Shades and Sunlight

Bilbo walked along behind his mother, watching as the Mortals gave tribute to her and the bountiful harvest that she graced with them with this season, their faces a study in joy and happiness as they laid their offerings in the temples that littered the city they were in. It was moments like this that had Bilbo wondering what it would be like to walk among them, to see what they would do if the son of the Goddess of the Harvest suddenly appeared in their midst...

Unfortunately, Belladonna was extremely protective of her son and rarely-if ever-let him go anywhere without someone watching over him; even with her steady and slightly intimidating presences beside him, there was still Fili and Kili off to the side, making their own fun as they kept rolling one poor Mortal's cabbage down off of the pile he had made, making him run after it again and again until Belladonna snapped at them to keep up with her and Bilbo.

Bilbo loved his mother dearly and understood that any mother would be cautionary with her only child, but some days it felt like he was living in a gilded cage, only to be let out on his owner's whim; even his garden, with its flowers and vegetables which were most definitely not hiding a vicious murderer that would slit his throat as soon as he entered, was watched over by two imposing guards that refused to even speak to Bilbo when he tried to engage them in conversation. It was maddening, but no matter how much he begged, pleaded, and even sulked about it, Belladonna was firm; her son was to be watched over, day and night.

It was because of this suffocating overabundance of protection that Bilbo was certain that he had no friends; Kili, Fili, and everyone else that watched over him did not count, they were guards and not friends, and most of them were there only because his mother had ordered them to be... There were days when he wanted someone to talk to so desperately, someone to share his deepest secrets and laugh at inside jokes with, someone to help ease the oppressive yoke of his mother's security from his back, if nothing else...

"Such deep thoughts fill the mind of the Son of the Harvest, brother."

"Yes, so deep that he has not heard us calling him for the past ten minutes."

Snapping out of his reverie, Bilbo turned to see that Fili and Kili had quit their torment of the Mortal and were on either side of him, wearing twin grins at his look of surprise; as the Gods of the Sun and Moon, respectively, their dual personalities were very evident and it still threw the Gods a little that Fili, God of the Sun, was the quiet one who would be happy with a book and a secluded corner while Kili, God of the Moon, was the boisterous one that was the life of the party and had earned a tongue lashing or two from his mother for his behavior...

Oh, and that rumor about the Moon God being chaste? Bilbo was of the mindset that they choose the wrong brother on purpose, just to make fun of the Mortals that choose him as their deity of worship... The brothers certainly had laughed loudly enough when they had been told of that rumor, leaning against the pillars of Olympus as if their legs could no longer hold them, and only stopping when Frerin had called them to order.

"There he goes again..."

"Perhaps we should call over Belladonna-"

"No!" Bilbo all but shrieked, startling both brothers with the vehemence of his denial, yet he didn't care to sooth their nerves at the moment; he knew, based on prior experience in the matter, that as soon as Belladonna caught even the slightest hint that there was something wrong with Bilbo-real or imagined-he'd be whisked off back to Olympus so fast that you would think that Bofur could hear his mother's very thoughts. The last thing he wanted was one of the few days he was allowed to walk among the Mortals cut short because he got lost in his thoughts. "I was just thinking about gathering some flowers to celebrate the Harvest, you see, perhaps even making a banquet for my mother; you just caught me off guard, that's all..."

Fili almost immediately looked over to where Belladonna was listening to a farmer thanking her for the crops that kept his family fed and saved his daughter from an illness that would surely have taken her life if she had not eaten of the Goddess' blessed bounty, his expression one of worry and caution... so not really noticeable from his everyday expression, except for those that knew him well enough to tell the difference. "I don't know, Bilbo... Belladonna has strict instructions regarding you-"

"Instructions that include he should have at least one escort when he is away from her at any time," Kili interrupts, not even bothering to look in Belladonna's direction and already pulling Bilbo out of the marketplace and toward the hills surrounding the village, "Dear Bilbo will have two on this little outing and they'll be with him the entire time, so why bother her with it when we know he'll be alright? Come on, Fili! Have a little fun for once in your life! You're a God, it's not like it'll kill you or anything like that!"

With a fond huff of exasperation at his brother's dramatics, Fili follows the pair out of the village and into the mountains, stopping briefly only to snag a few baskets to hold the flowers they will collect in, unknowing of the events that have already been set in motion, of the rumbling and shifting of their world going on right beneath their feet... A shift that would effect not only them, but all of the Gods and Mortals, perhaps in one of the most disastrous of ways...


Thorin was a rather darkly brooding kind of God, but then again, he was the God of the Underworld, so that quite went with the territory he ruled over. The subject of his thoughts, however, varied rather dramatically and would have his fellow Gods and Goddesses looking at him in either wonder or utter confusion; that would have had him laughing if he were in the mood, but he was never much in the mood for laughter these days...

These days, when the hall of his palace were filled with the unholy screams of the condemned and the fallen, his thoughts were of the shadows that were his only companions and the days where the echoes of his own voice were the only conversation that he had... These days were of darkness and of death, lingering around every corner and stealing the breath from ones lungs much like a sudden plunge into an icy lake; instantaneously shocking and mortally crippling...

It was true, that amidst the broken and punished of his realm there was the Elysian Fields, where the brave and worthy were sent to rest after doing heroic deeds or proving themselves one way or the other to the Gods... Thorin had paid a visit or two to some of the Mortals that earned their right to be there, but every one of them seemed uneasy at his presence, as if he were going to announce that they had lost whatever right they had earned to be there and he was going to throw them in with the rest of his miserable lot.

Needless to say, he stopped visiting after that, unable to take the forced hospitality and fear that his status earned him; it was a God's lot, especially one with such a reputation as he, to be feared and hated by nearly all Mortals. What bothered him was that fear seemed to be held for even the dead, and there were days that he was sick from the overwhelming monotony of it all, conscripting himself to his throne room as much as possible, weighed down with aversion so poignant he could almost taste it...

Raising from his throne with a growl, Thorin pulled his helmet from the dais where it rested and pulled it over his head, intending on riding through the hillside to give the Mortals a bit of a fright, to make them pulled their loved ones close, for to see the God of the Underworld was certainly a sign of a death to come... His helmet, curved and wicked like a raven's beak, helped that assumption along with a dark intensity that Thorin found he wanted on this bleak day.

Moving through his kingdom with the same silent stride as the shadows that clung to its walls, Thorin made his way to the stalls that held a single steed of the deepest black, a shade that almost had a bluish tint to it for the darkness of his color. Running a hand along the beast's side, Thorin readied his animal for travel, wondering at his lot and wishing that there was some way that he could change his life... Wishing, not for the first time, that it had been he and not Frerin that had drawn the beautiful Olympus, with it's halls full of life and laughter, as his kingdom to rule...

It was true that the Underworld was a land that had many riches, riches that even some of the other Gods had steeled themselves against their fear and distrust to barter with him for, yet there were precious few Mortals that dared to venture into the deep darkness of his caves and tunnels to coax the many brilliant stones out of the walls; there were even fewer that came back out again, because Mortals became careless in their greed, digging unwisely and sometimes too deep for the rocks to hold or did not heed the warnings that what they dug up might not all be diamonds and gold...

There was a reason he was known as both the God of Riches and Death.

His steed, almost as if hearing the dark direction his thoughts had taken, nudged his shoulder and made him give the animal a small smile that would have looked rather unusual on the God at any other time, but he allowed himself to relax around his horse, knowing that the animal would never tell anyone of his softer side... no matter how much Bifur asked the animal to tell him of Thorin's moods, nor when Balin tried to get the beast to carry him to Olympus against his will.

The beast was good and loyal, something that Thorin prided above all else, earning him the right to be the animal the God of the Underworld rode for both battle and pleasure alike; it was a well known rule among all the Gods that anyone trying to take anything from Thorin's domain did so at his own risk, the incident with the horse and Smaug a clear lesson on that showed everyone that he had earned his reputation among the Mortals as a man to be feared...

Mounting the creature, Thorin kicked the beast into motion, causing him to spring forward as if released from bounds; the steed also released a cry that might have caused many to cower in fear, but Thorin knew that the sound was more of joy than of rage, and it caused him to shout out as well as he prayed-as he did every day-that something would happen to make this day different than all the others of his rather long life, something that would block out the screams of the dying and the whispers that only seemed to come from shadows...

Little did he know that his wish was going to come true, and in a way he'd never expect.

Perhaps in a way that he would change, if he had the choice.

But that wouldn't make a very good story, now would it?