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Tauriel's Story Chapter 11 - Ironfists and Stiffbeards


Apr 28 2016, 12:11am

Post #1 of 4 (1250 views)
Tauriel's Story Chapter 11 - Ironfists and Stiffbeards Can't Post

Well as the name implies, we meet some new characters in this chapter. Speaking of names, I'd like to thank Otaku-Sempei for his suggestions for names. All previous chapters of "Tauriel's Story" can be found on my blog, https://hobbitized.wordpress.com/

Ironfists and Stiffbeards

Mattias led them up terraced steps to the highest street of Krasnagora. From there they worked their way towards the Eastern gate, carefully passing beds of herbs and vegetables and walking around drying lines covered with linens. Children played in the narrow streets while their mothers chatted, always keeping a watchful eye on the strangers as they passed by. Tauriel picked up bits of conversation, pleased that she understood a fair amount of the words spoken.

They reached the edge of the city and veered to the right. The paved streets gave way to a plain dirt path that clearly saw little traffic. There were no gardens here, only tufts of grass and scrubby groundcover that could survive without much water. And here were the goats that Tauriel had seen from a distance – much larger than she’d expected. The males had the heavy, curling horns, and when they sparred the horns cracked like thunder. The females’ horns were much smaller, but they were no more docile than the males. They brayed loudly at the kid goats, who ran obediently to their mothers. Like the women in town, they kept their eyes on the five intruders – and they were not the only ones watching. Tauriel sensed this, and instinctively reached for her daggers; it was a move that would not go unchallenged.

Their path was suddenly blocked by a half-dozen Dwarves, dressed for battle and carrying spears and axes. One of them stepped forward. “If ye mean to be stealin’ our goats, ye’ best know they’ll fight even harder than us.”

“No one from Krasnagora would dream of stealing your goats,” Mattias snorted. “Has there been trouble with theft?”

“That would be our concern,” the Dwarf leader replied. He wore a helmet that covered much of his face, and plate armor across his shoulders and chest. He addressed Mattias a second time. “I have seen you before, but these Elves are not from the City.”

“No, they are not. They have traveled a great distance to bring some important news. I need to speak with Penko about it.”

“Penko?” The Dwarf eyed Mattias suspiciously. “How do you know of Penko?”

Mattias carefully reached for his bootaxe. “We’ve done trade.” He handed the bootaxe to the Dwarf. “You can see his mark. Penko and I are friends.” He gestured to his companions. “I will vouch for these travelers. They brought me a warning, and I wish to pass it on.”

“Hmp. Pass it on to me,” the Dwarf said stubbornly. “I’ll see that Penko gets it.”

Mattias shook his head. “No, I must speak to Penko personally. And trust me when I say, he will want to speak to me as well.”

The Dwarf growled, then muttered in Khuzdul. Another dwarf came forward, took the bootaxe and ran off. “Might as well sit,” the Dwarf suggested, “make yourselves comfortable.” He turned away, rejoining the other Dwarves who stepped back in a huddle. “This could take some time,” he added after a few minutes.

Tauriel started to look around, but the Dwarves made it clear that she could go no further down the path. She sat on the ground next to Zeka and across from Alatar, who lit his pipe. Grigore stood next to Mattias, who paced around anxiously despite Alatar’s assurance that Penko would come. Tauriel had no doubt about it. The air was calm, and had a pungent, earthy smell that was not unpleasant. She and Zeka shared a waterskin, but neither had anything to say, so Tauriel leaned back on her elbows and turned her face to the warm sunlight. She slipped into a dream-like state; here there was no pain from love lost, no bitter memory of banishment. She felt content to be where she was at this moment – so content that she didn’t notice how much time had passed before she heard the scuffling of heavy dwarf-boots.

“Finally!” Mattias approached the dwarf he’d been waiting for. Tauriel came quickly to her feet before helping Alatar stand. The wizard quickly dusted himself off while Mattias grasped the arm of the newly-arrived Dwarf. “Penko, my friend! I feared you would not come.”

“I was not certain I’d be able to,” Penko replied. “Fortunately, Svarog here gave me a reason to come.” He handed the bootaxe to Mattias. “Naturally I had to return your property.”

Tauriel got a good look at Penko. As diminutive as the other Dwarves she’d seen, yet for the most part he looked like a smaller version of Mattias. Dressed in a sweatstained tunic and a heavy leather apron, Penko had similar dark, curly hair and a short beard, which surprised her. “I thought all Dwarves had long beards,” she mumbled.

Penko glanced her way. “Not all. I am a smelter by trade. A long beard would be quite a hazard.” He turned back to Mattias. “You brought Elves up here – why?”

Mattias waived Tauriel over. “This is Tauriel, from the West. She came to warn us of a great and ancient evil returning to Mordor.”

“So, the rumors are true,” Penko whispered.

“It is worse than that, I’m afraid.” Mattias then gestured to Grigore. “Do you know of Grigore of Taras?”

“Yes, I’ve heard of you.”

Grigore stepped forward and stood next to Tauriel. “And I have heard of you as well. Penko, son of Peklenc, Lord of the Ironfist Dwarves.” He bowed to the Dwarf, who returned the gesture. Tauriel also bowed, noticing Penko’s forearms at that moment. They were bigger than his upper arms. His hands were enormous – and both hands and forearms were scarred with burn marks.

Grigore continued. “In the past few months my village has been twice attacked. First from Variag marauders, and less than a week ago by were-wolves.”

“Were-wolves?” All the Dwarves looked panicked. “Lukia,” Penko shouted, “come to me, quickly!” A smaller dwarf, who apparently had been hiding further down the path, ran up to Penko. He put a protective arm around the dwarf. “My wife, Lukia,” he explained.

Tauriel struggled not to react to the dwarrowdam’s appearance. Her brown hair was stiff and wirey, popping out from the bun she’d tried to secure. The whiskers on her chin also stood straight out from her face. She looked like a scrub brush! Her tunic was identical to her husbands, but she wore a loose knitted garment instead of an apron, like a shawl with sleeves. She clutched a shepherd’s crook nervously in her left hand. “You tend the goats,” Tauriel stated more than asked.

“Yes, I do.” Lukia replied in a voice only slightly softer and higher-pitched than her husband’s. “We’ve been posting guards when they come out to feed.”

“Because of the theft?”

Lukia looked up at Tauriel. “Yes, and for my protection as well.”

“The goats haven’t just been stolen,” Penko confessed. “We’ve found butchered carcasses around, and now you tell me were-wolves attacked Taras!” He shuddered. “I must report this to my father.”

“May we speak to him as well,” Mattias implored. “These Elves, and Alatar, still have much to tell you.”

Penko turned and stared. “Alatar! One of the Blue Wizards! My father has spoken of you.”

Alatar bowed before speaking. “It has been many years since I last saw Peklenc. I trust he is well?”

“Oh yes, quite well,” Penko stammered, “but he’s been very busy of late.”

“Would he be busy with Stonefoot Dwarves?” Penko’s face confirmed Alatar’s suspicions. “So, you know of their disappearance?”

“I – we cannot discuss it.” Penko signaled to the guards. “We must get the goats inside, and my wife, of course. I will ask my father to grant you an audience. I will send a raven your way if he agrees.” Penko nodded at Mattias before turning away.

Alatar sighed as he watched the Dwarves round up the goats. “So, we must wait.”

“We should return to my house for now,” Mattias suggested. “Mother’s stew will be ready, and she’ll be unhappy if we don’t eat it.”

“Very well,” Alatar said happily. “I for one look forward to a good meal.”

They made their way back to Mattias’ home. It was well past mid-day, but the fast approaching summer brought more light to the evening. They would be able to make their way back to Kamen-Zal easily enough. True to his word, Alatar enjoyed the stew, flatbread and sugar-dates that accompanied it. The Elves, however, could not. They sensed something was wrong, though they knew not what it was. Grigore especially was tense, and politely refused the wine that was offered. He kept looking at the window, listening for the sound of a raven’s wing – but none came. Finally he could wait no longer. “My companions and I thank you for your hospitality,” he began, “but we have urgent business to attend to.” Mattias stood and reached for his bow, but Grigore stopped him. “You should stay close to your mother,” he whispered.

Mattias was disturbed by this request. “What is happening?”

Grigore shook his head. “I do not know, but I sense that something evil approaches. Be on your guard.” Mattias nodded; a grim expression crossed his face as he held the door open. Grigore heard the bolt slide into place after the door closed. Alatar whistled for the eagle-owl to fly ahead as they retraced their steps out of the City. The sun began its descent as they moved along; it was nearly gone by the time they reached the dirt path. Elves, of course, can see clearly even in the darkest night. Still, Alatar tapped the blue crystal in his staff, which glowed with a pale blue light, helping to illuminate their path.

All of them were startled by the high-pitched cry of the eagle-owl, calling out a warning. Grigore stepped ahead of Alatar, moving quickly down the path. Tauriel stayed protectively by Alatar, daggers drawn and ready. The path ran between mountain walls that seemed to narrow, until it came to a stone slab of a door, which was still opened. Alatar chanted as he swung his staff forward. The light spread in an arc, illuminating the entire area. Several dwarf guards lay dead on the ground, along with a few goats that were wantonly slaughtered. Grigore rushed to the nearest body, grimacing as he examined the wounds. He turned back to his companions and spoke one angry word: “Goblins!”

Proud member of the BOFA Denial Association


Apr 28 2016, 1:35am

Post #2 of 4 (1243 views)
Dwarves of the East [In reply to] Can't Post

Your welcome. I did think that names based on Slavic or Asian languages might work best for Dwarves of the Eastern lands, depending on the exact region. It seems to be working out for you.

Since PJ pretty much did away with Tolkien's dwarvish custom of keeping the identities of their women secret from outsiders, I can understand your decision to do the same.

"Things need not to have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."

- Dream of the Endless

Grey Havens

May 1 2016, 2:30am

Post #3 of 4 (1215 views)
Another cliff-hanger! [In reply to] Can't Post

Darn it Kili! You just love to keep us waiting on the edge of our seats for more, don't you? Shame on you! Laugh Laugh Laugh


Gold is the strife of kinsmen,
and fire of the flood-tide,
and the path of the serpent.


May 1 2016, 4:52am

Post #4 of 4 (1209 views)
Glad you liked it [In reply to] Can't Post

The next chapter is coming along well, hopefully I'll get it finished up and ready to post by next Friday.

Proud member of the BOFA Denial Association


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