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  • Added on: Apr 15 2008 07:45 PM
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The Saga of Thorek Bloodfist

A life of Dwarf miner is an intresting one....

Posted by Bugman on Apr 15 2008 07:45 PM
CHAPTER 1: Life in Azgul Karaz

Sweat poured down Thorek's brow as he swung his heavy pick. For hours now he had been working in the mines in his endless search for the precious minerals that his people loved so much. Like all miners he dreamed hitting gold, finding a seam of iron ore, or in his wildest dreams even a vein of gromril. Yet life was not made up of dreams and for the past month Thorek could find nothing but the dullest of copper. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted as a hand reached out and shoved him aside. Losing his balance, Thorek fell down and lost his grip on his pick. Looking up in anger, the young dwarf saw the scowling face of Drahnz. Drahnz stared down at Thorek with undisguised disdain. "Go elsewhere wanaz (bad beard), ye type isne wanted here. These ‘ere mines be for real dwarves, not ye foreign bastiches!" Thorek's face turned red with anger as he looked up at the older dwarf's scowling face. Thorek grabbed his pick and for a second was ready to strike, before he looked around and saw that the other miners had ceased their work to support Drahnz. Gritting his teeth, Thorek stalked off, the cruel laughter of his so-called "kin" ringing in his ears.

Thorek sat alone in the crowded inn known as the scalded grobi. All around him the sounds of laughter filtered through the room as many dwarves left the mines to relax with a strong ale. Yet there was no merriment for Thorek, for he was the son of Bjarn Bloodfist...an adventurer. Thorek bitterly looked around the room. What right did these dwarves have to scorn him? He was born to the hold of Azgul Karaz like all of them, so why was he treated like a third class citizen? With a deep frown Thorek threw a handful of crowns onto the table to pay for his drink and left. The barmaid gave him a dirty look as she picked up the coins before moving on to the next table.

Thorek returned home late to find his father sitting alone in front of a roaring fire, slowly nursing a stein of ale. Slumping his shoulders, Thorek propped his pick by the door and removed his thick leather gloves. Without a word Thorek walked over to his father and pulled up a chair to sit next to the ancient dwarf. Thorek took a second to look over his father. Bjarn was an ancient dwarf by most dwarves' regard. His beard was pure white and was so long that he had to wrap it around himself like a belt. His craggy features stared ahead into the fire and his eyes had a distant quality as if he was lost in thought. His hands were gripped like a vice around his stein so strongly that Thorek thought the stein would crack under the pressure. Thorek even took a second to give his father a measure of respect for his bulging muscles gained from a hard life of fighting. He had not let decades of relatively easy living make him go soft.

Without turning his head Bjarn quietly but sternly said, "So lad, how was ye day in the mines?" There was a long pause before Thorek dropped his head and Bjarn let out a deep sigh. Suddenly Thorek looked up and finally voiced a question that had burned in him for his entire life. "Father...why were ye an adventurer? Why did ye leave our clan?"

Now it was Bjarn's time to remain silent. He set down his stein and turned to stare into Thorek's eyes. His gray eyes seemed to go right through Thorek, and for a second Thorek thought he had angered his father. Then his father said in a very soft voice "Well lad, I reckon ye are old enough to know. I guess that I ne'er wanted ye to know because the story would be too hard for me to tell. Ye see, like ye I was ne'er born surrounded by me true kin, I have nay been able to see our ancestral home neither." Thorek was taken back by this, but restrained himself from speaking for fear that his father would stop his speech.

"The fall of our clan dates back to the time of the war of vengeance." "We are of Clan Bloodfist, which was once a prosperous clan within the great hold of Karak Eight Peaks. When the war of the beard broke out, the entire dwarven empire mobilized to fight the treacherous elves of Ulthuan. Our clan went to Krag Bryn in response to the plea of aid from Queen Helgar to avenge the death of her husband Drong the Thrundling at the hands of the elves of Tol Eldroth."

At this point Bjarn broke off from his tale as if he was being forced to remember things far too tragic to easily speak about.

