To Your Mark

Chapter 11

When Ren appeared before the Company next, she was dressed once again in a simple shirt that had more or less been adjusted for feminine figures and a pair of tights. The fabric of her tunic had changed color from a deep red to a silvery blue but the jerkin over the top was her own that had simply been washed many, many times to get the stain and the smell out.

It was a few hours after the meeting with Elrond about the map into Erebor and the dwarves were all sitting around a fire they had concocted, eating what little meat the had managed to find in what provisions they still had from the last few days of traveling.

For their supper wasn't as pleasant as they had first hoped it to be. The lettuce was not as popular with the dwarves as one would have thought though they had to admit that the fish they ate was not so terrible.

Most of the males were in their underclothes but Ren had seen them like this plenty of times before and simply ignored the fact, simply sitting in the presence of the dwarves just to hear their hearty laughter.

For the rather loud and boisterous sound had come to warm her heart and she had not even realized it before it was missing. And in this time, she needed to have her heart warmed. Her mood about Rivendell had entirely changed now. When she had first arrived, she had felt as though she had been coming home to a family but now due to further complications, it felt like a prison.

A prison she wished to escape.

She had only gotten a short distance after leaving the meeting when both the twins and Estel had found her, tears streaming down her lovely cheeks. A few, absolutely livid tears had managed to slip from her eyes but she had luckily been able to wipe them away before the boys took noticed.

However, the three young men had immediately sensed her damper of mood and it seemed as though a couple of good spars were enough to kill her ill feelings for the time being. They had been a wonderful distraction.

And as soon as she had stepped onto the terrace given to the dwarves, she immediately felt eyes upon her. She was well aware of the fact that her eyes had been red, for after she had spared with the twins and the human boy, she had snuck off and allowed herself an appropriate cry full of anger and frustration.

Also to her own surprise, she came to find that Estel had learned to spar and had greatly improved in his skills with the blade since they had last met. He nearly beat her once but she managed to squeak out a victory and win when she kicked the sword from his hands. Of course, she had suspected none the less from young Aragorn, seeing as who his father was. He would certainly be a great man when he grew up. She was sure of that.

So now she sat in the corner of their residence and simply let their warmth and joy surround her, slowly raising her spirits and helping her to forget about her problems.

However, even just before she had met back up with the dwarves, Lord Elrond and Mithrandir had found her, much to her dismay. She had declined their company and had been about to walk away when the word of the elf stopped her.

And yet, she found that she could not force the conversation from her mind.

"Gwathel." He called to her, effectively stopping her in place. She had raised her bloodshot eyes to blankly look at the waterfalls that lay in the distance. "Please walk with us for but a moment, I require your council."

The blonde stood there at the entrance to the dark bridge, the moonlight shinning down upon her and turning her hair and shirt silver. Clenching her jaw, she let her shoulders slump in defeat. "Very well." Ren had murmured and turned back, though she was reluctant to do so.

The dark haired elf had gestured for her to follow and she soon joined back up with the wizard and the elven lord, despite the fact that she did not want to talk to the immortal creature again. The three of them began walking then, with Gandalf and Elrond in the front and the female trailing just a step behind them.

"Did you not plan to warn me of this quest at all, mellon?" The elf implored the Maiar, his hands clasped behind his back.

"Of course I was going to tell you. I was waiting for this very chance." Gandalf defended himself, adjusting his grip upon his staff as he shuffled along with his friends. "And-And really, I think you can trust that I know what I'm doing!"

"Do you?" The dark haired male turned to him.

"Yes." Ren snapped from behind him, her arms folding themselves across her chest. If one where observing it would easy to see that she was very much displeased with, well, everything. "We both know what we are doing."

The elf turned back to look at her, hurt shinning in his eyes. "And to think that even you did not tell me of this quest..."

"I have not visited for seven years." The blonde growled back at him as she defended herself, her fists clenching, causing the leather gauntlets to squeal. "It is idiotic to think that I would have known back then. And for Aulë's sake, I barely knew a week before the journey started." For a moment, he only continued to look at her before he turned away and proceeded forward down the bridge once again.

"That dragon has slept for sixty years. What would happen if your plan should fail, if you wake that beast?" Elrond questioned them.

"We do not plan to wake him-" Ren began but was interrupted by the Maiar.

"But if we succeed?! If the dwarves take back the mountain, our defenses in the East will be strengthened."

"It is a dangerous move, Gandalf."

"You of all people surely know that risks need to be taken, Gwador." The female defended the wizard again, her voice rising so that it echoed of the buildings around them. The elf lord turned back to look at her, his dark eyes narrowed on her form but neither of them looked away as if intimidated. "Both of us are more then aware of that."

"It is also dangerous to do nothing!" The wizard murmured, wanting to ease the tension between the two others. "The throne of Erebor is Thorin's birthright, what is it you fear?"

"I agree with Mithrandir." The two men turned back to look at her. "If Thorin is to be King Under the Mountain once again, that will give our forces a dwarven stronghold in the Northeast, not to mention that both Dale and Esgaroth would be restored, providing us with more allies among the race of Men. Things would only be perfect if we could get Thranduil-"

"Listen to the two of you." Elrond nearly spat with disbelief, his eyes alight with a quiet fury, having interrupted his female companion. "Have you forgotten?" He looked between the two of them and when he tried to meet the eyes of the blonde, she let her eyes fall to her boots. "A strain of madness runs deep in that family." The empty courtyards around them were quiet, save for the sounds of the crickets in the distance. "His grandfather lost his mind. His father succumb to the same sickness. Can you swear that Thorin Oakenshield will not also fall?"

It was again quiet for what felt like an eternity.

"I have seen no signs of the gold sickness." Gandalf's voice was the first to cut through the silence.

"Yes but you are still far from the mountain and the very thing that will instill the disease." The elf went against the wizard and turned to their lone female companion. "And Ren, have you also...overlooked the symptoms?"

"Why are you asking me?" She furrowed her brow at him.

"Because you are part of the Company. You spend more time around him than Mithrandir does. You are more aware of his mannerisms and behavior. What do you think?"

Her sapphire irises flashed with both frustration and annoyance as she gazed at the elf. She only sighed deeply before she uncrossed her arms and ran both hands down her face, her shoulders slumping with exhaustion.

"I do not know." She said quietly, her irises now holding a saddened look in them. "I have seen nothing thus far...but, that does not mean that the sickness can not grow into something-"

"Your quest can still meet a dangerous end, even if you do make it passed Smaug-"

"You did not let me finish." Ren effectively cut the elf off, anger once again evident in her tone as her voice echoed off the buildings again. Elrond looked at her for a long moment before he inclined his head slightly, waiting for her to continue though he himself was aggrivated. "Just because there are no symptoms now, does not mean that the disease is not there, however, if we are able to catch the signs early and distract him from the gold and the Arkenstone, there is still hope for Master Oakenshield. For his distant ancestors did not possess this madness." She continued, crossing her arms back over her chest. "And we can only hope that we either catch the disease or hope that it died out in Thrain."

"What is it you plan to distract him with?" The dark haired elf asked her, his eyes still narrowed on her form. "Anything less than great monetary worth is of no use to dwarves."

Ren was quiet for a long moment, just staring back at the female as if the male had insulted her. "Do you know what I've come to learn about Thorin Oakenshield, Gwador?" The woman asked him and the wizard beside her couldn't help but prepare himself to hear the verbal lashing of a lifetime, even if it wasn't directed towards him. "I've come to learn that he is strong and resilient, more so than you think." She told him, jabbing her finger into his chest. "And I know that you doubt him but from what I've seen he is a good man. He cares about the Company and that is not based on the fact that they are all his kin or friends."

Ren shifted in place, her hands wringing together as she struggled to not full on shout at the elven lord. The blonde took a small step back from him, taking a deep breath in hopes of calming herself. However, that failed to work.

She then pointed her index finger up to the balcony where she could see a fire, the answer to his previous question flitting into her mind, she also happened to be pointing where a two certain someones had been watching the discussion take place, one of them being the person of discussion.

"I will use his people to distract him because from what I've seen, Thorin cares about his people more than he cares about himself. He is not driven by the thought of gold. No, it is the thought of restoring Erebor for his people that moves him forward." The female explained and for a moment, the elf couldn't believe how much Ren looked and sounded like someone he used to dearly know. "So, next time do not doubt people so easily because that dwarf, even though he may be completely idiotic at times and aggravatingly hardheaded, is a strong, noble creature, one that is worthy of your friendship and support should you decide to give it to him." She paused for a moment, letting her words sink in before she continued. "And even if there is gold sickness inside him, I know he will overcome it because I believe in Thorin Oakenshield... even if he is an ass." She took a deep breath then to try and calm herself. "That is all I have to say on the matter should you choose to actually listen to me for once."

She had turned then to leave the two men but she couldn't help but feel the prickling of eyes upon her. Turning her head over so slightly to the side, her blue irises could make out the form of two persons in the dark, upon the very terrace where she had pointed at.

The female calmly met Bilbo's eyes but when her own pair moved passed him, her gaze met that of a stormy blue set of pools that made her feel as though they burned into her. Ren held the King's gaze for a long moment before she turned and proceeded back down the path, something in the back of her mind telling her that he had heard every single word she said.

Yet, she found that she did not even care.

"What's troublin' ya, lass?" She only blinked herself back into reality when she heard the accented voice so close to her ear. Ren slowly turned her head to the side when she felt someone sit down beside her. Bofur's crazy eye brows were pulled down in a frown as he gazed at her sullen form, not used to seeing her looking so sad.

"Nothing, Master Bofur..." She replied quietly, turning away from him. She pulled her knees up to her chest before crossing her arms over the top. She let her chin rest atop her forearms, simply wanting to be left alone for awhile.

"That is nonsense and you know it." Kili sat down on her other side as she had turned away from her friend with the crazy hat. She felt her eyebrow twitch in anger. These dwarves were becoming just as persistent as the twins. "You were so happy when we first arrived and now it looks like someone has kicked your pup!"

Ren ducked her head slightly but Kili kept his head even with her's, his lips pouted in an outrageous way as if trying to get her to smile. Ren couldn't help but roll her eyes. Only a child would do such a thing.

Feeling defeated, Bofur pouted himself and moved away to sit back down by his things. Kili continued to poke and prod at Ren, trying to get her stony demeanor to change. He would lightly jab her in the side and he would sometimes get her to jolt because she was ticklish but other than that, he got no reaction.

Thorin was watching everything from the shadows in the terrace. The dwarf didn't have an inkling as to what made her so upset but he remembered the conversation he had to have with her. He also couldn't help but think about the words that he had heard her say. How she had so fully defended him when she had no reason to.

But even then, he wanted an explanation to everything.

His thoughts were suddenly pushed away when he heard the familiar clarinet music coming from Bofur himself. The bushy browed dwarf blew away on the handcrafted instrument before he caught his youngest nephew's eye and winked. The dark haired dwarf caught his message and knew what was about to occur.

With a wide smile, the Durin heir pulled himself up off the ground and took Ren's hands into his own, though unwillingly on her part. He pulled on her long arms and she simply shook her head in an answer to his silent request to dance. But being a stubborn dwarf, he persisted enough to actually get her to stand up.

Doing so, he led her towards the fire where the dwarves had left plenty of room for dancing around the flames. For Kili could only guess that as light on her feet as she was, the blonde woman had to be a good dancer. Goading his brother into the plan as well, the two dwarves began to do a traditional dwarvish dance, nudging Ren every once and a while to try and get her to copy their movements.

"I-I don't like to dance!" She had protested as they continued to eye her as the two brothers circled around the other, just as the dance was called to do.

"Well, that is too bad." Kili said as he bowed to both her and his brother before straightening.

"Because whether you like it or not, you're going to dance!" Fili picked up from where his brother left off, a sparkling grin upon his face. His blue eyes seemed to come alight in the firelight and his mustache twitched with amusement as he looked from his brother and back to their friend.

With a heavy sigh, Ren curtsied as she rolled her eyes. She supposed that she would have to give in eventually, lest they not leave her alone at all that night. Watching the brothers move about the fire, her movements were a bit awkward at first as she began to copy them since she did not know the dance. After a few minutes, she had the steps down and was calmly stepping to and fro between the brothers who smiled at each other across the fire.

Without warning, Bofur decided that the beat needed to pick up and Balin joined in, playing his small viola.

"What?" Ren asked as her head snapped to the side when the song sped up and soon Kili took hold of her hands and was twirling her about. She could only try and keep up with him, his feet moving remarkably fast for a dwarf.

He suddenly spun her away from himself before he let go and his blond brother took his place. Fili let out a bark of laughter before smiling widely at her. He took hold of her right hand before his hand placed itself on her waist and he was guiding her around the fire himself, being the more seasoned dancer than his brother. She had to look down at his feet to dry and keep up with him but it was all for naught as she was passed off to Kili once again.

Bombur had now joined in with a drum and Ren could actually step to the time of the drums. She had never implied that she couldn't dance. She just didn't know the dances the dwarves were stepping to.

"Kili..." She said quietly and the dwarf stopped smiling for a moment before looking up into her sapphire eyes.

She didn't say another word as she let go of his hand and shoulder before stepping back slightly. Shutting her eyes, she smiled to herself and all the dwarves grew silent as they watched as she stood before the fire, waiting for the beat to hit again.

