AN: Here's the final part. I may upload a short epilogue sometime soon…as I'm planning a sequel. There's lots of action in this part, and a fair amount of smut.
Pairings: Fíli/Kíli, Thorin/Bilbo, Dwalin/Ori, Bofur/Nori
Warnings: Angst, Violence, Smut, Fluff, Romance
Chapter 5 - Mânawenûz
The baby in his arms was a sweet thing. He had a tiny red face, eyes shut tight while he slept the day away. Each of his hands was smaller than one of Thorin's thumbs, and the King smiled at the remarkably strong grip Kíli held around his fingers. Such soft skin. It would be callused and hardened in a few years from play and sword training most likely. But for now, the little baby was unblemished, unmarred, born on the sacred day, and blessed by the Valar. A beautiful child.
Thorin shifted the boy on his arm, sitting down in a wooden chair as he rocked him. His fingers brushed through the little tuft of dark hairs atop the baby's head then moved down to touch the necklace that lay against his skin. The King played with the tiny chain that hung around his nephew's neck. He was a Prince of Erebor. How lucky they were to have two healthy little Princes walking their halls. And the people would be so overjoyed. Ever since Dís announced her second pregnancy to the Kingdom, the people had been bustling with excitement at the thought of another royal child. Even during the recent weeks, while his sister suffered from sorrow the residents had supported them, offering whatever they could to help in her time of need.
He looked up as the heavy doors were pried open. His youngest nephew heaved them in several tries, grinning as he managed to pass through the entryway, a strong one already. He approached with an excited skip, happier than he'd been in several months. The loss of his father had struck deep, and Thorin had done as much as he could to fill the void, but that was impossible. The birth of Fíli's baby brother however, seemed to have helped immensely.
"Where's your mother?" Thorin asked gently, reaching out to run a hand through Fíli's blonde hair.
"Sleeping. Master Oín said she's still recovering since it was a tough birth," the child replied, and he began to climb up on Thorin's lap. The King shifted again, lifting Kíli into his left arm, so that Fíli could rest against the opposite side.
"Aye, it was," Thorin muttered, hugging his nephew close while the boy looked down at his brother. The birth had taken well over a day, much longer than the Princess's firstborn. Her screams had rung out through the palace walls, guards cringing at her cries of pain. Master Oín had worked endlessly at her side, shouting orders and doing all he could to keep her comfortable. And she was still filled with anguish at the loss of her husband.
It had been an exhausting few months. Though Erebor was safe, and there was little suffering, unfortunately accidents still happened. It was impossible for the Valar to save everyone, and in this case they had chosen to protect Dís and her unborn child. But the little baby in his arms was a blessing in disguise. His sister's eyes had been alight with joy at the first sight of him. And Thorin was sure Víli would have been grateful he saved his wife and child. He would be blessed with new life, somewhere, someday, and his memory would never be forgotten.
Fíli poked at his brother with gentle fingers, touching along the baby's nose and prodding the necklace around his neck.
"What's this mean?" he asked, tracing the ancient words that circled the pendant.
"These are the words your great grandfather spoke before the Valar blessed us with Erebor. The gods names around the top, in Valarin, and a prayer, around the bottom in Quenya," he spoke, watching as Fíli's blue eyes took all of it in. Fíli thumbed at the thick symbols in the centre fondly and Thorin smiled at him.
"You know what that says right?" The King asked.
"Kíli," his nephew sounded out, before flipping the pendant over and pointing at the symbol on the back.
"And that's our family crest," Fíli spoke excitedly, looking up into his uncle's eyes.
"That's right," Thorin said, squeezing his nephew tightly. The boy giggled and squirmed a bit before looking back towards his brother.
"He's got papa's smile! And dark hair, like you and mama!" Fíli spoke energetically, but his face fell after a few moments.
"He doesn't have anything of mine," the boy whined, and Thorin tugged him close.
"That's not true Fíli. I'm sure he has your heart," The King whispered. Fíli thought about his uncle's words, reaching out a hand to place it on Kíli's tiny chest. It rose and fell much quicker than he expected, but when he pressed his ear there he could hear it, a steady heartbeat that sounded alongside his own. Fíli grinned and pulled away, tugging his baby brother's blankets tighter around him while Thorin watched. The blonde child pressed his nose against Kíli's soft one, and kissed him innocently.
"I'll protect you always Kíli," he promised, and Thorin vowed to do the same, for both of his beloved nephews, to the best of his ability.
The sun was bright and warm on his face as the Prince awoke that morning. He squinted and threw an arm across his eyes, heaving a long drawn out yawn. His body ached, as though he'd been walking the desert lands for several days, and he sat up gingerly and looked around. His room was in complete chaos. Broken glass lay strewn about the carpets and his possessions were spread across the floor. His wardrobe was in pieces and the clothing that usually hung so neatly inside was crumpled in messy piles on the ground. The curtains hung off the rod, draped mostly across the carpet instead of the window, allowing the brilliant rays of the sun to stream into his room.
Fíli groaned as he shifted, his feet catching on the sheets and throbbing in pain. Tiny shards of glass were embedded in his soles and between his toes and he chuckled as he remembered why. The Prince began the tedious process of plucking the slivers from his skin while his eyes wandered to the man that slept soundly beside him. His exquisite dancer was sprawled seductively across the bed beside him, breathing softly, looking every bit as wonderful as he had the night before. Remarkably, the moonflower still clung within the messy strands of hair, though its petals had closed back up into a lovely star shape sometime in the morning.
When Fíli pulled the last piece of glass from his skin he peered down and wiped away the remaining blood carefully. It stung, but it was worth it. He grinned and fell back on the bed, turning to face Kíli's relaxed face. Fíli kissed the other man's nose then pressed a tiny peck to his lips, his hand reaching out to caress the soft skin of Kíli's cheek. Even with the threat of oncoming war the Prince felt incredible. He felt alive, full of energy.
Fíli dragged his nose along Kíli's skin, and down his neck, before he sucked at it teasingly. The dancer stirred, just a little, a soft groan sounding deep in his throat, and the Prince began to kiss along his shoulder and down the side of his body. He reached the other man's hip, and stayed there, nibbling and licking the silky skin as one of his hands reached up under Kíli's golden belts. Kíli's eyes opened and he stretched with a smile as the Prince gripped his ass in a tight squeeze. Fíli opened his eyes and dragged his hand around beneath the many chains, pausing only when a small pendant fell from them to the bedding. The Prince's eyes followed the movement, widening in recognition and he pulled it up in a tight grip and roes from the bed in surprise.
"Where did you get this?" Fíli hissed, running his thumb across the familiar symbols.
"Hmm?" Kíli mumbled, his eyes slowly growing accustomed to the morning sun. Fíli faced him with a dark gaze, holding the pendant out towards him.
"Where did you get this?" the Prince asked again, his voice growing increasingly louder. Kíli blinked at the shiny object and sat up with a gasp, glancing frighteningly between it and the Prince. He couldn't speak, couldn't explain, and instead just stared blankly at the other man while the tension between them steadily grew. Fíli practically growled as he stood from the bed, kicking something on the floor away.
"Did you steal it?" he sneered, and Kíli recoiled. Never had he heard such anger in the Prince's voice, not even when he'd betrayed him and attacked him in these very same rooms.
"No!" Kíli shouted, tugging his feet closer to his body and moving to kneel on the sheets.
"It is mine! I've always had it, I swear it!" Kíli promised, and he attempted to move closer, reaching a hand out to the other man. Fíli stepped away, his eyes alight with rage.
"Don't lie to me!" He shouted, his chest heaving as he stared the dancer down.
"I'm not lying!" Kíli insisted, clenching his fingers tightly in the blankets, his eyes just as wild. Fíli frowned at him, and turned away, clenching the pendant in his fingers before he moved and began to get dressed. He didn't know what to think. Fíli's hands were shaking as he scrambled to find a shirt on the floor and his heart sank as he realised what he'd done. He'd slept with his little brother, took his virginity even. Kíli swallowed nervously as he watched the other man clasp his belts, the cutlass dangling dangerously from his side.
"Please, Fíli, I tried to tell you," Kíli whispered, as the other man pulled a shirt over his broad shoulders then began shuffling through the fabrics strewn about his room.
"I've…," Fíli started, running a hand through his hair, and then he stood in surprise and looked towards the man on the bed.
"Wait…you knew?" he asked heatedly, staring at Kíli in disbelief. The dancer trembled nervously beneath his heavy gaze and Fíli started to shake.
"I've lain with you!" he shouted, throwing his hands out at his sides. Kíli flinched, as tears filled his eyes.
"You knew and still you…you let me have you. Why did you not tell me? Are you a spy?" Fíli asked quickly, as he wrapped his wrinkled cloak around his shoulders.
"No!" Kíli cried desperately. His mind was in shambles. He should have been more careful, kept the pendant hidden. No…he should have told the Prince as soon as he discovered such information! Dwalin was right about him, he was a coward!
"I haven't known that long…I only just," Kíli stuttered, his eyes stinging from the salty tears pooling across them.
"You've known long enough!" Fíli bellowed, silencing the other man in a heartbeat.
"You knew last night when you sat upon this bed in nearly nothing!" The Prince yelled, and Kíli looked down as tears leaked from his eyes. The two remained in dead silence for several minutes, and then Fíli bent to lift his crown from the ground angrily. Kíli watched him place it on his hair before the other man rushed from the room.
"Fíli! Please! Wait!" Kíli begged, but the door slammed and he was left alone in the Prince's chambers. His hands opened and closed in the sheets, and he choked on a sob as he fell forwards onto the bed.
"Please," he whispered woefully, his shoulders shaking as tears ran down his face.
Guards watched worriedly as the crown Prince rushed down the hallways in the palace. Never had they seen him quite so upset, quite so obviously disturbed. His brow was set in a serious frown, and his feet pounded on the stone floors heavily, his cloaks billowing behind his form. Twice he walked halfway down a hallway before turning in the opposite direction, hand pressing against his brow. He was so torn. He wanted to go back, apologize for shouting at Kíli. He wanted to take him in his arms and welcome his little brother properly home. But then he remembered. They'd…made love, and it was perfect, and wonderful, but now…impossible. The thing that frightened him most was how much he still wanted to embrace the other man, kiss him, ravish him. He loved him, more than anything. His heart throbbed painfully as he walked slowly down the hall. He looked every bit like the King after a frustrating day.
Balin had just stepped from his study, as the Prince approached and he reached out to touch the other man's arm worriedly.
"Fíli…what's wrong?" the advisor asked, his gaze catching the Prince's and narrowing. He glanced down the hallway then tugged on the young man's arm, pulling him inside his study and urging him to sit. Fíli sagged into his chair while Balin pulled up another and looked at him patiently. The young Prince stared blankly ahead for a moment, and then growled, before he slumped forwards and clenched his hands in his hair.
"He's my brother," Fíli whispered, and Balin raised an eyebrow at him. Fíli looked up and sighed heavily.
"Kíli, he's actually…my brother," the Prince muttered, rubbing his brow with one of his hands.
"How do you know?" Balin asked gently and the Prince held out the pendant to him.
"He was wearing this," Fíli spoke, allowing the other man to take the necklace from his hand. Balin pushed his glasses up and pulled the necklace close to his face, reading the inscriptions with intelligent eyes.
"Thorin gave Kíli this, not long after he was born, I remember," the Prince explained as Balin turned it over to look at the insignia. Fíli waited expectantly for the other man's opinion, but the advisor merely raised his brow slightly.
"Wow," he murmured, continuing to observe the pendant before he handed it back.
"That's it, just wow?" Fíli asked, clenching the chain tightly.
"I don't really understand what the problem is," Balin admitted, sitting back comfortably in his chair.
"He's my brother," Fíli repeated.
"Are you…upset by this? Shouldn't you be happy? The lost Prince has found his way home again," Balin questioned, and Fíli shuffled uneasily in his seat.
"But…I…I love him, I've…we…," he stuttered and the advisor's expression softened.
"And does he love you?" Balin asked, watching as different emotions crossed the other man's face.
"I…do not know," Fíli whispered, and Balin chuckled lightly.
"Then you are a fool," he spoke easily, crossing his arms against his chest. Durins never failed to amuse. They were kind at heart, strong-willed and fierce when they made decisions. And yet, sometimes, they were so blind, unable to see something right before their eyes, clear to anyone that chose to look. Fíli gaped at him in surprise while the older man continued to laugh quietly, rubbing a hand through his long beard.
"You have a good heart Fíli, you have always been able to judge well," The advisor insisted, looking over his glasses, into the Prince's eyes.
"What is your heart telling you now?" he asked, and Fíli stared at him before lowering his gaze slowly. He recalled each and every moment spent in Kíli's company, the way the other man looked at him, placed his trust in him. The sacrifice he made to protect both Dwalin and him in the city core. And of course there were the words spoken in the fountain, words of love. Fíli remembered the tormented look on Kíli's face when he'd discovered the pendant in his hands, a fear, like no other, as though he was about to lose everything.
"That he loves me," Fíli whispered and Balin clasped his hands together between them.
"Then there is no wrong. Keep it secret my Prince, and no one shall be the wiser," he advised and Fíli played nervously with the chain between his fingers.
"You…won't tell my uncle? Or mother?" he questioned, a hint of desperation audible in his voice.
"The happiness of my kin is more important than anything else. I think you will find it is the same for our King as well as your mother," Balin claimed, and Fíli looked down towards the ground again. It was obvious he still struggled with the thought of feeling such emotions for his own brother.
"You gave him a name, when you first met. What name was that?" Balin asked as he moved to stand.
"My brother's name," Fíli affirmed.
"Perhaps you knew, even then, but were too afraid to believe. Love, my boy, it's a mysterious but wonderful thing, and best not wasted," Balin declared, patting the Prince on his shoulder. The advisor walked forward and reached to open his door, leaving Fíli sitting in the small room.
"Balin, thank you," the Prince's voice followed him as he left the room, and Balin smiled as he shut the door.
It took Kíli quite some time to compose himself enough to even move from the bed. He walked gingerly across the rich carpets, jolting occasionally as his feet stepped on broken glass. He was shaky and unfocused, and the occasional sob shook his frame. Kíli figured he must look absolutely dreadful, red-faced and blotchy. His hair was still an utter mess, along with the rest of his body from the night prior. He needed a bath, to immerse his entire form in water and wash away his worries. Though he doubted very much that was even possible.
Kíli pulled on what little clothing he could find, draping it haphazardly across his legs and shoulders, before leaving the Prince's chambers. No guards stood outside, curiously absent from their usual posts, and Kíli was grateful he need not look quite so shameful in front of anyone else. He hurried through the halls, trying to find his way to the baths without crossing another person's path, taking the longer but more vacant route.
Kíli wiped at his eyes, walking alone for the first time since he'd stepped foot in Erebor. He stopped at the end of a hallway and leaned against the cool wall. He'd walked much further than he thought, and the area was unfamiliar to him. He'd spent so much time in the company of others, following behind where other men led, that now, in the long halls he felt incredibly lost. Without even the surrounding chatter of palace residents Kíli found his mind wandering to dreadful thoughts, and he collapsed against the stone floor as his body shook with wretched cries.
