To Your Mark

Chapter 43

The silence was thick around them as all fifteen members of the Company stared into the black maw that stood before them. The only audible sound around them was the noise of the wind as it moved through the valley below.

"Erebor." Thorin breathed in disbelief as he stood just before the door.

His young nephews were close behind him, both of them teeming with barely concealed excitement but also a bit of apprehension, given that one day, this would be their kingdom as well.

"Thorin..." Balin was right there as well and the white haired dwarf didn't know what to say, given that he had only imagined this very moment for so many years. The King only clapped his old friend on the shoulder, understanding passing between the two of them.

The dwarf lord turned back to the entrance before he slowly stepped through it.

"I know these walls." He said quietly, his voice sounding strange with new emotions, ones that he usually kept hidden from others. "These halls." He reached out and pressed his palm against the rugged stone upon the wall. "This stone." He leaned against the carved mountain for a moment before moving father into the tunnel. "Do you remember it Balin?" The dark haired male stopped before slowly turning back around, still in disbelief that they were even in the mountain as it were. "Chambers filled with golden light?"

"I remember." The other dwarf said still from outside, his voice thick with emotion. However, he recalled the two young dwarflings and stepped aside to allow them entrance first. Fili only looked to the white haired male with confusion and the King's advisor only bowed his head. "Go ahead, lads." He gestured toward the doorway, pride swelling in his chest to know that the very heirs he spent years teaching were about to take their first steps inside their once lost kingdom.

Swallowing nervously, the blond nodded his head nonetheless and took slow, hesitant steps toward the door until he too disappeared inside with Kili just a beat behind him.

Both stared around them in awe as they took in the rock walls around them, feeling the awesome weight of the mountain's majesty settling into their very souls and filling them with complete awe.

The rest of the group also moved inside after a few long moments, filing in one by one given that the passage was only so wide. All of them filled the tunnel and yet, Galaren remained outside the doorway, simply watching from the outside.

For you see now, she felt like an outsider.

Despite her having visited the mountain on more than one occasion in her younger days, she felt as though this was the dwarves' home only and that she did not want to disrupt the moment they had all anticipated since the beginning of their journey.

"Herein lies the Seventh Kingdom of Durin's Folk. May the Heart of the Mountain unite all Dwarves in defense of this home." Gloin's voice resonated through the cavern as he read the inscription above the doorway, a beautiful and rather detailed mural also etched into the hard stone.

"The Throne of the King." Balin explained to the hobbit who had a bemused look upon his face as he gazed at the image.

"Ah." The smaller creature bobbed his head in understanding, his hazel eyes scanning over the picture, finding that some sort of stone was shone in the depiction. "And what's that above it?"

"The Arkenstone."

"Arkenstone." The halfling let the name sink into his memory for future reference, figuring that it was rather important. "And... what's that?"

"That, Master Burglar, is why are here." Thorin murmured from further down the tunnel, where he had been staring off into the passage. He felt light, as if he were dreaming. He never thought the day would come. He never thought he would even live to see the day that the mountain was restored. But now, it was a possibility once again.

The dwarves all looked to the hobbit who felt panic wash through him. They all looked too expectant in that moment, as if he were going to suddenly withdraw the very gem from his pocket and present it to them.

He looked back to the King. "M-Me?" He blinked a few times, trying to grasp the entirety of the situation. "I'm supposed to find this... jewel?"

"It was stated in your contract."

At hearing his words, the hobbit felt his breath leave him. He hadn't ever paid much thought as to what would exactly happen once they got into the mountain, given that he thought that they wouldn't have even made it that far. Bilbo had been vaguely aware that he was to steal something but it had never come to pass that he was told what he was to steal.

"Can we just move back outside for a moment?" He asked the dwarves politely, feeling the familiar feeling of faintness beginning to wash over him. "I just need a bit of air. It's getting a bit thin in here."

Exchanging looks between them, the dwarves gave uncertain nods of understanding before they began to move back outside the tunnel, not wanting him to sudden keel over and faint just like he had done all those long months ago back at Bag End.

Even those few short days ago when he was thought it silly to fall unconscious, here he was, facing the same embarrassment he first encountered when he met the dwarves.

When Bilbo finally made it back outside, he took in a deep breath of air, instantly feeling the faintness beginning to pass. He went to stand more off to the side of the group where the air was fresher and there was well, let's be completely honest, less dwarves.

Kili and Fili themselves emerged from the entrance, the older of the two still looking skeptically to the mountain behind them.

Thorin was the last to emerge and when he did so, he only paused in the doorway, his hands bracing themselves on either side of the stone walls. His eyes rose to look at the pale moon in the sky to scoff at it because of the trickery dealt to him but before he could, he caught sight of something else that caused him to pause a moment.

The rest of the Company was also quiet as they stood around in an arch with a break in the middle so as to not block the King's view of her.

She was currently facing away from them and standing impossibly still as if she had been turned to stone, silent as the valley of which she stared down upon. Her long hair fluttered about her person as she stood, hand resting on the hilt of her sword as she mulled over the numerous thoughts coursing through her mind.

The King took a few steps back out into the night, his pace slow and cautious so as to not startle her.

"Where do we go from here?" Her voice was the first to break through the silence surrounding the group. The female stood still for another moment or two before she slowly turned her head back to face him, her sapphire irises full of worry.

"Master Baggins will enter the mountain and find the Arkenstone." The blonde just gazed at him for what felt like an eternity and Thorin felt frustration sweep through him when he saw the shift in her eyes. He knew that it would not be so simple.

"We should wait for Gandalf." She protested his words, a strange glint in her eyes. "Now that we have the door open, we have all the time in the world on our hands."

"It has been days since the wizard should have arrived." The King told her, taking a few steps closer. "And yet, he is not here."

Gazing at the dwarf for a long moment, a new fire lit in her eyes and suddenly, with a determination in her shoulders, she undid the buckle upon the belt holding her coat closed around her. Shrugging out of the warm clothing, she tossed both items back toward her things where she left them. She undid her sword belt as well and handed it to Balin who stood beside her. The dwarf accepted the weapon, a questioning look in his eyes, one that Ren didn't see due to the fact that she was untying her leather vest before tossing it to the side as well.

"What are you doing?" Thorin asked her, watching as she then moved to her things and began digging inside of her rucksack.

"I'm going with Bilbo." Galaren replied, her arm reaching down into the very bottom of her bag where she had kept a spare tunic, very similar to the one she wore now though it was a deep red in color and didn't quite cover her throat as much as the last had. "If he is to venture in alone, I will accompany him." She then hauled her own tunic up over her head, leaving her standing in only her black undershirt and trousers. "And I can't be smelling of dwarves when I do so."

Slipping the long, red tunic over her head it came to settle nicely about her person. Picking up her sword and scabbard, she fastened it back in place around her midsection.

"No." The dwarf lord told her lowly, a warning lingering in his tone. "You will remain out here with the rest of us."

"No." Ren replied back more firmly than Thorin had, taking a small, almost predatory step towards him. "If he is to go down into that mountain, I will be by his side." She inclined her head in the direction of the halfling. "Do you have any objections, Master Baggins?"

"Oh, uh..." He held up his index finger as if to make a point but fell silent when the she-elf cast him a threatening look, one that momentarily quieted him. "N-No. I have no objections."

"So, it's settled then." The female nodded her head.

"This matter is not settled in the slightest." The King growled back, his eyes momentarily flashing to Bilbo who shrank back behind his nephews. "What makes you qualified to fulfill this part of the quest?" He asked her in a quieter tone, having stepped closer to her. "You have done enough, let someone else carry this burden." The dwarf urged her lowly, not wanting to show his worriment so openly to his men.

"If anything, this part of the quest is what I was brought here for." She replied back cooly, her eyes holding his for only a moment. Her words caused confusion within the rest of the group, all of them exchanging curious glances. The blonde woman only shook her head, knowing that this was one of the final secrets she had yet to share with the Company. "I swear, I have one conversation and a tussle with a cold drake and suddenly I'm an expert on dragons."

"Cold drake?" Balin asked, his bushy brows furrowing at her words.

The woman turned from Thorin to look at him, bobbing her head slowly to confirm his question. "Though, I don't really know if he would be classified as a cold drake. He could breath fire as well."

The King only narrowed his eyes at her words, wondering what exactly she was speaking of but then realization suddenly dawned on him, causing his brow to relax momentarily.

"The burn covering your shoulder." He spoke quietly, remembering having seen it all those months back in Rivendell when they had first made up with each other. The blonde reluctantly nodded her head, her eyes now closed. "That was from... a cold drake?" She didn't respond for a moment and he continued. "That was from a dragon?"

"You'd be surprised how much ice can burn like fire." Was all she said, her hand subconsciously feeling the scar that lingered their, the burning sensation she felt all those years ago coming back renewed.

"You've slain dragons?" Kili asked her quietly, wondering why she had never told them any of this before. Out of all the stories she had told him and his brother, she had neglected to tell them this one?

"Only one." She murmured, her thoughts momentarily flickering back to the white dragon. Guilt washed through her then, knowing instead that she should have ended it before he could suffer. "Though it was only because of technicalities."

"What do you mean?" Fili asked, just as intrigued as his sibling was.

"I... I blinded him." The she-elf spoke softly, knowing that what she had done was wrong and inhumane. "And he starved to death because of his disability." The entire Company was silent as they listened to her explain. "I couldn't finish it though. I couldn't kill him; Silvran."

"He had a name?" The brunet dwarf asked.

"All dragons have a name, Kili." She clarified, her voice still soft with evident guilt. "But I couldn't end his suffering because I was weak."

"You were burned." Thorin defended her, finding it strange that she felt such guilt for killing one of the winged beasts. All they ever did was cause chaos in the world, always pillaging villages and eating livestock. "With ice-fire no less."

It was quiet then for a long moment, the wind only whipping around them.

"I saw him." It was Ren's voice that broke the tense silence, her voice sounding a bit hoarse when she spoke. "In Valinor, I saw the cold drake I killed." The entirety of the group only bowed their heads, her sadness seeming to radiate through all of them. "I saw all the dragons that have been killed. Some of them hatchlings. Some of them adults."

"Aye but the beasts only cause trouble in our world." Dwalin spoke up, crossing his arms over his chest.

"In who's opinion?" She turned towards him, her eyes suddenly flashing with anger. "The way we view them, yes, they are monsters. Killing living things and coveting gold." The blonde allowed her eyes to drift from every member of the group, wanting to make sure they all heard her words and thoroughly thought about them. "But don't the races of Man, Dwarf, Elf, and Hobbit also when presented with the opportunity?" Her words sinking in, none of them uttered a word. "We kill innocent livestock to eat. We take gold that is sometimes not our own?" Shen then fixed her cool gaze once again upon Dwalin who didn't seem fazed much yet there was a different glimmer in his eyes. "So what makes them so different from us?"

And with those words, she placed her hand on the hilt of her sword and moved back towards the mountain. "Come on, Bilbo."

"Galaren." She suddenly felt a thick hand close around her free wrist, causing her to stall in place. The elf slowly turned her head back to look at Thorin, his hand the one gripping so tightly to her. Her eyes flickered up to his pale blue eyes. "I need to speak with you." Feeling her annoyance getting the best of her, she inclined her head slightly as if telling him that he should speak with her now. "Alone."

Not waiting for her to answer, he released his grip on her arm and instead took hold of her hand, their fingers twining together. He walked passed her and began to tug her back towards the entrance.

And then, just like he had promised Balin, Thorin led Ren by hand into the mountain though it had not been on the terms he had so imagined.

When they were then shrouded in the darkness, the King released her hand and stepped away from her. For you see, he was struggling to control his emotions and rein them in. He feared that he would lash out if he didn't. Instead, he braced his hand upon the carved stone wall and slowly began to walk down the passage, not even bothering to risk a glance back at the female.

"It's everything I dreamed about." The dwarf murmured, his hand gently brushing over the stone. "Everything and more." He admitted eventually, his voice rumbling off the stone around them. And yet, she could not see his face, therefore making it harder for her to read his emotions. "For when I imagined completing such a quest, I never even considered having the most beautiful creature in all Middle Earth by my side."

As he said his words, he looked back over his shoulder at her, her silhouette illuminated by the moon streaming in through the entrance. Much to his enjoyment, he watched as a faint blush dusted her her cheeks and his chest swelled in pride now that he knew that he could cause such a reaction within her with mere words.

He also couldn't help it when his eyes drifted to the braid woven into her hair with his bead secured on the end. This small little token stated to all that she was taken. That she was his and was rightfully no one else's to have.

Or at least, that was how it was in his own mind.

She leaned up against the mountain wall, her arms crossing themselves over her chest as she allowed her face to tilt downward and away from him. Her brow was furrowed softly as she gazed down at her boots.

"What is wrong, my love?" He asked her quietly, his voice taking on a much gentler tone. He reached out and pinched her thick braid between his fingers before pulling it gently downward, the pads moving gently over the dips present there. When he reached the end, he reached up and cupped her chin in his palm. She shook her head slightly, dismissing his request as she lifted her head from his grasp as if the entire idea was absurd. This only caused the dwarf to frown more deeply. "Is it the dragon you are concerned about?" She didn't respond, instead choosing to look away from him. "Galaren, tell me."

"I feel... like I should not be here." She told him honestly, her voice soft. "I feel like I should not be intruding on your kingdom, on your home." At her words, his jaw clenched and he ever so slightly straightened out his back. So, that was what was bothering her.

"If you do recall, we both signed a contract back at Bag End." Thorin began, his voice rumbling through his chest as he spoke, commanding her attention and she turned back to face him. "Stating that as your payment, you would receive a place in my halls after we secured the mountain."

"That was before you were aware that I was an elf." Ren fired right back, her sapphire irises steeling slightly. "A human woman living among dwarves is not so questionable. But an elf maiden, well..." She sighed deeply, her shoulders slumping slightly. "That's a scandal."

"It was not stated in the contract what people you belonged to. It was just you as a person." He told her, continuing with their mild argument. "And on another note, I do not care what others think." He told her quietly, his voice once again softening. Upon hearing his words, the woman looked up, her sapphire irises wide at the admittance. He brushed a few strands of hair behind her ear before cupping her cheek in his rough palm. With a shuttering sigh of relief, she leaned into his touch as her eyes slid closed. For it felt as if the whole weight of the world had been lifted off her shoulders. "I only care what you think."

"Okay." The woman replied softly, her eyes slowly opening to reveal her marvelous irises underneath. A small smile now tugged at the corners of her mouth, showing him that their little fight was nothing more than just a ruffling of feathers and nothing more.

Much to his delight, he found that the ground beneath them was uneven and the lady was standing in a hole, whereas he was on the higher ground. This allowed them to see eye to eye for literally and figuratively the first time ever and he leaned against the wall before her.

"You know that I love you and I will always love you and only you." He told her, taking a step closer to her until he rested his forehead against her own. He gently held her smaller fingers with just his forefinger and thumb. "And I will remind you every moment of the day if I have to."

The two of them stared into each others eyes for a long moment, love and adoration shinning in both their irises. Ren herself as if she wanted to simply drop to the ground and weep with happiness and relief. Relief that finally, someone loved her as much as she loved them.

And then, Thorin ever so slightly angled his head and their lips just met.

The first few brushes were only that, chaste and yet so sweet at the same time. As time progressed, however, the dwarf released hold of her hands and raised his own pair up to cup both sides of her face, pulling her closer so that their mouths could retain stronger contact.

A soft, almost inaudible whimper came from the blonde woman, only urging the King forward.

For you see, he knew that she still doubted his emotions for her. And she always would doubt him. It was just in her nature to disbelieve that someone such as he loved someone so damaged and wary as her.

But, the dwarf would always be more than happy to show her just how much he loved her, whether it be in material goods, physical affections, or by just using his words.

Sliding one hand down around her waist, the other tangled back into her hair and he deepened the kiss further between them, the soft, quick pecks now becoming long and slow embraces that left them both wanting more of each other. And then, all at once, their kisses returned to the gentle pecks that they were before until they stopped entirely, leaving both of them staring into the others eyes.

"Please do not go into the mountain." The dwarf suddenly begged her, his voice full of quiet pleading. "I cannot lose you again."

"I have to do this, Thorin." She told him quietly, reaching up to gently stroke his bearded cheeks. In his eyes, worry was clearly evident and for a moment, Ren was scared but it was only because the King himself was so scared. Never before had she seen him like this and it terrified her. "Both for the sake of the Company and to put my own mind at ease. I made a promise to both Bilbo and myself that I would let no harm come to him and I mean to see that promise fulfilled."

"Galaren-"

"If anyone should be going into Erebor it should be me." She interrupted him, placing her index over his lips to keep him quiet. His arms only rested upon her waist and he was obedient in his silence. "My feet are the quietest out of all the Company members, including Master Baggins." The blonde woman only sighed before giving him a weak smile. "Besides, all along, I think Gandalf planned for me to become a burglar as well given my... experiences... with thievery, evidently." At her words, the dwarf lord chuckled, his lips quirking ever so slightly.

"Always the troublemaker."

"To the very end of my days." She promised him playfully, though her words caused the smile to slowly dissipate from his lips. The she-elf sobered just after he did, finding that perhaps she had not chosen her words correctly. She leaned back slightly, her hands sliding down his chest to toy with the fringe on his coat. Her eyes, however, remained on him.

"At the first sign of the beast, you run." He whispered to her, his tone once again pleading her as his irises searched her own pair. She slowly nodded her head in understanding.

Without warning, he pulled her towards him by her waist and crushed her to his broad chest, his large hands rising instead to rest with one between her shoulder blades, the other on her lower back. Galaren herself wrapped her arms around his neck, holding herself even closer to him because, despite acting calm, she was completely scared as well. Scared that she would never see the Company again. Scared that she wouldn't see her boys. And all together terrified that she would never see her Thorin again.

The King pressed a soft kiss to the bare skin where her shoulder met her neck. "You will come back to me." He whispered against her flesh as he still held her.

"I will." The elleth murmured, her hands retracting to lightly rest on his chest.

The dark haired dwarf only gazed at her for a long moment before he released her completely. Watching him with confusion, Ren only frowned as he began to work the smaller of his two rings from his hand. When he got it off his finger, he extended his hand and the female held out her own palm. Wordlessly, Thorin pressed it into her skin.

"I want that ring back." He told her, his voice full of a strange sternness. "For it is something very precious to me." Again, the woman only nodded her head, knowing that he was silently making her promise to return alive and well.

"What do the runes mean?" She turned it over in her palm, her curiosity getting the best of her.

"It is my initials. TO. Thorin Oakenshield. But, the ring itself is only what is, in all actually, of importance." He told her, taking her hand and curling her fingers around the little item. "It was the first thing Frerin forged when I taught him about smithing."

At hearing his words, the she-elf brought her fist to cover her heart, showing him that it meant so much of her to give up something that was so special to him. A small smile pulled back her lips and her eyes drifted down to her boots as she absentmindedly slipped the ring onto her thumb, tucking it beneath the leather of the gauntlet that wrapped around her fingers.

"I suppose, you best be off then?" He told her quietly, his voice once again taking on a more diplomatic tone.

The she-elf only snorted quietly through her nose, the corners of her mouth pulling up more and she leaned forward to place one last chaste kiss upon his lips. The dwarf's eyes closed at the contact but just as quickly as she was there, she was gone.

Brushing by him, she moved back down the tunnel to retrieve the hobbit who was still waiting patiently outside.

Emerging back out into the moonlight, she found their burglar standing where she only just had been. He was staring down into the mountain, his shoulders obviously tense.

"Master Baggins." She called to him as she ducked through the doorway. At her sudden appearance, all the dwarves turned and looked at her, as did her halfling companion. He startled slightly when she called to him, his eyes wide with fear. Internally, she could only sigh, knowing that the next task presented to them was not going to be a simple one. "It's time."

For a moment, the smaller creature didn't move.

"I'll come with you, laddie." Balin murmured, clapping Bilbo's shoulder before giving him a light push to get him to walk forward.

Thorin also came through the doorway, his eyes glancing over the Company for a moment before they rested upon the female who stood just beside the door. Having heard what she said, he reached out one final time and gave her braid a gentle tug of affection.

