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piosenniel 11-03-2008 09:27 PM

Tears of Mirrormere RPG
From the quill of loremaster Drok . . .

Here in lies the tale of the realm of Khazad-dűm, and the dwarves, who with Balin, son of Fundin, set out on a quest to drive the Orcs out of their ancient colony in hopes of restoring the colony to its former glory. Before it became a place of dread and the Eldar renamed it Moria: The Black Chasm. The tale that you are about to read is about the final days of Balin's glorious re-conquering of Khazad-dűm and of the brave Dwarves who travelled with him. Among these most notable of dwarves were Oin, brother of Gloin, and Ori, the scribe of the company and Balin’s good friend. Many years before Oin and Ori had travelled with Balin on Thorin Oakenshield’s quest for Erebor. The bold quest has also been answered by the call of many warriors: Loni and Nali, brothers, who were also joined by Frar and Floi, fabled for their skill with the axe and bow. The mightiest of those to answer the call was Tror, lieutenant to Balin on the quest. Many other followers came with Balin, but there number is too numerable to be listed here with due respect, and the heart could not bear the pain to recant what has become of them, but let us not be getting ahead of ourselves.

Let me start at the beginning. My name is Drok, a lore master and once scribe of King Dain. I have been charged with telling you this tale to preserve the memory of my kinsman. This tale took place many decades ago when I was young, a mere scribe in the service of the king. It was many years ago that Balin called together the high council of Erebor, he would not reveal the intent of the meeting but insisted that the it was of the highest importance and that the King call for one to convene at the earliest time possible. So it was late at night, deep under the roof of the mountain that Balin revealed a plan of magnanimous proportions: to conquer, nay, take back the city of Khazad-dűm that Men call Dwarrowdelf and the Elves, Moria. King Dain met Balin’s plan with dismay and pronounced that it cannot be, though the entire council was against him. Through many arguments and rash words Dain reasoned with the nobles and won most of them back on his side, but when the King saw that Balin's will was still adamant, he pleaded with his friend to forget the futile idea. It is worth noting at this moment that it was he, Dain II Ironfoot, who long ago had fought in the great battle of Azanulbizar on the very threshold of Khazad-dűm, and dared to look past the gate into the ancient realm. King Dain had long ago prophesized that another power, greater than the dwarves, would have to come before Durin’s Folk could again settle in the halls of their fathers. However, Balin was unmoved by the king’s words and insisted that it could be done and the threat that had loomed there before had long been gone. Such passion was aroused in the in some of the nobles that Dain dared not hinder them lest the gap between them grow wider. Thus it was that Balin set out from Erebor with a mighty company of dwarves all bound for Khazad-dűm, but without King Dain’s blessing. The king grieved for the departure of his friend, knowing that the quest could not meet any other destiny but ruin.

It was after many days and nights of traveling they came within sight of the hallowed mountains, in ages long past their ancestors had called home. Thus it was that the host came to the Eastern gate, surprised and slew the Orc garrison gathered there. The dwarves rushed into their new home with hopes and anger running high. They swarmed over The Bridge of Khazad-dűm before the Orcs could gather in sufficient numbers to repel them and fought their way, through the First and Second Halls, to the Twenty-First Hall where a great melee ensued. Floi fell in the battle, but so great was the fury and might of the dwarves at his death that no Orc opposed them for long. It was lastly the Goblin Chief sprang from his lair in a desperate attempt to drive Balin out or kill him in the attempt, but Balin proved the better fighter, he was on sacred ground and nothing would drive him from it. So it was that Balin slew the great Goblin Chieftain and a great rout began to take place as the Orcs tried to scatter, no Orc ever dared enter Khazad-dűm again for five years.

It was after this victory that Balin found the Axe and Helm of Durin cast aside in some heap of rubble, discarded by the Orcs in fear of its memory. The relics were handled with the greatest of reverence, steel of the helm was undimmed and the blades of the axe were still sharp, and Balin claimed these for his own. A throne was erected in the Chamber of Mazarbul and it was with the greatest joy that the dwarves proclaimed Balin their King, Uzbad Khazaddűmu, lord of Khazad-dűm!

Balin’s people went to work in the following years repairing the evil wrought by the Orcs. Many chambers and halls were explored and the mines were once again being worked in. The halls of Khazad-dűm shone again with a brilliant light and the grander of days long past had been restored. There it was that delver mined and the mason built, weapons were made and gems were uncovered; but of the greatest of all these delights was the true substance for which Khazad-dűm was known for: Mithril, true silver was once again uncovered.

For years there was great prosperity, the miner worked with joy, the graver renewed the faded words and symbols upon the pillars and gates, and the smith made many weapons of great quality. Many expeditions were sent to explore farther and the dwarves mined in deep shafts that were long forgotten. Thus it was that Oin, son of Groin, made plans with Balin to set out from the Twenty- First hall in search of the armories of the Third Deep. It was not until many weeks later that Oin returned with new that he had driven the last remaining remnant of the Orcs from Khazad-dűm, and he returned with scores of weapons and armour from the armouries of the Third Deep.

It was on November the 10th, in the year 2994 of the Third Age that Balin ushered forth from Khazad-dűm, accompanied by his closest companions, to look upon Kheled-zâram, that Men call Mirrormere, a lake at the mouth of Azanulbizar, the Dimrill Dale. It was at this lake that Durin the Deathless the Father of Durin’s People, looked into the water of Kheled-zâram and saw a crown of stars above his head, and it was he who founded the great city of Khazad-dűm.

It had been nearly five years since the dwarves drove the Orcs out of the halls. Everything was as it was in the days of Durin, but it would be short lived. The Orcs of the Misty Mountains had been stirred by rumors of wealth that the dwarves had accumulated during their stay; an army had been mustered and was marching on the Eastern gate that very day. Yet something far more fearful had been aroused in the depths of Khazad-dűm’s mines, Durin’s Bane was aroused and his anger was great.

May it please you gentle reader to hear now the recounting of Balin, son of Fundin, and the brave dwarves who accompanied him. Draw closer to my fire and harken to the tale of my kinsman and how they gave their last full measure of courage in the halls of Khazad-dűm.

~ Groin Redbeard

Thinlómien 11-24-2008 04:19 PM

It was Durin's Day and the sun was slowly descending in the sky. Its light was almost as cold as the ascending moon's, and neither of them could light the surface of the waters of Lake Mirrormere. It remained as dark as always, absorbing all light to its unknown depths.

There was no wind, but still a shiver ran through Ori, and he draped his cloak, grey as ever, more tightly around himself.

”Better to go soon, my friend,” he said to the white-bearded dwarf beside him.

The other man nodded, but the usual warmth in his eyes had been replaced by a slight uncertainity. Then he took a deep breath and closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, the fire had returned and his companions could recall that it was indeed the Lord of Khazad-dűm that was standing in front of them.

”I will go now, and I will go alone,” Balin said, raising his hand to silence the protests of his young second-in-command, Trór. ”For long I have known it is today that I have to look into the depths of Mirrormere and I also know I am to do it alone. And I have already explained that to you. You, my friends, may stay here and guard my back, if it pleases you.”

He added a small, comforting smile to the few trusted ones he had allowed to accompany him this far. Their faces remained serious, only Ori who had shared innumerable perils with Balin was able to return even a shadow of a smile.

Then Balin nodded, turned and started ascending the remains of what had once been one of the most beautiful streets in the realm of Dwarrowdelf. His friends watched as his figure grew smaller, but he was still close enough to be seen well even if he hadn't been wearing his majestic red cloak. They saw him reach Durin's stone, halt by the ever-loved Kheled-zâram and admire its beauty. Ori held his breath as Balin lowered himself nearer to the unmoving surface and looked in the dark water.

He seemed to stay there, still as a stone, for ages. Only the fact that the sun and the moon had not moved betrayed that only some moments had passed.

Out of the still air a light wind emerged. The grass swayed in a hypnotic dance and the always so unruffled surface of Kheled-zâram seemed to break in a small wave or two. Ori moved his weight from one leg to another. He grasped his left wrist with his right hand and moved his fingers nervously. Now, come back Balin, you've seen it... His old friend lifted his head reluctantly, as if he had heard Ori's thoughts, but did not look away from the depths.

Even there, higher up the slope, the dwarves could hear the sharp whisper of the bow and the whistle of the arrow. Balin fell without a cry. He lied unmoving on the grass beside Mirrormere, the ugly black-feathered shaft of an orc-arrow sticking from his back.

“Attack! Kill him!” Trór boomed, his voice almost breaking with grief and rage. Dwarves around Ori were clasping their weapons, crying in sorrow and fury and hurrying down to the lake. But Ori stood unmoving, numb, staring the body of his old friend and the Lord of Khazad-dűm. In the twinkling of an eye, a laugh and a wisdom forever lost, a great ambition and a shared dream shattered, the first drumrolls of doom and destruction echoing loudly in the cold autumn air...

Lilly 11-24-2008 09:59 PM

Drum beats of another sort....
‘A drumroll, please!!!!!!’

Tíva’s hands made a quick pitter-patter of beats on her thighs as her brother’s voice rang out. Tív, for his part, marched into the room a small cloth flag waving from the broom pole he held before him. Once round the room that served as his family’s kitchen he tromped, grinning from ear to ear. At the end of his circuit his sister joined him and with a flourish and a bow to each other, they secured the makeshift pennant in the middle of their mother’s barrel of dried beans.

‘What’s this?’ asked Lys as she wiped her hands on her apron and drew near the duo. The little banner was dark blue, a piece of that old raggedy wool blanket she’d consigned just a few days ago to the rag basket. And there in the middle of it was sewn a sort of round, sort of greyish circle. Another rag she recalled – Vitr’s old, torn tunic, the one he’d stained so badly on the front with oil and grit. Along the right rim of the circle was a thin sliver of sparkly crystal dust running from top to bottom, affixed with the glue from her leather-glue pot, she had no doubt.

‘Oh, mami! You know what it is!!’ Tív’s eyes danced with excitement.

‘Yes, mami! You remembered....didn’t you?’ Tíva glanced about the kitchen, a hopeful look in her eyes.

‘Remembered?’ Lys stood for a moment, her brow furrowed as if she could not fathom what the twins were going on about. Seeing their faces begin to cloud up as they considered the possibility she had indeed forgotten, she cocked a brow at them and broke into laughter. ‘Of course I did, my, make that my big beetle-bugs.’ Lys gave them each a quick kiss on the cheek.

‘It’s Durin’s Day!’ Lys pronounced, making her way back to toward the cupboards just above the long marble counter. Tív and Tíva narrowed their eyes at her, looks of expectation still on their faces.

‘And........?’ they prompted.

‘And.....’ Lys continued, opening one of the cupboard doors and removing a small platter covered with a rough-spun napkin. ‘Why it’s a very important day, now isn’t it?’ She turned round to her two children and whisked off the cloth, revealing a heaping pile of honey cookies studded with nuts and bits of dried fruits. ‘It’s your birthday!!!!!! Seven years!!!’

She meant to admonish them that they should wait ‘til their father returned from his workshop. That then they would celebrate. But who was she to say “no” to the birthday girl and boy.

‘Right, then, one each.’ She nodded at Tív. ‘And ladies first, please.

