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The Family Ri

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For centuries the tales and histories of Middle-Earth were nothing more than songs and stories heard around communal fires. Then one day someone decided they should write things down, to better remember the details of what had gone on before. From there it was an easy step to also write down all that people knew of what was in the world. Thus began the honored crafts of Historians, Scribes, Archivists, and Scholars. There was nothing that these craftsmen liked better than archiving the world in all forms. So, in all truth, it was inevitable that there would one day be something that would drive Scholars into several types of fits.


From the first time a curious Scholar made an innocent inquiry into the history of the small mountain people and was rebuffed there became no greater task among Scholars and Historians among men and elves alike than attempting to discover the secrets of the dwarves. The dwarves merely laughed behind their beards and made a game out of keeping their secrets while intentionally letting misinformation ‘slip’ to the ignorant. That was how the biggest mystery of all came into being about the dwarven folk. But how were they to know that a teasing comment from a spirited dwarfling would be taken so seriously among the big folk? And really, why were they so insistent upon believing that dwarves simply sprouted from the stone?

Had the dwarves known the reason Scholars were so content to believe this farfetched idea of dwarven reproduction they would have probably laughed themselves sick. The Scholars simply could not fathom how a race with seemingly no women continued to grow at a slow, yet steady, pace. For while it was true that dwarven men outnumbered the women two to one, it was very untrue that they had a difficult time reproducing. Dwarves just had a different idea on what is acceptable when it came to continuing their species.

To put it simply: nothing was sacred. When it came to continuing the dwarven species, the Valar that had created the Dwarves, called Aulë by others and Mahal by his dwarves, had gifted to them everything they needed to know to continue their kind in prosperity. Thus the female dwarves had a certain sense. And when this sense kicked in, the female would take time away from her craft and follow that sense to the male in question where she would then encourage him to do as Mahal guided. Either one of the pair could be single, married to each other, married to others, or in understood relationships. Those things did not matter when it came to reproducing because Mahal gift guided the females to those that would bring only the best qualities, however hidden, to the race and quite often the pair would never really see each other again once the female was pregnant.

Now female dwarves are almost their own race, a race within the race of dwarves. They looked to non-dwarves as any other dwarf, a fact that led almost the entire rest of Middle-Earth to easily believe there were no dwarf women. They were strong and sturdy, made to endure, with deep voices and like all dwarfs, had traces of a beard from birth that only grew as they aged. Dwarf women had their own society that was intricate and involved many subtleties that the menfolk of their kind could only grasp the basics of: braids and beads being the easiest for them to understand.

As the women had their own society, it was actually rare for them to take time out of their social intricacies and work to tend to children. So when a new dwarfling came around, one of three things happened. The most common thing was that the dwarfling was given, as if it were their own blood, to a dwarf or dwarf couple that wished to raise a child. It was the best solution as dwarves that wanted to be parents, regardless of gender, were generally the best ones to raise the children. Sometimes one or the other of the actual parents would decide they wanted to raise the child and would rearrange their lives to make such a thing happen. They didn’t always manage to work things properly for the child, but no child ever did without love and affection. The most rare cases, and almost entirely isolated in the royal families, was for the child’s parents to actually be wed to each other and raise them together.

This leads to the special qualities of the sense the dwarf women use when searching out their ‘breeding’ partners. For it is entirely proven that some women give birth to nothing more than the largest, strongest warriors while others give birth to a few brilliant scholars and still others increase the brilliance of the forgers or the most sensitive miners. Thus there are, from time to time, women born solely for the purpose of seeking out the King to become his spouse and strengthen the royal line. But while every female dwarf seems to breed toward a certain purpose, one that in light of their inner society helps give them a place in the hierarchy, there are sometimes the strange ones who seem to have no set pattern to their ‘productivity.’

Dilnobri was just such a woman. She had been over a hundred and sixty years old the first time she set aside her fine gem cutting tools and followed the call of Mahal’s gift. She was beautiful by dwarven standards, with auburn hair twisted into a spider’s web lacing of thin braids and her beard neatly twisted to the sides and twined into the pattern. Her eyes were the color of pale emeralds and, being of Durin’s Folk, she was even considered somewhat exotic in her home in the Blue Mountains. Many a dwarf had attempted to court her in her youth before determining that she was far too involved in her craft to ever bother with such things. Thus it was a surprise to everyone when she chose to rearrange her schedule and keep her first born.

