Chapter One

It was pouring down rain when the five dwarves entered Dale and, while it was not yet quite evening, the sky was dark. It was still early in the year –at least by the reckoning of men- and the days were short, leaving the cobblestone streets somewhat difficult to navigate. Normally, dwarves managed fairly well in the dark, but when two of them were riding atop ponies while the other three followed behind with the pony-driven cart, things got a little hazardous –especially when a stray chicken, dog, or child darted into their path.

One of the dwarves looked over his shoulder at his companions, water dripping from the corners of his hat. "Well, I'm glad the city is gettin' along so well!"

"Five years and they've almost got all the buildings repaired, I see," said the eldest of the group. "Of course, they've had help from us dwarrows to speed things along." He sat up a little straighter in the seat of the cart, narrowing his eyes as he tugged on the reins. The ponies began to turn left.

The first dwarf (whose name was Bofur) slowed his pony down, waiting for the cart to catch up to them. "Are you sure we're goin' the right way, Dori? I haven't seen many taverns or inns in this direction."

"Aye, I'm sure, laddie," Dori told him. "Ori was sure to take down detailed directions the last time we were here. Weren't you, Ori?" He looked back at his youngest brother, able to see his eyes and nose poking out from beneath the oilskin tarp covering their belongings.

"I was!" he piped up, trying to lift his head, though the tarp prevented much movement. "At the next fork, you take a right and it should be at the end of the street."

Dori nodded his thanks to him. "See? He's got it all written down in that book of his. It comes in use sometimes."

Dori and Ori's middle brother, Nori, looked back at them from his pony. "It comes in use more often than you give it credit for," he mused. "Just because Ori's a bit more of a scholar than the rest of us don't mean he's not helpful. Right you said, Ori?" They had already reached the parting of streets.

"Aye, right," Ori called. There was the sound of some shuffling coming from beneath the tarp. "Bifur! Your foot's in my gut!"

After more shuffling, a fifth voice spoke up, though he spoke in a language that was unfamiliar to non-dwarven folk. The dwarves shook their heads and laughed at his words, Bofur rolling his eyes slightly.

"If you didn't want to be crammed in there with Ori and the chests, then you shouldn't have complained about the weather," Bofur grinned. "You're the tallest amongst us; of course it's a tight fit!"

More Khuzdul came from beneath the tarp, earning another laugh from his companions. Rounding the corner, they were met by the sight of a short, but wide street. At the very end of it, a tall, three-story building stood, many of its lower windows glowing brightly with a warm, welcome light. As they approached, they were able to catch snippets of fiddles and flutes coming from inside.

Nori squinted through the dim light at the wooden sign hanging above the door. "The Full Tankard," he read aloud.

"Aye. Balin an' Dwalin said that its name is quite fitting," Dori told him. "Your tankard's never empty if'n you don't want it to be an' the food is good. They didn't stay the night, though, so I don't know how their rooms are, but they should be good enough."

"A full tankard is all I could ask for," Bofur grinned. He brushed some wet hair from his face as the five dwarves and their ponies came to a halt just a few yards away from the building. "Who's goin' to take the horses 'round back?"

"I will," Dori said, sliding down from the cart. He tugged back a corner of the tarp, watching as his youngest brother nimbly hopped out. Not so nimbly came the owner of the Khuzdul-only voice, Bifur, who had some difficulties detaching the bit of orc-axe in his head from some stray fibers of the tarp. After some fussing about, Dori pulled a small knife from his belt and trimmed the strings away, cursing under his breath. When Bifur finally clamored out of the cart, he shook his head and patted him on the back. "Nori, will you arrange for the rooms? One would be best, but two if all else fails."

"Will do."

As Dori led the ponies off around the side of the building, under a tall archway, the rest followed Nori under a covered walkway. Before going into the inn, Nori and Bofur spent a few minutes wringing their clothes, hair, and beards out as best as possible. After all, they did not want to leave puddles where they were about to sit. Once they were somewhat dryer, Nori led them onwards.

Pushing open the door, the four dwarves were greeted by warm air that smelled like mulled wine and fresh bread. There was a murmur of talk and music that filled the common room and the dwarves could see an assortment of humans sitting at various tables. They also noted that, from the looks of things, they were the only dwarves in the building.

Nori led them over to the bar, where a tall man was cleaning a mug with a clean, white rag. As he smiled down at them, they could see that he had not a single hair on his battle-scarred head, and yet, from the nose down, his face was hidden beneath an ashen beard that any dwarf would have been proud of.

