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#dragons of the dwarven depths
meldelen · a year ago
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Dragonlance’s Lost Chronicles I: Dragons of the Dwarven Depths - A rambling review
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Cover art by Matt Stawicki depicting Tanis Half-Elven, Flint Fireforge and Tasslehoff Burrfoot, three of the main characters.
By now I should be rereading the second trilogy of the Dragonlance Tales, but I couldn’t resist and started with this trilogy of The Lost Chronicles which, to my eternal shame as Dragonlance fan, I didn’t even know it existed until a few months ago during confinement, when I decided to re-explore this beloved franchise of my teen years. The Lost Chronicles is a relatively recent trilogy - year 2006 - if we compare it with the first original trilogy, Dragonlance Chronicles (1984) that complete each other. Those who have read the Chronicles will remember that after finishing the first volume - Dragons of Autumn Twilight - in the second, Dragons of Winter Night, the authors made a temporary leap omitting part of the story - due to lack of time and creativity, they admitted at the time - in which the main characters’ group was recovering a sacred relic from the Dwarven nation of Thorbardin, The Hammer of Kharas, in exchange for providing protection and accommodation to refugees driven from Solace and enslaved by the Dragon Highord Verminaard. Well, precisely, this what the first volume of The Lost Chronicles is about, written no less than 20 years later, to complete this and other gaps in the original plot.
I have to say that on one hand I was excited to find this trilogy written to complete the original, and on the other hand, I was skeptical about it. Because writing decades later to complete something you had already done usually results in a grievance compared to the original work; it seems unlikely that something better will be done so long later; and unless you go with the lead feet, reread your original work VERY WELL and have a good publisher, it’s very likely to fall into contradictions and inconsistencies in the plot.
Well, nothing of that! This book is great! Not only have the authors recovered the original spirit of the Chronicles, but also - at the risk of being burned as heretic at the bonfire of fandom - they have improved it, and how! On the other hand it is logical, because writers are supposed to improve with time if they care for what they do, and let's not forget that Weis and Hickman are also the authors of that wonderful series called The Death Gate Cycle, which it is totally on another level. All that experience of years has been invested now and it shows.
How does it show? The pace of the plot, for example. The Chronicles, specially the first volume, had a very stressful rhythm - it was like climbing a roller coaster without harness - while Dragons of the Dwarven Depths has a sensible and constant pace, dosing the action and the dialogues in a balanced, fluid and consistent way. Secondly: it’s much better written than the original trilogy, both in terms of prose and setting. They take more time to describe the environments and the lore without becoming tedious, boring, or too hasty as sometimes happened in the original trilogy. Of course, the poems of Michael Williams are still horrible - or perhaps it is the translation that is horrible, I will give him the benefit of the doubt -; that issue seems to be doomed.
And finally I stop at what has always been, for me, the best of Dragonlance and the reason why I love it: the characterization. It has always been wonderful, and in this volume it shows. The Companions, very different in their origins, abilities and personality, have always fascinated me because they seem absolutely human and relatable, believable although many of them are not "humans" per se or have supernatural abilities, of course. They are supposed to be childhood friends and allies of their own free will in a world at war, but they actually malfunction as some kind of dysfunctional family, if I may allow redundancy. The mean-spirited and grumpy dwarf messes with everyone and scolds them all like a curmudgeonly grandfather, the others handle him making him believe that his decisions matter and his intervention is essential to them, the knight won’t stop annoying everyone with his ideals of honor and justice, lecturing them on what is right and good and cooperating rather little when it comes to making morally questionable decisions, the mage messes with everyone and everyone messes with the mage, who reacts like a furious snake because he’s aware that without him they would not make it to the corner alive, and in the absence of a real culprit, his fangs always end up stuck in his poor twin - an actual cinnamon roll, an example of the most tragic Stockholm syndrome -; the barbarians distrust everyone but they have no choice but to get along with them, the kender is, if possible, the most chaotic element of the group, whose burden and responsibility are passing each other as if they could really control him somehow; all of them led by a half-elf with remorse of conscience because he’s a disbelieving atheist who cannot even make up his own mind about if he feels elf, feels human, feels everything or feels nothing, and is not able to choose if he is in love with the elf girl or of the human girl, having enough work with babysitting this sociopathic group. Anyway. A delight for the senses.
Already experts in handling such a bunch of misfits, Weis and Hickman make you laugh hard at the interactions between them. In the Chronicles it wasn’t yet quite funny - especially if you hadn’t gotten used to Raistlin's mood, whom you’ve to swallow in little doses like a bitter medicine - but here, you’ve a great time! The knight annoying the mage, the mage messing with the knight, the two messing with the dwarf, the dwarf messing with everyone, the kender in the middle messing around... it seems incredible that these people saved the world, right? Well, they did! And even though they can’t totally get along, without a single one of them it would not have been possible. There, the greatness of the story.
I don't want to wind up much more. In this volume, the authors take the opportunity to correct other failures their original narrative had, such as devoting more attention to Riverwind, who plays a fantastic role as leader of the refugees - at the cost of casting a shadow over Goldmoon and therefore obtaining the inverse result of the original trilogy - and also, to pay a little more attention to poor Tika - the most human and perhaps most relatable of them all, although unfortunately she’s forgotten, like Goldmoon, halfway through the book - and above all, pay much more attention to Flint Fireforge, the dwarf, who’s really the main character of the book, and who finds himself faced with a moral dilemma: recover the sacred relic of the dwarves, the Hammer of Kharas, and hide it from his own people to take it to the Knights of Solamnia and therefore be used as an artifact to solve the war and give the world in danger of destruction a chance; or willingly return it to the dwarf nation and risk losing it to the cause.
5 stars. Great. Fantastic. It’s not boring for a single moment, there is no tedious, long or unnecessary part, the characters are genuinely themselves, the plot is better written and the style much improved. In short: it seems that time has not passed at all, or rather, it has passed, but for good. Highly recommended for Dragonlance fans and especially for those who are already familiar with the Chronicles. You will not regret it.
Geez, I need to shorten these reviews.
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dailyadventureprompts · 4 months ago
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Dungeon: Down the Gullet
“I ask you, oh mighty sage, how does something that’s been dead for centuries STILL have such bad breath?” 
Rori Darebrook, famed adventurer and bodyguard of Chronicler Esternius the Elder
Setup: None can quite agree where the bones came from, as local legend has it belonging to a world devouring beast by the name of Golszul, created by a clever lithomancer as a foreboding defense against intruders, and even as a severed head of the primordial goddess Tiamat. Regardless, the colossal skull and it’s scattered, monument like vertebrae guard the entrance to a valley and cave system dozens of miles long and full of wonders and dangers just waiting to be explored. The name “Golszul’s Gullet” has became popularized among those that have ventured it’s depths, given the swampy and sometimes putrid atmosphere within some of the caves, a phenomenon that can either be chalked up to some ancient culture dumping their garbage down the gullet for generations, or the dragon’s last meal refusing to finally rot away. 
The gullet is a dangerous place for the unready, as delving its reaches requires much more wilderness traversal skills than your average jaunt into a ruined fortress. 
Adventure Hooks: 
Near as anyone can tell, people have been making expeditions down into the gullet since before recorded history, ensuring that wide sections have been mapped out and largely cleared of the most dangerous hazards, while other sections remain untamed and undiscovered. While relaxing in a tavern or stocking up on supplies at the local market, the party is approached by an NPC who claims that their uncle was on a delve into the gullet that nearly didn’t make it back alive after becoming lost in unmapped passages. This npc happens to possess a few of the maps they made while trying to find their way back to a known point, and is willing to sell them to the party as a means of accessing a largely unexplored region of the cavern complex. 
Little means more to Shilnyn of Largisburg than faith, a man who has dedicated his life to the service of his chosen god and sharing their benevolence with the world. Perhaps the only thing that eclipses this calling is his love for his daughter Jiridis, who inspired by her father’s piety ended up joining a zealous sect within the faith led by a philosopher with peculiar ideas. According to this charismatic visionary, the titanic bones that mark the entrance to the gullet belonged to a great beast slain by their patron during the dawn age, and the thing which refuses to rot within its depths is infact a scrap of immortal flesh torn off during their battle. The sect has descended into the gullet with the hopes of reclaiming this relic of the divine and healing their god, leaving Shilnyn in need of companions to help track down the cult and survive the rigors of journeying the caverns before his daughter ends up martyring herself for a lunatic’s dream. 
The darkest depths of the gullet are haunted by an enclave of Derro, who hollow claustrophobic complexes into the stone and set traps to punish incursions into their territory. These mad dwarven-kin are bound to Sc’koGAX, an eremite mindflayer sage who uses them as servants, test subjects, and occasional snacks while perusing it’s own exploration of illithid lore. Quite content to lay off world-domination plans in favor of study, Sc’koGax is paranoid that agents of it’s elder-brain that spawned it are out to get it and steal it’s knowledge, and so has a nasty habbit of bashing open people’s skulls to see if any of the tell-tale signs of mind-control have been inflicted on the victim’s brain. 
Future Adventures: 
Lithographs through the most isolated sections of the cave speak of a ritual belonging to a long forgotten culture that involves ingesting particular mushrooms growing in the gullet’s swampier areas and traversing a circuit through the complex as a physical representation of the dreaming soul’s journey into the greater mysteries of sleep. Those partaking the quest will have to navigate a hallucinogen altered landscape while fighting off dream creatures and eventually receiving communion from a long-slumbering being once worshiped within the gullet’s cavernous temples. 
As a scholar of mindflayer lore, Sc’koGAX is well aware of how unnatural its kind’s existence is: parasites from a future that never will be that rely on other creatures and their alien brain-pools to survive. Eschewing the uniformity of thought being part a usual illithid hivemind offers, Sc’koGax has developed a unique method of self-preservation that does not require it to give up it’s individuality to an elder brain. Instead, Sc’koGAX only allows one of it’s tadpoles to mature, and through the use of a special psychic link, transfers his mind into the new body by means of a psychic link ( and letting his new self eat the brain of his old self). Challenging the party will interrupt this replication process, forcing the un-implanted tadpole to develop into a neothelid, eventually escaping the gullet months or years down the line in it’s hunt for food, bringing it into invariable conflict in the future. 
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dndeed · 2 months ago
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Crit Role Miniature Rollout: C3E3 The Trail and the Toll
With Andrew Harshman
An archive and review of the minis used on CR.
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I was anticipating a possible warehouse battle map setting. I was not anticipating the cold-blooded murder of a beloved Critical Role character. Beloved to me anyway. Only took three session for me to get rather attached to Bertrand Bell. Tis sad, but I’m sure some good storytelling will come out of this tragedy.
Yes, for the good of Jrusar. I will enter the fray with you, it’s time for Crit Role Miniature Rollout Campaign 3 Episode 3!
The Episode Mini List
Chest and Trove 5E Condition Rings
Dwarven Forge City Builder System Stone
Dwarven Forge City Builder System Tudor
Dwarven Forge Tudor Wall & Post Add-On Pack Wooden Balcony
Dwarven Forge LED Lighted Walls Add-On Pack
Dwarven Forge Wicked City Accessory Add-On Pack Stone Gargoyle Corner Post
Pathfinder Battles Rusty Dragon Inn Dressing: Crate
Mantic Games Terrain Crate Dungeon Depths frame/mirror
Mantic Games Terrain Crate round table
Dungeon Lair Desk & Chair Accessory Set
Dungeon Lair Treasure Chest
Dungeon Lair Chairs
Tiny Furniture Noble's Bedroom
Tiny Furniture Bedroom set v.2 wardrobe
Bertrand Bell HeroForge Mini
Custom Campaign 3 Party Minis
Monster Menagerie #006 Larethar Gulgrin
Waterdeep Dragon Heist #15 Darkling
Pathfinder Battles Lost Coast #01 Goblin Snake
The Player Characters
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Got a much better look at the party this broadcast. And they are beautiful! Truly inspired sculpts with incredibly rich and intricate paint work. The party minis are so nice in fact, Dorian’s ridiculous outfit actually looks pretty cool. These models are very true to their character portraits. So true in fact, they surely have to be original 3D sculpts. FCG is such a unique character design and the models have too many specific geometry details to have been made in a character creator engine. Still no word on the manufacturer’s identity.
I did want to mention Fearne’s wild shape very briefly. That’s no average snake. That there’s a goblin snake! The Pathfinder Battles Lost Coast #01 Goblin Snake. Another delightful PF monster. Complete with that distinct Pathfinder goblin football head shape. Delightful creature, fun seeing this figure pop up.
Favorite Mini
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Bertrand Bell of the Bertrand’s Bells Adventuring Co. Bertrand Bell Hero Forge Mini
Guess I won’t get another opportunity to award Favorite Mini to Bertrand Bell, so I better do it now. Love myself a good Hero Forge. An excellent HF build with excellent paint. He’s got those signature Iron Tusk Painting eyes, I’m willing to bet that’s who did the painting. What a shame we’re unlikely to see this miniature again. Pour one out for a true adventurer (but miss the floor and accidentally hit a friendly party member’s shoes). 
Least Favorite Mini
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Shadowy Pale Dwarf Monster Menagerie #006 Larethar Gulgrin Mini image sourced from minisgallery.com
Shouldn’t this mini be a duergar? If this villain ends up being significant enough, they might end up with a customized model. This is my least favorite mini based entirely on the murderous deeds perpetrated by the character it represents. The mini itself is quite decent. And we’ve actually seen it quite recently, as the miniature base for Dagen in C2E115:
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Final Thoughts
I’m now very invested in the party finding this new villain NPC. That is, unless the party gets found first! An enemy with the the feature Favored Terrain: Alleyways is indeed dangerous in an urban gaming setting. Session 4 begins the quest for coin and vengeance, I wish the Campaign 3 adventurers much luck.
See ya next sesh!
#critroleminiaturerollout
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isolationstreet · 9 days ago
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Where do you start with reading dragonlance?
I would highly reccomend starting with the original trilogy also known as the dragonlance chronicles which consists of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and finally Dragons of Spring Dawning.
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After that I would reccomend reading the second trilogy also known as Dragonlance Legends which consists of Time of the Twins, War of the Twins, and Test of the Twins. This is the story arc that the russian musical the last trial is based off of
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Those are the main core books that everyone agrees upon
After that i would reccomend doing what I did and read the Lost Chronicles trilogy if you can find it it fills in a lot of the gaps of the original chronicles. It consists of Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, Dragons of the Highlord of the Skies, and Dragons of the Hourglass Mage
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Or if you're more interested continuing with the main story rather than gaps I would reccomend reading the next generation books which are the end of the classic dragonlance era and it consists of the novels The Second Generation, and Dragons of Summer Flame
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After that the possibilities on what to read opens up even further either by going into the prequel novels or forward into the age of mortals.
I've personally only been reading dragonlance for about a month so I can definitely understand looking how daunting it can be to get into something that's so long running, but hopefully this helps get you started. Just remember there isnt really a right or wrong way to read the books. If you only want to read the 6 core books that's valid. If you only want to read about Raistlin that's valid. If you want to know everything about all of the lore and go way out of your way to read like 200 books that's vaild. If you were into ravenloft and just want more context for what Lord Soth's deal is also perfectly valid. So on and So Forth. I hope you enjoy :)
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drabbles-by-a-dreamer · 6 months ago
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Touch
Thorin x Reader
Thorin was ecstatic. The progress that Erebor had gone through in the last few months after the BotFA was enormous. So many things had been done to help restore the prosperous kingdom back to its former glory. The entrance to the mountain had been completely rebuilt, all the damage from Smaug's original attack was under construction, the dwarves captured and left to die in the mountain after the dragon attack had finally been put to rest, and now the kingdom was beginning to resume it’s relations with the kingdoms of Dale (formerly Laketown), Rivendell, and even Mirkwood. The kingdom was looking forward to an era of good tidings.
In light of all the darkness that everyone had suffered, Thorin decided to throw a ball in honor of Erebor and its citizens and allies. The ball was to be held in the newly finished Great Hall in the Lonely Mountain. The newly crowned King Bard was to be there as well as King Thranduil and some elves from Mirkwood. The relations between the dwarves and elves had grown better after the beginning of the courtship of Kili and Tauriel. There was a lot to celebrate tonight.
Y/N was a dwarven lass who had been part of Thorin’s company. You were in trade only a teacher, but begged to help reclaim the homeland of your kin. Only because of your skill with blades and daggers, were you allowed to join the quest.
Y/N was different from most dwarf women. You were only half dwarf, giving you mostly human features from your mother while getting the stubbornness and height of dwarves from your father. You grew up learning both the customs of dwarves and of men, which is what inspired you to teach others of the things you had learned.
While you had many friends because of your kindness and generosity, you felt like an outcast most times. Growing up, your mother always hugged you and told you she loved you. Your entire family did, you were loved dearly and it meant more than you could express. However, you learned very quickly that you were different in how you expressed it. Instead of hugs or touches, you would pick up a book for your brother while you were at the market. Instead of I love you’s, you would do a chore for your sister so she could finish making a fancy dress. Rarely would you say something in return or return that physical affection. While you knew the depth of your affections, many were blind to it. Even your parents. They would shout at you, “Why are you so selfish?!”, “Do you just not care?”, “What is wrong with you?”, “Do you think that you are too good for us?”
You were beyond confused at their anger towards you. You tried to explain but the words just wouldn’t come out. You don’t understand even to this day what you had done to hurt them. They kicked you out claiming that you were a heartless monster who didn’t love anyone. But once you were kicked out, you moved to another area in the Blue Mountains and there is where you met Thorin Oakenshield and learned of his plans to reclaim Erebor and your life changed forever.
As a dwarf, you knew about the loss of Erebor and what Smaug had taken away from your people. You also knew that you needed to leave the Blue Mountains and begin your life anew. Ever since you left home, every time you saw your family instead of kindness you received hatred and despair. You came home almost every day from seeing them and would just fall to pieces, how could someone go from loving and supporting to hating and despising?! One day you were in the market, you saw your brother and he seemed to be alone so you approached him. Right before you spoke to him your mother calls out, "Hey you. Get away from my son!" "Mom it's just me. The daughter you kicked out." You turn towards her so she could recognize you and at least acknowledge that it was you, one of her children, but when she sees you her expression turns hard as stone and she comes closer. Inches away from your face she glares down at you and says, "You are no child of mine and I suggest you get away from my son now! I don't want or need your kind anywhere close to my boy. Now shoo!" As the words left her lips, you felt your face go pale. Not her child? My kind?
At her words, you turned away and just started running you needed to get out of the market place. You were distraught but had no one to turn to. You kept running until a force like a wall stopped you in your tracks. You ran straight into it which cause you to lose your balance and drop everything in your hands as you fell onto your bottom. At first you didn't look up, you were just trying to calm down and collect your bearings. The wall you ran into started to speak, "My lady. I apologize for my interference. I did not see you coming. Please allow me to help you up and gather your things." You looked up suddenly and the most handsome man looked down at you. Words could not escape and you must had looked like a fish out of water, this handsome man was talking to you. Oh and the mess you were! You looked at yourself and saw the mud you sat in as well as the dirt on your hands from the fall. "Please allow me." The gorgeous stranger spoke again and offered his hand to help you up. You looked at him and slowly placed your hand into his. He grabbed you and when you stood, you realized how tall he was. You knew he was a dwarf but dwarves usually weren't this tall. Once you were standing, he grabbed your basket and coin purse and handed them to you.
You finally remembered your manners and said, "Thank you Master Dwarf. I wasn't watching where I was going carefully."
He gave a small smile and returned, "It's quite alright my lady. I assure you no harm has been done. If I may ask, what has you fleeing so quickly?"
You simply remarked, "The demons from my past. Which is why I must find somewhere else to go. I am not welcome here any longer and I need a new beginning maybe even an adventure."
The dwarf simply looked at you and then spoke, "Well I guess Mahal knows what he's doing. For I myself am about to embark on an adventure. But before I tell you that I must ask your name."
You looked at the dwarf amazed and answered, "Y/N. Y/N L//N."
"Well Y/N L/N, I am Thorin Oakenshield. How would you like to join my company?"
Thorin took you back to his blacksmith shop and explained everything. While Thorin didn't love the idea of having a female as part of his company, he knew that you were bound to run off on your own no matter what so he decided that you would probably be better off with him and his company. He explained how he could not guarantee your safety but if everything turned out that you were bound to have a brand new start in a place far away from the Blue Mountains. You agreed immediately.
Thorin still had business to attend to so you headed to the Shire where you met and fell in love with the company. They had all grown so close to you. They made you laugh and they were there when you almost died. Thorin's company had grown close to each other. You did miss the Thorin you had met, but you learned so much about him throughout your journey to Erebor. Thorin was tough as nails. He was the most pigheaded dwarf you had ever met. He was strong and courageous. He had faced death more times than you liked to count. Over the weeks and months you felt yourself falling in love with him. But Thorin was to be a king and you, well you were a disregarded nobody whos talents were teaching people and serving others. Nothing exactly useful like the rest of the company. But you had finally made it, months after Erebor had been won. The worst was behind you. It took a few weeks for the line of Durin to heal but once they were allowed they were up and running around. It was a bit chaotic at first but looking back you could see so much progress has been to restore Erebor to its former glory.
There was to be a ball tonight and you were excited. You were even able to make a new dress for yourself. You had chosen to make an emerald green gown which would bring out the green in your eyes. When the time to get ready finally arrived, you almost couldn't hold in your excitement. You were about to enjoy yourself and celebrate what had been done with your closest friends, basically your family. The thought of your family back in the Blue Mountains still made you upset from time to time but you always pushed your emotions down and forced yourself to move on.
You made your way to the ballroom and immediately found the table where the company was seated. Even the Durin princes were here. Fili greeted you but Kili was too busy staring into Tauriel's eyes. It almost made you laugh out loud, how silly and in love they were. You wished that you could be that silly in love with Thorin but he was king and you were definitely not someone he would choose.
The ball had begun and luckily you were with the company which meant that the evening was filled with laughed and conversation. Bofur has even made it his goal to teach you a dwarfish dance so that you could participate with those dancing. After a few dances with Bofur, you excused yourself to go grab some punch. As you were reaching for a cup a voice made you pause, " Oh look who it is. The wretched being we threw out of our house." You grabbed the cup and turned around. There stood your mother and your father. Your mother had what you now recognized to be a dangerous and evil glint in her eye. She took a step toward you.
"What do you think you are doing here?" She questioned seemingly innocent.
"What do you mean what am I doing here? I should be asking you that. I was apart of Thorin Oakenshield's company. I helped reclaim the mountain." You explained to her firmly.
"YOU. Help reclaim the mountain..." She begins laughing, "... What did you do exactly? I think if anything you were there more as a means to an end, there to help keep the company... how should I say it.... entertained?"
You flushed red with her insinuation and replied, "No mother that was not my purpose for being there. I needed a fresh start and the king granted it to me."
"Sure, sure. Of course that's what happened. I can only imagine that you were as responsible during this journey as you were when you actually had a job. Oh wait, what job? The one you did have, you quit for no good reason!" She argued.
"Mother. Keep your voice down there are guests and as for my quitting that job I told you. My boss tried to sexually harass me and I would not allow myself to be put into another position where he could try to advance on me again." You spoke firmly in reply. A few heads were turning as they saw the heated conversation.
She remarked, "Oh that's what happened? I think you were just making excuses for being a whore! You didn't want people to think badly of you so you blamed him. People already think that you are strange because of your introvertedness. Why not let them have another reason to dislike you?!"
"Mother, that's not ..." You said but were cut off with her reply. You had stopped noticing but almost all conversation has stopped in the ballroom as it bared witness to the atrocity.
"And you wonder why we kicked you out?! I think it should be fairly obvious. I mean, you're not even our real daughter!" She yelled at you. Thorin on the other side of the ballroom saw there was a commotion and immediately went to rectify the situation.
"What do you mean I am not your "real daughter"?" You asked afraid of the answer you would receive.
"I mean exactly what I said. I never gave birth to you. We found you when you were a babe and took you into our home. Now look what you have done! You have disgraced your father and I! You are a whore who travels with a company of all men in search of a "new beginning"! You are so irresponsible that you can not hold down a job and your excuse is that he was making advances, I mean the dwarf was happily married until you spread that disgusting lie about him!"
"I did not lie about him. He was making advances! Why won't you just believe me?!" You exclaimed.
"Because you are nothing! I have never loved you! You are simply this pest that I have been trying to rid myself of for years!" She cried out.
You spoke as evenly as you could and said, "Well I guess its good that you never loved me then. Because I am no longer your problem. If you'll excuse me, I need a breath of fresh air."
You looked away from her and saw the entire crowd was staring at you and your mother. Your face became beet red. You met Thorin's eyes and knew that he now knew the truth about you. You quickly walked towards the doors and the crowd parted for you. Once you left the ballroom you started running. You did not know where to, only that you had to get out.
You finally stopped running and looked around at where you were at. You weren't quite sure where in the mountain you were but that didn't matter. Then you found a balcony looking out over the city of Dale. You decided to sit outside and let your feet dangle off the edge. Your mind was running a mile a minute. Your parents weren't really your parents. You felt the tears start to flow down your face. Then you couldn't help but sob. The life you had known as a girl was all a lie. You were trying to fit in but even when you were young that was difficult. Now all you wanted was someone to comfort you. Hold you. Alas no one would. Even your closest friends from the company wouldn't. For you usually weren't a touchy type and they accepted that.
You heard footsteps behind you. But you couldn't find it in yourself to care who saw you like that. After everything that had happened, who cared what you looked like?
Thorin had not heard everything, but he had heard the last bit of the conversation with your mother. He knew that her words had deeply affected you. He sat down beside you.
"Oh, Y/N. Would you like to talk about it?" You heard him ask.
You shook your head no.
"Well what can I do? I cannot simply sit here and allow a member of my company to be beside herself." He asked.
"Could you hold me?" You asked quietly. You knew that Thorin was a stubborn dwarf and he like yourself was not big about displaying his feelings openly. You knew that he could scoff and call you ridiculous but you asked anyway hoping that maybe he would.
Thorin did not reply for a few moments and before he could reply, you said, "You don't have to. It was stupid to ask that of you. I will be fine in just a little while. I simply need to control my emotions better."
Thorin responded almost immediately looking at something far off, "I did not say yes right away because I feel that if I held you that it would mean much more to me than it would to you."
You blinked some tears away and asked, "What do you mean?"
Thorin gathered any last courage he had and said, "I mean that I love you. I know this isn't the best time to tell you but I truly do. I wish to hold you all the time. I wish to comfort you when you are upset. I wish to hug you out of joy. I wish to be there for you no matter what happens in your life. I know that you may not feel the same but I thought you should know anyway. I care for you more than words can say, Amralime."
You were astonished. First your mother's words and now Thorin. You looked at him.
"You truly mean that. You love me?" You questioned.
Thorin looked at you and smiled, "Aye I truly do."
You smiled back, your tears gone, and said, "Well it's a good thing I love you too."
Thorin heard you and his eyes widened for a moment before saying, "Well then come let me hold you ghivashel.
You grinned at him and moved to where he could wrap his arms around you. You laid your head on his chest and closed your eyes. Even though your life had just been turned upside down you knew that with Thorin by your side, it would turn right side up again. And now the future seemed so bright. Sure there would be obstacles and even now there were things to figure out and discuss. But at this moment, there was nothing else you would rather do than sit right here in the arms of the man you loved.
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niuttuc · 3 months ago
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Planeswalker’s Guide to Ocaelum
(Ocaelum is a world originally created by @gentlesmolgruulgal​ and developed later by herself and I. She then kept on working on the world and turning it into a D&D setting as I, on my end, kept coming back to it regularly as Arnoss’s home plane and a very fun place. The two diverged on many points since into two versions of the same world, but most of the base concepts are from @gentlesmolgruulgal​, presented here within my version of the world with her permission. All art of the world presented here, within cards or on their own, are also by her skillful hand, and used with her permission. Without further ado, let’s jump into the proper guide. Be warned, it is fairly lengthy.)
Ocaelum is a rarer type of plane, one that mostly exists underwater. The most active place is on the floor, between the caverns of the Elder Smiths and the colder waters of the upper depths. There, people used to worlds with air and flying suns will feel most at home, living among elves and humans under the care of the Lifetrees. The currents between those are the paths of the Family, trading and exchanging with everyone who agrees to it. Above are the waters of the secretive merfolks known as the Vhigg'ithu, though most of them claim that their empire spans all of Ocaelum. Below the ground, you’ll find breathable air once again, if in an even more closed environment. The old dragons and their dwarven followers live in a vast network of caves and tunnels, according to them both their cradle and their creation. It is lit dimly by bioluminescent mushrooms and the occasional molten rock. Whether natural or artificial in origin, large parts of the system have definitely been carved and remade in service of the underground civilizations.
One cannot mention bioluminescence without explaining the peculiarity of Ocaelum’s waters. On most planes, water gets darker, colder and more oppressive the closer you get to the ocean floor. On Ocaelum, that process works in reverse, with water near the ground being relatively bright, warm and comfy compared to the somber waters above. It is hard to ask locals about this phenomenon since it’s the norm for them, but there’s mentions of a “sun below” which could explain the temperatures, and the Lifetrees themselves generate light from the water around them and the leylines they’re rooted on. It is hard not to wonder what's above, beyond all this water. But even if the merfolks didn’t pose a threat to anyone who would go look, the conditions quickly become unlivable for anyone but them. Attempts to planeswalk to Ocaelum on higher ground or waters have not proven successful yet.
The Arcane Spires
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The first thing most ground-dwelling planeswalkers often notice upon arriving on Ocaelum are the branches above, and most likely soon after, the gigantic tree they belong to. While magical and giant trees aren’t all that uncommon a sight around the Multiverse, there’s something unique to one bereft of leaves, with something resembling a sun trapped right below its branches. Its light ebbs and flows as hours pass, giving the area around it an illusion of day and not-quite-night. Lifetrees like those exist all around the floor of Ocaelum, multiple dozens at least. The branches criss-cross over a sphere of air, all the way down to the ground, a passthrough membrane between them keeping the ever-present water of Ocaelum at bay, and extracting from it the life-giving air, warmth and light they provide. Most of them, except maybe for the youngest of sprouts, have a settlement established under their protection. 
From small town to city, the living spaces are generally kept closer to the trunk, while the agricultural space to feed that settlement is kept to the outskirts of the lifesphere, where there’s more surface and they’re closer to the root tunnels for trade. Those long roots are half-buried, connecting lifetrees to each other into four mostly separate networks, they call them councils, over the entire world. Over their length, small growth or fruits of sorts provides light for travelers. The waters around a lifespheres are often almost as animated as the spheres themselves with all sorts of work and leisure a marine environment allows, enchantments and equipments to live within the water for hours at a time being commonplace.
Life in the Spheres
The Coral
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The Coral are simply named, but they’re one of the most unique species on Ocaelum. Made of flesh and plant alike, the closest analog is probably other planes’ dryads. They keep a close relationship with the tree they’re tied to, communing with it often in a way that isn’t as open to members of other people. They tend to be very protective of their home, tree and everyone in it, and as such are often found in the tree’s fighting force or more spiritual roles. The material that grows on their body is also occasionally used as building material, in place of wood that’s much harder to obtain. It is mostly used in homes of Coral themselves, or buildings closer to the base of the tree or along the trunk itself, but it’s not that unusual to see it elsewhere. The Coral are the only major fully-amphibious species living in the lifespheres, but generally stick close to their home, with a few wandering exceptions and diplomats sent above, below or to other spires.
People from the Old World
Other than the Coral, lifespheres are mostly populated by elves and humans, not too dissimilar from most other planes. In fact, their legends claim that they were brought to Ocaelum centuries ago to escape a cataclysm by their gods, who made the trees to protect and sustain their people in this new environment dominated by water. Of course, this raises as many questions as it answers, and if it is true, very little remains from that time. Even the oldest living elves seem to have very little information on the “other world”. It likely has some part of truth, they wouldn’t be the first civilization to be moved to another plane for their safety, but the choice of one like Ocaelum is peculiar, requiring incalculable efforts in the creation of the Spires to sustain those people and adaptation of those cultures when many other worlds would likely have been a better fit.
This shared origin and the isolated settlements they’ve lived together in for centuries made the elven and human cultures and populations mingle much more on Ocaelum than most other planes, enough that they can be discussed together, at least within the spheres. The vast majority of them show heavy respect and deference to the Spire protecting them, often similar to one that would be given to deities in other societies, though there’s also many that only see the tree as a distant but ever-present aspect of life.
Moreso than Elves, humans can also be found below ground, having made a life for themselves over the centuries alongside or among the dwarves and dragons residing in the tunnels. Those will be expanded upon later, but they appear to be from groups that split from the rest of the population when they arrived from the Old World.
Lifetrees and Lifewood
Also known as Arcane Spires, or just Spires, Lifetrees themselves have a consciousness, and are the origin of larger scale decisions. They seem to communicate amongst each other across the root network, organizing into four “Councils”. Trees from different councils have different traits, looks and seem to be constituted of slightly different wood. Organizations and policies within each lifesphere tend to be somewhat consistent between spires of the same council, though there’s plenty of variation. The four councils are known as Foji, Adun, Pylo and Nokel, which are usually appended before the name of the settlements they care for. 
Their decisions and thoughts, when they need to be, are usually communicated through Voices, clerics they can converse with, most often Coral. The number of Voices in each sphere depends on the size of it and the whims of the tree, who’s the one to choose them. Or to choose the process they’re designated by. There’s talk of some trees that are their own voices, creating avatars to interact directly within the sphere, but it’s not common nor something I was able to observe.
The Spires have more than voices, and they seem to keep very good attention to everything that happens under their care. It is said that they are able to see and hear everything and everyone their light touches. Some of that at the very least is true. A few planeswalkers recount being approached by a Voice soon after they arrived on Ocaelum for the first time inside of a lifesphere.
Lifetrees are the only trees found on Ocaelum, and as such all wood comes from them. Once dead and harvested from inert branches or roots, it acts much like any other wood, with different properties depending on the Council. Despite the size of the spires, it is still rarer than on most other planes, and is rarely used directly as building material. Though in some places, elves have devised a way to help the tree grow in ways that support buildings, making roots part of the architecture itself.
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However, wood from Lifetrees doesn’t always die when separated from the rest of it. At the trees’ whims, wood cut from living parts of them can be Lifewood. Lifewood is one of the rarest resources on Ocaelum, but it is also one of the least valuable. It is more resistant than regular wood, but beyond that, it harnesses and produces its own magic, being able to sustain and activate indefinitely enchantments placed upon it, as long as they don’t need too much power. However, Lifewood can only ever be freely given. If stolen, sold or even just bartered with, it quickly dies, and becomes no different from any bit of wood across the Multiverse. How Lifewood divines when or in what context it changes hands is a mystery, but it seems no way to trick it has been found. Except maybe when it comes to the trees themselves, who seem to forego their own rules when it comes to the Family, their arrival sometimes celebrated by a “ceremonial gift exchange” which often involves Lifewood on the part of the Spire.
Tensions and the collapse
In the past few decades, tensions have been rising between the Spires and the Merfolk Empire above, as the Lifetrees have claimed more and more of Ocaelum’s grounds to house the growing populations within. The merfolks still perceive all waters on the plane to be theirs, and even if they seemed to tolerate the lifespheres as a separation between them and the dwarves, who they seem to share an ancient grudge with, they seem to dislike the possibility of losing direct access to the grounds of most of the plane. Those tensions have led to both more discussions, and more raids and excursions from “rogue merfolk agents”. 
While the lifespheres are well-protected, there’s been many people taken from the root tunnels and some caravans of the Family in this time. At one occasion, about fifteen years ago, things went beyond that, with a show of might and a coordinated assault on Adun Talandis, one of the larger Spires, that resulted in the death of the Lifetree and the subsequent flooding and destruction of the city. The few survivors were too far to know the means the Vhigg'ithu employed for killing the tree, but the empire claimed that assault, unlike the others. This massacre is remembered as the collapse of Adun Talandis, or simply the collapse, and even fifteen years later, it is still very present as a source of anger and fear in the population of the spheres. It is the only record of a Lifetree’s death so far.
The Core of the World
In and around the lifespheres, all over the world, are the glowing entrances to the expansive tunnels of the core. The glow comes from the mushrooms keeping the water out of most of the caves, by what seems like a similar process to the one used by the trees, on a smaller scale. From caverns big enough to house cities to tunnels that only serve as passage to small bugs, there’s most likely more space underground than in all of the lifespheres combined, an entire world of its own.
The lighting is dimmer than on most planes, and takes a bit of getting used to for some people, but is decent in the inhabited parts of the tunnels. The same kind of fungal life that seals the entrances was domesticated to do so, always glowing slightly, but a bit more when someone’s near. Temperatures are higher there than in most lifespheres, rising as you get down to the dwarves’ territory, deep down, to something akin to what’s found in tropical environments. But very dry. Most tunnels and caves that are regularly used have been carved and tamed, enough so that as long as you don’t veer too far off the path, you might just think you’re in a colossal, windowless building. The Core, as its inhabitants call it, is old, much older than any of the lifespheres above, and possibly older than the Vhigg’ithu empire itself.
The Elder Smiths and the Dwarves
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The Elder Smiths is the name the dwarves gave the powerful dragons that oversee their people. According to their legends, the five Elder Smiths were born from the stone of Ocaelum and hatched from the sun at the center of the world, the sun below. They dug the core as they shed the fragments of the sun they took with them, leaving behind what would become all life in the caverns as they found each other and became what they now are. With the embers still clinging to them, the dragons, for the first time, created life with purpose.
Thus were made the first dwarves, the first-forged. The Smiths took their creations with them, each a few. The dragons taught, and the dragons learned. Learned to care, learned to love, learned to be loved. Learned that what they did was right, learned what they did wrong.
As time passed, the Smiths created more dwarves, each their own, and they offered the first-forged to be remade with the knowledge gained, into more perfect forms. Many accepted, a few remain to this day. That tradition stands. Every so often, by choice or by need, every dwarf is reforged by the dragon they follow. Into a new shape, into a new life. It is unclear if this is a form of reincarnation or just of renewal, but most of the newly reforged dwarves choose to keep the name from their previous life.
The dwarves see themselves as the cherished and perfect creations of the dragon who made them. They see themselves as belonging to the guild of their Smith, but occasionally one will change guilds during their life, and sometimes be reforged in the process. The dwarves, the guilds, and the dragons themselves, are fiercely competitive and will often have various contests at all levels, be them large annual celebrations or everyday individual rivalries. Though grudges and contests can carry on for decades or centuries, it seems like no open conflicts between the guilds has never occured over all of dwarven history.
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The dwarves look similar to the ones on other planes, short and stout humanoids. Unlike the ones from most other planes, Ocaelian dwarves are significantly heavier and stronger than they look, which they attribute to the metal they were forged from, and their eyes tend to glow their color while in the dimly lit environment of the core. There’s relatively few dwarves on the plane, with them estimating their numbers in the few thousands at most over all of Ocaelum. They typically feed on the everpresent mushrooms and other plant or bug life from the core, but they eat little compared to other species.
While different guilds focus on different values, they all share the same overall set and they all function as individual societies that occasionally mix. Out of themselves and others, they value creativity, drive, perseverance, organisation and respect above all. While the dwarven society understands the concept of money, as it is used within other species’ trade, dwarves don’t want anything to do with it, preferring to barter goods, trade favors or services, or simply help and give to each other when needed. That policy extends to trades with the rest of the plane, the dwarves’ art and artifice being valued by both Spire-dwellers and the Family.
The Smiths and the Empire
The Smiths, and by extension the dwarves, are vocal in their opposition to the Vhigg’ithu empire, as well as the merfolks’ signature necromancy. The subject seems taboo, but this seems to be the result of more than differing ideologies, the merfolk empire having, far in the past, before the first seed of a Lifetree was planted, committed an act so heinous to the Smiths their hatred and disgust lasts unwavering to this day. What that act was is unclear, something to do with someone being stolen, or something being killed, or maybe the other way around. Dwarves seem either unsure or uncomfortable when asked, and given their reactions, asking an Elder Dragon directly seems more dangerous than the answer would be worth.
Their different environments and the Spires between them keep them out of armed conflicts for the most part, but the Empire is likely the main reason martial training is maintained and encouraged for dwarves, and not just to defend themselves against or hunt the larger beasts found within the Core. Occasionally the merfolks try to flood or attack through a tunnel, and there’s been more than one dwarf who felt like they ought to take revenge through a contraption and was lost into the vast ocean.
Humans of the Core
The Core is also home to many humans and a few elves, in fact, probably more than dwarves overall. Refugees from the Old World that didn’t trust the elves’ Lifetrees or wanted to go on their own, or more recent immigrants that didn’t find a home on the surface. A number of them live among dwarven society, either joining a guild or staying neutral and providing services for all. There’s even a few stories of humans being so respected as part of their guild they were reforged into a dwarf of their own.
The rest formed their own cities and societies in uninhabited parts of the Core, often closer to the surface. They tend to be hardier people than the ones living under the Spires, having to survive a harsher environment with more common and dangerous predators. Unlike the Guilds, the Empire, the Councils or even the Family, humans of the core aren’t organized in any one united structure. Each group works differently, sometimes completely, and the few laws are local at best. Their contacts with other factions on the plane is second only to the empire’s, and is generally more commercial than diplomatic. 
Humans underground tend to come in paler colorations and are much more accustomed to the core than ones from the surface, who know and expect the light of a Spire. A common tradition passed between them is to reduce the local mushrooms into a paste and apply it as paint, or even tattoos, as a way to notice and identify each other at a glance in the dark that the beasts of the core dismiss as just more of the mushrooms.
The Upper Depths
As one rises in the water, the ambient light fades, cold seeps in, and soon even the shining beacons of the lifespheres below disappear from view as the oppressing waters of the upper depths start, and continue seemingly without end. Few things live up here, or maybe many more than you can see. Those waters, all of them, all around the plane, are under the dominion and rule of the merfolks that were born in it, the Vhigg’ithu empire.
The Vhigg’Ithu
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Ocealian merfolks value information and knowledge much higher than most people, and as such are very private and secretive people. Among them, just being told one’s name is a token of an established friendship. They’re generally quieter than most people, telling only as much as they need to. Between their secrecy and the darkness they live in, there might be much more about the empire than is written in these lines. The empire is old, over a millenia old, and possibly multiple times that.
The Vhigg’ithu -sometimes called Viggs outside of the empire- are tailed merfolks (or at least legless, there are a few that move through tentacles or other means) and predators of a wide range of subspecies, shapes and builds, the extent and limits of each being too nebulous to clearly define as more than an aggregate, though the merfolk society itself might have better distinctions. They’re for the most part very sensitive to light, or blind, relying on other senses to perceive their surroundings. The Lifetrees are luminous enough that they’re harmful for merfolks who can see to look at directly without protection, raiders and traders going to the ground will often wear specialized goggles to avoid being blinded, or include darkening spells in the ones that maintain a bubble of water around them when they do go inside lifespheres or the core. The spells they use come in as many variants as the water-breathing ones other species use, ranging from something that sticks to their body to a round bubble they can freely swim anywhere and effectively fly.
The Empire and the Shiver of Kings
The Empire isn’t a monolithic entity, far from it. It is ruled by five powerful monarchs, collectively referred to as the Shiver of Kings despite containing a couple queens. There is no emperor or central authority figure. What exactly fits under each king and queen’s rule is hard to say, they govern specific currents and people in a manner that changes as time passes, trades are arranged and wars are waged. The relationship between them is antagonistic to say the least, and even if they all look down more than literally on the other inhabitants of Ocaelum, the empire seldom present a united front. Should it, its military power would almost assuredly surpass that of any other faction on the plane by far. But whatever goal the monarchs pursue below is only second to protecting themselves from each other and organizing their attacks and counter-attacks.
This system does not sound sustainable, but the Empire has held under these conditions for over a thousand years, beyond what any Spire’s archives has records of. The same five rulers, or ones with the same names, keeping each other in check, at a virtual standstill, for centuries and centuries. Occasionally, alliances form or one is in a dominant position, but inevitably one betrays the other or the others band against the dominant one.
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The rulers keep to their capitals, the only confirmed examples of merfolk cities, though others are assumed to likely exist within the depths. The capitals are built on the body of gargantuan creatures, wading through the waters, always moving, if slowly, taking with them an unfathomable mass of buildings and other living beings, creating currents sweeping bringing along everything close in their wake. These monsters and the cities upon them share a name with their ruler, though a more talkative merfolk stated that all of those are one and the same. That the Shiver are those colossal beasts, ruling through a small extension of themselves. That thought is chilling, but thankfully these beasts or kings have never been seen anywhere close to the ground.
The five monarchs are named Ihmir, Satena, Ysyn, Lowdos and Ulphion and the leviathans they live on are as different as they are, from Satena’s tentacled self to Ulphion’s shell harboring most of its population. They do not seem to eat, or ever stop moving. Merfolks simply swim along, on and off the currents it creates.
Life, Undeath and Unlife
Due to the size of the Empire and relatively low population in comparison to it, the Shiver’s rules tend to be relatively lax, and allow a lot of individual freedoms to their merfolk citizens. As long as the population obeys when the monarchs do issue orders.
That freedom isn’t afforded to everyone, though, slavery being a common punishment in Vhigg’ithu society. It is generally temporary for citizens, a result of debt or crime, but is often much more permanent when it comes to prisoners taken in a raid or from other rulers’ dominion. It is widespread enough that a large bulk of public tasks and menial private tasks are performed by slaves. However, slaves are kept out of simpler, more tedious or dangerous work, they’re too valuable for that, those are reserved to the undead workforce.
Necromancy is an integral part of Vhigg’ithu society. The next step after life ends is undeath or unlife, and this is an accepted truth. Leaving the dead to float away and get eaten would be wasteful when they could be of use. As such, any salvageable corpse is requisitioned, reanimated and put to work, at least if the person didn’t have prior necromantic arrangements. If a corpse is too damaged to be reanimated as such, it still will have its uses, though such an end is seen as more than death, it is called oblivion.
Not much effort is generally spent on common zombies, the ones made of the vast majority of the population, being little more than mindless drones useful for following simple commands and instructions. Being brought back in such a way is referred to as undeath, both undead and unliving are sometimes referred to as undead. A single Necromaster, which is the title given to the ones handling and organizing a group of undead towards a goal, is able to keep control over dozens of zombies at once. For the most powerful ones, that number could be in the hundreds or even thousands.
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Besides those simple zombies, necromancy has other benefits to the empire. For some, it brings unlife, a new life after death in which the reanimated gets to keep more than their basic identity, but also their memories, personality and higher thought. Elite unliving troops are a tool each monarch has at their disposal, without the need to breathe in tunnels or lifespheres and with a clarity of purpose that only comes after death. Noble, powerful and rich merfolks prefer the eternal unlife of a lich to the cold undeath of service, but the right to undergo the process is reserved to the Shiver and its individual monarchs to grant... This simple act and its enforcement better than any show of force keeps many merfolk mostly subservient to the Shiver in life and in unlife, afraid of having their time ended abruptly by the oblivion that’s punishment for transgressing the law of unlife. Though not all of the affluent merfolks are keen on this balance of power.
The Free Exchange Society
An undercurrent of the Empire, the Free Exchange Society is a group of merfolks trying to reach out to each other under the monarchs’ rule and to other people of Ocaelum in opposition to the more aggressive stance their governments usually take towards diplomacy. Some are in it out of curiosity for the rest of the plane, others are searching for a profit, some want the Shiver dethroned out of spite or ambition, and some have more personal reasons. It’s hard to know when the Society was first established as such, but records of contacts with it in the Spires go back at least a century. Membership is generally kept a secret and anonymous meetings are the norm. While being a part of it is technically not illegal under most of the Shiver, most see it as both private and dangerous to talk about.
The Free Exchange Society has, over the years, exchanged, sold and at a few occasions even given information, slaves or help obtained from the Depths. They’ve been in contact with the Family, the Spires, humans of the core and they’ve even reached out to the dwarves, unsuccessfully so far.
The Family
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From the ground waters to the core, from the Spires to the lower parts of the depths, the Family is a disparate amphibian people who travel in caravans all around Ocaelum. How each species first joined the Family varies, but it formed after the Spires were already established, joining many smaller cultures. Some of them were formerly subjects of the Empire, but most were small, independent tribes living around specific entrances to the core, suddenly faced with a much larger world.
That variety translates to their caravans. Some have the bulk of it stay in the water at all time, using whales or other animals to transport their living and cargo that aren’t quite as adaptable as they are, unloading into lifespheres or the core as needed. Others use grounded animals and travel the core and the Spires. A decent number of caravans are a single, larger vessel the size of a small town, machines of Dwarven origin that were modified and appropriated so much by their users over decades that they are barely recognizable as such.  A number opt for chelonian beasts of burden, giant turtles that can swim and wade on the ground alike. Most of them have a small living space built atop their back, and cargo to their sides. Each caravan generally has a few spaces that are enchanted to always stay full of water, and the equivalent for air. Some of what they transport only lasts in one of the two environments, and some species of the Family aren’t fully amphibians until later in life.
The Family’s culture is rich and diverse, mostly kept as an oral tradition remembered by the elders of each caravan, who lead and take decisions for it. Elders are typically shamans and druids, not necessarily as old as the title would imply. Occasionally, an elder leaves their apprenticeship before their twentieth year of life, much younger than most adults in their caravan. Elders seem to keep each other informed regularly, able to communicate between each other through magical means from one side of Ocaelum to the other.
Caravans themselves act as family units, with children being raised communally, and adults in general seeing each other as close relatives, akin to siblings for most cultures. Each has a name that their members use as a family name. People from different caravans still see each other as part of the same extended family, and “cousin” is a term they often use to describe that relationship, or even when talking to strangers outside of the Family.
Ancient Alliance
The Family was first formed out of two tribes and species banding together, quickly joined by a third. The Lutrives, Axoltians and Anurans. Lutrives are small otter-like people, but unlike their beastly kin can survive and thrive perfectly well without ever breathing air should they need to. Axoltians are tailed people that show a stunning array of colors, their name derived from the Axolotls found on some other planes, but sharing much less characteristics with them than Lutrives with more common otters. Anurans is the Ocealian name for Burrogs found on some other plane, closer to frogs than to any other species. Those three species together represent a majority of the Family, but there’s much more, some rarer, some represented in small numbers in many caravans.
From the original alliance, axoltians were meant to be the voice of the Family, the ones that bargained and discussed, and Lutrives their shield and arm in those negotiations. When Anurans joined, they brought in their magical and spiritual traditions, strengthening the Family. While nowadays the Family moved from those restrictions and centuries of communal upbringing have made sure every traveler has access to the same education should they wish it, there are still remains of those trends passed down through tradition and pride in their heritage.
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Among the other species of the Family, one can find Homarids, crustaceans with surprising dexterity considering their claws, Ghavaleks, crocodilian giants that tend to be at the forefront of the defense of the rare caravans they travel with, amphins, a species that share many traits with Axlotians but tend to be darker in colors and larger in build, even the occasional merfolk as some joined the Family or seeked asylum among them at points in time. Those are equipped with necessary knowledge and items to follow the caravan on land when need be. Similarly, exceedingly rarely, a human or elf is adopted into the Family. There's more, and the Family's traditions and tribes could certainly fill an entire other guide of its own, it's a subject as complex as navigating Vhigg'ithu society or avoiding to unknowingly enter a contest against a dwarf.
Many change caravans during the course of their life. From disagreement or for love found in another, from grief or from bonds. Babies and eggs are sometimes also exchanged or “sold” to another caravan to strengthen the bonds between the two or if the parent caravan think the other could take better care of the child. The transaction is more of a ritual custom than a sale. It is exceedingly rare that all the caravans meet, an event that can only be called in by agreement between elders from all of them and that has only occurred three times since the Family was founded, but it is very frequent that more than one caravan meet in a lifesphere, in the currents or in a tunnel of the core, which is where such exchanges typically occur. 
The Spirit Kindred
As an amalgam of so many traditions, the Family’s mythology is similarly fragmented. While most other factions defer to powerful entities that directly affect their world, the Family’s spiritualism is more personal and varied. There are hundreds of gods, elementals and concepts members of the Family worship, with overlapping domains, stories borrowing elements to each other, aliases for the same one and complex relationships with each other. They’re collectively known as Spirits, or as the Spirit Kindred. It is up to each member of the Family which few they dedicate themselves to, if any, though there tends to be some amount of consistency within the same caravan. 
If those spirits have any physical presence on Ocaelum is unknown, but their influence and the magic derived from them is undeniable. They’re the source of many superstitions in the Family, and some of those spread to other parts of Ocaelum. Most Spirits are loved but the respect towards some of them is also tinged with fear or apprehension. At the end of the day, though, the Spirit Kindred are called such because they’re understood to be members of the Family just like any other. They may oversee the entire wildlife of the plane, but they’re still a cousin or an aunt, and have as many responsibilities and bonds to people that worship them as anyone else travelling with them. 
The Family in the World
In just a few centuries, the Family has become an integral part of Ocaelum’s power structure. While they tend to stay neutral and don’t have any standing military other than the defense of each individual caravan, their services are invaluable enough that being excluded from them, or asked higher prices, is something even the Empire has learned to avoid. For the most part, they still occasionally try to enforce a “tax” on the Family, to disastrous results for both parties.
Collectively, their trade gives them better access to resources from the Core to the depths than any other faction, and that access is something they can provide to others. From selling unique oceanic materials to the Dwarves to being a supply of wood for the Empire, they can also easily travel between Spires from different Councils. Their most valuable service is probably in trading information, either carrying messages (physically or between elders) or speaking of what they’ve seen of the world. Much of the information gathered here is courtesy of their knowledge, cross-referenced with personal observations and discussions when possible.
A World to Explore
With that, the time to write this guide comes to an end. Hopefully, it should contain enough information for you to navigate your way through the many facets of Ocaelum, be you land-dweller or able to enjoy the expanse of Ocaelum’s waters. You’ll be able to discover more of this majestic and unique world by yourself, better than any of my words could do it justice. To close out, I’ll borrow a common blessing from the Family:
Safe travels and wonder!
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nellblazer · a year ago
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Fire & Gold - Chapter 5 (Thorin Oakenshield fic)
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Series Masterlist here
Summary:  You fall into the depths of the Misty Mountains, far away from the Company and you'll need to use your wits to escape
Warnings:  Claustrophobic situations, underwater peril
CHAPTER 5 - The Realm of the Goblin King
(Possible proof reading errors)
*Please do not replicate my work anywhere else without my express permission*
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We fell as one, rolling down a slope towards a set of bridges that spanned as far as I could see. I could barely focus as my world revolved and revolved until I came to a stop, half hanging off the wooden slats towards a throne containing the largest Goblin I had ever seen.
The rest of the Company managed to stay firmly around the dais but I couldn't see Bilbo anywhere. I struggled, trying to hook my leg up so I could climb to safety but a goblin approached me, sneering down at my efforts.
“Hmmm a band of dwarves and one human?” the large Goblin that I assumed was the king spoke.
“Pull her up!” Thorin demands, getting to his feet. “For Durin's sake! Pull her up!”
“I think not,” the Goblin King grins, his bulbous chin drawing up in glee. “Kill the pet human. You need to understand you are in my realm now.”
“RAVEN-BEARER!” I hear Thorin bellowing as my hands are stamped upon and I lose my grip, falling once more.
It's so fast that I barely have time to process it. I bounce off the rock, my skin bruising and then crash through bridge after bridge, wooden beams assaulting my back as I tumble further into the void beneath me. All I can hear is my own breathing, when the wind is knocked out of me, when I gasp for air and the steady panic of my heartbeat as I wonder if I'm about to die.
Down and down into the Misty Mountains I fall until the way narrows and I'm scraping my body as I plummet down a tunnel. With one final crack to my head, I lose consciousness and succumb to whatever fate may come for me.
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I awake with the sound of my blood pulsing in my ears and pressure in my face.
I think I'm hanging upside down and my hidden necklace, one of the last relics of the city of Fornost is hugging my cheeks as the pendant dangles in my eyes. Experimentally, I try to see around me but the gloom is impenetrable. Then I pull myself to whatever is keeping me from falling further and feel a net that my boot has gotten twisted in.
I have no way of knowing what's underneath me but I cannot stay like this. So I fish in my pouch carefully and drop one coin below me until I hear a splash that doesn't sound too far away.
Perhaps I am above a lake? Seemed deep enough from the reverberation to land into.
I make the decision to cut my leg free with the dagger in my belt and when I hit the water, I almost forget how to breathe. It's cold, a cold that reminds me of the Brandywine when I nearly plunged under the ice in my haste to flee.
There's searing pain in my knee when I try to swim, the injury aggravated from earlier but I make it to something that feels like land and haul myself out, trying to assess the damage. Thorin's strapping had taken the worst of the jolt to my joints but I needed a day or two to rest it. I would get no such rest here though if I wanted to stay alive.
My immediate problem was sight. I could not see my own hands down here and I was sure something unfriendly might find me if I lingered too long. I thought back to Radagast and his teachings on the nocturnal creatures of Middle Earth and attempted a very poor rendition of the Beast Tongue that catered towards them.
“If anything can light my way, please help me,” I tried to say.
When the darkness remained heavy on my eyes, I gave up hope, knowing I would have to blindly find my way out. All I had were my swords left to defend my body, the bow I had lovingly maintained all these years having splintered on the way down and the quiver dashed into pieces.
Then, all of sudden, a soft blue glow met my eyes and as one, a section of the cavern luminesced until I could see the underground lake and the jagged rocks I had barely missed as I dropped into the water.
“Thank you,” I told the glo-worms and then whatever creature resided in the water that had decided to light my way also. “Can you show me the way out? I'm lost.”
The wall moved, a slithering that started on the land and then dropped down towards the water. My heart clenched as the front of the mass of worms stopped just at the edge and the creature underneath became my lead.
“I'll have to dive?” I ask, trying to explain the concept by pointing at the lake.
“Yes. Under,” tiny voices call back. “Not far.”
I hoped they were right. I could only hold my breath for so long and I wasn't as small as a goblin.
Tentatively I got back in the freezing water and took several practising gulps of air before diving under. I still couldn't see what the creature was that was guiding me but I followed the pulsing blue light.
My fear was rising the longer it took and the way was getting smaller. I was able to push off the rocks with my hands and feet to give me extra speed but if it narrowed much more, I would be trapped and I could not go back in time to take a breath.
The need was consuming me, burning in my chest as I carried on, desperately praying that this was not a trick. I couldn't swim for much longer before I'd drown.
I had to put one hand over my mouth, pressing hard to stop me from giving into the urge to breathe and just at the point where I was getting dizzy, the light went upwards as the tunnel opened out and I kicked hard off the ground, swimming with all my remaining strength until my head broke the surface and I gulped sweet air down.
“Thank you,” I say to the creature.
“Too many rotten things fall in my lake,” it spoke back. “Don't want another thing to rot. Doesn't taste good.”
And with that it disappears back into the tunnel.
I can see a sliver of light ahead and I make my way towards it, climbing over rocks and squeezing through gaps. If I escaped, I never wished to see a set of caves again. Erebor had better not be this narrow.
Eventually I was coming to a crossed path, wondering where I should turn next when shouting caught my attention and I ducked behind a boulder, peering above. Was I ready to take on a goblin scouting party? I did not know. I felt vulnerable without my bow and my leg was protesting fiercely.
Then I heard Dori's voice followed by Bombur's bombastic tones as the Company sped past me going in the adjacent direction. I blinked and saw Gandalf with them again.
They were being chased by some goblins so I hung back until I could see no more bodies running by and took up my own chase. If Gandalf was with them, no doubt they would find the exit. The wizard never let himself be captured.
The light was getting brighter and brighter but the goblins were recoiling from it, too used to the dark and they were blocking my way. Five of them were in front but the width of the corridor meant only two could attack me at a time. I could fight my way out.
With stealth, I crept forward, sticking one from behind through the chest before withdrawing my sword and cutting the head off of the other one. Three were left and it was evident they did not spar well. I was soon surrounded by goblin corpses.
A noise from behind me made me whirl around, blade ready to attack. Had I been flanked?
“Raven-Eyed!” a familiar voice and a small pattering of feet.
“Bilbo!” I lean down and hug the hobbit to me, so grateful that he's alive. “What happened to you?”
“Rolled the wrong way. Ended up in the caves. What about you? You look like you've seen better days.”
“Rolled the wrong way. Ended up in a lake,” I laugh softly. “Come on before they realise we're escaping.”
So we leave the Misty Mountains together and out into the sparse woods in front of us. I'm limping heavily and I know he can see it but he doesn't comment, merely offers his shoulder to me to help me along.
“I thought I was going to die in there,” he admits. “I've never been that scared in my life.”
“But you made it through. You are the bravest of your kind I have ever heard of, Master Baggins.”
“Nice of you to say,” he looks up, smiling. “Seems wrong that I come away unscathed though and you're the most beaten up of the lot of us.”
“That is the ranger's duty. To put our body first before the evils of this world to protect those more important,” I say without thinking.
But the hobbits of the Shire must have been sheltered indeed to not recognise my words and, in its own way, that's what the Rangers of the North aspired to maintain; that the peoples of Eriador remain safe and unworried by what lies to the North. Bilbo showed no signs of understanding, only polite annoyance in his answer.
“Yes well, I think the human being our shield when this is a dwarven matter is just not on, frankly. Thorin should be doing more to protect you. You're the hunter after all for his stupid bloody stone.”
“And you're the burglar,” I give him a look. “And yet we are the two bringing up the rear.”
“What I wouldn't give for some ale in the Green Dragon right now,” he sighs.
“Anything warm would be pleasant for me.”
“Oh they do the most marvellous stews. Rabbit, deer....oh dear,” his stomach rumbles noisily. “I'd best stop talking about it.”
“Probably wise,” I chuckle. “I think I see them.”
The trees were becoming more dense but I could hear the sounds of an argument that got more clear as we approached.
“-how did you lose my hobbit and my hunter?!” Gandalf booms.
“They fell into the darkness!” Thorin argues back. “I tried to do something!”
“Well it wasn't enough! Two lives wasted for your quest, two important lives, Thorin.”
“You do not have to weigh me with guilt when I am already burdened with it,” the dwarven King's voice is cracking. “If I could go in their stead I would.”
“Your Company might be better for it. We must go before we are surrounded by scouting parties.”
“A few minutes more, please,” Thorin begs. “If they are still alive, we shall not abandon them.”
“Very well.”
“Apparently we're more liked than we thought,” Bilbo whispers to me.
“Never let them forget this moment if they're horrible to us in the future,” I whisper back.
“Oh I don't intend to,” the hobbit winks.
It was Kíli who spotted us first, rushing over to help me walk whilst shouting, “They're here! They're alive!”
As we came through the tree line, all the dwarves and Gandalf were on their feet. We were greeted with many smiles, many smiles except one.
Thorin was looking at me with an unreadable expression as Kíli aided my steps and then I was mobbed with dwarves embracing me, patting me on the back and shaking my hand.
“Kíli, don't mob the woman. Let her breathe,” Thorin barks and his nephew obeys. “Sit, Raven-Bearer.”
But I don't. I embrace Gandalf who grins warmly at me.
“Tell Radagast that his nocturnal cave beasts lessons came in handy.”
“Oh I am sure he will be delighted. I never could stay awake for those teachings myself,” Gandalf chuckles. “Welcome back, my hunter. Sturdier than most of your kind.”
“Raven-Bearer, sit down,” Thorin's order cuts through the levity.
It's harsh and authoritative, causing the entire Company to fall silent. I just stare at the King under the Mountain in surprise.
“Are you not happy to see me well, Thorin?” I can't help but ask.
“You are not well, Raven-Bearer. Your injury is worse. Sit down and I will do what I can but if you keep standing there, making it more unpleasant then I will make you sit down.”
“Try it,” the old hostility rises up.
“Stop fighting, the pair a' you,” Balin interjects. “The lass knows her limits and she's just thankful to be out in one piece. Don't give her a hard time.”
“I will give her as hard a time as I need to to ensure she is at her best. If she wishes to act like a child then I will treat her as one.”
“And if you wish to act like a tyrant, then we shall come to blows again,” I hiss back before the pain in my knee causes me to buckle.
I hit the ground, gasping and I'm expecting some barbed remark from Thorin but it doesn't come. Instead I'm lifted up and placed on a log by none other than the dwarven king himself.
“Listen to me,” he puts his hand on my cheek. “I am not saying these things to curtail your freedoms. I do this to help you.”
“You could at least be nicer about it,” I wince when he straightens my leg.
“I haven't the time for niceties,” he's pressing, waiting to hear when the pain is great before using the last of the bandages over my trousers to give more support. “This will not hold well but I shall save you your dignity. We shall have to carry on before we are surrounded. Can you manage until we are in safer territories?”
“I think so.”
“Then let us away. Dwalin, should the Raven-Bearer need assistance, give it. Keep her safe. No one left behind.”
“Understood,” Dwalin nods.
“Come on,” Bilbo lets me use him to help get myself to my feet before we set off once more.
I'm unsteady but managing. Thorin lingers until most of the Company is in front before speaking to me once more.
“Ranger, I did not mean to cause you ire,” he starts. “We were worried and you have taken many injuries within the Misty Mountains. Tell me what happened.”
“I fell,” I recount for him. “I fell until I hit my head and when I woke up, my bad leg was trapped in netting. I had to cut myself free and fall into a pitch black freezing cold lake and swim underwater to find the way out. I'm lucky I found Bilbo on the way. You did not seem concerned with finding him.”
“That is unfair!” he sounds offended. “I wanted to go back. I wanted to search but the others...a king's duty is to his people. If I were to die, they would never reach Erebor, never see their home again. Do not mistake my duty for choice, Raven-Bearer. Had I been free to make the decision, I would not have rested until I found you and Master Baggins. You have pledged me your lives on this quest and it is not something I take lightly. You have no loyalty to us but I have every loyalty to you.”
“Well....” I trail off, suddenly uncomfortable with looking at him directly. I change the subject instead. “I shall need that bow you promised after all. Mine was destroyed.”
“I'm sorry. It did look well crafted.”
“One more relic of Arthedain lost.”
“And yet I see another around your neck. It looks elven.”
“The Fire of Elros,” I pat the orange gem before tucking it into my tunic again. “I shouldn't even possess it, I'm not the direct heir but it was given down my line. It is supposed to contain one flicker of flame to aid a civilisation but I would have to break it to see if that is true.”
“Elros,” Thorin muses as we carry on towards the ridge. “The half elf?”
“Yes.”
“Elves and humans...”
“I imagine the idea is repulsive to dwarves.”
“Not at all,” Thorin surprises me with his answer. “It is the only way to make elves bearable.”
I stop, amazed he has made a joke before laughing and my weariness lifts a little as he smiles back. Then I stop again as I catch a scent on the air and I make the calling sound to Rathak, hoping he managed to escape the fall. I needed eyes that could roam farther than mine.
“There is danger?” Thorin's hand falls to his sword.
“I think so, I.....wargs!”
“RUN!” Thorin bellows at the others and within seconds the wargs and their riders are bearing down upon us.
We have nowhere to run to though. The cliff faces us and teeth face our backs.
“In the trees!” Gandalf yells, boosting some of the heavier dwarves into the branches.
As I'm climbing, my knee gives way and I slip, hitting the ground with a thud as all my companions make it to safety.
“Give me your hand!” Fíli extends his down but I brush it away. “What are you doing?! Take it!”
A pale orc is at the front of the pack, a blade forced through the stump of his arm as a rudimentary weapon. I had heard from Balin about him and what terror he had brought down upon the dwarves.
Azog the Defiler.
I chose in that moment not to try and save myself. Wargs I knew their weak spots. I could take maybe two, possibly three if I was agile enough still. That would give the others enough time to find another way to escape.
“RANGER!” Thorin calls as I ready my sword. “STOP!”
I do not know Orcish words but I know when I am being mocked. Azog laughs coldly and sends one of his other warg riders to go in for the easy kill. I wait and I wait until the last possible second then dive low, skidding along the ground as I open the warg up from throat to tail. Entrails spill over my legs but I get up, growling with the pain and finish off the surprised orc who's on their back underneath the lump of dead fur.
“I will not go easily into the night!” I scream at Azog whose grin had turned into a sneer of contempt.
Two wargs were approaching and I knew I couldn't use the same tactics again. I would have to think quickly.
Plumes of fire burst around me, driving the wargs back for a moment but one got through and I leapt to the side, pivoting on the balls of my feet to hammer my dagger into the warg's throat before pulling it out and throwing it at the rider where it lodged in his eye but he'd already swung a hammer at me, knocking me backwards and down, down into the path of the other warg.
Another maw was bared to me before clamping down on my arm. The leather of my vambraces was thick, tough and the teeth didn't penetrate but I was dragged and tossed until I was staring at the darkening sky, too winded to get up.
The paws approached, signalling the doom to come but other footsteps joined and Bilbo leapt from nowhere, sword held aloft to bury it within the warg's skull. Meanwhile Thorin cut the head off the rider and charged straight at Azog as Bilbo tried to pull me to safety behind the fire.
I watched as the dwarven king did a valiant effort to bring down The Defiler but the warg was quicker and Thorin was within its teeth, crying out with the pain as I heard something crack in his body.
“Help him,” I bid Bilbo. “I'll be alright.”
The hobbit rushes off with a bravery that I had always known he had, sword bared for another attack.
Dwalin had already climbed down, getting me by the scruff of the tunic and dragging me towards the trees. When I saw Thorin get thrown through the air, I tried to get to my feet as he was in danger again. He wasn't even moving from what I could tell.
“Let me go!” I fight with Dwalin, trying to get purchase. “He'll die if I don't go!”
“The king told me to keep you safe so I will keep you safe,” Dwalin growls at me, his grip getting firmer. “Even if we lose him. He was adament we do not abandon you again.”
But I keep struggling. In the end, Dwalin, Glóin and Bifur have to restrain me as some of the others rush in to help Thorin and only then do I submit, only then do I allow myself to sag in their grasp.
There's a caw from the trees and I look to see Rathak on the branch. He's babbling to me in earnest about the eagles that are coming, that we will be alright if we hold fast a little longer.
I glance up at Gandalf in the tree who just nods, knowing I understand what's about to happen.
In a blur of wings, we're snatched up in great talons or riding on feathered backs. All of us are being rescued by the Great Eagles and I feel myself close my eyes, take stock of my battered body and just relish the sensation of the winds around me.
I'm not sure whether I fell unconscious or slept but the next thing I knew, Gandalf was above me, chanting some words and I had a vile substance shoved under my nose to rouse me. My leg, as I soon noticed, was markedly better when I gained full awareness.
“Ah good, you're awake,” the wizard smiles. “You did give us quite the fright.”
“Is everyone alright?” I ask.
“Everything's fine, Master Hunter. We all made it out. In fact, I think someone wants to speak to you. He's already spoken to Master Baggins.”
He offers me his hand to pull me up and I see Bilbo, ash covered and drenched in sweat but well and hearty. He looks delighted for some reason.
