5. Roast Venison and Elf Maidens with Hair of Gold
Brethil turned at Tavor’s words, taking a sip of wine from the silver goblet in his hands. When he saw what Tavor was pointing at, his face filled with such glee, the young Elf gasped, choking on the wine.
“I don’t believe it.” Tavor continued, laying aside the sweet bread he had been eating.
Brethil straightened from his coughing fit and stared across the clearing in amazement and delight.
“I will never let him forget this.” Tavor said, folding his arms across his chest.
As Legolas stalked out of the trees a hush came over the assembled Elves. They were all aware of how much their youngest prince disliked dressing for his father’s formal affairs and some of them even felt a certain sympathy for him. But the sight of him dressed in flowing pale green robes glittering with silver and fair jewels; a wreath of leaves, berries and flowers clenched in one fist; and a scowl as formidable as one of his father’s was enough to send them into paroxysms of laughter.
Legolas glared at them all, his blue eyes fiery bright and fierce.
“I think we’d better push him into Morn Nen after this night. I am certain he will wish to forget it.” Brethil laughed into Tavor’s ear.
His face red and burning with embarrassment and frustration, Legolas moved to join his two closest friends.
“Do not say one word to me, either of you. Or you will pay dearly.”
Brethil bit his lips, giggling helplessly and ended up clapping his hand over his mouth and turning away. But Tavor merely smirked and raised one fair eyebrow.
“What one word would you not have me say? Truly, you look…stunning. I must say that I have never seen you looking better. In fact,” he leaned back surveying the glowering prince. “If you don’t mind, I think perhaps my sister would like to borrow that outfit sometime.”
Legolas bared his teeth and thrust the wreath into Tavor’s chest.
“Don’t talk to me!” He hissed and turned away in a swirl of green silk and blonde hair.
Brethil, gasping slightly, turned back to watch him go.
“Uh, Legolas! You forgot your flowers!” He called, snatching the wreath from Tavor, whose eyes were sparkling brightly.
“Come on, Brethil.” He said, draining his goblet in one swallow. “We’d better go comfort our pouting princess.”
Brethil giggled again and, placing the wreath on his own head, followed at Tavor’s heels.
Legolas had seated himself on one of the sawn tree trunks and was staring moodily at the area in the center of the clearing. He turned his head away slightly as the two came to sit on either side of him.
“Cheer up, Legolas. It could be worse.” Tavor soothed, patting his friend’s knee.
Brethil started to laugh again, but a sharp look from his prince made him force his mirth down for the moment.
“Yes, Legolas. Tavor is right. It could be worse.” He felt the giggles coming on again. “But I don’t know how.” He burst out laughing once more, nearly toppling from his seat.
“Ignore him, Legolas. You know how he gets. Really, it is quite a nice outfit. And it could indeed be worse. It could be, uh, pink.”
“Pink!” Brethil choked. “It should be blue though. To match your eyes.”
Tavor bit back the laughter that surfaced and turned a stern face to the young Elf.
“Go fetch him some wine, why don’t you, Brethil. And give him back his wreath please.”
Brethil stood then bowed gracefully handing Legolas the wreath. He grinned and rushed away.
“Don’t let him bother you, Legolas. You know how he is. And it is a good color on you.” Tavor commiserated, leaning back on the seat and staring at the sky. It was probably wise to change the subject. It wasn’t prudent to tease the prince overmuch. He swallowed a bubble of mirth and turned to Legolas. “I saw Tanglinna speaking with you earlier. Does he suspect?”
Legolas snorted, fingers caressing the berries and leaves. He could feel his bad mood dissipating slowly. He knew he looked ridiculous and he also knew that he would have laughed at anyone else dressed this way. And probably would before the evening was over. He shrugged, smiling slightly.
“Of course he does. He’s like my father. They seem to know everything.”
Suddenly a fire leapt up in the center and the torches ignited one by one around the clearing. Cheers, singing, laughter and clapping filled the clearing. Tavor and Legolas stood, both smiling. No one could be upset in this atmosphere for long. The first of the autumn feasts had begun!
