Signal-drumming was apparently nearly a lost art even by Oakenshield’s generation. “The practice was limited and largely unnecessary, in Erebor,” he explains. “It was kept up for the sake of tradition, valued for performance and aesthetics, not the vital form of communication it had once been.”
Vital indeed. A living, thriving language, the pulse in the veins of a once-massive civilization— unimaginably massive, by today’s standards. It was capable of sending incredibly complex messages over great distances underground, and in the days when Durin’s folk ruled the entirety of Gundabad and the Misty Mountains, the first and often most reliable word to come from faraway cities was the echo of drums, in caverns deeper than most of the citizenry had cause to venture. The signal-drummers did, though, and boomed out information like a flowing river from city to city in their complex encoded rhythms. So who were these musicians? Much more than musicians, Oakenshield tells us seriously, and if the two crafts held some skills in common, they were as separate and specialized as that of a sculptor versus a bridge-carpenter. It was a job endowed with a huge amount of responsibility, and took a lifetime of training on top of an inborn talent. “A good signal-drummer could hear the color of another one’s beard,” Oakenshield quips with a startling and compelling smile. “So the saying went.”
The talk eventually turns darker. After all, as no one has forgotten, Khazad-dûm is a fallen empire. Durin’s Bane came from below, and the drummers were among the first casualties. Oakenshield speaks grimly, looking off into the middle distance as though watching the devastation himself. He is, it is also not to be forgotten, Durin’s direct descendant. “There is a signal, a simple, basic one,” he says, and taps his fingers on his chest: thump-thump. Thump-thump. “A heartbeat, the heartbeat of the mountain and the stone and the very earth itself. Given once— in especially urgent situations, it may be given twice— it is routine, and indicates only ‘message to follow.’ But if repeated, over and over, it signals catastrophic disaster. It is a warning. ‘Get out.’”
What sort of catastrophic disaster had Dwarrowdelf planned for? Natural ones, mostly. Earthquakes, massive structural failure, explosions of underground pockets of gas, volcanic activity. The sort of thing that would necessitate the evacuation of a city. Durin’s Bane, of course, necessitated the evacuation of an entire kingdom.
there is a song called traveler’s train. a dwarf wrote it; one of Thorin’s mountain, though not one he is acquainted with personally. To the best of his knowledge, anyway.
He’s learned it from his dwarves, because it spread and they teach it to each other, and dwarves carry it from one settlement to another caravan to a different caravan to a little enclave of Longbeards in the halls of the Stonefoots to a caravan to a settlement in Gondor where his dwarves sleep with one ear cocked for angry Men’s voices, ready to slip out the little tunnels they’ve already prepared, to meet whatever caravan is passing and keep on. Traveler’s Train, a wordless tune that they play, whoever’s riding on the carts on what instruments they have and the rest of them humming, to pass the long miles between meals. Thorin is their king and Thorin is one of them, and has learned the song, and brought it to others, he and Dis and their boys, he and Balin and Dwalin and Odi, who always rides in the cart these days. He and the ravens, who croak and quork and snap their beaks almost in rhythm.
Traveler’s Train, it is called, and Fili and Kili, like the other children in this caravan, call it Caravan Travelling and Road-dwarf song in code-switching Khuzdul and Westron and the speech of ravens that has no name. Odi is teaching them ancient extinct languages of Men. Khazad-train song, Fili calls it in one of them, and one of the adults cries out to Mahal that their children know no other life than this: endlessly walking the roads that they built millennia ago, never resting under stone as anything more than guests, that they think the word traveler can be translated as dwarf, with not a single descriptor or modifier.
Traveler’s Train, and it has traveled the world over and back so many times Thorin has lost track, the Broadbeams in his Company play it along with the Longbeards because they know it just as well; the wizard makes no comment but the halfling says “oh, I know this song.”
Dwarves twist around in their saddles to look at him.
“My mother used to sing it,” he continues blithely, and now they all swivel their heads to look at Bombur, who shrugs and reddens slightly, and Bofur gives them that grin that says he’ll kill anyone who so much as insinuates his brother perhaps should not have taught a hobbit-maid a dwarven song. Thorin gives Bombur a minute nod, which he knows enough of the others will have been watching him to see and note: the song is wordless, an idle rambling tune written in exile, and is not a secret. Bombur was given little enough time with the little hobbit-maid who married another hobbit in the end. Thorin won’t begrudge it, no matter how it grates against his instinctive reaction.
But their own little hobbit opens his mouth and starts to sing along in Westron. The lyrics are hobbitish, clearly: full of imagery drawn from farms and things that… grow and hop and crawl and fly. Thorin doesn’t know whether most of the things mentioned are flowers or animals.
He sings of a dwarf-caravan, coming through year after year, and the dwarf-tinker who comes with them. He sings of the alluring call of the open road, and the romance of a life ever-changing, and how the tinker would never settle in one place, not even for love. But I packed a bag in secret, he sang, and someday, someday, I’ll follow him away, unless you ask me now—
He breaks off, looking appalled, and stays silent for the rest of the afternoon.
Good. Thorin is so angry that his vision is greying out at the edges; if the halfling says another word it is unlikely Thorin will be able to continue guiding his own pony.
Genesis--a Birthday fic for the lovely and talented RDH
Alright, this is for raining-down-hearts because today is her birthday and she wanted pre-canon SoMa, so pre-canon SoMa it is.
Soul is a bit of a whiny fuck, but then, Soul is always a bit of a whiny fuck. Fair warning.
Happy birthday, RDH! This isn’t nearly good enough to honor your awesomeness, but I did what I could. Precanon is a bitch to write, what can I say?
Special thanks to rebornfromash for reading through this mess and, as usual, making it suck less.
If their partnership was anything so far, and it was many things, confusing was at the top of the list.
When he had first arrived at the DWMA, first shown up to a classroom full of new weapons and meisters on the first day, he was surprised to hear that they would need to find a partner, that they should start looking now by getting to know the people in the room. Soul had known, in a sort of distant way, that he would eventually have to find a meister, a person to wield him, but he’d figured they’d assign him someone down the road. He certainly didn’t plan on having to mingle just yet, to be forced to look for someone to wield him so soon.
The very idea of someone holding him and swinging him around was odd and unpleasant. Hell, he hadn’t even figured out how to take his full weapon form yet–how on earth did they expect him to be used by a meister?
He wasn’t ready for this. He had just gotten here, to this strange school in this to strange city, bought all new clothes to go with his new life, clothes his parents never would have approved of with their bold colors and casual style, was still living out of a suitcase in a hotel room. How could he be expected to find someone so important so soon, someone he would be stuck with for the foreseeable future, a new someone to disappoint? Here and now were not the time.
Long used to occupying the edge of a crowd, to staying in the shadows unnoticed and unbothered, Soul drifted towards the edge of the room as others mingled, leaning into a space between windows, his posture slouched and his arms folded protectively over his chest in a move he hoped made him appear unapproachable.
Most people seemed to get the message and stayed away–he was damned good at sending off the leave me alone vibe and most people caught on and ignored him.
blind!Sherlock never cared much about colors. He grew up knowing there wasn’t anything he could do to change the fact that he will never be able to see any of them, and had accept it.
But then, Sherlock had never planed to meet John Watson.
John is not like any other. John doesn’t laugh at him the first he deduced his limp and military carrier just by hearing him walk. John doesn’t go away when Sherlock propose him a flat share. John doesn’t give up on him when Sherlock spends hours not talking or when he blows up the kitchen or even when he ruins each and everyone of his date.
John is unique.
John kisses him one morning.
John sleeps in his bed every night.
John laughs with him, touches him, makes love to him.
And for the first time in his life, Sherlock wishes he could see the exact color of John’s skin, of his hair, of his lips. Sherlock wishes and accepts that he will never know.
But that’s alright.
That’s more than alright because John lets Sherlock discover his body with his hands and lips for hours. And Sherlock wants to touch every inch of John’s skin. He wants to be the only person to know him so intimately. And Sherlock loves him, loves him so much he’s afraid he will never be able to tell John, to show him. To make him understand that there was a time when Sherlock’s life had been surrounded by darkness.