I. On Elves and Dwarves

IDisclaimer: JRR Tolkien was a great author who created this wonderful world in which I am now playing. The Tolkien estate owns all the peoples, places, races, and things of Middle-earth, including (but not limited to) Mirkwood, and all the elves and spiders therein. The Tolkien estate owns all the events, real and implied, of which this fic is based off of. This fic is not for monetary purposes, and will give me no monetary gain. I am not affiliated with the Tolkien estate in any way, save for supporting it by buying the hoards of books that JRR and Christopher Tolkien published on Middle-earth.

A/N: This is intended on being fully canonical. If you see something that is NOT in canon or violates it in any way, including, but not limited to OOC-ness, PLEASE point it out in the reviews that I may fix it and make my fic align with what Tolkien has set down as fact. Many eyes are better than two. /I

I. On Elves and Dwarves

For as long as I can remember, well over two and a half millennia--nearing three, Thranduil was King of Northern Mirkwood-once called Greenwood the Great before the shadow came, and again called Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of the Greenleaves, after the destruction of the One Ring. His hall was set in a cave, and though we retreated there in times of peril, we did not all live in the King's hall. We often took to the clearings at night in the gloaming and evening to watch the stars. The trees never grew so thick in the Thranduil's realm to cover the stars as they did in other places of Mirkwood. Thranduil was a fair king-in all senses of the word-his hair was golden and his hall was merry despite the hardships that were brought with the shadow. Thranduil himself often led our kindred out to stop the spread of the Shadow.

There were always the Orcs in the Misty Mountains that ventured out across the plains and into our forest. It was the same Shadow that caused the forest to be named Mirkwood that created the warriors of our kind. It was the Shadow that made the Orcs brave where they had not always dared to tread before. There were spiders as well in Mirkwood: large spiders, fell offspring of Shelob, whose maiming was written in the Red Book. The spiders were dangerous and deadly, and for them, we held no mercy in our hearts. They were the foul bastard offspring of a foul black creature that fed off the blood of Elves and Men. Any spider discovered was destroyed. We honed our skills with blade and bow hunting spiders and Orcs in the blackness of Mirkwood. We were on constant vigil to keep the paths we used clear, for in the early days there were messengers always traveling west to Imladris and south to Lothlorien. Still, our power was not sufficient to keep all of Mirkwood cleansed from the great evil brought by the Necromancer. And when the sorcerer came, the paths south were blocked and direct communication with Lothlorien was lost.

It was around the time when the Necromancer was banished from the borders of our wood when a troop returned with odd news. "There are Dwarves on the path from Imladris," said Ruindil, the leader of that troop.

They were gathered in an oak clearing that would be used for the upcoming celebration. Legolas was leading a fresh troop through the wood, intent on hunting the black hart. His lips thinned into a displeased line. "How many?" he asked

"Thirteen, and a small servant," came Ruindil's reply.

Legolas appeared grim, to say the least. He sighed. "Inform my father," he told the guard and let his troop out into the dark eaves of Mirkwood.

If possible, King Thranduil was even less pleased than the Prince had been. He received the news in his stone hall while sitting on his carved oaken throne. His first instincts were to postpone the woodland celebration until the Dwarves had quit the wood, or sampled the waters of the black river. There was not much difference between the two. Either way, we would not have to deal with them.

Six days passed before Legolas and his troop returned. Their songs were not as joyous as usual. "Indeed there are Dwarves in Mirkwood," he informed his father upon his return. "They traversed our path. Our hunt encountered them near the enchanted river. One of them shot the hart for it was not a Mirkwood arrow that had pierced its breast, nor was it from an Orc or Goblin. We passed north of the path to keep out of sight. They shot at the white hind and her fawns, but none would find their mark and she and the little ones ran off to safety."

"And the hart?" Thranduil asked.

