A Kingly Substitution
Disclaimer: This fiction is based on the basic plot and uses characters found in J.R.R. Tolkien's book "The Hobbit"
Warning: Emotional and physical torture abound in this one as the Great Goblin tries to get information from our favorite Durins.
"Why have you entered my kingdom so heavily armed?" The Great Goblin asked looking up from the sword in his lap to glare at Thorin, the dwarves and Bilbo. "Do you come seeking war?"
"We did not intend to enter your kingdom at all," Thorin said majestically, or as majestically as he could while bound and being held between two goblins. "We were merely traveling through the mountains. We never meant to come here."
"Lies!" The Great Goblin hissed. "Besides, all of the Misty Mountains are my kingdom. Why were you traveling?" Thorin looked away. He would not tell the goblin the reason for his travels through the mountains. It was none of his business. The entirety of the Misty Mountains was not his domain.
"You will not tell me?" the Goblin asked. Silence again met his question. "If that's the case, perhaps a bit of pain will loosen your tongues. Bring me the youngest!"
"Wait!" Thorin called as goblins began to grab his youngest nephew and drag him forward. He couldn't stand the idea of seeing Kíli in pain. There was no way that he could allow it to happen if he could help it. "He knows nothing," Thoirn said, knowing that his words would hurt the company but preferring that to seeing them tortured. "None of them do."
"They don't know anything?" The Goblin King asked skeptically.
"Look at them!" Thoirn scoffed gesturing with his head at his rag-tag company—admittedly looking worse for wear since their capture. "Would you have told them anything? I am the only one that could tell you anything. We dwarves are secretive by nature, you know this. Why would I have shared information with them?"
"So you will be the one to tell me what you are doing in my kingdom?" the Goblin demanded.
"I will tell you nothing," Thorin replied lifting his head in defiance, "unless you can read the answer written in blood on the ground. Hurting them will do nothing to help you in that goal. If I don't trust them with why we are here how much can I care for them?"
"You will tell us," the Great Goblin replied gesturing with his head. In response, Kíli was thrown back into the mass of dwarves and Thorin was grabbed and pulled forward. He offered only minimal resistance as they stripped him of his armor and clothing. He didn't want them to decide that one of the smaller members of the company would be less trouble. He even resisted the urge to fight them as they bound him between two poles.
"NO!" Kíli cried attempting to rush forward. Only to be stopped by Fíli, who had seen their uncle's plan and realized what Thorin was willing to sacrifice for them. But Kíli didn't see the warning or understanding in Fíli's eyes. His own were too filled with panic at the idea that he would see his uncle tortured. He hadn't known that the quest would be like this. If he had, he never would have left home.
"Hush!" Thorin replied in Khuzdul. "I will tell them nothing and would not see you harmed. Don't do anything foolish." The Great Goblin grabbed his hair and gave it a sharp tug causing him to grimace in pain, though no cry left his throat.
"None of that now," the Goblin said. "No secrets. What did you tell the boy?"
"I told him to be silent before I cut his foolish tongue from his head," Thorin lied. Turning his head roughly to the side as the goblin released his hair. The goblin looked between the two of them and his eyes widened as he put the pieces together.
"I see," the Goblin said grinning triumphantly down at Thorin. "He is your son!"
"I have no sons!" Thorin spat, the bitterness in his voice shocking them all. They hadn't realized that Thoirn desired children. He had always seemed content—or as content as he ever was—with Fíli and Kíli.
"But he is a close relative," the Goblin pressed. "A nephew, perhaps?" As Thorin looked away the Goblin smiled. "This is too delicious! Bring the boy!"
"NO!" Thorin roared pulling on his bonds in vain. "You said that you would leave him out of this. He knows nothing!"
"Perhaps that is true and perhaps it is not," the Great Goblin replied with a shrug. "That does not concern me. Not really." As Kíli was brought to him, he grabbed a small knife and roughly cut the youngster's bonds. He felt that one dwarf should pose no threat to them.
"I have a very special task for you, lad," the Goblin said leaning towards Kíli conspiratorially, though he spoke loud enough for everyone to hear him. "Your uncle has information that I need. And you are going to get it for me. I want you to take this knife and cut your uncle. Shallow cuts if you please, we want to hurt him not kill him . . . yet. When he talks, you can stop."
"I can't," Kíli gasped looking at Thoirn with wide, desperate eyes. "I can't do that."
"If you don't," the Goblin threatened, "then you can join him. Your pain as well as his own might convince him to talk more quickly."
"Do it," Thorin said looking at Kíli trying to mask the fear that he could feel in his face at the thought of what would happen if he couldn't get the boy to comply. "Kíli, just do it."
"I can't, Uncle," Kíli sobbed mistaking the fear in his uncle's eyes for fear for Thorin's wellbeing rather than for his own. "I can't."
"You have to," Thorin said in a comforting a voice as he could manage at the time. Kíli had to do this. He couldn't bear to see the boy hurt. "It'll be alright. I swear to you, it'll be alright." Thorin didn't intend to be in this position for long. He was only stalling for time. Gandalf had been with them and would appear soon. He hoped. But, he had no way to tell Kíli, and hoped he would figure it out on his own.
