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The Dark of Night

Chapter 6: Chapter 6

by ellie

Betas: Chrissie, Nerdanel Istarnie, Malinorne

Characters: Glorfindel, Erestor, Elrond, Celebrian, Elladan, Elrohir,
Haldir, Rumil, Orophin, Celeborn, Galadriel, Amroth, OCs

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien's. I make no money from this.

Notes:
* denotes telepahtic communication.
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Chapter 6
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Daeradar – grandfather
Ellon – male elf
Fëa - spirit
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The sky grew thick with heavy rain clouds as the host rode on. By the time the elves reached the guard station for the Southern borders, rain poured from the sky. Angaril called a halt. The sodden troops dismounted, caring for the horses and settling in for a damp lunch, while the captains planned strategy.

Accompanied by Galadin and Galador, Angaril stood in the shelter of the small station house with Haldir and his brothers Rúmil and Orophin, studying a map.

Agaril pointed out the location of the caves two miles south of their current position. “According to my scouts who investigated this region three days ago, the creatures currently dwell here. These caves are interconnected and have more than one entrance. However, my scouts only observed the creatures using the entrance here.” He tapped his finger on the map.

Straightening, he turned to Galadin. “You know this area well, so I want you to lead the scouting party. You four are to determine possible strategies for an attack. Be careful. Enlist the aide of the trees. And do not enter the caves!”

“Be back by sundown,” Haldir warned.

“Yes, Sirs!” the scouts answered.

Saluting, the four departed, leaving Haldir and Angaril to discuss further plans.

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Rúmil smiled as he passed soundlessly through the rainy woods, following his brother and the Imladris guides. Reaching out with his fingers and his fëa, he gently stroked the dripping trees as he passed. The trees here were so very friendly and so very much in love with the elves of Imladris. He had traveled abroad a number of times, accompanying Haldir in the gathering of news in the outer lands. In spite of this, he still found it discomfiting to be surrounded by strange trees that did not know him. Apparently sensing this, these trees seemed to be making an extra effort at making him feel welcome. Yet, he sensed something else from these trees, too. Unease and perhaps…warning?

Stopping suddenly, he reached up and ran his hands along the sides of a tall oak. There were odd injuries to the bark and great disquiet in this tree.

“Galadin!” he called. “Wait. There is something … odd here.”

Within moments, Galadin and the others appeared at his side.

“This tree…” Rúmil began worriedly.

Galadin and the others reached out and touched the tree as well, then Galadin and Galador smiled grimly.

“This tree has been touched by more than one of Ungoliant’s children,” Galador said matter-of-factly. “It is trying to warn us of the dark of night.”

“I have sensed many feelings in trees before, but never fear. Not like this,” Rúmil said quietly.

Galadin clapped him on the shoulder, and said without any trace of reassurance in his voice. “My Silvan friend, they care deeply for the speakers of light. They fear for us.” Looking around, he added. “We draw close to the caves. We must stay together.”

Reluctantly, Rúmil slid his hand from the tree and walked away. At a nod from Galadin, Galador took up the rear of the group.

The feeling of fear grew greater with each tree they passed, until they finally reached the caves. Soundlessly they began their evaluation of the area. The largest entrance opened into a broad clearing cluttered with large rocks from a not-too-recent landslide. The largest of the rocks had indentations in their tops and occasionally down their sides, holding small puddles of rainwater. Brushy seed-bearing plants surrounded the edges of the clearing.

The birds must love this place, Rúmil thought as he dipped his fingers into the cold water of one of the little puddles. But, he realized to his surprise, he could not sense any birds in the area. Looking around, he could not sense any other animals either, except…

He eyes lit upon the dark gaping maw of the cave. No sounds emanated from the blackness, but there was a definite sense of something living in there, resting, but not quite lying in wait. Immediately he reached for his bow and an arrow, but Orophin stayed his hands, startling him.

Orophin shook his head in warning, then nodded toward Galador who was beckoning them away from the cave. Reluctantly replacing the arrow and his bow, Rúmil followed as he was instructed.

Once they were far enough away to speak aloud again, Orophin pulled him aside away from Galador and Galadin. Gripping Rúmil’s shoulders tightly, he rounded on him angrily, speaking rapidly in Silvan.

