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A Legend Of A Ring

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It is no pleasant thing to be glowered at by a dwarf, you are discovering. The tales of your childhood (Thofur and the Walnut was ever a favourite) may have made them seem friendly, slothful, bumbling, but the reality is very different! Little enough, to be sure, he stands barely above your ribs. But as he glares at you beneath his bushy eyebrows and raps the head of his axe upon the floor, you are taken aback.

"It was not so! Some tale of the Elves you have heard like enough. Na, do not fret so. You are only a man, and a Southron of Gondor at that. What would you know of we Dwarves? But know this, whatever else you have heard, the Khazad were never in thrall to Annatar, the fair seeming one. Is it not said in your tales, often enough, that we are close-fisted, surly, and suspicious? Why, then, would you think we should welcome that one so eagerly?"

You admit the point, particularly since you are curious to know more, and he seems inclined to talk. Nevertheless, you cannot but provoke him by remarking that, perhaps, the skill & craft of Annatar would have been of interest to the dwarf smiths. Your reward is a deeper glare.

"Poor smiths we are now, it is true. So much was lost with Khazad-Dum! But once we were mighty in craft and lore! Aye, think you that Celebrimbor and the Elven Smiths settled close to our doors merely for our ores, our metals, our unpolished gems? Na! The Elves, perhaps, may wish you to believe that, but it is not so. Would you believe the stone that endures, or the wood that changes? No dwarf will ever tell you such a tale. In those days, it was barter, not buy & sell. How could we not learn from the grandson of He that we name "Almost Greatest Smith"? What? You do not know the Maker? Ach! but you are only a man, a mayfly, it would take too long to explain."

"It is enough to say that if we learnt from Celebrimbor, as surely we did, he learnt also from us. Gifts were exchanged, great gifts on both sides! And the craft we gave was none of Annatar; the gifts we gave were none of Annatar; neither the craft nor the gifts recieved, not even the greatest. No, Man, Annatar had nothing of the Dwarves, nor yet gave anything to the Dwarves. If your tales say else, they lie. But perhaps, in fairness, they come from Annatar. He has ever claimed that which is not his, as he does again."

He looks at you keenly from under his brows, a little less hostile now, and sighs.

"But it is passing strange to find a Man who knows aught of these things in these dark days, unless it be Strider. Perhaps I should not be so surprised though. The Men of the South were ever craft-wise, and I deem there be much wisdom still in your halls, if there be few enough who care to keep it. Your tale speaks of The Ring, the First of The Seven, very dear to the Dwarves. Believe me, Man, that it came as a gift from Feanor's grandson; a gift, pure & unsullied, to the third Deathless Durin. In those times the Elves were still a great people, aye, Dwarves too, and the Men of Numenor, ere they fell into darkness."

Though you are no judge of dwarves - how could you be so, when they were no more than a tale until you came north - he looks sad as he falls silent. His shoulders slump just a little, he looks down, and he leans upon his axe as though he were tired.

"Nah, ask me no more, youngling. What else is there to say? The rings have brought little but grief to all our peoples. You know the tale of the Nine? Aye, tainted, all, by Annatar; twisted to his foul ends. It is small mercy that they were given only to the East, or so it is said. The Seven? Even Durin's Ring betrayed the Dwarves at the end. Or so the tales tell. And the Elves? They made rings, of a surety. But how many, and what they did with them, no legend of my people tells. Hid them, is my guess, and wisely done. Elves are no fools, nor altogether bad, I think. And they have fought Annatar, in all his guises, longer even than we dwarves. But say never again that we were prey to Annatar's wiles, for that is not truth!"

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