Disclaimer: The Hobbit belongs to Tolkien and Peter Jackson. I just have a fascination with Thorin and his nephews.
My Sister's Keeper
The stench of death filled his nostrils and turned his stomach. The moans and cries of the dying echoed in his ears. After the massacre of his family that he'd been privy to witness at Azanulbizar, first his grandfather and then his baby brother, Thorin wished he had died with them. He knelt on the battlefield next to the body of Frerin, his dislocated shoulder useless and pain slicing through his bruised ribs as he cradled his brother's lifeless body to his chest. Guilt gnawed at him, twisting his insides. If only he'd been faster. If only he'd thought to look for his little brother instead of thirsting for revenge for their grandfather's death. If only he'd watched his own back, then Frerin wouldn't have had to give his life for Thorin's. Despair rolled over the royal dwarf in waves, and he leaned over his brother's body and released a scream of grief and anger.
The grief-stricken Thorin looked up to see his sister's husband running toward him across the battlefield, his blonde hair matted with blood that dribbled down his temple. His sword was clutched in his hand, an expression of horror on his face as his gaze fell upon Frerin. "No," he breathed, falling to his knees beside his brothers-in-law. "No, this can't be."
Thorin gently lowered Frerin's body to the ground and stroked his bruised and bloody cheek as Ehren looked on. "My dear brother, I am so sorry. If only I could give my life in your place. I should have protected you. I should have been more alert." A great sob caught in his throat and he felt Ehren's hand come to rest on his shoulder. "Brother, how can I go on without you?"
A great shout arose from the remaining soldiers around them. Both Thorin and Ehren looked up.
"More orcs!" Dwalin called to his best friend, now his king. The dwarf warrior gripped his sword and shield, his face grim as he stalked toward Thorin. "You're injured. With that shoulder, you'll never last in battle."
Thorin growled menacingly. "They have murdered my family. I must avenge their deaths." He stroked Frerin's cheek one last time before rising to his feet and grasping his sword with the hand of his uninjured arm. He charged the orcs, a battle cry of rage on his lips.
Now the orcs were threatening the dwarves' peaceful existence in Ered Luin. Fury bubbled up in Thorin's chest as he rode his sturdy paint horse into battle. Of his family, all he had left were his sister, Dis, her husband, Ehren, and their little four-year-old son, Fili. Thorin vowed that these orcs would not harm his family and the peace they sought in Ered Luin. Fili would grow up knowing only a happy home and not the nomadic existence that had befallen the dwarves of Erebor.
"Here they come," Erhren muttered at his side, seated on his sleek brown horse. His face was set in anger, his brown eyes narrowed as he focused on the approaching enemy.
Dwalin, on Thorin's other side, growled. "Let them come. We will tear them limb from limb." He hefted a heavy ax in his hand, shifting his grip until the weapon was sure and steady.
The sounds of orcs filled the air. Metal met metal and the smell of blood permeated their nostrils.
Thorin met the first orc he reached head on, swinging his sword. The battle was fierce, and the dwarf king took his rage out on orc after orc until his arm ached and trembled with exhaustion. Still, he kept fighting. These creatures would not take the new home his people had made for themselves. They wouldn't disturb the lives of Dis and Fili. He allowed his anger to consume him and spur him forward.
Thorin's blue eyes narrowed as he took out two orcs with a mighty swing, determined to kill as many of the revolting creatures as he could. A jolting blow on his left side knocked his sturdy oak shield off his arm. A horrendous popping sound echoed in his ears and a nauseating pain sliced through his shoulder. Thorin was suddenly unable to move his left arm. A groan of pain escaped his lips as he fell to his knees. Beads of sweat formed on his brow as he fumbled for the sword he had dropped and forced himself to his feet.
Another orc advanced on him, and the dwarf king gritted his teeth and swung his sword, taking down the ugly creature. Thorin blocked a blow from another orc, but was knocked to his feet by a snarling warg. His ribs exploded in pain, and he found it hard to draw in a breath.
Another wave of orcs swarmed the battlefield. Thorin gripped his sword, but black dots swam before his eyes when he tried to swing the heavy weapon. His ribs were broken; he couldn't get in a good, deep breath. Now his uninjured arm trembled with the effort of holding his sword as he tried to push to his feet. Perhaps he would die here on this battlefield and join Grandfather and Frerin in the Halls of Waiting. Death would be an almost welcome relief from the guilt that plagued him every day, although he felt sick at the thought of bringing more grief and pain to his sweet baby sister. Blinking to fight of the darkness that threatened the edge of his vision, the royal dwarf realized that an orc stood above him, grinning as he prepared to deliver the final blow that would kill Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror.
