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Follow To The Graveyard

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T.A. 2765

(Five years before the attack on Erebor)


chapter one | the great feast


Maendis could barely contain her excitement. She wanted to instruct her horse to surge forward and get to the Dwarven Kingdom of Erebor faster but she held herself back. She rode her brown horse that she had named Naur next to her mother with her father leading them along the road that led to their destination. 

The road to their destination was rather long and Maendis was getting restless. She didn’t like traveling over long distances as it never was comfortable and she never had anything to do other than look at the scenery before her. She liked adventure but hated the process of getting to the adventure. 

Her mother was reminding her to be on her best behavior and to not wander away from her father while in Erebor. Maendis was young and too curious for her own good. She had been talking about this trip ever since she had known her father was making a sword for the dwarven prince. She wanted to see the entirety of Erebor. She wanted to know all the secrets and crawl spaces it had to offer. She planned on making the mountain her playground for the foreseeable future. 

Maendis wondered if she'd be able to spare the prince with his new sword. She had a sword. She called it Gurgaran which meant red death in her mother tongue. Every great sword has a name, her father had told her. Her sword was small by sword standards and it was rather thin, like a needle. It was perfect for her at the moment. It had been made specifically for her on her thirteenth birthday. It wasn’t just for show either, she knew how to use it and she used it well. She hoped she’d be able to best the prince in a duel. 

She looked to her mother and smiled at the bump that appeared underneath the dress that she was wearing. Her mother was carrying her baby brother or sister and Maendis was excited to have someone to duel beside her father who always won. She was hoping for a baby brother truthfully. The baby liked to kick when she talked to it, telling tales of how they would be inseparable once it was born. 

Maendis looked to her mother again and took in her appearance. Her mother was tall and slender with golden blonde hair that swept almost all the way down to her feet. People liked to say that she was a carbon copy of her mother with her father’s personality. She had long golden blonde hair, her mother’s soul-piercing emerald green eyes, and her father’s smile. 

She was rather tall for her age and she stuck out like a sore thumb in her home which was Dale. Living as an elf among man didn’t exactly allow for her to slip by unnoticed. Most in Dale knew who her family was seeing as they were the only elves that lived in the town. Her father was also too well-known to be able to live inconspicuously. 

As they got to the top of the hill, Maendis got a glimpse of Erebor and she was in awe. There was a little village just before the kingdom that was very lively and flourishing. Upbeat music could be heard from where Maendis was and she was growing even more excited. 

Stories didn’t do Erebor justice. It was truly magnificent. Built into the side of a mountain, it stood tall with an air of power to it. She had never seen anything like it before. 

“Ada, can I go ahead, please? I’ll be careful.” Maendis asked her father as he moved next to her at the top of the hill. She heard her father sigh and he seemed to be contemplating his answer. After a while, he nodded his head to her and gave her a very clear list of instructions.

Stay on the path, don't wander and wait for them at the entrance to Erebor.

Easy instructions but Maendis knew something would catch her attention and make her go off the path without her meaning to. She would try her hardest not to veer off the path. 

She moved her horse so that she was next to her mother and leaned to give her a kiss on her cheek before turning to her father. She went up to her father and pressed her forehead to his. Ever since she had been little this was what she and her father did to show their love for each other. The two of them grasped the back of each other's heads and dared not to let go. Finally, Deldhithor let her go and motioned for her to be on her way.

She smiled at her father and took Naur's reigns in her hands, flicking it upwards to usher him forwards. Naur sped forward towards the Dwarven Kingdom. Maendis felt free. She felt at peace. Her parents weren't restrictive to what she could or could not do but she had never felt as if she belonged in Dale. At this moment, she thought that she could be OK with living in this place. 

As she approached the outskirts of Erebor, she heard the clanking of metal against metal and her curiosity got the better of her. She got off of Naur and tied him up to a tree nearby. “I’ll only be a little bit, Naur. Then I will come back. Ada won’t even know I wandered.” She told the horse who snickered at her and went to nibbling on the grass beneath him. Maendis moved towards the sound and crept around the corner to find soldiers sparing in the courtyard. 

She watched as the two soldiers in the middle knocked their blunt swords against each other, both trying to get the upper hand on the other. They were dwarves, Maendis knew that much. If they were anyone of importance, she had no idea. She didn’t know what the royal family looked like. One of the dwarves had dark brown hair that grew all over his head and came to a peak at the top. Small designs could be seen at the sides of his temples. He was much older than his opponent. 

The other dwarf had deep black hair that reached his shoulders and was slicked back to stay out of his face. He had a small amount of hair on his face, unlike his opponent. He was young, maybe only a few years older than Maendis. He had a smile on his face as he taunted his companion with some words in a language that she did not understand. 

