The chair in front of him seemed to be mocking him. For every moment he stared at it, it stared right back.
"You don't have the courage to go through with this," its occupant sang, a cruel smile twisted upon the being's lips.
Looking Kili into the eye Dwalin growled. "You're not real." In any case, the warrior had proven the figment of his mind wrong. He was already halfway through packing.
Dwalin knew that he was not crazy. The projection of Kili onto the chair had merely been an embodiment of his fears working his mind into a state not unlike the shaking of an earthquake. The burly dwarf knew that dwelling on these fears would be a liability. He needed to clear his mind for the task soon to be at hand. Unlike the last time he could not freeze up.
"Are you going somewhere?" The door opened to reveal Balin.
Dwalin did not look up. "Hunting."
Balin tilted in his in curiosity as he wandered past. "Hunting? That's good."
"I've had enough of sitting around doing nothing," Dwalin said. He did not see the smile that spread across his brother's face.
"Do you want me to come with you?" the older dwarf asked. "I am will not be needed for the rest of the day by anyone."
"No," Dwalin replied, almost too quickly. "This is something I want to do on my own. I do not want anyone else getting hurt."
A moment of silence passed and when Balin still did not speak, Dwalin finally looked up. The look on his brother's face was thunderous at best.
"Tell me you are not the thick headed idiot I think you are."
Dwalin allowed his expression to remain smooth. "Why?"
"Don't ask me why," Balin rumbled, "You know exactly what I am talking about!"
Dwalin stood with an almighty fury. "So what if I am going to hunt down that bear? Is it not better that I die trying to correct my mistake of letting that beast live than to dwell in misery here?"
The burly warrior recoiled from the punch that had been landed on his jaw.
"Never say that," Balin roared, his eyes flashing with a level of wrath Dwalin had never seen before. "I do not care what you think, or what anyone has told you. I will kill you myself if you so much as even think that way again."
Dwalin rubbed the newly forming bruise with one hand. "Even so, I must kill the bear."
Balin threw his hands up in exasperation. "How many times do I have to tell you that what happened was not your fault?"
"Fili seems to think so," Dwalin shot back.
Balin frowned. "Fili is young and does not have a firm hold on his emotions."
"He has a firm enough grip to know who to blame," Dwalin argued.
"This is madness."
Dwalin's mouth was fixed in a straight line. "You cannot stop me."
Balin's gaze did not waver. "You underestimate what I am capable of."
The younger of the two shook his head in frustration and turned to finish packing. The next moment his pack was ripped out of his hands and he smashed against the floor.
"Listen to me!" Balin's voice was accompanied by the hand which had gripped his brother's arm. The shorter dwarf's face was completely obscured by the prominent crease in his forehead. "You cannot go after that bear."
"What I cannot do is not up to you."
Balin snorted. "I am your brother and I am older than you. As such, that puts me in charge."
Dwalin glared at him. "Perhaps when we were still dwarflings," he said, "But not now."
The fingers latched onto his arms dug harder into his flesh doing their very best to bruise.
"I will take all measures to stop you from doing this," Balin said. "Even if it takes a direct order from Thorin himself not to pursue this foolish task, I will not see you go after that bear."
"Thorin himself couldn't stop me," Dwalin answered as he broke his way out of his brother's weakening grasp. His foot trod backwards, something giving beneath it, but what it was the warrior did not look to see. He made it to the chair he had been sitting on when Balin had come in without a word being spoken, yet it was upon arrival that his brother spoke again.
"You could be killed," the older of the two cried.
Dwalin shrugged. "Then I'll just have too kill the bear before it kills me."
"Then at least let me go with you in case you are injured. Alone you will have no way to seek out help."
Dwalin shook his head. "No. I've already said that I want to do on my own. This is something that I must fix by myself."
"Then what am I to do?" Balin asked, his voice shaded with bother anger and desperation.
Dwalin stared the white bearded dwarf in the eyes. "Pray the bear does not best me."
"And if it does?"
Dwalin had no answer to that.
"There is nothing you can say that will change my mind," the dwarf finally said, but Balin still had one trick he had not yet tried.
Dwalin froze at the word, for it was one that had not been used between them for an extremely long time. Indeed the last time the word had been uttered by Balin's lips was the battle where they had both lost a king and a friend to the filthy orcs. It was a low blow on his brother's part, the ploy clearly designed to make him rethink his stand on the issue. It was not one that would work however.
"I am sorry, brother," the warrior finally said. "Now if you would excuse me, I must repack for my trip."
Dwalin turned his back on the older dwarf as he began to bend down in order to gather his scattered belongings. There was a sigh behind him and the slam of a door, yet the tattooed dwarf did not look up, too busy fighting back his own fears of what he was about to do.
Nadadith - little brother