AN: Pay attention to the time line...I switch it up in this chapter.
More plot development here, hope it's not too slow or boring...
Thanks to all of you who are reviewing and following! I do appreciate your support of this fic. It does mean a lot! And this is not beta'd and I just skimmed it for proof reading, so I hope there's not too many mistakes.
Thanks! Love, hugs, and naked Benedict's to you all and Richard Armitage's should you so wish or whoever you wish...
Legolas and Thorin sat side by side, both as silent as the grave, as if each one were contemplating some form of inner grief and turmoil. Having the dwarf prince ask about Tauriel had reawakened old wounds and the wounds were still raw as they had never fully healed.
And for Thorin, not only did her grieve for her, he suffered regret and thoughts of what if…what if I had told her…what if I had only had the courage to tell her…could she have loved me…
As the four elvish boats moved down the river, there appeared before them on the bank a little ways down a large barge that was floating in place.
"That is the barge of the bowman from Lake Town." Oropher called to Legolas from another boat.
Legolas searched the landscape as they approached, his keen eyes sweeping over the rock and woods.
"What would possess the Prince of Mirkwood to take up the company of dwarves?" A male voice called from one of the rocks as they group passed by.
"Bard!" Oropher called out excitedly and leapt gracefully from the boat to the bank. "My friend, how fare you?"
Bard smiled and walked toward Oropher with his hand extended. "I am well and you, my friend?"
"I am on an adventure." Oropher said cheerfully. "We travel with the dwarves as their guard."
Legolas and the other elves steered the four boats towards the bank. As Legolas was climbing from the boat, Oropher called out to him. "Legolas come and meet my friend, the keeper of peace at Lake Town."
"I am hardly the keeper of peace Oropher." Bard said softly.
"You do what you can for the townfolk, do you not? You have become their advocate and protector." Oropher said clasping his arm. "You are a good man."
Bard shrugged. "I do the best I can with what I am given."
Legolas approached them. He greeted Bard as he would one of his own kind, with his hand over his heart and a bow. Bard repeated the gesture as he had seen it many times over the past years. Bard was very well known to the elves of Mirkwood and well liked.
"Why do these dwarves need a guard?" Bard asked. "They look like they are more than capable of protecting themselves, especially that one…" He said pointing to Thorin. "He looks as hard and dour as any I have ever seen."
"His heart troubles him." Oropher said. "As do his thoughts."
"Though he's always brooding." Legolas added.
"We accompany Thorin Oakenshield to the Lonely Mountain." Oropher said.
Bard's eyes widened as his face took on an ashen color. "Are you mad?" He shouted. "Do you know what lies beneath that mountain? Have you not heard the prophecy deep within your woodland realm? If he awakens that beast…nothing but death will follow."
"We will not awaken the beast." Thorin said coming to stand beside Oropher. "Besides, there has been no talk of Smaug for the past sixty years. How do we even know if he is still there?"
"Of course he is still there!" Bard shouted. "He's a dragon. They will guard their plunder till death. You cannot do this! You do not have the right to do this. You will bring death upon us all."
"I have the only right. I am the true heir…the true King under the mountain and I will see our homeland returned to my people. No longer will we wander about as orphans…I will bring my people home." Thorin said determinedly.
"Thranduil cannot be for this. This is madness, surely you must see this." Bard exclaimed.
"My father sent us with aid to help Oakenshield with his quest. We know the dangers, but we are confident that Smaug, should he still be asleep under the mountain, will not be awakened." Legolas said.
"Tell me something Thorin Oakenshield. How do you plan on bringing your people home, reclaiming and rebuilding the city, rebuilding a life for your kin without the great beast hearing you? Do you plan on issuing a decree that all people must move about the mountain as a mouse? He will hear you coming and awaken and then he will lay waste to your kin once again." Bard argued.
"I seek the arkenstone Bargeman. Once I have this in my possession, the whole of my kin will come will I call them. I will bring together the great armies of the seven dwarf families and we will drive Smaug from the mountain." Thorin said confidently.
"This is folly! Not with an army of dwarves and men could you do this." Bard said.
"It will not come to that. "Legolas said. "Do not worry so over things that have not yet come to pass."
"Please my friend, do not think we would willing be the cause of something that could bring about death and destruction to your people." Oropher pleaded.
"Smaug will never know we are there." Thorin said.
"And how can you be so certain?" Bard asked.
"We have a burglar." Thorin said simply.
160 years ago: Dol guldur
Smaug moved cautiously over the stone bridge that would lead him inside of the once great fortress. He listened carefully for the whispers, but no longer did he hear them calling to him. He stepped over the threshold and looked up, his eyes sweeping over the grounds.
"I am here." Smaug called out. "I have come."
He was met with silence. He walked further into the grounds, climbing up one side of the ruined wall to peer out over the entire grounds. He called out again.
"I am here! Show yourself!"
Again there was nothing but silence. He sighed deeply beginning to wonder if perhaps he was beginning to show signs of madness. He made his way back down the side of the ruins and was about to make his way back out when he heard a sound. He whirled around quickly. Before him stood a large stone archway that on the inside was nothing but darkness.
Smaug stepped forward and peered into the darkness. "I am here." He whispered.
As am I….the voice whispered back at him from the darkness. I have a gift for you Smaug the magnificent…
Out of the darkness came a small object. It hit Smaug on his chest before bouncing of and landing on the stone ground. He stepped forward and leaned over the object.
You know what this is Smaug…take it up, it is yours and it will give you what you desire….
Smaug reached down and plucked the silver ring with the fire red ruby from the ground. He held it in his massive paw, his eyes taking in its beauty with all the lust and greed of a dragon.
You remember the words I taught you to speak…
"Oh yes." Smaug said. "Yessss….She will be mine now?"
For as long as you wish it…
"I wish it to be for all eternity."
Then it will be as you wish…she is yours now and forever…go now and do not forget your oath to me Smaug…
"I will not forget. I pledge my allegiance to you now and for always for your kindness to me." Smaug said. He bowed his head. "My Lord Sauron…I will await your command."
Bard watched as the two nephews of Thorin regaled his youngest daughter with wild tales of glorious adventures, cave trolls, goblin tunnels, and of a homeland lost long ago. His daughter listened with all of her attention, her own child's imagination bringing the words to life in her mind's eye.
Fili had just begun to regale another story that was of a more lurid subject before he was called down.
"Fili!" Thorin snapped. "That is no tale for a child!"
"Sorry Uncle." Fili said abashed. "Bilbo, come and tell her of the shire."
"Oh yes do!" Tilda said excitedly. "I do so love to hear about places that I have never been."
Bilbo joined them in the corner of the room and began to regale her with his own tales of adventure and Gandalf's fireworks.
Thorin watched as Bard spoke with Oropher and Legolas. He sighed deeply. He was restless and did not wish to stay any longer in Lake Town or the bow man's house. He moved to the window and stared outside, his eyes sweeping over the gloomy and depressed town until his eyes found and rested on a wondrous site in deed. He gasped sharply and turned to look at Bard.
"What?" Bard asked feeling the dwarf's eyes on him.
"What is it Thorin?" Balin asked rising from his seat.
"It is a dwarvish ballista…a wind lance…" Thorin said half in awe.
Balin approached the window quickly and looked out. "Aye…the weapon used to defend the city of Dale when Smaug attacked Erebor."
Tilda got up and quickly came to the window. "Oh yes! The wind lance that fires the black arrows…the arrows that can pierce the dragons hide."
'Had the hearts of men been pure that day, the Lord of Dale's aim would have been true." Thorin said harshly.
"Oh no Master Dwarf." She said. "You are mistaken. The Lord of Dale did hit the dragon, on the underside of his belly. Everyone knows the story."
Throin looked at her and started to speak harshly to her until he saw her sweet, innocent, smiling face. He swallowed down his anger for her sake and smiled gently at her. "No lass that is just one of many tales that have been told about that day."
"Oh…" Tilda said still smiling. "It's a good tale…I like to hear it. I love adventure stories."
Thorin gave Bard a look that told him he wanted to speak to him privately. Balin stepped forward and took the girl's arm. "Then I have many a tale for you little one. Come and keep an old dwarf company."
Thorin watched Balin lead the child away. "We must leave tonight. Which is the quickest route through this city?" Thorin asked.
"You cannot pass without meeting the Master. If you did not have the elves with you, it is possible he would not demand an audience, but as I am sure word has reached him that a company of dwarves has entered his city accompanied by no less than the son of Thranduil…" Bard did not bother to finish his sentence.
Thorin sighed in annoyance. "Fine, if he will demand an audience, then we will give him one tonight. Take me to this Master of Lake Town."
"Very well." Bard replied. As Thorin and the dwarves prepared to go, Bard pulled his son aside. "You know where I have hidden it."
"Yes da…" Bain replied.
"Keep it safe and hidden. And pray that you will not have to use it. You keep your sisters safe."
Bain frowned. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going with them to the Lonely Mountain…I have to make sure that they do not wake him…son…you know what would happen if he is awakened."
The boy nodded and looked at his father with a grim expression. "He will bring fire and death upon us all."
Bard did not acknowledge his son's prediction. "Just keep the arrow safe. Keep it where I told you too and if anything happens, you leave here and take your sisters with you."
Bain shook his head vehemently. "No Da…what about you?"
Bard grabbed his son's shoulders. "Don't worry about me son. I will be fine, you just do as I say and get your sisters out of here. Do you understand?"
Bain nodded. "Yes sir."
"Bowman, we do not have all night." Thorin said.
"I am ready when you are Master Dwarf." Bard said before pulling his son to him. "Remember what I said. Be brave, don't be foolish, and keep your sisters safe. If anything should happen, know that I will find you all and that I love you."
