18. Here We Go Again!
Thorin Oakenshield sat in the dimness of his prison cell muttering to himself. It had been a dismal time for the proud Dwarf, the son of Thrain. Sitting in the dark brooding and bored was beginning to eat away at even his hardy, stubborn spirit. He would rather be out fighting Orcs as he had in the Battle of Azanulbizar, though that battle had been costly indeed. But what was this costing him? He moaned, feeling very sorry for himself. Yes, the Elves feed him, gave him wine to drink, and attended to his needs, but sitting here day after day, not knowing what had befallen his companions -grieving for them and cursing them in turn - was slowly driving him mad.
"Such a simple thing!" He said quietly. "Just tell that blasted Thranduil what he wants to know. How hard can that be! Such a simple thing. A simple thing."
But it was not so simple. To tell the Elf what he wanted would be to admit that an Elf had defeated him. And that would never happen! No Elf would ever defeat a Dwarf! Never! He pouted, now sitting with his arms folded over his chest. But, oh! He had never thought to be so tired of sitting in a stone room. He stood and began to pace.
"I really should just tell him!"
Outside his cell, two Elves shook their heads.
"What is he saying now?"
"I know not. The same thing he has been saying for days now. The Dwarf's language is so coarse and uncouth it begins to hurt my ears."
Laughing lightly at the poor prisoner they continued up the hall.
"How fares he?" The guard who sat outside the other Dwarf's cells asked, as they came into sight. "Still grumbling to himself?"
"Aye! It never ceases now. I wish King Thranduil would just let them go! They are quite a nuisance."
The guard laughed merrily.
"I think our good and wise King has had other things on his mind of late!"
The others laughed as well.
"It certainly has been entertaining! Were you here the night that -" He snorted with delight. "That Legolas the Sparkly Green made his appearance?"
"Nay! I wish I had been. Cuil and Calenthar told me all about it. I was down with that other one. I always seem to miss the fun! I could have been here watching the performance, but no, I was down in the "deep, dark" with the growling Dwarf."
"He is still growling in the "deep, dark". I almost feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for myself anyway, having to listen to his moaning and cursing. At least I think it is cursing. It is hard to tell."
Hidden in a shadowy corner, Bilbo felt a jolt of excitement. Was it possible that Thorin was indeed here? He had managed to locate the other eleven cells containing the remaining Dwarves since the night that Gloin had sung his duet and received a rather priceless gift from an Elf prince. But he had despaired of ever seeing Thorin. But now a glimmer of hope shone through. Perhaps his luck wasn't going to let him down after all! Silently he crept past the guards and headed down the torch lit corridor.
He heard Thorin's low muttering ere he saw the great oak and iron barred door. The leader of Thorin and Company was growling in Dwarvish so Bilbo couldn't understand what he was saying, thought the Dwarf's voice seemed despondent and defiant by turns. He moved to the door and whispered in the keyhole.
"Thorin! Thorin! Can you hear me?"
The Dwarf's voice faltered and he paused in his pacing. He stared wide-eyed at the door.
"Who is there?" He called. "Who is out there?"
"It is me! Bilbo Baggins! Thorin, are you well?"
The Dwarf stared at the door.
"Bilbo? The Burglar? No. That cannot be. Bilbo is far from here with the others. They have left me suffer this misery alone. Mahal curse them!"
"Thorin! Bother! Of course it is Bilbo! The others are here as well. We have been for quite some time, you know." The Hobbit glanced about, making certain that the guards weren't returning yet.
"Bilbo? Is it really you?" He ran to the door wishing that he were tall enough to see out the bars near the top. He spoke into the keyhole. "You are all really here! All of you!"
His voice sounded so jubilant and pitiful that Bilbo felt quite sorry for the rather proud Dwarf.
"We are all here. Never fear. We had quite an adventure, too, I can tell you." And he did. Thorin stood at the other side of the door listening in stunned amazement at the things that had befallen his companions after he had been taken by the Elves.
"You are quite a clever and resourceful fellow, Burglar Baggins." He said when Bilbo's tale - a rather longer one than Thorin thought was necessary - was finally finished. "I have a message that I need for you to deliver to the others. You must tell them that they are not - under any circumstances - to tell that Elf king anything about our errand here and they will be sorry if they even contemplate telling him about it!" He felt a flush rise to his cheeks as he said this, but no one would ever know of his own wavering.
"They wouldn't do that. They are doing quite well, actually. All except poor Gloin, that is." He shook his head remembering his last whispered conversation with that Dwarf. All that concerned Gloin was the fear that the Elven maiden would be in trouble for giving away a lock of her spun gold hair. "I fear he will never be the same."
"Well, tell them that we are not going to give that King Thranduil one small jewel if we can manage to help it. You will figure some way to get us out of this. I know you will. Then we won't have to share our treasure with him."
"It would be so much easier if you would just tell him and promise him a share." He said, knowing that it would fall on deaf ears.
"Never!" Thorin muttered. "He will never get anything from me, not after this shameful treatment."
