Arkenstone

Fair Settlement

The dawn of a new day has broken, the day of great significance, will Dwarves, Elves and Men come to an agreement or will the day end in war. It all now lies in the hands of a mad, stubborn, dragon-sickness stricken King Under the Mountain. The Arkenstone will be used as compensation for the share of the treasure that is owed to both races, or will it?

The missing Hobbit

Alfrid: “Wakey-wakey, Hobbit. Up you get.” 

Alfrid was given a simple charge. However, not even a task this simple wasn’t in his ability to accomplish. Bilbo has taken advantage of Alfrid’s lack of concern for him and sneaked off back to Erebor. Alfrid probably believed that the Hobbit wouldn’t be mad enough to return to the one place where he wouldn’t be safe anymore.

And now that he is gone, he might be thinking to himself that Bilbo has gone back to the Shire. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wherever he is gone, Alfrid does not fret over his disappearance. 

Meanwhile, the Elven army arrange themselves before the gates of Erebor with Bard and Thranduil on horseback and elk respectively. They move cautiously toward the gates when Thorin shoots an arrow right in front of the horses’ hoofs, denying them a nearer approach. 

Bow to arrow

Thorin: “I will put the next one between your eyes.” 

With a subtle tilt of Thranduil’s head, the Elven army responds to the threat of attack by setting their arrows to their bows in preparation to retaliate. At this sight, all Thorin’s smugness and arrogance deflate leaving him in fear and the other Dwarves hiding behind the wall. With only a single movement of Thranduil’s hand the Elven army repose. There is nothing Thorin can threaten them with that they could not return in kind and then some. 

A matter already settled

Thranduil: “We have come to tell you: payment of your debt has been offered and accepted.” 

Thorin: “What payment? I gave you nothing. You have nothing.” 

Bard: “We have this.” 

Kili: “They have the Arkenstone. Thieves! How came you by the heirloom of our house? That stone belongs to the king.”

Bard: “The king may have it with our goodwill. But first he must honor his word.” 

Thranduil and Bard prepared their argument as an already settled matter, having enough ammunition in the Arkenstone to gain what they wanted. Thorin is confused and annoyed by Thranduil’s statement of payment, knowing that he himself did nothing to further their cause. However, as soon as Bard presents the Arkenstone their statement becomes a palpable one rather than a hypothetical one.

Thorin is horror-struck to see the stone he has been looking for in the hands of his enemy. Kili takes over the argument that Thorin would have made if he weren’t so shocked. What Kili says we as the audience hear in slow motion, in the same way, Thorin hears it I suppose, surprised and speechless without the ability to register and react to the scene in front of him. 

The truth

Thorin: “They are taking us for fools. This is a ruse. A filthy lie. The Arkenstone is in this Mountain. It is a trick!”

Bilbo: “It’s no trick. The stone is real. I gave it to them.” 

Thorin: “You?”

Bilbo: “I took it as my 14th share.” 

A notion that the Arkenstone could have found its way into the hands of his enemy is impossible for Thorin. It is therefore, perfectly logical for Thorin to assume that this move by Thranduil and Bard is a ruse to get him to settle and share his treasure with them. However, just as he believed his own words, Bilbo admits to his act and the authenticity of the Arkenstone. 

The feeling of betrayal covers his facial features as tears well up in his eyes. The last friend Thorin thought he could trust has now betrayed him. Though visibly guilty for hurting the Dwarf who became his friend, Bilbo stands his ground, objectively explaining the reason behind his act. And from a purely contractual point of view, Bilbo could have taken any piece of the treasure as his 14th share. So, theoretically, why not Arkenstone?

Bilbo’s claim

Thorin: “You would steal from me?”

Bilbo: “Steal from you? No. No, I may be a burglar, but I like to think I’m an honest one. I’m willing to let it stand against my claim.” 

Thorin: “Against your claim? Your claim. You have no claim over me, you miserable rat!” 

It is obvious that Thorin regards the treasure in Erebor as his own, not even his people’s but rather his very own. The fact that Bilbo would take anything from the treasure hoard Thorin classifies as stealing. It could be said that Thorin would not have let Bilbo take anything as his 14th share, thereby depriving him of monetary compensation for a job well done. 

An honest burglar or a miserable rat

Bilbo still holds his ground depicting himself as an honest thief who, though having taken the Arkestone even though Thorin had wanted it for himself, he is letting it be used to bring fairness and honor to those to whom a share of the treasure has been promised. So, in the end, Bilbo would have taken off from Erebor without a coin to his name just so that people of Lake-town could rebuild their lives.

The guilt over his disturbance of the dragon and its subsequent attack on Lake-town is still firmly lodged in Bilbo’s mind, which is why he was looking to compensate them for the trouble he had essentially caused them, and leaving him without a penny. 

Thorin, it seems, has completely forgotten the terms of the contract he gave Bilbo to sign. Now, he considers him a miserable rat whose help along the way and is facing the dragon alone does not even matter.

For all intents and purposes Bilbo, the friend, and comrade he had in his company, one who helped him escape the dungeons of the Woodland Realm, the spider cocoons in Mirkwood, the three Trolls in Trollshaw Forest are completely erased and forgotten. This one act of betrayal as Thorin sees it, changes everything he might have thought about the Hobbit until now. 

Exposing madness

Bilbo: “I was going to give it to you. Many times I wanted to, but…”

Thorin: “But what, thief?”

Bilbo: “You are changed, Thorin. The Dwarf I met in Bag End would never have gone back on his word. Would never have doubted the loyalty of his kin!” 

Thorin: “Do not speak to me of loyalty. Throw him from the rampart!” Did you not hear me? I will do it myself. Curse you!”

Fili: “No!”

Thorin: “Curse be the Wizard who forced you up on this company.”

Without anyone else having the courage to tell Thorin to his face about the changes in his behavior, Bilbo takes this role upon himself. He throws his word and loyalty of those around him directly into his face, trying desperately for Thorin to see the truth and snap out of his madness. However, all Thorin registers is the loyalty that Bilbo has himself broken, and him having no moral ground to lecture him on his doubts about his own kin on that point. 

Bilbo’s attack enrages Thorin to the point that he orders the Dwarves around him to throw Bilbo from the gate. He forces Fili’s hand, but Fili breaks away. This leaves Thorin with the only possible solution to his problem, to throw Bilbo over the rampart himself.

In his madness, he takes Bilbo by his clothes and presses him against the rampart with Bilbo’s upper body facing the fall. The Dwarves around Thorin try to stop him, but in his rage he is untouchable, his strength is induced by rage that makes any attempt at halting him fruitlessly. 

An unsplendid figure

Gandalf: “If you don’t like my burglar then please don’t damage him. Return him to me. You’re not making a very splendid figure as King under the Mountain are you, Thorin son of Thráin?” 

Thorin: “Never again will I have dealings with Wizards!” 

Bofur: “Go.”

Thorin: “Or Shire rats!”

Gandalf orders Thorin to release Bilbo to his care which he does willingly. The Dwarves then help Bilbo to his escape route. Gandalf’s following sentence pierces into the heart of Thorin leaving him in surprise and hurt over the truth of Gandalf’s words. It would seem by his reaction that Thorin feels different, but is unable to control either his behavior or his temper.

Gandalf’s words pierce through the madness and snap Thorin out of it for a second, but the hurt that the truth brings to the foreground drives Thorin’s defensive system into overdrive. A harsh and angry reaction full of hurt and hate escapes his lips. 

Confusion and agony

Bard: “Are we resolved? The return of the Arkenstone for what was promised?” 

Thorin: “Why should I buy back that which is rightfully mine?”

Thranduil: “Keep the stone, sell it. Ecthelion of Gondor will give you a good price for it.” 

Thorin: “I will kill you! By my oath, I will kill you all!” 

Thranduil: “Your oath means nothing. I’ve heard enough.” 

Gandalf: “Lay down your arms. Open these doors. This treasure will be your death.” 

It is a battle of wits between Thorin, Thranduil and Bard who still want to resolve their situation. Thranduil seems to not particularly care if Thorin gives in or not, for he is ready to attack with all his might. He does not want to waste time arguing with someone who does not seem to want to back off. With the mention of selling the Arkenstone to Gondor he goads Thorin, knowing full well he would rather die than have the stone in someone else’s hands. 

Thorin paces back and forth between other members of his company in obvious war with himself, not knowing if his plea of help would be answered by the Dwarves of the Iron Hills. He does not want to succumb to the pressures of Bard and Thranduil but he cannot be sure if the Iron Hills Dwarves are on their way or not which leaves him in agony and confusion. 

Gandalf still tries to appeal to his humane side, pointing out the fact that this quarrel over gold will be his downfall. This is similar to his observations of his character before they engaged the three Trolls, where Gandalf pointed out the danger of Thorin’s pride. Now that pride is coupled with madness and extreme possessiveness, it presents a dangerous combination. 

Peace or war

Balin: “Thorin, we cannot win this fight.” 

Bard: “Give us your answer. Will you have peace or war?”

Thorin: “I will have war.” 

The raven that had left the gate of Erebor after the first attempts at negotiation, has now returned, looking meaningfully at Thorin, answering his hopes. For only a moment afterward footsteps are heard of the Iron Hills Dwarves. Seeing them Thorin’s decision for war is cemented and communicated. 

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Featured image by Bruno /Germany on Pixabay

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