Thorin made sure the fire in the fireplace was blazing before settling down in his chair. Darkness had fallen and still Gandalf and Radagast hadn't returned. He was beginning to become disheartened when he heard the pattering sound of many approaching feet. The wizards pulled up on Radagast's sledge pulled by large hares. Moments later, they came inside.

"I see you had company while we were away," Radagast told the eldest heir of Durin solemnly. "And you dispatched it. Well done. I shall study the corpse." He nodded enthusiastically, tossing what appeared to be one of Rachne's fangs on the dining table.

"Ah good! Dinner!" Gandalf stirred the pot over the fire. "I'm famished."

The threesome settled down at the table. Gandalf began to explain that the darkness falling over the woods seemed to be emanating in the ruins, Dol Guldur, that the wizards had visited that day. Long thought abandoned, Dol Guldur was now the home of something sinister. He claimed they encountered what could only be described as a necromancer while they were there. Not only that, but a spirit had attacked them, wielding a sword, a relic of Mordor, that had been buried deep with in the earth with its odious owner—never intended to see the light of day again.

"It belonged to the Witch-king of Angmar," Radagast told Thorin. "Chief of the Nazgûl. He has returned to haunt Middle Earth once more."

"What does this mean for us?" Thorin wondered. The mere presence of the weapon made him nervous, and he rolled it back up in the thick cloth.

"It means dark times are ahead for all of us," Gandalf nodded. "Dark times indeed."

"If I were you, I'd leave as soon as possible," Radagast insisted. "You've been lovely company, but something tells me your journey will be plagued by darkness if you tarry."

"If my nephews are well enough to travel, we'll leave tomorrow," Thorin assured the wizards. He settled back down in his chair next to the bed the brothers shared. He was trying to think of the best way to tell the rest of his compatriots about the dangers lurking in Don Guldur when he drifted off to sleep.

He was awakened in the morning by a tap-tap-tapping sound.

"Ugh," Fili moaned from under the covers, "my head! What is that infernal noise?"

Kili sat next to him eating a bowl of mush. "Radagast's making something in his study," he told Fili. "Let's take a peek under that bandage, brother," he reached for the cloth wrapped around the crown of Fili's head.

"I'll do it," Thorin insisted. "Finish your breakfast, Kili."

"It's a beautiful day, Uncle," Kili smiled around his spoon. "A good day to travel," his eyes met Thorin's.

"I think so too," Thorin agreed, fingers examining the healing wound on the back of Fili's head. "Let's see if your brother agrees with us." He pressed around the edges of the injury and Fili hissed.

"Easy!" Fili warned, wincing. "Yes," he said. "I could fancy a walk."

Fili looked around Radagast's home. Gandalf was poring over a map at the dining table. Sun streamed in the windows. "I'm assuming since you're both alive that the spider… is gone?" he asked hopefully.

"Gone indeed!" Radagast entered the room. "Seems we have a spider slayer in our midst!" he said proudly. He approached Kili and presented him with his creation. He'd used an awl to make a hole in the thick end of Rachne's fang, then run a thick leather cord through it, fashioning a necklace. "From now on, he shall be known as Kili Spiderbane!" he lowered the trophy over Kili's head. It lay heavily next to his heart.

Kili blushed, "I-I didn't do anything the rest of you wouldn't have tried," he said quietly.

"Ah, but you succeeded, dwarf," Gandalf informed him.

Fili squeezed his brother's hand, "It suits you," he told him, reaching for the fang.

"Oy!" Kili playfully slapped the hand away. "Earn your own!'

Fili smiled and brought his hands to his own heart as if wounded. "So it begins. His head's already swelling!"

After breakfast, the travelers were given the opportunity to bathe and wash some of their clothing in the stream running behind Radagast's home.

"Much, much better," Kili sighed, slipping into his improved, clean, sun-dried jerkin.

Thorin secured a fresh bandage around Fili's head and had to fight away hands trying to preen. "Worry about your braids tomorrow, nephew," he told him. "You aren't done healing."

"But you never know who you might meet on the road, uncle," Fili smiled impishly.

"That's what concerns me," Thorin said darkly, mussing the blonde's hair.

"Are you sure you don't want to come along with us, Radagast?" Gandalf asked his fellow wizard, hoisting his satchel and staff.

"My place is here, friend," Radagast said gently, embracing the taller man. "Who else will protect these woods?"

"Thank you for your hospitality, Radagast," Kili thanked the wizard. "You saved my life," he said solemnly.

"We'd like you to have this," Fili produced a metal clip from within his dagger sheath. "It's a hair clip. Fine dwarf craftsmanship," he smiled. "The gold will look very becoming in your beard."

"So it will, my young friend," Radagast agreed. "So it will." He waved as the wizard and the brothers departed up the path.

When he finally had Thorin alone, Radagast placed a hand on his arm. "The road is long that lies ahead of you, Thorin Oakenshield," he told him. "And I cannot promise you it will be free of danger."

Thorin nodded. "All our fates will be decided when we reach Erebor," he agreed.

"I shall follow you at a distance until you reunite with the rest of your party," Radagast assured him. "And something tells me you haven't seen the last of those spiders."

He clapped the dwarf on his shoulder. Thorin gave him a smile of appreciation and followed his nephews and Gandalf into the woods.

The wizard sighed deeply and watched them depart. "Sadly, I think that I may be seeing the last of you, your highness."