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Trade Off

Title: Trade Off
Rating: PG
Characters: Legolas and Thranduil
Genre: Humor


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An answer, of sorts, to the question of how Elves feed themselves without farming or raising livestock. Inspired by a discussion of civilization on the HASA group, and the suggested solution of Olorime.


Legolas knew something was up when his King called him to his private chambers. Ever since he was a child nothing good had ever come from a private talk with his “King”. He entered the chamber with an appropriately solemn expression and remained standing while his father sat in his big, comfy chair. Thranduil looked as though he wanted to say something but was unsure how to begin, so Legolas simply waited until he was ready. He knew there was no hurrying Thranduil when it came to the business of the realm.

After a few moments shifting and pondering, the king finally spoke. “As Prince of Mirkwood you have many responsibilities which you have always fulfilled with the utmost integrity. Now that you are of age, there is another responsibility I must demand of you.”

Legolas felt a rush of relief. He knew what was coming and was surprised the talk had not come sooner. This was the “you must marry and produce an heir” speech he’d been expecting for some time. He did think it a bit strange his father had chosen to turn it into an official edict, but Thranduil did like to adhere to the old traditions whenever possible.

“I have already considered the matter, my lord, and there is a maiden I’ve had my eye on these past months. Of course we have only just started getting to know each other so it may be some time before I know how things will progress…”

“What?” Thranduil said, startled. Then he shook his head absent-mindedly. “No, no, this is not the “you must marry and produce an heir speech”. What do we need with more royalty around here anyway? There’s barely enough for you and me to do in our official roles. No, this is the “it’s time you started contributing to the health of the realm” speech.”

“Contributing? In what way? Don’t I already lead the hunts, patrol the borders, train your guards…?”

“All well and good, but the hunts only partially feed our people. We need much more than game to survive.”

“But we have stores of grain, larders full of vegetables and fruits, barrels of wine and ale. What more do we need?”

“Just where do you suppose those items you mention come from?”

Legolas hesitated. “Well,” he said at last, “from farms and orchards and things I suppose.”

“Precisely. Now, let’s take the next step. We live in a forest. Have you ever seen a field around here, when you’re out hunting and guarding the borders and such?

“Uh… no… but I thought…” Thranduil waited for him to continue but Legolas had run out of things to say on the subject. “So how do we… I mean, don’t we barter for those things?”

Thranduil beamed him a smile. “Yes, we barter. Elves don’t sully their hands with plowing and harvesting and tending crops. We’re above all that. Instead, we barter for the goods we need.”

“That is why you have a vault full of white gems,” Legolas said.

“Yes, so I did. Unfortunately, they ran out quite a long time ago.”

“So what do we barter?” Legolas was becoming increasingly confused.

“The only thing we have to offer, besides black squirrel pelts and buckskin,” Thranduil said, which would not have given Legolas pause had he not blushed so deeply when he said it.

Legolas looked at Thranduil incredulously. “Surely you don’t mean…”

“Exactly. You must begin taking on clients from Lake Town and environs beyond in order to keep the goods flowing upriver.”

“So this is what’s been keeping the place together all these years, whoring out your nobles for wine and apples?”

“Hey, apples don’t grow on trees you know!” Thranduil said indignantly. “At least not around here.”

“So we’re in a veritable sea of trees and you never thought of planting an orchard?”

“Of course I’ve thought of it. Where do you suggest I put it? In the part of the forest overrun by spiders or the part of the forest overrun by orcs?”

“So how about the wine and ale? We can’t brew our own?”

“Out of the grapes we don’t cultivate, or the grain we don’t grow?” Thranduil countered.

“But surely other realms don’t shame themselves thus,” Legolas said. “What about Elrond or Galadriel? Can’t you find out how they barter for their commodities?”

“This is how they do it,” Thranduil said. “You’ve been to Imladris. When’s the last time you saw Elrond’s sons?”

“I’ve never seen them, but I thought they spent their time in the wilderness hunting orcs.”

