Children of the Mountain (Chapter 1)

The Elves have fallen and the race of men annihilated. The Dwarves must now make their final stand - alone, the last of Dunya's protectors.


1. Death



The pungent smell of death and the metallic stench of blood rose in the air as they approached the settlement. They had been slaughtered in there thousands; and here was no different. Hundreds lay dead, sending a rotting odour of decay throughout the desolate village. Corpses lined the streets in-between smouldering piles of ash and the chard remains of their houses. Faces masks of placid death or silent torture, their bodies burnt and mutilated. The utter obliteration of a single species. Mountainous piles of rotting decay which had once formed a village, a town, a city, a country, a world, were now strewn across land. The black abyss had taken them all. 


Syndalyn reigned in his mount at the centre of the village. He had completed his task. Death had greeted the villages and cities with open arms. The last of the elves had fallen. Syndalyn knew that Arkilys would now turn his gaze to other fields, to the north, to the rising mountains, which stood tall and defiant. Wind Peak, Hoarfrost, Blackdown, Mount Ungor, all piercing the clouds, standing up against the Utherai, pointing to the Dwindling sun. A sigil of hope.  He himself however turned south, thinking of his homeland, his view sweeping over the desolate landscape and beyond.


They had come from the deep south, the children of Utheras, - God of Evil, Death and Punishment - from over the sea, sweeping over the vast grasslands they had come, killing and burning as they came, laying destruction to the Human settlements and Elvish lands. But now all the cities of the Humans and lands of the Elves had fallen to the power of Utheras. And now only a few members of either race remained, in hiding. However there remained still one threat. Hidden inside their mountain strongholds, the Dwarves had survived the invasion from the south. A siege on their kind would have taken hundreds of years, thousands of troops and unlimited resources and so they had been neglected. But soon, they would feel the wrath of Utheras. 


Syndalyn peeled his gaze away from the plains of Gorgadaroth. He looked at his troop. 100 spears. An elite battalion of Utherai… But he knew in his heart, that there were too little of them. Against the might of the Dwarves, could they achieve victory? 

"Arymas, gather the battalion. We leave for Arkilys and Dul Argulin at nightfall. " His pupil nodded silently and left, melting into the encroaching darkness and he returned to his thoughts once more. 


A sudden click caught the attention of his sharp ears and he spun around and out of his saddle in a fluid motion, just as the bolt thudded into the tree directly behind where he had been sitting a second before. He cursed. Drawing his swords as a crossbow bolt  thudded into his chest knocking him backwards. A second followed swiftly felling him. He gasped for breath. Blood trickled out through his mouth and onto the black mud below him. He stared at pool of dark iridescent liquid as the metallic taste of blood filled his mouth and overwhelmed him. He bent over on his knees in agony. Being forced to kneel before his death. A shadow fell over him. He strained his head upwards in an attempt to see his death. A short, stout figure looked down on him; his Brown eyes promising death. Crossbow at hip and Axe raised the Dwarf took a step towards him and with a jerk the Axe fell down and thudded home, splitting his skull and causing instant death. Blood and white liquid oozed from the fatality, pouring onto the ground in a puddle around what had once been Syndalyn. The Dwarf levered the embedded Axe out from his victims head. He had work to do. 


Beorndalin son of Bodalen turned quickly from his victim. He slung his axe over his back and into its hold and grabbed for his crossbow. The last thing he wanted was a battalion of highly trained soldiers fighting in formation against himself and his party of two. Berodeon son of Berydun himself and Vrangr son of Vrengr. They would have to be careful, so as to take their target unawares. 

"What's the plan then Beorndalin?" Bodalen smiled a mad glint in his eyes. 

"I take out the guards with this" Berondalin tapped his crossbow, "and you two rush in and swoop the camp, then," He shrugged his shoulder,  "we improvise." He smiled. 


It would work, it had to work, Beorndalin thought has they trudged through the thick mud towards the enemy encampment, East Hammerhad depended on it. The Dwarven stronghold would not last too long if it came to open warfare. Built in the iron mountains the fortress was foreboding enough, without the natural chasms and ravines an army would have to deal with first in order to reach the impressive structure. But the Dwarves there were too few. Sickness had past and plague had taken many hundreds of Dwarven lives. 


Vrangr patted him on the back, "It'll be alright, you'll see" grinned the Dwarf. Noting his companions downcast expression. 

"You ready yet," called Bodalen, "I'm dying for the fray!" 

Beorndalin nodded and the small company of Dwarves advanced from the east towards their adversary. "Let's go get some." He grinned grasping his crossbow.    





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