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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Fan Art:
For LionofErebor - my fanfic "The Ruby"

Tol Eressea

Apr 18 2017, 9:26pm

Post #1 of 3 (2359 views)
For LionofErebor - my fanfic "The Ruby" Can't Post

Inspired by a thread started by LionofErebor, this "between the scenes" fic speculates on what may have happened between Fili and Kili during Thorin's dragon sickness. In three parts, all posted below. Hope you like it!

The Ruby

“Was it a sign of his birthright, or a warning?”

Part I

Relief flooded the young Prince as the boat touched shore in front of the Lonely Mountain. From there, Fili could see the gates of Erebor, which looked strangely intact. Of course, he’d never seen the place before – he was born in the Blue Mountains, hundreds of miles west. But the gates of Erebor, and the city inside, had been described in glorious detail by his mother and uncle. Thorin spoke with such passion, such longing, that Fili believed he already knew the city by heart.

“This way,” he called out to his companions as he took the lead. He noted that Bofur and Oin automatically deferred to him, despite both being so much older. Although leadership was a new experience for him, Fili took it in stride. He’d been groomed for leadership as far back as he could remember. Hours of learning Dwarvish history and protocol, weapons training and battle tactics had paid off on this journey. In fact, Fili already had experienced more battles over the past six months than most Dwarves from Erid Luin would see in their lifetime!

As the gates drew closer Fili kept a close eye on their surroundings, regardless of how bleak and empty the terrain appeared. There were no orcs here, nor wargs, trolls or spiders, and certainly no dragon. Smaug was dead; he’d seen the wyrm fall from the sky, brought down somehow by Bard. Fili could only hope the bargeman survived and would reunite with Sigrid and Tilda. He’d gotten them out of Laketown safely, but now he had his own kin to think of. He glanced at his younger brother, who limped along quietly. The elf-maid was able to draw the poison from Kili’s blood, but the wound itself needed time to heal.

It was past mid-day when they finally climbed the last steps to the gate. Only now could Fili see a huge, gaping hole in the shape of a dragon. During Smaug’s attack there hadn’t been time to think of what became of Thorin, Bilbo and the rest of the Company. The relief he’d felt earlier gave way to panic as Fili ran inside, followed closely by the others.

“Hello,” Bofur called out. “Bombur? Bifur? Anybody?” His voice grew more shrill with every word. The floor of the entry level was littered with broken stone and other debris. Fili knew any survivors wouldn’t be on this level. He located the staircase that led to the chambers below, again leading the way as he hurried down.

As they reached the first landing, they heard the first sound of life. “Wait!” Bilbo yelled as he ran towards them. “Wait!”

“It’s Bilbo,” Oin exclaimed, “he’s alive!”

The Hobbit ran into their view with a dire message. “Stop! Stop! You need to leave. We all need to leave!”

“We’ve only just got here,” Bofur complained.

Bilbo barely caught his breath before continuing. “I’ve tried talking to him, but he won’t listen.”

“What do you mean, lad?” Oin was as confused as Bofur, but Fili had a sick feeling he knew who Bilbo referred to.

“Thorin,” Bilbo replied, confirming Fili’s suspicions. “Thorin,” he repeated, “he’s been down there for days. He doesn’t sleep, he barely eats. He’s not been himself lately, not at all.” While Bilbo spoke, Fili noticed a glow from a lit room on the next level down. That would likely be the treasure room that Thorin spoke of. He shifted around Bilbo while the Hobbit kept explaining. “It’s this place. I think a sickness lies on it.”

“Sickness? What kind of sickness?” Kili wasn’t sure what Bilbo meant, he only had his own recent sickness to go by. Unfortunately, Fili was almost certain he knew what type of sickness Bilbo spoke of. He’d heard other Dwarves speak of it: Thror’s sickness. His obsession with gold brought the dragon, they complained. Only once had Fili dared to ask about it. Thorin wouldn’t speak of it, but his mother told him the whole, ugly story – and made him promise not to repeat it to anyone, especially Kili. She confided in her oldest that she sometimes saw the same obsession in her older brother; the way he clung to the memory of the Lonely Mountain when most of the other Erebor Dwarves had moved on with their lives, herself included. She had married, settled down in the Blue Mountains and was quite content to stay there. Yes, her husband was dead, but she still had her two sons, so why would she want to leave? But Thorin had no such ties. He’d never married, though he most certainly could have if he’d bothered. And it only became worse after Thorin met with Gandalf! “Watch out for your brother,” Fili remembered her saying, “and promise me you’ll take him and leave if Thorin should fall to the sickness. Do not let him take you with him!”

