CHAPTER ELEVEN - THREE SMELLY TROLLS

Disclaimer: I do not own the Hobbit or any of the characters/story lines that belong to it, all credit goes to J.R.R. Tolkien, in all his glory.


The Company, minus two of their youngest dwarves and one burglar, were settling down after being contented by dinner when a cry echoed out of the clearing that surrounded them.

"Thorin! Thorin!"

Elana started from her resting place near the fire, her sharp eyes discerning two figures running through the darkness.

Fili and Kili skidded to a halt by the campsite, their hair flying wildly around their panicked faces.

"What is it?" Thorin asked in alarm, standing to his feet in one fluid motion.

"The ponies," Kili breathed, "Some were missing and- and-"

"What did you do?" Thorin growled, approaching his nephews heavily.

"We sent Bilbo to fetch them but-"

"But?"

"There are trolls," Fili finished heavily, "Three of them."

"You are sure of this?" Thorin asked.

"Very sure," Fili said confidently.

Thorin looked around, apparently inwardly debating his next action.

"You sent Bilbo?" Elana asked incredulously, "To rescue ponies from trolls?"

Kili faced her guiltily and shrugged.

"Then why are we standing here?" she huffed, standing to her feet determinedly, "Bilbo's in trouble-"

A strong hand reached out to grip her arm, stopping her from walking ahead. Elana spun around to see Thorin, looking dangerously close to bursting.

"I will not risk the life of my kin for Master Baggins," Thorin said stiffly, "If he has decided to put his life in danger that is his decision."

Elana pulled her arm roughly from his grasp. "I don't care what you think. It's not Bilbo's fault they sent him in there."

She sent a glare over to the young dwarves, who notably cowered under it.

"I'm going to find Bilbo," she said, "Whether you like it or not."

She stalked off without looking back, Thorin's disapproving expression still burning in her mind. She sped up to a run, dodging nimbly over the odd rock and branch in the direction

of the ponies.

It was only until the fire of the campsite was a dim light in the distance did she slow down, bending over to catch her breath. Panic slowly began to overcome her.

What was she doing? Had she finally gone mad? She had run away from the only protection she had in this blasted Wilderness and into the midst of three trolls.

"By the Gods Elana, you've really done it this time," she whispered heavily.

Suddenly the ground beneath her vibrated with a sickening force, and she automatically reached out to grab a tree in her panic.

There was an unmistakable growling and voices in the distance. Elana willed herself to swallow her fear, reminding herself that this was Bilbo's life that was in danger.

With footsteps that barely made the leaves on the floor rustle, she made her way towards the rumbling of voices. Her sharp eyes aided her in staying clear of trees and rocks as the darkness thickened, until she saw a light shining dimly before her.

"I- I'm a burglar- uh, hobbit."

"A burglarobbit?"

Elana crouched low behind a fallen tree. She had to blink three times before she realised her eyes were not deceiving her.

They were just how the stories had described them – great, ugly beasts that looked as if their bodies had been hewn from the rock itself.

And there were three of them, all focused on a common object in the middle of their circle.

Bilbo.

He was managing to dodge any of their swipes and attempts to grab him, much to Elana's relief. But it wasn't too long before Bilbo became distracted, and one of the beasts grabbed the ends of his feet, holding him up upside down.

"Are there any more of you fellas hiding where ya shouldn't be?" one of the trolls growled, holding a weapon fashioned from a stick to Bilbo's heaving chest.

"No, no," Bilbo said quickly.

"He's lying," another troll accused, "Hover his toes over the fire!"

Bilbo squirmed desperately as they hovered him slowly above the roaring fire. Elana figured it was now or never.

"Hey!" she cried at the top of her lungs.

All four heads turned in her direction as she launched a stone in the direction of the troll who was holding Bilbo. The beast winced and growled in pain, but did not release his grip of the hobbit.

That was about when Elana realised she had no plan whatsoever.

"There's another!" the troll nearest to her cried excitedly.

"Looks like pies back on the menu," another growled.

The smallest of the three made a grab for her, but she dodged away from him with a small squeal.

"Look, can't we just talk this through," Elana said nervously, holding her hands up in truce, "All I want is Bilbo back."

They let out harsh howls that Elana could only guess were laughs.

"Wha' is he then?" one asked harshly, "Your mate or sommin?"

"My- what?" Elana scoffed.

She looked from the trolls stony faces to Bilbo, who was wide eyed and about a meter from being singed.

