(Written for the 2014 Fifth Anniversary Comment Round Robin.)
Contributing Authors: KathyG, Dreamflower, Larner
Title: Dream Feast
Editor's Notes: The story was slightly edited to blend the parts better, correct mistakes, and to clarify the chronology.
Summary: What happened to Bombur after his fall into the Enchanted River?
Word Count: 1,617
Bombur strolled alone through the woodland, guided by the torches along the way, as well as the brightly lit lanterns that swung from the lower branches of the tall and shapely trees. He could hear pleasant songs not far in the distance, and the air was redolent with the aroma of enticing food. Soon he found himself in a large clearing filled with Elves, all crowned with garlands of leaves. There at the center was the King of them all, his crown of golden leaves glowing in the light of a bonfire, his countenance fair. He looked up and smiled delightedly at Bombur. "Ah, my dear friend, Bombur!" He gestured with a goblet and held up the roasted leg of a pheasant, "Do come and join us at our feast!"
Delighted, Bombur squatted next to the King and took the leg of pheasant. "Bombur, at your service!" he said, before taking a huge bite of the pheasant leg. "Delicious!"
After finishing the roasted pheasant leg off, he accepted a goblet from another Elf and took a gulp of what turned out to be some kind of frothy wine-based drink. He drank the entire goblet, and then helped himself to some stuffed eggs and a serving of a savoury custard pie. While he was eating, some of the Elves sat around the campfire, singing merry songs.
"I am so hungry," he said, "and this is all so delicious!"
The food continued to be passed around the circle. Bombur looked into his goblet, and was surprised to discover it was still full. He was sure that he had finished it off earlier. Oh, well!
Another platter came around, this one filled with fruit and white cakes. He helped himself to some lovely cherries and strawberries as well as a couple of the cakes. How interesting! He wondered how the Elves had come upon cherries and strawberries ripe at this time of year? Perhaps they had a glass house handy or something of the sort.
The music grew louder, and many of the Elves stood to dance. Bombur grinned and used the cake in one hand to keep time to the music. The Elven-king was smiling and clapping.
Suddenly he had the oddest sensation of someone holding on to his arms and feet. It was only the briefest of feelings, and then passed away, but not before he heard a faint voice. "He's not getting any lighter, is he?" Was that Bofur? Was Bofur here? He saw no sign of him anywhere.
But just then a lovely Elven-maid came and urged him to join the dance.
With a smile, Bombur scrambled to his feet and bowed to her. "Bombur, at your service," he said again, and started dancing with her. To his amazement, he displayed a grace and agility that he had never exhibited before. Furthermore, dancing did not quickly tire him as it normally would.
When the dwarf and elf stopped, Bombur turned around to face the food that was spread out on the ground. "Let's see," he muttered. "I see my favorite food here!" Smiling broadly, he plopped back on the ground and gazed down at his favorite dish.
As he dug into the venison pie with relish, he felt a strange jolt, as if he had fallen onto hard ground--which was peculiar, since he was already sitting upon the ground! Then he once more heard faint voices.
"This is ridiculous! Why doesn't he wake up?" That sounded like his cousin Bifur.
"I've half a notion just to leave him," Bofur replied crossly.
"You don't really mean that," said the light voice of the hobbit.
"No, no I don't, Master Baggins; he's my brother, after all," and Bofur gave a weary sigh.
Bombur stared around the glade. There were Elves everywhere, and not another Dwarf to be seen, much less a hobbit. The voices had been quite faint. Perhaps the others were still in the woods just beyond. He should go look for them to come join this splendid feast. He started to rise and do so, when the Elven-king reached over to pour more wine into his cup.
"This is Dorwinion wine, Bombur," he said in his pleasant voice. "I am sure you have never tasted such a fine vintage before!"
Bombur took a sip of the wine, which coursed through his veins and made his head spin. What had he been thinking a moment ago? He could not recall...
When a maiden held out a grape, Bombur opened his mouth greedily and smiled at her as she fed him from her shapely fingers. I could get well used to this! the fat Dwarf thought as he chewed and swallowed and then opened his mouth to take still another piece of fruit from her. If only the maidens of the Blue Mountains were half as accommodating!
"At least," someone in the distance said, "we don't have to hear him grousing about the lack of provisions."
Although why anyone would be worried about lack of provisions Bombur could not imagine. "Another poultry leg? Of course!" he responded to the Elf who offered a platter of such viands to him. Just to make certain he's not be deprived, Bombur took three.
As Bombur finished the third poultry leg, he heard a voice asking, "Is he ever going to wake up?"
Who? Bombur silently wondered, as a sudden heaviness descended on him. The elves, the campfire, and the food all disappeared from his view. The next thing he knew, he was feeling hard ground beneath his back. He opened his eyes.
The elves were gone. The campfire was gone. And, most disturbing of all, the food was gone. Instead, he saw the faces of thirteen dwarves overhead, surrounding Bombur, gazing down at him.
"He's awake!" Ori cried. "Bombur's awake at last!"
"About time," Thorin grumbled.
"Awake, you said?" Bilbo squeezed his way into the assembled circle of dwarves kneeling over Bombur. Relief etched his face. "Thank goodness!"
His eyes wrinkled in disbelief, Bilbo pushed himself upward into a sitting position and sat scratching his head for a few minutes, as he gazed first at his comrades and then at the thick, dark forest surrounding them. His stomach, which felt empty, growled. "Where are we?" he asked. "What is this place?" He gazed down at his fat stomach. "And why am I so hungry?"
"Don't you remember where we are?" Bifur asked.
Bombur sat for a moment, thinking. Nothing about their journey came back to him. "The last thing I remember is being at Bilbo's hole. That party we had there." He shook his head. "I don't remember anything after that!"
He gazed desperately at the other dwarves. "Right now, though, I'm hungry. I could use something to eat!"
At the expressions of sorrow that the other dwarves and Bilbo exchanged, Bombur grew worried. "Come on, I'm hungry!" he cried, as he scrambled to his feet. The other dwarves stood up with him. He felt weak and his legs felt wobbly, so he leaned on Bofur for support. "I don't know when last I ate! Please give me something to eat!"
Thorin leaned forward. "I wish we could, Bombur," he said gently, "but there is no more food. We ate the very last of our store last night. You're not the only one who's hungry now."
Horror surged up in Bombur's gut; he sank back down on the hard ground and began to weep. "Why did I ever wake up?!" he cried out, weeping. "I was having such beautiful dreams! I dreamed I was walking in a forest rather like this one, only lit with torches on the trees and lamps swinging from the branches and fires burning on the ground; and there was a great feast going on, going on forever. A woodland king was there with a crown of leaves, and there was a merry singing, and I could not count or describe the things there were to eat or drink." He shook his head bitterly at the memory, wiping the tears from his face.
Thorin shook his head. "You need not try," he advised. "In fact, if you can't talk about something else, you had better be silent. We are quite annoyed enough with you as it is. If you hadn't waked up, we should have left you to your idiotic dreams in the forest; you are no joke to carry even after weeks of short commons."
"Weeks!" Bombur moaned. "We've been here for weeks?!" He scanned the forest surrounding them. "And where is 'here'?"
"This is Mirkwood," Oin told him. "We've been to Rivendell and through the Misty Mountains. Once we get through Mirkwood--if we ever get through Mirkwood--" He grimaced. "we'll be near our destination at last."
"And where's Gandalf?" Bombur scanned the forest again, looking for the grey-clad wizard.
"He left us on the border of Mirkwood," Thorin grumbled. "Said he had pressing business south. So we're on our own now, Bombur. We're just going to have to tighten our belts, all of us, and do the best we can in this accursed forest. There is nothing fit to eat or drink in Mirkwood."