The she-elf only sent him a firm nod before ducking back inside the mountain with Bilbo and Balin both behind her.

The three of them walked for sometime through the tunnel, each step taking them deeper into the mountain.

Ren took note that the further they got, the warmer it seemed to become. No doubt the thick stone still held the warmth from the summer months inside of Erebor's halls.

They soon came to one of the first of many corners and the female wrapped her hand around the hilt of her sword, just as a precaution. Allowing it to rest there, she carefully peered around the wall and found that the stretch before them was just as uninhabited as the first.

"You want us to find... a jewel?" Bilbo stalled for a moment, waiting behind the corner as the other two beings stepped out into the open tunnel before them. For now that the coast was clear, the elleth allowed herself a bit of time to relax given that they were in no immediate danger.

"A large white jewel, yes." The white haired dwarf told them, eyeing the lady who took a few more steps further down the passage, her head tilted to the side slightly as if listening.

"T-That's it? I imagine that there are quite a few down there." The halfling replied, also watching Galaren's strange behavior.

"There is only one Arkenstone. You'll know it when you see it."

"What shape is it?" The blonde elf threw back over her shoulder, her hand once again resting on the hilt of her sword. It was just a precaution but still, it made her feel that much better.

"Perfectly oval in shape. Smooth as a babe's backside." Balin told them, taking a few steps down the hall after the female. "In truth, lad. I don't know what you will find down there." Taking note of the thick swallow he gave, as well as the fearful look upon his face, the dwarf felt sympathy for his companion. "You needn't go if you don't want to. There's no dishonor in turning back."

However, as he looked to their female friend, he knew that it did little good to try and convince her to turn back. He knew that she had already exchanged words with Thorin and after a few minutes of discussion, the dwarf lord seemed reluctant to let her go but still allowed it.

"No, Balin." The halfling spoke, though his tone came out shakier than he imagined. "I promised I would do this and I think I must try."

At hearing what the burglar had to say, the white haired dwarf let out a few soft laughs of disbelief before he shook his head. "It never ceases to amaze me."

"What's that?"

"The courage of hobbits." He shook his head again and Bilbo himself could only let out a breathy laugh. "Go now with as much luck as you can muster." He clapped him on the shoulder again and his eyes moved to the lady who was now looking back at them. "And, my lady..." He placed his arm across his stomach and gave her a proper bow. "I wish you all the luck as well."

She smiled back at him, her sapphire irises even then shinning in the gloom. "Thank you, Balin."

Allowing her gaze to shift to Bilbo, she gave him a small nod. He swallowed thickly again before returning the gesture and moving down the hall to stand beside her.

"Oh and one more thing..." Both creatures turned back to face the dwarf. "If there is, in fact... a, um, live dragon down there..." Beside her, Ren swore she could hear the hobbit's heart pounding in his chest. "Don't waken it."

Bilbo only bobbed his head before taking a few slow steps down the stairs before them, peeking around the corner. However, he stopped and turned around, his index finger raised to ask a question but he found that Balin was already gone, the tail of his red coat the last thing he saw disappearing behind the corner.

Exchanging a nervous look with the elf, she only took in a deep breath and gave him a firm nod. Moving passed him, she rounded the corner and together, the two of them plunged further into the passage into Erebor.

"Hello?" Bilbo breathed out quietly into the vast cavern before him. Both him and Ren held their breath for a moment, waiting for a dragon to suddenly emerge and devour the both of them in one gulp. "You think we should knock?"

"If you think it's appropriate..." The female murmured sarcastically as she moved out further out into the cave, her ears pricked as she listened for any sign of movement among the gold.

There was suddenly a quiet raping of knuckles upon thick stone which grew ten times louder in noise as it echoed throughout the vast cavern.

Out of instinct, both her hands shot down to her sword, one taking hold of the scabbard while the other grasped the handle of the blade. She even withdrew the sword a few inches but she froze then, making no sudden movements as the noise continued to sound through the mountain halls.

After all had fallen silent, the she-elf remained still before her head snapped accusingly back to the hobbit who stood back behind one of the walls of the secret entrance, a fearful look upon his face. Not because of the dragon per say but because of what the woman might do to him.

"See? No one's at home." The halfling came waltzing out into the vast cavern to stand beside the blonde. "Good." Together, the two of them walked further out onto the landing of what appeared to be a stairwell though the female was still eyeing him angrily. "Good. Good. Go-"

Bilbo felt his words leave him as his eyes cast themselves upon the sea of shinning gold before him. His breath also came out in short puffs while the woman beside him was silent in her own awe.

"That's a... tremendous... amount of gold." She breathed after a long moment, the smaller creature by her side numbly nodding his head in agreement with her. "And we have to find one tiny stone in that..."

The burglar only nodded again. "Might as well get to it." He sighed deeply as he placed his hands on his hips. "Only the Gods know how long we'll be down here."

Ren herself bobbed her head in understanding before turning and making her way down the carved steps, her feet light on the stone beneath her boots. Her actions, Bilbo noticed, were all very cautious yet at the same time, calculated, as if she always paused to think before taking her next step.

The thought of the dragon was always on her mind, he supposed. And yet, the mountain was quiet.

When they reached the bottom of the staircase, the she-elf grit her teeth as she stepped lightly down onto the very beginnings of the sea of golden coins and other treasure.

There was only a soft crunching, one that was only noticeable if you listened hard enough but for the most part, she remained amazingly quiet in her steps.

The hobbit himself stepped down into the mass of coins and he cursed internally as a resounding crunch of metal upon metal could be heard. Wrinkling his nose in anticipation of either being eaten or scolded, he looked to his female companion to find that she was only staring back at him with wide eyes, worry evident in the familiar blue depths.

However, when the halls of Erebor once again proved to be silent, the elleth held her hand out and gestured for him to move forward.

He did so but he let out little grunts of frustration as he began to slip and slide on the shifting surface of coins, causing a multitude of the shinning pieces to clink loudly as they tumbled down the large mountain they were walking on. Ren paid little mind to the noisy coins and instead, kept her ears trained for any sounds of something larger in the Lonely Mountain with them.

Proceeding further out into the sea of treasure, neither of them were so immensely worried about the noise created by the coins, given that so far, Bilbo had done a fine job of making a racket and they had yet to even hear a rumble from their fiery host.

As the she-elf cast her eyes around the room, she searched for any glimmer of light catching in a stone and found many colored gems, including a few white ones, but they failed to spark that feeling of awestruck that Balin had described to them.

Hearing another rustling of stone upon stone, the female glanced back over her shoulder and found her companion digging through a chalice filled with small crystals, evidently beginning his search right then and there. Finding that they weren't to his taste, he reached out and picked up a larger diamond, only to find that it also lacked the majesty that they had been told about.

And what did Balin classify as large?

Because the burglar picked up an immensely large, translucent crystal beside the smaller one he had previously found. Yet, something about them didn't call out 'Arkenstone!' to either of the creatures.

"What's that?" He examined the bigger one more closely, shaking it slightly because he swore he heard something. In the end, however, he decided that it also was not the gem he was looking for and unceremoniously tossed it over his shoulder.

The she-elf had only been standing guard while he searched but looked back at him in the nick of time and was able to save the crystal from clattering onto the rest of the coins and making a huge ruckus.

"Master Baggins, I would be more considerate of the noise level if I were you!" She hissed back at him before gently placing the crystal back down upon the pile of gold.

"Sorry!" He whispered back. "My mistake!" And he went back to digging through the pile. "Won't happen again... I hope."

Finding that this area most definitely didn't contain what they were looking for, they continued up the mountain of treasure; coins, chalices, and jewelry clattering loudly beneath their feet the entire time.

It was a wonder they hadn't woken the dragon yet.

"Arkenstone..." The smaller creature breathed, his head on a swivel as he searched for the item. "A large, white jewel." Both looked up and down the vast cavern before them, finding nearly the entirety of it covered in the precious metals and stones. "Very helpful."

The female couldn't help but grin slightly at his words.

However, the creature reached out and took hold of another large, golden cup and pulled it free from the pile, only causing the coins once lying above it to shower downward towards him, creating a huge noise that caused the burglar to freeze in place. The elf herself remained still, watching as the golden pieces tumbled passed her ankles like a babbling brook.

Slowly turning around, she raised her eyes up to see how far up the mountain the gold was coming from but she instead felt her blood freeze in her veins and her hair stand on end.

The pile of treasure slowly tumbled away to reveal the large scaly eye beneath and the woman was at least thankful that it was still closed despite the fact that they had in fact found the dragon. They had found Smaug.

They weren't quite dead yet.

Bilbo let out a quiet squeak and immediately ducked behind the pillar they had been standing by. Ren didn't move in the slightest, her sapphire eyes wide as she gazed at the slumbering creature.

Then, without warning, the beast exhaled, causing hot air and coins to shoot up into the air.

Galaren's head snapped back as the hot steam just grazed the side of her face. She managed to keep herself quiet despite nearly being startled to death and she also slunk quietly back to hide beside her hobbit companion. Having hidden behind the carven column for a moment, the she-elf swallowed nervously as she exchanged a look with the burglar.

Glancing back behind the corner to find that that he was still asleep, she lightly pushed Bilbo in the other direction, hoping that they could somehow find an exit without waking their unsuspecting host.

However, both stalled in place once again when the gold a good distance across the cavern shifted and more scales were revealed to them. Both silently deduced that it was no doubt his tail that was shifting beneath the treasure and the halfling only looked to his elven companion for a long moment, knowing for a fact that perhaps they had underestimated the drake's size.

Gritting her teeth in concentration and slight frustration, the female inclined her brows and slowly began making her way back down the pile of treasure. Taking Bilbo's sleeve into her hand, she pulled him behind her but once again, both creatures froze in place as the dragon shifted among his horde, growing ever closer to them.

For a long moment, both held their breath in what could only be described as anticipation of their demise or rather, the small ember of hope that they would not in fact, be incinerated.

However, when the beast began to open its eye, the burglar yanked the woman down behind a pile of gold with him, sending the jewels and coins scattering noisily. Nonetheless, they were hidden from view.

Ren lay on her stomach, her left eye only just peeking around the side of the pile to find that the beast was now awake, seeing as how a huge golden eye stared unseeing out across his empty halls.

Unsure of how to get out of a situation as such, the female only glanced sideways at the hobbit and found that he held the strange ring from before in his fingers, his gaze transfixed upon it.

"Put on the ring." She hissed toward him quietly and when she heard more shifting of gold on gold, she glanced back to find the fire drake wakening further. "Bilbo, put on the ring!"

He only looked at her for a long moment before situating it over his finger and before she could process what she was doing, the female was reaching out and grasping tightly to the hobbit's coat.

A weird sensation suddenly washed over her and she breathed deeply, her sapphire eyes wide when she realized how strange her body felt. Almost as if it were made of air but at the same time, solid and wholesome.

A few resounding sniffs were heard that echoed throughout the cavern and both companions only exchanged a look with each other before Ren reached down, without letting go of Bilbo's coat, and took hold of his hand. Squeezing his smaller appendage in reassurance, she nodded her head and the two of them slowly got to their feet without releasing hands, careful not to disturb the treasure around them.

And there they where, two seemingly tiny figures standing before a great and mighty beast that could eat the both of them in one swallow, if he could see them, that is.

"Well..." The dragon growled out in a deep voice, his eyes trained on one spot as if he could see them. "Thief. I smell you." He got closer to them and both the hobbit and the elf ducked down and out of the way. "I hear your breath. I feel your air." The beast allowed all the gold to slide off his body as he rose up from what used to be his bed. "Where are you...?" Both of them held their breath as he came nearly nose to nose with them. "WHERE ARE YOU?!"

And with that, Bilbo was racing down the pile of treasure, taking the female with him. Almost stumbling and tripping a multitude of times, the dragon pursued them, now having heard exactly which way they were going. At one point, the hobbit did fall but the female quickly yanked him to his feet and they continued to race down the mountain of gold.

However, they had to stop when the drop off became too steep, leaving them with no place to go but to turn back and face the dragon.

"Come now, don't be shy..." He cooed, his head on a swivel now that the thief's footsteps had gone silent. He came ever closer to them and this only caused the both of them to panic. "Step into the light."

And he came so close to the pair that they took a step back, momentarily forgetting the slight drop off.

Bilbo only let out a squeak as the coins beneath his feet slipped off the hard stone and before he knew what was happening, he was tumbling down the pile once again.

"Bilbo!" Ren hissed in worry from the top, having only watched as the coins shifted where ever he was at, given that he was still invisible due to his magic ring. But, wait. If Bilbo had the ring... and he was sent tumbling down the mountain, meaning that she wasn't holding onto him anymore...

A terrible thought occurred to her right then as a huge shadow passed over her form.

Swallowing thickly, the she-elf steeled herself before ever so slowly turning to look behind her, her sapphire irises widening with pure fear as she took in the sight before her.

"There you are, little thief." He cooed as he towered above her, his lips drawn back over his teeth, giving her the impression that he was smiling down at her. His breath smelled of death and no doubt a number of other foul things that made her cringe.

Riddles. She reminded herself as she licked her lips nervously, seeing as how they had become immensely dry in a matter of moments. Showing no fear and riddles.

"I am no thief." Ren managed to get out, her voice surprisingly steady despite the barely contained fear that she was currently feeling. "For, I did not come here to steal from you."

"Indeed?" He hissed, circling around her slightly as if he were a serpent curling in on its prey. "Then, why are you here...?"

"I was only a curious little thing." She told him, taking a few steps back when he brought his face closer to her person. She held her hands out to try and stop him and his muzzle came very close to her hands but never touched her. "I only grew up hearing tales of the mountain and wanted to see if the legends of the halls filled with... golden light... were true."

"And do the legends even compare with the grandeur of my treasure?" He purred, watching her intently with his large eyes as she shook her head nervously. "Intriguing..." He mused, his talons digging into the gold as he pulled himself closer to her. "And where does this curious little thing come from, I wonder?"

"I hail not from one place but from many." The blonde fired back, continuing to take steps backwards as he continued to pursue her. "Perhaps the term nomad would be preferable to aimless traveling?"

"Nomad...?" Smaug tested the word out on his tongue to see if it was to his liking. He hummed and it felt as if all the air in the chamber vibrated. "A wandering little creature then..." Ren froze as her back suddenly met solid stone and she glanced back, only to find that he had backed her up against a pillar. Dread settled in her chest as she felt the heat radiating off him. "Though a marvelous little creature at that."

He allowed his chin to rest upon the mountain of gold so that he could get a closer look at her or rather, appraise her.

Strangely enough, her cheeks flushed a bright red beneath the creature's intense gaze and her eyes directed themselves down and off to the side. "It's strange..." She breathed, wondering why she was suddenly reacting so oddly as she gazed back at him. "I've never heard of a dragon imparting flattery upon anyone." The aforementioned beast only raised what have been his brow in interest, his lips curling back in a small smirk. "Usually by now, one would suspect to be eaten instead of being complimented."

"That is utter nonsense, little one." He purred down at her, his voice deep and resounding as it echoed throughout the cavern. "A jewel like yourself would not be wasted so carelessly." Once again, Ren felt her cheeks warm. "A fine gem indeed with skin of ivory, hair of silken gold, and two eyes of wondrous sapphire. And a jewel like you should be owned... possessed."

She felt her brow twitch with annoyance at his words.

"I am not owned by anyone or thing." She growled, her eyes hardening with her anger as she felt courage bubble up into her heart. "I am a living breathing creature that lives by my own free will and does as I please."

Without warning, the dragon suddenly blew fire at her and the she-elf clamped her eyes shut tight and prepared for the pain. However, she only felt a soft warmth pass over her skin and after a moment, cracked one eye open to gaze at the beast, finding that he was smirking at her. It was at this point that she realized that he was toying with her... just as Silvran had.

"You will make a fine addition to my collection." He cooed at her before drawing back slightly. The female took this as an opportunity to slip by the pillar so that she was no longer trapped. "A living, breathing gem." As she rounded the corner of the column, she came face to face with the drake again. She skidded to a stop in her tracks. "My own little... pet if you would."

"I hate to be rude but I'm afraid I must decline your very tempting offer, o Smaug the... Obsessively Wealthy." She murmured the last part so it was more to herself as she ran for cover any place she could find. However, the ground shook as the beast came after her.

"You seem familiar with my name but you won't tell me yours?" Suddenly appearing out of nowhere, the dragon blocked her path and the female skidded to a halt once again and she suddenly understood what it felt like for a mouse to be chased by a cat.

"My n-name is Ren." She managed to murmur out and then something shimmered in the corner of her eye, causing her breath to leave her. There, among the numerous gold coins and jewelry, was a white gem that shone as if a rainbow was alight inside.

"And where does my little pet come from?" The drake asked, causing the female to glance up at him before swallowing thickly, knowing that it was what the Company had come all this way for. "For everyone, even dragons, have their beginnings."

"I come from..." She slowly began to move towards the Arkenstone, hoping that her actions weren't too noticeable. "...among the trees"

"How quaint." He purred, his large eyes watching her closely. He circled around her with his large body, only allowing her a tiny exit to escape through where the tip of his tail didn't quite reach his body.

"And from beneath the canopy of leaves." She continued, her eyes continuously moving between the stone and the drake. "And over hills, through valleys, and between worlds, I walk silently."

He only gazed down at her for a moment before his lips drew back in a slow smirk. "Judging by your ears, I can only deduce that you are one of the... elven folk." Slowly continuing forward, her eyes continuously flicked back and forth between the jewel and the creature.

"Your skills of observation are unmatched O Smaug the... Imperious." Again, she murmured the last part to herself, her eyes lingering for a long moment on the Arkenstone.

"But tell me, what else does my little pet claim to be, besides a wanderer?"

"You mean you don't want to only imagine what I'm capable of?" She asked him, tilting her head to the side slightly. Perhaps if she played her cards right, she could make it out of this alive and with Thorin's rock.

"I see humor is one of your finer traits..." He chuckled and the air shook with the noise, causing the woman to momentarily stall in place. "Entertain me further, pet."

"I am an... ambassador." She was so close now, the stone was nearly five feet away. "A warrior..." He growled low in his chest at her response but she held her hands up to defend herself. "A warrior who only fights to protect herself..." The beast raised his brows when he heard that response but he had long ago taken notice of her sword. Glancing up at him again, she knew that her next answer could really be both bad and good for her. "A princess."

The dragon perked right up at that answer, an interested hum coming from his throat. Lowering his head down so that it rested on the gold just before her, he gazed at her intently with his large eye.

"Hmm..." Once again, the air around her vibrated. "Yes, I can see it now. No wonder you are such a work of beauty." Raising his head back up, he only gazed down upon her. "Beautiful, a warrior, and a princess no less." However, as he continued to gaze at her, his eyes narrowed on her form as if sensing something. "But, there is something about you that is different..." It almost appeared as if his eyes were glowing at this point and Galaren only furrowed her brow and she even took a small step back. "As if there is a mark upon your soul."

The female didn't say anything but her once fearful sapphire irises began to harden, showing the true warrior that she claimed she was.

"Like what kind of mark?" She asked him, her voice echoing throughout the hall with confidence. The she-elf even took a small step towards him, her hands clenched into fists. "Like the kind of mark dragon-fire would leave?"

He kept his narrowed eyes trained upon her. "You know..."

"I only thought it legend..." She told him, her hand absentmindedly resting upon the hilt of her sword as memories once again began to assault her. "That a dragon's flame can leave scars on a person's soul."

"So, you've met one of my kin and lived to tell the tale." He mused and she slowly nodded her head.

"I am fortunate enough, yes." Her hand lightly raised up to take hold of her scarred shoulder in her palm, frowning slightly. "And I have the scars to prove it though I can say I was not as unfortunate as your cousin."

"You slew him?" Smaug growled, once again lowering his head so it was more on her level.

"No, but, out of my own defense, I mortally wounded him." She explained, still eying the stone from her place. The blonde didn't dare move closer... yet. "Though, I now regret leaving him to starve."

The drake only pondered his thoughts for a long moment before a name came to his mind. "Silvran."

The princess only bobbed her head slowly in confirmation, no longer proud to say that she had at one point, technically, killed a dragon in her life. "Regretfully, yes."

"Regretfully...?" He cooed down at her, his large talons digging deeply into the gold. "Why, I'm sure that you took much pleasure in slaying a beast like I."

"When I was younger, I was proud of my accomplishment." Galaren replied, taking a few steps closer to him. "However, I've come to see that we are not so different. You and I and the rest of the races of Middle Earth."

The large drake only breathed down upon her, wave after wave of warmth washing over her as she stood there. "Would you care to enlighten me as to how?"

"I suppose I could." She replied, clasping her hands behind her back. The blonde then turned her back on him and began to pace. "But, there is one more title that I can now lay claim to though that I'm sure you would enjoy hearing..." She paused for a moment, her eyes hardening as her head snapped back to look at him. "I am one who has walked among the living and the dead." The creature only raised his brow in interest. "I have perished only to be reborn. I have walked between worlds. I have spoken with those who have passed into the next life. I have argued with the Valar themselves."

"My little pet only becomes more intriguing." He cooed, stretching back up to his full height so that he towered over her. "But I am not so interested in you any more so much as I am about your little dwarf friends? Where are they hiding?"

The female tensed internally and her heart stopped beating for a long moment before it sputtered to life again. She only batted her eyes at him as her mind thought up a scenario to get her out of this, let alone Bilbo. Only the Gods knew where he'd wondered off to.

"Dwarves...?" She asked him, tilting her head to the side slightly, causing her long golden hair to spill over her shoulder. "I never mentioned anything about dwarves."

"They sent you in here. You are positively reeking with their stench!"

Again, the blonde felt the organ in her chest sputter with fear but she only blinked calmly though her mind was rapidly working to figure out of he was bluffing and awaiting her truthful answer. But then she remembered: Thorin's goodbye.

Galaren, you stupid, stupid girl... She scolded herself though offered a small smirk to the dragon. You couldn't actually keep your hands off him long enough could you?

"I'm afraid that you are mistaken..." Deciding that it would be best, she decided to play along in his strange game. "...Master."

"Your manners do not surprise me, given that you are a royal, my pet." He rumbled, drawing back slightly as his clawed paws wrapped themselves around a couple of thick columns. "But I was right in the first place to think you a liar." She allowed her eyes to widen slightly in fear, knowing that her playful game with him was drawing to an end. "I know the smell and taste of dwarf than no one better! It is the gold, they are drawn to treasure like flies to dead flesh!"

"Aren't we all?!" She called over his echoing voice and she suddenly dove for the Arkenstone, only for the dragon to bring his talons down into the treasure just before her, causing the jewel to go tumbling down the vast mountain.

"Did you think I did not know this day would come?!" Watching as it continued to bounce away from her, the she-elf took after it with the dragon bellowing behind her. He rammed his head into one of the thick columns, causing the entirety of the mountain to shake. With a yelp, she fell to the side as she became tangled up in the flowing river of gold. "That a pack of canting dwarves would come crawling back to the mountain?!"

The pillar he had knocked into began to fall over, threatening to crush her. With wide sapphire eyes, she heaved herself up out of the gold and dove out of the way, the huge chunk of stone crashing to the ground just yards away from the toes of her boots.

A murmur of startled noises radiated throughout the group as the mountain beneath foot shook wildly as if it had come alive.

"Was that an earthquake?" Fili asked, his eyes searching out the other members of their group. He hoped that he had only imagined the rumbling from deep within Erebor.

"That, my lad..." Balin slowly rose from his seat, his tone of voice filled with nothing but dread. "... was a dragon."

Thorin inhaled deeply in hopes of calming himself but it seemed to be of little use as he turned his eyes back to the secret entrance and watched as it lightened with fire.

"What about Bilbo and Ren?" Ori asked from his place by the door.

"Give them more time." The dwarf lord murmured as he turned away from the entrance to look back out over the valley far below them.

His white haired companion turned to look at him in disbelief as if he had just heard the most horrific thing come from Thorin's mouth. "Time to do what?" He asked him, his voice hard with anger. "Be killed?"

"You're afraid." The King murmured, turning his dark eyes back to him.

"Yes, I'm afraid." He took a few steps toward his old friend, his voice quivering with emotion. "I fear for you. A sickness lies upon that treasure hoard. A sickness which drove your grandfather mad!"

"I am not my grandfather..."

"You're not yourself. The Thorin I know would not hesitate to go in there-"

"I will not risk this quest for the life of one burglar."

"But what about the woman you love?" Balin pointed accusingly back down the tunnel. "If you have so forgotten, she herself is down there while you are up here cowering-"

All of a sudden, frantic footsteps and heavy panting was heard coming from the doorway as a sweaty and disheveled hobbit appeared before them, causing both dwarves to stop arguing.

"Bilbo!" Ori cried in disbelief, causing everyone to turn their head at his startled expression.

For a moment, the King felt relief was through him, waiting to see the familiar blonde head of hair step out from her expected place from behind the hobbit, for there was no doubt she would have put herself between him and the danger. And yet, as the halfling moved towards him, no she-elf appeared.

"Where's Galaren?" He growled at the burglar, his eyes hardening with fear and worry at her absence.

The smaller creature only watched him for a moment, nearly doubling over as he continued to pant from the sprinting he had just finished. He placed his hands on his waist as he struggled to regulate his breathing but even without verbally telling them, the Company knew something was amiss.

"She's..." Bilbo panted again, swallowing thickly in hopes of controlling his heavy breathing. "We got separated." The dwarves only turned to look at each other with concern on their faces. "And she told me if we encountered danger, that I was to run like a madman."

"You left her down there, alone, with the beast?!" Thorin was immediately stepping up until he was invading the hobbit's space. Anger radiated through his very being and his eyes flashed with a fury that the burglar wished not to bare witness to. "You left her in the belly of the mountain with a dragon?!"

"Last I saw, they were only talking!" He held up his hands as the dwarf continued to stalk towards him, causing the smaller creature to back up and retreat. "That things between them were at peace between them!"

The mountain beneath them shook again, causing the group to let out shouts of surprise.

"Does that feel like peace to you?!" The dwarf growled at the burglar, his hands tightening into fists. "Does that feel like she's safe to you?!"

"Well-" Bilbo moved to speak but didn't get a chance to as the King reached out and tangled his hand into the collar of his coat. Picking him up as if he weighed nothing, the dwarf lord hauled him back over to the door and thrust him back inside.

"You will find her." He spat at the smaller being, his blue eyes alight with fire. "And you will bring her back with you." Before he could utter another word, Bilbo was scrambling away back down the cavern, fear for his life fueling the spark inside his chest.

"How sad..." Balin murmured, causing Thorin to look back at him. "How sad that you send a petty thief in your place to find the one that is most precious to you." His words seemed to stir something in his old friend, given that his brow furrowed deeply and his jaw clenched as he raised his head in defiance. "If you ask me, it is only something a coward would do!"

Head snapping to the side, the white haired dwarf swore that he had concocted a dragon of his own, given the way that the dwarf's eyes seemed to almost glow in the silver moonlight.

Stalking across the camp, he wrapped his thick hand around the hilt of his sword which had been stabbed into the ground, given that it was not being used. Easily tugging it free, he glared back at Balin before moving towards the entrance.

"I am no coward."

"It's Oakenshield...!" The dragon cooed as he watched the female scramble up onto her feet before she dove beneath a stone overhang. "That filthy dwarvish usurper!"

She pushed her unruly hair from her face as her chest heaved with both fear and exertion. Her sapphire eyes were trained on the ceiling above her, wondering where the beast was now. Moving beneath the overhang, she saw the same glimmer from before and her eyes cast themselves upon the shinning stone once again.

"He sent you in here for the Arkenstone, didn't he?"

"I told you." The she-elf moved silently, careful not to stumble over any of the larger pieces of treasure. "I came here on my own accord!"

"Don't bother denying it, pet!" She paused behind one of the pillars when a large paw stepped down right in front of her. It was followed shortly by the rest of the beast. "I guessed his foul purpose some time ago!" His eyes lingered on the aforementioned gem but all the while, he was watching out for his blonde doll. He inhaled deeply and found that her scent was radiating from beneath the overhang. Lowering his head down, his large talons wrapped around the pillar she was hiding behind. "But it matters not... Oakenshield's quest will fail."

"You sound so sure of yourself?" She called back, peering around the corner of the pillar, only to duck right back when Smaug started to turn his head in her direction.

"The darkness is coming..." He purred and given that he was so close to her, she felt her very being shake due to his resonating voice. "It will spread to every corner of the land but you already know this... don't you?"

"I can feel it." She told him quietly, listening as he slithered about his gold from her place behind the pillar. "And the Valar only reassured my fears when I last spoke to them."

"There is nothing you can do to stop it."

"Or is there?" The blonde woman called back to him, turning her head just in time to find that he was moving away from her. She quickly darted out across the open air until she took cover behind a second pillar. "I think you underestimate the smaller races. You think us so insignificant compared to yourself."

"You've faced off against another drake..." He purred, circling around to face her. His golden eyes lingered on her for a long moment. "You know how hard a dragon's hide is."

Stretching up in front of her, he presented himself to her at his full height to show off his strong, scaly chest. However, sapphire eyes immediately sought out the flaw in the armor; a place upon his breast where one of the golden scales was missing. The place that was said to be only a legend.

"Everyone has a weakness." The woman replied, hiding her body behind the pillar while she allowed her head to peak out and look at him.

"Including yourself." He settled on the gold just before the overhang. The female felt her heart begin to beat more rapidly in her chest and her hand that was resting on the column subconsciously tightened into a fist. "Though, I find that you have many."

Turning away from him, she backed up against the pillar, allowing her head to rest upon the cold stone behind her as she forced herself to stay calm. Licking her lips, she allowed her eyes to fall closed, knowing she was playing a dangerous game now. A game involving her emotions was always risky.

"You are being used." The dragon told her, his voice echoing throughout the cave. "My little jewel, you were only ever a means to an end." Swallowing thickly, the woman kept her eyes closed as she fought to keep herself calm because something inside her was actually listening to what he had to say. "Let me guess, your true intentions for coming in here is because you... love him." It was eerie how he spoke, almost as if he were hearing her very thoughts. "You would do anything for him... anything... including facing a dragon."

