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Kraka Draka

a series of short stories

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#41 Skull Krusher

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 03:06 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Thirty Nine

The make up of the Dawi children was different this year. This year’s class the ages ranged from twelve years to sixteen and there were only a dozen younglings eight male and four female two of which were the Kings daughters who were now just short of fourteen years. As the children filed in they set their weapons aside and made themselves comfortable upon the benches that were provided in front of low tables that held tankards, plates of cheese, various kinds of winter fruit, smoked fish or elk, venison, or beef jerky, fresh bread, and pitchers of Kvass as well as some of today’s lesson materials, maps and lists of the Umgi communities that lived within Norsca. As they sat Drazhgrund noticed that young Finni Rognison was in this class as well and when he turned to Kari who sat beside him she just gave a small nod that she had noticed as well. Noticed that Finni watched not Kalea or the other two young females but Kettra as she walked into the room and took her seat at the next bench over and ever so often Kari saw him covertly glance over at Kettra who was oblivious to young Finni’s glances as he sipped his Kvass. Kvass or ale that Keri wished that she could drink as well instead of the milk and knew from the stern look, that Skornia, the Priestess of Valaya gave her from her seat beside the door that she had better not think about taking a drink from Drazhgrund’s tankard of ale.

Finally when everyone had taken their seat, Drazhgrund spoke. “In the past as you recall we spoke of the first Umgi clans who arrived in Norsca in -1499 when they crossed the Seas of Claws is boats that were barely seaworthy.” As usual it was young Finni who stood and this time waited to be called upon. “Yes Finni Rognison.” Drazhgrund asked only mildly disturbed that he had only spoken once sentence before the first question was asked. Unseen by the class Kari reached over and touched his leg he gave a nod and took a deep drink from tankard as Finni spoke.

“Lord Drazhgrund,” Finni said as he suddenly realized he did not know if he was to address Kari as well so he just nodded to her and continued slightly flustered. “The Umgi as a whole are so short lived so why must we learn about clans that may or may not still exist and about Umgi who do not even remember or know who their grandsires are much less when their own tribe came to Norsca. This is part of who we are, but to the Umgi their memories are as short as their lives. I do not understand are we, the Dawi to be their Loremasters as well as their benefactors?”

Several in the class nodded as if in agreement but most were taken aback by Finni’s question since many knew that Norsca had long ties with Kislev, part of the Empire an Umgi empire and that both Lord Drazhgrund and Kari had recently returned within the last year from the Empire. Drazhgrund just stared at Finni as he marshaled his thoughts but to Finni who was on the receiving end of that menacing stare sat abruptly down and tried to make him self less of a target. But he felt it was an honest question since he thought knowledge of the Umgi should be current not ancient history. Finally Drazhgrund spoke.
“Finni,” he said sternly looking at no one else in the class but him, but to Priestess Skornia, who took in the scene and that Lord Drazhgrund reminded her of a large predator about to spring upon some small prey that was frozen in fear. She was about to say something when Lord Drazhgrund glanced toward her and she saw the twinkle in his piercing deep green eyes and then he continued. “Finni, do you know who the twenty first king of Kraka Drak was?” Finni sat there and shook his head negatively that he did not know. Out of the corner of Finni’s eye he saw Kettra and Ulther Svenson who hardly spoke stand to answer the question. Drazhgrund looked to Ulther and nodded.

“Lord Drazhgrund, sir, Kazgar Eriksson was the twenty first king who reined seventy one years.” Ulther stated then sat quickly down.

“You are right Ulther.” And when Drazhgrund saw that Kettra did not sit down after hearing the answer he nodded to her to speak.

“King Kazgar was also known as Kazgar Oathbinder, and he was responsible for a select few Umgi clans to be called Dawikoni or almost Dawi.” Kettra stated.

“You both are correct and this is why. Kazgar Eriksson was King of Kraka Drak from -1512 to -1441.” Drazhgrund told them and then began to tell the class why Kazgar Oathbinder was one of the great Kings of Kraka Drak and all of Norsca.

“You will recall that when the first Umgi clans arrived in Norsca we Dawi were not sure how to deal with the Umgi as they settled along the coast of Norsca and along the shores of the narrow inlets of the fjords almost in the center of Norsca itself. The general policy at first was to avoid contact until we were certain that these Umgi were not in the service of Chaos so we watched from a distance hoping that the severe winters and the Dum Gors or which means Chaos Beastman would either kill them or drive them out of Norsca because the issue of non Dawi settlements in the mountains of Norsca had never been contemplated before. But neither happened,” and Drazhgrund shook his head in wonderment at the tenacity of the Umgi race as a whole. He took another drink from his tankard seeing that Kari had refilled it as well as refilled his pipe for later and under the cover of the table top in front of him he squeezed her hand and she squeezed it back. Then he continued. “King Kazgar of Kraka Draka discussed the Umgi at great length with his own clan house of Durazklad as well as with the three other Dawi Karaks. The four kings decided that King Kazgar would take the lead, the others choosing to remain unknown to the Umgi in case King Kazgar’s plan did not work. It was after several decades of watching the Umgi and seeing that they proved to be successful at farming the land and fishing the seas not to mention surviving the severe winters as well as going out of their way to destroy the Dum Gors when they entered their lands decided the king. So King Kazgar decided to shorten his supply lines as he and the other four Dawi Karaks patrolled Norsca in the war against Chaos and with that decision made Kraka Drak began trading with the Umgi. Kraka Draka traded tools and weapons made of bronze for produce and meat. Some of the clans of Kraka Drak argued that it would be folly to admit the Umgi into the Dawi realms. Others took the view along with King Kazgar that the Umgi had proven themselves as tenacious warriors as they battled the Dum Gor and more over, the Umgi clans could supply warriors to augment the number of Dawi available to wage war against the Dum Gor. Kazgar had enough dealings with Umgi chieftains to know that they put great stock in their word more so than many of the present-day Empire Umgi and decided that he would attempt to bind the clans to his cause in return for granting them limited rights in Norsca.”

“He sent overtures to the closest clans, the Aeslings, the Skaelings, the Sarls, and the Baersonlings whose Umgi chieftains were the first to petition, and soon there after the chieftains of the Bjornlings, the Graelings, and the Vargs followed as they to petitioned King Kazgar. There were many smaller clans of Umgi but they fell sway to the influences of Dum and were driven from Norsca by those loyal to the Dawi Kings of Norsca or they were destroyed. Eventually all seven Umgi chieftains were brought before King Kazgar who laid forth the following stipulations collectively known as the Oath of Binding. They are as follows: The chieftains and their clans will swear an oath of fealty to the King of Kraka Drak who rules the land. In turn, the Umgi chieftains would become part of the Dawi king’s council of war against the enemies of Dawi. Two, the Umgi clans will be subject to Dawi law. Three, the Umgi clans will not allow Dum Gor, Grobi, or Skaven to pass through the lands they hold in the name of the Dawi king. Four, Dawi and the Umgi clans would provide support, military or otherwise, to one another when faced with a common enemy. Five, the Umgi clans will ensure that their male folk are trained in the use of axe, hammer, spear, and bow. Six, in the event of war, the women, children, and old folk of the Umgi clans will be granted protection within specific areas of the Dawi Karak. Seven, Dawi and the Umgi clans in specified realms will provide one another with preferential trading terms. Eight, the Umgi clans will concentrate their livelihood on fishing, farming, and herding activities, freeing those Dawi clans if they so choose to focus on specific crafts and mining. Nine, the Umgi clans will be allowed to worship whatever gods they choose so long as the religion is not considered to be Dum tainted or an enemy of the Dawi.”

“The seven Umgi chieftains found the conditions more than reasonable. A large feast was held cementing the exchange of oaths between the two peoples. Over time the seven Umgi clans reached the same agreements with other Dawi Kings of Norsca. In time we Dawi gave the Oath Bound Umgi clans the name “Dawikoni” or “Almost Dawi”. This name has been expanded over the centuries to cover any Umgi whose lineage has involved their ancestors living among Dawi for more than five generations who have sworn the Oath Binding. Ever since King Kazgar’s rule the race of Dawi and the Umgi or Dawikoni who live within Norsca has grown closer. We Dawi trust very few Umgi who are not Dawikoni.” When Drazhgrund was finished speaking he nodded to Skornia that the class was over. But as usual there was one last question.

“But what about Kislev? Are they considered Dawikoni?” Finni asked without thinking to stand up first.

“Finni, you are to report to the class in six days how Kislev became our ally and I would suggest you spend your time within the archives and with our Loremaster.” And with that Skornia led the class out of the room. And with that Skornia led the class out of the room as Drazhgrund spoke softly to Kalea that just maybe the next time Finni crossed Kalea and Kettra he would let Kalea challenge him to a Dar in the Hammer’s Training ground. Just maybe she would knock some since into him. Kari just laughed and then told him about Finni’s covert glances toward Kettra and her shy glances back. “Absolutely not,” Drazhgrund stated “not while I am the clan’s Throngrink.”

She just nodded in a non committal way that spoke volumes as her husband helped her from her seat as they made from the classroom heading towards the King’s quarters with their four Drak-Hammer bodyguards flanking them fore and aft. The constant guards was something she was still not used to and had not given it much thought prior to their marriage but now she could never be alone with Drazhgrund as long as they were not within their home and this irked her to no end.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 26 October 2007 - 05:49 AM.


#42 Skull Krusher

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 05:46 AM

Kraka Drak - Party Forty

The Langktrommi, Lord Groth Mhornar Stalker Crannegson of Clan Durazklad and the commander of the King’s Drak-Rangers was in a cold rage after reading the report about the latest Dum Marauder attempt to gain a small foothold in Norsca. It was an unsuccessful attempt by the Marauders but it was also grim reading. Belegar Goddison one of his many Drak-Rangers was with the Loremaster of Kraka Drak entering three grudges or Dammas into the holds Dammas Kron already those same three Dammas were being entered into three different clan Dammas Krons for the atrocities committed by the Dum Marauder Kladhand Clan. The king, his eighth cousin on his mother’s sister side knew that it was only a matter of time before whole Karak knew what occurred as well as the other three Karak’s of Norsca. A punitive exhibition was what he wanted to avoid since it was a dishonorable death that would await any Dawi who entered the Chaos Wastes. For to do so would mean than any who did would sicken and die from the influence of warp dust and the RAW energies of Chaos without even drawing a weapon. There was no defense against the warp dust or energies. Lord Groth reread the report.

*

It was a bone chilling wind that blew off the mountain peaks of Norsca and the Altrommi Drak-Ranger had no fire, for he dared not strike so much as a spark that might betray his hiding place. Somewhere near, Dum scouts lurked, waiting. It was yesterday afternoon or was it the day before he thought to himself, watching his back trail, he saw an elk in its winter coat startle, cross a small clearing in a rush, and disappeared into the forest. Much later, shortly after he stopped for a rest two birds flew up suddenly. Something was following him.

But now a sudden snow storm blew in from the Chaos Wastes that created a total white out and before the blowing snow blotted out what little sunlight there was Belegar thought he had caught a glimpse of the Umgi Dum scout perhaps a good quarrel shot away. Even if he had been ready he doubted he would have hit him with his quarrel. Now he could see nothing but the blowing snow and already the air was becoming colder and off in the distant he heard a tree trunk snap as the sap within the trunk froze and the tree split open. If Belegar could see nothing, then neither could the Umgi but it was the wind that swept around his shelter that worried him because its sound might cover the approach of the enemy creeping closer. He loosened his dagger in its sheath as well as both his throwing axes, and drew forth his war hammer keeping the weapons inside his warm bear cloak that normally hung to his ankles but was now covered him completely as he sat against the tree chewing on jerky, trail bread, and hard cheese while he waited and listened for sounds that were not the wind.
Belegar and three other Drak-Rangers had been patrolling the area that bordered the banks of the Frozen Sea and Kraka Dorden just to the north. The Dawikoni of the Aeslings had reported that they had fought with a small band of Dum Marauders who had come across the Frozen Seas in sled-like chariots that were pulled by strange beasts. The Rangers from both Kraka Dorden and Kraka Drak were sent out to investigate but had found nothing but one ruined sled with the dead beasts still in their harness as well as two dead Dum Marauders and the tracks of at least one or two more sleds. Belegar and his companions should have been back long before the storm hit but once he discovered he was being followed he decided to take a longer route back to one of the hidden doorways to the Ungdrin that lead either to Kraka Dorden or back to Kraka Drak; a route that would hopefully turned the hunted into the hunter. Because of his oath as a King’s Drak-Ranger’s Belegar was honor bound to track down and kill any Dum within Kraka Drak. So here he was hunkered down upon a thick accumulation of pine needles wrapped in his bear skin cloak with the hood pulled down over his helm under the dropping branches of a Norsca spruce tree that would in time grow nearly two quarrel shots in height but for now the tree provided him with shelter as the branches collected the snow and drooped to the ground forming circular wind break. Without the bear skin cloak or this scant wind break he would freeze instead of just being chilled to the bone as he huddled quietly.
He sensed that his quarry was not that far away and Belegar hoped that the Dum scout froze and he wished that the other three had not decided to split up in order to both avoid detection and to turn the tables on the Dum Marauders but it was not his decision that split them up. Belegar gathered a handful of snow and packed it into his small cooking mucket secured the lid and placed in under his long beard close to his chest where the warmth of his body would slowly melt the snow giving him water to drink. He could have drunk from his flask but Drak-Ale only gave a false sense of warmth and only a fool would eat snow as it robbed the body of its precious warmth. The snow began falling harder, the flakes were larger, and soon the branches were so thick with snow, weighted down to the ground that not even the wind entered his circular shelter. Several times as he sat listening he heard trees split open with a thunderous crack that reminded him of the bark of one of the King’s new Drak-Thunder rifles. He glanced at the tree he sat against shrugged his shoulder since there was nothing he could do to prevent his tree from freezing and cracking in two. After a time Belegar dozed off into a light sleep.
It was the silence of the grave that woke Belegar, that and the fact that tree which he had been leaning against was not the most comfortable and it was as dark as an unlit Dawi mine. Carefully he opened his cloak pulled the mucket out and drank then packet it with more snow and replaced it. He began flexing his arms and legs to loosen them up grateful that he was not wearing heavy armor like one of the Drak-Hammers or Drak-Ironbreakers which would make noise despite the gambeson padding. Instead he wore chain mail that had been sewn between two layers of leather padded with lamb’s wool that made hardly any noise at all and was much warmer. But still despite the armor being quieter and warmer he stood slowly beneath the snow laden branches that sheltered him from the wind and snow and began moving his legs to work the kinks out of them.
Belegar heard nothing as he circled the tree trunk. He wondered how thick the snow was and wondered how far he had to dig his way out, not that it would be any problem. He just did not want to give his position away before he turned the tables on his quarry. It was in the dark quiet as Belegar loosened up he smelled it. The smell or taste of spilt blood, then there was the unmistakable sounds of someone or something, the creaking of snow being compressed under the weight of each step. Then he heard the slow cautious sound of a weapon being drawn from a scabbard and Belegar had his throwing axe ready knowing that that who ever was walking by could be either a mere hand span away on the other side of the packed branches. The sound of something hitting a nearby tree then the heavy cascade of snow falling from the tree alerted Belegar that who ever it was; was stabbing through the tree branches in attempt of finding and hitting him.

He quietly moved to one side away from the trail he had used before the storm hit and stood ready. The sound of snow being trod upon came closer and the taste of blood in the air grew thicker and then a sword thrust violently through the windbreak and Belegar struck. He grabbed the swordsman’s wrist above the guard with his leather gloved hand and yanked! Who ever his enemy was tried to hold onto the sword but in doing so Belegar pulled his opponents hand further into his shelter and as he did so he swung his axe down cleaving the Dum Marauder’s hand off midway between the wrist and the elbow showering the snow in bright arterial blood. Belegar in a follow through plowed his way through the snow laden branches that flew upward once released of their load. His opponent was down trying to save his own worthless life but not his companion who was startled by comrades scream of pain and from being splattered in hot steaming blood and was startled not only by the suddenness of Belegar’s attack but also by the branches that whipped up into his face temporarily blinding him.
Seeing the moon lit shapes of his two opponents Belegar stomped down upon the wounded Marauder and he was satisfied to both feel and hear bones snap and a further cry of pain. Ignoring the downed Marauder he attacked the other with throwing axes in either hand as he launched himself at his second opponent. The Marauder managed to swing at Belegar but he blocked the blow upon his crossed axes and then swung back and was satisfied when his axe sunk deeply into his opponent’s shield which he used to his advantage by pulling his enemy toward him. Once inside the reach and swing of his opponent’s sword Belegar struck again and again and again with the other axe. Then the shield began to drop slowly to the ground followed by the sword and then the Dum Marauder.

Belegar stood upon the trail a body to either side of him that were mere shadows in the moon lit night, shadows that darkened the night time blue-grey snows in growing pools of darkness that soon froze and the artic cold air sapped the warmth from their dead bodies. He stood there scanning the forest and the mountains around him for more enemies and when he sensed none he returned to his shelter and cleared a small circle upon the ground and started tiny fire. A fire just small enough to heat water for jerky broth soup, and tea. From inside his shelter the fire threw a light upon the nearest body, he would have waited until daylight to search the bodies but something gleamed bright amongst the furs that hung from the belt of the marauder. Belegar got up and knelt beside the nearest body and a sense of foreboding came over him. Not one fur put three and they all gleamed of Dawi gorl. He loosened them and brought them into the light of the fire and when he saw what he held he dropped them at his feet turned pulled his warhammer and began screaming and beating the two bodies until every bone in their bodies shattered and still his rage, his call for Vengryn was not sated his rage echoed amongst the mountains of Norsca and far out over the Frozen Seas. Far away a Dawi at his Migdhal heard the cry of despair and Vengryn and alerted the outpost and they wondered what made the sound for it sounded unlike any voice they had ever heard before.


*

Lord Groth looked down upon the report and could not imagine what the Drak-Rangers thought when Belegar came staggering back to his outpost. He was bloody, disheveled, exhausted and totally unrecognizable but that was understandable after he and his companions had gone missing over two moons ago. They thought he was a Zaki. It was not until Belegar collapsed just inside outpost did they discover that he carried twelve sets of Dum marauder weapons and the remains, the scalps of his three companions, their skin of their head along with their hair and beard completely peeled off their heads from the neck up. The outpost commander and his warriors were ready to execute Belegar on the spot but their commander could not uphold High-Justice upon a Dawi only the King could do that. It took them nearly two days before Belegar regained consciousness before Belegar told his tail and then they too felt his rage his call for Vengryn upon the Kladhand tribe. But they could not slate their appetites for Vengryn since Belegar had tracked down and killed every single Kladhand scout that had recently entered into Norsca.

Lord Groth looked up when he heard the door open and looked up again when he saw the fury written across his Throngrink’s face. Drazhgrund had just come from the king bearing his, Lord Groth’s, thus the King’s Drak-Rangers new orders. The Kladhand tribe will be purged, the Dammas removed from the Karak’s Dammas Kron.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 28 October 2007 - 03:02 AM.


#43 Skull Krusher

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 02:18 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty One

* * *
It was the twenty second day of Wyrzet and it was a private feast. For many if they wanted, they could partake in the royal feast on this day if they so chose to in the great royal hall or any of the clan halls. A very select few chose to be here in the close comfortable setting of the Rusty Harpoon to take part in the observance of the Ancestral Feast Day of Wyrstikul, like Lord Drazhgrund who made his appearance for a short time at the start of the festivities then departed with the King’s Blessing before making his way to the Rusty Harpoon like so many others in the inn.

Florin looked towards the main entrance as the two massive carved double doors slowly swung open letting in the smell of snow and underground sea port of Sjoktraken as well Lord Drazhgrund, his wife Kari “Knight Slayer” Katrindottier and their six Drak-Hammer bodyguards. Though everyone was dressed comfortably, no one ever went unarmed in Kraka Drak to many of the southern Karak’s in the World’s Edge Mountain had fallen due to carelessness and not being armed but not here in Norsca. Here on the front lines no one went around with out a weapon for you never knew when the forces of Chaos would suddenly appear. Better to be armed than to be dead or worse dispossessed without a Karak.

When everyone was seated and with hardly a nod from Drazhgrund, Florin charged everyone’s beakers with Norsca’s finest ale and when he had finished doing so Lord Drazhgrund stood and turned toward the three small alcoves that stood open behind at the head of the table. Within each alcove a single full size statue stood, Valaya in the middle flanked by Grungni and Grimnir. Beside each statue sat a full tankard of ale and a plate of food. Lord Drazhgrund raised his Nogarung and everyone in the room followed suit raising their tankards in salute to the three Ancestor Gods and in unison they emptied their beakers in one long gulp. Then Drazhgrund turned back and faced everyone, for the most a third of the Dawi that gathered here this night belonged to the Royal Clan of Durazklad, the others belonged to clans that held close ties to the royal clan through blood ties or long standing oaths of fealty; many were long time friends whose friendships had been forged and battle tested on various fields of battle. As everyone’s beakers were recharged Drazhgrund spoke.

“The latest Dammas within Kraka Draka’s Dammas Kron has galvanized the Karak like never before and even the other three Karaks are girding for war.” Everyone nodded in agreement a few slammed their weapon hafts against the floor in agreement as he continued but looking pointedly at three Dawi who represented their Karugromthi as well as their clan but would have been here anyway as they were among friends. “The clans of Kol-Duraz, Oakenstave, and Drakkgrund have been grievously wounded by this outrage.” Drazhgrund stated, “the king has called for a marshalling of nearly all the King’s Drak-Rangers and Drak-Quarrelers to spearhead the reconnaissance of the Dum Marauder Kladhand tribe. Thane Morik Ragnison will be the field commander and will report to Lord Groth "Mhornar Stalker" Crannegson commander of the King’s Drak-Rangers.” And when Lord Drazhgrund said his name, Morik of Oakenstave nodded. “This night, we pledge to the Ancestor Gods,” and Drazhgrund picked up his refilled tankard, “we pledge that the deaths of Baroc Thorikson, Yorri Alricson, and Morgim Brogarson will not be forgotten nor go avenged. For the oath that is sworn this night calls the death of every member of the Dum Kladhand Tribe. They will no more.” Drazhgrund shouted as the then turned back toward the alcoves and the statues of the Ancestor Gods as everyone stood and emptied their tankards and then softly, slowly a battle chant was begun by Morik and soon it was heard over the crackling flames of the fireplace.

The Dawi throngs now march to war,
and our steady cadence shakes the land;
our ancestor’s axe we hath girded on,
and our shields are slung behind us;

"Karak of song," said the Dawi Lord,
"Should non-Dawi oaths betray thee,
Our axes, hammers and war-machines,
Will always rise, to aid thee!"


The chant slowly built up as everyone in the room joined in to sing the battle chant until the cadence of the song, the hammering of fists on the table tops, the stamping of Dawi boots upon the floor, the beating of weapon hafts upon table top or floor grew louder and louder, and that sound of over a hundred battle hardened veterans shook the very bedrock of mount Sjoktraken as the sound echoed down various Dawi tunnels to the royal hall where the observance of the Ancestral Feast Day of Wyrstikul was being held. It was even heard by the Drak-Ranger guards atop Mount Sjoktraken and the chant rushed out of the ancient volcano mouth of Sjoktraken nearly a mile above the chanters heads and poured down the mountain sides and soared upon the wind amongst the mountain peaks of Norsca as a warning to all the enemies of Dawi.


#44 Skull Krusher

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 04:24 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Two

Many days later after the feast of Wyrstikul, far beyond the natural shoreline of Norsca itself it was bitterly cold and the blowing ice was as sharp as any well honed blade but more deadly. Exposed flesh froze, badly wrought metal weapons snapped, trees exploded as they froze, and the frigid air you breathed burned your lungs. Only the artic creatures, the hares, foxes, owls or bears seemed to thrive in the bone chilling weather as they stalked their prey and often times the great white bears would dig holes in the sea-ice to catch and kill artic seals and fish. Every watcher knew that no one, not their fellow oath bound clan warriors or allies; much less the followers of Dum would be out in this blizzard. It was just to "I swear too much" cold and if not for the runes they all carried not even they would be out here, but the wrath of vengeance and justice knew no boundaries and a little discomfort was a small price to pay for the elimination of a dummaz. The Dawi of Norsca like the Umgi of Kislev knew that following on the tail-end of the last winter storm was the traditional time that the followers of the Chaos, the followers of the Dark Gods: Khorne, the Blood God and the Lord of Skulls; Tzeentch, the Changer of the Ways and the God of magic; Nurgle, Lord of Decay and Pestilence; and Slaanesh, the Dark Prince and God of decadence and pleasure; and other worshipers like the Chaos Undivided do not devote themselves to any one particular deity would invade. It is there in the landscape of the Chaos Wastes, a place of vast steppes, lonely forests, and barren rocks, a land often buried beneath the snow and blasted with frigid winds that the Chaos Gods dwell. However, Morik knew that nothing is for certain there, and portions of the Wastes defy logic – small patches of steaming jungle, sand-filled deserts, and miasmic swamps often coinciding with their proximity to powerful magical locations and monoliths. It is there in the frozen wastes of the Realms of Chaos, the hordes of the Dark Gods gather strength and conspire to dominate the world and every year their armies would begin their annual invasion from the frozen northern chaos wastes into the southlands when most of their enemy would be snug in their homes with a hot steaming tankard of ale or buried under layer of warm furs as the lead scouts would sneaked past and infiltrate, burn, loot, pillage and slaughter the non-believers. Morik thanked the Ancestor Gods that it was not often that the Dark Gods worked in a coordinated effort. If fact Khorne, the Blood God considers all the Gods his enemies and his followers go out of their way to destroy the followers of the three other Dark Gods whenever possible.

Thane Morik Ragnison of Clan Oakenstave shivered despite the warmth the runes provided. At least he and the rest of the King’s Drak-Quarrelers were out of the wind but still surrounded by the bitter cold despite the small portable metal stoves that were nearly impossible and dangerous to use in the ices tunnels. Here at least twenty paces beneath the surface they were safe from the wind but not from the boredom that was often a watchers due. The miners of the karak had tunneled out in a star burst direction from the surface Port of Sjoktraken. The tunnels were dug into solid ice that had not melted or broke up in over a millennia or turnings of the sun. The tunnels were nearly impossible to detect and each tunnel had various opening that lead up and out onto the surface into carefully constructed ice redoubts built to look like the natural broken ice slabs of the Frozen Sea. It was here that the Drak-Quarrelers laid their traps waiting to ambush any advance scouts. Here they waited.

*

In his far away youth Tylik had been a Baersonlings. His family for many generations had been Baersonlings as well as Dawikoni but not he. Tylik and one or two others felt that the oaths to the Dwarfs were foolish. Through all the long generations since the Baersonlings Norseman of Norsca had sworn fealty to the Dwarf king, King Kazgar “Oath-binder” not one Baersonlings to his knowledge who was not the chieftain ever stepped foot within any of the Dwarf Holds. Why swear binding oaths then not trust the oath-taker? Then Tylik chuckled to himself for the answer was there before him if he could but see his reflection and his stigmata. For Tylik and the three other Baersonlings warriors like him caught up in the frenzy of battle started chanting Blood for the Blood God pledging their lives to his service as they covered themselves with the blood of the fallen. Their fellow Baersonlings fell upon them as they attempted to kill Tylik and his companions somehow they slipped away. Then the damned Dwarves found out, their Valaya Priests and Runesmiths with their Rune of Purification detected the taint of Chaos, detected the Mark of Khorne, the Blood God and they became the hunted. They would have fled to Kislev but the Dwarves and their tribe had spread the word to those in the northern oblast that they were to be considered kyazak, outlaws and raiders so they fled into the Chaos Wastes and now he alone returned leading a small army south towards Norsca his former home. He wondered what happened to the earlier scouts that had been sent south before the close of winter for none returned and it was hoped that they had made contact and subverted others to Khorne.


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 17 December 2007 - 06:02 AM.


#45 Skull Krusher

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 06:23 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Three

As Morik looked out over the uneven surface of the Frozen Sea he thought of what the others had been told. He had read Belegar’s report and had even had a pint with him at the Rusty Harpoon as he gathered information about the scouts. The Northern Umgi Tribes that circled the top of the world are many, Drazhgrund had said though they could be lumped into three broad categories: The Hung, The Kurgan, and of course the Norseman. For the most part the taint or influence of Chaos upon the Norseman of Norsca had over the last thousand or so years been eradicated or completely purged. There were always a few hidden, secret communities of Umgi that worshipped the Dark Gods and if the loyal Dawikoni did not find and destroy them then the King’s Dum-hunters did when they discovered them. The Norseman, are fine warriors Morik thought and some had even been laid to rest in a few Dawi clan crypts which was an honor, so much so that some Dawi named their offspring after one or two of the Dawikoni hero’s. But it was the tainted ones that worried the king. There were not temple to the Blood God and it was only in the heat of battle when the battle lines slammed together when the great weapons began cutting bloody swaths through the enemy lines that the corrupted Norseman would in advertently betray them selves as they shouted “Blood for the Blood God” and when it was heard they were slain along with the enemy they and the Dawi throngs were fighting. Still some managed to escape from the shores of Norsca to openly embrace their foul gods within the Chaos Wastes and eventually they would return leading the scout parties or even armies against their former homeland.

The engineer’s guild had designed and built the long-glass. Using it Morik scanned the cold white icescape before him from the horizon to nearly a quarter quarrel shot away. So far he had seen nothing, but he knew that Dum Marauders would be coming, they always did. He wished that the guild would build a flying machine they have the plans that were obtained from a Slayer-engineer but so far they had not done so. They could build it they said, and it would fly, but they could not find a Dawi crazy enough to fly it. Morik had seen the Slayer-engineer flying his war machine and knew it was possible, he gave it another fleeting thought about using one to extend his line of sight but knew that if they did have one then the Marauders would see and hear it and then they would be leery of an ambush. He continued to scan the horizon, and sent and received various messages from the other outposts.

*

The war-hounds were ranging far ahead of the main body followed closely by the mounted marauders and the flesh-hounds. Tylik knew that the specially bred white war-hounds would be nearly impossible to be seen, their pure white fur helping to blend in with the snowy background. He wished he could have bred the daemonic flesh-hounds to the same color. But even suggesting such an idea bordered on heresy – advocating one trait over the chaotic nature of pure chaos.

Regardless of what he wished they were but four days away from reaching the northern coastline of Norsca. In years past the usual route was along the far eastern shore of the Frozen Seas then over the mountains through the passes into the heart of Kislev. This year was different the army of the Blood God marched directly across the Frozen Seas to strike directly at the Port of Sjoktraken it had been six years since the last attack against the port and little came of that first invasion of the seaport. Tylik who had been the port in his distant youth thought it was hardly worth battling over since he had seen no ships there laden with valuable cargos. No ships especially during the winter when they would be frozen and crushed by the ice and try as hard as he might he could not ever remember seeing a single ship there so why the port? Perhaps a defensive staging area he thought. The Blood God had lost an army during the last attack and only succeeded in killing the killing the King and one of his heirs iff the survivor rumors were correct. Still not a total loss, “Blood for the Blood God” he said out-loud.

Then he saw the blood, fresh blood the was already freezing and then he noted the various other trails of blood yet sign of any attack could be seen. Tylik called a halt and his War-hound handlers reported that the paw pads of several of the hounds was sliced through and that those that were wounded could hardly keep up with their pack. The wounded soon become another meal for the pack even one of the flesh-hounds that was limping along.

Wounds such as these were to be expected as they crossed the ice but to loose eight war-hounds with little to show for it not to be expected. Still Tylik ordered them forward and then one of the horses whinnied in pain and threw its rider and then several other horses began limping. Suspicious, Tylik dismounted and with his sword he moved the loose powdered snow about until he saw something gleaming. He reached down and picked it up and held it in his hand. It was a perfectly formed ball of clear ice with six to eight ice spikes sticking out in all directions. No matter how it fell the spikes pointed upward to stab through the unsuspecting hoof, foot, or claw. Tylik closed his mailed fist around the caltrop and closed his fist crushing it to a powdery ice. He and his men quickly searched the area around them and found ten more, some broken into fragments when stepped upon by the heavy horse but the rest were unbroken, sharp, and deadly to the un-weary. They were not natural Tylik surmised as he inspected another one and upon closer inspection saw a Dwarf maker’s rune. How typical and conceited the Dwarves are he thought, the Dwarf signature rune was carved into the mold. It had to be a mold because the caltrops were identical and so simple to make, not to mention so effective, and very hard to see until too late.

Tylik had a decision to make. Go back and find another way through the ice and face the wrath of the Blood God or to go forward. He could not go back be must go forward but to do so meant they would be losing more war-hounds and horses, so he ordered his infantry to move forward in two long lines and to check for more caltrops, the hounds and the horseman and Chosen Knights would follow along behind. Once clear of the ice traps they would mount up and move forward at a brisk pace.

(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 05 December 2007 - 02:10 AM.


#46 Rinn Zylra

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 09:09 PM

I really like the fluff about the 1st Queen of Kraka Drak as well as the story of Kari, Lord Drazhgrund's new wife. Please write more, because behind every great male Dwarf there is an equally great female Dwarf keeping hearth and kin safe.

#47 Skull Krusher

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 05:47 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Four

Morik heard the noise that Skaf was making with his small chisel and hammer. Looking over at him he saw that the Quarreler was carving into the ice wall. He walked over to see what it was then realized it was not an ice carving but words.

I stand alone upon the mountain top,
looking down upon its craggy rock face,
which seems to smile upon me with its
rough-hewn, weather-worn uneven smile,
full of weather-beaten fangs of stone.


“What are you writing?” Morik asked thinking how fleeting the ice craving would be if the ice tunnel ever got warmer.

“Part of a poem I am composing, I thought I would chisel it in the wall before I forgot it,” Skaf commented as he continued to carve out the Khazalid runes.

“I composed a poem in my youth, it was about the Kislev Steppes,” Morik replied. “It went like this;”

Beneath a barren sky the crusted snow
Lies cold and lifeless like a frozen sea;
The lonely, prowling wind moans eerily
And loiters, sighing like the voice of woe;
A land, unborn and still where weary blow
The icy winds in cold hostility,
While earth and sky in gray monotony
With cheerless consonance, together flow.

