I was loyal. Even after Gormr betrayed us, I was loyal. They were my people, and I'd have sooner cut off my own beard than turn on them.

But then we found the wee Hobbit-lass, and... well, things got complicated.

There were those among us who would have put her to death. A mere infant! For all I've done, all the death that I've dealt, I didn't have it in me to allow that.

And so we kept her. I kept her. Our camp at Pinglade was no place for a child, but I did my best to make it so. She grew with us, learned from us, gleefully violent as she waged war with the toads and slugs. Over time even the nay-sayers grew fond of her - though none so fond as I.

Then the warriors came, the guardians and champions, one by one, invading our lair, slaying our people, until at last I had no choice but to admit there was no place in our midst for a child. Best she be safe - as safe as any could be in our troubled world.

Under cover of darkness, I took her to the hobbit cross-roads, knowing that the waggon-dwellers there would care for her, and held her one last time as she wept into my beard.

We fought to defend Pinglade, but in the end it did no good. The constant onslaught wore us down, and I... I was grieving the loss of my wee lass, and I was weary and thus careless. I expected to be slain - aye, I might have welcomed it. Instead, I was captured, and taken back to Thorin's Hall for judgment.

It was Gimli, son of Gloin, who spoke for me - Gimli, remembering the good turn I'd done for him so long ago at Silver Deep. Lord Dwalin, too, recalled my deeds, and offered me amnesty... on the condition that I renounce my own kind, and pledge my loyalty to him. A generous offer - still, I might have refused it, were it not for the memory of a bright-eyed hobbit smile.

Ah, how bright was the day when we met again! Grown now, my wee Slug-stomper, and fiercer than ever; proof that my choices were rightly made.

And that is my tale. Now, about that ale you were buying...?

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