"Save them! They did not deserve their fate!"
"The line of Durin was not meant to die! Save them!"
Bilbo Baggins woke with a start and groaned as he opened his eyes. For some reason, he was lying partly on his side and partly into the face down into the ground. Rubbing his head, Bilbo pushed his chest off the ground and propped himself up on his elbows as he looked around. He was in a forest, that much was obvious with the trees all around him. But it wasn't the Old Forest next to Buckland, knowing what it looked like due to venturing there once on a dare. Never again!
Pushing himself up so he could tuck his legs under him, Bilbo immediately knew that there was something different with his legs. Looking down, Bilbo first noticed that his chest was a lot hairier than normal. The small triangle patch that had once fit between his nipples and mid-way down his ribcage had spread to engulf his nipples and down to the bottom of his ribcage. But that is when things got really different.
Bilbo didn't see the normal flesh with fuzzy curled top feet. Instead he saw long and nimble but powerful golden-brown legs with cloven hoofs and two smaller dewclaws a little bit above the hoofs. Eyes trailing his new legs, which ran all the way up to his hips before changing into the normal flesh he was used to seeing, before looking back further along the barrel and down the hind legs of his new… add-ons/body.
Bilbo wasn't sure how or why, but he now a Guardiano dei Cervi, a Guardian Deer in his native hobbit tounge. Truly a 'Halfling', half-deer, half-hobbit… That term was so insulting, he was half of nothing! It was the rest of the people in Middle-Earth that were so freakishly tall! Except the dwarves.
"Right." Bilbo huffed in frustration.
He had no idea how he got here, -wherever here was- or how his legs somehow became that of a deer. Especially since the last thing he recalled was… nothing. He couldn't remember what it was he had been doing before he woke up in the middle of the forest! Wait… he could remember the voice of two people, a man and a woman, pleading with him…
Right. Save the line of Durin from their fate, which apparently was dying before their appropriate time. Bilbo had no idea who or what a 'Durin' was, and then his mind was filled with images of four, no five people… dwarves. The first had golden hair and a beard that flowed to the bottom of his ribcage, Víli. The second was another golden haired dwarf, except his beard was a lot shorter and his mustache was braided on either side of his mouth, Fíli.
The third one had dark hair and stubble for a beard, with brown eyes that glistened mischievously, Kíli. The fourth had raven black hair and piercing sapphire blue eyes that seemed to go right through Bilbo's heart and soul, Thorin Oakenshield. The fifth and final dwarf was female, her black beard was very fine in her own right, (but it wasn't a full facial beard like the male dwarves), and her eyes were a shade lighter than her brother's, Dís.
While he didn't know their back-stories or anything like that, Bilbo did know that he had a job to do. Find them, and save them from dying. But he wouldn't be able to find them, much less save them from dying, if he couldn't figure out how to walk. So let's try standing up, shall we?
Do deer stand with their front legs first, or their back legs?
A few months had passed, and Bilbo had settled into a routine, after he'd figured out how to stand, walk, run, and avoid getting his antlers from getting caught on tree branches. Yes, he had antlers… and deer ears instead of hobbit ones! Find food, drink, and wood, take back to the thicket bed or cave, eat, sleep, and repeat in no particular order. A few times a caravan had come by, but Bilbo remained hidden. He didn't want to accidentally be mistaken for a real deer and killed for dinner.
In fact, today was the first time that he purposely watched one from the thicket. The first time the group of dwarves had gone by, he had almost been discovered by them as they traveled southward. After the group had passed by, Bilbo had begun to have dreams of them… or recalled memories of them while he was asleep. So they were Dreameries? Memoreams? Dreams of memories… was there an official word for that?
