I wrote this some time ago, but it strikes me as appropriate to post it today since I think it has a 'Halloween' feel about it.
Cold, evil tendrils of shadow spread incorporeal fingers of cloying mist throughout the forest, drawing the life giving light from every growing thing in their wake. So thick and murky was the unnatural shroud that an eerie darkness prevailed even during the brightness of day. Trees withered and died, their brittle brown leaves falling to the ground to form a poisonous carpet of decay, filling the air with a stench that ensured neither animal, bird nor insect lingered. None that is, except the minions of the Dark Lord, the dangerously cruel creatures that revelled in the silence of death encompassing this part of Mirkwood.
Although it was much more comfortable to remain in the dark depths of its home, the young spider sensed there was no source of food nearby and knew it would be forced to venture closer to the part of the forest where the shining brilliance of the enemy was strongest. The beings of light that dwelt there, with their well aimed arrows and sharp swords, had dared to trespass into the lair hidden in the dark domain, and made certain of the destruction of its mother and many siblings. Such would also have been its fate had it not fallen, rendered immobile and assumed dead with several arrows imbedded in its thick carcass. Its reprieve was no consolation for the defeat, nor was the fact that some of the bright ones had been injured by fangs or poison, for none had lost their lives. The lone, hungry, injured spider moved slowly through the treetops, seeking fresh prey and something more. Survival was a deeply ingrained instinct, and the most important, but with its limited awareness of feelings, the creature also sought revenge.
The search did not take long, for as the young one approached the part of the forest protected by a power not unlike that wielded by the Dark One, but filled with goodness rather than evil, a tingling sensation throughout its body signalled a warning that something edible was nearby.
The young bright one, who seemed to be searching the forest floor for something, possibly more of the disgusting green stems that ended in a burst of colour that it held in its hand, the spider decided, moved slowly towards where his doom awaited. That he was not fully grown meant it would be an easy victory, for he carried no weapons other than a bow that was no more than a child’s toy. He would also be a delicious morsel to assuage the hunger and his loss a means of delivering retribution to the beings that cherished it.
Moving with stealth that was difficult for even the bright ones to detect, the hunter cautiously stalked its prey.
The youthful Wood Elf wandered slowly through the forest, intent on his task, unaware of the bright red eyes following his every move. At the age of twenty five he was still too young to have developed the ability to sense the shadow as the King could, and was not yet learned in the art of hearing the voices of the trees that were now desperately trying to warn him of his peril. Even had he been able to hear the urgent whispers as they now travelled on the winds of the wind to the King’s Hall, he was so distracted and filled with despair that it was unlikely he would have paid them much heed. This task had to be done today!
Nana had been very sad lately, and nothing he said or did seemed to be enough to make her smile for more than a few moments, and every time he hugged or kissed her, she would hold him close and try and hide her tears. When Ada explained the reason for her distress, Legolas who had never seen the sea or gulls except in picture books, did not understand what was wrong. He knew that others from Mirkwood had sailed to the Undying Lands, but he found it hard to believe that Nana wanted to live in the land over the sea more than she wanted to remain living with him and Ada among the trees and flowers of their home. He wanted her to be happy, but he certainly did not want her to leave the day after tomorrow. Perhaps a large bunch of her favourite flowers would be enough to convince her to stay.
Ada had been too busy to accompany him into the forest, and with a reminder of the dangers that lurked there, had naturally denied his young son permission to go alone. Legolas had initially accepted the refusal, but after some thought decided that all he had to ensure was that he stayed within the protection afforded the Elf Path by Thranduil’s enchantment. By doing so, surely that would be the same as having Ada or another adult with him, would it not?
Legolas smiled happily as he spotted a cluster of Nana’s special favourites a short distance into the forest, growing beneath trees whose leaves were showing the first sign of withering. He felt very pleased to be able to rescue the brightly hued blooms from the darkness, but he was well aware that to collect them he would have to disobey Ada. Not that the King would know, or so he assumed, as he rationalised his intended disobedience as only a child can when the temptation to do so was great. What could possibly happen? The flowers were so close; surely it would only take a minute or two to collect them? Without further thought for his safety or even attempting to assure he was alone as an experienced warrior would have, he stepped off the path.
The spider moved swiftly to drop in front of its young prey, locking cruel, red eyes with Legolas’s wide terror filled ones, mesmerising him into immobility. He had never seen a spider before, and was surprised at how much smaller this one was than he had been lead to believe. He had heard the stories warriors told and knew it was dangerous no matter the size and it might not be possible to outrun his enemy. Neither could he simply stand there and be attacked. He told himself as the evil creature approached ever so slowly, allowing a few drops of venom to wet his fangs and torment the young one with thoughts of what was yet to come if he was captured.
Legolas managed to break the gaze and regain control over a body that had been paralysed with fear. In desperation he dropped the flowers, nocked his small bow with a skill well beyond his years and released the arrow at the spider that was now reared up ready to attack. He closed his eyes, thinking his practice arrow would be of no use and when he reopened them he was astonished to see the creature stumble and fall forward, knocking him over and winding him in the process. The elation he felt at apparently having defeated his enemy was short lived however when he saw there were several arrows embedded in the still body, all with the fletching of Mirkwood’s archers.
The same archers who stood nearby, alert to possible danger and ready to protect their King and his wayward son. Ancient eyes blazing with fury met the younger ones still wide with fear and his beloved child’s distraught state was enough to soften Thranduil’s anger. Although his little heart was still racing madly, Legolas felt completely safe only when a tender kiss was placed on his brow as he was swept into the strong arms of his very relieved Ada.