[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, Claire Forlani as Lady Constantia, and Henry Cavill as Captain Laurad, 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: With two royal couples–the Elven King Thranduil and his Lady Constantia, and the Dwarven King Thorin and his Queen Sulisha–and the Dwarven and Human couple of Captain Laurad and his wife Eleanor having tete-a tetes after the Tournament Eve banquet, the strength of these loving bonds is clearly evident. And then there is the newly emerging bond being forged by the courting betrothed Dwarven pair of Prince Fili of Erebor and Princess Bethelwyn of the Iron Hills. As the Iron Hills Cultural Exhibition and Tournament of Champions gets underway on the morrow, there will beinteresting developments and secrets partially revealed.
“Thorin’s Journey: An Unexpected Love”, Ch. 12: The Iron Hills Tournament of Champions Begins and Ends
The great horns have blasted their announcement of the start of the Iron Hillls Cultural Exhibition and Tournament of Champions in honor of King Thorin and Queen Sulisha’s wedding trip coming to a close with their stay at the Iron Hills Palace Fortress ofKing Dain of the Iron Hills. This bright and warm autumn day, the Elven and Dwarven royalty have taken their places on the specially erected awning covered stage inside the Iron Hills Palace Fortress where the Dwarven, Elven, and Human exhibitions of culture are spread throughout the surrounding city where shops with gaily festooned banners also tout the artisan and industry of the local citizens.
Everyone sitting on their thrones on the stage party–with King Dain’s and King Thorin’s throne’s significantly elevated so as to make their heads even with the statuesque Elven King Thranduil–is resplendent in their regal finery of silver for the Elves of MIrkwood, black for the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, and gold for the Dwarves of Erebor. The Humans having no royalty–only an elected mayor so foul of manner and fashion so as to offend the delicacy of the ladies–are not afforded space upon the stage, but rather, he sits at its base.
The Elven Queen Consort Lady Constantia, Princess Bethelwyn of the Iron Hills, and Queen Sulisha of Erebor sit in a row behind their royal Kings–but with ample views of the festivities–they are similarly color hued attired as their future husband, father, and husband, respectively. The royal ladies chat companionably as they interestedly view the parade of cultural exhibitor representatives bow, hold out their artifact for review, then bow again before the next one comes before them. The ladies are particularly interested in the textiles, musical instruments, children’s toys, and miniature samples of carved furniture or ornamental architecutural features, etc.
Whilst the royal men? Well, the royal men are brooding about being stuck inside the Iron Hills Fortress walls with the cultural exhibitions representatives parade when there are manly displays of skill and daring to be viewed outside the fortress walls in the Iron Hills Tournament of Champions. To be sure, the Human ambassadorial contingent of the Mayor of Laketown and the citizen’s champion Bard the Bowman at the foot of the stage are also grumpy for similar reasons.
For the Iron Hills Tournament of Champions [(2) right] has drawn competitive entrants from far and wide to compete for the honors and for the prize rewards of coins. Archery, sword play, horse riding, bucking bull warg riding, strength, agility, engineering problem solving, war tactics, magic, arts and entertainment, and more events that will all have young and old, rich and poor, and friend and foe alike vying for the distinction of being judged to be the best in Middle Earth.
Then their host King Dain of the Iron Hills has a welcome thought as he turns left to King Thorin and then right to King Thranduil.
King Dain: “Royal gentlemen. It strikes me that we should make ourselves present at the events of the Tournament of Champions outside the Iron Hills Fortress walls, so that our kingdoms’ respective competitors are encouraged to perform at their best.”
King Thranduil raises his thick brown eyebrows. He is in agreement, but ever disdainful of Dwarven suggestions–even those he agrees with–King Thranduil says nothing.
King Thorin: “That seems appropriate, King Dain. What say you King Thranduil? Shall we throw our lot in with our men and tour the tournament events?”
All eyes turn to King Thranduil, who gazes upon them in return. Then he replies with that hint of Elven ennui that is ever present in the thousands of year old King Thranduil’s voice.
King Thranduil: “Perhaps. However, since the outcome of these tournament events is a foregone conclusion, I see little point in exerting ourselves amongst what are sure to be the hot and sweaty competitors.” Though King Thranduil ruminates, that Elves do not sweat, they merely perspire.
King Thranduil: “Ah! I see that you concur.” King Thranduil smiles smugly [(3) right]. Though, perhaps, King Thranduil is forgetting about the Bull Warg Riding competition–that no Elven man would deign to enter so undignified a competition.
King Dain: Standing up to his full height of four foot ten inches–that still only brings King Dain nose to nose to the Elven King Thranduil whose chair is at a lower elevation–King Dain sputters. “I most certainly do not concur, you tall bag of aging white hair!”