The dragon moved to perch himself atop the overhang, knowing that the she-elf was beneath it.

"But what did he promise you?" He purred, stretching out his long neck so that he could speak into one of the various openings. "What did he promise to get you to venture into a mountain with a fire breathing beast? A share of the treasure?" He asked her and she swallowed thickly upon listening to his words. "Or perhaps... his own heart and the promise that he would love you... cherish you... adore you..." Her sapphire eyes slowly cracked open yet her head continued to rest back upon the stone. "Did you really think his words to be true, my pet?"

Again, it was unsettling how he seemed to be invading her mind.

"His little declaration of love was only laced with lies. Lies designed to poison your mind into coming down here and retrieving his precious Arkenstone..." He hissed and the female felt anger bloom in her chest as she listened to him speak. "But where is he now? Outside the mountain, no doubt, waiting for you to return with his promised stone while you lay down your life for some silly rock."

He was lying and she knew it. But, there was a speck of belief in her. A tiny voice in the back of her head, whispering that what Smaug was saying was the absolute truth.

"The coward Oakenshield has weighed the value of your life and found it worth nothing."

"No." She spat as her eyes flashed open, the sapphire depths ablaze with a flame of their own. "You are the liar!"

And with those words, she dove out into the open to snatch up the shinning gem. However, before she could get her hands on it, his large tail slapped down into the treasure, sending both her and the King's jewel flying through the air.

The two of them were sent tumbling down the impossibly steep mountain until she rolled across solid stone at the very bottom after having landed hard.

"My teeth are swords!" He bellowed and she only grit her teeth as she raised herself up off the hard rock. "My claws are spears!" Looking up, she watched as the beast began to approach her again. "My wings are a hurricane!"

With her sapphire eyes wide, she hastily pushed herself to her feet but once again, something caught her attention in the corner of her eye. And just as before, the Arkenstone lay among the golden coins.

She felt her breath leave her as she gazed down at it, finding that it was literally only a few feet away.

"I am almost tempted to let you take it..." He purred, watching her intently as she kept her eyes trained upon the gem. "If only to see Oakenshield suffer. Watch it destroy him." He also began to inch forward and he couldn't help the smile on his crude lips as he watched the female begin to crumble from the inside out. "Watch it corrupt his heart and drive him mad." He murmured as her sapphire eyes slowly began to fill with an empty look. "But I think not. I think our little game ends here, pet." He lunged towards her and her irises widened in fear.

Out of instinct, her hand snapped to her sword and just before his jaws closed around her, she spun to the side, withdrawing her sword and raking it along his snout in the process.

With a mighty cry, the creature recoiled in pain and Ren raised her weapon and was about to strike again when suddenly small hands took hold of the back of her tunic and yanked her backwards with a surprising amount of strength. The strange, airy feeling came over her again and she slowly turned her head back to find that it was Bilbo.

He had come back for her.

With a small disbelieving smile on her face, she just looked at him while slightly shaking her head. "Bilbo-"

"Talk later!" He began to tug on her, his hands slipping from the fabric of her shirt to her hand so that running wouldn't be awkward. "Run now!"

"Wait!" She called and pulled back on the halfling.

When he was just about to protest her actions, he noticed the strange look on her face and followed where her line of sight led. And then, he saw it and it took his breath away just as it had for Ren.

Finding that his temper was getting the best of him, Smaug's chest began to glow as the fire inside him roared to life. Drawing his lips back, he breathed out and the flame inside him followed.

However, he found that the space before him was empty and the female was now misplaced. With a new rage, he roared in anger and breathed out more fire, unknowingly moving passed the female who had been hidden behind a large boulder with her companion. Finding that he was distracted in his almost frantic search for her, this allowed the both of them to duck and run back up a set of stairs before they vanished behind a corner.

Racing down the passage, the dwarf lord slammed into the wall in his haste. However, he only grit his teeth and pushed off as he continued to race forward with his sword in hand.

However, he let out a shout of both fear and pain as the intense heat radiated back at him as he came around the final corner. He didn't let this stop him however.

Racing out into the open cavern before him, his head was on a continuous swivel as his eyes sought out what he was truly looking for. But, instead of finding the woman he was searching for, he found something just as admirable instead.

A strange sound that was a mixture between a gasp and a moan of appreciation escaped from between his lips as his eyes swept the length of the sea of gold that lay before him.

He was here. He was among his treasure. He was home.

The dwarf was pulled from his thoughts as he suddenly heard rapid footsteps. The grip on his sword tightened for a moment as he readied himself to be attacked by something but found that it was who he had sent in there to find his woman.

"Master Burglar..." He growled, the grip on his sword tightening. "You're alive."

"Not for long." The hobbit replied as he tried to push passed the dwarf who only stepped in his way. "We need to go. Now."

"Did you find it?" He asked the smaller creature, a dark look entering his eyes as the hobbit failed to respond immediately. "The Arkenstone?"

"No. We have to get out." But, as he moved to take a step forward, the sword Thorin was holding clanged into the stone doorway, effectively blocking his path. Sending him a questioning look, the curly haired being took a small step back and the King raised his weapon at him. "Thorin...?" Moving forward, the dark haired dwarf only continued to force the burglar backwards, ignoring his prior words. "Thorin?!"

"Thorin?" A third, softer voice caused him to still in place.

Turning his head ever so slightly, he felt a sense of relief wash over him as he caught sight of his lady standing on the staircase just below him. Lowering his sword, he almost immediately forgot that he was threatening Bilbo and instead his shoulders sagged with relief.

Taking note of the fearful look on the hobbit's face and recalling the way the King had been standing, the she-elf knew that something was entirely amiss.

"Galaren..." He breathed in disbelief and only allowed his arms to open as she slammed into him. She immediately clamped around him and as the dwarf allowed his free arm to wrap around her, he was startled to find that she was shaking. "You're alive."

"Yes." She murmured as she clung to him, never wanting to let go again. "But neither of us will be if we don't get out of here now. Come on."

However, as she was speaking those words, she was exchanging a worried look with Bilbo over his shoulder. Silently asking him what happened, the smaller creature only gave a small shake of his head, telling her that he would talk to her about it later.

Releasing the dwarf, she suddenly moved by him as if to race up the stairs again, knowing that the beast was just behind the two of them.

"Did you happen to find it though?" His words caused her to pause in the doorway, her leather covered hands lingering on the stone frame. She stilled completely for a beat, the only sound between them was her still rather heavy breathing. "Did you find the Arkenstone?"

Swallowing thickly and licking her lips, she turned back to look at him and saw a strange glint in his eyes, an almost disturbed and dark look.

"The dragon's coming. We need to leave." Was all she said as she noticeably ignored his questions, facing forwards once again. Stepping forward, she moved to proceed up the passage but was yanked to a stop as a hand clamped tightly around her wrist.

"Did. You. Find. The. Arkenstone?" He asked her again, his tone more forceful and demanding than last time. His hand was impossibly tight around her wrist and when she didn't answer, he spun her around so that she looked at him.

And what she saw next made her start breathing out shuddering breaths and caused her heart to sputter inside her chest. The change; the dark possessiveness that was lingering behind his eyes.

It took all her restraint not to reach up and feel for the extra weight on her chest.

"N-No." She told him, hurt shinning in her own eyes when she saw the anger beginning to gather behind his own eyes. "I didn't find it. I couldn't... The dragon-"

"Then, we will keep searching..." He pulled her back out into the open cavern, his hand still around her wrist. Disbelief shown clear on her face and she looked to their hobbit companion for an answer, only to find that he himself looked nearly paralyzed with fear.

Gritting her teeth, she dug her heels hard into the ground and ripped her arm from from his grasp. The dwarf lord turned back to look at her in disbelief and he tilted his head to the side as he looked at her, a strange glint entering into his eyes.

"The beast is coming. We need to leave now." She told him, her own eyes hardening with mild worry but also anger. She would not have him handling her so roughly and threatening Bilbo.

"We don't leave until I say so." He replied as he puffed out his chest. The grip he had on his sword tightened slightly.

Knowing that danger was lurching right around the corner, she slowly moved her left hand so that it rested upon the hilt of her sword, again, just as a precaution.

She opened her mouth to say something else but she caught movement out of the corner of her eye and turned her head slightly before she nervously licked her lips. And yet, at the same time, she felt a strange sense of relief wash over her. Perhaps a dragon could pull his head from where ever he had put it.

Noticing her distraction, the King tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes on her. That was before he heard the low growling and felt the stone beneath his feet begin to shake.

Slowly turning his own head to the side, he felt his mouth run dry as his brain registered the fire drake slowly creeping towards them.

Without warning, a multitude of loud battle cries was heard as the rest of the Company came charging into the mountain through the passageway, all of them baring weapons that were given to them by the lakemen. The two burglars were pushed behind them as they put themselves between them and the danger. However, they felt their steely resolve to protect their companions diminish slightly when they saw the beast towering over them.

She herself drew her weapon and wrapped both her hands around the hilt as the dragon came lumbering towards them.

"YOU WILL BURN!" Smaug roared as he came towards them, his chest glowing the entire time. When he drew closer, he let loose the fire in his belly and before any of them could really comprehend what was happening, they were all leaping off the backside of the stairwell and tumbling down the gold until they were able to regain their senses and raced toward another doorway.

Before she could react, two hands were tugging her upward and the rest of the Company raced ahead into the door. The cavern began to fill with heat as Smaug let loose his wrath.

Being shoved forward into the safety of their new hideout, Ren let out a shout of surprise but didn't protest for very long as she was pulled forward again. Looking upward, she didn't have time to thank Fili and Kili as Thorin came screaming into the room. For a moment, all of them wondered why he was howling in pain before they realized that he was, in fact, on fire.

Jumping to his rescue, Dwalin immediately yanked his coat off of him before tossing it to the side.

The King only looked around to check on the rest of his companions. He was able to relax a bit when he found the disheveled form of the blonde female clutched tightly in the arms of his two nephews.

"Come on." He murmured as he picked up his sword and hastily moved across the room.

The rest of them had no choice but to follow.