"Do it," Throin breathed. Kíli's face crumpled and he extended his shaking hand and laid the blade on his uncle's chest. He looked up at Thorin, his brown eyes pleading him to do something to stop this and what was unmistakably a tear clinging to his lower lashes. Thorin nodded and with a sob, Kíli brought the knife across Throin's chest in a shallow arc.
The King tried to control the way his body flinched at the pain of the knife passing through his flesh but couldn't mask it entirely. His pained hiss gave it away and Kíli dropped the knife, placing shaking hands over the cut and sobbing. He couldn't believe that he had just cut his uncle, the only father he had ever known. Thorin's blood was on his hands and he had been the one to shed it.
"I'm sorry," he kept saying as his hands tried to force the blood back into his Uncle's body. It wasn't really that much blood. The cut had been a shallow one, but to the traumatized heir of Durin it may as well have been a river.
"Kíli," Thorin tried to get his attention. "Kíli! I'm fine. I'm fine. Now pick the knife back up." The young dwarf shook his head passionately.
"I won't," Kíli said glaring defiantly at his uncle. "I won't do it. They can't make me."
"They can," Thorin replied into his ear in a voice that was little more than a whisper. "Please, don't make me watch that. Just do as they ask. It'll only be for a little while. Only a little pain and it'll be over." Kíli knelt to retrieve the knife; his eyes looking up at his uncle were so lost that Thorin wondered if seeing the boy in physical pain would actually be worse. He felt horrible for forcing Kíli to do it but he couldn't do otherwise.
"That's a good lad," Thorin said swallowing as he felt Kíli place the knife against his flesh again. The boy's hand was shaking so severely that it caused the knife to prick him accidently.
"Again," the Goblin instructed. "Cut him again. Longer this time. From here to here." He instructed gesturing from his own collarbone to his hip. "Deeper over the chest and shallower over the rest. Don't want to cause too much damage yet," the goblin instructed.
"Uncle," Kíli pleaded. He knew that he couldn't do it. Well, he could but he didn't want to. He didn't want to cause his uncle any more pain. Not that he wanted to experience pain either, but he could handle that better than this. He wasn't sure that he could live with himself for this. Rather than reply, Kíli felt a sob rise up his throat as Thorin pressed himself into the blade, drawing blood once more before looking at his nephew levelly. Drawing a shaky breath Kíli began to move the knife, following the path that the goblin had indicated. There was more blood this time.
Thorin ground his teeth together at the pain of it. Kíli probably thought that he was helping by moving the blade so slowly, but in reality he was only making it worse. He wished that he could tell the boy to just get it over with, but Kíli was barely hanging in there as it was, one word, one hint of the pain that he was causing would be enough to tip him over the edge and cause him to refuse. No matter the pain the boy caused him, Thorin would say nothing. He would not make this any harder on Kíli than he had to.
Fíli watched in horror as his brother brought the knife to their uncle's flesh again and again at the urging of both the Goblin and Thorin himself. Kíli was sobbing uncontrollably and begging Thorin to let him stop. Fíli knew that was making it all the more difficult for their Uncle, who he could see was using all of his self-control to keep from crying out. His arms straining against his bonds and his breath beginning to come in pants. Thorin wouldn't be able to restrain himself much longer and when he cried out nothing in this world would persuade Kíli to continue. Fíli knew that then he would have to watch them both in pain and that he could do nothing to stop it. Begging for clemency would accomplish nothing and he would not betray his uncle by revealing the cause of their journey. He was soon saved having to do either thing by the smallest member of their company.
"Please," Bilbo begged, tears in his voice. "This is inhumane. Stop this."
"Halfling!" Thorin snapped in warning before Bilbo could say something that he couldn't take back.
"Don't worry," The Great Goblin said gently leaning down towards Bilbo and stroking his face delicately. "We will stop this, as soon as he tells me what I want to know."
"You'll never get it that way," Bilbo replied, sniffling slightly. "The boy will never cause the kind of pain that you need to get Thorin to talk. He said himself that he doesn't care about us enough to tell us what is going on. Why would a little emotional pain sway him? Dwarves care for nothing but gold. Not even kin." Indignation welled within the dwarves as Bilbo spoke. Did he really think so little of them that he would say such a thing to their enemies? It was only once the Great Goblin replied that they realized he was trying to save Kíli from further emotional damage.
"I hadn't thought of it that way," the Goblin replied. "Boy, give me the knife." Kíli gave it to him thankfully not realizing that he was giving the Goblin the means to torture his uncle. "Put him with the others," the Goblin ordered. They didn't rebind him but just shoved him back towards the mass of dwarves, where he clung to Fíli and sobbed heartrendingly into his brother's chest. With his hands still bound all Fíli could do was lay his head against his brothers and whisper calming words.
"That was some quick thinking, lad," Balin whispered to Bilbo. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me yet," Bilbo replied watching as the Goblin circled Thorin like an overgrown vulture. Despite what he had said, Kíli had done enough damage to be going on. The King's chest was covered in his own blood, and it was clear from the set of his shoulders and jaw that he was in pain. And that had been with a torturer that was fond of him. Bilbo hated to think of what he had condemned the King to endure through sparing his nephew, but the look of thanks in Thorin's eyes told him that the King was at least grateful . . . for now.