"Good evening, master dwarves!" he said, his voice hearty and friendly despite his somewhat-intimidating appearance. "What can I get for you this evening? Perhaps some nice, mulled wine to warm your bones?"

Bifur, Bofur, and Ori grinned at his words, but it was Nori who spoke. "Some food and drink would be lovely," he said, "but we're also needing a room or two. There's five of us; my brother is out with the horses."

The man nodded and heaved up a large book. "An' how long will you be stayin' with us, Master…?"

"Nori. And a week, if that's possible, sir."

As the two of them worked out things, the other three looked around curiously. It had been a long while since they had been in any sort of human establishment –let alone one in Dale. Merriment seemed to be in good quantity as did the food, for as they stood there, two women came hurrying out of the kitchen. The older of the two, a blonde woman, balanced a single tray of stew and ale atop her hand while the younger, a brunet who shared some resemblance to the bald man, balanced two trays that were full to the brim with food and drink.

"Baylee!" The three jumped, looking at the man as his voice boomed across the room. "When you're done there, lass, come show these lads to a table!" He looked back down at the dwarves, the smile still on his lips. "I'll have Wenna ready your rooms," he told them, "and she'll show you to them when she's done. For now, my daughter will be takin' care of you."

As if on cue, the brunet woman appeared, looking slightly out of breath, but wore a smile. "Evenin' lads!" she smiled, though it faltered as she saw how wet they still were. "Alright, you lot are getting' a nice toasty place by the fire," she chuckled. "This way!"

She led them over to a low, round table that was lined on either side with chairs and stools. It stood somewhat near to the enormous fireplace, allowing for its heat to warm them up, but not roast them. The dwarves shrugged off their jackets and hats, hanging them on the back of their chair or letting them sit on the hearth to dry.

"So, what'll it be for you lads tonight?" Baylee asked.

"What sorts of food do you have, miss?" Ori asked, tossing one of his braids over his shoulder.

"Well, tonight, we've some hearty potato 'n ham stew," she began, "an' there's quite a bit o' chicken soup left. We've also got breads, fruit pies, fried fish, sausages, baked vegetables, cheese…" Her eyes squinted slightly as she tried to remember if there was anything else that she hadn't listed and decided there wasn't. "As for drinks, we've ale, wine, mulled wine, beer, and cider."

"Well, I don't know 'bout my companions, but I'll take a nice mug o' beer," Bofur said, grinning, "and a bowl of that stew with some bread and sausages."

"I'll have some mulled wine with soup, bread, cheese, and vegetables," Ori chirped.
"Ale, fish, an' stew for me," said Nori, "and my brother will have cider, stew, and a fruit pie when he gets in."

"Mâ izhûl kheluz gorog, humund, dagh, rakhùs drâgzu, nagöm böraz," Bifur said last. Baylee stared at him for a moment; she, like most beings on Middle Earth, was unable to speak Khuzdul.

"Er…Alright…an' that means what, lads?" she asked with a small, awkward chuckle.

Bofur smiled apologetically at her and opened his mouth to speak, but Ori spoke up first. "It means he'll have some beer, the bread, fish, a plate of sausages, and a pie, if you please, miss," he translated.

She nodded in understanding, committing their orders to memory. "Thank you," she smiled. "I'll have your drinks in just a moment."

The dwarves watched as she walked off, disappearing into the crowd of people. Bofur gave his cousin a small pat on the shoulder.

"We'll get you speaking common again someday," he told him. "For now…just don't wander off on your own, alright?"

"Mâ katû ," Bifur said, nodding affirmatively.

It was then that Dori returned to the group. Like the others, he had wrung his clothes outside before coming in, but he was still left rather wet. Ori got up from his spot, letting his brother sit nearer to the fire while he took a seat between Nori and Bifur. As Dori got situated, he pulled a short pipe from his belt and sighed, leaning back in his short chair.

"I take it I didn't miss much then?" he asked, also pulling a pouch from his belt.

Nori shook his head. "We've two rooms. You, me, 'n Ori will get our own room while Bifur an' Bofur get the other. I also took the liberty of orderin' your meal for you."

"Ah, good. What am I havin' then?" he asked, fixing the pipe between his teeth as he started his attempts to light it.

Nori rested an elbow on the table as he moved to pull out his own pipe. "Cider, stew, and a pie. How much leaf have you left?"

