To Your Mark

Chapter 9

The Company all stood stalk still as they still clutched tightly to their weapons, most of them very confused about the events that had taken moments before. Bilbo stood beside the female with his mouth open as his eyes darted back and forth between the two wizards.

What on Earth was going on?

Dismissing the man, Ren bent down and examined his strange mode of transportation. Rhosgobel rabbits pulling a wooden sled. How peculiar yet it surprisingly seemed to fit the wizard and his way of life though she did wonder how he was able to catch all of them and get them harnessed.

"I was looking for you Gandalf! Something's wrong! Something's terribly wrong!" He nearly shouted as his arms flailed about wildly, causing numerous members of the Company to share looks of mild apprehension.

"Yes...?" Gandalf asked, not completely sure where the other wizard was going with the situation. It had been years that he had last seen Radagast yet he appeared unchanged as every wizard did. He knew that his female companion had recently had an escapade or two with the brown wizard but that was not reason enough for him to be there.

The peculiar man went to say something and opened his mouth but stopped, almost as if he had forgotten something. He did this twice more.

"Just give me a minute! Oh! I had the thought and I've lost it! It was right there on the tip of my tongue! Oh!" He then opened his mouth and pointed at the pink muscle. "It's not a thought at all! It's a little old stick insect!" Gandalf pulled the bug out of the strange wizards mouth before dropping it into his waiting palm. This made the man grin with glee as he looked at the tiny bug.

Of course these actions all earned a noise of disgust from the Company of dwarves. Ren even wrinkled her nose as she crossed her arms over her chest. He always was the oddest of the Istari.

But the smaller wizard was too distracted by the bug to remember his once important business with Gandalf.

"You were saying, Radagast?" The brown wizard looked up when hearing his name, his eyes sparkling with joy after seeing the bug. He slowly raised his eyes to find a tall, blonde woman before him. He gazed at the female for a moment with curiosity before a look of recognition passed over his face, a larger grin pulling his lips upward.

"Little Squirrel!" He stepped forward to embrace the young woman, who had a large grin on her face as well. She had to bend down to properly hug the strange little man who was more than happy to receive the embrace. The group of dwarves only exchanged a few uncertain glances. "It's been so long since you've visited, my girl!"

"I know, I know!" She stepped back and held up her hands in surrender. "I apologize greatly. I've been rather busy with business... as of late." Ren explained, letting her eyes warningly flicker to the rest of the Company.

Furrowing his brow at her softly for a moment, he didn't understand her implications but then it suddenly dawned on him.

"Oh!" His bright eyes grew wide and he let them flicker to the dwarves behind her. He then reached a hand up and touched the tip of his ear before shaking his head. Ren twitched her eyebrow in confirmation and the wizard's cheeks flushed, the entire exchange being closely monitored by the brooding dwarf prince from his place off to the side. "Well, you have your work cut out for you then!" Radagast smiled his crooked smile at her, his irises still glimmering with joy upon seeing her again. "But, enough of that!" He suddenly surged forward and took her face into his hands. "How have you been?" He pried her lips apart and opened her mouth wide before looking inside as if inspecting her teeth. "Have you been eating well? Sleeping enough at night?"

She tried to reply but it was hard given that he had her lips parted so widely. Listening to her garbled remark, the wizard frowned softly before looking up at her.

"Don't sass me." He warned her, his tone becoming darker for a minute. "Or I will change you into a squirrel again..."

Eyes widening in horror, she then quickly muttered something else indiscernible, her eyes then moving to Gandalf for help. He only smirked at her then and folded his arms across his chest, a smug glint in his eyes.

Ren then even let her eyes move to Thorin, silently pleading with him to do something as well. However, the dwarf, just like the gray wizard, did nothing but cross his arms over his chest. This was becoming interesting.

"But enough of that!" Radagast suddenly released her face, his tone now cheery just as it was before. "I've missed you so!" He engulfed her again in a nearly crushing embrace, his mood swings catching the entire group off guard. "And the animals have as well! Especially the squirrels! They miss you leaping through the trees with them!" The group only listened as the wizard began to ramble on about the various animals of the forest. It also caused most of the dwarves to snicker as they listened to the multiple times that he referred to her as his 'Little Squirrel'.

Ren also bit her lip every time she heard the strange name, knowing that it would come back to be used regularly instead of her real name. It would be used in jokes and in threatening. And in due time, there was no doubt that she would be asked the cause of the strange name. Which would lead to story time and she would spill things from her past that she didn't wish to spill.

