AN: Alright you guys. Since this story is taking forever, and I'm about 80% done or so, I figured I'd at least upload the prologue. More will be up soon! This is the longest story I've ever written, hope everyone likes it in the end. The pairings are for upcoming parts, as this little bit is just backstory. I've taken lots of inspiration from Tolkien's mythology, and added more of my own. As always, there are translations for some words in the endnotes!
Pairings: Fili/Kili, Thorin/Bilbo, Dwalin/Ori, Bofur/Nori
Chapter 1 - Aȝûlêz
Many moons ago, before the great prosperous Kingdoms rose upon the land, men walked the endless plains with darkness in their hearts. Life was tiresome, and gruelling, and many lost faith in their reason for existing. People rarely interacted, and strong family bonds were rare. Violence often struck deep in the hearts of men, and great wars spread destruction wide and far in the name of power and greed. The lands were ruined, trees uprooted, water soiled, and all that remained was an endless sea of sand and the bodies of those who died in battle.
Though the Valar had once protected the people of Šebeth, they now cared little for them, instead choosing to remain in their home in Valimar. Men were fools, full of gluttony and hatred for one another. Their violence disgusted the Valar, and so they ignored them, abandoning men, for the gods had no reason to protect those with such evil in their bones.
The great commander Thrór was one of few men who still held kindness within his heart. Everywhere he travelled Thrór took in the lost souls he found. His men revered him, loved him even, and followed him faithfully across the sparse lands. In return Thrór gave his people all he could. He kept them fed and happy, spreading rations equally amongst all. He told countless stories of the ancient Valar to raise the spirits of those who experienced incredible loss. His people looked up to him as though he was a god walking the earth as a man, the last remaining god in Šebeth. While his people looked up to him Thrór continued to look up to the skies, his faith in the ancient Valar strong.
Even still, Thrór was a fighter, and the mention of wealth and power changed him as it had many before. Much like other men he craved the taste of battle and blood. He led the very people that revered him into combat time and again. His people fought long and hard, never betraying him or running from a fight, for they still believed his word was law. Until their last breaths came, they swung their weapons into the faces of enemies, no matter how fearsome.
"King Thrór! King Thrór! Our Vala!" They shouted, cheering their leader on even as axes slit their throats and sides. And Thrór grew powerful with their shouts, remaining undefeated in battle as he drove his blades into the hearts of his foes. He fought endlessly, until the last shouts died and the last soldiers fell, and the only one still standing was Thrór himself. He rejoiced in his victory, standing atop the mountain of corpses and cheering to the skies like the Vala his people thought him to be. But then, as Thrór looked down upon the devastation and remains of his people, bleeding and crying from their suffering, he shuddered. His eyes connected with his followers, children, mothers, fathers, brothers. Even his own lover lay dead and bleeding before him. All of his people were wide eyed as their last breaths left their bodies, and then his blades fell from his hands to the dark red soil below.
A god he was not. For no god would allow so many to suffer. A king he was not. For no king would betray his people so. Thrór fell to his knees in anguish, crawling across the ground as he looked upon familiar faces, faces that had once smiled as he told enchanting tales of ages past. Not one blinked back, not one spoke to him in return. He cried as he realised every last one had died under his command, and for what? A piece of land, covered only in the blood and bodies of those who fought beside him. For another palace left in ruin, the golden pillars and domes worthless in such darkness. His faith had waned, and he ran, and screamed begging someone to answer, anyone. He looked for water to clean his dirtied hands, but none remained. And he looked for fresh fruit to quell his hunger, but it was tainted. Nothing was left, and finally, Thrór too lost faith in his reason for living.
What good was there in living for only himself? What good was there in wealth and riches, when no one lived to share it with? What good could come of wandering the desolate lands alone? Still, he walked, his feet dragging through the deep desert sands, until all he could see around him was they grey horizon and the dark brown powder beneath him. He collapsed and raised his hands to the air, begging for any who might hear to forgive him, to save his people, to punish him instead. He begged the Valar he once held such faith in to hear him, to return to his land once more.
And then something incredible happened. Thrór's eyes widened as the sky lightened to a beautiful blue colour he'd heard of only in legend. The clouds disappeared, and brilliant rays of light shone out from behind them illuminating the land in a golden glow. Thrór covered his eyes, blinded by the beauty of the desert sky, until voices echoed all around him. He turned in a full circle, but he could see nothing beyond the beauty of the land. Then as he staggered backwards his body knocked into something solid. Startled, Thrór turned in surprise and gaped at a tree. It grew from beneath the sand, growing taller and taller, its leaves a deep emerald green, and bark a lovely mahogany. Thrór gasped and reached out to touch it. The bark was rough beneath his fingers but he rejoiced in the feeling of such life. Tiny insects crawled across his fingers and Thrór observed each one, placing them all back carefully.
The kindness he once held in his heart had returned. The Valar had heard his prayers.
As he stepped back and looked up at the tree he was alarmed once more. The land beneath his very feet collapsed and he fell with a splash into water. He sputtered and coughed, swimming to the surface and treading there. Instead of anger at the nerve of the gods, he felt overjoyed. Thrór laughed, loud and heartily, splashing his arms on the surface of the water. He took big gulps and dunked himself over and over. It was beautiful, glistening in the sunlight, bluer and clearer than any water he'd seen in his lifetime, and it tasted like the richest of wines. Beneath the surface, Thrór widened his eyes in wonder, ignoring the sting of liquid within them. Every colour imaginable covered the oceanic floor. Fish swam before his eyes of all shapes and sizes, and plants tangled around his ankles and toes.
Thrór was overjoyed. He thanked the Valar for their compassion, for their gifts, enjoying every last one thoroughly, though he still mourned the loss of his people. Thrór lived like that for many years. Alone, with only the bugs and fish to give him company. It was lonely, and nightmares and dark memories often ravaged his mind. He regretted so many of his actions, and sometimes wished he could join his people in death. But he was determined not to give up, for the Valar had blessed him with such beauty before his eyes, he had no right to throw it away.
One day, when Thrór was swimming through the deepest parts of the water, he spotted something peculiar. A shiny gem, blue, much like the water and sky, sparkled between the plants. Thrór plucked it from the sand, and took it ashore. He sat beneath his tree and held the gem up to the sun. Light reflected from within it, creating beautiful silhouettes and patterns around him. It was stunning, and reawakened memories of ages past. It reminded him of his father's eyes, and his lover's soul. He clung to the gem and whispered ancient words, words that he'd only heard spoken in his ears as a babe.
"Mânawenûz, A3ûlêz, Tulukastâz, Arômêz, Ulubôz," Thrór listed the names of gods long forgotten, long lost. Gods many thought had disappeared, choosing to abandon the realm of men.
"Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar! Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar," He chanted, over and over, for those he'd let fall in battle, for those he loved, for those he could not protect. That night Thrór slept with the jewel clasped between his fingers, grateful again for the beautiful gift, his lips forming olden words as he rest.
He dreamt of a Kingdom, large and prosperous. There was a palace that shone in the desert sun and a river ran through the middle of the lands offering the people an endless supply of refreshment. The surrounding villages flourished under the palace command, and the King was kind, but firm in his ruling. Though wealthy, the Kingdom remained benevolent. For the people had all they needed, and no desire to search out more. There was no disease or famine, the people did not suffer and they did not fight in wars, only fighting to aid others in need. They protected what they had, and those they loved, never asking for more. Death still existed, for new life was impossible without death. But the people cherished the memories of those long lost, grateful for the time they spent together, and the happy lives they were blessed with, while they looked forward to future lives yet to come.
Voices whispered to him in ancient tongues, different dialects running through his ears. They were the languages of the gods, and those that came from them. They first spoke in Valarin, the oldest of them all, the most secret of them all, and it felt foreign in Thrór's ears. Regardless of language, always they murmured the same words.
"Erebor," They said.
"Erebor," Thrór repeated.
"Arkenstone," They whispered.
"Arkenstone," Thrór murmured back.
When he woke, the sun was just rising, and he could hear unusual sounds around him. There was chatter, and voices whispered softly from his sides. Thrór opened his eyes and looked around in awe. People stood in a circle around him, his people. He remembered their faces, each and every one. They looked upon him expectantly, waiting, eagerly for his command. And Thrór could not speak, as his beautiful wife stood strong and tall before him, her long red hair falling in gentle waves about her face. They were smiling and Thrór felt his heart clench in his chest. He looked down, at the jewel in his hand, and knew, the Valar had given him an incredible gift. The gem held unimaginable power and the gods had entrusted it to him. It was a power he would never use again. He stood, the jewel clenched tight between his fingers and his people watched calmly as he looked upon them.
"Erebor," he said, gesturing at the land surrounding them, and the people repeated it in awe. The word echoed endlessly around him, children shouted it and clung to their mothers excitedly; fathers chanted it and cheered as they marched around the lands. And Thrór rejoiced in the happiness of his people and raised his hands to the sky, before embracing the family he held so dear.
He built a kingdom around the beautiful tree, and soon one tree turned into many, and eventually the small pond grew into a long winding river. The palace was built, and the people lived around it, rejoicing in their leader and the life they had been given. The families grew strong, and the people found love in their hearts for each other and their King. They had a reason to live. And in the eves when the stars first began to appear in the sky, the people gathered in the streets to celebrate.
"King Thrór! King Thrór!" They shouted and cheered, their faith in the Valar renewed. All the while Thrór held the Arkenstone close to his heart. He never used it, though its power remained strong, as the kingdom prospered under the protection of the Valar. And when his first son was born, under the light of a summer's moon, he placed the gem in the young prince's crown for safe keeping, a secret to all but the King and his closest kin.
AN: Thanks for reading! Here's some useful information!:
Aȝûlêz: Valarin for Aulë/Mahal, the Maker, in Tolkien-verse, he has lordship over the matter that composes Arda.
Šebeth: Valarin for air. For my purposes, the people use this word to refer to the world.
Mânawenûz: Valarin for Manwë
Tulukastâz: Valarin for Tulkas
Arômêz: Valarin for Oromë
Ulubôz: Valarin for Ulmo (There will be more info about each god later)
Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar! Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar!: From Namárië, a poem from Tolkien's writings, written in Quenya meaning: Now lost, lost to those of the East is Valimar! Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar.