
As the silent figure walked down the quiet, paved streets of Minas Tirith, he observed all of his surroundings, allowing his eyes to indulge in the night atmosphere. The streets were dark, save the white stone of the city that glowed slightly but then blended seamlessly into the shadows that covered the hushed streets. A few stars shone brightly in the cloudy sky above him, like small specs of light in a vast ocean of darkness.
As he approached the gate to the fifth floor, he kept his eyes fixed on the ground, to avoid any unwanted attention, as he continued to get to his destination.
The guards wearily eyed the figure that sauntered past, hooded and cloaked. The person nodded his head slightly with a practised, controlled movement, so that the hood stayed on, disguising his features. A movement which not very many people could pull off, unless they had had to use this gesture many times before in the past.
The gate guards allowed the person to walk past, and said nothing. The figure could feel the heat of the stares from the guards on his back, but he paid them no heed. This was important. This had to be done.
He passed around a corner, and picked up his pace a little, but no so much as to draw attention. Any given attention now could put an end to his plan, and that would be most unpleasant due to the amount of fuss it would cause. The sound of a man's voice made him freeze.
The figure slowly turned around, cautiously, just in time to see one of the guards setting off at a run down a nearby passage. He let out the breath of air that he didn't even realise that he was holding. That was too close.
He turned again on the spot, and resumed his journey. The soft sounds of his footsteps eventually died down as he got closer and closer to his target destination that was emitting an orange glow out of the closed windows that muffled the inside noise. The perfect place. He could not be overheard or seen here.
He pulled the hood further over his head, so that his face was completely obscured by the shadow, as he passed through a small beam of light. No one was outside this night as the night air was chilly and bitter. But this was good, for if he needed to make a hasty exit, then none would get in his way. So far, so good.
He extended a hand from the old cloak, and pushed open the heavy wooden door. A quiet hush fell on the people inside for but a few seconds as they looked at the doorway to view the newcomer. Thinking nothing of it, they continued with their business, much to the figures satisfaction.
He warily passed through the room to get to the back, so that he could get on with his business. The thick smoke hung in the air like a dense cloud, and he breathed it in deeply, relishing the taste and smell.
When he approached the bar, he was greeted by a red faced, middle-aged merry looking man, who held a cloth in one hand, and a tankard in the other. As he walked towards the bar, a slouched individual who was sat on the right in an equally old cloak quickly lowered his gaze back to the worn out wood on the bar.
"Good evening sir, and what would you like?" the barman asked, smiling. The hooded figure who had just entered kept his hood up, and spoke in a low, hoarse voice.
"A pint of your infamous White Tree Ale if you please." The barman nodded his head and went on to get this infamous ale. As the person delved into his pockets to retrieve some money, he rested his gaze once again on the individual that sat to his right at the bar. The individual shifted uncomfortably and spoke up to the barman as he stood.
"Another pint of your finest dwarven ale please," he (for a he it was that the individual turned out to be) said in a gruff voice, as he rose and made his way to a corner table that sat alone, half concealed in shadow. Still he did not remove his cloak. This intrigued the figure who still sat at the bar. Why would that individual not remove his hood…?
He once again delved into his pockets and pulled out an old, worn out pipe. As the barman passed him his White Tree Ale, he held it up, a silent question as to whether he could smoke it.
"Be my guest!" The barman smiled. "It is a tavern after all! Enjoy your ale, sir."
The hooded figure nodded his head in that same practised movement, in thanks. He pushed in some of his favourite foreign weed, and lit the pipe. Taking a large drag, he held it in for a few seconds, before slowly breathing it out. Passing the pipe to his left hand, he picked up the tankard by the handle, and took a swig of his favourite ale. He left it in his mouth, savouring the taste of it, before swallowing it. This was definitely a good reward at the end of a long few days.
