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The Daughters of Stone

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The dwarrowdams' numbers dwindled, they said, 'til not one was seen commonly among outsiders.  The dwarves kept their women at home and well-guarded, and nevermore did the daughters of stone mingle with Men and Elves.  Soon enough, the stories changed to tell that there were no dwarf women at all, and dwarves were born from the stone, as Mahal had first made them.  The dwarves heard the rumors and said nothing to deny them, but neither to confirm, for a dwarf would as lief not lie outright given the choice.

To tell it true, the Khazâd had as many who could birth a babe as could plant the seed of one and always had. But, as time passed, the doing of the one rather than the other lost import.  When a dwarf chose an occupation or an adornment, whose business was it what they kept in their trousers or under their robe and whether that had anything to do with the way they saw themselves?  When the Khazâd marched to war or delved in peace, crafted, traveled, or traded, pronounced justice, or healed a hurt, the skill of the doers mattered far over such private concerns.  Some Khazâd gilded their nails, perfumed their locks, entwined ornaments in their fuller or sparser beards.  Some braided their hair back and ignored it for months, or shaved their heads smooth.  Some dressed in brocades and some in leather and most changed their attire to fit their mood and situation.  

Khuzdul words slipped and changed - "he" and "she" losing ground to the words that simply indicated "that khazâd" or "one" until, while the words remained, they were adjudged interesting, but archaic, and used only at the request of the person to whom one was referring.

And yet, some words remained, in Westron and Sindarin and the other tongues the Khazâd dealt with, that required the rudeness of making it clear - to someone whose business it was not - what gender that khazâd used.  There were words that had no neutrals or other options besides the two that Men and Elves seemed to use most.

So, the Khazâd chose not to translate.  Since they saw the weight those words carried over their counterparts, they most often chose "he" and "king" and "brother" and "uncle", unless given no choice or speaking of one who requested the other.  And Men told to their faces khazâd who had birthed children that 'twas a pity the dwarrowdams had all gone away.  And they shook their heads and looked at their companions and wondered when the ladies of Men would begin to ask questions.

Perhaps, given evidence of other ways, they would begin.


Dís stoppered her inkwell (for she was one of those who chose the old words) and lay aside her manuscript.  She rang for the wardrobe-keeper, who answered with the promptness of someone who had been waiting outside the door.

“Is all in readiness?”

“Your majesty, it is.”  The khazâd, a tall, eagle-eyed personage, held out the gold-embroidered blue robe.  Dís settled into it and went to meet the fate she had never wished for, that her sibling and children had died for.

As she entered the great hall of Erebor, she surveyed her subjects, faces dark and light, the young and the elderly, their hope in the children of Durin shining in their faces as they looked upon her.  Chin up, she walked with all the regal grace she had learned from her parents and grandparents to the throne whereon sat the crown of her ancestors.  

The silence rang in her ears, abated only by the breathing of some hundreds of Khazâd, as she raised the crown.  She turned slowly, presenting it to her subjects, then placed it carefully upon her own head.

“In Mahal’s name and the name of my ancestors of the line of Durin, I name myself Dís, Queen Under the Mountain.”

Her people rejoiced.