Fili ignored Bilbo’s protests as he ran towards the treasure room. Yes, he’d promised his mother he’d look after Kili, but they couldn’t leave yet – not until he was sure! He paused for only a moment, bracing himself for what he might find before entering the treasure room. His kin and Bilbo stood next to him on a landing that overlooked an ocean of gold, piled like waves and shimmering in the reflected light of the braziers. It was obscene; no one should be in possession of so much wealth! Kili and Bofur were stunned, but Fili was simply unimpressed. He was only interested in finding Thorin, and if Bilbo was right this is where his uncle would be.

Sure enough, they heard the clink of coins as Thorin came into view. He wore a kingly robe but his eyes were downcast; not from shame but from something much worse. “Gold,” he whispered, although in that room the sound was amplified. “Gold beyond measure. Beyond sorrow, and grief….” Thorin’s eyes slowly shifted up, until he saw the four Dwarves on the upper landing. He pulled back in momentary surprise, as if he didn’t recognize his own kin. There was no cheerful greeting nor sigh of relief, only a strange smile of pleasure that Fili believed was not meant for him. “Behold,” Thorin commanded, “the great treasure hoard of Thror.” He turned slightly, reaching for something before spinning sharply back, launching an object toward his oldest nephew. Fili instinctively caught it – a blood red ruby the size of his fist. “Welcome, my sister sons, to the Kingdom of Erebor.” Thorin spread his arms out as he spoke, as if to say the entire kingdom lay in that room. He turned his head, and his eyes drifted down to the gold at his feet. He returned to his search, forgetting about his nephews.

“What’s wrong with him,” Kili asked quietly. Fili didn’t answer, because he was too baffled by the ruby.

Oin shook his head. “I do not know, lad, though I’ve heard some tales. Bilbo, is there anyone else here?”

“What about my brother,” Bofur demanded.

“He’s alright, they all are!” Bilbo smiled slightly. “Come on, I’ll take you to them.” Fili dropped the ruby in his pocket as he turned to follow Bilbo. They walked along the landing to another room, lit by torches and still dusty. Balin sat on a bench, looking at parchments laying across the table, while Dwalin stood looking over his shoulder.

“Balin!” Bofur couldn’t be happier seeing the two brothers. Dwalin broke into hearty laughter, something he rarely did, as he moved to greet his companions. Nori came racing down a flight of stairs, followed by his brothers, while Gloin, Bifur and Bombur came in from another room.

Fili gave hugs and patted the backs of his friends. “You all survived! We’ve all come though this together!”

Unfortunately, the happy reunion was cut short. Thorin came in, demanding that everyone resume the search for the Arkenstone. As the company spread through the vast treasure room, Thorin moved up to another landing where he could observe their progress. “Keep searching,” he ordered, “no one rests until it is found!”

Fili was near enough to hear Bilbo attempt to reason with Thorin. “Thorin,” he pleaded, “your nephews just arrived. Surely you’ll want to spend some time with them?”

“There will be plenty of time for that, once the Arkenstone is found. We came here for the Arkenstone, we must find it.”

“Why?” Bilbo was growing frustrated. “You needed the stone to rally the seven armies to defeat the dragon, but the dragon is dead! What do you still need it for?”

Thorin sighed. “You are not a Dwarf, so I understand you don’t realize it’s importance. But I need that stone to secure my right to rule, and Fili’s right after me. Everything I’ve done, I did for them! But we aren’t finished yet – not until the Arkenstone is found.”

Fili remembered the jewel in his pocket. So, Thorin was searching for the Arkenstone when he found the ruby. Had the jewel actually been the Arkenstone, his uncle would never have tossed it to him. He touched the bead holding his left braid in place, holding it up so he could look at it. It was a final gift from his mother. She’d carved runes into it, reminding him to return to her with his brother. Fili sighed, knowing what he must do. As much as he would like to believe his uncle was still with him, it was clear the treasure was having a horrible effect on Thorin. He resolved to talk to Kili at the first opportunity. Bilbo was right, they needed to leave.

