7. Enticement Gone Wickedly Wrong
"Dearest Legolas, it has been too long since we have seen you last," said Arwen. "It is good to see you well Arwen, Lúthien" Legolas said, inclining his head affectionately. "Can I do something for you two?"
Arwen slipped her arm through Legolas', though he had not offered it, and moved in closer, delicately her eyes against his shoulder as she delicately laid her head on it. Lúthien took the other arm, getting Legolas to look into her eyes. The better for him to adore me with she thought, with an inward grin. Legolas found himself supporting the slight weight of the two ladies. "My dear Legolas," Lúthien began, "we have been hearing all sort of unkind rumour swirling through this Hall in your absence." Arwen took up the suggestion, saying "Please, it would comfort us greatly if you would set this matter to rest. Tell us what you could possibly have had to do with the Dwarf and a tree stump that would have everyone so riled. Surely you could tell us, we who would never turn such information against you."
A gentle pressure on his chest told the Prince that Lúthien had placed her hand there to further emphasise her "affection." Had he turned to the North, he would have seen quite the sight. Elladan and Elrohir were forcibly pinning Aragorn in place, whilst Finrod held Beren back. Both men had turned unseemly shades of green, and the oaths they spewed were mercifully drowned out by a sudden increase in the volume of the crowd's chatter. Fortunately for Legolas, he remained none-the-wiser.
"Alas, dear ladies, I can offer you no such comfort whilst I am so ... discomfited." Discomfited, thought Legolas. Perhaps in one sense of the term I am, but I am by NO means defeated in this battle, ladies. And I have been called 'dear' far too often this night. Turning first to Arwen he said, "Undómiel, I do believe that your husband would take great offense to your *lying* thus." Legolas let the implications fall like water from the word, letting the beautiful elf decipher whether he meant her physical position or her verbal insinuations. "And Lúthien, please do not pout, it is most unbecoming of you. I know both of you, from your sires and from your brothers" he continued, turning from Lúthien to Arwen, "and I know full well not only that, you are both capable of dealing with dangers and sorrows, but also that your hearts cannot be turned so easily. Therefore, I am sure you will take no lasting harm if I take my leave."
And with that, he was gone. Arwen and Lúthien turned to each other utterly stunned that their charms had done naught but further his resolve to withhold the tale. He could not have stunned them more had he physically dropped them on the floor. He had ... had...rejected them!?!
They certainly named these two well, he thought wrily. 'Enchantress' and 'Noble-maiden'...well, at least one of the names was true. Noble, their intentions were not! Legolas thought, as he headed across the centre of the Hall towards the south eastern end. Once more, however, his path was blocked, as Olwë, Maedhros, Elwë and Maglor strode up to him. Now what would make brothers of the truly-firstborn and the sons of Fëanor walk together this night, I wonder?
"I know what it is you would ask of me," said Legolas in preemptive fashion, "but the answer is no."
"Good sir," countered Olwë, "you have not even heard our proposals yet. 'Twould be bad form and poor strategy to not even hear our offer."
"What would you suggest then?" Legolas' voice harboured no hope but fairly rang with resignation of the fact that there would be no stopping them this night. He was beginning to recognise the strategy. Attack over and over again before the subject had time to recover and form any strategy of their own, and to tire them beyond the ability to mount a prolonged defense. It was a technique often employed by the forces of Mirkwood. Their forces had also found it useful when fighting orcs, who were too stupid to develop strategy even if they had the time. It was a simple and highly practical tactic. Unfortunately for him, though, it was also extremely effective.
"My brother and I, and our companions, wished to offer you handsome rewards for this tale."
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Legolas blandly asked "What?"
Ignoring the timbre of the prince's reply, Elwë spoke his offer first. "I know well of your friendship with the dwarf."
It is a wonder he can make that one word sound so offensive thought Legolas rather detachedly.
"I have had much experience with their kind." Again, Elwë made no attempt to hide his disdain for Aulë's children. "I am willing to offer you practical knowledge for future dealings with them. For instance, I have heard you were cornered into visiting the caves along the eastern base of the Taniquetil. I know of many tricks on escaping Dwarven caves that might become..."
"I thank you, sir, but I am perfectly capable of evad...er, escap...er..." Legolas began to flush and fluster for an appropriate word, which given the company seemed rather needles. He finally settled on "Your offer, though generous, is unnecessary."
"Then, perhaps I could offer you a nice spot in Alqualondë to...recover from your time with Gimli?" offered Olwë.
"Again, my thanks, but no thanks." Turning expectantly to Maedhros, Legolas was somewhat unsettled when the son of Fëanor turned to his brother Maglor and grinned. Turning back to Legolas, he said "We could not help but notice your prowess with the maidens."
"I beg your pardon?"
"With the Nightingale of Doriath and the Evenstar of Lórien and Imladris. I thought perhaps I might be able to offer you something of a gift."
"Surely I have done nothing worthy of a gift from you, sir."
"Very well, then. Perhaps we should consider it more a payment for services rendered."
"What did you have in mind." It was less of a question than a statement in dread, but the suspicion and exasperation of his tone went unchallenged. Maedhros readily took a glass from a passing tray and sipped before saying, with straight face, "Well, perhaps you might delight us with the tale of your encounter with a tree stump." A malicious glee had crept into Maedhros' eyes at the mention. "And in return, I might offer you a small toy to make the nights more enjoyable. I certainly will not need them," he said, holding up his maimed arm. "After a while, one learns to adapt, to try new things."
"I am sure, sir, that I have no idea what you are talking about." Nor do I particularly want to know! he mumbled off-side. "But I am not going to tell you any..."
"But surely you, with such success with the ladies would have use for these!" Maedhros reached into a bag and slowly revealed - complete with soft velvet lining and appearing well used and cared for - a pair of leather manacles.
No amount of foresight, expectaion or planning could have prepared Legolas for that revalation. Scarlet turned to crimson, then to purest snow as the full weight of Maedhros' suggestion hit him. He did not even attempt to politely decline. Legolas' mind raced, trying to think what response could be made. He thought, with growing detachment, that he would be unable to force his body to leave. Nor could he drive it to speak coherently. What could he make it do? What was expected of him? Sputtering seemed logical. Yes, sputtering would be the most expected and logical reaction. His mind came back down to his body, trying to grasp hold once again. But he found, much to his mind's surprise, that his body was well ahead.
Consonants and rather gutteral single syllables spewed forth for a few seconds before he could stammer (and squeak) a "N....No...No thanks!" and bolted away.
The beautiful tenor of Maglor's voice rose above the din in a brief but somber lament for the Prince of Mirkwood's departure. As the song rang out, Maedhros turned to Olwë and said, "You know, before the whole oath thing, Maglor was quite the chipper and mischievous one."
"Really?" asked Elwë, as he leaned between his brother and Maedhros.
As if in answer, the lament shifted smoothly into a comic ode to stubborn Silvan princes and the grace by which they fled.
"Yep, it's good to have you back, Maglor!" cried Maedhros, as the four burst into laughter. The blonde hair flitted in and out of the crowd towards the North West wall.
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