Chapter 1: Spirit ability
Celebrimbor had done his best to defend Eregion once news of Sauron arriving with his army had come. He knew that he was unlikely to win against the Maia, but he did not intend to go down without a fight. As the Elf got some help to get his armor on, his eyes fell on a locked door which only he held the key to.
“I will be right back, just need a few moments alone,” he said to the servants, who hurried away to arm themselves now when their Lord was ready.
Celebrimbor sighed deeply as he opened the door and entered the room. Was it really only just yesterday he had been doing the monthly dusting and airing inside here all by his own? A full day and night since then, which felt more like a century or more.
Caressing a dwarven-styled dress of green silk where it was set up on a doll model, he could almost feel a very faded scent of incense in the fabric. A similar touch on various jewelry in silver and emeralds, laying on soft silk pillows in boxes on tables.
He picked up something from the last box, smaller than the others, which contained a single long braid of thick, white-blond hair.
“Narvi...please, give me strength to survive this mes which I am about to pay for…” he whispered, kissing the braid with the imagination that it was his Dwarven wife's mustache-covered lips, before he gently braided it into his own hair. If Celebrimbor were to die today, he wanted to do it with something of his wife close to him as a small comfort.
In the halls of the Forefathers, Narvi could not shake off the nagging feeling that something was wrong. Terrible wrong. She could feel in the very stones which build up those Halls for the Dwarven race in the afterlife, something which pulled on her, calling to her. And it did not seem to help by working on this spiritual version of the Doors of Durin she had kept herself busy with lately. Oh, how she longed for the helpful hands of Celebrimbor at times, both at work and for other things only happening between a married couple!
“Sis, do you want some fresh bread buns as a snack later when I have made them at the bakery?” her younger sister Loki called, as she was getting herself ready for another working day. No one really knew where food and similar items came from, but given how it played a such big part of their daily life while being in the living world, perhaps it was best to not ask.
“Those with chicken and herbs, I will waste energy on this monster alone.”
She only said so, because it took so much longer time to fix the Doors without a partner. Sure she could have asked a fellow Dwarven stonemason, but it would not feel the same. If she wanted help, it was from her Elven husband.
There it was again, the feeling of danger who only grew louder like the sound of when a cave-in was about to happen. This time, Narvi gave up any attempt of working further and set her hand on the Fëanorian star which served as the centerpiece of the flush stone doors.
The silver Mithril under her hand shone up as a sign of the command to open. She was needed in the living world, and her Elven husband needed her right now.
Not many minutes after that Narvi had left for the living world, her mother Ala arrived there.
“....and I think we need your view on that robe I have made for...Narvi? Narvi, where are you?! Balder! Amad'dli Frigga! Narvi is missing!! ”
The whole city was burning around him, the remaining Elven soldiers doing their best to fight back yet they would all soon fall and join their comrades in the Halls of Mandos unless they were captured alive. Celebrimbor himself struggled to keep himself still on his feet, the cut against his dominant left arm had almost cost him the whole arm above the elbow. Even if he was used to use his right hand or even both hands thanks to being trained by Maedhros so long ago in the First Age, he knew that he was in serious disadvantage against the orcs of Mordor now.
“No! If they captures me, they will bring me to Sauron!”
He knew that Sauron would do anything to make him reveal where the Rings of Power was hidden, even torture him slowly and not allowing him to die before he told him that information. And a such fate was not how Celebrimbor planned to die.
“Catch the Elf Lord!!” a growling voice screamed behind him, a group of orcs tearing apart the stone wall he had been hiding behind.
Not good, if he stayed here, he was bound to be found before he could escape. He had no time to bind up the bleeding wound.
Narvi tried to hurry as fast as she could against Eregion. While it was far easier to just flow in the air, without the weight of a body of flesh and blood, she kept herself close to the ground out of habit from life. It alarmed her greatly to see the heavy pillars of smoke and the light of a huge fire in the distance.
“Celebrimbor…..please do not be there!” she silently pleaded as she kept running.
But Celebrimbor had not managed to escape. Rather, he had been unlucky to be chased right into a trap, where several large orcs had caught him. Now being forced to kneel on the ground, his arms held painfully behind his back, Celebrimbor could do nothing as Sauron came up. Perhaps to mock the Elf, he wore the disguise of Annatar but his voice was the one Celebrimbor had heard when Sauron had finished crafting the One Ring, which rested on a finger:
“Tried to escape, Celebrimbor? Well, I expected that to happen, so I ordered some extra numbers of soldiers with the task of finding you alive. Now, I believe that there is a few secret I want to hear from your lips….”
In a act of defiance, Celebrimbor spit Sauron in the face.
“I would rather die than reveal where the Rings are!” he snarled, a death glare in his eyes worthy that of his paternal family.
“Ah ah, watch what you are saying. I have some ways to loosen that tongue of yours…..!?”
Suddenly a small, bright green light flashed between them, enough bright to temporary blind the Dark Lord for a short moment as it it went though Celebrimbor. But when Sauron focused on Celebrimbor again, the Elven body had gone limb and there was no breathing from his lips or even a heart beat.
“What?! What kind of…?!”
Yet the green light had not vanished far enough in the distance, so Sauron rearranged himself from a body into a spirit, to pick up the hunt on Celebrimbor's soul before it could enter the Halls of Mandos.
Celebrimbor had no proper idea what had happened. One moment he had been held by the orcs, then suddenly feeling weightless. And someone was carrying him in a oddly familiar way….
“Narvi?! ” he gasped at seeing who it was. Yes, it was no one else than his Dwarrowdam wife, it was impossible to mistake that green-and-blue dress with the long white-blonde thick hair braid she always preferred to wear when working.
“Talk later, I need to focus on running right now!” she responded in that deep voice he had never thought that he might hear again outside his memories.
That was very true, since Sauron was chasing after them with a firm determination not to let them escape to safety.
Chapter 2: Those of stone and fire, part 1
The Halls of the Forefathers learns that there is a danger just outside them
Inspiration for this chapter comes from the scene with the Leviathan Attack in the movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Inside the Halls of the Forefathers, Narvi's family was searching for her at all the places she could be found normally.
