It was early spring-time in Ered Luin, the day cold and crisp. The two young princes were out riding. This was not a leisurely ride - there had been reports of goblins raiding small dwarven out-posts in the Low Lands and Haudh Lin. Most of the attacks had been mere thievery, but enough dwarves had been injured badly enough and there had been a couple of deaths for it to be considered a problem. This, of course, had to happen at a time when their Uncle was not here, causing Fili to consider there being more to this than it appeared to be.
Their uncle would have gone, had he not been on an errand to Bree and taken Dwalin, Bofur, Bifur and Bombur with him. Balin and their mother had been left in charge of things, something that gnawed at Fili. He was the Crown Prince, after all, so he naturally thought that the job should have gone to him, but he had the maturity to not voice it. Had Kili been in his position, the blonde haired prince was sure he would have done his best to object.
Balin had told them to just scout out the camp, and to report back its location, not to fight them. They had taken a pair of Gloin's hunting dogs to help track the goblins and the dogs effortlessly lopped on ahead.
Kili, riding ahead of his brother, turned slightly in his saddle, to call over his shoulder to him.
"You know, Fee, I think we could take on these goblins our selves and we won't have to bother Balin, or the rest of our uncle's soldiers with them."
Fili sighed - his brother was treating this like it was a hunting expedition. Fili shook his head. He shared his brother's enthusiasm and confidence, but he was more inclined to caution than he was. The weight of responsibility was greater on the young dwarf's shoulders, not just because he had to care for his little brother, but also because one day Fili would be king. This meant knowing when it was prudent to obey his elders.
"We should do as Balin instructed. Uncle did put him and mother in charge while he was gone, and you wouldn't want to cross her, would you?"
Kili was about to reply when the dogs suddenly changed the trail they were on, and curious, the two princes followed them.
Unbeknown to the two princes, a lone traveler had encountered a group of goblins and was fighting for their life. It was this that the dogs had scented upon the wind.
The hunting dogs raced towards what-ever it was that they had scented, and Kili, riding ahead, urged his pony into a gallop after them. Ever cautious, Fili shouted at Kili.
"Kili, wait!" but either his reckless brother couldn't hear him, or he decided to ignore him, because he carried on.
Cursing in Khuzdul, Fili encouraged his pony to follow, which wasn't difficult because the two ponies were often stabled and paddocked together and didn't like being parted.
Kili slowed his pony down when he detected the sound of fighting, and Fili followed suit. He breathed a sigh of relief, glad that his brother had slowed so that they could take the opportunity to assess the situation rather than barging straight in. Up ahead, Fili saw a figure surrounded by goblins, and it appeared that they could do with some help. Smiling grimly,he nodded to Kili.
"It looks like you'll get your wish, brother," he said. This was a first for the two brothers. They had practiced sword fighting on horse back with Dwalin and their uncle, but this was the first time battling against a real foe. Without another word, Fili drew his sword and charged at the nearest group of goblins, his brother following not following far behind.
The figure - it was difficult to determine if it was a dwarf or hobbit - Fili assumed that it was a hobbit they were charging to the rescue of - looked like they were going to be overwhelmed. He was familiar with the art of jousting, having practiced it with his Uncle, Dwalin and the young guards, and as his pony approached the goblins, he loped off the head of one of them and allowed his pony to run on a little further before turning him around for another attack. The scent of blood caused his pony to rear up, and it took all of his skill to keep in the saddle.
Following his brother, Kili whipped his mount to a faster speed and barrelled into the goblins, crushing them under his mount's hooves. He flashed Fili a smile.
The mysterious figure dispatched a goblin them-self. Working together, the two princes soon whittled down the numbers of goblins until there was only one left, which Fili beheaded with a stroke of his sword. Most of Kili's kills had been crushed under his pony's hooves, has he had less experience fighting in the saddle than his brother had. The mysterious figure had dispatched a good deal of goblins themselves, and the young prince was quite impressed.
Breathing heavily, the slight figure dropped their blade and drew back the brown hood that had, until now, obscured her features to reveal a bright, green-eyed, red-haired woman. Her hair hung loose about her shoulders.
"Thank you, sirs, for rescuing me," she said, bowing her head slightly. She had the short covering of red hair on her chin, which revealed her to be a dwarrowdam. "I am at your disposal, sirs, and in your debt. If there is anything I can do to repay your kindness in assisting me, anything at all, just mention it and I shall gladly do it."
After killing the last of the goblins, he dismounts and looks at the figure, expecting to see another dwarrow, and is surprised to find that it is a dwarrowdam instead, and is not sure what to make of her offer of repayment. In his mind, it is unneeded, especially as he and Kili would have assisted anyone they saw in trouble. He recovers from his surprise quickly and answered.
"Those goblins have been causing problems for a number of weeks now, attacking travelers and dwarven settlements. There could be more of them out there. If you can ride, we can go to Gondamon. It's not far from here, but first, are you injured?"
"Nay, I am quite capable of holding my own, sir. They did not mark me," she replied, her answer sounded quite odd to the dwarf prince's ears, as if she was hiding something. "But my pony, sir, he bolted when the goblins attacked."
The blonde prince chuckles at her answer.
"Nay, lass, I don't doubt your skill as a warrior, lass, for it is clear that you can take care of yourself, otherwise you wouldn't be out here by yourself, but even the most seasoned fighter can be wounded, if their foe can get in a blow. I was just making sure."
They were in a dilemma, because he couldn't be sure if they had killed all the goblins, and he didn't like the idea of a horse wandering the mountains. Suddenly remembering his manners, he bowed deeply as his mother and Balin had taught him.
"I am Fili, at your service, madam, and that is my brother, Kili."
During this time, Kili had dismounted his pony and had over heard the dwarrowdam mention her lost horse, and was studying the ground for the horse's tracks. It wasn't easy to find them against the disturbed ground, but the hunting dogs had detected the horse's scent. Kili called across to them with a grin on his face.
"We should be able to find the horse."
The dwarrowdam smiled at her rescuers. "I am Koldis," she said, taking a good look at the young brothers. Both were incredibly handsome, and she was drawn particularly to the blonde one who had spoken to her so gallantly. She noted from their attire that they were likely to be dwarrows of high rank, or possibly very wealthy, unlike herself, a vagabond fleeing from her past.
"Thank you my Lords," she said, taking a guess at their social station. "for assisting me. I am in your debt."
She smiled at the blonde prince coquettishly which caused the prince to blush.
Yes, she is odd, he thought. Not like the proper behaviour of a lady at all, and although it should have repulsed him, instead it intrigued him.
Kili's laugh brought him back to reality.
"If the horse galloped off, he could be far from here by now. Let's hope the horse has tired itself out."
He got back up onto his horse, and Kili did the same. He toyed with the idea of asking Koldis to ride with him, but he was too aware of his brother watching him so he didn't have the courage. The hunting dogs had caught the horse's scent and were following the trail, their tails lashing from side to side in excitement. After a time, he decided their progress was too slow, and he stopped his mount and dismounted, and turned to the dwarrowdam.
"This may take a while. We might find your horse more quickly if you rode with me."
Koldis nodded in agreement and allowed him to help her up on to the pony. When she was secure, he climbed up into the saddle behind her. They continued on their way and it was hard for him to keep erotic thoughts from entering his mind as they rode like that.
Gloin's hunting dogs stop suddenly and sniff frantically at the ground in an attempt to find the horse's scent again. He wasn't alarmed that they had lost the trail because the dogs would frequently do that on hunting trips - but he hoped that they had not been distracted by the scent of a boar or a deer. It did seem dangerous, to be out here on their own. Fili would have preferred to have taken the lass to Gondamon, as he had suggested, but his youthful, reckless side wasn't entirely dead yet and a part of him wanted to impress the lass.
"I can see, my Lord, that you and your brother are no ordinary dwarrows. Your dress, your fine weapons and these mounts are of the highest caliber - are ye royalty? Do you not find it dangerous to be out here, all alone?" Koldis asked, pressing herself closer to him. He blushed, feeling his loins stirring, sure that she had done it on purpose for that effect. He'd lain once or twice with lasses from the kitchens, so he knew seduction when he encountered it. To his relief, Kili appeared to be unaware of the game she was playing, and he felt some shame in how his body was responding. How had she worked it out so quickly?
"We are the king's nephews," he admitted, seeing that there was no use hiding it. "The truth is, lass, there aren't that many of us in the Blue Mountains. My brother and I aren't of an age to recall it, but after Smaug forced our Great Grandfather and his people out of the Lonely Mountain, many of those who survived ran to the Iron Hills to be with my cousin Dain, or wandered widely and got lost. Others didn't survive the War with the Orcs. Right now, our uncle and a group of dwarves are on an errand in Bree, so when we got word that goblins were causing trouble, my mother and Balin sent us out to look. Don't worry, our uncle and Dwalin made sure that we can defend our selves."