What bleak and impotent old world is this?
No whistling blast, but dull, and numb, and still
Unending miles where frigid plains deny
The throbbing urge of life, the warming kiss
Of fire, and naught but fitful puffs of chill
And piercing winds beneath a rheumy sky.


“I dislike the cold oblasts of Kislev as bad as it was, it is surely better than here,” Morik stated after reciting his poem as Skaf nodded in agreement as he went back to his own poem. Morik struck a yellowish karag-zharr stick against his hammer head then touched the burning stick to the bowl of his calumet and breathed in deeply. He would not have normally allowed anyone to smoke but the cold wind was blowing in their direction and there was no enemy behind them, only hearth and kin. As he exhaled, the smell of Ole Moldy Leaf tabac smoke drifted away and Morik caught the faint sound that was not the sound of ice and snow and not Umgi or Dawi. Motioning for quiet everyone strained their ears to hear as Morik scanned the northern horizon. Together they struggled to hear what was born upon the winds but heard nothing and were about to think it nothing but an auditory illusion brought on by the boredom of watching when collectively they heard it, the high pitched wail of a quick and sudden death.

*

Several more war-hounds went lame as well as two more horses and that did not count the numerous punctured boots and feet and the broken legs amongst the Marauders, Chosen Knights, and Warriors. If they could not keep up they were dispatched to Khorne, “Blood for the Blood God” Tylik exalted loudly. There was no mercy from the Dark Gods only submission and death. The scouts of the Dum Kladhand Tribe slowly crested a long ridge of broken ice and Tylik looked towards the far distant mountains of Norsca that until now were hidden by clouds.

His senses were sufficiently attuned to his surrounding. Tylik knew exactly where he was going to place his feet as he walked – not only his next step, but the next twenty or more. He knew from step to step exactly where he would go for cover, if the enemy attacked from the front, or where he would go for cover if the enemy attacked from the sides, or from any other direction. He saw for each place along his route exactly where an enemy unit might be lying in ambush, or where an individual observer might be hiding. Tylik was not surprised that he felt the presence of the enemy though he could not for any accuracy point where they were, he only knew that there were Dwarves close by so he ordered the cavalry to remount – sure they grumbled and complained loudly about having to walk but they had lost no more mounts as they cleared the area of the ice traps and only one of them still complained but no longer as the war hounds soon had another mid day meal. Once they were past the broken area of ice they remounted, and traveled more quickly, the mountains of Norsca stood out high above the Frozen Sea to the south and the Dwarven sea port. Tylik no longer had doubts about the wisdom of invading Kislev through the Black Blood Pass though the High Pass would have been nearer and easer to march an army through. The hard part about Black Blood Pass was not the pass it self it was the fighting and defeating the armies of one if not two possible Dwarf Holds and if the two furthest Holds swelled the ranks then he would be fighting four Dwarf holds. “Blood for the Blood God”, Tylik mutter out loud. Scanning the horizon from the Frozen Seas shoreline towards his marching army he saw no apparent sign of the Dwarves, but he knew they were close and the word went out to all his units to be aware.

*

Morik continued to stare through the long glass scanning the horizon and finally he spotted them, the vanguard of the Dum Horde; the war-hounds and the daemon flesh-hounds of Khorne. He quickly dispatched his orders to his six Drak-Quarreler units and single unit of Langktrommi, his old grumblers; a total of one hundred forty Dawi warriors under his command equally divided into seven units, and his small army of Kraka Drak was just the dagger point upon which Dum would impale them selves. Already his bolt thrower crew was picking their target. Morik figured he had perhaps three maybe four volley fires before combat. The forces of Dum were in a long march column with the war-hounds and flesh-hounds acting as flankers with the chariot-sled in the forefront leading the cavalry with the foot soldiers bringing up the rear.

The bolt-thrower war-machine crewman ignored the hounds who passed all most on top of them without spotting them, thanks to the Rune of Concealment. Harok calmed his fellow crewman down as the Flesh-hounds looked their way but continued on, he sighed with relief himself and carefully sighted in on the lead chariot-sled

*

The first casualty was the chariot-sled team when a large bolt fired from his left and as thick as Tylik’s wrist punched through the left rib cage of the elk hitting its companion shattering its front shoulders at the withers. The two elk went down in a tangled bloody clump and the chariot-sled piled into the dead and dying elk upending and cart-wheeling end over end as the traces snapped scattering equipment and the two riders upon the ice. Eventually one slowly stood shaking his head trying to figure out what happened as his companion lay unmoving, dead. Tylik ordered his forces into a line of battle facing the direction of the attack every weapon draw and ready.


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 17 December 2007 - 06:06 AM.


#48 Skull Krusher

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 06:09 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Five

They were well trained Morik thought to him self as he observed the shattered chariot-sled and the Dum-warriors maneuver from a march-column of four into a line of battle but facing the wrong way. They faced the now revealed bolt-thrower whose crew was already redeploying through Dawi size small tunnels toward a second bolt-thrower position further away and back down the line-of-march that the Dum-warriors had just came from. Even now he hoped they were heading for the new position preparing to fire down the newly presented flank of the Dum-warrior knights. It was unprecedented that it took Dar between himself, the commander of the force and the Endrinkuli or engineer, Harok Skafsniz and his three crewmen to convince them that there was no shame in abandoning the war machine. A very gorak or cunning plan was far better than dead stouthearted stubborn artilleryman when abandonment resulted in the furtherance of more dead Dum warriors and it took a Dar to convince them and it was one against four and he beat them.

Harok was the last to leave the bolt-thrower and he was just now acknowledging to himself the wisdom to do so when he saw the entire Dum army turn towards him and saw that a unit of war-hounds and marauder cavalry charge the position. Being the last to leave he hurried after his three crewmen only after arming the traps as he raced down the low tunnel to one of several pre positioned bolt-throwers. The howling of war-hounds and the exaltation of the marauders echoed through the tunnel system which crisscrossed underneath the surface of the ice. As he rounded the last corner before reaching the next bolt-thrower he and his crew heard a yell of pain and the crash of large blocks of ice slamming downward smashing several war-hounds and effectively blocking that portion of the tunnel.

*

Tylik ordered the war-hounds and marauders to charge the now revealed bolt-thrower position but could only find a small opening a low rectangular window shaped hole in what looked like a pile of broken ice slabs. The war-hounds were trying to claw or dig their way into the position by widening the opening. Two of the marauders dismounted and soon were chopping the ice with their axes widening the hole. When the five war-hounds and two marauders entered the firing position he rode over and looked in. He saw that perfecting chiseled blocks of ice and been cut and positioned to form a small domed shelter with an escape tunnel. He shook his head in wonderment. Never before had the Dwarves challenged the Dark Gods as their forces marched across the Frozen Seas in their wars against the Old World. What had changed he wondered, what had changed to raise the ere of the small puny race that refused to surrender, refused to just die. When he saw the last war-hound and two marauders disappear down the tunnel he rejoined his forces, as he and they scanned the horizon for similar structures but spotted nothing though Tylik’s feeling of being watched intensified, they were close but where he said to him self. The last engagement six years ago had been fought on the surface not under or within the ice and he had no idea how thick the ice cap was, hundreds of feet or perilously next to nothing, he just did not know and it mattered not to the Gods of Chaos; Blood to the Blood God he muttered to himself.

*

“Are they coming?” asked the bolt-thrower’s loader, a young Dawi of some 50 years as he, Harok entered the emplacement.

Harok answered, “Nay lad, they came to bad end when the roof and side wall collapsed upon them. Even if they chopped through the ice blocks we will be long gone. You just load, and you, Heganbor open the small keg and give everyone a ration of some of Norsca’s finest to warm our bellies. There will be axe work before the day is gone and I would hate to slate my thirst till after the battle is over. Before you get to comfortable, Brokk slowly open the firing port a wee bit to see what our next target will be, perhaps the other chariot.” When the bolt-thrower was loaded, two crewman slowly cocked it so as not to make any noise that would carry to the enemy as Brokk cautiously closed the port with a smile and motioned Harok over to take a look then he opened the port again, the Endrinkuli nodded in agreement and had the loader reload with a different bolt and when he was finished loading and then with the port open everyone turned the bolt-thrower so that it was lined up with the target and then Harok did some fine aiming adjustments of the war-machine.

“Alright lads, we are lined up on flank of some Chaos Knights, they are at short to medium range. We are using the bolt with the Rune of Penetration because these Knights are well armored with armor provided by our Dum tainted eastern kin, the Frurndar of the Mountains of Mourn and The Plains of Zhar supply the armies of Dum with the finest black armor.” He now had their attention. “Once we fire the bolt we leave immediately and go to the southern bolt-thrower, the one closest to our own warriors. We will set up again. Understand?” They all nodded in the affirmative to Harok. As his crewman gathered their equipment and made ready to leave Harok made the final adjustments as he sighted in on the mounted Chaos Knights. With a steady hand he released the lever and the bolt shot forward, Harok never bothered to see if it hit, he trusted in the Ancestor God of Endrinkulis, Morgrim that the shot went true; as he turned he set the trap, and fled down the escape tunnel heading back toward Morik.

*

The forces of Khorne were impatient. They were arrayed for battle and there was no one to fight and they knew the Dwarves or perhaps the traitorous Norseman of Norsca who aligned themselves with the Dwarven and Human empires had fired upon them. They could see the evidence, a shattered chariot-sled with a bloody Dwarven bolt protruding from one of the carcasses of the chariot team. To Tylik that was proof enough and now the deaths of several war-hounds and a horseman added to that fact. But where were the Dwarves, the enemies of Khorne? For all about them was the uneven unbroken whiteness of the Frozen Seas and not a Dwarf in sight only the empty bolt-thrower emplacement. As Tylik turned in the saddle to give orders he heard the distinctive sound of a bolt-thrower as the tension is released from the bow. Turning to the sound he was aware that he was already to late when the two of the Knight to his left were brutally bludgeon, torn from their saddles as the massive bolt that killed them both continued onward impacting the rear haunch of his daemonic steed. As his dying mount struggled to stay standing, Tylik kicked his boots free of the stirrups screaming orders for the Marauder Horseman and Flesh-hounds on his left flank to charge the bolt-thrower hoping to kill or even better capture the crew. The entire battle line pivoted on its center to face the bolt thrower and were now facing north; back the way they had come, the distant Chaos Wastes a two week march away. The Flesh-hounds caught the scent of the Dwarves and raced forward toward the bolt-thrower followed by another unit of Marauder Horsemen. Tylik watched their charge as he directed the remaining chariot-sled to his position and climbed aboard taking only his equipment from the dead mount. From atop the chariot-sled he noticed that this bolt-thrower position was different in that as his army traveled south passed it, it looked like just another clump of ice slabs pushed upward by the winds and deep ocean artic upheavals. But looking at it from the south he saw that it was Dwarven made, more open with only a white canvas hiding the opening and entranceway. The Marauder Horseman with axes in hand entered cautiously due to the deaths of their companions in the last position following the Flesh-hounds inside only to die when an explosion shattered the bolt-thrower emplacement sending massive slabs of ice skyward to eventually plummet back down upon the visibility shaken Khorne army.

*

Morik and Harok had very much the same exact thought – too much gun-powder combined with multiple runes of immolation. The whole ice cap seemed to heave and rock as cracks appeared in the tunnel roof and floor. It was definitely time to leave and attack the Khorne army and orders were sent and acknowledge. They would attack. “Khazukan Kazakit-ha,” Thane Morik Ragnison of Clan Oakenstave called out.

(as always to be continued)


#49 Skull Krusher

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Posted 21 December 2007 - 02:58 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Six

Though they were not standing together both Morik and Harok had very much the same exact thought – too much gun-powder combined with multiple runes of immolation. The whole ice cap seemed to heave and rock as cracks appeared in the tunnel roof and floor. It was definitely time to leave and attack the Khorne army and orders were sent and acknowledge. They would attack. “Khazukan Kazakit-ha,” Thane Morik Ragnison of Clan Oakenstave called out and though there were many enemies of the Dawi race, none knew exactly what it meant; but amongst those survivors it came to mean “Look out! The Dwarfs are on the warpath!”

The forces of Kraka Drak did not need any further encouragements to evacuated the tunnels, the widening cracks that radiated out from the destroyed bolt-thrower threatened both Dawi and marauder alike and as Morik and his fellow clansman emerged from the tunnels they quickly formed into a battle-line centered on the Langktrommi, his old grumblers with three Quarreler units to either side. Their battle-line positions had been prepared a head-of-time and the long line-of-battle in which they formed was atop especially prepared slabs of ice that looked like a series of steps going up to some ancient ice cathedral only there were just four steps, one for each rank of quarrelers to stand upon enabling them to see over the rank in front of them and more importantly allow the whole unit to fire upon the enemy. Morik had not neglected his flanks either as there was a large number of ice caltrops scattered about to slow down any encroachment or charge. Just to the right of the Langktrommi was another one of Harok’s bolt-thrower positions and he was glad to see the Endrinkuli emerge from a side tunnel and begin loading and aiming. Morik noticed that instead of four there was only three of them and he gave a questioning look and Harok nodded and gestured, palms together, pulling them apart and slamming them back together and from the pained look on his face Morik knew that a crack most have opened up and closed killing one of the bolt-thrower crewman.

Morik no longer needed long glass, the enemy lay to his front in complete disarray. By lucky happenstance a block of ice had come crashing down killing the chariot team and from the looks of the individual standing atop that large block of ice gesturing and yelling out orders he knew that there stood the War-lord commanding the Dum Marauders. Morik gauged the terrain, it was scattered and broken not fit for charging upon, and he had no idea where new cracks lay hidden to the unwary and he was sure the surface of the ice near the Marauder battle-line was pockmarked, and full of new fissures and he was not about to order a charge. Instead he nodded to the Quarreler Thanes to load and fire on his command and was glad to see that everyone was already loaded ready to fire, even the Langktrommi who grumbled about the terrible waste of perfectly good quarrels when they had such keen double bladed Az-Dreugi, or great-weapon battle-axes and great heavy Kazak-Grund or war-hammers. When all seven thanes and Harok nodded that they were ready, Morik gave the order as one hundred and forty quarrel-bolts split the distance between the two armies and began raining down upon Marauders.

*


Tylik rose to his feet small chards of ice and powdered snow fell from his body as he stood upon the disabled chariot-sled, with his great axe clutched in one hand and his shield in the other he clambered up on the large slab of ice that had killed the team but barely missing him. He looked towards where the Dwarf bolt-thrower had been, but instead of a small fortified position as before there was nothing but a deep crater perhaps thirty paces across and about fifty paces deep. The sides of the crater were slopped to the bottom like a giant frozen whirlpool. The explosion and extreme heat of the blast had punched a hole through the ice into the sea and at the bottom were a dozen or so bodies that had slid into the sea. None moved or called out for help, they were beyond any help even from the Blood God as the weight of their armor pulled their rapidly freezing bodies underwater. From the crater Tylik could see cracks and fissures radiating outward and with these in mind he saw to the deportment of his army and quickly ordered them into a battle-line especially when he saw the Dwarves emerging from their holes, perhaps they too suffered from the blast but not enough to his way of thinking. “Blood to the Blood God” he called out as his army gathered in upon itself deploying back into line. Their ranks were thinner, no thanks to the Dwarves but he vowed to Khorne to even the score. Just as he ordered the entire line to move forward and for the remaining Marauder Horseman and war-hounds to harry the flanks, the chariot-sled driver jumps up, and pushes him off the ice slab. As Tylik tumbles to the ground screaming obscenities at the chariot driver he sees a large bolt hit the driver in the chest driving him off the ice slab to land limply atop the broken chariot. It was then that Tylik heard the sound of crossbow bolts whistling through the air and quickly covered himself with his shield as two embedded into his shield. Quickly standing he runs to his Chosen Warriors and joins them as they and the rest of his army march forward to take the battle to the Dwarves. Tylik can see already that another volley of crossbows is about to be ordered and he commands the army to double-quick to decrease the distance between the Dwarves and themselves thus eliminating the possibility of a third or fourth volley. Already he can see that he has no more Marauder Horseman or war-hounds and knows if he is to win this day they must engage. But they are being thinned down and the cracks and fissures block any direct path to the Dwarves and he must direct his army around these obstructions. Then the second volley is fired but not before his remaining two Chosen Knights with Khorne’s Exalted Champion and Khorne’s Aspiring Champion charged into the center of the Dwarven line fully intent on sundering the battle-line.

*


Morik saw only one of the Dum Chosen Knights fall from the saddle as bolts bounced off the remaining knight’s armor and horse’s barding, they continued on bearing down upon he and the Langktrommi position. He passed ordered to the Quarrelers on either side of him to be ready to flank the knights if they had the opportunity but to keep firing at the Marauder battle line. The entire Dawi line fired again with the exception of the Langktrommi, the grumblers who held their Az-Dreugi or Kazak-Grund at the ready as the Dum Knights charge toward them. Morik calls out for the Langktrommi to stand ready then points his axe at the knights and one of the knights calls out in a Norsca Umgi tongue a challenge and Morik accepts with a nod and the four knights slam into the Langktrommi. Morik and the knight square off as his challenger looks to be in a frenzy or berserker rage as he swings a handful of times at Morik who is only able to block three of the attacks and is hit twice, and is wounded though his runic armor saves his life. Morik swings back and solidly hits the knight and wounds him as well. In the middle of the melee Morik sees only two of the Langktrommi fall to the ground and the Langktrommi and the Dum Chosen Knights remained locked in battle as the rest of the Dum Marauders charge the Dawi lines.

*


As the army charges forward Tylik sees that the Chosen Knights are still locked in combat as the second volley of crossbows come slamming into his forces. Three of his Chosen Warrior units are down to nearly half strength as they brave the missile fire and his two Marauder Warriors are nearly decimated with only one at half strength the other down to three warriors who are fleeing the battle field. He directs his unit of Chosen warriors to the left of the Knights to support them as the rest of his line slams into the Dwarves as the chant of “Blood for the Blood God” is yelled out in great exaltation. Miraculously an under strength unit of war-hounds appears and begins to harry the bolt-thrower crew.

*


All along the Dawi line units are fighting in hand to hand. The Langktrommi and Morik continue to fight the knights. Morik has to focus his whole being on the Knight before him as he one again parries and or blocks the majority of the knight’s attacks and again his armor saves his life. Morik manages to find several openings and strikes his challenger three times and has to step back as the knight falls from the saddle. Taking a quick look to his right Morik sees that Harok and his crewman are making short work against three war-hounds but more pressing is that the Dum general and his Chosen Warriors are now engaged with one of the Quarreler units. Looking left he sees the other Chosen Warriors and a unit of Marauder Warriors are engaged with Quarrelers on his left. One Quarreler unit on either flank has charged the flanks of the Marauders and Chosen Warriors. Morik at first thought the Chosen Knights bolstered by their general’s presence would stand but the two remaining Chosen Knights start backing off and as the Langktrommi keep attacking they pressure the knights to give way and they turn and flee. Morik attempts to rein in the Langktrommi thinking that they could never catch the fleeing Knights but their desire for Vengryn upon the Kladhand Tribe of Khorne was not sated and they chase after them and Morik goes with them. But as the knights turn and flee the horses slip upon the ice and fall under the great weapons of the Langktrommi who kill them. The Chosen Warriors to the left who witness the fall and slaughter of the Aspiring Champion carrying the armies battle standard turn and flee with the badly mauled Quarrelers whom they were fighting close on their heels. The other Chaos Marauders fighting two Quarreler units on the far left fared no better as they were hotly engaged in their front and side and with mounting casualties they turned and fled but not before being run down from behind and slaughtered by both Quarreler units.

*


Tylik seeing that his army was melting away like the snows around him on a spring day charged into the Quarrelers with his Chosen Warriors. In his attempt to salvage the situation he slipped, and fell, rising to his feet he swung at the Thane of the Quarrelers hitting him twice but failed to wound him as his blows for some reason were in effective. Even the Chosen Warriors the best of his army killed only one of the Dwarves to their front. It was maddening, Chosen Warriors of Khorne should have decimated the front line but instead Tylik found himself and his Chosen Warriors bogged down. Even as he fought he watched with dismay as the Chosen Knights died to a man and already the Dwarves on either side of him were turning to charge him in the flank and a third unit of Dwarves was even now maneuvering to his rear to cut him off. There was no hope, he was outnumbered as he and his units chanted the mantra, “Blood for the Blood God” as they fought vainly on.

*


Morik feared they would not be in time. The Dum Warriors fought well, but so did his Quarrelers. It seemed like for every three Dawi that fell only one Dum Warrior died. But then the Langktrommi and the Quarrelers charged in on both flanks and the great double bladed battle axes were swung cleaving armor and limbs, with blood spraying upon the white pristine ground and a complete rank of Dum Warriors bled their last. The general of the Dum Warriors seeing the Langktrommi charging in challenged Morik to mortal combat and charged Morik. Morik countercharged, flinging his battered shield towards the face of the onrushing Khorne general. There was a great clash of metal on metal that reminded those that heard it, recalling much later around the campfires or pubs that it sounded like the peel of a large bell sounding out the time of day.

*


Tylik challenged and charged the Dwarf general who appeared to be to be already wounded and as he prepared to render him into nothing more than dead meat the Dwarf flung his shield into his face and he had to knock the shield away. But it was all a trick, for as he brought his own weapon up out of line away from his body to hit the shield the Dwarf general came in swinging his mighty axe whose edge seemed to glow and eerie blue light along its edges. The axe hit not once but four times and each time Tylik felt his mighty Chaos Dwarf made armor sunder and ribs shatter and even as he tried to bring his weapon down to take the Dwarves head from his shoulders he felt the ribs puncture his lungs and heart. Shouting “Blood to the Blood God” Tylik struck with all his might only to watch his axe fall from his weakening hands as his knees buckled and he slowly fell to his knees. He looked around him and there was not one of his Warriors standing, those that were; were running and the cursed Dwarves were cutting them down. When he looked back through dimming eyes at the Dwarf general, he saw the axes shining blue light, and then there was eternal darkness as his head rolled across the snow.

*


It was the middle of Adderhekes and Lord Morik Ragnison of the King’s Drak Rangers and of Clan Oakenstave stood before the King of Kraka Draka, behind Morik standing at attention stood his Quarreler Throng and around them was nearly the entire population of the Kraka with the exception of those on guard duty throughout the realm and those to aged, infirmed, or too young. There were even a few representatives from the other three Norsca Dawi Krakas.

