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Old 12-08-2008, 02:22 AM   #41
Arry
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Arry has just left Hobbiton.
Vitr was lost in thought, his gaze cast down at the smooth stones set in the chamber’s floor. His accustomed calm and thoughtful nature had taken the upper hand now, pushing away for the while the initial shock of Lord Balin’s death.

He thought now of his duty . . . his duties, rather. First to his family, both the responsibility for the welfare of his wife and children and for his father and his father’s father’s family extending back through their strand of the Longbeard clan. The clan itself – that it should remain viable and strong. And finally this small community which had given him and his family a place to grow and prosper. He wondered who would step up now to be their leader, an unenviable role to fill he felt.

Mahal grant him the strength and wisdom to see us through he murmured And us the same to follow where he leads.

‘Excuse me . . .’ The voice of one of the elder men pulled Vitr from his ruminations. ‘You have two little ones, have you not?’ Kénan asked. ‘Perhaps you’ve seen my two grandchildren - my granddaughter may have played with your little girl tonight, and I have not seen either of them.’

‘Master Kénan!’ Vitr reached out to clasp the man’s arm. He was glad to make contact with something more substantial than his own thoughts.

‘We came late to the celebration. It was my son and daughter’s birthday and we had a little party of our own at home. Sorry to tell you, but I don’t think Tíva saw your granddaughter - Iari, yes? - this evening. We had not been here all that long before . . .’ He glanced toward the throne, at the marble stone at its foot which served as Lord Balin’s bier. ‘. . . before the awful news was brought to us and Lord Balin borne in.’

Vitr fell silent for a moment.

'And sorry, too - that Tív and Tíva are not here for you to ask. I sent them home with their mother.' He gestured about the chamber. 'This was too much for them. They're too young to take this in all at once, and they were frightened.'
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:56 PM   #42
Durelin
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Silence fell over the hall in waves as Trór and some others who had accompanied Lord Balin entered the hall. Their lord was not with them...there were so few of them, and their faces were so grim. Kórin swallowed Lys’ ale, and did not remember how it tasted. Kór’s harp was one of the last sounds to die in the Twenty-first Hall. He stood up from the stool he had been seated on, and gazed around.

Before he saw anything that could cause an entire celebration to cease, Kór heard those terrible words: “Balin has fallen.” The painful silence dragged on for several more moments, as everyone stood stunned and silently mourning, still determining how they should react, how they should vocalize their sadness, or what should be done. As sound slowly started to return to the hall, as weeping and angry questioning and words of despair filled the hall, Kór hurried to find his sister.

He found Kórin in a rather sorry state. She had returned to filling mugs, but now they were mostly for herself. She had started tipping back mug after mug at a startling rate almost immediately after the news arrived. Kór could only thank Mahal that his sister held her ale much better than he did…and that Kórin actually started to grow quieter beyond a certain limit.

She glanced at her brother, but did not acknowledge him as he approached.

“This isn’t going to make you feel any better Kórin,” Kór said sadly, then added in more of a murmur, “It’s not going to make anyone feel better.”

“Oh shutup and have a drink,” Kórin muttered. “Maybe it will make you less of a prude.”

Cradling his harp in his arms, Kór plopped down on the bench next to his sister. The body of their lord was carried through the hall, and nearly every dwarf in Khazad-dűm at that time crowded around and formed a great procession. The siblings sat quietly, watching.

“Balin dead, just like that, eh?” Kórin suddenly broke the silence between them. “I bet the orcs have finally come back for us,” she added surprisingly lucidly. Kór could not think of a way to reply. He leaned forward and grabbed a mug.

Last edited by Durelin; 12-10-2008 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 12-08-2008, 05:31 PM   #43
Groin Redbeard
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Nali

Never before had Nali felt as helpless as he did when he laid the dead Balin upon his throne. There was no shame for those that wept for this man and Nali wept bitterly so that the tears stained his face, he wept like a mother over the prostrate body of a dead son. Only the comforting words of Loni could draw him away, although Loni himself felt remorse it had not drained all the strength from him.

“Come, my brother,” Loni said. “We must stay strong for the people’s sake.” His brother left Nali leaning against a pillar in the great hall before Loni left him to pay his own respects to Balin.

Nali felt tired, his sobs that racked his body had robbed him of strength. There was a dull nagging pain in his stomach and he left in search of food, he did not have to go far, delicious delicacies lay across the massive tables. He examined a piece of cold half eaten mutton before he cut off a piece and eagerly gnawed at it. It would have been a happy moment if Balin had been alive. He smiled for a moment as he envisioned the happy scene that would have been, but tears came into his eyes as the reality struck him that it was not to be. Nali slammed the piece of mutton on the table angrily, he felt new vigor enter him.

“This cannot be tolerated,” he muttered to himself. “Vengeance must be had for our king!”

Out of he corner of his eye Nali noticed that he was not alone. He glanced at across the table at a dwarf he had never seen before. The dwarf wore a dark brown beard, which had been tucked into his belt, and wore a ridiculous leather cap to protect him from the elements of the early winter weather.

“Who are you?” Nali asked, but not crossly or unfriendly.

“My name is Grór,” the dwarf began. “Ori sent me to find someone name Trór. Do you know where I can find him?”

“Grór, art thou from Erebor?”

“Yes, I was sent by King Dain to obtain news from this colony. Alas, I am afraid that the news is not a pleasant one.”

“Ori has told you then of our lords death?” Grór nodded his head. “Then come, my good Grór. The event of this evening has grieved me, but it has also reenergized me. Revenge will be had for our lord and such a matter must be brought forth to our new leader Trór, therefore follow me and I will show you where he is to be found.”


Nisa

Nisa had been one of the loudest of mourners for the dead king, her wails of lamentation echoed through the great cavern along with the other women. She proceeded in the long line leading up to Balin’s body, she kissed the stone on which the king laid on and offered a few words of silent praise of him. Trór stood proud stern next Balin.

“Trór,” she screamed, and threw her arms around him. “How is this to be endured, how are we to live without our leader?”

“Hush girl,” said Trór, gently removing her grasp. “We will survive this tragedy as we always have, if this colony falls because of the death of one leader, may eternal shame rest on our head! Go now, I will come soon.”

Nisa left him, but she still could not stop crying. She saw Adela standing a little ways in front of her standing alone, Nisa didn’t want to bother her but she felt as if she needed to be with someone in this hour of grief.

“Adela,” she called. “Adela, are you alright? You look pale.”


Trór

The long line of mourners proceeded without much event, only twice did he have need of fending off a couple dwarves who were clinging to the body of Balin. Presently, he asked for one of the guards to relieve him, and left in search of Nisa. As Trór exited the Chamber of Marzubul he saw Nali approaching with a stranger.

“Nali, by Durin’s beard, you look awful! Rest my friend do not wear yourself out.”

“I will rest when I choose, my friend. First I must introduce you to this dwarf with me: his name is Grór, a messenger from Erebor sent by King Dain.”

Trór was surprised, it had been a long while since the colony had heard news of King Dain. Grór bowed graciously to Trór, who returned the gesture with an even deeper bow.

“I only wish that I had pleasant news to give you.” Trór said. Grór fidgeted with his cap as Trór spoke, he was swallowing nervously and breathed in quick short gasps of breath. This made Trór comfortable, he often had an intimidating presence about himself, it made him feel confident that he wasn’t the only one who was nervous.

“My lord Trór,” Grór began, making another bow. “Ori has told me of the tragic news, I am sorry for your loss, Balin was a great dwarf, his death will be met with much sorrow in Erebor.”

My lord? Trór was startled by the words. Why did he say that? he wondered to himself, but decided to let it slide. Trór was about to answer when Grór interrupted him and started talking very excitedly.

“My lord,” Grór began again, it had begun to get on Trór’s nerves. “I have more bad news for you, a huge Orc army is approaching Khazad-dum as we speak!” Trór quickly grabbed the dwarf’s arm and firmly led him away from the crowd, such news was not to be made known public yet.

“An army?” Trór asked when they were alone.

“Yes, they should reach here by nightfall.”

“Then no doubt that the Orcs that killed Balin were an advance party, I suspected as much. But where is Oin? He would not leave us blind like this.” Trór spoke out-loud but it was more to himself, Grór perked up at the name Oin.

“Go,” Trór commanded the messenger. “Bring me Ori, and Oin if he has returned, I must find the other nobles. If what you say is true, you will have earned my undying gratitude and thanks, but this must be brought before a council. Summon what nobles you have met, as of yet, and tell them to head for the east gate, I will follow with the others.”

Grór nodded his head eagerly and sprang off as fast as he could towards the east gate, nearly tripping over himself several times. Nali and Trór watched with amusement at this, and chuckled to themselves, they had quite forgotten about Balin and the mourners for the time being.

“Clumsy little guy, isn’t he?” Nali commented.

“Hmm, but quite. Come Nali, let us find Frar and your brother, search for Kenan too, I would have his say on this crisis.”
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:36 AM   #44
Thinlómien
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Ori

Ori had sent Gror away and stayed by the doors. The idea of going in and facing all the grieving people was still too much for him. He would not want to see all the silly women who had hardly known Balin wailing as if their husbands or children had just died. Men weren't as bad, but there would surely be some self-important busybodies who'd come to tell him how much his old friend had meant to them even if they hadn't even known him in the slightest. No, Ori did not want to see any of those pretending, exaggerating fools. He preferred to sit there, all by himself, and grieve in his own silent way. Maybe soon a friend would come, and he would be the only one to truly share the grief that was pressuring Ori's heart.

