March 13, 2001
Balin sat perfectly still, like a statue. His once red hood melded
into the green forest. His eyes scanned the foliage for a sign of his prey.
Silence fell on the forest as the two stood silently, each waiting for the other
to move. Movement. Balin struck with lightning ferocity, his axe felling
his mighty opponent. We shall have a good meal tonight, he thought, rabbit.
With his soon-to-be meal in hand, he moved through the forest careful to avoid any wandering orcs. As he walked, he savored the peace that would undoubtedly be fleeting. It had been a hard battle, reaching Azanulbizar, fighting orcs at every turn. But, finally, the Dwarven army had arrived at the gates of Moria, where it was said Azog was hiding. Balin had never really hated orcs, at least not with the passion his friend Thorin seemed to be able to muster. Balin was a kind dwarf, not one inclined to hate. But here he was, at the head of a seven-dwarf squadron, on the verge of the biggest battle of the entire war. Not that he knew that. He probably could have been at the head of the army with Thorin, but he preferred starting at the bottom. He had worked his way up from the lowest rank all the way to captain. Of course, during a war, promotions came quickly. As he came upon his encampment, he noticed Ferund was on look-out. He smiled, for he enjoyed a
He moved through the dark underbrush, careful to not step on any branches. At the speed of a snail, he slowly crept towards the gleaming light of the campfire. Within five feet of Ferund, he stopped.
"Fer-" he started.
"Nice try, Balin, but I've known you were there for almost five minutes," came the sharp reply.
"By Durin's Beard, a leaf couldn't get by you!"
"And you are much bigger then a leaf."
Balin smiled in the dark; Ferund was always good for a laugh. "Well, I have some dinner, if you want any"
"That's all right, I'll store up on berries and air."
Balin laughed and continued towards camp. Gergund, Ferund's brother, sat by he fire, sharpening an axe that looked like it could cut through mithril.
"Oh, hello, Balin, just sharpening old Hewer here. I believe my count is up to forty-three now."
"Forty-three, you say? Well this little fellow here tallies mine at forty-five."
"Hah. Rabbits are all we seem to be able get anyways, the Orcs have all retreated to who knows where. They say that Thrain is preparing to thrust to the gates tomorrow."
"Aye, what bothers me is just that, not an orc to be seen for miles around. Suspicious if you ask me."
"Which no one ever does." Gergund smiled, knowing that his Captain was always ready for a gentle teasing.
"Haha. Better watch your mouth or you'll be sent to the mines," Balin replied with as much sarcasm he could muster on an empty stomach. "Anyways, time for a feast."
After eating a good part of the rabbit, he passed the rest to Gergund and fell asleep.
Balin woke with a start, sunlight glaring through his closed eyes.
Quickly, he rose and looked around, seeing nothing but the embers of
the fire. "Gergund? Ferund? Heldar? Is anyone there?" he shouted.
"Aye, I'm here, Balin" replied Gergund. "We're preparing for battle. I'm over here, looking out over the valley"
Balin walked over to the edge, finally seeing Gergund crouching and looking in the distance.
"Do you see it, Balin? Khazad-dum. Just barely visible now, but I think I'm the only one who can see it.. The fog is lifting though. Soon we will head out to battle, to reclaim our mansions of old," Gergund said softly, almost talking to the air.
Before Balin could reply, the Dwarven army did see it, and a mighty roar echoed through the valley. Like thunder, the combined voices shook the valley, and below, in the valley, a lone horse charged forth. It was Thrain, charging to face the Orcish remains. As one, the rest of the Dwarven army flowed forth, following their valiant leader.
"The battle begins, shall we follow?" Balin asked.
"Aye, off to battle we go, may Thror be avenged today!"
"Squadron, reaaady! Lets get to it! We have a battle to win!" cried Balin. "Let's go! We have some Orcs to kill!"
And so, Balin's squadron moved out from the grassy edge, moving with the Dwarven army to Kheled-zaram, the mighty lake that the valley entoured. As the great army moved forward, the gates of Khazad-dum opened, and out poured many orcs, a black wave that slowly came to head with the Dwarven forces.
Balin had long lost sight of his soldiers; he fought in a maze of blood-lusted vision and the flash of his mighty axe. An orc leaped at him, screaming like an eagle, with a mighty sword in hand. Balin sliced upwards, catching the orc in the chest, cleaving him in two. Two more came to replace their fallen comrade. These wore heavy chain mail, undoubtedly plundered from the old Dwarvish Kingdom. One charged Balin, the other died from a stray arrow. Again, Balin heaved his axe, although this time it merely knocked the orc back. The orc swung a club at Balin, hitting him squarely on the head.
Balin slowly woke up, his head thundering mercilessly and his entire
body numb. He couldn't feel a thing. Suddenly he realized he had gone
blind... No wait, that was because it was night. He couldn't feel anything
because he was buried under bodies. His head hurt because his helmet had
a dent in it the size of Erebor. I'm still alive? Balin thought. I'll have
to thank Thorin for this helmet. He pushed a dead orc and, sadly, a dead
dwarf off himself. Now I'll never be able to wear this helmet again, it's
all dented. Ah well, Balin thought, at least I'm alive, more then I can
say for this poor chap. He looked around for a place to rest, and he
saw a rock face blocking out the sky. Maybe there's a cave there; that would
be a good spot to sleep until daylight.
After an hour of walking and grumbling about his perception of distance, he had reached the cave. Balin slowly peered into its depths, and carefully walked until he reached the end. Good, nice and safe, only way to get in is the front entrance. With that, he settled down to sleep, keeping one hand on his axe, of course.
Again Balin awoke suddenly to the sound of feet. He quickly
rose and hid in the blackness of the cave. Three orcs entered, bloodied
and battle-worn. One said something in Orcish, motioning to the back of
the cave. Have they found me? Balin's hand tensed on his axe. The three
orcs started moving towards him, but then they went tense. They stood still
for a moment, then ran out of the cave, obviously scared. What was that
about? Balin wondered. Why were they scared? He suddenly felt a lot less
comfortable in the cave. Maybe I should move, you never know what could
be behind those walls. He had taken only one step towards the entrance when a low
rumbling sound started emitting from the wall. Balin quickly started running
towards the entrance, not caring to find what could make a mountain shake.
He suddenly felt an overwhelming fear, so deep that he could sense it in the
air. A huge shape rose in front of him, rising to match the height of
the trees around him. As the moonlight hit its gruesome face, Balin cowered in fear. It could have been mistaken as almost any race on Middle-earth, but lacked parts from all of them. Its grisly mane hung from its head, looking as if it had been washed in dirt.
"You are one of the little people, called dwarves." Its voice was gravelly, and as if rocks were in its throat.
"I... " Balin managed to stammer.
"A pest, you shall.... No, I will play with you, little one. I will have some fun." It smiled grimly. "You shall come back here, with more of your kind for me to destroy." Its eyes bored into Balin's; he felt undeniable power flowing through it's awesome gaze.
"I..." Balin managed to stammer again.
"You will come back here, eventually. You will remember nothing, you will return," it commanded.
Balin slid into darkness, its last command echoing through his head. I will return to Khazad-dum.
Balin woke up, sunlight streaming through the tree. What happened?
he thought. I was in the battle.. and now I'm here. I must of been hit on
the head. Where's the army? Balin stood up and started walking, following
his sense of direction. Within a couple of hours he met dwarven scouts
who led him to Thorin.
"Balin! You're alive after all! You're a sight for sore eyes, that's for sure," he cried as soon as he saw Balin.
"Yes, I got hit in the head, must of been knocked out"
"We've won the day! Although we have heavy losses... including your father," Thorin said sadly. "I'm sure he died fighting until the end."
"Yes, I'm sure he did," Balin said after a few moments of silence. "When will we bury him?"
"I do not know, I will ask Thrain about that." Thorin motioned to Balin to follow him to a large tent.
Balin saw Dain Ironfoot, sitting nearby on a rock, grey in the face. He had the look of someone who had faced a great fear. Balin felt as if he knew why. Somehow, Balin thought, I how he feels.
"I believe an expedition to Khazad-dum would be profitable to all dwarves. There must be mountains of undiscovered treasure within its halls. We must go," Balin said. "We must return to Khazad-dum."