Author's Note: Tolkien was a bit vague on the time line of events in Mirkwood and Erebor. I have taken some liberty to make them coincide enough for this story to take place. 


This story falls in my Undying Friendship Series. Blákári is a young dwarf who is a friend of Gimli's. He made his debut in Seemingly Forbidding Crags. Tathar eventually becomes Legolas's second in command in Ithilien. He made his debut in my first fanfiction story Never Again and returned for Never Apart (which is due to undergo major rewriting to make it work with the rest of the series) and has had mention in several others. Both will continue to be a part of this growing series.


Summary: Wishing to fight with his people and disappointed to be instead sent as a messenger to Mirkwood, young Blákári, a dwarf of Erebor, finds himself beneath the trees, forced to join in a battle that is not his and to fight alongside a race he has been taught to despise.


A birthday gift for Thundera Tiger


The Trees Were Burning

By Nieriel Raina


In the North also there had been war and evil. The realm of Thranduil was invaded, and there was a long battle under the trees and great ruin of fire; but in the end Thranduil had the victory...


At the same time as the great armies besieged Minas Tirith a host of the allies of Sauron that had long threatened the borders of King Brand crossed the River Carnen, and Brand was driven back to Dale. There he had the aid of the Dwarves or Erebor; and there was a great battle at the Mountain's feet. It lasted three days, but in the end both King Brand and King Dain Ironfoot were slain, and the Easterlings had the victory. But they could not take the Gate, and many, both Dwarves and Men, took refuge in Erebor, and there withstood a siege.


~ JRR Tolkien, Appendix B, Return of the King




March 14, 3019 Third Age



It began with a page of King Brand arriving on the doorstep of the Lonely Mountain, begging the dwarves to send aid, to help fend off a great host of Easterlings who had crossed the River Carnen. King Dain Ironfoot responded by mustering his army, and joined Brand, who had been pushed back to the Mountain's feet. Seeing the host set upon them, and sensing the battle would not go well, Dain acted upon a strange urge. As the dwarves forged into the foray, joining the Men of Dale in their bloody battle, a lone envoy spurred his pony into a gallop, hurrying towards the distant tree line of Mirkwood. Dain wished him all speed and that his mission be successful.


The fighting was fierce. Dain kept an eye open for any sign of relief, hoping against hope that help might come. It was a fool's hope, he knew, and yet, even as he pulled his axe from the body of another slain Easterling, he searched the distant horizon. Instead, what he saw caused his heart to sink.


The trees were burning. Mirkwood was aflame!


"The trees!" someone cried above the clash of weapons and screams of the dying. "Mirkwood burns!"


Smoke rose over the distant trees, wispy and scattered over various parts of the wood, then darkening the skies even to a few leagues of where Dain knew the Elvenking's Halls could be found. And it was then Dain knew that there would be no aid from the elves; and as sure as he knew that, he knew before the battle's end that he would breathe his last.


With a grim smile, he lifted his axe once more with the thought that though he might meet his end here, he would take as many enemy  heads with him as he could.  With a loud bellow, Dain added his voice to the cacophony of sound. "Baruk Kazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!"


"Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!" – "Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!"


Chapter One

The Reluctant Messenger


Blákári urged his pony to greater speed, while bouncing along, his armor jingling, and feeling like a piece of misused baggage. He had never been very fond of riding and preferred to walk on his own two feet. Since that was not an option, he gritted his teeth (to prevent them being jarred together or coming down on his tongue…again) and hoped the brown beast he rode would settle into a pace that would not bruise parts of his anatomy he would rather have uninjured. As if sensing his thoughts, the pony leveled out into a gallop.


Blákári let his pony run for a short time, then pulled him back down to a ground eating canter. He might not be used to riding, but the pony keeper had made it clear that the beast could not run from the Mountain all the way to Mirkwood. He could, however, go for long periods alternating between a canter and a trot. Blákári much preferred the canter. It would take several hours to reach the forest, and already the sun was sinking towards the tree line. It would be dark before he made it to his destination. With time on his hands, and nothing to fill it but his thoughts, he began to ruminate on what terrible luck he had.


Out of all the duties to be taken up before the coming battle, this was not the one he would have chosen. A great battle would commence on the slopes of the Mountain, perhaps even now, the enemy had reached the Mountain's feet! And would he get to fight? Oh, no. Once again, he was given some menial task while others got to experience adventure and prove their honor!  Even passing out armor and weapons to the warriors and bringing new weapons to the rear ranks to be passed forward would be more bearable than being sent off on a pony as messenger boy.


He sighed. Even his friend Gimli had been given the opportunity to prove his worth. Glóin's son had traveled to Rivendell with the contingent from the Mountain to seek Lord Elrond's counsel. Blákári had learned from Glóin upon his return that Gimli had also been granted a place on some clandestine mission to the south. No amount of begging had convinced Glóin to divulge the secret, and eventually he had given up in the face of his elder's stern refusal.


Blákári frowned as he remembered. He had not even been allowed to go to Rivendell with his friend. "You're too young yet," his father, Bifur, had told him, even though Glóin had shown a rare mellow moment, offering to let Blákári accompany the delegation and to keep an eye on him. But Bifur had refused, stating Blákári would be nothing but trouble in his youth. It was true that Gimli was his senior, but at one hundred and nineteen, Blákári felt it was past time for his father to start treating him as an adult. Was not his axe sharp and his skill long honed?


And now, look at him. Sent off on some dull mission to give a warning to some elves and hope in turn they might lend aid. Why, he bet the elves would not even allow him into their realm! Blákári did not have a very high opinion of elves. From his childhood, he had heard the old stories, and Bifur and Glóin had often divulged the tale of how Thorin Oakenshield and his band had outsmarted the old Elvenking by floating away from his caves in barrels.


Bah! Let the elves find out themselves that evil was afoot! It was not as if they would ever return the favor should circumstances be reversed. Why, from what he recalled of the stories of the last big battle, the elves had been against the dwarves at first! It was only after the orcs and wargs had come that the elves, dwarves and men had fought side by side. He just could not believe the elves would lend any aid to his people and that warning them was a waste of all their time.


What he thought did not matter, however. King Dain had spoken, and Blákári had ridden off as bid, the dutiful son of a hero of their people. All thirteen of the dwarves who had set out on the Quest for Erebor had been honored, even those who had not survived. Bifur took great pleasure in reminding his son frequently of the importance of upholding the family honor and not losing face before his elders.


So, here he rode, bouncing along on the back of a pony that was determined to make certain he never sired sons of his own.



The sun had long sunk beyond the horizon when Blákári reached the tree line. He peered into the blackness, fearful of what awaited him beneath the twisted boughs of Mirkwood. His pony gasped for air and threatened to balk, but he had been told by King Dain himself to go with all haste and to push his mount until it dropped if need be. His knees rose and fell as the pony's ribs expanded like a bellows, and feeling sorry for the beast, Blákári let his mount have a short rest. It was probably due more to his hesitation to entering the forest, but he would not admit that even to himself.


But King Dain's words and Blákári's sense of duty would not allow him to put off his mission for more than a few minutes. He urged his pony on, wishing now he had asked for the beast's name before setting out. "Well, come on now, whatever your name is. We must travel a little further." The pony's head turned so that Blákári could see a dark eye reflecting the moonlight. If he did not know better, he would say the beast glared at him. He clucked and touched his heels to the pony's heaving sides, earning him a slight buck and a snort. "I didn't have to let you stop at all, you fool creature! Now come, we must be off! We have the King's business to attend!"


From beneath the dark boughs came a noise that sounded suspiciously like muted laughter. By Mahal's Hammer! It would be his luck to have the elves see this. Then a musical voice called out in amused tones, "Look here, Tathar! Here is a rare thing: a dwarf that talks to beasts like an elf!"


Blákári's beard bristled at the words, and he strained his eyes to see the speaker. But not even a dwarf's eyes could pierce the darkness of Mirkwood. A sudden movement caught his eye in the moonlight, and Blákári found himself looking at a tall, dark-haired elf, dressed in the greens and browns of the Elvenking's patrols, who had dropped from the trees. There was nothing for it now. He would not even be allowed to enter the forest most likely.


"Who are you and what is your business here?" the elf asked suspiciously, peering into the darkness behind Blákári.


"I am Blákári Bifur's son," he replied, then added helpfully, "I travel alone, and my business is with the Elvenking." His eyes widened at the look of surprise that crossed the elf's face at his words, then his stomach dropped when the look became a sneer.


"No dwarf has business with my lord. None would be so foolish!" The sound of snickers came from the trees, alerting Blákári to the presence of more elves in the darkness. He most likely had a number of arrows aimed at his heart! His fingers itched for his axe, but Dain's words rang through his mind.


"Do nothing to provoke any guards. Speak politely, tell them your errand and whatever you do, keep your hands away from your axe!"


"I bring an urgent message from the King under the Mountain. It is imperative I give it to your lord immediately." He sounded arrogant to his own ears, but it was the best he could manage in the way of politeness. He had never met with elves before, and the thought of becoming target practice for elven archers made him nervous and uncertain. For the first time, he felt his youth and wondered if an older and wiser dwarf might have been better suited for this mission.


The elf stepped closer, and Blákári could see curiosity had replaced the earlier suspicion, though there yet remained caution in the elf's movements. "What message?" he asked, his bright eyes glittering in the moonlight.


Blákári shook his head. "I can give it to none other than the Elvenking," he rumbled in reply. Dain should have allowed him to give the message to he first patrol came across. There was simply no way he would be allowed to see the infamous King of the Elves. He swallowed hard at that thought. In truth, he feared being made a prisoner, even as had his father eighty years prior.


Blákári was surprised when the elf inclined his head. "Very well, we will escort you to the Halls." Then the elf smirked. "One so young can surely cause little harm. It shall be humorous to see what the King decides to do with you, naugrim."


The double insult was more than Blákári could handle. His hand closed over the haft of his axe. "Why you pointy-eared—" His voice cut off as a dozen elves dropped into sight, and as he had thought, their bows were drawn, arrows pointed at his heart. A shudder went through him, but he tried to hide his fear. Gimli would never cower before a passel of elves! He straightened himself in the saddle and met each set of glittering eyes with a defiant look that he hoped gave no sign of his trepidation.


"Your pony has traveled far enough for one night," the leader stated, stepping forward. His voice was softer as he reached out to pat the beast's sweaty neck. "One of my men shall stay with him until he is rested enough to make the rest of the journey." The elf eyed Blákári with a disdainful look. "You shall come with us." He signaled to those behind him, who eased their holds in bowstrings and replaced their arrows into quivers.


Blákári eyed the party suspiciously for a moment, but in the end, had to concede. It was why he had been sent. "And who are you?" he deigned to ask, meeting the leader's eyes.


"I am Tathar, son of Lord Ferlim, and in absence of this patrol's leader, I am in command." He turned and led the way into the darkness. Blákári fell in behind him, mindful of the bows that could be drawn in an instant.



Blákári's legs, which had nearly crumpled beneath him after sliding off the pony, were wobbly and the insides of his knees (as well as his backside) were sore. He actually felt grateful to leave the pony behind and be back on his own two feet, but time was short. He had been instructed to make all haste, and in the company of elves, he had no assurance of that.


Having been escorted into the darkness of the wood, he found his eyes adjusted quickly enough to make out the path. He followed the elf Tathar under the boughs, feeling a strange sense of heaviness that grew with each step and made his heart quail. The wood seemed to groan, and he swore he could almost hear whispers as a gust of wind sent the evergreen needles to rustling and the bare branches creaking. Some doom lie ahead, some evil approached. How he knew this, he did not understand, but he could feel it approaching.


"You sense it as well."


Blákári nearly jumped at the voice from beside him. He turned and glared upwards at another elf, this one fair-haired. The elf smiled, but there was no humor in it. "Evil comes for us from the south. The Shadow approaches. The trees send warning."




Tathar's sharp voice brought a sheepish expression to the face of the one who had spoken, reminding Blákári of the times he had spoken out of turn and been corrected by his elders. He wondered if this Maithon was young for one of his people. That was the trouble with elves. He had heard they did not show their age, being the strange immortal creatures they were, but surely they had youths among them as well? Blákári grinned reassuringly at Maithon. Elves might be strange, but they were also fallible. The attempt at conversation had eased his fears and boosted his confidence.


His relief of being off the pony's back lasted all of ten minutes. Tathar slowed his pace, and when Blákári peered ahead of him, he saw several tall horses waiting. His spirits drooped at the thought of being hoisted up on one of those backs. 


"Can we not walk?" he asked, eyeing the mounts that appeared silver in the faint moonlight that penetrated the gnarled branches. He knew further from the Elvenking's lands that the wood grew so tangled that no light penetrated even in broad daylight but he was glad that here, nearer the edge of the wood, he could see.


