Lessons of Life

How to Dim a Too-Bright Elf

by Elwing-(V)
November 9, 2006

Stories > Lessons of Life Series > Previous Story " The Best Medicine" > "How to Dim a Too-Bright Elf" > Next story "A Friend in Need"

The Fellowship had traveled several days beyond familiar territory, the terrain becoming less concealing and more dangerous to all. Despite the travelers’ great care, a few enemies were able to slip up on them during the dark, though luckily these foes were overconfident. The attackers were quickly dispatched with minor damage to their would-be prey; yet even when survivors’ bodies came through relatively unmarred, nerves remained frazzled long after a fight ended.  Three such skirmishes later, the Fellowship found it difficult to rest easy at camp in yet another near-barren area under a hazy waning moon; for the protection of all, no foe-attracting fire was allowed. Settling the others as best they could, Gandalf and Aragorn drew aside to privately discuss the whys of recent happenings and ways of future prevention.  

Legolas was perturbed to note several furtive glances directed his way during the discussion. I politely move far enough away so as not to overhear them, and this is the gratitude I get…they are surely talking about ME. His fingers twisted thin strands of golden hair in a nervous twitch as he wondered why he would be the subject of their conversation. Just as his patience neared its end, the wizard and Ranger separated. The elf’s unease was not lessened by the way Gandalf  avoided looking his way as meanwhile Aragorn moved purposely toward him. 

“Come with me,” the man quietly ordered as he strode past his gaping friend and out of camp. Taking a swift reconnoiter of the campers, Legolas saw the wizard engaging the others’ attention away from the small drama happening nearby. The elf narrowed his eyes, ire rising, and turned to follow Aragorn. That scruffy human will divulge what is going on, else I threaten to locate one tall tree or overhang from which to fling him. He soon caught up with the man and the two continued in silence until reaching a stream passed previously.         

 Legolas watched in increasing puzzlement as Aragorn knelt on the broad dirt bank and scooped his hands repeatedly in the clean, chill water. The man smiled up at the watching elf and motioned for him to join in. Legolas gave a wry return smile before ambling over and settling himself opposite his friend. “If that is your idea of bathing, you are in desperate need of a lesson in the real thing.” The elf rather enjoyed the prospect of a refreshing dip and discarded his weapons in anticipation, but was stayed in his actions at that point.

 “Nay, prissy elf, that is not the purpose of our retreat. I need to inform you of a decision Gandalf and I have made that concerns you.” Aragorn broke his gaze with Legolas and, either unnerved or embarrassed at the forthcoming disclosure, was making abstract designs in the now-wet dirt between the two beings.

 Legolas blinked in surprise. So he reveals the secret freely…why do I suddenly prefer continued ignorance? His anxiety grew as Aragorn’s tale was told.

 “Your Elven sight and hearing are exceptionally valuable to our company, as are your skills with bow and knives. And of us all, you are the one least likely to be tracked, in conventional ways at least…yet Gandalf and I have concluded you may be most responsible for attracting, um, trouble, by your, well, glow.” The Ranger gave an apologetic shrug at his friend’s shock. “We realize it is a natural state for your kind, and that even though you can suppress it, it takes some effort of will to do so, effort that may need focus in other direction during our journey.” He paused as Legolas glanced to his watery reflection, dancing brightly in the flowing stream.

 It is true I do not think of this aspect overmuch, and normally I would be among other Elves whose shining during wartime is seen as a beacon of hope one to another. He looked back at the quietly waiting Ranger. I am no longer among my kind; now I must discipline myself to look to another Hope. “I shall not fail my duty to the Fellowship; I will make what effort is needed to solve this dilemma, but…I may require some help.”

 Proud of his friend’s trust, Aragorn nodded his willingness and revealed more of the earlier discussion. “Gandalf spoke of a spell he could cast that would greatly diminish the glow so you would not have to spare your concentration on doing so.” If he had thought that would relieve the elf, he was greatly mistaken.

 Legolas gave a horrified gasp and gulped. I trust Mithrandir, yet the wizard can be a bit overzealous at times…he might extinguish me altogether!  He turned a piteous gaze on the man and pleaded, “Please not that. To render me so unnaturally might mute Arda’s song to me…I should be of little worth to anyone if so dulled and deafened.”

 “Nay!” Aragorn hastened to soothe the fretting elf. “Tis your spirit that shines, and I would not have that squelched - to make you so bereft would wound us all as much as any weapon.” As Legolas relaxed, the Ranger flashed a quick grin. “Instead, we agreed to follow a plan of my devising.” He turned his attention back to the ground, vigorously swirling his hands in a slick layer of mud.

 Legolas eyed the man suspiciously; though showing traits of a brilliant strategist, many of Aragorn’s previous ‘plans’ were synonymous with ‘pranks’. I think I am not going to like this. “And just what, pray tell, is this ingenious plan your devilish brain has concocted?”

 “Tsk, so cynical at such a tender age.” The Ranger smirked at the elf’s pout. “The answer is obvious; right in front of your face, in fact.” He gestured in the air between them, hovering his hands there as Legolas attempted to solve that riddle.

 Legolas mind whirled, considering then discarding several ideas. After a few moments, realizing the man continued to hold his hands before the elf’s visage, Legolas concentrated on what significance such an action might have. Is he offering something personally? He holds nothing in his hands…‘the hands of the King’…mayhap he refers to the prophecy of the king’s healing hands? Legolas’ thoughts were proving more confusing than helpful as he struggled to make sense of them. Does he mean to ‘heal’ my glow? How? Legolas shook his head to clear it before admitting his confusion to Aragorn. “I’m sorry, but I just don’t understaAAAAHH!”

 The complaint ended in a yelp as two very muddy hands slapped themselves against either side of the elf’s face. The fingers of those hands moved busily, smearing mud across the bridge of Legolas’ nose, his chin, and any other place reachable. “What - are - you - doing? Cease!” He snarled, trying to swat away the offending hands and only succeeding in getting his own coated with the brown muck.

 At a more vigorous attempt to scuttle away, Legolas felt one hand leave his face and latch onto a braid to hold him in place. The two beings were nearly wrestling now, Aragorn ending sitting on the wriggling elf. A string of Elven curses colored the air, as well as bringing a blush to the man, who chose to ignore Legolas’ highly inventive ‘suggestions’. I had thought either of my fostering-brothers to be Master in the art of insult, but now I think the Prince has won that title. “This would be over much sooner if you’d only hold still.” The man panted at his outraged friend, whose golden hair was being transformed. Quickly finishing, the Ranger backed off, waiting in some trepidation as the elf sat up and gave a soft wail at his now muddy-brown tresses and skin.

 “Look at me!” Legolas turned a fierce glare on Aragorn and was further aggravated to see a satisfied look on the man’s face.

 “I am, and you should look at yourself now too. Seek your reflection in the stream there.” He saw the elf tense at the mention of the water, and grasped at a shoulder before Legolas could plunge in. “Please, only look.”

 Something in the tone of the plea gave Legolas’ pause. Nodding tersely, he leaned cautiously over and peered in, huffing grumpily at the sight that greeted him. Were it not for a small glimmer of my eyes, I could not distinguish my form from the dark that surrounds me. A second later, the meaning of what he saw and thought hit him. He straightened, casting his senses outward, a slow smile of amazement spreading across his face. Estel’s plan truly worked - I am nigh invisible, yet without distracting effort on my part, or sacrifice of any note of the Song to my ears. Noticing the man’s close attention, the elf quickly erased his grin. I may have to concede its effectiveness, but I must never allow him to think I approve of this treatment.

 “Fine,” he intoned stonily. “You have made your point. I will go along with this ‘plan’ with the understanding that you constantly try to formulate a better one to replace it.”

 “Absolutely!” Aragorn hastened to assure his friend, vastly relieved at the elf’s compliance. “And meanwhile, I can take steps to see that you are not the only one in ‘disguise’ for the duration.” In an attempt to lighten Legolas’ mood, the man promptly smeared trails of mud on his own face. “There…how do I look?”

 Legolas studied intently, then sneered, “Normal, filthy human. A disguise for you would be ‘clean and neatly attired’.” His grin returned as Aragorn took a turn to pout. When the man stood, holding out a beckoning hand, Legolas sighed in resignation and took the assist to rise. After gathering his weapons, however, the elf hesitated to start back.

 “We should return soon, lest the others think we have yet again summoned trouble to us.” Surprised at the lack of a retort, the Ranger turned to find the elf staring again at the flowing waters of the river.

 “I suppose I may stand watch for the entire night, since I am…‘prepared’ for it, and do not need sleep anyway.” Knowing his friend would argue that all would take watch turns as usual, he reluctantly added, “I would rather not be seen thus; I shall be teased mercilessly.”

 “Nay, you will not be,” Aragorn vowed adamantly, having a care for the elf’s pride. “While we have been absent, Gandalf has informed the others of the sacrifice you make for their behalf, and none shall dare make light of it.” As the two began their stroll back to camp, the Ranger grimaced as a thought occurred to him. “Of course, that may not prevent seemingly endless questions from the hobbits, though I am certain they mean no offence.”

 Legolas chuckled. “No offence shall be taken of their curiosity. Their eagerness to learn is refreshing.” His light mood briefly darkened. “But if that dwarf looses a single insult from his cavernous mouth, I shall slice out his tongue and stuff it in his pipe for him to smoke!”

 Mayhap I should strive to hide Legolas’ knives for a time. “I will make certain Gimli keeps a civil tongue.” Hearing low voices ahead, Aragorn halted their progress. “Allow me to go ahead and be sure each person is fully apprised of the situation. I shall call you when all are ready.” At a nod of agreement from his friend, the man hurried away towards their waiting companions. 

Legolas glanced up at the few stars sparkling between the heavy clouds. Elbereth, the things I endure for this mortal…yet I bear no regret claiming him ‘heart-brother’. Still, would be prudent to strongly remind the devious human of his obligations to that honor. Hearing his name, the elf took a deep calming breath; holding his muddy head high, he walked steadfast toward his destination, taking much solace that night (and several to follow) in the plotting of exquisite revenge on a certain Ranger.  

END  (sort of…keep going) 

Postscript: Some years later, Elladan and Elrohir learned of the aforementioned ‘mud incident’ (you just know it had to happen!) and in tribute to their dear friend Legolas, the Twins composed the following commemorative song (to the tune “What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor?”):

What do you do with a too-bright Elf Prince?  What do you do with a too-bright Elf Prince?
            What do you do with a too-bright Elf Prince, early in the evening? 

Drag him to the riverbank - muck him up good.  Drag him to the riverbank - muck him up good.
            Drag him to the riverbank - muck him up good, for to pass the night safe. 

What do you do with a muddy Wood Elf?  What do you do with a muddy Wood Elf?
            What do you do with a muddy Wood Elf, on throughout the dark night? 

Take him back to camp to let his friends view.  Take him back to camp to let his friends view.
            Take him back to camp to let his friends view, gather ‘round and tease him. 

What do you do with a grumpy Mud Elf?  What do you do with a grumpy Mud Elf?
            What do you do with a grumpy Mud Elf, when next day comes dawning?

Toss him in the river and let him clean off.  Toss him in the river and let him clean off.
            Toss him in the river and let him clean off, then RUN like Balrogs chase you!

END  (really!)

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