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Author Topic: Mapping the Way Forward  (Read 1889 times)


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Mapping the Way Forward
« on: August 10, 2017, 03:26:25 AM »
As a sign of good faith, Thranduil had agreed to meet away from his tent and the bulk of his army, lest Thorin feel outnumbered and at a disadvantage.  It was the very reason Thranduil had no desire to ride to Erebor where he would be surrounded by dwarves (and he heard tell that the place still stunk of dragon).  At his order, several of his scouts had departed into the city, seeking some place that was even remotely suited, a task made all the more difficult by the ruin left behind in the aftermath of the battle.  But even so they had found it, an old manor house in the westernmost reaches of Dale, still standing, though scarred with ash and soot and decorated with winding greenery that had once upon a time been a flower garden, now overtaken by weeds.

Thorin would know the place by the presence of four armored elves milling about in the stone outer courtyard.  They watched over a cart, half filled with some amount of the remaining provisions Thranduil had brought from his halls. Of course, there was little greater evidence of the Elvenking’s presence than the sight of his elk.  The beast wandered the courtyard, lazily exploring, but only until it caught scent of the obvious intruders.  Nostrils flared for an instant as the elk stilled, staring down Thorin and any who accompanied him, but never moving save for a pair of dark eyes, following every movement.

Thankfully, before the elk could decide he wanted to try his luck at trampling dwarves, one of the elves stepped forward, offering a formal half-bow.  Another stepped forward, catching hold of the elk and giving him a comforting pat.  “King Thranduil is waiting inside.”  A gesture towards the door indicated that Thorin should enter.

Of course, Thranduil was not one to tolerate meeting in squalor, and so he’d seen to it that the place was… presentable.  He’d occupied only the front room, but had taken the time to have the worst of the dust cleared away.  The cart in the courtyard was half empty because it had been used to haul furniture from the king’s own tent, a pair of chairs and a small table, on which rested a bottle of Dorwinion red and a single glass.  The Elvenking himself stood on the far side of the room, the second glass already filled and in hand.  He was fully armored.  All evidence of battle had been washed away, the metal plates polished to gleaming.  Yet what should have been the ideal image of an elven warrior straight out of the tales of old was far too easily diminished by his eyes.  There was something almost haunted in his gaze, far distant memories of battles long past, or perhaps some fresh wound that had not yet healed.     

Upon Thorin’s arrival, he was met with a slight nod and an even slighter smirk.  Even when playing the diplomat, Thranduil could never fully hide what was on his mind.  “King Under the Mountain,” he said, though it was unclear if this were meant as a formal address or simply an amused observation.

Thorin Oakenshield

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Re: Mapping the Way Forward
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 05:45:11 AM »
To be honest, Thorin hadn’t expected the Elven King to send him an invitation, and even pick a designated place for it happen. The Dwarf King had thought long and hard about meeting Thranduil. There was so much ground to cover, so many things to discuss. But… there was was a hesitant look in his eyes as he folded the paper, and looked about Erebor. He was alone (except for two guards standing by the entry doors to the throne room) in his hall, the cold stone offering silent council. He sighed.

Of course he hadn’t forgotten how Thranduil had treated him while they were prisoners in his halls. Over a stupid necklace that now neither of them probably cared for. Thorin remembered the many conversations they had, had; and they had been too many. The bottle of wine that had been offered to him was probably still sitting in the cell where he had left it; untouched. The Dwarf turned and walked up the steps towards the throne, memories flooding back of seeing his father sitting there, and then refusing Thranduil what had been made for him. In that moment, Thorin knew that had started a silent war. Those gems had been precious to the Elven King. Thorin recalled the bitterness he had felt, along with the shock and surprise.

He turned away from the throne and gazed down the dark halls where a few lights had been lit. He could see where Thranduil had stood, and he watched the ghosts of his past whisk away in anger, gracefully (as only Elves could) storming back down the halls. Then, Thorin thought no more of it. Smaug had been their next challenge; and Thorin’s own hate for the Elven king had started then and there when he had refused his help. Thorin’s lip curled slightly, as it always had, when he recalled that day. It still sat bitterly in his heart, and the rage he had felt towards his father for being overcome by the sickness that gold could cause…

Thorin inhaled, then exhaled slowly. The thought of seeking Balin’s council came to his mind, but he read the little note again, and decided against it. If the King couldn’t make up his own mind some days, what was the use of being a king? Besides, Thorin knew in his heart (no matter how bitter it felt) what he had to do. If he was going to get Erebor off the ground, he needed to do the right thing. “Find me the White Gems of Lasgalen.” He commanded an attendant that had been assigned to him by Dain II. The Dwarf nodded and vanished into the darkness.

If it hadn’t been for Dain II Ironfoot, Thorin was pretty sure they would have lost the battle for sure. Such figures he couldn’t even begin to imagine, and he turned his attention to other matters at hand while he waited for the stones to be brought to him. Naturally, he accepted whatever help came from his kinfolk in the Iron Hills. They had already begun to reconstruct the gates, and seal off useless passages. He also had to give his blessing for the journey back to Ered Luin, to send word to Dis that Erebor had been reclaimed, and to have Anlaf prepare for small parties to be sent to help for the reconstruction.

It wasn’t long before the gems were brought to him, still in their box. He opened it, gazing at their beauty; nothing had changed. Closing the lid he placed it in his coat. Motioning for the guards to follow, Thorin left his halls.

It wasn’t that long of a trip. Thranduil had chosen to meet in the westernmost part of dale. The building (as described) stood alone among the rubble, and Thorin could see the glint of Elvish armour in the sunlight as he came nearer. But what was most prominent was the presence of Thranduil’s pet. His horns so wide they nearly took up the whole valley (not really, but up close, in person, they could have). One of the Elves near by distracted the beast before it could run the Dwarf party down. “King Thranduil is waiting inside.” One of the soldiers announced, motioning to the building. The Dwarves nodded their thanks and moved into the building.

A smirk came to Thorin’s face when he saw that Thranduil had done with the place. Say what you might, but the sheer … pettiness… or others would say extravagance… of Thranduil was nothing that could possibly go unnoticed. The Elven King still wore his battle armour, but the table and food, and wine provided spoke volumes. Afraid of a little dirt. He thought, if this thought passed over his face, he was unaware, and it didn’t matter. Thorin himself, although not clothed in battle armour (for he had dismantled it as quickly as possible), was still clothed royally, a crown atop his head, and furs around his shoulders, and wearing his signature deep blue; rings of gold and silver tastefully decorated his hands (not obnoxiously, but enough to notice).

King Under the Mountain...” Thranduil greeted.
King of the Greenwood.” Thorin greeted in kind, not sure if he meant it, either. Turning to the two guards he had brought with him, he dismissed them in a low voice, and waited till they had left before turning back to Thranduil. “I was surprised to receive your invitation; I had not expected one at all. Of course I speak with all honesty when I say that I am surprised you wanted to meet at all. I assume that you do not merely wish to inquire upon my health? As you can see, I am perfectly fit; and I may say the same of you. Of what nature is the meeting to be, then?” Thorin commented, nodding to the King, ignoring the haunted look in his eyes. A King never admitted anything, and it would have been an insult to Thranduil to say he looked like he had seen a ghost. All of them had, of course, battles did that. For Thorin, perhaps, more-so than Thranduil; but Thorin did his best not to let it show.

He waited for Thranduil's answer.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 05:58:13 AM by Thorin Oakenshield »
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Re: Mapping the Way Forward
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2017, 05:06:26 AM »
At least Thorin’s arrival became the much needed distraction from whatever dark thoughts had plagued the Elvenking as he had waited.  And, as expected, Thorin had provided more than a little amusement upon his arrival.  He could not help but wonder if Thorin had dressed up just for him, or if the dwarf had slipped so very easily into the mantle of kingship. Whatever the case may be, this was still the same stubborn dwarf who had refused his allegiance not so long ago, the same dwarf who had preferred his dungeon to his friendship. Even so…

“We have business to discuss, you and I,” he answered, showing no surprise that Thorin did not seem to think the same. This was still the obstinate fool that had refused diplomacy upon their last meeting.  Well, if Thorin had any plans to learn to be a king, they may as well start now. As an afterthought he gestured to the wine, meaning for the dwarf to help himself.

“I will return to my own halls in the morning,” the Elvenking began, putting aside any further pleasantries… or taunts, as the case may be. The best course with Thorin would be to quickly settle affairs and be done with it. “And I hope to part on courteous terms.” He purposefully avoided the word ‘friendly,’ for neither of them were quite ready for that.

