Bilbo felt as if his feet were frozen to the ground. He clutched his trusty Sting as the pack of goblins charged towards him, surging over the broken stone wall towards the crumbling parapet where he stood. Stained and jagged teeth flashed and claws lashed towards him, and Bilbo braced himself for the inevitable impact.
Please, don't let me die. Not here, not now.
A Dwarfish battle cry rang through the air. Dwalin flung himself between the tiny hobbit and the goblins. The massive dwarf swung his mace at the first line of goblins, sending several plummeting over the parapet towards the rocky ground below. Those few seconds of protection gave Bilbo the time he needed to steel himself for battle. He took a deep breath and charged into the fray, swinging his sword wildly. Goblins lunged and charged all around him and Bilbo could hear Dwalin grunting and cursing as he fought against the tide of goblins.
Bilbo felt his insides trembling, but he had learned to internalize his fear and use the raw emotion as energy. His grip was steady and his aim was sure, but that didn't stop goblin claws from raking at his arms. He silently thanked Thorin for the iron mesh vest he'd been given as protection.
One of the goblins lunged at Bilbo, aiming for his face. Bilbo staggered back, slashing his sword wildly at the goblin. The goblin scraped its claws across Bilbo's chest (still, thank heaven, protected by his vest) and screamed in his face. Bilbo shoved the goblin off with his free arm and plunged Sting into its chest, closing his eyes against the blood that spattered on the frosted stones.
He took a step back, no longer amid the throng, and watched for a split second as Dwalin battled on. The goblin ranks had been severely diminished; only a few remained clinging to Dwalin's armor, and the ground was littered with their bodies and stained with their dark blood. Bilbo felt a surge of hope.
We might actually get out of this alive!
A crash sounded above, and Bilbo looked to the top of the wall. Instantly his spirits plummeted; another horde of goblins was on its way.
"Dwalin!" he shouted, pointing Sting at the stream of goblins scurrying across the rocks towards them. Dwalin flung a goblin off the parapet and looked to where Bilbo was pointing, his grim face darkening further when he saw what was coming.
"Stand fast," he shouted, brandishing his mace at the coming horde. "Don't let them get past you!"
Bilbo swallowed and braced himself again. He was used to fighting alongside the entire company, relying on their combined strength and skill for protection and assistance. For the first time, it was just him and Dwalin against a mass of creatures Bilbo had prayed he would never have to lay eyes on again.
Dwalin swung his mace, casting several of the goblins aside, but more just kept coming. Bilbo thought quickly; if he jumped into the middle of the fray once again, there was a chance the goblins might avoid him and escape down the ancient stone stairs. He needed a way to combat them from a distance. Tucking Sting securely into his belt, he cast about for the large, sharp rocks that were scattered around the ruins. Bilbo picked up the nearest stone and aimed, flinging it at a goblin on the top of the wall. It struck it in the face; the goblin fell screaming to the ground to be trampled by the rest of the horde. Bilbo picked up another rock and threw it, and another and another, leaping and dodging as the goblins swarmed nearer.
Dwalin was too focused to appreciate the hobbit's contributions, but Bilbo was making it significantly easier for him to deal with the goblins that did make it over the wall. His mace served him well, bludgeoning and skewering and cleaving, and his metal-reinforced boots kicked the goblins that clawed at his feet. Though he had little energy to focus on anything but keeping the seemingly endless flow of goblins in check, he still felt worry for Bilbo gnawing at the back of his mind. When he thought he could afford it, he cast a quick glance over at the hobbit to make sure he was still standing. A flash of relief and pride warmed his soul when he saw Bilbo nimbly dodging the goblins that charged at him and hurling stone after stone into their ranks. The hobbit had certainly come a long way from being the fussy, fidgety, and fearful little being he'd been when Dwalin first laid eyes on him. The look of steely determination on his face was one he would not have expected to see even a few days ago.
Bilbo also made sure to keep an eye on Dwalin as he fought. The strong dwarf seemed to be doing well, never letting the goblins overcome him, always ready with a swing and a punch as they clawed and bit and slashed. But Bilbo noticed with a seeping dread that yet more goblins were making their way over, and some of them were carrying weapons of their own.
