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Kraka Draka

a series of short stories

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#21 Skull Krusher

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 02:19 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Twenty

Once everyone was settled Drazhgrund began. “The reasons for going to the Empire can be laid at the feet of a chain of events that started 2500 years ago. Reasons that seem very clear to the Imperial Dawi of Karaz Ankor who lived those times, not we of Norsca who were isolated from kin for over 6,500 years. It was not until after the final Battle of Grovod Woods that we were united with our kin and we learned of the events that transpired during our isolation. Fifteen years before the founding of the Empire the High King Kurgan of Karaz Ankor was captured by Orcs.” When Drazhgrund mentioned this, the class let out a collective moan, a few look upset and young Finni rose and asked if the King Hammers became a Slayers. Drazhgrund shook his head and motioned for him to sit back down and he continued. “King Kurgan was later rescued by a Umgi, a human, Prince Sigmar of Unberogens. King Kurgan repays Prince Sigmar by giving him a runic hammer. The two of them form an alliance that joins the armies of Sigmar with the armies of King Kurgan and together after fifteen years they defeat and drive the Orcs and Goblins out of what would eventually become the Empire back into the Dark Lands. It was then that the Empire was founded with Sigmar as the first Emperor. After the Battle of Black Fire Pass to celebrate their great victory over the Grub King Kurgan orders Alaric, his great Master Runesmith to forge great weapons with runes of power placed upon them. These Swords, these Runefangs took over 100 years to forge and then they were given to each of the Empire’s Elector Counts according to Sigmar’s wishes.”

“But Lord Drazhgrund what does Runesmith Alaric’s Runefangs have to do with the Dawi of Norsca?” Finni asked trying to fathom why the King had called for volunteers and very much concerned about his uncle a King’s Drak Ranger who had answered the Kings call.

“Finni, you have the patience of a Halfling of Moot.” Drazhgrund said smiling. “Many seemed to think that the Master Runesmith had lost his mind during the forging of those weapons.” The class and their guards shook their heads and a few let out low moans of fear. “Because afterwards he began forging a Crown and in his insanity he used warpstone to make his Master Rune of Ages.” It was here that the class uttered their contempt and calling anyone who would use warpstone utterly insane and a pawn of Chaos. Norsca Dawi knew, for living so close to the Chaos Wastes where warpstone dust mutates and changes all it touches so insidiously they could not believe anyone could be so stupid not to know the dangers. It took a while for the class and the guards to calm down. Many were still upset some outright angry at what Alaric had forged. “The reason we go to the Empire is that after 2,500 years the Crown has been found, Dawi have lost their lives, and it is believed that the Grobi, Night Goblins are in possession of the Crown and that every nation in the Old World has sent their own armies into the Empire in hopes to claim the Crown as their own. He who controls the Crown could very well take over the entire world and the world would dissolve into Chaos for the Crown distills evil and malice to the wearer of the crown. Every Dawi Hold is sending Throngs to the Old World, the Empire in search for the Crown to keep it safe, unused, and hopefully a means can be found to destroy it. We can only hope and pray tht the Ancestor Gods aide us.” Drazhgrund said flatly. Kari sitting next to him murmured something to him and he turned as she handed him a packet which he took and removed some thick parchment and began to read. It was a letter from a close friend who happened to be Finni Rognison’s uncle. With a chuckle he spoke. “Well Finni it looks like your uncle, who you were named after is still in King’s Service. I will read you what he has to say.”

My good friend Lord Drashgrund,

…Of all the Doh!!! I just had to start bragging to a bunch of Varr Rangers about how great a Ranger I am able to spot and drop a Beastman at maximum Quarrel range. I had to be drunk. Then I had to tell them that term of enlistment was up with King’s Drak Rangers and that I was at loose ends. Now, now I am a Varr Ranger of all things. What do I know about the Varr? Absolutely nothing! What am I going to tell my Thane when and if I return? More importantly what will my clan’s Throngrink, Derna Morgadottier do I shudder to think. At least I did not give my word that I would sign back up only that I would think about it that I was not about to hang up my hammer and join the family business. It had to be that old Varr Ranger last night, the one I had been bragging too. No not brag just the truth that I was the best shot of the entire King’s Drak Rangers and then Sven Thunderklad Borinson puts a Dar before me and what was I to do what with everyone in the Rusty Harpoon listening in. So we and a few of the patrons who had bets on the outcome walked down to the docks. Just what kind of Dar you might ask. Easy. Fire five quarrels into the target. The only trouble was the target would be moving, not a problem I had shot plenty of moving targets before. But I also would be moving; now that would be difficult but not impossible. But then I saw that the target was in a small boat floating in the harbor and that I was to be in another small boat. Both boats would have mooring lines attached to either end and both would be attached to a pulley that would pull each boat across the harbor at different speeds. Still possible I thought to myself. But then Sven has four massive rocks the size of an Empire Steam Tank attached to chains that are attached to additional pulleys that are attached to large ship yard cranes. The cranes drop the rocks into the harbor creating waves that rock the target boat and the boat that I will be on at the same time they are being pulled across the harbor from one pier to the next. If I could put all five shots into the target then I win the Dar, if not I, I had to take back that I was the best shot of all the King’s Drak Rangers. What was I to do?

Well I climbed into the boat and drew my crossbow from across my back and just as I started to load it the boats began to move then one of those huge rocks gets dropped from the crane and creates a huge wave that nearly swamps my boat then the portions of the water between me and the target begins to burn. Some Dar! I get the crossbow loaded and try to spot the target through the burning flames and smoke and I fire just as another rock hit’s the water astern of me almost upending the boat but I hold onto the rail, load another bolt and fire just as both boats crest the top of the next series of waves. The boat has about two hands deep worth of water sloshing around my feet and it makes the boat lower in the water and it rides a little better so I try to take no notice as I load the third bolt. I sight immediately spot the target boat and it has drawn ahead of me since it is not so full of water and is riding higher. I notice that my last two bolts are in the target and I fired a third time just as another batch of flaming oil explodes in front of the target. As I load the fourth bolt I see that some of the oil has gotten into my own boat but mostly near the stern and it has started burning the transom. Up until this time I had forgotten that I am not the best dam swimmer in the King’s Drak Rangers only the best shot. I fire the fourth shot through a gap in the flames and then another of those rocks come plunging down nearly hitting the boat and now the boat is nearly full of water and with every wave that hits the side of the boat more flows in. Well at least it is not burning. I manage to load my fifth bolt and I am literally kneeling waste deep in water, it is cold, I am shivering because if it was any colder it would be snowing. The target boat was nearly directly under the top of the volcano and the moon light shined directly down upon it gives me a perfect sight target and despite the smoke and flame the rocking and rolling and the fact that the boat I was in was sinking I fired, then grabbed the mooring line that was pulling the boat toward the pier and as I did I kept my other hand high above water so as not to damage my crossbow. Dam I thought to my self this is almost worse the Deb training for the King’s Drak Rangers. Almost I said to myself at least I was on land but still cold, shivering, and surrounded by snow, wind, and dangerous Thanes who was in charge of training.

Sven and a couple of his shipmates pulled the boat to the pier and one grabbed my crossbow and Sven and another grabbed me and pulled me up onto the pier while three others pulled the boat up onto the pier but not before draining the water out and leaving it upside down to dry out. Sven stood there looking at me shaking his head as he handed me a small unopened keg of Norsca Drak Ale that I immediately opened and nearly drank dry before handing it back to him to finish as we walked to the end of the pier where most of the betting patrons were. There was plenty of silver and gold changing hands and most of it seemed to go into Florin’s the owner of the Rusty Harpoon pouch. The Varr Rangers had pulled the other boat up onto the pier as well and everyone was looking at the silhouette target that looked a little like Chaos Marauder. I smiled to myself when I saw the target, all five of my bolts hit. One in the head which was my last shot, two in the chest, one in the midsection and the last which must have been my third was in the knee. Four of the five would have killed any Marauder and one would have put one down out of the fight. Florin gives me a well done and tells me that I can dry myself in front of the fire when I get back and that there will be another keg waiting for me as he, his patrons and the Varr Rangers head back to the inn.

Sven Thunderklad Brokkson and myself stood their staring at the target and as I looked at Sven he shrugs his shoulders and gets this look in his eye and then he grabs me around the shoulder and we head back to the Rusty Harpoon. I should have run back to the clan house, but how was I to know that I had just been Cathaied. As we walked back he drew another small keg out of his Varrbag that he had slung over his shoulder and we drink it as we walk. Him talking about the first time he sailed before the mast. He talked of far away places where the Norsca merchants sailed some escorted some not, but all with Varr Rangers aboard. Then he told me about the King’s ships. That the crews were not just any Varr Rangers but the King’s Drak Varr Rangers part of the King’s Thong but assigned to Kraka Draka naval ships. He said that the Drak Varr Rangers serve the King not some merchant clan or consortium of merchants owning trading vessels that need protection. As Drak Varr Rangers we serve aboard warships sometimes it is boring but other times it is exciting and almost as dangerous as your recent Dar. We are usually the vanguard of any Throng going ashore and ensuring the beachhead is secure for any Throng landing. We had nearly finished this second keg when we arrived at the Rusty Harpoon and I went inside Sven followed and we sat before the roaring hot fire and broached a third keg that Florin provided. That was when he made his pitch.

“Lad, you were the best shot in the King’s Drak Rangers but like you said earlier your enlistment is up and you have not decided to sign up again. You are not even the best shot in the King’s Drak Varr Rangers.” I started to protest then I saw his point. I belonged to neither unit at the moment and the more I thought about it I saw that he had a point and it was not a pleasant thought. I had told my Drak Ranger Thane that I would think about it but the more I thought about it the more that I decided not too go back. No I was not hanging up my hammer there was still a King to serve, Dawi to protect, and I had a bit of wanderlust still in me so I took a long hard pull on that third keg and made up my mind.

“Well Sven just how do I become the best shot of the King’s Drak Varr Rangers?” I had no sooner said that when another Drak Varr Ranger sat down beside us. I looked him over as I drank some more ale. He wore a thick, dark blue clothing trimmed in thick dark black fur and looked like a rich shipping merchant and then I noticed the gold buttons and buckles all had the same nautical theme, a rampant Drak being held down by and anchor, chain, and rope. His long white beard was braided into two intricate Grindal weaves and he had golden Varr Drak tokens, rings, miniature gold hammers woven throughout his beard a beard that hung to the floor. He wore and equal amount of gold rings on his hands each of some nautical design and his left ear bore a gold ring from which hung a miniature gold hammer. His hair was pulled back into another long Grindal weave that reminded me of waves upon the varr. His hair was held in place by what looked like a ornate golden Drak’s claw that was closed around the braid He carried a brace of pistols in his belt and carried an ornate war-hammer that hung over his shoulder that he had to remove as he sat down at our table. As I took all this in I decided he was not some merchant but obliviously another Drak Varr Ranger of some standing. He set the hammer beside the chair and pulled out a long stem pipe, filled it with tobacco, lit it from a brand from the fire and then he pushed an enlistment contract across the table that stopped right before me followed by a bottle of ink and a quill. Then Sven introduced the Drak Varr Ranger and called for another round of small kegs of ale that were placed in front of the three of them.

“Lad, this is Lord Hergar Sharpblade Rorekson, the Gormtrommi of the King’s Drak Varr Ranger’s.” Sven stated as he opened the keg and nearly drained it in one long pull. “We are looking to fill that last few Drak Varr Ranger billets aboard the King’s latest warship.”

Now he had my interest I had seen that ship being built and it was huge and it was deadly looking, and from what I had heard from listening the workers who were regular patrons of the Rusty Harpoon well armed. I looked at both of them and said respectfully that my previous question still applied and was not answered.

Then Lord Hergar spoke. “First you would have to sign up and second you would have to be a better shot than Sven and so far no one is better than Sven except maybe me and that depends on how much we have both had to drink” He stated as he pointed his pipe at Sven and blew a smoke ring towards the ceiling. Sven smiled as he drank his ale.

I picked up and began reading the contract as I slowly filled my own pipe, lit it and began smoking as I read. It was a standard enlistment contract, minimum service of five years with extensions due to time of war, promotions, benefits in event of being wounded, family survival benefits in event of death, and of course prize money in event the ship captures any enemy vessel. When I finished reading I looked up at my two table companions but they were locked into a discussion about the new ship and when it would be provisioned and launched. I looked around the inn taking in the familiar smells and sounds as well as the Dawi who filled room. I caught Florin’s eye, he who I knew was at one time a King’s Drak Ranger for over fifty years and he gave me a nod. I knew he had been listening and more than likely saw plenty of contracts signed in his inn and his affirmative nod was an admission that he thought it was a good deal and since his clan and mine were bond together by more than just commercial contracts but by blood as well he was also kin but very distantly related. With that nod I reached over opened the ink bottle dipped in the varr-hawk quill and wrote my name and dated it.

As I finished signing my name with a flourish both Lord Hergar and Sven looked over at me. Sven picked up the contract and spoke; “Well done. Well done Finn Harokson of Clan Oakenstave. Welcome back into the King’s service.”

With a smile Lord Hergar reached over and patted me on my damp shoulder that was not quiet dry even from the hot fire. Then in an almost whisper he spoke to the two of us but more towards me. “Lad you have made a wise choice. We Norsca Dawi will be mustering a Throng to head south into the Empire. You will not regret your decision, our High King and the Imperial High King of Karaz-a-Karak will need every loyal Dawi that we can muster to prevent the destruction of the world as we know it by the forces of evil.” I looked them both in the eye almost like a soul gaze and knew that what he said was true. Then he reached into his clothing and removed a pouch and slid it across the table to me. When it hit the table and slid I knew it was gold for gold makes a sound that is hard not to recognize or ever to forget especially for a Dawi. “This is for signing up. Thane Sven, who is in charge of the Drak Varr Rangers aboard your ship, will direct you to the chandlery to be outfitted for service as a King’s Drak Varr Ranger. What is in the pouch will more than pay for your new outfit, be sure to bring any personal belongings as well as your bear cloak, we have more than one former Drak Ranger aboard and those cloaks will come in handy when you stand your watch and at night when you are asleep.” Then he stood, drank the rest of his keg and left the inn.

I pocketed the pouch and looked to Sven and asked one “What ship?

All Sven said was Dunderkarak. I knew all about the Dunderkarak, which means thundering mountain from listening to the patrons of the Rusty Harpoon.

I dredged up all I could remember abut Dunderkarak from all the conversations I had overheard. She is heavily armed with four cannon in the forward and aft casemate not counting the six cannon per side. We can fire a broadside of ten cannon. As for the hull, the Dunderkarak is built of iron-wood with iron plates bolted onto an iron-wood frame. The sides of the casemate and hull have a thickness of iron-wood backing of seven feet. The deck and hull is then plated over with four inches of armor plate. The hull has a double bottom, collision bulkheads, watertight bulkheads, and armored gratings in the funnel to prevent debris from entering. It has a very prominent ram, a solid fifty foot piece of oak sheathed in iron. The engineering guild has equipped the Dunderkarak with two engines, which drive a single iron shaft which is designed for a maximum speed of fifteen knots. Six steam boilers feed steam into the two engines. In addition to her two engines, she also has a light brigantine sail rig with two small masts. Up on the mast is where some of our Drak Varr Rangers stand their watches as they search the seas for vessels. I could not wait to step aboard.

It was here that Drazhgrund stopped reading. There was more to read but if he continued then he and the class would be here until after dark and not even his assurances would set aside the concern of Dawi parents. He told the class that he would finish the letter at a later date but it was now time to head back down the long winding stairs into the heart of Kraka Draka within Mount Sjoktraken. Later that night after they were all in the common room the Rusty Harpoon and after the dinner plates were cleared away Kari finished reading Finn Harokson’s letter.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 22 June 2007 - 05:39 AM.

#22 Skull Krusher

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 02:12 AM

Kraka Draka - Party Twenty-one

It was a fortnight later that Drazhgrund got another letter from Finn Harokson of Clan Oakenstave. He and Lord Hergar Sharpblade Rorekson sat sharing a keg of ale when the Dawi children came quietly into the room took their customary seats upon the fur rugs that covered the floor and then Kari set mugs of kvass, and plates of cheese, bread, and fruit beside each of them. She set plates of the same before the Gormtrommi Drak Varr Ranger and Drazhgrund then she and Skornia, the Priestess of Valaya sat down to their own repast.

They had just finished eating when young Finni stood. “Lord Hergar, sir. I have a question.” Finni asked as he looked to Priestess Skornia whose stern look had quieted more than one young Dawi child but not Finni. Hergar looked at Drazhgrund who smiled at him as he himself wondered how Finni knew the King’s Drak Varr Ranger and he nodded to Finni to continue.

“Sir, I do not mean to be disrespectful but just who is the best quarreler shot in the King’s Drak Varr Rangers? You, Sven Thunderklad Brokkson, or my uncle, Finn Harokson? Uncle Finn said that there was to be a quarreler Dar but his ship, Dunderkarak and the Throng with many other ships departed Sjoktraken and the Clan never got to hear who won.” Finni respectfully asked and quickly sat down as he waited for the answer with his fingers crossed behind his back. Lord Hergar Sharpblade Rorekson chuckled and then he began to laugh and everyone wondered what was so funny.

“Young Master Finni you bear a striking resemblance to your uncle Finn in more ways than one. But to answer your question, no this year I am not the best shot amongst the King’s Drak Varr Rangers nor am I the second best. The Dar consisted of one hundred shots at various targets under various combat situations. Your uncle out shot me by five quarrel shots and out shot Thane Brokkson by two shots scoring ninety eight hits out of one hundred ranking your uncle amongst the best quarreler champions in the Drak Varr naval history since we have been keeping records.” Lord Hergar stated. When Finni heard the results he immediately asked how old you had to be to be a Kings Drak Varr Ranger.

Both Hergar and Drazhgrund smiled but Priestess Skornia said “Not for many for years not until you are 30 years old and spent at least two years in the mines.” Seeing the downturn faces Drazhgrund rescued the situation by pulling out Finn Harokson latest letter. Lord Hergar excused himself and made his way out of the room but not before he knelt beside Finni and whispered in his ear and gave him a gold chain with a miniature varrdrak wrapped in an anchor, chain and ropes before leaving which reignited the smile on his face and he turned his attention to Drazhgrund.

Zhomerzet – Day 33
My Lord Drazhgrund,

As you well know the Norsca Expendionary Force left Sjoktraken four days ago. This was the first time I have ever traveled our nautical Ungruvalk. When I had first heard about it I thought it was just one long Ungruvalk that linked harbor of Mount Sjoktraken to the Draksfjord on the coast of the Sea of Claws. Little did I know that it was a nautical Ungruvalk consisting of twenty sets of locks that lowered and raised our ships as little as twenty feet to as much as eighty feet as we travel the length of the Ungruvalk and each lock is gravity fed from various underground water supplies. The Ungruvalk is a uniform one hundred ten feet wide and twenty feet deep with high vaulted ceilings. Despite the height of the ceilings we still had to lower the two masts of the Dunderkarak.

On either side of the Ungruvalk are broad tow-roads utilized by the draft ponies that pull each ship along the entire length of the Ungruvalk since we can not use our sails due to lack of wind and it would be inadvisable to fire up our steam boilers as it would fill the whole Ungruvalk with smoke and make the air unbreathable and rowing the Dunderkarak would be near impossible. It took us nearly four long days for the ships to transit the nautical Ungruvalk that links Sjoktraken with our seaport of Draksfjord upon coast of the Sea of Claws which is much better than circumnavigating the whole of Norsca. Like Sjoktraken the seaport of Draksfjord lies hidden in the remains of a flooded and shattered volcano. One side of the volcano and been blown out by an ancient eruption over a millennia ago, long, long before we Dawi came to Norsca. The open side of the volcano is open to the sea and nothing can be seen inside the harbor from the landward side. Draksfjord lies protected and hidden from the forces of chaos and our enemies. For added protection there numerous barges that look like floating mountains with actual growing trees. These barges are chained and anchored into position across opening into the harbor that from a distance makes it look like there is no opening what so ever. The barges are only pulled away to allow our ships to come in and leave. The barges also are crewed and have numerous cannons pointing seaward.

When we had finished our transit, the Ungruvalk doors that look so much like the side of the volcano slowly opened on mighty hinges and our fleet glided out of the Ungruvalk under the cover of darkness and moored along side the quays of the port city of Draksfjord where we immediately began setting our masts back into place and reran the rigging and furled the sails and made ready for getting underway for the port city of Erengrod, Kislev in two days. Tomorrow is the first day of Fornskrak as well as Skraksdeg the fourth Ancestor Feast Day of the year and it is only fitting that we use that day to honor our Ancestors as we embark for our mission to the land of Sigmar.

Fornskrak – Day 2
Our fleet of ten ships sailed yesterday. Some of the Throng are varr-sick and long to be back ashore and would have rather had fought their way through Troll Country than sail in this storm tossed Sea of Claws. Our Thane Sven Thunderklad Brokkson who commands the Kings Drak Varr Rangers aboard the Dunderkarak as well as all the others aboard the other ships says that we are sailing for the mouth of the Lynsk Rier which is the nominal boarder between Troll Country and northern Kislev. I am told that the river passes through both Erengrad and Praag as it flows down from the World’s Edge Mountains. Some of the crew have been to Praag and mentioned a brothel called The Red Rose that figures high in nearly all their narratives as well as The White Boar that serves excellent Kislev ale. Only if we had the time to indulge in such activities.

Fornskrak – Day 4
We came under attack by a dozen Chaos Marauder ships. I was on watch in the crow’s nest high above the ship atop the main mast. When Ulther my fellow shipmate bellowed out “sail” and opening the voice tube that ran all the way down the mast and connected us to the ships bridge once again he yelled out “sails on the starboard beam”. Other crewman on the flag bridge hoisted signal flags to alert the other ships in company and those that were steam powered moved into position to protect those that were powered only by the wind. Four steam ships to protect six though each and every ship of the fleet had cannon and veteran crews to fire them and could very well protect themselves from a one on one fight.

In accordance with the Flag captains orders the four steam ships turned toward the enemy forming an arrow point formation with the Dunderkarak in the point. From my vantage point high above the deck Ulther and I could see that the Chaos Marauder ships were pack with warriors and soon their lead ship fired a ranging shot that fell short. I could feel the ship shudder and the engineers fed more coal to the fires and soon Dunderkarak was pulling ahead of her consorts as our Captain aimed his ship into the center of the battle line where their flagship was. Our four ships were bow on to their dozen ships and soon the fall of a dozen cannon shots splashed just short of us and still the engines pushed us toward the enemy. The enemy fired again in unison and we were hit by only two rounds that bounced off the bow armor. We had yet to fire a shot yet I knew we could have been pounding them long before they could have gotten into range. Suddenly the Dunderkarak turns hard to port just as we penetrate the Chaos Marauder battle line and then the four bow cannon open fire and then the six cannon in each broadside fire into the enemy fleet and then the four stern cannon fire. I watched as one of our cannon shot smashed through the side of what looked to be a captured Bretonnian two-deck warship taking out the railing, plow through about ten marauder crewman before smacking to the base of the main mast where it punched a hole through the giant main mast that stood for a second than fell upon the main deck but most of the mast and sails fell over the side of the ship creating a drag that swung the ship violently to port right into the patch of one of their own consorts that rammed it amidships and soon both ships began sinking. As we continued our turn to port I suddenly saw through the great clouds of cannon smoke that the Chaos flagship was directly ahead us and then Ulther and I braced for impact as the collision bells rang. Our fifty foot long solid oak ram shaped like a sharp beak which was armored with steel hit the Chaos flagship amidships caving in the fragile wooden hull as the force of the Dunderkarak charging in at 15kts knot rode up upon the dying ship breaking its back and shoving in under water as the Dunderkarak continued on as if it had only hit a small wavelet. All the while our cannon crews fired directly into the enemy fleet as our quarrelers stationed upon the bridge fired upon the visible enemy. Then our consorts came into the fight and they finished off the helpless drifting wrecks. Not one enemy ship survived and soon none of the enemy sailors would either as the icy cold waters of the Sea of Claws claim them one and all. But the varr battle was not over. For miraculously the captain of the enemy flag ship with his bodyguard had at the last moment jumped from the second deck of their dying ship to land upon the main deck of the Dunderkarak. How they survived the cannon fire I will never know. Some did not as we could see parts of several bodies upon our decks where our own cannon as we fired had cut them in half. As the enemy advance toward the bridge and cannon ports slammed shut, and the quarrelers began to repel boarders. Ulther and I dropped a pair of them before they charged the bridge only to stop short because the bridge crew had pulled up the ladders. There was no way for them to enter the ship since all hatches could only be opened from within the ship. They were trapped above decks with no where to go. Thane Sven called for them to surrender why I did not know at the time but found out later was so that they could gather information on any other enemy ship activity in the area. They refused and tried to form a human ladder to climb the sloping casemate to gain access to the life boats that are stored up there. But one of the engineers pointed a steam nozzle upon them and boiled four of them alive as their flesh fell away from their bones like so much cooked meat. Even sixty five feet above the deck the smell was terrible. Still they refused to surrender and then we fired upon them killing all but one, the enemy captain who stood there upon the deck with a quarreler bolt in his shoulder and his remaining crew dead at his feet. Then a hatch opened and Thane Sven strode out upon the deck and called for his surrender. The enemy nodded as if in agreement and then suddenly charged. Sven reached back and pulled his two handed battle axe from across his back and counter charged. We all watched as they slammed into one another. Sven ducked a swipe that would have taken his head as he swung his own weapon that slammed into the marauder cutting him in half. It was over except the swabbing of the deck to remove the dead bodies and to check for damage as we steamed back to rejoin the rest of our fleet There was no damage nary a scratch to show where two shots had bounced off our armor.

Fornskrak – Day 6
After steaming nearly 500 nautical miles since departing Draksfjord we arrived just as night falls off the mouth of the Lynsk Rier. Rather that risk passing over the bar and running aground on any uncharted shoals during the night we decide to anchor nearly a mile off shore. The captain tells us to expect river pilots at dawn and that they will be flying the flag of Kislev and were to escort us over the bar and upriver on our journey to Erengrad where we are to disembark before the Throng marches overland. The watches are doubled since we are basically anchored off the beach of Troll Country which is to the north of the river. But the night passes peacefully.

Fornskrak – Day 7
The river pilots arrive just as the sun rose in the east over the World Edge Mountain to bath the Empire in bright sunshine. Soon after they arrived we weighted anchor and made our way over the bar steaming up river till we reached the Port City of Erengrad. Once again the fleet anchored but this time middle of the river rather than tie up to the quay wall and docks. The Captain said it was a standard precaution against unwanted stowaways, human, rats, or otherwise and it has been a Dawi policy ever since Kraka Draka began sailing the seas. No one that is not a Dawi loads or off loads our ships in order to safeguard our ships and eventually our Holds. Once anchored with our bows pointing downstream we began offloading all our equipment and supplies onto our own cutters and then the Throng disembarked as our own ships boats transport the Throng from the ship to the shore.

I watched the Throng march away till they disappeared from sight. I was no long a King’s Drak Ranger but a King’s Drak Varr Ranger and with some misgivings I turned to the task of preparing the storerooms for loading trade goods that our King and clans had bargained for. After the manifests were checked to ensure that what the merchant clans representing the four Holds of Norsca purchased were accounted for our own boats loaded our ships. It took us two days to load all ten ships and when we were done we followed the river pilots down stream and headed back to Norsca and home. From what I understand we will head back to Draksfjord where we will off load our merchandize, recoal and then our four steam ironclad vessels will patrol the Sea of Claws in search of Chaos shipping and those who support Chaos and send them to the bottom of the sea. Hopefully there will be some price money involved. During our last varr battle we gained nothing but the glory and thanks from our king which in itself is not bad thing but you can not spend gratitude on a keg of ale.

When he had finished reading the letter Drazhgrund called young Finni forward and handed his uncle’s letter to him. The class under the guidance of the priestess and Kari depart leaving Lord Hergar and Drazhgrund quietly discussing the King’s Drak Varr Ranger and Drak Ranger deployments.[/color]


Drazhgrund sat smoking as Kari brought the latest dispatches from Kislev. Noting that the seal of Durazklad was not broken he turned up the lamp broke the seal and slowly began to read.

Fornskrak - Day 28
Lord Drazhgrund,
Uncle we are now one day away from arriving at our rendezvous point with the rest of the Dawi Throngs marching west from the World’s Edge Mountains who like us our converging upon The Talabec Boarders and the Headless Badger. But I digress. First let me bring you and the King up to date since the Throng left Erengrad.

…turning our backs on our brethren anchored in the middle of the Lynsk River the Throng mustered upon the quay wall with Lord Stromni Ragnison of the Durazklad clan who stood waiting with his assembled Thanes under the banner of the Norsca Expeditionary Force; a banner that had been quartered and held the symbols of all four Dawi Holds of Norsca as our unit quartermasters quickly directed us to our supplies which had been divided up amongst the entire Throng. It was our engineers with their war machines that had the heaviest burden but breaking with traditional mountain campaigning where we at times used snow sleds; we have hired our Dawi kin the Gazani who live and work in the kingdom of Kislev to load the majority of our campaign supplies into wagons and they themselves drive the teams. We have even placed the war machines into two reinforced wagons. All total we have four wagons pulled by teams of four oxen per wagon. When all is ready we form up and begin marching in column, our iron shod boots hitting the cobblestone of the streets in cadence that echoed down the street ahead of us warning all of our coming. If that was not enough it was the steady drum beats and the blowing of the drak horns that warned the citizens of Erengrad to clear the streets to make way as we left their city and began marching toward Kislev more than 300 miles away.

Lord Drazhgrund, I know that you are going to say that we should have marched south-south-east towards The Great Forest to the south. But Lord Stromni Ragnison has decided to march the Throng to Kislev and then hire barges to sail down the River Talabec to “The Old Forest” and the Headless Badger that lies 400 miles down stream. Lord Rangison’s reasoning is that we can resupply in Kislev send any messages back to Norsca via the Dawi Steam Packets that travel regularly between the Norsca and Kislev. He figures that traveling via river barges is much faster than marching, and will consume less supplies, than we would have by marching. He does not wish to place a hardship upon the citizens of Kislev by foraging for supplies that are badly needed elsewhere. He wants us fresh and ready for a fight instead of just plain tired out by marching directly towards The Talabec Boarders. Once we arrived in Kislev Lord Stromni’s staff was invited to the palace where we were favorably impressed by the grandeur of the Ice Palace as well as the Tzarina herself and her sword. Our Runesmith dearly wanted to handle that deadly weapon to learn it’s secrets and perhaps he himself could fashion a mighty rune that could do the same. One good thing came of our dinner at the Ice Palace. The ruler of Kislev has reaffirmed her alliance with Norsca by sending along two squadrons of horse archers to accompany us as far as The Talabec Boarders. They will scout both sides of the Talabec River and report back to us any thing of interest.

I remember you telling me about the last time you were in Kislev. You told me it was a land of ice and snow were winter never lifts. I actually, it is a land of rolling plains, thick forests of pine. Kislev has a brief but intense summer and right now I wish it was winter for the weather is too "I swear too much" hot. It is only comfortable in the wee early morning hours.

Well Uncle, in two days we will have arrived at the Headless Badger and set up a defensive primeter to protect the inn which we will use as a base of operations. I will send you weekly dispatches concerning the NEF to keep hearth and kin appraised

The letter ended here and was signed by his great, great, great, grand nephew Morgrim Stromnison of Clan Durazklad. Drazhgrund stood and left the room and a little while later, knocked on the King’s private chambers where King Thorin studies the scouting reports. But today he was not reading he was playing a game of chess with his daughter Kalea and his other daughter Kettra sat watching but she was more interested in reading the scouting reports. The three of them looked up when Drazhgrund entered but since he entered the room in the capacity of the Drak-Hammerer lord who gave a short bow as he entered and not as their Throngrink they remained seated. When Drazhgrund sat in one of the other soft chairs near the fire Thorin looked up from his game when Drazhgrund asked who was winning. “She is!” He said with some exasperation but also with pride since it was his daughter. “Kalea has taken me three games to one and I am afraid she has this one as well.” With a sigh he noted the papers in Drazhgrund’s hand, “More reports?” Drazhgrund nodded and handed them over. When Thorin finished reading the he handed them to Kettra. “So they could have already taken the Headless Badger already and we have heard nothing as of yet?” Drazhgrund nodded in the affirmative. Then the King changed the topic.

“I hear you had to rescue a new Drak Hammerer recruit from Kalea today.” Thorin said with a little mirth. “Are the recruits getting worse or is 13 year old daughter much better.”

Kalea face held a blush for a moment then commented, “Well Lord Drazhgrund would not of had to rescue anyone if he would have at least fought back. Father I had asked Drak Hammerer Grom to spar with me he laughed. That was when I attacked him. Kettra just started laughing at me as well because all Grom did was parry my blows not once did he attack and I battered him for a good half mark before he asked for quarter.”

“Only because three of your strikes got past his shield and guard Kalea.” Drazhgrund said with some pride and King Thorin looked just as proud.

“But the other Drak Hammers did not have to start chanting Kalea, Kalea, Kalea! I am not sure if they were mocking me or praising me. I told them that I as going to be just like Queen Bjornhild Chaosbane.” She said with some termination.

Both Thorin and Drazhgrund looked at her when she said this and then her father the king asked. “So Kalea you want to be Queen?’ Kalea nodded yes and then he replied, “Kalea for you to be Queen of Kraka Draka, I have to die!” he said in a soft voice. Kalea broke down and began to cry as he gathered her into his arms.

Later that night before retiring Kalea entered the Temple of Valaya which like all of Valaya temples is always located close to the Queen’s chambers. She always liked this temple more than the other temples to the Ancestor Gods. Frescoes on the walls depicted scenes from Dawi life and many of the frescoes here depicted life in Kraka Draka, though some of the oldest frescos closer to the altar depicted scenes from the “Long Migration”. Statues of the Ancestor Goddess flanked the altar. It was here, where she and her sister, Kettra with their mother the Queen has made many offerings. The statue to the left shows Valaya’s peaceful aspect: un-armoured, with a healthy infant in one arm and a tankard of ale in the free hand. The other statue shows her as protector of her children: clad in a mail coat and helmet with a shield held before her and her axe raised. It was this statue that Kalea liked most. Her mother, Queen Vala Bredadottier had taken her and her sister to the other Shrines to Valaya located in the various clan domiciles and breweries and though the main Temple where she stood was maintained by the clergy the smaller ones were maintained by the residents. But tonight she came to make an offering the Valaya for long life for her father and carefully placed ring of gold that she had made from three strands of her own long golden hair wrapped in fine gold wire a gift that she had made herself she also left a small keg of her very first ale she had ever brewed. Then she slowly backed away and when she reached the door she turned and left little noticing that a single altar candle had burst into flame.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 September 2007 - 06:11 PM.

#23 Skull Krusher

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 04:38 AM

Kraka Draka - Party Twenty Two

King Thorin and Drazhgrund sat reading over the latest dispatches from the Empire as so far both were pleased about the way it things were going. King Thorin bid his Throngrink a good evening as Drazhgrund sought his own quarters. He still held the dispatch from Morgrim Stromnison and he half wished he had accompanied or perhaps lead the Throng himself he used but hen he was glad he did not especially when he saw Kari waiting outside his quarters for him.

“Enemy of my enemy is my friend” they replied in Elvish almost in unison to the news that was brought to them. Then both commanders, Dawi and Wood Elf turned towards their own forces calmly arraying them for battle as the quiet sounds of the forest around them erupted with snapping limbs, braying, and the ominous trod of hoofed beasts of Chaos.

Morik Ragnison, of clan Oakenstave thought little of the coming battle but rather on what had occurred earlier. The Throng’s line of march since leaving the Kislev town of Zwolen and crossing over the Urskoy River via the Talabec ferry had brought it through this small section of the forest. He could have suggested to Lord Stromni Ragnison to altered their path but he had no intention to do so since he chose this particular route for a reason and that was to honor a debt a debt to an enemy, who later became a friend and Lord Stromni agreed with the route for other reasons, a chance to gain possible allies and to search this area for the crown.

The Throng had arrived in the clearing earlier in the morning. A clearing that was not entirely natural since over time this low depression which had once in it’s previously life had been a small lake or pond and had slowly filled in around the edges turning into a marsh then into a meadow surrounded by the forest that slowly encroached in upon it. What was not natural was the large rock carving that stood in exactly the center of what would have been the lake. A pillar of living rock whose roots were anchored deep within bedrock far below the surface of the forest. But it was no longer a pillar but a tribute to his dead enemy who became his friend. The two of them had fought and killed the Chaos Beast herd that dwelled here but unknown to him Gelmir Nénmacil had received his death wound as the last of the enemy fell dead. Morik spent nearly a year carving, turning the rock pillar into a representation of the eldest tree and placed inside the rock in a secret chamber the remains of Gelmir Nénmacil.

Today he honored that debt by planting four saplings he had brought all the way down from Norsca. The Throng watched as he carefully planted a sapling at the cardinal points around the tomb of Gelmir Nénmacil. He dug the holes deep and taking out a bag of specially prepared mulch he dumped some in each of the holes before unwrapping the root ball coverings placing sapling upright in the holes packing the earth firmly around each sapling. Then he poured ale from a small keg to moisten the ground. Around each sapling he placed four small Dawi engraved warding stones and when he was done he brought forth his family heirloom an old Beastman war horn that his ancestor, Yorri Drazhson had acquired back during the time of Queen Bjornhild Chaosbane over 7000 years ago. The horn had changed much in the long span of time. Now it was gold wire wrapped, with intricate Dawi runes carefully carved around the entire horn. He blew the horn four times to honor the four ancestor gods and then once more in honor of his friend.

As the last notes echoed through the forest a lone Wood Elf stepped out of the forest into the clearing. His bow within its bow sheath upon his back and a long sword still in its scabbard tied down with an honor knot. That much Lord Stromni could see as he ordered his Throng to stand down as Morik walked forward toward the Wood Elf well aware that the Wood Elf was not alone and that there was without a doubt more than arrow pointed directly at Morik if not himself but it did not deter his orders. It was a roll of the dice and he trusted Morik.

“You came back?” the Wood Elf said as Morik nodded. “You still wear it the token Gelmir gave you. Why? Why do you still wear the token of trust that only an Wood Elf friend would wear.”

“You know the reason, so why ask?” Morik stated mildly.

“To hear it once again that an Elf and a Dwarf can be friends.” The Wood Elf replied.

“So be it. Mage Lord Gelmir Nénmacil was my friend. A friend for over 150 seasons and he died as a friend and I honored my friend today and now I will honor his friend by offering him this.” Morik reached into his cloak and removed a small box. Opening it he removed a necklace of gold from which hung a single medallion. On one side was an engraved image of a tree and on the other side was the image of a mountain and around the rim of the medallion in Khazalid runic script was the word – Friend and Kraka Draka. He handed it to the Wood Elf who held it high over her head and turned toward the forest where she knew her forces were watching and turned again to face Morik and the Dwarves behind him.

“Morik son of Ragni of Clan Oakenstave, I am your friend” as she placed the necklace around her neck. It was then that scouts from both armies came running to report what they had just spotted.

They fought together, side by side and the combined forces of Dawi and Wood Elf defeated the Chaos Beastman.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 30 June 2007 - 04:47 PM.

#24 Magnund Falgrimsson

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 08:35 AM

What a magnificent tale, Skull Krusher! Some say my ancestors, the Varrgottal clan, were from Norsca. They settled in Barak Varr, before my dad moved us to a suburb of Karak Hirn called Urbaz Troggdal.
Skull Krusher, you are undoubtedly one of the greatest storytellers I have ever read! Have you published your glorious history in a (human) book, yet? If so, I would gladly buy it!
Please have a round or two on Lord Firmshaft's tab! All that tale-spinning must have made you very thirsty! drinks.gif

#25 Skull Krusher

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 03:12 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Twenty Three

* * *

Ten days later another dispatch had arrived and it was due to Lord Stromni Raginson taking advantage as well as a signing a few trading concessions between Kislev and Kraka Draka, the Tzarina ordered one of the river ships to be used as an official dispatch ship upon the Urskoy River as well as detachment of horse archers to server as dispatch riders between the Talbec Boarders and the port city of Erengrad where Kraka Draka steamships would sail north to Norsca bearing the latest dispatches from the Norsca Expeditionary Force. In this way both rulers would be kept appraised of what was happening inside the Old Forest of the Empire.

Morgrim Stromni sat in the corner of the room. His head ached more from the four stitches in his scalp than from the wound itself and the fact that he had already emptied several tankards help alleviate the dull ache. But he still had his duty to do as he wrote up the battle report for his father since his father and Morik were still discussing with Graf Sebastian today’s successful battle. Where did he start, how to explain the sheer intensity of noise of battle with feeling of being totally alone on the battlefield filled with blood crazed warrior who wanted nothing more than to kill you. Perhaps at the beginning he mused.

Fornskrak 33
Your Highness, King Thorin I bring you glad tidings. Once again the Throng of Kraka Draka, the Norsca Expeditionary Force was victorious on the field of battle. Two days ago, on the 31st day of Fornskrak Lord Stromni lead us unerringly to the Headless Badger. Seeing the strategic importance of the fortified inn we decide to use the inn as a base camp as we search the Old Forest for Alaric’s wayward crown. After we had settled into the inn we quickly began knocking small holes through the outer walls of the inn in order for our quarrelers to have an opportunity to shoot at any advancing forces and entrenched our flame cannon war machine to cover the courtyard gate and the low walls to either side of the flame cannon. All this was done prior to nightfall not to mention cleaning and repairing the inn’s poor brewery in the basement of the inn. At least we would have some decent ale instead of this watered down watered down stuff they call beer in the Empire. All the while our sentries stood their post watching the Old Forest Road for any sign of brethren and Empire allies that were to meet us here.

But when the dawn rose on the 32 day of Fornskrak our allies had yet to arrive. We know from reports that High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer, our own King’s far distant cousin had signed an alliance treaty with some Ogres but the dispatch that we found waiting for us when we arrived neglected to give the Ogre commanders name or the name of his army. The owner of the inn informed us that there were reports of an Ogre army marching towards something called “the Hanging Tree.” He also said that the last merchant caravan to arrive the day before we arrived had reported seeing tracks and other signs of a large group of Grob in the area. The day passed without incident as we continue to guard and work enhancing the defenses. Grey bearded Morik Ragnison the Gormtrommi who commands the Quarrelers has one of his units out clearing the vegetation for about a Quarreler shot around the inn. Of course he has one of Táralammot’s Wood Elves with him, a liaison of sorts, who points out which trees can be removed and more often than not they are ones that are dead or dying of some wood disease. We touch not those that are in good health or those that are sacred. I am still under the opinion that wood is only good for burning and we should just clear the area by putting it all to the torch but Morik nearly took my head off when I suggested this, my mistake. Still any cover that is removed only enhances our own defenses.

