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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1. Prologue

There was a silent hush around the fire as children sat listening intently, waiting for the story teller to speak. Quietly he began to talk, mesmerising them with the sound of his voice: the sparks twirling upwards in patterns to the heavens, from the blaze below.

“Long ago there was a land, united and prosperous. In this kingdom there were three provinces; Zietun the mountainous home of the Dwarves, Lihtae the forests of the Elves, and Morok the grasslands of men. The Dwarves of Zietun built great caverns of hewn stone within the rock, as big as any castle and yet more beautiful. Within these strongholds there were great statues of Dwarvish heroes, intricately carved with skill that no other race could match and great waterfalls cascading down into pools glistening into the tunnels.

As for the Elves in Lihtae they were as they have always been; proud and aloof beings, possessors of great natural power or magic as we now call it. With this gift they bent to trees to their bidding, creating a city within the boughs and branches of the majestic oaks that make up that part of the forest. In Morok, man constructed towering castles and fortresses, great feats of architecture and prowess. However that was not their true strength, no. Man's true strength lay with the taming and mastery of horses. Soon they had steeds that were said to have been faster than the wind, and as majestic as those who rode them.

There was peace between these threes lands to the point where they united to become the kingdom of Ethendra. Long this alliance lasted and the people of all three nations prospered. But as with all great kingdoms, its doom was already sealed, for within the hearts of men there has always been a hunger, ravenous and greedy for power and so it came to be that a human prince rode out to a land beyond Morok to the fourth province on this continent, the province of Bracocia. A barren wasteland to the north, and home to Orcs, Goblins, and yet fouler things that have not been seen for generations.

So it came to pass that on the Twenty fourth day of the three hundred and fifteenth year of the Second age that Alywan the second son of Toron king of Morok rode to the Orcish capital. He journeyed for many days, for even upon a steed as great and noble as his takes time to cross a thousand leagues, more so when it fears the land and stench of death that it is entering.For five days and five nights he rode with his escort, banners of white flowing as they rode and the soft chink of saddlebags full of gold made the only noise.

Finally they reached their destination a great fortress made by the dwarves in ages past now infested with Orcs and Goblins its statues defaced, its rivers poisoned and its beauty marred. Long he waited at the gate until Lutbah the greatest of the Orcs strode out to meet him.

Lutbah was a giant Orc his skin was jet black and his rule so feral that some say he must have been fathered by a night wolf, the most terrible of all wolves and rulers of the mountain peaks at the furthest end of Bracocia.He stood as tall as two men in their prime and bristled with hair all down his back.  The most noticeable thing about him though were the giant scars that covered his body in streaks.

Alywan rode forward a little to speak with the giant Orc, and a great conference was had there on the plains before the ancient ruin. For two days and two nights they spoke before the talks ceased, and then Alywan and his men rode back as fast as the wind to Moroka the capital of Morok.At the same time Lutbah sent out a group of his warriors to the forbidden mountains, a bleak and desolate range of mountains at the end of the land. To entreat with the Night wolf packs to join his forces, and to this end he sent a thousand slaves.

However the elves, being suspicious of why a prince would ride with so few men into the land of Ethendra's greatest enemy, called a council of all the rulers to take place at the elvish capital. There they met and Toron was filled with a great rage as he knew his plan had been uncovered. He flew into action leaping at the elven king, Thrarion, who with a single utterance incinerated him for the offence.

Arianon the first born of Toron and heir to the throne of Morok declared war on the Elven people of Lihtae, before riding fast back to Moroka to marshall his forces and await the arrival of the Orcs. Meanwhile the Orcish warriors had reached the mountains, and there made the offer of the chief known to the packs of the Forbidden mountains.

There the tribute was made and that night, under a blood red moon, the screams were terrible, broken only by the heart chilling howl of the wolves, who as day broke carried the Orc warriors back fleeter than any horse of men to their capital.  Then meeting with the army, they marched into Morok, part of a horde of Orcs, Goblins and  Trolls so large that the ground was not visible for miles around.

Thus was the land torn asunder and any prosperity fled as the Orcs raided and pillaged at the borders of the Elvish forest of Litae burning and destroying all in their path. Likewise Man went to war against the Dwarves of Zietun, however the armies of men could find no purchase and soon were driven from the foothills of the mountains, forced to await the arrival of the Orcs.

The Orcs came swiftly having lost a great battle with the forces of Thrarion after the sacking of Liteun, an Elvish city on the outskirts of Litae.Soon their combined forces were at the doors of the Dwarf city of Ziemach, there they lay siege to the Dwarves for almost a year, unable to break through the defences of the city. Then one day Thrarion and the Elves arrived in their shining armour and upon the backs of great eagles that soared high above the land. As the Orcs turned to meet the new enemy, the Dwarves sallied and smashed into them from behind.

A fierce battle raged there for three days causing the deaths of countless thousands, until at last Thrarion beheaded Lutbah and the Orcs fled in disarray, cut down by the Elvish archers as they ran, and so Man’s greed for power was crushed and they were driven back to Morok defeated. Neither the Elves nor the Dwarves have trusted them since and have long sent raids into Morok as a harsh reminder of their defeat and the pain that they caused them."

 So spoke the story teller and all minds around the fire were captivated, before the silence was broken by a round of applause for the story, and cheers for the way it had been told to the Elves of the north. After all, these events that had occurred almost 300 years ago. To these Elves this was the legacy of their fathers and they were proud to be related to those who had fought the great Orc and terrible night wolves of Bracocia.

Bowing his head the story teller brought out a great pipe and filling it with a little tobacco, he sat quietly waiting until the relentless barrage of requests for more had died down. Then he stood dramatically, and announced that he could and would tell many more stories if he had the time, such as the fall of Liteun, or the siege of Ziemach. Even the great sagas of heroes from the lands across the ocean from whence the Elves had come.

But alas he could not for in the morning he was set to leave for Ziemach and there he boasted he was to tell stories at the feast of Dwuli, king of all Dwarves in Zietun. Then despite the exclamations of the Elves he retired to his room and there slept, dreaming of mighty battles and kingdoms of old.

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