The clarinet stopped and viola stopped. Everyone held their breath, including Ren. Bombur still continued his solid beating on the drum. She slowly began to step and turn around the fire, her hips swaying side to side to the beat.

Then, Balin elbowed his gruff brother who cautiously reached for his own viola. Counting quietly between the two of them, both Balin and Dwalin began to play, setting the woman into motion herself. At first it was slow, only a slightly faster turning, before she began to dance around the fire, much to the dwarves amazement. She twisted and wove her elegant arms around her.

She twirled gracefully, her hair flipping about her shoulders as a large smile suddenly lit her face. The pain in her rib was gone in that moment, forgotten in her joy as she let her body move on its own accord to the chipper music. The song continued to pick up and she became so enthralled in the music that she even lept over the fire at one point, causing all the dwarves to gasp in amazement.

She was so smooth as she moved, for in that moment, Thorin could only watch in wonder as he anticipated her next fluid movements. At one point, she had lent backwards and transferred the weight from her feet to her hands which were the only things holding her up. He was completely and utterly lost in the rhythm of the drums and how her now bare feet never seemed to touch the ground as she continued to circle the embers. He watched her hair become a golden halo in the ring of firelight, making her look like some sort of creature born from the dancing flames themselves.

For she was astonishingly beautiful, none of the dwarves could deny that. And for a few minutes, all the dwarves were too captivated to do or say much.

Kili could only stand off to the side, his arms crossed over his chest, a triumphant smirk on his face. People should really listen to him more often. He was absolutely brilliant.

But with a yell of surprise, the dark haired dwarf was suddenly pulled back into the wild dance, joining Ren around the fire who was still grinning madly, her pupils dark and enlarged with the seemingly addictive freedom that came with dancing.

The two of them also pulled Fili back into the dance before they managed to get Ori, Nori, and Dori to join though they grumbled for a long time. Bofur and Bifur also joined into the thrall, the dwarf with the crazy hat sweeping the female up into his arms as well. At one point, the blonde woman had even dragged Bilbo back out to join them, even though the hobbit protested greatly but once he got the hang of it, he was having a merry time.

The small group continued to dance for the longest of times before the older dwarves and the hobbit began to grow tired of the rapid dances and sat down until only Kili remained.

He and Ren slowly spun around the fire now, his arms wrapped loosely around her waist as he simply leaned on her, a dreamy smile upon his face. The dwarf let the comforting motion begin to lull him to sleep and he allowed his eyes to close. It took Ren a minute or two to notice this and then patted the dwarf gently on the shoulder.

Fili pulled his brother away and the smaller dwarf could only sleepily smile at Ren before the blond sibling ushered him to his bedroll with a roll of his eyes.

Ren simply stood there for a moment, alone, her eyes on the flames as she relished in the happier feelings that the dwarves had brought forth to warm her soul. A content smile pulled at her lips as her arms were wrapped around herself, just gazing into the embers at her feet.

Maybe the days would no longer be so dark after all. Maybe the Company would be good for her.

Bilbo groaned as he stretched out his sleep filled limbs. He was content to just lay in his makeshift bed for a while longer, the sun shinning down on him and warming his small, dozing form.

Something beside him shifted before a solid blow was dealt to his face. With an quiet omph! his eyes opened and he stared up at Kili who had been the one to assault his face with one of the various pillows that littered the floor of the terrace in place of mattresses.

"It's time to get up, sunshine! You've missed breakfast!" The dark haired dwarf beamed down at him as he sat up. The birds tweeted delightedly overhead as they flitted from tree branch to tree branch. In the distance, the roar of water could be heard as it rushed across smooth stones.

But as Bilbo lay staring up at the leaves overhead, he realized how high the sun was in the sky. It was almost to its highest peak!

"Why did you let me sleep so long?" The halfling asked, sitting up as he did so.

"We tried but you wouldn't wake up!" The young dwarf said as he moved through the others' supplies that was also strewn about, cloaks and blankets sprawled about across the pillows that were used as one large, makeshift bed.

"I was having the most wonderful dream..." The hobbit breathed as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, his hair exceptionally curly that morning.

"Oh yeah?"

"We were in Rivendell and the elves allowed me to use their library."

"Bilbo, we are in Rivendell." This caused the hobbit's brain to stall for a moment. He licked his lips before shaking his head as if he hadn't heard the dwarf correctly.

"R-Really?" He stuttered.

"If you don't believe me just look!" Kili pointed over the side of the terrace and when Bilbo climbed to his feet to look, his heart nearly stopped.

They were in fact, still in Rivendell. Below in the busier parts of the settlement, elves walked about as they went about their day, completely oblivious to the fact that they were being watched by two smaller folk. The ringing of swords filled his ears and the glinting of metal caught in the sunlight, nearly blinding him.

Yet, when he allowed his eyes to adjust, he watched as a very familiar, blonde woman swung her new blade around with expertise before she moved to attack the brunet dwarf before her. They were off in the distance aways, in another courtyard, probably one that was frequented often with those who wished to spar.

Bilbo still couldn't really believe they were in Imladris so he turned away from them to look back out over the rest of the settlement. It had just seemed that everything was so perfect, like a dream.

"But you don't have to worry because you're just in time for lunch!" Kili explained to him, clapping him on the shoulder.

The dwarf then beckoned him forward and led him to the same place where they had eaten the night before on the same large terrace. The long table was still set out from the previous night and the rest of the dwarves were already seated in the same spots as before and Bilbo took up his spot beside Balin before Kili joined his blond brother.

After a few minutes had passed, it appeared as though Lord Elrond and Gandalf were not going to be eating with them that afternoon. Once again though, the hobbit noticed that Ren was late as she had been the night before.

Thorin also quietly took note of this as he sat in his chair across from her own place, his hand stroking his beard in thought as his stormy eyes stared off into the distance.

There was suddenly a loud ruckus that could be heard echoing down the hallway leading to the dinning terrace, one that caused all the dwarves to turn their heads.

The woman was laughing loudly as she was nearly shoved onto the terrace, stumbling slightly, and being followed by three very rowdy boys who she gently shoved back. For a moment, all the dwarves were concerned and a few were about to rise but stopped when she beamed widely, evidently used to being rough-housed.

All four new arrivals were chattering rapidly in the elvish tongue and Ren was then sandwiched in between the twins as they approached the table, the happiest smile any of the dwarves had ever seen on her face.

She was dressed similarly as the night before in a pair of brown tights and her tunic had changed to a dark green color. Her leather gauntlets were tied around her wrists in their normal place.

When Thorin turned his eyes to the third male he did not know, the dwarf noticed that he seemed to be the only one of the group to have his hair drenched with sweat. The others only had a light sheen that made their foreheads glistened. One could only conclude that they had been sparing early that morning for he had noticed that when he had woken early that morning, she had been missing from the their terrace.

She also had not been at breakfast.

