Chapter o5, in which the company is drunk with summer
"How did we-"
Thorin was never one for fancies and magic tricks. He stuck to his weapons and only thought of the hardship that was his life and the glory that was to come. He kept watch on his nephews, whom he loved dearly, and for whom he desired to reclaim what should had been theirs in the first place. He didn't like to be involved with cynical wizards and unreliable elves, even when it was necessary. Now, when he found himself in the midst of these peculiar creatures and their ephemeral homeland, the only thoughts that ran through his head were 'It's so bloody hot I wish there was some damn shade.'
Bilbo, for most of the time, didn't think of much and instead gaped at everything there was to gape at. He found he couldn't bring himself to form words inside his head, let alone speak them out loud. His thoughts were fleeting; he couldn't concentrate on his surroundings, for whenever he moved his eyes, a new idea would pop into his head. He remained fixated on the fairy's words; he felt 'summer lands' was a fitting name for the evergreen woods. 'A land of everlasting summer.' He spotted another crowd of fairies playing somewhere near the trees. They all had pointy ears and laughed lyrically. Bilbo said to himself, 'They seem to be enjoying themselves. I wish I could join them.' He stared a second longer, those last feelings resonating in his mind, and so the little hobbit, with his hirsute feet, carried himself to the fairies so that he could play with them. His dwarven companions called after him, but he didn't hear or just didn't care.
In his lifetime Kili had seen many a things that bordered between wondrous and hideous, but he couldn't decide what to make of this place. Of course, it was lovely and spectacular like something taken out of a dream and similar to the stories his mother used to tell him as a child. Everything was exuberantly jade with a splash of colour here and there, the air smelled sweet and summery and, since the moment they had arrived, he felt compelled to relax when faced with the quiescent setting. Still, these were not things Kili enjoyed. Kili enjoyed messy training grounds and the smell of ale and fighting with his friends until someone lost so the loser could buy ale. He enjoyed having a laugh with his brother and destroying public property, despite the fact that his mother or his uncle would admonish him later on. He wasn't one for pleasantries and things that just seemed 'So girly.'
At some point, two female fairies had appeared before him and his brother. One was tall and one was small yet they seemed to be a pair. The other dwarves had dispersed, but he didn't get to look for them because the two fairies caught his eye again. He didn't think them beautiful, because they were far too thin and were lacking in facial hair, not to mention they were taller than him (even the small one). They had small noses and long pointy ears and their lips curved almost despicably on their pale faces. He glanced at his brother and saw that he shared his awareness. When they glanced back at the fairy girls, the two had their heads tilted in a similar manner with similar smiles.
"Would you care-" the tall one started.
"-for a drink?" the small one ended.
The brothers blinked in unison. Suddenly, thoughts of cold beverages occupied their minds and their expressions broke into silly grins. "Yes, please," they both replied excitedly.
The tall one took Kili's shoulder while the small one cupped Fili's hand, and the fairies led the dwarves to one of the trees where other fairy girls were resting and feasting on odd-looking fruits and drinking odd-coloured juices. As they approached, the fairies giggled gleefully in their direction. Displeased, Kili frowned and couldn't understand why he was thinking of tinkling icicles melting in the morning sun.
Kili and Fili found themselves in the middle of the giggling fairy girls who weren't beautiful but had very pretty eyes of various colours and shades. They offered the dwarves their fruit which was round and as big as Kili's fist, black on the outside, purple on the inside, and yellow at its core, and which tasted a lot like passion and desire and tingled Kili's body from head to toe, prickling his skin with need. Then they offered the dwarves their drinks which were winter cold and snow white and tasted spicy like peppermint yet sweet like honeysuckle and made Kili feel lightheaded. He smiled at the fairies while they giggled some more at his dazed look.
Kili wandered with his eyes and took everything in. His head hurt every time his eyes moved until he eventually decided to rest on one place. Unfortunately, that place happened to be on a person with outlandishly red hair. Kili promptly glared.
She had her back turned to him and was talking to two other fairies, the one that was cold and the one whose skin was grey. She was listening carefully at what the cold one had to say while the other stood noiselessly.
"Do you fancy her?" a fairy inquired curiously.
"Of course not!" he glanced back at her and instantly forgot what she had been talking about.
He stared at her in confusion as she grinned innocently. "You know," she whispered confidentially, "She's awfully mean to all of us."
She glanced at the individual in question and Kili followed her gaze. As his eyes fell on the red-head's back, his blood began to boil. The other fairies stared nervously at their fairy friend.
"I only wish someone would stand up to her."
"I will!" the young dwarf shouted as he sprung from the grass, which he then regretted because he became dizzy and stumbled on his feet.
Nonetheless, he began to stalk in her direction, which seemed miles away to his intoxicated senses. He considered her as he staggered her way. Kili couldn't remember how he had met the Red Fairy but that seemed far from relevant at the moment. All he could think about was her tall figure, her long red curls, and that condescending smirk she had whenever she looked his way.
"I have a bone to pick you with, Red!" he slurred.
She didn't even flinch. She turned her head and smirked that condescending smirk at his drunken form. The creepy fairy was laughing mutely while the cold one rolled his eyes impatiently.
"I didn't think you'd remember me, dwarfling, what with so many girls surrounding you," she countered serenely.
He positioned himself in front of her and stood in the centre of the three. He craned his neck so that he could glare at her, though she didn't seem to be bothered by his outburst.
"Well? What about that bone?" she inquired.
"I don't like you!" he bellowed as closely to her face as he could reach, and then added lamely, "In fact, I think you're appalling!"
The Red Fairy seemed genuinely flattered, "Please, I'm blushing."
Kili didn't know how to respond to that, so he did the only thing that made sense at the time. He pulled his fist back, ready to attack, but then his vision started spinning and, all of a sudden, he was sprawled on his stomach on the grass, something hard pressing on his back. When he turned to look, he found the Red Fairy sitting on him.
"Silly little thing, aren't you?" she laughed while flicking his nose.
The young dwarf glared lividly at the snickering fay sitting on him. His enraged expression did nothing to intimidate her; if anything, it amused her more. She leaned on his back and dug her elbow into his shoulder, placing her head in the palm of her hand; her hair fell to her side and tickled Kili's face while the Red Fairy giggled in his ear.
Meanwhile, vermillion-coloured birds with long golden tails had started singing somewhere in the trees, a cheerful tune which compelled anyone to move in a way dictated by the birds' whims. As such, several of the fairies jumped to their feet and ran towards the dwarves to grab them by the arms and haul them up for a dance. The dwarves grinned dizzily at the fairies, ready for the challenge.
"There will be none of that," the blue-haired fairy warned without a trace of emotion in his voice.
"Master Frost!" pleaded one of the fairy girls, a pleasant smile on her lips, "Just a little one."
"Are you deaf?" the Red Fairy growled menacingly, shifting her attention from Kili to the fairy.
Kili also turned his head in the direction of the other fay's voice. He vaguely remembered talking to her, not quite sure what about. He observed her fear-struck expression and her stiff body, her trembling hands fumbling with her strawberry-coloured hair. He wondered briefly if the Red Fairy made her feel so frightened; she didn't appear that frightening to him. His anger rose again, remembering she was still sitting on him.
"If so," Red the Fairy said coldly, "You won't be needing those ears."
The fairies immediately let go of all the dwarves, their hands moving up to cover their ears. The dwarves fell drunkenly back on the ground, complaining about sudden back pains. The Red Fairy eyed them disapprovingly, and then shifted the cold stare back to the fays.
"You fed them," she stated ominously.
"Just a little snow plum."
The rest of the fairies took a step back, leaving their appointed leader to fend for herself. The pink-haired fey tried to hold her ground, but staggered when she saw the Red Fairy getting off the young dwarf, a murderous look on her otherwise apathetic expression.
The two male fairy companions made a move to take hold of her before she could tear off the pink fairy's head. Kili, however, feeling the weight lift off him, grabbed her arm swiftly and pulled her back on top of him. Red landed clumsily on his back, shooting Kili a confused look. Seizing the opportunity, the frightened fairies scattered into the forest, away from the Red Fairy's wrath.