King Thorin: Also rising to stand, the majesticall five foot four inch tall King Thorin calmly weighs in–his own streaks of grey hair lending him distinction. “Gentlemen, gentlemen. Decorum, please!”
King Thranduil: “Speak admonishments to your own kind, King Thorin.” King Thranduil tosses off petulantly, his head turned away in an Elven pout.
King Thorin: “Thranduil and Dain,” King Thorin intentionally forgoes their royal titles as a means of diminution. “I speak to all who would imply that one competitor is better than another without first seeing the proof of that confirmed, or who would seek to insult a guest in so grievously uncharitable a manner.” King Thorin glares at both of his royal king counterparts.
Princess Bethelwyn: Poking her head forward toward the men, she chirps to her father King Dain. “Oh Papa! You and the other Kings go have your fun with the tournament. We ladies will represent you with the cultural exhibits. Won’t we ladies?”
Both Lady Constantia and Queen Sulisha nod. And then I can slip away and see Prince File compete, Princess Bethelwyn thinks minxiously to herself.
Queen Sulisha: Seeking to assuage the Elven Kings’ concerns, Queen Sulisha kindly offers [(4) right] a possible solution . “Do not fear, King Thranduil. We will watch over Lady Constantia. And if she appears unwell, we will repair inside where it is cooler.”
Lady Constantia: “Thank you.” She nods with a smileto her new friend Queen Sulisha. King Thranduil also nods his thanks to Queen Sulisha.
KingThorin: “Cooler? Are you feeling the heat, My Dear Queen Sulisha. Should you not think about going inside as well? You do look a bit pale.” He clasps her arm in caring concern.
Queen Sulisha: “I thank you for your consideration, My Husband. I am also feeling the heat. So if it also pleases you , King Thranduil, and King Dain,we ladies will remove ourselves to the Throne Room for the remaining cultural exhibitor presentations.”
Princess Bethelwyn: “Inside? But I was hoping to visit the exhibits in the city and then to see my fiancé Prince Fili compete?” She pouts prettily.
King Dain: “Now Bethy, as my hostess, your duties come before pleasure.” He gently chides her with his finger under her chin.
Queen Sulisha: Hoping to broker a compromise, Queen Sulisha suggests. “Princess Bethelwyn, with your father King Dain’s permission, might I request that you represent we royal ladies and visit the cultural exhibits and then the tournament events as you just suggested? With your ladies in waiting and your guard contingent, ofcourse.”
Princess Bethelwyn: “Papa?” Princess Bethelwyn looks up at her father hopefully.
King Dain: “Bethy, if it is Queen Sulisha’s suggestion, then I will bow to her wishes.” He bows to Queen Sulisha and she nods back to him.
Princess Bethelwyn: “Thank you, Papa!” Princess Bethelwyn claps her handswith glee, then she hugs her father in thanks.
King Dain: “There there, My Bethy.” King Dain smiles indulgently as he pats her back.
King Thorin: “Well then, gentlemen? Let us collect the Human Laketown ambassadors at the base of the stage and attend the Tournament of Champions events.” He extends his arms wide.
King Dain: “Must we be saddled with the Humans?” King Dain grouses.
King Thranduil also wonders that as he ever so slightly tilts his head with pursed lips.
King Thorin: “We must.” King Thorin shakes his head ruefully. “We are all citizens of Middle Earth. And perhaps the fates will transpire to give the Humans an edge in one of the competitions.”
King Thorin states wryly. Then all three kings burst into laughter at King Thorin’s great jest.
Happily the Human Ambassadors of Laketown at the base of the stage are sitting too far away to hear them being slighted. And Bard the Bowman flexes his hands in anticipation of him competing in the archery tournament this day.
Then the Elven and Dwarven Kings and the Human Ambassadors mount their horses and canter out of the Iron Hills Palace Fortress with their guards–including Captain Laurad for the Dwarven King Dain. And Princess Bethelwyn first views the cultural exhibit booths around the city before setting off on her horse with her ladies and guards to view the tournament events as well–and to see her fiancé Prince Fili compete.
So the Elven Queen Consort Lady Constatia and the Dwarven Queen Sulisha of Erebor gratefully repair inside to the cooler climate of the Iron Hills Palace Throne Room for the remaining presentations by the representatives of the Dwarven, Elven, and Human cultural exhibitors. And as they regally walk to their respective thrones, both royal ladies lay protective hands upon their abdomens.