Exiting the room, they only ran down a number of twisting and turning corridors. Ren had absolutely no inkling as to where they were going, given that it had been years since she had visited the mountain and even then, she hadn't often ventured to this part of Erebor, not to mention that everything was so different after the dragon had lain waste to the mountain.

"Stay close!" Thorin called as they rounded a corner but he soon slowed in his steps as his eyes took in what lay scattered about the room. One by one, the rest of the Company filled into the room, all of them breathing heavily but every single one of them grew quiet as they themselves looked about the dusty chamber.

Numerous bodies covered the floor, or perhaps, skeletons would be more appropriate.

An air of solemnness filled the silence covering the group as each and every one of them allowed their eyes to look over what had remained of the dwarves of Erebor.

Soldiers, women, children. It seemed as though none of them had been spared from death on that day.

"That's it then..." Dwalin murmured quietly from the back as he took notice of the crumbled doorway that would have allowed them a way out. "There's no way out."

Tightening her grip upon her weapon, Ren slowly sheathed her sword, all the while bowing her head in sadness.

"The last of our kin." Balin murmured, his voice, despite its softness, echoed about the room. "They must have come here, hoping beyond hope."

As the group stood there in the dank chamber, it was almost as if they could hear the battle that had so long ago taken place. The men were off busy trying to fend of the dragon. They women and children were making to evacuate, all of them crying out for their husbands and loved ones that they had to leave behind.

"We could try to reach the mines." The advisor offered quietly to his King. "We might last a few days."

Thorin only stood there for a long moment, his pale eyes sad as they wandered across the corpses of the dwarves. A bit of color in the corner of his eye caught his attention and he ever so slightly turned his head to find that it was his woman.

In that moment, the dwarf was almost amazed at how filthy and exhausted she looked.

Her hair was a tangled mess about her. The heavy clothes she wore were disheveled and there was a small burn on her elbow. Her cheeks were ashen and shinny with sweat in the gloom, showing just how tasking her day had been. But what startled him most was her eyes and the way they seemed empty. That she herself had seemed to have given up all hope and that they would find their demise deep beneath the mountain just as his kin had.

A single tear fell down her dirt-stained cheek and the dwarf reached out and gently wiped it away with his thumb.

"No." He responded to Balin, his voice echoing about the nearly empty room.

He made up his mind as he looked at Ren and the dull resignation she held in her eyes. He would fight until the very end for this was no way she should die, no way any of them should perish.

Ren took notice how quickly he had changed back into the old Thorin, the one that treated her like she was worth the world and more to him. Not the one that had been threatening both her and her hobbit companion.

Releasing her cheek, he turned his face away from her and took a few, slow steps forward, his shoulders slumped slightly as if a huge weight rested upon them.

"I will not die like this." He took a shuddering breath. "Cowering... Clawing for breath." It was silent for a beat as a plan began to form in his head, one that had very little chance of working but it was a plan no less. "We make for the forges."

"He'll see us sure as death." Dwalin protested the idea.

"Not if we split up." The King replied immediately, his pale blue eyes searching the faces of each of his men.

"Thorin, we'll never make it." Balin tried, just as his brother had. And yet it seemed that there would be no reasoning with the dwarf lord, not when his mind was so set on living.

"Some of us might. Lead him to the forges." He commanded, his tone stronger than it was before. "We kill the dragon." Allowing his eyes to drift to the blonde female, he found that she had raised her head and that her eyes seemed to light some. "If this is to end in fire then we will all burn together."

And then, they were off.

Ren only raced behind Fili as she was led out of the tunnel by Dwalin.

"Flee! Flee! Run for your lives!" Smaug's voice echoed throughout the vast halls before them as he spoke to the other group across the way. "There is no where to hide!" The elleth only held her breath as she gazed over at Thorin's group which consisted of him, Balin, Bilbo, and young Kili who was no longer focusing on the dragon but on the entrance where they were to emerge.

"BEHIND YOU!" Dori called out to the creature from their own walkway, the silver haired dwarf, Ori, Oin, and Bombur having formed their own troop.

"WORM!"

"COME ON!" The second group called out to the fire drake who whipped around to face them, wondering where they had come from. From a distance, the she-elf watched as they skidded a a stop, their weapons raised but fear was evident on their features. They then shouted as they ran for cover, the dragon just on their tail.

It was now their turn.

"HEY YOU!" Dwalin shouted at the beast, effectively catching his attention. "HERE!"

Taking note that the blonde woman was with them, Smaug roared in rage and focused his attention solely on them. Lumbering towards them, Dwalin only shouted in dark glee before pushing her and the blond heir back the way they had come.

The four of them slipped back into the protected corridor just as the beast slammed his large mit upon the walkway.

From behind them, they would easily hear the shouting come from the last group as they provided the final distraction, allowing the others plenty of time to escape.

Another surge of heat filled the mountain and Ren and Fili only exchanged a look as they ran, both of them silently praying to their Gods that everyone was still alive and well.

It wasn't long before they came bursting out into another grand hall, only just to see the very tip of Smaug's tail disappear into what appeared to be a deep, vertical mine.

They also heard an easily recognizable shout of fear and their group raced out to peer over the edge, only to find Thorin dangling from one of the mining chairs as Smaug crept down towards him.

"THORIN!" Dwalin shouted before smashing his mace into a set of levers that controlled the various mining pulleys. "HOLD ON!"

With the two fair haired beings monitoring the situation, Fili felt relief wash over him as his uncle began to quickly race back up towards him. However, fear sent a shock through his chest as he watched the dragon's jaws clamp around the seat he was holding onto.

With a jerk, the mechanism to work it was pulled free from the stone slab they were standing on, only for it to be sent rushing downward.

An audible gasp escaped the elf's throat as she watched as Thorin balanced precariously on the end of the drake's snout though at least he hadn't fallen to his death. Never before had she been so scared in all her life. For she was about to see the man she loved eaten before her very eyes.

The beast lunged and time seemed to slow for a moment as she watched as the King leapt from his muzzle and managed to take hold of another mining chair that had luckily been hanging nearby. Smaug was about to snap his jaws at him but the mining mechanism from before came crashing down upon his neck, giving the dwarf lord a moment to get away.

"Get him up here!" She commanded over her shoulder, her voice and eyes both equally hard.

And with a mighty shout, Nori slammed his own weapon down into another set of controls which therefore sent the dark haired dwarf right up towards them.

It didn't take the dragon long to recover though and from her spot looking down upon the King and the creature, she watched as his chest as it began to glow again and knew that it was going to get hot very soon.

Allowing his jaw to fall slack, flames shot from his throat and Ren leaned out over the side towards the King, wary of the heat that was quickly racing towards the both of them.

"THORIN!" She shrieked and at the last moment, she took hold of his hand and pulled with all her might.

The two of them were sent tumbling back until they were sprawled on their sides, clutched in each other's arms. Luckily enough, the stone overhang beneath them was thick enough to momentarily ward off the heat but before the she-elf could even manage to open her mouth to scold him, she was being picked up off the ground and was hoisted into two strong arms.

"Go!" Thorin shouted to his men as he adjusted his grip upon the female in his grasp. "Go!"

The five of them took cover as they ran between the large steel bars that led to the forges. Taking a moment to breath, Ren only drew her head back from where it had been tucked under her dwarf's chin.

"You can set me down." She told him quietly, causing Thorin to look at her. He only sent her a small quirk of his lips but nonetheless lowered her feet to the floor and allowing her to stand on her own.

Still keeping her arms around his neck from where they had been draped, he watched her for a long moment and to reassure him that she was alright, she gave a light tug on his remaining braid to tell him she was fine.

"The plan's not gonna work." Dwalin protested as the four groups gathered back up inside the huge forge. "These furnaces are stone cold."

"He's right. We have no fire hot enough to set them ablaze." Balin tried to tell the dwarf lord.

There was suddenly a roar heard back in the vastness of the cavern behind them, causing Thorin to smirk as he slowly turned back to where they had last seen the fiery beast.

"Have we not?" He asked quietly, an idea coming to him just then. "I did not look to see you so easily outwitted!" Stepping forward, he braced his hands on the pillar separating the forge from the rest of Erebor. Just then, taloned paws came up from the hole in the ground gripped tightly to the edge of the mine as the dragon pulled himself up. "You have grown slow and fat in your dotage!" His words did the trick in angering the beast, given how his eyes seemed to glow with hate, as did his chest. "Slug...!" A deep growl resounded from the drake's chest and the dark haired dwarf turned back to his group. "Take cover."

Allowing his words to register, everyone jumped into action and moved to duck behind the pillars.

Galaren felt her eyes widen as the beast directly looked at her and her own eyes quickly flitted to Thorin. Quick as a whip, she began to move, her hand extended towards the King. He too reached out towards her and just as the dragon let loose his flames, the dwarf grabbed hold of her and spun them around so that she was against the pillar. Using his body to shield her, he pressed the both of them closely to the thick column in hopes of escaping the dragon fire.

The heat, for many of them, was nearly unbearable but after what felt like an eternity, the flames flickered out and all was quiet in the forge for a moment.

Then, without warning, the furnace closest to them roared to life given that it had just been lit by Smaug's own fire. One by one, each forge sprung alight with new life, filling the room with heat and giving off a warm glow to provide them with copious amounts of light.

Opening their eyes, Ren and Thorin only looked at each other before exchanging a smile. Their plan had worked so it seemed.

"Bombur!" The King called to his companion. "Get those billows working! Go!" He pushed the plump dwarf in the direction of the aforementioned objects as they moved further into the forge.

The dragon roared with outrage and began to slam into the steel bars in hopes of breaking through to reach his prey. However, the task was proving more difficult than he first though and he silently cursed the smaller beings for their intelligence.

"Bilbo, Ren!" Both of them snapped to attention when their names were called. "Up there!" Thorin pointed to a large platform protruding from the wall where a lever was located. "On my mark, pull that!"

Nodding in understanding, the she-elf and hobbit moved towards their assignment.

"Come on!" She called back to the shorter being as she outran him, her longer legs providing her with the few extra steps to overtake him.

Both of them didn't even pause as they began to ascend the staircase that led up to their post but they let out twin sounds of surprise as the floor beneath them shook again. Bracing themselves against the solid wall to their left, both of them felt their mouths run dry as the beast finally broke through the iron rods and was now in the forge with them. His chest continued to glow with heat as he slowly moved about the room, warily eyeing all the forges that burned with blue fire as Bombur continued to pump air into them with the billows.

