The Curiosity of Children
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It was a quaint inn with three stories and a respectable tavern taking up the bottom floor. Even though some of the windows were rusted along the edges, and there were several cracks in the stone that created the walls and roof, the establishment still looked rather sturdy. Almost all of the lights were on and the wooden door at the front was open. The heat of a roaring fire and the smells of food were wafting out into the air around the area.
These were some of the factors that drew the ranger in, and pushed him to walk through the door. The man was soaking wet from the recent torrents of rain, and he wanted nothing more than to sleep for several days straight. He walked with heavy footsteps as his mud caked boots weighed him down. Aragorn sighed when he realized that he was leaving a trail of dirty footprints across the floor.
"Don't worry laddie, it's not your fault."
Aragorn turned to find a friendly man around his late thirties, smiling at him from behind the front desk. He returned the smile and sheepishly looked down at the floor.
"Sorry about that…"
"It's alright. Can I help you with something?"
"Yeah actually, do you have any rooms available for my friends and me, there are nine of us."
The man nodded and turned around to grab two sets of keys.
"Here you are. Two rooms with four beds each, I'm sorry but it looks like one of you will have double up with someone else."
The ranger nodded and brushed the man off with a wave of his hand.
"It is absolutely fine, honestly a bed of any sort, crowded or not, will feel nice tonight."
The host chuckled and reached out to shake Aragorn's hand.
"I imagine so…by the way my name is Halen, and you are?"
"Nice to meet you Strider. If you need anything give me a shout."
"Thank you Halen."
Halen nodded to Aragorn and sauntered off towards the kitchen which was placed behind the front desk and bar. The ranger watched him go before leaning against the desk and playing absentmindedly with the keys in his hand. He stood facing the door as he waited for the rest of his traveling companions to walk inside.
"Come my friends, Aragorn has chosen an inn where you can rest. Please hurry though, the rain is growing heavier and I don't fancy getting any wetter."
Legolas called back to the rest of his companions as he squinted against the rain. His hood was covering most of his face, but it wasn't doing much against the steady rain. He watched as the rest of the fellowship trudged forward.
"Well pardon me, but not all of us can be as light footed as your kind."
Gimli huffed in return. Legolas chuckled and bowed his head.
"I did not intend to offer you any insult Gimli."
"Yeah, yeah, sure."
The elf waited patiently until the entire group had caught up with him. He had to stifle his laughter when he saw how comical everyone looked. Gimli was grumbling under his breath with a mud caked cloak and sopping wet boots, Boromir was dragging his rain heavy cape and shield behind him, and the four hobbits were picking up their knees in an attempt to drag their feet through the thick mud.
"What is so funny elf?"
"It is nothing master dwarf."
Gimli looked at him with a skeptical expression, but didn't push the issue further. The elf stood stoically as the group passed by him. He frowned however, when he noticed that only six members had passed him. He turned to find Gandalf several feet away, staring off in no particular direction.
"Mithrandir, is something wrong?"
The wizard turned and smiled at the quizzical elf.
"No, nothing is wrong Legolas. I am merely enjoying the newness rain brings, for when the rain comes, it washes away the parts of the past that we no longer want to see, and allows us to move forward towards our hopefully brighter futures."
Legolas smiled and nodded before shifting uncomfortably on the spot.
"Yes, I agree, but while the rain can be comforting, this is not one of those moments."
Gandalf chuckled and strode towards the prince. He placed a hand on Legolas shoulder and pulled him towards the door in which the fellowship had just disappeared.
"I believe that you are right Legolas. Let us head inside and rest."
So with nothing more on their minds, besides the ever increasing downpour, the two hurried towards the inn and each released a sigh of relief when the warm air inside hit them.
"Having a little chat were we?"
The two turned around to find an amused Aragorn leaning against a nearby wall, a key dangling from his hand.
"Yes Estel, we were. Now give me that key, I would like to change into dry clothes."
Aragorn chuckled and dropped the key into Legolas' outstretched hand. The elf quickly hopped up the stairs and opened the room that matched the number on the key. He turned the knob and placed his belongings on the elongated windowsill in the corner. Legolas didn't bother to pause changing his clothes when Gandalf, Boromir, and Aragorn walked into the room.
"Aragorn inform Gimli that I shall switch rooms with him."
The ranger raised an eyebrow and paused until the elf finished and turned towards him.
"And why is that?"
"There are four beds in each room, and four hobbits. I don't require a bed for I do not need much sleep. Gimli on the other hand is in need of both those things. If he stays in here then everyone needing a bed will be able to make full use of one comfortably."
Aragorn nodded and opened the door for the elf.
"Alright then, I shall see you in the morning."
Legolas nodded and walked to the room next door. He knocked softly, and stepped back as he waited for someone to open the door. There was an indistinct sound of shuffling feet before the door was swung open by Sam.
