After a fierce battle with orcs crossing the Lonely Mountain, the dwarf company searched through the grounds for survivors and to help the wounded.

That spring evening was when Dwalin found the dwarven maid crumpled and bruised in an orc's net. After taking her pulse, he breathes a sigh of relief. The beat is there, but feeble. He calls for help to carefully get her out of the net and to cut the bonds that held her hands and feet together. She is unconscious and her pale skin looks ghostly against her raven black hair. Dwalin carefully takes her up in his arms and carries her limp form to the infirmary.

...

Over night the healers are mystified as they try to mend this helpless mystery maiden. Nothing in the healing lore seems to be working. Her skin grows cool to the touch with a gray cast, and her heartbeat grows more faint as they are working.

Only once do they see improvement, that is when a healer with a gold and silver ring touches her. The ring is dissolved where it comes in contact with her skin. And that section regains color. They even consult the mages. No word of such a happening. In desperation, they agree to try putting small coins on her to see if they have the same effect as the ring.

Dwalin walks in as they are in the middle of doing this. The coins melt into her skin, leaving a dusting of gold and silver power behind. He wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.

Color starts to return to her face. She is gently lifted and turned over with the procedure repeated. The laying on of gold, melt, turn over, repeat. Three applications of this treatment bring her back to the living. She's not in her youth anymore, but she still has a striking beauty in her strong features.

Dwalin approaches with a confused questioning look in his eyes, "What sort of healing is this?"

The eldest of the healers doesn't take his eyes off his patient but responds that they aren't sure and explains the earlier incident with the ring.

Out of curiosity, Dwalin takes 2 gold coins out of his pocket and holds them up to ask permission so he can see this up close. The head healer shrugs, as if to say it can't hurt. So Dwalin carefully places them on her eyes. As they dissolve, some of the gold dust is wetted with tears and forms a trail in the gold dust on her face.

Her eyes flutter open and she startles.

"It's ok, lassie. Ye're safe now," Dwalin and the healers try to comfort her. But she's obviously frightened out of her wits and struggling to get free. She doesn't seem to comprehend where she is or what they are saying to her. Thankfully, her strength isn't fully recovered or the infirmary would be filled with absolute chaos.

Dwalin is holding her shoulders down as he mentions to the nearest healer to try holding up a coin. Her eyes dart to the coin and she seems to settle and focus on it. The healer's hand hovers over her skin with the coin and she stops fighting, but is still very tense Dwalin and the healers slowly let her loose as the coin dissolves. A stack of coins is laid beside her and the healers continue to place them on her as she warily watches them with hawkish golden eyes. Dwalin tries smiling at her, but she just covers her eyes with her arm. It brushes his hand and he feels the trembling, so he reaches up and squeezes her hand hoping to comfort her.

When the head healer asks Dwalin to bring food for her, he tries to leave but she won't let go of his hand. So, one of the lower healers goes instead.

The healers try to help her into a robe for modesty and comfort. She still refuses to let go of his hand. "Lassie, let me hold yer other hand, after they put it through a sleeve." His looks to the ceiling trying to avert his eyes as he trades hands and he mutters, "By my beard...did na think I'd be getting a lass dressed today..."

Smells of a hearty stew and bread announce the return of the healer turned errand boy. Dwalin asks, "Hungry?" But she looks at him blankly. The bowl and spoon are put in front of her on a small tray. But she doesn't touch it. Dwalin tries putting a spoon of the stew to her mouth. But she turns her head to avoid the spoon. Exasperated Dwalin says, "Fine. If ye will na eat it, I will," and eats the bite he'd offered her. Comprehension evidently kicks in because she snatches the bowl and spoon from him - letting go of his hand, gaurding the stew protectively and gobbles it down.

"Well, at least ye're eating...I guess I'll go git my own food."

Mid bite, she points to the bowl of stew and says, "thood?"

Dwalin looks quizzically at her but repeats, "Yes...food." An idea pops in his head and he continues in Khuzdul, "Do ye understand what I'm saying?" Her uncomprehending look speaks for her. Then he tries in the common tongue - no luck. He motions for a healer to come over and he explains that she doesn't understand them but seemed to pick up the one word. He also asks for some food to be brought up for him while he ponders this puzzle of a maiden.

Pointing to himself he slowly says, "Dwa-lin," and she readily but a little clumsily repeats it. He repeats the gesture and his name and she says it again.

Then he tries pointing to her, "Ye?" She looks confused and repeats, "Ye?" Dwalin shakes his head and tries the 'me Dwalin', 'you?' tactic, but it doesn't work. He screws up his face as he tries to think of a way to find her name, but draws a complete blank. "Very well, until ye are able to tell us yer name - we'll call ye "Raven GoldDust" He points to her and repeats, "Ra-ven". She points to him, "Dwa-lin," then to herself, "Ra-ven". He nods and smiles.

She points to things around them and he says their names - bowl, spoon, hand, tray, etc. This routine goes on until he's finished with his mid day meal. He requests teachers for her, so he can go about the rest of his day. She's not keen on the idea of him leaving, but he can't stay here all the time.

...

When he comes back to check on her in the evening she's been moved to quarters of her own. She's concentrating on trying to read a book in Khuzdul. Parchments are spread all over with words and drawings. Frustration is written on her face. When she hears his boots, she looks up with relief on her face and points to the book and says, "Dwalin, word please?"

"Zurmathor (forest)," he says.

This is a total non plus for her and her frown shows it. She points to the ink well and quill, "Draw, please."

So he dutifully tries to draw a forest.

"Many tree?" she questions.

"Yes, lass. Many trees. Ye understand that much already?" he looks at her with a mixture of perplexity and amazement.

"Raven learn."

"Ye're doing well. Amazingly well. I've never seen the like. How do you learn so fast?"

She shrugs and gives a small smile.

"I'm glad to see ye're doing so much better. I'll check on ye again in the morrow," he pats her hand and she snatches his hand before he can pull it away.

"Raven, lass, I need sleep," he pantomimes with his free hand and head."I'll be back."

Her lips purse and her eyes look hurt, but he is able to free his hand and he bids her good night.

...

Pounding on his door drags him from his slumber. "Dwalin, get up! She's hysterical and is shrieking your name! Help us calm her down.

Dwalin is already putting on his breeches and robe before the pounding stops. Warrior ways die hard. Before the pleading outside has ceased, Dwalin has the door open and the messenger steps out of the way.

...

Banshee wails emanate from her room and he can hear the shuffling as they try to soothe and contain her. When he opens the door her wild eyed struggle stops and she takes in ragged breaths.

"Raven, what is wrong, lass?" Dwalin pleads as he walks over to taker her hand and wipe the tears from her cheek, "Help us understand what's wrong."

"Closed. Trap. Black of blacks," the tears stream down her face.

"Ye felt trapped? Like we wouldn't let you go?" he gently quizzes. Her vehement nodding says volumes.

"Watch this..." he lets go of her hand and walks over to the door and closes and opens it. "Ye can open it too."

Her momentary panic when he closed it makes it crystal clear. She hoarsely whispers, "Open, please."

He returns to her side and she throws her arms around his waist and buries her head in his chest, "We can do that, lass. Now the black of blacks. Do ye mean the dark - no light?" She nods again into his robe and he can feel her shaking. He puts an arm around her. "Ok. Easy enough. Ye heard the lady - more lights in the room."

Once four more lanterns are lit, Dwalin sits down on the bed beside her and leans against the wall and she snuggles into his shoulder. "What did they do to ye?" he wonders out loud as he strokes her hair. When she's finally calm and has closed her eyes he speaks to the healers and dismisses all but one,"Alith, stay here with us - for her honor's sake."

The healer quickly drags in a cot and extra blankets to keep everyone warm. Dwalin pulls the hood of his robe up and pulls it over his eyes so he can sleep.


Author's Notes:

Songs

Stay by Jorane

Lift by Poets of the Fall

A Mhuirnin O by Clannad