PART TWO: ANAMNESIS
Chapter V: The Witch-Prophet-Seer
The rest of our journey to the Coldfells happened without incident. Well, when I say without incident, I meant that we weren't attacked by any trolls and I didn't Skip anywhere. Thorin, however, would define "incident" differently.
The road got a lot harder after the Senturiel joined us. The smallest noise, a breaking twig or an animal running across the path, was enough to startle me, and each time, I had to check and make certain that I hadn't Skipped away. Sleep was also difficult. I was used to nightmares, yes, but usually they came a few times a month. Now, the haunted dreams came every time I closed my eyes. I'd wake up, gasping for breath, and check to make sure I was still in Middle Earth. Every time I woke suddenly, I would find Thorin watching me, his face illuminated by the silver light of the moon. He never said anything, and I was grateful for that.
By the time we reached the dwarven camp, I was exhausted. My back ached. My legs ached. My neck ached. The weather was miserable with gray skies stretching as far as the eye could see and a bitter wind brushing through the Coldfells. My cloak was stained with dirt from head to toe, and my boots were coated in mud. There were shadows under my eyes that would put Ringwraiths to shame.
To make matters worse, I was very conscious of the fact that Balin and Dwalin were part of the dwarven army—which meant there was a high-possibility of them seeing me and discovering who I was in the future. As we neared the camp, I pulled up my hood and kept my head down, hoping, along with my longer hair and thinner face, that would be enough to disguise me.
Now that I think about it, with my shadowed eyes and hooded face, I probably looked a lot like a Ringwraith. Maybe that's why the black-haired dwarf pointed his axe at me as we approached the twin hills of the Coldfells.
I attempted to smile at the dwarf; however, having an axe pointed at my head made it difficult to smile, and I think it came out more of a grimace. "Don't hurt me. I'm harmless." I looked over at Thorin, expecting him to make some joke at my expense about how harmless I really was, but Thorin paid no attention to me. Instead, he was looking at the black-haired dwarf with…a smile.
"Brede son of King Baldor of the Broadbeams," said Thorin, "I have not seen you in an age."
"Thorin son of King Thráin," said the black-haired dwarf who apparently was named Brede. He lowered his axe slightly and his dark green eyes glowed with welcome. "You have grown taller since I last laid eyes on you."
"And here I thought you had grown shorter," said Thorin.
A grin cracked beneath Brede's beard, and finally lowered that stupid axe, he opened his arms to embrace Thorin. When they separated, Thorin acknowledged my existence.
"This is Anren," said Thorin. "She has been my traveling companion for the past two years. She has come to join our cause."
"She is a woman," said Brede with a frown. "And she wears the pants of a man."
"Pants are more convenient," I said. "It's a lot easier to run away from orcs in pants than it is in a skirt, let me tell you."
Thorin, who had heard people question my wardrobe one too many times and who had heard me explain the merits of pants one too many times, rolled his eyes.
Surprisingly, Brede didn't seem phased in the slightest by my word choice or accent. Normally, I'd get at least a weird look or questioning glance, but Brede simply turned to Thorin and said, "Balin son of Fundin did bring news of your strange companion, but we did not think a woman would truly come." He glanced over his shoulder in what I assumed was the direction of the camp.
We couldn't yet see the tents, but from what Balin had told us, the army had taken up residence between the twin hills. It was easy to understand why the Common Tongue referred to them as the "twin hills"—the hills stood side by side identical in height and slope. The hills provided natural lookout towers for the army, and no doubt the camp was sheltered from the wind and hidden from prying eyes. I wondered how many dwarrows waited in that camp and how they would receive us (more specifically me). Judging by Brede's nervous expression, I wasn't going to get the warmest welcome when we arrived.
"Never fear," I said, putting on my best grin despite the dull feeling of dread that was growing in my stomach. "I'm not the first woman to see battle, and I can promise you that I won't be the last. But I do always enjoy surprising people. Can you imagine the look on Thráin's face when he sees me?"
