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Old 02-12-2009, 06:01 PM   #121
Durelin
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Kór

Kór listened in reverent silence as the older woman spoke. He marveled at the close contact she seemed to have had with Balin and how long she had known him. She seemed to have a certain affection for him that went beyond impersonal admiration. He ate up her words, knowing that they had great depth to them. These, if any, were words to remember, and certainly words to raise a glass to.

When he knew she had finished, Kór did raise his glass again before taking another sip. It only seemed right. In a way it felt like the least he could do. But then he thought for a moment, as the three sat in silence again, and decided to venture a question.

“Maybe, my lady, you could assist me in composing a ballad at least a little worthy of his greatness? If we have the time for such things…” He trailed off, recalling some of Kórin and Nali’s words.
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:14 PM   #122
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Kénan stood for a moment, drawn up in proud silence for a moment. He looked Trór evenly in the eye as he received the rebuke and punishment. He said nothing in reply, but he did not go until Trór had turned his back to him.

Without looking at any of the other council members, Kénan stepped down from the table and turned and walked towards the doors. He had no regrets, his pride and the knowledge that he was right held him from that, but wrath built inside him until it nearly blinded him. Yes, it was true, he had one thing to comfort him. Trór had heard him out and had decided to take his plan of action. This was a balm to his angry humiliation, but it was not enough. His fists clenched as he passed beyond the doors.

Where he might have gone to wait until his anger cooled is uncertain. His pace did not slacken and he turned neither to the right or to the left - he certainly did not intend to go home - but the sound of hurrying feet behind him and the voice of his grandson brought him up short.

“Grandfather!” Kéni called, his voice cracking and turning to a high pitch at the last part of the word. Kénan turned fiercely about. Kéni came to a stop just out of arm’s reach of him.

“What are you doing here?” Kénan demanded. “I told you to stay home, didn’ I?”
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Old 02-13-2009, 04:26 PM   #123
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Onli

“I must go. I cannot stay here; I must leave now, Onli!”

Nîsa seemed very frigthened, but at that point, Onli did not pay much attention to her anymore. He heard the loud voices from the council, and he also caught a word or two from before. He was shocked. Putting together all he heard this far, it finally became clear to him that this was not just a simple enthroning meeting. Something else was going on. Something wrong. Warriors. Defenses. Orcs.

Orcs.

Onli felt chill coming down his spine. He shivered. War was descending upon them, and this was a war meeting. He realised he indeed came at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And what more, it seemed that the Orcs were not content with murdering Balin. Now they wanted to dispose the rest of them as well. That meant battle. Chaos. No, it really made no sense to try to make acquaintances with the leaders right now, as they might quickly change again. If anybody else was able to read Onli's thoughts, he would have probably smiled at the fact that even in this situation, the Dwarf's mind so easily kept running on the calculative level. However, Onli did not smile. He was desperately thinking what to do in this situation. He still held in memory what happened five years ago, when they came to this place - how they had to fight, and even though for the rest of the Dwarves it was an easy battle, Onli did not particularly enjoy the memory of it. As far as he could remember, he managed to stab one goblin who got too close to him, but otherwise he tried to fill his place in the ranks and if possible, stay out of trouble. He was not particularly keen on repeating the experience anyway.

He was about to turn to Nîsa, with an unconscious intention to take Vriti from her: he needed to hold her to calm himself. But at the moment an old Dwarf rushed out of the council, his grey beard flowing and his brows knitted in anger. Kénan! He passed Onli, not noticing him standing beside the gate. At the same moment, a loud call was heard from behind. Where did this young boy come from?

"Grandfather!"

The old Dwarf and his grandson now stood just a little apart from Onli. He turned to look if Nîsa was still by his side.
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Old 02-13-2009, 05:01 PM   #124
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“What are you doing here? I told you to stay home, didn’ I?” Kénan was furious, but Kéni was prepared.

He puffed out his chest and stood up to his grandfather. "How could you treat Trór with such disrespect?" The young dwarf had never questioned Kénan's judgment in the past. Yet in the past things had never been so dangerous for their family or the community. "He's doing what's right and I think you know that, but you're just being as stubborn as always. Now you've brought shame onto our family and maybe doomed little Iari."

From the corner of his eye Kéni saw the form of a dwarf move about. He turned a little to see Onli standing by. So this had been one of the others eavesdropping. Kéni didn't know the older dwarf very well, but he did know Kénan. And Kéni was going to catch it for scolding his grandfather in front of his peers. His only hope was that Kénan saw Onli and decided to punish his grandson later.

"Onli," Kéni bowed his head slightly to him. "I'm sorry I didn't see you standing there."

Kénan was fuming, Kéni hoped Onli's presence could distract him until they returned home.

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Old 02-15-2009, 12:45 PM   #125
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Trór

True to his wish, Kórin stayed behind. Trór didn’t know what he would say to her exactly but anything had to be better than to let another of his new subjects go unfairly rebuked. Although Trór had spoken harshly to her his frustration was at Kénan. He had seen her before in the halls, but the memory of her had faded from his mind in the heat of the argument.

Kórin still had the same look of defiance on her face that she had had five years earlier; for some strange reason Trór didn’t hold it against her. Normally he would resent the fact that someone below him could face him with such audacity, but her very nature was different from the other women. She had that spark that Trór found worthy of his admiration; Kórin was a fighter.

"All has turned to vain thinking and mad decisions." Trór said this with certain level of annoyance. "These nobles would seek to use me as a shield against the enemy and than to supplant their wishes upon me. I do not agree with everything they have said, but for the sake of unity, I have accommodated them. At least it will keep me out of their blasted politics!" Trór sighed heavily and unfolded his arms. He didn't really care what this woman thought of his thoughts; he just needed to let that much out of him. Besides, she was not tainted by the ceremony of the nobility. Kórin might understand after all. What did it matter anyway?

“It’s Kórin, am I correct?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me, I have seen you before in the colony, what is your occupation? Are you any good with an axe?”

~~~~~~

Nisa

Onli was obviously distracted with the council, but Nisa didn’t hear anything, all she was focused on was the terrifying figures of Kénan and Trór. She wanted to run as fast as she could back to the safety of her home, but to do so would mean leaving Onli. The loneliness of the trek to the first hall was almost unbearable; nothing but shadows in the torchlight and large spaces of darkness in-between them. Why didn’t Onli say something? It would certainly make her decision easier to make.

Nisa had just made up her mind to head off as fast, but before she could do so torchlight could be seen at the end of the hall. Many loud shouts could be heard echoing off the walls, and the clanking of steel could be heard; soldiers! At the moment she noticed the soldiers, the angry figure of Kénan passed them by and all thoughts of running were erased from her mind. The best thing to do now was to stick with Onli where she wouldn’t bear the full brunt of someone’s wrath.

Onli was listening to Kénan, who was talking harshly to some child. The council seemed to be concluded; the nobles began to gather in groups, while some left in a hurry back towards the great hall. Onli looked at Nisa; she glanced at the council, where Trór was standing, and then returned her attention to Onli as if to ask: "what now?"

~~~~~~

Nali

The council had gone sour. Nali frowned at Trór’s choice; it was too harsh and showed only that the new lord was adamant in his ways; it will only breed fear through his subjects when Kénan spreads the news. Nali liked Kénan, they were both old and of like mind. Although they had different ways of reasoning, they were close to each other. Nali would always be loyal to Trór but he did not agree with him on many matters, Kénan was right in both of his strategies and it pained Nali to see him punished for it.

The council was adjourned and Ori, along with Loni, walked up to him.

“It is a sorry state of affairs.” Nali said in a low voice. “I shall go back to the hall and organize the rest of our fighting dwarves and send the miners here with all possible speed. Will ye both come with me?”
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Old 02-18-2009, 06:35 PM   #126
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Kórin

Kórin resolutely met Trór’s gaze, fuming with anger – he had called her naďve! She may be young but she wasn’t a fool… – and wondering why he had not yet thrown her out for expressing her opinions, as well. He had not refuted her accusation at all – obviously he could not. He had twisted the meaning of “treating his men as if they were children” to mean that he was their commander and so like their father. I said you were treating them as if they are children, not as your children…you blockheaded numbskull! Kórin thought. Either way, he was a bad parent.

She was dying to speak again, but Trór put an abrupt end to the council. Apparently he had abandoned his idea, at least for the most part. Kórin wondered, though, if fifty men was too large a band for simply a scouting party. She began to rise from her seat, wondering why she even bothered to return (not that she wasn’t happy to have seen Kénan call Trór a “blockheaded numbskull”), when Trór asked her to remain. She stood by her seat and waited, surprise suppressing most of her anger.

Perhaps for the first time since arriving at the council, Kórin really looked at this dwarf, considering him. She was surprised, again, to see a shining to his eyes, as if from forming tears, and she saw grief in his face. He looked haggard, and older than when she had first seen him just that day. She suddenly had no desire to speak or think any more ill of him.

Kórin listened with great interest as Trór seemed to speak to himself about the nobles and their “politics”. She supposed that was what she had glimpsed today, the workings of the leaders of Khazad-dűm. She wasn’t impressed either.

Once gain Kórin was caught off-guard, when Trór then addressed her and asked her about her ‘occupation’. And whether or not she was good with an axe? Well that, interestingly, was easier for her to answer. She hesitated before saying stiffly, “I am a…brewer. But,” she began to add with a smirk, “I believe I am better with an axe, or a mace, than at brewing ale, though my interest certainly lies in both.”

She no longer cared who this dwarf was or cared about what had just happened during the council. Kórin was interested.
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Old 02-19-2009, 12:08 PM   #127
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Trór

A smile slowly came over Trór’s face. He could t help but enjoy the way this coversation was heading: soon his purppose would be known. Trór hadn’t smiled all day and it felt good to have forgotten his cares

“A brewer?” Trór flung his head back and laughed. “So you are responsible for good ale that the colony has been blessed with! I have met some brewers in my time, mostly drunks and dotards, but, Kórin, you are different.

“You say that you are better with an axe than at brewing ale. I am giving you a choice to join the fight that’s coming; Mahal knows that I need every man I can find. I need fighters! This is not the time for council or hesitation, Kórin. Action is needed and I sense that you are that sort of dwarf. Will you join?”

Trór tried to read Kórin’s thoughts. However, the expression on her face looked blank. The proposition was tough to make, and she knew it.

“Know that I am not forcing my will on you, Kórin, as I soon must do to all the able bodied men of Khazad-dum. This is your choice, choose it carefully. I will not ask you again and I will not release yo from service until this crisis has abated, if you accept.”

A stiff breeze blew up the old road into Trór’s face and stole his attention to the sands of Mirrormere. Even though the lake was to far off to be seen, especially since the dark reign of night blinded everyone's vision. Trór thought that he could see its waters dancing in the moonlight. He could see dwarves scattered about the lake’s banks searching the precious roots and herbs that covered the area. On the horizon, dark clouds were gathering; Trór could hear screams of the woman and the horrendous laughter of the cruel invaders. The vision faded as the sound of many stomping feet reached his ears. He calmly turned to see the arrival of his troops. This was the core of what would stop the orcs.

The soldiers began to organize themselves in ordered lines; their huge statures belittled Kórin’s.
What are you thinking, Trór? A woman amidst the ranks of these warriors? Come to your senses! She has no training or knowledge in warfare; she will be kill in the first skirmish. Kórin will be better off with the other inexperienced dwarves. Your offer will kill her.

Although fighting woman were not out of the ordinary in dwarven culture, it was certainly not the normal thing to do. Nevertheless, those eyes of Korin’s held back a fire: an untamable spirit that reminded Trór of himself. If her steel would not prove worthy, then that would be the price she would pay. It was no concern of his if she died. Hundreds will die before this engagement would cease.

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Old 02-20-2009, 04:21 PM   #128
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Onli

Nîsa returned Onli's gaze, but at the moment Kénan's grandson addressed him.

"Onli, I'm sorry I didn't see you standing there."

Onli was not exactly happy to be dragged out into the light at that very moment. But now that the boy had pointed him out, he stepped out of the shadows, polishing the front of his vest. Facing heated Kénan, he tried to put on his most comforting smile. He raised his other hand in a soothing gesture.

