Legolas skipped another pebble across the pond. Four, five, plop, it sank.
'I am bored,' he grumbled, and he sat with a loud sigh next to his companion. Upwind, to avoid the noxious smoke of pipeweed that had already raised so many eyebrows in Aman. But nobody had dared speak against Gimli's unusual pastime, so the Dwarf smoked happily outside his home after a hearty meal.
'Nobody would have guessed by looking at you,' he chuckled.
'Valinor is boring.' There, it was said. Long had this disturbing thought wandered in the mind of Thranduil's son, weaving itself with others that attempted to seek contentment, once the joy at freedom from the sea-longing had been forgotten. 'Had I known the idleness of my life here, I would have stayed in Ithilien.'
'Mmmm,' agreed Gimli. 'There is nothing wrong with this place but I know what you mean. No orcs, no blizzards, no dark lords. On the other hand, we have good food, great company… You have only been here ten years, lad. Give it time. You have eternity.' He smiled at the other's unhappy groan.
'But if you are really struggling, I may be able to help you…'
'He has done what?' cried the High King of Arda.
He studied the bizarre scene in front of him. Held firmly by several armoured Maiarin warriors, an Elf stood completely naked, with his hands bound behind his back. His bow and quiver were held by one of his escorts.
Manwë looked at the strong, lithe body, perfect in every way. The muscled chest and shoulders glistened with sweat, not from fear but exertion. The eyes glittered from a mixture of anger and defiance. He noticed, with a slight start, that the man's gweth had stirred, and he wondered at this phenomenon briefly, before shaking himself from this appealing distraction.
He had recognised his unwilling guest at first sight.
'Explain yourself, Thranduilion.' His tone was benevolent, to give the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it had all been a misunderstanding of some kind.
'It was a wager, my lord,' spoke Legolas.
'A wager? To prance around destroying other people's property?' Manwë frowned, with the aim of intimidating the one before him. He would have no tolerance for pranksters.
'I destroyed nothing,' replied Legolas. He had not even blinked in apprehension. The stubborn look in his eyes was one that had been commented upon in several ocassions between the Valar. Not for the first time Manwë wished that Thranduil would sail soon.
'He speaks the truth, my lord,' one of the warriors said. 'All the arrows got caught in rings of metal or lattices. His markmanship is extraordinary.' Legolas could not help a smirk, but he was sensible enough to remove it from his face before Manwë turned back to him seeking further explanation to this deed.
'I was planning to retrieve them. I spent a week making them.'
'I will retain them as evidence, at least for the moment.' He saw the Elf was about to open his mouth to complain. 'If you have the time to spare for such stunts you can make yourself another set. That is settled.' Legolas scowled but remained silent.
Lord Gimli was announced into the hall at that time, and Manwë nodded his welcome.
'Greetings, son of Glóin,' he spoke. 'I understand you were the one to alert my warriors about this disturbance…'
'Traitor! Cheat!' cried Legolas, and he vainly attempted to approach the Dwarf, while he glared at him with venomous eyes. But the Maiar kept him in his place. Manwë noticed, with growing fascination, that this scuffle had provoked a marked effect on the naked Elf, and his gweth now stood proudly to attention. Legolas seemed unaware or unconcerned about this circumstance.
Once Legolas ceased in his efforts Manwë signalled for one of the warriors to free him. When the cords were cut Legolas rubbed his wrists, then crossed his arms across his chest. The Lord of Arda noticed how the archer's biceps bulged most enticingly. He cleared his throat, and with a conscious effort focused his mind on the business at hand.
'Tell me more about this wager, Legolas.' He immediately perceived the Dwarf was shifting, as if in discomfort. He offered him a chair but it was hastily refused.
'This Dwarf here said he had the perfect remedy to ease my boredom,' started the son of Thranduil.
'Oh, so he is your accomplice?' Manwë decided he might need some advice, so he summoned Aulë. Unfortunately both Olórin and Námo were with him at the time and invited themselves along to witness the proceedings.
'Tell us, son of Glóin,' Manwë's tone may have sounded gentle, but Gimli was not fooled.
'Aragorn and Arwen suspected that Legolas might sulk, and suggested some ideas to cheer him up. You know, to give him challenges, things that no one had ever done before in Aman. Like this "livinlavidä" trick. Never mind, nothing to worry about, my lord. We should be going, with your leave…' Gimli laughed nervously.