He gazed at the horizon, wondering how he would tell it to Óin. There was no good way of telling it, no way to make it hurt less. Ori wondered if Óin was happy not to have witnessed it, or whether he would have preferred to be there. To be there to see Balin smile one last time, to hear his last words, to see him look in the Kheled-zâram like he had always wanted to...

Ori could hardly see the horizon anymore, his vision was so clouded by tears. He let the tears run down his cheeks to his beard, didn't bother to wipe them. New ones would come to moist his eyes anyway.

There were footsteps behind him, and then someone speaking. "Master Ori?" It was the dwarf from Erebor, again.

Ori tried to hold his voice steady when he replied. "Yes?" It was more like a grunt than like a proper answer.

"Lord Trór summons you. There will be a council. Near here, by the East Gate."

Ori gave the man a cold stare behind the veil of tears. "Balin is the lord of Moria." As soon as he had said the words, he regretted them. Gror was wise enough not to say anything. Ori wiped his eyes and tried again.

"I apologise for my unrespectful words. You are right by calling Trór the lord since that is what he is now. And Mahal knows, I will follow him, even to the bitter end."

Gror nodded solemnly and there was a silence. Ori heard his own words echoing in his head. Bitter end? Where did that come from? Is that what's in front of us?

Last edited by Thinlómien; 12-10-2008 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:26 AM   #45
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Onli

Onli's first reaction to Tror's words were horror and disbelief. No, that could not be! Their lord, Balin, dead? The Lord of Moria? But in the first moments, when the leader's motionless body was carried into the hall, he understood that all Tror just had said is true. Onli was watching the Dwarves who carried the body, and he was frowning. Their leader. Balin. Lord of Moria. The candle of his life snuffed out like that. And all that Onli was thinking of just a moment ago, the plans for meeting the leader, the plans for bright future, everything was gone. To Onli, it seemed as if suddenly the path he took, the one which promised to lead him to bright future glittering like gold, turned into a dark tunnel where there were no other ways to escape, not a single shaft of light to pierce the darkness. He was lost, his life was swallowed by darkness and fear and uncertainty of the future.

He was still too shaken to think. He knew he needed time to sort things out. What are they going to do? Who is the leader? He set out to seek for Vriti. Where had she gone to? He thought that perhaps petting his little furry friend would calm him down a little.

***

Óin

The sun was setting slowly and the shadows of the mountains were long and deep. The valley of Silverlode was all shrouded in shadow, but the tops of the rocks surrounding it were ablaze with red and orange colors, and if Óin had looked back, he would have seen the sky in the West looking like fire. But he did not turn back, his eyes were on the road before him, careful, seeking for any movement, for any trace of the Orcs that Gror warned him about. But the dale was empty and silent, except for the running river Silverlode which was seeking its way amidst the stones and short bushes without leaves. The wide plains that Óin could see further on opening wide seemed to be filled with last remains of the daylight, and further to the South, where the river bent and ran quickly over black pebbles, dark shadows of the trees rose. Óin nodded his head. There it was, where the land of the Elves lay, not further than a few miles; but if Gror was right, there it was also where the Orc army was coming from.

"Come on, Óin," the Dwarf muttered to himself. "Of all the directions you could pick you have to take this one. How many miles? Three, four?" He looked around carefully, silent for a while and listening. Water was running over the stones with constant soft bubbling. The dale lay in a shadow that was deepening by every moment.

"Be mindful of these little beasts, Óin, good lad," he said after a while, when he could not hear nor spot anything new. He set his foot into the shallow water where the stream was flowing gently into a wide flow over the stones, only to form again one strong river a furlong further. Even through his boots, Óin could feel the sudden rush of cold as he stepped into the freezing river.

"By Durin's beard," he shuddered. "Feel lucky you are not a fish, Óin. But now quick! If these beasts are there, you'd better find them soon and then run back home. Old Balin may already be expecting you."

Fast, he strode across the water-washed stones, then turned left to avoid a small stream that joined the Silverlode, coming from a cleft in the rock above his head. Carefully, he passed a narrow gap between two short rocks forming the walls of the valley, and after that, a wide space opened in front of him. A little bit to the right, the way alongside the river was climbing down towards the woods of Lórien; to his left, a barely visible path ran towards the valleys of Anduin amidst large boulders and stones.

Óin stopped once again and listened. He did not dare even to mutter to himself, not this time. Breathless, he stood like a stone for a short while.

And then he heard what he had been afraid of all the time: the sound of rushing feet, clinging of iron weapons and armor, harsh voices. Many there must have been, coming from either of the paths below, and they were getting closer.

Óin's face all of a sudden looked grave and his bright blue eyes seemed to dim. Intuitively, he reached for an arrow. "They are there," he hissed, and that was all he needed to say to himself. But it was clear the intruders were yet far away enough, but coming nearer very fast. Óin looked around, a bit hopefully. "If there had been a good place from where you could see them..." he muttered again, very soft.

"Looks like there is none," he concluded and turned again towards the two paths opening in front of him. He scratched in his short white beard by the arrow he was holding. "But which way to take now, what would you think, Óin? Them goblins will probably not come too close to the Elven wood, but how can you know? It is still many miles away."

He stood in thought for a while, but attentive for the sounds of approaching enemies, which were becoming more and more apparent. At last he moved.

"No, there is no use to go either way," he concluded. "If them beasts come from over there," he looked towards the right, "and you pick the other route, you are going to end up a king of fools, Óin, and not a scout. And the same the other way around," he looked to the left, "what if they cut your way back home. You could not deliver your news to old Balin, and most likely, them goblins will sniff you out and chase you, and you will have to retreat to..."

The Dwarf looked at the dark treeshapes standing out in the dusk to the south. His blue eyes gleamed, and he frowned.

"No, Óin, not that again," he mumbled. "You will probably escape the Orcs, but this time, there will be nobody to flow you down the Great River in a barrel."

As if he suddenly decided, he turned around. "No use, Óin, my lad," he said. "Too bad. You shall not wait for them here, but if you hurry, you may reach that high rock with the waterfall, and with luck, see them beasts coming from there. Yes, that is what you should do! Now hurry!"

And with these words, the Dwarf started running back from where he came along the Silverlode's channel, back into the heart of the mountains.

Last edited by Legate of Amon Lanc; 12-19-2008 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 12-10-2008, 01:53 PM   #46
Groin Redbeard
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Nali

Trór had left in search of Frar while Nali stayed to meet Loni when he exited the chamber. There was not long to wait however, Loni's face showed evidence of crying but his face was as calm as ever when Nali approached him and quickly relayed to him the words of Grór.

“Do you believe this,” Loni asked him in disbelief.

“I do, brother. I look forward to the chance to avenge our king, but, nevertheless, I am greatly disheartened that a battle should happen soon after Balin’s death. We will need all the help that can be mustered.” Loni gave him a questionable look when he saw that spark in Nali’s eye that so often appeared when he had an idea.

“What do you mean?”

“The wailing and grieving of the women will greatly dishearten the men before the battle. Wouldn’t it be best if we have someone of prominence, someone who they respect, speak to them to stall their laments for the present?”

“Shouldn't Trór’s words will be enough to quail them down?"

“Yes, but it would be more affective if perhaps a women could break the news to them. She should then come with us to the council.” Nali furrowed his brow and bit his lower lip in thought.

“Aye, this idea is not half bad. Go then and summon who thy think is best.” Loni responded.

“Kórin, she is stout and will be able to bear this news best. You go to the gate brother, I'll fetch Kenan and the Korin” And with that Loni and Nali separated.

The next person for Nail to find is Kenan. The old dwarf may not have been a true warrior or noble like the rest of them, but he was rich and did hold a large part of Trór’s respect. Therefore, Nali searched for him until he found the aged dwarf talking to Vitr. He waited until there was a pause in the conversation and then intervened by placing his hand on Kenan’s shoulder and whispered in his ear.

“Excuse me, but Trór requests your presence in council.”

Last edited by Groin Redbeard; 12-11-2008 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:45 PM   #47
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“It’s their birthday, is it?” Kénan said. “Hm, well, awful thing to have happened on their birthdays. Aye, aye...Iari’s her name. I’m sorry you didn’t spot her, thanks anyway.” The two dwarves stood in momentary, awkward silence. Kénan’s thought wandered unbidden to the events of Balin’s death.

“It was foolishness. . .you know,” he said gruffly. Vitr looked at him, surprised at his abruptness. “Balin need not have died. It was vanity and foolishness.” Kénan could kick himself. He wanted to kick somebody. Presumably whoever had let Balin to go alone, as he had picked up that he had. Anger prevented him from speaking for a moment and he looked towards lord Balin’s body.

During that pause, Nali approached him and leaning in towards his ear, whispered quietly, “Excuse me, but Trór requests your presence in council.”