"You should not mind me. I am just passing through with Nîsa," he glanced into the room, noticing Trór. It was perhaps not wise to talk about his original intentions to coming here now in front of Kénan, he thought. Besides, Onli was still unsure what to do now: whatever the situation of the colony was right now, it was certainly unpleasant; however, upon looking at Trór, he started to wonder once again whether it won't be useful after all to talk to him now. He has already come this far! And now, perhaps, when Trór has to worry about the war, he might give ear to somebody who will be able to manage the administration of the colony... And who knows, if Onli will be granted any status, then perhaps even if the current leader is dead later, the status will be preserved.

Onli shuddered. It was not right after all to think like this. He felt a bit uneasy. Then he noticed that the two are still watching him. He got lost in his thoughts but for one or two breaths, but he realised he did not finish what he was saying.

He bowed. "I greet you, venerable master Kénan," he said. He tried to recall what Kénan's grandson's name was, but could not come to any conclusion.
"And you too, my young friend," he decided to avoid trying to name the boy. "It was truly not my intention to disturb you in any way."

"We just had some business to attend around here," Onli continued with the comforting smile. To support the feeling of "we", he glanced over his shoulder at Nîsa and smiled. "I hope you will excuse us." He felt no need to rouse the feelings inside Kénan concerning the just passed council. He hoped that Kénan will just get past it and leave them. It was uncertain however what he might do in a mood like this.
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:15 AM   #129
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Ori

"I shall go back to the hall and organize the rest of our fighting dwarves and send the miners here with all possible speed. Will ye both come with me?"

Ori gave a thin smile thin to his old friend. Organising stuff, adminstrating things like this, it sounded like stuff Balin had had him do. It was something he could do, he would know what Balin would have wanted him to do in a situation like this. His smile widened to a wry grin but there was sadness in his eyes.

"I will come and do whatever is needed to be done."

Before Lóni could give his answer to the question, Ori added another question: "Has Trór said, to either of you, a word of who will remain here and be in command of the civilians while the warriors are fighting? He needs a trusted man there, but someone he can spare from the battlefield."

Ori's eyes rested on Náli. He was an old and a wise Dwarf, someone Trór would happily trust with a duty like that, but on the other hand Ori wondered if their new lord would rather have the hero of the Battle of the Five Armies on the battlefield and name some more surprising candidate to guard the colony instead.
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Old 02-22-2009, 03:32 PM   #130
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Lóni

"Has Trór said, to either of you, a word of who will remain here and be in command of the civilians while the warriors are fighting? He needs a trusted man there, but someone he can spare from the battlefield."

Lóni shook his head. "As far as I can tell, Ori, Trór has not pondered this matter this far, or at least has not voiced his considerations. I find it unlikely that he just omitted thinking of it at all - but it is possible that his attention is focused on the more pressing matters right now."

He rubbed his undamaged eye once more. He was thinking on how should he put what he had on his mind to his brother and Ori. He was saddened by the thought that some Dwarves might consider Trór a bad leader and think wrongfully about him, dismissing him in their thoughts as somebody either completely unworthy or foolish at the least. But Lóni was aware of the fact that there were many things to manage and the young leader just had to suddenly face too much at once. Was it any different for Thorin when he first assembled his company to go to Erebor? Was it any different for Balin? And who knows how Thrór's folk thought about him first when he came to Erebor?

Even though he understood Kénan's displeasure about the situation, he considered the outcome most unfortunate. Kénan should have been milder, but also Trór should have not reacted so forcefully. Lóni shook his head once more.

"I think we should try to help our new leader, wherever we can lend a hand," he said. "If he did not think deeply about naming a leader for the civilians - and who can blame him - should we not remind him of it? Or, even better, try to think of a good candidate, to help him even more? If there was no need for my presence on the battlefield, and if there was a need, I could accept the task, of course." Even though he was not keen about such an idea, Lóni thought that if nobody was going to offer his service, and if Trór gave his trust to nobody else, he might as well take the burden.

"But I think Trór himself made it clear what he is going to do and he is likely expecting from us," he looked at his brother, "to stand by his side. Perhaps we can look for somebody?"

Lóni fell silent and looked at his companions.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:58 PM   #131
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Nali

Nali could not guess what his brother, Lóni, meant by the phrase: “I think Trór himself made it clear what he is going to do and he is likely expecting from us: to stand by his side.” The statement seemed to be directed at him, yet he did not know whether to take it as encouragement or a subtle chastizement. Lóni’s customary quietude made it difficutl to discern the nature of the remark. Nali did not pursue the subject further. Indeed, even if Nali’s mind had not been pressed with more urgent matters he still would not have spoken on the matter.

“I personally hope to have no command of the civilians. Some dwarfs inspire loyalty and devotion; whilst others, like me, mearly respect. My place is beside a leader’s side. That is why I have spent my life carrying out orders instead of giving them. The task of leading the commoners in battle is important, but this task must fall on another besides me. If asked I will not accept and if chosen I will no lead; my place is by my lord.

“I agree with what thou hast said brother, but I must advise a word of caution. Trór is a proud fellow and still holds the ideal that his word is law; he has not yet becme acustomed to the will of the council. Instead he intends to govern as a general governs his troops: through strength and discipline. This unrest amongst the nobles has been Trór’s fault so far. However, we may yet be able to help our new lord without wounding his pride. Pherhaps we should suggest the mater to Trór before we bring an example of a subordinent forward?”

The idea of approaching Trór rekindled the memory of Onli and Nisa. Nali suddenly turned in a circle to see if he could spot the pair, and indeed he did, along with a fuming Kénan. By chance, Onli spotted Nali looking at him. Nali widened his eyes and nodded his head in Trór’s direction; he hoped that Onli would sieze this chance.

“Oh, I am sorry my friends,” Nali said after recieving two queer stares from Lóni and Ori. “Some commoner wished to speak to Trór. He claims to have some experience in managing affairs of state.” Nali did not realize the irony of his statement and the subject that the three were discussing.
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Old 02-24-2009, 03:54 PM   #132
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Kórin

Kórin smirked and bowed her head slightly at the compliment, though she did not think her ale had made it to any noble’s tables. Any smile faded as she considered his offer. As soon as Trór had ordered the regular army to duty, Kórin had been prepared to hear that summons as well – though not for any commander’s sake. But now, now that it was an offer placed before her, and now that it was a matter of being in service to this dwarf…she hesitated.

As she considered, something that Trór had said clicked into place in her mind. “…as I soon must do to all the able bodied men of Khazad-dum…”

“I will join you,” Kórin said slowly, preparing her next words as she spoke. “Though I wish to ask of you one thing… If I serve you in this crisis, as you called it, may I do so taking my brother’s place in mandatory service? I am the fighter; he has a great mind as I never will.”

She had more to say, but had said enough. She would not get any more sentimental.
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:40 PM   #133
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Kénan growled something in reply to Onli's nervous mumble of words before reaching out and snagging Kéni by the collar. "You just mind your own business, young fellow," Kénan said as Onli turned away. "Mind it and you should be just fine." With that, he turned, pushing Kéni in front of him.

The walk back home must have been a miserable affair for Kéni. Kénan did not say anything, but the grip on the back of the boy's neck said enough. When they reached home, and the thick door was shut behind them, Kénan finally let him go. He turned him sharply about to face him.

"Stubborn old fool, am I? Who brings shame on my family? Shame?" His voice was terribly stern. "And what do you call speaking against your Grandfather in a public place? Not shameful?"

"Not when you deserve it," Kéni answered defiantly.

"You know better than to speak disrespectfully to me, Kéni," Kénan said in a low voice.

"Respect has to be earned," Kéni said. "It can be lost even then, and you've lost all the respect you ever earned tonight!"

“You are too young to understand such things. You will understand in time. If you did understand, you would have known that had any other dwarf addressed me in public and called me a fool and a shame to my family because I spoke up in a time of danger to save lives, I would have laid into him like you’ve never seen me. That dwarf wouldn’t walk for a week, if he walked again.” He began to unbuckle his belt. “And I can promise you that you at least will not be sitting for a week.”

When it was over, and Kéni was allowed to turn about and face him again, Kénan said:

“I did not speak with myself or my family and mind, lad. It was for the greater good of the colony. I did not bring shame upon our name, for Trór has heard me and will take the advice I gave him. I did what I thought best to do, and though it was bought with a price, I accomplished my goal.” Kéni’s eyes still flashed with reproach. “I did what had to be done, boy!” Kénan said. “You will understand, in time. Now get off to bed.”

Kéni obeyed, but he had hardly lain there five minutes before his Grandfather’s thundering voice called him out again. He crept around the corner of his door post with a shrinking feeling and hanging head. Finally, he looked up to face the bristling and wrathful Kénan.

“Where is Iari?”

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Old 02-25-2009, 03:27 PM   #134
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"Where is Iari?

Kéni sat up in his bed. He was so angry and frustrated with his grandfather he hadn't thought to check on Iari. He threw a cloak over his shoulders. "She was fast asleep when I left!"

"Where do you think you're going?" Kénan growled.

"I'm going out to find Iari. You can be the one to stay behind this time!" Kéni knew he would receive the business end of his grandfather's belt again, but he was more concerned about Iari.

He ran out of the house, not waiting to see how Kénan would stop him. "IARI!" He cried as she hurried along. No doubt his voice was waking those who had tried to get some shut eye after the day's events, but he cared not. "IARI! Where are you?" Hot tears were starting to sting his eyes. He couldn't live alone with Kénan.

Kéni banished all thoughts of death and despair. The orc armies weren't roaming the streets and Iari wouldn't have wondered far. But he couldn't completely banish those thoughts. His sister was his life. "IARI!"

"Kéni?" He breathed an immense sigh of relief upon hearing her little voice in the shadows. Iari came out from the shadows near the weaponsmith's.

"Where were you?" Kéni pulled her into a bone crushing hug. "Where were you?"

"I didn't want to be alone so I went to find someone who would let me stay with them."

"You're going to catch it from Grandfather." Kéni finally realeased his sister. He took her by the hand. He knew they were going to get it from Kénan, but perhaps he could shield her from the worst of the yelling.

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Old 02-26-2009, 07:05 PM   #135
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Nali

After he had brushed the subject of Onli and Trór into the back of his mind, Nali went on to ask Ori a question about what the dwarf had just said.

“Tell me Ori, what dost thou mean by inquiring about who will command the citizens whilst the warriors are away? Thou pose the question as if the battle will be far away, while in truth Trór has consented to have the Orc’s beat upon our defenses.” Nali gave worried knowing look at his brother and then back at Ori.

“Do you think that Trór will ignore the council?” Nali leaned deeper and spoke nearly in a whisper. “Thou knowest him better than either of us, Ori. Do you know, or suspect something that we don’t?”

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Old 02-27-2009, 12:41 PM   #136
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Bain soon realized he could not do anything. That was a puzzling thing to him as it had never happened before. Usually he was able to work at any time and nothing that happened outside would bother him. But it was not so then. It was not like that now, however. It was not that he could not hold the hammer in his hand, what bothered him was that he could no longer work without thinking of anything, his mind bent only at the task at hand. Perhaps he should not be surprised, he told himself. What had happened was too big to be simply put aside.

Frustrated, Bain tossed his hammer. The sound of it clattering as it fell made him strangely uneasy. It seemed almost like an omen. Bain shook his head vigorously as soon as the thought came into his mind. He was not the one to think about omens and other such nonsense.

Not quite knowing what he was doing, Bain headed back to the hall. Company, that was what he needed – the presence of others around him, even if no words were to be said. But when he reached the hall he found that it was almost empty. Of course, he thought, many would not be there as they were now probably busy deciding what they were all going to do next. Bain thought idly for a moment who would now take Balin’s place, but even that thought passed quickly from his mind. He would find out soon enough. No need to trouble himself with that yet, he told himself as he sat down at one of the tables.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:57 PM   #137
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Trór and Kórin

Trór was truly startled by Kórin’s request. Did she think her brother was useless? Such things could not be tolerated-it was his duty to fight- how could her brother be as cowardly as not to fight? Yet Trór was not wrathful, something in Kórin’s voice stemmed the surmounting anger that he felt at hearing such a request. It was almost was as if she had pleaded with him to save a life. Nevertheless, her brother would fight if he could help it.

“And who am I to grant such a request? I command the masses, but the masses do not command me. Every cowardly Dwarf will be seeking this grant if I am to give you such a boon. Am I to give a pardon for your brother simply because you are of a higher quality than him?” Trór spoke in a steady calm voice (he thought Kórin would respond hotly if he would respond in any other way) and paced the back and forth in front of her, gesturing with his hands as he spoke. “Five years ago he fought to reclaim Khazad-dum; now he must fight to keep it. What dreams he has made, what wealth he has accumulated while here I cannot say, but if he intends to stay as an honorable citizen and not send others to protect the women and children then he best pick up his axe and fight!”

