Bella's Journey

Chapter 25

The deep resounding ringing of the golden bells of Erebor awoke Bella from her drugged slumber. Opening her eyes, she found herself lying on the ground beside a small fire opposite her brother. She watched him for a moment through half closed eyes. As he sat on the ground and seemed to be talking to himself softly while rocking back and forth.

She recognised the sound of the bells having heard them ringing after Thorin and her had wed. Now she knew they rang for her again, only this time not celebrate her coming to Erebor but her absence. If she could hear the bells then she knew Bilbo could not have taken her far from her home.

Why he had taken her she did not know, it could simply not be because he wanted her to return to the Shire or because she had married Thorin, because neither explained the madness of his actions.

When she tried to move her hands she found them tied behind her back and even with her many gifts she could not focus enough to remove whatever he had used to tie her. Her mind felt clouded and dark.

Bilbo must have sensed her watching him because he stopped rocking and lifted his head to look at her. She expected him to say he was sorry or to be angry, instead he seemed to stare at her blankly as though he could see through her before he focused on her.

"Bilbo why are you doing this?"

Her voice seemed to reach into him drawing him out.

"It's not safe in that mountain." He whispered.

She felt tears falling down her face, what had happened to her brother. If she had spent more time with him and less avoiding him then maybe she could have stopped this from happening.

The lonesome cry of a wrag stopped Bella from trying to reason further with her brother. Struggling she was able to get to her knees with her hands still tied behind her back. The world around her spun as she tried to see in which direction was the mountain but then she saw it. Erebor, rising tall in the distant moon light a dark shadow against a bright star filled sky. Erebor, just looking at it seemed to give her strength. She had to get back home.

Now she heard the many cries of wrags and they seemed to be getting closer. Fear trickled down her spine as she recalled how large and fast the beasts could move. Stumbling over to Bilbo, she breathed through the nausea and, she knelt down again, trying to make eye contact.

"Bilbo you have to listen to me. Something is coming that will kill us both. I need you to free my hands." When he continued to stare at her blankly, she screamed, "Brother we are both going to die." When he only raised his head and seemed unmoved by her plea, she started to tremble with terror.

From the darkness came ten white wrag, like pale ghosts, with ten white orc riders upon them. The deep rumble of their growls only added to her growing horror. Stepping between her brother and the riders, she tried to stand tall but whatever drug her brother had given her made it difficult to stay still and not sway.

Thorin felt as though he was going insane. The palace had been searched and still no sign of Bella could be found. Finally Balin came to him and told him what he already feared, Bella could not been found in Erebor either.

"I have failed her Balin; I promised her I would keep her safe."

"Bilbo is missing as well. Did you and Bella argue? She may have decided to return to the shire."

Running both hands through his hair, he paced back and forth thinking about their last moments together.

"She may have been angry about being guarded within Erebor but we had no disagreements."

Dwalin joined them, carrying his battle-axe. Seeing him, Thorin removed his outer robe and crown and tossed it at a waiting servant. Another servant hurried forward carrying his sword and axe Thorin quickly strapped them on. "Dwalin ready the army, we set out for the Shire immediately. Leave the heavy armour, we will be moving fast."

"We should take the gifts from Lord Dain; it would give us added speed."


Bella screamed in pain as a large white Orc twisted her loose hair in his tight fist and lifted her up to smell her.

"You stink of dwarf."

"Get your filthy hands off me." She screamed at him, while she tried to kick her way free of him.

For her outburst of anger, she was roughly shaken by her hair before she felt the large moist tongue of the orc run up one side of her cheek.

"You may stink of dwarf but you will taste so good." He snarled at her.

Bella could not stop the whimper that escaped from her lips.

Suddenly Bella felt herself being dropped from his tight grasp, as battle roars filled the air. Bella lay weakly on the ground trying to regain the breath that had been knocked out of her. Opening her eyes, she grazed dully at a pair of large steal tipped boots that stood directly in front of her. A sob of relief escaped from her as she recognized the boots before her. Looking up she saw Thorin standing over her as dwarves ran forward and began battling the Orc riders.

Gentle hands turned her, and saw Bifur gently turning her and picking her up, while a circle of dwarves with shields surrounded them.

"Easy lass" he said gently.

"My hands are tied, can you release them?"

