Theories exist that there is not just one world. For some, they think for each choice we make in life another universe is created. Out there somewhere in the vast cosmos there are different versions of people doing the things they wished they had or hadn't done. Aside from that however, there are those who think that the other worlds are vastly different. Things that in one world are considered works of fiction are quite true in others.
It's not easy to cross between the worlds. It takes a great deal of power to end up some place new, though who's to say anyone who has gone missing hasn't stumbled into another place. Which might explain why they don't come back. For a select few, all it takes is an accident and a new adventure is awaiting them. Willing or not.
To start this tale off, we follow some characters that we already know. In a world not like ours, but filled with the things that we often dream of. The company of fifteen. Where the tallest of them is an old and grey wizard who goes by the name of Gandalf.
"It seems we are still a few short, of having finding all the ponies." The wizard strolled along, puffing on his pipe as if he hadn't a care in the world.
"Well what did you expect? The darn things keep getting scared off. Who knows where they end up. We're lucky to have found five." Bilbo Baggins, the lone hobbit in the company spoke.
Bofur grinned as he walked along side the hobbit. "And who do you suppose should get to ride on the ponies laddie? Doesn't seem quite fair."
"I would assume you all would figure that out on your own. It'd probably best just to have them carry what gear we have left." Bilbo looked around at those in front of him. It was a group that he'd grown quite close to since his adventure started. A great lot of friends, despite his first impression of the dwarves. Dori, Ori, Nori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dwalin, Balin, Oin, Gloin, Fili, Kili, and their leader Thorin. All on a quest to slay a dragon.
"Perhaps we should put you up on a pony. You are the shortest of us all." Bofur laughed.
Bilbo looked perturbed. "I'll have you know I'm quite tall for a hobbit."
Gandalf chuckled at the comment and took another drag from his pipe. He blew out the smoke and watched as it twisted into a shape of a running horse and then vanished in the air. "It'll be getting dark soon. I think we should set camp somewhere."
Fili looked back at the wizard, one of the ponies reigns was tight in his hand, as to not let it escape again. "And where should we do that? The trees are so dense through here, there's hardly a spot to settle in."
"Up ahead it begins to thin out, near the river. That should do." Thorin said. The company walked along until the tree coverage wasn't as thick. From there they unpacked what belongings they had and set up camp.
"Don't you think we're a bit exposed here?" Kili asked. "I know there' still a good amount of trees surrounding us but...something feels off about this place."
"Ah you're just being over dramatic. This place is fine, it's not like we haven't had to pack up and run off in a hurry before." Balin leaned against the trunk of a tree and closed his eyes. He sighed as he settled into a comfortable spot.
The sky grew darker as night came upon them and Bofur began to light a small fire so they could start cooking dinner for the crew.
"Bilbo can you get the pot out, the fire is ready to go."
The hobbit looked over at the dwarf in the hat with a confused face. "No it's not."
"What?" Bofur turned around and sure enough the fire was out. "Now how did that happen?"
"Could be the wind?" Bilbo asked.
Ori looked up from scribbling in his journal. "There's no wind though."
Up high in the trees something watched the company. It smiled as it watched them puzzle over the fire and relight it. Silently it climbed on to the lower branches and like it had earlier blew out the fire.
"Again? Really?" Bofur gritted his teeth. "Just how is this happening?" He lit the fire one more time.
The thing covered it's mouth and stifled a laugh. Gandalf looked up into the trees. "We aren't alone."
"Wh-what?" Bilbo and the others looked around at each other, trying to find the answer.
Gandalf moved over to a tree and placed his staff near it. "It doesn't intend to harm us. I don't think at least." He looked up and squinted his eyes, "It's alright, you can come down. We won't harm you."
As the wizard spoke the rest of the company laid hands on their weapons, making sure to have them in close range in case the wizard was wrong. Gandalf sighed when there was no sign of movement from what was watching them. "I'll force you down if I have to." Still nothing. He raised his staff and whacked the tree with it. The tree shook and the thing screeched as it came hurtling towards the ground.
Before it hit it grabbed onto one of the lower branches to slow down its impact. It plopped on to the ground and stared out at the company. They were all quiet as they stared right back.
"It's a girl." Ori spoke up first. He lowered his sling shot and put it back in his pocket.
"Under all that dirt she might be." Balin put his weapon down. "Can we get on with cooking now?"
Gandalf stood above the young woman who he had just knocked out of the tree. She was in a dark blue dress that probably at one point was quite beautiful but now was torn and tattered up to her knees. Long blond hair was pulled back with a scrap strip of the dress, it was a matted mess with twigs and leaves stuck in. There were streaks of dirt that covered her from head to mud caked toes.
"And just who are you?" Gandalf asked.
The girl backed up against the tree, she wasn't sure of how to respond, how to react. She knew there was no reason to be afraid and yet she wanted to take off running.
"Well?" He asked again.
Her eyes scanned the company, suddenly feeling like this was the beginning of an interrogation. "I-I can't tell you." She finally croaked out. Trying to hide from the looks of the dwarves.
Gandalf frowned and furrowed his brow. "And just why not?" The younger dwarves looked curiously and the young woman who was trying to get behind the tree.
"I uh, I can't tell you cause I don't know." She dragged her fingers through her gnarled hair.
"Hm." Gandalf looked back to the company, "It seems this girl is in need of some help."
Thorin sheathed his sword and sighed. "What can we do? She'll only get in the way if we take her along with us." He turned away from the wizard and the girl and motioned to the rest of the group to put away their weapons.
The girl sniffed the air, a foul yet familiar stench filled her nose. Panic took over her. "You have to put the fire out!" She yelled.
"Not again!" Bilbo was starting to put together the stew.
"They're coming! You need to put it out!" She covered her nose, "Those creatures, they're horrible. If they see the fire they'll kill you."
The company froze and listened, there were sounds of movement from far off.
Thorin looked about, "Put it out." He said. No one moved. "Put it out!" He roared.
Bilbo rushed and threw dirt on the fire until it dimmed out. "What do we do now?"
The girl started to burrow under the leaves and dirt as if she had done it a thousand times before. "The earth, the mulch it'll hide your scent from them." Her hands scrapped through the dirt as she hid herself.
The company followed suit, pulling fallen branches and leaves on top of themselves. Bilbo had noticed that his sword started glowing blue as orcs grew near. The company was hushed under the dirt that concealed them.
Not long after they hid themselves a handful of orcs on their wargs ride past. Stalking the land in search of any stray travelers. They sniffed about but only found the faded scent of the dwarves. They hung around for a few moments, saying something back and forth in their language and then rushed off deeper into the forest.
The company waited a bit longer and then uncovered themselves. "Their sent is gone." The girl didn't bother trying to brush the dirt off herself.
The fire was lit once more and relief filled the air around the group.
"How'd you know how to do that?" Nori asked.
"I don't know, just instinct I guess. It's not the first time I've seen those things around." She stared off in the direction they had gone. "They just seem so evil."
Balin nodded. "You'd be right lassie. Orcs are nasty business."
"It seems Thorin that her great sense of smell and quick thinking saved us, perhaps she won't be much of a burden after all." Gandalf pushed the girl near the fire, so that the leader of the company could get a better look at her.
She was lost and out of place, it was written clear on her face she had no idea where she was or what was happening around her. There was something else though, something that remained to be seen in those naïve eyes of hers. Eyes that we're her most striking feature.
Thorin took in everything he saw, gauged her on her shy stance she took and the nervous way she twisted her fingers together. That she kept her face down and avoided eye contact. He made a decision and hoped it wasn't the wrong one. "Perhaps."