Thorin seemed less than excited at the idea. "I would prefer not to see it at all."
On the road to the Coldfells, Thorin and I had developed a plan to stop Thráin to executing me and accept us joining the army. Step One—Thorin and I would meet Thráin together. Step Two—I would introduce myself to Thráin, emphasizing my talents and ignoring my (numerous) faults. Step Three—Thorin would use his good will with his father (who would be thrilled to have his son returned to him) to negotiate my presence in the army. It was an easy-peasy plan. Absolutely nothing could go wrong. Nothing.
"Where is my father, Brede?" asked Thorin. "He will not be pleased to know we delayed in greeting him.
With a nod of his head, Brede turned and started to lead us towards the twin hills. Brede and Thorin walked side by side, Thorin towering over the smaller dwarf, while I stumbled along behind them, trying to keep up. They spoke in Khuzdul so I only understood bits and pieces of their conversation. From what I could tell, Brede was updating Thorin on the condition of the camp. He said something about food and something about morale, but that's all I really got.
When he mentioned morale, I remembered the faces of the Rohirrim when I'd stayed in Edoras. With the passing of King Théoden's son, the riders had walked through the streets with their heads bowed, speaking in low voices. Their spirits had grown darker when Éomer had been locked in the prison for his insolence. The despair had hung heavy throughout Edoras. But Rohan had been losing the war against Saruman's uruk-hai at that time. Surely the dwarrows, who had won every battle so far, would be in better spirits.
I was drawn from my thoughts as we rounded the side of the eastern hill and caught our first sight of the dwarven camp. Square tents, colored with the heraldry of the dwarven clans, stretched through the valley. Wind shook the canvases of the tents, and dwarrows crowded around smokeless firepits, their woolen cloaks wrapped tightly around their shoulders. I had never seen so many dwarrows in one place before. Their woolen coats and fur jackets were colored to match their clans, and I noted that the dwarrows dressed in red and gold tended to be on the shorter side, and dwarrows in white and gray had golden hair. I tried to connect the sigils to their houses, but I had no idea who the red boar's head or the yellow and black war hammer belonged to… Blacklocks? Stiffbeards? Stonefoots? All I knew was that the image of a gray fist belonged to the Ironfists.
The heads of the dwarrows turned as we entered the camp. It took them about five seconds to realize that I was mostly human (my height was a dead giveaway). Immediately, they started speaking amongst themselves in Khuzdul. As I passed by one cluster of dwarrows, I overhead words such as "lost" and "son", and it dawned on me that I wasn't the only one they were whispering about.
Thorin, of course, kept his head high and strode through the camp as if he wasn't two years late to the war. My vision overlapped for a moment, and I thought I saw a different Thorin—one older, with streaks of gray in his black beard. The travel-worn coat transformed into silver armor marked with the seven stars of Durin, and the steel sword transformed into one that glowered a brilliant blue when the enemy drew close. Thorin was no longer in camp, walking through the mud, but standing on the battlement, gazing out over the mountain slopes. As soon as he'd come that image of Thorin vanished, and I was left staring at this younger but equally as stubborn Thorin.
"Why do you smile?" Thorin watched me through narrowed eyes. He spoke in a low voice so that Brede couldn't hear, though I saw the black-haired dwarf giving us curious glances.
I bit the insides of my cheeks and shook my head. "Nothing."
"Now is not the time for idle amusement," said Thorin. "You do know where Brede leads us?"
"To your fath—" My words failed me when I caught sight of a familiar red beard and keen eyes—though the round face was without the wrinkles I'd known. I grabbed hold of Thorin's arm and hissed, "Does my hood cover my face? Do I look like me?"
Thorin's eyes widened a fraction as I dragged him closer. Our faces were inches apart when, under his breath, he snapped, "Of course you look like you."
I pulled my hood further over my head, trying to cover my blonde hair. God, I hoped that was enough. Don't look. Don't look. Don't look. Maybe if I channeled my inner Ringwraith, the dwarrows would just avoid me.
