A very Strange Experience - Green Elves and Hollin

Caleb sat quietly on guard waiting for the rest of the Company to fall asleep. He still didn't understand why Gandalf was so mad about finding vinegar in his water skin.... A little vinegar never hurt an Istari, and the results had been most satisfactory, dispite the fact that they had nearly gotten him turned into a toad and had landed him on the first watch.

He grinned and pulled out his water skin and the last of the Jell-O packets. This one was lime flavored and the perfect couler for a certain blonde wood elf. He giggled to himself as he mixed the bright green powder with the water and shook it vigorously.

When the mixture was complete he slipped over to where Legolas was peacefully sleeping with his hands folded on his chest, staring into the midnight sky. Caleb had learned about a week ago that elves slept with their eyes open. All the same it made him very nervous, he couldn't be absolutely sure that the elf was really asleep, but Legolas' hair was the best for this prank, as his was the lightest in all the Company.

The boy sank slowly to his knees and gently pulled Legolas' hair out from under his head and began to apply the green liquid to the elf's hair. He started at the bottom of each strand and worked his way to the top. He sponged it into the root of the wood elf's hair with and old rag hoping that the elf wouldn't feel the water on his scalp. When he was done he sat back on his heels and admired what he could of his handy work in the dim star light and the light of the
crescent moon.

He got up and carefully stored the left over Jell-O water for future pranks.
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Legolas got up just as the Sun was coming over the horizon and decided to go for a walk in the land of Hollin. He personally preferred beech trees, but the holly were very fair as well and who now knew if he would ever have a chance to look on them again? He wandered happily for about an hour then he relized that his companions might be wondering what had become of him so he started back to camp.
*********************
Colleen stood by Bill loading him up while Sam cooked bacon and potatoes for breakfast. She was grateful that there were no mushrooms among their stores, if there was one food Colleen couldn't stand, it was mushrooms.

She had become good friends with Bill during the past two weeks since they had left Rivendell and she was glad that he had a 100% guarantee of getting home, unlike the some of them.

"Good morning, Colleen. Have you had a chance to look at the holly trees yet, they are beautiful!" Colleen turned around and stifled a gasp at the sight of Legolas' hair. Then her face
broke into a broad, delighted grin and she couldn't resist making a comment.

"I know you like trees, Legolas, but isn't that going just a little too far?"

The elf looked confused, " I don't know what you're talking about, Colleen. What is going a little going a little to far?"

"Go take a good look in the pool, Legolas, then you'll understand."

He looked at her in surprise and went to see for himself. He wandered over to the clear, smooth pool that they had camped by the day before and almost screamed when he caught sight of his hair. It was a bright lime green. The elf stifled a cry with his hand and then relized what Colleen had been laughing at.

He decided that there was only one thing to do. He removed his cloak and shirt and proceeded to wash his hair. He was successful, for the most part. The problem was that his hair was such a light color that his hair was still mildly green, though not as bright as before. He grimaced and
wrung his hair out, deciding to was again that night after they camped. For the moment pulling his hood up and hoping no one would notice would have to do.

Aragorn watched Legolas slink back into camp with his hood up and grinned. He had seen Legolas' first entrance and had had a hard time keeping himself from laughing out loud. Poor
Legolas. He had obviously been unable to restore his hair to a natural color. Green was most appropriate for a wood elf though. Aragorn shook his head and returned to the oatmeal Sam had concocted for breakfast.

Colleen grinned and began to string her bow for target practice. Legolas had promised her a lesson before they started that afternoon and she planned to hold him to his promise. Archery would be a useful skill in the coming days.
********************
Caleb covered his mouth and yawned as they marched. Gandalf promised that they would stop as soon as they had gone for their prescribed seven hour march. They had about fifteen minutes to go and he could see Gandalf and Aragorn casting about for a suitable place to make camp.

His prank on Legolas had not quite had the desired effect. Only Colleen and Aragorn had noticed him as he had come strolling in with lime green hair and Colleen had told him. Or at least Caleb assumed that she had, or else why would her have left camp again in such a hurry heading for the
pool of water they had camped by and come back with his hood up?

It would fall off soon enough. For the moment he just had to worry about his fencing lesson with Boromir, Merry and Pippin.
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Colleen sat on a rock next to Gandalf. He was very quiet as though he had something on his mind. She wanted to reach over and hug him as she knew what he was about to go through. She knew he would be back, but the thought of him suffering so much even for a purpose bothered her greatly. She watched him take a deep puff of his pipe and slowly exhale the smoke into a big cloud. The cloud shifted and twisted and shaped itself into a ship and sailed away on the chill breeze.

She then turned her attention to the place where her brother was getting a fencing lesson from Boromir. He was doing fairly well, holding the man at bay and listening to Aragorn as he shouted advice every so often. Legolas was standing near by staring up a the mountains with his hood back. You could only see the green if you looked steadily at his hair for several minutes or if it caught your eye suddenly when you looked at it. Colleen grinned and got ready to lay out her
blankets when Frodo spoke.

"What's that?" he asked pointing at an odd looking cloud.

Gimli took his pipe out of his mouth long enough to answer, "It's just a wisp of cloud."

Aragorn spoke, "It's moving against the wind."

"Crabain from Duneland!" Legolas shouted, " Hide!"

And everyone did. Aragorn threw dirt over thier fire, Gandalf hauled Colleen down behind the rock and the hobbits and her brother ran for the shelter of the bushes. Colleen closed her eyes and prayed. Gandalf clutched her so tightly and close that she felt his heart beating.

When they got up it was decided that they would try the Redhorn Gate. Colleen stared up at the forbidding mountain and shuddered. She had always been very tolerant of the cold, but that mountain was more that cold. It was called cruel with a reason.

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