9. The Elf King and Thorin and Slain Spiders for Little Pip
“Unbelievable.” he whispered, turning it this way and that. “To think he had it the entire time. That young trickster! Letting me scream at them in front of everyone. Making me frighten Tavor and Brethil half to death – though if any deserve that it is they. And he looking so apprehensive himself.” He shook his head remembering with minor chagrin the way he had reacted to the news of his lost necklace. “Not my best moment.”
He stood and moved to place the necklace in its box of oak and silver, gems glittering darkly on the lid. He liked the way the piece looked spread on the green velvet. He snorted slightly and closed the box, locking it. He didn’t usually have to lock things up, but he was taking no chances.
“Ah, little Greenleaf. What is to be done about this?” He strode across the room and down the corridor. As he neared on of the palace’s many exits, he heard voices. Smiling he crept to the door and saw Legolas, Tavor and Brethil laughing together, eating. He raised one eyebrow. “It seems you three enjoyed that little joke.” He said, quietly, watching as Legolas mimed his father’s outrage. “Well, we shall see what can be done about this.”
Legolas had changed into his normal clothing of soft leather in muted greens and browns and Thranduil wondered where he had hidden the beautiful robes that he had worn the night before. He suspected that no one would ever see them again. Probably some spider was making a nest with it right now. A slow smile spread over the king’s handsome face. He laughed slightly and turned away.
“Please send for Ceredirhammad.” He told the first servant he saw. “I need to see her immediately.” And delighted with his own thoughts of retaliation, he walked briskly down the hallway, singing lightly.
Bilbo had never had to think and act so quickly in all of his life. He had managed to free some of the Dwarves and poor old Bombur, weakened by being pinched and poked so much tumbled right off the branch to the ground. The spiders were returning and they did not look happy. Bilbo moved to fend them off as the Dwarves worked to free the remaining five.
“Now we see you, you nasty little creature.” The spiders hissed at Bilbo. “We will eat you and leave your bones and skin hanging on a tree. Ugh! He’s got a sting has he? Well. We’ll get him all the same, and then we’ll hang him head downwards for a day or two.”
Bilbo hoped that they could somehow manage to escape, though the ease they seemed to have been captured with the night before didn’t give him much hope. He glanced down to see some of the spiders gathered about Bombur. They had tied him up once more and were dragging him away, his protests muffled and feeble. The little Hobbit gave a grand shout, one to nearly rival Thranduil’s and leapt at the spiders in front of him. They gave way at this unexpected show of bravado and he scrambled for the branches, only to fall out of the tree into the middle of the ones on the ground. And then Sting did indeed earn its new name! It darted all about, killing at least six of the beasts and causing the others to move away from the fierce little sting and its wielder and poor Bombur.
“That is for all the little people who are frightened of spiders.” He declared feeling very bold and warrior like indeed. “Especially for a young lass called Little Pip.’
“Come down! Come down!” Bilbo shouted to the others. “Don’t stay up there and be netted!” He had seen the other spiders swarming toward them, crawling directly over the Dwarves’ heads.
The Dwarves scrambled, jumped, and fell into a heap on the ground, feeling very shaky and weak from their ordeal. At last twelve of them were accounted for, and Bombur was propped between Bofur and Bifur. Bilbo danced about waving and jabbing with Sting; and all about them hundreds of angry spiders were watching them, quite enraged by this unexpected turn of events. All in all it looked hopeless.
Some of the Dwarves still had their knives, some had sticks, and they all made use of the abundant stones at their feet. And Bilbo had Sting. Again and again they were able to repel the spiders’ attacks, many spiders dying in the attempts. Bilbo felt very tired and only four Dwarves could stand steadily. The spiders were weaving their gruesome fences of webs and Bilbo had to do something or all would be lost.
“I am going to disappear.” He said, regretting that his magic ring would no longer be his secret. “I will try to draw the spiders off; and you must keep together. Make in the opposite direction. To the left there, toward where we saw the last of the elf-fires.”
They didn’t understand what he was saying, what with dizzy heads, and all the noise and flying stones. But at last Bilbo shook his head and slipped on his ring, and to the Dwarves vast amazement he vanished.
Soon away off to the right there came the sound of “Lazy Lob” and “Attercop”. This upset the spiders greatly and they stopped moving toward the Dwarves and some left to pursue the voice. Then finally, Balin realized what Bilbo had been telling them. He quickly led an attack on the remaining spiders. The huddled together throwing stones and jabbing with sticks and knives for all they were worth. At last they managed to break through the ring and flee. Behind them the shouting and singing stopped abruptly.
“Poor Bilbo.” Balin gasped. “I do hope that nothing has happened to him.”
But it was the Dwarves that were having trouble. The spiders had chased after them and because they were so weak, the Dwarves had to turn and continue fighting. Things might have gone badly for them if Bilbo hadn’t suddenly reappeared and charged the surprised spiders from behind.
“Go on! Go on!” he shouted to them. “I will do the stinging.”
He slashed and hacked at them and their webs. The spiders were very angry with him, but they had learned to fear Sting and didn’t dare move in too close. They spit curses at the retreating Dwarves, watching them move ever slowly away, but they could not pass Sting and its wielder to get at them. Bilbo’s arms were aching and his breath came in pants and gasps.
: I can’t keep this up much longer. : he thought desperately. : And I suppose I will be the spiders’ dinner. :
But then the spiders suddenly turned and gave way, fleeing back to their dark colony. He nearly collapsed with relief. But he didn’t linger, but trotted after the Dwarves.