Setting her down on her own feet, he turned her and after a moment, she felt what had been holding her hands slip free and fall. Turning she saw that it had not been rope but the same delicate chain, similar in appearance to the chain Thorin had used to tie her hands when he had carried her into Erebor. The chain had prevented her from using her gifts. Her hands tingled painfully as the blood rushed back into fingers. Flexing her fingers as she looked about, she saw that most of the Orc were dead and those that remained were hopelessly out numbered. Thorin had just beheaded the Orc who had licked her and Bella could not find any remorse for the loss of life.

Looking about for Bilbo, she saw him huddles against a large rock, looking confused at the violence and death around them. She wanted to go over to him and talk, but a wall of armed dwarves prevented her from approaching and when she asked them to move aside she was met with grim faced silence.

"Thorin, I need to talk to Bilbo, tell them to let me pass." She shouted loudly.

Thorin either did not hear her or refused to acknowledge her, as he walked over to her brother, with his sword still drawn and bloodied from battle. Bella knew that Thorin would not kill Bilbo but fear still crept into her heart when she saw the raw rage on his face as he picked up Bilbo with one fist and shook him roughly. She could not hear what he was saying but her brother's face went even paler and he struggled to free himself from Thorin's tight grip.

She watched helplessly as Thorin threw Bilbo toward a group of dwarves who quickly picked him up and bound his hands. Thorin then came to her, as he approached the guards moved aside quickly and then closed around them once more.

Bella did not know what to say but Thorin didn't seem to need words. Gathering her close he held her tight for a moment before he stepped back and looked her over closely.

"I'm not hurt Thorin." She told him, wanting to reassure him.

"If I had been a few moments later, you would be a dead." He stated plainly and for a moment, his arms tightened painfully around her before he loosed his hold on her again.

"I think Bilbo was under some kind of spell. He seemed to be under some kind of compulsion to take me outside Erebor and once he had done that, he just shut down. I tried talking to him but he looked right through me. If you let talk to him again, then maybe I can figure out what happened to him."

"You are not coming anywhere near that little worm. The most I can do is spare his life. If he is under some curse I will send for Gandalf and he can examine him and until then he will be kept far away from you."

Bella felt her own anger rising as he spoke to her, "He is my brother, and as it was my life he was threatening then I should have a say of what happens to him."

"Wrong! You belong to me and it was not just your life he would have taken but that of our unborn child."

Bella felt the ground shake beneath her feet; and it was only Thorin's tight grip on her that prevented her from slipping to the ground in a graceless heap.

"You can't know about that yet, it's too soon." She whispered in reply.

"I noticed the changes in your body, for several weeks I was simply waiting for you to be ready to accept the truth."

Bella thought back to her last monthly and realized that maybe he was right about the possibility of a baby. She moved a hand over her usually flat stomach and felt a tiny bulge that had not been there before.

Seeing her shocked expression, Thorin face seemed to soften a little.

"It has been a dream of mine to see your body heavy with my child."

Bella wanted to talk about it more but knew they could have this conversation later when they were alone; right now, she had to convince Thorin not to kill Bilbo. Taking a few steps back, she put a hand to ward him off as she stumbled a little on the hard ground with her bare feet.

"We need to know who put a spell on Bilbo that made him act this way and who gave him the enchanted chain that was able to keep my hands tied."

Whatever softening Thorin might have felt with her becoming aware of their baby, was gone in an instant when she asked about her brother. She watched his face hardened, and when he took a step toward her she couldn't help but retreat a second step back. Growling he continued toward her, and swung her up into his arms bridal style and continued walking until he reached an animal that closely resembled a goat except it was larger than any goat she had ever seen.

Long brown shaggy hair, with large curved brown horns that rose up before curling down, cat like green eyes watched them as Thorin gripped the saddle horn securely and swung them up. Bella had to hold onto Thorin tightly when the beast started a fast pace for home. As they approached a steep cliff, the animal did not slow down but leaped downward seeming to find impossibly small cliffs with its nimble hooves. Bella felt her stomach flip and roll at the dizzying speed with which they descended. Turning her head away, she noticed that they were not alone; around them were several other riders on the large shaggy goats. When she saw Bilbo draped over Dwalin's saddle she, felt relieved, to see that he had not been left behind.

As the gates of Erebor came closer, the ringing of the bells became louder. The watchmen must have spotted them because a second bell began to ring. The outer doors swung open in welcome and after they passed through Thorin stopped before several waiting servants who hurried forward to take the reins.

Without seeming to stop, Thorin swung them down and was barking out orders in rapid secession.

"Have a meal brought to my chambers and put that traitor in the deepest darkest cell. I want him guarded at all times. Send Balin to me immediately."

"No, Thorin. Please I beg you don't hurt Bilbo." Bella cried tearfully.