I'd say I've entered my second childhood, but I never left the first!

Tol Eressea

Apr 18 2017, 9:29pm

Post #2 of 3 (2356 views)
"The Ruby" Part II [In reply to] Can't Post

It seemed like days before Fili could stop searching for the Arkenstone long enough to talk with Kili. He had found a small room off the main walkway – no echo to be heard – and persuaded Kili to meet him there. Kili staggered in and collapsed on a stone bench. “Oh, I ache from head to toe,” he complained, “and I’m starving, but there’s nothing to eat but cram!” He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

“Here, drink this.” Fili had a waterskin, which he offered to his brother.

“Thank you.” Kili took a few deep swallows before handing it back. “Where did you get that?”

“The waterskin came from Laketown,” Fili replied, “but there’s no shortage of water in Erebor.”

“No there’s not, is there?” Kili closed his eyes, ready to drift off to sleep.

Fili sat next to him and squeezed his arm. “Kili,” he whispered, “Bilbo is right. We need to get out of here.”

Kili gave his brother a look of both surprise and anger. “What? Leave now? What are you saying?”

“Kili, shhh!” Fili tried to calm his brother. “I don’t want anyone to hear this. I’ve gathered some supplies and weapons. We’ll slip out after dark and travel west, staying clear of Mirkwood and the survivors of Laketown. I don’t think they’d be happy to see us.”

“You’re serious,” Kili gasped. “You truly wish to leave?”

“Yes I’m serious!” Fili took a deep breath before trying to reason with his brother. “Kili, I promised Mother I’d keep you safe, no matter what. And she warned me this could happen – that Thorin could fall under the influence of gold. Can’t you see what’s happened to him?”

“Yes, I see it.” Kili looked pained as he spoke. “He left me behind in Laketown. I still can’t believe he did that.”

“Nor can I.” Fili grimaced at the memory. “I think that the sickness had already started then, but it’s gotten so much worse. All he can think about is that damned Arkenstone. I overheard him talking to Balin. Thorin practically accused one of us of having the stone and keeping it for himself!”

“No one would do that,” Kili scoffed.

“I don’t believe it either, but Thorin swore vengeance against whomever he believes has it.” Fili shuddered. “I don’t like where this is going, and I especially don’t want it to affect me.”

“Affect you?” For the first time, Kili began to fear Erebor. “Are you feeling anything?”

“No,” Fili reassured his brother, “but I think some of the others are. Bofur, Gloin and Nori can’t stop counting the gold.”

“What about the others?”

“Oin and Ori seem less affected, and Bombur is more concerned with food supplies.” Fili smiled weakly. “He’s also complaining about the cram. It will run out, and we can’t eat the gold.”

“Then we should leave it for them,” Kili suggested. “We can forage on the road, maybe take a little gold with us….”

“Shhh!” Fili held a finger to his lips as familiar footsteps echoed on the walkway.

Thorin came into their room, once again wearing the King’s robe and carrying some clothing. “What are you doing,” he asked calmly enough, but his eyes betrayed his suspicion.

“Taking a rest,” Fili replied with equal calm.

Thorin nodded, clearly not convinced. He scanned the room quickly, noticing the weapons. “What are those for?”

“For hunting,” Kili answered quickly. “I’m sick of cram, we all are. I thought Fili and I might find some game or fish.” It wasn’t exactly a lie, but Kili felt a bit guilty nonetheless.

Thorin seemed to accept it for now. “You need not bother. You will not find any game on this mountain. I will send a raven to Dain, telling him of our great victory and ask for supplies. I assure you, this time he will come. And when he does, you need to be dressed for your station.” Thorin handed his nephews a set of royal blue rainment. “Toss away those Laketown rags. You are Sons of Durin, my heirs, my sister-sons.” He smiled as the brothers examined the heavy leather overcoats. Fili also tested the chainmail on his epaulets. “Try it on,” Thorin requested eagerly.

Fili shrugged of the coarse outerwear Bard had given him, and pulled on the royal overcoat. It was heavier and warmer than the Laketown garb, and he realized the chainmail should protect him from all but the sharpest blade. “It’s a good fit,” he said appreciatively, “thank you.”

