The Very Private Papers of Gimli, Son of Gloin

by NorthStar
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.

Part Second

“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.

Part Third

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.

Part Fourth

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 his eyes.

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 Imladris.

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 impressive.

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 elven princess.

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.