Arry 11-25-2008 02:04 AM

‘Ah, last one . . . for this day, at least!’ Vitr ran his hand over the top face of the granite block, nodding his head in approval at the smooth surface that flowed beneath his fingers. It would be but one of many of the blocks which were to line one of the cavern chambers he and the other masons had begun working on. Wiped clean of dust, polished a bit, it would reflect the lights from the filigree lamps which were to hang from the tall ceilings of the room and it would glimmer softly in the reflected light from the gems and crystals to be fitted here and there about the chamber. Tomorrow, he and others working on this project would load up the blocks they’d finished and transport them to the area in the wall where they were needed.

But for now, he was finished with his work and his thoughts turned toward home and family. The twins had no doubt been pestering their mother all this day. He was surprised, in fact, that she had not sent them to see him just to get them out of her hair. Or perhaps she had. It was not beyond them simply to take themselves off somewhere to ‘have a bit of fun’. As he dusted off his breeches and brushed off his tunic in preparation to leave he wondered from whom he might be hearing a tale of how one or the other, or more likely both, of the children had pulled some prank or misbehaved in some manner.

‘If it please you, Mahal,’ he spoke softly as he walked away from his workplace. ‘Let me not hear that they have caused some trouble somewhere.’ He chuckled a little to himself. ‘Or if they have indeed gotten into some mischief, the please let the beset upon recall the little follies of their own younger days and take it all in kind.’

Vitr entered his snug little home with a quiet step. He set the leather bag he’d brought with him on the seat of the wide oak rocker and made his way to the kitchen. ‘Smells good!’ he said appreciatively stepping into the room. The welcoming aroma of one of Lys' savory stews made his mouth water; the accompanying scent of fresh baked oat loaves set his stomach to grumbling. ‘Done soon, I hope!’ he added, giving his wife a quick peck on the cheek as she stirred the pot.

‘And what’s this? Sweets before supper?’ he rumbled in a pseudo-gruff manner as he spied Tív and Tíva munching cookies. His eyes took in the nearly empty platter on the table. ‘And more than one, eh?’

‘Oh, Papi! You know mami made more than these. She always does.’ Tív picked up the platter and held it out to his father. ‘Have one! They’re great!’ he added. Tíva came round to where Vitr stood and leaned against him. ‘It’s our birthday, you know,’ she said smiling up at him.

‘Is that so?’ Vitr said, gathering her up in his arms. ‘Well, then, there should be presents, shouldn’t there?’ he said grinning at her. He put her back down on the ground.

‘So, who wants to fetch the leather sack I left sitting on the rocker?’ He had barely finished his question when the two went streaking toward the kitchen door and were through it in a quick blur of pumping arms and legs.

Dimturiel 11-25-2008 12:02 PM

“There!” Bain exclaimed on a very pleased tone. “That’s done to!”

With that, the dwarf impatiently brushed his long hair out of his eyes to have a better look at his handiwork. His new creation was a helm on which he had been working for quite a long time. It would have taken him much less, of course, if he had not wanted to make it full of intricate patterns. Some would have said that was a useless feat, but he of course did not think so. “If you have beautiful things in your mind and if you can do beautiful things with your hands, then it would be wrong not to do them.” he would always say to any who cared to listen to him. And anyway, was he not in Moria to make beautiful things for the colony? That was the reason why he had agreed to come with Lord Balin.

“I think he’ll be very pleased when he sees this.” he muttered, holding the new-made helm lovingly in his hands. “He’ll know he had been right when asking me to come.” And to have finished it exactly on Durin’s Day too! That was surely a sign, proof of good things and prosperity coming to Moria. Oh, Lord Balin would indeed be very pleased when he found out the helm had been finished on such a day. He could not wait to tell him.

And that night, of course, he was going to celebrate with any who wished to join him. He was in a good mood, as it usually happened when he finished something. Now all he had to do what to decide what to make next. He had received orders from those of the colony, of course, but he also wanted to do something for himself, that he would make just for the sake of seeing it take shape before his eyes. Perhaps he should start working on a chain. Yes, that would be pleasant. But that could wait. Now the only thing he looked forward to was to announce that he had finished the helm he had been working for so long. He could hardly wait to see the pleased look on Lord Balin’s face when he heard that.

Legate of Amon Lanc 11-25-2008 02:01 PM

"Oh, what a master piece of craft," a voice resounded from behind Bain. Like all too often, Onli appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Standing in the doorway, wrapped in his green cloak and with this large golden belt buckle which was just impossible to overlook, he must have been watching Bain for a while now. Now he moved forth, his big brown boots making a clunking noise, and without much constraints he started to examine the newly finished helmet closely.

"Oh, what a master piece of craft," he repeated, not caring at all whether Bain approves his presence or not. "Such a be-au-ti-ful decorating! And look at this tiny... err... ha, I forgot it, memory does not serve as well as it used to. I know what it is called," he added, as if to prove that he can understand well a smith's work and thus is the right person to evaluate it. He smiled widely, showing the white teeth shining amidst the bush of his short red-colored beard. "Anyway, you sure put much effort into it. Say, perhaps it won't be bad, as soon as you have finished all the other tasks you currently have, to start making these in larger numbers?" he added in a hopeful tone. Then he set on a more educated face and started to speak fast in a mentor-like voice; like an old master talking to a young apprentice - despite he was only some fourty years older than Bain, and definitely not his mentor.

"You must imagine that once this city is fully re-occupied, there will be too many smiths to make competition for your craft. But now you are just one of the few, and this," before Bain could react in any way, he knocked on the helmet, "is going to be a very valuable piece of art in the future. An artifact from the early days of the reoccupation of Khazad-Dűm! But it will be foolish to leave it just like that. One helmet is nice, but why not make more? Since you can do it, and I can see well you can! And if we want to show King Dáin and the folk under the Mountain our progress, such a piece of craft would serve all too well for it! And just imagine how interested many of our kind will be to purchase such a thing..." Onli's eyes gleamed. "A perfect chance for a young craftsman like you to show his worth."

A loud banging sound from a nearby corridor interrupted Onli's dreams of helmet-business (which he would help to organise and distribute). He stopped, raising his wide eyebrows and shaking his head fast so that he resembled a startled red-furred squirrel. But he immediately knew what happened: it was Vriti once again sneaking around in the corners, looking for something to eat or to play with, or who knows what was it that she was doing. Onli smiled. Despite his mind was on business just a moment ago, and you could say that was the only thing that might interest him, he completely forgot about it now. Just for a short moment, though. But Vriti was his only real friend, or that was what Onli would have told you had you asked him. He knew he should go to catch her and feed her, for he was sure she did not find much to eat in the empty corridors of Dwarrowdelf.

Onli turned back to Bain. "Think about it, my good friend," he said, giving the young Dwarf an encouraging look and walked away, as if he did not even expect Bain to reply.

Groin Redbeard 11-25-2008 05:34 PM

As Balin ascended the slope the band of nobles began to look about uneasily. Although Tror was accustomed to fighting and to travel in the open it was not a prospect that thrilled him, he would rather get back to the safety of the great halls of the Dwarrowdelf. Ori was looking uneasy; Nali was gazing on with interest at the sky for the sun and moon would soon cross each other’s path, casting a cold shadow across the earth. Tror looked back to the eastern gate from which they ushered forth longing to get his lord back into the safety of its walls, why was Balin taking so long?

The dull twang of the bow string was heard, and it sent a shot of terror up Tor’s spine. Without thinking he grabbed his spear and was at that instant horror stricken as he beheld the body of his lord slump to the ground. Silence mastered the nobles for a moment, Ori stood for as stone at the fall of his friend, but only a moment for Tror felt a fit of rage coming on.

“Attack, Kill him!” he yelled in a voice that almost cracked.

With his spear ready he sprang ahead of the group, intending to reach the archer first. They ran swiftly between the boulders and obstacles that time created, already Tror could see a number of orcs swarming down the slope to retrieve the fallen king. The orcs saw the hasty approach of the dwarves and some sent their arrows whizzing at the band, Tror felt a dull thud as an arrow tested his hauberk of steel rings, but glanced off his shoulder. The dwarves quickly cut off the orcs, (who Tror now believed were a small raiding party) who did not number more than fifteen, from Balin’s body.

“Hold your ground, defend the king!” yelled out Tror as he skewered the first orc on the end of his spear. Ori brought up the rear of the group but came in swinging and was fighting fiercely at Tror's side cutting down all who ventured within the reach of his axe, while the two brothers, Nali and Loni, stood directly next to Balin crushing all their opponents.

Orcs swarmed around them in a mass of unorganized groups endeavoring to break upon Tror, who was now seen as the leader of the group, but always fell as the cold metal of the dwarves found a weak spot in the orc’s armor. Tror was unconsciously weeping, the fall of a great leader and companion, known to all for his generosity and kindness; never again was such a leader to be had as he and to fall on the very day of Durin, Tror could only wonder what this omen might mean.

From the decreasing number of orcs a huge Uruk emerged and rushed at Tror, its huge scimitar wielded high aloft his head. Tror thrust his spear in hopes of subduing the Uruk quickly but it was glanced aside with a stroke and was quickly dropped by Tror, who was by now unslinging his axe. Ori rushed at the Uruk intent on saving Balin’s lieutenant, but a smaller goblin rushed at him and as Ori quickly dispatched him the Uruk changed targets; if not had not been quick to react, the Uruk would have brought the full force of the scimitar upon the dwarf’s head. Tror was stationary no longer and sprang to help his comrade.

“Today is a good day to die, foul minion of the shadow. Come closer, and grapple with me, if you dare!”

The Uruk stunned seemed stunned by his predicament, his yellow eyes faded as they met the determined hatred in Tror’s and with desperate attempts he rained down blows but the Tror soon proved the better, and after many traded blows the Uruk fell dead beneath the weight of Tror’s axe.

Thinlómien 11-26-2008 12:27 PM

The passageway echoed softly when Vigdis strode along it. She held the special chisel she had fetched from the mason's storage room and she was fingering it as she walked. Finally she would get to fix the uneven corner of a stone block that had been troubling her all day.

She arrived at the place where they had been working on the cavern chambers. Forin and Farin, the twin masons that always kept to themselves, were still at work, but Magnar and Vitr, the two others working there, had already finished their day's work. For all she knew about Magnar, Vigdis suspected he would already have started celebrating Durin's Day with his friends and some beer. And Vitr, he would be with his family now.

As she was working on the edges of the block, Vigdis kept thinking about that. She had no family of her own, and that, she knew, was entirely her own decision. Not that she would have craved for children or husband. She liked children well enough, but they made a lot of noise and restricted their parents' lives. As for a husband, well, she wouldn't have minded having a companion to share her joys and sorrows, but she was able to cope alone as well. Besides, she had given her heart to the greatest dwarf of their age, and when he had not returned her love she would not take another man for husband. No one compared to Balin son of Fundin, Lord of Khazad-dűm.

Today was Durin's Day and the day he would look at the mysterious waters of Kheled-zaram. She hoped he would see whatever it was that he wanted to see there, and that when he'd return to celebrate the New Year with his people, he would hold his head up high and there would be a new determination in his eyes. Then she would celebrate not only the New Year and the first and greatest King of Dwarves, but also the high Lord to whom both her loyalty and her heart belonged.

Something warm was moving down her palm. Snorting with annoyance, she wiped the thin trail of blood to her sleeve and licked the few red drops off her fingertip. Vigdis could not be called clumsy at any rate, but whenever she got too carried away, she started maiming herself. She allowed herself a wry smile. Her body seemed to have a protective mechanism of its own that reminded her when she was concentrating on something nonsensical instead of her work.

Her finger was still bleeding. Her handkerchief was grey with stone dust, but she wrapped it around her finger nevertheless. She would see to the small cut later, now she wanted to finish the block. The corner was still more than a little uneven, and she would not call her day's work done before it was finished.

Gwathagor 11-26-2008 02:28 PM

Frar pounded down the hill, axe in hand, eyes ablaze, long black hair streaming in the wind.

Only moments earlier, Balin had stood like the lords of Khazad-dum before him, gazing into Mirrormere, where the sun, the moon, and the evening stars all shone reflected. It was Durin's Day and the start of a new year, and a quiet peace lay over Dimrill Dale.

Then in the stroke of a hammer, the vision was shattered, upended by a single arrow. The Lord of Khazad-dum lay dead in a patch of green grass on the granite slope.

The overwhelming sense of shock did not prevent the dwarves from taking immediate action, and now, driven by speechless rage, they were systematically hacking the marauding orcs to pieces. Loni and Nali were already standing over the body of their fallen lord, feet planted and weapons swinging. Tror was a short distance in front of them, and the other dwarves had spread out into a rough crescent to meet the advancing orcs. Frar took up position near Tror and settled into his work, immediately dispatching two orcs who rushed at him from his left and his right. A third leapt from the top of a boulder at Frar with a spear and a yell - which was cut abruptly short by a tremendous blow from Frar's great double-edged axe. The broken body of the orc was slammed to the ground, raising a cloud of grey dust. Frar spat, turned, and kept swinging.

Groin Redbeard 11-26-2008 04:54 PM

The hall was in a flurry of commotion, Nisa had been with the cooks all day helping with the magnificent feast that was to come that evening when the lord Balin returned. Everyone was very excited, even for dwarf standards, the men hastened around carrying the large caskets of ale and dried goods on their shoulders and getting helping the women with the tables and stools. Though for the most part it was the job of the women to arrange the feast, the men had not yet gathered back from the mines or many crafts that some occupied themselves with.

Nisa sat on a stool in the far corner helping the other women with the meats, turning them on a spit and making sure that none of the men ventured near enough to snatch an early piece for themselves. She looked all around her, there was the greatest gaiety and merriment amongst her people and she was glad that Tror had consented to taking her along, of course the dwarves celebrated Durin’s Day every year but to do so in these magnificent halls seemed to make the effect greater upon her. Her cousin, Tror, always told her to be proud of her people and had instilled in her a deep sense of patriotism.

Although small band that Balin had brought from Erebor could not fill the vastness of the hall, in-fact they had only filled up a small part of it, it seemed as if the whole of the Twenty-First Hall was filled with their joy. She wondered at how it would have been to be present in the days of Durin when the whole hall would have been filled.

One of the kitchen maids leaner over to her, “I wonder when our lord Balin will return?”

“Oh, I do hope soon,” Nisa said with a smile, “this waiting in making me anxious, lord Balin has never ushered forth to Kheled-zaram before in the last five years. I hope that Oin comes back soon too; he’s been gone for the better part of the day. But I guess the waiting will do me good,” she said with a laugh, her clear voice echoing off of the walls, “it makes it all the more merrier when they arrive, wouldn’t you say?"

Lilly 11-27-2008 05:17 PM

Dinner at the Silverfist home was done; the dishes washed and dried. The twins were itching to unwrap the present they’d discovered in their father’s bag. A soft leather pouch secured with buttoned flap hid it from their view. They’d felt it, and weighed it in their hands, and shook it, all to no avail. They could not tell what it was. Now a nod from their mother and a wink from their father gave them permission to open it.

‘Oh, Papi! What is this?’ Tív took the large, rectangular wooden board from his sister’s hands and held it out toward his father. It was light in color, made from beech wood and just about the thickness of Tív’s hand. There was a large circle drawn upon it in gold paint and within the circle lay a six pointed star, the edges of which were made of small inlaid pieces of gems; the edges of each of the star sections being lined by a different color of stone – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. And the middle formed a six sided figure bounded by each of the colors

‘It’s a game, Tív,’ Lys said, clapping her hands in delight at the sight of their birthday present. ‘My brothers and I had one when we were little. Though not,’ she said, turning to Vitr, ‘one so lovely in the crafting.’

‘Here, daughter mine,’ she went on, sitting down on the homespun rug. ‘Let me see that little bag you’re holding.’ She undid the leather strings which bound it and poured the contents of the leather pouch out onto the rug. Crystal marbles rolled out in a glimmering heap. Sparkling globes each one a different hue of the rainbow.

‘See,’ she said, placing the wooden board before her on the run. ‘These red crystals go here in these little carved out holes here in the red part of the star.’ She patted the ground to each side of her, encouraging the children to sit down. ‘You, too, Vitr!’ she went on, smiling up at her husband. ‘It’s much more fun with more players!’

A rousing game ensued. Slow, at first, with the hesitancy of the children at unfamiliar rules; then more decisive and a great deal more boisterous as Tív and Tíva mastered the fine points of frustrating their opponents’ moves. There were groans, too, as plans were foiled. Marbles sent back to their starting places; others of the players quietly and steadily moving their marbles slowly into their winning positions.

When the game was done, and Lys declared the winner, Tív grabbed up her red marbles in his hands. ‘Next time I get to use these,’ he declared. ‘Aw put them back in the bag, brother!’ Tíva ordered, holding open the leather pouch. ‘You know it wasn’t the red ones that won for her.’ She looked at her mother admiringly. ‘She’s just a much better player than you are!!!’ Tíva stuck her tongue out and just as quickly leaped back from the little punch her brother aimed at her shoulder.

‘Here! Give me those!’ Lys reached out for the marble pouch just as it escaped her daughter’s grasp.

‘Vitr, dear, see to them won’t you?’ she nodded to where the twins chased each other round about the room. ‘I’ll just get this put away,’ she went on, securing the game board in its leather pouch and the smaller leather bag within, too. She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. ‘I’ll load up the basket with the cookies and nut cakes I’ve made, then you must fetch my ale and your spirits. We’re already late to the start of the party, I fear.’

Legate of Amon Lanc 11-29-2008 06:15 AM

Trór's shout brought him to his senses.

A moment ago, he was just watching the skies, observing the heavenly lamps, as they were hanging high in the sky on Durin's Day. A rare sight, and here, by the Lake Mirrormere, it was as if the history and all the tales of Dwarvenkind he had heard from his brother suddenly came true, and as if it was here, present, now. Durin, Náin, Borin, Thráin, Frosti, Helmi... all the names of the Dwarven heroes of old, who have ever stood in this place, came to Lóni's mind. Their tales, their fates. The legends. Some lead the Dwarven folk into deep caverns beneath Caradhras, some built marvelous halls, some fought nameless monsters in the darkness far below the world of the Sun and the Moon. Some have stood even here, maybe where he is standing now, or by the great Mirrormere itself. There were also those who fought here, in Dimrill Dale, and Lóni remembered them all. Some who fought victoriously, some found their deaths, but now the time seemed to disappear, they were not past, they were all here, both living and dead, right here and right now.

Thrór, Thráin, Thorin, Dáin... and Balin.

He did not hear the hiss of the arrow, and it was only Trór's cry which brought him back to reality. He had only a moment to see the Lord fall. He heard how Náli hissed next to him with his breath. Then Trór's mighty stature covered his sight.

And then he saw them. Goblins. Rushing down from the steep slope, they swarmed like black ants. They moved towards the lake.

Náli by his side moved. Lóni followed, automatically. The Dwarves ran towards the lake to be there first, to cut off the black enemies from lying Balin. Cowards, a thought fled through Lóni's mind. Shot him when he was unexpecting, unarmed. Unknown fear shook him. Balin was wounded. The great Dwarf of this age, cowardly attacked like that... there was no time for him to worry, but deep inside, almost unconsciously, Lóni hoped that Balin's wound was not fatal.

They have reached the place and stopped, like a wall they stood to block the attackers' way. Swiftly, Lóni pulled out his light mace. Right in time, as the first enemies came. A tall, long-legged orc thrusted his spear against Lóni, but was unbalanced by Náli's strike. Lóni seized the opportunity and countered. He was fast, but the orc succeeded to parry with a small round wooden shield. Looking around, the enemy stepped back and left space to his incoming companions.

"Hold your ground! Defend the king!" Trór shouted.

The goblins swarmed about them, surrounded them, yet neither of them could reach the body of Balin. We have to dispatch them, Lóni thought, we have to crush them and then carry Balin inside, fast, before he dies.

Left and right, left and right he directed his strikes.

The sun and the moon seemed so big, as they crossed the heavenly path, and the water of the lake was dark as night. Cold was creeping out of the surface of the lake, and Lóni could have sworn that he felt the chill stealing the heat of the body of the fallen Lord of Moria, who lay next to him.

Left, right, left, right. The two mountain goblins with scimitars kept attacking him from both sides and did not give Lóni a moment of rest. But he was fast, swinging his light weapon and parrying their blows. The yellow stone in his helmet gleamed like a twin of the great yellow stone in the sky. Suddenly, he heard a warning cry from Náli. He turned right in time. The long-legged orc who attacked him before, managed to move towards his right, and got into Lóni's blind spot when his attention was directed elsewhere. Now, the Dwarf could only try to avoid the spear. Not fast enough. The steel rings of his hauberk made a chiming sound when the enemy's weapon was forced against their protective shell with full strength.

But they held. Feeling pain in his right side, Lóni swung with full strength from the right. The orc was too tall. The mace hit his side and there was a crushing sound. The enemy fell on one knee and Lóni led his strike for the second time. The orc's head swung in a funny way and he fell to the ground.

Lóni's helmet rung like a bell and his eyes darkened for a while. He turned and saw a goblin with scimitar. Had there not been Náli, whose presence distracted the enemies from focusing solely on Lóni, the goblin's strike would have surely been directed in a far deadlier manner. From where he stood, Lóni turned and using the energy of the blow, he hit the goblin's head. He could only notice the fear in the enemy's eyes when he realised that he cannot parry Lóni's blow. As the mace hit the goblin's face, he gave out a loud shriek and with a disgusting sound, he fell to the ground, wincing. After a few heartbeats he stopped, motionless.

Arry 11-29-2008 11:14 AM

At the celebration

‘Can you see who’s here?’ Tív poked at his sister’s leg, tugging too at her pant-leg. ‘All I can see are belts and the backs of tunics down here.’ He bobbed and weaved a bit trying to peer around the adults in front of him or at least get a glimpse of some familiar face through crooked elbows.

Tíva had cajoled her father into letting her ride on his shoulders on the way to the area of the great hall where the Durin’s Day party would be. So she had a bird’s eye view of the goings-on and the revelers. ‘Well, just about everyone got here before us! There’s tons of food!’ Her eyes sparkled as she pointed toward one of the tables. ‘Ooh, lots of pies, and sweet buns, and cakes, too!!’

‘How can you two still be hungry?’ laughed Vitr as he swung his daughter down beside her brother. ‘You have enough of your Mami’s cookies in you already to turn you each into lumps of sugar!!!’ He tapped each of them lightly on the tips of their noses.

