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Reflections from the Paradise of Elves  by Bodkin

The Paradise of Elves – Part 71: The Secret Tongue of the Dwarves

The tinkle of small fragments of glass seeking the flagged hallway echoed in the silence before Elladan expressed himself forcefully in guttural and rolling Khuzdul.

‘Naneth will not be pleased,’ Elrohir observed.  ‘She was quite fond of those glasses – I believe Daernaneth’s Adar gave them to her.’

‘Make me feel better about it, why not?’ Elladan exclaimed bitterly.

‘We had best clear away the shards before your son comes and steps on them.’ Legolas turned away from Elladan with a slightly puzzled expression on his face.  ‘I am sure you will be able to make it up to Lady Celebrían – but if Ellanthir gets glass embedded in his foot, Miriwen will make you very sorry.’

The fragments, the three elves discovered, had managed to spread themselves liberally across the hall – and, no matter how many they picked up, there still seemed to be more.  Elladan muttered another of his favourite phrases as a tiny sliver of glass sliced his finger and added a sprinkling of blood to his favourite blue tunic.

‘It is no good,’ his brother decided.  ‘I will get Mothwen to send someone to clear the rest – you two go into the library, so you do not have to listen to her reproaches.  I will join you shortly.’

‘I have never quite understood how females manage to tidy up mess so effectively,’ Legolas admitted as he sprawled on the sofa.  ‘I try, if Elerrina leaves me in charge – but it never looks the same.’

‘They like doing it really,’ Elladan said absently.  ‘It makes them feel needed.’

‘Miriwen would make you pay for that comment, too.’

They looked up as Elrohir pushed the door open with his shoulder and entered.  ‘We have been relegated to the elflings’ glasses,’ he grinned.  ‘But fortunately, we are still permitted the wine.’

Legolas sipped appreciatively, before placing his glass carefully in the middle of one of the small tables that were scattered round the room.  ‘I have been meaning to ask you, Elladan,’ he remarked.  ‘Why do you lapse into odd bursts of Khuzdul when you are under stress?  It seems an odd thing to do.’

His friend raised his eyebrows.  ‘It is such a good language for conveying fury and frustration,’ he said, before rolling one of his favourite phrases over his tongue.  ‘Does it not just say it all?’

After a brief hesitation, Legolas agreed.  ‘It does, indeed, my friend,’ he said, managing to keep his voice steady.

Elrohir frowned at him.

‘I like this one, too.’  Elladan closed his eyes and gave voice to another expression full of throat-clearing consonants.   ‘It sounds delightfully vindictive.’

Legolas’s shoulders shook slightly.

Elrohir looked from his friend to his brother. 

‘Where did you learn to say that?’ Legolas asked.  ‘The dwarves are not generally very inclined to teach outsiders any of their language.’

Elladan frowned.  ‘It was some while ago,’ he said.  ‘We encountered dwarves on the Great West Road when we were journeying for Adar – to Mithlond, I believe.  We travelled together for a while.’  He grinned.  ‘I think they found our presence rather an irritation, actually.’

‘I suspect they did,’ Legolas agreed.

‘We taught them a few phrases of Sindarin,’ Elrohir recalled.  ‘I wondered for a while whether they were surprised by the reaction they got when they tried to use them.’  He shrugged. ‘It seemed funny at the time,’ he added.  ‘We were very young and foolish.’

‘Among dwarves who travel,’ Legolas observed carefully, ‘there are usually one or two with a reasonable grasp of Sindarin.  They tend not to speak it – they prefer it if the elves they meet think them ignorant.  They find they learn a lot that way.’

A faint flush of colour stained Elrohir’s face.  ‘You mean . . . ?’ he asked.

‘Oh yes,’ Legolas nodded.  ‘I think I can assure you that they knew what you were doing.’  He grinned wickedly.  ‘Although you, it seems, did not see through their – er – willingness to teach you some words of the secret tongue.’

Elladan closed his eyes.  ‘But Gimli taught you?’ he said in a rather hollow voice.

‘He taught me to recognise various insults,’ Legolas corrected him.  ‘He did not want me nodding agreeably to smiling dwarves who were making abusive comments about me and my race.’ He paused to control himself. ‘And I have spent enough time among dwarves to learn more than they expected.’  He hesitated.  ‘You really do not want your offspring even thinking about using some of those phrases, Elladan,’ he said. 

 ‘What do they mean?’ Elrohir asked hollowly.

Leaning forward and dropping his voice to a murmur, Legolas illuminated them.  The twins paled.

‘If you ever, and I mean ever, tell anyone, Legolas, that I have spent the last two thousand years informing everyone that I want to be a dwarf-maiden’s lapdog I will never forgive you!’ Elladan spoke from the heart.

Legolas grinned.  ‘I will consider your request, my friend,’ he said.  ‘Although, rest assured that it is an image that will live in my mind for ever!’

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