If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words
This is a not for profit work of fan fiction based upon the works of J.R.R. Tolkien
Brethilas and Thalion are my own characters
Third in the Twiglet Series
Bringing up Twiglet
Thalion, one time Premier Healer to the Woodland Realm, currently Adjutant to King Thranduil's Brigade Commander, Brethilas, emerged from a vast storage cavern laden with wicker baskets filled to brimming with…
"Junk…!" Brethilas said as he went up on tippy-toes and peered into the uppermost of the baskets.
"I prefer to view this as…" Thalion began.
"Detritus…?" Brethilas re-evaluated.
"It is Rhiw, snow blankets the realm, and the Twiglet wishes to make his Adar a picture. Now, how does that make you feel, ye of the galloping gums?" Thalion asked.
"Humbled?" Brethilas replied. "I have a free hour or two, if you wish me to help?"
"I should appreciate the support, and remember, if he draws a deer, and it has five legs, do not ask! It may be an immature buck without antlers!" Thalion cautioned.
"I shall refrain from any guesswork, have no fear, I recall the drawing of the cake with eight candles that turned out to be a dead spider!" Brethilas grumbled.
Shaking his mane of silver hair, Thalion headed unenthusiastically towards the apartments he shared with his adopted son Brethilas. These days Prince Legolas, Twiglet to his father, a witticism of Thranduil's because his fifth and final son was the smallest branch on the Greenwood Family tree, had all but taken up residence in their quarters. For some reason the elfling could best lay aside the grief he felt over the passing of his naneth, Queen Pharin, when in the company of these two ellyn. What had at first been an act of kindness to their king had somehow morphed into much more, for despite the moaning and the groaning, they both doted on the sweet tempered little sprite.
"Falion, Brefilas, I has my ape-ron on!" Legolas chirruped as two of the cornerstones of his world entered the chaotic chamber.
When this little one came to visit, all order fled their lives. Laundry draped from the mantle-shelf, weaponry was stacked, unattended, against the walls, and dishes seemed to be piled up in the small alcove where they would brew tea, and make rudimentary meals. In short, it was like having their little bolt-hole within Thranduil's caverns invaded.
"I has an idea, Falion," said Twiglet.
"Oh, goody…!" Thalion replied, dripping sarcasm, which of course went straight over the little elfling's head.
"I wants to make a snow spider!" Twiglet said gleefully.
"Why…?" Brethilas asked in genuine horror.
"It is Rhiw, there is snow, and all the spiders will be snowy!" Legolas reasoned.
"Many creatures in the Woodland Realm shall be…snowy…why must you draw a spider?" Brethilas asked.
"They is easy to dwaw," said Twiglet.
"Yes, they is, are, but would you not rather draw a wabb…a rabbit…for instance?" Brethilas asked encouragingly.
"Ada likes my spiders," said Twiglet, picking up on the nuances radiating from the elders.
"But so many spiders might be…one means…it is the time of winter, and hares are white, and foxes, and help me, Thalion!" Brethilas groaned.
"Spiders are black, it is tedious, one knows, but a 'snow' spider is not a particularly good subject," said Thalion.
"I do not want to make a hare, or a fox, they is bo-wing," Twiglet groaned.
"Then we must think of something that is not boring," said Brethilas.
"Legolas wants to make a Snow Queen," said the vulnerable little elfling.
"Ah…and why not?" Brethilas replied. Suddenly a snow spider seemed a wonderful idea.
Legolas was making little grunting noises as he painted. He was clearly caught up in the moment, for it was demanding work, painting…sky.
"That is very…effective…but perhaps you ought to use one of the other paint pots. Perhaps some tree trunks, painted, well, brown?" Brethilas suggested.
"No…" Thalion murmured "only wait, for they are sure to be red wood trees!"
"Never," Brethilas said, and he laughed at such a notion, until Legolas lifted a pot of red paint and asked Falion 'pwease to pop the lid.'
"Try not to mix the trees with the sky, or you shall have something purple going on," Brethilas cautioned.
"Here I is a'painting, the wonder of the twees," Twiglet warbled, "and here is a wittle bat, hanging from his knees!"
"He is besotted with bats," Brethilas groaned.
"Bats, and spiders," Thalion sighed.
