Autor Tópico: [Fanfic 4, cap. 27] Loyalty, Honor etc - Black Collar Work  (Lida 879 vezes)

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Offline Luinwen

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[Fanfic 4, cap. 27] Loyalty, Honor etc - Black Collar Work
« em: Novembro 22, 2013, 06:09:56 »
Chapter 27 – Black Collar Work (Any blue collar would get black in minutes!)

Lily woke up to the merry song of a thrush; she tried to close her eyes and sleep a little more, but the smell of Thorin’s skin close to her startled her up; the bird sang as if it were talking something to her, and she didn’t understand. Back at her old world, in the middle of a city, there was no place a thrush would think of making a nest to call it his home and, albeit some people did it, neither she nor anybody in her family had the nerve to cage a bird.
As promised, when the meeting was over Thorin took his sleeping roll and found a place beside her to cuddle her close to him, and now his face was so close to hers that she could see every single hair of his eyelashes in his worried face, sometimes trembling to an unknown dream. His arm lay heavy on Lily’s waist, and she managed to get one hand out of her own sleeping roll and gently touched his disarrayed hair, moving it away from his face; thin wrinkles formed at the corner of his eyes as a slight smile gained his lips; he mumbled something in Khuzdul and tightened his arm around her, bringing Lily closer to him; she caressed his face, his coarse beard, just wishing that moment would last forever. Even asleep, he was more caring than any guy she knew back at her old world and, although being young, she felt she had lost far too a long time with boys when what she needed was a man; but then, not any man, but a man like him. The thrush sang a little closer, drawing her attention.
“I could get used to wake up this way.”
Lily looked back at him, startled by his voice, and smiled; Thorin smiled back at her, his rare and precious smile matching the shine in his eyes.
“Thrushes are friends to the dwarves since our people came to Erebor; we will have them to wake us up every morning after we take back our home; and then we will not be in separated and rude bed-rolls, but in more proper linen beddings, as suits the queen I’ll have by my side.”
Lily’s eyes grew wide; their relationship had grown steadily since the scabbard markings, and she felt him trusting more in her abilities and judgment each day even if she was so younger than him; but then it was like his confidence in her made her grow up, his faith that she would be able to do what was right and what was to be done gave her the self confidence needed to accomplish it all. They still had to take Erebor back, and that meant to get rid of a dragon she hadn’t the slightest idea how to deal with, and she knew he was afraid of it too, even if he didn’t assume his fears; but even having yet to face the dragon that cast out his people from the realm that was his by right, he had the courage to mention her as his queen. She remembered a stupid boyfriend who sometimes referred to her as just a friend in front of his parents; now she was glad that relationship didn’t thrive. She’d rather be forever in the wild, sleeping in fur bedrolls, at the side of someone who cared for her as if she were a queen, than to be in satin sheets and champaign baths beside someone who was not grown up enough to assume her as a woman, not as a plaything.
“I don’t care if we are in bed-rolls or in silken sheets, as long as I am with you, be it in mighty halls or in the wild; as long as you are who you are, Thorin, nothing else matters.”
“But you deserve the best, my wild Lily flower.”
He caressed her brow with his thumb, changing a hair strand from place.
“The best is to be with you.”
He smiled, bringing Lily’s head closer to him and placed a kiss on her forehead.
“Let us start the day. We have a realm to retake.”
Most of the Company was already awake or waking up, preparing things for their last boating day. Thorin instructed Óin and Lily of what they would need for their plan and called Bard for a private meeting.
“Mister Bard, I must concede that your fears might be true. We made plans to get rid of the dragon, but if they go astray, it is possible that Smaug seeks for revenge in Lake-Town, for your people having helped us.”
“You are going to stir the dragon! It will be the ruin of us all!”
Bard cursed loudly and Thorin put his hand up, asking for peace.
“The best scenery is that Smaug is dead, but this is the least probable. In the worst scenery he kills us all and burns Lake-Town too, and that would indeed be a very bad luck. We are betting in the middle chances, and we will make our best to kill the beast. But, if we don’t succeed, or succeed partially, there is a chance that your town will be attacked. If this happens, we count on you that some preventive actions have taken place.”
“What does all this crap mean?” Bard tilted his head with an inquisitive look.
“Hmm, for a more detailed report, ask my elf.” Thorin handled him the leather pouch with Ellen’s gold coins. “Convince your people to leave the town and seek for refuge in the borders of the forest because there is a real risk of being attacked; if ever you see fire in the Mountain, go out and leave only a well armed guard; if the Master doesn’t agree, buy as much supply as you can to maintain them, shield as many lives as you can. This is what we have to help you in this right now.”
Bard took the pouch, suspicious, and looked at its contents, considering that if they had money they would not have needed the Master to provide them things. His eyes grew wide and he looked back at the dwarf.
“This is enough to...”
“Yes, mister, so we hope.”