"Thorin!" Ehren's voice rang out as he advanced on the orc, swinging his sword in a mighty arc.
Thorin watched in horror as the orc was just a bit faster than the dwarf, his sword slicing through the air and across the stomach of his sister's husband. Ehren fell with a gut-wrenching cry. Thorin surged to his feet spurred on by adrenaline and beheaded the orc, its head rolling a few feet away to rest against the dead body of one of its fellow orcs.
"Ehren, no," Thorin groaned, dropping his sword and falling at Dis's husband's side, the pain from his ribs nearly bending him double. "You'll be fine," he gasped although he knew as he looked at the gaping wound that Ehren would not be with them much longer.
"Thorin," his brother-in-law gasped, "you have to take care of Dis and Fili for me."
The royal dwarf swallowed around the lump in his throat and smoothed Ehren's blonde hair back from his bloody and bruised face. "You know I will, brother." Brown eyes that usually sparked with mirth were now dull with pain.
"Make sure Dis knows how much I love her. Don't let Fili forget me." Blood trickled from Ehren's alarmingly pale lips, and he choked on it as he spoke.
"He will never forget you. I will see to it; I promise you." Thorin felt hot tears warm his cheeks. "I'm sorry, brother. I have failed you. My rashness in battle has led to this for you."
"My choice," Ehren coughed. "Not your fault." He was silent for a moment, grateful when Thorin took his hand and squeezed it reassuringly. "My Fili, will he not make a good king someday?" he whispered as his strength began to fade.
"Your Fili will make an excellent king, no doubt the best Erebor has ever seen. We will reclaim Erebor, and your son will succeed me as king. You have my word," Thorin vowed.
"Take care of them, Thorin," he whispered as his eyes fluttered closed.
"Ehren," Thorin moaned, squeezing his brother-in-law's hand. There was no response. Ehren's chest rose and fell once more and then was still. He was gone. With a roar of rage, Thorin took up his sword although he could barely stand and rejoined the battle, no longer caring if he lived or died.
"Mother, when is Da coming home?" Fili asked. He sat in one of the wooden chairs at the kitchen table, swinging his legs happily as he ate the slice of buttered bread his mother had fixed for him.
"Soon, I hope," Dis answered as she brushed sweaty tendrils of dark hair back from her face and scrubbed at a particularly stubborn stain on the floor.
"Is he still helping Uncle fight the orcs?" the boy asked as he licked the butter from his fingers.
"Don't lick your fingers, Fili. Go wash them," Dis instructed. "Yes, he's helping Uncle Thorin battle the orcs."
A hint of worry shone in the boy's blue eyes that were much like his uncles' and his mother's when he returned from the wash basin. "Da and Uncle won't let the orcs come here, will they?"
Dis put down her scrub rag and pushed to her feet, moving to her sonr. She lifted him onto her hip and bounced him up and down until he giggled. "Da and Uncle are very strong and very brave. So are the other dwarves. They will best the orcs on the battlefield, Fili. Da and Uncle Thorin would never let the orcs harm you, little one."
The boy breathed a sigh of relief and wrapped his arms around his mother's neck as he fought against a yawn.
Dis smothered a grin. Her little boy was growing up so quickly. When Ehren returned from the battlefield, he would be so proud of his blonde-haired son. "Come, Fili, it's time for your nap."
"I'm getting too old for naps, Mother," Fili protested. "Soon I'll be big enough to help Da and Uncle defeat the orcs."
"Not for a long while yet, Fili," Dis cautioned as she tucked him beneath the cool sheets on his bed. "Now sleep and when you wake up it will be time for dinner." She sat on the edge of the bed and stroked her son's hair until his breathing evened out in slumber.
Worry niggled in her gut as she thought of her husband and her brother. She'd told Fili they were brave and strong, and they were, yet there were no guarantees in this life. She and Thorin knew that better than anyone else. A sigh escaped her lips. It did her no good to sit still and worry. She would keep herself busy with cleaning and likely word of the battle would come soon enough. Dis resolutely pushed herself up from her son's bed and resumed her scrubbing.
To Be Continued…
Ehren is German and means "honorable."
I'm a bit nervous about this chapter. I'm much better at emotional drama than scenes on a battlefield. Plus, I worry about getting the facts in Tolkien's world correct.
Thanks to "thenerdist2000" for being a sounding board for ideas.