1) "And the line of Dain prospered, and the wealth and renown of the kingship was renewed, until there arose again for the last time an heir of that House that bore the name of Durin, and he returned to Moria; and there was light again in deep places, and the ringing of hammers and the harping of harps (...).
Thus it was here that 'Durin the Last' emerged, and it is said of him that he returned from Erebor to Moria and re-established it (as is said in the accompanying genealogical table)."
"Peoples of Middle-earth", IV Durin's Folk
A mission like this requires a great number of dwarves, so I believe that at least several centuries must pass since the last wars (in the end of The Third Age), so that the population of dwarves can grow enough. The events in the novel happen in the 7th century of The Fourth Age (year 672).
2) Dwarvish new year occurs during October in our calendar, always on a different day (depending on the new moon), and their year is based on Lunar calendar. I decided that this year (in which the plot happens) started in the middle of our October, so Day 1st of Ninth month (time marked in the beginning of the next chapter – the beginning of the plot) matches the very end of our May.
3) In all dialogues between dwarves, it is assumed that they speak Dwarvish language. In dialogues with other peoples, it is assumed that they speak the Common speech (Westron).
As they speak Dwarvish between themselves, for all the geographic features for which we have the data (left by Tolkien), I use exclusively their names.
Tolkien wrote that dwarves had never revealed their word for mithril to anyone, and he didn't leave any hint for that particular word. As dwarves use their language in their thoughts and talks (as noted above), it is pretty sure that they wouldn't use an elvish word in such occasions. Truesilver is the closest that we can get, so I'll use that descriptive name. The word mithril will be used only in paragraphs of neutral narration.
4) Esgaroth (Lake-town) is no longer just a city in this story, but the whole kingdom. The premise that the population grows a lot in seven centuries does not apply only to dwarves, but to humans too. We can assume that new settlements grew around the Long Lake, and it is the same for Rohan, which spread northwards in this story and there are settlements close to Lothlorien. New villages grew elsewhere in Middle-earth, too.
5) Main characters are eighty years old (and some other characters are even younger). As dwarvish average life span is about 250 years, all of them are young (equivalent of mid- and early twenties of our life span), so words like "youngster" or "girl" that I use for 70- and 80-year-olds shouldn't be considered strange. Durin's older children are the equivalent of older teenagers of our world, while his youngest son is still a child.
I decided that Durin VII was born in year 532 of The Fourth Age, so in the year of the quest (672) he is 140 – in his prime.
6) The distances between various locations, as well as the dimensions of halls and tunnel lengths in Khazad-dûm, are taken from "The Atlas of Tolkien's Middle-earth" by Karen Winn Fonstad.
There are writings in LotR about the First and Second hall of the First level, as well as about the Twenty-first hall on the final, Seventh level. All that is in between is my own imagination, but if we have numbers 1, 2 and 21, it is logical that there are halls (and levels) with all the numbers in between (even though they are not described in the book).
7) The word "comet" derives from Greek and means "long-haired star". I decided that this meaning could be used in Middle-earth too.
P.S. This novel might never have happened had my primary beta (and a very good friend) not told me in April 2020, "Yes, we know that Gimli's hope that Balin is alive is in vain, but perhaps you could one day write a story about Gimli hoping that the dwarves would reclaim Khazad-dûm".
No, I didn't write that story mentioned in that sentence. I started to write reclaiming Khazad-dûm instead. Why writing a simple short ficlet, if I can be neck-deep in a novel?
But... thank you. *love you*
P.P.S. Yes, I knew from the beginning that the novel would be named "Reclaiming Khazad-dûm". But at some point during the process I started to call it "Child of the Quarantine". :)
So... here it is. The novel whose writing, editing and finally translating kept me sane in these difficult months.
P.P.P.S. And last (chronologically), but not the least: huge thanks, hugs and kiss to curiouswombat for beta-reading the whole novel. Words are not enough to describe how thankful I am.
Personal diary of Durin VII
Day 17th of the First month, Year 591, Fourth Age of Middle-earth
Tonight Khazad-dûm visited my dreams again. As always, I walk through the tunnels and halls. All around me torches are lit, our song echoes, and I hear sounds of hammers and pickaxes.
I remember vividly my first dreams of Khazad-dûm – and in fact, the memories of them are clearer than my first memories of real events. Those dreams follow me constantly, and they are especially frequent around Durin's Day. While I was a child, I wondered if they were the sign that I was destined to lead our people to reclaim Khazad-dûm. Later, I became certain.
Father is not sure if the time is right. On the other hand, grandfather has faith in me, and when he looks at me, I see in his eyes that he expects me to lead that quest. I know that father wants it to happen... one day. After all, that is the wish of all the dwarves ever since we have lost Khazad-dûm. But father is not sure if the time has come; he is simply too cautious.
I am like grandfather. I believe we will reclaim Khazad-dûm now, in my time.
Every next time, the dreams are more realistic. When I wake up, the images I remember are not blurry as it usually happens with dreams, but it feels like those are the real memories of something that I had experienced.
And sometimes I wonder... maybe those are the real memories? Because, after all, I am Durin, and maybe – sometimes, somehow – I can see and feel what was seen and felt by those who carried that name before me.
Personal diary of King Durin VII
Day 23th of the Seventh month, Year 651, Fourth Age of Middle-earth
The sky looked different last night.
I stood on the walls and observed the distance. Of course, not in some random direction; as always, my gaze was directed to the southwest. It crossed all the miles, over waters and forests and plains, all the way to that special place. The place I want to go to more than anything, ever since I was a small child.
Then I looked up, and saw it. The star with long hair. I've never seen one of them before; they are rare. But I've seen enough illustrations in books to be able to recognize it immediately. This one was small and faint – only a small elongated patch – but visible.
And it was pointed towards the southwest.
Personal diary of King Durin VII
Day 26th of the Seventh month, Year 651, Fourth Age of Middle-earth
My star becomes brighter, and its hair longer. And the direction it shows is very clear: southwest. The message can be only one. The moment is now.
Yes, this is my star and my sign. I felt it the very first day I saw it. All that I dreamed about since I was a child, all that I planned since I became King two years ago, will now be turned into reality.
The wars of The Third Age are distant history. Our numbers grew and we turned into a mighty force that can do whatever we want.
Tomorrow, the people will hear my announcement.
Personal diary of King Durin VII
Day 2nd of the Eighth month, Year 651, Fourth Age of Middle-earth
I don't know if there had ever been such a big and bright long-haired star. The elves probably have records of celestial events, but while looking at it, I believe that not even in their archives and memories can be found something like this.
My star stretches over almost half of the sky. We observe it every night. Its misty, translucent end is above our heads, above Erebor. And the bright white head is low, just above the southwestern horizon. Exactly in the direction of our ancient home.
My star. My sign.