When Thorin realized exactly why I was trying to hide my face, he stopped walking. Clearly, my urgency had no effect on him, because he started looking our surroundings for the dwarf who had caught my attention.
I kept a firm grip on the sleeve of Thorin's coat and tugged as hard as I could. But, of course, Thorin was immobile as a boulder. Damn it, I needed to work out more.
Giving up on the brute strength approach, I leaned close to Thorin and as quickly as I could hissed, "Stop it! He'll see you. If he sees you, he might see me, and the future of Middle Earth could be thrown entirely off balance. Thorin! You're messing with the fate of Middle Earth here!"
"Where is he?" asked Thorin. His eyes flickered to mine, and he held my gaze. I realized that he wasn't just messing with me for the fun of it; he was genuinely curious to know about the dwarrows who would one day help him reclaim his homeland.
"Standing by the fire pit," I whispered. "The one with the red beard. His name is Glóin. But just look quickly! Don't let him know! Don't forget about the fate of Middle Earth!"
As subtly as possible, Thorin examined the stocky dwarf I'd pointed out. I scanned the crowd until I found the dark-haired brother. Tugging on the sleeve of Thorin's coat, I said, "And the one smoking a pipe is Óin."
Thorin nodded. "They appear to be sturdy folk."
"They are." I spoke with pride, momentarily forgetting that Óin and Glóin were two more dwarrows I would have to go out of my way to avoid in this camp. "And so is Glóin's son Gimli. Or he will be. I don't know if he's been born yet…"
My voice trailed off. Dwarrows were staring at us. Before, their looks had been secretive, but now they were openly staring. For a second, I thought they'd noticed us looking at Gloin and Oin and that I'd managed to ruin the fate of Middle Earth. But then, I realized that Thorin and I had soent the last five minutes standing closely together and whispering to one another. Hell, my hand was still clutching Thorin's sleeve. I quickly dropped his arm and smiled sheepishly at the dwarrows. This was not going to end well for either of us.
"Has something caught your eye, Thorin?" asked Brede. He stood a few yards in front of us, watching us over his shoulder. There was a glint in his dark eyes as he looked from Thorin to me and back to Thorin. Yep. This was definitely not going to end well.
"An—" Thorin quickly corrected himself, "Anren was curious how many clans have joined my father's cause." Before Brede could begin asking questions, Thorin started towards the center of the camp again, speaking as he walked. "I see the banners of the Ironfists and Firebeards." He gestured first to a tent marked with the image of a gray fist and then to a flag that bore the image of a flaming axe above three stars. "And the Broadbeams, of course." Thorin nodded to a red and gold boar's head painted onto the canvas of one of the tents.
"The Stiffbeards arrived not three moons ago," said Brede. "Four days ago, Herleif, brother to King Hafdáin, arrived with a small host of Stonefoots. I have yet to see the sigil of the Blacklocks in our camp. The Ironfists, Firebeards, and Broadbeams have been with your father since the beginning." Brede gave Thorin a meaningful look, and I couldn't tell if he was trying to suck up to the prince of the Longbeards or if he was mocking Thorin for only just arriving. It might have been a mix of both.
Brede glanced back at me and then switched the Khuzdul. Unfortunately for him, he used simple words, and I understood that he'd just asked Thorin why he would bring "a beardless human woman" to an army encampment.
"I am a dwarf." Unfortunately, I couldn't argue with the description of me as "beardless". However, I spoke a little too loudly, and some dwarrows standing outside an Ironfist tent turned to stare at me.
If Brede was surprised that I understood some Khuzdul, he didn't show it. He also didn't seem shocked by my insistence that I was a dwarf. (Brede seemed unfazed by everything.) As cool as a cucumber, he said, "My eyes do not deceive me. You are no dwarf."
"Her grandfather was a dwarf of Bree," said Thorin. "True, mostly human blood runs through her, but the best part of her is dwarven."
I grinned at that. "I'm that awkward three-quarters human cousin that no one in the family likes to talk about but when forced to they begrudgingly admit I'm related."
