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Personal diary of King Durin VII
Day 1st of the Ninth month, Year 672, Fourth Age of Middle-earth
This is the last entry of my diary that I write in my study in Erebor. Starting from tomorrow, my cousin Thruri will rule the people who remain here. This place will remain our stronghold east of Greenwood the Great. The foundations of the mountain are rich enough and new generations will be able to exploit ore and precious metals for many more centuries; trade with people of Esgaroth can continue to bloom for a long time in the future. About a quarter of the people chose to stay, at least for now, and I'm sure they'll thrive.
The remaining three quarters – a little more than seven thousand – decided to follow me. I will lead, and together we'll reclaim the kingdom under Zirakzigil. Sounds of our hammers will echo again under the Misty mountains.
All the preparations are done. I am ready, the people are ready, and tomorrow we start our journey. Tonight I will lie down in my bed in Erebor for the last time, and tomorrow I'll make the first step to become the new King of Khazad-dûm.
The morning was beautiful and sunny, and it seemed like that the sun itself wanted to enhance the beginning of this journey. The King stood at the head of the procession, ready to go. He didn't manage to get much sleep; he was awake for most part of the night, thinking about the quest that was to start in the morning. In fact, he hadn't spent a sleepless night ever since the time when he had made his proclamation and started to work out all sorts of plans, but this night was certainly not like the others. And yet, he wasn't feeling tired. He was in a great mood, full of energy, and eager to make the first step.
He stood straight and proud – Durin VII, named after the very first one of their whole people. His hair and beard, braided in many complex plaits, were dark brown, almost black, and his wide expressive face and eyes were very much like to his ancestor. According to the ancient prophecy, he was the last to bear the name Durin, and also the one to do many great deeds.
Next to him stood Dirhild, the Queen. Earnest and equally brave and ready to face the challenges of the quest like him. Behind them there were his pride and joy: Noin, his son and heir, Ernis, his daughter and Noin's just a few minutes younger twin, and finally Bergvi, his youngest son. He was just a child – although being twenty-eight, he thought the opposite – and he wouldn't participate in any fighting. But Durin knew that both of his older children, together with him, would lead their people in tunnels of Khazad-dûm.
Watching his older son, he was sure that he would leave his people in good hands one day. Noin was just as passionate as him when it came to history of their people, and he spent countless hours studying it. He had yet to learn a lot about ruling, but he was still very young; he and his twin were only fifty-four. Noin was a little hasty sometimes, but even Durin was like that when he was that age, so he wasn't worried. Wisdom and experience would come later, with age.
Being a girl and a little smaller, Ernis was just slightly less strong than her brother, but she was certainly equally skilled. Although there had been no wars for centuries, the tradition that the members of royal family go through military training was preserved, so it applied to Durin's children too. Ernis went through equally demanding tuition as her brother from the very beginning; when the King, observing the training on the first day, noticed that the instructor spared his daughter, he rebuked him the same evening. From the next day the girl had the same treatment as her brother, and she too often had bruises after the training. But that was the King's daughter, second in line for the throne. She was expected to give her maximum and nothing less than that, and she grew into a strong, capable and confident young woman.
Everything was ready. The King didn't look back; it was time to look forward and only forward. He sent silent farewell to Erebor, and then lifted his foot to make the first step. Their great quest had just started.
The long procession of dwarves moved southward. Darri son of Brirvin walked somewhere near the end of the long procession, and next to him there were his brother and parents. He was unusually tall for a dwarf, and except for his height, he also stood out in the masses because of his light-brown hair, fairer than the big majority of dwarvish people, which he inherited from his mother. His brother, seven years younger, was more like their father – dark-haired and shorter.
Of course, everyone knew the route set by King Durin: they would travel southwards to the beginning of the Old Forest Road. There, they'd turn west and would follow the road through Greenwood the Great to the Old Ford on the Anduin on the other side of the forest, and after that they'd go south all the way to Khazad-dûm.
Darri was not overjoyed with the plan – more precisely, with the part including the forest. And he was not the only one. Yes, the evil once dwelling in Greenwood was eradicated so long ago that, to Darri's generation, that time felt like ancient history. And not just to us, but even to our parents and grandparents, he thought, remembering the way the older generations spoke of that time. Six and a half centuries was a lot of time, and the name Mirkwood was almost forgotten. But still, not a single dwarf was happy about travelling through the elvish forest; some old prejudices were rooted so deep that it was difficult to dismiss them even after all those centuries of peace. Darri concluded that he would be happiest once the forest remained behind them, when they reached the plain in the west. Forests were for the elves, at least for those few who still dwelt in Middle-earth, and not for the dwarves; it simply wasn't their environment.
He knew that, if they really wanted to avoid passing through the forest at all cost, it would be possible to do it. However, the alternative route from Erebor to the Old Ford – the one that led around the forest, following its northern and western edge – was at least a hundred miles longer, and practical things like the amount of their travelling reserves were much too important to be overlooked. The longer route was simply out of the question.