The Dwarves and Bilbo crawled on their hands and knees though the dead leaves and moss toward the clearing, which was glowing brightly in the night. The sound of laughter drifted to them and soft singing.
“It’s not Orcs and Goblins, is it?” Oin whispered.
“Of course not.” Nori hissed. “Be still! And back up a bit. You’re right on top of me!”
Bombur crawled beside Bilbo, smiling happily.
“Oh, Bilbo, do you suppose that they will have pork pie? I don’t recall any in my dreams, but I suppose they might. Don’t you think so?”
“I’ll take any kind of pie they care to give me.” Bilbo said. “Though it smells like roast venison.”
“Quiet!” Thorin growled. “We are nearly there.”
They crept to the edge of the glade, peering in at the festivities from behind the trees that ringed it.
“Elves.” Bilbo breathed and smiled at Bombur who smiled back. “I knew it!”
“I am glad that you were right, Bilbo.” Bombur said quietly. He found he rather liked the Hobbit. And he remembered that Bilbo hadn’t made him carry his pack.
The Dwarves stared hungrily into the clearing and Thorin felt his stomach pinch with hunger.
: Dratted Elves. I won’t beg food from an Elf. :
But as the smell of roasting meat reached his nose he felt his resolve crumbling. The others glanced at him, their eyes pleading.
“Accursed Elves!” he muttered.
At that moment Brethil happened to turn, his gaze going to the trees just beyond the firelight.
But the two were laughing and drinking the sweet berry wine, feeling quite happy and didn’t hear him. They were admiring Legolas flowing sleeves and remarking how the jewels sparkled so fetchingly in the firelight.
“Legolas? I think that –“
Suddenly thirteen Dwarves and one Hobbit scrambled from behind the trees into the clearing.
“The Dwarves are here!” Brethil hissed.
His two friends spun toward him, their eyes falling on the on the small rushing figures. Then they turned to look at one another with stricken faces. The huge fire suddenly shot upward like Gandalf’s rockets into the night sky in a glimmer of sparks and the torches puffed out one by one.
Thorin and Company suddenly found themselves engulfed in total darkness.
“What is happening?” Oin cried. “What is happening!”
They all scrambled frantically, falling over the tree trunk seats and fallen logs. Their feet became entangled in the growth of ivy and woodbine at the tree’s edge.
“Stop!” Thorin commanded them, hearing all the crashing and cries about him. “Stop!”
But it was too late. They had run pell-mell back into the surrounding trees.
“Stop! You must stop!”
But for some reason they didn’t heed him.
“Dratted Elves! This is all their fault!” And with that Thorin headed into the greater darkness.
The second autumn feast was held in a larger clearing and more Elves were in attendance. If possible this one was much merrier and laughter and song flowed into the night.
Legolas, Tavor, and Brethil stood in a small knot, the only three unaffected by the spirit of mirth and lightness that prevailed this night amongst the Mirkwood Elves. They each held silver goblets, but the wine inside was untouched.
“I thought you said those Dwarves weren’t following us!” Brethil said accusingly, his grey eyes dancing with apprehension.
“They didn’t follow us, Brethil. We are Wood Elves. No one follows us unless we want them to.” Tavor stated sternly.
“What about that pack of Wargs out by the western edge? They followed us easily enough.”
“The Wargs were different, Brethil. They are much more intelligent than Dwarves.” Tavor sniffed, feigning nonchalance though his heart raced and his eyes darted about the glade fearing to see Dwarves tumbling into this party.
“Be quiet! Both of you!” Legolas hissed. “Tanglinna is watching us.”
Brethil, of course, swung his head toward the Master Archer who was standing several feet away, his bright eyes on the three young Elves. He smiled weakly and waved.
“You are such a Troll, Brethil. I’m sure that he knows we are up to nothing at all now. Thank you so much.”
“What? I didn’t do anything, Tavor.” Brethil was feeling very put upon. It was hard to be the youngest of this trio at times.
“Just…don’t look at him any more. Alright?” Legolas soothed, raising the goblet to his lips. “Why did the Dwarves leave the path? They hadn’t up until now.”
Tavor shrugged, his eyes sliding to Tanglinna, who continued to watch them. Had he perhaps moved slightly closer?
“They probably heard the laughter.” Legolas said, an uneasy feeling filling him. What if they did manage to track them here? What if they managed to find his father’s feast? He groaned slightly and gulped the rest of the wine down, feeling it buzz pleasantly in his head.
“They probably smelled the food.” Tavor speculated. “They were rather hungry. And rather obsessed with food. Especially that furry- footed one.”
“I told you we should have given them something to eat!” Brethil announced, looking at the two of them in exasperation. “If you had but listened to me – “
“Oh, do be quiet, Brethil. There is nothing to be done about it now. Hopefully they got so frightened that they scampered back to the path and are fleeing down it this very moment.” But his eyes scanned the trees and the darkness beyond.
It was sometime later that, after much wine and food, the three began to relax. There had been no sign of the Dwarves. Perhaps all would be well.
But as Brethil was singing a merry tune his eyes chanced upon a movement in the trees. His voice faltered.
“Uh, Legolas? Tavor?”
Thorin and Company had managed to gather themselves all together at last. They were very relieved that none were lost or badly hurt, though all were scraped and bruised.
“What are we to do?” Bombur asked.
“What is there to do?” Balin said. “We can’t do anything in this darkness. We’ll only get lost again. And none of us wants that.”
“Which way is the path?”
“We should never have gone off the path.”
“Gandalf told us not to leave the path. Beorn warned us, didn’t he?”
“Maybe there is some food on the ground here. They left in such a hurry, surely they must have dropped something.” Ori piped up. He dropped to his knees hands frantically searching the ground for any small scrape of sustenance.
“No, Ori! Get up. You will only become lost again.” Thorin was now in charge once more. “Everyone must lie down where he is and not move until it is his watch or morning comes. Dori, you may take the first watch. Alert us if anything happens.”
Everyone reluctantly obeyed, their stomachs aching with hunger made much worse by having smelled food earlier.
“Did you see that beautiful Elf maiden dressed all in sparkly green, holding a wreath of flowers? Her hair was like spun gold.” Gloin said quietly. “I never knew Elves could be so beautiful.”
“Don’t tell me that you are falling for an Elf, Gloin?” Fili giggled.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Gloin pouted. “I merely commented that she was quite beautiful. Hmph! A Dwarf falling in love with an Elf. How ridiculous! Though it might be wondrous just to have a lock of her hair.” He whispered softly to himself.
“Roast venison.” Bombur said quietly. “That is what I smelled.
“Yes. It did smell very good, didn’t it.” Nori agreed, rubbing his stomach.
“What else do you suppose they had?” Bifur called softly.
“All sorts of things, I am sure. What do Elves eat anyway?”
“I am certain that I do not know, nor do I care.” Thorin said sternly. “But if you don’t all shut up right now, I will eat every last one of you!”
“He’s just grumpy because he is hungry.”
The Dwarves had just settled into silence and drowsiness was stealing upon them – it had been a very eventful day after all – when Dori whispered loudly:
“The lights are coming out again over there, and there are more than ever of them.”
They all leapt immediately to their feet and, sure enough, there were lights twinkling like fallen stars; and voices and laughter.
“Oh! Another party! Let’s go!”
“No rushing forward this time! No one is to stir from hiding till I say.” Thorin ordered as they crept forward together, each touching the back of the one in front of him so as not to loose their way. “I shall send Mr. Baggins alone first to talk to them.”
Bilbo squeaked and stumbled.
“They won’t be frightened of him and anyway I hope they won’t do anything nasty to him.”
Bilbo was shaking slightly, his fingers toying with his magic ring that rested in his pocket.
: Yes. Why would they be frightened of me? But what about me of them? :
They peered cautiously into the glade, Gloin’s eyes searching for his Elf maiden.
: Ah, there she is! : he thought dreamily, his eyes resting fondly on Legolas. : You are a glorious creature. I have seen none fairer. :
Thorin nodded and the Dwarves suddenly pushed Bilbo from behind. But before he could slip his ring onto his finger, he stumbled forward, caught by surprise by the grand thrust from behind. Out went the lights again and complete darkness fell.
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.