Legolas woke up and looked out of his bedroom window. The sun was shining. There was snow on the branches of his tree, although there were no leaves, because they had all fallen off at the beginning of winter. Legolas got out of bed. The wind blew outside, and his bedroom floor moved. Legolas lives in a tree, you see, high above the ground. You have to climb up a rope ladder to get to his house, and at night, when he goes to sleep, he pulls up the rope ladder so that the orcs can't climb up after him. So when the wind blows, the tree moves a little bit, even though it is a large tree, and that is why Legolas's bedroom floor moved.
Legolas is an elf. He looks almost the same as a man, but he has pointy ears, and his eyes are slanted down a bit towards his nose. He has blond hair. He has strong muscles in his arms and legs, from climbing up his rope ladder several times every day, but his arms do not look particularly large. Like all elves, Legolas does not grow old. One day, he will surely die in an accident of some kind. Perhaps he will fall out of his tree house, or an orc will kill him. But until then, he will look like a young man. If he is very careful, perhaps he will live to be a thousand years old. He is already two hundred years old. But he has had so many dangerous adventures recently with Haley and Alice, that he thinks he will never live to be a thousand years old.
Legolas was thinking about these things, his tree-house, his rope ladder, and how dangerous it is living in a tree, when he remembered that he had been so tired last night, that he had forgotten to pull up his rope ladder. He put on his clothes and rushed to the front door of his tree-house, through the living room, where his pet lizard was still asleep on the couch. He opened the door and looked down. The ladder was still there, but it was covered with ice from top to bottom. Legolas tried to lift it up, but the ice made the ladder too heavy to lift.
"Even if I could pull it up, I would not be able to roll it up and put it on my porch, because of the ice."
Legolas went back inside and lit a fire to make some porridge for his breakfast. He was just pouring the oatmeal into the hot water when his pet lizard cried out.
Legolas was so surprised, he looked up and spilled some of the hot water on his hand.
"Ouch!" he said.
The lizard was looking around. He opened his mouth, closed it again, and went back to sleep. He must have had a bad dream.
Legolas made a bit of porridge with the water he had left over, but he did not enjoy it very much because his hand was hurting.
"I'll go outside," he said to himself, "The cold air will stop my hand from hurting."
He put on his coat and gloves, and strapped his bow and arrows on his back, and his two long knives to his belt, and started to climb down the ladder. Climbing down was difficult to do because the ladder was covered with ice. Nevertheless, he was almost at the bottom, when the ladder ropes broke at the top, from the heavy weight of the ice, and Legolas fell to the frozen ground below.
"Ouch!" he said, when he landed on his bottom, and then the ladder fell down on top of him, and banged him on the head and all over his arms, and covered him with ice and rope and bits of wood. It took him several minutes to get out from underneath all this stuff, and when he did, he found that he was cold and bruised all over. He looked up the tree. How would he get up there now? Every branch was covered with ice, and too slippery to climb.
He looked around.
"I'll go and shoot a nice fat rabbit for my lunch, and then cook it in the forest. After that, I'll be in a better mood and I can think about how to climb up my tree without a rope ladder."
So he walked into the woods looking for rabbits.
Not long afterwards, he saw a beautiful, big, white rabbit nibbling on a some brown grass blades that were long enough to stick up through the snow.
"Aha!" he said. He put an arrow in his bow, took aim, and fired. He hit the rabbit right in the chest, and killed it immediately.
"Yum, yum," Legolas said.
He ran over to the rabbit and picked it up. Its red blood was dripping on the white snow.
"Stop!" a voice said.
Legolas looked up. An old woman was running towards him over the snow, with a thick black cape drawn around her. She had a big nose, and strange eyes, and perhaps even some hair on her chin, and her legs seemed to be bent, and her arms were large for an old woman.
"Here's an old woman who has worked hard on the land all her life," Legolas thought, "and she wants me to give her this rabbit for her lunch."
"You killed my pet rabbit!" the woman said.
