1. Heirloom of Power and Peril
I grin. Let him shout! Dread has come upon them. Bolg is here.
"Are the paths over the mountain still clear?" I ask Snagnash.
He nods. I grin even more fiercely and signal Gurthak to move out with the first wave. They sweep out around the spur of the mountain. Even if our enemies have the sense to start running now, the warg riders will catch them. I doubt they have the brains to do even that.
Those miserable little rock-grubbers thought they'd won such a grand victory at Azanulbizar. Much they knew! They nearly wiped us out that day, but the fools left the greatest prize on the field.
I was there when it happened. I had taken some of my best warriors into the valley when everything went wargshit on us. The last I saw of Azog, the dwarves and his bodyguard had more or less done for one another, but my father was still in fine form. He'd been having a little fun with Náin and the dwarf was pretty well spent by then. No hope for him. But when the dwarves - rot them and all their spawn! - got the better of us, then I realized Azog must be dead.
My so-called warriors were already scattering when Dáin came down the mountain with my father's head. I didn't wait to see what atrocities he was planning. I had to know the rest of it.
The headless body lay ignored beside the Moria-gate. Azog, great King of the Goblins, slayer of Thrór and Náin, was dead, killed by some brat of a dwarf! The beardling looked ready to puke as he came down the mountain, and so he should have. How that pathetic little grub could have slain Azog....
A courier gallops up on a panting warg. "Our troops are holding on, but they're at a standstill. The elves are attacking from the west, and the dwarves and men from the east. We can't make any headway as long as they hold the high ground."
"They won't for long," I tell him. I wave Snagnash over. "Time to send your lads over the mountain. Soften them up as much as you like, but try to capture the leaders alive. If you have to kill the elf or the human captains, do it, but I'll skin the fool that does Dáin in. Go."
Snagnash grins and bounds away. Behind him, the slopes turn black with orcs and I settle in to wait for the next report. They're not expecting anyone to come over the mountain. It'll be like stealing tethered cattle.
I've waited over a hundred years to pay them back for Azanulbizar. I will never forget creeping up to my father's body once I was sure they were gone. The fool of a dwarf had hacked off Azog's head but left his body untouched. The ring was still on his hand. The bastard hadn't even noticed the last of the Five.
I pulled the last Orc ring of power off my father's finger. Looking at it, I knew just what I was going to do with that power. The Dwarves were going to pay. Dáin was going to pay. How could he have done such a thing? He was barely even battle-ready as his people reckon it, but he killed the bearer of an Orc ring. Well, my people reckon battle-readiness differently. We're ready as soon as we can lift a sword or draw a bow. I was ready and then some. I put on the ring and went to rebuild my army.
It took decades. Azog had scattered his seed pretty widely, and some others of his get hadn't wanted to bow to me. I had to waste years dealing with them. Some of them searched in vain for one of the other rings, hoping they could challenge me with it. Ha! I could have told them that was hopeless. Azog made certain what had become of the rest. He wasn't one to leave anything to chance, except there at the last.
Dragons took two of them. They're cagey things, dragons, and they like the same sorts of lairs that we do. They knew the rings were a threat to them and they used to hunt the ringbearers and burn the rings and the bearers away to nothing if they caught them. No risk of that anymore, with the last of the great dragons dead. That bowman would cut his own throat if he knew what a service he's done me. If I catch him, I think I'll tell him so. That might make a good night's fun.
The other two Rings, the Dark Lord took back. Stupid maggots who had those got the idea that they could challenge him. He had to put them down then, didn't he? Azog was too sharp to be caught like that, and there's another thing I inherited from him. There's only one Dark Lord, but he needs a captain in the North. He needs me. Maybe I don't need him all that much, but I know better than to try to overthrow him. We get along.
After that, there were still more years of biding my time and rebuilding our colonies under Mount Gundabad, but now the day has come. The fools have killed Smaug for me, and they've all followed the dragon's bait into the trap, Men and Elves and Dwarves. Everyone who might oppose me is here, and they're hopelessly outnumbered.
The Elves and the Men are a nuisance, but we'll deal with them, and then I'll capture Dáin. Oh, yes, he'll be taken alive. Every orc in the North knows Dáin is mine. Patience has been a filthy nuisance, but the reward is so close now that it only adds a little spice to the dish.
Finally, finally the signal comes down from the ridge. Snagnash's troops are down the mountain and well into the defenders. My bodyguard moves out, following the first wave around the spur and into the mouth of the valley.
And it's easy. Almost too easy, after all the years that went into this day. Tethered cattle, indeed. We crash into them, driving them steadily back. They probably thought they only had ordinary goblins to deal with, but now they know better. Too late for them! The orcs of my bodyguard are the fiercest fighters of my people, and the power of the ring adds to their strength and turns our enemies into so much butter.
Then a trumpet sounds and my eyes go to the gate, just in time to see the stones blocking the gate come crashing down and more dwarves leap down into the fight. They cut through the lesser orcs, heading my way. I thought at first it was Dáin, but it's some other dwarf instead. He'll be sorry he got between me and my prey ... if he lives that long.
"To me! To me! Elves and Men! To me! O my kinsfolk!" he bellows, and the dwarves and men on the slopes scramble to join him.
"Do we take him alive?" one of the captains asks.
I shrug. "Your choice. I have no use for that one."
I've marked Dáin out now among the Dwarves that came down from the heights. The band from inside the mountain press ahead, fighting like madmen, but there's only a handful of them. No match for the warriors of my bodyguard. The fools have fought themselves too far out from the shelter of the mountain - we have them now! I bawl an order to one of the captains to cut off the stunted bastards' retreat, and send the bodyguard after Dáin.
Then the enemy starts chanting something about eagles. The filthy birds appear and fling my soldiers off the ridges, but they can't change the truth. We still outnumber them. I'm finally close enough to Dáin to put an arrow through him, if I didn't already have plans to see just how long a Dwarf can survive under torture.
No more easy going, but steadily we edge closer to my goal. Triumph roars through my blood and in my ears. It's only when a mountain of brown fur rolls past that I realize the noise isn't just in my head.
Dáin stared at the smoldering heap of orc carcasses. "Did they ever find Bolg?"
Gandalf shook his head. "Beorn tore Bolg and his bodyguard limb from limb. They are in there somewhere, but as for which bit belonged to whom...."
Looking up at the gate, Dáin frowned. "I suppose that will have to be enough. After all the harm his family has done mine, I wish I could have killed him myself, or at least seen his body. It doesn't feel finished, somehow." He looked back at Gandalf and smiled, saying, "No need to look so anxious. Beorn avenged my cousin well, and I have seen enough vengeance for several lifetimes already; I won't go looking for more."
Gandalf nodded and smiled in his turn. "That is just as well. Restoring Erebor will be task enough for a multitude."
The two walked back toward the front gate, discussing the rebuilding of Dale, never noticing the gleam of gold among the ashes.
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.