The Very Private Papers of Gimli, Son of Gloin
I II III IV
Part the First
Well, this is a first.
Father has asked me to accompany him on a trip – a trip of great
importance, or so he says, and I believe him. Never has my father led
me astray and it has been just the two of us for many years now, since
Mother passed away. Her memory still grieves me and I try not to think
on her too often.
Father does, however, when he believes me to be elsewhere, out of
sight. Oftentimes I have seen him lift his final gift to her, a
necklace of wondrous beauty, out of its carven chest and hold it up to
the flickering light of the few candles in his room. I remember how it
adorned her neck, its fair gems little match for her sparkling eyes,
though blue they both were. Sapphires, the finest to be had, set into a
circlet of deep gold, a choker almost. Inscribed upon its inner face
were the words “Your love is the greatest gift.”
Tears often fill his eyes at these times and I steal away, ashamed that
I have witnessed his pain. Dwarves do not show such emotion to others,
even those they love. Those words were, perchance, the first time he
ever wrote such things to her, for all their long years together.
But I digress, as I often do these days. Though I am accounted old by
the reckoning of men, in dwarven years I am still hale and hearty. My
mind, however, tends to wander sometimes…ah, for a war, a battle, a
fierce disagreement! My axes grow dusty and rust with disuse. Thus, I
welcomed this trip, though I do not yet divine its purpose. Father has
affairs yet to put into order, and I know not where we journey to, yet.
I do not care. The fresh air and open fields call to me after so long
in the caverns of the Earth.
Soon the sun will shine upon me and I will turn my face to its warmth and be glad.
“Rivendell?” I was incredulous when Father let slip the name of our
destination. I believe he meant to keep it a secret from me until those
fancy –frothy spires appeared in the distance, but Father has never
been good at keeping secrets. Very open for a dwarf. Most odd. “Father,
let me get you a mug of ale; you must be hallucinating again.” He waved
me off with a sigh. “It is no vision, lad. Rivendell is where we have
been summoned and where we must go.” “Summoned? By whom? Since when do
elves of the valleys summon dwarves of the mountains? It is unheard
of!” I would have gone on, but the look on his face stopped me. “It is
not us alone who are called, Gimli. Men are also bidden by Lord Elrond
of Imladris, and none may turn a deaf ear to this request.”
Lord Elrond – a name known even to us who dwell deep and rarely see
stars or moon. Old was he, a hero of the Last Alliance, when men and
elves together battled the dark forces who spread over the earth like
poison. He did not traffic with elves as a rule, so for him to call us,
his need must be great.
“His need is great, Gimli,” said my father, as always reading my
thoughts. If he was an oddity due to his openness, I was similarly
cursed with a face that reflected my feelings all to clearly, to any
who chanced to look. I have striven to change this all my long years,
to no avail. My mother used to laugh at me as I struggled to keep a
stoney expression in times of dissent. “You are a window, Gimli,” she
would smile lovingly at me. “I can see right through you!” Her, I did
not mind seeing my innermost thoughts, for she loved me. I hoped the
day would not come when face to face with my enemy I failed to disguise
my thoughts sufficiently.
Ah, Mother. Would that you were here to smooth the worry from Gloin’s face and bring him the joy he had had with you once again.
As I said before, I digress and must be pardoned. Even though these are
but my own papers, it is possible, however remotely, that someday they
will be found and read. I do not mind, for nothing I have ever done in
my life bears me shame. I only hope they are never discovered to be
bound in fancy vellum and displayed as a curiousity in some elf’s airy
library. I doubt highly that my simple words and coarse lifestyle would
be of any interest to the "Firstborn”; but one can never know what
shall pass when final darkness falls on us all.
Father waited patiently as I digested my thoughts. We dwarves are used
to silence, time to ruminate, and think. We are falsely thought of as
being brash, impulsive and thick-headed. All Elvish propaganda, I say.
We are simple people of action and decision. “Elrond has called us for
a very specific purpose, my son. The Ring of Power has been found.”
I sat down, suddenly and quite hard, though I did not feel it then.
“Sauron’s ring?” I was not pleased to hear my voice squeak like a
youngster’s over that phrase. “I thought- I mean, the ring is a legend
only…isn’t it?” “I fear not, son,” said Father, looking suddenly very
tired. “The Elf has no reason to lie.”
“We will speak more of this on the morrow, “ he said then, getting to
his feet heavily. “I am tired now. “ He smiled at me and patted my
shoulder with his huge hand. “Do not fret, Gimli. You may find that
Rivendell is much like that beautiful place you dreamt of once upon a
time.” I couldn’t believe that he remembered that, for it was years and
years ago. But for form’s sake I grumbled, “I highly doubt it, Father.”
His eyes twinkled at me and he lumbered out of the room to his own,
leaving me sitting by the dying fire and trying vainly to recall that
most welcoming of dreams.
The intervening days passed swiftly and it was not long before we found
ourselves ready to depart our home to travel to a strange place filled
with persons with an overly-developed sense of self-importance. Though
the thought of travel and time with my father cheered me, I could not
for the life of me imagine how we would fare in Rivendell. The elves
have never forgiven the dwarves for some sort of disagreement over some
elven necklace. It does not surprise me that elves would discount an
entire race for the sake of jewelry; I have always seen them as shallow
folk. I hear the women are quite lovely, though – that is, if you can
tell them from the men….
I must try to keep my personal thoughts to myself, lest I embarrass or
shame my father, which I would never wish to do. Already this morning
he has eyed my luggage with some amusement, noticing, but not
commenting upon, the many axes I am taking. I am sure he does not feel
I will need them, but I say it has been many years since we traveled
the open roads and one cannot be too careful. If the Ring has indeed
been found, it is certain that dark deeds are afoot and Sauron’s
minions abroad…and I would far rather tote a heavier load in peace than
be without my weapons in battle.
It is amazing to me that I may soon see the One Ring, a relic shrouded
in legend and lore. Many times has my father told me the story of the
great king Elendil and his son, Isildur, who cut the ring from Sauron’s
hand, and how Isildur paid for his folly with his life. Power. I do not
understand the lust for it, and never have; we dwarves have never
yearned for what we cannot hold in our hand.
The trip shall be long, for we are far from the land where the elves
hide…or rather, dwell, and dwarves do not move overly fast as a rule.
But we can make good time if we keep to the old paths and all too soon,
we shall cross the long bridge that leads from reality to Rivendell.
Many have been called, and many will come, for Father says none are to
refuse this “invitation.” It is the fate of the world we decide here,
he says, and such words fill me with…not fear, for I fear very little
in this world, but…trepidation, unease. Yes, those words fit the bill.
I can not think of more than what has been. And I cannot imagine what
agreement that a council of men, elves and dwarves can possibly come
to. In this sense I must admit that though I wish we were going
elsewhere, I am intrigued to see what comes of this.
But in the end, what I think is of little import, for it is my father’s
wisdom they seek, and he who I go to support. I will have no part in
the fate of the Ring or Dark Lords. We will go, listen, offer what
advice we can and come home. Men and elves created this problem, and
they alone must solve it. We can do nothing.
However, the time is nigh for us to leave, so I will set aside paper
and pen and ready myself to leave. It is funny how this dear old home
suddenly looks more comforting than ever. It beckons to me.
But no matter. We will be back soon enough. And life will go on.
It was a long and wearying trip to get here, four days of steady travel
over roads and paths long since abandoned. Although it felt good to get
out and stretch our legs a bit, I was soon reminded that months of
sitting around fires with mugs of rich ale and good meat, while
enjoyable, was not very conducive to long travel by foot. By the
morning of the second day, my feet ached and my pack chafed. I did not
complain, though – dwarves do not complain, the simply endure. And I
was reminded many times over the course of those days, that my father
was not as young as he once was. Though he also uttered no word of
complaint, I could see the strain of the journey in the lines around
As it were, we were two very tired dwarves when the spires I had
imagined came into sight. The arching bridge we trod in Rivendell was
surprisingly plain, and I began to think that there was perhaps hope
for the architecture yet; however, that hope was dashed once we passed
through the rock-hewn gates and entered the courtyard of Lord Elrond of
What a sight that was! Spires, towers, statues, carvings, candles and
light everywhere! And the colors! Soft brick, pink, gold, ivory…
filigreed and embroidered and every item decorated to the utmost.
I would have lost my lunch…if I had had any.
I looked over at my father as we stood in this overdone paradise and
saw the smile he hid in his beard as he gazed upon our surroundings. I
could tell that he was thinking much the same thoughts as I, but was
far more adept at not showing them.
Suddenly the courtyard was ablaze with lights, as the sun dipped behind
rock and was replaced with literally dozens of lamps, which sprang into
life simultaneously. I must grudgingly admit that I found that
My father elbowed me in the ribs and nodded towards the stairs, which
had quietly become lined with elves, all remote and looking as if
carved in ice. At the top of the steps stood a tall and regal-looking
elf, clad in robes of pale gray and mercifully unadorned, save for the
silver circlet around his head. “Lord Elrond” whispered Father, and at
that, I attempted to stand a little straighter – no small task as my
back was wearied by the pack I carried and the distance we had traveled.
