They came, they ate and now they retire. Well, most of the company. Thorin and Balin, together with their group’s spokesperson Gandalf, remain behind with Lord Elrond.
Pride and downfall
Thorin: “Our business is no concern of Elves.”
Gandalf: “For goodness sake, Thorin. Show him the map.”
Thorin: “It is the legacy of my people. It is mine to protect, as are its secrets.”
Gandalf: “Save me from the stubbornness of the Dwarves. Your pride will be your downfall. You stand here in the presence of one of the few in Middle-Earth who can read that map. Show it to Lord Elrond.”
Balin: “Thorin, no.”
The Dwarves need Lord Elrond to decipher their map. The only hindrance in this endeavour is Thorin. This is, however, no surprise. The Dwarves are a very secretive race. Their language as well as their own name in Khuzdul is kept secret. The fear of losing or relinquishing their power by revealing their name is very real. This is one of the reasons why Dwarves are very reproachful with other races.
Pride is, of course, another. The heirloom of his House is Thorin’s to protect, which is altogether very admirable. However, this quest does not concern only the Dwarves. If anything were to go wrong, the rest of Middle-Earth will be forced to intervene. Therefore, the knowledge of the Dwarves taking this quest should be shared, so that others can prepare themselves for any eventuality. The downside of this information though is its ending in wrong hands, as it already has.
Gandalf’s premonition about Thorin’s downfall by way of his pride will ring true in the end. But we have a long way to go yet.
Elrond: “Erebor. What is your interest in this map?”
Gandalf: “It’s mainly academic. As you know his sort of artefact sometimes contains hidden text. You still read ancient Dwarvish, do you not?”
To preserve Thorin’s need for secrecy, Gandalf interjects with an explanation why they need the map deciphered. It is one thing to show it to someone who can read it and help them along. It is completely another to divulge their true purpose for its deciphering.
Although Gandalf finds Thorin’s pride and secrecy very hindering at times, he also does his part in preserving it. And he does not only do it for Thorin’s sake but for his own as well.
Gandalf hasn’t told anyone about the Dwarves’ quest that he initiated. As a lonesome Wizard, he does as he chooses without fear of reprimand. He thought it right for the Dwarves to take this journey and so he made it happen. He wishes to keep the true purpose of their quest a secret to avoid any kind of reprimand from Saruman or Lord Elrond.
Gandalf: “Moon runes? Of course. An easy thing to miss.”
Elrond: “Well, in this case, that is true. Moon runes can only be read by the light of a moon of the same shape and season as the day on which they were written.”
Thorin: “Can you read them?”
Moon runes in Khuzdul on this map resemble the same problematic as the ones The Fellowship of the Ring had when trying to decipher the doors of Moria. There they only had Gandalf to help them but not even he could crack the code. It was Frodo who stumbled onto the truth.
It seems that Dwarves have a unique tendency to leave heirlooms and doorways undetectable and undecipherable for their own people so they would need to ask for help from other races. Interesting. This would point to the fact that ancient Dwarves were aware of their races’ shortcomings and wanted to make sure their race continued to communicate with others,to even share their secrets with them.
This would mean they wanted the future generations of Dwarves to gain a sense of humility, reality other than their own. For when the Dwarves are in their mining element, they tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the world and develop a sense of supremacy over others.
In communicating and exchanging knowledge with other races they gain much-needed help as well as perspective over their own lives. Or so it should be.
A race against time
Elrond: “These runes were written on a Midsummer’s Eve by the light of a crescent moon nearly 200 years ago. It would seem you were meant to come to Rivendell. Fate is with you Thorin Oakenshield. The same moon shines upon us tonight. “Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the keyhole”.”
Bilbo: “Durin’s Day?”
Gandalf: “It is the start of the Dwarves’ new year, when the last moon of autumn and the first sun of winter appear in the sky together.”
Thorin: “This is ill news. Summer is passing. Durin’s Day will soon be upon us.”
Balin: “We still have time.”
Bilbo: “Time? For what?”
Balin: “To find the entrance. We have to be standing in exactly the right spot at exactly the right time. Then, and only then, can the door be opened.”
As Lord Elrond reads the runes out loud, Balin and Thorin become anxious, rather than relieved. The runes turn their journey into a race against time of which they do not have much. They can’t know what still lies in their path and obstacles they will have to face until they reach the Lonely Mountain. And now they face another dimension they haven’t even thought about.
Bilbo, completely foreign to almost every word read, enquires about it. He does not know what these concepts represent and how important it is for the Dwarves, but he learns as he goes along.
Guardians of Middle-Earth
Elrond: “So, this is your purpose, to enter the mountain?”
Thorin: “What of it?”
Elrond: “There are some who would not deem it wise.”
Gandalf: “What do you mean?”
Elrond: “You are not the only guardian to stand watch over Middle-Earth.”
And they have done it themselves, they have revealed the secret of their quest. Sure as day, Lord Elrond advises against their advance. This doesn’t surprise Thorin one bit, since he was convinced that Elves would not bless their quest for their homeland.
Gandalf, however, is interested in Lord Elrond’s words. They point to someone else knowing about the quest, someone else deeming it unwise to proceed. Someone who watches over Middle-Earth and cares about its protection.
Yazneg: “The Dwarves, Master we lost them. Ambushed by Elvish filth, we were…”
Azog: “I don’t want excuses. I want the head of the Dwarf King!”
Yazneg: “We were outnumbered. There was nothing we could do. I barely escaped with my life.”
Azog: “Far better you had paid with it. The Dwarf-scum will show themselves soon enough. Send out word there is a price on their heads.”
The Orcs’ first attempt on the Dwarves’ lives has failed. They haven’t even managed to take the life of the instigator of the chase. Their failed attempt leaves their Master enraged and unempathetic to their plight. Azog would have rather had his minions lose their own lives if they had managed to cut off Thorin’s head.
The hunt has taken a much greater scope now that every Goblin and every Orc in the land will know of the pale Orc’s thirst for Dwarves’ blood.
Elrond: “Not with your companions?”
Bilbo: “Uh, no, I shan’t be missed. The truth is that most of them don’t think I should be on this journey.”
Elrond: “Indeed? I’ve heard that Hobbits are very resilient.”
Elrond: “Mmm..I’ve also heard they’re fond of the comforts of home.”
Bilbo: “I’ve heard that it’s unwise to seek the council of Elves. That they will answer with yes and no.”
Elrond: “You are very welcome to stay here, if that is your wish.”
Lord Elrond is somewhat surprised at Bilbo’s explanation of his avoiding Dwarves’ company. For what he knows of Hobbits, they seem to be an ideal companion in this kind of undertaking. It is also plain to see that the Dwarves’ attitude and non acceptance of Bilbo has gotten to him. He is there to help them and they don’t even acknowledge him.
Lord Elrond sees this which is why he offers his hospitality to him. He had noticed Bilbo’s fascination with Rivendell and his unsaid wish to remain with the Elves. The comforts of home Bilbo is so fond of are also attainable there in Rivendell.
Lindir: “The kitchen’s under enormous strain, we are almost out of wine. How long do you think they will be with us?”
Elrond: “That has yet to be decided.”
Lindir and Lord Elrond discuss the lack of food and wine the Dwarves have left behind in the Elves’ pantry. The same emotion Bilbo has felt not that long ago. However, since the council is about to meet, the Dwarves need to await their decision whether or not they are allowed to keep their original plans in place.
What angers and shocks both of them is the sight of Dwarves bathing in their fountain. I would think that this fountain has a meaning to the Elves as everything else has and that the Dwarves are desecrating an important piece of their kingdom. It is imperative for the Dwarves to leave Rivendell as soon as possible.
Falling flat on one’s ass
Nori: “No, you did the same thing. It’s not like you didn’t do it.”
Dwalin: “Dori! Here, take that.”
The Dwarves are oblivious to havoc they have reeked on the hospitality of the Elves and as it always is they all enjoy their dinner, one they have made themselves, one where they can finally taste some meat. And have a laugh as Bombur breaks the table he is sitting on by catching a sausage Bofur threw his way.
Read on in my next post.
Photo credit to Thorin’s map, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, WETA Workshop, Wellington, New Zealand