Hey guys, long time no see! (Please don't stone me to death). Wow, talk about waiting a long time for an update, huh? It would take me a very long time to explain to you all the different reasons why I've been putting this off, but basically I've been extremely busy, and when I've not been busy I haven't been in the mood to write, yada yada… Anyway, Chapter 10 (and the last part of DoS!) is here now, just in time for the premiere of BoFA! Hope you enjoy, and I'll see you after I'm done crying over the new film. It's a long one!
06:52. Morning. Finally, finally heading to the Mountain.
Everyone cheering. Decked out in rather fine new clothes and armour, courtesy of the menfolk. Feel worryingly good-tempered.
"You do know we're one short? Where's Bofur?" Bilbo is fretting again.
"If he's not here we leave him behind," I say.
Bilbo frowns at me.
"We'll have to, if we're to find the door before nightfall. We can risk no more delays!"
See? Balin agrees with me.
The people of Laketown are all out to see us off, peering from windows and crammed onto every balcony and dock in sight as we board our provided boat. Starting to feel like a proper royal. All I need now is some looney to go sending me disturbing letters and rooting through my rubbish. Then fantasy will be reality.
Kili tries to board boat. Shove arm in his way.
"Not you." Mahal, this won't go down well. "We need to travel with speed. You will slow us down."
He grins at me like we're having a bit of a joke. "What are you talking about, I'm coming with you!"
"No, you're not."
Continue putting weapons into boat. Must avoid eye contact.
…No use. Can feel his stare in back of my head, like particularly grief-stricken tickle of feather duster.
Turn to face him.
"I'm going to be there when that door is opened," he tells me surely, but there's the hint of a tremble in his bottom lip which reminds me of when he was younger, trying valiantly not to show how upset he was when he was being punished. Shockingly adorable and heart-breaking, like wet puppy. "When we look upon the halls of our fathers-"
"Kili," I interrupt him (why must I always be the arse of bad news?), "Stay here. Rest. Join us when you're healed."
Excuse me if I find the idea of sending my injured nephew into a dragon's lair to be nonsensical. And I'll be the Big Bad Uncle for it, too. No justice.
"I'll stay with the lad," Announces Oin. "My duty lies with the wounded."
Very good, Oin.
Unless the rest of us end up rolling around with third-degree burns, in which case someone with medical training might be nice to have on hand, but never mind.
Fili is trying to persuade me to stop being such an arsebasket. Kili is sat sulking off to the side, ignoring everyone whilst they prepare the boat.
"We grew up on tales of the Mountain – tales you told us! You cannot take that away from him."
Damn Fili and his reasonable powers of…reason. Gets that from his father. The bloke could have cut your throat whilst you slept and still manage to convince your ghost that it was somehow your fault for falling on his blade.
"I will carry him if I must!"
Horrific mental images of Fili giving Kili piggybacks quickly take form – Fili dropping Kili and waking the dragon, Fili losing his balance and waking the dragon, Kili pretending Fili is a horse and waking the dragon. He's a buffoon enough to do it.
No. Kili will stay in Laketown, where he can't get us all barbecued and jeopardise my gold. It won't spend itself.
"One day you will be king and you will understand. I cannot risk this quest for the sake of one dwarf. Not even my own kin."
Fili gives me filthy look and strides past me.
"Fili!" Grab his arm. "Don't be a fool. You belong with the Company."
There's that filthy look again. "I belong with my brother." He shrugs me off and marches over to Kili's side.
Not sure whether to praise his heart-warming loyalty or go smack the attitude out of him.
07:21. Boat pulling away.
Everyone cheering. Master making dreadful farewell speech. Fili and Kili sitting on docks giving me the hairy eyeball.
Can't be all wine and roses, I suppose.
07:22. They'll get over it as soon as I'm filthy stinking rich again. Before you know it it'll be, 'Why, Uncle, you know how much we love you and never meant to give you all that attitude…so can we have solid gold statues of ourselves erected in the throne room please?'
Nasty little bleeders.
07:46. Bilbo is wearing a frankly horrendous steel helmet with thick fuzzy trim around the edge.
He looks ravishing.
08:25. As we cross the lake, can't stop staring at Mountain.
Realize Bilbo is giving me worried looks and try to arrange face into something less emotionally-vulnerable.
11:16. Uphill walking.
Rocks everywhere, including in my shoe.
11:17. God, but I hate rocks.
13:29. Keep confusing myself when turning to check on the nephews out of habit - see what they shouldn't be doing now – but they aren't there.
It's actually peaceful and relatively quiet.
Don't like it.
15:34. When Dale comes into view – rising over the crest of a yonder hill – am so overcome have to take a moment.
