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Shadows fall over Erebor

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Chapter 1
Fili was huddled in a dark corner of room that the dwarfs had taken to using as a central resting area. Much of Erebor remained untouched by Smaug, but most of the passages to those rooms were burdened with heavy rubble. This largish hall had been easy enough to clear and was close to a kitchen that was hastily made usable.

Fili took in a deep breath as he watched his fellow companions. Everyone of them, even Kili was playing with piles of booty taken from the royal treasury. The dwarfs that he had come to see as family had become more interested with gold than food or rest. The joy that he had felt reclaiming Erebor had faded mere hours later. The sight of the gold, all those jewels and precious metals had changed his uncle dramatically. Gone was the gruff but lovable man who was full of honor and dignity. Instead of one who would willingly sacrifice his own life for his companions, Thorin had become one overwhelmed with lust for gold. The change had been instantaneous and horrible. Yet, it seemed as though only Fili had noticed. The others continued on as normal, even heaping praise on Thorin and his decision to withhold loot from men and elves alike.

Only Bilbo, that gentle, amazing hobbit had shown any great displeasure with the decision. Bilbo had tried every argument that he could with Thorin. Not even Bilbo's displeasure seemed to move his Uncle. That is when it truly sunk into Fili just had "gold sick" Thorin had become.

Hours later, long past when the company should be resting, they all remained awake admiring their fortunes. The poor, confused hobbit was resting in the corner beside him. He was absolutely worn out from the encounter with the dragon. Fili sat next to him. Earlier he had made a half hearted attempt to comfort Bilbo, but it had failed. Fili knew that it was his own lack of conviction that made his words fall flat.

Fili rubbed his eyes and thought about attempting some sleep when he felt a plop next to him. He didn't need to look to know it was Kili.

"Brother, why so glum? We are rich beyond our wildest dreams! Erebor is ours once more and Thorin is a king! You should be celebrating." He threw his arm around Fili's shoulders.

Fili opened his eyes. "I am happy for our good fortune. However, everyone has seemed to forgotten that we are surrounded by enemies. We have betrayed our word given in honor to the humans. If our word means nothing, then so does this gold."

Kili blinked a couple of times. "Not that they did a fat lot. Its' we who suffered all this time. We've been wounded, poisoned, trapped, jailed and tortured. This gold is our birthright."

Fili let out a deep breath and turned to face his brother. He whispered harshly, "Have you already forgotten that their homes now lie burning, beyond repair? Bard shot the final blow. What do they have to show for their suffering now? We have no honor if we cannot help them face what our own kin suffered those long years ago. If we do not help, give them the coins they need to rebuild, we are as worse as Thranduil and his damn elves."

Kili's eyes grew wide. He sat the golden goblet down that he'd been holding. He said nothing, but Fili knew he was reaching his brother and pressed on. "You don't remember what it was like to go hungry. Watch others around you die as they were exposed to the harsh elements. I was little, but I will never forget. Our exile killed as many as that damned dragon did. It is a fate I would not wish on anyone, even elves. Hunger, illness, cold is not something that can be fought with a blade or arrow. Letting women and children die because we could not be parted with some coins is the height of dishonor and cowardice."

Fili silenced then and let his words sink into his brother's heart. He prayed to Mahal that Kili, his precious brother, would see the reason in this. For if he did not, if his entire family was against him, then his heart would go cold.

Kili rubbed his nose and then leaned against Fili. He picked the goblet up and stared at it for a few long seconds. Then he placed it back on the granite floor not caring that it toppled over.

Fili now continued. "All the gold, even the Arkenstone itself could never replace you Kili. If we don't honor our agreements and forge alliances, we will face the hoards of orcs and goblins alone. It is a battle that we will lose."

Kili's voice cracked. "I can't stand to lose you either Fili. You mean more to me than anything this world could offer."
Smiling, Fili drew his brother closer for a tight hug. After a few long moments, they released each other, but Kili continued to lean against his brother.

"What do we do?" Kili whispered. "The gold lust took hold of me. Yet its grip on Uncle is terrible. I can see it now."

Fili ruffled Kili's dark tangled locks. "I'm proud of you. No matter what anyone ever says or does, I will always be honored to be your brother."

"I do not like where you are headed. Why do I think you are planning something dangerous? That is my role."

"Because I am. It may not work and the dangers are great."

"We've faced an army of goblins, orcs, talking spiders, elves and a dragon together brother. Whatever you have planned I will be beside you." Kili declared forcefully and took a hold of his brother's hand.

Fili looked at his Uncle and friends to make absolutely certain none were watching the two. Satisfied, he pulled something out of his pocket that only Kili could see. It was barely a glimpse, but the light from the Arkenstone shone brightly. Fili fumbled immediately to tuck back deeply into his pant pockets.

"Fili!" Kili began and sat upright. Fili shushed him and pulled him back down.

"Be quiet. The others cannot know."

"But you found it!"

"Yes, but Uncle must not know."

Kili was confused and a little hurt. "Why? This is the sign of kingship, that our line was meant to rule Erebor."

"Because I mean to trade to Bard and his men for their cooperation."

Kili's eyes bugged out. "No!"

"I must. It is the only thing that will soothe their wounds. I will offer this in return for their assistance. With this one stone, this one rock they will be able to rebuild their homes, their families. It will also remove our honor-debt that they rightly hold over us."

Kili made to reach for the stone then shoved his right hand into his own leather coat. He took a couple of breaths. Fili waited his heart pounding, had he acted too soon after his own brother had cast of the gold sickness?

However, his faith was soon rewarded. "Uncle will have our hides. But you're right. It'll do the job."

Fili let out the breath he was holding. "Thank you little brother for seeing my point."

"Hmmph. I thought I was the crazy one, not you."

"This plan becomes crazier still. I intend to bribe the elves."

"Did you land on your head? Do you have some injury that I know naught of?" Kili demanded.

Fili managed a slight laugh. Now they caught the attention of Bofur and Bombur.

"Oi, laddies, come join us. We have some amazing rubies and garnets you must see." Bofur gave them one of his warmest smiles.

Fili made to stand and Kili, still very confused, stood with him.

"No thanks. Kili and I were wondering about sapphires. We want some to make hair beads out of them."

Thorin tore his gaze away from the glittering piles. "Just be sure to mark how many you take and their quality. No one will have more than their share." He grumbled.

"Of course not Uncle. We will render a faithful accounting." With that reply, Fili left the room to head for the treasury. Kili was right at his heels.

Once there and certain they were alone, Kili finally exploded.

"What in Mahal's name are you thinking? This is beyond anything I ever dreamed of or did! Take the stone to men, bribe the elves?" He shouted and pointed vaguely at Laketown's direction.

"It's the only thing that will save us, save him. What use is being King under the Mountain, if you are DEAD under the mountain?"

Kili rubbed his face in frustration. Fili however, was not done. "I repeat to you my brother, I would trade every speck of treasure there is to keep you alive, to keep Thorin alive. No gold is worth family."

Kili grabbed a gold coin and threw it hard against a large stack of gold coins. They all came tumbling down nosily.
"Gold is shiny and beautiful, but none of this treasure is as comforting as your smile or as warm as your arms. Do you understand me yet?"

Kili sat down beside the white marble stairs. "I do. I do. I just don't know how we pull this off. What do we bribe the elves with?"

"Emeralds. An entire sack full of them. The Mirkwood elves love this jewel beyond all others. You and I fill a bag and I will take them to Thranduil and plead our case."

"No. I will plead our case to Thranduil. Legolas and I aren't exactly friends, but we have an understanding. It will be better if I go to them."

Fili was about to argue, when Kili gave him that look that reminded him of their uncle. "Do not argue with me. It's bad enough that you would take the Arkenstone to Bard, to parley with the elves would end with Thorin demanding your head as well."

Fili sat down beside his brother. "I would not have you suffer our Uncle's wrath as well."

"Oh, this plan gets better and better with each moment. You planned to parley with humans and elves with treasure and the stone and do this all by yourself? Are you mad?" Kili waved his hands towards Fili's head.

"No. But"

"No buts." Kili demanded. "You are braver than I and smarter than I."

Fili tried to interrupt but Kili was not to be deterred. "You never succumbed to the gold lust. I DID. I will not have you shoulder all of this on your own. Besides, we don't have that much time. Azog and his army will arrive soon. Thorin and the others are too busy counting coins to plan. You convince Bard, I convince Thanduil. "

"And somehow, together we convince Uncle." Fili finished for him.

"Yes." Kili said with all the certainty that all their wild schemes ever had.

Fili snorted and began to laugh. It was ridiculous enough to work. Kili joined him after a second.

"We will probably be banished for this." Fili commented.

Kili shrugged. "I always wanted to be a travelling musician. Imagine the songs we could sing from our adventures."

Fili laughed. "Who would believe us?" He put his arm around Kili.

"Doesn't matter. We'd know the truth."

Fili looked into his brother's dark eyes. "So we do this then?"

Kili nodded, his faith in the plan positive because it was Fili's. "Yes, for no matter where you lead, I will follow." He replied honestly.

"I don't deserve to have such a brother as you."

"Of course not. You got incredibly lucky. After all, I got oozing charm, bravery, good looks and incredible battle skills. You just shine in my glory." Kili boasted. All this touchy feely talk was scaring him.

Fili laughed once more. "I may be crazy, but I am not yet insane. You are the biggest pain in the ass little brother in all the 7 dwarrow kingdoms. Yet I would not have it any other way. But come, let's put our plan in motion before we are caught."