Calm The Fire: 37

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“What beast?” Bilbo had turned from his position near Thorin and Gandalf and pottered over to what remained of his stocked up shelves. Upon hearing the mention of a beast, he couldn't help but turn and curiously look over at his visitors.

Moving his pipe away, Bofur looked up and over at him. “That'd be a reference to Smaug the Terrible.” Gandalf's eyes flitted over to look at the Dwarf as he spoke. “One of the greatest calamities of our age.” By now the surrounding Dwarves had also flitted their eyes to look at him. Even Náriel in her corner slowly opened her eyes and looked up. “Fire breather, teeth like razors, claws like meat hooks, extremely vulnerable to precious metals.” Bofur continued.

“Yes,” Bilbo said putting his hands together. “I know what a dragon is.” He said simply and plainly, he had read about such creatures.

Ori shot up at this and put his hands on the table in front of him. “I am not afraid,” the nearest Dwarves to him looked at him like he'd just spoken another language. “I'm up for it. I’ll give him a taste of Dwarfish iron straight up his jacksie.” There were hushed murmurs from the group which just ended up in slightly encouraging, agreeing cheers.

“It would be hard with an army behind us. But we're just fifteen. Nor are we fifteen of the best,” Balin spoke frankly while glancing around at everyone. “Nor brightest,” he finished quietly and got quiet exclaims from the other end of the table.

“We may be few in number, but we are fighters.” Fíli said above the sudden ruckus of voices. Kíli who was sitting beside him, looked to his brother.

“And you forget we have a Wizard in our company,” Kíli futhered on from his brother's words. “Gandalf would have killed many, perhaps hundreds of dragons in his time.”

“Oh, well,” Gandalf started to say, now having everyone's eyes cast up at him. “No, no, I wouldn't say that many.”

“How many then?” Dori questioned simply. Someone had to ask the obvious question.

Gandalf coughed quietly on his pipe and ignored the curious look which was being sent his way by Thorin. Avoiding answering just caused an upstart. Each and every Dwarf started exclaiming different things to each other, some even stood up from the table and pointed fingers.

Shouting above it all, Thorin shot up from his seat, the loud noise of the arguing Dwarves stopped immediately. “If we have read these signs, do you not think others have?” He received silence from his question. “Rumours have begun to spread. The dragon Smaug has not been seen for sixty years. Eyes look east to the Mountain, assessing, wondering, weighing up the risk, perhaps the vast wealth of our people lay unprotected. Do we sit back while others claim what is rightfully ours?” He glanced at Balin who looked deep in thought over his words. “Or do we seize this moment and take back Erebor?!” This seemed to rile everyone up to exclaim in agreement.

Thorin couldn't help but let his gaze drift around his comrades, eventually he ended up looking at Náriel. She still remained in the corner, though listening intently with her eyes shut. She looked different, he quickly noted. As if she had grown into who she really was, her hair was more blonde, the brown colour of her youth seemed to have slowly disappeared, though there was still some streaks remaining. She looked tired, as if she had suffered a great pain which she never fully recovered from. Yet there was something still so very familiar about her. He wondered if she saw any difference in him. Much like her, he had in some ways grown into who he really was, or was meant to be. His dark hair was longer than it was from his youth, though where time had changed hers, it'd also changed his. Light streaks of grey were mixed with the dark locks. His disposition had grown sterner, more serious, and his eyes had become sharper.

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