Legolas had stayed in Imladris for a couple of weeks and he was getting used to the differences between the culture of this predominantly Noldorin community and the silvan he had grown up within. The whole messy business with Gollum and his escape had left him in a terrible mood and he had blamed himself over and over again. But then again, the creature had been so very pitiful and he hadn't been able to keep the poor thing locked up in the dark dungeons. His own softness had been the thing to blame and he would never forget the words his father had spoken afterwards.
He shook his head and sighed, there was to be a council meeting, representatives of all the races were to be there and he wasn't looking forward to it. The only thing he did enjoy of his stay there was the good food, the good wine and the excellent bathhouse. Too bad he wasn't able to be alone there, he was always surrounded by many others. He hadn't known there were this many inhabitants in Imladris. At the moment he was sitting in one of the pools submerged to his shoulders and relaxing, he somehow knew that there would be hardships to come and he had no idea of how they were to solve the problem, but Elrond would most certainly come up with an answer.
He had spoken to Aragorn and Elladan and Elrohir too and none of them had blamed him, that made him feel a little bit better. He looked up, a tall ellon with long dark hair entered the bath and Legolas recognized him as Elrond's counsellor Erestor. He was a rather stern and strict ellon with a stone face and a rigid posture and Legolas had to hide a smirk. His father always claimed that some noldor acted as if they had a stick shoved up their back passage and this one did fit that description rather well. Erestor entered the pool and sighed with relief, he stretched himself and Legolas was shocked to hear a creaking sound. Was the counsellor really that tense? He had an important job for sure and it was probably stressing but Legolas had never met an elf who were so tense he was making sounds like that.
Erestor threw a swift glance at the prince, his eyes were tired and a bit glassy and Legolas started to feel a bit worried. Was something wrong with Erestor? He looked downright fatigued? Erestor sighed and closed his eyes, there was a haunted expression on his face and he groaned as he swung his head back and forth, eliciting even more creaking sounds from his neck and shoulders. Had he perhaps been wounded? Legolas knew that Erestor was rather old, he had fought with the last alliance and he could of course have received horrific injuries during that war. Erestor opened his eyes and made an almost sarcastic grin. "I see you wonder? Let me tell you one thing young prince, living in Imladris is sometimes like living in a goddamn warzone."
Legolas frowned. "What? But…this place is peaceful? Protected!"
Erestor shook his head with dark eyes and a grim expression upon his face. "Oh no it isn't, I feel like a fat mouse locked into a barrel full of cats!"
Legolas was shocked by the tired and dark tone in the counsellors voice and he started to feel worried indeed. Were there hidden dangers in this peaceful city? Erestor sighed and closed his eyes. "You know, this place was almost paradise for a while, it was such peace here, such tranquility. Oh how I miss those days!"
Legolas cocked his head. "My lord, I am not sure I do understand?"
Erestor rolled his eyes. "Sure you don't. You haven't had to spend the last millennia with those two…monsters!"
Legolas was not sure if he wanted to stay there any longer, he was seriously confused and a bit nervous too. The counsellor was obviously in a rather fragile state of mind and Legolas didn't want to witness a break down, he wouldn't know what to do! "Monsters?!"
Erestor growled. "Oh yes, monsters! And I am their favorite prey, I cannot even start to count the many times they have done some horrible prank and I was their victim. Last week they nailed my slippers to the floor, I fell nose first into my desk when I tried to walk, and the week before that they had poured a terribly irritating powder into my pants, I could barely walk for days. And then we have the time they shaved my head while I was sleeping, and the time when they had the seamstress make all my clothes just a little too small…. Ever since the incident life here has been a life living in fear, I am so glad when they are out on patrol."
Legolas stared at the counsellor, he of course understood what Erestor meant by now, the twins. He knew that they enjoyed making pranks but he had never known that Erestor was the one who suffered the consequences of this. Were the twins really that bad? He remembered that Aragorn had mentioned something called the incident a few times and he had also heard others mentioning this when he thought of it. He was getting curious. He excused himself and watched Erestor just nod his head and float on his back, the nervous expression on his face wasn't gone even now. He dried off and got redressed and now he sought out the twins because he needed to know what this incident was. After all, with so many people speaking of it, it had to have been something rather spectacular and he had always enjoyed hearing of the insane things the twins had done. He found the two sitting in the garden with a bottle of wine and they were discussing some new strategies regarding the orc problem. They both grinned when they saw Legolas. "Greetings mellon, we were just discussing whether or not orc's can be controlled by neutering the males"
Legolas almost choked and had to cough to regain his calm. "What?"
Elladan just smiled. "You know, if there are too many cats we neuter the toms and that solves the problem, no more kittens. And we do the same with other animals so why not try the same with the orcs, after all, they have got to be breeding too considering the increasing numbers?"
Legolas got a mental image that made him cringe, he swallowed and Elrohir offered him a glass of wine, which he accepted with relief. He emptied it with glee and sighed with relief. "Ah, I have no idea if that would work or not, but listen, I was wondering about something?"
Elladan leaned back, he looked both relaxed and at ease and he had obviously been drinking more than just one glass of wine for his speech was a bit slurred. "Alright? What?"
Legolas sat down in a chair, he stared at the two identical ellyn and leaned a bit forward. "I have heard several people mentioning something referred to as "the incident". Care to explain that to me? I am curious"
The twins went beet red, then white and then red again and they stared at each other with a sort of agonized expression. Then Elrohir turned to Legolas and he had a most peculiar look upon his face, it looked almost apologetic. "Oh the incident. Well, let's just say that we prefer not to speak of it, but, you are our friend and I know you are curious and it is better you hear it from us than from someone else."
Legolas was getting even more curious but he also felt guilty, it was obvious that this was something which caused the twins great distress. "Please, if it is a painful memory then don't tell me, really, I don't want to cause you any trouble"
Elladan sighed and he made a grimace. "It is alright, it was a very long time ago, but we have never been allowed to forget it. To our defense we were but elflings and didn't know that what we did could have any bad effects but it was that one time when we really REALLY messed things up, big!"
Legolas saw that the two looked at each other with both a small amount of regret and mirth, Elladan shook his head. "Oh Eru how we messed things up, no wonder the others still speak of it, it could have become a real crisis"
Legolas tilted his head, he had to know now, he just had to! He wouldn't find peace before he was told everything.
Elrohir took a deep breath, then he leaned forth and stared at Legolas. "Listen up, for I will tell this only once! It was in spring, we were twelve and Imladris had visitors, both dwarves and humans and ada was so stressed out trying to please everybody he had little time for us. And so it happened. "
Elladan rolled his eyes. "Yeah, it happened."
Elrohir's eyes got glazed as he dove into his memories, back to a day that he never would be able to forget.
Elrond was busy, he was in the infirmary at the moment, trying to help an elderly adeneth who suffered from constipation. Elrohir had joined him, the tiny elfling sat in a chair, short legs swinging back and forth and he was pouting. The elfling was bored, so very bored. He knew that he wasn't allowed to interrupt his ada when he was working and he ached to do something. Elladan was following Glorfindel who was trying to teach the elfling how to ride but Elladan was way too impatient. The valley was buzzing with activity and Elrond had worked like crazy to ensure that every visitor was happy and content. There were a group of dwarfs there who had come to negotiate a trading treaty and they were of course met with the outmost respect although their odd ways caused more than one raised eyebrow. And then there were humans, some emissaries from Gondor and they too had to be treated like they were royalty, and if that wasn't bad enough even Lothlorien had sent some rather important people to Imladris, some scholars who were to exchange and copy a lot of ancient scrolls. Elrond enjoyed a challenge but this was almost a bit too much, even for him.
Elrohir stared at the old adeneth, he was used to seeing mortals by now and wasn't shocked by the sight of wrinkles and frailty. The woman was the wife of a ranger and she had always been there so Elrohir knew her well. Elrond poured some liquid into a small bottle from a huge one, the liquid had a peculiar pink color and Elrohir got curious. Elrond handed over the small bottle. "Now, two spoons of this each morning, no less, no more, can you remember that?"
The woman nodded and smiled at the beautiful child who by now was looking like a cat trapped in a cage. "Yes my lord, thank you so very much!"
Elrond smiled and dismissed the adeneth, she was the last patient of the day and he was looking forward to relaxing a bit. Elrohir slid from the chair, he was restless and filled with youthful energy, Elrond sometimes wondered where elflings took all the energy from, sometimes he feared that the twins would go bouncing off the walls if they weren't restrained. "Ada, what was that you gave that lady?"
Elrond smiled at his son, the elfling stared at him with huge bright eyes and he ruffled his son's hair. "It was a laxative my son"
Elrohir frowned, he hadn't heard that word before. "What is that ada?"
Elrond felt himself blush a moment, but his policy had always been that truth comes first and being honest with the children when they asked awkward questions were always the best option in the long run. "That is medicine made to…ah…remember that time you had a tummy ache?"
Elrohir nodded, my did he remember, it had been awful. "Yes ada?"
Elrond bent down and smiled. "We gave you an enema remember? That is also a laxative but this is one you swallow, it makes…pooping easier"
The elfling just nodded, pleased to have learned something new, he and his brother were still at the age when such bodily functions are regarded as very funny. Elrond nodded. "Come now, I am sure Elladan and Glorfindel are waiting."
Elrohir saw his father putting the bottle back into a cupboard in the apothecary, there were many bottles there, and jars and boxes and envelopes and other exciting stuff. He knew that cupboard was forbidden ground, he had been told that he wasn't to touch anything within it but that liquid had such a funny color. They left the infirmary and Elrohir ran to meet his brother, Elladan had just finished his riding lesson, the pony was rather irritable, Glorfindel was even more so and he didn't think of it, he dismissed both the boys and told them to go to the dining hall to get something to eat. After all, that was just a few hundred yards away from the training field, they knew the way and Imladris was perfectly safe.
Elladan was hungry and eager to eat but Elrohir stopped him once they got out of Glorfindel's line of view. "Dan, I just saw something awesome!"
Elladan frowned, he was hungry and the cook had promised that they would get some honey cakes, oh honey cakes, he loved honey cakes. "What do you mean awesome?"
Elrohir was jumping up and down. "You have got to see it, come!"
He pulled his brother along towards the infirmary and Elladan looked a bit doubtful. "We are not allowed to go in there without any adults following us?"
Elrohir was almost panting, he was so eager to show his brother this. "Oh but we won't do anything wrong, I'll just show you"
He found a chair and opened the cupboard, climbed up and pulled out the huge bottle containing the laxative. He opened the cork and showed it to Elladan,. "See? Have you ever seen such a nice color?"
Elladan blinked and stared, grasped the bottle and held it.. "Ooh, it is pretty, what is it?"
Elrohir squirmed, "I don't remember, it was a difficult word, but it was like the thing they gave me when I had that stomach ache."
Elladan grinned. "I remember, you cried like a baby"
Elrohir pouted. "Did not!"
Elladan grinned even wider "Did too!"
Elrohir snapped the bottle from his brother but it was heavy and it slipped from his hand and fell to the floor, there was a cracking sound and the two stared at each other in absolute panic. What now? The bottle hadn't broken but it was cracked and some liquid oozed through the cracks. "Oh no, ada will be furious, what are we to do?"
Elladan was thinking fast, he stared at the cupboard. "There , it is another bottle just like this one, quick, we will use that instead, they'll never be able to tell the difference"
Elrohir sniffled and felt awfully guilty, ada would use that voice that always made him cry and naneth would be angry too. Oh what had they done?
Elrohir grasped the other bottle and opened the cork, Elladan quickly started pouring the bright pink liquid into it but suddenly there wasn't room for more. "Ro, there was something in the bottle already, there is still a lot left in this cracked one"
Elrohir corked the now full bottle and put it back on the shelf, the once bright pink fluid had taken on a dirty brown color now and it didn't smell very nice. He found another bottle, a small green one. "Here, see if the rest fits into this one"
Elladan tried, it didn't. They found yet another bottle and poured both the contents of the green one and the cracked one into it, it fit but the bottle was without a cork so they had to pour all the liquid back into a jar they found. Elladan stared at the big bottle they first had used, it was completely full, and it hadn't been full before. "Ro, we have to pour some of that stuff out, or else they'll see that something has been done with it."
Elrohir blinked, he was thinking as hard as he could. "Of course, let's get some of it into….this jar!"
He pulled forth a huge jar that had some sort of oily dark substance in it, it smelled very sweet and nice. "They'll never notice"
Elladan obeyed, he poured from the huge bottle into the jar and made sure that the level of liquid within it was at it had been before they used it to salvage the pink stuff from the broken bottle. Then they also emptied the jar they had used into the jar with the oily substance, just to hide their tracks completely "Now, we'll hide the broken bottle and it will be alright."
Elrohir let out a sigh of relief, ada wouldn't find out, that was great. He had been so afraid. They quickly wiped some drops of liquid off the floor, locked the cupboard and put the chair back in its place before they took the cracked bottle and hid it inside of a barrel of dirty linens. Both elflings left the infirmary quite convinced that this little mishap would have no consequences and they soon forgot all about it. After all, they were children and their span of attention wasn't that long.
Later that day there was an atmosphere of slight panic in the kitchens, there were to be a feast that night and the cooks were sweating and running and desperately trying to get everything finished in time. One of the cooks had been given the task of preparing a dessert, she was mixing the ingredients when she noticed that she had forgotten one important thing, maple syrup. She growled and shouted at her assistant. "Ladan, go to the larder and bring a jar of syrup, chop chop!"
The assistant ran and returned after three minutes with a long face. "My lady, there is nothing left, the other cooks have used it all!"
She gasped, no maple syrup? That was a disaster! "Oh Eru, oh no, are you sure?"
The assistant hung his head. "Yes, not even a drop left."
The cook suddenly got an idea. "Run to the apothecary, I know they keep a jar of syrup there to sweeten medicine. Get it!"
The assistant ran and after a little while he returned with the jar. The cook opened it and frowned, weird, it had a peculiar color, it wasn't supposed to have a slight pinkish tint now was it? And the smell was a bit on the odd side too but it could of course be old. She had to use it anyhow and started making the dessert and soon other cooks also took syrup from the jar. Sugar was really expensive and rare to come by and so the elves used this substance a lot. The one responsible for the wine took two whole gallons of the stuff since the batch of red wine he had ordered had turned out to be very sour and needed sweetening and another elf used it to make candy to decorate the cakes and tables.
Finally it was all finished and done and the cooks and the assistants took a deep and collective breath of relief. They had done their very best, if the guests weren't satisfied well then screw them! They could all relax as the servants responsible for serving at the tables took over the kitchen.
The feast was a lavish one since there were so many important guests assembled and Elrond was proud of his staff who had managed to get everything done and to such perfection. There were beautiful cloths covering the tables, lamps were hung from branches and ropes and the atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant and even the dwarfs showed some manners just for once. Polite conversations were ended when the food was getting served, it was marvelous and tasty and many were praising the cooks for the incredible work. The twins sat by their father and mothers side, wide eyed and in awe of it all. They had never been at a feast before and they had been bathed and groomed and looked both very cute and very well behaved. Elrond was proud of them, they were really good boys, a little tough to handle at times but there was nothing wrong with that, boys would be boys, no matter what race they were off.
The twins ate with glee, they had quite an appetite and their mother would smile and tell them to slow down. They were not allowed to drink wine yet but they had juice instead and they did manage to get their hands on quite a lot of candy. Normally they would never be allowed to eat sweets before bed time, the sugar high that followed the consumption of sweets turned the two into something Elrond compared with a herd of rabid balrogs. But this was a feast, their very first one and they probably wouldn't be able to sleep afterwards anyhow. Celebrian just tried to make sure that they didn't eat so much that they got sick.
The feast lasted for hours, there was singing and dancing and pleasant conversations and everybody were enjoying themselves. Even the dwarfs had a good time and as the wine flowed old prejudice were forgotten and new friendships formed. Glorfindel and one of the dwarfs sat in a corner singing on a very naughty song about an orc, a sheep and some ale and the scholars from Lothlorien had forgotten all about being haughty and strict and were dancing like youngsters. Some of the young warriors were starting to become a bit too rowdy and Elrond turned to Celebrian. "My love. Could you put the two rascals to bed? I don't think this will be a pleasant nor suitable environment much longer"
Celebrian smiled. "Oh of course, come now, it is very late."
Both elflings looked tired by now, their eyelids were drooping and the energy was obviously rather low. "But we don't want to go to bed, we wanna stay!"
Elrond petted them on their heads. "I know sons, but if you don't go to bed now you will feel bad in the morning, and we don't want that now do we?"
They nodded and followed their mother although reluctantly. They had never seen so many different people before and would like to talk to the dwarfs to see if there really was a face behind all that hair but they guessed that they would get the chance the next day. Celebrian put them to bed and was a bit confused. They had so little energy and normally all the sweets would have sent them through the roof but it could off course be all the excitement. The boys fell asleep almost instantly and she frowned. That was peculiar, but welcome, very welcome. She returned to the feast and enjoyed some more hours of merry making before she and Elrond retired for the night.
Elrohir woke up suddenly, he had a weird feeling in his tummy but he didn't really know what it was for he felt so very sleepy. He heard some sounds from his parent's bed room and giggled. He had asked about those sounds before and ada had said that he and naneth made those sounds because they loved each other a lot and were adults. Elrohir had seen them too, once. They had been naked and in bed and sort of rubbing themselves against each other.
Adults did such peculiar things, but hearing it made him feel safe somehow, everything was alright, ada and naneth were there and nothing would hurt him as long as they cared. Elrohir fell asleep again, but his tummy still felt strange, like there were a lot of tiny butterflies within it trying to get out.
Elrond woke up with a start, he had a slight headache but that was to expect, by Eru, he had gotten rather drunk but luckily he wasn't the only one and rather drunk was modest compared with certain others. Dead drunk was the term he would use for some of the party goers, he was glad they had put the elflings to bed early.
He felt a sudden surge of pain shoot through his body and gasped, curled up for a second. What was this? Celebrian lay next to him and she moaned in her sleep and he shook her shoulder gently. It was late in the morning and they shouldn't stay in bed too long. There could be a need for his skills as a healer after such a wild night. He felt another cramp rush through his gut and got a bit worried, what was this? Celebrian yawned and then she groaned. "Elrond, I feel sick!"
He stared at her, she was pale and sweaty and he felt a sense of panic press forth within his mind. "Me too my sweet."
Celebrian was drooling, she sat up and then she ran to the privy and he heard her throw up, Elrond gasped as pain once again rushed through his body, he got onto his feet. "This could be some sort of food poisoning. "
Celebrian gasped. "Oh Eru no"
Then she shrieked. "The elflings!"
Elrond ran to the door to the bedroom where the twins lay and rushed in, both were asleep but there was a strange smell there and Celebrian threw herself down next to them and pulled the covers off them. The source of the smell was obvious, both had soiled themselves and the pants and the sheets and the matrass and everything was smeared with the very stinking substance. Celebrian forgot her own discomfort. "Eru Elrond, what is the matter with them? Why haven't they woken up?!"
Elrond bent down, touched their foreheads, no fever. He stared into their eyes, they were glazed with sleep but normal, no abnormalities when it came to pulse and respiration and no peculiar marks or discoloring of the skin. He swallowed hard. "I think they must have ingested some sort of sleeping medicine"
Celebrian gasped and her eyes were wide with horror. "How?"
Elrond shook the boys, they didn't stir. "I have no idea, but it cannot have been a huge dose, they are so small and their bodies react to medication faster than that of an adult."
