4. And Some Flowers For Your Hair
“Of course he doesn’t. Do you? Legolas, I thought we all agreed that it would be best if your father doesn’t know about the Dwarves.”
Legolas drew a deep breath and sighed.
“I know. I didn’t really mean it. Only – well, I am getting tired of being insulted by Dwarves.”
“Well, there is that.” Tavor said with a grin. “It is so much better to be insulted by your friends.”
Mirkwood’s prince shot a glance at his friend and then laughed lightly.
“Aye. Let’s go. Perhaps we will leave them to their own devices for a while. You do remember what tonight is, don’t you?”
Brethil’s brows knit then his eyes brightened.
“Oh, yes! Let’s go! Autumn feasting! You do remember that, don’t you, Tavor?”
“Oh, shut up, Brethil. Merrymaking versus Dwarves. Not much of a contest really. Though this has been fun.” He grinned and slapped his companions on the shoulders. “Well, my fellow singing Orcs let us move on to bigger and better things.”
“They…uh, the Dwarves won’t be following us, will they?”
“Brethil, we were following them, not vice versa. Come now. I am for merrymaking of every sort. Let us go. Besides they are quite far from the clearings and have not once strayed off this path. They’ve probably been warned by someone about the fell denizens of Mirkwood.” He contorted his face into an ugly mask, sticking his tongue out at Brethil.
“Yes, You are probably right. And it will be good to eat something other than dried rations. Let us go.”
He walked arm in arm with Tavor and Legolas, but then he looked back.
“Couldn’t we just give them – “
The three soon picked up their pace, laughing and singing headed for the clearings.
“Roast chicken; ham drizzled with honey; mince-pies; tarts; pork pie…” Bilbo trudged along the songs forgotten and the food list begun again. He felt that this whole adventure was poorly planned and that if only they had something to eat - “Seed cakes.” – they would be making out so much better. Or something to drink. Just one glass of cool water would make all the difference. But there was no water and there was no food. “Bothersome Dwarves and their confounded adventures. We will never make it out of this forest, let alone all the way to the Lonely Mountain. Why did I ever agree to this?” Normally Mr. Baggins was not one to complain, but the urge to do so now, and quite loudly, was almost overwhelming.
The Dwarves were complaining quite bitterly and Bombur was trudging along just ahead of the Hobbit, moaning about his legs; the packs; his empty stomach. (“They really shouldn’t have eaten my share of the food. They are so cruel and heartless. They don’t care for me at all.”), his tired hot feet; his need to just lie down for a while and sleep; his empty stomach. (“They should have left me a scrap of bread. That is the least they could have done. But no! They devoured it all. Greedy lot!”), the oppressive atmosphere here beneath the never-ending trees. And of course, his empty stomach. (“I wonder what oak leaves taste like.”)
Suddenly he stopped, nearly causing Bilbo to stumble over him. He flung himself to the ground like a petulant child, his lower lip thrust out.
“Go on, if you must. I’m just going to lie here and sleep and dream of food, if I can’t get it any other way. I hope I never wake up again.” He said, looking up to see if anyone was watching him.
Several of the Dwarves turned to glance at him, but they did nothing to persuade him to stand and continue on.
: They do want me to sleep and never wake up. : He thought morosely. : Cruel heartless things. To think I thought they were my friends when all along – :
Suddenly Balin, who was someway ahead of the others called back to them.
“What was that? I thought I saw a twinkle of lights in the forest.”
They all strained their eyes in the direction that Balin indicated and –yes – a long way off in the trees they saw a red twinkling and then as they watched more appeared, like someone lighting candles all in a row.
They glanced at one another in excitement and hurried off down the path.
Bombur climbed to his feet - Bilbo kindly lending him a hand - and the two followed after.
The light was in front of them to the left. In the haste of their excitement they didn’t even stop to wonder if perhaps it was Trolls or Goblins. It seemed that Bert, William, and Tom - the three Trolls that had nearly eaten them - were forgotten. When at last they drew level with it, they suddenly realized that the light was torches and fires beneath the trees. But it was some distance off the path.
Bombur gasped as he pulled up beside them.
“It looks as if my dreams were coming true.” He started to jump forward, but Dori grabbed his sleeve.
“A feast would be no good, if we never got back alive from it.” Thorin said grimly.
“And both Beorn and Gandalf told us to stay on the path. Not to stray from it at all.” Oin piped in. He felt that there were Orcs or Goblins out there somewhere, just waiting for them to make one false move and then – He shuddered and abruptly cut the thought off.
“But without a feast we shan’t remain alive much longer, anyway.” Bombur insisted firmly. They owed him this feast. Yes, they did!
Bilbo found himself nodding in agreement. They did need to eat and perhaps it wasn’t that far off the path. Perhaps.
“No!” Thorin said firmly. “And you really have no say in this, Bombur, seeing as how you’ve slept through a great deal of this and can’t even remember the rest. So be still.” The son of Thrain II had a nasty feeling that he knew what those fires meant. And he was not ready – not quite yet – to beg food from the Elves.
“I think that Bombur is right. We need food, Thorin. We can’t continue on like this.” Bofur said, tugging slightly on his yellow hood.
“I don’t know.” Bifur said. “Gandalf did say to stay on the path. Who knows what is out there.”
“Well, I think that a quick death at the hands of a Goblin, Orc, or Troll would be preferable to this prolonged starvation.”
“But you heard Beorn –“
“But Gandalf said –“
The arguments went on for some time getting louder and louder until finally someone suggested that they send a couple of spies to find out who had made the fires. But then they argued as to who should be sent. And the ones chosen always declined.
“Bombur should go. This is mostly his fault anyway.”
“I will not go. I have been through quite enough already.”
