1. The Gift of Compassion
My target is no longer a bit of parchment, or even the trees surrounding it. It is a real, live creature. Deer may not be the most pleasant things in the world, but does that give me the right to kill them? I am certainly not the most pleasant thing either. If I was, I would not have accidentally stepped on a tiny spider in my bedroom this morning. I would not have eaten mutton for dinner last night, and I would not be crouched behind a log aiming for another living creature with a weapon.
I don’t want to kill it. I don’t want to kill anything.
Maybe I should stop eating meat. Maybe I should carefully creep along everywhere I go so as not to step on some poor animal. Maybe I should lock away my beloved bow and arrows forevermore, so I shall never, ever have to kill something else that deserves to live just as much as I do.
Why couldn’t Father have sent me out to kill Orcs or Trolls? I wouldn’t mind killing them. They are wretched and show no compassion to any living thing. I hate them. They do not deserve to live.
But the deer, peacefully grazing, with no idea whatsoever about what is about to happen to it, has done nothing wrong. There is no reason for this poor animal to die so I, and the rest of my family, can eat its meat. We are being selfish if we ask it to do that for us: to give up its life so our hunger can be satisfied for another day. It is wrong. I will not kill it. It is innocent. I lower my bow.
But what will I tell Father? He is expecting deer meat. I suppose I could look around the forest for a deer that has already died, but that might take hours and the search could still be fruitless. I could simply go home and tell him that I could not find any deer, but he would just send someone else to go kill it and tell me I need to walk a little bit more quietly if I expect to ever shoot anything. I could tell him the truth: that I don’t want to kill the deer, and that I would rather go hungry for one night than see it dead, but he would just be angry. It seems I have no choice. I raise my bow again.
But wait! Maybe- if I could just find something else to eat…
That night, King Thranduil, his wife, and his two sons settled around an oak table, expecting fresh venison for dinner. How surprised they were when the chef brought out carrots and potatoes and bowls of fruit! King Thranduil looked at his son, who said nothing, but bit into an apple and chewed it thoughtfully. The King smiled, and began to cut his carrots into small bites. He knew his son the Prince Legolas had a marvelous gift for archery, but that was not his greatest gift. Nay, the greatest gift of Prince Legolas, the eldest son of King Thranduil, was a gift that we should all strive to have- the gift of compassion.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.