The crowd around the two seemed to be cheering the younger dwarf on. They all looked to be warriors. Though Maendis could only assume what dwarven warriors looked like. One of them took notice of her and motioned for her to come stand next to him. This dwarf introduced himself as Balin and he had a kind look to him. Maendis was just a few inches taller than this dwarf. He told her that they were cheering on the younger dwarf because he had yet to beat Dwalin, his brother, in a sparring match. He never told her what the younger dwarf’s name was. 

Maendis watched as the two of them went back and forth, essentially dancing with sharp objects in their hands. The younger one seemed to be growing frustrated that he could not disarm Dwalin. The black-haired dwarf made eye contact with her and he was distracted momentarily but it was long enough for Dwalin to knock his sword from his hand. 

“Better luck next time, laddie,” Dwalin said as he moved forward and clasped the younger dwarf on the shoulder before drawing him in close, pressing their foreheads together much like Maendis and her father do. 

Then all attention was on Maendis. 

“What is your name, little one?” Balin asked her as she looked at the sword in Dwalin’s hand and held her own hand out for him to give to her. Dwalin handed over the sword and Maendis jostled with its weight seeing how exactly she should hold it to get the most out of her weapon.

“Maendis and I am going to spar the prince later.” She said as they all chuckled at her words. She didn’t like that they weren’t taking her serious. “I will spar him and I will win.” 

The younger dwarf smiled at her and motioned for her to step out next to him. “Let us see if you are good enough to spar with the prince.” He said as he took a few steps away from her and bowed dramatically at her. She returned the bow and immediately got into her defensive stance. She raised her blunt sword and waited for the dwarf to move. He moved quickly and with force at her but she simply moved out of the way of his attack. His movements were predictable. Long harsh swings that had a lot of power behind them but it was easy enough to get out of their path. 

The two of them danced around each other or more so Maendis danced around the dwarf as he tried to land a hit. The crowd around them was cheering for both sides. Dwalin led the cheer for the dwarf and Balin was on Maendis’ side. The dwarf swung at her and she stepped into his reach, pressing the tip of her sword just under his chin. 

“Dead.” She whispered with a grin on her face as the two of them stood just a few inches away from each other, breathing heavily and locking eyes. He had the bluest eyes she had ever seen in her life and his face was handsome, to say the least. He was smiling at her as he dropped his sword to the ground and raised his hands up in surrender. Maendis felt such a rush from winning and she was bouncing on the balls of her feet with excitement. 

She moved away from the dwarf and looked back to the crowd. Balin was smiling at her with an approving look on his face and Dwalin seemed rather surprised. She turned back to the dwarf before her and asked what his name was. 

“Thorin, son of Thrain, at your service.” He said to her as he bowed and her jaw dropped to the ground. She stepped towards him and gave him a soft shove to his shoulder. She scolded him for hiding his identity from her and froze upon hearing her name being called out by her father. 

She turned towards the entrance of Erebor and found her father and mother standing there with her horse trailing behind them. She hung her head low and kept away from her father’s gaze. “I am sorry, Ada.” She spoke softly as Thorin moved next to her and shook Deldhithor’s hand. He explained that it was he who had asked Maendis to spar and got her distracted even though that wasn’t what happened. 

“My little flower is a free spirit, my prince. She would have come to you even if you had not invited her. She is too curious for her own good.” Her father chided as Maendis blushed at his words. He spoke the truth and they all could see it. Maendis had much to learn about the world before her. 

“It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Maendis. I must go and prepare for this feast.  I will look forward to seeing you there and make sure to save a dance for me, my lady.” Thorin spoke softly to the blonde as he reached down and brought her much smaller hand up to his mouth before placing a kiss on the back of it. This caused her to turn an even deeper shade of red and Thorin to laugh at her. The dwarf prince then wandered off with Dwalin and most of the crowd that had been surrounding them, leaving just Balin standing with the elven family. 

“Let me show you to your rooms,” Balin said to the three of them as a dwarf came by and took the reigns of their horses from Maendis’ father. The four of them walked into Erebor and Maendis had to stop to take in everything. It was truly remarkable and she could not wait to explore it later. Balin commented on her mother’s pregnancy and asked how long she had. Her mother remarked that he could come any day now. Maendis raised an eyebrow at her mother calling the baby in her a he. 

Balin brought them to their rooms and once the door closed that was when Maendis knew she was going to be scolded. 

“So you won a sparring match with the prince?” Her father smiled at her as she was taken aback by his words seeing as they weren’t ones telling her that she had disobeyed him. He drew his daughter into his arms and laughed. 

“I did not know it was the prince, Ada. Not until after I put my sword to his throat.” She remarked as her words made her father laugh even deeper. Her mother was smiling down at the two of them. Her hands rested on her bump and she gently caressed it. 

“If this one has half the will that she does, we will surely die an early death.”