Then the rest of the Company parts to allow Thorin to approach and Gandalf leaves my side to look over the others.
“Raven-Bearer,” Thorin is quiet, modest in his tone. “I never thought I would meet a human that is so utterly reckless, idiotic and stubborn-”
“-I think-” I'm about to be offended but he quells me with a hand.
“-But those are the qualities I possess also. Dwalin told me you fought him hard to try and save me and standing off against Azog alone to buy us time...I am forever humbled. The loyalty you have shown the dwarves of Erebor...we do not deserve it. The wounds you have taken for us...I can never express our gratitude. I am glad Gandalf led us to your door and I am honoured you are with us. You are truly one of us, as is Master Baggins. Dwalin is even prepared to call you dwarf sister without the beard requirements. I suppose what I am meaning to say is...thank you. Thank you.”
If ever there was a moment where Thorin would stun me into complete silence, it was when he threw his arms around me and embraced me for the first time. I did not know what to do but I embraced him back until he stepped away, the previous aggression gone to be replaced by warmth.
“Come, Raven-Bearer. See this sight,” he takes my hand and leads me to the edge before pointing to the distance where I see a peak on the horizon. “That, that is our destination.”
“The Lonely Mountain,” I murmur.
“Erebor.”
It takes a moment for him to realise he's still holding my hand and he withdraws it quickly, pointing again.
“We shall take back the mountain and you shall be a friend of Erebor, a trusted friend, welcome any time you please.”
“You really think we can do this?” I lower my voice so the others don't hear.
“I do,” he looks up at me, brows serious. “I have this gut feeling we shall be standing in the Great Hall as the song of the forges starts again and the singing of the mines will join that melody. Are you still with us, ranger?”
“I said until the end and I meant it, Thorin. Even if I die, I will get you to your home because one of us should have the chance to return.”
He smiles at me before looking out at the Lonely Mountain again and starts humming. Gradually the humming becomes words as I watch the same mountain with new determination.
“-Fiery mountain beneath the moon. The words unspoken, we'll be there soon. For home a song that echoes on and all who find us will know the tune....”
___________
Taglist:
@divadinag​ @saltwater-in-the-afternoon​ @daisychainsinknots​ (If I’ve missed anyone let me know. Tumblr is not showing me all notifications lately)
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author-morgan · a year ago
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Title: Golden Lionheart
Pairing: Fíli x fem!Reader
Rating: T
Summary: As it turns out, Fili is your lionheart. 
THORIN OAKENSHIELD HAD not fancied the idea of another member in the company after Gandalf forced the hobbit upon them as a burglar, especially one with even a hint of elven blood. He liked the exchanged looks between you and his eldest nephew even less. The wizard vouched for you and Balin quickly drafted up an additional contract before leaving Rivendell —not as in-depth as the one given to Bilbo Baggins but lengthy, nonetheless. You signed without a second thought. Besides Thorin and Dwalin, the company was affable —especially Fíli and Kíli. The two brothers had taken to you like hobbits to good pipe-weed and a warm hearth. Unsurprisingly, you had taken to them quickly too.
Four days of little rest since the Eagles carried the company to the Carrock was beginning to take its toll. Now several days ahead of Azog and his orc pack, Thorin stops along the banks of the mighty Anduin and calls for a night’s rest before continuing with the quest. Bombur and Bifur prepare a deer for the spit as the sun sinks below the tree line in the west.
You lean against Fíli as Óin tends the wound on your left forearm —a warg bite. The tonic the old healer pours of the punctures stings and burns, unwittingly you grip onto Fíli’s thigh. He takes your hand though, rubbing his thumb over your knuckles. Óin spreads a thick paste of wildflowers and herbs over your arm and rewraps it with a strip of dry linen. It would still be some time before you could wield both your blades concurrently.
Kíli settles next to the both of you, passing over a heavy skin of water. Fat sizzles in the flames as it renders from the deer, the scent sets everyone’s bellies off rumbling with hunger. Fíli shifts behind you, distracting himself by fiddling with your hair. His fingers are deft and careful as he works free a few of the knots. It’s only when he starts a braid that the company takes notice.
“Wait,” you start quietly, looking over your shoulder, “are you braiding my hair?” You had heard rumors of the significance of braiding among dwarven culture, most notably that it was a sign of courtship. Fíli only hums, continuing without a care in the world.
THE DAMP COLD of Laketown sinks into your bones, even in the warmth of the Lake Master’s residence. You sit up, glancing around at the snoring dwarves around you —they are unaffected by the chill in the air and by Bombur’s particularly loud snores. The only other person awake is Bilbo —the hobbit offers an apologetic smile. He knows the past weeks have been trying and a dragon still lies between the company and Erebor.  
It is no coincidence Fili is who is laying closest to you. You and the golden-haired dwarf had become incredibly close throughout the quest. In the Elvenking’s dungeon he had redone the braid in your hair, plaiting one behind your ear —this time he secured it in place with one of his wrought beads. A detail that had not gone unnoticed by his brother or uncle. A faint rush of heat rises to your cheeks as you recall how it felt to have his lips pressed against yours —the two braids of his mustache tickling your jaw.
You shift and the floorboard beneath you creaks. Fíli stirs awake just in time to see you shiver. “I’ll keep you warm,” he offers, voice a hoarse whisper —lips twisting into a playful smile. Pushing your excuse of bedroll closer to his, you lay back down and let Fíli wrap his arms around you, pressing your face into his warm chest. Soon, you entangle your legs with his desperate to feel his warmth and commit this moment to memory before the sun rises and you depart for the mountain. His lips brush against your temple and the strong, steady beat of his heart is a sweet lullaby.
WHEN THE BATTLE ends, you stand among scores of dead—orcs, men, elves, and dwarves from the Iron Hills– in the streets of Dale. Gandalf finds you and urges you to follow him to Ravenhill, where Thorin had led Fíli and Kíli with Dwalin to face Azog. You race ahead of the wizard, seeing Thorin standing over the corpse of the orc leader with Fíli and Kíli next to him. All three barely able to stand upright, with Dwalin still dispatching the straggling orcs.
Fíli stumbles to you with a lopsided smile. You skim his bloodied face —eyes tracing a cut on his forehead— for a moment before wrapping him tightly in your arms. “I’m not letting you go,” you breathe against his neck —he can feel the dampness of tears mixing with the drying blood. His arms tighten around you, he’s not going to let you go either. Over Fíli’s shoulder, you can see Thorin Oakenshield smiling, even as Kíli and Tauriel embrace on the frozen river.
By the day’s end, the infirmary is a mess of wounded men, elves, and dwarves. The woman and older children of Laketown scramble to collect clean water and fresh rags while the elves prepare poultices with stores of dried herbs and spices. In a small antechamber off the main infirmary, the Sons of Durin are surrounded by concerned friends. Save Thorin, Fíli, and Kíli the company had come away unscathed —only small scratches and bruises.
You sit next to Fíli, beginning to take in the nasty bruise on his ribs and the short, deep cuts on his sides where his mail coat had torn. He frowns —the beads in his mustache swaying as his lips twitch— noticing a patch of stained wool at the base of your neck. “You’re bleeding,” Fíli says, barely touching the slim cut but it had scabbed over before the battle ended.
“Very astute, my lion,” you remark, laughing softly while wringing out a cloth to wipe the blood from his side. Fíli wraps an arm around your waist —ignoring the jolt of pain in his side— drawing you closer. You know you should object, his wounds still need to be dressed, but his embrace is warm, and his dark blue eyes are clear —shining with unspoken adoration and love.
Fíli leans forward —just a little— and presses his lips against yours. You melt against him, fingers dropping the damp rag and slipping back into his dirtied golden hair. His kiss is slow and confident now that the battle is hard-won. He cradles the back of your head and when Fíli pulls back, he kisses your temple. You smile, knowing that now you are home.
@kvitravn and @vanillabeanlattes
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Text
Life After Death
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The world was falling rock, arcs of lightning, and searing flame, and then Gheli woke up screaming.
She realized she was back in Thunderhead Keep as her panic faded. The infirmary cot was a blessing to her aching limbs, and the cold mountain breeze was for once a welcome comfort. But the dwarven ruins were dark and lonely, far gloomier than they had been in the days leading up to the Kralkatorrik trap –
Falling rocks, lightning arcing through the caves…
The room erupted into noise as Bato stumbled in with a panicked expression. “Burn me, you’re finally awake.”
Gheli looked up at the charr. She was balancing against the leather privacy wall, a crutch half-forgotten in her other hand and her bandaged foot just barely touching the stone floor. More bandages covered her chest and arms, and despite her confusion Gheli noted this was the first time she had ever seen Bato in anything less than her full armor.
“You had us all worried,” Bato continued, hobbling to the side of the bed. “The medics had you in good hands, but you’ve been out for almost a week.”
“A week?” Gheli groaned. “No wonder I feel like I’ve got a brand crystal lodged in my skull – wait.” Her ears shot up as she looked back at Bato. “What happened? Where’s Feyn?”
Bato glanced outside the leather walls and sighed heavily. “Come on. Let’s take a walk.”
*~*
The solitary descent into the crumbled depths below Thunderhead Keep was only possible due to the efforts of the dredge of Refiner’s Joy. After the collapse that followed Kralkatorrik’s escape, dozens of soldiers had been trapped in scattered pockets under countless tons of rock. With the help of Varya’s people, the Pact had been able to mine access tunnels throughout the ruins of Thunderhead Keep, and by now the list of missing was down to a small, unfortunate few. The tunnel Bato and Gheli now used stuck out from the others, avoided by all for the painful reminder that laid within.
Bato stepped lightly around the scattered rubble and crystal shards, both for Gheli’s benefit as she rode in the crook of her arm, as well as to ease the pain in her own leg. The final corner revealed the site of the Pact’s final stand against the Kralkatorrik, where the combined efforts of Tyria’s best and brightest could not stop the might of an elder dragon gorged on magical energy.
There, illuminated by scattered torchlight, was Aurene, now propped up by brand crystals piercing her body in a dozen places, freezing her in a final moment of defiance against her grandfather, protecting the ones she loved most.
On the rock beneath her, Feyn laid on a dusty rug, curled into herself to fight the cavern’s chill. A scattered arrangement of pillows, tables and other amenities had found their way here, doubtlessly carried down by the other members of Dragon’s Watch, yet they sat seemingly unnoticed. A plate of long-cold food rested less than a foot away from the sylvari, who laid unnaturally still, here gaze laser focused on Aurene’s lifeless form.
Bato broke the silence with a polite cough. “Hey, Commander.”
Feyn stirred ever so slightly, but did not rise; Bato’s use of her title didn’t get the reaction she wanted. In the dim light Gheli noticed the ends of her leaf-like hair had begun to wilt, browning and curling at the edges.
“Gheli’s awake and well,” the charr continued, gingerly placing the asura down on her feet. “Gave us all a good scare but she’s out of the worst of it.”
“Hey, Feyn,” Gheli said softly, waving despite being unseen. “I’m so glad you’re safe.”
Silence penetrated the cavern before Bato spoke again. “We’re all still healing, but we’re doing what we can to keep moving. Nobody’s decided who has to bring the news to the capitals yet – I sure as hell don’t know what I would say to the Imperators back home. But there’s still plenty of talk about our next step. Gorrik’s tracker is still active, so we can still – ”
“What’s the point?”
Her voice had come so flat and quietly they almost didn’t recognize it. Feyn was still turned away from them, but the echoing cave ensured her words reached their ears.
“It’s over. There’s nothing left. Kralkatorrik’s won, and there’s nothing left to be done.”
“It’s not over,” Bato replied. “The Pact is still fighting. There’s still time to figure something out.”
Feyn stood up with a sudden fury and turned her bloodshot eyes towards the two. “Don’t you get it? It’s over! We lost! All the combined strength of Tyria wasn’t enough, all of our planning was for nothing, and now Aurene is DEAD and it’s all my fault!”
Her anger lingered in the chamber before her face fell once again as she slumped to the cave floor. “She’s dead because of me. Because I’m not strong enough, or fast enough, or smart enough. I never was.”
The sylvari turned away from the two of them as silence fell over them again. After a moment of uncertainty, Gheli took a step forward.
“Back when we all first met – back in Orr – it wasn’t long after…what happened with Sieran. And I just let all that anger and misery I was feeling take over me, to the point where I didn’t care if I lived or died as long as I could make Zhaitan feel even a fraction of my pain. But you, both of you, showed me another way. That I could turn that pain into something useful and keep her memory alive without hurting myself.” She stood tall and defiant, despite her pain. “If this really is the end, then I’m going to go out honoring her legacy – by fighting to the bitter end, just like she did.”
With a firm grip on her staff, Gheli turned and began the long track back out of the cave. Bato watched her leave before turning back to Feyn, still sat defeated on the cold rock.
“There’s something Zafirah mentioned to me a while back, while we were on the shooting range together. ‘Death is not death that breathes life into others.’” Bato kneeled down as close to her friend as she dared. “Aurene gave everything for you, for us. I don’t intend to waste it, and neither should you.”
She rose despite the searing pain in her leg and turned to follow Gheli, leaving Feyn alone once again in the cold dark, lost in her sorrow, in the shadow of the one she loved more than anything.
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lathalea · 7 months ago
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16 and 22 for ask game, please! 😊💖
Welcome to my salt mine @thespiritoflife *MWAHAHAHA* Thank you for your ask and I hope you won't regret my answers ;) And if you do, you know, there are plenty of pitchforks and torches, second isle on the left, here:
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16. If you could change anything in the show, what would you change?
Obviously I'd do a Everybody Lives, No One Dies ending! Ah, wait, it's the AU of 50% of my fics lol
The Hobbit is a decent trilogy that with some TLC, more creative freedom for PJ and more time (I'm looking at you, studios) would have been a great trilogy. Alas... So, what would I do differently? - Leave AUJ as it is, unchanged, it's a beauty - More dwarf scenes - Less stupid CGI "video game" scenes (hello goblin town), more character interactions - Where is my scene with Thorin reminiscing the past in Rivendell with Bilbo and the fireflies? - More dwarf scenes - More Fili and Kili interacting with Thorin - More dwarf scenes (and I mean all the Company members, there's tons of material there!) - Why did you remove that scene with Thranduil foreshadowing the ending, Peter? - More dwarf scenes - Less rubber CGI elves fighting with Orcs - More dwarf scenes - Less pointless Laketown scenes the Master, we get it, he's bad and gross - More dwarf scenes - NO ALFRID, Peter, you lost like 20 minutes of the movie on showing silly Alfrid dressed as a woman instead of focusing on the real protagonists: dwarves! - A fleshed out relationship between Thranduil and Legolas (showing more of the strained relationship and angsty past) - Have I mentioned more dwarf scenes? - More in-depth scenes in Erebor and all the dwarves actually reacting to dragon sickness, sad Balin and angry Dwalin is not enough - I demand that Bofur storyline, why was it cut? We were robbed of more Bofur and Bilbo time! - We didn't need those sandworms, Peter, it's not Dune, for Mahal's sake - I demand flashbacks from the past of Erebor and more dwarves - Where is Dis and more dwarf-women? - BOTFA could have been cut in half, and you could have used it for actually fleshing out Kiliel (or skipping the silly love triangle altogether), or anything that actually shows character development - and, last but not least, because I think I forgot to mention it before, MORE DWARF SCENES! Thank you.
22. Popular character you hate? To be honest, I should say that I don't hate any of the popular characters, all of them have their merits (and flaws). But this is a salty reply to a salty ask, so...
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Yes. Legolas. I hate what they did to him. And don't get me wrong - not the LOTR!Legolas, he was great there (besides, they're taking the hobbits to Isengard!), and Orlando Bloom is a wonderful actor, but the things the script and CGI did to this character in the Hobbit makes me a very sad puppy.
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(Here. Me as a sad puppy.) Instead of a noble elf, we got: - some kind of a rubber Terminator that defies 90% of the laws of physics (srsly, it's way beyond elven nimbleness), making his feats unbelievable, and Legolas tends to look 399447826572685 times more awesome than his own father, a great warrior with thousands of years of experience, - a killstealer who took care of most of the important baddies instead of the dwarves (may I remind you that many dwarven badass fighting, like the chariot scene w Balin and Dwalin, were cut for no reason), wasn't this movie about a hobbit and a bunch of dwarves and not a showcase of elven fighting? Besides, we got Thrandy as a comparison of how elven badassery should look like in a believable way. I really dislike the notion of Legolas being able to win BOTFA singlehandedly (because that's how it looked, sadly), - the cursed love triangle (I'm so sorry for Evangeline Lily, would it be that bad if Legolas and Tauriel were just friends? yes, male/female friendship exists, movie people!), it doesn't really add to the story, it's just a weak reason to make Legolas leave Mirkwood and showoff in every scene that should have been focused on more important things. And hey, I could totally buy a romantic/dramatic storyline between Legolas and Tauriel, but then Kiliel should go (sorry). Either focus on Taurgolas or Kiliel and flesh it out properly! I mean, imagine LOTR where the focus moves from Frodo to that mother n Rohan sending her kids away on a horse, and the battle of Helm's Deep is won because the boy turned out to be a great fighter all of a sudden and 1h of the movie was devoted to showing how awesome he was. It's cool, but it isn't the main focus of the story! That's it, hope you enjoyed my salty rants 💙💙💙 >>> Salty asks <<<
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shethereadinghobbit · 9 months ago
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Could you do a Thorin angst fic again? Maybe his wife or girlfriend who he betrayed cursed him to be a dragon or beast, while keeping his mentality, so he would kill his subjects and remember it. Maybe the said girlfriend/wife was a powerful witch, who in return of the power of cursing him had to give up something. Like blood, memories, voice or voice. I don't care how you end it. Thanks for your precious time!
A Heart for a Heart
Pairing: Thorin x fem!witch reader
Warnings: angst, blood, death (but it gets better, I promise)
Word Count: 2,097
A/N: Oh boy, this got pretty long. I seem to have gotten a little carried away, but it was fun! I hope this is what you imagined. Thanks for the request, enjoy!
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You lie awake in your chambers, the thought of pleasant, peaceful sleep evading you. Turning your head, you looked at the empty space beside you. Reaching out, you imagined your husband’s warm, comforting presence that once held you so close. Instead you were met with cold sheets and a painful longing that grew from the depths of your heart. 
For months, you spent your nights like this. Tossing and turning, hoping that Thorin would walk into the room and look upon you with his beautiful sapphire eyes. Sometimes you would sleep in his clothing, his earthy smell encasing you as you wept in agony. You’d been sleeping alone for too long. 
You sat up, thoughts buzzing in your mind. There has to be some way I can help him, you thought. Your eyes lit up as you reached over to your bedside table, picking up the thick, leatherbound journal you filled with spells over the years. You whispered something in a long-forgotten language as you opened the cover, the blank tea-stained pages suddenly filling with words and images.
Running your fingers along the rough pages, you searched for something that could aid Thorin from his succumbing to the dragon sickness. 
With some ideas in mind, you wrapped your thick robe around you, placing your feet in warm, fur-lined boots. For the first time in a long time, your broken heart warmed at the thought of your husband returning to you.
Making your way through the darkened passages of Erebor, you found yourself frozen in place outside of the Great Hall of Thráin, where Thorin had been lost to his obsession with gold. With a deep shaky breath, you entered the hall, taking the stairs down to the lowest level where the treasure was greedily hoarded.
Descending the steps, you treaded lightly, hoping you went unnoticed as you came upon Thorin. He was kneeling on the treasure, gold coins in his hands as he whispered something meant only for his ears. You stopped, watching him intently. Everything about him seemed different, but you hoped there was still a part of him that you would recognize. 
“Thorin?” You asked, your voice soft and unsure. 
It had been weeks since you last saw him, his poisoned heart spewing cruel words at you. As much as you tried pushing the memory out of your mind and telling yourself he didn’t mean it, they still stung. 
“Thorin?” You called, louder this time. Glittering coins shifted beneath him as he stood and turned to face you. His expression, sharp and twisted in the dimly lit space. In all the time you knew him, you had never seen him like this, even since the last time you visited his treasure hoard. 
“Leave me, wench!” He hissed, taking a step closer to you as his baritone voice echoed through the halls. 
“Please, I’m just trying to help,” you pleaded, standing firmly in place. A sickening laugh shook Thorin’s shoulders before he spoke again.
“Help? I don’t need help. You only came down here for yourself,” he spat loudly as he stormed towards you. “My gold is what you want-” he growled, his booming presence stood intimidatingly over you, “-I will not part with a single coin.” 
You looked up at him in defeat.
“Is that how little you think of me?” You huffed, betrayal spreading through your chest. “I don’t want your gold,” you barked, voice sharp as you spoke to the stranger before you, “I just want my husband back and for him to be the King we all once followed and admired.” Your face flushed red in anger at his accusations as your body began to tremble. 
“I think nothing of you. You’re just another greedy whore, coming to take what is rightfully mine!” He yelled to you, his hateful face grimacing at you. 
Your emotions took over when you spoke again, raising your voice at him.
“You’re a coward!” You wailed to him, your voice cracking with sadness. “You lock yourself away, buried in this cursed wealth, ignoring your duties, your family! Your people need you, I need you! I don’t recognize you anymore, Thorin!” Your knees felt weak at the words spewing from your mouth. “Have you no heart?” You cried out as hot tears streamed down your cheeks. You realized what you had lost, your ragged breath aching your chest.
“I am your King!” He bellowed, his anger barely restrained as he stepped closer to you, his balled-up fists shaking at his side.
“Not anymore,” you whispered, just loud enough for him to hear you. 
“Get out of my sight!” he yelled, his arms waving you off before readjusting his unworthy crown. 
You thought back to your enchanted book. His words cut deep, scarring your heart. You knew what you had to do. You approached Thorin, placing both hands firmly on his chest.
“You are no longer a king,” you cried, sadness and anger swirling through your body. “If your heart is to be changed by this gold, so may you. I’m sorry it’s come to this.”
Struggling to keep your hands to his chest, you chanted ancient words as the air around you began to shift. Thorin cried out, kneeling to the floor as he held onto your wrists. His body shook before you, shadows casting darkness over his changing figure. 
You pictured the page in your mind, a curse you hoped would help him understand what he’d become. Hands gripping into his chest, you recalled a line from the text, “such power demands sacrifice.”
“A heart for a heart,” you whispered to yourself, bracing for what was to come.
Crying, you brought one of your hands to your chest, clawing against your heart. You spoke more enchanted words as you felt yourself slipping away. Clasping onto a red ball of energy from your chest, you spoke to Thorin once more.
“May this curse help you realize what you’ve done,” you shouted, over the wind swirling around you. Tears stung your eyes as you pushed the red energy into his chest. Chanting again to complete the spell, you felt a dense void grow in your body. The room around you went dark as you fell to the floor, barely catching yourself. 
As the dim candle light returned to the room, you looked up from the floor to see an unfamiliar figure rise. His crooked back and scaly, spiked extremities made you shiver. 
You got up, the back of your hands wiping your wet, swollen cheeks. You took a deep breath in, quickly ascending the stairs to leave the horrid room behind. You felt hollow as you approached the doors, opening them slowly. As you were about to exit, you heard an agonizing yell from the depths of the room. You slammed the door shut, leaning against it as you held your heavy head in your hands.
-
A month later, you still woke up to an empty bed. You knew you should feel sad and hurt, but it seemed like you stopped feeling anything at all. Just a hollow shell of who you used to be. You went through the motions of the days, helping Erebor to run smoothly in the King’s absence. 
Fíli acted as interim King, guided by you and Balin to keep the Lonely Mountain afloat. They had seen you leave the Great Hall of Thráin weeks before, but they never asked about it. They, too, had heard the King’s agony. Aware of your power, they thought it best to let you deal with Thorin yourself. 
As the days passed, you eyed the doors to the halls filled with gold. In your thoughts, you pictured Thorin walking out, embracing you. But in your heart, you felt nothing, not even the life beating inside you. You sighed, looking to the floor as you continued on your way.
-
One evening, many nights later, you were awoken by the guard stationed outside your chambers. 
“My Queen,” he said, his voice shaking. He said no more, but from the panic in his eyes and his pale features, you knew something was wrong. Dressing yourself, you followed him to the mighty doors you had entered once before. There, three more guards were waiting, the same frightened expression on their faces. 
The guard who led you there finally spoke. 
“There were two men supposed to be stationed here…we haven’t seen them all night,” You looked at the guards, their once stoic presence now resembling that of a little boy who lost his mother in a crowd. 
You looked at the stone doors before you, noticing one slightly opened. Your eyes widened as you pushed the doors open, terrible thoughts clouding your mind. You turned around, facing the guards.
“Stay here,” you commanded. “Do not enter this hall under any circumstances.” You searched their eyes once more, flashing them a weak smile as you closed the doors behind you, quickly making your way down the lengthy stairs. 
You moved quietly, hoping you would find nothing down there. As you inched towards the gold, you saw a figure laying face down on the floor. You noticed its dwarven shape and ran over to it. Your brows furrowed at the sight of a familiar uniform. Turning him over, you gasped. 
His face was clawed to shreds, barely recognizable as a once living being. Nausea overcame you at the sight of blood pooling around his head. You raised your arms to your face, a familiar red staining your hands and clothing. Your body shook as you felt a flicker of something deep within your chest. 
Backing away from the ravaged guard, you stumbled into someone else. Tripping over a twisted and likely broken leg, you came face to face with the other guard. His face perfectly intact, you stared into his glossy eyes, hurriedly removing yourself from atop his ripped open abdomen. His blood seeping into your nightgown, you stood up. Your breathing came in ragged, shaky breaths as you heard stomping footsteps behind you. 
You froze, unable to move from the eyes of the terrifying presence behind you. A clawed, scaly arm reached out, violently turning you around. Face to face with what was once Thorin Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain, you trembled at the sight of his face, horrid thoughts running through your mind. 
Looking up, your teary eyes were met with yellow ones. Their gaze bored into your soul, arm still gripping you tightly. You tried to speak, but nothing came out of your mouth. The piercing eyes searched your body, like a predator hunting its prey. 
The yellow eyes followed the trail of blood on you, inhaling deeply at the metallic smell. You closed your eyes, knowing this was the end. 
After a few moments, the grip on your arm loosened, your wrist falling to your side. Shaking, you opened your eyes to face the cruel beast before you. You gasped, a trembling hand covering your mouth. 
There was no monster. No dragon-like creature to be found in these shining halls. Instead you were met with the shivering body of someone you knew so well, your sweet Thorin Oakenshield.
His bright blue eyes filled with tears as he stared down at you. You reached for his hand, but he quickly pulled away.
“Thorin,” you whispered weakly, barely able to contain yourself.
“I’m sorry…” he said before collapsing to the ground, crying. You moved closer to him, but he still avoided your touch. “I’ve hurt you,” he whimpered, pain in his eyes as he looked at your blood soaked body. You followed his eyes, finally realizing his worry.
“It’s not mine,” you said, gently patting yourself to show you weren’t injured. He stared at you for a moment and breathed a heavy sigh of relief as you ran over to him, finally holding him close after so long without his touch. His strong arms curved around your body, squeezing you tight as he nuzzled his face into your neck. Hugging him back, you felt a gentle warmth grow between the two of you. In a sudden red flash of light, the room lit up.
You breathed slowly as you were blinded by the light. You felt a familiar weight in your chest as you heard your heart beat for the first time in months. You collapsed into your husband’s arms, all your emotions rushing back to you. You sobbed violently as you held Thorin in your arms, his familiar scent filling your nose as his warm fingers gently stroked your back. 
You finally had your husband back, both of your hearts beating as one.
Everything Taglist: @fizzyxcustard @laurfilijames @blogoftheassgoblin @imnotevenhere9
Let me know if you want to be added to the taglist!
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bace-jeleren · 3 months ago
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1 and 18 for Malmatiir (this is @leafdrake-haven) :D
1: List five basic facts about your OC.
Malmatiir is almost 200 years old, which, as far as dwarven lifespans on his homeplane, Cirn, go, is close to middle aged.
Malmatiir is gay, and prefers men who are passionate and kind. He also doesn't really like Top/Bottom dynamics, and rathers him and whoever his partner may be to have equal amounts of power in and out of the bedroom.
Malmatiir is a highly-respected blacksmith, who specializes is making all manner of weapons. His magic allows him to look into someone's heart and make them the perfect weapon that suits them completely.
Malmatiir lost his right eye as a young man, during a trip deep into the depths of the underground searching for materials. Him and the mining party he was with were attacked by a dragon, who clawed out his eye before dragging him down into the underground sea where it lived. This was also the incident that ignited his spark.
Malmatiir can hold his liquor better than anyone he had ever met. People have tried to out-drink him, but they have all failed.
18: What is your OC's dream job?
Malmatiir already has his dream job, as an established weaponsmith. When he grows old enough to retire, though, he wants to open a pub somewhere, but that's hundreds of years off.
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ageofdragon · a year ago
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The Next Dragon Age, Analysis #2
Analysis #1 Skeletor
This is where I wanted to start, from the beginning of the video when the first Concepts flash across the screen. There is so much that makes me giddy in these videos, bits and pieces of a whole game that isn’t yet finalized. But the feel, the aesthetic and vision is there.
After hearing from several of the leading developers (all developers, working hard on this game will be listed in a post just for them eventually) on how they want to innovate and create a whole new experience; the first shot we get shown seems to be that of a villa on a bay.
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I kind of went back and forth on this, once seeing it. The spires all around this area are quite Tevinter in make, most sharp and tall. The rounded ones could be taken as Byzantine influence, which some of Tevinter has been crafted after. Looking at it as a whole though, the feel is just a bit off. It almost has an Orlesian twist, possibly Especially when compared to later Concepts of what I truly believe to be Tevinter. Though it can be said Tevinter is a pointier Orlais.
I ultimately decided this is either a Tevinter environment OR a Nevarran one. Nevarra is the between of Tevinter and Orlais, as well as the Free Marches. Much of it is ports too, so it’s just as possible as Tevinter itself.
The next image was that of a giant underground door or entrance.
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It reminded me of two things. The first was the door to a major Dwarven City, much like the one all the way back in Origins; when you first enter Orzammar. This one however, seems isolated, desolate, maybe even abandoned. All of which, could be used to described the actually, very much alive Dwarven city of Kal Sharok. A city so silent and isolated, they were believed dead for decades; after being left to their own devices and the Darkspawn.
This also reminded me of the Solasan Temple and the entrance that only open as crystals or keys were placed. Sealing away something rather than being an entrance to come and go from.
I would definitely think it a Thaig of some sort, given the size and depth of the room. Even if it isn’t Kal Sharok. Orzammar left many dwarven settlements to the Darkspawn’s army, there’s no telling which this could be.
The last picture I want to discuss, goes back to the a port city or town. It seems to be the same one as before.
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This has a different look though and while I was willing to call it Tevinter or Nevarra before; I really, REALLY have to question if it’s not possibly Antiva as well. Where they are known for having leveled towns with spires at the top level. Usually for their larger and more important building that are higher up in the cities. There is a very subtle, Venetian Gothic architecture, but not enough for me to confidently call it Antiva. This certainly makes me lean more towards Nevarra than Tevinter though, if not the third option.
I can’t wait to see what others think of this and really know what it is, in the end.
There was also another Concept Art in this group of pictures, but I’ll leave that to its own post. There is just too much going on it it, for me to place it here. So that’ll be the next analysis! 
tldr; We are definitely in Northern Thedas, I just can’t say how much of it we’ll get to explore. Here’s hoping it’s from the deserts of the Anderfels, to the depths of Kal Sharok, to the shores of Antiva!
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drabbles-by-a-dreamer · 8 months ago
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Thorin Oneshot Sneak Peek
Touch
Thorin x Reader
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Thorin was ecstatic. The progress that Erebor had grown through in the last few months after the BotFA was enormous. So many things had been done to help restore the prosperous kingdom back to its former glory. The entrance to the mountain had been completely rebuilt, all the damage from Smaug was under construction, the dwarves captured and left to die in the mountain after the dragon attack had finally been put to rest, and now the kingdom was beginning to resume it’s relations with the kingdoms of Dale (formerly Laketown), Rivendell, and even Mirkwood. The kingdom was looking forward to an era of good tidings.
In light of all the darkness that everyone had suffered, Thorin decided to throw a ball in honor of Erebor and its citizens and allies. The ball was to be held in the newly finished Great Hall in the Lonely Mountain. The newly crowned King Bard was to be there as well as King Thranduil and some elves from Mirkwood. The relations between the dwarves and elves had grown better after the beginning of the courtship of Kili and Tauriel. There was a lot to celebrate tonight.
Y/N was a dwarven lass who had been part of Thorin’s company. You were in trade only a teacher, but begged to help reclaim the homeland of her kin. Only because of your skill with blades and daggers, were you allowed to join the quest.
Y/N was different from most dwarf women. You were only half dwarf, giving you mostly human features from your mother while getting the stubbornness and height of dwarves from your father. You grew up learning both the customs of dwarves and of men, which is what inspired you to teach others of the things you had learned. 
While you had many friends because of your kindness and generosity, you felt like an outcast most times. Growing up, your mother always hugged you and told you she loved you. Your entire family did, you were loved dearly and it meant more than you could express. However, you learned very quickly that you were different in how you expressed it. Instead of hugs or touches, you would pick up a book for your brother while you were at the market. Instead of I love you’s, you would do a chore for your sister so she could finish making a fancy dress. Rarely would you say something in return or return that physical affection. While you knew the depth of your affections, many were blind to it. Even your parents. They would shout at you, “Why are you so selfish?!”, “Do you just not care?”, “What is wrong with you?”, “Do you think that you are too good for us?”
You were beyond confused at their anger towards you. You tried to explain but the words just wouldn’t come out. You don’t understand even to this day what you had done to hurt them. They kicked you out claiming that you were a heartless monster who didn’t love anyone. But once you were kicked out, you moved to the Blue Mountains and there is where you met Thorin Oakenshield and learned of his plans to reclaim Erebor and your life changed forever.
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Full version will be posted later. I wanted to see what everyone thought about this short teaser into one that I wrote. Please comment and tell me what you think about it so far! And thank you for the love I have already received when deciding what to do in this area!
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sinsbymanka · 7 months ago
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Inquisitor as a Companion: Maria Cadash
@little-lightning-lavellan started this amazing trend and I have gratuitously stolen the template from them. I finished this up this morning as a good distraction for not feeling well! 
Is your OC a Companion in the Dragon Age series? What would it be like for a player to select them to join their party for quests (or romance them, perhaps? 👀)
You have selected Maria to join your party! (art made by   @lavellanvibes)
Race: Dwarf 
Affiliation: Carta 
Gender: Female
Class: Rogue/Archer
Specialization: Assassin 
Background
Maria was born in 9:11 Dragon, the eldest daughter of Roland and Meera Cadash. She has a sister who is two years younger than her - Beatrix Cadash. When Maria was four, her mother died in a Carta mission gone wrong. Her father had been in line to take over the Carta, but fell apart after the death of his wife. He seems to have spent the next ten years in a bottle, but Maria rarely says anything negative about him. 
Most of Maria’s childhood was spent in the care of her grandmother, the indomitable Zarra Cadash. Although funds were frequently tight, Zarra did her best to raise her granddaughters with a sense of dwarven pride. Maria is well aware of the history of House Cadash, the abandonment of her family and thaig by Ozammar, and the fate of most of her Ancestors. Her grandmother is very traditional and while Maria may jokingly laugh at most of her traditions, she still studiously carries them out. 
Maria quickly became her own rising star in the Carta, known for her quick wit, sound mind, and deadly aim. However, she met and fell in love with the son of a prominent Merchant’s Guild member when she was 20 years old - Fynn Dunhark. After a whirlwind romance, Maria abandoned Ostwick, the Carta, and her family to start a new life with Fynn in Hercinia. Zarra disapproved completely - expressing much distrust of the Guild. Although Maria wanted Bea to accompany her, Bea refused because she too was doing well for herself in the Carta.
One year after their elopement, assassins hired by Fynn’s father tracked the couple to Hercinia. They had been hired to kill Maria, but Fynn died at their hands instead and Maria was captured. The assassins, knowing they wouldn’t recoup the other half of their payment from Fynn’s father, ransomed Maria back to the Carta. To raise the money, Bea Cadash made an unsavory alliance with a very distant cousin of their, Dwyka Cadash (also known as the Dasher) who had been “sweet” on Maria before her elopement. 
Bea Cadash helped Dwyka assume control of the Ostwick Carta and Maria came back to her family a broken hearted woman. She resumed her place in the Carta and, eventually, rumors began to grow that she had entered into a relationship with Dasher himself. Fynn Dunhark’s father committed suicide after the failed assassination attempt. 
Maria spent the next several years in the Ostwick Carta. She’s perhaps one of the best smugglers the Carta has ever seen and has a very in depth knowledge of the way most criminal networks in Thedas operate and a firm grasp of the lyrium trade. Although she seems to have no actual power within the Carta to make decisions, she’s widely respected by her fellows and it’s roundly acknowledged the whole thing would fall to shambles without her steady hand. She’s got a long history of handling the most difficult smuggling jobs herself. Much to her detriment when she’s sent to Southern Thedas to supply the templars and mages in the middle of a war. 
Involvement
Maria Cadash can be found at the Storm Coast as soon as the area opens up for exploration. Scout Harding will offer in her report a quest called “Signs of Carta Smuggling” which leads to a hidden cove in the map and a pitched battle between Maria, several templars, and several mages. After dispatching the enemies, Maria can be engaged in conversation. She reveals she was selling lyrium for the Carta, but one of her crew messed up and gave both sides of the dispute the same time and location to meet. Further questioning seems to reveal that Maria was charging the mages less than the templars, when pressed she says it’s because they don’t have as much money. If Varric or Bull are in the party they will both shrewdly interject that she’s a liar. 
Maria will talk about the smuggling operation and the Inquisitor has the opportunity to recruit her by asking the Ostwick Carta to supply the Inquisition with lyrium. Maria says she’s got other skills than smuggling, opening up her availability as a party member. 
When at Haven, she can be found at the archery targets. Once the Inquisition relocates to Skyhold, she spends her time on the battlements near the tavern. When asked why she’s always up there, she jokes that she likes to be tall. 
Approval and Romance
Maria can be romanced by an Inquisitor of any race or gender, but the romance is not locked in or consummated for most of the game. Maria is slow to trust or return the Inquisitor’s affection and doesn’t respond well to being pushed for more before she’s ready. 
She slightly favors the mages over the templars, but much like Varric, tends to look at individuals instead of groups. She approves of acts of kindness and charity, an Inquisitor that jokes with her and others, and actions that favor the oppressed. She disapproves of most things done just to appease nobles, acts that hurt others, and acts that side with who she sees as an oppressor. She also, interestingly, disapproves of executing most prisoners. The sole exception is Erimond, where her approval is guaranteed but the amount of approval is contingent on whether or not Hawke is left in the Fade. 
If Maria isn’t romanced by the Inquisitor, she can end up in a romance with Varric Tethras, but it does require some work on the Inquisitor’s part to move beyond flirtation in game banter. This sequence of quests involve Maria’s companion quest and Varric’s. They can be obtained post-Adamant and done in any order. 
If Solas and Maria are not romanced by the Inquisitor, in game banter seems to reveal that many companions believe Solas has a crush on Maria Cadash. This includes Varric, who oddly seems to not mind even if he is in a relationship with Maria. Despite this banter, there is no way to cause a relationship between Solas and Maria. 
Companion Quests
If Hawke survives the Fade:
The Inquisitor, when saying goodbye to Hawke, witnesses Hawke’s goodbye to Varric. If Maria and Varric have been in the party together often enough to start their flirting dialogues, the camera will show Maria approaching and Hawke will cryptically tell Varric that there is “Always time to start a new story.” The Inquisitor has the option to wave Maria over to say goodbye to Hawke as well. If she’s invited into the conversation, Maria will jokingly tell Hawke she’ll keep Varric in trouble. Hawke seems to approve of this. 
If Hawke is left in the Fade: 
Upon approaching Varric in Skyhold, Varric will talk about how he misses Hawke. If Maria and Varric have been in the party together often enough to start their flirting dialogues, the camera will show Maria approaching. The Inquisitor has the option to wave her over. If she’s invited into the conversation, Maria will ask Varric how long he’s been writing letters. When he says he’s done Maria says she’ll use her smuggling contacts to get them where they need to go and that he needs to sleep. Varric allows himself to be sent to bed. 
Varric’s Quest in Vallamar: 
When Bianca Davri is in Skyhold, Maria will shift locations. She will move from the battlements and into the upper floor of the tavern near Cole. Cole’s ambient dialogue will reveal that she is unhappy with Bianca’s presence. If Maria is brought along to Vallamar, she disapproves. During the quest she frequently interjects into Varric and Bianca’s fond memories dialogue. After the second time this happens, Bianca will begin to ask intrusive questions about Maria. Whoever the third companion is will ask the Inquisitor if they’re happy with their choices for this party. 
Maria becomes angry at Bianca during the culmination of the Vallamar quest. She will ask the other woman how many people she’s hurt to answer a question. Bianca will ask Maria how many people she’s hurt on the Dasher’s behalf. If this quest is done before Maria’s, the Inquisitor will have the opportunity to ask Maria about the Dasher. Regardless of the dialogue exploration, Bianca will eventually reveal that she knows Maria is in a relationship with the Dasher. 
If Maria’s companion quest has been completed, the Inquisitor can refute that, but Maria will disapprove of any dialogue options beyond “That’s not your business,” which gathers great approval. Varric will attempt to interject and calm the situation, but Maria will turn on him and ask him how long he intends on living in his fantasy world or if he’s ever going to grow up. This is the same conversation you can witness at Skyhold post-completion if Maria was not brought along. Either way, Maria storms off. It is revealed that she has left the party (in Vallamar) or Skyhold. She is unavailable to be selected as a companion until the Inquisitor leaves the area and then returns to Skyhold. 
If you have Solas in the party while Maria is missing, he will reveal he wishes he could find her in the Fade, but he cannot, and that he is worried about her. If this takes place after the quest with Wisdom is completed, the Inquisitor may point out Solas is getting a taste of his own medicine. 
The Inquisitor may choose to ask Maria where she was when she returns. If she is asked, Maria will reveal she was almost back to Ostwick before she realized clan Davri had hired assassins to kill Varric. If the Inquisitor asks where the assassins are, Maria says they’re not a problem anymore. Further questioning reveals Maria has not spoken to Varric about what happened and they both seem to have just made up their mind to never mention it again. 
To trigger Maria and Varric’s romance, the Inquisitor must tell Varric that Maria came back to take care of the assassins sent after him. Varric laughs off the assassins, saying he’s dealt with them before, but seems touched that Maria came back to handle them. His dialogue ends with him being thoughtful and murmuring that maybe he hasn’t fucked up. 
Maria’s Carta Problems: 
Maria will mention she’s got unfinished business with the Carta and ask for the Inquisitor’s help. If the Inquisitor agrees to help, no questions asked, Maria greatly approves. If the Inquisitor questions her, she seems exasperated, but does not disapprove. 
Maria reveals that the Dasher has information about her family which means Maria can never leave the Carta. The Inquisitor can ask Maria if she wants to leave and Maria indicates she doesn’t know, but she wants to have the choice, and no matter what happens she can’t go back to Dasher’s Carta. When questioned about the Dasher, Maria will reveal his identity and discuss his cruelty and stupidity with business. At this point in time, the Inquisitor can ask about rumors linking Maria and Dwyka romantically. Maria will say it’s not like that and ask you to trust her. If you say you do, she will greatly approve. 
Maria says she’s heard Dwyka is in Ferelden looking for her to bring her back to Ostwick. Maria wants to find him first. The Inquisitor must track down information on Carta operations. When Leliana is asked she recommends Varric’s own Carta connections as the best route. The Inquisitor can ask Varric to look into it, which he does gladly after surmising it’s for Maria. He does warn the Inquisitor Maria probably didn’t want him knowing what she’s doing. 
After speaking to Varric, a mission opens at the War Table. Upon completion of this mission, Maria can be taken to a spot on the map near the Storm Coast. Exploration  of the map reveals that Dwyka is dealing in red lyrium. When confronted by the Inquisitor and Maria, Dwyka taunts Maria that she’ll never get away from him. This cues a battle. 
After the enemies are defeated, a final cut scene shows Maria firing an arrow into Dwyka’s throat and then standing over him as he dies. She tells him he will never hurt her or her family again, and that they’ll all forget he even existed. If Solas or Varric are in the party, one or both will comment that Dwyka got off too easily. Despite their victory, Maria seems exhausted. The Inquisitor can ask what was between her and Dwyka and Maria will confess that her sister murder Fynn Dunhark’s father after the failed assassination attempt and Dwyka had evidence that would see her family wiped out by the Merchant’s Guild for killing one of their own. He used that knowledge to blackmail Maria and Bea into working for him. She can be pressed further by an Inquisitor asking if all she did was work for him. She’ll admit that’s not all, but she never loved Dwyka, she was trapped. 
If Varric is in the party, he’ll reluctantly confirm the Guild has organized to purge troublesome Carta families before. Maria will bitterly state that the Guild can’t survive without the Carta - they do the jobs “respectable” dwarves won’t do and nobody blinks at their deaths. Varric tries to protest and she pointedly asks him how many Carta members Hawke wiped out in Kirkwall. Varric says that isn’t fair and Maria responds that life isn’t fair. Then she says they should go. 
After this quest, the Inquisitor has the option to inform Maria that Varric helped find the information that led to Dwyka. Maria says she should be angry at the Inquisitor for involving him, but then admits Varric isn’t a bad sort. She says “If things were different…” and then trails off before saying she’ll have to find some way to thank him.
This is also the trigger for Maria’s romance. The Inquisitor has the opportunity to tell her that when she’s ready, they’d love to get to know her better. Maria says she needs time, and if the Inquisitor says she can have as much time as she needs then Maria is on a romance path. 
Helping Cole: 
After both quests have been completed, if Maria and Varric have started flirting in party banter, and Maria was invited to the conversation post-Adamant, the following events can occur after the next storyline quest but before Trespasser DLC is started: 
Cole will come to the Inquisitor and ask for help. He’ll reveal that Maria and Varric are in love with each other but they won’t talk. This starts a complicated chain of events where the Inquisitor and Cole attempt to force Maria and Varric to talk about their feelings. 
A game of truth or dare in the Tavern where Maria and Varric keep doing increasingly bold dares to avoid picking truth. The Inquisitor can dare them to kiss, and they will, but they’ll break away quickly and end the game. 
The Inquisitor can start a bookclub and pick one of Varric’s romances. Cassandra is overjoyed, but Maria spends most of the book club needling Varric mercilessly and Varric doing dramatic readings in silly voices to make her laugh. Cassandra eventually kicks both Maria and Varric out of the book club. 
Finally, Cole and the Inquisitor cause an “accident” where Maria and Varric are trapped alone in the undercroft by a magical artifact Dagna was studying that creates a barrier. The Inquisitor says she will go get a mage to undo it and leaves. When the Inquisitor returns, several hours later, she interrupts Varric and Maria cuddling and looking out over the mountains. This locks in their romance. If Solas is still with the Inquisition, he will be the mage that undoes the barrier. He will say he is very happy for Maria and Varric before quickly leaving. If Solas is in a romance with the Inquisitor or already gone, Dorian will undo the barrier and say “It’s about time.”