"Oh, hello mister Legolas. Is there something that you need?"
"No Sam, I only came to tell Gimli to move his things into the other room."
"And why is that? Do you not trust me to protect the hobbits?"
Legolas rolled his eyes and stepped inside the room. He sauntered over to where the dwarf sat, stretched out in one of the large chairs placed around the room.
"No Gimli, I have come to offer you this so you may sleep comfortably in a bed by yourself. Seeing as I do not require one, it would only be logical for me to stay in the room that already has four occupants. Now pack up your things and head across the hall, or would you like me to assist you?"
The dwarf grumbled and righted himself, grabbing his pack and other belongings.
"I don't need help from a folly headed fool like you."
The elf ignored the insult, and placed his things on the room's windowsill. He watched the dwarf leave before heaving a sigh.
"Such thick headed creatures...I believe that it is caused because they have spent so much time in their mines that they have taken on the same qualities as the rock the dig."
He winked at the hobbits when he elicited several giggles.
"But we must keep that between ourselves my dear hobbits."
All four Halflings nodded and returned to their nighttime routines, while Legolas placed himself next to his things and watched the rain continue to pour outside the window. Soon all of the hobbits were in bed and ready to extinguish the lamps that were hang throughout the area.
"Legolas, are you sure that you don't need a bed?"
The elf nodded and leaned back against the wall behind him.
"Yes, I don't require sleep as you do, and I fell into a dream state last night so I should be fine for several more days."
The hobbits looked reasonably skeptical but decided to just let the subject go. They tucked themselves into their beds and waited for sleep to take them. Legolas smiled at them and turned his piercing blue eyes towards the world outside.
The early morning sun was shining brightly through the open window of Legolas and the hobbit's room. The elf was glued to the window as he breathed in the after rain air. The downpour had turned the next morning into a blue skied, sweet aired and brightly lit day.
Legolas watched with curiosity as the early risers of the town wandered about lazily. There were men, women, and even some children meandering between the various shops and running through the errands that they had scheduled. All of them were ignorant to the pair of watchful eyes that were observing their daily activities.
The elf turned to find the hobbits waking and rising from their beds. He smiled at them and slowly bowed his head.
"Good morning my dear hobbits. I would dress promptly, for I assume that we shall be leaving as soon as possible."
The four looked at him rather groggily but followed his orders anyway. Soon they were all dressed and waiting by the door. Legolas walked over to them and raised an eyebrow.
"Are you all ready?"
The hobbits smiled grimly and Legolas opened the door. The group waited patiently in the hall for their comrades to emerge. Much to their relief, they were only waiting for several minutes, before Aragorn poked his head out. He smiled at the group and fully revealed himself.
"Good morning hobbits, and to you as well Legolas."
The ranger called back into his room and summoned the other members of the fellowship. Gandalf was the first to emerge, the normal wise smile on his face. Next came Gimli, who was grumbling about something in his native tongue, and finally Boromir came sauntering towards them, albeit rather groggily.
Seeing as everyone was now settled and ready to leave, they headed off down the stairs, dropped off the keys and thanked Halen, before they headed out the door to continue their journey.
As they walked through the now busy town streets, Aragorn noticed how agitated Legolas seemed to be. The elf was walking towards the back of the company, and he was continually glancing behind him nervously. His hands were twitching ever so slightly towards his bow and his eyes held a confused and guarded quality. Legolas' ears were also alert, and Aragorn became even more confused when he thought that he saw the elf trying to hone in on a particular sound. Concerned for his friend, the ranger paused and rested a hand on Legolas' shoulder.
"Mellon-nin, man tol presta-lle?" (My friend, what is disturbing you?)
Legolas swung his head around and looked at his friend with a slightly wild gaze.
"Aragorn, amin plada pen tol aphad-lye." (Aragorn, I feel somebody is following us.)
The man stiffened noticeably, and he scanned the area with a nervous confusion.
By now the two had attracted the attention of the entire fellowship. The group had formed a tight circle around the man and elf. Legolas then switched to the common tongue so all could understand.
"I do not know, but it seems to be giving off a strange and high pitched sound. It sounds eerily of laughter and I sense that there is more than one of the strange creatures. They also appear to be rather small."
Aragorn raised an eyebrow at the frantic elf.
"Legolas…you describe something that seems of little threat."
"You should not doubt the danger these beings posses. We should continue on carefully."
The elf nodded towards the others in an attempt to emphasize his point. However, the man still looked skeptical. He glanced over the elf's shoulder and felt a smile creep onto his lips. Aragorn turned to chuckle at his elven friend.
"My dear Legolas, your horrible creatures have shown themselves."