“Does he indeed?” Kénan asked, shooting a sharp glance at Nali. “Well, well. You’ll excuse me,” he said, turning to Vitr. The dwarf nodded and Kénan turned to go. As he turned, however, he spotted his two grandchildren, and Kéni was straining his neck to see over the crowds. Their eyes met and Kéni lifted his hand and waved urgently.

“Nali,” Kénan said, catching his sleeve. “Tell Trór I shall be there directly.” And before Nali could answer, Kénan was off, weaving his way through the crowded hall to Kéni and Iari. “What are you two doing here? Kéni, you should have taken her home by now. What’s the meaning of this? Iari, what are you crying about?”

“It’s lord Balin, sir,” Kéni answered defensively. He didn’t fear Kénan’s bad humor. “You wouldn’t expect her not to cry for him?”

“No, no of course not,” Kénan said, rather apologetically. “There, there, child,” he patted Iari gently on the shoulder. “What is it, Kéni? You wanted to say something to me, didn’t you? That’s why you waved?”
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:00 PM   #48
Kitanna
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Iari shrank away from her grandfather. He looked angry or annoyed. Though his tone toward Kéni suggested the source of his angry was not his grandchildren Iari was frightened. After seeing Balin's body just laid out as it was, she wanted nothing more than to go home and crawl back into her bed. It had to be safer there.

“What is it, Kéni? You wanted to say something to me, didn’t you? That’s why you waved?”

"What happened to Lord Balin? I thought there wasn't any immediate danger in the mines." Iari held tight to Kéni's hand.

"There's always danger to be found around here, Kéni." Kénan explained the situation to his grandson while Iari listened closely. When it seemed Kénan was finished relaying his tale she tugged gently on Kéni's sleeve.

"I think I had better get Iari home," he said. "When will you return, Grandfather?"

Last edited by Kitanna; 12-19-2008 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 12-11-2008, 11:43 AM   #49
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On the walk home, the children had been as skittery as copper-winged beetles on the rim of a forge’s firepot. They jumped at every little sound, real or imagined; at every touch of air that moved about in the hallway; at each flicker of light from the lamps which hung along the hallway; and especially at the shadows that wavered and grew large and then retreated once again along the way.

The anxious feelings persisted even as they’d crossed the threshold of their snug home and even though they had seen their mother bar the door....something the Silverfists had not done in all the time they’d lived here. Lys had done it only because she thought it would make the twins feel more secure; yet, as she’d hefted the stout oaken beam into place she shivered as she felt the prickle of her own unheeded fear creep down her back.

‘Let’s have some hot tea with honey,’ she said turning round toward Tív and Tíva. ‘And maybe a good measure of goat’s milk, too....eh?’ She motioned for them to come with her into the kitchen. ‘Tív, you stoke up the fire. And you, Tíva, fetch the milk and honey please.’

They were soon gathered together in a little knot, sitting on the couch. The fire crackled on the hearth filling the little silences among the trio as they sipped their drinks.

‘Is Papi coming home soon?’ Tív asked, watch the swirling patterns in the warm liquid as he dipped his finger in his mug.

‘Yes, soon. I’m sure of it,’ Lys replied, smiling reassuringly at her son. ‘Until then,’ she went on, pulling the warm, woolen blanket that lay across the couch back down and around all their legs. ‘We’ll snuggle in here and wait for him.’

Calling on memories of times with her own mother when she and her brothers were young, Lys told the twins stories of her mother’s family....light and happy tales to drive away dark thoughts. For the while, at least.

Last edited by Lilly; 12-13-2008 at 12:08 AM.
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Old 12-11-2008, 02:14 PM   #50
Groin Redbeard
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Nali

Kenan made a hasty retreat from Nali’s side. Nali thought this was queer, but the reasons were quickly revealed as he saw the old dwarf talking with his grandchildren. Nali waited for a moment to see if Kenan might rejoin him, but those thoughts were soon put to flight as several minutes past and Kenan showed no sign of leaving his children.

It made no difference there was another dwarf to summoned. Nali thought that he might find Korin with her brother, Kor, but he could catch no glimpse of either. The next logical place to look would be the ale kegs, Kor was not fond of drink, but his boyish sister did. His assumptions proved correct as he saw Korin guzzling down flasks of ale, ably assisted by Kor.

“Exuse me, Korin, but we request thy...” Nali responded as calmly as possible, but he recoiled and grimaced as Korin turned round and exhaled in his face. It smelled like she had drunken an entire keg of ale! She frowned at Nali and offered him a mug.

“Uh, no I couldn’t,” Nali responded, raising his hands in protest, “I have need of thy judgement in a council that will soon commence at the Easter-Gate. Shall I presume that thee will come?”


Trór

All these events were coming on too fast! Trór had not even the time to mourn Balin’s death with his cousin, he could not even tell Nisa that he could not be with her. It would be cruel to have her here the disheartening news from a stranger instead of him, but there was no helping it. Even if Balin were alive this responsibility would still rest on his shoulders, being the stern soldier he was.

Up and down the hall he walked in hopes of catching a glimpse of Frar but he was not to be seen. It was not until Trór had given up and began walking towards the Durin’s Bridge that he caught sight of Frar, standing all by himself leaning against the tall pillars that lined the walkway to the bridge. Trór approached cautiously, but made enough noise with his feet as not to surprise the venerable soldier. When Frar did not stir Trór waited, but Frar stood as if in a daze, his eyes here half closed and he stood as if carved of stone.

“Frar?” Trór was starting to feel concerned, all to often he had seen soldiers crack under the strain of battle, and while he considered Frar to be above that, the strain of today might be enough to break any dwarf’s will.

“Frar, are you alright?” Trór asked a little louder and shook his friend gently on the shoulder.

Startled, Frar snapped his hand to his belt and stepped back from Trór. Trór raised his hands to show he had no intention of attack, it was plain to see that Frar had been lost in his own thought and had not yet come to his right frame of mind.

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Old 12-11-2008, 11:43 PM   #51
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Kórin simply glowered at Nali, snorting a laugh when she saw him cringe. The feeling’s mutual, she thought, but moving her lips and forcing sound from her throat seemed like too much of a bother right now. Kórin dearly hoped this was not the sort of Dwarf her brother would be many years from now. She didn’t think she knew of a Dwarf who wore his britches any tighter than Nali, and who could puff up his chest in a more pompous fashion as he told you what was what. And he always knew…

“Kórin will be there as requested, Master Nali,” Kór spoke up, speaking curtly. He ignored his sister’s angry glance. Much to her frustration Kór was generally rather fond of the old Dwarf, and appreciated the value of his experience. But at the moment… The way he looked at Kórin! he thought angrily. Kór took another drink from his mug. Well, he can think whatever he likes, he thought.

“He can think whatever he likes,” Kór heard himself say, as if he were talking in his sleep. He stared down into his empty mug, his face burning, and told himself that he should not refill it. Kórin’s hand fell roughly onto his shoulder, almost causing him to drop the mug.

“That’s right – they can think whatever they want. And I’ll think whatever I want about their council!” Kórin exclaimed with defiance, as if she had expressed an opinion about the council other than apparent indifference. “Say, why don’t you go?” she asked, shaking her brother by the shoulder.

“Well, for one thing, they didn’t ask me,” Kór replied.

“Well they should have,” Kórin said simply.

Kór smiled.

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Old 12-12-2008, 03:29 AM   #52
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Vigdis

"Now what is all that noise?" Vigdis muttered to herself, rather annoyed. Can't they be any more noisy with their festivities? She still had the stone block to finish. After that, she thought she would go to celebrate, but only after that. She would not enjoy spending hours after hours feasting anyway.

The noises grew even louder. Vigdis halted and listened. There was wailing, and crying and angry shouts. Something was not quite right. Vigdis laid the chisel on the block she had been working on and hurried away from the cavern chambers.

When she arrived at the Twenty-First hall, people were hysteric. Children were being taken away, and adults were crying and tearing their hair. She spotted Tror slipping out of the hall. Her heart skipped a beat. So, they had returned.

"What has happened?" she asked. She feared she already knew the answer.
The ancient woman she had addressed lowered her head in grief. "Our beloved Lord Balin has fallen. He was shot by an Orc when he went to look at Kheled-zâram."

"Where is he now?" Vigdis asked. The steadiness of her own voice surprised her.
"His body has been taken to the Chamber of Mazarbul," the old woman replied.
"Thank you," Vigdis said and turned to leave. She could hear the crane break in sobs and mutter: "Cold, heartless woman..."

Vigdis joined the people waiting for an entrance to the chamber. Most of them were crying, and sorrow was in everyone's eyes. A people mourning a celebrated ruler, she observed. A valiant, loyal people to grieve so deeply.

The queue moved and Vigdis could glimpse a body draped in a red cloak. Then people moved again, and all she could see were the mourners, the faint candelight and the dark, endless roof.

Finally, there were just a few mourners on the line before her and nothing was blocking her view. She gave the body - rigid, pale, kingly - a brief glance but then lowered her head and fixed her eyes on the stone Balin was laying on. A simple, beautifully shaped block of white stone. Stone like that could be quarried from the eastern slopes of Bundushathűr and...

The queue moved again and suddenly there was no one between Vigdis and the white stone. She stepped forwards and slowly lifted her eyes from the stone to the dwarf on it. In the candlelight Balin's face was calm, neither happy nor sad, and his white beard had an almost golden shade. Vigdis lifted her hand to gently touch the man, but refrained from such act of disrespect. She let her hand fall to her side and blinked. There Balin lay, as unmoving and peaceful as a moment before. He was dead.

