From their corner, watching the progress of the spider hunt closely, Elladan and Elrohir continued their discussion of the night before, one that had never really ended. Elrohir was teasing his brother. “Go on, El, admit it, you were scared!”
“I was not!” Elladan denied the accusation furiously.
“Yes, you were. You screamed.”
“I did not!” Elladan was aware that he had given a very embarrassing squeal when Elrohir had suddenly clutched at him. He was not going to admit it, though. “Anyway, what about you? You made a funny noise as well. Why did you grab my arm like that?”
“I – I thought you were going to trip.” Elrohir, too, did not want to admit how terrified he had been, not even to himself, let alone his twin. He would never hear the end of it. But it was pointless for Elladan to deny he had been frightened. Elrohir always knew exactly what his brother was feeling.
He thought about the worst part of the night’s events. “What about when the spider jumped on us like that? Were you scared then?”
Elladan turned his head and met his brother’s eyes. “I’ll say it if you will, El,” he allowed. Elrohir nodded suddenly in agreement. “All right, then. Yes, I was scared. I have never been so frightened in my life,” he admitted.
Elrohir looked very relieved. “Me neither. When it leapt out from the trees, and then chased us down the path – I thought it was going to kill us. I was terrified!”
“I hope they find it.”
The last of the patrols had gone now, and it would probably be some time before any returned. The hall was quieter now. The twins finally stirred from their vantage post, and made their way to Thranduil’s library. Elrond had told them that there were some books there describing the spiders, and they wanted to find out all they could about the beasts. There would be a lot to tell Arwen when they returned to Imladris.
After Elrond had left, Tirnan and Brethil looked at the spider doubtfully.
“It doesn’t look very realistic,” said Tirnan at last.
“No, it doesn’t,” Brethil agreed. “I thought you said no-one could tell the difference? I thought you said it looked like a real spider? It’s just an old shawl. And I can see one of your old tunics, look, there! I don’t think it looks very good. I think …”
“Shut up, Brethil!” Legolas did not need Brethil to point out the faults in his spider. “It got wet. That’s all. It looked better last night – well, a little bit better,” he added honestly. He had to admit, it did not look very realistic.
“It’s just as well Elladan and Elrohir didn’t stop to look too closely at it. Do you think they know?”
Legolas considered Tirnan’s words. “I suppose they must. Oh no! If Elrond knows, he’ll have told them, won’t he? They’re going to kill me!”
“Keep out of their way for a while,” advised Brethil. “That’s what I do when my mother’s cross.”
Tirnan look sceptical. “Does it work?”
“Not very often,” he admitted.
Legolas looked worried as he considered the twins’ likely reaction. “Maybe the spider hunt will take their minds off it,” Tirnan suggested reassuringly.
“Yes, it might. But I need to hide this. If they see it, they won’t forget about it! Come on, I’ll hide it in my room.”
The three made their way to Legolas’ room. He looked around for the best place to put it. “It’s wet, so I’d better let it dry. In here.”
Legolas carried his soggy armful into the bathing room, and dropped it into an out-of-the-way corner on the stone floor. “There! It will be safe here. No one will see it. Come on, I want to find out what happened on the spider hunt!”
A little later, Mireth went to his room with an armful of clean laundry. The clothing had been washed and mended – only the Valar knew how he tore everything – and she put it away carefully. Then she turned to the bathing room with some towels.
As she put the towels on a shelf, she noticed something from the corner of her eye. Something that had not been there before. Turning for a better look, she gave a muffled shriek, and dropped the last towel on the floor.
In a corner of the room a large squat shape crouched. She realised it looked very bedraggled, and a trickle of water ran from it across the floor. And surely that was her shawl …?
“The little monster! I could kill him!”
Downstairs, she found Lanatus supervising the cleaning of the silver plates.
“Do you know what that little monster has done now?” she raged at him.
Lanatus looked disapproving. “Control yourself, Mireth. Do you mean Prince Legolas? You really should not speak of him in such a disrespectful way.”
“I mean that little monster, the king’s son!” she fumed. “He – he ...” as she began to speak, she could see the funny side of the situation. And she did not really want to get the ‘little monster’ into trouble. Not with Lanatus, who had no sense of humour whatsoever.
“Oh, never mind. I can sort him out!” she said grimly.
Lanatus watched as she left in search of the prince. He shook his head sadly. Such incidents were by no means uncommon in the household. He longed for the quieter times with Oropher. He wondered idly what the prince had done now. His father the king was far too lenient with him, the child needed discipline. Thranduil had done nothing about the stolen bread, cheese and wine. And one of Lord Elrond’s sons had been involved the theft, too. He was just as bad.
In the library, Elladan was growing restless. “I want to do something. I wonder where Legolas is? Let’s go and find him. Maybe he knows something about the spider hunt.”
Elrohir agreed readily. They had just reached the hallway, when they saw Legolas and two of his friends coming down the stairs. Legolas immediately moved behind his friends. It looked as if he was trying to hide. As he was taller than both of his companions, hiding did not work very well.
Elrohir called to him. “Legolas! Do you know if the spider has been found yet?”
“Spider? What spider?” he asked warily.
Tirnan kicked him. “The real one, you idiot!” he hissed.