ooo000ooo

They didn’t take the same places in the boats as in the day before, as the plan to make Thorin reason on making plans for Smaug succeeded; Lily exchanged places with Balin, so she could be near the one she missed so much. The river was strong, and the dwarves plus Bard had to strive to win it, but dwarves are known to be a sturdy people, and their determination... well, it is mostly called stubbornness by other folk; so, they made it.
The boats were laden with plants Lily and Óin gathered in the morning, what for the others didn’t know why, only that it was ordered by Thorin himself. They were not in flower, but the whole plant was toxic, some parts more than others, and according to the amount taken in its effects could go from a groggy state to hallucination and death, which was what they hoped against hope. Smaug would have to eat a whole herd of stuffed ponies to be killed by poison, but they would try it anyway.
“It is a pity it is not the right season for gator-fish roe, else we could fish it.”
“What do you want with that ugly fish, Lily? I believe we could find more palatable fishes in this river.”
“Sure, Aunt, but gator-fish roe is deadly poisonous, then I thought we could stuff the ponies with them instead of the plants.”
“It would be funny to see Smaug not understanding why he ate pony and burped fish!”
“Yes, but it will be interesting enough too to see him eating pony and burping datura!”
“Wouldn’t hemlock be better? I thought it were stronger, it was used in antique Rome for executions. Or was it Greece?”
“Both. It is stronger, but we didn’t find any.”
Kíli eyed them, warily.
“Uncle, I suppose it is wise to die being their friends, don’t you think so?”
Thorin chuckled.
“I bet my beard! Better have them at our sides than against us!”
They all laughed a lot, for the first time in days.

ooo000ooo

At mid-afternoon they reached the west margin of the river where the Lake-men were waiting for them with the ponies and supplies. Bard was not quite satisfied with the news that the dragon would actually be arisen, but reckoned it was better to know the risk than to go on blindfold, and thanked them for the information and resources provided. None of the men wanted to wait there, at the borders of the Desolation of Smaug, a minute more than needed, and went at once into the boats to go back home. It could be seen in the eyes of some of them that they pitied the dwarven Company and expected no good outcome of their quest. So close to the Desolation of Smaug, it was easier to believe in a dragon that wasn’t been seen the last sixty years than that the King Under the Mountain had returned.
The Company organized things to pack what was possible in the ponies the next morning, but, as they would ride, some of the supplies the few Lake-Man brought on a lot of ponies had to be left behind. They stove it in a stone cairn they deftly built, and put a tent atop of it. It was late autumn, but rain was still a chance.
They were dining the trout Ori, Bilbo, Nori and Glóin had fished along the day and Bombur roasted on the fire pit, along with bread from Lake-Town, nobody in a very good mood after seeing their first glimpse of the Desolation of Smaug. There was no better name for the burned and charred land, miles around the Mountain they yearned for. As soon as the sun set, the fire would be put down, so that it would not be visible in the distance. None knew if, how or when the dragon could spot them and end their quest with a single fire breath.
Balin showed Ellen the charcoal he mentioned the other day that would be easy to find, and she agreed, calling Iris to evaluate the remnants of the leafy forest that surrounded Erebor long decades ago. It was time for technical issues, and having none of the Lake-People around meant Thorin would probably call for a meeting still that night; the elf wanted to have some answers that weren’t possible to get before they got there.
“Are you sure it will work?” Asked the old dwarf.
“Of course I am... not! That’s why we have alternative plans, Little Brother. Now, do you think we can powder it easily? And what do you think about powdering the saltpeter and brimstone you mentioned we can find in Erebor?”
“Well, we can make a try tomorrow about the charcoal. About saltpeter and brimstone, I remember where their veins are, but better than this, I remember where they were stored after being mined, ready to cart. You see, both saltpeter and brimstone are used by farmers, and by healers, but farmers use a bigger amount, and Erebor sold it at a nice price. I don’t know if the stores will be quite powdered, as they can have been turned to stone again along the years, but since they were powdered once it would be easier to grind them, I deem. How much do we need of them?”
It was Iris who had the answer.
“The proportion is two brimstone to three charcoal and fifteen saltpeter. Gladly, we won’t have to carry so much charcoal to Erebor, and even there it looks like it will be easy to find, I’m sorry to say.”
The hobbit-lass saw Balin’s disturbed look, but there was not much to be done. They headed back to the camp for the night meeting.
It brought some doubts, a lot of complaints and a couple of good suggestions. The main problem was the doubt about if they would be able to find the Back Door at all, but Bilbo was sure they would.
“The moon-runes are quite clear, 'Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole.' We just have to find the grey stone and sat at the doorstep waiting for Durin’s Day last light. There is even a rune in the map showing where the grey stone must be.”
“But will we be able to get to this gray stone at all?” Someone asked.
“If my grandfather was able to get away from it, we are bound to be able to get to it.” Thorin made clear he would concede to no complaints.
“How long is it until Durin’s Day?” It was Lily’s turn to ask, and her healing arts master Óin who explained.
“It is quite simple. Our New Years Day is the first day of the last New Moon in Autumn, being that each season has its perfect middle at the solstice or equinox; so, our New Year begins somewhere between October the seventh and November the sixth, and  Durin’s Day occurs when the New Moon can be seen in the sky along with the setting sun of the New Years Day.”
Ellen thought, ‘Why to do it simple if you can complicate it?’ but kept it to herself and looked at the sky, like many others.
“We departed from Lake-Town October the sixth, and the moon is at his full now, so it leaves us a little more than two weeks to get to Erebor, find the Door, wait for it to show itself and get into the Mountain.” Stated orderly Dori. Ori could be the one to write things down, but his older brother was the one who kept track or every bit of data he got. The elf loved him for this.
“Now that we have the tasks set, we must define who will take charge of which. I hope for volunteers, according to each ones abilities.”
They divided themselves in teams for the future duties, and settled for the night, in no mood for laughing and singing being so close to the Desolation.

