The Dwarves are a race apart. Of their strange beginning, and why they are both like and unlike Elves and Men, strange tales are told both by the Eldar and by the Dwarves themselves; but of these tales the lesser Elves of Middle-earth had no knowledge, while the tales of later Men are confused with memories of other races. Since these things lie far back beyond our days, little is said of them here. They are a tough, thrawn race for the most part, secretive, laborious, retentive of the memory of injustices (and of benefits), lovers of stone, of gems, of things that take shape under the hands of the craftsmen rather than of things that live by their own life. But they are not evil by nature, and few ever served the Enemy of free will, whatever the tales of Men may have alleged. For Men of old lusted after their wealth and the work of their hands, and there has been enmity between the races.
But in the Third Age close friendship still was found in many places between Men and Dwarves; and it was according to the nature of the Dwarves that, traveling and laboring and trading about the lands, as the did after the destruction of their ancestral mansions, they should use the languages of men among whom they dwelt. Yet in secret (a secret which unlike the Elves, they did not willingly unlock, even to their friends) they used their own strange tongue, changed little by the years; for it had become a tongue of lore rather than a cradle-speech, and they tended it and guarded it as a treasure of the past. Few of other race have succeeded in learning it. In this history it appears only in such place-names as Gimli Glóin’s son revealed to his companions; and in the battle-cry which he uttered in the siege of the Hornburg. That at least was not secret, and had been heard on many a field since the world was young. Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd aimênu! “Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!”
Gimli’s own name, however, and the names of all his kin, are of Northern (Mannish) origin. Their own secret and “inner” names, their true names, the Dwarves have never revealed to any one of alien race. Not even on their tombs do they inscribe them.
Durin is the name that the Dwarves used for the eldest of the Seven Fathers of their race, and the ancestor of all the kings of the Longbeards. He slept alone, until in the deeps of time and the awakening of that people he came to Azanulbizar, and in the caves above Kheledzâram in the east of the Misty Mountains he made his dwelling, where afterwards were the Mines of Moria renowned in song.
There he lived so long that he was known far and wide as Durin the Deathless. Yet in the end he died before the Elder Days had passed, and his tomb was in Khazad-dûm; but his line never failed, and five times an heir was born in his House so like to his Forefather that he received the name of Durin. He was indeed held by the Dwarves to be the Deathless that returned; for they have many strange tales and beliefs concerning themselves and their fate in the world.
After the end of the First Age, the power and wealth of Khazad-dûm was much increased; for it was enriched by many people and much lore and craft when the ancient cities of Nogrod and Belegost in the Blue Mountains were ruined at the breaking of Thangorodrim. Around the fortieth year of the Second Age, many Dwarves left their old cities in Ered Luin to go to Moria and swell its numbers. Later, some of the Noldor went to Eregion, upon the west of the Misty Mountains, and near to the West-gate of Moria. This they did because they learned that mithril had been discovered in Moria. The Noldor were great craftsmen and less unfriendly to the Dwarves than the Sindar; but even the friendship that grew up between the people of Durin and the Elven-smiths of Eregion was the closest that there has ever been between the two races. Celebrimbor was lord of Eregion and the greatest of their craftsmen; he was descended from Fëanor. The power of Moria endured throughout the Dark Years and the dominion of Sauron, for though Eregion was destroyed and the gates of Moria were shut in 1697, the halls of Khazad-dûm were too deep and strong and filled with a people too numerous and valiant for Sauron to conquer from without.
The Dwarves hid themselves in deep places, guarding their hoards; but when evil began to stir again and dragons reappeared, one by one their ancient treasures were plundered, and they became a wandering people. Moria for long remained secure, thus its wealth remained long unravished, though its people began to dwindle until many of its vast mansions became dark and empty.
Around the year 1300 of the Third Age, Orcs increased in the Misty Mountains and began to attack the Dwarves.
It came to pass that in the middle of the Third Age, Durin (born 1731) was again its king, being the sixth of that name. The power of Sauron, servant of Morgoth, was then again growing in the world, though the Shadow in the Forest that looked towards Moria was not yet known for what it was. All evil things were stirring. The Dwarves delved deep at that time, seeking beneath Barazinbar for mithril, the metal beyond price that was becoming yearly ever harder to win. Thus they roused from sleep (or released from prison; it may well be that it had already been awakened by the malice of Sauron) a thing of terror that, flying from Thangorodrim, had lain hidden at the foundations of the earth since the coming of the Host of the West: a Balrog of Morgoth. Durin was slain by it in 1980, and the year after Náin I, his son (born 1832); and then the glory of Moria passed, and its people were destroyed or fled far away.
Most of those that escaped made their way into the North, and in 1999 Thráin I (Náin’s son, born 1934) came to Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, near the eastern eaves of Mirkwood, and there he began new works, and became King under the Mountain. In Erebor he found the great jewel, the Arkenstone, Heart of the Mountain. He died in 2190, and Thorin I (his son, born 2035) removed in 2210 and went into the far North to the Grey Mountains, where most of Durin’s folk were now gathering; for those mountains were rich and little explored. Thorin died in 2289, and his son Glóin (2136-2485) ruled after him, then his son Óin (2238-2488) and grandson Náin II (2338-2585) in their turns. It was in the time of Óin, about 2480, that Orcs began to make secret strongholds in the Misty Mountains so as to bar all the passes, and Sauron began to people Moria with his creatures. And in the time of Náin there were dragons reappearing in the wastes in the far North beyond the Grey Mountains; and after many years, they became strong again and multiplied, and they made war on the Dwarves, and plundered their works. At last, in 2589, Dáin I (born 2440) together with Frór (his second son, born 2552) was slain at the door of his hall by a great cold-drake.
Not long after, in 2590, most of Durin’s Folk abandoned the Grey Mountains. Grór (Dáin’s third son, 2563-2805) went away with many followers to the Iron Hills; but Thrór (Dáin’s heir, born 2542) with Borin (his father’s brother, 2450-2712) and the remainder of the people returned to Erebor. To the Great Hall of Thráin, Thrór brought back the Arkenstone, and he and his folk prospered and became rich, and they had the friendship of all Men that dwelt near. For they made not only things of wonder and beauty, but weapons and armor of great worth; and there was great traffic of ore between them and their kin in the Iron Hills. Thus the Northmen who lived between Celduin (River Running) and Carnen (Redwater) became strong and drove back all enemies from the East; and the Dwarves lived in plenty, and there was feasting and song in the Halls of Erebor.
So the rumor of the wealth of Erebor spread abroad and reached the ears of the dragons, and at last Smaug the Golden, greatest of the dragons of his day, arose and, without warning, came against King Thrór in 2770 and descended on the Mountain in flames. It was not long before all that realm was destroyed, and the town of Dale near by was ruined and deserted; but Smaug entered into the Great Hall and lay there upon a bed of gold.
