2. The Ironfoot
In the deeps of the mountain the shield wall of the Iron Hills held. An ear tilted within the high-crowned helm, sifting the frenzied clamour of the goblins and the low murmur of the dwarves. Within the deep coppery beard a jaw tightened. Hooding about the contemplative shadow within them, the dwarf's eyes hardened. The young Prince shrugged his shoulders beneath the weight of hauberk and gorget, watching the flickering torchlight at the end of the hard-won passage grow nearer, and hearing the echo in the passages of his father's legion chanting the name of the orc-captain whose blood they sought to shed. The legion under the banner of Dáin son of Náin remained quiet, allowing their axes to speak -a grim speech of vengeance and immoveable resolve. Prince Dáin of the Long March needed only to wait now. The moment for chaos was at hand but not yet ripe. What must be done now needed only to be done.
The presence of the living rock overhead was a cool comfort to the Prince. Reaching a gauntleted hand to touch the wall and then his heart. Final resolve hardened, his breath whistled through his nostrils into his swelling chest: if Dáin son of Náin was to meet his end in this battle there could be no place more appropriate for his lifeblood to be spilt than at the roots of the mountains. Nor was there a cause more worthy than retribution for the desecration of the Heir of Durin, goodly and venerable Thrór, the brother of Dáin's grandsire. Those of the legion had all known Thrór: the passion of his voice and the wonders that his hands crafted. In memory and grief for the loss of this the legion bought vengeance at the expense of blood and lives; had thus driven the goblins occupying Gundabad down to the central chamber of that ancient dwarf-mansion where in the open hall the berserkers of the Iron Hills were to be finally set loose, with Dáin son of Náin at their head. Arrayed about him his body-guard stood now, steady and erect, solid and deep-rooted as the mountain itself.
A hail of arrows greeted the shieldwall as it issued from the passage, the bloodied shields and long shadows of the dwarves like pitch pouring into the chamber, and at the fore striding heedless of the arrows was Dáin, a red glimmer in his hand -the spark to set the pitch alight- the scarlet axe Bundutarag, the bloodbeard, unbelted now with a great cry. But even in that valiant moment, of the unveiling of the wrath of Dáin of the Long March, Prince of the Line of Durin, so his father erupted from the other reach of the chamber. The voice of the Heir of the Iron Hills went up in the Hall of Gundabad, its sound leaving the very eyes of the orcs watering, and their ears ringing. "Who is this living in our most ancient home? Where is the tennant?" Demanded Náin son of Grór, levelling the thorn atop his mattock at the Great Captain of the orcs. The bloodied glitter of his hauberk, and the moan of his mattock in the air was a terror to behold. But if the rabble of the orcs had all been slain before that hour, now the dwarves were met with the captains of the Gundabad-Orcs and their body guards. Arachnid-like, each captain stood behind his clustered guards wielding a long spear, arrayed before him a dauntless orc with an axe in each hand and another with a buckler and a sturdy knife, in this fashion the orcs fought, like one creature with many perilous limbs. But the orc-gangs had not reckoned with the wrath of the Folk of the Iron Hills who had long contemplated this hour, and had kirtled themselves against the need for recklessness. Indeed the Heir of the Iron Hills allowed the blows of the orcs to fall upon him, while about him fell dauntlessly many a dwarf. But the gorget and the peerless mail of the Heir withstood every stroke, so that he strove against the Great Captain, whose spear and axes were turned by the armour in a shower of sparks. Náin laughed at the Orc Captain and smote him down with a single mighty effort.
The Prince, who knew that his father would seek to bring the Great Captain down, sought with his own Legion to ensure his father's spear-head attack was not turned into a rout. In this way, reckless as the Legion of Náin had been, the orcs of Gundabad were caught as between the hammer and the anvil, and were shown no quarter. The meeting of the father and his son was a glad one.
"Hail Dáin! My Son! Let it never be forgot that you are here! How may miles have you marched? My tireless scion, forever marching! The Ironfoot I style thee, dauntless son in whom I am well pleased!" Spoke the Heir of the Iron Hills.
Dáin knelt before his father. "I did not come for thanks or praise Sire. You honour me greatly. I came that you would command me lord."
Náin took his son's hand, lifting him to his feet. "Rise Ironfoot. To Azanulbizar!"
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