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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2. Chapter One: The Power of Revenge

So it came to pass that upon one frosty winters evening on the three hundred and fourth year of the third age, that Fjolin, a young Dwarf warrior was out with a small band of warriors on his proving raid. Now I have said but a little about Dwarf customs so allow me to fill you in on some of the details.

A Dwarf is only consider to be grown to dwarfhood upon their twenty second birthday, and when they have stood in at least one skirmish with the enemy that all Dwarves hate, for the damage done to their settlements during the final years of the second age.

Orcs, these foul creatures they hated above all others including man for that was not the first time that the Orcs had tried to destroy the Dwarves. Oh no, at the very end of the first age. This tale I will try to keep fairly brief, for it is long and concerns many matters that are of no import to this part of our story.

There was once a great Dwarvish castle that stood at the heart of a great wasteland, this was as legend would have it the greatest feat of Dwarvish construction ever completed, and therefore I must conclude with all certainty that is was magnificent.

This was the fabled city of Voan and the heart of Dwarvish civilisation upon this land. From there they built hundreds and thousands of tunnels and forts, extending all the way and even controlling what we now know as the Forbidden Mountains.

Their wealth was unparalleled and they prospered growing strong. Now although they were mighty they were not the only power that had grown, for beyond the mighty ranges of the Forbidden Mountains there is said to be a great sea, and it is from that sea that a great evil came unto the land. The Orcs led by their leader Amogz the Terrible, landed and scaled the mountains swiftly seizing the forts there one by one, and infesting all in their path.

So at that time a great council was called and it was decided to abandon the border forts, close off the mountains to all by law and that was how they got their name, the Forbidden Mountains. Anyhow after this, Amogz became supreme ruler of the mountains.

But soon this was not enough, with his force expanding due to the Chieftains coming across the water in search of plunder and land. For a time there was peace and the Dwarves watched the mountains suspiciously, always watching and waiting, never forgetting.

Until the final year of the first age, now at this time the Dwarves began to see signs of activity from the mountains, horns and wolves could be heard in the night, then without much warning they came like a flood, thousands of them sweeping down from the mountains.

The Dwarves of Voan fought a desperate defence, slaying hundreds before finally being overwhelmed and driven back to the gates of Voan itself, there was fought the bitterest battle of the age. For a while it looked as if the Dwarves might hold until the giants arrived, and were unleashed at the gates.

Frenzied by herbs and the sting of many arrows and stones they flung themselves at it mightily for two nights, before with an earth shattering thud they fell and the goblins and Orcs swarmed into the beautiful halls. Defiling tapestries and homes taking all beauty and turning it to darkness. So fell Voan, the greatest of all the Dwarven holds and too this day the descendents of Amogz rule there, threatening still to once again rise and sweep the descendants of all other peoples from the land.

 Anyhow that is not the full legend, neither was it told with all of the artistic embellishment it deserves. But that is a story for another time, and now we must return to our hero, who is at this moment in time trudging at a reasonable pace towards a small village some twenty leagues away, with a party of his kin. They numbered ten in all, and their objective was to conduct a small raid on an Orc settlement just a league or two over the border from Morok in Bracocia.

Now, our hero is not all heroic looking, to be quite frank in fact he is someone you wouldn’t really notice in a crowd. He is of normal height for a dwarf being four foot and 6 inches, having twinkly blue eyes and a big bushy brown beard with long hair. Nor was his apparel out of keeping with that of his comrades, strong armour of steel plate covered his torso, with chainmail coming down the arms to his wrists and strong greaves inlaid with silver patterns.

As with his cuirass which had depicted upon it the beautiful diving falcon that was the symbol of Zeimach. His weapons were a double forged sword and a multi layered dwarvish shield, bearing upon it the same insignia as was on the cuirass. They marched for several more hours singing great songs of many battles gone by, no one talking of the dangers they were about to face. For the Orcs were still deadly foes, strong brutes with giant fangs. Some were almost twice the size of the dwarves although those were few and far between.

That night they made camp and in the nature of dwarves were soon good naturedly joking and insulting the others, wolfing down rations like there was no tomorrow. Darkness fell over the encampment, a still, warm night as were so many near to this barren wasteland, broken only by the cry of night owls and the movement of small animals in the brush below.

The night passed uneventfully for Fjolin, his watch came, and went peacefully with naught to keep him company but the moaning wind and snoring of the other Dwarves. The next day they continued along the path towards the border with nothing remarkable, anywhere in sight, just a barren wasteland everywhere he looked.

Some hours later they came across a ruined settlement, the doors had been smashed in and blood was stained everywhere. Heads on crude spears were displayed prominently on the plaza square, giving off a foul stench and attracting so many flies that the air was filled with what looked like small, swiftly moving clouds buzzing around the corpses.

The Dwarves passed swiftly on not wishing to stay in such a place longer than necessary. Before long they found themselves on the border of Bracocia, an even sparser wasteland than the one before. The ground being dry earth, cracked in many places, after what is known by the Dwarves as the burning. But alas that is a tale for another time and place.

Not far beyond the border lay the village, and so in full kit and weapons ready the dwarves marched in complete silence towards their destination. As they reached the village, the company commander, a grizzled looking veteran of many battles, gestured towards the few archers they had brought with them, who grasping arrows from their quiver took them and fitted them to the string. These were no ordinary arrows however, these were the blasting arrows of the Dwarves which only they know how to make, and if they do say so themselves, the effect is rather stunning.

The bowman then turned and loosed their arrows at the barricade. They flew fast and true thudding into the gates, there was a moments silence followed by a mighty eruption of flame as the barricade fell to the earth, smoke billowing from the wreckage. Then the Dwarves charged through the smoke, shields lock in four, five man ranks.

Through the gap and into the village beyond to be met by small groups of orcs wielding jagged axes and crude shields. Ducking under an axe swing, Fjolin lashed out his sword piercing the skin of an Orc before quickly turning and slashing again, this time at its throat. It fell to the ground, black blood pooling from his half severed throat.

Around him he saw that his comrades were faring in similar ways with the orcs falling left, right and centre. The slaughter that the Dwarves where causing was wanton and they relished in it, as some of their ancient foe fell beneath their blades to die choking and sputtering on the ground. Soon the killing work was done and the dwarves set about destroying the buildings around them, burning everything before marching back to the border, and beginning the long trek to Ziemach.

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