“You are most welcome.” Thorin smiled, but his joy was tinged with slight regret. “Master Baggins told me I was remiss in my greeting, and he is right of course. I ….” He closed his eyes briefly and exhaled. When his eyes opened, the brothers saw their uncle once more. “I am so grateful to see you both alive.” He reached out, placing a hand on his nephew’s shoulders. “When the dragon scorched Laketown I feared the worst. But fate has brought you back to me. We were meant to be together in this mountain.”

Thorin pulled his nephews into a strong embrace, but as his grip relaxed Fili could see his uncle fading. The gleam in Thorin’s eyes shifted from his sister-sons to gold and the Arkenstone. “Well, take a few moments to rest and get changed. There is still much work to be done on the mountain.” Fili nodded, but his heart sank. As Thorin walked away, Fili believed he’d seen his uncle for the last time. The Dwarf that helped raise Fili and Kili was all but gone.

Kili didn’t seem to notice his uncle’s change. He was busy putting on the clothes Thorin had given him. “These are nice,” he exclaimed. “The coat is heavy, but I can still move freely.” He picked up a sword and took a few practice swings.

Fili listened to the fading echo of footsteps before peeking around the corner. The way was clear; they could make their escape. “I’ve thought about asking Bilbo to come with us,” he mentioned.

“Come with us? Fili, we can’t leave yet!” Kili stood his ground while Fili tried to persuade him. “Did you not see him? Fili, I know our uncle is still there – we just need to remind him of who he is!”

Fili shook his head. “Kili, if we don’t leave now we’ll lose our chance.”

“And what of the others,” Kili protested. “What of Oin and Ori?”

“Ori is not my brother,” Fili reminded him, “you are.”

“They are all our brothers,” Kili shot back. “They followed us willingly and fought by our side. How can you just abandon them?”

“Because I promised Mother I’d get you home, and I will keep that promise or die trying!” Seeing his brother stand firm, Fili tried another tactic. “Besides, Dwalin and Balin will never leave Thorin’s side.”

“No, they won’t,” Kili snapped, “and neither should we. I’ll not abandon Thorin – not now, not ever!” And with that Kili turned and stormed out of the room.

He didn’t get far, though. Dwalin was down the walkway. “Kili,” he called out, “there you are. Is Fili with you?” Fili stepped out of the room, standing next to Kili. “Ah,” Dwalin grunted, “very good. Thorin is calling everyone to the gate. Best get going.”

By the time they reached the gate, a low wall had already been erected. Bifur and Gloin were selecting which pieces of rubble to use, while Bofur was directing their placement. Bilbo was helping as best he could, but Hobbits aren’t nearly as strong as Dwarves. “Oy, Kili,” Bofur called out, “there’s a pretty sturdy cart down there.” He gestured towards the stairwell they’d gone down when they first arrived. “Take Bilbo with you, see if you can gather some of the smaller bits. We can use them to fill in the gaps. Fili, lend us a hand up here.” The brothers glanced at each other briefly before Fili climbed the steps to the front entrance. “Oh,” Bofur exclaimed, “I see you found yourself a new outfit!”

“Actually, Thorin found it,” Fili admitted.

“Well, it suits you fine, a lot better than that Laketown cloth, I’ll wager. Oh, put that one there.” Bofur helped Fili position a large slab of stone before tamping it with his hammer. “We don’t stack these just right, the whole thing will come crashing down on our heads!”

Bilbo and Kili walked carefully toward the cart, gathering stones as they moved. Once out of earshot of the others, Kili confided in Bilbo. “Fili wanted to leave, but I wouldn’t go with him.”

“Why not?”

“Because, when Thorin brought us these clothes, it was like he’d returned to us.”

Bilbo nodded. “I understand. I saw a bit of him earlier, before this started.” He gestured at the cart as he spoke. “We were talking about home, and for a moment I thought I was getting through to him. And then the Laketowners came, and ….” He tossed the stones he’d gathered into the cart. “This wall we’re trying to build. I’m no Dwarf, but I know something about walls. If the Laketowners are determined enough, they’ll be able to break through. Maybe you should leave while you still can.”

Kili glanced at the wall. “You may be right,” he acknowledged, “but it doesn’t matter. He’s my uncle, and I won’t abandon him.”

