14. Like Father, Like Son
"What is that?" They queried jealously seeing the beautiful clothing and the sparkling necklace that still hung about her neck.
"The masters gave them to me. Aren't they pretty?"
The three other spiders nodded enviously, one reaching out a long furry leg to touch the sparkly green robe.
"Who are your masters? We have no masters."
"Let Go Lass, Ta Worm, and Breathe Ill."
"Do they always give you presents? They don't try to hurt you?"
"No. They are nice masters. They have never hurt me. The masters are very kind. Look."
She pulled down one tightly wrapped ball of webbing and tore it open. Inside were several necklaces and gems.
The others gaped at the treasure and looked at one another.
"Perhaps we should have masters." They said enviously.
"We can't be nice to the Elves. They are mean to us." One of them hissed. "They hurt us and kill us!"
"They are nice masters. Come I will show you how to be nice. Come; come. I know where they keep the Magic Water!"
The three spiders started after Gwibess, looking quite uncertain about the whole thing.
"They will give us beautiful things, will they?"
"Yes. The masters are very kind and good."
The three looked at one another.
"If we drink their Magic Water, then they will be kind to us as well?"
"Yes. The Magic Water is good. Come with me. I know where they hide it."
The three spiders looked at one another again. They shrugged and followed Gwibess toward Gladaran Thamas.
Calenthar watched as Prince Legolas dug through his father's clothing, carelessly discarding any he felt were not suitable on the floor behind him. He was humming quite happily, holding up soft shimmering robes and admiring himself in the mirror, then tossing them over his shoulder onto the ever growing pile.
"My prince? Do you really think this is wise?" He managed to ask, as he hastily bent and began to lay the clothing on the bed.
"The king is good and wise." Legolas sang, and then laughed. "Good, wise and very, very sparkly." He held up a particularly shimmery green robe and shook it to watch the light dance off it. "Actually I think the Dwarves would like this one. They like sparkling, glittering things like gold and gems. They should be quite impressed with this one! And it is green, Calenthar! Green! Legolas the Sparkly Green! This is the one!" He held it against himself and spun around, then landed unceremoniously on the floor in a laughing heap. "Whoops! The king has slippery clothes!" Giggling he stood, brushing his hair from his face. "Where is Bilbo? I would really like his opinion on this. He knows the Dwarves so much better than I do. Bilbo? Are you here?" He hunted about the room unaware of the alarm that Calenthar was experiencing.
"Stay right there, Prince Legolas. I ...I will be right back." He fled the room and hurried to fetch Tanglinna. Legolas scarcely heard him as he turned to rummage in another chest, this one containing his father's crowns and circlets. Bilbo was tucked into a corner behind a rather ornately carved chair with a cushioned seat embroidered with tiny red flowers on a dark blue background. He couldn't stop the grin that spread over his face.
: Reminds me of Little Pip playing at dress up! : he thought, covering his mouth so his mirth wouldn't be heard. : Though she is a young girl and he is a grown Elf! :
Calenthar ran swiftly down the corridor on silent feet.
: I wonder where the king is? : he thought frantically. : Please, Elbereth! Don't let him go to his room! I am begging you! : He knew well how Thranduil would react if he found his son in such a condition. Whatever that condition was!
He ran to the dungeons where Cuil and Tanglinna were awaiting his coming, supposedly with the hairbrush. He skidded to a halt before them.
"Did you find it?" Cuil asked with a smile.
Calenthar shook his head, catching his breath.
Tanglinna's eyes narrowed.
"What is it now? He didn't tie any squirrels to the giant bats so he could see them fly again, did he?"
"No. I ...I don't know what is wrong with him. He is acting...strangely."
Tanglinna scowled deeply and moved away.
Cuil turned to Calenthar.
"What happened?" he asked.
"I know not. He was behaving oddly when I found him."
"Well...Tanglinna will know what to do. Were Tavor and Brethil with him?"
"No. He was alone. Though he said something about someone named Bilbo."
"Bilbo?!" A voice chimed from within the cell. "Where is Bilbo? Have you seen him?"
The two Elves glanced uneasily at one another.
"He did say he was a Dwarf. That is - not a Dwarf. And he had furry feet." Calenthar murmured to Cuil.
"Furry footed Dwarf?" Cuil shook his head. "The king will not be pleased when he hears of this."
"I'm not telling him." Calenthar snorted, folding his arms over his chest.
Cuil raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I haven't seen this Dwarf or the prince. So I know nothing of the matter."
The two stared at one another and nodded conspiratorially at one another.
"There is nothing to tell." Cuil concluded. "Nothing at all."
The moment the older Elf with a spill of silver hair entered the room, Bilbo knew that he was not one to cross or try to fool. The Hobbit remained completely motionless behind the chair, not even aware that he was holding his breath. At that moment it wouldn't have mattered. Tanglinna's sharp eyes went to Legolas who was lying on the floor, one foot wriggling in the air as he struggled to pull on the green boots that just matched the robe. The Master Archer studied him for some time saying nothing, his arms folded across his chest, a smirk on his face. He sniffed the air like a wolf scenting his prey and shook his head. Where had the lad gotten pipeweed? He watched as his prince grunted and tugged at the boot, his foot finally slid in and dropped to the floor with a thunk.
"Ouch." Legolas lay with his arms thrown over his head for a moment and Tanglinna could hear a low humming coming from his throat.
"Ahem!" Tanglinna moved farther into the room. "What are you doing this fine evening, Prince Legolas?"
Legolas rolled his head to stare at the archer. He smiled woozily.
"Greetings, Tanglinna! Oof!" He pushed himself to a sitting position. "My but your hair looks beautiful in this light. All shiny and ...silver! And...I am doing very well this fine evening."
Tanglinna's lips twitched as he reached down one hand and pulled the younger Elf to his feet. "I will just bet you are." He said quietly. "Does your father know you are in here playing dress-up?"
"I am not playing dress-up." Legolas said in an offended voice. "I am just...dressing up. I am Legolas the Sparkly Green. And - oh! Look! Don't I sparkle nicely!" He spun about, his head thrown back, hair fanning out behind him. "Oh! And look! Isn't it just divine!" He staggered across to the bed somewhat dizzily and plucked up an ornate circlet of silver, shaped like oak leaves and dripping with emeralds. He jammed it onto his blonde locks and grinned happily. He sashayed over to the mirror and stared dreamily at his reflection.
"What have you been doing this fine evening, my prince?" Tanglinna repeated.
"I look so pretty, Tanglinna. The Dwarves will be so happy to see me!"
Tanglinna had a choice to make. He could either escort the prince down to his room and tuck him into bed with a strong cup of Vandal Root tea or - He smiled.
"Come, my prince. The Dwarves await."
"Wait! Wait! My pipe! I can't forget my pipe!"
"Your pipe?" Tanglinna's eyebrows rose.
Legolas dug through the pile of clothing on the bed until he had located his pipe.
"Amlug o i Angol Osp Echor." He smiled, turning shining blue eyes on the Master Archer. "They are going to love me." He said, blowing a bubble.
"They already do, my prince. They already do."
He took Legolas' arm and steered him toward the doorway. In his mind's eye Tanglinna could see another Elf twirling dizzily about a clearing in a new kingdom founded in Greenwood the Great, blue eyes dazed and happy as he tried to dance with a rather surprised captive Goblin, the smell of an unusual leaf from the west drifting on the air. Tanglinna's green eyes shone.
"Like father, like son." He murmured and laughed.
Legolas joined him completely oblivious as to why they were laughing.
"Like father, like son." He repeated, then blew some bubbles into the air.
Thranduil, who had been feeling rather badly about imprisoning the Dwarves for no good reason, had been heading down the hallway, thinking that perhaps he should just let the Dwarves go. Have them escorted to the edge of Mirkwood - blindfolded of course - and let them travel on their merry way to where ever it was they were headed. He had drunk several glasses of rather nice wine made by Men in distant lands and felt rather magnanimous. Yes, it would look very good to let them go. After all what had they truly done, other than stir up the spiders. And everyone knew that it didn't take much to get the spiders started. Dreadful, horrid beasts! And as for those few that thought that his son was a girl - well, it was the fault of that awful pink tunic. And who could blame the Dwarves. Surely none of their women could rival any Elf, male or female. He had even heard a rumor that Dwarven ladies had beards to rival their men's. Yes, he should let them go. It was irritating to feed them any way. He sang quietly under his breath as he neared his room. He was only mildly surprised to see his door standing open. He eased into the room and stopped dead in his tracks, the words of his song dying in his throat.
Four spiders were in his room, trying on his clothing, which lay scattered about in great disarray. They were chattering at one another happily, fondling the silky materials, rubbing it against their faces and ...purring?
Thranduil stared at them, his eyes widening in shock that was swiftly turning to anger. His face reddened and his fists clenched.
"Get out!" he hissed, advancing on them, looking about for his sword. "GET OUT!!"
The spiders jumped surprised at the loud voice so close behind them.
"Who is that?" One asked, dropping a scarlet robe in surprise.
"Is that one of the Masters?"
"No." Gwibess hissed, hastily snatching a violet robe that she favored. "It is the loud one, Thrumb Dumb. Hurry, we must go. Hurry!"
The four spiders, snatching at garments ran hastily past the Elven King, who stood sputtering impotently at them. He glared after them, then turned to his room. His beautiful clothing was thrown about carelessly, his chests and trunks standing open. He breathed harshly through his mouth, preparing himself for a shout that would shake the very foundations of the palace and everyone in it.
In the secret corridor that Gwibess had shown the others, the spiders cowered down, throwing their garments over their heads in fear.
"He is a bad one, he is." Gwibess whispered. "Very noisy!"
In the dungeons the Dwarves shook and wondered what had befallen now. Surely Smaug himself must be attacking. Bilbo jumped in spite of himself, holding tightly to the finger that his ring encircled. :Here we go again. : he thought. And the Elves of Mirkwood cringed wondering what the prince had done this time. Tanglinna smiled eagerly looking forward to the fireworks that would were coming. And Legolas merely blew a bubble.
"Uh oh." he sang. "I'm in trouble." He reached up and popped his bubble, giggling.