The Dwarves had regained Erebor during the Battle of Five Armies, Thorin had slain Azog the Defiler but was badly wounded during the battle. He survived thanks to the elves best healers and he was crowned by the rest of his people. His nephews Kili and Fili survived the battle thanks to the elf woman Taurial, though Fili was wounded badly to the point the dwarves did not think he should be the next king of Erebor.
Which is why they had decided in a counsel that after a few successful years of ruling Thorin should take a wife and father his own heirs to the throne. He was not pleased by this but he would do what was best for his people as he had always done.
That was when they were told that they would be entertaining the idea that outside races would be allowed to offer there women of noble birth for consideration for marriage. Thorin did not like that this opened up the floor for grandstanding by the elves, humans, and whatever else decided to come forward.
For Thorin that was only the start for him. He had much to do for heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Things had changed for his nephews Kili and FIli as well. Fili had suffered the misfortune of falling to the blade of the orcs during the battle and had been made infirm as a result. He needed care from nurses most of the time and got around on a cane though he struggled with even that much. Fili was a stubborn dwarf like all in his line so he refused help on most occasions, he was withdrawn from the others due to his injuries.
Kili on the otherhand had had it a bit better since the battle. He had married the she elf Tauriel and they had moved from Erebor to the edge of the Mirkwood. They traveled together always searching out new skies to lay there heads under. They had no children as of yet but he promised to send word back to his family if she ever found out she was having a baby.
Bilbo had since left Erebor and had been on a few adventures since they had given him a taste of the dangerous life. He stayed in the Shire most of the time and wrote the dwarves often, he even told them of the progress on the tree he had planted. He was even making plans to travel to the mountain once again, he wanted to catch up with the others.
Most of the dwarves had remained at Erebor the only ones who had continued to travel was Dori, Gloin, Dwalin, And Balin. They had returned to the mountain though to see Thorin select his bride.
Gandalf had been traveling the world twice over trying to protect it from the growing evil he could sense growing in the lands. With Orc packs and goblin hordes growing larger each day he was living in constant fear for the people of the world. He wanted to know that he was doing his part to protect them, it was his duty to this world. He had also heard of the approaching choice that laid on the King Under the Mountain so he had made plans to travel with Bilbo to the mountain.
Bard the Bowman and his people had moved to the city of Dale, they restored it as much as they could for the wreckage that the city had become. The dwarves had been a big help with their skill with stone work. He had been made the official leader of the city when his heritage had been found out and he was the dragon slayer after all. He was hero and had lead the city well in his time as Lord, he was also putting two brides before the king to be selected.
Thranduil the king of the wood elves of Mirkwood had a rocky truce with the dwarves and had sent word that he would be putting a young bride forward for consideration. He knew his bride would not be top of the pick but he also knew that they all relied on trade with one another to survive. He had more respect for Thorin and his people since his wife’s diamonds of pure starlight had been returned to him.
Legolas had been out into the world where he had met the man Strider his father had mentioned. Though he is briefly returning to the mountain to be sure the bride arrives safely. he was expected to be there to escort the young lady to the halls in safety.
*** Chapter One ***
Bilbo arrived at the mountain with Gandalf the Grey just as the afternoon sun was setting on the first day of spring. A perfect season for a courtship, Bilbo thought with a slight chuckle. He didn’t think that Thorin was too happy about the impending marriage with a woman he was only going to know for a few weeks before he married her.
“There is something I don’t understand Gandalf and maybe you could help me.” Bilbo said with a twitch of his nose.
“Oh and what is that dear Bilbo?” Gandalf asked glancing down at him.
Bilbo came to a stop before they had arrived onto the bridge heading up to the gates of Erebor.
“Why are they asking Thorin to marry now? He has only been a king for three years and he is showing no signs of infirmity or old age. So why does it matter that he marries this spring or the next?” Bilbo asked frowning.
“They are wanting to ensure that someone born of Durin is made King after Thorin is gone from this world. Fili is not fit anymore to be a King and Fili has chosen a life of wandering over being king. If they had Balgat Escort children there would not be a press on Thorin but neither of them have had children, and only one had married.” Gandalf explained softly.
