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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3. Chapter Two: Of Homecomings

The trek back to Ziemach was largely uneventful, but long as they trudged back over many weary leagues of broken roads. In fact the only thing that can really be said to have happened was as they passed a small collection of hovels near the border of Morok and Zietun. There a small group of starved looking children ran up to them, clothed in rags, if one could call that clothing.

Their faces were dirty and their hair matted, they wore no shoes. All in all they were a pitiful sight that moved even the heart of the Dwarves commander Zharon, to the point where he threw them rations from his own pack, before shooing them back to parents who stood wide eyed with fear watching the dwarves pass by.

It was only three days’ hard march through jagged landscape and the foothills to reach Ziemach, well I say only; such a trek for any other race over so short a time would likely have killed them. But these are Dwarves and Dwarves are a hardy and resilient race capable of marching swiftly over great distances, even whilst carrying heavy packs on their backs and when in full armour.

Thus it came to pass that they reached the great gate of Ziemach, and oh it was magnificent, no words can truly describe its great beauty, for beautiful it truly was. A towering construction built into the mountain itself, with great statues of dwarf princes and warriors etched in to the rocks, each looking out on to the foothills with a stern piercing stare.

In between these, banners of dark blue prominently displayed the silver falcon as they flapped in the early morning breeze. Beyond this the entirety of the vast tunnel like corridor that led you in, towards the gate beneath the mountain was covered in dwarvish history, many a heroic tale bedecked that great entrance hall.

But I shall not tell them now for they really are wondrous tales that deserve one’s full attention and embellishment. I shall for now suffice it to say that it really was a masterpiece, a tapestry within the rock that would stand in all its glory to greet any visitors to this dwarven city.

Inside, the city was no less stunning and I shall try now to give it the proper description it deserves. Inside in the entrance hall were many tapestries that filled large areas of space. I am not really talking your ordinary tapestries either, the ones I am describing were made by the elves on the banks of fair Liteun in ages past, next to flowing rivers and beneath the open sky by the skilled weavers of the Elven people using dyes and colours that only the Elves can make, and are famed throughout the three provinces.

Upon each of these was depicted the face of the great heroes of the Dwarves of the first age from the defence and fall of Voan.  No matter how often Fjolin would enter that hall he would never stop feeling small or insignificant under the stern gazes of his ancestors. Around the bottom of the black stone walls of the mountains, the Dwarves had drawn intricate designs in gold and silver.

Further adding to the entrance hall, subtly but in a way that served to enhance its wonder.  Inside these halls as Fjolin and his company marched through the entrance towards the throne room, Dwarflings were playing and running around, giggling full of laughter and cheer, on the sides of the halls stood many guards in full ceremonial regalia, which consisted at this time of a long navy blue cloak over armour forged from pure silver, into which the craftsmen had cunningly etched a falcon upon its breast. They had then filled this etching with gold before smoothing the cooling gold to the same height as the armour, without scratching it or denting the finish.

Finally they had a mighty helm also of silver but with a soft blue velvet lining, and a great peregrine falcon in mid dive on the top. In such regalia they stood as silent as the grave and almost as motionless as a the rock its self apart from the eyes, Which where darting too and throw drinking in the surroundings like hawks.

In such manner Fjolin and his company and commander arrived at the throne room, and there knelt before the giant throne in which was seated the proud king of all the Dwarves. This was King Dwuli the Vanquisher and he commanded respect from all, through his bearing and appearance. He almost exuded presence and power to those around him. It was at that moment upon meeting the king for the first time that Fjolin knew that he was truly a king worth following, and by all accounts he was a good king.

Fair and just to his subjects but ruthless to the fools who sought to harm those within his borders. He was as such feared in the Orc community for the terrifying raids he himself had led many times into their territory and so earning himself his afore mentioned title.

The surroundings also truly befitted him for the hall, though not overly vast, was tall and great pillars lined it, rising high like spires to the ceiling above. Great braziers hung from these pillars, filling the room with a warm sort of light that flickered, making shadows shift and change, below these were the same banners and more guards armed in like manner to the one I described before.

The king began to speak and I shall not bore you with the details of that conversation, because there are only one or two bits of relative import to us and the rest is the kind of talk that one expects from a noble dwarf of such great stature. In other words a very longwinded hello followed by a roundabout and long winded explanation that would; unless you are versed in the arts of picking out the good bits, would send you to sleep, as sure as staying awake to wait for stone to move would.

However the gist of it was that the king was well pleased with the company for their successful raid, also and most importantly to us that the final part of Fjolins proving would take place that night, on the Plateau of Kings at the very tip top of the mountain. After the king had finished he thudded his great halberd to the floor twice, and in rushed a servant out of breath and running so fast that he almost fell over his beard.  

The king laughed at the sight for a second in a jolly manner, before instructing him that the company needed a proper meal and that they were to prepare it at once. Then turning back unto the company and dismissed them with a wave of his hands and a smile.

 Upon returning to his room within the barracks Fjolin found a meal waiting for him. Roast boar with carrots, potato and parsnip (dwarves always have had a great liking for parsnips although it is beyond me as to why) with gravy liberally poured over it all.

To Fjolin who had just had to endure a three hundred league trek on rations, the meal looked and smelt wonderful. He wolfed it down taking large swigs of mead from his tankard as he did. Then in great satisfaction he lay down upon his small bed and gazed at the etching he had made of his parents long ago, when he had first come to Ziemach and as he gazed, tears filled his eyes glistening in the light of the fire.

He closed them furiously trying not to remember, but like a shadow the memory crept in and his mind cast back to one afternoon 4 years ago. He remembered all.

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