Why squirrels don’t belong in palaces or, how Legolas became an archer …… by Evil~Shieldmaiden
One beautiful spring morning, Legolas decided to go exploring in the forest surrounding the palace. Bearing in mind his Father’s warnings about Orcs, and other wild creatures, he was careful to stay within easy calling distance of his father’s guards.
Walking around, musing about the lack of “something” in his life, he heard a soft rustling in some nearby bushes and, curious, went to see what it was. “I hope it’s not one of Ada’s evil creatures,” he said as he carefully approached the area where he had heard the sound. Bending over to peer in the bushes, and struggling to see through the tangle of twigs and leaves, he heard more rustling and leapt back out of reach (he hoped). “I don’t think it can be anything large,” he thought. “Surely I would see it by now if it was.”
Finally, getting up the courage to approach again, he quickly bent over and thrust his head into the tangle. At first he didn’t see anything, but as he peered closer, he spotted a small squirrel that had become caught up in some briars. It chittered angrily at him, and tried to bite him when he attempted to free it. “I wonder what has you so angry,” he said, removing his vest so he could use it to free and pick up the wee creature. “I can’t wait to show you to Ada. I wonder if he’ll allow me to keep you?”
Carefully concealing the animal in his now torn vest, he casually walked past the guards who paid him scant attention, except for the Captain of the Guard who regarded him suspiciously. “What do you have there?” he asked. “Ah …. nothing really,” replied Legolas. He persisted: “Why aren’t you wearing your vest?” “I tore it in some brambles and it needs to be fixed,” Legolas replied, trying not to appear anxious, and hoping the concealed animal kept silent.
He quickly entered the palace and swiftly carried his new pet to his room. Looking around for a place to put his new pet, he found a box he had been given to store some of his smaller toys. “This is perfect,” he thought as placed the squirrel in its new home. Just then, the bell rang for dinner so he closed the box and went down stairs.
After dinner, his father had several chores for him which he carried out with increasing impatience as he was anxious to get back to his room. When he finally made it back, he eagerly went to the box and threw it open. It was empty. For a moment he was nonplussed until he noticed a hole had been chewed through the bottom of the box allowing the creature to escape. “Oh no!” he exclaimed. “I wonder where it’s gone.” Hearing a sudden commotion coming from his father’s throne room, he crept back down the stairs, with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Arriving at the throne room he found his father’s Captain doing a peculiar dance while his father looked on with a mixture of perplexity and amusement on his face. “Is something wrong, Captain?” his father finally inquired. The Captain looked up at his King with a flushed face, all the while continuing to paw at his clothing. “I’m not sure, sire. I was in a hurry and wasn’t paying close attention but, when I walked past the stairs, I thought I felt something climb my leg and disappear under my cuirass. I think …. no, I’m sure something’s crawling around under it.”
As Legolas cringed in the shadows, his father, overcome with curiosity, helped the Captain to remove the armoured plate. Sure enough, as it came off a small squirrel jumped to the floor, chittering angrily at the two of them. “You seem to have acquired a friend, Captain,” said his father, trying desperately not to laugh at the scandalised look on the warrior’s face. “I wonder where that came from,” the annoyed Elf muttered. “I bet I can guess,” said his King. “Legolas! Stop lurking in the shadows and explain the meaning of this!”
Legolas crept slowly out of the shadows and stood quietly before them. As he stood there, the squirrel ran from the room and, seeing the open doors of the palace, raced to freedom. With tears in his eyes he looked up as his father. “I’m sorry Ada. I didn’t mean anything by it. I just wanted a friend of my own.” He father studied him for a moment but said nothing. Deep in thought, he absently sent his son back to his room where he spent the rest of the day mourning the loss of his pet.
The following day when Legolas appeared for breakfast, he found his father and the Captain seated at the table. As he sat down, they looked at him. He figured he was in trouble and decided he should speak first. “I’m sorry, Captain. I didn’t expect the squirrel to run up your leg, and crawl under your chest plate. I had put him in my toy box but he chewed a hole in it and got out.” The Captain threw back his head and laughed before replying: “That’s alright little one, I know you didn’t mean for things to happen they way they did. I was more surprised than anything.”
Legolas was relieved the Captain wasn’t angry with him and he looked at his father hopefully: “Ada, can I get him back?” His father shook his head. “No, Legolas, wild creatures don’t deserve to live in palaces.” His heart broke again. But father continued gently: “I’m so sorry my son, it’s been a long time since I was young and I’d forgotten what it was like to be an only elfling in a large palace full of adults.”
“I’ve asked the Captain to arrange some archery lessons for you so you can meet some elflings your own age.” Legolas peered into his father’s face with rising excitement. “Archery lessons! I’ve always wanted archery lessons! When can I start?” He shifted eagerly in his chair. His father smiled: “The Captain has agreed to take you to the archery butts this afternoon so you can begin your lessons today.”
Trying to eat a breakfast he could scarcely swallow due to his excitement, he was suddenly struck by a thought that sent his spirits plummeting again. “Ada,” he said looking glumly at his father, “I don’t have a bow and arrows.” His father smiled again: “Go and check your toy box.”
He leapt off his chair and flew up the stairs to his room where he flung open his toy box . Inside, he found the most beautiful bow and quiver full of arrows he had ever seen. It was perfect! He grabbed them and raced back down the stairs to the dining hall where he unceremoniously flung himself onto his father’s lap and wrapped his arms around his neck.
“They are perfect, Ada. And just my size too!”. Holding his son close, his father laughed: “Yes well, they were just my size when my Ada gave them to me. I kept them over the years hoping that one day I would have a son who would cherish them as much as I had. I only hope you become a better archer than I did. For some reason, I was always better with a sword.”
“I will, Ada! I will! I’ll be the best archer in Mirkwood! I’ll be the best archer in Middle-earth!” His father hugged him tightly and set him on his feet. “I’m sure you will Legolas. I’m sure you will.”