'The "livin-what"?' queried the Lord of the Breath of Arda.
'He means liltalavië.' Legolas at last displayed some embarrassment.
'What?' Manwë almost shouted.
'Liltalavië, my lord,' repeated Legolas. His voice was no more than a whisper, barely audible, even for the mightiest of the Valar.
Námo looked sombre. It would not have boded well for the Elf and the Dwarf had it not been for Olórin laughing heartily.
'Whatever,' grumbled Gimli. 'I had it written in a bit of parchment, but the name matters little.'
'Do you know what it means?' asked Manwë, his tone deceptively soft.
'I have a good idea, lord.' Gimli refused to look up from his hands, clasped in front of him. Manwë turned again to Legolas.
'What did you have to do to win?'
'I had to race across Valmar, naked, and place two dozen arrows in as many weathervanes in less than an hour, as marked by the bells.'
Olórin whistled, and Manwë sent him an ósanwë message equivalent to "stop it or you will spend the next twelve ages of Arda cleaning the eyries upon Taniquetil." Olórin's face turned stern, as befitting the gravity of the scene before him.
'How many arrows did you place before you were stopped?' continued Manwë.
'Twenty one, my lord.' There was both pride and regret in Legolas' voice.
'So you lost.' The Elder King could not hide a smirk from his radiant face.
'Aye, my lord.' Legolas' eyes were decidedly murderous. 'My defeat was no doubt helped by the fact that Lord Gimli alerted one of your Maiar.'
Manwë looked questioningly at the leader of the warriors, who confirmed this point.
'Lord Gimli indeed urged us to contain Lord Legolas. He said he had suffered a relapse of some kind, that we should do something quickly because his life might be in danger due to his malady. He also warned us that he might be difficult to arrest, and he was most right, my lord. Lord Legolas managed to shoot seven of the arrows while we chased after him, none of them a miss. When we cut his escape he fought like a wild cat and we had no choice but to restrain him. And his language was rather, hrmm, vulgar, my lord.'
'Truly?' enquired Manwë with curiosity. 'What did he say?'
The warrior blushed.
'I could not possibly repeat his words, my lord.'
'Try,' commanded the Lord of Arda dryly.
The warrior approached the throne and whispered into his lord's ear. Manwë rose from his chair and stepped towards the prisoner. Legolas saw wrath in his eyes and waited for the bolt of lightning that would send him straight to Bandoth Gwî.
'You dared call me an "old goat"? And swore on my… shrivelled testicles?' Olórin was giggling incontrollably now. Námo had pulled his dark hood over his face.
To his credit, Legolas stood his ground, and pulled himself up as tall as he could.
'I was… upset, my lord,' he spoke blandly. 'I had to win.'
'You had to win?' Why, what was so important about this wager?' cried Manwë, his patience tried to the limit. Oh, this whelp would regret his insolence. He would make him clean the streets of Valmar with his tongue.
'If I won, Gimli would have to fulfil his side of the wager, and I would be a witness. That was the agreement.' Legolas sighed in frustration.
'Well, I must admit you were doing rather well until he intervened,' thundered Manwë. 'Perhaps he should do so. In fact that is my rule, and I will be a witness too. And as for you…'
'No, my lord, I don't think it would be a good idea!' Legolas was pale and trembled, this time in fear. His gweth had positively shrunk. With sudden trepidation Manwë asked the inevitable question.
'What is Gimli's forfeit, Legolas?'
For a few heartbeats the Elf remained silent. He was sending a silent farewell to his father, and a curse to his mortal friends who had landed him in such a predicament.
'He must perform… a liltalavië act of a different kind. He has to do an ax-dance and strip stark naked.' He faltered, but managed to continue. 'In front of two ladies…'
'What ladies?' roared Manwë. A scary suspicion had entered his mind.
Legolas fell to his knees.
'Lady Galadriel and Lady Varda, my lord…'
Chapter End Notes:
liltalavië (Quenya) Dancing dick. Term coined by Darth Fingon.
Bandoth Gwî (Gnomish) More commonly known as Mandos or the Halls of Waiting – see Darth Fingon's Twenty-Two Words You Never Thought Tolkien Would Provide for the word game!
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