1. The Road Goes On
Sitting upon his pony, the young dwarf allowed himself a grumpy "harrumph" as he looked at the shattered waystone.
Once, this would not have happened.
Once, this stone would have been sacrosanct- a beacon in the wilderness to the unfortunate lost, a boon companion to the weary traveller returning home once more.
Once, there would have been no goblins in the hills to despoil it.
"That was then, this is now."
His bitter words hung in the mountain air like his breath, a fading phantom that sent a chill down his spine utterly unrelated to the blizzard he found himself enveloped by.
Somewhere in the storm, he heard a hideous cacophony of shrieks and cries, the hideous Black Speech of goblins up to no good. A grim cast falling across his features, the dwarf dismounted his steed, which whinnied at him as he did so.
He smiled at the animal, stroking its mane and shushing it before unslinging his deadly axe from where it lay across his back.
"Fear not, my friend- this is merely a diversion- I promise you we shall be home within the hour."
The animal snickered and showed its teeth, and the dwarf smiled.
"When have I ever lied to you?"
The pony whinnied again, and this time the dwarf laughed out loud.
"Fine! I shall swear it to you this time, then- what should I swear upon?"
The pony said nothing, but he had not expected it to- after all, for all its intelligence the beast was still just a pony. The dwarf smiled.
"How about this, then- I, Gimli (son of Glóin), swear to you that as soon as the last of these goblin scum are killed we shall head straight for home, with no distractions and no diversions, and that once we are home you shall have a warm stable, and good hay, and all your tiny brain can desire?"
The horse bucked its head at this last comment, and Gimli laughed.
"Or how about this- if you let me have my fun, I'll make sure I let you have yours the next time Barin son of Thorin's mare is in season?"
The horse whinnied, and Gimli laughed once more.
"Excellent. Now, stay here and be a good steed- I can surprise these goblin scum far more easily on my own."
Without waiting for a response, he turned and headed into the blizzard, blood singing a joyful chorus in his ears at the thought of the slaughter he was to wreak.
The pony snickered to itself.
Had there been anyone to see, they might have been surprised to see it rolls its eyes.
But then, they might not...
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.