Chapter 1: Victory and Defeat
Dwalin paced over the battle field, surrounded by his guards. His clan had fought long and hard, and they had prevailed. He smirked, watching the sparkling colours of the jewel he held in his hand. The Arkenstone of Thror shone like a fiery rainbow. But he wouldn’t fall for its beauty, like Durin’s heirs. No, the house of Fundin was stronger than their mad relatives.
But the cursed rock would help his brother Balin to defeat their enemies once and for all. Now Thror had to accept their humiliating terms, when the old dwarf wanted peace. His father had dreamed of this day ever since his banishment from the clan of Durin, had handed down his desire of vengeance to his sons. Sadly Fundin couldn’t witness their victory, because he had died years ago.
Suddenly Dwalin heard screams. He frowned. What in Mahal’s name was going on? Most warriors of Thror’s clan were dead or captivated. Just a few had been able to flee. He stowed the Arkenstone away safely and gestured his guards to follow him.
What they found astonished him. Four of his soldiers tried to disarm one single opponent. The operative word was trying. The young warrior was almost as tall as Dwalin. He fought with a sword in his right and an axe in his left hand, fiercely defending a golden haired female dwarf, who crowded two little ones into a corner to keep them away from the fight.
Dwalin frowned when he noticing the dark stain on her skirt. Her leg was wounded, but she held a short sword, shielding her children with her body. He growled and stepped into the fight. This was his family's victory. Nobody would spoil it, especially not such a young lad, a mere dwarfling.
Their weapons met each other again and again, a wild and deadly dance. Dwalin had to admit that his enemy knew how to fight, his desperation sustaining him furthermore despite his sinking strength. But in the end it wasn't enough and the warrior pinned him to the ground. Crystal blue eyes stared up at him, afraid but at the same time full of an icy fire.
When his guards approached the female dwarf, she gripped her sword tighter and his captive started to struggled again. He seemed even more desperate and panted, half begging and half commanding, “Let them be! They are no danger to you. Kill me, if you want to, but let them go!”
Dwalin frowned and pensively looked at the small group. The dwarflings, a golden and a dark haired one, were almost hidden behind their mother. They watched him with fearful and pleading eyes, their cheeks wet from their tears. The fair haired boy sobbed a stifled “Uncle” and suddenly the warrior realised who exactly he had captivated. Why hadn't he seen it before?
“Lady Dís, I'm Dwalin, son of Fundin. You and your sons will come with me. You are under my personal protection. Nobody will hurt you or your children. I swear on my father's tomb,” he promised and waited for the princess' decision. His captive had stopped his struggles, but he didn't know whether he was just too exhausted or had finally admitted defeat.
“What of my brother?” she asked calmly, but with a slight quiver in her voice.
“He fought against me and lost. Therefore his life is rightfully mine now. But I won't hurt him, if he is a good boy ... if he understands that he serves the sons of Fundin now,” Dwalin answered. He never beat around the bush, preferring the blank truth. Balin was the diplomat not he.
“Don't get your hopes up too soon. I bring ill luck,” the young warrior hissed.
Every dwarf knew the story of Thorin, the youngest grandson of Thror. The clan of Durin was famous for their golden strands. But the princeling's hair was as dark as the night. It had been said, at the day of his birth, that he would be the beginning of his clan's end.
But Dwalin only shook his head and smirked, “Not you, young princeling. No dwarfling is responsible for his clan's fate. His leader is! And we both know what Thror's real curse is. He is obsessed with the Arkenstone. It will be his doom, not you ... to be more precise: the damn jewel and my brother.”
~ ◊ ~
Balin stared at the Arkenstone, his face an emotionless mask. Dwalin waited. He knew not to haste his brother. What to do with this damned jewel had to be planned thoroughly.
After a few minutes he asked, “Are you sure that it was Frerin you have killed?”
“Yes,” Dwalin nodded. “Frerin and Hegli, Lady Dís' brother and husband. They both died trying to defend the cursed stone.”
“And you have captured Lady Dís, her two sons and Prince Thorin?” Balin ascertained again.
The warrior raised one eyebrow. “Yes, they are here and stand under my protection. Why do you ask the same questions again and again?”
“Because it is important,” his brother replied, pacing back and forth in the tent. “We defeated Thror on the battle field, but this is not enough. We have to destroy him completely. We promised our father on his deathbed.”
“So what do you want to do?” Dwalin wanted to know.