Legolas looked at the rabbit. "Madame, these are my woods, and any rabbit running around in them is mine to kill and eat. I am sorry that it was your pet rabbit, but you should not have allowed it to run off onto my land. In fact, what are you doing on my land with your rabbit?"
Although Legolas was talking as if he was not sorry that he killed the woman's pet rabbit, he was embarrassed about it, and he was not watching what was happening around him in the forest. If he had looked more closely, he would have seen dark shapes coming out from behind the trees, and sneaking up on him.
"You horrid little elf!" the old woman said, "you killed my favorite rabbit, and now you are telling me to get off your land. I have worked hard all my life on the land, and you just live in a tree sleeping all the time."
"I don't sleep all the time, Madame," Legolas said.
This old woman was beginning to sound like his mother when he was still living in his mother's tree-house.
Crack! A branch broke under a heavy boot behind Legolas. He turned around. There were three big orcs right behind him. As tall as men, they were, with tusks sticking up from their lower jaws, almost to their big wide noses. Their eyes were red with black slits, and their hands were big, hairy, and strong, and held clubs with nails sticking out of them. They rushed towards him.
"Stand behind me, old woman," Legolas said, and he was glad in a way, because the old woman would not be angry with him any more if he saved her from the orcs.
But the old woman laughed, and not in a woman's voice any more, but in the voice of Ugluk, Legolas's arch enemy, the leader of the Exiles, and the cleverest of them all. Legolas looked around. Gone was the black cape, and the face of the old woman was gone too. Ugluk had been wearing a clever mask, which he now held in his right hand, and waved at Legolas.
And in Ugluk's other hand was a long, black knife.
Well, there was only one thing for Legolas to do, and that was to run away. With four big orcs to fight at once, he could end up being captured and kept in a hole somewhere until someone came to rescue him, and last time, that was three weeks, during which he had to listen to Ugluk reading Ugluk's poetry verses to him for an hour a day.
"Never again," Legolas had said to himself when Alice and Haley rescued him that time (See Alice and the Centipede), and so Legolas dropped his bow, and jumped into the air, grabbed a branch above him, and swung over Ugluk's head, and ran away across the snow.
Ugluk did not mind too much, because Legolas had left his bow behind, and everyone knew how much Legolas loves his bow. It was made out of the bone of a dragon, and had belonged to Legolas's grandfather, before he died in an accident involving a large cauldron full of hot chocolate.
Legolas reached his tree house, and began to climb up through the branches. While he had been hunting for rabbits, the sun had come out and warmed up his tree, so that the ice on the branches had turned to water, and he could grab the branches with his hands an pull himself up. But when he reached his tree-house, he remembered he had left behind his bow.
"Aaargh!" he said out loud, "I will get you for this, Ugluk!"
And Ugluk, who was not so far away, and standing in the shadows of the trees, said, "Only in your dreams, little elf!"
"I'm not little," Legolas said, and he was right, he was not little, but Ugluk knew that Legolas became upset whenever anyone called him little.
Legolas sat down on his porch and put his head in his hands. What a bad day he was having. He did not even get to keep the white rabbit, and he had lost his bow, and his hand was burned, and he was bruised all over, and his rope ladder was broken.
"I not little, I big," said a voice from behind him. It was Alice. She must have climbed up while he was away. Haley was there too, in his living room, and she had made him something hot to drink. Alice and Haley are both good climbers, so Legolas was not surprised that they had managed to climb up the tree.
Legolas stood up and went into the living room. He was still too upset to say anything, but was glad to see them. Haley gave him a cup of hot drink.
"What is it?" Legolas said.
He looked down at the drink. He had never drunk hot chocolate before. His grandfather, as you know, died in an accident that involved hot chocolate, and he had always thought that it was something too dangerous to have in the house.
"It's good," Alice said.
"Well," Legolas said, "Things can't get any worse, I suppose."
He drank some of the hot chocolate. He licked his lips. It was delicious. He finished the cup.
"More please," he said, and began thinking about how he would get his bow back from Ugluk.