"It was a long and hard fought war, not only within the distant battle grounds in Queen Helgar's territory, but the whole old world. The war ended with both the dwarvish empire and the elvish armies of Ulthuan taking horrendous casualties. Neither race would ever truly recover. Our clan was no exception, as fully one out of four dwarves who went to fight the elves died during those horrible battles. The elves in their part had lost heart when their king died by the hammer of Gotrek Startbreaker and no reinforcements arrived to save them. They could not replace their casualties and we refused to give up our campaign of attrition. The elves of Tol Eldroth realized the folly of the war they started and sailed back to Ultuan and abandoned their homes to the axes and fires of the victorious dwarves. After the burning of Tol Eldroth, the remnants of our clan left the bloodied lands to return to the fair Karak Eight Peaks. But the mountains were filled with all manner of vile beasts and the journey back was long and hard.

Upon reaching our home, the clan found it had fallen in their absence to the greenskins and the skaven. Many of our clan saw this as their fault for leaving to fight the elves instead of staying to protect their families. Overcome with grief, many took the oath of the Slayer. The rest of our clan split and went their separate ways, each with their own hopes of some day returning to take back our home."

With this Bjarn fell silent. Finally Thorek broke the silence. "But why are we...hated so?"

Bjarn replied "That is because of me, lad. I was born in Karaz-a-Karak. Me own father was very poor and me mother had died giving birth to me. I was full of the fire of youth and refused to accept me lot in life. Instead I saved up what money I could, bought what equipment I could and abandoned me hold and me father to live the life of a mercenary and adventurer."

Thorek looked at his father in surprise. He could not believe what he was hearing. But before he could say a word his father continued:

"I lived such a life until the day I met ye mother. Me company was hired to help fight off the greenskins that had been plaguing this ‘ere hold. After the campaign I ran intae ye mother, Bryndrika. Her father was a wealthy merchant and had high hopes to marry her off to a noble family. I cannae say what really happened between us. It was truly a chance meeting when I ran intae her in the bar...but I..." At this point Bjarn's face seems to turn a bit red.

"I fell in love with her and her with me. I proposed to her then and there. She accepted. I quit me life as a mercenary to come and live here with her. But as ye may expect, her father was outraged and in his anger disowned her. We decided to stay in the hold, but the animosity towards us has never died down. To this day I am hated for me life as a mercenary and she is hated for marrying me against the wishes of her clan."

For a long minute the pair sat in complete silence. Eventually that silence was broken by the heavy footsteps of Bryndrika. She stopped once she saw the faces of her family.

"So...you know then?"

Thorek looked up at his mother and slowly nodded. She looked down at her son with a mixture of sorrow and love. She finally said:

"I am sorry. But it is late and we all must work tomorrow. Your father has to patrol the deeper portions of the mines, ye must keep on mining and I have my own errands to run. We should all get some sleep." Thorek stood up and put his hand on his father's shoulder. Thorek looked into his eyes and said "Thank you" before walking off to bed.

Thorek sat alone at his usual table. The mood in the bar was dour as a silence settled over the usually joyous environment. All the dwarves were nursing their mugs in silent thought or engaged in their own quiet conversations. Suddenly a hacking cough broke the silence of the bar and every eye turned to look at the dwarf who made it. Silently all around him began to slowly move away from him, each finding some excuse to leave. Thorek could hardly blame them. A dreadful plague seemed to be spreading through the hold as of late. The diseased seemed to slowly waste away over the span of a week or so. Already a dozen dwarves were known to carry the plague and three had already died. The youngest seemed to be the most susceptible to the disease and all the deaths were from the rare dwarf children.

The dwarf who had let out the cough abruptly stood up and hurried out of the bar, muttering something about seeing a priestess of Vallaya. Thorek nervously looked around. It was easy to see that everyone in the bar was also afraid that they too had caught the plague. In fact only the priestesses seemed to be willing to go anywhere near the sick now and the area around their temple was deserted by all but the ill. Thorek finished his ale, threw down a coin and left the bar. No one seemed to even notice him.

