4. Friendly Eyes
Legolas had just grabbed hold of the mallorn branch high above his head and was swinging momentarily, when a sharp command came from somewhere in the trees above him.
He immediately dropped to the ground, looking around in surprise and fear. He flattened himself against the trunk of the tree and in an insistent whisper told the others not to speak or move. The Company scanned the treetops, searching for the owner of the voice, but they could see no one.
A light, melodic laughter rang through the forest, drifting down to them through the leaves. The harshness was gone and soon a merry voice said, “You breathe so loud I could shoot you in the dark.”
The expressions of Aragorn and Legolas softened when they heard this, but the others still looked fearful and suspicious. They saw movement in the branches, but could not lock their gaze on what made it. Too soon to be human, a figure emerged from the shadows directly in front of them.
To most of the Company’s surprise, Aragorn approached the stranger, clapped a hand on his shoulder and smiled. “That is not a fair statement, mellon nin. Everyone you shoot is in the dark.”
The stranger laughed again and the hobbits’ fear passed, though Boromir and Gimli remained on guard. “Welcome, Aragorn son of Arathorn. And Legolas! It is too seldom that our northern kin visit these woods. This,” he said, taking a step toward Frodo, “must be the one we have heard rumors of.”
But as he spoke this last, all save elf and elf-friend blinked or raised their eyebrows in surprise. The stranger had stepped into the light, and they could see him quite well now. He was an elf, as they had guessed, tall and fair as the rest of his breed. But that is not what took them aback. It was his eyes. His eyes, which should by rights be as pale blue as Legolas’s, were all but completely white. Only the faintest shadow of what were once pupils showed in those milky orbs.
“That elf’s blind!” was the fist thing heard from Gimli, ever ready to point out flaws in those of the fairer race.
At this the elf did not laugh, but inclined his head toward Aragorn, “You brought a dwarf past our borders? That is not well. You know our laws will not allow him to pass.”
“He is a friend, Haldir,” Aragorn told him, “and a brave and faithful companion. He was appointed by Elrond himself to this quest.”
The elf thought for a moment before answering, “Very well. If you and Legolas will answer for him, he may pass. But he must go blindfolded through Lothlórien.”
“What?!” Gimli was all obstinate indignation, “I will not be treated like a prisoner because this elf begrudges others what he is obviously lacking himself.”
Legolas frowned at him and Aragorn hissed, “Gimli! Have some manners.”
“Tell that to him,” he persisted, “unless his hearing is as bad as his eyesight.” The dwarf laughed at his foolish insult. “How is he to stop us from proceeding? Why, I wager I could slip by and he wouldn’t even notice.”
At this, Gimli proceeded to shuffle back and forth, trying to be stealthy but failing miserably. The Company stared at him in wonder or shook their heads at his antics. He went one way, then the other, looking very much like a football player trying to get through the defensive line, all while Haldir just stood there, seeming not to notice. Finally, almost on tip-toe, he attempted to creep past Haldir down the path.
Just at the moment when he was closest to the elf and it seemed as if he may get past, Haldir sprung. One hand grabbed the dwarf by the neck and slammed him against a tree while the other drew a long knife and pressed it through Gimli’s beard, under his chin. It all happened so quickly that the dwarf could not even raise a hand in defense.
“It seems even a blind elf is more alert than a dwarf,” he said in a smooth voice, a smile threatening his lips.
But Gimli had a stiff neck, even when a knife was being held to it. “Perhaps you are not as helpless as you appear, but I still refuse to be led as a beggar.”
Haldir just sighed and released him, sheathing his blade.
“Enough, Gimli,” Aragorn said, then looked to Haldir, “If it is so hard a thing for the dwarf to be singled out, we shall all be blindfolded, even Legolas.”
He looked to Gimli, daring him to comment, but the dwarf took the hint. Though none looked too happy about it, especially Legolas and Gimli, they were all blindfolded.
Boromir grunted, “The going may be slow, and we may look like a troop of fools, but at least the dwarf will not be alone in his misery.”
“So it must be,” Aragorn said, “Lead on, Haldir.”
As they filed down the smooth path, Pippin grinned. “Should I say it, Merry?”
His cousin’s voice came from behind him, “No, Pippin, I really suggest you don’t.”
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.