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Culture Clash by Erulisse

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Story notes:
Disclaimer: Tolkien built the sand box; I only play with the bucket and shovel that he left for me. No money, profit or non, is made from the publication of this story.

Culture Clash

Glin was muttering to himself. “New there are new delvings. We are always opening up new areas to mine. The directions to find these new claims might have been a bit clearer!” The excited words of his young cousin who had carried Grin's message had been muddled. He had just babbled excitedly about rooms with embedded gemstones and that his father requested Glin's presence.

He had entered his clan's section of the tunnels several hours earlier, journeying through the tight tunnels and the open rooms on his way to join his father. Grin had asked his help to examine and determine the quality of the rumored walls of rubies and diamonds.

The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill. The stone walls were roughly carved, but strongly braced and the stone was the correct type to bear gemstones. He came to a fork in the passage and stopped, looking at the intersection. He hadn't been told about any deviation in the pathway. Which way should he take? Making a quick decision, he veered to the right and entered a new tunnel.

Almost immediately the ground angled down in a gentle slope. The tunnel was straight so he progressed with some speed, only slowing down to make sure that the cross-braces had been properly erected. He noticed that there were no clan markings on the beams and that caused him momentary concern. Usually beams were marked to show which clan was in charge of that part of the delving. Walking into another clan's cutting without permission or a guide was considered trespassing. Such trespass could lead to strong words and sometimes actual blows and would certainly be cause for the King's unwelcome attention.

He cocked his head and listened carefully. There were voices ahead of him. Surely…no...he couldn't be hearing voices singing ahead of him? The words seemed strange and unfamiliar to him, and the tune was strangely bright for a dwarven tune.

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn till nightWe dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up everything in sightWe dig up diamonds by the scoreA thousand rubies, sometimes moreBut we don't know what we dig 'em forWe dig dig dig a-dig digHeigh-ho, Heigh-hoHeigh-ho, Heigh-hoHeigh-hoHeigh-ho, Heigh-hoIt's home from work we goHeigh-ho, Heigh-ho, Heigh-hoSuddenly he heard whistling begin to accompany the words, but the music was fading as if the singers were walking away from him. He shuddered. “What dwarf would sing so brightly and whistle? This is behavior inappropriate to a mine, a delving, to this sacred task that dwarves have been assigned and created to do by Mahal. This irreverent behavior must be stopped!” He rushed forward and entered a larger chamber, now empty except for echoes. As he stepped forward to give chase up the tunnel at the far end, a firm but kind voice stopped him. “These dwarves are not your kin, child of Mahal. They walk the steps of a different tale. Return to your own people and find your father in your own cuttings.” Glin still attempted to move forward for another few steps but he was held immobile by an unknown force and was not allowed to progress. He stopped fighting to move forward and turned around. “By your command, Lord, I hear and obey,” he whispered and bowed deeply in the direction of the voice. He began walking back up the slope reversing his direction back towards the intersection. Just before he left the strange delving behind him and entered the main passageway, he realized to his disgust that he was humming the sprightly tune. “By Durin's beard, I cannot shake this tune from my head. I will be the laughingstock of my family if I cannot stop humming this.” He growled in frustration. But as he walked down the correct tunnel while Mahal sealed the intersection behind him so that no further trespass would be possible, the Vala smiled to hear Glin's young dwarven voice singing “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work I go,” followed by another frustrated growl and a deep sigh. And as the Vala faded from sight, he too was humming the catchy tune. (With apologies to Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful and Doc.)
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