Excursion in Middle Earth
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Excursion in Middle Earth

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 BOOBY TRAP

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MessageSujet: BOOBY TRAP   Sam 5 Mar - 20:47

]Author's note : This fanfic was first written in French under the title Chausse-trape. Once again thank you to TITVAN for her proofreading and translation work.

OOOOOOOOOOOOO

First part: A trap under the snow


- Kili !
Giggling, the little boy stood up behind the huge stump near which he had been crouching, and dashed off at full speed, despite having small legs.
In a few strides, Thorïn caught up with the kid who escaped him, however – hearing his uncle’s footsteps behind him, he kept himself out of reach by slipping, like a fox cub, under the low branches of a thick copse.
- Kili, I’m warning you ! It’s going to end in tears !
While Thorïn was bending and pushing aside the boughs covered with snow, the little boy gushed out on the other side of the thicket and fled in the shrubbery, still laughing.
- By Durïn ! Kili, I’m not joking ! Come here at once !
Kili did not bother to obey, so his uncle rushed after him, swearing under his breath. He almost walked past him without seeing him because the naughty boy had nestled in the hole left by a fallen tree, under the curtain formed by its tangled roots, which was rendered even more invisible by the delicately scalloped snow which had built up there. Unfortunately for him, he was betrayed by his footprints on the thin immaculate blanket. This time, Kili did not leave his hiding place quickly enough before his uncle grabbed him by the arm and dragged him out of it himself.
- Come here, little imp ! Thorïn said curtly. Is this how you obey me ?!
Suddenly worried, the kid noticed his uncle’s frowned eyebrows, his severe eyes and his scolding voice and he had to face the facts : his uncle was really angry. He immediately put on a look of martyr on his face, raising towards Thorïn his big brown eyes in a most irresistible expression which was supposed to soften the one for whom it was intended.
It seemed however that this time Thorïn was not inclined to allow himself to be moved. So, he pinched his nephew’s ear between his thumb and forefinger, instead, and lightly pulled it several times.
- Ouch ! Ouch !  the child yelped, his face deformed as if he was going to cry.
In fact, it did not hurt at all and his pink ear was hardly redder than usual. But as every child, he preferred to shout in a preventive way : it is a trick which has already proven its worth and the adults almost always go along with it.
Thorïn indeed let go of his ear. But he firmly seized his little hand in his big one and set off again in long quick strides toward the place where they had left Dwalïn and Fili. Obliged to scamper along in order to keep pace with his uncle, Kili considered for a moment to let himself fall on purpose, once again just to soften his uncle and to be comforted by him. But he knew instinctively that it would not work this time, and that all he would get from it would probably be a slap. His small brains began to work at full speed. Thorïn seemed really annoyed, if not angry, and that implied a less than pleasant journey home. All the more so as his mother would also scold him, if she was ever informed about this. He probably had pushed the tantrum a bit too far, but on the other hand, it was not so often that they were allowed to leave their caves, Fili and him. Especially him.
That day, Thorïn and Dwalïn had decided to go hunting. It was next to nothing ; they would not go very far and they would be back in a few hours. Of course, none of them could guess that they would remember this little hunting trip for a long time !
Fili and his younger brother had stamped, argued and begged to be taken, and their mother, as well as both warriors, had accepted. Everything had been so fascinating in little Kili’s eyes ; the first snow was still quite fresh and so full of promising enjoyment, that when it had been time to return home he had become insufferable. He had protested, grumbled and whined to the point that even Fili had eventually become infuriated. Kili should have understood this before it was too late, but he was stubborn, as every dwarf, even at the age of six, and he had refused to pay attention to it. Pretending to have an urgent need, he had succeeded in making them stop.
- Be quick, Thorïn had said, the sky looks threatening and I’d like to be back home before it starts to snow again.
Yeah, whatever ! As soon as he was out of sight, a few steps away from the path, the scamp had cleared off, well decided to prolong the recreation as long as possible. When Thorïn, irritated to have called to him multiple times in vain, had gone out in search of him and then pursued him, it had become a game.
Well, let’s say that, for Kili at least it was a game.
He had not realized how much his uncle, whose patience certainly was not his strong point, was already infuriated by his whining. Oops ! To push Thorïn to his limit was definitely not a good idea.
Kili was only six years old but he was not foolish. He outrageously took advantage of his position of youngest son, the one who was always easily forgiven, more than his eldest ; he outrageously took advantage of his brother’s affection, the brother who was always ready to stand up for him. However, he could feel that that day he had stepped over the line. So he was thinking hard to find a way to forestall the situation when, without warning, the world tumbled upside down.

Not wanting to take again all the detours which Kili had previously forced him to make, Thorïn had taken the shortest route. His nephew and him were crossing a part of the undergrowth full of sinkholes ; these ground hollows are like more or less deep and vast basins which are very often caused by a collapsing of the ground. The ground here was unstable, probably as hollow as a Swiss cheese.
The adult and the child, the first one dragging the second, wisely walked around the dips and started to step down a gentle slope. The snow which had fallen during the night formed a white virgin blanket where no prints were visible except, here and there, some very light bird tracks.
Unfortunately, under all this fresh snow there was an open crevasse, treacherously "covered" with a fragile carpet of tangled roots which had thrown their slender bridges across the emptiness, thus forming a kind of aerial vault. The dead leaves and other plant remains, weighing next to nothing, had settled over it. In some areas, there was even a little bit of dirt, and the snow rendered everything uniform.
Nobody, unless they knew by heart every inch of the ground, could have guessed that this was a trap. Thorïn stepped into it without suspecting the danger.
Suddenly, there was a terrible crack. Kili had time to see the snow and the dead leaves which hid the soil being sucked up by the opening ground in front of his eyes, and then all support gave out under his feet and he felt himself falling into the empty space.
By reflex, Thorïn seized with his left hand one of the roots which had just broken under his weight. There was a first jolt. During a few seconds, the root appeared to untangle, it lengthened and unfolded ; in fact, it even looked like it was going to completely come loose. Then, there was a second jolt and their fall stopped.
Thorïn swung for one moment, swirling over the void, his right hand still clutching that of small Kili who was screaming in terror. If Thorïn had been alone, it would have been easy for him to haul himself up the length of this unhoped-for support – the edge of the crevasse was less than three feet above them. But in order to get there, he needed both his hands.
He did not have time to think about it anyway, because the root abruptly gave way.
Nine feet lower, Thorïn’s feet hit the ground... The ground ? No. A projection, a breathtakingly steep slope. He lost his balance and had the reflex to throw himself forward, so much that he hurtled down towards the bottom of the crevasse, without releasing the child. Of course, his feet were stretched out in front of him but he was flat on his stomach, instead of falling backwards and smashing his skull before being swallowed by the emptiness.
Kili continued to scream. Thorïn, with his single free hand, was desperately trying to hold onto something in order to slow down their slip… in vain. Suddenly, the worst occurred : the void, the real one, opened under them and they sank, in free-fall, into the darkness. They bounced against a new projection, higgledy-piggledy rolled in the dark, bumped into a new overhang and fell again. Instinctively, Thorïn had brought the child against his breast, shielding him with his folded arms, and had literally wrapped himself around him so as to spare him most of the impact and use his body as a rampart. They slid on a new very inclined plane ; it seemed to last for an eternity, then they roughly hit a wall and their fall, their slide finally stopped.

During a few moments, the silence was disturbed only by the noise of the broken roots and other plant remains which, from a wall to another, continued to fall on them. Far, very, very far in the depths, the greatly muffled roaring sound of a torrent could be heard. Slowly, Thorïn carefully stretched, still holding his nephew against him.
- Kili, are you injured ?
No answer.
By feel, in the dark, he searched for the child’s face, then quickly checked his whole body for possible wounds.
- Kili ?
A strangled sound answered him. Shocked, the kid could not speak.
- It’s ok, Kili. Everything’s fine. Don’t be afraid.
He did not seem hurt – not physically, at least.
- Don’t move.
They were plunged into total darkness. Nevertheless, they could not be that far from the surface, but the walls of the crevasse were very irregular – fortunately, in a way, for they doubtlessly were still alive thanks to this – and, forming some projections here and there, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other one, separated them from the daylight, which moreover could penetrate only meagrely through the pierced vegetable vault.
Still feeling, Thorïn explored their immediate surroundings. First observation : it was impossible to climb back up.
He cautiously stood up, put a hand on the wall and risked a few side steps, carefully feeling the ground with his foot. A terrified squeal rose in the dark behind him :
- Thorïn !
He heard the child move and get up, panic-stricken at the idea to be alone in this dark and unknown place.
- Kili, don’t move ! Stay where you are.
A hesitation. A barely audible sniffing.
- Where are you ?
- Very close to you. I’m “looking” for a way to climb back up.
- You don’t leave me, right ?
- By Durïn, who do you take me for ?!
He did not go very far anyway, because his foot quickly encountered the emptiness.
"Exploring" the place where they were took him a relatively short time, although to feel blindly, slowly and cautiously so as not to risk a new fall, could only be done slowly.
They could undoubtedly consider themselves very lucky – they apparently were on some sort of landing of about three or four meters long, springing from the wall and hanging over the abyss. Everywhere around them there was the void, the absolute nothingness.
They were alive, to be sure, almost unhurt (except some bruises, grazes and non-serious contusions), but they were trapped.


OOoOO


Maybe less than a mile from there, Dwalïn was waiting in the saddle, young Fili sitting behind him.
Dwalïn looked at the sky which was becoming threatening and cursed under his breath.
- This young imp would deserve a good spanking !  he grumbled.
Fili sighed and did not answer. It was really true that today his younger brother had managed to bore his patience, however big it may be for him. Yet, he could not refrain from always wanting to stand up for Kili. But there was no use to argue with Dwalïn, especially when he was in a bad mood. Better to let him grumble to his heart's content, Fili knew that he would calm down all the more rapidly.
Still, the young prince promised himself that, when he was alone with Kili, he would tell him what he thought of his conduct. He knew that a reprimand from him would have a great effect on the little one.
The boy, who had an acute sense of hearing, suddenly sat up straight, his eyebrows frowned :
- Mister Dwalïn ! Have you heard that ?
- Heard ? No, nothing, what ?  
- I think I heard shouting… roaring even.
Dwalïn listened carefully.
- I don’t hear anything, son, he said after a while.
Fili, too, questioned the silence.
- No, there’s nothing anymore. Though I could have sworn I heard a shout. It sounded like Kili.
- Are you sure ?
- Well, no but...
- Thorïn ! the warrior called at the top of his lungs. Thorïn !
Only the silence answered him.
- I don't have a good feeling about this, Dwalïn muttered.
Just in case, he seized one of his axes then, with a pressure of his heels, still holding Thorïn’s pony by the reins, he put his mount in motion.
- It’s strange that we hear nothing more ; when Thorïn stopped calling the little one, I thought that he had found him, but why aren’t they coming back ? Are you sure you’ve heard  shouting ?
- No, Fili repeated, I’m not sure.
- THORIN !  Dwalïn yelled, causing the birds to fly away from the trees around.
- KILI !  Fili called with his childish voice.
Silence.
- Damned... Dwalïn swore under his breath.

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Sam 5 Mar - 23:28

i have already read it in french but it's always a pleasure to read that great story 

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Dim 6 Mar - 10:24

Laughing

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Mar 8 Mar - 20:28

Second part: Buried



- Don’t be afraid, Kili, Thorïn repeated. When he doesn’t see us returning, Dwalïn will go in search of us. Listen, don’t you hear anything ? (They couldn’t hear anything at all, but he said this to distract the child). They will certainly call us. We aren’t that far from the surface, we’ll just need to answer them and they’ll find the way to get us out from here.
- We could call them too ? the little boy ventured.
He was a little shocked by the dramatic series of events and by this sudden fall, but he was not afraid. Not really. According to his childish logic, Thorïn was with him, so nothing could happen to him. However, he felt very uncomfortable. He wished he could get out of this dark pit and meet his brother again. He wanted to tell Fili what had happened. Fili would do his strange lopsided smile that he kept only for him, and he would say something funny, something which would definitively erase the unpleasantness of this adventure and would turn it into a laughable story only. Kili imagined their bedroom with their two beds on either side of it. They would speak about it for a long time before going to sleep. Fili would make it sound like such a funny adventure that they would both laugh like mad, so much so their mother may be obliged to come and instruct them to be quiet and go to sleep. Then, they would both muffle their hilarity with their pillow, and sleep would gently overtake them.
- Yes, Kili, we can, Thorïn said.
They called.
Several times.
- Hush ! Thorïn finally said. Save your breath, we also have to listen.
But however carefully they listened, they heard nothing.
Thorïn was not really worried either. Maybe a little for his nephew because, at his age, this misadventure had to be frightening. But at least, they had avoided the worst and what he had told Kili was only the very truth – Dwalïn was going to search for them. They had not gone very far and what’s more, their tracks on the snow stood out a mile. It was completely obvious, right ? Help would come without delay.
Nevertheless, well might he question the silence and, from time to time, call out to someone, nothing occurred and not a single voice was heard.
Time passed.
Above them, the snow had doubtlessly started to fall again. Thorïn felt a pang in his heart : it was going to erase their tracks.
But nothing dramatic, he immediately tried to reassure himself. Dwalïn was going to scour the whole area until he found them, tracks or not.
He refused to admit that it was improbable that he had not already found them… seated, with their backs to the wall and the child close to him ; well might he wonder, again and again, what could possibly be happening above them, and curse this damned crevasse under the snow just as much as their bad luck which had made them walk through this very place, he had no choice, he had to bear it and wait patiently.