The older dwarf smirked, with unforgiving eyes, “We will let him choose ... his kin or the Arkenstone ... Then everybody will see that he favours a rock over his own family. Nobody will follow a gold-sick leader.”
For a short moment the warrior just gaped at his brother's ingenuity, before he growled, “And Lady Dís and the princes? What do you plan for them? I swore that nobody would hurt them.”
“Do you think me so short-sightedly? I want to destroy Thror, not innocent dwarflings!” Balin growled back. “You said Dís and Thorin are close?”
“Most likely. The princeling fought like a berserker to defend her and the children. And you know the stories about how he grew up as well as I do. Thror hates him and has let him feel it all his life. His big brother Frerin wasn't much better, just as cruel and short-sighted as his leader. But what do you expect? He was raised by his grandfather after all.
“And Lady Dís?! Thror practically sold her to Hegli, because the old fool needed an army. They tell stories about him, too. One of our maidens, who helped the princess with her bath, saw her bruises; old and new ones. When I told her about her husband's death she kept a straight face, but I could swear that her sons looked almost relieved. They also have bruises, the dwarflings, Balin!” Dwalin raged, his face full of concern and disgust.
His brother smiled. “You like them ... and especially the young prince. Don't deny it. I know you prefer male company in bed. And don't look like a kicked puppy, baby brother. I'm not scolding you. I myself find a good book and a lucrative business more satisfying than a wife and conjugal duties.”
“And what about heirs? I always thought you wanted me to ...” the warrior began, but suddenly he knew it, “... the boys! You want to raise Dís' sons as our heirs.”
“Yes, of course. We are distant relatives after all. You also will take Thorin as your mate,” Balin stated matter-of-factly.
“WHAT??? You can't be serious. He will never agree. He doesn't even like me.” Dwalin stared angrily. “And don't say that this isn't important. It is for me. I will not rape him!”
“Who said you have to?” the older dwarf asked. “Thorin is young and hungers for love and affection. It shouldn't be a problem for you to seduce him, even publicly.
His merag mahzâyung (= feast to make love [When a young dwarf comes of age, an older and more experienced lover deflowers him or her in private.]) has to have been a while ago. Yet I doubt that he had many lovers.”
The warrior shook his head, “This isn't right. He deserves better than an act. I won't decoy him.”
Balin smiled again, affectionately touching Dwalin's shoulder. “My dear brother, I saw how you look at him. It wouldn't be an act. You are already smitten with him and in a week's time you will be madly in love. Believe me it will be good for both of you.”
“I'm not smitten with ...” the tall dwarf began, but then he remembered their fight and Thorin's powerful yet cat-like movements despite his exhaustion. He could still feel the lean, hard body beneath his own. How would it be to have the prince on soft furs ... without any clothes? They could dance again, but it would be a dance of passion and not of violence.
A low laugh brought him back to reality. His cheeks burned when he met the knowing eyes of his brother. Damn him. He growled, but Balin only laughed louder, proving that he sometimes knew his little brother better than Dwalin knew himself.
~ ◊ ~
They met under the nightly sky. Many fires illuminated the surroundings. Thror came with a hand full of guards, the only ones remaining. His silver beard and hair shone like the moon above and his eyes glittered with madness. He stared at the sons of Fundin, ignoring his captured kin and people, who were about to witness his downfall.
”Let's get over with it,” he snarled.
Balin nodded, declaring in a clear and strong voice, “You're clan is defeated. Your heirs are dead or have been captured. All your treasures are ours. But we aren't cruel or vicious. We will allow you and anybody who wants to follow you, to leave in peace. We will even give you and your clan ponies and supplies for a few days,” he stopped and smiled confidently. “We will also return one of your treasures to you. Just choose! Do you want your family or this?”
The Arkenstone sparkled even brighter than the moon and the fires together, when Balin lifted him for all to see, a whirlwind of colours and light. Thror couldn't avert his eyes from the jewel, their mad glint was even intensified.
He whispered, “My treasure. My beautiful ghivashel (= treasure of all treasures). Give it to me.”
“So you choose the stone over your kin? You abandon your own heirs in favour of a gem?” Balin made sure.
“Let them go, keep them or even kill them. It doesn't matter to me.” Thror's face contorted with disgust when he looked upon his grandchildren and the two dwarflings.
But then his eyes found the Arkenstone again and he murmured beguiled, “Just give me my treasure, my beloved jewel.”
Dwalin watched the sickening spectacle only casually. He concentrated on Thorin, who was flanked by two of the strongest fighters of the Fundin-clan. His hands were tied up and he wore a simple tunic, trousers and boots, nothing like the royal garments he had fought in.
Obviously the princeling wasn't surprised by his grandfather's choice. He showed his pain and desperation just for a short moment, looking vulnerable and even younger.
It was deadly silent when Thror took the Arkenstone and a bag with the promised supplies. He only stared in awe at the sparkling jewel in his hand, when he slowly went back. He didn't wait for any possible followers and ignored the waiting pony. He disappeared alone into the night. Nobody wanted to go with him.
As soon as he was gone, Balin raised his voice again. He offered the captivated dwarves a new home under the protection of the house of Fundin. When he named Dis' sons his heirs, many of those present couldn't believe their ears. Usually the victorious clan didn't show so much generosity to the defeated.
But their doubts melted away at the sight of the young and sweet dwarfling, who stood shyly beside their mother. Their big, innocent eyes enchanted any dwarf, especially those who had just lost everything due to their leaders madness. They would unite both clans in the end.
Then his brother declared Dwalin's “wish” to bond with Thorin publicly, to strengthen the alliance between the two clans even more.
There was a breathless silence, when the tall warrior slowly approached the tied princeling.
Yet Dwalin ignored all the other dwarves. He closely watched the reaction of his intended ... which was as bad as he had feared, if not worse. Damn his brother and his optimism.
After the first shock Thorin reacted much faster than anybody he knew. He brought down one guard with a fast rotation of his body and a well-aimed strike to the dwarf's unprotected side. The other made the acquaintance with the prince's heavy boot, holding his bloody nose a moment later.
But his victory was short lived. Other soldiers came to their comrades' aid and soon Thorin was pinned to the ground and immobilised by too many hands to fight them off. But he struggled nonetheless, almost panicked in his attempt to flee.
Suddenly Dís appeared by his side, pleading softly, “Please brother, stop it. Dwalin won't hurt you. He promised me.”
“You know?! You sold me out!” The prince looked at his sister with shocked eyes. He couldn't believe that his only support had betrayed him. But a mother would always choose her children over anybody else, he should have known that. Loving Fíli and Kíli as much as Dís, he could even understand her. But it hurt anyway.
The female dwarf shook her head sadly. “I'm sorry that I didn't tell you. It will be all right, I promise. You will like it. You were also worried before your first time with Kerlan, but then you enjoyed it. Remember you are a prince of Durin's line. It is your responsibility. You have to carry out your duties.”
When she mentioned his first lover, Thorin blushed and stopped his struggles. Dwalin was surprised to see only pain swiftly followed by utter defeat in these brilliant blue orbs. “Fine, he can have me,” he murmured brokenly and met the warrior's gaze. “Hurry up and claim your prize then,” he chocked.
“Please, don't do this,” a voice from the crowd interfered. A red haired officer stepped forward, clearly shattered by the turns of events. “He never ...”
“Shut up!” Thorin hissed and glared angrily at him.
Dwalin had only watched so far, unsure of what to do. He didn't want to rape his intended and he sensed that there was more behind the princeling's resistance than mere pride.
“Who are you?” he asked the newcomer.
“I am Kerlan and I ... I never slept with him,” he answered and then looked away, clearly ashamed of himself.
“What? But you volunteered ... and you spent the night with him,” Dís said in confusion.
Kerlan shook his head and explained, “It was Frerin's idea all along. He said it would disgrace his family, if they had to buy him a human whore, because no dwarf would touch him. He knew that I prefer to be the ... the bottom and forced me to volunteer. When Thorin and I came to our prepared room, Frerin already waited for us and overwhelmed his brother, tying him to a chair. Then he took me and all the while he said that we did Thorin a favour that he could watch us together. It would be the only time that he would come into touch with sex anyway. I'm sorry. I know it was wrong, but ...”
“... but you were afraid and thought nobody would learn of what you two have done,” Dwalin finished the sentence for him.
He met his brother eyes and even Balin seemed at loss of what to say or do. This was a total mess. The warrior couldn't claim his mate publicly under such circumstances. It would have been difficult enough with a reluctant but experienced partner.
But a virgin? Impossible! Nobody should be deflowered in public.
Dwalin sighed and ordered the guards, “Bring the prince to my tent and make sure he stays there.”
“What do you plan to do, brother?” Balin worried, when three dwarves took Thorin away.
“To make things right. At least so far as it is possible,” the warrior replied.