With little else to do, the dwarves spend most of their time organizing the treasure, and Thorin asks them all to look for the Arkenstone. He also warns them that anyone who might withhold the stone would meet with his vengeance. This worries Bilbo, who has it hidden in a bundle he uses for a pillow, but he does not give it up because he has a plan forming. The ravens bring news of Dain, saying he is within just a couple days’ march from Dale. Roac the raven leader wants Thorin to give up some of the treasure so that a battle might be avoided and the dwarves can make friends for the harsh winter to come. Thorin remains stubborn, however, and says the winter will bother the men and elves as well.
Bilbo one evening makes up his mind and grabs the Arkenstone and some rope from his bundle. He goes to the wall at the front gate, currently guarded by a grumpy Bombur, and offers to keep watch so Bombur can be warm. Bilbo claims he will not be able to sleep anyway, so Bombur accepts. Once Bombur is gone however, Bilbo slips on his ring and climbs over the wall. While crossing the stream, Bilbo falls in and alarms the elves watching. They think it just might be the dwarves’ weird servant, so Bilbo pulls off the ring and pops out from behind a rock. He asks to speak to Bard and to warm up by a fire. Bilbo gets to speak to both Bard and the elven king, and tells them that he is tired of the siege but knows that Thorin would rather sit on his treasure and die then share it. Bilbo also shows them his letter from Thorin that entitles him to a share of the profits, but points out that those profits in his case could come after the share with Bard. He also reminds the two that winter will be hard on everyone, and shares the news of Dain’s imminent coming. They suspect Bilbo is either a traitor or warning them, but Bilbo tells them that he only wants a peaceful conclusion to the whole business. At this point, he produces the Arkenstone, and loathe to hand it off, gives it to Bard to help in their bargaining. He tells them that it is the heart of the Mountain and the heart of Thorin, so it will be a great tool to them.
The king and Bard try to get Bilbo to stay with them, fearing the dwarves will punish him once they know he has taken the stone. Bilbo will not leave his friends, and must stay loyal to them after so many adventures. They provide him an escort, and as they walk through the camp an old man pops out of a tent, saying, “Well done, Mr. Baggins! There is always more about you then anyone expects!” It was of course Gandalf, who also warns Bilbo that hard times are coming, and that there are things even the ravens have not heard. Without time for further questions, Bilbo’s escort gets him across the stream still dry, and he climbs over the front gate wall, hiding the rope. At midnight he wakes Bombur and goes to sleep easily, dreaming of eggs and bacon.
Trumpets sound early in the camp the next day, and a messenger comes to Thorin asking for another meeting, saying that things had changed. Thorin believes Dain is close at hand, and reminds the messenger that they must come unarmed. A small number come at midday, bearing the arms of both the woods and the lake, with the elven king, Bard, and an old man bearing an iron casket at the head. Bard asks if Thorin has changed his mind, to which Thorin replies that nothing would change his mind in just a few days. Thorin is also angry the elves are still present, and states again that he will not negotiate while they remain. Bard asks if anything will tempt him to yield some of the gold, and when Thorin responds negatively, Bard reveals he has the Arkenstone. The old man holds the stone aloft in the iron casket for Thorin to clearly see. Thorin is angry and will not buy back something that is rightfully his own, but wonders how the thieves got it in the first place. That is when Bilbo squeaks that he took it and gave it to them. Thorin grabs the hobbit with both hands, shakes him, and threatens to throw him over the wall. Thorin wishes Gandalf were here to see the treachery. The old man throws back his cloak and reveals that he is Gandalf and asks Thorin to not harm the hobbit.
Thorin vows to never trust a wizard or his friends, but listens to Bilbo’s explanation. Bilbo tells Thorin that he may have taken the promise of one fourteenth share a bit too literally, but he had claimed the Arkenstone as his reward. He reminds Thorin of the services he had paid him, and asks Thorin think that he disposed of his share as he wished. Thorin then states he will give gold and silver, Bilbo’s share, in return for the Arkenstone, and they can divide it how they wish. Thorin tells the men and elves to take the hobbit and that no manner of friendship will go with him. He promises the gold and silver later, and Bard states they will hold onto the stone until they have been paid. Gandalf warns him that he is behaving terribly as King under the Mountain, but may change that yet. Thorin actually hopes that he can contrive to recover the Arkenstone with Dain’s help and not have to part with any gold.
Bilbo bids them farewell, wishing to Thorin that they can be friends one day again. Thorin only responds by telling him to make haste, saying that Bilbo is too good for the mail he wears, and he would shoot arrows at Bilbo’s feet if he does not move. Bard will return at noon the next day for Bilbo’s share, and the elf-host will return to the forest if the share is fair. Thorin then sends Roac with a message to Dain of what had passed and asks him to hurry his walk.
Dain and his men arrive the next morning, marching towards Dale. Runners sound the alarm. Dain and his army are stronger even then normal dwarves, wear long mail and even mail pants of their own design, and carry mattocks, swords, and shields. The elves and men arm themselves, going out to meet the dwarves. The men laid down their arms, and Bard and Bilbo go out to meet them. The dwarves’ spokesman tells Bard that they have come to help the restored king, asking why they sit as enemies before defended walls, that they have no business there. Bard will not let them pass straight on to the mountain, knowing that their carried supplies and sheer numbers mean the men will never get the gold from Thorin. Instead, he sends messengers to the front gate, but they are shot at once they are in range. Bard says that they can still win the war with spies hidden in the hills, ready to shoot at the dwarves from above, but the elven king wishes for a peaceful resolution. He asks Bard to wait and just continue to bar Dain’s passing.
While the elven king and Bard debate, the dwarves begin their attack, their hearts set on the Arkenstone. But a dark cloud descend upon them, and another cloud comes made of flying creatures. Gandalf jumps in between the battle, his staff setting a flash like lightning. He tells them that the goblins are coming led by Bolg, son of Azog who Dain defeated in Moria. The cloud is the bats that ride before them, and the goblins will ride on wolves and have Wargs in their midst. Gandalf tells them that there is still time for a council, if they hurry.
So begins the Battle of Five Armies, with goblins and wild wolves on one side, and the dwarves, elves, and men on the other. The killing of the Great Goblin in the Misty Mountains made the goblins hate the dwarves more than ever, so they communicated between cities until they amassed weapons and an army and vowed to take the North. When news of Smaug’s death reached them, they hastened around the woods towards the Mountain. Gandalf gathers with the elf-king, Bard, and Dain, and they make a plan to set the battle around the Mountain, hoping to lure the goblins in and trap them. Their plan works, but the number of Goblins is great. Bilbo slips his ring on in the beginning of the battle and is safe from most danger. The elves charge first, then pull back in time for the dwarves and men to come out screaming from the side, with the elves joining in once again. The battle seems almost won when they notice many goblins had climbed the mountain. Thorin and his dwarves break down the wall, dodging rocks from above hurled by goblins, and call fighters to him. There in gleaming armor and Thorin with his axe, they strike hard against the goblins. Bodies pile high in Dale, most of them goblins, and though they surround the goblins, they cannot break into the ranks. Bilbo, having chosen to stay near the elves, worries that the fighting will end with the goblins winning and them getting the treasure. He would rather old Smaug had lived and kept it then to have the goblins get it and have bad things happen to his friends.
It is when all seems lost that Bilbo notices the eagles on the horizon. He screams of their coming and the elves quickly take up the cry. He feels hope again, but a rock hits him on the head, knocking him out.
- I still can’t believe how brave Bilbo is handing over the Arkenstone. And how much restraint Thorin shows in not actually killing him.
- How surprising is it that the elven-king wants to delay battle, especially since he has no love of dwarves?
- How does no one remember to help Thorin once the goblins come?
- Another section of The Hobbit where A TON happens in less than 20 pages.