[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Cate Blanchett/Liv Tyler as Sulisha Weaverdale, Ken Stott as Balin, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Dean O’Gorman as Prince Fili, Aidan Turner as Prince Kili, Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond, Liv Tyler as Lady Arwen, Lee Pace as King Thranduil, and Billy Connolly as King Dain Ironfoot, Julia Ormond as Mistress Ella, and Claire Forlani as Lady Constantia, and others as noted, etc.]
Author’s Content Note: “Thorin’s Journey: An Unexpected Love” is a story of romance and intrigue set against the backdrop of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (S) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments (D). I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some tense situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s recap of the previous installment: After Queen Sulisha rightly surmises that her baby ward Laurel’s wet nurse is really her mother Mistress Ella of the Iron Hills–a petite Human secretly wedded to the Dwarven Iron Hills Captain of King Dain’s personal guards, Captain Laurad–the queen begins to formulate a plan to bring the baby Laurel’s family together and out in the open under the protection of her husband King Thorin and the House of Durin in Exile. Then when the Elven Queen Consort the pregnant herself Lady Constantia–and unknown to be a Human masquerading as Elven, to all but her husband to be King Thranduil–is quite taken with baby Laurel, Queen Sulisha thinks that she might have an ally.
“Thorin’s Journey: An Unexpected Love”, Ch. 10–Tournament Eve Banquet Diplomacy
The night of the next day before the Iron Hills Exhibition and Tournament of Champions honoring the marriage of King Thorin and Queen Sulisha, King Dain hosts an elaborate state banquet dinner for all–the Dwarves, the Elves, the Wizards, and even the Humans who have finally shown up. And as for the Humans? The Dwarves, and the Elves are in agreement that the Humans are a motley assortment of individuals.
The Wizard’s attempt to be impartial about Humans, but pinched Wizard faces with an air of disgust about them reveal the Wizards’ true feelings. It is not that the Wizards are disdainful of Humans, but that Humans are not of the ilk of Middle Earth–Humans being neither long lived, nor having a royal line, nor possessing special powers–nor in truth are they in sufficient awe of said Wizards.
And with Laketown fish and made goods river trade dampened by the spectre of the Dragon Smaug squatting in the nearby Dwarves of Durin’s former fortress of Erebor and town of Dale–no one wants to be eaten alive when going shopping or hunting–even the most prominent of Laketown’s Human citizens are dressed shabbily. But their clothes are patched and clean and they wear them with pride–as a mark of their resilience.
Among the Humans of Laketown at the Iron Hills gathering is a strappingly muscular mature man named Bard who comes from a long line of Bowmen–his great grandfather Lord Girion of Dale [(2)] having been a guard bowman in the Dale Tower who wounded the Dragon Smaug one hundred and sixty nine years ago. However, unable to ply the family trade of being bowmen to Dwarven Kings, Bard ferries passengers and goods along the river to feed his family of three children.
Of course, by adding Humans to the mix of Dwarves, Elves, and Wizards, anything can happen–and usually does. Slightly taller than Dwarves, Humans mistake their slight height advantage for a skill advantage. And they will have their come uppance at the tournament.
But for now, everyone is all politeness–as the banquet begins. That is the wondrous thing about banquets–food has such a mollifying affect upon various peoples, as well as naturally curbing their ability to speak due to chewing. Though by the looks of some Humans, closed mouth chewing does not seem to be guaranteed–most unfortunately.
And Lady Constantia’s presence at such a visible diplomatic gathering beside her love King Thranduil heralds her esteemed position amongst the Elves–even though she is secretly a tall Human, as King Thranduil knows. And Queen Sulisha and Lady Constantia bonded to such a degree earlier today that they asked to be seated together at the head table. And given her delicate condition–with their baby’s birth being imminent in three months time–King Thranduil acquiesced.
So the head table’s squared edges C seating arrangement is as follows: Prince Kili, Prince Legolas, Prince Fili, Princess Bethelwyn, as well as the Dwarven Lord Balin and Lord Dwalin on the left table section; then King Dain, King Thorin, Queen Sulisha with baby Laurel in a basket to her side, Lady Constantia, and King Thranduil in the middle center dais; Lord Elrond, and his daughter Lady Arwen, then Gandalf the Gray; and finally the Human representatives with the Mayor of Laketown and his nemesis Bard are seated at the right table section. Bard’s children are seated nearby and he keeps a careful watch over them.
