Riverbank

On the Riverbank

The company has reached “safety”. Though they cannot see an Orc pack behind them does not mean they are out of immediate danger. They are wet, cold and unarmed, sitting ducks for the Orcs. 

Losing the current

Thorin: “Anything behind us?”

Balin: “Not that I can see.”

Bofur: “I think we’ve outrun the Orcs.” 

Thorin: “Not for long. We’re lost the current.” 

They couldn’t have remained in their barrels without a current. Even if they reached the lake by some miracle on hand paddling they would not have managed to cross the Long Lake unseen. They need to come up with a way to cross the lake to reach the Lonely Mountain. If they stayed on the shore and moved on foot the Orcs would have reached them in no time. So another solution must be found. 

Heavy costumes

Óin: “Bombur’s half drowned.” 

Thorin: “Make for the shore!”

Óin: “Aye.”

Thorin: “Come on, let’s go!”

Óin: “Glóin, help me, my brother.”

Dwalin: “Come on, lift yourself. Come on!”

Bofur: “Come on, you big lump, you!”

Getting into the barrels was one thing, they were all dry and they could just slide into it. However, now that they are all wet, exiting the barrels is something of a task. If we consider what the actors are wearing underneath their costume then it would all make much more sense.

First of all, they have a wet suit on, important because of the coldness of the river, which they all experienced when they prepared to shoot the scene on the river bank. Secondly, there is a fat suit on top of the wetsuit to give them that stocky bulky Dwarvish look. And thirdly, the costumes they have to wear on top of it all. 

The fat suits absorb water like sponges leaving the actors little possibility to climb onto the shore faster. The costume crew even drilled holes in their huge boots to help drain the water faster out of their costumes. It didn’t help as much as they had hoped. It still left the Dwarves struggling to climb onto the shore. The older actors needed help getting out of the barrels, as did Stephen Hunter (Bombur) and Ori (Adam Brown).

Bombur’s soaked costume and a fat suit made it impossible for him to free himself of the barrel. Ori, in a much lighter version of the fat suit, lacked the muscular strength to lift himself up off the shore. Dwalin (Graham McTavish) was there to help him up thinking Ori was overacting, but in reality, he couldn’t help himself stand. 

Kili withholding pain

Kili: “I’m fine. It’s nothing.” 

Thorin: “On your feet.” 

Fili: “Kili’s wounded. His leg needs binding.” 

Thorin: “There’s an Orc pack on our tail. We keep moving.” 

Balin: “To where?” 

Bilbo: “To the mountain. We’re so close.” 

Balin: “A lake lies between us and that mountain. We have no way to cross it.” 

Bilbo: “So then we go around.” 

Dwalin: “The Orcs will run us down, as sure as daylight. We’ve no weapon to defend ourselves.” 

Thorin: “Bind his leg, quickly. You have two minutes.”

Kili manages to climb onto the shore but falls to his knees as soon as he does so. The poison of the Morgul shaft has begun its journey throughout his body. Now, the pain is only situated in the leg, disabling Kili to walk properly. Soon, however, it will cover the whole of his body.

For now, he is still brave enough not admitting pain to the others. He doesn’t want to be a burden to the company, having them take care of him. He wants to contribute as much as he can, which means he has to keep his pain for himself in order not to stir the worry of the rest of the Dwarves. 

Fili, of course, is right as his brother’s side wanting to help bind his leg seeing it damaged as it is. Thorin looks around nervously trying to come up with a solution to their current problem: how to cross the lake. It doesn’t seem that it could be solved easily. However, even without the solution, they have to keep moving if they want to stay ahead of the Orcs. 

The Man of the Lake

Without them noticing anything, a Man moves stealthily above them all, raising his bow and arrow in Ori’s direction. Kili steps in to protect Ori with a rock in his hand, but an arrow flings it out of his hand with accurate speed.

Dwalin then comes in with a log to fight the Man with the bow and arrow. Another arrow flies this time into Dwalin’s log as a warning shot. The Man isn’t there to kill them, only to disarm them and warn them of the possibility of injury.

Transportation enquiry

Bard: “Do it again, and you’re dead.” 

Balin: “Excuse me, but you’re from Lake-town, if I’m not mistaken. That barge over there it wouldn’t be available for hire by any chance?”

As Bard speaks the Dwarves all stand and listen. They know they cannot match him seeing as they don’t have any weapons on them to protect themselves. Balin, seeing a barge roped tightly to the shore, quickly thinks of a solution to their problem. This Man could be their salvation. The only thing to do is to negotiate and converse with the Man in the most pleasant manner.

Apart from Bilbo, Balin is the only one who is calm and reasonable enough to come to some resolution with the Man. Even as he simply suggests hiring the Man and his barge, there is a slight hope that it may just work. Bard doesn’t dismiss the idea abruptly, so there must still be a chance for a positive outcome of the ensuing negotiation. 

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Negotiation

Bard: “What makes you think I would help you?”

Balin: “Those boots have seen better days. As has that coat. No doubt you have some hungry mouths to feed. How many bairns?”

Bard: “A boy and two girls.” 

Balin: “And you’re wife, I imagine she’s a beauty.” 

Bard: “Aye. She was.” 

Balin: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

What better way to get someone to help them who is hesitant about it all, then to point out why he needs them as much as they need him. Balin seems to be making progress with his tactics, appealing to Bard’s softer familiar side, knowing that he can’t lose if there are other lives that depend on his livelihood. 

It comes as a bit of a surprise when Bard’s wife is mentioned. Balin couldn’t have known that she had passed away, but immediately rushes to rectify the situation by apologizing for bringing her up. In his eyes that may be a stone in the path he was trying to smooth for the company.

Now, with this faux pas, he may have lost Bard’s interest in the whole endeavor. It is not his fault that he couldn’t have known about Bard’s wife’s death, but still in a negotiation bringing up painful memories can only slow down the resolution of the situation. 

Enough of niceties

Dwalin: “Oh, come on, come on. Enough of the niceties.” 

Bard: “What’s your hurry?”

Dwalin: “What’s it to you?”

Bard: “I would like to know who you are and what you are doing in these lands.” 

Balin: “We are simple merchants from the Blue Mountains journeying to see our kin in the Iron Hills.”

Dwalin sees it as absolutely superfluous to try and keep on Bard’s good side. He doesn’t care about small talk and personal introductions. He would have done it much more crudely and much more inefficiently, probably. If there is something someone wants from someone else then it is in their best interest to remain on that person’s good side so as to increase the chances of a positive outcome. Knowing Dwalin he would have simply said what they wanted and gotten angry when Bard refused. 

This personal touch that Balin had introduced may go a longer way where Bard might even become friendly with the Dwarves. Which is precisely why Balin again takes the reins of the conversation after Dwalin nearly blows it for all of them. It is only logical for Bard to want to know who they are and why they are here. If he is to risk his livelihood then he has the right to know who he is transporting in his barge. 

Balin is a very grandfatherly character, very pleasant in whose presence everyone immediately feels comfortable. One can see the wisdom and in his eyes and the warmth they emanate. The perfect Dwarf to represent the company. 

Ill-fated business with the Elves

Bard: “Simple merchants, you say?”

Thorin: “We need food, supplies, weapons. Can you help us?”

Bard: “I know where these barrels came from.” 

Thorin: “What of it?”

Bard: “I don’t know what business you had with the Elves but I don’t think it ended well. No one enters Lake-Town but by leave of the Master. All his wealth comes from trade with the Woodland Realm. He would see you in irons before risking the wrath of King Thranduil.” 

Thorin is direct and straightforward about their needs. It may have been a simple question had Bard not noticed the damage on the barrels they floated in. For Thorin to explain it would cause him to divulge more about them than it is necessary for Bard to know. So he poses a question in self-defence and in clear defiance of the bargeman’s observations.

Bard very calmly explains the situation of Lake-town, clearly stating that the wealth from the Woodland Realm and its trade with Lake Men is more important to them, and especially the Master of Lake-town, than anything else under the sun. 

However, in his little speech, Bard does not say he would not help them cross the lake. He still hadn’t dismissed them, which points to enough wiggle room for the Dwarves to negotiate their transportation. 

Doule pay

Thorin: “Offer him more.” 

Balin: “I’ll wager there are ways to enter that town unseen.” 

Bard: “Aye. But for that you would need a smuggler.” 

Balin: “For which he would pay double.”

Bard catches Thorin’s whisper to Balin with an interested albeit confusing look on his face. He is intrigued by the Dwarves’ willingness to risk their lives only to cross the lake. Normally, none would dare to risk so much just to visit relations. This all begins to feel as if more lies behind their words. They have certainly not said it all. Balin tries his last negotiating tactic, offering to pay double only to see the opposite shore of the lake.

This seems to do it for Bard. He must have been waiting for them to offer as much as they could for him to take them with him. It is not all in the coins they will pay him either. He can see the urgency of this request in Balin’s eyes. He can sense there is much more to the story than they have told them. However, being as broke as any man in Lake-town every silver coin is welcome. 

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Featured image by ArtTower on Pixabay

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