Short Story Contest Entry by Konstantinos Buttonwood
The Oddities of this Whole Situation
by Konstantinos Buttonwood
“Umm… I’m here to help defend… Santa’s fortress?”
“Good, good,” the giant (what in the world…?) replied absently, looking over his clipboard, “Name?”
The elf blinked, owlish eyes glancing up at the looming figure nervously. “Umm… excuse me?”
The giant sighed. “And they say trolls (Ah, so he was a troll…) are dumb,” he mumbled, before speaking in normal volume again, “What is your name, elf?”
“Oh! Umm… Legolas,” the elf— Legolas— responded, “my name’s Legolas.”
The troll squinted down at him, “What kind of stupid name—”
“My, my mother was a Tolkien fan,” Legolas explained, pale face turning a rather unbecoming shade of pink (or at least his sister always claimed so).
“Oh,” the troll still looked confused but did not press the matter any further, “So, you sure about this? You don’t look like you can even hold a weapon. And you don’t look even old enough to drink (he can hold a weapon well, and he was definitely old enough to drink! He was probably much older than that troll …Now if only he had the guts to say it…).”
“Y- yeah. I’m sure. Mostly.”
“Whatever. Git on in. You’re on the list. See you on the battlefield.”
“Thank you, um, Mister Troll. I bade you the best of luck.”
Again, the troll looked confused again, before grinning (a rather horrifying one) down at Legolas. “Even though you’re a weakling, you’re nice. Hard to come by creatures nice to trolls now. G’luck to you too.”
“So, Legolas, huh? That’s a weird name. You’re mum drunk when she had you?” The man—Will— sitting next to him grinned (the look on his face reminded him a little bit of a hungry mountain lion finding a wounded deer).
“No,” Legolas could feel his face heating up again, “She just liked Tolkien.”
“Who?” Will’s smirk dropped, and made a face similar to the one the troll made earlier when he tried to explain.
Legolas sighed, “No one. So, about defending… Santa’s fortress (the name was just so…).”
“Santa’s fortress, man, that’s going to be tough,” Will lets out a long stream of air rush from his mouth, “Swords’ll be clanging, arrow’s whistling through the air, the choked cries of the wounded, the sound of blood gurgling your enemy’s throat as they die right before your eyes. Man, Legolas, it’s going to be terrific!” Will smirks again, sharp canines showing (yeah, he definitely looks like a deranged animal now, maybe he’s a werewolf?), as he swings an arm around Legolas’s shoulders.
Legolas ignores both the arm, and the slightly terrifying words that the man (werewolf?) just said, “Is it mandatory to use swords, or arrows?”
Will laughs, “Well, no, but what else are you going to use? Your hands? You probably can’t even bruise my face here!” He paused, as if realizing something, “Oh man. Can you even wield a sword? Or a bow? Don’t all elves learn how to do this stuff?”
Legolas flushes again, and ducks away, “Umm… w-well… I don’t know?”
“Spears? Hammers? Maybe you’re good at healing and all that magical junk?”
“What about calling furry woodland creatures for help or something?”
“I think you’re thinking about Disney.”
“What?” Again, that blank look.
“Can you do anything that I mentioned?”
“W-well, um no… but, but I’m pretty good with a gun!”
Will groaned loudly, resting his forehead on his hands. “A gun! Elves don’t carry guns! What kind of elf— or any creature— uses a gun?”
Legolas reddened again (honestly, what’s so bad about using a gun?), “Um me?”
“Legolas, what am I going to do with you?” Will sighed, “Never mind. I can work with this. So… you have a gun.”
“Okay, so you’ll mostly likely be in the back, with the archers. You any good at sniping?”
“I’m, I’m decent.”
“Decent? Just… don’t shoot any of us in the head.”
“Um… sorry but whose the enemy, exactly?” Legolas felt really foolish now, and could tell without even having to check a mirror that his face the same shade as his sister’s strawberry lipstick (it tasted more like soap though… not like he tried eating either).
Will looked just about ready to throttle him, “Wha— how can you not know what this whole things about? And how did even allow you to fight to begin with?”
“W-well, first, I was just told I was supposed to show up, and no one explained to me, m-maybe because I’m an elf? A-and second, I guess the higher-ups have l-low standards?”
“Low standards… Well, we— Santa’s army—”
“Like Dumbledore’s army?” Legolas wondered why he even bothered.
Will stared at him, bewildered. “What are you even talking about? Anyway, we are here to protect Santa— whoever he is— and his stuff… I think it’s coal. Coal’s like three hundred coins a piece now. Plus, there’s like this rare deer with a red nose that’s really important for something. Its name’s Rude-dolt (Rude-dolt? Why would anyone think of naming the poor deer that?) or something. Its name’s even worse than yours.” The man snickered at this. “So, Santa’s army is supposed to protect Santa, Rude-dolt—” again more snickering, “— and the coal from the people who want to steal the coal and Rude-dolt—” the snickering comes again (really, it’s not that funny), “— and harm Santa. The bad guys are these things called Grinches and Scrooges, which are either these wrinkly green things with fur or old angry men wearing some fancy hat and coat and with a gold staff (wait… aren’t… what…?). So, got it?”
“Um… yeah.” The elf decided that maybe if he stopped thinking about the oddities of this whole… situation… than maybe his head’ll stop hurting. Yeah, that’ll work.
“Good!” Will clapped his hands once, like some ostentatious director after filming an act, “And now we go to battle!”
“D-doesn’t the enemies um… have to attack us first? I- I mean like um before we can go into battle.”
“Huh. Oh yeah. Never mind then. What now?”
“I… don’t know.”
“Same here, Legolas, same here.”
In battle time seemed to both speed up and slow down (Does that even make sense?). The rapid knee-jerk reaction of fire-fire-fire-fire-fire-reload-fire-fire-fire, and the unnaturally loud sound of twanging bows and clashing swords resonating in his ear made everything seem to go by so fast, yet the battle seemed to rage on for far, far too long.
Legolas ignored the dirty looks, scowls, and grimaces he gets from the other archers (so Will was right; he was in the back) each time he shoots. It was not really his fault the gun was so loud, and it wasn’t like they were supposed to be in hiding. And honestly, the gun in his hand was just so much more reliable (usually, though sometimes he just never seems to be able to hit a person no matter how many times he shoots) than the gaudy bows in each archer’s hand (since each arrow is slightly different from the next, being able to hit a target perfectly every time was near impossible).
He continues to shoot, though each time he sees someone fall, his old, foolish heart clenches, he wonders why the world had to resort to this.
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