DISCLAIMER: I do not propose to own any of J. R. R. Tolkien’s characters, nor any places or names that before appeared in his books. Other characters and places, however, are mine, and are copyright © of Me-Elf.
“But when King Elasser gave up his life Legolas followed at last the desire of his heart and sailed over Sea…More cannot be said of this matter.”
Her evil head was whitish, standing out in the Unlight about her. Her neck was long and black, making her head to appear as though it floated about on its own.
“Get thee gone, Spider!” Balved cried.
“Nay, I will suck thee dry, Elf! As dry as I sucked the Trees in the Beginning, and as dry as I will suck the Valar in the End!” She skittered forward, but Balved was quick. He dodged between her legs, narrowly escaping the spider’s fangs. Ungoliant screeched in wrath. She followed after Balved, relentlessly attacking him. Balved squirmed and writhed under her belly, striking at her soft underside with his sword. She seemed not to care. Her head came closer to Balved’s throat, her great jaws opened, revealing rows of fangs that scissored opened and closed, dripping venom. She gave a cry of triumph, beating off Legolas and Rayn with her back legs. But Balved had one more idea. He reached into his tunic and pulled out the pendant. He clenched it in his fist, and the gold raced up his arm. Ungoliant sprang back in fear, her Unlight penetrated by Balved’s gem. He shone on the ground. The young elf waited for a vision to appear, but none did. He stood and walked toward the spider, beating her off with the light that emanated from himself. Rayn drew her sword and hefted it deep into her palm, and her light, too, beat off the Unlight of Ungoliant. Legolas drew his knives, and his blood-red form advanced on the spider. Aer’s eyes glowed with a dull red shine in the light of his master. He seemed to smile, a quiet smile of hidden power that no one (save maybe Ungoliant) noticed. But it disappeared, and he raised his head high whilst his friends drove the Dark Power out of the resting place of the last of the Blood of Númenor. Legolas cried out in triumph. He slashed at the spider as she ran. With a harsh cry full of rage she whirled around and threw her weight on Legolas, unheeding of his light. She was smothering him, crushing him with her bulk. Legolas’s knives clattered to the stone floor and melted into the darkness he reached for one, but Ungoliant kicked it away. Rayn raced up behind her, sword raised. Ungoliant whipped her head around, catching Rayn in the middle and throwing her into Balved. Free for the moment she turned back to Legolas and buried her teeth into his shoulder near the neck, managing to avoid his armor, she ripped and tore at his flesh. She brought her face close to his, leering at him.
“Now I will suck you dry, Elf of the Nine!” she said. Blood ran from the corner of her mouth and down her chin. She plunged her face into the wound and pierced the muscle with her many fangs. A cry of pain escaped Legolas’s lips. Aer flew out of the tomb and soared high into the air. He probed the land with his far seeing eyes, penetrating even the dark of Ungoliant with them. He cried out with a harsh voice over the land. Suddenly amid the torrent of sound emitting from his deep throat came a cry of what seemed to be joy. Against the Unlight came a glimmer of true light. Ungoliant lifted her head and appeared, exposed in the luminosity that grew ever brighter in the close dark. The spider’s hideous form shivered and her legs covered her eyes. She screamed in pain and wrath. Out of the center of the light a shape grew, great and terrible.
“A, Elbereth, Gilthoniel!” Rayn cried, frozen in wonder.
“Ai! Yea! Elbereth!” Balved called in reply.
The shape grew and advanced on the spider. It became clear that the form was of a female elf, a powerful, queenly being. Legolas gazed at her through a haze of pain and defeat. His mind reeled.
“Galadriel?” he thought. The Light drove the spider away from the elves, engulfing the darkness within herself. It cried out to the black shape that ran as a mad Warg before it.
“You shall suck not the life from him, nor them, nor the Light from I, Elbereth, Gilthoniel, Varda. I set the Light in the Sun and the Moon. I will wipe out your Unlight in the End, and I will smite your ruin on Helcaraxë for your crimes. You will pay, Ungoliant. You will pay!” The Vala hurled Lightning at the back of the fleeing spider. The blackness of the spider dispersed, but the heavy shadow that hung in the sky remained.
Varda turned from her quarry and looked at Legolas.
“Come,” she said.
Even in his pain Legolas had to obey. He struggled to his feet; his arm hung limp at his side. He forced himself to take one step, then another, but it was to much. He collapsed on the ground. His head spun; he could barely think. He felt Rayn next to him, her hands on his face.