"Do not dare leave!" Kili spat indignantly, his hold on the fairy's bony wrist tightening. "I'm not through with you!"
Her smirk crept back up on her face as she chuckled softly. She regarded Kili with detachment, unperturbed by his strong grip and the sneer on his face.
It annoyed him how her face seemed to mimic every emotion she showed. It was not something he could explain, for they were not faked and they did not mask a hidden meaning, but seemed copied and looked odd on her.
"Come this way," she purred, pulling Kili off the ground.
His hand clung to hers as the dwarf followed the fairy closely. He stared intently at the back of her head, concentrating on the curled strands of red hair. The way they moved in the motionless wind, Kili was reminded of shaking tree branches and small red berries; his mouth went dry from a reminiscing bitter taste.
Shifting his attention to his left side, he noticed his fellow brethren playing and eating among the fairies. Fili was surrounded by fairy girls who hung on his every word, though Kili would have bet his bow and arrows that his brother's story was about one of his boring hunting excursions. Ori, too, was surrounded by fairy girls, though he seemed out of place among them as they frolicked about him. Balin was engrossed into a conversation with one of the fairy men. Kili thought this to be comical; given their age difference, he couldn't reason what they might possibly converse about. Dwalin, however, appeared to have the most fun, for he had sat next to the grey hulking fairy and was engaged in a game of overpowering the other.
When they stopped, Kili looked up at the Red Fairy with demanding eyes. She smiled down at him, tilting her head.
"Drink from this stream," she indicated softly, causing Kili's irritation to resurface. "It will clear your mind."
"I will do nothing of the sort!" he snapped, which earned him a roll of the eyes from the fairy. "You cannot make me do anyth-"
Without notice, Kili's head was shoved into the stream. His arms grabbed frantically for the fairy, never quite reaching her. When panic started settling in, he was pulled back above water. He gasped rapidly for breath while cold drops of water ran down his overheated skin. He turned to the fairy, face frozen in astonishment and confusion. The fairy merely smirked as she ran her fingers through his thick wet hair.
"Sit here and wait for me," she coaxed delicately, green eyes staring profoundly into dark ones.
Kili felt as if he were pulled in a charmed daze, watching Red the Fairy raise from the ground and walk away from him.
"Where are you going?" he called.
She turned her head in his direction, a wide grin etched on her lips.
"To rip our little pink friend's head off."
Kili blinked tiredly, his thoughts finally settling into his mind. He looked around the forest, taking in his surroundings. He tried calling for his brother and his uncle, but found that the words stuck to his tongue. The scorching air burned his lungs and the world around him spun rapidly. He tried lying on the ground, but the warm grass only worsened his state. He heard his companions laughing from somewhere far away; the sound blended with the fairies' chanting and the birds' twittering, carried away by the still wind through the leaves. The heat collapsed into his body, heavy and overwhelming.
When a cold sensation hit his lips, Kili gasped loudly and grabbed the thing so it wouldn't slip away. The cool sensation cascaded into his mouth, flooding his insides and filling him with a pleasant chill, dissipating the heat's spell. He stood up and looked at a small mug tucked into the palm of his hand. Kili stared at it, and then assessed the surrounding environments.
He couldn't find anyone near him, so Kili had to wonder where the mug had come from. He assumed that someone had brought it over to him and that it hadn't materialized out of thin air. He stared at his drunken comrades and ruled them out immediately. The fairies seemed even less likely. Kili briefly considered it might have been the Red Fairy's doing, but dismissed the belief as quickly as it came.
The young dwarf's ears perked up at the sound of ringing bells. The sound was weak, but Kili was sure he heard it. He turned back to the stream; there he noticed a tiny flower by the riverbank, a pretty thing with ruffled petals and the colour of ivory with the faintest blush of pink. Curiosity peaked, Kili crawled to the riverbank in order to pick the flower up; nevertheless, every time he got close to it, the non-existent wind would blow the flower away.
Kili huffed furiously, crawling more rapidly to keep up, "Blasted thing! Lay still!"
The flower stopped and looked him crossly in the eye, and that was when Kili realized it wasn't the non-existent wind moving the tiny flower, and that the tiny flower was in fact a tiny being. Had he not been taken aback, the dwarf would have thrown his arm in despair at this peculiar realm and its peculiar creatures.
They stared at each other for a long moment, the dwarf with flabbergasted eyes and the pixie with an offended expression. She then flew near his head, and only then did Kili notice her glimmering wings, and once she was close enough the little thing started berating him snappishly, though the only sound coming from her was that of a dozen bells being wrung at once. Kili held back a chuckle, for fear of irritating the pixie.
"Calm yourself, I meant no offence," said the dwarf, but the pixie would hear none of it. "Please, I beg of you. Forgive my insolence."
The tiny pixie went silent while giving Kili a piercing stare, hovering in front of him.
"Is this yours?" the dwarf questioned as he held up the mug in his hand; in response, the pixie looked away with her nose high in the air. "Were you the one who brought me water? If so, then I must thank you."
The pixie grew visibly angrier.
"You females are all the same," Kili muttered under his breath, looking away from the little creature, and then back. "Here," he smiled politely, handing the mug back to the pixie.
The tiny creature flew to his fist and studied the mug, as if considering if she should take it or not. Kili tried hard not to voice his frustration with her reluctance, until the pixie took the mug out of his hand and unflappably threw it in the stream. He stared at his empty hand, at the sneering pixie, at the flowing stream, and the cycle continued thus for a couple of times before Kili finally lost his temper.
"Why, by the heavens, did you do that? Are you not right in the head?" he shrieked while the pixie only snickered at his desolate expression.
Mumbling curses, Kili started for the stream. He did not, however, manage to take more than a couple of steps when the pixie grabbed hold of a considerable amount of his hair and started tugging on it violently. Startled, Kili cried out in pain.
"What are you doing, you damnable thing?!"
He grabbed furiously at the back of his head, fingers tangling in the mess of his hair. The pixie, however, persisted in its attempt to pull out the dwarf's hair, and succeeded after several other tugs. While rubbing the throbbing pain in his head, Kili stared disbelievingly at the sheepish fay that had his hair in her little hands. Within seconds, though, disbelief turned into fury.
"That amuses you? Let's see how you like it when I rip out your wings!"
He lunged at the pixie, which, of course, was very unwise, because the fairy easily flew out of harm's way, while Kili ended up landing on his head. The little fay's wings clinked merrily as she evaded the dwarf's feeble efforts at apprehending her, whereas Kili grew angrier with every excruciating hit he took. For our more cynical readers, please do not judge the dwarf's dragon-slaying abilities by his fairy-hunting ones. Obviously, killing a dragon of epic proportions will be considerably easier.
Kili fell on his knees, breathing heavily and glaring murderously at the pixie; needless to say, she was unimpressed. She did, however, hovered close to him, confident he wouldn't attack her, a goofy smile etched on her face, and good-old Kili found himself returning the smile. Soon enough they were both beside themselves laughing.
The pixie handed Kili his hair back, presenting an apologetic smile, and Kili received the peace-offering, the incident long forgotten.
"My name is Kili. What's your name?"
Looking left and right, up and down, the little pixie drew her finger to her lips to show the dwarf she was about to share with him an important secret, to which he nodded solemnly. They both crouched on the ground, Kili covering her figure with his hands, and the fay mouthed her name carefully so that he could read it.
"Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Plum," he smiled.
"Red lass!" Dwalin called when he caught sight of the red-headed fay.
As she approached the howling dwarf, Red took notice of her silent comrade's arm slung around the dwarf's tiny figure, and also several empty mugs of drinks that were probably far many than the dwarf could handle. Well, as long as he could talk…
"What should I call me new friend? He indicated that ye would supply a name."
"Most days he is called Grim," she replied, eyeing Grim disapprovingly.
"Tell me, lass, what has happened to his mouth? Why can't he speak?"
"He cut out his tongue so that he could speak lies. As punishment, our queen ordered that his lips be sewed together always."
Had Dwalin been in a normal state of mind, I imagine he would have been appalled by this piece of news. Since he was not, after the Red Fairy was out of hearing range, he turned to his friend and whispered, "Your queen sounds like a livid shrew," to which Grim nodded approvingly.
As Red made her way through the multitude of drunken fairies and dwarves, she reached the river side where Kili and Plum were whispering in conspiratorial voice and tinkle with dead-serious expressions and undoubtedly no-good motivations. Red stopped in their vicinity and regarded them with a ghost of a smile, whereas the two looked up with blank eyes.
"She tore out my hair!" Kili cried resentfully, showing Red the evidence.
"Be grateful you got it back."
Plum flew as close to Red as she dared, her little wings clinking rapidly as the pixie said things Kili could not begin to comprehend.
"What's Plum saying?"
"Is Plum its name?" Red inquired with a deviant gleam in her eyes.
Kili gulped, feeling a surge of panic, "I'm not telling you the rest of it!"
"I can guess the rest of it, though it wouldn't do me any good. If anything, it'll leave a bad taste in my mouth."
Kili glared, "What is she saying?"
"It's saying it was trying to keep you from drinking more water," Red explained in a bored manner. "If you drink too much, you die," and she grinned maliciously at the prospect, as if his death would delight her tremendously.
"I wasn't going to drink; I just wanted to give her cup back!"
"Well, you should have been clearer," she snapped pointedly. "If that is the case, you deserved getting your hair pulled out."
"Oh, never mind that!" Kili barked angrily, his face a hot shade of red. "Where are we? What is this place?"
"The Summer lands, Mag Mell,"
"At the Beginning of Summer."
"Oh, don't tell me. Does it stretch until the end of summer?"
"You're being ridiculous, dwarfling. That's where Tír na nÓg is."
"This is very confusing," blinked the dwarf.
"Hardly. Try better at keeping up," sneered the fairy.
He glared and she smirked while Plum sighed at their behaviour. She thought that, although it was all in good fun, maybe the Red Fairy wouldn't kill this one.
Luckily for her, we are reaching the end of the chapter, so Red won't get the chance. And by the next paragraph, a new set of characters will arrive, this time with sharp and pointy weapons.
"Run!" one of the male fay shouted above all the laughter. "Seelie guards are coming!"
"We need to gather your friends," Red said urgently and ran in long strides towards Bilbo to pick him up from the ground.
"What's happening?" Kili asked while trying to uphold his snoring brother.
While dragging Ori and Gloin by their feet, Red gave him a look of mild annoyance.
"You are deaf," she said.
Breathing deeply so he could calm himself, his brother and Dwalin in his arms, Kili persisted, "Why are the guards coming?"
"To kill us."
"Because we're trespassing," Red replied, at which point Kili dropped his comrades to stare irately at the Red Fairy.
"Can I have another fruit, Miss Red?" Bilbo sang happily from underneath the pile of drunken dwarves.
"Prithee, do tell how are we to escape our impending doom?" Kili asked, voice dripping with resentment as he assessed said drunken pile.
Red wasn't listening. Instead, she was gazing at the sun through tree branches that were thick with leaves. The clearing had emptied, no sign of its previous liveliness in sight. The sound of approaching footsteps did nothing to calm Kili's nerves.
"We're going to have to run."
"In case you haven't noticed, we can't very well-"
The forest had shifted back to Mirkwood. He recognized the looming darkness and polluted air. He blinked several times, not believing his eyes.
The rest of the company was beginning to wake up; everyone complained of throbbing pains and aching bones. There are no words to describe the fury that Thorin felt when he laid eyes on the fairy.
"There's really no time for insults. Impending doom is coming our way."
"I will never believe another word out of your mouth!"
"Honestly, you are stubborn."
The dwarves were sobering up and were backing the Red Fairy into a corner. Do not, however, think that the dwarves were scaring her in the least, but rather that Red was trying to flee the impending doom coming their way.
That is, until she caught her leg in an iron bear-trap.