Disclaimer: I don't own anything - Tolkien gets all the credit.

A/N: Ok! This was SO much fun to write – I hope you enjoy! As always, please review!

Chapter Fifteen

The look of his wife, eyes closed, head back, gasping – a more beautiful sight he'd never seen. She'd seemed shocked when he'd entered the bathing chamber while she cleaned the skin of her shoulders and neck. He'd only watched her at first, pale skin shining in the candle light while she laughed and blushed, asking him he didn't have anything better do… No, he'd answered, before joining her in the large tub, water sloshing out as he sat with her, pulling his little wife to him before she had a chance to react.

This part of their marriage had become ever more tender for him, Dwalin fearing he'd harm their child if he didn't take care. Posey, on the other hand, seemed to become more forceful – biting his shoulders, pulling at his beard, scratching his back. Dwalin secretly believed that his dwarven child in her womb may have had a small hand to play. Surely their child – maybe a son – would draw out the fighter in her.

"Ut baraz an karaz azamar, or taerin" He whispered his pledge to her as they joined together. His wife clung to him, their dance creating tiny waves in the bathwater as her gasps turned to moans. Reaching his hands into the damp curls of her hair, Dwalin pulled her face to his, kissing her in lazy, wet motions.

"I love you, Dwalin," she'd whispered, her eyes meeting his when their lips parted. Groaning, he'd shoved his face into her chest, clutching her tightly as they moved faster and faster, each pulling the other ever closer.

Her body clenched, her movements became erratic, and his name fell from her lips. In was in moments like this that he couldn't help but raise his thanks to the Valar for finding him worthy of this bewitching creature. He'd waited so long for her, doubting that he'd ever know what it truly felt like to be one half of a whole.

Now he knew – he knew that having her made his life more… More blissful, more intoxicating, more treasured, and much, much more frightening. If anything were to ever happen to his little wife, he would surely perish from grief.

When it began, Posey had been fast asleep dreaming of the party field in Hobbiton. She didn't dream of home often, but the sight was welcome to her resting mind. Clear blue skies reached out for as far as the horizon, laughter and sweet smelling flowers filled the air. The grassy clearing was bursting with family and friends; even Brianne was smiling at her from underneath the shade of a small tree. Posey was dancing with Bilbo, flying through the field in great spinning motions, just as they'd done when they were children. He had a mischievous smile and a twinkle in his eye, spinning her faster and faster.

Quite suddenly, amid the happiness of the moment, a great shaking began. Posey was thrown from Bilbo just as she heard a great crash. Looking up into the sky, the bright summer day faded to stone. The hobbits around her began to run, Bilbo quickly becoming swallowed up in the crush of people. "Bilbo!"

Coming awake with a gasp, Posey glanced about her empty bedchamber. Such an odd dream. Rubbing her eyes, Posey sat up, moving to stand – but before she could manage the task, a great boom shuddered through the walls, shaking the bed nearly knocking her to the floor. The glass water basin on the side table crashed to the floor, shattering into dozens of tiny pieces.

It was then that Posey noticed a buzzing noise - like a muted scraping or loud noise heard through water. "What in the world is going on?" Becoming rather alarmed, Posey carefully avoided the shattered glass on the floor and quickly walked from the bedchamber, down the hall, and to the door that led to the outer passageway. The noise got louder as she neared the door, only to explode as she opened it.

The air in the passageway was hot and a heavy smoke lined the ceiling, so much so that it quickly seeped into the entryway of she and Dwalin's chambers. The buzzing noises had been screams, she realized, and the normally quiet passage was filled with running dwarves - young, old, warriors, merchants. All seemed to be in a state of panic, which was quickly washing over Posey as well. Reaching out blindly to the nearest dwarf, "Please, tell me what is happening!" she begged. The dwarf was young - probably still a mere boy. His eyes were wide and full of fear.

"The Dourhands! They're attacking from the mines!" He didn't remain with Posey after that, running off as soon as the words left his mouth.

The same fear she'd seen in that boy's eyes worked its way quickly to Posey's chest. Dwalin. He was to be in the mines that day - he'd woken hours before and kissed her as he'd dressed, telling her that he wouldn't be back until late evening. There were concerns over the vent shafts, he'd told her, and the lack of guards available to monitor the exposed entrances into the lower halls... "Oh, dear."

Returning to the bedchamber has fast she could, Posey threw on a cloak and reached for the small dagger that Dwalin had positioned on the small table near the bed. She'd be a fool to enter that chaos without a weapon... Not that she actually knew what to do with the thing. Nearly grasping the small knife, Posey's eyes were drawn to Grasper and Keeper, her husband's dual battle axes. They were leaning against the wall, set there after having been cleaned the evening before.

Her husband's weapons were nearly as dear to him as anything – She recalled the tale of reclaiming his weapons from the elves that had stolen them during the great quest of Erebor... Abandoning the dagger, Posey heaved the battle axes up into her grasp and fled from her home, following the crowd of dwarven women and children that were venturing towards the main hall. The axes, massive in size, were bulky and heavy, weighing her down as she climbed the steps.

"I can't imagine anyone would find the vents from the outside, my lord. The forest is thick on that side of the mountain. I'd be hard pressed to find them, and I helped to dig these vents myself." The aging miner was leading their party back through the small shaft that brought air into the mountain from the West. The ocean currents brought steady winds, which helped to provide clean air and cool temperatures for the lower halls. Dwalin was worried over the lack of sentries available on this side of the mountain, but little could be done at this stage. Until more warriors were trained, they would need to count on the miners to alert them if anything was amiss.

Vim walked with them, the frown on his face revealing that he was as unsettled by this as Dwalin. For the past three hours they'd walked through the lower tunnels, finding dozens upon dozens of vent shafts that had little protection. The city was exposed.

"I'll make sure that training hours are doubled. We need more soldiers much sooner than I thought."

"Aye," Dwalin replied, his voice low as they re-entered the wide chasm of the main mine shaft. Hundreds of tiny lights could be seen, showing miners hard at work despite the early hour. "Let's return the main hall. We've plans to make."

Nodding in thanks to the elder dwarf, Dwalin and Vim began the slow trek back out of the mines, walking up wooden stairwells and across dangling bridges. Throughout the journey, Dwalin's tense worry only increased. Glancing to Vim, he shook his head in frustration. "It was folly to allow half of the city to leave at once. We should have sent them in smaller groups so that we'd have time to prepare for this."

"It would have happened eventually, Dwalin. I think—" Vim's voice broke off as a flash of light shone briefly from deeper in the mines. "What was that?"

Leaning to look toward the source of the light, Dwalin saw yet another flash erupt – it looked to be ten levels below where they now stood, near to where they'd surveyed the vent shafts. "There's no expansions planned." He muttered angrily, "Who in the bloody hell would use flash flame while miners are working?"

Dwalin moved to run back toward the stairwell, when yet another flash of light was seen. With this flash, though, screams joined. Squinting down to the source of the light, he saw figures rushing round, and several dwarves falling down into the depths of the mountain. Two or three figures, mere pinpricks from this distance, began to swing weapons at the ropes which supported the weight of miners as they worked.

"It's an attack!" He bellowed, swinging his large arm to Vim and pointing toward the main hall, "Go! Now! Bring the guard!"

As his shield-brother ran up in the remaining stairs, Dwalin barked orders to the miners that surrounded him, calling to have the working miners lifted from their posts, to have weapons readied. He ordered them to defend their home.

The sound of heavy footsteps was heard from above as the dwarves clambering up the stairs were brought to a halt. Posey heard deeps bellows of Khuzdûl, words she didn't understand, followed by movement as the mass of dwarves shifted to clear a path down the middle of the steps. A great mass of armored warriors came rushing down, all with weapons drawn. Oh. Dear. As soon as they'd passed, the dwarves on the stairs hurriedly climbed further up, seeking safety from whatever battle was surely happening below.

Posey had never been more frightened in her life. Her breath was coming in fast gasps, her arms straining from the weight of her husband's weapons. The journey out of the lower halls was slow – too slow. The many dwarves seeking escape were often stopped by those rushing below to help in the fight. All of the faces surrounding her were strangers – dwarves of lower station that lived deeper down in the mountain – Miners and their families. All of Posey's friends were either gone, or lived far above, near throne room and feasting hall.

Her friends would be outside of the mountain already, she knew. Dwalin had told her before that he'd disliked the location of Balin's chambers – his brother often worked in the forges, so the location served him well… but it was, as Dwalin called it, a tactical disadvantage to live so deep in the mountain.

As Posey neared the lower market, a place she'd often shopped and talked and laughed, she saw even further chaos. Several large stairwells branched off from this place, all heading lower into the mountain. Now, each path brought dozens and dozens of panicked children, women, and slow elderly as they tried to reach the main gate. The stair leading further up was clogged with bodies – all crushing together in an attempt to climb up. Above, something was blocking them – likely more dwarves…. The dwarves down below would need to wait for those above to clear a path from them.

Another booming noise came up from down below in the mines, bringing with it a flash of stinking, hot air. Posey choked, gasping as she waited for the air to clear. More deep bellows could be heard from around her – Panic was growing. Dwarves were yelling and screaming at one another. Women were huddling over their children, waving their arms around in an effort to clear the air so that their little ones could breathe.

It was then that Posey glanced down to her own stomach, partially covered by the thick handles of her husband's axes. The flat expanse didn't show proof of the child within, but Posey knew that it soon would. Her chest has already begun to swell and Dis had told her a little of what to expect in the coming months… But what if those weeks and months never came? What if Posey and her unborn child died here, in the crush of people trying to flee?

Shifting her way closer to the high wall at the back of the stairwell, Posey collapsed to her knees and began to cry. She cried for herself, for her little baby, for the husband that surely was deep below, fighting… or dead. She cried for her brother who might never know what became of her. But most of all, Posey cried for the future that had seemed so certain only hours before. It was to be a beautiful life – full of children, smiles, happiness, and a brute for a husband who would love her always.

Dwalin's back stung from the bite of a broadsword, one that could have cut him in two if he hadn't been quick enough to mostly dodge the blow. After pummeling the sword's owner with his bare fists, Dwalin claimed the broadsword as his own. The battle was getting further and further out of control as more and more Dourhands flooded into the mines from dozen of vent shafts throughout the south and east caverns. Bodies were seen falling into the darkness below as miners struggled to escape.

The Dourhand bought much flash flame with them, putting the mines ablaze as they climbed closer and closer to the inhabited portions of the city. The heat and smoke from the fires made it difficult to see and even harder to breathe.

While he'd yet to find Vim in the chaos of battle, many warriors had made their way from the main hall and fought beside him… but it was for naught. They could all see that they were outnumbered and outclassed – the city would be lost.

"Dwalin!" Grunting as he deflected the blow of a particularly large Dourhand, Dwalin glanced quickly to his right. Pin, the head of the guard, was motioning his warriors to retreat. "Dwalin! We must fall back! Dourhands have reached the lower halls!"

Posey. He'd purposefully kept her from his thoughts – surely the city was emptying and she'd be far from the lower halls by now. He needed to remain focused – She is well. She is fine.

With a sudden rage, Dwalin quickly dispatched his opponent and called for the men ahead of him to fall back. Getting out of the mines was wrought with peril, as many of the wooden bridges that led to the upper levels had been cut down – at one point, Dwalin and his men were forced to scale the rocky side of the cavern, several slipping back down into the sea of enemies now in close pursuit.

"Is the city emptied?" Dwalin called out as he reached Pin several moments later.

"The upper halls are emptied, but those in the lower halls are still making their way out!"

Running with as much speed as their legs could carry them, the warriors reached the lower halls – Screams of women and children could be heard ahead and they wasted little time joining in the fight to hold back their enemies from reaching those who could not defend themselves. Already, they were several levels above the home Dwalin shared with his wife… Shaking his head of the thought, Dwalin's vision turned red as he cut through dwarf after dwarf – this battle was an abomination of the ancient pact that the seven dwarf families created… Gormr Doursmith would pay.

It had not taken Dwalin long to realize who had caused this wanton death – the responsibility lay with the dwarf who wanted power with a desire greater than any Dwalin had ever seen. Gormr. The wretch would pay – Dwalin would kill him. Of that he was certain.

More and more enemies came lashing out of the mines, each wave larger and fiercer than the last. "We cannot hold them back much longer!" It was Pin, with blood pouring down his face from a head wound. He was right – their numbers were dwindling as more and more dwarves fell or fled.

"We fall back!" Dwalin bellowed, his legs reacting before the words were even said, leaping backward and heading to the stairwells that led into the main hall.

Much of the lower halls were still filled with people trying to escape. "Get these people out of here! Archers!" Dwalin's voice rang out clear as the few remaining bowmen shot their arrows into the sea of Dourhands. From behind him, Dwalin could hear the Dourhand order to capture the Longbeards – to take them alive. Captured.

He wasn't the only one to hear it – The screams got louder, the people more panicked. Imprisonment was almost worse than death to a dwarf. Dwalin shoved those ahead of him forward, picking up an old man who'd fallen. "Get on your feet or you become a prisoner!"

With the threat of imminent capture, those on the stair began to push ahead faster, dropping whatever belongings they still carried and fleeing for their lives in chaos. What seemed like hours later, they managed to reach the main hall - Every dwarf in sight was running.

The main gate was flung open wide as dwarf after dwarf made their way out of the city, into the emerging light of dawn.


Ut baraz an karaz azamar, or taerin: Our bond will endure forever, my love.

Samman: friend, trusted shield-brother or battle companion

Khuzdûl: the Dwarven language

A/N: Review, review, review! :)