I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I went to comic con three weeks ago and met Gimli, then it was my friend's 18th birthday and then I went to see Fall Out Boy. Between that, coursework and my new fan-fiction project (see the end of the chapter) I've had no time at all!

"Belira, are you alright?" Aire reached out a tentative hand, resting it lightly on the dwarrow woman's shoulder.

Belira shook her head, paused then nodded.

Aire frowned. "Belira, do not lie to me."

The cheering crowd drowned out Aire's words, but her expression spoke volumes. Belira looked downcast as she glanced towards the door. Aire took the hint and gently led her from the room and back towards the Gallery of the Kings. There were only a handful of dwarves left in the Gallery, talking amongst themselves and laughing merrily. They looked up and fell silent as the two women entered.

Though Aire was not yet queen and not a true dwarf, she was still a high-ranking member of their society and someone who had helped evict the dragon from Erebor.
"Why don't you go and enjoy the sparring?" Though it seemed a friendly suggestion Aire's tone left no room for argument. It appeared Thorin was rubbing off on her.
The dwarves in the room glanced at each other before grouping together and shuffling towards the Arena. Aire led Belira to the corner of the room, careful to keep both doors in her line of sight. "Belira, what's the matter?"

"I-it's nothing." Belira muttered, wringing her hands in front of her and keeping her eyes fixed on the floor.

"It's obviously something. If there was nothing wrong then we wouldn't be standing here having this conversation."

Belira bit her lip. "You probably don't want to know."

Aire arched her eyebrow. "It is something to do with your father?"

Belira's eyes flicked up before she nodded. "I worry for him. I know he has said some wrong things, but he is my father nonetheless. He is the only family I have left, no matter what he's done."

Aire sighed. "What is wrong with him? Maybe I can… help?"

Belira laughed, though it was a hollow and sad sound. "My father was cruel and vicious to you when we first met, but now you wish to help him."

"I wish to help you. And if that means helping your father then so be it."

"You'll make a good queen."

"Where'd Aire go?" Gloin threw himself into Dwalin's seat as the Captain of the guard left to 'attend to business'."To speak with Belira." Thorin responded tersely.

"What!" The red-headed dwarf leant forwards at such a speed that he almost toppled over Thorin's shoulder. "And yer let her go?!"

"She can look after herself." Though Thorin didn't lift his eyes from the sparring, the taught muscles in his shoulders stated his mind was somewhere else.
"That would be where Dwalin has gone."

Thorin nodded and Gloin leaned back, satisfied that Dwalin was taking care of the issue.

"She'll chew your ear off when she realizes you sent Dwalin to follow her." Dis made it sound as though she was commenting on the weather, not the future well-being of her brother.

"We cannot trust Lingus. Who is to say that we can trust his daughter?"

"Wasn't she the one who suggested the terms of your contract?"

Thorin nodded. "That does not mean she wished for it to be fulfilled."

"Is there anyone in this mountain outside of the company and your family that you trust?"

In truth there wasn't. Thorin didn't even trust his own council, so many of who had deemed the quest foolish. Thorin certainly didn't trust Dain who only came to his aid when it suited him. Thorin didn't doubt that Dain would quite like to see himself upon the throne of Erebor. 'Lord' was an envious title but King... that was more desirable to some than all the gold in Erebor. Of course, the lure of precious gems, gold and the king's jewel (at least what remained of it), was a strong lure to everyone, regardless of their race.

Thorin's paranoia would pay off eventually, he was sure of it. The culprits of the stairwell explosion still had to be found and Thorin was certain that if he let his guard down around Lingus then something would go horribly wrong.

"Smile, will you?" Dis huffed, rising to her feet. She pushed Tharin into Thorin's arms, the young boy gurgling happily.

Thorin neither looked up nor rearranged his facial expression. "Where are you going?"

Dis snorted. "You truly aren't paying attention, brother. Mimali and I are to fight soon."

"Good luck."

"Say it like you mean it."

Thorin prepared himself to repeat the statement but Dis had already departed, the red-headed wife of Gloin close behind.

Thorin's eyes followed them to the edge of the arena before a hand on his shoulder drew his attention elsewhere. "You're back." He stated as his eyes fell upon Aire.
Aire smiled, returning to her seat and opening her arms for her son.

"It everything alright?"

"For now, though it may be something for us to discuss at another time. Are Dis and Mimali preparing?"

Thorin nodded. "Once they're finished it'll be the female's doubles then lunch."

"Ah, lunch!" Bombur boomed from behind the royal family. His face split into a wide grin, his hands patting his rotund stomach in anticipation. "A fine meal, but one that will hardly compare to tonight's feast!"

"Let's hope you fight well then, so that you burn off the buffet and have room for this evening!" Bofur chuckled, moustache twitching up and down in amusement.
"If he's still sober!" Gloin laughed, slapping Bombur on the back.

Bifur made an sound of disapproval and shook his head. He hit his mouth with his fist, said something in his harsh tongue and pointed to Gloin.
"Aye, he's right!" Bofur smirked. "You're far more likely to fall victim to drink than Bombur!"

A chorus of cheers and applause drowned out Bombur's reply. Aire turned to face the arena in time to see Mimali and Dis take up stances opposite one another.
"Twenty silver pieces on Dis." Dwalin muttered to Gloin who smirked.

"Thirty and you're on."

Okay, so this project of mine is a hobbit 'Decide Your Own Destiny'. It's already incredibly complex and I've only got the opening sorted. You get to choose your species (Hobbit, Human or Dwarf) and there will be three separate endings that you ultimately decide on. Depending on the ending depends on who dies. Would people be interested in such a thing?