13. Chapter Thirteen
She smiled as she felt his fingers move slowly up from her chin to her nose to her forehead. Like tiny little footsteps... Footsteps! She shuddered violently and opened her eyes. A spider crawled over her face and into her hair. She screamed and tried to move her hand to swipe it away, but her hand was chained. She looked at the chains in panic. She tried to move her other hand and found it too was chained. Looking about her, she saw dimly that she was in the cave, the cave where her brother was held prisoner. As she moved her head, she saw that more Elves had been added to the hideous collection. More also had died since last she was here. She sobbed bitterly. How had it come to this, that she herself was now prisoner of the goblins? Looking wildly about, she found him, Singollo, still chained to the wall, but looking gaunter and whiter than when she had first found him, here amongst the dead and dying. She called his name, softly, but he did not move. She called again, this time a little louder, and he stirred.
"Loselleth? Run," his voice croaked. She watched him try to swallow and sobbed. "Run else you are caught too."
"Too late, sweet brother," she cried, " but the Lady of the Woods is sending help. Be strong."
She felt the tiny legs crawling up her stomach and looked down. At least five spiders were slowly weaving their webs as they came closer and closer to her face. Again, she screamed, this time as loudly as she could. "Spiders! Spiders!"
"What is wrong with her?" Legolas cried as Haldir held her to him. "What manner of dream is this that keeps her locked into it? Shall we call the Lady Galadriel?"
"Nay, and we dare not wake her. What is she saying?"
"I cannot understand it. Spies here, I think."
"Spies. Spies here in the Golden Wood? I cannot believe it. The Lady would know." Gimli fumed.
"It makes no sense," Legolas agreed. "You are right, Gimli. Galadriel would know, would have warned us. The guard would have been called. Even with the Ring of no more use, she has not lost her other powers."
Haldir started to whisper into her ear. "Haldirriel, wake up, my love. I am here and will protect you. Please, wake."
She suddenly grasped him and held on tightly, moaning piteously. He whispered again, "It is I, Haldir. And Legolas is here too. We will help you. Come back to us."
Legolas knelt next to her, taking his example from Haldir, and whispered, "You are in the Golden Wood. There is naught that can harm you. Trust in your friends."
She opened her eyes. Haldir's brows creased in pain. Her eyes were unfocused, cloudy, and full of fear. "Listen to me," he whispered again, holding her ever more closely. "There are no spies here, beloved. You are safe. Wake now."
She blinked and shrieked. "Haldir! Haldir, we must get away. There are spiders everywhere. Help me! Help me!"
His heart broke within him. "Nay, my beloved. You are safe. There are no spies..."
"Spiders," Legolas' soft cry pulled Haldir's eyes away. The Silvan Elf was white and pale as niphredil. "She speaks of spiders, Haldir, not spies!"
Haldir turned away from the Elf's eyes and focused again on Haldirriel. "My love, you are safe," he said again. She closed her eyes, then opened them and he wanted to cry aloud. She was back; Haldirriel had returned to him. Her eyes were clear and bore into him.
"You saw Singollo?"
"He is still alive."
She nodded again.
"We leave in the morning, if you are ready? Gimli is with us now. The warriors are assigned and ready."
She nodded and this time, tears fell. "He is so sick. They have done things to him. I know not what. But he is bruised from head to foot. Blood seeps from his wounds and the spiders lick it. They build their houses in his hair." Her chin quivered. "Oh Haldir!" she sobbed and buried her face in his chest.
"Spiders?" Legolas asked.
Haldirriel nodded. "Oh!" She looked up into her friend's face. "Not those spiders, Legolas. Not the Great Spiders of the Necromancer. Cave spiders. About this size," and she held up her hand, her forefinger and thumb touching. "Large, but not the Great Spiders."
He sighed, relieved. "Let me give you some wine." He rose and filled a goblet and brought it back to her. "Drink this."
She smiled up at him, tears caught in her eyelashes. He smiled and shivered. "I do not like spiders."
"Oh!" Her eyes grew wide. "They were baby spiders, Legolas! Babies!" And she hid her face in Haldir's tunic, sobbing wildly.
Legolas turned away, went to the talan's entrance, and looked out. Gimli, stepped behind him, placed his hand on his shoulder, and remained silent.
"Gimli. I would not take you into this. You know the tales from your father's time in Mirkwood. Your father and his friends barely escaped with their lives."
"Do you think that would stop me from being with you when you needed me?" the Dwarf asked gruffly. He laughed. "I've been wondering if the size of those critters were what Glóin said. He had a tendency to exaggerate. As most Dwarves do." The smile grew.
Legolas turned to his friend, his eyes still wide. "They are bigger than anything he has told you, Gimli. The spiders near father's stronghold were nowhere near the size of those closer to the Necromancer's tower. Those spiders I battled when on patrol. Huge, wily things. I do not relish the thought of meeting up with them again. I had wondered where they went to, knowing my people could not have killed them all."
"I suppose they went north."
"Aye, north and still with mischief."
"And in cahoots with Yrch too. We shall have to learn to count further than forty-three."
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