Summary: Legolas and some of his people find the heat of Ithilien cause to seek respite at the end of a hard day of work under the sun.
By Nieriel Raina
Year 1, Fourth Age
The heat was scorching. Legolas wiped his brow on his sleeve and glanced up from his work. The late summer sun beat down on him as he and several of his people labored to repair a boundary fence. They all dripped with sweat as they lifted stone after stone and stacked them to make the wall. It would be back breaking work on a cool day. And this fence did not lie under the shade of the trees of his beloved Ithilien, but in a large meadow, under the glaring sun.
Pulling a leather tie from his pocket, Legolas joined several others in tying his hair back at his nape as the Men of Gondor did. It did not hold the long strands back as securely as his braids, but it was cooler and held his hair off his neck. He bent to his work, the ponytail, as Faramir's daughter called it, falling over his shoulder as he heaved another flat stone into place.
Another hour they worked, and one by one, each of them stripped off their tunics, baring their upper bodies to the sun. Boots came off, leggings were rolled up. Even after ten years living in this southern land, Legolas and his people still struggled to adjust to the intolerable heat when out from under the forest's protection.
Finally, the last stone was laid, and they began picking up discarded gear, while chatting amiably amongst themselves. Tulus, an elf from Lothlórien who had given Legolas his fealty, sidled over, his fingers working to release his silver hair from its bonds. "Well, my lord. A day well spent."
Legolas nodded. "The wall is sound and will hold for many years." He tugged at the waist of his sweat-dampened leggings. "By the stars, it is hot!" He glanced up at the sun again. "Well after midday and the temperature yet climbs!" He scooped up his tunic and wiped his face on the soft cloth. "I miss the north. I would welcome winter over this heat!"
Tulus grinned. "And I miss the cool Golden Wood. But we still have compensations here unlike those back home."
Legolas raised a brow, though his lips quirked into a small grin. He knew exactly what his friend was going to suggest.
Tulus tipped his head in the direction of the tree line two leagues east of them. "The falls are not far."
Legolas glanced at the others. Many lounged on the ground or stretched sore muscles. He stooped and picked up his boots. "Not far at all."
He cast a surreptitious glance at Tulus, noting the other still looking longingly towards the trees. Shaking his head and grinning to himself, he bolted for the tree line. "Last one to the falls owes me a drink!" he called over his shoulder.
He only looked long enough to see the others racing after him.
Tulus overtook him about a hundred yards from their destination. He ran straight towards the drop-off, dropping his clothing before he reached it and launched himself over the edge. Legolas heard him splash into the deep water of the pool below.
Taking the path to the base, Legolas stripped from his leggings, throwing them to the ground beside his boots, tunic and knife. He headed into the fast flowing stream, away from the pool and to where one of many smaller waterfalls raced down the rocks. Standing under the pounding coolness, he let the strains of the day fade. Here, under the shade of the trees, away from the stifling heat, he felt most at home.
The water trickled down his face, collecting on his lashes, and he blinked the moisture away. Nearby, he heard the sound of the others arriving, many jumping into the pool still clad in their leggings as Tulus had done. Others gathered at the creek's edge, dropping their gear and undressing. Laughter filled the air, and Legolas closed his eyes.
It had been a good day.
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