The door to the tavern swung open for a second time, and once again, it became quiet in the tavern for a few seconds. In the corner of his eye, the figure saw the individual in the corner shift uncomfortably again. Wondering why, the figure took a deep swig of his pint, and twisted his head round to see who had just entered. He choked and coughed in surprise when he saw whom he recognised as the dwarf, Gimli. He quickly turned and faced the bar as the seemingly happy dwarf strolled up to the bar, whilst being greeted by various people in the tavern.
"Good evening Margon! I'll be having the usual, please."
"Right you are master Gimli. So where have you been this evening then?"
The figure listened intently at this, curious to know. He took another sip, whilst trying to remain invisible, as the dwarf sat himself down on stool to his left.
Gimli finally managed to sit up on the tall stool, and the figure could see the red cheeks on the dwarf. He had clearly already had a few pints.
"Went down to the tavern on the third floor, this evening. No offense Margon! Just a little change. Though I couldn't resist saying no to my favourite ale!" the dwarf grinned.
The figure took a note of this and mentally smiled. Yes, he had heard that the dwarf Gimli had managed to convince the barman on this level to order some dwarven ale every few weeks.
He watched as Margon called out to the individual in the corner, who sat patiently, that his order was on his way. He opened a door behind the bar, and went down to the basement to get the two pints of dwarvish ale.
Next to the figure, Gimli had just lit his pipe, and was taking a few puffs. He did the same himself, and listened in on the conversations that were going on around him.
"To the King!" A small toast cheered, "and to his beautiful Queen!" The figure smiled, as he thought of the Queen. Yes, she was indeed very beautiful. Behind him, another conversation was going on about the elf, Legolas.
"My daughter seems to just stare at him, when ever he walks past!"
"Yes, I can see why," the woman beside the man said. "He has a very fair face, and the way he walks and speaks too! Absolutely lovely."
The figure thought this amusing. The individual in the corner took a rather large swig of his ale.
The door behind the bar opened, and Margon carefully walked through, whilst somehow balancing two pints in one hand and a keg in the other. He put it down and wiped the sweat off of his brow.
"Here you are then, Gimli," he said, as he pushed a pint towards the merry, if slightly tipsy, dwarf. He walked out from behind the bar, and placed the other pint on the table in front of the hooded individual, who wearily took a sip.
An hour or so later, and many pints for the dwarf later, the tavern had grown quieter, with the lateness of the night. Many of the men had staggered off home, after waving a cheery bye to everyone. A few remained however, and were sat chatting merrily to Gimli, a good two-dozen empty tankards on their table. Margon was stood leaning on the bar, talking to some fellow customers.
The figure still sat at the bar, now on his fourth rewarding pint. The smoke from his pipe still wafted in the air, leaving its foreign smell distinguishable amongst the other smoke. He could hear the dwarf's slurred voice over the laughter and chatter, and concluded that the dwarf must now be very much drunk.
He turned and watched as the dwarf stood up to say farewell to one of the members of company he was with, and saw how dangerously he swayed. The man shook the dwarfs hand, and made his way to the tavern door, occasionally knocking into a few tables.
Surprisingly, as the man exited the tavern, the individual in the corner who was still hooded, rose from his seat and followed the man outside. Frowning, the figure watched as the hooded individual walked across the tavern as though sober, despite the rather large amount he had drank.
The figure turned and spoke up to Margon. "Who was the person sat in that corner?" he asked in a hoarse voice.
The barman looked over in the direction the hooded figure was tilting his head towards. "Oh him? I can't say I know, he comes in here very rarely. Strange fellow," he added thoughtfully.
The figure nodded his head in thanks just as the door opened, and the hooded individual walked back through. He sat down and drained his tankard in one large gulp. The figure eyed him suspiciously.
"Right gents, I'm afraid it's time to close now, if you please," Margon said, as he rung the small brass bell.
Gimli looked up incredulously. "What?! No last orders?"
Margon smiled. "I'm afraid not Gimli, I think you have all had enough for one night. Come on, off you go."
The dwarf mumbled something incoherent, and stood up, swaying dangerously again. He picked up his tankard and placed it on the bar to return it whilst at the same time going to lean on the bar.