From the sack and the burning, many of Thrór’s kin escaped; and last of all, from the halls by a secret door, came Thrór himself and his son Thráin II (born 2644). They went away south with their family into long and homeless wandering. With them went also a small company of their kinsmen and faithful followers, among whom were the children of Thráin II: Thorin (Oakenshield, born 2746), Frerin (born 2751), and Dís (born 2760). Thorin was then a youngster in the reckoning of the Dwarves. It was afterwards learned that more of the Folk under the Mountain had escaped than was at first hoped; but most of these went to the Iron Hills.
Years afterwards, in 2790, Thrór, now old, poor, and desperate, gave to his son Thráin the one great treasure he still possessed, the last of the Seven Rings, and then he went away with one old companion only, called Nár.
Of the Ring, he said to Thráin at their parting: “This may prove the foundation of new fortune for you yet, though that seems unlikely. But it needs gold to breed gold.”
“Surely you do not think of returning to Erebor?” said Thráin.
“Not at my age,” said Thrór. “Our vengeance on Smaug I bequeath to you and your sons. But I am tired of poverty and the scorn of Men. I go to see what I can find.”
He did not say where.
He was a little crazed, perhaps with age and misfortune and long brooding on the splendor of Moria in his forefathers’ days; or the Ring, it may be, was turning to evil now that its master was awake, driving him to folly and destruction. From Dunland, where he was then dwelling, he went north with Nár, and they crossed the Redhorn Pass and came down into Azanulbizar.
When Thrór came to Moria, the Gate was open. Nár begged him to beware, but he took no heed of him, and walked proudly in as an heir that returns. But he did not come back. Nár stayed near by for many days in hiding. One day he heard a loud shout and the blare of a horn, and a body was flung out on the steps.
Fearing that it was Thrór, he began to creep near, but there came a voice from within the gate: “Come on, beardling! We can see you. But there is no need to be afraid today. We need you as a messenger.”
Then Nár came up, and found that it was indeed the body of Thrór, but the head was severed and lay face downwards.
As he knelt there, he heard orc-laughter in the shadows, and the voice said: “If beggars will not wait at the door, but sneak in to try thieving, that is what we do to them. If any of your people poke their foul beards in here again, they will fare the same. Go and tell them so! But if his family wish to know who is now king here, the name is written on his face. I wrote it! I killed him! I am the master!”
Then Nár turned the head and saw, branded on the brow in Dwarf-runes so that he could read it, the name AZOG. That name was branded in his heart and in the hearts of all the Dwarves afterwards.
Nár stooped to take the head, but the voice of Azog said: “Drop it! Be off! Here’s your fee, beggar-beard.”
A small bag struck him. It held a few coins of little worth.
Weeping, Nár fled down the Silverlode; but he looked back once and saw that Orcs had come from the gate and were hacking up the body and flinging the pieces to the black crows.
Such was the tale that Nár brought back to Thráin; and when he had wept and torn his beard, he fell silent. Seven days he sat and said no word.
Then he stood up and said: “This cannot be borne!”
That was the beginning of the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs, which was long and deadly, and fought for the most part in deep places beneath the earth.
Thráin at once sent messengers bearing the tale, north, east, and west; but it was three years before the Dwarves had mustered their strength. Durin’s Folk gathered all their host, and they were joined by great forces sent from the Houses of other Fathers; for this dishonor to the heir of the Eldest of their race filled them with wrath. When all was ready, they assailed and sacked, one by one, all the strongholds of the Orcs that they could – from Gundabad to the Gladden. Both sides were pitiless, and there was death and cruel deeds by dark and by light. But the Dwarves had the victory through their strength, and their matchless weapons, and the fire of their anger, as they hunted for Azog in every den under mountain.
At last, all the Orcs that fled before them were gathered in Moria, and the Dwarf-host in pursuit came to Azanulbizar in 2799. That was a great vale that lay between the arms of the mountains about the lake of Kheledzâram and had been part of the kingdom of Khazad-dûm of old. When the Dwarves saw the gate of their ancient mansions upon the hill-side, they sent up a great shout like thunder in the valley. But a great host of foes was arrayed on the slopes above them, and out of the gates poured a multitude of Orcs that had been held back by Azog for the last need.
At first, fortune was against the Dwarves; for it was a dark day of winter without sun, and the Orcs did not waver, and they outnumbered their enemies, and had the higher ground. So began the Battle of Azanulbizar (or Nanduhirion in the Elvish tongue), at the memory of which the Orcs still shudder and the Dwarves weep. The first assault of the vanguard led by Thráin was thrown back with loss, and Thráin was driven into a wood of great trees that then still grew not far from Kheled-zâram. There Frerin (his son) fell, and Fundin (born 2662, grandson of Borin through Farin (2560-2803); and father of Balin (born 2763) and Dwalin (born 2772)), and many others, and both Thráin and Thorin were wounded. It is said that Thorin’s shield was cloven and he cast it away, and he hewed off with his axe a brach and held it in his left hand to ward off the strokes of his foes, or to wield as a club. In this way he got his name. Elsewhere the battle swayed to and fro with great slaughter, until at last the people of the Iron Hills turned the day. Coming late and fresh to the field the mailed warriors of Náin (Grór’s son, born 2665) drove through the Orcs to the very threshold of Moria, crying “Azog! Azog!” as they hewed down with their mattocks all who stood in their way.
Then Náin stood before the Gate and cried with a great voice: “Azog! If you are in, come out! Or is the play in the valley too rough?”
Thereupon Azog came forth, and he was a great Orc with a huge iron-clad head, and yet agile and strong.
With him came many like him, the fighters of his guard, and as they engaged Náin’s company he turned to Náin, and said: “What? Yet another beggar at my doors? Must I brand you too?”
With that, he rushed at Náin and they fought. But Náin was half blind with rage, and also very weary with battle, whereas Azog was fresh and fell and full of guile. Soon Náin made a great stroke with all his strength that remained, but Azog darted aside and kicked Náin’s leg, so that the mattock splintered on the stone where he had stood, but Náin stumbled forward. Then Azog, with a swift swing, hewed his neck. His mail-collar withstood the edge, but so heavy was the blow that Náin’s neck was broken and he fell.
Then Azog laughed, and he lifted up his head to let forth a great yell of triumph; but the cry died in his throat. For he saw that all his host in the valley was in a rout, and the Dwarves went this way and that slaying as they would, and those that could escape from them were flying south, shrieking as they ran. And hard by, all the soldiers of his guard lay dead. He turned and fled back towards the Gate.
Up the steps after him leaped a Dwarf with a red axe. It was Dáin Ironfoot, Náin’s son, born 2767. Right before the doors, he caught Azog, and there he slew him, and hewed off his head. That was held a great feat, for Dáin was then only a stripling in the reckoning of the Dwarves. But long life and many battles lay before him, until old but unbowed he fell at last in the War of the Ring. Yet hardy and full of wrath as he was, it is said that when he came down from the Gate he looked grey in the face, as one who has felt great fear.
