23. Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Aran
Soon the spiders would be out of the palace; he would have his bed to himself once more; and they would have a great feast to celebrate this return to normalcy. Perhaps a Hunt was in order as well. It had been quite some time since the last one when their quarry had escaped toward Morn Nen.
He sighed happily, sipping his tea and allowing his thoughts to wander pleasantly.
Suddenly the peace of the morning was shattered as a grunting, hissing noise assailed his ears. He turned, frowning to see a spider trying to squeeze its way out of a window that opened in the hillside at ground level. He watched as it scrabbled with its four front legs at the wall, twisting itself and pushing to get free.
"It is mad!" It hissed frantically. "It is mad!"
With a final great contortion of its body it plopped to the ground. It shook itself and started to run, but then it saw Thranduil staring at it in amazement and shock.
"Thrumb Dumb!" It muttered, just as amazed and shocked.
"Did you address me?!" Thranduil asked feeling rather affronted.
Cablas stared at the Aran. Perhaps now was the time to test his shriek. If he was louder than Thrumb Dumb then he could order that made one to be locked safely away. Not to mention all the jewels and robes he would receive. He stared at the beautiful one that the King of the Shining Ones was wearing enviously. He rose to his full height and moved toward Thranduil, challenge sparkling in his eyes.
The king of Mirkwood stood, his own eyes flashing fire.
"I am warning you, spawn of Ungoliant," he began in a fierce voice.
But the spider rose onto its four back legs and shrieked for all it was worth, after all the kingship of Mirkwood was at stake. It's four front legs waved wildly in the air in a manner that he hoped Thrumb Dumb would find menacing.
Thranduil had started at the sudden noise, but then he scowled fiercely.
"GET OUT OF MY PALACE!!!!!!!!!!!"
Cablas froze, his mouth hanging open, his shriek dying in his throat. He stared down at the Elf king in shock, then he turned and fled thinking,: I will never be that loud! They are all mad! Who wants to be the Aran of a race of insane pointy -eared beasts! :
Thranduil stood panting with rage, his fists clenched. It was then that he saw Brethil climb gracefully through the same window, bow in hand. The young Elf saw the king and froze, his mouth falling open.
"Uh.your Majesty!.Mae Govannen! I was just.that is we were just chasing the spiders out of the palace like you asked us to. Though Aralith ran away before we could really start. He really is afraid of them, isn't he? And well, Legolas was acting very strangely, too. Not that he was afraid, mind you. No, just the opposite actually. He wanted the spiders to bite him. Honestly," Brethil shook his head, scarcely pausing for breath. "I don't know why "The Question" would disturb him so much. Do you know what "Question" he is talking about? Oh, I am sure you do. You are the king." He bowed. "And the king is wise and good, or is it good and wise? So what "Question" was it? Was that you screaming? Oh, yes. I thought that it must be - "
"Shut up, Brethil!!" Thranduil barked, his hands moving to clench his temples. He suddenly had a very bad headache. "Just.just tell me what is going on. In as few words as is possible for you." He managed to say, fingers gripping in his hair.
"I thought I was." Brethil answered, quite unaware of the affect he had on the king. "Shall I continue or should I start over? We were just chasing the spiders out of the - "
At that moment Remmith struggled through the window and fell into an ungainly heap on the ground. He too hesitated as he jumped up when he saw Thranduil. He seemed to consider something then he moved to face the king. And he shrieked.
Thranduil's eyes widened and his head throbbed unmercifully. He glared at the arachnid and bellowed as only he could.
Brethil stared at them in shock, wincing and covering his ears.
Remmith's voice died first in utter surprise at the volume the slender Elf could emit. His bid for the kingship was over. He shrugged. He had not truly wanted to be the Aran of the Shining Ones anyway. He clasped his jewels tightly against his chest and ran into the trees.
Thranduil turned to Brethil.
"Were those spiders wearing my jewels?" he asked in a soft deadly, somewhat hoarse voice. "And my clothes?!"
Brethil stared after the spiders.
"Well, yes. Actually I think they were. They seem to prefer your clothing for some reason. I guess they are much nicer than anyone else's. And they do look rather lovely in them, don't you think? Not as nice as yourself of course. But rather nice for spiders. Now Gwibess looks rather stunning in.in." Brethil's voice faltered as Thranduil advanced on him, fists clenched at his sides, handsome face contorted and red with anger. "I know.Shut up, Brethil." And with that he bowed and hastily followed after the spiders leaving the king glaring at nothing but the chrysanthemums.
Anger simmered in his brain turning all the bright colors of the sky, trees, and flowers a strange shade of scarlet that matched his countenance.
"LEGOLAS!!!" He shrieked and even Hiwdil knew that he had just lost the kingship that he was certain he had just acquired since the mad Elf was kneeling before him, clasping his bitten arm to his chest and crying "Thank you! Thank you!"
Tavor stared at Legolas a look of mystified distress on his face, the grey eyes wide. What had just happened?!
Hiwdil, upon hearing the Aran's last roar, which sounded suspiciously like "Let Go Lass" the one he feared he had just bitten, jumped into the air in fright. He then threw off his jewels and robes and bolted from the room, moaning in terror.
Tavor stared after him for a moment then turned back to Legolas who was bent double, rocking back and forth. He moved to place the torch in a wall sconce by the door and hastily knelt by his friend.
"Legolas, are you alright? Legolas!"
The prince raised his head and Tavor didn't know if he should be relieved or more alarmed. A smile graced his face, the blue eyes bright with triumph.
"It bit me!" he exclaimed happily. "It bit me! Do you see? It bit me!" He held out his arm for Tavor's inspection.
Tavor swallowed at his fear and took the proffered arm. He pushed aside the torn tunic and stared at the skin beneath. He looked back at Legolas who was nodding his head back and forth in delight. He let out a great sigh.
"Oh, thank Elbereth! It didn't break the skin." Tavor laughed, feeling somewhat better, though Legolas' current behavior troubled him. "That silly spider didn't bite anything but your tunic sleeve. You're fine. Truly, stop worrying."
"What!?" Legolas snatched his arm back and contorted it to look at the torn sleeve and the untouched skin of his arm. "No. No! He was supposed to bite me! Valar!" He leapt up. "What am I to do now?" He hunted about the room for his bow. "Where did it go? I will shoot it if it doesn't bite me properly this time!"
Tavor stood staring at him aghast.
"Legolas.um.I think you had better sit down. You seem a bit.overwrought." He took Legolas' arm, wondering how he could get word to someone begging for their help. Where was Brethil when he needed him?
"No, I can't do that. I have to find that spider!" His bow lay on the floor a few feet away. He scooped it up and pushed past Tavor.
"No! Legolas! Wait!" He moved after his friend, grabbing his arm tightly to halt him.
The prince stared at him impatiently.
"Let me go, Tavor. I have to catch that spider before it gets away!"
"It.it is long gone, I am sure. It was running very fast. You will never catch it and besides," he added for good measure. "You don't know which way it ran."
Legolas stared at him. Then his shoulders slumped in defeat.
"What am I to do then?" He stared down the empty hall, his brows knit in thought. Suddenly his face brightened. "Where is Gwibess?" He asked suddenly.
"Gwibess?" Tavor didn't like the turn this was taking. "I am sure I do not know. Come with me, Legolas. Perhaps Nestadren should take a look at you. You .you don't look well." : I wonder where the Healer is. : he thought, trying to push aside his fear.
But little Greenleaf would not be deterred from his determined course.
"I have to find Gwibess." And he pulled away, trotting down the hall.
Tavor shook his head and started after him. Where was everyone?!
"At least tell me what is going on. If I am to get in trouble yet again, I at least deserve to know what I am going to be punished for."
Legolas sighed, anxiety biting through him.
"Where is Brethil?" he asked. If he were going to tell someone it was not going to be Brethil.
"He went after the other two spiders. What is going on, Legolas?" Suddenly he paled. "Your.your father was yelling for you. Ai, Valar! What have we done now! Oh, Brethil! What have you done!?"
"Oh, no. Brethil knows about Bilbo, doesn't he? Ai! He has told father about Bilbo and then father will know the Dwarves are going to escape and the I knew it and didn't tell him!" He stared at Tavor in horror. "We have got to get out of here!"
Tavor blinked several times and shook his head. Then he nodded.
The two stared at one another, then trotted swiftly up the corridor.
But just as they neared the main hall and escape they heard something that stopped their hearts.
"LEGOLAS! WHERE ARE YOU?!"
The young Elves skidded to a halt, panting with fright. Thranduil would have them cornered unless they escaped now. It was then that Tanglinna appeared, his face full of consternation. Screaming Elf Kings this early in the morning was not a good sign. His eyes lit immediately on the two.
