Disclaimer: All the characters appearing in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are copyrighted by Warner Brothers and the J.R.R. Tolkien estate. No infringement of these copyrights intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. I write this fan fiction only for love of the The Hobbit and not for profit.
"The Mountain shall reveal her secrets,
As the moon shall shine and burn,
Erebor welomes home her children
As Erebor's Key does turn!"
Thorin embedded his blade into the craggy rock, a grin of triumph crossing his features as he stood at the top of the ridge. "What do you see?"
"Naught!" Dwalin surveyed the rocky valley.
Bella lightly traipsed over the sharp rocks, studying her surroundings and not quite sure for what she needed to find. With only the rushing of the nearby waterfall to fill the stillness of the morning along with the reverberations of Dwalin's bellow off the ravine walls, the place seemed barren and lifeless.
"Albeit the map be right, then the unseen gate is near," his hand grasped the hardy linen parchment as he scanned granite cliffs, letting his eyes look upward to a carved stairwell that zigzagged to the top of the valley wall. Scrutinizing the rough and uneven terrain, Thorin knew it would take better part of the day to scale the cliff to find the hidden door before the last light of Durin's Day.
"Thorin, look!" he turned to see Bella skipping over the stones and pointing to a discoloration that he went previously unnoticed.
His heart swelled within his chest, pounding from being near victory and skipping beats from the rush of emotion that filled him when his One brought them closer to their destiny. He dashed to Bella's side, beaming with pride for his wife's discovery as much with the euphoria of achieving a nigh-impossible quest. "Your sight is sharp, Ghivashel."
Bella shook her head once, elated by the rare compliment from her usually brooding husband. She gave him a quick curtsey, "At your service, My King."
He crooked his index finger beneath her chin, gently lifting her chin so that her gaze met his. Resting his brow to hers and rubbing her nose with his own, his low voice spoke only for ears to hear. "Mahal has blessed me with a clever wife and once Erebor is restored, Bella, I shall drape you in emeralds to match your eyes and fire opals to adorn your hair."
Bella found she couldn't reply to that her breath burned in her throat from the deep, intimate sound of his voice rumbling softly in her ear.
The fading light of the west lay heavy and golden upon the cavern walls, making shadows lay dark upon the party as they climbed the last steps of the rough-hewn stairwell. Bella ascended the stairs with Thorin closely behind her, followed by the rest of the Company. Excitement grew within her with each step as intuition told her they neared the hidden portal that promised entry into Erebor.
Once at the top of the cliff, Thorin strode past Bella, scanning the granite crags for any sign of carving or keyhole. His hands passed over the jagged edges, letting his calluses search for hidden crevices or any crafted mechanism within the stone. Thorin glanced over his shoulder quickly at Bella, his eyes bright with anticipation. Bella understood his silent question, answering with a single nod.
"Bella, have we found it?" Thorin panted as from exertion as much as elation. "the hidden door?"
"My intuition is screaming yes," she replied. "this is it, Thorin."
Thorin turned to face the rest of the Company joining them on the precipice.
"Our Burglar says we have found it," he announced to the company. He held the Key to the Mountain high in victory. "Let those who doubted us rue this day!"
Cheers rose in unison to his triumphant words, echoing off the ravine walls.
"Right, then, lads. We have key and where there is a key, there is a way inside. Let's be finding it, then." Dwalin said, resting his hands on the sun-warmed granite.
"The last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole," Thorin said quietly, glancing at map then at his wife. "Elrond said that moon runes say that plainly."
"I know, My Love," Bella whispered, grasping Thorin's hand tightly. "The day isn't over yet."
Thorin looked to the west, seeing the sun beginning to sink between to jagged peaks "Nori, find it."
Bella heard the urgency in Thorin's voice. She watched the master handler take a spoon from his rucksack, tapping it gently on the side of the mountain with ear pressed against granite, listening for the slightest change in sound. Five minutes passed into seven, then became twelve and after, twenty.
"We're losing the light," Thorin barked, "Hurry."
Bella's stifled nervous laughter when she saw Dwalin think the best solution was to beat the mountain into submission by kicking it. She heard him sputter several profanities in Khuzdul that she recognized. She put aside her momentary smirk, realizing that it would be another two centuries before the keyhole would revealed. Thorin and the Company had only one opportunity to fulfill the quest.
"Stop it, ye lout," Nori snapped at Dwalin. "I can't hear nothing with you grunting like a grumpy bear."
"It's not here!" Dwalin's palms slammed against stone. "Where in Mahal is it?"
Several eyes looked toward the sun vanishing in the west beneath the horizon, to the wall then back toward Thorin. "Turn this wall to rubble."