“He will be alright?” her voice sounded far off, as though he was hearing some echo. His shoulder throbbed and he could not move. He was trapped. Trapped in a great abyss, with no floor and no walls, only blackness that pressed around him like a humid night in which the stars were covered by cloud and there was no moon to speak of. The evil laugh of the spider resounded in his mind. Ungoliant was coming at him, her fangs dripped with his blood. He cried out in fear.
“Ulmo save me!”
Rayn jumped at the sound of his voice. Night was coming on. She reached for the rag that sat soaking in a basin of athelas steeped in warm water. She bathed the wound as Varda had shown her.
“I have driven Ungoliant off, for now,” she had said. “But she will be back, and she will have Legolas’s blood. You must protect him, Rayn, for the wound is deep.”
Legolas’s body shivered and twisted in pain. Worry covered Rayn’s face as she bathed the wound. Rain pattered on the roof of the tomb. They had taken it for shelter from the storm.
Thunder rolled above them. Balved kept watch a little away from the tomb, his short sword in his hand. Water ran in rivulets down his face. He cast the hood of his cloak over his head. Warily he looked about him. The rain came down steadily, falling on the trees and stone buildings. He paced up and down anxiously, worried that Ungoliant would return, or that his master would not make it. He fancied hearing a sound to his right. He crept toward it, sneaking behind boulders and tree trunks. Suddenly a shape, clad in a black robe and hood strode noiselessly up a flight of steps. Shadow hid its face. Two red spots glowed where its eyes should have been. Balved ducked behind a broken statue. The thing drew his sword without a sound as it walked. Fear filled the young elf. His nervousness grew as he saw a skeletal hand reach up to its hood. The being threw its hood back, allowing the rain to pour on its head.
Balved’s scream stuck in his throat. A broken and bloody skull sat on his shoulders; in some places flesh still clung to the bone. Across its mouth and the side of its head skin rotted, black and pale at the same time. In the black sockets red pupils rolled around, each independent from the other, red and glowing. The thing looked about it in suspicion, his pale, thin lips twisted into a sneer. Balved caught a glimpse of pointed teeth behind its lips. He crouched lower.
A blue form dropped out of the sky in front of the awful being. The black one growled at the new figure.
“What are you doing here?” he said.
“Manwë sent me, to stop you,” the blue being answered, laying a hand on the shoulder of the black shape. Balved was surprised to see that there was skin between the fingers of the clawed hand.
“Get your webbed hand off of me, fish. Why didn’t he send one of his eagles?”
“Because it is my own whom you want to take to your halls. Did He command it? Was it meant to be? You know the answers, Námo, Illuvatar spoke them to you, remember?”
“It is difficult to see,” Mandos hissed. “The End is near, and events surrounding It are not clear to me, not yet.”
“Then why are you here? Manwë did not command it, so it cannot be done. Leave, now, Mandos. Or I will send thy sister after you, to weep on the grave of Mine, and he will rise again, as powerful as you.”
Mandos growled. He put up his hood and turned away.
“The sooner you sheathe thy sword, Námo, the sooner I return to my ocean and trouble you no more,” Ulmo called warningly. Reluctantly the Death-Lord slipped his noched and rough-edged blade back into its sheath. Ulmo returned to his cloud.
§ § §
Balved sprinted back to the gazebo.
“Rayn, Rayn!” he called. He swung around to the door.
“You will never believe what I have seen,” he said. Rayn looked up from where she sat.
“Look, Balved,” she whispered. She looked down at Legolas.
“Yes?” Balved asked. Rayn put a finger to her lips.
“His pain is eased, Mandos’ Shadow played over his face for a while, chased by a glimmer of light, until only the Light itself remained. It was as though a higher power had wrenched him from death’s reach. I believe he will live!” Rayn said, tenderly stroking his delicate ear.
“I know, I saw Ulmo take his life back from Mandos,” Balved said. He told her about the conversation.
“What do you suppose he meant ‘his own’? That Legolas belongs to him?” Rayn asked, turning to Balved. The young Elf shrugged.
“We can only guess,” he replied.
“He saved Legolas’s life, we owe him a great debt.”
“Yea, one that we can never repay,” Balved said.
“You know so little, young one,” Ulmo said to himself from outside the tomb. “And you may yet repay us manifold.”