Chapter 10: The Blame Game
Gailien stands near Fili and Kili as the trolls begin plucking the dwarves one by one from their group. The cross-eyed one still holds Bilbo as leverage and the fatter one kicks all of their weapons out of reach, leaving them with nothing to protect themselves except their wits. But how do you reason with half-wits like trolls?
Gailien doesn't realise it but as Ori who is standing in front of her is grabbed next, his hands and feet being tied up in a strong twine, her own hand grasps Fili's jacket. Fili does notice but makes no move to pull away. It seems silly, just standing and waiting to be taken by the trolls, watching the other company members being sacked up. But there is nothing they can do just yet that would not result in the death of the burglar that Gailien has grown fond of in this short time. Kili is taken next, putting up a verbal fight, even spitting at one of them. Gailien can feel Fili shift next to her as his brother is tied up. Soon, even Fili is taken, leaving Gailien with the second half of the company.
Unlike the others who are tied up and put in burlap sacks, the second half are stripped of their over clothes, leaving the dwarves in their undergarments and Gailien in her blouse and pants. Her jacket is the only other thing taken from her as she does not wear as many layers. Their hands are tied together but their feet are left untouched. They are set up in two sort-of circles, their backs facing the middle. Another rope is wrapped around them but stays loose.
Until a large skewer is placed in the middle of them and the rope tightens holding them to it. Gailien is on the bottom group, tied to the skewer that they put over the fire. Dwalin's legs digging into her shoulders as he is tied up above her. The skewer spins around, her view constantly changing from the night sky, to the other dwarves, to the fire, then finally to the trolls and sky again.
Her sides are squished up against her from both the rope and the other dwarves unfortunate enough to end up in the same place as her. The heat of the fire is low until they start adding logs, the flames licking the air higher until her front begins to ache at the heat every time she faces it.
Along with the others, she wriggles around, trying to find any sort of escape now that Bilbo has also been put with the dwarves on the ground. At least Thorin and his nephews have a greater chance of survival than she does at this moment. Although if she is to die here, she would rather not have Dwalin constantly digging her heels into her as she is cooked – just another uncomfortable inconvenience that she would rather avoid if possible.
She grumbles to herself as she spins, glaring at Thorin. She had warned him, and he had not listened. And look where it got them. But her glare softens as she finds Thorin watching her and the rest of his company with nothing but anger and concern mixing on his face.
"Hey!" The cross-eyed one points his finger at Gailien as she turns in front of the trolls. "This one doesn't look like a dwarf or a burglar-hobbit." His finger moves forward, poking Gailien in the chest. Gailien kicks her feet against her hold.
"Sevig thû úan," she spits. The troll jumps back in shock.
"What did she say?" he asks the other who shrugs. He turns to his other companion. "She said some words, but I couldn't understand them." He leans forward, his neck stretching forward as Gailien makes a full circle, coming back up to face them. "Say it again," the troll demands.
"Pedin i phith in aníron, a nin ú-cheniathog," she says this time with just as much hate as before. The troll moves back again, shoving another accusing finger at her but at least this one does not poke her chest.
"She did it again!" he cries out.
"Leave her alone!" Kili sits up from his spot on the ground, only his head visible through the brown food sack he's been shoved in. The trolls peer down at the dwarf but Kili doesn't back down.
"Maybe he knows what she said," the troll with the apron says as he turns the trolls on the spit. They are quite literally, being roasted like pigs. Gailien appreciates the young prince standing up for her, but this is probably not the best time for useless titbits of courage such as this. Their energy needs to be spent on conjuring an escape plan.
"Ah! Just ignore them," the fattest one says. "A forget cooking 'em. Let's just sit on 'em and squash 'em into jelly!"
"They should be sautéed and grilled with a sprinkle of sage," the other one argues – something they seem to do a lot of. Perhaps their arguing could cause a delay in their cooking.
"Oh, that does sound quite nice," the fat one agrees. The third, ugliest one growls.
"Never mind the seasoning, we ain't got all night! Dawn ain't far away, let's get a move on! I don't fancy been turned to stone."
Bilbo's eyes widen as the trolls have just provided him with a piece of information that can potentially save the dwarves lives and end their own. He sits up, balancing so he can stand on his feet. He bounces away from the dwarves who watch him intently. Gailien however, is thinking the same thing but has yet to come up with a good idea for them to argue over.
"Wait!" Bilbo cries. "You are making a terrible mistake." Gailien remains silent, watching Bilbo until she is turned out of view and she strains her senses to listen in. Bilbo is not a weapon-wielding sort of creature, but he does have his wits about him and if he has a plan, well, it will do them more good than harm.
