The Grief of Ziemach

War is brewing, the fates of four great kingdoms teeter on the edge of destruction. Zeitun the majestic mountain fortresses of the Dwarves, Lithae the beautiful forest home of the Elves, Morok the home of the once mighty Horse lords, and Bracocia the home of the Orcs and a terrible, slumbering evil. The fragile peace seems destined to fail, for the past few years Orcs have been raiding the borders of Zietun burning and pillaging.
There is perhaps one who can stave of this mighty evil, in the most unexpected of places. Fjolin a young dwarvish warrior is about to be thrown on a deadly adventure through barren wastelands, towering cities and dangerous plots

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9. Chapter Eight: A Worthy Venture

The horns sounded their sombre notes hovering in the air before vanishing leaving silence in their wake. The columns began to file out, the sound of their boots carrying long and far on the wind. Small parties of scouts rode on small ponies up, down and around the army many times, searching for enemy or other things. Every once in a while they would have news of people further down the column and were as a rule happy to share what they knew. Marching songs were song and the mood was light despite the fact that everyone knew some of them would not be coming back.

 Fjolins head was in whirl, for the first time ever he was going to war. For the first time he was scared he wouldn't be coming back and that the mission would fail. He was so scared. Steeling his nerves he smiled and song along to the song they were singing, it was a rather crude ode about a barmaid and a dwarf. Do I have to say more? The miles stretched long, there was still no sign of the muster point on the horizon and after so many hours of marching and singing his throat hurts and his feet throbbed from the many hours of walking over hard stone roads.

There was no respite however and the marching continued for many, many hours until the sun began to set and shadows lay long and streaked across the ground. The many Dwarvish banners flapped proudly in the wind displaying the designs upon them.

Night fell quickly at this time of year and seeing the dusk, a stop was ordered and a frenzied unpacking of tents began. Being an efficient race the dwarves soon had the job done and set about lighting fires and preparing food. There was however no joy in the camp as they were beginning to miss loved ones and friends back home.

The food was good and there was plenty of it, soon Fjolin was full, but he didn't want company he went into his tent and lay down. In terms of outward opinion he looked calm but inside of him a storm was raging, his emotions whirring around in his head. He was so confused. Soon however he could take being alone no longer and went to wander the camps.

It didn't take him long to find Zharon’s tent, he stood outside quietly for a moment, before pulling back the tent flap and entering. Zharon was inside smoking on his pipe and reading a book on his bedroll, a flask of ale sat by him on a small trestle. Looking up from his book at the rustle of the tent flaps he gestured for Fjolin to sit. He did so gladly, for a few minutes none of them said anything, there was no need for words.

Closing his book with a soft thud, he rested it on his lap and turned to Fjolin.

"Come now, there’s no need for fear lad." he said gently, his voice filled with concern. "We'll be fine, we always are."

Fjolin couldn't cope and he began to cry, he was so worried, so scared that one of them wasn't coming back. Scared of being alone. There were no words that could help and Zharon knew it; he had been just the same some sixty years ago on his first campaign.

His father though had shunned his fear, ignoring it. He had been so scared, so bitter. He was not about to abandon Fjolin like that however he simply sat there quietly waiting for the tears to stop of thier own accord, hugging Fjolin as sobs racked his body.

Once the tears subsided there was silence for a while before with a watery grin Fjolin stood and said "Thanks dad, I’m sorry I couldn't cope, I guess I’m just not ready yet."

"Nonsense, of course you are ready." Exclaimed Zharon. "You wouldn't be in charge of a company if you were not, would you now. Everyone gets scared on their first campaign, you never know who you might lose or how people will change after a battle.

After all its only natural to feel overwhelmed, so much has happened in the last few days alone."He paused looking thoughtful. "Now you listen here" he continued "I get worried and scared every time I go on campaign, that doesn't make me an unworthy commander. It just means that I am like everyone else."

Fjolins heart swelled at his words and stood tall for a moment proud not to be considered a failure, to be thought of as worthy by those closest to him. He grinned, standing there in the doorway until Zharon gave him a gentle push, his deep laugh filling the tent as he sent Fjolin back to be with the words "Now off with ye lad, go get some shuteye with the rest."

Fjolin felt easier now and again his mind turned to the heroics he would do, a small spring entered his step and he was back in his tent in no time. Zharon stood for a while, watching him disappear back into his tent. "Aye he’s ready." he muttered to himself before pulling the covers over him and sleeping. A nearby candle waned slowly by the bed spluttering slightly as the flame was extinguished in the wax.

Then as the pale morning sun rose, above the hills, the valley was full of activity, fires were being doused, there smoke rising into the morning air like a pale mist. Tents were being packed away and the Dwarves were rearming for that days march. The breaking of the camp took almost an hour and by that point the sun was beating down on them, the waves of heat rolling in, it was glorious. It did however make marching rather difficult as he had to wipe sweat from his eyes every few minutes.

Mercifully that day

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