After their first day’s journey, the company seek a well-protected and somewhat comfortable place to rest their weary bones. Since this is Bilbo’s first night sleeping somewhere outside his bedroom, the inability to find any rest is understandable. However, that is not the only reason for his lack of rest. Bombur is another.
Because of his bulkiness and impressive ability to eat everything one might put in front of him, he has become a veritable snoring machine. Nothing can wake him, not even the flies that he keeps inhaling and exhaling while snoring. Bilbo, on the other hand, not being used to having a roommate, especially not a loud one like Bombur annoyed by his inability to sleep, decides to stay up.
The Dwarves are either spread out in small groups resting the best way they know how or having the same problem as Bilbo. Since camaraderie with the Dwarves is something Bilbo will develop over time, right now he finds it in his horse, or rather pony. He seems to have taken a shine to Myrtle in spite of their awkward first meeting.
Bilbo: “Hello, girl. Who’s a good girl? It’s our little secret, Myrtle. You must tell no one. Shh, shh. What was that?”
Food is scarce on a journey this long and it is prudent to ration it in a way that would benefit the whole company. Bilbo, however, takes an apple for Myrtle. The pony deserves to be pampered after the hardship she faces daily with this company. Suddenly, a croak is heard in the distance, and Bilbo’s fearful antennae raise the alarm. In the Shire, there is no such sound to be heard.
Fili: “Throat-cutters. There’ll be dozens of them out there. The lone-lands are crawling with them.”
Kili: “They strike in the wee small hours when everyone’s asleep. Quick and quiet, no screams. Just lots of blood.”
The mere mention of Orcs turns Bilbo’s blood cold. He may not know much about the Orc race but what he can resume is their dangerous nature. Fili and Kili finally found someone they could scare the life out of. They feed on seeing Bilbo terrified. As they merely mention the word Orc, Thorin snaps out of his sleep. This particular race gives him ample reason to stay alert.
Thorin: “You think that’s funny? You think a night raid by Orcs is a joke?”
Kili: “We didn’t mean anything by it.”
Thorin: “No, you didn’t. You know nothing of the world.”
After the initial scare of the mention of Orcs, Thorin realizes Fili and Kili were just playing a joke on Bilbo. He could have ignored it and gone back to sleep, but instead, he opted for teaching the two young Dwarves a lesson. Fili and Kili’s casual description of this particular race’s modus operandi angers Thorin.
Thorin takes their joke to be tasteless and cruel, especially since they do not seem to grasp the dangerous aspect of what might actually happen to them, and how much of a joke it all isn’t. As soon as he speaks, Fili and Kili lower their heads in embarrassment. Although they were just having fun, the scars that Thorin carries with him from the Battle of Azanulbizar open wide with only a mention of the race that almost destroyed the line of Durin.
Thorin could have compartmentalized the Dwarves’ little story and let it go, but he took it to heart because of his own history with the Orcs. It, however, does not have anything to do with Fili and Kili but solely with Thorin. After barking at them, he retreats to the overlook to cope with his own feelings that this little joke brought up in him. He could have done so without reprimanding the two Dwarves, but he wanted to make a point of it.
It is, however, not Fili and Kili’s fault for his own feelings about the race. But Thorin is more of a Dwarf that expresses his every emotion, especially those that seep out of his old wounds.
Balin: “Don’t mind him, laddie. Thorin has more cause than most to hate Orcs. After the dragon took the Lonely Mountain King Thrór tried to reclaim the ancient Dwarf kingdom of Moria. But our enemy had got there first. Moria had been taken by legions of Orcs led by the most vile of all their race: Azog the Defiler. The giant Gundabad Orc had sworn to wipe out the line of Durin. He began by beheading the king.”
Balin: “Thrain, Thorin’s father was driven mad by grief. He went missing. Taken prisoner or killed we did not know. We were leaderless. Defeat and death were upon us. That is when I saw him. A young Dwarf prince facing down the pale Orc. He stood alone against this terrible foe. His armor rent wielding nothing but an oaken branch as a shield. Azog the Defiler learned that day that the line of Durin would not be so easily broken. Our forces rallied and drove the Orcs back. Our enemy had been defeated. But there was no feast nor song that night, for our dead were beyond the count of grief. We few had survived. And I thought to myself then there is one I could follow. There is one I could call king.”
The story of the Battle of Azanulbizar is one of heroism and emotional strength. After seeing his grandfather’s head roll towards him as proof of Azog’s dominance over the line of Durin, Thorin could have fallen into grief that would render him completely powerless against the culprit. As it is he took the grief and shock of the situation and turned it into strength. As he wounded Azog and the other Orcs took him away into Moria, Thorin along with his army rallied and assured the retreat of the Orcs.
Having lost his grandfather and not finding his father among the dead, he remains alone, the sole heir to the throne of Erebor. The count of their dead leaves their victory hollow. There is no other emotion for him to feel but grief and sorrow for his two important pillars have been taken away from him. It may have seemed daunting to him as he realized he would have to fill the shoes of his father and grandfather.
However, the action he alone took against the pale Orc and the subsequent rally was enough for his comrades to see his quality. The competence and ability to rule was there without him even knowing. He didn’t have to voice anything, it was there in the action he took to save his people.
As Thorin turns around when Balin finishes the story, on either side of his path back to where he lied now stand the members of his company. They are honoring Thorin for what he had done for their people and the quality he still holds as a leader of their lost kingdom. The expression in his eyes is not one of pride or arrogance but one of sadness and grief over the memory that Fili and Kili’s joke awoke in him.
Thorin does not separate himself emotionally from the rest of the company. What he feels is what everyone can see. And those are feelings they all share with him. Compassion and sympathy for his pain emanate out of his comrades’ eyes as Thorin walks through down the path they created for him.
Bilbo: “And the pale Orc? What happened to him?”
Thorin: “He slunk back into the hole when he came. That filth died of his wounds long ago.”
Bilbo cannot understand the pain behind the story as he wasn’t there and doesn’t belong to the same race. He does, however, express the same sadness that the Dwarves do. As opposed to the others, Bilbo shows interest in knowing more than what Balin has told. As soon as Azog is mentioned, Balin’s eyes and eyebrows widen in fear. This is the information that Balin had kept out of the story on purpose, hoping he wouldn’t have to divulge any more than it is necessary for the company to understand Thorin’s reaction to Fili and Kili’s joke.
Bilbo sees Balin’s reaction but can’t make anything of it. Before he could pose any more questions about this particular Orc, Thorin provides him with a brief account of the end of Azog’s life.
Gandalf and Balin exchange knowing glances. The information is there in their eyes but they decide to keep it for themselves. No need to upset their leader.
Yazneg: “Send word to the Master we have found the Dwarf-scum.”
The company is being hunted. A threat hangs in the air they breathe, a threat they themselves are not aware of. It won’t be long until the threat reveals itself. Until then follow me to my next post.