A loud wail escaped from Vigdis' lips. She shrank to her knees and bent her head. Tears were gushing forth from her eyes.

She had no idea how long she stayed there, kneeling and weeping by Balin's dead body. But eventually she started to become more aware of her surroundings, the cold, familar stone around her, the soft candlelight, the slowly gathering impatience of the mourners in the queue. She forced herself up to look one last time at Balin's face. She could now see a gentle smile hidden in his unmoving features. Weeping quietly, she knelt and kissed the stone like so many mourners before her. "Farewell, my Lord," she whispered, "we will never forget you, and all we do now will be in your honour and memory."

She rose and walked away from the Chamber of Mazarbul, holding her head up high, tears on her cheeks.

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Old 12-12-2008, 04:09 PM   #53
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Nali

Nali began to question his own judgement of this women. Perhaps it would be better to just have Tror give the news, but something in his gut told him to keep with his original idea. Korin might be rough around the edges, but that is caliber of dwarves that they needed that moment more than ever: tough.

“Well, for one thing, they didn’t ask me.” Nali hear Kor respond to his sister’s question.

“Well they should have.”

“But we have not,” Nali stated as a matter of fact. “We need thee my lady Korin, not your brother, we will have need of him before the sun sets. Indeed, our lord will have need of everyone before too long.

“Now, will thou come with me my lady, or shall I inform the council that thy have need of an ale mug for comfort? I beg pardon for my frankness, but the truth is the matter is very urgent.” Nali stood sideways from the two siblings, ready to move in an instant with Korin or without her.

She hesitated for a moment. Nali offered a genuine smile, stiffened his back and offered his hand to help her up from her stool.

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Old 12-14-2008, 12:44 AM   #54
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Run away.

Adela stayed in the hall just long enough for one of the Ladies to notice her standing stiff and still, cold as stone with the taste of honey spoiling in her mouth. Then with a mumbled excuse, she'd withdrawn to the kitchens. Ran away, ran away, she kept berating herself over and over again as she'd begun to clean up, although she hadn't said a word since Lord Balin had been brought into the hall. Scrubbing plates with the soap-soused hands, she wiped her forehead and felt the water drip down as the women began to take up the mourning wail. Adela swallowed, and drawn by the smell she looked over towards the food set aside for the Lord's party. It would be getting cold now. She looked away.

The stone under her feet seemed maddeningly still, the kitchens not nearly far away enough from the somber grief of the hall. It was all she could do to keep at her work when Adela wanted to bolt, to where she knew not. But better beards would decide their course, and the only thing to do was to trust in Balin's captains. They owed him that much. Though, as she cleaned and hummed low to herself, something cold and dark weighed down in her gut, whispering more laments were still to come.

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Old 12-15-2008, 11:17 AM   #55
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Kórin wanted dearly to give Nali the punch in the face he deserved, though that he was her elder and respected by many kept her from going that far, even with this much ale in her. But in Mahal’s name, he had more to pardon for than his “frankness”! Kór felt his sister tensing next to him and saw how tightly she now gripped her mug of ale, so he quickly placed a hand on her shoulder. He ignored Nali and waited for his sister to make her decision.

After a moment, Kórin rose, and as she did, Kór saw her hand jerk slightly, causing most of the contents of her mug to slosh out in front of her onto Nali’s boots. Kór resisted smiling as he watched Kórin struggle to keep herself from doing so. She set the mug down on the bench behind her as she murmured a half-hearted, “My apologies,” and added with clear amusement, “had a bit too much it seems…”

Kórin did her best to look bored again when she turned back to the old dwarf. “So are you to escort me to this council?”

Kór stood and took the opportunity to chime in, “Perhaps you might allow me to accompany you, as well, Master Nali, simply as…ah…support?” He grinned slightly and shrugged his right shoulder in a sort of gesture toward his sister standing next to him. Kórin was a little wobbly on her feet at this point. Once again he ignored a look from his sister, as she glanced at him with a combination of annoyance and ponderousness. But she did not argue with his suggestion, for which Kór was very glad.

He supposed Kórin had been asked to the council because she was the elder, and he supposed that one of them had been asked because of their father’s history. He had a very noble career and was highly respected, which had probably made Kór and Kórin rather disappointments so far in many people’s eyes. They had nothing to their name except accompanying the Lord Balin here to Khazad-dűm – which Kór expected was why his sister had wanted to be a part of this expedition in the first place. She had always been more concerned with living up to their father’s name, though their parents had never once given any inkling that they were disappointed with their children.

“…our lord will have need of everyone before too long…” Kórin recalled Nali’s previous words. At the moment she could not wrap her mind around who that “lord” would now be. It was enough to realize all over again that “our lord” was no longer Lord Balin. Who could fill his place, especially now?
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Old 12-16-2008, 01:56 AM   #56
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Vitr had stepped back as Nali spoke with Kénan. He wondered what passed between the two elders, but it was none of his business, or he would have been included. Something to do with Lord Balin perhaps, he thought . . . that, and what would happen now. He would have to trust that wiser heads would figure out what needed to be done, and the how and who of it, too. He’d gladly lend his services where they were best deemed needed when the plan was laid in place, but for now his own plan was to see to the well-being of his wife and children.

As he turned to head toward home, he saw Kénan leave Nali and head across the hall. ‘Ah, good,’ Vitr commented to no one in particular. ‘It looks as if he’s found his grandchildren.’ Despite the pervasive gravity, the seriousness of the present situation, Vitr found a smile begin to play about the corners of his mouth. Grandchildren! What would that be like? he wondered. ‘Old fool!’ he chided himself. ‘Here your children are but young pups . . . and you’re already planning to dandle their children on your knee!’

He left the chamber, making his way across the hall where so shortly before the atmosphere had been one of celebration. Now the shadows that the bright lamps had pushed back so recently seemed to overwhelm the light. Vitr hunched his shoulders against the oppressive feeling and hurried on.

A trio of voices pulled him from his gloomy thoughts. There, by the kegs . . . Nali, again, and Kórin, and Kór. How curious. Busy man, that Nali. Kórin looked a bit worse for the wear, Vitr thought. Angry, too, at whatever Nali had said to her.

‘My Lord is dead,’ Vitr muttered, shaking his head as he passed beyond the little tableau. ‘And everything is at sixes and sevens!’

-o-

His heart began to lighten as he neared home. He frowned, surprised and somewhat disconcerted that the door was barred. ‘Lys! It’s me!’ he called, rapping on the thick wood panels. ‘Unbar the door, won’t you?’
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:49 PM   #57
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Nali

“Perhaps you might allow me to accompany you, as well, Master Nali, simply as…ah…support?”

Nali was annoyed with the question, especially since he just got Korin to put down her mug and accept his invitation although not without sloshing her ale all over his boots, which he believed was deliberate. The old dwarf, however annoyed he was, looked at the orange haired "youngster" with interest, he would not be much good at the council but perhaps he would be of some use for calming the mood of the dwarves. The mood of the people was Nali's main concern and after all the reason he summoned Korin.

"Nay, young Korin, but you still may be of some use to us yet. Pluck your harp and sing if you have the spirits to brighten the mood of our people, however fruitless it may seem at the moment. All this dampened merriment will bode ill for us before the night falls if something is not done of it."

Nali found that Kor was looking at him confused, as was Korin. It was a slip of the tongue, old fool, you are going to cause everyone to panic before there is need to!

"Bah!" he exclaimed, "I am growing senile in my old age! Do not fear young Kor, everything will be relayed to thee soon. Now, come Korin, with haste! Both of us have lingered too long, the council must be already in session."

The women quickly obeyed his command and they bounded off together in the direction of the east gate.
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:44 AM   #58
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‘Shhh!’ Lys opened the door gently, avoiding, she hoped, the rusty squeak mid-arc. ‘I’m glad you came back so soon,’ she whispered, drawing Vitr in with a hand on his arm. ‘You can help me carry them in to bed.’ She nodded over her shoulder toward the little couch where Tív and Tíva lay sleeping soundly, their slight frames curled comfortably about the cushions and pillows.

‘Chamomile, well laced with milk and honey,’ she offered in explanation, as he followed her across the room. She bent to clear the mugs away from the table in front of the couch. ‘Always helps them settle down.’ She grinned up at Vitr. ‘That and the retelling one of my mother’s very long and winding stories.... about one of her crazy uncles....’ She stifled a laugh. ‘No, not an uncle.... this time it was the one about her impish brother, Bósi. You know, the one with the gimpy leg and the pet hen with only one wing.’

Lys reached down to scoop Tíva up into her arms. ‘Oofta! Too many cookies!’ She cradled her rag-doll daughter securely against her and headed toward the sleeping area. ‘No, not in their beds,’ she said, nudging Vitr away from the twins’ room. ‘Let’s let them sleep in with us. It will be easier than having to get up and see to their bad dreams that are sure to come tonight.’

Once the children were made snug in their parents’ bed, quilts pulled up about their shoulders, hair brushed back from their foreheads, Lys led Vitr to the kitchen. She busied herself making some tea for the both of them as he sat down in his chair.

