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Axe and Bow

A Legolas and Gimli fan archive

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Alien Creatures

by Honesty

Category: General
Rating: R
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: Tolkien created 'em, I'm just borrowing 'em.
Feedback: Yes please!
Summary: A staring match, deep within the mines of Moria.



CHAPTER 1

He is, all things considered, an alien creature.

I have been watching him this whole day through, and he makes no more sense now than he did at its start. He has changed, since we entered Moria. I would almost say that he has grown, were the idea not so laughable.

Dwarves are ridiculous creatures, or so I have always found, hardly worthy of notice were they not so dangerous in battle. They spare no time or energy for graces in either speech or action. Each motion, each sentence is as direct as the swing of an axe. They do not respect the earth with their heavy feet. How can any take seriously such unlovely, ungainly creatures?

So I have always thought; but I have never before seen one under the ground.

He is different here; his every action proclaims it. His movements are always clumsy and ungainly, but here they are surer. He carries himself straighter, and there is a fire in his eyes that is not there in the light of Sun or stars. He has not stumbled once; I begin to suspect he sees as clearly as I do here. Perhaps Dwarves, like Orcs, were made to see clearest in darkness.

When we must climb, he does so with a surety I would have thought impossible for one of his build. Not gracefully, I warrant you - for a Dwarf does nothing with grace - nor quickly, but plainly, directly, with purpose, the way he does all things.

More than that; the rock seems to speak to him. I have seen him listen to his steps, which ring out like bells on our path, and hear messages meaningless to all other kinds. "Quartz," I have heard him mutter, on one short stretch of path, and then add, "but an inferior strain." Always he has it, this atavistic preoccupation with the dead bones of the world, but is that truly to be wondered at? At first I half expected him to bring forth a hammer and test the rock; now I wonder whether he would truly require a hammer to do so.

He is altered here, undeniably, but what is he? An exile, possibly, returning to his homeland? No. Moria never was his home. A traveller, rather, dropping the hesitant accents of foreign speech, and speaking at last in his native tongue.

I saw him, the look in his eyes, when Mithrandir first mentioned Moria to the company. There was a look in them that was like flames of fire in the night. That was the first time I paid him any heed. I have seen such looks before in the eyes of the Elves, when they speak of Eldamar ... but Eldamar, so they say, is wondrous fair beyond all the lands of Middle-Earth, shining with unspeakable light and lacking all the taint of Arda marred. Moria holds no such loveliness. It is dark and dank, far from any living thing, and I feel the taint of evil in the air. Only a race as strange and unaccountable as the Dwarves could hold this forsaken place in reverence, and the Dwarves are strange indeed.

They say that it is a race made almost entirely of menfolk, and there are very few Dwarf-Ladies among them. That, perhaps, is what makes them so cold and dour, when few can wed, and most must live out their lives in unwarmed solitude. Or perhaps it is their coldness that keeps them from bringing forth maid-children; I know not. Perhaps few wish to wed, preferring to spend their days in the company of rocks and metals. Small wonder they live such comfortless lives, when most must spend their days alone.

Or do they not? Do the menfolk of the race lie with each other, perhaps, when no women are to be had? An amusing notion! They are an ungentle, uncouth race, and doubtless unschooled in the fine art of love. One can hardly expect them to find joy in tenderness and warmth, when they love such cold htings. What more fitting for them, than that they should lie together on the floors of their cold rocky caverns, touching each other with callussed hands and hard, bitter mouths, revelling in the chill touch of the stone against their skin?

Is that, perhaps, how *he* takes his pleasures, pinned between flesh and rock? After all, why be content with the touch of a single love, when you can take your pleasures of both? And how-?

Ai! He is *watching* me! And I thought he was sleeping!

Well, let him, then. It is not as if I wish to hide anything from him. He is but a Dwarf, a minor mortal of no account. What should I care that he watches me?

He is altogether a strange and an alien creature, and I care not for him.


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CHAPTER 2

Durin's beard! He is watching me *again*! Will that infernal Elf never leave me be?

I *know* that he finds the very sight of me offensive, for he makes that abundantly clear - but still he will not look away. Illogical creature! Does it give him satisfaction to irritate himself thus? Does he think I'd want an *Elf* watching me all the time?

You would think he could take himself off somewhere else, if he found my presence so offensive - or at least find some other object to stare at - but no! He has to sit there watching me, as though I constitute some kind of personal affront to his dignity.

