Calm The Fire: 105

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It was a crisp morning. Even with the sun barely in the sky the cool breeze of the evening had stayed and caused the morning to have a slight chill. The distant sounds of birds only accompanied the distant sounds of life in the camp.

Slowly coming to his senses, Thorin opened his eyes slowly. He was still near the barricade. It took him moments to realize that both he and Náriel had been doing watch duty. Or at least attempting to. She had kept him company but after an hour she had slowly drifted off to sleep against his shoulder while her arms were holding tightly onto his arm. She had refused numerous times to leave him, to go rest with the others. But no. She wouldn't leave his side and as a result he had got comfy by her side and soon fell asleep too.

Because of this he woke up startled. His sudden juddering had rendered in Náriel being rather harshly pushed away. She groaned and shot him a look.

"Sorry," he put a hand on her shoulder. He just realized that if someone else was on watch duty, they'd all have been woken up sooner. He could hear the distant sounds of marching. People were approaching the Mountain.

Rubbing her eyes she still looked at him with an unhappy expression. Considering her morning wake up call she returned the favour by childishly and playfully hitting him on the shoulder.

Standing up he looked over and out into the morning. Náriel slowly stood by his side. In the distance they could see the group marching ever closer.

"The banner of the Elvenking," Náriel whispered, Thorin looked to her then to the green banner she was referring to. "Oh, this morning is off to a great start." She mumbled sarcastically while turning away and jumping down and rushing forwards to wake everyone up. She left Thorin to look and watch the oncoming visitors. His eyes glanced at the green banner before looking to the blue one which was of the Lake.

"Who are you that come armed for war to the gates of Thorin son of Thrain, King Under the Mountain?" Thorin called down while behind him his friends slowly moved forwards. Clearly the marching group were right outside their doorstep. With tentative actions they all, one by one, appeared by Thorin's side until they stood in a firm line.

"Why do you fence yourselves in? And we aren't the only ones that are seemingly armed for war." Came the response. Thorin's eyes looked down at Bard. "We are not yet foes." He said firmly trying to get the emphasis across. "In fact we are shocked yet pleased to see you are all alive. Beyond our hope, here you are. Though we had suspicions when some of you did a disappearing act." Bard said while quickly looking to Náriel, Óin, Bofur, Fíli and Kíli.

"Apologies, my Lord. I don't suppose anything I say will make up for the inconvenience of us leaving without word?" Náriel questioned politely.

"Can't say it will, but you could try." Bard said while giving the slightest of smiles. Náriel went to reply only to have a hand gently gestured at her. Bard shook his head slowly. "Best given a try when in the council of the Elvenking too." Náriel nodded slowly and entwined her hands in front of her. Bard's eyes flicked up to look at Thorin, he for the most part had watched their little conversation with a look which border lined annoyance. Bard couldn't help but lightly smirk over this before looking to the dirt and stony ground beneath his feet. "We came expecting some of you to be here. But now that there seems to be all of you, there is a matter of great importance which we must speak about." Bard said slowly yet firmly. "I speak of a council with the Elvenking. So is the matter of an understanding, a truce of such."

"A truce? Of what?" Thorin asked simply.

Bard frowned. He knew this conversation wasn't going to be easy, but he didn't think it'd be this hard. "By my hand the dragon which you unleashed was slain. Just ask your friends, they'll confirm it. Though I'm sure they've already told you the tale." Bard paused to see the group who helped him nod slowly. "Because the dragon is now gone, you have your treasure back. Is that not what really is the concern here? Regardless," Bard sighed and looked seriously up at Thorin. "I am Girion's descendant, and as such your treasure is mixed with those which were stolen so many years ago by Smaug. A part of Dale's treasure lies in your halls." Bard frowned, Thorin just still looked down at him with the same indifferent expression. "Is that not a matter of which we may speak?" Bard asked his voice turning calm yet with a serious edge still lurking. "One last thing; have you not given thought to those who have lost so much when Smaug struck Lake Town? Homes have been destroyed, have you thought of the people and their sorrow? They aided you, gave you armour, weapons, food and shelter. And as a way of repaying them, you have bought only ruin. Though sure, unintentional ruin, but ruin none the less." Bard finished while the group behind him stood silent and expectant.

Both Bilbo and Náriel looked at each other, they could see the truth in Bard's words. And both of them dearly wished for Thorin to immediately understand and accept that which was spoken. But deep down they knew of the deep brooded longing which had settled over the treasure. It was something none of Dwarves were going to give up willingly. Least of all Thorin, who had spent many hours walking the long halls looking over the vast wealth around him. Though yes he mainly looked for the Arkenstone, but his eyes had drifted and found many other wondrous things.

"You put Lake Town's downfall last, which shows the severity of this." Thorin replied slowly. "But, the treasure of my people, no man has a claim because Smaug who stole it from us also robbed him of life and home. The treasure was never his that the deeds he did should be amended by sharing it out. The assistance that we received from Lake Town will be paid, in time. But nothing we will give, not under threat or force. While an armed force sits on our doorstep, we look to you as thieves and foes." Thorin paused to let his words sink in. Once they did all he received was a serious grim look to be sent his way by Bard and for his surrounding friends to look at him blankly as if in utter agreement or disbelief of what he had spoken.

"A question kept circulating my thoughts previously. How much of the treasure would you have given to my kindred if you had found the hoard unguarded and us slain?" Thorin uncrossed his arms and reached out to put his hands on the barricade in front of him.

"A fair question," Bard said quietly with a nod. "You are not dead." He stated rather obviously. "You are not dead and we are not thieves. The wealthy may take pity on those who are in desperate need, even more so if they have befriended the other and given them aid and help when they needed it. And still my other claims go unanswered."

"I will not strike a truce with the Elvenking." Thorin said lowly and seriously, beside him Náriel pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a long sigh. She wasn't expecting him to ever contemplate doing that. But she didn't think he realized the might that her uncle could bring down on them if he so wished.

"I will not strike a truce with an armed force on my doorstep. Even less so if they are in the company of the Elvenking, who I remember as anything but kind, concerned or helpful." Thorin continued on and frowned down at the group below. "In this debate they have no place. Be gone now, or else we'll have to start protecting ourselves." He said while looking quickly to the weapons which Bard's group had, he got the message and only frowned more. "If you so wish to speak to me again, dismiss the Elvish host. Send them back to the forest where they belong. Once you have you may freely speak, after you've laid down your arms."

"The Elvenking is my friend. He has succeeded in aiding Lake Town a great deal. The people find themselves in his debt. But fine," Bard turned slowly. "We shall leave. I hope wisdom comes to you while we're away. But we shall return, just remember that." With that he departed from the stony doorstep with his group of Men and Elves following suit.

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(A/N: So much for me going MIA cos of work! Hah! I managed to quickly write this chapter before the thunder storms kicked in yesterday and wiped out my electricity and internet. Ding ding! Thorin vs Bard round two...or it it three? Idk. Also 'wisdom comes to you' it may come in the form of another whack...Náriel go inject some wisdom into Thorin's noggin... by perhaps...shouting, or whacking...or whatever. I’m done! Ramble finished xD)

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