What Thorïn ignored was that their fall had been witnessed by someone. But this witness did not precisely have a mind to help them, on the contrary.
This witness had found all this very entertaining – hiding motionless behind the snow-covered shrubs, an isolated orc had caught sight of the two dwarves, the adult and the child, one moment before they walked on the roots which was hiding the trap set by the nature. He had halted his warg mount with a brief order as he had already raised his hand to seize his bow hanging on his shoulder. From here, he could not miss his target, especially as it was unconscious of the danger ! However, he had suspended his gesture – the dwarves rarely move alone. There were undoubtedly others nearby. There were few orcs in the Blue Mountains and they all knew that an important colony of dwarves, led by the famous Thorïn Oakenshield, had settled there.
This orc belonged to a small group of nomads who intended to discreetly cross the land and continue on their wandering road. They had just stopped for a short time, in order to go hunting and have something to eat. The one who had hesitatingly observed Thorïn and his nephew striding forward – that is to say that Thorïn strode forward and that the child was obliged to follow – had precisely been in search of game when he had caught sight of them.
He had still been hesitating on the opportunity whether to shoot an arrow or not when he had seen with stupor his potential victims disappear under the ground in a big crack of broken wood.
Blimey !
The orc had waited for a few moments, all his senses on the look-out : if there were other dwarves nearby, the child’s terrified screams had had to reach them. Seeing that nothing moved around him, he had carefully ventured forward to look into the gaping hole in the ground, cautiously sounding out the soil in front of him with the tip of his spear – until then he had found the events rather funny, but if in his turn he fell in a crevasse, it would be much less funny. From his point of view anyway.
Arrived at the place where Thorïn and Kili had disappeared, the orc glanced downward but saw nothing. It did not mean that the dwarves were dead of course, it depended on the depth of this crevasse and how they had fallen. He heard nothing, but they could be only stunned or unconscious. Those stone eaters are tough ones ! One thing was certain – he would not go and check ! With that, his eyes fell on their footprints, which were very visible on the snow, and a nasty smile twisted his lips – if people were looking for these both, no doubt that their tracks would lead their companions straight to them ; and then this gaping hole in the middle of the immaculate snow blanket, as well as the broken roots, would be clear enough.
Just then the orc heard voices, a little less than a mile from there according to the sound :
- Thorïn ! THORIN !
- Thorïn... the orc repeated.
His smile got bigger and his eyes sparkled with enjoyment. Quickly, he cut a branch of fir tree and used it to erase the footprints on the snow, his ears on the alert – fortunately, those who were calling their companions seemed to walk away to the right, they did not come straight towards him.
The orc completed his work by cutting other branches of fir trees and using them to cover the hole formed in the vault of roots. Then he tried very hard to cover all of it with snow in order to erase any trace of the tragic event.
From the bottom of the crevasse, he had heard some calls – so they were still alive, but too deeply buried underground to hear their friends or to be heard by them. All the more reason !
His work finished, as the snow was starting to fall again, which would soon put the finishing touches to his work, the orc told himself that all this would be useless if the others, those who continued to search, came here. The snow muffles sound, to be sure, but before there was a thick enough coat of it on the ground, they would only need to call once to find their companions, because, if the voices which could be heard from deep in the ground were muffled, they were nevertheless audible when one was not far from there.
His nasty smile still screwed onto his lips, the orc climbed back up on his warg and led him, not without precautions, towards the place where he could still hear the calls, muffled by the thickness of the snowy wood.


OOoOO


Kili had brought his knees up against his chest and had wrapped his arms around them. No, he was not afraid, he repeated himself doing his best to ignore the sobbing which was building up in his breast. However, he was only six years old and he began to desperately want to meet his brother and mother again. He desperately wanted to find himself in a warm and lit place again. A familiar and reassuring place. Besides, he also began to feel hungry and most importantly, he was cold. In fact he was shivering. Thorïn noticed it.
-Come here, Kili, he said.
He opened his coat and pulled the child inside, right up against him, before gently draping him in the flaps of the cloth and wrapping his arm around him. Nestled in the reassuring heat of his uncle, the kid soon stopped shivering and felt much better.
- Thorïn... he whispered.
His voice was hoarse from the tears which he had been bravely containing for a while.
- Yes ?
The kid snuggled even more closely against him. He felt the tears he had been holding back for too long suddenly overwhelm him.
- Forgive me, he sobbed.
He felt his uncle’s arm hug him tighter.
- It's nothing, Kili.
- It’s my fault. I... I’m sorry, Thorïn.
The dwarfish prince moved his arm slightly so as to be able to stroke the child’s hair, and leaned towards him. His bad mood and exasperation had vanished just as the ground had given way under their feet – how much does the childish behaviour of a kid weighs against a very real danger ?
- It was an accident, he said, you have nothing to do with it. Don’t cry. It’s just an unpleasant experience that shall soon be nothing more than a bad memory. Soon we’ll be back in our family.
Kili sniffed cheerfully, instinctively wiped his nose on his uncle’s sleeve and vigorously rubbed his eyes, ashamed to have given in to tears. If Fili had been there, he would undoubtedly have laughed at him and told him that he was just a baby !
Reassured and calm – if Thorïn claimed that their fall was not his responsibility and that they had nothing to be afraid of, there could be no doubt about it – Kili thought, this time with the absolute confidence often found in young children, of his brother and mother that he would had  occupied his mind before the ground swallowed them up. So, having thought almost twice before speaking, the kid ventured to ask :
- You’re going to punish me ?
- No. Try to sleep, Kili.
Thorïn felt relieved. If the little boy’s only concern was to know whether he would be punished for his whim or not, then everything was alright. At least, he did not seem traumatized by his fall and the mortal risk he had run. He did not realize the precariousness of their situation and remained convinced that everything was going to work itself out very soon.
Kili indeed was reassured on all the points, or almost.
- I’m hungry, he groaned.
- I know. All the more reason to sleep, you won’t think of it anymore.
At this stage, Thorïn did not dare to make precise promises anymore. He was left guessing : how was it possible that it took them so long to find them ?
Kili squirmed for a moment in search of the most comfortable position and, little by little, his eyes closed and his head became heavy. Curled up into a ball, his head lying against his uncle’s side and well covered with the folds of his coat, he sank into the peaceful and heavy sleep of the children of his age.
As he fell asleep, for a few hours freed from any fear and sorrow, Thorïn continued to brood ; he simply could not understand the visible abandonment in which Kili and him had been left for… how many hours, now ? He did not doubt Dwalïn for a single moment – both were as close as two peas in a pod. They were friends, companions in misfortune – how many hardships had they already gone through together ? – and brothers-in-arms. Each one knew that they could count on the other in any circumstances. He was certain that the naughty Kili had made many detours from a hiding place to another, as he had maddeningly dashed off like a young rabbit through the thickets and the shrubberies. They had had to circle from their starting point, until they had tumbled into the emptiness. But Dwalïn was not a beginner, and their tracks had to have remained very visible on the snow. Even if he had begun his searching by going in the direction which he had seen them taking at first, Dwalïn should inevitably have passed near the crevasse. And he necessarily had to call – what do we do when we are looking for a person who, by any logic, is less than a mile from the place where you are ?
Unfortunately, the only explanation which came to Thorïn’s mind was terrifying : something had happened to his friend.... and Fili.
Kili and him had had a phenomenal luck : instead of having crashed somewhere in the darkness, broken and dislocated, they were here, unhurt, and not that far from the surface – probably just dozens of feet. To get them out from there would surely not pose any real difficulty. On condition that they find them, of course. On the other hand, what could have happened to Dwalïn and Fili ? Was it possible that while the youngest of his nephews and him were here, unhurt, Fili and Dwalïn had succumbed to another danger ? Yet, the region was rather safe and Dwalïn was strong enough to face many dangers, anyway.
There was another possibility, a little less probable for sure, but it was still plausible : if for some reason Dwalïn had not been able to find them quickly, he could have decided to take Fili back home. Especially if the night had fallen and the snow fell thick. In which case, after having brought the young boy back to his mother, Dwalïn would return and he would not be alone – he would bring reinforcements to scour the woods.
Kili could still hold for a few hours. All night, if needed. But hardly more – he would need to feed very soon and above all, he would need to drink. In the event that help did not come... Thorïn fiercely suppressed this thought.

While he kept turning over those gloomy thoughts, a completely different vigil was taking place a few miles away from there, in the ruins of a former human farm around which the wood had long reclaimed its rights. There, five nomadic orcs had established their basic camp.
For them, it was a time of enjoyment instead. Their companion had told them in minute detail all that had arrived during the last hours.
- Thorïn ? their leader repeated.
- It’s indeed the name the others were shouting. The wolf and its cub fell in the pit… and I sure hope they’ll stay there!
- That’s a piece of news we can sold at a high price, the leader whispered again. Many of ours would be ready to pay to learn that Durïn’s lineage has diminished a bit more.
The other one wriggled for a moment, embarrassed :
- Of course, chief, he admitted. But it’s still possible that we find them. Those bloody dwarves will search for them without respite or rest. One of them only needs to walk in the same place and fall in his turn, and then...
Greed made the orc leader’s eyes shine :
- Then, it’s simple, he retorted. “They mustn’t be found. Or rather, they mustn’t be found alive.

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Jeu 10 Mar - 21:52

bravo bravo bravo

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Ven 11 Mar - 19:40

Third part: From bad to worse


Fili had definitely heard the distant and muffled echoes of his younger brother’s terrified screams as he fell into nothingness.
Unfortunately, it had been so quick and the thickness of the snowy wood had muffled the sounds so much that he was not only unsure of what he had heard but he also could not locate it with accuracy.
Dwalïn was guiding his pony in the approximate direction that the young boy was indicating to him, but he quickly had to turn off before the thickness of the undergrowth. Still calling, he rode like this for several minutes, without result.
Very worried now, because he really could not explain himself this sudden silence, he had finally turned back and decided, as Thorïn had assumed it, to follow the footprints on the snow – it would be quicker than to search at random.
He continued to call regularly, just in case, but always in vain. To make matters worse, the snow had started to fall again – it had just been some scattered flakes at first, but it had quickly become dense, and thick. Winter was harsh in these mountains ; there, the snow fell abundantly during several months. Besides, the blizzards blowing from the heights would soon come down together with the frost, which paralyzed the nature and numbed both dwarves and beasts in its vice.
Rather quickly, Dwalïn had reached the place where Thorïn had managed to catch up with his mischievous nephew. Both tracks were still very visible, despite the darkness which was falling and the snow which was beginning to cover them.
At that moment, he was less than fifty metres from the newly covered crevasse. If he had continued, he would have probably fallen in the same trap his friends had fallen into. A secret instinct made him turn around just as a monstrous shape sprang out from nowhere, it seemed. In a flash, he glimpsed a frightening maw full of sharp fangs, a raised broad sabre and a contorted face. The warg pounced on Thorïn’s pony, which Dwalïn was still holding by the reins, and broke its neck with one bite.
Dwalïn was a seasoned warrior, he was not easily caught off-guard – with the back of his arm, he pushed Fili out of his saddle and threw him on the ground to put him out of reach. At the same time, the axe he was still holding drew a circular arc and deflected the brandished blade.
Yet, the orc did not try to engage in combat – with another leap, his mount took him two metres away from there, and then the orc straightened himself to his full height so as to taunt his opponent :
- You won’t find them, dwarf ! he spat in a jeering voice. I met them… those you’re looking for. An adult and a wimp, even smaller than that one – with a scornful gesture, he indicated Fili who had got back on his feet, his clothes covered with snow, and was now glowering at him –You won’t even find their corpses !
The look on Dwalin’s face boded no good. He swung his axe in a threatening manner and moved his pony forward, despite the terror that the animal was showing in the presence of the warg. Much to his surprise, however, the orc refused the engagement, made his repulsive mount turn round and took off.
- Quick, kid!
Dwalïn held out his wide hand to the young prince, who caught it and jumped up on the pony behind him. They had to catch this orc so as to know what he had meant... Alas, the warrior naturally did not realise that by thus going in pursuit of the monster he was moving away from those he was looking for and who were just there, so close by !
No pony can compete in speed with a warg, especially not in a wood at nightfall. The orc soon disappeared, and then even the sound of the running warg subsided. In broad daylight, Dwalïn would have been able to follow its track but, with the snow falling thick and the growing twilight he simply could not. He could no longer see a thing !
He calmed his nerves hurling a well-chosen volley of abuse in the approximate direction that the enemy had taken; then, grumbling curses under his breath, he made his mount turn around.
- Mister Dwalïn ? Where are we going ?
The interested party suddenly remembered Fili’s presence, which he had forgotten for a moment.
- We’re going home, he grumbled.
- What ?! No !!! What about my uncle ? And my brother ?
- We can no longer find them, for now. It’s too dark. I wouldn’t even find the place where this orc attacked us.
- But ...
- Listen, son : we’re going to come back as soon as possible. For now, we can do nothing more and to make matters worse, there are one or more orcs nearby. It’s not a place for a kid of your age. I’m going to come back with the others. We’re going to come in force, with weapons and torches, and we shall find them.
There was a rather long silence, only disturbed by the grating of the pony’s hooves digging into the snow.
- Mister Dwalïn...
- Hmm?
- That orc lied, right ? They’re not dead... they can’t be dead...
Dwalïn was not really tactful ; he was not really in a good mood either and, besides, he was not used to compromising with children.
- How on middle-earth would I know that ? he answered in a haughty voice, behind which he was in fact hiding his own concern.
The small fair haired prince suddenly had his heart frozen.