Once ensconced upon their comfortably pillowed thrones as the cultural exhibitors file past them with their artifacts–with Lady Constantia and Queen Sulisah nodding and smilling appropriately–they chat companionably and privately in hushed vocal tones.
Queen Sulisha: “Constantia, do you find that the cooler climate of this Throne Room is more agreeable to you now?” She asks considerately while still nodding at the various cultural exhibitors passing in front of them.
Lady Constantia: “Indeed it is. Thank you for your solicitous concern, Sulisha.” Both ladies nod and smile sweetly to each other. “And you? Are you feeling revived? Your color seems to be returning. Though perhaps we should partake of some food and drink to help sustain us.”
Queen Sulisha: Queen Sulisha blanches at the mention of food. “My Lady, I beg your pardon, but the mention or even the thought of food just now, seems to be contrary to my constitution.”
Lady Constantia: “Oh?” Her ears perk up. “And is this a sudden onset of stomach upset symptoms? Or have you had them for a while?” She asks knowingly.
Queen Sulisha: “Eating the past few days have been trying for me in the day time. Though at night, I am ravenous and eat far more at dinner than I normally would.” Queen Sulisha shakes her head ruefully, wondering ifshe will have to have her gowns let out from all of the wedding trip partying she and King Thorin have been feted to.
Lady Constantia: “I see.” She smiles more broadly. “And have you told King Thorin yet that he is to be a father?”
Queen Sulisha: Her eyes widening, Queen Sulisha turns her head in astonishment to Lady Contantia. “What? Am I to be a mother? How can you tell?”
Lady Constantia: Laying her hand gently upon Queen Sulisha’s lower arm resting on the adjacent throne chair’s arm, Lady Constantia asks in a hushed voice. “Have you stopped bleeding?” Queen Sulisha nods.
Queen Sulisha: She nods. “Last month. But we have been so busy with the wedding and our wedding trip, that I have had naught the time to consider its import.”
Lady Contstantia: “Well then, naturally, you will want to be examined by your Dwarven physicians for direct confirmation. But I find that in matters of the getting and the birthing of babies, our races of peoples have similar experiences.” Lady Constantia states as a Human masquerading as an Elven woman–whom the Elven physicians have not even guessed that she was Human. “You are with child, My Dear.” She smiles happily for her.
Queen Sulisha: “A baby!” She whispers. “Then perhaps my small gift to my husband King Thorin that my tapestry visions foretold is our own child–and not the Human-Dwarven blended races child, Laurel, our ward.”
Lady Constantia: “Perhaps so. And I have some ginger root that you can grate into hot tea that will help settle your stomach for you.”
Queen Sulisha: “Thank you for your gracious help.” She smiles in gratefulness.
The two queens clasp hands in friendship at sharing such a momentous secret with each other.
Meanwhile, the royal kings and Human Ambassadors are delighted to be unburdened by some tedious protocol–with them ducking out of the cultural exhibits presentations in favor of viewing the Tournament of Champions Events outside of the Iron Hills Fortress walls.
Turning east, the first event they come across near the next Fortress entryway gate is the Bull warg riding contest. And it seems that there are several categories based upon the rider’s height and weight in proportion to the Warg he is riding. Such that Dwarven Lord Dwalin of Erebor is now riding a medium sized warg–quite skillfully–managing to stay on the beast the requisite amount of minutes before a handler covers the animals eyes with a cloth and the beast quietens down. Whereas the smaller and younger Dwarven man named Ori is yet to ride a small Warg. And a Human Laketown competitor named Grix is slated to tackle riding the largest Warg. All men acquit themselves admirably–with only Ori being bucked off, but still winning his division since there were no other competitors. So the Kings and the Mayor of Laketown congratulate their winning competitors.
In moving to the other fortress gate stations, there are other tournament competitions of horse riding, boulder tossing for strength, and a maze of changing shapes and pathways for agility, magical duels by the wizards, and a problem solving task involving ferrying eggs from point A to point B without dropping or cracking them. At each event, a sampling of Elves, Dwarves, and Humans are among the top three winning competitors.
But it is the final competition event this day of Archery–with all races competing–that draws the royal Kings’ keen attentiveness. Even Princess Bethelwyn is in attendance now to watch her fiancé Prince Fili of Erebor compete. And there are two competitors per Middle Earth Race–Prince Legolas and Captain Tauriel for the Elves, Princes Kili and Fili for the Dwarves, and Bard and Grix for the Humans. Actually, King Dain has a superior archer in Laurad, the Captain of his personal guards. But Captain Laurad is acting in that capacity–as guard–and therefore, is not available to compete.
