The Young Warrior by curiouswombat

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Story Notes:

Six drabbles written for the 'Communication' challenges at Tolkien Weekly.


In what the outside world called Mirkwood, a warrior’s training started early.  Elflings learnt to use a bow as relief from schooling; could hit a target before they could neatly write their tengwar.

But serious training began only as they approached maturity, and finished only when the trainers agreed that they had achieved a certain standard.

Now came official recognition; ten young ellyn stood as their teachers twisted warriors braids into their hair before ‘The Speech’.

“Now you begin to truly learn how to be a warrior…” said the king.

This time one graduate thought, ‘So you always say… Adar.’

………..

Out in the forest they walked silently.  Another game learnt as elflings so that it became second nature.  This far from the Stronghold no-one spoke whilst on patrol, everyone listened.  

There!  Amongst the usual rustles and tiny sounds of mice, rabbits, deer, the trees themselves, was something!  

Just as Legolas went to raise his hand another warrior did and, immediately, from the patrol leader came a quick series of hand-signals; a language, learnt as trainees, now used in earnest.

All took to the trees, still silently, and followed those instructions.

‘At last!’ thought Legolas, ‘I will help defend our people!’

………..

You might patrol many times before you encountered an orc – although the spiders were an all too frequent hazard.  

But, as they neared the source of the sound, it was clear that Legolas had hit it lucky on his first tour of duty.  Although his father would doubtless not have described it thus!

The signal ‘wait’, and scouts went further forward.  Then the signal ‘fifteen to twenty yrch’.

He could feel his heart race, and purposely slowed it with deep breaths.

Finally the signal ‘prepare’.

Drawing an arrow from his quiver, he rejoiced at this chance to prove his worth.
 
………..

Legolas knew all about yrch in theory.  How tall, how broad, how unlike an elf an orc was.  But, even so, the reality still took him by surprise for a moment when they came into view.  

Some strode noisily, some shuffled, others walked with a swagger – their body language was of those who thought themselves either alone for miles, or invincible.  They talked amongst themselves with no care for concealment.
 
How could they be so careless when they walked in the forest of the elves?  

He loosed the arrow.  There was one orc who would never be so cocksure again.

………..

Legolas had no qualms about killing the yrch.  He carried out his assigned task, staying in the trees loosing arrow after arrow, with only satisfaction as each found its target.

But now he came down to the ground to help gather the corpses and see to their destruction, that they not defile the land further than they had already.  

And the smell of death hit him.  He wanted to retch, but would not let himself.

As if reading his mind his partner Galanthir turned Legolas away, pushed his head down, and said “Vomit, Legolas.  We all do the first time.”  

………..
 
“Vomit, Legolas,” Galanthir had said.  “We all do the first time.”  

But, even if everyone else in the patrol really had reacted the same way once, for years after that first encounter, and its embarrassing aftermath, Legolas avoided a repetition by eating nothing before any expected combat.

Galanthir, as his partner, clearly recognised this and quietly devised a routine to help.

But, on his second change of patrol, Legolas wondered if instructions now preceded him in writing as his new partner greeted him, after a melee, with the usual “I have made your toast, Legolas, do you want blackberry jam?”




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