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The Green Knight  by Le Rouret

Edlothiel, the name of Legolas’ mother, was taken (with permission) from PutterPatty’s story “E cared haniant tîn mîl” posted on this site, which I strongly recommend you read.



            When King Elessar and his Queen entered the Tent City, they were attended by a company of soldiers, clad in black and silver and bearing shining spears; also with them were Lord Faramir and Lady Éowyn.  All the folk of Osgiliath had come out to watch them pass and to cheer them, crying their names with joy; many felt the Grand Tournament would be made even greater by the presence of their king and queen.  Elessar was clothed in a black doublet figured in silver with the crowned, star-surmounted tree, and Undómiel eclipsed the moonlit sky with her luminous blue gown that trailed like faerie-wings behind her white shoulders.  Faramir wore black, as did Elessar, though there was no crown embroidered upon his breast, and Éowyn was clad in green, green as grass, and her hair was like sunlight upon a fresh spring meadow.  She wore no scarf, a reminder to her people that the Green Knight was her champion, and the folk about her remarked upon it, saying, “See!  The Lady of Emyn Arnen goes to meet with Lasgalen of Dale!”  Faramir heard the observations and glanced smiling upon his wife; Éowyn was pleased with the accolades and her eyes shone.

            As they passed through the Tent City various lords and their esquires ran out also to see them, standing amazed at the spectacle, and when it was whispered about the city that the King and his friends were going to sup with the Green Knight, many lords and nobles resolved anew to press their friendship upon the knight from Dale, thus strengthening their places in the courts.  Some of the knights wondered to each other what meaning there could be behind Lasgalen’s unwillingness to mingle with them, though he seemed able to draw within his circle King Elessar himself, and there was some muttering at this.  But Araval of Tarlang, whose esquire had become friendly with the Perian, set their hearts at ease by saying, “Fear not!  It is not out of hostile reasons the Green Knight hides his countenance from us; I have been assured by Hador, my esquire, that he has entered this tournament in secret for a mere jest, and that is why he veils himself so.  And the Perian further has assured Hador that when this Grand Tournament is wound up, he will uncloak, so that all may make his acquaintance freely.”  So the word went abroad throughout the Tent City of the friendship between the Green Knight and the king, and all marveled at this.

            Faramir arranged the soldiers about the entrance of the Green Knight’s tent so that none could disrupt them, and he told his captain Beregond:  “See to it that our meal with Lasgalen of Dale goes undisturbed, Captain.  And assure your men that though we shall be feasting and merrymaking into the night, as reward for tonight’s labours the King Elessar and I have decided they shall be relieved of their duties tomorrow, so that they may attend the festivities at their leisure.”  Beregond thanked him and withdrew, marshalling his men about the tent, and the steward and his companions approached the entrance.

            Gimli stood there, dressed in red and yellow, with a thick rope of gold about his neck, upon which there hung a tiny box cunningly worked over with mithril; his long beard was forked and braided and tucked into a magnificent gold belt.  He bowed deeply, smiling, and said:  “Hail King Elessar, Lord of Gondor!  And hail, Arwen Undómiel, Evenstar of your people!”  They bowed to him, and Gimli turned to Faramir and Éowyn:  “Hail, Lord and Lady of Emyn Arnen!   Blessed are we indeed who sojourn in your realm!”

            “Your tongue gets ever sweeter, Master Gimli!” laughed Éowyn, giving him a curtsey.  “Yet I thank you for your kind words.”

            Aragorn knelt and embraced him, saying, “You are fortunate, my friend, that I first approach you after I have conferred with my councilors.  I admit I was wroth with you, for allowing Lasgalen of Dale to endanger himself so.”

            “Well, be angry with me no longer, Aragorn,” said Gimli, waving it aside.  “And don’t lay any blame upon Lasgalen’s shoulders – it’s my fault, really; mine and the Hobbit’s.  But come in, come in!  Don’t stand out in the night air,” he said, holding aside the tent-flap and gesturing to them.  “Aragorn, you were ever indifferent to the elements, but I expected better of the ladies.”

            Laughing they entered the great tent, and once inside looked about with astonishment; the walls of the tent were richly tapestried in green and gold, the ceiling figured over with silver embroidered stars on a rich blue and red background, and many tassels and ropes hung from the corners and closed windows.  A large carven table stood in the middle of the room, hung with snowy cloth and set with white china and shining silver, upon which glowed many beeswax tapers set in ornately carved candlesticks.  In the center of the table was an enormous bowl of fruit, sitting upon a larger platter that held an assortment of cheeses encircling it.  There were six comfortable-looking chairs, much cushioned and padded, set about the table, and already many covered platters were placed upon the side-board by the western wall.  On the other side of the room, by the head of the table, was a tall pedestal, upon which sat a large silver ewer and some white cloths.   Above their heads, suspended from the center poles of the tent, was a massive chandelier made of cast silver and hung with crystals, in which burned many small oil lamps.              While they were gazing at this, and marveling that such luxury could be contained within a tent, a tall figure clad all in white rose from his place at the head of the table and said in a clear, merry voice:  “Welcome to the abode of the Green Knight!”

            “This is an astonishing welcome, indeed!” exclaimed Aragorn, looking about himself.  “Had I known I could live in such opulence within cloth walls, I would forever dispense with the stone ones!”

            Legolas laughed and came forward to embrace them, kissing them each in turn upon the forehead.  He also was dressed richly, his snow-white doublet glittering with gems and silver thread, and a crown of silver oak leaves upon his shining hair.  Faramir and Éowyn looked at him in amazement, for they had ever seen him in the green and brown of a woodsman, and not in the garb that befit the prince of an Elven realm.  But when he kissed Éowyn, she saw that her scarf was bound about his right arm below the shoulder, and she said,

            “So you are to be my champion indeed, friend Legolas!  I am glad; if my husband cannot joust, I will have no other champion besides you.”

            “Did you ever doubt, lady of Rohan?” smiled Aragorn.  “I could not have borne your vexation and would doubtless have capitulated eventually.”

            “I think you have more influence over Estel than I, Éowyn,” said Arwen with a laugh.  She reached up with one hand to touch Legolas’ circlet.  “Unless I am much mistaken, my friend, that is Edlothiel’s, is it not?”

            “It is,” said Legolas, taking the two ladies by the hands and leading them to the ewer.  “She gave it me before I departed, telling me to wear it should I find myself in noble company.”

            “And who are you, to argue with your mother?” asked Gimli, shaking his head.  “She would tell you to wear a bucket on your head and you would obey her.”

            “Nay, not a bucket,” answered Legolas, eyes twinkling.  “That would not be befitting her son.  She made to give me the crown of Oropher, but I objected, as it is large and quite heavy; and she made do with this.”  He touched the circlet lightly with the tips of his fingers; it was of wonderful make, even the veins of the leaves carved elaborately into the silver, each nut a nugget of opal, and with tiny gems speckled throughout.  He then laved the ladies’ hands in the warm, lavender-scented water, wiping them dry with a cloth, and repeated this for both Elessar and Faramir.  Then he set Arwen upon his left and Éowyn upon his right, saying, “We are a little short of women in our household, so with everyone’s permission I shall cosset myself between the two ladies, that they may pamper me and make me feel indulged.  Aragorn, you sit beside Éowyn; Faramir beside Arwen, and Gimli between you, so that you two men will not fight over your wives, when you argue over which one is the fairest.”

            “It would be difficult to say,” said Faramir, looking at the three seated before him.  Arwen and Legolas’ skin was as translucent as abalone, and his wife’s golden hair was so rich a color it made Legolas’ fair locks seem almost silver.  “With you between them, Legolas, it is as though three of the four seasons in their allure settle themselves to dine – Éowyn is summer, Arwen is spring, and you, Legolas, are winter.”

            “Leaving me to be autumn, I suppose!” said Gimli good-naturedly.  “Well, that’s what we get, my friends, for surrounding ourselves with Elves and beautiful women – poetry and a delayed meal.”

            They laughed, and Legolas clapped his hands together; at once the Hobbit, dressed now in new green breeches and a rich waistcoat with gold buttons, came in with a jeroboam of wine.

            “Yes, Master?” he asked.

            “We are all seated, Bandobras,” said Legolas, smiling at him.  “You should pour the wine now.”

            “Oh!  Right away,” cried the Hobbit eagerly, jumping forward with the bottle.  He tipped the neck down into the crystal goblets with not a little difficulty; it was a heavy jeroboam and he was but a small person, yet he managed it without spilling a single red drop.  When he came to Aragorn he said:  “Glad you could make it, sir!  And thanks again for passing along that invitation; that was a real time-saver.”

            Legolas’ face changed color, and Gimli lowered his head into his hand.  “Bandy!” he exclaimed angrily; “did you send King Elessar errand-running for you?  And you must address him as ‘your Majesty,’ not ‘sir’!”

            Bandobras drew back anxiously, eyebrows puckered.  “Well, I did,” he admitted, casting Legolas a fearful look.  “It seemed better than paying a lad to do it, since he was right there and going to see them anyway.  And I slipped up on the ‘sir;’ he came hidden-like to the tent earlier and I couldn’t call him ‘Majesty’ then.”  He looked with pleading eyes at Legolas, his lower lip starting to tremble.  “I – I didn’t mean any harm, Master.”