As though in slow motion, the figure watched as the dwarf completely missed the bar, and started falling towards him, having passed out. He made to get out of the way, but the dwarf collided with his stool and both went crashing down to the ground.
"Oh my goodness!" Margon exclaimed, as the figure got back to his feet, rubbing a bruise that was forming on his arm. The barman looked down at the dwarf and then up at the figure, whose hood had fallen down amidst the chaos. "Oh my! My Lord! Are, are you all right? Oh my!"
The 'figure' stood back up gingerly on his feet, his grey eyes shining with mirth, as he brushed some of his dark hair out of his eyes. The others in the tavern sat opened mouthed, and quickly bowed their heads.
"Aye, I am fine thank-you. It seems my cover has been blown, thanks to my good friend." He smiled.
The barman did not know what to say. "You - you were - all this time, and the other times?" he spluttered.
Aragorn smiled at the barman. "Yes, and I must say, that White Tree Ale of yours really is excellent."
"You should have told me! I could have saved you a quiet room!"
"No, there is no need," Aragorn said, smiling as he waved away the barman's comment. "Really, I enjoy coming here and listening to Minas Tirith's people as a citizen. It is a nice break. So do not bow your heads, my friends. When I am here, I am your friend, not your King." He turned to face the hooded individual, who had remained the same through all of this. "If my disguise has been uncovered, I think it is time for you to remove yours, mellon-nin," he grinned.
The hooded individual sighed and stood up. He pulled down his cloak to reveal two bright eyes on a porcelain face, long blonde hair braided with two pointed ears poking out. "Aye, so it would seem, mellon-nin." Legolas smiled.
He walked up beside Aragorn and too, placed his tankard on the bar next to Gimli's.
The barman looked gobsmacked. Three of the most important people held in high regard in Minas Tirith, in his tavern!
"When did you realise that it was me?" the elf enquired, smiling at the shocked barman.
"Legolas, how many men can walk so soberly after having goodness knows how many pints of a dwarvish ale? And since when did you start drinking it?!"
Legolas smiled again. "Since Gimli challenged me to a drinking re-match after I beat him in Edoras. I have been trying to get accustomed to the taste," he said grimly. "That man who walked out of the tavern earlier was going to tell me how many pints it took Gimli to drink before he would pass out. And by the sound of it, I don't think I have a very high chance of beating him tomorrow night. Although, it does take a lot to get a wood-elf tipsy… but that is strong stuff…"
Trailing off, Legolas turned to face the barman and thanked him for the drinks, which Aragorn imitated.
"I'll have to try some of your best wine next time," Legolas said, smiling.
"And I'll be back for that excellent White Tree Ale," Aragorn added.
"Any time, my Lords!" Margon said bowing. "Thank-you."
"No," Aragorn said. "Thank-you." Both he and the elf bowed their heads.
They then bent down, and helped the semi-conscious, yet thoroughly drunk dwarf to his feet, and escorted him out of the tavern.
Legolas breathed in deep. "Thank the Valar," he said. "That is a nice little tavern, but the smoke is too much! It made doing a gruff voice easier."
Aragorn grinned as they slowly walked up the quiet, paved streets in no rush. "So you often go in there then?" he asked. Legolas looked at him arching an eyebrow. "Margon told me when I asked, when you went out for a few minutes."
Legolas' musical laughter filled the streets. "There is a rather nice wine in there I enjoy once in a while." He saw Aragorn looking at him suspiciously. "It is only the sixth, maybe seventh time I have been in there! Alright, eighth," he admitted.
"And how did you find Gimli's ale he has challenged you with then?" Aragorn asked.
"It is truly vile. I was hoping that with every pint, it might taste a bit nicer. I was clearly wrong."
Aragorn's laughter joined in with the elf's, as they both made their way past the guards on the gate, carrying a semi-conscious dwarf. The guards raised their eyebrows as their eyes followed the celebrated trio heading towards the citadel in the late hours of the night.