Brede's brows knitted together. For a second, I thought I'd finally managed to surprise him, but then, I realized that he was looking at the large tent in front of him. The tent, twice the size of the others and painted with the seven stars, the crown, and the anvil of Durin, left little question as to whom it belonged—Thráin, King of Durin's Folk, the dwarf who had summoned together the clans, who now led an army against the orcs of the Misty Mountains, who would one day abandon his people in an attempt to reclaim his homeland, leaving Thorin with nothing but a map and key.
Yep. This was going to be an interesting.
A gray-haired dwarf with a long, braided beard stood guard outside the king's tent. After shooting me a curious glance, he inclined his head in acknowledgement of Thorin and said, "King Thráin expects you."
"Dayamu khuzan ai-menu," murmured Brede as he stepped back to allow Thorin entrance.
When Thorin pushed the tent flap out of his way and stepped inside, I caught a flash of a tall dwarf—not quite as tall as Thorin but taller than the average dwarf—dressed in red armor. Then, the tent flap closed behind Thorin, and I was left standing outside. I moved to follow, but Brede stepped between me and the tent opening.
"You should not interrupt the reunion of a father and a son," said Brede.
"Please," I said. "Thorin's father is my father." I bit back a comment that Thráin should meet his ex-daughter-in-law. Somehow, I didn't think Brede would see the humor.
I tried to step past Brede, but he held out a hand to keep me away. His other hand drifted dangerously close to the handle of the axe strapped to his side.
This was a problem. Step One of the Carefully Thought Out Plan required Thorin and I to meet Thráin together. This was key to our plan, since we wanted to make it clear that Thorin and I were a package deal. Except, well…Thorin was now inside the tent and I was outside. Not a good way to start.
"Come on," I said, a whine creeping into my voice. "I just need to talk to Thráin. I'm Thorin's friend."
I tried one more time to slip into the tent, but the guard outside Thráin's tent moved to stand beside Brede, so that the two of them formed an impenetrable wall, and the guard actually pushed me backward. The crossbow and pack on my back almost caused me to lose my balance, and I had to grab onto the guard's shoulder to stop myself from falling. The glare he gave me was murderous.
I quickly released his shoulder and raised my hands in the air in surrender. "It was an accident. An accident. Brede, you should tell your friend no pushing. What are we? Five-year-old kids on a playground? Is there a 'no girls allowed' sign on Thráin's tent?"
Brede's expression was stony. Clearly, he was never going to understand my sense of humor.
"King Thráin gave no work as to the prince's companion," said the guard. "I cannot permit you entrance."
I folded my arms over my chest and drew myself to my full height. Thankfully, I was a good three inches taller than both Brede and the guard, so I could actually glower down at them. "Do you know who I am? I…" I paused for dramatic effect. "…am Anren, the one-quarter dwarf…" From the looks on their faces, they neither knew nor cared. Well, shit. Time to resort to extreme measures. "…gifted with the power of foresight… I can see the future."
Brede was, as always, unimpressed, but the guard's eyes widened a fraction, and I knew I'd gotten him.
"Do you think Thorin would bring just any one-quarter dwarf with him to war?" I asked. "No. He brought a witch—no, I hate that word—a prophet—actually, that's even worse—a seer—yeah, that's it. He brought a seer with him to war. I am Anren, the Great Seer, Walker of Worlds, Wielder of the Sword-Breaker—and I can see into your future."
At the last, I pointed dramatically at the guard, and he actually took a step away from me, his brown eyes widening. That step back created a hole in the immobile wall. I saw the opportunity, and I went for it. Hands extended in front of me, I drove between Brede and the guard.
It would've been a perfect 10/10 dive into the tent if Brede hadn't reached out to stop me. I slammed into his arm, grabbing hold of his wrist in the process, and with a yelp (mine or his, I don't know), I dragged him down with me.