"You can't reason with them, they're half-wits!" Dori cries out.
Bofur, who is next to Gailien on the spit exclaims "half-wits? What does that make us?" Gailien holds back any sort of sarcastic remark, figuring that is she gets out of this alive, she will have plenty of time to insult them later.
Bilbo jumps forward along the ground, still in his sack. "I meant with the…uh, with the…with the seasoning," he says. One of the trolls near the spit steps forward, bending over to peer at Bilbo closer. Bilbo's confidence grows as his plan starts to unfold itself.
"What about the seasoning?" the troll questions in a low raspy growl.
Bilbo leans forward, like an action taken if you wish to gossip with someone while the topic of conversation is nearby. "Well, have you smelt them?" He gestures to the dwarves on the ground with his head. "You're gonna need something stronger than sage before you plate this lot up!" His words come out insulting like he is disgusted by the dwarves himself. Gailien's face begins to brighten.
"You clever hobbit," she beams to herself. She coughs, preparing her voice to be heard. "May I suggest some mint! Or perhaps some rosemary. They have a lovely aroma to mask the smell." Bilbo internally grins that at least one other person has caught onto his ploy. As long as the trolls don't, he might be able to stall them until sunrise.
The dwarves are just as slow as the trolls. Kili frowns, throwing insults that are lost into the air as his brother kicks around grunting at his restraints. The other dwarves are just as bad, as they believe their two non-dwarf companions are betraying them.
"What do you know about cooking dwarf?" the troll names William questions as he continues turning half of the dwarves and Gailien on the spit. She's beginning to feel mighty uncomfortable now and she finds it hard to imagine how the others are who have a much greater surface area to be heated.
Bilbo opens his mouth but the other troll, Bert leans down, interested in what the small hairy creature has to offer. "Shut up, and let the…uh, flurgerbubur-hobbit talk."
Bilbo gives Bert a quick appreciative smile as he stumbles over his next words. "Uh…the- the secret to cooking dwarf, is um…" he trails off as his mind finds nothing. Bert becomes impatient.
"Yes? Come on."
"Tell us the secret!"
"Ye-yes, I'm telling you," Bilbo hurries as ideas fly through his head faster than he can latch onto them and make sense. "The secret is…to…" He screws his face shut as something finally makes its way to his tongue. "…To skin them first!"
Once again, the dwarves cry in outrage. "Tom, get me the filleting knife."
"Oi, but what does this other one think?!" Tom squirms, pointing a figure at Gailien. "She said something about rosemary." Gailien comes back around the spit again, facing Bilbo and the other dwarves on the ground who are throwing the girl and Bilbo accusing looks.
"Uh, oh, uh yes," Gailien stammers. "Yes! You should skin them, but you want to have the seasoning ready, so their smell doesn't ruin their taste!" Even more insults – which is almost now a tradition, are thrown her way as she spins away from them. Dwalin's feet dig even more so into her shoulders but Gailien knows the Dwalin is very aware of his doing.
"What a load of rubbish!" William growls. "I've eaten plenty with their skins on. Scoff 'em I say, boots and all!"
Bilbo and Gailien's efforts start to fall apart as the trolls start to lose interest in their cooking classes. They can both see the sun ever so slightly beginning to rise over the horizon. The trolls are sure to turn to stone now, but whether they are in the troll's stomachs or alive is a whole other matter to be discovered.
"He's right! Nothing wrong with a bit o' raw dwarf." He walks over to the stack of sacked dwarf, picking up the largest – Bombur – and removes the sack around him. Tom holds Bombur high over his head, his bright red beard looping down towards the ground. Gailien panics, her mouth running before her brain.
"Not him!" she squeals, hoping her panic comes off as a concern for the trolls' wellbeing. Tom pauses, lowering the dwarf slightly, searching him over. The dwarves become quite confused: first, she was telling the trolls how to cook them, now she is stopping them from eating the dwarves? Whose side are they on?
"Why not?" he grunts.
"They're..." Her eyes close briefly, searching her brain. "…Infected!"
Bilbo gasps, his hand rising but is stopped by the sack. "Yes," he cries. "He's got worms in his…tubes." Tom throws Bombur back down to the ground, squishing Fili under his massive weight. Gailien winces as she sees the young prince grunt in pain under him. They have something – and they need to keeping playing at it until the sun rises. "In-in fact, they all have. They're infested with parasites, it's a terrible business, I wouldn't risk it, I really wouldn't."
Gailien would applaud the hobbit is she could. But the other dwarves still are not on the same page as the two. "Parasites? Did he say parasites?" Oin exclaims! Kili gapes with offence. The trolls don't respond, not taking the hobbit's or Elf's words anymore.