“Surely she can not be that foolish, entering the living world as a spirit?! It is dangerous to do so!”
Because there were a great many levels built so Dwarves with different professions could work without disturbing each other, they needed to be spread out.
“Hello, miss Loki, I thought that you had some time off right now…” a baker greeted, only to be confused as the younger Dwarrowdam rushed past his place at the table with kneaded bread doughs.
“A certain sister of mine is not where I saw her last! Trying to find her, no time for talk!” Loki responded at turning around at the far dead end in the large bakery and running past him again.
Meanwhile Narvi was kept busy in trying to keep Celebrimbor away from Sauron who kept right on their rear.
“Just what is it with your family that draws unwanted attention from Dark Lords, really?! First your genius grandfather with those shiny gems of his, and then the generation of your father and his brothers trying so hard to defeat the Life-destroyer, and you getting involved with the Burning One?!”
Apparently, Celebrimbor was still a Fëanorian in heart despite disowning his family for their doomed Oath, given how offended his face looked.
“Those “shiny gems ” as my grandfather made, are the last remains of the two Trees of Valinor! They are priceless...whoa!” He was interrupted when Narvi jumped down in a small ravine to avoid a new attack from Sauron, who fully used his powers of fire in a attempt to stop them from getting away.
“This is not the right time for a quarrel, honey.”
Placing her hand on the ground, Narvi showed that despite being a ghost, she still had the same connection to rocks and stone as in life so long ago. A gift unique to the Dwarves from Aulë. Like the tender hands of a mother, the rocks around them closed to form a barrier. As spirits they could escape without actually being trapped there and still hopefully fool Sauron. At the same time, she needed to avoid that Sauron followed after them to the Halls of the Forefathers, or she would land into even bigger trouble than what she would face at bringing Celebrimbor there.
“Any plan outside trying to outrun him? No offensive to you, beloved, but I am in no shape to fight at the moment and you are no warrior...” Celebrimbor asked nervously, using his good arm to cover both their heads despite the rocks around, as he could feel how the air around them started to become warmer, as if a large fire was coming closer to their hiding place.
“Yes, I am not foolish enough to rush around without backup plans. No, I am going to use that special danger system developed in the Halls, thanks to all the genius minds and craftsmen gathering there over the years. I think even your grandfather would be in awe of what we Dwarves have created there.”
Moving her hands to her left upper ear, Narvi touched a new piercing there which Celebrimbor did not recall from her living days, and turned its little decoration diamond 180 degrees which made it change into a red colour.
Suddenly, the heat from the fire became too much and she quickly picked up Celebrimbor, rushing away to avoid that they were hit. As she jumped behind another rock for cover, the fire went past them and all the way up to where the spiritual version of the Doors of Durin still was left open. In fact, some of the fire even went through the doors.
“By the hammer of Mahal, that is gonna cause great alarm all over the Halls,” Narvi cursed in a mix of worry and frustration. Her worries only deepened when she saw that Sauron had summoned the spirits of some really nasty-looking, large orc warriors and trolls to help him capture Celebrimbor again. No, not just a few. A whole army, likely those who had been killed by the Elves in their desperate last stand.
“This is exactly that kind of situation when I wishes that my father and uncles was alive, if only for the sake of some help,” Celebrimbor admitted, knowing far too well that his wife's stone cutting tools to use in her craft as stonemason, gathered in her belt, was not ideal weapons now against enemies in full armor. And his own sword had been lost in the battle when he had been captured to be brought in front of Sauron, only a single dagger remained in his own belt.
“Quit talking and move unless you want to be burned!”
Without hesitation, Narvi pushed Celebrimbor out of the way of a new flame aimed at them both.
By now, words had spread about that Narvi had gone missing and friends of the Asar family helped them to search for her. Frigga even had gone to her old friend Freja, the paternal grandmother to Durin during his second life, to ask for a little help. Freja in turn had brought the request to Durin and his superior queen consort Eydís. As Durin and the other Fathers of the Dwarves was the Dwarves with the most important position in the sociality, it was only normal that they could be asked for help.
“Lord Durin, there is a distress signal coming ín right now. Based on the number code, it is lady Narvi of the Asar family who went missing not even a hour ago from where her family saw her last,” someone reported from a seat at the long distance-messenger, the central one which was used for all levels in the Halls so everyone could hear a order.
“I see. Eydís, gather some of your ladies and see if you can help finding the missing lady in quest…!?”
Durin never got to finish what he intended to ask his Queen consort, because in the next moment, the whole Halls shook like being hit of a earthquake, making everyone lose their balance and falling to the floor. Of course, the violent tremor caused the warning alarms to go off.
“That is the alarm for threats from the outside! Open up the map, we need to find where it could have entered our afterlife! And find where Narvi's distress signal came from!”
Her command was obeyed, and a map over the whole Halls was enlarged on the northern wall by some of the light technology which had been created there over the centuries.
“It came from somewhere close to the western direction, my Lords!”
However, Durin had a fair guess to why the alarm had started in the western part of the Halls.
“I have a bad feeling that this is related to what had been told by the newest arrivals from Khazad-dûm over the past months. Try and see if the number code for Narvi actually is outside the Halls, now!”
In return, they got a rather direct front image of Sauron chasing Narvi and Celebrimbor. Somehow, Durin was not surprised at all that the Dwarrowdam had been bold enough to leave the Halls to try and save the Elf Lord—their friendship was well known after all.
“Eydís, tell the soldiers to gather up in their battle positions in full armor and have the ram cavalry ready to lead the change. Since Celebrimbor gave me one of those Rings of Power not many years before I died in my latest life, I believe that Sauron will try and force him to tell exactly which Dwarves he gave the Rings to, most likely by torture or other painful ways! As a longtime Dwarf Friend, I refuse to have the silver-fisted Elf to suffer a such fate!”
Since Celebrimbor had been a well-known face for the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm even after that Narvi had died, no one questioned why Durin gave that order.
