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Thorin and the Orc-Pack

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One day, Dis took young Fili and Kili picnicking in the fields outside Ered Luin. I told her it was a bad idea, but it had been a long dreary Winter and she was ready for some fresh air. So off they went on a cloudy Spring day to eat lunch by a stream on the mountainside.

As fate would have it, a patrol came in almost immediately after they’d left, to tell us that an orc-pack had been sighted in the area. So I dragged Thorin out of one of his endless meetings and we went to find them.

“There are no orcs here, Dwalin!” Dis said when we got there. “You’re just a fussy, overbearing—”

“There they are,” Thorin interrupted her.

Out from behind a house-sized boulder, around a hundred paces farther down the mountain, came a big orc wearing a breastplate made of rib-bones. He was riding a Warg. About fifteen more orgs rose up out of the bushes, encircling us.

Thorin unsheathed his sword. I fell back a pace or two to guard against an attack from the rear. The little forest glade was pretty, but not easy to defend—nothing to protect our backs, just trees and bushes and boulders on the sloped mountainside. With my warhammer out, I kept a wary eye on the other orcs who were slowly approaching Dis and the boys.

Young Fili, who was barely old enough to take his first weapons lessons with me, said, “Mahal, they’re huge! They must be Gundabad orcs!”

I lowered my warhammer and took a moment to explain. “No, Fili, they aren’t Gundabad orcs. These orcs are most likely from further South. See how their armor is tarnished and patchy? You’d never see that on an orc from Gundabad. ”

“Less lecturing and more fighting, Dwalin,” Thorin said, taking up a ready stance.

One of the orcs had circled around and was trying to sneak up behind us. His foot stepped on a twig, which snapped with a small sharp sound.

I brained him with my warhammer, which has a longer handle than either of my axes.

“I’m just trying to pass along a few tidbits to the youngsters,” I told Thorin, my feelings a bit hurt. “You can also tell the difference by way they move, Fili. Their training is less rigorous than—”

“Never mind, Dwalin,” Thorin growled. He had his eye on the leader, who was sitting on his Warg and watching us.

The mountainside was strewn with boulders, some as small as my head, and others house-sized. One of the larger boulders rose like a miniature cliff face beside the warg-rider.

The Warg-riding orc laughed. “Looks like meat is on the menu tonight, lads,” he shouted to the others. They cheered.

That did it. With a mighty roar, Thorin charged down the hill toward the leader, his blade drawn.

It was risky, but it was also the right thing to do. Without the Warg-rider, the other orcs would lose confidence and be much easier to defeat. And Thorin had the advantage of a higher position on the mountain’s slope, which helped to counteract the Warg-rider’s height atop his animal.

But, as I said, it was a risky move. The Warg rider waited, arms widespread, weapons ready, an evil grin on his ugly face.

Then Thorin shifted directions, aiming for that giant boulder that rose vertically beside the Warg-rider. Quicker than thought, he surged upward, running two steps up the side of the boulder. Then with a powerful thrust of his legs, he launched himself into the air toward the orc. His sword blade swept out, and flashed across the orc’s neck, completely severing the head from the body.

The orc’s body fell to the ground. As he came down, Thorin crashed into the Warg. Snarling, the beast turned to lunge at him.

Suddenly a buzzing sounded by my ear and an arrow lodged itself right in the Warg’s eye. The huge creature reared with a dreadful scream, which was cut off by a second arrow in its throat. Then Thorin’s blade slashed again and the beast fell dead.

A great cry of dismay rose up from the other orcs, who fell backwards at the death of the leader and his mount.

Thorin and I both turned and gaped at little Kili, who had shot the arrows into the Warg.

“Kili, what do you think you’re doing?” Dis demanded furiously. “I didn’t say you could bring your bow and arrows with you!”

“Nice work, Kili,” I said. “Now, let’s run off the rest of them.”

“I wanted to bring my sword, and you said no!” Fili shouted at his mother.

“This was supposed to be a picnic, not a raiding party,” Dis fumed.

It looked like they were about to get distracted, and there were still about a dozen orcs to deal with. I handed Fili my extra knife, saying, “Take care of any that get past me, or sneak up from behind.”

As I recall, Fili accounted for a couple of them that day. But the experience must have made an impression, because it was the last time Fili went anywhere without an entire arsenal of weapons on his body.

So that was the first and last picnic that Dis and the boys ever took. After that, they stuck to the taverns and inns of Ered Luin.