- Death-Minor Character
- Explicit Sex
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
Celebrimbor inhaled deeply, revelling in the scent of the water and woods around him. While the architects of Khazad-dûm managed to get the fresh air in the mountain, it got quite stale before it circulated through the various nooks and crans. He got used to it but still… The actual freedom to move outside the mountain was priceless. The dwarrow sentinels had to be made of some stern stuff if they were able to deal with being cooped up in their underground cities for years.
More important than his new-found freedom was creating some distance between him and Narví. After his indiscretion, it was necessary, if he didn’t want to go against his principles. The awkward meals and stilted silence in the guide’s workshop he endured in the last few days wasn’t very encouraging sign with how the things were progressing with her. That Narví was able to convey how unimpressed she was with him, with just one sharp look and raised eyebrow, no bond manipulation needed. Even his cousin Galadriel didn’t manage to discompose him so thoroughly and she had spent centuries trying.
Narví… she was different. Fiercely independent that was the best description of her. And that was the reason he decided to take a step back and think carefully about his next move. She was attracted to him, it was rather obvious when one considered the streamy make-out session they enjoyed before Narví put a stop to that. And while she rejected him offhandedly, she also didn’t make any effort to destroy their budding bond. It showed him he stood a chance with her. He just had to find a way.
The sentinel perked up when the leaves rustled behind him and a familiar dwarf fell out of the bushes, cursing colourfully. Celebrimbor looked her up and down, raised his eyebrow and commented dryly. „Nice disguise, Narví.”
The dam glowered at him and dusted off her trousers and her bread. „What gave me away?”
The sentinel tapped his nose, smirking openly. „There aren’t many things you can get past me. Anyways, why the disguise?”
The dam sighed in resignation and explained. „It’s necessary for my own protection. The dams are rarely allowed out of the Mountains. And if they go out they are required to disguise themselves. I am Durin’s cousin and a powerful guide.” Her words resonated with truth. „Do you know what would happen to me if I was ever caught outside.”
The sentinel blanched. With his family’s rather colourful and violent history he could imagine what she was alluding to. Not a fate he wished on anyone.
Narví cocked her head. „I see you understand. I need you to swear to me you won’t divulge anyone who I am when I accompany you to the Ost-in-Edhil. You are to refer to me as the Master Narví and by male pronouns when in the presence of others. Is that clear?”
„Fine. I swear I won’t give you away if I can help it.” The sentinel agreed. „But won’t you be missed?”
Narví smirked smugly. „Not at the least. Master Narví will spend next week in her annual seclusion. Even Durin knows better than to interrupt me.”
„If you are sure?” When the dam nodded he motioned at the horse his entourage was sensible enough to leave behind for him. „Let me help you up.”
„Are you crazy, elf? There is no way in Angband, I’ll be climbing on that beast. Forget it.” Narví spluttered out.
The sentinel made a show of looking around, before turning his attention back to dwarf and asked haughtily. „And may I ask how do you expect to reach my city and return to Khazad-dûm in time?”
Narví scowled darkly. „Shut up and help me up.”
The elf grinned at her and did as he was told. Narví startled a bit when he took a place just behind her. It was unfair how fit he was. How was she supposed to keep her distance if he insisted on looking that nice? Strangely, she felt safe in his presence. It was a feeling she didn’t experience for a long time. It was probably their nascent bond in works. But… She believed him.
The dam wiggled a bit in the saddle trying to find a more comfortable position. It was hard to find the balance between staying on the horse and in the powerful presence of the elf sentinel behind her back, but she managed. Looking over her shoulder at the red-faced elf she asked dryly. „Are we going or staying for Durin’s guards to find us?”
They are progressing nicely even without our meddling. Eirik noted, looking at the pair moving away steadily towards the elf city. The sentinel was playfully teasing the dam and she was retaliating by pinching him. They were preoccupied with each other so much, they didn’t notice their audience.
So far. But you don’t know Narví well if you think this will be easy. Ylva leaned against the other wolf, taking comfort in his strength. The elf’s wolf was her mate. And if Narví would be kind enough to finally bond with her sentinel fully, she would be able to claim him. She is hard-headed enough for five dwarrows.
I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. Celebrimbor can be persuasive enough. And I think he has some plan in works. The wolf nuzzled Ylva, taking comfort from her presence at his side and wishing the elf would hurry up and claim his guide.
We’ll see. The blue forest bled into the clearing. Ylva stood up and looked over her shoulder. Coming?
The journey on the elvish horse was as uncomfortable as Narví feared. What would she give for a moment of respite. But no. That infernal elf decided it was too much of risk to take too many breaks on their way. So, they rode relentlessly for long stretches of time. Her ass fell asleep about an hour in and shortly after she lost feeling in both of her legs. While she held the saddle for a dear life, she was getting tired. More and more she relied on Celebrimbor to keep her steady on that four-legged beast of Morgoth. On the bright side, at least the horse was as fast as the elves boasted. The dam was fairly certain they had to be somewhere close to the city. The sun had set a while ago and the elf assured her they would make it to the city today.
„Look, Narví. Ost-in-Edhil.” A long elegant arm waved in front of her face and pointed down into the valley.
The elvish city was an impressive sight. Not that Narví was going to admit it anytime soon. It glittered in various shades of red, orange and yellow in the last fading light of the sunset. The long ornate columns towered over the strong wall running around the entire city. She squinted and made a quick calculation. Yes, it was a perfect circle.
„What’s the purpose of those columns.” The dam inquired, as they approached the front gate. No guard in sight, but Narví could feel the pulse of the prosperous city behind the walls. The feeling was somewhat muted, but she put it down to her exhaustion.
