They reached the mountain just after noon. Glóin and another dwarf were carrying the fuming Gimli on a makeshift stretcher, but the wounded elves were, as they assured Legolas, very capable of walking on their own.
Upon reaching the mountain, they were greeted by the sentry. Gimli returned the greeting, and glared furiously when the Dwarf stared at Legolas with open disgust.
They went down, through tall rooms and dark tunnels, the walls richly decorated and carved, very like to Khazad-dum.
“Nice home, Gimli,” Legolas remarked, “if you like solid stone.”
“It so happens that I do,” Gimli replied, “as do all of my kin. Your own home is almost wholly stone.”
“But not entirely. I believe I have told you before: you Dwarves are strange folk.”
“Oh? And Elves are not?” Gimli retorted. “I have also told you before: Elves are stranger than we Dwarves. At least we do not weary other’s ears with perpetual singing and poetic remarks
“No, you Dwarves are satisfied to merely sit about and hammer endlessly away at your forges, keeping yourselves from all contact with the outside world,” Legolas said as they laid Gimli upon a couch. “Now be still while I tend to your wound.”
“Wound? That scratch doesn’t deserve the name,” Gimli muttered. He glared around the room at everything.
“Do you have water and fresh bandages?” Legolas asked.
“Of course we do,” Gloin said. “We may not have a convenient river flowing beneath our fortress, but we certainly are capable of everything you Elves create!” He stomped out.
Legolas raised one eyebrow slightly.
“My father is exceedingly proud of his accomplishments, and objects most strongly to anyone suggesting that he is not as talented as the pointy-ears,” Gimli said.
“Indeed?” Legolas said.
“In fact, a Man was here once, before I ever journeyed to Rivendell,” Gimli said, quite proudly, “and he suggested that the Dwarves had forgotten how to make the once-great halls as before, and, sighing a little, he said that now only the Elves were capable of such wonders.”
“You remember this quite well,” Legolas said. “So what did your father do?”
“He drew his axe, and was about to kill him,” Gimli said, “when Dori interfered. For a moment I thought my father was angry enough to first behead Dori and then move on to the Man, but he finally calmed.”
Legolas nodded. “I see.”
“The Man never returned,” Gimli said with a trace of regretfulness. A snort came from Legolas’s general direction.
It was fully a week before Gimli’s leg was healed enough that Legolas would permit him to rise, and then only upon the conditions that Legolas should always be with him, and that Gimli would not be on his feet for more than a half-hour at a time.
The elves were put up with and treated with cold politeness, though Dori, Nori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Dwalin hardly spoke to them, and did not speak at all to Maedhros and Legolas. Gloin, however, was courteous to them all, and did his best to make them welcome, though more for his son’s sake than from a genuine affection for them. Thorin Stonehelm, the present King under the Mountain, was also polite, but distant. He gratified every need that his strange guests might have, and generally kept out of their way.
Gimli witnessed this dislike of his friends with rising fury.
Legolas knew the signs that Gimli was about to explode, and suggested a walk outside the Mountain now that Gimli was almost completely recovered. Once safely out of Dwarvish, though perhaps not Elvish, earshot, Gimli did explode.
After about five minutes of ranting, Gimli calmed enough to allow Legolas a few words.
“It’s not entirely their fault, Gimli. Our races have been prejudiced against each other since the First Age.”
“SO? Yes, dwarves and elves don’t as a rule like each other, but they could at least be civil!” Gimli roared. “They’re pointedly ignoring you!”
“Only those who were a part of Thorin’s party,” Legolas said, attempting to placate his friend. He was not offended by the dwarves’ avoidance of them; in fact, he thought it perfectly natural, considering that they had been imprisoned by his father-rather unjustly. “And your father is courteous enough. Besides, we won’t be staying here too much longer, and those of your kin who accompany us will get used to the idea of Elves as companions and friends. You certainly did.”
“I suppose,” Gimli grunted, still unconvinced but reconciled.
“And don’t say anything to them,” Legolas warned. “It won’t help.”
When they returned to the mountain, the elves treated Gimli with a new respect and camaraderie, even allowing him to take them on tours of the Mountain.
Two weeks later, twenty-six elves and twenty-six dwarves left the Lonely Mountain. Originally, Gimli and Legolas had planned to travel through Mirkwood and perhaps stop for a while, but the addition of Nori to the group discouraged that idea. Frerin son of Balin was also accompanying them. He was young, only sixty-three, but his own dwarf and eager to travel.
The party of elves and dwarves stopped in Laketown for two nights, and there the Elves procured many arrows for their bows, having recovered few unspoilt from the dead Warg bodies.
Beleg, the elder brother of the Elf who was slain by the Wargs, left the company there, and returned to Mirkwood to bury his brother.
It was a peaceful three months journeying. There was one minor skirmish with a hunting pack of ten Wargs, but the only result was that more than a few elves and dwarves were put out of sorts by not having a chance to kill a Warg.
One night Maedhros amazed everyone by reciting eighty-seven verses of the ancient Lay of Leithian from memory, which no one had ever done before. Legolas, not to be outdone, recited Bilbo’s Earendil’s Lay, and was beginning an ancient lay about Finrod Felagund when the dwarves, with Gimli as their spokesman, threatened to begin having singing contests all night. The elves quickly subsided.