Bilbo smirked. “Even though he left you behind?”

“Especially because of that.” Kili threw a large stone in the cart. “Because I know how it feels to be abandoned by your kin. I won’t do that to Thorin. It’s the worst kind of betrayal.”

Bilbo grimaced at the word. “Maybe not the worst kind,” he muttered.

“What could be worse?” Kili looked at Bilbo while reaching for another stone, waiting for an answer.

Bilbo shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know,” he lied, “but probably something. Well, I think this cart’s about full, don’t you?”

“Yeah, good enough.” Kili moved past Bilbo to the front of the cart, grasping the poles that are normally yoked to goats. Bilbo got behind and pushed the cart, which creaked as it lumbered toward the gate.

At that moment Thorin came into view, issuing orders. “I want this fortress made safe by sunup. This mountain was hard won, I will not see it taken again.”

Kili had heard in great detail how the dragon chased the Company through Erebor, how Thorin conceived a plan to kill Smaug, and how the plan failed. Unable to route the Dwarves, Smaug took his anger out on Laketown. Its destruction was really their fault. And how could Thorin turn his back on them? Did he not resent the Elves for doing the same thing? Without thinking Kili blurted, “The people of Laketown have nothing! They came to us in need, they have lost everything!”

“Do not tell me what they have lost,” Thorin shot back. “I know well enough their hardship.” He looked out toward Dale, which was lit by dozens of small fires. “Those who’ve lived through dragon-fire should rejoice. They have much to be grateful for.” From where he stood, Fili could see the expression on Thorin’s face – cold and dismissive of the plight of others; now shifting to suspicion of their motives. “More stone,” he demanded. He seized a huge stone and heaved it at Nori. “Bring more stone to the gate!”

Fili’s despair grew with every stone put in place, seeing his chance to escape fade as the wall stretched higher. For the same barrier erected to keep the Laketown survivors out also kept the Company trapped inside. Here they would starve and die, and be remembered not as victorious warriors, but as cowards consumed by their own greed.

I'd say I've entered my second childhood, but I never left the first!

Tol Eressea

Apr 18 2017, 9:31pm

Post #3 of 3 (2356 views)
"The Ruby" Part III [In reply to] Can't Post

The Dwarves worked through the night, constructing not just a solid wall, but a rampart with stairs leading to it. Fili was sorting through some weapons when Thorin summoned him to follow. So exhausted he was that at first, Fili couldn’t understand why. After a moment, he realized the Laketowners must be coming. He picked up a battle axe and quickly followed his uncle. Once on the rampart, Fili could see something he hadn’t expected: an army of Elves, as many as 3,000 encamped in Dale and ready for battle.

Hoofbeats sounded on the road leading to their gate. Bard was coming, likely for the share of treasure Thorin had promised. Fili stood near his brother, but turned away slightly at the sight of the Bargeman. Kili also felt conflicted. Thorin was both his uncle and his King, but Bard had taken him in when no one else would. Kili feared what his uncle would do – Thorin would not be bullied on his best days! He stood firm against a dragon, he would surely do the same with the Elves.

“Why do you come to the gates of the King Under the Mountain armed for war?” As expected, Thorin’s greeting was less than welcoming. Still, Thorin agreed to speak with Bard, which gave Kili some hope.

Fili, however, was not so hopeful. He waited barely a minute before following Thorin down the stairs, followed in turn by everyone else. Fili listened as Thorin refused to honor his word. The young dwarf had never felt so much shame as he did this moment. But here he stood, and here he would remain faithful to his ever-maddening uncle. He followed Thorin back up the stairs, watching as an angry Bard rode away.

“What are you doing,” Bilbo demanded. “You cannot go to war.” Fili agreed with Bilbo. The Company was badly outnumbered and couldn’t hope to hold out for long. Thorin’s reassurance was cryptic – perhaps he’d sent for Dain after all, but how long would the Iron Hills Dwarves take to arrive?

After Thorin left, Kili spoke with his brother. “Suppose we sneak out tonight and take Bard some of the gold?”

“That could be treason,” Balin cautioned.

“Not if it comes from my share,” Kili argued. “I can do what I want with it, can’t I?”