Darri and Faldur were miners, just like their father and grandfather and many others in the long line before them. Now the whole family followed the King on this quest; Darri and his brother wanted new adventures, and even though they weren't young any more, their parents were also attracted to the possibility of living in Khazad-dûm.
With each step, Erebor remained further behind them. Tali, his mother, looked back several times. Darri didn't; he thought only of the future, and as soon as they set off, he wanted to watch only forward. In his mind, he created images of tunnels and shafts, imagined wagons carrying ore and gems, and saw himself digging and finding truesilver. He firmly believed they'd make it.
Just like the others, his family didn't carry many things. Most important were supplies of food – dried meat and dried way-bread. There were spare clothes too, and some other little things necessary for the journey. Once they reclaim Khazad-dûm, craftsmen would make everything they'd need in their new homes.
Both axe and sword hung from his belt, and most others in the procession had at least one of those two. From what he was able to see, only children and some women were without weapons. The dwarves had no real army for a long time – in times of peace there simply was no need for that. But for the past twenty years they had been training in axe and sword fighting – since the day the King had announced his plans. Young and old, men and women – all of them were training. The King organized two big tournaments each year, and winners got suitable rewards. But the real, main reward for the whole people was that, after twenty years of practicing, they were no longer a group of miners, craftsmen and traders, but they turned into a people of well-trained skilful fighters – capable of defeating orcs in the Misty mountains.
They passed the Long Lake at its eastern side, and then went on next to the eastern bank of Celduin. By the end of the first day the lake remained behind them, and at the end of the second day they reached the forest. The entrance into it – the beginning of the Old Forest Road – was still further away to the south. They made the camp close to the forest edge.
Darri and Faldur were not sleepy after supper so they went for a short walk through the camp. There were many fires, the travellers ate their evening meal, laughter echoed around, and songs were heard here and there. Darri noticed a place where a big group sat forming a circle, and the narrator that sat in the middle was quite old; his hair and beard were almost white. The listeners, on the other hand, were mainly children. The area was lit with torches.
"...and so Celebrimbor challenged Narvi to a competition in arm-wrestling," said the old dwarf with a cunning smile. "You know, he was very tall, and also very strong for an elf. Of course, he had to be, otherwise he wouldn't be able to be a smith. And what do you think, who won?"
The old dwarf stopped and looked at his audience. Many of them merrily shouted, "Narvi! Narvi!"
"Of course!" exclaimed the narrator. "After all, neither elves nor men are a match to the strength of the dwarves! Celebrimbor couldn't believe it and he challenged Narvi two more times. Perhaps he thought that the first time he only had a bad day. Naturally, he lost again and again. And do you know what happened next?"
He stopped again, this time prolonging the pause. He observed his listeners, and the spark in his eyes bespoke, "Oh, you won't believe what comes next." The tension was palpable, and Darri didn't want to go further before he heard the answer. He cast a quick side-glance at his brother, and saw that Faldur was equally curious.
"And then..." As soon as the old dwarf continued, the murmur stopped and the children looked at him, holding their breath. "Then Fris, Narvi's wife, also beat Celebrimbor in arm-wrestling!"
Everyone burst into loud laughter, and some younger children applauded. Darri laughed too, delighted with the outcome of the story.
"But Celebrimbor was an open and friendly person, not vain at all," the story went on when the noise abated. "He and Narvi became best friends, and together they were creating..."
Although the anecdote was new to him, Darri did know the basic of the history of that period, so he gave a sign to his brother. He preferred to spend the evening with friends than to listen the stories.
"Let's help Bemir and Mami with that mead," he grinned.
"Of course. We don't want them to carry too heavy a burden," replied Faldur joyfully.
"Just like they'll help us with our own burden!"
With those words, the brothers went to find their friends.
Personal diary of King Durin VII
Day 4th of the Ninth month, Year 672, Fourth Age of Middle-earth
The third day of our journey just ended. We reached the entrance into Greenwood the Great. Days are long and there would be enough daylight for one more hour of walking; yet, I decided that we'd make camp before the entrance. Here, in the plain, there is much more space. I am familiar with the fact that there is almost no space next to the Old Forest Road, which means that, in those nights we'll spend in the forest, we'll have to camp on the road itself.
I will walk through the camp and talk to the people. I know that there are those who are afraid of the forest and need encouragement. I don't like it either. But this route is significantly shorter and we must use it.
Three days closer to the fulfilment of the dream. I can't wait to see the magnificent halls of Khazad-dûm. I've seen them in my dreams so many times, I've read so many descriptions in the old books that I know in detail how they look. But I am sure that no description is a match to their beauty in reality. Our beloved and never forgotten home, we come to you.
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