Legolas' eyes widened and he turned quickly, ready to face anything. However, what he was met with, wasn't exactly life threatening. He felt a dark blush rise to his cheeks when the failed attempt at stifled chuckles from the fellowship floated over him, for standing in front of the elf was a gaggle of the town's children. All of them were watching him with curious and wide eyes.
The elf stared at them with confusion and his head cocked to the side. He approached them with his normal elven grace, and once he reached them he knelt down to their level, unintentionally scaring them to the point where all of them hid behind a single boy who stood at the front. The child looked slightly older than the others and his eyes held no fear, simply wonder. He walked closer to Legolas and studied his face. The elven prince smiled at him in his normal charming way.
"Hello little one, can I help you and your friends with something? You have been following us for quite a while."
The child looked slightly abashed and cast his gaze down to his shoes. His response was muffled by the fact that his chin was pressed against his tunic, but using his heightened senses, Legolas was able to hear him perfectly. He laughed good-naturedly and raised the boy's chin.
"Yes my dear child, I am an elf."
The boy positively beamed and turned to the other children. He shared several frantic whispers with them and soon they started to show themselves. The shyly looked to Legolas, who waited quietly with a rather large grin. Finally a small girl stepped forward.
"What's your name mister?"
"I am Legolas, son of King Thranduil"
The children's eyes widened and they shared excited glances between each other.
"You're a prince?"
One by one the children stepped forward and bombarded the elf with questions.
"How old are you?"
"Where do you live?"
"Can I see your bow and your knives?"
"Are your ears pointed?"
"Can I see your ears?"
Legolas chuckled and threw a quick glance back to the fellowship. The hobbits were smiling comically at him, Gandalf seemed preoccupied with his hushed conversation with Boromir, Gimli was standing awkwardly off to the side, and Aragorn was smiling at him and the ranger gave him a discreet hand gesture, pushing him forward.
The elf turned back to the children and raised his hands in a signal to calm down. They quieted immediately and watched Legolas intently.
"Alright, in order, I am 2,391 years of age, I live in the elven realm of Mirkwood, my weapons are rather dangerous, but you can see them if you do not get to close to them," the elf paused as he drew his knives skillfully and placed them in his palms. Once each child had been able to study the weapon, he sheathed them and repeated the same thing with his bow before returning to answering questions. "Yes my ears are pointed, and yes you can see them. You may feel them as well if you are careful."
The children all giggled and Legolas pulled back his golden curtain of hair, revealing his right ear. The group of humans jumped forward with excitement and rushed to become the first one in line to touch Legolas' ears. Said elf chuckled when he felt the small fingers running along the pointed ridge. Soon everyone had their chance and the children backed away. Legolas grinned at them for a final time and rose to his full height, towering above the children.
"It was lovely meeting you all, but my companions and I must be going."
Several protests were heard but Legolas had to turn away, but before he could get very far his hand was grabbed by one of a much smaller size. He looked behind him and felt his face soften when he found himself looking into a questioning green gaze. The small girl standing in front of him was watching him intently.
"Can you sing for us prince Legolas?"
The elf sighed and kneeled down to be closer to the child.
"You do not need to address me so formally young one, and I guess that I can sing a little for you, but it won't be much, there isn't nearly enough time."
The child squealed and hugged the elf, much to his surprise. Legolas chuckled and took a deep breath mulling over which song to sing. Finally he smiled when the perfect one popped into his head.
"Long ago there lived a maid, fair was she, yes indeed.
She spent her days out in the sun; they were filled with joy, laughter and much fun.
Still her heart longed for more, the missing piece, her second soul.
So she wept for far too long, until one day she heard a song.
She followed quickly, her excitement high, until she finally found her guy.
The elleth swooned for him, and he for her, their love was simple, nothing more.
Their love spread over the centuries, over the seasons, even the fallen leaves.
Bound as one forever more, never turning back, that's for sure."
As the elf finished, all around him were absolutely captivated by his gorgeous voice. The children stood with gapping mouths and even some of the other villagers had gathered. Several cheered quietly while groupings of the children ran up to hug him, thanking him furiously.
"Thank you Legolas!"
"That was wonderful!"
The elf laughed loudly and sat awkwardly, for he was unaware of how he should react to everyone's behavior. Finally he felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned to find Aragorn smiling down at him.
"Come on show off, we should head out."
Legolas snorted at the name and rose, shaking the kids off of him. He bid them a final farewell before rushing after his companions. Once he reached them, the elf received several smirks and raised eyebrows.
Frodo laughed and walked up to his friend.
"It is nothing Legolas, just, we never knew that you would be such a hit with children, I mean with your various...how to put it...uh mannerisms."
Legolas looked at the hobbit with a quizzical expression.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Alright people, this took me a really long time to type for some reason…I hope you enjoy and please review!