And the sky full of stars: Part III
by: Jen

"Take him to my house." She yelled as they entered the gates. The boys carried him through the small but dense forest, past many tiny thatched roof houses. Women, children, and the old lined the dirt path staring wide-eyed at the elf and dwarf as they passed by.

The boys carried Legolas into a small thatch roofed house. It was near the furthest wall of the forest valley where the mountain rose steeply behind them.

Gimli followed her into the house. She lit a lantern. "I am Elesia, I guess you'd call me the mayor." She said with a slight laugh.

Legolas said from the couch on which he lay, "I am Legolas Greenleaf."

Gimli said, "I am Gimli son of Gloin." He bowed.

"You are safe here. As safe as anyone can be with orcs around." She said. "I am sorry for your accident. But it will be healed. Old Rose is a great healer."

No sooner had she finished the sentence than Old Rose barged into the room.

"What is this nonsense the boys are talking about? An elf and a dwarf. I think everyone has lost their minds. I haven't seen an dwarf in 40 years and an elf inů." the old woman stopped, seeing Gimli standing proudly by the fire. She saw Legolas and gasped. The room fell into silence.

"Rose. He's been injured." She said.

Taking action seemed to jar her out of her trance and Old Rose took control of the situation.

"One of those damn traps no doubt." She marched over and took a look at the ankle. Her irritating voice being the opposite of her gentle hands as she inspected Legolas's wound.

"It will have to be cleaned and stitched." She said. "I need hot water."

She barked out the orders to Gimli who bowed low and went to get water.

"Elesia, unlace his shoe while I round up my supplies." She said and left the room before Elesia could answer.

Elesia pulled up a stool and sat down beside the couch. She took his foot and place it in her lap and began unlacing his tall elvish boot.

"What place is this?" Legolas asked.

"Entville." She said, as she unlaced his boots.

"Are there no men among you?" he asked.

"They left 10 years ago when Sauron was in power to defend our homes. They never returned." she said. "But we are not helpless. We have defended ourselves for many years. Many of our women are as good at fighting as men."

"There is no love more fierce than a mother defending her children." Legolas said. He winced as she pulled his long boot off, careful not to touch his foot.

"Very true." She said.

Before Legolas could ask further questions, giggling could be heard coming from the window. A group of children, about 10 years old stood peering in the windows.

Elesia smiled, "We have never had an elf in our midst before or a dwarf for that matter."

Gimli opened the door carrying a bucket of water, being followed by a group of giggling kids.

"Grrr. Pesky little tykes aren't they? If I was their father I'd show them some manners." Gimli said, as he shut the door behind him.

Legolas gave him a pointed look and Gimli realized he had said the wrong thing. He said, "I shall boil the water."

Old Rose came in shoeing the kids away from the windows.

"Did you get the water Littleman?" she asked Gimli.

Gimli bristled at the name but said nothing, he simply nodded and carried the hot water over to her. Old Rose began to clean the wound.

"What brings you two on such a journey? I haven't seen your kind in years. And I thought elves and dwarves didn't get along." Old Rose asked.

"We are hunting orcs for King Aragorn." Legolas said.

"Orcs?" Old Rose said, "I have seen more than my share of orcs in this lifetime. I should like the King to get rid of these pests. Running all of us off to this place they did."

Old Rose rambling on continuously about orcs as she cleaned and dressed Legolas's wound.

"We have had orcs in these parts for over 20 years. About the time Elesia was just big enough to wander. Horrible, nasty beasts. Orcs. They are our curse. Tell this King of yours that I welcome the change. I should love to get out of here and to see the city again. It has been far too long." She finished tending his foot and began packing her bags.

"All done. You'll live. Elves don't kill so easily. You'll have to stay off the ankle for at least a week. Take care of him Elesia, I've gotta go see to Little Barillin, he's got a bad cough." And with that Rose grabbed her bags and left the little house.

Elesia turned to Legolas and Gimli as if she wasn't quite sure what to do with the both of them.

"I will bring you both food. And if you would like, Gimli, I will give you a tour of Entville." She said.

"I would be honored." He said.

After getting Legolas comfortable and Gimli's stomach filled to his contentment, she walked through the village with Gimli.

They wandered through the trees. The houses were built with stones quarried from the nearby mountain, not of the trees. According to Elesia none of their people had ever cut down one tree in Entville. The trees were so dense in places that the houses were built around them. Some had trees poking through their center and used part of them as a support or their branches as part of the ceiling.

"Why it's almost elvish." He said. "At least, as close to elvish work with trees as I have ever seen men make."

"Thank you. It is an honor you think so. I have never seen anything elvish in my life until this day." She said.

"Why is this place called Entville." He asked.

They sat down at the base of a tree. The thick trunks grew wide enough at the bottom to sit upon. As if the trees grew a bench for their using. Gimli was surprised at it's comfort as he settled into it's curvature.

"It was a children's story about this forest. Long ago these trees were alive. And wandered the earth as Ents."

"True Ents are much taller." Gimli commented.

"According to legend, these were the children of the Ents. One night when the stars were bright, the Ent children wished to go to the top of the mountain, out of the range of their parents branches so they could see the stars. Their parents forbade them, but that night they snuck away. Once the sun rose and the stars had vanished, they lost their way. Nothing looked familiar. A great storm rose and obscured the clouds for many days. So they could not use the stars as guides. And the Ent children wandered farther and farther away, until the day came when the clouds parted and they saw the sky full of stars. And did not remember the way back." She said.

Gimli's eyes grew wide with astonishment. "Entwives. These could be the entwives." Gimli said.

The wind blew through the trees and the crackling of the branches seemed to him a reply. "I shall tell them where you are." Gimli whispered and patted the bark gently.

Elesia smiled at Gimli, "I thought most dwarves were all caves and rocks."

"I am not most dwarves." He said proudly.

She smiled and then her face turned serious. "You said you came here because of orcs?" she asked.

He nodded seriously.

"It seems we would have much to discuss," she said.

"Yes. We do." Gimli said.

She hear footsteps running and the same group of children that had been peeking in the window at Legolas came dashing up the path.

"I think though, that it will have to wait until later," she said.

Gimli grimaced as the children surrounded him. Asking him many questions.

"You have until, sundown. And then, Master Gimli needs to rest. He has come a long trail." She said.

The children agreed and she left them together at the base of the tree.

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