"Yeah, we don't have parasites!" Kili looks between Bilbo and Gailien. "You both have parasites!" The dwarves yell in agreement. Gailien rolls her eyes as Dwalin's voice roars above her. Bilbo sighs as his cause is all but lost.
"Yes, Kili! I do have parasites!" She yells to him as she turns under the fire. "In fact, I'm riddled with them!" She can only hope that her tone is enough for him, or any other dwarf for that matter to catch on to. It really isn't a difficult concept. It isn't Kili that catches on, but Thorin who has been mostly silent through the night, seething to himself. He brings his foot up then back down on Kili's shoulder. Kili and the other dwarves nearby go silent as they look to their leader. Thorin gives them a look but remains silent. Kili and Oin realise first (well second) and finally join in on Bilbo and Gailien's idea.
"I've got parasites as big as my arm!" Gloin cries out.
"Mine are the biggest parasites," Kili exclaims. "I've got huge parasites!" If Gailien wasn't in such a dangerous situation, she would have laughed out loud in both relief and the comical nature of the dwarves' change of attitude. They start calling out their own parasites as the trolls begin to grow worried.
"Yes, I'm riddled!"
"Yes, we are, badly!"
William, the seemingly smartest of the three trolls struts forward to Bilbo. "What would you have us do then? Let 'em all go?"
Bilbo tilts his head, deciding whether or not to push his luck. "Well…" William pokes poor Bilbo in the stomach and Gailien growls, wanting nothing more than to smack his hand away. Or stick a sword through it.
"You think I don't know what you're up to. This little ferret is taking us for fools?" Gailien glances at the sky as the colours of sunrise paint the once dark blue canvas above them. The trolls are no longer playing their games, but they only need a little longer. Moments.
"Ferret?" Bilbo huffs slightly offended at the animal comparison.
"Fools? Tom questions.
Gandalf, their lost companion has finally returned and found them at the troll camp. He leaves them for one night… "The dawn will take you all!" He appears on a large rock on the outer skirts of the camp, wielding his staff in the air.
"Can we eat him too?
Gandalf slams his staff into the rock, creating a straight slip down the middle and one side tumbles to the ground, letting the rising sunlight shower over the trolls. Gailien squints as the sun hits her eyes for the first time in hours but it is nothing compared to what the trolls face in the sunlight. They squawk, shrivelling, and sizzle. Every part of their body that the light touches turn to stone, taking over their body until they are nothing more than stones statues in the shape of trolls.
Bilbo squints, trying to see Gandalf through the light. He can't believe it worked, he cannot believe that they survived the night in the hands of trolls. The dwarves cheer joyfully, and even Thorin manages to give one of his rare smiles. Gailien sees the smile which causes her own to grow wider until Dwalin's foot hits a nerve in her shoulder.
"Ow-Dwalin" she cries. "Will you get your foot out of my shoulder!"
"Sorry lass," the warrior dwarf grunts, also feeling somebody else boot in his back.
Gandalf joins the company on the ground as the sacked dwarves untie themselves, shredding their captivity. The second half of the company has to wait as they are still tied up in thick ropes, spinning slightly over the fire. Gandalf puts out the fire and the ground dwarves kick away the hot logs, leaving a sandy pit below them. Gandalf, being the tallest, uses a sword to cut on of the ropes holding them to the spit.
Gailien is one of the luckier ones to drop down first. She grunts as her back lands on another dwarf. Bofur is the unlucky soul who not only hit the ground but had Gailien's weight dropped on him.
"Oi, get off me!" he squawks, shoving the girl off him. Gailien willingly rolls off to the side, landing on the dirt with her forearms and knees. She laughs, brushing herself off as she stands.
"Sorry, Bofur." As an apology, she drops her hand down and Bofur takes her offer, using her as an anchor to heave himself up. And just in time too, as the rest of the dwarves on the spit are cut loose, landing on the ground in a heap. Someone slaps her back and she turns around to find Fili, accompanied by his brother.
"Thought we were about to be troll dinner," Fili grins. It seems the dwarves are able to easily forget the seriousness of events quickly as all of them are still in their typical joyful moods, except perhaps Thorin but even then, he seems in a better mood. Gailien nods with an incredulous laugh.
"Took you long enough to catch on," she says, rounding off her sore shoulders. It feels as though Dwalin was standing on her shoulders. His boots must be made of steel. Kili and Fili shrug, not embarrassed by their earlier disbelief and Gailien doesn't argue.
"Just for the record," Kili says, leaning in. "I don't have parasites." Fili snorts, shaking his head as he wanders off to pick up his lost knives. Gailien also shakes her head, putting an arm around the young prince's shoulders.
"I'm sure you don't. But if you did, you'd definitely have the biggest," she responds, following Fili's lead to their weapon's pile. Kili grins proudly, though she isn't sure why that is something to be proud of. Many dwarves have already retrieved their weapons, leaving her two short blades easy to find, and she puts them back in her belt sheaths. Fili is still picking up his large number of knives, putting them in hidden spots as Kili picks up his sword. He must have left his bow at the camp.
Now without the heat of the fire, Gailien feels the slight chill in the air and she remembers that she has lost her jacket. The clothes pile is nearby, and she walks over to it, sorting through the few remaining pieces but they belong to Bofur and Dwalin who are still untangling themselves from the rope. Her jacket is missing. Frowning, she stands back up, looking out over the company in case anybody has taken it accidentally. They wouldn't fit into it as it is a small and fitted make and would realise that soon enough.
Gailien spins on her heels as Thorin speaks behind her. He holds out something made of dark leather. Her jacket. Her mouth opens in surprise, reaching out to take it from Thorin. There is still the hint of a smile on his face
"Thanks," she says, pulling the jacket on. Thorin nods, pleased that she is unharmed like the rest of the company and walks past her towards Gandalf who stands amongst the trolls. She joins in with the dwarves, helping them regain themselves again. She laughs with Ori as he describes what he would have done if his hands were not tied.
"-And I would have shot him in the eye!" he tells the group loudly. Gailien grins at the dwarf's courage. She believes she has judged him wrong – maybe not a warrior in appearance, but a warrior at heart.
"I told you our burglar would be useful," Kili says, reappearing by her side. "Didn't I Fili?" Fili tilts his head, holding his laugh at his brother's antics. Gailien's nose blows out with the large puff of air she pushes from her lungs.
"I think he's got more brains the both of you combined," she responds but keeps the smile on her face to show them her playful demeanour.
"Hang on!" Gloin exclaims, gaining the attention of the surrounding dwarves. He points a stubby finger at Gailien, catching her attention. "Aren't you supposed to prevent things like this from happening?!" Gailien's mouth opens and closes like a fish. Thorin and Gandalf have returned from their talk, just in time to see the interaction. What is she supposed to say? "Didn't you see this in one of those visions of yours?" Gloin presses with her lack of an answer.
Gailien fumbles. If she is to say no, then their trust in her would almost diminish – whatever trust she had built is little in the first place. And not to mention she would be lying. She had seen it and informed Thorin. But if she is to admit that she did, that Thorin knew of the threat and has done nothing to prevent it, would they see that as their leader recklessly endangering them? She doesn't want their trust in Thorin to falter, especially knowing that Thorin did have a decent enough reason to dismiss her claims. She hadn't seen the dwarves with the trolls and not to mention, it was an uncanny chance to find them this far from their home.
The dwarves look at her, quietly waiting for an answer. She shifts through eyes as they seem to pierce her until she finds Thorin's. He watches her intently, thinking through the exact same scenario as Gailien is. She had warned him. Gailien can't stand the thought of Thorin receiving the backlash for this, or the look Kili and Fili's eyes.
Sighing, she finally answers. "No, I did not."
Gloin growls, his finger jabbing at her. "What even is the point of having you if you can't even see something like this happening!" A few dwarves grunt in agreement and Gailien's heart thumps in her chest while her stomach growls. Fili frowns, knowing that Gailien has been able to see things, but even she had said that she cannot force visions to appear. He places a hand on the girl's back, glaring slightly at the other dwarves.
"It's her fault!"
"She could predict rain but not this?!"
"Don't listen to them," he says to her quietly. Kili nods, hooking his arm with hers.
"Yeah, they don't know what they're talking about. Besides, it's not like we nearly died or anything," Kili says in an attempt to lighten the mood. If Gailien truly hadn't seen the vision, she would not have found it funny at all, but knowing that it is not entirely her fault she can't help but let out a small giggle.
"Of course. We had it all under control, didn't we?" she cheeks, looking between the two brothers on either side of her as they walk back to their camp.
Thorin and Gandalf watch the girl leave with the brothers. While some of the company members lose faith in the girl and her abilities, Thorin's respect just blasted through the roof. He isn't foolish – he knows exactly why Gailien denied seeing anything. When he locked eyes, he could see the thoughts as though they were painted in her eyes. He refuses to let himself feel guilty, but he would thank her later, if not in words than actions.
Besides, they have a troll cave to find.
Sevig thû úan – You smell like a monster
Pedin i phith in aníron, a nin ú-cheniathog – I can say what I wish, and you won't understand me.)