Kórin’s blood boiled hotter than ever at Trór’s remarks. She did not care one ounce about how he treated his troops, or whether he lead the peoples of Khazad-dűm to their destruction through his arrogant nature – but he dared to insult her brother, all but call him a coward?

It was all Kórin could do to force herself to speak rather than scream at this dwarf. “He did not make this request, I did. And I made it because he is the better – far better – dwarf than I, and deserves better than to die as a result of your pride or plain incompetence.”

Kórin had not really mindfully set out to insult him, but the words “pride” and “incompetence” came nonetheless. Whether or not he was a competent military commander had not really been at question – she could not speak one way or another on the matter – but it was a simple jab at Trór which her anger apparently could not resist making.

“You will do well to remember to whom you are speaking to!” Trór’s patience had met its end. Prideful was a description that he could abide with; in fact, he often described himself as a proud Dwarf: proud of his leaders, proud of his soldiers; proud of his kin. Incompetent, however, was the last insult that he would accept from Kórin passively.

“I will not grant you this boon, not only for your lack of respect for me: the only Dwarf who has the authority to grant your request, but also for your coward brother. If he is a better dwarf, “a far better dwarf” as you put it, then he will fulfill his duty alongside myself and other brave Dwarves.

“Honor is the very essence of life to a true man and he would not risk losing his honor as a consequence of shirking from duty. But why do I speak to you of honor and duty? You are a woman and do not understand such things. If you had an ounce of either honor or duty you would not think of suggesting such a cowardly thing, unless you know it is what your brother would want.

“Therefore, I will grant the opposite of your wish. I will find your brother and personally see that he fights in the vanguard of the army. If he is a “far better dwarf” than yourself, and cherishes virtuous honor, he will accept the assignment readily. If not, however, then he will have your impetuous words to thank for it.”

Trór paused for a moment, wondering whether to punish Kórin as well. Trór had no idea on how cruel he had just been to her, and that his punishment was more than enough. Perhaps the punishment would not have been as harsh if Trór had issued the sentence to Kór in person; however, the effects of issuing it to a relative of his, especially someone close, had not occurred to Trór until he saw the look of pain and anger on Kórin's face. He recognized his mistake in doing so but did not show it, especially since he thought his judgment was just.

“I leave in six minutes,” said Trór somberly, “if you still intend to come then you best be ready.” He waited for Kórin to leave. There was nothing more to be said and he did not expect her to join him afterwards.

Kórin clenched her fists so tightly that even her short nails dug into her palms. Every part of her wanted to give him a bloody nose at the least, but for some reason she did not. She was not sure why – she could not think of any consequences she might be afraid of. He had already flung enough insults at her – and he could do that all day as far as she was concerned – but beyond that he had already done the worst he ever could.

“You…you despicable--!” she all but screamed. “You will not last long with enemies both within and outside Khazad-dűm. I can only hope you are not a coward and lead your troops from the front!”

She spat on his beard before turning and storming down the hall, forcing her way past some dwarves still gathered near the doors.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:19 PM   #138
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When the council was finished, Frar retired to the doorway, waiting for Tror to finish speaking with Korin. He would keep himself close at hand, for he knew that Tror would need him soon enough - perhaps even more than Tror himself realized. Frar often felt that Tror underestimated him. It was not unusual. Indeed, many dwarves saw him only as the hearty warrior, but behind that black beard and scarred face, Frar kept a keen mind. He was generally wise and could be even cunning at need, particularly in battle. But, as a hero of Frar's youth had said, "Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much."

Frar had said hardly a word during the council. He was no politician and he had no taste for politicians, for those who were content to talk and would sacrifice anything for the sake of that idol, policy. Dwarves gone wrong, he would think. Dwarves are fighters; debate suits us not. Like Tror, Frar found such extensive talk and compromise exhausting. He would far rather take orders or give them - in fact, he would rather take orders he disagreed with than sit and talk about them.

He stirred angrily several times throughout the heated debate and nearly spoke once or twice, but he restrained himself. Ordinarily, he would have been Tror's fiercest ally, this council was one battle Tror would have to fight on his own - if he could not win the respect of his dwarves alone and today, he would never do so.

So, when Korin spat on Tror's beard, it was all he could do to keep himself from lashing out. As she brushed by him in the doorway, he clenched his jaw and followed her with burning eyes as she walked away. It was true that you couldn't please everyone, but an insult of this magnitude to a leader was unthinkable. Did Korin not realize that the colony was effectively in a state of war? Discipline was non-negotiable, and, indeed, it was only his desire to preserve the unity of the colony that kept Frar from exploding at Korin right then and there. He would give her this one free; but the very next insubordinate dwarf to cross his path was going to have his (or her) face broken. The colony would be better off without that kind of hot-head anyway.

He looked back gravely at Tror, but kept his righteous fury to himself.

"I wouldn't count on your ale being very good in the near future, if I were you. In fact, if you'd rather not be poisoned, you might stick to water."

He spoke jestingly, because he knew that they did not have to discipline Korin properly - not now, on the eve of battle. He also knew that Tror would need all the encouragement he could get now and in the days to come.

"I said very little during the council, Tror - I am not one for words like Balin was - but I want you to know that I will stand by your mind in this. And the next time one of your dwarves speaks against you, I'm going to knock his head off. Or hers," he finished, looking back the way Korin had gone and massaging his massive fist. "But for now, give me a task. We've precious little time to make ready."

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Old 03-09-2009, 04:20 PM   #139
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Trór tightened his jaw as Kórin spat upon his braided beard, yet he did not flinch or say a word; in fact, Trór was pleased. Kórin’s insult would be a serious matter under different circumstances, but it could be ignored-she was just rabble. The insult showed Trór that his punishment was harsh and that was good. He was rid of her, and a dwarf would soon be purged of his cowardice, a good start. Two hot heads down, how many more would there be? He looked down and wiped the spit from his beard.

When he looked up, Trór was surprised to see his friend Frar suddenly appear before him. Frar looked angry and focused when he spoke, but Trór was surprised to hear the wit and humor in his voice: good joke; a rare thing from Frar. Trór chuckled to himself, knowing that it was Frar’s subtle way of encouraging him. Frar went on to explain why he had not spoken during the council, but there was no need to explain, Trór understood perfectly well why Frar hadn’t spoken: warriors make lousy diplomats. Anyway, Trór was glad to hear that Frar would not stay quiet in the future; Trór needed help from his friends.

Frar stood half a head taller than Trór and was visibly as tough. Through Trór, Balin kept the colony safe, and through Frar, Trór accomplished the task. Both warriors were strict disciplinarians and perfectionists, which is why Balin chose them for their jobs. Trór was harsher and more rapid in his affairs, while Frar was subtle, wiser, and a little more cautious than his commander-their differences were what made them strong as a team. In a whole, Frar's advice was usually not accepted well (a fault of Trór's); however, his advice usually shaped the direction that the war council would take. Frar wasn't one to hold grudges against his opponents. Even when strategies would turn out in ways that he opposed Frar would dedicate himself to the strategy with as much determination as if it was his.

Even though Frar was older, Trór had always been superior in rank. Even under the rule of Dain Ironfoot, Trór had been amongst the king’s closest advisers. Unlike most dwarves in similar circumstances, Frar did not hold Trór’s youth against him. As gratitude, Trór shared the command of the army with him as much as possible. Frar was the superior in age and Trór in rank, and they loved each other for it. Frar was his closest friend and adviser, now they would be even closer.

“Indeed, no time to lose.” Trór was roused by Frar’s enthusiasm. Leave it to his old war hound to stir him up. He could read Frar’s thoughts as clearly as he had spoken them: ‘Take care of your new subjects. Let me find the Orcs, say the word and I’ll kill them all.’ But Trór knew Frar would never dare to ask such a thing. They started to walk briskly toward the arranged troops, who were all deeply stirred by Balin's death; their rage was evident in their eyes and clenched fists.

“We will take sixty of our finest and fastest soldiers. Your dwarves are the best trained and equipped to move fast; therefore, the majority will from your command. Forty is a good amount and I will take twenty of my own. You will take the point; I will bring my dwarves no less than twenty paces behind yours.”

The sixty dwarves were already in file before Trór and Frar reached them. Forty of Frar’s and twenty of Trór’s; the officers were well trained, they knew what to expect. The leading officer stepped forward and bowed slightly to Frar and then Trór.

“My lord,” the officer said grinning, “the soldiers are ready.”

Trór faced and leaned over to Frar. “Our objective is to find Óin and the front of the Orc army. We will go as far as the ground I had chosen on the map. If we haven’t found Óin by then, we must assume that he has found his way back to here and we must do the same.” Frar nodded. “Use your own discretion on whether or not to engage the enemy,” Trór added with a grin. He knew that it was against what he led the council to believe, but the soldiers were itching for a fight, as well as Frar. They shook hands before they departed, Trór went to the rear and Frar took the point.

Trór’s soldiers hushed as he approached. Individually, they were the toughest warriors in the army, remnants of Trór’s old command. They all wore heavy steel hauberks and helmets that protected their noses and eyes. Their boots, like Trór’s, were fashioned with iron plates after the manner of the Iron Hills' dwarves. All of them a wielded a heavy doubled handed mattock and protected their backs with shield, which was sturdily slung on their back. Some of the warrior’s beards were braided to keep from getting knotted, while others simply let their beards grow wild. Their faces were whether worn-not old but experienced-there were no young dwarves under Trór’s command. They were loyal, hard, and feared, traits of their race and occupation. Veterans, they were all veterans.

His shield and battle axe were brought to him; Trór slung them on his back. His spear had been placed to the side at the beginning of the council and was now picked up again. Trór thrust it upwards as if to test its effectiveness, produced a cheer from his troops. His helmet was placed in his hands, it was modeled similar to the helmets of his soldiers except that his was gold laced on the rims and bore the emblem of a raven on its crest; it was a magnificent specimen of dwarven craft. The brisk wind that had been blowing during the council had brought clouds to shield the light of the moon and stars. Trór lifted his gaze heavenward. It looked like it was going to rain, a common occurrence in the winter months. Good, the rain will render our march inaudible. Trór slowly positioned his helmet on his head and waited for Frar to commence the march.

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Old 03-15-2009, 05:49 PM   #140
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“Tell me Ori, what dost thou mean by inquiring about who will command the citizens whilst the warriors are away? Thou pose the question as if the battle will be far away, while in truth Trór has consented to have the Orc’s beat upon our defenses.”

“Do you think that Trór will ignore the council? Thou knowest him better than either of us, Ori. Do you know, or suspect something that we don’t?”


Ori offered Náli a dry smile. "Which question should I reply first?"
"It hardly matters," Lóni replied for his brother.
"As long as you reply both," Náli added, smiling just a little.

"Well then," Ori said. "I will reply the easier one first. What I meant was simply that surely Trór will want someone he trusts here." He did his best not to add "at least Balin would have managed it so". It was Trór who was the leader now and they would have to live with it. Or die with it, Ori thought, but rebuked himself for such a thought.

"I mean... we all know it is possible something unexpected will occur. Although it's hardly probable, our troops can be beaten totally with just a few soldiers escaping. Who will manage everything if Trór and all his trusted men fall? Likewise, something may occur here. If there was an accident, or a secret attack through the mines, or even an upraising, who would see to it? Not Trór himself as he will have plenty to think about at the battlefield."

Trying to keep his tone as neutral as possible, Ori continued, "Do you think Trór will appoint someone, or think it's unnecessary? Should we ask him?"

He scracthed his beard. "But, let me first reply the other question as well. I will be entirely honest with you now and say that I do not know. I... I used to see him differently." Ori had never been good with people and now he was troubled. He was not the right man to judge others' actions. "Trór respected and loved Balin, and admired him to no end. He knows Balin would never have disrespected the council by ignoring it. But I think... Trór is of a different kind himself. He does not have Balin's patience, nor his..." Ori stopped abruptly. He would not say "wisdom" like he would have wanted. "His thoughtfulness."