"Enough." As he tossed his pouch to his brother, Baylee returned, carrying just one tray now; it was filled with an assortment of drinking vessels. Two foaming, wooden mugs of beer she placed in front of Bifur and Bofur; a clay mug of ale was placed in front of Nori; Ori got a smaller, but wider, mug of mulled wine.

"An' you must be the cider drinker," she mused, setting a warm, wooden mug in front of Dori. "Next time ya lads see me, I'll have your food for ya," she smiled before once again leaving them be.

Dori tilted his head back, letting a circle of smoke leave his mouth. He watched as it rose into the air before dispersing into the air. "Certainly the most friendly humans I've come across," he said. "And good service."

"The drink's even better!" Bofur grinned, his upper lip covered in beer foam. "The folk of Dale were always quite good at brewin' beer an' ale."

"Laddie, you've forgotten that these folk are newcomers to Dale," Nori told him.

"But their ancestors originally lived in Dale," Ori added. "So, it wouldn't surprise me that they still make good alcohols." He took a drink of his mulled wine, a noise of pleasant surprise leaving his throat. "This isn't human-brewed wine!" he said, his eyes wide.

The other dwarves raised their eyebrows, skeptical of his claim. "Zûr mâ katû?" asked Bifur.

"I tasted this same stuff in the barrels when we was in the elf palace!" He took another drink of his wine. "Of course, it's got some different flavors, since it's warmed and has spices in it, but I know the stuff. It was some of the best wine I've had."

"And you've had how much wine in your life, laddie?" Nori mused. "Not much."

"That's why I remember it so well," Ori said, a small pout coming to his lips.

Bifur let out a small laugh. "Girij gi azbadme nazurk," he told the others, his hand moving to scratch his chin.

"A woman's drink it may be," Dori grinned, smoke furling from his mouth and nostrils, "but why do you think they're such fierce warriors? Their heads are clearer than ours!"

The others laughed and Nori patted Ori on the back. "It's no wonder that he's the smartest of us then," he mused. He grinned, watching as his youngest brother turned bright red and glanced down at his lap shyly.

"Nothin' wrong with bein' smart, lad," Bofur told him reassuringly. He raised a finger, pointing at him with a smile. "Havin' brains can be more useful than havin' muscles. Though, havin' both isn't too bad, either. Why, Thorin -may he forge with the ancients- had both o' them! When he was alive, he was smarter 'n a fox an' strong as an ox." He took a drink from his beer, a chorus of 'ayes' coming from the other dwarves.

"Good leader, he was. Aulë bless his soul," Dori sighed. In unison, the dwarves took a drink in memory of their fallen leader.

Setting his mug down, Dori looked up in time to see Baylee and the blonde-haired woman coming towards the table. Each carried two large trays of food.

Baylee pointed at Bifur and Bofur. "Sausages go there an' there," she told the blonde as they each set down a tray so that they could use their hands. She put a small plate of cheese in front of Ori as well as a plate of roasted vegetables. "Pies t' those two, bread t' those three," she continued, setting bowls of stew in front of Bofur and Dori; a bowl of soup went before Ori. The blonde walked off as she set a roasted fish in front of both Bifur and Nori. "There ya go lads," she smiled. "Anyone need refills on their drinks?" She was not very surprised when they all lifted their mugs. She lightly rolled her eyes, but took them with a smile.

It had been awhile since a non-human being had visited their inn. Back in Laketown, the Elves would visit occasionally, if only to deliver the three (larger than normal) barrels of wine her father would buy. Since coming to Dale, however, the non-human races were far and few between visits. It was a bit curious to her, since the inn still bore its name from Laketown.

'Maybe it's because we weren't able to buy one of the bigger inn buildings?' she thought, holding the two beer mugs and filling them up. 'And we're a bit out of the way now…But, maybe if these dwarves like it enough here, we'll be getting more dwarvish patrons…They're a fun lot.' The third mug she filled up with ale before heading towards the kitchen's hearth.

"How're you handling it out there, 'Lee?" asked Galiene, the eldest person on the inn's staff. She was one of the three cooks (the other two being Baylee and her father) and, despite her age, she was able to keep up with the busiest of nights.

"It's going well. A group o' folk just left, so there's not as much commotion out there," she replied, picking up a ladle. "Our largest group is still here, though; they're havin' games o' dice." She filled up Ori's mulled wine.

"An' of the dwarves, dear?"

"They're pleasant," she answered, filling up Dori's cider. "When they came in, the poor lads were soakin' wet, so I sat 'em by the fire to warm up and dry out."

"That's a lass," Galiene smiled, throwing some herbs into a pot.

Plucking up her tray once more, Baylee pushed open the swinging kitchen door and headed out into the common room. Some more people had left while she was refilling the drinks, leaving the room a bit quieter and without music. It was a bit nice; the musicians had been there since noon and had played most of their songs three times each by the time evening fell.

Coming up on the dwarven table again, she saw that they were already heartily eating away at their meals. "So, lads, you mind if I ask why brings ya to Dale?" she asked, circling around the table and setting their drinks down.

"We're here t' do a wee bit of trading and location scouting," Dori answered, wiping some stew from his beard.

"We thought it would be best to get here before all the other dwarves show up," Ori told her, "to make the best connections first and so Bifur and Bofur here can find a little place to set up their toy shop."

"A toy shop?" she repeated. "Don't think Dale has one o' those yet, though I'm sure it'll be popular with the children. Oh, pardon me." She walked off as another patron waved her over. "What can I get ya, William?"

The older man looked up at her and held up his soup bowl. "Can I get more o' Galiene's soup?"

"Are you sure?" she laughed. "You've had two bowls already!"

He grinned cheekily, his eyes barely visible through his wrinkles. "Ah, but lass, it's so good, I can't help but keep eatin' it!" he chortled. "Just one more bowl? It'll be the las' one, lass, I promise."

She took the bowl from him, giving him a playfully skeptical look. "I don't know, Will. Where are ya storin' it all? You're as skinny as a twig!"

"He stores it in all of those wrinkles on his face," another older man laughed. "That's why he has so many –he just stores all o' his food in them."

Baylee snorted. "He's not like a squirrel, Abbot!" She lightly shook her head, still grinning. "Anythin' I can get ya when I head back?"

He leaned back in his chair, letting his goblet of wine rest atop his large belly as if it were a table. "You bake any o' those fruit breads o' yours today?"

"'Fraid not. We're waitin' for a shipment o' dried fruits. Should be here any day now."
He nodded slowly, a slight frown coming to his lips. "Hm. Alright. Then bring me one o' the pies."

"Comin' right up." Taking the bowl, she walked back into the kitchen. "William needs another bowl o' soup."

Galiene looked up as she stirred the contents of a small, metal pot. "Where does the man put it all?" she gaped, taking the bowl as Baylee handed it to her. "The man's so skinny, I know it can't be goin' into his belly!"

"No idea, but Abbot supposes he hides it all in his wrinkles."

"The man's not a squirrel an' that's a gross thing t' say." She shook her head, setting the bowl onto the table behind her. "Hidin' food in his wrinkles…Bah. Next Abbot'll say that he stores all his wine in that fat gut o' his."

Baylee gave her a bit of a scolding look from over her shoulder. "Now, now, Galiene. These men are our best customers. Just because they're a wee bit off kilter don't mean they're not sweet." She was on her tiptoes as she reached for the last of the apple pies.

"I know, I know," she sighed, wiping her hands on her apron, "I'm just not feelin' as happy as I should today. We were supposed t' get that shipment o' berries an' flour from the south today, but there hasn't been hide nor hair o' it! An' with this sort of weather brewin', it may all be ruined." She glanced up as she felt Baylee pat her on the shoulder.
"It'll come, an' it'll be just fine," she reassured the older woman. "Now, where've Wenna an' Aunt Demelza gotten off to?"

She shrugged. "Heavens if I know, girl. Demelza was in here a bit ago servin' the townsfolk out there and then she took off. Wenna's probably up preparing a room or trying to flirt with Peter again."

"Oh, I think we both know if Peter was flirtin' instead o' workin' while Gawen or Uncle were out there, that boy would be gettin' lashes," she said. "An' Wenna would never hear the end of it from you."

"That's because she don't know better –yet." Galiene grinned and reached up, ruffling Baylee's hair. "At least you don't go runnin' off into trouble."

Her brow rose. "Anymore! After papa hired you, I learned better 'n to run away." She shuddered slightly. "I think I still have a handprint on me bum from that last spankin' ya gave me." Grinning, she plucked up the bowl of soup. "Hopefully it'll be awhile before I'm back in here."

"Not too long!" Galiene called after her. "I almost got our dinner done!"

As Baylee left the kitchen, Wenna returned from upstairs. Some strands of her black hair had fallen out of the tight bun she kept it in. "Readyin' rooms, were you?" asked Baylee.

"Aye. Had t' get two of them cleaned up for them dwarves." She sighed, lifting her apron and wiping some soot from her face. "Should be nice an' warm when they get up there." A tired smile came to her lips.

Nodding in understanding, Baylee gave her a small smile. "Don't worry. Most o' the crowd's gone now; we can rest a wee bit."

"You can. I still have t' show 'em to their rooms!" Wenna laughed. She walked past Baylee and towards the table of dwarves. As she drew nearer, she was rather surprised by the amount of dishes that had piled onto the small table. "I'm sorry t' interrupt, masters, but I'm goin' to have t' steal two of you to show you where your rooms are." She gave them a friendly smile, though her weariness was apparent.

Dori and Bofur nodded at the others before pushing themselves back from the table. "Don't any o' you eat my sausages while I'm gone, lads," Bofur said, pointing at the group accusingly before following Dori and Wenna towards the stairs.

Bifur, of course, stole one as soon as his cousin turned his back.

As they reached the top of a flight of stairs, Dori and Bofur followed Wenna down a hallway. Approaching one of the doors, Bofur was a little surprised to see two men –one a young lad around sixteen, the other a man around the same age as the bald man- leaving one of the rooms. The older man smiled at Dori and gave him a small nod.

"Your luggage has been brought up as promised, master dwarf," he told him. Some water dripped down his graying hair, landing on the collar of his shirt. "And your ponies are tucked away, eatin' their dinner.

Dori nodded in understanding, a pleased smile on his lips. "Thank you, Master Richard," he said, giving the man a small bow. "Your help is most appreciated."

The two men smiled before taking their leave, allowing Wenna to show them the rooms. "Here's the room for three o' you," she said, motioning to the door Richard had just left, "and this one," she motioned to one across the hall, "is for the other two. I've got fires goin' in both, so they should be toasty by the time ya want t' retire for the evenin'."

Bofur and Dori said their thanks in unison and they gave her a small bow as well before going in and inspecting the rooms. Dori's was slightly larger than Bofur's due to having three beds, but they both seemed comfortable. As he went into Dori's room, Bofur saw that the older dwarf was kneeling down in front of some chests, checking over their locks to see if someone had tried tampering with them. Finding that they were perfectly intact, he stood back up, wiping his hands on his tunic.

"This place seems good enough," Bofur said, looking around the room curiously. Its walls had recently been whitewashed. "The staff is certainly friendly."

"Aye. It'll do us for our purposes," Dori said with an agreeing nod.

"Food's good, too." He still looked around the room. "Sat on the bed, it's soft enough."

Dori raised his silver brow as he looked at the younger dwarf. He sighed quietly, turning towards him. "Lad, I've a question for you."

Bofur looked mildly surprised. "Hm? What's that?"

"Are you sure you want to go through with this?" he asked, his tone quieter and more serious now. "Opening a toy shop in a city of men?"

A confident smile came to his lips. "Of course I am! The human children back in the west loved our toys!"

"Aye, over the Misty Mountains they did," he said with a small nod, "but are you sure they'll take t' Bifur's toys?" Before the axe had been lodged in his skull, Bifur had been a gifted toymaker; after the axe, however, his toys had turned a more macabre root. Yet, for some reason, children still loved them. "The lot here may not want their children exposed t' such things."

Bofur set a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "That's why, when get a shop an' open it, I plan on introducin' Bifur's toys to the public slowly. Get them used t' a few of the things an' then move on. For the time being, he'll be helping me by sewing doll clothes or cuttin' wood t' size; even Bifur admits his toys are a bit…unusual for most tastes."

Dori looked him over for a long moment. He still wore a confident smile; he always been one of the more optimistic dwarves Dori had known. Considering all that had happened to him and his family throughout the years, he was surprised that Bofur had any happiness left in him.

After awhile, he let out a sigh and smiled at the younger dwarf, clapping him on the back. "You've got the ambition, that's for sure. And the skills. I'm sure the two o' you will find your fortunes here."

A silly grin came to Bofur's face. "We've already got our fortunes back in Erebor," he grinned. All that had remained of Thorin's company had received from King Dain a small, but profitable, fortune when peace had once more been settled in the valley. "This is just to give us somethin' t' do!"

"That it will. And maybe it'll get Bifur talkin' common again. We really shouldn't let him speak at all when around humans. It's not that I don't trust them," he added, seeing Bofur's brow raise. "Khuzdul has been kept amongst us dwarrows for a reason, lad. Aulë devised it for our tongues an' our tongues only. Very few are the numbers o' non-dwarrow people who speak it."

"Such as Lord Elrond for example," he offered, following the older dwarf as they left the room. Both doors they shut, Dori locking his with the key given to him by the bald man. "He and the Rivendell elves were nice enough, but they had funny food."

Dori started down the stairs. "Mhm."

"Not much meat…mostly salads. I've never been much of a salad fan. I guess elves just really enjoy salad."

"They do seem t' revere nature more 'n others."

"Curious, though. The elves in Mirkwood like their meat just as much as anyone else. Like their wine more, though."

"Alright, lad, that's enough about elves for one day," Dori mused. Even though five years had passed and peace had been made between the dwarf troupe and the elves of Mirkwood, Dori still retained a bit of a sore spot after being locked in Thranduil's dungeon and then sent rolling down a river in wine barrels by Bilbo the hobbit. "Let's just finish our meal, aye?"

"Aye, that sounds like a plan," Bofur grinned. As he sat down at the table, though, his smile vanished. His neat little plate of sausages –three, when he had left- had been reduced to half a single, lonely link. He looked up, half glaring, half pouting at his companions. "Who ate me sausage?!" he cried.

Nori, Ori, and Bifur all pointed at each other, their eyes wide. "Wasn't me!" one of them defended. "It was him!" "Was not, you buffoon! It was him that eat them!" "Khi u-zu!"

Bofur slowly turned his head and stared at his cousin. Bifur was doing his best to look just as innocent as Ori and Nori but was failing miserably. Bofur crossed his arms; he would be tapping his foot on the floor if he were taller.
"You ate me sausage."

"Mabakhul, nadad-khâzash-" He winced slightly as Bofur hit him over the head with his spoon.

"Next time, don't wolf all your sausages down so fast," he scolded. "Or, if ya do, steal from someone else!"

Grumbling under his breath, Bifur took a long drink from his ale. While the other two had been away, Baylee had passed by and refilled their drinks for a second time.

"So, how were the rooms?" Ori asked, wiping his mouth and beard off. His stomach was delightfully filled, leaving just enough room for one last mug of wine. "Were they small or big?"

"Big enough to fill our needs," Dori said, relighting his pipe. "Clean with fires going and wash basins for us."

"And comfortable beds," Bofur added.

"I like comfortable beds," Ori smiled. "Mine's not too comfy yet. Maybe I can buy some goose feathers down here t' make it softer…"

Nori glanced at his brother. "Or trade for them. That way you don't get swindled by some of the cheaper chaps down here." He took a drink of his ale and leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs out under the table.

For awhile, there was silence amongst the five dwarves. Bofur and Ori were finishing up their meals while Dori and Nori smoked their pipes; Bifur busied himself with grabbing their things –now fully dry- and folding them up. The blonde woman came over after a spell and took their dirtied dishes back into the kitchen.

"I've an idea," Ori quietly said after a time. He glanced up as the others looked at him, half tired, half eager to hear what he had to say. "In the morning, if it's not too busy, why don't we ask that Baylee lass or her father about who're the most fair chaps t' be dealin' with?"

Dori thought this over, slowly twisting his pipe back and forth between his teeth –but not too far, lest he spill the ashes all over himself. "Good idea, Dori," he said after a moment. "I think we'll do that. After all, the folk who live here would know the fairest folk to do business with, right?"

"That they would," Nori agreed. "Sounds fine to me."

"An' the girl seems friendly enough," Bofur added. "I'm sure she'd be kind enough t' help us."

"Especially if it potentially means more business for this place in the future," Dori added. "Aye, then it's decided. One o' us will ask in the mornin'." As if to signal the end of the discussion, he leaned back in his chair and sent forth a great ring of smoke from his mouth. Through it, Nori sent a thin stream of smoke, like an arrow hitting a bull's eye, a grin on his lips as he watched his brother frown.

Next to him, Ori yawned deeply, his hand covering his mouth. "I don't know about you lads," he said, looking at his companions, "but I think I'm goin' to tuck in. We'll be havin' to get an early start tomorrow after all."

"You know, that's a good idea," said Bofur. Bifur agreed, his hair bouncing slightly as he nodded. Standing up, he drained his mug of any and all alcohol that may have remained, Ori copying his actions. "G'night, lads. Hope you sleep well tonight!" he smiled before leading Ori and Bifur to their rooms.