Lost and Found

Pre-Quest story for the brothers Ri. I realize that there are more popular members of our favorite dwarven company, but Nori and his brothers are my favorite. I hope you enjoy, but if you don't then that is okay too.

I own nothing at all.

Chapter One

Dori worried. That was his nature. He worried for his brothers. He worried for his people who had lost their homes and had reestablish within the Blue Mountains. He worried about what others would think about his family. He couldn't help it. That is just what he did, but this time…this time his worry was eating him up inside. Nori had been missing for the last fourteen months after Dori and he had one of the worst fights the two had ever had before. He didn't think anything of Nori's absence in the first three months of him having slammed back out of their life like the middle brother did from time to time. Dori wasn't too terribly bothered after six months. When first nine and then twelve months slipped past, Dori began to panic. Where was his Nori? At fourteen months the panic turned into terror.

"Why did I have to open my big mouth?" Dori groaned to himself as he walked next to his despondent, younger brother on the way home from the market, "I know Nori never takes my advice well. Why do I always have to get into it with that irritating, arrogant, stubborn, thieving…."

"I can hear you, you know," Ori sighed as his older brother stiffened, "You're muttering."

"I am not," Dori denied before deflating, "What was I muttering?"

"About Nori," Ori said as he looked away, "Is he never coming home again? I miss him, Dori. I miss him so much."

Ori wasn't taking things well. The youngest of the three brothers loved each of his elder brothers dearly. Ori used to say as a child that Dori was Dori and Nori was Nori and both were fine as they were. Dori didn't really want to argue terribly with Nori since it upset the youngest so bad. It was just that the elder brother could see consequences that Nori could not in his actions.

"Nori will come home right as rain soon," Dori assured as the younger looked up at him with hopeful eyes, "I bet he's just off on one of his adventures and has lost track of the time."

"I hope so," Ori breathed looking a bit happier, "I've missed him so much. I like when he growls in the morning when you wake him up. It doesn't feel like home without Nori's growls."

"Really now?" Dori chuckled secretly missing those growls as well, "It is beyond rude to growl at a person when he is just trying to help them get up on time. You would think he's on vacation the way he lounges around when he gets home."

"I think he is," Ori offered quietly as Dori blinked, "I think this is the only place that Nori feels the safest and allows himself to relax. He only gets angry when you fuss."

Dori sighed as he nodded his agreement. Ori made a good point. Nori took off and then came back when he felt like it, but he always came back. The truth of the matter was that whenever Nori left, all the bills that Dori worked hard to stay ahead of where paid off completely. Dori had his hunch of where the money came from, but Nori never left his brothers without. Not once.

"Please don't fuss with Nori when he finally comes home," Ori begged as Dori again blinked down at him, "I want our family back together again. I miss having two brothers. Two, Dori."

"Two, indeed," Dori agreed as Ori relaxed, "I will not fuss with Nori when he gets home. I promise, Ori. You are right. It is time to be a family again."

Ori seemed so relieved that Dori smiled brightly at the younger. Together the two walked up to their home before Dori froze and jerked Ori to a stop.

"Dori?"

"Did you close the door like I asked you to?" Dori whispered as his younger brother looked confused, "Did you?"

"Of course," Ori answered before quieting as Dori gestured for him to lower his voice, "Closed and locked it like always."

"Stay here," Dori ordered as Ori looked over and gasped at seeing the door to their home slightly open, "Watch for anyone approaching the house."

Ori nodded as Dori handed him over the basket he was carrying and crept towards their home with a dagger out and ready. The older dwarf peeked into his home and strained his ears for any noise, but everything seemed quiet and still within. Slowly, Dori opened the door fully and froze once again as light illuminated the front entrance way. A person was lying face down on the floor. This person had on a tattered cloak and dirty, long hair strewn about the head. Whoever it was had no boots on at all and seemed filthy. Whoever this was didn't seem a threat so Dori put away his dagger and hummed trying to figure out what to do next.

"My goodness. Who are you?" Dori gaped before kneeling to turn the person over only to hiss in horror when he got a look at the other's face.

It was Nori. It was his brother lying unconscious on the floor with part of his face covered in dark bruises. It was his brother with a high fever and minute trembles that shook his body as he shivered pitifully from illness. Nori was seriously sick judging by his allowing his hair and beard to fall out of his trademark fashion, lack of response that he had been moved, and labored breathing. His eyebrow braids had even been cut off which Nori would have never allowed. Someone had done this to his brother. Dori knew that without a doubt.

"Ori, go get Oin!" Dori snapped out as the big brother in him took charge.

"Why?" Ori called as he hurried inside before dropping everything as he slid to get to Nori, "Brother!"

"Go get Oin," Dori ordered as he reached and slid his arms beneath Nori's shoulders and knees to lift his younger brother off the floor, "Run as fast as you can. Nori's ill and possibly wounded judging by the bruises on his face. Hurry, Ori."

Dori heard his brother race away as he stood and grimaced at how light Nori felt as he lay limp in the elder's arms. There was also a very curious metallic clink that rang out with each step Dori was taking.

"What have you gotten yourself into now?" Dori groaned as he carried Nori to his room and worry gnawed at him as his brother's head fell lax over his arm, "What has happened and did you pick the lock again? Where is your key?"

Of course Nori didn't answer at all and the elder dwarf set him down on his bed. Dori swore when he felt his brother's forehead and realized just how ill Nori was. Quickly, Dori stripped Nori down and gritted his teeth as he assisted the younger into a fresh nightshirt before tucking him into bed. Nori had only had on a tunic that went past his knees and the cloak. Dori pulled up the covers at the foot of the bed to examine something that made his insides grow cold and answered the mystery of the strange clinking that he had heard.

"What are these?" Dori growled as he examined the heavy manacles that gripped each of Nori's ankles, "Who the hell put these on you, Brother? And why are you so damn thin? What has happened, Nori?"

Nori twitched not at all when the covers were tucked back over his feet. The elder Ri was furious at the state of his brother's soles. Nori had walked here barefoot because nothing else explained those cuts and bruises on the bottom of his brother's feet. Dori hurried to get a bowl of fresh water with a washcloth and was working on cleaning Nori as best as he could when Ori and Oin arrived with Gloin following.

"Let me see him," Oin instructed as Dori stepped back, "Tell me his state when you found him."

"Unconscious and burning to the touch," Dori admitted as Ori looked close to tears, "He is having issues drawing in air judging by his breathing. Bruises on his face and complete lack of response to being moved and cleaned up a little. He's woefully thin and there are manacles that had chains attached to them at some point around his ankles."

"Let me see," Gloin blurted as he strode to the foot of Nori's bed and bent to examine the manacles once he had uncovered the ill dwarf's lower legs, "These are not dwarven made pieces and the skin is chafed and cut beneath. Your brother fell into something foul while he was gone."

"I know that," Dori bit out angrily as he also examined his brother's ankles in seething rage, "Can you get those off?"

"I think I know what may have occurred to Nori," Oin groaned as he showed everyone a brand on Nori's upper arm, "I think…I think Nori somehow got sold into the slave trade."

Dori tensed as Ori choked. Slave trade? Nori? His little brother had been sold into the slave trade? What?

"I'll kill them!" Dori bellowed making Ori, Gloin, and Oin stare at him in shock, "I'll kill whoever did this! I will hunt each and every person down who dared to lay a finger on my brother! Ori, pack my travel gear! Where is my sword?"

"Calm yourself," Gloin ordered as Dori shook in anger, "You need to stay here for now. Nori needs you. The lads not well."

"Yes. Right," Dori frowned out watching as Oin continued to examine his brother, "I…botherations. What was I going on about? Not thinking rationally at the moment. My apologies."

"I'd be the same way if someone had hurt Oin," Gloin soothed as he used some of his tools he had pulled from his coat to try and get the manacles open, "Look to your youngest."

Dori turned and saw Ori trembling violently. Blast it all! He had forgotten about Ori.

"It's going to be fine," Dori began as he reached and drew Ori closer to his side, "Nori's tough. He'll be okay."

"Who did this?" Ori squeaked before his face hardened, "Who sold Nori into slavery? Who, Dori?"

"I don't know," Dori admitted, "But I will be finding out and they will pay for this."

"Ori, go and boil me some water," Oin spoke up as the youngest looked up, "Nori, will need to take some medicine and a medicinal tea will be the easiest for him to swallow in his state.

Ori nodded and strode off quickly.

"It's not a good diagnosis, Dori," Oin sighed as Dori stiffened, "Your brother has been fighting pneumonia for some time now. His labored breathing is because of the fluid in his lungs. He also has some broken ribs which it looks like he reset himself. I will wrap them now. Help me sit him up."

Dori leaned his brother upright and allowed Nori's head to rest on his shoulder as Oin loosened the ties to slip his brother's nightshirt around his waist. He marveled again at how long his younger brother's hair really was when it wasn't woven into his usual style as he held the length out of the way for the healer. Oin worked fast in wrapping Nori's torso before assisting Dori in pulling the nightshirt back up around the ill dwarf's shoulders.

"Did you see the healing whip marks?" Oin questioned as Dori's face darkened, "Those should heal without leaving scars. The wounds aren't too deep."

"There we go," Gloin muttered as he unlatched the last manacle, "Oin, I think this ankle is infected worse than the other."

Dori growled low as he beheld the raw skin and infected cuts that littered Nori's ankles. Oin used the fresh water Dori had brought in and cleansed the wounds before using a balm and wrapping each ankle. He did the same for the bottom of Nori's feet.

"I'm going to do something that you are not going to like," Oin sighed as Dori looked up warily, "The brand on Nori's arm looks like it never healed right. I'm going to have to use a hot knife and burn the infections away which will also rid your brother of the slave mark."

Dori swallowed harshly and nodded as Ori came back into the room with a cup of boiling water.

"Ori, I need you to go back to the market and get me some soup herbs," Dori lied as Oin nodded knowing what Dori was doing, "Nori will need to eat soup for a bit of time. Hurry quickly."

"Okay," Ori agreed looking fretful, but taking off to do what he could for Nori.

Dori's rage burnt within him as Nori screamed in pain while his older brother hugged him against his chest and stabilized his right arm when Oin cauterized the brand. Nori struggled weakly as Oin finished and Dori hummed softly to his brother to try and soothe the hurt away.

"No more," Nori mumbled into Dori's shoulder not really understanding what was going on, "No more. Stop. Leave me be."

"It's okay. Hush now," Dori soothed as Nori's murmuring faltered while Oin bandaged the burns, "I'm right here, Nori. You're safe. I'm here now, Brother."

Nori slipped back into unconsciousness after Dori had worked some of Oin's medicinal tea into him. The older brother tenderly tucked Nori under a thick blanket as the healer placed a cool cloth on the ill dwarf's forehead.

"Get Thorin," Dori snarled as Gloin regarded him grimly, "I think he should know that slavers have gotten ahold of one of our people."

"Agreed," Gloin bit out as he rose, "I'll be back shortly."

Dori numbly listened to all the instructions on how to care for his brother before Oin took his leave. The anger built again at seeing that Nori had no color to his face besides the red blush of fever that stained his cheeks. Dori stroked the back of his hand against his brother's cheek in anguish at Nori's condition. There would be hell to pay and Dori pledged to be there to get his due for what had been done to his brother. Ori charged back into the room and stopped as he looked at Nori in fear.

"Is he going to be okay?" Ori demanded looking younger than he really was in his fright for Nori, "Is he?"

"With good care he will," Dori reassured as Ori listened, "You and I will take good care of Nori, won't we?"

"Of course," Ori swore, "I'm not leaving Nori's side."

"That's the spirit," Dori complimented to try to make Ori feel better before startling at a pounding on the door, "Ori, stay with our brother. I need to speak with Thorin and I think that is who is here. Come and get me if there is any change in Nori's condition."

"I will," Ori agreed and settled in a chair next to Nori as the youngest held one of his brother's hands, "Hi, Nori. I've missed you so much."

The oldest brother watched as Ori spoke softly to their brother before hurrying to the door when another bit of pounding rang out. Dori let Thorin in and was a bit surprised to also see Balin and Dwalin following with Gloin.

"Let me see him," Thorin insisted as Dori nodded and led the prince to Nori's room.

Ori looked up as Thorin walked in and regarded Nori within his bed. Thunderclouds graced the prince's face and he hissed angrily as Balin shook his head in despair. Dori agreed with Dwalin's choice of curse words. There would be hell to pay once Nori was well again.

"This will not go without being punished," Thorin spat as Dori nodded, "Slavers will think twice before taking a dwarf again. Show me the manacles."

"They are here," Dori began as he handed the regal dwarf the metal bits, "Those don't look like any blacksmithing from around here. I'm thinking that the oversea slavers have made it to our lands."

"I agree," Thorin growled as he handed Dwalin one of the manacles to examine, "Has Nori said anything?"

"In this state?" Dori snorted before sobering and sending Thorin a look of apology, "I'm sorry there is no excuse for my behavior besides stress that my brother lies so ill. The only things I've heard from Nori so far are screams of pain and begging for the pain to stop."

"What pain?" Ori gasped making Dori grimace, "Why was Nori in pain?"

"One of his wounds just needed treatment and it was painful. He's going to be okay with care, Ori," Dori soothed, "Calm yourself while you are near Nori. He will feel the tension in the air and he doesn't need that right now."

Thorin followed with his entourage as Dori led them from the room.

"What now?" Dori asked seething in anger, "I want to know everything. I want to be there when these slavers get their due."

"I will track Nori's trail," Dwalin began as Thorin nodded, "Even ill, Nori is clever. He would have left marks to help us track the slavers. We should have sent out more than just he to investigate the rumors."

Dori froze as he processed the words of the warrior as Balin glared at his younger brother. Thorin remained calm as Dori leveled a look of outrage on the dwarf.

To be continued…