            Gimli’s face darkened and he started to splutter, but Legolas left his chair, got down on one knee, and took the Hobbit by the shoulder.  “Never mind that, Bandobras!” he said soothingly, taking the jeroboam from him.  “I am sure Aragorn doesn’t mind; after all he is called ‘Strider’ by your uncle, and has been king but a few years, so he is not yet used to the subtleties of courtly etiquette.  Go into the kitchen and see to the soup ere it burns.”

            “Yes, Master,” sniffed the Hobbit, wiping his eyes and scuttling away.  Legolas himself began to pour the wine, and Gimli said, glowering:

            “You spoil that urchin, Legolas, with all that pandering!  He ought to know better.”

            “He is very young,” soothed Legolas, filling his glass with the purple-red vintage.  “He has not yet had the experience that we have.  And remember the Little Folk are not used to all this formality, Gimli.”

            “That halfling will be the death of me,” groaned the Dwarf.  “Sending a king to deliver a message to a steward!  And he ought to have sent those invitations this morning, and not waited until after the joust.”

            “It matters not; our guests are here, and all is well,” smiled Legolas, and the others saw that Legolas was quietly laughing, not offended at all by his esquire’s impropriety.

            “He ought to be learning how to act around the nobility!” fumed Gimli.  “He is still rough and unrefined, and speaks with – “

            “Come, come!  Let us not quarrel,” said Legolas equably, setting the bottle onto the table and sitting in his chair.  “After all, Gimli, had it not been for your advice – “

            “Yes, yes, I know,” the dwarf grumbled.  “All I’m saying is that Bandy should show a little more respect to his betters.”

            “He is very considerate to me,” Legolas protested, smiling.

            “Of course he is considerate to you; he thinks of you as one of the Valar!” said Gimli.  “It is the rest of us mortals that could use a little respect!”  He looked over at Arwen, who was laughing with the rest, and bowed in his seat.  “I meant nothing by that,” he apologized, “it is just that this Hobbit sets my teeth on edge.”

            There was a clatter of curtain-rings, and Bandy entered, carrying a smoking tureen.  “Got it just right!” he panted under the weight.  He set the tureen down and began ladling the creamy concoction into the bowls.  “I wasn’t sure about that herb you suggested, Master, but I have to admit it’s given the soup quite a nice flavor.  Hope you like it thick, my lords and ladies,” he added to the assembly; “I had a taste for thick tonight, since there’s fish on the menu.”

            Gimli spluttered a little at this, but Legolas interrupted him firmly.  “That is admirable, Bandobras,” he said, earning a beaming grin from his esquire.  “It smells superb; I am sure we shall all enjoy it.”  The passing of the soup occurred without much incident, save Gimli’s hiss:  “Ladies first!  Ladies first!” and Bandobras became so flustered he took Faramir’s soup from him and gave it to Arwen.  When he returned to the kitchen, Legolas looked at his friend in exasperation.

            “Gimli, it truly does not matter to me whether he serves the soup properly or not!  Is it not enough he has gone through all this effort and great labour to prepare such a feast for us and our guests?”

            “It was his own idea to travel thus,” said Gimli, gesturing to the tent and all its fine trappings.  “I thought it would have been better to have but one waggon with only modest lodgings and food,” he explained to the guests; “Bandy was having none of that, saying it was unfitting for a prince to travel so modestly.  And so he has practically beggared us – “

            “Oh, no, not that,” laughed Legolas, but Gimli continued as though he had not spoken: “– purchasing a tent fit for a king, indeed an emperor, and horses and mules and wains, and the most exotic and expensive foods – “

            “You yourself admitted it was a refreshing change to eat so well, and Bandobras is an estimable cook,” said Legolas, still laughing.

            “And besides, with such splendid and highly crafted armour, it would look strange to travel otherwise,” broke in Faramir quickly.  “Think, friend Dwarf, how it would seem to the other knights, to have a lord arrive on a sad old horse, dragging behind him a patched and dirty tent, yet be arrayed in such fine Dwarvish armour?  They would whisper that he had spent all his money on his cuirass and left none for his servants.”

            Gimli appeared to consider that, and Legolas looked at Faramir gratefully.  “It is true; I had not seen it that way,” the Dwarf admitted gruffly, appeased by the steward’s praise of the armour; “and anyway, Legolas, you are right; Bandy is a superlative cook.”

            “Thank you!” said Bandy entering, having heard this last phrase.  “I hope you’re done with the soup, then, because the turbot is done to a turn and you must eat it right away or it will be too dry.”

            Fortunately for Legolas and his guests they were indeed finished with the soup, and Aragorn said as Bandobras took up the bowls:  “It was very good, as you promised, son of Reginard!  I look forward to the next course.”