“Oh! The spider! No, I don’t think so. Not yet. It might take a long time, if they don’t know where to look. And it’s a very big forest. There’s lots of trees. I hope they do find it, we can’t go out until they do. I think …”
Tirnan kicked him again. “Shut up, Legolas!”
Legolas shut up, wondering what had come over him. He was getting worse than Brethil. He watched the twins carefully, wondering what they would say to him about the trick he had played on them. To his surprise they said nothing; they did not even hint at it. That made him uneasy. They were obviously biding their time, and would take their revenge later. He would have to be very careful and be alert at all times.
“Legolas, since we can’t go outside, we wondered if you know something we can do inside. Is there anywhere we can go? Will you show us the rest of the palace?” Elladan sounded bored.
Legolas was about to think of an excuse – he would still rather avoid the twins for the moment - when Mireth came along a passageway. She looked furious. He wondered who had upset her.
“Legolas! Just you come here! I want a word with you!”
He gulped. What he done? There was nothing he could think of, not this time. He looked round for an escape route, and saw it, standing in front of him.
“Sorry, Miri! I can’t talk to you now, I must show Elladan and Elrohir around the palace!”
He shot off down a side passage, followed by the others. When they were a safe distance from the hall, and there was no sound of pursuit, he stopped.
“Well? Where do you want to go? The caverns? The cellars? The storerooms? The treasury?”
The twins glanced at each other. “Everywhere!” they chorused.
Legolas led the way along the passageway and down a flight of steps. At the bottom he stopped and turned to his companions, remembering his manners. “Oh – do you all know each other? This is Tirnan, and this is Brethil. And this is Elladan, and that’s Elrohir.”
Brethil looked at the twins, then leaned closer to Legolas. “How can you tell?” he asked in a loud whisper.
Legolas shrugged. “They just are,” he explained. He had not realised until then that he could finally tell them apart.
They explored as much of Lasgalen as they could, starting with the storerooms that lay below the palace. Delving in a storeroom that looked as if it had not been touched since Oropher’s time, they came across some tapestries, thick with dust. Legolas picked the top one up, brushed off the worst of the dust, then shook it. A thick cloud enveloped all five, and Elrohir sneezed.
“Valar, Legolas! Don’t do that!”
“Sorry! But look at this!” He held up the tapestry he had found. It was clearly old, highly detailed, and richly embroidered with beautiful, glowing colours. It depicted a battle scene with many people escaping from a burning city, fleeing down a narrow mountain path, and a mighty duel between a tall, golden-haired elf warrior, and a hideous monster, winged with flame and darkness. “Where do you think this was? When was it?”
Elladan and Elrohir grabbed it in excitement. “It’s Glorfindel! Look!”
“Glorfindel? Who’s that?”
Legolas pondered Tirnan’s question. The name was vaguely familiar from his lessons, but he could not recall how.
“He lives with us at Imladris. He teaches us sometimes,” Elladan explained.
“But look! What’s that horrible creature?”
“That’s Glorfindel! I told you!” Elrohir was in a silly mood. Elladan slapped at his brother.
“It’s a Balrog. Glorfindel said that he fought with one, long ago.”
Legolas thought about his encounter with the spider. The Balrog looked far more terrifying than the fiercest spider. “He must be very brave!”
“He is,” said Elrohir, serious now. “He told us about it once. It gave me nightmares. But he saved all those people!”
“Gondolin!” said Brethil suddenly. “It was Gondolin. I remember hearing about it.”
Legolas too now recalled the tale. But it had been a boring account and he had paid scant attention to it at the time. The battle on the tapestry made him wonder what else he had missed during Lanatus’ interminable history lessons.
They were so engrossed with their discovery that they nearly missed hearing the gong that signalled lunch. Elladan looked up with a start. He had not realised how long they had been there.
Legolas muttered a curse. “Valar, we’re late! Look at us! We can’t go in like this, my father will have a fit!”
All five were grimy, dusty, and dirty. Elrohir’s hands were black from the ink on an old parchment, and Brethil had several small cobwebs in his hair. Tirnan’s attempt to brush them out simply made matters worse, by spreading them further.
Carrying the tapestry between them, they made their way up from the storerooms and dumped it in an alcove. They washed hurriedly in a small room near the kitchens, then went swiftly into the great hall for the meal.
One of the leaders of the spider hunt had returned. They watched avidly as he made his way to report to the king.
The patrol captain bowed low before Thranduil, then straightened. “We found the spiders, Sire. Exactly where we were told. There were two of them.”
“Two?” echoed Thranduil. Legolas, it seemed, had had a narrow escape.
“Yes, a male and a female, and a nest of spiderlings,” the guard elaborated. “We killed the adults, and burned the nest. We were only just in time, the young would have left the nest in a few days. We searched the whole area, it is clear. I also sent out patrols to inspect the perimeter, to ensure there are no more in the vicinity.”
“Good. We cannot be too careful, not this close to Lasgalen, not even with the black ones.”
“But Sire – did I not tell you? The two we killed were the red spiders, the gorliante.” Thranduil, the guard reflected, had suddenly gone ashen pale. “My Lord? Are you all right?”
Thranduil nodded, rather absently, then dismissed the guard. The more he heard of the previous night’s escapade, the worse it got.Stories > First > Previous > Next