7. Spiders and a Shrieking Blonde Beast
“Dwarves?” He managed to say at last, his eyes wide with feigned innocence. “I don’t think I said anything about Dwarves, father. You…you must be…uh…mistaken.” The last word was a whisper, barely croaked out passed the tightening in his throat.
Aralith couldn’t stop the snicker from passing his own lips. He cleared his throat to cover it, but Thranduil hadn’t heard.
“I must be what?” he said to his youngest son quietly. “I don’t believe that I heard you correctly.”
Legolas swallowed, knowing that his words could not have been more poorly chosen.
: Where are Tavor and Brethil? : he thought feeling panic rising. : How could they leave me alone now! :
“Look at me, little Greenleaf. And tell me what you said.”
Legolas lifted his eyes to his formidable father. The blue eyes weren’t sparkling with amusement now. He glanced at his brothers and saw enjoyment on their faces. He scowled at them.
Tanglinna, who had moved nearer to them, positioning himself so he could see both Thranduil’s and Legolas’ faces, grinned widely. At that moment they looked very similar.
Suddenly two Dwarves burst into the clearing, dancing and jigging about. The Elves burst into peals of melodious laughter. Legolas turned, fearing that once again the Dwarves had found them. But then he realized what it was and he nearly fell to his knees in relief.
“Are these your Dwarves?” Thranduil asked with a smile.
His son merely nodded, knowing he had no voice at that moment to speak. A wide grin spread across his face as he watched Tavor and Brethil caper about the clearing; singing in gruff voices about stone and axes; long strings of moss and flowering vines dangling from their hair and chins. It seemed that Dwarves had indeed invaded their festivities again.
“What do those Elves think they are doing?” Ori asked.
“I think they are making fun of us.” Dori said, feeling his beard bristle with anger.
“Why would they do that?” Bifur wondered.
“I don’t know, but it is not very nice of them.” Bofur countered, his fists clenching.
“Elves aren’t very nice.”
“But look at the beautiful maiden! She is smiling. Have you ever seen anything so radiant, so –“
“Shut up, Gloin!” several voices hissed.
Bilbo didn’t say anything as he found it rather amusing himself. He was glad of the dark so they wouldn’t see his smile.
: Silly Dwarves. They take themselves much too seriously. : he thought, stifling a giggle when the two “Dwarves” ran into one another and fell to the ground, kicking their feet in the air.
The other Elves laughed and applauded, raising their goblets in appreciation.
Tavor and Brethil stood and bowed gracefully. They looked to Legolas who smiled at them, applauding loudest of all. They grinned through the moss and vines on their faces.
Thranduil laughed and reached for a wine goblet. He raised it in a toast.
“To the Dwarves. We thank you for livening our party. You are welcome to come anytime you wish.”
The Elves raised their goblets.
“To the Dwarves!”
Tanglinna handed a goblet to Legolas, his blue eyes boring into the young prince.
“To the Dwarves.” He said. He had to hand it to the three of them, they had managed to avoid telling the king as well. He shook his head. “I only hope nothing comes of this.” he muttered softly.
Behind the ring of trees the Dwarves looked to Thorin.
“You heard them.” He growled. “We are welcome anytime we wish.”
And with that Thorin Oakenshield stepped into the clearing.
: Oh, no! : Bilbo thought. : Here we go again! :
Silence descended on the clearing, the laughter cut off instantly and Bilbo had barely registered the shock and surprise on the fair Elven faces when all the fires leapt up in thick, black choking smoke; ashes and cinders flying.
Bilbo found himself running about, just why he wasn’t certain, calling to the Dwarves. All about him was the sound of people he could not see or feel also calling the Dwarves’ names and occasionally his own. But soon the cries of the others came from farther and farther away and to him it seemed that the yells and cries changed to ones of fear.
“Oh, no! What is that?!”
And then, even more frightening, the noises died away all together, leaving the Hobbit alone in the complete silence and darkness.
“What am I to do now?” he said aloud, though the sound of his voice seemed so loud that it echoed from the trees. He thought of running after them, but knew that he would only become more confused and lost than he was already.