‘Aw, Papi!’ Tíva grinned up at him. ‘You know, it’s just like you always say – we filled our bellies and now we’re working on our hollow legs!!’ She ducked as his hand came round to give her a friendly cuff on her cheek. ‘Missed me!!!’ she crowed, laughing.

Tív grabbed at her hand and pulled along, further into the room. ‘Hey, come on!’ he urged her. ‘Let’s see if we can find Nîsa. She might have remembered its our birthday, you know.’ Tíva took the lead, then, saying she thought she had spied her over where the meats were being roasted.

Vitr took from Lys’ hand the braided rope handle of the little wagon they'd brought. In it was a small barrel of Lys’ special bright amber ale she always brewed to celebrate this day and beside it a smaller cask of his own brewing. Dwarven spirits – a strong concoction with the traditional flavor of juniper berries and a secret mixture of his own making of various spices. It was a quite delightful drink, a bracing one, and sure to make the festivities all the more merry for those who imbibed.

He handed Lys her platter tucked securely between the barrel and its smaller neighbor. Covered by a brightly embroidered cloth, she'd heaped it with the cookies she’d made for the twins’ birthday. ‘I think we’re near the sweets’ table,’ he told her, nodding off to his right. ‘We can drop these off there, then go set up your ale and uncork my little cask.’

They nodded and smiled at friends and neighbors as they passed through the crowd. And often they stopped for a few moments as they were drawn into the various knots of conversation.

Groin Redbeard 11-30-2008 01:11 PM

A cold wind sent Nali’s green robe flapping. He stood beside his brother Loni; both were staring in wonder at the sky. So focused were they on the heavenly event that they had not noticed that Balin had been gone for some time. The Two globes in the sky were mere minutes away from colliding, or at least looked like they would.

Both brothers were startled at an exclamation of horror from Tror and before Nali knew the cause of the cry Tror and Frar had sprung to the vanguard of the group and were soon followed by Loni. It suddenly appeared that orcs were scrambling down the slopes to where Balin was, but Nali did not see the figure of his lord sprawled out on the ground. Ori and he stood motionless as the group went forward, Nali Finally regained his senses and grabbed Ori by the shoulder and shook him roughly.

“Come my friend, why do we linger? Our leader hath need of our help!” Resolution came back into Ori’s stature and they both sprang down the rocky slope with greater recklessness than their four companions had.

They overtook the orcs and helped with fending them off. Twice Nali intervened on behalf of his brother, though outnumbered, the dwarves put up a stout fight. The fiercest of them was Ori, he flung himself at the orcs with reckless fury so that the strong arms of Tror and Frar had to twice help him. Nali lifted his huge mace and smashed helm and shield alike, he placed himself directly over Balin’’s body alongside his brother.

Once he was flung from his lord while parrying a blow and the orcs laid their cruel hands on Balin and sought to make away with him, but every time he was flung back Loni cut the hands of the orcs that held Balin and they fled in terror.

With the last of the orc s slane, Nali dropped his mace and sunk to his knees. Gingerly he and Loni turned him so that they could see his face. Loni held him in his arms, Nali was weeping beside him, Balin’s face was ghostly white, his eyes were closed and a look of pain was written upon his face.

Suddenly Balin’s chest heaved in an agonizing sigh; his eyes opened and looked around as if bewildered and unsure. As an exclamation of joy rang from companions the realization came into his eyes and a smile crossed his lips.

“My lord!” exclaimed Tror; Ori sprang next to Balin, clasping his friend’s hand in his and burst into joyful tears.

But the lord of Khazad-dum just looked at his friends and gave a nod, as if to say, “thank you.” Then there was a long sigh and Balin lay limp in Loni’s arms, at perfect peace with his fate.

Nali buried his head in his hands and wept heavily next to his brother. The whole company was immersed in grief. Tror clenched his fists and bit his lip, but no matter how hard he tried the tears still flowed from his eyes and stained his beard.

“Alas,” cried Nali after long moments of weeping, “now two great leaders of Durin’s house have fallen in this dale.”

Thus it was that Balin died at the moment of the sun and moon crossing each other’s path. Nali no longer held it as a wondrous occurrence; he cursed and shook his fist at the sky. It was an ill omen that their lord should fall on the day of Durin, Nali couldn’t help but feel that ill times awaited him and his friends.

Legate of Amon Lanc 11-30-2008 03:34 PM

It was very late when Lóni actually realised what Balin's state really is. At first, he has not given it much thought, he saw the immediate threat and acted, and only in the furthest corner of his mind he had the worry that Balin's wound may be serious. But now, as he stood at the edge of the dark lake among the fallen enemies and silent friends, he realised the truth which was far more terrifying than he originally dared to think. With the shadow of Durin's stone next to him, Lóni once again thought of the dwarven heroes, but now from a completely different perspective. The living and the dead were once again together, and Lóni felt just how thin the line between the former and the latter was. The heroes of Khazad-dűm, those who died in its halls and in front of its gates. Durin, Thrór...

The sun and moon were together in the sky and the water of the lake was dark and chill.

Balin, their lord, the one whom Lóni always admired and respected as a honourable dwarf of his age, and as somebody close to him, was dead.

Folwren 11-30-2008 05:33 PM

Kénan had remained at the gates of Moria. He had not been close to Balin and therefore was not one of the party to go down with him. Yet he had followed them at a distance, but only to the gates. There he stood on the threshold under the mountain looking out on all that passed from a great distance. He did not see Balin fall, but he saw the routing of the orcs and their flight from the valley. His brows drew together, resembling a thundercloud gathering together before the storm.

He knew that in the inhabited halls above, the dwarves would be gathering for the great celebration of Durin’s Day. His two grandchildren would be there. He should be there with them, but his deep sense of loyalty to his lord, Balin, had induced him to follow.

Soon he realized that he had not followed far enough. In time, he saw the small group of dwarves drawing up the path below him, and they bore on their shoulders a body of one of their number.

Kénan stepped forward out of the shadow of the gatepost into the light of the dying sun. He heard the voices of the dwarves in lament. Then he recognized Balin to be the one they carried. He lifted his hand and pulled the hood away from his head, and thus bared, the gray head bent and he stepped back again to allow the body to pass.

Durelin 11-30-2008 07:06 PM

Kórin expertly filled mug after mug from large barrels of ale, pausing in her work only to take a drink of her own or to chat with a friend or friendly face. She paid no heed to whether or not she was refilling this dwarf’s mug for the fourth or fifth time, nor if the two mugs that dwarf carried were both for him or not. Today was Durin’s Day, and they were celebrating the fifth such day in Khazad-dűm, home and stronghold of their ancestors, reclaimed once again.

Kórin, who had never excelled at any craft she had been instructed in, largely because she had no interest in them, was among those who took up brewing (once again, for some) since Balin’s people had settled in and restored the Twenty-first Hall to a comfortable neighborhood. And most of them had been storing more than they had been offering for months, in anticipation of this day. For five years now dwarves once again dwelt in Khazad-dűm, relighting some – if only a fraction – of its forges.

The gathering area in the middle of the hall – a sort of town centre now – was filled with people, laughter, music, delectable smells, and the smoke of pipeweed. Kórin sang along with a nearby group who played on fiddles and flutes and sang:

“The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone,
When Durin woke and walked alone.
He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stooped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head.

The world was fair, the mountains tall,
In Elder Days before the fall
Of mighty Kings in Nargothrond
And Gondolin, who now beyond
The Western Seas have passed away:
The world was fair in Durin's Day...”

Kórin let the others continue without her when she caught sight of two familiar faces amongst the crowd, and called out to them, “Good day, Master and Missus Silverfist! Isn’t it your Tív and Tíva’s birthday today, too? What a party they’re gettin’! Tell ‘em I wish ‘em a good one! I don’t suppose I should offer them a full pint, but what about yourselves?”


Kór had not been back to get another ale from his sister after she had shoved one at him when he helped her roll barrels into the centre of the hall. He had barely touched his ale, as since then his hands had been busy upon his harp’s strings. He played mostly familiar tunes today that those celebrating could sing along to, such as songs about the Lonely Mountain – both the dragon’s coming and the return of the king under the mountain. It was hard to believe that it was five years ago now that there had been another such glorious return – and one that Kór himself had witnessed.

Kór heard some lively flutes and strings from across the hall, and when he heard them strike up the tune of Durin’s song he began to play along with them. Though only pieces of the words echoed to where he sat, garbled at this distance, he filled in the rest without thinking, running the words through his head as he played, absorbing their meaning and pouring that out through his fingers. It certainly felt that Durin was alive this day, and though he was not, Kór played to awaken him.

Kitanna 12-01-2008 11:56 AM

Iari tugged at Kéni's sleeve, dragging him along to the feast. She hated the thought that they might be late for Durin's Day celebration. All that wonderful food not being eaten, just sitting there, or worse it could all be gone and only the worst was left. It would be a travesty

"Hurry, hurry," She pulled harder, but now Kéni was resisting. His feet were planted in the ground, refusing another step. "We're going to be late."

"We will be fine. The food will still be there and there will be plenty for us, even if we're late. We should have waited at home for Grandpa anyway."

"He said he would meet us there. Now come on!" Iari was pulling harder, but her older brother had weight and height on her. Kéni took Iari by the arm and hoisted her up, slinging her over one shoulder.

"Because of your impatience we are returning home. I am sure Grandpa will bring us something to eat when the celebration is over."

"No, no!" Iari cried, beating her fists on Kéni's back as he started walking. It was unfair. Just because he was older did not mean he had any right to deprive young Iari of the Durin's Day celebration feast. The day before Kéni had been as excited as she and now he was carrying her back to their home and missing all the fun.

Kéni laughed as his sister beat her tiny fists into his back. He drew closer to the feast and knew it was time to settle Iari. What would their neighbors think if he brought her in screaming and abusing him? "Best be quiet or no one will give you anything." Kéni placed Iari down and pointed her toward the feast.

Her eyes lighted and she clapped with joy. Kéni took her by the hand, leading her toward the food.

Groin Redbeard 12-01-2008 12:22 PM

She was left alone for some time with her thoughts, humming to herself and slowly turning the roast. But her thoughts were disturbed by the patter of little feet and the excited shouts of little voices. She smiled to herself and went on with her duty. Presently she felt the little hands suddenly seize her and begin to tickle, she jumped in pretend surprise and then turned on the little Tiv and Tiva and began to chase them around the makeshift kitchen catching one up in her arms and then the other. The little kids laughed with her as she carried them back to her stool.

"My my, you kids are getting heavy. I wonder, could it be that today is your birthday?"

"Yes yes, it is!" the children shouted excitedly.

"Then that calls for gifts, but they must be special gifts for today is Durin's Day and it is not every year that you may celebrate you birthday then."

The Kids held their breath as Nisa reached under her stool and lifted up two packages of stoat skins and handed it to the children she looked on with delight as they opened the pouches and displayed the contents in the light of the fire. One of the packages contained a some wooden figures in the shape of a bird with a sharp beak, they examined it for some time but soon had to ask her what they were.