Celebrimbor looked like he was planning something. Narví narrowed her eyes at him. He just smirked and uttered a long elvish phrase. Not in Sindarin, of that was Narví certain. It was an older language, rougher around the edges, not quite as elegant. The columns lit up with familiar blue energy and probed the elf and her in turn.
The dam shuddered at the invasiveness of the process, although it didn’t seem much different from the most powerful ritual in the guide’s repertoire. She didn’t expect to be subjected to such a thing. For a brief moment, she entertained the thought of fighting back, but she didn’t want to spend the rest of the evening with a debilitating headache. That… and the lure of the books with almost forgotten knowledge made her lower her shields.
The wards quickly swept through her mind and assessed her intentions. In the next instant, the heaviness that didn’t register to her previously lifted and the dam was assaulted by the sheer amount of information and feelings emanating from the city’s inhabitants. Narví snapped her shields back and melted into the sentinel’s embrace in relief.
„Narví? Did something happen?” Celebrimbor asked, worried the wards on the city caused the guide harm.
„Nothing much. Just an overzealous welcome of your city.” The dam answered evenly. „Although… Do you plan to use similar magic on the West Gate?”
„Yes, I do.” Staring at her critically. „I’ll need some tweaking. I didn’t think it would affect you so strongly.”
Narví blushed. She wasn’t prepared to disclose to the elf lord his city was excited to claim her as his lady pursuant to their nascent bond. Ylva’s laughter rang in her ears and she shook her head to clear it. She didn’t have time or energy to deal with her meddlesome spirit animal. There were more exciting things to do. To admire the city’s architecture, for example.
The dam was fascinated by the seamless blending of underground and overground architecture. It neatly refuted the common knowledge amongst the dwarrows that the eves were incapable of living underground. Celebrimbor was a great companion, showing her the most beautiful sights, dropping out some funny anecdotes about various elf master’s. She laughed more on the short journey from the front gate to the not-quite-palace than in the last five years together.
„Welcome to my home.” The elf bowed theatrically after he helped her to get back on the ground.
She missed his warmth at her back. At least, that’s what she was telling herself. It certainly had nothing to do with the steady strength of his mind that flirted with her shields and managed to worm his way in, before the city interfered. „Thank you, master elf.” She uttered and tried to remove her hand from Celebrimbor’s grasp.
The elf reluctantly released her hand, his attention caught by a strand of her dark hair that escaped her braids. He twisted a finger around a stubborn curl, making her look up. He trailed his finger down her cheek gently. „Let me court you, Narví.”
Narví closed her eyes, torn between her need for independence and her desire for her sentinel. The temptation prevailed. „Are you aware of the requirements for courting a dwarrowdam?”
Instead of making some clever quip, Celebrimbor reached inside his pocket to pick up something. He put a box in dam’s hands. Narví was pleasantly surprised. He had two steps down in one neat move. And maybe another one if the box contained what she thought it did. Carefully, she opened it and gasped.
„When did you find a time to make this?” The dam asked breathlessly, touching the exquisite jewellery reverently.
„I…” Celebrimbor hesitated a little, before soldering on. „When you came in during the feast Durin held in our honour that first evening I was struck by the inspiration. You were a vision and I couldn’t resist. After that, it was just a matter of asking for some time in the forges in exchange for crafting a few pieces for the Forge Master.”
„Thank you, Celebrimbor. I am pleased by your offering. You have my consent to start the courting.” Narví stated seriously and closed the box. Then she grinned impishly. „You set the bar very high. I am curious about your next move.”
The elf offered her his arm gallantly and led her inside. „Shouldn’t you have someone to take after your house?” The dam observed casually.
„I sent a word with one of Durin’s ravens last night. My steward took care of everything. He knows me well, so he set up some refreshment in the library. This way.”
„Fine, you’ve impressed me,” Narví admitted at the first look at the enormous room. The knowledge hoarded inside was very tempting for her. She itched to get her hands on the books. The elf led her to the table and he swept an unassuming manuscript on the way. Narví wrinkled her nose at the lembas but she was hungry enough to try it.
„Dark Valar’s apprentice was never found, once we managed to seal his master in the Void.” Celebrimbor murmured into the stillness of the library, as he browsed through the pages. Thank Valar for lembas. At least he wasn’t hungry anymore.
The dam leaned against him, trying to read over his shoulder. The script was unfamiliar. Narví grimaced when the implications of the rumours Durin shared with her and Celebrimbor’s offhand comment coalesced in something damning. „Do we have to really talk about it, right now?”
„We have to. The spell I wanted to use for the West gate was somewhat known to Morgoth. Not specifics, of course, but it’s still a concern how much he shared with his apprentice.” Celebrimbor said seriously, tapping the book thoughtfully. The spell itself was quite easy to do, but the prerequisites were no laughing matter. Not to mention he would have to modify it, so it wouldn’t be a burden on the dwarrows dwelling in their underground city. Judging how affected Narví was, it was probable, the average dwarf would suffocate under the weight of the elf magic. But maybe if it was cast by a dwarf, it could work. He had to think more about it.
Narví rolled her eyes. A little question and the elf was lost in his own thoughts. Not that she was any better when she got engrossed in her work. Elbowing him, she called his attention back and said. „It’s late for any meaningful conversation. We’ll meet tomorrow to continue. Now, if you’ll be so kind and point me to my room.”
The elf reddened at her rebuke. He put the book down immediately and rose. „Please, follow me.”