He came down the stairs to greet us, with hands held out and a warm
smile for Gloin, whom, I was to learn, he had talked much over the long
years of both their lives. In fact, I would learn much of my father
during our time in the Elf’s house. Taking both hands in his own,
Elrond greeted my father with fair words, which were none the less
sincere for their fairness. I stood beside him, trying not to shift my
weight from foot to foot, nor fidget like a child. After what seemed an
eternity of greeting – curse these elves and their flowery speech –
Elrond turned to me and smiled, prompting Father to introduce me. I was
heartened by the obvious pride in Father’s voice as he presented me.
There is no child, no matter how old or how young who does not secretly
crave its parent’s approval – and I am no different. Elrond greeted me
with less flower, for which I was grateful; perhaps he sensed my
impatience. Whatever the reason, he was satisfied with few words.
It was at that time that the sole redeeming feature of the elven realm
made her appearance. Elrond’s daughter, Lady Arwen Undomiel of
surpassing beauty, glided out from behind her father and smiled down at
us. And let me tell you now, that smile was more dazzling than any
light I have ever before seen. And she, at least, had some common
sense, gently chiding her father for keeping us standing so long when
we must be both tired and hungry. Ahh, finally!
She led us into the great hall of Elrond, which was further festooned,
garnished and draped, and into a room warm with a great fire and a
table set elegantly, but laden with food. And dwarvish food it was, as
well…roasts and bread, ale in great quantities, fruit and cakes of all
kinds. I could have cared less for the niceties, but mindful of whose
company I kept, I ate well, but with as much decorum as I could muster.
My mug was ever full, though the conversation was not much to my
interest…but then again, I confess that my interest was limited at that
time to cleaning the bones I held of any shred of meat.
Forgetting where I was, I stopped every now and again to wipe my mouth
on my sleeve; that is, until I caught the eye of the Lady Arwen and saw
her small smile as I attempted to catch the juice from my meal before
it was lost forever in my fine big beard. Embarrassed, I looked down at
my plate and saw that it was heaped with bones and remnants. To one
side, I saw a rectangular piece of linen that I had heretofore ignored.
Glancing around me, I saw that the other guests were using the cloth to
daintily dab their lips after every few bites. “What wasted motion,” I
thought, but after a second look at the Lady, I decided to do my best
to observe the customs of this place, prim though they may be.
Dinner finished, I sat on the outside steps for a pipe and took great
pleasure in gusting clouds of smoke towards the heavens. The air was
crisp and cool, and felt good after the warmth of the hall. Replete
with food and drink, I was more than ready for rest. Gloin was nowhere
to be found, having retired to the Elf Lord’s study for talk and more
wine. Let them speak far into the night, if they wished; I was content.
Or I should say, as content as I could be in a place so foreign to me.
“May I join you, Master Gimli?” sang a sweet voice near me. I nearly
jumped out of my skin, and startled, looked up into the face of the
Lady Arwen smiling down at me. “But of course, my lady,” I mumbled,
casting about for something soft for her to sit upon. I am not without
manners, regardless of what others may think. However, there was
nothing present, save a swag of fabric draped across the archway…and
somehow I doubted that my hosts would take kindly to me tearing it
down, even for a lady’s cushion. I wondered why it was she sought me
out, and I hoped that the abundant ale had not overly loosed my tongue.
She settled her skirts around her and sank down near me. Somewhat
regretfully, I put my pipe aside so no smoke would drift near her. “I
have heard it said that the dwarves have rough manners,” she said “but
I can hardly find it true of you and your father. More gentlemanly folk
I have rarely seen.” “We dwarves are seldom what we seem,” I replied.
“It helps keep others off guard, you see. Makes us a more dangerous
enemy.” She smiled. “And a more intriguing friend.”
We were both silent then, looking up at the stars, which blazed in the
night sky far more brilliantly here than I had ever seen before. After
a bit, in a hushed voice, the Lady spoke of the Valar, and their Queen,
Varda, the Lady of the Stars, and how the stars had come into being. I
had not heard the tale before, and listened eagerly, for Arwen was as
lovely to listen to as to look at, and for a bit, I contented myself
with doing both.
It was in those moments that I first noticed the Evenstar, which hung
about her neck. It caught the glimmer of the stars and held it fast,
until the reflected light filled her face with a glow that truly was
beyond this world. As if in a dream, I remembered a story my mother had
told me long ago…of the Silmarils, the most wondrous gems ever created,
and the light they held inside them. Long battles were fought over
those gems and lives lost for their sake. But as I looked upon her, I
saw that truly, those lost lights were alive again in the face of this
Ere the stars slept and morning cast its first paleness on the land, I
took my leave of she that was so fair and found the room appointed to
me. Gratefully, I laid myself down to rest.
And my dreams were filled with starlight.