5. Apologize And Quickly Leave
Legolas felt dirty. He had not been out of the mountain since his first night here and that night had been a disaster. His face heated when he recalled Gimli's almost giddy description of his behavior. Oh the dwarf had enjoyed that! Probably would have let him take everything off it not for his sense of honor, and Legolas couldn't blame him. If the situation had been reversed, he wasn't sure he'd have been as honorable. He grinned. He had a very good friend.
The following incapacitation and the dwarf's care proved it even more. Gimli had even taken to beating his own brothers in Legolas's defense. His grin widened; those four had gotten it from every side for their behavior that night. He hoped they would let their animosity towards him go now, before the situation got worse. Another episode such as the drinking game, and his pride would dictate his own retaliation.
His mind returned to the dirt he could feel clinging to his skin. It had been almost two whole days since he had seen the sun, and he really wished to bathe in one of the streams under the trees, so he wandered back towards the surface. At the entrance to the mountain, he questioned the guard as to where he could find a quiet place to bathe undisturbed. The guard gave him directions to a small pond not far away, and Legolas, whistling a merry tune, followed the path. His spirits were greatly raised as he walked under the fading sunlight.
The path took him past a large boulder, and his senses flared in warning. Cautiously, he rounded the large rock to find one of Gimli's brothers sitting on the other side — Goran, the one with black hair who had been the most rude to him. But the dwarf simply 'harrumphed' and nodded slightly at him in greeting. Mayhap Gimli's 'talk' had some effect after all!
"Going to take a bath?" Goran asked, flicking a bug off his red tunic.
Legolas hesitated for a moment, then inclined his head. "Yes, Danin told me there is a pond not far from here."
"The POND?" Goran looked horrified. "Why would you want to bathe in a muddy pond when there's a large stream not far from here under the trees?"
Legolas's eyes widened. The dwarf sincerely looked shocked at his choice of bathing place. "I know not of this stream, and I wonder at your desire to tell me of it, considering your reception of me and obvious displeasure in my friendship with Gimli." He narrowed his eyes on the stunted creature. "What are you planning now, dwarf?" He could not stop his suspicions from rising, despite of the innocent look on the dwarf's face.
"The name's Goran. Look, our brother pummeled us, your beast tried to eat us, our mother wants to disown us and let's not even talk about what Galin mentioned she'd do to us! We may not like you and believe you have put some spell on our family, but we do value our lives!" He actually looked affronted at Legolas's comment. "So I'm trying to make an effort here! But I don't care; go bathe in the muddy pond! I thought you might like the nice stream where Galin goes. Seems elves would like to bathe in the midst of trees and such."
Goran let out an exasperated noise and threw his hands in the air.
Legolas raised a brow at the dwarf. "I would not wish to bathe where the ladies go. In our woods, that would be a death sentence! I will take my chances with the pond." There was no chance he would go near a female bathing area!
"They only go in the morning, NEVER in the evening. Their fathers and husbands won't allow it. We don't have many womenfolk, so we take care of them. It's a mutual bathing place, we just make sure we observe the right times. I'm sure you noticed Galin goes out in the mornings?" At Legolas's hesitant nod, Goran continued, "That's where she goes with the other women. So if you're going to go, now is the time. I'll go with you if it makes you feel more comfortable."
Legolas didn't really want the dwarf's company, and he still had a hard time believing this one in particular. Still, better to have him along to blame if he ran into trouble.
"I'd be grateful if you'd show me this place," he answered, and after a moment's further hesitance, followed Gimli's brother.
The dwarf led the way into the woods. Soon they could hear the sound of water rushing, and falling over rocks. They came from the trees to a break that stood at the top of a waterfall. It was only about 15 feet high and fell into a deep pool below surrounded by many rock formations. The view was stunning in the shadows formed by the setting sun, and Legolas felt his heart surge at such beauty. He would love to bathe and swim in this place!
Ignoring the dwarf nearby, he sat down and removed his shoes, weapons and outer tunic. He stood to finish undressing, preparing to dive into the pool, rather than take the trail to the bottom. Before he could remove his shirt, however, he was rather roughly shoved over the edge and plummeted the short distance to the water below.
Coming to the surface, gasping from the shock of the cold water and the sudden plunge, Legolas looked up, perturbed at the dwarf's sudden attack. But all thoughts of Goran faded when he heard several gasps and shrieks filled the air. He yelped as he realized he was NOT alone in the pool. What he had missed from the angle of the cliff face were about a dozen female dwarves, as hairy as Gimli himself, bathing and chatting around the pool — stark naked.
From nowhere the thought came that it was the dwarves that went swimming with little hairy women, not the elves! He blushed furiously, thinking he if he could just swim to the shore, apologize and flee, he could then have Gimli explain his being here. But the women surrounded him as soon as he got near to the shore. Legolas tried hard to avert his eyes and stuttering apologies, so discommoded he spoke in Sindarin, rather than Westron.
A hand reached out and touched his hair and he jerked back in shock, eyes wide. All around him the women talked about him.
"If he's going to swim with us, he should remove his clothes like he started to do the other night."
"He's so beautiful. I want to see him with his hair unbraided!"
"I hope he has that golden hair all over his body!"
Legolas froze. This was not happening to him! Naked, hairy women infatuated with an elf? And a happily married elf at that! Legolas did his best to disentangle himself from the many hands reaching out to touch him when a bellow came from above. In that moment, he wished he had never set foot in Erebor.
"WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT ELF DOING BATHING WITH OUR WOMENFOLK?"
Foregoing all semblance of politesse, Legolas pushed and shoved his way through the throng. As soon as his feet hit the shore, he was away and fleeing up into the trees.
To Be Continued….
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