‘So, what’s going on in the hall?’ she asked, taking the chair to his right. Her question fell into the silence as he considered what to say. The rhythmic sound of spoon against mug as she stirred honey into her tea played a soft counterpoint to the quiet. ‘Is there to be a hunting party to go after the orcs?’

She reached out her hand, resting it on Vitr’s forearm. ‘Will you be among them?’ Lys searched his face for a hint of what he might answer.
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Old 12-20-2008, 10:45 AM   #59
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After Náli left to search for Kénan and Kórin, Lóni wandered around the halls aimlessly. He intended to head towards the gate, but his thoughts wandered far and to different times, in history and in his memories and in tales and legends he remembered. He did not even think inentionally about Balin, the thoughts were just swirling through his head. He recalled the moments he and his brother and Trór fought in the Battle of the Five Armies, and Balin emerged among the rest with Thorin Oakenshield out of the gate of Erebor. He recognized him rightaway, he looked exactly the same as in the day Lóni first saw him fighting in Azanulbizar. And here it was again, in Azanulbizar, that he had found his doom...

Suddenly, Lóni stumbled and fell to the ground with clunging of iron. Only now he realised that he is alone in a completely dark corridor. Just where was he? The place did not seem familiar, but it was just a corridor, one of the many in Moria, even now he still could not find a way to identify them all. Something furry and wet touched his knee. Lóni jumped up. Two gleaming eyes blinked at him from close distance and then they disappeared with a sound of soft running pads. Lóni shook his head. Blind in the darkness, he bent forwards and by touch found his mace lying on the ground; he felt he had lost it when he fell. When putting it back, Lóni realised it must be still stained from the skirmish by the Mirrormere. Once again he sighed, knowing that in the darkness he cannot evaluate the condition of his weapons and armor. He was certain they would be in the need of polishing. But duty calls, who knows where he had strayed and the others may be already waiting for him. First the council, then other things.

He turned around and strode back from whence he came.
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Old 12-20-2008, 05:45 PM   #60
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Only the light from the small fire still burning in the kitchen grate pushed back the shadows gathered in the room. It lit her face, leaving only the deeps of her eyes clouded as she looked at him, and then away. Sparks of it glinted in her hair and for a moment he wished only to entangle his fingers in that familiar mass of coppery curls. And on some other night, some other safe, familiar night he would have done so.

But now foul murder had undone his sense of safety, and what was once familiar, so accustomed, so solid and so ordinary had now slipped sideways. It was not just the body of his slain Lord which had been borne in upon the shoulders of his men, but the possibility, the grim reality, of death for those Vitr held dear.

And so, instead, he clasped her hand between his own and spoke softly with more reassurance than he felt. ‘You know, dear heart, I will be among them.’ He reached a hand toward her, touching her cheek gently for a moment. ‘Duty deems it so; there can be no other way for me. It will be the last call to duty from my Lord Balin and the first for the new Lord who will now lead us.’ Vitr pulled at his beard as he tried to picture who that might be.

‘Oh, I do not envy him!’ he went on, shaking his head at the thought of the heavy mantle the new Lord would don. ‘And just as great is my duty is to you and to Tíva and Tív . . .to keep you all safe from harm.’ For brief moment a glint of a smile eased up the corners of his mouth as he spoke. ‘I promised your father and your brothers I would do so, you remember . . .under threat of some horrid and painful punishment if I did not.’

‘But come, let’s put away these heavy thoughts at least for tonight,’ Vitr said in a lighter tone. ‘When I left the hall, the elders were gathering together for counsel. And our worrying here in the dark will not help them make what plans as they deem are needed. I’ve every confidence that they will figure out what we need to do. And I’m quite confidant too that steps have already been taken to keep the hall safe for now.’

Vitr stood up, gathering both their mugs. ‘You go on to bed; I’ll be there directly.’ He held up the mugs with one hand, their thick clay sides making an emphatic clunk as he did so. ‘I’ll just put these in the sink . . . and bar the door. It won’t take but a moment.’
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Old 12-21-2008, 10:56 AM   #61
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Nisa

The frozen expression of shock did not disappear from Adela's face, as Nisa hoped it would when she approached. Rather it worsened, and when Nisa took a step towards her friend Adela jumped back and mumbled something that Nisa couldn't understand, then promptly fled.

Exasperated, Nisa fell to her knees. The walls of the very hall itself were pressing in around her, the towering columns seemed to fall down; Nisa felt panicked at what she was imagining and tried to stand but promptly stumbled back to her knees. She began to cry. Nothing could shake the horrible feeling of despair that she was feeling at the moment: left utterly alone to deal with her sorrow, but Nisa did not want to be alone. She wanted to throw herself in the arms of someone who loved her and share her feelings with that someone, but no one could fill that place. Tror had left and Adela had ran. Svior! but where was he to be found, and would he approve of her throwing himself in his arms, after all, there was another who was closer to Svior's heart than she was. Oh where was Tror?

Still crying, alone and forsaken, Nisa stood as best she could after the fainting spell had passed. She made her way to a nearby table, where moments ago she had been feasting merrily with her friends, and buried her head within the confines of her hands. Perhaps the loneliness wouldn't feel so terrible if the rest of the world was shut out.
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Old 12-21-2008, 05:36 PM   #62
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Wasn’t that just like him....trying to smooth things over. Well this wasn’t something to be smoothed over now was it. Lord Balin was dead....from an Orc’s arrow. And where there was one Orc, most likely there were many....even more than the hairs in Grandpa Forgefire’s long bushy beard.

Now Lys had never seen an Orc but there had been plenty of stories she’d heard about those foul creatures. That they were savage killers, delighting in inflicting as much pain as they could on their victims. That they had no sense of honor at all. Anyone was fair game. Young, old, male, female – it made no difference. She shuddered, recalling one particularly grisly tale of how they’d butchered some wee little babes and....and....eaten them.

No, this was not something to be smoothed over as a mason would a block of stone....

‘Wait....sit down, Vitr, please.’

Lys grabbed hold of his sleeve before he could step away from the table. She looked up at him and cocked her head toward his chair. ‘Just for a moment. I have something I want to tell you, intended to tell you after the celebration....before this gruesome, awful thing happened.’ She shook her head, a look of overwhelming sadness in her face. Sadness....and fright, too.

‘It’s Durin’s Day, a happy day in itself; a day to celebrate. And made even more glad, or so it should have been, by the celebration of our son and daughter’s birth day. I’d thought to add another level to this gladness. I....’

She squeezed his arm.

‘Look,’ she blurted out. ‘I don’t want you to go hunting those Orcs. Even if the next Lord asks you. I don’t want you away from us. I don’t want you away from me, Vitr....and our new child....’

Last edited by Lilly; 12-22-2008 at 03:12 AM.
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:28 PM   #63
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Onli

Onli was treading the corridors, here and there, all over the place, up the stairs, down the stairs, back to Twenty-first hall and out again, and he was angry. He could not find Vriti, despite all of his effort; which was understandable, as she would have probably left the place as soon as the celebration turned into a cacophony of unpleasant noises. Now she was hiding in some of her secret places or wandering around tunnels. Let her wander. But Onli had meanwhile the time to sort his thoughts. It was not that he would be completely heartless. He pitied the loss of Balin. Maybe that was a part of the source for his anger, which seemed to surface for unknown reasons.

All right, not just unknown reasons. When Onli thought about the situation, he concluded that life goes on. Life in the colony goes on. And the colony will have a new leader in no time. And who is this new leader going to be seemed clear to Onli: the second in command, Trór. That arrogant warmonger guy with unpleasant gaze. Onli's first thought was that it hardly could have been worse. He never liked Trór and never worked out any special relationship with him, mainly because there was no need to. Trór minded his business when it came to military things, Onli tried to keep on good terms with Balin who was at the top of things. Of course, he would have never imagined that things are going to turn out like this, otherwise he would have paid more attention on forming his relationship with Trór.

But on his second thought, he reevaluated. Because this fellow certainly knew nothing about running the colony, of course, he had some experience, but Onli was convinced that most of all, Trór is a military officer and as a military officer he is going to need somebody to advice him on the more subtle matters of economics, managing the trade and craft and development of the colony.

And this is why Onli has been looking for Trór, for quite some time already, but with no results. Neither could he find any of the Elders. He was fed up with this already when he once again entered the great hall. The sounds of crying were heard already before he entered, and in fact, Onli could hear them almost everywhere now, or so it seemed to him. Quickly, he looked around the room, in vain hope to notice the face of Trór or any of the Elders. At one moment he stopped, catching a glimpse of... yes, that was Trór's cousin, Nîsa. Intuitively, he started to walk towards her, but before reaching her he stopped. No, first, this was no place - and by her looks, it seemed also like not a good situation to ask, but then, possibly she could tell him where Trór was? But now she once again put her head in her hands. Onli frowned.

I wonder if I can get a single word out of her now, he thought. But who of all people should know better where Trór is than her?

Onli cleared his throat and put on the most comforting smile, although inside him, everything was boiling.

"I am very sorry to disturb you in your grief, young lady Nîsa," he said in a most polite and calm voice. "This is a very sorrowful day, and I despair too. But I sought you out because you might be able to help me. I need to speak to your cousin Trór in an important matter, but I could not find him. Might you perhaps help me to learn where he is now?"
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:01 PM   #64
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"Frar, are you alright?" Tror was speaking to him. He had been standing alone for some time now, and his mind had been wandering. Frar started and already had his hand on his axe before he realized it was Tror. He smiled and shook his head.

"Tror, my friend. I am well enough, that is of little concern. How does the colony? How have they taken Balin's death?"

Tror sighed heavily and looked away. He pulled his beard.

"Very ill, I fear," he said at last. "Very ill. His death has cast a shadow upon the hearts of our people."

Frar nodded. "I have felt it," he said. "It is upon my heart also. Some foreboding - I cannot put a chisel on it - some darkness looms close."

"We must give them hope, Frar, you and I and the others. They are not leaderless, after all." Tror paused for a moment, his forehead furrowed.

Frar realized then that Tror it was who would take Balin's place, and already he could see that the helm of authority weighed heavily upon his brow. He considered mentioning this, but let it go as Tror had said nothing yet.

"Forgive me, I was lost in thought for a moment. I had come to find you," said Tror. "I - we are holding a council and your experience is needed. Come."

"Of course," said Frar. "A council of war, I hope?"

Tror grinned wryly. "I imagine that will come up."

"It had better, because anything else will be a waste of my time. War is all I know," grumbled Frar as they turned and began to walk towards the council chamber.

Tror laughed briefly and abruptly. Then Frar laughed as well; long and loud and booming, his roar rang through the upper halls of Khazad-dum, and stirred the gloomy coals of not a few dwarven hearts.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:50 PM   #65
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Nîsa

So focused was Nisa on the darkness that seemed to envelop her through her closed eyes that she did not hear the heavy footfalls of a dwarf drawing close.

"I am very sorry to disturb you in your grief, young lady Nîsa." She jumped at the mentioning of her own name and quickly turned, nocking over a glass full of wine in the process, but the dwarf continued on as calm as ever.

"This is a very sorrowful day, and I despair too. But I sought you out because you might be able to help me. I need to speak to your cousin Trór in an important matter, but I could not find him. Might you perhaps help me to learn where he is now?"

Nisa focused on the face for a second, trying to put a name on the familiar voice. The skin of the dwarf was dark as if he had been working in the mines, but a closer look revealed that it was his true skin color and not soil that people wore when they worked.

After a moment of her studying him the dwarf smiled again, probably in hopes of her recognizing him, and it came to her. Onli! although his ferret was not on his shoulders as was usual, she couldn't mistake that smile. Nisa had often seen him with the company of Balin, mostly offering generous gifts. Trór had not spoken kindly of Onli, and Nisa dared not question his word, but now that she actually came face to face with Onli he didn't seem that bad, in fact he seemed very kind.

"Might you know where Trór is?" Onli repeated.

The tears came welling back up in Nisa's eyes as he said this and again she covered her eyes with her hand and cried. She heard the dwarf exhale loudly, probably in disgust, and why shouldn't he be disgusted? Just look at yourself girl, he asked you a question, answer it!

"I," Nisa started to quiver as she said this, "I don't know where my cousin is, he was watching over our lord Balin's body, but it has been a long while and I don't know if he still stands there or not." Onli smiled courteously but she could see that this is not the answer he wanted.

"Why don't you try Kenan?" She said after seeing the look in his eyes. Nisa tried to grab hold of her emotions and stood up as straight as she could, as was usually expected of her when she was addressing someone. "I know that they are good friends and I'm sure he could grant you a better answer than I."


Trór

Frar’s company and confident laughter comforted the troubled Tror. During all this time the realization of him being the lawful ruler of Khazad-dum had not struck him, but from his own mouth the situation was made clear. A terrible blow it was to his mind, like the premature smote of the hammer on a piece of iron it dented, rocked, and shook him to his very core. Although his friend comforted him somewhat he could not shake the full load of the subject off. How could he, a mere soldier, govern the mason, the crafter, the miner, and the soldier alike? Could he, who commanded the dwarf to fight, also command that dwarf to kneel in loyalty to him?

These, and others, were the thoughts Tror dwelt on as he walked with Frar. So concentrated was he that soon his voice was ringing within the confines of his tick skull. Was Frar speaking? He could not tell, Tror did not care. I am a fighter not a ruler! This Tror repeated until he was deep in debate with himself.

Upon the king was placed the lives, the debts, the carefree wives and children, and the sins of the people. I must bear all! Oh hard condition! Was I born for this greatness? Subject to the breath of every fool. All the ease and comfort that I have ever known must be cast aside, all that private people enjoy must be neglected. Then what have kings that private people have none of, save ceremony, and what is idle ceremony? A drink that is not sweet: poisoned flattery! Be-sink great greatness and bid your ceremony, that comes with you, give you cure.

Proud dream that plays so subtly with a kings repose. I am, now, a king that finds you and I know it is not the bar, the scepter, or the ball, the axe, the mace, the crown imperial, the robe of gold and pearl, the facet title running for the king, the throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp that beats upon the high shores of this world. No not all these doubled could compete with the hard tradition of ceremony. Not all these laid in bed together can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave, who with a body filed and a vacant mind gets him to rest. Next day, before dawn, will he rise and serve his master, and follow so through the ever running year with unprofitable labor to his grave, but with no ceremony. Such a wretch, winding up days with toil and nights with sleep, had the forehand advantage of a king!


Here Tror gave up his fruitless argument. Duty must always be his first role. Yet, he would not procure the crown for himself if the people would not have him. Unity was what the people needed, he would still command his army, no on would take that from him, but the crown must go to the worthiest whether it be him or not.

The massive stone gates were opened outward by two guards at the pairs approach. Ori and Gror were revealed to them by the torch light that was all around. At first Tror was very displeased, not even Loni or Nali were here, but before he could express his frustration Loni and Nali ushered past Frar and were standing by Ori and Gror. A first Tror thought that the third figure with the brothers was Kenan, but he now saw that it was just a woman. He glared at Nali, and the woman, thinking that the scholar had misheard his orders and would have chastised him but for Tror noticing another absent dwarf.

“Where is Oin?” Tror asked Ori a bit puzzled. “Has he not come back yet?”

Last edited by Groin Redbeard; 12-23-2008 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:50 AM   #66
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Tív & Tíva . . . little sleepers have big ears . . .

Though the voices were quiet in their conversation, still the keen ears of the two children picked up on them. Their father’s voice especially, the deep hum of it from the kitchen called them up from their sleep. Tíva woke to it first and nudged her brother awake. He knuckled his eyes and yawned, saying ‘What? What?’

‘Shhhh, Tív!’ his sister whispered at him, her forefinger against her lips. ‘Papi’s home . . . and they’re talking about something.’ She motioned for him to follow her out of bed. ‘C’mon! Let’s go see if we can hear what they’re saying a little better.’

The twins crept to the open entryway into the kitchen, their bare little feet making no noise against the stone floor. They hunkered down in the shadows against the edge of the doorway, leaning against each other. Their mother had just finished speaking, and in a quite serious tone. One of those tones that they recognized well – the one that meant ‘pay very close attention, now; this is important’.

‘What does that mean, Tíva? What she said.’ Tív asked, whispering very low in her ear.

Tíva elbowed him in the arm. ‘Ssst!’ she hissed at him. ‘I wanna hear this!’

Tív scooted away from her just a bit and rubbed at his arm. What in blue blazes was Mami talking about? Just where was she getting this ‘new child’? He inched back to Tíva, and following her lead, listened most attentively.

-----

Vitr

Vitr sat down with a heavy thunk on his chair. He felt a bit dizzy, as if all the blood had rushed from his head and pooled in his feet. He felt cold, and sweaty at the same time. Mouth, dry. His stomach had suddenly tied itself in a tight little knot, too, and was threatening to crawl up his throat.

‘Wh-what?’ he gasped out, looking Lys full in the face as if trying to glean some clue from her expression. He wondered if the trying events of this evening had somehow disoriented him, made his ears play tricks on what she’d said. But no, she’d been quite clear. ‘Our new child’ ...


She looked at him expectantly. No further explanation seemed forthcoming.

‘A baby?’ he croaked. He could feel he was beginning to babble in a rather thick witted manner. His mind had not wrapped itself fully around this bit of news.

‘A baby . . .’ he said again taking a deep breath to collect himself. ‘A baby.’ He nodded his head in a slow, resolved manner. He reached out to cradle her face with his hand.

‘Well this changes everything, now doesn’t it?’

Last edited by Arry; 12-25-2008 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 12-24-2008, 02:14 PM   #67
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Kór sighed as he watched Nali turn to walk away, ordering his sister to follow. Kórin gave her brother one last glance, an exasperated look on her face, and then followed, dragging her feet. Kór wondered at Nali’s words, particularly because he had tried to pass them off as a product of senility. “Dampened merriment” will bode ill for us? That seemed fairly straightforward to Kór – obviously low morale amongst the colony wasn’t going to help them any. But Nali seemed to think what he had said was a little off.

What really bode ill for them?

Kór picked up his harp, not minding Nali’s suggestion, and headed in the direction of the kitchens and storeroom, where he expected many of the women were still working while the men sat around and talked. He nonchalantly pulled up a stool just outside the kitchens area and played another familiar song, especially to those from the Lonely Mountain, who made up most of the colony.

“…The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying fall.
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him.”


Kór finished softly singing the words, then simply continued the tune.

~

Kórin wondered at Nali’s words, too, but found it impossible to really ponder anything as ale seemed to slosh about in her head as well as her stomach. She followed the old dwarf with heavy steps until they neared the Eastern Gate. Others had already arrived and were arriving. She recognized all of them, but could not put a name to each face, especially at the moment. One gave her and Nali a look which made her beard bristle with anger. She knew his name – Trór.

Kórin kept a cold gaze on him. The way he carried himself, and how he now addressed Ori… Her eyes narrowed. Was this now the dwarf she would have to take orders from?

Last edited by Durelin; 12-24-2008 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 12-24-2008, 05:30 PM   #68
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“I think I had better get Iari home,” Kéni said. Kénan nodded his head in agreement. “When will you return, Grandfather?”

“I don’t know,” Kénan replied. “It depends on how long Trór takes in his council.” The long-winded fool may take all day and night, he thought to himself, but this he did not say aloud to his grandchildren. “It may be a long while - don’t wait up for me.”

Kéni nodded and took his sisters hand, but Kénan wanted to make himself clear.

“Get her to bed as quick as you can. She needs rest.” And he did not want to be bothered with her whimpering when he got home. “You get to bed, too.”

Kéni nodded again, though he resented being told to go to bed. He grumbled something between his teeth as he led his sister off, but Kénan was already pacing off in the direction of the appointed place for the council.

“Well, here I am,” he said. “Let’s not take longer than we must!” The request was made apparently to no one in particular, but he was looking in Trór’s general direction.
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Old 12-26-2008, 12:26 AM   #69
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Kéni hurried home, holding Iari's hand the whole way. He was annoyed with his grandfather's treatment of him and even more annoyed that the old dwarf didn't even want to talk to Iari when he returned. Their home seemed safe and warm when they arrived.

"We need to get some food in you, Iari." Kéni went about making a plate of dried meat and biscuits for his sister. "Would you like some tea as well?"

Iari shook her head. Kéni put the food in front of her, but she refused it. "Please eat. You'll be starving in a few hours and it won't do for you to be so hungry when Grandfather gets home. He'll think I've not taken care of you."

The little girl sighed and took a bit from the biscuit. She hadn't realized how hungry she was until now. She gobbled up the rest of the food on her plate and Kéni had some tea ready for her when she was finished. While Iari took her tea Kéni made himself a plate of food and joined Iari.

"What do you suppose Grandfather's meeting was about?"

Kéni shook his head. "I know not, but I would rather not think of it now. And best you don't either. It won't do for you to have any more nightmares. Balin's death was nightmare enough for everyone I think."

Kéni stood and took Iari by the hand after she had finished her drink. "You can sleep in my bed. I'll be staying up a little later, but do not fret sister, I will be close at hand." Kéni tucked Iari in and she fell asleep fairly quickly.

Last edited by Kitanna; 12-26-2008 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 12-26-2008, 05:52 AM   #70
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Soon after the news of Balin's death had been announced, Bain left the great hall. There was nothing that could keep him there now. The others were still mourning for their lord, but he could not bear to stand and watch them. He felt somehow estranged from them and he could not understand why. Since they shared the same grief, he should have felt tied to them, shouldn't he?

Inevitably, his footsteps lead him to the forge. He always went there when he had some doubt on his mind or when he was unhappy. Not that he was often so. He usually had no reason to be. But now...

Yes, what would happen now? Things were going to change and probably dark times would come. But the future was a notion Bain had always refused to understand. He had never once thought of what was to come. It was something beyond him, and now that the question what would happen? came to bother him, he found himself helpless, having no answer.

Bain shook his head as if to cast away doubt and needless question. He would leave the thoughts of what was going to happen to more competent heads. There were enough in the colony. As for him – well, for now he was going to face his doubts in the only way he was able.

Bain took hold of his hammer. As always, work was going to be his answer and his comfort. Soon, he knew he would forget everything, his mind bent only on the task ahead. He did not yet know what he was going to make- a tool, a weapon, a piece of armoury – but he was certain that whatever it was going to be, it would be able to clear his thoughts and put his mind at rest for a while.
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:02 PM   #71
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As Tror turned his gaze from the two Nali breathed a sigh of relief. He had stiffened at Tror's glare, fearing an outburst either from Tror or Korin. Slowly, Nali began to relax and let out a sigh of relief, it was the hardest thing to try and keep peace when the threat of war loomed around them in the uncertain darkness. May the great god keep them united in thier hour of need!

Tror began speaking to Ori, who surprisingly had stayed behind at the gate. Nali cast a worried look sidelong at Korin, her eyes were fixed on Tror and they appeared to match even the venerable warrior's vicious glare. Slowly and cautiously Nali touched Korin's shoulder, her head snapped in his direction.

"Remember thy place here," Nal said cautiously but not in a threatening tone. "Thou art but a guest here, and I beseech you not to speak too hastily." It did not look like his words had much effect, but Nali hoped that she would heed them until at least the council was in session.

Poor thing, can you really blame her for being upset? Not only was Korin completely ignorant of the dire predicament that their colony was in, but her help was also so rudely sought for in an hour of great tragedy. He hoped that this misunderstanding would soon pass when the all was made clear. Loni was as his usual: cool headed and silent; Nali envied him at the moment, already the council was on the verge of feuding, as so many great leaders succumbed to when they were suddenly deprived of a great leader. Where was Kenan? If that dwarf would not arrive soon there would be the devil to pay for the both of them!

However, Nali did not have to wait long, and the familiar footfalls of Kenan were heard in the passage. The gruff old dwarf came in as if they were all a group of buddies gathered in the midst of merriment around a ale cask. He spoke very bluntly about ending the matter quickly, not even a word of greetings. Tror spun round when he heard Kenan's voice and grimly shook his head in agreement, though it looked like he intended to say something else, before he turned back to hear Ori's response.
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Old 12-28-2008, 03:50 PM   #72
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Ori

"Where is Óin? Has he not come back yet?"

Ori had been so deep in thought that he had not heard the others coming. He turned quickly to Trór.

"Óin has not come yet," he replied. Following a sudden impulse, he knelt down and bowed his head low. "My lord," he added.

There was murmuring and someone exhaled loudly. Ori rose up and eyed the Dwarves gathered at the gates. "For that is what he is now," he said steadily, "there is no doubt Trór is now our lord and we will follow him."

No one said anything. Ori realised they were waiting for him to continue. He resisted the urge to give the wry smile so characteristic to himself. "Of course, we will have no official ceremony to name him the Lord of Moria until we have let Balin to his rest and mourned him properly. For no one should think we do not honour him, or that we did not love him."

His voice broke a little by the last words but he held his expression calm. There was still a silence. Ori could feel a tear running down his cheek. He wiped it to his sleeve. The time for mourning a dear friend would come later, he promised himself.

He turned to Tror and gave him the wry smile. "I hope I did not overstep my boundaries, my lord," he said in a low voice.
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Old 12-28-2008, 05:25 PM   #73
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"You did not," rumbled Frar. He turned from Ori to the whole council. "Tror is now our chief, by position and merit. He will lead us to the best of his craft, and we must serve him in return, our hammers and axes at his beck." He glanced around the chamber, eyeing every dwarf in turn. "We must serve him as we served Balin - Balin, who has never yet lead us astray and whose trust in Tror was as iron."

Frar turned to Tror and bowed low. "Speak, Lord Tror. Your dwarves heed you."
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Old 12-29-2008, 12:51 PM   #74
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What was this? Óin had not arrived! This shocked and frustrated Trór, he clenched his fist and drove it down to his side as if was striking an imaginary foe. All things depended on good intelligence on the enemies whereabouts and numbers, all of which he lacked with Óin's absence. Trór would have had soon dismiss the unpleasant thought of his lack of intelligence for the moment and proceed with the council and seek a way to counter this problem, but no sooner had Óri finished relaying this news to him he dropped to one knee. What in the world was he doing?! Never before had Trór felt so helpless as when Óri uttered those two words: my lord.

His old friend continued his explanation as some of the host gasped, Trór found himself among those who did. It hurt Trór to see his friends acting in such a way as would beget all their years of friendship. Frar even joined in with Óri in proclaiming to serve him as they did Balin, the only problem was Trór was not Balin, no one could be as wise or as deserving of honor as that now dead venerable Dwarf.

"Speak, Lord Tror. Your dwarves heed you."

“Enough!” Trór boomed with upraised hands. This was not to be, never had Trór been treated so formally by those he held so close to his heart. Oh how the ceremony has already tainted the sweet nectar of friendship!

“Friends,” he implored, “why all this formality. Have I not known you and worked with you these five years? Have we not served our lord with equal ardor and loyalty? Therefore why should I be your choice as king if the service of mine has not been any more than you gathered here?

“Óri, you are the trusted friend of Balin, closer to him and his mind than anyone her. You have more right to carry on his will than I have. What about Óin, who has worked unceasingly to carry out Balin’s wishes and who not three weeks past returned with a mighty horde of arms from the thrid-deep? Why should I... I don’t know how...”

Trór paused for a second, he had not noticed that he had been yelling. Now who is the one, being ridiculous? Is this how you are to treat your loyal friends?

“I am sorry,” Trór said somewhat hesitantly. He helped Óri who was still on his knees. “I should not scold you for your feelings, nor you Frar for your devotion. I am not use to such formality amongst friends.

“I am not deserving of the rank of ruler amongst you, but I am no fool in seeing that it is my duty to lead at present: being second command to Balin, and chief of soldiers. I would feign have a more learned Dwarf rule you, a military ruler would only bring you strife and war, that is what I am. When this crisis has abated I will relinquish my power to this council to decide on a better choice, but for the present let us speak no more of this, my heart is very much split in the matter and I would have more time to think before we go on.” Trór faced Óri, “thank you for your kind words, my friend, they touch me deeply. Do not think that I take you for granted.

“Now let us turn matters to the reason I summoned you. Gror, come forward and tell us of what you have seen.”

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Old 12-29-2008, 03:20 PM   #75
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The heavy latch fell into place and Dalin breathed a long sigh. Was it relief? He felt somewhat safe, at least. Or perhaps it was merely an expression of his troubled spirit. Since recovering from his grief long enough to leave the hall and return to his quarters, the dwarf had watched countless others drift off into the caverns in grief, despair and bewilderment. He was strangely fascinated by how their differing emotions manifested in physical ways, particularly subtle hand gestures. Those with families clutched one another, reassuring young and old alike that their situations were far from dire while comforting the distraught. Others walked with a new determination and purpose, hands kept noticably closer to visible weaponry, as if prepared to strike out against an unseen foe.

But a third group troubled Dalin; these individuals walked alone, hands nervously clenched, fidgeting and glancing furtively left and right. The atmosphere among these dwarves was tense and smelled of panic and fear. Hushed voices whispered back forth as rumors began to spread; some said that an orc army had already invaded the upper levels. Others swore that outsiders weren't involved at all, but that Balin has been murdered by one of his own. A fringe gathering were even rambling about a dragon's involvement in the affair. Dalin didn't know what to believe, but found the rammifications of the collective possibilities to be terrifying. Safe at last in his home, he re-examined the lock to make sure it was secure. "Not a day to be taking chances," he muttered.

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Old 12-29-2008, 09:20 PM   #76
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Gror had not often been in a company as mighty as the one he was in now, and he didn't like it much. The eyes of all the noble dwarves, of the council, staring back at him; waiting on his report.

Gror! Get a hold of yourself! You were never this way around Dain, and King Dain was a mighty dwarf; it was an honour to be in his company too! Then again, Gror got used to being around King Dain. This was an entirely new and uncomfortable situation for him.

"What I've seen? Oh...right...uh - what I've seen. Yes, what I've seen." Get it together you bumbling fool! Act like you would around Dain, or even your father's friends. It isn't much different.

Yet, it was different. Gror couldn't describe it. King Dain was a noble dwarf in his own right, but being in the presense of Balin's dwarves - there was a different air of nobility. One that made Gror feel like he didn't deserve to be here; he should be washing these dwarves' helmets, not addressing them at the council.

But you are here, Gror, because you were asked to be here. That's got to mean something. Tror could have sent you away and told the Council the news himself, but he didn't. Do not disappoint now.

Gror cleared his throat and spoke with much greater strength and authority:

"I have seen a large Orc army heading up the Silverlode. Nothing more than that, I felt it of dire importance to warn you of this threat that approaches. A force of this size can only mean one thing, they're looking for a fight, and I say we give them one!"

Gror turned to Tror, and bowed low; "My bow and sword are yours, lord, and I offer you my service. It may not be much at all, but it is yours for as long as you decide to have it."

Last edited by Boromir88; 12-31-2008 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 01-01-2009, 01:13 PM   #77
Groin Redbeard
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Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The manner of Gror was what Tror expected, gathering from his first conversation with him: nervous and uncertain. Though Gror stuttered often in the first few utterances he made the end product of his short speech effective. Needless to say, this was not what many of the members had expected from the messenger, any rumor of an orc army anywhere near their beloved city had not been heard or suspected by anyone. Even Tror half wished that he had misheard Gror, an army of orcs was not a pleasant thought even for a veteran soldier to think about. His army was small but bore many of the veterans from kingdom of the Iron Hills, but goblins never came in small groups, and an orc army capable of swarming the great halls of Khazad-dum could be expected to be as large as five thousand strong.

Frar grinned at Tror’s side, a chance to avenge Balin would certainly a factor in this battle. Nali gave no expression of shock or surprise, seeing as Tror had already told him before the council what the crisis was, but his brother gave a short cry of surprise.

"My bow and sword are yours, lord, and I offer you my service. It may not be much at all, but it is yours for as long as you decide to have it.”

It appeared that Tror’s rant about calling him lord had little effect on Gror, he bowed low to Tror causing his beard to sweep the ground. However, Tror did not feel as disgusted with this messenger offering him honor, in fact the same situation would probably had occurred even if Balin were there. He smiled and stood looked into Gror’s eyes.

“Most readily do I accept it then. You are a messenger of king Dain and I will give you all the honor and respect that is yours. Your fealty will not be forgotten by me when this is over.” Tror now turned to face the council. “You heard why I have called you together. The odds against us are extreme but not impossible, we have strong walls to withstand any siege that might be brought to the foot of these mountains, the uncertainty of our enemy is almost certain: they don’t know our numbers or our strength in the field. Most importantly of all: we have the element of surprise, an army that can move undetected by our scouts is definitely relying speed and surprise, they have had to be marching hard today and will be worn out when we take the field. This may give us an edge in battle.” Tror paused for a moment and turned back to Gror. “How long do we have before the orcs are upon us?”
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Old 01-01-2009, 04:37 PM   #78
Durelin
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Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Kórin could not form words in response to Nali’s chiding. She expected the old dwarf could tell that her body only tensed further following his reminder. Remember her place? She had been summoned to this council along with the rest! But no, she was simply a “guest” here, while the others – the males here, who prided themselves their lineage and experience – they were the actual members of this council. Why under earth did they drag her here if she had no real place in the proceedings?

She also remained silent as the others hailed Trór as their lord, starting with Ori. “For that is what he is now…” Kórin brooded on these words, keeping her eyes often on her new ‘lord’. She twisted her mouth in distaste more, though, when Trór addressed the dwarves gathered around him as friends. Yes, friends. This group of “friends” chose the leader of the entire colony from amongst themselves. Each and every dwarf in the colony had chosen to follow the Lord Balin when they left their homes to retake their ancient home of Khazad-dűm. Yes, Trór had been Balin’s choice as his right hand while he ruled, but this was no clear succession.

The messenger’s words came as little surprise to Kórin, and in her current state she felt little in response. Besides the intense anger and hatred talk of orcs brought about, she was confused as to why Trór and all the dwarves summoned seemed to be settling in for a nice discussion. How much was there to discuss? If this messenger could tell them no more than that there was a “large orc army” headed their way, they were wasting their time. They needed to send more reliable scouts out immediately, and begin preparing to set out and meet these orcs in battle.

Kórin prepared to speak her mind, even though she still felt a little too muddled to voice her thoughts, but she waited at least to hear the messenger’s response to Trór’s question. Hopefully this Gror was observant enough to provide a couple more details.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:09 AM   #79
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Kénan leaned forward and words burst from his mouth be fore he meant them to be spoken. “The element of surprise?” The dwarves of the council looked at him. He didn’t mind in the least. He had had something to say ever since arriving and he had kept quiet too long. So he got to his feet and faced Trór, giving poor Gror no chance to answer.

“The element of surprise? Do you know nothing? The orcs themselves have already had the element of surprise! They took from us our leader! The one dwarf who could possibly lead us well into battle is now dead. What you saw was a mere scouting party of the orcs. They meant to show themselves. They don’t care now what we do. They’ve already surprised us.” He snorted, disgusted, and looked around at the other dwarves.

“I would like to know just why we are in this predicament. Are we sure, I mean, that we want Trór as our leader? Was it not him who allowed Balin to go down alone and look into Mirrormere? And now he speaks of the element of surprise?” He looked again at Trór and shook his head like a reproving father. “Foolishness.” He allowed the word to hang in almost mutinous silence for a moment. “Tell me, how do you intend to use this supposed surprise against the orcs, when we are so few and they are so many?”
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:03 AM   #80
Durelin
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Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Kórin raised an eyebrow at Trór upon hearing Kénan’s words. She was glad to find another reason for her distaste of him. Though this went beyond distaste – that he would leave the Lord Balin’s side for any reason was disturbing. Continuing to watch Trór closely she wondered if their lord’s death weighed on him heavily enough.

Kórin was very tempted to echo Kénan’s concerns, but she knew he had said enough, and that certainly his voice carried far more weight than hers ever would. Instead she returned to her feelings of impatience with all those present – not just their supposed leader.

The fiery-haired dwarf snorted a laugh of exasperation. It seemed that the blind were leading the blind, using the counsel of the blind!

“And how many is ‘so many’?” Kórin asked – then added, “exactly,” for clarity. She did not bother to rise from her seat, and readied herself to ignore any quiet admonishment from Nali beside her. He apparently thought he could restrain her somehow should she decide to take part in the council to which she was invited.
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