Legolas shook his head. "Alas, it was not to be so. 'Twas on the far side of the enchanted river and the Dwarves foolishly let the boat drift away downstream." A smile touched his lips. "But the hart did not depart without exacting a price," he said. "While we crossed the river to the north to find the felled creature, we heard cries of 'Bombur has fallen in! Bombur is drowning!'" Legolas chuckled to himself. "The Dwarf in the river was rescued, though he was asleep from the enchantment on the dark water. That was three days ago. The Dwarves are carrying him, and if he isn't the largest Dwarf of them all!"

The songs sung that night spoke of the Dwarves and the evils they raised from delving deeply into the earth. Thranduil, though, was disquiet. "Why are they in my forest?" he was heard to have pondered to himself that night.

Still, the celebration went on as scheduled, despite the Dwarves. Messages were relayed that they were keeping to the path, so they would most likely not stumble upon our merriment. There is something of a healing nature in the music and laughter of the Eldar, banishing the shadow and bringing joy to the trees. We had gathered in a clearing where spiders had once dwelled, one of many we had reclaimed as our own, removing their taint from the woods, and making it bright and shining. Lanterns swung from the boughs of the trees and torches were set in the ground. We sang songs of ages past: songs of starlight and the sun and the moon. We sang legends learned from our kin in Lothlorien, songs many thousands of years old.

And yet in our singing there was something not right, a rhythm contrary to the pulse of the song. Suddenly, there were figures coming out from between the trees! The dwarves had come upon us, ready to attack in their treachery. Ruindil kicked out the fire as we dashed the torches and lanterns. In the dim light of the stars, we gathered our food and harps, and the sawn rings of the felled trees we used to sit on, and left the clearing to the dwarves. We retreated to a clearing closer to Thranduil's hall, easily finding the clearing where Legolas was presiding over a similar feast.

"The Dwarves tried to halt our celebration," Ruindil told the prince, relating to him how the fourteen figures rushed out from the trees, their hands thrust greedily forward as they sought to take from us what was not rightfully theirs.

Legolas smiled. "Then join us here, my kin," he said from his perch on a branch overhead. "My Elf Lord has decreed that we should not let the Dwarves stop our joy this night." He caught the piece of fruit tossed up to him as he relaxed in the branches.

We happily set down our wooden stools among our kindred and joined in their singing and the telling of tales from so long ago, they made many of us feel young. Suddenly, Legolas held up a hand, tensing in alert. Faintly as a breath of wind through the boughs we heard the gruff voice that the prince had heard. "-and any way I hope they won't do anything nasty to him."

It was a Dwarvish voice, and one that said words implying that we of the Silvan folk were no better than Orcs to take a creature and do terrible things upon it. Moments later, a small thing stumbled into the clearing. It was not a Dwarf. It was even smaller than a Dwarf. Once again Ruindil dashed the fire. Legolas gracefully leapt down from the branch and once again we left the clearing to the Dwarves. We retreated even closer to the King's hall to the sounds of "You dratted Hobbit! Where are you? Bilbo Baggins!"

Thranduil met his son with joy, rising from the head of the feast to embrace Legolas. As the rest of us travelers joined in the singing, receiving the bowls passed to us, partaking of the celebratory wine. Only the best harpers played for Thranduil's feast, and the songs were merry, telling of deeds done in the long-ago past in places far away.

For several verses, Legolas spoke with Thranduil, causing the King first to scowl then to smile and finally laugh. Legolas waved Ruindil over, and the three Elves continued to speak, while room was made for Ruindil and Legolas to sit.

And between syllables, a Dwarf stepped out into our midst. He wore a sky- blue hood with long silver tassels. It looked rather worse for wear, but I could not see it long enough before we once again cast the Dwarves into darkness. For those that looked upon the king as well as the Dwarf, we could see anger in Thranduil's eyes. It was apparent that the celebration was over.

From the first time the Dwarves had interrupted our celebration, Ruindil knew that one was different. His hood had far more decoration than the others, and so when this Dwarf stepped in alone, upon Thranduil's will, he fell into an enchanted sleep. In the darkness, as we left the celebration, retiring to our own homes, we heard the calling of the Dwarves: "Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Fili, Kili, Bombur, Bifur, Bofur, Dwalin, Balin, Thorin Oakenshield, Bilbo!"