At the call of the young dwarf a fair elf would glance up from her work, blonde hair falling around her shoulders, and would give a faint smile as she slid her hands to her hips. Her name was Seldanna a young elvish healer within the village of this coastal elves. It was almost a necessity within this terrain, as dangers lurked almost anywhere from the drakes that inhabited the mountains, to the wild boars that tore up the landscape. The land was rough so injuries were a regular occurrence and Seldanna often went to their neighboring Dwarves to help treat them. "Defeat another one have we? This makes 3 so far this annual." She stated watching the dwarf haul the drake from the pony’s back.
Ailis would smirk as she stood there, "Well they keep coming after the herds" she stated as she looked back at the dead creature, "I did the best I could to make sure it didn't bleed out, as their blood helps with burns." it was rather interesting that the best cure to 'burns' was dragon blood considering that the beasts breathed fire it was only natural that something within them also 'cured' it
"Thanks very much." Seldanna said smiling towards her friend as she wiped her hands on her apron, having dealt with quite a bit today and drakes were the least on her mind.
"well it’s for all the times you helped us, including me with what you did two winters ago," she said happily as she watched the elves go and gather the drake and she smiled, "the ships should be returning any day as well" she stated smiling. "A raven from Erebor arrived as well earlier, seems my kin are reaching out to us...not sure why"
"Coming all the way out here? That's quite the journey." She said as she watched the elves prep the drake carcass. "Will you be going out to greet them?"
"Perhaps, depends if something else comes up.... we are different than our kin they hide in the dirt you know" She said with a roll of her eyes, pushing her hair behind her ear some, the section that normally had a braid linked through it but today like several other times she was without it. "they are strange.... they use the stone they dig from the ground to make armor.... but nothing is stronger than drake hide"
"Perhaps that could be why. They seek your knowledge in drake armor." She said. "Come in side and have something to eat or drink as my thanks"
"they would have to take to the crafters, I just hunt it" she said with a small smile as she stepped through the door, "so how have things been? you've been rather busy lately with the healing are the forests been unruly?"
"Strangely yes. But it's nothing we can't handle." She said. "It’s odd though, these dark creatures appearing from the north making their homes in our forests." The Great Spiders, also known as the Spawn of Ungoliant, a race of oversized and sentient arachnids that lived in Middle-Earth, particularly in dark and perilous places affected by the power of the Shadow which was growing as the darkness spread across the land.
"well a war just ended perhaps they were chased out.... I’m sure you can figure it out" she said happily with a smirk. "if ya want I can help ya, I’ve never faced a dark beastie before"
"And I'm sure you could handle a drake very well my friend, but these beasties are a bit different than that." She said and moved a draping curtain out of their path to reveal a rather large and very dead spider. Like most spiders, it had spindly legs, multiple eyes, and venomous chelicerae. Using their stingers, it would immobilized their prey with a paralyzing sting that enabled them to feed on victims at leisure, but could also crush their prey to death by swiftly dropping on them, each one of them had several eyes upon their head. It’s been said that these creatures paralyze victims and trap them in webs, keeping them alive for some time before killing them.
"These foul creatures are making their homes in our trees and leaving a trail of rotting foliage behind them. As if their hides seep out a poison."
Ailis upon seeing the creature jumped back in shock, looking over at Seldanna as she stood there so calmly…so elegantly without a hint of fear but just a ping of remorse that the creature died regardless of how dark and deadly it was. "Such....darkness I can sense just form here.... are here coming from the plains?..how are you even fairing with dealing with these things?”
Seldanna would glance at her friend, noticing her reaction but seemed to just sigh softly "No, from the far mountains. We sent scouts out to follow their path back to see if they can stop them at their source." She said. "But their venom is proving useful. They have a stinger at their base that once stung, it's prey goes into a deep sleep and feels no pain. Useful into helping treat the more seriously injured. But their fangs, once they bite you releases a venom that breaks down your insides." She said as she pointed to the fangs and stinger.
"interesting.... any way to get ahold of that venom? we could use that on some of the bigger drakes since we keep dealing with the little ones" she said looking over the fangs and stingers, but kept a fair distance back. Seldanna smiled reaching over to a nearby table and brought forth a small box containing many small viles of yellowish liquid “Already thought about that for you Ailis”, the young dwarf dam would chuckle looking the box over and then the viles “always too good to me as always, but if these creatures are coming far mountains they are treading through a lot of elven lands...if the maps haven’t changed the murkwood is the main area it seems" "Yes.....they may have stopped in the murk wood as well. Near your kins mountain I believe." She said before leading her away from the medical wing and the giant spider, back to the horses. Ailis glanced once more back to the creature then towards her pony "well if there’s anything my clan and I can to help with hem let me know...the elders always are thankful for the weapons you trade to us so anything we can do to help would be grateful." she stated, "but if they stopped in the murkwood don't your people have a settlement building there?"
"Yes, the late king Orephor founded a new kingdom their when Bealor fell. His son, king Thranduil now rules the wood now." She said after they were back outside. "And we are thankful to you and yours for the food and armor. May the winds be warm in your travel home." She said and helped her friend back onto the pony." The young dwarf gripped the reins of her pony, it was one of those mountain horses so it was used to the wild rocky terrain of course they were not like the horses the elves had but still well adopted to this area. "well ill warn my clan of the spiders let them know not to let them baddies take a bite" she said holding her new treasures, "I’ll be back in a few days just to say hi as always" she grinned "and to also chart a course for the wagons caring in the fresh fish and goods they got across the seas"
"I'll have your favorites made up for you." She said and smiled at her friend and waved her off before turning to go back inside after she watched her friend ride off. She would go back to her tasks of treating what wounded there were as well as studying and collecting what she needed from the dragon and spider
~Deep within the Forest~
The sun was starting to set, causing the already forested terrain to get dark and for the group of dwarves it wasn't a good sign specially in this area that was unknown to them, "Thorin we need to find shelter soon, it’s getting dark and neither one of us know this area..." before much could be said a deep roar could be heard, "that's...not a good..." he stated a bit unsure "I’v heard this area is full of creatures like drakes....dwarf eaters" "Let’s quicken pace and seek a shelter. Let us avoid caves incase their infested." He said to his longtime friend, Dwalin.
He nodded moving after his prince, though as they kept moving the sound of hooves could be heard and soon a pony raced through but with someone on its back. Ailis turned as she heard the startled yell of another as she blinked turning her head to glance at the group. Looking them over she would shake her head "you do realize your a near a drake nest don ya?" she stated off handly
"We are the delegates of Erebor. So, as we are not from this area, no." He said with slight annoyance at the drawrven dam that had nearly run him down. His annoyed scowl went away however as another, louder roar sounded. "But by the growing noise it is become more apparent"
She sat there and rolled her eyes, "follow me then, though move quickly the sun sets fast and no dwarf nor elf want to be caught out here at dark" she said quickly as she dismounted from her pony and pulled the creature with her. Balin glanced at his brother then to the silent prince "come along brothers, the lady is being generous to lead us to a warm fire"
Thorin nodded to them to follow the lady dwarf. "What being a dam like yourself out into drake infested hill lass?" Dwalin asked with a firm grip on his battle hammer
“This dam took one of those drakes to the elven settlement for trade" she stated as her pony wasn't even startled by the roars of the drakes having been so used to going into battle against the drakes several times. "and that hammer will do you little good.... a fine point sword is the only thing that will dig though the scales" "Still crush a skull well enough." He said. "You seem to be well versed in drakes. Are they common in this area?" Thorin asked
"you get close to a fire spewing drake and tell me about it sometime" she stated simply and pushed herself up as she climbed up a small incline before they would make their way down towards the coast. "common enough they stay to the higher peaks thus why both my clan and the elves reside closer to coast and forest areas" "Didn't know elves would reside this close to the sea unless they were ready to leave these shores." Thorin pondered "When you run the risk of living with drakes you tend to forgo the standards" she replied as they were soon moving down a well-worn path. "we should be to my village soon, this is the main path to it" off in the distance they could see the settlement the glow of fires calling to them. The better light also showed what she was wearing no metal armor it was either cloth or hard leather, she had white markings on her face a line of dots beneath both eyes and then a line of dots across her forehead. Her hair hung freely no braids or pins. "welcome to Dragor"
Thorin froze for a split second but long enough for Dwalin to notice who playfully nudged his prince before they continued to move on. The rest of the way to the village was spent in silence and Thorin giving Ailis sideways glances. "Ailis! There you be lass, started to wonder if the drakes finally made a meal of you or the elves made off with you." Said a man at a make shift wall and opened gate. "Who is this with ya?'
"Evening Jarth, and nah those drakes should know better than to mess with me" she stated chuckling, then glanced back at the others. "These are the kin from Erebor, the fools thought staying in the forest at night would be wise" she said making the gate keeper laugh, "not too bright are ya lads?, ill get the gate opened for ya lass" he would wave his hand as the groan of the wooden door began to open and she moved forward, "come on I'm sure your starving after a long travel" "This how you treat all delegates or just the prince of the seven kingdoms?" Dwalin asked a bit peeved at the lack of respect his friend and prince was receiving. Thorin put a hand in his friend’s shoulder. "Calm my friend. It doesn't matter for we are all cut from the same stone that mahal carved us from and besides, the Dwarves of Dragor may have a different way of living and customs then others."
"Prince, lord or anything in between to us is the same everyone pulls their weight no fancy titles nothing....you were warned in our response not to travel at night and were even advised of the elvish settlement that would have welcomed you....for me to call you idiots is the nice way to put it" she stated back towards Dwalin, before she turend and kept walking "keep going up that way the elders will see to your board and that your fed I need to take my pony back to the stables"
The three watched her and balin sighed wistfully. "Quite the lasses they have here....i would be sorely tempted if I were about 60 years younger..." the oldest member said and chuckled as he slapped a hand in the princes shoulder. "Come lads, let's see to a meal and bed." He said and lead them from the gate
As they journeyed through the village they noticed very different changes from what they knew, instead of great buildings carved from stone, they were built from the rocks along the coast or timber from the forest. Lots of hides from their kills hung on racks drying out along with herbs and various other plants. If there was a smith, they used more of the animal carcass of bones and claws. Any weapons they could tell were elvish make clear gifts from the elves. The main 'building' sat at the center and an older dwarf stood there before bowing "Welcome Son of Thrain and Prince of Erabor Thorin....tis an honor to have you come to our village I trust.... your journey was naught without some adventure"
"Thank you, Horvath, son of Novath, for having us in your village. Yes, our journey was.... certainly educational." He said with an easy smile. "My comrades, Balin and Dwalin, sons of Fundin, my advisor and head guard."
Horvath nodded his head and would bow his head to the other two, "welcome all of you, please come on in we've set up rooms for you all as well as a hot meal" he stated, another female dwarf would walk up to them though her hair was black and twisted into some braids but still free flowing in other places and lacking armor. She had facial tattoos "please come this way, I’ll take you to your rooms to get settled before your meal". Balin noticed the women had similar facial markings as the other girl as he would speak "you wouldn't have a daughter with blonde hair would you dear?" "Your meaning Ailis....yes she’s my youngest much like her father and brothers she’s a fine warrior we have here in Dragor" "She is...quite the young lady." Thorin said softly as she leads them their rooms. "You must be very proud of her."
Her mother would notice that tone and she chuckled, "I'm proud of all my children, I only fear that she'll never find a husband she’s far too stubborn" she stated as she soon moved to a door pushing it open, "we only have two rooms, Lord Dwalin and Balin I do have you do not mind sharing" she stated, before motioning to the other door "that one there is for you, young prince"
"We'll manage just fine miss. Thank you kindly." Balin said and bowed to her in kind. "Thank you for your kindness my lady. But I'm sure she will find someone. A dwarf with his stones could see he would be honored to have her or was blind." He said and eyed the prince’s reaction
She laughed, "Thank you young prince, but Ailis has always gone her own path I would not be surprised if one day she leaves and travels the lands" she stated before leaving allowing them to settle in. When dinner was ready they could already hear quiet the commotion a typical dwarf fashion as music and ale passed through the hall. Ailis was there wearing a simple dress, and her hair freshly brushed with a braid twisted down the side that had the Dragor pendant hanging from it, "I can't believe you lost your pendant to a drake again." her mother stated with a laugh, "and that you cut your hair" "it was burnt mother why wouldn't I have? and its just hair"
"You know to most drawven dams cutting your hair or beard is a great shame in one’s family name." Said Horvath as he walked up to them. "Our guests may question it. But they also might not notice too much considering it's still a good length.
She rolled her eyes, "Regardless of it or not grandfather, why would I walk around with burnt hair it stinks and is in no way a mark of honor" she stated shaking her head, her mother looked to her father and would speak "I'm sure they won’t notice father I did make her re-braid her hair for them that part I will not let up on young lass" "yes mother" Ailis stated with a heavy sigh, "I do hope you’re not trying to marry me off...with making me show up to this"
"Oh, no dear, wouldn’t dream of it." She chuckled and winked at her daughter. Once settled and cleaned up, Thorin joined his comrades in meeting their hosts for the evening meal. Ailis would glare at her mother, till she would hear the servants speak that their guests were coming and she sighed. Standing up she would shift some, pulling at her clothing some as the group walked in Balin would smile "Aye this be a lovely sight" he stated motioning to Ailis's mother who chuckled "you are quiet the charmer Lord Balin, we've prepared quiet the feast for you I do hope you do not all mind fish and wild boar....Ailis why don't you go and get our guests some ale as well" Ailis sighed and would nod her head, stepping form them and over towards the large kegs that held the Ale.
"You are a kind and gracious hostess My lady." Thorin said after having collected his thoughts after watching Ailis walk off. "your village is very different than most we have seen; can you tell us more about it? why did you choose to settle here?"
Horvath would stroke his beard some in thought before speaking "our ancestors settled here due to the richness of the land here as well as the easy access to the water for fresh fish" he stated simply watching Thorin some as he eyed his granddaughter, and he would then speak again. "We do not see the need nor have the urge to dig into the mountain for ore and metals, the land provides us with what we need and the hide of a drake or even a dragon is far more nightery than anything we could craft from the ore of the mountain...." He would motion to several of the hides and trophies that lined the walls, "The elves aid us as well as we aide them, a dragons blood cures quite a bit of ailments"
"Mahal himself must bless your clan to be hearty enough to battle drakes or dragons on such a regular basis. But why stay here so close to their nesting grounds if they are such a menace? would you not feel safer in an area away from them?
"they are our lively hood" Ailis stated as she came back towards them holding the mugs and set them down. "Meat, tools, armor, weapons, they provide it.... but we don't kill them all the time only when the young journey to close. I kill maybe...3 a year, sometimes that's all that show up." she stated simply and would then step away as her grandfather sighed. "I wonder why the gods made you a woman with how you are sometimes Ailis, you would have made a fine man" "After 8 sons the gods finally gave me a daughter I will have no other but my Ailis" her mother said proudly
dwalin nearly sputtered his ale. "8? Un heard of...." "Truly you are blessed.... No other dam I have met has had so many.....most families are lucky to have as most as two...." Balin added. "yes, we are a very healthy clan.... And all of my sons that have found their partners have been so far just as blessed, I am going to become a Grandmother to my 7th grandchild." She said with a beaming smile. "My last one to marry is my darling Ailis."
Ailis would sit down in her chair, "and it will stay that way for a long time mother" she stated firmly as she sat there and took a deep breath and Horvath chuckled "as firry as her mother, and as the very drakes she slays" "I rather am proud of that grandfather, considering no other male in this whole clan dares go into the beasts caves and kill them in their home" "and that is why you nearly died two winters ago" "It was a scratch" "a scratch that laid you up for months! Seldanna is a saint for being able to save your life, let alone your eye." her mother said with a cross look.
"Is Seldanna your healer here?" "An elf healer in the forest on the other side of the mountain pass." Horvath said. "The two are good friends and often aide each other in their ventures. She’s a very wise elvin healer and has saved a good many lives and limbs in both our village and their settlement with her unusual practices of using the beasts that hurt us, to heal us."
"I can still see from it" she stated her hair slightly hanging in her face but as she pushed it aside Thorin would see the scar over her eye hidden by the facial markings she had but it still was there. "Seldanna has proven her wroth as has many of her kin, she even gave me a gift today venom from spiders that can kill a drake without a fight"
Horvath listened to his daughter and grandchild as the two argued some before speaking "Seldanna's kin are similar to many of the elves you know but their craft lies in healing arts but their weapons are remarkable so we trust their craft as they trust ours when it comes to hides"