Not even Dilnobri knew why she decided to keep little Dori when he had been born. There had been three couples that had let her know early on in her pregnancy that if she were willing they would take the child. But from the moment she laid eyes on the child, she just knew he would be her most beautiful gem and so she kept him close to her heart and treated him with the same love and care she gave to her best jewels.

Dori was mothered with an astonishing ferocity from the woman whom most had thought more interested in her craft than family. Dilnobri was astoundingly good at being a parent to her child, though she came off as a fussy and overprotective parent to all except the gem cutters. For like most subtle work, it was only the finished product that would shine with startling beauty that most saw and not the tiny intricate details that went into its creation. With one hand she would hold Dori close and protect him from the world and this is what the world saw. What they did not see was the other hand pushing him to learn and explore and grow into a beautiful gem.

And watch him grow they did, for Dori was quite the most beautiful dwarfling that had been seen in some years and as he grew so did his beauty. There were many watching his growth for various reasons. Some watched him because he was simply a jewel among their kind. Some watched for potential alliances for he was distantly descended from the royal line of Durin and even a distant relation would raise the standing of someone. And still others watched so that they could get an idea for what kind of dwarves Dilnobri’s breeding would add to the race.

Then, when Dori was only a lad of twelve, Dilnobri felt the call of Mahal again and not long after her firstborn was thirteen, he had a little brother. Dilnobri decided to keep her second born as well, having found that dwarflings were an entirely different type of jewel to cut and polish. A type that agreed with her, though she was a dwarf and her craft still had a set share of time each day despite now having two children to tend. And the people continued to watch, for even newborn it was obvious that Nori was just as beautiful as his brother. So, teasingly, it became said that Dilnobri’s purpose was to breed beauty into the dwarfs and people were content with this conclusion and her place in society.

Dori and Nori were very close brothers. They were identical in beauty, yet so different that they drew the eyes of all when they would run by laughing and playing. It was a common sight to see them tussling and being typical loud, rowdy, dwarfling boys and on more than one occasion covered in dirt and clothes torn from rough housing. And Mahal forbid any other dwarf, full grown or not, do anything to threaten Dori’s baby brother for the youngster was fiercely strong for a dwarf, even though he was not yet fully grown.

It was startling to the dwarves when Dori finally took up his craft, for it was a craft no other dwarf had ever taken up before. He sampled each dwarven craft and skill before going down to the nearest villages of men and returning with boxes and packages and taking up his very own craft in his room. For the craft that sang in Dori’s heart was to work with clothing! He sewed, stitched, tailored, and embroidered such clothing as to make his entire family even more beautiful than before, if such a thing were possible. It was not long before dwarrow and men alike were commissioning articles and even full costumes from the not-yet-of-age lad.

Nori, like most younger brothers, was somewhat resentful of his brother’s attention being taken from him and turned to a craft. But Nori was a dwarf and even though he resented it, he also understood it and set about dabbling in the available crafts to see what appealed to him. For a time it was thought that Nori was attempting to become a hair designer, for he changed the style he wore every two or three days into something more and more elaborate and strange until finally he settled on a very unique style indeed and was sometimes called Nori Starstealer, for his beauty stole attention away from the stars that he now rivaled. Of course Nori laughed and told them they sounded like elves and the nickname didn’t last long after that…

Then Dilnobri, her auburn locks having gone silver with time, provided her sons with a new distraction in the birth of her third child, whom she named Ori. Her newest son was just as beautiful as the other two and the dwarfs took to calling her Dilnobri Jewelbearer, for all the children she bore rivaled the best cut gems for their beauty.