Legolas needed a little help with the outline of his Snow Queen, and then he was off and running, painting inside the lines like an elfling possessed. The Snow Queen had golden hair like Pharin's, well, yellow, his closest colour to the shade he wished to convey given his limited palette. He was going well, painting up a storm, tongue lolling decorously from the corner of his mouth, when all of a sudden there sounded a sigh, and an annoyed: "Wats…!"
Thalion, drowsing with his blue eyes open in the elven way, sat bolt upright. Brethilas, younger, and possessed of more stamina than his companion, merely leaned forward to scan the work in progress and asked: "Where are there rats?"
"I painted Nan…I mean the angel's…golden cwown, but it gotted swallowed wif her hair!" Legolas said wearily. His huge blue eyes were swimming with unshed tears and Brethilas scooped him up, paint spattered ape-ron and all, and bestowed a kiss to the golden hair, and a hug to comfort the little sprite.
"Why does the angel's head have spikes?" Thalion mumbled. "She appears to have swallowed an entire hedgehog which has wedged itself…gah!"
Brethilas glared at his slack-mouthed companion, who in turn glowered back as he briskly rubbed his boot-barked shin!
"My pic-chure is ruined!" Legolas wailed.
"Not a bit of it, we simply have to highlight one or two features," said Brethilas.
"How?" asked the Twiglet, scrubbing at his eyes with paint daubed fists.
"Well, if we look through the rubbish…the materials…contained in Thalion's baskets, perhaps we can make a crown to paste onto the picture!" Brethilas said softly as he fished a 'kerchief from his pocket and dried the elfling's scalding tears.
"May we make a bat, too?" Legolas asked.
"If there is some material that will look convincing," Brethilas said, feeling certain there would not be.
Swarming over the baskets like a soldier ant over a leaf, Legolas surfaced with some scrap that had clearly fired his already fertile imagination.
"Ooh! Bat fur! Falion, come see, we can make a bat after all!"
"Oh, that is wonderful!" Thalion said, melting into a pool of enthusiasm.
"Only you could have kept enough black felt to make a bat!" Brethilas grumbled.
"We of the older generations remember the struggles to relocate here. Waste not; want not!" Thalion replied.
"Oh, for the want of black felt the realm was lost, that sort of thing?" Brethilas said sarkily.
"If it rescues this wreckage of a painting it shall have earned its space in the Greenwood," said Thalion.
"You are, as always, in the right, old friend," said Brethilas as he dipped his head humbly.
"Now, where is this 'bat' going to be hung?" Thalion asked, finally getting into stride, and in full artistic mode.
"That, if one may say so, is a very credible picture, your highness," said Brethilas.
Twiglet, looking as though he had collided with a rainbow, nodded his head vigourously.
"I like her new cwown, fank you, Falion, for sewing it on," said Legolas.
"The crown is rather fetching, one cannot beat crystal beading for a regal effect," said Thalion.
"Now, would you like us to ask Emmelin to bring you some soup, and a glass of milk, before your afternoon nap, little highness?" Brethilas asked.
Exactly on cue, Twiglet's tummy growled hungrily, and he nodded his head before yawning widely.
Emmelin, along with every other elf in Greenwood the Great, felt great empathy with the littlest of the king's sons. It had been such a tragedy, his naneth being killed by the spiders as she protected her little son. It had left a scar upon the elfling's mind, a shadow that hung over him, and manifest itself in nightmares, and his constant need to incorporate spiders in every aspect of his little life.
"Your highness," said the under butler to Galion with a kind smile, and a gracious bow, as he set the bowl upon the table, and beside it a spoon and napkin.
"What kind of soup is it, Emmelin?" Twiglet asked as he licked his lips and reached to spread his napkin.
"Carrot, with a trace of coriander," said the senior servant.
"Ooh, Twiglet likes carriander and corrot!" said the little one as he dipped his spoon and tasted the delicious soup.
"He likes everything, the little hog," Thalion snorted.
"Our thanks, Emmelin," said Brethilas in gratitude.
"Any service is freely offered to such a sweet-natured little sprite," said Emmelin, and now he bowed to the two ellyn, and departed.
The sound of slurping filled the small cavern as the prince downed his soup, and then he quaffed his glass of milk, and set the glass down next to the empty bowl.
"Twiglet needs to…" and there was that tell-tale little fidget.
"Yes, well, go with Thalion, and when you return you may borrow my bed and take your cat nap before going to give your gift to your Adar," said Brethilas.
"Adar will be so pleased with my picture of my…snow angel!" said Legolas.
Legolas woke after a long sleep, refreshed and raring to take his picture to his father, the king. Thalion had laid it close to the hearth to dry, given so much paint had saturated the painting over the course of its creation. The overall effect was really quite impressive. The angel's crown was sparkling atop a golden haired head, which, it had to be said, had a face with a rather lopsided expression. Twiglet was duly proud of the completed article, and so he picked it up and went to visit his Adar.
Now, if only Thranduil had been in his apartments when his son had arrived, the resulting calamity would never have occurred. Legolas mooched around the king's own quarters seemingly for ever, and he soon exhausted his list of favourite things to do. He peered into the telescope, seeing no heavenly body, given it was pointed towards the king's desk. Not to be daunted, Twiglet found a large map of his homeland and traced the rivers with one finger until he ran out of rivers. Next he discovered his father's bow, unstrung for safety, and the little sprite pretended to shoot, what else, spiders! They soon fell into a heap of thrashing legs in his imagination, and he set the weapon back in place before raiding the fruit bowl. Boredom had now set in with a vengeance, and so Legolas decided he might find his father out in the gardens. Legolas laid the picture upon the desk and left the apartments.
Thranduil's legendary portal, the gates which opened as if by magic into the side of a mountain, had always fascinated Legolas. He could not know they were operated by the two Porters who occupied a gatehouse, and who raised and lowered the gates having first ascertained the identity of any callers. Both ellyn smiled to see the little prince approach, for he was beloved of all within the realm. It was extremely taxing to stifle one's laughter when the little piping voice called out:
"Hello, gates, it is me, Legowas, your friend, and I wish to leave the Palace, fank you!"
The little one was permitted to leave so long as he was either accompanied or going to the king's gardens, for this did not involve going out with the courtyard. The gate silently swung upwards, and Legolas skipped out with a sunny little wave, and singing a little ditty about, what else, trees!
"Here I is a visiting, the king's pwivate twees, all topped wif snow and…ooh…snow!"
Thranduil had been in Council more than three hours, and he was wearied from listening to the gloomy reports being read aloud by one patrol leader after another. With the realm gridlocked by the snow there was no way to exchange intelligence with Imladris, and so each of the Elven Realms must re-double their efforts to secure their borders. Laying aside his winter cloak trimmed with ermine fur, Thranduil was about to settle into his armchair when something caught his attention. Crossing to the desk, the king noted a puddle of water, now flowing onto the floor, his maps were saturated, and his documents ruined, and how had this outrage come about in the first place? Grasping a piece of scrap from the desk, Thranduil began to mop the mess, and only then did he realize this was a drawing from his little son!
"Aiee…!" Thranduil wailed. "What have I done? But…however did this get to be in such a ruinous state?"
"There you is, Ada, did you like my…pic-chure?"
The smile slid from the little elfling's face, just as the water had slid to the floor.
"However did this happen, sprite?" Thranduil asked with sadness.
"I draw-ed you a Snow Queen, but her dwess was too ord-nary, and when Legowas see-ed the snow in the gardens, underneef the twees, he brought some inside and pressed it onto her dwess to make it really snowy!" Legowas wailed, "Naneth has faded all over 'gain, Ada!"
"Oh, my poor little son, who never can get anything right, but who tries so hard to please!" Thranduil lifted the little elfling and hugged him as he wept against Legolas' fine baby hair. "I love you enough for both your Naneth and I, and never doubt it, I shall treasure your gift, because you worked so hard, and finally you have understood she will not return, for, just like her picture, she has faded, and gone beyond to Lord Namo, there to wait for us, my little tiny one!"
"You still has Twiglet, ada; he is not going to fade 'way! He is going to stay here, and care for you forever," said Legolas.
"You are more precious now to me than ever, for you are my living link to my beautiful Snow Queen!" Thranduil whispered, and somehow his fractured heart felt lighter, for just like the childish drawing, it was only the image of his beloved that was lost to him; she lived on in spirit, in the vastness of Namo's Halls, there to await his coming. It had taken the childlike drawing of an innocent little sprite to remind him of this comforting fact, and now perhaps he, too, could come to terms with Pharin's loss.
"It wasn't a very good pic-chure ada," Twiglet confessed, "for the bat kept falling out of the twee!"
For all the Twiglet fans out there, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year,