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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8. Chapter Seven: The Mustering of Armies

It was early morning when our hero awoke, slightly bewildered as to how he had got there.  The small candle had almost flickered put but it did not matter as the grey streaks of dawn’s sunshine were filtering through the light shaft, peeking their way out to make spots upon the far wall. Leaning slightly over his bed, his hand groped along the wall for the small tug cord. Finding it he tugged, causing the bronze shutter on the shaft to open, light streamed in, bathing all with its warm glow.

Fjolin sat quietly for a moment pondering quietly, then standing he began removing his armour. The poor lad spent the next few moments fumbling with buckles and straps, in his drowsy state. After a few minutes he was out of his armour and feeling dizzy, staggering slightly as he moved, his body having become so accustomed to the heavy armour he had been wearing. Sighing slightly he looked at the etching of his parents again. However turning his mind to the task as hand, he took a cloth from the top shelf of his walk in and began to polish. He was at it for several minutes and once he had done his armour had gone from a dull grey, to a beautiful silvery grey, the image of the falcon sparkling in the sunlight.

 Hearing a knock at the door he turned. Getting up and opening the door he found a courier standing there beaming at him from the other side of his gigantic moustache. in his arms he was carrying something wrapped in soft red silk.  He handed it to Fjolin with a wink before turning on his heels and walking slowly away. Fjolin shouted after him

"Wait" and seeing the other Dwarf turn he called "Who is it from?"

 "Why that’s from the king himself laddie. Anyways must be off". With this he walked away down the long corridor leaving our poor friend quite bewildered. Going back into his room he stood for a second before laying out the bundle on the small wooden table. Folding back the silk, he saw three things; first of all that the silk wrapping was in fact a cloak. Double layered and having the falcon sown in gold onto the left side, directly above his heart.

The second thing he saw was a new helmet, similar to that of the royal guard, with a blue padded felt lining and a beautiful diving falcon upon the top, talons extended and beak open, as if screeching its victory. The third was also truly breathtaking it was a beautiful sword, wrought of steel and iron. Folded many times and if you looked at it for a moment in the sunlight it appeared to ripple like water.

 Laying the blade down he picked up the cloak and fastening it around his shoulders with the great silver falcon shaped buckle. He turned admiring the way it trailed and swirled in his wake, as he spun he heard something fall to the ground. Stopping he bent over to see what it was and saw a single small piece of paper. Breaking its small wax seal he opened it and began to read.

 'I thought you might appreciate a few symbols of your new rank, shield is in the making sadly it wasn't quite ready. Shall have Zharon bring it to you shortly, we march in an hour. Be ready.

Dwuli.'

 Fjolins heart swelled with pride and he re read the note several times, realising time was wasting our hero became rather flustered and forgetting he had already done it he re-polished his armour. Then quickly putting it on he re-fastened the cloak, combing his hair and beard he quickly tied his hair back behind his shoulders as was required. Otherwise his helmet would never fit on his head. He pulled the helmet on and undid the string holding his hair back. It tumbled down his shoulders and back before settling over the cloak. With this he grabbed his scabbard and buckled it around his waist tucking the spare into the belt again to get it out of his way.

 Sheathing his sword he took a moment to examine himself in the mirror. As he was doing so he heard a loud knock, and the door whisper as it began to swing inwards. Slightly embarrassed he turned quickly towards the door adopting a normal stance. To his relief it was Zharon who entered the room carrying a beautiful shield. Upon it lay a symbol he did not recognise, a Great falcon wrestling with a Wolf, and oh it was stunning. The wolf was made of jet and was a black as the darkest night its eye carved from a blood red ruby giving it a somewhat sinister appearance the falcon of diamonds glittering like stars as you looked with its eye carved from a deep green emerald.

 Taking it he fitted it to his arm feeling the balance it was perfect.

"I wasn't expecting something so grand." Fjolin exclaimed.

Zharon chuckled. "The king had it commissioned for you lad, of course it was going to be grand"

Fjolin paused before laughing at his foolishness. "The design." He said, "I do not recognise it"

"That lad is your symbol, your coat of arms; I had it designed for you." Zharon replied a smile tugging at his lips.

 Poor  Zharon was almost knocked flat as Fjolin pulled him into a tight embrace. A smile plastered on his face from ear to ear.

"Don't thank me yet lad, we have to dash, the march begins in about twenty minutes." Was the gruff response, Fjolin clung to him for a second longer before releasing him and grabbing his pack from the floor. Winking at him Zharon snatched it and began to go through the contents checking items of I his head muttering the names of items all the while.

Fjolin smiled happily Zharon had always done this, back from when he was a raw recruit of on his first overnight patrol. It was comforting and put his mind at rest from his constant fretting about what he might have forgotten. Turning towards him Zharon nodded content that all was in order and taking Fjolin by the arm led him to the muster point.

 They strode in a comfortable silence towards the muster point, through many winding and turning passages, up down many flights of stairs until at last they reached the cavernous entrance hall. It was there under the fierce gaze of many great heroes that they stopped and spoke briefly for a moment. Conversing in whispers, meaning that sadly what was said I cannot tell you, for I know not. Only that it resulted in Zharon embracing our hero and then taking our heroes pack and leaving the entrance hall through the great double doors that led to the foothills.

Fjolin stood there for a moment his gaze wondering around the hall, he was quite alone turning his gaze upwards for the first time he turned and looked towards effigies and tapestries of great warriors from ages past and meeting their gaze simply said "I will not fail you ".  Then bowing low, he too strode out of the entrance hall and into the tunnel that led out from the gates to the foothills.

 He walked quickly and it was but a moment later when he stepped out over the threshold and into the hills beyond. Suddenly sad, he turned his face one last time to his city, before saying a silent farewell and walking swiftly on. Now the Muster point was simply a great field on which three quarters of Ziemach’s army was now assembled, standing silently rank upon rank of silent warriors their spear tips glinting as the rays of sunlight danced over them slowly.

Fjolin took a moment to admire this invincible lookking force asking himself how the defeat of such a force was possible. Seeing his company he walked slowly towards them noticing that now instead of numbering 16 it now numbered 30. Casting a somewhat quizzical eye over them, he noticed Korun his second striding towards him, he gave quick salute before standing smartly to attention.

 Fjolin returned his salute with a nod of his head and gestured for Korun, who obviously wanted to say something, to do so.

"There are a few matters which require your attention sir, first of all these chappies had their proving last night and were told they were to join your regiment.  Secondly I was given this and told you were to chose a banner carrier and finally sir." He said pausing for a moment "It’s an honour to serve with you sir." he said formally extending his hand towards Fjolin.

Fjolin shook his hand gladly and then proceeded to march up and down the ranks, checking equipment and asking names. Finishing this he then selected a tall dwarf from the group new to the regiment to carry the banner, a responsibility which judging by his smile he was honoured to have been given.

 Seeing the king step into his chariot on top of a nearby hill, the sun rising above his head Fjolin was proud and happy to be alive.

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