30. Out of the Hall of the Wood Elf King
Tonight was the night that he and the Dwarves would leave the Hall of the Wood Elf king!
He followed after the two on silent, invisible feet. The Elves seated themselves at a small table, two great silver bowls and a pitcher of the fragrant, heady wine was soon before them. It was a potent wine, one meant for delicate glasses to be sipped with a delicious meal, not gulped by a soldier and a servant out of rather large drinking bowls. They were soon chattering away at one another about the spill the king and his son had taken into Morn Nen.
"Here is to the wonderful water of Morn Nen!" Galion the butler chortled. "It has brought us yet another feast. At least until the king remembers."
"It has brought us this wonderful wine as well," Ecthelhador laughed, clinking their bowls together.
"Here is to the King's memory! May it stay lost - at least until this night is over!"
Bilbo covered his mouth with his hand to stop the laughter from bubbling over his lips. Really, Wood Elves could be quite silly!
Galion was deep in conversation about all that had happened since the Dwarves' arrival when Ecthelhador blinked slowly several times. He then lay his head down on the table and began to snore softly.
Bilbo smiled again. Luck was indeed with him!
Galion continued to talk for some time, unaware that his companion was no longer listening to him.
"Do you suppose Legolas the Sparkly Green will make another appearance? I truly wish that I had been down here that night!" He exclaimed, slurring the words slightly. "He is dressed in green tonight - again!" He grinned suddenly. "With bright orange lilies in his hair!" He laughed out loud, taking another swallow of the excellent wine. "At least he isn't in that pink tunic tonight. Do you remember that one? It disappeared somewhat mysteriously from what I have heard." He yawned widely and blinked, staring somewhat blurrily at Ecthelhador . "Are you asleep?" He asked, stifling another yawn and hiccupping slightly. He was feeling somewhat sleepy himself. He passed a slim hand over his face, brushing aside a stray strand of silvery hair. "I hope King Thranduil isn't upset with us all when he realizes what has happened. Letting him think that - this was the - Autumn Feast - and all." His head dipped lower. No one would notice if he took a quick nap. The Dwarves were fed and locked up tight. He laid his heavy head on the table and was instantly asleep, eyes vacant and staring.
Bilbo waited a moment before moving into action. It still unnerved him to see the Elves sleeping with their eyes open. He crept across the hall, taking the heavy iron ring of keys from Ecthelhador's leather belt. He gritted his teeth and froze when they clanked together noisily. But the chief of the guards merely murmured something then turned his head to the wall, still sleeping soundly.
The Hobbit moved away from the two Elves and hurried off to the Dwarves' cells. He unlocked Balin's door first, startling the old Dwarf who was settling down for the night. But he was very pleased when he saw Bilbo standing there carrying the keys.
"Thank you, Bilbo," he said "I knew you would get us out of here at last! You are a very clever Hobbit."
Bilbo blushed under the praise and smiled.
"What is your plan?" Balin continued. "How will you get us free of this place?"
"I have no time to discuss it now, Balin. We must get the others out and be on our way as quickly as possible! This is our last chance! If we are caught who knows what the King will do to you next!" He shuddered to think of how angry Thranduil would be when his memory returned only to find that the Dwarves had tried to escape on top of it! "He will probably chain you up somewhere, hands and feet!"
They hustled down the hall to the other cells. Bombur, who had spent a great deal of time in the Elves' kitchens lately was quite sorry to see it all ending.
"How will I ever know if he liked what I prepared for him?" He asked morosely.
"You can talk to him at some other time!" Bilbo exclaimed, hissing them all to silence as he unlocked Gloin's cell. "But we must make haste!" He lived in fear that the two Elves would awaken and catch them. Or worse yet, that the King would regain his memory and come storming down to the cells to check on the prisoners.
Gloin squinted at them, his hand over his heart.
"Are you ready to go, Gloin?" Bilbo asked him tenderly as the Dwarf joined them.
He nodded, his head bent, fingers twined in his dirty hood.
Balin sighed and patted his shoulder.
"You will meet - er - "her" again, I am sure, Gloin. But we must be going. The Dragon awaits," he reassured. He still wasn't positive himself about the Prince or Princess. But he was eager to be on his way just the same.
Gloin merely nodded and as they traveled down the hall bumping and stumbling into one another in the dark, they could hear him softly singing,
"Fair as a rose in May, Elven maiden with hair of gold."
At last they arrived at Thorin's cell, which was closest to their destination. The Dwarf leader was rather amazed at the sight of them all standing outside his cell, quite unharmed.
"Upon my word!" He exclaimed. "Gandalf spoke true, as usual! A pretty fine burglar you make, it seems, when the time comes. I am sure we are all forever at your service, whatever happens after this. But what comes next?"
Bilbo drew a deep breath and began to tell them of his plan. He knew that he would encounter opposition, after all, the Dwarves had been trapped in their tiny cells for many weeks now and would not take kindly to being stuffed into barrels for an unknown amount of time, floating off down the river and out of the forest.
"We shall be all bruised and battered to pieces!" Nori squeaked.
"And drowned, too, for certain." Bifur muttered.
"We thought you had some sensible notion, when you managed to get hold of the keys. This is madness!" Dwalin huffed.
Bilbo sighed dejectedly.
"Very well! Come along back to your nice cells, and I will lock you all in again, and you can sit there comfortably and think of a better plan - but I don't suppose I shall ever get hold of the keys again, even if I feel inclined to try."
Bombur was nodding. He was all for staying, and then he would find out what the king thought of his food. Gloin looked hopefully at Thorin, but knew they would leave this night. As he trudged after Bilbo toward the lowest cellars he glanced back up the hall where they had come from.
"Crowned with flowers bright as day. You've touched my heart once stony and cold."
He knew a piece of his heart would always reside here in Mirkwood with a golden haired Elf maiden named Legolas the Sparkly Green.
~I should have brought him the wreath, ~ Bilbo thought with a sigh. ~Or at least one of the lilies!
Bilbo had stuffed the Dwarves into their barrels, padding them with some straw that he had found trying to make them as comfortable as possible. Bombur was delighted with his, as it still smelt of the apples that had been packed in it. The Hobbit had just finished shutting in a very grumbly, growly Thorin when he heard voices and saw the flicker of lights. Soon a number of Elves entered the cellars talking and laughing. They began to hunt for old Galion whom it seemed was late bringing up the wine. They found him and Ecthelhador sleeping peacefully, faces contented and happy in their dreaming state. They soon woke the butler who was not at all pleased at having his slumber interrupted. They of course had to sample the excellent Dorwinion wine for themselves and soon found out why the butler had been somewhat remiss in his duties to the king.
"Get on with the work!" Galion growled at them urging them to dump the empty barrels into the water and send them on their way. The younger Elves complained that the barrels did not feel empty and that they would not take the blame if the king's butter tubs and best wine were pushed into the river by mistake. It seemed that the king was acting rather strangely just at present and they feared that his odd mood might turn onto them.
Bilbo, invisible once again, watched as one by one the barrels were rolled down into the tunnel leading to the river to the accompaniment of the Barrel Song. He bit at his bottom lip hoping that the Dwarves would be all right. But then he realized something he had not thought of. What was he to do with himself? He certainly didn't wish to stay here forever, creeping about the Halls with only Legolas and his friends for company. Besides, the Dwarves wouldn't know what to do without him!
As the very last barrel was rolled to the doors, he caught hold of it and felt it drop into the cold water below. He clung to it with all his strength feeling the barrel roll, sending him beneath the water and then righting itself. But as he scrambled about he found that the barrel continued to roll because it was actually an empty barrel. He floated with it out the doors and into the tunnel leading to the river beyond. He could still hear the song of the Elves behind him and then he heard the water- gate close with a boom. The voices became fainter and then faded away.
~Good bye, Prince Legolas, ~ he thought silently. ~I hope we may meet again someday! ~
He wasn't certain of the exact moment the first memory crept in upon him. He had been enjoying the feasting , the singing, the dancing, and the general merriment. His eyes slid amongst his fair folk, pleased by their happy countenances, and bright clothing. His eyes came to rest on his youngest son, the orange lilies catching his attention. He smiled indulgently at his son who had not made even one complaint this evening about his shimmery green outfit and floral wreath.
~Yes, ~ he thought with great satisfaction. ~He is learning! Perhaps that pink outfit did the trick ---~ He frowned. Pink outfit? The frown deepened to a scowl. He plucked up his goblet and took a swallow of the wine. Where was Galion with the good Dorwinion stuff? WHAT PINK OUTFIT??!!
He turned to glare at his Master Archer who was seated to his left. Tanglinna, feeling his king's gaze upon him, turned slightly. Instantly he knew there was trouble.
"Is something wrong, your Majesty?" He asked, hoping that his voice didn't betray his anxiety.
"Yes, Tanglinna, there is! Where is Legolas' pink outfit?"
The Archer's eyes widened and he felt his throat close slightly.
"Prince Legolas' pink outfit, your Majesty?"
Thranduil's scowl deepened further as he tried to force his memories into submission. There was something - a spider? Was it one spider or - four? He shook his head. Nay, that could not be it! Spiders indeed! But all the same his narrowed eyes moved back to his son. He was sitting with Tavor and Brethil, laughing and talking. Why did he feel so strongly that he should be quite upset with them?
Tanglinna followed the direction of the king's gaze. He grimaced. ~Not now! ~ He thought. ~Please not now! ~
"Are you feeling quite well, your Majesty?" He managed, fingers twining in the linen napkin on his lap.
"No, I am not! Why should I be angry with them, Tanglinna? Tell me!" Suddenly Thranduil turned to the Master Archer. "And with YOU!"
Tanglinna gasped slightly as the hawk like gaze fell upon him. He didn't feel very well himself!
"I - I - Your Majesty, I don't know what you are talking about!"
"Don't you?" One eyebrow raised and Tanglinna knew he was done for. "You were there, Tanglinna. When Legolas cut off his warrior braid! You were the one who caught me when I Brethil ran into me!"
The Archer couldn't prevent himself from glancing over at the prince who was oblivious of the danger that was suddenly brewing.
"You - you remember that, do you?"
Thranduil's mouth twisted.
"Why do I have the feeling that the way you "phrased" that question is very important?" He growled low in his throat.
"I - I - I can't imagine why you would think that? It is just a simple question, really!" The Archer hedged. Suddenly all of Tavor's talk of Mandos Halls sounded rather pleasant.
Now that Thranduil was making an effort to gather his thoughts coherently, images filled his mind. He pursed his lips in concentration. Suddenly he started to his feet.
"Don't even think about moving, Tanglinna," he ordered, his voice a hiss, more like a spider than an Elven king.
Everyone paused in their activities as the king strode from the room.
Brethil watched him go, assessing him minutely.
"He's remembered," he said taking another bite of the luscious cake prepared by Bombur. Creamy, fluffy icing that stood several inches tall topped the white cake. It was in the shape of a tree to honor the Elves. "This is the best thing that I have ever tasted," he continued, oblivious to the panicked looks on his friends' faces. "That Dwarf is an excellent baker! I wonder if your father has tasted this yet, Legolas."
But the prince was staring across the table at Tanglinna.
The Archer was sitting stiffly, eyes narrowed with anxiety. Slowly he raised his head to meet the other's gaze. He shook his head and drew a finger across his throat.
"Ai, Valar!" Legolas croaked. "He "has" remembered!"
"I told you," Brethil said, shoveling more cake into his mouth. "You really should try this. It is very good!"
"Why can't I remember?! I remembered Bilbo's button, didn't I?" His eyes widened. "Oh, no! The Dwarves!" He turned to grasp Tavor's arm. "I can't tell him about the Dwarves!" I promised Bilbo I wouldn't! At least I think I promised Bilbo that I wouldn't! Help me, Tavor!" He gripped his friend's arm like a vise, teeth clamped tightly together.
"It will be so beautiful there," Tavor said in an unconcerned voice. "So quiet, and peaceful: no one screaming or shrieking; no Dwarves; no spiders; no Orcs - singing or otherwise; no one trying to pull your arm off. It will be "so" nice."
Legolas backed away from him with a horrified look on his face.
"Mandos Halls again," Brethil murmured ingenuously, licking the sugary icing from his fingers. "I think Tanglinna wished to join him. He looks rather - upset."
The prince of Mirkwood stared at the Archer who had turned and was gazing at the doorway. Legolas' blue eyes traveled there as well. His mouth dropped open.
"Now you look rather upset," Brethil commented. "Almost balrogged I would say!"
Everyone in the hall looked to see the king standing there, hands clenched at his sides.
"WHERE IS CELEB BAUDH??!!"
Tanglinna jumped visibly.
"I am done for," he murmured as the feasters hastily rose and exited the hall through the opposite door, as far from the king as possible.
The Archer stood as well, hoping he could make good his own escape, but it was not to be.
"Sit down!" Thranduil ordered, advancing slowly into the room
"It is as the footsteps of doom," Brethil intoned, licking his fork.
"We "are" doomed," Tavor said quietly, now that visions of Mandos Halls had been scared from his mind by the king's shriek. He pressed his hand to his racing heart.
"The king is good and wise." Brethil said, now examining the fork to see if he had missed any icing.
"Little Greenleaf, I need to speak with you," Thranduil said, his eyes flashing fiercely.
Legolas' legs suddenly began to shake, all the calmness and merriment having fled before his father's wrath.
"Adar! I - I don't remember anything! I - I fell into Morn Nen, too! I don't know why I can't remember anything and you can! I don't know why!"
"Morn Nen? And what were we doing at Morn Nen?"
"He doesn't remember everything it seems."
"Shut up, Brethil!"
"Oh, very well, your Majesty." The young Elf cut another slice of cake. "Can't talk when my mouth is full anyway," he grinned.
"I - I don't remember," Legolas began again, nearly tipping his chair over as he backed away. But then he "did" remember.
"Oh! Oh! We were getting the jewels back from the spiders!" He said, eyes brightening as knowledge once lost came flooding back.
"Spiders?" Thranduil whispered, touching his face. "Spiders!"
"Yes! Yes! You remember! The ones that made up your face! You looked like a princess!" He laughed aloud. "I thought it was very funny since you had put me into that pink outfit. Poetic justice! Almost! I was pretty in pink and you looked like a princess, too, in your makeup! Like father, like son!"
Tavor seemed to start from his stupor at this and stared up at the prince in disbelief.
"He's turned into you," he murmured in amazement to Brethil behind Legolas' back.
The other Elf nodded, eating his cake and for once, not saying anything.
Thranduil's face reddened, which should have been a warning sign to his son, but Legolas continued heedlessly, ticking various memories off on his fingers:
"And there was the hair on your robes. Gwibess did that, but she was very sorry and won't do it again. But the two of you would make great friends if you would just give her the chance. You both like fancy clothes and sparkly things -"
"Shut up, Legolas!" Tavor hissed from the side of his mouth. "Shut up!"
"And polishing your gems! Do you recall how many days it took the four of us to polish all your gems and things? I thought we would never finish!" He grinned at his father. "And then of course there were the Orcs!"
Mirkwood's prince nodded.
"Yes! They were looking for the Singing Orc Princess," he giggled somewhat hysterically. "Fancy that! Singing Orcs! Of course we showed them that we are fierce, feral warriors of Mirkwood!" He made what he hoped was a fierce, feral face, but the lilies and the green shimmery clothing rather ruined the effect.
Thranduil was breathing deeply now, trying to control himself. It was one thing to listen to Brethil's inane chatter, but quite another to listen to his son's.
"Shut up, Legolas!" Tavor hissed again, tugging on the green robe.
Thranduil drew another deep breath.
"Where is Celeb Baudh?" He asked once again.
"Celeb Baudh? I don't know the answer to that one," Legolas shrugged. "But I remember the Wild Berry War!" He grinned hopefully.
"Wild Berry War?"
"It was very fun! You see, it started when Celuon and I started throwing berries at one another. Rather like this." He scooped up a small piece of Gloin's cake and threw it at his father who now stood a few feet away. It splattered on Thranduil's nose.
"Great Valar!" Tanglinna breathed. He had managed to stay in his seat as ordered, thus far avoiding the king's notice.
"Legolas!" Tavor gasped.
Brethil frowned slightly.
"The king is good and wise. And sticky. You look balrogged now, Tavor. You are wasting it," he pouted cutting a huge chunk from the remainder of the large cake and placing it on his plate..
Thranduil glared at his son, who grimaced as he realized what he had done. The king wiped the sugar off his face. He stared at it then licked it from his fingers. He frowned slightly, then grinned.
"That is quite good actually."
"I told you," Brethil chimed in. "But no one ever listens to me. Honestly, I have a great many things to tell you, things that you need to know, but you are always telling me -"
"Shut up, Brethil!" Three voices said at once.
"Exactly." Brethil shook his blonde head and continued eating.
Thranduil looked at Legolas once more. Then he deliberately moved, closing the distance between them.
"Adar! Please! I - I don't know what just happened! I -"
Suddenly a piece of cake caught him in the face, effectively silencing his words.
Tanglinna stared in shock at them, then burst out laughing.
The king and his son turned as one to stare at him, blue eyes identical beneath one raised brow.
"You think that was funny, Master Archer of Mirkwood?" Thranduil asked.
"Ah, well, no. That is - well -" But before he could vacate his seat and gain his freedom, two well aimed pieces of cake hit him.
"You are wasting it!" Brethil gasped again, grabbing the remainder from them.
"Oh, truly?" Thranduil winked at Legolas and they advanced on Brethil.
Soon all five Elves were covered with sticky cake and icing, laughing uproariously. Suddenly a loud shriek filled the air. The Elves cringed, never had they heard such a loud noise, not even from their king! As it died away, they turned to see Gwibess standing in the doorway.
"What are you doing, Gwibess!?" Legolas asked the spider who was still adorned in the first green outfit.
"Thrumb Dumb needs to learn to be nice to the Masters!!" She shrieked loudly. "If not I will become the Aran!"
"She was the loudest!" Tavor commented, rubbing his aching ears. "Even louder than Thrumb Dumb - er - the King - er King Thranduil."
Thranduil looked at Tavor with a glare and then at the giant spider.
"Actually - Gwibess? - I have a necklace that will compliment that outfit rather nicely."
The spider's many eyes widened. Then she smiled.
"Truly, O Great Thrumb Dumb?"
"Yes, remind me later and I will give it to you."
The spider pounced across the room with amazing speed. She swept the Aran into the air, holding him in at least four of her long legs.
"I always knew you were a nice Aran! I did!"
It was Legolas that laughed first and then Tavor and Brethil. Then Tanglinna shook his head and began to shake with mirth as well.
When at last they had managed to calm themselves, Thranduil frowned as he was placed on the floor.
"Speaking of jewelry - where is Celeb Baudh?"
The next day the five Elves headed for Morn Nen. Tanglinna was silent, not looking at anyone about him. He had never been so embarrassed in his life. Why did he ever think that throwing Celeb Baudh into Morn Nen would work? Thranduil had not been amused.
After several hours of hard riding through the forest they suddenly reined in. There were voices singing ahead, near the enchanted river. They dismounted and moved silently forward. The voices were unlovely and gruff though the words carried clearly enough.
"Once the Singing Orc Princess fair and bright, Came running to us in the night. Joy filled our hearts at that lovely sight As the Singing Orc Princess ran fair and bright!"