Several Dwarrows rushed the wall, axes and war hammers pounding against the stone and throwing sparks as they collided with rock.
"Lad, it's folly to think you can break into Erebor," Balin said gently to Thorin. "Strong Magic flows through this mountain and none gain entry to her without her permission."
The final rays of life faded away as the sun set in the west.
"No," Thorin's voice sounded raw to Bella's ears. "It can't be. He pointed to the the map. "The last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole. Elrond translated the moon runes. What did we miss?"
Bella saw the bright pain shining in her husband's eyes as she heard his heart break. His hoarse voice reflected his despair. "Balin, tell me, I beg you. What did we miss?"
"The light is gone, Lad, and our one chance is no more," Balin shook his head. "It's done. Let's take our leave."
Balin turned away and started back down the stairwell, followed slowly in turn by each member of the party. Bella's jaw fell slack as she watched them leave, not believing that these incredible Dwarrows who had battled Orcs and survived trolls would accept defeat so quickly.
Thorin stood silently in front of hard, a single tear more precious than diamonds trailed down his cheek. His dejection took away his his heart and will before Bella's eyes and she never felt more powerless than at that moment. Stunned, she watched as Thorin turned away from her, letting the key fall from his grasp and clang once it fell upon the rocky cliff.
"How could we be so wrong?" he asked, turning away from her as he joined the others descending the mountain. Bella knew he truly meant, 'how could you be so wrong?' She watched his faith in her melt away when he thrust the map at Bella. "Do with it what you will."
The Desolation of Thorin stabbed at Bella's heart as he left her along in the twilight. "Thorin, come back," she called after him. He didn't respond as he left her behind. "Don't leave. Don't give up."
Shattered. Broken. Wrecked. Thorin Oakenshield was decimated.
"No," Bella muttered aloud, studying the map in the growing darkness. "I'll be damned it I give up this easily just because things get a little difficult. I traveled that that brick-headed Dwarf halfway across the world and I'm not about to quit now."
She paced back and forth for a moment, studying the map in the fading light while she tried remembering Elrond's translation. "What I wouldn't give for a little moonlight now to see these damned runes again."
Bella ceased her pacing, tapping her brow trying remember the entire translation of the moon runes. "Come on, Belladonna, what did Elrond say? What did he say? 'Stand by the gray stone."
She saw striation in the rock showing the different ores and minerals embedded within the granite, including a large spot of pure gray rock. She took two steps forward, knowing that she was close to remembering everything "What else did he say? I think he said, 'when the thrush knocks.'"
She repeated the prophecy several times, "The setting sun." When the clouds above her parted, bathing Bella in white and silver light that was when a gentle rapping filled her ears and she turned to the source of the sound upon the stone. In the moonlight, Bella saw the same bird that she had spotted earlier that day, pecking upon a small boulder near the mountain wall. She wasn't certain if it was the chilled winter breeze or her exploding epiphany causing her skin to prickle with anticipation.
"The last light," she stuttered as she watched the thrush fly away and the moon shine down upon gray rock. There, she saw the keyhole come into sight. Last light, moon runes. She ran to the cliff's edge, calling down to the Company. "Come back, the last light of Durin's Day is the last moon of Autumn!"
Bella's newfound triumph quickly turned to urgency as she scoured the ground. "Where's the bloody, sodding key? I know it was here. I saw Thorin drop it."
Her foot hit cool metal and she heard mettle skidder across granite.
"Oh, bullocks," she cried as she scampered after it as it flew toward the cliff's edge. "Oh, no, no, no!"
She saw a thick, iron-toed boot step out, stomping the leather cord tethered to the key and keeping it from falling over the side of the mountain. She recognized well the particular design on that boot to know it belonged Thorin Durinson. She let her gaze travel slowly upward until hazel eyes met stormy blue.
She saw the silent reverence and awe in his gaze hold her in place as he knelt slowly to take the key in hand. Only the slight breeze made any noise at all on the mountain side as Thorin carefully held the key in the moonlight. He studied it as the others of the party returned to the narrow ridge. He looked at Bella, a grateful smile upon his lips as he helped her to her feet. He stepped forward, pressing his brow to hers. "Forgive me, my wife. I always make the mistake of doubting you when it is you I know to trust most."
"Nothing to forgive, My Love," she whispered in reply. She nodded toward the rock. "Now, go unlock your mountain."
Thorin silently nodded, placing the key in the keyhole, then turning it to the right. He put his hands upon the granite and felt the stone give lightly beneath his palms. He gave one forceful shove and the heavy weight of the mountain moved, opening the door long hidden.
TO BE CONTINUED. . .