The first obstacle passed. And not a small obstacle either. The mere fact of their possible death by Trolls’ digestive tract would send chills down the spine of anyone who can even imagine such an end. What saved them, in the end, was Bilbo’s quick thinking and diversion tactic, as well as Gandalf arriving precisely when he meant to.
The retunr of Gandalf
Thorin: “Where did you go to, if I may ask?”
Gandalf: “To look ahead.”
Thorin: “What brought you back?”
Gandalf: “Looking behind.”
Gandalf was furious as he stormed off from the group after an argument with Thorin. However, as Gandalf calmed and probably found a way to bring the Dwarves to Rivendell without them knowing, he returned to steer the group in his desired direction. Naturally, he was keeping this information to himself. Thorin is thankful for his return as well as his rescue mission. He now knows that no matter how high the tension between them rises, he can count on Gandalf’s help in the darkest of moments.
Additionally, the urgency and the love Gandalf has for this quest and for the Dwarves begged him to reconsider his return. Two egos, or rather one rational and objective mind and one huge ego, cannot and should not decide the fate of the quest. Its completion is more important than some silly feud.
Gandalf: “Nasty business. Still they’re all in one piece.”
Thorin: “No thanks to your burglar.”
Gandalf: “He had the nous to play for time. None of the rest of you thought of that.”
With a little head nod of guilt and embarrassment, Thorin admits to the helpful addition to the group that Bilbo was rapidly becoming. If it weren’t for him, all twelve of them would have already been roasted and eaten. The quest was just a Hobbit away from failing.
The moving Trolls
Gandalf: “They must have come down from the Ettenmoors.”
Thorin: “Since when do Mountain Trolls venture this far south?”
Gandalf: “Ooh. Not for an age. Not since a darker power ruled these lands. They could not have moved in daylight.”
Thorin: “There must be a cave nearby.”
It is an odd coincidence to encounter those particular Trolls in the forest below their natural habitat. Something must have forced them to relocate and search for sustenance somewhere else. Gandalf’s rational reasoning behind their move south was more on the point than he initially thought. Although it may just be a coincidence and those three Trolls were somehow an aberration from the norm, the mere mention of a dark power ruling the lands, engulfs him in fear.
No one wants to relive those days again. He may not make much out of this one occasion but soon, his reasoning will be proven to be truthful and alarming. Thorin’s conclusion leads the entire company to a Troll-hoard.
Swords and coins
Nori: “Oh, what’s that stench?”
Gandalf: “It’s a Troll-hoard. Be careful what you touch.”
Bofur: “Seems a shame just to leave it lying around. Anyone could take it.”
Glóin: “Agreed. Nori.”
Glóin: “Get a shovel.”
With regards to the Trolls’ ability to collect treasure and coins, the Dwarves respectfully decide to save it for themselves. It could have been someone completely different who could have walked into that cave and taken it all for themselves, and they probably would have. Therefore, why should Dwarves be denied that privilege? After all, they were the ones who came across it. So, first come, first served. Glóin, also the treasurer of the group, decides to help their flailing financial situation, and together with Bofur and Nori, finds a way to stash it for later use.
The blades of Gondolin
Thorin: “These swords were not made by any Troll.”
Gandalf: “Nor were they made by any smith among Men. These were forged in Gondolin by the High Elves of the First Age. You could not wish for a finer blade.”
Interestingly, the Trolls also have a knack for fine blades. With their size and capabilities, they don’t need any weapons to overcome an enemy, so these swords must be there as part of a collection, one that modern people would have at their houses as a means of displaying their good tastes to the world. The Trolls appear to be art collectors, an interesting quality in a Half-wit. It is a quality they share with Bilbo. He too praises and guards his possessions from being tarnished by others. Very interesting.
Thorin has a specific taste when it comes to swords. One rule applies, everything is fair game, except for Elvish blades. Sadly, those are the finest there are in Middle-Earth. However, due to his unrelenting grudge against the Elves, he is unable to see the value that sprawls before him. Thankfully, Gandalf knocks sense into him. They all need better protection from any approaching danger, so why not have a weapon guaranteed to inflict the deadliest blows to anyone in sight? Why not use the blades forged by the great masters themselves?
Thorin swallows his pride, takes the Orcrist out of the sheath, and sees precisely what Gandalf was raving about. Without an argument, he takes the sword for himself, as does Gandalf. And he takes one other with him.
Bofur: “Set it down.”
Glóin: “That’s good.”
Bofur: “All right, come on. Quick.”
Glóin: “We’re making a long-term deposit.”
Thorin: “Let’s get out of this foul place. Come on, let’s go. Bofur, Glóin, Nori.”
After making a deposit in the ground, and taking what they might need for themselves, the revolting stench and creepy disposition of the cave itself, urges the Dwarves to take their leave. There is nothing more for them there, everything they need they either took or buried.
Gandalf: “Here. This is about your size.”
Bilbo: “I can’t take this.”
Gandalf: “The blade is of Elvish make which means it will glow blue when Orcs or Goblins are nearby.”
Bilbo: “I have never used a sword in my life.”
Gandalf: “And I hope you never have to. But if you do, remember this: true courage is about knowing not when to take a life but when to spare one.”
While others took to the treasures in the cave as fish to water, Bilbo held back. Though smelly and incredibly dangerous, Bilbo did not see a reason for him to take anything from their hoard. It is their private space, their temporary home. And Bilbo certainly knows what precious gift that is for any creature. To vandalize it in this manner is not in his genetic code. He does not steal nor does he borrow.
So for Gandalf to present him with a sword found in the cave, alarms Bilbo to the fact that this does not belong to either him or Gandalf. Most frightening of all, it is a weapon used to injure or kill, something Bilbo has never done before. This automatically drives him to decline the sword.
Offense vs defense
Under his breath, Bilbo admits to never having used such a thing, a sentence he did not want the Dwarves to hear. He does not play the hero nor does he want the company to know just how unable to protect himself he really is.
Gandalf’s advice is one that will stay with Bilbo until his life is threatened by the most unlikely of creatures. Until then he would be using the sword for his protection, the best he can. It comes more naturally to Bilbo to understand the reasoning behind a weapon when a wise Wizard explains what the duty of his bearer is.
To kill mercilessly everything that might become a threat is to exert insecurity, fear, and the need for dominance, something the dark power that ruled the lands knows a lot about. For the common folk, the only use of a sword is its defensive capabilities when wielded in the proper manner. This will all come to Bilbo, once the circumstances bring him to his fight instinct mode.
Follow me to my next post.