A Troll Cave, Sign Language, and King Arthur
Thorin glared at Gandalf, trying valiantly to ignore the giggles that Jael was no longer muffling. "Where were you?"
Jael stole the next classic line, unable to help herself, "And what brought you back?" The smile on her face negated the normally annoyed line.
He smiled back at her, slyly, "Looking behind."
Before Thorin and the other dwarves could get into an argument with Gandalf, he reminded them that the trolls should have had a treasure cave somewhere nearby.
That diverted all the dwarves' attention from him, and they began to cast about for where the trolls could have possibly come from. It wasn't long before they found the first footprint that led up the side of the mountain to a cave with a locked door.
No amount of pushing by the dwarves allowed them in, and it wasn't until Bilbo presented a key, that might have been small and secretive for a troll, but was quite big for a hobbit, that they finally managed to get the door open.
Jael had read about the horrible smell in the cave, and she had smelled quite a few decaying animal corpses on her hunting trips so she'd thought she'd been prepared for the smell that would assault her senses. She wasn't.
It felt as if someone had dumped a rotting corpse in a eight-day-old diaper, bathed it in skunk spray, and then smacked her in the face with it.
She and her dogs ran from the cave opening. She had no interest in anything that could be found in a cave that smelt that horrible. She took deep breaths in the fresh mountain air, trying to avoid throwing up. Her dogs could not stop sneezing. Apparently, the horrible smell had been too much for them as well.
How are they managing to walk into that cave without puking?! Is that what happens the longer you're here? Your sense of smell disappears?!
When Gandalf came out, bringing a dagger with him, Jael almost refused it. But, after he forced it into to her hand, turning away to head back into the cave to find some more things, she took a discreet sniff, and was relieved that the binding on the hilt did not smell like the cave.
Although she did have a knife, she did not want to blunt it using it on any of the...enemies that they'd be likely to meet on this journey. So it was nice that she now had a different weapon to use in case she ran out of arrows.
When the dwarves began to drag out food and ale from the trolls cave, intending on eating because they were hungry, she almost revolted. What is it with men and being willing to eat anything that's been in the cave? I so hoped that they wouldn't do that.
While they cooked that, she headed into the woods, hunting down something to eat that hadn't been in the cave with the trolls. She finally came across a small rabbit, and she shot it. She brought it back, skinning it and cleaning it, giving the offal to her pets while she cooked the rest of it.
Once she'd finished eating, she gave the rest to her dogs and quickly buried the bones. After that, they all slept because they had gotten no sleep the night before. Only when the afternoon was advanced did they begin moving again.
Although they had begun to feel the danger, and there were no more stories or songs, that didn't stop Jael from keeping the sign language for dummies book open, trying desperately to learn sign language so that she could communicate with Bifur, who, because of the axe to his head, could only speak the dwarvish tongue or use the dwarvish sign language that they had invented to combat the loud sounds of mining ore.
Once she was sure that she knew a few signs by heart, she rode over to Bofur and Bifur. "Um, I noticed that you only speak dwarvish, and then I saw you making signs with your hands? I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to learn that since it counts as the dwarvish language?"
She waited for their confirmation, and then she continued, "Well, my world has something like it, and I have a book on it. I was wondering if you'd like to learn it with me? Then we could communicate easily."
His grin made her smile, and they agreed to spend time every night before bed learning sign language together. Plus, they could practice while they rode. Jael was ecstatic because she'd felt so awkward the first time she'd spoken to him, and someone had had to interpret his answer. This would make it so much easier on everyone.
It was the next day, while Bifur and Jael were practicing the signs for a few of the more common words that would be used every day, that Bilbo looked up at the nearing mountain and asked solemnly, "Is that THE Mountain?"
It was clear that he was in awe of the mountain, most likely because he'd never seen anything that large before.
Balin shook his head, "Of course not! That is only the beginning of the Misty Mountains. We have to get through, or over, or under them somehow, before we can get into the Wilderland beyond. And it is much farther than that to get to the Lonely Mountain in the east where Smaug lies on our treasure."
Both Bilbo, who had never gone this far in his life, and Jael, who had gone farther than this-but never on a freakin' horse!-felt more tired than they had ever felt before. Bilbo thought longingly of his comfy armchair and a roaring fire, while Jael wished more than anything that she could be sitting in front of her TV with the air conditioning blasting and background music playing quietly.
She sighed. This was gonna be a ridiculously long time without AC or TV or WIFI. Honestly, that was what she was going to miss the most.
Bifur seemed to notice her deflating mood and asked her something. Jael stared at him in disbelief and then groaned, "That's not fair~! How are you better at learning this than I am?"
She took out the book, asking him to repeat his signs. After a few seconds, she realized that he was asking if she were willing to tell a story from her world to pass the time.
She signed that yes, she did, continuing, "But there's no way I'll be able to sign it. Is that okay?"
He told her that that was fine, and she pondered for a second before finally deciding to tell the story of the Sword in the Stone. It seemed fitting because Merlin and Gandalf had about the same level of tolerance for stupidity.
"In a kingdom, there ruled a king. Knowing that his son would not be safe if he were to keep him, he gave him to a wizard whose name was Merlin. Merlin took the child, whose name was Arthur, and gave him to a knight. The knight did not know that Arthur was the son of the king. He thought that he was his own...indiscretion.
"The king soon grew ill and died. But he died leaving no heir. Fighting broke the kingdom as men destroyed the land in their desire to rule it. Tired of the destruction, the lords asked Merlin to bring forth a solution to the fighting. Knowing that Arthur was too young to be king, he placed a sword in a stone and engraved upon the rock this legend, 'Whoso pulleth out this sword from this stone, is rightwise King born of all England.'
"Many knights, lords, and earls tried to pull the sword from the stone, but even the strongest among them could not budge the sword from its place. Eventually, the sword was forgotten, and England fell into greater dissension. But Arthur was growing, and Merlin introduced himself to the young man.
"They became friends, and Merlin began to tutor the young man in the subjects that he was never taught as his adopted family were ashamed of him. Merlin showed Arthur that brute force was not always the answer, which was an appropriate lesson since Arthur was a thin young man that could barely lift a sword.
"But Merlin could see in him the strength and wisdom that would make a great king. He trained him for years before he felt that the young man was ready. When Arthur was just fifteen, he brought the young man to the sword in the stone. A crowd, already assembled, watched as Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. Arthur was crowned King, and ruled for many years. He was the wisest and the best King that England had."
She looked up to see that all of them had been listening to her story. Oh, bloody marathons. You've got to be kidding me. They all heard?! Blast it! Well, at least I didn't tell them the Disney version. That would have gone over well with Thorin, I'm sure.
But she didn't have long to freak out before Kili, Fili, and Ori exploded with praise and questions. Well, the questions were all Ori. He hadn't managed to write the story down, but he had noticed that the kingdom had the same name as the place she'd said that she lived.
While she answered the questions, and promised that she would tell more stories, Thorin stared at her with eyes that weren't quite judgmental, but not quite approving either.
Feeling childish, she stuck her tongue out at him, and laughed at his affronted look. Oh well, that could have gone worse. At least, he hasn't started yelling yet.
So, I have no idea where this chapter went. It kinda got away from me. Oh, well. Whatever. At least there is one. Sorry if it's garbage.