6. The Mountain
Upon reaching the mountain, they were challenged by a sentry. Gloin expressed extreme indignation upon being stopped, and Gimli was positively furious.
“Nice home, Gimli,” Legolas remarked, “if you like solid stone.”
“It so happens that I do,” Gimli replied, “as do all of my kin. Your own home is almost wholly stone.”
“But not entirely. I believe I have told you before: you Dwarves are strange folk.”
“Oh? And Elves are not?” Gimli retorted. “I have also told you before: Elves are stranger than we dwarves. At least we do not weary other’s ears with perpetual singing and poetic remarks.”
“No, you dwarves are satisfied to merely sit about and hammer endlessly away at your forges, keeping yourselves from all contact with the outside world,” Legolas said as they laid Gimli upon a couch. “Now be still while I tend to your wound.”
“Wound? That scratch doesn’t deserve the name,” Gimli muttered.
“I need water and fresh bandages,” Legolas stated to the air. Gloin immediately left, presumably to fetch the required instruments.
It was fully a week before Gimli’s leg was healed enough that Legolas would allow him to rise, and then only upon the conditions that Legolas should always be with him, and that Gimli would not be on his feet for more than a half-hour at a time.
The elves were put up with and treated with cold politeness, though Dori, Nori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Dwalin hardly spoke to them, and did not speak at all to Maedhros and Legolas. Gloin, however, was courteous to them all, and did his best to make them welcome, though more for his son’s sake than from a genuine like for them. Thorin Stonehelm, the present King Under the Mountain, was also polite, but distant. He gratified every need that his strange guests might have, and generally kept out of their way.
Gimli witnessed this dislike of his friend with rising fury. Legolas knew the signs that Gimli was about to explode, and suggested a walk outside the Mountain now that Gimli was almost completely recovered. Once safely out of Dwarvish, though perhaps not Elvish, earshot, Gimli did explode.
After about five minutes of raving, Gimli calmed enough to allow Legolas a few words.
“ It’s not entirely their fault, Gimli. Our races have been prejudiced against each other sine the First Age.”
“ SO? Yes, dwarves and elves don’t as a rule like each other, but they could at least be civil!” Gimli roared. “They’re pointedly ignoring you!”
“Only those that were a part of Thorin’s party,” Legolas said, attempting to placate his friend. He was not affronted by the dwarves’ avoidance of speaking to them; in fact, he thought it perfectly natural, considering that they had been imprisoned by his father-- rather unjustly. “And your father is courteous enough. Besides, we won’t be staying here too much longer, and those of your kin that accompany us will grow used to the idea of elves as companions and friends. You certainly did.”
“I suppose,” Gimli grunted, still unconvinced but reconciled.
“And don’t say anything to them,” Legolas warned. “It won’t help.”
Two weeks later, twenty-six elves and twenty-six dwarves left the Lonely Mountain. Originally, Gimli and Legolas had planned to stop for a while in Mirkwood on the way to Gondor, but the addition of Nori to the group discouraged that idea. Frerin son of Balin, Gimli’s second cousin, was also accompanying them. He was young, only sixty-three, but his uncle Dwalin had approved his going with the company.
The party of elves and dwarves stopped in Laketown for a night, and there the elves acquired many arrows for their bows, having recovered few unspoilt from the dead Warg bodies.
It was a peaceful three months journeying. There was one minor skirmish with a hunting pack of ten Wargs, but the only result was that more than a few elves and dwarves were out of sorts because they had not gotten a chance at killing a Warg.
Maedhros amazed everyone by reciting eighty-five verses of the ancient Lay of Lethian from memory, which no one had ever done before. Legolas, not to be outdone, recited Bilbo's Earendil's Lay, and was beginning another ancient lay about Finrod Felagund when the dwarves, with Gimli as their spokesman, threatened to begin having singing contests all night. The elves quickly subsided.
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