Chapter 1: Harsh Words
The day had been long and they had travelled a great distance. But now, as the sun began to set, turning the sky a deep orange colour, their feet ached and they longed for some rest. Bombur’s stomach grumbled quietly, he would make a stew with potatoes and rabbit when they stopped. Even the thought warmed him against the cooling air. It began to pinch at the company’s noses. Thorin was, as usual, walking ahead of the rest. He looked up to inspect the sky.
“It will be dark soon.” He said coming to a stop. “This looks like a good place to make camp.” The area was flat enough to make beds with some rocks and bare trees to provide shelter from any wind. A little way further, upon a ridge was the beginning of a woodland. “We will stop here.” He looked ahead of him at the distant horizon and the far away shadow of the Lonely Mountain. Erebor beckoned him, and it would not be long until he was ready to reclaim his homeland and his kingdom. That moment could not come soon enough. Behind him he heard his company begin to settle, dropping their heavy bags on the ground with soft thuds.
“I am glad to have that off my back.” Bofur groaned, he stretched his aching back then stretched his arms above him. He reached into his coat pocket to retrieve his pipe just as Kili came towards him, smiling broadly.
“Getting weak in your old age, Bofur?” He winked playfully, the ever-present mischievous glint in his brown eyes.
“I am not old!” Bofur said, sounding rather insulted. He crossed his arms over his chest.
“We will be carrying you on our backs before the journey ends.”
“I am not old.” Bofur repeated, “I could still give you a run for your money.” Kili’s eyebrows arched before he proceeded to grip him in a light headlock – light as it was Bofur couldn’t seem to shake the younger dwarf off. Kili lifted his hat and ruffled his hair.
“What was that you said?”
“Oi! Kili!” Bofur hit him on the shoulder, “I would appreciate it if you were to let me go.” With one last chuckle Kili released him. Bofur brushed his jacket.
“I am just playing with you friend!”
“Then stop playing,” came Thorin’s gruff and unimpressed voice. Kili turned to see his uncle marching towards him. His smile disappeared and the rest of the company fell silent at Thorin’s irritated expression. His eyes were dark with fatigue and frustration. “I did not bring you on this quest to play!” Thorin glared before snatching the hat from Kili’s grasp and pushing it into Bofur’s chest. Bofur let out a noise at the force Thorin used.
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” Kili said quietly. Beside him Bofur nodded.
“Ai, he was just …” But Thorin held up a hand for him to be quiet. He and Kili exchanged glances before he moved back a few steps and wrung his hat in his hands. Thorin’s eyes were fixed upon Kili who, feeling uncomfortable, shifted his weight under the icy stare.
“Is this whole journey a joke to you Kili?”
“You know it’s not.”
“No, I don’t.” Thorin sighed irritably. He pinched the bridge of his nose and there was silence for some moments. It was the loudest type of silence, it was awkward and as much as Kili wanted it to break – silence was unnatural – he didn’t know what his uncle would say. All he knew was that he was angered. Kili didn’t like it when Thorin was angry. “You are always making jokes or doing something stupid or reckless.” Kili opened his mouth to say something but then thought better of it and closed it again, instead he lowered his gaze.
“Uncle,” Fili said warmly, smiling, trying to relieve the tension. It didn’t work, as he now felt his uncle’s cold gaze upon him. He continued to walk forward to stand beside Kili, who didn’t look up at his approach. “You can’t blame him for wanting to bring a little relief to our travels.” It was true that the journey was tough and tiring, and when spirits were low the brothers, especially Kili, helped to lift them. Thorin paused for a moment.
“But that is not why he is here.” Thorin sighed, it was a sigh of someone who was losing patience. “Kili.” His youngest nephew looked at him, brows knitted together. “Do not make me regret bringing you along. Perhaps you are too young and irresponsible.” Regret bringing you Kili’s eyes widened. Did his uncle really think that? It didn’t matter, the words themselves hurt, whether they were true or not. “Make yourself useful and find us some firewood.” And with that Kili knew he was dismissed. Kili began to walk away but then stopped and approached Thorin, he didn’t stop until there was mere inches between them. He straightened his shoulders looked at him with boldness.
“I take this quest as seriously as the rest. You don’t need to question my dedication.” He said quietly but with conviction. And with that he turned and headed towards the woods. Fili made to follow him but Thorin placed a hand on his chest.
“Not you.” He said sternly. Fili went to question but decided against it, Thorin was not in the best of moods, and instead he watched Kili disappear into the trees.
Chapter 2: Eyes in the dark
A cold wind began to blow in from the east which rustled the tops of the trees as Kili walked amongst them, heart pounding in his chest with frustration. Was nothing he did ever good enough for his uncle? He had done far more on this journey than make jokes or be reckless, yet Thorin didn’t seem to take note of them. He kicked at a stone with an angry cry. It bounced off the trunk of a tree and rolled into the shrubbery. He walked deeper into the woods, leaves crunching and twigs snapping beneath his feet. It was almost entirely dark now, only the light of the rising moon fighting its way through the thick canopy. An owl hooted in the branches overhead. Kili looked up just to catch it swooping down to the ground to catch a small rodent – a mouse probably – then disappear above the trees in one swift, effortless movement. How wonderful it would be to fly, Kili thought, to soar above the word with no restrictions. No expectations. He sighed and leaned back against a tree, eyes closed. He could not shake the memory of Thorin’s expression as he spoke to him, there was an undeniable look of unspoken disapproval there, and it hurt Kili to see. Though he wouldn’t admit it. Minutes past and the young dwarf stayed stood where he was, listening to the sounds of night animals go about their business, obviously not fazed by his presence. But then all sound seemed to stop, all but the night wind that blew with a more bitter coldness than before. Kili’s eyes flashed open to the sound of rustling bushes and he took a step forward. They rustled again.
“Fili?” His first thought was that his brother had followed him. “Is that you brother?” The only response he received was the bushes moving again. He moved towards them, hand wrapping around the handle of his sword, fingers drumming it lightly. He peered into the thick foliage and heard a noise like the deep growl of a dog. He slowly released his sword from its sheath, pointing its tip down to the ground. Then he saw them; two large yellow-red eyes, too large to belong to any normal dog, or even a wolf for that matter, staring back at him. He had no time to react before the beast leapt from its hiding place and sent him flying through the air. His left side hit a tree will a painful thud. He groaned and griped his arm, pain shot through it. The animal - a warg, a huge fierce canine beast - stalked towards him and looked at him hungrily, drool dripped from the sides of its mouth which opened in a loud growl. Kili tried to back away as it got closer, he could smell its foul breath, like rotten flesh, but only managed to dig his back harder into the tree trunk. The warg titled its head to the side and breathed in Kili’s scent. Then from behind the it emerged about half a dozen more but instead of approaching him they ran off into the direction of the camp, where his friends were – completely unaware. He reached for his sword that had fallen from his grasp, the warg lashed at him with its enormous paws, its razor-sharp claws catching his wounded left arm as he lifted it to protect his head. He cried out in pain, red hot pain like heated steel. He dived to the side and gripped his sword. In its reflection he saw the warg lunge at him, he turned to it and drove his weapon through its muzzle. For a moment it was pinned to the ground, wriggling and yelping. But didn’t last as it raised its head, sword falling backwards into a pile of leaves. Blood poured from the warg’s mouth. It shook its head, disorientated, and Kili took this as a chance to pick a heavy rock from the ground and bring it down on the beast’s head. The warg collapsed with a cry. Kili brought the rock down again, hearing the crack of the warg’s skull. Once he was satisfied that it was not getting back up Kili got to his feet, with a hiss of pain, and moved to retrieve his sword. Despite the pain in his arm he ran through the trees, determined to get back to the others.
“There was no need to be so harsh on the lad, Thorin.” Bofur said, straightening his hat.
“Ai,” Balin nodded, “He means well. He is very loyal to our cause and to you. You seem to forget that.” Thorin said nothing to this just grumbled under his breath. He walked away, passing Fili who was sat, head resting in his right hand, on a rock, watching the trees intently. It was positively dull without his brother. Besides Kili had been gone some time, the sun had completely set now, and the moon was getting higher. How far into the woods had his brother ventured? Though Kili was probably angry at Thorin as was probably not in any rush to return to him. Fili stared over at his uncle, who was stood a little away from the rest, gazing thoughtfully into the distance. Fili rolled his eyes. Thinking of Erebor no doubt. He could understand his uncle’s desire to return there, of course Fili had never seen it, but the way Thorin spoke of it, eyes glistening, it sounded like the most wonderful place in the world. But then darkness would wash over Thorin’s face as he remembered the day the kingdom was lost to Smaug and the battles he’d fought, the losses he’d experienced. He never spoke of this to his nephews, but of course they knew the story, all dwarves did. But Fili wished Thorin would not be so hard on Kili, for he was young and hopeful. He hoped Kili would hurry back. There was an unwelcomed tension that Kili could break simply with his smile. That is if he felt like smiling when he returned. Fili’s head snapped up as he heard a strange noise from the wood. He couldn’t place it as the wind carried much of it away. He rose to his feet.
“Did anybody hear that?” He asked. The others looked at him with blank stares.
“Hear what?” It was Bilbo who spoke, he came to stand beside Fili and followed the dwarf’s stare into the trees.
“I heard a noise.”
“I’m not sure, but it didn’t sound right.”
“It was probably just Kili playing some prank again.” Said Dwalin gruffly. Fili dismissed that comment with a shake of his head.
“I highly doubt he is in the mood.” He said, glancing at Thorin who was staring in his direction. Then came the noise again, clearer, louder this time. Like a rumbling, echoing growl. “Did you hear it that time?”
“Yes,” Said Bilbo, backing away slightly, “that I heard.” The rest of the company had got to their feet, obviously hearing it too. Thorin was making his way towards them, eyes fixed on the tree line. “What was it?” As if answering Bilbo’s question, five huge silhouettes emerged from the woods. Another growl.
“Wargs!” Thorin yelled, “get your weapons!”
Chapter 3: Distraction
Kili continued to run through the trees, jumping over fallen logs and ditches. Heart beating rapidly in his chest, fearing for his friends, and the pain from his arm pulsed into his skull and resonated in the area behind his eyes. Every footstep made it feel like a small explosion inside his head. He pushed low hanging branches out of his way and slashed at the thick foliage with his sword. Finally the trees began to thin – he had wandered further into the woods than he had first though, and therefor too far away to warn his friends about the wargs before they attacked. He cursed himself quietly for not arriving back quick enough. He could the ferocious growls of the wargs and the slashing and pounding of the company’s weapons getting louder as he approached.
The wargs didn’t seem to fall – they had only managed to kill one - despite all the blows the dwarves landed, and the fact they were outnumbered didn’t seem to make any difference. For the beasts were far larger and quicker, and their dark fur helped to conceal them in the shadows cast by the silver moon. The hides of the wargs were thick and almost impenetrable upon the first attack, any damage made at all didn’t seem to slow them down for very long. Thorin looked about him desperately, if the wargs would not fall they needed to get away. They wouldn’t reach the woods before the beasts caught them but then he remembered the few lonely trees that scattered the campsite. He peered up. They were tall and with branches that would be easy enough to climb.
“The trees!” He shouted, “Climb the trees!” He swiped his sword at a warg, cutting its nose, it yelped and fell back, rubbing its muzzle with one of its great paws. “Quickly!” He jumped from the edge of a tall rock and grabbed onto a branch, pulling himself up he could hear a warg try to snap at his legs, but he lifted them before the its jaws were able to get him. He continued to scale the tree and glanced quickly down, Nori and Bofur had joined him and were climbing just below him. Dwalin, Gloin, Bombur and Oin climbed the tree to his left, heaving their weapons with them. Balin and Bifur climbed the one to the right and Fili, Bilbo, Ori and Dori climbed the one beside that. Dori was practically pulling Ori up it and Bilbo was pushing the young dwarf higher, desperate to get further from the ground and the wargs, who were obviously irritated that their lunch were now out of their reach, instead two had begun to snap at each other like they blamed each other for the dwarves getting away. Once Thorin felt they were high enough, almost to the very top of the bare trees, he leaned against the thinning trunk and breathed heavily. “Is everyone alright?” He called. Multiple puffed voices came back to him, informing him that they were safe and unharmed.
“What about Kili?!” Fili yelled. Even in the shadow of a branch above him, Thorin could see the worried look on his face as his eyes flicked between his uncle, the wargs beneath them and the forest. “What if they got him in the woods?! Or what if he returns and they attack him?!” Fili’s voice broke slightly with concern. He stared at his uncle who was silent for some moments, he could feel twelve sets of eyes upon him.
“He will be okay, Fili.” He reassured with a nod, putting away his sword, it was no use to him in the tree. “He will sense they’re here, he has keen hearing and sharp eyes.”
“You tell him that! Instead of calling him useless!”
“I did not say that to him.”
“You as good as did!” Fili growled. Thorin sighed heavily, this was not the place to get into an argument. Fili crossed his arms and turned away so that he was facing the opposite direction to his uncle.
The dwarves were still up their trees, sat now on the branches and looking down at the wargs who circled the trunks, heads tilted upwards and eyes shining with hunger.
“Do you suppose they’ll leave soon?” Ori asked quietly.
“Once they realise that we’re not coming down they’ll get bored.” Bilbo shrugged. He shifted his position, the branch he was sat on was not very comfortable, and the rough bark was starting to itch. He looked over at Fili in the other tree, who had his back against the trunk, one leg pulled up and the other dangling over the side of the branch. It was a relaxed position but Bilbo knew the blonde dwarf was far from relaxed. He had barely looked away from the forest, the only time his gaze broke was when the wargs made a particularly unhappy noise, to which he’d make a disgusted look, like the creatures made his skin crawl, and then he’d look back towards the trees hoping to see his younger brother peek through the plants. If Kili was sat up in the trees with him he was sure he would be antagonising the wargs by throwing branches and pieces of bark at them, laughing when they got angry. Bilbo had seen Thorin glancing at Fili many times, then looked away with regretful sighs.
“Well I hope these vile creatures get the idea soon,” Bofur grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest, “This tree is incredibly uncomfortable.” One of the wargs, with mucky brown fur, stood up on its back legs, front paws leaning against the tree and jumped. His jaw snapped at one of the lower braches but it couldn’t get high enough to get the dwarves and the hobbit. Bilbo was sure he saw Ori poke his tongue out at the animal, he smiled slightly. Then a large stone flew through the air and hit the warg on the muzzle.
“HEY!” came a yell. They all looked to see Kili stood upon the ridge where the woods began waving his right arm above his head, “HEY! OVER HERE!” He threw another stone that hit another warg on the shoulder. All of the beast’s attention where on him now. And all of the group’s attention for that matter. Kili drew his bow and pulled an arrow from its quiver. He pulled the string of the bow back so that his knuckles brushed his cheek, then he released the arrow. It travelled soundlessly through the air before piercing the skull of the brown furred warg, a perfect shot. The animal fell instantly and soundlessly to the. Kili smiled. “YOU WANT SOME YOU UGLY OVERGROWN MUTTS?! COME AND GET ME!!” Then slinging his bow across his back he dashed back into the trees, the remaining three wargs ran after him, not thinking of the dwarves in the trees anymore. “COME ON, COME AND GET SOME NICE TASTEY DWARF!!” Kili’s shouts began to fade as the darkness of the forest swallowed him up.
“KILI! NO!” It was Fili who was shouting now, panic obvious in his voice. He began to half climb half jump down the tree and within moments his boots hit the ground and he drew his sword from the sheath and moved to follow his brother.
“Fili, stop!” Thorin was beginning to climb down his own tree.
“I will not wait! I’m going after him!” The younger dwarf cried, glaring darkly at his uncle. Thorin went to say something but he was cut off, “Whatever you’re about to say, don’t. I am going after my brother, I will not let those wargs harm him. Are you going to help me, or are you going to stay here?” Fili sounded as though he was almost daring Thorin to hold him back or to stay behind, but Thorin said nothing.
Chapter 4: One Versus Three
Kili was sure he had never run so fast in his life, but even so, he could hear the wargs begin to catch him up with every step. He wouldn’t outrun them, they were far too quick. But his momentum and the adrenaline pounding through his veins kept him surging forward into the forest deeper and darker. Kili could hear the wargs, he could hear their thundering steps, he could hear their howls. He sidestepped swiftly to the left and ducked behind a rock just as the three wargs approached. They stopped a little further to sniff the air; they knew he was near, that they hadn’t lost him. He quietly released his sword from the sheath on his hip, it caught the light of the moon through the trees and glinted. So, he’d successfully drawn the wargs’ attention from his friends in camp, but what now? He didn’t have a plan for what to do next. In fact he wasn’t sure he even had a plan in the first place. He had just acted on impulse. All he knew was that he couldn’t run, they’d catch him. He couldn’t keep hiding, they’d find him. That left one thing: he had to fight. He almost regretted drawing their attention. Reckless, just as Thorin had said, if he survived this he was sure to get scolded for his actions. But he didn’t care. If his recklessness saved the lives of the others it would be worth all the yelling and anger and arguments. He swallowed and took a deep breath before scaling the rock with quiet feet. He stood. He was higher than the wargs. He watched them silently, they made gnarling, growling noises amongst themselves, ears and noses twitching. He’d seen wargs before, but he’d never really looked at them – he’d always been too busy running away or fighting them. They were fearsome, built with strong muscles that displayed their formidable power. It was their eyes more than anything that made Kili feel the most anxious. They only seemed to be full of two things; anger and hunger. Always searching out their next hunt. He could see why Orcs favoured them. One of the wargs, that had been sniffing the ground, snapped its head up. It had caught his scent. Kili wrapped his hands tighter around his sword and with a cry he leaped off the rock and landed on the back of the nearest warg. It tried to shake him off like a wild pony, thrashing, shaking and spiralling. Gripping its thick, dirty fur with one hand Kili drove his sword into the warg’s shoulder blades with the other. The warg let out a loud growl which turned into a pained yelp. He twisted the blade and with one last yelp the warg fell, causing Kili to tumble off it. The other wargs turned to look, ferocity in their eyes, at their fallen pack member. The grey warg caught sight of Kili, their eyes locked as the dwarf got to his feet. The warg came at him, jaws apart and flashing its great dagger-like teeth. Kili ran forward, towards it, and forced his sword into its open mouth. The blade travelled through the roof of its mouth and came out in the space between its dark eyes. It was dead instantly. Pulling his weapon away he let the animal fall to the ground and into the mud. Blood spurting from its wound and mouth, covering its grey fur. Kili hadn’t time to see the other warg come toward him, he was too caught up in the sight before him, how even as it lay dead the warg was huge, bigger than a full grown horse almost. Before he could do anything the young dwarf felt himself lifted from the ground. And then came the pain, like nothing he had ever felt, as the teeth cut into him and tore at his right side. He was immediately aware that he was in the jaws of the remaining warg, and the jaws were strong indeed. He could feel his ribs begin the buckle and break, he began to cry out in agony but no air escaped his lips. There was too much force upon him to breathe. The warg shook him like a children’s toy before releasing him. Kili hit the ground and slid through the mud on his back and into a tree trunk. The world around him began to blur, colours of the trees and plants mixing together. There was another colour, a dark brown unlike the other shades of the forest. He shook his head and his vision cleared long enough for him to see the last warg rushing at him with terrifying speed. Kili had not the strength to stand and run, his body was battered and bruised and he could feel the warmth of blood flowing from his wounds. The most he was able to do was raise his sword. The warg was unfazed and continued to approach him, jaws snapping, teeth glinting. As it took its final lunge Kili gave out a loud cry, like one of battle, and gripped the handle of his sword with such force his knuckles turned white. He closed his eyes and waited for the warg’s jaws close down on him again. But it did not come. He felt a great weight hit his sword arm, the force caused an immeasurable pain to shoot throughout his body. He screamed out in agony. He felt the warg’s stale, rotten breath on his face. The animal groaned and gurgled. He opened his eyes to see the beast impaled on his sword, the blade going straight through its stomach. With one last convulsion the warg fell silent and still. Kili, with what strength he could muster, wrenched his sword from it and the body fell, trapping his legs with a great weight. Kili’s head fell back as he cried out again. He breathed deeply, any air he was able to inhale was roughly pushed back out again, it hurt to breathe. It hurt to do anything.
Chapter 5: In The Darkness of the Forest
The company ran through the dense trees, the only light to guide them came from the moon. The silver light helped to pick out tracks in the dirt which kept leading them deeper into the woods. Fili was ahead, the others – even Thorin – had to push themselves to keep up with the young dwarf. A million thoughts raced through his head, terrifying thoughts that sent chills up his spine to even consider. What if they didn’t reach Kili in time? Or what if they didn’t reach him at all? Kili was a good fighter but he couldn’t possibly stand a chance against three Wargs! Fili felt his chest tighten with dread at the prospect of the wargs catching his brother.
“Wait!” Bofur called, coming to a dead stop. Ori almost collided with him, not expecting the dwarf to stop so suddenly. “Here! A warg!” Fili came to a halt and turned to see the others walking cautiously into the shrubbery.
“Careful.” Thorin said, holding up a hand, signalling for them to stop, “It may not be dead.” Dwalin held his sword out, tip pointing right at the unmoving beast. With a nod from his leader he stepped forward. He poked the warg with his weapon, it didn’t respond. Its chest was not even rising and falling. The breeze blew through its light fur, Dwalin moved around it.
“Ai. It’s dead alright.” He nodded. He crouched a little, “there’s a sword wound to its muzzle and it looks like its skull has been cracked open.”
“But where did that one come from?” Dori asked, taking a step forward, “I don’t recall seeing that one.”
"It must have gone after Kili while the others came for us." Dwalin shrugged. He looked down at the warg, impressed. “The lad did a good job killing the beast. It must have taken some force to cause this damage.”
“And no doubt resulting in him receiving some damage himself.” Fili pushed through the group. “We have to keep searching. The tracks keep …” He was cut off by a sharp, pain filled cry that travelled through the trees. The sound struck Fili like a dagger. His eyes widened and muscles stiffened like he had jumped into an icy lake. “Kili.” It was barely more than a whisper but the word made Thorin’s heart lurch, there was so much emotion in that one small word. He could see the panic in Fili’s eyes, the paralysing fear that stiffened his nephew’s body, the dread that made him tremble. Another cry came and the ice that had set in Fili’s muscles disappeared as he shot off into the dark screaming his brother’s name.
“Go! Quickly!” Thorin ordered.
They soon hit a small clearing they were met with the sight three more warg bodies that were sprawled out in the mud, already beginning to stench more of rot and death than they had before. They lay lifeless, blood pooling from sword wounds. Fili knew his brother could not be far away.
“Kili!” he yelled, looking about him desperately. “Kili! Brother call out if you can hear me!” The group fell silent and stood still to listen. No response came. The only sound was that of the woods around them, the hooting of a far off owl, the calls of nocturnal creatures and the wind rustling the leaves above them. Fili’s heart pounded so hard in his chest that he half expected it to crash through his ribs. He also found it a wonder that nobody could hear its hammering beats. “Kili!” Panic was setting in rapidly now, there was no way Kili was unharmed, the cries they had heard some minutes before was enough to confirm that. Then came a low moan. Fili’s head turned immediately to look in the direction of the sound. At first he saw only a warg, laying as lifeless as the rest of its pack. But there was something beside it, slumped against a tree. Something silver glinted in the moonlight. A sword. Kili’s sword. It could be nobody else’s. The next thing he knew he was running, faster than he could ever remember running before. Then his legs gave away and he fell to his knees beside Kili. Whose lower half was trapped under the dead warg’s body. “No.” He put a hand on the side of his brother’s face which was deathly pale and covered in blood and mud. “Kili?” He said softly, “Can you hear me?” Kili stirred, pain etched on his face. His eyes opened, but barely more than slits.
“Fee…” It pained him to speak and he soon broke out in violent coughs that felt like they were tearing at his throat. Fili could hear the other’s rushing towards him. He moved a strand of his brother’s dark, matted hair from his eyes and gripped his hand reassuringly, hopefully Kili wouldn’t be able to feel how his trembled.
“I am here little brother.” He soothed.
“My legs … trapped.” Kili tried to raise an arm to point, but failed and his arm fell back to his side. He winced.
“It’s alright, we’ll free them.” He looked up as his friends reached them. “Help me get this creature off him.” He ordered. It would take lots of strength to shift the warg. At first none of them moved, just stood frozen to the spot eyes fixated on the wounded Kili. “Help! Now!” At the sound of Fili’s voice, alive with panic and frustration they all moved forward and placed their hands on the warg’s still warm body.
“After three,” Thorin said. “One. Two. Three!” With groans they placed all their weight on the creature and managed to push it away. Kili let out a loud agonised scream as the pressure on his legs was taken away. Pain washed over him and he breathed with the deepest breaths that he could manage to try and relieve it. This was of no use as every inch of him throbbed with injury. He could feel his consciousness leaving him. Then Fili was beside him, cupping his face gently.
“Kili.” The sound of his voice calmed him as the darkness rose up around him. “Stay awake. Do not close your eyes.” But Kili could not help it, he was so tired and the pain was more than his weak body could cope with. His posture slackened as he slipped into unconsciousness. “No.” Fili shook him, “Please Kili.”
“Let me see him.” Oin pushed forward to kneel beside Kili, trying to hide the look of horror on his face; Fili was in enough distress as it was. He reached and placed two fingers on the side of Kili’s throat and then held his hand just above his slack mouth. Fili looked at him desperately. “He is alive.” Fili sighed with relief, “But we need to take him to camp if I am to help him.” Dwalin moved forward now and bent down, ready to take Kili in his strong arms.
“No you cannot move him!” Fili cried pushing Dwalin away, “you’ll cause him more pain!”
“We have to laddie,” Balin said softly, “All our supplies are back in camp and we can’t help here.”
“And we can’t split up again, it is better if we stayed together.” Fili’s eyes fell upon his uncle who was walking forward. He felt anger boiling in the pit of his stomach.
“You didn’t think of that before!” Fili spat. Thorin stared at him, brows knitting together. “When you sent Kili off into the woods by himself!”
“I know, and I am sorry.” Thorin approached Kili, “Let us just take…”
“You do not touch him!” Fili roared at Thorin. His teeth were bared like a wild animal as he held his younger sibling protectively.
“He is my nephew. I want to help him.”
“And he is my brother. You do not touch him! We will take him back to camp but you are not to touch him. Dwalin carries him not you.” Fili looked venomously at Thorin, “Do you understand me?” Thorin’s posture slumped, never had he seen his nephew so full of rage nor had he ever heard him speak with such a tone as this. Feeling defeat and not wanting to anger Fili any further he backed away a little.
“Very well. Dwalin, take him. Be gentle.”
“Do not pretend you care.” Fili said quietly but with as much animosity as before. Thorin turned away, pretending he had not heard. The other members of the company averted their gaze. Behind him Fili moved to allow Dwalin to scoop Kili carefully into his arms, he let Kili’s hand fall from his grip. Kili felt incredibly light in Dwalin’s hold, but he had always been smaller and slighter than most other dwarves. But with enough bravery for them all it would seem. At first Fili didn’t move, he remained knelt on the ground staring down at his hands, stained red with his brother’s blood, they began to shake. He felt a soft hand on his shoulder.
“Come on lad,” came Bofur’s gentle voice. Fili rose slowly to his feet and moved to follow Dwalin as he began to walk back through the forest, he didn’t even acknowledge his uncle as he passed him. His eyes were fixed on his brother’s limp body.
Chapter 6: Little Brother
Fili could not remember much their journey back to camp, it was a blur of colours and movement and sound. It was a wonder how, whilst he was trapped in his own world, he didn’t manage to walk into anything, though he was sure he could somewhat recall Gloin pulling him to the side mumbling something about a tree. He was roused from his dazed state by Bilbo upon their return. The hobbit offered a smile, Fili wanted to return it but didn’t have it in him, and instead he nodded weakly. His energy had so suddenly left him.
Once Dwalin had placed Kili gently down on a blanket that had been rolled out he and Balin helped Oin to remove his crimson stained tunic to reveal angry red wounds, seeping with blood and puss, on the left side of his torso. The deep lacerations curved around to create a pattern that resembled the shape of a warg’s jaws. It made them wince just to look upon, they could not comprehend the pain Kili must have been feeling. They all exchanged worried glances. Dwalin did not know as much about medicine as Oin, but he did know a bad wound when he saw one. The left side of Kili’s face was completely red with blood that covered his eye and matted his hair, his left forearm had three large scratches and his wrist was beginning to swell. Oin squeezed it gently, feeling the hardness of the flesh. The young dwarf whimpered slightly and began to tremble all over.
“I am sorry lad.” Oin said, not sure if his patient could even hear him. He let go of Kili’s arm and continued to look him over with gentle old hands, but each time he touched him, no matter how light the contact was, Kili would flinch.
“Is he going to be alright?” Oin froze and composed his worried features before turning to look at Fili who was stood above them, his eyes flicking between him and his brother. Thorin began to towards his nephews, thinking perhaps Fili’s earlier words were brash and spoken out of fear, but stopped as Fili shot him a warning glance. Once again he was being dared, you dare approach him, the look screamed. He didn’t want to add to Fili’s already sour mood, fury was already ablaze in his eyes like a fire, and instead lingered where he stood and watched on. Fili looked away from him, glad his uncle had got the message and knelt beside Kili. All the anger faded from his eyes, replaced by worry and sadness. Again he turned again to Oin who answered his earlier question.
“He is badly injured, his fight with the wargs has left him battered and wounded.” The old dwarf said with a sad shake of his head.
“What wounds? How bad is it?” At first Oin said nothing, just lowered his gaze. “Please tell me, do not keep me in the dark. How badly wounded is my brother?”
