Stone of Erebor
Chapter 2: Dáin Ironfoot
Bilbo was still agog over the beauty of the new gates when his heart
quickened at the sound of rumbling dwarven voices calling his name. It
greatest delight that two grey-bearded dwarves cried out their
greetings and hastened from the gate to his side, glittering in the
waning sunlight as they came, stout and cheery.
"Bilbo! Hobbit!" waved the first, with golden adornments shining in his
neatly braided beard.
'Bilbo Baggins!" chimed in the second, who likewise shone with gold in
his beard and precious stones set in his belt besides. Bilbo
suddenly felt under-dressed but smiled so wide he felt his face would
split. Was it really? Yes!
"Bifur! Bofur!" he called back, his high hobbit-voice sounding out of
place amid the rumbles of the dwarves. Completely forgetting
about his escort from Dale, he broke into a trot. The two dwarves
did likewise, lumbering towards him so that it seemed for a moment they
would all collide, but instead he was swept into an embrace and clasped
with such warmth and gentleness that there was no harm to him at all
possibly smothering in their beards.
The two cousins were talking to him at the same time, a jumble of words
that he didn't really hear at all. He found he was feeling rather
dazed, it was unreal
that he was here in the entrance to the Mountain, here with his dear
companions once again.
"Are you well, Hobbit? He looks a little glazed over, Bofur. Are you
"Bilbo! We've been watching for you all day, taking turns. Come out of
the sun. Why, you've aged well I must say." Bofur laughed,
leading him out of the slanting sunlight and settling him down on a
bench within the
entrance. He was dimly aware of the stares of the handful of
other dwarves nearby, though his companions were ignoring them
entirely. Where the Men had gone he didn't even know.
"Yes, yes. I'm well. I'm just a bit overwhelmed! But this is
splendid! Really! I can't begin to
describe to you how I feel seeing you again, seeing what you've done
with this mountain, and Dale and everything. It's just, just
beyond my words right now."
"But give you a bit of time and you'll be at it, eh? You never
did lack for words." smiled Bifur. "If you feel up to it, let's go
The others will want to see you also. We've all been waiting."
"And you're supposed to see Dáin, once you arrive," put in
Bifur. "He was particular about it, that he was to see you first. He
doesn't seem to recall you too
clearly from before." The dwarf stroked his beard apologetically.
"All right." replied Bilbo, standing back up, though his feet and legs
that they hadn't sat nearly long enough. He stretched them briefly. "I
can understand that. He certainly had enough on his mind when I was
last here, and it was long ago."
"He's curious what hobbits are like, especially you." explained Bofur.
He led the way, the two of them flanking their smaller companion as
they strode down a wide hall then turned and took a short flight of
"What we're like? I seem to get a lot of that. The men in Dale were a
curious lot too - not that I'm really a very good representation of my
people. I had rather hoped I would be among those who already
knew what I was like once I was up here."
"We do! Of course we do. And glad we are to be reminded of it."
said Bifur. "But we've many more dwarves here than just our old
company, you know. Expect a bit of goggling." They came out into
another wide hall, high windows glowing with the pale afternoon light
above them. Bilbo goggled a bit himself at the pillars that lined
the opposite wall, all carved like trees; their leaves of silver and
gold-veined marble so realistic he half expected them to rustle in the
breeze of their passing.
"This is beautiful!" he breathed. "You've all been very busy, I see."
"That we have." agreed Bofur, smiling proudly. "That we have. The
building has been exceptional."
"Where's Bombur?" asked the hobbit as he struggled once more to keep up
with their rolling pace. "Or rather, has anything happened to
him? I haven't had much news..."
"Bombur? Ah, while some of us are slowing down and feeling our age in
my brother's appetite has not dwindled over the years at all."
Bofur quirked his eyebrows. "He's gotten so fat it's difficult for him
to walk the distance from his chambers all the way to the main gate.
We'll see him later...."
"Yes, at supper!" finished Bifur. "He wouldn't miss getting to see you,
though I daresay he wouldn't miss a meal either."
