AN - Before you read, this is a sequel to King Under the Mountain. I highly suggest that you read this before otherwise some events will not make sense. And with that... Enjoy!

And the Journey Leads On

Time passed like the flow of an endless river; never pausing or waiting, just flowing ever onwards as the seasons came and went. Fields were sewn and harvested in the blink of an eye, and the old gave way to the new as was the natural order of things.

In Rohan, Fengel, son of Folcwine, fifteenth ruler of his kingdom and renowned for his gluttony and pride, died of old age, leaving the Mark in the hands of his son, Thengel, who had been forced to return from Gondor with his young family, as he was the sole heir to the throne. In the very same year, Ecthelion, son of Turgon, took up the mantle of Ruling Steward of Gondor, shortly after Saruman the White had claimed Isengard as his own, which he was powerless to prevent.

The dwarves of the Lonely Mountain had not only rebuilt their crumbling walls, but rebuilt their city to become the most impenetrable stronghold in the North. Dáin Ironfoot had abandoned his title of Lord of the Iron Hills along with the mountains themselves, as his people had moved to join him in Erebor, while those of the Blue Mountains remained as they always had, their cities locked deep underground, remaining hidden from all but their own kind.

However, those who resided in the trees remained untarnished by the tides of change and remained unmoved by the tales of men, their eyes fixed upon a dark power that had re-emerged from the shadows of Dol Guldur and slunk back into Mordor from whence it came.

Such matters were not yet of any concern to a certain pair of Ambassadors as they travelled, their minds occupied with lighter tidings and the daily confusions that would arise between dwarves, elves and men.

Fíli and Kíli, emissaries to the King under the Mountain, had spent the past two decades travelling across the vast expanses of plains, woodlands and mountain ranges of Middle Earth, and though they had not been affected by the years as men were, they had still changed.

Physically, there was barely any difference at all. Fíli's cut across his right cheek had formed into a thick white line, scarring his features, though he could still be considered handsome by most women of any race. His shoulders had broadened slightly and his strength increased, but it wasn't visible through the layers of clothes he wore.

Kíli was still a little leaner than most dwarves, and his shoulders had not broadened as his brother's had, his skills lying with the bow more than the sword, but he had grown a little, becoming about half an inch taller than Fíli. Also unlike his brother, he refused to braid his hair unless it was a formal occasion, and even then only if he had been convinced to do so.

The blond mane of Fíli's hair had grown in length and lost some of its wildness, as had the dark locks of his brother, but they had denied their faces the chance to bear the beards that seemed to be expected of their kind. At first it was in grief; the unwillingness to release the memories from their grasp, but then it came as a sign of respect.

Though the facial hair that covered Fíli's cheeks hadn't changed, excepting his moustache that had grown slightly in length, Kíli's chin, which had once been bare, was now covered in the dark shadow of a beard, not dis-similar to that of his Uncle, Thorin Oakenshield, who now lay in the eternal sleep under the Mountain he had ruled, if only briefly.

But beneath all that, it had been their journeys that had changed the brothers most of all. From the hidden cities in the Ered Luin to the splendorous halls of Mount Erebor, the mystic glades of Mirkwood to the thundering shores of the Grey havens, and back across the grim Misty Mountains to the sturdy villages of the Beornings at the great river, following the Anduin across the wide plains of Rohan to Gondor and the white city of Minas Tirith herself, they had travelled, watched and learned.

Their travels had taken them to almost every corner of the map; preventing conflicts, starting trading relations and building the bridges of friendship between their nations, as had been both their duty and their joy, and though they had been held with a great distrust and suspicion at first, after many years of patience, observance and their steadfast honesty, they had gained the trust and respect of many.

As it was, the pair had been invited to the Hall of Meduseld, the Golden hall of Edoras, by none other than King Thengel himself to celebrate the birth of his fourth child; a strong and healthy girl.

It had been some ten years since Thengel had taken up the Throne after returning from Gondor, and his eldest child, Théoden, had grown from a stumbling toddler into an energetic, playful young boy, using his wooden sword to cause mischief and trouble in the kitchens and halls. Knowing that disasters were going to become far more likely with the arrival of the two dwarves, Thengel had taken extra precautions.

