1. Last Stand
The doors shook yet again, and Ori could hardly imagine the terrors that loomed behind them, ready to force their way in. It was like a nightmare - a nightmare that was impossible to wake up from.
How could things have gone so wrong, to have an end like this? Moria - abandoned long ago by its inhabitants, a place that had once been so great. When Balin had announced his desire to reclaim it, Ori had supported him wholeheartedly.
Balin was no more. Oin was no more. And now the orcs crowded at the door, ready to wipe out the remainder of the dwarves who had dared enter their domain.
They had not been ready to take on Moria.
Ori coughed as dust entered his lungs. It choked him a little. "Where's *cough* the book?"
A nearby dwarf looked at him, as if he thought he was being addressed. But Ori spoke to himself.
He grabbed desperately for a worn tome lying nearby. This was the log-book of the colony. For a little over five years it had contained promising news. But now its last pages would contain Ori's last-minute account of how the dwarves had met their end. If any dwarves dared enter Moria gain, let them take warning from these pages.
If he didn't write it, nobody would, and nobody would know what had happened to them.
"How long?" he inquired of a passing dwarf.
The dwarf stopped and shook his head. "We can't hold the doors for much longer. It won't be long now. Today ends our quest for Moria."
"Then let us take as many orcs as we can with us." Ori's voice was quiet.
There did not seem to be room for more words at such a moment.
Ori wrote. And when he was done, he knelt next to Balin's grave, which lay in the middle of the chamber. "Mother, Father, Thorin, Fili, Kili, and Balin and Oin. My friends. Today I come to you."
Those were the last words he ever said out loud. For at that moment, the orcs forced their way into the room, and poured in until it seemed like there would be no end to their numbers.
If you had asked Ori how he felt at that moment, he wouldn't be able to answer you. Because all of a sudden, he wasn't afraid anymore. In fact, it was almost like he felt nothing at all.
He wasn't looking when an orc brought a club over his head, sending him into darkness. So this...this was death.
"Ori. Get up, lad."
He was lying on his back, and it wasn't dark anymore. Above him loomed a face. A face of a dwarf very young, yet oh so familiar...
Balin chuckled. "The one and only."
He looked so young. Ori couldn't remember seeing him so young.
"I hope you'll forgive me, Ori. If it wasn't for my foolish dreams of reclaiming Moria, you and so many others would be alive right now. Alive and well. Not to mention myself!"
Oh, yes. He was dead now.
"They chose to follow you," a nearby voice said quietly. "You can't blame yourself." This voice sounded even younger than Balin's did.
Balin looked like he would like to disagree, but he didn't get the chance. He was forced out of the way, and another person looked down at Ori. "Good evening, Ori. It's been a while."
"Of course," he gave a very familiar grin. Cheeky, yet pleasant. "As gorgeous as ever, of course."
Ori sounded almost bewildered. "I haven't seen you in...fifty three years!"
Balin came back into view. Ori could feel himself being lifted a little. "Up you get, then. We have a lot to do today."
Do? Do what?
Ori blinked and looked around. He stood in a vast - eternally vast and beautiful land, a land that was hard to stop looking at. A land where nobody would die again.
Around him stood Balin and Kili. Fili stood close to his brother, looking on with a smile. Thorin stood next to the two in silence. Oin was behind them. And his parents were closest to where he stood, his parents, whom he could hardly remember.
"You're here. All of you."
"All of us," his mother said, and she came to embrace him. "How we have missed you."
Once she had pulled away, Fili took one of Ori's arms, and Kili took the other. "Like Balin said, we have a lot to do. Or show you more like," Fili said. "There are things to see and do which are familiar to you. And things that now you are dead, can be discovered."
"And there are plenty of single women," Kili added, almost slyly.
"Single women!" Oin scoffed. "Indeed!"
"Oin is still a sworn bachelor," Fili commented. "But you could never tell when he's in company. I saw the looks he was giving this one lass..."
Ori's friends were much the same as he remembered them. Friendly, yet serious when circumstances required seriousness. Talented, and dedicated.
He looked forward to spending eternity with them.
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.