“You all heard the First Father, get yourself ready for battle and do not waste breath on protesting about Celebrimbor not being a Dwarf!” Eydís commanded, showing that while she was no warrior herself, she had trained herself to be a battle commander here in the Halls over the centuries while Durin was reborn in his next lives, studying how the following generations of Dwarves had developed the art of war. As no one wanted to get a tongue lashing from her for being lazy in a situation like this, everyone hurried to obey her orders.
“Tell the priests of Mahal to create their strongest prayer barrier they can do, that Maiarin traitor will not take a single step in here!”
Catching a sight of what her older sister and her Elven husband was facing, a plan started to form in Loki's mind.
“Give me the bridge for the merchant level! Request merchant Balder from the Asar family to be the receiver!” she ordered to a fellow Dwarf at the long distance-messenger station, knowing very well that her father was most likely to be found there.
Balder, who indeed was on that level in the Halls because that had been his craft in life, got a bit surprised when he was told that there was a call from his youngest daughter.
“Adad! I have a possible idea to help Narvi and Celebrimbor escape, but I need permission from you and the chief merchants since you all would be really mad otherwise! ”
Making a face at first since she almost was shouting to be heard over the danger alarms around them both on the different levels, he asked in a more calm voice than what he actually felt on the inside:
“What is the plan, daughter of mine?”
Somehow, he was not surprised at all when she revealed the idea.
“Shooting Sauron with the arrows from our smaller crossbows, with small bags filled with a extreme version of a “ Kiss from the East ”, aiming for his mouth. You know, like mixing the strongest spices we uses for that food dish from the Orocarni. ”
Balder knew which dish she was referring to. A really strong one in terms of seasoning, which only the most strong-willed Dwarves managed to eat without crying and feeling like their months was set on fire. Creating a really extreme version of it...
“Loki, every Dwarf worth his axe knows that sometimes, food is going to be bland on long travels. And all spice merchants know that if we dare to use the spice for the food eaten on the journey between different markets, it is like eating up money we could have earned on selling it instead.”
That was all the permission Loki needed for her idea, and he heard her footstep vanishing without even laying back the speaking horn.
“You heard my lass, start gathering all the dry spices for a big order of “Kiss of the East ” and get them mixed so it can be added into small bags to be shot away! Add in our strongest chili powder for extra strength and heat!”
Chili was one of the most rarest spices, even for the East, and the secret of the pepper plants was guarded most carefully. Sauron would get a tasteful surprise when this was sent against him, and tears from the strong taste would be the last of his worries.
One of the rare female warriors of the Dwarven race, named Brenna, was already getting herself dressed in armour, giving orders as she ran around to find her father. Her accent revealed that her origins was from Belegost in its glory days of the First Age.
“Adad, stop sitting there and get yourself in armour to lead the warriors who once was under your command!” she called to an older Dwarf sitting down at one of the long distance-messenger situations, used to call out orders and information across the Halls.
“You took the Silmaril and threw yourself into a pit of lava to end your life? Maedhros, you really need to meet up with a few of our best therapists for your mental health after being a visitor of Morgoth!” Azaghâl muttered under his breath at what he heard in the head-phones, far from impressed over what his old friend had done. He was not fully sure how he got himself connected to the Halls of Mandos where the Elves had their afterlife, and even less how it had reached Maedhros of all people, but he refused to miss the chance of a quick talk when it was possible.
“Adad!” Brenna shouted in annoyance over being ignored in a such important time as what was happening at the moment. To hear better what Maedhros attempted to say on the other end despite all the noise around him, Azaghâl raised the sound level a little bit.
“The noise over here? Just a signal for some minor battle training to keep us in shape. Elves from Ost-in-Edhil arriving in large number? That city your nephew is supposed to be ruling? No, no, no need for your father-named brother to worry about his silver-handed son, the lad is very finely protected by his wife at the moment since your brother has a daughter-in-law since a couple of centuries back.”
“That is good to hear...hold on, Azaghâl, what did you just say about Celebrimbor? ”
Maedhros was interrupted by a shrill voice which could only belong to Curufin in one of the moments he proved himself to be really alike their father Fëanor:
“WHAT DAUGHTER-IN-LAW?! ”
Not wanting to waste time on explanations the Elves really should know themselves, Azaghâl cut off the messenger so he could join Brenna in arming himself for battle.
Frigga walked pretty calmly for a grandmother whose oldest granddaughter was in serious danger, avoiding and giving room for soldiers as they hurried past her in one of the corridors.
“Excuse us, madam! We are in a bit of a hurry!” a younger soldier was kind enough to apologize as he led a few of his fellow warriors. Not that Frigga minded, this was a situation far from normal.
Finally she arrived at a large sewing chamber, where several Dwarves and even a few Dwarrowdams was busy with various stages of their craftsmanship of transforming fabric into clothing. Her daughter-in-law was one of the seamstresses.
“Ala, I believe if things goes well, a special guest of the family is likely going to need some new clothing because armour and only one set of clothes is not going to look impressive while recovering in the infirmary wings.”
“Good thing that I can use my oldest daughter's height and add on roughly five feet of more fabrice for my unusual son-in-law. My pride as a seamstress would not allow me to have people talk about me neglecting to keep my son-in-law with proper clothes,” was all Ala commented in response, without even looking up from a burgundy-coloured everyday robe in plain cotton, which was noticeably longer than a normal robe for a Dwarf, even the rare ones who like Narvi was the tallest of their race.
Only nodding in agreement, Frigga left the sewing chamber to search for her grandson, who most likely was with his fellow soldiers somewhere. Of all the three children born to her only son and his wife, the only grandson sadly had been cursed with the more unflattering traits of the Dwarf who once had caused so much trouble in her life by making her pregnant, and it was a beyond-lifelong task to make Odin stop taking after his detested grandfather. Really, it was a true blessing that both her granddaughters took after the rest of the family, or that Odin still just narrowly avoided to become the family member no one liked!
“As if he will be allowed to keep being rude about the husband of his oldest sister… she simply had a different taste in a spouse than what people is used to!” Frigga muttered for herself, planning to take out her own miniature crossbow. Just because the menfolk was the warriors and about to face Sauron, it did not meant that their women should stay behind. Narvi needed a little help in protecting her Elven husband, after all.
Eydís is a old norse name and I headcanon that it could be a custom to name princesses born in the Line of Durin after the Queen consort of Durin the Deathless to honor her as his wife. I also think that she would be viewed as the senior wife to Durin, overranking the wives he had in his later lives.
Freja is a OC Dwarrowdam who is the paternal grandmother of Durin II from my other story An Open Door, also a slightly older childhood friend to Frigga, while Brenna is the name of Azaghâl daughter from the AU story Crowns and Feelings
Long distance-messenger is my headcanon of what I think the Dwarves would call a radio from around 1914 (come on, all those genius, brilliant minds from earlier generations and the need of making space for future generations? I bet that the Halls of the Forefathers are much more developed in technology than the Dwarven realms in the living world). And yes, I do not think the Fëanorians had any way to learn about Celebrimbor being married to Narvi, especially if they are locked up in a separate part of the Halls of Mandos for their own safety since there likely would be a lot of Elves who want to kill them
Narvi is meant to be five feet in height, or 152 cm tall, which is the highest known height for Dwarves according to the Tolkien wiki, while I headcanon Celebrimbor to be 180 cm in height
Chapter 3: Those of stone and fire, part 2
Sauron gets a taste of why it is not a good idea to dismiss the dwarven race as worthless
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Getting your clothes on fire was annoying, even if she was quick to roll on the ground to pull the fire out before she got to many burns on her skin. And what was worse for Narvi, it ruined all the hard work and many hours Ala had spent making that work dress so her oldest daughter could feel pretty even when she worked as a stonemason in practical clothes!
Celebrimbor could see on her face that Narvi was pissed. Not just because of how the fire had burned off some of her lovely hair and beard which he loved so dearly, but the fine clothes as well. He knew how much she had valured the work of her mother and had a fair guess who that had made the clothes she wore.
“That bastard would be given a huge fine for deliberate destruction of the work made by a well-known seamstress and trying to damage my public image if he was a Dwarf!”
Well, bastard was only one of many insults Sauron could be called, given his true nature. Things was not made better when the ghost army of orcs, wargs and trolls came closer to them, pressing the couple against a rock.
“One single to take care off, and you will be my guest for a little talk, Celebrimbor,” Sauron smiled, once again transforming into Annatar to mock him about how he had fallen for the sweet talks in the past.
“I would like to see anyone not be swayed by poisonous words, disguised as honeyed ones, in times of grief after losing a spouse, ” Celebrimbor growled back, looking very similar to his grandfather in that moment, though with a far more controlled fury over the betrayal from someone he had hoped to trust. Sauron snorted, clearly not thinking that the Elf was serious about his relationship with Narvi. Feelling the ground tremble in a different manner behind her, where her hand was on the rock so her stone sense was feeling any differences in the stone, Narvi grabbed hold of her husband's hair as if preventing him from doing anything stupid.
“We are getting company, silver husband.”
In the next moment, the sound of a huge number of Dwarven war horns was heard blown from the mountain behind them, and then at least three times a dozen war chariots manned by four dwarves each and pulled by teams of six rams revealed themselves attacking the orc army in the rear from behind, followed by uncalculated Dwarves mounted on armored goats as the heavy cavalry. Following right after, heavy infantry was arriving and ready for battle.
Sauron was so taken by surprise over seeing the unexpected Dwarven army, that he failed to see Narvi taking the chance of using one of the oldest tricks in term of dirty fighting; throwing a fistful of dirt and sand into his eyes.
“Come on, Celebrimbor!”
He did not protest as Narvi dragged him along, the faster they got away from Sauron, the better.
Back inside the Halls of the Forefathers, almost all the gathered soldiers had left to join the battle. Those who remained inside were civilians and common people.
“Have the infirmary ready for wounded returners! We may not die in this battle, but recovery from serious injuries are still unpleasant to deal with, both back in life and here in death!”
Few of the present Dwarves doubted that, many of them had been soldiers in life or seen the result of war, so they knew what to do. At least this time, they did not need to fear about their loved ones dying in battle.
“Loki, hurry up! I am not waiting on you for much longer!!” Frigga called, already standing in one war chariot that had not been sent out yet. Her youngest granddaughter was heard somewhere between the other Dwarves as she had to press herself between them, loudly cursing over that dying so young as she had, had stunted her growth here in the Halls and thus made her look younger than her older siblings. The long time spent in the Halls had given Loki the intellect of a much, much older Dwarf, but it was sadly crammed into a still late-adolescent body with all the troubles of that age.
“I bloody HATE being this small!! ”
And naturally there was someone else searching for her as well.
“FRIGGA!! Wait, wait, wait just a moment before you and Loki leaves!”
Kóri, the sweet, hard-working librarian to husband she never had in life but had been blessed with here in the Halls after her death, came running towards the chariot, out of breath with his glasses almost off his nose and his small bag filled with books at his side as always.
“Try and drive on the outside of the battle so you have some free space to move around in, Narvi would never risk to harm her Elf more than what is needed, especially with that kind of enemy that want him….”
“I waited for 200 years to bring the House of Frost down with the help of my own family, I know what I am doing, honey.”
“I am here, grandma!” Loki called as she finally managed to get over to the chariot, carrying a large amount of small bags in her belt alongside a well-used rolling pin and even a a clever had been grabbed, before saying:
“The rest of the spice mix have been given to the soldiers who are defending the upper walls with catapults, to ensure that no orcs or trolls under Sauron comes one single step closer to the Halls!”
Kóri did not even bother to ask what Loki had planned now, they needed to get out to get Narvi and Celebrimbor to safety. He was no warrior, but he knew the art of organization very well thanks to his chosen work and could help out those in control.
“See you soon, gramps!” Loki said as Frigga drove away with the chariot, and earned a minor scolding from her husband over that she almost crushed his foot under one of the large wheels.
A new war horn sounded, and reinforcements led by Eydís and Freja went out from the Halls. Following slightly behind, several other Dwarrowdams in armor also went out. While they were rare, this was a situation where everyone agreed that they had to protect one of theír fellow females.
“Follow the Queens!! ”
Sauron naturally ignored that, and kept chasing Celebrimbor and Narvi in the outside of the battle. He wanted to catch the Fëanorian descendant before his army was all wiped out, a fate which became more and more clear the more Dwarves that came out.
