9. In Darkness
We began with such high hopes. Erebor was well and good, once Smaug was dead, and Dáin a good king, but I was not the only one who aspired to more. The Dwarrowdelf is the natural home for the folk of Dúrin, and my forefathers are from his line – I felt I had not only the right, but the obligation to retake it from the foul Orcs infesting it.
I should have known. I should have guessed, from the tales. It was not merely Orcs who dwelt here. Khazad-dûm exists no longer – now it truly is the Black Pit of Moria. The thing that drove us from here two millennia ago still dwells in its heart. I am certain of that. The Orcs fear it, but serve it.
Seeing the waters of Kheled-zâram – should I have taken it as an omen, that the stars reflected only dimly as we came up through Nanduhirion and climbed the Dimrill Stair to enter what was ours?
Some among Men believe that Dwarves are as stone. Would that it were so! For stone cannot die. But it can crumble, as I crumble now. How ignoble an end, to be slain by an Orc-arrow. Many arrows. Five days it has been, I will last a little longer.
We restored some of the chambers and halls. At least we did that. I have never seen such craftsmanship as in the pillars of the Great Hall of Dúrin. Curse the Orcs who will only befoul them again. Unless we receive aid. Dáin has not responded and I begin to think that Borin did not reach him with the message.
Our greatest achievement, though, was to find a lode of mithril. None believed it possible. All the veins were thought to be too deep to be accessible, the way barred by our enemies below. But we did, and rediscovered the secrets of its forging. I had rarely seen it before, except in the mail-shirt that Thorin gave to that rascal Bilbo.
I wonder what my friend has been doing? Smoking his pipe in his garden, I suppose. The queerest burglar to ever be hired by a Dwarf or thirteen, he was. Dear Bilbo. Those waistcoats of his were so absurd.
Mahal made us as we are, and not otherwise. Even an Elf would have trouble healing from these wounds. I cannot love the Elves, but they are tireless and their ability to recover from injury is remarkable. Flighty creatures, though.
I wish I had still the strength to make my own monument. That is the way it should be. No, all it should say is “BALIN FUNDINUL UZBAD KHAZADDÚMU.” Balin, son of Fundin, lord of Moria. None may ever see it, unless something comes to pass that I do not foresee. My people cannot get out. We are trapped on all sides. Óin is keeping a journal of the colony, but who will read it? We will vanish and our fate be never known.
The halls of my fathers call to me. Perhaps I shall see there Dúrin himself, and have to admit my failure. I tried. I tried…
Balin, musing and muttering on his deathbed, as I hope was clear enough. I always felt rather sorry that the Dwarf who was most friendly with Bilbo was the one who went off to Moria and died there.
celandine at wellinghall dot net
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