Here it is - the very first chapter of my next epic Middle-earth story! All the Khuzdul you're gonna see appears courtesy of the hard work of The Dwarrow Scholar.

1. Dush Nurtu

He was just sitting down at the desk in his study when Manwë, High King of the Valar, felt…disturbed.

Not one given to flights of fancy, he at first dismissed the feeling. Yet it remained with him throughout the morning and afternoon, and in fact grew stronger as the hours passed. Varda, his wife, was not remiss to his distracted state when they took supper together early that evening.

"My beloved, what troubles thee?" she asked.

"I do not know, wife," Manwë replied honestly. "An odd sense of foreboding has plagued me since this morning. I cannot seem to shake it."

They were both of them startled when the door to the dining room burst open and through it came charging their fellow Vala, Mandos.

"Manwë, you must come quickly!" said the Keeper of the Dead. "They are coming—there are so many!"

Manwë, having stood on Mandos' entrance, hurried around the table with Varda on his heels. "Whatever do you mean? What's happening?"

"A great battle must be going on in Middle-earth," Mandos replied as he led them from the great house in which they lived. "Dwarves, Men, and Elves are appearing in my halls in great numbers, and at such a rate that Vairë cannot keep pace in her weaving."

Manwë shared a glance with Varda—this could not be a coincidence. Such a thing did not happen among the Ainur.

"Have you questioned any of the new arrivals?" he asked.

"Nay, I have not. The alarming speed at which they have come compelled me to fetch you straight away."

Varda, always the voice of reason, smiled gently and said, "Wars have been fought in Middle-earth before, Námo. You know this."

He shook his head vigorously as the three approached the Halls of Waiting. "True that may be, my sister, but my intuition strongly protests the notion. I fear some great evil is at the root of this."

Together they hurried to one of many rooms where the newly dead arrived. Upon waking in the Halls of Mandos, most dwarves were then escorted to the Great Forge of their creator, Aulë, by one of their kin who'd passed before them. Elves would be given duties in the Halls for a time, and Men soon were called to the plane created for them by Eru. But so many had come that Mandos' aides were too busy trying to account for them all to be able to direct anyone to where they were supposed to go. More dwarves, elves, and men than could easily be counted were standing crowded together, all available seating having already been claimed.


A great, pained cry drew their attention. Manwë turned toward its point of origin and the crowd, perhaps sensing his power and authority, immediately parted to make way for him.

He came upon a golden-haired dwarf kneeling on the floor cradling another of his kin, the latter with hair of dark brown who moments later gasped and awakened.

"Brother!" the brown-haired dwarf cried softly.

The blond sobbed. "Why, Kíli? Why didn't you stay below like I told you to?!"

Kíli groaned as he sat up, then looked the other in the eye. "Fíli, I couldn't let that bastard Azog—"


All eyes turned to Manwë, who felt a great chill on hearing the name.

The one called Fíli scowled as he gazed upward. "Who are you?" he demanded.

A number of gasps sounded around him; Manwë merely raised an eyebrow before saying, "I am Manwë, child, the High King of the Valar."

Embarrassment colored the young dwarf's features. "Forgive me, my Lord. I meant no impertinence."

Pleased that Fíli was one of those dwarrow that respected Valar other than his maker, Manwë nodded. "Tell me of Azog. Why did you speak that name?"

The brothers exchanged a glance. "The pale orc was there at the battle, my Lord," said Kíli. "He led the dark forces."

"That's not possible," declared Mandos. "Azog is dead. He was beheaded at Azanulbizar by a young lad called—"

"Dáin, yes, we know," Fíli interrupted as he stood at last. He then held out a hand to his brother, helping Kíli haul himself to his feet. "He is our kinsman—not just as a dwarf, but like us of the House of Durin."

He then stepped toward Mandos as though indifferent to the Vala's greater height and the power he exuded, pulling at his clothing as he did so. "But you cannot tell me that I do not know the name of he who gave me this."

