In a small field half a day's walk from the southern edge of Mirkwood there was a small cottage. In the cottage lived a young woman who passed her time singing and cooking over her fire when she wasn't busy as a maid. The woman was called Airelotwen Sandhelm or simply Aire, to those few people who knew her. Airelotwen had the appearance of an elven child, but this was not entirely true. She was elven in blood yet she was also dwarvish, accounting for her height. Or lack of it. At 4"9 she was about the height of an eight year old human. Her mother, Ascacairiel, had caused uproar when she had married Tolman Sandhelm, a dwarvish metal smith. One event had led to another and the couple had had to leave Rivendell.
Between that and Smaug's attack on Tolman's home of Erebor, Aire had no real home. She was more than content to live in her cottage in the field, with no cares and worries. However, this was not to be forever.
One of the few people who knew of her existence was the wizard, Radagast the Brown. He required her help once every other Thursday morning. Radagast was barely at home yet he allowed her to order his books and cook the meals he did not have time to prepare himself. Aire had been visiting the wizard's house for the past four decades at the least and in that time she'd grown to love the animals that lived with him. In particular, she was rather fond of the hedgehogs. Sebastian was her favourite by far, not that she showed this very often as the other hedgehogs got quite jealous.
It was on such a morning that she was re-organising the books on the shelves for Radagast when her life took a different turn. The birds had not been singing and the mice and hedgehogs were being quiet. The only usual creature that was not accounted for was Sebastian. Aire hoped that no harm had befallen him and that he was merely out with the wizard.
However her fears came to light when the wizard burst through the door of his home, panicking and in a fret. In his hand he grasped the small hedgehog which was twitching ever so slightly and squeaking in pain. Radagast placed the small mammal on his table and began to frantically search for something among his many bottles and instruments. The other hedgehogs moved to see their brother but this did nothing other than distress him. "Give him some room!" Radagast squeaked, waving them away as he tried to get the small creature to swallow something. It did not work and Radagast became more frantic as the second solution failed too. "My pipes!" He fretted, turning in circles as he looked for the instrument he needed. Aire handed them to him but it did no good. All they could do was watch as Sebastian twitched and became limp where he lay. "Oh no!" The wizards face crumpled and Aire's heart pulled. Though she was over ninety years old, she did not take kindly to an animal dying.
Neither he nor Aire could grieve long as a shadow blocked the light from the window. A large, eight legged shadow which was soon joined by others. Aire did not hesitate as she ran to block the door, a moment before it shuddered in its frame. "Airelotwen!" Radagast called as he scooped Sebastian's body into his hands. The pair sheltered in the back of the room, the mice making their appearance. Airelotwen hid her face as the overgrown spiders began to break through the straw roof she had not long repaired. Above her Radagast was speaking in his foreign tongue as black smoke poured from the mouth of their beloved hedgehog. It took only a few moments before the spiders were making a hasty retreat and Sebastian was squeaking in the arms of the wizard.
Airelotwen unblocked the door and cautiously stepped outside, Radagast not far behind. "What were they?" She whispered, terrified at what she had just witnessed.
"Not of this good Earth." Radagast's reply was quiet and full of fear and wonder. Airelotwen had barely noticed the small bird conversing with him until he took off into the woods.
"Don't leave me here!" She cried, hastily following him without being sure as to why. She followed him to his sleigh which was pulled by a dozen or so rhosgobel rabbits. She jumped onto the back as it began to move, holding tightly to the wizard's robes.
"What are you doing?" He asked over his shoulder, glancing down at her.
"I have no idea!" She realised all too late that it was a terrible mistake to have made, especially when the ruins of the abandoned fortress loomed up ahead. Pieces slid together in her mind and she realised that the Greenwood was falling under the spell of witchcraft. "I'm going to wait here." she said as the sled drew to a halt. Radagast made no acknowledgement as he slowly headed into the battlements, staff held in front of him. "Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! What have I gotten myself into?" She wondered aloud, sitting cross-legged on the wooden platform of the sleigh.
Aire was stat there in the silence for no longer than half an hour before the rabbits took off at Radagast's call. He was attempting to catch up with the sleigh, but he was just a little too slow. Airelotwen moved carefully to her feet and reached out a hand to the wizard, pulling him onto the sleigh. She ducked with a yelp when she saw what had been chasing him; large, angry bats. "Oh, very bad!" She cowered into the wood, one hand covering the back of her head as the other kept her on the moving platform.
A glance behind her a moment late revealed that the bats had disappeared, as had the familiar forest of Radagast's home. They raced past her small house but showed no sign of stopping. "Radagast, where are we going?"
"Far, far away!" he replied, glancing back over his shoulder. "Over the Misty Mountains!"
"Why?" Aire was suddenly weary. She had been born this side of the Misty Mountains and had never had to cross them before.
"We must find Gandalf!" Aire was familiar with Gandalf the Grey. He had visited shortly after her parent's had died and had been very kind to her.
The rhosgobel rabbits were fast, but the Misty Mountains were large. It would take over a day for them to reach the other side and Aire had nothing with her but her cloak, a small sword and the small bag she carried everywhere. However she was compelled to stay in the wizard's company. She was far safer there than in her home.
Radagast stopped the sled only twice so that the rabbits could rest and Aire could relieve herself. Other than that they travelled at full speed though a valley that wound across the Misty Mountains. How Radagast knew where he was going Aire did not know, but she did not question him.
She was tired when they entered another set of woodland and paid little notice to the passing trees and bushes. Her eyes widened when she focussed ahead and saw that the ground was about to drop out from underneath them .She held her breath as the sled flew over the rocky ridge and landed a few feet below on the grass.
Airelotwen shook her head to clear the pounding blood and, when she looked up, was greeted by the sight of a ring of various sharp objects pointing at her.
I probably have too many stories on the go at the moment, but I couldn't resist writing this! I'm in love with The Hobbit and Thorin is my favourite character of all of them! (Next to Kili) Constructive criticism is always welcome!