Orophin glared at Haldir. Catch a few flies for refreshment, indeed! The trouble with Haldir was that he fancied himself to be a great wit. Well, his arrogant older brother was in trouble now, that was for sure. “There’s an army of Orcs after you,” said Orophin, “and the Lord Celeborn is after you too, for carving your `poetry’ on all those Mallorns.”
Haldir sat up. “What! Is this wishful thinking on your part, or is this true?”
“Both,” said Orophin. He could be witty too, ha!
“But why,” asked Haldir. “Why would an army of Orcs be after me?” Orophin shrugged. “Who knows. Maybe they want some advice on hair care. By the way, Hal, how would I look with purple hair?” Haldir looked at Orophin in annoyance. “No more revolting than usual. The same as a toad with purple hair. But are they here? In L’Oreal?”
Haldir brought his fist down on the ground in impatience and hurt his hand on a hard, knobbly Mallorn root.
“Aaaaaaargh,” he yelled. “The Orcs! The Orcs who were after me! Where did you see them? Where are they now?”
“I saw them running down that path over there. And look – they’re here now.”
“What do we do,” asked Haldir in sudden terror. Looking at his brother, Orophin noticed that his hair was braided in a more elaborate style than usual, probably to impress his new love. He was struck by a sudden brainwave. “Don’t worry, Hal, I’ll take care of this,” he said airily.
He turned to face the Orcs. “Hello,” he said. “I’m Orophin of L’Oreal. And this is my sister, Mary Sue.”
The Orcs looked suspiciously at Haldir, who had stiffened in indignation although he maintained his outward composure. He’d kill Orophin for this. Why, there were hundreds, thousands of Radio Mallorn fans who would willingly testify to the fact that he, Haldir of L’Oreal, was a paragon of masculine perfection. He had dozens of letters from them that said as much – letters that he enjoyed reading over and over again. And here was this little imbecile, calling him a woman!
But Haldir was never one to pass up an opportunity to perform in front of an audience. True, the scriptwriter had done a poor job of the script and the audience was not the most intellectual one he had come across. But this was nevertheless an opportunity for him to display his exceptional acting skills.
The frowning critical appraising gaze of twenty-eight orcs did not embarrass him in the least. Getting into the part, Haldir smiled shyly at them and then looked demurely down at the ground. As an Orc moved towards him, he realistically shrank to Orophin’s side for protection, playing to perfection the part of a frightened little elf-maiden.
The purple-haired Orc, whose name was Garbazh, stared at Haldir in bewilderment. “But she… your sister doesn’t look like an elf-woman.” Haldir’s heart warmed to Garbazh. This Orc, at least, recognised his masculine good looks.
“Oh, she’s always been a bit of a tomboy,” explained Orophin. “Always playing with her little bows and arrows as a child…”
Haldir, who was now getting deep into his role as Orophin’s sister, realistically burst into loud sobs. “They say I look like a maaaaaan!”
Garbazh looked at Haldir in disgust. If there was one thing he hated, it was a crying female. “Take her away,” he said shortly. Haldir and Orophin obediently disappeared, congratulating themselves on their lucky escape.
“These elves are stark, staring mad,” said Garbazh to a weedy young orc with pink, spiky hair and an adam’s apple, whose name was Trazhcan. He turned to address his troops. “Now, listen to me, all of you. I have a plan to capture this Haldir of L’Oreal. We’re now at the gates of Radio Mallorn’s Studios in L’Oreal. So what we’re going to do is…”
Garbazh began to outline his plans to them, but none of the Orcs appeared to be paying much attention to him. An elderly looking Orc with buckteeth, called Ashnazg, was idly playing with the large selection of rings on his fingers. Two Orcs called Dustbinh and Trazhcan were shouting abuse at each other. An Orc called Sewazhe was absent-mindedly digging holes in the ground. Another called Toxzicfumes was puffing on a battered pipe that spewed out huge clouds of acrid, virulent green smoke.
“Right,” said Garbazh, “is everyone clear on what they have to do?” “Yes,” they chorused. “All right then,” said Garbazh, “let’s go!”