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A Slingshot for a Scribe

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15th Wedmath, 2911

The day I turned forty and entered dwarvern puberty, I asked my mother to tell me how she had met my father and what she knew about him. He has always been a mystery to me. All I know is that he is absent from my life and as a result, I know nothing at all about him.

It was on that day when I missed his absence most of all. Who was he? Why wasn't he here? I could see that the questions I asked upset mother, but I needed to know the answers to them, and I had many. I had asked her before of course, but she always brushed the questions aside because they were painful for her to answer. Was he even alive? That I do not know.

Of course, the tale she told me went beyond her own personal history and involved many people that I didn’t expect to be a part of the tale, but that’s how stories go, isn’t it?
I suppose I should write a little something about myself before I get started on that. I am Ori, the youngest of three brothers. Dori is the eldest and looks after me almost as much as mother does. Nori is the one in the middle. He is always getting himself into trouble with the law and brings shame on us all. He and Dori never see eye to eye, but that is a tale for another time, I think, but I will say this. He was absent that day as well, for he had once again got himself into trouble and Mr Dwalin was out hunting for him. Dwalin always scares me because he always looks like he's about to punch someone and whenever he visits us when a petty crime has occurred, Dori is bombarded with dozens of awkward questions. Amad has long since ceased to answer them because they stress her so.

Our mother is called Skafid. She’s not the best of mothers, or so that is what a lot of people will say. That will become clear as you read my journal.
One day, I hope to become King Thorin’s royal scribe, like Balin is now, but because of my family background, most people laugh at me when I tell them that. They say it will never happen because of Nori and because of my mother, but Balin is kind enough to let me read books in the library. The King’s nephews and young Gimli can usually be found in there, much to their reluctance, because they are being taught what is needed to run a kingdom. They would much rather be out in the training yard getting lessons from Mr Dwalin instead. I don’t know why they don’t like their lessons in the library. I would give anything in Middle-earth to learn what they are being taught. Much of the time I feel invisible and only Balin really encourages me with my interests. It is surprising that Balin does this because he is Mr Dwalin's brother, and Mr Dwalin glares at me every time he sees me in the library.

Of the King's nephews, Kili is my friend. He has more free time to mess around than Fili does. Not everyone likes Kili's choice of playmate of course, but there aren't any other boys that he can play with, other than his brother and Gimli, of course. Dwarven children are rare. Earlier in the day, we sneaked some honey cakes from the kitchens and ate them in the stable outside the cottage Kili lives in with his mother, brother and uncle. Kili told me that I should make some wishes because it is my birthday, but I should keep them secret, or they wouldn't come true. I just think he was trying to cheer me up because the day hadn't been a nice one.

This is what I wished for:

That Adad would come home.
That Nori would come home and stop getting into trouble.
And finally, Balin would accept me as an apprentice.

Dori gave me this journal for my birthday to write and draw in. I don't know how he managed to scrape together the money for it because we are always broke, but he must have found a way. Amad gave me a knitted jumper, the wool of which makes me itch all the time, but that doesn't bother me because she made it. She is always knitting something: scarves, gloves, blankets, jumpers...
I really missed Nori that day. He should have been with us, but I wasn't angry with him, just sad that he was there.

I asked the question when we were alone in the living room of our cottage, coals burning in the fire, me sat on the cold bare floor and Amad's lap full of her knitting - a jumper she was making for Dori. She sighed and looked at me with a sad expression, but she decided that it was time that I knew the truth and began to tell me the tale.

I decided to write down the story what my mother told me. Perhaps if I do a good job of it, and show it to Balin, he will allow me to be his apprentice. One can hope, I suppose.

This is what she told me. I hope that I can do the tale the justice that it deserves.