If the Inquisitor is romancing Maria themselves, they will skip right to the end of this quest before the Arbor Wilds and end up locked in the Undercroft with Maria because of Cole’s “help”. Maria will confess her feelings and thank the Inquisitor for being patient. She’ll say they have lots of time before Cole gets help and ask what the Inquisitor would like to do. The Inquisitor may choose to talk or consummate the relationship, Maria will approve of either and the relationship will be locked in. Solas will retrieve them after a good amount of time and state he is glad they found happiness eventually. 
Trespasser
If Maria was romanced by the Inquisitor: 
She can be found in the gardens and it is revealed she has continued to work for the Inquisition. The Inquisitor can ask Maria to marry them and Maria confesses she thought she’d never get married again and it would feel like a betrayal. The Inquisitor can say Fynn would want Maria to be happy and Maria will say that they’re right, but she needs some time. After the first foray into the Crossroads, Maria can be approached again and will say yes. This cues a private marriage ceremony. 
As the anchor worsens, Maria begs the Inquisitor not to leave her and says she can’t bear to be left alone again. The Inquisitor can promise to keep fighting or offer Maria comfort. The epilogue reveals a romanced Maria and the Inquisitor finally go visit Maria’s family in Ostwick and that Maria reforms the Ostwick Carta as a shadow organization to serve the Inquisitor in their quest to stop Solas (which she greatly approves of) or redeem Solas (which she’s much more wary of.) 
If Maria and Varric started a romance: 
Maria can be found near Varric at the fountain and will reveal that she’s been in Kirkwall helping Varric. Bran will interrupt your first conversation by calling her “My lady, the Viscount’s Mistress,” which will cue a small meltdown from Maria. She tells the Inquisitor to ignore Bran. If asked, Maria will reveal there’s apparently a special title for the person fucking the Viscount in Kirkwall. She’s unhappy about it. She’ll also talk about how her family has moved to Kikwall and that Varric is having a hell of a time dealing with her sister and grandmother. 
Varric, while giving the Inquisitor their estate in Kirkwall, will say that Maria would love to have a friend in the city that doesn’t call her the Viscount’s Mistress. And then will advise the Inquisitor to never ever call Maria that if they know what’s good for them. The Inquisitor can ask Varric why they’re not married if she hates being his mistress so much. Varric simply sighs and says it’s complicated, but that they’re happy and he wouldn’t trade it for the world. 
An Elven servant brings the Inquisitor a note after the first foray into the Crossroads. This note reveals Maria is expecting a child. The next time the Inquisitor speaks to Maria, they’ll confront her with this information. Maria will attempt to deny it, then reveal the truth. She’s unsure how anyone would know since Varric doesn’t even know, the only people who do are her grandmother and sister. She’s not far along and wants to continue to fight. The Inquisitor can choose to allow this. If they do, Varric disapproves and Maria approves. If they do not, Maria disapproves and Varric approves. Maria is also removed as a party member the rest of the game, although she can still be spoken to. 
Either way, after the second foray into the Crossroads Maria will hint that her and Varric have gotten married by correcting Bran when he calls her the Viscount’s Mistress and saying that it’s not her title anymore. When the Inquisitor asks, she’ll say they can celebrate after and asks the Inquisitor to make sure Varric stays safe if she is no longer a party member. 
During the confrontation with Solas, he reveals that the servant was one of his spies and that he has been watching the Viscount’s Keep. When asked why, his answer varies depending If Solas has been romanced by the Inquisitor. If he has been, he will say that he would not see one of their friends hurt when they are vulnerable. If, however, he was not romanced by the Inquisitor he will tell them that he could not bear to see Varric and Maria hurt by the loss of a child in battle, hinting that he still has feelings from their time together in the Inquisition even if they were never acted upon. Solas indicates approval of keeping Maria out of the battle and disapproval of allowing her to stay. 
After the game, Maria and Varric return to Kirkwall and the epilogue mentions they have a baby girl together and that Maria is the most unique Viscountess Kirkwall has ever had. 
If Maria was not romanced and the romance with Varric did not trigger: 
She can be found in the gardens and it is revealed she is still with the Inquisition, although she is toying with the idea of reforming the Ostwick Carta under her terms. She expresses concern as the Inquisitor becomes more and more ill, which eventually turns to anger towards the rest of the Exalted Council. 
If Solas was romanced by the Inquisitor, Maria’s epilogue says that she returned to Ostwick and rebuilt the Carta there. An Inquisitor who is friendly with her uses them in their quest to stop Solas with Maria’s blessing. 
If Solas was not romanced by the Inquisitor, Maria suddenly vanishes when she returns to Ostwick without a trace. There’s no sign of her working among Solas’ people, however, and most people agree she would not join Solas. Her fate is ultimately a mystery. 
Combat comments
Kills an enemy
“I want that arrow back.” 
“Sod off!”
Low Health
“I’m fine, stop staring and help me kill these things!”
“Right. I need to sit down.”
Low Health (Companions)
(The Inquisitor) “If you go down, I quit.”
(The Inquisitor - if romanced) “You absolutely don’t get to die on me.” 
(Varric, romance not triggered) “Varric’s gotten quiet. Probably check on that.” 
(Varric, if romanced) “Varric! Varric, talk to me!” 
(Solas) “Solas is in trouble!” 
(Bull) “If Bull goes down I’m not gonna have any cover!” 
(Cole) “Stay away from Cole you bastards!” 
Location comments
Crestwood
“What do people even do out here for fun? I’d be bored to tears.” 
The Hissing Wastes
Maria: “Wish my grandmother could see these Dwarven tombs. She always said Orzammar was wrong. You can hear the Stone everywhere if you try hard enough.” 
Inquisitor: “Have you ever heard it?” 
Maria: “I’m not sure. But I know  Orzammar is wrong about us. I’m as much a dwarf as they are.” 
Storm Coast
“I’d like it here a whole lot more if it’d stop fucking raining.” 
The Deep Roads (Descent DLC) 
Maria: “I can hear it, you know.” 
Varric: “I don’t hear anything.” 
Maria: “I don’t think you’re trying very hard.” 
Varric: “You’re probably right, Princess.” 
Companion Banter: 
Varric: “You’ve gotta be the nicest Carta member I’ve ever met.” 
Maria: “That’s because I’m being paid really well.” 
Varric: “Sure, Princess. Don’t worry, I’ll keep my mouth shut.” 
Maria, laughing: “No you won’t.” 
xx
Maria: “Is it an act of protest?” 
Varric: “I haven’t even started protesting, but I’m about to. If the Inquisitor makes us climb one more mountain…” 
Maria: “Your beard. Or lack of beard, I suppose.” 
Varric: “It was distracting from my chest hair. It had to go.” 
xx
Varric: “I’ve been doing some research into the Ostwick Carta…” 
Maria: “Don’t.” 
Varric: “Too late. What are you doing? You could be running that gang. He’s a-” 
Maria: “If I wanted your opinion on my career, I’d ask for it.” 
Varric: “I know a thing about complicated partnerships, you know. I’m just worried.” 
Maria: “You’re not my father. Don’t act like you are.” 
xx
Maria: “Your shots keep veering left.” 
Varric, sighing: “If you ask to fiddle with Bianca’s cocking ring…” 
Maria: “I assumed it was cause you were staring at me.” 
Varric: “At that templar that almost took your head off.” 
Maria: “Uh huh. And the shots veering left were because of the cocking ring.” 
xx
Varric: “Speaking of staring… I can’t help but notice you’re a bit enamored.” 
Maria: “If you don’t want people to stare, you should do up your shirt.” 
Varric: “I absolutely want you to stare, Princess.” 
Maria: “I’ll remember that if I decide to stare.” 
xx
Solas: “I cannot help but notice that you seem fond of Mistress Cadash.”
Varric: “Spend a lot of time noticing Maria?” 
Solas: “She is difficult to miss.”
Varric: “Maybe you should tell her that next time she’s watching you paint.” 
xx
Solas: “You have a lovely voice.”
Maria: “Oh sweet Ancestors. Don’t tell me you were at the tavern too? Bull didn’t tell me what was in that drink and next thing I knew…” 
Solas: “I was above. With Cole. He said you sounded like magic. He was not wrong.” 
Maria: “I… thank you. You’re both full of it, but thanks.” 
Bull, if in party: “Smooth. Very smooth.” 
xx
Varric: “Here you go, Princess.” 
Maria: “A daisy?” 
Varric: “That’s no common daisy. That’s a fine Orlesian Marguerite.” 
Maria: “Very fancy. The Carta just calls them daisies.” 
Varric: “You deserve something a bit fancy.” 
Companion/Advisor comments about Maria Cadash: 
Josephine: “Mistress Cadash is quite good at cards. I’ve not had that much of a challenge since I was a young girl. Do not wager anything you would not care to lose.”
Leliana: “Maria Cadash is putting herself and her family at great danger to stay here. I wish I could believe it was more than self-interest, but I wonder if she’s not willing to die before returning to Ostwick. It… it is a bit sad, isn’t it?” 
Varric, romance not triggered: “Princess is a real Carta dwarf with a heart of gold. It’s probably going to get her killed someday. Carta isn’t kind to people like her.” 
Varric, romance triggered: “Thanks for helping me with Maria. I owe you one. It’s not always easy, we’ve got a lot of baggage. But it was time to start a new story, and I needed a muse who could kick my ass every time I start acting like an idiot.” 
Solas: “Maria Cadash is clever and curious. She’s wasted on the Carta. I suspect if you treat her well, she’ll be an ally to the Inquisition.” 
Solas if Maria is in a romance with Varric or the Inquisitor: “I believe she is happy. That is all that matters in the end. I hope she remains so.” 
Cole: “She locked it away. Couldn’t survive if she felt it. But she’s gone. A ghost. Everything haunts her. She doesn’t want to go back. You have to help her.”
Cole, if Maria is in a romance with the Inquisitor or Varric: “She thinks about how she buried him. Dirt in her fingers. Stone take him back. Ancestors guide him. Then she remembers she’s alive, and someone is waiting.” 
Trivia
Maria reveals throughout dialogue that she’s a fan of Varric’s books, except his romance serial, which she thinks is ridiculous. 
She can sing very well, but rarely does so. A romanced Maria (Varric or the Inquisitor) sings much more often than a non-romanced Maria. 
She has trouble sleeping and spends the nights she can’t watching Solas paint. She’s fallen asleep on his sofa multiple times. 
She is an expert marksman and a bit of a perfectionist. Any flaws in her technique have to be stamped out. 
If her and Varric are in a relationship, their daughter is named Marguerite after the daisies Varric used to give her. 
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the-pen-pot · 6 months ago
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On Patreon This Week (July 5th to July 11th)
Ficlets (Everyone in the $2 and up tier): Three ficlets will be posted this week and available to read on Patreon in advance before they go up on AO3.
Sorcerer’s Bane Chapter Twenty-two (Everyone in the $2 and up tier): Chapter twenty-twowill be posted on Saturday at the same time that chapter twenty-one goes up on AO3. Patrons get the new chapters one week ahead of schedule!
Project Poll and Drafts ($5 and up) Pick which of my Wips should get some focus from me over the next two weeks. It's an all in poll, which means there are 11 projects to choose from. The drafts folder includes drafted chapters of the following projects:
Guard of Diocletian - "'What's his Shift?' John asked, frowning to himself. Sherlock had not mentioned anything about another form. That in itself was not unusual. A lot of people were rather private about their alternative shapes. It was frowned upon to ask someone outright what creature they were when changed, but Mike was like him, baseline, and if he was going to live with this man then he needed to know what he could wake up to find one morning. Shedding on the furniture was one thing, but he had no real desire to find a strange, threatening animal in the living room one day."
Cat Among The Pigeons Part 10 - Sherlock uses himself as bait to infiltrate a Felisian smuggling ring.
Tipping The Scales - Injured and sent home to England, John finds himself guarding a mysterious tank at Baskerville. Will he do his duty, or will he risk it all to help rescue the man imprisoned within the watery depths?
Monachopsis - " Monachopsis n. the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place. It takes John Watson decades to discover where he really belongs." Magical realism (sorta) and dream sharing. Eventual Johnlock.
Where The Heart Is -Bilbo's presumed dead, but has actually been taken by raiders. Thorin must rebuild his kingdom with a broken heart, while Bilbo fights his way across the wild north, broken and bleeding, to make his way back to the mountain that has become his home. With bonus hobbits re-homing in Erebor.
Quarantine Fic - Inspired by the prompt of quarantine. Erebor is saved from the dragon and beginning to rebuild, but Thorin, newly healed from the injuries of the battle, suddenly takes ill.
The sickness is a dwarf's worst fear: highly contagious and always fatal. Thorin locks himself away to die a slow death, alone. Of he would, if not for the persistence of a certain hobbit.
Bilbo breaks into the royal chambers, effectively locking himself away with Thorin. Except as the disease progresses, he begins to think it looks rather familiar. In fact, it's a common childhood illness, one hobbits have been able to cure for years.
Erebor Never Fell AU - Taking prisoner and accused of murder, Bilbo's sentence is to be a food-taster. His eyes are bound, as he is unfit to look upon the Men who imprison him, and every day he is dosed with poison and every evening given enough antidote to keep him alive. Such is his existence, until the day his Master takes him to Erebor as part of his retinue, and he discovers the promise of a future among the dwarves who live there. Especially the eldest dwarven prince, Thorin Oakenshield.
Untitled Merlin Fic - Friends make all the difference. What if the knights of the round table found their way to Camelot before Arthur became king? What difference would that make to Arthur, to Merlin, and to their destiny?
Thank you so much to everyone who has signed up. Your support means the world to me!
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nellblazer · 11 months ago
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Fire & Gold - Chapter 13 (Thorin Oakenshield Fic)
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Series Masterlist here
Summary:  Azog awaits on the hill. What will the dwarves of Erebor find up there?
Warnings: Mortal Peril, Death, Angst
CHAPTER 13 - The Dwarves of Erebor
(Possible proof reading errors)
*Please do not replicate my work anywhere else. I post to A03, Tumblr and Wattpad. If my work appears anywhere else, it has been stolen.*
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I hovered at the back of the ruins, waiting for Bilbo's signal. I could see movement in the far tower but I had no way of telling how many orcs were there.
“The army is charging down the hill but there's about twenty here. Azog is in the tower,” Bilbo's disembodied voice startles me.
“If you can take any of the stragglers out, do it. I'm going after the Defiler.”
“Be careful, Raven-Eyed. I stole this for you,” a bow and quiver appear from nowhere.
“Thank you. At the first sign of danger, get off this hill. I would not have you die for my sake, my friend.”
“Well at least if I died here I would be the most famous hobbit in generations.”
“I am serious, Bilbo.”
“Oh shut up and get on with it. I have your back.”
And with that chiding, I scale the wall in front of me, hands and feet digging into the cracks as I get to the top, stalking along the surrounding wall. I manage to use the bow that's not ideally made but I kill a couple of orcs that were lingering around the bottom of the tower before pressing forward.
I'm not far from climbing up it when Rathak comes screaming at me from above that some of the warg riders were hiding on the other side of the hill. I have time to turn, see the small pack that had been following the Company all this time before an arrow flew towards me.
There was a shriek, a strangled caw and my best friend during my lonely years in the forest fell to the ground. He'd given his life to save mine.
“NO!”
The rage I felt was indescribable. Upon seeing the leering faces of the orcs, it burned even brighter.
My cries turned from anger to pain as another arrow buried itself in my shoulder and the momentum knocked me backwards. I stumbled before falling off the wall and down, down into the icy courtyard where I landed on the arrow shaft which punched further in, jarring the bone.
I remember howling in agony as something dragged me backwards and onto the frozen lake. I could only assume it was Bilbo.
“Get up!” the hobbit hisses in my ear. “They're coming!”
And they were. Warg riders slipping through the ruins to prowl towards us. Three in total. Azog was behind them on foot.
The odds of survival were possible but not certain.
I briefly looked behind me and saw nothing but the sheer drop over the cliff and knew if we got cornered, there was no way out.
“Get your sword ready, my friend,” I get to my feet, slipping slightly on the ice before breaking the arrow shaft with a grunt so only the head was in my skin. “This is where we make our last stand.”
One warg was venturing further than the others and I readied the bow, daring them to make a move. My arms were shaking, the bowstring vibrating violently as I struggled to master the pain and keep it steady. Knowing I had seconds left before my grip gave out, I made the choice to shoot.
I hit the warg in the eye, killing it instantly and bucking the rider off. That gave a signal to the others to chase us down.
I drew my sword, thinking this was the end before arrows came from the right and killed a second warg and the rider. Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Kíli and Fíli were running full speed towards us, although they only saw me standing there.
“Bâhzundushuh, run!” Thorin yells.
“Go, Bilbo. Take out the orc without the warg,” I urge and I see the footprints on the ice moving away.
Meanwhile Thorin had gone straight for Azog, sword bared as they clashed violently. Balin and Dwalin were running for the orcs in the tower and Kíli and Fíli were trying to bring down the last warg.
I clutched my arm, trying to massage the wound to get some movement back. I was no use in a straight sword fight any more but I could make a few last shots if I was lucky enough.
When I'd started to nock an arrow, I heard Kíli crying out in fear. Fíli was in the mouth of the warg struggling as the creature was biting down slowly.
I had no time to stop it, only to try something I had no idea if it would work. I mangled the beast language as best as I could and shouted at the warg to look over here.
I'd never attempted to speak to dark creatures before, though I knew some vernacular.
The warg opens its mouth in shock, gormlessly looking my way with sheer astonishment before I let my arrow fly into its face as Kíli pulled his brother clear.
The damage was done though to my shoulder and I dropped the bow, hitting the ground hard as they finished the creature and the orc off.
Both princes rushed over after that, Fíli a little worse for wear but not bleeding in an alarming way. They helped me up and off the battlefield as orcs spilled onto the ice.
“Thank you, dragon-slayer,” Fíli touches his head to mine briefly. “I owe you my life.”
“I am more surprised that that worked,” I laugh but it's cut off by the twisting sensation in my shoulder. “Go help Balin and Dwalin. There are more orcs in that tower than they think.”
“What did Rathak say? Any more coming?” Kíli asks.
“Rathak... they killed him,” it hurts to say out loud. “But the last thing he said was that all the army was now down below.”
“I am sorry, my friend,” Kíli and Fíli manage to say in perfect unison.
“Go. I'll be fine here. Bilbo is around if I need help.”
So the dwarven princes run back into the fray, Fíli frowning slightly as he fought the pain of his own superficial wounds.
My attention was on Thorin, however, who was losing the fight against Azog. With one clever stamp of his foot, Thorin broke the ice around himself to give him time to recover.
Azog, being bulkier, taller and clumsier, floundered as his sure footing was torn away and he slipped under the water with a great splash. There must be a current still in the frozen depths because Azog disappeared from sight very quickly and Thorin tracked him towards the cliff edge, peering through the glittering whiteness of the cracks.
I looked away for one moment to see how the others were faring and Thorin's scream nearly stopped my breath.
I got up without thinking, running on instinct as Thorin fell, the Defiler's metal claw piercing his foot from below. Azog clambered out onto firmer ground, ready to strike the death blow but I took the brunt of the assault myself as I barrelled into the Pale Orc and we both went under into the freezing water.
I could barely see anything, my extremities were going numb already and I clung to Azog's claw so I couldn't be stabbed with it. It was terrifying being trapped, not knowing if I would die from a laceration or drowning.
A hand grabbed the back of my leather armour and hauled me away, my head breaking the surface as I gasped in desperation. Thorin pulled me up but the Defiler was keeping a grip on my leg and was dragged onto the bank also.
In one graceful leap, Thorin protected my body whilst Azog slashed down. The dwarven king ducked the blow and drove his sword into Azog's chest, pushing so hard the orc dropped back and the whole weight of Thorin drove the blade through his body completely as they tumbled over.
“Amrâlimê!” the King under the Mountain limps to my side again and stumbles onto his knees, exhausted and panting. “Are you alright?!”
“I...”
I know Azog pierced me with his claw under the ice but I cannot bring myself to say it. I can see Thorin is himself again, his eyes clear and full of worry. I did not want to add to his misery but he found the wound when he lay his hand across my stomach and I whimpered.
“No...” he tries to position the leather to put pressure over the injury.
Bilbo has reappeared again, running over and covered in the dark stains of orc blood. He nearly starts crying when he sees me like this.
“Get the goats from the war chariot!” Thorin yells at him. “Quickly! She hasn't got much time!”
“Uncle?” Fíli has joined us, as has Kíli.
“Hold on, my love. I will get you to the healing chambers,” Thorin is trying to be calm but his voice is waivering.
“Oh no,” Balin says softly, as him and Dwalin return. “Oh lassie.”
“If I die, bury me with Rathak,” I draw my king's attention back to myself. “He gave his life for me. He's up on the wall.”
“I refuse,” Thorin growls. “Because you will not die. Not like this. Not after everything. Not when I have just come back to you.”
“Melhekhul,” I reach up for his face.
“Forgive me,” he presses his forehead to mine so I don't have to attempt to sit up. “Forgive me for everything. I am sorry. I am so sorry.”
“It is forgiven,” I murmur, unsure if I will make it through the hour.
He started talking some more to me but it grew fainter. I felt cold, cold to my bones and like my body was not my own any more. The sky was growing darker, though I suppose that may have been my vision leaving me.
I slipped into shadow surrounded by friends and my love.
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“-I don't not want to hear another word of it!”
Thorin's voice was what cut through the fog of my wanderings through night time. He seemed incensed, passionate.
“It is not about what you want, Thorin. It is about what Erebor needs,” a husky voice, low but feminine.
“Then Mahal take Erebor! I will not give her up!”
I keep my eyes closed, eavesdropping on their conversation. I did not want to alert them I was awake yet.
“You always were stubborn, brother but this is unreasonable. She is a human. You are a dwarven king.”
“She is of an ancient royal line, Dís. The Númenoreans. You remember our teachings on them? If you cannot get past what she is then at least realise this could be a good diplomatic match. It could restore our good faith with the surrounding humans towns. An heir to Gondor's throne within Erebor.”
“It is forbidden!” Dís snarls, that same temper as her brother. “They will not accept her!”
“Then I renounce the crown!” Thorin bellows back. “Fili can have it! I will exile myself if I have to but I will not break my heart!”
“Fili is not ready! You would not put the burden of being king upon him when he's so young, surely? Thorin, you already have a promised match. Marry her. Make your human a mistress if you have to be so base but do your duty!”
The pain in my stomach became worse upon hearing those words. Thorin had told me during our journey that he had no one waiting for him in the Blue Mountains. Now I discovered he was betrothed.
“I promised nothing,” Thorin counters. “I said if I had to I would do it but I would not love her. Now I have found my one great love and you wish to rip it from my fingers. Do not call yourself my blood if you would wish this much suffering upon me.”
“Thorin!” Dís seems shocked.
“I need to go get wrappings for her wounds. The Elfking could only do so much,” I hear his footsteps start to leave. “You should be grateful, sister. She is the only reason we are back home.”
Then he's gone from the room.
I open my eyes at that point.
Dís was not what I was expecting. I had heard stories that dwarrowdams were nearly impossible to tell from dwarven males due to the facial hair and broadness but Dís, I could easily tell was female. Perhaps I was just used to being around dwarvenkind that I could pick out the differences but even the beard she had was soft and tapered around her chin to enhance her angular jawline.
She was the spit of her brother in many ways, even down to the grey strands but I could see how she would be a beautiful princess for the dwarves of Erebor.
“Bakn galikh, Uzbadnâtha,” I attempt to greet her.
She looks around quickly, those same azure eyes locking onto mine as she blinks in confusion at hearing Khuzdul from me. I had made sure to learn the term for 'princess' in case I ever met her, to give her her proper title.
“It is not morning, Raven-Favoured,” she eventually regains herself, rebuffing my conversation attempt. “Nor is it good.”
We sit in awkward silence for a while until I work up the nerve to speak again.
“How long have I been asleep?”
“Days, so my brother says. You are lucky to be alive.”
“I suppose you wished I had perished to make things easier, given the arguing I heard,” I sit up with great effort.
Dís looks a little ashamed at that. She keeps staring at the floor.
“I know he loves you,” her voice is quiet, reflective. “I can see that. A blind dwarf could see that. What you have done for him and for Erebor, I know you love him also. If it were within my power to change the minds of my folk, I would do but I know they will oppose it. Thorin flippantly declared he would settle for a bride before he undertook this quest, it has now been taken for an expectation and they will not be expecting a human to fulfil that role.”
“Who is she?” I ask. “The one he's promised to?”
“Anvarrí,” Dís replies. “Dependable, studious and pretty enough to keep his attention. She would make a fine queen.”
“I see,” the barb about Anvarrí's appearance lands.
Thorin comes back, elated at first to see me awake but when he senses the atmosphere and looks to his sister, his smile wanes. Defensively he takes his seat again, taking my hand and kissing the back of it.
“My raven, I am overjoyed you have awoken,” his tone is a lot softer with me than it was with Dís.
“She knows, brother,” Dís says meaningfully. “About Anvarrí.”
“There is nothing to know about her,” Thorin shot her a nasty look. “This is your choice, princess of Erebor. Either you accept our love or your son takes the throne. There is no middle ground. I will not marry someone else.”
“No one shall marry a human and you together in the first instance, Thorin. Would you listen to reason?!”
“The Elfking knows the word of old. If I have to resort to that, I will. Either we will be together in Erebor or together in Eriador. The location does not matter.”
What I attempt to say in Khuzdul is, “Let the people decide. King Thorin or King Fíli.”
“Ghivashel,” Thorin breaks into a smile. “My heart sings every time you try.”
“She needs to have a proper teacher,” Dís sighs, lounging back in the chair.
“She taught herself, sister. Do not be so harsh,” Thorin shakes his head, leaning over to kiss me.
“What did I actually say?” I ask.
“Letting the kin adjudicate. I understood your meaning. It is a fair suggestion.”
“I suppose it is,” Dís stands up and goes to leave but before she does, she puts her hand on her brother's back. “It is nice to see you smile, Thorin. Truly.”
Then she leaves.
“She will come around in time, even if we depart this place,” Thorin climbs into the bed next to me, cradling me in his arms. “By Durin, I have never been so scared as I was on the Ravenhill. I thought I had lost you.”
“How are your injuries?” I ask.
“I shall not be sprinting any time soon,” he gives a gruff laugh. “But I did journey back up the hill.”
He disentangles for a moment before fetching a gilded box with a raven symbol on the lid and hands it to me. I know what's inside instinctively, my fingers tracing over the raised bird pattern and the runes underneath which I think spell Rathak's name.
“He was a friend to all Erebor, the king of ravens. I would return him to the person he loved the most,” Thorin fixes the end of my courting braid that's come loose in the fight.
“Bury him in the roost. He is home at last where he belongs,” I kiss the box before handing him back. “Would you really give up your throne to live with me in the forest?”
“Without question. Power and riches mean nothing to me if I cannot be with you....that is if you will still have me after everything I have done.”
“I shall expect to be waited on hand and foot for a while but yes, I told you Thorin. This braid is not being undone by me.”
His kisses are gentle, like the night in the windlance tower. All the possessiveness is gone from him, the aggressiveness.
There's a knock at the door which interrupts us and Fíli comes in. He initially smiles at seeing us there together but coughs to announce something more serious.
“Mother wants all of us to go to the king's hall, if the dragon-slayer is ready to be moved. She is gathering the lords for a vote. I...uh...I understand I could be king if they do not allow your union.”
“I would not want this burden for you, nephew,” Thorin sighs. “But they might move for exile.”
“I shall do my best should it come to that but if they let me have a vote, I would see you both in Erebor.”
“Fili?” I ask before he leaves. “I will need two people to help me into the halls. I have been sleeping so long I am not sure what strength is left in me.”
“Let me dress her first,” Thorin shoos him out before taking a bundle from a chest nearby. “I had these made for you. Dress or tunic, whichever will be comfortable.”
“Dress. They should see me at my best, not what is comfortable.”
“Amrâlimê. Be who are you, not what they expect you to look like.”
“Tunic then,” I groan, swinging my legs out of the bed.
The tunic he's had made has the seven silver stars of Arthedain and in the centre, a raven with spread wings. It is both sides of me perfectly represented.
Whilst I pull them on, Thorin tidies the rest of my hair with meticulous precision. I almost fall asleep as his fingers work over my scalp.
“It is time to hear our fate, my raven,” he helps me to my feet before calling Fíli back in. “Wherever we go, we go together.”
_________
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how-are-those-nuts-sarge · 11 months ago
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Scars
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Pairing: Thorin Oakenshield x Female (Elf!) OC
Word count: 3289
Tone: Somewhat lighthearted, mostly angst
Warnings: Death
Summary: The Company calls on the aide of a warrior familiar to Thorin and Balin. She refuses to join them, knowing if she should leave, she would not be granted her home here any longer, and she wishes to live out her days in peace. A moment with Thorin, recollecting her past, persuades her to go with the Company, though it just may be her last journey.
"M'lady, you have visitors," comes the soft, pleasant voice of Beryl, my handmaiden, and I look up from my book with a welcoming smile. My eyebrows raise in surprise and I stand up as three-five-eight-thirteen dwarves, a hobbit, and a tall fellow with gray robes and a matching pointed hat filter into the gazebo. 
"My Lady Samira," greets the grey-robed man, a wizard or warlock by his appearance, with a small bow, which the others follow suit. My smile grows as I reply with a curtsy in return, 
"And to whom do I owe the pleasure of meeting on this fine afternoon?" 
"The Company of Thorin Oakenshield!" declares one of the dwarves exuberantly and the others cheer.
I wave to my handmaiden. "Beryl, dear, would you please fetch us fourteen pints of ale, the strongest we have,-" More approving shouts from most of the Company as they settle down on the many benches and settees. "-a pot of tea, and a glass of red wine?" 
The hobbit shoots me a grateful, albeit nervous smile and the wizard nods with a crafty, knowing grin. As Beryl leaves, I settle back onto the comfortable bench, setting my book on the edge. "May I ask to why you are in this part of Rivendell, good sirs?" 
One sitting near the back pipes up with a toothy grin, "We're traveling to Erebor to reclaim our home under the mountain!" 
Everyone cheers this time, including the hobbit, and I add on my own, "Hear, hear, Master Dwarf." My gaze turns to the wizard and I continue, "And you must be Gandalf the Grey. I'll assume you've come to me for some sort of aide-but what? Do tell." 
Gandalf chews on his pipe, which he has somehow managed to take from his pocket and light without my noticing, before responding, "We require a place to sleep, an evening meal... and one more warrior to join our Company."
My smile fades as I realize what he means and I cross my arms, shaking my head as I shoot back, "Absolutely not. It's been one-hundred-seventy-odd years and the scars still haven't faded. Besides, I have never held a blade since then-" 
"My lady," interrupts a gruff voice from the shadows to my left and a dwarf steps into sight that I hadn't fully noticed before. He is handsome in a rugged way, but it's clear in the way he holds himself and smiles so charmingly, I can tell he is meant to be a king. 
I curtsy to him and reply calmly, "Thorin Oakenshield, rightful king under the mountain. I would recognize you anywhere." 
He nods and I can see a glimmer of respect in his eyes. "I remember you. You were the only one to break the elf king's ranks and come to our aide. If not for you, Balin would have died."
A white-bearded dwarf with kind eyes speaks up from a few feet behind Thorin, "Aye, it's true, m'lady, I owe you my life." 
My heart softens a little towards this ragtag band of dwarves, hobbit, and wizard, but I hold my ground. "If I leave now, I will find no home ever again. No, I cannot join you, but food and lodging I can easily provide." 
The group seems disappointed, especially Thorin, and my heart twinges with regret. No, I tell myself, though I know it's likely futile, I am happy here, King Elrond treats me well. I should stay... As I watch the Company file out of the gazebo, led by a handful of footmen, a small voice buried deep in my mind asks, But, are you really happy? Thorin shoots me a glance of wistfulness as he leaves and I feel a strong pull to join them surface in my mind. My eyes stray the corner of the gazebo, where a chest, held shut with a heavy lock, lays coated in dust. No. I tear my gaze away and open my book again, reading to distract me from the meeting that just occurred.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That evening, I dine with the Company, enjoying their jokes and friendly banter. The hobbit finishes his meal quickly and fidgets to leave the group, so I slip him a book from the shelf behind me under the table and glance at the door. He smiles gratefully and scampers off, but when I turn back to the conversation, I catch Thorin staring at me with an expression I cannot name. He looks away the instant I meet his gaze, and I wonder why for the rest of supper. The dwarves are delighted to be served roast veal instead of the greens offered at the palace up the river and sing me an old dwarven song in thanks, though it is a bit crude and bloody. 
I, after a good two hours, leave the dwarves still feasting and walk quickly down the path to my rooms. But something makes me pause. The path here splits, one leading towards the gazebo and the other to the small cottage I reside in amongst a small village of my handmaidens and footmen. I used to be royalty, the cousin of the prince of Eryn Galen, Greenwood, or as it is now known from the darkness creeping into the forest, Mirkwood. But I am no longer royalty, and no longer a warrior. That thought spurs me forward.
I take the path to the gazebo.
The lanterns are still lit and the chest in the corner is still there, as dusty as ever and held shut with that same old lock. I kneel before it and take the key hanging around a chain off from around my neck. With trembling hands, I unlock the chest and the rusty lock falls to the floor with a soft clunk that sends my heart fluttering. I slowly lift the lid, unaware of the person standing close behind me, and stare down into the darkness of the chest's inside. My hands no longer shake as I reach in and raise up a long, cloth-bound piece of metal I know all too well. I place the package on the settee beside the chest and push back the worn cloth cover. The familiar hilt glints in the lantern lights and I stand up slowly, holding the scabbard out before me. With one fluid motion, I draw the blade and sweep it around in careful yet swift attacks at the air around me.
"Samira." 
I whirl around and find the tip of my sword a hair's width away from an unflinching Thorin Oakenshield's neck. 
I quickly lower my weapon and reply, flustered, "How may I be of service?" 
He doesn't reply for a long moment, then suddenly says, "I remember seeing you for the first time, as clear as if it were only yesterday. Out of the elves' retreating ranks, you, on a brown stag, clad in the armor of one from royalty, burst through, your sword held high and defiant. You, alone, charged into battle against a foe outnumbering you by hundreds, nearly a thousand. And you struck them all down, one by one." He takes a few steps towards me and I sheath my sword and place it on the settee, listening. "The greatest warrior I have ever seen." 
He gently brushes the sleeves of my dress up past my elbows to reveal only a few of my countless scars. Red, pale, from a lifetime ago yet still not healed fully. Reminders of a battle fought and won, and my nightmarish brush with death. His fingertips ghost above each little scar and I feel a shiver up my spine as he stares at me intently. I break the gaze and look away, ashamed again of my old battle wounds. 
So softly I can barely hear him, he muses, "Your scars are a part of who you are. They show you are a fighter, brave, fearless. They do not diminish your beauty, that of which seems to grow with every passing moment I look at you. You were once a warrior." He now pulls the sword from its scabbard laying on the settee and holds the hilt out to me. "Become a warrior once again. Fight for us... for me." I meet his gaze. After a long, tense moment-
I take the sword from his grasp.
"We leave tomorrow at dawn, no later," I declare and he nods, moving to leave, but I continue, "Thorin?" The rightful king under the mountain turns back with that same intense gaze. "Thank you. You have helped me rediscover who I am. " A ghost of a smile flickers across his face before he gives me a small bow and fades into the darkness beyond the gazebo.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Seven months later...
I look down from the side of the balcony where the throne of the king stands just and proud. If only the dwarf who holds that position was the same, as he used to be. Now Thorin barely eats, sleeps, talks to others, and almost never smiles, unless with greed. He has become overly cautious and jealous, guarding the seemingly endless piles of gold in the depths of Erebor with a distrustful gaze. He keeps me by his side always, until I can find a time to slip away and forage what food I can for the others from our meager supplies. I haven't eaten in weeks, but luckily we elves can last a long time without sustenance. The rest of the Company worries over me a little, but we all pass concerned whispers to each other about Thorin. I'd found Balin holding back tears one day in the old library and comforted him the best I could. 
"Do you think he'll ever come back to us?" I had asked in hope, but the old dwarf had shaken his head forlornly.
"I really do not know, lass, though I wish I could tell you everything will be alright." He had attempted a reassuring smile, but failed, and repeated softly, "I really do not know..."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Right before the tide shifts during the Battle of the Five Armies:
I stare out over the barricades at the fight raging below, gripping the hilt of my sword so tightly my knuckles have turned white. My blood boils at the memory of Thorin, his mind warped by Dragon Sickness, forbidding any of us from aiding our comrades in this awful battle. The echoes of footsteps from behind me are picked up by my acute Elven hearing and I spin around. Thorin steps into the light, his grown gone and his gaze clear for the first time in a long while. Kili confronts him angrily, but to everyone's surprise (except mine), our king, leader, and friend agrees with his nephew. 
"We will fight!" he declares to wild cheers, the loudest of which is my own. 
Thorin's gaze lands on me and he immediately strides over, gently grabs my chin, and pulls me down to kiss him. I instantly respond to the kiss, my hands cupping the sides of his head, marveling at how sweet and strong and needing we both seem. We break apart all too soon and Thorin leads the Company, his small army of loyal-to-the-death warriors, down the battlements and has Fili and Kili rig up the giant bell in the entrance above us to smash the barricade to smithereens.
He looks at me one last time as the brothers pull back the bell and get ready to release it.
3...
"Tell me you will survive," he pleads, his dark worried eyes searching mine.
2...
"I cannot promise that..." I reply softly and reach out, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear lovingly. He grasps my hand in his own, protective and gentle, and I kiss his forehead before stepping away, my hand coming back to my side to draw my trusty blade.
1...
"But I will fight for you until my last breath."
The bell crashes through the stone wall and we charge into battle, Thorin, our just, kind, strong king, leading us into the fray. Time seems to warp as all my attention and energy focuses on the fight and staying alive. At one point, I remember following Thorin, Kili, Fili, and Bilbo (the hobbit) up a mountainous slope on the backs of saddles boars, myself racing on foot behind them, to confront and defeat Azog once and for all. Time comes back to haunt me as I watch Fili's lifeless body fall from the deadly grasp of the pale orc himself. It lands right in front of Kili. He lets out an enraged roar and fights like fury against each enemy that appears. I hear a scream from a faintly familiar voice, a memory of a lifetime I left behind long ago, and Kili races off to help the one in need. Bilbo helps us fend off a group of goblins, but I glance him being knocked out as we're driven further back. I lose track of him during the fight-
All of a sudden, it's just me, Thorin, and Azog, our weapons held steadfast at our enemy as we stand upon a thin sheet of ice. And then Thorin charges, myself right beside him, and the final battle begins. Somehow, Azog the Defiler ends up slipping under the ice, his still body sinking, then floating back up to just below the thin surface. Thorin stares down at the monster's eyes as if in a trance. I know a trap when I see one, however, and race forward, shoving the dwarven king out of the way just as the pale orc's eyes snap open and he stabs his wicked blade up, piercing the ice, straight through my foot. I give a harsh yell of pain and stumble back, falling to my knees as Azog bursts up through the layer of ice and leaps at me, his weapon pointed directly at my heart. I topple onto my back as I block the attack, my sword pressing and cutting into my hand as I use all the strength I have left to prevent my likely death. But then I look up and see the cruelty and pure evil in the pale orc's eyes and determine I will not live to see tomorrow.
I lower my sword.
Thorin screams from nearby as he scrambles towards me, but it is too late, the blade of the enemy piercing my chest all the way through. Azog grins cruelly, like he thinks he's won, but I still have the meager strength left to drive my sword deep into his heart. He shakes for a long moment, then, with one last gasp, he finally dies and I shove his filthy, limp body off of me, wincing as the weapon rips out of my chest. Thorin kneels beside me, frantically trying to stop the stream of blood, but I grab his hands and hold them between my own. 
"I'm afraid this is the end of my time, love." He shakes his head in denial, begging for me to survive, but with every passing second, I feel my life force ebbing out of me. "You will be king under the mountain in a time of peace," I muse softly, feeling a sort of peace fall on my conscience. Is this what dying is like? I feel no pain anymore, only a quiet resignation to my fate. I want to use these last few moments as well as I can, so I go on, "You will be the greatest king of the age. You will be honored and celebrated, dwarves from all over Middle Earth will come to Erebor to live under your just rule."
Thorin is still shaking his head, but not as much as before, as if he wants to listen rather than deny my inevitable death. "And you will be at my side, through all of it," he says, but I sigh.
"Tha kargol tul haritz, tha anym tul ovrumm.”
My time is gone, my life is over.
“Do not cry for I will see you someday. I will wait for you nir da vellar."
I will wait for you in the sky.
I take my last breath and feel myself drift away from reality, floating higher and higher up into the sky, seeing nothing but a blinding light- and then I appear in a garden. It is the same as the one I left behind at the edge of Rivendell. The gazebo stands to my left amidst the familiar grove of oak trees. Their leaves are turning orange, yellow, red, bright vibrant shades that indicate it is fall. 
"My lady," says a voice from behind me and I turn around. It is only then I realize I am not wearing my blood-stained battle armor anymore. My wound is gone. I am now clothed in a soft white dress, the color proclaiming purity and righteousness. Behind me stands the familiar sight of Beryl. She is smiling.
"My lady, it is good to see you once again," she says and curtsies, but I move to her and pull her back upright by her arms. I hug her and she hugs back after a moment, likely surprised by my affection. 
"I suppose you have perished as well?" I ask softly and she nods. 
"I was having strange dreams of a terrible battle to come and traveled to Mirkwood to seek the council of the king Thranduil. He was just about to set march to Erebor and I joined their ranks, knowing it would likely be my first and yet last battle. I died saving a group of Laketown refugees, children, from a pack of terrible wolf-beasts. They all survived, and now I am here and at peace, in the great afterlife of warriors. You are here, and now clothed in white, because you have saved all of Middle Earth in your sacrifice." 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Time truly has no meaning here, in the afterlife. We cannot die nor live again, merely here as ourselves at peace. I am walking down a path in the forest one fine evening, the fireflies lighting my way as I gaze upon the beauty of the nature around me, when a familiar dwarf comes racing down the path behind me, breathless. and I greet him with a kind smile. 
"Balin, old friend. I see your time has come all too soon." 
He bows and replies, "My life was as long as I could ever have hoped for. There is someone here I think you would very much like to see." 
I raise an eyebrow, but nonetheless follow him, sprinting all the way back to the old gazebo, where fairy lights have been hung for a festival this evening. Someone stands inside, gazing half away from me, but I can recognize the curve of his jaw, the slope of his shoulders, and the way he holds himself- like a king.
"Thorin!" I cry and race towards the gazebo, my white, ever-clean dress flowing out behind me as I run. He turns and I take in every detail of his face as I fall into his arms, my joyful gaze locked on his own wide smile. He hasn't changed a day since the last I saw him, but that must be only for death bringing him back to youth. 
"Oh, my love, it has been so long," he murmurs and I kiss him, his embrace gentle yet firm as if he never wants to let me go for fear of my leaving him again. And I never will. We will stay here for the rest of eternity, myself a queen and him a king, in this afterlife. And I am forever grateful for this chance for us to be finally together, at peace.
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thewatchau · 12 months ago
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Beings with Souls and their Changeling Variants
Most of the lore in the upcoming series will be edited compilations of dozens of posts from the last two years. While there are some minor new details sprinkled throughout, I’ve attempted to post significant new information in a “Watch AU Fun Fact” post so you don’t have to read all of these HUGE posts to find them.
Other Posts in this Series:
Introduction to Beings with Souls and their Changeling Variants  • Humans and (Human) Changelings • Merfolk and Merpeople • Dwarves and Stone Walkers • Giants and Tree-Giants (Triants) • Unicorns • Nomes (Unicorn Changelings) • Dragons • Kings’ Eyes (Dragon Changelings)  • 
In this Post:
An Introduction to the concept of Beings with Souls and Changelings, including the seven soul-bearing races of the Mortal Realm
Several sections pertaining specifically to Changelings, including their Origins, Bodies, Awakening, Identity Struggles, Other Unique Traits.
An important meta disclaimer about the Parallels to Neurodivergence in the changeling myth and how that’s handled in this AU. 
Introduction
Beings with Souls are exactly what the name suggests: races of beings that are fully sentient and capable of intentional, focused magic. This post does not explain what souls are or the effect they have upon a being, so for context, I highly recommend that you read up on souls and magic to get a full understanding of the difference between beings with and without souls. 
A changeling is the reborn soul of a being that died at an extremely young age, given a new physical form by a member of the Fae. This phenomenon exists among all soul-bearing beings, though the physical, social, and cultural distinctions between changelings and their non-changeling counterparts will vary by both race and between that race’s unique cultures. 
The seven soul-bearing races known to exist in the Mortal Realm and their changeling counterparts are:
Humans - “Changelings”
Merfolk - Merpeople
Giants - Tree-Giants (Triants)
Dwarves - Stone Walkers
Unicorns - Nomes
Dragons - Kings’ Eyes
Fae Folk - N/A
Some contest the existence of the Fae Folk on this list, arguing that, while they appear in the Mortal Realm, they are native to the Fae Realm, do not have changelings but rather are responsible for the creation of the changelings of other races, and are not tied down by the magical limitations of the Mortal Realm. However, they do have souls; thus, while the post on Fae Folk is not linked to this series, I’ve added them to this initial list for the purpose of clarity. To learn more about Fae Folk, check out this post. 
Changelings
Regardless of a changeling’s soul-bearing race of origin, the process from which a changeling is created and many of their defining traits remain the same. Traits unique to changelings of a certain race will be described in more detail in their respective posts; this is simply to give context for the changeling experience as a whole. 
Soul’s Origin
If a member of the Fae stumbles upon a soul soon after its physical form has perished, they can gather it up and bring it into the Fae Realm, where they will offer it a choice: to become a member of the Fae or to “pass on” as it would have done without their intervention.  Occasionally, however, the Fae will deem a soul worthy of a second chance at life. Most often, these souls had died in infancy, barely taking shape or forming into a personality before being released. The Fae offer them a second chance; be reborn as a changeling, with all memories wiped clean and the chance to actually experience life. 
Souls that accept this offer are apparently given a choice as to where they would like to “appear,” though they have no memory of this decision after their rebirth. Quite sensibly, the vast majority of changelings appear relatively close to populated areas for this reason. The Fae then find a Fae Garden nearest to this location and begin creating a physical body for the changeling, careful to keep their work hidden from any untimely explorers. 
Changeling Bodies
The specific mechanics of how the Fae Folk create the body for a changeling are unknown, but four specific details are evident from observation and careful communication with cooperating Fae. 
First, the Fae Folk cannot create a changeling body from nothing in the same way that the Fae can shapeshift a form for themselves in the Mortal Realm. However, this ability to mold the physical world is used in the process to transform existing matter into a living, breathing creature for the soul to reside within. 
Second, the Fae Folk universally prefer to use actual remains of the intended soul-bearing race to create this body. In other words, they repurpose the empty, deceased corpses of souls that have already passed on to create these new bodies. In doing so, some trade seems to take place; corpses that are left in or near Fae Gardens do not decompose, but instead will be replaced over time by gorgeous works of natural art, such as colorful rock formations, spectacular wildflowers, or even the occasional bush or small tree. We still don’t know how they transform a dead, sometimes badly damaged body into a whole, unblemished changeling, but the Fae have always exhibited powers beyond our mortal understanding. 
Third, the Fae will sometimes resort to using other, nearby materials if they cannot gather enough from the bodies of the target race. For example, dwarves never leave their dead in Fae Gardens; thus, dwarven changelings are entirely made from stone. Human changelings often look indiscernible from their non-changeling counterparts, but for a tiny cluster of scales on their cheekbone or a plant-like texture to their hair. The physical distinctions between changelings and their non-changeling peers for each soul-bearing race is discussed in more depth in their respective posts, but these examples should give you a sense of the concept. 
Finally, the vast majority of changeling bodies are that of children or young adolescents, old enough to survive on their own for a short time without robbing them of the majority of their developmental years. This means that their “birth date” is not representative of their age, and most changelings have to get help guessing what their actual age would be based on the growth and maturity patterns of their peers. 
Post-Awakening
All changelings wake up fully clothed in Fae Gardens somewhere in the Mortal Realm, with next to no memory of how they got there. Most of their memories of the Fae Realm are already gone by this point, and what few remain fade rapidly, like a forgotten dream.  From there, most changelings either stumble into a populated area or are rescued, at which point they are either immediately recognized as a changeling or are presumed to simply be a lost amnesiac. Depending on the circumstances, a changeling might be taught about their nature by the first people they meet, or connect the dots years down the road. Some may never realize that they’re a changeling at all. 
Despite their complete amnesia, changelings are born with a few instincts that non-changeling babies have to learn during their early development. They're clumsier than average, but know how to do all basic motor functions, just like the Fae do when they build bodies for themselves in the mortal realm. Moreover, they are initially born with the Fae’s incredible talent for mimicry, allowing them to pick up on language, basic social customs, and survival skills extremely quickly. This skill allows changelings to “catch up” developmentally with their peers, but fades with time. Some changelings born in very young bodies will actually become aware of things faster than other children, making them seem extremely precocious before the effect wears off. On the other hand, if a changeling never learns a skill or custom before this social “growth spurt” wears off, it will be more difficult for them to pick it up later. 
Personal Identity Struggles
In addition, while changelings remember nothing from their time in the Fae Realm, their souls were still shaped by their experiences during that time. Those preferences and desires that led to their decision to become a changeling are still a part of their soul, even if they can’t remember the context behind those instincts. This often leaves changelings with a strange, disconnected sense of deja vu, inner purpose, or sense of identity that they have trouble fulfilling or even articulating. Often, changelings compare this sense of disconnected identity to how it feels when you're looking for a specific word, but can't remember what it is, or when your body is craving something but you don't know what. This feeling that they’re meant to be or to accomplish something will remain very strong throughout their lives, and many changelings will eventually go on a self-searching journey of trial and error to rediscover that identity. 
For those who are aware that they’re changelings, this identity struggle comes with questions about their previous life. Much like adopted children, many changelings struggle with the understanding that they had a life in the Mortal Realm before this one, however brief it was. Unfortunately, there is no way for a changeling to uncover any details about their past life through simple research. There’s no way to know how long their soul was in the Fae Realm before their rebirth; they might not even be on the same continent anymore. The only way for a changeling to learn any details about their past life would be to ask a member of the Fae. However, most will either refuse to answer or demand you make a deal with them first. The latter is VERY stupid and will probably end badly, so please don't do that. Especially because, even if you somehow managed to get an answer, find your birth family, and by some miracle, you had awoken as a changeling within a few decades of your original death... your family will have probably moved on, trusting that you'll find a home among the Fae Folk. That's kinda the whole point of giving young souls the opportunity to become changelings in the first place; not to send them into a life of uncertainty and sadness, but to give them a chance at finding a home of their own. Of course, like most adopted children, this part of their history will always weigh on them at least a little bit, but eventually, most changelings will make peace with their unknown origins, especially if they never find out any details. It's hard to miss what you never had, after all.
Other Unique Changeling Traits
While for the most part, changelings are the same as their non-changeling counterparts, they do have a faint connection to the Fae Realm that others often lack. 
For example, when a soul has decided to disperse itself in an area of the Mortal Realm after death, on average, changelings are better at sensing the faint echo of that soul than non-changelings. 
Additionally, on very rare occasions, two changelings with a deep connection, called a “Changeling Pair,” are born around the same time. Souls in the Fae Realm often form platonic or romantic bonds with other souls, just like in the Mortal Realm. Unlike mortals, however, these souls aren’t separated from each other by physical bodies. Though the magic of each individual soul cannot be combined with that of another, two souls that spend a lot of time near each other can become “acclimated” to each other. If these souls become changelings, this bond between them will be preserved, despite losing all memory of the Fae Realm. Most of the time, this bond is simply a gut feeling of belonging; i.e. the stereotypical idea of a soulmate. However, these bonds are very rare. Most souls who have found happiness in the Fae Realm decide to stay there. Becoming changelings means trading the openness of the Fae Realm for two separate, physical bodies. Worse yet, there’s a strong possibility that the changelings will not be able to find each other in the Mortal Realm, thus dooming them both to a mortal life that’s plagued with a subtle sense of loss. In truth, this is not nearly as bad as it sounds; many changeling pairs have lived happy, fulfilling lives before finally encountering each other, despite the feeling that something was missing. However, for two souls who have known nothing but the incorporeal magic of the Fae Realm... the idea is unbearable to even consider. Plus, not every soul in the Fae Realm can become a changeling in the first place; both souls would have had to have died in infancy. So all in all, actual cases of changeling pairs are very rare.
Additionally, there is an even rarer phenomenon called “Changeling Twins,” in which changelings with souls that formed strong familial bonds will often appear in physical forms that look very similar to each other, if not identical. 
Parallels to Neurodivergence (Meta Disclaimer)
Almost everyone knows that the changeling myth was a way of explaining developmental disorders in a time where they didn’t know anything about that sort of thing, right? Autism and Down's Syndrome are the two I can think of off the top of my head, but I’m pretty sure there are more. Autism is the one I’m specifically familiar with (being on the spectrum myself), so I’m gonna be using that in this comparison, but know that this is not something that’s only related to ASD. 
Now, as someone on the Autism Spectrum, I’ve always loved the changeling myth. It’s just such a cool thing to think of yourself as an otherworldly creature in a strange and boring world rather than look at yourself how the rest of the world tends to look at you. HOWEVER, there is the very nasty ableist part of that myth about how the “normal” children were replaced with “abnormal” ones, which echoes a lot of the ableist rhetoric propagated by Autism Speaks and their ilk. I really wanted to incorporate the changeling myth into this AU, just without the baby stealing bit, and the finalized concept of changelings that you see here is how I ended up finding that balance. 
For one example of a parallel, it isn’t always super easy to tell if someone is autistic. Some people with ASD can be identified pretty easily, even by neurotypical folks, due to very visible/audible symptoms such as stimming, difficulty speaking, auditory stims, echolalia, severe sensory sensitivity, etc., while others will go completely unnoticed because their symptoms are much less obvious and usually explained away with, “they’re just a bit quirky/ditsy/unique/gifted/etc.” When we apply this to the changelings of The Watch AU, we see the same sort of variety. Some changelings might have really obvious physical differences and/or will have more difficulty adapting to the mortal world and the slight feeling of ‘otherness’ from spending time in the Fae Realm as a soul. Other changelings might have much more subtle physical differences or adapt quicker to the Mortal Realm and will often go unnoticed. 
All that to say that my own experience with being autistic and just generally neurodivergent has influenced a lot of how I view changelings in this AU. However (and this is important), Changelings are NOT a replacement for neurodivergence in this AU. You can absolutely have a non-changeling character who is also ND. For example, my main Watcher and self-insert, Bard Emily Keyes, is ADHD and on the autism spectrum like myself, but is NOT a changeling. Whether you enjoy the changeling myth as a way to express your neurodivergence or prefer to have a character who is truly ND without any magical, otherworldly explanations is absolutely up to you and no one else.
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lathalea · a year ago
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How to Kiss a Fairy (12/12)
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And here we are. This is the final chapter of the fic by @avaria-revallier​​​​​​ and me. Enjoy :)
Parts in regular script are written by @avaria-revallier​, parts in cursive - by me.
Relationships: Thorin Oakenshield x Original Female Character
Warnings: none
Summary: Thorin hadn’t lost his way to Shire, or so he said. To be fair, it might have been fate as well, which led him right to her. The fairy which would turn his whole world upside down.
Come along and join them on their journey, discover the truth behind the ‘fairy’ and see how their love unfolds.
>> You can read the whole story here on AO3. <<
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How to Kiss a Fairy, chapter 12
Thorin recalled the way Enya’s body felt against his when his arms encircled hers and they pressed their foreheads against each other. He remembered the rich golden depths of his Amrâlimê’s eyes and the bright swirls that sparked in them. They sparked the same way when she looked at him the last time before she went into the mountain together with Bilbo. They were supposed to reach the treasure chamber and see what awaited them there. 
Now, standing there alone, his stomach in a knot with worry, Thorin couldn’t fathom how he could allow her to go into the mountain without any protection. He just remembered looking into these enchanting pools of molten gold and then her small hand slipped out of his, as she disappeared in the bowels of the Lonely Mountain.
Balin walked out of the dark passage and shook his head, his expression solemn.
“I’m sorry, Thorin, there is no trace of…” he started when everyone heard a loud pitter-patter of bare feet against the stone floors.
“DRAGON! A big one! Teeth! Claws! Gold, lots of it!” Bilbo ran out from the passage, almost losing his balance. Luckily, Dwalin’s arm was there to stabilize him. 
“Calm down, laddie, and tell us everything from the start,” the large warrior said.
“I told you everything!” the little hobbit panted, trying to catch his breath. “Down there, in the treasure chamber, just like you said. Big. Gigantic. Huge. Gargantuan. Monstrous. DRAGON! With wings, and tail, and scales, and fangs! And he wanted to eat me!”
“Where is Enya?” Thorin tried to keep his voice calm, clenching his fist and feeling his nails digging into the skin of his hand. “Why is she not with you?”  
“She…” confused, Bilbo frowned and looked back into the dark passage, as if waiting for her to appear. “She was just right behind me…” 
Thorin growled, fury uncoiling in his chest. His Fairy, so delicate and fragile, was still inside the Mountain, and the vile slug was there as well. He had to rescue her before it was too late.
***
How dare he take what belonged to her love? How dare he threaten Thorin in front of her? How dare he laugh at her as she stepped out of the shadows and call her a petty thief? 
“YOU will be the one burning, worm!” she shouted in the ancient language of her kin. 
While changing her form, her voice became a roar. Her whole body covered in golden scales, a long tail with a sharp arrow-like point at the end and large wings, she towered over ‘Smaug the Terrible’. More like ‘Smaug the Little’. She was larger than him in her dragon form.
She smiled down at him, her sharp teeth dangerously shining in the low light. Her eyes emitted a golden glow. Her gaze on her prey, her tail wagging like a cat shortly before jumping at the prey. 
Smaug did something unexpected as he turned around and ran out of the treasury, out of the mountain and flew high up in the sky. What was he planning?
It hit her like thunder when she heard his deep laughter, the scared shriek of the little hobbit and the chaotic shouting of the dwarrows. He wanted to end the line of Durin. He wanted to hurt her aroha. 
Roaring she followed him outside, ramming her head into his side and burying her teeth deep into the soft flesh of his flank. She tasted blood, but that was only a reason to bite even harder. 
*** 
“I thought you said that there was only one dragon, laddie,” the pale-faced Balin turned to Bilbo as soon as he returned to his senses. 
“There was one…” Bilbo muttered faintly.
A thought appeared in Thorin’s mind that this was at least the second, or even a third time when the hobbit fainted during the last leg of their trip. He felt pride, recalling that Enya hadn’t fainted not even once during the whole journey. Perhaps Master Baggins was the most fragile member of their company, after all.
Chaotic thoughts like this one ran through his mind as he held his weapon in his hand. He was about to descend into the Mountain, his home, and find his Fairy, when two extremely loud and terrifyingly large projectiles shot out of the mountain through the Front Gate. They had wings, and tails, and scales, and fangs - exactly like the poor burglar had described.
Thorin recognized Smaug at once, his red scales glistening in the moonlight. The other dragon was visibly larger and swifter, gracefully swirling through the air and fiercely attacking its opponent. And it was…
“Golden. A golden dragon, as I live and breathe!” Dwalin exclaimed. “I always thought they were only a fairy tale!”
“Apparently not,” Thorin replied, focusing on the battle in the sky in bafflement. Tails swooshed through the air, huge wings moved back and forth, sharp teeth and claws clashed in fury. 
“I wonder how much its scales would be worth in gold,” Nori mused, ignoring Dori’s scolding glare.
At that moment, Smaug took in a deep breath, his chest puffed up and Thorin knew what was about to happen. It was a firebreather, after all. The Dwarven King still remembered the devastation his flames had caused over 100 years ago in the exact same place.
“Hide!” Thorin warned his companions, but before they lunged into a hideout, the red-scaled beast howled in pain. Golden claws pierced his wing, razor sharp teeth dug into his neck. The golden dragon was now on top of him, biting into him fiercely. Smaug’s belly glowed red for a blink of an eye, and then he bellowed, and clouds of dark, almost black smoke started coming out of his nostrils. One quick movement of the golden jaws and the red dragon’s head fell limply down, the rest of his bulk followed, his wings shattered, no smoke coming out of his nostrils any longer. Smaug’s limp body was descending down, gaining speed, only to disappear in the waters of the lake with an enormous splash. Only the golden dragon remained. The beast proudly glid against the backdrop of the starry sky, trumpeting its victory to the whole world.
***
After she had slain the other dragon, Enya roared out her triumph. This was now her territory and no other dragon or beast shall ever set foot in it again. She could see the company on the side of the mountain like small ants. They were frightened, obviously. 
Her heart skipped a beat. Would they even accept her back? Would Thorin accept her back? After all, it was a dragon who took everything from him. His home, his family, his hope. 
In a steep dive she flew back into the mountain. Inside the treasury she tried shifting into her previous form again. It was of no use. Her dragon side was persistent. The best she could manage was her human form with horns, her tail and some scales remained scattered over her body.
Her clothes were tattered and ripped, so she searched around the hoard for something usable. There was a blue, long dress, which was a bit wide, but usable. 
Echoing through the halls ,she could hear heavy footsteps and the voices of her dwarrows. Hiding in the shadow of a large pillar she waited for their arrival.
***
The narrow corridor led Thorin towards the main halls of Erebor. The walls glittered with gold veins, casting an eerie light on his surroundings. Silence reigned in the dwarven kingdom in place of music, cheerful chatter and sounds of everyday life. 
He was finally home and he would do everything he could for song and laughter to once again be heard within these walls. His people would soon return to the Lonely Mountain and start their lives anew.
Now however, there was something else on his mind, or, to be more precise, someone. Enya. She had to be somewhere there, hiding in the shadows, away from danger. From what Master Baggins said, he surmised that she must have found a hideout just after the hobbit aggravated the dragon. 
The Dwarven King directed his steps towards the treasure chamber. Perhaps his Fairy was there still, not daring to go out. Perhaps now she trembled in fear, seeing the golden dragon after it returned into the Mountain. He only hoped that she was well. Thorin growled. She had to be well. He forbade himself to think otherwise. He would find her, and take her into his arms, hold her close, and protect her from harm.
Finally, he reached the entrance to his grandfather’s treasure chamber, holding firmly a makeshift mace in his hand, one of the few available weapons in Laketown. He wished he still had Orcrist with him… Thorin shook his head. No matter. 
This chamber before him held inexhaustible riches, including the most excellent dwarven weapons and pieces of armor. And the gold.. the precious gems… the jewels… he took a step forward. And another. There was no dragon there. Smaug, that filthy serpent, had had his lair here, but no longer. If the golden dragon would try to come there as well, Thorin would make him pay for all the transgressions these cursed reptiles committed here. 
He growled again and looked at the endless sea of gold that surrounded him. It was hard to recall how he found himself in the middle of these piles of treasures. Hard to recall how long he was standing there, admiring the abundance of it all. The gold glittered. Danced in front of its eyes. Lured him with its sheen. The precious gems sang an alluring song of opulence and legendary wealth. It was all his. He laughed a deep, menacing laugh. All of it. Only his and his alone. And then he recalled his grandfather’s words, only the one who holds the Arkenstone is the true King of Erebor. The Arkenstone. His quest was not finished yet.
Something buzzed in his mind, a thought, like a pesky fly. There was something he ought to remember. Someone. Thorin shook his head, his arms submerged in the sea of gold, frantically searching. The Arkenstone was all that mattered now.
Enya quietly watched her dwarrows from the shadows. Thorin was different. Distant and constantly angry. He was not like before. Not since he had entered the treasury. 
Without rest or even the slightest hint of exhaustion he searched the treasury. Not for her, sadly. Something named ‘Arkenstone’ possessed his whole mind. 
The others came less and less to visit him and talk some sense into his stubborn head. Dwalin was the last one she saw for a very long time. Maybe now it was time to come out? To overcome her fear. There couldn’t possibly be anything worse than watching her love go crazy without even having tried anything.
From the shadows she addressed him, “Thorin?”
He froze. That voice. He knew it from somewhere. Or maybe he didn’t. He wasn’t sure. He looked around, but there was no one there. The Arkenstone had to be somewhere here. His treasure, the greatest treasure of them all.
“Thorin, can you hear me? It’s me, Enya.” She tried again, tears rolling down her face. She shouldn't have waited this long and let her fear hold her back.
What if everything was too late now? What if he had already lost himself in the madness? A small sob escaped her mouth.
“Who is it?” he barked angrily. Who dared to interrupt him at such an important time? Couldn't they see he was busy? 
“Kili, is that you? Come down here and help me at once!” he growled, but only echo responded to him. His eyes rested on a large chest standing by a pilar, in the shadows. Yes, the Arkenstone had to be there. Just then, he heard a noise.
She took a step forward and a small portion of coins and gems rolled down the mountain of treasures, echoing in the large halls. Her heart stopped a beat and in panic she jumped back behind the pillar and into the shadows. Had he seen her? Had he seen what she looked like now? She froze in her movement as she heard footsteps coming closer.
“Show yourself, intruder!” he exclaimed, grabbing a ruby encrusted sword that lay nearby. He was sure he saw a movement in the corner of his eye. He took a few careful steps towards the pillar. Something glinted in the shadows. Something golden and… beautiful.
Too late Enya realized that a ray of sunlight shone on her shoulder. Exactly the part where some of her golden scales were still fully visible on her skin. Before she could crawl deeper into the shadows, he was already standing in front of her. Staring.
“Thorin. I… I can explain,” she whispered, not sure if he would hear it. 
Her! What was she doing here? This tiny creature with eyes like molten gold. He knew her and yet he didn’t. Was it truly her? There was a faint but familiar smell of flowers in the air.
“Who are you?” he snarled, pointing his sword at her, only then noticing that his hand was shaking. A cold shiver ran down his spine. He recognized the soft fiery curls that surrounded her face, but something was not right. The curved golden horns. The scales on her cheeks, neck and arms, the golden sheen on her skin and then, there was something behind her, something pointy enveloped in the folds of her dress.
A tail.
“Speak!” he recoiled in terror. “Who are you and what have you done to… to…” the name. He couldn’t recall the name. Her name.
“Thorin,” she pleaded, “It is me, Enya! Please try to remember. The crown I made you, look. You still have some flowers in your pouch. And my gems, my treasure. I gave them to you as a sign that I am interested in you. Please Thorin, please remember!”
The crown. The only crown he could think of was his raven crown that now rested on his head. He felt its cold weight on his temples even though he couldn’t recall how he found it. And then his treacherous hand wandered towards the pouch that hung at his belt. The forest. Flowers. Her silver laughter. Warmth in his chest. Enya. Yes. Enya. The sword fell out of his hand. He looked at it in confusion as it lay at his feet, and then his gaze rested on her again. There was something different about her now. He was supposed to remember… something important. The dragon, there was something about the dragon… Trying to grasp at the elusive strands of memory, he looked around, and then he noticed it. Buried under a pile of golden coins. He retrieved it in a blink of an eye.
Finally. The Arkenstone. The great gem shone with an eerie light. His birthright. He was the true king now. 
“Look! This is the only gem I desire! All mine! I am the King Under the Mountain!” he laughed with triumph, his words echoed in the cavern.
Enya stared at her dwarf, her king, her one. With a determined look she stood up and stepped into the light. Her tail was slowly gliding over the coins. The scales all over her body gleamed in a golden glow, while the horns on her forehead drew scary shadows on the walls. 
“Aroha,” she said in a hard tone, “You seem to have forgotten, but I will no longer plead and cry. If you want me gone, want me to leave this place forever, you just have to say the word. Maybe I will go to Dwalin. He seems stronger than you. You are weak, you have fallen for this measly amount of gold and trinkets. You are not able to protect me. You are not even able to look at me and accept me for who I am.” Each word pierced her heart and she fought to keep her voice composed.
“I…” he muttered hoarsely. His eyes wandered to the Arkenstone in his hand. There was a pang of pain in his chest. Dwalin… that name, he knew it. Her words didn’t make sense to his muddled mind, but they filled him with cold fury, puzzling him greatly. It was as if his body grasped a meaning that escaped him.  “I… am… the King!”
“I love you, I do. For me it doesn’t matter if you are a king or a simple blacksmith. I know that this is not the true you, but finding your way back is up to you,” She stepped closer in a quick motion, too quick to be labeled human. 
“You…?” He closed his eyes. Love. Pure, unbounded. Thorin’s body filled with warmth. When his eyelids fluttered open, she stood right in front of him, the golden pools of her eyes filled with tenderness and hope. Those emotions… Another pang of pain pierced his chest. 
There was a large, ornate mirror facing him that rested against a pillar behind her. The fiery creature. He glimpsed into it only to meet his reflection. His eyes widened. His crown. King Thror’s crown. His cloak. His grandfather’s cloak adorned with gold. The Arkenstone in his grandfather’s hand. No, it was his hand. Only his. He was the one to forge his own fate, no one else.
“I am not my grandfather.”
The Arkenstone fell to the ground with a clunk. Thorin looked at his empty hands and then at her. The tiny golden creature still stood there, still watching him intently. And she would have him, just him, not anyone else, unconditionally.
Bilbo had once explained something to her. Something Thorin did not want her to ask anyone of the other dwarrows. Something she was curious about. Kissing. The hobbit had told her why and how the races of Arda kissed. 
And so she did. She kissed the King Under the Mountain. Putting all her love and hope, her sorrow and longing into this kiss. Together with the silent prayer that he may find his way back to her.
Her lips were soft like flower petals and warm as a summer breeze. A rush of memories filled his head, clearing his mind from the dark, treacherous haze. Enya! The forest, her bright smile, the quest, her embraces, his companions, her affectionate touch, the Mountain, the dragons clashing under the night sky, everything came back to him at once.
“Amrâlimê,” he whispered under his breath, pulling her close to him, realizing with unwavering clarity that he finally found home, not only for his people, but also for his heart. Erebor. Enya. The sparks in her eyes, the feeling of her hands at the nape of his neck. He swirled her around him, her dress flowing in the air.
“My love. My Dragon Fairy,” he whispered, peppering her face with a myriad of kisses. Silver laughter rang in the air, bringing hope to his heart.
He was home.
~~ THE END ~~
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Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7 / Chapter 8 / Chapter 9 / Chapter 10 / Chapter 11 / Chapter 12
Thank you for joining us on this journey. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And if you’d like to read more of our stories, you can find our works here on tumblr and on AO3 (AvariaRevallier, Lathalea).
Reblog if you liked the story! Thanks :)
Taglist: @shrimpsthings​​ @fizzyxcustard​ @sherala007​ @elrawienthewhite​​ @amelia307​ @dark-angel-is-back​​
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