“He’d eat all the food before we arrived. We can’t send him.”
“Send Dori. He’s the strongest. He can handle whatever is out there.”
“Oh, no, you don’t. I won’t do it.”
“Then perhaps none of us should go. We can’t leave the path. Gandalf said –“
“Yes, well, Gandalf isn’t here, is he? He’s probably sitting at a nice inn somewhere with a plate full of hot food and a glass of ale, smoking away happy as ever. While we stand here and starve.”
“Since it is just like my dreams we should go. There was such wondrous food. Let me tell you …”
In the end they all went. No one could resist the temptation of what Bombur was telling them.
: I won’t beg food from an Elf. : Thorin told himself sternly. : From a Troll, perhaps. But not an Elf. :
As they moved into the forest, Bilbo hesitated. Though his stomach told him to move forward quickly, he stood for a moment.
“DON’T LEAVE THE PATH.”
Gandalf’s last words to the little company carried across his brain.
“I am sorry, Gandalf. It would appear we have no choice.” He whispered, wondering where the Wizard was and why he kept disappearing on them. He picked up one furry foot and moved off the path into the darkness beyond.
Earlier that evening as the clouds cleared away and streaks of gold and lavender colored the sky, Legolas, Tavor, and Brethil wandered into a clearing in the trees ringed with sawn tree trunks. The first of the night’s celebrations would be held here. The grass was still a vibrant green, studded with tiny flowers. This was one of the many places filled with the magic of the Wood Elves. It was a peaceful place made for merriment and laughter, singing and eating. And there would be plenty of it all this night. Torches were fastened to the trees in preparation for the feast. Several Elves had already gathered here and were talking and laughing happily with one another. They were dressed in the comfortable browns and greens most of the Wood Elves favored. They turned to greet the prince and his friends. Brethil immediately moved to join a small group and Legolas sent Tavor after him to keep him quiet.
“Well, nin caun. [my prince] Where have you three been these past days?”
Legolas turned to see Mirkwood’s Master Archer standing behind him, arms folded over his chest.
Long silver hair fell over the old Elf’s shoulders, his blue eyes sharp and bright as a hawk’s. He missed nothing and Legolas felt a tremor of apprehension. Perhaps Tavor better come and keep him quiet.
“Maer aduial, Tanglinna.” [Good evening] He said, pressing his hand to his heart in greeting.
“Maer aduial, Prince Legolas. Where have you three been these past days?”
: I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. : Legolas thought, wondering what to say that would satisfy the Master Archer.
“We were just wandering about. We killed some spiders just east of Morn Nen. And – uh – Oh! Yes. We told Tavor about his falling into it once. Do you remember that? You should have seen his face when we told him.” Legolas laughed lightly. “He was not very pleased to learn of it. Of course he denied it at first, but then why would he remember it since –“
Tanglinna cleared his throat and arched one eyebrow.
“You are trying very hard not to tell me something, aren’t you, Prince Legolas?”
Legolas swallowed and shook his head, shrugging his shoulders helplessly, and looking behind him to where Tavor and Brethil were standing a few feet away laughing and talking totally unaware of his great need for their help.
“I see.” Tanglinna said smoothly, a smile quirking his lips. “Perhaps you fell into Morn Nen this time and you’ve forgotten where you’ve been.”
Tanglinna shook his head and grinned, slapping his prince on the arm.
“I’m sure it will all come out in time. But for now I have something to tell you.”
Relief swept through him. He wasn’t ready for a confrontation just yet. He needed time to think of a plausible story if questioned again about their activities of the past days.
Tanglinna, following his line of thought quite easily, felt laughter bubbling up inside. You won’t be so happy when I tell you what you have been instructed to do this night. He took the younger Elf’s arm lightly and steered him across the clearing.
“King Thranduil, your lord father, bids you join him for his feast in the Gelir Angol Dor. [Merry Magic Place] It is to be a much more formal affair than this one.”
At the word formal, Tanglinna noticed the widening of Legolas’ eyes and the flicker of anxiety that passed through them. He forbade the laugh in his throat to emerge and continued.
“I have brought your clothes with me. Some how your father knew you would probably be showing up here today. The king is good and wise.”
“What clothes?” Legolas asked in a small voice.
“Ah, here they are.”
Legolas grimaced. He did not enjoy formal occasions and he did not like the clothing that he was required to wear. But his father did enjoy the fussiness and formality and insisted that all his offspring bow to his whims and wishes.
A long pale green silk robe was laid out on the grass, it’s stiff silver collar encrusted with the white gems his father preferred. The flowing sleeves were gathered at the wrists where more gems sparkled. A silver belt, also studded with gems lay beside it. Fair pale green shoes and leggings embroidered with a tracery of silver threads also awaited him.
“Tanglinna, I –“
But the archer stopped him.
“Your father commands it, my prince.” He said with a smirk.
“But Tanglinna, I – “
“You had better dress, your father is expecting you.”
Legolas scowled and took off his weapons. Grumbling he stripped off his comfortable hunting leathers and pulled on the ridiculous flowing garments.
He turned to see the grand amusement in the Master Archer’s eyes.
“You look most, uh, beautiful, my prince.” He choked out.
“I look like a girl!” Legolas spat in disgust, waving his arms and watching the full sleeves billow out. “This is ridiculous. I think father just does this to torture me.” He shook his head and turned to leave.
Tanglinna gathered up the weapons and discarded clothing.
“You’re not quite ready, my prince. One more thing is required.”
Legolas turned to look at him.
“What else could this outfit possibly require?”
Tanglinna inclined his head toward a tree nearby. Hanging in its branches were delicate wreaths of small green leaves and berries trailing strands of white flowers.
“For your hair.” He said, then turned and fled, his delighted laughter filling the cool evening air.
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.