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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13. Chapter twelve: A Twist of Fate

Zharon was woken by the Orcs horns, and a thundering sound. Then dashing to the tent flap he looked out, and saw a massive dust cloud descending from the slopes. The drums beat out the alarm and there was a great clamour as the Dwarves rushed to prepare for the onslaught. Running back into his tent, Zharon grabbed his doublet and yanked it on, belting it with a savage tug.

 Then grabbing his cuirass he pulled it on and quickly did all of the straps and buckles. Strapping on his greaves and bracer he then grabbed his weapons and shield, sheathing the sword, he picked up his spear before darting out his tent and sprinting towards his companies’ tents some twenty feet away. Most of them were already prepared just as he was their faces grim as they stood ready, awaiting orders.

 Zharon pulled up short when he saw his company and did a quick head count of who was there, there was one missing but he soon stumbled out of his tent, tripping over the guy ropes.  Zharon cursed, angry with his incompetence. Particularly now when every second was crucial to their survival, he gave the unlucky dwarf a withering glare before turning back to his company.

 “On me lads, rally to the king.” He bellowed his voice carrying over the growing din of Gants roaring and Orcs shrieking, mixed with the cries of dying dwarves. Turning they rank in formation, all sixty of them. They dared not break ranks.  Seeing the king, Zharon and his company raced towards him as members of the King’s bodyguard began to fall. They were fighting bravely unrecognisable beneath layers of congealing blood on top of a pile of Orc corpses alongside their king. The royal banner flying proud and defiant inside the defensive ring, a rally point for all the dwarves, still the Orcs came like a never ending sea.

 Upon reaching the king, Zharon inwardly groaned as he saw just how isolated the position was.  He was jogged from thought as an Orc charged him, calmly dodging the swing he tripped the Orc and brought his spear point down on the back of its neck. Slicing muscle and bone at the same time, he felt warm blood splatter his face. Turning swiftly he blocked another incoming swing and thrust his spear deep into its bowels causing it to grunt in pain, before yanking his spear out and thrusting again this time to its throat.

 This time he took a step back to join the hastily forming phalanx behind him. Locking shields with the dwarf to the left of him and holding his spear much closer to the blade. It would be brutal close quarters work from here on out, and he knew it. Fear gripped him as he saw the great Orcs swinging in for the kill, three of them, all twice the size or larger than the dwarves. Supplemented by never ending waves of goblins, the dwarves were forced to scatter slightly from their wall and charge the great Orcs, for if these Orcs had been allowed to reached the wall they would have destroyed the static defence with ease such was their size.

Ducking under one of the mighty club swings from the Orcs, Zharon’s spear flickered out slicing a part of its hamstring stinging it as a wasp might sting bear. It roared angrily, spittle flying from its blood stained fangs.  The creature swung his great club once more in a large arc, smashing into the unlucky dwarves that could not avoid it.

 Zharon ducked feeling the club fly through the air just inches above him before charging it head on his spear darting in and out causing flesh wounds to open all over its body enraging it. Its eyes turned red and the beast began to run rampant swinging its arms like flails around it indiscriminately slaying goblin and dwarf alike. Zharon waited for his chance and as the beast lumbered past him he swiftly prayed, and then kissing his spear he drew it back and threw it with a thunderous roar impaling it through its throat.

It fell, crashing to the ground and snapping the spear haft like a twig beneath a boot, writhing in agony as the blood poured from its throat causing it to gurgle and spit globules of blood from the corner of its mouth. Zharon grimaced at the sight before wheeling round to deal with the other creatures. Pain seared through his arm as he got caught by a sword strike that sliced through his chainmail leaving it flapping open like the skin underneath. He cried out and the Orcs turned towards him like sharks scenting blood in the water.

 Ignoring the pain Zharon struggled on and continued to hack and cut at his foes, seeing their faces go slack from snarls as they were slain, their blood trickling down to mingle with the mud beneath their corpses, soon he was isolated with just a few members of his company fighting with him behind the natural barricade of the bodies. Arrows began to fly and Zharon had to hide beneath the body of the Orc he had just slain, grunting as the impact of the arrows thudded through the Orc in front of him.

 Taking steps back he grunted looking around briefly for Dwuli amongst the carnage, he saw him and time seemed to freeze and moved more slowly. For Dwuli was standing beneath his banner, covered in gore, his beard dyed crimson, dripping with blood. Zharon watched as a giant Orc dressed all in solid plate armour of black, his fangs jutting out from his helmet, leapt from a gigantic wolf to land on his feet in front of the king. Sprinting towards him Zharon slammed Orcs out of the way, grunting incoherently as the Orcs smacked in to his shield, jarring his arm, but he did not stop.

 He continued to run as he watched Dwuli duck under the Orcs swing and lash out with his blade but it hits the Orcs shield and was turned away. Again Laguti attacked, his sword shattering upon the falcon crest of Dwuli’s shield. Dwuli roared his victory but too soon. Laguti drew a vicious looking dagger from his belt and smashed his shield forward with great force and despite all of his strength Dwuli could not stop it. It smashed into him sending him flying into the banner pole which shattered. The great falcon fell gently in the breeze, falling majestically as it unfurled one last time before being trampled into the mud.

 Zharon tried to speed up but it felt as though he were wading through treacle, he despaired as he watched the great banner fall and the great Orc trampling it into the ground, as it marched strongly towards Dwuli who lay stunned and broken on the ground his face mashed and crumpled. The Orc kneeled and put the dagger to Dwulis throat, then with drawing it, for a second the Orc watched Dwuli struggled to breath. Before leaning forward and tearing his throat out with his teeth, staining his fangs with blood which ran like small rivers down his face, spitting out the Dwarf kings throat he then yanked at his head and for a second he lifted the whole body but with a great tearing noise the body fell to the ground headless, next to the royal banner. Zharon roared with grief, his shout rising far louder than the clamour of the battle.

 Snapping back to reality Zharon saw the battle going poorly everywhere, there were simply too many. More and more Orcs swarmed in from the hills surrounding the few pockets of resistance that were left.  

“With me.” He shouted to the few Dwarves that were still with him,  They ran on filled with rage towards where the king had died only to see that Laguti had gone and the small hillock of corpses was standing empty almost as if cursed. Sprinting to the top of it Zharon fell to his knees before the corpse of his king tears streaming down his face, creased with grief.  He stood and thumping his fist to his chest saluted the corpse before snatching up the shattered banner from the ground and raising it up again as symbol of his last defiance.

 One more time he charged, smashing down the hill with his men, a steel ball of death screaming in anguish and hatred towards the Orcs. They did not stop as they crashed through the lines driving a wedge through the Orcs smashing deep into their lines. But the charge lost momentum and they slowed as they got further and further into the enemy until at last they were forced to a stop surrounded and hemmed in on all sides by Orcs slamming the banner into the ground he planted it into the mud and whipped around raising his sword and shield bracing himself for the fight to come.

 The fight came, and it was bitter Orcs falling all around him, Dwarves fell too dying around him to fall at the foot of their great banner. Zharon fought on harshly cutting down all around him ruthlessly. But it was hopeless and soon there were but a handful of the dwarves left, all others lying dead or broken on the ground. At the last second however Zarian burst through the lines in his shimmering white and silver armour with a small battalion of dwarves who stood with the dwindling number and fought with them back to the fort. The banner still flew rallying all dwarves to it as they fought slowly but surely back to the fort.

 

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