"He will do as he himself sees fit and listen to his councellors if they agree with him." Ori paused. He had sworn to respect Trór as his liege and he truly did. "But maybe these are qualities that are required in a leader in these troubled times."
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:29 PM   #141
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Trór and Onli

While talking to Kénan and the boy, Onli caught Náli's eye. The Dwarf nodded towards Trór. The new Lord of Khazad-dűm was now preparing to set out, obviously. Was this really the best moment to step in?

But Kénan and the kid have already rushed away. Onli's thoughts swirled fast inside his head. Was it now or never? What happens if Trór goes out and gets killed? Onli was in a very advantageous situation right now, being very close to the leader. Also, did Náli speak to Trór about him? Onli did not know if he managed to, but in either case, he seemed to - albeit somewhat doubtfully at first - be willing to give Onli his chance. And what if Trór did not return? Onli would have to go through all of this again by himself with the assumed next leader. On the other hand, if he earned the leader's trust now, it will be easy to keep his place even if something happened to Trór.

He decided. Forgetting about Nîsa completely, he strode forwards around the nobles, nodding at Náli, making a gentle excuse when slipping around a group of five rough-looking Dwarves in heavy armor, and at last coming before Trór. The armored Dwarf looked at him curiously, Onli bowed deeply.

"Hail to you, Trór, Lord of Khazad-dűm," he said. "Let me wish you well and may Mahal's blessings go with you for the task you have been appointed with." He waited for a few heartbeats and then continued.

"Perhaps this is not the best of situations to come to you, but I know that with this noble order, much responsibility lies with you to continue in Balin's footsteps, and that this is a heavy burden to be laid upon a single Dwarf." Once again, he made a short pause, so that Trór has time to understand and consider all his words.

"But as one as loyal to you, Lord Trór, as I was to Balin, and as I was in the service to King Dáin. I wish to offer you my help in governing the daily affairs of this colony, especially now, as the duty calls you to care especially of the grave danger outside our gates."

Trór stared at the younger Dwarf with a callous expression. “And who might you be?” The question was posed as a means to get rid of the Dwarf. Trór found it quite annoying how he was constantly being pestered by inconsequential simpletons. In short the phrase meant, ‘Who are you? Can’t you see I’m busy?’ However, upon pondering the nature of the Dwarf before him, Trór saw a pair of mischievous and knowledgeable eyes, resilient to the fact that their pleas were being disregarded.

The young Dwarf’s speech had been ineffective until now-in the silence. Trór had been casting occasional sidelong glances at the Dwarf during the speech, but now Trór locked the Dwarf in a stare. Occasionally, the eyes would look down, but they always came back to meet Trór’s own firm gaze. He had seen that knowledge and toughness in Kénan.

“You speak as if you were a relative of Náli.” He paused again to examine the Dwarf’s stature: weak in comparison to what he expected. None of Kénan’s muscular traits. “You were loyal to Balin and King Dáin?” The Dwarf nodded vigorously-tongue tied. “And what do you know of the affairs outside our gates? Eavesdropping on the council, have you?” Trór intentionally framed this question as a way to test the Dwarf’s wit and honesty. To add to the intensity of the question, he faced the Dwarf and lowered the spear (which had been grasped so that it stood vertically in his hands) so that it was pointing in the red bearded Dwarf’s general direction. Several snickers could be heard from the warriors behind Trór, amidst the wind and the shouting of the officers.

But Onli did not falter. He already knew whom is he talking to.

"Nay, Lord Trór, I was not eavesdropping," he said, trying to sound humbly, and deciding to play a clever one. "I cannot overlook the way you and your soldiers have been preparing, and I concluded that Balin's foul murder and the sudden council must be related in some way. And I have been talking to noble Náli, who is no cousin of mine, but he was so kind to hear my suggestion. It was indeed partly on his recommendation that I dared to approach you. My name is Onli, and perhaps you have not heard of my service to Balin or Dáin, as such things were of no concern to a warrior like you - they were of little honor. But even here, during the last five years and especially in our beginnings, when we were short of supplies and tools, it was me who took care of many of the bargains with Erebor." That was not full truth, for Onli had no official position in mantaining contact with Dáin's traders, and he sent away more than he brought in, but who was Trór to know that?

Onli spoke cunningly, but Trór was disappointed to hear that Onli did not have the courage to admit that he was in fact spying. He even took Trór’s jest about Náli seriously! This Onli seemed a very stiff fellow, no sense of humor or sarcasm (especially since Trór though his comparison of Náli and Onli was funny).

The council had been secret. Nobody knew of it, save several of the royal bodyguards and they were sworn to secrecy in everything they do. Onli had mentioned that he spoke to Náli; did he bring Onli as well as Kórin? If so why did Onli shirk from attending the council (an obviously wiser choice than Kórin had made)? These questions, and others, flashed in Trór’s head, but he need not ponder them long. Trór’s gut instinct was that Onli had lied, however clever it had been.

Onli’s favorable character, and resilient eyes, soon became detestable. More and more, Trór began to see through Onli as he talked of his trade exploits. Trór was bred for war but he was Balin’s right hand, it was his duty to know of such things. Besides, it did not tak a marketing expert to know that the trade between Erebor and Khazad-dűm had diminished, and in some cases ceased, as expansion in the mines and in the far lost corridors of the city took place. The messenger Gror was the first direct link sent from King Dáin in the five years of separation. If Onli was in charge of trade relations he was doing a poor job.

“An expert in trade are you? Tell me, what good is a merchant to me when duty calls for warriors to defend our city? If what the messenger Gror says is true, then there will be a siege. We will be completely sealed off from everything, and I don’t expect that there will be much of a trade with the Goblins, unless be ill intended blows.“

“As to your spying, I don’t believe Náli would have led you here, no not someone like you. In which case, you have little reason to be here. Balin may have smiled on subjects spying on his councils...” this part was, of course, sarcasm, “but I will not bear it any longer!“ With a wave of his hand two guards came forward and promptly seized Onli. The Dwarf was frightened. What was this? It flashed through his mind how, just a while ago, the new leader sent Trór away - but Onli did not expect to be treated that way.

“My wrath is more easily won than my favor, as you will soon learn. Did you really think I would promote you to a higher level of power based on your word? If you were a truly loyal to Balin you would not have come with attempts to domineer me. I see lust for power in your eyes, and that is dangerous when you say that you merely want to do a service to me, such a Dwarf has no intention of serving. Take him to the dungeons!”

Even more apparent expression of horror appeared in Onli's face, but Trór did not finish his sentence before he felt something pulling and pinching at his. The voice that followed left him dumbfounded.

“Stop, please stop! Hear me out, cousin!” It was Nîsa. Confound the girl, what was she doing?

The guards halted, waiting for Trór to send them on or to stay their task. He motioned for them to return Onli to his original spot; they did, but still maintained their hold on him.

“What is the meaning of this, Nîsa?” The fury in his eyes was enough to cause Nîsa to quake and look down. Nîsa was shaking, but she swallowed and bravely spoke.

“Was the one who brought Onli. He comforted me in my sorrow for Balin, and you came up in the discussion that followed. I told him that I saw you head back here. When I led him to the First Hall we saw Náli and he counciled us to speak to you after the council. I swear that I had no idea about the trouble I was leading him into or I would not have brought him here. Even if you think him a fool, fools can prove their worth and loyalty through little tasks.”

Onli would have been no doubt offended by Nîsa's final words, but for now, he was too frightened to actually mind that. Trór’s expression softened, his face wasn’t draw as tight and wrinkles appeared on his forehead. The guards unhanded Onli and left, after Trór commanded them with the simple look of his eyes.

“Well spoken cousin. You should have spoken of this, Onli. Too much talk can give one the wrong impression. Being truthful requires telling the truth, it has nothing to do with not telling it. I will expect that much of you next time.“

“For the present, you will be under Náli’s charge. I have an absent seat in my council ring; in good time and with equally good service, you may come to fill it.”

Although Trór did not give an outright apology, he did grant Onli his wish of serving his Lord. Náli was an important figure and had advised Onli on how to go about obtaining such a position. It was only fitting that Náli should instruct Onli. This wasn’t the first time that Náli’s mouth had given him and extra task.

Considering what Onli had just been through, most would think Trór’s boon small in comparison. However, Trór considered himself incredibly generous in the matter. He had just granted Onli (a proven liar in Trór’s mind) a position to one of the richest dwarves in the colony (the richest being Ori and Balin) and certainly one of the most influential. The incredible option of nobility was even given, a spectacular opportunity. Trór hoped that his rash action had scared Onli into line. Indeed, Onli could consider himself lucky, Trór would not have granted anything if his temper had not been up. And lucky the Dwarf indeed felt - after he recovered from the first shock, he realised he could have hardly hoped the meeting with Trór going better.

He had no doubt now that Trór is a rash, stupid and potentially dangerous warmonger, just as Onli feared he was. However, he proved to be generous enough and, in Onli's opinion, not clever enough for his own good. The fear of the previous few moments was gone, and Onli, being a cunning Dwarf, was already reflecting on what he could learn from this encounter. Sure, he has to learn to work with this new Lord of Moria. But Onli was quick to learn from his experiences. Trór was potentially dangerous and explosive and he had to be handled with care. It was actually a new challenge for Onli to learn to cope with people like him. Metal-brains, soldiers who spend all their days on the battlefields or making plans and, in his opinion, completely uneducated in the ways of mundane life. But Onli had to work with various people during his life, he was certain that this won't be any difference.

He turned around, noticing Náli standing in the middle of other Dwarves. Being assigned to Náli was also not necessarily as bad, he thought. At least he was not as unpredictable as Trór himself. Just you wait, Onli thought, turning back to Trór, there will come a time when your actions won't be unpredictable to me anymore either.

"Thank you, lord Trór," he said aloud, bowing deep. "I will do my best to prove my faithful service to you." He decided not to continue in longer monologues, Trór seemed not to like that. "And thanks also to you, Nîsa," he turned to the girl. "I shall go and talk to Náli at once." And bowing to the new Lord of Moria once more, he turned to go.
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Old 03-22-2009, 01:55 PM   #142
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Nali

“What is this I hear? Thou art now in my service?” The bold Onli had conveyed the entire conversation between him and Trór. Nali was aghast.

“Then the work of thine own silver tongue has achieved its purpose. There is no time for the swearing of fealties; nevertheless, thou hast made a bargain with Trór and I will hold you to it. Thou mayest consider thineself under my authority.” Nali gave a slight bow, which actually looked like a slow nod, and then turned back to Ori and Loni.

“You speak true, Ori, but there is no time to wonder whether Trór will bear the yoke of Lordship willingly or not. Come, let us speak to him on the matter of his departure.”


Trór & Nîsa
“Have I done the right thing?” Nîsa wondered aloud.

“Time will tell. Nali is a much better dwarf than I when it comes to handling people. Onli will do well to learn from him.” Trór looked over at Nîsa. Her eyes were still transfixed on Onli as he talked with Nali. “That was a brave thing you did, cousin. I would not have expected that from you.”

“We have all changed in these past few hours.” Trór caught her hint. “I knew that you wouldn’t come back, even though you said that you would. Deep down I knew that you had changed. Must you always be so stubborn in your dealings with people. I saw what happened to Kenan and I guessed that you have done the same to poor Kórin. I swear Trór, one day you will go too far for your damage to be reversed. Not everyone can see things through the eye of a warrior. A gentle hand is better than an iron fist when it comes to being a lord.”

Trór’s complexion was calm and attentive, but Nîsa recognized a deep rooted hatred. Balin must still weigh heavily on his mind. She hoped that he would direct his anger at the ones who deserved it; let loose his hatred in battle.

“What would you have me do, cousin?” He was humoring her.

“Look to a higher power. Find something greater than yourself.”

Nîsa curtsied the best she could and Trór gave a stiff bow. He smiled at her formality; Nîsa suppressed a smile of her own-her words were affective.

“I will join you soon,” Trór said, “Go and do your duty, the work will begin soon.”

She quickly turned and scurried back through the First Hall. Trór watched her all the while. Nîsa always possessed the power to suppress his anger, something no one else could do, though never this outright. There was no doubt in his mind that Onli was responsible for her change.

“Our Lord,” Trór turned to see Ori, Nali, Loni, along with Onli, who stayed behind the three, approach him and bow low. “We are all at thy service.”

“What is it you want Nali?”

“It is not what I want, lord, but what all three of us are asking. In the absence of your lordship, who is capable of leading the colony?”

“The people are leaderless,” continued Ori, “It is time that a sense of order is restored.”

They heard the mournful blast of a horn; Frar and his sixty warriors were on the march. Trór calmly fitted his helmet on his head and then adjusted it. Then he paused to watch Frar’s troops decline down the sloping road, he could be seen running at the head of his troops.

“I am going to find my second. Have decent defenses completed when I come back and all able bodied citizens armed and ready to fight when I come back. Especially make sure that the brew maid Kórin’s brother is prepared to fight, I want him in the front lines.”

“But who will lead us?” Nali sounded firm in his question, as if demanding an answer.

“The strongest!”


Nali

They walked briskly over the bridge back to the main hall. They passed many a soldier and questioning citizen on the way back, but they stopped for none. Nali had a lot to think about during the walk. He worried that Trór and Oin would not return and leave the city leaderless with the strongest struggling for control-Trór’s answer was too subjective to change. He wondered about Kórin’s brother and what he meant to Trór, but did it really matter?

The regulars who had been left behind at the gate were all busy with mounting stones and preparing trenches at the bottom of the stairs. Frar and Trór took one hundred warriors and left fifty behind, twenty of which Ori brought with him to help hand out the magnificent armor and weapons of the third deep.

As the four dwarves entered the great hall, one of the warriors blew his horn; no horn was ever blown inside the great hall unless to announce the coming of something important. The echoes repeated again and again, each time becoming quieter. Ori did not stay; he left immediately for the store of weapons. Loni and Nali remained together until the dwarves began to stir. Hundreds of them began to usher forth from their homes and circles of discussion.

“Thou must tell them, brother. I have a pressing matter to attend to.” Nali didn’t bother explaining, duties were racing through his brain too fast to stop and pause.

Nali scanned the faces of the crowd, but he was certain that he would not find his friend in midst of all these people. He was about to search for her at The Chamber of Mazarbul when he spotted her alone near the ale kegs, leaning against one of the gigantic pillars of the hall.

“Onli, find me Kór the brother of Kórin. Bring him to me.” Onli silently departed.

“Vigdis,” his manner was stern and proud, assuming the air of a noble. Vigdis bowed and opened her mouth to speak but Nali stopped her. “We do not have time for pleasantries, friend, I must speak bluntly for now. War is drawing nigh to the foot of the mountains, even now our new lord is searching for the Goblins, but that is of no concern to thee. As a new Lord rises to power the old must be lain to rest; unfortunately, no arrangements have been made for Balin to be buried. Willst thou be willing to build his tomb?”

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Old 03-29-2009, 05:27 PM   #143
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The difficulty Kórin had of finding Kór did not help her rage one bit. She asked nearly every dwarf she ran into if they had seen her brother, and she was of course lucky if she even got a civil answer, with how she barked at them, demanding an answer. Finally she was directed towards the kitchens, perhaps just to be rid of her.

She found him, though, to her surprise drinking rum with a couple of dwarf-women. They of course heard her heavy footsteps as she entered, and looked toward her.

“Excuse me,” she muttered half-heartedly. “Kór, we need to talk.”

He excused himself considerably more politely than Kórin had, placing his glass down, and followed her out of the kitchens.

“I’m guessing the council did not go well?” Kór asked with only slight hesitation, not hiding the mirth in his voice.

“No,” she snapped. She sat down on a nearby bench and Kór joined her. “We have a pompous, arrogant, blood-thirsty fool who will lead us all to our deaths. I have no idea what Balin saw in him.”

“Who?” Kór asked.

“Trór.”

“I am not very familiar with him,” Kór said slowly.

“Neither was I.”

Kórin’s voice had lost much of its fervor. The siblings were quiet for several moments, as her intense anger gave way to a sad and quiet bitterness. Kór knew her anger could flare up again at any moment, that it was not gone, but he was not afraid of it. He was about to ask her to simply tell him what happened when she spoke again.

“It’s all my fault,” she murmured.

“I doubt that,” Kór began.

Kórin ignored her brother. The words came out in a flood, her anger quickly rekindling as she spoke. “Trór has threatened to place you in the vanguard of the army he’s foolishly taking out against the orcs. And I have no doubt he goes through with his threats. He is that kind of dwarf. And it’s all my fault. He’s doing it out of spite for me. He’s playing with your life in order to spite me. Does that sound like a dwarf fit to lead? He will lead us all to our deaths.”

Kór swallowed. He had not expected that he would somehow be involved. And it seemed Kórin forgot that this was the first he was hearing of any armies.

“I guess he did it because I’m a woman. He can’t punish me, but must punish a man close to me. That is how men like him think.”

“Kórin?” Kór broke in quickly before his sister could continue. “So there will be a battle?” he asked as she went silent and turned her eyes back up from the floor to look at him.

“Yes. There’s a large army of orcs headed up the Silverlode,” she began, starting out calmly again. “Apparently a scouting party was responsible for killing Lord Balin. Trór is apparently taking a number of dwarves from the regular army – or perhaps the entire army, as he is insane enough – he’s going out to meet them. Apparently he’s leaving defensive preparations to everyone else. But you’re not going out with him. He’ll do his best to force you, but his command has no real power. Besides, he has to find you…”

Kórin trailed off as Kór shook his head. “It’s alright. If he really wants me there,” he began, attempting to jest.

“No,” his sister interrupted. “He’s going to get all of his men killed. If they are fools enough to follow him…”

“Well, if they are defeated everyone left behind will hardly be in a good position.”

“We will have the strength of Khazad-dűm.”

Kór sighed. “If I must, I must. It makes no difference when and where I fight. I expect we all will have to.” Kórin shook her head angrily and began to speak but her brother quickly continued. “How did you manage to anger him, anyway?”

“Just insulted his lofty pride,” Kórin snorted. “All it takes.”

“Uh huh…” Kór said, but did not ask any further questions.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:33 PM   #144
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The soldiers were indeed ready, sixty of the fiercest, finest warriors in Khazad-dum. They stood shoulder to shoulder like grim chiseled stones, three ranks deep, awaiting Frar's command. Not one of them moved a muscle, but the tension was nearly palpable. They all felt it - the excitement, the pre-battle thrill. Even the most hardened veterans there, who had known that sensation countless times before and lived to remember it, felt it again, as they always would before a fight. Frar surveyed them, weighing their strength and their morale with a practiced eye. He strode down the ranks, turned, and strode back. He paused and tapped his foot - and then nodded slowly, his jaw set. He spoke to the lieutenant.

"Send for my axe."

The glowing embers of their excitement were kindled into a flame. This is what the dwarves wanted to hear. Most of them had fought under Frar before, and these muttered quietly to each other, some nudging, some grinning solemn grins. "Gamil Naragatholbund" they called him: "Old Citadel," and the other soldiers could see what they meant. Frar towered above all but the tallest of them like a black boulder, a titan of basaltic muscle and sinew bound in iron. "But have you seen his weapon?" they said. The newcomers had not, but they heard the name "Buzunimbar" passing between the ranks, and they wondered at it.

"First two ranks, step forward."

They did so as one man.

"You will be under my command. Third rank, the Lord Tror will lead you. We have very little time and we cannot wait for our skilled masons to be summoned. When we reach the site, we will throw up simple defenses - enough to break the goblin-army's advance. Then we can take them man-to-man."

Two smiths ran up, breathless. "Your - axe - sir," one gasped, and it was no wonder he was out of breath, for the weapon the two of them bore between them was tremendous. It was nearly as tall as an ordinary dwarf: long of handle, heavy of blade, and forged entirely of a dull black metal, of which, in the torchlight, only the very edges of the blades gleamed all along their twice-curved lengths. Buzunimbar it was, Black-Horn, the only axe Frar had ever borne in his long life, and it was as dark and scarred as he was; but its edge was still keen, and it had been newly sharpened. Most of the dwarves knew that axe and what it had done and could do. The others could well imagine, now that they saw its for themselves, why orc-chieftains told stories to their youngest fighters about the Grim Claw, the bane of their northern kin. It was a thing of fearsome use and terrible beauty.

Frar gave his thanks with an inclination of his head and took the enormous thing from the hands of the relieved smiths as though it were no lighter than a wooden board and yet also as if it meant as much to him as life itself. The smiths edged away and disappeared down a corridor. Frar felt the weight in his hands and lifted the horrible axe with one hand, raising it above his head.

"Gundi!" he thundered. "My hewers! Follow me!"

The electrified dwarves roared back their approval with a shout. "Buzunimbar! Buzunimbar for Tror and Khazad-dum!" they cried, and then fell silent. The soldiers all turned a sharp ninety degrees, and then the first rank began to march as a single-file line, for, even as they cheered him on, Frar had already turned his back and strode out of the hall towards the East Gate.

Outside, the last light of Durin's Day was failing as dusk crept up out of the east into the Dale - and with it, the goblin horde.

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Old 04-04-2009, 05:41 PM   #145
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Somewhere in the Dale of Azanulbizar

The night was darker than the inside of a coal mine. No moon or stars guarded the warrior’s footfalls; yet, not one stumbled for Dwarves have sharp eyes, accustomed to the darkness of their mountain halls. However even for Dwarves, it was some time before they could descend down the steep path of the Dimrill Stair with ease.

The warriors soon were led off the old road and onto uneven ground, passing by the pillars and ridges of rock like specters. The steady clanking armor and thumping of boots guided Trór as he brought his warriors behind Frar’s lightly armed soldiers. He could see their dark silhouettes zig-zagging behind boulders and down in crevices, disappearing and then reappearing where he least expected them to emerge. The confusing manner of Frar’s movement kept Trór focused on narrowing the gap between their two bands but Frar kept his distance.

The wind was blowing hard, stinging his eyes. Trór had thought that it would rain tonight, but instead of rain it began to snow. He should have recognized it, the clouds were high and puffy when he last saw them; the snow would have to prompt them to move faster than rain would have. If the snow persisted in coming down harder it might slow the warriors down and cause the goblins to catch them, it might confuse them on their way back to the gates, or worse, separate Frar from Trór. This was a disaster in the making.

Trór squinted and put his hand up to shield his eyes from the snow, he had lost sight of the last line of Frar’s column. He continued to lead his Dwarves for a few paces and then stopped, frantically swinging his head in every direction. Presently he heard what he hoped for, the clanking of armor, Trór’s eyes were not sharp but his hearing was far better. With a wave of his hand they started moving again, one of the officers, Bain, a sharp eyed Dwarf, accompanied Trór in the lead.

“Faster,” came a hiss from Trór. Bain looked at him, confused if he had heard him or not.

“We must go faster!” Trór said with one breath, and with a considerable amount of annoyance at not being heard the first time. The warriors quickened their step and Trór could soon make out the swaying silhouettes of Frar’s warriors again. His column was soon brought behind Frar’s at a comfortable distance. Trór left Bain to lead the warriors and left to find Frar.

Frar was found at the head of the troops, leading the entire expedition. He was incredibly large and not too light footed, this gave Trór no difficulty in overtaking his attention.

“I don’t like all this wind and snow.” A surge of icy wind met his words. Trór stopped running and Frar dutifully stopped as well, the wind howled and whistled about them.

“I am beginning to doubt if we could find Oin in this awful mess. I doubt if splitting up will be a prudent choice now and I don't know if we should go much farther if we can't see what lies in front of our noses. We've been running for sometime now and are well beyond the Eastern Gates,” Trór turned back to see if he could see the peaks of Barazinbar, Bundushathur, or Zirak-zigil but none were there to be seen.

"This all has a foul mood to it. Azanulbizar has clouded our vision! Though this might be a blessing after all, it has clouded the Orcs' vision as well, though I doubt it will affect their sharp sense of smell and hearing."

Trór was beginning to lose hope, he could not clearly see much farther than a hundred paces. Chances of finding Oin in these conditions were bleak indeed. Despite the conditions, however, it pained Trór to think about abandoning the search and leaving his friend in such a hopeless predicament. He ceased searching the rocky plain for a sign and turned to Frar. Hopefully his subordinate would shed some helpful insight on the matter.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:43 PM   #146
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Óin

At that very moment, in the falling darkness of night, Óin was stumbling back to the gates of Moria. He emerged amidst the rocks, from his own hidden path, unknown to anybody else. It was dark and a bit hazy, Óin could not see very well in the gloom, yet he was afraid to light a lantern for himself because he was not sure how much far the goblins' advance parties might have reached and he did not want to be spotted. Thus, he hurried, half-blindly, up the hill, towards the ancient eastern gate of Khazad-Dűm.

The journey was not an easy one. But stumbling in the shadows, wrapped tight in his cloak to protect himself from the wind that came from the mountains, old Óin reached at last the walls of Moria.

"Stop right there!" a shout came from the darkness. "Who are you?"

Guards, Óin immediately figured out. He reached for his tinder box to light his lantern so that they could see him, but his face changed in surprise when he realised that there is nothing where his belt pouch should be.

"I must have dropped it when climbing down that hill," Óin muttered. "And just that was my old tinder box which I did not manage to lose since the Dale was founded! Óin, you silly -"

"Hey, you heard me?" said the voice from the darkness. "Who are you! Speak, or -"

Óin cleared his throat. "Óin son of Gróin," he shouted. Something like delighted cries came in return and suddenly, bright light blinded him. "It is him!" a young voice cried, and suddenly he was in the middle of a group of happy guards who were leading him into the gates. The heavy door closed behind them.

"Lead me to Balin," Óin said in an important tone. "I need to -" then he noticed the looks the guards exchanged with each other.
"What is that?" he asked. "What is wrong?"

But at the moment he spoke it he already knew. Suddenly, the breath he took turned into a sort of stridor and the old Dwarf leaned his back against the wall. He closed his eyes.

"Go and fetch somebody," Óin muttered, surprised how old suddenly his own voice sounded. "I have important news for the colony."

When the young guard run away, Óin shook his head and put his hand on his heart.

"Óin, my good lad," he whispered softly. "Looks like you have already lost another friend."

* * *


Lóni

Being left by his brother and appointed with the task of conveying Trór's orders to the colony, Lóni strode towards a close stone block making a support for a column and climbed on it so that everybody can see him clearly. Not being overly fond of being in the position of a commander or an announcer, but knowing what his duty was, he cleared his throat to speak. Sleeking his golden beard, he was also reminded to his slight displeasure that he still did not have time to properly polish his armor after the battle with the Orcs. But now he had to speak. All eyes were fixed on him.

"Folk of Khazad-Dűm, hear me," he started, being careful to pronounce clearly and accurately. Everybody was attentive.
"It was but a few hours ago when our Lord Balin died, slain by the foul Orcs. Like in the ages of our fathers, these creatures have violated the ancient Dimrill Dale." Lóni knew that with the simple folk, it makes little sense to go into details, his main concern was to give them a basic outlining of what was going on but at the same moment to support their morale. "Your Lord had already set out at the head of our soldiers to push the beasts back, but there is a need for everybody's hands." There was a silence for a few heartbeats, Lóni silently counted up to three and then roused his voice to full strength.

"By the word of the Lord of Moria," Lóni was careful not to speak the name; from his experience on the Council he learned that it may not be too good to emphasise too much the fact that it is no longer Balin, but Trór who is the leader. "Each and every single one who is capable to wield a weapon shall assemble and report to the armory. Each and every single one who can fight shall be prepared ere our Lord returns. The enemy shall not take the Gates of Moria, and everyone of you will contribute to that in your post. Now, everybody act as is your due."

Lóni rubbed his left eye. The time of decision was getting near.

* * *


Onli and Vriti

After a short stay with Nîsa around the incident by the Gates, Vriti left the nervosity-soaked area and headed on one of her lonely trips to lower levels. Now she was scurrying through one of the dark corridors deep below the lit hall where Lóni was giving his speech. These corridors were always lonely and the faintest smell of Dwarves did not even come as far as here. Vriti could freely run here and play around with the large beetles who were running around and across the uneven floor. She always jumped, putting her paw in one beetle's way and then she again raised it, leaving the critter utterly confused for a while. She was always capable to spend several hours with this game, very often while her master was wandering through the upper corridors and looking for her.

This time it was not so, however. Little did Vriti know that her master had been busy, very busy with the new job he had been appointed with. Little did she know about his encounter with Kór, where Onli approached the Dwarf just when he finished talking to his sister, and stepping in carefully, but firmly, supported by his newly gained authority, he asked Kór to come with him to Náli. Vriti did not even know about her master's, nor about Kór and his sister's feelings at that moment.

But however Vriti was just a small Eastern mountain ferret, even she could sense the unrest in the colony. She remembered the change she observed in the last few hours. The Dwarves were odd, confused, some seeming a bit detached and not as friendly to her as usually. Sometimes nobody even noticed her. There was a general atmosphere of fear, and strange smells coming in from the outside with the night-breeze, as well as some strange and unexplainable feeling creeping down the whole colony.

Even now, when she was many levels below the twenty-first hall, Vriti could feel some weird tension, her senses were warning her now and then in almost an irrational way. Once or twice when chasing the big beetles, she stopped, her hair standing on end and that was when she sniffed and stood for a while, attentive, as if this tension was something she could catch with her senses. And then it disappeared again and she went on, chasing the beetles in the unevenly hewn low corridors, and just a vague feeling remained somewhere in the back of her tiny head, a warning to her little fuzzy self.

At once during her play she came to the edge of a great hall, where the cavern's roof was running up into unsuspected heights and disappearing in utter blackness. All that Vriti could rely on was her sense of smell and touch and a vague feeling of large space around her. There was a way leading to the elden way upstairs, back to the lit caverns and corridors of the Third Deep, and Vriti had traversed these caverns and corridors leading towards it before, but this time she could feel something was different. She stopped at the edge of the hall, knowing that about twelve leaps in front of her there is a large column supporting the ceiling of this large room, and beyond it, there lies an archway pointing her way towards the stairs to Third Deep. The ferret sniffed in the stifling air of the cavern and headed towards it, avoiding the column by close proximity. Now in front of her there lay the archway, sensible only by the vague feeling of form and slight movements of the air. Vriti's whiskers trembled and she stopped, sensing the archway and the corridor beyond it being just three or four leaps away.

The archway was there. Vriti gazed into the darkness on its other side.

And the darkness gazed back.

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Old 04-06-2009, 12:57 PM   #147
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Vigdis

After Kór had left, Adela had excused herself quickly as well and Vigdis had been left alone. Being alone was what she both needed and dreaded tonight. She felt weak, drained and despite all the lights around her, the world seemed dark. She leaned herself against a huge pillar and closed her eyes for a while. It did not help, not at all, for all she could see was Balin's pale face still and stern in the candlelight.

"Vigdis."

That was a voice used to command and a voice she knew. Náli was a venerable Dwarf, and one of those few whose good opinion she valued so much that she would rather not be found in such state. Mahal forbid, he probably thought she was drunk. She bowed, thinking she needed to explain herself...

"We do not have time for pleasantries, friend, I must speak bluntly for now. War is drawing nigh to the foot of the mountains, even now our new lord is searching for the Goblins, but that is of no concern to thee. As a new Lord rises to power the old must be lain to rest; unfortunately, no arrangements have been made for Balin to be buried. Willst thou be willing to build his tomb?"

That was a lot of information to absorb, but Vigdis had learned to concentrate on the essential and know her place. But suddenly, she could not find words. She bowed again. She could feel tears coming to her eyes, but she would not cry, not here, not now. She forced herself to talk. "You give me a great honour. I will take it as my duty and I swear he shall have a tomb worth the legend he will become."

Náli nodded. "That is well then. I trust thee in this matter. But now, time runs and other urgent matters are pressing. I shall come to thee in regards of this matter later."

Vigdis bowed once again, and Náli nodded and hurried away. Vigdis's eyes followed the man until he disappeared from sight. She wondered why he had asked her in particular. She prided herself in being one of the best masons in Khazad-dűm and her skills were no secret, but something in Náli's manner made her suspect there was more. Had the old dwarf's keen eyes seen more than they had revealed, or had Balin betrayed her feelings to his closest friends?

She did not know, and after a while she decided she did not care. It was not essential now. What she needed now was half a glass of rum, half an hour of sleep and a whole night of work.

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Old 04-10-2009, 12:44 PM   #148
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From the quill of Loremaster Drók

It was thus at the twenty second hour that Ori returned at the head of fifteen stout Dwarf warriors burdened with litters overflowing with the magnificence of Khazad-dűm. The array of armor and weapons of which Oin had discovered in the Third Deep was brought forth from into the hall and distributed. O, to see the array of craft that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention!

Old weapons, wielded by the Dwarves five years ago with their Lord, Balin, were forgotten for this new weaponry was crafted back when the renowned forges of the Dwarves was at their height. The weapons of the gifted smith, Narvi, and craftsmen, Doric, were here. The axes were rimmed with jewels and helms were crafted of silver. Leggings, much like the kind of the Iron Hills, were fitted to their legs, but these were of a lighter substance and no arrow or soft thrusting sword could penetrate the small links of chains. The most skilled of the smiths marveled at the metal breast plates bearing the emblems of Durin the Deathless, for they were of the most intricate detail.

However, no matter how delighted the Dwarves were at the sight of such wonders, they were still grim of heart. They did not forget the slaying of the Lord Balin and the encroachment of the Orcs upon their borders. Jealously would they defend their homes against the invader!

Little did they know, however, of Lord Trór’s predicament. For it was Trór and Frar who, unbeknownst to them, had passed Oin in the blinding snow and thus failed in their first reason for leaving the shelter of the mountains. Their path had been dangerously treacherous so far, but now a new enemy crouched for employment: Orcs were close at hand. Their keen sense of smell had tracked the scout Oin to the fords of Kheled Zaram, where they lost him in freshly falling snow.

The historical records are unclear as to what happened next, but it is of my opinion that the Orcs, frustrated and possibly scared of the consequences of failing, pushed onward until unhappy fate put them onto the larger scent of Trór and his warriors.

Thus with rough and all unable quill, I, Drók, shall recant how the warlike Trór, with his friends, assume the greatest struggle of the time. Can these pages hold the vast dale of Azulbizar; or, could you cram within these leather bindings the very armies that did ascend to the fight at Khazad-dűm? But I must ask for your pardon. Instead let us bring to this great account your imaginary forces; for it is you who must now deck the characters of history, turning the accomplishments of many years into an hour glass. Permit me to call us to this history. Your humble patience I pray and may it please you, gentle reader, to hear of the great stirring of the Dwarves and of the Second Battle of Azulbizar.
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Old 04-12-2009, 04:09 PM   #149
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“Folk of Khazad-Dűm, hear me!”

For the second time that day, the Twenty-first Hall fell silent. Kór and Kórin had sat in silence themselves for several minutes, and though neither made any outward sign of interest, they both listened closely as the announcement was made and orders were given. The speech was quite brief, and Kórin gave a bitter sigh. Of course they would keep as much information to themselves as possible, including the new lord of Khazad-dűm! Apparently they expected everyone to fight under unknown leadership.

Why didn’t Trór give the orders himself? she wondered. He would have enjoyed more opportunity for that. It dawned on her that his party should have left before now. Kórin tried to remember Trór’s precise words…the “vanguard of the army”. Leaning forward, she covered her hands with her face.

She heard someone approaching, but did not move. It was a dwarf who had come to summon Kór. She felt her anger rise even more when she heard Kór stand up without any hesitation. Then she rose from her seat, as well. They had requested all who could fight, and she was certainly “capable”.

Kór looked at his sister, knowing exactly what she had in mind. He started to say something, but did not, and simply shook his head – somewhat in sadness, but mostly as a simple gesture. It meant, “you don’t have to do this, Kórin”, but he had no doubt she knew that. He knew she felt responsible, but he also knew that she would always be there, regardless of any guilt.
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Old 04-14-2009, 11:21 AM   #150
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Nîsa

Nîsa had already heard the news from the lips of the council, so the shock was not as drastic with her. However, when Lóni finished speaking she found herself shaking. The danger was real and consequences were equally as frightening—even with a victory it would be bought at a high price. Nîsa had never before been present in a battle, save five years ago at the great purification of Khazad-dum, but she did not see much of wars horrors for the women were not brought into the city until it was cleared of any stain of battle. Now she would have to play a more important role of tending the wounded and preparing food for the soldiers, knowing at anytime the defenders could be overrun and her life taken.

The crowd began to stir at the coming of Ori and the armory. The Dwarves began to take heart, for they were leaderless and the thought of Ori being a worthy successor was in the forefront of every Dwarf’s mind—he would be their leader for a time.

Now that there was a soaring of morale the males, with grim farewells to the few Dwarf women, surged forward to choose their armor and weapons. Nîsa felt like weeping at the sight of so many of her friends willingly stepping forward to what very well might be their doom. She saw Bain, the smith, handling a handsomely crafted axe and rushed to him.

“I wish this day would not have come.” Nîsa flung herself on Bain and hugged him. “Why must peaceful days always end? Take care of yourself Bain; find a good warrior to stand by.”

It had occurred to Nîsa that flinging herself uncontrollably on Bain would certainly wound his pride as a fighter, but she did not want him to leave without knowing that she cared for him. He was a burly, strong Dwarf and could no doubt handle himself. She released her tight hold on him stepped back. Her gaze was downcast.

“I am sorry if I have wounded your pride, but so many of my friends will doubtlessly die today, and if not today tomorrow. Please don’t be one of them, take care of yourself!”
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Old 04-15-2009, 08:04 AM   #151
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Onli

Kór followed Onli's summon immediately, but the freshly appointed deputy of Náli stopped when he noticed his sister raising as well. He hesitated. It was not his post to care whether somebody follows them or not, however, Onli had witnessed part of what happened at the council and he was not feeling very sure as to whether it is wise to bring Kórin back with him. Onli was very careful. This was his first task in his new post, and already the risk arose - or that was at least one possibility in his mind - that he might displease his superiors by bringing this woman along, or, by not preventing her from following.

However, he was not so keen on starting an argument with Kórin either. He wanted to bring Kór to Náli as soon as possible to please his superiors. Well, he could always stop her later if she followed him and he was ordered to deal with her. Onli could not prevent himself from smirking, but he put on a stern face again immediately. It just crossed his mind that perhaps if he were ordered to deal with Kórin, it might again help him prove his abilities.

"Follow me, Kór," he said aloud; and turning around, he made his way to where Náli was awaiting them.
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Old 04-16-2009, 01:51 AM   #152
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The Dwarves were ready to set out to battle. Bain was with them, his axe held tight in his hand. Vaguely he was wondering how his entire world could turn upside down so suddenly, and he berrated himself for not thinking at least once in those five long years since he had lived in Khazad-dum that such days might come. He should have been expecting this. In spite of the fact that he considered himself a decent fighter, he felt unprepared.

Suddenly, he spotted Nisa, but before he could think of what he should say to her, she had flung herself on him, begging him to take care of himself. Then she abruptly let go of him again, apologizing for her behaviour. But Bain was far from being angered by it. Indeed, he was actually warmed by the hug, and he thought he could see clearly now what this battle was about, and realized that he had reasons enough to fight and win, and return afterwards. He smiled at Nisa.

“Do not you go on thinking about death and the ending of days of peace, my Nisa,” he told her. “Have hope and wait for my return. I must go now, but do not worry: I will come back to you sooner than you think and then we shall have peace and good days and life once more.”
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:01 PM   #153
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Ori

Trór had asked him if he wanted to go and look for Óin and he had chosen to stay. Like he had told Trór, he'd be of no specific importance there but he could be of use with erecting the defenses. And what he had not told Trór was that he was getting old and he did not want to get wearied before the fight. Besides, he was not as worried of his old friend as Trór seemingly was, he knew Óin was clever as a fox and able to cope with any difficulty. He was more worried of how Óin would take the news of Balin's death.

"The most efficent would be to pile those stones here as a wall. I'm only troubled we don't have the time." Brambor's deep voice brought Ori back to the present. The old lieutenant was a veteran in building defenses and thus appointed to take care of the task. He was quick-witted and steady as a rock, exactly the right man to do the job. Ori was there merely to advise him if needed and to represent Trór's rule. He was mostly sheepishly nodding to the old veteran's points, but now he actually opened his mouth to speak.

"I suggest building it from there to there instead," he said, "it will protect the city almost as well and will need far less work."

Brambor surveyed the surroundings carefully and nodded then, seemingly pleased. "That will do," he said. "Svetr! Bratr! take your men and start heaving those stones!" Immediately, a few dozen Dwarves started moving the stones.

"I'm glad there is such strong will to protect our city," Brambor said in a soft voice. Ori nodded. There was not much else to say.

For a while they watched the Dwarves working, then Ori turned to the veteran again. “I do not think I’m needed here anymore. I will seek out Lóni or Náli and see how they are progressing.” Brambor nodded. “Good. I will send you a runner if there’s something you should know.” Ori nodded and with a slight bow, turned and left.

He walked towards the gates. There was a familiar figure leaning against the wall, barely visible in the shadows. Upon hearing Ori’s footsteps, it lifted its head. In the dim evening light, the blue eyes reflected the same grief that Ori knew was in his own eyes.
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Old 04-17-2009, 06:24 PM   #154
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Trór

They continued on. The wind was blowing harder and the snow swirled in masses before their eyes. The warriors were spread out in a long line to survey the ground for evidence of Orcs or Óin. Trór marched alongside Frar.

The march was slow and unsure, the warriors hesitant to go any farther in the blinding storm. Trór and Frar knew that they were at a disadvantage: they were blind in the storm the Orcs could smell. However, for a time this threat was ignored—Óin had to be found.

A shout was presently heard from down the line and a halt was ordered. A Dwarf ran to Trór holding something close to his chest; Frar stepped forward and the Dwarf handed the object to him. Frar gave a harsh whisper and bent his head to examine the object while the Dwarf responded.

“What’s the matter Frar?”

Frar turned and hesitantly held out the mysterious object. Trór’s eyes widened in disbelief; he dropped his spear and quickly snatched a box from Frar. It was Óin's tinderbox; Trór held it tightly breathing hard in disbelief.

“Where was this found?”

“It was stuck in some mud not far back, my lord,” the soldier responded. “There were Orc footprints are all around it.”

“Any sign of Óin?”

“None my lord.”

Trór was silent at the response. The box filled his entire gaze, remembering how closely Óin held on to it. It was at this moment that Trór despaired of the search and bent his head while the tears flowed down his cheeks. Óin was dead, and what was worse, his noble body was being defiled by the Orcs. I have lost my king and my councilor; must I lose my friend as well? What an unhappy fate is mine! And in a great voice, he raised his head and cried his friend’s name. Silence followed his cry as he looked around uneasily to see if it would be answered.

“My lord,” it was Gror: the messenger from King Dain. Trór had forgotten that Gror was charged to his service, and that meant following his lord wherever he went. Trór gave a half turn as Gror came forward. He stopped.

“My lord, Oin is capable of taking care of himself in these situations. His valor is well known in Erebor and I’m sure he can get himself out of this Dale without our help. We are wasting precious time; you should be leading your warriors in the city. Nothing can be availed by searching for Oin blindly out here; he may very well be waiting for your lordship upon our return.” Gror had spoken more boldly than was usual, but he was in a grave circumstance and Trór needed to see that.

“No Gror, Óin is not waiting for us: he is dead. Óin would never leave his tinderbox like so—he must be…” A loud cry was heard close by and Trór turned to see one of his warriors fall with a large dart in his neck.

“Orcs!” Officers immediately began to bring the long line of warriors in a compact group. Their lines were now two rows deep and curved to meet attacks on three sides. Shields were easily un-slung from their backs and against them the Orcs’ arrows could not penetrate. Masses of arrows and small spears were hurled against the Dwarves, but against the hard steel of their hauberks and shields the arrows had little effect. Great Uruks could be seen in the swirling snow, some with bent bows but mostly wielding great scimitars. As the arrows came in less frequent volleys the Uruks could be seen advancing; soon the arrows stopped and loud shrieks erupted from the Orcs. Trór could not discern their numbers, but it was a band the size of his own at least. The Orcs sprang forward without order, each of them screaming in their dreadful language. The Dwarves gave a tremendous yell and swung their Mattocks’ as the Orcs hit their lines.

It was no more than a skirmish but it was a desperate struggle. One side motivated by conquest and treasure and the other side motivated by the defense of their home and for their fallen lord, Balin. Many of Trór’s warriors broke rank and swung their weapons with good effect deep within the swarm of Orcs. Trór stabbed swiftly with his spear as the Orcs came at him, his strong arm thrusting his spear through shield and armor.

The Goblins had seen the raven on Trór's helm and they strode with long weapons to pierce him. If not for the heroic protection from Gror, Trór's prowess in battle would have been in vain, for the darts rained most thickly about him. A hobgoblin grabbed Trór's spear and yanked it from his grasp. It was then that Trór threw off his shield and wielded his axe. With Gror close by his side, Trór broke rank, and with a swelling yell, was followed by his warriors and so great was their indignation that many piles of Orcs lay about them.

Throwing himself against shields Trór bore down his enemies and cut the taller Orcs at the knees. Trór's axe swung swiftly, hacking with as much ferocity as he could muster (the extent of which drove him blindly mad). He had tried to catch a glimpse of Frar, but was constantly distracted by the onslaught of Orcs. Trór could only pray to Durin that Frar and his warriors was not in trouble.

~~~~~~~~~~

Nali

“Poor Vigdis.” Nali muttered to himself.

There was a sadness in her eyes that matched those of Balin’s closest friends. Vidgis had done fine work with the new passages and with restoring those pillars of beauty which the Orcs sundered in their long stay. Balin had never spoken of her to him personally and Nali would never assume of anything betwixt the two, but Vigdis had spoken of Balin to him several times in their conversations. Perhaps she could not help it, perhaps she needed to confide in someone, perhaps she did not realize what she was saying at the time, but Nali knew that Vigdis was fond of her lord. He wondered if she would be just as fond of her new lord. Nevertheless, she will make a splendid burial tomb, the kind that dedication and love can create when combined.

“My lord!” Onli was not standing far away, and true to his task, had brought Kór.

“Good, a small task for thee, yet executed well enough. In-fact, thou hast exceeded my instructions.” Nali cast a sour glance at Kórin. He sighed heavily. “I believe I summoned for thy brother’s service, not thee personally. I have given thee a chance with Lord Trór but if thou art looking for more trouble or a boon I am afraid that I shall be of little assistance in granting either.”

Nali paused. His hand was raised to dismiss her, but the motion never came. Tread carefully, old dwarf. No need to cause a scene over nothing. Best hear her out first, no harm in that. His eyes softened, no longer having that concentrated piercing look. He stroked his chin several times before abruptly asking:

“Why hast thou come? Thy brother is the only dwarf I hath need of for the present.”

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Old 04-18-2009, 06:48 PM   #155
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Óin

A soft sound of footsteps roused Óin from his silent thoughts. He did not know how long had he been standing there in the corridor. He looked up and his eyes met Ori's. They were just standing for a while, then the younger Dwarf slowly paced towards the weary scout, and about a feet from him, he stopped. They still looked into each other's eyes. There was silence, until Óin spoke:
"How?"

"An Orc. We killed it," Ori replied. Óin nodded, but they both knew that whatever number of Orcs they could kill, it is not going to bring Balin back. There was once again silence and Ori gazed into the darkness towards the gate. Suddenly, he spoke again, more softly now.

"The last thing he saw were the depths of Kheled-zâram."

Óin sighed, but bowed his head; it seemed as if some weight fell off of his shoulders. There was a long silence again, when both the old Dwarves were lost in their memories.

Then suddenly Óin remembered. "Fool!" he muttered to himself. He turned and grasped his friend's arm.

"Ori," he said. "I have seen the Orcs. They are coming. A huge army. Who is the leader now? I have to tell them."

"Trór. But there's also something you should know - he was worried, and he took some men and went looking for you. They should be sent a message that you've returned safely."

Óin's face turned pale. In his mind, he envisioned the host of Orcs marching through the falling darkness and snow, and Trór and his company walking right into their arms. But he immediately dismissed it. He only found a bit uncomfortable - no, not really uncomfortable, just strangely unusual - the idea that Trór with his troops were searching in the darkness and snowstorm only for him.

"I believe in Trór," he said comfortingly, partially to himself. "He will return. But who is his deputy now, then?"

Ori furrowed his brow. "Trór didn't name anyone," he said slowly, his voice betraying no emotion or opinion. "We had better seek out Lóni and Náli at least, they have been arranging things here."

Óin fingered through his white beard. He lifted his back from the wall.

"Let us go and find them, then."
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:54 PM   #156
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Kórin had never been angrier than she had been today, and it was starting to seem like every dwarf who thought himself important was doing his best to belittle her. She should not have been the least bit surprised at Nali’s treatment of her arrival alongside her brother, but part of her had believed that he would not turn away any dwarf in this time of need. Foolishly.

“I have given thee a chance with Lord Trór but if thou art looking for more trouble or a boon I am afraid that I shall be of little assistance in granting either…”

His words were like salt on a wound, only Kórin did not feel hurt so much as slighted and demeaned. He had so nobly given her a “chance” to what? Gain Trór’s favor? Be a good dwarf? And of course he expected her now to either act out of spite like a child or beg for his help.

“I am not looking for anything, sir,” Kórin began, trying reasonably to keep her voice calm but putting little respect behind the title she addressed Nali with. “I am here as another axe. I am sure even Lord Trór will not be so upset about receiving two soldiers when he only demanded one.”

Of course, he had never referred to anyone as a soldier or a warrior, he had only spoken of cowardice. Showing what he truly thinks about the people he now leads, she thought darkly.

Once again she ignored Kór’s gaze, though her brother only looked at her curiously. He knew quite well that Kórin had given him but a small piece of her encounter with Trór. She had always had a temper, but he had rarely seen her this angry, and she had never held onto it like this. He would easily admit that Nali’s initial words were rude, but he could see that they had affected Kórin a great deal. And she was not one to let words hurt her.

As surprising was that she managed to hold her tongue quite well, though she certainly seemed angry enough to throw all thought and caution to the wind.
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:43 AM   #157
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Vigdis

She did not return to the kitchens. Vyra would not be there, nor would Adela, the kitchen girl she had just met. There would be just some people she did not know, and she did not feel like talking to strangers now. She decided to head home.

She walked the corridors to the craftsmen's quarters. She took a turn left, walked for a while and stopped. Slowly, she picked the heavy key from her belt and opened the door, then stepped in and closed the door behind her.

Her apartment was more like a room than a house. There was nothing unnecessary there. A small, neatly made bed. Two chests, one for her most prized tools and her weapons, one for clothes and other personal belongings. A chair and a table with a bright oil lamp, a short piece of candle and a tinderbox on it. A small fireplace and a cupboard with very limited household equipment. She hardly ever made her own food, it was not something she liked doing or was good at, like most of the other craftsmen, she ate at the public kitchens.

Even in the pitch dark she knew her way to the table and managed to light the lamp. Then she walked to the cupboard and took the bottle of rum and a small wooden mug she had had since being very small. She smiled at the silly carvings on the mug and poured just enough rum to cover its bottom. She put the bottle back to the cupboard and went to sit on her chair. The bright, almost cold light of the lamp started to bother her. She took the tinderbox and lighted the candle, then put off the lamp. Normally, she only used the candle if she had run out of lamp oil, but now she preferred the weak, warm glow to the heartlessly efficient lamp light.

But of course, candlelight brought back memories. The still, solemn features in the candlelight, the hint of a smile playing on his face. The yellow glow on the white beard, the kingly rigidness, all draped in red, his colour. That image would haunt her forever, she knew. She drank her rum in one gulp. It was better to go to sleep now. She took the glass back to the cupboard and returned to put out the candle.

Then, another memory. The same candlelight, this time in a small room with a wooden roof. The glow playing on her unbraided hair, him by the doorstep. He had come late, later than was customary or appropriate. Dressed in red as usual, his hand stroking his white beard, he had apologised for the hour and pleaded her help. Flattered and excited, she had quickly cast her black cloak on herself and followed him to the darkness. They had walked the tunnels together and he had...

The flame was extinguished with a hiss. She did not want to remember more now. She brought the tips of her fingers to her lips. They hurt, she had managed to burn them. Burn them while putting out a candle the first time after she had turned ten. Pitiful, she told herself.

She made her way - just a few steps - to her bed and crawled in. She could feel tears running down her cheeks. No, not now, girl. Calm down. Now, you will sleep. Sleep, a refreshing nap. Then you will wake up and start working and remember. You will pour all your memories to the stone. But now, now you won't cry, now you won't remember. You will sleep, you will forget, you will let it be.

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Old 04-20-2009, 01:15 PM   #158
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Nali

“I will be equally as brief in my response: no. I don’t know what has prompted this, but thou knowest full well that the request is ridiculous. It is Kór, not Kórin, who I need.” Nali glared at Onli for overstepping his bounds. Kórin was still bitter over something and it annoyed Nali to have to deal with her problems—he had so many other pressing matters on his mind.

“Onli, escort Kórin back to whence thou hast found her, Kór will stay. Return when it is done.”

Onli bowed and left with a reluctant Kórin; Kór stared sorrowfully after her. Kórin’s brother appeared to have none of her sister’s rebellious traits—or perhaps he kept them better hid. Nali immediately began to size up Kór: he was by no means a warrior, but he looked eager to learn if given the chance. The best position for him in battle would be behind a stout warrior to defend him from any blow; put him in the front lines and he would be killed.

“Thou shalt see Kórin again,” Nali stated comfortingly, gaining Kór’s attention. “The attack today will not be the fiercest—the first day never is—stay low and all will be well.”

Nali turned and was about to go with Kór to find him a weapon and armor when to his amazement he saw Ori and Óin step out of the shadows. Nali froze in disbelief.

“Óin! Praise Mahal you have returned!” They embraced as Nali rushed forward, forgetting all about Kór, joyful energy filled Nali at Óin’s return. “We feared that thou wert lost. Has Trór returned with thee?”

~~~~~~~~~~
Nîsa

Tears still flowed Nîsa’s cheeks and it shamed her to do so when so many other women had husbands and brothers who might die. Bain was very comforting; he was a good Dwarf one whom she admired and wanted him to come back.

“Promise me you will keep your head down, I hear that the Orcs far outnumber our own soldiers. The women will doubtlessly be busy with preparing food and wine for the soldiers for later tonight and I will see that I will be one of the maids who brings the food to the soldiers so that I can see you.”

Nîsa reached into her pocket and pulled out a ruby studded sheath with an elegantly made dagger. “Trór gave this to me before we set out for Khazad-dum with Balin. I have had little use for it, but I think that it may do you greater service if you are in enemy hands. It is sharp and easily reached when in a tussle. Please take it; perhaps, it will help you come back.”
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:30 PM   #159
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Kórin was truly surprised this time. Nali’s response had been harsher than she expected. Foolish girl, she thought, admonishing herself, you thought this old dwarf would show you any respect? Once again he twisted her words and her actions. How had her statement that she was here as another soldier been a request? She was not here in supplication!

She was about to explode on the old dwarf, but held herself back in an attempt to put words to her screaming. Her head was pounding now, and as she stood there it felt as if all the energy was dissolving out of her body. Unfortunately a moment’s hesitation left her interrupted, as two older dwarves whom she recognized as Óin and Ori, companions of Balin, approached Nali and quickly drew his attention – away from Kór; he was long done with her.

“We feared that thou wert lost,” he told Óin. “Has Trór returned with thee?”

“I hope not,” Kórin rudely interrupted, continuing to ignore Onli and any attempts he made to escort her away, and then addressed Kór, “I’ll have your back on the battlefield. Don’t let anyone push you around.”

She turned and left, walking quickly but not hurriedly to where the rest were assembling for war, though she would stop along the way to retrieve her hauberk and mace, prized gifts from her father. She would figure out a way to be in the same unit as Kór…

~

Kór found himself almost laughing at Nali’s comment about seeing his sister again, until he ended with, “…stay low and all will be well.”

He certainly did not know what to say to that. He could not really tell Nali that he was not afraid. Kór turned back to his sister and raised his eyebrows at her. Right now he was more afraid of what she might do than what might happen to him. She looked ready to explode. Nali did have a way with words…and seemed to be an expert at snubbing. He now appeared blissfully unaware of Kórin’s state.

But everything was interrupted. Thankfully, perhaps. It gave Kórin another moment to think, at least, if not really cool off. He winced when she spoke, though – wishing death upon the new Uzbad Khazaddűmu! Kór turned back to her from the newly arrived Óin and Ori, and smirked as she addressed him. He said nothing, though, and simply watched her walk away.

She always needed the last word, and was a master at exerting control over whatever situation she was put into. He knew she could not stand it if she was not. Kór really didn’t mind being pushed around a little, at least in Kórin’s terms, as they included simply being told what to do.

He sighed. She was also a master at leaving her problems behind on others’ shoulders. He turned back to Nali, Óin, and Ori, but avoided their gazes.

Last edited by Durelin; 04-21-2009 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 04-25-2009, 04:16 PM   #160
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Shrill orc-cries echoed through Dimrill Dale, bouncing back and forth off the high walls of the valley and disippating into the black night sky. In the darkness and swirling snow, it was impossible to tell whence the echoes came, and when the fighting began, Frar's band had lost track of Tror and his dwarves. They stood close and silent now, listening and watching for any sign that might lead them to the skirmish. To some of the less hardy, it almost seemed that evil spirits were on the air, riding on the frozen wind, shrieking and cursing as they went. The muffled clash of weapons also reached them: spear on shield, sword on hauberk, drifting down to where they stood among the ominous boulders, and sounding then like but a memory or rumor of battle - perhaps the hills spoke thus to each other on wild nights, mourning the death and strife that they had observed through the many ages of the world all unable to intervene?

Frar shook himself - his mind was wandering. He brought his thought to bear once more on the urgent situation at hand. Where was Tror?

Did the cries come from the left? Or from down the valley? Or from behind them? Frar stood frozen in indecision, his jaw tight with concentration. He had to make a decision, they could not afford inaction, not now. He looked now left, now right, and cursed himself. Where was Tror?

His officers and soldiers were watching him anxiously when suddenly a goblin came scampering out of the darkness from their right. It lurched to a halt some 15 yards before the dwarves. For a brief instant, the dwarves stared at the orc in surprise and it stared back. It was, evidently, just as bewildered as they were. Then, with a cry, it spun around and leapt off into the mist, vanishing as quickly as it had appeared. The dwarves blinked. Had they imagined it? No - the orc's exclamation (had it been malice? Fear? Or something as common as surprise?) still echoed about them.

Frar acted, seizing upon this as a kind of sign. "This way!" he shouted, the officers passed the word down, and the dwarves pounded off after the orc. "Find Tror!" roared Frar. And sure enough, the sounds of battle grew clearer and more distinct. The dwarves began to find scattered bodies and weapons - but no Tror. It seemed that he had led his dwarves some distance in pursuit of the orc skirmishers.

"Spread the line!" shouted Frar. "Two ranks deep, stay together!"

The dwarves obeyed as they ran with a smoothness born of discipline, spreading out into a heavy line of iron death. And over a low rise in the rockey ground, they came upon the orcs and dwarves tangled together, living and dead, struggling violently among the tall boulders and drifting snow.

Frar did not need to give any command. Without a word, his troops swung down upon the battle making no noise but that of their boots against the ground. They hit the lines, however, like a clap of thunder, as they trampled down the first orcs they met and crushed the next ones with heavy blows of their axes. They killed professionally, swinging this way and that through the press, laying orcs out every which way as they went. Frar found Tror in the middle of the battle standing upon a pile of crushed orcs, swinging his axe about him like a lunatic - only to the movement of his axe there was a deep and deadly logic, as subtle as the playing of a harpist and as brutal as the hammering of a smith. Orcs fell upon him in astonishing numbers and died with just as astonishing a rapidity. There were too many, though, and they began to press too closely about him, more warily now, holding him at bay with long spears. The slow anger that had been burning in the deep mine of Frar's heart all day blazed higher. Khazad-dum will not lose two lords in one day! This thing will not be! and he rushed towards Tror with an extra spurt of speed. A gently sloping boulder was in his way, but he could not be stopped now. Indeed, he could not stop himself, such was his anger and determination. He ran up the boulder and hurled himself from its peak upon the mass of orcs that surrounded Tror.

The backs of the first two orcs broke under Frar's iron-shod feet. The next orc, which tried to wrestle Frar to the ground, had his skull cracked, and the last thing he remembered was Frar's massive black fist exploding into his face. The next three had their heads torn from their necks by a single swing of Buzunimbar. This is was all before the other orcs noticed that something was wrong; the seventh orc tried to skewer Frar with his spear and caught Frar's reverse swing in his midsection. Frar leapt through the enormous hole he had just single-handedly cut in the orc ring and ran to Tror's back. The two old warriors did not even need to exchange a word, neither of thanks nor of greeting; they had been through this before. They knew, and they both settled down to the work of killing as many orcs as possible.
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