Bilbo is eyeing me sideways again. "What is this place?" he asks.
"It was once the city of Dale," Balin butts in. "Now it is a ruin. The desolation of Smaug."
I don't know…maybe a lick of paint, some throw pillows…
I announce, "The sun will soon reach midday. We must find the hidden door into the mountain before the sun sets."
Bilbo is looking worried again. Graze his back with my fingers as I pass him by, and he jumps. Hurry away and act innocent.
"Wait!" He cries.
Bugger. Did he catch me out? Am not a creeper, dammit, I just-
"Is this the Overlook?" He questions me. "Gandalf said to meet him here; on no account were we to-"
"Do you see him?" I growl perhaps more bluntly than he really deserves. "We have no time to wait upon the wizard. We're on our own. "
But Mahal above, it's always 'Gandalf this', and 'Gandalf that'. If he likes crusty old wizards so much why doesn't he just marry him? And they'll have a stupid wedding, and I'll go just to tell them how stupid it is, and I'll eat three slices of cake just so there's not enough for everyone else, and then I'll be sick all over Gandalf's shoes and leave. And then they'll have stupid wizard-hobbit children and they'll be horrible little criminal masterminds just like the old fart, and Bilbo will start drinking because no one appreciates him, and he'll come running back to me and I'll buy him everything he wants with my ludicrous wealth and I'll make Gandalf come and lick his shoes in forgiveness but we'll both just laugh at him and retire to my chambers and spend the night having joyful, vigorous-
"Come!' I order, and quickly leave before I have to hear anymore moaning about Gandalf the Bloody Grey.
15:50. Wonder what he's getting up to right about now. Probably laughing with Radagast the Brown about us behind our backs whilst he smokes the day away.
16:56. According to the map there should be a set of ridiculously steep and narrow stairs carved into side of mountain to lead us to the door. Inclines of rock shoot up from the the ground around the base and make it hard to see where they might be. Do I need spectacles? Mahal help me.
Squint at map. "If the map is true…the hidden door lies directly above us." This map has already proven to be nonsensical and riddled with moon-runes; who knows what other tomfoolery Granddad imbued it with. Wouldn't be much surprised if there are no stairs at all.
Bilbo is waving from across the way, gesturing behind a large rocky outcrop.
Run to meet him, and am pleasantly surprised.
Sure enough, the stairs are there, carved up, up, up the mountainside.
Cannot help but grin. "You have keen eyes, Master Baggins." I'm right up in his personal space, but he doesn't seem to object to my sharing it. In fact, he's blushing.
17:14. Those stairs really are steep.
Honestly, they must come under at least three different Health and Safety code violations. Who on earth had them commissioned? Probably Great-Uncle Frór, the nutter.
17:33. When we reach the top and manage to scramble onto safe, flat inlet ledge of stone, and see mysteriously large door carved into the side, actually almost shed a sneaky tear.
"This must be it," I murmur, approaching it like one would a chocolate Bilbo sculpture - reverently, and with great desire. "The hidden door…"
I feel a speech coming on.
Turn to face Company.
Ooh, yes. Here it comes: my 'King Under the Mountain' voice. "And all those who doubted us," I shout, holding Father's key up high, "Let them rue this day!"
Company cheering, thoroughly inspired. Obviously.
"Right then!" Dwalin cries, running to the door. "We have a key, which means…" His hands trace across the stone. "There must be a keyhole."
Huh. De ja vu.
Do I slow clap?
Notice the sky has turned a deep shade of orange, and our shadows are cast across the stone. I consider the setting sun and a passage from the moon-runes comes back to me.
"The last light of Durin's Day will shine across the keyhole…"
Of course! The sun should guide us to the keyhole before it sets!
Am so clever.
"C'mon," I urge them as Nori joins Dwalin in effort to find the damn thing. "We're losing the light."
18:27. Dwalin has begun kicking the door.
The solid stone door.
That will certainly help.
"Stop it!" Nori shouts. "I can't think with all your thumping!"
"I can't find it," Dwalin frets. "It's not here!"
The sun is nearly set.
No no no. It can't end like this. Not after all the effort, the danger, the unrelenting sexual tension of this damned journey!
My gold is waiting for me, and I'll bloody well have it.
Blast it all. Dwalin's technique suddenly doesn't sound so bad.
"Break it down!" I order them.
"It's no good!" Balin cries, sounding defeated. "The door is sealed. It cannot be opened by force. There's a powerful magic on it."
The sunlight fades. So does our hope.
"No…" I stride to the door. Pull out the stupid map.
Look at them all. "The last light of Durin's Day…will shine upon the keyhole." Am aware my voice has broken a little, but cannot help it. Don't understand. How can anything in life be this unfair? We were so close. How could we not find it?
Hold the map out. "…That's what it says!"
They all look defeated. Even Bilbo. He cared too, I realise. Just as much.
Look to Balin. He's the Old Wise Codger in this shambles of a fairytale. He has to know. "What did we miss?" I approach him. "Balin…"
He shakes his head. "We've lost the light…there's no more to be done." There a shift in the air, as if it has been been pulled straight out of my lungs. Feel like a beached whale.
Balin lowers his eyes, lips tight and remorseful. "We had one chance." He turns away.
They all do.
"Come away, lads. It's over."
Watch them shuffle back towards the stairs, downtrodden. Cannot move.
"W-wait a minute!"
"Where are you all going?" He's looking around as if they are all strangers, baffled. They ignore him.
He stands between the retreating Company and myself, and his face tightens, fists clenching. I realise, despite the few yards that separate us, that he is standing with me.
"You can't give up now!" He voice is raised and thick with feeling.
Watch him, fascinated.
He turns and looks at me, as if expecting me to snap them out of it, to tell them to stop being such pussywillows and get back to work. He looks up at me as if positive any second I'll put everything to rights again, as if he knows my determination alone is one to match his. Somewhere deep in my stomach there's a preening, fluttery sensation of delight, but my heart is too heavy.
Consider the key for a second, the useless, bastard key, and then let it slip through my fingers. It clangs to the ground and slides perilously close to the edge.
Hear Bilbo's concern as he says my name. "Thorin…"
Turn and stride towards him.
He's pleading."You can't give up now-"
I press the map to his chest as I walk past him, and just for an instant I pause, pressing my fingers gently into his chest through the old parchment. Can feel the weight of his stare in the side of my head, the touch of his hand on mine as he holds the map to him.
Then I walk on.
19:18. We make our way back down the shitey stairs.
Bilbo has yet to follow us. If he doesn't catch up soon someone will have to go back and drag him by his silly pointed ears, the damn stubborn little-
No. Needn't take this out on Bilbo. He's just full of too much hope. Not like me - an old, grouchy dwarf who will be nothing more than a poor, wandering blacksmith for the rest of his miserable life.
Should have known it would all come to nothing. When has anything ever gone my way, really? Right now, I cannot think of even one instance.
Feel empty, as if I haven't eaten for a week, and numb, as if I've gone past caring. Maybe that's right. Maybe it's time to stop caring about things that won't ever be, even if the injustice burns me from the inside out-
An echo calls down from higher up the mountainside.
"Come back! Come back!"
"It's the light of the moon!"
Honestly, can't even have an internal breakdown anymore without being interrupted-
"It's the last moon of autumn!"
Everyone has stopped, looking to each other in confusion.
Feel my heart do a skip-and-a-jump.
The last moon of autumn.
"It's the moon," I murmur to myself, heart pounding. "Not the light of the sun, but the moon!"
Turn and sprint back up the stairs with nary a care for the sheer drop. Feeling spectacularly heights-aware and not a single bugger given.
19:30. Arrive at the ledge to find Bilbo prancing about like a loon, looking for something on the ground.
"Where - it was here! It was here, it was just-"
He turns, and his foot hits something.
As I watch it flying through the air, I realise with a sudden wave of horror that it's the key.
It's skids within an inch of the edge before my boot comes slamming down atop of it.
Bilbo grimaces and does his best impression of a not-guilty person. "Sorry…"
Not even mad.
Slowly pick up the key. Stare at it. Feel the Company approach behind me, also staring at it.
Then I stare at Bilbo.
He blinks back at me, and for a moment am worried the intensity of my gaze has somehow paralysed him. I approach him, key in my fist, and am pleasantly surprised that he doesn't shy away. Instead he looks up at me boldly as I look down at him.
Seriously consider doing it.
Kissing him, I mean.
Was wrong before. Something has gone my way, at least once - I got to meet Bilbo Baggins.
Smile at him, then move around him to find the keyhole. They'll be time for kisses after we slay the dragon. I hope.
I press the key into the small keyhole (how could we not find it before?), and a deep grating noise echoes through the stone.
I push, and after a moment's pause it gives way - a perfect dwarf-height door swings away into the mountainside, revealing a long, dark passage.
Need to take a moment.
"Thorin," Balin approaches me, about to say something, but he seems to choke on the words.
Turn to face him. He has wet eyes.
Durin's beard, we can't all start crying or else they'll be no point in facing Smaug at all - I shall have already died from acute embarrassment.
Pat him awkwardly on the shoulder, then turn back to the passage to face my destiny.
…Well, my gold.
I'm here for the gold.
19:49. "This stone…" Am stroking the tunnel walls like a loon. "You remember it, Balin? Chambers filled with golden light…"
"I remember," he nods, all emotional and dewy-eyed.
Mahal above, it seems we are all having A Moment and the only one who doesn't seem to be about to start sobbing into their handkerchiefs is Bilbo.
20:01. Within the passage entrance, Ancient Khuzdul is carved above the door.
"Herein lies the seventh kingdom of Durin's Folk," Gloin reads, "May the heart of the mountain unite all dwarves in defence of this home."
There is a carving beneath it - one I recognise instantly.
"The throne of the king," Balin tells a clueless Bilbo.
"Oh," the hobbit murmurs, squinting up at the old drawing. "And…whats that above it?"
Balin looks at him, and with a reverent murmur says, "The Arkenstone."
"The Arkenstone…" Bilbo hums to himself, curiosity singing off him in waves.
Mm. The Arkenstone. Bilbo. Bilbo and the Arkenstone.
"And what's that?" He asks obviously.
What's the Arkenstone? Only the most beautiful, flawless and brilliant gem ever taken from stone - so dazzling you just want to lick it a bit and rub your face against it.
Ooh. I could just answer him, straightforward, no fuss…
But being dramatic about it sounds like such fun.
"That, Master Burglar," I tell him, "Is why you are here."
He looks a bit intimidated.
20:15. Wonder how Kili is getting on.
Hopefully his wound hasn't festered further.
No, I'm sure he and Fili are quite happily slagging me off whilst they relax in Bard's house with a cup of tea and a tune from the man's lute. Easy for some.
20:48. Balin is about to escort Bilbo deeper through the tunnels, until they find a point from which the hobbit can go the rest of the way on his own. To find the Arkenstone.
And possibly a dragon.
Am sweating just thinking about it.
Watch as he accepts everyone's wishes of good luck. He smiles graciously, politely (I expect politeness is so deeply ingrained within Hobbits that they'd apologise if you killed them and got blood on your shirt), but his smiles are thin.
"BIlbo," I catch him before he joins Balin.
He turns to me, wide-eyed.
"I…" Durin's beard, why has my throat closed up all of a sudden? "I just… do not be afraid. Have trust in yourself. Gandalf recommended you to us personally, and whilst I still think he's a bit looney, he is a good judge of character. If he trusts you, so should you." Did I really just compliment Gandalf? Mahal save my black, twisted soul.
Bilbo regards me closely. "And you? Do I have your trust, as well?"
Cheeks burning. Hands clammy. Witty one-liners exhausted. How does this little halfling get me in a juvenile tizzy just by talking to me? Sorcery. Perhaps he is a wizard as well.
"You do," I tell him honestly. "I should have trusted you from the beginning."
Bilbo's smile is, for he first time in the past hour, genuine. "Then I shall do my best."
Probably look like a tomato by now. Can feel Dwalin silently laughing at me.
Please don't die, I want to say as he disappears into the tunnels with Balin, but he's already gone. And it would be foolish to follow. Balin can take it from here.
21:00. I'm following.
Damn it. This is so sneaky.
I keep to the shadows, staying a good distance behind them as Balin leads Bilbo down, deeper towards the main chamber where the gold resides. Feel like a spy. Or a stalker.
"You want me…to find a jewel?"
They've stopped. Bilbo sounds worried again (what's new).
"A large white jewel, yes." Balin replies.
"That's it? Only I imagine there's quite a few down there."
"There is only one Arkenstone, and you'll know it when you see it."
That much is true. When I first saw the stone above Grandfather's throne as a child, I found it to be so blinding and pure that I was convinced I'd somehow died and the light of heaven was calling me towards the afterlife.
"Right…" Bilbo doesn't sound convinced.
Balin sighs. "In truth, lad, I do not know what you will find down there."
There is a long pause.
"You needn't go if you don't want to," Balin tells him kindly. "There's no dishonour in turning back-"
"No." Bilbo says firmly. "Balin, I promised I would do this…and I think I must try."
Do you hear that?
It's the sound of my heart slowly melting into a puddle of feelings.
Brave, tiny, amazing little-
Balin is laughing. "It never ceases to amaze me!"
"The courage of hobbits." I can almost hear Balin's smile.
Oh Mahal, I'm smiling! To myself! What a soggy, wet lettuce I've become. Am sort of jealous, that Balin got to give him this little prep talk. This is valuable Bilbo Bonding Time and it should have gone to me, really.
"Go now," Balin urges Bilbo. "With as much luck as you can muster."