Though, he most definitely remembered stepping over her sleeping form that had been curled up between Bilbo and his blond nephew, her face buried into the pillows provided to them by their astounded hosts. And he had stood there for a moment, simply watching the gentle rise and fall of her chest, her words still echoing in his head.

"...He is a strong, noble creature, one that is worthy of your friendship and support should you decide to give it to him... I know he will overcoming it because I believe in Thorin Oakenshield..."

Why would some such as she defend him?

It had also been at this time that he had caught sight of the dark ring that lingered on the pale flesh of her neck. He had faintly been able to make out finger marks and he had suddenly felt guilt wash over him. So, he had turned and moved on and away from her before he lay down upon his own bedroll.

But when he had awoken, she was gone.

The twin elves took Elrond's place at the head of the table and the third boy simply sat quietly beside Ren in her spot from the previous night, his blue eyes gazing wide eyed at the rest of the members of the Company. For he had yet to ever see dwarves before this encounter.

The female simply sat down in her own chair crossing her legs with a sigh as they waited for their food.

"You need to work on your archery skills, Gwador." One of the twin elves said as they sat back in their high backed chairs. The dark haired boy just frowned before his eyes darted sideways to the woman sitting next to him.

"Be quiet, Elrohir! Ren beat you just as much as she did me!" He barked right back at the elf who only snickered but said nothing of the matter again. The twin elves also gazed around the table, taking in the sight of dwarves for the first time. Or rather, the second time considering they had seen them all at dinner the night before but it was for a very brief time.

"So, you are Thorin Oakenshield?" One of the twins asked as an server set a plate of food down before him as he had taken in the brooding dwarf beside them, only guessing that he was Thorin, considering that he looked the most angry of them all.

"Aye." The dwarf replied as his own food was brought before him. "But I'm afraid that I've never had the pleasure of meeting you three..." He glowered slightly at the four across from him. Ren just swallowed nervously, knowing that this could go well or it could end in a mess.

"Our apologies. I'm Elladan-"

"And I'm Elrohir!"

"No." Ren snapped, holding her head up as her eyes blazed with blue fire. They were rather tricky boys and she didn't want the dwarf to get confused although the two elves looked and acted nearly the same. It really didn't matter what he called either of them. "That one is Elrohir..." She pointed at the first one who spoke who was smiling deviously at her. "And that one is Elladan!" She clarified and the two pouted, their lips sticking out slightly.

"You're no fun, Naneth..." They murmured sarcastically at the same time as they began to poke at their food. Ren could only roll her eyes as she also began to poke at her food.

"Well, I would be more fun if you two actually behaved once in awhile..." She teased them and sat back slightly as another elf placed her own food in front of her. The blonde then looked to the King, an apologetic smile upon her face. "Don't mind them. They are only trouble."

This caused Thorin to chuckle slightly before he leaned forward and looked down the table to find his own troublesome nephews cautiously poking at their fish as if they suspected the elves had poisoned it.

"But you love us!" Elrohir chimed, elbowing her playfully. She female only rolled her eyes as she picked up her fork.

"That can be debated." She murmured, taking a bit of her own fish.

"Then it seems as though trouble seems to travels in pairs..." The dwarf lord mused and Ren also looked down the table to find Kili and Fili conversing about the fish before the blond brother simply picked up the slippery creature and took a bite out of it. Apparently he deemed it safe and his younger brother followed suit, both of them decided to eat with their hands.

"And what is your name, young man?" Thorin asked as they all began to dine on their meal of cooked fish.

Ren nearly dropped her fork as all their eyes darted up to the youngest member sitting at their of the table. It took a moment but the dark haired boy finally looked up at the dwarf, his eyes briefly flickering to the woman beside him.

"Aragorn." He said quietly before he put a piece of soft bread into his mouth and began to chew.

"Aragorn?" The dwarf lord repeated the name, making sure that he had heard it correctly. The dark haired boy nearly jumped from his skin as a hand reached beneath the tablecloth and gripped tightly to his own. He immediately turned to look at his female companion who was tense as she waited for the dwarf to finish rolling the name around in his mind. Oh, how she hoped he wouldn't recognize it. "An intriguing name."

In relief, the woman let go of his hand and allowed her shoulders to relax. She once again picked up her fork and went back to poking her meal.

Thank, Eru.

The conversation at the table then dropped down to only quiet words passed between the certain groups of dwarves. The tension in the air was evident for awhile and it was finally the dwarf who spoke again at their table.

"So, what is a human boy like you doing in a colony of elves?" Thorin continued on with his questioning of Aragorn, finding the boy to be just as confusing as Ren in manor. The younger boy stopped chewing his food for a moment before looking over at the blonde woman as if in need for confirmation. She gave a slight nod.

"I used to live up in the Northern lands but my village was attacked by a band of Orcs when I was an infant. My mother and I were evacuated here to Rivendell while my father... perished in battle. We have lived here every since under the protection of Lord Elrond and his people."

"Evacuated?" The dwarf furrowed his brow slightly. "By who? Surely your mother would not travel so far and over the Misty Mountains no less?"

"Um..." The boy turned once again to look at the female beside him who had her eyes focused on the King. She gave a sharp shake of her head and the boy proceeded though this did not go unnoticed by Thorin who narrowed his eyes on the woman. "A group of Rangers had been staying in our village and got us to safety."

The dwarf paused for a moment, letting his eyes flicker between Ren and the boy. "A stroke of luck then?" Aragorn nodded his head in answer. "And your mother, why is she not at lunch with us?"

"After my father died, she has lost her love of life. She hardly cares for human interaction anymore." The young man grew quiet as he poked at his fish on his plate.

Ren suddenly felt her heart sink in her chest and she reached out to take hold of Estel's hand, concern flooding her sapphire irises.

"It has gotten worse?" The two began to converse in elvish which only caused the dwarf to frown slightly yet he watched as their faces were affected by many emotions. Her features mostly held looks of sadness while Estel was solemn as he spoke with the woman about what, Thorin was not sure.

"She does not talk much anymore." This caused the woman to pause for a moment, looking briefly back to the twins who only nodded sadly.

The blonde sighed through her nose, knowing what she most do. "Then, I shall visit her. Do you think that it would brighten her day to see me?"

"It may. She talked about you for many months after you left." Ren had nothing else to say after that, feeling the depressive emotions coming over her once again. It seemed as though her leaving Rivendell in the first place had brought nothing but dark times for both her and her family.

Their end of the table fell into silence as they all continued to eat their meal.

However, the quiet would not last much longer, seeing as how Elrohir nudged Elladan underneath the table who in return grinned deviously as they formed an evil plan. If Ren had introduced them as troublemakers, then they would be troublemakers.

They could see the tension that was continuously passing between Ren and Thorin after she had ceased speaking elvish just then. And they decided to make it just a little worse.

