26. Never Push a Princess
"Is that them?" One of the Orcs whispered to Garluk, scratching his head. "They don't look like Orcs."
"Are they those Elves, like we've heard about?" Another hissed in fear.
Garluk frowned. Neither he nor any of his companions had made forays into Mirkwood before and had never seen an Elf in person. They had heard many tales with varied descriptions of them, none of which agreed except on the ferocity of those elusive beings.
"They are rather strange looking," one said, taking in the long pale hair, fair faces, the slight glow that surrounded them in an ethereal haze.
Garluk studied them closely. He wasn't certain what to do. Then he noticed the sparkling gems that adorned them and the iridescent clothing that one wore. Perhaps this is what female Singing Orcs looked like. They looked nothing like the few females he had encountered in his life, but none of them were of the Singing variety. It was a rare Orc that could sing. He had heard rumors of a male singing Orc, but he wasn't certain if he believed that tale. Singing male Orcs would be a problem. Garluk frowned, studying the three beings in front of him.
"Are you the Singing Orc Princess?" He asked Legolas in Common Speech, ready to bow at her feet or hack off its head, depending on the answer.
"What did he say?" Tavor asked incredulously.
"He asked if Legolas is a Singing Orc Princess." Brethil said, wishing that his bow wasn't propped against a fallen tree several feet away, behind the Orcs. As was his quiver of arrows. "Are your ears bothering you today, Tavor? You don't seem to hear anything that is being said."
"Shut up, Brethil! Singing Orc Princess?" Tavor stared at the Orc. "Singing Orc Princess??"
Garluk didn't understand any of their words, but the voices were pleasant, though not quite what he had expected. He frowned. Perhaps he was mistaken. But then the one in the middle, with many jewels sparkling in the moonlight, looked him in the eyes. Who but a princess would be so adorned? The Orc leader felt his face flush with excitement as the blue eyes flashed fiercely.
"What did you say to me?" Legolas asked in a deadly quiet voice, his face reddening, hands clenching into fists.
Tavor and Brethil glanced at one another. They recognized the tone, only it was usually issuing from the mouth of the King. They took a step back, distancing themselves from him and from the Orcs they suddenly felt sorry for.
"Poor things." Brethil whispered, shaking his head. "Why did they have to mention the word "princess"?"
"Just be ready, Brethil. Or he'll take them all by himself." Tavor hissed.
"Are you the Singing Orc Princess that we heard earlier?" Garluk repeated, wishing he knew what an Orc Princess was supposed to look like.
"I am NOT an ORC!! I am NOT a PRINCESS!! Why does everyone keep saying that??!!" Legolas snarled. "I am starting to get very annoyed by it!!"
The Orcs edged closer, amazed and bewitched by the narrowed blue eyes, red face framed by moonlit hair, crowned with dazzling jewels, white teeth bared in a feral snarl.
"It is," one of them moaned in ecstasy. "It is the Princess!"
"I - AM - NOT - A - PRINCESS!!!"
"Oh! Listen to her shriek! It is her voice! I recognize it! I - OOF!"
The Orc hit the ground as Legolas sprang onto it.
"I - AM - NOT - A - PRINCESS!!" He shrieked again, banging the beast's head onto the ground to punctuate each word.
The other Orcs stared down in shock.
"She is attacking him! She is very strong. She -!"
That Orc found himself sprawled on the ground on his face, one arm twisted behind it, Legolas' knee jammed into its back.
"I am not a girl!!" He spat, ruthlessly yanking on its arm until it yelped in pain. "Say it! "You are not a girl!!"!"
"You are not a girl! You are not a girl!" The Orc cried out. "You are not a girl!" He felt as he never had before. He was in ecstasy! He would die at the hands of the Singing Orc Princess!
"Come on, Brethil. Choose one, or there won't be any left." Tavor hissed, springing onto one of the remaining Orcs with a loud cry. Brethil grinned and leapt at another one, bearing it to the ground beneath him.
Garluk watched as the Elves managed to take out his burly companions one by one until he and one other were the only one standing. The other Orc was jumping up and down with excitement and clapping its clawed hands together. But then the "princess" growled and jumped at him. Soon he was lying on the ground moaning.
Legolas stood panting slightly, the snarl still on his lips as he turned to Garluk. Brethil and Tavor moved to stand beside him.
"Don't EVER call me "princess" again!" He told Garluk.
The Orc smiled, eyeing the "princess" with great admiration and appreciation. "She" was very strong, but he didn't doubt he could take "her". He grinned throwing aside his weapon and flexing his large muscles. He was preparing to launch himself at Legolas when a voice shrieked:
"WHAT IS GOING ON NOW??!!"
Garluk was not a stupid Orc, or a foolish one. He knew the others were. He did not fear the strong "princess", but his admiration had gone up considerably when she had taken out his companions so easily. When the tall one on a horse came riding in, eyes flashing like blue fire, accompanied by a silver haired attendant with a bow, Garluk had no doubt that he could take them on as well. But when he saw the "princess" look up, her glorious eyes resting on the new comer and giving a choking cry and stagger backwards in horror, Garluk began to wonder. He thought he heard her whisper something that sounded like kelb bawd, but he didn't know what that meant. It might be the name of the golden haired rider, but perhaps not.