Balin shrugged. “Perhaps, but I don’t believe it would have any effect on Thranduil. The Elven King wants the white gems, I’ll wager.” Fili remembered the ruby, and pulled it from his pocket. “What’s that,” Balin asked.

“It’s the jewel Thorin gave me when we first arrived. I’d gladly give it to Thranduil, but I doubt it would be enough to stop him from laying siege to the mountain.”

“No,” Balin agreed, “he’ll likely be here in the morning. We need to be ready for that. C’mon lads, let’s get to the armory.” Fili and Kili were the last to leave the ramparts. Fili looked back at Bilbo, who stood still and appeared deep in thought. Balin noticed as well. He approached Fili, leaned towards his ear and whispered, “Perhaps he’ll leave before tomorrow. It would be best, I think. This really isn’t his fight.” Fili nodded in agreement before examining some shields.

* * * * *

Sure enough, the next day’s light revealed the Elven army outside the gate in battle formation, with at least 200 Laketown survivors in their ranks. As Bard and Thranduil approached, Thorin fired a warning shot with his bow. “I will put the next one between your eyes,” he threatened. Fili couldn’t help but join his companions in cheers, until they were threatened by Elvish arrows.

“We’ve come to tell you that payment of your debt has been offered,” Thranduil announced. Fili turned a worried eye to his brother. Did Kili sneak out and give them some gold? His question was answered when Bard revealed the Arkenstone.

“Thieves!” Kili was furious. “How came you by the heirloom of our house?” He didn’t have to wait long for an answer.

“The stone is real,” Bilbo said calmly, “I gave it to them.” Fili was stunned, but also a bit remorseful. Bilbo had done the thing he and Kili only talked about. He risked Thorin’s wrath by attempting to force a settlement, to save them all. Bilbo may have done something wrong, but his heart was in the right place.

Unfortunately, Thorin didn’t see it that way. “Throw him from the ramparts,” he demanded. That was just too much, and for the second time on this journey Fili turned away from his uncle. “Did you not hear me,” Thorin asked as he tried to coerce his nephew, but Fili pulled loose from Thorin’s grip and stood firm. “I will do it myself,” Thorin bellowed as he grabbed Bilbo by the lapels. Fili charged forward to stop him, but Thorin dodged his nephew and pushed the Hobbit against the retaining wall.

“If you don’t like my burglar then please, don’t damage him.” Gandalf’s booming voice shook Thorin to the core, stopping him from carrying out his threat. Bilbo slid out from under Thorin’s grasp. Fili helped him to stand as Bofur came to help Bilbo get away. But the conflict was not over yet.

“Are we resolved,” Bard asked, and for a moment it looked like Thorin would relent. But then a raven landed nearby, and Dain arrived with more than 500 Dwarves – hardly an equal match, but they would fight regardless. Fili cheered at the sight, but his enthusiasm turned to horror as Dain exchanged insults with Thranduil and ordered his cavalry to attack.

The fight had barely begun when the earth rumbled and split open, spilling an army of Orcs on the field between Erebor and Dale. Dain ordered his Dwarves to regroup, forming a shield wall to stop the onslaught. Surprisingly the Elves joined in, but even their combined forces were not enough. “I’m going over the wall,” Fili shouted, “who’s with me?”

But Thorin would have none of it. “Stand down,” he ordered. Fili tried to argue, but his protests fell on deaf ears. “I said, stand down,” Thorin barked as he turned and walked away.

The Company stood frozen for several minutes until Balin also walked down the stairs. “Come away, lads,” he said despairingly, “I cannot bear to watch this.” The rest of the Company followed him to the entryway. Balin pulled off his plate armor and let it fall before he sat down. “It’s over,” he mumbled. The others did the same, some looking as dejected as Balin, while others threw their armor down in disgust.

“Why are we still here?” Kili paced angrily as he spoke. “We should be out there, fighting with Dain!” He looked around, seeing agreement in the Company’s eyes, but no one moved toward the gate. Fili noticed Dwalin walking toward the throne room. Perhaps he should go there as well, but in truth he felt as defeated as Balin. As he pulled off the plate armor, his fingers brushed against the ruby, still in his pocket. He pulled it free and looked it over sadly before dropping it next to the armor.

I'd say I've entered my second childhood, but I never left the first!


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