Small footsteps signal the sound of Bilbo heading on his way.
Well, at least he's had some encouraging, inspirational words to spur him-
"Oh, and Bilbo…"
"If there is in fact a…live dragon down there? Don't waken it."
He definitely won't have an aneurysm now.
21:52. We've retreated outside whilst Bilbo goes about trying not to get eaten.
Can't help but feel a bit guilty about it.
"He'll be fine," Dwalin (of all people) tells me.
Nearly fall over. "What are you saying?" I spit defensively. "I wasn't thinking of Bilbo at all!"
"And I never said I was talking about Bilbo," Dwalin smirks. "Yet here we are..discussing him."
Dwalin needs to go back to the hell hole he crawled out of and stay there. Before I slug him across the face and ruin many years of friendship.
Now that I think about it, our friendship has always revolved around Dwalin teasing me. As King, I've the right to have his tongue cut out for insolence…wonder why I never have. Perhaps because friendship transcends being mean to one another. Or perhaps because if I had Dwalin's tongue cut out he'd just try to kiss me with it afterwards (ugh).
"He's a member of this Company," I tell him maturely. "I should be concerned for his safety, should I not? More over, I am relying on his life being kept intact in order to have the Arkenstone within my grasp once more. Isn't that enough?"
Drop it, drop it…
"All good reasons, but that still doesn't explain why you stare at his ass all day."
Of course Dwalin chooses to say this as I'm taking a swing of water, which ends up sprayed all over Nori. He scowls at me as his beard drips.
"Dwalin, shut your mouth!" I splutter, red-faced. "It's not even remotely like that-"
"It is though," Dori pips up sheepishly. "That is to say, you do pay him an awful lot of attention, your Majesty-"
"That's the part your forgetting, Dori: Your Majesty. I am your King, or I will be once I have my throne, and you-"
"I think it's lovely," Ori sighs, doodling in his sketchbook. "A dwarven prince and a kindly hobbit, united by a noble quest in which life and limb is at constant risk, destined to either overcome all odds or perish together for the sake of glory."
Everyone stares at him.
Can feel my mouth hanging open.
Ori looks slightly affronted. "W-what? I'm writing a story about it."
Think I need a lie down.
22:37. Am still trying to process the idea that Ori has apparently been writing illicit fiction about Bilbo and I when a great, deep rumble echoes through the mountain. Everyone jumps to their feet, disturbed.
"Was that an earthquake?"
"That, my lad…" Balin turns to face us and oh Mahal he's being dramatic as well, "Was a dragon."
Smaug either a) snores even more loudly than a Balrog with a chest infection or b) Bilbo has woken the blighter up.
Time to go be a hero and save my damsel.
…Just imagined Bilbo in a dress.
22:56. Running, running…
No stones in my shoe for once-
Oh, no. There it is.
23:00. Make it to the main chamber, and skid to a standstill.
Oh, Mahal above!
There's gold. Everywhere I look, gold, and jewels and more gold, covering the entire chasm, stretching far off into the distance. Forgot how bloody huge some of these halls could be. Wonder if the first Durin was compensating for something…
Not that any such problems have been passed down. No, no.
Hear hurried footsteps, and in the next instance Bilbo is charging up the stairs towards me. He looks as if he's smack in the middle of a nervous breakdown combined with an existential crisis.
"You're alive!" I cry in delight.
"Not for much longer!' He gasps as he reaches me.
"Did you find the Arkenstone?"
"The dragon is coming!" He gestures wildly behind himself, but I'm suddenly overly focused on the fact that he appears to be evading my question.
"The Arkenstone," I press urgently. "Did you find it?"
He pants gently, blinking up at me as if not sure what to say. I can feel my hackles rising. If I had hackles, that is.
"No, we have to get out-"
He makes to leave, but I block the exit with my sword. Slowly, I press the side of the blade against his chest, pushing him back.
"Thorin…" He's worried, maybe even a little scared. So am I. I need that Arkenstone. I can't be a true King to my people if I don't have it - I'll just be some fool with a fancy crown and a lot of gold. True Durin kings sit beneath the Arkenstone, as they always have-
"Thorin!" Bilbo is definitely scared now.
Realise I am pointing my sword right at him. He's looking at me as if I've grown a second head.
I didn't mean to-
Not to Bilbo-
Before I can unglue myself and stop acting like a complete fruitcake, Bilbo's gaze slides away from me, and his entire face goes white as milk.
Bad feeling, oh, very bad feeling…
Follow his gaze.
There, perched atop a yonder hill of gold, rests Smaug, his fiery gaze fixed upon the two of us as if we were bite-sized horderves.
But of course.
