Meet the Ladies – 1

Our first guest-submission is the story of Krafali from Russian server Fornost, a dwarven Huntress, member of the Kinship called “The Brotherhood of Steel”. Her original biography can be read on the Kinship’s recruiting forum, in Russian. She kindly allowed me to translate it and share it with you. It gives us another wonderful (and rather sad, truth to be told) reason for a dwarven lady to leave the mountains.

It seemed that there was a bear trudging through the darkness of the rightfully called so Misty Mountains . The snow was scrunching underneath; occasional snap of the branch was heard. All of it was accompanied by the moans of the snowstorm, which occasionally mixed with the howls of hungry Wargs. Suddenly the snow-dusted branches of the fir trees were forcefully moved apart, and a broad-shouldered and sturdy figure made it into the valley, swearing and cursing. It was a red-bearded dwarfesse in leather armour and with an exquisitely carved bow behind her back. Her usually well-kempt and beautifully braided beard was now tangled and smeared with blood.  She had an unexpected encounter with a troll who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, which naturally resulted in a fight. Now, this won’t do… Her supply of athelas was running out, and her axe was getting blunted. Come to think of it, it would be nice to mend the warm cloak, too.

Krafali was wandering in the alien lands of Eriador for several seasons already. Now, looking at the spires of Caradhras, barely visible because of the bad weather, she recalled her home Blue Mountains and let out a sigh. She had to leave, just had to. It was inevitable because the worry about her husband kept disturbing Krafali’s sleep with nightmares and her work in the forge with a trembling in her hands. For many years they stayed in the secluded valley in their village which grew slowly, but steadily century after century. Nali was honing his craft as a metal-smith and armourer in his family’s forge.  And Krafali herself was hunting for the animal skins and was making light armour pieces for trading with human mercenaries and local guards. Even now she didn’t know what possessed her homebird-husband, a devoted patron of the local tavern, to join the travelling merchants (“Stop grumbling, it’s only a couple of weeks – but a king’s ransom worth of payoff!”).  The merchants didn’t return and neither did her husband… The summer was over, even the windy and damp autumn turned into winter, but Nali was still absent, and the passing travelers brought no news.  Then the mountain passage at the entrance to the valley, blocked by the snow-winds, was cut off from the rest of the world until spring.  When the first streams came, and a new merchant party was assembling to sell abroad the goods crafted during the winter time, Krafali had had enough of the waiting. “I share with you the hardships, the joy, and the metal veins until the Mountain Roots stand…” – that’s what she vowed, didn’t she?

The travelling bag was pulling her back and making her shoulders sore. At first the dwarfesse didn’t want to leave household belongings behind and took everything she considered indispensable along with her. But soon even her vast supplies ran out.

In the town of Gondamon, dwarven center of commerce, she found out that the merchants didn’t manage to sell anything there and proceeded to try their luck in Thorin’s Hall. Unfortunately, on the way they were attacked by the mountain trolls. The guards were fighting till the very end, but the huge rocks thrown by those evil scums damaged the armour…yet some dwarves managed to escape. Desperate, Krafali made it to the Thorin’s Hall hoping to find out about her husband’s lot. But King Dwalin’s dwarves couldn’t recall any names. Why, yes, they remembered a couple of battered runaways whom they fed and cured. True, there was someone who looked like Nali, but where he went even Aule himself couldn’t tell.

The hunter’s trainer, who croaked approvingly at the sight of Krafali’s beard and her strong arms, taught her a trick or two with the bow and offered her to stay. So did the Metalsmith master. But the dwarfesse kept shaking her head. She had to find Nali or learn about his death!

The roads of Eriador soon were under her boots again. Men and Elves were shooting her suspicious side-glances, some were asking for help, others tried to abuse her… but it never ended well for them, huh! But the stubborn fire in her aquamarine-colored eyes, which always helped her to defeat any enemy, was now fading away.

Krafali learned from the Rangers that the Shadow of the Enemy once again loomed over the Free Peoples. His servants were crawling out of their dirty holes – and she saw the peril they brought with her own eyes.

She left many lands behind – and even more defeated enemies; her Hunter’s sight got sharper, her handgrip got stronger, and her armour became more solid – but she never came to meet Nali again… Glimpses of hope shimmered here and there: a similar dwarf was told to be seen in some places, but where he went and why he didn’t come back home was known to none but the Spirit of Stone alone.

Loneliness could be seen more and more often deep inside Krafali’s eyes. True, she has met many of her kin, some were fighting alongside Men and Elves and even Hobbits – what a thought, those peaceful Halflings! But all of them already had faithful friends of their own.

And now, exhausted by her crossing of the Misty Mountains, the dwarfesse was thinking about her old comrades: a somewhat gruff but fiery-spirited Captain with a clean-shaved skull which was long remembered by those of his enemies who managed to survive; a minstrel who inspired his fellows in the swamps of Garth Agarwen and helped their victory; her latest acquaintance – a brave champion, who fought by side against the giants.

Oh, yes, he was much surprised to learn that his fellow-in-arms was not male – human folk was funny sometimes, indeed…

She met many people, but they were only comrades – leaving her with emptiness inside and an unguarded back… From the innkeeper in Bree she learned about a kinship of dwarves. Brotherhood of Steel it was called – where skilled artisans and warriors could always find shelter and a pint of good beer. “Kinship” had a sweet taste to it, here, in the middle of the cold plains with nothing but wargs’ eyes glinting in the distance…

She made up her mind. Krafali adjusted her travelling bag and set out on the search of someone who could tell her more about this brave kin.

***

As you can see from the picture of Krafali, she dresses in a way that does not give out her gender to non-dwarves (to players who do not know the biography). It may be a choice driven by the wish to escape harrassment from other gamers (she asked not to reveal her main character’s name or her account name on the game forum). It may as well be the choice of her character as a traditionally minded female dwarf. But ultimately, it does not matter in the sense that her character is very thought through, and the level of development of the story can be looked up to. 

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About Curved Steel

A blog appreciating and exploring the roleplay of female dwarfs in the Lord of the Rings Online
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