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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16. Chapter Fifteen: Meanwhile At Ziemach

The city of Ziemach was a flurry of activity, everywhere you looked there was something happening. On one corridor you had a blacksmith covered in grime, busy hammering away at his forge, making armour and repairing weapons and shields.  Further along you had a scholar rifling through his books trying to decide which to take and which to leave in the case of a full scale evacuation. On the training grounds the men fought bouts long and hard, sharpening skills. Even the veterans now retired from war were there, shaking the weariness of age from their shoulders as they practiced old skills over and over again. Crossbowmen stood shooting quarrels into barrels with painted targets and dummies, testing their eyes and trying to quicken their reloading times.

 It was not a large force, the veterans bolstered it by some two hundred but even so it numbered a mere thousand men. They were stretched thin as it was, for days people had been flocking in from the surrounding villages as news of the Orcs had spread. Hundreds of them all were fleeing an unseen but terrible menace. No matter how many patrols there were they could not catch the Orcs. They swept in like a wave against a beach flattening all in its path before retreating silent and deadly. That was the situation Commander Zurton found himself in.

He had to find food to feed hundreds of refugees and on top of that the harvest would soon fail with no one to tend the crops, he needed to end the Orc menace but there was nothing he could do. The realm was being slowly pulled apart and even with the veterans joining up again to help, he had nowhere near the amount of forces needed to combat a guerrilla force. Slamming his fist down on the table in frustration Zurton examined his officers and the few scouts they had with them.

 They were a motley lot, the commanders all big, rough looking Dwarves with bulging muscles and massive full beards reaching their waists that any dwarf alive would have been proud to have. The veteran commanders were equally impressive although in this case they tended to have a slight paunch from lack of regular training and scars that would cause an evening of boasting to pass quickly. These were all veterans of over a hundred raids and they were definitely a force to be reckoned with. The scouts on the other hand were small and wiry looking with their beards tucked into their belts, this was of course a matter of necessity because tripping over your beard whilst trying to run would be most unfortunate.

 Gesturing for them to sit he slumped down into his chair wearily, the events of the last few days and a severe lack of sleep were catching up with him fast and he wanted to be done here. The scouts stepped forward and the slightly bigger one began to speak in a gruff voice.

 "The news we bring is not good I’m afraid sir, not good at all.” He paused, waiting for some kind of recognition from the commander, receiving none he carried on, his voice ringing through the hall. “It is not just the Orcs we are fighting as we originally thought. The enemies’ ability to strike in so many places at once comes from a pact they have made with a group of human resistance fighters. During our scout mission we discovered that the dead in some of the villages were killed by men, the bodies not being beheaded and put on pikes. That is not all amongst the dead lay several men cloaked in green with their faces covered. We followed the traces of tracks into the woods and there we saw a large sprawling camp filled with rebels. That is all sir.”Zurton hung his head, tired of business before raising it and snapping out orders to the commanders. Send men to all the remaining villages and get everyone within the walls. We can defend them here and we can’t there. We will have to abandon everything to survive, the harvest and the villages. The people must come first though so get them into the city at all costs. Turning to one of the other captains Zurton said.

“Give me some good news tonight will you, is the new weaponry ready for use yet? The gods know we need it.”

 “I’m afraid not sir, we need more time, maybe a few weeks to finish it.”  Replied the captain warily. 

“Make it a week.” Snapped Zurton. “Then we may yet survive this onslaught until Dwuli returns, if he returns” He finished ominously before standing up and with a gesture of his hand dismissed them all. Zurton walked quickly to his chambers and lying on the bed, tossed and turned willing himself to go to sleep with no success. There was just too much to do. Eventually however sleep took over him and enveloped him like a soft blanket.

He slept peacefully, little did he know that at that moment a horde of Orcs and Goblins marching his way accompanied by a yet greater, nameless evil.

 

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