5. Of Elves and Men
Sitting at a distance, his face partially obscured in shadow, Legolas shifted, as if he felt Elrohir's discomfort. Not for the first time, Elrohir noticed that Legolas drew looks of either distrust or open admiration from the soldiers. Years of fighting alongside Aragorn's men did not lessen the enigma associated with him, and there were still few who dared to look him straight in the eye.
Elrohir jumped to hear his name, and saw that the entire circle of men was staring hard at him, some bemused, others frowning.
"Lord Haleigh was just asking who you thought was better: the Rose of Tavern Lane, or Windar from the Blue Board," said a young captain.
"Sorry?" Elrohir said, still confused.
"Surely Lord Elrohir, with his legendary appetite, would be able to offer us a discerning opinion?" Haleigh said, and there was no mistaking the goading in his voice.
Elrohir almost flinched in disgust when he realised that Haleigh was asking for his opinion on two of the most famous and popular whores of the city.
"I can only assume Lord Haleigh has much to say on the topic, to be so keen for another's opinion?" Legolas said, stepping in to cover Elrohir's uneasiness. "Personally, I believe it is a matter of choosing between duration and quality amongst your whores."
A rakish laugh broke through the circle of soldiers, as Elrohir tried his best not to shoot a murderous glare at Haleigh.
"Well spoken indeed, Lord Legolas," the young captain said. "You are right in saying that the Rose will do anything you ask of her, while Windar's stamina is admirable."
"What intrigues me is your contention that our whores only provide one of the two delights," Haleigh said, leaning in to examine Legolas more clearly, but finding that it was impossible with the dim lighting.
Legolas shrugged, still refusing to leave the shadows. "It is but my opinion, and I hold no other to it."
"So are Elven lovers any different to mortal ones?" Haleigh said.
"You could say that."
"Would you care to elaborate?" another soldier called.
"If I say no?" Legolas said, although there was a smile in his voice.
"You have had lovers both mortal and Elven?" Haleigh said, refusing to let him dodge the question, for the Elves had always been evasive when quizzed about their habits and tastes in bed-play.
"Perhaps one can say I have tasted a thrilling mixture of Elf-kind and mortal-flesh," Legolas said.
"Which do you prefer?" asked the soldier.
"A blend of both sides means I get both quality and quantity," Legolas said. "Ask Lord Elrohir."
"Yes," Elrohir managed to choke, wishing that he could throttle Legolas and his word-play.
"My daughter tells me that you mentioned custard?" Haleigh said, drawing more laughter.
"Mmm," Legolas said, while Elrohir struggled to regain his rattled composure.
"You recommend it, then?" the captain said.
Elrohir almost kicked Legolas when he felt a quiver of silent laughter shoot through him.
"It depends on your tastes," Elrohir said, glad that the dim light would conceal his blushing.
"Come now, Lord Elrohir, your exploits are legendary, and yet this is all we get to hear from you?" Haleigh said.
"Perhaps I deem this group not selective enough?" Elrohir said, tiring of his questions. "After all, sharing my love-secrets around a campfire will make it difficult for me to live up to my reputation."
"Reputation to live up to?" Haleigh all but sneered.
"You forget your place, Haleigh," Legolas said quietly, all the amusement gone from his voice.
A murmur rippled through the crowd, and Elrohir placed a hand on Legolas's arm, suppressing a groan. The last thing he needed was for the soldiers to get offended, especially not after Legolas had just succeeded in breaking the ice with them.
"Elrohir? Legolas?" Aragorn's arrival caused the men to cast their gazes down, and they muttered greetings to their king. "Can I have a word?"
Elrohir and Legolas rose and followed after Aragorn. He led them to where he had set up camp, a distance away from the soldiers. He gave the instruction for his Guard to leave them, and sat down beside Elladan, asking Elrohir and Legolas to do the same.
Elladan's stoic expression added to the tense atmosphere, as Elrohir and Legolas exchanged glances, suspicious glints in their eyes.
"Yes, Estel?" Elrohir said.
Aragorn took a deep breath before speaking, "My spies have confirmed what we have feared: we have a traitor in our midst. The Southrons have been communicating with one known only as Master Wren, and we fear much information has been sold to them. They knew our army was stretched thin in these parts; it is why they chose to attack the villages."
Elrohir let out a long breath and rubbed his suddenly aching temples.
"It appears some of my most highest-ranking officials work against me," Aragorn said.
"Why are you telling us this now?" Elrohir said, looking up.
"Because I need your understanding --"
"In what?" Legolas said, and there was not mistaking the hard edge to his voice.
"Legolas, I know it is difficult, but I need Elrohir to stay in Minas Tirith until we find the traitor --"
Elladan let out a long, exasperated breath that spoke for Legolas's stony expression.
"Estel --" Elladan said.
"Elrohir?" Legolas said, fixing his mate with a piercing gaze.
The confused and helpless look upon Elrohir's face did nothing to improve his mood, and he turned back to Aragorn.
"I cannot trust anybody, Legolas," Aragorn said. "Apart from you and Roh, I cannot tell who wants to see me and my family out of Minas Tirith -- or worse."
"Lass," Elrohir said. "This will not take long --"
Legolas rose vehemently, but his voice was smooth. "It is curious that you profess to only trust Elf-kind, Aragorn. After all, it appears to me that you have rejected that part of you which is firstborn, and that you forget our very nature. How long do you intend to keep up this charade of whore-trafficking and the non-existence of our duality? But I forget, your loyal subjects are too delicate for the truth about our filthy, sordid ways. I apologise if my presence has brought about unwelcome complications to your rule, but rest assured that you will be rid of me soon enough!"
Watching Legolas walk away with a straight back, Elladan was the first to speak, "I agree with Lass, Estel."
Still stunned, Aragorn turned to Elrohir, who had gone back to rubbing his head.
Elrohir stood up. "I will speak to him."
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.