Her eyes were continuously focused down on the food before her while the dwarf lord chewed his meal as he watched her, his eyes never straying from her form.

"So, Mister Thorin, sir..." They watched as the dwarf turned his eyes away from their friend who had just picked up her silver chalice to take a long drink of whatever the elves had placed before her.

Smiling as she raised it to her lips, the twins bided their time and waited to strike at the opportune moment.

"Did you know that our lovely lady, Ren here finds your behavior sweet?" Elladan asked him, his tone disgustingly innocent.

The aforementioned woman's eyes widened and she choked on the wine she had been drinking, sputtering into her cup as she did so. With a new horror alight in her eyes, she lowered the chalice from her lips and wiped at the red liquid dribbling down her chin. Containing the terror she was feeling, she made sure to calmly place her cup down instead of slamming it.

Both Elladan and Elrohir felt the blood slowly drain from their faces as the blonde woman turned her head towards them, one of her eyes twitching with acute loathing towards them. And inside her sapphire pools, there lay a promise of their deaths should they continue with this certain subject. Her cheeks, however, were as red as the ripest tomato and when she let her eyes flicker back to Thorin, she felt herself flush once again.

"Excuse me?" Thorin asked, swearing that he had not heard their words correctly. Ren thought of him as sweet?

There was a sudden clattering as Ren purposefully dropped her fork and napkin onto the ground. "Oh, damn!" She exclaimed, her voice void of all emotions and she suddenly bent over to pick them up.

The table suddenly shifted and Elladan jumped in his seat, cringing in pain as he was stabbed beneath the table with the very fork that was dropped. It was only a moment later that the woman straightened up, wiping her dirtied fork off as if nothing had happened, a content smile upon her face though her cheeks were still tinged pink.

The elven twins shot Ren a look of worry before the both of them looked back to Thorin, knowing what they had to do so that serious consequences would not occur later in the day when the dwarf was not around and they were left alone with Ren. The two of them should have known that despite the fact that she was gone, she could still beat them to a pulp if she really wanted to.

"Uh... He said that he heard you dwarves like... meat!" Aragorn recovered for the worrying elves who send him looks of thanks. Ren would have surely killed them should Thorin had actually heard what Elladan had said.

Instead, Ren simply sat back in her chair now, her cheeks still ablaze but it was enough for now. At least, the boy cared about her enough to cover her rear. For that conversation would have become very uncomfortable should it have progressed any further.

Thorin was still completely baffled by the elf's words. Of course dwarves liked meat. It was common knowledge. Surely everyone in Middle Earth knew that. And yet, he couldn't help but wonder why they would point it out...

"Lady Ren?" Someone called her name and she looked back over her shoulder to find the elf that had called for her attention.

"Yes, Lindir?" She sat forward in her chair slightly and the rest of the Company had grown quiet upon having the elf interrupt their lovely dinner conversation. He just looked at the dwarves nervously for a moment before looking back at her.

"Someone requests your presence, my lady." Something close to worry flashed in her eyes.


"Saruman the White wishes to speak with you." The blonde girl sighed before bowing her head. She then raised her eyes to gaze at the sun that was only just reaching its highest peak in the sky. She stood up from her seat beside Aragorn.

"Very well." The elf began to lead her off and Thorin watched her go from his chair.

He wondered where she was wandering off to before she disappeared from sight yet it did nothing for his mind. He only could continue to wonder about her until she would return.

Her feet carried her silently back down the dark walk, her face solemn as she ran a hand through her still soft hair. A shuddering sigh escaped from between her lips as she fought to control the storm of emotions inside of her.

That encounter had been very completely and utterly uncomfortable. To be completely honest, she would have taken a stab to the leg and had her cracked ribs if it meant that she could have not just gone through what she did.

The light and happy feeling from the night before was utterly extinguished now and it felt as though the darkness was only growing thicker as she walked along. The weight of the entire world seemed to rest upon her shoulders once again, threatening to crush her very well-being and drag down her soul into an inescapable blackness.

Not to mention the meeting had only a few minutes but she had also been crying for nearly the entire afternoon as she hid away in one of the high rafters of the elvish towers where she had found a place where she could be alone. And it was a cry of frustration, confusion, and turmoil. Things had certainly changed now, well, at least the end of the quest had.

It had happened a lot in the past when she had first came to Rivendell. Crying, that is. The elves had wanted her to speak about her feelings and she had refused, instead choosing to hide away and deal with her emotions in solitude. When they would try to force her to do it, it was only then that she had become quite violent at times, for you can now see how badly she did not wish to discuss her feelings.

It was now getting late at night and the moon was high in the darkened sky. People were probably worried about her. She could really care less anymore. She had her own problems to worry about. Half the time, she herself found that she was not worthy of being worried about.

From within the dark shadows surrounding her, she could see a fire from the dwarves flickering ahead and just as she was about to walk into the ring of light, a hand reached out from the dark hallway beside her.

It grabbed her upper arm and yanked her into the shadows of the hall. And yet, she did not try to fight. She did not try to pry the fingers from around her bicep. She did not fight back against her kidnapper. No, she was too exhausted to fight, both mentally and physically. So, she just let them take her.

Numerous times, she nearly stumbled, due to the fact that the person that was towing her forcefully forward was giving her little time to follow. Looking up, Ren couldn't see the person pulling her through the nearly impossible dark corridor until they reemerged onto the ledge in the cliff where they had discussed the moon runes the previous night.

Halfway through the trek though, she had already guessed who had taken her away from the Company.

They whipped her around in front of them before pushing her forward, sending her stumbling out into the moonlight balcony. The woman managed to catch herself before she fell and Ren slowly turned her head back to face her kidnapper.

There stood Thorin in all his dwarven glory, his thick arms crossed over his chest and a dangerous look lingering in his eyes. He took a deep breath as he readied himself to relinquish the imaginary fire that threatened to spill from his lips. However, the dwarf lord was able to contain himself for a few minutes and he simply watched her while he withheld his rage.

The blonde stood there, just looking back at him and he no longer could take it.

"Would you care to share some... information about the situation?" His voice was unnervingly quiet as he spoke his words, though he did waver a bit at the end. She only looked at him, a strange and dull look in her normally sparkling, blue eyes. "What do you have to say for yourself?"

"What is it you would like to hear?" She asked quietly, her eyes looking down at the ground and off to the side in almost a submissive way that made his chest swell in pride yet it angered him to no end. If he was speaking, the least she could do was look at him. "I have nothing to tell you."

"Even you know that is nonsense." He growled at her, his eyes flashing with anger. She only blinked when she heard him scolding her, still not meeting his gaze. "Explain to me why it is that you can speak Elvish."

"As I said before, people must learn what they must to survive." She turned away from him and sighed deeply before allowing her shoulders to slump. "Though I am guessing you have already figured it out, Elrond offered me sanctuary when no other would. I learned Elvish to fit in with the rest of the people here so, forgive me for wanting to live as normal of a life that I could afford." She sassed back at the dwarf though it was very halfhearted. "Life in Imladris was and is simple. I went about my days without problem or protest. The elves did not bother me and I them. We were in a peaceful coexistence you could say."

Ren fell silent then for a long moment before she slowly moved towards the edge of the cliff. Extending her arm, she let the droplets from the waterfall above bounce and drip on her skin.

"And even with all the horrors that lay in my wake, they did not try to question me..." Thorin's eyes flickered up to look at her when she had said that.

That dead look was still in her normally bright eyes. There was no familiar, angry spark whatsoever. It was almost as if she were reliving whatever haunting past she had right before his very eyes.

"Then what of... Rohan?" She laughed but it was without humor.

"Only Rohan?" The blonde was now talking to herself. "I suppose I never did mention Gondor, did I?" She slowly raised her head to look up at him and he shook his head.


"Well, Gondor was primarily a distraction. Another... adventure, I suppose. The White City was to be a place of hope, something that I needed greatly in that point of my life." She shook her head slightly, thinking back to what an incompetent child she had been back in those days. "And Rohan, well, I would have stayed in there for eternity. The folk were simple but gentle. The threat of war was down to a minimum but I suppose that all good things must come to and end sooner or later." She murmured yet she felt as if she was going to lose this fight in the end if she continued to reveal more information about herself. She took a moment to gather her thoughts back up before beginning again but as she opened her mouth to speak, the dwarf decided that he himself wanted to.

"So, now it is Gondor and Rohan." She nodded her head in confirmation, only adding more to her completely wild story. Thorin was still have trouble figuring her out but he was at least getting somewhere it seemed. He narrowed his eyes on her form. "Why did you leave?"

"I'm not a bandit or a criminal if that is what you think..." Ren snapped quietly, causing him to incline his brows slightly. Perhaps the fire was not extinguished like he first believed. "And I'm being completely honest with you when I say that most times, I sincerely got bored of the people. I found it hard to stay in one place."

"And that is why you do not have a husband or children...?" He threw his thoughts out into the open. "Because you never settled in one place long enough."

"It's a plausible enough explanation." The woman replied quietly, allowing her arms to hug themselves to her body, offering her more comfort.

It was quiet between the two of them for a long moment. She was staring out across the quiet settlement below them, watching as every one in awhile, a latern in the distance would move as an elf ventured out into the night. The King was watching her from his place still, his thoughts about her still entirely uncertain.

"Master Oakenshield...?" It was her voice who drew him from his own thought. He did not respond but she knew she had his attention. "Before this journey began, I heard you speaking with Balin in Bilbo's home. And that for a moment, he doubted the Company members. You, however, did not. You told Balin that all you asked for in each of them was loyalty, honor, and a willing heart...?"

She finally looked up at him with her empty blue irises. He slowly nodded his head before his hand reached up to stroke his beard, the conversation dribbling back into his mind.

"Do I not possess these qualities?" She asked him quietly.

This caused Thorin to stall for a moment as she shot his own words back at him and he struggled to find anything to say. "I... You-" He stopped after a moment before he closed his eyes with a sigh.

"Thus far, I have not broken your secrecy contract. I did not tell Elrond of your plan to enter the mountain. I did not tell the girl of our quest..." At this point, the blonde reached up and lightly wrapped her hand around her bruised throat. "I saved your nephews from the river and I would have saved us from the trolls should I have been given more time."

He only looked at her for a long moment and her brow furrowed softly as she gazed back at him. Sighing then, she began to loosen the ties of her gauntlets so that she could pull free the sleeves of her tunic before she tightened the leather gloves once again.

"And you must know that I don't just throw my heart into any silly adventure..." She pushed the dark green fabric back, allowing the King to see her bare arms. "I hope these are proof enough to show just how willing my heart is."

Ren took a step in his direction, baring her arms towards him.

The dwarf furrowed his brow as he looked at her face for a long moment before he let his eyes drop lower and he gazed at the flesh of her now bare forearms. Or rather, they were not so bare after all. All across her skin lay a number of scars, all of them varying in size and color.

With a sense of horror now in his stormy eyes, Thorin stepped toward her and slowly reached out until he took hold of her wrists in his hands. Ever so carefully, he turned them over to that he could see the underside of her arms as well and found them to be just as littered with the discolored marks. Turning her arms back over, his eyes found a particularly large scar that started just before her elbow and stretched up under her tunic sleeve until he could no longer see it. Mild curiosity taking over him, he let his eyes flicker back to her own, silently asking permission if he could look and she ever so slightly nodded her head. Releasing one of her wrists, he took hold of the dark green fabric and pushed it up, his warm fingers accidentally touching her skin. Much to his dismay, though, the scar kept going and he pushed the fabric up further until nearly her whole arm was exposed. Even then, the scar disappeared up and over her shoulder.

"Do I not possess these qualities?" She asked him again, her head turned away from him and he swore her eyes were glassy.

He did not reply immediately. The dwarf found that he was left slightly speechless upon seeing the state of her scarred body. His eyes were staring intently at her face and he took note of the dark ring upon her neck again and felt the same guilt as before wash over him.

Using his other hand, he held both of her small wrists in his large palm, restraining her slightly. Then, ever so slowly, he let go of the tunic sleeve, allowing it to fall back into place. Reaching up, he brushed the right side of her hair back over her shoulder. His fingers then took hold of the collar of her shirt and he pulled it sideways, causing the material to stretch, but he didn't have to go far to see that the large scar had disfigured her skin nearly up to her collarbone before it wrapped around behind her back.

"You do." He told her after awhile, finding that he could finally admit it to both the female and himself. How he he not noticed this when he found her topless?

"But I'm also curious as to why my past matter so much to you?" She growled at him suddenly, breaking the short silence between them. Ren forcefully yanked her wrists free from his grasp before she shoved his hand away from her shoulder.

And when the dwarf thought about her words and not her angry actions, he had to stop. Who was he to question her past?

Surely it brought up memories that she wished to be rid of yet he continued to pry and bring them to the surface, merely holding them in the forefront of her mind. She wished to leave her past behind, as did he, as did most of the dwarves in fact.

They finally had a common ground, the woman and the King. They wished to be rid of their memories and nightmares. And maybe they could do that once they reclaimed the mountain. Maybe they could do it together.

Thorin looked at her for the longest of times and found that she had raised her head defiantly at him. The fire was suddenly alight in her eyes again, much to the dwarf lord's relief. She seemed to be herself again.

"I am sorry." Ren felt her breathing catch in her throat for a moment as he said those words. Had she just heard him correctly?

"Excuse me?"

"I am apologizing. For ever questioning you about your life." He began, honesty showing in his eyes. "That is your business and your business alone. It was not my place to do so and for that, I am sorry. I promise it will not happen again." He bowed his head slightly to show that he was humbling himself to her. Ren only looked at the dwarf as if he had gone completely mad. She took a few, uncertain steps forward.

"Y-You're apologizing? To me?" She blinked a few times, trying to get the concept to successfully pass through her brain.

He bobbed his head. "Yes."

"Apology not accepted." Thorin looked up in shock, anger flashing through his eyes again.

"What?" He growled in disbelief, taking a threatening step towards her. After all he had done to try and look over her secretive past, she was not accepting his apology?

"Let me finish." The female warned him, a dangerous tone in her voice. He backed off a bit and inclined his head, motioning for her to continue. "I believe that our first meeting was a bit strained and unfortunately unexpected. So, if we may, to better the both of ourselves and the rest of the Company, can we simply start again?" She asked, her eyes taking on a warmer glow again as she hoped for the best.

Thorin straightened up from his slightly bowed position and cleared his throat before he adjusted his vest and tunic. "Very well."

"I am... Ren." She said simply, giving him an amused and slightly worried smile. Thorin waited with baited breath for the rest of her introduction, anxious to hear her place of birth and her parentage. However, her eyes held a bit of mischief in them as he looked up into their cool depths. And then he realized.

She was testing him of his most recent apology.

"Thorin Oakenshield, at your service, my lady." He replied with a bob of his head before he carefully reached out and took her hand into his own. Raising it to his lips, he placed a slow kiss upon the remarkably soft skin of her knuckles, only to look up and find an expectant look in her eyes.

"It's a pleasure to meet you." She replied back kindly, a seemingly different woman from a few minutes ago.

"No, the pleasure is all mine, my lady." The King told her.

"I hear you are going on a dangerous quest to Erebor to slay the dragon and take back your mountain...?" The blonde teased him and the dwarf couldn't help but let his lips quirk upward slightly.

"You heard correct, my lady."

"And it is safe to assume that you wish for me to continue with you on this quest and ask me to leave a place of safety to embark on this adventure of your's in the dead of night?"

He blinked in confusion, the slightly angry tone having come back into her voice. "I never said that we were leaving-"

"I have already spoken with Gandalf of the matter. I know you intend to escape through the mountain paths to continue on your way." The blonde told him, pulling her hand from his hold.

"You sound as though you wish to stay with the elves." She grew silent at that and she turned away from him, not wanting him to see the uncertain look in her eyes. Her hand came to lay on the large crystal towards the edge of the ridge where Elrond had read the map. "Would you stay?" He asked gently, stepping towards her. She said nothing for along while.

"Only if you did not want me in your Company any longer." The dwarf rolled her words around in his head for a moment, his hands clasping behind his back.

Together, they stared up at the crescent moon for what felt like eternity before Thorin decided to speak, his once bitter feelings towards the woman changing. For she had proven that she was just as loyal, full of honor, and had a willing heart as any of the other dwarves or hobbit.

"You have been and always will be welcome in my Company."

She turned to look at him, her blue eyes wide. She hadn't ever expected to hear those words ever escape his mouth. The dwarf lord himself turned to look at her, the corners of his mouth pulling upward slightly.

"But I have one condition..." He continued and she nodded her head, motioning for him to continue. "You have to promise that you will be more careful." He smiled slightly, knowing that she was nearly the opposite of careful. It seemed as though danger was a regular occurrence with the female.

Ren only sighed through her nose before her lips turned up slightly in a charade of fake innocence. "I have no idea what you're talking about..." She chuckled slightly before looking back at him.

"I'm sure you don't." He jested right back. Ren smiled to herself before looking down to the ground where her new boots still clung to her slim feet. She kicked at a stone and sent it tumbling over the side of the cliff and plummeting into the water far below.

The dwarf only looked at her face for a long moment and his eyes were drawn to the dark ring around her neck.

Finding courage within him, the dwarf lord reached out and gently brushed her hair back over her shoulder. He then allowed the pad of his thumb to touch along the black bruises. Ren jerked back slightly from his touch but did not move then.

"It still hurts then...?" It was more of a statement than a question directed towards her.

"It is not so bad." She told him quietly, her sapphire eyes once again downtrodden with sadness. "The healers here give me medicine that dulls the pain."

Using his thumb, he gently began to massage the area around the bruise as if he were trying to apologize to her physically and not verbally. "I now see that I reacted wrongly." He told her as he took a small step forward when he took note that her eyes had fallen shut. However, she did not move and Thorin raised his other hand up to join his first in rubbing the uninjured flesh. "I am sorry for doing this to you."

Ren had yet to open her eyes, for she was disturbingly enough enjoying the way his thumbs gently worked her neck while the rest of his fingers kneaded the back of her throat at her hairline.

"I have terms that must be met should I accept your apology." She breathed out as he continued to work her flesh. She allowed her head to loll back lightly in his hands.

"Such as?" With a groan, she raised her head and took hold of his wrists, tearing them away from her neck. She did not respond instead and she moved back a step. The King only frowned softly as he watched her. "What terms need to be-" Smack.

Thorin's head snapped to the side as her hand came into contact with his cheek. He was more stunned than in pain and he blinked a few times as he tried to comprehend what had just happened.

Mouth slightly agape in shock, he righted himself and stood up straight, his eyes wide as he gazed at the female.

"Apology accepted." Was all she said as she crossed her arms over her chest, a triumphant smirk upon her lips. "Don't let it happen again, or else this time, you will actually feel my wrath." He gazed at her for a long moment before he raised a hand up to feel his still stinging cheek, realizing why she had just slapped him. For revenge, in a sense. One corner of his own mouth pulled upward slightly and an amused snort came from his nose. "So, it is settled... We need to leave, yes?"

"What do you suggest?" He asked her, still cradling his now wounded cheek.

She paused for a moment as her thoughts began to race. The earlier it got in the morning, the greater the chance would be that they would be caught. As if that chance wasn't high enough already.

"Our best chance would be to leave under the cover of darkness. We can use the shadows to our advantage. So... now." She turned and left the dwarf standing by the cliffside.

"Wait, what? You mean... We're leaving now? In this particular moment?" He was taken aback by her abrupt change of mood.

"Elves are suspicious creatures, Thorin Oakenshield. If we wish to escape, which I know you wish to do, we need to leave while it is still dark!" She threw over her shoulder as she continued back towards the dark entrance.

"But what of your... family here?" He called back, remembering the twin elves and the dark haired boy he had saw with her earlier.

"I will see them again before I reach the end of my days..." She replied nonchalantly before continuing back towards the exit. For the moment, the dwarf chose to ignore her dark words. He was about to interject but then decided against it, remembering his apology.