It was a group of dwarves, about a couple dozen or so. There were two wagons carrying food and other items, with most of the dwarves riding ponies or walking. Some of the dwarves Bilbo recognized once he saw them. The tattooed bald one with the twin axes strapped to his back and giant war hammer in hand was Dwalin, the one with the long black and white beard and unique sword-mace was Balin, the one with the funny hat and mattock was Bofur, the one with the axe in his head and boar spear in his hand was Bifur, and the one leading the procession with raven black hair, sapphire blue eyes, dark blue sleeveless coat lined with warg fur, and a petrified branch of oak tree larger than his forearm… was Thorin Oakenshield.
In the wagon directly behind him was a golden haired male dwarf with a small golden haired dwarf in his lap, and next to him was a dwarf woman who had the same black hair and many facial features as Thorin. In her arms was a bundle of blankets that had a pair of tiny arms waving about. If Bilbo could see the babe, he knew it would be Kíli. The dwarf woman was his mother and Thorin's younger sister, Dís, and her firstborn son, Fíli, was sitting in the lap of his father, Víli.
Bilbo recalled the nighttime memories that had flooded his mind for several days after he had seen the royal line of Durin for the first time. That was how Bilbo knew that he had never before met Dís; she had died the winter immediately following a quest of some sort, somehow knowing that her brother and sons had died in a battle before she had even received a message. He'd never met Víli either, the dwarf having died in a skirmish with orcs shortly after Kíli's birth. Kíli had almost died during that same attack as well.
"Sho gad adol! (Drink their blood!)"
Bilbo cringed at the sound of the tongue known as the Black Speech, having no good memories of when he had ever heard that tongue. He knew that there would be something seriously wrong with him if he did. The orcs -by the Valar, they were uglier than he remembered- burst out of the forest on the other side of the path, making Bilbo realize how fortunate he was to have not been spotted by them as he traveled earlier that day.
"Du bekàr! (To arms!)" Thorin called to his kin, who immediately answered with the sounds of battle cries and weapons being drawn. "Du bekàr! (To arms!)"
Despite not being in the battle and hidden in the forest, Bilbo felt adrenaline rush threw him as he watched. The wagon drivers urged the ponies forward as fast as they could while the remaining dwarves did battle with the orcs. Thankfully, there were no wargs. Thorin battled with a grace and skill that was rarely seen by any, almost as if he was dancing, and Bilbo couldn't tear his eyes away until Dís screamed.
Head turning so quickly he nearly gave himself whiplash, Bilbo watched in horror as a second wave of orcs attacked the wagons, which were attempting to cross a bridge over a river. Fíli had been pushed under a basket of wheat by his father, who now had twin blades that had belonged to Fíli later in his life in his hands to defend his family. Dís had tucked Kíli into another basket of food next to Fíli, and was now hacking off the head of orcs with an ax by her husband's side.
Bilbo froze as time seemed to slow down around him. An orc leapt off of a rock with his sword above his head. Víli turned at the wrong time and was unable to get his swords up in time to block. Then the orc was pulled back to the rock, and Víli still lived. Bilbo panted as he watched the orc climb to the top of the rock and ready his sword. In an instant, Bilbo knew he had to get between the orc and Víli. Dís' husband would die if he didn't.
Bilbo's legs churned, his hand closed around the hilt of a short sword of a fallen dwarf, and he was bounding over the bridge posts. The orc leapt at Víli, who turned as he pulled his swords out of the orc he had just killed, and realized that he wasn't going to survive. Dís turned her head in time to see the orc coming down on her husband. None of them saw the deer.
Bilbo sailed over Víli's head as he brought the sword in his hand down in a diagonal slash across the orc's face and chest. There was a gurgle as the orc dropped dead and Bilbo landed on his feet. Panting, Bilbo turned to see if Víli was alright, and blushed as he realized that all of the dwarves, (and the orcs), were all staring at him with their jaws dropped. His deer ears went back against his skull, not really pleased with the sudden attention, though he honestly should have seen it coming.
"What?" Bilbo mumbled.
The word had everyone, dwarf and orcs alike, springing back into the fight. Bilbo himself dodged several more orcs, stabbing each of them with the sword that he had in his hand. A baby's cry first had his ear swivel, and then his head as he realized that Kíli wasn't crying from the wagon. He was crying from the basket his mother had put him in that was now being carried down the river, the wagon having been overturned at some point.
The sword fell from the hobbit-deer's hands and he ran after the basket. He could hear Dís screaming behind him about Kíli. Thankfully there were no orcs in front of him as he ran. Eyes trained on the basket and on where he was running, Bilbo was so thankful that he knew about the hidden stepping stones under the surface of the water. Ahead of the basket carrying the dwarf, (how long had he been running?), Bilbo turned and leapt to the first stone, and carefully jumped to each new one, until he was right where he needed to be.
"Got you." Bilbo sighed as his arms scooped up the wet and crying dwarfling.
Kíli stared at him with the big brown eyes that he had inherited from his father. Bilbo knew it was nothing short of a miracle that Kíli hadn't fallen into the river when the wagon overturned. Steadying himself carefully, the flowing river ever dangerous even to someone with nimble feet like himself, Bilbo focused on the next stepping stone and leapt. A few more bounds and they were safe on dry land… Or so he had thought.
"Agh!" Bilbo yelled as his left back hip burst in pain.
Bilbo stumbled, hearing the orcs yelling as more arrows whizzed by. Damn, orc weapons were typically poisoned. He couldn't wait for the dwarves, be they Víli and Dís or Thorin, he simply was too exposed on the river bank with an orc arrow in his flank. With a glanced over his shoulder, Bilbo could see Thorin hacking down the orcs on the other side of the river bank, but the archers were on the other side of the group of 10. Their eyes met, golden hazel with sapphire blue. With his face twisting unhappily at the decision he had to make, Bilbo turned ran back into the forest as fast as he could, out of range of the orcs and their poisonous arrows. Which wasn't very fast, he was mostly hobbling and stumbling as he rushed away.
He needed to find some Kingsfoil, and fast.
"Did you see?"
"What was that thing?"
"It was intelligent, we all heard it speak."
"Just because something talks doesn't mean it's intelligent."
"Yeah, just look at the orcs… or Bofur."
Thorin was breathing heavily as he came back to the caravan. All eyes turned to him, but there were only three that he sought out. Dís' face twisted in sorrow when she saw that he didn't have her newborn son with him.
"He's not dead." Thorin told his sister. "The orcs wounded the… deer-thing with an arrow after he crossed the river on hidden stepping stones. He has Kíli."
"If I'm not mistaken…" Balin paused as his cousins looked to him. "That 'deer-thing' was one of the Ushmar Mukhas."
Thorin blinked. Everyone else paused as well. The Ushmar Mukhas, the Guardian Deer, were believed to have been legend. Child fairy tales of a creature who was half-deer and half-something else, that had helped Durin the Deathless shortly after his awakening in Mount Gundabad. The creature, called Ásmundr, had stayed by Durin's side for his entire life and died defending him as the War of Wrath was waged throughout Middle-Earth during the end of the First Age.
"Truly?" Thorin asked.
"Yes." Balin nodded. "I do believe that young Kíli will be in safe hands. Víli certainly was."
"Aye." Víli nodded as he held his wife and firstborn close. "I wouldn't be here if he hadn't tackled that orc that was coming at me."
Thorin shivered as he recalled the orc that had nearly killed his brother-in-law. All of them knew that Víli now owed the deer his life, and that Kíli did as well. Hopefully, the Ushmar Mukhas would bring the youngest of the line of Durin back, and soon. But until then, they would have to trust that he would do as his title suggested. That he would be little Kíli's guardian, and would keep the babe whole and healthy, until he returned.
"Ow, ow, ow!" Bilbo whimpered as he pressed the Kingsfoil to his wound a day later.
Bilbo had not pulled the arrowhead out, only snapped off most of the shaft, mainly out of fear of permanently damaging something if he did it wrong. He'd much rather have someone who knew what they were doing take it out. The only thing he could do right now was apply something to keep any potential poison and infection down to low levels. And also to not walk or run on his back left leg as much as possible.
A soft gurgle caught Bilbo's attention, and he turned his head to smile at the babe that was wrapped up in a dry blanket. The blanket that Dís had wrapped Kíli in while they traveled had been soaked, as well as his clothes and nappie. Bilbo had managed to get to his thicket shelter, used an old shirt he'd found at the bottom of a canyon to dry Kíli off, another for a new nappie, and a final one as a new blanket. He had also found a pair of saddle bags that he could use on himself to carry food or supplies, and one blanket that hadn't been totally ruined by the weather.
"Yes, I'm happy to see you too." Bilbo cooed.
The baby dwarf gurgled again. Bilbo knew that he needed to get the babe back to Ered Luin soon, simply because he couldn't provide the mother's milk that Kíli needed to survive. The winter snows were going to start in a month or two, but he didn't know how far it was to the home that the dwarves had made in the mountains. If it was too far, he would have to keep himself and Kíli fed throughout the winter, and that would be really difficult. His best bet would be to get to Ered Luin, and pronto.
The orc packs on the road would make it dangerous, but what choice did he have?
"Alright Kíli me-lad, time for a little adventure." Bilbo sighed.
Bilbo picked up the only blanket he had, made it into a sling, and placed Kíli inside, holding the baby close to him. Then Bilbo gingerly stood back up, wincing as he kept his back leg off of the ground and hobbled out of the thicket. Glancing around, and thankful that there were no orcs, Bilbo quickly made his way back to the road and followed it to the bridge. Still no orcs, thank Yavanna. With his ears swiveling all around to catch as much sound as he could, Bilbo entered the narrow gully on the other side of the bridge.
It was difficult traveling. He hadn't gotten very far past the bridge and already his hip was screaming at him to stop. But he couldn't. Bilbo panted, and felt sweat running down the sides of his face. Damn, the athelas wasn't working was well as he wanted… probably because he had the arrowhead still in his hip. But he couldn't stop. Thankfully, Kíli had fallen asleep and didn't have to witness his suffering.
And then the orcs screeched as they jumped at him from the cliff walls.
Okay, forget not running on his leg, this was an emergency. Of course, the pain practically made him stop before the adrenaline over rode the pain and he bolted. Thankfully, four legs were faster than two, even if one was injured, and he left them behind. But he still kept running, though slowed down his flat-out sprint, because Bilbo knew that he wouldn't be able to begin running again to the orcs caught up.
After 20 minutes, Bilbo stopped running and walked slowly, not willing to stop. Once he stopped, he wouldn't move again for hours, not even to be able to care for Kíli. And if Kíli started crying, they would be found by Morgoth's filth. He had to keep going, but he needed a steady rhythm, a song with a steady beat… and he knew just the song.
"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."
"Who goes there?"
Bilbo startled, his feet scrambling to carry him back from the gruff voice that his mind registered as Dwalin two seconds later. His eyes had been on the stone path as he walked, repeating his Walking Song over and over again to keep him moving. The sudden change of pace made him dizzy, his hind leg and hip protesting. He managed to keep his arms tight around Kíli, who was still sleeping, thank Mahal. Bilbo shook his head to throw off his dizziness, noting that the sun had gone down quite some time ago, and focused on Dwalin.
Dwalin was standing in front of a gate to the city that Longbeards had been driven to after the Battle of Azanulbizar, seeking shelter with the Broadbeams. The dwarves had named it Tumunzahar, meaning 'hollow-building', but it was more commonly known by the names the elves called it, Nogrod. Sadly, it was mostly ravaged by time and the elements, along with falling apart during the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age.
Dwalin raised the lantern he had in one hand, his axe called Ukhlat (Grasper) in the other. His jaw dropped in shock when he saw it was the deer creature, the Ushmar Mukhas, who had saved the life of Víli the other day. And the life of Kíli, if the bundle in his arms was anything to go by. While protocol stated that no strangers without permission from the royal family would be allowed entrance to their city, this was the one time that an exception would be made.
"Come." Dwalin instructed.
As he turned, Dwalin noticed that the Ushmar Mukhas had his left back leg off of the ground, and recalled Thorin saying that the orc had wounded the creature. As it hobbled after him, Dwalin took note of the red face that was covered with sweat, while the rest of him was shivering with cold. Stupid orcs, actually being intelligent enough to know what poisons did.
"Watch the gate." Dwalin instructed, knowing that the other guards would obey him unless they wanted to clean the stables for six months straight and no patrol.
Whispers followed as Dwalin led the Ushmar Mukhas threw the crumbling city. Many had heard the tale of the Guardian Deer protecting Prince Consort Víli, and then racing after newborn Prince Kíli after his basket had fallen into the river. It looked as if he had succeeded, but they didn't know if the bundle in his arms was alive or dead. Most likely alive, he wouldn't be clinging to the babe if he wasn't trying to keep him safe.
"Do ye have a name?" Dwalin asked suddenly, making the creature blink as the dwarf's words registered in his mind.
"Bilbo." Bilbo replied, hating how raspy his voice sounded because of his exhaustion and dehydration. "I'm Bilbo… at your service."
"Dwalin." Dwalin nodded. "At yours."
Bilbo panted heavily as he hobbled after the guard. With his adrenaline rush long gone, his whole body ached. He wasn't paying attention to is surroundings as he followed Dwalin, knowing that he was going to collapse after getting Kíli to his mother, father, or uncle. He just hoped that someone would know what the Athelas in his bags did. Thankfully, it didn't take too long to reach the largest building there, the gathering hall, where court was being held.
Dwalin knocked on the door four times before opening it. Thorin was surprised to see that it was his cousin and longtime friend, knowing that the dwarf was supposed to be at the main gate. Dwalin bowed as protocol stated, and Thorin nodded back, his eye catching someone else standing in the darkness outside.
"My king, the Ushmar Mukhas has returned with Prince Kíli." Dwalin stated.
Thorin found that he had run to the door the moment Dwalin had said "Ushmar Mukhas". Now that he was in the doorway, he found himself face to face with the half-deer half-something else, (too short for an elf or man and definitely not a dwarf), who was holding his squirming nephew in his arms. Bilbo had not noticed Thorin, he was a little busy trying to keep Kíli from wiggling out of his arms, but he most likely had a dirty nappie and was very hungry by this point… completely understandable.
Dís and Víli, who had been in the meeting with Thorin, appeared at his shoulders. It was then that Bilbo glanced up, and swallowed, trying to get rid of the dry throat he had. He wanted to bow, but knew that he'd end up in the dirt if he tried. Slowly hobbling forward, without saying a word, Bilbo offered Kíli back to his mother. Dís walked forward, and embraced her son to her chest while tears fell down her cheeks. Víli embraced his wife and son, tears also running down his face.
Bilbo smiled as he hopped back a step, but that was all he could manage. He had been awake since before the attack and hadn't eaten as much as he should have. The poison in his system had taken its toll, and he couldn't remain standing any longer. Legs collapsing, Bilbo fell to his right side as his eyes slid close, honestly not caring if they saw him as weak. The clamor of voices all around, and not one of them stood out, the words were just a mumbled soft-loud noise.
Calloused hands gently picked his head out of the dirt and placed it in the lap of the owner. Bilbo moaned softly as he felt hands looking at the wound on his hip, others removing the saddle bags from his back. He could hear a dwarf speaking in a gruff voice, and even though he couldn't make out the words, that tone was all Óin, most likely barking orders. Hands moved under his body and lifted him, supporting and carrying him to where Óin was directing them.
The table was solid and rough, but cushioning wasn't common in Ered Luin. Ropes tied down the barrel of his deer half, and more secured his legs so he wouldn't accidentally kick someone. Bilbo immediately knew when the shaft was touched. His nerve endings were on fire! Whimpers fell from his mouth as his legs tried to lash out. His chest started to get off of the table before a pair of arms wrapped around him and gently but firmly held him down.
The pain that was coming from his hip was too much, too much pain, too much movement, too much everything! With a cry of pain, Bilbo shuddered, and fell comatose to the world around him.
Guardiano dei Cervi = I'm having the hobbits have their own language, and it's Italian. The translation is: Guardian Deer. Got it off Google Translate, so anyone fluent in Italian, correct me if I'm wrong.
Sho gad adol! = Orkish for: Drink their blood! I got this translation of what Azog said during the cliff top confrontation online somewhere, (not sure where), so please correct me if I'm wrong.
Du bekàr! = Khuzdul for: To arms! This is the only one I know is right.
Tumunzahar = Khuzdul for: Hollow-Building/House. Tumunzahar is more commonly known by its Sindarin name, Nogrod, which means: hollow-bold, 'bold' being an Old English word that means house/home.
EDIT!: We know that Thorin and his kin were driven to the Blue Mountains to settle after Erebor and Anzanubizar, and that they mostly settled in Tumunzahar/Belegost, where Thorin built Thorin's Halls atop of the old ruins of the city, (according to the LOTR Wikia).
Ukhlat = Khuzdul for: Grasper, one of Dwalin's axes. Dwalin's other axe is called Umraz, which means: Keeper. Got the translations off of the Dwarrow Scholar's dictionaries, so I hope it's right.
Bilbo's deer breed is based off of a Roe deer, a deer native to Europe.
- They averagely stand at 2-2.5 feet tall at the top of the shoulders, and 3-4.5 feet chest to tail, the tail adding an additional 2-3 centimeters, (very sort and hardly visible).
- Their fur is golden red in summer, darkening to gray-brown or even black in winter, with lighter undersides and a white rump patch.
- Their first sets of antlers are 2-4 inches long with 2 points, (1 point on each antler) and later sets are 8-10 inches, with 6 or the rare 8 points (3 or 4 points on each antler). Antlers are shed in November and immediately begin to re-grow them, unlike most deer breeds.
- Average lifespan in 10 years. Sad.
But Bilbo does have some differences from a Roe Deer.
- While his height and lengths are the same as a Roe Deer's, (the 2 feet tall Roe Deer's shoulder height at the start of his hobbit waist, keeping his total height at 4 feet 2 inches like in the movies, not counting his antlers), his tail is longer at 4 inches long.
- His fur is more golden-light brown then golden-red to match his hair color, but his hair and fur do darken to a light brown-grey with hints of gold during the winter.
- His antlers currently are that of a 2 year old Roe Deer. They shed in March instead of November, and his new velvet covered antlers re-grow to the size they are going to be that year almost instantly. Leave him be for a day or two, it causes as massive headache.
- Bilbo will have an extended lifespan. He is 40 years old now, and will live to be around 200 years old, twice as long as the normal hobbit average.
- His deer side gets nutrition the way that the Andalite race from the Animorph book series does, by drawing in nutrition from the ground he walks on with his hooves. This is a controlled trait, so Bilbo consciously chooses when he gets nutrition and when he doesn't. No chewing on any cud, or anything like it.
I'd recommend going to this website to see what the antlers of a Roe Deer look like, and what ages a Roe Deer is when their antlers are at a certain stage. Remember, Bilbo's antlers are currently that of a 2 year old Roe Deer.
And the answer to Bilbo's question: Do deer stand with their front legs first, or their back legs? Based on what I can find, they're like a cow and stand with their back legs first. Or that's how the newborn's do it, I'm not sure about adults.
On another note, arrow wounds are very serious. Do not pull an arrow out the way it went in, like what happened in Shrek, you will cause more damage and most likely bleed to death. Most of the information I could find on removal was to go to the doctor or push the arrow out the other side, depending on the location the arrow was shot into. I'd recommend the doctor.