Enlivening such banquet gatherings of far flung peoples as Elves, Dwarves, Wizards, and Humans is the entertainment in the form of music and dancers whilst the banquet attendees, dine, converse, and maneuver. First are heard the horn masters of Erebor–proclaiming the start of the meal as 250 attendees are served quickly in ten minutes by 25 servers–each receiving food as to their kind. The Elves are mainly vegetarian. The Dwarves are meat eaters. The Wizards seem to subsist upon cheese and spirits. And the Humans are omnivorous.
Thenst whilst chewing, swallowing, and digesting, the melodious tones of Elven flutes waft soothingly above the attendees’ heads. Queen Sulisha leans ever so slightly toward Lady Constantia to her left, then she reaches down to pat baby Laurel sleeping contentedly between them. Seeing this, Lady Constantia smiles.
Lady Constantia: “You are fortunate that baby Laurel seems so sweet tempered and sleeps during the banquet. Elven children are rarely seen at such affairs until they have reached past their teenaged years. Ha ha ha!”
Queen Sulisha: “I wonder if that is a necessity–it taking so long for Elven children to learn the intricate rules of etiquette? Or, if it is merely a matter of convenience?”
Lady Constantia: “I do not know–my having been too little around truly young Elves within their first decades of life. They are a rarity.” Of course, Lady Constantia is only 30 years old herself. But as a Human, her maturity level at her age is greater than an Elven person at the same age.
Queen Sulisha: “Yes, with Elves living longer lives, having too many babies would cause the population to swell and resources to be diminished.”
Lady Constantia: “Yes. That is why babies are so precious.” Lady Constantia nods in agreement. And the Lady Constantia unconsciously lays her hands upon her six months with child belly.
Queen Sulisha: “Shall we ask King Thranduil for his wisdom upon the matter of Elven children at table?” She has a mischievous glint in her eyes.
Lady Constantia: Looking to her left, Lady Constantia sees King Thranduil deep in conversation with Lord Elrond. “Perhaps now while King Thranduil is speaking with Lord Elrond is not the time.” Lady Constantia has learned to dampen her Human tendencies–such as breaking into a someone else’s conversation uninvited–and she generally tries to be more Elven like and patient. But then, Lady Constantia gasps audibly. “Ohh!” Her baby has given her its first kick.
Lady Constantia startles and looks smilingly over to King Thranduil–who turns toward her having heard her outburst.
King Thranduil: “My Lady Constantia? Are you well?’” His eyebrows furrow together, creating a single shelf of silvered furry brow.
Lady Constantia: “Our baby moves within me, My King.” She says with awe. And she takes King Thranduil’s hand and places it upon her belly. King Thranduil’s eyebrows furrow [(3) right] in disdain for her doing so in public–his spikey crown adding to his intimidating look. And then a little foot presses against its mother’s womb and thus against King Thranduil’s hand and he jerks his head to gaze in wonder at her.
King Thranduil: “I felt that!”
Lady Constantia: “As did I.” She sighs in slight discomfort and covers his hand with her hand.
King Thranduil: “Perhaps you should repair to our guest stateroom and rest, My Lady.” He suggests solicitously of her.
Lady Constantia: “If it pleases you. But I would rather stay at the banquet for a little while longer, if I may, Sire.”
King Thranduil: Reluctantly giving in to his love’s pleading eyes, he relents. “You may stay. But we will retire early this night to see to your rest.”
Lady Constantia: “Thank you.” She smiles gratefully and lovingly at her King and love, Thranduil.
Having watching this little domestic exchange, Queen Sulisha leans over Lady Constantia and asks of King Thranduil.
Queen Sulisha: “King Thranduil, will you allow your coming child and any future children to join you at table as I have done with our new ward baby Laurel?”
King Thranduil: “Certainly not!” Then he sees the disappointment in Lady Constantia’s eyes. And knowing that she will not ask anything for herself, he offers a compromise. “Elven children are zealously guarded from public view until they reach their majority–both for their safety and to allow them time to mature. But perhaps our child may join us for family dining.”
Lady Constantia nods. But Queen Sulisha thinks that somehow, the matter will be taken up at a later date.
Meanwhile at the other end of the banquet dais–tired of watching his nephew Prince Fili flirt with the metal Princess Bethelwyn–King Thorin and King Dain converse between courses.
King Thorin: “I am most impressed with your hospitality and gracious consideration for our comfort. Thank you, King Dain.” King Thorin gazes knowingly, like a predator circling its prey.
King Thorin nonchalantly looks around the room [(4) right] and notices a resolute guard standing behind King Dain–with the guard surveying everything around him, but maintaining a stoic poise that is impressive.
King Thorin: “Please forgive my inquisitiveness, but have I seen that particular guard before, King Dain?” King Thorin tilts his head backward toward the Dwarven guard.
King Dain: “Ach! Thorin! That is Laurad, Captain of my personal guards.”
King Thorin: King Thorin’s eyebrows rise quickly in recognition. For Queen Sulisha had related the tale of baby Laurel’s father, Captain Laurad. “Indeed! He looks to be a fearsome warrior.”
King Dain preens at the recognition for one of his personal guards.
King Dain: “Aye! He is!”
King Thorin: “Would that I had such an exemplar of Dwarven warrior perfection training my guards .” Having planted the seed of Dwarven flattery, King Thorin waits and enjoys his food. Then he makes his real purpose known a few moments later. “As it is, I wonder if you could part with Captain Laurad for a few months to escort us home and to train our guards–for him to escort us home and to train our guards?”
Captain Laurad stands immobilized, waiting for the response. And in a split second that the two Dwarven kings are not looking his direction, Captain Laurad sneaks a furtive glance at his child baby Laurel who is sitting in her basket not five feet away from him. It is the first glimpse that he has had of his daughter since he learned that his human wife Eleanor was in the palace with the Durin King and Queen under the disguised name of Mistress Ella. But even more quickly Captain Laurad’s eyes return to their attention of scanning the room for threats to King Dain’s safety. It is enough, for now, for him to know that he has a daughter and has seen her briefly.
King Dain: “Nay! Laurad will never leave me. He even forgoes having a wife and family, so unswerving is his devotion to me.”
King Thorin: “That is admirable. But I wonder if it is prudent.” King Dain raises his very bushy ginger colored eyebrows. “I do not wish to offend, but should we not encourage and support every Dwarven man to seek a wife and to have children together? It is the only way that our Dwarven peoples will survive.”
King Dain: “Ach! Ye sound like the Wizard Gandalf the Grey!”
King Thorin: “Gandalf! What has he to do with your Captain?”
King Dain: “Gandalf suggested that you would have need of strong warriors at your side for the coming battle.” With wizards also having the gift of sight.
King Thorin: “Battle? But we are not at war? There need be no battle.” King Thorin frowns quizzically.
King Dain: “No? Well, not yet!” King Dain grins.
Tomorrow the Iron Hills Tournament of Champions will begin–testing everyone.
To be continued with Chapter 11
References for Ch. 10, December 05, 2015 Gratiana Lovelace
1) Revised: My “Thorin’s Journey: An Unexpected Love” story cover art I created is comprised of two images:
a) A cropped and masked head shot of a beautiful portrait drawing of Thorin Oakenshield by the talented artist Yanagoya of Thorin holding the Arkenstone found here http://rebloggy.com/post/the-hobbit-yana-art-thorin-arkenstone/41711190148 ; with the Thorin portrait face being in the image (cropped and masked by someone else, unknown) is of the talented actor Richard Armitage who portrayed Thorin in The Hobbit trilogy of films.
b) A cropped section of a screen cap of the Elven cave that I made from the first trailer for THDofS serves as the background image.
c) story cover image link for Wattpad: https://gratianads90.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/thorinsjourneyanunexpectedlove-storycover_oct0815gratianalovelace-256×401.jpg
2) Bard’s family heritage information was found at http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Bard
3) King Thranduil image (crop) is of Lee Pace and was found at http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Thranduil
4) King Thorin in Crown is Richard Armitage in BOFA on Erebor Battlements Jun2815 by TheArkenstone-uk-viaShebaKay
N.B. The previous blog link for Ch. 9 is: