This is a book-based history. Some elements not detailed in the books may be drawn from the movie, but my primary source, as always, is Tolkien's original works. Please enjoy.
T.A. 2790; Dunland
Three years later
The night was dark and great storms had come down from the mountains. Rain pounded on the roof over their heads as if the giants had come down and were determined to break in, but the shingles were nailed tight with dwarf-made iron and nothing short of a dragon would remove them.
The fire roared cheerfully, but it did little to cheer the long hall that Fundin entered. He saw that his brother had arrived ahead of him, and the young prince, Thorin, was seated on a stool in the corner. He must have just come in from outside, for he still wore his hood and it was dripping wet, but the lad was hunched forward and his hood was drawn up over his head. Soft snores came from beneath it, and Fundin was glad. None of them had slept well the last few nights; the storms were unsettling more than shingles.
With a sigh, Fundin looked at the great chair that sat empty at the far end of the hall. It was a simple thing carved of wood, but it was the King's throne, and it had been gathering dust for nearly five months. On the floor beneath the dais was another stool, but this too was empty. Thrain had not yet arrived.
Fundin pulled his brother aside into a quiet corner where Thorin would not hear them. He felt confident that the lad was dreaming, but it would not be the first time that he had feigned sleep to hear what others would say around him.
"What word is there?" he asked. "Any news at all?"
Groin shook his head. "None since the King left," he said, "but you know this. If there had been any news, Thrain would be the first to know and you the second… unless young Thorin got there first. But you would be the third, anyway."
Fundin sighed and shook his head. It was not a thing to joke about, but his brother had never been a serious dwarf. His son Gloin was taking after his father, but even he knew that there were some things that must not be treated lightly.
"What of Nar?" Fundin asked. "Why have we had no word from him, I wonder. Even if Thror was mad, as many are beginning to whisper, Nar has always been a steady fellow. He would not remain silent for so long if there were any way for a message to be sent. It has been four months since they were seen climbing the face of the Redhorn."
"Not quite four months," Groin said gently. "And that Pass is difficult even for a company of young and well-provisioned dwarves. Four months is hardly long enough for two old dwarves to cross over and to find habitable lands where they might send messages, let alone for the message to reach us here."
"Hardly long enough for that," Fundin agreed, "but more than enough time for them to be waylaid by orcs and captured or killed. Only a fool or a madman would wander near to Moria with the orcs growing so numerous and so bold. Thror was never a fool, but Thrain should not have allowed his father to wander alone..."
"I did not allow it," Thrain said, walking into the room. The square, hall served as council chamber and a place for feasts, but no dwarf would ever be at ease surrounded by wooden walls. Thrain sighed and touched the thick beam in the middle of the room. He thought of the proud, smooth stones of Erebor and shook his head.
"You knew my father, Fundin. Do you think that I did not say everything that I could to change his mind? Moria is not ours for the taking, not yet, but he knew that he had no chance at the dragon, not at his age, and he would not be contented here in Dunland, hammering horseshoes instead of fashioning gold."
Thrain sighed. "Perhaps he was mad, as some are saying – do not be so surprised that I have heard those rumors! – but I think that he was only old and tired and heartsick for the home of his fathers. Moria was once the kingdom of Durin… a great kingdom… who among us would not seek a return to home and comfort when cold death comes creeping, even if we know that we may not rest there for long…"
Fundin and Groin exchanged a glance, but there were no words of comfort that they could offer their cousin. Thror's son had yet to take on the title of King, and he still sat below the dais and spoke in his father's name when he was called upon to judge the affairs of their sorry state.
Now, Thrain approached the throne and looked at it sadly for some time before he shook his head and lowered himself into one of the lesser chairs near to his sleeping son. He leaned his arms upon his knees and wrung his hands. He looked into the fire, and the flames reflected red in his eyes. Fundin frowned, seeing the old iron ring that his kinsman turned upon his finger.
