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Old 04-27-2009, 08:45 AM   #161
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Óin

Óin smiled at Náli and cast a brief look after departing Kórin.

"Just what is going on here?" he muttered, partially to himself. Then he looked directly into Náli's eyes, penetrating him with his bright sky-blue gaze.

"Trór did not come back with me," he said quickly. "I must have missed him in the darkness and the snow. I am not worried about him, Náli, but perhaps somebody should be sent to bring him back. Especially considering what I saw."

Quickly, Óin explained to Náli all he knew about the Orc army. Drawing out from his memory all the important details, not omitting a single thing, he recounted on the danger approaching Khazad-Dűm.

"I am sure I do not need to tell you what should be done," he finished.

"And the leader should also get to know about it," he added after a short while.
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Old 04-27-2009, 03:41 PM   #162
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Nali

Nali’s heart sank when he heard Oin’s response and was even more disheartened hearing the news of the approaching army.

“Send more men out?” Nali asked in amazement. “No, dear heavens no! It will be to little avail to send more warriors to be lost in this storm that thou hast described. Trór is capable as thou sayest; yet, his skill will be tested more than once this day, still it is encouraging to think that he is not alone and surrounded by loyal and able assistants. All we can do is hope for his safety.

“I am indeed glad to see thee, Oin, for thou hast no need of searching for Trór’s second for thou art him! Besides the fact that thou art a good friend of his, it was to this purpose that Trór went searching for thee. The city will doubtlessly be under thee’s control in Trór’s absence, may it be a short one; meaning no disrespect to you my friend. Tell us what more we need do, so that Ori and I may get back to work. An army of Orcs, as large as you say it is, is no trifling matter to remain idle about. ”

~~~~~~~~~~

Trór

The motion of his axe halted in surprise for an instant at the arrival of Frar. His friend had flung himself with reckless bravery upon the spears of the enemy and amazingly evaded harm. Trór’s attention quickly turned back to the enemy as Frar’s opponents began to quake and run before him. Side-by-side Frar’s tremendous axe and Trór’s swift arm dispatched many of the shifty Goblins which encircled them.

Suddenly, amidst the din, Trór heard the familiar voice of Gror. “My lord, look to the sky!”

Arrows ! thought Trór, but he had long since lost his shield and would have to trust to fortune. He could hear the whistling of the incoming missiles but they did not sound like arrows. Without warning, a black rock fell from the sky in front of him! The rock exploded into many sharp fragments killing many of the thick masses of Orcs around him and Frar. A second rock hit the ground and Trór shielded his eyes with his gauntlets.

His eyes were uncovered and he swung his axe with one hand at a small Goblin; Trór swung a second time hitting the Goblin in the side. A spasm of pain shocked his nerves and brought him to one knee as he twisted his shoulders for another strike. Trór felt for the wound but there was none to be seen. His mail was pierced in a thin slit, but no blood protruded from the hole. Nevertheless, the pain was great and only through hacking and stabbing was he able to ignore the pain.

Frar had not been affected as the rocks fell, using the momentum from the chaos that they brought to both sides to press further amidst the Orcs in front of Trór. Gror had since joined them and yelled wildly at the oncoming Orcs and swung with great effectiveness at their unprotected knees. All around Trór the Orcs began to break; no more of the black rocks fell amongst the two enemies, the slingers having long since taken to their heels. The defiant shouts that the Orcs had shouted were traded with cries of dismay and they fled in every direction.

Trór sank to one knee, saving himself from falling by supporting himself with his axe. Frar’s strong hands quickly grabbed Trór, but were pushed away by Trór.

“No, my friend,” Trór said. “I must not show weakness in front of our warriors!” With a heavy groan his lifted himself up. “My thanks to you my friend, but do not look so glum: I am not hurt. It was close that’s all, just a scratch.” Trór grasped Frar’s hand. Trór was inarticulate when it came to thanking his good friend, but he did smil and nod his head as if to say: ‘Thanks. Well done my friend.’ Trór did not offer Frar anything, for it would have been an insult to his honor to accept a gift for doing his duty--Frar had distinguished himself as the stoutest of warriors and his value was worth far more than any gift that Trór could bestow upon him.

Trór turned to Gror and smiled. “You have fought well and have saved my life, along with Frar, when I was sore pressed, for this you have my undying gratitude. I will have you by my side in the next battle.” Gror bowed deeply but did not say a word.

“What of your warriors?” Trór asked, viewing the dead carcasses of the Orcs and the bodies of the Dwarves. “I think my warriors had the worst of it, being smaller in number; yet, I could not have lost more than ten stout warriors. Your coming saved me from disaster, the Orcs far exceeded our numbers, even with your coming, but the confusion which your warriors wrought upon the Orcs was the winning stroke.”

Not a Dwarf was killed of Frar’s warriors, for the enemy was routed with their coming, but the victory was short lived. Horns were heard on the wind and shouts of a large multitude were heard chanting ever closer. Trór ordered for the dead Dwarves to be stripped of their armor and weapons (for he said that it was far better for the Orcs to gain a warrior’s mail and axe than to defile their bodies) and to be carried by the stoutest of the surviving warriors.

“Hasten back to Khazad-dum. Good fortune will meet us there. The time will soon come for you to pick up your axes—for my anger is twice as great at the slaying of Oin. Hasten back to the city!”
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:31 AM   #163
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Óin

Óin listened to Náli's words with surprise, partially, and partially with a sort of disbelief.

"By Durin's beard, Náli," he said when the Dwarf finished. "Who am I to give orders to you around here? Who am I to be in command of all this realm? This does not belong to me, I am only a scout! I am sure many of you know more and better what should be done. Even you, or your brother Lóni, or even Ori here. I was never into leading. I have told you what I know: the Orcs are coming, and had it not been for the snowstorm, you would have their rams already battering our gates."

"You ask me what to do? Defend them! You ask me what to prepare? Let us disrupt the foul beasts, let us not let the Orcs get close with their battering rams to the gates. Let us not fight in the open, so that they cannot use their warg riders to too much advantage. But most of all, by Durin's beard, let Trór come! Because this is where we need him. Náli - I have been inside Erebor with Thorin Oakenshield, and I can tell you - there is only one who might defend a fortress as proudly as he did: and that is Trór."

***

Onli

Onli paced through the corridor, only rarely casting a look back over his shoulder to see Kórin who followed him. Lucky me, he thought, even though it did not go very well, at least Óin and Ori showed up and perhaps helped to save my reputation. Náli certainly was not very much pleased when he saw Kórin coming along, but it did not end in any too disasterous manner. I just have to be more careful from now on.

They took a sharp turn and at that very moment, something small and orange charged into Onli in full speed. He lost his balance and fell flat on the floor.

"Vriti!" he picked himself up. "What are you doing here, silly? Where have you been?"

The ferret blinked at him with her small eyes. Onli noticed that there is something strange in her behavior, she seemed somewhat nervous.

"Come on, what is that?" the Dwarf addressed Vriti, not intending to spend too much time with her when there was Kórin to take care of, but wishing to comfort the ferret or at least find out what was wrong. He bent forward and touched her, but on closer proximity he suddenly sensed strong odour, a disgusting and foul stench of indiscerneable origin, which no doubt came from the poor creature. Also, on touch, and also when he looked more closely, Onli realised that some of the hair on her back seemed weird on touch, and was greyish black hue and curled, seeming almost as if it was burned.

"Just where have you been?" he shook his head. He stood up, turning back at Kórin. Vriti started to attack his shoes, but Onli did not want her to climb him up right now, not when she smelled like this. He pushed her away with his shoe, but the ferret did not want to let herself being chased away and started to run in circles between him and Kórin.
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Old 04-28-2009, 02:29 PM   #164
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Ori

"I am indeed glad to see thee, Oin, for thou hast no need of searching for Trór’s second for thou art him!"

Ori shot Óin an empathic glance. It was a resonsibility he himself would never have wanted, and he was rather sure Óin was of the same kind. They had never been leaders, either of them, and in Balin's time they had never been forced to take leadership. "My left hand and right hand," he had jokingly named them. But as hard as it was, now times were changing, and it seemed like Balin's trusted men could hardly lurk in the background anymore.

Having followed this train of thought, Ori was slightly surprised to hear his old friend's reply:

"By Durin's beard, Náli! Who am I to give orders to you around here? Who am I to be in command of all this realm? This does not belong to me, I am only a scout!"

Well, that was true. That was what Óin was. Maybe one of Balin's most trusted men, a wise old man and a hero, but in the end, just a scout. Just like Ori himself was just an archivist.

"I am sure many of you know more and better what should be done. Even you, or your brother Lóni, or even Ori here."


Me? Ori wanted to ask, but was content with just giving his friend a "thank you very much" glance. He did not want Náli to get any funny ideas about his place, it was enough that he was teasing poor Óin. Ori could perfectly understand the outburst that followed. Óin had just lost one of his oldest friends and now they were loading silly responsibilities upon him. Well, everybody has to have their share of them, now that Balin's gone, Ori thought, both with grief and bitterness.

"But most of all, by Durin's beard, let Trór come! Because this is where we need him. Náli - I have been inside Erebor with Thorin Oakenshield, and I can tell you - there is only one who might defend a fortress as proudly as he did: and that is Trór."

The memory brought tears to Ori's eyes. Thorin, Dáin, Balin... he had had the honour of serving such good men and even knowing them personally... and now Trór would be the newest link to the chain, and he would earn his place there, easily.

And as if as a response to Óin's words, the sound of a horn echoed in the halls. "He has returned," Ori smiled. Óin nodded gravely.
"Oh Lord Trór, thou hast returned at the hour of the utmost need," Náli whispered to the roof, a smile on his face.

Ori glanced at Óin. "I wonder why he returned so early... maybe he saw your tracks coming back here?"
"In this snowstorm?" Óin asked darkly. "No, it must be something else..."

The three friends exchanged glances. "Mahal save us if there are bad tidings again," Náli said. "Let us go and hasten to the gates at once!"

Last edited by Thinlómien; 04-28-2009 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:59 PM   #165
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Trór

Great was the rejoicing of the soldiers when Trór and Frar emerged from the blizzard. Horns were blown at his arrival and the blast echoed shrill and long in the First Hall. More shouts welcomed Trór when the horn was heard and the undying swell of joyful cheering rose as his face became clearer to see amidst the snow. In his heart Trór felt little hope in a defensive battle against the Orcs, but upon seeing bright hopeful faces and hearing the courageous hollers of his subjects Trór began to take heart. Whether the outcome of their plight be good or ill, he was glad to live to lead such a proud host of dwarves!

Trór was satisfied to see that adequate bulwarks were constructed along the base and top of the stair. The dwarves could now sally out and hold a position outside of the gates. Boulders, both large and small, had been quarried from the mountain side and rolled a short ways in front of the stair leading up to the gates. The boulders were so closely packed that only two or three dwarves abreast could squeeze threw the larger of the spaces. This, of course, could not stop the Orcs of the Misty Mountains (for they could climb with uncanny agility) but it would stop the Orcs from launching an organized body of Uruks—the Orcs would have to come piecemeal.

Trór climbed over the bulwarks of stone and scanned the warriors dressed for war staring at him and Frar as they proudly ascended stair. There were around 200 dwarves gathered at the gates, but Trór knew that there would be more coming, if his original calculations had been correct. He marveled at the craft of the armor that most of the soldiers were wearing; Trór guessed that Ori had brought out the armory that Óin found in the Third Deep.

The pain in his side had been burning during his flight back to Khazad-dum; however, upon entering the First Hall the burning lessened and he was able to stand fully erect. Trór could now see more dwarves entering from the deeper halls of the city. The torchlight fell upon their faces and Trór cried out in joy and disbelief.

“Óin!” Their eyes met and Trór pushed his way through the crowd, his eyes still fixed upon Óin.

“My dear friend!” Trór exclaimed as he embraced Óin, “We thought you had fallen somewhere on Azinulbizar. Never have I been happier! Now I know we can win this fight!” Trór thought that he should say more but instead he stood gazing into Óin’s eyes, soaking up long memories and thinking on what would await them.

“Come with me,” Trór said after a time, acknowledging Ori, “Let us survey the defenses. I must know everything concerning what you have seen, Óin.” Suddenly Trór noticed the presence of a dwarf standing behind Ori and Óin. They eyed each other with curiosity, though there was a note of fear and anger in the other’s stare.

“Who is this?” Trór asked, stepping closer to take a closer look. There was something familiar in the dwarf’s face.