The other two "maidens" had started as well and moved to stand behind their "princess", eyes filled with fear. It was then that Garluk truly began to wonder just what he had gotten himself into. His fellows were climbing to their feet, moaning and complaining.
"What is this?!" Thranduil repeated, taking in the Orcs and the Tricksy Trio. "Legolas, what have I told you about playing with my jewels?!"
Legolas started and stared down at himself, suddenly recalling that he had been playing with his father's jewels. He raised a stricken face to this father then began to remove all the baubles, throwing them hastily onto those piled on his tunic.
"I - I - I -" he spluttered, his eyes returning again and again to Celeb Baudh . "Ai, Valar! I am going to die!"
Brethil and Tavor began to thrust their own ornaments away as though they were poisonous snakes twining about their wrists and necks. Tavor's mind was in a whirl as he tried to contemplate how they would manage to survive this encounter with their King. His lips moved, but no sound emerged.
Brethil bit at his lips to still them, hoping that if he stood behind Legolas and Tavor perhaps he would remain unseen and therefore he wouldn't be questioned about what had happened.
I won't tell him anything, this time, he told himself. Not about spiders, or Orcs, or his jewels. Or about the water from Morn Nen that we were taking back with us because then he will want to know why and I can't tell him THAT! His grey eyes moved to the dark rush of water that was not very far from where they stood. I will say nothing. Nothing at all. I can do that! Just keep your mouth shut, Brethil!
Thranduil's eyes moved from his son to the Orcs. He felt a look of anger and disgust cross his face.
"You are to leave Mirkwood now! If ever I see you - or smell - you here again under my trees I will have you killed before you can draw a breath to ask my pardon! Leave now or Tanglinna will chase you down and you will fall this day. I am being merciful to you now, as I don't want my wood polluted by your foul blood! LEAVE!"
Garluk would have challenged the rider on any other day, but the look on the "princess'" face told him of the futility of the action. If "she" had shown no fear when he and the other Orcs had arrived to confront them, and leapt forward to attack them without a second's hesitation, was cowering in fear before the rider in dark green then perhaps it would be best to heed the words spoken. He glanced once more at the "princess", regret and admiration filling him.
"Get moving!" He barked at the others. "Now!"
The battered Orcs from the Misty Mountains moved away, throwing sorrowful glances at their "princess". They would return home defeated, but with many wondrous tales to tell. After all they had seen the Singing Orc Princess and her maidens. Not to mention the Queen of the Singing Orcs.
Thranduil watched them go, and motioned for Tanglinna to follow them to make certain they did leave Mirkwood. The Master Archer spared a glance for the three younger Elves and shook his head in pity. Then he turned his mount after the Orcs.
Thranduil dismounted and advanced slowly on his youngest son. Legolas gulped and backed slowly away, Tavor and Brethil hastily moving away from them both. They needn't have worried, as Thranduil only had eyes for his son at the present moment.
"Little Greenleaf," he began in a low voice, the moonlight reflecting off Celeb Baudh. "You are in a lot of trouble."
Legolas felt laughter bubble up in his throat. A lot of trouble? That was such an understatement.
"I am not in a lot of trouble," he murmured, glancing at Tavor and Brethil. "I am dead. I just don't realize it yet. This is my punishment," he told them in a conversational tone. "To live this over and over and always be in trouble, with my father advancing toward me to slay me with his lips; the Silver Judgment on his brow.""
Tavor and Brethil looked at one another, concern filling their eyes.
"He sounded almost like you there for a moment, Tavor." Brethil murmured. "Only he didn't mention Mandos Halls."
Tavor turned to stare at him in disbelief.
"He should throw himself in, as we had told him." Brethil continued in a whisper. "He can't get in trouble for what he can't remember doing. Right? But then we would have to jump in as well, or we will be in trouble because we could remember. What would be best is if the King fell in and didn't remember, then -"
"Shut up, Brethil!" Tavor hissed through clenched teeth.
Thranduil narrowed his eyes and glared at the two, effectively silencing them. Then he continued to walk toward his son who could hear the rushing water behind him.
"Don't even think about it, Little Greenleaf. You have had entirely too much fun and mischief of late and it must stop. Now."
Legolas could feel the edge of the bank at his heels and he had to halt his steps or he would fall in. Did he really want to forget everything? It sounded like such a simple solution. But when would he get his memory back? He gazed over his shoulder. Would his father not punish him because he threw himself into Morn Nen? Or would he merely wait for his memory to return? Or would he not wait at all and punish him anyway? He looked back at his father and the Silver Judgment.
He moaned and turned deciding to throw himself in. Thranduil shot toward him, followed closely by Tavor and Brethil.
"You will not escape me that easily, Little Greenleaf!" The King exclaimed grabbing for his son and -