Legolas was tired, dirty and a bit out of sorts as he approached his rooms. It had been a long journey to Imladris and even though Elladan and Elrohir had greeted him gladly, Elrond, the elf he had journeyed to consult with, was on a trade mission with Glorfindel and would not return for another five days. He had spent the better part of the afternoon with Elladan at the archery range working off some of his frustration, but he was still a bit on edge.
His hand reached out to the latch as a voice hailed him from behind.
“Legolas. Have you seen Estel?” Elrohir asked while walking towards him.
“Estel? Why would I see estel? Isn’t estel usually to be found, not seen?”
“Ah! My pardon, friend. Estel is the name of a young human boy who is staying with us for a while. We treat him as a younger brother. I was playing hide and track with him, but he eluded me.”
“Well, I’ll certainly keep an eye out for your missing child. Ooof, I smell like an animal of the forest. I need a bath and a change of clothing. Come and knock on my door when you plan to go and eat and I’ll join you. If you haven’t found him by then, I’ll help you search.”
The two friends clasped arms and separated; Elrohir to continue searching, while Legolas returned his attention to his chamber door.
As he was reaching for the latch Legolas heard a soft rustling noise coming from within. 'This is Imladris. There is nothing here to harm me.' Nonetheless, he loosened the catch from around his belt knife and opened the door cautiously, his left hand gripping the handle of the blade.
Entering his two-room suite he noticed that the room had been cleaned and straightened and the gauze-like curtains at the windows were billowing inwards gently in the late afternoon breeze. The rooms were painted in pale shades of blue, a color that was rarely used in the Greenwood and that he found strangely refreshing. The furnishings were made from a lightly toned, textured maple.
His looked carefully around the sitting room looking for the cause of the rustling sound he had heard. Was there an intruder in his rooms? By habit he also checked the ceiling where any of the great spiders of his homeland would have been lurking.
The sitting room featured a small hearth, two chairs with a small shared table, and a corner cabinet holding serving plates, cutlery and goblets. Across the top of the cabinet were spread his paints. An easel featuring an almost completed watercolor of a large, shaggy bear was on the far side of the window. There was an archway opposite the entry door that led to the bedchamber.
Looking throughout the room he realized that there was nothing on the ceiling and no place at the floor level for anyone to hide. The furniture legs were narrow and the view across the floor was unhindered. Although the window was open, it was high and the other side was a sheer wall heading to the river below. A spider could cling to the outside wall, but as far as he knew, those creatures were restricted to his homeland.
'Any intruder must be in the bedroom. Who would dare abridge the laws of courtesy towards a guest by coming into my rooms without my permission?'
The far room, the bedchamber, was small but perfectly suited to him. It featured a large two-door wardrobe, a generously sized bed and a curtained chamber pot under a beamed ceiling. Against the wall on the far side near the door to the small balcony was a stand holding a bowl and ewer of water for washing.
The bedding had been straightened and his dirty clothing had been removed. The door to the balcony had been opened, allowing the breeze to cool the room and the light curtains to sway gently. There was room for an intruder to hide either under the bed, in the wardrobe, behind the curtain shielding the chamber pot or on the balcony.
As he scanned the room, he noticed a shadow moving across the balcony doorway and heard a soft giggle that was quickly cut off. 'Hmmm, this doesn't sound particularly threatening. Let me see if I can catch an intruder.' He fastened the guard back around his belt knife, smiled to himself, and knelt down acting as if he did not know where the intruder was. He was careful to make sure that his back was turned to the balcony.
“Grrrrrroowwll!” a high-pitched voice roared from behind him and booted feet ran from the balcony towards the prone elf. He felt a small body suddenly jump on top of his back and begin pummeling him with his fists.
“And with a mighty blow, Estel slew the golden bear,” a young voice exclaimed. “Now you have to play dead.”
“I do?” Legolas asked, carefully hiding his grin from the boy on top of him.
“Yes! I have killed you. You’re dead.”
Legolas suddenly flipped over onto his back, one knee up and his arm thrown partially across his eyes. Peeking through narrowed eyes, he saw a young boy standing in front of him, his hands perched on his hips and a proud smile on his face.
‘Time to turn the tables here,’ the elf thought. He suddenly sat up, bringing both of his arms around the boy and capturing him. ”Roarrrrrrr. Now the bear will catch you instead!” He began to tickle the child who screamed and laughed with tones of pure joy.
* * * * *
A short time later a knock came at his door and Elrohir poked his head into the room. “Legolas? Are you in here?”
“No Legolas here, just us bears…” sounded a voice from the bedroom. Elrohir shook his head, and grinning, walked to the archway separating the two chambers of the guest suite. There lying on the floor between the bed and the balcony he saw the sprawled bodies of the golden-haired elf and his young foster brother. Legolas and Estel both had their left legs bent and their right arms thrown carelessly above their heads. They were nestled next to each other, looking at each other and biting their lips to keep from laughing aloud.
“Bears?” Elrohir asked.
“Bears,” Legolas responded. “Apparently young Estel was looking for a place to hide from you and, coming into my room, saw the picture that I was painting. Thus…bears.”
“I see. Well, are the bears hungry?”
“This bear is hungry, ‘Ro,” the smaller of the ‘bears’ said as he sat up and looked eagerly towards the elf leaning against the archway.
“I happen to know, on the best of authority, that the kitchen just pulled a fresh batch of raisin cakes from the oven and they are cooling even as I speak to you. I’m sure that a fierce bear such as you will have no problem getting one to eat.”
Estel jumped to his feet and began to run towards the door. “Stop!” Elrohir commanded. The boy turned and looked back at his older brother. “You must be very careful to not frighten any of the kitchen staff. I know they are planning a special feast tonight to honor Prince Legolas. I am quite sure that a bear would be very frightening to Cook.”
“Oh...I can turn back into a boy before I go into the kitchen. But can I be a bear until I get there?”
“Yes, you can remain a bear until you reach the kitchens.”
Once again Estel turned and ran to the door but once again he stopped and turned. He went back to the bedroom where Legolas was now sitting up on the floor, his arms around his bent leg. “Would you like me to bring you a raisin cake Prince Legolas? Elrohir?”
“Thank you, Estel, that is thoughtful of you,” Legolas said. “But I have an idea. Why don’t we all go to the kitchen and each get a cake and a glass of milk to take and eat in the garden? I’ll bring a bow with me and teach you the beginnings of archery.”
“Oh YES! Would you?” The young child ran directly towards the woodland elf and hugged him fiercely. Turning one final time he ran through the doorway roaring as he left the room. They could hear his small voice continuing to roar as he headed towards the kitchen.
Legolas and Elrohir finally gave in to their laughter.
“What a treasure,” the woodland Prince said, even as Elrohir said “What a terror.” They looked at each other and began laughing again. Legolas rolled some clean clothing into a bundle because he still planned to make it to the baths before dinner, and he grabbed a simple bow and quiver. As the two elves exited the guest chambers, Legolas said, “So, ‘Ro, tell me about this fierce bear that you know as Estel.”