Kis ran along side the little grey kid and laughed. She shook her dark curls and skipped after him swinging her bucket him into the woods. He gave a little maaa and pranced on ahead.
Borin called after her, “Be home before dinner, Kis, I don’t want to have to come looking for you!”
“All right, Father, I won’t be long! I’m just going to get some black berries!” And followed her pet into the woods.
The wood was mostly oak and beech trees except for a clump of pine trees towards the middle. There was a big pile of stones there about as tall as Kis and as long as a tall man . Kis had once asked Borin what was under the stones and he had told her that the body of a great warrior was there. When she asked his name Borin had been unable to answer. There was something about the pile that attracted Kis for reason she could not explain and she always visited it and stood there quietly wondering what the man under there had been like, who he was, where he came from and how he had died.
She was standing there thinking her usual thoughts when she heard a sound she had only heard three or four times in her short life, hoof beats and jingling bells.
Curious she set her bucket on the ground and went in search of the source of the sound. Being an elf it didn’t take her long to locate the sound. A dirt road winding winding around the borders of the wood. It wa tall proud white horse with a tall man on its back. The man was dressed in forest green and had a green cloak with the hood thrown back. His hair was golden and pulled half way back to keep it out of his face. His eyes were keen and deep blue. And strangest of all, his ears tapered up into delicate points. Kis put her hands to her own ears. She had thought that she was just born with differently shaped ears than other dwarves, but here was another person with pointed ears.
He road by and she held her breath and hid behind a tall gnarled oak that was at least two hundred years old and about eight feet around. He paused and looked oddly at the tree and Kis swallowed and her heart began to pound as he dismounted and came towards the tree. She swallowed and thought fast.
He turned to the horse, ” Did you see anything Asfaloth my friend?” The horse shook his head and snorted. The man raised an eyebrow and continued towards the tree. He heard a soft rustling and looked up.
He shook his head puzzled and went back to his horse, mounted and rode away.
Kis watched them go with a sigh of relief and jumped down from her tree branch. Her father had often told her that her curiosity would get her into trouble. He could be right. She ran back to the pine wood and got her bucket and her goat and ran to the black berry patch without stopping, She had had enough adventure for one day. She had plenty to ask her father though…..
And ask she did. “Father, today I saw a man riding down the old road on a big white horse. He was all dressed in green and his hair was all long and golden and he had ears just like mine. Arathorn didn’t have pointed ears, what was he Father? A new kind of dwarf?”
Borin choked on his ale and sucked some of it up his nose. He had never told Kis about her race. As far as he was concerned she was a Dwarf and would never need to know about her biological race. Now though he saw she was far to curious and intelligent to be kept in the dark. If he did not supply the answers she might go off and look for them herself one day. Not today, she was only eight after all but still…. Maybe he should answer her.
“He was not a man, at least not a man like Arathorn. He was an Elf. They are the oldest of all the races of the world and are usually trust worthy. They also tend to have leaf shaped ears. The Elf you saw was probably a member of the house hold of the Lord Elrond of Rivendell. Rivendell is an Elven Hall about a fortnight’s jouney from here.”
“Oh. Why don’t they come here and ask you to work iron for them like the men of Chetwood and the Rangers?”
“Elves are skilled in working meatle. At least the ones in Rivendell are and they don’t need me to do it for them.”
Kis nodded and then asked, “Why are my ears like his?”
“Like that Elf’s on the white horse.
“Because that is the way they were when you were born. Some have tipped ears and some don’t.”
Kis fell silent and concentrated on the meal of venison steaks, green beans and goat cheese. She wasn’t entirely satisfied with his reply but knew she would get no more out of him.
Borin decided Kis needed something other than exploring and berry picking to occupy her time. Maybe if he taught her something new and challenging it would keep her busy enough so that she wouldn’t feel the need to ask those rather akward questions. He decided that, despite her small build and the fact she was female he would teach her to wield a battle ax. It would be a good skill for her and it would help her build body strength.After dinner he went out to his small shed where he kept his tools for iron working and began to measure out the iron and wood he would need for an ax small enough for Kis to use.
The next afternoon it was ready. He left the edge blunt and carefully dulled the edge of his own Battle ax. He could re-sharpen it later. He called Kis to him and smiled as he laid the small double bladed ax in her hands. She blinked and hefted it and a smile broke accrossed her face.
“Are you going to teach me to use it Father?”
“I am indeed, Kis. If anything ever happens to me you will need to defend yourself and I am going to teach you to do it. The ax is as good a weapon as any dwarg could ask for and I think your ready to start using it.”
“Now stand with your legs apart to give you balance.”
And so began Kis’ introduction into the use of weapons, and very useful it was going to prove, and years later she received odd glances from people who had never seen a woman, let alone an elf woman carrying a battle ax.