Thorin quickly walked after her, his shorter legs struggling to keep up with her longer ones. He now knew how Bungo felt next to her long legged steed. It was miserable.

"You won't be missed?"

"They are elves. They have all eternity to wait and we do not." He looked up at her then to find a confident and if not slightly cocky smirk upon her lips.

"You're sure you know a way out of Rivendell?"

A bark of laughter escaped her lips. "Master Oakenshield, I escaped from Riveldell once. I'm sure that I can do it again."

Peering around the corner of the building, Ren darted out into the ever lightening corridor, thirteen dwarves and a hobbit following close behind her. It was still dark but it was nearing dawn as they fled through the quiet elvish settlement and Thorin could only trust in Ren's knowledge of her old home.

As they rounded another corner, a hand shot out and hauled the dwarf king back behind her, the male protesting quietly the entire way. He was about to snap at her when he stopped upon hearing voices echoing down the hallway.

Turning back to face the group, she pointed backwards and they all complied before moving back into the darker shadows to try and hide.

A troop of elves passed by and Ren's blue eyes narrowed on them as she held her breath. Waiting until they had vanished down another hallway, Thorin was about to step forward when she held her hand out before him.

"Wait." She told him quietly, knowing that there was a good chance that there were guards posted upon the rooftops of the elvish buildings.

Crouching low to the ground, she quickly darted out into the lighted courtyard until she was concealed by shadows once again. Diving into the shade of a tree, her sharp eyes scanned the tops of the buildings above her. She only caught sight of one of the guards and her mind reeled as she wondered how she would get out of this situation.

Suddenly, off in the distance, something metallic crashed to the ground and copious amounts of panicked elvish could be heard. But then she watched as two very familiar forms ran through the shadows, shouting in fear of themselves being caught.

Ren could only smile at the thought of the scolding that Elladan and Elrohir would receive when they were found and really, the shouting depended on what they had broken. As the two noisily ran by, it attracted the rooftop guard's attention and he shouted a warning in Sindarin before disappearing with the others.

Finding that their escape had just become much, much easier, she motioned for the dwarves to follow behind her. Thorin ushered everyone forward after meeting Ren's gaze.

Once they had crossed the open courtyard, they had once again reached a dark set of hallways. As they entered a dimly lit corridor, Thorin could only follow behind the blonde female seeing how the space was only wide enough for one person to walk through.

He nearly ran into her when she suddenly stopped as they stepped out into the lightening surroundings. She teetered on the edge of a cliff that dropped down for what seemed like forever, the small stones at her toes being pushed over the edge and falling to oblivion. The woman leaned back into him to get him to move so that she could step around the gaping hole.

Quickly moving to the side, Thorin followed her lead, as did the rest of the dwarves who quietly mumbled about if the woman knew her way around as well as she had told them beforehand.

"That cliff was not there the last time you visited?" He rumbled from behind her and she only glanced back over her shoulder at him, an amused look on her face as she stepped along the stone path.

"As a matter of fact, no. We still had a few feet before we actually fell last time I left Rivendell..." She explained and the corners of his lips turned up once again.

The blonde woman lead them up through the rocky terrain and out towards the border. She hurried them along, wanting to put as much distance between Rivendell and the Company as possible. She only hoped that Gandalf could keep the elves busy for that long, knowing that their loud and busy presence wouldn't be hard to miss.

When she glanced back, Thorin had stopped and was waiting for the other dwarves to pass so he could take up the rear. For the first time in awhile, he actually trusted her to lead them safely through the mountains.

"Master Baggins, I suggest you keep up." He warned the hobbit who had merely stopped to take one last look at Rivendell.

The group continued forward then with Ren at the point, seeing as how she was the only one who knew the way. However, the dwarves could now be carefree in their actions, knowing that they would not have to watch her to make sure she stayed on the correct path. They without a doubt, trusted her.

Her blue eyes sparkled with joy as she took in the lovely sights around them, her memory having forgotten of the grandeur of the mountainous region in which they traveled.

Eventually, the small path they were traveling on widened out and the dwarves were glad of that. Teetering on the small paths on the mountains was nerve racking beyond belief.

The stones eventually became a dry, golden grass as they came across a flatter part of their journey. This continued sight quickly became regular on their journey as three more days passed.

Although each day was as cheerful as the next, seeing as how they were free from the rules of Imladris and they had plenty of stolen food that could be passed around. Ren had been kind enough to show them the location of the no-longer-secret kitchen which was filled with the wonderful smells of rich deserts and soft breads.

They never ran into any other orcs during their travels between Rivendell and the Misty Mountains so the danger was at a new low. The most exciting thing that happened in those three days only consisted of a rabbit jumping from the bushes and scaring Dwalin out of his mind.

Of course, the rabbit was not alive for much longer and soon became part of their dinner that same night due to the sheer embarrassment that the warrior was now facing. When Ren herself had laughed at him, he had only turned to face her and with a warning in his tone told her to, "Shut it, Little Squirrel."

This caused the dwarves around them to nearly bust a gut with laughter, however, the woman herself was not so pleased with the nickname, having known that it was going to come back and haunt her.

They continued across the mountainous land between Rivendell and the Lonely Mountain for a few more days, the Company's feet began to drag, though, from the long hours of walking. Their backs were heavy with the supplies that they carried.

Ren herself even was weighed down with her own sack of supplies. On her person, she carried with her satchel, a bedroll, a bag with the contents of all her saddlebags, and a pack for food that was still full despite the fact that the Company had been free of civilization for days, and all her heavy weapons.

She, however, continued to trek on, knowing that they still needed to put distance between themselves and the elves that could quite possibly be following them.

At the beginning of the fourth day, they passed back into the shadow of the Misty Mountains. Some of the dwarves were grumbling about having to walk on the slim paths again but traveling in the mountains also provided some relief to the group.

At least it was shady and there were plenty of fresh creeks to drink from as they brought rain water down from the top of the mountain, at least giving them a solid drinking source.

Yet, that did not mean danger was ever present and Ren was completely aware of that fact and prayed to the Valar that they made it through the mountains safely.

You know what to do! Read and review!

You guys are so awesome! I got so many views and reviews! Not to mention that I have over 100 followers now! Woop woop!

I'm still also looking for an artist to do Ren artwork or Thorin artwork. I have one person who has started working on it and let me tell you, I can't wait! But still, it would be awesome if more people did it! The best one would become the cover for my story!

Plus, can anyone think of who Ren would look like if she was played by an actress? Leave it in a review!

Anyway, you guys are great again. Love you guys!



P.S. Keep up the good work readers and stay tuned!

P.S.S. The song that I imagined Ren dancing to was Promontory from Last of the Mohicans. There is also a great violinist named Taylor David who does a wonderful cover of it. Go listen.

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