1. The Orc Trap
Glorfindel's attention was first caught by the sight of the twins staggering past him beneath the weight of a heavy tangle of ropes. Elladan appeared to be navigating, for Elrohir was completely obscured by their burden. An irritated voice rose from the midst of the netting. "Balrog's balls, Elladan! Watch where we're going. I can't see a thing. I nearly fell over a tree root then!"
"Sorry, El. Be careful. The ground's a bit uneven here."
Elrohir snorted. "I already know that!
At first he ignored the sight – it was odd, but not particularly unusual; and he had long since given up trying to understand the twins' games. However, later in the morning he was drawn back towards the river bank by the sound of young voices raised in amiable argument.
"Be careful, El! If you tie it too tight it will be lopsided. They might fall out and escape." Intrigued by the conversation, he crept closer. The speaker – Elladan, he thought; though it was never easy to tell – sighed. "No, not like that! Like this."
Glorfindel watched from beneath the shelter of a friendly willow with long, trailing, concealing branches – although they were far too engrossed to notice him. The bundle of rope had been cast to the ground and spread out, and now Elladan and Elrohir were inspecting it carefully, pacing to and fro across the lattice of ropes and knots like spiders traversing a web. Now and then, when they found a hole in their network, one of them would carefully knot the stray ends together.
At last his curiosity got the better of him. He stepped out from the shade of the willow and stood watching, hands on hips. "Whatever are you doing?" he enquired.
Elladan glanced up. "It's an orc trap," he stated, as if it should be blindingly obvious.
"An orc trap. Of course."
"Ada said there were orcs in the Trollshaws," Elrohir added. "We thought that if they ever tried to cross the river, we could catch them in a trap. If they step on the trigger, the net will close and trap them and lift them up into the trees."
"I see. And what will happen then?"
Elrohir straightened, unconsciously echoing Glorfindel's stance. "Then we can inter – interrog – ask them questions about what they're doing. Ada said the scouts need information about what's happening outside Imladris."
"You plan to interrogate orcs?"
They both nodded with satisfaction. "Yes. Interrogate them," Elrohir confirmed, relishing the word.
Glorfindel decided not to ask how they planned to interrogate the orcs. It was something he would probably rather not know. "I see. I think I will leave you to your orc trap, then. Be careful."
As he turned to leave, Elrohir called him back. "Glorfindel? Could you just help us with this bit, please?"
He was standing precariously on Elladan's shoulders, trying to grasp a thin branch that remained stubbornly just out of reach of his outstretched fingertips. Glorfindel grabbed Elrohir's waist just before he tumbled to the ground, and lifted him higher until he could grab the branch.
"Thank you. Down now," Elrohir commanded.
As he lowered Elrohir to the ground, the branch was pulled down with him. Elladan lassoed it with a rope, and together the twins hauled the branch lower, until it nearly touched the ground. The rope was stretched as tight as a harp string, and the branch quivered with the strain. "Be careful, El. We don't want to damage it," Elrohir cautioned as they lashed it in place.
Glorfindel walked away slowly, turning frequently to watch the progress of the orc trap. The twins' voices still carried to him as they discussed their plan.
"Now, if the orcs cross the river there, they'll come up the bank here," Elladan explained.
"So if we put the trigger here," Elrohir continued, "they'll set the trap off like this …"
There was a sharp noise like the crack of a whiplash as the rope snapped. A flurry of curses reached Glorfindel and leaves showered down all around him. He turned slowly, trying to contain his laughter.
The orc trap swung high above the ground, the rope netting twisted tightly around a tangle of limbs and dark hair. Two furious voices reached him. "El, you idiot! That was your fault!"
After the twins had been cut down, red faced and humiliated, Glorfindel had been sworn to secrecy. Later that evening, he sat with Erestor over a goblet of wine in the Hall of Fire, chuckling at times at the memory, but maintaining his silence as promised.
A gale of laughter drifted over from a knot of border guards as one related some tale. "Now, there was something in this tree that I have never seen before …"
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