: This is no good. : he thought. : What is the point of running about when I can’t see anything. Bothersome Dwarves! What have they gotten themselves into now? Where have they gone? Did the Elves take them? Confusticate them! Whatever that means.”
He settled down against a tree with his legs stretched before him. His thoughts turned to his home, which had never seemed so far away.
: What wouldn’t I give to be in my comfortable hole right now. Sitting by the fire with a full pipe; the kettle singing; and a tray piled with food. :
Since it was nearing breakfast the morning food litany began.
“Bacon and eggs; toast and butter…”
It was then that he felt something touch him. It felt like a long sticky string against his left hand and when he tried to move he found his legs were wrapped in the same sticky substance, so that when he managed to get to his feet he promptly fell over.
“What is going on?” he gasped in surprise.
He heard a noise behind him and rolled around to see who or what was coming toward him.
“Good heavens!” He said.
Coming toward him was a spider, not like the little ones that lived in the top of the great oak, but a very large one. He could see its many eyes glowing and feel the long hairy legs as it wrapped its sticky threads round and round him.
He beat at the creature with his hands, while it darted at him, trying to poison him wishing to keep him still as it went about it business of wrapping him up.
Suddenly, as Bilbo felt something dig into his hip as he rolled onto his side, he remembered his little sword and he quickly drew it.
The spider, upon hearing the ring of steel, jumped back. It was a young spider and though it had never had an encounter with any of the glowing beings that lived in this wood that slew its kind, he had been warned. But this little bit of a thing didn’t glow.
As it hesitated, Bilbo sliced his legs free and rushed toward it striking it in the eyes.
The spider shrieked with pain and fury, dancing and leaping about, flinging its long legs, until Bilbo felled it with another sure stroke. Then the Hobbit fell to the ground and remembered no more for a long while.
It was daylight when he awoke, the usual dim filtered light that he was getting used to filled the space beneath the trees. The spider lay dead beside him and his Elven dagger was black with its blood. A great swell of pride and fierceness filled him. Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Hobbiton in the Shire had killed a Giant Spider of Mirkwood all by himself! He had no help from Wizards, Dwarves or Wood Elves. Nor anyone else. He was a different person than the one running about in confusion the night before. He wiped his sword on the grass and slid it into the sheath with a satisfying snick.
“I will give you a name.” he said to it, his hand caressing the hilt. “I shall call you Sting.”
“It looks as though there were more than two Dwarves in attendance this evening, princeling.” A voice whispered in Legolas’ ear. He turned to see the Master Archer staring at him, one eyebrow cocked.
“Yes, little Greenleaf. Is there something you need to tell me?” A voice at his other side said. And he turned his head to see his father standing there, his arms folded over his chest.
: I am dreaming. : he told himself, hurried looking away from them. : I fell out of our boat into Morn Nen and then fell asleep. This cannot be real…It is a nightmare. :
When the prince said nothing, but stared dazedly into the distance, Tanglinna turned to his king.
“This is the third time this night that this has transpired, your Majesty.” He saw Legolas twitch slightly as he said this, but the younger Elf still didn’t speak, though his lips moved soundlessly.
“Third time? What is this? Legolas, you had better begin speaking to me of what you know immediately.” Thranduil gently gripped his son’s chin and turned his head so their eyes met.
“I am dreaming.” Legolas said. “Truly I am dreaming because this cannot be happening. Why aren’t Tavor and Brethil waking me up? I don’t like this dream.”
Thranduil scowled down at him.
“I assure you, little Greenleaf, that you are not dreaming. Though I assure that you will indeed wish that you are if you don’t-“ He turned to Tanglinna. “Find Tavor and Brethil. We will get to the bottom of this.”
Aralith and Celebross watched with much amusement. Finally something that their father couldn’t laugh away.
All about this clearing, that the Wood Elves had been transported to, fair soft voices spoke to one another in hushed tones. Wonder and confusion filled the air. They would look to their king on occasion, but from the frown on his face they knew it would not be safe to approach him.
Tavor and Brethil were speaking hurriedly to one another when they suddenly became aware that they were not alone. They spun to find Tanglinna standing behind them.
“You were saying, my young friends?” He said, then suddenly he reached out and grabbed them both by the shoulder and marched them to the king.
“I might have known.” They heard someone say. “What have they done now?”
“Oh, no.” Brethil moaned, his eyes huge with fright. “I can’t do this, Tavor. You know I can’t.”
“Be quiet, Brethil. We…we have done nothing wrong.” Tavor said, feeling the strange sensation of panic welling in him once more.
“Oh, look! What is wrong with Legolas? He looks so strange! What did they do to him? What are they going to do to us!”
“Silly young scamp!” Tanglinna scolded. “Nothing has been done to anyone. Yet.” He shoved them forward, watching as they at least had the presence of mind to bow.
Thranduil turned the full power of his stare on the two young Elves, who wouldn’t meet his gaze. This was truly growing tiresome. He shook his head and addressed the one most likely to talk.
“Brethil. Explain yourself.”
Legolas glanced at Tavor, who paled and wiped sweat from his brow.
“Not Brethil.” The prince breathed. “Not Brethil.”
The young Elf swallowed and looked up at his king. He opened his mouth, then glanced at his two friends, who stared pleadingly at him. He swallowed and opened his mouth again.
“You will tell me now, Brethil.”
Legolas shook his head almost imperceptible, but Thranduil rounded on him.
“You had your chance, little Greenleaf. Now it is Brethil’s. You will not move until I am finished with your friend. You were saying, Brethil.”
“I…I…Your Majesty, I am so sorry! They stole our boat from Morn Nen and we sang to them and they ran, but then – oh, if only we had fed them –“
“Hold, Brethil.” Thranduil said, grabbing the youngster by the arm. “Start at the beginning. Why were you at Morn Nen?”
Legolas’ eyes widened and Tavor gulped noisily.
“We…uh…” Brethil glanced nervously from Legolas to Tavor, but knew he would receive no help when he saw their stricken faces, so he plunged ahead. “We were getting water from Morn Nen to put in Aralith’s wine. I am so sorry!” He was nearly sobbing with fear, that Thranduil almost felt pity for him. Almost.
‘What?!” Aralith squeaked. “Why you–“ He glared at Legolas.
“Silence, nin ion. [my son] Brethil, why were you going to put water from Morn Nen in Aralith’s wine?” Even though he spoke to Brethil, his eyes bored into his youngest son’s profile.
“Oh, your Majesty.” Brethil continued, words gushing forth like water from a burst dam. “I am so sorry! We were getting the water because we wanted him to forget that we had taken your necklace to put on the spider we had caught and he saw us, but he’s told you already and now we are in so much trouble. Oh, why did I let you talk me into this?” He looked accusingly at his two friends. “We always get caught and Aralith’s run to your father already –“
“No, Brethil. I haven’t told him yet.” Aralith smirked, feeling vindicated. “I guess I don’t have to now.”
Legolas felt his heart drop to his feet as his father rounded on him once more.
“What necklace?” Thranduil asked quietly.
Legolas swallowed. Unlike Brethil his voice seemed trapped somewhere in the vicinity of his stomach.
“It was the one with the large white gem and all the little green ones set in silver.” Brethil interrupted. “You know, your Majesty. One of the ones you didn’t want to pay the Dwarves for making. And we dropped it into Morn Nen and we tried to get it back, but – oh – we couldn’t.”
Thranduil’s face reddened and Tavor made a small noise and backed away, hand over his mouth. He would have fled if Tanglinna’s hand hadn’t tangled on his tunic.
Brethil kept muttering “I am so sorry. I am so sorry.” Over and over into his hands, which covered his face.
Legolas stared into the distance.
“Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.”
Far away the spiders quaked as they hastily wrapped their recently caught dinner, and their dinner quaked wondering if perhaps this wasn’t such a bad way to die after all if only to escape whatever had made that particular shriek. And Bilbo Baggins, lying against a tree, newly passed out from his battle with a spider, moaned and dreamed of large fierce beasts with dripping fangs and long blonde hair.
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.