Calm The Fire: 63

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Strolling forwards, the company looked to Gandalf as he exclaimed at them. "Not my horse! I need it!" This caused confused looks to be sent his way.

"You're not leaving us?" Bilbo voiced quietly.

"I would not do this unless I had to." Gandalf said heavily, which was true. If he needed to go to the High Fells, then he really needed to. This was in some regards more serious than he ever expected, though he had small inklings. He spoke the truth though, he wouldn't leave the group unless he had to, and at this point he really had to.

Bilbo looked at the floor slightly sadly, he didn't wholly like the thought of Gandalf disappearing again. Gandalf stopped by his side and looked down at him quizzically. "You've changed, Bilbo Baggins." His words caused Bilbo to look up at him. "You're not the same Hobbit as the one who left the Shire." He said while raising a curious eyebrow at the smaller being in front of him.

Bilbo shifted from foot to foot. "I was going to tell you," he said his voice slightly pitching. Gandalf looked down at him questionably, awaiting him to continue. "I...I found something in the Goblin tunnels." Bilbo smiled awkwardly.

Gandalf leant down slightly to be on a semi similar eye line as Bilbo. "Found what?" He asked lowly and seriously. Hesitating Bilbo kept his hands in his waistcoat pockets and looked unblinkingly up at Gandalf. "What did you find?"

Inhaling sharply, Bilbo simply answered: "My courage." He moved his hands out of his waistcoat pockets.

"Good," Gandalf said, though there was something in the way he said it and the way he looked down at Bilbo, which made it seem like he didn't wholly believe him. But he was letting it go. "Well that's good, you'll need it." He smiled through his sentence, though ended up being deadly serious again. The smile Bilbo returned quickly slipped and he watched as Gandalf walked towards his horse. "I will wait for you at the overlook, before the slopes of Erebor." Gandalf said while passing the company one by one, his words were aimed at Thorin mainly. "Keep the map and key safe. Do not enter that mountain without me." He said seriously, he didn't wish to know what trouble would ensue if they did. Mounting his horse he looked down at them all again. "This is not the Greenwood of old, the very air of the forest is heavy with illusion that will seek to enter your mind and lead you astray."

"Lead us astray? What does that mean?" Bilbo asked while looking truly confused over his words.

"Your mind will lose focus and you will forget why you're even there, who you are, what you're doing, where you are...etcetera." Náriel explained quietly from his side with her arms crossed, she stood looking sternly up at the sky. It had started to rain, the cold rain drops slowly fell down, the air was suddenly cool from the sudden rainfall.

"You must stay on the path, do not leave it. If you do, you'll never find it again, luckily for you, you all have someone in your company that has traversed it already." Gandalf said while nodding to Náriel, her eyes slide down from the sky and looked around at everyone. After this he turned his horse and slowly started to move away. "No matter what! Do not leave the path!" His voice echoed as he rode further and further away.

Turning slowly, Thorin looked to Náriel, she in turn shifted uncomfortably. "May I," she said stopping everyone in their tracks. They had all started to move towards the gate into Mirkwood. Stopping they looked at her seriously, having all eyes on her caused her to shift uncomfortably again. "Do not drink the water, you will lose your memories if you do. Everything will go, vanish, and it won't return for a while. Also, do not eat anything. Even if it looks edible, the likelihood of it actually being edible is slim, it will make you incredibly ill. Just, in general, don't touch anything, please." She said almost pleading with them. They didn't know the troubles which this place held, she did, and she didn't wish for those troubles to come true. "Also...don't touch the webs." Her eyes narrowed seriously. "Right!" Trying to be cheery she smiled awkwardly. "Shall we?" She gestured backwards to the way they were meant to go.

"Let's go then," Thorin said while walking slowly by her side. "We must reach the Mountain before the sunsets on Durin's Day."

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Náriel slapped a hand to her forehead. "Please! Please! I am begging you, I know you are more than eager to get to Erebor, but I am enlisted as your guide here! How can I guide you when you are all over taking me?!" She exclaimed despairingly. Her words went seemingly unheard as the company moved onwards. They had been in Mirkwood now for the small matter of half an hour. Already though the heavy darkness which enshrouded the forest was bearing down on them. Already the light of the sky had been blotted out by the twisting branches and the leaves of the canopy. The one good thing about now being in amongst the trees was they all managed to escape the rain which had started to fall heavier.

"Stop!" She shouted as loudly as she could. She wasn't one for raising her voice. It was something which she rarely ever did. Her sudden shout echoed through the trees, this made everyone stop. "Please, I am begging you...stop...just stop, please," she looked despairingly at Thorin. "You do not know the way, and before you say it, it's not as simple as following a path. Trust me, I know, remember?"

"I need air." Bofur suddenly randomly popped up as if he hadn't heard her words at all.

Náriel shot him a look. "There is no fresh air here," she said bitterly while walking forwards. Because of her sudden bad mood she even shoved past a few people. Narrowing her eyes at Thorin she pointed a finger up at him. "For once, just this once actually...follow me."

"Lead the way," he gestured forwards, this seemed to make Náriel content, she gave a sure nod and trotted forwards. Whereas he had been kicking leaves away to try and find the path, she didn't need to do such an action. She seemed to know where she was going just from looking up at the trees. A few times she did look downwards at the bricked path they were all walking along.

Tilting her head to the side she looked over her shoulder, Thorin was looking at her blankly. "What is it?"

"I do believe that was the first time I've ever seen you get so...flustered?"

"Do not speak lightly of such a thing." She sharply retorted.

Thorin frowned. Her mood had darkened considerably. As if the darkness which surrounded them had slowly seeped into her being. Looking up as the trees groaned he looked back at her. What had Beorn described the Mirkwood Elves as? Less wise and more dangerous, that was it. A shift in character had happened with Náriel. Looking over his shoulder he looked to Dwalin who seemed to share the same thoughts.

No, they didn't think she'd intentionally lead them astray. Or get them into trouble. She seemed to want nothing more than to get out of here as much as them. She couldn't be more clear on how much she didn't want to be here. But through that all, that didn't mean something couldn't happen.

Frowning suddenly Thorin shook his head. That wasn't his way of thinking. He knew Náriel. He knew her well enough to know that she wouldn't see harm come to them in this place. He sighed heavily, this was probably the affects of the heaviness which hung in the air. It was affecting him, in some small way, as much as it was affecting everyone else. Even from the front of the group he could hear the complaints and the odd comments which were being voiced.

Wringing her hands, Náriel stopped suddenly which caused others to crash into her. "Why have we stopped?!" Someone from the back of the company exclaimed.

"Because I almost fell over a cliff." Náriel replied bluntly while turning and walking along the path beside the small cliff. It was one cliff of many which had slowly appeared within the woodland. Thick vines hung down from the trees above and travelled downwards into the dark gaping space of the cliffs opening. She shot the webs on the vines a look before hurrying on.

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(A/N: I feel ever so slightly cruel for prolonging a reunion. Just a little cruel. Not much. Updated before work, any errors and such let me know and I'll correct them later!)

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