Dwalin allowed the horror of what he had just seen to freeze him for less than a second before he forced his body into action, diving into the river and under the water to grab Kili. He grasped the back of his tunic and tugged him up, forcing himself not to panic as the boy made no noise or movement. He dragged them both to the shore and placed him on dry ground, heart stopping for a movement when he noticed no movement of his chest, "Kili! Come on, Kili...you have to breath."
Fili was reaching high levels of hysterical sobbing and made a lunging grab for his little brother. Dwalin threw out one arm and caught him before he reached Kili, "No. Stay right there."
Fili sobbed out his brother's name but did as he was told. Dwalin rested a hand on the side of Kili's neck and nearly panicked when there was nothing. No heartbeat, no breath. His mind froze for a long moment and instinct kicked in. He pushed down hard on Kili's chest before breathing into his mouth. When it didn't work he swore and repeatedly pushed on his chest for a moment, "No Kili. You have to breath."
Fili's screams were getting more and more shrill until they stopped completely, panic leading him into silent sobs. Dwalin sent breath into Kili's lungs once more and nearly died of relief when the child sputtered and choked, coughing and vomiting the water from his lungs. Dwalin lifted his head slightly and as his own heart once again seemed to resume beating, he realized once again why he was never going to have children. Ever.
Kili gagged and coughed a few more times before his hazed eyes managed to focus on the world around him. He coughed once before gasping, "Three."
The word took a moment to register before Dwalin nearly laughed in relief, "Good boy. Just keep breathing."
Fili, unable to restrain himself any longer, launched himself at his brother, hugging him tightly as he continued to sob. Dwalin continued to support the younger brother as he looked him over. Kili was deathly pale and shivering violently and his head was bleeding sluggishly. He allowed the brothers a few more minutes of hugging before he gently pulled them apart, "You hit your head pretty hard. Are you dizzy at all?"
Kili shut his eyes and nodded weakly. Dwalin cursed again, quietly and ran a hand as gently as he could over the boy's forehead. Kili winced and whimpered slightly and Dwalin pulled back, "We have to get you to a healer."
He lifted the boy into his arms and Kili's head immediately rest on his shoulder, "If you feel sick, tell me."
He felt more than saw the slow nod in response and he managed to get to his feet and look up. There was simply no way he was getting the boys up the wall of rock in front of them which meant they had to walk along the shore until they found a way up. He held out one hand for Fili who took it, still crying, "How are we going to get up?"
Dwalin began walking, Fili's hand still clinging to his tightly, "We're going to walk until I can find a safe way up while carrying Kili."
Fili must have taken that as an acceptable answer and stayed silent except for the occasional sniffle and hiccup as his tears slowed to a stop. The walk along the shore, while blissfully uneventful, was concerning. Kili was downright listless, his head staying on Dwalin's shoulder the entire time. However he did respond to the occasion question Dwalin asked every few minutes to assure himself that the child was still conscious. Meanwhile Fili clung tightly to Dwalin's hand and remained completely silent, even though the occasional tear ran down his cheeks. They walked for a bit longer, Kili still responding coherently to Dwalin's questions when Fili finally spoke, "Where are we?"
Dwalin looked around, "I'm not sure but we've been slowly going uphill as we've been walking. The river is flowing away from us which means we're going up."
Fili looked up at him, eyes still red but without tears, "Are we ever going to get to the Iron Hills?"
Dwalin nodded, "I promise."
Ona scanned the area around her, perched as well as she could on a tree branch before calling down to Thorin who stood at the bottom, "I don't see anything."
Thorin cursed and Ona climbed down a few branches before dropping down, landing firmly on the ground in a crouch, "It's good and bad. No orcs."
Thorin sighed, "No sigh of Fili and Kili either."
Ona fell silent for a second, "They have to be alive. They're with Dwalin. He's the best person that could have found them. He'll keep them alive.....he may not know what to do with them but he'll keep them alive."
