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Old 01-04-2009, 02:47 PM   #81
Groin Redbeard
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The sudden outburst from Kenan surprised Tror. There was a deep flame of passion burning in the old Dwarf’s eyes as he angerly sprang to his feet. Tror’s insticts caused him to react and face Kenan suddenly, leaving the timid Gror looking about as if he were an insignifican memeber, and indeed he was as soon as Kenan started to speak.

What Tror had expected from Kenan was the reassurance in their certain victory against the orc invaders, but what the old Dwarf said was of an entirely different matter. Tror couldn’t believe his ears. He was always under the impression that he and Kenan were friends but it was evident that Kenan held him as one who had never seen war: no more than an amature soldier! However, what Kenan said next drove Tror to a state of fury. Was he suggesting that Tror played a part in the death of Balin?

“Tell me, how do you intend to use this spposed surprise against the orcs, when we are so many?”

The first thing to do is to breadk your neck old Dwarf! Perhaps I could surprise the orcs by mounting your head on my spear!

“And how many is ‘so many’?” A women asked – then added, “exactly?” Tror snapped his gaze towards the next speaker, who chimed in with Kenan. Who was this lady who spoke as haughtily as a member of nobility?

“Do not interrupt,” barked Tror, “but seeing as Kenan has already set the example for cutting people off I shall set things right by addressing you personally, Kenan.”

Tror clenched his fist and took a step towards Kenan, some broken teeth might remind him that he was not even present whe Balin had died. His angry footfall was checked by Ori, who sprang infront of the angry warrior.

“This is not the time.” Ori whispered through his pressed lips.

Taken back by this gesture, Tror paused. Ori’s words saw their affect almost instantly as Tror’s expression softened and a look of intense agony enveloped his features. Hadn’t he, by his own words, admitted to Kenan that he had failled his lord? Kenan was right on that account: Tror had failled Balin, but Tror would not address that matter. It was a mistake to let his emotions get the better of him this situation. If you want to get these people through this act like a dwarf who know what to expect.

“You lose hope quickly, Kenan.” he said in a rugged yet subdued voice. “I always thought of you as a fighter.”

“What hope is there? Show me the hope in you plans.”

“There is no guaranty of hope in any of our plans!” Tror responded vehemently,regaining some of his pride and slamming his fist on the stone table. There was a short pause, the council had not lasted five minutes and already he was at his wits end. Tror sighed and rubbed his clenched hand in his other.

“Very well then, what would you have me do, most venerable Kenan.” Tror said this last part with an air of mockery. “If we are not to fight, then what? Flee as fast as our legs can carry us to the Hollin Gate? Even if such an attempt were possible, I would not stand for the shame that it would bring upon our heads?” Tror’s voice had risen in the last sentence. Try as he might he could not contain his fighting spirit.

“If you will not fight for me fight for the women, the children, and the honor that is ours as long as Khazad-dum stands. What is this foul rhetoric that I hear from you, Kenan? You speak of Balin with pride and honor, as you rightly should, but did he conquor and restore the great kingdom of our ancestors to live in fear? Speak no more of hope to us if you have none; do not infest our kin with the lies of the enemy. If I am deemed unworthy in your sight then leave me pressence and in a way fitting to yourself dispose of yourself, but if not, then shall I proudly fight by your side as one who is willing to scrafice his all for the glory that belongs to this great city.

“I am no Balin, but who among us can ascend his lofty mountain of leadership? Already I have made faults, but I also have faith in our survival. I know your qualities, and they are many, but if we are to survive I need Dwarves who are ready to fight with me.” Tror paused to see if Kenan was going to respond. He wondered if any of the council had noticed that he had evaded the topic of what his plan was, in truth he had only vague outlines on what to do. Instead, Tror hoped to rouse some of the old spirit that had died with Balin. Tror looked back at Gror he was anxious to get back to the actual planning of the battle. Such outbursts wearried him or than any fight ever would.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:12 AM   #82
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Gror acted as if he paid no heed to the outburst and simply continued. Although he did take note of this dwarf, Kenan. Gror was always taught if you have a problem with your leaders, you discuss it in private, and to publicly speak out against Tror at this time is unwarranted.

"Well, sir, I had spotted the army not a day ago, following up the Silverlode, as I headed towards the mountains. My hope was an army as large as this one would be slow moving and I could get here in good time to give sufficient warning. However, with the advance party already reaching the gates, my guess is we have one hour, two at the most, before they're on your doorstep."

He felt like adding, that means we can't sit here and squabble with eachother, we must act fast, but Gror didn't feel like it was his place.

"I met a dwarf, Oin he said his name was, not long before reaching the East gate. He went ahead to get a closer look at this rabble. However, since he is not back, I fear whatever Oin has found out won't be much good now.

Oh...well I...erm...mean no offense to Master Oin. That is, I'm sure he has already found tons of information that would be useful knowing. I, well, just met...that it won't be good to wait around for his information. We have to make preparations immediately."

You were doing so good, until that trash spewed out your mouth! Way to go Gror! Now Tror will have to send you away. I certainly would, if I were him!

Last edited by Boromir88; 01-06-2009 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 01-06-2009, 03:31 PM   #83
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Nali

The old Dwarf winced as Tror rebuked Korin's question, he was just glad that Kenan was on his mind. Nali agreed with the first part of Kenan's questions, even if he did think that they were out of place, but the last part was almost an outward act of treason. Nevertheless, he felt split when Tror began to speak hotly against Kenan, Tror seemed like a youngster defying a father, yet Nali knew that his loyalty was with the new lord.

Thankfully, Gror had continued with talking instead of holding back from the argument. Nali could feel the majority of the council beginning to bristle at Kenan and Tror, the quicker that they got back on track the better.

Two hours is a very short time for a crisis so dire as this. Nali looked up at the stone faces of the gates and wondered if they could hold off, or possibly hide their great city as they they had done before when the Dark Lord enveloped the surrounding lands. He shook his head in silence, nothing happens twice, this meant war. He wished that Gror would be more precise in his explanation of the enemies host. A round about number would give the council a grasp of how to position their own soldiers.

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Old 01-06-2009, 09:30 PM   #84
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Kénan bristled with wrath as Trór’s words switched from furious accusation into words smoothed with honey. He spoke of honor in the same breath as he spoke of Kénan’s cowardice, or his disloyalty to the clan. Such speech left Kénan feeling cold and hot at once. What made it infinitely worse was that he had no chance to answer. The young ambassador, Gror, answered Trór’s original question of how soon the orc army would be upon them. As his answer went on, Kénan slowly sank back in his seat. His questions had no been answered, and a sense of doom was settling slowly but surely on him.

As he settled into his seat, he reflected upon what had passed. He had spoken out against the new leader before an entire council. It was an act upon which he could be called later to explain and apologize, and perhaps worse. His thick eyebrows lifted as he cast a swift glance at Trór, gauging the likelihood of such an occasion, and he doubted it. Trór was busy with the weight of war, and unless he intended to use him as an example now, he would probably not dig up the trouble again, if he could help it.

It was true, such a responsibility would not be an easy thing for any dwarf to bear, and Kénan knew that Trór was young and inexperienced and it would therefore hang all the heavier on his shoulders. This was a reason to both blame and pity the dwarf. If he were wise, he would listen to others, but whether or not he would was yet to be discovered. Kénan began to pay attention to what was said.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:06 PM   #85
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Nisa

There no response for a long time. Onli just scowled and turned his gaze to looking around the vast hall hoping to catch a glimpse of Trór. Nisa knew that her answer was not the one that Onli had wished to hear, but what could she do? She felt that causing this Dwarf to leave would make her burst into tears all over again, if Trór or Adela would not be with her than she better make do with what she had. Nisa plucked up the scattered remnants of her spunk and addressed Onli again, this time with a smile on her face.

"I'm sure Trór won't be gone long, but he might have gone to the East-Gate to wait for Oin or Ori, neither of whom have come back as I'm concerned." She had caught Onli's attention again but he gave nothing more than a blank stair. Standing, Nisa looked towards the end of the hall and back at Onli as if suggesting something.

"If you would like, I could introduce you to him. I'm sure that he wouldn't mind."
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:23 PM   #86
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Onli

"Why don't you try Kénan? I know that they are good friends and I'm sure he could grant you a better answer than I."

Onli scowled and turned his gaze to seek for the old warrior, whom, now thinking about it, he recalled to notice before in the hall. So careless, Onli thought to himself now, again with a burst of inner anger, though on the outside he tried to hold the immovable mask. So careless, it should have occured to him to ask that old Dwarf, these soldiers have always been one hand, whichever personality they have, they are all of the same sort; but Onli hardly ever paid attention to Kénan, there was nothing to gain from him. Perhaps these kids with him, perhaps, once they grew up a bit more, but Kénan himself was a quiet guy, aside from the big things and important happenings in the colony. Onli wondered if he actually ever spoke to him once during these five years. Nevertheless, he was certain Kénan does not have a silver piece of worth with himself. But now perhaps he could be of use.

However, after barely overlooking the hall, he realised he was mistaken; or then Kénan had already disappeared. Curse it, Onli thought, but at the same moment Nîsa spoke again. Onli looked at her, still perplexed, and it took him a moment to realise what she has been saying.

"I'm sure Trór won't be gone long, but he might have gone to the East-Gate to wait for Óin or Ori, neither of whom have come back as I'm concerned."

The first reaction of Onli's to her words was a bit of hope that he, after all, is not condemned to wander the empty halls aimlessly. The second thought was something like "as if you could not have told me earlier, you elvish eggs-laying hen". But he controlled himself enough not to make any move.

"If you would like, I could introduce you to him. I'm sure that he wouldn't mind."

The wheels of Onli's thoughts set on spin for a while again. He was not so keen on the idea of this young and naive girl bothering around, when he is to speak of important matters to the new Lord of Moria. On the other hand, Onli thought it might be useful to have her there after all: especially as his own relations to Trór were quite unprobed. Perhaps having his lovely little cousin around will make the arrogant warmonger a little bit more open.

He decided. Putting on his most comfortable and pleasant smile, he bowed and spoke to Nîsa.

"Of course, my dear lady. I will most appreciate it. If it does not bother you now, I will be most happy if you decided to accompany me. Perhaps seeing your cousin will cheer you up a little bit at this grave time, too," he added in an encouraging tone and beckoned towards the exit from the hall.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:07 PM   #87
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Vigdis

The world must have had turned into mist, Vigdis concluded. It was all so hazy. But no, mist was not sharp and hard like this. This was a world of steel. A world of smudged steel, like the blades of unwashed kitchen knives...

Vigdis buried her fingers deep in her hair and pulled, not very gently. What on earth I'm thinking about? Have I lost my wits? But kitchen knives? I know, Vyra keeps a certain good rum in her knife locker there... That's surely something I need.

She headed to the kitchens, calmly rejecting thoughts of everything else than rum. Thoughts of sorrow, horror and vengeful hatred. No time to mourn now, no time to unleash my anger, she told herself.

When she entered the kitchens, she couldn't see anybody except one of the younger cooks, a lean girl with a distraught look. "Excuse me, but is Vyra here?" Vigdis asked, in an unnecessarily loud voice.

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Old 01-09-2009, 03:08 PM   #88
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Lóni

When Lóni arrived at the council, he was at first glad that he did not come late. However, soon he had to face a shock: the dire news of the threat approaching them, and the most unsettling manner of the council's attendants. When Grór was speaking, Lóni looked at him with understanding and tried to look attentively to encourage him, just if the messenger looked at him. But when Kénan spoke, Lóni's mind became troubled. No, this is certainly no time to fall into arguing, he thought. Although he had to confess that Kénan's words contained truth as well. It was obvious that the Orcs have already struck a severe blow to them, and there was hardly anything worse that the approaching enemy could do to them.

Lóni rubbed his one undamaged eye. He did not believe that the enemies will be so many as to bring complete destruction to the colony. No, but it meant war. Again. Had it not been for long enough, Lóni thought, that I have lived in peace? For the last fifty years, he had not set out his foot into a large-scale battle. Since the Battle of the Five Armies, there were only the goblins when they arrived here, but they were not too many and could not stand a chance against the fiery Dwarves who, after all, were not as many either. But Lóni felt that something bigger is coming. Perhaps another full-scale war between the Dwarves and Orcs? Half a century is a long time, and Lóni thought he was lucky, so lucky to live in peaceful times for the time being. At some times in the past fifty years since the Battle of the Five Armies, Lóni thought he might live the rest of his life in peace. But he knew well that peace never lasts for long. He suspected that enemy will come, goblins again, or Easterlings. When Lóni was young and naive still, after the Battle of Azanulbizar, when the war against goblins was won, he and many others foolishly thought that it is over. Some had thought that it is over once and for all. The old ones knew better, and Lóni was to learn that too, when the news came about the death of the Dragon and Thorin Oakenshield facing grave danger at his very door.

Lóni glanced sideways at Ori. Curious, isn't it, he thought. It was Thrór and later his grandson Thorin who were the ones playing the main part in sparkling the flame of the greatest battles of our lifetime. And now, it was Balin again who has fallen; and war is upon us. And here, he thought, examining Ori's face and his eyes, now deep and dark, but as if with a glow of green light shining inside them; here stands somebody who is close to that lineage too, and also somebody who had been there. Like with many others he knew well, Lóni could remember vividly seeing Ori in the battle. And now, he will probably have the chance to see him again...

The young lass, Kórin, interrupted the discussion. Lóni was surprised to hear her talk. He knew her, but now he was unsure whether it was wise to bring her to the council after all. The air between Trór and Kénan seemed filled with tension already as it was, and there certainly was no need to bring more trouble to the council. When Trór stepped forth towards Kénan, Lóni was about to open his mouth, but Ori interfered, before the leader could do anything.

Lóni sighed quietly. There were Orcs approaching, and the matters needed to be settled. The topic, however, seemed to turn back to the important part. Lóni listened to Grór's words, and was reminded of Óin. Indeed, the all-time scout was missing. Lóni wondered, what was he doing?
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:21 PM   #89
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Ori

Ori had listened his time, resisting the urge to interfere in the silly arguments and only once actually blurting out what he was thinking about, that they didn't have time for idle quarreling. Trór annoyed him a little, he was succumbing to the petty strifes instead of concentrating on pressing matters. But Ori would not rebuke his lord twice.

This girl, Kórin, was annoying Ori incredibly. How dare she talk like that? She seemed to be full of herself, crticising others while having nothing better to say either. Such typical behaviour of the womenfolk. But Ori had whatsoever no desire to speak to her, he knew her name and they were taking part in the same council - Ori wondered, though, who on or under earth had invited her - and that was all he wanted to have to do with her, ever.

So he turned to the third one whose behaviour annoyed him, an old dwarf he knew just well enough to call him a friend and said in a low voice:

"Kénan, old friend, questioning Trór's claim to the authority was the worst piece of stupidity I've ever heard from you. What were you thinking of? Balin's death is a hard strike, but don't let it cloud your judgement. It was not Trór who let Balin go and thus caused his death, it was Balin himself who insisted to go alone and you know he was not a man who would listen to what his second-in-command tells him to do instead of what his heart tells him to do."

Ori paused, taking a breath. He blinked the tears from his eyes. "Excuse me, it's just..." He swallowed, took another deep breath, then gave Kénan a sharp look. "I want to ask you, who would you have leading us if not Trór? Think of it, Kénan, there is no one else. We have to put our faith in him."

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Old 01-11-2009, 05:33 PM   #90
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Óin

The sun had already disappeared from Óin's sight. Darkness was creeping from the caves underneath the mountains, veiling the dale in soft shadows. The old Dwarf was lying, silently, on the edge of a rocky bed, wrapped in his brown cloak, hiding his long white hair under the large hood. His shiny blue eyes observed closely the scenery below him, as he lay in the cover of the few crooked fir-trees. The waterfall by his side was splashing and the bubbling water ran over the stones, covering all sounds and sometimes giving Óin a sparkling splash of icy cold water.

Long time the valley was empty and motionless, save for the waters of Silverlode running their paths through the scattered stones of the valley. Óin lay low, resting, but attentive. He wanted to learn as much as he could about the approaching enemy; that youngster shall certainly deliver the news to Balin. And Balin will know what to do. Meanwhile, it was upon Óin to stay here, and think on how to spot as much of the enemy as possible, and be able to get away at the same time. He was lying low, close to the ground, and gripping the bow in his hand.

Now, at last. On the edge of the long and wide valley filled with stones, a walking shadow appeared, and then other, and then another. All three of them were walking fast, treading the water-washed plain.

"And here you have them," the old scout whispered to himself silently. "Here you have them, Óin, spoiling the clearest waters of Kibil-nâla with their filthy feet. I swear, if it was just those three, I would have wasted no arrow to repay them for their impudence. Alas, there are not just three of them, I know. Ha, look, there they come."

Óin narrowed his eyes in hope to discern more of the figures who were now appearing in his sight. There were Orcs armed with spears, yes, and several carrying heavy shields. Despite their burden, these tall Orcs were marching fast, protecting the front of the army, which was slowly nearing the gates of Moria. After them, other Orcs were appearing, carrying curved scimitars, and others with short bows, and still there were more coming.

Óin tried to count. The Orcs formed a diverse mass; small mountain-goblins as well as the bigger ones from far North; and he was able to discern some leaders among them, carrying whips, and driving the rest to higher speed. The large Orcs did not need such an incitement, but some of the smaller goblins seemed not so keen on marching in the pace enforced by their leaders. Still, the speed of the army was high, Óin was certain that it will not take long for the enemy to reach Moria. He only hoped that Balin had already started with the preparations for defending the gates.

"Old Balin is no fool," he muttered to himself. "He will not let a mouse sneak into the halls of Khazâd-dűm as long as he is the Lord of Moria. Let us only hope the youngster ran as far as he could to deliver him the news." Óin clutched his bow more strongly, as he noticed a new group of goblins appearing in the gorge, all in heavy armor, but nevertheless keeping up with the speed of the rest; some of them held large maces.

"You will do better to move soon, Óin," the old Dwarf continued in his monologue. "But not yet, not yet. Hey! What is that there? More Uruks?" Once again, he narrowed his eyes, but in the falling dusk he could discern still less and less on the long distance.

"Looks like them," he muttered. "So not just these mountain worms, but whole bands of them big Orcs... ten, twenty... fifty in this group? And now there are others descending the slopes from the northern side of the valley... so not all of them are taking the path right by the river... right, right, Óin, what a fool are you; you may call yourself lucky that seemingly none of them yet got past you by the small paths, otherwise you will be surrounded... of course, of course... you should have known they would know the ways... they can climb the slopes of Bundushathűr where they are not steep enough yet... and there are more coming now, spreading around the sidepaths!"

Alarmed, the old Dwarf rose, though not yet to his full height; he was trying to keep hidden behind the nearest fir's trunk.

"Óin, my lad," he hissed, as his trembling hands clasped the short bow. "You will do better to move, now, or else..."

Slowly, not to raise any attention, he moved backwards, taking care of not to slip on the wet green stones. "Careful, careful, Óin," he whispered almost voicelessly, even though nobody could hear him through the splashing of the waterfall. "If you slip up now, you will cause a lot of trouble to yourself, and nobody is going to pick you up, no no, not this time... or certainly nobody you would like..."

Óin moved close to one side of the dale, his back to the cold green stone. Realising he is covered perfectly by the group of fir-trees, he turned around and paced at high speed further to the west, until he reached a place where the wall beside him was not so steep and unreachable. There he stopped for a moment, looked back and to the front and then up to the slope by his right side.

"Maybe it is unwise," he said. "but I want to see them properly at least one more time." And he began to climb up.
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:02 PM   #91
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None of them had come back.

Adela could hear a few footsteps and the occasional sob coming from the hall, but none of the cooks had come back into the kitchen. She'd lost her feet at some point, and so sat in the quiet, only the kitchen smells and the flagstone floor for company, just as she'd wanted to before the feast. After a time, questions began to pick at her mind. Maybe she should've gone back, maybe she should start cleaning, maybe everyone else had left for a reason. What was being done, after all? Why, maybe there was another attack! Maybe they were surrounding the colony, and all the dwarves with sense had already made their escape. Maybe the lords had fought among their own and there were none now left to lead. Adela screwed her eyes shut and rocked back, hitting her head on a table leg. She got up.

There were too many maybes and whitherfores and might have beens just at the moment. Suddenly, the sadness had drained away and left only a pain in her head and frustraition, which in the absence of any others Adela directed at herself as began to do the only sensible thing left to do - her work. So Balin had been slain! A dwarf and a warrior, there were worse ways to die! Orcs had attacked them! Well, strange thing, that, for orcs throughout time have been a peaceful lot, to dwarves in especial! An attack was hardly to be wondered at, even the Iron Hills, so why should the colony have fared any differently?

When the jug's broken, there's no repairing it with the milk on the floor, Adela reasoned, putting the last of the oven fires out. Most of the pies she'd left in had burnt, for she'd run into the hall at the sound of the party's return, and came not to herself in time to rescue them. One, though, the last red-current, baked just fine, and this one she put aside for when the cleaning was done. The heavy smell, of food both cooked and overcooked, was almost gone now, the kitchens once again airy, cool, and still.

Adela felt a chill jerk her spine as she plunged her hands in a barrel of soapy water. The colony would have a leader again, not as experienced as Lord Balin had been, but had not the great Oakenshield perished just as he came into his rule? And now Dain was undoubted King under the Mountain. There were several pretentious, well-meaning longbeards capable of carrying the weight at the test. They'd secure the colony and hunker down for the fight, however long. Maybe the raiding party was the token handful of the black foe still left in these halls, withered and weak, left with nothing but to search for wandering ghosts in the great grieving emptiness of Khazad Dum. Maybe.

Bending over the barrel, Adela glanced down and saw a taut face and raw eyes shivering as another chill ripped through her shoulders and skated around her neck.The dwarf she knew, the one of sense and quiet and a bit of stolen laughter, not to mention pie, looked very different in grief. Very different indeed. She closed her eyes and in breathed deep the smell of soap and wood smoke. This would pass. The thing to do was get home before anyone --

"Excuse me, but is Vyra here?"

Adela whipped around, immediately embarrassed for being so startled, and for snatching a spoon when she turned. She tossed it into the barrel, all the more aggravated, for it'd been clean, and ducked a curtsy before she had time to study the dwarf who'd spoken. Stout, an open face, grey-eyed...it was the woman mason, wasn't it?

"Na, ma'am, it's only me here now. I haven't seen Vyra since, well, since the festivities began," Adela smiled but couldn't hold onto it for long. "Is there aught I can do for you?"

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Old 01-12-2009, 11:52 AM   #92
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Together, Nisa and Onli walked towards the door on the western side of the hall. Down the centre stalked a double line of towering pillars. They were carved like boles of mighty trees whose boughs upheld the roof with a branching tracery of stone. Their stems were smooth and of sparkling black, but the red glow of torches were darkly mirrored on their sides. Nisa turned left and slowly progressed across the smooth floor of the hall. The distance was greater than it had looked.

Onli had remained silent the entire time, walking beside her with a focused gaze ahead. Nisa was glad that he had decided to walk beside her instead of behind, this would have unnerved her greatly. One or two times she had remarked about the splendor of the hall, but Onli only answered with a grunt or a silent nod and she had stopped trying. Nisa could tell that he was displeased with her, but it was not an uncommon feeling. Many a time she felt the same way when Trór was near, it was as if she could almost hear their disappointment in her for lack of character, girlish behavior, and the almost constant blabber that she regularly spewed in hopes of starting a conversation. Again she looked sideways at Onli, not being disappointed when he did not look back. From his red beard to his green cloak, in the glowing light of the hall, she couldn't help but think how handsome he looked. She thought about commenting him on this but decided better on it: his manners, when it came to talking, needed a lot to be said for, unfortunately she couldn't think of a Dwarf who would say anything positive about it.

The bridge could now be seen from where they were walking. As they came to the foot of it Onli was about to cross when a figure on the other side caught Nisa's eye. She grabbed Onli's cloak near the shoulders pulled him behind one of the pillars as fast as she could. His glare made her feel uncomfortably, it was instinct that made her react so rash, she put a finger to her lips motioning silence. The figure she had seen was a guard, he would probably go away in a few minutes to look after his other posts, but she didn't feel too comfortable explaining to one of the these tough as steel brutes why she and Onli must get pass. Finally the guard moved on and Onli made his way to the bridge again, but just as they were both on it a scratching, or scurrying sound could be heard from behind. Onli stopped and a smile crept on his face, but Nisa felt frightened at the spooky noise, especially since she was behind him, and gave Onli a gentle nudge. "Go!"

Onli moved somewhat reluctantly but he soon was running as fast as Nisa. Up the broad stair they ran and through a long echoing passage until they came to some gates. Onli grabbed a large handle on one side and gave it a pull, its groan was loud but short (Onli only opened enough for them to squeeze through). Nisa closed her eyes as she went in first, expecting to meet a row of cruel drawn swords and axes in the hands of the eight royal guards that held the First-Hall, but there were none. They passed into the hall, the bright daylight from its high windows in the east that Nisa was accustomed to seemed to let in a darkness and a silence that made their footfalls seem deafening. Suddenly before them the were Great Gates, shut and immovable save by a group of Dwarves, or one with great strength.

Slowly Nisa and Onli crept up to it. The guards were nowhere to be seen and voices could be made out on the other side. She started to search the doors for a crack that they could see through but not one could be found. Nisa gave Onli a hesitant look, he smiled, a fake smile in her opinion, and reached inside his belt and retrieved a bar of steel which he was about to knock the doors with (seeing as knocking on the stone with his hand would only give them an aching fist). However, just as he was about to do this, the scurrying noise that they had heard on the bridge came back. Nisa flung herself to Onli's side and clenched his arm. What was that noise?
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:38 PM   #93
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Kénan had been gone for sometime. The orcs had come up quickly and unexpectedly upon Balin and slain him. What was to stop them from doing so in a dwarf house? Kéni rose from his seat and went to Iari's room. He opened the door a crack to see that his sister was asleep and safe. Satisfied he returned to his seat.

He hated sitting around waiting for news. Especially when he knew his grandfather probably wouldn't share much with him. Kéni felt like pulling his hair out from this stress. If the dwarf colony was in serious danger he needed to know. He needed to protect little Iari from harm.

"If Grandfather won't tell me what's happening, I may as well learn it on my own." Kéni spoke aloud. Even as the words left his mouth and drifted to his ears he knew he was being irrational. He had no proof Kénan wouldn't share the information fro, his council. Yet, Kéni didn't want to wait around to find out what Kénan planned to do.

He checked once more on Iari before leaving. He had every intention of spying on the council his grandfather was part of. As an able bodied dwarf he deserved to know the truth.

~*~*~

Somewhere in dreams Iari heard a door close. She twitched a little, fighting off her sleepy haze. The house was quiet. She couldn't hear the angered mutterings of Kéni or Kénan. Afraid that they had been attacked in the night, Iari got out of bed and wrapped herself in her blanket. She had to make sure her relations weren't hurt in the next room.

Empty. Kéni was gone and he had left his half finished tea out. "Kéni?" No answer. There was no sign of a struggle, so her brother had left by his own will, but where under earth could he have gone?

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Old 01-13-2009, 05:52 AM   #94
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Onli

As he and Nîsa were walking towards the gates, Onli fell back into his thoughts and could not pay enough attention to the young Dwarven lass. He was thinking how to best initiate a dialogue with Trór as soon as they reach their destination. Trór was a warrior, like Dáin, but Dáin was still far more kingly figure. Trór was a completely different sort of person to talk to. Unlike Dáin, and unlike Balin, who was even further from being a soldier. But Onli hardly ever had to talk to the likes of Trór. He tried to remember any situation where he had to interact with any of these numerous generals, officers, military advisors, but he could not recall anything that might be of help to him right now. It was not the soldiers with whom Onli had his business. For him, all these fighters were good just for one thing: to clear the way for the merchants so that the trade may run smoothly and undisturbed. To clear the way for the explorers, so that they may find new deposits of iron, gold or silver and found new colonies. But it was completely unnecessary to deal with them - mainly because they also usually knew nothing of any importance. This had to change, though.

At one point, Onli's thoughts were interrupted by a familiar sound from behind. Vriti! Onli smiled, pleased to hear that his pet had returned. Surely she had had enough of sneaking through the empty halls and came back again in search for Onli. But now, unfortunately, he had no time for her. There were pressing matters at hand. Nevertheless, it pleased him to know that she is around. Soon, he thought. Wait for me there. As if the ferret could hear him, the sound of her scuttling stopped. Getting away from his thoughts for a short while, Onli registered Nîsa standing still in the middle of the bridge, as if listening. He smiled once again. "Go!" he said, but before he himself started to walk, he tried to listen once again, too, if he could not hear Vriti scurrying behind them. But there was only silence.

They went on until they reached the gates. There, all of a sudden, the girl grasped his arm. Onli was about to shake her off, but at the same moment an orange flash flew out of the darkness and Vriti started to run in circles close around her master's legs. Onli almost started to laugh, but prevented himself from doing that, bearing in mind that there may be the guards and the new Lord of Moria nearby. He certainly would not like to bring himself in like that. Seeing however that Nîsa was still a bit frightened - he could almost feel her heart beating, as she still clutched his arm - he turned to her and smiled gently. For the first time, Nîsa could actually say that this was a genuine friendly smile.

"Do not be afraid," he said, smiling wide. "This is just my friend Vriti. Seems like she has been following us. Say hi, Vriti!"

The ferret was now sitting still by Onli's feet, looking up at the two Dwarves. She was turning her head left and right, inspecting them. Onli reached down and picked her up.

"Come on, you can palm her," he said, turning to Nîsa. "She is nice, are you, Vriti?" The ferret looked up at him, and turning her head to Nîsa, she sniffed. Onli smiled.

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Old 01-14-2009, 03:28 PM   #95
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"Na, ma'am, it's only me here now. I haven't seen Vyra since, well, since the festivities began. Is there aught I can do for you?"

"No," Vigdis replied bluntly and turned to go.

At that exact moment, she heard a lone high note in the air. It was followed by another, and yet another and many others. Together they wove a tapestry of sorrow, loss and remembrance, a force so strong Vigdis felt her legs go weak with it.

"Wait," she said, turning. Her voice came out as a whisper. "You can help me, if you will. Vyra - she's my friend - she keeps a bottle of rum in one of the knife lockers. If you could fetch it?" The girl nodded and disappeared.

Vigdis found a chair to sit on and wiped the corners of her eyes. Her sleeve was now moist. The music was still there, distant but still powerful enough that Vigdis had to keep her guard to stay calm. There was a soft thud of a cupboard being closed. Vigdis turned to the girl. She did not fake a smile, but her voice was uncharacteristically kind. "Oh, and hey, you may take some of the rum too. I'm sure Vyra wouldn't mind, on a day like this."

She paused and forced her tone to sound lighter. "And I have to add, you have a nice troubadour here to entertain you."
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Old 01-15-2009, 09:17 AM   #96
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“Who else would I have,” Kénan repeated to himself. “Someone with a less fiery notion of honor, or with more realistic view of what needs to be done.” He looked at Ori. “Yes, perhaps it was stroke of stupidity that caused me to stand up and say what I did, but maybe it will make people think. We can not have the element of surprise - that is too late.”

He lowered his voice even farther to a rasping whisper as the two dwarves’ heads drew closer together. “We must know where our enemies stand and what their number is, and we have to take true calculations of the risks involved. Trór is young and hot headed, aye, like me,” he admitted, “but I at least have more experience under my belt.”

Ori sat up abruptly and looked at him with a distrustful glimmer in his eye. “No,” Kénan said, shaking his head. “I do not suggest that I take command. That would be more folly than having Trór take it. But I suggest that Trór is careful.”

Kénan would then have gone on with what he thought should be done, but Trór raised his voice to address the whole council again, apparently to give his thoughts on the plan of battle.
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Old 01-15-2009, 08:32 PM   #97
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Trór

His eyes darted across the map, for the most part the ground was rocky and treacherous but not easily defended if outnumbered. He sighed in frustration and rubbed his beard above his lip. Where was there an opportune spot? The Goblins held their own many years ago in the great battle of Azanulbizar, but they had something he did not: a regular army. Every Dwarf in Khazad-dum could wield a weapon, and did so five years ago in the storming of the Dwarrowdelf, but most of them had gone back to a trade or went to seek riches in the mines and the army that he and Balin had commanded had shrunken to less than one hundred and fifty Dwarves. The soldiers that he had, were eager for military life and had been shaped into a force that would be formidable fighting force, but still nowhere near the skill of the elite group of Dwarves that he commanded at the Batte of the Five Armies.

The elite warriors in Khazad-dum consisted of a force less than twenty, most of them being a part of his old regiment. A few of the council members were among the few who could be considered up to his standard, one of these was Frar: a grand middle-aged warrior with a knack for getting the impossible done. Trór considered him a great friend, one of the few Dwarves who he could relate to, and in return he earned the loyalty of Frar. Even now Frar, who Trór affectionately referred to as "my old war hound", was quietly standing by. Trór could expect little to be said by his friend while the council lasted, Frar had no gift for tactics or strategy or diplomacy but when the blast of war was sounded he wanted this Dwarf by his side.

Hand still pressed to his upper lip, Trór's eyes lifted from the map to the Dwarves gathered. Ori was speaking to Kénan, both seeming very cross at one another. Although he could only hear the whistle of their breath and the deep tone of a syllable or two, he guessed that they were talking of him. He was about to rebuke them both for their quarreling, especially since when a commander did not give you leave to speak you remained silent, however, Trór gave one glance at the map and stopped still. There it was! The ground was perfect for holding against great odds, but it was far away and speed was everything now!

"Gaurd!" Trór blurted abruptly at one of the eight soldiers standing around the council. "Quick! summon the regular soldiers, not a moment is to be lost!" Have the Dwarves in battle attire and ready to march. Bring out the thickest hauberks and the sharpest swords. Muster them in them in the First Hall when all is ready. Do not stop for question or errand, save the one that you are on. Go!" The doors of Khazad-dum were swung ajar and the startled, but not stunned, the guard took off with two others through the great doors at the top of their speed.

Trór had spoken firmly and fast, though his posture assumed that he was at perfect ease. He turned back to the map and placed his two forfingers on it as if measuring a distance. Trór was now muttering words outloud, he tilted this and that way to make sure that his eyes had not deceaved him in his descision. Silently nodding his head in agreement with his conscience, Trór rapped his fingers on the table, folded his hands behind his back, and started to pace up and down.

“Gror, go to the map and tell me which way the Orcs are coming by. I realize that you are not familiar with the ground around here but I need to have an exact description of the Orc Army's march. Do you think you can do that?”

Nîsa

The scurrying noise had disturbed Nîsa and left her shaking even after the appearence of the stoat creature. Thank heavens it wasn’t a rat! Nîsa let go of Onli’s arm and stepped back. Somehow the Dwarf seemed changed, his expressions no longer seemed a facade of cheerfulness but genuine.

Onli gently picked the pet, which he named Vriti, up into his arms. What a curious creature. Why on earth does Onli suffer to keep that thing, unless... of course! He doesn’t have to argue with it, it doesn’t have to respond to his discussions; what a perfect companion for such a lonely wretch.

"Come on, you can palm her. She is nice, are you, Vriti?"

Nîsa smiled at this offer, and slowly extended her hand to do so. She flinched at the touch of its wiskers but hestitantly brought her palm across its neck and down the back. What a sad and lonely thing for a man to live with. Nîsa began to understand this grumpy Dwarf, who had to put up a wall of courtesies to keep anyone from getting too close to him: he was lonely, that was all there was too it (or so she thought). I wonder if he has any true friends in the colony?

Just then, there was a rushing of feet outside the door and a grinding of stone against stone as the doors were pulled open. Onli and her rushed to the side, hidden from the view of the oncoming guards. When they passed, however, the doors where left open. Vriti nuzzled Onli’s neck in his protective embrace as the three companions slowly peered around the stone doors to see what was happening.

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Old 01-20-2009, 11:18 AM   #98
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Kórin scowled heavily at Trór and did not listen to the rest of his words. The way he had snapped at her, as if she was the one wasting time! He was quick to anger and apparently slow to getting anything done. That did not sound like a leader to Kórin.

Trór’s sudden barking of orders broke Kórin out of her brooding. Just the regulars, eh? The redhead wondered how many dwarves made up their regular army. Still they did not know the size of the force they would be facing…

After giving his orders, Trór turned back to Gror and asked him for more information, apparently about where the orcs were coming from. Kórin wondered why he had bothered to summon anyone other than the military leaders, as this was more a briefing than a council.

At least the army was being prepared, and Kórin felt there was more work to be done in those preparations than here at this silly meeting. Much more. The dwarf rose to her feet, slipped out from the table and turned to leave while the doors were still open.

~*~

Kór had dozed off outside the kitchens, and at some point had slipped off his stool. He clutched his harp to his chest like a favorite toy or blanket. He was dragged back into consciousness when he heard footsteps approaching. Kór hurried back onto his stool and did his best to look less haggard than he felt. He nodded absently to the dwarf who strode by, entering the kitchens, though he was not even sure if they had noticed him off to the side.

Kór’s heart, along with his entire body, felt heavier than ever. He again began playing on his harp the melody to the song about the Lonely Mountain. Slowly and sadly, though it perhaps should have been a song to bring fire to dwarves’ hearts to protect what was their own. It was already a lament, maybe, that they would again lose their home to an evil force.

Kór absently listened to the voices in the kitchen, thinking it surprisingly quiet. Remembering that he was playing for an audience – at least he considered them an audience – he listened for any responses or acknowledgement of his music.

“…you have a nice troubadour here to entertain you."

Kór paused in his playing to peek around the door of the kitchens. He was surprised to see only two dwarf-women. Then, a little awkwardly, he rose and stood in the doorway, bowing a bit clumsily.

“A troubadour? Thank you, my lady. I have never received a better compliment.” Kór smiled slightly, nervousness tainting the pleasure he felt at being granted such a title.
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Old 01-22-2009, 02:55 PM   #99
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Nali

Loni was at his side as they drew closer to the table, and together they studied the map while waiting for Gror's response. Nali's mind was racing with the facts of the past. Texts from the chronicles of Erebor, many of which he helped write, were coming back to him now. Nali was reminded of how the Goblins held the high ground of Azanulbizar in the Great War near the very spot that they were standing on. The Goblins, however, were superior in numbers in that battle, and the place that they had held could easily be defended by an army that allowed itself to outstretch the lines of the enemy. Now Trór, as Nali guessed, had found a spot that could be defended by their small army. Oh the excitement of it all! No matter the peril, Nali was excited about the forthcoming battle. The historic significance of it all, it would be the final battle to keep the Orcs from ever recapturing Khazad-dum, he was sure of it.

Kórin had so silently crept away from the others that Nali barely noticed her leave. The old Dwarf caught a glimpse of her stealing away to the gates but made no immediate attempt to stop her until she could not see him follow.

“Fill me in on the council,” Nali whispered over to Loni. “It appears that my reluctant companion has left us. I’ll be back soon.”

Slowly, cautiously, Nali inched his way away from the table to where he would not be noticed, and stealthily sprinted after Kórin. Nali stopped trying to be silent after he had entered through the gates, it would be better if she knew he was following. The dull thump of his boots echoed off the walls of the First Hall and alerted Kórin.

“What is this?” Nali asked Kórin as she turned to faced him. There were still many steps between him and her, Nali stopped twenty paces away. He crossed his arms and firmly planted his feet evenly apart from each other, Nali had already shown humility in chasing after this rash girl. Nali, a noble of kingdom of Khazad-dum, was not going to be subjected any further to the whim of this women. Yet he did not scowl or speak haughtily to her, it was not in his power to force Kórin to stay and if she was going to stay, as he hoped, it would be of her own will. She would have to come to him.

“Thou hast not even heard the strategy of which I intended you to hear,” Nali continued. “If thou does not want to listen to the important matters that the council has finally come to, why did thou consent to come in the first place?”

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Old 01-23-2009, 11:31 PM   #100
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Kórin was not at all surprised that she had been followed, and she knew whose footsteps she heard behind her without turning to look. She did turn, though. She actually was interested in hearing what Nali had to say. She did not find his words persuasive, though, as he remained vague and questioned her actions.

“I consented to come because I believed I was truly invited, but it is clear to me that I am not really welcome among you. And you say it yourself – ‘the important matters that the council has finally come to’… I believe there are more productive things to be done now that the regulars have finally been called out. My help will surely be more appreciated in aiding their preparation.”

What Kórin did not mention was that she had her own preparations to attend to.

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Old 01-27-2009, 10:47 PM   #101
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I have never received a better compliment.

Tongue pressed 'gainst her teeth, Adela's first instinct was to pad back to the kitchens proper, leaving the master and mistress to talk as they would, but something held her to the spot. "Well, I don't believe that for an instant. Minstrelry like yours ought to've been complimented long before now," the words came before she knew she was speaking. Adela hadn't even heard the music clearly, but now it was although cotton had bottled her ears and suddenly they were unstopped. Soft wind brushed the stone and a table spill echoed as it dripped onto the floor. Of itself, a smile came to her face, and, although she ducked her eyes down when the bard and the mason regarded her, she couldn't shake her amusement at the good bard's face as he'd heard his compliment.

"Well," she said, with a quick turn, and bobbed to the cutlery that had been set aside for the feast's seconds, sitting unused. Vyra was a small dwarf, and the lock to her cupboard of 'reserves' was similarly frail and easy to get past. She cradled the squat flagon of rum and one mug on her left arm, two other mugs on her right, and took the last of the pies in her hands. Walking back to the corridor that led to the great hall, Adela didn't quite feel the master of herself. It wasn't her place to sit with finer folk like Vigdis or a bard. Why, then, did she take a mug for herself? Why was she bringing her pie, if not to be at the same table as they? She walked erect, the tap of her step softly thumping on the flagstones. "Absurd," Adela muttered to herself, although whether it was because she hadn't heard the music, or that she was forgoing a warm bed to sit up with strangers, or that she didn't care they were superiors, she couldn't say. Balin was dead, and that was most absurd of all.

Catching sight of where the two dwarves were sitting, Adela piled all the glassware onto the table and uncorked the rum. She hovered for a moment, feeling as though in her stomach there was a knot coming undone, and then tucked herself in a chair while Vigdis began to pour.

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Old 01-29-2009, 06:12 PM   #102
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Korin spoke passionately and forcefully, without fear of a reprimand. She did not strike Nali as the fearful type: a rebel rouser, but a fearless one. By the tone of her voice she was not one to be pacified into coming with him, persuasion was needed. Nali, however, was not the persuading type; he would have much rather try to win her over with flowery words and ancient similarities to the great women of the Longbeards. The purpose of the council would not be overturned if Korin would leave, but Nali hated to see his efforts wasted.

“Thou art impetuous, Korin,” Nali stated. “Nothing moves according to plan, but as long as the result is right in the end the events that lead up to the conclusion matter very little.” Nali had not stated this to be nasty, or for it to be a form of rebuke. Nevertheless, it occurred to him that she could take it as another restraint attempt, on his part.

“This is how I see things. My advice is not law, as Tror’s is now.

“Thou sayist that thou art not welcomed at the council, this is not true. It is true, however, that thy’s voice has been silenced, but I pray for you to excuse Tror for that. Insults are not easily brushed off by warriors, and Balin’s death must still weigh heavily on him. It is also worth noting that he does not take part in these councils that often. Just like thineself, such things are too slow for him; but compared to other councils I have attended, this one has moved quite rapidly. Such impatience is good in a crisis, thy’s impatience is a good sign.

“My reason for my requesting thou’s presence to the council had changed once I caught the full usefulness of thy’s character. My original intent was for thou to be an emissary to the womenfolk: to calm their fears, but it soon became evident to me that thou would stir up more unrest than sooth it. Thou has a critical wit, and I wanted to thou to use it. Thou spoke rashly, the time was not yet ripe, but the time has come!

“Thou art not a noble. So, therefore, you are not tainted by the politics that trouble our circle. Thou would rather speak out against flaw and foolishness rather than keep silent.”

The old dwarf paused for a minute, and then started to laugh. “See, even now, how I have wasted time with my flowery speech! Nevertheless, my point was made. Thou’s criticism will be most welcomed now that the battle plans are to be revealed; thou were not made to tend soldiers, Korin. Will thou go and change the bandages of soldiers, or come back and change the telling of history?”

Nisa

They were nearly caught by a women that had left the council. Nisa thought she had seen her before, but was certain that the lady did not belong in the council. A man followed her out shortly after, and Nisa recognized him as Nali.

The two figures were soon talking. Nisa looked at Onli for direction.

"I've brought you this far," she stated in a shaky voice. "What is your move now? Shall I introduce you to the council?"
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:35 AM   #103
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Vigdis

The two other dwarves watched her pouring the rum. Vigdis noted her hand was shaking and she had to put the bottle down.

"May I?" Kór asked, took the bottle and poured to the last glass that was half-empty. He did not look at Vigdis long enough to see her eyes flare in anger. She was not to be treated like a weakling! Did he think she was not even able to pour the rum? So weak because she was a woman and thereby supposed to be totally distraught by the grief? Or so weak because she was so old? She did note these two were young, probably a century younger than her, a dwarf in her best years. These two were little more than children. She took a deep breath. No need to get angry at a child.

Besides, the young troubadour had been right, Vigdis reflected bitterly. She was weak, she was being torn apart by her grief, whenever she was not putting all her willpower to blocking it. She hated her weakness, she was supposed to be tough, and not fall apart like this. But at least she knew she was not weak because she was a woman or because she was old, she was weak because it was her personal fault to be weak, like a child. A child like these two. Maybe she was in equal company.

She gripped her glass and lifted it. The others mimicked her. "To Balin, Lord of Moria," she said. "To Balin," the others repeated and drank. Vigdis brought her glass to her lips and emptied it in one swallow.
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:40 AM   #104
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Onli

Onli stood silent for a short while. Suddenly, he became attentive again. The Council? He tried to listen to what the two figures were talking about. He beckoned at Nîsa to keep silent. Again, he was displeased by her talking. Can't the girl ever stop chatting when something important is going on?

And what did that mean? What were those two talking about? Important matters? Decisions? Council making some decisions? Which decisions? Onli became nervous. Does that mean they are already arranging the means of governing the colony? Is he late?

"...compared to other councils I have attended, this one has moved quite rapidly..."

Rapidly! The Council is deciding on new arrangement of governing the colony, then, indeed! "In a crisis..." Yes, indeed! Onli now understood it all. This crisis, leaderless colony - Trór obviously was more active than Onli expected from him. Of course, one has to give him that - he is a soldier, after all, he is bound to act fast... in a battle, he needs to do that. But how silly! To call a council like that without discussing things properly first! Without asking the nobles and those experienced and knowledgeable in governing and leading people. And now he brought just his iron-headed warmongering friends there with him, and he is making them all administrators and whatnot! Is that some sort of a coup?

Onli could not just stand and listen anymore. No, he is not going to let his chance slip away. This is the city of Dwarrowdelf, not a military fortress lost in the middle of nowhere! A group of brainless soldiers might easily reduce to dust what Balin worked so hard to build. Not this time! Onli shrugged, Vriti climbed down from his shoulders and landed on the ground. He turned towards the two figures and walked towards them, completely forgetting about Nîsa for that moment. He is going to go and tell them - tell them that he is the one who can help them manage things, and that they cannot do it alone - they are warriors, not governers. What are they going to do in the era of peace, like this?

He was getting close, the two must have noticed him in any second, but now, Onli suddenly heard the Dwarf further away saying something that made him stop.

"...now that the battle plans are to be revealed..."

What? Onli's heart stopped. What battle plans? What battle? What plans? What kind of a new madness is this?

But at that moment, the Dwarf ended his speech, and Onli came out as close that the two must have been both blind not to see him. He stopped, his heart beating heavily.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:36 AM   #105
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Kórin

Flowery speech indeed! But not speech that Kórin couldn’t understand. At first she felt the same angry reaction as before, when Nali called her ‘impetuous’. Of course, she rather prided herself in her stubbornness and hotheadedness, but she did not enjoy anyone pointing it out. Perhaps least of all this old Dwarf.

Nali’s speech did not quench Kórin’s anger, but rather redirected it. She felt herself giving in, and she couldn’t help but be angry about it. She was caught, because she didn’t really want to miss the rest of the council. She wanted to be present when real plans were finally made, and she wanted to have a say in them. The latter, regardless of what Nali said, she was sure was very unlikely, but his words had done the trick. They had made her think that her voice perhaps would matter, even though she refused to believe that.

As Nali finished speaking, Kórin noticed the presence of another Dwarf with annoyance. How much more openly could they eavesdrop on a conversation? Her annoyance grew as she realized she did feel a bit excited to be included in the quiet matters of the leaders. Not that they would be quiet for long.

“Changing bandages was not exactly what I had in mind,” Kórin muttered, ignoring the rude Dwarf who was no doubt still trying to listen in. Then, a little louder, but attempting to be too quiet for the eavesdropper to hear, she said begrudgingly, her voice still taught, “Thank you for this opportunity.”

Without looking at Nali or acknowledging the other Dwarf, she headed back down the hall, intending to reenter the council as boldly as she liked.

~

Kór

Kór smiled completely genuinely at the younger of the two Dwarf women – he practically beamed. He felt his face redden, and the smile slipped away from him only because of his embarrassment at being in such a spotlight. He had been complimented for his music before, but he would never get used to it. He did not seek the spotlight enough. He wanted people to enjoy his music – whether or not they noticed him behind his harp was of no real consequence. It did feel so nice, though.

The Dwarf held his harp awkwardly, hesitating between taking his leave and staying to chat. Or perhaps he should play more for them? But now it seemed too self-serving… The young woman went off into the kitchens and returned with a bottle and a scrumptious looking pie. Kór was pleased but felt a little guilty when he saw that she brought three mugs with her.

Seeing the elder woman’s shaky grip on the bottle, Kór offered to pour the rum, putting his harp down. She was not ‘elderly’, but she was clearly much older than Kór and especially the other Dwarf woman. He filled his glass last and not as full as the others. When the older Dwarf woman uttered a toast to Lord Balin, Kór gravely but strongly repeated “To Balin,” before taking simply a sip of his rum. He watched as the older woman emptied her glass, and felt a little embarrassed again. He had never been much of a drinker, not like his sister. Kórin liked to make fun of how daintily he sipped any drink.

Kór put down his glass, wondering what was going on in that council. He remained silent, not sure what there was to say.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:04 PM   #106
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Nali

Good, very good. Her temper and will were both waning. Nali had half expected her to accept his offer, but he did not expect her gratitude as well. His eyebrows lifted in surprise at this, and before Nali could even reply Kórin boldly walked past him and back out into the night air by the rest of the council. Nali watched her proudly walk by, he smiled to himself. Perhaps she wasn't half as bad as she pretended to be.

A blast of that chilly night air blew in from the open doors and Nali was obliged to adjust his green cloak. This, however, was interrupted by the sound of a Dwarf deliberately clearing his throat. Nali's gaze darted to where the sound came from and put his hand inside his cloak, feeling for his mace. The stranger, who was indeed a Dwarf, smiled and raised his empty hands and did not put them down until Nali's hand was withdrawn from his mace. The old Dwarf gritted his teeth and glared at the stranger. Nali was half angry at himself for his blindness (the stranger was only twenty paces to the side) and the younger Dwarf's boldness. Slowly, Nali made his way to the Dwarf.

"Who art thou," Nali asked in a seething voice. The Dwarf seemed stunned and did not reply. Nali asked again, only this time louder. "Who art thou that comes so boldly before me in the midst of a private conversation? Did my words amuse thou? Is the predicament that we are in sooth thy half-baked curiosity? Well speak!"

If only I were fifty years younger I would deck this impetuous rascal to teach him his place!


Nîsa

She tried to hold Onli back by grabbing his garments, but she missed. Nali would not be amused if he saw Onli listening in on his conversation. The old man was nice enough, but he was old and held very traditional views on manners and duties.

Nîsa was about to call after him, but Vriti, who Onli had placed on the ground, scurried past her and was heading for the doors. As quickly as she could, Nîsa caught Vriti by the tail to stop her and picked her up.

"Not that way, precious. If Trór were to see you messing around near him, he would fit you to his cruel spear. Let's get back to your master."

Carefully creeping along the pillars, Nîsa went towards Onli. She could have stopped him, she could have pulled him back, but she didn't; the old dwarf had stirred and she was frightened. It was too late, Onli had cleared his throat and drawn the attention of Nali, whose temper was none the better for it. In a fume of rage she heard Nali let in to Onli about his rash action.

"Is the predicament that we are in sooth thy half-baked curiosity? Well speak!"

Nîsa couldn't stand it. Even if Onli was rash, she was the reason he was there. Nîsa gently put Vriti in her pocket and stepped out into view. Nali looked stunned by the unexpected sight of her.

"Nîsa? What art thou doing here? Trór will skin the both of you alive if he finds out that thou art snooping around so close to the council, if snooping it was." Nali again turned a venomous glance at Onli, and would have seized him by his scruff if Onli hadn't been quick enough to jump back.

"No, no," Nîsa pleaded and reached to stay Nali's hand. "He hasn't harmed me, and you have no right to speak to him so. It is my fault that he's here, I led him to the council because he wished to speak to Trór. Please don't harm him."

Nali was stunned by Nisa's honesty and openness, this was not her usually reserved character. The old man smiled at Nîsa and turned back to Onli.

"Perhaps I was a bit impetuous myself in rebuking thy's actions, young man. Although thy's eavesdropping was uncalled for, I offer my apologies on my fault. My name, as thou probably have guest by now, is Nali. What is your name, and why doest thou wish to speak to Trór: the new lord of Khazad-dum?"

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Old 01-31-2009, 03:25 PM   #107
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Onli was not quite pleased by Nîsa's intervention, his initial thought was that this hen has once again ruined it all, now he will have to talk to this old soldier and explain everything...

He looked at Náli. He remembered him, back then from Erebor, where he had held an important place among the nobles. They never encountered each other, but Onli had heard about him. He got the impression that Náli is a rather charismatic speaker, which may or may not have been good for Onli in this situation. He was happy, for one part, that he can talk to somebody who was not just a mindless iron-hat, however, if he was encountering a real diplomat just now, that might have proven unlucky as well. He could easily outtalk Onli and send him back from where he came. But Onli had to try his best.

"I am very sorry that my presence here had disturbed you, venerable master Náli," he said, bowing his head. "This is all just a misunderstanding. I did not want to, as you say, eavesdrop on anyone, that thought would have never entered my mind, and indeed as young lady Nîsa here says, I was led here by her just to talk to Trór, whom I had hoped to find here. I deem your Council had already decided on important matters, nevertheless, if Trór's leadership of this colony is to continue in the track of our great lord Balin, I suggest he gives a hearing to me. I wish to offer my service to him."

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Old 02-02-2009, 12:30 PM   #108
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Trór

The messenger, Gror, obeyed Trór with some reluctance as if unsure of his success. He stared at the map for several minutes mumbling to himself and tracing his finger along, what Trór guessed was, his route from Erebor. Gror, however, soon made up his mind.

“Here,” Gror said (actually it was phrased more like a question than an answer). He pointed to where the river of Kibil-nâla flowed into Kheled-zaram. “The Orcs seemed very intent on speed and I don’t think that they would waste time going around the waters of Kheled-zaram. Is this good?”

Trór smiled a broad, which looked more like a teethy scowl, and placed himself beside Gror. “You see here,” Trór stated, speaking to Gror, but in fact he was relaying his battle plans and the members of the council knew it. “We are on the western side of the river. See how the high ground is in our favor. Give me a company of able bodied warriors and I could hold that position long enough for defenses to be erected here. There isn’t a better position to hold on the entire map, if what you say is true. Are you certain that they are coming by this route?” Gror nodded his head. “Then this is good. My plan is simple: we cannot defeat the Orcs in an open battle, but we can outlast them in a siege. Defenses will need to be made here on the base of these Eastern Gates. I will need at least sixty dwarves with skilled engineer or mason to stay behind from the battle and do this. I, meanwhile, will take my regulars and hold the Orcs back long enough for this to happen. The rest of you will muster those who, five years ago, helped in the storming of the Halls and come to our aid as quickly as possible.

“Now is the time when criticism is appropriate,” Trór shot a crooked eye at Kénan when he said this. “What adjustments need to be made to this plan?”


Nali

"I am very sorry that my presence here had disturbed you, venerable master Náli. This is all just a misunderstanding. I did not want to, as you say, eavesdrop on anyone, that thought would have never entered my mind.”

Nali was taken back a bit by the man’s smooth words, but was disturbed by the way this Onli fellow was trying to weasel himself as blameless in the situation. Apparently eavesdropping had been on his mind, otherwise he would not have been standing so boldly close to him and Kórin. Nevertheless, Onli’s words faintly reminded Nali of himself in younger days; and Onli’s willingness to serve was a welcomed at the moment. There was, however, just one important question.

“Trór now holds the title of Uzbad Khazaddűmu and can never be approached as easily as before. This council is of importance and is not for any common Dwarf’s ears, I will not suffer to have thou disturb him just at the moment. However, if thou is in ernest to serve him, thou will do well to wait for the council to conclude and then wait for my signal to approach him. But tell me, Onli, what use will you be to Trór and how will you serve him? Though thy’s speech is cleverly structured, it seems that thou, hast no experience in managing great affairs.”
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Old 02-02-2009, 05:07 PM   #109
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Onli

Náli's words, and especially his last sentence enraged Onli, but he gave no sign of being displeased. When he spoke up, his voice sounded just a little more starchy than before.

"But that would be a very harsh judgement, venerable master. I can understand that in your eyes, I am perhaps young," here, Onli managed to force a rather pleasant smile upon his lips, as if gently accepting an old man's misjudging of those younger than him. "But you may know that I have acquired much experience throughout the years. I have been working alongside master Vill in the Blue Mountains, and later I have served king Dáin, even though my labour was perhaps never noticed by those such as you, it was important. And even here, I have been serving Lord Balin until this very day, using all my skill and putting all my effort to help the remaking of Khazad-dűm as it was once when our fathers dwelt here, in times long past."

Onli took a deep breath, just to continue in his speech immediately.

"I understand calling the council was of need, and Lord Trór -" Onli just recalled what Náli had said about the Dwarf's official title now - So it is like I suspected, he thought. He decided to make it fast and become the new Lord of Moria. Picking his few friends to become his closest advisors. And now this old dotard won't even let me get into the council. Is it too late? Have I missed my chance? That cannot be!

" - Lord Trór will surely find my service most useful. However, I would prefer to speak to him myself." Once again, Onli attempted to give Náli as warm smile as he could. "I understand there are pressing matters he needs to handle, but perhaps with my experience in such affairs I may offer him a helping hand - certainly much appreciated in these first days of his newly acquired authority."
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:57 PM   #110
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Nali

This youngster was persistent on the subject of his importance. Nali found it funny, though, that Onli did not mention one example of his past duties. Still this Onli sounded like he had experience as a diplomat of some sort, Nali, however, certainly had not seen Onli within Balin's circle. Nali almost decided against ever letting Onli to speak Trór, but he soon thought better of it. If this Dwarf was as useful as he professed Trór would spot it, and if not, it would serve this Dwarf well to get a tongue thrashing for Trór and dismissed.

"Very well then, Onli. If thou art as useful as thou professes, Trór will no doubt be gratified. I will not allow you to walk so boldly before him in council, as I have said before. However," Nali continued, this time glancing at Nîsa. "Ye may wait outside the great doors for the council to conclude. I will introduce the both of ye when the time is ripe.

"There is some danger in this, though. If Trór spots either of thee, especially you Nîsa, he will not hesitate to punish the both of thee. However, Onli," Nali saw him glance at Nîsa in a less than favorable manner, "I don't expect for thee to get far without her influence. This is all that I am able to offer. Come, if that is thine wish."

Without any further word Nali hastened back to the council, not paying an attention to his two guests until he stepped beyond the Eastern Gate. Here he halted them, and bid them to be patient and wait, before he left. Loni was still standing where he left him.

"What has passed brother?" Nali whispered, quietly slipping to his side.
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Old 02-04-2009, 01:49 PM   #111
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Lóni

Lóni was listening closely to what has been said on the council. It seemed, at last, that Trór has learned all he needed to - and now things started to move fast. He is really a Dwarf in his place, Lóni thought. Even though the reality of the upcoming battle was now clearer than ever, he believed that under Trór's leadership, the colony can stand up against the enemy. Just like in the old times, perhaps the time has come to once again defend Azanulbizar.

"What has passed brother?"

Lóni turned his head. He could not see Náli: he was standing almost behind him, and with Lóni's one eye Náli still stood in his blind spot. He turned around.

"Trór has consluted that young Dwarf about the way the Orcs are coming," he whispered in return. "And he seems to be comfortable with his plan of defending the Dale. I believe that he has a good plan, don't you think, brother..."

But at that moment Lóni noticed that unusual silence has taken over the council. He looked around. Trór was watching the map closely. Some of the others were too, some seemed as if in deep thought.

"...or not?"

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Old 02-05-2009, 12:55 PM   #112
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Vigdis

The three were sipping from their glasses in silence. Both of the younger Dwarves seemed unsure of what to say or what to do. Vigdis did not feel like talking and filling the silence with some nonsense that would make the slightly disturbed-seeming youngsters feel more comfortable in the sudden awkward silence. To be honest, all she wanted was to get drunk and forget everything for once. But that was exactly what she was not going to do. She would dedicate this night to Lord Balin whom she had loved and do something he would approve of, something in his honour. She decided to start with taking pity on two of his people and release them from an uncomfortable silence. Hiding her smile behind the rim of her glass, she took a sip and then started to talk, speaking the words that first came into her mind.

"You know, I first met Lord Balin upon arriving to the newly established kingdom of Erebor very many years ago. He was no lord back then, just a famous and celebrated dwarf with royal blood in his veins. He was the leader of the scouts and the miners who were exploring and reconstructing the northern hallways destroyed by the dragon. I worked there, using my knowledge of stone as well as I could to serve this purpose. Even back then I knew that his fate was to become something great." She took another sip. The youngsters were listening intensively. An unchracteristic gentle smile played in the corners of her mouth.

"Of course, he was something great already then. The reputation of his deeds in the service of Thrain and his part in the Quest for Erebor and Battle of Five Armies had reached far and he was one of the King's most trusted men. But I knew he would become something even greater. It could be seen in him, it shone through him. When you saw him those days, you could see so so many things achieved, but you could see the promise of even greater deeds to come." Vigdis shook her head. "Even though, he was not young man anymore by any means even back then."

"I... I was young," she said, eyeing the kitchen maid and the troubadour. They saw her as a woman of her middle years, she wondered if they could see past it and see her as she had been more than fifty years ago, about the same age as the young man was now. "I was greatly... inspired by Balin. He affected people that way even back then." She winced a little, she had no intention of going in depth of what kind of feelings exactly Balin had inspired in her. "He, as you know, was a man anyone who had known him would follow to any peril. And it could be seen from him that there would be peril and trouble on his way, but through it he would win great renown."

Vigdis took another sip from her glass. It would soon be empty again. The troubadour noticed that too and poured some rum for her, never saying a word. Vigdis thanked him with a nod and a smile and continued. "Of course, no one could see what exactly it was that lay in front of him. We only knew his path would lead to something great."

The cook girl and the troubadour man were looking at her, their eyes filled with something she could not quite indentify. Vigdis took a sip from her glass and put it away. "And tonight, if not earlier, we have learned by the bitterest road what was it that awaited Balin. He was to re-establish the kingdom of Khazad-dűm, take our ancestral home back for us and look into Kheled-zâram like Durin the Deathless. But no one will know what he saw there, for he is not here anymore to tell us."

Vigdis took a deep breath. "And therefore, we shall not be bitter that he was taken from us. We may grieve him, but we should grieve for ourselves for losing a great leader. We should not grieve Balin's fate but be happy for him, for what would be a greater prize for the son of the house of Durin than to die with the mysteries of Kheled-zâram unfolding before his eyes in the highest moment of his glory?" The youngsters made no reply. Vigdis had not expected them to. She waited a few more seconds before finishing her speech.

"We will remember his great deeds and forever will they stay in the legends of our people. For surely there is no doubt that Balin son of Fundin was one of the greatest Dwarves of these later ages."

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Old 02-07-2009, 01:58 PM   #113
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The council was silent. A mutual uneasiness could be sensed among the members. As Tror turned to each of them the reality struck him. Balin would have his councilors make up a plan first and then the lord would critic the plan until it fit closely to his agenda. Tror could feel a fit of anger coming on him. He impatiently began to tap his ring, which signified his authority in Balin’s realm, on the stone table.

Are all nobles this pathetic? Can’t they see that I am not Balin. Why then do they think that I should act in accordance to his character? Why must I wait for their slow minds to create a plan when I have one already thought out? A moment ago I was getting chastised for not acting swiftly enough and now, it seems, they think I am acting hastily. The only one in here that is of my like mind is Frar, and even he will not speak.

Tror’s tapping got faster with impatience. He finally took the initiative.

“Kénan, you spoke out against me earlier. Therefore, I ask you to make plain your worries so that we may take into account whatever adjustments you make open to us. Be honest, the lives of my soldiers depend on faultlessness of our plan.”
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Old 02-08-2009, 01:18 PM   #114
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Kénan’s attention snapped to Trór. He heard his question - his order - and for a pause that dragged into a long moment of silence, Kénan sat and thought. And then he rose and bowed his head slightly in Trór’s direction.

“With all due respect, sir,” he said, his voice subdued compared to what it had been previously. “My worry is nothing less than the wasted loss of life. I fear rashness. I do not blame you, Trór, for your lust for battle, but you must not let your...ambition for revenge blind you. What I meant earlier was only that we can not have the element of surprise at all. They know we are here, and that is why they came.

“I suggest that we do not attempt to meet these orcs on their own terms. Our strength is in our home - within our city. There have been times in the past when no one could thwart or overcome an army who stood within our gates. And I suggest that we go no further searching for victory.

“Never mind where the orcs are now. Let them come to us! Let us choose the place of battle! Close the gates, and let us fight them in our own time. Let them fight and die on the very steps of our doors, and let’s pile their dead carcasses before our gates, as they piled ours in that bitter day of the Battle of Azanulbizar. And once more we will come out the victor!”

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Old 02-09-2009, 02:47 PM   #115
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His words did not have the spiteful hatred that was expected. Kenan’s words were cleverly chosen, offering criticism while giving explanations for why Trór was mislead. Kenan really knew how to play his cards at the council; however, they were not the empty words of a diplomat. The old man had a point about the danger of taking the battle away from the gates. It was a risk that Tror was willing to accept, but was it his decision to make?

Trór took a good look at Kenan. He was old and experienced, and that meant knowledge in Trór’s book. The aged Dwarf also had grandchildren to take care of; that was a burden that Trór was thankful not to have. Perhaps Kenan was growing soft in his old age, thinking more of the children than on the outcome of the battle. Was the certainty of their defeat as inevitable as Kenan believed? To win, or to lose, would seal the fates of the unborn; even Ori who had been exposed to the worst battles of the age could not deny that the outcome of this battle would have far reaching consequences for Durin’s entire house. To lose meant the destruction of Balin’s dream. If so, Khazad-dum would never again be occupied by a Dwarf. Trór frowned and looked away. It was terrible to think of the uncertainty of war, much less the consequences of it on those who were shielded from its terror.

Trór’s gaze was focused on the ground. It could not true that he was seeking glory on the battlefield! His fingers itched to pick up his spear, to strain his muscles and feel the crash of his axe on an Orc’s shield, yes, he was anxious. Everything was so simple in war: kill or be killed; there was no need to think, only to do. He did not believe, however, in what Frar often said about death on the battlefield being the most honorable way to die. Trór believed that only the truly great would ever be remembered when they die; therefore, why go seeking glory in death? Everyone must accept death, but be diligent in holding on to life. To live for his people, to cheat death where it was so commonly found: that was the key, and Trór enjoyed doing it. He was not seeking glory in battle: death was calling him to do battle.

Death was his lifelong enemy, and Trór enjoyed the challenge of beating him again and again. Perhaps he couldn’t help it, but it made no difference. Fighting the shade of Death and his precursor, Fear, Trór was always strong enough to conquer the pair and to deal them out to the enemy. To be like a god –there was nothing like it in the world. Nothing on earth or in sea is so like a god on earth as a commander in battle.

“You make some excellent points Kenan,” Trór turned to face him. “Doing nothing is an excellent strategy. No my friend I am not mocking you. Winter is coming swiftly from the mountains and the Goblins will soon wish for the warmth of their caves. However, their dwellings are hundreds of leagues to the north and they will be hasty to gain our halls. Old Man Winter will be a great ally for us!

“I must disagree with you, however, on the matter of open warfare. The Orcs have held Khazad-dum before, and they know its weaknesses. We cannot rely on the secrecy as we did in the Second Age when the evil in Mordor swept across the lands. They might expect us to use this again as our strategy. The Goblins of Gundabad can be very cunning and they are not without their siege weapons. No doubt they will bring them to subdue us.

These gates are defensible, but it takes time to erect defenses, time that the Orcs will not give us if we let them hasten hither unopposed. No sir, I will not allow that! Balin’s death has hit the soldiers hard in particular and they need revenge. A fire burns in the heart of every one of my soldiers. Having the soldiers put on the defensive is very bad for morale, it might even be dangerous. Instead of slowly letting their flame die we should use this to our advantage, strike while their spirits are hot. No victory will be gained from my plans, but I can guarantee that it will be no defeat either. It will buy us valuable time.”

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Old 02-09-2009, 09:16 PM   #116
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
“Revenge?” Kénan’s eyes flashed. His ire was woken again. He edged up to the table, drawing as close to Trór as he could. “Revenge? Is that all you hot headed stripling can think about? Act while their blood is hot? When they’re foolish and prone to stupidity, like you?

“By the great beard of Mahal!” he shouted, throwing his clenched fists in the air. “You say vague things like ‘no victory will be gained but we won’t lose either’ - what’s that supposed to mean? What good does it do to buy time if all our dwarves are off fighting while their blood is up! By my beard, you blockheaded numbskull - my blood is up, but at least I can think clearly! You’ll get us all killed!”

Someone grabbed his arm and pulled him back to his seat and a bubbling murmur of angry voices rose around the table. He sat fuming for a couple seconds and then he leaped back up to his feet. “No, I have something further to say! If we send dwarves out to fight the orcs, they’ll crush them like a nut in a nutcracker! Our diversion will be turned into a routing sport for the goblins, and we will be left with that many less dwarves to help prepare the gates!”
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Old 02-10-2009, 01:05 PM   #117
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Kórin

“ Our strength is in our home - within our city.”

Kórin reentered the council room as the old dwarf Kenan spoke again, his tone less harsh but no less passionate than before. She allowed her brooding over Nali to pass away as she took her seat again, and listened to the remainder of Kenan’s words. To go on the defensive was sensible, and certainly they would soon be forced into that position, but a part of Kórin felt shamed at the idea of hunkering down at word of the enemy.

Trór spoke next, at length, sharing his “plan”. Obviously Trór felt strongly that they should stand and fight with pride, but that was the problem: it was all about pride. He even admitted himself that going out to meet the goblins would not result in victory. Kórin could not believe what she was hearing.

Kenan, unsurprisingly, was quick to respond, his anger fully rekindled. Kórin’s eyes flashed with amusement when the old dwarf called Trór a “blockheaded numbskull”, but she could not bring herself to smile. Kenan was right.

Kórin prepared to speak, only to have Kenan continue with a final elaboration. But then she quickly cut in, also hoping to take some of the wrath Trór undoubtedly would feel toward Kenan onto herself. She had no desire to remain in this dwarf’s favor than anyone else’s.

“Kenan is right,” she began without rising from her seat. “You speak of your men as if they are children, as if you must allow them to do what they want or they will get upset! I think you speak only for your own desire for revenge, and this is hardly the time to only be thinking of yourself.”

Kórin’s heart beat a little faster as she awaited retaliation. She wanted to add, “but we’re wasting too much time with this nonsense,” but did not want to belittle what she and Kenan had just said.

Last edited by Durelin; 02-12-2009 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:09 PM   #118
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Trór

Yet again Kénan spoke out against Trór, this time with greater fervor than before. Trór did not understand. He had acknowledged that Kénan was right in his strategy and that it would be an excellent plan to be used after the Orcs have been put at arm’s length. Trór had thought that the temperance of the council was finally grasped by him. Why this outright hatred from Kénan? Kénan’s words cut Trór deeply. This was unprovoked hatred, and if this is how Kénan really thought of him than Trór knew what to do with him. The hounds of opposition were at full cry. That woman again raised her voice when she had no right to.

Must I always be denied my satisfaction after insults! These two are just saying it and the rest are thinking it. They say that I have sold my nation and my people to the hordes of the orcs if I go through with my plan; that I have sided with the mad dictates of my conscience over the sound wisdom of this council. My plans have no proper place in a council of fools.

“What is your name?” Trór asked in as calm a voice as possible.

“Kórin,” she stated proudly.

“Then tell me Kórin, why do you chastise me for speaking of my men as if they were my children? Are they not under my command? Are they not the very men who I have reared in the arts of warfare? Are they not the very men who I have fought alongside and watch them die? They are my sons as far as I am concerned, and do not speak so proudly to me, O naďve Kórin! What do you know of war?

“Have you ever seen a people that are so proud of destruction that they would ignore the advice of officers, and defy the enemy to do its worst? Therefore men of Khazad-dum, take pity of this city and of its people whiles yet the orcs are far away. Whiles yet the cool and tempered wind of grace blows over your faces, closer comes the filthy clouds of heavy murder, spoil and villainy. The orcs will be here at our doors before too long and then you will know what it means to fear. But if not, why for a moment would you risk to see the crazed and bloody orc with foul hands defile the locks of your shrill shrieking daughters, and your fathers taken by their silver beards and their most reverent heads dashed to the walls? The naked infants will be fitted upon their pikes, while the mad mothers, with their howls confused, do break the clouds! Is this what you hope to achieve? Do not take me in contempt, as if I were an ignoramus in warfare!” Trór was fuming mad. His breaths came in blasts threw his clenched teeth as he turned his hatred towards Kénan.

“I was willing to forgive your first rant against me, but seeing as you have not learned the art of tolerance, or grace, I will no longer tolerate your presence here or anywhere as a noble. Therefore, for the insults that you have bestowed upon me, the position of military commander and upon the most esteemed, and lofty, position of lord protector of Khazad-dum, I hereby strip you of your rank as a noble among my council. However, I will grant you the knowledge of my having decided to do what you have asked and keep the army close to our gates. This is not for your sake but for the sake of unity and to offer a sense of protection to the people, no matter how false that it may prove. Perhaps this will teach you to show more toleration for a peer’s opinion. I have nothing further to say, and neither do you. Go.” Trór pointed the out, and with a stooping head and crossed arms turned away from Kénan and walked back to the table.

His withheld tears blinded him completely so that he could not see were the table was placed, so that Trór gently bumped into it. The council had tired him more than he knew, he was exasperated, angry and yet sad. If Trór would have known that this was the foreseeable outcome of his summoning of Kénan to the council he would have rather gone to war blindly than to have risked that outcome.

Balin’s wishes for me to succeed him have been in vain! All it has done is to drive a wedge between his subjects. Dwarves should not fight when they were born to be brothers. Yet, it is already done.

“This council has solved little, go and summon the irregulars, as well as the miners. Defenses will be erected. I shall go with fifty of my men, and whoever else chooses to come, to find the approaching orcs, and to find Oin.”

You should not let your council under such circumstances, but time has been wasted enough. You have done much damage, Trór, and have hurt a once dear friend. Still, you may yet put things right with him. At the present you can put things right with her.

“Kórin, stay with me for a moment.”

~~~~~~

Nisa

She stood next to Onli as they listened to the angry words. Vriti was scurrying around in her pocket, no doubt scared by the commotion. How brave Onli must be to want to walk boldly into the midst of these dwarves. The very thought of Trór finding her here sent shivers up her spine. Onli certainly was much braver than she.

“That one speaking is Kénan,” Nisa said this in a whisper, pointing at the old Dwarf. “He is very proud and terrible when he is roused or challenged; though, he is decent enough when matters of state are not on his mind. Best be safe and stay clear of him.

“There is Nali’s brother Loni. I am afraid I can’t tell you much about him. Unlike his brother, he stays quite most of the time and is not too high in the opinion of the council. However, Ori was Balin’s great friend. Both were very close to one another.” Suddenly the speaking paused and a new voice was heard.

“That’s him!” Nisa gasped, “That is my cousin, Trór!” She was surprised at how different he looked. Nisa was always used to seeing him always mild mannered, and even though he occasionally frightened her with his temper, he was never as bad as this. It seemed to Nisa that Trór spoke persuasively, but she could sense a deeper emotion of hatred, of pure black hearted bitterness: there was no love in his speech. He dismissed Kénan from service. His anger must have been indeed great or blind for him to do something like that. A chill ran up Nisa’s spine, she didn’t like to see him like this, and definitely did not want him to see her.

“I must go,” her voiced cracked and shook, her tan face growing white. “I cannot stay here; I must leave now, Onli!”
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:33 PM   #119
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Óin

Óin was half-sitting, half-lying, hidden from the sight of anything but the dark birds, which in large flocks circled above, diving and disappearing somewhere where the Dimrill Dale and the lake of Mirrormere lay. Óin could not see its dark waters from here, but he knew where it was, hidden underneath the knees of Zirakzigil and Bundushathűr in the dale covered in deep shadow. He also did not see what the carrion-birds were seeking there, but he could see too well what roused them up.

Below him, all the valley was flooded with moving black shapes, pacing steadily in the evening dusk. Even from up here, the highest point in the proximity of Silverlode's dale, he could hear the clanging of iron, the harsh voices and the cracking of stone under hundreds of feet.

Below him, the dale was opening like a gigantic snake crawling among the rocks of green stone. The vanguard of the great army was marching there, the tall Orcs with heavy shields, then spearmen, then Orcs with curved scimitars and some with shortbows. They made a lot of noise, and their marching formation was by no means too organised, yet still, they were there, to protect the van of the army.

"I bet a few well-armed Dwarves will show them," Óin muttered, his beard sticking to the cold rock. "Look, what a disorder! Is that an army? If somebody attacked them now, they would hardly have chance to form a defense. The enemy will be halfway through their ranks before the ones with the shields even put themselves into a bit of good stand. Each of them will have a Dwarf behind his back, shields won't be of any use here. And there, what is that? The small Orcs with the bows cannot even see from back then above the heads of their comrades, how are they supposed to shoot? Now if only Balin was here, he will show them!"

He moved his head a little, as to see further to the right. There were parts where the valley was opening wide, and parts where the slopes heading up were not so steep. There, even the sides of the valley were black with marching Orcs; wherever the valley allowed them to spread into a wider formation, they did, even with great thrusting and jostling. There were small goblins from the North, as well as the large Orcs with whips, Hobgoblins with axes and Orcs with spears, and amidst all of them, an ordered square of huge Uruks was marching, towering above the small goblins, in their hauberks of steel rings - no doubt stolen from Dwarves or Men - and their high iron helmets. They were carrying large scimitars of steel.

"And that will make one and a half thousand, in total, no less," muttered Óin. "And there are more still coming. What is it that these beasts are carrying there? A battering ram!"

In the distance, there was an opening in the mass of the Orcs, something black and big was carried there by numerous hands. And there was more than one of these things coming.

"Well, they know something about the gates of Moria, you should not be surprised, Óin, my lad," the Dwarf shook his head. "At least you know they are really serious: they have come to take Khazad-dűm of our fathers back from our hands, and they made the effort to prepare themselves for the long journey. I would be surprised if they did not have more than that: they can make many clever things, one has to give them that. Not very useful, but when it comes to destroying something, no, you could not find better ones. That filth!"

The Dwarf looked to the left, where a bit above the river's gorge, a wide path was running around the mountainside. Now there was a long line of goblins marching there, all in heavy armor, and some of them armed with maces and warhammers. "These guys won't be fun either," Óin continued in his almost-voiceless evaluation of the approaching enemy. "I bet they can move in that pretty well. Ha! Look how fast they are moving. They'd outrun you, Óin, if you gave them the chance to spot you. Now, what do we have there?"

In the shadow of the mountain, even further above the line of the heavy-armoured goblins, another, almost unseen path could be seen. There, Óin's keen eyes spotted several fast-moving shapes.

"Wargs! Wargs, no less! So do we have warg riders with us? Looks like that! Óin, my lad, this is no fun! Nine, ten, twelve? Not many, likely, but there may be others! No, there will be others! By Durin's beard! The wind is blowing from me towards them!"

The Dwarf turned around and started descending as fast as he dared. "I guess you have seen all you needed," he mumbled during his descent. "You could not have expected less than this devilry. Balin should be informed, rightaway! And you will be quite lucky to get there before they eat you. Now, careful! If you slip, you are going to ride all the way to the valley, and these guys will be very interested in what has fallen into their midst!"

At last he was down. The steepest part was behind him, yet there were still a few dozens of feet below him, but there were also the Orcs, whom the old Dwarf had no wish to encounter. He pulled his hood deep into his face and disappeared amidst the rocks on a hidden path which only he knew.
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:21 PM   #120
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Kéni

Kéni had crept along, slinking around in the shadows. He could see he wasn't the only one trying to listen in on the council. However, he felt it prudent not to eavesdrop with a group, just in case they were caught.

But he did wonder if maybe the others could hear better. Kéni could only make things out when someone raised their voice. They could all probably see better too, but Kéni sat in patience. The words spoken loudly were the only ones worth hearing anyway.

"By my beard, you blockheaded numbskull - my blood is up, but at least I can think clearly! You’ll get us all killed!” Kéni gritted his teeth when he heard his grandfather speak. Kénan had no right to speak to Trór like that, even if he disagreed.

"Therefore, for the insults that you have bestowed upon me, the position of military commander and upon the most esteemed, and lofty, position of lord protector of Khazad-dum, I hereby strip you of your rank as a noble among my council."

The young dwarf's mouth dropped open. Kénan had pushed Trór to the point of stripping away his titles. Never in his whole life had Kéni ever felt ashamed of his grandfather, but now he couldn't believe the dishonor Kénan was bringing on the family, on the memory of Kéni's own parents. Kénan was completely out of line for attacking Trór so openly. And even though it would mean swift punishment from Kénan, Kéni planned to tell him just what he thought.

Kéni had stopped listening to the council, now he waited only for Kénan to come out.

~*~*~

Iari

Kéni and Kénan still hadn't come home. Iari was afraid to stay alone much longer, but going out now was just as frightening. Maybe she could appeal to her neighbors for company. Surely someone would take her in until her family returned.

She grabbed a small rag doll she had been sleeping with and threw on an old shawl. Iari went out in search of her family or perhaps for a kindly neighbor to keep her safe for a little while.

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