Delightful Dwarf Stories
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Dance of Terrible Grace: 1. Dance of Terrible Grace
Does that shock you? Does it not fit your image of an elf, care-free and ethereal, Fa-la-la-la-laley, welcome to the valley? That I kill, with arrow and twin white blades, with fierce joy and pride in my speed and strength?
In the dark of Moria the orcs found us in the Hall of Records. My bow sang as they burst through the barred door. I gloried in the smooth rhythm of nock and pull and release. Each arrow flew like the little death of love, delivering the greater death of war. When at last my quiver was exhausted I drew my blades and began the dance.
The blood of orcs runs black, black as the night they favor, black as night without stars. Their blood ran in ribbons down my blades, yet could no more stain them than the night can besmirch the moon. Most fell to a single thrust, but one, stronger and faster than the rest, fought some time with me, wounding me. I felt no pain in the heat of battle; only the red blood on my tunic warned me that I had been kissed by the enemy's blade.
His sword was smeared with my blood. He stopped there and licked at that bit of red. I gave the fell creature that moment without attacking. He thought to daunt me with the gesture, but it did not concern me--I would be the last thing he tasted. Let him die with my blood on his tongue, my blade in his heart.
Someone, one of the hobbits, perhaps, screamed then. I looked towards the sound, but Aragorn had already leaped to the hobbits' defense. When I looked back my enemy was falling, a dwarven axe half-buried in his throat.
"He was mine," I growled.
The dwarf braced his foot against the orc's head and pulled his axe free. "You were too slow, elf," he growled back. His boot was black with blood.
He spun and threw one of his smaller axes at an advancing orc and then ducked under the sword of another standing on his cousin's tomb to chop at its legs. The orc jumped clear and swung at him again. The dwarf fought it with mighty swings of his axe, batting its heavy sword aside as if it were a child's willow wand. He fought with power where I would fight with speed, yet still he possessed a grace and elegance to his movements. He quickly backed the orc against the tomb and cleaved head from neck.
"For Balin!" he cried, kneeling by the tomb and bowing his head.
Aragorn had killed the last orc while I was watching the dwarf's battle. We fled then, for the full force of orcs in Moria was more than our small fellowship could withstand. I pulled the dwarf from his grief and as we ran I saw him, as flushed and alive with the light of battle as myself. I knew him then for beautiful.
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