His heart ached painfully as he thought about the man he'd grown to love so deeply. So long Kíli had dreamt of having a family to call his own. And yet now, he would give it all up, if it meant spending a lifetime with Fíli as his lover. But now he had ruined everything. Not only had he lost his lover, but also his brother. The Prince hated him, thought him a liar, and his disgust at the thought of their joining was so very apparent in his blue eyes.
Kíli stiffened as he heard quiet tapping approaching quickly down the hall. He stood, looking intently ahead, but no one was there. Still, the sound grew louder, and closer, and he shivered as it stopped not far away. He assured himself of his safety, after all, Dwalin had increased the number of guards at the palace gates several times as more attacks occurred. Not a soul could have entered undetected.
He swallowed thickly and struggled to calm his erratically beating heart, but it skipped as a drop of cool liquid landed on his shoulder. Kíli glanced at it in fear, then slowly turned his gaze above, his eyes widening exponentially as he looked into a gleaming decaying grin.
"Remember me?" the creature hissed, and Kíli ran, not wasting a moment of time. He slammed into the opposite wall, and steadied himself quickly, taking off down the hallway as fast as he could manage. He spared a glance backwards and nearly shrieked as the creature skittered across the passage on all fours after him. Its teeth were bared in a manic grin, and a terrifying laugh sounded as the thing chased after him. It was unmistakably the same monster that had threatened him in his rooms.
Kíli panted as he tried to figure out how it had breached the walls again, his heart racing as the clicking on the stone grew nearer. The dancer glanced back again quickly, taking in the grey, flaky texture of its skin, and the ragged cloak that hung from its body, and the way it clung to the ceiling easily. Of course! It had never even left the palace at all! Something so vile, and clearly half dead, would have easily been able to hide in dark crevices and corners within the walls.
He turned a corner, wider than he wanted, and flailed his arms into the walls for support, but the wraith caught him. It jumped on his body and Kíli fell to the ground with a cry, scratching with all his might at whatever he could reach. His nails came back caked with dirt, and the thing just laughed and smiled as it pressed him into the ground. Kíli flung his body up, and shoved it into the wall, as he slid backwards on his hands and knees. It shook its head then turned to him, crunching its body down and crawling towards him, and the two grappled against each other wildly.
Kíli pushed its face away even as sharp claws caught in an earring and pulled. The trinket tore from his ear and he screamed in pain, then struggled fiercely as golden jewels were ripped from his shawl. He fought with all his might, calling out for help in the empty halls, but the creature was mad with violence, and it threw him into the ground hard, slamming his head into the stone. Kíli dropped like a fly, unconscious, and his body went limp in the revolting clawed hands.
The scribe stormed through the palace, his eldest brother hot on his tail. He loved them dearly, but someone had slipped his secret to Nori, and now Dori had not stopped lecturing him for a moment since. It was driving him to madness!
"He's not good enough for you. He's violent, dumber than a brick, probably can't even read!" the apothecary insisted, shaking his hands and scolding the younger man in a stern voice. Ori seethed. Dwalin may not have been the most intellectually inclined, but he was a good man, a loyal man. He was strong, and surprisingly gentle. The scribe blushed as he recalled the tender kisses shared in hidden corners of the palace. And of course…sometimes things got a bit heated. He nearly forgot about his brother's presence as he thought about the tall guard's arms around him, then his frustration returned tenfold as Dori's voice penetrated his ears.
"I refuse to allow you to indulge in relations that have no future!" the older man shouted and stormed away from him, his fists clenched at his sides.
"It's my choice! I'm old enough! You can't keep-," Ori stopped suddenly as he spotted something on the floor. His brother stood behind him, nattering away, while Ori bent to pick up the jewel. It was one of Kíli's snake earrings! And there was blood on it! The scribe quickly glanced around the surrounding area, even as his brother continued to reprimand him, and he gasped as his eyes saw traces of blood on the ground as well as several golden charms from the other man's shawl.
"Are you listening? What, what is it?" Dori asked after his brother fell to the floor to examine the stone. The scribe held up the earring so the other man could see.
"This…this is Kíli's earring. And look, there's blood all over the stone here!" Ori gasped and Dori peered owlishly at the red substance strewn about.
"Find Fíli!" Ori shouted, taking off at a run, and Dori huffed but hurried in the opposite direction.
The members of the court sat around a table sombrely as they had for many days now, discussing their options. Bifur explained the progress he'd made, or rather Bofur explained for him, dabbling in objects that may give them cover, as well as the ability to negate some dark magic. He could turn lesser undead creatures into mortal beings, depending on the size and strength of the spell on them. It would at the very least give Thorin's army a fighting chance against the many small wraith-like creatures Nori had described. They sat stiffly, waiting for the response from neighbouring Kingdoms.
Fíli was tense and on edge, worrying about his brother, his beautiful dancer, and the state he'd left the other man in back in his rooms. The Prince had rushed back immediately after speaking with Balin, but Kíli was nowhere to be seen. He wasn't in the baths, or the gardens, nor was he out in the stables. The guards at the front gates had not seen him pass through, and the one Fíli asked to escort the other man was gone from outside his rooms, so he figured Kíli was at the very least, not alone. But still he worried, he wanted to speak with him, apologize for reacting so poorly, for causing Kíli to cry. Unfortunately he'd been summoned to join the court not long into his search.
The room fell silent as a loud squawk sounded from above, and Sanbaghud flew in the open slot in the ceiling and circled twice, before landing on Bofur's shoulder and flapping her wings. Several scrolls were tied to her legs, and as Bofur pulled the one slotted between her beak, the osprey began pecking at his neck for food. The tamer tossed him a few bites from a pocket then tore through the various messages, his eyes scanning the words quickly. He sighed heavily, tossing the notes across the table.
"Not one Kingdom has agreed to aid us, and the Iron Kingdom sent no response at all," Bofur drawled, slouching back in his chair. Balin snatched up the notes and scanned them over as well, while the others muttered amongst themselves.
"It seems we face this enemy alone," the advisor muttered, and Thorin sighed and rubbed at his closed eyes. So often Erebor offered aid to other Kingdoms in need, and yet, when such a foe was at their doors, no one came to help. He understood, the journey was far for many of the Kingdoms, and he could not forsake them for making such a choice. However, he had hoped the Iron Kingdom to the East would as least answer their plea.
"What should we do brother?" Dís asked worriedly. For many moments the King did not respond, remaining hunched over the table as he eyed the broken seals on the many letters strewn about. He wondered briefly if Thranduil would have put their differences aside to help in such a situation, if he would have sent an army to cross the dry desert land, as Thorin had many weeks ago. Thorin had little choice. The longer they waited, the stronger their enemy grew.
"Ready the armies. Bifur, gather your trinkets and distribute them, we'll plan to march three nights from now, after the sun sets beyond the hills. Perhaps the cover of darkness will aid us in our travel north. And Gandalf, I trust you have our approach covered?"
"Of course," the wizard assured him, grinning knowingly. Balin pulled out a map and they began discussing their plans thoroughly. Bofur was describing the land and pointing to a specific area on the map when the doors flew open and two men hurried through them. Ori nearly knocked the war plan from the table as he slammed his hands down on the ornate wood. The scribe was panting for breath and Thorin eyed him in surprise.
"He's gone," Ori wheezed, and the counsel eyed him in anticipation. Balin stood and offered him a chair, and the scribe collapsed in it in near tears.
"Kíli, he's gone," Dori explained for his brother and Fíli stood from the table in a rush, knocking his chair over.
"He ran away?" Fíli asked, eyes wide with worry. The guilt was audible in his voice and Balin spared him a quick glance.
"No! There's…there's blood, on the stone in the northern halls, he was taken," Ori spoke, and he held out the snake earring to the Prince. Fíli swiped it from his grasp then looked towards his uncle desperately. The Prince felt even worse, knowing his beloved had been taken, harmed, and he wiped at the drying blood with a shaky finger.
"Oh by the Valar, I promised to protect him," Fíli whispered, and Thorin frowned at him.
"How did one of them breach the walls again, Dwalin has extra men at every post. Each entrance is guarded constantly," Thorin muttered in frustration and the guard appeared to be trying to burn a hole in the table with his gaze. The King had thought his palace safe. But Kíli had been stolen again! And now, security was even more imperative, with so many children living within the walls, and of course Bilbo. Thorin growled and slammed a fist into the wooden table.
"Dwalin, gather up the children and the rest of the palace staff in the throne room, make sure they are safe. If one wraith has made its way inside, there could be more," Thorin commanded, and the soldier stood and stormed away. The Prince was squeezing the earring so tight in his hand, his fingers began to turn white, and Dís turned to embrace her son.
"Fíli, it will be alright, we'll get him back," she promised, looking towards her brother for confirmation. Thorin nodded and addressed the room.
"We'll go after him, forget the plans, we march now," The King ordered, rolling up the parchment on the table and tossing it to the side. The men rose, Bofur's osprey taking flight and flying out the roof. Then each of them left to make hasty preparations, while Thorin turned to his nephew and placed a hand on his shoulder. Fíli was trembling, a sea of emotions passing over his face.
"Uncle…I…he's…he's my brother," Fíli whispered, and he pulled the pendant from his satchel and wound it around the golden snake.
"Yes…I know," Thorin uttered, raising his eyes to look at his sister, and Fíli looked between the two in surprise. He spent little time contemplating the discovery, instead focusing on the current situation.
"I need to get him back, I can't lose him again!" Fíli shouted desperately, and Thorin pulled him close and held their brows together.
"We will," The King spoke, urging his nephew to calm down. They would have to be calm and focused if they meant to defeat their enemy. Thorin pulled Fíli into a tight embrace before he began moving from the room.
"There's…there's something else," Fíli called out from behind and Thorin turned to look at him, bracing himself on the door frame.
"What, what is it?" he asked, as the Prince looked down with realisation.
"He has the Arkenstone," Fíli whispered under his breath, and he heard his mother gasp from the side. Thorin said nothing for a moment, and then his deep timber shook the walls of the room as he shouted roughly.
The ground was surprisingly cold as Kíli regained consciousness. He shivered and blinked, his face pressed into hardened dirt. His head throbbed horrendously and he groaned and reached his hands up to rub at the back of his skull. He staggered to his hands and knees, fingers digging into the dirt, and paused as his foot dragged up along an irregular shape. Kíli glanced to the side and gasped, shuffling back, only to land with a crunch in a pile of bones. Skeletons were everywhere, and he kicked them away from his body frantically.
The dancer shivered, looking about the dark room his heart skipping as he realized another figure stood in the room with him. Kíli's eyes widened as he watched the obscure shadowy shape move and approach, bones crunching beneath its feet. Slowly its face came into view, ugly and dried, much like the wraith that attacked him in the palace. But this thing's eyes were far more aware, far more focused, and somehow that was incredibly frightening. It laughed languidly, a loud guttural sound that reverberated off the curved walls of the tiny cavern.
"I have to thank you, for sending me this lovely bit of information," it spoke, and bent down to Kíli's level, holding a tiny scrap of paper. Kíli gulped as he recognized his own scrawl, and the familiar words scribbled across he crumpled parchment. It served only to remind him of the Prince, and his betrayal. Kíli flinched as the creature's claws reached out to grasp his chin, pulling his face close, and he gagged as a sickening smell flooded his nose and desperately tried to tug away from the bruising grip. Kíli knew who this was. Azog. He'd heard others in the palace speaking of him, of his rebirth, how he was back from the dead.
"Thanks to you, I have almost everything I require. Now I need only wait for the Prince to stroll along, Arkenstone in hand," Azog hissed, and then he threw the dancer to the ground. Kíli coughed on the ground, and tried not to glance down at the chain that hung from his neck. He had to keep it safe, at all costs. Kíli refused to fail the one he loved yet again, to betray him yet again. He found his courage, and controlled the renewed pain in his head, turning towards Azog with a sneer.
"He won't come alone, an army will follow and your men will die," Kíli sneered, in a surprisingly steady voice. Azog widened his eyes and threw back his head, laughing long and loud. Kíli inched away, flinching occasionally as he brushed up against bones and other mysterious objects in the room. Azog continued to chuckle, and he bared his pointed teeth in a disgusting smile.
"I care little for my men, they are all expendable," he jeered, waving a claw around flippantly. Kíli observed that the elongated nails were just as yellow as his teeth, and just as caked with dirt as the rest of his body.
"He won't give you the Arkenstone!" Kíli shouted, backing into the wall, and leaning against it. He wanted to be as far away from that thing, as possible. Azog watched him with humour in his eyes.
"Oh, I think he will. Love is such a weak emotion," he drawled, and then he lifted an arm and spread out his fingers.
"Srinkh, bûrgulu-izub!" He grated, his voice catching gutturally in his throat as thick globs of saliva slipped past his teeth. And Kíli watched, terrified, as smoke lifted from the soil, and the bones around him took shape and slithered towards their commander. The skeletons jerked and writhed under his control, as flesh formed around their wretched bodies. Kíli's eyes widened as he realised they were snakes, and he flinched as every single one turned to look in his direction. Their eyes blazed a frightening red colour, and as they slithered across the ground, pieces fell from their bodies in chunks. There must have been at least fifty of them, and Kíli pressed his body flat against the dirt wall behind him.
"Beautiful, aren't they? My faithful servant tells me you like to dance with snakes, I believe you met him, Ash. I'm afraid he has a bit of a thirst for blood," Azog drawled, and Kíli recalled the terrible gouge in Dwalin's arm after their encounter with the wraith in the streets. Azog flicked his wrist, and the serpents began to approach, hissing violently. Kíli panicked, sliding across the ground, and tripping over loose rocks as he huddled into the farthest corner. Azog laughed at him and eyed him with a leer.
"Tell me, can you charm them all?" The beast hissed and his raucous laughter sounded throughout the cavern.
Erebor's army rallied outside the palace while Thorin met with his counsel in the throne room. He looked at the children and workers gathered in fright and knew they could not remain behind unprotected. If one wraith managed to breach the walls, there could be more already within the palace, waiting for the right time.
"Balin, Dwalin, I need someone to stay behind with a group of soldiers. Protect the children, keep the palace safe," Thorin commanded, and the brothers nodded and moved to gather the men they required. Bilbo approached from the side, a sleeping child cradled in his arms, and Thorin's eyes softened at the smaller man.
"Can I not help somehow?" the jeweller asked, but Thorin shook his head.
"Stay here, the children need you. Be safe," he ordered gently, then leaned forwards to press a kiss above his ear.
"And be here when I return," Thorin whispered to the other man, before pulling away and turning to his sister.
"Dís, stay as well," the King commanded, but his sister glared at him and crossed her arms angrily. She stood battle ready, dressed in the same billowing pants the rest of the soldiers wore about their hips. Her hair was tied back in a severe braid and several weapons clinked about her waist while she gripped a long spear in her hand.
"You're a fool if you think I won't go after my son, especially since I cannot trust you to do the same, not while your precious stone is at risk," she hissed. Thorin's eyes widened slightly at the accusation and he struggled to respond. The words struck painfully. It was true he was greatly worried about the Arkenstone falling into the wrong hands, but he cared deeply for his nephew and would do anything in his power to get him back.