Thorek returned home with all haste. He had a stuffed up nose and was sneezing. Thorek devoutly prayed to all of his ancestors that he did not carry the plague. Such a fate was something he would not wish on even the likes of Drahnz. Upon reaching home Thorek strode in and called out to his father. Thorek was a little shocked to find himself alone in the house; his father should have been home by now. Then he noticed a small note by Bjarn's favorite chair. It read "Thorek come to the temple. -Bjarn" Forgetting everything Thorek turned and ran out of his house and straight to the temple of Vallaya.

As Thorek strode into the temple, the echoing coughs of the sick seemed to hang in the air. Thorek quickly made the sign of Vallaya over his heart and then covered his face with his sleeve in a desperate attempt to stop the plague from reaching him. He heard his father's voice call out to him. Thorek ran to the source of the sound to find his worst fears realized. His father was sitting by the bed of Bryndrika. She was asleep, but beads of sweat ran down her forehead. Bjarn looked up at Thorek, fear and anger written upon his craggy features. Thorek looked down in shock at his mother, all he could stutter out was "What..."

Bjarn looked down at his wife and put his hand over hers and gripped it tightly as if he feared that she would fall if he let go. Without looking up, Bjarn told Thorek how he had come home to find her passed out on the floor. He had carried her to the temple with all haste and delivered her to the priestesses. Thorek looked down and saw that on the back of her neck horrible green boils had grown. Thorek felt the urges to run and stay in equal measures; fear and family loyalty warred inside him. Bjarn seemed to realize his son's fear and merely said "The priestesses have done what they could. They say that the blessing of Vallaya is over her and that as long as we keep our faith we should not contact the disease."

The thought of being so close to a plague carrier was unthinkable, but Thorek could not leave his mother. Finally Thorek pulled up a chair and put his head in his hands. It was all he could do to stop himself from crying.

The next morning Thorek went to work with a heavy heart. The hours rolled past him as Thorek tried to concentrate on the task at hand, though he found it very difficult. Thorek swung his pick again and again into the hard surface of the rock face. His timing was off and the blows were clumsy, for instead of concentrating on his job he was trying to overhear a nearby conversation, both to end the tedium of work and to get his mind off of his own woes.

Kadrin- "I'm tellin ye Magni trouble is commin-"
Magni- "Bah! What the fook are ye talkin about?"
Kadrin- "If ye will jus' let me finish I'll tell ye. Now as I was sayin' my brother Lokri is a ranger, and he has been tellin' me that his unit has been seein' more in more mutants coming into our mountains."
Kadrin- "He says that three units have already been all but wiped out trying to fight them back and they have got orders to go to all the outlying mining towns and to tell the miners to fall back to the hold. 'Course that was a week ago and I have nay heard a word from him since."

At this, Thorek's pick missed the rock wall entirely and he momentarily lost his balance. Laughter seemed to echo throughout the mines as his fellow dwarves saw his discomfort. Thorek quickly pulled himself together and began to actually pay attention to his swings. Still a nagging thought played in the back of his mind, "what horrible fortune to have the plague hit and then this!"

Once Thorek had finished his rounds in the mine he returned straight to his house. He was surprised to find his father there who had barely left his mother's side since she fell ill. Bjarn saw Thorek's questioning face and said in a voice that was as calm as he could manage

Bjarn- "The disease has been getting worse. Even the priestesses have begun to fall ill. They sent me out as fast as they could sayin' that it was nay safe for me to stay."

At this Bjarn sadly shoot his head before adding

Bjarn- "But they promised to keep me informed on her condition."

Thorek looked at his father blankly for a second.

Thorek- "This is a trying time; perhaps you would like it if we went to the bar and got a drink? Maybe it'll calm ye down?"

Bjarn gave Thorek a small smile before exclaiming

Bjarn- "Aye, that'd be nice. But ye are paying!'