As if sensing her presence, the dragon's eyes were solely directed on her as he continued to creep towards her and Bilbo.

Licking her lips nervously, she allowed her eyes to dart between Thorin, who was down below, and Smaug who seemed on a mission as if to take her back and claim her as his own once again. And yet, with him so close, the dwarf didn't give the signal.

But, just as he was about to reach the two of them, the dragon paused in place. With almost a sly smirk upon his face, he slowly turned his head to the side and much to his pleasure, he found the dark haired being standing just a ways down from him.

"NOW!" He suddenly shouted and Ren turned back to the hobbit at her side.

"One, two, three!" She counted off and both of them jumped up, taking the lever into their hands before it clicked downward into place beneath their weight.

Smaug opened his mouth to incinerate the self-declared King but didn't get a chance to as water sprayed forth from the mouths of the looming dwarf statues in the forge. The beast let out a screech of both fear and pain as he was knocked to his side and his fire momentarily extinguished.

Hot steam jettisoned up into the atmosphere, temporarily blinding all those present.

However, after a moment it cleared and all those watching bore witness to the fact that the great and power dragon was writhing and hissing in upon himself as he backed away from the water despite the fact that he was now dripping with it.

Unfurling his wings, he hastily flew back in an attempt to flee from the sinister liquid though his movements were not the least bit graceful as they had been previously.

The water from the spouts began to do fulfill its actual purpose and began to turn a water wheel which caused a set of gears to mesh together and rotate. This caused the line of overhead carts to begin to move.

One of the other groups began to assault the beast with flash-fire bombs as he came crawling back to seek his revenge. Also, from overhead, Bifur, Bofur, and Gloin appeared as they popped up from their hiding places in the coal carts.

With a mighty cry, the ginger dwarf swung his ax down and sliced through the second cable right below them, sending the other train of carts smashing down and tangling around the fiery beast.

This didn't please him in the slightest and he began to thrash about in rage.

Moving forward, Thorin took hold of a thick chain and pulled with all his might. He was rewarded with the doors to the holds above the forges opening and out poured a river of molten gold that filled dips in the ground that served as a sort of guide for the burning liquid to follow.

"Lead him to the Gallery of the Kings!" The dark haired dwarf commanded as he began to run towards the dragon with nothing but a wheelbarrow as a weapon.

At first, the blonde woman thought him mad but he then thrust the steel cart down into the gold and used it as if it where a boat. Riding along the molten river, he headed towards an exit that would pass below them.

A cry escaped from between both her lips and the hobbit's as Smaug's tail came crashing into the base of the platform they were standing on. Beneath them, the ground began to crumble and it wasn't long before they were sent tumbling back to the floor where they both landed hard.

"Keep going, Bilbo!" The King called back to him but in reality, it was meant for the both of them. "Run!"

Hauling themselves up from the ground, both of them began to run in the only direction that wasn't blocked by the dragon. However, they soon came to what appeared to be a drop off but they didn't stop either of them as they leapt out into thin air, only for their rears to meet solid stone as they slid down a ramp. Upon reaching the bottom, both creatures proceeded forward again with Smaug only just behind them, smashing his way through all the delicate structures and machinery in the forge.

Breathing heavily, the two of them eventually entered into the huge hall, one that completely outsized any that Bilbo had ever bared witness to in his entire life. Ren herself was struck with awe at the sight of it, having forgotten how grand the dwarves' caverns could be at times.

However, the silence in the hall did not last long, given that their enemy came crashing through the wall, causing one of the huge tapestries that had been hung up to come fluttering down, covering both of the smaller beings and forcing both of them to the floor beneath its sheer weight.

"You think you can deceive me, pet?!" He bellowed, his deep voice filling the empty air in the room. "You have come from Laketown. This is some sordid scheme hatched between these filthy dwarves and those miserable tub-trading lakemen! Those sniveling cowards with their long bows and black arrows! Perhaps it is time I paid them a visit..."

"NO!" Ren cried out as the beast moved to find an exit. Scrambling out from beneath the heavy tapestry, she stood in the open out before him, her eyes nearly glowing with defiance. "THIS ISN'T THEIR FAULT!" The dragon ignored her for a moment.

"WAIT!" Bilbo also called as he too stood up beside her.

"YOU CANNOT GO TO LAKETOWN!" The she-elf shouted after him, causing the fire drake to slow in his steps.

"Hmm?" He purred, a slow smirk drawing back his lips as he turned back around to face them. "You care about them, do you?" The beast asked, his eyes sparkling with an evil glint. "Good... Then, you can watch them die!"

"No..." Ren breathed as she watched him move off, knowing that there was little they could do to stop him.

"HERE!" A resounding shout echoed throughout the room, causing the scaled creature to pause in his steps again. "YOU WITLESS WORM!"

Once again feeling his anger betraying him, a deep growl came from the very pit of his stomach. He was having enough of these games and decided that this would be the end of it. This would be the end of Thorin Oakenshield.

He slowly turned back to look at the one who taunted him. "You..."

Stepping up between a set of pillars, both the female and the hobbit watched on with worry, wondering what plan Thorin had further developed given that he was standing on a huge stone structure. "I am taking back what you stole!"

"You will take nothing from me, dwarf!" Smaug retorted, slowly making his way back towards the dwarf lord. "I laid low your warriors of old! I instilled terror in the hearts of men! I AM KING UNDER THE MOUNTAIN!"

"This is not your kingdom! These are dwarf lands! This is dwarf gold and we will have our revenge!" Shouting something in dwarvish, the dark haired being yanked hard on a rope before a set of cracking sounds could be heard that resonated from behind the stone figure.

The stone casing fell away to reveal what appeared to a huge, golden statue of a dwarf warrior.

Everyone in the room was entranced by the sight of it but none so more than the dragon. He let out an appreciative gasp of awe as he drew closer to get a better look.

All Ren heard in her ears was the steady beating of her heart as a few moments passed, yet it felt like eternity.

Then, without warning, the face of the statue bubbled, sending molten gold spraying outward. This continued up and down the length of the sculpture until the entire thing began to fold in on itself, given that it hadn't been given enough time to set up and harden.

The wave of gold washed down and over the drake who let out a high pitched wail of pain. It didn't take long for the molten liquid to overcome the beast and he collapsed into the burning pool of gold until he was completely submerged.

Ren let out a small laugh of disbelief from beside the hobbit as she watched the floor settle. Exchanging a look with Bilbo, she could only smile and wrap her arm around his shoulders, relieved that the beast was in fact dead, now cemented inside the gold and could no longer cause so much damage.

But, the she-elf had never been so wrong in all her life.

In an eruption that sent molten liquid spraying everywhere, Smaug sprung up from what should have been his prison, hissing and shouting in pain as the gold clung to his body.

A wail left his throat as he began to thunder along the pool until he stood on dry ground once more.

"IT BURNS! IT BURNS!" He bellowed but nonetheless continued to trek forward. Ren only watched from the sidelines in horror. "I WILL SHOW YOU REVENGE!"

He quickly exited the room and the she-elf couldn't help but follow behind him, having to see what he was going to do in his declared 'revenge'. It only took him a few moments before he smashed through the once rock cluttered entrance before he galloped out into the night, the moonlight causing the gold upon his body to shine brilliantly and if this hadn't been a life or death situation, the she-elf would have taken a moment to admire the beauty of it.

Stumbling out into the cold night air, she only watched as the beast soared out into the air, the metal once upon his body rolling off of him as if it had been nothing but dust.

Spreading his wings out wide, the female could only stare in acute horror as he quietly sailed down the valley and back towards the lake. Even from this distance, she could clearly make out the forms of the houses and buildings no thanks to her elven eyes.

Her mind faintly registered that Bilbo came to stand beside her, only for the female to drop to her knees in dread. Her body had only just then given up, both from exhaustion and knowing that they had . That she had failed.

She had failed each and every soul down there in that village. Tilda, Sigrid, Bain, Bard. All of them.

It seemed as though there was no hope for them now, given that they were left defenseless as the dragon flew towards the sleepy town to present to them their untimely demise.

She felt her breath leave her as terror caused her chest to clench painfully. The blonde's eyes pooled with tears as she sat there in the cold, knowing that there was no hope for the people on the lake.

And she could only manage to whisper a few quiet words out to herself: "What have I done?"

Hey, guys! It's been a long time since I've last posted. And I feel horrible about it.

And what makes it even worse is that this is probably going to be the last update until Battle of Five Armies comes out. I really want my fic to follow the storyline of the movie and so I've decided to wait a bit.

But, we've finally made it to the end of to the end of DoS! I never thought we would get here! I feel like I've written an entire fic based solely on the second movie and have completely forgotten about the first one!

Anyway, now that I have so much time, I have no idea what I'm going to do now.

Maybe I'll write a new fic, though I don't know concerning which fandom. Perhaps I should do an Almighty Johnsons one? A Being Human one? I could start my Pacific Rim one? Perhaps a Game of Thrones one? I'm seriously considering a GoT fic but maybe I should actually try to finish my Thor fic?

I'm really lat a loss right now. Help!

Anyway, yeah. Interesting chapter.

Jibber jabber with a dragon. Thorin being both over protective and bat shit crazy at the same time. Running. Running. And more running. Fluff with the Thorin and Ren again. Lies being whispered into her ears by O Smaug the Mighty and Powerful Dickhead.

I don't know if I should be relieved or sad that I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now. What with this story going so well and all.

Plus, I would just like to just say that so far things have been ultimately amazing. I never expected that this story would be this big and I want to thank all of you. Because truly, it is you that makes this story what it is.

Without any of you, this would just be a dumb fantasy dreamed up by a college girl.

So, again, thank you guys. I love you all.

Anyway... YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO, READ AND REVIEW!

Love,

Blue

Also, follow me on twitter and/or tumblr at blueeyedwolf33 or at blueeyedwolf33 dot tumblr dot com to keep up with my daily shenanigans and to see what fic I'm deciding to do! Don't be afraid to message me on any of the social media sites! I love hearing from you guys! :)

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