It took the better part of three hours, but eventually, the makeshift bow was ready. Legolas laughed delightedly as he produced it with a flourish, enjoying the appreciation on Esendri's face. Sure, it needed a lot more work before it could be used for anything resembling a real hunt, but this would serve its purpose well enough. He sheathed his knife, and rose from his perch.
"Your expert opinion, Master Esendri?" he said, proffering the bow to Esendri with both hands.
Playing along, Esendri took over the bow, pretending to examine it before testing it.
"Ai, it is supple and light, although a bit of work is needed to its handling. Nevertheless, a fine piece of work, if I should say!" he said, causing them both to burst into laughter.
"Now that we have our weapons, let us proceed with the Orc hunt!" Legolas cried, scrambling off the branch and falling to the ground.
Esendri followed suit, screaming at the top of his voice. "Master, you forgot your arrows! What good is a bow without them?"
Having said that, he thrust a bunch of sharpened sticks which he had worked on while Legolas was carving the bow.
"You could have at least made a quiver," Legolas said, trying to juggle the pile he held in his arms, receiving a pink tongue in return.
"Do it yourself!"
Legolas rolled his eyes and threw a mock scowl at Esendri.
"Enough time has been wasted. We have an hour of daylight remaining to reach the site, where we launch our attack!"
"Where are we headed?"
"To hunt an Orc named Lithroleah!"
Esendri squealed in delight, before voicing his approval.
"He said he would be at the spring all day. If we hurry, we might still be able to catch our prey unawares!"
In a flash of an eye, they were off again, filling the forest with their war cries, inexhaustible bundles of energy.
Half an hour later, they crept up on the mentioned site, making as little noise as possible. To their delight, they noted that their friend was lying sprawled on a rock, his eyes closed. Legolas strung his bow and inched closer, making sure that he was well covered by the leaves.
Indicating that Esendri move in from the other side, he inched closer still. Esendri was close enough, he took aim, and let go. The arrow whizzed through the air and landed right smack in Lithroleah's stomach.
War shouts filled the air as the two jumped down onto the awakened and enraged figure, shouting as they hit him.
"Kill the Orc!" Legolas cried, using his sheathed knife and pretending to stab at his friend.
Lithroleah had leapt up in shock, but was ready for battle, as thirty years of training took over. Crying out in anger, he managed a few good hits to his attackers.
"Daro!" The trio were so caught up in their fight that they did not realise they had company. The fight was forgotten, as all three whipped around, Legolas clasping an eye that had already started to blacken.
"Pray tell what is going on, Lithroleah?" The speaker dropped out of the trees, revealing herself to be an girl of not older than twenty. Her silvery-golden hair was waist-long, and a crown of flowers was fastened on her head. There was an air of poise and elegance about her even at such a young age. A disapproving frown was fixed upon her face as she beheld the three combatants.
"I was attacked by these two while I lay here!" Lithroleah said.
Legolas did a double-take when he saw the girl. For the first time in his life, no cheerful retort escaped him as he stood there, clutching at his eye, aware of what a sight he must look, his clothes scratched from running through the trees.
"And who may you be?" Esendri said, unimpressed. He threw a look at Legolas, and elbowed him hard in the ribs upon seeing his stupefied expression.
"It should be a question I should be asking you, for seldom do two rats descend from the trees and attack a resting Elf!" said the girl.
"That is enough, Caeriel!" a fifth voice said.
Recognition dawned on Legolas and Esendri's faces, which was followed by joy.
"Milinral!" they cried, running up and embracing him.
"Up to your little tricks again!" Milinral ruffled their heads, grinning at their appearance. "I should think your father might not be pleased to see you presently!"
Legolas scowled at the mention. He would get such a tongue-lashing had Thranduil chanced upon him! Even then, he was not worried about Milinral telling on them, for the recluse seemed almost happy to see Legolas disobeying his father, although he always tried hard to hide it.
"Come, Caeriel. This is Legolas, son of King Thranduil, and Esendri, his friend," Milinral said to Caeriel, who curtsied sweetly at the introduction. "Caeriel is my niece, who is to live with me."
Legolas and Esendri bowed, raising their hands to their chests, their training in court-etiquette taking over.
"It is with pleasure that we welcome you to Eryn Galen," Legolas managed to blurt out, unable to speak again.
Esendri, however, was having none of this. He sniffed, but remained silent.
"You are a prince?" Caeriel said, unable to fathom how the King's younger son could be so incongruous with her impressions of princes from tales regaled to her.
"He is more of a pauper in his sorry state!" Lithroleah said.
To their surprise, Legolas did not answer back, but instead coloured under her scrutiny.
Milinral smiled at the young ones gathered before him, knowing for sure that Legolas and Esendri were out without Thranduil's knowledge or permission.
"Why do you not spend the night with them, Caeriel, for you must be tired of keeping an old one such as myself company constantly?"
All four pairs of eyes widened, although the emotions in each were worlds apart.
Seeing no outright objections, Milinral said. "Very well, since you are all agreeable, I shall continue on my way!" He winked and departed.
"What is going on?" Lithroleah demanded, turning onto the riotous pair. "Should you not be in the palace studying, my fair Prince?"
Legolas gathered himself together with a gargantuan effort, and scowled at him. "Ask no questions of me, Orc!" he said, squealing in delight and jumping aside as Lithroleah took a wild swipe at him.
He continued jumping from one foot to the other while he ducked behind a tree-trunk, taunting remarks escaping his lips as Lithroleah tried to get at him.
"We shall not return to the palace tonight, Lithroleah, for we are old enough to take good care of ourselves, which is more than can be said for you! Mayhap you should return ere your mother come searching for you!" he cried, running farther away from Lithroleah.
Caeriel stared again at Legolas, unable to reconcile his behaviour with his position.
"You are a prince?" she said again.
Her insult caused Esendri to lose his temper.
"Come, Lass, we shall not bother ourselves with icky girls!" he said, before stomping away. "I think it wise to stick to our earlier decision not to have anything to do with girls!"
Legolas and Lithroleah turned around and attempted to pacify the upset pair. Caeriel was trembling with rage, and Legolas ran after Esendri, while Lithroleah tried to calm Caeriel down.
"You are horrible!" she screamed.
Legolas ignored her and caught up with Esendri.
"That was not very nice," he said.
Esendri's eyes nearly popped out of his head.
"You were the one who decided we were not to have anything to do with girls, for they are smelly!"
"I know! But Caeriel is different, Milinral put her under our care."
It was enough to make Esendri calm down, and he thought, long and hard, before speaking again.
"What do you plan to do now we have to bring her around?" he said. "Girls are tiresome, and I do not wish to listen to her complaints and insults all day long!"
"We should try to make her see sense," Legolas said.
"A girl see sense? That is about as likely as we are to encounter a friendly Orc!" Esendri snorted. "Honestly Legolas, I do not understand what is wrong with you today!"
Legolas blushed again, muttering something unintelligible under his breath, before pretending not to hear what Esendri just said. Flashing a cheeky smile at his friend, he cocked his eyebrow, as if indicating they return. Esendri had no choice but to follow.
Returning to the others, Legolas saw that Caeriel was thankfully not crying, and was instead picking at her dress. He breathed a huge sigh of relief, for nothing scared him more than the tears of another.
Caeriel shot the young pair a dirty look as they returned, but held her tongue.
"Caeriel, Esendri wishes to apologise for his earlier rudeness," Legolas said, ignoring the look of pure venom thrown at him,.
Seeing how there was no way out of it, Esendri fixed his sullen eyes on the ground and muttered, "Sorry."
For a moment it seemed as if Caeriel was about to rebut his apology, but she replied icily, "Your apology is accepted."
Esendri almost exploded again at her tone.
"What are your plans then, tithen ernil?" Lithroleah said, eager to diffuse the tension.
At the thought of more adventure, Legolas perked up and started to get excited again.
"Esendri and I were planning to spend the night under the stars. The Eastern edge of the forest is but over a couple of hours away, and we discovered a plateau there which will be a perfect campsite!" Legolas said, beaming with excitement. Even Caeriel too was showing some form of interest, although she was trying hard to appear nonchalant and aloof.
"Would you come along, Lithroleah?" Legolas said.
"I do not know, Legolas," Lithroleah said, scrunching up his face as he thought through the possibilities. "It does sound like a most pleasant prospect."
"Then we shall not tarry!" Legolas cried, starting to push an annoyed Esendri along away from the spring. "Come! Our adventure awaits!"
Lithroleah hung behind, undecided as to what to do. "My mother is expecting me home for dinner. She would be worried."
Legolas rolled his eyes. "Surely you will not be missed too badly? It is not the first time you have spent the night out!"
"Mayhap you should be thinking of your mother, Legolas," Esendri said.
A wave of guilt swept over Legolas. He knew that his mother would be upset at his not returning for the night. He was close to his mother and hated to upset her. Yet he dismissed his worries to the back of his head as the thought of having fun had taken root.
"Nana must be used to my disappearances by now, and have I not always managed to return unscathed?" he said, knowing that his argument was leaky. Sure, he did disappear for hours on end, but this would be the first time he had failed to return home for the night.
"If you call breaking your bones about, oh, twenty times, by means of falling off horses, dropping out of trees, fights with wild boars, and a near drowning unscathed, I do not see why we should not proceed with this!" Esendri said, citing his irrepressible appetite for one life-threatening injury or another.
"I always seem to attract trouble," Legolas said to Caeriel's wide-eyed stare, before herding Esendri away.
Sindarin Translations: daro - stop tithen ernil - little prince nana - mummy
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.