Legolas' eyes widened in shock and anger!
"They are singing about us!"
"Then came the Queen so fierce and bright, Came running to us in the night. Joy filled our hearts at that lovely sight! As the Queen ran so fierce and bright!"
"The Queen?" Brethil frowned. Then he smiled. "Oh! Yes! They mean you, King Thranduil! They "were" admiring you! That is exactly what I had thought!"
Thranduil narrowed his eyes. He didn't like the idea of Orcs singing about him. And calling him a Queen no less!
"Their golden hair flowing, so fine and bright, As they came running to us in the night! Joy filled our hearts at that lovely sight! As the Queen and the Princess ran so fine and bright!"
"I will not stand for this!" The king of Mirkwood growled. He drew his sword and rushed toward the voices, followed closely by his companions.
"Oh, look!" Brethil gasped, as they broke into the clearing. He pointed at the tallest Orc. "He is wearing Celeb Baudh!"
"Well, Frodo my lad, what did you think of that little adventure of mine?"
The young Hobbit stared up at his cousin, blue eyes wide. He was sitting on his knees, leaning somewhat forward.
"Did that really happen, Cousin Bilbo?" He chirped, the cookie in his hand forgotten for sometime now.
"Of course it did. All of it is true. Every word." The older Hobbit smiled and winked.
Frodo studied him for a moment, then a shy grin crept over his face.
"Did he really act "that" silly?"
"Yes, he did, the poor prince. He has had some adventures of his own it would appear!"
"Do you know any more stories from Mirkwood?" The little Hobbit gobbled his cookie, still staring intently at his cousin. -" He giggled. "Did Legolas get into trouble again? Did Tanglinna get into trouble for throwing that crown into Morn Nen? Did King Thranduil remember the Dwarves at last? What happened to the Orcs? What about Gwibess? -"
"Slow down, little one! Slow down! Of course I know what happened! I did see the Prince at the Battle of Five Armies after all. He told me everything." He shook his head. "My goodness! Yes, I know what happened in Mirkwood after we left the Wood Elf King's Hall, but that is tale for another day, and some others besides. Are you up to a visit to Miss Pip's house?" He asked. "I am sure she will be glad to show you the Bubble Pipe that once belonged to Prince Let Go Lass!"
Frodo jumped up, eyes bright.
"Really? Will she let me hold it, do you think?"
"I am sure she will let you make bubbles with it!"
Frodo smiled, the blue eyes so bright and happy, and Bilbo felt his heart melt. He really did love his little cousin and was glad that the sadness that had nigh overwhelmed him earlier seemed to have dissipated.
"Well, come along then! We can clean this mess up later. Perhaps I will have another story to tell you then." He held out his hand and Frodo took it. The child skipped ahead of him out of Bag End, dragging his cousin behind him.
"Will I ever have an adventure, Cousin Bilbo? One with Prince Let Go Lass maybe?" He grinned at the joke.
"Who can say, Frodo? One never knows when a Wizard might show up at your door. Who can say?"
Author's Note - Okay!! There is NO epilogue as this one just ended it all! It was not how I planned it, but little in this story has been! Now it is off to Hollin, and Rivendell with the Morn Nen wine, and Elrond's Council, and the black squirrels, and Glorfindel, and------------ (TreeHugger gets a rather blank expression on her face) WILL THIS MADNESS NEVER END!!!!!! Erm ---Never mind! <G> I want to thank you all for reading this story and I hope you have enjoyed following it as much as I have enjoyed writing it! You have made me very, very happy with your wonderful responses! It has been so much fun! Thank you again!
Author's Note - The Orcs' Song was one that The Sadistic Cow had mentioned in an earlier review. Whoever heard of Orcs singing songs??!! Oh, well. I guess some of them do! <G>
Author's Note - Balrogged is ziggy's word as she thought of it. We all know that look - if you have seen the movie anyway! As in "Ai! Ai, a Balrog has come!" Cool word!
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.