“Oh so they are just wanting him to marry so that he can… have children.” he said blushing deeply.
“Oh yes that is the way their people work dear Bilbo. But it is not just a dwarf queen they will see about having though they are more likely to choose a dwarf. There will be elves, humans, and whatever else decides they need ties to the mountain.” Gandalf said with a smile. “They are not all happy about this but Thorin knows it is his duty to marry.”
“I just can’t imagine how he feels having to do it this way. Have them briefly trotted out to speak to them for a minute and then make a choice on that alone.” Bilbo shook his head confused.
“Well my friend we will see what is to unfold we are lucky enough to have arrived the day before all of this is to begin.” Gandalf said with a smile. “I belive many hope him to favor King Thranduil’s bride, she is quite the choice.”
“You know one of the brides?”
“Oh yes Thranduil’s choice is his own niece Arnial Stormblade. She is his fallen brother’s daughter and when her parents died she was raised in his house as his own. The young elf was made captain of the king’s guard.”
“If she is so important to him then why offer to send her away?” Bilbo asked looking up at Gandalf.
Gandalf looked down at the hobbit with a gentle smile.
“I think you will understand when you have the privilege of meeting the lady.”
The two continued on in silence the rest of the way till they arrived at the bridge leading up to the gates of the dwarven city of Erebor. The large stone city was hand carved by the ancient masters of carven stone. Everything in the city of Erebor had been crafted many centuries ago and had lasted even through a dragon attack. The masters had even carved giant stone axe weilding warriors to stand on either side of the giant gate. The city even had the new banners of the house of Thorin Oakenshield.
The banner was a royal purple and black border color that spoke of the status of the one it represented. The symbol of Durin was the background with an oak tree standing center, its branches stretching far and it’s roots digging deep. It symbolized that through the new king and his bloodline the house of Durin would continue for centuries to come.
Everything seemed complete, Bilbo thought but then he saw the king.
Thorin Oakenshield stepped out onto the balcony looking down at the coming visitors. Seeing the king added more to the sight before them, it made Erebor seem complete now looking at it.
Thorin stood proudly on the balcony, a circlet style crown of silver metal and a blue sapphire set center, he wore a deep blue robe with white fur on the edges, and he wore gray beneath the cloak. On his back hung the elvish blade Orcrist, they could recognize the jeweled hilt. He stood proud as his rein was ensured by the thousands of his people living in the mountain.
As he stood on the balcony he was joined by the others from the party that had sought to free the mountain.
As Bilbo and Gandalf approached they began to yell greetings to the two. When they were closer the company disappeared from the balcony to no doubt meet them at the gate, Bilbo thought. He found out he was not wrong as the other members of his company came running out to greet them, although Thorin walked at a brisk pace instead. They all hugged and shook hands in greeting.
When Thorin stepped up to Bilbo he had a warm smile on his face “Bilbo my friend you have been missed.”
Thorin enveloped Bilbo in his arms in a warm hug. It had been a few years since they had seen one another, over the course of the quest for the mountain they had become good friends. Even through Thorin’s dragon sickness he had stayed true to the king under the mountain, thankfully they had not found the Arkenstone which had been the reason for the dragon sickness. The two had been friends through the hardest of trials and it had lasted even now.
“Thorin it is so good to see you again.” Bilbo said smiling. “Perhaps I should say ‘your majesty’ though?”
“My friend you will never call me by something so formal or bow to me.” Thorin said gesturing to the hall ahead of them. “I’m sorry it has been so long since we have seen one another.”
“Yes, you arrive in time for him to settle down and do no more wandering ever again.” Fili said with a smirk laughing. “Maybe you’ll meet your own little someone during your visit here.”
Bilbo didn’t miss the waggle of Fili’s brows as he smiled back at him over his shoulder. Bilbo had to admit he was glad to see the young dwarf in such high spirits since his injury. He couldn’t helpp but note that he was walking with a cane that he was leaning heavily on when he needed to get around.
Fili’s wound had been almost fatal but by the grace of the elven healers and whatever gods the dwarves believed in he had pulled through. He had been luck but due to his Balgat Escort Bayan injuries he would never be king which was why Throin was due to be married by the end of the spring. Fili had been excited by the group returning to the mountain but now as he was enfeebled in the eyes of some of the people it had stolen some of the charm. Word had spread he was wanting to leave the mountain and live in the wilds with his brother.
Bilbo could see that other members of the company had been married, those that had families before had their children with them at the gate. He could see young Gimli son of Gloin standing around with the other young warriors.
Gandalf looked to the top of the hall and frowned slightly as they stopped in the center of the front hall, the company was walking to the throne room deep inside the mountain. It sat atop of the stairs that lead down into the treasurey where the gold and the dragon had been years before, now vaults had been built to store the treasure properly.
“So I see the humans and dwarves are already here for you to choose from, may I ask why you have delayed the elves from attending?” Gandalf asked sounding suspicious.
Thorin paused and looked back at the wizard with a slight frown. He looked slightly angry but at the same time embarrassed by being found out by the man.
“Please wizard we all know it is a formality, if I’m to marry then it will come down to dwarf or man. You know how I feel about elves.” he said with a sigh.
“You still cling to your foolish prejudice?” Gandalf spat angrily.
“Why do you care if I marry the elf or one of the others?” Thorin asked with a huff. “What could the elves offer that would be worthy of the throne of Durin? Answer me that.”
“Thorin Oakenshield you need to understand that the elves are a proud people this slight will not make the people of Durin look good among the other houses. The woman Thranduil has chosen for you is important to him and honestly the woman is worthy of your respect, she is the one of her people that has stood by dwarves.”
“What do you mean Gandalf?” Nori asked softly.
“This woman can be found in the texts of your people as well as her’s I’m sure. Arnial Stormblade has been friend to the dwarves for years, she has been punished for the loyalty she has shown your people. There are many things that the elf Stormblade is but worthy of your contempt is not one of them.” Gandalf took a deep breath sounding furious.
Thorin looked at the older man and his frown turned to a contemplative.
“We shall see Gandalf, I will wait for your precious elves. Please everyone go and explore we shall meet in the dinning hall at dusk.” Thorin said with a smile and a gesture to the outter halls. “Dwalin, Balin and Bilbo would you accompany me please?”
The three fell into step with Thorin as he walked to the deep recesses of the mountain vaults.
“Where are we going Thorin?” Balin asked tugging at his white beard.
“I want to see the hall of records.” Thorin said darkly.
Legolas was sitting at the edge of the river watching the sunset, he was cleaning his blades with an old rag he had been using for years. He looked out at the sun with a smile, he had not returned home since Tauriel Had left to be with Kili the dwarf, his cousin’s possible marriage had been what brought him back. He was looking forward too seeing her in a few hours, growing up they had been like siblings raised in the same house.
He had not seen her in some time either due to his father’s army heading into the wood after the spiders and orc packs that were encrouching into there homelands. She was a leader among the soldiers, her father being the oldest she really should have been the next in line for the throne. She had renounced the throne when her father had died all she asked was to be a member of the royal army, she had risen to the higher ranks quickly.
She would be returning at dusk he was told so long as nothing had delayed her arrival.
Legolas stood up putting his blades up in the sheeth and turned to head back to his father’s palace. He ran through the tree and with a warriors grace climbed into the branches to make better time heading home. As he watched the edge of the trees he smiled, he could see the light of torches heading to the temple. He knew it would be his cousin and as he ran his joy grew thinking of the reunion.
He reached the bridge where he could see his father Thranduil coming towards him with a few of his aides close behind. He could also see a few female aides that he knew would be attending to his cousin once she had unwound from the trip. As Legolas took his place at his father’s side he they both looked towards the growing light of the torches.
“It will be good to see her again.” Legolas said with a smile.
“I have missed having her here. She was always so full of joy.” Thranduil whispered softly. “She has had a hard life maybe this marriage will smooth things out for her.”
“Do you really think Oakenshield will choose her?”
“I have arranged to have an elf noble waiting Escort Balgat for her hand if the marriage to Oakenshield fails.” Thranduil replied with a nod.
