Disclaimer: I do not own the Hobbit, or any of the associated characters. All credit goes to the wonderful JRR Tolkien.

Summary: Thranduil came riding to the aid of the Lonely Mountain, but ultimately turned back. Why?

A/N: This chapter is dedicated to my twin, who died on December 26, 2005. Rest In Peace, Sally.


Ever have I distrusted the Naugrim, since they murdered an elven lord to steal his Silmaril. I am proud, I will not deny that, but Dwarves are arrogant in showing off their wealth and skill, no matter how well-deserved.

Even when we sent ambassadors and trading parties, bearing gifts of goodwill, they called it tribute, demanding more each time we visited to trade or commission services.

Their lust for riches was and is too great, and now it has attracted the Great Worm, the dragon, Smaug, whose love of gold and treasure is greater even than Thror's, and who cares not who he incinerates to get it.

From our Hall, I saw Dale and Laketown burning, and rode to their aid, leaving a company of my warriors behind to aid the Men, to give what help they could. The rest of us rode to Erebor, to the Lonely Mountain.

We arrived too late.

The mountain hall was in flames, Dwarves scattered in panic, fleeing in droves, heedless of those of their kin that could not escape, and lay dead or dying as the Dragon raged.

If they had been still fighting against Smaug, we would have gone to their aid, worked together to bring the dragon down.

But the Lonely Mountain was laid waste, and I would not risk the lives of my people in a battle already lost. The Dwarves are escaping with their lives, which is more than they will have if they try to make a stand.

In three thousand years, I have seen enough of war. My own father was slain in the war against Sauron the Deceiver, and I hold no ring of power like that which keep Lothlorien and Imladris hidden from danger. I know that Renown and Glory are what most warriors hope for, but they belong in songs and sagas, and the most important thing is to bring your warriors home alive.

Let the Dwarves wait, and re-group. Let Smaug grow overconfident and impatient. Let the men of Dale recover their strength. Let us get through the next winter, and re-plant the fields that Smaug burned to cinders.

The Dwarves are too proud to let this pass. They will be back, even if it takes years. Thror will not suffer the indignity of seeing a dragon claim his great horde for its own.

The Dwarves will return, hopefully with a plan that does not involve a suicide charge into a flaming death.

When this happens, I will insist that they promise reparations for the people of Dale, whose kin were slain and whose homes were destroyed when Smaug came for Thror's horde.

I will not risk my people in a hopeless fight that we cannot win, but with planning and preparation, Smaug will die, and the Dwarves reclaim their home.

On that day, I will go to their aid.

I knew that the Dwarves would one day return to take back the Lonely Mountain, but Dwarves pass through Laketown to trade on a regular basis, without mentioning such a quest.

We live under the shadow of the Necromancer, fighting a rear-guard action against the encroaching darkness. I have not kept my people alive this long by being incautious.

Some may say paranoid and unfair, but when a party of strange dwarves thrice charges into the middle of our feast, waving weapons, and then refuses to say who they are and what business brings them hence, I would be a poor king if I let them go before I gained answers.

Naugrim had proved themselves to be a treacherous race before, and the spies of the enemy are many and varied.

I supported Bard's demand for a share of the treasure, for he would need to re-build Laketown, and they had given great aid to the Dwarves when they escaped from my cellars. If I received a share or not mattered little to me, though I would not turn it down as recompense, for the awakening of Smaug put all of us in danger.

But curse the stubborn-ness of Dwarves would cause them to refuse any aid in turn, no matter that the Lakemen had done all that they could to aid the party on their way.

I will go to the aid of the Lakemen, and, if they should be of a mind to shelve their pride to help their neighbours, to the aid of the Dwarves. They will need to re-build, and need supplies until they can begin to grow or trade for their own.

Besides, Thorin Oakenshield has made many enemies, not the least of whom is Azog, who put not only a pretty penny, but a very handsome dollar on his head. Now that Thorin is fixed in a known location, the Orcs who hunt him will come, and it will not be only the Dwarves who suffer. When word spreads of Smaug's death… well, the threat of a dragon has deterred any treasure-seekers until now, but Dragons are not the only ones tempted by treasure.

Whether we face battle with Dwarves or with those who come to kill them, my people will be ready for war.





A/N: A lot of people paint Thranduil as evil and greedy because he imprisoned Thorin and Co. and demanded a share of the treasure. I disagree, and I wanted to explore his reasons.

We actually know very little about Thranduil, but he wouldn't have managed to hold Mirkwood against constant attacks by Sauron's forces if he was stupid or over-trusting, and like it or not, Thorin and his company were indirectly responsible for the destruction of Laketown, who had only ever treated them with hospitality, and the Dwarves refused to help them in return.

Anyway, that's just my opinion, and I welcome any arguments to the contrary.