"Supper?" said Bilbo. His heart lifted at the thought of a good hot
meal. "I couldn't have asked for a better suggestion. Are you
sure it will be
Both dwarves laughed. "He's a hobbit, all right!" said Bofur. "He's a
The chamber that they entered at last was one Bilbo only dimly
remembered, but it had made an impression on him even then when it lay
in shambles. It had once been the throne room for Thrór,
and it lay before them now most impressively shining with gilded
carvings and cleverly placed gems that caught and reflected the bright
lamps. A large fire crackled on the hearth with logs nearly the
size of Bilbo himself, and an elaborate throne-chair stood on a slight
dais at the far end from the great doors. Beautifully worked
banners were interspersed with elaborate weapons mounted along the
side-walls. He couldn't help but feel that only someone very
important would inhabit such a place.
They themselves had not entered by the large and ornate doorway, but by
a smaller side-door, emerging to one side about halfway down from the
throne. There were no guards, which he wondered at, but then he
realized there was no-one in the room either.
"Where is Dáin?" he asked, voicing the thought as it came.
Bifur indicated a comfortably carved bench near the front of the room
and Bilbo seated himself on it. "He should be along shortly.
They've the fire and everything ready for him. He's not as young
as he once was either, you know. We're all moving a bit slower, eh?"
"Speak for yourself," muttered Bofur. "I'm not slow."
"You were already slow," retorted his cousin. "So now you're just
catching up with the rest of us."
Bofur opened his mouth to continue this exchange, but stopped as the
doorway nearest the throne sprouted a stout guard from its
alcove. "Here he
comes. Shouldn't take long, I'd think," he said instead.
Bilbo watched the doorway expectantly, sliding down off the bench so he
could be ready to bow. He didn't expect pleasantries, for he knew
how dwarves loved titles and pomp. To be a King would be quite a lot of
pomp, even for them.
He was not disappointed. Another dwarf dressed much as the guard began
to beat a small silver drum, and to that sound, Dáin Ironfoot
entered his throne room with a lifted chin that made his generous
silver beard seem all the fuller. He sparkled with gems at his
belt and rings on his hands, and his cloak was furred and embroidered
with a pattern reminiscent of the Lonely Mountain itself. Bifur and
Bofur both immediately stood, flanking the hobbit who stood also.
Bilbo looked at him curiously. His face was more wizened by his years
deeply creased, but his eyes showed little of that age, shining both
shrewdly and with life. Moving a touch stiffly, he carefully
ignored those waiting in audience and mounted the steps to his throne
with the smooth, measured paces of a dignitary who knows he is being
watched. A young, chestnut-bearded dwarf that had come out behind
him quickly went to his side, ready to help arrange his thickly furred
cloak along with his movements and to smooth it as he sat down.
The younger dwarf stepped forward and announced loudly " Dáin
Ironfoot, King Under the Mountain will now accept audience!" as if
there were a crowd, though Bilbo, Bifur and Bofur were the only ones in
the room. He stepped back into the shadow of the doorway, leaving them
facing the King in his mound of fur.
Dáin let them stand for a moment, eying them carefully. He
cleared his throat and spoke. "So. This is the hobbit."
"Yes, this is Mr. Bilbo Baggins of the Shire, O mighty King." said
"Only lately arrived, and glad to be of service to you and to your
family...and your kingdom as needed, also," added Bilbo, bobbing a
little bow. He hoped that last part was acceptable. He hadn't
thought to ask what sort of changes in greeting might be required when
one was addressing a Dwarven monarch.
Dáin frowned slightly, looking down at him. His white
beard, heavy with the gem-studded decorations on the braids, swung
from his chin as he leaned out from his chair to examine this
diminutive visitor. "No larger than a stripling. Smaller in fact.
You have gained quite a reputation for one so small, Mr. Baggins. I
understand that you are the same hobbit that traveled with the esteemed
company of Thorin Oakenshield, in the days of the Dragon."
"I am, your...er...Majesty."
"And you've come alone? No others of your kind with you?"
Bilbo was surprised at this thought. He couldn't really imagine
bringing a company of Hobbits on such a journey, much less into a nest
of Dwarves. It was ludicrous.
"Of course not!" he blurted. "I mean, no, my people are not the, er,
traveling kind, if you understand. They rarely leave their own towns
much less their country."
"Bilbo is most singular," offered Bifur.
"So." said Dáin, sitting back and plucking at the fur on his
cloak, which had caught in his beard. "Are all of your kind given to
thievery then? Or are you singular in that respect also?"
Bilbo didn't know what to say. He was astonished, terribly offended and
flabbergasted by the comment all at once. He gaped a bit like
a fish. Bifur came to his rescue.
"Your Majesty, may you reign forever, Mr. Baggins is a most honorable
hobbit. He was hired by Thorin as a professional treasure-hunter,
because, if you recall O great King, we were hunting a treasure at the
time. He was most efficacious at his employment and after affairs were
settled no longer pursued that, er, line of work."
"There is nothing to fear," added Bofur. "He's here as a friend, to
visit. He won't be burgling anything. We, his former companions, will
vouch for him in this." He nudged Bilbo, who managed to splutter.
"No! Most certainly not, your Kingship. I wouldn't dream of it! I must
say, to find I am thought of as a common thief is a bit disheartening
after I've been saying so much good about you and your marvelous works
and terraces and towers and such. Begging your pardon, but it is hardly
courteous to accuse your guests, is it?"
Dáin shifted in his chair and seemed slightly amused at Bilbo's
righteous reply. He leaned back. "Is it? This is my kingdom, and I
shall speak as I
wish. You were the one who took the Arkenstone for your own, then
had the audacity to allow mere Men to handle it, gave it to them, my
cousin's and family's own heart, all for your own ends. Should I speak
courteously to you or trust you among the treasures of my realm?
Answer me that."
Bofur spoke once more. "Your Jewelship and monarch of this mighty
realm, is the foolishness of youth to be held against the elders?
That was long ago..."
"And Thorin himself forgave me." put in Bilbo righteously. "Would
you negate the
forgiveness that was extended by the senior member of that branch
of your family line, the
one that was the first victim of the offense? His retribution
comes before all others in your family line, and his formal forgiveness
of my actions nullifies any part you have to play in any revenge. If
you act against me now for the past appropriations I had to make, you
are out of turn and my own family line will have something to say about
it. You shall owe formal hospitality to any and all Hobbits of my line
for the duration of the world, for we shall not forgive this slight."
All of the dwarves had a communal raising of eyebrows. They looked at
Bilbo as if he has suddenly sprouted a second head. Or a beard.
"What is this?" demanded Dáin. "Who taught you that?"
"I have been the companion and friend of Dwarves for most of my living
years, which are several," said Bilbo, and could not quite keep out a
hint of smugness. He had just pulled the dragon's claws and he knew it.
"I am no stranger at your gates, in spite of my difference in
appearance. Having been formally forgiven I am counted as faithful to
my word. I claim hospitality in the name of my most esteemed
companions, and in the memory of my faithful service to your
There was a long pause. Bifur and Bofur each took a deep breath and
held it. Bilbo kept eye-contact with the King, not backing down
Dáin blinked. 'Very well then," the King replied. There
was a small whoosh of relief on either side of the hobbit. Dáin
looked as if he were torn
between anger and amusement. "I permit it." He waved his hand in an
official motion. "But."
The two dwarves looked at him trepeditiously. Bilbo tilted his head
inquiringly, ready to counter whatever was said if needed.
"But," he repeated, pointing a finger at his diminutive guest, "I will
hold you and the present members of that Company responsible if
anything goes awry while you are among us, master Hobbit." Bifur
and Bofur were nodding, so Bilbo assumed this was acceptable and held
his tongue. The King suddenly smiled. "Now - be off.
You have many old friends to meet. I like your spirit. Perhaps I will
see you again before you leave."
He waved his hand again, and the young dwarf came forward from the
shadows to loudly proclaim "The court of Dáin Ironfoot, King
under the Mountain, is hereby dismissed!" as the elderly monarch hefted
up out of his throne and departed by the same door he had
entered. Bilbo found himself wanting to follow, but promptly
quashed the notion and turned to go out with Bifur and
"I say," he half-whispered as they exited back into the tree-carven
hall, "What was that all about? Does he truly think me a thief?"
Bifur looked unhappy. "He was most discourteous to you, Bilbo, I was
not expecting that. I am sorry. You deserve far better! But you
were most surprising
yourself! You, away from your own home and alone, aren't afraid
to speak back to a King in his own halls and on Dwarven law at that!
Hoho, you caught him by the beard there. It was well done."
"But I'm not alone." pointed out Bilbo. "I have several good friends
here. And I happen to know they are the wealthiest and most influential
Dwarves in the Mountain. That's got to count for something."
His companions chuckled. "True, true!" said Bofur. "It will make a good
tale over supper. Which we're going to have very soon. Very soon.
Come along this way - after you've had a chance to wash the dust from
your beard.... Oh, heh heh. I mean wash away your weariness, we shall
have a grand feast."
"Now that," said Bilbo, "is the most promising thing I've heard yet."