Slopes

On the Slopes of Erebor

They fought the spiders of Mirkwood, they escaped incarceration in the Woodland Realm, they made their case in front of the people of Lake-town, and now they finally reached their destination, the slopes of Erebor. 

Silence

Bilbo: “So quiet.” 

Balin: “Wasn’t always like this. Once, these slopes were lined with woodlands. The trees were filled with birdsong.” 

Thorin: “Relax, Master Baggins. We have food, we have tools, and we’re making good time.” 

There is no birdsong on the slopes of Erebor, there are no trees, no bushes, nothing to give rise to the idea that the area was once populated with any kind of flora or fauna. Colour grey covers this realm, a colour signifying what the realm had suffered. Bilbo couldn’t have known how this part of the journey would be, as he couldn’t have known with any part, but this part makes him uneasy and sad. There is no other sound to be heard in Hobbiton than that of birdsong, or Hobbitsong. There is joy in their lives, vivid colours, merriment. Here it is ashen, grey, quiet and sad. 

Thorin, having grown up on these slopes knew it through the good and bad times. And to see it the way it now does not strike him as it does Bilbo. It leaves him elated to be standing on these grounds again with the thought that though they have traveled far and through great peril they are prepared to tackle this last part of their journey with optimism. They have everything they need to sustain them, food, tools, and most importantly time. They have time to find the hidden door and enter the mountain before the sun sets. 

Desolation

Bilbo: “What is this place?”

Balin: “It was once the city of Dale. Now it is a ruin. The desolation of Smaug.” 

As they reach the overlook, overlooking Dale, Bilbo’s heart sinks at the devastation his eyes take in. To hear that the ruin in front of him, covered in snow and ash, was once a city that housed people is unimaginable. To only imagine people having thrived there but with one fell swoop begin killed by the dragon is impossible to comprehend.

There is sympathy as well as sadness in not only his but the rest of the company’s eyes. To witness destruction like this having come from the most peaceful place in Middle-Earth is to comprehend other people’s misfortunes and loss. A side of life Bilbo was not yet introduced to. 

At the overlook

Thorin: “The sun will soon reach midday. We must find the hidden door into the mountain before it sets. This way.”

Bilbo: “Wait. Is this the overlook? Gandalf said to meet him here. On no account were we to…”

Thorin: “Do you see him? We have no time to wait upon the Wizard. We’re on our own. Come!”

Thorin is taking charge of the final leg of their journey. Though Gandalf had clearly stated for the company not to enter that mountain without him, Thorin is impatient and rallying to finally see his home again.

Bilbo, with his cautiousness, would have liked it better if they waited for the wise Wizard to guide them from this point on. Although he has been accepted into the company and has become one of them, Gandalf is still the one he feels most comfortable and safe with. The Dwarves may have acknowledged him as part of their company, but that does not imply that Bilbo is completely comfortable with them and their decisions. 

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The Hill of Sorcery

Gandalf: “Dol Guldur. The Hill of Sorcery.” 

Radagast: “It looks completely abandoned.” 

Gandalf: “As it is meant to. A spell of concealment lies over this place, which means our Enemy is not yet ready to reveal himself. He has not regained his full strength. Radagast, I need you to carry a message to the Lady Galadriel. Tell her we must force his hand.” 

Radagast: “What do you mean?”

Gandalf: “I’m going in alone. On no account come after me. Do I have your word?” 

Radagast: “Yes, yes! Wait, Gandalf! What if it’s a trap?” 

Gandalf: “Turn around and do not come back. It’s undoubtedly a trap.” 

And now we know where Gandalf was, what he was investigating while Bilbo was wanting to rendezvous with him at the overlook. The Necromancer needs to be dealt with, to expose him for what he really is and not live under the assumption of what it could be. Which is precisely why Gandalf had to make this detour. 

When Gandalf enters Dol Guldur he finds more than he had bargained for. It is a Hill of Sorcery, and a very dangerous one, but there is more to it than he realizes. The place is decorated to the resident’s taste. There are iron spikes protruding all over the place, not to mention cages with skeletons in them of people that have died in incarceration.

The vines of the walls aren’t ivy vines that rustically and homely decorated someone’s outside wall. There is evil lurking around every corner. Even if there was nobody residing there, still the place’s appearance would be as menacing and as terrifying as a whole army of Orcs, which are yet to reveal themselves. 

Unbeknownst to Gandalf, there is a rather human creature inside the walls of Dol Guldur chasing after him. 

The hidden stairs

Thorin: “Anything?”

Dwalin: “Nothing.” 

Thorin: “If the map is true, the hidden door lies directly above us.” 

Bilbo: “Up here!”

Thorin: “You have keen eyes, Mr. Baggins.” 

The Dwarves search for the hidden door across the plains but find none. Not until their 14th member looks up and spots the stairs chiseled into the statue of Thrór, leading up onto a plain that they finally find what they were looking for. Thorin is joyful over this discovery as he is with Bilbo. Bilbo, for himself, feels proud to have helped the company at such a crucial time in their journey. Time was of the essence, and Bilbo wasted none of it to find what they were all looking for. 

Breaking the spell

Gandalf: “The evil that is hidden here, I command it come forth! I command it reveal itself!” 

Azog: “The Wizard has come.”

Orc: “He is lifting the spell. He will find us!”

Azog: “Yes..he will.”

While the company celebrate the finding of the stairs that lead to the door, Gandalf is doing his part in uncovering the sorcerer of Dol Guldur. The spell that was cast over the fortress begins to lessen in power as Gandalf repeats his incantations in Quenya. He is adamant in coming to the truth of this mystery. 

Azog, his Orcs and his Wargs wait patiently on the ground level for the spell to lift so that Gandalf can see what he has brought forth upon himself. Although the Orc is concerned about Gandalf discovering them, Azog thrives on the idea of facing the Wizard. There had to come a time when a Wizard would come and lift the spell to engage them. The curiosity to know who is behind it all is too great to sit on the sidelines and wait for it to unleash its true power. 

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Featured image by clement fusil on Unsplash

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