“If it is one thing Aulë was good on, it was to create those unnatural pests that never belonged in the Song anyway!”
Celebrimbor knew that Sauron likely said so to antagonize Narvi, trying to make her become reckless, because the Dwarven race as a whole was rather sensitive to that kind of comments because they had not originally been created by Eru Ilúvatar like Elves and Men.
“And you are a eternal shame for our Maker, betraying him to follow the Great Enemy!!” Narvi shot back over her shoulder without letting go of Celebrimbor as they aimed to take cover in a cave they had spotted, referring to one of the many names Morgoth had been given by the Elves and Men in the First Age because saying his own name was viewed as bad luck for anyone who spoke it.
“How about a little roasting, then? In honor of my Master!”
Using a mace to hit Narvi, he had enough strength to forcefully making them let go of each other's hand.
Celebrimbor saw in horror as his wife fell over the edge of a cliff, a similar look of terror on her face. Not because she could die, but that it left him facing Sauron alone. A second hit with the mace, aimed at himself this time, sent Celebrimbor almost flying into the cave.
Having expected to fall down straight mong a pack of orcs really to try and kill her, Narvi instead had the unexpected luck of landing almost straight down on a couple of old friends from her life in Khazad-dûm, just as they rode past on two war goats of their own.
“Ow! Had you been a orc you would have been slain at once by Hinata, Narvi!” a red haired Dwarrowdam complained on the ground while Narvi got off her, having knocked her out of the saddle. The two friends in question was no one else than Ragnhild, the wife of Durin back in his second life, and Hinata, the shared lover of them both from that life. Familiar faces, which Narvi had known so well for 150 years and seen again in the afterlife.
“Before you wonder what we are doing out here when none of us are warriors, simple answer; we wanted to help rather than remain inside the Halls and worry about our sons,” Hinata said, pointing towards the battle chaos where their respective sons from Durin had to be somewhere.
“Do me a big favor and lend me that goat to ride! I have to prevent that Maia-Traitor from taking Celebrimbor back to his body and make him suffer until that he reveals where those blasted Rings of Power are!” Narvi almost screamed, worrying that it could already be too late to save her husband.
As he landed hard against the cave floor and the back wall in high speed, Celebrimbor knew from the pain that several ribs had been broken and that his already injured left arm was now broken in two places. If he still had been in a body and not a spirit, it could have become a fatal hit that had killed him despite his good armor.
“Time to stop playing around, Celebrimbor. We have a talk to do...when you are back in your body of flesh and blood.”
Much to Celebrimbor's growing abhorrence among all the fear, Sauron bent down slightly while holding his face in one hand, as if he intended to give him a kiss in a mocking show of affection.
“Keep your tainted hands off MY HUSBAND!! ”
Sauron turned around against the opening of the cave, where Narvi was seen in the saddle of a war goat, looking like she really wanted nothing else than mash his face in with the battle hammer she had picked up.
“As if any Elf ever would find anything fair about a creature that belongs to the stunted race, especially as no one can see which gender they belongs to. How Aulë could make a such mistake is beyond any common sense.”
Remarkably, Narvi managed to stay calm, even if Celebrimbor knew that furious look in her eyes; Sauron was going to eat his poorly-chosen words rather quickly. He had known his wife for about 200 years after all, nearly all her natural life, only a fool would fail to pick up the various small signs of mood change on a Dwarf over that time.
“The correct way to address a married Dam like me is MISTRESS Narvi!! GET HIM, GIRLS!!! ”
And as one at her call, a large group of Dwarrowdams jumped down from hidden places in the upper parts of the large cave as Narvi made her war goat run straight at Sauron, who had only a moment to realize the danger before he was thrown to the cave floor by the united weight of the Dwarrowdams, drowning under their attack and weapons.
“A fine taste of powerful ladies, there….” Celebrimbor smirked at the sight where Sauron had dropped him, wishing to laugh though his injuries hurt too much for that. Somehow, it was no surprise at all to see Narvi pull her out of the beating of Sauron and gently pulling him away from it.
“Narvi! Narvi, over here!” someone called from the outside of the cave, revealing to be Frigga and Loki in the war chariot the grandmother still drove like it was something she did every day.
“No Odin to whisper death threats at Celebrimbor for “being unsuitable” as my husband for being a Elf?” Narvi allowed herself to ask as she and Loki pulled up Celebrimbor in the chariot together.
“Queen Eydís was “kind” enough to remind him of how he died; a badly-chosen comment about Dams and their duty of marriage that led to someone knocking him out with a heavy item against his skull. He never woke up from that bar fight, after all,” Frigga responded, making Narvi roll her eyes in annoyance in how that had happened, a rather shameful way of dying.
“Hurry! Drive away!”
It was in the last moment, as Sauron managed to get out of the cave, though at the cost of looking very bruised and less fair as he escaped, the other Dwarrowdams had gotten very good hits on him.
Out in the battlefield, Azaghâl showed why he had been a such good warrior back in the First Age, when his daughter arrived in an war chariot she was driving.
“Adad! I think you would love to prevent Maedhros' nephew to fall into the claws of the person who once harmed your friend!”
Spotting Sauron chasing the chariot where three of the ladies from the Asar family was, and how the youngest daughter gave the Maia a firsthand lesson in how painful it was to be hit straight in the eye with a hairpin followed by a similar attack with a meat cleaver on his hands from Narvi just as he attempted to grab hold of Celebrimbor by coming really close to the chariot, was enough to make his choice. Hopefully Sauron had lost a finger or two from that, or at least got a heavy bleeding that just maybe could reveal itself on his body as well as result.
“Drive on, steel dancer!” he requested, using his old nickname for her, and she obeyed the request.
Frigga had taken up goat driving here in the afterlife, and had became pretty skilled on it over the long centuries since her passing. Her two granddaughters struggled a little with keeping the chariot even in sharp turns, or avoiding that Celebrimbor fell off the chariot when she needed to avoid hitting things.
“Hold your sister still!”
Grabbing hold of her belt, Narvi saw Loki aim her small crossbow, trying to keep it steady against Sauron's face despite that the narrow floor area of a war chariot would make it harder for a good aim. Since the Maia had not wasted time in pulling out the hair pin from his ruined eye, he was not that good-looking at the moment.
“Have a taste of the far off East!! Extra strong, all for you! ”
A small bolt went off as Loki pressed the trigger, a tiny bag tied to it. As Sauron had his mouth open in a snarl, the bolt went straight into his mouth. Based on his shocked reaction, he just realized that something was not really right, just before the full strength of the spice mix revealed itself. Collapsing down on his knees as it became even worse with his own fire powers, Sauron felt himself short of breath and trying hard to not start crying. Focused as he was on the spice mix, he failed to notice a incoming danger from behind:
“Here is a belated greeting from Maedhros, you LEASING-MONGER!!”
Turning the war chariot around pretty sharply, Brenna used the counterclockwise-rolling welded glaives on the large rear wheels to incapacitate Sauron, cutting off his left leg in a sea of blood. Because the sudden pain was so overwhelming, Sauron failed to avoid the next injury which came almost at the same time and Azaghâl knocked Sauron face down into the ground by using his favored Dwarven war axe in the back of the Maia's head.
“Turn back! Turn back to the Halls, all of you!” several voices ordered, it was Durin and his fellow Fathers of the Dwarves who drove around in their own war chariots and tried to gather up all the soldiers, wanting to avoid that something got wrong.
“Do not let victory go to your heads, lads! Come on!”
As the Dwarven soldiers obeyed the order and began to return, Sauron attempted to recreate his leg, then realized that this time, Celebrimbor was indeed slipping away further and farther out of his reach to catch, all thanks to the Dwarves. Finding where he had hidden the Rings of Power, seemed to become even more impossible than earlier thought.
“YOU WILL NOT ESCAPEEEEEEEEE!!! ”
But this last, desperate attempt to catch Celebrimbor was ruined, as the soldiers standing on the upper walls with catapults sent off the few final shots with the spice mix, aimed at him and almost drowned Sauron in a yellow-orange cloud as it hit him and the last soldiers hurried past a protective barrier, created by the priests, a safe distance from the opening in the Halls where they first had came out. And to add insult to injury, Narvi took the small crossbow from her sister as Frigga stopped the chariot so they faced Sauron and sent off a small arrow with the words:
“Sometimes rock wins over fire!! Born from stone, we can turn things into beauty while fire is destructive, like you!! ”
The arrow hit Sauron in the throat, making him fall fall back as the large doors of stone was sealed shut and vanishing from the living world, ensuring that he could not follow after.
A silence laid over the Halls at first, when the doors had been shut, before various people started to bark out orders and direct people to different places for removing their armour and look for injuries.
“A good shot there, Narvi. That should teach him to not touch your husband again. And a very good idea with the spice, Loki,” Frigga praised with pride. However, a groan of pain caught their attention. In fact, when looking down, they discovered that Celebrimbor now was barely conscious, and that there was a alarming large puddle of blood from him on the chariot floor.
“Why did you not say anything earlier, your idiot?!” Narvi cried out in terror, seeing just how pale he was for someone in a spiritual state thanks to the blood loss. Thankfully, someone was quick enough to get a stretcher, so Celebrimbor could be carried to the healers in the infirmary. Narvi was taken there as well, to treat the burns she had gotten from the fire Sauron had tried to use on her.
As her hands, arms, upper body and legs was wrapped with bandage to protect the burns while they healed, her mood got sour again because of someone she did not want to meet or have to listen on, right now.
“Narvi! Narvi, have you any idea what you have done?!”
She rolled her eyes, of course it had to be Odin and his narrow-minded view on things.
“Exposing our afterlife to that traitor and risk getting your very soul eased out of existence, all for a bloody, faithless Elf?! Whatever bewitchment he put you under, I will have him remove so you can finally be nor...”
Odin did not get a chance to finish his ranting, mainly because all the present family members joined Narvi in shutting him up; Narvi proved that she still was able to break his nose despite her hand being bandaged, Loki used her rolling pin on a area sensitive for all males no matter what race they belonged to, while Kóri had sneaked up and handed his wife a book to knock out her insufferable grandson with from behind.
“That's it. The barracks for the city guards will be his all-time home until that he finally learns some humility and begs both you and Celebrimbor for your forgiveness on his knees,” Frigga muttered, dragging Odin out from the room by a foot, while Loki took the other foot to help her grandmother. Once the two Dams was away down the corridor to deliver Odin to the barracks with the rest of his personal belongings from the Asar household, Kóri said:
“That reminds me… Mahal wishes to talk with you, Narvi. It seems like he have just learnt what happened today. You know, Durin and the other Fathers have to tell him if there is anything unusual happening here in the Halls.”
“Rather a scolding from Mahal about me being reckless than having to hear people saying that it is impossible for Celebrimbor to be my husband by both Elven and Dwarf laws when it comes to marriage,” she responded, dressing herself in a newer dress Loki somehow had found time to bring for her and braiding her hair into her commonly seen braided bun again. The burnt parts of her hair and beard had carefully been trimmed away by the healer, and it would soon be back once it all had grown back after a few months. Her step-grandfather nodded in agreement, promising to keep Odin away if he tried to show his face around again, and her parents would soon come for checking on her as well, they simply had been needed somewhere else for the moment.
Celebrimbor was still under the power of a careful dose of painkillers and sedatives when she quickly checked in the room where he had been placed, but at least now he had gotten his injured cared for and covered with a extra warm quilt so he would not be freezing due to his armour and clothing being taken away, a loincloth was good for modesty but not much for warming the whole body.
“I will be back soon. Loki promised to make some nice broth for you so you can recover your strength better,” she said with a kiss on his forehead. More time with him was to be later, now she had a meeting with her creator to deal with. Though Narvi did not fear that Aulë would be really mad on her for saving Celebrimbor, every Dwarf here in the Halls knew much saddened he was by sauron leaving his service to follow Morgoth and perhaps the Smith Vala secretly desired to hammer his former servant down for that betrayal.