“They do,” Thranduil assured him. “They hunt orcs and they sleep around. Didn’t you say you love the chicken barley soup served at the Last Homely House?”

“Well yes, but…”

“Ever see a rippling field of barley or a chicken in that Belain forsaken valley?”

“Well, no, but…”

“I rest my case,” Thranduil said with a smug look.

“So who besides me is expected to engage in this barter system?” Legolas said sullenly.

“If you were a king you would realize that there are some things one cannot ask of one’s subjects.”

“Wait, so you’ve been the only one doing the nasty with mortals all these years?”

“Well, yes, me and Galion, but he insisted he be included when he found out. He pretends like it’s a sacrifice but, well, you know Galion.”

Legolas nodded. Indeed he did.

“Now that you know you will, of course, be expected to pull your weight as regards to the system. We’re due for another shipment of Dorwinion soon. Believe me, after a week or so of servicing smelly mortals, you’ll need it.”

So many things fell into place now that Legolas knew. The feasting, the song and merriment with no sign of any real work being done. His father’s constant riding forth from the stronghold, probably to meet his clients out in the woods to at least give some appearance of discretion.

“Is this any way to run a civilization?” he groused.

“Whoever said Elves were civilized?” Thranduil shrugged.

Legolas left the king’s chambers with instructions to go hunting the next day. He would, he was told, find a contingent from Lake Town down by the river waiting with some eagerness for his arrival. He was greeted with warm, knowing smiles by the group and entered into the tent of the town’s mayor. As he lay back upon the pallet he did the only thing a prince of the realm of the Greenwood could do: closed his eyes and thought of chicken barley soup.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
clodia_metelli
Sep. 26th, 2010 08:36 am (UTC)
*snerrrrrrrrrrrrk*

That does, in fact, make an awful lot of sense! :'D
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
"That does, in fact, make an awful lot of sense! :'D"

Doesn't it though? I knew as soon as Olorime mentioned the idea of the Elves bartering system it would be a funny story. :-)
spiced_wine
Sep. 26th, 2010 08:44 am (UTC)
This is hilarious, Marius! :DDD


“So we’re in a veritable sea of trees and you never thought of planting an orchard?”

“Of course I’ve thought of it. Where do you suggest I put it? In the part of the forest overrun by spiders or the part of the forest overrun by orcs?”

“So how about the wine and ale? We can’t brew our own?”

“Out of the grapes we don’t cultivate, or the grain we don’t grow?” Thranduil countered.

“But surely other realms don’t shame themselves thus,” Legolas said. “What about Elrond or Galadriel? Can’t you find out how they barter for their commodities?”

“This is how they do it,” Thranduil said. “You’ve been to Imladris. When’s the last time you saw Elrond’s sons?”

“I’ve never seen them, but I thought they spent their time in the wilderness hunting orcs.”

“They do,” Thranduil assured him. “They hunt orcs and they sleep around. Didn’t you say you love the chicken barley soup served at the Last Homely House?”

“Well yes, but…”

“Ever see a rippling field of barley or a chicken in that Belain forsaken valley?”

“Well, no, but…”

“I rest my case,” Thranduil said with a smug look.


Hahaha! excellent.
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 03:54 am (UTC)
Thanks sweetie. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. :-) I haven't seen you around lately. I hope things are going well for you.
crowdaughter
Sep. 26th, 2010 09:05 am (UTC)
ROTFLMAO!!!! And they could be really, really rich if they widened the system to other elves, too. And all the happy Mary-Sues young ladies this could produce...

Good comment on that discussion, indeed! :)
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
It would almost be worth being a field hand if it meant a perk like Legolas, wouldn't it? lol

Thanks for your comments, Aislynn. :-)

Edited at 2010-09-27 03:57 am (UTC)
chaotic_binky
Sep. 26th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
What a shock for poor Legolas *chuckles*

I love reading humour - especially yours.

Hugs Binky xx
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
Thanks Binky. And I appreciate your comments as well. It's always nice to write something that gives people a laugh.
lissas_elves
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
Ai - poor Legolas! But trust him to do his duty and think of Mirkwood... or chicken barley soup. ;-)

>>the question of how Elves feed themselves without farming or raising livestock<<

I've wondered about that, too, but your solution is a lot funnier than what I was able to come up with. *g*
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:00 am (UTC)
Thanks Lissa. Legolas is an honorable sort. He'd make any sacrifice for the Greenwood. Just like Galion. lol

"I've wondered about that, too, but your solution is a lot funnier than what I was able to come up with. *g*"

What was your solution?
(no subject) - lissas_elves - Sep. 27th, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ignoblebard - Sep. 28th, 2010 04:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lissas_elves - Sep. 28th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC) - Expand
thrihyrne
Sep. 26th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
This is hilarious! And a surprisingly logical explanation. Makes me look at the Dwarves a bit differently as well… ;)
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
Thanks Thrihyrne, I'm glad you enjoyed this.

"Makes me look at the Dwarves a bit differently as well… ;)"

At least Dwarves have metals and crafts to barter. What do the poor Elves have?
(Deleted comment)
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
When you mentioned this barter system it really cracked me up. It's the perfect solution to that age old question.

Thanks for the plot bunny. :-)
elfscribe5
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
Oh once again, marvelous! I love the way you think.
ignoblebard
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Thanks Elfscribe. I have to give credit to Olorime for the idea on this one, but it was great fun to write.
mdarkdreamer
Sep. 27th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Hehehehehh...oh that was wonderful! Makes sence to me!

~Dark
ignoblebard
Sep. 28th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
Thanks Dark, I appreciate your comments. And I love your icon. The many faces of Thranduil. lol Do you mind if I add it to my avatar collection?
(no subject) - mdarkdreamer - Sep. 28th, 2010 05:50 am (UTC) - Expand
heartofoshun
Sep. 27th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
You know you are a genius. Several days of earnest discussion on the HASA Yahoo thread and not a single person came up with the obvious solution. Your Legolas, as always, is absolutely lovely and admirable. (I saw that you won an award for this already! Hang onto to those blue stars!)
ignoblebard
Sep. 28th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
Thanks Oshun! *hugs* The idea actually belongs to Olorime but I wholeheartedly agree that it would be the best system. :-)

"Your Legolas, as always, is absolutely lovely and admirable."

But yours is so sweet and smart. It's a shame we don't see more of him.
nierielraina
Sep. 27th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
I could have sworn I commented on this the other day but with unreliable internet connection, perhaps it never went through. Anywho, this is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh. :)
ignoblebard
Sep. 28th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
When I saw your comments I thought that might mean you had internet now. I hope you get it working soon. Thanks so much for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
mithrial
Nov. 1st, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
Just came to wish you a Happy Birthday, and sat here reading your naughty fic.
Hee he! Power to your wicked muses.
Tia xxx.
ignoblebard
Nov. 2nd, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
Thanks for the birthday wishes and the comments, Tia. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and I had a great birthday thanks to all my sweet, thoughtful online friends. :-)
malinorne2003
Dec. 4th, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
Ha, ha, didn't notice this earlier. It's brilliant :-D
ignoblebard
Dec. 4th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I wrote this one in answer to a discussion about Elves and their methods (or lack thereof) of agriculture. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
elfscribe5
Jan. 1st, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
Reposting my MEFA review here.

I do love it when a story comes out of a discussion of fannish Attempts to Make Sense of aspects of Tolkien's mythology. To wit, how on Arda do the elves of Mirkwood get bread and wine if they don't grow their own wheat and grapes or anything else for that matter and have nothing to barter? Or, er, maybe they do have something to trade. In this amusing little fic, Ignoblebard imagines an answer and gives us the scene in which Thranduil must awkwardly break it to his son what he must do for the good of the realm. I especially love the last line.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )