It was some time before the caravans from Ered Luin carried any others but workmen and warriors. It was to be expected, of course: the warriors came for the first news to Ered Luin sent from Erebor had painted a shaky picture as to what the situation was, and then secondly the workmen had set off to help restore the mountain and make it habitable.
But this meant there was a massive problem for the company and there was nothing that could be done about it. Nothing that could save them. They were doomed to their fate.
It was utter carnage: the battles were bloody. They fought dirty and as they did so shed themselves of all honour. Nori was very good at it.
It was every dwarf (or hobbit) for himself. Because nobody, nobody, wanted to be the one that was caught: that spelled the end, because once he caught you there was no escaping.
Gloin could prattle on about his son for forever, and his wife for forever and a day.
He could and he would.
Doomed to be bored to the death by the - oh, at least the two hundredth recount of how Gloin and his wife first met, that time when young Gimli almost took down a training partner near twice his age, and a thousand and one other things on the list of stories one only need hear once.
Every evening the free members of the company would gather to pray to Aule their maker to thank him for getting them through another day, to ask him to watch over those who had been less fortunate than they, and to for valars sake, do some making and make it stop! They begged for the quick arrival of caravans made up of the women folk and their children, for they knew that they were the company's last hope, the light at the end of the long dark tunnel.
If they could just hold out until his wife and child arrived...because if they were here then Gloin would surely place his focus on them themselves instead of on educating every unfortunate soul about them.
"Thorin-" Balin choked on his words, tears in his eyes.
The dwarven King placed a solemn hand on the old dwarf's shoulder and looked up to survey his company. "They will come. We will make it through this."
"I can't take anymore of this!" Nori cried.
"Aye," Dwalin agreed. "This feels like it's been going on for years."
"If only Bill were here..." Bofur moaned morosely.
There was a pause.
Bilbo sent a glare at Ori as Bofur let out a distressed wail, collapsing into the hobbit's chest and beginning to sob loudly.
"Bill-" The hobbit began to explain as he patted the dwarf gently on the back, only to be interrupted by a howl. "-was his hat."
There was an exchange of glances.
"Hmph." Thorin turned away. "A few days more, that's all it should be."
"It better," Dwalin growled. "The bowman came a-calling this morning, said the messenger he sent up to the mountain three days past hadn't returned. We found 'im hiding in one of the mine shafts east-side."
"Who else could drive someone down a mineshaft? Of course it was Gloin!"
"Poor soul." Balin shook his head sadly. There was a murmur of agreement.
The causalities were mounting up. The caravans could not come soon enough.
The days to come were harsh and unforgiving and it was all the company could do just to make it through. Most people tried to avoid leaving the safety of their rooms and the main passages were abandoned. There were no more visitors from Dale - they had learnt to keep away, but several good dwarves fell victim to the terror that was Gloin. A few, like the aforementioned messenger of Dale, made lucky escapes and were discovered in various corners of the mountain, each requiring a large amount of coaxing to be persuaded to leave their hiding places. Others ended up with Oin in the medical rooms.
It was not confirmed if anyone actually died from prolonged Gloin exposure (no bodies were discovered, at least), but it was rumored that the red-head had in fact killed five out of a group of six dwarves, the sixth only surviving by gnawing one of his own legs off. (Though as a one legged dwarf had not been seen hopping around the mountain halls, the more educated of society deemed this to probably be untrue. They did, however, agree that prolonged Gloin exposure was an extremely dangerous thing, and were not above joining the common folk in making purchases from the budding market that sold, amongst other things: Gloin exposure cream, ear plugs and a variety of supposedly Gloin-repelling talismans.)
When the runner finally came announcing the approach of the long-awaited women folk it was said that the King under the Mountain actually wept (again, not confirmed, but the runner was made a noble and there was word of a statue...) Then the mountain seemed to wake, and hope rekindled the good people of Erebor began to emerge from their refuges to whisper in excited tones.
The next morning the carts could be seen from the high gate.
"'Tis a good day this, brother," Fili announced as Gloin hurried off. "A good day indeed."
"Aye, worthy of a good drink, I'd say." Kili nodded.
"Here, here!" The company agreed noisily as Thorin got to his feet.
"My friends," He looked around at them all. "We have victory!"
Dori of the brothers Ri was having a very fine day, a very fine day indeed. Then, ask anyone on this particular day and they would say the same. Ganli, daughter of Dimli (but most importantly in this case, wife of Gloin) was arriving at Erebor, with Gimli, son of Gloin in tow.
He was humming to himself, thoroughly enjoying once again being able to walk the halls with Ori without fear. It was quiet, but not in a lifeless sort of way. There was peace.
Someone was screaming in his peace.
Ori sent a questioning look in the direction it had come. Dori frowned a disapproving frown and walked on.
Five minutes later there had been no more disturbances and he no longer frowned – until he rounded one particular corner, that was.
"What the devil is going on here!?" He barked.
"Dori!" His eldest brother (he should have guessed) exclaimed on seeing him, though his attention was quickly recaptured by the large dwarf he was supporting, who tugged on his sleeve.
"Leave me here, it's too late for me. You must go!" Dwalin urged him.
"No!" Nori shook his head in disbelief. "I won't leave you here!"
"You must! Save yourself!"
Nori considered this for a moment.
"Okay." He let go and Dwalin fell to the floor, where he lay, groaning.
"Ori! Dori! Pack your bags, we're leaving!"
Bilbo chose that moment to poke his head around a corner, closely followed by Balin.
"Where are we going?" The hobbit asked, confused, as Balin gave Dwalin a kick. "Get up, brother!"
"Away! Far away! The Shire, the Blue Mountains, somewhere where they can't find us!" Nori near snapped as he herded Ori and an extremely flustered Dori down the hall. He turned to look them in the eye grimly.
"We're going back again."
Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror yada yada yada, was another one of those people having a very fine day, and he could not help a small smile when he caught sight of the reason.
"Gloin!" He made his way over. Shocking sociable of him, he knew. He'd have to brood for an hour or two later to regain some of his status.
"Thorin!" Gloin greeting him happily. "Good day!-" Quite. "-I believe I mentioned my wife would be arriving - this is Ganli."
An imposing dwarrowdam to be sure, with an even redder and more plentiful head of hair than Gloin.
The king gave a little bow and received one in return.
"It is a pleasure to finally meet you." He said, feeling especially well-mannered. "I have heard a lot."
"Have you?" Gloin blushed under his wife's stare.
"Indeed, and of young Gimli." So much. The King suppressed a shudder.
Ganli sent Gloin an amused look.
"Did you tell him of Gimli's first hunting trip?"
"Indeed I did, my dear." Gloin admitted. "Though not as well as you could have done, I'm sure."
"Ganli is a fantastic story teller." Gloin informed Thorin, ignoring his wife's polite denial. He gave her a fond look. "I myself can never remember so many of the details to go into a tale, luckily I have her here now to remind me-"
Thorin stood glued to the spot, a niggling sense of horror growing within him.
"-Or better yet, tell the tale herself! Would you, my dear? I have missed your stories so."
"I suppose I shall have to then." The dwarrowdam was all too happy to agree. No no no. "Tell me, Mr Oakenshield, did my husband tell you about the time..."