Bella struggled to free herself from his warm embrace. Not wanting to have her fall, he carefully set her feet down but stayed close and kept an arm around her.

"Don't ask this of me Bella." Thorin snarled in response.

"I think he was under some kind of spell, if you would let me go to him maybe I can find out what happened to him. Please listen."

She gripped his arm while trying to convince him to change his mind.

"If I agree to let him be sent out immediately to Gandalf, you must agree to never see him again and to stay within Erebor, until such a time comes when I think it is safe for you."

Bella felt more tears falling and wiping them away with the torn sleeve of her nightgown she nodded her head yes. Grateful that Thorin was willing to have Gandalf look at him instead of torturing him a dark cell somewhere.

Seeing her agreement, he swung her up and carried her into the palace and to their private bath chamber. Telling the maid Edys to come with them he carefully removed her dirty torn sleeping gown and tossed it aside.

Bella tried to hide her body from him by lowering her head and causing her hair to swing down in front. She heard Thorin curse loudly and Edys gasp. Looking at herself she was not surprised by the multitude of colourful bruises and scrapes over her body, she ached everywhere. By morning, she knew that the number of bruises on her would continue to grow.

"If I had not given you my word about that tractor I would go to him now and relieve him of his head." Thorin bit out the words heatedly.

In quick hurried moved he removed his own clothes and boots while a shy Edys fled the room saying she would look for warmer dry clothes.

When Bella swayed on her scrapped feet, Thorin picked her up once more and with careful steps, he carried into the soothingly warm waters of the bath. Using a bar of soap, he slowly lathered the soap over her body with gentle strokes before he rinsed it away. Carrying her out he sat her down and let Edys pat her dry, while he wrapped a towel around his hips. Then once more, he carried her to their bedroom, where a large fire was now burning in the fireplace.

Thorin placed her onto a bed with the covers already turned down invitingly. Hot stones warmed by the fire and wrapped in linen were placed by her feet, to keep the chill away, while a multitude of blankets and firs where piled on top.

Bella could feel her body pulling her into the welcoming arms of sleep; she had one more question for her husband, who stood by watching the maid make her comfortable.

"You don't think I left with Bilbo willingly do you?"

When he didn't answer right away, she grew worried and tried to sit up only to have Thorin push her gently back into the bed.

"No, lass."

Satisfied with his answer, she closed her eyes and tried to get some rest.

Thorin continued watching her for a moment before he turned and left the room, making sure that Edys would continue to watch over her mistress while she slept before going to Balin. He found him waiting in his private study with Dwalin. Both brothers looked very grim as he entered.

"How fairs the queen?" Balin asked.

"She is resting, though her slumber is light. The child she carries remains safe."

"I congratulate you on having conceived a child so soon after your vows. I know all of Erebor had been waiting to hear news of another heir."

Dwalin was silent and knew that this was not the reason why he has been called here at this late hour. He watched his King, pace back and forth in agitation.

"I was arrogant in thinking that all the dangers to Bella were outside my walls. Bella now carries the future heir to the throne, and must be kept safe, even if it means gaining her anger. Dwalin, I want you to tell the guards to the gates that Bella is not permitted to leave Erebor."

"For how long?" He asked.

"Indefinitely." Thorin replied.

"If you do this Thorin, she may grow to hate you and these walls", cautioned Balin.

Balin looked saddened by Thorin's plan but Dwalin knew that Thorin was right.

"Balin I want you to tell the servants that she is never to be left alone again, unless she is with me or one of her brothers."

"Bella will never agree to this." Balin advised.

He was still trying to pull Thorin back from his plan for the queen's imprisonment.

Thorin cut him off angrily, "She has already agreed, to spare her brother."

"Ah I see."

"No you don't see. I failed to keep her safe. I let my desire to keep her happy over shadow the knowledge of how much danger I knew she was in. I will not allow that to happen again. I will not lose her again."

"I fear though you may lose her another way though. If you try to hold onto her to tightly, you may find that you will end up holding nothing at all. Tread carefully." Balin warned again.

"Thorin's right. Erebor needs stability, and if anything happened to the new queen it would be seen as weakness within Erebor." Dwalin commented.

"I want both of you to find out how a hobbit was able to get Bella past her own guards and past the outer gates without any guard noticing. I cannot believe he was working alone. At dawns, first light I want Bilbo brought from his cell and taken to Rivendell. Gandalf is staying with the elves I believe. Maybe that wizard can find out what cures has been placed on that halfwit."