Elves and their dignities! If I knew what to make of them I'd be a considerably wiser Dwarf than I am. They seem to be little more than a pack of contradiction, fickle as weathervanes. They plunge like lunatics between flippancy and gravity, joy and grief, wisdom, folly and madness, as if stability of any kind is beyond their grasp - or perhaps to prove to us that they are answerable only to their own whims, and have no need of our approval, or even our comprehension. No; they will do as they will do - capricious and fickle as they are - and if any has the gall to look askance at them, they raise their perfect eyebrows at our presumption and become dignified and inscrutable once more.

Enough! Will you *now* stop watching me? I look no different to how I did thirty seconds ago. I am still a Dwarf! We were never made to be comely, and we are certainly not here to be *looked* at.

That's right, you turn away. You do not *have* to watch me - and you certainly do not have to grimace so, to make it obvious that I am repulsive to you. There are fairer sights to rest your eyes on here - but then you probably do not even find the great halls of my people to your liking, do you?

You see them now dark and lonely; but you should have seen them when they were filled with lamps and fires. They would not have been dark then! No, nor cold either, but warm and bright and filled with life and sound. They would have been glorious then!

But he has an Elf's eyes. He should be able to see for himself the fine lines of the walls and roofs, the perfection of the arches and vaulted roofs, the way the carven walls have been worked true to the strengths of the rock. He should not need *light* to be shown the glories of these halls, or the care and patience that went into their making.

But why should I care? He *is* only an Elf, after all. Why *should* I find his disdain hurtful?

Probably because I am meant to, damn him. The problem with the Elves - the main problem, I mean, for there are many - is their own infuriating sense of their own superiority. We are insignificant beside them, so secure are they in their own exalted status as the first-born among the races - the most perfect, the most lovely, the most graceful, the most wise. And we, of course - their lesser brethren - are supposed only to look on them and worship, and feel our own unworthiness in the face of their blinding perfection.

It shames me to utter it even in thought, but I know I feel it. I come from a craftsman's line, and I cannot help but recognise beauty - even the elusive, intangible beauty that *he* possesses. We are *meant* to see them as wonderful, so I suppose I have little choice in the matter. He is - oh, there are no words for it ... but I look at him and - I cannot help it.

But that does not mean I have to like it.

After all, what *is* beauty? If they had faces like ours, how much more harshly we would judge them! We would never *then* stand for their arrogance or their aloofness, the way they spurn us as thoughtlessly as they captivate us. No; we would judge them on their deeds, unswayed by fair faces or sweet words. But they, of course, being *perfect*, are quite free to disdain us as unworthy.

They say it was not always so; but from all I have ever heard, the alliances we have had with them have been infrequent and uneasy, marred by distrust and misunderstanding, and the ever-present sting of their perceived superiority. Seldom, if ever, has true regard existed between the peoples.

They say that such was the regard between Khazad-Dûm and Hollin, I suppose, but that was a very different matter. The elves of Hollin were smiths themselves, not well-dressed wastrels or fickle, unproductive dreamers. In fact -

In fact, there are songs still sung in Erebor of Narvi and Celebrimbor, of their deeds and the great works they wrought together. Close as brothers, the songs say, though of course the songs tell more of the works than their makers. But there are whispered tales that say they were closer still. Narvi was of the stone-wrights of Khazad-Dûm - one of the greatest ever in all that great land, so they tell, and Celebrimbor was said to be highest among the Elven-smiths. And if the whispers are true, they loved as Dwarf and Elf never did before nor will since.

Those Doors! They must have understood each other truly to create such beauty between them. Never had I thought to look on any of their works before we reached the walls of Khazad-Dûm! I could marvel for a lifetime over the grain of the rock that Narvi chose, over their fit and mechanism. And the signs! They would have been engraved first by Narvi, and then the ithildin worked by Celebrimbor - but if the emblems speak true both had a hand in their designing. Never had I thought to see such workmanship!

Never had I thought I would be the last of Durin's folk to look upon them.

Great and true must have been the unity between them, to make such works! None could gainsay a friendship that brought forth such great beauty.

None among the Dwarves, of that I am sure! Though since Celebrimbor is renowned among the Elves chiefly for his ill choice of friends, and the peril it brought on his people I doubt that they share our views. *He* would never countenance such folly, would he?

But I am wasting my time on him. We have far to travel tomorrow, and I should be sleeping, rather than wasting my thoughts on him again. There is no understanding the Elves, and I do not propose even to attempt it. They are unaccountable, capricious, *alien* creatures, and if I am not careful he will drag me into insanity with him.

I shall sleep now, and leave it be - and let him stare at whom he will. *I* will not stare back.

END


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