"Radagast, I believe you came to seek me out for something?" Gandalf asked, trying to get his friend back on track.

"Yes, of course!" He turned away from the tall woman to only be lead away so that they could converse alone, out of earshot. She only watched the two of them go, her lips pulling upward slightly.

Setting her bow off to the side, Ren watched the wizards leave before she unfastened the buckle on the belt of her new sword and began to clean the dust and cobwebs off the rich brown leather of the sheath. She quietly sat herself down on the ground, leaning her back up against the base of a tree.

Thorin could only watch the female as she worked. His hand reached up to stroke his beard in thought as he watched her. She was a complete mystery to him. And he did not like that.

From what he could gather, she had left her home when she was young and hadn't returned since then due to the fact that her parents had neglected her or something to that degree. Her weapons skills were incredible for someone as young as she and the prince had to admit that he was rather impressed with her. From the display in the forest with the girl and even then punching the man in the pub, he had underestimated her. No, she was not the first soft maiden that he first thought her to be.

In the beginning, he suspected that only en elf could master archery as she so fully had. Yet, he knew that she was not an elf. She was much too... rude to be one of the elvish folk. Much to lively to be one of his arrogant and conceited enemies.

She drank like a man, her manners at the table were terrible, though being a dwarf, that said something. She hardly cared for personal hygiene and she had her moments of complete and utter rudeness. No, an elvish maiden would not argue and question his authority as she did. An elf would not be locked in a power struggle with him.

And the tripping incident in the cave also proved that she was not one of the graceful elleths from Rivendell or Lothlorien. Elves didn't fall. Elves didn't trip. They were graceful and actually had manners.

The one thing that Ren didn't have.

And yet she had also seemed to have traveled all across Middle Earth. She had mentioned that she had traveled from Gondor when they had first met in Bilbo's home. He also believed her to have lived in Rohan for some time yet she also said she had laid eyes on the Lonely Mountain before when she had been on some business that she could not speak about.

The more Thorin thought about it, the more this strange woman just didn't seem to make any sense. And even now she was a friend of the strange Radagast the Brown!

Ren had just then finished the cleaning of her new blade when she felt a shift occur in the atmosphere. Something was not right.

Raising her head up from where it had been bowed, she looked just ahead of her for a moment, her ears straining to hear anything but the only thing she could detect was the wind in the trees. But still, there was a disturbance in the quiet atmosphere of the forest.

Something was coming. Something that wasn't necessarily good. She could feel it in her very being then. A sense of dread had set into her bones and she knew that danger was closing in on them.

Just then, something howled in the distance, causing everyone in the Company to turn their attention from what they had been doing beforehand.

"Was that a wolf?" Bilbo asked from his place beside Ren. It seemed as though he had been gravitating towards her more often than not. He just felt safer with her than with the others. He had reasoned with himself that should anything happen and things would come down to a fight, Ren would be one of the few people that would stay behind and actually make sure that he was protected. She wouldn't leave him behind and he was proud to say that he was sure of that. "A-Are their wolves out there?"

"Wolves? Not that is not a wolf!" Bofur said as the dwarves all gazed around at the surroundings watching for sign of any trouble. The forest was oddly silent for a moment before there was a break in the quiet.

A loud snarl could be heard as a large Warg came leaping down the bank behind them, suddenly knocking Dwalin to the ground. Thorin immediately sank his new blade into the neck of the creature before another caught Ren's attention.

Both her and Kili rose up with their bows and fired at the Warg about to pounce on the dwarf prince. The beast stumbled to the ground and Dwalin quickly finished it off with one of his axes.

"Warg scouts! Which means that an orc pack is not far behind!" Thorin said as he pried his new blade from the flesh of the wolf-like creature.

"Orc pack?" Bilbo squeaked, taking another step closer to Ren whose eyes were intently trained upon the trees around them, waiting for another foul beast to show itself.

"Who did you tell about your quest? Who beyond your kin?" Gandalf snapped as he stepped back into the clearing after hearing the cries of pain caused by the Wargs.

Radagast was only a short distance behind and he calmly gazed down at the dead animals. Normally, the wizard was fond of all the creatures of the world. He, however, had made an exception for Wargs. They weren't the most lovable of animals.

"No one!" Thorin said as Gandalf stepped towards him.

"Who did you tell?" The wizard snapped again and the dwarves eyes darted around the group to see that everyone was murmuring the same thing.

