DISCLAIMER: SEE EARLIER CHAPTAHS. DANKE.
Please Comment & Review! Your comments really make my day! ;)
I do believe I am behaving dreadfully towards poor Thorin. xP
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When Bilbo finally came to, the first thing he became aware of was the cold. He could only guess that the lower level he had fallen to, and the time lost were responsible for the drop in temperature. Then it hit him. The lost time?! How long had he been here? Where was here?
Blinking, the Hobbit could see nothing in the pitch dark. He blinked again. Still nothing.
Slowly and cautiously, Mr. Baggins rose to a standing position, turning his head attempting to catch any light that might be in the darkness. If Bilbo had been hoping for his luck to keep up this time, he would be disappointed. For there was no light to be seen.
Blindly groping before him, the Hobbit felt what seemed to be a cane. Rising from who knows where and crawling up to the same. Bilbo grasped it and attempted to give it a good shake. It was quite firm, and despite the Hobbit's efforts would not yield. Running his hand downwards the Hobbit felt something that was twisted and had many harsh hairs. A Rope most likely. It was quite old, but still strong.
As he pulled his hand back, he felt the tap of another hard and long object. Reaching back he felt it. Another cane? Bilbo attempted to find it's top, but gave up as it reached far over his head. Furrowing his brow in thought the Hobbit brought his hand next to the structure only to find another.
"Hello?" he said, "What's this?"
Feeling to it's right he found yet another, and another, and another. Until he was fairly certain he had gone about in a circle.
"Drat!" the hobbit exclaimed. Was that it? A prison or cage of some sort? If that was the case, then how had he managed to fall into it? And more importantly, how was he going to manage getting out of it?
Somehow Bilbo had the nasty feeling that he had been out for hours. Although luckily for him he had not suffered more than a few bruises from the fall, he had been knocked cold and there was no exact way to measure how long he had remained thus. Thorin was sure to have woken up by now, and Bilbo could just see the frown on the Dwarf's features at finding his burglar missing. The stubborn fellow would of course go looking for him, but how would he find the Hobbit down here? Even if the Dwarf had months to go about it he could look all around and never even once come near the Hobbit. Or worse, if there were more of these traps around Thorin could just as easily find himself in the same sticky situation. A miserable end to their efforts indeed.
Was this how it was all to end? Everything he had been through, had it all been for nothing? Was he to die here, alone and in the dark? Bilbo allowed himself to sink dejectedly to the floor. He could see no way out from this sightless prison. There was no chance of being found.
His thoughts went back to the Dwarf, and of what had passed earlier. It was one of those uncomfortable moments in which Bilbo realized that Thorin would very likely come looking for him, regardless of his earlier argument with the Halfling. Bilbo then found himself wishing that if indeed this was the end, that he might at least be able to say goodbye to the company. He saw their faces, one by one, drifting by. In these past weeks they had become much more than his employers, they had become friends.
The Hobbit pulled his knees up, resting his chin upon them despondently, and for perhaps the first time on the quest utterly despaired. Lost, alone, and trapped, he knew there was no way out. This was surely the end.
Back in the storeroom, Thorin still slept fitfully. Shivering one moment, and burning the next. He tossed this way and that, attempting to find relief but failing miserably. The torch had burned low once more, its flame peaking shyly over the metal lip. It seemed to wave itself about even more frantically before, as if trying to gain any passerby's attention to it's plight.
The Hobbit had been gone for just under two hours, but Thorin in his misery had been oblivious to it. Had he known, he would have given an order for the Hobbit to remain. He did not wish for the incident by the stream to repeats itself. But it is debatable whether or not Bilbo would have listened.
With a soft puff of smoke, the torch suddenly burned itself out, leaving the room in darkness. Thorin's eyes snapped open, adjusting themselves quickly to the lack of light. Perhaps the Hobbit would be so good as to replace it. The Prince of Erebor was feeling unwell, and had little desire to rise at the moment.
"Bilbo?" he began.
There was however no answer save for the gentle echo of his own voice bouncing along the walls and returning to their master. By Durin's beard! Had the Halfling fallen asleep during his watch? Most likely. He was a Hobbit after all. Frowning the Dwarf tried in a louder voice.
Still no answer. Odd. Very odd. Bilbo was by no means a heavy sleeper, and mere footsteps would awaken him on any occasion. Why did he not answer?
With a start Thorin pulled himself up, immediately regretting the swift action as his side and stomach protested, quite strongly. With a loud gasp he clutched his side as it reawakened with shockwaves running through him. Drawing in heavy lungfuls of breath, he waited as his body accepted the change in position, as the pain died down into a dull throb.
"Bilbo!" he grunted out, "Where-where are you?!"
Using the wall as support, he pulled himself forcibly to a standing position. The dull throb's embers leaping into a burning fire. Stifling his groans, he forced himself to remain concentrated. His eyes scanning the darkness for any suspicious hobbit shaped forms. Finding nothing, he pulled himself with some difficulty to a torch. Taking out a small knife and stone, he struck them against one another, sending crackling sparks onto the dry torch. Within a few moments, the flame had leapt up from it, rejoicing to be gracing the halls once more.