"Dís …I," Thorin stumbled over his words uncharacteristically, and his sister turned her back to him, leading the way out the front gates.
"Let's go, the longer we stand here, the more likely my son is harmed," she spoke fiercely, loosening her scarves and tightening the heavy belt that hung from her waist.
"We'll need that blasted wizard, someone fetch Gandalf," Thorin commanded, but as he stepped outside the wizard stood directly before him, ready to go.
"Why, I'm right here Thorin," Gandalf said with a smile, and the King's eyes widened as they travelled to the army of birds that frolicked about behind the tall man. They were huge and had feathers of the purest white the King had ever laid eyes on.
"Varda's Theryn !" Bofur gasped, moving forward to examine the gigantic beasts. He ran his fingers through the soft plumage and rushed about them, looking from every angle.
"I thought them a legend!" the tamer whispered as the bird he stood next to stretched out its wings, exposing the delicate feathers spread in a line. They sparkled under the setting sun, and glittered just as the stars amongst the skies.
"Ah, yes, a legend, just like Erebor's beloved Arkenstone. There are many secrets in Šebeth. Did you think your gods were the only Valar to walk these lands?" Gandalf asked with a mysterious twinkle in his eyes. The King composed himself, and turned to the awestruck men and women around him. His army seemed sceptical about even approaching the animals, leaving a wide birth between their bodies and the creatures before them. Thorin frowned as he glimpsed their sweating faces. If Dwalin stood beside him, the soldier would tear the army apart for daring to tremble in the face of a bird, no matter how powerful.
"Soldiers! You cower in the face of such legendary beasts, and yet you expect to fight a war?" Thorin bellowed, drawing the attention of his army in a heartbeat. The soldiers lowered their heads in shame and looked at each other sheepishly.
"Our enemy is heartless. The undead soldiers care little for your pitiful, worried minds. We cannot afford to show a hint of fear. Stand tall, stand confident, we must be unwavering in the face of death! This is what you have trained for, worked years for. Think of your families, your people, the Kingdom you fight to protect," the King shouted, and his men straightened and shouted out to the skies.
"Mahmazar!" The soldiers yelled, raising fists into the air. Thorin's eyes blazed with pride and he shook his own fist heartily as he moved down the steps towards the army of Theryn and men.
"Tonight we fly amongst the Valar! What is there to fear?" He cried out to the skies, and his men cheered with him and approached the birds with renewed daring.
"Let's go," Thorin uttered, and at his heavy command, the army mounted up and flew into the sky.
The plains moved rapidly beneath the flapping wings of the great white creatures. Several men gripped the backs of each bird, holding on for dear life as the wind swept through their hair and coverings. In truth it was exhilarating. The Theryn held such power in their wide wing spans and the men felt it with each flap of their wings. Thorin's beast flew up next to the wizard as they approached the desolate lands of the North, and from the skies, the King could see a large rune etched into the sand outlined by rocks and rubble. Not a single form was visible on the widespread barren land. It seemed Nori had spoken the truth when he mentioned an underground lair.
"Are you sure they cannot detect us?" Thorin asked the wizard as the birds circled above their target.
"The Theryn are incredibly gifted creatures Thorin. From below, I assure you, we appear as nothing more than the night's sky, the gift of the Goddess Varda," the wizard spoke. Thorin waved a few of the beasts towards him which carried some of his counsel before explaining their approach.
"Nori, you'll drop down with Bofur and Fíli, and search out further entrances, cloaked by one of Bifur's enchantments," Thorin commanded, and the three men struggled to mount the same animal. Bofur glanced fearfully at the ground far below as he jumped to the bird gliding beneath his. He laughed and rolled into the thief, and Nori shoved him away with an annoyed grunt. Bifur began to wave his hands in a complex motion while he murmured and chanted.
"I don't feel any different, are you sure this is working?" Nori asked and the warlock glared at him.
"Don't worry, it's working," Bofur reassured him, as Bifur lowered his hands to finish the spell.
"It won't last forever, be quick as you can, and try to locate Kíli in the tunnels. We'll land as you enter, and draw as much of their army to us as possible," Thorin explained in a steady voice.
"Mark the entrances you find with these," Dori insisted, dropping a pouch into his brother's hands, and the thief pulled out several tiny red globes. When he twisted the objects in his hands they lit up with a brilliant flame. Nori tossed the bag to Bofur and the eagle flapped its wings and began the descent. Thorin nodded at his nephew and Dís watched teary-eyed as her son grew smaller while the Thoron flew towards the desolate ground.
The creature landed, surprisingly gracefully considering its size, and Nori jumped from its broad back into the sand below quickly. The Prince and tamer followed behind as he searched the rocks for familiar etchings. His fingers dragged through the sand, scratching at markings as he moved wraith-like across the land. Nori stopped suddenly, Bofur running into his back while the Prince stood off to the side. The thief glared at the tamer then signalled to remove one of the orbs. Bofur tossed it to him and Nori twisted it and slammed it in the ground before moving again.
The trio continued for nearly twenty minutes, splitting up once they all knew what to look for, and finding a total of nine possible entries and exits. Bofur signalled that they were done, and the three moved to the northernmost entrance to begin their search for the missing dancer. Just as Nori pushed the tiny niche in the stone down, and the three men jumped into the dark passage, the army descended, heavy flaps sounding in the air and loud thumps pounding the ground as the large birds landed in the sand. And the ground shook.
Sand slunk down into the tunnels as several of the entrances opened and shadows rose from within. Thorin signalled the army to split up into several formations as wraiths poured from the ground. Dori threw a bunch of tiny balls onto the dry sand, thick deep green smoke billowing out from the spheres. The apothecary ran along with Bifur to each of the entrances, taking care not to be seen by the wraiths as they tossed more of the objects down the open tunnels. The creatures that climbed from the channels crawled in masses towards them, ignoring the smoke and rushing in the direction of the men.
The army stood ready, refusing to tremble at the quaking of the earth and the sight of their enemy billowing across the ground towards them. As the wraiths approached, the King pulled his long sabre from its scabbard, the metal glinting under the light of the moon. His soldiers followed the motion, raising bows to aim, and pulling out a wide array of blades, the sound of clinking metal echoing across the plain. Dís raised a heavy spear over her shoulder and threw out her arm to aim, while her brow lowered in determination.
"Enough of this waiting!" she yelled, a loud groan leaving her throat as she hurled the spear hard into distance, right into the chest of one of the dark creatures. It screeched and writhed on the ground and the soldiers gasped as it fell to the sand and scratched at its own body.
"They bleed!" one of the men shouted in excitement, and several of the soldiers released arrows into the mass of creatures, cheering as they fell and thrashed when hit.
"It's working!" Thorin whispered and the warlock and apothecary huffed as they stood at the King's side.
"You doubted us?" Dori asked, raising his brow and Thorin smirked, then his eyes widened as his sister stormed from his side, charging into the sea of creatures as she pulled tiny daggers from her belts.
"Dís!" Thorin cried out after her, and then he sighed and followed in her stead swiping at every creature he ran by. His army marched beside him, battling atop the dry land furiously.
Nori led the other two men through the tunnels best he could. They were unfamiliar to him, a completely different set of winding pathways than the ones he'd travelled through previously. They flattened against the walls as dirt fell from the shaking of the earth and hoped the dark creatures were occupied elsewhere. However their cover was short-lived, as they felt the spell fading from them, and almost immediately, a small group of shadowy ghouls gathered at the end of the tunnel they moved through.
The three men stalled, and Bofur pulled one of the dark grey spheres from his pouch and threw it down the dirt path. The shadows charged at them, running straight through the green smoke, and Fíli pulled two long cutlasses from his scabbards and braced for the attack. The Prince swung wildly, Bofur flattening his body to the ground as the other man cut through the shadows around them. And Nori threw daggers into the group as the tamer pulled a long scimitar from his back. They easily tore apart the tiny creatures, moving quickly down the tunnel. At the end, Nori took off towards the left, the other two men following behind with blades in hand.
This time their enemy came from behind, and Bofur tossed another sphere back into them. There were two wraiths, larger than before, that crawled awkwardly along the walls, the elongated limbs folding at unusual angles as claws scraped across the dirt. Nori threw a knife into the head of one, and its body split, then immediately sealed back together again. The three men gaped, their weapons hanging loosely from their fingers.
"It doesn't work on these ones!" Bofur shouted, urging them to move away.
"The magic must be too dark, hurry, run!" he insisted, and they started tearing through the tunnels madly. Nori led the way again, skipping across grooves and taking turns at random. Then Bofur ran right into his back as he bent to the ground and stopped.
"Nori, what the hell are you doing? We have to move!" the tamer hissed, but the other man just brushed his fingers across a symbol on the wall.
"I left this mark here! I know where we are now," Nori spoke excitedly, turning to gesture the others to follow. He stopped again not far away, touching yet another mark on the wall.
"Is that…a fang?" Bofur asked, peering closely at the triangular shape and eyeing the thief curiously.
"Shut up! Follow me," Nori spat, ignoring the tamer's smug smile, and they ran until they reached a crossroads. The three panted and Nori pulled the Prince towards him and pointed down the tunnel to their right.
"Fíli, go that way, turn right at the end of the hall, then right again. I'm betting Kíli's in the room beyond! We'll draw them away best we can," the thief explained and Fíli was off, his blade in hand and a determined look on his face. Nori turned, peering around the corner carefully only to draw back in shock as a ghostly claw reached out towards him, a long piece of sharp bone thrusting out of its palm. Bofur threw him down on the ground, twisting his blade towards it and pushing the thing off to the side. Then he was grabbing the thief's scarves and tugging him down another tunnel as both creatures turned to follow.
"You nearly lost your other eye!" Bofur chided, tugging the thief close and observing his shaken demeanour. Nori glanced behind them with wide eyes at the approaching forms.
"How are we supposed to kill shadows?" he whispered under his breath and Bofur let him go, searching his pack hysterically.
"Whatever you're looking for…hurry…hurry!" Nori hissed from his side. Finally Bofur pulled a scroll of parchment, quickly unravelling it and throwing it against the ground.
"Athhôrumun! Uzndashûh!" The tamer shouted, and Nori gasped as a thick cloud of smoke rose from the paper and a flock of shadowy crows flew from it and down the tunnel. The sound of flapping wings was loud in the tiny space and the shadows screeched and tore at each other, the birds managing to overthrow the other creatures.
"Hah! We fight shadows, with shadows, my lovely thief," Bofur spoke, backing away and grabbing Nori by the front of his tunic. The thief growled at him disdainfully, but then continued running through the channels. Their feet hammered against the soil, as the earth above them shook from the fighting above. Nori glanced up at the crumbling dirt, swallowing as the land trembled menacingly, momentarily forgetting to watch his feet. And in that moment he felt his foot slip into a niche, and the ground shifted slightly beneath it. Nori's eyes widened and he wrenched Bofur back, throwing the other man's body to the ground.
"Get down!" Nori shouted, as the walls crumbled and spikes shot out from within them. Bofur yelled as his body hit the dirt, and his eyes widened as the sharp spears stabbed the air above his body. Nori twisted his limbs awkwardly around the jagged points, just barely managing to manoeuvre between them. His hands clung to two spikes, one foot braced on the wall, as the other hung between several, and a tiny scrape seared across his thigh.
"Shit!" Nori seethed, glancing down the tunnel then towards the tamer on the ground.
"Are you okay? I forgot about the traps!" he asked, and Bofur kicked his legs up breaking, some of the spikes above him. They crumbled and snapped and he ripped a few from the walls with his hands.
"Been better," Bofur grunted, coughing heavily, and he managed to clear enough space to sit as he examined the white points closely.
"They're made from bone," he whispered, turning to watch as Nori slunk down beside him. The thief breathed in deep and dabbed at the wound on his leg ignoring Bofur's worried glances, and then he reached into his hidden pockets and pulled out a tiny cube.
"What's that?" Bofur asked, watching as tiny markings lit up on each side. Nori split it in half, and then tossed one part down the tunnel, sitting back and placing the remainder on the ground between them.
"It'll let us see around corners," he spoke calmly, watching as the image cleared before them.
"Where'd you get something like that?" Bofur asked apprehensively. He'd seen his fair share of magical items in Bifur's dungeon, as he liked to call it, but nothing that looked quite like this.
"I may or may not have stolen it," Nori hinted, a tiny smirk forming on his face and Bofur chuckled along with him. The thief bent, looking intently at the channels in his artefact. It seemed Bofur's birds had cleared away the other creatures fairly well but he could barely see something moving in the distance. His eyes narrowed and he leant even closer as he realised it was crawling across the top of the tunnel. But this one had shape; it looked like a man, sort of.
"What on earth is that?" Bofur asked, pulling the image towards his face. Both men gaped as manic laughter sounded through the tiny pathways and Nori shivered as chills tingled across his spine.
"Got anything else in there of use?" the thief whispered, and Bofur hastily shuffled around in his pack again.
"Of course, kick out more space," he spoke softly, pulling another scroll and placing it on the ground. Nori grunted as he knocked away several of the spikes, giving them fighting room. They were trapped and unable to move through the tunnel, spikes blocking the rest of the way. They would have to defeat their enemy where they were.
"Athhôrumun! Upndarûr!" Bofur chanted, and this time two growling tigers appeared from within the smoke. Nori fell back in surprise, as the giant cats struggled to fit in the confined space with them, heavy paws sliding across his form.
"My kitties," Bofur voiced, moving to greet both heartily before preparing his scimitar. The tigers hissed in the direction of the wraith, and Nori looked frightfully at the ceiling as skittering footsteps approached quickly. The laughter was menacing and Nori scrambled to pull out two knives as he slid out from under the cats and kicked more of the spikes away. And then he froze as heavy breathing sounded from above. The men and cats looked up as one into the glowing eyes of a wretched undead….thing.
"Oh Arômêz, save us," Nori sounded, inching back, then shouting as it fell towards him. Nadir turned, wrenching his teeth into the arm of the wraith, tearing flaking skin from its body. The creature barely noticed, reaching towards Nori and shoving sharp nails into his shoulder. He screamed, flinching back into the ground and shoving his knife into the side of the thing at random. Bofur sliced down across its head, watching as it crumbled and fell into dust on the ground. Nori coughed and gasped as the hand still tightened in his shoulder, tearing viciously at his flesh, and then flesh formed at the creature's shoulders, twisting and forming until two eyes and a grinning mouth appeared. It smiled, baring its pointed teeth and laughed in Nori's face before thick black smoke poured out into the thief's nostrils.
"What the…," Bofur trailed off, and then he dropped his scimitar and pulled at the creature's back instead. Nori kicked upwards, knocking the disgusting thing from his body while he coughed and Bofur threw it into the spikes across from them. It twitched and writhed on them, laughing all the while, and Nadir and Karida took the chance to attack. They pulled limbs from its body and nearly the entire creature fell to dust. Bofur rushed to the other man's side, pulling at the fabric of Nori's shirt.
"Let me see!" he urged, but Nori pushed him away and pressed fingers to his bleeding wound. He was shaking, and his thoughts were scrambled.
"Get off, I'm fine," the thief insisted, eyeing the dusty remains of the creature not far away. Already it was taking shape again, claws inching across the ground to join together with its decaying body. And when Nori blinked he could see other creatures crawling across the ground towards him. He looked towards the tamer and flinched at the sight. Bofur's eyes were blazing red, and he was ghoulish in form, decrepit just like the creature that had attacked them.
"You're hurt Nori, let me help," Bofur insisted, reaching forwards to grab the other man's arm, but Nori shrugged off his grip and pushed him away hard.
"Don't touch me!" he hissed as the tamer stumbled back, looking at him in shock.
"What's wrong with you?" Bofur asked. Nori drew into himself, pulling his scarf back around his shoulder. He walked closer to the spikes, standing as far away as he could manage while his eyes veered to the now visible yellow teeth of the wraith and back to the tamer.
"Why are you doing this now? I'm just trying to help! Can't you see I care about you?" Bofur insisted, throwing his bag to the ground while his tigers jumped between the two fighting men. The cats were torn between hissing at the wraith as it struggled to pull from the points, and standing at their master's side.
"Y-you, you're not Bofur. Stop lying! Get away!" Nori insisted, pressing his fist into his shoulder tightly and gripping the side of his head with his other hand. The tigers growled at him, vicious shadowy forms walking slowly towards him as they scratched at him with elongated claws.
"Get your beasts away from me!" He shouted quickly, stumbling across the dirt. Bofur eyed him in confusion, unsure what to say to such a statement. Nori slipped on the ground, looking around in fright as terrifying shapes took form before his eyes.
"Nori, you're not yourself, it's done something to you. Please, you need to calm down," the tamer pressed, sliding across the ground, his tigers at his knees.
"Get away from me!" Nori screamed, and his feet slipped across another smooth tile on the ground. The floor trembled and the thief raised his arms to his face as the ground exploded up in between them. Bofur flew to the ground, shouting at the impact, coughing at the smoke and groaning as one of his tigers landed on top of him. He heard Nori's shout of surprise, and the whimpering cries of a tiger, but he could barely see two feet in front of him. Spikes littered the ground beside him where they'd been knocked from the explosion. Bofur rolled onto his front, Karida sliding off of him and struggling to her feet. He was tired of getting thrown around so much in these blasted tunnels.
The tamer crawled forwards, until his fingers met with fur and he shook Nadir's body and urged him to get up. Soon the wraith was going to attack again, any moment now, and after such a big explosion there would likely be more. But his tiger didn't move, and Bofur frowned and moved around him, dragging his hand through Nadir's thick fur. Then he paused as his fingers ran up against moisture. Bofur's hands trembled atop his tiger and he pulled them back to look at the thick red liquid that dripped across them.
"No…," he whispered, moving around in a hurry to his tiger's head. He lifted the animal's jaw, and looked into unblinking eyes.
"No! Nadir!" Bofur shouted, screaming across his beloved friend's body, and tears dripped down his face as he struggled to find the wound and stop the bleeding. Karida licked across Nadir's fur desperately, wretched little whining noises coming from her throat. It was too late; his tiger was dead, broken shards of bone piercing his body and a large gash across his side.
Nori looked ahead, his vision suddenly clear, but he could feel a searing pain in his chest. The thief glanced down, gasping and choking as he observed the white spike that penetrated his body. Blood dripped around the serrated bone, and he gagged, looking up at the tamer, crouched and shouting over his tiger's limp body. He couldn't hear anything but a steady ringing in his left ear, he couldn't feel anything but the numb throbbing in his chest, and Nori's mind blanked as he realised what he'd done and that he was probably going to die.
The army held their ground fairly well, until one of the foot soldiers stumbled across a mark in the sand and the field erupted around them. Soldiers fell to the ground in pieces and Thorin remembered quickly that traps covered the land sporadically. The King fought alongside his sister while Gandalf rushed around the battlefield, attempting to disarm as many traps as he could find. Bifur moved between the rows of soldiers, summoning beasts to help in the fight and when a large group appeared from the western entrance he tossed a scroll on the ground and pressed three fingers atop it.
The warlock made several complex hand movements with his other hand, and fire flew up from the ground, circling their enemy and burning their shadowy flesh. Bifur smirked and moved along while the soldiers cheered at their success. The men heaved their weapons into the ghostly forms one after the other against a seemingly endless army. They were growing tired, after such a constant battle, and Thorin shouted to rally the forces even as two human looking forms crawled from the tunnels. Arrows soared through their bodies, and they walked through them, not a care in the world. The one on the left stood ten feet tall at least, and a man rushed towards it and drove a sword through its gut. The creature watched passively, before raising an arm and swiping the soldier to the ground. It tore the blade from its body and threw it into the army, cutting a man to the ground in one shot.
"We can't kill them Thorin," Dís shouted worriedly as the other creature charged straight at her. She screamed as its teeth tore into her arm and chewed the flesh from her bones and Thorin swiped through it with his blade. It crumbled into dirt atop Dís, before pushing from her body as its own reformed before their eyes. Dís pressed fingers to her arm desperately as the wound bled, and she staggered to her feet, her brother standing fiercely at her side. The other beast moved slowly through their forces, its feet thumping and shaking the ground with each step as it threw men to the ground and took arrows and spears to its body without flinching.
The King signalled his men to fall back and regroup, and they gathered best they could while the creatures followed and attacked at random. Gandalf raised his staff and lowered it to the sand, a blast of power emanating from the ground and knocking their foes from their feet. It did not stall the enemy long, but it was enough to allow the men to fall back and form a line together. Thorin shouted to the army and they charged again into battle, taking down the creatures they could while the two undead beasts attacked through them repeatedly. The King cringed at the screams of his men as their bodies were torn and thrown to the ground and he glanced at his sister worriedly while she breathed heavily at his side and gripped her bleeding wound. They were overrun. It was an impossible fight, and he struggled between calling his army to fall back and run and ordering them to fight to the death.
Thorin sliced desperately through another beast, and knelt in the sand. The ground was shaking again, and he looked around in fear. But instead of wraiths and dark creatures, horses with riders appeared from the East, charging into the battle and shooting down enemies like flies. Even the hulking creature became confused under so much pressure and Thorin rejoiced.
"Dain!" he shouted, as the other King rode up beside him, sword in hand. Dain jumped from his horse and pulled Thorin up from the ground, tugging him into a quick embrace.
"Thorin," he said with a nod, bracing for an onslaught of enemies.
"I thought you would not come," Thorin shouted, even as he sliced through his foes, and the other man laughed heartily, stabbing fiercely down at a creature beneath him.
"Of course we came. I'm sorry, I did not have time to send a reply. Our armies began the march immediately," he panted, swinging his blade aggressively. Thorin grinned and fought beside his friend, and Dís lifted her blade and fought through the pain to help.
Dwalin charged through the halls of the palace frantically. He'd been in the throne room, with everyone else when he noticed a particular man was peculiarly absent. Ori hadn't seen fit to show up it seemed, and the guard was distraught with worry, though his appearance said otherwise. His brow was furrowed angrily, and he stormed in a rage through the halls, finding the library doors with ease. He pushed them open and charged into the centre of the room, where sure enough, the scribe sat cross-legged atop a table.
"What are yeh doin' in here? I've been lookin' for yeh everywhere!" Dwalin bellowed, and Ori cringed slightly under his gaze. The smaller man looked down and tugged a thick tome to his chest, the sleeves of his robe hanging about his fingers.
"The books…settle my mind," Ori muttered and Dwalin deflated immediately, stepping closer to the other man and placing his hands on the table on either side of him.
"Yeh should be in the throne room, with the others," he spoke gently and Ori continued to look down while he worried his lower lip.
"Dwalin, what do you see in me?" the scribe asked, looking up into the guard's eyes. Dwalin frowned at him in confusion.
"I'm no fighter, I'm not strong, I'm a coward, and I know you hate cowards," Ori stuttered, tugging his book even tighter.
"Yer no coward. If yeh were, yeh wouldn't be sittin' here all alone," Dwalin insisted, tugging the other close to his chest. Ori nestled against him, setting his book aside to tug at the larger man's shirt.
"Yer smart, attractive, kind. I'd be lucky to have yeh," Dwalin spoke as he twisted his fingers into Ori's scraggly hair. He didn't know much about such things, but he knew his heart beat faster whenever he looked at the little scribe, that he stumbled over his words half the time when they spoke. He felt an awkward pain in his chest when Ori sniffled against him, and knew he never wanted to feel it again.
"I should be askin' what yeh see in a big oaf like me," the guard admitted, and Ori chuckled against his chest, wiping away a stray tear. The sound brought a smile to Dwalin's face and he pulled away to study the other man's expression.
"I'd make love to yeh right here, if yeh'd let me," Dwalin uttered, a dark red blush rising up his neck and filling his cheeks. Ori gaped at him in embarrassment and turned his face away, curving his shoulders forward slightly. The guard coughed nervously and rubbed at the back of his neck while Ori played with his sleeves. He shouldn't have said something quite so forward, but it had slipped out. After a long awkward silence the scribe's gentle voice sounded between them.
"Okay," he whispered.
Dwalin figured he must have misheard, but Ori glanced up at him from under lowered lids confidently and leaned forward to kiss him. Dwalin stood still, allowing the other man to explore his open lips freely, but when the scribe nibbled softly on his tongue he pushed the smaller man down on the table and leant over his body. Ori gasped and watched the guard with wide eyes. Dwalin's gaze was serious, and unusually pensive, as he pressed a kiss to the side of Ori's neck. It was gentle and sensual, and soon enough the two men began rocking against one another, the table moving slightly with their movements. Dwalin unbuckled Ori's thick belt and slipped a large hand beneath the rich fabric of his robe, dragging his fingers across smooth skin. He sucked wetly on Ori's collar bone, drawing tiny little gasps of pleasure from between the scribe's lips.
Ori loved the feeling of such strength. He loved the way Dwalin's rough skin felt against his own, and the deep throaty sound of his rich tenor. He didn't care if the soldier was better at fighting than reading, he didn't need someone that knew a handful of useless information from age old books. He wanted Dwalin. With the guard, he felt safe, attractive, loved even. His head turned to the side as Dwalin's hands wandered places they had never been before, and Ori felt his gaze blurring with lust. He could barely see the shapes of bookcases in the distance but he did notice a shadow moving. And he tensed, gripping his fingers into Dwalin's arm painfully. The other man hardly noticed, but he did inch back just a touch.
"Wha'?" He blurted ineloquently, turning to follow the scribes gaze. Dwalin's eyes hardened and he pulled away from Ori as a short robed shape charged in their direction.
"Get down!" Dwalin shouted, throwing the scribe beneath the table, just as the thing collided with his side like a boulder. The guard grunted loudly, gripping the thing, and pulling it off him as he threw it to the side.
"Hide!" Dwalin shouted, and Ori skittered away beneath the tables, making his way towards the maze of shelves. The creature's robe fell from its head exposing an emotionless grey face with glowing red eyes. Its neck twitched to the side as though it was listening intently, and then it turned, charging towards Ori as he crawled along the ground.
"Oh no yeh don't!" Dwalin shouted, pulling his long sword out and running at it. He just barely managed to wedge himself in front, dragging his blade across in front of his body. The thing grabbed it with both hands, not cringing in the slightest as its flaky skin tore away. Ori scrambled away, running between the aisles and desperately looking for a place to hide while the guard struggled against surprising strength. The creature hurled him into the table, and the wood cracked beneath his body. It stormed towards the shelves, knocking them to the ground and they fell into each other as books scattered across the ground.
It charged at Dwalin again, just as the guard began to stand, and he groaned in pain as his back knocked against another shelf. His sword slipped from his fingers, as the creature kicked him in the gut repeatedly. Ori hurried to run beneath the falling shelves, cringing occasionally as a book fell beside him and split its spine. He was completely livid. How dare someone show such disrespect in his library! Then his eyes widened as he caught sight of the monster attacking Dwalin. The scribe charged, picking up a heavy encyclopaedia on the way, and he slammed it down atop the creature's head. It staggered, and crumbled as it fell back from Dwalin, and the guard, stood up weakly, catching his breath. Ori panted, the book gripped tightly between his fingers, and Dwalin grabbed his robes and tugged him between the aisles. They ran towards the door as the monster reformed, and thrust it's hands on the ground. The room shook, shelves crumbled, and pieces of the ceiling fell towards them while Dwalin shielded Ori with his body. He grunted as chunks of stone hit his back, knocking them both to the ground.
Ori glanced up above them and gasped as fire reigned down from the ceiling. The shelves caught aflame, and books burned around them. Dwalin struggled to his hands and knees above the scribe, panting as the room crumbled around them. They were stuck, surrounded by rubble and fire. Dwalin could not see the creature in the flames, but he knew the thing still lurked. Even if they managed somehow to escape, there was no way he could take down an enemy that refused to die. Tears streamed down Ori's face as he watched his library crumble around them, the paper burning and turning to ash, the shelves, falling apart and collapsing on top of each other.
"My…b-books," he stuttered, his voice hitching with sobs. Dwalin looked into his face sorrowfully, and ran his thumb across his tear streaked cheek. That was it. He'd failed. Dwalin vaguely hoped Nori and Dori would forgive him for allowing their little brother to die.
"Wish I could have done more, wish I could have saved yeh," he muttered, coughing as the smoke invaded his lungs while he made sure Ori stayed low to the ground. The scribe reached up, wrapping tiny fingers around Dwalin's neck and pulling the guard down for a kiss.
"You did save me," he whispered.
"I'm not alone."
The throne room was packed full. Bilbo looked around at the many faces he'd grown to recognize over his short time spent within the walls of the palace. Balin stood stiffly near the entrance waiting for his brother to return, while the guards circled back and forth outside the room as well as up the entire hall beyond. It was well protected; no creature or man would be able to walk through the doors undetected, no matter how powerful.
Despite the tense atmosphere the children were excitable as always, bouncing around the room and playing with each other and the occasional adult. Bombur had a circle of children sitting around him as he told a suspenseful story, waving his arms wildly and speaking in various different voices. The children giggled at him and tugged on his legs while his wife sat with a happy smile beside him. Glóin sat with his family as well. His wife was sturdy looking, yet elegant, and his son Gimli pulled a needle through a piece of fabric as his father instructed him. Gimli pricked his finger and mumbled in frustration while his eyes glanced towards the door. It was clear he wished he was fighting with the army. Oín glanced at his nephew's bleeding finger, itching to clean the wound, and he cringed when the young man popped it in his mouth instead.
Bilbo smiled as he watched everyone interact, occasionally glancing around and making sure a child had not sneaked away. This time however, he counted one extra head and he frowned as his eyes looked about the room again. There was only one boy he did not know, a tiny child, dressed in a white robe. His face was hidden, and he did not play with the others, instead standing against the wall near the doors. The child was watching Balin, glancing between him and the doorway, and then he pushed from the wall and walked to the centre of the room. Bilbo stood to approach, his face filled with worry. The King said no child had walked inside the walls of the palace for years. The only children here were Bilbo's own. It dawned on him, that this was no child, this was…their enemy.
"Balin!" Bilbo shouted across the room, drawing the advisor's attention as the child placed small grey hands on the stone floor. Balin looked towards him, but not in time, and the hall shook as the small creature cast some sort of spell. Children screamed as stone fell from the ceiling and glass shattered on the walls, and the men and women of the palace clustered together in one end of the room. The entrance crumbled, the guards beyond left staring dumfounded as they were trapped outside of the room.
The creature stood, raising an arm above its head and dropping one of the heavy pillars down hard atop the advisor. Balin's bones cracked and he fell to the floor with a shout, unconscious on impact. Bilbo scrambled across the floor, his eyes wide and frightened as he desperately gathered up any children he could find in the chaos. A little girl clung to his sleeve and Bilbo lifted a sobbing boy into his arms, ushering several others to the far end of the room.
"Go, see Bombur? Go sit with him!" Bilbo ordered, prying the girls fingers from his sleeve and placing the little boy in her arms. They ran across the shaking ground as the cook reached out from beneath a fallen overhang and pulled them in. Bombur beckoned to Bilbo but the jeweller turned to search the room with his eyes one last time. The creature was casting something again, and glass shattered on the western wall, falling to the ground above a group of children. They screamed and covered their heads and Bilbo ran towards them.
"Stop!" the jeweller shouted, running between the creature and the three boys huddled on the ground.
"There are children here!" he insisted, though he knew it would have little effect. The wraith gazed at him calmly, lowering his hands and walking towards him. Then it stepped close and raised its crumbling fingers to Bilbo's chest.
"Please," the jeweller whispered, and then he gasped as long sharp nails elongated and pressed into his skin. Bilbo's legs shook and he fell to his knees, reaching out towards the wraith. Its eyes looked into his, unblinking and emotionless. It really was just a child, tiny little hands and a small innocent face. Bilbo could almost pretend it was one of his own, if he ignored the glowing eyes and cracked flaking skin. It was horrid, thinking anyone could use a child in such a way, turn them violent, raise a tormented spirit from the ground. Bilbo wondered if the boy had ever known the love of a parent in life, or if he was an orphan of war, holding only the knowledge of hatred and pain.
"It's alright, little one," he croaked, dragging a finger down the creature's face, as its nails pierced through his torso. Bilbo choked, his vision fading, and he pulled the thing to his chest and ran fingers through the dry strands of hair atop its head. It flinched in his arms in surprise, pulling away from his hold to look at Bilbo's face with widened eyes. He could feel the nails shrinking, pulling away, and then when he glanced into its eyes, he saw something, a distant pain, as the boy's brow furrowed slightly. The ground stopped shaking, and Bilbo smiled fondly collapsing to the ground, the boy nestled atop his chest. It looked down, at the wound in the jeweller's belly, and pressed decaying hands to it, growing panicked as the blood kept flowing out. Its shoulders shook atop Bilbo and he could imagine he heard the soft sounds of a child weeping.
"Shh…," Bilbo whispered, running a weak hand across its back while he looked up at the ruined ceiling.
Fíli ran through the pathways quickly following the tiny etched fangs he saw along the walls. He nearly ran past the room in question, the entrance small and hidden along the wall. But there was another mark scratched low to the ground and Fíli new this was the room Nori had directed him to. He inched around the wall and gaped at the sight before his eyes. Kíli's body lay on the ground surrounded by snakes. He was pale, and feverish, and the Prince could see at least two puncture wounds on his body as the other man struggled to crawl away from the reptiles.
Fíli ran into the room and stopped in shock as a large figure stepped away from the wall, its eyes glowing red as it laughed deeply. The Prince glanced between it and his brother, holding his blades at the ready.
"Ah, and there he is, as expected. I believe you already know what I seek," Azog hissed, moving through the snapping snakes to stand between Fíli and the dancer.
"Why are you doing this?" Fíli asked, watching as Kíli huddled against the wall with glazed eyes. Azog laughed slowly and turned to walk towards his brother, lifting him up by the hair.
"You in Erebor live such perfect lives, no famine, no disease, no war. And why? All because the gods bless you, the gods protect you. You are undeserving!" Azog spat, throwing Kíli to the ground and spitting on him. Fíli growled and his hands tightened around the hilts of his blades.
"Thrór was a wretched man, conquering, killing, controlling. He destroyed my Kingdom, my beautiful golden Kingdom. He stole my wealth, my power, I had all of the riches in the world. My palaces rose higher than even the gods could reach," Azog sneered, turning towards Fíli and kicking Kíli's head as he walked towards the Prince. The dancer fell on the ground with a groan, dirty fingers clenching beneath his body.
"And Thrór destroyed that, all of that, and then he is rewarded for it? We are the marred, we are perfect, even tainted as we are. It is my Kingdom, that deserves this power, and so I shall have it," the beast of a man shouted. Fíli knew Dori's spheres would have little effect on Azog. The very cracks within his skin glowed red with power. Anything he managed to slice off would merely grow back. They might however work on the snakes.
"Look, he's already been bitten twice, he'll surely die. Give me the jewel, and perhaps I can save his life," Azog spoke, glancing towards the gem set in Fíli's crown. He stepped to the side, gesturing to where Kíli still struggled on the floor while a wild grin splayed across his face. The dancer lifted his head and looked ahead, even though his sight was nearly gone.
"Don't!" Kíli gasped, his eyes begging Fíli not to give in. But Azog stood between them again.
"I've got the antidote right here," the repulsive man spoke, holding out a tiny glass vial and shaking it between two fingers, and then he tucked it back inside his sleeve.
"Don't Fíli!" Kíli yelled, pulling his body across the ground towards his brother. A snake snapped at his leg and he screamed, twitching as the fangs pierced his skin. Azog walked towards him, and kicked him back again, baring his yellowed teeth in a smirk.
"Look at him struggling to get to you, pathetic. Enough wasting time, I know that gem in your crown is what I seek, give me it," Azog commanded, holding out a clawed hand towards the Prince. Fíli blinked at him with a grimace and did his best not to glance towards his brother. He had little choice. If he could just get the antidote…maybe he'd be able to somehow get out with Kíli. He needed time, but his brother had little. Fíli sheathed one of his swords and reached up to grab his crown. He looked at the stone for a moment, and threw the crown to the ground in front of Azog's feet.
"I expected something more impressive…," Azog spoke, as he lifted the crown to his hands and wrenched the gem from the setting, discarding the golden circlet on the ground. His thumb rubbed around the jewel as he held it up and peered at the different colours.
"You have your key, now let my brother go!" Fíli shouted, trying to inch closer towards Kíli. The ghastly man's deep broken laugh echoed throughout the room and he sneered at Fíli as drool slipped from his dried lips.
"Oh, that's where you're wrong…I'm afraid I need him still," Azog muttered, with a sick glance towards the Prince.
"Your brother, is the key. The stone just makes the key turn," he hissed, rotating and gripping Kíli up by his hair. Fíli shouted and pulled his sword out again, charging at the man, but Azog growled and kicked him into the opposite wall. Snakes slithered towards him and he braced himself and moved away along the wall carefully, avoiding getting bitten.
"Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar! Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar," Azog chanted, clenching the gem and holding Kíli in his claw. He repeated it over and over his eyes clenched closed tightly. After several moments he opened his eyes and looked down towards the gem in confusion, and then to Kíli, who was reaching up to his hair and cringing in pain.
"It's not doing anything!" Azog howled, shaking Kíli in his claw.
"He's supposed to open the doorway to Valimar! He's the amanaišal, I know he is! Where is it?" the large man shouted, and he threw Kíli back to the ground. Fíli threw a sphere to the dirt and charged through the thick green smoke, dragging his blades low to the ground along the way. The snakes fell bleeding to the ground, and he jumped and dug a blade into Azog's chest. The large man growled at him and flexed his fists, ignoring the blade that protruded from his chest and Fíli was unable to reach the antidote within his sleeve.
"You lied to me!" Azog shouted, reaching forwards and pulling Fíli to his chest. The Prince choked as a thick claw wrapped around his neck and tightened. Fíli gripped his wrist, and gagged in his grasp, then swiped upwards with his second cutlass into the monster's arm. It fell from Azog's body, and Fíli braced himself against the ground, stumbling back from the beast while he gasped for breath. Azog roared as his limb fell, crumbling into dust, and he twisted as dark shadows flowed from his torn socket shaping into another scaly limb. Azog looked towards Fíli in a rage, his eyes glowing menacingly, and Fíli swore he saw the shadow of another drifting from his body. The beast of a man growled and threw the antidote vial to the ground, the contents smashing over the dirt.
"No!" Fíli shouted, his voice catching as he looked at the spilled liquid in despair. Kíli was trembling on the ground and the Prince had lost his only chance of saving him. He ran with fury at the menacing creature, his remaining cutlass in hand. Azog tore at the one still embedded in his chest, and swung it at the Prince, their blades clashing in the cave loudly. Fíli ducked low and twisted his body around, slicing through Azog's leg. The beast fell to the ground, his claw reaching out to stop his fall as dust clouded around them.
Kíli was still on the ground, but his eyes remained open and tears ran from the corners as he watched the other two fight. He reached out with the fingers on one hand watching as Azog's leg grew back, and the man charged at Fíli. The two swung fiercely at each other, Fíli dodging blow after blow, while Azog grew increasingly angrier.
"Enough! Ziimarp!" The creature hollered, and red smoke leaked from the cracks in his skin. It surrounded the Prince, flooding into his nostrils and crippling him. Fíli trembled as he lost control of his limbs. His veins were on fire, and he fell to his knees in pain, dropping his cutlass with a clang to the dirt. A strangled noise left his throat as he fell flat on the ground, Azog towering above him.
"Mat!" the creature growled and he thrust a blade straight down into Fíli's chest. The Prince squirmed on the ground and coughed up blood, and Kíli screamed. Fíli's body twitched for a moment atop the dirt before going lax beneath Azog's form.
"No! Please no!" Kíli whispered, his vision blurred with tears. He could barely move, and several snakes still slithered on the ground around his body, but he cared little for his own pain. His brother had fallen, his brother was bleeding, and even through his clouded vision he saw the bloody blade torn from Fíli's chest.
"Please! Please, save my brother, please! Please, please, please," Kíli whispered desperately, begging any Vala that might listen to his words. He could see Azog's blurry shape moving towards him and his begging grew frantic. Kíli's breathing came in ragged gasps, and he was sweating with fever. His fingers twitched in the dirt, reaching out towards his brother, though the distance between them was far too long for him to touch. He felt a burning in his chest, and saw a bright light before his eyes. The Arkenstone was glowing around his neck and as Kíli's eyes closed, it lit up the entire room in a brilliant blue glow.
Cracks appeared across Kíli's body, and white light streamed from between them. Azog backed away in fear, his eyes furrowing as they travelled to the pendant that hang from the young man's neck. The dancer's entire chest lit up and large white hands began climbing from within. The doorway to Valimar had opened. Azog trembled before the power of the Valar, inching back towards the tunnels, but his body froze and began to crumble.
"What, what is this?" Azog hissed, falling over as his body dissolved towards the ground. His power was fading, he could feel it leaking from his body. In that moment Melkor tore from within him and pushed Azog's head to the dirt, drawing the remainder of his power back from his body, and the corrupt Vala rushed towards the open doorway.
A blast of white light flashed before Melkor, and his shadowy form fell back, his claws covering his face as the brightness ate away at his matter. And a powerful form stepped up and out from Kíli's body, followed by another, and then three more yet. The Valar stood before Melkor, crouching in the small cave as they stared down at him with judging eyes. They were intimidating and commanding, filled with the power of Valimar. Four of the Valar reached up and disappeared through the sand, and only Mânawenûz remained in the enclosed room. His eyes glowed with light and his beard hung long before his body as he swung his mace into the ground, the tunnels crumbling and the dirt collapsing down above him.
Melkor cringed before him but thrust desperately forward, reaching for the stone still resting around Kíli's neck. His claw tore the gem away, but Mânawenûz roared, and wind charged under the now visible skies, rushing around the dark shadow and holding him in place. The Arkenstone slipped between Melkor's wispy claws, clinking on the ground as he was encased in a windy prison. The remaining snakes crumbled as Melkor struggled in the Vala's windy chains and his claws contracted and scrambled to escape his chains. Mânawenûz thrust his mace into the ground, sand, dirt, and bones, falling into a deep cavern beneath the earth and the Vala cast his winds around Melkor then threw him into the chasm, condemning him to suffer beneath the lands of men.
The great Vala thrust his mace once more towards the ground, a flash of light striking out from the impact and travelling across the lands of Šebeth. The powerful figure folded his arms before his body, walking back towards the sacred doorway, his four returning to his side, and they disappeared, the passage sealing behind them. The cracks of light faded on Kíli's skin, leaving his body pale and lifeless on the dirty ground, and Fíli stirred.
Dwalin collapsed in shock atop Ori as the ceiling smashed above them and a hulking white form landed heavily in the ruins of the library. It lifted a giant hammer and lowered it to the ground, the flames extinguishing in the surrounding rush of air.
"…it's Aȝûlêz!" Ori gasped, watching wide-eyed as the Vala raised its hands, white light flashing through the room and knocking the two men flat on the ground. When Ori blinked his eyes open the Vala was gone, and he crawled out from beneath the other man's body. The scribe scuttled across the ruins, looking for any movement amongst the shelves, but the creature that attacked them was gone. His eyes roamed the library in relief for a moment, but quickly his gaze turned sour.
"My books! Look at them! A complete mess!" Ori shouted, rushing about the shelves, and lifting the charred remains of encyclopaedias from the ground, while Dwalin watched his bruises fade and the scrapes on his hands seal before his eyes.
The children cried and huddled behind Bombur in the throne room while Bilbo's life faded away. The ceiling was beautiful above him, even with chunks missing from it and still continuing to fall. Decorative woven patterns ran down the dome, traced with gold and gems and Bilbo smiled softly, his hands tightening in the crumbling hair of the lost soul still resting atop him. He heard a series of gasps in the room, and the jewels sparkled with light. Bilbo glanced at the boy then beyond to a wispy white form that stood over them. His eyes connected with it, and then a large glowing hand reached out and touched the back of the boy's head. The wraith's eyes closed in bliss, and Bilbo watched as a smile spread across the little one's face, then it dissolved, not into dust, but into water, and floated away into the air.
Bilbo gasped as water washed over his body, and he felt his pain fade away to nothing. He sat up slowly, his wound no longer painful, and then the mysterious form disappeared into a brilliant blue wave, gushing through cracks in the walls. The jeweller lifted his fingers to his touch his chest and gently prodded, but he was healed. He stood in surprise, gazing around at the men, women, and children who glanced about the room in wonder. Then Bilbo's eyes flew to where Balin still lay crushed beneath a beam.
He cried out, running to the other man and struggling to lift the wooden post, but it was far too heavy for him alone. Gimli was at his side in moments, his father, mother, and uncle beside him, and the five managed to heave the weight away. Oín pressed his fingers to Balin's neck, concentrating for a few moments, and he pulled away with a sigh.
Nadir was still on the ground and Bofur hovered over his body, completely unaware of his surroundings. The smoke was clearing from the explosion, and Nori watched the other man suffer in sorrow, and then his eyes roamed beyond where the creature managed to pull its body from the spikes. It was fully formed again, its body twisted dementedly and there was a frightening grin across his face. Nori could suffer the fate he was given, he could die, but he couldn't stand to sit and watch as Bofur was torn to shreds in front of him.
"B-Bofur, please," Nori gurgled, blood dripping from his lips, his eyes pained as the creature crawled along the ground towards the tamer.
"Move, you have to…move," he begged the other, choking, and his hands lifted to the spike within his body and he tried to push himself from it. His arms dropped to the ground, weak, and he felt the unfamiliar sensation of tears dripping from his eyes. The ground trembled and Nori groaned as it shook his body against the serrated bone. He glanced to the left when light flashed through the channel, watching as the tunnel caved in and thick white hooves galloped across the ground. His mind was hazy, but he knew what he saw. A man, atop a glowing horse, bow and arrow in hand. It charged through the tunnel, bringing the walls and dirt down with it, and it shot a golden arrow into the beast amongst them. The thing screeched and withered away into nothing as the horse whisked by them. Nori thought for sure it would crush Bofur, but the hooves passed right through the tamer's body, hardly affecting him at all. And as a white light flashed through the tunnel again his pain disappeared.
He felt at peace as he looked towards the other man, and he even smiled as Nadir shook awake, and stood on unsteady legs. It was a miracle. Arômêz had come to them after all. Bofur was shouting in happiness, pulling his tiger into a fierce hug while Karida licked at them both excitedly. The tamer looked up suddenly, glancing around the tunnel and his eyes landed on Nori, the smile fading from his lips. Nori saw Bofur's mouth open in shock and the other man scampered towards him.
"No…you're going to be okay," Bofur spoke unevenly, gripping Nori's face and looking down at the spike that pierced him.
"It's a fatal wound, e-even I can see that," Nori stuttered, coughing blood from his mouth.
"Nori, no no no," Bofur whispered, running fingers over his face and through his hair. The thief grinned and laughed lightly, his body numb.
"I'm g-glad your tiger is alright," Nori muttered, lowering his eyes from Bofur's distraught gaze. The tamer trembled and gripped the other man's torso, pulling him from the jagged bone with a bit of struggle.
"Gaaaagh!" Nori screamed, the numbness fading as his body was overcome with pain once more. Bofur propped him against the wall and then he was tearing at his shirts, ripping the material from the thief's body determinedly and he pressed his hands against Nori's shredded skin. Nadir and Karida paced beside them, pausing to lick at Nori's face and nudging his arms with their heads.
"W-what are you doing?" the redhead asked, his eyes glazed as he looked into Bofur's frightened gaze.
"Stopping the bleeding!" the other man shouted, pressing hard against the wound, and looking through his fingers at the damage. He wiped a torn piece of cloth across it, as Nori grew sleepy and started to slouch in his arms. The thief's gaze travelled over the other man's form, across his solid shoulders and strong forearms, to the dark wiry hair bound in loose braids. Bofur's shirt was open at the neck and Nori watched the muscles contracting frantically, then his eyes landed on the white fang dangling from the other man's ear. He recalled the very first time he met the tamer, in a distant land, far to the east. That fang…he loved watching it, even then.
"Nori! It's healing!" Bofur shouted, wiping away more blood as his fingers pressed against the healing wound in wonder.
"Eh?" Nori gasped in confusion, his eyes narrowing with confusion.
"It's healing, look!" Bofur insisted, drawing the other man's gaze lower. Nori watched as his skin sealed before his eyes, the gaping hole that was once in his chest disappearing into a white mass of scar tissue. He still felt weak, and weary, but his pain had dulled again, and his mind was beginning to clear. Bofur's fingers lifted his chin and the tamer looked into his eyes intensely.
"Did you…say you love me?" Bofur asked, and Nori swallowed nervously.
"No…," he dragged the word out, and his eyes veered off to the side.
"You thought you were going to die, and you said you love me," Bofur spoke, a wide grin forming on his face.
"I didn't…you're hearing things," Nori insisted, blinking frequently and refusing to look the other in the eye. The tamer leaned close to him, his lips not far away.
"I'm kissing you," Bofur voiced, and Nori scrunched his eyebrows together.
"Just this once," the thief muttered, allowing the soft press of lips against his own. Bofur kissed him gently but insistently, parting his lips with a probing tongue. They separated, breathing heatedly with soft flushes on their skin.
"Oh I'm not letting you go now," Bofur remarked with a crooked grin and Nori finally looked in his eyes.
"Idiot," he whispered, as they kissed once more.
"Liar," Bofur murmured against his lips. He lifted a hand and stroked the side of Nori's face, kissing across it before placing a light one just to the side of the other man's mouth. Nori shuddered and he bit his lip before speaking.
Followed by three more.
The army above ground was fighting an endless battle. The two indestructible creatures had killed more men than Thorin cared to admit, and the King gagged as he watched one chew the flesh from the bones of one of his soldiers. It was not the first of his men to meet such a fate. Even with Dain's army, they struggled against their foes, the hulking beast knocking men from their horses, and stomping on fallen soldiers, while the cannibal ate his way through the forces. Gandalf summoned Varda's Theryn to aid them, and the birds swept across the battlefield plucking enemies from the ground and tossing them, driving their claws into more. Still it was not enough to overthrow their foes, and Thorin feared they would lose the fight.
Until the ground opened up and several giant white forms rushed across the surface of the land. They skittered away from the battle, glowing trails glittering behind them, but one remained, tall and strong, fists at the ready. Thorin gaped at the figure towering over the field. Its size dwarfed the hulking dark creature and its fists smashed into its face, dust crumbling away. This time it did not regenerate, and the Vala threw its body to the sand below and thrust heavy fists through the creature's body.
"Tulukastâz!" Dain gasped in surprise, watching as the golden warrior knocked his foes to the ground. The Vala stormed across the battlefield, lifting the cannibal and tearing it in two, then it stomped, the ground shaking wildly as a white glow flashed out from its feet. The soldiers were thrown to the ground with the quaking, and the army they faced shattered into pieces at their feet. Tulukastâz hollered a war cry to the skies and sunk back beneath the ground, leaving the two armies left to recover in shock.
"Thorin!" Dís shouted at her brother, and the King looked towards her with startled eyes. She thrust her arm out before him, pulling her sleeves away.
"I am healed!" she gushed, and Thorin looked at her arm in surprise. He glanced around the battlefield, watching as men sat up from the ground. Even soldiers, whose bodies had been torn, their flesh ripped away, were whole once more. The Valar had saved them, and restored life to his men.
"We must find the boys," he hissed, standing straight and running towards the tunnels, his sister at his back.
The Prince groaned on the ground, rolling to the side as he looked around the hollow. He was pretty sure he'd just hallucinated a whole lot, but then again, perhaps not. The room was unnaturally silent, and Azog was nowhere to be seen. He was however, feeling unusually alive. His body hurt all over, but it was a residual pain, and he could breathe well enough once he'd coughed the remaining blood from his lungs.
He caught sight of his brother, stark white and still on the ground, and Fíli stumbled to his feet, limping over to the other man. The Prince fell beside him, running fingers across the other's clammy skin. Kíli's lips were turning purple, and his chest was still. The wounds across his body had sealed, just as Fíli's had, but still Kíli lay motionless. The Prince could almost pretend his brother was sleeping, the way his face was relaxed, and his hair settled messily around his face. Fíli's eyes burned as he saw the moonflower, fully bloomed and still nestled within the matted dark strands. He knew better, he knew his brother was fading.
"No…no, Kíli, please," Fíli whispered, running his hands over the other's face and lips. His brother's skin was sticky with sweat, and overly warm to the touch, not so different from their heated moment after they made love. Fíli brushed his thumbs across the dancer's eyebrows and pressed a kiss to unresponsive lips.
"Kíli, I love you, I'm sorry, please, just come back to me," Fíli droned, pressing his brow to his brother's in sorrow. Fíli cursed himself, for leaving his brother alone in his rooms, for shouting at him even as Kíli's eyes began to tear up. He did not want those words spoken, to be the last his brother ever heard from him.
"Fíli! Fíli you found him!" Dís gasped from the entrance of the room, and Fíli barely spared her a glance. His gaze was glued to Kíli's dark lashes, where they rest stationary against his pale skin. Thorin charged into the room, his sister and counsel at his side, and he knelt beside his eldest nephew in concern.
"His wounds are healed, and yet still he dies? Why?" Fíli choked on his words, slouching over his brother in despair. He could not understand why the Valar would save him, but not the man he loved. Thorin moved closer and lifted Kíli's wrist between his fingers.
"He's not dead Fíli, his heart still beats," The King spoke gently, but it did little to lessen Fíli's anguish. Dori shoved his way between the two men and Fíli glared at him as he was roughly pushed to the side.
"Get out of the way!" Dori shouted, kneeling next to Kíli and checking him over.
"Snake bites?" He asked, running his fingers across the tiny scars on his body.
"What did they look like Fíli? You must remember, were their mouths black on the inside?" Dori asked, gripping Fíli's arm tightly. The Prince blinked and tried to remember, but he'd been so focused on the way Kíli looked, and Azog's lurking form, that he'd barely even looked at the snakes.
"Yes, yes I think so…," he muttered, not entirely sure at all. Dori eyed him suspiciously for a moment, but turned to Kíli and thoroughly examined the scars from the bites.
"The venom remains strong in his veins," Dori muttered.
"The antidote…he had it but…," Fíli stuttered, gesturing to the broken vial on the ground but Dori just waved him off.
"It's the same poison they use on their blades. I have some antidote with me; I've been working on it since the last attack. Thought we might need it," he explained and Fíli's eyes widened as the apothecary pulled a corked bottle from his satchel and popped the cap off. Fíli watched as the other man eased the liquid down Kíli's throat, gently rubbing and then he wrapped a band around the dancer's leg, just above one of the bite marks.
"He's fought it off before without such aid, I'm sure he can do it again," Dori muttered, sitting back and waiting while Fíli bent worriedly over his brother's head. They waited for a few moments, and Fíli breathed out a sigh of relief when Kíli inhaled deeply. He started laughing, though tears still fell from his eyes, and he pressed his nose against his brother's. Kíli's eyes fluttered and they opened slightly, though they were still a bit glassy as he gazed up at the Prince.
"F-Fíli, mell nin," the dancer whispered, his eyes flickering across the other man's face. And Fíli was overjoyed. He pushed hair from Kíli's face and kissed him once more, pulling away to as the other man's eyes closed again.
"Uncle, he's alright, he's…he's going to be okay," Fíli voiced, turning to Thorin with a relieved smile. The King tugged his nephew close, and held him, as they watched Kíli's breathing even out. Thorin's hand rest over Kíli's fondly and he ran the other through Fíli's hair. Dís watched from not far away, her gaze soft as she observed her brother faun over the boys, the Arkenstone all but forgotten. She walked towards where it lay sparkling on the ground, attached to a beautiful gold chain. It glittered as it always had, and she held it tightly between her fingers. She was sure…the stone had saved her boys, and the Valar had come when they needed them most. She wrapped the chain around it and tucked it away for safe keeping.
The palace was in devastating shape when the Theryn landed them safely outside its walls. Thorin cringed as he realised he'd offered Dain's army keep for a few nights while his Kingdom was in such a state. The army and King moved through the palace observing the wreckage with distaste, while Dís and Dori took Fíli and Kíli to the infirmary. The guards in the palace seemed confused, but well, and unharmed, and they were digging out the caved in entrance to the throne room.
"What happened here?" Thorin asked one of the men, and the guard turned to him nervously.
"Not too sure my King. The walls shook, and then the doorway caved in, trapping everyone inside," he stuttered and Thorin turned towards the entrance and began kicking at the rubble. It took several minutes, but together with the help of several guards, they cleared a space wide enough to crawl through. Thorin was sure he looked ridiculous, his cloaks getting caught on jagged pieces of stone while he struggled through the tiny space.
Thorin fell unceremoniously to the stone tiles on the opposite side and he looked throughout the room carefully before running to Bilbo's side. The small man sat next to Balin, while Oín worked to wake him and the King's eyes widened at the blood that stained the small man's shirt. When Thorin rest a hand on his shoulder Bilbo turned and his watery eyes widened before he jumped up and wrapped his arms around Thorin's neck. The King staggered in surprise, and then enveloped his arms around the other man's shaking form, running hands gently across his back.
"What's happened?" Thorin asked softly, and Bilbo pressed his face into the King's chest.
"I'm just…just glad, you're okay," Bilbo muttered, struggling to compose himself as the other man pulled away to look into his eyes. Thorin frowned at the anguish he saw there, and he glanced around the room curiously. Each child was accounted for, and Bombur had most of them preoccupied with another story in the corner of the room. The King looked back towards the small man in his arms and pulled him close.
"No, something else happened. You're far too upset," he whispered wiping at the jeweller's hair. Bilbo sighed against him and smiled sadly, before pulling him down for a long and sensual kiss.
"Another time, my love," Bilbo murmured and Thorin kissed his brow.
"We should get Balin into a bed."
"I had hoped, I would never see him like this again," Fíli muttered under his breath as he played with the fingers on Kíli's hand. It had been several days, and still Kíli looked pale. His eyes had fluttered open a few times, but only for minutes at a time, and then he would close them and fall back asleep. The Prince had not left his side, even to aid in the reconstruction of the palace. He wanted to be there, at his brother's side when he woke. He wanted to look into his clear eyes, hear him speak. Only then would he truly believe his little brother was going to be fine.
He'd held on to the pendant for a few days, before latching it around his brother's neck. It belonged there after all, and there was no need to hide who Kíli was, not in front of friends and family. He kissed the other man's fingers one by one and wondered what the people of Erebor would think, knowing the Prince had fallen in love with his own brother. Would they be disgusted? Or would they be happy he'd found someone that made his heart swell with joy.
Thorin walked into the room and Fíli turned to him, noting the decorative crowns the other man held in his hands. His uncle smiled and handed him one, similar to his old scratched up crown and Fíli smiled in thanks and placed it in his hair before eyeing the second.
"For Kíli, when he wakes. That is, if he wants to wear it," Thorin muttered, handing the second one to his nephew. Fíli ran his fingers over the delicate metalwork. It looked fashioned to match his crown, but with finer details, and smoother lines. It was more suited to Kíli's fluid frame. The gemstone set in the front was a deep red, and would surely heighten the colours of Kíli's skin and eyes. But it was the distinct markings etched around the gem that really shocked him. It held not the symbols for a Prince of the Durin line, as Fíli had expected, but instead the words, nûlukh, ûrzud, akhùthuzh, and âzyung.
"This is…this is a consort's crown," Fíli whispered, and the King smiled gently. Thorin said nothing to him, but he placed a comforting hand on his nephew's shoulder and squeezed lightly. Fíli was so overcome with emotion that he nearly missed Balin grumbling as he woke in the next bed over. Thorin and Fíli stood beside him eagerly, as he squinted his eyes open and struggled to sit up. Balin sat facing straight ahead in a daze, a heavy frown on his face. Then he closed his eyes with a groan and turned towards the two Durins, smiling just a little.
"Welcome back, my old friend," Thorin spoke, pulling up a chair to sit down. Balin snorted, and then rubbed his head.
"Old indeed, too old for these sorts of things," The advisor admitted, and then he winked at them both with humour in his eyes.
"I could use a stiff drink,"
Fixing the palace was proving quite the job. The members of the court worked together, along with any person from Erebor wishing to help as they lifted new pillars and reconstructed walls. Dain and his army even aided in the trying task during their stay. Dwalin helped heave a pillar in the library back in place before starting to reconstruct the many shelves that had been destroyed. He worked exclusively in the library in the hopes of catching Ori's attention again, but the two men had barely interacted in the days following battle. The scribe was completely engrossed in salvaging as many books as possible, rewriting the charred pages, and attempting to fill in the blanks during nearly every waking moment.
Dwalin sighed heavily as he watched the smaller man working away at one of the few intact tables within the library walls. He rarely lifted his head and the guard wanted nothing more than to just share a glance with him, see his cute little smile. Instead he hammered the last few nails into a tall shelf and pushed it up to stand in the proper place. Dwalin wiped his hands on his pants and cracked his back, preparing to begin the next one. He had just marked the proper lengths on a long piece of wood when a tiny cough alerted him to another's presence.
Ori stood behind him, for once not holding a book in his fingers, and Dwalin eagerly met his gaze. The scribe was tired, a little drawn, with heavy circles beneath his eyes, but Dwalin still glanced across his features fondly.
"I…wanted to thank you, for helping. Um…With the library. It means a lot," Ori stuttered, blushing heatedly. Dwalin stood in front of him and tried to stay composed but he ended up rubbing at the back of his neck bashfully.
"Ah…it's nothin'. Sooner it gets done, sooner you've got yer favourite place back, righ'?" Dwalin muttered and Ori's eyes widened as his heart swelled. He stepped a little closer and reached out to touch the guard's hand, and Dwalin gripped his smaller fingers inside his own.
"You're wonderful," Ori gushed, and the guard coughed into a fist and glanced around the room carefully. There were several others, working away, including Dori, but the other man seemed fairly engrossed in ordering men around.
"Just thinkin' it'd be nice to see yeh smile again, yanno?" Dwalin admitted and he grunted when Ori jumped at him and wrapped tiny arms around his neck. The guard gripped his waist and pushed his nose into the other man's neck. The scribe hugged him tightly, and then turned to breathe into his ear.
"When everything's all fixed up…we should continue, where we left off," the scribe whispered and then giggled nervously. Dwalin groaned and gripped the back of Ori's robes tightly.
"Why wait?" the guard asked heatedly, and he leant in, just barely pressing their lips together.
"Hey! Don't think I can't see you two over there!" Dori's voice sounded across the room, and Ori pulled away in a hurry then scampered away. Oh right…that was why.
There was a wet sensation at Nori's rear that made him shiver as his eyes slowly opened. He felt well rested for the first time in a long while. His muscles were relaxed and his mind at ease. Though as a warm hand ran up between his legs and across the crease of his rear he struggled to keep hold of his instinct to attack and run. Still he flinched slightly, his fingers tensing in preparation for a fight, and the hand stilled, waiting until his body relaxed against the sheets again.
"What are you…doing?" Nori asked in a ragged voice, turning his head slightly to eye the man behind him. He was met with Bofur's wide and saucy grin as a finger slipped inside him.
"Nng," Nori groaned, tightening his hands in the sheets before tossing a glare behind him. Bofur chuckled and began to kiss along his spine, pausing to run his tongue across the occasional scar on the other man's back. The thief squirmed around the finger and clenched his teeth together, refusing to let a sound escape from between his lips.
"Why am I so wet?" Nori hissed, clenching his eyes shut as the finger probed within him and a second slid in beside it. It was a surprisingly smooth entry, and he could feel the slickness leaking from his body and easing the passage of the tamer's fingers. Bofur nibbled at his rear and chuckled lowly, spreading and thrusting his fingers at an incredibly slow pace. Nori fought against his urge to press back against them. He refused to completely submit to the other man's ministrations, determined not to turn into some begging, shameful wench.
"Nadir readied you for me," the other man whispered against the skin of his ass, pressing gentle kisses along the crease, then at the dip of his back.
"What? You can't be serious," Nori groaned, completely scandalized by the images the words put in his head. He lifted his upper body on his forearms and threw a desperate look back at the tamer, and then he glanced towards where Nadir slumbered atop the bed beside them. Bofur kept fingering him, looking deviously into his eyes, and Nori gasped embarrassingly as he pulled his fingers from his entrance.
"I guess you'll never know," Bofur whispered brazenly, but Nori's worries were somewhat abated when the other man licked a long stripe across his hole.
"Oh god," the thief blurted, and he dropped his body forward onto the bedding as he pressed his brow into the mattress. Bofur's tongue lapped at him repeatedly, and Nori had to pull his arm in front of his face and bite at his skin to keep from moaning. His legs trembled pathetically when the tamer pressed his tongue inside the tight ring of muscle and ran his fingers up and down the thief's sides.
"You…pervert," Nori hissed around his arm, and he clenched involuntarily when Bofur's earring dragged across his skin. The tamer pulled away, leaving tiny little bite marks along his spine, and Nori panted heavily when the other man's body grazed against his back. He could feel the tamer's clothing rubbing against his skin and blushed with mortification at his nudity. Nori was sure his neck and shoulders must have been flushed a deep red and he bit his arm so hard it bruised as Bofur pressed his length against his rear. The other man's hands spread his legs and worked his cheeks apart, and he shuddered as he was penetrated. Bofur's arousal was thick, with a defined head, and Nori could feel the ridge sliding inside of him. And then the tamer's chest pressed down on top of him firmly, trapping his body on the bed as he thrust shallowly inside him. It was incredibly slow, and Bofur punctuated each entry with a kiss on his neck. Nori's shoulders tensed at the torturous pace and he still refused to make a single lusty sound.
"Lecher, ugh," Nori seethed, as Bofur's thrusts became deeper and more forceful, though he still retained a sluggish pace. The tamer kissed along the line of his shoulders and ran hands around his front, running fingers across his chest to pull the other man's nipples gently. Nori clenched around the thick length inside him and felt tears coming to his eyes from the pain in his wrist, and Bofur ran a hand up across his forearm.
"Just let go, Nori," the tamer urged, gently easing Nori's arm away from his mouth. The thief panted loudly and his limbs shook with need while Bofur rubbed soothingly at his back and kissed away the bruising on the skin of his arm. His pace remained tediously slow, and Nori flinched visibly each time his prostate was jarred. His arousal pressed painfully into the blankets, and Bofur's teasing thrusts did nothing to aid in his release. Then the tamer shifted and pressed fully into his body, pushing deep inside him in quick short lunges. The constant pleasure brought tiny whimpers from his throat, despite Nori's relentless struggle to keep quiet. His foot shot out and he gasped at the feeling of Nadir's fur against his leg while Bofur made a soft sound of satisfaction beside his ear.
The tamer gripped his face, turning the thief's head towards his, and then he gazed at Nori's lust filled expression. The redhead's eyes were glazed and his mouth was open and Bofur pressed a tongue between his parted lips. Nori felt pleasure building in his groin and he shuddered when the tamer licked across the scar over his eye and laced their fingers together intimately. He bucked backwards alongside the other man and a tiny yelp left his mouth as he trembled and released against the sheets. It was the strongest orgasm he'd ever had, and he went completely limp in the other man's embrace, slumping against the wet bedding. Bofur still thrust within him gently while he pulled hair away from Nori's face and looked at him intently throughout his climax, pumping until the last of the thief's seed dripped from his cock.
The tamer pulled from his heat for a moment, and Nori twitched at the empty feeling, but his body was soon rotated onto its back and the pressure returned at his entrance. Bofur lifted one of his legs and thrust heatedly inside him gazing at his body with lowered lids. Nori felt exposed under his scrutiny and he furrowed his brow when the other man ran a hand across the thick scar on his chest. Their eyes met and Bofur's expression remained serious as he plunged within his body, his dark hair hanging messily over his shoulders, and his earring swaying with his movements. Nori could feel water leaking from the corners of his eyes and running down his face, and his body still twitched around the other man's cock with each thrust.
Bofur made an unusual animalistic noise and he threw his head back, pulling Nori's hips taught against his body. The thief's breath hitched as the length within him swelled and warm liquid pulsed around it. He felt completely debauched and he lifted a hand to cover his face when seed leaked from his body in a thick glob. Bofur thrust a few more times, before stroking the redhead's abdomen and sighing with satisfaction. Then his hand traced up the side of the thief's body and gripped Nori's pulling it up to place a kiss on each finger. They stayed like that until Bofur softened completely and slipped from his body, and then the tamer flopped down beside him and pressed his nose against Nori's neck. They lay together for some time, but when Nadir rolled over on the bed and plopped a heavy paw across Nori's sweaty legs, it jolted him from his hazy state. The thief shivered at the brush of fur against his over sensitized skin and groaned with annoyance as a rough tongue lapped at his face.
"Your tiger has no shame, just like you," Nori muttered, and his face turned unbearably red as he recalled what Bofur had implicated about his beast earlier that night. The other man merely chuckled and mimicked his tiger, sprawling across Nori's body and legs. Bofur's fingers ran over the other man's skin and then he flicked one of the gold chains that hung from the thief's neck.
"Where'd you get this from?" the tamer asked, eyeing the intricate detailing and expensive gemstones set along it.
"The King's chambers," Nori drawled tossing the other man a sidelong glance but he snickered at Bofur's appalled expression.
"I'm lying. I swiped it off a man in Bree," he uttered, as if stealing from a stranger was more forgivable. Bofur did not reprimand him, however his eyes widened in surprise.
"Bree? That far?" the tamer spoke with disbelief, and Nori swallowed before looking into his eyes with an uneasy expression. In truth it had been several years since they last met, since Nori had disappeared without a trace. The thief was hard to find at the best of times, but such a long travel to west made it clear why there had been no sight of the redhead for years. Not until Erebor had become a target and Dwalin sought him out for information. Bofur eyed the other man, observing the fresh scars along his chest and arms, and the many tiny ones that covered his fingers and other parts of his body, some that made the tamer's gaze narrow with worry.
Nori's eyes burned and he blinked repeatedly before turning his face away from the other man's gaze. He was a lost cause. Untrustworthy, soiled, ugly. It was unrealistic to think they could ever be happy together. He never should have come back. Not when he was nothing but trouble, and Bofur could easily lay with someone more attractive. But how was he supposed to stay away, when the dark rumours began to roam the streets. How was he to leave his brothers, his family, the man he…loved, to fight a war alone? He startled and glanced back in surprise as Bofur's tongue pressed against his chest. The tamer licked across his body, pressing kisses atop the many blemishes that covered his skin, paying special attention to the large scar in his chest.
"How can you possibly love someone like me?" Nori asked, his eyes glassy. The tamer lifted from his chest and raised an eyebrow, before taking in the other man's troubled expression.
"What do you mean?" Bofur inquired, shifting so he lay atop him and so their noses were nearly touching.
"I know how you work Bofur. Rare and exotic beauties, right?" Nori asked and the tamer narrowed his eyes in confusion. Nori scoffed and glanced down at his scarred body.
"Look at me, I'm as tainted as a man can be," he muttered, fidgeting beneath the other man. Bofur's thumb pressed beneath his eye and Nori jolted as a tear fell from the pressure. He hated crying, hated being weak in front of others. Bofur was the only man that had ever seen him show a hint of such pain.
"No, Nori, you're the rarest, and most exotic of them all," Bofur whispered, his voice softer and more sincere than the thief thought possible. He shook his head in disbelief and glanced into Bofur's eyes with wonder. Their noses did touch then, lightly, and the tamer's dark hair fell and tickled at Nori's neck.
"I've always thought you stunning, that will never change," Bofur admitted, running a finger along the scar over Nori's eye almost reverently. They kissed gently and the tamer whispered against his lips.
"From the very moment we first met."
It was several weeks after the battle that everyone had recovered. The last to wake was of course Kíli. In his signature style the man stretched out his limbs and sat up with a smile, as though he was merely waking from a restful nap. Fíli was at his side in an instant, looking into his eyes with a sigh of relief, and then moments later the room seemed to fill with people greeting the dancer back to the land of the living.
Dís bent in front of her youngest son, gently tucking hair behind his ears, before she pulled him into an embrace. It took a few minutes, but eventually Kíli held her back just as tightly. When she pulled away they both had tears in their eyes and Dís sighed dramatically and clapped her hands with a smile. She pulled the Arkenstone from her pocket and tied it around his neck, and Kíli touched it tentatively. It hung just below his royal pendant, and Dís grinned broadly at the sight.
"My son, you've been long missed," she spoke fondly, and then rest her hands on his shoulders.
"I knew immediately of course," Dís voiced cockily and Kíli smiled while everyone else in the room chuckled at the Princess, including the King. The group chatted off and on for the better part of an hour, explaining the events they each witnessed, and thanking the Valar for saving them, and then Kíli's attention was drawn to the crown delicately placed on the table next to his bed. Thorin smiled and handed it to his youngest nephew.
"It's yours," he voiced and Kíli's eyes widened while he ran his fingers across the details and Khuzdul words engraved on it.
"It's a consort's crown Kíli. Designed to match and compliment your brother's. It's your choice when you choose to wear it, or if you ever do," Dís explained calmly, and Kíli glanced nervously at Fíli before looking back at the crown. His fingers still traced the patterns but he did not move to put it on his head.
"If…you choose not to, we can design you another crown, a Prince's crown," Dís continued and Kíli looked up at her in surprise. His eyes wandered to his brother again but Fíli was looking towards the floor, his hands folded in front of him. The silence after was awkward while Kíli fidgeted and Fíli did his best not to look at his brother, while in truth he watched his every movement from the corner of his eye. Luckily not much later a guard knocked at the entrance to the infirmary. Everyone in the room turned to look, and he stumbled and visibly tensed before addressing Thorin.
"My King, we have…a guest," the man spoke slowly and with hesitation, and he had a strange look in his eye, almost as though he had seen a ghost.
It turned out he had seen a ghost, in a way. Thorin stood at the entrance of his palace and looked down the steps into the eyes of a man he thought dead. King Thranduil waited regally and emotionless as always, and his son, advisors, and several guards stood at his sides. He glanced at Thorin disdainfully then smirked at the other King's obvious shock.
"Tell me, do you plan to make me wait on your steps all night or will you invite me and my men inside? Is this the hospitality Erebor shows its guests?" Thranduil droned and Thorin glared at him fiercely before glancing at him with a suspicious eye. The man was exactly how he remembered him. Arrogant, annoying, and unbearable to be within twenty feet of.
"I assure you, I am entirely alive, other than the odd crick in my neck," the blonde King voiced, and Thorin stepped aside and beckoned him up the stairs dispassionately. Thranduil paused at the entrance and glanced towards the others standing nearby, his gaze landing on Kíli.
"It seems, the Valar, have seen fit to revive my Kingdom. I thought I might visit an old friend of mine," Thranduil admitted, and he moved towards Kíli with a raised chin.
"Aran," Kíli uttered, bowing gently before looking into Thranduil's eyes with a small smile. The taller man looked him over thoroughly, placing a hand on Kíli's face as his eyes fell to the pendant around his neck.
"You wish to stay here," Thranduil stated, and Kíli bit his lip and nodded.
"This is my home," the dancer whispered, and the Sindarin King frowned ever so slightly.
"Pity," Thranduil stated, and he dragged a finger down Kíli's front to rest over one of the scars on his belly. Fíli seethed with anger from nearby, and his fingers itched to grab the cutlass at his waist. Thorin gripped his nephew's arm gently, while he directed a glare of his own at Thranduil's head.
"Perhaps you are immortal now, sweet one. I look forward to watching you dance this evening," Thranduil admitted with a sultry glance and Kíli grinned impishly. The tall man walked into the palace as though it was his own, and Thorin followed sullenly behind.
Kíli did dance that evening, and it was captivating. The throne room was packed with people from the court and Thranduil's Kingdom, as well as many people from the surrounding villages who came to celebrate. Men and women drank and feasted heartily, and even Thorin's spirits were raised. Bilbo sat beside him, whispering nearly constantly into his ear, and even initiating conversation with the Sindarin King. And after several glasses of wine, Thorin drunkenly suggested a truce between their Kingdoms. Thranduil laughed at him, but agreed, eyeing the way his son mingled with a redheaded lad not far away. It was time, to put differences aside, and live peacefully. And as Kíli circled the room, all eyes were on him while he contorted his body in unnatural ways.
Late into the night the throne room remained occupied by one man. Prince Fíli sat atop his uncle's throne, observing the room with a dreary gaze. He couldn't sleep, for his mind was too lost in worry. He stared at the stone floor below before looking around the room. He could almost see Kíli, circling as he had earlier that night, twisting and turning with a beautiful smile on his face. But…his brother had not worn the crown.
Fíli groaned and lowered his head into his hands. He feared he had lost his chance. That Kíli would never forgive him for casting him away, even for just a moment. He'd watched as his brother gazed lustily at nearly every person except him as he danced that night, and each time the other man moved in intricate movements before Thranduil, he thought his heart was breaking in two. Perhaps Kíli would choose to leave him…to return to his King's side and dance for another each night.
His eyes were drawn to the doors, as they slid open and a shadow slinked in through the crack in the between them. He couldn't see clearly, but he recognized the silhouette immediately, and the soft sound of the other man's chains and belts gave him away.
"Kíli?" the Prince questioned, looking intently into the dark as the other man shut the door behind him. Fíli watched as his brother approached, his shape walking into the light of the low lanterns that remained lit around the room. Fíli nearly choked. Kíli was dressed in an outfit he'd never seen before. The silks about his form were transparent, more so even than the fabric that was draped across his form the first time they met. They were revealing, slit at the sides, as well as the front, so Fíli could see his tanned legs and his arousal clearly. And his torso was draped only in jewels, the gold strands running from shoulder to shoulder, and falling elegantly across his nipples and towards his navel, where the panther jewel rest against his skin. Then as he approached closer Fíli swallowed when he noticed the golden snake wrapped around the base of his cock. It clung to the engorged skin teasingly, and Fíli wondered where he found such a trinket. He had moonflowers braided throughout his hair, all of them in full bloom. But perhaps the most intriguing thing on his body was the intricate crown nestled atop his head.
"Do you like them?" Kíli asked, when he was close enough that Fíli need only reach out to touch him. And then the younger man turned in a circle in front of him, and the Prince groaned when he realised the pants were slit up the back as well, and hardly covered anything. Fíli's fingers twitched in his lap eagerly.
"Bilbo's been working on these, as a gift for helping with the children. And Glóin gave him the fabric…they work well together," Kíli spoke, gesturing to the jewels, and the snake wrapped around his arousal. Fíli's eyes lowered to observe it thoroughly before flicking back up to the intricate crown. Kíli licked his lips and stepped closer, running his fingers across his brother's knees.
"Or do you no longer find me appealing, brother?" Kíli whispered, leaning forward to look right into the other man's eyes.
"…Kíli," Fíli muttered, and he gave in, reaching out to run his fingers down the side of Kíli's hips. He reached his hands around the other man's back, running across what little fabric was there, and then he gripped the bare skin of his brother's rear. Kíli's mouth opened in a tiny gasp and he jerked forwards slightly, his jewels clinking together with the movement.
"As if such a thing could be possible. My brother, if you had grown before my eyes, surely I would have done despicable things to you," Fíli admitted, running his nose along the curve of Kíli's neck and sucking lightly at his collar.
"Then why…," Kíli began, his voice trailing off as he looked at the other man with a hint of worry.
"The same reason you kept it a secret," Fíli answered, lifting the royal pendant from his brother's neck and kissing it, before running his fingers across the engravings in his crown. Kíli blinked at him for a moment before leaning in for a chaste kiss.
"You? Afraid?" he whispered against Fíli's lips in disbelief. His brother grinned, kissing him back once in return.
"Love has the power to make the strongest of men quake in terror," Fíli admitted, and Kíli chuckled against his lips. The younger man looked down and scrunched up his brow, running his fingers across his brother's thigh.
"You have not touched me since I woke," he muttered, then pushed forwards and straddled Fíli's legs atop the throne. The Prince groaned as their bodies ground together, and his hands ran up Kíli's back then down to his bare rear. Fíli's fingers pressed into his brother's crease and he widened his eyes when they slipped across him easily. He paused and ran a finger back across the tiny oiled pucker, circling it gently, and just barely breaching the tight ring of muscle. Kíli thrust back against it and Fíli settled his brow to his brother's chest before breathing in deeply.
"Did anyone see you like this?" he asked, his hand tightening at Kíli's back while his finger slipped in and out of the dancer's wet heat with ease.
"I was very careful," Kíli panted, and then he pushed Fíli back against the throne and kissed him hard. His hands fiddled with his brother's pants, reaching inside the folds and tugging the other man's arousal free. Fíli moaned into Kíli's mouth and thrust into his hand at the first hint of a touch. He was pretty sure he'd never been so hard in his life. The dancer ground atop his finger, then lifted a leg up around Fíli's neck and shoved his toes into the other man's golden hair. Fíli gasped loudly and pulled Kíli's head away from his mouth, as his finger slipped from his rear.
"By the sun and stars, we can't do this here Kíli," the Prince stuttered, looking quickly over his brother's shoulder toward the dark doorway. Kíli's toes gripped Fíli's hair with surprising force before he slid his foot away and moved his body closer. The Prince felt the wet skin pressed against him, and then his head slammed into the stone throne when Kíli's warmth surrounded him in one easy movement. Any complaint he might have had was stopped with the pressure of Kíli's lips firmly atop his own. Their teeth clacked against each other and their tongues battled for dominance, but in the end Kíli bit his lip gently and pulled away with a teasing smile. Fíli's fingers clenched in his brother's sides, and his eyes widened as he gazed blankly above them at the dramatic shadows flickering across the ceiling. He was completely lost beneath the other man's movements.
"Too late," Kíli groaned in his ear and then the dark haired man was nearly jumping atop him, jerking his hips in wide circles. Fíli's mind was in shambles, lost in pleasure, though he managed to lower his gaze and look across his brother's face. He observed the way Kíli's eyes fluttered, and the way his irises reflected the flames from the lanterns. He noticed the deep flush in the other man's cheeks and chest, and the way his lips spread apart slightly each time he panted lustily. Fíli's eyes moved to the crown and he stared at it for a long while, smiling serenely as his brother rode him. Kíli shifted atop him and his attention moved back to the dancer's eyes then down his thin nose as his brother's legs tightened around his thighs.
"I don't like the way the western King looked at you tonight," Fíli murmured, reaching up a hand to rub a strand of hair from his brother's neck. Kíli laughed deeply, and bent close to run his tongue down the side of Fíli's face.
"Everyone was looking at me tonight," he teased, placing a sloppy kiss on his brother's chin before pressing his nose into the other man's beard. He nibbled lightly at the scraggly hairs and dragged his nails across the back of the older man's head.
"You like it don't you, the attention," Fíli groaned, running hands beneath the fabric draped over Kíli's legs before rubbing them along the inside of his thighs. He carefully avoided touching Kíli's cock, instead watching as it bobbed up and down, the golden snake catching the light.
"You like when people watch you, their arousal plain to see," he voiced gruffly, observing the tiny beads of cum that dripped from his brother with delight. He itched to taste him, but he did not have the physical ability in that moment to move much at all. Kíli's slick hole was far too enjoyable wrapped around his arousal.
"I like making men want what they cannot have," Kíli admitted coyly, and he pressed their brows together so that each time Kíli's eyes moved his lashes brushed against Fíli's. The younger man squeezed his muscles around the Prince's cock, and Fíli clenched his teeth and bucked up into him. A loud gasp escaped the Prince's mouth, followed by a deep moan, and then Kíli was looking directly into his eyes.
"I like making them jealous, of what belongs to you," the dancer whispered quietly, swiping his tongue across the rim of his ear.
"Only me?" Fíli asked, moving a hand to grip his brother's cock. The Prince stroked it fondly, running his thumb across the top while the rest of his fingers fondled the vein on the underside. Each time he reached the base, his thumb swiped across the head of the golden snake. He could see his brother's erection turning a deep red, and struggling within the constraint of the golden adornment. Kíli's fingers tightened increasingly in Fíli's shoulders and he threw his head back exposing his slender neck.
"Only you, meleth e-guilen," he gasped, his eyes squeezed tightly shut.
"You are the only man who's touched me while I dance, the only man that's ever made love to me. And you are the only man that ever will," Kíli admitted and he groaned as his brother's cock swelled slightly inside of him. Fíli was visibly close to finishing; his eyes were scrunched up, though he still desperately peeked through them to gaze upon his brother, and his fingers were struggling to do much other than tighten and loosen on Kíli's skin. He was deeply flushed and breathing heavily, and tiny droplets of sweat ran down his neck and into his shirt. Kíli bent forwards and licked one away, following up the trail it made, and Fíli moaned and thrust up into his slick heat unabashedly. His movements were jerky and uncoordinated and Kíli bounced atop his lap and screamed each time Fíli slunk completely inside him.
It was not long after that Fíli pulled his brother taught to his body and shuddered atop the throne. He pulsed inside the other several times, gently easing Kíli's body atop his with each spurt. His hands rubbed at his brother's belly and waist, and he fell slack against the throne then struggled to catch his breath. Fíli glanced at the other man, noting his still swollen cock, and he felt ashamed that he'd reached completion alone. Kíli clung to him desperately, still clenching around his softening length, and Fíli mustered every bit of energy he could before lifting the other man gently off him. Kíli's feet slid to the floor and the Prince turned him and gripped his hips, before he leant forwards and licked across his rear.
Kíli shook in his grip, his legs visibly quaking, and he struggled to stay standing as his brother thoroughly lapped at his entrance. He felt Fíli wrap a hand around his hardness again, and gasped when he was stroked with great precision. He knew the flush in his cheeks was spreading throughout the rest of his body, and he could hear his moans echoing off the stone walls in the room. Kíli felt his brother's seed leaking from his body and running down his legs, and his body jerked as the Prince licked it away. He wanted desperately to finish and he whimpered pitifully as his arousal became unbearable and his sack tightened agonizingly.
"Is it keeping you from coming, uzayang?" Fíli whispered, toying with the embellishment wrapped around his cock. Kíli nodded frantically and parted his legs when three of his brother's fingers glided between them to play with his entrance. They slipped in easily with the extra lubrication, and Kíli moaned frantically and nearly fell to the ground. Fíli pulled him back, propping him against his chest, and then the Prince kissed his neck tenderly. Kíli knew immediately when the golden snake was removed, for his climax hit instantly and he was jerking wildly in his brother's arms. Fíli still stroked him slowly, and when the last bit of seed left him, the Prince lifted his hands and licked it from his fingers. Kíli wilted in the other man's embrace and he sighed as Fíli lifted him to rest in his lap. The dancer tucked his head against his brother's chest while Fíli looked down at him fondly. The Prince was completely enamoured. He never wanted to let go of his beloved dancer, never wanted them to be apart, and his eyes were drawn once again to the circlet nestled in Kíli's dark locks.
"You keep looking at the crown," Kíli muttered lazily against his brother's chest, and Fíli gazed down at his sleepy face.
"I…I'm happy. I was worried, you would not…," the Prince trailed off, dragging a finger down Kíli's side.
"Your worries are for nothing, nadadel," Kíli whispered, and he turned in the embrace and wrapped his arms around the other man's neck. They kissed each other gently, tongues running lightly over lower lips, leaving swollen red flesh in their wake. Kíli smiled languidly and rest his head against his brother's shoulder.
"Perhaps Nori will take me on as his apprentice, I like walking in the shadows," Kíli murmured against his brother's skin, and Fíli chuckled lightly and ran a finger lightly down the side of the younger's face.
"I'm sure the shadows like having you, but I'm afraid the sun and moon would grow to miss you dearly," he uttered. Kíli smiled at him shyly and curled up against his body, cuddling against his brother's rumpled clothing. And they stayed there through the night, until the moonflowers in Kíli's hair folded back into lovely little stars, and sun leaked in through the cracks in the ceiling, until the lanterns had all burned out and the hallways began to bustle with activity. And unfortunately…until the King walked in and discovered them dishevelled and splayed shamelessly atop his throne.
AN: I just want to mention that modifying Sindarin words is unbearably complicated. Khuzdul is equally complex, especially when you start delving into verb modifiers and junk like that. Black speech, I found far easier to grasp, though the word selection is pretty limited. Sorry for mistakes :P.
Mânawenûz: Valarin for Manwë, the Blessed One, lord of air, wind, and clouds. The noblest and greatest in authority of all the Valar.
Srinkh, bûrgulu-izub: Gather, my shadows, in Black Speech
Varda: Queen of the stars, wife of Manwë, too beautiful for words.
Theryn/Thoron: Eagles/Eagle, in Sindarin
Mahmazar!: Fight!, in Khuzdul
Athhôrumun!: Summon!, in Khuzdul
Uzndashûh!: Greatest Birds!, in Khuzdul
Upndarûr: Greatest Cats!, in Khuzdul
Amanaišal: Unmarred, in Valarin
Ziimarp: Coward, in Black Speech
Mat: Die, in Black Speech
Mell nin: My Beloved, in Sindarin
Nûlukh: The Moon, in Khuzdul
Ûrzud: The Sun, in Khuzdul
Akhùthuzh: Eternal, in Khuzdul
Âzyung: Love, in Khuzdul
Aran: King, in Sindarin
Meleth e-guilen: Love of my life, in Sindarin
Uzayang: Greatest love, in Khuzdul
Nadadel: brother of all brothers, in Khuzdul
Panther: A powerful and protective presence, an aggressive guardian and a symbol of releasing ones passions and starting a new phase of life, while discovering your desires and living your dreams.
Columbine: A complex flower, used in both a positive and negative light, emblem of the deceived lovers.
Moonflower: Dreaming of love, intoxication, visions