The gates of the city lay open to the pair as they led their ponies into the stronghold in the summer's midday sun, their mounts tired from the long ride it took to arrive at Edoras from the Grey Havens. They were all but exhausted from the journey themselves, but their cheer and high spirits kept their infectious energy at a high. As they crossed the threshold into the city, they were instantly set upon by a crowd of children.

Though it had been almost a year since either of them had set foot in the city's bounds, none of its inhabitants had forgotten them, the youngsters especially so. They may have grown in many ways, but their playful, mischievous quirks had far from vanished, and it had made them especially popular amongst the youngsters.

On one of the occasions they had visited the court of the Rohirrim, the pair had not only been able to convince the children that there was a dragon in the larder, but also that it could turn into anything that looked golden in colour; no one had cheese for a week, and the doors to the kitchens became well-guarded.

Most of the children who had been involved in the prank were currently swarming them, along with several others who just enjoyed their stories, the air filled with excited questions and exclamations as their parents smiled after them.

It took them a while, but eventually Fíli and Kíli made it to the base of the stairs that led up to Meduseld, telling their admirers that they would answer their questions later, as they had to visit their King before anything else.

Reluctantly, the kids went back to their parents, leaving the dwarves to lead their ponies into the stables and release them from their saddles and packs. Leaving them with the stable hands to brush over, they headed up to the great hall atop the hill.

Giving themselves a once over, they straightened their coats and belts and shifted the packs they held over their shoulders. Nodding to the doorwarden that they were ready, they watched as the great doors were opened to them.

"Lords Fíli and Kíli of Mount Erebor, my Lord," the doorwarden declared as they stepped into the cool shade of the building.

The halls had not changed since the last time they had visited. The intricately carved pillars had not lost their sheen or colour, the fire still roaring as men sat about it and told tales of their battles, and the banners bearing the white stallion of the house of Eorl hung behind the Throne, upon which sat a blond haired man, flanked by a young boy and a woman with the ebony locks of her people, holding a babe to her chest.

Thengel stood, a broad smile gracing his features. "My friends! I am so glad that you could come."

"We would not have missed it for the world," Fíli replied as he and his brother stopped in front of the King.

"Is this your daughter?" Kíli asked, his eyes fixing on the child in Morwen's arms.

"It is indeed," she replied, letting the baby clutch at her finger.

"And a beautiful child she is. She looks just like you."

Morwen laughed. "Aye, but she has her father's hair and temperament. It is quite impossible to get her to do anything!"

Thengel groaned, rubbing his face. "I had forgotten how much attention a child needs at this age. I am quite sure she wishes us to never get a wink of sleep ever again."

The dwarves smiled. "Such is the way of the world when children are involved," Fíli said, "Kíli was no worse once."

"Hey!" his brother cried, giving his sibling a playful push, only causing him to laugh.

Shaking his head, the King ushered some of his guards over with a wave. "Franwulf and Aethaine will help take your belongings to your room where you can prepare for tonight's celebrations. I'm afraid that it's all I can offer you, as we will have other guests arriving shortly, but hot water has been prepared for you if you wish to wash, and food has been provided. I don't doubt that you will wish to rest after your long journey."

Thanking him and promising to return before the sun had set, they bowed and followed the two men towards their room, glad that they didn't have to carry the heavy packs that they would probably be dragging along the floor had it not been for the guards.

Their room was of average size, and two beds had been constructed and pushed against the wall while two wooden tubs of steaming hot water sat behind a set of screens to give them more privacy.

Once they had been left to their own devices, their packs being left at the foot of one of the beds, they stripped of their dirty clothes, removed their weapons to leave them on the table, and washed before heading to bed, thankful for the soft, clean sheets and their cleanest clothes, and they soon drifted off to sleep, blissfully ignorant of what was soon to come.

AN - And here we are, at long last, the sequel I promised! I know, I know, I said it would be a few days, but it can easily turn into weeks when you have University work, so I'm sorry. Due to the fact that I am back at University, the updates will be a little slower than the last one, but I should be updating on a (hopefully) steady rate, possibly every few days, though I make no promises.

For those who want to know, I have set this story in TA 2963, about twenty years after the events of The Hobbit (which occurred in TA 2941).

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!

I look forward to uploading the next chapter!