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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7. Chapter Six: The Council Continues

This statement caused an outcry from Zormat, who stood slamming his fist down upon the table with a dull thunk.

“This, a worthy venture?” He spluttered, spittle flying from the corners of his mouth. “It is an outrage, more akin to suicide than a worthy venture, its....”

Dwuli then stood, giving them a withering glare, cutting Zormat of mid sentence. He took his seat in the uncomfortable silence that followed. Tourin then stood; at this even the angry muttering of Zormat subsided. All ears were turned towards him, anxiously anticipating the next words of the Lord of the Black Ranges.

 “It is a noble thought.” He said almost mockingly “However, if when we have spoken I am convinced this venture can, realistically, succeed. Then I will gladly join your venture.” So spoke the Lord of eyries, placing a strong emphasis on the realistically.  There was a pregnant pause before he spoke again his voice dangerously quiet “Any Dwarf amongst us who does not come, and the venture is conceivable, will take no share of any plunder or gold and will earn the undying condemnation or scorn of my house.” Again he paused. “Now Lord Dwuli, will you please explain how this is not a suicidal idea.” Zormat stood but this time Tourin shouted “Sit and listen you fool.” Again Zormat subsided bitterly, muttering and throwing filthy looks at the other kings. Once more Dwuli stood and addressing the assembled nobles began to elaborate upon his plan.

 

“First of all, thank you, Tourin, for this chance to actually explain my plan. The structure itself is simple and the chances for something to go badly few and far between.” He paused letting them consider his words before continuing “The plan is that we muster here.” He explained pointing to a location on the map in front of him, “Then we strike quickly and decisively for this fort. Why this fort, because it is vital to securing our supply lines but also that it is the only defensive fort this side of Voan.” Then the lecture being over he sat and awaited the response of the other Dwarves. Tourin stood with an affirmative smile on his face before saying in a very loud, stern voice.

 

“Well everything seems to be in order; my troops will meet you at the muster in 3 days time.” Having said this, he and his retinue bowed stiffly to the Dwarvish king, who inclined his head solemnly in response. Then Zarian of the white lions also stood and threw in his support although he did not leave quite as quickly, instead he went to stand by Dwuli and glower, his eyes like hot coals, at Zormat. Zormat however had not been swayed, behind his calm if slightly annoyed face, dreams and lust for gold still boiled and he was not willing to risk his hoard or life on a venture that he considered foolish and reckless. So he stood sweeping his cloak around him (attempting to look regal and I might add failing considerably).

 

“I will leave this foolish and reckless venture to you.” He said “and when the battle goes against you and all hope is lost, you will remember my words and despair.” Having said his piece he then turned on his heels and strode swiftly from the hall, his generals apologising profusely for his stubbornness before following suit. Dwuli scowled and slamming his mailed fist into the arm of his throne he leapt up angrily, his cloak flapping around his ankles as he paced angrily about the hall. He remained this way for several minutes, his face set in hard lines.

“That fool! He is putting us all at risk! The more troops we have the safer and more likely to succeed this venture is, and the bastard knows it.”  Zarian stood in front of the king and pleaded with him to remain calm and focused. It took a good half an hour for his rage to calm and once it had he fell into his throne looking utterly exhausted.

“He did it to spite us you know, especially you.” The king stated weakly

“I know my lord, he has never forgiven me for taking the victory at high pass when his men were failing to hold.” Zarians voice was filled with regret. However he then also stood and gesturing to his retinue who had been deep in conversation with Zharon walked slowly from the hall casting a friendly glance back towards Dwuli and winking at Fjolin and Zharon.

 Taking their leave of the king, Zharon and Fjolin walked swiftly from the hall, the doors of the throne room slamming shut behind the as the great mechanism that had opened them was released. The dawn was creeping over the mountain tops, a few fragmented, almost web like strands of light shined through, the great windows that were present on the very top levels of the great citadel, and warming our hero upon the chilly morning as he strode towards the cities summoning tower.

This was the tower that in times of need, the sentries would climb and sound the great horn at the top as well as lighting the beacon: a great pyre of logs and straw soaked in oil. And there he blew the great horn which sounded long and clear resonating throughout the city.

 This was one of the greatest feats of architecture they had achieved in this city because it was so very cunningly designed. The horn came out into what was effectively a great rock pipe running throughout the city, twisting and turning so that even once the sound had travelled past it continued to echo loud and clear, allowing the horn to sound clear and strong throughout the city even after the alarm was sounded.

The city beneath him sprang into life, Dwarves dressing quickly and reaching for their armour and weapons, donning them quickly and making for the assembly point, a large open air square at the heart of the city from which the king could address the entire population with ease. Scientist beneath the earth working on mighty weapons to improve the Dwarves’ arsenal abandoned their projects and rushed from their hidden chambers at the bottom of the city to the great gathering point above them.

There from his high vantage point king Dwuli stared down at the assembled masses, they were chattering incessantly like birds on a lovely spring morning. Dwuli stood up placing his hands upon the balcony railings, leaning slightly over the edge. Breathing in deeply the crisp and clear air of this summer’s morning, then clearing his throat with a quiet cough, he turned to face his audience. He signalled to the drummers behind his back and the drums boomed forth like a death knoll bouncing off the surrounding walls.

 “Citizens, I ask ye for your attention, on a matter of great import. Tomorrow our forces march to a great muster, the day after they strike hard and fast into Orcish territory to destroy these scum once and for all. The objective of our raid is to reclaim our ancient capital, lost to us in the first age and drive whatever evil lurks there from its once proud and mighty halls. He fell silent for a moment as if lost in thought.

Then he spoke “Commander Zurton will command you here whilst I am gone, and be in charge of the cities defence. To aid him in his endeavour he will be commanding a quarter of my army. Good morning.” Turning and striding from the balcony the king left behind him a cacophonous noise as the people discussed the implications of such a plan. Zharon after a while stepped forward.

 “Silence” he bellowed, and a hush fell over the crowds. “Warriors” the lists have been posted and if your name is on them be sure to make all necessary arrangements, we march at first light.” With that he also swept back inside followed quickly by a tired and fairly flustered Fjolin stumbling slightly as he walked , his eyelids dropping with fatigue until at last he fell. Zharon caught him and picking him up gently he carried him, as he had all those years ago.

When he reached Fjolins room he tucked our poor hero into bed and fetching him an extra blanket draped it over him. “Wouldn’t want you catching a chill eh lad” he muttered to himself, he stood for a moment smiling fondly down at Fjolin before walking from the room and closing the door silently behind him.

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