Legolas shook his head and threw a pleading glance in his direction.
But it was Thranduil next shout that decided the Master Archer's course. He scowled at his prince and his friend and turned away deliberately and disappeared, moving perhaps more quickly than was necessary away from them and away from the approaching King.
"Hurry! We'll go out my window!" Legolas decided and they turned and hurried as soundlessly as possible toward the living quarters.
They met Celebross in the hall. He frowned at them.
"What are you two up to now? I thought you were supposed to be chasing the spiders. And why is father yelling at you again, Legolas? And why is Aralith cowering under his bed?"
Legolas shook his head.
"I don't have time to talk now, Celebross. Tell father.tell father that we.that we are still chasing after the spiders." He grimaced as yet another piercing roar filled the air, much too close. "Please!"
Celebross sighed and nodded, remembering when he and Aralith had fled the castle to escape the earlier fireworks.
"Elbereth help you. Hurry! I will try and stall him. Though that may be nigh impossible. He sounds very angry."
Legolas smiled in relief and then grabbed Tavor's arm and rushed to his room.
Gwibess was there, prancing about in one of Legolas sheer green robes that were worn for the spring feasts. She looked up at them excitedly.
"Don't I look beautiful?" She crooned at them, waiting for the praise that was usually forth coming from the masters.
"Oh, Gwibess." Legolas groaned. "We can't leave her here. Come one, Gwibby. We have to go. Quickly!"
"What is wrong, Master Let Go Lass?" she asked as they pushed her toward the window, which had never seemed so small before.
"We need to .to.we are going camping for a while." Tavor improvised and then shrugged as Legolas gave him an odd look. "And what would you have said?" he asked.
"Fine. We are going camping, Gwibess. But we have to leave right now."
"Is that the Aran shrieking? Oh, dear Elbereth. He gets louder and louder. Is that why we are hurrying? Doesn't he want the nice Masters to go camping?"
The two shoved her into the window.
"Oh! Masters, the window is too small!" She grunted, feeling her body wedge tightly.
Tavor and Legolas leaned with their backs against her and pushed with all their might, their boots sliding on the floor with the effort.
"Oh, Masters! I can't move! Help me! I am stuck!" Her legs that remained in the room thrashed about in fear. "Help me, Masters!"
The two turned and pushed again, but she didn't budge.
"What.are.we.to.do?" Tavor panted, straining against the spiders bloated, hairy body.
"Keep pushing! We.have to. get..her out of here! Push Gwibess! Push!"
The spider grunted and pushed with all her might against the outside wall, trying to wriggle free.
Just then the bedroom door flew open and Thranduil stood there, his face suffused with red, his eyes narrowed blue chips of ice. He stood staring at them, his mouth twisted in anger. Celebross stood behind him, his face apologetic.
"Ai, Valar." Tavor moaned, trying not to think of Mandos Halls, and failing miserably. "Now I know how Glorfindel felt when he faced the Balrog. Only he was much braver than I. Ai, Elbereth, please let it be quick. Don't let me suffer, I beg you!"
"Shut up, Tavor." Legolas continued to strain against the spider, which squealed slightly, kicking even more frantically. His eyes never left his father's face, but he couldn't give up now. They were too close to escape.
"Legolas, what are you doing?" Thranduil asked, controlling his voice. His throat was feeling rather raw at present.
"Um.Getting the spiders out of the palace?" His feet slipped and he nearly fell.
"Why are they using the windows? And why are they shrieking at me!?"
"I.I.I don't know. You know how spiders are." He grinned weakly, but Thranduil's frown just deepened. "We've fed her entirely too much." He moaned to Tavor renewing his efforts.
"Is that spider wearing my robe?" Thranduil asked advancing on them.
"No. It is mine. You know I wouldn't let her wear yours.any more." Legolas could feel panic rising in him and what he feared was an attack of Brethilitis coming on. He knew the symptoms well: the tightness in his chest; the ache on his tongue; his brain feeling very hot and squeezed. "Ai, Valar! Not now."
Thranduil was nearly upon them and Legolas felt everything that he didn't want to tell his father rise in his throat when Gwibess popped free and fell out of the window. Tavor and Legolas fell against the wall and then with a quick panicked look at one another they launched themselves after the spider. They scrambled to their feet, urging Gwibess to run. She scrambled to her feet, throwing a look of disgust at Thrumb Dumb who stood in the window and shot after them.
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.