With the roar of several war cries, my Company suddenly arrive, swords drawn, and all simultaneously choke a little when they see the colossal, towering figure of Smaug staring them down.
This was such a great plan. Who suggested this whole thing again? Oh, yes - Gandalf! The loopy bastard, I'll strangle him with my braids if I survive this to ever see him again-
And Smaug is charging towards us.
"YOU. WILL. BURN!"
We all scream like girls, and promptly leap off the walkway into the sea of gold below. A roar of white-hot flame rushes over the walkway above us as we all scramble to get away.
Feeling quite fire-aware right now.
23:29. Fairly certain my back is aflame.
We escape into a small alcove, and I just manage to join everyone else inside as flames roll past the entrance, leaving my clothes smouldering.
Rolling on the ground like a dog to put the fire out isn't exactly how I wanted my underlings to remember me, but I suppose by this point we've all seen the worst in each other (oh, Mahal, Bilbo probably hates me now). My dignity is somewhere in the void.
Jump up as soon as I'm confidant I'm no longer burning to death and shout as smoothly as I can, "C'mon!", leading them into the next tunnel as if nothing happened.
Am still cool.
23:54. We're higher up in the mountain now, many levels above the ground. You could throw a stone off the edge of one of these walkways and never hear it hit the bottom, which gives me the willies a little.
Am not actually feeling too heights-aware, though. Perhaps because the mountain is my home, and it is comforting even so high up. Or maybe because falling to my death doesn't sound like quite the ordeal when compared to Death By Dragon Fire.
We near another walkway. It is surrounded by open air, and it's a long stretch to the other side. A long way to fall if you slipped off the edge, too.
Look about as best I can, but no sign of the dragon. Surely something so big cannot hide easily…
Note to self: tell Smaug he's fat at next available opportunity.
"We've given him the slip!" Dori enthuses.
"No," whispers Dwalin, "He's too canny for that."
Why must dragons be smart as well as fire-breathing and monstrously powerful? Seems a bit of an unbalanced advantage over, well, everyone.
"So, where-to now?" Bilbo whispers.
"The western guard-room," I whisper back (it's all very hush-hush, as Smaug probably has supersonic hearing, too, just because he's that brilliant or whatever), "We might find a way out."
Balin shakes his head. "It's too high, there's no chance that way!"
"It's our only chance!" I hiss. "We have to try."
00:04. Walkway is long. Too long. At this pensioner-shuffle pace we'll have died of old age before we get to the other side, nevermind Smaug. We have little choice, however - if we run across like a herd of wildebeest the dragon will hear us and roast us all in one go.
We should be fine, long as we stay nice and-
A coin drops from Mahalknowswhere and hits the stone, ringing like a siren song of imminent death.
Squint over my shoulder accusingly, half-expecting one of them to have dropped it like the halfwits they are, but then-
Bilbo slowly looks up, and we all follow his gaze.
Smaug's huge, serpentine body slowly prowls over the walkway above us, coins that were stuck to his belly slowly falling off one by one, raining down around us. He hasn't seen us yet - but he's looking.
This is fine. This is totally fine. Won't be grey by the time this is all over, truly. Positive thinking key to a healthy mind.
Oh, bugger it.
00:40. After nearly dying a third time, our skulking about leads us to the western guard-room, but upon arrival we find the old entrance to the outside blocked by rubble, and the room filled with the half-skeletal bodies of my people who died trying to escape when the kingdom fell.
Of course. Not only is our escape plan a no-go, but fate has decided to leave some dead dwarves here just to really hit the message home: You're Going To Die Here, Nice And Cripsy.
"We could try to reach the mines…might last a few days." Balin suggests morosely, looking about at the bodies and quite clearly imaging his own miserable fate.
Oh, I feel it.
I feel a speech coming on.
"No." I tell him. "I will not die like this; cowering, clawing for breath." I face them all, raise my voice. "We make for the forges."
Dwalin shakes his head. "He'll see us, sure as breath."
"Not if we spilt up."
"Thorin…we'll never make it." Balin implores me.
"Some of us might."
I'm there, people. I'm at that stage. Sacrifices might have to be made to do it, but Mahal help me, I'm going to kick this bastard dragon's arse back to dragon hell one way or another.
Am officially done with his shit.
"We lead him to the forges. We kill the dragon. If this is to end in fire, than we shall all burn together."
Just so they know in advance.
I mean it's not as if I'm deliberately trying to be morbid or anything but…
00:59. "FLEE, FLEE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! THERE IS NOWERE TO HIDE…"
Durin's beard, but he does have a big gob.
01:22. After much yelling and running, somehow we have managed to lead him to the massive forging hall without being burned to cinders.