Like Manwë, Mandos merely raised an eyebrow. Fíli looked down at himself, a look of confusion crossing his countenance as he pawed at his chest.

"I don't understand. He impaled me with that thing on his arm…"

"And then threw you down to the stone landing at my feet, as though you were nothing more than a sack of flour," Kíli said bitterly. "How could I not make an attempt to avenge you, brother?"

They looked at one another for a long moment, then Fíli turned back to the Valar before him. "Why am I not marked?"

Varda offered a smile. "When you pass into the Halls of Waiting, child, you leave your earthly body behind. The wounds which took your life—all of your lives—" she said, encompassing the entire room in her gaze. "—do not accompany your honored souls to this blessed place."

"Are you certain the leader of the orc army was Azog?" Manwë asked.

Both Fíli and Kíli nodded. "Our uncle knew him. He had been certain also that our cousin had slain him," Fíli said. "But he must have been wrong, though I do not see how."

Manwë turned away from the two dwarrow, his thoughts churning. His wife placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"What vexes thee, husband?" she asked softly.

"The orc. His presence must have something to do with this strange feeling I've had all day," he replied, turning his gaze to hers. "Varda, I know something is very wrong. Azog should not have been present at this battle—he should have long been dead."

Taking a deep breath, he realized he would need to know more, details that would help him discern the cause of his mental discontent. Manwë turned and faced the Sons of Durin once more.

"Tell me, children, of this battle. What led to the conflict which has brought so many of you here?"

The brothers looked at one another, then around at the dwarves, elves, and men surrounding them. The group began to murmur amongst themselves—debating who should speak first—until a blonde elleth stepped forward, coming to stand next to Fíli and Kíli in the middle. She raised her arm across her chest, her hand over her heart, and bowed reverently.

"My Lord Manwë, I am Ellúrien, daughter of Aglaia," she said. "The Sons of Durin and their kinfolk retook the Lonely Mountain from the fire-drake Smaug. King Thranduil led us to Erebor to confront the naugrim, hoping to reclaim property that had once belonged to our late queen. Though truly our hope was to settle the dispute without bloodshed, he amassed the army of Mirkwood in the hope that sheer numbers would convince them to settle the dispute begun long ago."

Again the murmurs rose, then Fíli took up the narrative. "In truth the quest began months ago, in the spring, when our uncle Thorin declared he would at last quest to reclaim our ancestral homeland," he said. "It was within but a few weeks that we discovered Azog and his vile offspring were hunting us."

"I do not know much Black Speech," said Kíli, "but I know enough to understand that taking the mountain was not his only goal. When he…when he held Fíli prisoner, before he…"

The young dwarrow paused, lowering his head to hide the tears that had pooled in his eyes. His brother clapped a hand on his shoulder, and after a moment Kíli shored himself up, taking a deep breath, and then went on. "He said 'So ends your filthy bloodline'. He was after us—specifically us, my brother and me. And our uncle."

"It surprises me not, my Prince," said an older dwarf warrior, stepping toward them as he spoke. "The Line of Durin—especially the senior line, from which you, your brother, and the king hail—is the most powerful of all our kin."

"Indeed," said Ellúrien. "The power lies within your line to not only unite the seven families, but also achieve peace with my kin. Years—decades even, it may have taken—but it was entirely possible."

Manwë nodded even as a more deeply disturbing thought occurred to him. "Indeed. Peace would have—"

He was interrupted as a light flashed, announcing the arrival of yet another of the dead. When it faded, there were numerous loud gasps among the dwarves. Fíli and Kíli spun around, both of them crying out in anguish as they fell to their knees.

The figure on the floor was Thorin Oakenshield.

The brothers fell prostrate over his body as their kinsmen began falling to their knees in homage of their slain king. The doom that had chased him throughout the day seized Manwë in an iron grip as he stared down at the scene before him.

