Calm The Fire: 97

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When nightfall came, the group stirred. One after another they moved from the bedrolls that they had been given and moved silently away from where they had settled. While the day had dragged on, they had each between them to find out what they could on what was happening, along with getting a few things together to keep them going. Small pouches of food, and canteens of fresh water. It was a pitiful amount, but they couldn't take much. It'd mean less for the people of Lake Town, and that was something which Náriel had been hugely against.

“You Dwarves can go for one boat trip without food I am sure of it!” She had exclaimed while looking at each of them in turn. “If we took lots of food, I’d have to be in charge of rationing.”

“Why you?” Bofur had asked while eyeing her sceptically.

With this came the retort of: “I don't eat meat.” Which was true, a good portion of their small collection was meat based. She carried few items of food which was fit for her. But for the most part it was food for them.

While helping out those who needed it, they had also managed to discover a few boats which were still intact. Though feeling hugely guilty for the action, they had hid it out of sight. They managed to hide it with the charred pieces of wood which were going to be dealt with tomorrow.

“Shh! Shh!” Fíli shot back over his shoulder when someone had walked into something and it clattered to the ground. Around them the smoky surroundings stayed silent. Waving a hand over his shoulder he continued to lead them all down to the wharf which they were sailing off from.

When they managed to find their boat Kíli and Náriel kept watch while the others took to moving it out from its hiding place as silently as possible. Which wasn't working. Throughout the day more wood had been added to the pile which meant that it needed to be moved for the sake of finding their boat.

“How are you feeling?” Náriel looked to Kíli, she realized that so much had happened that she hadn't had a chance of asking him.

Kíli smiled and looked over his shoulder and then at her. “Good. Surprisingly.”

Náriel reached up and put an arm around his shoulders. “I am glad to see you are well.” She patted him on the shoulder and grinned. “Tauriel is a good healer, isn't she?” Kíli's eyes widened and he looked at her awkwardly, she laughed quietly at his behaviour. “Kíli, it's fine.” She said slowly while sighing and moving away from him. It wasn't exactly an otherworldly thing for her to discover that a Dwarf had – perhaps – got feelings for someone of a different race. It after all had happened to his uncle, and herself.

“Are you two going to just stand there and natter, or are you coming?” Bofur asked while waving a hand at them. They had managed to get the boat into the water, Óin stood holding onto the wood of the wharf to keep it from bobbing off in the current.

Kíli took a slightly limped step forwards but managed to get into the boat with minimal help. Náriel followed after him, she glanced at Lake Town and then back to the boat. Sighing heavily she climbed in too and sat down. As the boat slowly drifted away from the wharf, she looked over her shoulder. Her eyes saddened. “Sorry,” she said quietly.

“What for?” Kíli sat by her side. Because he was injured he wasn't allowed to row. Náriel quietly pushed her oar into the water and pulled back.

“Running away.” Her eyes flicked up to the stars above them. He looked confused, Náriel caught his expression from the corner of her eyes. “My uncle...I feel like I am running away from him, or...I don't know. This is the third time we have parted ways like this. With me leaving without so much as a farewell, I can't help but feel guilty.” Náriel explained, she knew she wasn't likely to get sympathy from them, Thranduil did after all throw them in jail and expected to keep them locked up for as long as possible. But she needed to express how she felt, sympathy or not. Kíli nodded slowly and put his arm around her shoulder. He removed it a moment later to allow her to continue rowing.

Slowly but surely the form of Lake Town got further from their view. Soon it was lost completely, swallowed up in the darkness of the night. The stars above them shone brightly and lit their way. The moon hung low in the sky and coated everything in a silver glow. Even the lake, which was burning bright red and orange not that long ago, was now looking like slithering silver silk. The oars made the quietest of sounds as they splashed down in the water. No matter how far away they were from Lake Town, they were still being wary.

They didn't exactly know when they'd reach the other shore, none of them knew how long a ride it was. But it ended shortly after they all individually had this thought. The shore crunched and grinded against the boat making it lift up onto the shore.

“I do believe we've arrived,” Bofur said while jumping over the side. He reached back in and grabbed his little pouch of provisions and helped Náriel down, her boots splashed in the cold water making her instantly shiver.

Shouldering her pouch she looked to the darkness in front of her. It made her shiver again. The oppressive darkness. She was half expecting something to leap out at them as they started walking slowly up the stony path. Nothing did though. All that greeted them was a cold wind which moaned through the high stony hillsides. There could have been green lush grass growing up them at one point. At one point before the Desolation of Smaug had struck.

“How fast do you think you can walk, lad?” Óin asked while looking to Kíli. So far they were all walking at an easy pace.

“Fast enough to keep up with you.” He joked and received a laugh from both Náriel and Fíli.

“I didn't mean it like that!” Óin exclaimed a little annoyed that he was being accused of being a slow walker. “I merely think we should perhaps pick up our case our presences are noticed missing.” Óin said simply while rolling his eyes. Slowly they turned a corner on the gravelly pathway and stopped.

“Dale,” Náriel whispered. It was vastly different to the Dale she had known. The Dale she knew was vast, glorious, peaceful and grand. The people were charming, polite and caring. This Dale was dark, broken, haunting. “He's right,” frowning she looked to Kíli. “If you can walk faster, please do, but do not strain yourself. I haven't got anything with me which could prove useful for aid.”

“Ah!” Bofur exclaimed suddenly and waved a finger at her, Náriel raised an eyebrow from the action. They picked up walking again, only this time a little quicker, they were more or less jogging through Dale. The quicker they got out of the ruined city the better. No one wanted to hang around, it was too reminiscent of Lake Town, or rather Lake Town was too reminiscent of Dale. “Would you believe, Kingsfoil is a sturdy plant?”

“I would. And I know.” Náriel replied not wholly understanding where Bofur was going.

“See, where I found it wasn't struck badly by the fire.” Bofur said while giving her a wink.

“You have more?” Náriel smiled, he nodded. “Brilliant! Not saying that this is an excuse for you to over exert yourself, Kíli, but if you do strain your injured leg, we have means of fixing it!” She smiled lightly as they continued on their way.

Their paces all slowed though when the huge doors of Erebor – or what remained of them – stood gaping, dark and wide. They went to take a step back only to flinch when an arrow stuck into the ground.

Náriel picked it up, she pulled her bow from over her shoulder and aimed and fired, from behind what seemed to be a barricade there was a quietly exclaimed: “Woah!” Which meant that she may have just narrowly missed hitting someone. “Who goes there?” The voice had calmed down and asked sternly.

Of course with the night still being young, the moon had hid away so there was no light. The person acting as guard didn't know who was lurking, they only just managed to see their outlines. The group exchanged a look. They weren't sure whether to be happy or annoyed. Happy because someone was alive up there, or annoyed that they had shot at them.

“Princess Náriel of Mirkwood and her Dwarven companions.” She said sternly while crossing her arms. A light appeared suddenly from over the barricade.


“Good evening, Balin, may we come in?” Náriel smiled at the white haired Dwarf who was looking at them cautiously.

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