During the night the Throng commanded by Thane Raymond arrived as well as an army lead by Graf Sebastian the Empire Commander. Both armies apparently had gotten lost and half their forces were strung out still on the march as their lead units set up bivouac outside the walls of the the inn. Seeing the lack of discipline did not give me much faith in our brethren or our Empire allies

In was early in the morning of Fornskrak 33 that the sentries reported something strange happening out along the edges of the forest to the east and along the road to the south. The unit of Quarrelers I am attached to is inside the inn on the second floor where they have punched holes through the walls in order to have clear fields of fire. From up there they reported seeing small animals fleeing from the forest followed by the sounds of birds cawing out in alarm as they too took wing fleeing that particular area of the woods. Then Florin my sharp eyed Quarreler spotted the enemy and he called out their composition down to Lord Stromni as the Ogre Lead Belchers, Chaos Knights, Chaos Warriors, and Chaos Minotaurs, followed by Wolf Riders, Goblin warriors, Goblin Chariots, a bunch of goblins pulling some bolt throwers, and three units of Orcs lead by a huge Black Ork warboss riding an armored boar all stepped out of the forest and began to array themselves for battle and they all were heading directly for the Headless Badger.

Soon the battle horns of Kraka Draka blew loud and clear through the early morning light. I took my place with the Quarrelers in the inn with the orders to shoot all that come within range. As I watched out the window I saw my father, Lord Stromni align his Longbeards facing the courtyard wall that was closest to the enemy and Morik Ragnison placed his unit of Quarrelers blocking the main gate to the courtyard as our Flame Cannon crew ready their war machine. Looking over the walls to our allies I saw the men of the Empire hastily pulling on their cloths and grabbing their weapons as their units were mustered. The Empire cannon that was placed on a distant hill I gave little thought to it since I knew they were to be the first to die, since they had no support and the Wolf Riders would soon be tearing into their flesh. Little did I know how true and how soon that would happen? Our brethren at least slept with their mail on and quickly strapped their helmets on as they quickly formed into two units of clansman that were about to face three units of Orcs.

As the Kraka Draka horns sounded, so did the horns of Chaos and the Orc drums as they began they approached within charging distance. As they did I vaguely heard the reply from the relief force of Thane Raymond’s lost units as they marched at the double quick onto the field and so to, did more units of the Empire.

The enemy charged! Not the walls but around the inn. My unit of Quarrelers inside on the second floor fired down upon the Goblin chariots and Chaos Knights as they swarmed past the inn toward to Empire troops. I saw nine bolts bounce off the Knights with no affect as if their armor was Dawi made. To our right a saw the Goblins charge the walls only to be beaten back and counter charged by Lord Stromni’s Longbeards as they overran and killed the Goblins as they later reformed behind the Chaos Warriors ready to charge them. Then the six minotaur came charging up and tried to break their way through the stout walls of the inn only to be beaten back by our well swung great weapons. I had enough time to look out the window towards my father, Lord Stromni to note that he and the Longbeards were in hand to hand fighting with the Chaos Warriors. Looking toward Morik Ragnison the old grey bearded Gormtrommi, I saw that he had his unit of Quarrelers formed up just inside gate as three units of Orcs came charge up. Two of the units swept past the gate as they charged Thane Raymond’s Throng and were soon locked into mortal combat. The biggest orc unit lead by a Black Orc War Boss ridging a boar came charging toward the courtyard gates into a massed volley of Quarreler shots and soon they were into hand to hand combat. I looked down and saw that the flame cannon crew had turned their gun towards the gate incase Morik’s Quarrelers gave way. But it was the flame cannon crew who gave way when an errant flame touched off an explosion that disabled the war machine. As Morik Quarrelers were locked into combat I noted that a small unit of Quarrelers belonging to Thane Raymond climbed the walls and took position of one of the small buildings inside the courtyard and soon their volley fire was added to ours as we dropped more and more of the enemy.

Then a loud roar went up as one of the orc units broke and overran Thane Raymond’s clan warriors killing the Thane and his warriors as they continued on slamming into a Organ gun war machine that was just setting up having just arrived. They were overrun as the Orcs continued into a small unit of Thunders that were there for support. Neither unit held and were soon overwhelmed. But the groans were out weighed by the cheering as I looked again and saw Morik and his Quarrelers who were locked into combat with the Black Orc Warboss and his unit break the Orcs not once but twice before completely overrunning the unit, killing the war boss and capturing their battle standard. Not to be outdone I looked toward Lord Stromni who did just the same thing as his Longbeards finally killed the Chaos Warriors capturing two standards which included the army battle standard. The only bright spot during the battle for Thane Raymond was his Longbeards who finally arrived in time to charge into and destroy the third orc unit that had killed their own Thane.

It was deafening, the quiet after the battle. My Quarrelers had fired and fired into the Chaos Knights, the Minotaurs, and Ogres until there was nothing left but three Chaos Knights and three Ogres who fled the battle but not before ripping huge chunks out of the dying horses for something to eat as they fled.

My lord King Thorin, we carried the day and fought well. Not all of those who fell have died and many of our Dawi will heal in time for us to continue to hold the Inn and search the woods for the crown. But I can not say the same for Graf Sebastian’s men who took nearly 65% casualties and Thane Raymond’s Throng who now has only two surviving units a unit of Longbeards and a unit of Quarrelers. With the death of Thane Raymond they have decided to throw their lot in with us. On a side note there are now a lot of expatriate Dawi who live in the surrounding cities of the Empire and Kislev who are now sending able bodied Dawi to our banner, the Banner of Kraka Draka and of Norsca. If the High King will not take them in then I am sure the Dawi of Norsca will.

Your obedient servant,
Morgrim Stromnison

#26 Skull Krusher

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 04:07 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Twenty Four

1st day of Adderskrak
The stench was terrible, at least the dead did not stink in Norsca after a battle of course that had something to do with the cold but even in the summer months it was not this bad. Summer in the Empire was unbearable, the members of his unit on burial detail wanted to strip to the waist as they dug large pits in the earth under the eaves of the forest. But Morik would have none of it. He always was chanting to himself that armor is our friend and vigilance is the price of a long life. So they dug in full armor, great weapons slung over their backs and crossbows close at hand as they dug pits that would soon be filled with the dead enemy from yesterday’s battle. If the smell was not bad enough it was the constant drone of flies that made it nearly impossible to hear what was being said. Morik’s pet Wood Elf told them where to bury the dead, how they were to be buried, and lastly what sapling would be planted atop the burial mound. Legs were to go in one pit, arms in another, body in another, and the heads in a fourth pit. Each hole was nearly one hundred paces apart and when I asked why Morik said it was it was necessary that the Wood Elf explained it made it impossible for any necromancer to come around later and raise an undead army. Thinking about it sort of made sense.

But the flies were unbearable annoyance and if he had not know better he would have thought they were under attack by a Chaos Nurgle army. That was when he heard it, not the constant drone of the flies but the distant clip clop of hoof beats. He was not the only one to notice; already Morik had his unit of Quarrelers already in formation just in front of the gate to the Headless Badger. Morik motioned him to form his unit Quarrelers just inside the edge of the shadows of the woods parallel with the road. Then he heard the Drak Horns of Norsca blowing loudly as Lord Stromni’s Longbeards formed up and the two surviving Empire Knights units of Graf Sebastian. There were less of them than yesterday but having been reinforced with the remnants of Thane Rungnis units the Norsca Expeditionary Forces was above full strength and the only exception was the flame cannon that had malfunctioned. The crew men were still hard at work trying to make repairs.

The sound of hoofs became louder and soon everyone could hear the sound of the steady beat of marching infantry. Then the noise stopped as the unknown army came around the bend in the road no longer hidden by the forest. More Elves, not the Wood Elves belonging to Morik’s so called friend but High Elves. Their armor was splendid, almost new, and they slowly formed into a line of battle as they came forward and finally stopped almost in front of Morgrim’s Quarrelers presenting their flank to him well within charge range as they strung their long bows. Beyond the Elven archers were a unit of spearman and a unit of swordsman, a small unit of Cavalry with spears about five strong and then lastly the bolt thrower on the far end of the line. They stood there for about one hundred heartbeats as the two senior High Elf Warriors argued over something but it then appeared that the female Elf mage had one the argument for she said something to the trumpeter who raised his sea serpent like horn to his mouth and sounded the charge.

The Elven notes no sooner ended than Morgrim ordered a volley into the flank of the Elf longbow. Our quarrels were still in the air when upon my order our Quarreler musician sounded the charge as well. Between the deadly impact of our volley fire and are equally unexpected charge into their flank the quarrelers destroyed the Elf bowman as our charge hit the Elf spearman in mid stride as our great weapons carved a bloody path through their flank into the heart oft their unit causing them to rout into their own comrades. Morgrim told me afterwards that he half expected to be shot by some of our own Quarrelers from Morik’s unit but he had ordered them to hold their fire when Morik saw Morgrim’s impetuous charge wreck havoc on the High Elves. It was his father who ordered or requested that Graf Sebastian’s mounted knights charge the High Elves and when the Elves saw the knights move from a slow trot to a gallop they cut and run leaving their dead behind.

As the dust slowly settle in the summer heat, the drone of flies could be heard again now that the clatter of hoof beats slowly faded away as the survivors of the High Elves continued their flight with the Empire Knights following in a half hearted pursuit just to ensure that they did not return. Morik’s tame Wood Elf made an appearance not long after this latest skirmish as was taken aback when he saw his kin’s lifeless bodies laying in the heat of the sun as the carrion birds came winging in to feast upon fresh flesh. After some discussion he walked away returning a candle mark later with about thirty Wood Elves on horses who came and removed the dead Elven bodies. It was just as well since Morgrim doubt the Wood Elf would have wanted us to bury their kin as we were burying the dead from yesterday’s battle.

Brogar put down his quill for the evening as he finished writing a letter to his kin and his King. He was tired, not from the battle of yesterday or today’s skirmish but from the summer heat. The coolest place to sleep at night was in the cellar of the Headless Badger. At least the coolness of the cellar’s stone walls helped him sleep.

#27 Skull Krusher

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 12:01 AM

Kraka Draka - Party Twenty Five

Morgrim Stromnison sat up against a tree. A tree so large that it reminded him of the west coast of Norsca where elder trees grow taller and wider. Not these trees, these will never grow that tall. The ones up north he thought are taller than the two quarrel shots at max range and some are five times as old as the Royal Clans Throngrink and he is nearly 1000 years old. But still when he tried to explain to Morik’s tame Wood Elf our liaison he just looks at us blankly like we are simpletons. It is hard for him to imagine a tree older than an adult elf. Or maybe he is still upset about our Throng for winning the fight against the High Elfs yesterday. Who know and who cares? With that thought he removed is dispatch case and began writing a report about the latest battle to find Alaric’s lost crown.

The 4th day of Adderskrak

Your Highness, King Thorin of Kraka Draka
This is to inform you that High King Thorgrim gave us our marching orders, head for "The Tower of Moonrise" and prevent the Axehead Clan of Warboss Grim'ard Legbreaker from capturing and destroying the tower. One again we are thrown into the breech and this is not some forlorn hope. Morik Ragnison thinks that the High King thinks so poorly of his northern kin but our leader Lord Stromni Ragnison informed him that since we did so well in the last battle and are at full strength, many thanks to the survivors from the Throng of Caerbannog that we can secure the tower until the rest of the High King's army arrives.

Your highness I am tired of writing next of kin letters much less burying our Dawi so far from home. We fought well today but not by much. We held off the Orcs who eventually conceded the field of battle but it could have gone better. Our losses were mainly in the new troops that joined us. If they had been from Kraka Draka then I am assured they would have fought well but the new troops, though seasoned just do not have the stomach for fighting the long fight. They think everything is over once the battle is over. Well the battle may be over but the war is not.

Your obedient servant.
Morgrim Stromnison

The 5th day of Adderskrea
Lord Drazhgrund
You one told me once about incompetent RIMF’s and I can confirm that you are totally correct in your assessment. The High King of Karaz-A-Karak gave us our marching orders to Head of the Tower of Moonrise which we did with all dispatch. We had barely arrived when we engaged in battle with the Axehead Clan of Warboss Grim’hard Legbreaker and won the battle, barely. Then we receive new marching orders countermanding the original orders telling us to head for the “Hanging Tree” which is where all the other Throngs are heading. They said it was all a mistake well their mistake cost Dawi lives. We had no sooner gotten the dead buried, the wounded bandaged up when we were once again on the road marching to our new objective only to be ambushed by an abomination of undead warriors, Tomb Kings.

Fear and Terror!!! Never in the annual of Kraka Draka history have the Dawi of Norsca faced such an enemy. The undead who rise from the ground at the beck and call of their undead kings and necromancer. Only Lord Stromni "Skull Krusher" Ragnison was unafraid and the stood his ground with his Drak-Hammers as two undead bone giants charged into the Drak Hammers. Only Lord Stromni managed to overcome his fear and destroy both the unholy constructs. But still the undead rose about us cloaking us in fear, blocking out the light and the hope of life. We ran. We all ran till we no longer felt the terror knawing at our guts eating away our resolve. We ran headlong down the road back toward the Headless Badger back towards our kin.

The new day was already two candle marks old when the last of our Norsca Dawi straggled in, foot sore, weary, and a thirst that can on be quench by a bottomless keg and a full days sleep. My father Lord Stromni was the last to arrive as he and his Drak Hammers marched in cadence to their drummer as they sang songs of Norsca, songs of Hearth and Kin and it was these songs that lifted our spirits and gave us faith.

Your obedient servant,
Morgrim Stromnison

Drazhgrund put down both letters and frowned. One again the rethought his decision about not leading the Throng but the King said no. Not out of concern for his welfare but for the chance for younger Dawi, younger warriors to gain experience. He agreed with his King but in his heart he knew he should have gone. But then there was a disturbing report about a Beastman Horde moving south over the Frozen Sea towards the coast of Norsca not to far from the sea port of Sjoktraken. He picked up the two letters and the report and headed for the Kings chambers.

#28 Skull Krusher

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 03:23 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Twenty Six

The 8th day of Adderskrea
On this march Morgrim was the lead unit in the marched toward “The Hanging Tree” and unlike the Altdorf – Talabheim road that ran along a SSW/NNE line and was in eminent danger of being overtaken by the Old Forest as well as the dark denzines that dwelved within the Old Dwarf Road that ran from Black Fire Pass to Talabheim was somewhat still maintained and was much easer going despite having over 70 leagues to travel from the Headless Badger to “The Hanging Tree”. Morik said we could have taken a short cut directly across the forest cutting nearly 20 leagues off the travel. Lord Stromni said there was no such thing as a short cut through the forest, any forest for that matter that did not have clear distinct roads. Still Morik said he has assurances from the Wood Elf that the Norsca Dawi could travel safely through the forest did not sway Lord Stromni’s decision. At least the Old Dwarf Road had league markers stating how far you had traveled and how far you had to go. But still we had over two days of forced marching to reach “The Hanging Tree” by the High King Thorgrim’s deadline. As we traveled we discussed our previous battles what had gone right and what had gone wrong as well as scouting reports provided by our own scouts and the High King’s. From what we understood our Ogre allies were supposed to be marching on the city of Mattengard for what reason we had no idea. We had also heard that Joseph Bugman had been ordered by the High King to secure the Old Forest and to keep the Orc and Goblins at bay. If that was the case he missed at least two hordes of Green Skins since we had been attacked twice by the same Orc war boss and once my some other Orc war boss. They had been attacked once by Beastman and Tomb Kings not to mention twice by the High Elves. Morgrim muttered to himself as he marched along that we have done more fighting than searching for Alaric dammed crown.

The first days march in the long hot sun was grueling. The engineers pulled out a heat monitoring device and determine that it was near hot enough to cook and egg on any rock exposed to the direct sunlight for any length of time and by the time we decided to stop about mid afternoon we were nearly done in from the heat alone. The Throng camped under the eaves of the Old Forest. Morik and his tame Wood Elf indicated which trees were dead or dying and those we could cut down for use for our cooking fires and for defensive works. As the camp was being setup Morik and the engineers set about securing camp with trip ropes stretched between trees to trip up any would be attacker.

It was Florin who spotted then nay smelled them long before they were actually seen. Soon everyone could smell the musky stench of Chaos Beastman, hear their incautious tread through the forest. Here under the eaves of the forest along side the Old Dwarf Road the forest was not nearly overgrown as it was much further away from the road where the dense vegetation made it nearly impossible to see more than a few strides. But not here, here there were clear fields of fire blocked by individual trees and the brush was almost no existent. Lord Stromni using hand signals that every Dawi used in the mines to communicate silently quickly directed his Throng into battle formation. Quarrelers on either flanks protected by two formations Clansman, the two Longbeards formations held the center with the war machine setting between the Longbeards. The Dawi engineer, Brokk who spotted the Bray Shaman, and he nudged Lord Stromni with his telescope. Skull Krusher took the telescope and focused in on the Bray Shaman and with a quick sharp indrawn breath he directed runners to have the unit commanders to report to him immediately. As he waited for them to arrive he continued to survey the Beast Bray Shaman, half man half goat holding a carved staff decorated with war trophies. One such trophy captured his attention. It was a Dawi Hammer no longer than the length of his hand made of gold. Lord Stromni knew that gold icon, knew what it was beyond a shadow of a doubt despite never having seen it before in fact it had not been seen the 380th year of the founding of Kraka Draka over 6,000 years ago. He scanned the rest of the Horde as they slowly advanced looking for the Horde standard bearer and then he saw it, the standard which looked almost the same as the one that stood hanging in the audience chamber of the King. Surely this could not be the same Horde, that Horde had been killed off my Queen Bjornhild “Chaos Bane”. Perhaps this was a splinter group that had migrated from Norsca into the Empire and retained its trophies passing them on from one Bray Shaman and standard bearer to the next. Taking his eyes away from the advancing Horde in handed the telescope to Morik who took one look and was close to rage as the handed it to the other leaders for he had spotted something further, three captive Wood Eves, bound and gagged. There would be no quarter, for every single one of them knew that that golden hammer belonged to King Thorin Talonbreaker and it had been torn from his beard as he lay dying amongst the dead Drak Hammer so long ago. Lord Stromni knew that the Norsca Dawi would not be held back by that they would take the fight to the Beastman known as the Hounds of Khorne he only hoped that the expatriate Dawi in the ranks did the same. It was a slaughter, and not a single Dawi cared, not even the three rescued Wood Elves

The Quarreler stood there in the audience chamber before the King Thorin who sat there upon his throne carved from the skull of the great Drak that his ancestor and slain. King Thorin sat there reading the latest dispatch from Stromni Skull Krusher Ragnison the Thane leading the Norsca Expeditionary Force. The report had taken almost 14 days to arrive longer than usual but more unusual was that the dispatch came with a Quarreler and a royal gift.

“Where is it?” King Thorin asked his voice calm but a hint of excitement was hidden within it all the same. “Dwinbar son of Brokk of the Shieldbreaker Clan where is the gold hammer that belonged to my fore bearer?”

Dwinbar went to the table that stood at the lowest steps to the throne and slowly unwrapped the bundle. As the wrappings came loose everyone in the chamber not privy to the dispatch saw that the wrapping bore a striking resemblance to the Beastman war banner that hung upon the far wall where other captured banners were hung. But what it also revealed was a Bray Shaman’s staff and hanging from the staff was the golden hammer. Every Drak Hammer within the chambers let out a collective sigh and with the King’s permission Lord Drazhgrund who had been standing off to one side drew his dagger and severed the leather thong that bound the hammer to the staff. Drazhgrund held the hammer in the palm of his hand. In was not unlike the similar hammers that hung from his own beard but this hammer had the personal rune of King Thorin Talonbreaker Snorrison and on the opposite side was the rune for Kraka Draka. Drazhgrund handed the hammer to Hugnir, the holds Runelord who held the small hammer in both hands sensing the runic power that had been imbued into the small hammer over millennia ago. With a smile he nodded to Drazhgrund who took the hammer to his king. The three of them knew what this meant, that this hammer nay key was the only way to unlock the royal treasury of King Thorin Talonbreaker that had not been opened in over 6,000 years. No one knew what lay within and only time would tell.

#29 Skull Krusher

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 03:46 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Twenty Seven

Drazhgrund then withdrew a beautifully detailed double bladed axe from a small leather scabbard. The axe was made of a gromril metal. The facings on each side of the axe blades were engraved with animals, trees; the outline of the mountains of Norsca around Kraka Draka, and the engravings on both sides of the axe was enclosed by an unbroken string of Khazalid runic script. It was a beautiful piece, Drazhgrund thought, the kind of work that a great rune smith might produce only once or twice in a lifetime. “It is magnificent,” Drazhgrund said, handing the axe head to his King.

“I have rarely seen the like.” King Thorin agreed.

