A Dragon Among Elves

Author's Note: As always with this series, it's best not to take this too seriously. Can be considered slightly AU, though Legolas assures me this actually happened... :p

This story is dedicated to the memory of Steve Irwin, AKA The Crocodile Hunter. Steve was the ultimate Wildlife Warrior and he inspired this side of my Legolas even back when I originally wrote Surprises in the Greenwood in 2006. We still miss you Steve…

Chapter 1

A Hasty Retreat

Year 2572 T. A.

About 450 years before the Council of Elrond…

Legolas supervised his patrol in the destruction of the last spider nest in the area. The eradication in this part of the wood had gone well. The arrival of two other patrols, including Saelvathor, Commander of the Elvenking's patrols, had been a great aid. Only two warriors had been injured and none had been injected with the spiders’ numbing venom. In this last nest, all the adult giant spiders had already been killed, and all that was left was to destroy the egg sacs containing the next generation of the foul eight-legged beasts.

Watching the last egg sac be consumed by flames, ensuring none of the eggs from this nest would hatch to further plague their wood, Legolas smiled, satisfied in a job well done. Movement on the tree next to him caught his eye, however, and he turned to find a small spider climbing in haste up the trunk. It was a young spider-ling, smaller than his fist but about twice the size of one of the sharp metal barbs that tipped his arrows. Having rarely had the opportunity to study the creatures at such close range, he found himself fascinated and moved closer to get a better look. The spider froze, as if it realized it had been discovered. Turning to face him, it took up a defensive stance, raising itself up on its back legs and lifting the front two to aid its fangs in defending itself.

"Captain, all spiders have been killed, and the egg sacs have been destroyed. What orders now? Shall we report to Commander Saelvathor? He waits just outside the nest."

Legolas vaguely heard Alagoss, his lieutenant, speaking, but could not draw his eyes from the tree and the spider-ling. The ring of a dagger being drawn however, pierced through his fascination.

"HOLD!" he commanded, stopping Alagoss's arm from delivering a killing blow to the spider-ling with a firm hand.

Alagoss gave him a look of disbelief. "But captain! It is a spider-ling, the same as the others we have killed here. In time it will grow to giant size as its kin."

Legolas turned an exasperated look on his lieutenant. "I am quite aware of what these things become, Alagoss. I have not spent my entire life here to be ignorant of the wildlife! But look at it…so small, yet so brave. Its death is sure, still it turns and defends itself courageously."

Alagoss shook his head as Legolas's eyes returned to the small spider and he beheld it with a look of awe. Alagoss was reminded just who his captain was — the youngest prince, captain of the spider patrol and renowned wildlife rescuer. It seemed there was not an injured or orphaned animal that the prince came upon that he was not able to save. How many squirrels, deer, rabbits, even wolves and other critters had their prince brought home over the years? It was inevitable, he supposed, that Legolas would be captivated by a spider-ling, even though his prince knew the thing would need to be destroyed.

So when Legolas glanced at him with a strange sparkle in his eyes and said: "Find me a container…with a lid…now!" Alagoss found himself starting to move, though he shook his head, hardly believing Legolas would even attempt such a thing!

"HOLD, Alagoss!" another commanding voice declared. And Alagoss did for striding towards them was Saelvathor, and no one disobeyed that fell warrior. "Your highness, you are not bringing that along with us! I will not allow it!"

Alagoss watched as Legolas’s head lifted and the prince turned and glared at the commander. For a few moments, the lieutenant felt he was watching a children’s game in which a ball was tossed between two players, such did his eyes bounce between commander and captain.

"I am taking it. You cannot prevent me."

"I can and I shall! You do not have the authority remove that creature from here."

"I am captain of this patrol!"

"And I command all patrols in this realm! NO!"

"And I am the prince to whom you have sworn oaths! You do not order me in such as this!"

"Your father will skin me alive! Your safety falls to me when on patrol, and prince or not, I forbid you to take that thing from this area. It will be destroyed!" Saelvathor's gaze turned very cold. "Now I remind you to remember your place, or captain will no longer be a title you hold."

Legolas dropped his eyes, his stomach rolling as he realized what he had just said. He had been gravely wrong. It was not his place to challenge Saelvathor’s authority, nor his own nature to so flaunt his title of prince. Looking up again, he met the commander’s eyes, feeling quite contrite .

"Forgive me, I was out of line. I—"

Saelvathor nodded curtly, spinning on his heel before Legolas could say more. "Just kill it," was the called command.

"Well that went better than I'd have thought," Alagoss commented with a grin.

Legolas snorted. "I have gotten far too full of myself. I've been away from my wife too long." He grinned at Alagoss, and they both turned their attention back to the spider-ling that had caused the outburst…only to find the spider was gone.

They scanned the area and each other, looking for the small creature, but it appeared that during the confrontation the spider-ling seemed to have made a hasty retreat and was no longer to be found.

Legolas gave Alagoss a sheepish smile. "Errr…"

"Well," Alagoss grinned back. "We'll find it again soon enough. Another year and it won't be so easily able to evade our eyes."

The call to move out came, and Legolas and Alagoss rejoined their patrol, heading back for the king's halls.

Author's Note – Judging from what we know of Shelob, giant spiders seem to have long lifespans. For the purpose of this story, I am assuming that can be many centuries. I also take certain liberties with the innate nature of certain creatures assumed to be evil from birth and tweak them to fit my quirked muses.

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