12. Magic Bubble Pipes, Spider Spray, and Goblin Dolls
Bilbo had been inside Gladaran Thamas, hiding and sneaking food from the storerooms, for several days now. He wandered the corridors hoping to find his way to the Dwarves’ cells, but he had not had any success as yet. He knew he couldn’t stay cowering in his dark corners forever, so he ventured forth more and more, becoming braver and bolder with each passing day. He found his way to King Thranduil’s magic doors and watched as they opened for the hunting parties and anyone coming in or going out of the palace. The doors always closed quickly behind them, which gave the Hobbit a slight feeling of apprehension. : What did it feel like to have stone doors close on one? : he wondered with a shudder. That had nearly happened when escaping from the Goblins after fleeing the creature Gollum. He had lost many buttons in the process and did not want that to happen again! But he had to get out! Perhaps if he could get into the woods he could find the way out of Mirkwood and find Gandalf. He tried not to think of the endless sea of trees he had seen as he sat in the top of the giant oak tree so long ago. If he could just escape the walls of this prison he knew he could do it.
One day he stood near the doors and watched as a hunting party approached. In the group were the two friends of the King’s son. All the hunters carried their sturdy bows; their quivers filled with arrows fletched with pale brown feathers. They laughed and joked, but Bilbo heard their comments about the increase in the spider’s activities since the Dwarves had blundered though Mirkwood.
: I can do this. : Bilbo told himself as he fell into step behind the last hunter. : I can slip through before the doors close on me. :
The magic doors, one carved with a great beech tree and one with a great oak, slowly opened and the hunters filed out still speaking to one another in their soft musical voices. Bilbo stayed as close as he dared and approached the gaping gates.
: Steady, Baggins. We are almost there. :
As the last hunter slipped through, the doors immediately began to close. Bilbo hustled through, the great stone gates nearly pinching and scrapping his middle as he turned sideways to avoid being crushed by them as they shut with a delicate musical chime.
He breathed a sigh of relief then looked up. He was free! He was out of the Elf King’s Palace! He wanted to jump and shout his triumph aloud, but knew the folly of that. Instead he stood for a moment breathing deeply of the fresh air and feeling quite good. He was about to run and join the hunting party as they headed for the great stone bridge that spanned the forest river, called the Celon o Tinnu, the River of Night, by the Elves, when the doors opened once more.
Bilbo let out a woof of surprise as he was bowled over by another Elf and fell to the ground. The Elf fared no better as he crashed to the ground in an undignified heap. Bilbo hastily crawled to one side, wanting no more such mishaps, and sat catching his breath. The Elf sat up, looking very shocked.
The hunters had turned at his cry of surprise and were now laughing and smiling with amusement at his chagrin.
“What happened, Legolas?” Tavor called, his grey eyes shining. “Tripping over your own feet now?”
Legolas stood and turned, wondering what he had tripped over. But there was nothing in the path. His dark brows knit and he turned slowly to the others.
“I…I don’t know.” He answered, glancing behind him once more. There was something glinting on the paved stones, so he bent and picked it up. It was a tiny brass button with a daisy etched on it. None of the Elves wore brass buttons. Perhaps one of the Dwarves had lost it on the way in. He shrugged and tucked it into his tunic. As he turned away, brushing off his tunic and leggings, he thought he heard a voice mutter,
“Oh bother! My button!”
He spun toward the sound, but saw no one and nothing.
“Come, Prince Legolas. The spiders await.” Aradoltha called.
“Surely it is not Silivren Hithlain Man [White Mist Spirit] again.” Tavor asked with a malicious grin. He turned glancing into the trees beyond. “It is day and there is no mist. But does it now seek you in some other guise?”
“No.” Legolas said, glaring at his friend. “Don’t be ridiculous. Let us go.” He moved to join the others, brushing past the laughing Tavor.
“You still don’t believe in that, do you Legolas?” Brethil asked quietly, his own eyes betraying unseemly fear.
“No. Didn’t I just say that?” The Prince of Mirkwood shook his head and moved across the bridge. “Spirits don’t wear brass buttons.”
Brethil hastened after him.
“Silivren Hithlain Man.” He whispered, bumping into Legolas as he looked behind at the palace entrance.
Bilbo hurried behind, brushing at his jacket and breeches, staring at the empty place on his vest.
“My poor button. Bother that! I shall have to get it back.” His fingers plucked at the fabric with tiny threads still poking through. He moved silently over Iant or i Celon o Tinnu – the bridge over the River of Night. Then he ran to catch up with the hunters, two of whom were feeling somewhat uneasy now.
