Balin stood on the front battlements of Erebor. His eyes were focused un-seeingly on the wide green fields and the bright silver river that flowed towards the newly rebuilt Dale. Fourteen years. It had been fourteen years since their heart, spirit and joy was snatched away from them in the Battle of Five Armies. For those long fourteen years the remaining dwarves of the original company had tried to build a life for themselves under the leadership of Dain. And they had managed to make a good one. There was plenty for all of them. They were properly recognized and rewarded for their amazing feat of taking back the mountain and for helping in turning the tide of the war. They had been given whatever they had asked for and even things they did not ask for. They were even given important posts within the hierarchy of the Mountain.

But Balin was tired to giving advice and teaching lessons that rang hollow in his ears. He had watched Dwalin teach the youngsters to fight but his passion was a mere glimmer of its former glory. Bifur had grown more and more silent and now barely spoke or gestured. And while Bofur was his usual optimistic self on the outside, his normally bright smile seemed both fake and strained. And Bombur had lost so much weight that he was down to half his former size.

They hardly saw Nori anymore since he was in and out of jail so many times in the past few years that for the last two he refused to leave. He sought out the company of the damp dark rather than the warm love of his kin. Dori and Ori had all but given up on getting their beloved brother back.

Oin and Glóin seemed to be the least affected at first, but Balin began to realize that Oin was never far from ale and that Glóin wore a haunted look in his eyes all the time and had started to become extremely protective of his son Gimili.

The company was tearing itself apart.

Balin tugged at his beard as the threads of a plan began to form in his mind. What they needed was a change of scenery. What they needed was to get away from the mountain.

"I think it is time to go and see our Burglar," Balin said to himself.