Thorek sat with his father at his usual table, each nursing their own drink. The bar was full as a steady stream of refugees from the surrounding mining settlements sought shelter in Azgul Karaz. Suddenly the doors were thrown open by a dwarf bearing the colors of Thane Gudrum, lord of the hold. The dwarf held in his hands a scroll, which he held out in front of him. In a loud voice he called out for all to hear "Thane Gudrum Brightaxe, lord of Azgul Karaz, has called for the raising of an army to fight against the chaos mutants who have invaded our lands. The following dwarves have been called upon to take up arms to fight alongside their lord. All who are called upon should go home immediately and prepare. We leave in three days. You each know which regiment you belong to and you should all own your own armor and weapons. Those who don't will be provided for."

This announcement was followed by a long list of names. Each dwarf who was named stood up and left the bar and as each did his name was struck off the list. The reading was long and Thorek could guess that close to four hundred names were read aloud by the tireless messenger. With his task done the messenger turned and left the now emptied bar, obviously going off to some other location to recruit for Gudrum's army. Thorek did not know whether to feel relieved or insulted that neither he nor his father was called upon. Bjarn on the other hand obviously took this as an insult and was starting deeply into his ale, quietly muttering beneath his breath.

CHAPTER 2 Stubborness in the face of doom

A mournful silence had fallen over the hold, for seven days after Gudrum's army marched out, a dozen dwarfs had come back into the hold, bearing his body. Each of them was covered in untreated wounds and wore dented and torn armor. Only one of them belonged to Gudrum's hammerers. Out of the dozen survivors, only half lived past the next five days, their infected wounds claimed them with alarming swiftness. All the while, the plauge sweeping through the hold got worse and worse. On the same day that Gudrum was layed down with his ancestors in the halls of the dead, his only son, Thraki, went through the ceremony that made him the new lord of Azgul Karaz.

On the sixth day after the survivors of Gurdrum's army came back, Thraki's few rangers that where left reported that the army of mutants was approaching the hold itself. Alarmed by the prospect of a full scale siege, Thraki decided to send for aid from Karak-Kadrin, which lay two weeks march north-west of Asgul Karaz...

Thorek was in the temple of Shalaya, sitting by the side of his dying mother, when a messenger came for him. Thorek turned around in surprise when a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder, he turned around, expecting it to be his father's, but found that instead it was the same dwarf who he had seen draft dwarfs from the tavern. "Thorek Bloodfist, ye regiment has been called up by Lord Thraki to go to Karak-Kadrin to find aid. Tommorow morn ye will report to ye regiment leader for more instructions." With that the messenger left the temple, leaving Thorek alone to his thoughts. Inside Thorek raged "Why me? Why my regiment? Why have I been sent away from my home and my family when I should be here?" Thorek looked down at his mother and with a shock realized that she wasn't breathing. He ran out of her room screaming "Priestess! Priestess! Someone help me!"

The next morning Thorek woke early with his father, in preparation of leaving for Karak-Kadrin. Thorek sat in front of the fire place, lost in thought, when Bjarn came to him, holding a mail shirt, an iron helmet and a warhammer. Bjarn laid them down in front of Thorek almost reverently. "Lad, I always feared that someday ye would have to use these. But use them ye must. Prepare yeself to go serve our hold. I...I am nay a member o' ye regiment, so I shall have to stay here to bury me wife." Bjarn was silent for a long time before he finished "Bring pride to our clan." With that he turned and left, wondering if he would ever see his son again.

The gates to the hold opened at the dead of night. There was no ceremony, there were no parades, such might be thrown in the lands of men. The only thing to mark the passing of the regiment was the good byes of their friends and family, for it was likely that few would be seen again.

The regiment was a full twenty strong. Each dwarf was armed with their own weapons and armor, but the common theme among them was their shields and chain armor. Besides that each dwarf was armed as best they could, with either axes forged by their forefathers or even the same hammers they had used to work the forges. To Thorek, it was the first time he had ever left the hold with his regiment, and the prospect both terrified him and instilled a sense of excitement. As the gates of Azgul Karaz opened, Thorek spared a glance back at his father, and the look on his face easily ended any excitement that Thorek felt. As the gates closed Thorek wondered if he would ever see them open again.