Thorin opened the door and began leading the company of dwarves out of the small house. Legolas and Oropher waited on Bard who was with his daughters. He hugged Sigrid and spoke gently to her. By the expression on her face, it was clear she had discovered her father's mind, but for the sake of Tilda, said nothing. The bow man lifted Tilda into his arms and hugged her, kissing both her cheeks before placing her back on her feet.
"I love you both, be good girls and mind your brother." Bard said as he turned to go.
"We will da…" Sigrid promised trying unsuccessfully to keep the tears from her eyes.
159 years ago
"I do not understand why you insist upon going into the towns." Legolas said frowning. "You are the Captain of the guard; following along a trade detail is beneath you."
"I like going into the towns." Tauriel said patiently. "I like to see how the people have rebuilt and prospered after losing so much."
"The dwarf is gone. He has left for the Blue Mountains with his kin. You will never see him again."
Tauriel swallowed. "Then why should you care if I go." She turned and stomped away from him.
Legolas sighed. "Tauriel…I meant no offense…"
"Let her go." Thranduil said coming to stand beside his son. "If she truly cared for this dwarf…" He sneered with a look of distaste. "But I feel surely you must be mistaken. However, if you are not and she is indeed besotted with the dwarf, let her go and see how little he cared for her. That he is not there in the towns, that he is nowhere to be found. It was no trouble for him to leave her. And then she will see how foolish it was to become infatuated with the likes of Thorin, grieve him for a short while, and move on."
Both Legolas and Thranduil watched as Tauriel mounted her horse and rode out ahead of the party of elves. She turned back to see if they had begun following her and felt eyes upon her. She made eye contact with Legolas and narrowed her eyes before abruptly turning her horse and riding on. A company of ten elves followed after her.
Tauriel walked among the people of Lake Town nodding in greeting and stopping to speak with those with whom she remembered after the attack of Smaug. She was delighted to see how well the townsfolk were coming along and spirits seemed to be lifted only a year after the aftermath of such devastation.
She walked for a long time. In truth, she was looking for him…for Thorin. Part of her knew that he was indeed long gone. Gone with the rest of kin to make a new life within the Blue Mountains and that she would most likely never see him again. She knew it was foolish, after all she was elf kind and he was a dwarf and in the world's eyes, they would have made an ugly pair. But in her heart of hearts, she cared not what the world thought. She didn't care what her kin would have thought, and she did not care what her King would have thought. But it mattered little now, Thorin was gone.
"Hello." A male voice spoke behind her.
"Oh!" Tauriel said startled while inwardly kicking herself for allowing herself to be startled when this man could have been a threat to her. She turned around to face him and smiled when she saw him. He was another townsman, granted one that she had never seen before, but by his clothing and bearing, she knew him to be from Lake Town.
"I didn't mean to startle you." He said his deep voice rumbling. "You'll forgive me for taking the liberty of speaking to you, but I've never actually seen an elf in person."
Tauriel smiled warmly, feeling herself blush at his appraising gaze. "It is alright. My kind are used to the curiously of men."
The man stepped closer to her and coincidentally further into the light. Tauriel was surprised by his appearance. He was quite handsome, very tall, and of a nice build. He was pale in coloring, but had the loveliest green eyes. His unruly mop of brown curls sat haphazardly on his head.
"I am Aleric." He said smiling shyly.
She bowed her head slightly, placing her hand over her heart. "I am Tauriel."
"T-A-U-R-I—E-L…" Her name rolled of his tongue slowly and almost seductively. "It is a beautiful name. It is fitting for one so lovely." He said taking her hand in his and bringing it to his lips for a kiss.
Tauriel was surprised at his boldness and felt herself flush. She quickly looked away.
"I am sorry if I have offended you." He said quickly, the deep tones of his voice seeming to roll over her body.
"No, you didn't offend me. I was just…walking…" She said a bit flustered.
"May I walk with you? The night sky is particularly clear and lovely tonight. You can see every star in the night sky. Look at how they dance and sparkle."He said stepping closer to her.
She felt the flush move from her neck to the tips of her pointed ears. She quickly looked up to the sky and prayed the night air would cool her skin. "It is a beautiful, clear night."
He held his arm out to her. "Shall I walk you back to your camp?"
She glanced at him, trying to hide her smile. "If you like."
She took the hand her offered her and he tucked it into the crook of his arm. They walked side by side in silence into the night.
Hope you all enjoyed! Leave a review please and let me know your thoughts and I think it's safe to say that the shit it about to hit the fan :)
Time Reviewer: Of course I knew Benny was the necromancer. If you close your eyes and listen to him, you can hear Khan in his voice! It's sexy in a creepy sort of way…or maybe I'm just weird, I don't know…you know, him being the equivalent of the devil and all and well I'm more of a God/Eru fan…but you know we can all be thankful for Benny and his creepy sexy voices and now I am the one rambling and my other readers probably don't care about our conversation, but since you REFUSE to actually sign up so we could email each other, they have to suffer through our shenanigans…just saying! Oh and btw…you'll find this amusing…some of my reviews for the story that I wrote for you actually left a note for you, lol!