Calm The Fire: 40

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When night time slowly crept up, and the last remnants of the bright sun was dwindling behind the horizon, the group set up camp. No sooner had everyone dismounted and sorted themselves out and where they were to sleep, the sky had darkened considerably. A heavy blanket of black had taken over and on this blanket was small white stars which shone out lightly. The moon had come out by this point and had illuminated the surrounding woodland in a silver grey glow.

Bilbo had woke up to the sounds of Bombur snoring. Small insects got sucked into his mouth, only to be blown out again. Pushing himself up, he slowly stood. Gandalf sat leaning against a tree, smoking his pipe with a thoughtful look on his face. Thorin was leaning against the cliff face wall, looking out at the woodland, Fíli and Kíli were near the fire staring at it, and the others were either up to something, or sleeping.

Turning from his pony – Mertle – Bilbo looked around wide eyed when there was a heart piercing screech from somewhere in the darkened distance. “What was that?” He asked quietly while pointing to the edge of the cliff.

Kíli looked around, “Orcs.”

“Orcs?” Bilbo quickly walked over to where he was seated. As he neared, Thorin sat up in his leaning position and looked around, suddenly alert.

“Throat cutters,” Fíli continued on from his brother, beside him, Náriel rolled her eyes up at him and shook her head. She didn't wholly agree with the slight teasing which the Dwarves had already sent in the Hobbit's direction. “There's most likely dozens of them out there.” Bilbo looked from the night sky back to Fíli as he spoke. He opened and shut his mouth, clearly not taking too kindly to Fíli's words.

“They strike in the early hours when everyone is asleep.” Kíli said while crossing his arms over his knees. “Quick and quiet, no screams,” he said casually, by now both Thorin and Gandalf looked to the young Dwarf. The first of which narrowed his eyes, and the second which just looked at them blankly. “Just lots of blood.” Kíli finished in a whisper, his words caused Bilbo to look like he was about to faint, again. Moments of silence passed and Kíli quietly laughed, his brother joined in too only to receive a playful kick from Náriel.

She stood and walked over to the slightly worried looking Hobbit. Putting a hand on his shoulder she smiled. “Ignore them.” She whispered.

“That isn't funny,” Thorin said while looking to his nephews. They quickly went silent from hearing his voice. “You think a night raid by Orcs is a joke?” He stood and walked steadily past Bilbo and Náriel.

Kíli looked up and tried to defend himself. “I didn't mean anything by it.” He looked down at the fire again.

“No you didn't.” Thorin said lowly while fully walking away and approaching where Gandalf sat. “You know nothing of the world.”

Bilbo let out a sigh and nodded slowly, Náriel patted him on the shoulder one last time before crossing her arms.

“Don't mind him, laddie, Thorin has more cause than most to hate Orcs.” Balin said while approaching where the four of them were and took to leaning an arm against the cliff wall. “When the dragon took the Lonely Mountain. King Thror tried to reclaim the Dwarf kingdom of Moria.” Balin explained. “But the enemy had got there first. Moria had been taken over by legions of Orcs. They were led by the most vilest of them all; Azog the Defiler.” Balin paused to sigh quietly. “A Gundabad Orc that had sworn to wipe out the line of Durin.” Balin looked up at them all. Bilbo slowly walked over and sat down, and on a boulder nearby, Náriel had sat down to crouch on it. Fíli and Kíli remained near the fire looking up at the elder Dwarf waiting for him to continue. “He began, by beheading the king.” Balin struggled to say, Náriel's eyes widened and she let out a quiet gasp which caused Bilbo to look at her worriedly. “Thrain, Thorin's father went mad with grief and went missing, caught prisoner or died, we do not know. We were leaderless.” Balin said firmly. “Both death and defeat was upon us. “That is when I saw him,” Balin's voice was full of pride as he smiled down at them. “A young Dwarf Prince, facing down the Pale Orc. Standing alone against such a foe, his armour damaged, wielding nothing but an oaken branch as a shield. Azog the Defiler learnt that day that the line of Durin would not be so easily broken that day.” Balin said with a small nod. “We drove the Orcs back, and our enemy had been defeated. There was no celebration that night. For many of us had died, too many to count. We few had survived. And I thought to myself then; there is one I could follow; there is one I could call King.” Balin looked down simply as Thorin turned from his watching point and looked back at them. Most of the others had stood up by now and looked to him.

Bilbo looked from Thorin, who was walking back to them, to Balin. “What of the Pale Orc?”

“Did he die?” Náriel furthered on from his question.

“He returned to where he came from,” Thorin said while glancing at them quickly. “That filth died of his wounds long ago.”

After this tale, everyone settled down for the night. Thorin leant back against the cliff wall and shut his eyes. “Were you injured?” A quiet voice appeared from in front of him. Opening his eyes he looked to Náriel. “Apart from emotionally...I mean,” she whispered while kicking her boots on the dirt ground. Thorin looked around, everyone else seemed to be asleep. Balin and Gandalf were conversing quietly, Kíli and Fíli had settled by the fire, and Bilbo laid nearby them. No one else seemed to pay much mind to Náriel's conversation starting. Though in truth, she was addressing him personally. “I'm sorry, Thorin. Though I figure it does not mean much to you.” She smiled lightly and turned to walk away. “Your grandfather, and father were wonderful, brilliant people.” Nodding she turned fully and started to walk away.

“And Frerin,” Thorin said slowly, Náriel jolted to a stop and turned to look at him. “He fell too.”

She turned and stepped back. Looking questioningly up at him she was seeing if he was lying. When he just looked down at her coolly, she shook her head. “I am even more sorry, than I was originally.” Looking over her shoulder she looked to him. “You just have Dis, Kíli and Fíli now?” She asked referring to immediate family.

“I do.” Thorin replied while leaning back against the wall. Hearing scrambling and rocks being shifted about, he opened an eye and looked down to see Náriel settle down by his side. “What are you doing?”

“Sitting.” She looked up at him, “You?”

“Thinking.”

“That's a dangerous business.” Náriel shut her eyes. Daring her luck, she rubbed her chin in thought and looked up at him. “What are you thinking about?”

“The Hobbit.”

“You don't think he belongs here, or has any real use, do you?”

“He can't fight, that much is clear. He's already admitted to not being a burglar, and he seems to be gullible enough to listen to Fíli and Kíli.” Thorin paused. “He's going to be a liability.”

Náriel let out a quiet laugh. Thorin frowned and looked down at her. “Apologies,” she smiled and leant her head against the cliff wall. Looking up at the bright stars she sighed. “The verdict is still out with me. I’m sure what Gandalf said is true. He does have more to give than he himself knows.”

“Have you seen him?” Thorin asked not sure if they were conversing about the same being. Náriel's eyes slid over to look at him. “Need I bring up the fuss he made over a simple handkerchief?”

This just caused Náriel to let out a quiet short laugh before she buried her face in her hands. “Apologies again,” she said quietly while awkwardly coughing. “Since when did you ever base opinions on looks and minor actions?” Her eyes flitted up to look at him expectedly. “And yes, to answer your question, I have seen him. He's a rather respectable Hobbit, though granted he is the only Hobbit I have ever met.” Her answer just caused him to sigh and fidget in his stony seat.

“You befriend people quickly.”

Náriel stood up and stretched her arms out in front of her. “Is that honestly a bad thing?” She asked curiously while shuffling over to the fire. Sitting down she looked at Bilbo oddly when he twitched in his sleep and almost sent a wayward kick her way. Shuffling away from him, Náriel laid down slowly yet still in the same region as the fire so she could still feel its warmth.

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(A/N: Always thought Frerin's death at the Battle of Azanulbizar was unjust, and cruel, and mean, and downright sad T_T Success! We have a first minor conversation! Updated before going to work on my day off (ugh) so yeah, typos and that: let me know and I'll edit them later! Cheers! :D)

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