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Author Topic: Deepening Shadows  (Read 1066 times)


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Deepening Shadows
« on: October 04, 2017, 05:15:12 AM »
It was not without a touch of bitterness that Thranduil noted the maps of late had grown smaller.  Or rather, they covered less distance.  Two thousand years ago the Woodland Realm had covered the length and breadth of Greenwood the Great, and now it covered hardly a fraction.  There was no longer any need to draw maps that stretched into the southern reaches; the map spread out before him now did not even dip so far south as to indicate the Mountains of Mirkwood.  For what need was there?  The spider nests had grown thicker even north of the mountains and so the most recent scout reports didn’t even bother to detail them.  Only the nests, new ones cropping up every day, that most directly threatened their borders.  Ever nearer they grew, and for every nest that was wiped out, two more would spawn in its place.

Why now?  What was it that made these creatures suddenly so bold?  It had taken the length of an age for them to advance this far north, so why now did they seem so intent upon finishing the job?

Perhaps they now sensed they could win.

Such a dark thought came unbidden, forcing its way past logic and reason, drawing forth with it the old fear, foolish and irrational though it was, that he was losing his foothold.  That it was only a matter of time.

It took only the sharp clenching of his fist to crush the map between his fingers, leaving it a crumpled mess upon the otherwise pristine table.  Yet he hardly seemed to notice it at all.  Two strides was all it took to place him at his wine cabinet and in only another breath he’d removed the stopper from the first decanter he’d found there, filling his glass more than was proper.  But he was alone here.  Why bother with proper when the wine was more important? 

Thankfully, it took only a few sips from the glass to calm his temper sufficiently, and with a fresh sense of purpose, he stepped into the hallway.  A runner was summoned and sent in search of Tauriel, and the king returned to his map table, smoothing out the crumbled map with a heavy sigh. It did not look any more promising upon this second inspection.

Upon Tauriel’s arrival (which had best have been prompt given the foul temper the king was in), Thranduil did not bother with pleasantries, or even with explanation.  He simply slid the map across the table for her examination.  “Are these scout reports accurate?”


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Re: Deepening Shadows
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2018, 01:47:09 PM »
Tauriel hurried through the labyrinthine corridors. Her red hair flew out behind her like a cloak. She’d left her actual cloak behind, in a crumpled heap on the floor. Someone would return it to her rooms. They always did.

She’d spent the morning roaming the King’s territory, hunting for signs of spiders. There was a new web, right on the inside of the border, but Tauriel hadn’t been able to track the spider that wove it. She’d go back later and hunt the abomination down. Tauriel hated the things. They were bigger than any arachnid had any right to be and they were fuelled by sick, dark magic. The Captain hated anything that came out of the shadows. Things were brewing out there and Tauriel wanted to crush it, before it took the light out of the world.

Tauriel drew up sharply. She was nearing the King’s rooms. She waited until she’d got her breath back, tidied her hair and rearranged her clothes. She hoped he wasn’t in one of his famous bad moods.

Tauriel had almost grown up working for Thranduil and she knew his rooms well. She stopped a passing servant and asked where he was. With that information, Tauriel headed for the right door.

She found the King drinking an obscene amount of wine and poring over the map table. Tauriel swallowed. She tried not to stare at the wine glass and focused instead on her King’s face. It wouldn’t do to be rude or improper. Not when Thranduil was already knee-deep in an upsetting subject.

“Yes, Sire, but the scout sent North,” She stepped forwards and pointed on the map. “Did not come back.” She nibbled her lip briefly. “I can investigate myself, if you’d like. Also, there’s a web here.” She pointed to an area just inside the King’s borders. “I found a web this morning. No sign of the beast, but I’ll track it down and kill it.” Tauriel’s eyes crinkled in a poorly disguised wince. She hated losing, she hated being defeated. More so by a spider.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 01:48:58 PM by Tauriel »


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Re: Deepening Shadows
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2018, 08:20:34 AM »
The king, despite his focus on the maps and on his guard captain, could not help but notice the attention paid his wine glass.  Or rather, the obvious and purposeful lack of attention paid it. Luckily for Tauriel, she chose to keep her observations silent.  The girl was painfully sincere about everything, and Thranduil was too old to find any charm in such youthful stupidity.  Sincerity often led to nothing more than a well-intentioned bother.  He had good reason to drink as often as he did, and he prayed she would never find herself in a position to fully comprehend the cause.

“North?” The king did not bother to hide the alarm in his tone, though as ever, it was muted, a tone that managed to lack the concern that others might have shown, but still contain all of the anger.  A stranger might have only considered the king to be mildly put out, but to one more familiar with the subtle indicators, the emotions were all too clear.  North had always been safer.  Scouts were lost to the south far too often, but to lose one to the North? 

He wanted to shout at her, and for the barest instant a fire shone behind his pale eyes, but no.  He had better control than that.  Instead, those eyes closed for a moment and when they reopened, the fire had been replaced by ice.  “If those creatures have moved to our North, you will see to it that the situation is remedied.  I will not have us penned in on three fronts.”  Two fronts was bad enough.  Three would leave them blocked off in all directions save east, which would only inevitably lead to them being surrounded completely. 

Thranduil met her eyes, unblinking, considering.  Then, with a heavy sigh, his gaze broke away, returning to the map.  Perhaps such a sudden shift was due to the words he spoke next.  “Do not be reckless.  We may have already lost one scout.  I will not have you rushing off to handle this alone.  There is nothing brave or noble about dying foolishly in a spider’s nest.”

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