“He has been bitten by one of the beasts, it must have taken him in its jaws. The wounds from the teeth are deep, at the moment I cannot be sure he was lucky enough to have them miss his heart and lungs. I suspect he has broken ribs, hence these bruises. His left arm is broken also and his shoulder is dislocated. His ankle is sprained. He has angry scratches to his arm and a nasty head wound.” If Fili had not been already kneeling, he was sure his legs would have collapsed from beneath him.
“But you will be able to help him?”
“I will try but …”
“No! You must save him, Oin.” Fili pleaded, “I cannot … He cannot leave. Kili is …” As if he could hear name being spoken, Kili began to mumble quietly and sucked in rasped breaths. Fili knelt beside him and gripped his right hand – remembering that his left arm was broken. He ran his thumb over the back of Kili’s shaking hand to try and bring him comfort. “Kili? Can you hear me?” He spoke with a soft, soothing voice. Kili’s eyes opened slightly and looked wearily about him.
“Wargs.” He croaked, “Where did …”
“They’re gone. Because of you brother.” Fili forced a smile, tears beginning to fill his eyes. He blinked them away quickly. “You did well, you fought very bravely.”
“I … couldn’t let them … get you.”
“And they didn’t. We are all safe thanks to you.” Kili smiled weakly, happy that his brother and everyone else were alright. He took a deep breath, which pained him. His body tensed. He felt Fili squeeze his hand. “It’s alright.” He reassured, “You are going to be alright. Don’t worry.” But Kili wasn’t so sure. He could not remember a time in his life where he felt so agonised and weak and vulnerable. He could almost feel death upon him, trying to grab him with icy fingers.
“Don’t leave me … Fili.” If death was going to come and claim him, he wanted to be held warmly and comfortable in his older brother’s arms. “When it gets … dark.” He shivered. “And cold.” Fili felt like someone had put their hands into his chest and were squeezing at his heart. Kili thought he was going to die. This time Fili didn’t try to blink the tears away and they began to roll slowly down his cheeks. He never wanted to appear weak in front of his friends. He was Thorin’s heir, he was supposed to be strong and brave. But none of that mattered. All he cared about was Kili, his little brother, injured and afraid. He was not prepared to give up on him.
“I will always be by your side. I promise I will never leave it.” He choked back a quiet sob, “We have always been by each other’s side, and will always be because you are going to live. I am not going to let you go. Of this whole journey, this stupid journey, you are all that matters to me.” Fili said, tears falling down his cheeks. Of course he didn’t think the quest was stupid but right now it didn’t matter. “Nothing else is as important to me as you, little brother.” He rested his forehead atop Kili’s and gripped his brother’s hand tighter as though he was clinging onto Kili’s life for him, “I cannot imagine my life without you beside me, I would be nothing without you.” Fili had known that there would be many dangers for them to face on this journey but not even in his worst nightmares had he ever thought of losing Kili, because the very idea of living the rest of his life without his brother beside him seemed impossible. Life with Kili’s constant presence was all he knew, all he wanted to know. Not to have his little brother would make his days cold and lonely. Everyone, even Bilbo who had known the pair for the shortest time, knew how strong the brother’s bond was. Stronger than most other siblings. Where some siblings liked time apart, Fili and Kili felt uncomfortable when the other wasn’t beside them, even for the shortest time. They stuck together like a shadow stuck an object in the sun. The company knew that if Kili was to die, Fili would be forever lost and never the same. They would lose him too, not in body, but in spirit. “I don’t want you to leave me Kee.” He sniffed back more tears, trying to look brave for his brother. When the truth was quite the opposite, he was in fact very, very scared. Kili pulled in a raspy breath and tried to clutch his brother’s hand back with as much energy as he could muster. Which wasn’t much.
“I don’t … want … to leave you either.” Fili wrapped and arm around his little brother and pulled him closer. Kili rested his head upon his chest, feeling it rise and fall warmly. “I’ll try,” he mumbled softly, “to stay.”
Chapter 7: I’ll Never Let You Fall
“Come on Fili!” Little Kili shouted happily, beaming a great smile. He waved his big brother over to where he stood, up to his ankles in fresh white snow. Kili loved snow. He loved the way it looked, the way it glistened. He loved the sound it made as he walked on it. When he had seen it begin to fall the night before he made Fili promise to take him out to play in it once the sun had risen and they had eaten breakfast. Their mother never let them go anywhere until they had eaten every scrap.
“You ran really fast today, little brother.” Fili said, coming to stand beside him. “You beat me!” Of course Fili could have overtaken his little brother at any time, but he hung back let Kili beat him. He rested his hands on his knees and pretended to be out of breath. This made Kili smile broadly.
“I wanted to get to the lake. I remember Uncle Thorin saying that one time, when it snowed, the whole lake froze, and you could stand on it!” Fili smiled at his brother’s excitement. Kili turned to look at the lake. “Do you think we could stand on it?” He walked forward and extended a leg to step onto the ice. Fili pulled him back.
“Let me go first. Just to make sure.” He put his right foot onto the ice and pressed down. There was no sounds of it cracking. It felt as hard as stone. Then he stepped on with his other foot. Kili watched him intently from the bank.