"No one, I swear!" Thorin insisted but then a thought suddenly struck him. Ever so slowly, he turned his head towards the lone female of the group, a dangerous look then entering his blue eyes. "What in Durin's name is going on?" He growled, a threatening tone in his voice.

"You're being hunted." Ren snapped as she angrily drew another arrow out of her quiver, her brow furrowed as she thought about her situation. However, she had instead been focusing on the trees around her that she failed to notice when someone came striding towards her. A thick hand suddenly closed around her throat and she was shoved back into the tree she had been standing by.

The air was forced from her lungs and her hands immediately released her bow which clattered to the ground. Her eyes slammed shut as fingers constricted painfully around her throat.

"Who did you tell?!" Thorin yelled into her face, knowing that if anyone did, she would have been the one to give away their quest. She was the one that always seemed to oppose his opinion and go against his orders.

"I-I..." She gasped out as she fought for breath, her hands clawing at his leather covered arm. "N-No one!"

"Uncle, she can't breathe!" Kili cried out, taking a step forward, his brown eyes shinning with fear for the woman.

"That's the point, Kili." The dwarf prince murmured as he lifted her off the ground and into the air. She did not weigh much like he first expected her to so Thorin had no problems holding her up. His eyes were trained upon her the entire time, watching as she struggled desperately in his hold. Her face began to turn red. "You told the Rohirric girl, didn't you?!"

"Ren told Quwen nothing!" Fili defended the blonde girl, taking a step forward to help their female companion. There was surprise in the air around the Company for a moment. So, they at least had a name for the child now.

"Is this true?" The king spat at her, his hand still clamped around her throat.

"I-I swear!" The woman gasped out between what little air she could get. The dwarf only looked at her for a long moment, his eyes burning with sudden hatred for her.

"How do I know you're not lying?" He growled at her and he watched her face for a moment before she released his arm and reached behind her. Working quickly, she grabbed one of the knives upon her back and withdrew it from its sheath before presenting it to the dwarf.

"You don't!" She gasped, her hand tightening around the hilt of her knife. For a moment, she contemplated stabbing him but figured that even if she got away from Thorin, she would have to deal with the rest of the dwarves. She held out the knife to him then. "So, just cut off my tongue like you promised..."

Her own blue eyes flashed with challenge again even then as he had her pinned to the tree. Feeling his anger swell inside him, he grit his teeth and retched the knife from her hand.

He was really only doing it to scare her into confessing but he still saw that she wasn't going to give away and for a moment, he wondered if she really was telling the truth.

"Thorin Oakenshield, you will release her this moment!" Gandalf suddenly thundered from behind him. At this point, the woman was nearly blue from oxygen deprivation. "We do not have time to fight amongst ourselves when we are being hunted by orcs!"

Hearing some reason in his words, the dwarf prince let his hand slacken. Her feet landed back upon the ground but it seemed as though she were not strong enough to hold herself up any longer.

Coughing hard, she collapsed just to the side of Thorin, her lungs burning from not having air. Now on all fours, one hand reached up to her throat was now sore and would surely bruise after the tight grip he had had on her.

With eyes full of a familiar coldness, he glanced at the blade in his hand, finding that it too was of elvish make and was slightly curved. Its twin was undoubtedly the same and his thoughts about the weapons made his eyes narrow before he looked back to the female.

So, she is a friend of the elves as well. Thorin growled to himself internally. How surprising...

"We have to get out of here!" Dwalin said, breaking the awkward air that now lingered around the group. Ren only continued to cough, a hand on her throat as the other held her up.

"We can't! We have no ponies! They bolted!" Ori came back into the clearing, telling them all the grave news.

"I'll draw them off." Radagast offered as he stepped up towards his rabbit-pulled sleigh, his eyes looking worriedly towards the blonde woman who remained coughing on the ground, her hair hanging around her face and hiding her from view of others.

"These are Gundabell Wargs! They will outrun you!" Gandalf protested.

"And these are Roscabell Rabbits! I'd like to see them try..." The brown wizard replied, his tone full of certainty. However, before he moved to his sleigh, he turned sharply to the dwarf lord and stalked up to him so that they stood eye to eye. "You will treat her with more respect." The Maiar told him firmly, a sudden anger bubbling inside him upon seeing her disrespected so.

She of all people was not to be treated that way.

"If you ever lay an abusive hand upon her again..." Radagast warned, pointing a threatening finger at the dwarf. "I will do more than turn you into such a simple thing as a toad."

And with those words, he turned to leave but not before lingering beside the blonde woman. Bending down, he placed his fingerless gloved hand upon the back of her bowed head as he spoke quietly.

"This is farewell for now, Little Squirrel." He told her in a soft tone. She could not yet reply so she simply remained frozen in place as she struggled to regain her breath. "If you are ever in this part of the world again, you must come find me." The wizard explained and she slowly nodded her head in understanding, her face still blocked from his view.

With a sad look upon his features, the brown wizard rose and moved to his sled, nodding his head to Gandalf as he went. Mounting, he called to his rabbits and they zipped off into the dark forest.

Radagast may not have been the bravest, nor the handsomest or strongest of wizards, but he was, without a doubt, the most kind of their group.

Another howl was suddenly heard in the distance and the Company knew that they must move. "Lead the way, Wizard." Thorin rumbled and the Maiar only sent him an angered look.

Grumbling to himself, Gandalf began to stalk off into the trees but not before risking a worried glance back at the blonde woman. One by one, the group of dwarves began to file out behind him until only Bilbo, Ren, and Thorin remained in the small clearing. The hobbit only remained to make sure that the female was not left behind.

"Get up." The dwarf lord growled down at her, his eyes still icy with unexplainable anger towards her.

The huntress did not move from her place, her hand still rubbing the tender skin on her neck. For a moment, guilt passed over the prince. Perhaps he had been a bit harsh with her. Perhaps he had jumped to conclusions too quickly.

But just as quickly as the guilt appeared, it vanished and the rage was put back into place.

Reaching down, he grabbed hold of the quiver upon her back and slammed her elven blade back into its sheath before he moved to tug her up off the ground.

"DO. NOT." She tried to snarl at him but her voice came out more like a harsh croak. Again, slight regret assaulted him upon hearing her weak tone. "TOUCH. ME."

Reaching up, she aggressively shoved his hand off her back and their eyes met. Her sapphire irises ablaze with a fury that Thorin had only witnessed when he said she would die alone.

Clamoring clumsily to her feet, she stumbled a bit when she stretched to her full height and out of instinct, the dwarf reached to steady her but her eyes snapped to his again, a promise of pain in their depths should he place a hand upon her.

Retracting his hand, he only watched her with his own icy pools as she stooped to pick up her bow and the arrow she had dropped when he first attacked. Putting them both back in their appropriate places, she then stalked from the clearing with Bilbo just behind her.

Letting out a audible growl of rage, the dwarf could do nothing but follow behind them.

When they caught up with the rest of their group, Gandalf had remained at the front of the group and followed in the path that the sled had made through the foliage. The Company quickly followed until they were all racing through the trees, trying to be as silent as possible.

Hearing the wizard tempting the orcs, the troop of dwarves ran out to hide behind a nearby boulder, waiting for their chance to move again.

"Come on!" Gandalf said as they hid behind a rather large stone and waited for their opening. Radagast zoomed by on his sled, a large group of Wargs and orcs perusing him the entire way. The wizard took off and the dwarves and hobbit quickly followed him with a still panting Ren running behind Thorin and Dwalin at the back.

How she had managed to regain her strength so quickly was completely lost on her hobbit companion.

However as they came out into an open area, the rabbit drawn sleigh and the back of Wargs crossed before them and the group froze in place, all of silently praying that they wouldn't be noticed.

"Stay together!" Gandalf warned before turning and running in the opposite direction. Their boots pounded as they raced across the dry grasslands and Ren continued to float at the back of the group, keeping a close eye on the rear. They stopped behind another large stone, Thorin grabbing Ori as he almost gave away their position when he accidentally stepped a few feet out into the orcs' view.

Once they had passed by again, Gandalf urged them forward but as his Company moved on, Thorin stayed by Gandalf's side. "Where are you leading us?" The wizard never answered and instead brushed passed Thorin to continue running.

The group once again had to swerve as the orc pack came close to them and they were all pressed up against the base of a large rock when an orc atop a Warg came to stand on the ridge above them. Ren was crouched down, for the rocky ledge hiding them was that much too short for her slight height advantage. Instead, she had dropped down onto one knee and she was leaned back against the stone.

Thorin looked over at his dark haired nephew before glancing sideways over at the female archer in their group. For a moment, he pushed aside the hatred he held towards her for the sake of the group. He inclined his brows towards her, implying what he wanted her to do and it took only half a moment that she received his message.

He wanted this taken care of quickly and quietly.

Kili then looked to Ren, their eyes locking in silent understanding though the woman was a bit more hesitant in accepting the order. She was still very much peeved with Thorin. But, for the quest and for her dwarf companions, she would comply this final time.

She pointed to herself and mouthed the word 'orc' before pointing to him and mouthing 'warg'. He nodded before readying his bow before looking back to her again. "One, two, three." She mouthed.

At the same time, the moved away from the stone. Ren tucked and rolled out into the open before she spun back and took aim. Kili also turned back to face their enemies.

Firing, they both hit their mark and the orc was hit straight through the forehead. His body tumbled right off the Warg and to the stony ground. The wolf creature was only hit in the chest and tumbled down the side of the stones, growling and howling in pain the entire time.

The Company quickly set to work silencing the beast but it was all for naught. They had been found. You see, he had made quite a ruckus and had decided to not come as quietly as they had first hoped.

"Move! Run!" Gandalf commanded as he left the Company behind. They all began to run out across the flat lands again. After a few minutes, Bilbo began to fall behind and he was breathing heavily. He was not a long distance runner.

Seeing this, Ren reached back and grabbed a hold of his waist coat before pulling him forward and placing him between the rest of the Company and herself. She would make sure that he kept up. She wouldn't leave him behind. She couldn't leave anyone behind despite the burning pain she felt in her throat.

"This way! Quickly!" Gandalf began to lead them in another direction and the Warg's howls began to draw nearer. Bilbo stopped momentarily to see the large beats lumbering towards them and his eyes grew wide.

"Keep running!" Ren commanded the hobbit with her still weak voice, using one hand to hold her bow while the other urgently pushed him forward. He complied with her command and moved forward. He felt bad for weighing on her so heavily. He didn't want her to have to worry about him so he decided to trek on without her having to keep reminding him. He wanted her mind to stay in the battle that was about to take place.

It wasn't long before Fili called out that they were surrounded completely and the Wargs began to close in for their kill. This caused the huntress to growl in frustration, knowing that they were about to get into close quarters with their very enemies. She needed to protect Bilbo.

She hoped that the rest could take care of themselves.

Ren took up post atop a nearby boulder and fired at any Warg that came to close for her liking. The least she could do was buy them sometime to recover from their run. The mangy creatures began to drop like flies but the Wargs with riders were smart enough to stay back out of her range, simply waiting for her to run out of arrows as she shot at them.

"Where's Gandalf?" One of the members called in the distance but the woman still heard them.

"He's abandoned us!" Gloin replied and Ren lowered her bow upon hearing those words. She stepped down off the boulder and she took a few threatening steps towards towards the redheaded dwarf, her fury still alight from her scuffle with Thorin.

"Gandalf would never leave us behind." She hissed with disbelief, her eyes seeming to blaze with blue flames. When she faced forwards to fire once more, all she heard was the growl and saw the gaping mouth as a Warg was about to leap on her. She froze in place, her heart pounding loudly in her ears. She could not blink, she could not look away as she anticipated the pain that was no doubt to come.

However, she was saved when a flash of silver came out of nowhere and cut down the animal just before it could reach her.

Her wide eyes looked up to find Thorin's own eyes boring into her own pair. She took a deep breath to calm her rapidly beating heart but then her eyes widened again as she raised her bow and suddenly fired at him.

Thorin surely thought his life was going to end as she pointed her bow at him, only for the arrow to just graze some of his dark hair before it impaled itself into the lunging Warg right behind him. The beast dropped dead with a yelp, one of her arrows protruding from inside the gaping hole of its mouth.

His eyes widened as he turned to look back at the female. She gave him a slightly shaken nod of thanks and he returned the gesture after a moment but both their eyes remained icy when looking at each other.

Hearing another growl coming up behind him, he turned and sliced the Warg to instantly kill the beast. Once he was finished, he turned back to look at Ren, only to find her missing, already off in the distance, slaying an orc that had lept upon his blond nephew.

"Hold your ground!" Thorin commanded as the female helped his heir up off the ground. It wasn't until he blinked that he lost sight of her once again.

"This way you fools!" Gandalf called to the group as he emerged from the rock face behind them. They all looked back as he motioned them over before they all sprang into action and headed towards the cluster of stones.