"This way, it's this way!" Shouts Balin behind me.
Skid to a halt and turn - Balin and Bilbo are waiting at an open passageway that I somehow ran right past. Where the hell is my head today.
It's slightly preoccupied with the gigantic dragon trying to kill us all.
Make to go to them, but that's when the Great Fiery One decides to barrel his way around the corner. The moment he sees us, his throat begins glowing from the inside and he opens his huge jaws - the only indication we get that things are about to quite literally heat up.
Am too far away from them. "Follow Balin!" I shout to Bilbo, who looks as if he's about to try and pull me towards him.
With an almighty roar, a river of flame rages towards me - I spin on my heel, just managing to catch a glimpse of Balin pulling Bilbo out of harm's way, and then I sprint for the nearest open mine. Can feel the heat on my back when I leap majestically into the pit, falling straight down for a sickening moment before landing on one of the mining pulleys - it swiftly coils downwards into the dark whilst Smaug chases me.
He's persistent, I'll give him that.
01:28: "Thorin!" I can make out Dwalin's cry of alarm as I speed down into the darkness, dragon on my tail, and in the next instance the pulley jerks to a standstill.
Oh Mahal, no no no!
Smaug opens his great jaws, about to catch up, about to swallow me whole-
And then the pulley goes flying back up.
Narrowly miss Smaug's huge mouth as I zoom back up towards the surface, his great eye glaring at me as I sail past it. Hear him turning around with a roar, chasing me back up. Dwalin must have reversed the cable.
Am fine, am totally fine, just need to get back onto stable ground so I can run away properly, theres no need to panic, I'm going to make it, I'm going to-
The pulley cable breaks.
For one long, awful moment, am convinced I am about to fall to my death, but then-
Land on something, balancing awkwardly.
Am balancing on Smaug's nose.
His jaw opens, throat glowing with searing fire and oh gosh what fun this is-
There's another pulley dangling nearby, and I leap for it.
Above, someone hits the lever and I go sailing up again, a stream of flame racing after me.
Leap off the pulley as it reaches the surface and throw myself onto the ground, narrowly missing the torrent of fire as it shoots up out the mine like a volcano.
Bloody buggering bastard balls!
01:39. "C'mon!" I shout, pulling Nori with me through a set of columns into the next great chamber - the forging hall.
The rest of them are waiting for me.
"The plan's not gonna work," growls Dwalin. "These furnaces are stones cold!"
The furnaces are huge, tower-like contraptions, about eight of them in total throughout the hall - and all of them need a hell of a lot of firepower to heat them up. Somehow don't think Dori's trusty set of matches is going to do the job.
"He's right," Balin adds, "We've no fire hot enough to set them ablaze…"
"Have we not?" I say, grinning for what feels like the first time in a thousand years.
We've got a hot enough fire, alright. We just need to get Smaug to cooperate.
Time to do what I do best: insult people.
"I did not think to see you easily outwitted!" I shout back the way I came, through the columns where the dragon must still be lurking.
One huge, clawed wing appears from the pit, rising to the bait (idiot, ha).
"You have grown slow," I shout at him with great enjoyment, "And fat, in your dotage!"
Did promise myself I'd tell him he was fat, after all.
Smaug's face is one of true loathing when it appears out of the darkness.
A little weight-sensitive, are we?
"Slug!" I shout, just to really piss him off.
His expression of absolute fury is pretty clear.
Turn to the Company with a grin. "Take cover!"
As we hide behind the great columns, flame raging past us, I feel better than I have all day.
01:57. Smaug's fire brings the forges to life perfectly (I'm an utter genius).
Suddenly am giving orders like it's nobodies business, whilst an apocalyptic Smaug tries to smash through the columns so he can eat us all.
"Bombur, get those billows working!"
"Bilbo!" I cry, looking for him, but he's already running towards me. "Bilbo, up there, on my mark, pull that lever!" I tell him with a hand on his shoulder, gently pushing him towards a huge lever atop the stairs that will release the water pipes on my command.
He runs for it instantly, so I turn to Balin. "Balin, can you still mix a flash-flame?"
"Aye, it'll only take a jiffy!"
Smaug roars in rage, and the columns break.
"We don't have a jiffy!" Dwalin cries.
02:18. Seeing Smaug belted with gallons upon gallons of water and bottles of flash-flame is the good for the soul, I find.
02:24. Manage to release the newly-melted molten gold from their huge cauldrons, letting rivers of the stuff rush through the casting funnels.
Perhaps I'm inspired by our barrel-riding incident on the Elvish river in Mirkwood, but my next ingenious plan is to grab a wheelbarrow, throw it into the liquid gold and ride it on the funnels, letting the stream of molten gold carry me into the Gallery of the Kings.