We landed in a pile—Brede and me—on the soft grass inside the tent. I rolled onto my back, ignoring the pain in my legs where Brede was lying on them, and I opened my eyes. Familiar blue eyes were staring down at me. In those blue eyes I saw an all-too-familiar annoyance—though for once, that the annoyance, it seemed, wasn't directed at me.
"You know how to make an entrance for yourself," said Thorin. His gaze flickered up to the other person in the tent, and his eyes narrowed.
Brede finally sat upright, shifting his weight off my legs. I wriggled away from him, and finally, I got a good look at the dwarven king who had apparently managed to piss Thorin off in the short minutes they'd been alone together in the tent.
The first thing I noticed, of course, were the similarities between Thráin and Thorin. They had the same black hair and stern faces; however, Thráin's eyes were dark where Thorin's were blue. Silver streaked Thráin's long beard, and there were shadows under his eyes which Thorin hadn't possessed even in his older years. A thick crown, the center of which was shaped like a star, rested on Thráin's brow. Even though I could see parts of Thorin in his father, I could immediately sense how different the two were. With Thorin, while he had always been the undisputed leader of the Company, the other dwarrows had still eaten at his table and talked to him as friends, but I knew with only a glance that Thráin would never consider himself a friend of the common dwarrows—he never forgot or let them forget that he was the King Under the Mountain.
Thorin took me by the arm and hauled me to my feet. I tried to brush some grass off my pants, but it was a pointless task. So, I gave Thráin my best smile and said, "Hello, sir, uh, your highness. My name is An—ren. I've been a friend to your son, and he thought my talents would be of some use to your army, so I tagged along. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Step Two of the Plan was for me to introduce myself politely to Thráin. I was supposed to emphasize my strengths—my skill with a crossbow and the Sword-Breaker, my experience in battle—and not mention my weaknesses—my tendency to run away, my ability to talk way too much, my talent for getting on people's nerves, etc. Unfortunately, it seemed Step Two wasn't going any better than Step One. Thráin was glaring at me. I'm pretty sure if I didn't have Thorin in my corner, I would've been beheaded already. Great, just great. The Carefully Thought Out Plan was going just great.
"Do not be deceived by her appearance," said Thorin. "Anren has fought many battles."
I nodded enthusiastically. "Against orcs and goblins. A couple against spiders. And a dragon—I'll be honest the dragon and I always ended in a tie. But I definitely won against the orcs. And some trolls. I may not be the best warrior around, and my methods may be unique…"
"Er, yes." I shifted from one foot to the other and glanced over at Thorin. "I just meant I'm not completely useless."
Thráin paid zero attention to me. Instead, his dark eyes focused on his son, and in a low voice, he asked, "Is this woman the reason you have tarried in Bree for these past two years?"
I winced. The honest answer was "sort of", but obviously we could never tell Thráin the truth. One-hundred-percent the fastest way for me to get beheaded.
"I remained because I did not wish to be part of a needless war," said Thorin who, unlike me, didn't even flinch at Thráin's accusations. His gaze was steady as he answered his fathers question.
"You call avenging your grandfather 'needless'?" Thráin spat the words. "Do you not know what they did to him? Do you not know the words they wrote on his severed head? 'Beggar King'! Too long have we allowed these orcs and goblins to take up residence in the halls of our ancestors. The sons of Durin are no cravens. We do not sit by idle while the halls of our fathers are defiled."
"And yet," said Thorin, "a dragon dwells in the Lonely Mountain."
Step Three of the plan was for Thorin to use his position in his father's good graces so that Thráin would be more willing to have me remain in the army.
"Why did we even bother with the plan?" I wondered, just loud enough for Thorin to hear me.
He gave no reaction, however. Thorin stood, his body tense, staring at his father. His face betrayed no emotion, of course, but I could tell how much Thrór's words bothered him. It wasn't often I saw Thorin angry with people who weren't me. But now, as Thráin snapped and snarled as his son, I realized there might have been a good reason why Thorin had left the Longbeards in Dunland.
