1. Three Guys, Some Wine, and a Really Funny Joke
Had anyone passed by the King of Gondor?s private dining room, they might have been concerned for their liege?s sanity. Very seldom did one hear such raucous mirth within the halls of Minas Tirith?s grand palace. It was not that Elessar was a stern man, nor was he considered overly taciturn; he simply did not often have cause to laugh with such wild abandon. On this night, however, the company of two close friends and a bottle of fine wine served to greatly diminish the king?s natural equanimity.
At the moment, Elessar?or Aragorn, as his friends knew him best?was bent over double in his chair, clutching his sides and hiccupping with uncontrollable chuckles. He could barely breathe with the force of his glee. ?A Dwarf?and a tree stump?? he managed to get out, before his words were choked off by another bout of hysterical laughter.
Gimli shook his head and snorted indignantly. ?The Elf needs no encouragement, Aragorn,? he grumped. ?Did you craft that story yourself, Legolas??
Legolas smiled broadly, immensely pleased by the responses his tale had garnered. ?Nay, Master Dwarf,? he answered cheerily, ?it was the work of another. A friend of mine, who would be quite delighted to know that a king of Men found it so amusing. I daresay he would find your reply equally entertaining, Gimli,? the Elf added.
Aragorn drew in a deep breath and swiped away the tears gathered in the corners of his eyes. His expression was still crinkled with merriment, but he had managed to rein in his laughter for the moment. ?I daresay,? he agreed heartily, giving their Dwarven companion a friendly slap on the shoulder. ?Come, Gimli, surely you have a tale or two that may serve as recompense for Legolas? mockeries!?
?It would take far more than two tales to bring us level in the arena of wit,? Legolas remarked loftily, glancing slyly at Gimli and ducking the Dwarf?s retaliatory swipe.
?Prissy Elf,? Gimli growled. ?It so happens that I do have a tale to relate, one that was fashioned specially for you, Legolas, by myself and some of your more agreeable Elven companions.?
Aragorn gave a predatory chuckle. ?Do tell, Master Dwarf!? he insisted cheerfully. ?I should like to see our Elven friend?s ears turn pink!?
Legolas rolled his eyes with as much hauteur as he could muster. ?As though a Dwarf?s crude fable could inspire such chagrin in one such as I.?
Gimli?s dark eyes had taken on a strange gleam. ?We shall see, Master Elf,? he said, taking his wine goblet in hand. And he began to tell the tale:
?There was a Dwarf who died, and because of a clerical error his soul was sent to the Halls of Mandos for a time. There, he saw scores of Elven shades, spirits at repose, and they were all seated along the sides of the expansive corridors. As he looked upon them, the Dwarf noticed that they all seemed rather unhappy, as they kept their eyes downcast, shaking their heads and murmuring beneath their breath.
?The Dwarf was curious as to why the souls of the dead seemed so disturbed, and as he drew near to them he began to make out what some of them were saying. One, a stately Elf with dark locks and a delicate crown, particularly caught the Dwarf?s attention, for he muttered, ?Curse the Dwarves. May all the Dwarves be cursed, I say!?
?The Dwarf was understandably unhappy to hear his race so maligned, and so he asked, ?Good sir, why do you curse the Dwarves??
?The Elven spirit did not look up, but merely replied in a bitter tone, ?I curse them because they were the source of my ruin. 'Twas a Dwarven craftsman who slew me in my own hall, for he and his fellows coveted the necklace and its jewel of great worth, the treasure that I had bidden them to assemble for me.?
?The Dwarf, being a scholarly sort, remembered a tale he had read, and said, ?You must be King Thingol of Doriath, then, he who was slain for the Nauglamír and the Silmaril set into it.?
?The shade nodded unhappily, then returned to muttering, ?Curse all the Dwarves...?
?The Dwarf shrugged and moved on, and presently he came to another specter. This one was also dark of hair, but was more powerfully built. He murmured to himself in this fashion: ?Cursed Balrogs. Curse them all to Udûn!?
?The Dwarf was again curious, and he asked, ?Good sir, why do you curse the Balrogs so??
?As had the first spirit, the shade replied without looking up. ?Why, they were the cause of my downfall, you who questions me! For I returned to the Hither Shores in pursuit of my beloved Jewels, but after a decisive victory against the Enemy, I was slain by a horde of the accursed flame-demons.?
?The Dwarf thought for a long moment, then said, ?Ah, you must be Fëanor son of Finwë, he who made the Silmarilli and brought to the Elves their greatest works and their greatest woes!?
?The shade nodded angrily and returned to his low mantra: ?Cursed Balrogs...?
?The Dwarf then noticed another Elf sitting apart from his fellows. This spirit was golden-haired, and as the Dwarf came near, he could hear the words being mumbled. ?Cursed tree stumps...Valar curse them all!?
?The Dwarf was understandably confused, and asked, ?Good sir, why do you curse tree stumps??
?The Elf did not look up, but gave a heavy sigh and answered, ?I had thought to ward my companions from an Orc attack, oh questioning one, but as I leapt into the fray I was cruelly impaled upon the trunk of a tree in my path.?
?The Dwarf nodded sagely and said, ?Ah, then you must be Prince Legolas, for it is said that he could not tell a tree stump from an Orc if his life depended on it.??
There the tale was ended. Gimli sat back and took a sip of his wine, and waited.
Aragorn threw his head back and howled with laughter. He laughed so forcefully, in fact, that he nearly fell backwards out of his chair. Tears rolled down the King of Gondor?s handsome face. ?Tree stumps!? he piped breathily.
?Aye, tree stumps,? Gimli replied grimly. He held his goblet up in salute to Legolas. ?They seem to be the bane of the evening, do they not, Master Elf??
Legolas did not answer. He seemed to be fighting an internal battle. His eyes were crinkled as though he meant to laugh with Aragorn, but his lips were not cooperating; they hung apart in a most unseemly expression of surprise.
Gimli peered at Legolas consideringly. ?I say, Master Elf, your ears seem to have taken on a fine rosy hue,? he remarked matter-of-factly.
Aragorn fell off of his chair. Legolas glared most irritably. Gimli smiled with contentment. And the palace servants within hearing distance decided that their king had most certainly taken leave of his senses.
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.