Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

The Dwarves Treasure

Chapter 1: There's Gold in Them Thar Holes

by eiranae

Balin walked amongst the dead Orc bodies, carrion for the ravens, surveying the carnage.

Makes my stomach turn.

The stench of dead Orcs tainted the eaves of Mirkwood forest, but the springtime scent of Elves stopped him in his tracks. A dozen males and one female lay crushed like wildflowers among weeds.

“A sad sight,” Gandalf said, shaking his head.

Balin nodded in agreement. He bent down and lifted a lovely ruby pendant from the still chest of the female Elf. Her body’s warmth lingered. Would I had been a little sooner in coming. These Orcs could have tasted the blade of an ax. Balin looked up to see Gandalf’s raised eyebrow and replaced the jewel.

“Probably made by Dwarves,” Balin grumbled under his breath.

He looked around at the others, questioning whether the wizard had noted the blood-stained sword lying near one of the Elf warriors.

“I will go to Thranduil and inform him of this tragedy,” Gandalf said. “You should continue your journey to the Lonely Mountain. We have been away visiting Bilbo for several months now. Friends and family will be eager for your return.”

“Are you sure, Gandalf? I will gladly wait here for you. Thranduil’s halls are not far.”

“I am fine, my friend,” Gandalf smiled, his eyes moving to the sword.

How does he always know?

“Very well.” Balin headed toward the path, weaving through the maze of dead bodies instead of heading back in the direction they had come. He wished to take note of all the valuables even if Gandalf’s presence kept him from carrying any away. He pushed his way into the tangled underbrush, swatting at twigs and vines, determined to clear the path to his pack pony. A thorny creeper caught his leggings. He bent over to pull it loose and saw a small chest hidden under some scrub.

He turned quickly but the wizard had disappeared in the trees. As quietly as possible, he pulled the chest out of the tangled mass of plant-life, gaining several scratches for his efforts. Ah! I have found a treasure. Reaching for the latch, he started to lift it. The sound of Gandalf’s boots made him think better of it. He lifted it to his shoulder and hurried off before Gandalf came at him unawares, chuckling to himself at his good fortune.

#

Tunnon hurried down the corridor to the throne room. He wondered what had happened to cause the king to put aside his anger, but why complain. Eight years had passed since the Dwarves had escaped under Tunnon’s nose. King Thranduil did not take embarrassment well.

Anything surpasses stable duty or fletching arrows for every warrior in Mirkwood! Sometimes he wondered if Legolas didn’t ruin his fletchings on purpose.

The throne room glowed in the torch light as Tunnon approached the king and knelt. He saw the wizard, Gandalf, standing to the side, his head bowed.

“Tunnon, a group of Elves have been slaughtered nearby. Take a party of your guards and see if you can determine from whose realm they have come.”

“Yes, Sire.”

“Gandalf will show you where they are. Bring their bodies back with you.”

“Yes, Sire.”

Tunnon rose and hurried out of the throne room to find his guards.

Well, I did say anything.

#

Tunnon looked down the line of Elves laid on the forest floor. Most he noted hailed from Elrond’s realm, but one—the blonde elleth—had lived in Mirkwood before her marriage to one of Elrond’s scholars. A mixture of anger and sadness washed over him. He knew Gwínedhel from childhood. He had attended her marriage. Her husband lay at the end of the line of bodies, and Tunnon saw the wounds the scholar had taken to protect his wife. Such pitiless destruction!

Guards prepared biers to carry the bodies back to be buried. Tunnon turned to the wizard.

“Lord Elrond will be grieved.”

“This will not be the only grief he must endure.” Gandalf’s eyes swept the scene.

Tunnon shuddered at the implication.

“What hope is there?” Tunnon wondered aloud.

“Only a fool’s hope,” the wizard replied.

Will it be sufficient?

#

Balin hurried the last few leagues of his journey, anxious to find out what sort of treasure he had found. He had strapped the chest to Billy, his pack pony, and made his way past the eastern border of Mirkwood just as the sun rose. He thought about taking the treasure to King Dain but immediately dismissed the idea. A treasure such as this, he shared with only one Dwarf—my good friend, Duron.

He passed the guards with a customary nod and headed straight to Duron’s mansion. After all Duron had endured, he needed a little treasure to brighten his life. Balin thought of Trili, Duron’s wife, and shook his head. Only cursed Dwarves lose their wife and child during childbirth.

Balin gave the door to Duron’s mansion a smart rap and tried to stamp down his elation a bit.

“Balin! It’s good to see you returned safely,” Duron said. “How fared your journey?” He moved aside and ushered Balin in.

“It went well. Mr. Baggins is in good health, but see what I have found in the wilds of Mirkwood!” Balin almost chuckled at Duron’s wide eyes as he lowered the chest to the floor.

“Elf gowns?”

“Nay, something far better, I warrant.” Balin’s excitement threatened to overwhelm him. He reached for the latch but pulled back at the last moment. Bowing and sweeping his hand toward the chest, he watched with bated breath as Duron lifted the latch and pulled the lid up.

“What is it?” Balin asked, bouncing on his heels.

“Eyes.”

“Eyes?” Balin looked into the chest. He saw two sapphire eyes staring out at him from a miniature face.

A young child huddled inside, shuddering as tears rolled down pale cheeks.

“Do not weep, child,” Duron said.

The little head turned quickly and the two large blue eyes widened at Duron’s rough voice. Balin saw the fear radiating from them.

