Just as Thorin was deliberating what to do in this blackmail situation, the joyous sound of marching Dwarves reaches his ears. His hopes and wishes had come to fruition, for his cousin is here with his army to help in settling the situation, or rather aggravating it even more. The Dwarves of Erebor are no longer alone.
Ironfoot: “Hey Thorin! Ironfoot has come!”
Bilbo: “Who is that? He doesn’t look very happy.”
Gandalf: “It is Dáin, Lord of the Iron Hills. Thorin’s cousin.”
Bilbo: “Are they alike?”
Gandalf: “I’ve always found Thorin the more reasonable of the two.”
The expression on Gandalf’s face does not awaken thoughts of gladness or happiness at Lord Dáin’s arrival. It is rather fear and concern that is found in Gandalf’s eyes, for he has met Dáin before. Dáin for his part announces his arrival as a salvation, almost a Jesus-like coming. He is confident, proud and most assured he will be able to resolve the situation his cousin finds himself in.
The Dwarves of Erebor shout out at the sight of Dáin knowing they will be saved from the stand-off that has unfolded in front of their gate.
Bilbo, for his part, can only assume that a Dwarf is a Dwarf is a Dwarf. He cannot know Dáin, however, Gandalf’s description of the Dwarf tells him exactly what he needed to know. If Thorin is the reasonable one of the two, then he can only imagine in fear what kind of mind and personality Dáin has and what he will bring to this tense party.
Meet and greet
Dáin: “Good morning. How are we all? I have a wee proposition if you wouldn’t mind giving me a few moments of your time. Would you consider just sodding off? All of you! Right now!”
Bard: “Stand fast!”
Gandalf: “Come now, Lord Dáin.”
Almost pleasantly Dáin rides his boar toward the armies of Elves and Men. He is most polite initially as he greets them. For a moment it seems as though he is merely coming for a meet and greet to destress the situation. However, from the pleasant to the aggressive he switches speedily. The people of Lake-town retreat a few paces seeing the anger with which Dáin addresses them all.
Seeing as how easily terror is brought into the hearts of Men, Gandalf steps forward to reveal himself to Dáin and keep the situation as civil as possible. Though he knows Dáin’s character, still he tries his best to settle the tension with communication rather than weapons.
Dáin: “Gandalf the Grey. Tell this rabble to leave, or I’ll water the ground with their blood!”
Gandalf: “There is no need for war between Dwarves, Men and Elves. A legion of Orcs march on the Mountain. Stand your army down.”
Dáin: “I will not stand down before any Elf. Not least this faithless Woodland sprite. He wishes nothing but ill upon my people. If he chooses to stand between me and my kin I’ll split his pretty head open! See if he’s still smirking then.”
Dáin uses Gandalf to his advantage telling him to instruct the Men and the Elves to leave these grounds. There is obviously no want of understanding on the part of Dáin, he certainly did not bring his army just to stand there. If he only wanted to communicate and negotiate peace on behalf of his cousin, he would have come alone.
No love lost
Gandalf can see there little to be gained in talking to Dáin, still he tries. The information he has on the oncoming slaughter from the army of Orcs of Dol Guldur does not sway Dáin from his cause. Since there is no Orc army in sight, the current situation with the Elves and Men threatening his kin, that he must address immediately.
The long-standing feud the Dwarves have with the Elves is again plainly seen. Both races lack a sense of respect and honor toward each other. Though Thranduil has not said a word to Dáin, his smirking lips point to a reciprocal amount of hate. There is no need to utter a word when he can replace it with a wicked smile.
Thranduil is aware that by all accounts his army is superior to that of Dáin, so he finds his threats endearing rather than intimidating, knowing how much damage he is going to cause Dáin if he proceeds to antagonize.
Gandalf: “Dáin wait!”
Thranduil: “Let them advance. See how far they get.”
Dáin: “You think I give a dead dog for your threats you pointy-eared princess? You hear that, lads? We’re on! Let’s give these bastards a good hammering!”
Thranduil: “Stand your men down! I’ll deal with Ironfoot and his rabble.”
As Dáin heads towards his army the Dwarves of Erebor cheer in glee. Dáin does not even consider Gandalf’s words or his attempts at peaceful resolve. Thranduil takes the threat in stride, completely confident that he will prevail. Dáin’s name-calling of Thranduil leaves the king not smirking but down right angry. Nobody likes to be called names, especially effeminate ones while riding on an elk and trying to exude a kingly behavior.
The people of Lake-town back down from any involvement in this fight seeing as there is only cause for the Elves and the Dwarves to battle. The Men do not have the history with the Dwarves as the Elves do, so this isn’t their fight.
The goat offensive
Dáin: “Right then. Let’s get this done. Send in the goats!”
Gandalf: “Thranduil! This is madness!”
There has probably never been a general who has uttered the words “send in the goats” as part of a battle strategy. It sounds as the most absurd sentence someone in Dáin’s position could utter. However, from his point of view, there is nothing laughable about it. The goats are his army’s transportation vehicles just as the boar is Dáin’s.
Him riding a boar, though highly ridiculous from our point of view, is a very serious matter. He remains as confident and as stout as can be, giving an air of seriousness about him. He doesn’t think himself ridiculous, and neither should anyone else.
Though Gandalf tries to reason with Thranduil over the obvious lack of cause for a battle, Thranduil ignores him outright.
Dáin: “How do you like that, the old twirlie-whirlies? Ha, ha, you buggars!”
Thranduil orders the archers to fly their arrows toward the Dwarves, confident it would debilitate Dáin’s army immediately. However, what he didn’t reckon with is the Dwarves’ defense and offense system all in one. The so-called twirlie-whirlies are a weapon that the creative team behind the film have cooked up.
There was no such weapon in times of warfare where arrows were the main source of pain. They are most effective and destructive, leaving the Elven army decimated and Thranduil in utter shock.
The twirlie-whirlies in effect leave the Elven army with little else to do on a distance such as theirs. They are completely helpless. Their arrows cannot poke through the Dwarves’ ranks, which makes them untouchable. The Dwarves, on the other hand, can destroy an entire Elven army from a distance, an offensive move that once was solely the possession of the Elves.
Suddenly, the Elves are not the greatest and the strongest Middle-Earth army. The Dwarves have found a way to penetrate their offense and keep themselves out of harm’s way in one move. A revelation in the art of war.
Dáin: “Oh, come on.”
Azog: “Come forth my Armies!”
The Dwarves and the Elves continue their battle in close combat in which the style of fighting of both races is clearly distinguishable: the Dwarves fight in a more pub style manner, whereas the Elves work in teams of three, saving each other’s back in fluent, flowing motions, very graceful.
Suddenly, there is a rumble beneath the earth. Both Elves, Men, and Dwarves hear a sound akin to that of an earthquake. From out of the ground appear Were-worms, something no one thought they would witness. It is, of course, known that there are Were-worms in the ground, however, in this instance, their existence has been forgotten.
The fact that they teamed up with the Orcs is regrettable and dangerous. They were used as the element of surprise that the Azog’s army needed in order to remain unseen and attack without the Elves and Men’s ability to prepare an attack of their own.
Occupation of Ravenhill
Having been preoccupied with their own disagreement and old grievances, no one had noticed the arrival of Azog on Ravenhill, not even the semafor that had been installed to help him navigate his army.
Since there are no means of communication, Azog had to find a way to strategize his army once on the battlefield. This has been achieved with these semafors whose instructions Azog’s army understands and follows.
Follow me to my next post.