Dwalin saw this too and narrowed his eyes, preparing himself for the intensity that was soon to ensue. He tightened his grip on his mace and, with a mighty heave, thrust away the majority of the goblins clinging to his armor. A group of goblins leapt over the wall, wielding sharpened poles and makeshift pieces of metal to use as weapons.
"Get ready, Bilbo!" he grunted. "Keep trying to get them at a distance." He brandished his mace threateningly at the oncoming horde. Bilbo flung a rock at the goblin at the head of the group, sending it toppling over the wall and under the feet of its ruthless companions.
A goblin charged at Dwalin, and their weapons clashed with the resounding screech of metal on metal. Bilbo put his hand on the hilt of his sword in preparation for an armed attack, but remained at a distance as Dwalin had said, dodging and weaving to collect the stones that would land with the greatest force.
One of the goblins charged at him; Bilbo ducked and fumbled with his sword, yanking it out to parry as the goblin swung its own sword at him. Their weapons met halfway and Bilbo tried to thrust, but the goblin held its ground. Panting with exertion and fear, Bilbo shoved for all he was worth until he flung the goblin back. He stumbled forward, his balance upset by the sudden lack of force. The goblin slashed at Bilbo's chest with its sword, but thanks to the vest, it only knocked Bilbo aside rather than tearing through his skin.
Bilbo's muscles burned; he tried to stave the swimming in his head by taking another deep breath. He barely had time to ready himself for the next goblin that lunged at him. Caught in the fray once more, Bilbo fought frantically to keep the goblins in place, dreading that more than a few would slip past and make their way towards the others. As if his friends and allies didn't have enough to worry about!
A particularly large goblin carrying a thick sharpened pole had managed to slip past Dwalin and was making its way for the stairs behind Bilbo. Bilbo panicked, knowing that if a larger goblin gave them the slip, others would surely follow. He knocked aside the goblin that clinging to his arm, and charged at the large one making for the stairs.
Bilbo leapt in front of the goblin and raised his sword for a swing. The goblin dodged and smacked Bilbo across the head with his pole. The blunt wood crashed against his skull with brutal force. Bilbo fought to remain standing, but the splitting pain roared through his consciousness and he felt the sword fall from his hands. He collapsed, pain consuming his vision and smothering him in darkness.
Dwalin was surrounded by goblins; goblins wielding steel and wood and those bearing only their claws and teeth. Metal clashed, wood pounded, claws and teeth gnashed, and throaty snarls filled the air. The din was deafening, and yet somehow through it all, Dwalin unmistakably heard the thud as Bilbo was hit, and the tiny grunt of pain from the small creature. He whipped around in time to see Bilbo fall backwards onto the rocks, where he lay limp and still.
"Bilbo!" Dwalin screamed, raging with fury and fear. He would slaughter the vile beast that hurt a hair on the hobbit's head, let alone...was it possible...?
No! Bilbo could not be dead. After fending for himself so bravely in this horrendous fight, Dwalin doubted he would be killed by a single blow to the head. But the fact that Bilbo had been hurt enraged him. If only he could rush over to the hobbit and make sure he was alright.
Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, the goblins charged on him with renewed vigor. And since Bilbo was no longer throwing rocks into their midst, a clump of them were able to charge past Dwalin and head for the stairs, following the one who had dared hurt Bilbo.
Dwalin shook off the goblins crawling on his back and shoulders; his fury lent him the strength to take out several more in one swing of his mace. He charged after the goblins that had made their escape, pursued by those who had not.
He risked a glance back at Bilbo, who had not risen from the ground. Fear clenched at Dwalin's stomach at the thought of leaving him behind. But he didn't have a choice. He had to finish off the goblins, now without the help of the hobbit. And he would die before he let them escape and hurt another of his friends.
Hours later, Bilbo woke alone. It was quiet then and the goblins had gone. His limbs felt heavy as iron and his head throbbed from the blow he had received. But he opened his eyes to a beautiful sight. Giant eagles flew above his head, their majestic figures as clear-cut as marble against the sharpness of the winter sky. Eagles, soaring towards Erebor and swooping into the battle.
"The eagles," he murmured. "The eagles have come." Now they might have a chance. Now Erebor would surely be saved.