Alien Creatures: Part II
by Honesty aka Morrighan

Durin's beard! He is watching me *again*! Will that infernal Elf never leave me be?

I *know* that he finds the very sight of me offensive, for he makes that abundantly clear - but still he will not look away. Illogical creature! Does it give him satisfaction to irritate himself thus? Does he think I'd want an *Elf* watching me all the time?

You would think he could take himself off somewhere else, if he found my presence so offensive - or at least find some other object to stare at - but no! He has to sit there watching me, as though I constitute some kind of personal affront to his dignity.

Elves and their dignities! If I knew what to make of them I'd be a considerably wiser Dwarf than I am. They seem to be little more than a pack of contradiction, fickle as weathervanes. They plunge like lunatics between flippancy and gravity, joy and grief, wisdom, folly and madness, as if stability of any kind is beyond their grasp - or perhaps to prove to us that they are answerable only to their own whims, and have no need of our approval, or even our comprehension. No; they will do as they will do - capricious and fickle as they are - and if any has the gall to look askance at them, they raise their perfect eyebrows at our presumption and become dignified and inscrutable once more.

Enough! Will you *now* stop watching me? I look no different to how I did thirty seconds ago. I am still a Dwarf! We were never made to be comely, and we are certainly not here to be *looked* at.

That's right, you turn away. You do not *have* to watch me - and you certainly do not have to grimace so, to make it obvious that I am repulsive to you. There are fairer sights to rest your eyes on here - but then you probably do not even find the great halls of my people to your liking, do you?

You see them now dark and lonely; but you should have seen them when they were filled with lamps and fires. They would not have been dark then! No, nor cold either, but warm and bright and filled with life and sound. They would have been glorious then!

But he has an Elf's eyes. He should be able to see for himself the fine lines of the walls and roofs, the perfection of the arches and vaulted roofs, the way the carven walls have been worked true to the strengths of the rock. He should not need *light* to be shown the glories of these halls, or the care and patience that went into their making.

But why should I care? He *is* only an Elf, after all. Why *should* I find his disdain hurtful?

Probably because I am meant to, damn him. The problem with the Elves - the main problem, I mean, for there are many - is their own infuriating sense of their own superiority. We are insignificant beside them, so secure are they in their own exalted status as the first-born among the races - the most perfect, the most lovely, the most graceful, the most wise. And we, of course - their lesser brethren - are supposed only to look on them and worship, and feel our own unworthiness in the face of their blinding perfection.

It shames me to utter it even in thought, but I know I feel it. I come from a craftsman's line, and I cannot help but recognise beauty - even the elusive, intangible beauty that *he* possesses. We are *meant* to see them as wonderful, so I suppose I have little choice in the matter. He is - oh, there are no words for it ... but I look at him and - I cannot help it.

But that does not mean I have to like it.

After all, what *is* beauty? If they had faces like ours, how much more harshly we would judge them! We would never *then* stand for their arrogance or their aloofness, the way they spurn us as thoughtlessly as they captivate us. No; we would judge them on their deeds, unswayed by fair faces or sweet words. But they, of course, being *perfect*, are quite free to disdain us as unworthy.

They say it was not always so; but from all I have ever heard, the alliances we have had with them have been infrequent and uneasy, marred by distrust and misunderstanding, and the ever-present sting of their perceived superiority. Seldom, if ever, has true regard existed between the peoples.

They say that such was the regard between Khazad-Dum and Hollin, I suppose, but that was a very different matter. The elves of Hollin were smiths themselves, not well-dressed wastrels or fickle, unproductive dreamers. In fact -

In fact, there are songs still sung in Erebor of Narvi and Celebrimbor, of their deeds and the great works they wrought together. Close as brothers, the songs say, though of course the songs tell more of the works than their makers. But there are whispered tales that say they were closer still. Narvi was of the stone-wrights of Khazad-dum - one of the greatest ever in all that great land, so they tell, and Celebrimbor was said to be highest among the Elven-smiths. And if the whispers are true, they loved as Dwarf and Elf never did before nor will since.

Those Doors! They must have understood each other truly to create such beauty between them. Never had I thought to look on any of their works before we reached the walls of Khazad-Dum! I could marvel for a lifetime over the grain of the rock that Narvi chose, over their fit and mechanism. And the signs! They would have been engraved first by Narvi, and then the ithildin worked by Celebrimbor - but if the emblems speak true both had a hand in their designing. Never had I thought to see such workmanship!

Never had I thought I would be the last of Durin's folk to look upon them.

Great and true must have been the unity between them, to make such works! None could gainsay a friendship that brought forth such great beauty.

None among the Dwarves, of that I am sure! Though since Celebrimbor is renowned among the Elves chiefly for his ill choice of friends, and the peril it brought on his people I doubt that they share our views. *He* would never countenance such folly, would he?

But I am wasting my time on him. We have far to travel tomorrow, and I should be sleeping, rather than wasting my thoughts on him again. There is no understanding the Elves, and I do not propose even to attempt it. They are unaccountable, capricious, *alien* creatures, and if I am not careful he will drag me into insanity with him.

I shall sleep now, and leave it be - and let him stare at whom he will. *I* will not stare back.

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