Tathar raised a brow at him. "I would have thought your mission was one of haste, judging by your pony's condition."


Blákári winced. "So it is, but I do not feel comfortable on beasts so high from the ground." He grimaced as soon as the admission left his lips, and he felt heat rush to his face and ears. Perhaps his father was correct and he was yet too young to leave the Mountain. One did not reveal their weaknesses willingly!


The elf, Maithon, grinned at him, then walked over to the horses, running a hand down a long, grey neck. "It is no different than riding your pony," he said. Blákári snorted.


"I hold it shall be safer," Tathar added. The leader's brow furrowed a moment, then he seemed to come to a decision. "Maithon, the dwarf shall ride with you." Then he turned away and spoke to another horse, his own, Blákári thought, judging from the soft nickering sound the beast made.


"Come," Maithon called, "Elhíl shall not let you fall."


Blákári moved to the horse's side, gazing up – way up – and feeling more than apprehensive about mounting such a beast. He had never ridden anything of such size before, and had the feeling it would not be a sedate stroll up the path. There was no saddle, and he wondered how he was supposed to mount.


Maithon solved his problem by urging Elhíl over to a large fallen log near the path. Blákári nodded once in thanks, then clambered up on the log and from there, to the horse's back. His heart plummeted as he looked down and he nearly slipped off, but the elf mounted quickly before him, giving Blákári something to hold on to. He had no qualms about taking hold of the elf's tunic to keep his balance.


The horses leapt forward into an easy canter, and Blákári felt his stomach turn over. He was going to fall, slip from the horse and meet his death in the dark of Mirkwood when he should be fighting at the Mountain like a true dwarf!


"Hold tight to me," Maithon called back, flashing a grin over his shoulder before urging the horse into a run.


Blákári would have felt awkward with his arms wrapped his arms around the elf's waist, but he was too busy  holding on for dear life. The ground disappeared beneath them at an alarming rate. Never had he traveled so quickly, and after a few minutes, his fears subsided as he began to feel more secure on Elhíl's back and he was able to appreciate the horse's movements. There was little noise, for under the trees, the path was cushioned in a deep blanket of leaves that muffled the sound of the galloping horses. He could not even be certain whether Elhíl's hooves touched the ground, so smooth was his pace. Unlike his pony, this beast glided with a sheer grace, nearly floating, and Blakari wondered if this was how the eagles felt when riding upon the wind.


It seemed a very short time later the horses slowed as they approached a lane lined with rows of sleeping beeches, their bare, white branches glowing eerily in the moonlight. Beyond, a stone bridge spanned a glittering river, its happy gurgling the only sound in the night, and on the other bank, torches could be seen burning before open gates where many elves gathered. Blákári swallowed down the bile that rose in his throat. Soon he would be brought before the Elvenking and then what would become of him?


He felt Maithon stiffen and cast a glance to the Tathar, who held up a hand signaling his men. They moved closer into formation and trotted across the bridge and then all was chaos.


Elf men and women rushed to and fro, gathering supplies and handing out weapons. Some hugged their loved ones and then disappeared into the night, while others barked orders out. From inside the caverns, Blákári could hear the crying of young ones. Sadly, he had seen a similar situation – had it only been this morning? It seemed a lifetime ago he had left the Mountain and their preparations for battle. Now it seemed he had not escaped after all. His axe might yet sever a few heads!


— o —


Tathar's sense of unease, which had plagued him for two days, grew to grave concern as he realized that in his absence, his fears had come true. The army was being mustered, and more than that, it appeared all capable of fighting were being outfitted for war, even many of the women. In the midst of the clamor, his eyes were drawn to a tall, familiar figure dressed in attire Tathar had rarely seen him wear: the green and brown clothing of a King's warrior, complete with armor glinting under the moon and the insignia of a commander on his collar.


"Father!" he called out. "What has happened? Are we under attack?"


"Tathar!" Ferlim's gaze came to rest upon him, and those ancient eyes glistened with a sheen of moisture. "Thank the Star Kindler!" His father rushed forward and pulled him from his horse's back and embraced him. "We feared you had fallen when you did not report yesterday." Ferlim's eyes scanned over him, his shoulders sagging with relief to see him unscathed.


"Nay, I felt drawn to the eastern edge of the forest, and there we–"


"No time for reports now; you must arm yourselves for a long battle, and armor is required. Dol Guldur marches upon us!"


The blood drained from Tathar's face at that news. He had been close to that accursed place many times, though now they avoided it, so orc infested it had become. Something else resided in that dark tower – dark riders, servants of the Necromancer. Too many of his fellows had been lost in skirmishes with the servants of the one who held Dol Guldur. Now it seemed many more would be claimed if battle was imminent.


He turned to immediately order his men, his eyes instead coming to rest upon the dwarf, and he was reminded of the naugrim's message for the king. Could it have ought to do with the coming battle? Or could it be as Thranduil and his advisors feared: that battle would come to Elves, Dwarves and Men on all sides?


If Dain had sent this youth seeking aid, Tathar feared there would be none to offer. Looking about and seeing even those who had only just attained their majority arming for battle, he knew they would have naught to spare to send to Dain.


"Father?" He turned back, noting that Ferlim's eyes now rested on the dwarf and his face was contorted in a look of both shock and revulsion. "Father," he repeated, taking Ferlim's arm. "Where is the king? I have a messenger for him."


Ferlim paled and his gaze flew to Tathar's at that statement. "Thranduil has already led a large contingent south. We shall rendezvous with him by morning." Ferlim's eyes moved back to the dwarf. "Is that your messenger?" His tone was hard and unforgiving, reminding Tathar that his father had been one of those who had escaped Doriath and who had witnessed the treachery of the dwarves.


But Tathar could not rouse his usual dislike for the naugrim, despite his upbringing. He glanced back at the dwarf, who eyed them suspiciously as they spoke in their native tongue. Then Maithon said something that caused the dwarf's lips to twitch and his eyes to sparkle. He answered, and though Tathar could not hear the words, he saw his men chuckle and Maithon laughed brightly.


Something about the young dwarf spoke to him. Perhaps it was some sense of fate, or maybe it was simply the fact that for all his dark hair and bushy, black beard, the dwarf reminded him of the golden-haired Maithon: young, quick to speak his mind, stubborn to a fault and carrying a mischievous twinkle in his eye.


"Aye, that would be the messenger, and he will speak to none but the king."


Ferlim's lips curled into a sneer. "Then let him accompany us to Thranduil." He snorted. "Dain is a fool to have sent a child to do a man's work."


"Perhaps," Tathar agreed, watching the strange exchange between the young Maithon and Blákári. Had not an hour earlier the young elf been making insulting barbs about dwarves talking to beasts like the elves? For whatever reason, the dwarf was meant to be here; Tathar knew it, though he could not explain how. "What is done is done, and maybe his being here will have been for the best."


Ferlim lifted a skeptical brow, but said nothing else on the matter, while Tathar hastened to get his patrol prepared for the coming battle. All the while he kept half an eye on Blákári, nearly smiling at the dwarf's unease amidst the milling elves. Whatever reason fate had for sending a dwarf to them would come to light in its own time. For now, Tathar prepared for war.


Chapter Two

A Ride Under Dark Trees


Blákári's fingers itched to hold his axe. The further they rode from the Elvenking's halls, the more the sense of doom crept up his neck. In all his years he had never felt anything like this, not even when the dark ones had come to the Mountain with their demands. He did not remember much from his lessons on geography, at least concerning the forest of Mirkwood, but he thought that the fortress of Dol Guldur lay many hours, if not several days' ride, to the south. And weren't there mountains about half way?


He tried to look ahead for some sign of the terrain, but after they had ridden half a dozen leagues from the stronghold, the darkness had become like a cloak over the wood, swirling shadows and mysterious sounds making him jump. Like a veil, the blackness clung to the forest, keeping even the keen eyes of a dwarf from piercing them. He could only barely see the elf sitting right in front of him, and only because the elf emitted some kind of glow, which Blákári found a bit unnerving in the pitch of night.


He closed his eyes, then opened them, trying again to pierce the darkness ahead. By Mahal's Hammer, how did these elves see where they were going? The soft glow they emanated was not enough to light the path, at least not more than right beneath the horses they rode. He began to suspect some of the stories he had heard as a child were true, and that elves could indeed shoot a bird through the eye in the dark.


"Are you well, Master Dwarf?" Maithon asked from his perch in front of him.


"I am hale enough," Blákári answered, his lips quirking as he avoided answering what the elf truly wished to know. He preferred to keep his thoughts about the dark and the strange sense of foreboding to himself, at least for now. "And you?"


The elf's torso vibrated as Maithon snorted. "I am impatient to skewer a few orcs, but otherwise hale, naugrim. But that is not what I meant. You are quiet and so tense I fear the wrinkles caused by your grip on my tunic will never be removed!"


Blákári glanced down where he could just see his hands against the faint glow of the elf. His fingers were clenched tight, his apprehension manifesting itself in the way he clutched the elf's clothing. He forced himself to loosen his hold. "My apologies," he mumbled.


"It is well. I fear by the time the fighting is over, this tunic shall be fit for burning!" The elf laughed brightly as if he had told a great joke.


Blákári did not find it humorous; instead, he remembered the one time he had seen orcs. It had been when they had traveled from the Blue Mountains to the Lonely Mountain shortly after it was retaken from Smaug. He had been very young — too young to have seen the things he had. He had been hidden among the baggage with Gimli guarding him while his father, Glóin and the other men had drawn their axes and dispatched the small band of orcs. He would never forget the clinging black gore, the squeals of outrage from the orcs and the gurgles of the dying.


Soft sounds drifted back to him from the front of the line, and Blákári realized they had arrived at the rendezvous. He could faintly make out many softly glowing forms in the darkness but they were continuously swallowed by the unnatural blanket of darkness resting over the wood. His stomach began to churn with nervousness, for soon he would stand before the Elvenking himself, that fierce and unforgiving elf he had heard so many tales about.


"Is this the messenger?" a soft, melodic voice inquired from nearby.


Blákári jumped, turning to peer in the direction from whence the voice had come, but he could see only the faint outline of two elves in the blackness. He squinted and frowned, wishing the elves would offer some stronger source of light.


"Aye," came the answer in what he thought was Tathar's voice. "This is the messenger sent from Dain, or so he claims. His pony was in such a state by the time he made the border that we had to leave the poor beast behind."


Definitely Tathar, Blákári decided. "Are you going to stand there talking about me in the dark, or will you bring some light so that I might give my message and return to fight beside my people?" He hated when the elders spoke of him as if he were not there, and he certainly would not tolerate it from a bunch of elves.


All around him, voices faded to silence. It was as if the elves held a collective breath, waiting to see what would happen next.


"Light a torch," that strange voice declared, only this time it was not soft, but cold and demanding.


He had heard that sort of tone before, but only in Dain's voice. Blákári gulped, trying again to peer through the darkness, attempting to see the figure that eluded his sight. A torch flared to life not ten paces away, and Blákári's eyes watered a bit at the sudden assault, then fastened themselves on the most imposing elf he had ever laid eyes upon. Taller than even that pompous Lord Ferlim who Tathar had introduced as his father, this one had hair that shone a deep gold and fell in a single braid over one shoulder. Though dressed in the attire of a Mirkwood warrior, there were subtle differences, including some insignia Blákári had not seen before: oak leaves crossed with a staff of some sort.


The biggest disparity, however, was in the elf's eyes: green as sparkling emeralds in the sunlight, cold and hard as steel. Those eyes demanded respect and commanded attention. Blákári instinctively drew himself up straight and, thanks to his place behind Maithon on the grey horse, found himself eye to eye with this elf, unable to look away. He had no doubts as to who he faced. An older, more experienced dwarf might sneer in the face of the Elvenking, but all Blákári could do was stare into those ancient eyes and wish more than anything that he had been young enough to be sent with the old women deep into the Mountain rather than be as a messenger to such a person as this.


Thranduil lifted an imperious brow at him. "Well, you have light. Deliver your message, son of Mahal, and then you can depart my forest. The coming battle is no place for children."


Ire rose up within Blákári at those words and his fingers twitched. King or not, no pointy-eared elf was going to call him a child!


"…and whatever you do, keep your hands away from your axe!"


Dain's words echoed in his head and he somehow managed to keep from grasping the haft of his weapon. He did not miss the fact that the Elvenking's eyes had watched him for his reaction, and was thankful to his king for warning him so severely. Threatening the Elvenking with such a move could easily cost him his life, he knew, and so Blákári kept his hand glued to his thigh and away from the axe in his belt.


