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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4. Chapter Three: Of Memories and Grief

 Fire raged all about him, scorching the earth and burning at his face as he ran forwards stumbling and tripping for he could not see. Smoke billowed from the hovel windows and roofs obscuring his vision and choking him. He took a deep breath trying to calm his hectic breathing. He spluttered as it caught in his throat causing him to double over spitting up globules of black phlegm.

Fjolin panicked: he could see no one, but he could hear their screams all around him, with the bloodcurdling calls of the Orcs like an eagles shriek, breaking through the air to rip through his courage. His heart was racing in his chest, thudding fast and loud like horses at a gallop.

Some timber above him broke and cracked, splintering everywhere as he dived to avoid the falling beams threatening to crush him. He cursed before getting to his feet and sprinting forwards, he fell slashing open his knee on a jagged rock and his heart practically stopped in his chest, before he ran onwards trying not to breathe in the acrid smoke. In few seconds he stumbled out of the smoke and into the central plaza. He could see everything and he truly wished he could not.

The Orcs were everywhere rampaging through the small wooden huts that the people of this village called home. As he watched he saw his mother sprinting through the wreckage, a large Orc in close pursuit riding upon a fearsome grey nightwolf.  Fjolin watched with wide eyes as the night wolf caught his mother Freya in its jaws snapping her between its teeth and shaking her roughly as she cried out in agony, before tossing her to one side.

The Orc vaulted off the Wolf and readied his sword to deal with some threat he had not yet seen, turning quickly he saw his father Froyold charge across the clearing at the Orc with his sword raised above his head, ready to smash down screaming a bloodcurdling mix of a war cry and grief. The Orc grunted and then moving faster than Fjolin thought possible he dodged the rash attack from Froyold and swinging his sword round in a great arch stunned him.

As he fell to his knees paralyzed and breathless, his eye widened with fear before the death blow was brought down. The jagged blade hissing through the air, as quick as a serpents strike to sever Froyolds head from his shoulders. He slumped to the ground his head rolling towards Fjolin who had to stifle a cry as it landed on his feet. 

Looking back to his mother he saw the wolf ripping her to pieces and devouring the carcass. This time he couldn’t help crying and tears welled in his eyes as he tried to choke back the sobs. The Orc heard him and it was at this moment that Fjolin got his first proper look at the beast. It was huge about 7 foot of muscle covered by rotting cloth and rusted steel armour, its eyes were of a pale yellow not unlike the wolves except for its pupils were slits and finally the fangs protruding from his mouth were huge. 

It growled and Fjolin panicked, he sprinted and ran quickly back into the smoke hoping it would hide him. Then making out the outline of a small fence he ducked between the gate slats and hid behind it trembling too terrified to cry or move. The Orc was prowling he could hear its sniffling and its heavy footsteps.

Curling into a ball to hide, he could see its hulking figure in the smoke, he was so scared that his heartbeat, which to him was as loud as any drum would give him away. He heard the beams above him warp and crack with heat, petrified he tried to crawl away but it was of no use; the building collapse showering him in bits or burnt wood and thatching, he saw no more.

And there, for a while at least, I must continue our tale without him, for the rest of this story must be told from the perspective of a commander Zharon. He led the response force to the village you see, for locating survivors and mopping up what was left of the enemy. Now Zharon was a proud old stick with a very compassionate heart that he would never to anyone show or admit., on with our story though.

For the rest of the Dwarf kingdom it was a lovely afternoon, the sun shining on the meadows and rivers below the foothills. These hills were buzzing with activity, families out for a picnic in the grass and small dwarflings strawberry picking under the watchful and, somewhat stern gazes of their parents.

It was through this that Zharon walked with his company in full armour, towards the plumes of smoke that were smudging the horizon, the only tell tale sign that upon this fine afternoon something was amiss. His company marched quickly and ate up the ground beneath them with great speed arriving at the now destroyed settlement by early evening.

There they surprised the raiding party, who were at that precise moment going about the grisly business of taking heads from bodies and leaving them skewered through on pikes. To serve as a warning or reminder it mattered little to them then. They charged in blinded by rage and roaring their defiance, against the heavily armoured and well trained dwarves the Orcs stood no chance and were cut down in droves. Soon all that remained of the fight were broken or bloodied Orc corpses lying amongst the fallen Dwarves.

Barking a few short orders Zharon and the dwarves began their cleanup operation, some began to dig a large grave for the bodies of the fallen, others salvaged wood to make a pyre, and for the remainder there job was simply to check for survivors and any Goblins or Orcs that might show their faces. That night the grave was filled with the dead and covered with soil, as the Dwarves sang songs to ensure the arrival of the dead in the otherworld.

A massive pyre burnt about 200 metres off consuming the bodies off the enemy as the few Dwarves in charge of it spat curses and vulgarities at them.  In fact it came so very close to our hero never being found and therefore no story, but much too our benefit he was found although by no small degree of luck.

Fjolin began to stir, he could not move and he panicked his heart rising in his chest. For no matter how hard he struggled, the crushing weight on top of him would not lift. His breathing was ragged and irregular due to a beam pressing his chest hard into the soil. It is in this fairly unenviable position that he was found. When Zharon stumbled over the wreckage covering him, which considering the weight of a dwarf in heavy armour makes his survival all the more miraculous.

For as this happened he screamed and his leg bone cracked rather loudly, for the first time where someone could hear him. Now Zharon was quite confused for a second as to where the scream had come from, until he spied a foot poking out from under the wreckage. Now being the practical chap he was, Zharon began to shift the wreckage bellowing for and I quote. ‘The lazy layabouts to give him a hand’. Somewhat flustered the dwarves sprinted across and upon seeing the situation got the wreckage shifted in no time, a good job too for I am not sure our hero would have lasted much longer.

He had already passed out from the leg breakage he had sustained when Zharon fell on him and the multiple cuts and bruises he had sustained from scrambling about before. As a result the company upon seeing the state of him set off at once for Ziemach and did not break pace until they arrived.

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