Hope Fails

Joined: November 16th, 2014, 11:00 pm

November 20th, 2014, 3:20 am #1

As far as Thranduil was concerned, he had been nothing but reasonable with Thorin Oakenshield. All that the Elvenking had asked for were the gems that Smaug had stolen that rightfully belonged to him and his people. From one King to another King, they could have helped each other out, come to some beneficial alliance with each other. Thranduil saw no reason why that could not be so. He held no particular love for dwarves but both parties in an alliance didn't need to love each other to work together.

But the stubbornness of dwarves had quickly made it clear that no deal would be struck between them. And it was all because Thranduil had not helped them on the day Smaug had first come to Erebor. What were he and his Elves supposed to do? There would have been no stopping the dragon that day. If had given the order for his soldiers to join the fray, then the only thing that would have changed about that day was that the death toll would have been much higher. As a King, Thranduil's first and most important duty was to keep his people safe, and that was exactly what he had done, even if the exiled dwarf returning to his homeland could not see that.

Thranduil could have left it at that. He could have let Thorin and his company languish in the dungeons, until some sense finally came to their leader. As the Elvenking had already told him, one hundred years was nothing to an Elf. But there was one more thing Thranduil was willing to try before giving up on coming to some sort of deal with the dwarf who would be King under the Mountain again. Thranduil didn't know more than he needed to about dwarves but he did know that Thorin's two nephews were traveling with him.

Surely Thorin would be more receptive to listening to one of them than he had been to the Elvenking. Thranduil called over one of his guards. "Bring me one of the captives," he ordered. "Which one?" he inquired. There was the blond one and the dark-haired one. Thranduil couldn't be certain but he believed it was the former one who was the elder. Thorin's immediate heir had to be the one who could more easily have his uncle see reason. "The blond-haired one." When the guard had gone, Thranduil sat back down in his throne, crossing one leg over the other as he waited for his guest (of sorts) to arrive.
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 4:44 pm

November 20th, 2014, 3:31 pm #2

Suffice it to say, Fíli was not happy. He knew there was a deadline for their venture, and it was swiftly approaching, while the Company was stuck in an Elvish dungeon. From what he'd overheard, it didn't look like they'd be getting out anytime soon. They might have grey beards down to their knees before they were released, if anything Thorin had told him about Elves was true. Granted, those of Imladris had been fairly pleasant, but they had snuck out without so much as a thanks and goodbye, so who really knew what they'd have been like if they'd tried to leave openly. He was pretty sure that Elf Lord would have figured out their purposes eventually - say, as soon as Thorin showed him the map with the moon runes.

He sort of missed that place, in the way that it had felt relatively safe and he'd been ignorant of things to come. Since then, Fíli had narrowly scraped past death half a dozen times. Somehow this journey had ended up much differently than he'd expected. As of yet there was very little glamor in it, just a lot of running and scrambling out of the jaws of doom.

Fíli already felt naked without the heavy load of weapons he generally carried. It had taken a while, but he had to give the bastards props for finding all of them. Even worse, the Elves had taken everything else they'd had, all their supplies and gear, their coats and cloaks and what little armor some of them wore. It was all gone. At least they'd been allowed their boots and small clothes. Being naked in an Elvish prison would have been unbearable. Humiliating as it was, he sighed, wishing they had put him and Kíli into the same cell so he could have at least that small comfort, but he could only hear the quiet sounds of him pacing next door.

A shadow fell across the floor of his cell and he looked up, brow furrowed in discomfort. He could never hear the approach of them, even with their mail and swords that should have clinked as they moved. When his cell door was unlocked, he tensed, his eyes darting past them to what of the other cells he could see. None of the others were being released. The dwarf swallowed, slowly rising to his feet, a desperate plan of escape briefly swooping through his head but immediately dismissed as hopeless. He was the nephew of Thorin Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain, and he would not be dragged from his cell like a criminal being sent to the gallows.

He shot Kíli what he hoped was a reassuring glance (but probably looked more scared than anything) over his shoulder as he was led off. It was only a glimpse, but seeing him safe, even if they were all imprisoned, gave him more courage than he expected. So he steeled himself, and followed along as stately as he could, seeing as he was forced to take three steps for every one of theirs, and they walked quickly.

After a while he wondered if they were just marching him across the entire place, like a dog getting its afternoon walk only to be shut up in its cage again, but suddenly the ceiling opened up, and he was back in the massive cavern they had been shunted through on their way in. He tried not to look impressed as the guards led him up a long walkway toward a massive throne- were those real antlers or just carvings? Fíli squinted at them suspiciously, but then the suspicious look shifted to its occupant, a ridiculously tall elf with eyebrows that didn't match his hair at all and a crown that he thought he might be able to use as a weapon if he could reach that high.

Durin's beard, he looked full of himself.

Shaking off the hands that had settled on his shoulders from the flanking guards - what did they think he could do? Bite his legs off? - he scowled at the elf, but said nothing. His uncle had already insulted this one to high hell and he doubted his patience had gotten any longer since then.
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Joined: November 16th, 2014, 11:00 pm

November 23rd, 2014, 3:10 pm #3

Thranduil did not have to wait long before his guards returned with the dwarf as requested. This one was young. The day that Smaug had claimed Erebor and all of its treasure as his own was just a tale to him. The Elvenking did not doubt that Thorin talked about the mean Elf who had turned away, instead of helping them, in that tale, but, hopefully, this young dwarf had not let those stories get into his head. As patient as Thranduil was, the thought of being stuck with thirteen dwarves in his dungeons for hundreds of years was not a pleasant on.

The Elvenking was as weaponless right now as Fíli was. He did not believe that the dwarf would be so foolish to attempt any kind of escape right now. He would quickly get lost as Thranduil's halls were a maze with many dead ends for those who did not know where they were going. If Fíli tried to escape, Thranduil would only double the guard at the dungeon and wonder how long it would be before the dwarf ran into someone who would bring him back there or how long it might be before his corpse was found after he slipped off a precipice in his haste in trying to find a way out.

Deciding that that might be an entertaining byproduct of this meeting, should it not go the way that he wished, Thranduil said to the guards, "Le hannon. You may leave us now." He could see the uncertainty in their eyes but he was their King so they did turn around on their heels and walk away. Thranduil was sure that many who disliked him had various unsavory names for him but he could never be called unwise. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Thranduil stood up and walked, with the natural grace all Elves possessed, down the curved set of steps that led to his throne. He stopped a few feet away from Fíli. "Surely your uncle and fearless leader Thorin Oakenshield has told every one of you how his meeting with me went. I have brought you before me to give you a chance to correct his mistake." Thranduil could not and did not know anything about the time constraint that Thorin and his company were under but he did know that no dwarf in their right mind would want to spend more time than necessary as a prisoner in an Elven realm.

He clasped his hands behind his back and took a few more steps forward so he could better look down at Fíli. "I ask only for what is mine," he went on, "Yet Thorin acts as if I wish to take it all away from him." Curse the stubbornness of dwarves! Thorin was holding onto a grudge that for him was the distant past. Mortals had such short lives. It was a shame that some of them felt the need to hold grudges from the past above beneficial alliances in the present.
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 4:44 pm

November 24th, 2014, 3:03 pm #4

It was rather uncomfortable to maintain eye contact with this one, the way his eyes shined bright like steel and seemed to bore into him. The way he moved was unnatural, serpentine or catlike. He had to fight down the instinctive urge to break away and find some route of escape, holding his ground and keeping his gaze steady as only a stubborn dwarf could. He knew there was no hope of finding his own way out before getting recaptured, and he would no more leave Kili behind than cut off his own hand. Comfortable as he was in vast caverns such as this one, it was completely unfamiliar- he doubted he'd even be able to find his way back to the dungeon on his own. No, the only thing he could do was suffer through whatever this was with as much dignity as he could muster.

His stubborn gaze broke as the king ordered his guards away, and for a moment Fíli felt off balance, confused, watching the armored guards turn on their heels and descend the great steps to take up their posts father off. This wasn't how this was supposed to play out. He wondered if this was a show of strength on the Elvenking's behalf, announcing by action that he wasn't afraid of what one lone dwarf could do, or maybe of the power he held over his own people. Maybe Fíli was supposed to feel insulted that he was seen as such a non-threat, but he only felt relief that he was no longer being loomed over threateningly.