"Lead him to the Gallery of the Kings!" I order Dwalin as I ride past him, narrowly avoiding Smaug's stomping feet and lashing tail.
Glance behind me to see Bilbo right in Smaug's line of view, clearly terrified.
"Keep going Bilbo! Run!"
Am going to have a heart attack.
02:45. Have a plan. But they have to get him to the Gallery of the Kings first.
I'm not done messing with this fat, scaly wanker yet.
03:15. Am ready. Stood atop the biggest cast in the kingdom - a huge, towering statue of a dwarf, as tall as Smaug himself. It's filled with hot, liquid gold, and I have the chain that will open the cast in my hands. All I need now is for someone to lead the bastard dragon here…
Smaug crashes through the wall at the opposite end of the hall, poor Bilbo just in front.
Well, that's that then.
"You think you can deceive me, barrel-rider?" Smaug snarls, as Bilbo dives beneath a fallen tapestry for cover. "You have come from Laketown…is there some sort of scheme hatched between these filthy dwarfs and those miserable top-trading lake men? Those snivelling cowards with their longbows, and their black arrows…Perhaps it is time I paid them a visit!"
He turns his great, coiled body around, making to leave, and am about to shout something rude at him in order to gain his attention, when amazingly, Bilbo abruptly stands up.
"No, this isn't their fault!" He shouts desperately. "Wait! You cannot go to Laketown!"
He must be off his rocker. Brave, stupid creature. If he survives this I'm going to smack him, and then hug him. Not necessarily in that order.
Smaug appears amused. "You care about them, do you? Good. Then you can watch them die." He makes to leave again.
My time to shine.
"Here! You witless worm!" Oh, that's a good one.
Smaug's head snaps in my direction. His eyes narrow. "You."
He's probably still smarting from that 'fat' comment I threw at him earlier.
"I am taking back what you stole."
Smaug approaches, snarling, "You will take nothing from me, dwarf. I laid low your warriors of old. I instilled terror in the hearts of men."
He rises up, so we are eye-to-eye.
"I AM KING UNDER THE MOUNTAIN!"
"This is not your Kingdom! These are dwarf lands, this is dwarf gold! And we will have our revenge."
Oh, but I do the best speeches.
Shout the order in Khuzdul, pull the chain, and one by one the rest of the Company, who are stationed behind me on the ground, do the same.
The chains around the cast fall away, and the stone crumbles. I cling the the chain and swing out of the way as the stone falls away, revealing a huge, solid gold statue the likes of which no man or beast has ever seen before.
Smaug is obviously enchanted, and for a moment appears to forget he wants to kill us (excellent). Instead he inspects the golden idol, eyes round a saucers.
Then the whole thing collapses into a river of molten gold.
Smaug roars as the torrent washes over him, pushing him to the ground (hilarious).
Within seconds he is lost beneath the tidal wave, and the entire hall is transformed into a yellow, glistening lake. With a final thrash of his tail, the dragon is submerged, and all goes quiet.
Everyone holds their breath, but there is no movement.
Durin's beard, we might actually have done it!
Am amazing. Am a genius.
Let it be known throughout the world, that this is the day that Thorin Oakenshield slew the greatest calamity of all-
With a roar, Smaug rises from beneath the lake, plastered from head to tow in shining gold.
Damn it all to hell!
I just made him pretty.
"IT BURNS!" He shrieks, clambering away towards the exit. "BURNS!"
He charges away, roaring and shrieking.
"I WILL SHOW YOU REVENGE!"
Then he crashes his way through the front gate and out into the night.
At least we got him out the mountain, right?
03:48. Follow Bilbo out into the night. Watch him as he climbs up onto a high rock in order to get a better view.
In the distance, Smaug's great, hulking silhouette can be seen cutting through the air, heading straight for Laketown. Straight for Fili and Kili.
"What have we done?" Bibo breathes quietly, horrified.
03:55. Well, theres a bright side I suppose. Ori will have fantastic material for his erotic novel. The dwarf king and the perplexed hobbit fight off a dragon together, and might actually make love afterwards, if the dragon doesn't kill an entire town first and the king isn't acting like a nutter and can stop pointing his sword (his steel sword, that is) at the poor hobbit for five seconds because the king obviously has an unhealthy relationship with shiny things and he apparently turns into a gold-digging basketcase if he keeps being denied-
It will need to be heavily edited. Lest a tale of romance turn into the story of me becoming a tyrannical gold-whore who abuses people and lets the dragon kill hundreds of innocents.
04:00. …I miss Gandalf.