Gosh, I'm so sorry for the delay getting this chapter out! My muse left me for a bit on this one. But the good news is that I've managed to update this fic AND my other LotR WIP at the same time. :D
*cough*It's called Farseeing, go read it.*cough* Go read it, for serious. Please? Reviewers will be generously showered with cookies.
Anonymous review replies
Guest: Haha! Well, Sues aren't really known for having any personality, sooo…maybe that's why they don't get shown in many other stories? The Sues are starting to get personalities as they become less Sue-y. :) Thank you for your lovely words!
Anthi35: I wish I'd been able to make your request to update soon a reality! I hope this chapter will make up for it. :) Thank you for your review.
Kath: I'm glad you like it! Thank you!
That's Not What He Meant When He Said "Boot Camp"
Legolas' prediction concerning the weather came true – and it was probably because he had weird Elven voodoo powers of prophecy. Or so his devoted followers believed. It began raining mid-afternoon and didn't stop until a half-Maia girl climbed atop the battlements at around midnight and screamed at the clouds to "GO AWAY!"
Oddly enough, it actually worked, much to Aragorn's amusement and Legolas' dismay. He would need to find a way to stop all the magic-workers in his program from…well, working magic. There was one way, he supposed, but—
He gritted his teeth against the idea. Not yet. Surely he could find a way to keep it alive and well whilst still sundering those members of his training group from their very much non-Middle-Earth-compatible talents.
Well, that was a matter to be dealt with another time. Today was the beginning of Camping in the Wild. A smile spread across his features. A chance to finally escape into nature, feeling the deep thrumming of the earth beneath his feet, walking through his beloved trees. He loved camps!
Apparently not everyone was as eager as he was to go slushing around the Pelennor Fields dragging heavy bedrolls and supplies on their backs, though.
For starters, the day dawned strangely. The aforementioned half-Maia (her name was Flamedancer) was of almost insufferable good cheer and in her world the skies always reflected it back with brilliant blue and endless sunshine. Bellowing at the clouds the night before had ensured that every cloud had dispersed.
However, the emo girl Ashlee Assassination of 2007 had other plans. It turned out that she was an "elemental magick witch!1" and, though she had little control of her unexpected powers at all, her teenage angstfests over anything that looked too happy were enough to bring on a sudden cessation of sunshine and the coming of deep night.
Confused, Flamedancer sang forth the daylight and the sun again, summoning it from behind the clouds and dispersing them with the power of Maia Magic. This state of affairs lasted approximately thirty seconds before a keening wail arose in response and gloomy grey rolled in to blanket the sky.
The denizens of Minas Tirith glanced up uncertainly at the odd weather, suddenly unsure as to whether they were supposed to be out of bed or not. Howls of outrage at disturbed beauty sleep poured out of The Whittled Wench, swiftly bringing down the wrath of Erchon the prickly innkeeper.
The sun bounced up and down in the sky ridiculously; clouds swam in and out; night followed day over and over within minutes. And ethereal singing warred with screamed Escape the Fate lyrics to the point that the King of Rohan finally lost his temper.
Legolas hurried after Éomer as soon as it was mentioned that he had left, and found the tall Rohir holding both Flamedancer and Ashlee at sword-point in the middle of a street. Right behind the King stood Erchon, clutching two-handed his fearsome candlestick as a weapon.
(He was an innkeeper. That candlestick was pretty well the only weapon he needed, and it was mostly used to round up rowdy drunks.)
"Éomer." Legolas' voice was deliberately calm.
"What?" hissed the King of Rohan. His arm was nearly quivering.
"These are my guests. You must—"
"I have had enough of your guests, Thranduillion. They have no propriety, they keep everyone awake at all hours of the night, and now they are beginning to change the weather only because they can."
It was a pretty bad start to the morning.
The other thing was the boots. Everyone had been issued with boots by Lord Legolas himself upon assessment, and everyone had forgotten about them until this morning, when they all started hauling them out from under their beds.
Notwithstanding the nascent beginnings of common sense and actual character development that Legolas had been seeing in his guests recently, several of the girls – and a few of the guys with a fabulous flair for fashion – began to loudly complain.
"Not brown! Ewwwww!11!"
"But these don't go with my sparkly tunic!"
"OMG THESE BUCKLES ARE HIDEOUS!"
Clearly it was necessary for Legolas to kindly remind everybody that an expedition into the wild would result in their clothes – including the boots – being spattered with dirt and mud. So perhaps it was fortunate that they had not been issued with anything fancier.
There was a grumbling consensus, and with that, preparations were underway.
As Faramir came hurrying down from the Citadel with Iorlas and a few other guards in tow, he reflected with a frown that he hadn't done much camping since he became Prince of Emyn Arnen. There were a lot of things, in fact, that he hadn't done since becoming Prince of Emyn Arnen. Uncertainty gripped him as he realised that during the long nights he would be protected only by a thin flap of tent material from the squeeing hordes.
"Aragorn says it would be best for me to accompany you," he said resignedly when he reached the inn. Legolas happily clasped his arm.
"I am glad. Do not look so forlorn. Your wife will be with us, after all."
Faramir made a face of mock horror and Éowyn swatted at his arm in passing. "Behave," she said warningly.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her close. "Make me," he replied nonchalantly, kissing her temple. Letting her go, he watched as the mayhem around him began to slowly settle into some kind of organised pattern.
The sight was an amusing one. Scowling and sulking, characters slowly slouched down the steps of the The Whittled Wench, already looking as though they had been hiking for days. Among them was Isannaleebelle Jones/Pithien the Tall, flipping her golden hair haughtily and huffing as she tried to get her admittedly ill-fitting tunic to sit in a manner that would show her figure to the best advantage. Her sister Gertie looked uncommonly smug.
Bill-Galad the Elven king (of whom the harpers hardly sing) was wailing woefully and strumming his lyre in demonstration of his displeasure. He was wandering here and there, occasionally letting out riffs that scared flocks of city pigeons off the road. The camp did seem to be providing some new song matter, however, and his wordless song eventually ended up gaining some lyrics.
"Into the dust and wild he went
And trailed about with all his folk
And everywhere he went they sang,
'It's Bill-Galad the Elven bloke!'"
Among those who looked less annoyed about camping and even excited about the possibility of showing off their mad skillz were Karliah McKirkfitzgeraldpatrick and a girl whom Faramir hadn't worked with much yet. He believed her name might have been something like…Skumly? Skyful?
"Skyelight Josephine Liríel Andromeda Galadriliel!" cried Éomer, watching in horror and clutching at his heart as the girl gracefully fell to the ground. The arrow that pierced her shoulder might well have pierced his own heart.
Around her was a pile of dead Orcs. She had fought bravely.
He fell to his knees beside her. "Oh, Skyelight Josephine Liríel Andromeda Galadriliel!" he sobbed, using her full title out of loveitude and loveiness.
"I should have protected you," he whispered, cradling her head in his lap and letting hot tears flow down his manly face. "I should have saved you."
"You already have," she replied with a wan smile. "With you I have known such joy. Remember that night at the waterfall, where all barriers and clothing between us melted away as the winter snows and I first knew what it was to be a woman as your —"
Faramir couldn't help a grin. It probably wouldn't be wise to let his volatile brother-in-law know what activities he had apparently managed to get up to with this Skyelight person.
His warrior's reflexes suddenly tensed just in time for him to duck from an explosion of glitter. In a bizarre transformation a leanly-muscled young man nearby deflated (almost with audible raspberry noises) into a skinny teenaged boy.
"What—" he began in shock before Legolas cut him off.
"Impressive, is it not? The more of those explosions the better."
An hour later, a rather gloomy cavalcade headed by Legolas, Faramir, Gimli and Éowyn trooped out of the looming gates of Minas Tirith. The mud that feet sank into as soon as they set foot outside the city caused no small amount of despairing shrieks, which Legolas cheerily ignored as the open sky and rolling fields beckoned him.
"Did I mention I love camps?"
Apologies that this chapter was kind of on the short side!
My little sorting hat chose Yuki Suou's magnificently-named Sue Skyelight Josephine Liríel Andromeda Galadriliel Rogers for this chapter. You go, Yuki!
Thank you for reading, and if you have time to drop me a review, it definitely won't go unappreciated. :)