"Eru be merciful," said Mandos softly.

"It would seem it is too late for such a plea, my Lord," Ellúrien said.

Manwë turned to his fellow Valar. "Mandos, do not release the dwarves to the Great Forge until I give you leave. Varda, go there and do whatever you must to keep Aulë from coming to the Halls of Waiting."

"Manwë, by now I am sure he knows something is amiss," Varda said. "You know how closely he follows the lives of his children."

"That is precisely why I desire he not come here, nor discover that the senior line of Durin is ended, for you know they are the favorite of his sons. At least not yet," Manwë countered. "I must meditate on these events, if not go so far as to plead an audience with Ilúvatar. I fear we have been blinded to a great evil."

He turned and left with Varda at his side in the same moment that Thorin awoke.


Thorin gasped a deep breath as he returned to consciousness. He blinked rapidly to clear his sight, noting two disturbingly familiar figures hovering over him.

Fíli…and Kíli.

Mahal, why? he cried silently. Why could not at least one of my sister-sons be spared?

"A dark day has fallen," he heard a voice say off to his left. "The Line of Durin is ended."

Grief for their lives cut short clamped his heart, but Thorin pushed it aside as he made to sit up. Mourning for what had been lost would have to wait. Looking around more attentively, he noted he was on the floor.

"Could I not have come to the Halls of Waiting in a bed, at least?" he grumbled.

A chuckle sounded and he looked up…and up…into the face of the fairest male he'd ever laid eyes upon.

"Forgive the method of your arrival, Thorin Oakenshield," said the figure. "There are sadly too many newly deceased to arrive on this day for everyone to have the comfort of a bed to awaken upon—I could not even summon loved ones to greet everyone as normally I would. More agreeable accommodations will be forthcoming to all in due time."

If that many were dead, then it was a dark day indeed. But as aggrieved as he was by this news, he would not be wholly uncomforted, for he had seen the enemy in flight from the battlefield before he had fallen.

Victory. Erebor had been defended and returned to the keeping of his kin.

"Fair enough," he replied with a nod. "May I ask your name? For you have me at a disadvantage, sir."

The figure inclined his head. "I am Mandos, Keeper of the Halls of Waiting."

Thorin nodded his head respectfully, then turned it to gaze at his nephews. "Forgive me," he said, his heart once again squeezing in his chest to see them at his side.

Fíli blinked tears from his eyes. "For what do you apologize, Uncle?"

"I should have left you both behind, taken two other strong dwarrow into my company," Thorin replied. "For then we would not all of us be here. It was foolish sentiment that led you to this perilous end."

Kíli reached out and grasped his hand. "No, Uncle, do not blame yourself. It was our great desire to join you on the quest—our end was by a choice of our own making. Had you left us behind, we would only have followed you anyway."

He had to smile at that—Kíli would certainly have done such a thing, and Fíli would have gone along in order to keep his brother out of too much trouble. Dís was forever telling him to look after Kíli.

"My only regret is that in dying, we have left our dear mother alone," Fíli said quietly.

Kíli's eyes filled again. "Mahal, I made her a promise," he said, choking back a sob. "I promised her I would come back. She'll be devastated."

Thorin watched as his expression shifted, and suddenly Kíli looked around them. His eyes came to rest on the blonde female elf standing nearby. "Ellúrien, did you say your name was?"

The elf nodded. "I did."

"Tauriel—do you know her?"

Ellúrien nodded again. "Indeed I did. May it lighten your grief, young dwarf, to learn that she is not among the dead this day."

"Not yet," Fíli murmured.

Kíli punched his brother in the shoulder. "What?" Fíli challenged. "I'm not wishing her dead, just saying that it could still happen. Even if the battle is ended, there are no doubt a great many wounded. Hundreds, if not thousands, could still add to the number already here."