But he would not let the comment pass unrecognized. "I am no child," he dared, meeting Thranduil's eyes boldly. "But those more experienced were needed elsewhere," he conceded, swallowing hard as he recalled the battle that most certainly raged even now at the foot of the Mountain.


"Dain sends for aid, then?" Thranduil asked, his eyes flickering northeast, as if looking towards Dale.


"My message was to inform you that Men from the east have crossed the River Carnen and attacked King Brand. The Men of Dale were pushed back towards the Mountain and sent word requesting our aid. Dain granted it. He sent me here to warn you that the numbers of the enemy are many and to expect an attack on your own people." Blákári did not understand such a message. There had been no request for aid given – only a warning. Why Dain expected Thranduil to send help when it was not requested, Blákári could not fathom.


The hardness in Thranduil's eyes softened slightly, his eyes still turned to the northeast. "Honorable of Dain to send us one capable of fighting in order to warn us." He turned back to Blákári. "I know what he wishes of me, and would that I could grant it. We have received word from our scouts that the enemy advances in force from the south. I have no warriors to spare; as it is, we shall be greatly outnumbered. Erebor will stand or fall without the aid of the elves." And with that, Thranduil turned away, leaving Blákári gaping after him as the torch was put out.



The horses milled about, their unease apparent in the sounds of shuffling hooves and soft snorts. They could sense the approach of evil even as he could, Blákári supposed. He certainly felt the oppressive force drawing closer. It caused his heart to quail with the thought of looming battle. Earlier in the day he had longed to take part, but this feeling had not been as evident at the Mountain. There, Men of the East attacked, not orcs and wargs and who knew what else?


Now he wondered if he had the courage to face the coming darkness. Blákári snorted. Coming darkness? Already he could only see his hand before his face due to the elf seated before him. What made them glow in such a manner, he wondered. Was it true they were children of the stars themselves?


"How do you fare, Master Dwarf?" Maithon asked, probably having felt Blákári's tension and his hand reaching for the haft of his axe.


"Well enough," he replied. "I am unused to such darkness. Not even in the deepest mines is it this dark." How was it he kept admitting his weaknesses to this elf? Blákári cursed himself for his youth and impetuousness. His father would be appalled at his behavior.


But the elf did not disparage him for his admittance. Instead Maithon sighed. "This is not just the blackness of night, nor of the trees being so close. The Shadow approaches from the south." A shudder ran through the elf. "I fear the coming battle will be long and victory hard won."


Blákári grunted. He did not envy the elves' war with the evil forces in the south of their wood. For himself, he wished to be off home, to offer what aid he could, if he managed to return in time. He glanced about for Tathar, but could not differentiate one glow from another. Using his ears, he searched for the voice instead, and quickly pinpointed it off to his left.


"I cannot send him away now!" Tathar was saying. "The way is not safe and we would lose warriors we need here."


"Only one need take him back to the edge of the wood," came the voice of Tathar's pompous father. That one was the epitome of all Blákári had been taught to despise in the elves: arrogant, derisive, too certain of his own worth. Blákári found himself bristling at just the sound of Ferlim's voice. It was well that not all elves were as that one. 


The short hours Blákári had ridden behind Maithon had directly contradicted all he had been told about the elves – except for the flighty part. Maithon was quick to jest and smile. There was only joy and light in that gaze, despite the taunts he made against the dwarves. Blákári found himself thinking that had their peoples not been so at odds, that he and the elf might become friends.


He snorted to himself. Friends? An elf and a dwarf? How Gimli would laugh at him were he here! And probably knock him on his backside for daring to consider such a thing.


The sound of the voices lowered to mere hisses caught Blákári's attention again. It seemed some other elf had joined Ferlim and Tathar, but he could not make out what they said. Then Tathar's voice rose above the others. "NO! You would be sending him to his death!"


"Then the world will be rid of one more naugrim," the new voice growled.


Instinctively, Blákári's hand clenched about the haft of his axe at the threat in that voice. Would he have to fight his way back to his people? His heart thudded in his chest, and he contemplated slipping from the horse's back and making a run for the forest edge. Only…


Blákári still could not see the surrounding terrain and had no idea how to find his way through the depths of this forest. He swallowed hard as he realized his very life depended on elves, a race who despised him simply for being a dwarf.


"Do not listen to Belthul," Maithon whispered. "He speaks boldly, but you were granted safe passage, and not even the prince can thwart your safe return. Only the king can do that." The words did not ease Blákári's racing heart or the rising panic at being at the mercy of the elves.


"And would he?" Blákári dared to ask the question nagging most in his mind.


"Nay," Maithon replied. "Our king, despite his reputation, is honorable. He will either provide you with safe passage back to your pony, or will keep you with us for the battle. In all honesty," he added, turning to look over his shoulder. Blákári could just make out his features in the faint light the elf gave off. "It would be safer for you to remain with us." His lips twitched upwards. "Do you not wish to fight?"


"Aye," Blákári answered, loosening his grip on his axe. He dared be honest. "But not with elves. I wish to fight alongside my own people."


Maithon's eyes flashed with a deadly light. "Well I understand such a desire; I also yearn to fight with my kin. Too long has the enemy encroached upon our wood."


Blákári blinked. Had he understood the elf's insinuation correctly? "Have you not seen battle before?" he asked. Blákári could not be certain, but he thought the elf's face darkened slightly.


"I have seen battle," Maithon said, glancing back to the front of the horse so that Blákári could no longer see his face. "I have faced spiders, wargs and orcs. But…" The elf released a sigh, his head tilting forward. "I am still considered a novice by the captains, though I have fought with the patrols for nearly half a Long Year now! I might not be as seasoned as some, but I'm no child to be protected. I can fight." The fair head raised and the elf threw a confident look over his shoulder. "What of you?"


Blákári felt his face heat. He looked away, unable to admit his inexperience. "I am trained in the arts of war," he grumbled.


"Which means you have not actually seen battle," Maithon spoke the words for him. "That explains why you were chosen as messenger."


"What of it?" Blákári bristled.


"Nothing," was the calm reply. "There is no shame in never having faced battle. In truth, I wish you did not have to do so, for it is messy, loud and terrifying as much as it is glorious and honorable to defend one's people."