Celebrian groaned and grasped her belly. "Oh no, I …I think I am gonna…"
She ran to the privy again and he heard her gasping in pain, his own stomach was aching too but he was larger than Celebrian. If this was some sort of food poisoning then it made sense for it wouldn't affect him that much. But he too suddenly felt an intense urge to use the privy, Celebrian was occupying it and there were no other toilet in the apartment. Elrond had never been one who had problems finding solutions to difficult problems, he grasped a bucket from a closet and it saved him, but only just.
He was sweating all over, his body shuddered and trembled and he felt cold and his stomach was churning and groaning and it hurt, by Eru it hurt. He had never felt anything like that before and the substance that left his body was almost watery, and it stank terribly.
Celebrian was crying and he felt terrified. Were they the only victims of this or where there others? They had no enemies who would try to poison them and if this was some sort of joke then it was the worst one ever! He had to remain sitting on the bucked, his bowels seemed to contain a frightening amount of the foul liquid and Celebrian groaned and wept. "The elflings, we have to do something"
Elrond closed his eyes, panting with discomfort. "They are sleeping, just let them. At least they aren't hurting right now"
Celebrian sighed. "You are right, but we'll have to burn everything in that bed."
Elrond was about to answer when the door flew up and Erestor burst into the room, he was wearing just a dressing gown, he was pale and disheveled and the front of the robe was covered in vomit. He did reek to high heavens. He stopped and stared with eyes the size of dinner plates, the noble lord of Imladris sat on a bucked buck naked and from the privy he could hear the dignified lady groaning and panting. "Elrond? You won't believe this, it is… a nightmare!"
Elrond closed his eyes. "Oh shite!"
Erestor nodded solemnly. "Precisely my lord, shite! The entire valley is… is shitting themselves"
Elrond felt as though he wanted to die right there and then, if lord Nämo shoved up there and then he would follow without question. "Eru's mercy, how bad is it?"
Erestor stared with bulging eyes, then he grasped a flower pot, yanked the flower out and puked into it, violently. When he was able to speak again he just whimpered. "Awful, the privies are stuffed with people, there aren't enough and there are nobody here able to dig latrines. They are all having diarrhea."
Elrond moaned. "The elflings? Are the other elflings here sick?"
Erestor nodded. "They are all asleep, and so are a few of the youngsters too, but they are still sick to the stomach so they have soiled themselves."
Elrond hid his face with his hands, Erestor had seen him naked before but never in such a humiliating situation. "Oh have mercy, what could have caused this? Are everybody sick?"
Erestor gasped and bent over for a moment, his stomach was growling like mad, it sounded like a very pissed off bear or something and he blushed as he farted too, really loud. "I… I don't know my lord, I…haven't really checked."
Elrond pressed his hands to his stomach, it hurt even worse than before. "Go and see if there are anyone who are well, anyone!"
Erestor nodded and spun around, he left but the stench of him didn't leave, it just drowned in the scents already present. Elrond was in tears, their reputation would be utterly ruined now, how could this have happened? It was his responsibility, they would blame him.
Erestor ran as fast as he could towards the hall, but he didn't make it that far. Suddenly his stomach cramped again, violently and he almost shrieked with pain and turned towards the public toilet house in the middle of the square in front of the hall. It was filled with people, elves, men , dwarves too and they were all puking or evacuating their bowels under great pressure or both. Erestor groaned, he had to lean towards the wall, his legs were buckling underneath him. He wouldn't make it, he would soil himself like some elflings, there were no seats not taken. Then he heard a voice from the end of the row of seats. "Here lad, this hole is unoccupied."
Erestor ran, he ran like he had an army of bloodthirsty orcs at his heels and he managed to sit down just in time. His eyes rolled and he groaned like a cow in labor as his bowels emptied themselves violently. He noticed that the one who had told him of the seat was a dwarf, the leader of the delegation. The dwarf sat there with his pants down between his ankles and his shirt pulled up and he was a bit pale and sweaty but didn't look too affected. "Ai lad, ya got it bad I see?"
Erestor just moaned, there he sat, next to a dwarf, a dwarf! While he was more vulnerable than ever before in his life, he moaned again. The dwarf patted him on his back. "There there, tis not so bad, I've ad it worse ya see."
Erestor almost sobbed. "You have? Sweet Eru, that cannot be possible."
The dwarf just grinned and burped, it smelled so stale Erestor had to turn his head around but what he saw made him turn his head back again, there were both elves and men sitting down and doing their business were they stood, in pure desperation. The boxes of pressed sheets of moss used for cleaning one-self were empty and some used their own clothes as wipes. The smell was unbearable.
The dwarf sighed and Erestor heard his belly rumble, it sounded like a far-away rock slide. "Aye, I've ad worse, once my cousin served a mushroom stew and it was stale ya see, and we all shat ourselves that day, aye we did. Tis not bad I'm a tellin ya."
Erestor sighed. "I am glad to hear that, I was afraid you would think we had tried to poison you or something."
The dwarf just laughed. "Nay lad, no hurt feelings, we thought so at first but then we saw ya all running to the privy and we knew then that we all are sick yes. Oh and ye elves are having the worst time of all, even the humans aren't as sick as ya."
Erestor took a look around. The dwarf was right, the humans were not as affected as the elves and the dwarves were least affected by all. But then again, they had stomachs that had to be made of mithril too. A dwarf could digest almost anything and thrive on it. Erestor felt rather relieved that nobody would use this to start a diplomatic disaster, but it was a disaster nonetheless and he felt like weeping. The dwarf looked at him with pity in the deep dark eyes. "Just let it lose laddie, no shame in this, We all have to get rid of some waste ya know."
Erestor couldn't help it, big tears starting falling from his eyes and he sobbed. On the other side of the dwarf one of the gondorian men sat and he leaned forth and sent Erestor a rather pale grin. "And here we thought you elves were such pure and ethereal creatures not even capable of farting but my were we wrong!"
Erestor just gasped as another spasm rushed through his guts. "No, we are flesh and blood, just like you"
The man nodded. "No doubt about that no, I have never witnessed such misery."
Erestor managed to squeeze his face into some sort of smile. "Neither have I believe me"
The dwarf giggled. "Nothing bonds people like a fate shared right?"
The human nodded. "No doubt about that no."
Erestor groaned. "I was to see if anyone is well, and report back to Elrond. But I cannot get off this seat or else I will…"
The dwarf huffed and patted him on his back. "I am sure the lord will understand, how is he by the way?"
Erestor sighed. "The last I saw of him was him sitting on a bucked, his wife on the privy and the twins lay in bed, asleep and.., covered in filth"
The dwarf shook his head. "Da poor poor lads, such sweet little ones they are. But as long as they are sleeping they aren't seeing this."
Erestor nodded. "At least one thing to be thankful of."
There was some disturbance by the door, a tall figure emerged, covered in puke. He was wobbling around and looked absolutely horrible, pale and dark eyed and his hair wet with sweat. Erestor sighed, so not even the Balrog slayer had managed to escape this doom. The gondorian man got off the seat, he sent them a pale grin. "I don't think I will be able to eat again for days, but at least my gut is empty. This seat is unoccupied."
Glorfindel came wobbling and sat down, he looked almost grey and his gaze was flickering. He saw Erestor and groaned and Erestor raised an eyebrow. "Don't your apartment have a private privy?"
Glorfindel looked utterly miserable, he didn't look at anyone, just kept his eyes fixed on the floor. "Yes, but I had…company…and she sort of needed the privy too"
Erestor grinned. "Always the gentle-elf right?"
Glorfindel just moaned and some sounds were heard that made several there raise their heads in astonishment. To see the usually so perfect and controlled Glorfindel in such a state was shocking to say the least, most had expected that he would be unaffected by this malady, that he would be too fabulous and glorious to suffer from such carnal problems. Erestor frowned. "Is there anyone here not sick? Has anyone seen anybody who isn't ill?!"
One of the humans raised a hand. "I have! My man-servant. He has a very rare condition which means he can only eat certain things and so he didn't eat anything last night, nor did he drink anything except milk."
Erestor let out a huge sigh of relief. "Please, for Eru's sake, send him to Elrond, he will know what to do!"
The man called for his servant who looked like he expected the end of the world to be in its first stage, he was a tall and extremely thin and Erestor thought for a moment that he looked like a reed. Erestor told the man the way to Elrond's apartment and the man left immediately, he really wanted to help everybody for he saw the agony many were in and he also understood how utterly humiliating this was for everybody. He ran to the apartment and knocked on the door. Elrond opened the door, he had managed to put on a dressing robe but his stomach was still rebelling and he wasn't able to walk very far. The servant explained why he was there and Elrond let out a huge sigh of relief. He was thinking fast, then he nodded to the man. "Go to the apothecary, there is a huge cupboard there, it is painted green. On the top shelf there is a huge blue bottle, take it and give each person two spoons of it. I just hope it is enough in it. It is a medicine that should stop the stomach problems at least"
The servant nodded. "A huge blue bottle, got it."
He ran and Elrond ran to the bucket again, just in time.
The servant was a very intelligent man and he had a lot of compassion too, he liked helping others and he was very thorough. So he made sure that everybody got two spoons of the nasty goo. It tasted like nothing anybody had ever dared to taste before and it didn't make them feel any better, the taste of puke was almost nice compared with this. But then again, a medicine is supposed to taste terrible to be efficient and if that was true then this stuff ought to solve the problem in a flash.
As it was, it didn't! For about a quarter of an hour everybody sat there waiting for the medicine to help them, but nothing happened. Then things started to happen but not the way they had hoped it would, they started feeling a new kind of pressure within. It started with the humans who suddenly had to burp, and burp again. Then the dwarfs started burping too and some did also barf even more than before. And then the elves were hit by this new torment. It is rare to see an elf burp, or fart , or let out any sort of bodily noises. The humans had all been a little intimidated by these seemingly perfect creatures but now they were able to see them as living things just like themselves and they weren't that nervous any more.
Some of the humans even dared to make some very stupid jokes, just to break the tense atmosphere. And the atmosphere soon became rather thick for burping was being accompanied by sounds coming from the other end.
All had gas, so much gas they felt like balloons and the sounds could be heard from afar. It was impossible to stop it, it was painful and the worst thing about it was the smell. Soon everybody was more or less green and those who hadn't been puking before did now.
Glorfindel sat there bent over groaning, he was cross eyed and moaning and shivering as something that sounded almost like the bellowing from a huge beast escaped him. He panted. "Someone, get a blade, a knife, anything! I want to end myself!"
The dwarf patted him across his back, rather hard. "Easy there big guy, there is an end to every misery ya see"
Glorfindel hid his face in his hands as he once again farted so bad everybody within the building could hear him. "Yes, death!"
The dwarf shook his head. "Nay, don't be so friggin negative now. My cousin Bolin was married to this lass ya see, and she was a talkin all da time, all da time, never stopped, drivin im mad it was. Nag nag nag all da time. He was thinkin of murdering her ya know, or ending imself."
Erestor gasped as it felt as if his intestines were getting ripped apart. "What happened?"
The dwarf just grinned, he was taking this all in a very good way, never losing his optimism. "Oh I'll tell ya what appened, she talked so much that she one day did dislocate her jaw, no more nagging for weeks. And that was when he finally divorced her! She couldn't protest at all!"
Erestor sighed. "A nice way to get rid of a problem, but why didn't the medicine work?"
Glorfindel rolled his eyes. "Yes indeed why?!"
The servant who had administered the medicine had returned to his master's side and he shrugged. "I did just what the lord told me to, two spoons to each patient."
Erestor felt extremely dizzy and faint. He couldn't get off the seat just yet. "Take the bottle to Elrond, there has to be something wrong with it"
The servant nodded and grasped the bottle, it was almost completely empty. He went back to the apartment and Elrond opened the door once more. He did look a bit better but not much, his bowels were empty by now and it was just cramps bothering him. The servant bowed his head. "I gave everybody two spoons as you requested but it isn't helping at all, everybody is getting even sicker, they have gas sir, lots and lots of it"
Elrond looked very confused, he grasped the bottle and uncorked it, sniffed the top carefully. Then he looked at the servant with huge eyes and there was shock written all over his face. "This has been tampered with, gods, it has to have been mixed with something else?!"
Elrond stood there for a second, completely confused and terrified. This could be the work of some evil doer, tampering with medicine was extremely dangerous and he shouted to Celebrian. "I have to leave love, this has to be checked out."
Celebrian just moaned something that could have been an answer.
Elrond followed the servant to the apothecary and they opened the cupboard. They stared at the shelves and Elrond went pale. He knew where every bottle was supposed to be and he turned to the man. "Did the bottle stand at the top shelf?"
The human shook his head. "No, the shelf underneath it, but there was just one huge blue bottle there."
Elrond swallowed hard, a small green bottle which usually contained a very potent sleeping medicine had been moved and it too smelled funny. And a jar containing an oil usually used to help indigestion had been emptied and just some remnants of goo was left in it.
Elrond stared at the bottom shelf, the huge jar with maple syrup was missing too and he was starting to realize that there was only one possible explanation to this mystery. Someone had indeed been tampering with the medicine and one bottle was missing.
He turned to the servant and tried to look calm although that was rather difficult. "Help me look for a missing bottle, it is identical to the one you used. It could be here somewhere."
The servant nodded although he didn't understand anything at all.
They quickly searched through the room, opened every shelf or cupboard, checked every little nook and cranny and the servant suddenly gave a shout. "Here, in the linen basket"
Elrond watched as the man pulled the bottle out, it was cracked and drops of the sticky pink fluid was still clinging to it. He sighed and closed his eyes, it was all so clear to him now. He had to solve this asap and make everybody okay again, but how?
He turned to the servant. " It appears that someone has accidently mixed the medicine I asked you to use with a very strong laxative. Please, try to keep this between us, I need to investigate this further."
The servant just nodded. " I will not tell anyone, I swear, not even my master"
Elrond sighed with relief. "Good man, if this was done on purpose I assure you the one responsible will suffer the consequences"
The human just bowed his head, he was a very obedient person who wouldn't break his oath. Elrond tried to think rationally. The laxative had been mixed with the stomach medicine from the other blue bottle and then also with the sleeping potion, of which there had been just a few drops left thankfully and the oil for indigestion, it told of panic and desperation and a huge lack of knowledge, it wasn't really that hard to point the finger at the most credible culprits. Now he had to counteract the effects of the horrible mixture.
He looked at the medicine he had left there and made a decision. He started mixing a sort of tea and made sure that he had two whole kettles of it. Then he poured it into several bottles and told the servant to go and give everybody a sip of this new concoction. It should ease the pain, calm their stomachs and stop the production of gas and the diarrhea. Elrond took a decent swig of it himself before he sent the servant off and he kept a small bottle for his wife and the twins.
The servant played the role as nurse once more with great dignity and care and everybody drank even though they had their doubts if this would work.
Luckily it did, the cacophony of farting sounds ended slowly and so did the burping and puking. Most had emptied their bowels completely by now but there were still some who sat there looking pained and tormented. The diarrhea stopped, elvish medicine is very advanced and strong and there was a collective gasp of relief but not a very deep one for the air was still filled with scents that would have made a nazgul flee in utter horror.
Imladris was a very stinking place this morning, a very stinking place indeed. There were pools of vomit and such everywhere, beds and chairs and floors were soiled and covered with the stuff and there were huge piles of clothes too soiled to be salvaged.
Elrond did self-medicate himself rather heavily to be able to work, he organized a clean up crew and made sure that the most important rooms were cleaned first. Then he administered further medicine to those who needed it and made sure that nobody suffered any ill effects of the diarrhea. He made a special diet which everybody had to follow for the coming week and he was so relieved he cried when he realized that nobody was blaming him nor the elves for the incident. The humans and dwarves were well used to different types of food poisoning, they often suffered the effects of food that had gone bad and everybody believed him when he told them that it had been a jar of bad syrup that had caused it. It had probably fermented or gotten moldy or something and they just shrugged and told him that this things do happen and after all, it had been quite a feast so perhaps it had been worth it.
The elflings who slept through the entire misery due to the sleeping medicine mixed in with the laxative and the syrup woke up with tummy aches and in confusion and Elrond didn't say anything to the twins right away. He was too busy for the first two days. They had to burn matrasses and blankets and clothes and a lot of other things and the elves responsible for washing were working like crazy to remove the stench. The huge outhouse was the worst place naturally, the pit underneath it was filled to the brim and so they covered it with lime and a thick layer of leaves and then some huge stone slabs were put on top of it until further notice. The contents had to be left in peace until it had turned into compost, nobody dared to disturb it, the very idea made everybody cringe.
In the end nobody suffered any injuries, there were some sore bottoms and even more bruised egos and wounded pride was also rather common for a few weeks but they got over it. The only one who didn't get over it was Glorfindel, he had never felt that humiliated and he didn't show his face in the dining hall or the hall of fire for three weeks. He was so afraid of being teased Erestor had to physically drag him to the meetings. But he slowly realized that he wasn't the only one who had suffered through this and nobody mentioned it with even a word so he returned to his usual glorious self. It wasn't a moment too late for a sulking paranoid Glorfindel wasn't exactly an ideal person to try to get along with.
Elrond bid the dwarves and the humans and the scholars goodbye and they all left, not knowing the truth at all. The atmosphere had been very nice the last days of their stay, there was a sense of newfound camaraderie and friendships had been formed. Nothing breaks the barriers of prejudice and mistrust like sitting there in a row covered in vomit while farting and burping and emptying your bowels. They had all been in the same boat and seen that they weren't that different after all.
Legolas stared at the twins, he was just gawking and his eyes filled with disbelief. "So you were the cause?!"
Both nodded and stared down. "Indeed we were!"
Elladan sighed. " For a while everybody just called it "the shitty business", then it changed to "the incident"
Legolas snorted, he tried to suppress his mirth but he was almost completely unable to. He was shaking all over. The idea of Glorfindel the fabulous and brave sitting on the privy covered in filth burping and farting was surreal. "So, what did your father do?"
Elrohir closed his eyes. "He had us summoned to his office and asked us what we had done."
Legolas cocked his head. "And you told him?!"
The twins nodded simultaneously. "Yes, we couldn't lie to ada, he would have known."
Elladan continued. "So we told him everything, of the bottle and all and we were so afraid, we thought he would send us away"
Elrohir nodded. "Yes, we knew we had done something very very bad because everybody were so sick and there was shit and puke everywhere and many cried to, I remember that well."
Elladan sighed. "And the medicine we had managed to mix happened to be more efficient for elves than humans and dwarves, but only the elflings reacted to the sleeping potion since our bodies were so small"
Legolas leaned back. "And then?"
Elladan swallowed hard. "Ada has kept the some of the tainted syrup in a bottle in his office, he told us he was a bit angry and a bit disappointed too but he did forgive us since we were so young."
Legolas stared at them. "He just forgave you? Oh Eru, if I had done something like that my ada would have warmed my bottom for sure."
Elrohir sent Legolas a sad smile. "Yes, he did forgive us, but he forbade us to as much as go near the apothecary again and if we did something like that again, even just as a prank, he would force us to take a spoon of the syrup. "
Legolas giggled. "Oh my, has he ever kept his word. "
Elladan sent Legolas a rather dark glance. "There were five gallons of syrup left in that jar, now there is perhaps a couple of cups left!"
Legolas just stared at them in disbelief, five gallons? That was…a lot of spoons, a heck of a lot of spoons! So that was why Erestor was so tense, it all made sense by now, one prank meant one spoonful of the tainted syrup!
Elrohir shrugged and made an apologetic grimace. "I know, but at least we have never suffered from constipation since that day!"
Legolas suddenly laughed so hard the entire valley heard it and for the rest of his stay his greatest amusement was innocently using the word incident when conversing with Glorfindel and watch the great balrog slayer go ashen grey and get a haunted expression upon his fair face.