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Reclaiming Khazad-dûm  by Ellynn

Personal diary of King Durin VII
Day 22nd of the Ninth month – morning, Year 672, Fourth Age of Middle-earth

It's been half a day since my last diary entry. So many things have happened. Both good and bad.

During the night and morning we started to conquer the Second Level. A little while ago I received the reports: almost the whole First Level is in our hands, and on the upper battlefield, we conquered the two halls of the Fifth Level. But with a high price. Higher that I thought it would be.

Yes, I knew that we couldn't reclaim our home without victims. But after a few relatively easy victories, I thought it would be equally simple until the end. However, the orcs managed to consolidate themselves and prepared some cunning traps. I got the report about the fiery trap on the beginning of the Fifth Level. If Koddi hadn't been cautious and realized the threat, it would have been a disaster. Thanks to him, there are not many casualties – at least not because of the fire.

But he was on the front of the squad and too close to the explosion, and he is among the dead. It gives me great sadness. I knew him well; he was a loyal, devoted officer, and will be missed by all of us.

Nardi's condition is unchanged; he is still unconscious, and Frur tells me that he still can't make any prognosis. I hope he'll be all right and I pray to Mahal for that outcome. He saved my life, and I'll owe him forever.

And now... we go further.



It was mid-afternoon when Halldis got a pause for that day. She had been working since the dawn; she helped the healers in the Twenty-first Hall for one part of the day, and another part passed in preparing meals and washing the used towels. She noticed some new faces – there were new wounded from the most recent battles, and the hospital was full. As the time was passing, she noticed tired fighters going out to take their break, and the fresh squads were entering to fight further. She also heard news about the fire and explosion and those who died in it. She hadn't seen Darri since last night – since the moment he went into battle – and she thought of him all the time. And of her brother, Tyra, and others.

I hope we just missed each other. While working in the hall, she was focused on her tasks and couldn't watch who was passing through. It was also possible that Darri wouldn't notice her if she was hidden from his view in the moment of his passing by. I hope that is the case. Mahal, please let it be so.

When her break started, she went out hoping to find him among those resting in the camp. The sky was covered with grey clouds and the day was quite gloomy. A lot of soldiers were resting on their sleeping bags, some were eating, and some were sitting and talking. She went around, looking on all sides, but didn't find Darri. And her fear grew.

Maybe he is in battle again, she thought, trying to encourage herself. I'll search for him again later. Until then, I'm going down to the lake. She had already decided earlier that during this break she'd look for Glorrim and Tyra. And just when she meant to start her descend towards the Eastern Gates, she noticed the blond hair on one sleeping bag. She quickly headed that way and, as she came closer, with a sigh of relief she realized it was Darri. He was sleeping, and no matter how much she wanted to hug and hiss him, waking him up was out of the question. She just observed him for several moments. She immediately saw that he had left the whole upper part of his body uncovered – his skin was reddish. Then she noticed that his beard and hair were a little burned, and her eyes widened. So, he was among those hurt in the fire, too, she thought and shivered. But it seemed that his burns were only superficial and that he was quite well.

Sleep and rest. I hope to see you later. She cast a glance around and noticed his brother and friends, who were sleeping too. Then she turned around and went down the mountain. She took huge steps wanting to arrive quickly, but after she fell for the second time, she realized she should be more careful. Although she wanted to find her family and friends as soon as possible, it was more than obvious that hurry wouldn't help her. Quite the contrary, Halldis. Slow down.

The camp beneath the Eastern Gates was much bigger than that on the Seventh Level, so the searching lasted longer. She crossed about one half when she saw her brother. He was sitting on his sleeping bag, and next to him there were their cousins; all of them were eating. A wide smile lit her face, a huge weight fell off her heart and she ran towards them. At that moment she didn't care about what Glorrim thought of hugging in public. She knelt next to him and hugged him tightly.

"Oh Glorrim, you are all right," she whispered when she sat next to him. She didn't stop smiling. But one person was missing, and Halldis turned to Glorrim. "Tyra?" she asked in fear.

"She was here until just half an hour ago," her brother answered. "That was when we arrived here, and she went back on duty."

"Oh, I'm so sorry I didn't see her... I hope she'll be fine." She looked at her brother, studying his face. "You are all right? Not injured?"

"I am fine. Don't worry," he responded shortly, and then continued to eat.

Halldis saw they got bread, cheese and roast meet. She fell silent and waited until they all finished their meal, and then turned to Glorrim again.

"What is going on inside? I heard some news from the upper battlefield – you know, I help the healers there, I am situated in the upper camp – but I don't know what is going on here. How are we progressing? Are there many orcs? Were you in great danger?"

He observed her for several moments.

"It can't go easy nor quickly. But we do progress slowly. We have already started to go upwards. The conquering of the Second Level has begun," he finally said.

Halldis noticed that he hadn't really answered her questions, but from the expression in his eyes, she realized he wouldn't say any more. And really, he changed subject.

"Tell me about you. How do you spend these days?" asked Glorrim.

"As I mentioned, I work on the Seventh Level", said Halldis. "I do all the auxiliary tasks. And that is great. I am happy that my time is fulfilled completely. Otherwise, I'd be crazy with worrying."

"And everything is good?" He paused and looked at her. It seemed as if he was looking for the right words. "The lad is fine?"

She hid a smile.

"Yes, he is," she nodded.

"Yes. Yes. Good," he muttered in a low voice, looking somewhat confused, and Halldis had to bite her lip one more time not to smile openly. Glorrim's interest and showing of concern meant a lot to her.

She talked to her cousins for a little more, but very soon it was time to go back. She knew she'd need more time to climb than she needed for going down, and she hoped she'd be able to spend some time with Darri too. She hugged all of them before leaving, with the inevitable remark that they should be careful. As if they don't know it, Halldis, she rebuked herself in the very next moment. But she couldn't help it. She was worried for all of them, and she couldn't leave without uttering those words.

Then she began to ascend. The closer she was to the camp, the more she was smiling. She hoped that Darri would be awake and that she would find him before he had to go to the next battle. She knew they'd probably have only a few short moments together... but she couldn't wait to see him. Her smile became wider.

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