Theryn’s teeth flashed in a grin. “Who did you expect? Mithrandir?”
“I didn’t expect anyone!” Novarwen replied, trying to order her senses back into some conceivable pattern. The shock of seeing Theryn was too much after a long day of travel. I took over the Taurroch because he left, she remembered. Why has he suddenly come back now? “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Patrolling,” Theryn replied shortly. “And I might ask the same of you, Princess Novarwen.”
A hissing sound made her recall the spiders. “You might, and you may, later,” she said, unsheathing her blade, “but right now I have business.”
“Then I’m coming with you,” Theryn told her. Novarwen couldn’t have admitted it at the moment, but knowing that Theryn, not to mention his Arfaroth, would be with her made her feel a lot better about taking on a pack of Mirkwood spiders.
They surrounded the spiders just as the spiders had surrounded Legolas and the messenger. Novarwen watched the closest spider to her, a fat one with beady black eyes, hefted her sword, and at the moment when it leaned forward to attack Legolas, she swung. Her sword lopped the monster’s head off neatly. The body fell into her brother’s camp, and Legolas was on his feet in an instant, his knives out. His eyes swept the darkness around the clearing like twin lamps.
The rest of the spiders, realizing that their prey was alerted to their presence, shrieked and raced in a body at the two Elves. Novarwen flung herself at a spider as it barreled straight for Legolas. She tackled it to the ground and scrabbled for her dagger, tucked into a sheath at her belt. She stabbed the spider in the chest, shoved it off her, and decapitated it quickly. Then another one flung itself at her. Novarwen went down, her face smashing into the dirt as the spider bent over her. Novarwen kicked at it, but it dug its incredibly sharp legs into her own. She gasped but did not cry out. No one who had been in the Taurroch ever cried out.
She did, however, twist around and punch it in the face. It screamed and shoved harder with its legs. They ripped through her flesh, greater pain than any she had ever felt. It seemed like her legs were being torn open to the bones. Now she screamed, high and shrill and anguished.
Theryn, wiping sweat off his forehead, heard her. He whirled around, his eyes questing, and he soon saw her, struggling under an enormous spider. The monster seemed furious and ready to kill her on the spot. With a yell, Theryn plunged toward it.
Novarwen grasped her dagger and tried to twist to face the spider and kill it, but as she moved, her legs burned. She tried once more, and then collapsed, drained frighteningly fast. She lifted her head in a last effort to fight the spider. The world spun before her eyes. She sank limply onto the earth as her vision went black.