"Quickly! All of you!" Thorin commanded as he stood beside the entrance to the hidden passageway.

One by one the dwarves and hobbit began to slide down into the hidden passageway, joining the wizard in the bottom of the pit.

"Kili!" Thorin spotted his nephew who was still firing arrows and covering one lone figure in the distance. Squinting, Thorin could make out the blonde hair of the lone woman in their group. In both her hands, she held her new sword which nearly blinded him as the silver surface caught the sunlight.

She had run out of arrows, save for one. Valiantly fighting against the enemies that were closing in, she tried to give the dwarves more time to also continued to fight despite the fact that the dwarf covering her had left and she now stood alone but that did not seem to affect her fighting.

With a growl of exertion, she turned around as a Warg lept at her. Spearing the large beast on her new blade, she let out a noise of strain as she held the beast up upon her sword. Warm, black blood came spraying down onto her clothes, hands, and face. She made a noise of disgust as she ripped her new sword free as the creature collapsed onto its side, dead. She wiped the back of her arm across her face, only smearing the black liquid more across her face. She grumbled in annoyance as she jerked her hand towards the ground, the blood splattering off her sleeve and to the ground.

"Ren!" Thorin shouted to her, knowing that now was the chance for them to escape to safety. She only glanced back momentarily, almost as if she were ignoring him. For a moment, he felt panic rise in his chest when he saw her nearly completely covered in black liquid, her eyes the only thing really visible. The blood also dripped down her sword and as she glanced back at him, her eyes only continued to blaze with loathing. The way she held herself was almost predatory and the dwarf thought he felt a glimmer of familiarity towards her but he pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind when he saw more orcs and Wargs approaching in the distance.

Yet, even though he had called her name, she had ignored him and turned back to fight. This only infuriated him and he let out a growl of frustration "REN!" He shouted and this time she really looked back.

They shared another look across that great distance, no words needing to be exchanged between them.

Retreat... Come back.

She held his icy irises for a long moment, an inner battle being waged in her mind. Letting out a sigh, she let her shoulders slump in slight defeat as she decided what to do.

Very well.

He had called her by name, she realized as she twirled her sword expertly in his hand. It was the very first time he had done so.

With an audible grumble, she sheathed her blade and turned before she began sprinting towards them, pumping both her arms as she propelled herself forward. Making room for her, Thorin slid down into the hidden pathway, waiting for the woman to join them.

Hearing a loud growling coming behind her, Ren reached back and took hold of the bow over her shoulder before pulling out the only arrow she had left out of the quiver and knocking it.

As she stepped out over the hole of the hidden passage way, she turned in midair and took aim. As she fell downward, she loosed the string and fired the arrow. The Warg let out a loud cry of pain before she fell down into the hole, the creature's mouth closing around the air where her foot had been only a moment ago.

Landing on the hard stone ground on her back, she hissed in pain as she continued to tumble down into the hole. She heard and felt something crack in her body before the pain came searing into her system. Ribs. She thought to herself as her body tumbled head over heels.

Strong hands stopped her continuous tumble and her head spun for a moment as someone seized her shoulders and pulled her deeper into the cave. As she lazily opened her dazed blue eyes, she looked up to find that Thorin himself gripped tightly to her shoulders.

"Are you alright?" He asked, seeing the confusion written in her pupils.

"I-I don't know..." She breathed, her mind and body both still shaken. She was sure that something was broken in her body, she just had yet to feel it with all the adrenalin coursing through her veins. "I will be..." I hope.

At those words, the dwarf lord released her shoulders and stepped in front of her to make sure that the entrance was continuously guarded, his new sword clutched tightly in his palms.

Ren lay back down on the ground and Gandalf was by her side in a moment.

"Are you alright?" He repeated Thorin's words.

"J-Just let me sit quietly for a moment..." She panted Bilbo's words as the pain began to ooze into her body from the back of the right side of her rib cage.

Outside the cave, the orcs were prowling about, looking for the passage that the dwarves had used to escape. Luckily enough, it was hidden well enough that they were having difficulties finding it which provided them with some time.

Feeling well enough after a few longer moments, Ren sat up but clutched her side in the process, her teeth gritted as she did so. Kili and Fili carefully helped her up from the ground, both of them attempting to dust her off but it was all for naught seeing as how she was almost unrecognizable as she was covered with black blood from the ridge of her nose all the way down to her boots, the sticky liquid covering her entire front and staining her clothes.