"Very well." Bilbo said, in a rather resigned voice. "I will think of something. And I will tell the others what you have said." As he moved away, back up the corridor he said quietly to himself, "I would be glad to give him my share of the treasure if only it would free us from this place." But well he knew that Thorin would never agree to that either.
So it was that the Dwarves agreed with the message Thorin had sent to them, and very relieved they were to learn that he was alive and well, and here with them. Their spirits rose and they began to be hopeful.
"Gandalf always said that there was more about you than we knew." Balin said happily to him. "And that we would find that out before long. And well, by Aule, we have! Soon we will be sitting in our own halls of stone beneath the mountain, surrounded by our treasures from ages past. It will be wonderful." He paused deep in thought. "Who knows." He continued quietly. "Perhaps one day Khazad-dum will be ours again as well."
Bilbo shook his head as he thought on this. It seemed that was all these Dwarves thought of: reclaiming their lost treasures and glories of old.
"I will be content to be in my own chair in my own hole again, with a full pantry and the kettle singing merrily about tea time. And a pipe of Old Toby or Longbottom Leaf." At this thought the Hobbit laughed silently. "Poor old Legolas. I doubt he will ever forget any of this and will be quite glad to see us gone! But I shall miss that merry prince." He shook his head and returned to his little storeroom where he had spent the majority of his time in the Gladaran Thamas.
On the fifth day the penitents were released from their punishment. They managed to look quite repentant while Thranduil inspected box after box of glittering gems and jewelry. Finally he pronounced himself satisfied with their work and dismissed them, telling them to go and prepare for the feast the following night. The king had decided to throw another one, since the last ones had been interrupted by the Dwarves.
"And Legolas." He called after their departing forms, Tanglinna standing at his side. "See if you can find your brother, Aralith. He seems to be nowhere about."
Legolas nodded and went in search of his brother. When he, Tavor, and Brethil inspected his room, he was not to be found. But Tavor noted the spider hairs on the bed cover.
"You don't suppose." he began with a glance at Legolas. "I mean, you had mentioned that Gwibess had said something about other spiders wanting masters."
Legolas shook his head.
"I know not. I was not myself at that time." he added wryly. "She said that she had tried to stop them, but I don't know who they are." He shrugged. "He will show up.
"We should go and check on poor Gwibess. She must be quite distraught by all this." Brethil said, shaking his blonde head. "I still say you should at least have let her help us. She would rather have enjoyed it I think."
"Undoubtedly." Tavor snorted as they left Aralith's room. "Only she would have pocketed a few things on the way out and we would be wearing child's braids. That would be too humiliating, especially since your father is so graciously throwing another party. He probably would have made us sit with the children at their little table away from the adults. I couldn't survive that."
Brethil and Legolas looked at one another and grinned. Tavor took himself and his position in Mirkwood society much too seriously.
"Perhaps we should let Gwibess chose something from the Gem room. She did try to warn me after all." Legolas said, moving swiftly down the hall. "Father was surely exaggerating when he said he knew exactly how many jewels he has."
"And where he got them and when." Brethil added, trotting at his side.
"And in which box." Legolas finished.
"No!" Tavor called, hurrying to catch up to them. "You are not serious, are you Legolas? Please tell me you are not serious! Ai, Valar! Legolas! No!"
Brethil and Legolas broke into a run, laughing. Tavor stared after them, a look of horror on his fair face.
"Your father is going to kill us! Truly, kill us! Legolas! No!" He ran after them, dread welling in him. "I wish I was in Mandos Halls." He muttered. "At least you can't get into trouble there..at least I don't think so..not if you two aren't there.Wait!"
At that moment Aralith crept down the dim hall to the Gem room, a giant spider trailing him, hissing happily. The Elf prince trembled with fear, shuddering with horror. His life was shattered. The spider trailed him everywhere and his Magic Spider Spray was missing.
"I will get them for this!" he whispered. "I know Legolas, Tavor, and Brethil took it and set this spider on me! I will get them for this."
Remmith stayed practically on his heels until they arrived at the room. Aralith unlocked the door with the keys he had stealthily borrowed and opened the door. The spider took one look inside and began to dance with joy as Aralith opened box after box of newly polished gems. He had never seen so many sparkly things in his life. More even than Gwibess had!
Aralith moaned and backed out of the room.
"P.Please put them back when you are done." He told the spider. "And.and trouble me no more! Take what you want and leave! Please!" He fled down the hallway, leaving the spider happily pawing through the jewels looking for the perfect ones.
Later that day King Thranduil accompanied by Tanglinna, who had been ordered not to leave his side for some time to come, came to the Gem Room to pick some appropriate things for the feast. The king shoved open the door, only mildly surprised that it wasn't locked. But when he glanced inside he stopped dead in his tracks. Several of the boxes lay open on the floor, their contents spilled across the stone floor.
"What is this!" he yelled, stamping into the room. "Who has been here?!"
Tanglinna felt his brave heart quail.
"Oh, no." he breathed. "This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening!"
And once more the foundations of the grand hall of Thranduil shook.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.