Morik was overwhelmed and he was not often so. He was a Gormtrommi and had seen and experienced more than his share of fighting since he passed his Rite of Kumenoubt so many years ago. Last month he and his Quarrelers had ambushed as Army of Khorne led by one of the fallen, a Baersonlings, a Norseman, a former Dawikoni who had succumbed to the blood "I swear too much" of Khorne. It was a costly ambush in the terms of lost Dawi. Of the one hundred and forty-four clansmen that he led into battle fifty seven fell and out of this number twenty seven did not recover from their wounds. Those that did not recovered were honored, their names added to the two massive ten-sided pillars that flanked the massive throne of the main audience chamber – a constant reminder of the cost in lives that ensures the continued survival of the Norsca Dawi Realm. Some of the wounded would never again stand shoulder to shoulder in a line-of-battle and would return back to their guilds and clan houses with a pension and the gratitude of the King. Others rejoined the ranks much like Borin Skaffson, the bolt-thrower crewman who lost his leg when a crack in the ice opened up and closed suddenly upon his leg was back crewing the bolt-thrower with a new ivory and iron leg. The Quarreler Throng led by Lord Morik Ragnison were here to honor their dead and to be honored by the entire population of Kraka Drak.


(all combat was mapped out and dice rolled to determine the results so not to be accused by my friends of directing the outcome of the battle and story, much like I have done all along. the die rolls were really c.r.a.p.p.y when I rolled for Chaos. In the hand to hand phases with the Chaos Lord the dice rolled nothing but 1's and 2's. I rerolled and still came up with a majority of 1's and 2's. Dead is dead and the story continues according to the die rolls)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 27 December 2007 - 01:43 AM.


#50 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 21 December 2007 - 08:55 AM

Wow Skull Krusher, this is some really good work. Such quality on our own site.
Took my quite a while to get through it from the start, but it was worth it!

Get yourselves some ales on my tab, to help you get rid of that thirsty throat.
Finished?
Now go on with the story!! happy.gif

Torendil Hammerfire

Edited by Torendil Hammerfire, 21 December 2007 - 08:56 AM.


#51 Runesmith Casmir

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 07:57 AM

Skull Crusher the history is amazing I really love your work. You must be a loremaster yourslef when the hammer is reasting on your back instead of your hands my freind, Please continue on in your tale and have one on me. drinks.gif
Thank you for your comments I appreciate your help, and I read your work from one of the Drak Rangers in a pub one night at Barak Varr, its inspired me to take up the pen myself and hopefully be able to write as well as you in the future

#52 Skull Krusher

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 02:20 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Seven

It was Navnsdeg the Day of Naming and the Karugromthi Drak-Hammerer, Lord Drazhgrund Kartinson of Clan Durazklad walked beside his wife, Kari Katrindottier of Clan Durazklad; in their wake they were followed by the King and Queen of Kraka Drak and the rest of the royal clan of Durazklad. The royal gathering was all the more impressive in that each wore their finest. The males in their gleaming armor, the females in fine robes and furs displaying just as much gold and gems woven into their long braided hair as the males had in their dead-locks and flowing beards and on either side of the royal column were the King’s Drak-Hammers in shining armor. Slowly the whole procession made its way past the underground water gardens, markets, inns, and eventually to the Grand Hall or Khraz of the underground city Kraka Drak with it towering vaulted ceiling and endless stairs that climbed to the various levels of the Grand Khraz before continuing on down the wide boulevards to the temple district where they stopped at the main Thryng of Grungni, not one of the small clan temples but the High Temple for the entire population of Kraka Drak and Norsca itself. Here they stopped in front of the massive double ornate doors decorated and carved with scenes from ancient Dawi myths and legends and the doors were closed.

In front of the doors just beyond the four steps, that represented the four main Ancestor Gods stood a Priest of Grungni dressed in dark gray robes which he wore under his chain mail, his braided forked iron grey beard bedecked with gold wire hung runes and icons brushed the tops of his feet. In his hands he held runic warhammer. On either side of him flanking the doors stood two Zunthrum’s of Grungni. The priest raised one hand as if in warding or perhaps greetings and spoke; “Who comes before Grungni and for what reason?” he rumbled and his voice sounded like the grinding of rocks in a swollen stream bed.

Drazhgrund answered not as son of the 42nd King of Kraka Drak, or as the Drak-Hammer Lord, or a venerated Karugromthi, or even as the senior Throngrink of the Durazklad clan, but as a father. “I, Drazhgrund Kartinson with my wife, Kari Katrindottier stand before you with our son.” Then he turned to Kari who handed him their son that he took in his corded muscular battle scarred gentle hands. When he held him in the crook of his arm he turned back toward the priest.

The priest nodded ponderously and spoke again. “Therefore present him to Grungni now, that we may see him with our own eyes” and he turned to the doors of the temple as they slowly swung open and the priest entered followed by Drazhgrund and then over 1200 males of clan filed through the doors into the Thryng. Drazhgrund followed the priest all the way to the Dais as everyone else stood rather than sit in the pews. When everyone was inside the doors swung silently shut.

Drazhgrund stood beside the large Dais to the right of the priest. Upon the Dais was a large gromril bowl nearly full with ale, and two large pitchers. The priest laid his warhammer upon the Dais and with each hand took the pitchers and poured; an alchemy of stone and steel into the bowl all the while chanting a litany of Grungni asking for a blessing upon the child before him. When the pitchers were empty he picked up his warhammer and set the hammer end into the bowl and with the palms of his hands on either side of the handle slowly spun the warhammer back and fourth as he mixed ale, stone, and steel solutions together. At each rotation of the warhammer the assembled clansman hit the floor with their weapon hafts and the sound echoed throughout the temple like a giant miner’s pick digging into a rock wall or a warhammer against an enemies shield. When the echoes died down the priest stopped stirring and brought forth a shield from behind the Dais. Drazhgrund un-wrapped the swaddling clothes from around his son and laid him in the shield. The clansman watched as the priest dipped a Dawi war helm into the bowl and when the helm was full he poured it, anointing Drazhgrund’s son who clenched his small fist beating the sides of the shield as he wailed and kicked at the priest. When the helm was empty, and the child thoroughly soaked as he lay in his small alchemy filled pool the priest asked Drazhgrund’s his son’s name. The priest picked up the child and held him before the statues of Grungni then before the boy’s assembled fellow clansman as he spoke. “Clansman of Durazklad, I present to you Alaric, son of Drazhgrund, grandson of King Kartin Mordinson, great-grandson of King Mordin Blackhammer Elmadorson, great-great grandson of King Elmador Finnson,” and the Priest continued until he reached the name of the first king of Kraka Drak who was kin to the kings of Karak-a-Karak in the Worlds Edge Mountains. When the priest had finished his litany of who Alaric’s forbearers were he handed Alaric back to Drazhgrund who dried him off and wrapped him back up. When he was finished Drazhgrund stepped away from the altar area stood before his clan as he presented his son to them, first to come forward was the present King, the 56th of Kraka Draka who greeted the grandson of the long dead King Kartin, and King Thorin was followed by the rest of the clan who came to acknowledge their kinship. When they were done the Priest of Grungni opened and recorded Alaric’s name in the Annuals of Kraka Drak then they all filed out of the temple where the females of the clan stood waiting outside. Drazhgrund stood before Kari and placed their son back into her arms. Then with a nod of thanks to the priest he turned away and the assembled procession proceeded to the Thryng of Valaya.

Where the passage to Grungni’s Thryng was somber and serious the procession to the Thryng of Valaya was joyous, a happy occasion full of laughter and song from the females of the clan. As they proceeded, their voices rose up into song and the song gradually swelled reminding the listeners of the sweet sensuous sounds of spring as the harsh cold Wyr or snow of winter slowly melts into pure cool water that seeps into the deep dark earth and the roots of the mountains bringing forth life. The procession and song continued and the melody floated upon the air up and down the various levels of the great city of Kraka Drak until the royal clan reached the Thryng of Valaya and like all temples with the exception of those to Gazul whose four steps lead downward to her young brother’s temples; hers lead upward like Grungni’s and Grimnir’s and their sons. There upon the topmost of the four steps, before the strong delicately carved and engraved doors bearing the images and symbols associated with Valaya stood her High Priestess. She stood there before the royal clan not in the guise of a warrior but as the mother of all Dawi with long white hair that still had more than a few golden strands reminding all of her maiden youth so long ago. Her hair was worn into a Grindal braided weave of a matron that flowed over her shoulders around her waist and then all the way to her feet. She was in flowing deep dark purple robes with Aldrunr runes woven with gold thread into the hem, sleeve cuffs, and cowl edge representing the symbols of Hearth, Healing, and Brewing and in between those symbols were the rune symbols for protection, sanctuary, steadfastness, invulnerability, restraint, and courage; and around the Priestess’s neck was a gold chain and from it hung a round medallion with Valaya’s runes inscribed upon it. The song, and its joyous import continued as the Priestess spread her arms in welcome and the doors behind her slowly opened and the Priestess joined the females of the royal clan in song as they entered the bright cheery temple that smelled of brewing hops and their male kin stayed outside listening to the song, tears leaking from many a battle scared warriors face as the song slowly faded away with the shutting of the temple doors.

The song followed them in even as Kari followed the High Priestess of Valaya to the forefront of the temple where the altar stood flanked by the two aspects of the Ancestor Goddess. The Zunthrum on the left showed her peaceful aspect, unarmored, with a healthy infant in her arm and a tankard of ale in the free hand. The other statue shows her in a mail coat and helmet with a shield held before her and her axe raised and upon all the walls were frescoes depicting scenes from Dawi life. Behind the altar was a massive hearth where a fire was going and hanging over the fire was a large gromril pot, above the hearth was a mantle and upon it stood the shield of Valaya and to the left of it was a tankard and on the right was a rune-axe named Kradskonti, “peace giver.”

Finally after everyone had taken their position around the altar the song faded from their lips but not their minds as the melody seemed to linger on as each and every Dawi female; child, maiden, mother, and crone said a prayer to Valaya for protection of Hearth and Kin. When all were finished the Priestess finally spoke. “Come, Kari, dottier of Katrin. Bring forth thy son,” and Kari came to stand next to priestess who held out her hands. Kari handed Alaric to her and the priestess began removing the swaddling cloths and laughed out loud when she saw the knot that Drazhgrund had tied. The women of the clan were puzzled until she told them that it seemed for all his years Drazhgrund still could not tie a knot properly and everyone laughed. Not at Throngrink of the royal clan but the father and now they each had something to smile about when they came in contact with the patriarch of their clan. Then the priestess held the naked Alaric in her arms for all to see then she and Kari stood on either side of the wide open hearth and passed him back and forth through the smoke of Valaya’s Hearth four times in honour of the Ancestor Gods who were born in the heart of the mountains of the legendary Karak Zorn. Then the two of them returned to the altar where the priestess redressed Alaric showing all the proper knot to secure the garment in place which brought another chuckle from all the mothers in the room as she handed Alaric to Kari and turned toward the hearth to bring the gromril pot to the altar. The priestess brought forth a spoon, but the Queen Mother, King Thorin’s mother Valma Kettradottier of Clan Durazklad stood and made her slow way to the altar and spoke. “I have brought a gift for our newest mother,” and then she laid a small slender box made of gold which was engraved with Kari’s and Drazhgrund’s name upon the lid. Then she turned away and took her seat next to her granddaughters. Kari opened the lid and nestled inside upon deep purple velvet lay a gold spoon. When she brought it forth the priestess smiled at Kari this was a gift for a future prince if not a king but kept quiet for the spoon was made with three runes upon it, the Runes of Purification, of Warmth, and the Master Rune of Immunity to Poison. Kari handed the spoon to the priestess who dipped it into the gromril pot and began feeding Alaric his first spoonful of stone soup, in a ritual of welcome to the new clan member. As Alaric was fed the women of the clan began singing once more and as over four hundred voices rose in joyous welcome they stood and surrounded the mother and child giving them both their blessing for health and long life. When all was done they slowly filed out bringing the song back outside where their male kin stood waiting and the song enveloped them all as they went back to the royal compound.


#53 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 09:40 AM

Man I like to read this stuff, the pieces always seem to end to soon tongue.gif

Have another ale on me, and may your creative beard keep flowing!

Torendil Zharrgrund

#54 Skull Krusher

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 04:35 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Eight

* * *


It had been over five hundred years since Clan Krupp had settled in Kraka Drak thanks to the Lord Drazhgrund and in all that time change came slowly to the Engineers Guild. In all that time there was only one regiment of Thunders and it was not for the want of trying thought the Patriarch of Clan Krupp, Sven Dargoson, whose great uncle Dern Dalhgrunson founded the clan here in Kraka Drak. There numbers were small compared to other clans but they had started small, the last of the Krupp Clan to escape the Wizard Wars that had enveloped the Empire for over three hundred and twenty years. With just five adults, and one male child and three female children, and with three of those adults pregnant at the time of their rescue by Lord Drazhgrund and the Sven Skauldson, Captain and Master of the “Sea Cat” their clan now number a little more than one twenty five thanks to the fact that Clan Krupp always first to take in any orphaned Dawi child whose family and clan was unknown. But the core of Clan Krupp was the descendants of the original twelve.

He had left early from the Keg’s End party. He had worked to do. Nothing seemed to change. Change came all too slowly Sven Dargoson thought as he continued polishing a pair of hand guns; his ancestor Dern Dalhgrunson may have been a Guild-Master Engineer within the Empire but not here in their new home. It mattered not to his great uncle, it was enough that his family was safe and that they had a new home, a new foundry and engineering shop, and steadfast sponsor in Lord Drazhgrund who ensured that they were accepted by the close-knit Engineers Guild. As the Krupp displayed it competence and engineering expertise they drew support from the other engineering clans as well as suitable single males after all Clan Krupp came with three young females and a widowed female which drew suitors aplenty and any children from those unions would belong to the same clan as their mothers, Clan Krupp so the clan grew slowly. Now after five hundred years Clan Krupp became more than accepted but was now an integral part of the guild and finally after all that time the first regiment of Drak-Thunders, was to be integrated into the Throng of Kraka Drak. There was no way the Langktrommi, Lord Groth “Mhornar Stalker” Crannegson of Clan Durazklad and the commander of the King’s Drak-Rangers was going to outfit his Drak-Rangers with Krupp handguns. The first weapons that the clan had brought with them were nothing more than Arquebuses, match-lock blunderbusses that often did more harm to the shooter than the target but Krupp no longer made those relics and had lately graduated from smoothbore handguns that the Empire mostly uses to the latest Krupp engineering feat, rifled handguns. These guns were much more accurate than anything the Empire could craft and much easier to load. But still more than once during tonight’s Keg’s End celebration Lord Groth stated that the whole purpose of the Drak-Rangers was to be unseen and unheard and whenever a Drak-Ranger fired his weapon you would hear it from mountain top to mountain top not to mention the blue-while cloud of smoke that billowed out and the flash of muzzle fire that would mark the shooters position. Yes Lord Groth was surly impressed with the accuracy and the killing power but the Quarrelers could still fire at longer ranges and the shooter was unseen and unheard. Still all was not lost Sven thought to him self as he put the finishing touches on a pair of matched handguns and holsters for Lord Groth. Even Lord Drazhgrund had a pair, one mounted on the inside of his shield just above the shield arm, the other next to his calumet and tabac pouch and what Lord Drazhgrund favored most Thanes took note.

When he finished with the handguns he placed them in the specially made wooden case made from the Wutroth mountain-oak whose wood finished was highly polished. As he closed the case he thought of tonight’s Keg’s End revel and reached for a tankard of ale and began laughing once more to himself about the story that Lord Drazhgrund told about an Empire brewer whose gigantic beer brewing vat that was 22 paces high and 60 paces in diameter that literally collapsed due to faulty engineering; a defective supporting hoop. Needless to say the 4,000 barrel capacity beer vat ruptured, causing other vats to break, and a wall of dark beer washed down the street, caving in buildings and killing nine people by means of drowning, injury, poisoning by the fumes, or drunkenness. The story got even more unbelievable, though. Rescue attempts were blocked and delayed by thousands of Empire citizens who flocked to the area to drink directly off the drin. The resulting commotion of the riot was heard up to five leagues away. One good thing that came of the accident. The sewers were washed cleaned and never smelled better. Sven was still laughing when he finished the last of the beer from his families last keg that he had stored in the shop and not a drop spilled to bring him or the clan bad luck this coming year. Unlike the Empire brewer he thought as he turned down the lamp, locked the door to the shop and headed for Krupp clan home.

* * *

Edited by Skull Krusher, 02 January 2008 - 12:25 AM.


#55 Skull Krusher

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 02:04 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Forty Nine

Last night’s Keg’s End revel was never better he thought to himself and the pounding in his head reminded him that he needed another drink. Looking around the common room of the Drak-Thunder barracks he finally found several keg’s that had just a wee bit in the bottom so he upended them all into a tankard and slowly drank his first drink of the New Year from several different brews. When his head began to clear he saw that there were quiet a few of his fellow Thunders asleep in various places, on the table, under benches, and one nearly in the fire. Largo Khazadson reached over and rolled the comatose warrior away from the fire and looked down to see who it was and saw that it was the Drak-Thunder’s weapons-smith engineer; Harok Svenson of Clan Krupp. Then he remembered last night’s verbal arguments between weapons-smith and several of the other members of the Drak-Thunders. To the effect that Thunders we to be used in the Throngs line of battle and not as rangers something that Largo disagreed with. Largo had argued that he had just as much training as a ranger and thought in the right hands a Drak-Thunder with a handgun was much more effective than any ranger with a quarreler. Largo still thought that and no amount of evidence to the contrary or orders from Lord Groth who was in charge of the rangers would convince him otherwise and he knew just which valley to prove it. An obscure valley; just to the southwest of the Umgi Aeslings tribes that from the scouting reports he had overheard being discussed that came from the Dawikoni Aeslings and Drak-Rangers saying that there was some minute evidence of a Dum Gors and a new Herd Stone. So finishing his drink he decided to prove that a Drak-Thunder was just as capable as a Drak-Ranger. So he took the keys from the weapons-smiths belt and departed.

*


It took Largo nearly three days of travel through various main branches of the Ungdrin to reach the closest doorway that lead out into the cold white vastness of northern Norsca and at each branch of the Ungdrin he was hailed by the Drak-Ironbreaker guards who patrolled and guarded the ways. He was not ill prepared. He had full field provisions and plenty of shot, powder, and percussion caps for the handgun. For clothing he had several layers of wool on, as well as his leather armor, and full length cloak to keep him warm including a small metal portable stove inscribed with a Rune of Warmth. The stove collapsed into a small square the size of his hand that fit into a leather pouch on his belt. At the last locked and guarded doorway that lead out into the semi-darkness of Norsca the guards asked where the rest of his Drak-Ranger patrol was and Largo assured the guards that they would be along directly. The senior of the four Ironbreaker guards shook his head took out his keys and unlocked several sets of locks, a gently pushed the door open, revealing a darkened rough hewn chamber and another door. He shut the door behind them and with another key he unlocked it and pushed and the door slowly swung outward and the outer surfaces of the door looked like a rough looking segment of rock. The guard showed Largo how to open it from the outside if and when his team needed to return and the signal that he needed to hit upon the inner doorway for entrance back into the Ungdrin. With that the guard wished him luck and when Largo passed through the second door he shut and locked it behind him but before doing so he informed the Drak-Ranger that he would insure that the rest of the patrol knew that he would be waiting for them; then he turned and reentered the Ungdrin shutting the door.

Even through the second outer door Largo heard the massive iron bound door shut with an ominous certainty and as the locks were reset. He shucked off his pack and removed the quarreler and quiver of bolts that he had no intention of carrying and from his blanket-roll he removed his handgun which he loaded and primed and brought out the powder-flask and shot bag that he hung from his belt. With his double bladed axe placed in his belt he repacked and pulled his cloak about him and proceeded out the tunnel pausing only to look one last time at the shut outer door behind him and he felt an ominous finality that he could not explain. Turning he saw that the tunnel was perhaps fifteen or twenty paces in length and that it came to an abrupt end amidst an outcrop of the mountain and a pile of boulders that shielded the opening which was situated in the center of a stand of Wutroth. He thought of the map that hung in the last Drak-Ironbreaker guardroom, the one that showed where he had just exited and the Ungdrin, how close the nearest Umgi Aeslings village was, and the distant valley that was perhaps three days away; three days in summer conditions perhaps five or six in winter. It was twilight and it was cold as he laced his snow shoes on then proceeded toward the valley. It was beginning to snow so he kept the sheepskin covering over his handgun to keep it warm and dry and he was glad it was snowing, the falling snow would eventually cover his trail.

(to be continued)

#56 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 12:33 PM

I missed 48, so today I got two peices at once!

As always, a good and entertaining read!
Keep it comming!

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#57 Skull Krusher

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 05:49 AM

Kraka Drak - Party Fifty

*


“Lord Drazhg….” The Langktrommi, Thane Brokk “Azulfist” Stromnison, of Shieldbreaker Clan and commander of the Drak-Thunders was cut off before he could finish.

“Thane Brokk it took Clan Krupp five hundred years to convince me that it was good idea to raise a unit of Drak-Thunders and in less than a day after that final decision has been made by the King. You, Thane Brokk have already lost one of the King’s warriors without even going into combat!” Drazhgrund was more than irritated over this. King Thorin was the overall commander when the Throng took to the field but Drazhgrund oversaw much of the Throng organization acting as the King’s overall Chief of Staff, for the entire Throng. Field command was delegated to deserving individual Thanes for small insignificant campaigns so they could gain additional experience, like last summer when his grandson, Lord Stromni “Skull Krusher” Ragnison commanded the Norsca Expeditionary force in the Talabec Boarders within the Empire. But Thane Brokk stood not before the King but before Lord Drazhgrund who was much more intimidating and Brokk wished he stood before the king and not here. “Explain!” Drazhgrund commanded.

If it was possible to climb under a rock and hide Brokk would have done so and even if he could it would be to no avail. He did not even have an answer. “My Lord, I think Largo Khazadson disappeared shortly after the Keg’s End celebration and it was not discovered until a day or two later that weapons-smith engineer; Harok Svenson of Clan Krupp discovered his armory keys had been used and not replaced back on his belt but instead in his tabac pouch. Were it not for that Harok would not have checked the armory.”

“That does not explain why he is gone and where!” Drazhgrund growled.

“Largo Khazadson is head strong and did not care to hear the reasons that his unit was not allowed to reinforce the Drak-Rangers.” Then Brokk breathed in deeply before going on, “There is still too much Gazani within him.” Brokk said as if that explained everything which it did not so he continued. “Largo Khazadson is an orphan and grew up within the Garzani community in the Empire city of Nuln listening to the tales of the Umgi and Gazani hand-gunners who swelled his head about the overwhelming power of handguns.”

“Like some of our other young Garazi thinking that if you fill the air with enough quarreler bolts that they will be no reason to learn to fight with an axe or hammer in a line of battle.” Drazhgrund stated flatly and Thane Brokk nodded in an informative. “And last years victory by Lord Morik will seem a vindication to those who seemed to forget that it was axe and hammer work once the ambush was sprung” as he shook his bead. Then Drazhgrund looked back at Brokk and again asked, “Where is he?”

Brokk wished he could have a drink but instead took a deep breath before answering. “I have no idea, from what we can determine he went to the armory and removed a Krupp handgun and enough ammunition for a rank of Thunders and departed into the Ungdrin.”

Just then there was a loud knock at the door and Lord Drazhgrund called out, “Enter!” with a voice that would have downed a Norsca elk, and when the door opened he saw Lord Morik, and Groth entered the room followed by the Drak-Ironbreaker Thane and Thane Brokk felt all the more smaller when the three Thanes entered and none of them looked particularly congenial.

“I said we were not to be disturbed.” Drazhgrund stated, looking directly at each of the newcomers. “There better be a good reason.”

“Drong, here,” Lord Morik indicated the reason but not the why.

Then Drong Norgrimson, Thane of the Drak-Ironbreakers spoke. “I informed Lord Groth that my Ironbreakers had reported that Largo Khazadson departed without the rest of his Drak-Rangers from the Ungdrin just south of the last doorway leading to the Kraka Dorden. He exited the southern spur of the Ungdrin at Wutroth Grove. The guard thought it odd when his companions did not show up and when he investigated he found the quarrel and quiver full of bolts sitting inside the exit tunnel and no sign of the Drak-Ranger.”

“That was when I told him that I have no Drak-Ranger by the name of Largo Khazadson.” Interrupted Lord Groth “Mhornar Stalker” Crannegson the commander of the King’s Drak-Rangers stated.

Then Drong unrolled a map on the nearby table which showed the Ungdrin. “Largo took the long way around to get to Wutroth Grove exit. By going through smaller side Ungdrin a party can reach the Wutroth exit by tomorrow morning instead of the well known smoother circular mountain merchant route he took. I can send four Ironbreakers as guides to unlock the various doors and get you pass the traps that are in place in doing so I will also learn the condition of this seldom used route.” Drazhgrund studied the map and then looked toward Groth and then to Morik before making his decision.

“Morik I assume you will be in charge.” Both Drazhgrund and Morik looked to Lord Groth who nodded affirmative. “Brokk you will go with Lord Morik. Perhaps you will learn first hand why Drak-Rangers do not carry handguns and you can pass this valuable information and experience on to your clansman. You may leave.”

Lord Groth stayed behind taking a seat next to his old friend. The both sat their in silence, Drazhgrund stuffing his calumet with tabac, and Groth studying the flames in the hearth. Finally Lord Groth spoke. “Why? Why bother?”

Drazhgrund was surprised by the questions and not at all of what he would have expected. “What would you have the King do? Leave the foolish Gazani to his fate. We need all Dawi, even the Doh ones and if we show the rest of our new Dawi citizens that we have taken in from the Empire that we care for even the least of them. Then ever so slowly they will be assimilated into mainstream Norsca, Kraka Drak culture leaving behind forever the Umgi taint. We need even the Doh ones Groth.” Drazhgrund answered as he lit his pipe and took in a deep breath of tabac. Lord Groth nodded slowly rose and left the room. Just outside the door he expected to see just the two guards who were always posted outside the door, but their stood Kari carrying Alaric Drazhgrundson in her arms, and behind her were four more Drak-Hammer bodyguards. Lord Groth was momentarily caught off guard at the sight of Kari armored and armed, and carrying a child and he had a vision of the Ancestor Goddess Valaya, and the vision faded as he held the door open for her as she entered. As he closed it he heard laughter from Drazhgrund, something that seemed quiet unnatural but then Dawi wee ones did that to any parent, even the six stoic dour looking Drak-Hammers who stood outside the door seemed to smile at the laughter; their eyes sparkling. He was still smiling to himself thinking of the laughter as he headed for the Drak-Ranger barracks and compound.


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 January 2008 - 05:56 AM.


#58 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 09:14 AM

Well I am repeating myself on this one, but good story!

I think it will be nice to hear how the searching party goes through the secret passages and disarmes traps!

Have another ale on my tab!

Torendil Zharrgrund

#59 Skull Krusher

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 03:57 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Fifty One

*


Beside Morik, there were five Drak-Rangers, Thane Brokk, and four Drak-Ironbreakers traveling the narrow twisting Ungdrin. Much of the way they traveled single file and fortunately the way was wide enough for two to travel side by side but it was better to travel in single file so as not to keep hitting their packs or weapons on the tunnel walls as they hurried along almost at a run at times. Only the Ironbreakers slowed them up and that was when they had to disarm traps or unlock doors. But still their fastest pace was one that the Ironbreakers in their heavy gromril armor did not complain of.

They traveled for just over a day without stopping for more than a short break for food and water had finally reached a heavy iron bound door. The Ironbreaker approached the door and with his hammer he rapped the door four times, then three times, then four times all in different locations upon the door and each time he hit the ring of metal against metal was loud and clear. Then he produced a key and waited then everyone heard a hammer tap upon the other side of the door and the Ironbreaker hit the door again in two new locations. Then he inserted his key and turned and everyone heard bolts being opened and bars being removed. Then the door slowly opened toward them and they were greeted by a dozen Ironbreakers with weapons drawn and at the ready who when they recognized their fellow Ironbreakers they beckoned everyone to enter into the main Ungdrin. They promptly shut door and relocked it and placed the bars back into place. Then the pace quickened as they were now only a half a candle mark away from the Wutroth Grove exit. Once they arrived there they went through the same exit procedure as Largo Khazadson who was perhaps a day or day and a half ahead of them.

*


The snow was deeper than what he expected and he thought he was used to the cold as well but the streets of Nuln had never had more than a foot or more and one could always duck into an inn or a shop on the pretense of buying something just to warm up. He had often traveled with other Dawi merchants on their trips back and forth between the great cities of the Empire; Nuln, Altdorf, Middenheim, and Talabheim. On these occasions as he guarded the merchant caravan wagons he had seen what well trained hand-gunners could do to the denizens of the Drakwold Forest, the Chaos Beastman and mutants; they died in a blaze of handgun fire. Largo was sure that Lord Groth was wrong, that his Drak-Rangers could be just as affective as the caravan guards and he would prove it.

It was still snowing, it had been since he left the tunnel and was about to take a brief rest when he heard a noise that seemed out of place in the soft cold quiet. It reminded him of the drawing of a bow, the creak as it was flexed, drawing in power, power to kill. Instinctively Largo threw himself to the ground and rolled away to a different position but the depth of the snow and the fact that he wore snow shoes hampered him, he was not on the streets of Nuln.

Largo came to a stop in a deep drift his heart was pounding as he lay there listening. But he heard nothing further just the heavy weight of the cold pressing down seeping into him. Cautiously he raised his head and searched. Seeing nothing he slowly knelt and searched further around him seeing nothing but the occasional snow laden pines that held onto life upon the mountainsides and ridges he was following and the deep undisturbed snows on either side of his direction of travel. But he was sure he had heard something as he rose to his feet making sure his equipment was still strapped down and not hanging loose, brushing the snow from his equipment, armor, and cloak. He was cold from having lain in the snow, he stood there a moment – looked around and decided to continue on seeing no possible shelter except the occasional tree heavy with snow looking like some Endrinkuli’s or brewer’s upside down funnel. Largo continued on toward the distant valley and hope to find some shelter in a small cave or the rocky outcrop where he could rest, get warm by a fire, and eat or drink something hot. As he plodded heavily along breaking a trail that a blind Umgi could follow he ate smoked cheese from Kislev, his favorite and ate handfuls of fresh snow to quench his thirst. The whole time he continued to search his surroundings and listen as he headed for the valley that he was sure was just over the next ridge line, and there he knew things would get warmer, hotter as he proved the worth of hand-gunners.

*


Most of Norsca was taken up by nearly impassable empty frozen mountains with a scattering of the Dawikoni Umgi tribes, and deep fjords that seemed to split Norsca into many fragments. During the dark winter months the smaller narrower fjords were often times frozen over appearing as nothing more than flat valleys covered over with a layer of deep snow. It was only during the brief summers that Drak-Varr Rangers and the Dawikoni Umgi tribes of Norsca plied their longboats up the fjords as they mapped out the interior of the Norsca. On one such survey trip the Drak-Varr Rangers discovered on the north coast of the Sea of Claws the mouth of a narrow fjord that twisted its way towards the Frozen Seas to the North. At the very end of the fjord they discovered an outcrop of rock that jutted up from the bottom of the fjord like a deformed mailed fist of some drowned giant angrily shaking its fist at the grey skies. The Drak-Varr Rangers reported that the shaft of rock reached nearly one hundred feet above the surface of the deep dark waters and was covered with markings of Dum Gor nature. They search the shore line for any rafts or boats but found none to indicate how the Dum Gor could reach the Herd Stone or even to have the ability to draw or paint their obscene symbols upon the rock. The only thing they found were several trails that lead from the shoreline to the top of the ridges on either side of the fjords. The Drak-Varr Rangers and the Dawikoni Umgi had come back many times but found no recent evidence of Dum Gor being in the area. So they drew their maps, including the unusual Herd Stone, the shorelines with its trails that led into the vast emptiness of Norsca. It was only as an after thought that the leader of the exhibition pinned an addendum to the report stating that perhaps during the winter when the waters of the fjord are frozen can the Dum Gor gain access to the stone. It was this valley that both Largo and Morik’s Drak-Rangers were heading for.

It was good that Largo had a memory for maps and despite the snow that obscured the landmarks he still made good time. Largo thought he would never get to the top of the ridge. It had finally stopped snowing when he got there and now the wind shifted slightly and he smelled smoke and then smelled wet fur and burnt flesh. He quickly decided not to brush the dusting of snow off his cloak wishing the wool was white instead of granite grey. He knelt beside a rocky outcrop and peered down into the valley. As he did so he thought of the discussion he had over a tankard of ale at his favorite Nuln alehouse where an itinerate Monk of Sigmar spoke knowingly about the Dum Gor saying, “When the world was very young, a group of nomads drifted north into the icy steppes where they tamed wild dogs to help herd wild boar, long horned cattle, and goats, which they raised for food and clothing. When the Gate of Heaven collapsed, Chaos was released into our world saturating the people of the north. The loosed energy of Chaos melded the poor simple folk with their herds and other animals, warping them into the Beastman we recognize today.” But that discussion was a long time ago long before he, and many Gazani had been offered the chance to become citizens of Kraka Drak. What ever the true origins Largo began to have misgiving about being alone out here in the wilds of Norsca and not back in that alehouse.

*


They all heard it as they followed the trail left by Largo the faint echoing sound. Brokk knew what that sound meant and so did Morik who had been a part of the Norsca Expeditionary Force sent to the Empire for the Nemesis Campaign. All seven of them picked up the pace that was made easier since Largo had already blazed a trail for them that was easy to follow, then they heard two more shots and the sound of a horn and then the answering call of another and without hesitation seven quarrels were drawn and loaded, only Brokk did not since he carried a handgun which was already loaded but seeing the others load their quarrels made him put a percussion cap on and gently lower the hammer upon the cap and recover the handgun with his fur cloak. Brokk was thankful that Morik had outfitted him in the same thick white fur bearskin cloak that the other Drak-Rangers wore to blend into the snowy surroundings it also kept his weapon dry. They were ready and then they too smelled the faint odor of smoke. Smoke where they all knew there was no Dawi or Umgi Dawikoni settlements existed which meant only Dum Gors or Dum Marauders and one lone Dawi ill equipped to handle either.


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 11 January 2008 - 06:08 AM.


#60 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 10:32 AM

So nice to be able to read a new piece every day!

As always, good writing and great suspense at the end!

Torendil Zharrgrund




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