The regiment had been marching for hours and the sun was beginning to rise. Drakor, the leader of the regiment rose his hand and signaled for everyone else to stop. The scarred veteran looked around as if expecting an ambush. He muttered "I could have sworn that I heard..." It was the last thing he ever said as an arrow appeared from amongst the debris that flanked their path and went straight into his neck. Even as the old warrior fell all of the other dwarfs raised their sheilds up and fell into formation. Thorek looked around, but as he was in the center of the regiment he could see nothing. Someone shouted "Grobi!" as more arrows fell into their formation. Thorek heard a scream as another warrior fell to the ground and panic began to grip him. He was almost happy when the arrows stopped raining down upon them and a tide of goblins in black robes charged out of their hiding places and into the regiment of dwarfs. All together there where but two groups of the night goblins, each numbering ten. But they had the element of surprise and had charged into the flanks of the unit. The melee was swift and brutal, leaving three more dwarfs laying dead on the ground and five of the goblins. The goblins, realising that there element of surprise was lost, retreated back into the debris, leaving the dwarfs chasing vainly in pursuit. It was only until one of the more veteran members called them to halt that any order was restored. Thorek looked at the goblin corpses in a mixture of wonder and hate. He had never seen any greenskins before, and somehow he had expected something more. In death they seemed almost child like. But one look at the bodies of the dwarf warriors told a different story. They where brutal, savage creatures that prefered to hide in the darkness and would flee the second a fight became fair. Thorek thought grimly to himself that it was only the first day of the march and already four dwarfs had been lost.

Brundar, the new leader of the regiment and the dwarf who had restored order, bent down to look at the goblins that were killed. Once he was finished he stood up and spat on the corpse he was examining. "These here goblins be of the broken fang tribe. Their territory is far east of here. It seems like they were driven out of their territory." The broken fang tribe had been a trouble for Azgul Karaz for as long as Thorek could remember. The thought of anything being so powerful that it could cause the goblin tribe to scatter like that into such small bands convinced Thorek to agree with Thraki's wisdom in sending for aid.

The regiment of dwarfs had completed their first week of marching and were half way to Karak Kadrin. Brundar was getting more and more desperate to make better time and for the past two days he had insisted on marching through the night. Even the constitution of a dwarf can be worn down by constant hardship, but to their credit not one dwarf complained about the decision or fell out of line on the forced march. It wasn't until the third night that Brundar finally ordered what was left of the regiment to break and make camp. Thorek gratefully helped start the fire that would be used to make the first real meal he had eaten in a week. But even on this break from marching, all ten of the survivors acted with hurried movements, as if by taking their time they would doom their kinsmen; though in reality it just might. When the regiment finally retired for the night, Thorek gratefully drifted off to sleep.

In Thorek's dream, he returned to his home to late. The returned alone to find the gates broken down and bodies littering the ground. As the dream progressed he found himself walking through the halls of his home. He could see all of the dwarfs he had ever known going about their daily businesses. The only difference was that each bore the scars of the wounds that killed them. Here he past by old Thundin, he smiled at Thorek, even though his gut had been ripped open and his insides had long since spilled out. There was Arik, working at his forge. The dwarf worked without stop, dedicated to his craft, even though half of his head was missing from when a beastman's axe took him in the face. Thorek walked through the halls of his people, seeing each of them in their state of life and death. Finally after seeing what he thought to be countless corpses, he came to his own house. As if he had no control over his own body he opened the door and stepped in. Sitting in his chair was his father. The old dwarf stood up and walked over to his son. Bjarn lifted up his arms as if to embrace Thorek. Thorek took one look at his father's face and-

"Thorek! Ye fook head, wake up. By Grungni's beard lad, it be your watch."

Thorek nodded to the dwarf who woke him up and pulled himself to his feet. The dwarf noticed that Thorek's hands were shaking and the dwarven warrior shook his head sadly. "Dunnae worry lad, we'll bring help. Azgul Karaz had ne'er fallen before and it ne'er will." Thorek mouthed his thanks to the warrior, though in his heart he could not bring himself to believe him. As Thorek walked out in the cold air of the night the warrior muttered to himself "Looks like the lad's been touched by Hrungnor."

The group of dwarfs marched on for what seemed like an eternity. The stress of their journey was beginning to tell on them, as each dwarf was beginning to have the same nightmares as Thorek. To make matters worse, food was running low and water had run out. But still they marched on, the salvation of their home forcing them to keep moving. Thorek was taking the ordeal hard, the nightmares had begun to seep into his waking hours. Combined with a general lack of sleep and water, he was slowly losing it. Every once a while his vision would black out for a second and when it came back the world seemed drained of color, almost lifeless. Sounds from dwarfs close by would seem to be distant echoes. Then as suddenly as the attack came, it would disapear. Yet still he resolutely marched on, grimly taking the slow torture.

One dwarf could not take the ordeal, and young lad by the name of Thraki. One morning when they stopped to rest for the night, he was found tearing his eyes out. Everyone was at a loss about what to do with him when the young dwarf suddenly screamed incoherently and lashed out blindly at everyone around him with his axe. One good blow put the young lad out of his misery. No one knew what pushed him over the edge. Talk spread about sorcery, others blamed Thraki for being weak. Thorek was suffering from one of his attacks when the incident happened, so the entire event seemed unreal to him, as if he was just remembering a dream. At times his condition would panic him, and he would pray to the ancestor gods to save him, other times he was just to tired to care.

The regiment was about one days march from Karak Kadrin when a goblin wolf rider scout saw the band. A depleted regiment of tired dwarfs was something that the goblin could not pass up, and the rider silently slunk away to find its' mates.

An hour later the attack came. The dwarfs never saw it comming, especially not so close to their destination. Ten goblins on their wolves charged out of the shadows and into the dwarfs. Leading them was a goblin shaman, waiting at the back, shouting its followers on. The dwarfs never even had a chance to form up into a shield wall, instead the goblins caught them by surprise. Five dwarfs died in the first charge, ripped apart by the jaws of the wolves or impaled on the spears of the goblins. But to their credit the dwarfs did not break, instead the goblin's charge was halted at the cost of dwarf lives. A viscious meele erupted with goblin and dwarf alike falling. The fight was in the balance, with a full half of the goblins having fallen, but they had reduced the dwarf ranks to just three. Thorek saw a jap in the wolf riders' line and he had a clear shot at the shaman. With a curse Thorek threw his axe at the goblin, but the axe was not balanced for throwing, and instead of hitting the goblin dead on, it spun slowly and the handle hit the goblin in the head instead of the blade. Still, the force was strong enough to knock the goblin leader from its wolf and to the ground. The other goblins, believing the leader to have died, turned their wolves around and fled into the night.

Thorek stood in shock as he saw the goblins retreat. He was tired to pursue. One of the survivors, a warrior by the name of Albrecht, calmly walked up the unconcious goblin leader and beheaded the beast.

Albrecht turned and looked at the wounded dwarfs laying on the ground. "Well then, best see to their-"

Thorek surprised himself when he snapped "NO!" Albrecht turned to face him in surprise. "We cannot waste any more time here. If we do not get to Karak Kadrin then our entire hold may fall." Albrecht looked at Thorek in disgust. "We cannot just leave them here to bleed to death." Thorek returned his stare. "Oh yes, that is just what we will do." The third dwarf, a young lad by the name of Barik muttered "Well I'm not leaving me kin." Thorek glared at his two comrades. If you two do not have the stomach to do what is neccessary, then I will go on alone. Thorek turned and left, the two other dwarfs did not follow. Thorek hoped that he was doing the right thing.

CHAPTER 3 Duty's Reward

Thorek marched through the night and reached the gates of Karak Kadrin alone. It was a welcome sight to Thorek...he had come so far and suffered so much to get there. To him it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

Thorek made his way to the gates with a new energy. The guards there looked at Thorek with concern as they saw him approach. Thorek did look like he had been pulled through * I Swear too much * and back; his armor was torn in many places, and he was covered in dried blood which he never had time to wash off. Not only that, but the exhaustion he went through was clearly written on his face.

Guard: "What the fook happened to ye?"

Thorek: "I am...an ambassador from Azgul Karaz. My home is under siege even as we speak and most of our warrior have already fallen in battle. I need to speak to Ungrim Ironfist.

At this the leader of the guards nodden and motioned for Thorek to follow him.

Thorek to the palace of Ungrim. The palace itself was more of a fort that anything else. Dug right into the mountain was his home. One large gate led into it, and miles the tunnels from there went on. Deep into the mountains they went on, with rooms hand carved for him. Besides all of the things needed for a lord, their was also an armory and a guards barracks, so in times of need the palace itself would also become a strong point. Not that such a thing would ever happen, as to get to the palace itself and all of the guards within it, one would have to fight through the countless slayers in the city proper.

As Thorek was led on, one of his attacks came upon him. The little light in the tunnels seemed to be sucked away, and a dark gray tinted everything. The guard who led him down was explaining quickly what they were passing, obviously thinking that Thorek was some special ambassador sent to them. But Thorek heard none of what the dwarf was saying. His words also sucked away. All he could hear was a soft ringing. Thorek did not panic, in fact he did not feel anything. It was as if nothing was real, not even Thorek himself. He couldn't even bring himself to panic.

As the attack faded away and the world came back into focus, he heard the guard finish "...here and I will get ye an audiance with the king." He was in a large room with at least three dozen comfortable chairs. Each one was covered in soft, white fur. At least a dozen men and dwarfs were seated their, each one was well dressed and were obviously either very rich merchants or nobles. Many of them tried their best to ignore Thorek and his smell, or they looked at him as if he was an orc who had just walked up to them and asked them if he could marry their daughter. Thorek ingnored them all and stood still with his back straight, as if he was standing within his regiment with a commander looking them over.

Thorek stood their for a good ten minutes before the guard came back. "He will see ye." At this there was a great murmer of disconent from everyone else who was already waiting. Thorek followed the guard without giving any of them a second thougt.

Thorek was lead straight into the thrown room of the Slayer King himself. The king was talking to one of his advisors when Thorek arrived. His throne room was nothing less than amazing. It was large enough to house the entire army of Azgul Karaz within it. A path of runes led up to the thrown itself, which was made entirely out of steel and was covered in intracely carved runes. Behind the thrown was a tapestry of King Baragor taking the slayer oath. Ungrim waited expectanlty for Thorek to start talking.

Thorek told the king the tale of what had come to his hold. Throughout the story the king had a strange glint in his eyes, which Thorek thought was akin to longing. Perhaps it was true, maybe the king's two conflicting oaths had driven him insane. Ungrim waved Thorek away. "I will consider what you said." Thorek was about to protest when he noticed that a pair of hammerers were holding their great hammers at the ready. Thorek nodded and walked out. The guard who led him in led him out as well. "Come with me lad, I will find ye a nice room to wash ye self up."

Thorek fell asleep the second he got to his bed. He didn't even bother to wash off any of the blood and dirt that covered him. As always he dreamed...he dreamed of walking through his home, and seeing the dead stare at him with their accusing eyes. In his dream, Thorek could not stop himself. He was forced to walk on and on. Eventually he came to the temple to Griminar. The dead had followed him. He turned around and saw them all staring at him. Then as one they raised one of their hands and pointed at the temple.

Thorek awoke with a start. A dwarf guard was standing over him. "Follow me, lad." Thorek got up, a new energy taking over. He saw his dream as a sign that there was still hope yet! He could save his home.