When at last the battle was won, the Dwarves that were left gathered in Azanulbizar. They took the head of Azog and thrust into its mouth the purse of small money, and then they set it on a stake. But no feast nor song was there that night; for their dead were beyond the count of grief. Barely half of their number, it is said, could still stand or had hope of healing.
None the less, in the morning Thráin stood before them.
He had one eye blinded beyond cure, and he was halt with a leg-wound; but he said: “Good! We have the victory. Khazad-dûm is ours!”
But they answered: “Durin’s Heir you may be, but even with one eye you should see clearer. We fought this war for vengeance, and vengeance we have taken. But it is not sweet. If this is victory, then our hands are too small to hold it.”
And those who were not of Durin’s Folk said also: “Khazad-dûm was not our Fathers’ house. What is it to us, unless a hope of treasure? But now, if we must go without the rewards and the weregilds that are owed to us, the sooner we return to our own lands the better pleased we shall be.”
Then Thráin turned to Dáin, and said: “But surely my own kin will not desert me?”
“No,” said Dáin. “You are the father of our Folk, and we have bled for you, and will again. But we will not enter Khazad-dûm. You will not enter Khazad-dûm. Only I have looked through the shadow of the Gate. Beyond the shadow it waits for you still: Durin’s Bane. The world must change and some other power than ours must come before Durin’s Folk walk again in Moria.”
So it was that after Azanulbizar the Dwarves dispersed again. But first, with great labour, they stripped all their dead, so that Orcs should not come and win there a store of weapons and mail. It is said that every Dwarf that went from that battlefield was bowed under a heavy burden. Then they built many pyres and burned all the bodies of their kin. There was a great felling of trees in the valley, which remained bare ever after, and the reek of the burning was seen in Lórien. Such dealings with their dead seemed grevious to the Dwarves, for it was against their use; but to make such tombs as they were accustomed to build (since they will lay their dead only in stone and not in earth) would have taken years. To fire therefore they turned, rather than leave their kin to beast or bird or carrion-orc. But those who fell in Azanulbizar were honored in memory, and to this day a Dwarf will say proudly of one of his sires: “he was a burned Dwarf,” and that is enough.
When the dreadful fires were in ashes, the allies went away to their own countries, and Dáin Ironfoot led his father’s people back to the Iron Hills.
Then standing by the great stake, Thráin said to Thorin Oakenshield: “Some would think this head dearly bought! At least we have given our kingdom for it. Will you come with me back to the anvil? Or will you beg your bread at proud doors?”
“To the anvil,” answered Thorin. “The hammer will at least keep the arms strong, until they can wield sharper tools again.”
So Thráin and Thorin, with what remained of their following (among whom were Balin and Glóin), returned to Dunland, and soon afterwards they removed and wandered in Eriador, until at last they made a home in exile in the east of the Ered Luin beyond the Lune in the year 2802. Of iron were most of the things that they forged in those days, but they prospered after a fashion, and their numbers slowly increased. They had very few women folk. Dís was there. She was the mother of Fíli and Kíli, who were born in the Ered Luin in 2859 and 2864, respectively. Thorin had no wife. But, as Thrór had said, the Ring needed gold to breed gold, and of that or any other precious metal they had little or none.
Dís was the daughter of Thráin II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need, They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that the Dwarves “grow out of stone”.
It is because of the fewness of women among them that the kind of the Dwarves increases slowly, and is in peril when they have no secure dwellings. For Dwarves take only one wife or husband each in their lives, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of dwarf-men that marry is actually less than one-third. For not all the women take husbands: some desire none; some desire one that they cannot get, and so will have no other. As for the men, very many also do not desire marriage, being engrossed in their crafts.
Of this Ring something may be said here. It was believed by the Dwarves of Durin’s Folk to be the first of the Seven that was forged; and they say that it was given to the King of Khazad-dûm, Durin III, by the Elven-smiths themselves and not by Sauron, though doubtless his evil power was on it, since he had aided in the forging of all the Seven. But the possessors of the Ring did not display it or speak of it, and they seldom surrendered it until near death, so that others did not know for certain where it was bestowed. Some thought that it had remained in Khazad-dûm, in the secret tombs of the kings, if they had not been discovered and plundered; but among the kindred of Durin’s Heir it was believed (wrongly) that Thrór had worn it when he rashly returned there. What then had become of it they did not know. It was not found on the body of Azog.
None the less it may well be, as the Dwarves now believe, that Sauron by his arts had discovered who had this Ring, the last to remain free, and that the singular misfortunes of the heirs of Durin were largely due to his malice. For the Dwarves had proved untameable by this means. The only power over them that the Rings wielded was to inflame their hearts with a greed of gold and precious things, so that if they lacked them all other good things seemed profitless, and they were filled with wrath and desire for vengeance on all who deprived them. But they were made from their beginning of a kind to resist most steadfastly any domination. Though they could be slain or broken, they could not be reduced to shadows, enslaved to another will; and for the same reason their lives were not affected by any Ring, to live either longer or shorter because of it. All the more did Sauron hate the possessors and desire to dispossess them.
It was therefore perhaps partly by the malice of the Ring that Thráin, after some years, became restless and discontented. The lust for gold was ever in his mind. At last, when he could endure it no longer, he turned his thoughts to Erebor, and resolved to go back there. He said nothing to Thorin of what was in his heart; but with Balin and Dwalin and a few others, he arose and said farewell and departed.
Little is known of what happened to him afterwards. It would now seem that as soon as he was abroad with few companions, he was hunted by the emissaries of Sauron. Wolves pursued him, Orcs waylaid him, evil birds shadowed his path, and the more he strove to go north, the more misfortunes opposed him. There came a dark night when he and his companions were wandering in the land beyond Anduin, and they were driven by a black rain to take shelter under the eaves of Mirkwood. In the morning, he was gone from the camp, and his companions called him in vain. They searched for him many days, until at last, giving up hope, they departed and came at length back to Thorin. Only long after was it learned that Thráin had been taken alive and brought to the pits of Dol Guldur. There he was tormented and the Ring taken from him, and then at last he died.
So Thorin Oakenshield became the Heir of Durin, but an heir without hope. At the sack of Erebor he had been too young to bear arms, but at Azanulbizar he had fought in the van of the assault; and when Thráin was lost he was ninety-five, a great dwarf of proud bearing; he had no Ring, and (for that reason maybe) he seemed content to remain in Eriador. There he labored long, and trafficked, and gained such wealth as he could; and his people were increased by many of the wandering Folk of Durin who heard of his dwelling in the west and came to him. Now they had fair halls in the mountains, and store of goods, and their days did not seem so hard, though in their songs they spoke ever of the Lonely Mountain far away, and the treasure and the bliss of the Great Hall in the light of the Arkenstone.
The years lengthened. The embers in the heart of Thorin grew hot again, as he brooded on the wrongs of his House and the vengeance upon the Dragon the he had inherited. He thought of weapons and armies and alliances, as his great hammer rang in his forge; but the armies were dispersed and the alliances broken and the axes of his people were few; and a great anger without hope burned him as he smote the red iron on the anvil.
Gandalf had not yet played any part in the fortunes of Durin’s House. He had not had many dealings with the Dwarves; though he was a friend to those of good will, and liked well the exiles of Durin’s Folk who lived in the West.
Among many cares he was troubled in mind by the perilous state of the North; because he knew then already that Sauron was plotting war, and intended, as soon as he felt strong enough, to attack Rivendell. But to resist any attempt from the East to regain the lands of Angmar and the northern passes in the mountains there were now only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills. And beyond them lay the desolation of the Dragon. The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. How then could the end of Smaug be achieved?
These were his dark thoughts as he jogged along the road. He was tired, and was going to the Shire for a short rest, after being away from it for more than twenty years. He thought that if he put them out of his mind for a while he might perhaps find some way of dealing with these troubles. And so he did indeed, though he was not allowed to put them out of his mind.
But at last there came about by chance a meeting between Gandalf and Thorin that changed all the fortunes of the House of Durin, and led to other and greater ends beside. On March 15, 2941, Thorin, returning west from a journey, stayed at Bree for the night. There Gandalf was also. He was passing through Eriador on his way to the Shire. He was weary, and thought to rest there for a while.
For just as he was nearing Bree he was overtaken by Thorin Oakenshield, who lived then in exile beyond the north-western borders of the Shire. To Gandalf’s surprise Thorin spoke to him; and it was at that moment that the tide began to turn. He was troubled too, so troubled that he actually asked for Gandalf’s advice.
“Master Gandalf, I know you only by sight, but now I should be glad to speak with you. For you have often come into my thoughts of late, as if I were bidden to seek you. Indeed I should have done so, if I had known where to find you.”
He fell in with Thorin Oakenshield, and they talked together on the road, and spent the night at Bree.
Thorin stood before him in the morning and said: “I have much on my mind, and they say you are wise and know more than most of what goes on in the world. Will you come home with me and hear me, and give me your counsel?”
Gandalf looked at him with wonder. “That is strange, Thorin Oakenshield,” he said. “For I have thought of you also; and though I am on my way to the Shire, it was in my mind that is the way also to your halls.”
“Call them so, if you will,” said Thorin. “They are only poor lodgings in exile. But you would be welcome there, if you would come.”
“I will come,” said Gandalf; “for I guess that we share one trouble at least. The Dragon of Erebor is on my mind, and I do not think that he will be forgotten by the grandson of Thrór.”
So he went with Thorin to his halls in the Blue Mountains. They actually passed through the Shire, though Thorin would not stop long enough for that to be useful. Indeed Gandalf thought it was annoyance with Thorin’s haughty disregard of the Hobbits that first put into his head the idea of entangling Thorin with them. As far as he was concerned they were just food-growers who happened to work the fields on either side of the Dwarves’ ancestral road to the Mountains.
And Gandalf listened to Thorin’s long tale. He soon understood that Thorin’s heart was hot with brooding on his wrongs, and the loss of the treasure of his forefathers, and burdened too with the duty of revenge upon Smaug that he had inherited. Dwarves take such duties very seriously.
He heard all his tale, and he thought: “Well, here is an enemy of Smaug at any rate! And one worthy of help. I must do what I can. I should have thought of Dwarves before.”
He promised to help Thorin if he could. He was as eager as Thorin was to see the end of Smaug, but Thorin was all for plans of battle and war, as if he were really King Thorin the Second, and Gandalf could see no hope in that.
So he left Thorin and went off to the Shire, and picked up the threads of news. It was a strange business. He did no more than follow the lead of “chance,” and made many mistakes on the way.
And then there was the Shire-folk. Gandalf began to have a warm place in his heart for them in the Long Winter of 1158-1159, which none living can remember. There was great suffering and loss of life in Eriador and Rohan. Gandalf came to the aid of the Shire-folk. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as by their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. Gandalf wanted them still to survive. But he saw that the Westlands were in for another very bad time again, sooner or later, though of quite a different sort: pitiless war. To come through that he thought they would need something more than they now had. It is not easy to say what. Well, they would want to know a bit more, understand a bit clearer what it was all about, and where they stood.
They had begun to forget: forget their own beginnings and legends, forget what little they had known about the greatness of the world. It was not yet gone, but it was getting buried: the memory of the high and the perilous. But you cannot teach that sort of thing to a whole people quickly. There was not time. And anyway you must begin at some point, with some one person.
He had not time to sort them all out; but Gandalf knew the Shire very well by that time, although when he met Thorin he had been away on less pleasant business. So naturally thinking over the Hobbits that he knew, he said to himself: “I want a dash of the Took (but not too much) and I want a good foundation of the stolider sort, a Baggins perhaps.” That pointed at once to Bilbo. And Gandalf had known him once very well, almost up to his coming of age, better than Bilbo knew him. Gandalf liked Bilbo then.
Somehow he had been attracted by Bilbo long before, as a child, and a young hobbit: he had not quite come of age when Gandalf had last seen him. He had last visited the Shire in 2921, when Bilbo was thirty-one. He had stayed in Gandalf’s mind ever since, with his eagerness and his bright eyes, and his love of tales, and his questions about the wide world outside the Shire.
As soon as Gandalf entered the Shire he heard news of Bilbo. He was getting talked about, it seemed. Both his parents had died early for Shire-folk, at about eighty; and he had never married. Gandalf thought that odd though he guessed why it was; and the reason that he guessed was not that most of the Hobbits gave him: that Bilbo had early been left very well off and his own master. No, he guessed that Bilbo wanted to remain “unattached” for some reason deep down which he did not understand himself – or would not acknowledge, for it alarmed him. He wanted, all the same, to be free to go when the chance came, or he had made up his courage. Gandalf remembered how Bilbo used to pester him with questions when he was a youngster about the Hobbits that had occasionally “gone off,” as they said in the Shire. There were at least two of his uncles on the Took side that had done so.
These uncles were Hildifons Took (born 1244), who “went off on a journey and never returned,” and Isengar Took (1262-1360, the youngest of Gerontius (1190-1320), the Old Took’s twelve children), who was said to have “gone to sea” in his youth.
Bilbo was already growing a bit queer, they said, and went off for days by himself. He could be seen talking to strangers, even Dwarves.
“Even Dwarves!” Suddenly in Gandalf’s mind these three things came together: the great Dragon with his lust, and his keen hearing and scent; the sturdy heavy-booted Dwarves with their old burning grudge; and the quick, soft-footed Hobbit, sick at heart (Gandalf guessed) for a sight of the wide world. He laughed at himself; but he went off at once to have a look at Bilbo, to see what twenty years had done to him, and whether he was as promising as gossip seemed to make out. But he was not at home. They shook their heads in Hobbiton when Gandalf asked after him.
“Off again,” said one Hobbit. It was Holman Greenhand (born 1292), the gardener to whom Hamfast Gamgee (1326-1428, Sam’s father, the Gaffer), his cousin, was apprenticed. “Off again. He’ll go right off one of these days, if he isn’t careful. Why, I asked him where he was going, and when he would be back, and ‘I don’t know’ he says; and then he looks at me queerly. ‘It depends if I meet any, Holman,’ he says. ‘It’s the Elves New Year tomorrow!'” The Elvish solar year (loa) began with the day called yestarë, which was the day before the first day of tuilë (Spring); and in the Calendar of Imladris yestarë corresponded more or less with Shire April 6. “A pity, and him so kind a body. You wouldn’t find a better from the Downs to the River.”
“Better and better!” Gandalf thought. “I think I shall risk it.” Time was getting short. He had to be with the White Council in August at the latest, or Saruman would have his way and nothing would be done. And quite apart from greater matters, that might prove fatal to the quest: the power in Dol Guldur would not leave any attempt on Erebor unhindered, unless he had something else to deal with.
At last he made up his mind, and Gandalf went back to Thorin in haste, to tackle the difficult task of persuading him to put aside his lofty designs and go secretly – and take Bilbo with him. Without seeing Bilbo first.
He found Thorin in conclave with some of his kinsfolk. Balin and Glóin were there, and several others.
“Well, what have you got to say?” Thorin asked Gandalf as soon as he came in.
“This first,” Gandalf answered. “Your own ideas are those of a king, Thorin Oakenshield; but your kingdom is gone. If it is to be restored, which I doubt, it must be from small beginnings. Far away here, I wonder if you fully realize the strength of a great Dragon. But that is not all: there is a Shadow growing fast in the world far more terrible. They will help one another.”
And they certainly would do so, if the White Council would not attack Dol Guldur.
“Open war would be quite useless; and anyway it is impossible for you to arrange it. You will have to try something simpler and yet bolder, indeed something desperate.”
“You are both vague and disquieting,” said Thorin. “Speak more plainly!”
“Well, for one thing, you will have to go on this quest yourself, and you will have to go secretly. No messengers, heralds, or challenges for you, Thorin Oakenshield. At most you can take with you a few kinsmen or faithful followers. But you will need something more, something unexpected.”
“One moment!” Gandalf said. “You hope to deal with a Dragon; and he is not only very great, but he is now also old and very cunning. From the beginning of your adventure you must allow for this: his memory, and his sense of smell.”
“Naturally. Dwarves have had more dealings with Dragons than most, and you are not instructing the ignorant.”
“Very good, but your own plans did not seem to me to consider this point. My plan is one of stealth. Stealth. Also a scent that cannot be placed, at least not by Smaug, the enemy of Dwarves. Smaug does not lie on his costly bed without dreams. Thorin Oakenshield. He dreams of Dwarves! You may be sure that he explores his hall day by day, night by night, until he is sure that no faintest air of a Dwarf is near, before he goes to his sleep: his half-sleep, prick-eared for the sound of – Dwarf-feet.”
“You make your stealth sound as difficult and hopeless as any open attack,” said Balin. “Impossibly difficult!”
“Yes, it is difficult,” Gandalf answered. “But not impossibly difficult, or I would not waste my time here. I would say absurdly difficult. So I am going to suggest an absurd solution to the problem. Take a Hobbit with you! Smaug has probably never heard of Hobbits, and he has certainly never smelt them.”
“What!” cried Glóin. “One of those simpletons down in the Shire? What use on earth, or under it, could he possibly be? Let him smell as he may, he would never dare to come within smelling distance of the nakedest dragonet new from the shell!”
“Now, now!” Gandalf said, “that is quite unfair. You do not know much about the Shire-folk, Glóin. I suppose you think them simple, because they are generous and do not haggle; and think them timid because you never sell them any weapons. You are mistaken. Anyway, there is one that I have my eye on as a companion for you, Thorin. He is neat-banded and clever, though shrewd, and far from rash. And I think he has courage. Great courage, I guess, according to the way of his people. They are, you might say, ‘brave at a pinch.’ You have to put these Hobbits in a tight place before you find out what is in them.”
“The test cannot be made,” Thorin answered. “As far as I have observed, they do all that they can to avoid tight places.”
“Quite true,” Gandalf said. “They are a very sensible people. But this Hobbit is rather unusual. I think he could be persuaded to go into a tight place. I believe that in his heart he really desires to – to have, as he would put it, an adventure.”
“Not at my expense!” said Thorin, rising and striding about angrily. “This is not advice, it is foolery! I fail to see what any Hobbit good or bad, could do that would repay me for a day’s keep, even if he could be persuaded to start.”
“Fail to see! You would fail to hear it, more likely,” Gandalf answered. “Hobbits move without effort more quietly than any Dwarf in the world could manage, though his life depended on it. They are, I suppose, the most soft-footed of all mortal kinds. You do not seem to have observed that, at any rate, Thorin Oakenshield, as you romped through the Shire, making a noise (I may say) that the inhabitants could hear a mile away. When I said that you would need stealth, I meant it: professional stealth.”
“Professional stealth?” cried Balin, taking up Gandalf’s words rather differently than he had meant them. “Do you mean a trained treasure-seeker? Can they still be found?”
Gandalf hesitated. This was a new turn, and he was not sure how to take it.
“I think so,” he said at last. “For a reward they will go in where you dare not, or at any rate cannot, and get what you desire.”
Thorin’s eyes glistened as the memories of lost treasures moved in his mind; but “A paid thief, you mean,” he said scornfully. “That might be considered, if the reward was not too high. But what has all this to do with one of those villagers? They drink out of clay, and they cannot tell a gem from a bead of glass.”
“I wish you would not always speak so confidently without knowledge,” Gandalf said sharply. “These villagers have lived in the Shire some fourteen hundred years, and they have learned many things in the time. They had dealings with the Elves, and with the Dwarves, a thousand years before Smaug came to Erebor. None of them are wealthy as your forefathers reckoned it, but you will find some of their dwellings have fairer things in them than you can boast here, Thorin. The Hobbit that I have in mind has ornaments of gold, and eats with silver tools, and drinks wine out of shapely crystal.”
“Ah! I see your drift at last,” said Balin. “He is a thief, then? That is why you recommend him?”
At that Gandalf lost his temper and his caution. This Dwarvish conceit that no one can have or make anything “of value” save themselves, and that all fine things in other hands must have been got, if not stolen, from the Dwarves at some time, was more than he could stand at that moment.
“A thief?” he said, laughing. “Why yes, a professional thief, of course! How else would a Hobbit come by a silver spoon? I will put the thief’s mark on his door, and then you will find it.”
Then being angry he got up, and said with a warmth that surprised himself: “You must look for that door, Thorin Oakenshield! I am serious.”
And suddenly Gandalf felt that he was indeed in hot earnest. This queer notion of his was not a joke, it was right. It was desperately important that it should be carried out. The Dwarves must bend their stiff necks.
“Listen to me, Durin’s Folk!” Gandalf cried. “If you persuade this Hobbit to join you, you will succeed. If you do not, you will fail. If you refuse even to try, then I have finished with you. You will get no more advice or help from me until the Shadow falls on you!”
Thorin turned and looked at him in astonishment, as well he might.
“Strong words!” he said. “Very well, I will come. Some foresight is on you, if you are not merely crazed.”
“Good! But you must come with good will, not merely in the hope of proving me a fool. You must be patient and not easily put off, if neither the courage nor the desire for adventure that I speak of are plain to see at first sight. He will deny them. He will try to back out; but you must not let him.”
“Haggling will not help him, if that is what you mean. I will offer him a fair reward for anything that he recovers, and no more.”
It was not what Gandalf meant, but it seemed useless to say so.
“There is one other thing,” he went on; “you must make all your plans and preparations beforehand. Get everything ready! Once persuaded he must have no time for second thoughts. You must go straight from the Shire, east of your quest.”
“He sounds a very strange creature, this thief of yours,” said a young Dwarf called Fíli (Thorin’s nephew, as Gandalf afterwards learned). “What is his name, or the one that he uses?”
“Hobbits use their real names. The only one that he has is Bilbo Baggins.”
“What a name!” said Fíli, and laughed.
“He thinks it very respectable. And it fits well enough; for he is a middle-aged bachelor, and getting a bit flabby and fat. Food is perhaps at present his main interest. He keeps a very good larder, I am told, and maybe more than one. At least you will be well entertained.”
“That is enough,” said Thorin. “If I had not given my word, I would not come now. I am in no mood to be made a fool of. For I am serious also. Deadly serious, and my heart is hot within me.”
Gandalf took no notice of this.
“Look now, Thorin,” he said, “April is passing and Spring is here. Make everything ready as soon as you can. I have some business to do, but I shall be back in a week. When I return, if all is in order, I will ride on ahead to prepare the ground. Then we will all visit him together on the following day.”
And with that he took his leave, not wishing to give Thorin more chance of second thoughts than Bilbo was to have.
It was a mistake, and nearly proved disastrous. For Bilbo had changed, of course. At least, he was getting rather greedy and fat, and his old desires had dwindled down to a sort of private dream. Nothing could have been more dismaying than to find it actually in danger of coming true! He was altogether bewildered, and made a complete fool of himself. Thorin would have left in a rage, but for another strange chance.
But you know how things went, at any rate as Bilbo saw them. The story would sound rather different, if Gandalf had written it.
Bilbo did not know all that went on: the care, for instance, that Gandalf took so that the coming of a large party of Dwarves to Bywater, off the main road and their usual beat, should not come to his ears too soon. For another thing Bilbo did not realize at all how fatuous the Dwarves thought him, nor how angry they were with Gandalf.
It was on the morning of Tuesday, April the 25th, 2941, that Gandalf called to see Bilbo; and though he knew more or less what to expect his confidence was shaken. He saw that things would be far more difficult than he had thought. But Gandalf persevered. Next day, Wednesday, April the 26th, he brought Thorin and his companions to Bag End; with great difficulty so far as Thorin was concerned – he hung back at the last. And of course Bilbo was completely bewildered and behaved ridiculously. Everything in fact went extremely badly for Gandalf from the beginning; and that unfortunate business about the “professional thief,” which the Dwarves had got firmly their heads, only made matters worse. He was thankful that he had told Thorin they should all stay the night at Bag End, since they should need time to discuss ways and means. It gave him a last chance. If Thorin had left Bag End before Gandalf could see him alone, his plan would have been ruined.
Thorin was much more indignant and contemptuous than he perceived. He was indeed contemptuous from the beginning, and thought then that Gandalf had planned the whole affair simply so as to make a mock of him. It was only the map and the key that saved the situation.
But Gandalf had not thought of them for years. It was not until he got to the Shire and had time to reflect on Thorin’s tale that he suddenly remembered the strange chance that had put them in his hands; and it began now to look less like chance. He remembered a dangerous journey of his, ninety-one years before, when he had entered Dol Guldur in disguise, and had found there an unhappy Dwarf dying in the pits. Gandalf had no idea who he was. The Dwarf had a map that had belonged to Durin’s folk in Moria and a key that seemed to go with it, though he was too far gone to explain it. And he said that he had possessed a great Ring.
Nearly all his ravings were of that. “The last of the Seven” the Dwarf said over and over again. But all these things he might have come by in many ways. He might have been a messenger caught as he fled, or even a thief trapped by a greater thief. But he gave the map and the key to Gandalf. “For my son,” he said; and then he died, and soon after Gandalf himself escaped. He stowed the things away, and by some warning of his heart he kept them always with him, safe, but soon almost forgotten. He had other business in Dol Guldur more important and perilous than all the treasure of Erebor.
Now Gandalf remembered it all again, and it seemed clear that he had heard the last words of Thráin the Second. Thráin the First, Thorin’s distant ancestor, escaped from Moria in the year 1981 and became the first King under the Mountain. Though he did not name himself or his son; and Thorin, of course, did not know what had become of his father, nor did he ever mention the last of the Seven Rings.
It was nine years after Thráin had left his people that Gandalf found him, and he had then been in the pits of Dol Guldur for five years at least. How he endured so long, nor how he had kept these things hidden through all his torments, we will never know. Gandalf had thought that perhaps the Dark Power had desired nothing from him except the Ring only, and when he had taken that he troubled no further, but just flung the broken prisoner into the pits to rave until he died. A small oversight; but it proved fatal. Small oversights often do.
Gandalf had the plan and the key of the secret entrance to Erebor, by which Thrór and Thráin escaped, according to Thorin’s tale. And he had kept them, though without any design of his own, until the moment when they would prove most useful.
Fortunately, he did not make any mistake in his use of them. He kept them up his sleeve, as they say in the Shire, until things looked quite hopeless. As soon as Thorin saw them he really made up his mind to follow Gandalf’s plan, as far as a secret expedition went at any rate. Whatever he thought of Bilbo he would have set out himself. The existence of a secret door, only discoverable by Dwarves, made it seem at least possible to find out something of the Dragon’s doings, perhaps even to recover some gold, or some heirloom to ease his heart’s longings.
But that was not enough for Gandalf. He knew in his heart that Bilbo must go with Thorin, or the whole quest would be a failure – or, as Gandalf should say later, the far more important events by the way would not come to pass. So he had still to persuade Thorin to take Bilbo. There were many difficulties on the road afterwards, but for Gandalf this was the most difficult part of the whole affair. Though he argued with Thorin far into the night after Bilbo had retired, it was not finally settled until early the next morning.
Thorin was contemptuous and suspicious.
“He is soft,” he snorted. “Soft as the mud of his Shire, and silly. His mother died too soon. You are playing some crooked game of your own, Master Gandalf. I am sure that you have other purposes than helping me.”
“You are quite right,” Gandalf said. “If I had no other purposes, I should not be helping you at all. Great as your affairs may seem to you, they are only a small strand in the great web. I am concerned with many strands. But that should make my advice more weighty, not less.”
He spoke at last with great heat.
“Listen to me, Thorin Oakenshield! If this hobbit goes with you, you will succeed. If not, you will fail. A foresight is on me, and I am warning you.”
“I know your fame,” Thorin answered. “I hope it is merited. But this foolish business of your Hobbit makes me wonder whether it is foresight that is on you, and you are not crazed rather than foreseeing. So many cares may have disordered your wits.”
“They have certainly been enough to do so. And among them I find most exasperating a proud Dwarf who seeks advice from me (without claim on me that I know of), and then rewards me with insolence. Go your own ways, Thorin Oakenshield, if you will. But if you flout my advice, you will walk to disaster. And you will get neither counsel nor aid from me again until the Shadow falls on you. And curb your pride and your greed, or you will fall at the end of whatever path you take, though your hands be full of gold.”
He blenched a little at that; but his eyes smoldered.
“Do not threaten me!” he said. “I will use my own judgement in this matter, as in all that concerns me.”
“Do so then!” Gandalf said. “I can say no more-unless it is this: I do not give my love or trust lightly, Thorin; but I am fond of this Hobbit, and wish him well. Treat him well, and you shall have my friendship to the end of your days.”
He said that without hope of persuading Thorin; but he could have said nothing better. Dwarves understand devotion to friends and gratitude to those who help them.
“Very well,” Thorin said at last after a silence. “He shall set out with my company, if he dares (which I doubt). But if you insist on burdening me with him, you must come too and look after your darling.”
“Good!” Gandalf answered. “I will come, and stay with you as long as I can: at least until you have discovered his worth.”
It proved well in the end, but at the time Gandalf was troubled, for he had the urgent matter of the White Council on his hands.
So it was that the Quest of Erebor set out.
Of the other companions of Thorin Oakenshield in the journey to Erebor Ori, Nori, and Dori were also of the House of Durin, and more remote kinsmen of Thorin: Bifur and his cousins, the brothers Bofur and Bombur, were descended from Dwarves of Moria but were not of Durin’s line. It is said they may be of the the Broadbeams.
From this meeting there followed many deeds and events of great moment: indeed the finding of the One Ring, and its coming to the Shire, and the choosing of the Ringbearer. Many therefore have supposed that Gandalf foresaw all these things, and chose his time for the meeting with Thorin. Yet we believe that it was not so. For in his tale of the War of the Ring, Frodo the Ringbearer left a record of Gandalf’s words on this very point. That passage was omitted from the tale, since it seemed long, but most of it we now set out here. This is what he wrote:
After the crowning [of King Elessar], the hobbits stayed in a fair house in Minas Tirith with Gandalf, and he was very merry, and though they asked him questions about all that came into their minds, his patience seemed as endless as his knowledge. Often they did not understand him.
Gimli was there with them, and he said to Peregrin: “There is a thing I must do one of these days: I must visit that Shire of yours.”
Gimli must at least have passed through the Shire on journeys from his original home in the Blue Mountains.
“Not to see more Hobbits! I doubt if I could learn anything about them that I do not know already. But no Dwarf of the House of Durin could fail to look with wonder on that land. Did not the recovery of the Kingship under the Mountain, and the fall of Smaug, begin there? Not to mention the end of Barad-dûr, though both were strangely woven together. Strangely, very strangely,” he said, and paused. Then looking hard at Gandalf he went on: “But who wove the web? I do not think I have ever considered that before. Did you plan all this then, Gandalf? If not, why did you lead Thorin Oakenshield to such an unlikely door? To find the Ring and bring it far away into the West for hiding, and then to choose the Ringbearer – and to restore the Mountain Kingdom as a mere deed by the way: was not that your design?”
Gandalf did not answer at once. He stood up, and looked out of the window, west, seawards; and the sun was then setting, and a glow was in his face. He stood so a long while, silent.
But at last he turned to Gimli and said: “I do not know the answer. For I have changed since those days, and I am no longer trammelled by the burden of Middle-earth as I was then. In those days I should have answered you with words like those I used to Frodo, only last year in the spring. Only last year! But such measures are meaningless. In that far distant time I said to a small and frightened Hobbit: ‘Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker, and you therefore were meant to bear it.’ And I might have added: ‘and I was meant guide you both to those points.’
“I dare say he was ‘chosen’ and I was only chosen to choose him; but I picked out Bilbo.”
“Now that is just what I want to know,” said Peregrin. “Why did you do that?”
“How would you select any one Hobbit for such a purpose? To do that, I used in my waking mind only such means as were allowed to me, doing what lay to my hand according to such reasons as I had. But what I knew in my heart, or knew before I stepped on these grey shores: that is another matter. Olórin I was in the West that is forgotten, and only to those who are there (or who may, perhaps return thither with me) shall I speak more openly.”
He would say no more that day. But later they brought the matter again, and he told them the whole strange story; how he came to arrange the journey to Erebor, why he thought of Bilbo, and how he persuaded the proud Thorin Oakenshield to take him into his company. To begin with Gandalf was thinking only of the defense of the West against the Shadow.
Frodo said: “I understand you a little better now, Gandalf, than I did before. Though I suppose that, whether meant or not, Bilbo might have refused to leave home, and so might I. You could not compel us. You were not even allowed to try. But I am still curious to know why you did what you did, as you were then, an old grey man as you seemed.”
“I was very troubled at that time,” he said, “for Saruman was hindering all my plans. I knew that Sauron had arisen again and would soon declare himself, and I knew that he was preparing for a great war. How would he begin? Would he try first to re-occupy Mordor, or would he first attack the chief strongholds of his enemies? I thought then, and I am sure now, that to attack Lórien and Rivendell, as soon as he was strong enough, was his original plan. It would have been a much better plan for him, and much worse for us.
“You may think that Rivendell was out of his reach, but I did not think so. The state of things in the North was very bad. The Kingdom under the Mountain and the strong Men of Dale were no more. To resist any force that Sauron might send to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar there were only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, and behind them lay a desolation and a Dragon. The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. Often I said to myself: ‘I must find some means of dealing with Smaug. But a direct stroke against Dol Guldur is needed still more. We must disturb Sauron’s plans. I must make the Council see that.’
“That is why, to jump forward, I went off as soon as the expedition against Smaug was well started, and persuaded the Council to attack Dol Guldur first, before he attacked Lórien. We did, and Sauron fled. But he was always ahead of us in his plans. I must confess that I thought he really had retreated again, and that we might have another spell of watchful peace. But it did not last long. Sauron decided to take the next step. He returned at once to Mordor, and in ten years he declared himself.
“Then everything grew dark. And yet that was not his original plan; and it was in the end a mistake. Resistance still had somewhere where it could take counsel free from the Shadow. How could the Ringbearer have escaped, if there had been no Lórien or Rivendell? And those places might have fallen, I think, if Sauron had thrown all his power against them first, and not spent more than half of it in the assault on Gondor.
“Well, there you have it. That was my chief reason. But it is one thing to see what needs doing, and quite another to find the means.”
The story is told elsewhere of what came of the meeting of Gandalf and Thorin: of the strange plan that Gandalf made for the help of Thorin, and how Thorin and his companions set out from the Shire on the quest of the Lonely Mountain that came to great ends unforeseen.
Dáin Ironfoot was Thorin’s cousin, born in the year 2767; at the Battle of Azanulbizar (Nanduhirion) in 2799 he slew before the East-gate of Moria the great Orc Azog, and so avenged Thrór, their grandfather.
The Dragon was slain by Bard of Esgaroth, but there was battle in Dale. For the Orcs came down upon Erebor as soon as they heard of the return of the Dwarves; and they were led by Bolg, son of Azog. In that first Battle of Dale, Thorin Oakenshield was mortally wounded; and he died and was laid in a tomb under the Mountain with the Arkenstone upon his breast. There fell also Fíli and Kíli, his sister-sons. But Dáin Ironfoot, who came from the Iron Hills to his aid and was also his rightful heir, became then King Dáin II, and the Kingdom under the Mountain was restored, even as Gandalf had desired. Dáin proved a great and wise king, and the Dwarves prospered and grew strong again in his day.
In the late summer of that same year (2941) Gandalf had at last prevailed upon Saruman and the White Council to attack Dol Guldur, and Sauron retreated and went to Mordor, there to be secure, as he thought, from all his enemies.
In 2944, Bard rebuilt Dale and became King. He was succeeded in 2977 by his son Bain, who in turn was succeeded by his son Brand in 3007.
So it was that when the War came at last, the main assault was turned southwards; yet even so, with his far-stretched right hand Sauron might have done great evil in the North, if King Dáin and King Brand had not stood in his path. Even as Gandalf said afterwards to Frodo and Gimli. Not long before news had come to Gondor of events far away.
On March 17, 3019, as the same time as the great armies besieged Minas Tirith, a host of the allies of Sauron that had long threatened the borders of King Brand crossed the River Carnen, and Brand was driven back to Dale. There he had the aid of the Dwarves of Erebor; and there was a great battle at the Mountain’s feet. It lasted three days, but in the end both King Brand and King Dáin Ironfoot were slain, and the Easterlings had the victory. But they could not take the Gate, and many, both Dwarves and Men, took refuge in Erebor, and there withstood a siege.
When news came of the great victories in the South, then Sauron’s northern army was filled with dismay; and the besieged came forth and routed them (on March 27), and the remnant fled into the East and troubled Dale no more. Then Bard II, Brand’s son, became King in Dale, and Thorin III Stonehelm (born 2866), Dáin’s son, became King under the Mountain. They sent their ambassadors to the crowing of King Elessar; and their realms remained ever after, as long as they lasted, in friendship with Gondor; and they were under the crown and protection of the King of the West.
Durin VII (and Last) was one of Stonehelm’s descendants.
“I do not suppose that when it started Thorin had any real hope of destroying Smaug. There was no hope. Yet it happened. But alas! Thorin did not live to enjoy his triumph or his treasure. Pride and greed overcame him in spite of my warning.”
“But surely,” Frodo said, “he might have fallen in battle anyway ? There would have been an attack of Orcs, however generous Thorin had been with his treasure.”
“That is true,” said Gandalf. “Poor Thorin! He was a great Dwarf of a great House, whatever his faults; and though he fell at the end of the journey, it was largely due to him that the Kingdom under the Mountain was restored. But Dáin Ironfoot was a worthy successor.
“I grieved at the fall of Thorin,” said Gandalf; “and now we hear that Dáin has fallen, fighting before Erebor in Dale again, even while we fought here. I should call that a heavy loss, if it was not a wonder rather that in his great age he could still wield his axe as mightily as they say that he did, standing over the body of King Brand before the Gate of Erebor until the darkness fell.
“Yet things might have gone far otherwise and far worse. When you think of the great Battle of the Pelennor, do not forget the battles in Dale and the valor of Durin’s Folk. Think of what might have been. Dragon-fire and savage swords in Eriador, night in Rivendell. There might be no Queen in Gondor. We might now hope to return from the victory here only to ruin and ash. But that has been averted – because I met Thorin Oakenshield one evening on the edge of spring in Bree. A chance-meeting, as we say in Middle-earth.”
“It still sounds absurd,” he said, “even now that all has turned out more than well. I knew Thorin, of course; and I wish I had been there, but I was away at the time of your first visit to us. And I was not allowed to go on the quest: too young, they said, though at sixty-two I thought myself fit for anything. Well, I am glad to have heard the full tale. If it is full. I do not really suppose that even now you are telling us all you know.”
“Of course not,” said Gandalf.
Nothing is said of Gróin (Farin’s son, 2671-2923), but of his two sons Óin (born 2774) and Glóin (born 2783), much was said as they were companions of Thorin Oakenshield. Óin went with his cousin Balin (who visted Bilbo in the Shire in 2949 with Gandalf) to Moria in 2989, and died there at the last in 2994. Glóin was at the council of Elrond and lived to the age of 253.
Gimli Glóin’s son (born 2879) is renowned, for he was one of the Nine Walkers that set out with the Ring; and he remained in the company of King Elessar throughout the War. He was named Elf-friend because of the great love that grew between him and Legolas, son of King Thranduil, and because of his reverence for the Lady Galadriel.
After the fall of Sauron, Gimli brought south a part of the Dwarf-folk of Erebor, and he became Lord of the Glittering Caves. He and his people did great works in Gondor and Rohan. For Minas Tirith they forged gates of mithril and steel to replace those broken by the Witch-king. Legolas his friend also brought south Elves out of Greenwood, and they dwelt in Ithilien, and it became once again the fairest country in all the westlands.
But when King Elessar gave up his life in the year 120 of the Fourth Age, Legolas followed at last the desire of his heart and sailed over Sea.
We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. If this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it. But it is said that Gimli Elf-friend went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him. More cannot be said of this matter.