16. Clutches of the Enemy
"Next we're goin' to stick yeh like a hedge hog."
"Then we're goin' to pickle yeh."
"An' smoke yeh."
Scaldo stopped shivering after the twenty-eighth threat. It had lost its novelty; now all he wanted was to get on with it. Dying, that is. It had to happen sooner or later. Like cake, Scaldo thought. You make it, it grows up, it's pretty for a while, and then you eat it. Inevitable, but you enjoy it while you have it.
They had gone down a different tunnel and out another door (supposedly one of those that only open from the inside for whatever reason), then walked a distance on the grainy stuff that gave way to more rock, while climbing higher and higher. The big water sunk below them.
But have I enjoyed my life? He had had everything he wanted. A beautiful old hole, four kitchens, a volumous pantry, a steady income not involving a sweat from his own brow, and all the eating pleasures possible. That was living, right? But in thinking of happy times only his childhood and the travels with the Dwarf came to mind. He had been happy traveling, though complexly, also footsore, hungry, toesore, dirty, and wet. There's irony for you, Scaldo Chubb. Yet... he still longed for a last piece of Grandma Chubb's cherry pie (and strawberries and cream, apple bread, sugar with tea, blueberry muffins, and a pound of sausages, besides.)
"May I ask something?"
The nearest dwarf sneezed and evilly blew his nose, and Scaldo decided that was an affirmative.
"Who is the Dwarf?"
"What did he do?"
"He took what was ours for himself. He tried robbing us of vengeance. He even..." The mean-dwarf's eyes crossed in disgust. "He even told a not-dwarf his true dwarf name."
"Is... is that all?"
"All? ALL! Worst of crimes! Disgusting! That a dwarf could go so low..."
"Surely you're not so decent yourselves."
"Shurrup. We may be exiles, but we've kept our most noble dwarven honor. Tis the way we must get along now. The world is become rotten: men, Elves, and other stink stinking up everywhere. Be as it is, dwarves must keep their honor. The day that goes, so does the sun's fires and the earth's foundations. I'd tell yeh more horrors, but 'ere we are."
They stood on a bare rock, looking out at the big water. A pile of wood was all that rested on it. Some dwarves began a fire on the wood, others took out a pot, and still others produced a jar. Scaldo began to think they had not been giving entirely empty threats.
"Mayn't I have one last meal?"
"Yeh don't look like yeh need it." The spokes-dwarf tapped his nose (not Scaldo's, though). "Tell yeh what, I'll show yeh what we plan to do. After we get finished with the preliminaries, we're goin' to roll yeh down this 'ere cliff and watch yeh sink. Don't want to shock yeh or nothin'."
The dwarves had out their knives. "Now," continued the spokes-dwarf, "Hold still, please."
With the most awful suddenness imaginable, the world went dark. The dwarves howled, some dropped their knives, in same cases on their feet, which made them howl the more. Those who were not jumping in agony were pointing behind Scaldo, towards the big water. Scaldo turned around and saw nothing particularly scary, besides the water. Then he looked up.
"There goes the sun."
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.