“We – We aren’t going near any willow groves, are we?” Brethil asked, clutching his bow tightly.
Tavor grinned at Aradoltha and Cuil, who grinned back shaking their heads.
“Well, actually Brethil, we were. The Dwarves seem to have stirred up the spiders that live near this unusual grove of ancient willows.” The older hunter said.
Brethil gasped and glanced at Legolas.
“You – you’re making that up, Cuil.” He stammered. “He is, isn’t he? I mean if Silivren Hithlain Man sees you it would –“
“He is making this up, Brethil.” Legolas stated sharply, glaring at Cuil and Aradoltha.
Bilbo, who only understood part of the words – though each day he learned more and more – had understood the words Silivren Hithlain Man. He had heard two young Elves discussing it one night as the mist crept ever closer to the palace.
: White Mist Spirit? Those two seem afraid of it, whatever it is. :
But a Hobbit is not easily frightened, and certainly not a Hobbit who had battled Trolls, Spiders, and overcome any number of terrifying things. Little did he know that in Silivren Hithlain Man would be a big help to him over the next few days. After all Hobbits are very inventive when needs strikes.
Silivren Hithlain Man was the name of a ghostly spirit that was said to live in a fabled willow grove somewhere in Mirkwood Forest. It was a tale passed down from the early ages and as a small child Legolas had heard it, while sitting before a great bonfire at one of the many feasts held by the wood Elves in the autumn. His brothers sensing his fear had taken advantage of it and woven a great tale about the legend, that Silivren Hithlain Man was ever seeking entrance to the palace to steal away the youngest royal child. It took the form of a dense mist that crept through the trees and across Celon o Tinnu to the very gates themselves. Both Celebross and Aralith had enjoyed terrorizing their younger brother, finding his childish fear a source of great delight.
Many a night Thranduil had a small child huddled in his bed, shaking with fear.
“Oh, Adar! I heard it! Silivren Hithlain Man! It is under my window! It was coming to get me! Please let me stay with you, Adar!”
It was Mithrandir who finally found a solution to the problem that did not lessen as quickly as Thranduil thought it should. The Istari had blown his “Magic Smoke Rings” in a protective circle about the room, much to the delight of the small Elf child.
“Nothing bad can get passed them.” He had promised solemnly. “Not a spider; not an Orc or Goblin; not a White Mist Spirit. You need fear nothing now, my young prince.” He tousled the blonde hair, his blue eyes twinkling kindly.
Legolas hadn’t thought of Mithrandir’s Angol Osp Echor [Magic Smoke Rings] in many years. But he thought of them now. He was seated at the table with his father and two brothers that night. They were outside, beneath the glittering stars of autumn in a secluded family garden that overlooked the river. Legolas’ eyes were looking worriedly at the dark trees beyond the River of Night. Mist was wending its way along the ground curling and pale, misty fingers creeping and grasping; slowly nearing the river’s edge.
: This is ridiculous. : He thought sternly. : I am not a child to be scared by mists and shadows. : He deliberately looked away from the white shrouded trees and reached for his bread. But his fingers closed on nothing. He turned to stare at the small white plate, the edges painted with delicate twining ivy leaves. He looked up in surprise, then at the ground and on his lap. But the bread was gone.
He glanced over at Celebross, whom, though he could taunt and tease, would not have played this sort of childish prank. But Aralith – Legolas scowled over at his other brother. He was speaking quietly to their father, his blue eyes innocent. Aralith was not one to hide his glee when he had pulled a particularly good trick.
Legolas shook his head and reached for another piece of bread and put it on his plate.
An owl hooted deep in the forest and he started, turning suddenly to stare across the River. He swallowed, noting how much closer the mist had crept in such a short space of time. Soon it would be spreading its skeletal white fingers across that black water and –
He turned away, reaching for his bread. But again the plate was empty. He looked to Aralith who was now speaking with Celebross.
Thranduil looked over at his youngest son and smiled. Legolas forced his lips to twist into what he hoped was a smile, then lifted the white tablecloth to peer beneath it. There was nothing under the table.
“What are you doing, little Greenleaf?”
He dropped the cloth into place and straightened, looking at his father.
“Nothing. I…um…I…’tis nothing.” He reached for yet another piece of bread.
“You don’t have that spider under there, do you?” Celebross asked, peering beneath the cloth himself.
“Of course not. I took her back to her nest.”
“All sparkly green and pink no doubt.” Aralith smirked.
