“Remind me again, whose bright idea was this?”
Aerinel glared at the man sitting across from her. Aragorn blinked and tried to look innocent. It didn’t fool Aerinel. Although many years Strider’s junior, her sharp mind could not be easily fooled.
A low chuckle full of mirth made both humans turn. Aragorn glared at the elf sitting above them. “And who said you had no part to play in this mess? If I remember correctly, it was your idea to hide in a tree! A tree! Of all places! You know how I feel about hiding in trees!”
Legolas grinned down from the branch he was perched on, thankful that he was out of Aragorn’s reach. “My dear human, if we had not hidden in this tree, we would have been served up as orc food.”
Aerinel snorted. The elf prince fixed his keen blue eyes on her. “Do not snort, young lady! It is just as much your fault as ours.”
Aerinel blinked. “My fault? What did I do?”
Aragorn whacked the side of her head lightly. “Keep your voice down unless you want to have another run-in with the orcs.”
Aerinel scowled at the ranger. “I still don’t see how it is my fault.”
Above her, the blond elf rolled his eyes. “Aerinel need I remind you that you were the one that ran off into the forest even though I warned you not to and stumbled straight into the orc encampment?” Legolas leaned down and pulled Aerinel’s ear gently. “You were lucky I managed to catch you before you got caught, young one!
Aerinel scowled and bowed her head. Legolas laughed at her, but in a kindly manner. “Never mind that now; we have other important things to worry about at the present.”
“Yeah, like being stuck up a tree surrounded by orcs, how fun,” Aragorn grumbled sarcastically under his breath, shooting a pointed glare at the elf prince on the branch above.
Legolas raised one elegant eyebrow in response. “And what would you have me do? Jump down and defeat them all single-handedly willy nilly just like that?”
Aragorn glowered and muttered about ‘pointy-eared prissy elvish princes.
“Indeed?” Legolas asked in all seriousness, but Aerinel looked up and caught the twinkle of mirth in his blue eyes. “If that is what I am, pray tell me what I should refer to you as? Perhaps a filthy, stubborn, human with no hygiene sense whatsoever?”
Aerinel almost chocked. In a valiant effort to keep quiet she hid her face in the arms, her shoulders shaking.
Aragorn glared at Legolas. “Be thankful you are where you are, elf! And you,” he turned to his cousin. “Shut up or I’ll feed you to the orcs personally!”
“Oh I am, very thankful indeed.” Legolas smirked as Aerinel looked up, laughter still dancing in her eyes despite the danger near at hand.
Taking several deep breaths to try and calm herself, the young girl scanned the area around the tree they were hiding in. Shadows were beginning to grow on the ground as the sun dipped. “Well,” she said, glancing between Legolas and Aragorn. “What happens now?”