They were gathering at the mouth of the cave, and the fire would not light.
Aredhel's forearms prickled. Her mouth was dry and tasted of sulphur, and the sides of her throat slipped out of kilter each time she swallowed. Echoes of their soft, cruel clacking crept towards her. The faint light of the moon cast their shadows on the walls – swollen, bulbous pedipalps; trembling abdomens, heavy like rotten fruit; angular legs tapping their way through the dark. Her hands shook as she rolled the spindle between them, but the air was damp, and the rotten wood refused to spark.
Their viscous whispers stroked her mind. She squeezed her eyes shut and thought of fire, praying for courage, willing the sense-memory of heat through her veins. She remembered golden Laurelin, and the pale, ancient aura of her grandfather – and Tyelko and the rest of them, blazing in the torchlight of Tirion...
A hiss and a bright flicker, and she opened her eyes, astonished. Fire leapt from spindle to tinder.
“But this gift was never mine,” she whispered.
Laughter murmured through the cave like a teasing caress, ethereal, warm and maddeningly familiar.
You are wrong, child. It was always yours. It belongs to all of you.
No time to wonder. Gently she blew on the skittering flames, and as they flared the clacking shadows drew away. Afraid no longer, Aredhel lifted a burning brand from the fire, and held it aloft in her right hand. With her left she drew the thin, curved sword forged for her by Fëanor across the Sea, and she turned to the mouth of the cave.
“Get you gone, foul children of Ungoliant,” she snarled. “For I am Aredhel Ar-Feiniel of the House of Finwë, and I do not fear you.”
Nelya asked for Aredhel, after leaving Gondolin and losing her escort. I hope this is OK – you did say you didn't mind spiders...!
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