A horn suddenly sounded above them, drawing all their attention away from her. The sounds of battle also reach their ears and Ren only wiped her nose before looking over at Gandalf.

She knew where he was taking them now. She didn't even have to see the arrow that was embedded into the orc that fell down into their hiding place to know where they were going.

"Elves." Thorin growled before throwing the arrow down in disgust.

"I cannot see where the pathway leads!" Dwalin called from the back of the cave where a tunnel opened up. "Do we follow it or no?"

"Follow it of course!" Bofur said as he chased after Dwalin and the rest of the Company soon followed.

"I think that would be wise..." Gandalf said as he exchanged another look with Ren before she followed after little Bilbo who kept sending her odd looks as she clutched her side. Gandalf also noticed this as she walked by, her hand holding her ribs with a slightly pained expression on her face.

The Company walked for what felt like forever, the passage way getting smaller and smaller the closer they got to their destination. The dwarves grew uneasy as the walls drew nearer. The group had to walk in a single file line through some parts of the crevice. Ren walked quietly through the tight spaces, only having to twist and turn slightly to make it through the passage.

It was about an hour later that the narrow path opened up to a wider shelf so that they could look out over the sights that lay before them.

Ren walked ahead of Bilbo and turned back, wanting to see the look of wonder on his face at what lay before them. For after all, he never seemed to stop talking about elves and at one point in their journey, Ren had asked him to stop doing so, saying that his infatuation with them was unhealthy.

And as she had predicted, his face lifted into a smile of awe as the sun shone down into the large valley before them.

"The Valley of Imladris." Gandalf said as he came around the corner, him being the last person. "In common tongue, it's known by another name."

"Rivendell." Bilbo said quietly, still in awe.

"Here lies the Last Homely House East of the sea." Gandalf continued to explain and Ren shot him another look. He was very sneaky. Very sneaky indeed. She knew that the king in their Company would not be pleased with this new development.

"This was your plan all along! To seek refuge with our enemy!" Thorin accused the wizard. Ren listened to their conversation, wiping her eyes the entire time all the while smelling herself and nearly gagging.

She really needed to change her clothes and wash off. She smelt rather foul and her hair was starting to become stiff with the dark liquid as well.

"You have no enemies here, Thorin Oakenshield. The only ill will to be found is that what you bring yourself!" The wizard scolded and this only fueled the dwarf's anger further.

"You think the elves will give our quest their blessing? They will try to stop us..." Thorin said this and Gandalf couldn't help but let his eyes wander back to Ren. She was still struggling with her own wound, her hand clutched to her side and every once in awhile, her face would contort in pain when she breathed too deeply. The longer she stood still, the more it would begin to hurt.

"Of course they will. But we have questions that need to be answered." Thorin could only bow his head in defeat. "If we are to be successful, this will need to be handled with tact and respect and no small degree of charm. Which is why you will leave the talking to me!"

"But are you so sure that we must stop here?" The prince asked once more and all Gandalf had to do was motion his head slightly in Ren's direction. Thorin now noticed how she was holding her side and she winced every once in a while, though she was trying very hard to hide it. He also noticed the angry red mark that lingered on the flesh around her neck. He could make out finger marks that wrapped around to nearly the back of her neck which had somehow remained clean of blood.

He sighed through his nose, a sort of adoration shinning through his eyes as he gazed at her. He hadn't even realized that she was hurt until Gandalf had mentioned it. She hadn't voiced her pain, she hadn't complained.

No, she was not the type of woman he had first believed her to be. Brave, courageous, and strong in her own way. She was not soft in the slightest. She was one of the strongest members of his group.

"Very well..." He said, actually taking her own wounds into consideration.

She had kept her pain to herself if only to get the group to move forward on their journey. Hopefully, the elves could help her. Elves did, after all, have very powerful medicine and she would be healed easily and quickly. For he wished not to remain in the Hidden Valley longer than necessary, even if the woman did need their healing.

You know what to do! Read and review!

Hey, thanks for all the reviews last chapter guys! It was pretty awesome.

Anyway, yes they are moving right along in the story. We have already reached Rivendell. And the pot will be stirred. Thorin and Ren may be getting along fine at the moment but just you wait.

Anyway, yeah. Ren's hurt now. She'll be okay now. She's a big girl.

Plus, she knows Radagast! Their story together will probably be explained later in the story. I hope, anyway.

Read and review! Stay tuned for the next chapter!

Love,

Blue

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