“Rúmil, what were you thinking back there? You cannot take on those creatures all by yourself!”

Rúmil stood rigid taking the reprimand. “I know. I was just…There is something horrible in those caves.”

“Of course there is! That is why we are here! Now keep your wits about you, brother, and do not do anything else rash. I will not lose my brother to these things. Besides it would be very embarrassing if one of us makes a mistake in front of the Imladris soldiers. It would dishonor our brother and captain, so think about that if saving your own skin is not enough to keep you thinking clearly.”

Rúmil nodded in mute response, angry for allowing himself to get so caught up in his surroundings and irate with his brother for the rebuke.

Orophin gave him a satisfied smile, then clapped him on the back reassuringly. “Come, Rúmil, we need to get back and give our report.”

Schooling his expression to hide his anger, Rúmil rejoined the Imladris warriors. However he could not hide his scowl when he heard Galadin whisper to Galador, “Those two remind me of us.”

Rúmil brooded darkly for the entire hike back to camp.

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Angaril was pleased with the news the scouts brought to him. Carefully, he and Haldir sketched a detailed map of the area surrounding the cave entrance, filling in details with the information from the scouts. The plans for the attack looked quite promising with such agreeable terrain for an assault from the ground as well as from the trees. The boulders would provide natural containers for the liquid light. He truly did not think he could have hoped for better circumstances - except for the rain, of course. But if they were fortunate, the rain would let up before the next sundown.

The night passed slowly. No one in the camp could rest with the threat looming out there in the night. Everyone kept a phial of liquid light in hand and a weapon within easy reach. Angaril and Haldir had not bothered with assigning a watch, knowing that the night would pass this way. Tonight the entire camp would keep watch.

The sound of the rain trickling through the leaves did nothing to ease the nervous elves. Occasionally someone would jump apprehensively, then settle back again, looking around alertly.

At one point, Haldir, obviously weary of observing the nervous troops, strode over and quietly whispered to Angaril, “I never would have thought to see a day when armed warriors feared the sound of rain in the trees.”

“Aye,” Angaril agreed. “Or a day when Silvan and Sindar feared to sit beneath the trees that love them so.”

At dawn, the rain still had not let up, but the possibility of attack had finally passed. Angaril walked among the troops assigning two hour shifts for the watch and ordering everyone else to rest for they would all be seeing battle that evening.

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Elladan and Elrohir had spent the previous day avoiding the Imladris elves. Everyone had remained hooded and cloaked against the rain and the chill of the night. Elrohir had suggested that they each hold two phials of light and keep their backs against trees during the night. It appeared to have worked for there was no attack that night and they both knew that they would be the intended victims if any such attack did occur.

At dawn, they pocketed their phials and slept alongside everyone else. Shortly after noon, the rain finally stopped. The twins managed to remain hooded throughout lunch, without anyone questioning them. By late afternoon though, the day had heated sufficiently for everyone else to have removed their hoods. Still the two remained apart from the others as best they could. Unfortunately, some bored comrades in arms had other ideas.

Elladan nudged Elrohir in the ribs as two silver-haired Lorien soldiers approached. It was too late to feign sleep, so they were going to have to talk this one out and hope the soldiers went away soon.

Sitting across from the twins, the two smiled in friendly greeting. “We are Rúmil and Orophin, Captain Haldir’s brothers. We noticed you two sitting apart from the other Imladris warriors.”

“Yes,” Elladan said abruptly.

“Is this your first time out or are you being punished? Or are you just nervous about the menace?” Orophin asked in a kindly voice. “Everyone was rather anxious last night,”

Elladan looked over at his brother then said, “We are not being punished. We just wished to sit in silence, undisturbed by others.”

Elrohir asked his brother in thought, *Do you think we need to be any more blatant in telling them we do not wish to speak with them?*

“You do realize there will be a battle in a few hours and there are likely to be many “disturbances”.” Rúmil proffered sagely.

*Apparently we do need to be more blatant* Elladan replied back with a telepathic growl.

“Yes, we realize that,” Elrohir said in annoyance.

“Why are you still wearing your hoods?” Orophin asked with a grin. “Are you planning to roast yourselves in the hope that the creatures prefer their meat raw and will thereby avoid you?”

As one, Rúmil and Orophin mischievously reached up and pushed back the twins’ hoods.

The Lorien brothers started in surprise as the sons of Elrond groped frantically for their hoods, trying to hide their dark hair again.

“By the Valar!” Rúmil exclaimed.

“What are you two doing here?!” Orophin asked in an equally loud voice.

At this, many heads suddenly turned in their direction. Expressions filled with shock and dismay met the twins as the two realized to their horror that their identities had been discovered. Warriors from Imladris immediately hauled them to their feet, marching them off to see the captains.

Elladan and Elrohir exchanged looks of defeat and fear. Their adar was going to kill them when he found out what they had done.

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The sun was setting as Elladan and Elrohir watched through the window of the station house while the last of the troops marched away. Two annoyed soldiers from Imladris and two equally irate ones from Lorien sat outside the door, scowling. An occasional curse found its way through the window from one of the guards outside while the twins brooded inside.

To describe their meeting with the captains as a tense and angry affair would have been putting it mildly. Elrohir was convinced that the only reason they were not executed then and there was because the twins were Elrond’s sons and Celeborn’s and Galadriel’s grandsons. The captains had told, no, yelled to them that their very presence endangered the mission because of their Noldorin, Telerin, and Vanyarin blood.

In spite of this, the twins still argued that they should have been allowed to help slay the creatures. After all, their daeradar had managed to slay Ungoliant ON HIS OWN. The twins had the blood of more than just Valinoreans and Atani in them. They were part Maiar as well!

The captains never even bothered to listen.

Elrohir slammed his fist down on the table for the tenth time while Elladan paced the small room. It just was not fair!

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Haldir and Angaril positioned their troops around the perimeter of the clearing before the entrance of the cave. Lorien archers perched in the trees, completely hidden by their Galadhrim cloaks. The Imladris warriors took up positions on a ledge above the cave opening and in the brush at the base of the trees. The rainwater in the crevices of the rocks in the clearing had been replaced with Silmaril water. No one made a sound as they waited for the order to attack.

According to Celeborn’s memories of Eärendil’s encounter with Ungoliant, she did not travel obscured by her dark cloud when she first left her lair to go feed. Haldir desperately hoped that her children would observe the same practice, so his elves might have a chance of at least engaging them in combat and not be slaughtered by them without so much as a single stroke falling. Although, he did have to admit that was not so certain that he really wanted to know what Ungoliant’s spawn looked like.

He did not have to wait very long, for just after moonrise, the first of the creatures came forth. It was a large black hairy spider-like creature with a torso about the size of a large child. Hideous yellow eyes darted around as the creature scuttled toward the nearest boulder. Soon more creatures of similar size followed suit.

So these were the horrid beasts that had been terrorizing Imladris, sucking the life and blood out of so many hapless elves! Haldir watched with revulsion, feeling his stomach lurch and his dinner threatening to come back to visit him. Not only was he afraid of what this vile menace might do to his soldiers, he really hated spiders. The snicking, scraping sound these giant wretched beings made as they crawled made him shudder involuntarily. Getting a grip on himself internally, he patiently willed his hand to stay at his side as he waited to see if more of the creatures would issue forth. When the entire clearing was filled with a dark hairy mass of clicking legs, glittering yellow eyes, and the press of spidery bodies, six more creatures finally emerged, more than twice the size of the earlier ones. Taking a deep breath, Haldir centered himself, focusing on the battle he was about to start and gave the signal.

Suddenly the air was filled with a maelstrom of arrows raining down upon the creatures. Haldir concentrated on the twang of bowstrings and the whoosh of arrows, so he would not so readily hear the crackling crunch of swords cleaving appendages and the screams of elves as spiders attacked while trying to flee into the woods. Dying spiders screeched as they were dismembered and blinded. Black blood spurted everywhere.

When Haldir ran out of arrows, he leapt from the tree, drawing his sword and landing softly in a crouch with his weapon at the ready. He clenched his teeth every time his sword smacked into the body of a spider. He would rather fight orcs any time than these foul beings. By the Valar, that sickening crunch was an awful sound!

Another of the Galadhrim dropped to the ground beside him, but was immediately pinned to a tree by a fleeing spider. The ellon screamed while Haldir hacked at the spider until it retracted from the ellon’s chest and fell to the ground. Black blood gushed forth; soaking the ellon’s tunic and mingling with flowing red blood as the spider half collapsed on the ellon’s prone form. Haldir kicked the body off of his comrade, and continued beating his way through the fray.

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When the battle was finally over, Angaril set about assessing the situation. Spider parts thickly littered the clearing, extending into the surrounding brush and just inside the cave where some had tried to retreat but died. None of the young spiders appeared to have escaped, however three of the larger ones were still unaccounted for. As he directed soldiers to begin piling the carcasses for burning, Haldir approached, carefully stepping over bits of spider and flinching every time he crunched an appendage under foot.

Angaril smiled sympathetically. “I hate that awful sound, too.”

Haldir grimaced, nodding in agreement. “I prefer orcs and goblins, myself.” Sighing heavily, he reported, “Ten of the soldiers were wounded. Four from Lorien and two from Imladris bear stab wounds to their chests and/or backs. The rest have broken bones and possible internal injuries incurred when they fell from their station above the entrance of the cave. Apparently our missing spiders crawled over them, flinging them off the ledge as they fled. My brothers and six others are tracking them now, for at least one of the creatures is wounded and leaving a trail of blood.”

“Do you know exactly how many of those spiders were injured?” Angaril asked hopefully.

Haldir shook his head. “No one knows for certain. It could be just one. It could be all three.”

Angaril looked down at the ground and swore loudly, kicking at a stray black leg. He had hoped against hope that they would be able to eliminate all of these foul creatures in one assault.

Meeting Haldir’s steady gaze, he said. “We need to get the wounded ready for transport as soon as possible. Elrond’s sons may yet serve some useful purpose. They are highly skilled healers and will be able to treat the injured. When the wounded are ready, take them back to the guard station and we will catch up with you once we finish cleaning up here.”

Haldir nodded, clapping Angaril on the shoulder, then strode away.

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Slowly, those bearing the wounded made their way back to the camp. The trek through the forest was uneventful and everyone was far more at ease knowing that the mysterious “dark of night” seemed to be mostly destroyed. The injuries of two of the soldiers were grievous. Haldir quietly thanked the Valar that the sons of Elrond had accompanied them for it could mean the difference between life and death.

As they neared the top of the hill where the camp was located, Haldir loudly called out, announcing their arrival. Oddly enough it was Rúmil’s voice that responded.

“Haldir!” His voice sounded relieved. “Bless the Valar you are here!”

Now Haldir was worried. Why would his brother who was supposed to be out pursuing the escaped spiders be here at the camp?

As they broke through the trees and entered the clearing near the guard station, Haldir and his comrade helping to bear a wounded Lorien soldier stopped abruptly.

Pieces of spider littered the clearing. Black and red blood puddled together in pools on the ground. The four guards lay unconscious. Three had obviously been tended, and Rúmil was busily bandaging the wounds of the fourth.

It took a few moments of staring transfixed with horror before Haldir was able to articulate a response. “Rúmil,” he finally managed aghast. “What happened here?”

Rúmil looked up briefly. “We followed the trail of the three escaped spiders here. One of the guards was still conscious and told us that they had been attacked. He said that the creatures just “appeared” from the trees, much like the other attacks we had heard about. Elladan and Elrohir heard and came out to help. The twins managed to kill one of the spiders, but by then the other two had finished off the last of the guards. The soldier said he lay helpless and bleeding while the creatures attacked the twins. After the twins’ light had been sucked away, the creatures spun a hideous cocoon of white silk around each of them.

One of the creatures then spoke in a horrible, hissing clicking voice saying, “Eärendil killed our mother Ungoliant. Now my sisters and I will have our revenge. Eärendil’s children shall be food for our young.” Then they disappeared back up into the trees, taking the twins with them.”

Haldir and his companions stood staring in shock. Rúmil finished tying and tucking the last bandage around the chest of the guard before him, then added breathlessly. “At least one of the spiders is injured and left a trail. Orophin and the others have given pursuit.

But, Haldir, we do not even know if Elrond’s sons are still alive…”

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Chapter 6
Created
24 Oct 2006
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24 Oct 2006
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