Forge of Origins:
The Legacy of Our Fathers
All That Glitters
Quite frankly, though, this wasn't exactly what he'd had in mind.
"Thorin! What heaven's name do you think you're doing?"
Bilbo found himself scrambling over coins, his soles scrapping painfully as he slid down the treacherous footing on a handful of gemstones as he attempted to dance back out of reach. The dwarven king stood unmoving, arms crossed over his chest, holding his ground before the massive stone door and preventing Bilbo from simply darting out and leaving Thorin to this idiocy. His only concession to this ridiculous stand-off was ducking slightly as the hobbit, in a fit of frustration, scooped up a handful of coins and threw them at him. The small projectiles bounced harmlessly off his broad shoulders and arms with musical pings as the gold and silver pieces struck his armour.
Bilbo couldn't explain what in the name of all the West was going on.
"Relax, khufdûn," the infuriating dwarf rumbled, but showed no other signs of explaining, beyond his earlier, and equally baffling, statement that the Khebabel Azyungaz, was now to begin. This got him a second handful of loose coin thrown at him. Unfortunately, Bilbo was forced to concede, it was no more effective than the first.
The Great Hall of Thráin, now the Treasury of Erebor, was located deep in the mountain, far below the Great Chamber of Thrór the Mountain King.
Even after all these months, Bilbo wasn't certain he'd ever be able to get over the sheer scale of the dwarven kingdom. Not to put too fine a point on it - and it would be very ill-mannered of him indeed to insult his companions by pointing this out, he was sure - but when it came right down to it, dwarves were... not all that much taller than hobbits. They were broad; and they had muscles that Bilbo was privately certain Yavanna had never given to her softer children. They were louder, and angrier, and just noisier in general, Bilbo supposed, but not in actuality, much taller.
So why in the world did they feel the need to build such massive spaces?
For centuries, Erebor had stood as a mighty testament of dwarven craft and majesty. Its hallowed halls a citadel hewn from the ancient flesh of the Lonely Mountain, and over the years their on-going war with the orcs of Mount Gundabad had caused the khazad to create defensive measures like no others in Middle Earth. Attacking the mountain itself would be a laughable venture, if your opponent were not a firedrake, of course. And it was deep in the roots of that mountain, in what was once the most protected heart of the kingdom, Thorin, son of Thráin now lost himself to Gold Fever once more. At least, Bilbo could think of no other explanation for such bizarre behavior as inviting a loyal companion and friend down to examine the recently finished restorations to the deepest chambers, and then proceed to give every indication of trying to lock them up in it!
Bilbo halted, panting, twenty feet still between him and the immeasurably high door that was thankfully, still sitting slightly open; a sliver of torchlight visible through the narrow crack this left. That narrow sliver was all that was keeping Bilbo's heart from beating right out of his chest. From this distance, he could still hear the deep, rumbling chant coming from beyond this room. Various voices had taken it up throughout its progression, and Bilbo was a bit affronted to find that he could recognise Bofur's higher register amongst them. That chanting had been the first indication that something was unusual was happening.
The chanting had built up to a crescendo, deep voices seeming to come from the very mountain, were now joined by a single voice raised above the others in a complimentary counterpart. Bifur, he thought. This new song was solemn sounding, in a minor key that seemed to burrow its way into the listeners' mind and settle on the skin as vibration, bypassing the ears as being completely unnecessary. Bilbo shivered, not liking the feeling of enchantment that permeated the air. He would have described the sensation as if something inside of him, without so much as a by-your-leave, was stretching; a sort of pleasure-pain tingling as a space seemed to be forming where previously only he had existed.
Altogether, he found it highly disagreeable.
Still, Thorin stood, impassive and impassable, seeming to take no heed of his kin's voices echoing behind him. Slowly, the voices trailed off, the sounds of their performance still hanging in the air for long moments, echoes held and cradled by the mountain stone as if reluctant to end. It was perhaps for this reason, Bilbo didn't immediately realize the change, so focused had he been on the vibrations' effect on his senses.
When he finally focused again, it seemed as if the entire world slowed in an instant. The flickering torchlight from behind the door was diminishing, the orange glow growing dim, and at first he thought the hallway torches beyond had burned down. With a sick feeling in his belly, he realised the torches were fine, and he watched helplessly as that narrow sliver of outside light got smaller, and then disappeared, and the sound of the door hitting the lintel boomed solidly; undeniable.
Time became real again, and he could hear the soft slither of metal rods, seeming terribly loud in the huge cavernous vault, finding their home in cold stone as clever mechanisms sealed the door. What in the world is going on here?
Gilded. Aurulent. Opulent. Practically ludicrous, even; there were many, many words one could use to describe the Treasury of Erebor. Unfortunately, and utterly confoundingly, Bilbo could now add one more.