Lifting it as high as his damaged body allowed, he cast its light over the room, sending the shadows fleeing into the deep cracks. Everything was still there, minus one Hobbit.
"Valar's light no!" he cried out, followed by a great string of violent oaths.
Where had the Burglar run off to now? Did he not know these caves were full of dangers that he would be unable to detect?
"You will be the death of me Burglar!" He shouted despairingly to no one in particular. He really could not take much more of this. This was bordering on ridiculous. It seemed that every time he blinked the Hobbit was somewhere in trouble, and he was suffering for it. The Dwarf had always believed himself to have a good amount of luck, but any belief of this was shattered now. Surely he was most unlucky in all of Middle Earth.
He closed his eyes, praying that his strength might hold out a while longer. If Thorin had had any suspicions earlier as to his ailment, they were only confirmed by this sudden turn his health had taken. He had been poisoned. It was the only explanation. Orc blades are often kept in this manner, so that even a minor scratch can be fatal if not attended to. Thorin was no healer, and he doubted Mr. Baggins had any experience in these matters. There was nothing that could really be done. He could only hope that he could last long enough to reach the company. He must last. He would not give in. No, not while there was breath in his body.
Bilbo's disappearance was only another delay. The longer they delayed, the less chance of reaching the company, and ultimately the less chance of surviving this ordeal. This was most definitely the worst situation he could hope to find himself in. He had to remain strong, and force himself to reach their goal. But first, he must find the Hobbit. Odd, how Bilbo seemed to misplace everything, including himself. Blast the wretched Halfling!
Holding on to the cool cavern walls for support with one hand, and clutching his churning stomach with the other, the Dwarf pulled his heavy limbs and stumbled out into the ancient halls.
Gandalf frowned. Still no sign of Mr. Baggins.
Fili and Kili had searched quite hard for much of the afternoon, as if to prove to the wizard their uncle would never commit the crime Gandalf suspected. Of the Halfling however, nothing could be found, and so Fili and Kili's claims could not be proved. This did nothing to improve their morale, and it seemed as if a dark cloud hung over them, as the three frowned in deep thought.
The sun was shining brightly, with birds singing joyfully within its rays. Deer playfully sprang with ease from the travelers, looking back and seeming to taunt them to a game of tag. Their eyes twinkling as if they knew the wizard and Dwarves would never keep up. The entire world seemed cheerful, but the wizard and his companions were silent with glum looks.
Even the usual chatter of Fili and Kili had remained silent for the last few hours, which the wizard counted as a miracle. Although none spoke, they all could feel one another's despairing thoughts. It looked quite certain that either Bilbo had been captured, or that Thorin had left him behind. Something that Fili and Kili absolutely refused to belief, still clinging loyally to their Uncle's good character.
"You don't suppose..." Kili started, whispering to Fili hoping that the wizard would not hear.
"No. Don't even start. We both know he would never. Ever." Fili answered, looking as sure as possible if only to convince his younger brother.
"Yes. We won't return without finding both of them." Kili said out loud, as if trying to convince himself as well.
"That, my dear Kili, is at the moment highly debatable. I doubt we shall find either before long." The grey clad wizard suddenly put in.
The Dwarves looked surprised, with Fili's eyes growing wide. (Only a little he would claim.)
"Did he..." he whispered to Kili, "Did he hear us?"
Kili shrugged in answer. Wizards were strange creatures, and in all truth he had not the slightest idea. But after the things they had been through in the last few tricks, he was willing to believe that anything was possible.
"Mr. Gandalf!" Kili started.
"What now Kili?" Gandalf said, looking heavenwards as if asking for patience. Dwarves were by far much more annoying than Hobbits. In the future, he promised himself to have as little to do with them as possible.
"You're a great and powerful wizard sir, or so I've heard say." Kili said, as Gandalf turned sharply and narrowed his eyes, guessing where this was leading. Raising an eyebrow expectantly, he gave his best discouraging look he could muster. Kili however, was little affected by it.
"Well, I was wondering...Why not just use some powerful spell to find Uncle and Bilbo?" Kili asked with innocent eyes.
Fili looked as if he was weighing his brother's statement, and then coming to some conclusion of his own nodded his head. As if he found himself agreeing completely.
"My dear Kili," the wizard replied in an annoyed tone, "Spells are to be used only as a last resort, and even if I were so inclined to use one, there are not spells for every hour of the day and every situation you all get yourselves into!"
Although the wizard would not admit it, he had not the faintest idea how to go about making a spell of that kind. He had a reputation to keep up, and his statement was true. Hopefully the Dwarves would let it go at that. He could not help but glance back as he heard them whispering.
"You believe him?" came Kili.
"Hmm. Sounds reasonable. I suppose." Fili stroked his beard attempting to look quite thoughtful.
"It must be terrible to be a wizard. Have to obey so many rules you know." Kili mused. He knew for certain that he would never want to be a wizard. Let others have that, he was happy as he was.
Both Dwarves nodded in unison, looking as if they were half in awe half sorry for Gandalf in his position as wizard. They had come to a very scholarly and wise conclusion, or so they thought.
Gandalf however growled under his breath. "You have no clue..."