ooo000ooo

Next day they rode to the Mountain, hearts heavy with the feeling that the dead earth beneath their feet had been a green forest and now it was almost a desert, save for a little grass and some underbrush. They made it fairly in time to camp in the western side of the southern spur and Thorin sent a small scouting expedition to spy where the Front Gate stood.
Balin chose the burglar, for obvious reasons, and Fíli and Kíli, for their good sight, or at least that was his excuse. If he were really worried about good sight he would have chosen the elf and the other hobbit amongst them. What he really wanted was to be the first to show that vision of the ancient glory of that dwarven realm to the Durin’s heirs.
The rest of the Company settled the camp with care, as they didn’t know how many days they would be there. Bofur, Dori, Iris, Ellen and Dwalin went to gather burned stumps of the once upon a time Erebor’s forest and begun to grind it to a fine powder, being the first day Charcoal Team, while Glóin and Óin set the supplies in a logical way and Bombur managed to cook without fire. They would eat only cold meals as long as there would be a chance of Smaug spotting them for the fire light. With mid-day sunlight he would be able to even warm something, but with the setting sun he only hydrated and seasoned stuff. The remaining fish from the last dinner had been eaten at lunch.
Ellen managed to get a burlap sac after the Groinul brothers unpacked some of the provisions that would be used in a short time and used it to put the charcoal in and made her horse to tread on it several times. The result was not the fine powder they wanted, but reduced the time she and the rest of the Charcoal Team needed to get it that fine. They chatted as they worked, to make the time run faster and distract them of the boring task.
“Over here, up in this mountain spur, is a spot called Ravenhill.” Dwalin explained, as from that team only Dori had lived in Erebor who was old enough to remember anything. “It was a watch-post of old, but it is too exposed for us to try to climb it.”
“Does it have a way into the Mountain?”
“Aye, no. Else, it would be a weak spot to enter Erebor, that could be used by any enemy. There are some watch posts around the Mountain, all impossible to reach from outside if you have no wings, but Ravenhill is only reached from the outside.”
“I wish I were a skilled alpinist with all equipment required to climb this mountain, so we could get in through the watch posts!” Complained Iris.
“But then, dear, if we were skilled and equipped alpinists we would have climbed back that cliff we slid down, and we would never even perceive we came to Middle-Earth.” Ellen philosophized, and added with a smile. “After all we have been through, I don’t regret that fall.”
“Don’t you miss what you left behind, ladies?” Dori was always a gentleman.
Iris spurted out. “I miss Father and my friends at high-school and my singing classes and my computer and my internet and the shopping center and to watch movies and the microwave oven and most of all I miss a good electrical shower bath.” She stopped to catch her breath and concluded. “But I’m happy here.”
“It is a lot of things to miss, little friend.” Bofur added while delivering a portion of powdered charcoal to the secluded corner of the stone wall they deemed would be safer from wind, and covered the mound again with a spare tent. “And a long time missing them, already.”
The hobbit shuffled on her feet, getting more charcoal to grind.
“I am happy here, Bofur, I’ve found friends and adventure like I’d never find back at Earth, and even...” She swallowed down whatever word she was about to say. “I’ve even found me a couple of brothers, who would dream of that?”
Dwalin and Ellen exchanged knowing glances; the elf could be proportionally younger than the dwarf, but still was an adult, and her niece was a teenager, to all accounts. The girl’s mixed feelings were clear to them. Being member of the Company gave her a freedom she never had in her former world, but then, she took on responsibilities she never took on Earth. She had not yet got into her mind that the freedom she enjoyed was due to her compromise to what she was living for, and not the opposite. The elf tried to lighten up the spirits.
“I didn’t, and I found me a couple of brothers too!” She elbowed Dwalin’s chest to make her statement clear; the dwarf whacked her neck in return; she uplifted her arm to hit his forehead with the back of her hand and he ended the mock struggle jostling her onto the charcoal pile. Bofur didn’t let the subject cool down.
“But don’t you miss your world, Ellen? You keep thinking like you were there, you speak weird things of yonder that you yourself have to translate for us; isn’t it missing it?”
She thought for a little while, grinding the charcoal. Her answer came quiet but unwavering.
