On an early Spring morning, two years after the Battle of Five Armies, Wren of Enedwaith, a young healer of Men entered the quickly restoring city of Dale, carrying her heavy sack behind her back. The air was crisp and fresh, streets already full of busy crowds, carts and travellers rushing by.
It was not hard to find the city infirmary, a tall building of yellow stone, and by the end of the first day, Wren had her position as a healer's apprentice, helping the Chief Healer. She hardly needed any additional education in her craft, but surely the old healer could not accept a fresh girl, who looked as if she were twelve, as his new surgeon. Her knowledge and skills, though, were unprecedented, and in the month that came she was given more and more responsibilities. She was also quiet, modest, her character even and morals untarnished. She wore the healer's robe, her odd hair of the brightest orange were braided in a stern do around her head, she wore no jewellery and was not known to associate with any men in town. The latter was one of her main merits in the eyes of the Chief Healer. Young girls from all Arda flocked to Dale to find themselves a husband, the city was flourishing, trade blooming between it and the City of Erebor, ruled by the renown war hero Dain Ironfoot, while many barrels and crates were shipped down the lake and the river to the Greenwood the Great, to the halls of the Elvenking Thranduil. It was the time of restoration and joy, and youth was as though inebriated by the hunger for life and love. There were weddings each week, and sometimes the Chief Healer felt he did nothing else but delivered babies in the city.
Wren of Enedwaith showed astonishing proficiency in midwifery as well as excellent skills in surgery. She was also endlessly industrious, she would work three shifts, and was still ready to join him at night to assist him in a complicated delivery. And for the first time in his service the Chief Healer lamented that one of his healers was never to leave his infirmary for the sake of starting a family. Wren, he thought, deserved such happiness, but he had very little hope for it. She was so obviously unattractive and odd that even drunk bargemen delivered to the infirmary to sober up and patch up their broken noses would show little interest in her. She was slender, almost sickly looking, had a body of a child, as well as strange copper hair, in an unruly curly mop around her head. Her face was angular, and her red mouth was excessively wide. Unlike other female healers in his infirmary she never decorated herself, the rest tried to enliven the dull, fern green attire with jewellery or at least expensive shoes, while she wore practical boots and possessed no necklaces, and no rings were ever seen on her tiny hands that matched her height just like her minuscule feet. She was as tall as most Dwarves visiting the city, although thrice as narrow.
Two months after her arrival Wren was in the inn she was renting a room at, and a drunk merchant grabbed her upper arm.
"Common, little fish, give us a kiss!" She jerked her arm out of his grasp, she was surprisingly strong for her size, but the man's mate was behind her, and she bumped into him.
"Why do you bother with this one?" The second one spat out, giving her a derisive look. "What a minger!"
"The more grateful she'll be for a bit warmth," the first one disgustingly licked his lips, and that was when Wren kneed him in the most sensitive areas. Years of medical practice helped her to determine the weakest spot and to ensure the most prominent success. The drunkard hollered and fell on the ground. The second one raised his fist to punch her, when a bottle landed on his head with a loud shattering noise, and he joined his companion.
"Pigs," the voice of the woman still holding the neck of the bottle was disdainful, and Wren stared at her in admiration. She was tall and the most exquisite beauty Wren had ever seen. Chestnut waves were scattered on her shoulders, her bosom opulent, curves enticing, she had magnificent brown eyes framed with thick black lashes, her lips full and bright pink.
"I'm Thea," the young woman introduced herself to Wren, who hurriedly returned the favour. The women smiled to each other, Wren stepped over the unconscious bodies, and joined Thea and her twenty three friends in the common room. Thea was a wine girl, which meant she travelled with merchants, looking after their supplies and tending to their needs, cooking and mending their clothes and taking care of their laundry. That was the day when Wren found herself the best friend she could have ever dreamt of, and the jolly crowd of winegirls had taken her under their wing.
Wren loved her new life in the city of Dale. She loved the small room in the inn, the large oaktree growing under her window, her busy days in the infirmary. She had come to Dale looking for peace and purpose, and although mawkishness was not in her character she felt as if something had called for her, had driven her to leave her service in Ithilien and travel here. She fell into habit of wandering the streets on the days she was free, chatting with vendors, playing with children, but with each passing day it was becoming more and more evident to her that the city was not satisfying her strange longing, and some unfamiliar thirst was growing in her heart. Her eyes would fall on the horizon more and more often, and sometimes, on very early mornings, she would sit on the sill of her window, her eyes on the dark and intimidating lines of the Lonely Mountain.
City of Erebor had been restored just like Dale and Esgaroth, and the most inconceivable rumours were surrounding the life of the Dwarven Kingdom. The Khazad, as they were called in their mysterious throaty language, kept to themselves, although their relationships with Men and Elves were amicable, though rather detached. They were often seen in the streets on both cities of Men, and merchants from all Middle Earth would travel to the Dwarven city. They were accepted in the visitors' parlours but never allowed deeper into the Mountain. And there was one thought that would not leave Wren's mind. The Erebor Library, which was said to survive the sixty years of the Dragon Smaug's tyranny and the war, was to be the most extensive and well-guarded source of knowledge in the Middle Earth, only to be compared to the library halls of the Elvenking. And the more Wren thought of it, the more she craved to have at least one peek.
"My darling," Thea sauntered into Wren's room and regally sat on the bed near her friend. Wren lifted her eyes from the book she was absorbed into. Thea's eyes were shining, and she smiled to Wren impishly, "Tell me I am the best friend a bookworm such as yourself can dream of!"
"You are the best friend anyone can dream of," Wren laughed and looked at her friend warmly, "But what is it all about?"
"A wonderful person as I am, I have acquired the passage to the Dwarven city for you, my love," Thea's voice was triumphant, and Wren pressed her hands to her mouth, "One of the merchants that had arrived from Bree last week, bringing wine to Erebor, is ill, or will have fallen ill, once I am done with him, and they require a healer to accompany them to Erebor."
It could seem almost impossible for two women with such different conducts to be friends, but Wren always appreciated Thea and never judged her, though she could hardly share Thea's sentiments towards promiscuity. Thea changed lovers every night, Wren had only had one. And yet, Wren could not wish for a better friend. She squealed in elation and threw her arms around Thea's neck. She would see Erebor! Her heart fluttered and some unfamiliar anticipative agitation clasped at her heart!
The night before the visit Wren could not fall asleep, she tossed and turned, and when she finally fell into some strange heavy slumber, odd disturbing dreams were wandering her mind. She saw dark menacing halls, tall stone walls, dim lights throwing shadows on the floor and giant statues in rows. She could not quite see the lines and shapes, everything seemed hazed and subdued, and then a large shape stepped out of the darkness, and Wren understood she was in catacombs.
A colossal tomb lay in front of her eyes, white stone and a statue on its lid, a figure of a Dwarf, carved with astonishing precision, a sword and a strange shield placed on his unmoving chest. She stepped closer, her eyes greedily drinking in the noble severe feature of his face, and then she looked at the sword, a surprisingly elegant and fine blade for a Khazad warrior and an even more astonishing shield that looked like nothing else but a thick branch of a tree.
Wren woke up with a gasp, her heart painfully beating in her throat, she was pressing her hands to her mouth, silencing a scream that was to erupt out of her. It was time to go down and join the merchants, and she quickly dressed as if still in her dream, her hands shaking, and breathing frantic.
It was the day when Wren of Enedwaith entered Erebor for the first time.
A/N: My darling readers, BoFA is coming!
For those of you who haven't read my stories: Wren is my usual OC, there are several timelines, there are several Wrens and several Thorins. This is Wren from Timeline #1, the very first original Wren. You can consult "Thorin's Timeline" if you feel like reading the original stories in their chronological order or you can just follow the description of the stories.
For those of you who read my stories: Do you trust me?