From an enemy unseen by Elizabeth or Alice, Thranduil took them through the forest of Mirkwood, where shadows forebode
the girls to look upon aught that rose before them. It grew darker as they drew nearer the heart of the forest, and when it was darkest around them Thranduil stopped. He was silent and his intent hold on Elizabeth and Alice’s hands told them to remain as such.
” Why have we stopped?” Elizabeth asked, her clear voice peircing the dark around them.
” They have not gone.” Thranduil said in reply” And be silent now or we shall be seen!”
” The orcs are still following us?”Alice asked in earnest.
“Child be silent!” Thranduil whispered but the girls did not listen to his urgence, for they could not see the worry that clouded his fair brow.
” But isn’t it kind of against their nature, y’know, the orcs, to stay in such a carefully hidden pursuit like this and not haul out and kill us right away?”
” Silence, you foolish women! They are no longer orcs that pursue us!”
” But you said—“
However, she could not speak for Thranduil covered her lips with his long hand.
” I have ordered you to be silent, now be such you insolent girls!” Thranduil said harshly, but to his dismay,the girls were not silent, but they burst out in silent tears, frightened from the pursuit and then from the harsh toungue of Thranduil, and, despite their fear for him, they held tight to him as if they were but two young children once more, who sought the comfort of a father.
After a moment, Thranduil was softened and he slowly smiled as the girls brought to him welomed memories of two young women he had known and loved once, long, long ago, and he felt them once more, or so it seemed, as he held Elizabeth and Alice in his arms.” Forgive me.” He said softly, and the girls feared no more.
But then, Thranduil started and looked about him. Elizabeth and Alice felt that he was frightened, though what he saw they could not and so they were eaqually frightened of an enemy they had never been able to see.They held all the tighter to him and their tears fell heavy from fear.
Thranduil looked, for in the trees he saw what he had feared.
They were no goblins or orcs, nor even evil men that he saw , but they were Vampires.
” Come forth from the shadows foul cretures and make you known to me, now, or you shall not live to see the moon!”
Thranduil cried and so from the shadows of the trees came a ghostly fire-light and Elizabeth and Alice screamed in horrer as many horrible creatures came to them.
Their skin was dead and their flash rotting from their very bones. They wore torn robes of filthy black, their long and deadly swords of aged black were drawn and at the ready to slay.
” We only wish for the keeping of the women-children you hold beside you.” They hissed and Thranduil replied: ” You shall not have them! For by my life or death I shall protect them!”
And so at these words was waged a hopless battle, the two girls throw heavily aside.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.