Hilda Greenhill's Diary 4th Entry
Continued from last entry.
The snowstorm lasted two days from the evening we arrived at the inn. During that time, I got to know Kili and Fili better. They told me that they were the nephews of a dwarven king who had lost his kingdom to a dragon during the time of their great grandfather and were building a new home in the Blue Mountains. I knew about the dwarven settlement in the mountains, as my parents had sometimes traded produce with them, but I had known nothing of the history behind the settlement. I came to realise that I had something in common with these dwarves - both of us had lost our home, and it would take a long time to reclaim it. We spent the days during the storm in the common room, sometimes going out to the stables to check on the animals. Trotter spent much of his time asleep in front of the fire, accept of course, when I went anywhere and he would be close on my heels. I did wonder how much he understood, if he knew the rest of my family was gone.
Kili's company I liked especially, as he tried to take my mind off losing my family. We spent the time waiting for the snow storm to pass playing games of Hnefetafl, which would have been great if it had not reminded me of the times my brothers and I spent playing it on similar days. I would have enjoyed Kili's company a lot more if the grief of losing them had not been so raw and regretted not meeting him in happier times. However, we were careful not to repeat the events of the other night and the innkeeper's wife seemed to be watching the both of us like a hawk.
In contrast, Fili was a lot more serious and I think his thoughts were preoccupied with his Uncle Thorin, and the other dwarves who were with him. I learnt that they had left them behind in the storm to hunt the orcs that had murdered my family and raided the farm. No one turned up at the inn, dwarf or otherwise, and I think that the lack of news was worrying him. If Thorin is dead, either at the hands of the orcs or a casualty of the storm, that would make Fili the king of his people. The burden weighs heavily on him and I don't know what is worse, knowing that your family is gone, or waiting on the possibility that one of them is dead.
I do not know what to make of Nori. He is the kind of person that is alright to talk to and sometimes even makes me laugh with what he comes out with. Fili told me to be cautious of him.
I would like to go back to the farm to see if there is anything that I could salvage, but I doubted that it would be restorable and Fili told me that all of the animals on the farm were dead or stolen by the orcs. I only had Trotter and Crowberry left from my previous life.
I was coming out of my room on to the landing when Kili reached the top of the stairs. "It looks like the storm has passed. Do you think that you are well enough to travel today?" he asked. "Fili is anxious to get back to our mother."
"How long do you think the journey will take?" I asked.
"It took us five days to get to your farm, but as we were hunting orcs, we didn't take the direct route. It should take us a couple of days."
I patted Trotter's head. I still felt rough, but I was wanting to get away from the eagle-eyed innkeeper's wife as I felt that she was always watching me. "I'm up to it," I said.
"I'll let Fili know," Kili said, turning to head back down the stairs.
"Kili, I'm sure your uncle is fine."
"I hope so."
When I was ready, I found that Fili was settling up with the innkeeper, paying what we owed, getting the weapons back and paying for some supplies for the road.
"Where's Nori?" Fili asked Kili as he shouldered the bag the innkeeper had put our supplies in.
"He's getting the ponies ready," Kili replied.
"Good," Fili said. "Did you ask him to?"
We went outside to find that Nori was with the ponies at the trail which served as a road through the mountains. I think Fili was expecting not to find him there because he seemed a bit surprised.
"Rate then, let's get going," Nori said when we had reached him.
We took it in turns to ride and I must say that it was hard going with the deep snow. It came up to just below my knees and was deeper in other places. On the other hand, the Blue Mountains had a rare beauty about it - it didn't matter what the weather was like, it could be raining, snowing, misty or a sunny day, every type of weather enhanced the mountain range's beauty in its own way.
When we made our first stop to take a break, Fili was going through Rowan's saddle bags. "Nori, what's all this stuff?" he asked, pulling out a block of cheese, a loaf of bread and a small bag of potatoes.
Kili looked inside Bungo's saddle bags and found a couple of bottles of mead in one and a bag of gold in the other. "We should take this stuff back," Kili said.
"No. I'll send someone with payment down when the snow has cleared up. We've lingered out here too long already," Fili said. "But that doesn't mean you're getting away with this, Nori. You'll do some work in the mines to pay off your debt."
In the end, it took us about three days instead of two to get to Thorin's Gate. The snow had slowed us down considerably. There was a small village outside the mine, complete with a few cottages, a mead hall, a stable complex for the ponies and all the other amenities that a small settlement needed. It was only a tempory settlement as the dwarves would move into the mines to make their homes there once it had been established. The mine was not ready for habitation as yet so the majority of the dwarves lived outside of it. There was an inn which Nori headed off to almost as soon as they had arrived. We had dismounted from the ponies when we entered the village.
"Let him go, Kili. We can always send Dori to look for him if they are back," Fili said.
"Do you think we should try home, or the mead hall first?" Kili asked.
"Home," Fili replied. "Besides, we need to drop the animals off anyway."
Home turned out to be one of the larger cottages in the area which had a forge attached, a stable and a paddock for the ponies. As we drew closer, we saw that there was a stocky dwarf hammering away at a metal object on top of an anvil. The dwarf was wearing a rough spun skirt, and a tunic. In spite of the cold, she didn't need to wear the coat that was hung up on a peg some distance away from the furnace, as that was all the heat she needed. Her long dark brown hair was twisted into two plaits that helped to keep her hair out of the way while she worked.
"Mam's home," Fili said to his brother. He turned to me. "Would you mind holding these for us while we go and speak to her?"
I did not like the idea of holding on to two ponies, plus Crowberry, but they seemed relaxed enough. Their mother broke off what she was doing when Kili called out to her. Unusually for a dwarf, she had no beard and I learnt later that widowed dwarves often shaved their beard as a mark of their grief at losing their husbands, and as I was to learn later, their mother had suffered more than enough losses to grieve for. They both hugged their mother in greeting and after exchanging a few words, moved forward to greet me.
"Kili here tells me that you are looking for a place to stay. There is more than enough room for you and you are welcome," she said. "I am Dis. Lads, see to these animals. Come, lass, and we'll get you settled."
I handed the ponies and Crowberry over to them and followed Dis as she led me towards the cottage. She stopped after a few paces.
"Oh, and boys, get off with thee to the mead hall after tha's done. Balin'll be needing to see the both of you," she said to her sons.
"Will do, mam," Fili said.
I followed Dis through the front door into the cottage, which opened out on to a sitting room which consisted of several chairs arranged around a fireplace. A writing desk and a floor to ceiling bookcase by the window. The walls were made of oak wood, with geometric shapes carved into them similar to the pillars on either side of the entrance to the mead hall. There were several framed pictures of dwarves, both male and female, though the males out numbered the females considerably, on the walls in the sitting room. The newest of which I could see were of Kili and Fili. Dis saw me looking at them.
"That one," she said, pointing to a picture of the oldest dwarf man. "is my grandfather, King Thror, my grandmother." She didn't tell me her name.
"My father, Thrain," she said, indicating another picture. "And my mother."
Again, Dis did not reveal the name of her mother. "My brother Thorin, the current king," she continued. "My brother Frerin, my husband, Vili. They are all gone now, apart from Thorin."
"What happened to them?" I asked.
"My grandfather and brother were killed by orcs when we attempted to take back the lost mines of Moria after the dragon drove us out of Erebor. My father, his fate is unknown. After the war with the orcs, my father attempted to take back Erebor, but was lost in Mirkwood. Vili, he was lost in a mining accident," Dis related to me the fate of her kin. "As for my mother and grandmother, they died in the wilds after we were driven out of Erebor. My grandmother was not in the best of health due to old age and sickened and died shortly after. My mother died protecting me from a lynx, until Thorin and Frerin arrived to kill it. I was only a child at the time."
We went through into a hallway and I was surprised to discover that there was no kitchen. Dis explained to me that most of the dwarves ate together at the mead hall.
"My father, Thorin, Frerin and Vili built this house after we came up here from Dunland. It was meant to house all of us, including my grandfather, until we had mined halls fit enough to live in," Dis said, as we passed three rooms to climb the stairs to the first floor. "Or until my brothers had found themselves a wife and they built a room for each of us, including an extra one for my children after Vili and I married. Since it is only myself, Thorin and the boys that live here now there are too many empty rooms in this house."
She led me into one of the rooms. "This was Frerin's room. Mine is the one next to it. The boys are in the two rooms opposite. I thought that Thorin would prefer some peace and had the boys' up here."
Dis found me some clothes to change into and then left me so to allow me to settle in. I went over to the leaded window and looked out to a good view of the mountain side and the mead hall. My stomach rumbled and I decided that I would go up to the mead hall when I changed to get something to eat. There were two sets of clothes, a long green dress and a travelling/work outfit. I decided that has I was going to be seen by lots of people, that the dress would be more appropriate to wear.
There had still been no word of Thorin or the dwarves that had set out with him.