            “I’m not so sure it’ll be to your liking, sir – your Majesty,” said Bandobras apologetically; “I’m not used to cooking turbot; it’s bass for me every time – bass or trout.”  He balanced the bowls precariously upon his forearms and backed out of the room.

            The turbot was outstanding, despite Bandy’s deprecations, and following that was the casserole filled with chicken and vegetables (“Wanted to put in turnips, my lords and ladies, but it seems they don’t grow ‘em here – had to put in carrots and onions instead”), then a roast leg of goat delicately seasoned (“Odd herbs you grow here, your Majesties; I was looking for some fennel but had to do with this anise-seed”), and finally a beautiful subtlety in the shape of a flower, studded with candied fruits and garnished with sweet double cream (“No, my lady, thank you, I didn’t make this, bought it from the baker this morning”).  Under the covered platters were loaves of fresh white bread (“Good baker, that one; but I have to bribe him something terrible to get the best rolls”) and bowls of olives swimming in brine (“Odd things, aren’t they?  Like little rocks with tasty meat around them”) and, to Gimli’s disgust, stewed mushrooms (“Isn’t a meal without ‘em, you know”).  And ever the guests and their hosts ate and drank, and smiled at the Hobbit’s comments, until finally sated with good food and wine, Legolas called Bandy into the room.

            “Little One, you have acquitted yourself splendidly,” he said, putting his arm about the Hobbit’s shoulders and kissing the crown of his curly head.  “I am pleased with you and your efforts, and so are my guests!  Now, my Bandobras, to a more important topic; have you yet eaten?  I would not have you go hungry while I gorge myself upon your food.”

            “Yes, Master!” said the Hobbit, eyes shining with pleasure.  “Gobbled each course right up while you were eating in here – I’m a good fast eater, you know.”

            “Excellent!” said Legolas.  “We are going to sit upon the couches and talk together of our kingdoms and fiefdoms, economics and alliances, and such things befitting people of our rank; you shall sit upon your stool, when you have finished emptying the table, and attend to us, that you may learn a little of the tasks and charges of the nobility, and so improve your knowledge.”

            “May I sit next to you on the couch, Master, please?” begged Bandobras, taking Legolas’ long white hand in his own little brown paws.  “Oh, please, let me sit next to you, and lean up against you while I listen to you talk!  I won’t interrupt you, I won’t, I won’t, not even once, I promise!”

            “Very well,” said Legolas, smiling down upon the Hobbit.  “We shall retire us to the far corner, where lie the divans, and begin; the sooner you complete your task, the sooner you may sit beside me.”

            “I’ll be quick as I can!” squeaked the Hobbit, vanishing in a flash, and soon the clank and clatter of dishes being hurriedly stacked and moved came from the table.  Legolas led his guests to the eastern corner of the tent, where there were set upon the ground several soft low couches, festooned with embroidered and tasseled cushions, resting upon a thick soft rug of great magnificence.  Several lamps swung from the tent poles, letting forth a pleasing fragrance as they burned the sweet-smelling oils, and the corner was filled with warm orange light.

            As they sat upon the couches Gimli muttered to Legolas, “What about the dishes?  Oughtn’t he to be washing up?” and Legolas replied:  “He has hired a young girl from the neighboring village to help; she is outside in the kitchen-tent now, and will clean up for him.  I feel it is far more important to his education as my esquire for him to be in here with us, attending to our words, and observing the behavior of courtly people.”

            “Well,” conceded Gimli reluctantly, “so long as she lets my nippers and tongs alone, I suppose that will do.”

            There was in the midst of the settees a low table, upon which sat six silver flagons and a decanter of wine.  While his guests made themselves comfortable, Legolas poured out the wine and handed it round, saying, “Drink, and be glad, my friends; war and want are behind us, and now is the time of merrymaking!”

            They began to speak of Thranduil’s loan, and the benefits that would arise from it, taking especial pleasure in the planning of the flotilla to be built, the ships and their various attributes; when Bandobras came in, flushed and eager, Aragorn and Legolas were debating the advantages of booms fore and aft, and the placement of sails, and the construction of the mizenmasts.   He crawled over the cushions at Legolas’ feet, worming himself inside the circle of his Master’s arm, and leaned upon the Elf’s jeweled chest with a happy sigh.  Faramir and Éowyn watched with fascination the subtle burrowing of the small creature, and when Legolas dropped a hand to absently play with his esquire’s brown curls, Éowyn smiled, for Bandobras’ eyes were drooping, and it did not seem as though he would gain much from the conversation.  Yet true to his promise he did not interrupt them, not even once, mostly because within five minutes from resting upon his Master’s lap he had drifted into a contented sleep.


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