16. Uncover the Past, Discover the Future
He grabbed a small knife that looked foreign in his huge hands, but he was a Dwarf and knew his way with tools, and this one had been working rather well though it was elven-made and not dwarven as he would’ve preferred. Pressing a hand against the open book to keep it steady, he worked with the knife over a stain, scraping until he got only brownish dust and was able to see traces of old words beneath the smear that covered nearly all of the page.
The Dwarf grunted. There was another page that had successfully been uncovered. “My luck must be changing,” he muttered to himself. “The last page crumbled to pieces ere I had chance to begin my work,” and he paused, running trembling fingers over the surface of his new treasure: a book. Who would’ve thought that he’d walk in and out of the home of his forefathers, bringing out a book and not gold or mithril? But this book was just then more valuable than all the treasures of Moria; it contained the tale of his kinsmen and their latest thoughts, those same thoughts that were now below his fingertips, scribbled so hastily that he feared they would rush out of the page any moment. Did he dare read on?
’Take it back to Dáin,’ Gandalf had said. Gimli bowed his head, closing his eyes. “I suppose Gandalf had hopes of my returning to the mountain. But, it may be too long before I set foot in the halls of my people, and I cannot wait to read what dark secrets Khazad-Dum has been keeping from us all these years.” He went back a few pages and his stare fixed upon the number three at the top. He glanced back again to see that all seven of his companions still sat while Aragorn told them stories and Legolas sang for them. If he wanted to read –and grieve- in peace, now was the time. Heaving a deep sigh, he began.
We drove out orcs from the great gate and guard room. We slew many in the bright sun in the dale. Flói was killed by an arrow. He slew the great chieftain and won us passage to clear the entrance, but a new host reached him. So rests forever Flói under grass near Mirror mere.
A noise startled him and he looked back, but it was only master Peregrin who had dropped his mug. His face turned to the book once more.
Some speak already of turning back. An expedition of ten set out to bring signs and quell the whispering. They faced a group of orcs guarding the twentieth hall, but returned victorious. We have taken the twentyfirst hall of North end to dwell in. There is a shaft of light and the air is wholesome; hope has been rekindled. Balin has set up his seat in the Chamber of Mazarbul. With so many of our chiefs gone, leadership will be questioned-
“Your mood is dark today, master Dwarf.”
Gimli jumped in his seat and turned to find Legolas standing at a distance of two paces from him.
“Not dark but sober, and I wonder why you would intrude on me like this without so much as a warning.” It was all Gimli could do to answer without having the Elf notice his blurry eyes. Legolas, however, seemed unruffled and offering him the mug he carried sat right next to him, totally oblivious of the scowls and threats he gave him under his beard.
“I provided you with countless warnings of my presence, but it seems not in your nature to heed or notice them,” and the slight twitching of his lips told Gimli he was jesting.
“I suppose you will want to know what it is I’ve been reading,” he said, rolling his eyes and folding his arms over his chest, but Legolas did not even turn to look. “You don’t want to know? Why, then, have you come?”
“I know, or guess what you have there, for you’ve kept it zealously since we found it. It is your right to feel what you will feel, but I hope you shall not grieve too much upon things you cannot change. Will you not take heart under the eaves of fair Lothlórien?”
“It might be easy for you to give such advice, who have not suffered the loss of your kinsmen.”
Legolas looked suddenly grave. “Those of us who are doomed to fade suffer loss every day, that of friend and brother not the less.” Their eyes clashed for a moment and Gimli found it hard to endure the glance. Never had he thought of the Elves’ hardships and now realized that there was more to them than he ever believed. His heart was filled with a new-found respect.
“It is well, master Elf,” he said at length, hoping that would do for an apology. “I shall not grieve if you don’t, but now I would like to-”
“Yes, you would like to get back to your book.” Legolas rose and was walking away when he suddenly turned, “Will you, then, walk with me around the city- tomorrow? It would be good for your understanding of my world, since I now have seen a bit of yours.”
Gimli was taken aback. “That- that would be good.”
“Good. I do hope that your skill proves better than your tongue and you find what you seek there.”
He growled but Legolas laughed as he walked away. Covering his mouth, perhaps to restrain a chuckle, Gimli returned to his book, there to travel through the depths of Moria, the ancient kingdom of his people.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.