~~~~~~~~~~

Nali

As Nali, Ori and Óin began to make their way to the First Hall, Nali suddenly remembered a pressing matter that needed to be dealt with as soon as possible. Without telling his friends, Nali left them and made his way back through the hall.

There was no sign of Onli, but Nali did not care, so long as Kórin did not accompany him on his return. Nali felt his temper rise at the thought of Kórin and he clenched his hands into fists as he thought of the current situation he was trying to put aright.

Nali walked hard and fast until he reached his destination. The door stood closed to him and Nali knocked hard. The door opened to reveal the figure of a small boy, behind who cowered an even smaller girl.

“Fetch thine father.” The children obeyed and soon brought him.

“Kenan, why doest thou linger in the comfort of thine home?” Nali asked in amazement at not seeing him wearing his signet armor. “Already our lord hath returned. Quickly, we must hasten to him!”
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Old 05-20-2009, 11:40 AM   #166
Durelin
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Kórin

Onli had rushed to make sure he was ahead of her, so that he could feel like he was leading her back. But Kórin was going exactly where she wished. She was completely lost in a cloud of anger and other dark thoughts when Onli suddenly fell down in front of her and she saw something slight darting across the ground. She stopped and watched the creature – it was a ferret.

“Vitri!” Onli addressed it, and Kórin could not help but smile a little at the animal as it ran around even her own feet. It was adorable, but… What is that smell? Kórin wondered as she caught several whiffs when the animal circled her feet.

“Is it alright?” Kórin asked, not assuming its gender as she certainly hadn’t gotten a close look at it.

~

Kór

Kór learned a great deal from Óin, Ori, and Náli as Óin informed the others what he had observed about the approaching army of orcs, and they discussed how to proceed. Kór wondered if they even realized he was still there, and if they should be concerned about him hearing all of this. A mix of fears simmered in his stomach. There truly was an army marching on Khazad-dűm.

Finally Trór arrived, whom the others greeted happily, and Kór was suddenly noticed again. Trór eyed him oddly, and Kór looked back, trying to read what was behind his strange stare.

“Who is this?” the new Lord of Khazad-dűm questioned, taking a step closer to Kór, who sighed inwardly. His sister and he did bear a resemblance, at least sharing the same hair.

“I am Kór, my lord.”
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Old 05-22-2009, 08:06 AM   #167
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Kénan looked at Nali a moment and then stepped back and invited him inside. Nali stepped just within the door.

“If you think about it,” Kénan said, “I am not skulking in the comforts of my own home, as you may assume. It is only yet early morning, and most dwarves on a normal day would still be a-bed.”

“But this is not a normal day,” Nali said, a hint of anger or annoyance fringing his voice. Kénan looked keenly at him. The dwarf had obviously been up all night. Kénan knew things had been afoot – the hall had been alive with feet most of the night, but he and his grandchildren had not stirred from their door.

Finally, he nodded, and a serious expression settled lower on his brow. “Nali,” he began, speaking slowly and with calculation, “I was just dismissed from the council and had little realization that lord Trór had gone out. He sent me from him, shamed before my peers, did you expect me to wait around?” Nali seemed to bridle at this, but Kénan continued. “But, I will come. There is more at stake here than Trór’s life or his honor. I will go with you, and I will fight. Not for him, but for them.” He nodded towards Kéni and Iari.

Nali nodded and turned to go. But before he had completely exited the door, he turned back around. “It would be wisest if thou wouldst reconsider thy loyalties,” he said. “To fight against Trór would be as detrimental as not fighting at all.”

Kénan looked at him steadily a moment and then nodded once. “I will consider what you say.”

Nali turned and left. Kénan stood for a moment in silence. Kéni approached him slowly. “Grandfather,” he said. When Kénan looked at him, he continued. “I will go and fight with you.”
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Old 05-22-2009, 06:53 PM   #168
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“Grandfather, I will go and fight with you.” Kéni's declaration shocked Iari. Obviously it was Kénan's duty to fight, but her brother was supposed to stay and watch over her.

Iari grabbed hold of Kéni's hand. "No! You can't go!" Her vision blurred, but the little girl fought hard so no tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Let go, Iari. I have to do this." Kéni pulled his hand away and stepped closer to Kénan, drawing himself up to his full height.

Iari rushed to Kénan's side. Fear of her grandfather subsided and was replaced with fear for her brother's life. Surely she could count on the old dwarf to be her ally when Kéni was acting so rash. "Grandfather, do something. He's not a warrior, he can't fight."

Kénan patted Iari's head gently, but he moved away from her. He took Kéni by the shoulders. "You understand the danger involved with this decision, do you not?" Kéni nodded. "You are so very young, Kéni. Yet, it is time for you to grow up."

Iari gasped in horror. She pulled one of Kénan's hands off her brother's shoulder. "No!" She cried.

"Iari, please," Kénan pulled his hand away from his granddaughter. "Kéni we need to have you outfitted for battle. Iari, go stay with the neighbors until we return.

Kéni's face was filled with an intense pride, as was Kénan's. Iari had a combination of fear and anger swelling behind her eyes. She stormed off to her room and slammed the door, afraid she would cry in front of Kénan and Kéni. After a few minutes of hushed tones from her family she heard the door close. They were gone, leaving her alone again.

Last edited by Kitanna; 07-01-2009 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:08 PM   #169
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Onli

“Is it alright?”

Onli looked back at Kórin and then at Vriti who stopped by her feet. He shook his head.

"I don't know what she's gotten herself into. Probably crawling someplace where she should not have been." Onli was more thinking aloud than talking to Kórin. He frowned, now switching his gaze between the ferret and the woman.

"I think I - " he started, then forced himself to be more official.

"I trust you will find your way from here, Kórin. I do not expect you to return to Náli, it would be most unwise, as you have certainly noticed." He gave to Kórin a smile as much comforting as he could. "I am sure your brother will be all right. Náli is wise, and besides..." He made a wide gesture with his right hand, leaving the sentence unfinished, but looking at Kórin supportively, so as to make her feel that he could be the one she could turn to if there was any help needed concerning her brother; trying to make her feel that he is the one with enough power to talk to Náli on Kór's behalf.

"If you will excuse me now, then, I have other pressing matters to take care of," he said, and turning to one of the corridor entrances in the hewn wall, he slowly left. Vriti was following him.

"Come on," he sighed, turning to her, as soon as she assumed Kórin to be far away enough from them. Once again, he could smell the foul stench, so discomforting that he actually shuddered.

"That is disgusting," he said, reluctantly touching the animal. "I have to wash you, Vriti. Come." And picking her up, feeling a bit uncomfortable from the unusual odour, he carried her towards his chambers.
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:39 PM   #170
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The First Hall

“I am Kór, my lord.”

"I thank you Nali for bringing him to me," Trór turned to Kór, "Do you know why you are here?"

"Because you summoned me, my lord." There was a hint of amusement in the young dwarf's voice. Trór's eyes flashed with annoyment.

"Simpleton! you have seen war, this is no laughing matter! Take your place by Grór. We are defending the front."

There was a din of horns on the outer steps. Loni immediately dashed towards the doors and peered outside.

"They have come!"
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:58 PM   #171
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From the quill of Loremaster Drók

The darkness in the night sky began to wain. The blizzard abated with great reluctants; yet, the howls of high Caradhras persisted in haunting the dale. The warriors were fully gathered and they silently awaited the din of a thousand tramping feet. Nearly four hundred strong they stood, not nearly enough to contest the might of the Orcs; yet, for the shortcoming of the Dwarf's numbers they stood ready to defy 'till the last. Dwarven courage never was stronger!

Behold! the mighty hands that firmly grasp their axes; wrought out of stone, in the beginning of their existance, by their Creator. See how their stern faces pierce the darkness as an arrow, at flight, pierces the air. Hark! the cruel sound of the horn afar. The awaited tramping of feet give evidence that the Orcs have come in great force. Two thousand strong, the Orcs gather and gaze in anger at the defences and array of magnificintly armed Dwarves before them. For all the urgency of their haste the Orcs were foiled in an easy victory.

See how the mighty Óin and Frar are cheif in the task of encouraging the Dwarves. The brothers Loni and Nali give proof of the loyalty of their race--see how they embrace their soldiers as brothers in arms. Indeed, even the great Ori humbly walks amongst the warriors as a common Dwarf to inspire great pride. See! the warriors take heart and raise their voices at the sight of their proud new lord. Grór and Kór follow him to the stairs carrying his great shield and spear.

Standing tall and proud, the Lord Trór descended the steps into the chief host of the warriors greeting and shaking hands as if on the eve of some great festivity. Trór knew many of the Dwarves and spoke to them of their worth as he passed. There was Bain the smith; his hand was as firm as his spirit. Vitr: optimistically cheerful and admirably steady. There was Dalin and Svior; even Kénan stood ready for battle. It was not until Trór was out of the First Hall and at the bottom of East Stairs (at the vanguard of his host) that he halted.

Out of Trór's darkest nightmares they appeared. Ranks of black armored Goblins and wargs; large revolving siege machines--all arrayed in powerful dread before his eyes. Trór could hear them jeering at him as he stood upon the stone defenses.

"Soldiers, you are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have been driven these many hours. The eyes of the heavens are upon you. History will record your valor. The hopes and prayers of your women and children stand with you. You will bring about the destruction of this last great Goblin army. Remember Balin: slain unjustly and without honor--it is he we must avenge. May his just leadership be with us today.

"Our task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

"But this is the year 2994 of the Third Age! Much has happened since the triumphs of darkness in the south and in Mirkwood. The united forces of the Dwarves long ago have inflicted upon the Orcs great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our offensive has seriously reduced their strength in these mountains and their capacity to wage war on our cities. Our forefathers have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and armor of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of these same weapons--dangerous in your trained fighting hands. The tide has turned! The line of Durin is marching together to Victory!

"See now they come at last! Our last great challenge is upon us. Let us rid our new home of the threat of destruction and let it thrive as it once did. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! May Balin look upon us and bless our noble undertaking. Let his name be our battle cry!"

Long may the remembrance of that day remain in our race's lore. What infinant glory there was for the House of Durin that day! Now may it please you, gentle reader, to hear of the recantation of the Second Battle of Azanulbizar.

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Old 06-07-2009, 04:28 PM   #172
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Vigdis

The roof was just as dark as her dreams had been. She got up slowly. A headache was thundering against her skull. Was it the rum? she wondered. But she had drunk so much more so many time with so much less headache... it had to be something else. It had to be... no, not that thought again. Soon, when she'd have the stone in her hands. But not now. She made her way to the table carefully and lit the candle. She changed her clothes, picked up her favourite tools, extinguished the flame and went out.

The corridor was just as dark as her room had been before she had lit the candle. She wondered why the lanterns weren't lit. She knew her way to the masonry well enough in the dark, but some passers-by would have problems.

"Ouch!" said a voice.

Vigdis stopped. She had run to somebody in the dark. "Who is it? Can I help you?" she asked.

~*~

Ori

He stood there, among the common fighters. Some of the younger ones were giving him curious glances, but most of his comrades in arms welcomed him in silent approving nods. In Balin's time, he had either stayed away from the battles or stood closely by the Lord as his friend and companion. Now it was different, the battles were on their doorstep, there was no "away" to hide in, and Balin was dead, and despite their friendship, Ori was not the companion to Trór like he had been to Balin. He felt his place was where were the others like him: the artesans and sages who had managed to gather a little knowledge of the arts of war during their years.

"Move a bit to the left," growled old Brambor, the commander of ori's regiment. They obeyed him in silence. The words of Trór rang in Ori's mind: we will accept nothing less than full victory! May Balin look upon us and bless our noble undertaking. Let his name be our battle cry! "Balin," he whispered, thinking what his old friend would have thought of such hot-headed and pompous speech. He smiled wryly. "Poor old Balin." The soldier standing beside him heard him mutter the name and shouted it out loud: "Balin!" Soon his voice was echoed by a dozen others, then hundreds of voices shouted the battle cry. "Balin! Balin! Balin!" They watched the black hordes of goblins roll forwards but fear was no more.
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:48 PM   #173
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Nali

He had arrived at the scene, breathless, a few minutes before Trór started to speak. Kenan was behind him: stern and magnificent in his armor. Nali thought of what Kenan might have told his grandchildren before he left—Kenan would fight for those children despite his feeling for Trór. Nali moved into the ranks of soldiers with Kenan; eventually they both clasped hands and said what might be their final farewell.

Nali did his best to encourage the soldiers as he walked to and fro. His lips were curled up in a wide grin, depicting a carefree expression. “Take heart my friends! See how yonder force swaggers so, after their long and hasty march. Morning will scatter their ranks. Hold fast until then!”

The attention of Nali’s listeners was suddenly stolen as Trór emerged from the hall. His voice was like the thunder which precedes the piercing lightning of his gaze. Nali was swept up in the excitement of the moment: this speech would have great affect on the warriors that night. If he could remember it all he would write it down after the battle to be recorded in the book of Marzubul—if fate would allow Nali to do so.

Suddenly, as Trór ceased his speech, cruel shrieks arose from the Goblins. Nali could catch the movement of dark swarms. A thumping of bow strings and the whining of arrows was presently heard; Nali could hear the metallic clink of incoming arrows bouncing off the hauberks of the dwarves—their craft was too skillful to be cheated by an arrow. Nali ran as fast as his legs allowed him through the lanes between the divided columns of the dwarves. Nothing but the noise of bowstrings and arrows could be heard for a long time. Then he heard it: the thud of armor colliding with armor; the shouts and shrieks of the warriors; the sound that had sounded so good to him in younger days: the screeching of an axe penetrating a helm or perhaps a shield. Nali was composed, but it felt as if a cold knife had been twisted in his gut.

“Brother,” Nali called as he saw Loni from afar. Loni commanded one of the columns in the second line to back up the vanguard shortly after the battle ensued. “I am on my way to the utter most right of the battle. How goes the battle here?”

“That I cannot tell. All seems to be overrun by the goblins for the moment. I am going in now.”

“Take care of thy other eye—I would feign have thee see me when victory is won.”

“For Balin then! Farewell.”

Nali set off again as fast as he could go. He slipped his mace into his right hand as the right hand of the mountain grow larger. “Blast! Where is Onli? If I find that he hath shirked from battle I will…” The threat was cut short by an arrow cutting dangerously close to him; more followed in rapid succession. A large shield was thrust between him and the arrows.

“You have come! I thought the worst.” Nali was welcomed by a middle aged dwarf. He was shorter than Nali and very scruffy looking. Not the sort of face that was pleasant to look upon. “A miner,” Nali thought.

“My liege, can you fight?”

“Aye, that I can and more. How goes the battle here.”

“Time will tell. The goblins haven’t been putting up much of a fight yet, but it has just begun.”

“Quick, to it then!”

The fray was desperate when Nali arrived. Not many dwarves had, as of yet, been killed, but the growing number of the goblins was evidently proving the better. Nali descended with a heavy deliverance of blows.

“Hold fast, warriors of Durin’s Halls! Balin, for Balin!”

Again the battle cry of Balin was taken up and for a while the goblins were hurled back over the defenses. Nali fought in the thick of the battle and came dangerously close to getting crushed several times, but always the axe of some dwarf would save him in time. Nali’s mace hard hard and swift until the last orc was hurled back across the bulwarks. However, the goblins regrouped and returned with double the original vigor.

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Old 06-09-2009, 10:15 AM   #174
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Trór

Crash! came the first surge of goblins. An even louder crash befell the goblins: down came the mattocks and axes of the dwarves upon the initial attackers. Then, followed by Frar, Trór plunged his spear forward into his first goblin and the dwarves sprang forward.

Trór soon stood the bulwarks, slashing his huge spear back and forth. The goblins, as tired as they were from their long march all day and night, fought ferociously to gain the defenses. Their scimitars glinted with a cruel light and they shrieked so terribly that they drowned the sounds of the battle. Again Trór slashed with his spear onto the shield of an oncoming hobgoblin. Twice Trór stabbed with his spear and twice he repelled the hobgoblin with the brunt of his shield. Trór raised his spear in a majestic pose and snapped his whole body forward releasing the spear through the hobgoblin and into another so closely were they pressing at the breastworks.

Suddenly, as Trór straightened himself (slinging his shield on his back and retrieving his axe from there with one smooth motion), a spasm of paralyzing pain brought Trór reeling forward off the breastworks. He felt the hard resistance of iron and guessed that he had fallen on several goblins. His shield was still fixed to his arm and offered protection from several hard blows that he was quick to block. Many strong hands clasped the shield and ripped it from his hands. Instinctively, Trór rolled to miss the strikes; some dented on the rock surface some found their mark in Trór’s side, but slid of his chainmail (if the orcs had thrust instead of struck it might have been a different story for Trór).

“My lord!” Trór’s ears faintly heard someone yell, but he couldn’t tell who it was; he didn’t care. His side was throbbing with burning pain from his initial wound and bruised by the many blows he was receiving; he could not deflect them fast enough. Another blow and another, each one pushing him further back until Trór was almost flat on his face; Trór’s mind was screaming at him: “get up! Don’t lie there—fight!” With great effort, Trór grabbed his axe and with a great heave swung it upright. His pain was now swimming upstream against his anger. To think that he virtually graveled before the enemy he swore to destroy.

Despite the immense pain in his side Trór stood his ground best he could. The bulwarks were to his back and for a long time he cleft, stabbed, smashed, and crunched anything that came near him. His beard was stiff with sweat his arms were bruised and it is said that his axe turned black and never again from that day shone its true metallic color.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:43 PM   #175
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Kór

Kór stood surrounded by vaguely familiar faces, but he could not put a name to a single one – except Grór, to whom he had just been indirectly introduced. It was a strange feeling to Kór, the apparent calm around him, as Trór made his speech. He only half listened to the words, finding it hard to concentrate enough even for such a simple thing. He felt like he was trying to think from behind a cloud, staring idly at various dwarves around him. Many of them had already drawn their weapons – suddenly he felt he should have his axe in hand. He knew it was absurd, especially since he felt conscientious about drawing out his axe all of a sudden, wondering if now that he had waited until mid-speech he should wait until the battle began.

It was very strange indeed, that he had been standing here for so long, that there was this much preparation involved for what seemed to him to be a simple thing. It felt ceremonial, so plain and structured that it only frightened him more. Suddenly a great exploded from all around him, smothering him. He jumped, startled, and now was truly embarrassed so that for several moments he did not register what was being shouted.

Kór had trouble finding his voice, as if he had forgotten how to use it. The power of all the other voices was overwhelming. He remembered the face of the dwarf woman from behind her mug, and the depth of the grief she felt. He felt guilty, guilty for not grieving deeply, for not displaying ingrained loyalty in a battle cry. But there were other ways to demonstrate one’s character…

Kór found his voice the best way he knew how. It was weak at first, but it grew stronger, encouraged by others as it took root.

“Under the Mountain dark and tall
The King has come unto his hall!
His foe is dead, the Worm of Dread,
And ever so his foes shall fall.

The sword is sharp, the spear is long,
The arrow swift, the Gate is strong;
The heart is bold that looks on gold;
The dwarves no more shall suffer wrong…”


Kór wished dearly he was back home in Erebor, holding his harp as his father bellowed the song of victory.


It seemed a slow and drawn out process, all that lead up to the moment when the two walls collided, but the battle began abruptly and then it was all too fast for Kór. The dwarven ranks pushed forward as the goblins did, each side trying to hold their ground and cause the other to lose their hold. The few ranks ahead of him pushed forward no matter what, and every gap was filled in, with no thought for how that gap in the ranks came to be there.

Soon he was even closer to the front ranks. He found himself pushing forward, stepping over the body of one of his own comrades. He had not used a shield outside of training, but he found it natural to cover his body, and not to expose himself for a moment. As he found himself in the front ranks, he reached around and underneath his shield to strike, chopping at whatever he could reach. He struggled to hold his footing, until finally he pushed – or was pushed – forward over a fallen goblin, his boot falling directly on its head. He was glad he could not see a great deal in the night.

Thus it took him a moment to realize that there was a dwarf exposed ahead of the bulwarks, stranded amidst a sea of goblins though he was not far in. Kór pushed forward with greater strength, driven by an amount of desperation. “My lord!” he heard a shout from beside him, and he recognized the dwarf beside him as Grór and the endangered dwarf as Trór, one after the other. He was surprised Grór was still beside him, but pleased. Kór and Grór and the dwarves closest to them pushed their way slowly to their lord, as if they were forcing a wedge into the goblin ranks, hoping blindly that the rest of the line would follow them forward. Kór wanted dearly to look behind him, to make sure they were still protected and were not exposed themselves, but he knew he could not take his eyes off the enemy before him, lest he lose his footing and his life.
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Old 06-19-2009, 11:40 AM   #176
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Trór

It was a fight for his life. Trór's side hurt every time his axe brought swift death to an Orc. His axe was like a wave that blunged its cold height down onto flimsy, wavering, weeds. Yet, as the formidable surf, his powerful arms descended and then receded to fall again, but were slowly being choked by the carnage it wrought. Trór could hear nothing, his body was stricken so that he could not speak.

"If I die here, then I die well, indeed!"

