Calm The Fire: 44

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Bilbo was the first to notice Náriel and Thorin making their way back to the camp. He had taken to trying to keep an eye out for Gandalf. No one else seemed wholly bothered by the Wizard's disappearance, yet it niggled at Bilbo, he didn't quite like it. So as such, he was looking out for the familiar grey cloaked figure.

Frowning lightly he shuffled over to Balin. Looking quickly up at the two returning figures who were still making their way up the small hill, he looked to the older Dwarf. “Say, Balin?”

“Yes, lad?” He looked up upon being addressed.

“What's...what's with them?” Bilbo asked curiously. He hadn't seen a change in attitude happen so quickly. Náriel for the most part had played ignorant to the unhappy glances which Thorin would send her way. Clearly there was something up there, which Bilbo did not totally understand, yet now as they approached they seemed to be conversing lightly, as if everything was fine.

Balin laughed quietly, the laughter pulled Bilbo back to reality. Blinking several times he looked back to the Dwarf at his side. “That, my lad, is a long story.” Bilbo frowned and fidgeted, it seemed that wasn't a good enough answer. Balin sighed and rolled his eyes. “They were close, once, a long time ago, before Erebor was taken over by Smaug.”

Bilbo listened intently and nodded, “Close...close, close as in...?”

“Aye,” Dwalin appeared all of a sudden and seemed rather curious of the Hobbit's questions and general interest. Upon seeing him Bilbo let out an awkward cough and put a finger to his chin in thought, he nodded and looked up at Dwalin. He remained unmoving and didn't say anymore, so Bilbo looked back to Balin. Balin just inclined his head and returned to warming his hands by the fire.

“Hm,” smiling lightly yet awkwardly he glanced between the brothers and then shuffled away.

“Have you ate?” Náriel asked when they were passing.

“Me? Oh yes, yes I have.” Bilbo answered while patting his sides as he returned to his watch post.

“Good, because I was about to say...good luck trying to get some food.” She said while eyeing up the pot of food which was still being shared out. She had honestly lost count of the helpings each Dwarf had had, even before leaving she'd lost count. Now she just had no idea.

Moments passed, it was becoming too much. Bilbo shuffled from foot to foot and turned and walked over to the camp site again. “It's been too long. He's been gone a while.”

“Who?” Bofur answered half paying attention to him, most of his attention was on pouring a bowl of food.

“Gandalf,” Bilbo said exasperated.

“Oh, well, he's a Wizard, they do as they please don't they?” Was Bofur's reply. “Here,” Bilbo turned slowly and looked back to the Dwarf. “Take these to Fíli and Kíli,” with that being said two bowls were put into his hands. With a small sigh, Bilbo turned and shuffled off towards where the brothers were.

It didn't take a long. The distant sounds of the camp site soon dwindled and what replaced it was the quiet chirping of crickets. Passing the grazing horses, Bilbo soon found Fíli and Kíli, standing looking rather bemused.

Bilbo stopped in between them and held the bowls of food out to them. When they didn't seem to register him, or the smell of the food, he looked from one brother to the other. “What's the matter?” He questioned simply.

Kíli inhaled deeply, “We're supposed to be looking after them,” he said referring to their steeds.

“Only there seems to be a slight minor problem.” Fíli said while slowly looking to the Hobbit in between them. “We had sixteen, but now there's only fourteen.”

Taking to strolling briskly through the remaining horses, they looked them over. “Well that's not good, that's really not good.” Bilbo said while trailing after Kíli, while still clutching onto the two bowls of food. Pulling to a stop, Bilbo sighed. “Shouldn't we tell Thorin?”

Fíli turned and looked at him. “Ah, no, let's not. We don't want to worry him. You're our official burglar, would you like to look into this?”

Bilbo was put on the spot by this and walked forwards. He looked over the space where the missing horses were originally standing. “It seems to me that something, or someone, of quite considerable size has uprooted these trees.” He explained while waving a bowl at said trees. “Something very big, possibly...dangerous.” He stopped then and just looked slightly lost for words.

Fíli stood in front of him looking over the uprooted tree before them. Hearing a crunch to one side he looked over. “What's that?” He crouched down and tilted his head to the side. Squinting through the foliage he could distinctly see something. “There's a light ahead. Over there,” he nodded slowly. He looked over at Bilbo, who looked at him curiously. “Come here,” he gestured a hand to him, Bilbo shuffled over and crouched down beside him. Slowly the two of them and Kíli managed to duck under low hanging branches and sneak their way closer to the light they had seen.

Hearing a deep chuckle, Bilbo looked to Fíli, “What is it?”

“Trolls,” Kíli replied instead of his brother and shot up to a stand. Fíli followed suit and the two of them started to run towards the light, and the noise, leaving Bilbo behind with a bewildered expression. He went to join them only to stop and double back, he left the bowls behind. Soon picking them up he dashed after the brothers. They all pushed past the forest foliage as quietly as possible.

Soon drawing near to a small clearing both Fíli and Kíli had ducked down behind a small outcrop, Bilbo skidded behind a tree as a large creature slowly moved past in front of him. The Troll carried the missing horses underneath his arms easily. As the creature trudged on the sounds of neighing seemed to echo throughout the seemingly quiet space, the crunching of trees being stepped on and pushed aside joined the distressed horses.

“I think they're going to eat them, we should do something.” Bilbo whispered while leaning away from his hiding position.

The brothers looked up at him quickly, in unison. “Yes,” Fíli said.

Shortly followed by Kíli, “You should.” He said while pushing Bilbo forwards slightly. “Mountain Trolls are slow and stupid. You a small and light on your feet.” He furthered to say, despite Bilbo disagreeing. “They will never see you. It's perfectly safe. We'll be right behind you.”

Fíli took the bowls from Bilbo's hands and put a hand on his shoulder and urged him forwards. “If you get into trouble, hoot twice like a barn owl and once like a brown owl.”

Bilbo got nudged through the bushes repeating this quietly to himself. A frown appeared on his face as he took a step forwards. Turning suddenly he looked back. “Are you sure...” Bilbo trailed off when he realized he was alone.

“Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and blimey if it doesn't look like mutton tomorrow.” Came a deep yet cynical voice.

“Quit yer gripping.” Came the response from this complaint. “These ain't sheep! These is West nags!” Said the Troll holding the horses, he lifted them up as if to prove a point.

“Oh, I don't like horse. I never have. Not enough fat on them.” One of the Trolls said sounding rather disheartened. All the while they were talking, Bilbo had managed to sneak a little bit closer, crouching down in the bushes surrounding their camp, he could see the small pen which had the horses in.

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(A/N: Here I come again, updating before work, any typos/errors, let me know and I'll try and change them later/tomorrow! Also, Trolls! xD At long last, I finally get round to the darn Trolls!! Thanks for reading!)

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