Of course, that small grace was soon removed as the king approached, stopping just outside Fíli's personal comfort zone. He looked back up at him, eyes narrowing in suspicion. Yes, he thought his uncle might have been too quick to burn the only bridge they had out of this place, but it wasn't his place to go against Thorin's word. If master Balin were here he'd have known exactly what to say. All those years of lessons hadn't prepared him for this.

Fíli retreated half a pace as Thranduil invaded what space was left between them, moving too quickly, too fluidly, for Fíli to resist jerking back instinctively. It was only a small moment, but enough that he was sure Thranduil had seen the momentary fear, the crack in his stubborn exterior. He swallowed his heart back down from where it had lodged in his throat and planted his feet more firmly, glaring up at him defiantly. "And what about what is ours?" he burst out, wishing that he'd not been stripped of everything he carried - even the metal pipe from Bilbo's had been taken. He felt naked, vulnerable. "You would ask me to betray my king, after you strip us and lock us behind bars? We have nothing to give you, nothing of ours or yours- you've already taken everything!" His arms lifted from his sides in a display of what little he'd been left- his boots, breeches, tunic, the beads in his hair. "What more could you possibly want?"
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Joined: November 16th, 2014, 11:00 pm

November 26th, 2014, 6:10 pm #5

Was dismissing his guards a power play? On almost all levels it was. Thranduil had nothing to fear from the dwarf. He didn't particularly care whether or not Fíli realized just how unworried he was. All he cared about was getting through to this younger dwarf where he could not with his uncle. If he could not, then he would have thirteen dwarves languishing in his dungeons for who knew how long. Thranduil certain that everyone involved wanted to avoid that but it just might be that every single one of those dwarves was stubborn enough to make that possibility a reality.

He did see Fíli's momentary fear, and fear could be a powerful tool to be used in some circumstances. Was this one of those circumstances? No. Thranduil did not want Fíli to be afraid of him. Fear made people unreasonable; it made them say and do things they did not mean to say or do. Just as the dwarf took a step back so did the Elvenking. Hopefully that would relieve the tension a little bit. Thranduil would never be a friend to any dwarves but he was wise enough to put his prejudices aside when it was beneficial for everyone.

Thranduil was a patient Elf, even when it came to dealing with dwarves. He could forgive Fíli his outburst. "I am not asking you to betray your king." Thranduil hated dwarves, as so many other Elves did, but he would never ask one of them to betray their leader. As a ruler himself, he would never condone such a betrayal or expect anyone to ask him to do so because he needed them to. He was trying his hardest to remain reasonable in this situation because one party had to be. As soon as the Elvenking became as stubborn as the dwarves, nothing was going to get accomplished.

"I am only asking you to speak to Thorin," he went on, "Convince him to accept my deal and your weapons will be returned to you and you may all leave my halls and continue on your quest." If Thorin and Company succeeded, then Thranduil would obtain those jewels he wanted back. If they failed, then what were thirteen dead dwarves to him? Either way, the Elvenking won. With the way everything stood now, neither side would win anything in if no deal could be reached.

He had to make Fíli see reason. "You will be king after Thorin passes away, will you not? Ask yourself what a king should do. Should he accept the sensible deal I offer or hold on to a past grievance out of his own pride and stubbornness, even if it means that he had his people will never reach their home again?" To all appearances, Thorin Oakenshield cared more about himself than his companions who had given up so much to go on this quest with him.
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 4:44 pm

November 29th, 2014, 5:08 pm #6

Fíli wasn't sure what to make of this Elf as he stepped back once again, forcing Fíli's shoulders to release some of their tension despite himself. It was much easier on his neck not to have to look up so high from such a close range, and he was grudgingly relieved, but that made him all the more confused by the mixed signals he was getting from this king. Did he want him to feel threatened or comfortable? Fíli couldn't tell, but all he felt was trapped, with too much weight upon him. Thorin hated this Elf… but he was so similar to him in what they seemed to expect that Fíli couldn't help but feel guilty for even thinking it.

He snorted quietly in disbelief, the light air ruffling the stray hairs from his mustache, disheveled after the fight with the spiders and their capture. Not for a moment could he trust that Thranduil wasn't asking him to go against his uncle's wishes. A moment later though, his brow was furrowing in confusion again. Only speak to Thorin? Of course, be Thranduil's lackey and convince their rightful king to bow to his wishes- at least, he had no doubt that was how Thorin would see it if he even attempted to sway his decision in favor of the Elves.

Fíli had always done as his uncle bid without question. He was not the one that spoke back unless it was in defense of his brother. His uncle - his king - had always known best, would always know best, and Fíli had only ever wanted to be worthy of the expectations that had been put on him and to please his uncle. Doing as Thranduil asked… would only mar everything he had ever done right. Fíli knew Thorin. It was all or nothing with him. He would be risking all the trust he'd ever earned to do this.

When Thranduil's voice broke the extended silence Fíli shut his eyes tight against the flood of reason, his hands clenching into fists at his sides. Balin had been right. If they did not make a deal, and do it now their journey would be for nothing. They were running out of time, and everything they had done will have been a waste. They would go home empty handed and defeated. Shamed. If it had been a fellow dwarf speaking these words though, they might have hit harder. Hearing the dwarf that had helped to raise him, that had led them this far, that would be king, made him bristle with insult.

He would only ever be king if Thorin led them into Erebor and found a way to kill the dragon, if Thorin reclaimed a homeland Fíli had never even seen but in stories and paintings. It was not just a past grievance he held to. Fíli understood why Thorin would not trust the Elvenking. He had heard the tale enough times. But at the same… now, when they were this desperate, it waspride and stubbornness that made him refuse. Balin knew… even if it was distasteful, they had to swallow their pride or fail.

With an effort, Fíli swallowed down the lump in his throat and looked up at Thranduil once again. "What are the terms of the deal you have offered?" he asked, his voice raw and rasping in his throat, grudgingly accepting that this was his only option, if he wanted the company to have any hope of freedom. It was not agreement, nor was it gratitude. Thranduil had locked them up without any reason, was holding whatever he wanted as ransom for their release. But… at least there was still a chance that Thorin's refusal had not doomed them all to rot in the Elvenking's dungeons. Thranduil could have just forgotten about them after that. He had to take advantage of the chance he'd been given, even if it meant losing his uncle. He would not let Kíli die here.
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Joined: November 16th, 2014, 11:00 pm

December 2nd, 2014, 4:00 am #7

The very fact that the only ways the dwarves could leave the Elvenking's halls were either when they all died of old age or when they-and 'they' meaning mostly Thorin-came to a deal with Thranduil was enough of a threat in and of itself. Thranduil had made the situation clear to Thorin; he could either rot in the dungeons or give the Sinda what he wanted. There was no point in threatening Fíli any more than he already had. He seemed like an intelligent enough dwarf to know that the Elvenking held all of the cards. All that was left was for Thorin to accept his offer, and Thranduil would gladly use the one member of Thorin's company that might be able to persuade him to change his mind.

Everything hinged on Fíli listening to reason, of him only inheriting half of the stubbornness his uncle had. Thranduil, though, as was not unusual where he was concerned, was prepared for the worst. In that case, dragons didn't live forever. One day Smaug would die and Thranduil would receive what he desired. He couldn't lose, no matter what happened. Unfortunately, Thorin seemed to be having some difficulty seeing that or else he would not have been so quick to dismiss the deal Thranduil had offered him.

Thranduil could see that Fíli was struggling with the decision before him. As tempting as it was to try and push him in the right direction with more words of reason, the Elf remained quiet. There was nothing for him to do but wait and hope that the dwarf was intelligent enough to make the right decision. Even if he did, there was always the possibility that all of the persuading in the world would not convince Oakenshield to change his mind, in which case Thranduil could do nothing more than thank Fíli for his effort, while secretly wondering if the young dwarf hadn't been as compelling as he might have been.

And then the dwarf's answer came in the form of a question. It wasn't a definitive yes but it was a step in the right direction. "I ask only for some white and silver gems that once belonged to my ancestors. When the mountain is reclaimed for your people, if you promise to give them back to me, then I will release you all to continue your journey home." Thranduil did not trust Thorin to hand the gems over when everything was said and done but the Elvenking had to believe that there were more honorable dwarves in the company who would make sure that their leader paid Thranduil his due.
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