"I mean, yes," Elana said. She figured her only hope now was stalling the beasts. "He's my… mate. And I would very much like him back."

"Better luck next time then, girly," one almost chuckled, poking her roughly with his ladle.

"Who're you calling girly," Elana said defiantly, "I happen to be-"

A large hand reached out and grabbed her round the waist, squeezing the air out of her. Before she knew it she was being hung beside Bilbo, her feet heating up considerably due to the fire beneath them.

"Well that was just rude," she huffed.

"Shut your mouth," the troll growled.

"You shit yours!" Elana cried indignantly, "I didn't travel all this way to be groped by bloody trolls."

The troll holding her roared. "How does he put up with ya? Ya constant yappin's makin' my ears bleed."

Elana had no retort for this. Her stomach was lurching uncomfortably, and she was beginning to think she would be sick all over this trolls hand.

"We'll eat her first," the troll said maliciously, licking his lips, "Teach her a lesson."

He began to lower her closer to the fire, when a loud battle cry sounded out of the dense forest surrounding them.

Kili swung with all his might at the troll closest to him, hitting its ankle and sending it wailing to the ground.

"Drop them!" he cried, holding his sword threateningly.

"You wha'?" one of the troll's cried.

"I said… drop them," Kili said, emphasizing each word.

The troll holding Bilbo growled and flicked his wrist, sending Bilbo flying into Kili. Both toppled to the ground in a tangled heap.

Just as quickly as they had fallen, the bushes around them ruffled and dwarves began to fill the clearing from every direction. They cried loudly and lashed out with their heavy weapons, attacking every part of the trolls they could reach.

It was Ori who sent a well-aimed rock into the eye of the troll who still held Elana tightly. The troll wailed in pain and dropped her. Elana free fell for a few stomach lurching seconds, before Fili caught her easily.

"Thanks," she said breathlessly, as she staggered to the ground.

"Here," Fili said hurriedly. He handed her a short dagger from his hidden stash. "This should help."

Before Elana could say that she didn't know the first thing about using a dagger, Fili disappeared into the frenzy of trolls and dwarves.

"Bilbo. Find Bilbo," she muttered.

She dodged through the battle, her eyes searching for the familiar figure in a red coat, but she couldn't see any sign of him.

"Elana!" Kili cried.

Her arm was grabbed suddenly and she was lurched sideways, just as a giant foot stepped on where she had been standing.

"Watch it!" Elana squealed, as a hand surged to Kili.

She gripped Fili's dagger and thrusted it into the hard flesh. The troll yelped and staggered backwards away from them.

Elana grinned triumphantly, but it was short lived.

Kili put a hand on her shoulder to bring her protectively behind him. All the dwarves had congregated in the one area, staring up at the trolls, two of which held Bilbo by his limbs. They looked ready to tear him at any moment.

"Bilbo!" Elana gasped. She made forward but Kili's hand stopped her.

"Lay down your arms, or we'll rip his off!" a troll growled.

They waited with baited breaths, and Elana glanced at Thorin. He growled heavily and thrusted his sword into the ground.

What followed that simple action was not one of the most dignified moments in Elana's life.

If she ever returned from this journey, being tied up in a sack and forced to lie among smelly and half naked dwarves would not be a memory she would remember fondly. Though she should be glad she wasn't in the half who were roasting over the fire.

"Elana," Bilbo whispered. He attempted to awkwardly shuffle over to her. "Are you alright?"

"This isn't one of my best moments," she said, "I'm fine. Are you hurt?"

Bilbo shook his head, "Thank you… for coming for me. For a moment I didn't think anyone would."

"What are friends for," Elana said, before she knew what she was saying.

Bilbo frowned and stared at her.

"Have you got a plan?" Elana asked, hoping to change the topic as soon as possible, "I'm out of ideas."

Bilbo seemed to wake from his thoughts then and paused.

"You stalled them," he said suddenly, "That's about as much as we can do-"

"'Ere, wha' are you two whisperin' 'bout?" a troll growled, looking accusingly at the hobbits.

"Uh…" Elana mumbled uncertainly.

"Cooking," Bilbo said suddenly. "We were talking about the… seasoning."

"We were?" Elana frowned.

"Of course we were, Elana," Bilbo said pointedly. He struggled to get to his feet wrapped in the sack, and hopped awkwardly forward.

"You are making a huge mistake with the seasoning," Bilbo said.

"Wha' about the seasonin'?" a troll asked, crouching down to glare at him.

"Well… have you smelt them?" Bilbo said, gesturing to the dwarves, "You're going to need something a lot stronger than sage before you plate this lot up."

There was a moment of stunned silence before yells and cries of protests from the dwarves filled the air.

"Traitor!"

"I won't forget that!"

Elana sighed and rolled her eyes. For smart folk they were quite daft at times. She caught Thorin's eye, who was lying a few feet away from her and shook her head. He frowned, obviously confused, when she gestured to Bilbo.

"What do you know about cooking dwarf?" one of the trolls cried suspiciously.

"Shut up," another growled, "Let the flurglaburglarobbit talk."

"Uh, right," Bilbo said, daring a nervous glance to Elana for help, "The secret to cooking dwarf is-"

"Yes, what is it?"

"Yes, I'm telling you – the secret is…" Bilbo trailed off uncertainly, "To skin them first!"

The uproar from the dwarves was even worse than before. Elana tried to reassure a few that it wasn't what they thought, but they refused to listen.

"Wha' a load of rubbish!" a troll growled, "I've eaten plenty with their skins on. Scoff 'em I say."

"He's right! Nothin' wrong with a bit of raw dwarf," the smallest said.

He eagerly looked over to the pile in the sacks and picked up Bombur by his feet. The dwarf shook nervously and cried out for help.

"Not that one!" Elana cried suddenly, seeing Bilbo looked at a lost, "He's infected."

"You wha'?" the troll cried.

Elana stuttered and looked to Bilbo, who shrugged and nodded for her to continue.

"He's got uh… worms?" Elana said, "In his… tubes…"

The troll groaned in disgust and threw Bombur roughly back onto the pile.

"She's right," Bilbo said, "They're all infected. I really wouldn't risk it."

"Parasites?" Oin cried.

"We don't have parasites," Kili said indignantly, looking between eh two hobbits.

Elana huffed impatiently and looked over to Thorin, giving him another significant look. Thorin, finally understanding the plan, sent a well-aimed kick in the other's direction, shutting them up.

They all look over to his leader and realisation slowly dawned over their faces.

"I've got… parasites as big as my arm!"

"I've got huge parasites."

"Yes, we're riddled."

"What would you have us do then, eh? Let 'em all go?" the skeptical troll cried.

"Well…"

"You think I don't know wha' you two are up to?" the troll growled, glaring at the hobbits, "You ferrets are taking us for fools!"

"Hey, who are you calling-?" Elana began indignantly.

"The dawn will take you all!"

A loud crack sounded and the morning light filtered through the clearing, bathing them in sun. The trolls cried and wailed in pain and slowly, they began to turn to stone, freezing in their stances.

As the sunlight was dimmed slightly, Gandalf came into view, standing on top of the rock.

Elana let out a deep sigh of relief and the dwarves all cheered loudly.

"By the Gods," she muttered, tilting her head back.

"Close call," Bilbo said.

Elana looked up and saw he had been freed from his sack.

"Too close," Elana said, smiling, "Care to help me out?"

"Oh, I don't know," Bilbo shrugged, "I think the sack suits you."

"Don't push your luck," Elana said.

Bilbo's smile widened and he bent down to untie the knot of the sack. Elana looked around purposely, watching as Bofur and Bifur helped their cousin back into his overalls, to try avoid thinking about how close Bilbo was.

"Thank goodness you caught on," Bilbo said, stepping back to allow Elana to step out of the sack. He held out his hand to help her up and she took it appreciatively. "Or they might have blown my cover."

"We are the burglars for a reason," Elana smirked.

"You did alright, hobbits," Kili said, sauntering over with a grin. "Smart thinking there, Bilbo."

"Yes, thank you," Bilbo said appreciatively. Though he was slightly put out the dwarf seemed to appear whenever he was making progress with Elana.

"You too, Elana," Kili said, nudging her with his elbow.

"Why thank you," Elana smiled, "If you don't mind, I'd rather like to start those defense lessons soon. After, well…"

"You weren't too bad," Kili encouraged, "Mind you, you were almost flattened but we can overlook that."

Elana laughed, "Right – tonight then. I'm looking forward to it."

She excused herself then, making for Gandalf and still laughing quietly to herself.

Kili stared after her, still laughing a little himself, to which Bilbo was less than pleased about.

"Tonight, Bilbo," Kili grinned, raising his eyebrows suggestively. He laughed and clapped the hobbit on the shoulder before leaving him to his thoughts.

Tonight.

Bilbo sighed to himself, his eyes darting from Elana to Kili. This was going to be an interesting day…