6. Of All The Stupid Ignorant Things To Do
Trampling through the woods on the lower slopes of the mountain was not Gimli's idea of a good time. Yet, here he was, after dark no less, following a warg! He had surely lost his mind! No, he reminded himself, he was here for his friend, and he owed that friend dearly for this stunt of Goran's. He only hoped Legolas would forgive him for having such idiots as siblings — but that would require finding the blasted elf!
As soon as the ladies had returned from their bathing with their escorts — along with Legolas's belongings minus said elf — he knew his brothers had somehow struck again. As the enraged husbands and fathers bellowed their accusations, Gimli had caught the smirk on the face of Goran who was hiding in the shadows.
All it took to get the answers he required was to drag his little brother by the beard from the shadows to where their father and mother were hearing the charges. Gimli smirked and inwardly thanked Thorin, King under the Mountain, for being away and leaving his father in charge.
The tale came out of how Gimli's brothers, enraged by their further embarrassment because of the 'elf's spells', had plotted to see Legolas accused of crimes against the women. Such crimes, if proven, would cause the elf to be banned forever from Erebor, and all dwarves would be forbidden to associate with him, including Gimli. The outrage he had felt at that moment paled in comparison to his parent's anger.
"You conceived of a plot to entrap a guest in a crime he did not commit? A guest, may I remind you, who is the son of the Elvenking! And the good friend of King Elessar, whose protection we are under! Do you have NO BRAIN AT ALL?"
Astil could be harsh when needed, but Gimli had never heard her this infuriated. But with good reason! Such actions could be grounds for war! Legolas had every right to seek the full punishment for such false accusations! That equated to banishment of the guilty. Or to seek his father's wrath against the dwarves… That thought was troubling to him and he knew his parents as well. Gimli hoped Legolas would seek the former, but he would back him no matter what the elf chose to do.
As he continued stomping through the trees, Gimli gleefully thought of watching Legolas insist on such a course of action. Of all the stupid, ignorant things to do! His brothers had gone too far this time.
A snort from up ahead halted him in his tracks. Draugalu had stopped beneath a tree and was looking up, whining softly, her tail wagging. He grinned. The elf was found! Now to convince him that all was well and they could return to the Mountain.
"I'm NOT going back, Gimli, if that is what you are here for! Never have I been so humiliated, and that's a long time, my friend! Nearly three thousand years! Just bring me my things and I'll return home." The elf's voice came from high above, irritation and embarrassment causing it to crack unnaturally.
"Legolas, we know what happened. None of the women wishes to bring charges. You were not at fault. And if you do not return, you cannot demand the punishment due — I cannot do that for you, you have to make the request yourself, as you are the injured party. And those idiots deserve it too! No one holds you to blame, and if you wish to return home after that, I will see you there myself." He sighed, his shoulders slumping. "I am truly sorry, my friend, that this has happened. I wanted you to enjoy your time here, and instead you have been treated horribly—"
"Gimli!" Galin's voice boomed from behind him, and he nearly jumped out of his skin. "He has been treated worse than horribly and it's time we get them back and good!"
"Galin! Don't go sneaking up on people like that!" But he was chuckling, now. His sister was right; it was time to get even. "Well, Legolas, what do you say? No one gives as good as he gets as well as you! I know that first hand! What do you say we get even and then you can demand the punishment?"
"What is the punishment due for what they have done?" The elf's voice still came from high in the tree.
"Banishment," Gimli and Galin's voices both echoed through the treetops.
"Banishment?" He could hardly hear the soft whisper, followed by the soft sounds of Legolas descending the tree. From over their heads, Gimli could now see a very bedraggled looking elf. "No, I will not demand that punishment. What they have done does not warrant their being cut off from their family. But I will take you up on getting even, and I will need your help."
"Legolas," Galin implored. "You have every right to request their just punishment! What they did could have gotten you banished, and Gimli forbidden to see you ever again! This could have had serious political effects…" Galin's voice was cut off by melodious laughter from overhead.
"If you only knew what Gimli and I did to each other before we became friends!" Legolas laughed, and his admittance gained a grin from Gimli. "This is child's play by comparison! I did not want to cause your family grief, but this can go no further." The mischievous smile brightened the face of the half-drowned looking elf.
Gimli's spirits lifted as his mind raced down evil paths. The Legolas that Gimli had feared at the start of their quest from Rivendell had returned.
"Gimli, Galin, I have a plan, but it will take both of you and some good acting skills. I must return to Eryn Lasgalen, but I will not be gone long. I'll return by noon tomorrow, and you must have everything ready."
With that the elf dropped to the ground, his bare feet making no sound. A slight wind blew his messed hair away from his face, tangling it even more. Their whispered plans and laughter was the only sound as behind the three friends, Draugalu curled up and went to sleep, one paw touching Legolas, the other Gimli.
To Be Continued….