All his life, Blákári had heard the tales from his elders of battles won and lost, of the glories of victory and the vengeance meted out to their enemies. To be a dwarf was to be a warrior as much as a craftsman. From childhood they were taught to wield an axe in defense, and from early youth to brandish a weapon in attack. Blákári's knowledge of battle techniques and maneuvers equaled his knowledge of delving into stone. It was incomprehensible to him to consider not fighting. The only ones who did not fight were those to young or too old. Even the women were trained in the arts of war.


But to hear this elf speak of battle in terms he had never considered set him off balance. Loud was to be expected, and so would messy, he supposed, considering his blade was kept razor sharp, but he had not considered the practical and logical parts of war. No, he had only contemplated winning honor and glory by doing his duty. Only in the past hours had he experienced doubts and fear about actually engaging in battle. Could it be all warriors felt such terror?


"You will be fine," Maithon assured him with a smile. "From what I have heard, dwarves are stubborn and hard headed, confident and quick with an axe. Perhaps by morning, your count shall equal my own."


Blákári's eyes widened. He knew the warriors of his own people often kept count of their kills, like a game. Could it be that the elves did this as well? "Well, then," he added, his lips twitching, "if indeed we fight together, we should make a wager between us. Whoever has the least kills owes the one with the most a drink."


Maithon laughed brightly, the sound causing many around them to cease their murmuring. "That is a wager I'll accept, Master Dwarf. I have heard that the dwarves have a trick for turning wine into something stronger — brandy, I believe it is called?"


"Aye." Blákári chuckled, thinking of his father's brandy still. The dwarves did not trade this drink, and the method for producing it was kept safe within the Mountain. But he had managed to swipe a jug or two and hide them in secret places. If he lost, he could fulfill. his end of the bargain. "And I have heard that the elves have a wine that is so strong that it puts even their own to sleep."


Maithon snorted. "Yes, I have heard that is how your people managed to escape from the king's halls not so many years prior. Old Galion dipped too deep into the king's Dorwinion. If I should lose, Master Dwarf, I can provide a wine skin or two."


That settled, Blákári focused on the hushed voices of Tathar, Ferlim and the Prince Belthul. The argument seemed to have continued with no outcome as yet. Blákári wished that he might have some say in his fate. Was it not his life they discussed?


As it was, none of it mattered, for the decision was taken from them all. Whether he wished to fight alongside elves or not mattered not, for the darkness was lit by an orange glow. At first, Blákári thought the elves had lit torches, but the sudden scramble around him, voices calling back, and the distant sounds of metal on metal chilled him as he realized the wood itself had been set on fire.


The orcs had struck first.


Author's Note: Many months ago, in a discussion at a writer's group, Adaneth mentioned that she was certain the dwarves would have invented stills for making brandy and whisky. My dwarves concur.  


Chapter Three

Within the Fire


Blákári had no idea how he got where he was. All he knew was that everywhere around him elves and orcs fought amidst the dark trees and smoke — choking, burning, suffocating smoke — often as phantoms engaged in some lethal dance, their forms outlined for a moment by the glow of the flames and then swallowed by a billowing cloud of grey. Arrows swished through the air, some brushing so close to his face that they stirred the cloth he had tied over his nose and mouth to make it easier to breathe. Blades clanked against metal or bit into flesh, and he was surprised that both sounds seemed loud amid the crackling of fire. Most disconcerting was the sound of screams that came from both sides as red and black blood flowed.


He had not remained passive in this fight with darkness. From the moment he had found himself in the battle, Blakari had thrown himself into it, his doubts and fears forgotten in the reality of war. His body instinctively moved as it had been trained to fight and his axe was now covered in orc and warg gore.


With no pressing threats, Blákári swiped a hand over his face to remove the steady trickle of sweat from his exertions as well as the heat of the fire that loomed as another enemy in the midst of the fighting. The heat was growing as the fire continued to spread. With winter only beginning to recede, the woods had been dry and caught flame easily, sparks being carried on a foul breeze from the south to kindle in dry leaves and brush.


Blákári took a moment to get his bearings, taking note that his most recent fights had taken him some distance from Maithon and Tathar's group and into a group of elves he did not recognize. The orcs pressed against the elven warriors, attempting to push them back into a fire that raged along the left flank. The orcs were not very smart, Blákári realized, seeing that instead of pressing the elves, what the vile beasts had done was given the elves protection from the rear. They could fight with no thought of enemies coming up from behind them, and as a result, the orcs were dropping like bat dung in a cavern, leaving dark piles of corpses littering the ground.


Glancing back towards Tathar's group, Blákári decided to try to make his way back towards Maithon, but a band of orcs broke through one of the lines and swept between him and his goal, cutting him off and driving him closer to the fire. His hands gripped the haft of his axe as he prepared for the next onslaught, an odd sense of glee rippling through him. Battle lust, perhaps; Blákári was not certain, but he took it in stride, meeting the yellow gaze of an orc who saw him.


The orc responded as many had during the battle, showing first surprise to see a dwarf amidst an elven army, then hatred — the orcs had never forgotten the dwarves and their wars — and then something akin to amusement, if orcs could be amused. They seemed to target him as an easy kill amid so many death wielding elves, yet so far, not one who had confronted him had lived.


Not that such a death toll had all been his doing,  he thought with some irritation. As often as not, elven arrows had dropped an orc charging him, and he had seen Maithon's grin as well as the mouthed kill counts — twenty-seven being the last. How had the elf managed to kill so many so quickly? Or had more time passed than he realized? It was hard to tell the passage of time with the billowing smoke, flickering fire and the constant barrage of foes.  It felt no more than an hour and yet at the same time felt as if he had always been fighting.


The orc charged with a screech, its scimitar raised, its yellow eyes gleaming in the fire. Blákári waited for it, wondering if this one would drop with an elven arrow through its throat or if he would get to dispatch the beast himself. No arrow came, and with a slight smile twitching his lips, Blákári blocked the strike with his axe and pivoted, bringing the haft up and delivering a swift, bruising blow that drove the orc back. It tripped over a tree root, and Blákári made an easy kill, his blade falling heavily to severe the beast's head from its shoulders.


As he kicked the foul thing away from his boot, movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned towards it, blinking the sting of the smoke from his eyes, then again as he questioned what he saw. Dark shapes crept in the fire, stooped and close to the ground. He could not make out what they were, but it seemed as if dark cloaks of some form were thrown over some of their foes and thus rendered safe from the flames. What sort of sorcery was this?


The implication hit him like a blast of heat from a forge and he glanced at the elves fighting with no thought to their backs. "Behind you!" he called. "The enemy is within the fire!" His bellow rang out as he darted through the fighting to where the dark shapes were emerging behind the company of elves who thought their backs were protected. They had not heeded the dwarf's call, either not hearing him with the roar of the fire so close, or, more likely, too arrogant to pay heed to the call of a dwarf.


The form of an elf locked in combat with a rather large orc burst before him, slowing his steps. Blákári recognized Tathar's father, Ferlim, as the elf, then one of the dark shapes were through the fire, throwing off whatever it was that allowed them to move within the flames. Orcs!


One of the fell creatures targeted Ferlim, whose back was to the flames. "Behind you!" Blákári called again, but Ferlim could not turn. His blade and that of the orc he fought had locked against one another. Blákári saw the moment Ferlim sensed the orc behind him and the alarm that sparked in that ancient gaze.


Blakari hesitated for just a moment. What to do? He could not reach the orc in time and Ferlim would be dead before he could release his sword and turn to defend himself! His dagger was in his hand before he quite thought to reach for it, and with all his might he hefted the blade. Time seemed to slow down as the steel rotated end over end in its flight, the fire flickering against the polished blade. Noise faded and Blákári thought he could hear the whir of the dagger through the air.


As it slammed into the orc, the sounds of battle returned, time sped back up and Blákári heaved a sigh of relief. Ferlim managed at that moment to free his sword and impale the orc before him. As it fell, the elf spun, his eyes widening as the orc behind him dropped with a dwarven dagger buried in its throat. Blákári grinned. The look on Ferlim's face had been worth an ale cask filled with gold!


Then the elf's eyes widened as he saw what Blákári had already seen. "The orcs move within the fire!" Ferlim called. "Beware! The back is not protected!"


Blákári charged towards the flames as another orc made it through and shrugged off his smoking cloak. A strange, awful smell assaulted Blákári's nostrils as he neared it, but he continued on, engaging the enemy and dropping his foe. When he next looked up, he saw the elves of this company had changed their battle tactics, setting a few archers to drop the orcs moving within the fire, the arrows kindling in their flight but dealing out death just the same. Blákári's eyes briefly met those of Ferlim, and to his surprise, the elf inclined his head sharply, a grudging look of respect on his fair face.


But what about the other companies? How many of those cloaks did the enemy have? Were others even now in danger? Blákári used his smaller size to his advantage and managed to dart through the battle back towards where he had last seen Tathar's company fighting.



The fighting was intense. Never in all his years had Tathar fought in such a battle. He felt as though he had been moving for years, and yet it must only be a few hours. In the smoky gloom, it was hard to tell the passage of time and if the sun had appeared, there was no discerning it under the dark trees.


The enemy had not withdrawn, but had pressed more and more upon them, pushing them back towards the blazing inferno of the screaming trees. Raising his blade and blocking the scimitar of his latest foe, he planted his left fist directly in the orc's face. In the second that the orc's head jerked back, Tathar found himself listening for something and then realized he missed the sound of Legolas's laugh when he pulled moves like that.


And do you fight such battles, my friend? What horrors even now do you face? Would that you were here at my back!


Ripping his blade from the orc's chest, Tathar moved on to challenge a pair who charged him simultaneously. He pulled a long dagger from its sheath on his belt and fought with both weapons, his dagger finding one orc's neck and spraying its companion with a spatter of black blood. With a squeal, the remaining orc attacked in fury, lunging in with no caution. Tathar mentally sighed. These beasts never learned. They were bold and arrogant, attacking in anger and throwing caution to the wind. Such battle strategy was why so many littered the forest floor with their corpses


But orcs were not the only ones to fall Tathar saw as he dodged the renewed onslaught and stabbed backwards, his sword piercing the orc's back. As it fell, he scanned the ground, seeing enough of his people dead or seriously wounded to cause his heart to twist in his chest. How many would die here today? How many friends would he mourn?


He swallowed hard and moved back into the fight. So far they held their ground, the fire giving them a benefit the orcs seemed not to have considered. With no thought to their backs, they had an advantage. He had just dispatched another orc, when a great bellow sounded over the roar of the fire, the clash of weapons, the moans of the dying and the shrieks of many orcs.


"Behind you!" It was Blákári.


Tathar jolted in surprise, having forgotten all about their dwarf messenger as he fought beside his fellows. He glanced towards where the shout had come and saw Blákári pounding towards him. Tathar marveled at how much ground the dwarf covered so quickly, jumping over a fallen orc and racing on, darting around fighters, and even using his bulk to shoulder orcs out of his way as he hastened towards Tathar.


"Orcs! In the fire!" Blákári called again, waving an arm towards the burning trees.


Tathar frowned, not understanding why that would be a bad thing. Orcs in the fire meant less enemies they had to kill. Stupid beasts! He looked towards the flames expecting to see screaming orcs burning for having stumbled into the flames. Only orcs would be stupid… His thoughts ceased as he saw that to which Blákári referred. From the glowing trees, dark shapes emerged, smoking but not aflame. His eyes widened as a cloak of some kind was thrown off, revealing an orc with sword at the ready.


"Take heed!" he called. "Behind you! The orcs are behind our lines!"



Blákári wondered how the battle might have gone if the elves had not had a dwarf in their midst, as it was very unlikely the elves would have seen the orcs moving among the flames in their dark, smoking cloaks. His warning had been heeded, and word had spread among the ranks. The battle tactics changed as more orcs appeared from the flames, and the elves struggled to maintain their ground, setting archers to bring down the cloaked orcs before they could attack.


Blákári threw himself into the fight with renewed vigor, planting himself near Tathar's archers and covering their backs as they shot arrow after arrow into the flames. He grinned at Maithon's shocked expression when Blákári charged and took down an orc headed for the elf, but before he could call a count, he found himself swinging at another foe. Not that he could remember his count. There were simply too many of the foul beasts and too much distraction to worry about remembering numbers in the chaos of battle.


In the end, he found it did not matter how the battle might have gone without him. When all was said and done, all he could remember was the camaraderie he had felt while fighting alongside elves — elves! of all people — and his grief at the terrible loss of life.



All around Thranduil, clanging swords and the swoosh of arrows filled the air. This day was unlike any other, this battle unlike any fought in his wood. Many would die as Anor rose over the wood, but Thranduil determined they would not die for naught.


They were outnumbered. The orcs were bold and pushed forward, coming at them from all sides. Smoke billowed. Fire crackled. His trees screamed.


But they would win the day, no matter the cost. He would not allow the Shadow to defeat him. Not again!


He raised his sword and struck true. To win, they would have to take him, and he would not give them that. With a mighty battle cry, he charged back into the fray, his sword swinging as he wielded it in a deadly dance.


No more retreat. No more falling back. Today they would take back the ground. Today they would defeat the enemy!


Thick smoke clogged his nostrils, choking him as it enveloped the wood. The smell of blood drove him on. His people lay dying. His trees seeped bubbling sap. The heat blistered his skin. The smell of singed hair and burning flesh was nauseating.


He drove his sword into another orc and withdrew it as black blood spattered, sizzling as it hit his hot armor. In the surreal surroundings of smoky shadows, he continued to fight, calling out to those still standing to follow him.


And slowly, bit by bit, the orcs fell back, trampling over charred ground and over fallen bodies. Seeing the first sign of retreat, Thranduil lunged forward himself in pursuit, his sword humming and a battle chant spilling forth from his lips and was taken up by the warriors fighting beside him, slowly spreading among the army.


The sound rose, growing in volume, as they advanced and the orcs began to flee. But the enemy would not regroup, would not seek refuge to fight another day. The song rose louder as the warriors pursued the fleeing orcs through the trees. Victory would be theirs — was theirs!


Thranduil reached a rise of ground and paused to watch as the enemy was routed, groups of orcs pursued and exterminated by warriors whose song had turned to one of victory. Darkness would not win. The light would return.


As if hearing his thoughts, a beam of sunlight broke through the smoke and burned forest. Its light rested upon him and he raised his sword with a loud cry. "VICTORY! The wood is OURS!"






Blákári heaved a sigh, his heart still heavy in his chest. So much had transpired in so short a time. When he had finally returned to the Mountain, his father had said he was different, but Blákári did not feel as if so much had changed. Perhaps life did not change a person so much as temper them, refining who they were. He was still Blákári, yet…he felt older. He had not lost his sense of self but his experiences had acted like the heat of a forge, purging the dross from silver. He had fought and proven himself in fierce battle alongside a race that was not his own. And he had watched the light go out of the eyes of too many an elf, who should have never seen death.


Two weeks he had tarried with the elves, unable to return home with the Mountain under siege, but that time had been spent making himself useful. Many an elven gravestone had been carved by his hands.


Perhaps his father was correct, and he had changed; not so much in who he was inside so much as in how he viewed the world. His lips twitched. The elves had proven to be quite different from what he had expected, especially one of them…


And that was why he was here again under the trees of Mirkwood. He glanced down, his fingers smoothing over the flask of brandy in his hands. Clearing his throat, he said what he had come to say, "Well, I must admit, I don't know what my final tally was. I lost count, but I think there is no doubt you won the contest."


Did he imagine an elven snort to that statement?


"So, I have come to fulfill my obligation." He held up the flask of brandy with a slight smile. "The finest in the Mountain! It seems the letter Tathar's father sent with me upon my return spoke highly of my deeds." He grunted and shook his head. "Yes, I know, I did very little. Indeed, I would not have survived if not for you."


That thought sobered him, and he looked away, finding it hard to say the rest, but unable to leave without the words being spoken. "I never thought I could come to like an elf, but you made it difficult not to like you. I think if things had been different, we could have been friends."


He lifted his eyes and stared hard at the mound at his feet. A spray of new green grass was starting to touch the earth where it had been recently turned. "I would have liked that."


Stooping, he placed the flask against the small stone engraved with Maithon's name, then he straightened, blinking sudden moisture from his eyes. "I'll miss you, elf." He started to turn away, then paused, looking hard at the grave of the young elf that had made such an impression upon him. "Funny, isn't it? A dwarf missing an elf? Wherever you are, I'll just bet you're laughing at that."


He left then, not wishing anyone to catch him speaking in such a manner, but feeling better for having said and done what he had. Blákári picked up his pace, seeing Tathar anxiously pacing on the path where the elf had stopped to wait for him, giving him a few minutes of privacy to say his final goodbyes to Maithon.


Tathar came to a halt when Blákári emerged from the glen of the dead. "Your party is most anxious to be off," Tathar stated, gesturing up the path to where Bifur and the group of dwarven ambassadors waited.


Blákári grunted, seeing the dwarven delegation casting suspicious glances about them. Even the ponies shifted nervously, all except one — the brown pony that had carried him to Mirkwood initially stood patiently beside Tathar's grey, their noses nearly touching. Blákári glanced from them to where his father glared down the path at him. Bifur had not been happy with his request for a brief halt in Mirkwood on their way to Gondor, but the new King Under the Mountain, Thorin Stonehelm, had granted it to his youngest ambassador, along with the flask of brandy.


"You served the King well, young one." Thorin had held up the letter from Ferlim, and though all could see the new King still grieved for his father, Thorin had smiled. "Your request is granted."


But Bifur would take Thorin's permission for a brief halt to be just that: brief! Even now, Bifur waved his hand for the dwarves to mount up and turned an impatient look on his son.


Blákári nodded, but stopped before Tathar and looked up at the dark-haired elf. They shared a look of understanding and no words were needed. They both felt the loss of so many of their kindred, but Maithon's death had touched them both just a bit more. The young elf had been so full of life, only to have it end with an orc arrow in the last desperate moments of battle. Blákári wished he could forget, but knew he never would forgive himself for not having seen the archer, for not having moved quicker, for being able to do nothing as the light faded from shocked elven eyes…


He blinked hard and cleared his throat. "Farewell to you, Tathar. I hope our paths cross again some day."


Tathar inclined his head, sadness lingering in his grey eyes. "Good journey to you, Blákári. May your paths be green, and perhaps we shall meet again."


With a last look towards the glade that held far too many elven graves, Blákári then hurried up the path and mounted his pony. "Come Maithon," he told his pony, renamed for the elf who had teased him for talking to it, "we have far to travel, and a new king to whom to give allegiance."


As his pony picked his way along the path behind the others, a wind came up, rustling the leaves of the trees. And for a moment, Blákári was not certain, but he thought he heard a voice on the wind.


"Farewell, elvellon."


- o -


Then Bard II, Bard's son, became King in Dale, and Thorin III Stonehelm, Dain's son, became King Under the Mountain. They sent ambassadors to the crowning of King Elessar; and their realms remained ever after, as long as they lasted, in friendship with Gondor; and they were under the crown and protection of the King of the West.


~Appendix B, The Great Years, The Return of the King




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