Tarnished: 1. Tarnished

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools

1. Tarnished

Something was amiss.

 The old King stared intently at the pile in front of him, counting each coin out loud as he went- one of them was missing, he was sure of it.

 Oh, it might only have been one coin as his advisors told him- one single, solitary coin in a horde of thousands, of tens of thousands, of hundreds of thousands- but...

 It was his coin.

 What had the saying been, back in his youth?

 "Gold must have gold to breed gold."

 The words fell unbidden from his lips, but he did not hear them.

 One of his coins was unaccounted for, that was all that mattered, and if it had been stolen then woe betide the thief when the old King got his hands upon him.

 Nothing was worse than a thief, after all- even the crimes of an oath-breaker or a kinslayer paled before those of one who dared take that which was not theirs.

 "Gold must have gold to breed gold."

 The words echoed around the treasure chamber like bats, whispering to the old King in the dark.

 The old King did not hear them.

 He just played with the plain gold ring on his index finger and counted his coins one more time.

 Something was amiss.

 *

 Something was amiss.

 The two dwarves watched as the old King sat alone at the table staring at his plate, mumbling to himself under his breath.

The food was long gone cold, but woe betide any who tried to take it from him- sudden and shocking violence would follow, accompanied by hurled threats and oaths more terrible than even those of the most terrible berserker to their most accursed enemy.

It had long been this way.

He had to be led from his bed to his toilet or he would soil it and himself. He had to be bathed by servants or else fester worse than the most reeking swamp, the foulest midden, the vilest Goblin. Nothing was able to break him from his reverie- not wine, not song, not even his own kith and kin.

"Gold must have gold to breed gold."

Stinking spittle caked his beard, black and filthy against the white, a sickening stain marring fresh-fallen snow.

The younger dwarf turned, eyes beseeching the other for answer.

"What is wrong with him, Father?"

The elder shook his head, sadly.

"Gold-fever, my son. Like tarnish as it creeps over silver, it can overtake even the brightest and best of us without warning and leave us dead and dull and damned."

The younger dwarf's eyes widened with horror.

"Is there nothing we can do for him, Father? Nothing at all?"

The elder shook his head again.

"Nothing, my son. Once the gold-fever sets hold in a dwarf, all that can be done for him is to mourn his passing and to sing of what he once was rather than what he has become."

The younder dwarf's gaze was drawn inexorably back to the maddened husk that now sat in the King's chair as his father continued.

"Let this be a lesson for you, that the forge within you never burns too fierce or furious. Temperance, my boy- that is the only safeguard against gold-fever."

Savagely brushing a tear from his eye, the elder dwarf turned on his heel and walked away, leaving his son with only the poor mad old King for company.

Tears brimmed in the younger dwarf's eyes too, but he did not turn- could not turn.

He just sat and watched as the once-mighty master of Erebor, the once-hallowed King Under The Mountain- his once kind and loving Grandfather Thrór- sat lonely and lost in front of his forgotten dinner, muttering to himself and spinning the plain gold ring that had once sat so firm and snug on his index finger.

Something was amiss.


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Aruthir

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/02/13

Original Post: 01/02/13

Go to Tarnished overview

Comments

There are no comments for this chapter. Be the first to comment!

Read all comments on this story

Comments are hidden to prevent spoilers.
Click header to view comments

Talk to Aruthir

If you are a HASA member, you must login to submit a comment.

We're sorry. Only HASA members may post comments. If you would like to speak with the author, please use the "Email Author" button in the Reader Toolbox. If you would like to join HASA, click here. Membership is free.

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools