|I've Seen Hell
Author: CeffylGwyn PM
It is said that Thorin Oakenshield, one of the mighty dwarven kings of old; is buried deep under the Lonely Mountain. Tales tell of the Great Age he lived in, but for many, including Hlífhrím, a young dwarf-woman from the Longbeard clan; these are just myths and legends - small glimmers of hope in a world growing ever darker. For this is the Fifth Age and Middle-Earth has changed.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Thorin - Chapters: 18 - Words: 44,949 - Reviews: 208 - Favs: 53 - Follows: 108 - Updated: 05-18-13 - Published: 01-30-13 - id: 8963452
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in" - Leonard Cohen
The end of the Third Age was a time filled with uncertainty, and yet marked by a number of acts of great courage and humility. It was the time, when Hobbits, or Shirefolk as they are sometimes known, (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee; as well as Peregrin Took and Meriadock Brandybuck are several of note) slowly made their mark on the fate of Arda.
The Fourth Age, as the Third, and Second did before it, began with a sense of hope. The War of the Ring was won - the Ring destroyed and the Dark Lord Sauron with it. King Aragorn Elessar, and his wife Arwen Undomiel of the elves, were crowned King and Queen of Gondor; Gandalf, who had once been Grey and became White passed over into the West with the elves. The fair folk began to all but disappear from Middle-Earth; and for three and a half, thousand years, Arda was at peace.
There was of course, in that time, a number of conflicts and wars, but at the end of all things, there was happiness within the hearts of the people of Middle-earth. However, things change; and slowly, as the Fourth Age progressed, there was a subtle shift in power. None were quite sure how it happened, but the mightiest cities of Middle-Earth began to crumble. From the inside. Kings and Queens reverted back to the old ways - full of lust for power; and with no regard of the lessons learned by their forefathers. For that is ever the way of the world.
In the last two-hundred years of the Fourth Age, a great host came from the East - full of righteous anger and revenge directed at the people of Middle-Earth. An army filled with every nameable creature that had ever found itself 'wronged' by their hand - Orcs, Goblins, Ologi-hai (trolls bred to move in daylight), Easterlings and more poured through Rhún and what was once Mordor. From the South, rose the Haradrium and men of Umbar.
The people of Middle-Earth stood no chance. No help came from the elves - they had all faded, or gone into the West. The once-mighty kingdoms of men - Gondor, and Rohan; fell almost without a second thought. Those that were captured were forced into submission and life as slaves. Even the Dwarves, for all their stoutness were either captured or killed.
There were the lucky few however, that escaped this initial assault. Those that remembered the tales of old and who had stood true to the legends of their ancestors. Men from Rohan, and Gondor fled into the West. There, they united with any refugees from the Dwarven kingdoms (few that they were) and stood against the Eastern army along the line of the Grey Mountains.
The wounds from such a war ran deeper than any could imagine, and both sides came away bloodied; more-so than they cared to admit. What followed could be called a truce (not that either side officially recognised it as such); the free peoples of Middle-Earth inhabited the West of the Grey Mountains; and the Easterlings - the East. It was around this time, that one of the last children of full blooded Dwarven descent was born - Durin VII; and it was he who felt most keenly, the suffering of his brethren in the mines of the Easterlings.
By the time the Fifth Age began, for many that toiled in the East of Middle-Earth; freedom was only a memory. But, as it was said once before, some things that should not have been forgotten were lost and hope slowly began to fade. But even the smallest person can change the course of the future, and hope is never lost so long as there is one to carry the flame burning.
Hlífhrím couldn't help the groan that escaped her throat as she set the heavy bag from her back on the ground in front of her. She blinked, unused to the light coming from the entrance of the caves, when suddenly, she felt the stinging lash of a Goblin-whip cut across the length of her face. Roughly, she was jerked to her feet and held by her hair close to the face of one of the guards. Ugly things they were, she thought with dull humor.
"You, dwarf! Tired are yeh'?" It spat, pointed teeth gnashing close to her ear, Hlífrím almost retched at the smell of it's stinking breath, but managed to remain as still as she could. It didn't pay to aggravate their keepers - the slaves had learned that long ago.
"No Sir!" she squeaked; and roughly, the guard pushed her back the way she had come - down towards the mines.
"Well then get a move on!" he roared, cracking his whip at her heels as Hlífrím fled back down, further into the darkness. She was still breathing heavily when she reached her grumpy mining partner Geir. The old dwarf turned his one good eye on her and grunted; before resuming whatever it was he was doing. A dwarf never, ever went down a shaft alone, they always went in pairs - so that if one fell, the other would be able to hoist them to safety. Mining was a dangerous job, as their overlords had realised upon sending down human slaves to try and do a dwarf's work.
The mines, especially in the deep places were no place for a human, and many a slave perished in the darkness in the the early years. Deftly, Hlífhrím tied the rope around herself and waited for Geir to give her the signal to drop. When he did, she hoisted her pick over her shoulder and swung herself over the edge of the precipice; beginning the descent into the depths of the Lonely Mountain.
Hlífhrím had always loved the feeling of freedom she got, abseiling down the cliffsides within the mountain. It was the only place where she was able to fully relax - despite the fact that it was dangerous, and ruled over by Orcs and Goblins. When she finally stopped her descent - who knew how far down, Hlífhrím tugged on the rope once to let Greir know she was fine; and got to work. The Goblins demanded iron, gold and mithril for their fires, and that was what was given.
She had not been down for over an hour, her bag barely full, when there was a rumbling sound from the stone in front of her. Quickly she looked around for another miner, and spotted one, several meters above her head. Hlífhrím tried to reach him (there was always safety in numbers) but only just managed to press herself to the wall of the cavern, before rocks began to fall - dragging her down with them.
A/N: Well hello dear readers! Yes...I couldn't help myself, I had to start a new story...even though I have several others to complete as it is! This (horrible, rabid, inspiring) little plot bunny has been bouncing around in my head for a while now, and well, it was starting to give me a headache so I figured I'd better get it out there ;)
Please note, a) this is going to be a darkish story, and b) that if you haven't read the Hobbit...this story may spoil the ending for you :P Also this is set a long time after the events of LotR, in the beginning of the Fifth Age - and as such, a large portion may divulge into non-cannon because Tolkien never wrote that far.
Any research or added notes (and thanks!) will be here at the bottom!
Title of this fic is from a song in the soundtrack of BBC North and South (Which Richard Armitage is also in)...and it's brilliant! Only music, no lyrics, but very moving all the same :) The quote at the top is basically the 'slogan' or 'motto' for this story, and I think it's rather clever ;)
Hlífhrím: Frost Shield
Reviews are very much appreciated! :)