“Could you perhaps not do that?” Ori asked Fíli nervously as Fíli took a branch from the fire to use as a torch.
“Why not?” Fíli asked.
“You might start a forest fire. Lighting torches is my responsibility as the fire safety officer nominated by the Company. Please, put that branch back into the fire.”
Fíli shrugged and did as Ori told him to.
“That’s dangerous!” Ori yelled, darting towards where Bombur was using rum to flambé some thin pancakes.
“It’s a waste of good rum, mostly,” Bofur said.
The smell of singed hair wafted across the camp. Bombur quickly extinguished his eyebrows with a cup of water.
“No harm done,” he grinned at Ori.
“I don’t care about your eyebrows, but you could set the forest on fire and then we’ll all go the way of your eyebrows!”
“Well, it tastes better this way,” Bombur replied. “Who wants crêpe smaugette?”
Ori crossed his arms and only ate dry bread.
“Would. You. Not. Do. That.” Ori said, stomping out the cinders Dwalin had dumped from his pipe into the dry grass.
“Do you know why the clause of a fire safety officer was added to the contracts?” Dwalin asked him.
“Because fire safety is of uttermost importance,” Ori replied. “Which is why all of you ought to start listening to me.”
“Gandalf insisted it be added to the contract,” Dwalin said. “Relax, lad.”
“What are you trying to say?” Ori asked. “That my task is not important?!”
Dwalin looked away. “Of course I’m not saying that, just....”
“Well, then you all ought to start following the basic rules of fire safety. It’s not that complicated.” Ori stomped off.
“You need to make sure the fire stays inside the fire pit. Forest fires are not to be taken lightly!”
“Don’t worry, I’ve done this thousands of times and never once has anything gone wrong,” Glóin grumbled.
Ori didn’t miss Óin’s raised eyebrow, but before he could say anything, a patch of dry grass caught fire.
Ori grabbed the nearest pint of beer and upended it over the burning grass. The fire went out with an angry hiss.
“Hey, that was my beer,” Nori complained. “Use your own next time. You are taking all of this much too seriously anyway.”
“I am not! I prevented a forest fire from breaking out!”
“This isn’t even a forest,” Nori pointed out, “just a stretch of dry grass.”
“That doesn’t make it any better!” Ori retorted. “It could have gone up in flames all the same!”
“Let the lad do his job,” Dwalin said.
Ori glared at him. Some support was nice, but not when it was done in such an indulgent tone.
The next day, they made camp on the bank of a river. The weather had taken a turn for the worse that morning and the dripping of water from the leaves of the trees had most of them putting up their hoods. That was when Ori spotted Thorin lighting up his pipe.
Seething, he marched up to Thorin, still livid from the Company’s reaction the previous evening.
“Put that out at once.”
Thorin looked up at him, a raindrop splashing onto his nose. “But...”
“I said put. It. Out,” Ori said, drawing himself to his full height.
“But the rain...”
“No more buts! I am sick and tired of all of you ignoring me and looking down upon my job! I don’t care if I was only nominated because you thought I wouldn’t get it done anyway, you appointed me as the fire safety officer so you will let me do my job and listen to me! There is to be no fire unless I allow it!”
Thorin slowly extinguished his pipe, careful not to make any sudden movements.
“Good.” Ori looked at the others, who had all gathered round to watch. “Have all of you understood that as well?”
They nodded as well, slightly wide-eyed.
“Alright then. Make a fire pit bordered with stones and no plants for three feet around that.”
The Company sprang into motion.