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74
Fighting Enemies

For Jay of Lasgalen, who wanted stories featuring battling twins, and for Cairistiona, who loves Aragorn as much as I do. May not show them off to their best advantage, but I do hope this amuses! I'm with Arwen on this one! Heh! And thanks as ever to RiverOtter for the beta!


~~~

Fighting Enemies


“Then Elladan turned to the orc on his left while I turned on the one attacking me from my right, and we were fighting back to back for a time,” Elrohir explained to his apparently fascinated audience. “I was ever so pleased to see the head of his orc cleaved in twain, while I admit that the blood spilt out upon the ground before me was all black, and then there was brain matter....”

Bilbo Baggins, who had been a member of the household of the Last Homely House for some sixteen years now, was no longer showing the gusto for his meal he’d displayed when they’d sat down together. In fact, he’d pushed his plate of trifle away from himself. Arwen, who was glaring at the second-born of her two brothers from down the table, recognized the signs. Certainly Elladan and Elrohir appeared to revel so in the destruction they brought upon those orcs they found in the passes of the Misty Mountains that they thought nothing of describing in great, gory detail every blow they’d administered; and not even the prodigious appetite of a Hobbit could endure all of the images such tellings could conjure.

“I made a thrust to the orc’s midsection, and its entrails....”

Arwen felt her own stomach clench, and saw that Bilbo was turning decidedly grey. “And where is Adar?” she interrupted.

“Seeing to Elladan’s arm,” Elrohir answered promptly. “One of them managed to slice his right forearm with its scimitar. It did not appear to be poisoned, as there’s been no adverse swelling or green putrid matter from it. However, Ada wished to check it himself and assure that the stitches I put in are sufficient.”

It was at that moment that the door opened to admit the Master of Rivendell and his first-born son. Arwen was grateful to note that Elladan did not appear to be in any distress, and there was no sign of blood or drainage on the neat bandage that peeked out his loose sleeve. Seeing that he was not favoring the arm, she asked, “Then the cut was not particularly deep?”

He looked at her with some surprise, as if he wasn’t certain what it was she was asking about, then looked down at the strip of linen and shrugged. “No, more an annoyance than anything else, really. Although I must say that I responded by cutting the creature’s arm quite off him, just before I clove him in two. I found it quite satisfying to realize I’d relieved the thing of its liver----”

There was a gulping noise from the Hobbit’s seat, and suddenly Bilbo was rising. “If you’ll excuse me,” he gasped as he fled the room.

“Must you have such graphic discussions at meals?” Elrond asked his progeny.

“What?” demanded Elrohir, straightening in his seat. “When we must deal with orcs on a daily basis, what else would you expect to hear about?”

The door opened again, and Erestor leaned into the room to announce, “Estel has just arrived, and----”

He had no chance to say more as Elrond’s beloved mortal foster son pushed past him into the room, still dressed in his worn riding leathers. “Ada!” he said as Elrond rose to embrace him. “I’ve just returned from finding the creature Gollum--and what a chase he led me, and right through the Dead Marshes! Caught him trying to fish one of the apparent corpses out of one of the fetid pools in hopes of eating it--almost lost my own last meal--or I would have, had I eaten within the last day and a half.”

Arwen, having risen to embrace him next, pulled back, her nose wrinkled. “And you smell as if you had come directly here from that pool you were just describing.”

“Oh, but I stayed a few days in Thranduil’s court--the thing bit me, and my hand festered some.” He held out a scarred wrist in testimony to the experience. “I vow, its teeth were rotting in his mouth, and his breath was as bad as the miasma of the marshes themselves! It’s no wonder the wound went septic, I suppose. And the journey back--ran into several troupes of orcs and had a wraith’s own time killing off that last lot. One just refused to die--I stabbed its shoulder, ran my sword through its foul abdomen, cut off one arm--finally had to behead it fully before it finally fell over and twitched for a few moments before it went still. Blood and gore all over the place--looked as if the two of you had been fighting there,” he added to his Elven brothers.

Fighting the rise of her own gorge, Arwen retreated to her chair. Elladan and Elrohir were immediately offering him advice on what he ought to have done with the stubborn orc. “Should have cut it off at the knees,” Elladan suggested, while Elrohir was suggesting a particular method he favored for disemboweling the creatures. Bilbo, who’d just started to reenter the room, turned and fled again, his hands clapped determinedly over his mouth.

Suddenly Arwen had had enough. “Be quiet!” she thundered in a manner that brought back to mind the fact she was the only daughter of Celebrían, formerly of Lothlórien, and granddaughter to the Lady Galadriel. “That is quite enough! When your talk is enough to drive a very Hobbit off its feed, it is time to put an end to it! Now, the three of you--Aragorn, go and get a swift bath, then put on old training clothes and meet me in the guest wing. You two----” She glared at her brothers now. “You two--training clothes, and meet me in the guest wing in a quarter of an hour, or I swear I will seek you out wherever you might hide, and slowly and painfully remove your spleens--and our adar can tell you he has seen me do just that for less provocation before! We have a number of guests who will be here soon enough, and the three of you will do the lion’s share of cleaning out the cobwebs!”

She kept them at it for three days before she released Aragorn to fetch Bilbo’s younger kinsman from the borders of the Shire.

“Don’t know why you’re favoring him over your own flesh and blood,” grumbled Elladan.

“Just think of it as good practice for your next encounter with the orcs,” she said sweetly.

“And just how do you know we’ll need all these rooms cleaned and put to rights?” demanded Elrohir.

She glared at him imperiously. “Am I or am I not our father’s daughter and our grandmother’s granddaughter? Do you think I do not know a measure of foreknowledge of my own?”

“But to be having to beat out window hangings and rugs....”

“Just imagine it’s the head of the next orc you meet that’s too stubborn to die!” she suggested sternly. “Now, you’ve missed a spider’s web--right over there! I won’t have any of Ungoliant’s get in this, our father’s house. Now, get back to work!”

“At least,” confided Bilbo with a small smile as he watched, “a Hobbit’s been able to eat without feeling sick to his stomach for the past few days!”

She patted his shoulder with a feeling of satisfaction.



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