March 24, 2006
“Did…did we clear out the Orcs, Da?” the Dwarf asked, struggling to speak.
“Aye. Aye we did, son,” choked the old Dwarf, holding his son in his arms. The old Dwarf fought to keep his voice steady. The Dwarf in his arms leaned forward as if to say something, but only relaxed back into his father’s arms. The old Dwarf began to weep now, and the son watched his father’s hand come toward him and gently lower his eyelids. He heard the old Dwarf weep, and then the cries of battle came anew. His father had lied to him to ease his pain. The Dwarf now heard his father take up a battle song, growing louder to hide the shakiness in his voice. The sounds in the cave began to fade, and the sounds of the anvil came to the Dwarf’s ears, the sound of his father’s anvil, which had always brought him comfort in the dark of night.
“Wake up, my son,” a distant voice called to the Dwarf, and he opened his eyes. He was back in his father’s smithy, back when he was a young boy.
“What’cha makin’ Da?” the young boy asked.
Wiping sweat from his brow, his father answered, “Somethin’ fer yer Ma.” Grinning and giving a wink, he added, “But don’t ya go tellin’ her yet.”
The smithy faded, and when he next saw, he was in his family’s den, not more than two score years ago perhaps. He and his father were there. With his hand on the youth’s head, his father turned the son’s head to and fro. “Yep,” he said at last, “ya got the beginnins of a fine beard, my boy.”
Vision faded again, and when the Dwarf saw once more, he was somewhere he had never been. Yet somehow, he knew where he was: Azanulbizar, the plain before the gates of Khazad-Dum. Many bodies of both Dwarves and Orcs lay about. He surveyed the battle until he saw in the distance a grizzled old Dwarf leaning on an axe, wiping sweat from his brow. “For you, my boy.”
This vision too began to fade, and the Dwarf began to feel himself pulled away. The sound of the anvil came once again to his ears, but this was not his father’s anvil. Vision came to him once again, and he found himself in a smithy far greater than any he had ever seen, greater even than the smithies of the Seven Fathers. Anvils and furnaces of metals both familiar and unimagined filled the smithy. Weapons, armor, and shields lined the walls, while more intricate creations were held in crystal cases or set upon pedestals. As he turned to gaze upon this smithy he saw at the far end a great anvil, much larger than any used by Dwarves. Finally, before him as if always there, appeared a shiny figure of great stature. The figure knelt down with open arms, and from his mouth came the voice that had beckoned the Dwarf.
“Welcome home, my son.”