Thorin opened his mouth to respond but froze, spinning around, "Did you hear that?"
Ona stepped up beside him and shook her head, "Orc?"
"No....it sounded like my name."
They both fell silent and strained to listen. A few seconds of birds chirping and normal forest noises went by before a distant call was heard, "Thorin! Ona!"
Ona looked up at Thorin, "Those are our names. Who's calling us?"
Thorin shook his head, brow furrowed, "I don't.....I don't know..."
"Maybe it's Dwalin. Let's go."
Ona took off running, Thorin following close behind. They followed the direction the noises came from before Ona pulled ahead, "That's Balin! I can see him! Balin!"
The white haired Dwarf turned just as the pair came into view. Both reached him, slightly out of breath, "It's good to see you both alive. Dain! I found them!"
Dain emerged from one of the bushes noisily, "Thorin. We feared the worst when you didn't return last night."
Thorin remained grave, "We haven't found the boys."
"We think Dwalin has then," Ona chimed in, looking at Balin, "The last we saw of any of them was footprints. Robo was eaten. Wargs."
Dain sighed heartily, "They're getting closer and closer to the mountain and taking over more of this forest every day."
Balin gave Thorin a sympathetic look, "If Dwalin has them, he'll keep them alive. He's probably heading to the Iron Hills."
Thorin nodded slowly, "I know. He has to be getting close."
Dain looked both Ona and Thorin over, "Are you both armed?"
Thorin gave him a dry look, "Always."
"Good. Then we split up and look. We'll cover more ground that way. We meet back here before nightfall. I'll go north, Thorin east, Ona west, and Balin south. Keep an eye on the sun and stay safe."
Thorin and Ona shared a look between them before nodding and parting ways.
The ground was steadily getting steeper and steeper which meant their pace slowed even more to assure Fili could keep up. Kili had thrown up once but seemed to less out of it and more alert, albeit exhausted. Dwalin looked to his right at where the rock wall had become a steep incline, rather than a barrier they would have to climb. Dwalin stopped and looked down at Fili who was keeping pace but looked about ready to drop, "Think you can make it up this if you crawl?"
Fili looked from the incline to Dwalin before nodding tiredly. Dwalin ruffled his hair fondly, "I promise we'll find somewhere you can both rest once we're up there."
Kili raised his head slightly, "Do I need to crawl?"
Dwalin shook his head, "No. I'm going to carry you. You're not ready to walk yet."
The head went back down and Dwalin began the very slow climb up. Fili followed at a slow but steady pace, occasionally sliding down slightly as he lost his footing. The warrior kept a firm hold on the child in his arms and did what he could to assist the older brother in climbing up. Once they reached the top Fili collapsed on the ground, panting, "I don't like this trip anymore."
Dwalin sat down next to him to catch his own breath, settling Kili in his lap, "You and me both, Kid. How are you doing Kili?"
Kili rested his head against Dwalin's chest, seeming to lack the strength to hold it up, "My head hurts. And I'm sleepy."
Dwalin nodded, "You can tell you're both Durin's. No other Dwarf would able to handle what you have been through. Especially as a kid."
He let them all rest for a minute before standing, Kili's arms going around his neck and his head going back down on his shoulder. Dwalin pulled Fili to his feet and led them into the forest, the blonde making a face when he realized where they were going, "I don't like it in there."
Dwalin couldn't blame him, "We're getting close to the Iron Hills. I'm going to find somewhere for you two to sit and rest and I'm going to get help."
They hadn't walked far when Dwalin noticed a small stone building on the edge of the trees, "See that? That's a guard post. You're going to sit in there."
With the promise of rest within his sight Fili's pace became lighter and Kili's head lifted. As the reached the door Dwalin shoved it opened and looked inside, "Doesn't seem like it's been used for a while."
Fili sat down on one end of the bench as Dwalin sat Kili down on top of the table. He ran a hand over the top of the boy's head and looked closely at his forehead, "You're not bleeding anymore but you need to see a healer. Head injuries aren't something to ignore."