For a moment, he thought that it must be the same ring of King Thror's possession, but then he shook his head. That was impossible. Thror would never let the thing leave his hands. Fundin had never spoken of his misgivings regarding Thror's greedy love of gold, and now was not the time for idle speculation.
"It was winter when they set out," Groin said. "It shall soon be spring. Perhaps your father's messengers could not get through the storms…"
"Perhaps…" Thrain said absently, but he did not look up.
Groin wracked his brain for other comforting words, but his thoughts were interrupted by a shout from outside the room. All three dwarves looked toward the doors, and Thorin woke from his doze, jumping to his feet in alarm and reaching for his sword. Before a word could be said or a move made, the large doors burst open and a small dwarf fell forward into the hall and lay still upon the floor. He was old and frail, worn down to skin and bones by hunger and clothed only in rags. His back was bent with fear and toil. Fundin was the first to kneel beside the old dwarf and turn the poor creature over. It was a face that he would not soon forget, changed by suffering and sorrow though it was.
"Nar!" he cried, grieving to see his friend in such a state.
"Nar?" Thrain leapt to his feet. "But where is my father? Where is King Thror?"
The old dwarf gasped and rose to his knees. Fundin reached out to help him, but Nar pushed his hand away. He looked up at Thrain with eyes clouded by age and yet sharp with purpose.
"Your father Thror is dead, my king," he said. "He was killed by the goblins of Moria, beheaded and his body cast to the carrion birds. Thror is dead. Hail, King Thrain!" With that, Nar collapsed into Fundin's arms, sobbing like a child. In his hand was clutched a worn, leather pouch that jingled with the sound of coins, but it was stained black with blood.
"Dead," Thrain echoed. He turned away, looking back and forth at the wooden walls that surrounded him, but his eyes were empty.
"Father?" Thorin reached a hand out to touch his father's arm, but the new king walk past him and up the short steps of the dais to the dusty chair of King Thror. Slowly, Thrain sank down onto his throne.
He sat and could not be moved for seven days and seven nights, neither eating nor sleeping. Fundin and his brother took their turns at watch. One would stand beside their silent king while the other slept in the room where Nar was nursed by the best healers in Dunland, but the old dwarf would not recover. He told his story and delivered the message of the goblins, of Azog the Cruel, and then he slept long and deep and forever, following his friend Thror to the tables of Mahal where they sit at feast with their fathers and nevermore will those two friends be parted unless Ea itself be unmade.
In the long, wooden hall, Fundin relayed all that Nar had said to Thrain as he sat upon his throne, but there was no answer and Thror's son never looked up. No word passed his lips and he sat as one turned to stone.
Seven days passed and seven nights, and then at dawn after the seventh night of watching, as Fundin stood beside him, his face gray with grief and his eyes blinking back sleep, King Thrain stood and in a voice so loud and strong that it could be heard throughout the hall and into surrounding chambers, he cried, "This insult shall not be born! We shall pay them back, the goblin-scum, down to the last brittle bone that breaks under the hammer of our anger. They shall pay!"
T.A. 2791; the Iron Hills
Six months later
Dain stood in the great hall and watched his father pace angrily back and forth before the iron throne. Technically, Gror had given over rule to his son, but when the messenger had come from Dunland, it was not Nain who had been asked for.
Since mid-winter, rumors had flown back and forth among all Seven Kingdoms, so many rumors that it was impossible to know which were true. Some said that Thror had reclaimed Moria, others that he had returned to Erebor and been eaten by the dragon. Some whispered that the King had vanished without a trace and that the strange wizard Tharkun had much to do with the disappearance.
Nain did not know what rumors were true, but he guessed it more likely none of them. The messenger that had come from Dunland was none other than Fundin, cousin to Thrain who was now King of Durin's Folk. Nain had not agreed that his father had allowed Fundin to lead away so many of the dwarves of Erebor, whose skill in metalwork was beyond compare, but as cousin to the new heir of Durin, he would command great respect. If he were playing messenger for Thrain it was only because the news was of too great an importance to trust to lesser dwarves, and it would not be made the subject of petty rumor.