“Do you think she’ll agree to that?”
“She agreed to marry the dwarf why not an elf should this fail.”
Legolas nodded his head slowly and they turned to see a few elves break the treeline carrying torches behind them trailed a few of the soldiers returning to rest. One paused in the treeline to remove a helmet and he could see that it was his cousin, she had changed with time but she would always be the lovely elfling she had left the temple as.
“Cousin Arnial -yes na- mara ana cen-tye.” Legolas called eagerly waving his hand.
Translation: Cousin Arnial it is good to see you.
“Legolas! Mime tar!” She called back face lighting with a smile.
As she removed her helmet it was then in the torch light that they could see the change in her. She had long auburn hair that hung straight down her back, her eyes were emerald green, her skin porcelain white with a flush to her cheeks, her figure was like most elves slim muscles with a beautifully built body, and he could barely see the scars from here. Each scar was it’s own story of her life. She wore the bronzed armor that the elves wore and on her hip she wore her elvish blade of Orsmir.
Legolas ran to meet her halfway and they embraced each other laughing joyously.
“I have missed you greatly cousin.” She said in a soft voice like an angel’s song.
“And I you please come inside and rest you have had a long trip.” Legolas said pulling her long with him.
Arnial smiled and turned to look at the king, when she reached him she took a knee bowing her head to him. Thranduil let his hand rest gently against the back of her head carressing her head like a father seeing his daughter again.
“Dearest Arnial please rise. I have aides here to take care of you while we prepare for your marriage, what your doing for your people is very noble.” Thranduil said with a smile.
“It is my honor Uncle.” She said softly.
Arnial rose from her knee and walked with her family into the temple where the female elves began to flock around her fussing over her. She smiled indugently to the young women who were barely more then girls even for elves they were quite young. They were eager to impress someone from the royal family that could elevate their status more among the elves, being servants to the king was considered high status.
When they were inside and sat together to eat they spoke of her missions in the woods. They were eager to hear how the attacks against the orcs had gone in the woods. She assured them that they were keeping them at bay in the west but she worried about the east heading towards Erebor they had very few soldiers spared there, she worried some could slip through. She recounted tales of the warg packs that had been at odds with the spiders.
They spoke well into the night and then as they grew weary all said their goodevenings to part for their own rooms within the temples.
“Legolas it has been an age since I walked these halls would you show me the way?” Arnial asked with a tired smile.
He glanced to the aides that had fallen asleep on the lounge chairs closer to the balcony, they were young and had been flitting about readying things all day. He knew they had exhausted themselves today.
They walked quietly through the halls passing hardly a soul as most had turned in for the night at the dismissal of the king. They were silent most of the way until he could see she was fidgetting with the hilt of her sword.
“What is it?” he whispered.
“I worry about tomorrow. Thorin Oakenshield.” she whispered looking to the floor.
“He would be lucky to have you cousin.” he replied softly. “He has no idea what you’ve suffered for his people all those years ago.”
“I have no plans on telling him either.” Arnial said with a smile. “I hear good things about the king under the mountain from those who have served him. I’ve even heard about his dragon sickness. Is the Arkenstone still missing?”
“At the moment they are still looking for the stone but many hope it isn’t found.”
“I’m told it was responsible for the dragon sickness that overtook the king.”
They reached her room without having met anyone in the halls, they stopped at the wooden double doors and smiled at each other. She stood at the door her hand touching the carved wood lightly as she seemed to be somewhere else in her mind. with a sigh she opened the door and turned to look back at her cousin.
“It will be a long day tomorrow I think we both need our rest.” she said softly. “Goodnight Legolas.”
Legolas touched his hand to his heart and extended it as if he were handing her something, Arnial immediately answered with the same gesture in turn. It was a traditional elven greeting or parting message between family.
Thorin sat down in the record rooms looking through scrolls dating back to when his great grandfather had been king, it was here that he found the first mention of Arnial Stormblade. He was surprised by the lengths the woman had gone to serve his grandfather and as he sat back in the chair he contemplated what he wanted to say to her when she arrived.