Act III, Part XII: Sojourning with the Silvan Elves
Tinnurion lived with the Nandor for nigh a hundred years, up until 2941 of the Third Age. His stay was pleasant enough, though at start he kept mostly to himself, and he did not even partake in the yearly festivities, with some mistrusting him for it. But as the century progressed, his love for the Silvan Elves grew and eventually he closed friendships that were of much value to him. He made himself useful as a worker, offering his help where he could. If he had had the chance, he would have become Thranduil’s bottle-bearer like he had been Eöl’s, for he was much indebted to the king for giving him leave to stay in his halls, and the labour would have suited him. But that task was already appointed to an elf named Galion, for whom Tinnurion held little love.
His skill as a smith was of no use either, for the Wood-elves did not work metals or jewels and they knew not how to mine. Instead, he offered his skill in stealth to the hunters, with whom he hunted throughout the woods. But even he could not easily keep up with the Silvan Elves, for he was still maimed in posture and it kept him from attaining the same level of speed and agility. They did not mind, however, and valued his contribution nonetheless, albeit at the cost of the occasional jest.
“O how the Black Elf likes to catch our shade,” they yelled tauntingly as he tried to keep up. “No time to tarry in the shadows!”
But it so happened that a party of Elven hunters had not returned from their hunt in the forest and many were afraid that something had gone amiss. Before long a group of their finest hunters had formed and they were prepared to venture out after them, but then Tinnurion quite unexpectantly offered his help too. They were hesitant, knowing all too well that he lacked their strength and youthfulness. But Tinnurion could not be persuaded to stay behind, and in his words resonated a peculiar sense of selflessness that was most unbecoming of him. He knew not whether it was because of the banter of the Wood-elves or because he was genuinely interested in doing a good deed, but before he knew well what it was that drove him, the Silvan Elves had already agreed to take him along.
There was no laughter as they moved at great speed through the forest, seeking signs of their lost brethren. Tinnurion lagged behind, more so than usual, for the Silvan Elves knew this part of the forest better than he did, and in their determination to find their missing friends, they were swifter and less mindful than before. And thus, it happened that Tinnurion eventually found himself alone in the forest, not knowing where they had swept off to. He felt ashamed and was about to turn back when suddenly, he heard the trees shake violently behind him, as if something came scurrying his way at great speed. And sure enough, a throng of large spiders had been awakened by the carelessness of the Elven hunters and they set upon them in force. Tinnurion was hiding, but he knew that the Wood-elves would be overwhelmed and pressed to scatter back home.
Tinnurion could have turned back there to avoid having to put himself into harm’s way. He did not even have to return to Thranduil’s caves if he wanted to. He could have simply left to find someplace far away from Elves or spiders, and they would have been none the wiser, as there were enough dangers in the woods to account for his disappearance. And who in their realm would live to mourn his passing? He was not one of them, nor did they love him like they did their own. But the tragedy of Gardbrand the woodman and the terrible spider Saewren were still fresh in mind and he could not bear the thought to live through that again. The doubt Morgoth had planted into him held no sway and with sure steps he moved in pursuit of the spiders. But the spiders had by this time scattered the Elves and many had turned homebound. One of the Wood-elves had been caught in their webs and before he could cut himself loose, the spiders had taken him.
Tinnurion had espied the spiders dragging their captured prey to their nest. He followed them secretly and silently, as was his way. When at last he entered their den, he learned that most of the spiders had gone to hunt the runaway elves, hoping to make their evening meal a real feast. Only one had stayed behind to guard the nest, and this one was hoping that one of the Elves would be foolhardy enough to try and save their lost companion. But Tinnurion was more learned in the ways of being unseen, so that by some form of Elven magic did he make it to the webbed elf unnoticed. However, as he cut his friend loose, the bite of his dagger betrayed him and he bruised the elf who let out a cry, alarming the guard. This spider was fat and strong and filled with hateful purpose, and Tinnurion did not carry with him Níniolêg, the spider’s bane, only two daggers. With these daggers he fought the creature and, in the end, came out victorious.
But other spiders just like it now returned from their hunt and angry were they when they learned that someone had entered their nest unbidden and had slain one of their own. Two more came at him quickly, clawing and stinging, but Tinnurion could not be overcome and his daggers caused deadly blows to both. It was a wondrous sight to see him fight with such aim, with such zeal. He had not fought like it since days of old, when first he met battle upon Amon Ereb with strength unblemished. And his subdued companion witnessed all, and he would have witnessed his downfall too, were it not for the Wood-elves who came in his hour of need and in great number scattered the spiders.
Upon their return to their woodland halls, Tinnurion was much celebrated for his valiant stand against the spiders of the wood. “Gwîrist, the weaver-cleaver”, they called him now, and none ever dared to mock him again.