After each round of archery shots are tallied, the targets are moved twenty yards further away. It is when the targets are some 80 yards away that the contestants are down to just three persons–the Dwarven Prince Fili, the Human Bard, and the Elven Prince Legolas. Of course, King Thorin and King Thranduil are proud of their respective competitors and kin.
However, it is Bard the Bowman–whose prowess is legendary since he comes from a long line of Bowman–who wins the final round and takes first place in the archery competition to the cheering spectators delight. Prince Legolas is second, and Prince Fili has to be content with third place. Although, the coddling attentions of his fiancé Princess Bethelwyn makes up for Prince Fili’s disappointment. And Bard will take home a nice purse for his family in Laketown.
Then as congratulations are given all around–in the spirit of sportsmanship–there is a commotion in the crowd as the Wizard Gandalf tries to push his way through.
Gandalf the Grey: “Make way, you fool!” Gandalf pushes aside the outlandishly dressed Mayor of Laketown as he runs toward King Thorin. “Thorin! Thorin! They are coming!”
King Thorin and King Dain, and King Thranduil all turn to see the clearly distressed Wizard Gandalf stopping in front of them. Then, there is a rumble and a great thud below ground. The Iron Hills Tournament has an abrupt end. Everyone stops speaking or moving as they try to remain upright. The Kings and competitors look at each other with incredulity.
And the Queenly Ladies Sulisha and Lady Constantia in the Iron Hills Palace Throne Room exchange worried looks as their guards and ladies quickly usher them to outer wall rooms that are more fortified–to avoid the possibility of collapsing walls were the quakes to continue.
Quakes in Middle Earth are not usually felt this far East. But these are not shifting tectonic plates, but are of other worldly forces. Then there is a great cracking sound as miles away at the edge of the Iron Hills mountain range lands a fissure opens up in Middle Earth with a great shudder. It is is too far away for anyone inside or outside of the Iron Hills Palace Fortress to see clearly what is going on. The spectators and competitors hurry inside the fortress walls in a panic. But Kings Thorin, Dain, and Thranduil stoically remain outside curiously watching with their guards and retinue. They are concerned that the Goblins or even the Orcs might attack.
Then Wizard Gandalf notices a company of Eagles circling the area of the fissure–with them rising even higher in the air than they usually fly. Down below them, the Eagles see the dark trench that is the now opened fissure. Yet, there seems to be light coming from it. Though, the wary Eagles do not fly lower to ascertain the light’s source.
And that is wise as first one winged claw hand and then another winged claw hand clutches at the top of the fissure opening–the remnants of its shimmering egg shell still clinging to it, and with the Sun’s rays reflective off of the shell pieces. That was the light that the Eagles saw, reflected Sun light.
The emerging young Dragonling creature looks up and sees the Eagles flying above it. And then in a burst of motion, the Dragonling thrusts itself up and out of the fissure, only to flop onto the top of the ground. Its wings are still too young to fly, but it eventually rights itself and flaps its winged hands at a particular Eagle that it saw first, trying to get its attention. The Dragonling coughs smoke, but it spews no fire–it still being too young for that. Then the Dragonling sits on its haunches waiting patiently for attention–as the Eagles circle it in cautious observation.
Six of the twenty Eagles peel off from their circling company and fly swiftly to the Iron Hills fortress where the three Kings and Wizards are. Once there, Gandalf consults with the Eagles through telepathy and discovers about the recently hatched Dragonling–something never witnessed before. After Gandalf and the three Kings consult, they propose to have the Eagles fly them back to investigate. Though the Kings respective guards warn vociferously against it, Kings Thorin, Dain, and Thranduil–as well as the Wizard Gandalf, the Human Bard and the Dwarven Captain Laurad–insist on flying to see what is happening.
Once the Eagles set them down fifty yards from the fissure, the Kings, Wizard, Human, and Dwarven guard see that there are not one, but now three Dragonlings sitting on their haunches in a line in front of the fissure and looking up at the Eagles circling above them–ignoring the other living objects standing before them. The Kings look at each other in astonishment that the dragonlings are ignoring them. Actually, the dragonlings eyesight is not all that distinct yet, they detect movement–and thus the flying Eagles gained their attention. Gandalf is the first to speak to the Kings in hushed tones.
Gandalf: “My Kings, the Eagles have related a rather startling supposition.”
Bard: “I do not care what that supposition is–other than that we need to kill these dragons before they can grow strong enough to do us harm–as the Dragon Smaug did to Erebor.”
There are grumblings of assent amongst the Kings and the Dwarven guard Captain Laurad. But their mutterings are quashed.
Gandalf: “I was not speaking to you, Human.” Gandalf snaps. “The Eagles think that these Dragonlings are just hatched and looking for their mothers.”
