Sayla tucks the last few wisps of stray hairs behind Kili's ears and straightens his collar, as he puts on his riding gloves. She's never seen him so fidgety. Thorin lifts an eyebrow in annoyance, "Stand up straight Kili. Ye represent the House of Durin today. This alliance needs to be verified on their side."

Fili jogs in to join them. "Ye're na going with out me, are ye?" Kili grasps his brother's arm in appreciation and retorts, "Ye will na scare them off, will ye?"

"Enough, ye two. Let's na keep them waiting any longer." Thorin grumbles and rolls his eyes at their constant teasing and whips his horse into a gallop and the others mount up and follow.

They approach the encampment with it's standards flying high, the cut out shapes silhouetting the phoenix symbol ablaze with blue flames. In fact, the blue fire seems to be everywhere. Thorin doesn't show his discomfort in the memories of the last time he saw this much fire, but his horse can feel it and whinnies in agreement.

As they dismount, she takes the arms of both Kili and Fili. Thorin walks staunchly behind them. Trumpets announce the procession.

The Phoenix king in his firebird form stops his business and turns to them. He is entirely covered in flame, even the train of his robe. An ear piercing cry like an eagle beckons them to approach. He sits on his throne and flame spreads up it in a pillar of fire that seems to reach to the sky. The flames conceal him and then reveal him again in the form like Sayla has now. His bald head shines reflectively under the light and his red bushy beard is a stark contrast to the flames. A fiery circle surrounds the camp. Clearly a demonstration of his power.

The dwarves look around a uneasily, now that they've been hemmed in by fire.

Sayla steps forward to her father and announces, "The House of Durin, Father." There is no reply from him. She presses on with the introductions, "May I present to you the High King of my people Connach Uu Niell."

The dwarven company is a little surprised at rudeness in his lack of acknowledgment, but in unison offer their customary greeting, "At yer service"

The High King's head turns to Sayla as he still ignores the dwarves, "What is this news Gandalf said you had?"

She steps back toward Kili and company and takes a nervous breath before answering this time. But she manages in a clear voice, "I gave away my heart." She pulls down the high collar on her dress for a moment. The collective gasp from her people brings a blush to her face but she stands tall.

The kings hand goes to the bridge of his nose, just like Sayla's did in Thorin's throne room. "You impetuous, foolish child. How will there be another in the line of Uu Neill?"

Kili moves toward the king and looks up with appology in his dark eyes, "I am to blame." Sayla goes to his side and takes his arm and leans on him, "We are both to blame."

Connach challenges with the flames red in his eyes, "She wouldn't willingly let someone just pluck out her heart stone. It was carved from her own bone, gilded with the purest gold and inscribed with the key to her existence. How dare you!"

"I have given her my heart in return," Kili insists.

Connach stomps down to Kili and rages, "Don't you speak to me of your heart. You know nothing of what's happened. You will be the cause of a lifetime's suffering for her! Why should I let you out of my camp alive?" The king takes his right glove off and strikes Kili with it. "You will fight me and I will strike you down and my daughter will get her heart back!"

"Father!" Sayla screams in protest and the tears stream down her face. She tries to stand between her father and Kili, but Kili pulls her in to his side and tightly to holds her there with one arm so he can speak. Her hands curl into fists, clutching his coat and hair and she buries her face in his shoulder so she can't be pried away.

Fili and Thorin join Kili and Sayla, drawing their sword and battle axe and Thorin says, "She is of our House, now."

Connach still raging, but not wanting an all out war, "My fight is not with you, King Under the Mountain.'

Thorin grits his teeth, "The House of Durin always stands together."

Kili swallows hard but stands his ground by stating, "Yer daughter is the gem of all gems to me. Yes, our situation started out very badly from my stupidity. But I will do whatever it takes to protect her and make her happy. I will na hurt her by fighting with ye." Then he encloses Sayla in his both his arms, buries his head in her hair, protecting her go as she cries. His eyes close, because it pains him to see her so upset.

"Coward! Hiding behind your kin!" Connach spits at Kili.

Kili doesn't look up as he replies with absolute certainty, "No. My kin always have my back, as I have theirs. I'm finally learning to think before I act. Sayla needs me. She needs ye. And both our peoples need this alliance."

Connach's desperation is evident, "YOU cannot possibly be the one who completes her! It is difficult enough to make a good marriage among our own people, let alone with an outsider! The ring she gave you will turn black with despair, sadness, and all manner of torment for her. She will die and be unable to be reborn in the fire. I cannot allow this!"

Kili locks eyes with Connach, and his mouth turns up in a tinge of confident smugness. While he still holds Sayla protectively with one arm, he works the glove off his hand. He slowly raises his hand in defiant triumph, showing the glowing perfect ring. The whispers start all around them.

Connach turns pale and walks away to hide his face and clasps his hands behind his back. Silence descends on the crowd as the moments pass. Thorin's family looks to each other to see if any of them can read this angry king.

Connach is able to collect himself enough to speak, but not turn around. "Daughter, I see you have the agreement in the alliance you came for," the High King prods. "What do you see in this people that we should ally with them?"

Thorin's glance at her is questioning, but she calms herself and looks up confidently from Kili's embrace as she answers, "They are a noble people of good character, extremely loyal and brave of heart. Their bond, unbreakable. Their talents, innumerable. They've trengths to compliment our own. Their numbers like our own dwindle. I believe it would be of benefit both our peoples to unite against foes so that more people from both races can survive."

"Yes. Yes. I see the need for this alliance. But I am torn." He turns his annoyance and query another direction, "Thorin Oakenshield. I see your attachment to your nephew. How did you feel, when you first found out about your only sister's son being married to my daughter?"

Thorin puts his hands on both Kili's and Sayla's shoulders and addresses Connach, "I too was enraged. I felt like he was being taken from me. But yer daughter has won the hearts of all my people, including my own. If yer people are all like her, it will be the best alliance we have ever known."

Connach lets his flames extinguish, and turns to Thorin offering his arm. "Then so be it."

"Join us in a feast before war council," Thorin offers as he takes Connach's arm in the familiar greeting.

...

The dwarves are obviously not comfortable having women on the war council, but keep their peace. Intelligence is shared. A battle map is layed out.

Sayla offers her thoughts the group, "I recommend that we pair up one from each clan as we train and go to battle. Our clans will learn each other's tactics and learn to fight as one. My kin are powerful in magic, but not in strength and stamina. The dwarves are powerful, and our magic can compliment their fighting style. Each dwarf can be the attacker, each of my kin can be the defense for the pair. It's a good match and will help preserve the precious lives of our peoples."

The shocked clamor is instant. Neither side knows the other well enough to trust their back to the other. Thorin's arms are crossed with skepticism.

Kili just stares at her for a moment before asking her quietly, "Are ye really going into battle too?"

"I will be by your side," she insists.

"But how can I protect ye then?"

"Who saved whom last time in the tunnel?" She smirks as she retorts.

"Touché..." He runs his hand through his hair in mild embarrassment.

"We need to show them how to work together."

He nods and gets their attention. "Listen to Sayla! She and I have worked together in a manner similar to her suggestion. It is an effective technique. So let us demonstrate. Make room. Fili ye will be my foe."

A frail looking old woman steps up to Fili, "Let me be your defense. I'm her match in magic and them some." Fili smiles until she says, "Follow my lead." He shakes his head and she says, "Oh, where's your sense of adventure lad?" Fili smirks, since he can't argue with her spunk and prepares to fight.

Kili makes the first move and swings his sword with full force at his brother's side. The old woman shields Fili but lets Fili's sword through the magic field. Sparks fly as Fili parries and pushes Kili back. They continue to swing at each other, but can't make contact because of the defensive magic. All manner of weapons save projectile (for the saftey of the onlookers) were tried. No matter the attack each brother maKe - whether with sword, axe, mace, warhammer, plain brute strength, or anything else - the fire shield stands.

When the brothers finally tire, the shields envelop both pairs so the dwarves can rest in safety. Fili asks the old woman, "How are ye at dealing with arrows? My brother may want to use me for target practice next."

"I've got you covered, young Fili."

Fili pats the old woman's shoulder in appreciation, "Ye can be my shield partner any day Madam."

"You may call me Eelan. I was just getting started lad." she quips and it makes Fili laugh heartily.

Kili rests leaning on the table breathing heavily and Sayla hugs him. The collective applause starts and the shields drop.

Thorin approaches both pairs, "Pair up the rest of ye. Connach should we risk putting the two us together, two kings in one place?"

"It would be an honor, but you're correct. We'd be too tempting a target. This pairing type though, may also be good for group tactics."

Sayla walks over to her Father and he puts his hand on her cheek.

...

Thus an alliance was born that lasted to the end of both houses. The oncoming orc army was fierce. But it's numbers dwindled quickly under the combined forces. Losses from the dwarf and phoenix side were minimal as projected.

Thorin and Connach lead the charge and their ranks divided the orc forces. Kili and Sayla lead their forces to one side, Fili and Eelan on the other. The orcs were surrounded and divided.

During the battle Fili and Eelan were again a pair and at one point he had to carry her because she was exhausted. She declared it had been a long time since she'd been swept off her feet by a young man. He promised he'd sweep her off her feet any time she wanted if they survived. She ended up adopting him as her grandson and visited him most every year on Durin's Day.

The two armies did indeed use group tactics together. They tag teamed archers, calvary, and trebuchets with those still in phoenix form. So ground and air were covered in shield wall and a rain of arrows, boulders and fire.

Thorin and Connach did end up fighting together. Their partners just couldn't keep up with them. They fought so courageously and tirelessly. The two kings were an unstoppable team. They were targeted though when they accidentally split up. Connach took the brunt of the attacks as he went back to shield Thorin and was wounded fatally. Tears of his people couldn't be used to help in time. He asked the House of Durin to be the ones to light his funeral pyre, so he could awaken to life with his people one last time and search for a new ruler for them. Lighting the pyre is a sign of eternal friendship.

Connach picked from his counsin's side, a wise man named Borough to be High King, and his son followed after his rule.

Thorin ruled under the mountain until he was 256. He married late in life. His wife Unlath gave him one daughter Disa, named after Thorin's sister. Disa was the first female in the line of Durin to rule.

Dori became the best known counselor and master craftsman under the mountain. Many came for his advice and tutelage.

Orn moved to under the mountain to be with Sayla after his wife died. He became lore keeper for the House of Durin and the only petty-dwarf, to be allowed back amongst the dwarves. (The petty-dwarves were outcast ages ago for choosing to live above ground, being too free in sharing the culture and intermingling with other races.)

Fili married Dain II Ironfoot's niece, Ula, and they had twin boys. The twins grew up to be best friends with Kili and Sayla's two sons and became captains of the guard for Queen Disa.

Kili and Sayla lived long together. Thier sons had much of the strength of their father, and the shocking red hair and fire magic of their mother. They would lead and win the great battles of the goblin invasions. They chose to always be at each other's side in a fight. It was like they could read each other's minds as the fought together.

Sayla's many short lives were hard on Kili. He felt like he died everytime he had to light her funeral pyre. Scared she wouldn't reawaken. But he passed in the last of her life cycles with out the fear of having to live with out her. She chose that day to have her final pyre and had Kili's body placed there with her, in the hopes that Mahal would let them enter the afterlife together.


After I finished writing this story down, the spirit of Durin the Deathless was satisfied and he said, "Yes. Dain II Ironfoot was a right good dwarf for coming to the aid of the House of Durin. But he keeps his own blasted mountain." before bidding me peace and going back to sleep for the ages.


Author's notes:

Let me know what you thought of the story. Thanks!