All works belong to J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson/ New Line Cinema I make no profit
I stared at the message that had been left in the hands of the innkeeper of the Prancing Pony. Though from a trusted friend, it did not sit well with me. No, I was conflicted. I was bound for home earlier, or at least my temporary one in Imladris, to my sister, who I had left there. But I doubted I would return now, for the note read:
There has been an unexpected occurrence, as I ran into a person of interest in the very inn where you stand. This chance meeting has set many things in motion that you will not wish to miss, though such things are unsafe to discuss here. But, I require your skills.
Yes. All it took was the promise of something interesting and my thoughts of home were stolen and replaced by the temptation of adventure left by that pointy-hatted bastard. A date and a hint of an address were left on the page. The shire, I thought, what an unlikely place for an adventure. And my mind was made. One good night's rest, and in the morning I would ride. I looked around the room, happy I had not gotten comfortable. I stripped then, black clothes gave way to pale skin and curves, black hair fell loose and my icy grey eyes twinkled and grew worried at the same time.
I found the hobbit hole with little trouble. The shire had always been one of my favorite places, with the hills rolling like peaceful waves. It looked like a considerable place to retire, though hobbits were folk of caution and I had doubts I would be welcome.
I knocked once, loudly, for I could hear the commotion inside. A small hobbit opened the door, the frown on his face sinking deeper. Gandalf came up behind him and smiled. "Ah, Branwen, I am glad you're here. Mr. Baggins, may I introduce Branwen Winterfire. Branwen, this is Bilbo."
I smiled slightly and bowed, before Gandalf rushed me off to the dining area, where 12 dwarves sat eating, though from the state of the floor, not much must have made it into their mouths. No wonder the poor hobbit was in a state. Yet, there was a merry feel in the air as I entered the room. Being the only female there, I was met by some stares. Gandalf quickly introduced me to the company as his friend and the dwarves went back to eating, though I caught their stares when they thought I wasn't looking. I stood beside Gandalf, expectantly.
"Are you going to tell me why you called me to a hobbit hole filled with dwarves before I could even return from my last... expedition?" I tilt my head to the side and look at my old friend.
"In time, Branwen, in time." He responds, a signature all-knowing glint in his eyes.
"Time is something I do not have… I left Rivendell over two years ago without a word to my sister, not even a note. I will be in enough trouble as it is, without you delaying me at what now seems to be a dinner party." My head still curiously tilted, expression serious.
"You know I would not have called you here if it was not a matter of importance. Is it not that knowledge and your own curiosity that brought you here in the first place? Now enough of your questioning", Gandalf whispered, then dragged me to a seat beside his at the table. The dwarves were silently gulping back ale now, before letting out huge belches and continuing to eat. I watched, amused.
"Eat," Gandalf said, "For it will be a long while before you do so well again."
And I did eat, and I drank, and I made merry. Dwarves were always excellent company, particularly for drinking. Yet, I remained bothered by the fact that I was the only one at the table who did not know what the hell we were about to get into. I was surprised the dwarves offered me few questions; Gandalf's referring to me as his friend must have been enough to silence them, at least vocally, for their eyes spoke for themselves. Still, besides this slight annoyance of questioning looks and my own lack of information, it was one of the better evenings I had had recently.
Once the meal was done the dwarves began tossing about the plates, with Bilbo shouting something about his mother and over a hundred years old, when the dwarves burst into song:
Blunt the knives, bend the forks
Smash the bottles and burn the corks
Chip the glasses and crack the plates
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
Cut the cloth, tread on the fat
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat
Pour the milk on the pantry floor
Splash the wine on every door!
Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl
Pound them up with a thumping pole
When you're finished if they are whole
Send them down the hall to roll!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
The song ended with laughter as Bilbo's panicked face spread into a smile upon seeing the present state of his delicate silverware. The dwarves had perfectly stacked them into neat towers. The laughter died with a knock at the door.
"He is here." Was all Gandalf said, before disappeared to the door, quick as a cat, me and the rest of the company trailing behind. The door opened to reveal a regal looking dwarf in royal blue. His blue-grey eyes looked up.
"Gandalf," he said, "I thought you said this place would not be difficult to find. I got lost, twice. I would not have found it at all if it was not for the mark on the door." I smirked at this, amused.
"There is not a single mark on that door. It was painted last week." Bilbo stated, a little anger in his voice.
"Actually there is. I put it there myself." Gandalf replied looking down at the hobbit. "Bilbo, allow me to introduce the leader of our company, Thorin Oakenshield." And it all made sense then. Gandalf was planning to help the heir of Durin take back Erebor.