King Thranduil: “That is absurd!” King Thranduil scoffs.
King Thorin: But with a growing awareness, King Thorin [(5) right] understands Gandalf’s implication. “In the name of Durin, are you saying that these Dragonlings … do not know that they are Dragons?”
Gandalf: “Precisely! They are baby birds for all the Dragonlings know–and the Eagles are their Mothers. After all, culture is a learned thing.”
King Dain: “Ach! What of animal instinct? These Dragonlings will be spewing fire and devastation soon enough! I agree with Bard. We should kill them all.”
King Thorin: “No!” Thorin says forcefully. “This may be our opportunity to tip the balance scale in Middle Earth–by also gaining the Dragons to our side in the fight against evil forces.”
Gandalf: “Just so. Look! The brave Eagles have descended to the ground directly in front of the Dragonlings. But with Dragon development time frames unknown, they could still spew fire at any moment. So I suggest that we step back, just incase.”
They all do that, carefully watching the Eagles and the Dragonlings from further away. Finally after several moments, the first Dragonling that emerged from the fissure begins to waddle forward. The Dragonling passes by two Eagles, and then it finds the Mother Eaglge that it wants–because the Dragonling saw this Mother Eagle first–and calls to it, as any baby would.
Dragonling1: “Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!” Then the Dragonling opens and closes its mouth several times.
The female Eagle looks down at the small Dragonling–at four feet tall, the Dragonling is currently only one third the size of the impressive Eagle. Then the Mother Eagle lifts its left wing, and the Dragonling toddles forward and nestles in for a cuddle as the Eagle encloses its wing around the Dragonling. The Dragonling purrs having found the safety and caring of a Mother–even if the Mother Eagle is not its real mother. The Mother Eagle chosen first nods to her companion Eagles. Then the other two Dragonlings toddle forward to their imprinted [(6)] Mother Eagles for similar cuddles and protection.
Everyone is speechless.
King Thranduil: “In the thousands of years that I have lived, this sight was never in my wildest imaginings.” He states in great astonishment.
King Dain: “Well, I’ll be!” He scratches his head.
King Thorin: “My fellow Kings, what does one feed a Dragonling?”
Bard darts a wary look at King Thorin–him thinking, not I.
With, essentially, baby Dragons in their charge, the men and Mother Eagles quickly find a nearby cave with a water source to shelter the Dragonlings for the night while they try to figure out what to do with them. The Dragonlings will grow to twice the size of the Eagles–but for now, they are small and manageable. And though Gandalf stays in the cave that night to ascertain if he can read the Dragonlings mind, the rest of their party of Kings and such returns to the Iron Hills Fortress with an incredible tale to tell.
And the Dwarven Captain Laurad–secret husband to Mistress Ella is tasked with leading a small contingent of Dwarven guards back to the Dragonling cave with wagons filled with urns of cows milk for the Dragonlings–and bread, cheese, and wine for Gandalf. They had thought about also bringing boneless chicken for the Dragonlings, but then thought better of giving the Dragonlings meat to eat. Them thinking that maybe they can train the Dragonlings to be vegetarian Dragons–and not people eating Dragons.
And of course, Queen Sulisha will have her own baby tale to tell her husband King Thorin. That is, if she finds the proper moment during the current Dragonling frenzy.
To be continued with Chapter 13
References for Ch. 12, December 21, 2015 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #846)
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) Iron Hills Cultural Exhibits and Tournament of Champions festival flags image was found at http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/35/x190/189765_3.jpg; and a Smaug dragon illustration by Tolkien was found at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ce/6a/9b/ce6a9b83cea551eb80d28260156808bc.jpg
3) Smugly smiling Elven King Thranduil image is Lee Pace in The Hobbit that was found at http://orig15.deviantart.net/4271/f/2015/070/7/0/da2f6c0cffc322b52c2f0b08a77bf485_by_captainamelialover-d8l9zxl.jpg
4) QueenSulisha of Durin in crown is a combination image :
a) of Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian in Robin Hood (2010) and was found at http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/05/07/article-1273120-09527871000005DC-346_306x302.jpg and
b) of a beautiful silver crown that Grati manipped to gold ; by Kelly Graham Designs found at http://www.kellygrahamdesigns.com/images/jewelry/circlets/C181a4.jpg
5) King Thorin in Crown is Richard Armitage in The Hobbint: The Battle of the Five Armies on the Erebor Battlements Jun2815 by TheArkenstone-uk-viaShebaKay
6) For more about the psychology of imprinting, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imprinting_%28psychology%29
N.B. The previous blog link for Ch. 11 is: