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My Lady Dís

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      “My Lady Dís! Lady Dís! The messenger birds have arrived from Erebor!”

       Lady Dís, Princess of Erebor, sister to King-in-Exile Thorin Oakenshield, and mother to his Heirs, looked up from the runes she was carving onto a sword blade. She was at a point where she could stop without negatively affecting the work.
      “Very good,” she called to the servant. “I’ll come down to the house in a few minutes.”
      “My Lady . . . it might be best to come now.”
      Dread filled her heart at the tone and she stood up, pulling off her work apron. She followed the servant back to her house. Ered Luin was quite crowded with its own permanent residence as well as the refugees from Erebor. Nearby, were towns of Men who traded with the miners and craftsmen from Ered Luin, and not a week’s ride to the east was the Shire.
       Everywhere she looked, Dís saw the former Erebor residents gathering in small groups. Whatever the news was, it could not have been very good. No-one looked happy. When she got to her house, a black, riderless pony was tethered near the door. Dís glanced at the servant and stepped into the house. The rider was waiting in the kitchen. He too was dressed in black, with the crest of her cousin, Dáin Ironfoot on his tabard. He bowed to Dís as she entered the room.
     “Princess Dís. I have come from Erebor on behalf of King Dáin.”
     She nodded. “Why is Dáin at Erebor?” she asked, sitting down at the kitchen table. “He refused to help Thorin retake the mountain.”
    The messenger bowed. “King Thorin Oakenshield was able to reach the mountain, Princess. In the process, there was a great battle, and Dáin rallied his armies to aid his cousin and fellow king.” He paused. “The Men of Esgaroth and the Elves of Mirkwood also allied with the Dwarves in this battle.”
    Dís eyebrows rose in surprise. For all the Races to unite in that manner, the foe must have been dangerous indeed. “Who were they fighting?” she asked.
   “Orcs, my lady, and goblins.”
   “Oh my.” The elves had never cared before about dwarves being attacked by orcs, but perhaps since this foe was on their doorstep, they must have felt it was better to intervene than not.
   “Indeed,” the messenger agreed.
   “And what of the dragon?” Dís asked.
   The messenger smiled grimly. “Dispatched by a descendant of the Lord of Dale before the battle, milady.”
   Dís sighed with relief, glad her children were not in any danger from that quarter, as he reached behind him and pulled three black ribbon bound scrolls from his bag. Dís began shaking her head.
    “Oh! Oh, no. No!”
    He bowed and placed the offending papers on the table beside her. “King Dáin extends his condolences. King Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, and his nephews — Crown Prince Fili, son of Dís, and the Heir presumptive, Prince Kili, son of Dís— were lost during the battle. As their next closest kinsman, Dáin has claimed the throne of Erebor. He saw to it that all three were buried in state. King Thranduil of Mirkwood and Bard, King of Dale attended the funerals as well.”
    Dís wasn’t hearing him.
    Three small scrolls of paper were all that was left of her entire family. Her beautiful blond son; so full of wit and good sense unless he was around his little brother. Her youngest and favorite; he didn’t look much like a dwarf, but he made up for it by being a hopeless flirt, and filled to overflowing with boundless energy.
    Her sons were gone.
    Her brother had taken her sons away to reclaim a home neither of them knew, and now they were gone.
    She was alone.
    There would be no wedding feasts.
    There would be no grandchildren to help raise.
    No-one to help look after her in her old age.
    She would die alone, Mahal only knew where, and there would be no-one to mourn her. Her sons had joined their Fathers in the Halls of Waiting.
    They were still children! Why had Thorin let them fight?
    The blood was pounding in her ears and the messenger droned on, but she couldn't make sense of his words. She just stared at the scrolls.
    Her servant touched her lightly on the shoulder, startling her. “My lady?”
    “What?” She looked around and realized the messenger had stopped talking. He bowed again.
    “Princess Dís, King Dáin has offered you a home, whenever you wish to take possession, in Erebor. He stated that it was your home first, and that you will always be welcome there. You will have a place in his household, as a sister.”
    Dís closed her eyes. She didn’t want to go to Erebor. She never wanted to go back to Erebor. That mountain was cursed. But her sons were there. And she desperately wanted to be with them.  Dís swallowed hard a few times, hoping that her voice would emerge without cracking.
   “Tell King Dáin that his offer is generous. I will consider it.” The messenger bowed and departed. The servant went to gather the rest of Dís’ household and break the sad news.
    Alone in her tiny kitchen, with three scrolls of paper, Dís wept.