Stories of Arda Home Page
About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search

We Were Young Once ~ III  by Conquistadora

Chapter 12 ~ Whispers in the Dark VI

Another year passed, characterized by the same suppressed disquiet which lurked beneath all their attempts to go about their daily lives.  The border of Mirkwood slowly but steadily crept farther north.  Thranduil went often to observe its progress with a wary eye, and he began inquiring more frequently after the work in the caverns.

He had no time to sleep.  He scarcely had time to eat.  When he was not receiving reports from the north or approving designs and compromise solutions for their cavern fortress, he was authorizing the import of raw supplies, visiting his field commanders, supervising military drills, and all the while watching the contents of their treasury dwindle. 

The last gathering of winter provisions was ongoing, ensuring that the forest would at least be picked clean before they surrendered it.  Valuable trees were felled in greater numbers than had otherwise been permitted, the lumber broken down immediately and transported over the mountains for bows, arrows, guardhouses, and other construction.  Better to use it than to waste it in Mirkwood’s corruption. 

All extraneous furniture from the king’s house that could be accommodated by the caverns was sent north as soon as possible.  Thranduil wanted to be free to evacuate at a moment’s notice with no more than his horse could carry, but there were some pieces he was loath to be parted from if it could be helped.  These were large and inconvenient things like the three royal thrones and the long table from the hall, each carved with untold skill and infinite patience by the silvan Elves for their king.  They reminded him of Oropher and better days.  In the absence of these and other accessories, Thranduil simply stood on the dais during audiences and did his work at a small table which Gwaelas kindly offered from his own room. 

Kneeling on the floor in his chambers, Thranduil now busied himself polishing the new sword which had just been presented to him by the best of his newly-trained silvan smiths.  The blade did not especially need polishing, but the repetitive motion was therapeutic, mindless enough that he could find some halfhearted rest while he did it.  The sun was setting when Lindóriel joined him, bringing food.  She did not disturb him at first, and spoke only when he had returned the sword to its case.

“Gwaelas tells me you have not eaten today,” she admonished him.

“I know,” he admitted, suddenly very aware of his gnawing hunger.  “I hardly know how I would survive without the two of you.”

She accepted his humor with good grace, but there was an obvious shadow of concern in her eyes.

Thranduil wolfed down his food while Lindóriel prepared for bed.  He had intended to return to work, but she caught his arm as he was leaving.

“Stay with me tonight,” she pleaded.

She knew he could never refuse her, and for that reason he knew she never asked unless she thought it very important.  Something about the tone of her voice made whatever he had intended to address downstairs seem much less urgent.  She drew him farther into the room, and the sensation intensified.

“I have work to do,” he protested feebly.

“You have nothing which cannot wait until morning,” she insisted.  She looked perfectly lovely clad only in her shift, her hair gleaming in loose cascades.  She drew him inextricably nearer, obviously determined to have him.

“You have no shame tonight, my lady,” Thranduil said, good-humoredly scandalized.

Lindóriel smiled.  “None whatsoever.”  She pulled him into her embrace, pressing her body against his, and he could no longer hide the ever more obvious fact that her charms were having their intended effect.  “I need you.” 

At that moment, wrapped in her arms, Thranduil was keenly aware that he needed her, too.  Despite their ever more dismal situation, at least they still had one another.  He kissed her, again and again with all the forgotten passion of happier times, and pushed the gown off her shoulders.


There was no bed in the room anymore, just a large cushion on the floor.  It was not entirely unpleasant, reminding him of those rough days so very long ago when their friendship had begun.  Needless to say, the circumstances were much more enjoyable now.

Thranduil was only half awake, nestled close against his wife in the early morning stillness, drifting in the scent of her perfume.  Lulled into an amorous stupor, he could almost forget everything that had preyed upon his mind a few hours ago.  None of it seemed so important that he could not spare a few moments more.

He wanted only to sleep, but as he perversely became more aware, he felt a sharp twinge of warning in the back of his mind.  Something was not right.  Could he feel something moving across the floor, or did he imagine it?  His skin began to crawl.

Thranduil’s eyes flew open, but he dared not move for a moment.  It was a very dark night; there was no moon and the stars were veiled, making the ominous gloom deeper than usual.  Lindóriel stirred as he squeezed her wrist. 

“There is something in here,” he whispered, slowly sitting up and gathering his feet under him, pulling her up as well.  “Stand up, stand up.”

She did as she was told, suddenly just as tense as he was.  Holding each other close, they had almost reached their full height when their heads struck web.  The lamps flared immediately to life by sheer force of his will, and Lindóriel screamed as he had never heard before.

The enormous spiders all began scuttling away from the sudden light.  One fell and landed on his wife, but Thranduil cuffed it away.  Caught without a weapon, he grabbed a pillow to beat any that came too near.  Lindóriel carried on screaming, and within moments Gwaelas and two guardsmen burst through the door, blades drawn.  Thranduil swept Lindóriel out of the room while the others dealt with the horrors.

Outside on the covered porch, Thranduil sat down with Lindóriel in his lap.  She was in no fit state to stand, and indeed looked as though she might faint.  The grisly sound of swords hacking at the walls and floor continued inside.  Three more guardsmen came running across the bridge, and Legolas from the other direction.  Lights began to glow all across the city.  Screams began sounding from many different quarters.

Their son took one look inside the room and did not have to ask what had happened.  Despite his obvious revulsion, he ducked inside and returned with a wrap for his mother and a shirt for his father.  Thranduil gratefully accepted both.

“Clearly ours are not the only vermin in the city,” the king said grimly, throwing the wrap around the queen’s quivering shoulders.  Scattered screams could still be heard as more lights were kindled.

“Do you wish the people to be warned?" the Guardsman Lancaeron asked. 

“Yes,” Thranduil decided as Lindóriel composed herself.  “Wake everyone who has not already discovered it for himself.  I want them packed and ready to leave at dawn.  I shall not spend another night in this place.”


<< Back

Next >>

Leave Review
Home     Search     Chapter List