Time went on, with Dori working his own craft of clothes-smithing, for what he did was far beyond mere tailoring in the eyes of the dwarves. Nori created his own craft as well, though no one knew exactly what he did, for he stubbornly refused to share his chosen craft with anyone who was not his baby brother. The craft Nori chose fascinated little Ori and soon drew thoughtful, appreciative glances Nori’s way. For what Nori did was practice and hone his body into a way of moving that was more of a dance than a normal fighting style and made his muscles leaner and his body more flexible… Yet when he did provoke other young dwarves to fight, it was not Nori that went home with bruises and aches as he moved to fast and lithely for his opponents to strike him and soon the guards were looking to recruit him to their fold.

As Ori grew it swiftly became apparent that the youngest son of Dilnobri was more of a scholarly mind. He loved to read and write. But it just as quickly became apparent that he had a talent for using a quill and ink for the more creative side of the quill. For he wrote stories of childish fancy when young, tawdry poems as he grew older, and eventually stories of battles and romance with detailed portraits to go with the scenes he wrote.

And then came the day when Dilnobri Jewelbearer vanished.

It should be explained at about this time that another of the reasons that so few outsiders knew of the existence of dwarven women was because when meeting outsiders, actual dwarf women were introduced as men. It was part of the elaborate system the true dwarf men had arranged to protect the women. So all women were identified with a shortened version of their name that and identified as the son of whichever parent they were closest to. So Dilnobri, the few times before she vanished that she had met the race of men, had been introduced as Nobri, son of Kimri. And if Dilnobri was really the daughter of Delkimri, that was no outsider’s business.

This information is relevant when it became known, two days after she went missing, that one of the guards to the gate of the city had seen Nobri, son of Kimri, leaving alone in the wee hours of the morning on the first day she was going. But he had been tired, just about to be off shift, and hadn’t been aware of what was going on at the time. The guard was soundly punished for allowing a woman to just walk out of the city without a proper guard, but everyone was at least relieved that her use of the name Nobri meant she was in her proper male dwarf disguise when she left.

Dilnobri was missing for a year and three months. It was a year and twenty-five days too long, for during that relatively brief time, Dori had changed. He fussed over Nori and Ori in ways that started to make Nori resentful and overwhelmed poor Ori into silence. It also saw his beautiful auburn hair develop wide streaks of silver from the stress of his mother’s disappearance.

When she finally returned, it was obvious to everyone just why she had left for Dilnobri was heavily pregnant. To say it was shocking was saying the least of it. For Dilnobri was two hundred and forty-two years old by then, much too old for pregnancy by the standards of all but the longer lived direct line of Durin and Dori’s stress continued to grow as he now fretted and fussed over his mother as well as everything else. A month and a half after she returned, Dilnobri gave birth to her first and only daughter. And it was painfully; startlingly obvious to everyone that got a good look at the infant that she was not a full-blooded dwarf!

She was smaller and more delicate looking than any dwarf baby without a hint of fuzz on her cheeks. She did have a slight amount of fuzz on her feet though, feet that were tougher and stronger than a dwarf, for all they were the proper size. Her ears did not stick out as much as dwarf ears and they had a delicate point! Dilnobri was obliged to threaten anyone that dared call her daughter an elf-spawn, though… Throwing one such curr out of the door!

The most astonishing thing about the new babe though, was the soft gold curls on her head that was so unlike dwarf hair that it was truly a thing of beauty. Not that her hair was the only thing beautiful about her. For despite the fact that she was a half-dwarf, it became obvious by the time the wee lass was toddling about that she had inherited the best of both her mother and her mysterious father and Dilnobri retained her title of Jewelbearer even as age finally began to weaken her. Dilnobri set aside her beloved gem crafting and put her remaining years into her family.

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Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, in a land of rolling hills, a letter was being opened by a small man of a race called Hobbits with a riot of honey gold curls atop both his head and his feet. The contents of the letter were short, simple, and stunning and caused him to beckon his wife over to share in regarding the missive.

Dear Gerontius,

It’s a girl. September 22nd, 2840.

Nobri, son of Kimbri

Along with the note was what really drew the attention of the husband and wife, a hand drawn image of a beautiful baby girl with muted Hobbit features and an adorable grin. Beneath the drawing was a single word in elegant calligraphy: