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He had found this vein years ago, scented the faint sheen hiding amongst the heavier coolness of the quartz it was wrapped in, and had been following it ever since. He pictured the molten metal cooling in the rivulets in which it had gathered, before Aulë’s hand gathered the earth and folded it upon itself, shaping it into the vast mountains that would secrete his own hope of creation. It had become his mate, his joy and, today, his bane.
This latest pocket of mithril had been pure, but the vein that led to it showed no sign of continuing away once more. The words of his fellow miners echoed still within the small room. “Ah, lad, the deposit had to play out eventually.” And “It was a fine, long lived, bounty. We’ll be toasting her memory for years to come.” The problem was that he still sensed her. She was being coy and it frustrated him beyond words. Had he not been a steadfast lover? Had he not whispered his devotion with each new day? Had he not bathed each gift given in his own sweat as a token of his gratitude?
And then…… he laughed…… a great booming laugh, a laugh that filled the small cavern and built, layer upon layer, into a base beat that was answered in the pulse of the mountain itself. His eyes teared with mirth and as the last echo of sound was absorbed again by the silence he looked at the now empty pocket with a new found respect. He walked to the wall and caressed it. “You have shown your metal, it is only fair I show you mine. Play the coquette; it is a game we will both enjoy.” Smiling, he hefted his pick and waited for the air to carry to him a hint of where he should begin his pursuit.
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