The last time she had ventured out into the woods on the slopes of Erebor had been in the autumn before her baby was born when she collected seasonal wild food and that seemed such a long time ago. Now that spring was here, and well under way, she felt the need to venture out there again, to take in the sights of spring.
She had been waiting a number of days for her chance to slip away into the woods unnoticed by the guards or anyone else whom laboured in Kili's household, which was not an easy task. She loved Kili dearly, and never regretted for a moment her life with him, but ever since her little adventure last summer and even though she had made it clear to the guards that she valued her privacy, they were never that far away. The dwarrows who assisted Beyla in her house keep duties were worse - always inquiring after her health and insisting on doing things for her which she was perfectly capable of doing herself. The constant fussing and following of her footsteps was beginning to get tiresome to say the least, and the desire for solitude and peace partly fueled her need to get away in the woods for a while.
The day she had decided to do this, a warm, sunny day that had just called for her to go out into the woods, she had packed a new journal, a small wooden box of dry water colour paints that the scribes had made for her, charcoal sticks, a tin palate, brushes of various sizes, a clay pot, a flask of water and a woolen blanket to sit on into a bag.
After she had done that, she had been interrupted by a visit from her sister and was unable to get away. Rather than unpack, she just put the bag to one side for another day. The next day, there had been rain, so she'd stayed in her library, attempting to read, which was almost impossible to do because Linny wanted her constant attention. She couldn't get frustrated or angry with the lass, put aside her book and gave her her full attention. Over the coming days, there were various reasons why she wasn't able to get away, but on this day, everything just seemed to fall into place to allow her to temporarily escape.
Today, Beyla and her lads had set out on a trip to Dale, which the lads had been buzzing with excitement about for days. There was a spring fair in Erebor's market place, were dwarrows were selling the fruits of their crafts, and most of the dwarrows who assisted Beyla had gone to that. The spring fair attracted more visitors to the mountain, so most of the guards had been reassigned for the day to keep order in the market place. Loni was stationed at the market place today to oversee their work. Due to the extra visitors to the mountain, even Kili was not going to be at home and had duties with the council. He'd be gone for hours. Today was the perfect opportunity to get away.
Linny was now old enough to be carried in a sling that kept her arms and hands free and she carried her in that. She didn't expect to encounter any trouble, but she took her sword and wooden staff with her all the same, questioning how she would fight off brigands or orcs if she encountered any. This wasn't because she couldn't fight - Ottr and her older brothers had taught her well, and she'd fought off orcs and wargs in the past. She almost changed her mind and stayed, but it wasn't in her nature to hide from an imagined danger. It was, after all, a simple walk in the woods.
"What could go wrong?" she murmured to herself. As she muttered those words, a sense of dread momentarily raised it's ugly head, but she shrugged it off. "Don't be silly..."
She decided that it would be prudent to take Laddie with her - that dog had not been on a real work since they visited Beorn, and he would warn her if there was any sign of trouble nearby. She searched for him, first in her library - the dog had a favourite spot in front of the fire-place where he liked to snooze while she worked there, but this morning, he wasn't there. She checked Kili's study - it was empty - he had taken Fundin with him to the council chambers, and Kari the raven was visiting Ravenhill, or at least, that was where she assumed the bird was. She searched for him in the bedroom, and Linny's nursery - when he wasn't by the fire in her library, he was usually in there, Linny's canine protector.
The dog wasn't there, either, and deciding that there was one last place to look, she went to the kitchen and found him and Mist sleeping in front of the fire-place, which wasn't even lit as no one would be using it today. The table was bare today and she placed Linny in the centre while she packed some food and drink into her bag. Laddie lifted his head when the sound of her rummaging in the kitchen woke him. He yawned and got to his feet, before stretching, Mist following suit a moment or so later. When she finished packing, the dwarrowdam smiled at the two dogs prancing around her feet.
"I don't know where you two get your energy from, rushing around like that after just waking up. But still, it is good that you are eager for a walk." She slung her bag over her shoulder and picked Linny up, whom, seeing the dogs, reached out for them. The baby had developed a curiosity about the dogs and always wanted to touch them. "Not yet, Linny. We have a way to go." She spotted one of Linny's wooden toys on the dresser and, in passing, picked that up and gave it to her to distract her from the dogs. Now, it was time to go.
Laddie and Mist shot out into the garden when she opened the door and she was glad to see that despite becoming older, both dogs still had some vitality. Laddie stopped at the gate and looked back at her, as if to tell her to hurry up!
Stepping out into the garden, the first thing she noticed was the slight chill to the air of the early spring morn and she was glad that she'd had the foresight to ensure that Linny was well wrapped up against the chill. If it warmed later, there were means to stop the dwarfling from becoming over-heated. Once out of the garden and on the stony path to the woods, Laddie and Mist calmed down and walked at her heels.
The trees, though still very much bare of leaf, were showing some signs of awakening - buds were beginning to sprout, and several species, blackthorn, hazel and wild cheery which which flowered early before they got their leaves were starting to blossom. This brought a lightness to her heart, and her only regret was that Kili wasn't free to join them on this trip. She was, however, glad that she had evaded the guards and not brought any along with her - she hoped that she would encounter animals in the woods and their noise would frighten most of them away.
Gradually, the chill gave way to warmth as the morning wore on, and finally, when she she was in a a glade deep in the woods, the temperature was comfortable enough for her to stop and set up a space for her to write in her nature journal. She found a patch of dry grass and prepared the space for her work, using the blanket she had brought with her to provide a comfortable spot to sit on. As she worked, Laddie and Mist explored the glade, and when they had satisfied their natural curiosity about the place, the laid down nearby.
She picked Linny up from where she had laid her in the grass while she put down the blanket and walked with her around the glade, to show her plants, flowers and trees that she found interesting. If they had a recognizable name in Khuzdul, (which was rare, since dwarves rarely named plants - they had potentially a thousand names for a type of common gemstone that came in different colours, but none for plants.) and if there was no name in Khuzdul, if she knew the name in the tongue of men she gave that, instead. Some, she had no name for at all, and those were the ones she would record today.
A few months back, Linny would not have paid any attention to what her mother was showing her, and though it was unlikely that Linny understood, she kept talking to her all the way around the glade.
When the young mother had finished showing her daughter the wonders of the glade, she settled down on the blanket and noticed that Linny was hungry and began to feed her before she started her work. While she did this, she took the opportunity to listen to the bird song of the woods, and, if she kept still, she could detect the tapping of a wood-pecker as it searched for grubs in the bark, the call of a cuckoo, and the founds of birds that she found difficult to identify. She felt at ease and the activities of the birds going about their day meant that there was nothing threatening in this part of the woods. Linny was relaxed because her mother was, and after feeding, she drifted off to sleep. After making a comfortable bed for her daughter, the dwarrowdam set up her working area for her paints, and began to draw in her note book. She chose a bluebell flower, at its peak, before it would begin to wilt, occasionally checking on Linny. The babe slept.
One consequence of having spent a lot of time outdoors, even living in woods, meant that she was sensitive to the passage of time, the shifting of shadows in the glade, and when she finished the bluebells, and allowed the painting to dry, she sensed that it was getting late. She cleaned her brushes and disgarded the dirty water before beginning to pack up her paints and belongings. It was time to be heading back before she and Linny were missed and a search party formed looking for them. The book was the last thing to be put away, even after the blanket. By this time, Linny was awake and when her mother picked her up to carry her back home, she took a great interest in her hair. The dwarrowdam's need to get out of the mountain had been satified for now, but she felt the faint tug of wanderlust urging her off to seek new sights and lands. For how long she could ignore it, she had no idea, but that wanderlust was getting stronger.