“It’s hard to believe this has become a place of dark magic,” Legolas said, scanning the wide open meadow of the Gladden Fields beyond the trees. "Yet a number of our patrols have reported strange lights in the sky here at night and an increased presence of Orcs in the area over the past few months.”
He turned to Glorfindel who was setting up their tent with practiced expertise. “When Elrond received King Thranduil’s request he sent me right away,” Glorfindel replied. “I’m sure we can discover the cause within a day or so.”
“Well if anyone can, it’s you,” Legolas said, not even trying to hide the awe in his voice.
Glorfindel looked over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“All right, all right,” Legolas said with a laugh. “But you have to admit there was a time you would have loved that.”
“And there was a time you would have been sincere,” Glorfindel said.
“All barrels out of bond, as we say in the fortress,” Legolas replied. He eyed Glorfindel’s handiwork as he stepped away from the tent. “That looks good. Now what are you making for supper?”
“Oh no you don’t,” Glorfindel said. “I set up the camp, you provide the meal.”
Legolas rummaged in his pack. “Let me see. . . There’s some waybread, dried meat and fruit, a bag of Palantír’s nuts, a yam, a pot of honey. . ."
“I got it in trade,” Legolas said.
“It would be nice to have something a bit fresher,” Glorfindel said. “There’s a river nearby that looks promising for hunting. And I think I saw some ripe wild strawberries back up the trail. I’ll even pick them to show my good will.”
“Fine,” Legolas said, “if you want to risk it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well we’re here to scout for a possible source of dark magic and you want to chow down on the local flora and fauna. Don’t you think that could be dangerous? Not to mention starting a cooking fire will make our presence known.”
“I haven’t seen or felt anything during our journey or since we arrived in this area,” Glorfindel said, “but you know The Gladden Fields better than I. It shouldn’t hurt to risk the strawberries though. I’ll gather some and you see what we can do with that yam.”
In no time they had whipped up a feast with their rations, honey glazed javelina jerky, yam pudding with nuts and raisins, and strawberry short lembas for dessert. After they ate they scouted the immediate area for about an hour but found no traces of anything untoward, not even orc scat. At last they returned to camp to settle in for the night.
Glorfindel volunteered for first watch and spent an uneventful few hours watching the stars and waiting anxiously for the mysterious lights the Mirkwood guards reported. He gave Legolas an extra hour before waking him, falling asleep as soon as he rested his head upon his bedroll. When his eyes fluttered open the camp was filled with light. Momentarily confused, he thought Galadriel must have shown up for breakfast before he realized it was almost midday. Glorfindel scrambled from his bedroll, starting in surprise to see a duck at the tent’s entrance, a white mallard with long blond hair and demonic red eyes.
Shaking off an unsettling feeling he called out, “Legolas, is everything all right? Why didn’t you wake me?”
“Quack, quack,” said the duck. There was no answer from Legolas.
Glorfindel called again. “Legolas! There’s a duck in the tent.” He thought sure that would bring him running, but there was no reply. The duck waddled over and looked him in the eye then began to peck and pull at his shirt as though trying to tell him something. Glorfindel looked at the duck’s fine blond hair, braided in a decidedly Mirkwoodian warrior fashion, and a sudden panic gripped him. Dark magic! He ran out of the tent and began a frantic search for Legolas but his efforts were in vain. When he returned to camp he saw both their horses were still standing in their picket nibbling the grass at their feet.
It was that moment that the duck flew up and tried to perch on the back of Legolas’ mount. The horse gave itself a shake and the duck flapped to the ground with an indignant squawk. It began to wander around the sparse grass, plucking at bugs and muttering under its breath.
“No, it can’t be,” Glorfindel said aloud. “No! Oh, Legolas! Who did this to you?” He picked it up and stroked it gently, which resulted in the duck letting loose with a string of birdy expletives. He set it back down and it flapped its wings, shook itself and went back to its breakfast while Glorfindel considered what to do.
“I can’t just leave you here,” he said. “But I can’t take you back to your father either, he’d kill me. Elrond might be able to help, he knows the lore, but he wouldn’t have the power to change you back. Wait! Radagast isn’t far from here. He might be able to counter this spell.”
He knew he couldn’t carry a squawking, flapping duck all the way to Rhosgobel. Reluctantly he took up Legolas’s pack and seized the duck before it could escape, stuffing it quickly inside. The duck voiced its displeasure loudly and emphatically as Glorfindel mounted his horse and, leading Legolas’ horse, set off at a gallop.
“Settle down, Legolas. I’m going to take you to someone who can help,” he shouted.
The duck answered and he could have sworn it suggested he perform a sex act on himself.
The journey to Rhosgobel took the rest of the day. He dismounted and peeked inside the knapsack to see the duck’s red eye regarding him balefully. “Please don’t be that way, Legolas,” he said. “You know I’m just trying to do what’s best for you.”
“Quack, quack,” said the duck. Now there was an unpleasant edge to its voice.
Glorfindel knocked on the door of the wizard's cottage, waited a minute then knocked again. Finally he pounded on the door frantically. If Radagast wasn’t in he was out of options.
Eventually, Radagast answered the door. “Lord Glorfindel! What do you want? I was out in my garden smoking. . . I mean gathering herbs, and here you are pounding on my door like Sauron himself is after you.”
“I need help for my friend,” Glorfindel said. “Quickly, there’s no time to lose!”
“Then where is he?” Radagast cast about his doorstep for Glorfindel’s companion.
“Uh, in here.” Glorfindel held out the knapsack.
Radagast’s eyes widened.
“Quack!” shouted the duck.
Radagast took a step back in surprise. “Such language!”
“What did he say?” Glorfindel asked. “Can you understand him?”
“Mostly just the profanity. I never became fluent in duck, but they do manage to get their point across. I think he’s saying you kidnapped him after giving him a new hairstyle. Now he’s afraid to show his face at the pond and you can go. . . Oh, dear. You’re not going to want to do that.”
“Yes, I got that one.”
“Let me get him out of there and have a look,” Radagast said. He eased the duck from the knapsack and offered it the herb he was holding. The duck gave him a skeptical look but then quickly gobbled it down. After a moment the anger left its eyes, replaced by a blissful look. Then it started humming an old Gondorian tavern song.
“Radagast!” Glorfindel said, dismayed.
“You don’t want him flying away until we can figure out what kind of magic has gripped him do you?”
“I suppose not.”
Radagast picked up the duck and shook it gently. He looked down its throat, checked its wings and feet, palpated its breast and did a rectal probe. Glorfindel looked away.
“Do you have to violate him like that? He’s a prince you know.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing you haven’t done yourself on occasion,” Radagast chuckled.
Glorfindel turned beet red and said nothing.
At last Radagast stood back and put a finger to his lips. Not the probing finger, Glorfindel noted with relief.
“For all intents and purposes, this is a duck,” Radagast said. “I don’t recognize the spell but he could be a Beoducking. That race hasn’t been seen since the First Age.”
“What is that?” Glorfindel was lost.
“You’ve heard of the Beornings, well this is the same thing but it’s a race of Men that can become ducks at will. Perhaps Legolas has always been one and he hasn’t been transformed at all. He’s just gotten stuck as a duck.”
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” Glorfindel said. “Of course he hasn’t always been a Beoducking. He’s Thranduil’s son for Eru’s sake.”
“How do you know the whole line of Thranduil. . .?”
Glorfindel clenched his fists and opened his mouth but Radagast put up his hand. “Nevermind. If this is some sort of dark magic it’s a type I’ve not seen before. Let me check my books and I’ll see what I can come up with.” He went to a bookshelf in the corner and began to pull out volume after volume.
“How long will this take?” Glorfindel asked anxiously. He picked up the duck and stroked it. It gave him a seductive smile.
“Perhaps a week, maybe more,” Radagast said absently, thumbing through a volume the size of a Haradrim phone book.
“I can’t wait that long! We have to report back to Thranduil in three days.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. It takes as long as it takes. I’m not even sure he can be changed back.”
“That’s not acceptable. There has to be some way.” Now Glorfindel was pacing and the duck was becoming agitated. It struggled free and dropped to the floor where it began to pace too. Then it stopped, shook itself and squatted. When it stood up there was an egg on the floor. Glorfindel stared at it in shock.
“L-Legolas? Is that, could it be. . .” he picked up the egg carefully and cradled it in his cupped hands, “our baby?”
“Quack, quack,” murmured the duck coyly.
“Bollocks!” Radagast exclaimed.
“Now you’ll have to hatch that egg before I can change them back, if I can do it at all.”
“I will, I will,” Glorfindel said excitedly. “But I can’t have my baby born in the wild. I’ll take them back to Imladris while you try to find the cure. Send me a message when you have the answer. I need to see Elrond.”
He scooped up the duck and put it back in the knapsack for the journey, but what to do about the egg? It would have to be incubated and Imladris was days away and over the mountains. Finally he took the egg and eased it down the back of his trousers, lodging it firmly but gently between his arse cheeks, for there was nowhere on Arda as safe and warm as the crack of an Elf.
Glorfindel mounted his steed with great care. He left Legolas’ horse with Radagast and rode for Imladris, wondering how he would explain all this to Elrond.
When he made camp at night, he tried his best to get Legolas to sit the egg, but without the herb he was rowdy and petulant, refusing to stay still for even a moment, forcing Glorfindel to do the job himself. The night before they reached the Bruinen he settled his light Elven butt upon the egg while Legolas complained from the knapsack.
“You’re the most selfish mother I’ve ever seen,” Glorfindel complained back.
“Quack, quack,” snarled the duck.
“I know I did this to you, but it’s not like you don’t have some responsibility. You participated quite enthusiastically as I recall,” Glorfindel said. He felt like he was getting a handle on duck language.
“Quack, quack,” the duck shot back.
“Yes, well, it’s not like either of us could have anticipated this,” Glorfindel said. “We could have our roles reversed if I had taken the second watch.”
The duck muttered something he couldn’t understand, or chose not to.
“Don’t worry. Elrond has birthed plenty of mpreg babies through the years. He’ll make sure our child is well taken care of.”
He could have sworn the string of expletives that followed suggested his mother liked it rough.
When he finally reached Imladris he realized just how weary he was from all the arguing and egg sitting. He went immediately to Elrond’s study, Legolas’ head poking out of the knapsack, the egg resting safely in his ass. Elrond looked up from a book as he entered, taking in the quacking duck with a raised eyebrow.
“You have returned early,” he said.
“Complications arose,” Glorfindel replied. “I. . . I have something to tell you.”
“I hoped there would be an explanation forthcoming for the Mirkwood knapsack, the duck, and your waddle.”
“I hardly know where to begin. You see, we were in the woods and Legolas took second watch. When I woke up I saw he had changed into this.” He pulled out the duck and set it on Elrond’s desk where it farted, then took an amazingly large poo.
“See, that proves the duck is Legolas,” Glorfindel said triumphantly.
Elrond gave him a withering look.
“I know it sounds crazy but that’s the only explanation. Legolas was gone and this duck was in his place. It even has his braids.”
“What you have here is a simple Albino Mirkwood Yellow-crested Mallard with a braided crest. I’m surprised Radagast didn’t recognize it. They are quite common in the great forest. As for the braids I can’t explain that, unless you did it yourself, and as for Legolas. . .”
At that moment, Legolas burst into the study and then into laughter at the look on Glorfindel’s face.
“April Fool!” Legolas shouted.
“. . . he’s here.” Elrond finished with a sigh.
Glorfindel looked at the duck, then at Legolas, then at the duck. He became suddenly embarrassingly and keenly aware of a certain egg. He shifted uncomfortably.
“Oh, go ahead, take it out,” Legolas said, still laughing. “You know you want to.”
Glorfindel eased the egg from his butt and started to put it on Elrond’s desk. Elrond cleared his throat and Glorfindel slipped it in his pocket instead.
“You might have done that instead of. . . you know,” Legolas said. Tears were streaming from his eyes now.
“I didn’t think of it,” Glorfindel mumbled, reddening.
“Would someone like to explain what’s going on?” Elrond asked.
Legolas held up a hand, and bent over until his paroxysm of laughter had spent itself. Finally he straightened up and looked at Elrond lest another glance at Glorfindel should send him over the edge again.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this, Elrond, but I’ve been planning it so long and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I must admit the egg is a nice touch. The duck pulled her own April Fool’s prank. Anyway,” he continued when faced with Elrond’s raised eyebrow and grim lips, “this was all a joke on Glorfindel to make him think I had been turned into a duck.”
“So there was no dark magic around the Gladden Fields?”
“No, that was a ruse, I admit. I forged Thranduil’s signature on the message asking for help and when you sent Glorfindel I hid the duck in my saddlebag. It was under a sleep spell. When Glorfindel turned in I hit him with a sleep spell too, braided the duck’s crest, and left it in the tent. Then I hid in the trees until he woke up. I swear, watching him run around the wood looking for me was funny enough but when he actually fell for it and started sweet talking that duck. . .” Legolas lost it again while Glorfindel seethed.
“So that’s why the duck told Radagast I’d braided its hair. It thought I was you.”
“Ducks are lousy at telling Elves apart, especially when they have the same hair color.”
“Why didn’t Radagast recognize the species?”
“He’d spent most of the day in his garden getting baked. I’m surprised he recognized you.”
“How much did you see?” Glorfindel was getting that uncomfortable feeling again.
“Pretty much all of it. I had to take a shortcut to Radagast’s place but after that I followed you on horseback. I managed to be there every evening when you made camp, watching you all but snog that duck. It’s the most fun I’ve had in years.”
“Why would you do this to me?” Glorfindel was stung. “I was terrified for you.”
“And of my father,” Legolas reminded him.
“That too. But I thought you had been put under a spell. I was really worried.”
“I apologize for your distress but not for the joke. Your reactions were priceless. Just consider it payback.”
“Payback? For what?”
“Oh, for that time when I was young and you seduced me then left me. That time when I was a little older and you convinced me I was your sex slave. That time you made me dress up as a furry and. . .”
“Okay, that’s enough,” Glorfindel broke in. “I guess I did deserve it, to some extent.”
“No hard feelings,” Legolas said. “I think we’re even now.”
Just then there was a cracking sound. Glorfindel reached in his pocket and pulled out a squirming duckling. The little bird looked at him and cheeped with excitement.
“You’ve done it now,” Legolas said.
“You’re the first thing the duckling saw. It’s imprinted on you. Now you’ll have to keep it and raise it.”
“But. . . but. . . I don’t want a duck!” Glorfindel exclaimed.
Now even Elrond joined Legolas in the laughter. “Looks like you get to be a daddy after all,” he said.
Elrond and Legolas laughed and laughed then Legolas said, “Come on, we’ll make a house for your new family.”
Legolas picked up the duck and he and Glorfindel started out the door.
“New family or no, someone needs to clean this poo off my desk,” Elrond said.
“Oops, sorry.” Legolas hastened to comply. Glorfindel cradled the duckling in his hands and exited, warming to the idea of a new pet. Meanwhile, Legolas put the duck on Elrond’s desk and began to clean up.
“That was a good joke, a very timely joke too,” Elrond said to Legolas.
“Yes, it was,” Legolas said proudly.
“Does Thranduil know about it?” he asked, steepling his fingers and giving Legolas a meaningful look.
“Uh, no,” Legolas said, sobering.
Elrond plucked a feather from the duck, who squawked and jumped off the desk. He took up a fresh sheet of parchment and dipped the quill in ink. Legolas scooped up the bird and shot out the door in a panic.
Elrond put the quill down, chuckling to himself. “April Fool’s, Legolas. April Fool’s indeed.”
You must login () to review.