Legolas glared at him, barely resisting the urge to stick out his tongue. Aralith struggled with the same old urge and Thranduil cleared his throat, eyebrows raised. The two brothers scowled fiercely at one another then turned away. Celebross shook his head and began to speak to his father once more.
Legolas, still scowling, reached for his bread, now convinced that it was Aralith who had taken the other pieces. But once again, the bread was gone.
He felt a shudder go through him. It hadn’t been Aralith that time; or Celebross either. Then who was it?
Silivren Hithlain Man.
He gasped slightly, feeling foolish, but unable to control the wave of unreasoning fear that shot through his body.
“Father?” His eyes strayed to the mist, which was moving out over the water even as he watched.
“Do you – Do you remember that – that pipe that Mithrandir gave me so long ago?”
Thranduil frowned in thought.
“Why yes. I have not thought of it in years. What has made you think of it?”
Celebross and Aralith exchanged glances, both turning to peer out over the water; Aralith’s chair squealing noisily as it scrapped across the flags.
“Silivren Hithlain Man!” they both exclaimed, looking over at their brother with wicked delight.
“That is not why!” Legolas said, hoping that he hadn’t sounded too petulant. “I was – I was merely wondering what had happened to it.”
“Yours only blew bubbles, Lego.” Celebross said. “Not Magic Smoke Rings.”
“They were Magic Bubbles, Celebross!” Legolas countered. “Mithrandir said so.”
Aralith stared at his younger brother in amazement.
“You didn’t really believe that, did you? You did!” He burst into peals of delight.
Legolas pushed to his feet.
“What about your Magic Spider Spray, Aralith? Or your Magic Goblin Doll, Celebross.”
Aralith sputtered, but his face reddened.
“How did you know about the Magic Spider Spray?” He asked.
“Was that why your room always smelled so funny?” Celebross asked with a grin.
“Oh! At least I didn’t sleep with a Goblin Doll. I suppose that you were just –“
“Silence!” Thranduil bellowed. “That is enough from you three!” He banged the table with his fist, causing the dishes and utensils to jump noisily. “You still act like children! I cannot believe this! Honestly I don’t know where you get this lack of maturity!”
Celebross looked to Aralith, who glanced at Legolas. Each could hear a voice shrieking when someone had thought that one of his necklaces was lost in Morn Nen. And Legolas could still see his father’s red face as he had yelled about poor Gwibess trying on his robes and necklaces, and leaving spider hair on everything.
When his three sons turned to look at him once more – Celebross’ eyebrows cocked in an exact imitation of his sire; Aralith smirking like Tavor in top form; and Legolas looking somewhat uneasily at him - : Please, no more pink tunics! : – Thranduil’s brows furrowed dangerously, his mouth turning down in a frown.
“What are you implying?” He asked quietly.
“Oh, nothing, Father.” Celebross said smoothly. “What makes you think we are implying anything?”
Thranduil turned to Aralith, who swallowed a tell tale laugh.
“Did Lego get all of the spider hairs from your indigo robe?” He snorted. He and Celebross had been informed of that little episode after their return.
Thranduil studied them closely.
“And is all of your jewelry accounted for now?” Aralith continued heedlessly.
Legolas stared at him in wonder. Aralith could not be unaware of the danger he was in!
: At least I will not be the one to get yelled at this time. : he thought seeing his father’s face darkening.
Thranduil opened his mouth, then amazingly he seemed to realize what he was about to do. Screaming at one’s children was really rather – well, immature. He closed his mouth, blinked a few times and turned to Legolas.
“Your Magic Bubble Pipe is in the chest in your mother’s room along with Celebross’ doll. Though I do not know where Aralith’s Spider Spray is.” He said calmly. Then he slowly stood. “Excuse me. Good night, nin ionnath.” And he walked sedately away.
“Great Valar!” Celebross breathed. “I have never seen him do that before. I thought you were in for it, Aralith. Perhaps there is hope for us yet.”
Aralith stared after their father, looking quite bewildered, but filled with relief.
Celebross grinned suddenly.
“Where is your Magic Spider Spray, Aralith?”
His brother flushed and glared at him.
“I am certain that I do not know!”
Celebross laughed and reached for a piece of bread, but the basket was empty.
“Who ate all the bread?” He asked.
Legolas turned to stare at his own plate. It was also empty. And the mist was now half way across Celon o Tinnu.
“Uh…Excuse me.” He said hastily and hurried to get his Magic Bubble Pipe.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.