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Calm The Fire: 80

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Sudden blaring trumpets cut through the air. The crowd which stood around chatting amongst themselves stopped slowly and looked to the small podium where the Master suddenly stepped up. He lifted his arms up, with a rather smug look he gestured to the barge and its occupants. “Go now with our good will!” He exclaimed, beside him Alfrid grinned and nodded agreeing. “And may your return bring fortune to all!” With this the crowd cheered and the barge commenced moving off and away from the wharf.

The four who were staying behind looked at it rather sadly as their friends and family moved away and went further and further into the distance. All of a sudden someone burst through the crowd and looked to them.

“Did you miss the boat as well?” It was Bofur, who seemed rather happy with seeing them, knowing he wasn't the only one left here.

“Oh dear,” Náriel said while the force of Kíli leaning against her shoulder was causing her to lean downwards too.

“Kíli? Kíli!” Fíli shouted and shook his brother, but it was no use, Kíli remained rather unresponsive. Reaching up he managed to move his brother off of Náriel, she sat up straight now no longer almost falling onto the dirt ground.

“Come on, we must leave and go elsewhere.” She said while standing up and watching as the others picked Kíli up. The people surrounding them didn't even pay them any mind, nor did they pay any attention to the suffering which was troubling Kíli.

Fíli managed to take the most of his brother's weight as they all hurried off the way they had come. Walking over rickety boarding paths, they walked up a set of stairs and Bofur reached out and knocked on the door heavily.

It took moments for it to open and for Bard to look out at them, he wasn't exactly happy to see them. His eyes narrowed and he was already close to slamming the door shut before any words had even been exchanged.

“No. I am done with Dwarves, go away!” He said while trying to shut the door.

Bofur reached out and stopped him. “No! No! No one will help us. Kíli's sick,” Bofur looked over his shoulder where Kíli stood leaning against Fíli. He had just come round only to look as if he was about to pass out again. He let out a shuddering breath and looked distantly around and then up at Bard.

“He's very sick,” Bofur said more urgently as he looked up at the man in front of them too.

----

As the small barge cut through the icy water, the smallest of waves were created. These waves shimmered along the darkened waters, and whatever ice was on the surface gave the slightest of movements. The mist which had hung around heavily at the beginning was slowly dissipating. Soon the approaching shoreline could be seen.

Rocky terrain with short tufts of browning grass, snow laid here too. In small mounds darted over the place. There was a clear path which led from the shoreline more inland. It was this path that seemed to take the longest to walk down. As they did the surroundings around them opened up. The close rocks from the shoreline slowly moved away and open fields – though still with the few jutting rocks – opened up before them. With each step the form of the Lonely Mountain became closer and closer. The clouds, heavy thick and grey hung around its peak, lazily rolling over the sky which was becoming more blue by each second that passed.

The path slowly inclined upwards, after a short hill it stopped and turned downwards again. But on this outlook, a sudden darkness appeared, it spread across the land which was now facing them.

“What is this place?” Bilbo asked as he looked over the site. Scorched earth, black as coal, ruined buildings still standing uninhabited.

“It was once the city of Dale,” Balin explained while he too looked over the once vibrant city which he remembered too well. “Now it is a ruin. The Desolation of Smaug.” The fire damage was beyond compare, the darkness wasn't just dark, it was oppressive, expectant, it made the shadows which lurked about seem all the more deeper.

Thorin turned away from the ruined city and looked skywards. “The sun will soon reach midday. We must find the hidden door into the mountain before it sets.” He looked around and then spied the way they must go. “This way.” He started moving off yet stopped when he heard Bilbo's voice.

“Wait. Is this the overlook? Gandalf said to meet him here, on no account were we to...” Bilbo said distinctly remembering Gandalf's words.

Thorin stopped and looked at him seriously. “Do you see him? We have no time to wait upon the Wizard. We're on our own. Come.” He turned then and started to walk away leaving Bilbo to look uncertainly towards the city they'd have to walk through to reach their destination.

As they moved away from the overlook, the surroundings which – once upon a time – were surely so full of life and vibrant with greenery, grew darker and darker. A chilling breeze blew through the empty buildings, the hollow shells echoed and moaned and seemed to have a life of their own despite being abandoned, burnt, and ruined.

No one tried to dwell in Dale for long. They all hurried through and walked as quickly as they could up the slate, rocky dirt track which wound slowly through the darkened hills towards the Lonely Mountain.

Not completely knowing where the hidden door was, everyone started their search as soon as the Mountain was within sight.

Out of breath from the trek, and having mixed feelings of both wanting to rest, and to find the hidden door, Thorin drove his sword into a mound of dirt and stone and looked up. Other members of the company were darted here and there and everywhere. “Anything?” He called up.

Dwalin was a little ways above him looking around. When hearing his voice, he turned and looked down. “Nothing!” He called back and shifted from one foot to the other.

Bilbo went walking briskly up a small outcrop and walked slowly past Thorin as he took to rummaging for the map. Pulling it out from an inside pocket he opened it slowly and looked down at it. “If the map is true, the hidden door lies directly above us.” He said thoughtfully while turning and looking around. There were so many high hill tops and outcrops it could be anywhere.

Bilbo continued on his way and climbed carefully over the sudden sharp rocks and boulders which had suddenly come across his paths. Tilting his head to the side, his eyes glanced over the sight which stood before him. A large carving of a king, stone eyes looked out blankly. Nearby cube like grooves were cut into the rock.

Shaking his head, it dawned on him what he was actually looking at. “Over here!” He exclaimed quickly and continued looking up at the way in front of him. Behind him the rushed footsteps of his comrades could be heard traversing the rocks.

“You have keen eyes, Master Baggins,” Thorin said with a small smile as he stopped behind the Hobbit and looked up at the rocky staircase too.

----

(A/N: We've got to 80, friends! 80! We're on the slow and steady journey to 100, cos yeah, this is gonna be over 100, I can foresee that already - though I had that inkling when I first started writing this!)

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