1. Elven Legends
Taking the twins to the forests of Mirkwood to learn woodcraft had seemed a good idea to Lord Elrond a few short weeks ago but now the Noldorin Elf was exhausted. Watching his two competitive, active Elflings as they fought over who could identify the most birds, tie the tightest knot, kill the largest spider, or land the tastiest fish had given Elrond a throbbing in his temples even his powers of healing could not ease.
Now, with the sun setting, their supper finished, and the twins arguing over which was the superior weapons master, the Lord of Imladris had reached his limit at last.
"Elladan, Elrohir," he said with barely controlled irritation, "though your skills in woodcraft and weaponry are improving, I have noticed that both of you lack equal skill in the mastery of lore. I will set you a challenge and the one who best displays knowledge of history will be excused from their studies for a week when we return to the Last Homely House."
The twins looked at their father and then each other, simultaneous wicked grins spreading over their features, and Elrond was struck, as always, by the preternatural similitude of his offspring.
"I will go first..." Elladan began, and Elrohir interrupted immediately.
"Why do you get to go first?"
"Because I called 'first' first, and because I'm the oldest," Elladan snapped.
"You can't call first and you're only oldest by three and a half minutes," Elrohir said peevishly. "Ada gets to say who goes first, right Ada?"
Both looked at Elrond and he suppressed a sigh of frustration. Choosing between them was always a no-win situation but since Elrohir was forcing him to make a decision...
"Elladan, you go first, then you, Elrohir, all right? The next challenge I set, Elrohir will go first."
Having settled the matter to neither twin's satisfaction, as was usual in these situations, Elrond sat on the ground to listen as Elladan rose to tell his tale.
"There was these two Elves, see," he began, and Elrond cringed but managed to hold his tongue. "And they were boyfriend and girlfriend. Well the boy wanted to go into the woods to make out..."
Elrond could not let this slide. "Elladan, what kind of story is this?"
Elladan stopped and looked at his father innocently, "It's a scary story."
Elrond smiled to himself but did not let Elladan see his amusement. Perhaps at their age a story about "making out" was scary indeed. Still, he was unsure the direction the tale would take. "Very well, just keep the details within the bounds of prudence, all right?"
"Prudence? I think that was the girl's name," Elladan said brightly.
Elrohir snickered and Elrond rubbed his temples with his long fingers as the throbbing suddenly returned.
"What?" Elladan said innocently.
Elrohir opened his mouth to speak but Elrond cut in quickly to head off disaster.
Elrohir looked disappointed and Elladan, oblivious to his brother's reaction, went on.
"So anyway, the girl didn't want to go because she heard there was an Orc who lived in the woods. He was a loner 'cause he'd got his hand cut off in a fight and you know how Orcs will kill their injured, so he had gone off on his own. He found a blacksmith and had him replace his missing hand with a hook."
"If he had gone off on his own, into the woods, where did he find a blacksmith?" Elrond had to ask.
Elladan looked a bit crestfallen but Elrohir quickly came to his aid.
"Maybe he stopped by a village on his way to the woods, maybe he snuck into the smithy at night and woke up the blacksmith and threatened to kill him and his whole family if he didn't make him a hook!" he said excitedly.
Elrond wasn't certain when he'd lost control of the situation but when he saw the twins look at him expectantly he closed his mouth firmly and nodded.
Elladan exhaled in relief and picked up the thread. "So the girl was afraid 'cause the Orc lived in the woods and he'd kill anything he could find and eat it: rabbits, people, Elves. And he'd skewer them on his hook and roast them over the fire."
Elrohir shuddered at the thought and Elrond just shook his head wearily.
"Just the week before, this Orc had killed seven Elves and everyone was afraid to go into that part of the woods but that's why the boy wanted to go, 'cause he knew no one else would be around. He took his sword and told the girl he'd protect her and they went off on his horse. They stopped in a little clearing and the boy was trying to get the girl to relax but she was real nervous. A twig snapped and she jumped and started to cry, but then a rabbit hopped by and she felt kind of silly.
The boy started to kiss her but it was getting dark and she just kept thinking every noise she heard was the Orc. Finally the boy got mad and said, 'If you're gonna be that way, let's just go!' He was real mad 'cause the girl just kept being nervous and wouldn't do anything.