Once again he raised his axe and directed it onto the shield of the largest Orc charging at him. As the blow glanced off the shield the Orc gave a dreadful yell; Trór thought that it might have been a victory shout, but all words sounded terrible in Orc language. Trór was quick to retaliate. Again his axe fell on the Orc's shield and continued until the shield was bent beyond use. The shield left the Orc's arm and came flying at Trór, who dodged it with great difficulty. Flinging itself with reckless rage, the Orc bore down merciless blows until Trór felt the full effects of his wound and fell.

The Orcs drew back to await the final blow that would seal their victory. Trór heard shouting, deep throated shouts: the dwarves had swarmed to his protection as they saw him fall. Trór took heart and with the last summoning of strength he struck his would be executer with the broad side of his axe, sending it hurdling back into its own ranks. Then Trór felt the presence of Grór and the coward Kór and lost all thought and knowledge of the moment.

~~~~~~~

Nali

The battle cry of Balin was still strong on the right flank. Nali’s arms grew tireless. Unharmed and jubilant, Nali helped drive the second wave of Orcs back across the ramparts with heavy loss. All was well with his warriors but rumors had reached them that the fight was strongest in the center and that Trór was dead. Nali persuaded the warriors to keep their thoughts focused on their own predicament, but now that a lull had reached his front all of their thoughts went were at the center.

“Find a runner and bring word of the fight in the center.” A runner was speedily sent on his way.

The Orcs charged again. The Orcs clawed to gain a footing but they were steadily checked by the dwarves. The carcasses of the dead Orcs were piled high on the ramparts and slipped as the Orcs groped for anything that they could use to pull themselves up. Nali put himself between a gap in the line and defended it with a tenacity that would surprise many of his age. Though Nali was a proud fighter, he wished that Onli would come soon. It would give him proof of the young dwarf’s loyalty and health: he hoped that Onli had not been killed.

Suddenly, Nali realized he made a mistake. His blow had been to hasty and fell harmlessly on a shield. Nali saw it coming: the shield was withdrawn and revealed a gleaming spear thrust at his chest. Instinctively, Nali sought to deflect the blow, but only half succeeded. A strong arm held the spear and it cleaved through his chainmail and into his arm propelling him backwards.

Nali did not scream or cry out for help; for a moment he wondered if he was dead. His eyes opened to see concerned faces kneeling over him.

“Do not move!” came a voice. Nali looked at his arm, alarmed at what he might see. The arm was bent in an unnatural manner and almost cut off. The sight of it made the pain come alive. He heard a sound like the strike of a hammer on an anvil and felt a sharp spasm of pain in his arm.

“Quickly, bear him to the halls!” Nali saw the officer who had greeted him at his arrival; his axe was red at the edge.

Strong arms picked him up and pressure put on his arm. The sky was dark, without a trace of dawn. Nali wondered if he would ever see the dawn; he wondered how Lóni and Trór were faring, and if his warriors could hold without him. Callous to what he might see, Nali twisted his head to see his arm. Red cloth now wrapped the stump which moments before had been his right arm.
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Old 06-20-2009, 01:12 PM   #177
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Vigdis

There was no reply, it felt as if no one was there. Had she imagined the cry of pain, or had it been herself? She felt a little dizzy - rum, grief and lack of sleep was evidently not a good combination. She took one step further and reached out to the darkness carefully. There was only thin air. She stopped breathing, there was no sound in the still darkness of the cave. She could not feel the presence of anyone. Am I going insane...?

Then there was a gentle cool breath of air on her face. She stepped back. "Who are you? Why have you put out the lights?" There was no reply, only the barely noticeable brush of something on her shoulder. A gentle brush, as if nudging her forwards. "Who are you? What do you want of me!" There was no reply but the echo of her words in the dark.

Suddenly, Vigdis could see a flickering fire somewhere ahead of her. She approached it carefully. In one of the lanterns, there was a tiny spark still burning. Its glow grew more steady when she came closer, and the warm light surrounded her when she reached to touch the lantern, it surrounded her almost as yellow as candlelight. She felt the brush on her shoulder again. She turned around. "Balin?" she asked quietly, afraid of her own voice and the echoes it might bring. The corridor remained silent and she could see nothing but darkness outside the small circle of the lantern light.
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Old 06-22-2009, 04:51 AM   #178
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Lóni

He stood back and held his column until the battle turned furious in front of him. Bidding farewell to his brother, he lead the warriors forwards.

“Take care of thy other eye—I would feign have thee see me when victory is won.”

“For Balin then! Farewell.”


Náli's last words made him indeed think more of himself than of his brother now. Lóni knew that Náli will be fine, he could get out of many tight spots before. He was the one to lead his company victoriously through the Battle of the Five Armies, standing by Trór's side in the great battle for the first time.

As he rushed forwards, Lóni thought how similar things were once again to that day. But now it was Lóni, and not Náli, who was to support Trór's back. But the sounds of battle, always so similar, seemed even more similar to that day to Lóni. The clash of arms, the shrieks of the goblins, dim and distant howling of the wolves. On the far left, somebody even shouted "Moria! Moria!" just like the Dwarves of Dáin did in that battle long ago.

The Dwarven host moved forwards and rushed into the black tide.

The gloom was almost like on that day, too. As if seeing it in front of himself, Lóni could recall it: the great bats were covering the skies - how lucky we are today, Lóni thought, that the vampire carrion-eaters are not here.

He could hear shrieks from the far right, as one of his fellow warriors fell to the ground and a vampire bat descended upon him.

The Dwarven axes shone in fierce anger. And for a brief moment Lóni could notice Trór in front of the ranks, just like he was on that day.

"Let go!" Lóni cried, rushing to the fallen, but his brother dragged him to the side. "He is dead. Come! We have to follow Trór."

How are you, Náli, Lóni thought. Now it is me who has to follow Trór. You are right, I should take care of my other eye... I need it to keep it on Trór.

"Moria! Moria!" the cries echoed. They clashed. Trór was amazing, swinging his axe and thrusting his spear. The goblins surrounded them. At that moment, Náli gave out a battle cry and rushed forth.

"What happened!" somebody cried.

Lóni saw it too. The black tide moved forth and swallowed Trór. The Dwarves in the first ranks rushed to his aid.

"Brother, watch out!"

Lóni realised he made a mistake. His blow had been too hasty and fell harmlessly on a shield. He could only see a blurry motion of an axe being swung towards him from his right side. Instinctively, Lóni sought to deflect the blow, but only half succeeded. He could feel the blade cutting the flesh on his face, before he managed to push it away. But the pain overwhelmed him, he could not see, he fell to his knees and awaited the final blow.


Lóni could not be completely sure what was going on ahead of the bulwarks, but it was obvious to him that the goblins are rushing to crush the vanguard, to crush what was left of Trór and those who were defending him. Yet there was no way Lóni himself could stop them now.

He heard a strange noise and then a gurgling sound which no doubt came from the goblin in front of him. He managed to force his eyes open and through the mist and blood blurring his vision, he could notice it: a hail of Elven arrows fell from above.

"Take arrows!" he cried, taking his own very old shortbow. "Stop them! Shoot them!"

He was not the only one in the line to carry a bow. The Dwarves around him, who were standing in the back, were armed with ranged weapons too and now they sent their hail of arrows into the ranks of the Orcs. It worked: the attackers were distracted from their attempt and forced to pull back. Lóni knew it could not last, but it might at least give Trór and those around him time to put themselves together.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:51 AM   #179
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Nisa

Shrieks filled the air, groans of the dying and wounded. The sounds echoed from wall to wall each time growing fainter but greater in numbers and complexity, creating an audible vision of terror. This was not a battle, this was a hospital.

The First Hall was littered with tables and litters; a few surgeons anxiously trying to help the wounded quickly before moving to another wounded warrior. Nisa was one of those attendants who followed the surgeons around; she had a gift with herbal remedies that cheated pain and quickened sleep. Her timid nature was forgotten now, she had been in places like this before, but never so large, yet, Nisa’s will did not break. Outside the battle was becoming fierce. It was louder than before and fewer bodies were being brought in. Victory was near, or defeat had already been sealed.

“Nali!” Nisa recognized the aged dwarf. Nali was brought in on the shoulders of four warriors, he was hastily set down and surgeon was hollered for.

“Why do you linger my brave warriors, fight while you still can.” With tears brimming, warriors returned to battle. Nisa knelt by Nali and held his good hand.

“My lord, lie still you have lost much blood.”

Nali calmed down for a few minutes, enough for Nisa to clean the wound. What a ghastly thing to happen to such an old and venerable dwarf. Is fate so cruel that it would allow Nali to die so unfavorably? What great sacrifices necessity calls of us. Nisa was angry: this isn’t fair, this is not just. Like flies to vaunting boys are we to the gods: they kill us off like flies.

Suddenly Nali began to breathe heavily. He opened his eyes, wild and delirious. Nisa felt very uncomfortable with Nali staring at her, no look of recognition could be read from his face.

“How did it go, Trór?” Nisa started at the abrupt question. Nali clearly must be delirious with the loss of so much blood. She began to stutter.

“I did not see much; the boys got their dander up and charged the rocks. Did fortune favor us?” Clearly, Nali was mistaking her for Trór; perhaps relaying one of those old encounters they had back in Erebor. Nisa nodded her head, she couldn’t speak.

“We took those rocks?” Nali’s face lit up, trying to raise himself up. Nisa just nodded again. He lay back on the cot and sighed.

“I have never seen a worse ground,” Nisa began crushing some herbs in a goblet filled with wine. Suddenly Nali seized her arm. “Thou wilst give my boys full credit for today’s accomplishment?” Nisa was truly frightened now at Nali’s state, she needed to get him to sleep. With shaking hands she forced the cup into Nali’s hands. He examined it for a moment and then gave a knowing smile.

“Aye we’ll drink on it then.” He drained the cup and fell into a content, yet feverish, sleep.
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Old 07-19-2009, 06:41 PM   #180
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Kór

They apparently had reached Trór just in time, or perhaps the dwarf lord felt he could let go now that there were friendly shields and axes to protect him. He fell unconscious into the midst of his rescuers, though not before dispatching another orc attacker. All the would-be rescue party could do for several moments was fend off the orcs who rushed at them, seeing an opportunity to pick off a small group distracted by their fallen comrade. But then there was a whistling overhead, and many of the dwarves instinctively crouched down to try to cover their heads as well as their bodies with their shield. But the whistling came from behind them, and arrows weeded out the orcs in the front lines.

Trór’s body was pulled quickly behind the wall of the Kór and Grór’s shields, and was dragged slowly through the snow back into the vanguard even as the other warriors continued to push forward. They could not raise up Trór’s body to carry it respectfully, no matter how much they wished to – for his own safety and for the entire army. They could not bear his unconscious form away for all to see that their lord was leaving the battlefield in less than victorious fashion.

As the rescue party pulled back into the dwarven ranks, ready warriors flooded around them to hold the ground from which they had retreated. Kór felt almost able to relax, but when he had a moment to turn around, he felt a new fear and apprehension. Regardless of how he felt about Trór, this was the Uzbad Khazaddűmu, and the heart of the soldiers if not yet the heart of the civilians. Kór had to wonder if Trór’s reign would indeed not even last a day.

Quickly Kór got to work with the others. While Grór took Trór by the legs, Kór helped ease the stress on Trór’s body by lifting him from underneath. At least four dwarves helped carry the Lord of Khazad-dűm off the battlefield. It was unceremonious, but they hoped to avoid any commotion over the fallen lord as well as get him aid as quickly as possible.

~*~

Kórin

Kórin could only listen to the women in the First Hall fretting for so long. As wounded dwarves began to trickle in early still in the battle, many bravely rolled up their sleeves and did everything they could to put the warriors back together. But some spent more time worrying, and voicing their worry, than Kórin could stand. These were the types who would spend all their time worrying and leave no time to do anything about it.

She had already donned her mail and carried her mace at her side, and had gone to the hospital in the First Hall to get news about the battle. Unfortunately she learned little, and was still steaming over how much time she had wasted as she made her way to the Dimrill Gate. Kórin soon joined the ranks of the rearguard, but attempted to make her way forward in the lines as quickly as she could without disrupting the formation. Many dwarves glanced at her, even while they did their best to ignore her, and before long an officer instructed Kórin to take her place in line and stay there. She was disgruntled, but obeyed and held her peace. She was here to be a soldier, and she realized she should act like one.

She could not help watching the wounded being carried back from the front lines, fearing that each body might be a familiar face. Of course, it was perhaps better that Kór be among the wounded carried away than the dead left on the field until victory was won or...

Kórin did catch a glimpse of her brother, and she felt relief well up in her, though her tenseness did not lessen. He was not being carried, but was bearing a dwarf along with several others. She could not see the wounded dwarf to know who he was, but she would not approach her brother. She would not break ranks, and it was enough to see him alive. What more was there to know?

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Old 08-02-2009, 09:15 PM   #181
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Trór

Everything was dark. Trór was walking in total darkness as conscience of himself as if he had been awake, but he knew that it was a dream. He was still dressed in his armor, his axe, black with his enemy's blood, his axe was still in his hand, but the pain in his side was gone.

Trór could sense something staring at him in the darkness. He moved forward cautiously, repetitively looking over his shoulder. His boots made a dull thud on the unseen floor and echoed all around him.

A voice broke the silence and it was not his own.

"Trór."

He froze at the mention of his name--afraid to move afraid to speak. Again, the same voice called to him, only this time louder. "Trór." He spun around expecting to come face to face with a gruesome spectre, but was still met with utter blackness.

“Friend or devil,” Trór, “I do not know into what vision or nightmare you have cast me under, but I will see your face. I command you to show yourself.”

Footsteps could be heard close by. Trór gripped his axe and braced himself for a terrifying encounter. However, instead of a wraith or demon, Trór was met by what looked to be an old Dwarf, but Trór knew that this was no ordinary Dwarf. The Dwarf wore a crown of pure silver, richly carved and decorated with jewels the like of which Trór had ever seen. Robes gracefully flowed in the Dwarf’s walk and were of the finest needle point. Trór knew he would never such crafts as these as long as he lived.

The Dwarf had a white beard that flowed down to his waist, his noise was sharp and his face was wrinkled. He stood tall and in reality was shorter than Trór, but the air of the Dwarf and the authority vested in his stare made Trór feel very small. The Dwarf’s stare far surpassed Trór’s worst glare and Trór quickly fell on his knees.

“Spirit I know that you are no devil come to taunt me. I know that I am dead and that I am now encountering the terrible unknown that all Dwarves face when they have died. Spare me, I pray you! What is it you will?”

Trór dared to look up at the spirit, somewhere he had seen this face before whether etched in stone or in person but he could not tell. The spirit bade him rise (which Trór readily did). Trór saw that they were standing within the walls of Khazad-dum itself, he was not dead--this was a vision! The spirit pointed to the end of the hall. Fire! there was a fire in the mines.

“What does this mean, spirit?” But the spirit said nothing. Instead, it gave Trór a very pitiful look and bowed its head (it looked to Trór as if it was crying). Suddenly, Trór could hear the din of a battle surrounding them. Once again he felt the pain in his side. The vision was gone.

The battle echoed in his ears. He could feel himself being lifted by strong arms and felt the swaying motion of his march. He still felt the pain in his ribs and wondered if he was bleeding. Trór's eyes were shut, his muscles stiff; unable to speak unable to move, but he was conscious.

Trór could hear his bearers talking to one another.

"Is he dead?"

"He breaths still. Let us wake him."

"Don't put him down!"

"Keep moving!" Trór recognized two of the voices for Kór and Grór.

With great effort, Trór conjured enough determination to speak.

“Put me down!”

“My lord,” spoke Gror, “The Uzbad Khazaddűmu lives!”

Trór opened his eyes and saw that he was within the gateway of the First Hall. Trór immediately thought of his vision and the fire in the mines. He wanted to jump up and run to great halls to see if they were burning, but he found that he was unable to stand without great pain. He looked over and saw wounded warriors lying all around him suddenly he remembered: the battle.

“Warriors, how goes the battle.” For a minute the thought of defeat had entered his mind.

“We still hold most of the defenses, my lord, but they might be overrun even as we speak. Shall the horns blow retreat?”

“Retreat?” A fire leapt back into Trór’s eyes. Gone was the memory of the vision. He only thought of the battle. “If our foes were a hundred times stronger I would not sound retreat! For us there is not retreat, only victory or defeat. Help me up. Give me a banner to lean on and I will stand in the gateway for our enemy to see. I am still Lord of Khazad-dum and I still live!”
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:45 PM   #182
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Kór

Kór was not sure if he was more stunned by Trór’s sudden return to consciousness, or by the suggestion that retreat was necessary. He only half listened to Trór’s vehement rejection of retreat, for he was startled for different reasons. The reality of the battle suddenly fell on him, not only of the dire situation he had witnessed firsthand, but also of the empty eyes and the blood that shined on his chainmail… Kór felt weariness rush over him, as his body could not make up its mind if it was sweltering or chilled, and he began to shake all over, his muscles’ support seeming to melt away.

Kór was thus quite happy to obey Trór’s command, and let go of the Uzbad Khazaddűmu. The others lowered him to let him stand upright, but two remained supporting him.

“I am still Lord of Khazad-dűm and I still live!”

Kór, Grór and the others could only look at the Lord of Khazad-dűm for a moment or two, as each tried desperately to figure out how to argue with their lord and extremely stubborn dwarf. Looking into Trór’s eyes, Kór could not help but wonder if he was completely mad.

“With all respect, my lord,” he began quietly and calmly, feeling distant, “that will almost certainly change if you return to the battle. And if we do not retreat while we can, your soldiers will be limited to those you see here.” He gestured toward the wounded.

Kór was glad his sister had not gotten her way. He knew he could not assume she was not out in the snowy night beside it all, but he couldn’t think about that right now.

~*~*~

Kórin

No one was left out of the battle now. The regiment Kórin had adopted was attacked from the side, as the orcs poured around the dwarven forces, greatly outnumbering them. Taken by surprise and in disarray, they could only hope to maintain their position and fight for their lives. Kórin felt useless as she watched the dwarven ranks around her thin.

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Old 08-26-2009, 03:22 PM   #183
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Vigdis

They were fighting outside, she knew. She could hear the thundering even to the distant cavern where she was working. Dwarf against goblin, good against evil, defenders of their realm against murderers. Any other day, she should have been there, her beautiful sword and her strong arms, her fierceness and skill protecting Khazad-dűm like so many times before. She was enough of a warrior to have been summoned.

But she had been appointed with a duty even more important than fighting the enemy. Instead of revenging her lord's death she would be making him remembered, she, always a mason over a warrior, was carving his tombstone when they were fighting at the very gates. Ignoring the battles, momentarily forgetting the flickering flame and the echoes in the dark, she was fully concentrating in her craft, pouring her skill and love to the stone.

Memories, how they hurt. The scene in her room at night, the first time ever meeting him, all the days exploring the tunnels of Erebor with him. The memories would go, go to the stone and the stone would keep them, live through them, breath through them. His eyes when he explained his crew he had found a new tunnel closer to the top of the mountain, his laugh when she had suggested asking King Dáin for a special permission to break through a wall, his strong body carrying the heavy blocks of stone in the tunnels with pearls of sweat on his brow. All going to the stone, to the shape, the slight curving of the beautiful dark gray block. And his first speech to the colony in Khazed-dűm, the shadows of worry behind his bright eyes, his fierce swordstrokes in a goblin attack. All of them went to the perfectly, mlikily white slab of stone to be placed on top of the oblong dark rock.

And the last time he had looked at her, his eyes briefly passing over her face and the hint of a smile of recognition when he was leaving for the Mirrormere, never to return. That she kept in mind when she carved:

BALIN FUNDINUL
UZBAD KHAZADDŰMU

which would be read in later times by speakers of the common tongue as

BALIN SON OF FUNDIN
LORD OF MORIA
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:14 AM   #184
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Kénan and Kéni fought side by side, inching back together step by step as the forces of the orcs continued to press forward. Kénan knew from the beginning that they could not win. The only reasonable thing to do was to retreat back within the mountain and barricade the gates, but the order was never given.

Kéni was wearing out. Kénan saw his strokes become feeble and sweat poured down his beardless face. The suddenly a large orc broke through the seething lines of dwarves and goblins. He lunged towards Kénan. The old dwarf parried the thrust of his spear, but the orc brought the shaft up hard against Kénan’s chest in a back handed stroke. Kénan stumbled back, almost thrown off his feet. Before he could regain his balance and attack the orc again, the creature had turned to Kéni. He swung with the butt end of his spear at Kéni’s head. The boy jerked back to avoid it and tried to parry with his axe. He missed, and as his wielding arm went wide with the stroke, the goblin took advantage of his opened guard and plunged the spear deep into his chest.

Kénan hurtled himself forward with a roar of fury. With one blow of his axe, he hacked the head from the spear’s shaft and then with the second swing, removed the head from the orc’s neck. He fought as thought he had gone mad, his eyes blazing and spit frothing at his mouth as with each stroke he cursed the orcs and all their descendants.

But after he had killed many and cleared a circle about Kéni, he returned to his grandson. The broken spear protruded from his chest, but he was still alive and conscious.

Kénan hung his axe on his belt and stooped and lifted Kéni in his arms, as though he weight no more in his armor than a little child. Then he bore him back to the gate.

Inside someone met him. Kéni changed hands to be carried in for help, if possible. “How goes it?” Kénan asked. “Do you know?”

“Lord Trór has been brought in wounded. He says we are not to retreat.”

Kénan looked at Kéni, gasping and struggling for breath, and he shook his head.

“No. We will not retreat.” His hand tightened around the haft of his axe. He stooped and kissed Kéni’s brow, murmured, “Goodbye, son. You fought well. I will meet you in the halls of our fathers.” Then he turned and strode back out into the cold night of blood and snow.
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:51 PM   #185
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From the quill of loremaster Drok . . .

Long have we heard the glory of the Longbeards, now listen to this testimony of their worth.

From the time of the Lord Trór’s wounding the battle stood against the Dwarves. Long did the brave leaders stand against the tides of darkness, praying for the dawn. The steadfast Lóni, his brow wet and weary, firmly held the center. In vain did all the host of the foe strive to break the resolve of the Dwarves, but the Orcs reckoned without the great wrath of Frar--prowess more skilled than an eagle in vaunting flight against sparrows. See yonder foe stayed by so few defenders. Without Lóni and Frar the heroism yet to be mentioned would not have happened.

Yet, not all great deeds were done by nobles this day. Kórin fought bravely within the Dwarven ranks. Many Dwarves fell about her, yet she did not shirk and continued bravely at the fore of her companions. Likewise, Kénan, stripped of all noble trappings, begrudged this not when duty called and gave great testimony to the strength of his generation.

Doubtful the battle stood; as two spent swimmers, that do cling together and choke each other with all their art. All seemed lost till the Lord Trór emerged from the Mountain seemingly unscathed by battle or fatigue. A banner was in his hand, for he had lost his spear in battle, and his axe was held aloft. The Orcs wondered to see his hardy figure displayed so swiftly after seeing him fall and swiftly born away. The Dwarves cheered and pressed ever forward into the stunned Orcs.

The merciless Orcs--worthy to be such creatures, for, to that, the multiplying villainies of nature do swarm upon them--from the Northern realm of Gundabad of Hobgoblins and Wolves is supplied; and fortune, on their quarrel smiling, showed in their favor: yet all were too weak; for brave Oin, --well he deserves that name. Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution, like valor's minion, carved out his passage till he faced the leader of the Orc rabble. Accompanied by Ori was the brave Oin and together sifted through the body guards as a sickle does to wheat ripe for the harvesting. Face to face stood Oin against the Orc leader, Gorfang was his name, which never shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, till Oin unseamed him from the crest the the nave and fixed his head upon the battlements!

At this the Orcs, though greatly superior in numbers, succumbed fatigue of their long march and stout fight against the Dwarves-- they eagerly fled the field. Loath was Trór to restrain his warriors from routing his foe, yet he saw for himself the thinned force which he now commanded. Then was the diminished Dwarf host drawn within the curtains of Narvi’s Gates --never again to usher forth from their halls. The Goblins set siege to the mountain and with crude picks and hammers started biting into the mountain.
Thus ended the Second Battle Azulbizar.

May it please you gentle listener to hear of the second day of our story and the great undoing of Khazad-dum.
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Old 09-02-2009, 11:00 AM   #186
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The wounded had been brought within the lower hall. Iari had woken alone, her heart aching for her brother and grandfather. She had spent much time crying that Kéni had decided to fight. She had been told she was too young to understand duty, to understand his need to fight. Iari may not have understood those things, but she did understand family and already her family had lost too many members in her short life.

Now in the hall Iari searched among the wounded for sign or word of Kénan and Kéni. Iari had heard rumblings that the orcs would break through and take the hall soon, but she couldn't be troubled by that, not now.

She spotted Kéni, laid out on the floor, a thin blanket over his body. Iari rushed over and saw a large, red spot in the chest of the blanket. "Kéni!" she wailed. She reached out to undercover her brother, to see the damage that was done. Another, less wounded, dwarf stopped her.

"Best if you not see that, lass."

Iari refused to let tears forms. If she cried she would show despair for Kéni. His wound couldn't be so bad, could it? If he was going to die they wouldn't have taken the time to bring his body back, right?

Iari knelt next to Kéni, taking his hand in hers. She used her free hand to smooth out his hair. "Kéni? Kéni, please wake up." Iari's brother mumbled a few things, but didn't wake up.

She curled up in a ball next to him. At some point while laying next to Kéni Iari fell asleep herself. She awoke with Kénan's shadow above her and she was still holding Kéni's hand in her own.

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Old 09-06-2009, 03:42 PM   #187
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Lóni

As Lóni walked back into the underground halls, he felt like awakening from some kind of dream. The outcome of the battle - especially the last, what was it, seconds? Minutes? Hours? - it all seemed unreal to him, hazy, as if he had not really been there, or maybe he had, but in some other life or time or memory.

At one point, the Orcs were charging at them, they released their arrows and the black tide stopped, and he saw Trór being carried away from the battlefield. And in the next moment, the onslaught was renewed, and Lóni was once again holding his ground in the small spot beneath the slopes of the mountain, in front of the gates. And was it the Mountain, the one where he had been before? He could not discern one memory, or dream, from the other. He remembered the glorious moment when the gates swung open and the figure of their leader stood there. Thorin in Erebor. Trór in Azanulbizar. Did the past and the present always seem so intertwined? Lóni felt like awakening from a dream, but he now started to feel the present very strongly.

"It is like emerging from deep water, isn't it," said a voice next to him. He turned and saw Óin's face, with his white beard dirty, his face bearing an exhausted expression. Lóni nodded.

"True. But I am afraid that this was not yet the last time when we have had to go into the water."

Óin shrugged and, turning to join a group of Dwarves who followed to see the Lord of Moria, disappeared in the crowd. Lóni walked on, he intended to see his brother first to tell him that he is all right. Lóni was imagining how Náli could already be worried, especially if he heard about what happened to Trór, and knowing that Lóni was nearby.

However, it was only after he didn't find his brother among the leaders of the right flank, that Lóni started to feel a bit unsettled. Then he asked, and finally somebody told him that his brother had been wounded. They pointed him to the place where Náli lay, and Lóni walked there, fearful in expectation.

"Oh brother," he said, when he looked at the motionless body. He could not say anything more, he just gazed at his brother's face, his body, his legs, everything so much alike to his own. There were only two differencies for the older of the brothers - the two eyes still hidden behind the closed eyelids, and only one arm, resting peacefully upon the blood-stained blanket.
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Old 09-07-2009, 11:37 AM   #188
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The Hall stank with the odor of blood— Nisa felt as if the whole Hall were rotting. She had been up the entire night attending the wounded and now was her chance to rest.

Nali was still unconscious. He had been lying still the entire night except for a few moments where he would violently thrash his head and mutter something. Even an unconscious Nali gave Nisa comfort, so she chose a spot close to Nali and began to nod. However, her sleep was soon disturbed by many heavy footfalls—the warriors had returned.

Nisa jumped up at this. Where was Trór? She couldn’t see him amongst the crowd. She knew that he had been wounded and returned to the battle, but where was he?


Trór

The rock surface of the table shifted its weight on its legs as Trór slammed his fist down.

“How many?”

Grór hesitated for a moment before he responded, fearing that his response would bring out an even worse reaction. “We lost a little less than half our strength, my lord.”

Trór stood silent for a long moment. This was not the kind of victory that he wanted, but it couldn’t be helped. Even an army a fraction of its former size was better than nothing at all—Trór was fortunate to still have an army.

“What of my nobles?”

“My lord, the casualtys are still coming in, but for now the only noble that we have lost is Nali.”

“Dead?” Trór’s eyes were wide with surprise and fear.

“No my lord, he has lost an arm.”

Again Trór fell silent. Nali was a good Dwarf and hard to replace. However, a match must be made, but later, not now. He turned back to his officers; most of them were minor for his nobles had not yet returned from battle.

“What of the miners in Second Deep, have they been sent for?”

“Yes, my lord, but we must remember that Lord Balin sent the miners out weeks ago to carve out new passages. They will be half a day more in reaching us. Lord Balin’s death will also be a great shock when they return; they might not be fit for duty until tonight.”

The officer would have continued, but Trór raised his hand for silence—the nobles had returned. Trór could see Ờin coming alone. His beard was splotched with blood, Trór smiled to see it—Ờin had showed his valor had not diminished with his age.

“So well your blood stained beard becomes you, as your valiant deed today; they both smack of honor. I am glad to see you well, Ờin.” Trór looked over his shoulder at his officers; all of them watching his meeting with Ờin as if it were a matter of pressing importance.

“There are too many eager ears here, my friend. Will you walk with me to the bridge? There is pressing matter that I must discuss with you.
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Old 09-07-2009, 03:18 PM   #189
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Óin

Once again, despite the fact that he had known Trór already for a long time, Óin was surprised. This Dwarf, he thought, was one who had been badly wounded in the battle not that long time ago, but how he bore himself! How he acted! His endurance had to be admitted, that was for sure. But when Trór asked Óin to follow him to the Bridge, the old Dwarf was slightly surprised. He did not give away any sign, though, his face remaining motionless.

"Aye," he said. "I will follow you."

A few of the captains shot their eyes in their direction, but neither Trór nor Óin made any response to it. They walked away, the older Dwarf following a few steps behind the current Lord of Moria. What is it, he thought, his blue eyes pinned on Trór's back, that the Lord was having on his mind? Was he planning to act in some way? Did he want Óin to go on a scouting mission, now, or to do something else to thwart the Orcs' plans? Óin would not be surprised at something like that, though he could imagine that it would be hard to get out of the gates, surely besieged by now. Even now he could see in his mind's eye the Orcs approaching the gates, choosing the best places to stand, the old Dwarf remembered every inch of that ground and he knew exactly where they would find good places to stay - and how hard would it be to drive them out of these spots.

At the near end of the bridge they stopped. Óin looked for a moment into the depths of the pit and shivered slightly at the breath of chill currents blowing into his face from the unknown depths. He shook his head and turned away.

"So," he said, raising his eyes to meet the sight of the younger Dwarf, but seeing instead a wounded, but a tough warrior and the Lord of this kingdom, now shrunk and besieged, however still a Dwarven realm of old. "What was it, Trór, that you wanted to tell me about? My earsight is not as good as it used to be, but I am listening to you."
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Old 09-15-2009, 02:49 PM   #190
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The orcs retreated even as the warriors of Khazad-dűm were beginning to feel the pressure of falling back. They managed to hold their ground fiercely enough that the orcs gave way. There was no doubt that the dwarves had lost many, and no matter how many orc corpses lay in the snow, the dwarves were now even more outnumbered due to their losses.

Kórin returned from the battlefield, exhaustion and realization hitting her hard. Even when she saw her brother in the First Hall, she could not feel relief like she had earlier. On her mail were splotches of her own blood, as well as the blood of others, orcs and comrades alike. She knew how many orcs she had felled that night, but that she could not count the number of dwarves she had seen fall kept her grim and silent.

When Kór saw his sister enter the hall among the other soldiers sent to the First Hall rather than kept outside as a garrison or to gather the remains of the dead, he almost smiled at first, with relief and with amusement at the fact that she did indeed get her wish to fight, but seeing her covered in the residue of battle left him unable.

Kór made his way to her. "Do you have any wounds that need tending?" he asked after an awkward moment of plain recognition.

"Not any that need tending before others'," she began. "For one thing, I am still standing."

Kór could only nod and look down at his feet. "Trór is among those wounded. We were afraid he was dead..."

"Was that whom you were carrying off the field?" Kórin asked.

Kór nodded. He was starting to shake, and it was getting difficult to speak.

"So he has survived the majority of his men," Kórin said grimly. She looked around the Hall for the new Uzbad Khazaddűmu, but did not catch sight of him.

Staring at his sister's face, wondering at the flat seriousness of her expression, Kór spoke, "We need a drink."

So they returned to the Twenty-first Hall where their day had begun in revelry, and bore back Kórin's keg to the First Hall along with others who brought food and drink to the soldiers returning from battle.

For now they would recover their strength, and leave it to the lords to determine the next step in protecting their lives and their home. They could hold out in the vast depths of Khazad-dűm for a long time, but she was not sure they had the strength anymore to make an effective defense. Still, there was hope of survival, if it could be called that, as the mines ran deep...

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Old 09-22-2009, 06:21 PM   #191
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Frar leaned heavily against the stone wall and let his axe fall to the ground with a dull but resounding clatter, like heavy bones knocking against each other. His black hair and beard were matted and sticky and made even blacker with orc blood, save for a few red patches where his own blood, oozing from a gash above his right eye, mixed with theirs. The wound had ceased to bleed and was now bandaged with a strip of linen wound many times around his head. His armor was scored deeply on all sides, but only in a few places had it failed altogether, and these wounds too had been bandaged up - and the armor buckled straight back on over them. Altogether, the appearance of the titanic warrior was one of battered, ferocious dignity. Though the head-bandage unfortunately covered his right eye, his Frar's left eye burned with a redoubled fire, a fire that had been rising all day and that the recent battle had only serve to stoke. Frar cast his heavy leather gauntlets down beside the axe, took a deep breath, and looked around him.