“I may be wrong, but I don’t thing so; I just do not pretend that I’m born to Middle-Earth and never knew anything else, or that this is my natural habitat; I believe it would be self-deception.” She looked at her charcoal black hands and smiled mischievously at her friends. “A good nail polish and a lipstick would cherish me up, for sure!” Iris laughed, the only one understanding what she meant. “I could miss some convenience, some easiness in to communicate with people far away, and to travel, and I thank Mahal and Varda I’ve never had the need for more developed medicine and science as a whole; it scares me to have a bacterial infection and die from a stupid thing like pneumonia or diarrhea or appendicitis, not having anesthesia to stitch a wound if needed, and ways to mend a tooth cavity.”
The elf shoveled her portion of powdered charcoal to Bofur and got more to grind.
“But I don’t miss getting stuck in car traffic, working sixty hour per week locked in an office tower, wearing high heels and tailleur for a meeting when what I need to accomplish what is expected from me was right between my ears, nowhere else.”
“All right, all right, I don’t want to know more about these torture things, Ellen. You don’t ever come close to me with high heels of traffic towers, understood?”
Bofur was a sweetie. Ellen giggled and Dwalin begun the rite of elbowing, whacking, hitting and jostling. The children of Fundin were playful, in their own way, not always understood by other people. Ellen was at ease, as she herself was not always understood by people in her former world.
The scouts came back, tired. Balin had made them return when they reached a place where from they could see the dark opening where from River Running waters fell, a dark hole open in the Mountain side like a foul mouth, for that was the opening Smaug made to wander in and out of Erebor after he first got in. Balin didn’t like the steam and dark smoke that came out from it, and deemed some crows he saw as a sign of evil spies and wills. The Charcoal Team took their return as a sign that they should get a bath to get all that charcoal out of their skins, at least to have a decent dinner, mostly after Kíli’s teasing at Ellen.
“I’ve heard that there were dark elves, but didn’t think you were one of them!”
“I’ll show you who is the dark elf!” And then she ran after him, trying to smear him with her charcoal black hands, to everyone’s laughter.
They were not close to any ordinary river, but they had snow melting water from the top of the mountain, and even not having it warmed some soap that the women bought at Lake-Town made it easier to wash away the black dust.
Next day they began the boresome task of scouting for the gray stone. Bombur was left at the camp, drying Óin’s plants as he ordered, and the others toiled in parties of three, searching for possible paths, always worried that Smaug could be atop of the Mountain spying them. They ended the day weary and low spirited, except for Bilbo. He had had a good view of the lay of the land, and asked for Thorin’s map to study it, which he did as long as there was light enough.
“I’d bet a tuna can we can have more luck moving to this vale behind that spur, it is the closest to where the rune is marked.”
“Also, it is further from the Front Gate, and so we might be more secluded from Smaug if he ever gets out of its lair.” Thorin added, agreeing to the move. “We should scout this vale before a move, though.”
“We can ride there in the morrow and evaluate it.” Balin offered. “I’ll take my brother and sister along.”
“Good.” Thorin nodded. “Some of the others can go back to the river and bring the supplies we left there.”
His look at his nephews meant who were the others he was thinking about, and they immediately offered to go, as well as Iris and Dori.
“You are too tiny to help to carry things, Iris!” Fíli teased her.
“But it is the ponies who will carry things, brother, I’ll just help to pack them and keep you both out of trouble.”
“Iris, would you please make me a favor when you are there close to the river?” The hobbit nodded to Óin. “We will need that large leaves of the yam that grows there. Bring as much as you can.”
Thorin agreed to the team that would go and it was settled. The remaining crew would keep searching for a path to the grey stone and grinding charcoal.

ooo000ooo

The scouting was done, the supplies where brought directly to the new camp, and the days passed without success in the search. As a good burglar, it was Bilbo who found the rough steps that led to a narrow track and then to a steep-walled bay, in whose inner end a flat wall rose, upright and smooth as only a dwarf could set a stone. In the middle of the grass patch before it there was a flat square stone, and it was grey.
"I´m shieldmaiden, and my hand is ungentle."