“Is it safe?” Fili jumped a little. Nothing. Then he jumped a little higher, landing a little harder. Still the ice didn’t crack. He jumped again and this only resulted on the young boy slipping and falling onto his backside. From the bank Kili exploded into a fit of laughter, hands gripping at his stomach and tears in his eyes. He struggled to keep himself standing upright. Suddenly he was hit on the shoulder with a snowball.
“Come on then Kili,” Fili said, slowly getting back to his feet. “Let’s see how long you can last before you fall over.”
“Fine.” Then Kili proceeded to run onto the ice, feet slipping and sliding underneath him, but he managed to keep his footing as he slid away, giggling joyfully. The ice was fun. Maybe he liked ice more than he liked snow. “Come and catch me Fili!” He looked over his shoulder to see Fili sliding along behind him.
The brothers seemed to spend hours chasing one another, gliding, sliding and falling, across the ice. Fili was sure they were late for lunch. He wanted the snow to stay for longer than one season, that way he and Kili could come to the lake whenever they pleased, they’d make up new games and learn not to fall down as much. He didn’t know when the last time he had so much fun was. But he knew when the fun had stopped. Kili had skated further into the middle of the lake, uncle Thorin had told them to be weary of the centre because the ice could be thinner, and couldn’t seem to stop. Fili watched as he slid further and further away. Then he heard the ice crack and shudder around his brother’s feet.
“Fili!” Kili called as he finally managed to skid to a halt. “The ice. It’s making funny noises.”
“It’ too thin there! You have to come back.” Kili nodded but when he tried to move the ice made another snapping sound and long cracks began to form around him. He began to tremble. He was scared. He looked towards Fili who had begun to edge towards him, taking careful sideways steps. “It’s going to be alright.” He thought for a moment, he knew that he had to get his brother away from the breaking ice. The water beneath would be freezing cold and Kili hadn’t learnt to swim yet. “Kili. Throw your scarf to me.” Kili frowned.
“But mama said not to take off or I’ll get sick.”
“I won’t tell her. It’ll be our secret.” Fili smiled. Kili’s hands went to his neck and he began to unravel the blue knitted fabric. The wool was thick and warm and his exposed skin felt cold the moment he took it off. “Good, now throw it to me.” Kili tossed it to his brother, the movement caused the ice to shudder. Kili squealed.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to make a rope.” Fili said taking his own scarf – it was exactly the same as Kili’s. Kili had wanted to have a scarf that matched his brother’s. Fili tied the scarfs together with a tight knot that Dwalin had shown him. “I’m going to throw it back and you must hold on very tight, don’t let go. And I’ll pull you away from the thin ice. Okay?” Kili nodded. Fili threw the scarf back and Kili caught it then held it close to his chest. “After three I’ll pull. Are you holding tight?” Kili gulped and nodded. “One. Two.” He closed his eyes tightly. “Three.” Then he felt himself yanked forward, the ice cracked loudly behind him. The cold air hit him like his mother’s sowing needles and he fell. Then he hit Fili, collapsed into his chest and felt arms wrap around his shoulder. “Are you okay?” He nodded, feeling the softness of Fili’s warm winter coat.
“I was scared. I thought I was going to fall into the water.” He whimpered. “But you caught me.”
“Of course I did.” Fili smiled, clutching his trembling brother closer, “I’m your big brother. I’ll never let you fall.”
Fili was roused from his memories once again by Bilbo who once more offered him a smile. This time he offered a bowl of soup too. Warm steam emanated from it and it smelt good and homely. Potatoes and rabbit. Just as Bombur had planned.
“I am not hungry.” He said, trying to ignore its tempting scent. He didn’t feel much like eating. Kili was still asleep. Oin had washed away the dried blood and bathed and bound his wounds. His broken arm had been set and splinted and his shoulder fixed. Both these actions had caused the young dwarf to howl out in agony, back arching and head falling back. As much as he tried, Fili couldn’t make his brother’s cries cease. He could feel Kili’s pain in his heart and it tore at his soul. Oin had done as much as he was able, he used up many of his medical herbs to make ointment but all they could do now was sit and wait. And hope that it was enough, or that Gandalf would return and use his magic to heal Kili. Fili now watched his brother’s chest rise and fall slowly with ragged breaths, glad that his brother had drifted off into a peaceful and hopefully painless sleep.
“You must be hungry. You haven’t ate since this morning.” Bilbo tried to hand the soup to him, but Fili turned his head away. “It’s very good. Bombur did a wonderful job. Ori helped too, as did Balin and …”
“Master hobbit.” Fili said firmly. “I have already said that I am not hungry, you telling me stories about how the food was made will not change that.”
“Very well.” Said Bilbo quietly, “I will just leave it here.” He placed the bowl on the ground and began to walk away. He stopped. “But you should eat, whether you are hungry or not. You should keep up your energy, if not for yourself then for Kili.” He looked at the dwarf, who said nothing in reply just glanced at the meal. With a sigh he pulled the bowl close to him. It was warm in his hold. Bilbo smiled, a smile of accomplishment – he managed to get Fili to take the soup- and also of sadness. He continued walking, leaving the brother’s alone again.