"It grieves me to agree with you, child," Mandos spoke up. "Let us all pray that number is smaller yet. I will go now and see that arrangements are made for everyone."

The Vala bowed his head and turned to leave. Thorin sighed and pushed to his feet and his nephews followed suit. He turned to them fully and, raising his hands to each of their heads, drew them to him, touching his brow to theirs.

"Forgive me also, my sister-sons, for being the smallest measure pleased that you are here with me. For I would have missed you terribly," he whispered.

"And we would have missed you, Uncle," Fíli replied.

The three of them stood that way for many minutes, and then Thorin stood back and let his gaze roam around the room. Dwarves were rising all around him and coming closer as elves and men were stepping back.

"Know this, my brothers," Thorin said, addressing his kin. "Know also each man and elf in this room," he added, drawing their attention back to him.

He took a breath, his eyes traveling again as he spoke. "Know that you all died not in vain, but for a purpose. Erebor is saved. Dale is saved. Mirkwood is saved. In my last moments of life, I witnessed the defeat of our common enemy. Azog the Defiler is dead for certain, his pathetic life ended by my own hand, and his army was escaping the field of battle even as I was called to this place."

A raucous cheer went up amongst the dwarves as a male elf pushed his way to the fore of the crowd.

"Why didn't you just give our king the jewels that already belonged to him?" he demanded. "Why didn't you give the men what you promised them? There'd many of us not be dead now had it not been for you, dwarf!"

The closest dwarves began to shout in protest, and a few made to confront the elf. Thorin stayed their charge by stepping between them and the speaker, his stare firm. After they stilled, he turned and faced his accuser.

"I make no excuses for my actions," he said.

"Thorin, you cannot be serious!" cried one dwarf.

"Why are you being so bloody generous? He's an elf!" declared another.

Kíli stepped forward. "So what if he is an elf?" he said hotly. "Are we not all of us dead? Did we not all die fighting in the same battle against the same enemy?"

"Kíli is right—and so are you," said Thorin to the angry elf. "Though for many days my mind lay trapped in the madness of dragon sickness, it was my choices—my actions—that led us all to this fate. I was blinded by hate and greed that the dragon sickness fed upon, and there are many here who might elsewise not be had I not been so easily led astray."

He turned then and once more encompassed all he could within his gaze as he said, "We are all of us here fallen warriors—dwarf, elf, and man alike. My brothers… Many more would be dead at the hands of the orc army had the men and elves not stood with us. They defended our homeland as well as their own and gave their lives for the safekeeping of those we left behind. Even I, who have long despised elves and thought little of men, can and must see that those who fought at our side have in each of them the same willing heart as any dwarf here."

The stout, white-haired dwarf who'd spoken to Kíli earlier stepped forward again. "Death has made a philosopher of you, Thorin. Nevertheless… Well said, laddie."

Thorin laughed and moved to embrace him. "Targo, you old warg!" he cried as he clapped the dwarf on the back. "Yours is another face I regret that I am pleased to see."

Targo nodded as he stepped back from him. "And I you, my King. Also, I daresay we shall both of us be feeling that sentiment many more times before the day is over—though in my case, if it had not been that blasted orc scimitar, I don't think I'd have been too long away from these halls. I'm an old dwarrow, Thorin. No doubt Mahal would have called me home before too long."

"And where is our Maker?" asked another dwarf. "With so many of our kin here, you'd think he would come. Do we not still have his favor?"

"I have no doubt you do, Master Dwarf," spoke up Ellúrien. "However, you must have missed Lord Manwë's order that he be kept from this place for a time."

"I don't get that," said Fíli. "Why would he desire to keep him from seeing to the comfort of his children?"

"Because the Line of Durin is the most favored of Mahal's sons," said Targo.

"And I suspect even the High King of the Valar fears how his brother will react once he discovers the three of you are dead," Ellúrien added, her tone both solemn and foreboding.


Dush Nurtu - Dark Day


naugrim - dwarves