The Dwarves had come to the edge of the clearing where the last of the ill- fated autumn feasts was held. It seemed to them that some good magic lingered here which the spiders did not like. The light here was greener, the trees seemed much more friendly. The all sat down heavily, panting and moaning. But when they had at last caught their breath the questions began.
They had to know all about Bilbo’s vanishing act and how it was accomplished. And Balin had insisted on hearing the entire story of Gollum and the riddles in the dark, and the finding of the ring. But then it began to grow dark, for the day was fast flying away. And they remembered how hungry they were.
“Where are we going to get food, Bilbo?”
“Where is the path, Bilbo?”
“Where are we, Bilbo?”
“What are we to do now, Bilbo?”
Bilbo felt a little overwhelmed to be thrust into such a position of leadership, but he was flattered as well. And it had been rather humbling when the Dwarves had stood and bowed to him – right to the ground – thanking him so profusely. Poor old Bombur bowed so low that he tipped right over.
Unfortunately he didn’t know where the path was, or food, or where to go, or what to do.
“Bilbo?” He heard a quiet voice ask.
‘Um, yes, Gloin?”
“The Elf maiden didn’t get taken by the spiders, did she?” The Dwarf asked in a concerned voice, gazing about the clearing.
“Really, Gloin. I suspect the Elves sent the spiders after us. Elf maiden.” Balin snorted, lying down to try and sleep.
Gloin ignored him and walked to the place where he had seen the maiden standing. A few flowers from the wreath lay on the ground, tangled with a few golden hairs. He bent reverently and picked them up. He raised the flowers to his nose and kissed the fair strands. Then he hastily put them into his tunic.
A while later, Dwalin opened his eyes and looked around.
“Where is Thorin?” he asked.
Where indeed was Thorin? Thorin knew only too well where he was. He had fallen asleep just as Bilbo had when he had stepped into the magically guarded clearing and lay there unaware of what was going on about him. He had slept through the battle that morning and hadn’t awakened until the Elves had come for him. They had stood staring down at him, eyes bright with disapproval. They had dragged him through the woods to Gladaran Thamas.
Thranduil’s palace was a great cave. Smaller caves opened out of it on every side, and the large cave itself wound downward, deeply into the earth. There were many rooms and passages, the walls delicately carved with likenesses of trees and flowers, vines and birds. Most of the Wood Elves lived in houses outside the palace, some nestled in the great beech trees. The cave contained many storehouses, treasure houses, and dungeons. And it was here that they dragged Thorin, who might have enjoyed gazing at the beauty of the stone and carvings at some other time under other circumstances.
The Elves brought him before Thranduil and removed the spell from him and the Dwarf glared up at the Elf king. He muttered under his breath. He didn’t like this particular Elf king one bit. He knew all the old grievances that his folk harbored against him and this appalling treatment didn’t do anything to change his assessment of Thranduil.
“I thought that Elves didn’t like caves.” He muttered.
Thranduil stared down at him, frowning. Behind him stood his three sons, two looking at him as fiercely as their father. The third’s expression was carefully blank.
Thorin stared back. He glared at the king and his sons. Two of them he recognized from the night before, but not the third. Though he seemed familiar somehow.
“What are you doing in Mirkwood Forest?” Thranduil asked abruptly.
“We were starving and looking for food.” He answered stubbornly, his eyebrows knit.
“How many of you are there?”
“We were starving and looking for food.”
“What have you come for?”
“We are starving and looking for food.”
Aralith giggled slightly and looked away. Celebross shot him a glance that silenced him.
Thranduil felt frustration building. He looked to Legolas who deftly avoided his eyes.
“How many of you are there in my forest?” He asked quietly, turning to the Dwarf once more.
“We were starving and looking for food.”
Thranduil drew a deep breath. His patience was beginning to wear thin. So he tried a different question.
“Why did you and your folk three times try to attack my people at their merrymaking?”
“We did not attack them.” Thorin answered “We came to beg, because we were starving. Attack them indeed.”
“Where are your friends now, and what are they doing?”
“I don’t know, but I expect starving in the forest.”
Legolas thought he heard a quiet voice drift from somewhere behind him: “I told you we should have given them food.”
“Shut up, Brethil.” Another voice hissed.
Thranduil turned to look at him again, and Legolas looked away, gazing intently at the ceiling.
“What were you doing in the forest?”
“Looking for food and drink, because we were starving.”
“But what brought you to the forest at all?!” Thranduil roared.
Thorin stuck out his bottom lip, folded his arms across his chest, and glared up at the Elf king. He would say no more.
“Very well! Take him away and keep him safe, until he feels inclined to tell the truth, even if he waits a hundred years.”
“That’s not very long.” The quiet voice said.
“Shut up, Brethil!”
Thorin glared at the king and his sons as thongs were tied around his wrists. But just before they lead him away, he turned back to them and stared at Legolas, a wicked gleam in his eyes.
“I recognize you now.” He said. “You’re Gloin’s beautiful Elf maiden dressed all in sparkly green with hair like spun gold, carrying a wreath of flowers.” And then amazingly he laughed.
Legolas’ face reddened and he stared at the Dwarf in confusion and embarrassment.
“What is he talking about?” Aralith asked, turning to his brother.
“I know now. I don’t think I want to know.” he muttered, shifting uneasily.
But the Dwarf laughed all the way to the dungeon.
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.