The carriage jostled them about, and he heard Bofur swear up ahead. It was a method of travel steeped in abundance, selected by their king for the sole purpose of making an impression, but Ori wished they could have just hiked down the mountain.
In this bouncing regal splendor, his knees clashed with Gloin, Gloin’s wife Garri, their son Gimli, and the company burglar. Gimli fidgeted uncomfortably with his formal jacket, taking care not to elbow anyone.
Peeking out the window, Ori saw the city State of Dale drawing steadily nearer. A line of Dwarven carriages stretched out before them, each pulled by a pair of white goats with great curly horns.
“Everything’s coming along nicely, eh?” Gloin commented. “Without a hitch, so far.”
Ori hummed. “I do hope it stays that way.”
When the procession of dwarves arrived, the sky was bright and grey. Gloin wiggled out the carriage door, holding it ajar as his fellow passengers hopped onto crunchy snow. Ori stretched, groaning as he legs regained life. Nori waved at him from up ahead, and he waved back. As folks unloaded they carried many dishes and bowls, all wrapped up, and at length larger groups found each other. It took them awhile to track down all the clusters of Bombur’s children, but once The Company was united they joined others in the milling trek up the road to a towering hall.
They were greeted at the door by Bard, King of Dale.
“Come in! Come in, my merry dwarves, and add your plates to the feasting tables… Ah! Thorin, son of Thrain, and Company. Please, join us.”
The hall was long, with crackling fires and endless tables. Many Men and Women meandered about, chatting and sipping light alcohol. Dwarves intermingled with them as they continued to stream in, and tables were laden with family dishes and decorative squash.
The Company was lead to the Head Table, as usual, though nobody sat yet. In the three years since Smaug’s death, Ori had become accustomed to the workings of all the formal dinners and political events that seemed to accompany life now. They were mind-numbingly dull at worst, and full of dancing at best.
The hall was filled with the din of voices, and though huge doors stood open to the snowy field outside, few opted to leave the warmth of the fires. The scribe felt a hand on his back, and turned to find Dori offering him mulled wine.
“You look quite well-dressed today,” his brother nodded in approval. “Purple has always suited you.”
“Thank you,” Ori smiled, accepting the cup. It was rather tall- intended for Elves and Humans- and he wrapped both his hands around it to warm them. “Do you know what people do at a harvest festival?”
“Well, ah- no.” Dori frowned thoughtfully, then cast about. “Bilbo would know though— Bilbo? Ah! Bilbo! Over here, lad.”
“You rang?” Bilbo waded towards them, looking like a tiny lion between his fluffy mane of curls and braids and that big fur coat.
“What can we expect at a harvest festival such as this?” Dori asked, and the hobbit’s face lit up.
“Food, I dare say! Music, games… We bobbed for apples in the Shire, though I don’t believe that would be practiced by folks in this climate.”
“I suppose we’re just waiting for the elves then,” Ori observed, craning his neck to see the front doors. “Oh, Mahal.”
Who should it be but King Thranduil, crowned in berries and autumn leaves. He laughed jovially as he made his way to the head table, red wine in one hand and patting everybody’s shoulder with the other.
“Yes, yes, hello, hello, hello my dears- Thorin’s Company, always a pleasure to see your faces. Mister Baggins, hello…” He drifted past, making his way to Thorin and nodding respectfully. “King Under the Mountain.”
Thorin nodded. “King of the Woodland Realm. Kind of you to join us.”
“The party does not begin until I arrive.”
Bard was making his way to the front of the hall as well, and Ori noticed the dozens of elves adding their plates to the tables and shaking hands with humans. Some even spoke with dwarves- a hard won advancement.
Mounting the steps to the Head Table, Bard gestured broadly. “Attention, everyone!” He called over the din, and the voices died down. “Thank you for coming! Today, we have gathered to celebrate three long years of cooperation amongst our peoples. By working together, we have seen great strides in the restoration of Erebor-”
Here, a hearty cheer rose. The low hollers of dwarves dominated, but all applauded, and Ori gave a shrill whistle.
“-And of Dale! Before we begin our feast, let us meet in the field and share… in good natured, friendly competition… a few light hearted games and events.”