He crossed the room at last, closing the distance between them, though he did not yet settle himself into either chair.  Despite his diplomatic intentions, Thranduil was not yet ready to cede his most natural advantage, and to sit would have been to put himself at equal stature with Thorin.  The dwarf had yet to earn such a concession from him.  “So I have come to you with an offer.” A peace offering, for lack of a better term.  One which Thorin would be wise to accept, unlike the last…

“I’ve left most of my provisions with the Lakemen, but as I doubt your rather charming cousin thought to bring anything of use along, the cart outside is for you and your men. Food and wine, mostly.” He offered this explanation in an almost bored tone, as if this were nothing more than business as usual. This generosity, after all, was simply a matter of course.  “My armies will return to Mirkwood with me, but I have already sent for my best craftsmen, whom I will task with aiding the Lakemen in rebuilding this city. Should you have need, they have been instructed to answer with aid, within reason.”  His words took on a warning tone, even as he suspected Thorin would have no reason to take him up on such an offer to begin with.

“That is also yours,” he gestured towards the doorway where sat a large trunk, well made but unadorned and generally unremarkable.  “Your belongings that you left behind when you so hastily departed.”  If he chose to inspect the contents, Thorin would find all of it, the confiscated weapons and other provisions, all packaged and treated with remarkable care. Thranduil had always intended to return them, even when he’d been equally prepared to battle his way into Erebor by force of arms.  Now he offered them as a peace offering, or at the very least a means of settling accounts. 

Thorin Oakenshield

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Re: Mapping the Way Forward
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2020, 01:51:29 AM »
[Skip down to "Thranduil was - as always -" to skip a quick recap]

With Smaug dead, and Azog defeated, the Dwarves who had set out on their quest to reclaim their kingdom now operated with careful enthusiasm to rebuild. The stench would take years to be fully rid of, but Thorin knew he would never be able to rid himself of the stench of dragon.

Naturally, first things came first. He had sent Bilbo home, and Gandalf had said that he was going to take the message back to Ered Luin to let Dis know all that had transpired. But, in all honesty, since the return of the Ravens, he had sent one of them as a messenger to give the good news. It would bring his people’s hope back to see a Raven of the old order of things. The sooner his people had hope, the sooner more of them would be inclined to come and help with rebuilding.

Further matters included assessing the state of the mountain itself. To that task he had set Dwalin, and to the matters of state he had set Balin and Ori. Any sort of records that were left, he wanted to know; though his hopes were low. All of his family records would have been destroyed in the attack, but there was a little sliver of hope that not all the scrolls had been burnt to ash; maybe not all the books lost forever. If Bard could find a tapestry left over that explained all that had happened, surely it was not too impossible to think -

Thorin sighed. He had been starting at the wall recounting all of this when he had been brought what he had asked for. The White Gems of Lasgalen. They shone as brightly as when he first had seen them, and he knew Thranduil would be … pleased. He had wrapped them carefully, and tucked it away in a satchel that hung about his waist.

Thranduil was - as always - direct. Straight on to business. And, though it was proper, Thorin’s own mood swings were surprising even to him. He found that his distaste for how Thranduil conducted things - which were still objectionable, and distasteful - he found all of his previous anger delpleated. Yet he did not ignore the nagging feeling that he knew what this meeting was about. Even if it wasn’t truly about what he kept at his side. 

“I’ve left most of my previsions with the Lakemen,” This sign of generosity sparked a little hope in Thorin, and was quickly shot down when Thranduil thought it best to add, “But as I doubt your rather charming cousin ...” Still the same old Thranduil. Belittling the generosity of his own people. Fresh anger rose up within, but he pushed it back. This was not the time to be petty… heh… coming from him it was a surprising thought. If Thranduil knew, he would have scoffed at Thorin. Believing him to have been petty the whole way… and maybe he was right.

“... The cart outside is for you and your men. Food and wine mostly.”

And aid - “Within reason” - for him and his people? His cousin would have provided that for them, Thorin thought. But… maybe, just maybe, this was a time to make Erebor something a little different? A little nugget of something started in the back of Thorin’s mind. Erebor crafted with the help of Elves and Dwarves … had that ever been done before?

And before Thorin had a chance to offer thanks, he drew Thorin’s attention to the chest that he explained had the company’s belongings. Without a word Thorin went over it, and opened the chest. He carefully rummaged through *until he found Orcrist. It was still in the same condition as when they had been taken. In fact, everything in the chest appeared to be in the same condition. He closed the lid and turned back to the Elf. He really didn’t know what to say next. He stood in silence for a long minute, just staring at Thranduil. Then he blinked. Hastily departed? He smiled a little. The idea that they had escaped successfully must have offended Thranduil so much he couldn’t bear the thought that a group of raggedy Dwarves, and a Hobbit had escaped.

Thank you.” He started, “I will keep your offer of your craftsmen under consideration. We do not yet know the state of Erebor itself; I will keep you as notified as possible. And, I accept your offer of previsions.” Careful not to mention that they could have been more generous, but in all likelihood, Thorin would most likely just pass it on to Bard. He felt the weight of his own gift tugging at his belt, and elected to hold back giving it up until he knew more. “I feel that it is only fair to warn you that there may be heavy traffic of Dwarves coming from beyond the Misty Mountains. I have sent word to my people, and I trust there will be many who will want to help with the rebuilding, particularly in what used to be Dale. Though I do not know exactly how many, or what they will be bringing with them.

You must also forgive me if I seem hesitant to trust you so quickly.” He untied the pouch at his side. He handled it carefully, and doubtfully looked at Thranduil. Now was the time, if ever, to create trust. But, was his offer enough? Or was it too soon to give it to him? Thorin had not really asked anything of Thranduil… not yet. Someone had to keep the door that Thranduil had - even if begrudgingly - notched open. He had to put his foot on the line, and keep it from closing.

He placed the pouch delicately on the table. “I hope that this will … entice further courtious agreements…
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Re: Mapping the Way Forward
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2020, 09:34:07 PM »
Had Thorin thought to ask, Thranduil might have clarified that he hadn’t intended to belittle the generosity of all Dwarves (at least not in this instance), but simply to belittle Ironfoot, who was especially odious.   Had Thorin also thought to ask, Thranduil might have told him that he’d already settled accounts with Bilbo and found the Hobbit to be both brave and admirable for his clever escape from Mirkwood (which Thorin could take no credit for).  Of all elven rulers in Middle Earth, Thranduil was by far the least gregarious, yet he had named Bilbo elf-friend all the same.

Luckily for Thorin, he wasn’t here to be petty about such things.

He eyed the pouch, both curious and suspicious in turn, and doing little to hide it as he shifted his gaze to the dwarf with an arched brow.  This was unexpected… and Thranduil would have had to be a bigger fool than even he had been lately not to suspect what might be in that pouch. 

He had intended this meeting to be purely business, the kind of diplomacy he did not particularly enjoy, but was a necessity of his position.  Not once had he stopped to think that he may be forced to face this…  not when he had only just begun to reflect upon what treasures were truly most dear to him.  One treasure in particular that had walked away from him, one that he had let go because it was necessary, not because he had been prepared.  And as always the thought of Legolas recalled to him Gandalf’s admonition.

Those gems were not the only thing your wife left you.  She left you a son.  Tell me which would she have you value more?

Now, with all of it said and done, even these gems would be a cold comfort for the absence of his son.

Still, he reached out a hand, drawing the pouch slowly, almost fearfully from where it sat on the table, and drew it open.  There, within the folds, shone the reflected light he’d waited what seemed like a lifetime to see again.  And with the sight of those gems, the walls within him, built and fortified over hundreds of years, threatened for a moment to crack.  Knees suddenly weak, he sank into the nearest of the two chairs, letting the pouch return to its rest on the table, but only so that he might reach inside and draw out the necklace. 

If Thorin were watching closely, he might note the subtle play of a dozen emotions washing across the Elvenking’s face, grief mingled with joy and relief mingled with regret, oh so much regret… and all mixed and intertwined until one could hardly be separated from the rest.   

Eyes closed for the span of a few heartbeats and when they opened, whatever turmoil had been there before was now gone, pushed back into the depths and locked away lest it threaten to overwhelm him.   The necklace was carefully slipped back into the pouch, and the remnants of his glass of Dorwinion Red was emptied.

“Your people are welcome to pass our borders.” Back to business.  “They should travel by the north road. I will send guides.”  He paused, pale eyes coming to meet Thorin’s with what might have been a faint spark of amusement.  “The wood is not safe, as I’m sure you recall.”   

Reaching for the bottle so that he might refill his glass, the Elvenking continued as if he hadn’t at all intended his comment to be something insulting. Perhaps he hadn’t.  After all, there were still times when it was difficult to tell when Thranduil respected another person enough to turn his cruelty good natured. 

“I am told that King Bard has returned your jewel as well.”   He did not look away from his glass of wine, filled a bit higher than was exactly proper.  He studied the dark liquid for a moment, brows creased in thought, as if weighing the wisdom of his next words.  Then, after a generous sip from the slightly-too-full glass, he asked the question to the wine instead of directly to Thorin.   “Was its return everything you had hoped it would be?”

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