“It is more than just a pretty example of the rune smith’s art, as I think you have guessed. Watch.” Drazhgrund removed a thin branch of wood that he had secured between his belt and his tunic. It was a thin branch no longer than his forearm, about as thick as a man’s little finger at the base, with smaller branches and leaves sprouting from it.

Drazhgrund held the cutting up for King Thorin to see and then gently placed it through the socket as he might a real wood haft. It reminded the King of running a thread through the eye of a needle. King Thorin was sure that there was no possible way the cutting would bear the weight of the axe head even as light as the metal was.

As King Thorin watched, the branch quivered and the color of the bark darkened. A faint green glow emanated from both the cutting and the axe. Thorin blinked several times, unsure of his eyes. With a snap, the bark on the branch spilt, the leaves turning yellow, then red and finally brown and dropped from the branch with soft crackles. The inner wood quickly grew, lengthening and thickening to fill the socket of the axe head, the offshoot branches of the main shriveled and snapped off, new wood quickly covering the scars. The wood snapped and popped as it grew, much like wet wood does on a fire. The branch shed its bark, leaving a smooth, pale colored wood. The branch overgrew the socket slightly, securing itself within the axe head. Inside a dozen heartbeats the process was finished, the green glow faded, the magic finished. What was left was a beautifully made axe with a haft about four feet long. The wood was smooth and straight grained, comfortable when held and lighter than any axe should have been.

“This is not just a pretty weapon.” King Thorin said wryly.

Drazhgrund shook his head. “No. It was made by the first Rune Lord of Kraka Draka.” He said as he gave a lopsided grin. “Rune Lord Arnek Ragasson was reluctant to make it, at first. But he boasted of it and that is how I knew what this axe was by searching the archives. He made the axe for the first King Thorin’s brother, who founded the King’s Drak-Rangers.”

King Thorin nodded remembering that Drazhgrund wielded another weapon created by the great Rune Lord; the great war-hammer of the then Prince Thorin Talonbreaker and that both weapons were over 6,000 years old. Return his attention back to the axe he asked, “How long will the wood last?”

Drazhgrund shrugged. “Until it breaks, rots or I dismiss it. Wood is the easiest to use, living wood the best. From what I was able to determine through research the rune magic of the axe can use anything to form its haft; rotten wood, an old bone, a piece of steel, it does not matter. The magic will transform the base object into the best possible haft of the same substance; a silver spoon becomes a silver haft and so on. I read where the Rune Lord had once had the axe head in a pack and a leather lace from a jerkin threaded the socket and activated the rune magic. Before he knew what happened, the axe grew and shredded his pack. He was left with a pile of papers, herbs and clothes, a burst pack and an axe with a hardened rawhide handle.” Drazhgrund chuckled when he related what he had read and King Thorin joined him.

Setting the axe aside they surveyed the rest of the royal treasury a virtual cornucopia of the first two Kings of Kraka Draka; King Snorri Drakslayer Cromson and King Thorin Talon Breaker Snorrison’s royal wealth, armor, weapons, and history that had not been seen since Talonbreaker had been killed. If not for recently recovering the King’s long lost hammer-key taken by the Beast Herd that had killed him and his body guard the royal treasury would still be locked.

#30 Skull Krusher

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 09:24 PM

Kraka Draka - Party Twenty Eight

The 18th day of Adderskrea
The Ancestral Feast day of Materhazt was fifthteen days away and it would be missed but it would still be observed despite the less festive accommodations. But it hardly mattered to the forty plus passengers nearly all of which belonged to the King’s Drak Hammers, nor their Lord, or for the Rinn who accompanied them. The Dunderkarak and the three consorts, smaller but just as deadly Dawi naval ironclad casemates and monitors had returned to the naval base at Draksfjord to load on more coal and supplies. While there, the Drak Hammers arrived from Sjoktraken and had immediately transferred all their unit and personal war-gear and supplies aboard the Norsca Flagship rather than embark upon a Dawi merchant trading vessel.

Once provisioned the four vessels once again got underway with news orders to transport the Drak Hammers to the Port City of Erengrad where their passengers would disembark allowing the ships to once again patrol the Sea of Claws as the Drak Hammers with their Kislev Horse Archer escort marched across southwestern Kislev into the Empire. But all of this was to happen in four days, four days of rough weather as the Sea of Claws icy water did its best to batter the Dawi iron ships making life miserable for both the crew and the passengers. The Dawi lord paid little attention to the constant rocking and rolling as he read the Captain’s deck logs, making notes as he read noting when and where Chaos Marauder, and Dark Elf ships were sited. He also noted that Finn Harokson of Clan Oakenstave had received accolades for gallantry and bravery while leading a boarding action against two Dark Elf ships and he reminded himself that he would tell young Finni about his uncle the next time he saw him.

There would be a next time he told himself despite the King’s misgivings in relenting to his request to join the Norsca Expeditionary Force. There had been much arguing back and forth between King and his loyal commander of the King’s Drak Hammers as well as between the King and his own Throngrink the patriarch of the royal clan. Since the argument was basically between King Thorin and Lord Drazhgrund the arguments stayed rather amicable if not cordial as they both presented the pros and cons of their cases. In the end King Thorin gave his blessing to his Throngrink and Lord Drazhgrund accepted it promising that he would return and not by being carried prone by his shield bearers for burial but on his own two feet.

Then there was the row with the Clan Elder’s Council representing all the clans of Kraka Draka when they found out that Kari Katrindottier, the King’s niece; accompanied by a Priest of Valaya, intended to accompany Lord Drazhgrund and the Drak-Hammers. The Elder’s Council was arguing for her to stay in Kraka Draka. That the battle lines were no place for a female Dawi that her rightful place was hearth and kin not risking her life. But Kari had planned wisely, for when she bested the first five of her fifteen Drak-Hammers guards upon the Dar training grounds she chose the ten that bested her as her escort when she went with Lord Drazhgrund. To herself Kari thought that her presence with the Throng would make the entire Throng nearly unbreakable much like Dawi Slayers but she did not mention this to anyone. Kari told her uncle, the King that she fully intended to ensure that their Throngrink return safely and she told him that she was the only one that could ensure the Lord Drazhgrund would keep his promise to the King. When her uncle asked her when she planned on settling down she replied “That depends on Drazhgrund’s answer.” She said with a sly smile for Kari had set her sights high and would not be discouraged. But Drazhgrund was not aware of this discussion between King and niece, only that the King relented over the Elder Council’s objections and that a part of him deep inside was pleased that she was here in his quarters as the two of them sat reading the various scouting reports that lay scattered about the table that somehow did not slide of with each pitch and roll of the ship as they steamed south.

On the 22nd day of Adderskrea as the sun rose in the east the Sea of Claws had finally calmed down when they made landfall. The pilot boat was already there waiting for them to guide the ship over the bar and up the river to the Port City of Erengrad. Unlike the 7th of Fornskrak when the Dunderkarak steamed into port, this time the Tzarina had sent her senior ministers to meet the ship but in truth more to honour Lord Drazhgrund as well as to meet Kari to offer them the hospitality of the Tzarina and Kislev itself before departing for the Talabec Boarders.

They had been escorted to the court of Prince Petre Van Strasbergen, who was also one of the ministers for the Tzarina who welcomed them to Kislev and begged them to stay and rest before heading south into the Empire. “After all it will shortly be the anniversary of the defeat of Chaos” the Kislev minister, Strasbergen stated flatly, “and what better way that celebrating the victory of 2303 when our allies, Kraka Draka who ancestors came to our aid and destroyed the besieging forces of Chaos thus saving my ancestors?”

Kari immediately knew why Drazhgrund had this strange expression. After all to the people of Kislev that battle was fought in 2303 over 210 years ago. To the humans that was over five generations ago. But to Drazhgrund who fought along side King Thorgard as well as Prince Thorgrim Grudgebearer now the High King of Karaz-a-Karak it was but just a little while ago especially for a Dawi who was nearly 1000 years old. If the minister did not know his own history then he was in for a surprise. But she knew Drazhgrund had no intention of resting in Erengrad, too much the diplomat and that was what he was right now, diplomat, nay ambassador, his King’s representative. So Kari spoke up being that other than Drazhgrund, she was of royal blood and senior to even the Drak-Hammer thane who reported to Drazhgrund.

Kari curtsied. “Minister Petre Von Strasbergen,” Kari Katrindottier said softly. Up until this time she had not said a word her cloak was closed about her body, the cowl pulled forward hiding her features and she assumed the minister had taken no notice of her. Kari lowered the cowl off her head and opened her cloak revealing that she was dressed for war and that her face which was framed by long black hair done up in an intricate Grindal battle weave that only enhanced not soften her sudden appearance. So shocked was the Minister upon seeing a female Dawi anywhere but within the conclaves of the city guarded by family and clan he was a loss for words. “I am Kari Katrindottier of the royal House of Durazklad.” Whether he realized that Drazhgrund was also of the same house mattered little to her as she continued. “Minister, nay Petre had we known that your great Tzarina had intended to honour the occasion we would be more than pleased to attend. But her letters mentioned nothing of this auspicious occasion only that she intended reaffirming our ally status by sending several contingents of Kislev warriors with us as soon as we were ready to depart your fair city. That was why we came to see you as well as dropping off several signed and sealed trade agreements, one with Prince Sergei Clivonsley of Pinsk for more of his famous aromatic cheeses.”

Petre was shocked and as he fell back down into his chair Kari closed her cloak and pulled the cowl back over her head leaving her face once more in shadows. He stammered a few words and several warriors stepped forward each in charge of a contingent of the warriors that were to head south with them. Drazhgrund turned to each, speaking in fluent Kislev bidding them welcome, as he opened chest that he had brought with him and he handed them each a small keg of 100 year old Norsca Drak Ale and a finely wrought Dawi dagger each with a Rune of Cutting upon the tang of the blade. Then Drazhgrund, Kari and the warriors broached their kegs and in one long pull drank it empty. The minister was stunned as he watched them empty the small kegs beat their armored chests yelling Kislev and Kraka Draka at the top of their lungs. He was still stunned when he realized that the chambers were soon empty and his royal guests as well the Kislev warriors assigned to Lord Drazhgrund were long gone. All he could think of was her beautiful steel blue eyes. He picked up the dispatch case noting the names on the sealed trade agreements and rang for his attendant to deal with the trade agreements.

They made good time heading south that night they slept under the pines. Each group of warriors provided night guards and they were paired, Dawi and human. For several of the Dawi it was their first time to fall asleep with only the night sky and the stars over their head instead of the safe stone mountain of their hold.

* * *

They had been marching for over 4 candlemarks since the sun came up when their Kislev warriors formed up in a line of battle when they herd the sound of horses. Then one of the out riders called out and the 3 horseman came to an abrupt halt. They came riding in slowly as they saw their fellow countryman. They were Kislev Horse Archers who had been riding dispatch between Lord Stromni and the Dawi within the Port City of Erengard. Drazhgrund called a halt as he quickly read the latest dispatch.

The 14th day of Adderskrea
King Thorin of Kraka Draka
Your highness, I hope that the gift that I sent with Dwinbar son of Brokk of the Shieldbreaker Clan meets with your approval and that is one more grudge that can be written off within Kraka Draka’s book of grudges.

My lord it has been one day since the battle of “the Stone of Blood” ended. You may well ask what happened at “the Hanging Tree” but all I can tell you is that at this point I really do not know. We were not that far away from that foul tree when once again messengers from High King Thorgrim, diverting our path once again. If you read the Mattengard Muckraker which I have enclosed you will notice that it did not mention that the Norsca Expeditionary Forces had already defended and held the Tower of the Moon, defeating Grim’ard Legbreaker who charged our lines time and time again only to be repulsed. All for what, just to have some lackey of the High King telling us he had made a mistake and countermanded our orders telling us to head for the “Hanging Tree” only to countermand those orders telling us to head for the “Stone of Blood.” The distance between the Hanging Tree and the Stone of Blood is over 50 leagues of forest with no roads. Going by the road it is over 100 leagues. My King, we are, being ordered about like small Dawi children and it makes one wonder if the High King is sane. This obsession over the crown is insane. Truly it must be found, must be either destroyed or stored away in the most secure Karak there is but Lord Stromni is close to writing the High King’s name into his own personal book of grudges for his lack of coordination in his insane pursuit of the crown that waste so many Dawi lives and I have to concur.

All of which brings us back to the battle of “the Stone of Blood”. There is just no easy and quiet way for two Dawi Throngs to reach the Stone of Blood. If not for the High King’s orders and for Morik’s Wood Elgi friend who with a unit of Wood Elge archers lead us to the foul stone we might never have attempted the assault on the Stone of Blood. The stone lies in the deep forest in an area of dense vegetation where few venture. We saw no trails game or otherwise as we traversed the area we did and after must sweating and cursing the foal gods of chaos and the crazy Runelord Alaric for making the crown we finally broke through the briar to look out upon a moonlit blasted circle of wasteland where nothing was growing. In the center of this area stood a tall misshapen rock, the Stone of Blood, decorated with foul Beastman and Chaos symbols that glowed evilly in the predawn hours.

The sun was raising in the east behind us when the Wood Elgi spoke as we readied for battle. He warned us of the dangers of the stone pointing out the wasteland that surrounded the stone a good quarreler shot away. Warned us to be weary of staying to long in the wasteland and to make his point he removed a field mouse that he had carried in a small bag and reaching out across the demarcation line between dense brush and the desolate wasteland he placed the mouse down near a pile of bread crumbs. We few who were close enough watched. We watched the young mouse whither before us as the Stone of Blood leached the life from its body as the stone began pulsing like a giant beating heart as it tried to stretch its influence ever further to leach the life from the ground and those around it. He then placed an uprooted clump of bright green weeds into the same area and we watch them wilt, turn brown, and turn into dry leaves that soon fell apart becoming dust. He turned to us and said, “That not even the Treekin will go into this place as long as the stone stands. If you are not attuned to the Gods of Chaos this place will kill you. Slowly, or rapidly it matters not. An Elgi or a Dawi will last for longer than a day but an Umgi hardly at all. So beware if you enter the area your lives will be leached from your bodies aging you as your lives become shorter until you are no more. Beware!”

From his discussions with the Wood Elgi, Lord Stromni knew that they had attempted to destroy the stone in the past without success and with this in mind called forth his cannon crew to reassemble the two cannons on the edge of the circle. He and the new Thane who took over for the deceased Thane Rungni who died of his wounds received at the Headless Badger placed slayer units on either side of the two cannon to protect them from being attacked as well as a unit of Longbeards with great weapons behind the two cannon but facing to the rear in case of being attacked from behind. The rest of the Throngs set up on either flank of the two cannons. The cannons only target would be the stone. Destroy the stone while everyone else destroyed the enemy, the Beastman of Chaos.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 21 July 2007 - 02:49 AM.

#31 Skull Krusher

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 12:16 AM

Kraka Draka - Party Twenty Nine

Lord Stromni looked to his left flank and it was still secured Dawi units standing like a stone wall against the oncoming tide of Beastman that charged toward them in waves but it mattered not to the sixty plus Quarrelers who killed them with quarrels as they came then cut them down with their great weapons those few who manage to close them. The center of the line was still anchored on the two cannon crews that fired non stop at the Stone of Blood. They continued to inflict damage upon the stone and already cracks were forming and hopefully it would soon shatter. He hoped. Looking to his right flank which was made up of the remnants of Caerbannog Throng that had been brought up to full strength by the city dwelling Gazani Dawi volunteers. If not for the third Throng that had arrived just before the first cannon shots he was sure that the right flank would have fallen several candle marks ago, as it was it continued to be a toss up over which would fold first; the Dawi of Caerbannog and their Gazani or the Dawi from the mining community of Grung Tepskaf. At least he still had his Longbeards who had already destroyed a unit of Beastman that had tried to attack them from behind. The Longbeards and the Slayers made short work of them but there had been no sign that there were any more Beastman lurking behind the lines.

The opening shots of the battle corresponded with the rising of the sun and it rose over the forest behind him. It illuminated the Stone of Blood in all its evilness and it also revealed a vast horde and Beastman and Grobs that had not been noticed in the darkness. He thanked Valaya that his forces had not been discovered. But when the suns rays exposed the stone he nodded to the Engineers who yanked hard on the lanyard that produced the spark that fired the cannons. The cannons fired as one and both shots slammed into the stone sending small stone fragments in all directions and soon the Beast Horde was gathering around in small units around the Stone of Blood, and the Grobs formed into a battle line and began heading towards them. The cannons continued to fired through the Beastman inflicting casualties within the units as the shot continued on to smash into the stone and with each hit the stone leak more crimson blood which the Beastman Shamans dab upon themselves and any of the horde army that is close enough touched the stone to coat their weapons in its foulness.

Lord Stromni sensed that the attacks on his left flank was a feint that the green skinned Grobs would come in mass against the Throng of Grung Tepskaf which is what he would do if he were attacking since the mining Throng had only an Organ Gun which was their sole long range weapon. The Grob Waaagh when it hit would come in virtually untouched until they came into hand to hand. Stromni had already shifted a unit of clansman and his Longbeards to face in that direction to protect his cannons incase the flank began to give way. The three Runesmith did their best to stop the magical attacks but the blood smeared shamans managed to get more than one or two spells passed the defenses of the Runesmiths. Lord Stromni hoped they would stop more.

Then it happened one of the cannon misfired exploding and killing the entire crew creating a small gap in the front line that was quickly filled by the slayers who anchored their left flank on the remaining cannon and their right upon the Caerbannog Throng. The remaining cannon continued to pour shot after shot into the stone, and using the engineer’s glass he could see that the cracks were becoming larger, more fragments falling to the ground more crimson blood oozing downward to pool upon the ground. No longer was the stone beat like a ponderous giant but now it beat like a frightened beast about to be slain and he sent his word to his units to hold, hold at all cost that the stone weakening and would soon be destroyed.

The Throngs of Kraka Draka and Caerbannog and their Gazani volunteers held but not the Tepskaf. Already the right was crumbling bending back toward the center as the Tepskaf’s attempted to refuse the flank but it was for naught as the overwhelmed units began to flee, most to be overrun but a few managed to flee and later reform but they were nothing more than a shell of a unit, their spirit broken. As more and more of the right flank fled in his direction the Beastman to his front redoubled their efforts to penetrate their line; or to charge the remaining cannon only to be cut down by mass volley fire from the Quarrelers. The left and center were secure but he could still hold as long as the Caerbannog held and even now some of the Gazani were bending their line to meet the threat.

The Gazani tried, tried to hold the line against the Black Grob but they were to few against so many and when the Warboss slew their leader they fled and now Stromni directed his Longbeards and Clansman to meet the threat but as he did so he heard a strange clarion horn. A horn call that reminded him of an ancient legend, a call that was sounded within any Dawi Karak or Kazad; it was the call hold, to hold to the last when all hope seemed to be lost. They were to hold to the very last, the last, the very last. As the Longbeards and Clansman formed a solid line he heard the canon continue to fire and he heard the clarion call again only louder and this time it sounded behind the attacking forces of darkness and he heard as well a different kind of sound, the sounds of fear, but those were not Dawi voices screaming in fear or terror but guttural Grob and Beastman. As reserve units were engaged he saw another Dawi unit and it was in the blasted waste land surrounding the stone and it was attacking the Beastman and the Grob and all those who they fought fell back in fear or were destroyed. But what he saw unnerved him for an the ancient legend had come to life, no longer a tale to be told around the hearth at the Rusty Harpoon back home over a tankard. It was the Stone and Steel lead by an unknown lord from long ago. Stromni ordered the remaining units of Caerbannog and his two reserve units to charge. Caught between hammer and tong the Beastman and Grob died or fled and as they fled there was a ringing cheer from the cannon crew and he looked to the Stone of Blood to watch it slowly split into and crumble to the ground as the stone fell apart the leash that had held the two Berserker Slayers units in place was severed as they charged into the fray wielding their weapons engraved with the Rhun Bakraz, the Berserker Rune.

With the fall of the Stone of Blood the forces of Chaos shook their heads as if to awaken from a bad dream and those who realized their doom turned and fled but not so those who had smeared blood upon their weapons. The stubbornly refused to flee and in the end they were surrounded and cut down.

When the last defender of the Stone of Blood had fallen he anxiously searched out the Stone and Steel Dawi, but he and the other never saw them. It was as if they had never been but how can that be. He felt only the step, the cadence of many iron shod shoes upon bedrock slowly fade away as if they were marching to the next battle. Then he felt nothing more but heard the faint clarion call “Hold, hold to the last” and then even that was gone as well. Shaking his head in wonderment he gathered up the remnants of the Throng of Grung Tepskaf as he told the miners that they had fought well but they had one more duty to perform and he had them plant their mining charges around the remains of the stone. He directed the canon crew to resupply their caisson from the other destroyed canon and then to take the remaining black powder and place charges all around the Stone of Blood remnants. When all was ready and everyone was well back the miners lit the fuse. The resulting explosion rocked the surrounding forest and sent a column of flame and smoke into afternoon sky as small pieces of reddish burnt sand, rock and ash drifted to the forest floor or was carried away by the wind. When the smoke was clear nothing remained of the stone just a crater of glazed rock. Without a word to Lord Stromni or the Wood Elgi that were with them a lone figure wearing chain mail over his deep purple robes slowly made his way to the crater and when he reached it he began circling the crater counter clockwise chanting a prayer to Valaya, slowly others who knew the chant began as well. Voices old and young joined in as soon the three Dawi Throngs chanted in harmony in ancient Khazalid and when they were finished the priest sprinkled sanctified ale within the crater and surrounding ground and returned to his unit. It was Morik and his Wood Elgi friend who saw the first blades of green grass appear along the edges of the waste land.