OoOO

The four subordinate orcs were not the least bit thrilled by their boss’ plan.
The Blue Mountains were teeming with dwarves and these could appear at any time, in search of the missing ones. The orcs were only five ! To furtively and quickly cross a territory is one thing, but to linger and harm the inhabitants of this territory, especially when these people are numerous and belligerent by nature, it is completely different.
The piece of news one of them had brought earlier had amused them, delighted them even, but not to the point of wanting to tarry. Quite the opposite – they thought that the most elementary wisdom would have consisted in fleeing before they were discovered by the dwarves leading the searches.
To tell the truth, as time went on, they became increasingly nervous. Things had not dragged on however because luck seemed to have decided to be on their side. Indeed, as soon as their boss had outlined his plan to them, all the while insisting on the profitable side of the business, the solution presented itself: gradually disappearing under the greenery, an ancient well was still raising its dilapidated edge near the ruins in which they had found refuge. The chain which formerly was used to lift and lower the bucket was still in place. Of course, it was rusty and the links creaked against one another ; however it still looked sturdy enough for the use that they wanted to make of it. It could only be hoped that it was long enough, what they could not guess because they did not know how deep in the ground the dwarves were. That being so, the simple logic had it that if they had survived their fall and if their voices reached outside, they could not be very far. They themselves found the chain to be never-ending, as they lifted it out of the well !
The idea to present themselves as rescuers amused them a lot, even if they would have preferred to forget this story and carry on their wandering run. For the plan consisted in getting the dwarves out of their hole – the other solution would have been to go down there to kill them, but none of them was very keen to do this. They did not know how things looked like but their companion had told them that Thorïn was alive – he had heard his voice. He would not welcome them very warmly, that at least was a sure thing ; and how would they fight while rock climbing ? – or, in this particular case, “un-climbing” – No, it was better to do the opposite : get the dwarf out, him kill – they would be five against one, because the child did not count – and then throw his body back into the emptiness, so that nobody could ever find him. It was the most reasonable plan. Besides, it was not lacking spice : their victims were going to think that they were saved but, just as they would start to think that the ordeal had come to an end, salvation would turn into demise. That is the orcs’ view of a good joke.
It had all been quickly devised and then they had had to find the crevasse, all this under the snow which was still falling thick. Then, of course, they had lost some time. Oh, not that much, if one thinks about it, but still they began to feel nervous because they feared that at any moment they would see a troop of heavily armed dwarves arrive. Indeed, it was not conceivable that those whom they contemptuously called the “stone eaters” should wait until daytime to go in search of their leader.
- You’ll hear them coming !” the leader of the group grumpily retorted. What’s noisier than a troop of dwarves ? And their short legs will surely not help them catch us up, will they ?!
The crevasse was quickly cleared. A few burning torches were planted in the snow around its edge. The chain was thrown into the hole.
It tumbled down with an infernal noise, the echoes of which reverberated from wall to wall. Down there, Kili woke up with a start. Thorïn sat up abruptly. Standing still in the dark – he had no other entertainment than to listen to the thin rumours produced by the water which flowed around, invisible, and the distant murmur of the underground river that the water was joining at the end of a long course through the darkness and the stone – he had heard the sound of broken wood, above, to clear the opening, and then this metallic clatter in the darkness. Now, his heart beating fast, he was waiting for what was next.
After a moment, a hoarse voice hailed them from the surface :
- Are you still alive, dwarf ?
The prince frowned. The night must have fallen for quite some time, so, apart from his kin – and it was obviously not them – who could possibly be walking in the wood at this hour ? Who knew that they were there ? And who they were ? Men ? There were quite a lot of peddlers in these mountains, for sure. However, it did not explain how they knew their presence at the bottom of this pit. Unless, for a reason or another, Dwalïn, who could not come himself, had sent them ? Thorïn was sceptical : dwarves settle their own affairs themselves and do not have much trust for the other peoples.
- We’re here ! We’re here ! Kili screeched, interrupting his thoughts, as he escaped from his uncle’s coat. Below!
- Kili !  Thorïn began, putting a hand on the child’s shoulder.
- We sent you a chain... the voice shouted again.
Thorïn had a strange feeling about this. There was undoubtedly something weird in all this, starting with this voice sounding unnatural – in fact, the orc was trying hard to reduce the hoarse tone of it and to cut any trace of accent. Nevertheless, he had no choice : at this point, he could no longer be sure that another chance would still come up. Thorïn did not intend to die from starvation at the bottom of this hole, the powerless victim of fate. Not to mention Kili, of course.
He did not think they were orcs for one moment : on the one hand because there were not many orcs in the area. Especially not this close to the place where the dwarves had settled. And on the other hand, why would orcs try to help him ? Orcs were wreckers, they never helped anybody. They killed, destroyed and sacked. Nothing else.
Thorïn shrugged. He had no other option anyway. He had heard the chain tumbling very close to him, – for a moment, he had even feared that he would receive it on his head and had protected the child from a possible impact by leaning forward over him once again – so it was not very difficult to feel it in the dark. He tested it a little. Although he could feel some rust crumbling under his fingers, it still seemed sturdy.
- Kili, he said softly.
Without letting go of the chain, he stretched out his arm in the dark in search of his nephew, whose hair he tousled to reassure him :
- Are you ready ? he asked.
Under his hand, he felt the little boy nodding.
- Aren’t you afraid ?
- No ! the kid claimed with all the certainty of his young age.
- All right.
Thorïn crouched down to be at his height, imagining without seeing it his sweet little resolute face. He caressed his round cheek with his forefinger :
- You’ve been very brave since the beginning. I’m very proud of you.
It was a great pity that they were in complete darkness, for he was not able to see the child’s smile, like the Sun suddenly coming out from behind the black clouds – glorious.  
Thorïn lifted him and placed him on his back.
- Hold on tight, Kili. Whatever happens, don’t let go of me. Do you understand ?
- Yes, Uncle.
With this, Thorïn grasped the chain with both his hands, propped his feet up against the wall and was able to begin the ascent. He also noticed that above, on the summit, they were hauling the chain to help him. Meter by meter, he reached the first overhang. Once again, he felt that he was being lifted towards the summit. As he was progressively taken away from the bowels of the Earth, a shiver of retrospective fear ran down his spine – it looked much higher now that when they had fallen ! They had been really lucky.
Soon, they felt the cold night wind and were enveloped by flurries of snow. Kili wrinkled his nose and buried his face in the fur that covered his uncle’s shoulders. Raising his head, Thorïn perceived the light of the torches planted around the edge of the crevasse and realised that they were climbing back up on the opposite side from where they had fallen. But he could see nothing else, for the snow was blinding him and the wind gleefully blew his long hair back in his face. Two meters left… Only one… His eyes finally reached the edge of the crevasse. One moment later, he was able to release the chain from a hand and push it in the snow so as to lean on the ground.
Then everything happened very fast : worn leather boots, which had clearly seen better days, came into his field of vision together with an unpleasant smell which filled his nostrils. At the same time, he felt somebody seize Kili and remove him from his shoulders. The boy let out a half surprised half frightened scream which became mixed-up with a jeering voice :
- You’re a weighty one, dwarf ! My hands hurt from lifting you !
Thorïn was suddenly horrified. It was worse than all he could have imagined ! There was a grating of metal when one of the orcs unsheathed his sword, and threatened the dwarfish prince with it :
- Get out from there ! the orc ordered him. And no sudden moves ! Don’t you dare touch your weapon, or else...
With the tip of his sword, he indicated something on the left side ; Thorïn turned his head, knowing in advance what he would see – the creature that had taken Kili away from him had put the child on the ground and was holding him down firmly, while threatening the child’s soft throat with his hooked dagger. The little boy was wriggling like a fish, apparently not caring about the blade against his skin, but in vain – he could not fight against his captor’s grip.
The message was as clear as can be.
Thus, being careful not to make any movement which could be interpreted as a threat, Thorïn completely emerged from the crevasse, then stood up, seething with anger but rendered powerless.
The orc leader then came forward to eye him scornfully, dominating him by his height and sneering.
- Great catch, he muttered, rubbing his hands. My first idea was to kill you, dwarf, and sell the news of your death, but… I think you worth more alive ! I know somebody who would be ready to pay a fortune for you.
He briefly turned away to look at Kili, who was still wriggling in vain under his captor’s grip. Gesturing towards the child, he asked Thorïn :
- Is he your son ?
The dwarfish prince hesitated for one moment. Should he reveal the kinship that existed between Kili and him, or not ? If orcs thought that the little boy was only an ordinary dwarfish child, belonging to an ordinary family, would they release him ? No, Thorïn decided. In this case, Kili would have no value to them of course, but they would not release him – they would instantly kill him.
- He’s my sister’s son ! he answered arrogantly.
For a moment, time seemed to stop. Thorïn even stopped breathing.
- We take him too, the orc finally decided, to the great relief of his prisoner. A little prince of the line of Durïn could be worth a lot too. Come on ! Let’s go ! he shouted then to his small troop. We have a long road ahead of us !
A long road… Thorïn’s heart sank like a stone in his chest. How long would Kili last in this cold snowstorm, having already spent hours at the bottom of a crevasse ?
Their future suddenly looked darker and even more uncertain than when they were trapped at the bottom of the abyss.

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Sam 12 Mar - 19:18

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Dim 13 Mar - 22:09

Fourth part : the chase



- Dwalïn ! Please come over here and look at this !
The warrior hastily strode towards Fraïn who suddenly stretched out his arm to stop him in his tracks :
- Watch out where you’re walking !
Squinting through the flurries of snow which were swirling even more, Dwalïn finally saw it : the black and sinuous mouth of a crack which split the white snowy blanket. With this weather, one almost had to be about to walk on it in order to see it. Dwalïn felt extremely cold, but it had nothing to do with the weather conditions. Looking at his companion, he raucously asked :
- Do you think that…?
- Look at that, Fraïn answered.
He indicated three scorched torches which were still smoking faintly and were planted around the edge of the pit. In that place, the fresh layer of snow was thinner, which proved that the bottom layer had been trampled for a long time. Moreover, tracks were still partially visible, though they were disappearing rather quickly.
- Someone came here before us, Fraïn decided tersely. Now come and look what we’ve found there.
He led him towards a small group of pines which grew a few meters away from there, away from the hardwoods as if they despised their company. There, a big tuft of stiff hair was stuck on the rough bark of one of the trees.
- Wargs. One at least. Maybe that of the orc you’ve met.
The words of the latter were reminded to Dwalïn, who was feeling colder and colder :
- You won’t find them... you won’t even find their corpses !
But it was impossible to go check the bottom of the abyss – the orcs had thrown the now useless chain into it, and the dwarves were not adequately equipped to go down there. However, among them there were enough experimented trackers who, despite the dreadful weather conditions, were able to broadly piece together what had happened. After a fashion, they were lucky – it had been 15 to 20 minutes, not more, since the orcs had left with their prisoners. In lowlands, this short period of time would have been enough to erase all the tracks but, very fortunately, in the undergrowth the snow reaches the ground more slowly.
To be sure, the dwarves had no certainty concerning those they were looking for – they shouted themselves hoarse for a long time over the treacherous crevasse, calling Thorïn and Kili in every possible way, but of course they heard no answer. But, at the very least, the orcs would supply them with the necessary information. Even without it, the Dwarven people would not allow this intrusion on their lands to pass, even less so since the orcs were undoubtedly connected to the disappearance of their leader and his nephew in one way or another. They had to chase them, to make them confess what they knew and then avenge the insult. Preferably in their blood.
Well, that was the theory.
The purpose to which they all aspired.
But in fact…
- We’ll never catch up with wargs, Fraïn objected.
He seemed ready to give up. Not by cowardice or disloyalty, but because he was sure that it all was to no avail. The dwarves looked at each other hesitatingly, some still perplexed by the action to be taken; others, as Dwalïn, were as determined as mastiffs which never let go, no matter what. That was when a female voice was raised in the storm :
- Go back home to warm yourselves up if you like, you cowards ! Abandon your king, you’re free to do it ! I shall go after them, alone if needed !
They all turned their heads. Gusts of wind mercilessly twisted the flames of the torches, which only gave off a vague and swaying light, but the dwarves, people of the earth, are used to diffuse light. They all saw her, superb, pale and hurt in her heart but irrevocably determined. No force in the world could ever break the children of Durïn’s decision when it was made.
And Dis, princess of Erebor, was one of them.
Warmly wrapped in fur, armed as a Valkyrie, proud and sitting up straight on her pony which snorted sadly in the storm, she was looking down on them.
Dis had remained impassive when Dwalïn had quickly summarized her the situation and informed her of his intentions – they were going after the orcs in full force, she shouldn’t worry about anything, they would find them, he swore it !
Dis had taken Fili… and had entrusted him to a reliable friend of hers who had turned a deaf ear to the young boy’s pleas about absolutely wanting to accompany his mother. Alone, after having carefully dressed and equipped herself, she had mounted her pony and gone in search of Dwalïn and his troop, who had left half an hour earlier.
She felt her mother’s heart howling infinitely more loudly than the winter wind which was wrapping her in its stormy gusts. Her child, her little baby was there somewhere, in this unfriendly night, left to who knows what dangers.
This is the kind of situation that transforms even the gentlest woman into a bloodthirsty tigress. Nothing can stop a mother who fears for her child’s life. Of course, Dis was also worried about her brother – all the hardships endured by the people of Erebor and the loss of so many loved ones had united them. They had found comfort and assistance in each other. More than that, they had found the strength to continue as best they could, despite the cruelty that fate seemed to be determined to inflict on them.
After his brother-in-law’s death, Thorïn had taken both orphans under his wing. They loved and revered him, and Dis, who knew her grumpy brother very well, was perfectly aware that he would have given every last drop of his blood for those children, without a second thought.
But in this dark hour, her main thought was of her little Kili. So young, so vulnerable and already facing the hostile forces of the world.
A big silence followed the princess’ words. Then, Dwalïn silently lifted his battle-axe on his shoulder and came to stand beside her.
- Nobody’s obliged to come, he grumbled.
Nevertheless, a good fifteen of them eventually joined them. They did not wait any longer and disappeared into the storm, leaving the others behind to deal with their indecision, their false reasons and maybe, soon, their remorse.
Resolute and silent, they sank into the worst of the storm. Nothing could make them give up. Even if they had to walk across all of Middle-Earth, they would make it to the end of the journey and would make their enemies pay for all they had done.
Thus are the dwarves when they have made a decision.
Stone heads, they pursue their purpose to its end in spite of everything, and nothing can divert them from it. When it’s time to fight, when the fire of the battle kindles their veins, they show as much relentlessness as violence and savagery.
That is why the legend claims that when the dwarves go to war, the Earth itself starts to shake.

OOoOO

His wrists chained, Thorïn had been forced to follow on foot. And that was fine, because, for nothing in the world, he would have accepted to get stained by the touch of a warg – neither for him, nor for Kili.
Kili ! For the moment, the little boy was his only concern. Very quickly, the child had worn himself out having to walk through the high snow. Without a word, and with some difficulties because of his hindered wrists, Thorïn had lifted him and held the boy against himself. His coat had remained open ; here again, with a number of difficulties, he succeeded in pulling a fold over the little boy, who was huddled against his chest and had his legs wrapped around his waist. Thorïn felt him shivering with cold and mentally cursed the orcs, while, as time went by, his arms and shoulders were getting stiff under the weight of the child and his fingers, which were holding the coat... oh, he did not even remember that he had fingers, in fact !
Actually, even without that, he was seriously getting tired. The snow which was still falling thick was piling up in an increasingly higher blanket and was beginning to shape snowdrifts.  A dwarf’s legs are not those of a warg and Thorïn was seriously struggling. That being so, he would have preferred to die rather than to admit it ! With clenched teeth, and feeling the cold progressively numb him too – he had not felt his hands for a long time and his face, exposed to the icy wind, felt like it had become a mask of frozen wood – he set all his will and pride against his fatigue : he would not give these stinking beasts the satisfaction of seeing him lose heart !
As the hours went by, in order to occupy his thoughts and to keep up his strength, he went over the same thing again and again: no matter what these vile creatures had in mind and the place they were going to, Kili and himself were just living on borrowed time, they really had to escape.
Finally, just before dawn, the orcs decided to take a break. Under the thick canopy of a forest of fir trees, where only a few traces of snow, here and there, had managed to fall through the green branches, they stopped, gathered their mounts together on the side and set up a small and quick fire to hastily cook some pieces of meat picked out of their saddlebags.
They did not offer any of it to the prisoners and Thorïn, sitting with his back against a rough trunk, was too proud to stoop to beg for anything. Nevertheless, his stomach twisted from hunger at the smell of the meat exposed to the flames and Kili, his sweet little face nested in his uncle’s neck, started to whine.
- I’m hungry, Thorïn, he murmured. I’m very hungry. And I’m thirsty too. And also, I’m cold.
- Be brave, Kili, Thorïn whispered back. They will have to feed us if they want to keep us alive.
The kid moved away from him, stepped back a little and stood gravely in front of him :
- I wouldn’t want what they eat ! he declared, with all the contempt and the seriousness he was capable of. Fili claims that they eat warg poop ! Yuk !
Thorïn burst out laughing despite himself and regretted he could not press the child against his heart. Just steps away from there, the orcs were looking at him suspiciously, but he did not pay them the slightest attention.
- My little prince... he murmured, his voice husky with emotion.
His surges of affection were very rare. Kili thus valued this one and nimbly came back to cuddle up to him.
- Dwalïn, Fili and the others are going to come, right ? he whispered in his uncle’s ear.
- Yes, Kili, Thorïn answered instinctively, though he was no longer sure of anything.
Anyway, he reckoned, better not count on an outside help and fend for themselves alone. Except that, it seemed complicated to just run away – even if he could sneak away from the orcs, on foot in the storm and carrying Kili, he would not go far. In fact, he would not go anywhere, especially not with five orcs riding wargs hot on his heels.
His reflections were interrupted by one of his enemies who was shuffling towards him.
- What are you laughing at, dwarf ? he asked unpleasantly, scrutinising every detail of the picture formed by the child resting against his uncle, his face buried in his clothes and his hair soaked with snow, in search of a wrong detail.
Thorïn looked him up and down and did not answer.
Worried, the orc quickly verified their bonds, once again made sure that they were not hiding any weapon and then left while glaring at them.
His companions appeared to be quarrelling : some of them wanted to set off again, arguing that they had to leave the Blue Mountains as soon as possible. Others protested that they had ridden long enough under the snow and that a few hours rest would be welcome.
True, the wind continued to blow big swirling snowflakes in all directions. Finally, the leader of the troop barked, more than anything else, that they would rest for two hours, not more, until broad daylight, and then they would get back on the road.
He appointed one of them to keep watch on their camp and their prisoners, making the appointed orc look glum. And, before winding himself in a shabby blanket next to the thin fire which they had built, he glanced sceptically at the dwarves and gave some orders in his language. Muttering curses under his breath, one of his henchmen went to search through one of the soaked satchels abandoned on the ground. He appeared to search for a long time, then eventually found a small dented can of an undefined colour, threw in it something that he pulled out of the bottom of the bag and finally, added a handful of snow over it.
Putting the can on the ground, he appeared to search for something more, eventually exhumed what looked like an old leather strap wound on itself and finally, all these treasures in hands, he approached the prisoners. Thorïn instinctively straightened up, his muscles flexed, disturbing Kili who despite the cold and the hunger was more or less slumbering, leaning against him.
- Move away, brat, the orc grumbled.
- What do you want with him ? Thorïn snarled.
- I must tie you both. We don’t want you try to run away during our break... You should be happy, dwarf : I brought you something to eat !
He indicated the can he was holding. Thorïn preferred to ignore what it contained !
Kili, now fully awake, looked the orc up and down trying to imitate his uncle’s expression when he looked down on someone :
- I don’t want it ! he said categorically.
It was heroic for a child of his age, starved and numbed. But their enemy simply shrugged.
- Well then, you can starve to death ! he answered. Now, come over here.
Despite himself, he took a step back and pulled out his dagger when Thorïn straightened up once more, as if he was going to get back on his feet.
- The boy isn’t going anywhere ! he claimed, with a voice that admitted no reply.
Reluctantly – it was not in Thorïn Oakenshield’s nature to negotiate – he added :
- Otherwise, he’s going to die of cold !
The orc seemed to hesitate, and finally shrugged. He bent down and dug his dagger in the ground before tying Thorïn around the middle of his body to the trunk of the tree. Then he finished his work by fastening his leather strap around Kili’s ankle.
- We’ll keep an eye on you, anyway ! he finally said, retrieving his dagger and moving away to lie down with his companions.
Once he was sure that he was no longer posing an immediate threat, Thorïn lowered a disgusted eye on the can that remained within his shackled grasp. A handful of... – of what ? – was softening in the melted snow.
Dreadful. If it were up to him, he would have ignored it completely, only regretting that he was not able to throw it at one of these degraded creatures’ face. But Kili had to feed himself, if only to fight against the cold. The idea displeased him but necessity knows no law, right ?
- Kili, he began slowly, you must keep up your strength. You should try to eat a little.
The kid looked at him quizzically, as if he was not sure that he had understood properly. His uncle encouraged him with a nod.
- What is it ?  Kili suspiciously asked.
- No idea, Thorïn sincerely answered. But it’s not warg poop. I don’t think.
Reluctantly, the little boy picked up the can, frowned at its contents, dipped a finger in it and raised it to his face before making a horrible grimace.
- It stinks ! he exclaimed.
- Watch your language ! Thorïn scolded. Is this how your mother’s brought you up ?!
- But, uncle ! Smell it and you’ll see !
He brandished his little finger towards Thorïn’s face. And the latter moved back.
- It’s orc food, he answered. It can only be dreadful. But still, watch your language, young imp !
He added with a softened voice :
- Try to eat a little of it. I’m afraid we have to content ourselves with that for the moment.
Kili licked his finger covered with a brownish liquid and grimaced.
- It’s disgusting !
However, he was so hungry that he managed to force himself to swallow a small quantity of these unknown, hard and unpalatable things that were hardly softening in the juice forming at the bottom of the can as the snow was melting into water.
- What about you ? he asked finally.
- I’m not hungry, Thorïn lied.
That was when he saw it. The light of the dying fire was dimly playing on the tarnished blade. There, just a few steps away, on a layer of pine needles that covered the ground : the orc must have badly replaced his dagger to his belt and the weapon had fallen again on the ground without his knowledge.
Let’s not be fooled – it definitely was, the Dwarven prince understood it at once, the only chance they would ever have, because chance never comes twice.
With one look, he gauged the distance : 5 or 6 steps. Tied to the trunk of the pine, he could not hope to reach it by himself. He felt reluctant to put his nephew at risk, but he had no choice. It was also important to act at the right time, neither too early, nor too late. Thorïn thus waited until the orcs appeared to have fallen asleep. The one who was standing guard frequently looked their way. The Dwarven prince lowered his head on his chest, pretending to be asleep.
As for Kili, he had left his poor meal and, trying to restore a little of the heat in his fragile limbs, snuggled up closely to his uncle whose soaked clothes unfortunately did not really offer any comfort.
The minutes passed, unbearably slow. The orc standing guard slowly relaxed his vigilance and, sat in front of the fire, seemed to progressively indulge in a kind of drowsiness.
Very carefully, Thorïn gently shook Kili who groaned a little and raised an eye towards him.
With a very discreet tilt of his head, Thorïn indicated the abandoned weapon on the ground. The boy scanned the place for a moment without finding what his uncle wanted him to see. But he eventually caught sight of the metallic reflection and understood.
He wanted to stand up. A hand on his shoulder prevented him from it. The fingers, stiffened by the cold, barely moved as if to mean : "very quietly".
So, the boy, like a small wild animal, very carefully and without getting back on his feet, crawled on all fours towards his purpose, flattening himself on the ground at the slightest movement or sigh.
It was really absurd in their situation but, watching him, Thorïn felt his heart swelling with tenderness and pride. He immediately snapped out of it – this was not the time to become sentimental !
The orc guard barely moved anymore. Sometimes, he straightened himself and moved a little, as if he was trying to ward off sleep which wanted to overtake him, sneakily, but most of the time, he remained motionless, staring at the fire.
Finally, the child’s small hand closed around the handle of the dagger. Then, slowly and carefully, he retreated backward, so as to return to his starting point.
The rest of it was just a game. Without changing position, Thorïn wrapped his arms around the child, as if he was trying to warm him, and bent towards his ear :
- Stay here, he murmured very quietly. And if things go wrong, run. Do you understand ?
- Where are you going ?
- Have you understood what I said ?
- Yes, but...
- Kili, at the slightest trouble, I want you to run very fast and without ever looking back. I want you to promise me that.
- But...
- Promise me !
- I promise you, the child stammered, frightened.
Then, centimetre after centimetre, Thorïn slipped behind the trunk of the pine. There only, with the dagger in his hand, he stood up and stealthily described a circle from trunk to trunk, in order to find himself behind the orc guard. Discretion is not the strong point of dwarves, nevertheless, he managed to get close enough to carry out his plan. Two silent leaps and everything was finished almost before it begun : gagged by an iron hand, the orc had his throat slit without even realising what was happening to him.

OOoOO

Much invective was heard in the ranks of the dwarves. They were in a bad mood and, in accordance with their nature, they heartily expressed it – they groused about the snow, about the North wind, about the night, about the winter, about the orcs… Since their departure, many things had contributed to their displeasure ; they were spoilt for choice.
Even their ponies appeared to get in tune with them, shaking their ears and snorting in the icy wind. For their part, they did not stop and it turned out well for them – their ponies made them gain what ground the orcs had lost because their prisoners had been on foot. A grey and dirty dawn was painfully breaking when they saw a wood of fir trees ahead of them. It was still dark and they may have walked by without realising that those they were looking for were just there, if a peculiar, recognizable in all languages clamour had not suddenly reached their freezing ears : the clamour of the battle and the sound of clashing weapons.
Dwalïn, who was leading the way with Dis, raised his hand to stop the group and sat up straight on his saddle, narrowing his eyes in the flurries of snow, trying to locate the exact place where the noise was coming from. He saw nothing at first. Then, he blinked to make sure that he was not suffering an optical illusion – a tiny silhouette had just emerged from the cover of the fir trees, his brown hair flying in the wind. Almost as soon as he was out of the protection of the trees, the thick layer of snow considerably slowed him down. The small creature sometimes sank higher than his knees and looked like a paddling puppy. As he was laboriously trying to make his way through the snow, the big silhouette of an orc emerged in his turn from the cover of the trees and rushed after the dwarf child. When he reached him, he yelled something that the wind muffled. He stretched his hand to seize the fugitive, and then two things happened simultaneously : Kili threw himself on this hand with a challenging cry and bit it as hard as he could. The orc groaned in pain and lifted his other arm, ready to strike. But at the same time, an arrow sank into his breast. He staggered, and looked at the projectile coming out of his clothes without understanding, then collapsed in a cloud of powdery. Sat up straight on her saddle, Dis still held her bow at the ready.
It had been a difficult shot because of the wind and the snow, but the princess had always been very dexterous with a bow ; being the only girl of her siblings, she had always considered that, because her brothers were stronger than her, she had to outmatch them in dexterity.
Her pony quickly crossed the distance that separated her from Kili, and one moment later, she was passionately holding her younger son in her arms.
For their part, Dwalïn and the others tried to force their exhausted mounts to quicken their pace : Kili’s presence made the noise of the fight absolutely clear !

Everything had gone wrong as Thorïn, after having cut the orc guard’s throat, had bent down to pick up his sword. No matter how quietly he had done it, the characteristic sound of the blade sliding out of its sheath had instantly alerted his enemies, who had wasted no time in pushing their covers away and throwing themselves on him.
Four against one is still much. Especially when your fingers are so stiff and freezing that you can’t hold a weapon properly. Nevertheless, Thorïn managed to place himself between his nephew and the orcs and tried his best to hold them at bay, hoping that the kid would take advantage of this to run away, as he had recommended to him. He did not dare to make sure of it – he had to pay close attention to the fight – or shout at the child to go away, for fear of bringing upon him the attention of his opponents.
In fact, Kili was a bit late to act. He was staring, as hypnotized, at his uncle who was standing up to the orcs in the light of the fire, and remembered only after a few moments that he had promised him to run. However, unable to avert his eyes, he had started to take a few steps back, but he had stumbled over a root and had fallen on his buttocks. Getting back on his feet, he had finally turned around and run off. The orc leader saw him.
- Catch him ! he ordered to one of his henchmen.
The latter thus broke the engagement, got around Thorïn and rushed after Kili. The Dwarven prince had missed nothing of all this and, for the first time in his life, he knew what fear was, the real fear : he knew that the orc would catch the child, what he did not know was what he would do then. Would he try to bring him back or... ? He had to rush to his rescue without delay. With a growing fury, he swirled his weapon and, roaring with rage, threw himself on his enemies.
He had only two opponents left, and they were as fierce as him, when Dwalïn and the others appeared. From there, everything ended in an instant.
Panting, Thorïn looked at his friend :
- Kili ?
Dwalïn nodded :
- Out of danger, he laconically answered.
- And Fili ?
- Same.
A few metres away from there, the dwarves were taking it out on the wargs – these creatures fill them with the deepest disgust and an almost irrational hatred, especially as, since the taking of the Moria by Azog the Defiler, horrible stories of dwarf children thrown to the mercy of these monstrous beasts have been told among them.
- What happened ? Dwalïn finally asked.
- It's a long story.
Against all expectations, the warrior smiled and gave Thorïn a strong friendly pat on the back.
- Well, we’re going to make a good fire and you’ll tell us everything.
- I’d rather... Thorïn began.
But he changed his mind – a few hours of real rest in the heat of the fire would not harm anybody. All the faces around him were reddened by the cold. Besides, the snow would undoubtedly stop falling by the middle of the day and then it would be infinitely more pleasant to ride than in these swirls of snow.
So he nodded in agreement.
Still, he thought, to say that they had left the previous morning for a simple hunting trip with the children, in other words a healthy walk… and although everything turned out for the best, this was a "walk" he would never forget !





THE END

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Dim 13 Mar - 22:20

it's always a pleasure to read this story 

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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Mar 15 Mar - 7:20


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MessageSujet: Re: BOOBY TRAP   Mar 15 Mar - 16:23


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