Given that Frigga actually had a rather difficult life in the Asar family's background in the main story of An Open Door, I really wanted her to find love in the afterlife and this created the idea of Kóri while he first shows up here since I am nowhere close to a scene where Narvi enters the afterlife and learns that she now have a step-grandfather (An Open Door is going to be a very looooong story). My newly created HC about this fellow for now is that Kóri was the same generation as Azaghâl, which made it impossible for him and Frigga to ever meet in life because she was born in the mid-560s of the Second Age, and is pretty much the loving, supportive male relative his stepson and step-grandchildren never had in life. Taking inspiration from where Tolkien took the names for his Dwarven characters, Kóri is a name in Old Norse.
Ragnhild and Hinata are another set of OCs from An Open Door that shows up as side characters there. As for the relationship between Durin, Ragnhild and Hinata; they are meant to have been in a polygyny relationship, with Ragnhild as his legal wife and Hinata as a shared concubine, with bisexual undertones from the ladies because they both liked Durin and did not want that to come between them. Ragnhild and Hinata are in a full-term relationship which started in life, and it is still strong
A leasing is an old word for an untruth or falsehood, making a leasing-monger or a leasing-maker a habitual liar.
Chapter 4: Connection
Even in healing, some things will never be the same again
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Normally Narvi felt honored whatever she was summoned to the one place in the Halls of the Forefathers where her Maker would await a summoned Dwarf, working at his own anvil.
“Just admit that you are angry on me for exposing our Afterlife, all because of the non-Dwarven husband who I did not want to fall into the hands of the Betrayer Maia,” she spoke out aloud, while she entered.
“ And why should I be angry for evidence of such faithfulness between two spouses? You just said the reason by yourself, that you did not want him to fall into the hands of Mairon, ” the deep voice of Aulë responded, a fond smile on his face as he turned around to face one of his Stone Daughters.
Narvi was still not convinced. For all of that she thankfully had never met Sauron when alive, only fleetingly here in the afterlife, it had hurt to hear him call the Dwarven race something which should not exist, that Aulë had done a mistake by creating them. And it was a indirect attack aimed on her as well, for how she always had remained in Celebrimbor's heart long after her death, with Sauron never getting the same influence in his disguise as Annatar. Her passing had left a void for Celebrimbor about someone who he could trust wholeheartedly, which Sauron had tried to take advantage of yet found himself blocked by the marriage bond which still tied Celebrimbor to Narvi though their souls.
“ As if that betrayer have any right to try and steal my husband away from me in that way…! ”
Aulë smiled for himself. The marriage bond between Narvi and Celebrimbor was indeed strong, and not only because of how their souls had been joined just like it normally happened in a Elven marriage, Dwarves were fiercely loyal to those they became spouses to, even in the rare cases where it was more than two Dwarves who married. Durin in his second life was a good example, he had not been blind for the unmistakable love between Ragnhild and Hinata which had formed as he tried to find his future Queen consort, or even forcing one of them to choose between him and the other Dwarrowdam. Instead he had wed them both, making Ragnhild his Queen and Hinata a legal concubine, even if that was a custom falling out of use after his second life because of a slightly changed view on polygamy marriages and a rather justified fear of possible sibling rivalry between children born from different mothers over the legacy from the shared father.
“ I am glad that you chose to save him. For there is no doubt that he would have faced a slow, horrible death in the hands of Sauron. ”
Then Aulë placed a large palm on her head. For a moment, Narvi felt as if she was a having a vision of some kind, and it was horrible enough to make her collapse down on the stone floor as her anger towards Sauron was replaced with horror, trembling in abhorrence as she tried to not have her breakfast leave her body same way as it had entered.
She could not bring herself to say the words, for it would feel too real then. It was like a scene from among her worst nightmares, from when she had gotten a unintended glimpse of his memories from the First Age, and the horrors he had witnessed. Celebrimbor had nearly hysterically apologized when he realized what had happened on those thankfully rare nights in their marriage, somehow acting as if he had done something unseemly despite that they had not known how the marriage bond would really work between them due to being of different races.
“ What would have been his fate, had you not saved him. ”
This time she really had to try her best to not stress vomit in horror. Had she not answered his the unconscious desire to have her by her side again….
“ Yes. Even a single small action can change the flow of events. ”
He hated to see her horrified reaction on it, but Aulë had gotten the vision from Namo, an unspoken message of how things had changed thanks to Narvi, and wanted her to know of what could have been otherwise.
“I….I need...must see him…!”
Still pale from the horror she had felt only moments ago, Narvi struggled to get back up on her feet. She had to be close to Celebrimbor, to see that he still was here in the Halls of the Forefathers and not snarched away by some foul trick from Sauron.
In the infirmary, Celebrimbor had now woken up from the heavy sleep caused by the painkillers and sedatives from earlier. He still felt awfully sore in the places where he had been injured by Sauron, but otherwise he insintictly could feel that he was in a much safer place.
“Nice to see that you have woken up just in time to taste on the broth I promised sister to give you so you can regain your strength.”
The dark skin and white blonde hair of the young Dwarrowdam at his side revealed a close kinship to Narvi, with only the black eyes as main difference. Had she been standing with her back to her Elven brother-in-law, it would not be the first time the Asar sisters had been mistaken for each other.
“....thank you, Loki.” Celebrimbor said, allowing her to help him drink the broth from a mug. It was a strong taste, but warm. It was a little strange, Celebrimbor had to admit, to see her again. Especially with Loki dying at a such young age that Navi's maturity could very well have created a rift between them in the afterlife because Narvi had lived nearly 190 years without her beloved little sister at her side.
Apparently his thoughts must have been visible on his face, for Loki said:
“I am not jealous on my sister for living to old age! When not our own healers or even master Elrond could do a operation to remove that blasted tumor in my brain without risking that I could very well die from the blood loss or any other complication that can happen when doing a operation on a such sensitive area, it simply was no other choice than to accept my fate! Besides, grandmother Frigga was the one to ease my pain when I grew more ill, remember?”
Oh, Celebrimbor could remember that very well. The news of Frigga giving her youngest grandchild a mercy killing by slipping a overdose of painkillers in their tea, and most likely also killing herself to not be burden for her widowed daughter-in-law or the two older grandchildren sired by her son.
