Primary Sources: the Return of the King Appendices, Part 11 of 15
DWARVES MORE: MORE AWESOME
So okay, Thror, the old king, was elderly and tired and had been wandering Middle-Earth with his son and retainers for years. One day he takes his son aside and gives him the last great family treasure, which Thror had been keeping secret: one of the Seven Rings of Power. You may remember: nine for mortal men doomed to die, seven for the dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, one for the dark lord on his dark throne? The king of each of the seven Dwarven nations got a ring, and Thror still had the Longbeard ring.
The ring’s powers were extremely nebulous and allegedly included wealth multiplication, but it definitely didn’t stop Thror’s ancestors from getting a raw deal a few times over, and Thror himself from losing his whole kingdom. So I dunno.
Anyway, afterwards Thror says goodbye to all his family and friends, except for one retainer, the loyal Nar, and leaves without saying where he’s going. Because where he’s going is crazy, and he doesn’t want anyone talking him out of it. He isn’t going to Erebor to try to fight Smaug; he’s not that crazy! No, instead he goes to Moria to try to defeat the balrog and its orcish host.
Nar thinks this is a terrible idea, but Thror signs his paychecks, so off they go, south to Rohan and then past Isengard and up the other side of the Misty Mountains, to the Western Gate of Moria (where an inexplicable sea monster attacks Frodo in Fellowship of the Ring). The big door is wide open, and Thror tells Nar to wait outside, he’ll just pop in and kill the entire nation of goblins and be back shortly.
So Nar paces around for a couple of days, afraid to go into Moria after Thror and also afraid to abandon his post and just flee entirely, and then one morning someone throws a decapitated Dwarf-corpse out of the gate. It rolls down and out and Nar can hear laughter and shouting and goblin-horns being sounded, just inside Moria. He starts to sneak up, or maybe sneak away, but a booming goblin-voice shouts at him from the darkness: c’mon, beardie, we can see you and we aren’t going to kill you (you can tell because you’re still alive). We need you to take a message.
Nar abandons stealth and runs up to the corpse, and sees that it is indeed Thror, or most of him. His severed head had rolled aways away from the rest of Thror. Nar weeps while the voice taunts him about how Thror and Nar were just beggars, and Thror tried to sneak in and steal, and he got what he deserved, and every beardie should know about it.
“But if his family wish to know who is now king here, the name is written on his face. I wrote it! I killed him! I am the master!” crows the voice, according to Tolkien.
Nar examines Thror’s severed head, and sure enough, it has AZOG carved across the forehead. Then Azog, the goblin-king in question, throws some small change at Nar and taunts him more, driving him off. Nar flees, but not until he sees the orcs come out and hack apart Thror’s corpse and feed it to crows. Bad crows. Wicked, wicked crows.
So Nar finds Thrain, and fills him in, and Thrain is like, okay, time for a war. Then he remembers that he’s essentially homeless and has no kingdom and no army.
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