|“|| The world was young, the mountains green,|
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone.
He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stooped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head.
–Gimli, The Fellowship of the Ring
Durin's Folk, the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, are master craftsmen and miners, similar to their cousins in the Blue Mountains. They value the riches of the earth, and delve deeply through complex systems of mines in the mountainous terrain of their home.
Durin awoke in the Deeps of Time at Mount Gundabad, and wandered the wild alone. He eventually reached Kheled-zaram, the Mirrormere in the vale of Azanulbizar. There he saw in its black waters a crown of stars above his head, signifying by divine right he was to be King. He founded the mansions of Khazad-dum beneath Barazinbar, Bundshathur, and Zirak-zigil, and lived long. The Dwarves of his people spread, and colonized the rest of the Misty Mountains, along with the Iron Hills, Grey Mountains, and Erebor. Through the mining of iron and gold they grew immensely wealthy. It was seen at this time that King Durin would die, but would himself be reborn as his own child. This new Durin, so it was said, would retain the memory of his forebears as if they were a single person. For this reason Durin was known as "The Deathless".
It came to pass that in Khazad-dum they discovered that which the Elves name mithril, found there alone of anywhere on Middle-earth. Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Khazad could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of mithril did not tarnish or grow dim. And its wealth was ten times that of gold.
When Nogrod and Belegost were ruined in the War of Wrath, most of the remnants of their people fled to Khazad-dum, bolstering their numbers. During that time, Men came to Wilderland and allied with the Khazad. "There grew up in those regions the economy, later characteristic of the dealings of Dwarves and Men: Men became the chief providers of food, as herdsmen, shepherds, and land-tillers, which the Dwarves exchanged for work as builders, roadmakers, miners, and the makers of things of craft. In early times the Dwarves obtained goods that were the product of greater and longer toil than the things or services that they gave in exchange, before Men became wiser and developed skills of their own." Militarily, men and dwarves also aided one another. The Dwarves, doughtiest warriors of their time, defended Men against the remnants of Orcs dwelling in Forodwaith. The Men, on the other hand, provided swift scouts and mounted archers. At no time did any Dwarf mount any beast, nor harbour any animal, even hounds.A friendship also began between the Elves of Eregion and Khazad-dum. The Elves were great craftsmen, and so held the respect of the Dwarves. Celebrimbor drew the signs on the Western Doors, with the aid of Narvi. But on the eastern side was placed many spells, for it looked out onto the wide world, and had warnings in the tongues of Elves, Dwarves, Dunlendings, and Edain, for all who had not the leave of Durin, depart. It is said that Celebrimbor, not Sauron, gave the greatest of the Seven to Durin as a gift. But when Eregion was assailed in SA 1700, that alliance fell. Khazad-dum fought Sauron, but were too late to save Ost-in-Edhil. Therefore they retreated into the impregnable mansions. Its wealth lay untouched, but outside the world grew dark. The alliance of Men and Dwarves also ended. Men of a new sort came out of the East and swept away the Northmen, while Orcs came into the mountains and took holds in the North.
It was not until the War of the Last Alliance, in SA 3434, that the Doors of Durin were opened again, for Durin V sent out an army to aid Gil-galad. They fought upon the Dagorlad, and had the victory. When Sauron was defeated they returned. Moria had peace for long years, digging ever deeper for mithril. But coming out of the deep, a demon of ancient times assailed the city from within in TA 1980, killing Durin VI (the last time Durin the Deathless appeared as of yet) and his son Nain. The Dwarves fled to the Ered Mithrin, part of their ancient realm. Thrain I built halls under the Lonely Mountain in TA 1999, and his son Thorin I joined the rest of their people further north in TA 2210.
But though they gained wealth again in the Grey Mountains, they were not safe. Dragons came out of the Withered Heath, and in TA 2570 they sacked the Dwarvish halls. King Dain I and his second son Fror were lain by a cold-drake 19 years later, and his other sons Thror and Gror fled. Thror returned to the Kingdom under the Mountain, while Gror entered the Iron Hills. Thror prospered, winning the friendship of all Men nearby, and trafficking in ore with their kin in the Iron Hills. News of the wealth of Erebor spread and reached the dragons, and in 2770 Smaug the Golden descended upon the Mountain, and sacked it. Although many Dwarves were killed, many escaped as well. Among them were King Thrór and his family, who headed south into a long homeless wandering, while most of the surviving Longbeards headed east to the Iron Hills.
Thror and his people settled in Dunland, but they were poor and did little. Thror however left to enter Khazad-dum in TA 2790. He took with him a single companion, Nar. Nar waited outside the gate for days, until Thror's corpse was hurled from the doors. His ring was not on him, and it was believed that Azog had taken it. On his head was a brand of the name "AZOG". Ever was that name branded into the hearts of the Dwarves. Azog mocked Nar from the gate, and sent him to report to Thrain II, son of Thror. Thrain II sat silent for seven days, weeping and tearing his beard, until he stood up and shouted "This cannot be borne!"
