Hilda Greenhill's Diary, 6th Entry
With Yuletide almost upon us, Kili went out with a group of other dwarves into the woods in the valley below the settlement. Their goal, to see if they could catch a wild boar for the Yule feast. Dwalin, Gloin, Nori (forgiven somewhat for his actions at the inn), Oin and Gimli went with him. Ori had wanted to go, but his mother wouldn't let him, saying that it was too dangerous.
Despite the fact that the dwarves were gearing up for a celebration, there seemed to be an air of gloom about the settlement and I didn't think it had anything to do with the dark short days and the long dreary nights. I put it down to the absence of Thorin and the absence of the dwarves who set out with him.
Fili did not go on the wild boar hunting expedition because of his duties in the mead hall. For myself, my own cloud of gloom was obvious. This would be the first Yule without the rest of my family and it wasn't something that I thought could ever happen. Of course, I am not naïve enough to believe that my family would have stayed intact forever, but I thought that there would have at least been some of my family around me, my brothers, perhaps, my husband and my own children when the time came, but to be completely alone without anyone, that is something I never anticipated.
I was not aware that the other races of Middle-earth celebrated Yuletide like we hobbits do, but it makes sense when I think about it. It is a way of being in tune with the cycles of the seasons, awareness of the passage of time and the renewal of life and it is a connection that all the people's of Middle-earth and the creatures that live in it must feel. It is something that gets us through the dark times in our lives, that hope that life will endure and continue, but it is also something that is so easily forgotten when dark times are upon us.
From what I have seen so far, dwarven Yuletide celebrations are somewhat different to hobbit Yule celebrations, but there are also some things which remain the same. First, the similarities - the abundance of good food and drink, and lots of music, these are the same. The differences lie in the way decorations. There are no evergreen decorations such as holly, ivy and the only reference to trees used in the celebrations is that of a large Yule log which will be burnt throughout the longest night. I have come to the conclusion that dwarves are not fond of green, growing things.
A group of the dwarf women, Dis, Gloa, Skafid, Vif, Bild, (the dwarf woman who had been due to marry Frerin before the battle that claimed his life) Lyngheid and Lofnheid (Dwalin's eldest daughters) and Dwalin's children had gathered to see the hunters off. Dwalin was busy saying his farewell to his family, Ori was still trying to convince Skafid to let him go on the hunt and Gloin and Gimli were saying their good byes to Gloa.
"Promise me you won't do anything daft," Dis said to her son.
"Mam, you worry about me too much," Kili said.
"That's because half the time you lack common sense," Dis replied. "I would feel better about if your uncle was here."
Dwalin over heard the exchange. "Don't worry, Dis. We won't let anything happen to the lad," he said.
"I'll see you later, Hilda," Kili said to me and the hunters went off in high sprits. With all the noise they were making, I would have been surprised if they managed to catch anything. Ori tried to sneak off after them, but Skafid didn't miss a trick. All the dwarf women, apart from Dis and Bild, with the children and Ori in tow, headed back towards the mead hall.
Dis, Bild and I headed back towards the cottage. Bild was one of the dwarf women who had taken up the work of a metal smith and she had Dis had been friends for many years.
"Before the dragon drove us out of Erebor," Dis reminisced as we walked. "My mother forged priceless items of beauty. Crowns and jewels for the elves, golden broaches and chains for the ladies in the lands of Rohan and Gondor and the finest weapons made by any race other than that forged by the elves themselves. It was a good time for dwarves then."
"Oh aye, lass. My mother's specialty was mithril armour," Bild said.
"Now, though, we are reduced to producing crude tools of iron for farmers of the race of men we trade with," Dis said. "Essential, maybe, but the lack the artistry of the craft."
"What you'll find, Hilda," Bild said. "Is that the men make a lot out of the value of silver, gold, precious stones and mithril, but for us, it is the act of making them that we crave. The mountains of Ered Luin hold a lot of metal ore, but it is only common metals such as iron, and bronze."
"There is one mine though, that does hold something special. It holds deposits of quartz and bleujenn. We call it Morgoth's Hole, because of it's appearance and it has a bad reputation of accidents occurring there," Dis said. "Vili was killed in one of the cave ins there."
"Some of the men have a more vulgar name for it," Bild said. Bild told me the name but it is unrepeatable, so I will not record it here.
We parted company when we got to the cottage as I had promised Kili that I would see to the ponies while the dwarves were on the boar hunting expedition. I didn't mind it. I liked spending time with the animals and I needed to care for Crowberry anyway. Trotter lay down by the gate to the paddock after I had turned them out so that I could clean out the stables, make sure that they had clean water and enough hay. When I finished, I found a mug of mead and some bread and cheese waiting for me, which I was glad for.
The day which had started out clear, had turned to a dull grey and a cold drizzle had started to fall. The sun, what I could see of it, was well on its way towards its resting place in the west. Crowberry, Rowan and Bungo would be fine until dusk and I decided to go up to the mead hall to escape the drizzle.
As the afternoon turned to dusk, I decided to bring the animals in. Ori and Lofnheid (the second eldest of Dwarlin's daughters) accompanied me. Lofnheid had an interest in scribing and they were often seen in each other's company (much to his mother's consternation.) I had glanced at the contents of the book Ori wrote in and found a lot of sketches of Lofnheid, more than there were of other dwarves of Ered Luin.
Over the course of the afternoon, the drizzle had turned to a cold mist which thoroughly dampened our clothing and hair. After seeing to the animals, we decided to see if we could see the hunting party coming back home. We waited at the spot where we had seen them off from that morning and the visibility was extremely poor, due to the disappearing sun. The wait seemed like an age, and I was just about to suggest that we go to the mead hall, when we heard voices. We heard them before we finally saw them and even as they became visible, I could barely make them out.
Gimli was the first to emerge from the fog, panting heavily because he had been running. It was obvious that something was amiss.
"There's been an accident," he gasped. Lofnheid took off to the mead hall to fetch help.
"Who's been hurt?" Ori asked.
Before Gimli could reply, I could just about see a group of dwarves through the mist. As they got closer, I could see that they had been successful in the hunt, but they lacked the joviality could be expected from success. Two of the dwarves were carrying a third one between them, but I couldn't tell who it was they were carrying at that distance.
One of the dwarves shouted to Gimli, "Gimli, go get Dis. Tell her Kili's been injured."
My heart dropped like a stone at the mention of Kili's name.