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Hidden In Plain Sight

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Bilbo stroked the fur in front of him, soft and gentle lips nipping at his fingers. He smiled, feeding the pony another flower, basking in the quiet contentment only those beings who lived in the now could ever truly experience.

“Burglar!” The order was harsh, commanding, the owner of the voice so restless and impatient it was a constant cloud of irritation, even with this sweet animal as a buffer.

Bilbo closed his eyes, allowed himself another moment of doubt. But no, he had made his choice. He would not abandon it.

He walked towards where the dwarves had gathered, a buzzing mixture of annoyance, bewilderment and embarrassment flying from them. Bilbo halted next to Balin, who was not so much annoyed as he felt curious while looking down a map.

It was a map of the Shire and it's boundaries. Very clear. Very detailed.

It was completely useless.

“Can I help you with something, master Thorin?” Bilbo asked, mild and polite and only taking a little pleasure in their stumbling around.

The dwarf turned eyes made of flint towards him, scowling harshly and sending out so many signals of displeasure and sheer irritation Bilbo was glad he was already well into his second century. Had he been younger the strength of this dwarfs emotions would've easily overwhelmed his own.

Thorin sneered, his emotions gaining a razor edge.

“Confound it all, get us out of this Mahal cursed forest!”

Bilbo widened his eyes, just a fraction, amplified by a touch of projected innocence.

“I thought you had no need of my aid. In fact master Thorin, I distinctively remember you saying there was no possible way you would ever need help finding your way out of this soft land full of fields and food.”

It was indeed true that the Shire itself was very simple to navigate, almost impossible to get lost in. Though Thorin had somehow managed it.

But the forest that surrounded it? The labyrinthine trees and twisting paths that curved and coiled and spiraled into an infinite loop? No, his home's defenses would not be so easily broken. Not by dwarves.

“I did advice you to accept his help, Thorin Oakenshield.” Gandalf said, sending a bright twinkle of deep amusement through the air as he puffed his pipe, the wizard having sat down after the dwarves had stopped to have yet another argument about which way to go. “To leave the Shire without a hobbit's aid is a feat almost none can claim to have accomplished.” Not even me. The thought was accompanied by a vibration of pleasure, the wizard as always finding comfort in the knowledge of why that was.

Bilbo was not particularly talented at picking up the bio-electrical signals of sentient creatures, but Maiar were so loud he believed even Old Brandybuck, who'd become as nervedumb as a rock in his last few years, could've picked up a surface thought or two.

Thorin's fury spiked and he scoffed, making Bilbo resist the urge to bring up his hand and wave some cool air towards himself. The heat was only mental.

“So it seems.” he bit out, so sharp it even made the others quiet down, their confusion, grumblings and mutters fading into tense silence. Bilbo was getting a headache.

The dwarf turned towards him, his eyes now even colder then they'd been before, the anger just as great. Get on with it. Bilbo would've been able to catch that thought simply by looking at this bundle of fury's body language.

So he raised a brow back and projected an aura of mild curiosity. Truly, Thorin was supposed to be a king of his people? If this was a plea for help Bilbo was afraid to see what the dwarf would do if he actually tried insulting people.

The silence stretched, tension beginning to buzz higher the longer it went on.

Thorin grit his teeth, annoyance spiking. Bilbo felt the dwarf push down some very violent impulses. Honestly, he did not understand why so many other beings felt the need to hurt one another. To kill one another. When they could not even resurrect their dead. Utter madness.

The dwarf eventually managed to suppress his aggressive desires. A little.

“Show us the way out of here, burglar.”

Bilbo supposed that was the best he was going to get.

He hummed, walked back towards his pony and did find some amusement in the ever rising irritation he felt behind him. Thorin possessed a remarkable depth of emotion. For some of them at least.

“He's a cheeky one, isn't he?” he heard Bofur comment, the only one still flickering with merriment.

Biblo ignored him and send out a greeting towards the pony. She was only mildly interested in his approach, but allowed herself to be led after Bilbo got on. He guided her towards the group and looked down at the dwarves still standing there.

“I will have to lead I'm afraid, there truly isn't any other way for you to get out of here. Do try to keep close enough, it would be very easy to lose one of you. After all, I am only one hobbit.”

With a last thunderous spike and murderous look, Thorin turned his back and "regally" stomped over towards a pony who grew nervous and agitated at his harsh approach. The poor thing. Biblo send him some reassurance and comfort. The remaining dwarves all went towards the other animals as well. When everyone was finally seated, Bilbo asked his pony to go forwards and the others fell in line behind him.

“I had heard of the hobbit's strange magic, but had never imagined it to be this strong.” Balin said to Gandalf, that same pure curiosity still shining through.

“It is old and ancient sorcery. Even I do not truly understand how they are able to accomplish these spells.” The wizard answered, cheerful and unashamedly lying. Bilbo snorted quietly.

If by sorcery the Mayan meant the trees grown by manipulating the quantum entanglements inside each separate nucleus, then yes, it was "magic". The final results were trees nearly no different then those naturally grown, except for the fact that they possessed a slight electrical output. Just enough to change some of the neurological impulses send to the cerebellum, scrambling perception, making the brains of most sentient beings send out signals that made you walk into circles again and again.

Without being able to control your own neurological signals, it was impossible to avoid the effect. A very simple but useful way to stay hidden. Primitive, but still effective.

There were other defenses of course. But those were not meant for the young races of Middle Earth. Not meant for this world at all.

Bilbo's people had been hiding on this planet for a long time.