He looked the boy over. Kili's hair was almost dry but was plastered around his head and made him look rather pathetic. Dwalin gave him a rueful smile, "You look like a drowned rat. Kili, the Dwarven fish."
Kili managed a weak and tired but genuine smile before Dwalin picked him up and settled him on the bench next to his brother, "He can sleep, just don't let him stay asleep for too long just to be safe, all right Fili?"
The blonde boy nodded and Dwalin ruffled his hair, "I'm going to get a healer and hopefully find your uncle or Dain. Stay here."
Dwalin gave them a final once-over before leaving, shutting the door behind him. Fili waited until he was out of sight before hopping down from his seat. Kili used that to his advantage and laid his head down on the, now free, space, "What're you doing?"
Fili shrugged a shoulder, "Just looking. Maybe there's a blanket or something in here we can rest on."
Kili watched him look for a moment before looking under the table, "There's blankets under here. And a bag."
Fili looked under as well before getting on his hands and knees to pull it out. There were a few blankets and a bag that Fili instantly recognized, "This is Uncle's!"
That got Kili's attention and the boy sat up slowly, "That means Uncle is probably close, right?"
Fili nodded, "I think the blanket belonged to Aunt Ona too. This looks like her crest."
Kili laid back down with a soft sigh, "I'm tired."
Fili covered him with a blanket, "Mr. Dwalin said you could sleep. Take nap."
Kili's eyes almost instantly shut and Fili wrapped the other blanket around his shoulders before wandering over to the other side of his brother to watch him.
The sun was well on it's way to setting and Fili was barely keeping his eyes opened when a noise outside the window startled him awake. His heart started pounding as he slowly slipped down off of the bench and crept over to the window, pressing himself against the wall. He could just barely see the warg-riding orc near the window but it was enough to assure him that he and Kili were not safe where they were. He quickly looked around and noticed a small closet they could both fit in and shut the door. He dropped to his hands and knees and tried to keep himself from both making any noise and throwing up from fear. As he reached Kili's sleeping form he put a hand on his shoulder and one over his mouth, jarring him awake. Kili struggled for a second before he realized who had him and relaxed until he saw the look on his brother's face. Fili helped him slid off the bench as quietly as he could and they crawled over to the closet. Kili scooted back as far as he could against the wall and Fili pulled the door shut with a click, leaving them in darkness. Kili felt his brother press up against his side and managed to whisper almost silently, "What is it?"
Fili's voice was shaky and soft, "Orc."
Kili tried to stifle a whimper and felt Fili shake beside him. Both boys kept their eyes on the thin sliver of light from under the door. There was total silence for a long minute before they both heard the door to the building creak open. Kili took a sharp breath and Fili's hand covered his mouth. They could hear the footfalls and floor shift as something began to walk around. Fili could feel his brother's tears start to hit his hand and just tried to focus on staying quiet, hoping and praying that Dwalin came back soon.
Dwalin kept his pace brisk and his eyes sharp for any sign of a hunting party or Dwarf from the Iron Hills. As he walked, his mind kept drifting back to the two boys he left in the guard post, unable to shake the sinking feeling that he shouldn't have left them alone.
A sharp noise of a snapping twig had him drawing his axe and spinning around only to come face to face with Dain. Dwalin let out of breathy almost-laugh of relief and allowed his shoulders to relax, "Dain. It's good to see you."
Dain greeted him with enthusiasm and a firm grasp of his forearm, "Dwalin! Wasn't expecting to find you out here," His brow furrowed, "Where are the boys? Thorin thinks you have them."
Dwalin nodded, happy to finally have found someone who could help, "I have them. Kili took a nasty fall. He needs a healer. I left them in that guard post to the west so they could rest while I found help. They're both exhausted."
Dwalin's stomach sank and twisted up in a knot as all the color drained from Dain's face, "You left them there alone? That post is abandoned. It's right in the middle of an orc hunting ground."
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