Brede seemed just as unnerved by the father-son reunion as I was. His gaze kept wandering to the front of the tent where, through a gap in the flaps where a silver of grass was visible.
I couldn't leave, of course. Not after I'd fought so hard and lied my butt off to get inside. Plus, I couldn't leave Thorin alone with his father. If I did, I had the feeling one of them wouldn't make it out of this tent alive.
His voice taut, Thorin said, "I believed the Misty Mountains were lost to us."
"Do you think I care for your opinion?" asked Thráin. "You who abandoned your people to be a lowly blacksmith."
"I am here now," said Thorin. "I understand that I should have—"
"Do not think you can return here with platitudes! When you left— Your grandfather—" His voice was thick with emotion, and heh ad trouble completing his sentences. "You wish us to abandon the halls of our fathers. The halls our fathers' fathers broke their backs to build, the gold our they left to us, our heritage, the blood of our people—"
There is nothing worse than watching someone struggle with their grief. When I'd first entered the tent, Thráin had made me nervous, for he was the dwarf with the power to behead me if he felt like it. But now, as I watch Thráin speak, torn between his love for his deceased father and his frustration with his returned son, I felt pity. They were different, this father and son, I realized. Where Thorin tended to be all cool logic, Thráin was a hot-head, run by emotions.
"Your grandfather did not want you to be the king without a mountain, so he sought to reclaim Khazad-dûm. If you had not parted in Dunland, perhaps he would still be with us—"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." With my hands raised over my head, I stepped between Thráin and Thorin. "I'm going to call a time out here before someone says something they don't mean and someone's feelings get really hurt. Not pointing fingers, of course." I glanced at Thráin. "But I think we should put the father-son reunion on hold for a bit, don't you think?"
Thorin's mouth twitched, but he kept his majestic poker face in place.
Thráin, on the other hand, was looking at me as though he was seeing me for the first time. His eyes narrowed and he asked, "What is a human doing in my camp?"
I dropped my hands back to my sides and stared incredulously at Thráin. Had he really been so angry at Thorin that he'd completely forgotten my introduction speech? Was I really so forgettable that none of that had an impression on him? When had I ever been so forgettable? Usually I was the one weirdo people remembered. God, between Brede not being surprised by me and Thráin forgetting me, I was going to have an existential crisis.
"Guard!" Thráin's booming voice filled the tent. "Seize her! Who allowed a human to wander through my camp?"
The tent flaps opened to reveal the Longbeard guard, and Brede, who had been stunned into silence up until now, moved at Thráin's words. They both started towards me, the guard with his hand on his sword. I yelped and stumbled away, but before either one of them could lay a hand on me, Thorin stepped between us.
"She is my companion," said Thorin, his gaze on his father. "She is here at my request, and she remains here at my request. I have come to join your cause, father, but I do so on the condition that she remains with us."
I think it would've been more effective if Thorin had argued for my execution. Thráin was in the mood to do the opposite of whatever Thorin said.
"Who is the king here?" snarled Thráin at the guard. "Whose commands do you obey? Certainly not that worthless son of mine's. Seize her!"
Brede and the guard shook off their hesitation and started towards me again.
Well, the situation looked pretty dire from where I was standing. I'd come to join the War of Dwarrows and Orcs, and now I was going to die before even getting to fight one battle. The Senturiel hung around my neck, the chain cold against my skin.
Two seconds. That was all it would take. I could open the locket, grab hold of Thorin, touch the red stone, and we'd be far, far away from the murderous dwarrows and Thorin's angry father. It was that easy. Except…
I stared at the back of Thorin's head. Despite what Thráin thought of his "worthless" son, I knew the truth. After his father wandered off on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, Thorin would become king. I didn't know the details of how Thorin came to be the King Under the Mountain after leaving his people and spending years in Bree, but somewhere along the way, Thorin was going to grow into his role. And somehow, I didn't think Skipping away from the War of Dwarrows and Orcs was a step in the right direction.
No, there had to be something—anything—I could do. The guard reached for me, but Thorin, one hand on the hilt of his sword, batted him away. The guard started to draw his sword…
Well, there was nothing for it.
"You!" I stepped forward and pointed at Thráin. My hand was trembling slightly, but I did my best to keep my voice strong and commanding. "Thráin, King of the Longbeards, King of Durin's Folk, King Without a Mountain, you have called together the seven clans, and you have marched upon the orcs and goblins of the Misty Mountains. A long road winds ahead of you still, and its path is murky. Have hope. You will win this war. You will avenge the death of your father. But at what cost? You will shed many tears before this war is done."
The good news? I had Thráin's attention. The bad news? It looked like he didn't believe me.
Brede and the guard were watching me in stunned silence. (Yes, even Brede—I'd finally managed to get his attention). They had stopped trying to capture me, and instead, they stood with their gazes fixed on me, hanging off my every word. Well, that was the effect I wanted to have.
Thorin, on the other hand, was ever so subtly shaking his head. Stop, he was telling me. He didn't want me to share the future. Of course he didn't. Thorin still hadn't fully forgiven me for telling him when and where he was going to die and what tragedies he would suffer on the road to the Lonely Mountain. He would not wish such knowledge on anyone else. However, I cared more about saving my own skin than I did sparing other people the knowledge of their own fate.
"You will never set foot inside Khazad-dûm," I said, still pointing at Thráin. "You will stand at the doors but be denied entry. You will look upon the Lonely Mountain again but will not walk its halls. Do not fear these dark words, your highness, for your name will not be lost. Thorin, son of Thráin, shall walk through the back door and survive the fires of Smaug. The King Beneath the Mountain, the King of Carven Stone, the Lord of Silver Fountains, shall come into his own. That is the future of you and your people, Thráin. It lies not in you or in your war, but in the leadership of your son."
Dead silence followed my words.
And then. Thráin, his face white, asked, "Who are you?"
"A witch…" murmured Brede.
"I'm not a witch!" I cried. "Why does everyone use that word? I'm a prophet—no, sorry, I'm a seer. A seer!"
"She is Anren," said Thorin. He wasn't looking at me, and I knew he was mad that I'd resorted to telling the future, but still, he'd decided to back me up. "She has the gift of foresight. I brought her to you, father, to help you win this war."
"Anren the Seer," I said, nodding. "I'm quite famous in the south."
"I have never heard your name," said Thráin.
"Obviously you haven't been far enough south," I said.
A smug smile tugged at the corner of my mouth as I watched Thráin. His face went from pale from the shock of my words to a brilliant shade of red. He didn't like me, that much was obvious, and if things had gone the way he wanted, my head and my body would be separated forever. However, there is a rule that kings must follow. A simple one, really. When starting a war, you don't ever—ever—turn away a witch/prophet/seer.
You see, two dwarrows—Brede and the guard—now knew I existed, and within a couple hours, the entire army would know about me, the great seer from the south. And that's when superstition starts kicking in. You can't execute the seer without fear of getting cursed, and you can't turn her away without fear of being called stupid for rejecting her knowledge. A king really has no choice but to keep the seer with him. At least not until her predictions have been proven wrong. Then, the king can execute her/banish her/whatever other horrors he can imagine. But until that time, power to the seer.
I smiled at Thráin. Thráin glowered at me. Brede and the guard gawked. Thorin looked as though he'd rather be anywhere else than inside that tent.
"You should have told me, Thorin, that you have brought a seer into our midst." It took Thráin a great effort to say each word. His teeth were bared as he spoke, and his glare kept shifting from Thorin to me and back. "We are honored, Anren the Seer, to have you with us."
My smile widened. "The honor is all mine."
And that is the story of how I got to join the War of Dwarrows and Orcs.
A/N: Uh...happy surprise update? It's thanksgiving here so I'll just say that I'm thankful for all my readers who have stuck with me though my scarce updates, and an even bigger thank you to all my reviewers who inspired me to (finally) update. Y'all are the best!