The light is white and dazzling, and the frozen water glitters, as cold and sharp as the edge of a blade. The sun is fading but I can see the battlefield, scattered with the dark silhouettes of bodies – friends or foes, my sight is too dim to see.
My gaze falls upon the tall walls of Erebor, black and mighty against the dying light, and I try to breathe once more, because the pain and longing becomes unbearable. The sound escaping my lips is ragged and deep, it is barely audible and still, it cuts through my whole being as if I had screamed.
I am looking at the field, at all the blood that has been shed, and I can only try to breathe a little longer, because there are no more words, nor thoughts. There is only grief, and cold, and a searing pain in my chest that has nothing to do with the blood that is soaking my right side and is threatening to choke me.
The rays of the sun grow darker and I know what is happening. I feel ready, and yet somehow I cannot yield to this unbearable pain, not yet. Kings do not kneel, and I still am King, though I know my moments are numbered. So I stand, as long as my legs will carry me.
And when I sink, eventually, the fall is not slow, nor gracious, nor soundless. It is heavy, painful and loud, like a rock thrust from the Mountain itself. And so it should be, because we have always clung to rock and stone.
As I lay at last on icy ground, I feel the snow against my back and my hair. I am shivering now, without the strength to move; it is strange that I should feel so weak, and yet so peaceful. The blood is leaving my body with every heartbeat, clotting in my lungs, forcing me to cough, but even that need is receding as my gaze meets the sky.
It is golden now, more beautiful than the subtlest alloy, and I wonder that I could forget for so many years that we are but poor silversmiths, compared to the beauties of Nature. I used to know it before, I used to stand upon the height of the Mountain with my hands full of precious stones, and I would always smile, because the infinite sky just above me could still display more shades, lights and mysteries than the gems I was holding...
It was long ago and still I remember. And as life is leaving my body, with every second that remains I can see once more every moment of my life, carved into my very soul, spirit and memory.
I have been blessed and cursed my entire life, and it will be the blessing and the curse of my death to remember everything one last time.
The water is frozen under me. The waterfall is still. The sky is golden. And I remember.