Thorek was not led to the throne room, instead he was led out of the palace. Waiting outside was a small army of Slayers, standing a full three hundred strong. Ungrim though was no were in sight. The dwarf guard pointed at the slayers. "The king sent messengers to every tavern in the city. These slayers couldn't resist the lure o' an army o' chaos and a besieged hold of their kin. Ye will be their guide." Thorek smiled and thanked the guard. He felt...hope.

The throng went through the mountains unmolested. Even the remaining goblin tribes stayed away from the large mass of slayers for fear of being overhwhelmed by the insane dwarfs. Thorek marched as hard as he did on the first journey. On the two occasions that he did sleep though, the dream he had in Karak Kadrin came back to him, and each time he woke up as he reached the temple of Griminar. Thorek took this as a sign that the ancestor god of the warrior wished him to march with all possible haste to relieve the siege. Hope filled Thorek, and for the march his attacks where the world would fade out seemed to stop.

Thorek was filled with anticipation when the throng reached Azgul Karaz. The hold was carved right into the mountain, and it loomed over the surrounding lands. Thorek's heart dropped when he looked at it. Surrounding it where the corpses of mutants, blasted apart by the now silent guns sticking out of the mountain side. The great gates now had a huge cylinder like whole in it, Thorek could only guess that some horrible magic had been employed to do such a thing. The hold now looked like some gigantic monster with its jaw open, having swallowed up his kinsmen. The cannons with the dead crewmen pointed out in the distance. The entire throng stopped to look at the site. A murmer of disapointment rose from the slayers; they had been promised a heroic death here.

Thorek broke ranks and ran as fast as he could to the open gates. He held onto a last shred of hope; maybe his kin had managed to hold out still, and they had won the desperate tunnel fighting. As he reached the gate, he found behind it a slaughtered regiment of
warriors. Each dwarf had fallen in near perfect rank, trying to stem the tide that must have swept over them.

Without truly knowing why, Thorek walked past them. He walked further and further into the hold, every tunnel seemed to show signs of fighting. To Thorek's horror there where much more dwarven corpses than mutant. Thorek could imagine the horror of what must have happened. With the gates open, the horde of mutants must have swept into the hold, and with most of the warriors having died in battle, the siege must have been a slaughter. Most of the dwarfs who had fallen were not even armed for battle, many of them were armed with naught but their mining picks or the hammers that they must have been using in the forges. Few of them even had any armor on them.

Thorek felt numb as he witnessed the horrific scene. It was almost as it was un real, like it was happening to someone else. That was until he reached his own home. Thorek walked inside it and realized that it was empty. Somehow he had expected to see his father sitting in his chair by the fire, and his mother finishing up her daily chores. It hit him like a hammer, he home was gone. His kin were dead. It didn't matter how fast he marched to get to Karak Kadrin, nothing that he could have done would have made any differences. The fate of his home was determined when the horde first entered the mountains. Thorek's suddenly felt very tired.

As Thorek left his home, closing the door behind him, he remembered his dream. The dead told him to go the shrine of Griminar. Thorek took a deep breath and steadied himself. Perhaps there he would find a tool to take his vengeance.

Thorek reached the temple and found ten dwarfs dead at the gates. They were all hammerers, each died where they stood. Here where at least two dozen mutant corpses. The elite guards had sold their lives dearly. They must have been protecting something important.

Thorek walked through the mess that was once a viscous meele. He walked into the darkness of the temple and into the great hall. Thorek eyes widened at what he saw and he fell to his knees. Before him stood the great statue of Griminar. Griminar was bellowing, his arms were spread out, in both hands he held a pair of massive axes.

But that was not what caused Thorek to fall to his knees. Nailed to the statue was King Thraki, son of Gudrum. Now Thorek knew why the hammerers were guarding the temple, their lord had come to the temple to pray to Griminar for victory. Thraki's head was tilted down, his only wounds were those from the nails that were driven into him. The mutants had nailed him to the statue and then left him to die. Thraki's dead eyes stared at Thorek, just like the dead in his dreams.

[The end.]

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