8. Grey-Leaf Green-Tree Silver-Pilgrim
T. A. 3019
Celeborn and Legolas took their ease, on a large talan not far from the Hall of Welcome. Both Elves sipped spiced wine from fine glasses. They discussed small matters for a few minutes; the comings and goings of some in Thranduil's realm who were known to Celeborn, and vice versa.
Mithrandir sat a polite distance away, with his back to the Elves. Unfortunately the wizard was smoking his blasted pipe. Again.
Can he not find another place? Celeborn thought in mild annoyance. This talan is one of our finest, but it is not as though we suffer a shortage!
The older Elf announced in an Iathren so pure it could have come from the mouth of Thingol, "Let us play a game, Prince!"
Legolas' look of surprise was priceless, but he recovered quickly, understanding. He replied in the same dialect. "Certainly!"
Mithrandir did not stir, having heard nothing remarkable in the words.
Celeborn switched to the language of Oropher's court, Iathren Sindarin flavored with an old variant of Silvan. "How fares Queen Amrun?"
Legolas smiled at the mention of his beloved grandmother, widow of Oropher. A maternal cousin of Nimloth, she had been well known to Celeborn in her youth, and the two had been friends.
He replied in the dialect of the high-born Nando Amrun had been and still, at heart, was. "As well as ever. I will convey your regards to her - she will appreciate them!" If I ever return, that is.
Mithrandir smoked contentedly, having paused only briefly to refill his pipe.
Celeborn, concerned at his distant cousin's unspoken fear, reassured him - "If my foresight has not failed me, you will see Amrun again, Prince." - in a rather lower form of Nandorin, still spoken in Thranduil's woods, mostly by servants and farmers.
Legolas, eyes brimming with amusement, replied in rapidfire Greenwood Avarin, the native tongue of his mother. "She misses Oropher, of course, but she remains for the rest of us, and is content enough, I believe."
Celeborn had a bit of trouble understanding, but only a little - he had been to the Greenwood many times in the early Second Age, when the current Queen, Thranduil's wife, had been young. But he was not about to bow to this young upstart. And besides, Mithrandir sat stock still, his pipe smoldering in his gnarled hands.
So he replied in a mix of Telerin, Vanyarin, and Quenya, imitating Galadriel's speech as it was when she was thoroughly drunk. A rare enough occasion, the last time being at the end of the feast following Celebrian's wedding. That had been a night to remember!
"Just as I remain for the sake of my Lady and all who dwell in these woods. And, truth be told, if Amrun is as she was in her youth, she is no more likely to sail than I am."
Legolas had to repeat the words slowly in his mind. The Telerin Celeborn had spoken was little different from ancient Sindarin, and he had been well educated in Quenya, but he knew no one besides Glorfindel and Gildor who spoke Vanyarin regularly, and they did it mostly to amuse themselves and confuse others. Fortunately he had been their victim often enough to piece the garbled sentence together. It actually helped that Celeborn had pretended to have had far too much wine. Ah, the many languages of the Quendi, all the same when we're drunk! But I am not as simple as you think, old fellow.
So he alternated between the cadences of merry Galion and somber Elrond. "Pop's nan will praise stale spider dung to Heaven before she'll exit the Wood. And since she won't even dip her toe in the River, I can't see her on a great-boat."
All this was delivered in very-current Greenwood slang that his own father would have been hard put to decipher, but with the accent of a small band of Avari that had come to Thranduil's realm a mere five hundred years back. For good measure Legolas mixed in just a bit of Sam Gamgee's patois and added "You old folks won't never change!" Checkmate, Silver Tree.
Celeborn had understood exactly one word of Legolas' reply: "Wood". But the game had been won. Mithrandir's pipe had gone out!
A/N: Legolas don't f around with the flim-flam. After writing this story, I went out for a smoke. Thanks to Darth Fingon for a linguistic correction.