“I will not harm you. Come; let’s get you out of there.” Duron held out a hand.

Balin watched the emotion play over the glowing features—fear, confusion, hope. At last a small hand tentatively reached for Duron’s.

“There now, that’s the way.”

Once out of the confined space, the little one started to sob again.

“Is it male or female?” Balin asked. He hazarded a guess at male, and from the look of him about two summers old.

“Female of course,” Duron said with a sigh and shot him a look riddled with exasperation.

As though all Dwarves can tell the difference! There was no mistaking her pointy ears, though. Duron lifted her into his arms, and she laid her head on his shoulder.

“You stole a child?” Duron said with a glare.

“I didn’t know what it contained!”

“Poor lass.” Duron petted the dark head.

“Look at her ears!” Balin said and moved to get a look at Duron’s new acquisition. “Should we take her back to Mirkwood?”

“Nay, I will take her to Dain. We will hear his judgment on this matter.” Duron said, ending the discussion.

#

Gasps echoed down the hall as Duron passed the guards on his way into the main halls. He headed toward the council room where Dain held his meetings at this hour, whispering soothing words to the little one clutching his hair in her tiny fists.

“There, there, don’t weep lass. Nothing will harm you. I’ll take care of you, I promise.” She sniffed and shuddered in response. He passed several more of his kinsmen on his way through the hall where once Smaug rested on his horde of gold. Eyes followed him all the way to the rooms behind the hall. Some showed curiosity, some hostility, and others pity. Several of Dain’s council members who were coming from the weekly meeting went so far as to point at the little Elf and whisper. Finally, he came to the open door of Dain’s council room.

Dain stood over a table bearing several maps of the Misty Mountains. The Dwarf King traced a line upon one as Duron entered the room. Dain glanced up as he moved toward the table.

“Ah, Duron! Come and—” Duron watched with amusement as the king looked up and caught sight of the Elf-child. “Duron…is that an…”

“Yes, sire.”

“Where did you find it?”

“A chest from Mirkwood.”

“A chest?” Dain crossed the room and pushed back a lock of wispy dark hair to reveal a little pointy ear.

“Aye. I found the lass inside.”

“Hmmm. Well, I’ll send messengers to Thranduil. I’m sure she must be from his kingdom.”

Dain turned back to his maps. The little lass gave a whimper and Duron patted her back, thinking of what might have been if his wife and child had lived.

“Sire.”

“Yes?”

“What should I do with the lass?” His arms constricted involuntarily. He will give her to one of the women to be cared for. This thought irritated him for reasons he did not wish to delve into.

Dain gave a dismissive wave. “Take care of her until they get here, I suppose.”

“Yes, Sire.” Duron turned, smiling to himself as he headed toward the door.

“Does she have a name?”

Duron turned again at Dain’s question. He looked down at the little head on his shoulder.

“What’s your name, lass?” he whispered, hoping she understood the common speech.

The child’s head rose and he felt her soft breath tickle his ear as she whispered, “Míreth.”

“Her name is Míreth,” Duron saw the smile on Dain’s face and felt his own heartbeat quicken. One Elvish word even a Dwarf knew--Míreth: the Elvish word for treasure.

#
Duron walked down the long corridor to his room all the while carrying on a continuous dialogue with the little girl he held close. Dreams of doing the same with his own child flooded his mind. Remembering the long and difficult birth followed by the death of both mother and child made his eyes sting. He pushed the thought from him and focused on how light and slender the little Elf felt compared to Dwarf children.

“That’s the passage to the mines.” He pointed and the little head popped up to look in the direction he indicated. She hadn’t spoken since she had given her name, but Duron kept up a running commentary, hoping to distract her from her sorrow.

“See there, Míreth?” He indicated an open door. “That’s the door to the kitchens. Would you like something to eat?” No one had fed her for a day, at least. She nodded her head in response and he carried her into the large room. A fire crackled at the end of the empty room and clean tables sat, awaiting the preparation for the next day’s meal. He sat Míreth on one of these. All the kitchen help had gone off to their own abodes, so he searched the larder himself for something tempting to a wee lass. He finally settled on some soft brown bread, a large wedge of cheese, and a glass of milk. He sat them down next to the child and helped her feed herself, laughing heartily as she dribbled down the front of her shirt.

“You must go slowly, Míreth, or you’ll be sick.” She chewed her mouthful of bread more slowly as he wiped the front of her dress with a rag. Finally, the last pieces of bread and cheese vanished; he reached for the sleepy eyed child. She did not resist being held, in fact, she settled her head on his shoulder. What trust you have, little one. Have you already decided I am worthy?

He headed down the corridor to his mansion. After only a few steps, Míreth relaxed and started breathing deeply. So weary! My poor lass. He stopped suddenly. Is this Mahal’s answer to my prayers? Duron looked down at the little head and thought of the Dwarf lass, Trili, he had courted so many years ago. It still hurt to think of it. What if this is my chance to be a father after all.

He laid the little lass on the bed and pulled a blanket over her. As he tucked the blanket around her, he heard her mutter, “Ada,” in her sleep before she snuggled further into the pillow.






AN: Thanks so much to my wonderful betas (you know who you are) for all your enduring patience. I would never have actually posted without it!

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
There's Gold in Them Thar Holes
Created
16 Jan 2008
Last Edited
26 Jun 2008
Hits
1339
Words
2137