The Blue Mountains were not a beautiful place for men, but it was for dwarfs. They had built a nice and secure city in for them. A city that most of the dwarfs could call home after they lost Erebor.
A young girl dwarf walked around the market, looking at the different stands settled in. Her face and hair were covered by a grey scarf, only showing her ice-blue eyes. She stopped in front of a stand that sold some jewellery with precious stones. The girl reached for a pair of earrings with an amatiste hanging from them.
"Those are the most beautiful earrings that you would ever see." The owner of the stand told her. "And I also have a ring that matches them perfectly. You can try them." The man walked to her and tried to take the scarf out of her face but she stopped him quickly, walking away from him. "Oh my lady, you will adore them. They are worth for a princess."
"I'll take them." She said and looked for a small bag. "15 gold coins." She handed it to the man. He realized in her white and thin hand. The man took the bag happily and gave her the earrings and the ring.
She turned around to keep her walk when a bunch of dwarfs hit her, making her to fall down. They apologized and took her arm to help her out, taking also the scarf, revealing her face. They went silent and looked at her with horror and disgusting faces. She covered her face and ran away from there as she heard the mean things they were shouting at her.
She got to her house and once inside she started crying. She took out the scarf and threw it away as she walked to her room where she locked herself in. For a moment, she saw her reflection in a mirror. It was true that she was different from the other dwarves, but she did not consider herself disgusting. She did not have big hands and feet, neither a beard as the other girls of her age. But she had the same height and those big ears. She covered the mirror with range and laid on her bed.
"Dammit dwarfs!" She shouted.
"Brine?" Someone knocked on the door. Brine hid her head under the pillow. It was too early to wake up. "Brine." They knocked again. She did not answer. She heard as the person on the other side of the door opened it and came in. "Come on Brine! You need to start to get ready." Brine recognized that voice. Her aunt could be very persistent if she did not obey.
"Get ready for what?" Brine asked getting out of the bed and covering herself with a robe. Her aunt walked to the window and drawn back the curtains. Brine had to close her eyes as the sunlight came in. She complained about it but her aunt did not hear her. "What's going on today?"
"Don't you remember? Lord Dain is coming today. He wants to make you a proposal." Brine's aunt answered happily. Brine sat down in her bed playing with her hair doing little braids. She had a clear idea about that proposal. Since she got 75, it was not strange for her to hear about those proposals. She was a wealthy heir of the family fortune since her parents died 20 years ago. That explained why she had a lot of proposals. However, when they saw her, they decided to reject her.
"It won't be different this time." Brine told her aunt. She only desired to join to an important family just to get a title. She did not care the man, just the title, and Lord Dain would give her that title. After all, he was the King of the Iron Hills.
Her aunt ignored her a took her to the bathroom where a tub waited with hot water. She almost threw Brine to it.
"You have to be perfect for him. This time, your uncle did not need to persuade him to ask for coming. He was the one who asked!" Brine's aunt was more excited. It was true that the men who came to ask for her came because her uncle looked for them.
After a while, she exited the bathroom with roses smell. Her aunt told her they were the favourite flowers of Lord Dain. When she got to her room, a green dress waited on her bed. It had gold leaves embroidered in the skirt and at the end of the sleeves. With the help of her maid, she put it in. The green of the dress made more intense her red hair. After that, she sat down on a bench in front of the mirror and waited for her maid to braid her hair.
"What do you think he will say?" Brine asked her maid faking a smile.
"That you are the most beautiful dwarf he had seen." Her maid answered as she hugged her by her shoulders. Her name was Zirb. She was a girl from the men and about the same age as Brine. It was going to be sad for her to say goodbye to Zirb once the time came. Brine pat her hands and forgot the conversation.
Lord Lovelace sat in the main room with a pipe in his hand and a lit chimney in front of him. He got his title after his brother's death. It was some years ago, after a hard winter. Brine was not old enough to come into the title, so he was the second chance. As King of the Blue Mountains, he had to look for the correct allies for his people. In front of him sat Lord Dain, from the Iron Hills.
"As I was saying, he is the perfect dwarf for you," Dain said. He had a good reason why he was proposing that marriage to Lord Lovelace. It was said that Thorin Oakenshield was forming a group to take back Erebor. If he got it, the rest of dwarf's kingdoms would disappear, remaining only the landlords. Dain had to ensure that none of the dwarf kings would rebel against Thorin. "He is my cousin nephew, a Durin's son," Dain said proudly.
Brine walked in followed by her aunt. Her head down. Lady Lovelace smiled politely and turned to her. She ordered Brine to act like a lady. Brine sighed and erected herself.
"Lord Dain." Lady Lovelace bowed. Brine did the same but said nothing as she sat down next to her uncle. She felt Dain's eyes on her.
"She is different," Dain said after a long silence. A small smile grew on Brine's face. She knew he would reject her like the others. "But she will fit in." Brine looked at him with open eyes.
"What?!" She could not believe she was hearing right.
"Brine!" Her aunt called her. "Behave your mouth." She turned then to Lord Dain. "I'm sorry, my Lord. She is just astonished. We are used to receiving some proposals for her, but we are not used to having Brine accepted after seeing her." Lady Lovelace explained to him.
"It is true that she has not a long beard, and that her hands and feet are too small. But it is the only chance to join our families."
Brine looked seriously at Dain and her uncle. She was about to complain but Lord Lovelace spoke.
"Then, it is arranged. Brine will do it." He lent out his hand and Lord Dain shocked it.
Brine stood up with a red face. She walked away from the room to the stable. It was where she got when she needed to calm down. She approached her poney. Its brown fur shining because of the moonlight.
"How dare them? Me, marrying a man that I don't know. He is almost 100 years older than me!" She hopped on her poney and ride to a lake near the house. It was something that she was used to doing when she felt troubled. She loved long rides and with the moonlighting the road.
The lake was far than she thought. Her poney was thirsty and she could not find her way back. She did not recognize the place and she concluded that she got lost. Brine got down her horse and walked to a nearby inn. She thought that it was better to look for the way back in the morning. Brine heard her stomach growling. She was hungry.
"The Prancing Poney." Brine read loud and looked at the different creatures that came in. They were mostly men and some dwarves. "I think we should better wait till tomorrow for going back home, don't you?" She asked her poney and walked in.
The place was crowded but at the back, she found a quiet table. Brine sat next to the wall as she heated herself. The autumn was ending and the nights were getting colder.
A man approached her and bring Brine a cup of ale. She looked up at him to reject it but she thought it was better to shut up. Brine did not want to call foreign attention.
The hours passed by and the men and dwarves begun to leave the inn. It was almost empty except for a dark dwarf that was sitting on the opposite corner of the inn. A tall man with grey tunic joined him. It was quiet and Brine could overhear some parts of their conversation.
"We are going to get back Erebor." The dwarf said with a low voice. "We need to go back home. We are tired of being around in places that we cannot call home." The grey man waited in silence, as thinking about the dwarf's words. Taking back Erebor was something crazy that only a specific dwarf would do that thing.
"Then let me help you, Thorin Oakenshield." The man said. Brine listened carefully. If it was true that he was Thorin, it meant that he was her King. Every dwarf's King. An idea came to her mind. If Thorin got back to Erebor, she would lose her title. A smile grew on her face. If she lost her title she would not need to marry Lord Dain. She could be free at last.
Brine stood up and walked out of the inn. She did trust Thorin, but maybe she could help him in his journey too. There was only one problem. Thorin would not accept a woman in his group. He would see her weak and a distraction. Brine sat next to her horse thinking about a solution, playing with her poney's tail. She took it in her hands and begun to braid it but stopping suddenly. It was a dark tail. It could almost match her head.
"I'm sorry, Rose." She told her poney. "But I need this." Brine searched for a rock that she could use to cut the tail. It did not take her much time. She remembered seeing some jars with honey in that she could use to glue the tail to her face. She got up. The next thing she needed was other clothes. She could not pretend to be a man while wearing a dress. Near the inn was the owner's house. Brine looked around, finding some clothes hanging from a rope. They were wet. They must have been washed. "They are better than nothing." Brine sighed looking around, making sure that none was around. She changed her clothes, keeping the dress with her. Brine looked at herself reflected in a puddle on the ground. She was a perfect man dwarf.