It was further insult to Nain that Fundin had arrived calling for Gror and had paid no heed when told that it was now Nain who ruled the Iron Hills.
Gror and Fundin had been locked in conference for more than an hour, and Nain had remained in the Throne room, waiting for them to emerge. Dain was trapped there with him, for his father refused to allow his own heir to go wandering when there were important matters of state to be discussed.
Dain begrudged every moment that he was trapped in that room with his sullen father and the musty smell of iron and stone. He had promised Dwalin that he would meet him on the southern slope that afternoon so that they might train with their weapons. Already, the young dwarf-lad was growing strong and had put on at least a full stone's worth in muscle. Dain was proud of the lad, and prouder still of his own growing strength of arms.
After nearly two hours, Gror finally returned to them. He came alone for Fundin had gone to seek his wife and son. The Lord of the Iron Hills' face was gray and seemed to have aged more in one morning than he had in the two hundred and twenty eight years of his life.
"Well, father, what news?" Nain demanded as soon as his father opened the door.
But Gror waved him away. He walked slowly to the far end of the hall and lowered himself down onto the throne. It was grander than the throne of King Thrain in Dunland, built of long, iron spears interlaced with silver thread, but Gror was not King of Durin's Folk. Nain watched his father seat on the throne with a frown, but he did not argue.
"My lord?" Dain spoke nervously. He loved his grandfather dearly and had never seen his face so drawn with sorrow, but Gror had just been told that his brother was murdered, and now he grieved for Thror, and for Fror, the brother who had died before him.
"Grandfather?" Dain touched the old dwarf's withered hand.
At the touch, Gror raised his head and looked at his grandson who was not twenty-four years in this world. He smiled, but his smile was grim and strained. "King Thror is dead," he told them. "He was beheaded by the orcs of Moria, his face was branded and his body fed to the crows."
Nain's jealous scowl fell away and he shook his head in astonishment. "They would not dare!" he cried.
"They have dared! And they will pay for the insolence. King Thrain has summoned all Seven Houses. He has sent word to our kin, east, west and south. They will come, and so shall the Dwarves of the Iron Hills. So shall all our folk. The Dwarves have declared war against all goblin-kind!" Gror struck his fist against the iron arm of his chair so that the spears shook and their song echoed throughout the hall.
Dain's heart was stirred to anger and excitement. He stood up straighter, but his father's frown returned.
"Against all the orcs?" he said. "When only one has killed our cousin? That will cost many lives, and is it truly our battle to fight?"
Gror stared down at his son with cold anger in his eyes. "Thror was my brother, your uncle, and he was heir of the line of Durin. Whose battle is it to fight if not ours?"
"I mean no disrespect to you, father," Nain said quickly. "The orcs of Moria must be punished for this, but why fight all the orcs of Middle-earth? Let Thrain have his vengeance if he must. Do not be angry if I speak openly what others will surely whisper behind closed doors. Thror had little sense left after the dragon came. We have all heard that he wandered alone in the wild, and if he wandered near to Moria, are we to be amazed that he was found and killed by an orc?"
"If he walked bare-faced into the mouth of the dragon itself, this insult still would not be borne by me, or by any of my kin!" Gror shouted. "Let men and elves whisper cowardice behind their hands, the Dwarf-folk will defend their honor with blood!"
Nain was rebuked and said nothing in answer, and he never again spoke of refusing Thrain's call.
The next day, Dain found Dwalin on the southern slope. They met there most days to talk together or to exercise and train in secret as most dwarf-lads did openly upon the plains between the arms of the hills. On this day, Dwalin had brought no weapon, and he sat with his head bowed to his knees and his hands clasped before him.
Dain sat beside him for some time before he spoke. "You have seen your father, then?" he said.
"Yesterday," Dwalin said. "He is with my mother now, saying his farewells. She was glad for the reunion, but he must return to Dunland."
Dain nodded. He knew better than any other dwarf the grudge that Dwalin held against his father, but there was no reason to speak of it now when the wound was still bleeding.
"Did your father tell you why he is here now?"
Dwalin shrugged. "He had a message from Dunland," he said. "I did not ask. I was glad enough to get away from him." He finally raised his head and saw the pain on his friend's face. "What has happened?"
Dain bowed his head, but he told all that he had heard in the throne room, both the day before when Gror had first spoken, and also this morning in the council where the heads of the other Houses of Dwarves who made their home in the Iron Hills came together. Some few of the Blacklocks and many of the Broadbeams dwelt in the northern arm of the hills and though their lord more often deferred Gror and lately to his son Nain in matters of trade and dealing with the settlements of Men, they ruled themselves according to their own laws.
Dwalin listened to all that Dain said, knowing that his friend felt more than he let show. Dwalin had not known his great-uncle Thror anymore than Dain had known him, but they were kin and the disgrace of his murder was a harsh blow to bear.
"There will be war," Dain said. "Already it has been declared. My father was reluctant, by my grandfather says that it is certain. Word was sent from the Firebeards in the west that they will come. Fundin heard their answer before he set out for the Iron Hills. This morning before the council, he spoke with Nami of the Broadbeams. You will hear about all this soon. War has been declared upon the orcs."
"But which ones?" Dwalin asked. "There are so many…"
Dain clenched his fists. "All of them. We shall pay them back!"
Dwalin sat up straighter but then his shoulders caved. "You shall pay them back," he said. "This war has come too soon for me. You are your father's son and will one day rule in these hills. He will let you fight, but I saw it in my father's eyes though I did not then know what was meant by it. He will not let me go, and even if I were older, my arm is not yet strong enough to wield weapon in battle."
Dain looked at his friend sadly, but even as he did, a new resolve was hardening in his heart. "Then we will make it strong," he said, standing.
Dwalin looked up at him with hope in his eyes.
"You are wrong and my father will not easily let me go to war, not as I stand here," Dain said. "War has been declared, but the armies will not march forth tomorrow. We have time, probably a year or two at least before all is made ready. We shall train together, you and I, and when the time comes, we shall march out together at the front of the line!
"Yes!" Dwalin said, standing and raising his fist.
That afternoon, Fundin set out on his return to Dunland. He thought of his youngest son sadly, remembering the smoldering anger in the lad's eyes as he said his farewells. Dwalin was too young to understand the troubles that a grown dwarf must face.
Nai's kiss was still hot on his lips, and for a moment, Fundin wondered if he had been right to choose his King over his family, but there was no time for doubt now. Too much needed to be done. When next he saw Dwalin, he would speak with the lad and tell him all that was in his heart; he would make up for the years already lost, but for now, he must return to Thrain.
In the year that followed, the other Houses of the Dwarves would answer King Thrain's call. They mustered their armies and sharpened their axes, but it would be three long years all told before their full might could be gathered in one place and made ready to march upon the orc strongholds in the Grey and Misty Mountains. Not three hundred nor three thousand years would be enough to cool the anger in their hearts for it was as hot as a branding iron fresh from the forge. But the orcs were preparing armies as well and the war that would follow would be counted among the greatest and most grievous of all those fought in all the ages of this Middle-earth.
This story is officially on-hold. I know, and I'm sorry, but my other fic is taking up too much time and it was too difficult to switch between the two timelines. I have not forgotten poor, young Dwalin, but he will have to wait a little longer to win his honor in battle... and to meet his wife ;-)
Probably once winter arrives and there is snow on the ground, I will be trapped indoors with little to do and will have more time to spend writing. Until then, thank you for your readership and feel free to leave a review telling me to get my butt back over here and finish the story!