The Dwarves mustered a great host, with representatives from all seven houses, and after three years they marched upon the Mountains. Every stronghold they could find of the Orcs between Gundabad and the Gladden was sacked, and dark deeds were done by both sides in the shadows. At last in TA 2799 they attacked Khazad-dum. It was a dark winter day, and the battle was against the Dwarves at first. The Orcs had the high ground, and they drove them into a forest with great slaughter. Frerin son of Thrain was killed, and Thrain himself blinded in one eye. Thorin son of Thrain earned himself the name Oakenshield, for when his shield was riven he grabbed a oak branch and used it to defend himself, or as a club. But the mailed warriors of Nain son of Gror of the Iron Hills, coming late to the field, drove back the Orcs, and Nain's mattock-wielding guard pierced even the elite warriors of Azog. There the two dueled, but Azog was fresh, while Nain was tired and full of battle-rage. Azog managed to slay him, but as he turned to laugh he saw the rout of all his men, and the Dwarves rushing up the steps with vengeful eyes. He turned to flee, but coming up behind came Dain son of Nain, with a red axe. He hewed the head of Azog and cut it off. That day perished ten thousand of the Orcs of the North, and their numbers never fully recovered. But they did not enter Khazad-dum, nor did they recover the ring of Thror.Thrain came forth and declared the battle won, and proposed to enter Khazad-dum. But Dain dissuaded him, saying Durin's Bane still lurked beyond the shadow of the gate. The Dwarves had won the battle, but half their warriors lay dead upon the field. There were too many for the traditional Dwarvish burials in stone, so they loaded their weapons and armor onto their backs (so that the Orcs would not return and win and burnt the bodies, an act grievous to them. For many years after, when discussing their lineage, the sons of the fallen could point to one of their ancestors and say "he was a burned Dwarf" and that is enough.Thrain and his son Thorin thus returned to their home, as did all the other hosts. Their people eventually migrated to the Blue Mountains, where they prospered slowly. Thrain was lost trying to return to Erebor, being taken on the borders of Mirkwood to the pits of the Necromancer, and there died, but not before giving a map and key to Gandalf the Grey.
In TA 2941, 91 years after the death of Thrain, his son Thorin II Oakenshield, King of Durin's Folk, set out. He was aided by 12 Dwarvish companions, along with Gandalf and a Halfling of the Shire, at Gandalf's insistence. They had many adventures, being kidnapped by Orcs crossing the Misty Mountains, and imprisoned by Thranduil in Mirkwood. But they finally reached the Lonely Mountain, inciting Smaug's attack on Lake-Town and his subsequent death. They were besieged in the mountain by the Men and Elves, but Dain's folk of the Iron Hills came to the rescue. But before battle was joined, a host of Orcs under Bolg son of Azog came down from the North.The Dwarves of the Iron Hills waded into the battle from the eastern slope with cries of "Moria!" and "Dain!" But they were outflanked by Orcs coming around other sides of the Mountain. Then Thorin came from Erebor, and drove back the Orcs and rallied all the Free People. But again they were driven back and surrounded, and Thorin and his sister-sons fell. The day looked grim until Beorn and the Eagles of the North appeared, slaying Bolg and recovering the body of Thorin, and winning the battle. Dain II Ironfoot was crowned King under the Mountain, and Thorin and his sister-sons Fili and Kili laid to rest beneath the Mountain. Thorin lay with the Arkenstone on his breast and the sword Orcrist at his side.
Durin's Folk have grown strong and great since the Battle of Five Armies, and Dain Ironfoot has the alliance of King Bain and his son Brand in Dale. At the birth of Dain's son, Thorin III Stonehelm, it was prophecied that, in time, one of his line would appear, and he would be Durin VII and the Last, before the race of Dwarves failed. This gives hope to the Dwarves, that Durin will come again. But not all is good since the death of the Dragon, and there is trouble afoot. Balin son of Fundin spoke long about returning to Khazad-dum, the wonder of the ancient world. Too deep the Dwarves delved there, and woke the nameless fear. But he and others spoke of it with longing, and yet with dread, for no Dwarf had passed there for many years. At last he set off, begrudging the wishes of Dain, with a small company. That was nigh on fifteen years ago. For a time the news was good: Moria retaken and work begun. But then all went silent. The Dwarves know not what has happened there, and fear for the company of Balin.
The Dwarves of Durin's Folk, people of the Mountain and Iron Hills, brave warriors of Dain, have become fabulously wealthy and prosperous once more. But in metalwork they cannot rival their fathers, many of whose secrets are lost. They make good armour and keen swords, but cannot again make mail or blade to match those that were made before the Dragon came. Yet in mining and building they surpass the old days. They have built halls and cavernous streets under the earth with arches carved like trees and terraces and towers upon the Mountain's sides! They are not idle, nay, they have built places that shall last a thousand years! But they are troubled, for the mystery of Balin's company, and the threat of the Shadow rising in the east. Yet if this is to be the end of the Line of Durin, then it will be glorious, renowned among the Khazad until the ending of their race!
•Dúnedain of the North
|The Dwarves of Durin's Folk|
Dwarf (Axe Thrower, Banner Bearer, Warrior)