“Surely it must still have been... awkward when you learned about her marrying me, right?”
Again the sibling similarity was shown when Loki made a “are you kidding me?” face just like Narvi would do.
“As if my sister's very unusual choice of husband is anything we could protest, when basically all of us already was here in the Halls when you two married. Besides, grandma's tarot cards at her birth did tell that Narvi was going to marry someone with royal blood, but there was no other hints about age, place in the succession or anything else!”
Celebrimbor realized at once what Loki meant. After all, his grandfather Fëanor had been the Crown prince of the Noldor until the Darkening of Valinor, and then was the High King of the exiled Noldor for a very brief time before dying in battle.
It was Narvi's worried voice from the door, and she arrived in a hurry, breathing heavy as if she had been running. But she did not stop, instead she nearly sent Celebrimbor over the edge of the bed as she pushed herself close to him, holding him tightly.
“Mind his ribs, sis. You do not want to cause him more pain, right?” Loki grinned over her shoulder, sneaking out of the room to give the married couple some privacy.
But Celebrimbor could tell that something was different, from the way Narvi held him close around his waist. As if Narvi first now had allowed herself to feel affected by Sauron's attempt to crush her self-confidence long enough to create an opening.
“I am sorry for that he used some of those unpleasant words about the Stone Children that others has thrown towards them over the Ages…”
“ Keep talking, but not about such unpleasant things. ”
Ok, that was a bad sign of whatever she felt. So Celebrimbor kept talking about one subject Narvi always had both enjoyed and gotten a tiny dose of bemusement from.
“Elrond and Celebrian still have not married yet despite that it is nearly seven-hundred years since I last saw them when alive?! Surely it is high time for them to do that step, though I can imagine that with Sauron around, Elrond would rather not leave her a widow.”
Celebrimbor took a chance to drink some water from a easily-to-reach placed glass of water from the table next to the bed.
“Most likely, especially given his own family history with marriages in times of war.”
He did not need to mention the feud between his family and the royal family of Doriath, all over a Silmaril, Narvi had heard the tale before during the time they had been married in her mortal life.
Over the coming days, Celebrimbor focused on healing enough much so he could be given a tour in the Halls of the Forefathers. And what a wonder it was, to see how they had carefully separated the Halls to look like the various Dwarven realms in the living world, so everyone could chose where to live when arriving to the afterlife.
But some families, like the Asar family, had homes in different parts of the Halls, a symbol of moving and starting a new life somewhere.
“Well, how do you find this version of my childhood home?” Narvi asked with pride, as she showed him around in the spiritual parts of the Orocarni, where he for the first time in his life could feel how a desert could feel in the air.
“It is lovely, filled with warmth and family love, and I finds it fully understandable that you sometimes suffered from homesickness under the winters. Now I regret even more that we never got a chance to travel south to the Orocarni while the times was still peaceful.”
“As if I would have gotten permission, even from the royal family, to travel with someone who was not a blood relative or through marriage. Recalling how we first met?” Narvi spoke, pressing herself against him as if supporting him if he got tired. But Celebrimbor had not failed to realize a unspoken meaning with the... very boldy-made eastern dress she was wearing today. It looked like one of the dresses she would wear in belly dancing, and there was little doubt about that it was also meant to seduce him.
The way she clearly allowed him a look down on her bosom that was not hidden by the silk fabric and the very makeup she had worn at their secret wedding, told everything for Celebrimbor about what she desired for them to do once he had healed enough for a such pleasure in bed. Oh well, something for him to look forwards too, as well. The Elf Lord had greatly missed being ridden by his Dwarven wife, though that was not the biggest pleasure with her he missed since her death.
That aside, it was also a joy to once again meet Dwarves who once had been allies or friends with his uncles back in the First Age.
“Ye found yourself a nice lass to marry, lad! You make a striking couple, when with yourself currently injured!”
Given that they were the first known Elven-Dwarf marriage, Celebrimbor knew that he and Narvi would face a lot of vastly different comments. Some Dwarves simply could not see what she saw in him because he was not of the same race, those who had dealt with Elves though trade or alliances in war viewed it as a good way to remind people of the First Age when Celebrimbor's paternal family had been allied with Belegost.
Some of the Priests of Mahal flat out said that if it was the Will of their Maker to make the Elf Lord and the Dwarrowdam fall in love, then it simply was fated to happen. Once again the mention of the friendship between Maedhros and Azaghâl.
“Well, Celebrimbor, there is no way of predicting what will happen to the Rings of Power which you created, but there is no doubt that your own intents with them were honest at the start.”
At least Durin tried to cheer him up, even when Celebrimbor confessed that he feared what Sauron would do with the rings once he found them.
The following day, Narvi had decided to show him something very important.
“And this is how I entered the living world from here!”
Celebrimbor had to stop his very threatening tears at the familiar sight of the Doors of Durin. So many memories linked to the real ones, like the night of their wedding and other wonderful things…
“Come down here, you overgrown tree of a master smith.”
Obeying her order, Celebrimbor knelt on one knee so she could easy reach him. Their lips met in a passionate kiss, just as it so often had happened in life. As they broke apart for breath, he looked at the Doors again.
“If you managed to enter the living world to save me, who knows where the Doors can lead to another time?”
Narvi smirked at him.
“It would not hurt to check one time, and not make it a habit.”
“ Mellon. ”
At the password, the stone doors began to open. At first look, it seemed to be the darkness of Khazad-dûm in the mining areas where no lamps was lit after work. Yet the faint wind somehow felt different.
Then, a tall shape could be hinted in the distance, possessing a hair colour which Celebrimbor had grown up with among his own family.
“ Maedhros?! ”
For those not familiar with a side plot plot with the Asar family in An Open Door: Loki sadly suffered from brain cancer and died at only 40 years old, with her elderly grandmother Frigga ending her suffering by killing them both in a manner that was not a big surprise for the Dwarven healers, since I imagine that some really old Dwarves do not want to be a burden for their family and takes an overdose of painkillers or anything similar to stop breathing during the night
Fëanor's reign as High King of the Noldor was mostly spent in exile, and lasted for about 18 years of the Sun