All around him were soldiers who had just returned from the field off battle. They trickled in, most wounded, most still in their armor, some of them bearing their gear with them from more distant chambers, clearly with the intent to stay. All were dirty and bruised and beaten in body - but still strong in spirit. They were in a moderately-sized chamber just off the main hall, just an arrow's flight from the Bridge of Khazad-dum, and from here they could answer any threat immediately. In the meantime, they would rest, bind their wounds, and wait.

Frar walked among his soldiers, taking in their strength and morale. He said little, but for his faithful dwarves, his nods and growls spoke plenty. They knew: he was tremendously proud of them and heartbroken at the wounds they had taken.

An hour or so later, his task completed, Frar went in search of Tror, hoping against hope that he had survived the last furious skirmish before the orcs had retreated down the Dale. Their losses had been great and only a very few of their surviving soldiers had gone unscathed. Frar was not excited about bringing his report to Tror, but it was necessary nonetheless.
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Old 09-27-2009, 04:26 PM   #192
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Some two hours later

Vigdis

Hasty footsteps in the corridor. Vigdis lifted her gaze from her work which she had been watching for a time she could not venture to estimate. Yes, they were real footsteps, not ghost-like, and light, lighter than the footsteps she had half expected to hear.

"Help!" a voice called, and it was a young voice. Should I care? wondered Vigdis, still staring at the stone that looked so final, so cold despite all the love she had poured into it.

"Help me!" the voice called, now with a note of desperation. These are your people, Vigdis, she told herself, he would have wanted you to look after them. Not without regret, she left her work - it was finished, she was telling herself, it had been finished already for a while - and stepped into the corridor.

A boy was running towards her, looking exhausted and face full of horror. His step was not steady, he looked as if he was about to faint. "Help!" he shouted again.

"Calm down, what's the matter?"

The boy jerked his head abruptly and stopped upon hearing her voice. "I have... there is... I must tell something to Lord Trór." His eyes were filled with tears. He looked as if he could fall unconscious to the floor at any minute. Vigdis nodded at him approvingly. "You are a brave man, and I see you have done all you can to deliver the message. But you do seem tired, tell it to me and I can take your message forwards."

The boy wavered for a while and said: "My lady..." (Vigdis was both amused and utterly bewildered to be addressed so) "there is something in the mines. I... I was there with my grandfather... he... he's a miner and we went down to the third tunnel by the chasm and there was... there was suddenly red light everywhere... and then blackness, blacker than the blackest smoke... and I asked if it was... if it was a coal fire and grandpa said yes but he did not look like he was telling the truth and he told me to run... to run as fast as I can to the colony... and leave him there because... because he can't run because he has only one leg..." The boy burst into tears and Vigdis stared at him helplessly, not sure what to do and grief and fear building in her heart.

The boy cried. Vigdis hated to do what she did, but now it was not only about one poor little boy, it was about the whole colony. She spoke up harshly: "Is that all? Did your grandfather tell you why he told you to run? It's not the time for useless weeping, we may all be in grave danger."

The boy looked at her, humiliated and angry, but continued: "He told me I had to run and leave him there because I had sworn to my mum I will obey him whatever he says. He said it is important I make it back even if he can't because it may be that our worst fear has awoken."

Vigdis' heart was filled with dread. Durin's Bane... all these years she had thought, or liked to think, that it was a mere legend, a nightmare from old times. But the flame and the shadow, and the old man's words... they could not be ignored. Even a legless man could have stood a chance to run from a coal fire and he had undoubtedly seen something...

The boy was still weeping, but quietly, standing on his own two legs, but hardly managing it. For the first time Vigdis saw clearly how young he was, how utterly unready to face such horrors. "Come," she said, gently this time, "I will take you to rest and your news to Lord Trór. I swear. You need not to worry about this anymore."

The boy walked to her obediently and took her arm to lean on. He let her take him to her workroom and wrap her in the blanket she kept there for the cold nights she used for working. He let her pour something strong and warm down his throat, and started feeling dizzy. "Now, sleep well, brave one," he heard her murmur. "But... what about grandpa? Will someone go look for him?" the boy asked urgently.

Vigdis hesitated a while before replying. "Certainly," she lied when she saw the little one close his eyes. Then she hurried away.

On her way, she met Adela, the kitchen maid she had been talking with earlier. "Look," she said, "there is a young boy in my workroom, sleeping. Someone should take care of him. Can you find that someone?" "Sure thing," Adela said, and Vigdis left her with brief thanks.

She was trying to find Lord Trór when she bumped into a venerable old dwarf with a messy beard of straw yellow and grey. "I need to see the Lord. It is urgent."


Ori

Urgent? Ori wondered, raising his eyebrows as the young woman rushed into him and started demanding things. He was displeased to notice that she hadn't bothered to add one bit of respect to her tone or phrasing. He could recall this was the woman whom Balin had let fight with the search parties and who had always seemed to be found nearby where he was, sometimes even holding private council with him. For some reason, he found this unbearably irksome at the moment.

"I did not see you fighting today? Where were you hiding? Finally realised your place?"

Her cool grey eyes flashed with unexpected fire. "Yes, master Ori, indeed. I was carving the tomb of Lord Balin."

He was afraid he could not hide his surprise, nor his displeasure. A woman carving the tomb? And this arrogant, improper woman of all the female craftmasters they had? "On whose orders?" he asked carefully. He did not want to sound too rude - it was possible someone had really appointed her to do it.

"I got the orders from Master Náli, but I understand he had agreed with Lord Trór." She did not need to add that it was not Ori's business to question the decision in this case, he could hear it in her voice and he had to admit she was right.

So, even grumpier than before, he decided to change the topic: "And you came here for a reason, I understand?"

"Yes. I have news for Lord Trór."

"He's resting. He was sorely wounded."'

"Then I hope Mahal grants him the strength to heal quickly. However, my news are urgent and cannot wait."

"You can tell your news to me, young woman, and I can judge whether they're urgent enough to bother the Lord with, or not."

The grey eyes flashed again. "Firstly, the mission I was appointed with is done. Lord Balin now has a tomb to reside in." She made a brief pause and while he remained expressionless, she continued: "An old miner and his grandson were in the third tunnel by the chasm, in the lower mines, today and it seems they came face to face with Durin's Bane."

Ori felt all the colour leave his face. Of course, it had always been here, the fire and the shade, but they had been foolish enough to hope it was gone, or forever asleep... and of all moments it chose to appear now. "I need to talk to these miners. Lord Trór needs to see them. Now," he said in a hollow voice.

"I'm afraid it's impossible. The old miner has - most probably - perished and his grandson is currently unavailable. He was exhausted and I gave him some drink, he is asleep now."

"On whose authority did you do that? The information is crucial!" Ori shouted, surprising even himself. He hardly ever lost his temper.

"On my own authority, and judgement. The boy would have been of no use to you. I now know what he knows and you can wake him up when you really need him. He was so exhausted he could barely speak even when I met him."

Ori could feel the anger boil inside himself. What was this woman to act on her own judgement on such important matters? But delivering these news to Lord Trór was more important now than the dispute with this insolent woman. "I'm going to see Lord Trór now," Ori said calmly, "and you'd better follow me."

The woman nodded curtly, and followed Ori without a word.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:37 AM   #193
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So many thoughts whirled through Trór’s head. Where to start? “I could almost see them,” he began, “Our troops moving in one smooth motion down the mountain. The Orcs almost broke. I could feel them braking. If only I had more warriors, I could have crushed them.” Trór lifted his open hand and slowly crushed the air, gazing at it in a vision of victory.

Weary and bereft of sleep, he braced himself against a pillar. He lifted his axe and examined, the head stained a permanent black. “Have you ever felt hopeless?” Trór was still looking at his axe but he could feel Oin’s eyes burning a hole in his head. There was no answer. Oin knew that Trór was asking a rhetorical question and waited for his lord to expound on it.

“When I was wounded, my aides bore me off the battlefield. While I was unconscious I had a dream. In my dream I met a Dwarf; his was beard as white as the snow capped mountains and I knew I had seen him before, though I knew not where. He led me for many hours (at least it seemed like hours) without saying a word through my kingdom, empty and dark, until presently a light began to show—a dull burning red glow from one of the roads that led to the mines. The dwarf looked at me with a sad and foreboding face. There was another road, though I did not see it at the time, but I remember now. It was dark and it stank of Orc. Then the dream ended.”

Oin was patient and expressionless. He did not say anything and Trór was thankful for it.

“I know that face,” Trór began again; “He was staring at me the entire time I could not see him. I believe it was Balin in my dream.” Trór started to stroke his beard. “Oin, I have lived a soldier’s life for as long as I can remember, but I have never felt anything as brutally clear as this. It is as if tomorrow has already happened and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Again Trór fell silent. An idea was blowing in his brain, but there was no time to think. He no longer felt his usual bold and tenacious character sweep hold of him; instead, he felt slow, he felt careful, but something was happening. It left him breathless. As if something was hunting him. The odor of death was everywhere. The wounded, the dead, and the dying were all uncomfortable reminders of an ever encroaching enemy.

“Something is approaching, Oin. It shakes my very soul with fear to think of what it might be.” Trór left the support of the pillar and stood looking across the bridge. “If I had an army I would stay and fight. But this is not an army! Can I ask them to do what I dread to do myself?

“Oin, my friend I trust your counsel. My plan of fighting has failed –the Hollin Gate is still open. Our hope is waning fast; we have a few hours to make a decision.”
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Old 10-10-2009, 12:53 PM   #194
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Óin

Óin was listening to the new Lord of Moria with growing discomposure. Even in his old face, he could not hide the surprise at the words he heard - and the fear. When Trór ended, the old scout was frowning so hard that his snow-white eyebrows stood almost vertically above the blue eyes, gleaming like the waters of a still mountain lake.

At last he shook his head.

"My lord, my lord, this is not nice for my ears at all what you say. But of course, you are right in implying what you think. Look at me, I have known for a few hours already what is likely going to happen - and yet I did not have the courage to admit it to myself, or to say it aloud. See, I do not have it even now." He chuckled, but his face remained grave. "I see. The beasts outside are upon us, and it is only the question of time before they breach the gates of Khazad-dűm. We have women, children, and civilians with us. Balin would know that I will be the last one to abandon my place in defending his home, but he would also do his best to protect those who are with him. And if it means retreating - so be it. The Hollin Gate is still open, you said. Very well. If you want to hear my opinion, Lord Trór," he paused for a while, as if still pondering for himself before actually saying it aloud, "I believe we should take our chances. Moria is deep, but the Orcs do not know it. I do. I can reach the Hollin Gate in two days' march, or even less, if need be. Of course, with any company, the journey might prove to be somewhat slower, but still... I say it is worth an attempt. Even if..." He sighed. "Even if the Orcs enter Moria, they will not be able to pursue anybody soon. And they will not dare to go further from the mountains, I know them, dirty monsters. They will be content with Khazad-dűm and what is left of it."

"And there is this other thing you spoke of..." Once again, the old Dwarf fell silent. Then he suddenly burst into rage. "By Durin's beard! How is that even possible? Is all the evil turning upon us? By Durin's beard, this is not a coincidence. Dreams can be tricky, lord Trór, but I know, I feel, something's wrong, and this time..."

Suddenly, he stopped and turned his head. He shook it, so his long white hair wagged, but he was not imagining things: loud voices were coming, and approaching fast.

"They said he is by the Bridge..."
"I need to speak to him, because if this is true..."
"What is it? What did the woman say?"

Óin recognised the voices: one belonged to Ori, another to Frár. Soon, he and Trór saw the dark shapes approaching.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:23 AM   #195
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Kénan, Iari, and Kéni

Kénan approached quietly. He knew Kéni was mostly likely dead, but what smote at his heart the hardest was the small figure of Iari, crumbled in a little heap beside him. As he drew near, he saw that she was asleep. Good. Perhaps she had missed her brother’s passing. But she had one of his hands clasped in hers.

Still several paces away from them, Kénan took off his helmet and took the axe from his belt. He laid them down on the stone floor before coming over to the two children. Iari did not stir immediately. Kénan glanced at Kéni’s face, and surprisingly, he did not look dead after all.

“Grandfather?” Iari murmured. Kénan looked down at her. She stirred and then sat up. Her hand never relinquished that of her brother.

Kénan knelt beside her and together they looked into Kéni’s face. Kénan wanted to say something, but he did not know what to say, or even how to say it. Should he tell her that her brother was about to die? Should he just wait and not even talk about it? What would she do when Kéni’s spirit did pass away? Reluctantly, he admitted to himself that he had never been very near to his granddaughter. Now he regretted it. He regretted it extremely.

“Iari. . .” he began, but then stopped, for the hand that rested in Iari’s moved slightly, tightening a little on her small fingers, and then relaxing again. Kénan shut his mouth and waited.
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:30 AM   #196
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Kéni's hand had moved. Iari turned away from her grandfather and clasped her brother's hand to her chest. "Kéni?" Both her hands held fast to his.

"Does he wake?" Kénan knelt beside his grandchildren. He had never put much stock in miracles, but now he looked for one. If the boy should die Iari's small heart would break into a million small pieces, but should he live... "Kéni, open your eyes, son."

The young dwarf stirred. Somewhere in his dreams he was trying to come awake. Kéni moaned and mumbled something incoherent. Perhaps he would come awake yet, at least to say his good-byes. Iari was holding tight to his hand the whole time.

"Open your eyes," Kénan commanded again.

But Kéni would not obey. With a final groan his hand went limp in Iari's. Kéni's chest stopped its labored rise and fall. A few moments passed in which Kénan let acceptance watch over him, while Iari came to realize what was happening. Tears, small and silent streamed down her face. She continued to grasp Kéni's hand, shaking her head all the while.

Kénan wrapped an arm around her shoulder. The grandfather had no notion of time, but eventually Iari let Kéni hand slip from her own. When she did she put her small arms around Kénan's waist and hid her face from the world.

Last edited by Kitanna; 10-19-2009 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:20 AM   #197
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Onli

At first, Onli felt rather content. Even though Vriti was struggling, claw and tooth, he managed to wash her and get rid of the foul stench. He was still wondering what did the poor animal do to come to smell so badly, also the hair on her back, which looked like burned, looked curious indeed. Probably she had been once again sneaking somewhere where she ought not have. Anyway, after the washing procedure completed, Vriti spat at Onli and angrily crawled under his bed to sleep, which meant that everything was all right again.

But then, Onli somehow managed to fall asleep. He only lay himself on the bed, but in the next moment he opened his eyes and realised that the candles on his table have burned out. How long he slumbered, he could not tell. Hastily, he lifted himself and rushed out of his chamber.

How could he have fallen asleep? That was such a stupid thing to do. Now, he only hoped that he did not sleep for too long, and that Náli has not been requesting his assistance meanwhile. Indeed, now that was not the best way to make a good impression, he thought as he was running down the stairs. But where was everybody? The halls were empty. Onli headed towards the Twenty-First hall, then, in hope to meet somebody.

And then he started to meet them. Groups of people, soldiers, returning from the battle. Returning. Onli shuddered. This was too bad. He had missed the battle. From what he gathered, the Goblins have effectively sealed them inside. Another great news. Has everything turned against him today? The last thing he wanted to find out now was that Náli had been in need of his right-hand man and he was nowhere to be found.

And then he came to the First hall, and saw him. There was also his brother, Lóni, and Nîsa. Suddenly, he felt sick. But slowly, he walked closer to make sure what he was looking at. There was no doubt: Náli's right arm was gone.
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:20 AM   #198
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Though Trór wished for Óin to continue, the discussion would have to wait. Óin’s counsel was unsettling. Although Trór first entertained the thought of heading farther into the city, the thought of fleeing bore sharp repercussions. Balin had not fully restored Khazad-dum to its former glory, though within a generation it might have been done. There will be no more songs praising the glories of Khazad-dum—the bard has sung his last note. Khazad-dum is already lost, but the fight goes on.

Frar and Ori bowed as they approached Trór.

“Stand, mighty nobles and tell me what news you bring. But first, Ori, who is this with you?”

Ori realised he didn't remember the woman's name, although he had surely heard it more than once. He coughed a bit uncertainly and then looked meaningfully at the woman, giving her a permission to introduce herself.

Vigdis turned to the lord and bowed a little. "My lord, I'm Vigdis daughter of Flósi, the mason your vassal Náli has entrusted with carving the tomb of Lord Balin. I may report to your briefly that the task is done, and invite you to survey my work."

Trór seemed to be sontent with this piece of information, but didn't say anything before Vigdis continued.

"However, my lord, this is not why I tried to find you and why Master Ori wanted to bring me to you. I have ill tidings to bring. An old miner and his grandson were in the third tunnel by the chasm, in the lower mines, today, and reputedly they came face to face with Durin's Bane."

“By Mahal’s beard!” Trór’s exclamation escaped his lips in a whisper.

Of all the terrors that could unleash itself against the fledgling colony, they would not stand a chance. Trór struggled to come up with options in his mind. Did this woman even see the fearsome demon? Trór paused for a moment, his mind cleared of thoughts. He looked at his nobles, forgetting the woman for the moment.

“Are we to uproot this colony on the word of a boy? How do we know that it wasn’t a fire in the mines? The,” Trór stopped, feared to mention that word, “the…creature has not been seen for centuries, not even King Dáin saw it when he looked through Narvi’s Gates, he only prophesized. In five years that we have lived here it has not disturbed us. No, it is dead. I will not decide without further proof.”

Óin bowed his head in thought. “Can we afford not to?”

Trór’s shoulders rose and fell in a huge sigh. His wound was burning again, it had been for a while but now it couldn’t be ignored. He folded his arms and slowly shook his head.

“Am I to move on the word of a boy?”

Frar's brow was furrowed and he stared hard at each of the speakers in turn.

Finally he spoke up.

"I say no, Tror. It was something else, but it was no Durin's Bane. I do not believe that if they had indeed come face to face with...that thing, they would have lived to tell the tale. There is some mistake." Frar laughed grimly. "And besides, if Durin's Bane has indeed come upon now, what can we do to resist? We would be finished. Our forces are already weak and wounded."

"My lord, if you excuse me," Vigdis spoke up, head held up high. "I believe the boy's tale. You may talk to him when he wakes up, he is now in the care of a woman named Adela. His grandfather has perished, but the boy said the old man recognised the Bane."

She turned to the warlike Dwarf who had spoken before her: "If you will not take the word of a boy, will you take that of his grandfather? Will you speak to the head miner Tófi and ask him would he consider the old man trustworthy and if he can verify his disappearance?" She spoke calmly, but a red hot flame of anger was growing in her. What would Balin have thought of this, the appearance of their worst nightmare denied merely because the witness was not yet of age? And he would be of age from this day on, no one could go through what he had come through today without being forced to grow up.

Ori looked away, troubled. He feared in his heart that what the woman was saying was true, but he longed to agree with Frár and dismiss it all as a childish fairytale and feminine exaggeration.

"Maybe it would help if we knew the name of the old miner who has disappeared..." he muttered more to himself than to anyone else. The echo strengthened his voice though, and everybody could hear it clearly.

Vigdis spoke again: "I do not know the name of the miner, nor that of his grandson, for that matter. However, it should be easy enough to find out - I doubt there are many one-legged old men among the miners."

Ori glanced at her. "Lord Trór," he said. "If I may, I will fetch this head of miners, Tófi. Maybe he will be able to tell us about this old man, and his grandson. And if you will, I will also send someone to enquire after the boy in question."

Both Frar’s and Ori’s words were expressions of what Trór was already thinking. He held up his hand, a single to wait—he was thinking. Too many rash decisions have led to this crisis. The woman had an honest face, but Frar and Ori were trustworthy officials. Frar was his close friend: a brother in arms; therefore it is logical that he would prefer to stand and fight. However, Ori was also experienced in these matters. No more time could be wasted—Trór’s decision must be decisive, not rash.

He spoke at last. "I don't think so Ori."Trór looked at Óin and smiled.

"I thank you for your council, my friend. It was most helpful," he turned to the rest of the group. Trór was evidently sure of choice, it was only a matter of time before he chose this road.

"Frar, you mentioned that the army is weak. I agree. In another pitched battle we could not win. Whether or not Vigdis is correct is no longer the question. Terror in the mines or impending battle with the Orcs, I'll choose the mines." There was a silence. There was an air of regret.

"I realize that this is a choice that Lord Balin would never choose, but," his voice became low and growlish, "I am not Balin!

"Óin, Frar, you go with Vigdis get the colony up we move immediately!"
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:45 AM   #199
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“Ori,” Trór reached out and grabbed Ori’s arm. “Would you mind coming with me? I have to show you something.”

Trór led him across the bridge and towards the chamber of Marzabul. The guards where still standing at the entrance and both snapped to attention as the two nobles approached. They both knelt once within the entrance in respects to Balin, whose regal body lay on the tomb that Vigdis had built. The tomb was indeed a marvelous accomplishment. Trór wondered how the mason could finish it within one night.

The chamber’s shelves, in which at one time held so many records, were empty except for a few books which had been brought from Erebor. One book in particular looked worn on the inside and some of the pages were sticking out. Trór took the book and opened it. There were many different handwritings: Balin, Trór, Ori, Kénan, Lóni, Oin. Maps, ledgers, and journal entries, all with different opinions. Trór handed the book to Ori.

“I do not have the moral courage to enter an account of these terrible two days. You have a way with words that I do not, write our story.”
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:47 PM   #200
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Trór's words were a command, not a plea.

Ori bowed low. "Yes, my lord," he said quietly.

He held the record in his hands, the book where he had written so often so light-heartedly about some small news, about finding a new vein of silver, or discovering a room, or defeating a band of orcs in the corridors. Now much heavier news lay on his quill, and he would have to write them down as well as he could.

He did not ask why he had been chosen to write this. It didn't seem to him he had any external merit to point at himself, but who would have? Who would be any more fit to write the saddest tidings this far?

Ori could feel tears forming in his eyes but also words were shaping in his mind. "I shall take the book to my keeping for now and record the story of our recent woes."
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