So they got on the horse and the boy kicked it into a gallop and the horse kind of reared up and bolted. The horse was going so fast that the boy had trouble controlling it but they finally got back home safe. He left the girl to go to her parents and he took the horse to the stable. When he was walking it, he noticed the horse was snorting and stamping around. He got it to the stable and went to the other side to take the saddle off and that's when he saw it..."
Elladan paused for effect and both Elrohir and Elrond were leaning forward in anticipation.
"There was a nasty gash on the horse's hindquarter and a big iron hook with the bloody stump of an Orc's arm was stuck in the back of the saddle."
Just at that moment the wind whipped through the camp, making the tree branches crackle and groan. Elrohir gasped and looked around quickly. He looked back to Elladan to see his twin looking at him smugly.
Elrond frowned at Elladan.
"And just where is this incident supposed to have happened?" he asked.
Elladan shrugged. "Here in Mirkwood, just about a mile from here I think."
Elrohir looked nervous and Elrond placed a hand on his shoulder to comfort him. The elfling jumped and Elrond removed his hand and glared at Elladan.
"And in what history did you read about this?" Elrond demanded.
Elladan blushed and mumbled, "I didn't exactly *read* it."
Elrond started to speak again but Elrohir, having recovered, broke in, "My turn, right Ada? Now it's my turn."
"Very well," Elrond sighed. "Perhaps you have a story a bit less... lurid, and a bit more historical." he said. The Elf Lord got up and added a few more sticks to the fire, then he and Elladan sat down together to listen to Elrohir's tale.
"My story is about the palantari," Elrohir began proudly, and Elrond nodded his approval. At last, a tale of lore with which he was familiar. He settled in to listen.
"When one of the stones resided at Osgiliath there was maiden who was caring for Isildur's children. She had put the children to bed and was wandering through the great hall when she looked upon the seeing stone. She saw that it glowed with a strange light, so she moved closer. As she looked into it, she saw the face of a man she had not seen before. He was rough looking and had a scar on his face and a patch over one eye. The man said, "Have you checked the children?"
The maiden was afraid and she said, 'Who are you? What do you want?'
The man in the stone said again, 'Have you checked the children?'
She was so frightened by now that she fled the room and called upon a guard. She told him what she had seen and the guard went in and looked at the stone. The stone was dark now and the guard thought she must be making it up, but he said he would go check. The guard left and the girl waited. For a long time nothing happened and the guard didn't come back.
The maiden saw the stone was glowing again, and even though she was scared she had to look. So she went over and looked into the stone and the man was in there again and he was grinning this weird grin and he said, 'Have you checked the children?'
The maiden was terrified. She cried, 'Who are you? What do you want?' and the stone went dark again.
She thought about going to check, but the guard still hadn't come back and she was afraid. So she told another guard about what she had seen and about the first guard going to check on the children. The guard said he would go to look at the children and to find out what had happened to the other guy and he left.
The maiden went back in to look at the stone and after a few moments, the stone started to glow again. She didn't want to look this time but she couldn't help it so she looked in. When she did, the face of the guard who had just left appeared and he said, 'Raise the alarm, the man is in the castle!'
She was so scared she ran out of the hall, screaming for the guards. Suddenly, the man with the eye patch, the one she had seen in the stone, was standing in front of her with a dagger in his hand. He leapt at her and she screamed and turned to run. There was a thud and a gurgling sound behind her but she didn't look back. Hysterical, she ran back to the hall but someone grabbed her from behind. The man turned her around and she was screaming and struggling but then she saw it was one of the guards.
When they finally calmed her down, they told her the man had been in the children's room getting ready to kill them when the first guard had come upon him. The man, an escaped criminal from Minas Tirith, killed the guard and was trying to lure her upstairs to kill her too. Just as he again got ready to kill the children, he heard the second guard coming and since he wasn't sure how many guards might be with him this time, the man ran away."
Elladan whistled softly, clearly impressed by the tale, while Elrond's expression showed him to be considerably less so.
After a brief pause, Elrond rose and looked at both twins sternly. "I ask for you to demonstrate to me what you have learned from your studies and you tell these outlandish tales? You are sons of the Loremaster of Imladris, for Eru's sake. I demand to know where you have heard these stories, which clearly have no basis in fact or lore!"
The twins looked at each other, an unspoken communication passing between them, before Elrohir finally offered, "Master Erestor told them to us and he said every word was true."
Elrond closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose between trembling fingers. His headache had just gotten exceedingly worse.
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.