Translation of Elvish: Peredhel - Half-elf. Mellonen - My friend.
Chapter 29 - Unwelcome News
Now (1 F.A.)
The Master Miner, Tulk, kept on talking about all the different gems that had been found in this newest tunnel and Thorin sighed to himself. They had been walking around for hours now, and the king was growing somewhat tired. Additionally, his mind was somewhere...quite different already. Bilbo would beg for mercy before he was done with him tonight, and oh, how he was looking forward to having his way with his soon-to-be consort under the blanket of a starry sky. "We think there is some Mithril down below as well, your Majesty." What? Mithril? Suddenly Thorin was very much attentive again, giving the Master of the Mines a questioning look. "Yes, Mithril. One of the lads saw something shine, silvery at that. That can only mean one thing. Our elven friends will be beside themselves when they hear of it." Elven friends. How the mighty have fallen, my King. It was better than the bloodshed of the past, well, unless one thought of Thingol's blood being spilled. Even Turgon agreed to some extent that the Sinda had brought his fate upon himself.
"How soon until you will be able to survey the vein?" The silvery metal had been the root of Khazad-dûm's wealth and had never been found in Erebor. But to be able to mine it now, here in Valinor... The Mines had traded it with the elves of Lothlórien, and he would surely find interest within Turgon's court as well. Hard as steel it was, and light as a feather. Worthy of a king. He remembered giving Bilbo his Mithril shirt before his memories grew dim and were more about feelings than actual incidents. Greed and lust had filled his days, and in the end... No, that was in the past. He had been forgiven and had also finally been able to let go of his self loathing. However, he already knew how to facilitate the Mithril under their feet. Not a shirt this time, no. A ring. A ring to match the circlet that was already waiting for the day of their bonding.
"Oh, as soon as we clear the last bits of rock from this mineshaft, your Majesty. Some of my excavators are below right now, preparing the powder. Would you like to take a look? The explosion should be safe enough." Thorin nodded, eager to see just how much of the most precious metal lay beneath their feet. "Well then, follow me please." Tulk lead the way down the mineshaft, workers bowing to their king as he passed. "You can see that we have much gold and platinum. But soon we will come to the diamond deposits. And sapphires, and if you will pardon me, they are the colour of your Majesty's eyes. I am sure Master Bilbo would like to see them." He coughed suddenly. "I mean no disrespect. Forgive me." Thorin smiled. He was sure the Master of the Mines was correct. Yes. His hobbit would like to see the blue stones. He seemed rather fixated on the colour and the king could not fathom why that might be. Of course you can't. It is not like you've been fantasizing about him for the last eighty years. And you haven't gathered everything to you that even remotely reminded you of him. That grey scarf for example? The colour of his eyes? Coincidence that? He simply huffed to himself.
It was only a short while later that they reached the very bottom of the shaft where two dwarves were busy preparing blackpowder to clear the rock separating them from the Mithril. The miners also used pickaxes, of course. But for the most precious metal...they wanted to get to it sooner rather than later and that called for the use of more...explosive things. The two bowed deeply, their beards touching the uneven floor. "None of that," Thorin said, giving them both a nod. "Just pretend I'm not here and get on with your work." He knew that was nigh impossible, but he wished to be of as little interference as possible.
Soon, they stepped back, pouring some of the powder on the floor as they went. "This should just take a moment, your Majesty. If you would step back?" Thorin did, and Tulk turned to the two other dwarves. "Get on with it. Our king doesn't have all day." They nodded in unison, one opening the small lantern he held in his hands, taking out the candle to ignite the black powder. "Now I hope you didn't use too little..." They hadn't. In fact, they had used too much. The Mithril was closer than they had expected. The force of the explosion turned on the four dwarves, bringing down part of the tunnel. One of the excavators seemed to be in shock with what was happening around him and did not move, and Thorin rushed to his side to push him in the direction of safety. Only to have a large piece of rock land on his foot and ankle, throwing him to the floor...
Bungo had just commented on the elves prowess at cooking, wondering if they might be willing to share some of their recipes, especially for those delicious little cakes Elrond had brought with him, when Kíli burst into the tent. "Bilbo. Thank the Valar I found you. It's Uncle Thorin, Bilbo. There was...an accident in the mines." Tears welled from brown eyes that were large with panic. "He's, he's unconscious, Bilbo." There was no need to add the 'like you were', they were all thinking it. Bilbo got to his feet, rushing to the young dwarf and pulling him close. "I'm so frightened, Uncle," Kíli sobbed. "They sent me to find you, but I think they simply wanted to be rid of me." He turned in the hobbit's arms, facing Elrond who was standing as well now. "Would you...would you look at him? You made Bilbo better before, maybe you can..."
"Of course, my young friend. I will do everything in my power to hasten the king's recovery. Master Bungo, forgive me for leaving you so suddenly; we will continue this conversation later. And I will ask someone to send a selection of recipes to you and your lovely wife." The peredhel bowed before reaching for his healing supplies. "Lead the way, young Kíli. And do not fret. Your uncle will be fine. Unconscious he may be now, but not for long, I assure you. He has a hard head." That very nearly made Bilbo snicker, and it brought a smile to his face. Worried though he was, he knew in his heart that his betrothed would be well before long. He had been after all. What really troubled him though was Kíli. The young dwarf was taking this rather badly and Bilbo would have to make sure he didn't get caught in that vicious cycle of self-loathing and fear again. It had been so very hard to break him free the first time around.
His father had walked up to him, and was now placing a warm hand on his shoulder, "He'll be fine, lad. Lord Elrond is right. Between Thorin and your mother I don't know who is more headstrong." That did make Bilbo laugh. "It's why they get along so well; if they're not butting heads, that is." Gazing at the other hobbit gratefully, Bilbo gave him a quick hug. "I shall return to our tents then, and start planning. Of course, we will eventually have to discuss with king Thorin whatever we come up with. However, for the time being I think I know what is needed. And you, my son, know where you're needed right now, I'm sure. It's not with your old father, I assure you. Though, do keep us informed, alright?" Bilbo nodded, knowing full well what his mother would do if she did not receive updates on the wellbeing of her future son-in-law.
Leaving the tent, they walked down the road towards Erebor, Kíli by the hobbit's side. The young dwarf was quiet and would wring his hands ever so often. It had already started. "You know this isn't your fault. It could have happened to anyone. Not that I know what... Kíli?" He put a hand on the dwarf's arm. "What exactly happened? I know Thorin went to inspect the mines, but surely he wasn't running through the tunnels unprotected?" Then again, dwarven heads were notoriously hard as Elrond had pointed out before, so...
"They found Mithril," came the reply, spoken in a monotonous voice devoid of any emotion. "Uncle wanted to see. They were just about to clear the last of the rock. But they used too much powder and, well, it sort of backfired on them. One of the excavators froze or something, and Thorin...he pushed him out of the way and got hit himself. A rock caught his foot and made him fall..." He stopped suddenly, and before Bilbo knew what was happening, Kíli had pulled him into his arms. The young dwarf was sobbing now, and Elrond simply nodded to the hobbit, walking on. "It's all so very much like your accident, Uncle. I can't...I can't even breathe. I'm so scared. Óin says he will be well again in no time, but...first you and now Thorin. You can't ever leave, Bilbo."
"I won't, dear one. I won't. And Thorin will be fine as well. You know it. Soon enough he will be driving us all crazy again." Gently he stroked Kíli's cheek, managing a smile. "Although it does put a damper on my plans for the evening. Your uncle had promised me certain things and now he's going to back out on the grounds of being injured. It's not fair, I'm telling you, Kíli." The young dwarf hiccupped then, caught between laughing and crying. "Now let us go and see how he is faring. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will be the worst patient ever..." Later on, Bilbo would wonder if his words had been truth, or if they had simply jinxed things. But for now, he was blissfully oblivious of what lay ahead, and with a more cheerful...and complaining Kíli, he walked towards the Mountain.
"Why did you have to give me more mental scars, Uncle?" the dwarf was complaining once more when Bilbo pushed open the doors to their rooms. Óin was there, deep in conversation with Lord Elrond, but they both looked up when they entered. The smiles on their faces were pained, but still comforting. And it didn't take long to figure out just why they appeared so glum. From the bedroom, shouts could be heard, shouts in Thorin's booming voice. Bilbo didn't understand the words, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that the dwarven king was less than pleased. "Oh good, he's awake again." Kíli breathed a sigh of relief next to the hobbit, but then stopped dead in his tracks. "Oh no! He's awake." Bilbo turned to glance at the young dwarf questioningly. "You remember what you said about worst patient ever? I think your wish has come true. And I suddenly remember that I have things to do and places to be. Places far away from..."
"Oh no, you don't!" Bilbo grabbed the dwarf's sleeve before he could run off. "You were so worried about him, and now you can stay to see just how well he is doing." What Bilbo was really saying though was, 'Please don't leave me alone with this raging lunatic that wears your uncle's face.' Kíli whined rather pitifully, but nodded. "Good, now let's see what all the commotion is about." The hobbit had a pretty good idea, and was already cursing himself for ever saying a word about Thorin's sickbed manners, but it was still polite to ask. Especially when Elrond and Óin looked as if something dreadful had just happened to them. They approached the two healers, and Bilbo forced a smile on his face that wasn't altogether honest. However, it was the best he could muster right then, and it was the thought that counted. "How is he? Not unconscious anymore I see, or rather hear."
Óin groaned, "He is too awake for my liking, Master Bilbo." There it was again, Master Bilbo. The halfling had given up correcting the old dwarf though, it was no use. Óin was too reverent of his current, and future position to address him as anything but...well...that. At least Ori had come around, and Balin... If the formerly white-haired dwarf ever called him anything but 'Bilbo', the hobbit would have a fit. "He threw one of his pillows at me when I announced he would have to remain in bed for at least three to five days. Lord Elrond only narrowly evaded another missile and now I'm afraid Master Fíli is exposed to the king's temper. Maybe you could calm him somewhat? It would make taking care of him so much easier if he wasn't like this." Oh dear. This was worse than Bilbo had expected after hearing all the shouting. To throw things at one's healers was just very bad manners.
"I can try. But I've never witnessed him this angry before. Well, except for that one time and the circumstances were a bit different then. He wasn't quite himself." Óin nodded, and so did Kíli after huffing sadly. "But now... Being unable to move around as he wants to will be very hard on him. It would have been on me, but luckily I was sleeping." The young dwarf by his side elbowed him in the ribs then, glaring. "I'm sorry, Kíli, but it's true. Rest suits me ill now. And has ever since I first ran out of my door to follow you all. It was never the same after. When I returned, I wasn't the same anymore. I longed for mountains and the feeling of sun and wind on my face, and I..." Suddenly he was pulled into Kíli's strong arms, and the dwarf held him tightly.
"I know, Uncle. I know. You have no idea how much we longed to have you with us as well. How much Thorin missed you." A shout could once again be heard coming from the bed chamber, and the young dwarf chuckled, "I know he is not exactly timid right now, but this is nothing compared to how moody he was back then. You temper him, you calm him when his feathers are ruffled like no one else ever could. Not even mother. She would try, but since she is just as hard-headed and hot-blooded things mostly turned into a shouting match and nothing ever got done until Balin stepped in. And even he cannot handle Thorin like you can. However, if it's all the same to you, I do not wish to know how you do it. I'd like to retain whatever is left of my sanity. Not that it's a lot according to Fíli."
"What is what according to me?" Fíli was just exiting the bed chamber, his face white as a sheet. "Oh, Bilbo. Nice to see you. He's all yours. After all, he's your betrothed. You can have him all to yourself. I'm sure even Óin and Lord Elrond would rather leave here before they get yelled at some more. He's been like this ever since he woke up, and he argued for about twenty minutes with me before swallowing the medicine Óin brought with him. And he won't go anywhere near the poultice Lord Elrond has given us, no pun intended. You see, he can't walk so he can't go anywhere anyway. He said, and I quote, he's a dwarf and doesn't need elven pampering." Fíli's eyes were pleading, all but begging Bilbo to relieve him of his duties.
He sighed, "Hand it to me, then, and I will see it done." The blond nodded, a smile appearing on his face as he handed over a small earthen pot. "If I don't make it back alive, would you tell my parents that I love them, and Frodo...well, you know what to tell Frodo." Both Kíli and Fíli snickered. "It was lovely knowing you all, but I must now bid you farewell. Flee this place while you still can." Óin huffed, but Elrond was smirking slightly.
"You will be fine, Uncle. After all, you're the Keeper of the King's…" Kíli's face fell at Bilbo's glare. "Nothing. You are simply Thorin's betrothed and he loves you. He wouldn't harm you, not permanently that is. Then again, nothing is really permanent anymore… Well, Fíli and I best be going. There are things we need to take care of that aren't here." He pulled both the hobbit and his brother close. "We have to check up on Frodo and Ori. Who knows, maybe today's plan has finally brought us a step closer to our goal." Bilbo had told both Fíli and Kíli about Thorin's plan before he set out to Elrond's tent earlier, and they had been filled with glee.
Nodding, Bilbo pulled away. He turned to the two healers who simply nodded at him. "He will be fine. And the sooner the better, for all involved." Elrond was shaking his head, looking towards the bedroom. "His current mood reminds me of our first meeting. Only back then he seemed to be in higher spirits…" Oh dear, that was bad. "Master Óin, I think our work here is done for today. I shall visit again tomorrow to see how our patient fares." He bowed, but it was obvious that he wished to leave as soon as possible.
"Thank you for looking after Thorin for me, mellonen. And you as well, Master Óin, I thank you for your help. I shall do my best to calm him if it is possible. And if not, well, there are enough rooms I can hide from the king." Fíli and Kíli, who were already standing by the door, giggled. He even thought he heard something along the lines of 'can always stay with us', but he wasn't sure. Before long though he was alone, his feet leaden as he walked towards the bed chamber's doors. Towards his doom he feared. Don't be silly. You have seen him at his worst. He is hurt, and that's all there is to it. Yes, yes. And this time, there was no Arkenstone involved, or anything even remotely like it. Just some elven poultice. So Bilbo took a deep breath and pushed open the doors.