"These," she explained holding the two figures in her hands, "are raven callers. It was said that in the days of old our folk could speak to the ravens of the hills and call on them for aid. Alas, all too few of us know the language today, even my cousin has endevoured to learn it and failled, but with these you mearly have to blow in this end and a ravens call will pertrude out of it, watch." Nisa placed one to her lips and blew, a sharp caw rang out across the hall and the Tiv and Tiva immediately began blowing on them.

Tiv was handeling an object in the second pouch, they were richly adorned belts of gold studded leather. Tiv's was dark green and sparked when shown in the light; it was adorned with a small jewel on the front. Tiva's was of light blue, but hers did not shine in the light, but instead sparkled and glowed when in the dark, a special kind of "magic worked by Bain who she had purchased them from. Both of the artifacts were well wrought and valuble possetions, but she was a wealthy dwarf and spared no expense on this special day.

However, though the children were pleased with their gifts and thanked her over and over for them she was filled with an emptiness. She had not yet fulfilled her duty and produced an offspring. Nisa wondered how happy Tiv and Tiva's parents were, and how richly they had been blessed to have two little darlings such as these.

"Now you two," she said after the children had fastened their new belts on and stored their raven callers in a pouch, "you best be getting back to your parents. I still have work to do and lord Balin will be back soon."

Lilly 12-01-2008 01:22 PM

Tív and Tíva

The twins were agog at the gifts Nîsa had given them. Tíva buckled her new blue belt about her waist and twirled about, cocking her head this way and that as she tried to catch a glimpse of herself on the side of one of the bigger cooking pots.

‘Oh, I am puh-rit-teeeee!’ She skipped back to Nîsa and flung her arms about the woman as far as they would reach. ‘Thank you so much, Nîsa – I love it!!’ She skipped away again to stand in the dark shadows at the end of the hall, where her belt glimmered out about her.

Tív’s attention was focused on the raven-call. He recalled times outside the caverns with his father, when they’d gone to chop firewood in the forests that carpeted the mountain sides. High in the branches of the tall firs he’d seen the large black birds gliding from one tree’s branches to another and calling out in the still air. Their hoarse, croaking Kaughs and the variations of that call echoing across the little valleys. It was almost as if they spoke, Tiv had thought. His father, noting they boy’s interest in the ravens, had told him stories of how many of the older Dwarves he’d know as a boy insisted there was indeed meaning in those various sounds.

If a raven caws above your head - you will have company
If she says GRAW!” it will be unexpected company
If she says “GEEWAN!” it will be unwelcome company
If she says “BEECAH!” it will be a lover come to call
If she says “GRACE!” it will be someone coming to collect a debt

Tív grinned at Nîsa and blew a series of calls. He was soon joined by his sister, and as soon had tried on his own belt.

When Nîsa let them know in her gentle way that she had best return to her business of turning the roasts for the feast, they put away their calls and bid her good-bye. ‘Thank you!’ they called aloud again, waving their hands at her as they made their way back into the crowd.


Lys and Vitr try Kórin’s brew

‘You have the right of it,’ Lys said, accepting a mug of foaming ale from Kórin. ‘It is the twins’ birthday She took a small sip and rolled it about in her mouth. ‘Very tasty!’ She furrowed her brow, catching a taste of something unfamiliar. ‘What is that? Something new you’ve added this year.’ She cocked a brow at Kórin. ‘A secret, I suppose?’ she asked, smiling. ‘Well, whatever it is, I think it definitely deserves further investigation.’ She downed the remainder of her mug-full and held it out for a refill.

Noting the sly grin tipping up the edges of Vitr’s mouth, Lys winked at him. ‘Come now, husband mine! Kórin’s offered a taste of her newest brew.’ She tipped her chin toward her own barrel. ‘Let’s give her a taste of mine.’ She nodded at Kórin. ‘You’ll want to try Vitr’s spirits, too. Smooth, but with quite a kick to it!’

Groin Redbeard 12-01-2008 03:41 PM

Something died with Tror as he saw balin's eyes close for the last time. It was nothing new to him, he had seen dwarves die before, even important dwarves such as Balin yet he did not cry for them. As best he could, Tror held back the flood of tears that wished to brake his dam of pride that held them back. This was not the way for a beloved leader to die: killed by an assasin's arrow, and with him the dream that he held. It was Balin dream burned with a fire of its own when he was around other people, it was he who could inspire the populace to do great things, would his dream die with him?

Tror no longer felt like crying, he wanted to fight, he wanted to hit something to vent his frusteration out on an object. His eyes fixed on the arrow that pierced the dwarf lords back, Balin hadn't even worn his armour that day.

"Take it out," he growled in a low voice at Loni (it was he who was holding Balin), "take it out, take the shaft out!" he said in a loud voice after Loni looked up at him confused.

Loni did as he was told, Nali took his robe off and wrapped the dead lord in it. Even in death Balin was a kingly sight.

"Come my friends," said Tror in a gentler voice, "we must not linger. The people will be expecting the return of their lord."

Together Tror,Loni, Frar, and Nali lifted the dead lord on their shoulders. Tror had excluded Ori from this task on purpose, the death of his dear friend had only moments ago happened and the grief might still be too great. Slowly the dwarves walked in step up the rocky slope back to the Eastern-Gate. Tror was never any good with words, yet he sang a durge in a deep voice.

Himaran 12-01-2008 08:25 PM


Dalin winced in pain, letting his hammer clatter to the stone floor. Grimacing, the dwarf tugged off his thick leather gloves and tossed them aside before examining his sore thumb. The damage appeared minor, though shades of deep purple blue and significant swelling had already begun to set in. He shook it furiously, sucked on it briefly, then shook it some more, silently cursing his misfortune. It had been simply ages since his last mishap in the forge; and while crafting something as simple as a pickaxe for one of the miners! Dalin couldn't decide if he was more perturbed by his lack of concentration or the pain itself.

The pain, however, soon faded, leaving the dwarf to brood on his error alone. It seemed as if he had been distracted all day; not even in the forge, a sanctuary of sorts to Dalin, was he left unaffected. Picking up the culprit hammer, he gripped the handle tightly, raised it up, let it hang for a fleeting second, and brought it crashing down against the searing red metal. Again, and again, he swung his craftman's tool in a gleaming arc. He oft likened the path of the hammer to that of his own life; it had a purpose, a mission, a point of conception and a destination. Again, and again, and -- a dull splintering noise jerked Dalin back to reality, a reality in which he had not only missed his target again but succeeded in shattering the base of his hammer in two.

This time, Dalin broke into a loud and profane rant.

Hurling the remnants of his hammer against the forge wall, the dwarf let out a bellow of frustration and collapsed to ground in defeat. What was wrong with him? All day he had struggled to concentrate on his work, let alone socialize with his brethren. What bothered the skilled craftsman even more was the gradual realization that he knew exactly what was bothering him: the dwarf was homesick. Moria seemed darker and gloomier than in past days; a strange sense of staleness had infected its massive halls and chambers. Far too often for his liking, Dalin had begun to catch himself daydreaming of the sunny slopes of Erebor. Rumors of growing orc numbers in and around the region did little to ease his discomfort. Perhaps it was time for a change.

Standing slowly, Dalin glanced around the room to make sure no one was there to witness his outburst. Thankfully, the forge was otherwise deserted. Strange that he was the only one...

... the Celebration!

Ilya 12-02-2008 01:27 PM

"What a waste of time!" Adela huffed, topping off the pan with the last bit of redcurrant jam. The celebration sounded and resounded against the walls, and by the time the pies were done, she reckoned most who might enjoy them would be rather too spirited to do so. "Should have started earlier," she mumbled, tucking a stray piece hair back behind her ear. As she ladled jam into the open mouth of the dough, it quivered like a piece of wounded flesh. Adela sighed, stoking the fire. Why was it her thoughts of late had touch of darkness in them? She glanced up at couple of the other maids chatting with one of the Ladies and then chuckled quietly, shaking her head. In the process the strand of her hair came loose again, limp from the close contact she'd had with the smoke of the fires since before dawn.

The music began. Adela smiled, closed her eyes for a moment, and pictured the kitchens emptying, leaving her alone with the music, a little put aside piece of meat, and glowing embers of the fire to warm her. The solitude of the dark flagstones, to lean on their strength and let her thoughts cease, would be the reward for all the hustle and bustle of the day. Adela didn't put much other stock in the boasts of the miners, but like any dwarf she could sense the voices of the stones. No small feat that the stone of Khazad Dum had tempered her somewhat these last five years, and she liked waiting for what, if anything, it might say back.

Pushing another pie into another oven, she paused for a moment, feeling a cool updraft strike her back and suddenly being aware of the sheer space in the air around her. Small though the settlement was, the 21st hall still seemed altogether too crowded between the boisterous voices of her fellow dwarves and the somber, brooding stones. And something else, she thought. An echo of an echo she could not name.

Adela shook her head, more hair flying free of the bonds that held it. "An echo of an echo indeed!" She huffed over to where the lasts of the meat was roasting. Most had already been carried into the hall, although the choicest cuts still waited for Lord Balin to return. "There's better trade in raspberries than rhymes, and always take a flagon over fate," she recited a mannish saying, looked about, and then popped a slice of one of the honeyed apples that had been set aside in her mouth. The Lord Balin was not a begrudging fellow, she reasoned. Or else, there are some things he just wouldn't count. She gave a leg a good turn as she finished chewing, the noise from the hall rising higher, as an arrow in flight. Odd, but the apple didn't taste very sweet.

Legate of Amon Lanc 12-02-2008 01:50 PM

Outside Moria
Wind was blowing through the pass, coming down from the heights of the Misty Mountains, rushing down the Dimrill Stair, hurrying around the streams of Silverlode and following it, down, to where the young river gathered water from other streams, as they rushed down into the dale. The wind turned around the few scattered rocks, spread through all the length of the valley, as if some giant's child left them here after play. It flew then further, as far as the sharp edge of a waterfall, which suddenly stood in the river's way, as another stream joined her flow. The wind rushed into the crooked fir-trees about it, made them shiver, and it flapped the old and dirty travel-cloak of the Dwarf who stood by them, looking far into the valley below him. He was old, his short beard and long hair being already white, though his blue eyes watching carefully from under the brown hood were bright and vivid. In his left hand, he was holding a short bow, though all his arrows remained peacefully in the quiver he carried on his back.

The mountains were casting long shadows and the sun and the moon over the Dwarf's head were performing a heavenly theatre, but he did not pay any attention to them. He was observing carefully the dale, surrounded by steep cliffs, with only a few bushes and small trees vegetating in there. He stood motionless amidst the fir trees; for a casual watcher, it would have been easy to overlook him in his worn-out brown cloak. The nearby waterfall was bubbling loudly, making it impossible for the Dwarf to hear any other sounds, but the watcher himself was protected by it from being overheard. When he at last moved and stepped forward to climb down the path of slippery green rocks beside Silverlode's channel, his steps were deafened by the voice of the running water.

As he went down, two times he almost slipped on the wet surface. For the third time, he managed to catch his balance only in the last moment. "By Durin's beard," he said, being grateful that both his voice and the sound of his stumbling before were drowned out by the loud stream. "You should take more care, Óin, good lad. Otherwise you may end up breaking some of your bones and who's going to pick you up?"

As the Dwarf continued down the dale, more carefully, as now the rocky gorge was narrowing a little, and also the noise of the waterfall was getting softer, he continued to mutter to himself under his breath, just so not to be louder than the river's bubbling voice.

"Of course I have to take care," he mumbled, as he went on, "but who is going to take a look around the place, if not me? They are all - mining, baking, wining, dining, but nobody thinks about taking a routine survey of the mountains. Of course, of course. It's Durin's Day," now he at last lifted his eyes to take a look at the skis. As if realising with shock what panorama is hanging above him, the Dwarf stood silent for a while. Only then he shook his head, but still being unable to move his eyes away from the heavenly theatre, he stood still.

"It's Durin's Day," he repeated slowly, "but they do not think about some good routine check. At least the main road down here, around the streams of Kibil-nâla... even old Balin got careless, as he became the Lord of Moria." Óin shook his head and made a snarling noise, perhaps a laugh, perhaps not. He finally managed to get his eyes away from the scenery of the skies and looked down at the dale below him. "Of course I am not complaining," he said. "It is good to have a breath of some fresh air once in a while, and now-"

He stopped in the middle of the sentence. His eyes opened wide, as he was gazing into the widening valley below him. The green walls, washed by the running stream gave way and then, the icy cold water continued its way between scarred slopes and following down in foaming curves and leaps amidst the rocks. And there, amidst the rocks, something was moving! The Dwarf now saw it clearly.

"Óin, good lad," he said softly, with his mouth open wide, "you are out on a survey and remain gazing at the Moon and the Sun like some kind of an Elf, and here you have somebody walking all happy right under your nose! Hide somewhere, quick!"

He immediately obeyed his own order. Jumping to the side, he crouched behind the nearest boulder, just as possible it was in the narrow gorge. The icy water was washing his boots and once in a while, a cold shower sprinkled on him.

"Durin's beard, Óin," he mumbled. "You should have picked a better place to hide. But what! You won't climb back there to the fir-trees unnoticed, so do your best and stay put!"

The incomer took a little while before he managed to climb into the place where Óin was hiding, but he did not seem to notice him, until he was just a short distance, not longer than a bowshot, from him. Óin jumped to his feet, preparing his bow, but when he saw who the incomer was, he let his hand reaching for an arrow to lower again.

"By Durin's beard!" he cried in surprise. "It's a Dwarf!" Then he realised that he is no longer alone, and fell silent in a bit of embarassement. But only for a moment.

"Oh, hail to you, fellow kinsman," he said, lifting his empty hand in greeting. "I hope I did not startle you." He observed the incomer curiously. It was a very young Dwarf, lot shorter than Óin, but of a strong build, and his face under the long brown beard seemed pleasant on first sight.

"My name is Óin, of the tribe of Durin, from Khazad-dűm the realm of Balin, my cousin and our lord. And who might you be," he finally looked the newcomer into eyes, with a firm expression as if he had finally evaluated the Dwarf and decided to form a basic opinion on him, "and what brings you to the gates of Moria? Is it that you are bringing any news from our cousins from the North?"

Boromir88 12-03-2008 11:26 AM

Gror's long journey from Erebor was just about over. Gror had lost count of how many days it's been since he left. With no company, it felt like he had been following the Great River for years. He had turned west before reaching the Realm of that Sorceress Witch. Nasty place it was, he had heard, much worse than Mirkwood, and the thought of Mirkwood (which Gror had avoided as well), brought a sense of bitterness in him.

However, Gror had long forgotten about the Elves, he had spotted an Enemy that filled him with an even deeper hatred - Orcs, and a great host of them. He had spotted them not two nights ago, heading up the Silverlode. He then had headed straight for the East Gate with as much haste as possible. He didn't want to explore the matter further; someone had to warn Balin. Such a large gathering of Orcs could only mean one thing - they were out for blood.

He did feel at ease, being in the mountains again. It brought a feeling of relief that he hadn't felt since leaving his home. He doubted Moria would have the splendour of the Lonely Mountain, but the thought of being in the halls of Durin and in the presense of Balin filled Gror with excitement.

Gror was in such a day-dream state he took no notice that someone else had been watching him, until he heard a shout:

"By Durin's beard! It's a Dwarf!"

That couldn't have been the voice of any other, except a dwarf. Gror was just glad to be in the company of another dwarf again. He had practically forgotten what it had felt like. The dwarf introduced himself as Oin. Gror noticed that he was a much older dwarf, and with him was a special aura that Gror couldn't describe. In truth Gror was filled with excitement, but he didn't want to come off as giddy, and embarass himself in the company of someone like Oin.

"Gror, at your service." He said bowing, remembering what his dad had taught him about showing respect to his elders. "Yes, I am here by the orders of King Dain, and am to speak with Balin. But, there are more pressing matters, I fear. A terrible threat approaches, that I was not expecting. A great army of orcs is heading up the Silverlode. I suspect they will be on top of you by nightfall."

"That is a threat indeed!" said Oin. "There is a feast taking place in celebration of Durin's Day. I suspect that is where you will find Balin. Go and warn him. I should like to check out this rabble myself!"

"Yes, sir." Gror bowed again, and raced towards the Gate. But as he sped off he stumbled, and fell face first. He looked up, his beard and face, all wet and muddy - Great, Oin saw that, you just made a great first impression...fool. Gror, got up, brushed himself off and this time slowly walking away. That is, until Oin was out of sight.

Groin Redbeard 12-03-2008 12:07 PM

The fellowship of mourners walked up the steps to the great gate where they saw Kenan bare headed and bowing his head in reverance. The gaurds of the gate approached startled to see that Balin was not with them, and wished to see the dormant figure they carried. An exclamation of horror were uttered by the gaurds as Nali and Loni lowered Balin from their shoulders, some threw themselves on the ground and wept while others stood and looked on in horror. The hareld lifted his horn and with tears in his eyes blew a mightily on his trumpet, signaling the return of lord of the Dwarrowdelf.

"Kenan, my friend," Tror said as the old dwarf approached them, "I am glad that it is you that we must break the news to first, but what a loss... what a terrible loss is ours!"

"How did it happen," asked Kenan in a horse voice.

"Orcs, an archer shot him while he was alone at on the banks of Kheled-zaram. We were not with him to prevent it, we failled him, I failled him."

A cold wind was coming down from the north as Tror spoke. The sky of overcast with a grey sheat of clouds and the sign of snow was in the air. No birds except the distant caw of a raven could be heard, perched somewhere withing its mountain haunt. As the company mournfully paused at the gate the raven flew above them and screeched a loud, "Graw!"

One of the gaurds gave and pointed out across the dale, there was a lone figure making his way up the winding road to the gate, no doubt it was Oin coming in; that dwarf was always absent from the halls, wondering afar in search of excitement. Tror turned to Ori.

"Would you mind staying here to brake the news to Oin," Tror asked, "he knows you better and it will be a comfort to be with a friend when he hears of what was done. I must go and give an accounting to the colony."

Gwathagor 12-03-2008 03:06 PM

The body of lord Balin weighed heavier than it should have upon the giant shoulder of Frar as the Lord of Khazad-dum passed through his gates and entered his halls for the last time. Frar felt a strange burden upon his heart also - but whether in foreboding or simple melancholy, he could not say. It seemed that with Balin, something greater had died, for under his direction, the dark soul of Khazad-dum had flared up again and showed itself bright and steady. Perhaps Frar felt then the beginnings of what would be another quenching of that light, as the darkness of Mordor spread west, north, and south. They were leaderless now, and the flame was beginning to flicker.

"Carefully now," said Frar in a deep rumble. It irked him to speak now, to interrupt the private grievings of his fellows, but they were nearing a steep flight of stairs, and, beyond, the Bridge of Khazad-dum. The solemn band proceeded down the stairs without incident.

None had been injured in the Dimrill Dale skirmish, but they had all been badly shaken. Hardly a word had been spoken since Balin had fallen. However, Frar imagined that they were likely dwelling on similar questions: who lead them now? Whence came the orcs? And why? Why had they come for Balin? Had it been a mere band of marauders? Or was it the vanguard of a larger force? Instinctively, he began to plan. Guards and watches would need to be doubled, at the very least. They had not had to fight for many months now, since the last scrawny goblins had been driven out of the caves, and so weapons and armor would need repair and sharpening. Arrows fletched, spears carved, shields layered. Just to be safe, he told himself.

As he considered, and as he planned, the sorrow began to subside, driven off by the twins need and action. And almost immediately, though he did not notice at first, a deep-seated anger took its place - burning, as yet, only quietly and dully.

Folwren 12-03-2008 10:08 PM

“We failed him,” Tror said. “I failed him.”

Kénan did not know how to answer. They had all failed him. It was not something any dwarf should bear alone, and yet it was a burden that each one bore independently from the next.

“I must go and give an accounting to the colony.” He walked on, beside the six dwarves carrying Balin. Kénan turned and fell into step beside him. They were drawing near the bridge.

“But surely,” Kénan began, and then stopped. His voice lowered almost into gentleness in the presence of the dead body. “You do not mean to take him up there? Before all the children?” He thought of his grandchildren. Kéni - well, he could manage - but Iari! She was but a little girl! Still unhardened and unprepared for death. Kénan looked at Tror, hoping that he did not intend to take that course of breaking the bitter news.

Arry 12-03-2008 11:28 PM

Vitr raised his brow as Lys tipped back yet another mug of ale – one from her own cask this time. He wondered if she’d restocked their medicine box, if there were a good supply of white willow bark to put a damper on the raging headache he could see brewing on the horizon of the coming day.

Ah, let her have her fun, man. he chided himself, reining in the inclination to warn her off drinking so much so fast. She’d been a little down of late, or so he thought. Though when asked she’d said it was just some little chill she couldn’t seem to shake.

That worried him some; it wasn’t like her. His own Gran had had a bit of the ‘sight’, or so his mother called it . . . the knack of seeing into shadows, somehow knowing when something hurtful were coming. The one time, though, she’d had a chill as she described it, it was a dogged feeling of doom that she could not shake nor pinpoint as to its cause. ‘Feels like some cold wind from somewhere’s blowing cross my neck.’ In her last days Gran had talked about her heart going pitter-pat in her chest for no reason along with the wicked chill that raised the hairs at the nape of her neck and crept down her spine. ‘Some big, old hairy legged rock beetle just skittered over my grave,’ she’d say with a flick of her hand as if to pass it off as nothing.

It hadn’t been nothing, though. Death had come for her . . .

Vitr shrugged his shoulders in an effort to throw off his unpleasant thoughts. This was a day of celebration, he reminded himself. Durin’s Day and the day of his son and daughter’s birth.

As he raised his own mug with the others, Vitr put his free hand at the small of his wife’s back, wanting to make concrete the affection he felt for her. He only sipped at the brew, looking often at her face from the corners of his eyes. A smile curved his lips. Her cheeks were quite pink, from the heat of the crowded hall, he thought, as well as the ale she’d drunk, and no doubt from the sheer pleasure of being out and about with no tasks to be taken care of. Her brown eyes glittered merrily it seemed in the highly lit room, and as merry was her laugh at something someone had said. There against her near cheek lay a coppery tendril of hair having escaped from her thick, neat braid he noted, resisting the impulse to draw it back behind her ear. Seventeen years together, he smiled and, so far, more filled with sweetness than with sorrow.

By chance, or mayhap some uncanny design, a small, stray breeze curled its chilly finger down the collar of his tunic. Perhaps from one of the ventilation shafts that drew the outside air into the caverns. He shivered, taking his hand from Lys’ back to rub at the nape of his neck.

‘Mahal, be between us and harm,’ he murmured quickly, an old oath of protection coming readily to his lips. ‘And protect us from all baneful foes and their workings.’

And as quickly, his arm went round about his wife’s waist, drawing her close against him. His gaze flew round the room, seeking out the figures of his son and daughter.

Lilly 12-04-2008 12:26 AM

‘What are you looking for?’ Lys leaned against Vitr’s side for support as she stretched up on tip-toe to see where his gaze wandered. She could feel how tense he held his body, as if there were something quite unwelcome coming.

Shoulders and heads and arms raised in toasts, in greetings obscured her view at times. But for the most part, all she noted as she looked about were the smiling faces of people happy and at ease. ‘Is there something happening? Something I should know about?’ Lys tugged on the sleeve of his tunic. Some little fear began to niggle at the back of her mind.

‘Vitr!! It’s not Tív and Tíva?!’

Relief flooded in as her daughter’s voice called out to her, followed close on by Tív’s gleeful shout to Vitr. ‘Mami! Papi!’ they cried out. ‘Look at what Nîsa’s given us!!’

Thinlómien 12-04-2008 05:42 AM

"Would you mind staying here to break the news to Oin? He knows you better and it will be a comfort to be with a friend when he hears of what was done. I must go and give an accounting to the colony."

"I will see to it," he said quietly, inclining his head a little. He wondered if he should have added "my lord" since Tror would now become the head of the colony. Ori had never had to call Balin "my lord" - he had tried it a few times, but his old friend had forbidden such behaviour, saying it was silly and unrespectful to their long history together. Even when becoming a high lord among his people, Balin had kept his warm and down-to-earth approach to people without losing his lordly dignity that commanded respect.

Ori wiped the corner of his eye with his sleeve. There would be time for mourning, but it was not right now. He would have to stay composed to see the practical things well done and to break the news to Óin. It was his duty.

He turned to look at the direction Tror had pointed at. He knew immediately that it was not his old friend who was coming.

Who could be out on a day like this, unannounced? Not anyone with respectful purposes, Ori concluded grimly and gripped his axe. He said nothing to the guards at the door but started walking towards the newcomer determinedly.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he was acting recklessly, that he was not being himself, but he walked on and called out: "Who are you and what do you think you are doing out on a day like this?"

The newcomer hesitated a little but kept coming towards Ori. When he was closer he shouted in reply: "I bring a message from King Dáin. My name is Gror." Ori lowered his axe, gritting his teeth.

They met and Gror nodded at the older dwarf.

Ori said nothing.

Gror's look grew sligthly uncertain. "I am to talk with Lord Balin," he said.

"Lord Balin is dead. He fell this very day when he went to look in Kheled-zaram," Ori said.

Kath 12-04-2008 11:29 AM


Svori had been desperate to get to the celebration for hours. He had been working away on the same part of the wall in front of him for almost as long, entirely distracted by the thoughts of the entertainment that would be on offer that evening ... and the chance to see Hepti. The woman of his dreams had been avoiding him recently, having stated a few days ago that Svori was still not responsible and hard-working enough for her. Had Svori been any less confident in himself he might have started to wonder whether he ever could meet Hepti's exacting standards, as it was he was standing in front of a piece of rock staring at it blankly.

"What are you doing?" He asked himself with a grin, stepping back a little and lowering the chisel he'd been holding motionless for the past few minutes.

Feeling the tension in his arms and back Svori stretched out a little. He had worked hard in the months preceding the quest to retake Moria to become an experienced miner and he had suceeded but his body wasn't quite used to it yet. He had found himself glad that he was a good fighter as the arm strength and steady hands gained from learning those skills had helped him improve his mining, but fighting tended to involve broad sweeping motions rather than the often minute actions that mining required and he found that his body was still adjusting to the newer actions.

"But!" He said as he began to put away the equipment he had been using. "At least it proves I've been working hard. If I'm hurting then Hepti is wrong about that."

Nodding decisively Svori made his way out of the area he had been working in and back home to drop off his work tools and have a quick clean up. He was heading out again within minutes thrilled at the prospect of an evening of celebrating - and was even more thrilled when upon arriving at the doorway of the cavern in which the party was being held he bumped right into the person he had been thinking about all day.

Unsure just how in the mood for a loud gathering she was it had taken Hepti a long time to decide whether to attend the celebration. It hadn't helped that people had kept coming in to her little workshop to ask her questions and just generally talk at her about the events planned for that evening, making her less inclined to go and causing her to get behind with the work she had intended to finish that day. The one thing that had finally convinced her to leave her work and go and have some fun was hearing the laughter coming from the celebration hall. There was something in Hepti that meant she just couldn't let a laugh go by without finding out what had caused it, and so she was convinced.

She was extremely pleased with her decision when she found herself standing next to Svori just as she was about to enter the party hall. Hiding a smirk she returned his surprised greetings.

"So ... may I accompany you in?" Svori asked Hepti, rolling his eyes internally at the strangely formal language he so often found himself using near her. He knew she was the one for him just because of how nervous he got whenever they met, something that never happened with any other woman. He held his breath as he waited for an answer.

"Why not?" Was Hepti's response, and she had to smile at the grin that blossomed over Svori's face.

"Okay!" Svori replied, and then lowered his voice as he realised how loud he'd been. "Okay then, let's go in."

Legate of Amon Lanc 12-04-2008 04:29 PM

Onli was happy. This was the obvious beginning of the great celebration, all the dwellers of Moria were coming from all directions to join in a singing, drinking, eating and chatting choir. Onli felt good, like in the old days in the Blue Mountains, when he was invited to banquets along with his mentor Vill. They have been meeting with various important Dwarves; there Onli got to know Dwálin, brother of the current Lord of Moria, and Dúvi, the Dwarf with mysterious past and connections. And there it was also where he had once seen Thorin Oakenshield, shortly before his last, but fortunate journey to Erebor. Fortunate, because even though the honourable Thorin died, his brave deed opened the Dwarves the door to Erebor. And without that, Onli wouldn't have been where he was now.

The hall seemed really full. Onli registered most of his "favourites", that is, the craftsmen whom he was keeping especially good relations with, seeing the potential in them and hoping to make fortune on promoting them. He greeted everybody, smiling cheerfully, thinking inside himself that he should try to get close to the Lord as soon as he arrives. Today would be a great opportunity for strenghtening his good relations with the "high ups". Onli smiled, as he picked himself a mug of beer. He's going to join Balin, and won't let him go until they talk properly. Onli already started to think what he's going to tell the Lord, recalling his knowledge of proper etiquette. Yes, he thought with a smile, this day is going to be great...


There was plenty of food scattered on the ground, when the heedless Dwarf stumbled and dropped the plate he was carrying. Despite his cursing, and despite the fact that it was her over whom the Dwarf tripped (and her back was still hurting a bit), Vriti accelerated, chasing a rolling bun filled with meat. She caught it, the bun was far, far slower than the rats and frogs she hunted (sometimes just for fun) in the empty caverns. Spitting the distasteful crust, she started to chew happily the bun's contents.

But there seemed to be some unusual amount of noise gathering around. Vriti quickly evaluated the situation, and grabbing yet another piece of food, she made her way under the feet of the Dwarves to a safe corner.

A small dwarven child spotted her and pointed at her, shouting something in a high voice, but Vriti hissed at it. She did not want to be interrupted while eating.

Groin Redbeard 12-04-2008 07:53 PM

The feast had begun mere moments ago! Nisa found her place next to Adela, a typical dwarf women who Nisa found intriguing. Although they had little in common, Adela was capable of the occasional good deed, and although Nisa surely appeared as stuffy overly formal to Adela, they had struck up a friendship and had kept it strong during those five years of the colony.

Both of them were busy devouring a piece of roast mutton when the sound of a horn was heard, it was the signal of the return of Balin. Adela and Nisa exchanged excited glances, they knew that the best part of the feast was to come now that the lord of Khazad-dum had returned.


The precession continued through the gates in reverent silence, Trór still felt the aching pain in his heart as clearly as if it had been that moment that Balin had fallen. Again he felt tears run down his beard, but his figure did not quake with weeping, he still stood proud and tall. They were descending the stairs that led to Durin's bridge, beyond that lay Twenty-Second Hall, and then the Twenty-First Hall, no doubt there would be much merry making and celebration going on, all of that will be shattered within a few moments. Trór suddenly felt someone grab his arm he was about to lead the group across the bridge, it was Kenan.

“But surely, you do not mean to take him up there? Before all the children?” he asked.

Trór stared at him for a long moment, he was right, this was not something that the children should be subjected to, but thus was life and there was no hiding it.

"What would you have me do then?" Trór asked coldly, "would you have me leave our lord's body here to lie upon the cold stone floor?"

Kenan reared himself proudly, he did not deserve this treatment for a simple remark. At this Trór's expression softened.

"No, my friend, we will bring his body with us. However, I will not bring his body in with me at first. You shall wait in the Twenty- Second Hall with..." Trór glanced at Balin's lifeless body, "with our lord. I will break the news to the colony alone."

They crossed the bridge and strode in silence through the hall until they came to the entrance of the Twenty-First Hall. Trór slowly raised his hand, signaling for the others to stop. His body shook at the thought of announcing such news, he felt his cheeks go red with nervousness, but he overcame it. Fearlessly, Trór slowly walked to meet the masses of his kin awaiting the return of Balin.

A loud cheer arose as he entered, many were there that he knew, all of them wore bright expressions of glee on their face. Trór stood as if he were at attention until the cheering subsided, and then his body shook. At once the crowd knew something was out of the ordinary, it was not like the hard soldier to show any feelings of fear, yet that is what he showed. He opened his mouth, but for no words came from him for a moment and even when Trór began to speak he started almost at a whisper.

"The needs of many out weigh the needs of a few, or of one," he began, the crowd immediately guessed that this was a speech about about a significant figure, but who: Durin, Thorin, Thror, Balin. They stayed silent and waited for him to continue.

"This is a concept that our noble lord, Balin, has always upheld. It is because of him that this great colony, this great city of our ancestors has been reclaimed and restored to us, their inheritors. We are gathered here today to pay respects to our honored father, Durin. Though something else has happened today that we shall remember as long as Durin's Day is celebrated. Our lord, and mighty ruler, Balin has fallen!"

A loud cry of horror arouse from the crowd, some of the men exchanged doubtful glances at each other as some of the more older dwarves began to openly weep.

"It was not thirty minutes ago that I witnessed the fall of our lord, who stood upon the banks of Kheled-zaram as an orc arrow pierced his heart. The orcs were swiftly and justly slain, but how can their deaths lessen the pain that we feel at the loss of our great leader?

"The words that I say cannot fully express the loss that I feel, he was my ruler... nay, he was more than a ruler, he was my king. It is only right and fitting that we should mourn the loss of our king, but I pray that his vision shall not be forgotten with his death. Khazad-dum is our home, and through his sacrifice, Balin has given us new hope for the future of our race. It should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, that this death takes presence in the shadow of new life: the sunrise of a new generation." Trór stepped forward to the two young twins, Tív and Tíva. Trór had not forgotten his cousin's news of their birthday that morning.

"A generation that our leader gave his life to protect, a generation whose children will dwell in these halls after our bones have turned to dust. I know that Balin did not fear his sacrifice, never has the death of one who has died so that his brother may live be ashamed of. We should not forget his profound wisdom too quickly, and we should not fail to remember his devotion to us, his people.

“Of my friend I can say only this: of all the kings I have served, of all the dwarves I have known, he was the most...worthy!”

Balin’s body was led in, his white face seemed radiant when reflected with the torches that lit the great hall in splendor. A long line of mourners followed the body as Trór led the bearers to the end of the great hall and to the Chamber of Marzabul. There they laid him on a great marble stone at the foot of his throne and one by one the people came up to pay their respects to the dead king.

Boromir88 12-05-2008 08:02 AM

"Lord Balin...dead!? How is this possible?" Gror began studdering, "I mean I know it's possible, of course it's possible, but how did it happen?"

"He was shot with an orc arrow in the back."

"Cowards!" grunted Gror, and anger swept through him. "No good, rotten, Orcs! They know any dwarf could easily dispatch one of them in melee, I bet someone like Balin could take on ten orcs! So, they have to -..."

"What is your business here in Moria?" Gror was cut off by Ori. You're doing a fine job, starting on the right foot with everyone today Gror. You embarrass yourself in front of Oin, and now you're making another respectable looking dwarf impatient because you're rambling. Now get on with it...

"I was sent by King Dain to gather news about the Moria colony. However, I fear only more woe will come to you before the end of the night. There is more pressing news and I must speak with the commander of the colony."

"Anything you have to say to Tror, you can say to me." Ori replied.

Gror nodded to try to make up for his ridiculous behavior earlier - if father were here he'd probably pretend he didn't know you. "A large Orc army is coming up the Silverlode. They will reach the East Gate by night fall. I don't know their numbers, I didn't think it important to find out, but there is a great host of them. I came across a dwarf, Oin he said his name was. He told me to hurry, warn Balin, and he went to check out the enemy himself."

"Tror is now in command. He went inside, with a precession, to announce Balin's death to the colony. Tell him this news immediately! He should not be hard to find. I will make sure the guards let you in."

Dimturiel 12-05-2008 12:40 PM

Bain had gone to the feast in high spirits. He had already persuaded himself that day was blessed and nothing could go wrong. He could hardly wait to tell Lord Balin he had finished his work. He wanted him to be the first to know. Well, Onli had been the first to know, but no one did beside him and no one should before lord Balin. That was what he was feeling before the message came, before the world seemed to turn upside down.

When he had first caught sight of Tror, Bain had assumed the latter had come to announce his lord’s arrival. He shifted in his chair, eyes glinting. So the moment had come, he thought.

But he had been wrong. The only thing that had come was a dreadful announcement, one he had never expected to hear, one he had never even imagined to be possible. Lord Balin was dead! He was dead and-how strange!-the world seemed unchanged, going on as if nothing had happened, as if such a death was not reason enough for all the lights to fade and darkness to fall over all. Bain barely understood the rest of Tror’s speech. It seemed to be coming from somewhere far away, a different world, perhaps.

Balin’s body was brought in and Bain entered the line of mourners so that he too could have one last look at his lord. He saw that many of those around them had tears in their eyes. Others were too stunned by disbelief to think of weeping. Bain felt the same way too. As he looked at his lord’s white face, Bain’s thoughts went suddenly to his forge and the now finished helmet that lay there. He shook his head, feeling tears in his eyes.

“He’ll never know now.” he mumbled. “And I thought he would be so pleased…”

Himaran 12-05-2008 10:08 PM

Ignoring his aching thumb, Dalin rushed to his quarters and changed into fresh linens. There was a celebration on hand at the Twenty First Hall, and he was missing it! The flustered dwarf only hoped that some of his favorite malt beer would be remaining upon his arrival. Essentially tripping over his own short legs, Dalin stumbled out of his room and hurried down rough hewn passage. As he neared the supposed festivities, however, a thought struck him. There was no shouting; in fact, he couldn't hear anything at all. Parties, and especially this feast, were generally boisterous, cacaphonous and the like. But on this occasion an eerie silence hung throughout the darkened corridors, as if all the mines had been hushed into quiet submission.

Dalin couldn't help but feel a little uneasy; it was becoming clear that something wasn't right. A creeping sensation tickled the hairs at the base of his neck, growing stronger by the second. Heart racing, he neared the large double doors with a mixture of blind dread and inquisitive curiousity. What could have happened? Had there been an attack? Were orcs invading the mines? Dalin paused as he reached for the handle; one way or another, he was going through that door. The dwarf took a heaving gasp of air, gathered his nerves, and pushed inward against the heavy stone frame. Responding to his reluctant touch, it creaked open, revealing the tragic scene beyond.

As he broke down in heavy sobs, Dalin couldn't help but fancy that he'd have given away both thumbs if only to avoid this horror.

Arry 12-06-2008 02:27 AM

Tív and Tíva shrank back from Trór, seeking the shelter of their mother’s skirt. A flimsy barrier at best against the piercing glance that had been aimed their way. Yet, they took comfort in the fragile protection it afforded them from his attention and his words.

'A generation that our leader gave his life to protect' they had heard Trór say '. . . a generation whose children will dwell in these halls after our bones have turned to dust . . .'

‘Why did he die for us? We did not want him to do that,’ they whispered into the soft dark folds of material. ‘It wasn’t our fault, was it Mami?’

Their Great Lord was dead. They understood that . . . impossible not to. There lay his body, still as stone, resting upon the shoulders of the bearers. His face seemed carved cold as it passed by; his sightless gaze cast up through the great mountains which arched up above it.

‘But it wasn’t our fault,’ Tív whimpered.

Vitr ushered his little family away from the procession. His own emotions were raw from this awful news of Balin’s death. Anger twined with deep grief at the manner and fact of his Lord’s death. He pushed these feelings aside for now, wanting to first deal with the more pressing need of his children for reassurance, for explanation.

He shepherded Lys and the twins to a quiet corner of the hall. The children huddled near their mother still, one hand each still grasping onto her skirt. Tív and Tíva’s eyes were wide as Vitr knelt down on one knee so that they were on a face to face level.

‘No need to be frightened,’ he told them softly, inviting each into the comforting embrace of his arms. ‘It wasn’t your fault. Not at all. It was one of our foe, a foul Orc and his fouler arrow which slew Lord Balin.’ The pinched, pale faces of the twins relaxed a little. Still their dark, deep-pooled eyes stayed fixed on their father’s face.

‘Orcs! Here?’ Tív asked, hastily wiping at his eyes and nose with the sleeve of his tunic. ‘Will they get us, too, Papi?’ Tíva’s tear glistened eyes flashed fearfully as she waited for her father’s response.

‘Not in here, not in the halls,’ Vitr assured his son. He drew his daughter in, hugging her close against him. ‘There were only a few, or so I understood from what Trór said. Outside the mountain. And they were swiftly taken care of. They cannot harm us any longer.’ Vitr looked up at Lys, his eyes clouded with concern. Where there were one or a few Orcs, they both knew, there would surely be many more as yet unseen.

He stood up, taking one each of their little hands in his larger ones. ‘Come,’ he urged them. ‘Let’s go back to our home. I’ll see you to the hallway and you can walk with Mami then to there. I should go back to the hall . . . see if there is anything I’m needed to do.’

The children walked between their parents until they came to the hallway leading to their home. Vitr kissed them each on the cheek as he left them to their mother’s care. And kissed Lys, too; a quick brush against her cheek and a few words murmured in her ear.

‘You make sure Mami gets home safely,’ he charged the twins. ‘I’ll be back very soon . . . before you go to sleep. I just need to take a little time to pay my last respects to Lord Balin.’ Vitr ruffled their hair affectionately.

‘And remember . . . don’t you worry about anything.’ He smiled and nodded as he spoke. ‘Papi will take care of it . . .’

Vitr watched a little while as the trio walked away from him. With a heavy heart he turned away and made his own way toward the chamber where Lord Balin was now laid. Grief trumped the previous anger that had vied with it. Tears threatened at the corners of his sad, downcast eyes as he trudged along. And as he drew near the empty shell of his Lord, those tears escaped, sliding down his cheeks unbidden, wetting his beard.

‘What will we do now . . . without your direction and your steady hand?’ Vitr murmured as he gazed on Balin’s face. ‘How will we keep our homes and hall secure? And my family, my Lord . . . how will I keep them safe?’

He shook his head sadly, knowing there would be no words of reassurance to allay his own fears. Vitr reached out his right hand and touched the sleeve of his dead Lord’s tunic. ‘Always your man, my Lord . . .’ he whispered, and then passed on quietly as another stepped up to take his place.

Kitanna 12-06-2008 02:44 PM

"Our lord, and mighty ruler, Balin has fallen!"

Kéni was among those who issued forth a roar of disbelief and horror. Balin dead? It hardly seemed possibly. He had been strong and full of life, a just and mighty dwarf. Kéni wanted to call Trór a liar and a power hunger miscreant. But that wasn't true or fair. Trór would not do anything to harm the colony or Balin.

“Of my friend I can say only this: of all the kings I have served, of all the dwarves I have known, he was the most...worthy!”

Kéni felt Iari clutch his hand. She squeezed it as hard as she could. Kéni looked down and saw his sister staring ahead, fear reflecting in her eyes. Balin's body was being led in, Kéni was not sure this was something little Iari needed to see. "Iari, do you want to go home and wait for Grandpa?" Iari shook her head slowly and allowed Kéni to lead her into the line with the other mourners.

Dead. Iari remembered that word very clearly from her early years. That was what they had said her father was. Now Balin was dead too. If those as strong and brave as her father and Balin could die who was to say one so weak and young as herself could survive?

Kéni held her hand all through the line. Upon seeing Balin at the foot of his throne Iari started to cry. That was how death looked? Though Balin wasn't twisted in agony and his eyes were closed as though sleep had taken him, there was something terrifying in his cold look. Kéni stroked Iari's hair and gently led her away so other mourners could pay their respects and so the little girl would not have to be exposed any further to the dead body of their fallen lord.

Kéni knew it was time to seek out Kénan. He was dying to know what had happened and if their grandfather knew anything. He also wanted to Iari home and as far away from Balin as possible.

Folwren 12-07-2008 05:44 PM

Kénan hung back away from the body, although he could have been among the first to pass it, as he had been just beside it. As yet, he had not looked upon the face of the dead lord. Finally, he stepped forward by the marble upon which he lay. He paused briefly and looked upon him. A deep sense of doom settled finally upon his breast. It had been hovering there, barely touching, ever since he had first seen lord Balin.

What did it mean? What doom was there beyond the death of Balin? Something awful - something far worse. This was only a beginning. Whether it was some gift of foresight given just briefly to this dwarf, or perhaps it was just the mood into which he had been cast, or perhaps it was his aging years and he felt his own death he felt - whatever it was, he felt that it was certain and more deaths than this one would be taken in the time to follow.

He bowed his head and stepped away from the stone.

He nearly ran into Vitr, a dwarf he knew very little. “Excuse me,” he said, and just about stepped past him. But something caused him to turn. “You have two little ones, have you not? Perhaps you’ve seen my two grandchildren - my granddaughter may have played with your little girl tonight, and I have not seen either of them.”

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