Your obedient servant,
Morgrim Stromnison


Lord Drazhgrund looked up from the dispatch and handed it to Kari. Turning to the two Kislev riders he asked them if they had heard anything else concerning Lord Stromni. They nodded and said that they had spent the night at a wood cutters and the wood cutter said that he had a contingent of Britonnian taking advantage of his hovel and he heard them say that they were going to look for what ever shook the forest and sent a column of smoke and debrie into the air. They said only great evil could shake the forest and burn the skies. This is what their fair lady told the leader of the knights. Drazhgrund took time to pin a short dispatch to Lord Stromni's and sent the Kislev dispatch riders on thier way as he and his force continued south with all haste.

#32 Skull Krusher

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 03:35 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Thirty

Lord Drazhgrund looked up from the dispatch and handed it to Kari. Turning to the two Kislev riders he asked them if they had heard anything else concerning Lord Stromni. They nodded and said that they had spent the night at a wood cutters and the wood cutter said that he had a contingent of Bretonnian taking advantage of his hovel and he heard them say that they were going to look for what ever shook the forest and sent a column of smoke and debris into the air. They said only great evil could shake the forest and burn the skies. This is what their fair lady told the leader of the knights. Drazhgrund took time to pin a short dispatch to Lord Stromni's and sent the Kislev dispatch riders on their way as he and his force continued south with all haste.

They had long crossed over the river that separated Kislev from the Empire and the boarder was three days behind them. Their Kislev allies were still with them guarding the perimeter of the camp and sharing the cook fires and more often than not sharing food, drink, and joining in with stories of their own about keeping the forces of Chaos at bay far from hearth and kin. As Kari listened to the stories around them she looked to Drazhgrund and asked him what Stromni had meant; Stone and Steel. The Drak-Hammers who were still awake, the few Kislev that were with them looked at him they too wondered about the Dawi unit called Stone and Steel. Drazhgrund lean forward to relit his pipe, and when he was once more in a comfortable position he spoke.

“I heard this from my own grand sire, he who was King of Kraka Draka. He was in his cups one long winter evening when he and a few of his closest warrior friends had just returned from a Day of Remberance or the Zagazdeg. They were gathered around the great brazier and spoke of old friends and of course battles of long ago, I was still a child of 10 winters as I sat at his knee listening. It was the tale of the Stone and Steel that caught my attention mostly because my grandfather spoke of a near great defeat that he had almost suffered in his youth.

My grand sire spoke of the Battle of Grung Kuldungor, a mining outpost that was occupied by no more than 65 miners and their families. As you well know it is the tradition of the Dawi to have everyone work the mines for a least three years and that was the reason my grand sire was there. Somehow the mine was discovered by Umgi Chaos Marauders from the Kurgan tribes. In a surprise ambush they attacked during Ancestor Feast of Hekesdeg. It was upon the surface and they did not have adequate guards. The Kurgan forced their way into the tunnels and followed the sounds and smell of the feast. Grung Kuldungor was nearly completely taken in the Kurgan’s "I swear too much" for slaughter and the secrets of our forges. Somehow my grandsire and five other miners managed to arm themselves and barricaded Dawi children and their mothers behind closed doors off the main hall. With hammer and pick the six of them held the main hall against the continued assault. They held for despite being wounded and loosing over half of their defenders and still they fought on. Then another fell dead at my grand sires side and another fell wounded till it was just him between the Kurgan and the females and children and before you asked yes the female Dawi fought just as fearlessly as they protected their children and miraculously none of them had fallen though some were wounded. A small Dawi child picked up his fathers horn and blew upon it in hopes that the King who was several mountains away deep in his Karaka would hear their call for help and my grand sire fought all the harder to keep that spark of hope alive. But then my grand sire said he heard a clarion call upon a war horn, the signal “to hold, to hold to the very last” and he and the females kept fighting. The he told everyone the he felt it in his bones the deep vibration upon the rock floor of what seemed like and army of Dawi with their iron shod boots stepping in unison the chants to Valaya and finally the loud sound of hammer, axe, and pick beating against their shields just before a Dawi charge. The clarion sound became louder and then their were sounds of terror and fear and the Kurgan fought back or tried to flee and over the heads behind the Kurgan my grand sire and the females could see that the tunnels and hallways appeared to completely filled with what could only be Dawi from every conceivable Dawi unit available. The Dawi of Grung Kuldungor knew the shield devices of Kraka Draka and the other holds of Norsca and their were a few of those runic symbols for the majority there were from Dawi holds across the whole of the Old World and they fought under one banner. A banner completely black with crossed Dawi Hammers upon the banner in bright gold with a gold Dawi helm and face mask representing Valaya. The only other thing that the survivors could agree on was the Khazalid runic script for Stone and Steel that was below the crossed hammers. Battle of Grung Kuldungor ended in a slaughter for when the sounds of battle died down and silence reined once again except for those Dawi were wounded who called for help. Of the Kurgan they were all dead they never again did see the Dawi of the Stone and Steel though they heard their iron shod feet slowly fade away in the distance

Drazhgrund looked around him at his listeners and knew that they want to know what he thought so he told them. “It is my belief that the Stone and Steel is made up of those mighty Dawi who fought to the very end against all odds they fought until they were overwhelmed.” He looked at them and they nodded as if in agreement and he continued. “I also believe that the Ancestor Gods gave them a choice, to move on to join them, or to remain behind for a time to fight, to come to those who are in need of help those who are fighting to the very last or are holding out against impossible odds knowing that if they stay and fight they will die and if they run they will be dead anyway in the eyes of all Dawi. These are the Dawi of the Steel and Stone those who fought to the very end and died but chose to fight on helping us all.”

When Drazhgrund had finished his tale of the Steel and Stone he finished smoking his pipe and then took a long pull from is goda bag when noticed that Kari had fallen asleep. Good warriors sleep when they can and he sat there thinking what some of the Drak-Hammers had expressed lingering concerns to Lord Drazhgrund about Kari’s presence within the unit. It was not that she would slow them down as they marched south for she often had more endurance than many of them at the end of the day. Of course it helped that she was the youngest Dawi present. It was not that she was bad luck, or not fare go gaze upon. The main concerns were for her safety something that not one male Dawi could abide that she may become wounded, killed, or that she would be captured. That she could not defend herself was not one of the concerns as long as it was a one on one or two on one fight, she had crushed that doubt the same way she had defeated her body guards. Kari took weapons practice as they all did seriously at the end of each days march sparring against several of the Ungol Horse Archers and Kossars to vary and hone her fighting skills and even against Lord Drazhgrund who so far she had failed to get past his guard. It was the fear of the Drak-Hammers that if they should fall fighting to the very last that she would be killed or captured and they feared this more than anything else. This was the same concern of Drazhgrund as they marched further and further south then again he wanted her by his side and he began to think about that as well.

As he sat there against the boulder he reviewed the reports the scouts brought in about the various factions within the woods or along the road who were searching for the Rune of Ages or Alaric’s Folley as the Drak-Hammers called it.
They were now well within The Talabic Boarders about three days from the Headless Badger when one of the Horse Archers came galloping back launching himself out of his horse to squat beside the the fire warming his hands on a warm bowl of soup. He had reported that his Horse Archers had spotted a force of Bretonians between them and the inn and when scouts attempted to parley with the Bretonians they were fired upon by the longbowman. The Boyar surmised that the Bretonians must have thought they were Choas Marauders. The mood around the fires that night was of expectation. The sounds of blades being honed, and bow strings checked for tuantness and fraying was a more homely sound than the noises made by cricktes, hooting owles, or the occasion rustle of dry leaves as small animals tried to move quietly. Kari woke to find Drazhgrund was checking a large coil of mooring line that he had removed from the Dunderkarak. “Drazh…” she said, shortening his name saying it only when the two of them were alone or if no one was within hearing. “What is the rope for?”

He paused before he anwered, he liked the sound of her voice how she said his name. He turned and smiled as he replied. “Getting ready to unhorse a few knights” and he quickly motioned the Boyars over to explain to them what he wanted done with the rope. When he finished the Boyars were smiling and laughing. They had seen the knights of Bretonia in their heavy armor and long lances fellowed by squires on horseback and they knew just the place for their trap just down the road not to far away and two of the Boyars took the rope and departed laughing.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 28 July 2007 - 03:37 AM.

#33 Skull Krusher

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 02:30 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Thirty One

* * *

At this moment deep in the woods far to the west of the Altdorf-Talabheim Road the Throng of Lord Stromni was making it slow way north through the woods toward Vragthar’s Monolith. The Stone of Blood destroyed, no more than a crater in the ground to show where it had once stood already the forest was doing its best to reclaim the area. Stromni thought about what Morik and his Quarrerls had found among the dead Grob. Evidence that perhaps this group had discovered the where abouts of the Rune of Ages or perhaps other relics belonging to Alaric but more than likely the propery of the Dawi miners who had originally discovered the long lost hiding place. Lord Stromni reached for his dispatch case to write his next report.

The 28th day of Adderskrea
King Thorin of Kraka Draka
I apologize for not sending this along with my last dispatch but I wanted to ensure that what I was sending was not something dangerous. After the battle at the Stone of Blood we found six Dawi battleaxes, these great weapons I have handed out one to each of the Thanes that represent the Dawi holds of Norsca. I will send the fifth one to you and the last one to the High King of Karaz-a-Karak. The Runesmith that has accompanied us has told me that these six axes have been inscribed with the Rune of Cutting and it appears that they also have Alaric’s personal rune on them as well. The Grob that we fought at the Stone of Blood may have found Alaric’s lost mine or stole these items from someone who did. Morik and his Wood Elgi have told me that after we ran the Grob off they came back and are now following us as we make our way towards Vragthar’s Monolith. The dense forest is no place to fight a battle I would much rather be under the cool soothing darkness of a mountain than in this hot humid forest. But the Wood Elgi who are leading us tell me that the Monolith is in a large clearing much like the Stone of Blood if that is so then that is where I hope fight.

Sir, as I said above has happened. We have fought a decisive victory. I am relieved that the Throng of Grung Tepskaf decided to stick with us. Of course after taking the casualties they did at the Stone of Blood I am sure that they did not want to travel by themselves back through the Old Forest until they reached the main Altdorf-Talabheim Road, I do not blame them. In any case we arrived after traveling through the night led by the Wood Elgi and under the cover of darkness the miners began tunneling deep down into the soft forest floor and then at a depth of perhaps twenty paces began tunneling toward the monolith and other miners and various clan warriors began cutting down selected trees under the direction of Morik and the Wood Elgi trees that quickly became supports for the tunnel walls and roof. As the miners tunneled we readied for the fight that we all knew must come but we waited for the sun to rise, waited for the miners.

While we waited, Lúthien; our guide and leader of his small band of Wood Elgi bowman told us the history of the Vragthar’s Monolith. Of its origins the Wood Elgi had no idea that his people kept weary watch over it so that they would have a chance to destroy those who use the monolith to summon Daemonic allies. The important thing that Lúthien imparted to me was that if anyone who is not aligned with darkness but embraces the forces of light can disrupt the summoning. He said that in the past they had tried to destroy the monolith but it seem impervious to magic as well as physical damage. As the morning sun slowly fills the eastern sky, removing the darkness beneath the eaves of the forest we saw the Grob. Many of them bore the same shield devices as the Grob we had fought not more than two days ago at the Stone of Blood. That they had gathered more of their kind to their war banner mattered not to us since we had beat them once we knew we could beat them again as so we did. Why they waited to until day light to attack us I do not know perhaps after their last defeat they were hesitant but their hesitancy was their downfall.

Your Highness with the rising of the sun the Grob charged toward us across the open ground in front of the monolith. On either side of their lines came the Grob Boar riders and Grobi Spider riders. The organ guns fired as the Grob closed as did Morik and Morgrim Quarrelers open fire. The front ranks of the Grob dropped dead and those behind them stumbled over the dead causing the charge to falter. I ordered the line to fire again into their stalled charge. Not so the giant spiders being ridden by the small forest Grobi who climb over their dead and slammed into the Grung Tepskaf clansman who swung their two handed picks killing either the Grobi or the giant spider they rode. But for every two Grobi Spider Riders they killed a clansman died to their poison attack and still we fought and killed them.

As we fought hand to hand I felt the air became charged with lightening as the sky above us seem to be ripped apart and a doorway to the realm of Chaos opened before us as three Daemon appear and charge directly toward me and the Langktrommi and we counter charged them. As they came the skies were rent open again and we expected more Daemon to appear but instead a bolt of lightening arced from the top of the monolith and struck a unit of Forest Grobi knocking them to the ground. Then the ground shook as the Grung Tepskaf miners burst from their tunnels on either side of the monolith catching a Grob shaman unawares as a pick smashed him down from behind. Then the three Daemons were amongst us as the Dawi front line chanted “Talonbreaker”, “Talonbreaker”, “Talonbreaker” shook the leaves from the trees. We stood our ground much like our ancestor Prince Thorin “Talonbreaker” did when he attacked and shattered the weapon arm of the Daemon Prince. My King, we did just as much harm to the attacking Daemons with that chant as did Talonbreaker did to Kraznack the Daemon Lord of the Chaos Wastes as the three Daemons seemed to falter hearing the name of their enemy that struck down their lord and that small hesitancy was all that mattered as Langktrommi front line struck two of them down. The third struck hard and fast shattering a shield and severely wounding a Langktrommi beside me. His shield brother beside him, the Dawi that I gave one of the great axes to with the Rune of Cutting severed the head from the Daemon as we continued our counter charge into the front rank of a large Grob unit and we slew seven of them as the impetus of our charge carried us into their second rank. As their banner fell Brogar Ragnison grabbed the fallen Grob banner as the second rank gave way that caused rest of the unit to rout away but not far enough as we chased them down as they fled into the dense forest.

We carried the day your majesty and as we were burning the bodies of the Grob we were harried by a contingent of High Elgi who seemed to think that we had discovered the crown and demanded that we turn it over. They gave us no choice as told them no they fired upon us and we returned fire as well our quarreler bolts punching through their light armor extinguishing their lives. Neither could take control of the open area around the monolith and the burning funeral pyre of the Grobs. The High Elgi withdrew back into the forest and we never saw them again. We buried their dead rather than toss them into the flames with the Grob it was the least we could do.

Your servant,
Lord Stromni

Edited by Skull Krusher, 01 August 2007 - 02:38 AM.

#34 Skull Krusher

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 03:07 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Thirty Two

Far to the North in Norsca the weather was slowly turning and King Thorin had just finished reading the Stromni dispatch. He turned to another pile of dispatches and letters that had arrived as well as a large narrow box containing the runic axe bearing the Rune of Cutting. The box was from Stromni the rest were from Drazhgrund’s and company. As he sat back in his chair and smoked his pipe he read what his clan’s Throngrink had to say.

29th of Adderskrea
Talabec Boarders Region of the Empire of Sigmar
King Thorin of Kraka Draka

My King, it is as we feared. You will recall our last conversation that I felt the Empire of Sigmar is unraveling and that Franz Karl, the Emperor and the nations that surround the Empire have gone mad, and I was correct. It would seem that Alaric’s madness has infected the whole region long after he has died. Everyone desires the crown. This evil influence has emboldened many to forsake their family and friends all for the sake of power. The forces of darkness are more in the open than ever before as the infliction spreads. If only they knew that Alaric used warpstone but that knowledge alone would inflict more shame upon Karaz Ankor.

Today we and I should say the Drak-Hammers and our steadfast Kislev allies fought our first real battle since entering the Talabec Boarders region. A contingent of Bretionnian commanded by LeDuc of Cambridge demanded that we surrender the crown and any Dawi relics forthwith or suffer the consequences. Unfortunately for them they alone suffered the consequences as we vanquished them with hardly a wound suffered ourselves. I would like to take this time to mention the following Drak-Hammers and Kisliv warriors for recognition for their performance in our last engagement. It is my hope that you will inform the Tzarina in regards to her fine warriors. First there is Viktor Ilych one of the finest Kossar that I have had then opportunity to fight beside. You will recall your father and I were talking about the Kislev Kossar Kamarov Ilych that fought along side us at the final Battle of Grovod Forest when last Chaos incursion was defeated over two hundred years ago. Will Viktor Ilych is the descendant of Kamarov and is very much a warrior like his forbearer was. Yesterday Viktor countercharged with his Kossars right into the flank of a Bretonnian cavalry. He personally dispatched three of the cavalryman. Then there is Vasily Ivanov the Boyar in charge of the Ungol Horse Archers whose feint resulted in the Bretonnian Questing Knights to charge into a trap that unhorsed over half the unit as they charged the Ungol Horse Archers. The trap was a well concealed rope stretched across the road that was raised at the last possible moment that swept the Knights from their saddles. The Ungol Horse Archers turned around and fired into the mass of downed Knights. Lastly there is Gregority Petrov the musician of the Ungol Horse Archers who captured the Bretonnian Damsel, a mage. Several Ungol Horse Archers were detached to escort the Damsel back to Kislev so that she can explain to the Tzarina why Bretonnia has seen fit to attack Kislev and her Allies, Norsca.

Thorin I have saved this to last but maybe I should have reported it first. It concerns your niece Kari an honorary Drak-Hammer. No, she is quiet safe and sound, as well as battle tested and this has lain to rest most of the fears of the Drak-Hammers and myself. The Drak-Hammers have even given her a new nickname after our battle with the Bretonnians. You may tell her mother that she has permission to start. I will say no more about this until my return.

Your servant and commander of the Drak-Hammers
Drazhgrund Kartinson

King Thorin put the dispatch down and called for one of his messengers, who soon departed carrying a verbal message to the Holds Loremaster to come at his earliest convenience to discus Bretonnia as well as the letter as well as Kari’s mother. Then he opened the dispatch nay letter from Kari. Katrindottier before opening the crated axe that would wait until his Runelord arrived. Then he read:

30th of Adderskrea
Headless Badger, Talabec Boarders
My dear uncle,
As you can tell we arrived at the Headless Badger which is one of the most fortified Inns on the Altdorf-Talabheim Road. Of course it helps to have had nearly five hundred Dawi Throng in or around the badger for the last forty or so days making repairs or building new fortifications for the Inn not to mention clearing the forest away from the road by nearly a two quarrel bolt shots. Lord Drazhgrund is well as am I. Please tell my mother that all is well. I have so many guardians around that it is nearly impossible to pass water without having one around to ensure my safety. Most of the other Throngs act as if they had never seen a female their entire lives much less one that could knock them senseless nine out of ten times in a Dar and who knows what the High King Thorgrim will say or do. Anyway tomorrow is the feast of Materhazt and with the great number of Throngs that are at the Inn I am sure that it will be very festive.

Your niece
Kari “Knightslayer” Katrindottier
Clan Durazklad

Kari’s mother had arrived with the Runelord as King Thorin finished rereading the three letters and handed Lord Drazhgrund’s and Kari to her.. There was no mention on how Kari had earned her name Knightslayer which would be a tale worth hearing when they returned and one which he was sure would interest the children not to mention her mother

#35 Skull Krusher

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 01:26 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Thirty Three

* * *
Bronn Thorinson the son of King Thorin had finally found time to get back down to the archives even at the age of eight he had weapons practice. It seemed like an eternity since he was last here. It took him awhile to relocate the tome and he intended to read it all the way through but decided against it and began flipping the pages until he found the page where his grandfather, King Thorgard and his oldest son Prince Durak had been killed. He remembered the words of his grandmother; "You be careful, Thorgard," said Vala. "And keep an eye out for our sons, Thorin and Durak." Bronn remembered the placement of the battle line his father’s unit, the Drak-Ironbreakers would be on left flank, Durak’s Langktrommi were to be on his right flank, and his grandfather and Lord Drazhgrund’s Drak-Hammers would be in the center of the Throng’s battle line with the Kraka Draka Warriors inner mingled. Bronn finally found the page began to read what the Loremaster who had been there at the battle had written.

It was a winter battle, most unusual for the Chaos Beastmen to start a campaign in the dead of winter but perhaps that somewhere far to the north, beyond the Frozen Sea some sorcerers or shaman had ripped open the body of some helpless victim as they cast their sinister runes, scry the weird northern lights, and study the steaming entrails of their sacrificial victim. It would not take much for the followers of the Ruinous Powers to surge south. Perhaps some evil portent was read wrong but in any case thought the Loremaster they are here, or soon will be as the leading scouts, the hounds sniff around the outskirts of the above ground seaport of Sjoktraken. Never before had any Horde of Chaos been this far east and south, usually the Beast of Chaos attempted to migrate further south Sjoktraken along the frozen flood plains as they tried to follow the River Dumaraz into Troll Country. However the Kurgen, those Umgi followers of the Chaos Ruinous Powers who over time become hideous Umgi mutants marched and fought where they pleased all in the service of Chaos and today was no different.

With the Throng mustered King Thorgard marched them out along the wide narrow underground drin that connected Mount Sjoktraken with the Dawi seaport of Sjoktraken. Taking any other route would have taken much longer as the Throng with their war machine equipment would have had to break a trail through deep snow drifts that would have left a back trail like a sharp dagger pointed directly toward the heart of Kraka Draka. By utilizing the underway they were sheltered from the bitter icy winds as they eventually surfaced within the fortified stone keep that doubled as communities meeting hall that was the largest structure of the seaport and with the high fortified solid stone walls surrounding the seaport itself no enemy would be able to see the Throng arrive within the city nor within fortified walls surrounding the keep itself.

Bronn had set the book down in amazement. He had no idea that Sjoktraken was connected to the hold. Lord Drazhgrund never mentioned any of this when he took the class to the top of Mount Sjoktraken pointing out the not so distant seaport nor when he talked about the hidden shipyard within Mount Sjoktraken. Bronn liked maps and he knew all the maps were kept here in the archives but locked up and the Loremasters kept the keys. He slowly turned the pages until he found the section about the battle and here he began to read:

Lord Drazhgrund attempted to change King Thorgard’s mind that the Kings place was with the Drak-Hammers and not with the clansman but Thorgard was adamant that he was perfectly safe with the clansman whose positions was next to Drak-Hammers. He told Lord Drazhgrund that the royal clan was honoring the Thane and his clan by fighting with them and that Drazhgrund could fight from atop the shield bearers saying that he, the King would vanquish the beast horde from either unit.

Bronn skipped ahead until he found the passage he was searching for an eye witness of his grand father’s death and the report came from one of the shield bearers carrying Lord Drazhgrund which was strange because he had thought his grandfather would have been in that position and never realized until now that it was only those lords of royal blood who could be carried atop shields directing the battle and fighting in combat carried by their Shield Bearers. Which caused another thought to come to his head as he knew that Lord Drazhgrund was much older than his grandfather perhaps the oldest Dawi lord alive and wondered why Drazhgrund was not king or high king? Something he would ask his father. But as read Bronn read he was taken back over eight years as he read what Shield Bearer Dugan Brokkison saw:

“We had heard that it was another Chaos beast horde only larger but our scouting reports were terribly wrong what we faced were the Kurgan, Chaos wild tribesman who worshiped Khorne and they came out of the Chaos Waste as well armed and experienced as we of Kraka Draka. They were on a direct path for port Sjoktraken. Our king and Lord Drazhgrund conferred with his Thanes and decided it was best to meet the oncoming horde before they discovered Sjoktraken not wanting any survivors to take back information that Sjoktraken was a prime target for looting and pillaging in future invasions. We heard them before we saw them coming out of the blowing snow like ghosts upon the wind. The rattle of the armor, the jingle of harnesses the sounds of bellowed commands, the crunching of heavy shod feet upon the snow, and the whinnying of their mounts could be heard above the sound of the wind. Then they appeared Chaos Knight, Chaos Chosen Warriors, Marauder, Marauder Horseman, Chaos War Hounds, no more than half a quarreler shot away and all along the front, those quarreler units that could see their targets through the blowing snow fired a mass volley but the wind spoiled their aim and the enemy raised their shields stopping many bolts from raining death down upon them. Only three in ten shots hit and less than a quarter of those killed our enemy and on they came. The Quarrelers fired again and a few more dropped and then the enemy charged. The mounted Chosen Knights came thundering in heading directly for the Drak-Hammers but beside them in their charge were two Chaos chariots pulled by fell beasts who may at one time may or may have not been steppe horses but they breathed daemon fire and their hooves sent sparks flying as they struck the exposed rock and ice. Then two Dawi bolt throwers fired both striking the same chariot shattering it as the team and the riders within the chariot tumbled end over end but the second chariot continued on striking the clansman unit to our right.

Then a voice rang out from the charging Chosen Knights their Chaos Lord, their general issuing a challenge and Lord Drazhgrund called out his acceptance though our own Drak-Hammer Thane wanted to step forward but Lord Drazhgrund forbid him as the fighting began all along the battle line as the blowing storm swirled around. Drazhgrund borne aloft by his shield bearer’s vs the Chaos Lord upon his daemonic steed in mortal combat as the other five knights attacked the rank and file of our unit. The Chaos general swung his sword that glowed coloring the falling snow in a vile sickly green color with such speed that it looked like a glowing comet across the night sky but as quick as the Chaos general was, Lord Drazhgrund seemed quicker as his own rune covered war hammer glowed brightly with a golden light that seemed to purify the light of chaos turning it from a sickly green to the color of spring, green like new budding pine needles on a Norsca spruce tree or a blade of new grass poking is way skyward toward the sun. Then Lord Drazhgrund hammer strikes smashed into the general’s shield, some of the strokes seemed to glanced off as if an invisible hand had stopped the hammer blow or did not hit at all. But more often than not the runic inscribed hammer head of the great weapon hit true creating dents and cracks in the shield. Two of the strikes got past the shield and slammed into Chaos Rune Armor and where the Dawi hammer hit the metal armor seemed to glow with the heat of a golden forge fire and began to melt. Then before my eyes I saw the armor try to heal itself but it was only partially successful. The Chaos general swung back and Lord Drazhgrund parried the first two strikes but not the others as the Chaos rune sword slashed down hitting Lord Drazhgrund numerous times to no avail as the gromril rune armor glowed brightly negating the attacks. Lord Drazhgrund’s armor even turned away the attack from the general’s demonic steed flashing hoofs and biting attacks.

The battle between the Chosen Knights and the Drak-Hammers seemed to go on forever but in reality not long at all. Two of our front line fell to wounds but our Thane, Kazrik fell two of the knights. We fought on but above the din of battle and then we heard a cry of despair and I looked to the sound and it was from the clansman to our right, the one that had been charged by the Chaos chariot. All I heard was “the King is…” and the sounds of fighting blotted out all other sound as my attention as well as my fellow shield bearer was to provided a stable and level fighting platform for Lord Drazhgrund.

We fought on and once again the Chaos general began to swing and again Lord Drazhgrund’s great hammer came thundering down and his first swing shattered the shield, the second swing snapped the shield arm and the general tried to parry the blows with his swords as well as turn his mount aside but we kept abreast of him as Lord Drazhgrund’s final strike struck the Chaos general upon the helm crushing it as the general slid from mount. The demonic steed sensed its masters death and attacked in a fury as the front line struck at the remaining Chaos Knights as we struck them down, all but one, who turned and fled. We would have chased the lone Chaos Knight to run him down but Lord Drazhgrund ordered us to instead charge right as we flung ourselves forward into the side of the Chaos chariot. Lords Drazhgrund’s great hammer smashing the chariot driver and rider into a bloody heap. He then leaped from atop the shield grasp the side of the chariot and single handedly heaved and flipped it over onto its side as harnesses snapped and as we killed the horses. Under the chariot lay the clansman’s thane and King Thorgard, broken, bloody bubbles upon his lips. I saw Lord Drazhgrund place his ear to the kings mouth and the king grasped his kinsman, his clan’s Throngrink. They clasp forearms and then he places the king’s weapon in his mailed fist and closes the king’s eyes.

Bronn sat there no longer reading as he imagined the chaotic battle swirling around him and it was nothing like the weapons practice and mock battles that went on in the Dram-Hammer training hall. There you would be bruised and battered but never killed and he wondered what would be his fate. Would he die in combat or die of old age, he knew not but he vowed that he would go out fighting. As he shut the book he read the last line about his uncle he never knew. Apparently no one saw him fall as he and his Langktrommi had battled a unit of Chaos Chosen Warriors lead by a sorcerer.

The battle had been costly, the king was dead as was his oldest son Prince Durak whose body was found atop a Chaos sorcerer whom he killed in hand to hand combat. The sorcerer was nearly cut in half but Prince Durak lay dead with not a mark on him, it was as if the sorcerer’s last moment of life was to cast a spell of death.

#36 Skull Krusher

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 01:29 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Thirty Four

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Though the royal compound held a little more than seventeen hundred family members of the Durazklad clan related by blood there was still room for expansion. Kettra and Kalea sat with their father, King Thorin in the royal family private quarters, one of the few places where not just any member of the clan could just walk in and gain entrance. Their mother and Katrin, Kari’s mother had just finished reading the latest dispatch. King Thorin had already read it and had handed it over to the twins as Queen Vala and Katrin left the room to plan for Lord Drazhgrund and Kari’s return along with the rest of the Norsca Expeditionary Force. King Thorin watched as the twins began to read and wondered what the effect of what Bronn had read today would affect his future actions. Valaya only knows he mused.

Kettra and Kalea sat there quietly reading.

Egrizet 4th
Vragthar’s Monolith, the Great Forest of the Talabec Boarders
Final Battle Dispatch by Lords Stromni Ragnison and Drazhgrund
King Thorin, Kraka Draka

They were a Drangthrong, a huge Dawi army of ten throngs gathered per the orders of the High King it seemed as if the darkened night time forest had come alive with the heavy thread of Dawi iron shod boots. Soon the Dawi position stretched across the whole open glade in front of Vragthar's Monolith like some giant bent fish hook. The hook portion of the line anchored on the Dawi right flank upon a small rise where most of the war machines were deployed as well as one small Dawi Throng accompanied by their Kisliv allies; at the foot of the hill were the Slayers. Over a thousand small watch fires gleamed in the night as the sound of axes fell the evil foul tainted trees corrupted by the nearness of the monolith either to become wood for the fires, sharpened stake barricades for the war machines or to be felled just to opened up clear lanes of fire upon the greenskins or placed erected as barriers in the battlefield for the Grob that we knew were coming.

During the middle of the night word passed from fire to fire that Joseph Bugman and his Langktrommi Rangers was among us as and as many drank from his fabled tankard with its Rune of Vitality their cares were washed away and new found strength was found. Then another rumor that the White Dwarf walked amongst us as well but it was only the Patriarch or Karugromthi of that very small Throng on our right an impressive warrior with long flowing white beard that would have trailed behind him if he had not braided them up and tucked them into his belt. It was only later during the pre-battle meeting that I saw that it was none other than Lord Drazhgrund and the King’s Drak-Hammers. Another rumor ran rampant that a Dawi female was with that same Throng and as the truth spread the resolute resolve of the entire line became like a fine suit of Dawi armor, unbreakable and strong in their fierce protection of that unknown female Dawi. Those of us who did not believe this rumor heard the notes from a Clarasch that at first was felt like a deep vibration within our very bones up and down the entire line as the Dawi music reminded everyone one of hearth and kin. Then the music changed becoming louder till it stirred the heart with the music of honor and bravery then the music became softer almost unbearably soft like a lovers voice just before a kiss and an embrace and we all yarned to hear the melody. It music slowly reached a crescendo that reminded the listeners of steal on steal. The playing of the Clarasch seemed to go on and on growing softer until it faded away into the darkness. Many a Dawi’s believed that only a female Dawi could have played so well but still I did not could not believe that any Dawi would allow a female to join them in battle so far from hearth and kin and it was only when I saw the King’s niece among the Drak-Hammers as they bore down upon the Black Grob and were locked in mortal combat were my worst fears realized but then these fears were set aside as I saw the dismembered limbs and heads fly from her foes as she struck into the heart of the Grob line with that glittering bloody rune axe. But that sight was candle marks away and I was called away.

In the pre-dawn hours the High King called for all the ten Throng’s leaders to meet. He sat upon his throne the mighty Book of Grudges across his knees and he waited for the last of the Throng generals. Then out of the darkness several Dawi lords gasp as they saw a lone cloaked Dawi approach and at first many thought that Grombrindal the legendary White Dawi had come to their aide. But Grombrindal wielded an axe and this Dawi came fully covered in a great black cloak made from Drak hide and he carried a mighty hammer wrought with glowing runes. As he joined the circle around the High King he reached up and lowered the cloaks cowl from his head revealing pure white hair and beard braided in an intricate Grindal battle weave woven through heavy gold rings many of which had different runes of protection that would have reached the ground and trailed behind him if not braided and bound up. Many were amazed that he bore the same clan symbol as the High King and many wondered. Still some of the Lords gathered round whispered Grombrindal’s name but it was the High King who broke the spell as Lord Stromni recognizing his Karugromthi and moved to his side. “Lord Drazhgrund, you honor me…”

But Drazhgrund raised his mighty hand nodded, “Nay High King Thorgrim, you honor all of us with your presence. This will be a battle to tell our grandchildren children.” To which Thorgrim nodded his thanks and then took command of the meeting and the High Kings lesser steward passed around tankards of ale and fresh toasted bread wrapped around cheese. The meeting lasted less than a quarter candle mark then the Throng leaders went to their throngs to ready them for battle. As the others left Thorgrim and Drazhgrund had a private meeting they clasp arms in friendship then as Drazhgrund and Stromni strode away they saw Joseph Bugman who nodded to Drazhgrund in what seemed like instant recognition and then strode briskly up to the High King, went to one knee then rose to stand next to the throne as they talked in quiet whispers.

Walking beside his Karugromthi on the way to the Throng Lord Stromni spoke; “My lord, do you take command?” They were back amongst Norsca Expeditionary Force, all Dawi from Norsca representing the four great holds of Norsca before Drazhgrund spoke.

“Nay, what you have accomplished thus far pleases your King, and the Umgi have a saying about changing a horse in mid stream.” Drazhgrund said with all sincerity as he looked to see how the warriors stood their watch the defensive works set in place, the health, and the general readiness of the entire Throng. No he said to himself you do not change horses or weapons in mid stream or mid swing without good cause and what he saw about him spoke volumes for the leadership of Lord Stromni and the spirit of the Throng.

“Then, my lord if I may asked, why are you alone here, with only the Kings Drak-Hammers and a few Kislevites?” Stromni asked quite puzzled.

“I am not exactly alone,” and he wanted to say that Kari was with him but said nothing and continued on with the real reason. “Stromni can you believe it, I was bored!” He said with a laugh and the clansman of Norsca looked up and some recognized Drazhgrund and a few who did not thought he was Grombrindal who he disabused them of this notion.

“Then will you join your force with mine or are you content with where you are amongst the war machines and Slayers?”

“We are fine where we are and I will protect your flank. Though if you would and if you are sure you could spare them send me one of the Quarreler units. I fear the High King has placed to high a reliance on the Slayers holding the flank as they guard the war machines from a flank attack. I think the Quarrelers are in need there and the hill will give them an unobstructed view of the battlefield.”

Lord Stromni looked toward the right flank as if he could pierce the morning gloom nodded and motioned for his son, Morgrim who stood with Morik not to far away trying not to listen but did all the same. “Son, muster your Quarrelers with Lord Drazhgrund and serve him as well as you have served me and you will have mine and the Kings gratitude.” Stromni and Drazhgrund clasp forearms and Drazhgrund turned away as the great horns of the High Kings musicians shook the pine needles from the trees.

As Lord Stromni watched his son and his Quarrelers follow his great great grand sire, Lord Drazhgrund back to the hill more rumors came to light following the blaring sounds of the horns just like the rising sun that revealed the enemy. Grimgor Ironhide is amidst the Grob Horde, its leader and he was seen to be in a foul mood as he slashed his way amidst his Grobi kin in search of the crown knowing that one of them has it for their own use.

Drazhgrund stood among the war machines as he direct where Morgrim was to place his Quarrelers half way down the small hill between the Slayers at the bottom of the hill and the war machines on top. He directed the two Kossar units to set up on either side of the Drak-Hammers who set up to the left of the Quarrelers right behind two more units of Slayers. As he watched Kari shut and locks the Gomril Clarasch case several of the engineers including one with bright orange hair of a Slayer came to him asking for permission to fire. Drazhgrund looked at them and said no, not until the High King gives the order.

“But Grombrindal…” and Drazhgrund cut him off sharply with a look that spoke volumes.

It was Kari who spoke. “He is not old enough to be Grombrindal” she said with laughter in her voice. Then her voice became stern, steel like, and hard as stone. “You speak to Lord Drazhgrund, the High King’s cousin the Karugromthi of Karaka Draka, and my…” She did not finish.

“Why master engineer do you think we should open fire?” Lord Drazhgrund asked as Kari stood after placing the locked case with the rest of the Drak-Hammers campaign gear. She stood there adjusting her cloak and gorget that protected her throat before pulling the mail coit down over her head. Listening she placed a sheep fur lined Drak-Hammer helm upon her head, tightening down the helm straps and then snapped the Dawi Gromril battle-mask into place hiding her face. When she finished she settled her weapon in the crook of one arm. The master engineer was still reeling from the unspoken threat coming from Kari and still was fearful for her life and knew that there would be no running when she stood there calmly girding herself for battle after just playing music that took many of them home in their hearts. No he and his crew would stand and fight no matter the odds. Then he answered the Dawi Lords question.

“My lord, there the black "I swear too much" stands” as he pointed toward Grimgor Ironhide who strode back in forth in front of his horde taunting the Dawi, as he raised a killing frenzy within his army. “I have him bore sighted with three of the cannon right now and I can gut him where he stands with me cannon.” The engineer gestured once again toward Grimgor the other engineer the one with the bright orange hair in charge of the goblin hewer nodded in agreement.

Drazhgrund turned and looked across the field seeing the huge Black Grob with his mighty axe called Gitsnik wearing armor that looked to be Dawi made but more than likely made by our eastern kin, the Frurndar of the Mountains of Mourn and The Plains of Zhar. After all that is where Grimgor and his men came from, marching out of the Plains of Zhar into the World Edge Mountains so many years ago. He wore chaos tainted, chaos made Gromril armor said to be blood-forged. During the last war, the time when he and the High King had fought together in Kislev against chaos they had seen cannon waste more than one shot against Grimgor to no effect. He turned back to the master engineer and asked for his long scry glass which he brought up to his eye and scanned the Grob formations. His attention was riveted to a single large unit and then he looked to the High King who was looking directly at him. He saw High King Thorgrim raise his axe above his head and slash downward giving him the agreed upon sign. Drazhgrund turned back to the master engineer and spoke.

“We do not make war upon generals or warlords.” The engineer was confused and Drazhgrund continued. “If you hit and killed him the Grob will turn tail and run and we would be hard pressed to gather them altogether in one spot again to kill them.” And he shook his head and handed the engineer his glass back. “I have a better target for you,” and pointed out the second unit of Black Grob. “See that mob?” The engineer nodded. “See the standard bearer, see what he has hanging from the cross piece?” The engineer nodded, his features became grim, hard, dangerous as he went to four of the six cannon on the hill and bore sighted on the motionless Black Grob unit as he aim directly for the standard bearer’s chest and its grizzly trophy of a dead Dawi strung up upon the tall standard. He told the crews of the fifth and six cannon with their Runes of Disguise to wait for flanks shots and not to fire until they were told to or if they were about to be over run. When the master engineer looked up from the last cannon, he looked again at the target, they had not moved. It was as if both armies were waiting for something perhaps Gork and Mork for the Grob or perhaps an approval from our Dawi Ancestor Gods. But for what ever reason both sides were rallying taunting each other across the battlefield when four cannon a top the hill fired as one when Drazhgrund nodded to the master engineer. Four of the six cannon atop the hill and one more along the front line shook the forest with a thunderclap but it was the five cannon balls that streaked across the distance some hitting the ground just short of the target and then bounce into and through the front rank while others hit dead on and one to overshoot and plow into and through another unit. The hill erupted in a loud huzzah when they saw the cannon balls hit, flinging the standard high into the sky as three of the cannon balls smashed through five ranks of Black Grob killing over half of them leaving them as nothing more than shattered armor and bloody and broken flesh steaming in the cool morning air.

The entire Grob front line moved like a giant green tidal wave and rushed toward the waiting Dawi who stood there like a steal breakwater. Each of the Grob flanks with its Grobi Wolf Riders, Grob Boar Riders, and Grobi Spider Riders rushed forward outpacing their infantry counterparts as they moved left and right in an attempt to turn the Dawi flanks. The Drak-Hammers were positioned midway down the small hill with the Kossars on either side. From the position they could see clearly the entire battlefield. Morgrim was conferring with Lord Drazhgrund for any last instructions before he returned to his Quarrelers as he turned to leave he saw a large flash of flame from the far left flank of the Dawi line as the Dawi flame cannon shot fourth its boiling volatile concoction of burning oil and tar that spewed toward a column of Grob Boar Riders landed just short but splashing the entire column in flaming liquid. The survivors panic and ran back the way they came but not so the Boar Chariots which were behind the Boar Riders, they kept coming.

From his position Lord Stromni and his Throng watched as the Grom surged forward as a result of the well placed cannon shots. He walked back and fourth in front of the Norsca Expeditionary Forces giving them more than his usual pre-battle comments. This time he reminded them that this time they fought in the presence of the High King as well as their own Karugromthi as he pointed toward Lord Drazhgrund and wondered who the Dawi was that stood beside him not recognizing the obvious Gnutrommi or young Dawi youth. Morik called out to Lord Stromni that the Grob were now within Quarreler range and he gave him permission fire and noticed that up and down the line other Quarrelers were about to fire as well and Stromni knew that Morik would direct their fire at the most threatening Grob unit. As cloud of quarreler bolts filled the intervening space and soon Grob and Grobi were falling to the mass volley fire of the Grob. Then Lord Stromni heard his Langktrommi standard bearer say “Valaya for what we are about to received!” as many of the Dawi looked up into the sky as the Grob rock lobbers fired huge chunks of rock or in some cases large tree stumps towards the Dawi line as well as Grobi bolt throwers firing their wrist thick sharp pointed bolts at the Dawi.

The sky between the armies was filled with white clouds of cannon smoke and now the Dawi thunder with their rifled muskets were opening up adding the billing clouds of smoke and noise. Sometimes these projectiles, quarreler bolts and rocks seemed to occupy the same space and the rocks slammed into units but more often than not overshooting an landing in the woods or falling short and landing atop their own Grob who were advancing across the battlefield. The bolt throwers of both sides were deadly when they hit punching through rank after rank or Dawi or Grob. The ranks closed up, the Dawi priests of Valaya pulling the wounded aside for treatment the dead they lay aside as well but reverently and moved on. Not so the Grob who cared little who fell or died as long as it was not them.

As they continued toward the Dawi line some of the Grob and Grobi started bickering and fighting amongst themselves forgetting the Dawi whom they came to fight until a Black Grob smashed a few heads and ordered them forward. The battle was chaotic and from her vantage spot in the second rank near yet right behind Lord Drazhgrund she saw a Grobi Wolf Chariot and a unit of Grobi Wolf Riders charge into the Slayer unit in front of the Drak-Hammers. The impact of the chariot sent several of the Slayers to the ground and the chariot imbedded itself into the units. Soon the Slayers, wolfs, and the Grobi driver and riders were in hand to hand combat. The wolf riders with their heavy spears and armor hardly seemed to get into combat before the whole unit turned and tried to break combat and flee only stumble and be run down from behind by the fast moving Slayers who soon found themselves out of position bereft of support and soon in combat with a unit of Grob Boar Riders who charged them in the flank. Lord Drazhgrund motioned for the Kossar boyar to be ready to fill the gap if the Slayers fell.

Lord Stromni soon saw that the entire Dawi line would be on hand to hand he figured another quarter candle mark at the present rate of their advance. Still the Quarrelers, Thunders, and cannon crews fired. Often times he saw entire ranks dissolve as a cannon fired from the hill on the right flank firing down the long axis of the Grob or Grobi unit. Then a unit of Night Grobi who seemed to outpace its compatriots spewed forth its fanatics, three crazed Grobi fanatics doped upon on Madcap mushrooms that made them oblivious to their surroundings as they swung hung massive iron spiked balls on lengths of chain as they came forward to bash into the nearest Dawi units. They were fearsome in their destruction but from what he had seen in the past they were often times just as destructive to their own forces as they had no sense of direction in their drug induced craze.

The Grob and Grobi shaman cast their god given magical spells from Gork and Mork upon the Dawi Drangthrong paying special attention to the Slayers and the Thunders who are the more weakly armored Dawi not to mention the Dawi war machine crews. The Runelords and Runesmiths of the Drangthrong often dispelled the arcane energies of the shaman but still some of those magical energies came through their defenses slaying those who were unlucky.

Soon he said to himself soon, and Lord Drazhgrund nodded as he saw two units of tunneling miners who came up out of the ground to silence two Grob rock lobba war machines as they attacked the crews and disabled the machines. Soon he said to himself as he saw the Norsca Expeditionary Force sounds the horns, all up and down the line Quarrelers and Thunders began setting aside their crossbows and bring forth their great weapons, their axes as they settled their shields upon their arms in preparation for hand to hand combat.

Grimgor Ironhide, the Black Grob warlord was charging right toward the High Kings position when Drazhgrund atop the shield carried by his stalwart shield bearers spotted Grombrindal, the White Dwarf who was being carried aloft upon a shield by his shield bearers. But his shield bearers where not Drak-Hammers but Joseph Bugman and Gortek the Daemon Slayer and they swiftly charged forward toward Grimgor Ironhide and his Black Grob bodyguard. Drazhgrund would have liked to continue to stand there and watch the titanic battle between the four legendary warriors but he had his own problems. The Slayers to his front had fallen to the last destroying the Grobi Wolf Chariot with the final swing but now another unit of Black Grob and Grob ‘Uns threatened to charge up the hill.

Then the orange hair engineer who had stoically stood there biding his time fired the Hewer into the Grob ‘Uns giving Morgrim and his Quarrelers time to reformed into a massive block of warriors wielding their own destructive great weapons. He looked over his shoulder to Kari who looked up at him through her battle mask and all he saw was her calm steel blue eyes gazing back at him, they nodded at each other and he turned back to face the oncoming Black Grob. Drazhgrund had previously told the Kossars that if the Drak-Hammers were charged they were to charge in support and hit any unit in their flank. A tactic he saw that the Empire used which to him seem quiet sound. Suddenly the Black Grob stumbled as they charged up the hill, stumbling over the sharpened stakes that had been placed at the base of the hill with rope stretched between the stakes at ankle level. Drazhgrund looked to his left and his right as he roared out an order for the engineers to keep on firing as he gave the command to the Kossars and the Drak-Hammers to charge into the Black Grob. Not to be outdone the Morgrim ordered his quarrelers to charge the Grob ‘Uns. When the charge order when out the Boyar in charge of the Ungol Horse Archers slipped off the hill circled around and was coming in behind the Grob battle line on their way toward a position to cut off any Grob retreat they shot up two Grobi bolt throwers crews, their arrow festooned bodies left draped over their own war machine.

The command to charge was loud and clear and at first Lord Stromni thought it was the High King’s order but when he looked toward the hill he saw Lord Drazhgrund’s small force charge downhill into the maw of battle. The Drak-Hammers slammed into the Black Grob and the Kossar units on either side of the Hammers executed a double charge that hit the Black Grob’s in either flank. A perfectly executed charge but still, Black Grob were the most fierce most savage, most deadly of all Grob kind and to meet them head on was something to think twice about. Lord Stromni continued to watch he had a few moments before his own unit became engaged in mortal combat and he watched Lord Drazhgrund carried into battle fighting atop a Dawi battle shield his great war hammer smashing wide swatches into the front rank of the Black Grob. Stromni watched the Drak-Hammers standard bearer fall and a Black Grob grabbed the staff but then he heard a blood curdling scream that could only have come from a Dawi female he realized that the Gnutrommi Dawi whom he did not recognize charge forward grab the Drak-Hammer standard away from the Grob as she filled the position left by the falling standard bearer. With the standard in one hand her glowing rune axe in the other she slashed through armor, dismembering limbs and heads sending them flying in all directions from her foes as she struck into the heart of the Grob line. As Kari moved into the bloody maw so too did her Drak-Hammer bodyguards and together they carved the heart out of the center of the Black Grob unit as the Kossars on either flank tore into the sides. Grob and Dawi died often times to fall dead in each others arms a parody of lovers in each others arms, their weapons covered in each other blood their hatred of each other often enough to keep them fighting long after the body was dead and still they fought. Then the hill was lost from sight as Lord Stromni’s Langktrommi found themselves in combat with a Night Grobi unit with spears.

When the Black Grob unit collapsed they had no where to run and when they tried the Kossars ran them down killing them to the last. Drazhgrund quickly directed the Kossar unit on his right to flank the Grob who were in combat with the quarrelers as he directed the Drak-Hammers and the Kossars back into their original position. That Kari was in the front rank holding aloft the unit’s standard and the Block Grob’s standard lay at her feet made him proud but also fearful, fear of loneliness if she should be killed and that felt awkward because he also felt something else beside pride as he smiled down into her upturned face as they appraised each other around them the Kossars, the Drak-Hammers and the Quarrelers were chanting; “Kari, Kari, Kari,” followed by “Drazhgrund, Drazhgrund, Drazhgrund.” She was embarrassed and they both turned their attention back to the center of the battlefield where he noticed that one of the tunnels made by the miners had collapsed catching a unit Grobi who were two small to climb out and were being helped by their comrades in arms. It was this unit the Ungol Horse Archers fired upon. Then he heard a loud explosion and felt the shock wave pass over his head but since they were below the crest of the hill the destruction caused by the exploding cannon did them no harm. The other cannon slowly picked up the pace as began firing at targets of opportunity.

From his position Drazhgrund could tell that the Dawi line was not longer a solid line of Dawi units. Here and there Dawi units had surged forward or others fell back and some were completely destroyed but still the front line held. Then a loud huzzah rang out in the middle of the Dawi line as the Grob Battle Standard Bear went down, then a roar of rage was heard and the Runesmith later said they felt the magic of a powerful weapon shattered and when it did Grimgor was forced to retire, nay rout and when he did every Grob and Grobi within sight began to throw down their weapons and flee only to be cut down. All along the front line the Grob were falling back and the Dawi kept at them at bay as a fighting retreat was impossible. In the end it was every Grob for themselves and many who had not seen the fall of Grimgor began running away from the fight as they ran the war machines on the hill fired into the fleeing mass. The Ungol Horse Archers ran their arch enemies to the ground as they overtook the fleeing Grob showing them new mercy.

Of the five Drak-Hammers who filled the front rank, one was killed and two were wounded. Kari stood beside Drazhgrund, who was no longer held aloft aboard the battle shield watched and listened and as the sounds of the battle gave way to the sounds of death or near death, the Dawi priests of Valaya and Grimnir walked amongst the wounded Dawi rendering aid and if so needed a final blessing for the dying was given. Those Grob who lay upon the field wounded or dying were dispatched with little compassion and little waste of time and as this was done the High King and his body guard searched every single Grob body and their equipment for any sign of Dawi made weapons, armor, or artifacts. From their vantage point on the hill neither could see if Alaric’s crown was discovered and or recovered. What he did know was the High King had come prepared with a box to cart of the Crown if it was ever found. Drazhgrund knowing the High King as he did knew that no proclamation would be forth coming till he and the crown were safely back in Karaz,-a-Karak.

Turning to Morgrim, Drazhgrund orders him to clear the hill of any dead Grob to stack them like cord wood at the bottom of the hill to be burned. Then he and carry followed by his two shield bearers pick their way across the battle field filled with scattered bodies, an untold number of Black Grob, Grob ‘Uns, and Grobi of all kinds. From their wounds it appeared that some fought amongst themselves as well against the Dawi which was not all that unusual. As they walked an armored Grob pretending to be dead leaped to his feet and swung his mighty choppa at Drazhgrund only be cut down as Kari’s rune axe removed the Grob’s head from his shoulder and her follow through took the weapons arm off at the elbow. The two shield bearers were taken aback by the ferocity of Kari’s attack and a little ashamed that she had protected their lord and master when it should have been they so one took the lead and the other followed behind as they headed for Lord Stromni’s position.

In the growing darkness of the late afternoon they were half way their when they heard the clanking of the Hewer turned and saw it fire its lethal projectiles at a Dark Elgi raiding party that had almost gained a foothold upon the hill in their attempt to capture a few slaves for their blood rite rituals. Where they had come from no one knew but they now had the attention of every Dawi with a quarreler as a black cloud of bolts suddenly filled the air. Between the Hewer and the Quarrelers the Dark Elgi fell and were soon seen fleeing into the cover of the dark forest but not before the Ungol Horse Archers fired another volley dropping nearly all the remainders. These too were added to the pyres of the dead to be soon burned.

My lord, King Thorin this was the last battle in the campaign for the Nemesis crown. It is my pleasure to report to you that the Dawi of the Norsca Expeditionary Forces performed extremely well. Please see the attachments for those whose service to the King should be recognized.

Your obedient servant
Lord Stromni “Skull Krusher” Ragnison

Edited by Skull Krusher, 14 August 2007 - 01:36 AM.

#37 Skull Krusher

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 01:16 AM

Kraka Draka - Party Thirty five

The Nemesis Campaign was over, it had been for over a month and the Norsca Dawi longed for the cooler climate and the comforts of hearth and kin. But as long as their Throngrink was in Karaz-a-Karak they had to remain and there was no one who desires to return more than Kari and Lord Drazhgrund. But for now Lord Drazhgrund was putting the finishing touches to trade agreements for Kraka Drak and other political matters and nuptials would have to wait for just a bit longer though several feasts and celebrations had been held..

Nether Lord Drazhgrund Kartinson of Clan Durazklad from the karak of Kraka Drak of Norsca nor his far younger but very distant cousin the High King of Karaz-a-Karak; Thorgrim Grudgebearer also of Clan Durazklad ever wanted to discuss or think about Alaric’s crown and what it cost the Dawi race. But something had to be entered into the official archives so that never again would a Dawi Runesmith bring shame and disgrace to the ancestors and the Dawi race as a whole. They met in Thorgrim’s private chambers accompanied by the Loremaster and his apprentice who were to document what had become known as the Nemesis Crown or to many who had fought and or died in the forest of the Empire far from hearth and kin; Alaric’s Folly the Rune of Ages. Though Thorgrim was the King and this was his Karaz he waited until Drazhgrund the Throngrink of the entire clan sat down before he took his seat followed by the Loremaster and his apprentice at a nearby table.

Drazhgrund sat there full tankard in one hand a lit pipe in the other thinking about what brought the Dawi of Norsca south to the old forest of the Empire. It started with a simple dispatch to all the Dawi karaks “The Rune of Ages had been found!” That simple dispatch caused the Throngs from various karaks surrounding the Empire to march to war. A war that did not have to be but had been necessitated by the response of the dispatch as the Empire found itself besieged and invaded by over ten thousand seven hundred and sixty five war-bands from nearly every race of the Old World who came to burn and pillage. True we Dawi with fifteen hundred and fifteen Throngs and Drazhgrund firmly believed that many of these throngs were like the regiments of the Empire, paper tigers that existed only on paper. But still the Dawi came like all the others marching to war but we came as liberators to free Sigmar’s Empire of its worst enemies, itself in the mad desire of Karl Franz to take position of the Rune of Ages and those sworn enemies of the Empires; the Grob, the Skaven, the untold hosts of Chaos, all manner of Elgi, and Umgi, not to mention the scores of undead. Drazhgrund and the High King were pleased that Karl Franz had finally recognized the crown as evil incarnate. Still there had been a great many battles fought through out the Great Forest in the opening days. The heroic deed’s of the Dawi race has done much to ensure that the Empire and Dawi remained allies as Sigmar and King Kurgan Ironbeard so desired. Drazhgrund continued to listen as the Thorgrim dictated to the Loremasters interjecting comments and insights but his train of thought was entirely elsewhere.

Great heroic deeds. Drazhgrund thoughts stopped, yes it has been said that many heroic deeds were achieved by the “forces of light” and not all of them were carried out by the Dawi. Drazhgrund paused in his thinking to interject a comment for the Loremaster at which Thorgrim was in agreement and then he was thinking about those few deeds Thorgrim had mentioned and shook his head thinking that the Umgi have such great potential but that their short lifespan makes it nearly insurmountable for a great many of them to live up to it. That evil could be heroic never crossed Drazhgrund's mind it was unthinkable there was nothing heroic in being a follower of evil. Then his train of thought moved on thinking of ‘the Great Forest” and how it had been divided up into nine regions to maximize the effectiveness of the search. Nine heavily forested war zones in which often times the search for Alaric’s Foley was all but forgotten by many in their pursuit for glory or the furtherance of their foul master’s nefarious goals.

Drazhgrund looked across the room to the map that sat upon the tables. One small scale map depicting the whole of The Great Forest and nine larger scale terrain maps depicting each of the war zones. He pictured each map with the devices representing the deployed Throngs in his mind; the Draken Downs with eighty Throngs, the Drakwald Deeps with fifty six Throngs, the Reik’s Marches with ninety three Throngs, the Howling Heights with forty four Throngs, the Rauberbal with two hundred and six Throngs, the Great Confluence with one hundred and twenty Throngs the Talabec Borders with four hundred forty seven Throngs, the Barren Hills with two hundred ninety seven Throngs, and lastly the Taalford Lowlands with one hundred seventy two Throngs. Nine war zones all with one thing in common, “the Great Forest” where the trees grow so thick in places that few can force a way through them much less stay in any type of formation and nearly impossible on horseback but what was more ominous was that it is the lair of mutants, Beastman, Goblins, and worse. Not so many as before the crown was recovered but still a nominal threat to the Empire.

Thorgrim began talking about heroic deeds and accomplishments again but those in each of the war zones starting with the Barren Hills where the combined might of nearly three hundred Dawi Throngs swept through the region scouring it of mutants and Beastman that prey upon the unwary inhabitants and travelers. The Giant’s Tump the flat topped mountain plateau that soars above the Barren Hills with its commanding presence had been fortified and already scores of expatriate Ruebatuki or Gazani have converged upon the Giant’s Tump renaming it Karak Grontiklug. In the short time that the search had ended the Karak Grontiklug or Giant Mountain as the Dawi citizens of have called it have began building a continuous curtain wall that will be fifty strides wide at the base and nearly one hundred tall where twenty warriors can walk abreast that will ring the plateau and protect the city. Already city streets have been laid out, great stone buildings are rising, and commerce is flowing back and forth between the major cities of the Empire and the various Karaks of Karaz Ankor. What Drazhgrund thought humorous was a large well situated bar and small micro brewery was built almost overnight called the PIODT Inn. It has a great many customers but so far has produced almost no profit for the beleaguered owner and even High King Thorgrim wondered how a Dawi innkeeper could be so duh. Both he and the High King had heard the Joseph Bugman had re-established his Brewery known as Fortress Brewery at an unknown location with the help and gratitude of the High King but it was rumored to be on the site of Bugman’s greatest victory over Grimgor Ironhide. It has been said that the former great Black Grob’s mighty axe “Gitsnik” was shattered and is now mounted above the door of the Brewery. Whether any of this is true is not known but already a small keg of Bugman’s was found at the PIODT Inn. On a side note Drazhgrund noted with approval that Emperor Karl Franz has even elevated the Thane who is in charge of the Dawi militia and the mayor of the new fortress of Karak Grontiklug to Viscount for services rendered to the Empire and given the new Viscount his standing orders to act as Warden of the Old Dwarf Road and to keep an eye on the area of the Great Forest to ensure the safety of the Empire’s citizens and the merchants who travel the roads as well as rebuild the roads where they have fallen into ruin and keeping the forest from encroaching.

Then the discussion turned to Reik’s Marches and Drazhgrund asked the High King “Why the Dawi assigned to the Reik’s Marshes attempted to seize Bergerhoff. From looking at the scouting reports and the maps of the region this great fortress serves as the Empire’s focal point of protection for the region. We were not at war with the Empire and even though it was built by Dawi it was done so as a friendly gesture from King Kurgan Ironbeard to his friend and ally Sigmar. If they had been successful and taken Bergerhoff by force of arms they might as well have destroyed what ever good will there is between the Empire and Karaz Ankor not to mention the terrible waste of resources that are now being spent in the for of reparations to repair the fortress not to mention the tragic loss of Dawi blood. There is no mention in scouting reports about Bergerhoff being a citadel of evil if it was I would say level it. But spending the entire war attacking a Dawi built fortress is not finding the Rune of Ages”. The Loremasters were stunned when Drazhgrund finished his statement to the High King and they each thought that their lord and master would place Drazhgrund’s name into the Dammas Kron but Thorgrim just sat there in his chair as he looked at the map of the Empire and slowly nodded saying that mistakes were made and left it at that.

The discussion had moved onto The Great Confluence where the Talabec and Delb rivers joined together to flow into the Reik River then onward to the sea. Drazhgrund thought of the strategic significance of the Empire’s mighty river system in both commerce and national defense. Both he and the High King shook their heads in agreement that it was just like these short lived Umgi that they would think of the river system only in terms of commerce and not defense. The mighty river was like any weapon, used correctly it could be a lethal tool, used incorrectly or not at all then it could turn on you. One hundred and twenty Throngs surged into the area in search for the Rune of Ages but like so many they too could not see the forest through the trees as the majority of the Throngs focused on the City of Flusgard. Good will and Dawi gold does more to secure a base of operations than the use of hammer and axe. Once again Drazhgrund thought the whole war was so short sighted and thought maybe it had to do with his great age after all he was born prior to the Age of the Three Emperors. Where all three Emperors; Nuln, Talabheim, and Middenheim pledge friendship with the Dawi. But the Karaz Ankor and the Empire have been friends since the days of Sigmar and conducting a search and destroy mission was of little use except to destroy that oath between Sigmar and King Kurgan Ironbeard. Destroy the enemies of the Empire in the search for the Rune of Ages was a far better method than creating more enemies since the enemies of the Empire were the Dawi’s as well. Still the Throngs within The Great Confluence did find the dirty little Grobi who was wearing nothing more than a cloth hat decorated with gold leaves. It was thought he was trying to disguise himself as he moved about the Great Forest. Better to use a Rune of Disguise and Silence he chuckled to himself.

They all sat their in silence as one of the High Kings lesser Stewards came in bringing another keg of beer, this one labeled Norsca Drak Ale, and set loaves of bread and a wheel of cheese before each of them before departing. Somewhere off in the distance Drazhgrund heard Kari’s voice as she and High King’s family conversed. It panged him some that she was not sitting at his side but then the High King was a little old fashioned and was somewhat distressed when he heard that Kari had fought at his side during the search for the Alaric’s lost artifact. As he sliced a hunk of cheese he saw that Thorgrim had started discussing the Talabec Boarders. Between the two of them they both thought the other eight regions were strictly side shows in the great search for the crown after all the greatest battles were fought at the Headless Badger, the Hanging Tree, the Stone of Blood, Tower of Moonrise, and lastly Vragthar’s Monolith. This is not to take away from the great heroic deeds in the other eight regions but in was in the Talabec Boarders that evidence of Alaric’s presence had been found. The partial maps in the basement brewery of the Headless Badger, the numerous axes with the Rune of Cutting found upon the battlefield site of the Stone of Blood, and the Hanging Tree. Runes never before seen or had been forgotten and already Runesmiths are coming to Karaz-a-Karak to learn their secrets. But to Drazhgrund and the High King almost as important as finding the Rune of Ages was the Alaric notes detailing how to create the Rune of Verminkill. It is a rune that is well known to the ancestor goddess Valaya who taught all to place such a rune upon a lentil or threshold of a doorway leading to food storerooms and water sources. But Alaric in his need for atonement for creating the Rune of Ages, his great folly created the Rune of Verminkill that could be placed upon weapons. A weapon that when it struck any of the Skaven race caused (1d3 Strength 5) deadly incurable wounds and already the High King had ordered his Runelords to learn the secret and pass the knowledge on to all the Runelords within Karaz Ankor and begin equipping Dawi warriors with axes and hammers with this rune as soon as possible. Drazhgrund foresaw a day of reckoning with the Skaven in the near future.

The Loremasters had been quiet during most of the High Kings analysis of the Nemesis campaign but then the youngest raised his voice and asked: “Do you think the Alliance between the Empire and Karaz Ankor has been shattered?”

Thorgrim pondered the question then looked to Drazhgrund for his opinion since he and the Karak of Karaka Drak were far enough away to be considered an outsider and it was that view point he wanted to hear. Lord Drazhgrund gave a nod searched threw some broadsheets that he had kept glanced at them before speaking. “If you believe that the Mattengard Muckraker is the voice of Karl Franz or the Empire then the old alliance between Sigmar and King Kurgan Ironbeard is no more.” He looked to Thorgrim and could tell that the High King did not believe this so he continued. “During the first weeks of the campaign the Muckraker was praising Karaz Ankor for coming to their rescue and repeatedly praised our efforts to karak and fortified the Headless Badger. Then the following broadsheet is published staying our “erstwhile” allies are no longer so and it was the Dawi who retook the Tower of Moonrise from the Grob and they complained when we did not turn the tower over to the Talabeclander Militia. From all accounts the militia could not find a weapon unless is shoved up their arse. But be that as it may the next broadsheet is posted in the towns square proclaiming that the Dawi artillery faltered in their duty to fire upon the hanging tree and then in the next breath saying that their brave artillerymen almost won the day. In the same publication they accuse Dawi of destroying a fair and noble village of the glorious Empire, their evidence rusted pick-axes and helmet they claim are of Dawi origin. When was the last time you ever saw a rusty pick-axe much less a rusty Dawi miner’s helmet? Lastly the Muckraker said the that High King and his Dawi leaders had tracked down the resting place of the Nemesis Crown and had secretly removed it from the Empire. Which is humorous since this is the only thing the Muckraker has said that had any truth to it. They also say we tricked the Empire and urged citizens of the Empire to be weary of any Dawi war bands and to immediately report our presence to the nearest militia outpost.” He looked at the Loremasters and the High King before finishing. “I for one think that the owner of the Mattengard Muckraker may be in the pay of either the Skaven of perhaps Bretonnia, it would not surprise me in the least. Neither is to be trusted and if the Mattengard Muckraker can yell loud enough or long enough then Empire citizens may come to believe what has been told to them. Printed lies often are more believable than spoken truths. But until you see Karl Franz acting in concert with the publishers of the Muckraker then I think that the alliance of old will stand firm. I do not think the alliance will fall. If it has done so then why elevate the Thane of Karak Grontiklug to Viscount?”

“In the mean time I think a keg of Bugman’s latest and perhaps a newly forged sword with the Rune of Cutting for his newest son would not be amiss in ensuring the friendship and the alliance between Karaz Ankor and the Empire of Sigmar still stands.” The High King nodded in agreement and the young Loremaster was already writing up Drazhgrund’s latest comment. A complete record the young Loremaster muttered under his breath as he reached for another drink from his tankard.

Then the discussion turned to the Rune of Ages, or Alaric’s Folly as Drazhgrund thought of it. When the Nemesis Crown had finally been located, the High King ordered no one to touch it. He had several Throngs secure the area in and around that portion of the forest but it was not so cordoned off since Morik told Drazhgrund that the Wood Elgi watched and guarded the area as well. The Runelord and Master Engineers had a specially prepared box lined inside and out with thick slabs of lead laminated between sheets of Gromril. Then the High King wearing thick gloves and using a set of forge tongs picked up the Nemesis Crown and placed it inside the box and the tongs were dropped in as well before the lid was set on top and soldered in place. The box was set inside a Dawi shaped sarcophagus emblazed with the likeness of a fallen Dawi Thane who had died in the campaign and the High King and the Throngs escorted the fallen Dawi back from the Talabec Boarder region to Karaz-a-Karak. A funeral was held but whether that sarcophagus or another was placed in the burial chambers no one will ever know. Drazhgrund only knew the coffin and the unknown location where it had been entombed had so many protective runes not to mention physical traps placed upon it and the burial location that anyone attempting to steal it would be killed and if you did not have the intricate rune inscribed key you would never find the door much less open it. He surely hoped so since they had not found a way to destroy it.

#38 Skull Krusher

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 01:22 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Thirty Six

Gorril the master Loremaster of Kraka Drak sat reading the last entry by Lord Drazhgrund and Lord Stromni of the Norsca Expeditionary Force which was made up of the four karaks of Norsca as well as the allied contingents of Kislev. Never in the history of the four Norsca karaks had a Dawi throng been called to arms by the High King of Karaz Ankor. He and his apprentices had interviewed every surviving member of the throng often times journeying to the other three karaks so as to have a complete history of the throng and what had been accomplished. All told the individual historical accounts plus the official dispatches and letters of their 146 day saga took up nearly five hundred tomes and one small section of the massive archive. But a Loremaster’s job is never done, every day opens a new page in the history of Kraka Drak. He sat their drinking his ale as he read finished reading the last entry of Lord Drazhgrund.

32nd day of Valdazet
It was time to go return to Norsca, back to hearth and kin. Though the Norsca Expeditionary Force as well as their Kislev comrades were made welcome it was time to return. Karaz-a-Karak was nearly 1000 leagues south of the Talabec Boarders and Lord Drazhgrund alone had been in Karaz-a-Karak not long after the Final Battle of Grovod Forest when last Chaos incursion was defeated. But then it had been a heady reunion of the Norsca Dawi with their southern kin in the Worlds Edge Mountains. They had been sundered for nearly 6,000 years and High King Thorgrim had invited his long lost northern kin to the Day of Zagazdeg or remembrance. This time it was different. Karaz-a-Karak was depressing despite the richness of the grand halls, it was its emptiness that depressed Lord Drazhgrund the fact that the capital of Ankor Karaz could easily karak 350,000 Dawi during the Golden Years within the underground city easily but the population today was a little over 90,000. Vast sections of the capital lay empty and this fact alone depressed Lord Drazhgrund, though members of the Norsca Expeditionary Forces were overwhelmed by the vastness of the capital. But Drazhgrund longed to be back in Norsca, to Kraka Drak where the population still had room to expand as miners and stone carvers expanded the karak even after 6,000 years. Not so here, here Dawi were needed and needed desperately and the only solution that Drazhgrund could see would be the welcoming back of the Ruebatuki and the Gazani; those Dawi who lived amongst the Umgi for various reasons. If only the High King made an effort to recruit them back to hearth and kin. At least Drazhgrund and Stromni had managed to convince a few Gazani of the Empire whose ancestral Karaks had been overrun by the Grob and Skaven to immigrate to Norsca offering them safe passage and sponsorship; in fact one whole clan from the city of Nuln would meet him and the Norsca Throng in the port city of Erengrad upon their return.

During their stay, their Kislev allies never were allowed entrance into the underground Karak of Karaz-a-Kadrin instead they were housed within the above ground Dawikoni city where many Dawi and loyal Umgi who were known as “Dawikoni” or “almost Dawi” and it only covered those Umgi whose lineage has involved their ancestors living among Dawi for generations. It was only after giving binding oaths of silence were Lord Drazhgrund’s Kislev allies allowed entrance to the Ungdrin Ankor that led from Karaz-a-Karak to Zhufbar to Karaz Kadrin the Slayer Karak and even then they were blindfolded as they were lead underground through the secret doorway to the Ungdrin.

The Norsca Dawi were accustomed to travelling the Ungdrin and when Lord Drazhgrund explained the Ungruvalk canal that lead from Sjoktraken to the Sea of Claws the miners and engineers of Karaz-a-Karak were amazed. The long underground journey was entirely safe though the Ungol Horse Archers fared the worse during the journey as they were un-used to walking long distances. Their Dawi escort refused to allow the Kislev to ride despite the fact that the Ungdrin was 75 paces wide and nearly as high throughout the whole Ungdrin Ankor that at one time led to every Dawi karak, mine or grung, and outpost. The darkness of the Ungdrin was broken by glow lights mounted upon the smooth walls every quarter quarreller shot away and the silence was broken by the occasional drip of water or the sound of waterfalls that lead to underground rivers and lakes. Often these rivers and lakes supplied fresh fish, and the side tunnel pull-outs were loaded with coal so there was plenty of fuel for cooking their meals as way stations that had been cut into the Ungdrin walls where the Throng of Kraka Drak would spend each night. Every morning they would load up the six large ore carts with all their campaign gear, harness the grung ponies and continue on their way after a morning meal.

Through out the trip they often met other Dawi travelers, merchants, or miners coming or going and the sight of such three units of Umgi warriors would have caused battles to erupt if not for the Karaz-a-Karak escorts brandishings the High Kings warrant of free passage, and they displayed it for all to see and the fact that each and every Kislev Umgi wore a medallion proclaiming them Dawongi or Dawi friend kept the peace. On the last day of Kulkelzet, their 33 day of travel Lord Drazhgrund and his Throng reached Karak Kadrin the “Slayers Keep”. They had traveled a thousand leagues but this time instead of traveling across the face of the Empire and the Worlds Edge Mountains they traveled beneath them and the only battles they fought in the journey was 30 days of boredom and 3 days of terror where they fought and killed a tribe of trolls that had invaded the Ungdrin just short of Karak Kadrin.

After a short stay in Karak Kadrin they continued on to the capital of Kislev only now they traveled through the Ostermark along the Lower Talabec River until it joined the confluence of the Talabec and Urskoy River where they used the ferry crossing to leave the Talabheim Boarders to pass over the Urskoy River into southern Kislev. They had come nearly full circle for it took them seven days to reach the Port City of Erengrad on the 10th of Kulkelzet. As soon as they arrived the Dawi courier steam ship left port heading north to the Dawi seaport of Draksfjord. On the 18th of Kulkelzet twelve Dawi ships arrived in port lead by the Dunderkarak with her smaller consorts following behind. It took them nearly a half a day to load the Throng and their campaign gear. Four of the of the vessels loaded an entire clan of Gazani Dawi who tired of their life in Nuln and with Drazhgrund’s sponsorship moved north to their new karak no longer Gazani but Dawi of Karak Drak. On the 20th of Kulkelzet after 146 days the Norsca Expeditionary Force retuned back to hearth and kin a little smaller in numbers but richer in experience

The Loremaster had just finished reading over the last dispatch written by Lord Drazhgrund and Lord Stromni about their journey back from the Nemesis Campaign. He wondered what young Dawi would think about this portion of the karak history when they read about it a hundred years from now. He shook his head and closed the book

Edited by Skull Krusher, 25 August 2007 - 01:36 AM.

#39 Skull Krusher

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 05:30 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Thirty Seven

Hugnir, Kraka Drak’s Runelord watched as one of his Journeyman began placing all of the materials he would need on the anvil. He listened as Mogrim began to chant to Smednir and Thungni the ancestor gods, and as he chanted his hammer swung. His tongs moved the gromril back and forth from the forge to the anvil as ingots became sheets and sheets became tassets, and pauldrons, cops and couters, quises and greaves, gauntlets and gorget, vambraces and verbraces. The largest sheets of all became breast and back plates, each tapered and fluted to give greatest strength where most needed. Each piece nestled perfectly with the others, each joint articulating with fluidity of motion that made the armor seem alive, and a range of movement that would put an Empire court acrobat to shame. Hugnir watched patiently as the anvil rang while Mogrim worked tirelessly without slowing or hastening, timing each hammer stroke and each heating or quenching or tempering cycle with the steady cadence of the words of his chant. All the while Hugnir said nothing as he watched from the gantry high above the forge. Once Morgrim had completed the shaping he proceeded to heat and quench each piece and then begin the final assembly…

Hugnir was pleased when the Journeyman abruptly stopped his chanting and began a demonstration of the more colorful portions of the ancient Khazalid forge language. Morgrim swore as he piled the carefully crafted armor that was finer than any Umgi smith could produce and worth a small ransom within the Empire into the forge and began to pump the bellows, melting it all down into a bubbling lump of molten metal which he unceremoniously dumped in the quench bucket. Only another member of the Karangaz Clan knowledgeable in ancient Khazalid forge language might make out the terms for misaligned articulation holes, and rivets that thickened too much while being peened, and plates that warped out of true during tempering. Morgrim cleared the anvil, took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and began again to lay out ingots for another attempt.

Hugnir turned toward another and began watching. The constant hammer strikes reverberated throughout the large forge chamber and Hugnir, Kraka Drak’s Runelord could feel it in his bones; the hammer strokes from the various apprentices, journeyman, and master smiths when their hammers beat against their individual anvils as sparks flew and the near solid metal took on a new improved shape; be it a door hinge or a battleaxe. From the feel and the sound he instantly knew which of his workers had made a mistake that would cause them to start all over again and knew innately who was ready and who was not ready for the next step in their training. He never grew tired of the heat and the smell of the forges, to him the aroma of molten metal as it flowed into the forms was better than the finest ale, well almost.

Runelord Hugnir stood there upon the gantry looking down upon his realm, not King Thorin’s but his. Though he and the Karangaz clan swore fealty to the King this was one of the few areas within Kraka Drak that King Thorin could not enter without an invitation and the ability to detect the rune magic that hid passageway and the door and then there were the rune locks it had been this way since the founding of each and every Karak ever since the ancestor god Thungni, the first son of the Ancestor Gods Grungni and Valaya, who is the god of runic magic and rune smithing. Through out all of Karaz Ankor, each and every Runelord and that Karak’s Runesmith clan can trace their roots back to Grungni and Valaya and their son Thungni because Thungni had discovered that only he, and his father Grungni, and a few of their descendants had the gift of Rune magic. Every Runelord and their clan belonged to the same clan, Clan Karangaz. Not only is Hugnir the Runelord of Kraka Drak, he is the Throngrink or patriarch of Karangaz clan within Kraka Drak.

Today there would be a visitor to the Zharr Drak forge, though not of the Karangaz clan the visitor was related distantly by blood and marriage by at least four of his ancestors and three of his own progeny. Hugnir waited within the Thryng or shrine of Thungni pondering the message. He reread the message, it was short. “King Thorin sends a gift, a challenge, and asks a boon. May I present them to you after the mid meal bell has sounded?” and it was signed Lord Drazhgrund. Lord Hugnir looked up when he heard the doors open. Framed between the doors stood Lord Drazhgrund in heavy dark green robes that were nearly black, his long white hair had been brushed out and it hung down his back and over his shoulders merging with his floor length beard that had been braided into intricate weaves and festooned with gold rings and even from across the Thryng he could detect the rune magic on many beard rings as well as the mighty weapon he carried.. He truly looked not like the White Dawi Grombrindal but an ancestor god and he had to dismiss that notion from his mind but still standing there in the doorway the glow of the altar candles of Thungni framed Lord Drazhgrund’s head in a golden halo of light that took Hugnir’s breath away especially seeing that Lord Drazhgrund carried his war hammer and a large gromril bound book. Though they were both Throngrink of their respective clans Hugnir bowed his head in respect not to the Kings representative but to one of four living ancestors within Kraka Drak and then he gestured to one of the pews within the shrine and they both sat and faced each other.

“How may Clan Karangaz be of assistance?” Hugnir ask.

“The king wishes to commission a set of perfectly balance war hammers for his daughter, Kalea which will be presented to her upon the Rite of Kumenoubt when she becomes an adult.” Drazhgrund answered.

“From what I have heard the princess is quite the warrior within the Drak-Hammer training compound. While you were gone she managed to shatter the shield of her weapons trainer.” The Runelord said with a chuckle. “But what about her sister, Kettra what does she prefer?” Hugnir asked as he began sketching and taking notes in a small Drak leather bound book.

“Kettra is not so inclined, and though she is competent with both axe and hammer she prefers fighting with a single war hammer and a shield.” The twins Throngrink stated, “And as for their armor this is what their majesties would like Clan Karangaz to make and you will take note of the runes they would like forged into the weapons and armor.”

“When is the Rite of Kumenoubt for the twins?” Hugnir asked knowing full well he knew the answer already but he asked anyway as his thoughts went into just what the Throngrink of the royal clan wanted and already in his minds eye he saw armor breastplate taking shape and the possible designs each twin wanted.

“Seventeen seasons from now will be their Rite of Kumenoubt.” Drazhgrund said. “Plenty of time in the mean time I have something for you that the King and I discovered in the treasury vault of King Thorin Talonbreaker. From what we can determine from the records found within, this was a gift, a copy of an original forge journal.” Then he handed over a large Drak-leather bound book that was at least two hands thick and was closed with a large locked clasp.

Hugnir took the book and it looked rather insignificant until he looked at it with his other senses and felt the rune magic. The leaves of the book were of thin sheets of beaten copper and there was no writing upon the outside of the book what so ever and it was locked. When he looked up from the book he saw that Drazhgrund held a key out to him which he took inserted it into the lock and slowly turned. The clasp fell open and it was only then that Khazalid runic script appeared on the cover of the book and what he read nearly took his breath away as he read the ancient formal Khazalid, “Forge Journal of Arnek Ragasson of the Karangaz Clan” and below the title in some more Khazalid, “A complete list of Runes and their crafting”. Hugnir’s heart nearly stopped beating when he read the ancient Khazalid he looked at Drazhgrund and wondered how the King Thorin or for that matter Lord Drazhgrund had obtained the long lost book of the very first Runelord of Kraka Drak. All he knew was the Clan Karangaz would be forever be in debt to Clan Durazklad and the King and knew that the request for suitable weapons and armor for the Kings children was just the first payment of that debt one that his clan would gladly pay.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 01 October 2007 - 03:58 AM.

#40 Skull Krusher

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 04:04 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Thirty Eight

He was finished and as he slowly circled his work. The stone bas relief was a perfect likeness, he half expected the Drak-Hammer to sit up and ask for a tankard of ale. The long flowing hair, braided beard, the gromril links in the armor, even the hands and face looked real instead of carved stone. More than once he had to stop himself from trying to pick up the weapon that the Drak-Hammer held in his clasp hands but it too was made of stone. Oldar “Klinkafist” Ragnison of the Kol-Duraz Clan and a Guild Master of the Stoneshaper Guild stood back as he studied the sarcophagus. He alone had worked on this commission and had done so for over seventy five years and now it was done and now he hoped that it would be a long time before it would be used by the recipient. The carving, engraving, and polishing of the marbled grey stone took only twenty years and the gold inlay hardly any time at all, five years. It took him nearly fifty years to carve the full size likeness of his client attired in his Drak-Hammer armor. Now that he was finished he had only to contact Temple of Gazul and have one of the priest transport the sarcophagus to the royal burial vaults where it would be blessed and sanctified. Oldar shook his head, wondering when it would be used, but only the Ancestor Gods knew when Lord Drazhgrund would depart this life to join his ancestors. Satisfied Oldar turned toward his newest commission, the carving of another sarcophagus for his client, one for his new young wife, Kari Katrindottier who was already with child and knew that, that alone, would keep any Dawi male young and knowing Lord Drazhgrund as he did he surmised that Drazhgrund would out live even his fourth wife. Oldar shrugged his shoulders and turned back to the task at hand, already he had several ideas that he would like to talk to her about.


Kari had just come from a meeting with the guild master of the Stoneshaper Guild and as she slammed the massive iron door to the quarters shut and then leaned against the door ensuring it stayed shut or she would attack her bodyguards who stood just outside her the quarters in the royal compound. She did not know what was more infuriating, Master Oldar wanting her effigy on the sarcophagus to be of a mature matron Dawi, wife of Lord Drazhgrund not the warrior female fighter who stood side her husband in battle. Kari damned near challenged him to a Dar for him suggesting that her fighting days were over just because she was with child and that proper Dawi women much less those of royal blood did not join the battle-line. She wanted to scream but dared not for fear the guards would force their way in to see if she was alright, she wanted to smash to hit something with her axe but that would necessitate her having to clean up the mess. Then just as things could not get any worse she felt baby move and kick or punch the sides of her ribs and she gave out a low grasp of pain that nearly brought her to her knees before she decided to sit down. As she rested she wished for a drink of ale, and to smoke her pipe but had done neither for the last eight months and would have to wait another month to enjoy that pleasure again amongst other pleasures that happened behind closed doors. Looking toward the water clock she noticed it would be another mark or two before she and Drazhgrund went to teach another class and knew that Drazhgrund was with the king and would soon be back. Time enough for a nap so she went to the water garden with it’s fragrant water lilies and floated serenely where the water softly fell in small cascades down the garden wall making soothing sounds as Kari lay upon the soft mattress that her husband had set beside the water garden and soon fell asleep.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 03 October 2007 - 03:28 AM.

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