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Kraka Draka

a series of short stories

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#61 Skull Krusher

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 06:04 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Fifty Two

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Largo still kneeling reached inside his cloak and removed a long brass tube wrapped in leather. Opening it he removed the gun’s long-glass and attached it to the top of the barrel, raised the gun to his shoulder and sighted down the barrel as he methodically scanned the not to distant valley floor. The walls of the valley were steep and heavy with snow as were the mountains and cliffs that seemed to lean out over the valley floor on the far side. The valley was long and narrow disappearing in the distance this end of the valley ended just below him and accessible by what looked like a path that cut back and forth down a steep sloop. The valley floor was barren of trees and to his surprise barren of all vegetation which he thought odd, but odder still was the tall column of stone that towered above the valley floor. All around what appeared to be a herd stone were the shaggy shapes of the Dum Gor. Near the edges of the valley under the eaves of the forest were glowing fires and ever more Dum Gor. A few of the Gor were huge, white-furred Gronti which reminded him of another alehouse discussion amongst other Gazani Dawi. He remembered what Dimbar said, “That the Umgi clans of Norsca held that there warriors must take the head of a huge, white-furred behemoth they called a Yeti as a rite of passage to manhood.” Largo shook his head when he spotted what must surely be a Yeti as was glad that his Dawi kin had no similar traditions but then again the Dawi of Norsca are a little more traditional and conservative than the Worlds Edge Mountain Dawi and have some strange ways of doing things. As he continued to observe he heard a loud Umgi scream that brought his eyes back to the stone and then he saw the captives. Five or six Umgi roped together and guarded by four Ungor. But the scream died away as what could only be a Bray-Shaman lifted his bloody knife into the air with one hand and the other held an Umgi heart as two Gors dragged the body over to the fires along a well trod bloody path through the snow. The shaman began shaking blood from the heart as he used it to scrawl symbols across the face of the rock and when he was done he began eating the heart and chanting. Soon the symbols began to glow with eerie blue green light.

Largo had seen enough, the range was too long for a sure shot so he looked for a way down the mountain to get closer to the valley without being seen and soon spotted where the trail lead in and out of the valley almost to his very position. Who or what had made the trail of beaten snow he did not know. But looking both ways along it he saw no lookouts and when he got to the trail he saw tracks in the snow but who ever had made them must have left the valley so he moved quickly, noisily down the trail till he came to a pile of boulders that must have fallen from the mountain heights above him an eon ago that overlook the fires and the few trees that lined the valley floor. As he took up his position in the rocks he removed his pack so he could grab extra ammo if he should needed it. A few feet away just below his position there was more deep snow and the trail continued on towards the valley floor a short distance away. There was another scream of terror, and one of the Umgi fought clear of his capturers knocking one to the ground as he ran towards the sloop, toward his position. Largo knelt amongst the rocks, braced himself, pulled back the hammer with an audible metallic click and sighted in on the pursuing Gor. He was about to shoot when a mound of snow erupted and a huge snow covered creature reared up just below and in front of his position and charged him with long wicked claws and gaping fang filled maw as it made a terrible roar.

The beast was much to close and if Largo turned to run he would surely be dead before he took a single step. Largo ducked the first swing of the claws and was leaning back when he shoved the barrel of his weapon into the creature’s mouth and pulled the trigger all the while hoping that the powder was still dry and the percussion cap had not fallen off. The gun went off with a muffled explosion and Largo with the fanged scarred gun still in his hands was thrown to the ground from the recoil since he was not braced. Flat on his back he expected to see the creature jump up and shred his body but when Largo stood he saw that the back of the creatures head had exploded in a cloud of blood, bone, and fur. Largo took no further notice but wondered if it was a Yeti as he quickly looked into the valley as he opened his cartridge box grabbed a paper wrapped cartridge, bit the end off and poured the powder down the barrel then shoved the paper wrapped slug down the barrel. With his ramrod he quickly shoved the round all the way down tapping in snugly into place as he shoved the ramrod in the snow beside him as he placed a percussion cap onto the firing port. All done in about fifteen or twenty heartbeats as he leaned over the now dead body using it as a warm redoubt he took aim.

The Dum Gor were milling about looking for the source of the sound, all except the Umgi who was still running with three or four Gors chasing him. He sighted in on the closest Gor, and fired and quickly reloaded, aimed, fired, reloaded, aimed, and fired again. Now there was no doubt to the Dum Gor as to where the sound came from. The first shot had been muffled and obscured, but the next three shots they heard and clearly saw the spouts of flame and clouds of smoke rising from the mountainside, the three dead Gor only angered them further.

When Largo tried to load he saw that the bore was slightly fouled so he ran the rod up and down the length of the barrel shaking loose the buildup of powder residue then quickly loaded and fired at a Wargor who was bellowing out orders and pointing in his direction. As he loaded again he saw that he had only wounded the Wargor who was herding a group of about twenty or so Dum Gor up the mountain so he aimed and fired again at the closest racing Gor who was chasing the Umgi, the Gor fell to its knees tried to stand then fell forward. The quick thinking Umgi happened to be looking over his shoulder and seeing that the Gor had fallen turned ran back grabbed the Gor’s spears and shield and continued to run up the hillside toward the sound of gunfire.

The bore was fouled again, and Largo quickly loosened his trousers and urinated down the barrel and ran the ram rod again back and fourth in the barrel and then dumped the contents into the snow. Quickly running a dry patch down the barrel he reloaded again. Then Largo heard a loud rumble, turning to look at what had caused it and saw the snow laden mountain to the right of him begin to sag and then with hardly another sound the whole hillside slid away in a roaring wall of snow, snapping trees and boulders sweeping down narrowly missing the Umgi but not the twenty astounded pursuing Gors who disappeared in a wave of billowing white snow.

Largo slowly loaded again as he surveyed the carnage left in the wake of the avalanche. It was deadly quiet as both he, the running Umgi and the Dum Gors looked up at the mountains surrounding the narrow valley. The main Dum Gor herd were still upon the valley floor were regrouping under the direction of the Bray-Shaman but it was only a matter of time before either he ran out of ammunition or the Dum Gors managed to force their way through the snow to attack him. He had no idea where the other Umgi were, somewhere down below in the valley more than likely dead since he had lost sight of them as well as the escaped Umgi who was still below him coming up the trail. As he aimed into the milling crowd of Dum Gors around the rock he sighted in on the Shaman and fired only to see a Gor inadvertently step in front of the Shaman and fall to the ground dead.

His firing caused another but smaller avalanche on his far left that slid off the mountain cliff falling in a thunderclap upon the valley floor that made a strange cracking noise. Largo looked behind and above him and saw the heavy buildup of snow upon the mountain and shuddered, death by Dum Gor or death by snow and decided he would take his chances with the snow as began loading again and resumed picking out the closest targets as he aimed, fired, loaded, aimed, and fired; killing or wounding each time he shot. Largo was so focused on the Dum Gor in the valley he almost did not see the eight Ungor come charging up the sloop across the avalanche debris field and quickly shifted his aim. The barrel was getting hotter and he became aware he might have to let it cool down soon or the next time he tried to pour the powder charge down it was ignite and flash back in his face if he was not careful.

That was when he heard a loud crackling sound that pulled his eyes toward the far valley wall as nearly half the mountains snowfield started shifting. Then a crack seemed to slowly stretch across the face of the snow and icepack above the valley and slowly widen. Ever so slowly the avalanche picked up speed and then it came crashing down the mountainside snapping giant sized trees, uprooting boulders and plunging over the cliff cascading down upon the cowering Dum Gor in the valley floor burying them. No sooner had the avalanche hit the valley floor, than the floor of the valley began to heave and buckle, large cracks began appearing in the snow and then huge sections of the valley floor began to lift and those Dum Gor that were not buried slid into the cracks and that was when Largo realized that it was not a valley but a frozen over fjord. Floating islands of ice became unstable rafts as the Dum Gor tried to keep from falling in but many just capsized and they slid off into the freezing water never to be seen again as the fjord was now filled with floating islands of ice.

Wrenching his attention away from the devastation his firing had wrought he saw that not all the Dum Gor were on the ice, some were along the shore and they survived and they spread out and were now charging up the slope toward him. Once again he began the firing range drill, of load, aim, fire, load, aim, fare as fast as he could. Not only was his gun getting hotter it was beginning to foul again and it was taking much longer to reload as he forced the round down the barrel with his ramrod and that was the least of his concern as he began to run low on pre-made ammunition and would have to start using his powder horn.

He knew now if not for the deep snow, the fortunate avalanche, and the steep slope the Dum Gor would have overrun his position right after his first shot. They were closer now, he fired and when he tried to reload the ramrod became jammed in the barrel and he could not ram it down or pull it out. He reached into his cloak and pulled the two hand guns that he took from the armory and he rose to fire over the dead Yeti when a spear came from off to his left striking the Ungor in the center of the chest, killing it. Largo yelled out “Thanks,” in Norsca Umgi as he shifted his aim and fired, hitting an Ungor in the throat. He dropped the now empty gun and pulled his battleaxe. Then another spear took another Ungor and Largo shifted and fired at the next Gor who he only wounded and it still came at a run. The wounded Gor leaped over the body of the Yeti and Largo was poised and ready as he swung his axe with both hands nearly cutting the Gor in half as it dropped at his feet.

Looking toward his next opponent Largo felt no pain, just the solid hit in the middle of his back as if someone had thrown a stone. No pain, yet his legs were no longer his own and he sprawled face-down into the damp snow. He clawed at the snow, struggling to rise, his legs would not obey him. He reached behind his back to finger the spear buried in his back. He felt something rising in his throat.

Then there was a painful grasp on his arm and he was turned over. The spear snapped and sent a lance of pain clear through him, transfixing sternum and spine. He cried out and closed his eyes against the pain. When he opened them again, blinking through the mist of tears he was surprised to see not the face of an Umgi but that of a black hair, chaos tattooed Kurgan Marauder holding a Gor shield in one hand and a knife in the other. The Marauder smiled said “Thanks” when he looked down at Largo, then he leaned over and with his knife reaching out to cut Largo’s throat. As Marauder did so Largo was dimly aware of the Marauder head disappearing in a cloud of red mist, as he to faded into darkness.

*


(to be continued)

#62 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 10:09 AM

Great! A fine description of the loading process of a handgun!
And now we now that norse maurauders are not to be trusted!

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#63 Skull Krusher

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 03:51 AM

Thanks for the comment about loading and shooting black powder guns. I am a member of a Amercian Civil War Reenactment group that portrays both Union and Confederate soldiers (infantry, artillery and cavalr - 1861-1865) and a Napoleonic Reenactment Group (21st Ligne). I have used extensivly Muzzle loading Springfields but prefer my 45-70 Sharps carbine which is blackpowder as well.


Kraka Drak - Part Fifty Three

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Belegar “Dalvarag” Finnsnev who had point raised his left fist and everyone stopped moving. All seven Dawi stood motionless except for their eyes which searched the surrounding terrain for what alerted the Old Wolf. Then Belegar raised fist became two fingers as he pointed to their front down the faint trail left by Dargo that was slowly being filled my falling snow. If not for the faint gun shot they heard earlier they would not be sure of their direction. Morik reached forward and tapped the Drak-Ranger in front of him who turned his head and nodded when he saw that Morik wanted him to moved to the side and parallel trail they were following and set up for an ambush. Morik then did the same to the Dawi immediately behind him motioning him to go the opposite side of the trail and do the same. Those that were left in the trail knelt down insuring their white fur bear cloaks covered their bodies and waited. To the casual observer the Drak-Rangers looked like lumps of snow covered brush along side a path. They did not have long to wait, perhaps a quarter candle-mark before they heard soft guttural braying sounds.

Only Brokk seemed to be impatient, not used to stalking quietly through the mountains and when he heard the Dum Gors he pulled the hammer back and waited. Morik whispered softly, “You fire that hand-gun I will shove it where the sun never shines!” and Brokk lowered the hammer back down physically shaking not from the cold but from the implied threat because he knew Morik’s reputation. So he too waited but not for long as two shapes emerged out of the blowing snow, too tall to be Dawi and too short to be Dum Gronti the Old Wolf said to himself, just as a Gor and a Ungor came sniffing the back-trail Largo left, a trail that eventually lead directly to one of the hidden entrances of the Ungdrin.

The Gor lead the way, but it had stopped and kept sniffing the air but thankfully there was no wind just the fall of snow. The Ungor must have questioned the Gor of what was wrong at least that is what Belegar surmised and even after four decades of stalking, fighting, and killing the Dum Gor he still was unable to understand their primitive language. The only time anyone understood them was when they smoke guttural Umgi common speech and that was near impossible to understand anyway. But still the goat-headed Gor kept turning in a circle trying to sniff out what had disturbed its senses. Finally with a shrug it stepped forward followed by the Ungor. They had taken about ten steps and were just past Belegar when the Old Wolf rose up behind the Ungor. Coming up out of the snow like a great white wolf and swung his keen double bladed battle axe across the unprotected tendons hamstringing both of the Ungor’s legs as the Ungor fell the follow through swing cleaved through the Ungor’s neck. The Gor turned at the sound of the Ungors guttural gasp of pain and as it did three quarrels impacted, one in the sternum, one through the side piercing both kidneys, and the last hit it in the bony part of the forehead glancing off but leaving a deep furrow as wide and as deep as a Dawi thumb. They died with hardly a sound and Morik looked to Brokk to make sure he understood why his noisy handgun was totally unnecessary.

As Belegar checked the bodies he removed two small knives, of Aeslings forging and showed them to Morik. “Lord Drazhgrund will not like this, nor the chieftain of the Aeslings. It appears we have a Beast Horde getting large enough to raid our Dawikoni allies.” Belegar, kept them for proof, thinking maybe the Aeslings will know what happened to their clansman. “Retrieve your quarrels if you can, break their weapons, move the bodies off the trail, and move out.” Morik ordered. Just as soon as they had left they heard three quick shots echo amongst the mountain tops and this time they were louder which meant they were closer and as they went as fast as they could then they heard more shooting and the what only could be the sound of an avalanche was so recognizable to many Drak-Rangers who spent many days patrolling the snow laden mountains of Norsca. They began to run along the visible trail left by Largo.

Belegar's running became an all out charge and the reason became apparent as they began to smell gun smoke and see a haze of smoke that hung just over the other side of the ridge they were on plus the guttural sounds of Dum Gor. Then Morik and the rest of the party crested the last rise, and they saw the Old Wolf who had point in one fluid motion without stopping; shot, drop his quarrel, pull out his battleaxe and charge over the ridge roaring out a challenge. The rest followed.


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Edited by Skull Krusher, 15 January 2008 - 02:53 AM.


#64 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 11:08 AM

Great piece! I have always loved rangers, and these norse rangers rule!

I really like the different points of vieuw from which the story is writen.

As always, have an ale, and keep it comming!

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#65 Skull Krusher

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:49 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Fifty Four

They gathered in the audience chamber upon the Kings orders. Not the largest audience chambers that the whole Kraka could have fit into but one of the smaller ones designed to reflect the tone or mood of what was being said. They met in the same came chamber Queen Bjornhild used upon the death of the King, her father. It was called the martial chamber because of its décor, captured enemy war banners, icons, and weapons that were hung upon the wall behind the throne and the chamber walls were carved with scenes of Dawi martial prowess on the field of battle. At the bottom of the four steps leading to the throne upon which Thorin sat stood two Zunthrum’s of Grungni. Along the side walls stood the King’s bodyguards, the Drak-Hammers who stood stoic but ever watchful. Sitting to the right beside the King were his two eldest, Kalea and Kettra and behind them stood Kari to ensure they stayed quiet and listened for their father had begun including them in certain audience chamber meetings to learn leadership and governance at first hand. Lord Drazhgrund stood beside his king but one step lower off to his right, to the king’s left stood Gorril the Loremaster and the Guild-master of the Miner’s Guild and Drong Norgrimson, Thane of the Drak-Ironbreakers who had no idea why they were called to witness what was to be spoken but they waited patiently.

Karugromthi Heganbor Kladfist of Clan Rhyn of the Miners Guild did not have long to wait as the Doorward of Thorin opened the doors to the audience chamber for those who were to come before the king, They were met by the King’s Herald who led them to the foot of the throne. The King’s Herald raised his staff and hit the floor three times.

The echoes of the floor strikes were still ringing when he spoke. “Brokk, son of Stromni of Shieldbreaker Clan, Thane of the Drak-Thunders; Morik, son of Ragni of Clan Oakenstave, second Thane of the Drak-Rangers, and Groth, son of Cranneg of Clan Durazklad, Thane of the King’s Drak-Rangers.”

Lord Groth known as Mhornar Stalker to many of his Drak-Rangers stepped forward bowed to his kinsman upon the throne and spoke. “Majesty, the thane of the detachment of Drak-Rangers comes with fell tidings.” Groth had already spoken privately with Lord Drazhgrund and he was sure that what was spoken here the King already knew. King Thorin frowned as he looked down upon them and saw not his kinsman but one of his trusted Dawi thanes responsible for the well being of the hold. He nodded for Lord Groth to continue. “Largo Khazadson is dead and however much Thane Brokk regrets the death of one of his Drak-Thunders, his untimely death is to Kraka Drak’s advantage, the three other Dawi holds, and Norsca itself.” Groth state bluntly.

“Lord Groth, kinsman, no one regrets the death of one of our own more than my self. I wish to hear how he died, and perhaps you can explain the advantage,” King Thorin stated as Lord Groth nodded.

Lord Groth turned to Morik who stepped forward speaking; “King Thorin, even the mightiest of Dawi hero’s can be slain, and Drak-Thunder Largo Khazadson was slain by Umgi treachery not by the Dum Gor and he lived long enough to warn us of an unknown Herdstone and the Dum Gor encampment.” Kalea made a soft mournful sound that the King heard, and he too felt sorrow but would not show it here, but later. He turned his head just enough to see Kari’s hand resting on his daughter’s shoulder and knew that there would be no further outbreak though the rest of the chamber heard nothing, or maybe perhaps Drazhgrund did since he noticed him flinch at the sound.

Morik oblivious to the byplay upon the throne continued. “Largo was barely alive when we arrived but sorely wounded. As Belegar killed Largo’s slayer we charged into a group of Dum Gor that was charging up out of the valley. We were out numbered four to one but they came at us piece meal and the six of us volley fired with our quarrels into them as they charged up a rough avalanche debris filled slope that hindered them in forming into any kind of unified front.” The King and the others nodded as they pictured in their mind what was being said and even Kari with one campaign under her belt clearly understood the implications of what was said and not said, but not her two young charges. “After that first volley it was mainly axe work as we waited for them. They were mainly Ungors, your Majesty with no one to lead them. When they did bunch up we volley fired into them again. We stood in the only usable path out of the valley since the other trails were blocked by boulders and trees brought down by an earlier avalanche so they continued to charge us and we fought and killed them.”

Lord Drazhgrund raised his hand to catch Morik attention as he turned to his King who nodded. “Do you have a question Lord Drazhgrund?”

“Yes your Majesty,” and he turned to Morik. “You said that the six of you volley fired, I was under the assumption that there were seven of you…”

“Yes, there were seven of us, but I ordered Thane Brokk to tend to his Drak-Thunder and to not fire his rifle.” Morik answered.

“Why is that, surely one more weapon firing would have been to your advantage.” King Thorin asked.

“Your Majesty, had there been an entire unit of Drak-Thunders available to me I would have still told them to stand down, not to fire unless the six Drak-Rangers perished.” Morik vehemently stated.

“Why?” The King asked wondering why one of his Thanes would imperil his life.

But it was Thane Brokk who answered. “Your Majesty. Knowing what I know now I would totally agree with Lord Morik decision.” Both Drazhgrund and the King nodded. “If I had fired the mountain above us could or would have come down upon us. It was the only area of the mountain that did not have an avalanche. Nay my King, Largo Khazadson proved the worth of a Krupp rifle, but not its battlefield reliability in treacherous, mountainous winter conditions where the sound of just one rifle could bring down a mountain of snow upon your own position. Drak-Thunders are better suited for non-winter conditions where the bitter cold does not hamper the reliability of the rifle. Cold weather causes the grease we use to lubricate the rifle to jam which is why Largo’s rifle was found beside him with a ramrod stuck in the barrel.”

“Thane Brokk, Lord Morik and my self as well as one other in this room have seen the effectiveness of a unit of Thunders who are well supported. The King,” and Drazhgrund nodded to Thorin who nodded back, “and I see a valid use for Thunders in Kraka Drak’s throng but in a support role. Now can you tell us when the Drak-Thunder died and just how many Dum Gor did Largo Khazadson kill?”

Both Brokk and Morik looked at each other and it was Morik who spoke. “As we fought remnants of the herd Largo died.”

Thane Brokk clarified what Morik said by saying, “Lord Drazhgrund, your majesty. Largo lived long enough to tell me that he had thought the Umgi were captured Dawikoni from the Aeslings Clans, and then he apologized for breaking your trust, and hoped that his King would not think ill of him, that he could not run, that he was a King’s Drak-Hammer.” Thane Brokk said was grief in his voice. Both Kalea and Kettra pulled the cowls of their cloaks up over their head and faced away, Kalea held them both in her arms as they sat in front of her as the audience continued. The king reached beside him and patted Kalea on the shoulder, feeling her silent sobs, as he motioned for them to continue.

“What Largo Khazadson discovered was a Herdstone and a small encampment of Dum Gor. Fortunately in was a small Dum Gor Herd, there were no Drakogre, Centigors, Doombulls, Minotaur, or Bestigor.” Shaking his head Morik thought how lucky the rescue party was that they had not been ambushed by a full herd as he continued. “After Largo died, we searched the valley floor for any living Dum Gor. Upon that slope that he defended by himself, unsupported. Upon the slope we counted some twenty dead Ungor, and Gor with bullet wounds, three with spears in them, killed by the Dum Marauder we assume. We found some severely wounded and these were quickly dispatched. If Largo had been on flat ground I doubt whether he would have killed two or three before being overrun. But he had the high ground, above rough terrain, made even worse by the snow and the avalanches.” The king and the rest of the Dawi nodded in agreement as Morik went on.

“When we managed to get to the shores of the fjord we discovered one of the early avalanches had swept through the makeshift pens that held all the war-hounds killing them as well as most of the Foe-renders. The encampment was nothing more than three or four large bonfires with a mass of animal skins hastily sewn together and attached to the tree branches and sticks to form rude shelters from the wind and snows. There were a few dead Foe-renders, Gors and Ungors around these fires, all dead from rifle fire. There were several dead Dum Marauders on spits over the fires not to mention several dead elk all waiting to be eaten. The camp was disgusting”

“What of the Herdstone?” King Thorin asked shifting the topic away from the encampment.

“We could not safely get to it maybe in a week or two after the cracks in the ice have closed and the fjord refreezes. But from what little we could observe, and from reading those survey reports from the Drak-Varr Rangers and our Dawikoni allies, this is the same pillar of rock they reported. Around the stone were many dead Dum Gor, whether from Largo’s rifle fire or from freezing after be soaked by the icy cold waters I can not say. There were many dead! The avalanches that slid off the mountains above the fjord killed over three quarters of the herd. Largo killed perhaps thirty or thirty five Dum Gors with his rifle and two with his axe before being struck down from behind by what he thought was a Dawikoni he was saving.”

There was a long silence and during all this time as he stood silently listening, glad he was a miner deep within the mountain of Kraka Drak and Heganbor Kladfist of Clan Rhyn of the Miners Guild still wondered why he was here.

“How do you propose to watch this valley to ensure no more Dum Gor use it as a sacred place of worship and as a base of operations?” Drazhgrund asked.

Lord Groth had been silent for some time and spoke up. “Your majesty, if I may be so bold. The Drak-Rangers will patrol this valley. It is a little outside our normal patrol range during the winter but it can easily be done. In the meantime I suggest that we mount a spring time campaign to the valley. With the Miners Guilds help they and the Drak-Varr Rangers can use your majesties ships to sail up the fjord with the miners and their equipment and destroy the Herdstone. At low tide holes can be drilled into the Herdstone. When it has been sufficiently riddled with drill holes the Miners can pack it with black powder and blow it up at a safe distance. Once the sacred Herdstone is gone the Dum Gor will have no reason to gather. Also from what Morik has said the valley has a very rich seam of iron ore in it that he discovered in one of the avalanche paths. I would think our Miners Guild could with your majesties permission extend the Ungdrin to the valley thus opening up another Grung or mine and Kazad or fort in the process.”

Now Heganbor and everyone else knew the advantage that had come from Largo Khazadson’s death and he knew the reason for his presence and wondered how much of the profits from the iron ore mine the Guild would have to share with Morik and Clan Oakenstave or with the King’s Drak-Rangers. The Drak-Rangers belonged to the king and clan Oakenstave has a long history of close ties with the King’s own Clan Durazklad. A new Kazad with a connecting new drin linking the valley to the Ungdrin would keep the entire guild employed for many hundreds if not thousands of years just making the drin. As he stood there thinking to himself he missed what the king had said something about a burial.

“We skinned the Yeti your majesty which will outfit nearly a full rank of Drak-Rangers, we also brought back the skull to be boiled and cleaned and then it will be placed a top Largo’s tomb along with his rifle within the Drak-Thunder burial chambers. He will be the first Drak-Thunder entombed and his accomplishments will be recorded in the archives.” Thane Brokk said solemnly and then all was quiet. After many moments King Thorin signaled that the audience was over and as Heganbor, Brokk, Morik, and Groth filed out, King Thorin called for Karugromthi Heganbor and Drong Norgrimson, Thane of the Drak-Ironbreakers to stay behind.

When the doors shut, the King’s Herald and Drak-Hammer bodyguards carried a table and four chairs to the bottom of the throne. Lord Drazhgrund unrolled a large map of the Ungdrin where the Wutroth Grove exit door was and the fjord Herdstone. As the King, Drazhgrund, Heganbor, and Drong sat down to discuss plans for a new section of the Ungdrin, Kari with a nod from Drazhgrund lead the two princesses back to the royal chambers as their customary bodyguard formed around them leading the way.

* * *

Edited by Skull Krusher, 18 January 2008 - 02:25 AM.


#66 Skull Krusher

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 02:31 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Fifty Five

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It was dark, deep mine dark as he lay there. He no longer felt the penetrating pain only the soothing stillness of being wrapped in the arms of a rocky warm womb, the birthplace of his race. Then he heard a noise or perhaps felt it deep within his body, it was not his heart beat but the sounds of hundreds of iron shod boots marching in perfect cadence, then the clarion call that seemed to pierce the darkness with gray light. The warrior sat up and looked around and saw nothing yet still the clarion call of a horn could be heard closer and this time the horn’s call pulled aside the darkness and a pale grayish light illuminated the eternal darkness and he could see shapes marching toward him the cadence of their march beat inside him like his own heart. He absently rubbed his chest as if remembering a pain.

Then he heard another sound, the shuffling of feet and the creaking of poorly aligned wheels which reminded him of the corpse carts being pushed or pulled by the clerics of Morr who came and picked up the dead off the streets of the Empire cities for disposal. But he was not in the Empire or in the city of Nuln instead he was in Norsca, lying dead upon some deserted mountainside. Or was he? Was he in Norsca? Was he dead? He thought to himself as he slowly stood facing the oncoming shadowy shapes.

The warrior watched as a shapeless figure stepped away from his cart and in the gray gloom of darkness the warrior knew that Morr stood before him without saying a word his silence wrapped in the stench of decayed corrupted flesh. Turning his head away from Morr he saw two Dawi approach, the sound of their iron shod boots rang loudly. Behind them stood a unit of Dawi Clan warrior’s wrapped in shadows, their banner held high, full of hope and resolve. Then the two Dawi stopped, nodded to Morr, and turned to him.

The warrior studied them. One was fully armed with a shield and great weapon slung across his back, another great weapon held casually in one hand and a full tankard in the other. His battle scarred gromril armor matched those of his unit behind them. The other Dawi was hidden by his full length black cloak and cowl. Then the Dawi pulled his cowl off his head and the cloak fell open and the warrior saw that even the armor was black, black iron that matched his jet black hair and beard that was streaked with grey. In his right hand he carried a great-rune axe and across the face of the blade the rune Zharr-vengrym blazed with a deadly light. Then the Dawi spoke.

“You are at the crossroads, Largo Khazadson.” Said Gazul, Lord of the Underearth his voice rumbled like a deep earthquake.

It was only then that Largo knew without a doubt that he was not dreaming, or in a healing trance, but truly dead and Morr gestured to the cart and Largo was reminded of a crude joke about why Dawi never ride. That the only time a Dawi did not travel on his feet was when he arrived into this world and when he left it and now Largo new the truth of it. Largo knew he was dead but he rejected Morr, he turned his back on death and faced Gazul, the Ancestor God, Lord of the Underearth, protector of the dead.

“You have a choice. Both lead eventually to the halls of our ancestors,” then he looked toward the Morr and the cart. “One choice a more direct route than the other,” and then he looked toward the Dawi warriors, “a longer route, that will bring advantages to all even though you will long for peace which you will eventually receive but in great measure.”

Largo thought of both choices and still he kept his back toward Morr. “Are they,” and he pointed to the warriors, “are they the Stone and Steel?”

The Ancestor God nodded and he pulled his cloak up upon his head and closed his cloak. Largo remembered the discussions in the Rusty Harpoon about battlefield myths and knew that there was but one real choice, and he stepped toward the leader of the Dawi warriors who handed him the great weapon. Largo slung it across his shoulders. Then he was handed a full tankard of ale which Largo accepted and tilted it back and drank till it emptied. They turned and joined the unit, and the ranks opened up to receive him warmly. Once joined the Stone and Steel marched away, their cadence rocking the mountains, their clarion call was heard faintly by Thane Brokk as Largo Khazadson breathed his last.

* * *


#67 Torendil Zharrgrund

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 12:26 PM

Two fantastic additions here!

It's really great that Largo has choice between Morr and Gazul!

Have you thought of this yourself or is it documented fluff that a dead dawi can join Gazul's warriors?

As Always, keep them comming!

Torendil Zharrgrund

#68 Skull Krusher

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 02:05 AM

No I invented the idea of the Stone and Steel unit and the idea of being given a choice between Morr and Gazul seemed sort of logical. One a quick more disturbing way to the hall of our ancestors or the Stone and Steel option.


Kraka Drak - Part Fifty Six

* * *


In the middle of the night watch they silently slipped out of their beds and clan house, crept past the sleepy guards, unlocked a barred doorway and disappeared. They walked along narrow tunnels taking note of the carved Khazalid and Aldrunr runes at each intersection and doorway they came to. They saw and heard no one for narrow rectangular shaped tunnels were mainly used only by the Endrinkuli who maintained the numerous Kuchungs or water-pumps that ensured that the hold stay dry and directed all the water to numerous underground reservoirs to be used by the clan homes, shops, and forges of the capital. Most other Dawi hardly ever used the tunnels unless they were in an extreme hurry and wanted to take a short cut. But most avoided the service tunnels not that they were dangerous, they were not but it was easy to get confused and lost amidst the maze of service tunnels that bisected the main boulevards, streets, and lanes that made up any Dawi hold. Then there were the nearly unlimited stairways that lead up and down from one level of the hold to the next. All these byways used by the Endrinkuli are all behind locked grates, hatches, bars, and doors and without keys an individual either could not enter or get trapped on the wrong side of a locked door. It was far easer to use the broad well lit public thoroughfares. However the two were armed with a Kron of maps, a set of master keys they had borrowed, and the innate ability of all Dawi of knowing where they are underground. If they had known just how much trouble they were going to cause they might have turned back, but as children are woe to do they went forward.

They had been in the tunnels for over six marks as they slowly moved further and further away from the main region of the hold populated by the various clans and guild houses. “We could have taken the Langk Khaz we would be there by now,” the younger by nearly four years of the two said irritability looking towards the next set of glowing lights in the distance. “And we surely did not need to come fully armed.”

“I could just see us walking down the Langk Khaz by ourselves. One of ole Thane Azulfist’s Ironbreakers or worse still one of Lord Skull Krusher’s Langktrommi would be escorting us back and then the Drak-Hammers would never let us out of their sight. Bronn, where is your sense of adventure? We both want to see the Drakk-Grund Thryng before anyone else.” His older thirteen year old sister, Kalea stated sardonically all the while wondering if she should have brought Hagar along instead of Bronn as she studied the Kron.

“There should be a set winding stairs going up,” Kalea commented showing him the Khazalid and Aldrunr runes indicating stairs. They continued on until they came to a large four way Irkul or vault. They paused as they matched the runes to the book. To the right was a stairway leading down, to the left going up. The high vaulted ceiling had a number of engraved scenes that were hard to see in the pale lamp light but they finally found the correct key and unlocked the door little noticing the cold breeze that came down the stairs. It opened with a terrible screech that echoed through the tunnels. Bronn once again removed a small oil can from his pack and like they had done a few time before they oiled the hinges and opened and closed the door several times to work the oil into the hinges until there was no noise at all. Neither said a thing but both wondered when the last Endrinkuli had been this way and Kalea made a mental note to mention it to her father.

It was only after they had shut and locked the door that Kalea noticed the slight cold breeze on her face. They both surveyed the Kron to see if there was some ventilation shaft indicated but there was nothing. “How far do we climb” Bronn asked wonder if they should take a short rest to eat and drink as he looked at the beginning of the spiral stair case.

“Hmmmm,” Kalea said as she turned the pages till she found the right plate she was looking for. “About ten levels to the main Langk Khaz on that level that leads to the Drakk-Grund Thryng”

“But that is over 5,000 feet.” Bronn shouted at her as he sat down hard on the step. “I say we rest and eat.” As he began to shuck his small quarrel and backpack. Kalea sat beside him as they ate. A little while later they began their long trek up the winding stairs in the face of a growing icy wind as they pulled their wool cloaks tighter around them and the cowls over their head.

*


Kari was reading, within her quarters within the royal compound sitting next to the water garden nursing Alaric when Valma the Queen Mother entered followed by her daughter-in-law, Queen Vala. She started to lay Alaric in his day crib, but Valma motioned for her to sit and continue. Kari noted that both of them had a worried look. “What is wrong?” She asked fearing the answer was about Drazhgrund. “Is it Drazhgrund? Is he hurt?”

Valma reached out and placed her hand on Kari’s shoulder to reassure her. “Lord Drazhgrund is fine, Kari.” But still the worried look did not leave the two Queens. “Have you seen either Kalea or Bronn today?”

Queen Vala was on the edge of her seat, her knuckles white as they gripped the side of the chair and Kari held Alaric firmly to her breast as he suckled. Looking to both the Queens she shook her head no and suddenly realized it was fear that she felt from both of them. “No. Not since last night at the family dinner. Have you asked Kettra? Surely she would know where her twin is.” Kari commented with hope that they had at least done this.

Kalea’s and Bronn’s mother shook her heard before answering. “No, she does not. Kettra looked into her sister’s room when she did not show up for the escort to take them to weapons practice. Her weapons, armor, and pack are missing. She looked in on Bronn thinking they were together but his belongings were missing as well.” Vala answered, holding back the fear that something had happened to both her children and could not imagine anyone with a grudge against them.

Alaric was finished nursing, Kari burped him, and set him in his crib. “I will finish dressing and I will help look for them.” Kari told them. But the Queen Mother shook her head and then they all heard the Drak-Hammer guard open the door as Kettra, Hagar, and little Tarni came in the room escorted by Priestess Skornia who spoke. “The king has ordered that the heirs well stay here for the time being and that no one is allowed to leave the royal compound and that he has ordered a full scale search.” She stated stoically but wondered if there were perhaps Skaven assassins within the hold.

*


It began over millennia ago when a Dawi miner started to dig a hard rock mine in search of wealth and was forced to leave his pick which had become stuck in the cliff. Countless spring and summer storms rolling in from the Sea of Claws tore at the mountains of Norsca with wind and lightening. These bolts were drawn to the miner’s abandoned tool like a lode stone and the explosive force of nature achieved what the miner could not, an opening into the mountain. In time the crack with the help of water and ice turned into a small fissure that was further enlarged becoming a small cave by glacial ice that expanded and shrunk depending upon global warming. What the miner had started in his failed attempt was now an open wound that thrust deep into the heart of the granite mountain. As time passed the thin layer of rock that separated the outside world from the Dawi of Kraka Drak became weak and fractured. It was from this open wound, a thousand feet below Drakk Grund Thryng that Bronn and Kalea felt the icy wind of the outside world.

*


The noise was quiet loud coming through the closed door and it was near deafening and if the tension could some how be measured then the pale nervous Drak-Hammer standing guard outside would have stood away from the door for fear of being hit when it flew off its hinges. His fellow Drak-Hammers who were on duty when the King’s children disappeared had no such luxury of a door between them and the King’s wrath.

Inside, King Thorin’s rage had just reached the boiling point when the two Drak-Hammers made an excuse that young Dawi children should be in bed asleep instead of wandering around the hold in the middle of the night. The King who had been pacing back and forth in front of the two as he berated them for their lack of vigilance suddenly grabbed them both by their gorget slammed their heads together and with a mighty heave threw them towards the door.

Lord Drazhgrund looked to his King, his kinsman and knew that this was not enough and strode toward the two as they struggled to gain their feet. Drazhgrund jerked them to their feet and tore the golden Drak-Hammers icons from their armor, kicked open the door and pointed the way out. His grip on his great weapon turned his knuckles white. When they left he slammed the door shut, turned, and pointed his runic hammer at the Ironbreaker who was assigned to the royal compound. The Drak-Hammer outside the door watched his former companions walk away in a sense of gloom as they began stripping off their armor from their bodies until they were dressed only in trousers and boots carrying only their weapons as they disappeared around a corner that led to the small seldom used Bakraz Hall just to the right of the main Thryng of Grimnir.

“Where are your keys?” Drazhgrund glared almost on the verge of striking the Ironbreaker down as he noticed the key pouch that hung from his belt was decidedly flat. “And where is your Map Kron?” He added when he noticed the straps hung loose.

The Ironbreaker having just witnessed what happened knew there was nothing he could say in order to save himself. This was the second time in the last thirty days that a set of keys had been used by someone other than who they were assigned too. The last was the Drak-Thunder by the name of Largo and he was dead. Taking a deep breath perhaps his last he spoke, “Your Majesty,” then looked toward Drazhgrund, “Lord Drazhgrund, as soon as I noticed the keys and Kron were missing I informed my Thane, Drong Norgrimson. This was perhaps four marks before either Thane Drong or myself, were made aware that Princess Kalea, and Prince Bronn were missing. Thane Drong, my self, and four other Ironbreakers were inspecting the security of the tunnels around the royal clan house compound for infiltrators when word reached us that the heirs were missing. I take responsibility for the theft of my keys and Kron but I did not notice they were missing until after midnight.” Kallon son of Mundri of the Shieldwall Clan was wondering when the theft occurred and wondered if it could have been when he was in the water closet when he left his equipment hanging on the door as he used the facilities inside.

King Thorin stopped his pacing and was standing right in front of Kallon when he finished his report and stood there staring at him with a pensive look of frustration. He turned at looked at his clan’s Throngrink not trusting himself, wishing he could change the last 10 marks or so. Then Lord Drazhgrund spoke breaking the silence and Kallon feared the Karugromthi more than the King. “What did you and Thane Drong discoverer and where is the Thane?”

Kallon wished he was out searching and that Drong was here but spoke anyways; “I discovered that the main access to the service tunnels had been opened after I assumed the watch.”

“How can you be sure?” the king wanted to know and he still had not moved from in front of Kallon.

“Because, I inspected the doors around the compound prior to assuming the watch and I had left tell tales to let me know when a door has been opened. The tell tale for that door was gone. I checked with the Endrinkuli and they assured me that they had no one assigned for any emergency or routine maintenance in the area. When we went inside, and went further along we found another door had been opened. That was when Thane Drong called in a contingent of Endrinkuli and off duty Ironbreakers to search the tunnels for intruders. Later we received word from the royal compound that Bronn and Kalea were missing and we increased the size of the search parties.” Kallon finished reporting hoping that he had survived the interview with his honor intact.

King Thorin began to pace again but said nothing and finally he returned to his chair, sat, poured himself a tankard of ale and took a drink all the while thinking. Finally he spoke calmly. “Kallon, son of Mundri from what I understand you acted correctly. Return to your duties and send runners to inform Thane Drong I want reports of what he has found, and where he is searching. You may go.” Then King Thorin leaned back in his chair as he watch the Ironbreaker leave the room leaving only the King and Drazhgrund alone in the room. So lost in thought was he that he failed to notice that Drazhgrund stood before him.

“I should be joining those two former Drak-Hammers after all I am the Drak-Hammerer Lord-Thane.” Lord Drazhgrund said with a heavy sigh.

“Lord Drazhgrund, you were not standing watch at the Clan Gates! Nor were you the watch commander, nor the duty officer. Those watch officers report to you in the performance of their duties. If you so rashly followed those two, every single Drak-Hammer would follow your example and there would be no one left. Then where would I be, what do you think that action would do to Kraka Drak?” Thorin said to his Throngrink more sternly than he intended but continued on. “You are the one of four Karugromthi of Kraka Draka, the head of the Durazklad Clan and you can not be every where all the time. Not even you, my Lord Drazhgrund that is why you delegate and hold those responsible for the performance of their duties, I learned that from you.” King Thorin said hoping that he had turned him away from such a rash act. He stood and gestured for his Throngrink to follow him, “We must see to our wives and my mother, whom are harsher task maskers than either of us could ever be.” They both laughed half heartedly as they headed for Drazhgrund’s home surrounded by resolute Drak-Hammers.


*



(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 06 February 2008 - 06:18 AM.


#69 Skull Krusher

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 02:34 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Fifty Seven

Meanwhile eleven hundred feet below their goal the air was becoming colder and they began to see their breath. Kalea had lost count the number of times she had to exhort Bronn to continue. He had slipped several times on the slick stairs bruising his shins and knees and she was becoming worried that if they stopped rest to for any length of time he would stiffen and be unable to continue. They stayed warmer as they climbed the spiraling stairs. Another worry was the stairs; they were becoming icy where the moisture had gathered. They had to continue on Kalea reasoned they were much closer to the Thryng, warmth, and help than if they turned around and descended, much more dangerous going down slippery steps than up she quickly decided as she helped her younger brother by carrying most of the contents of his knapsack leaving him to carry his battleaxe that hung down beside his backpack and his small quarrel than was strapped down on the opposite side.

The higher they climbed the colder it became and with cold came the smell. As they approached the source, both Kalea and Bronn were appalled by what they saw. Both unconsciously drew their weapons, Bronn with his battleaxe held loosely as he loaded his small quarrel and Kalea with a warhammer in either hand. There had been a small Krunk or rock fall for there was loose Skree or rocks upon the stairs and it had come from a crack in the stair wall that was large enough for a small child like their little sister to crawl through. They carefully studied the steps on both sides of the crack, looking at the frost or light Wyr or snow that had blown in and thanked the Ancestor Gods for small favors that they saw no tracks leading into or out of the hole. But still they were weary for the source of the smell came from the hole.

“Can we slipped by?” Bronn whispered looking up at his sister who was two steps above him. She looked at the Skree and saw that is was not impassable just difficult and shrugged but then pulled the Kron from her knapsack and leafed through the plates looking for an answer then saw the symbol for an Und a watch post that had been carved into the mountain somewhere above them. There was a door indicated but also noted that the Und had not been used for some time. Not saying a word she pointed to the runes indicating the Und and pointed up.

“It is the only door indicated on the stairs other than the last door that opens onto the Langk Khaz prior to the Thryng.” Kalea started to whisper then quickly held up her hand warning him to be quiet. They had both heard something and it was not the wind and not Dawi.

*


King Thorin ordered that every available Drak-Ironbreaker, Endrinkuli, and Drak-Hammer not on sentry or guard duty be assigned to the search. Nearly every clan warrior from Durazklad as well as many from Oakenstave, were out searching the tunnels within Kraka Drak. It was a daunting task the Kings heirs had been missing for over eight candle marks before anyone knew they were missing, and could be anywhere. At least Thane Drong of the Ironbreakers and the Endrinkuli he had with him had picked up the trail but it was still a cold trail that seemed to be leading north west and upwards. What slowed them down was that once they found a door they had passed through they had to search in all directions until they found some trace of their passage and when they did the trail kept leading up, but to where. Drong had sent runners back to the royal compound informing them of his progress or lack of progress as the case may be so as to keep the royal wrath at bay as he searched. The searchers were redeployed in an upward search pattern each time they heard from the Ironbreaker’s Thane. Drong felt somewhat sorry for the Endrinkuli guild those responsible for the upkeep of many of the doors. Every time he had found a door that had been oiled by the King’s heirs it was a direct hit against the Endrinkuli who had not been keeping up on the maintenance. Then again it was his Ironbreakers who were responsible of patrolling the tunnel systems and any reports of damage to doors and tunnels them selves were to be reported to the Endrinkuli and the Miners Guild for quick repairs. There was enough trouble going around that he was sure that everyone would be splashed with it so as not to come out completely clean.

*


Kari had cornered Kettra and quietly taken her young kinsman aside on the pretense of asking her to help with Alaric. They talked quietly and then Kari mentioned that she was worried about how to keep track of Alaric when he began to crawl and then to walk, afraid that he might get hurt. She told Kettra that when parents worry, it sometimes shortens their life because it can bring on madness and death at an early age. Kari watched Kettra through barely closed eyes as Kettra looked to her mother and grandmother and saw the worry upon their faces. “Kettra, do you know where Kalea and Bronn are?” Kari asked softly. “You mother is worried and it has caused he eyes to become red.”

Kettra looked again at her mother, sucked in her lower lip and answered, “Maybe.”

Kalea reached over and touched Kettra’s arm gently. “Maybe what?” She pleaded.

Looking around to see if anyone was angry with her, Kettra spoke hesitantly. “Kalea said she wanted to see the Thryng.”

“What Thryng?” Kari quickly asked aware that the Queen Mother was listening.

“She wanted me to go with her, but I told her it was too far.” Kettra looked into Kari eyes. “She made me promise to not tell anyone she had left or where she was going.” Her voice almost broke into a sob aware the she could not break a promise and fearful about what worry was doing to her mother.

Kari perceived the dilemma. “Kettra” and her kinsman looked up fearful that Kari was angry with her. “Do you know where Bronn is? Did Kalea make you promise not to tell where Bronn went?” Kettra’s eyes widened when she saw a way out of her quandary.

“Bronn had been reading about the new Drakk-Grund Thryng in the archives. He said it was at long last completed. Neither, Kalea or I had heard about the Thryng. But he said that thousands of Dawi, through three and four generations of miners, Endrinkuli, stonemasons, smiths, jewel-smiths, artisans, and stone-carvers worked on the Thryng spending, and consecrating their full lives to it. Bronn took us to the archive and showed us the engineering and miners plans.” Kettra was very animated as she continued unaware that her father, the King and Lord Drazhgrund her clan’s Throngrink had entered the room and heard what she said. Lord Drazhgrund quietly asked his King to stay as he himself relayed the news about where to search then he returned to the room. Kettra was still speaking, saying, “We read that the Thryng was started nearly 1,000 years ago by King Mordin the 41st King of Kraka Draka, Lord Drazhgrund’s grandfather.” Then she reached out and touched Alaric and continued, “and Alaric’s great grandfather:” Kettra said with wonder in her eyes at the thought.

Once Kettra began speaking about the Thryng she wanted everyone to know about what she learned, and even Drazhgrund was proud of what she spoke of as she continued. “There is an entire mountain of granite that has been carved on both the inside and outside. There is even a report from some Drengi-Endrinkuli who flew over Norsca telling my grandfather, King Thorgard how well we had carved out the mountain. Kari how can Slayers fly? What is the Spirit of Grungni? He said the mountain looked like a giant runic war-hammer lying upon the mountain top, Grungni’s warhammer.” She was nearly breathless now in her recitation. “When Kalea heard that, Bronn began planning a trip to the Thryng. I hope they are all right!” Kettra said at last with a sob as Kari took her into her arms and held her tight as if she was her own child. Then her own mother, the Queen took her into her arms.

*


Long ago when she was young she had sought shelter and had discovered this cave high up on the mountainside reached only by a steep trail. She had fought and killed to keep it. The cave was close to the two legged rock creatures that lived far below as they scratched the dirt and tended their four legged creatures. She and her young from many seasons past had fed upon the rock creatures but of late they had become leery of her so she had taken to hunting the four legged creatures that lived with them. Days ago she had been hurt as she killed her last prey, a foolish rock creature that had strayed to far from its own hole as it searched for one of the lost four legged ones. She killed them both and carried and dragged their bodies to her lair to be eaten later.

Being wounded, and having just given birth to more young ones she tended to be short tempered and would strike out at the least disturbance that bothered her, or her young. Of late she thought she had heard strange noises coming from the small hole in the back of her lair where the faint smell of two legged rock creatures came from. The hole was not large enough for her to squeeze through so she kept an eye on it since she was worried that her young would wander into the hole while she was away hunting so she pushed the bones of her kill against the hole to block it.

She had been sleeping as her young nursed when she suddenly heard a noise and saw movement. Slowly, painfully she rose to her feet and limped over to the hole, her young mewing softly over being dislodged from her side. The smell of two legged was stronger, she was hungry, and would need food in order to continue to nurse so she watched patiently for the smell to get closer before striking.

*


Not far above, just outside the newly completed Drakk-Grund Thryng, the priest of Grimnir paced back and forth waiting for one of the Drak-Ironbreakers to return. As he walked past the locked door to the stairs that spiraled down into the heart of the Ankor of Kraka Drak he would reach out and yank hard on the door ring as if to find in unlocked. Finally the Drak-Ironbreaker arrived with four Drak-Hammers and an Endrinkuli who held a ring of keys. Matching the rune of the key with the rune on the door he quickly unlocked the door and the priest immediately opened it and entered and stopped short. There was a bitter cold breeze coming up the stairwell as well as a faint smell which boded ill for the Endrinkuli and Drak-Ironbreakers; the stairwell and tunnel had been breeched. Without a word he withdrew his great weapon, a runic double bladed axe and proceeded down the stairs followed by the others. As he did so one of the Drak-Hammers secured the door and then left to take word to the guild houses of the Endrinkuli, Miners, and Warriors as well as to his king.

*


Kalea and Bronn edged their way forward keeping as far away from the hole and the smell as possible but the loose Skree and the ice made their path difficult at best. Kalea breathed a sign of relief as she finally made her way past the hole never taking her eye from it or turning her back on it. She stood watching and waiting as Bronn made his way through the Skree and she sensed that something was watching them from beyond the hole. “Hurry Bronn” she whispered. Bronn looked up at his sister and his foot slipped on the loose Skree and ice and he went sprawling forward onto his stomach, his left arm out stretched still clutching his loaded quarrel.

*


She heard more noises coming from the hole but not from the two that she watched. She let the bigger of the two passed by and waited for the smaller prey. The one that smelled of fatigue, blood, and fear; and as it neared it fell forward closer to the hole. She let out a large roaring snarl and lunged at the hole her great paw bursting through the opening her claws hooking onto the wounded two legged rock creature dragging it closer as her body knocked loose stone down around her opening the hole a little bit more.

*


Coming down the stairs as fast as they could they began to smell something foul. Then they heard a terrible roar of a Norsca Wyr leopard and then the cry of a young Dawi in pain and then a clan battle cry. They would have run down the stairs taking two or three at a time but the stairs were becoming dangerously slippery so they moved as fast as they could.

*


Kalea felt the mounting tension and as she watched her brother fall she saw the stairwell wall buckle in, another minor Krunk and more loose Skree that fell to the stairs some bouncing far down the stairs she thought. But she was already in motion for she saw the furred leg and claws thrust threw the hole to attack her brother. Bronn was being dragged closer toward the hole. Ignoring the rocks she leaped down three stairs her left hammer already high over her head as she brought it down as hard as she could screaming “Durazklad” at the top of her lungs as she brought the other hammer down upon the beast.

The creature screamed in pain from the sudden attack and she loosed her hold upon her prey to try to attack her attacker and as she did so more rock came down widening the hole until her shoulder and head were in the hole.

Bronn rolled away, aware that his backpack had become shredded and that the creature’s claws had spread the links of his light armor and pierced his leather padded armor underneath leaving three furrows bloody furrows on his back. Leaning against the stairwell wall he tried to bring up his quarrel but his right arm was numb from the fall so he laid the quarrel across his right arm and took aim. Kalea was fighting the Wyr leopard for that was what is was now that he could see it and she was smashing it repeatedly with both hammers as she darted back and forth out of range of the claws all to aware that the hole was becoming bigger. The creature was hurt and it was in a fighting rage as it tried to get to both of them and all Kalea could do was fight and fight as if she was still on the Drak-Hammer training hall. As she darted back in the creature struck at her catching her cloak knocking her to the ground but not hurting her. Kalea shed her cloak and as she did so Bronn fired as the Wyr leopard lunged at her raking leather boots peeling a heal off but failing to drag her into hole as more rock fell from around the widening crack.

*


The priest and his party had just passed the Undi when one of their group slipped and fell down a number of steps breaking his leg. They left him there with the keys to open the old watch tower and continued on, all the while hearing a battle being raged below them between a Wyr leopard and the house of Durazklad. One of the Drak-Hammer pushed past the priest and bounded down the stairs in his rush to give aid for more than just the honor of the Drak-Hammers was at stake.

*


The bolt from Bronn's quarrel hit the rock just below the Wyr leopard’s head ricocheted up and penetrated deep into the creature’s neck. It pulled back its claws and tried to scratch at what had hit it. Clawing at its neck the Wyr leopard fell back into its own cave causing another rock to fall further widening the hole in the rock wall. Leaning against the stair wall Bronn could feel blood oozing down his back but he ignored the pain as best he could as he cocked and reloaded, Kalea stepped beside the hole and readied her attack again but all they heard was their own labored breathing and the ragged breath of the creature and then nothing, nothing but their own breath and soft mewing.

Kalea helped Bronn to stand as they hesitantly moved forward through the Krunk and Skree to peer into the cave. Kalea prodded the Wyr leopard with her hammer but the creature did not move. Nodding to Bronn she stepped into the cave took out her knife and cut the creature’s throat. Then she sat down on the leopard feeling its warmth and beckoned Bronn to enter as well for the creature was dead and as she sat there she saw the two small kittens whose eyes were not even open. She carried them over to the dead Wyr leopard and placed them upon the nipples so they could nurse one last time. When they were finished she picked them up and gave them to Bronn who wrapped them in his cloak.

Kalea walked way to examine the entrance of the cave and looked out and down into the wilds of Norsca, far below was the farmlands of the Dawi that she had seen from top of Mount Sjoktraken during last season’s class with Lord Drazhgrund. She shivered not from the cold but from the openness of Norsca and the world in general. She turned and walked back in and sat beside Bronn petting the kittens who had fallen asleep oblivious to the death of their mother.

*


The Drak-Hammer, Ulfar, son of Ragnison of the Stonefist Clan became aware of the lack of noise ahead of him but also that fact that the air was icy cold and that a fresh breeze was getting stronger. As he rounded a turn he suddenly stopped. Upon the steps lying tangled amongst the loose Skree and the Krunk was the Princess’s torn cloak, and part of a boot heel. Further on was a shredded backpack. There was blood everywhere. Upon the backpack, upon the cloak, the powdery white ice and snow was splattered with blood and the blood trail lead into the hole in the stairwell wall. As Ulfar continued on down the stairs the others caught up with him and he stopped and pointed at what he had found. There was silence as they stood there with heavy hearts and grief which was barely kept in check as they moved forward to seek Vengryn.

(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 03 February 2008 - 05:16 PM.


#70 Skull Krusher

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 05:13 PM

Kraka Draka - Part Fifty Eight

The King and Lord Drazhgrund returned to the audience chamber in the main hall to await further developments from the search parties. They had maps spread out upon the table and makers were placed to indicate where the searchers had been and had found nothing. Thus eliminating those areas to be searched again, with them were members of the various clans and guilds involved in the search. As they reviewed options two messengers came rushing in stopping just short of the table, both anxious to speak first.

“Your majesty…” they both spoke. King Thorin indicated one to hold then ordered the other to speak. “I come with messages from the Drakk-Grund Thryng level, sir, Kraka Drak has been breeched!” The messenger said breathlessly. “When the searchers opened the door to the stairwell leading down a foul animal stench was smelled and a cold icy breeze came rushing up the stairs.”

King Thorin quickly lay the map on the top of the table, “Show me where, quickly. King Thorin had no idea if his children had been captured by an invasion force and held hostage, or killed out right. All too aware that this threat, the threat to the Ankor of Kraka Draka and every Dawi living within was more important than the life of any one single Dawi much less than the lives of his children and his heart was in a knot as he thought of this new development.

The other messenger shoved his way to the table, “King Thorin, Thane Drong reports the same! When he opened the door to the stair leading upwards to the Drakk-Grund Thryng, we found that the door had been freshly oiled. Upon opening the chill icy wind blew through the open door bringing in a foul smell.” Lord Drazhgrund pulled another map out and laid it on the top of the table next to the other map and pointed out the door to the stairs. The same stairs had been breeched somewhere along its 5,000 feet between the two doors. Lord Drazhgrund pointed out the abandoned watch station and the only other door that lead into the spiral stairs.

King Thorin and Lord Drazhgrund looked at each other and at the maps and both saw the danger to the Ankor and they both nodded in agreement. “Sound the Drakk-Horns, sound the Call to Arms signal.” King Thorn commanded. It was better to be safe than sorry. Two Drak-Hammers went to the great hall where the two great Drakk horns were mounted. The horns that King Snorri, the first king had hollowed out, carved, and inlaid with gold and precious gems. Taking a huge breath they began blowing the horns, and the horns sounded for the first time in over thousands of years. Every one throughout the Ankor stood where they were in disbelief, dropping what they were doing when they heard the call to arms, the calling of the entire Karak to arms warning them all that the Karak had been breeched. “To Arms”

*


Throughout Kraka Drak the great Drakk-Horns sounded. The deep reverberating sound echoed throughout the entire Dawi capital from the lowest mines to the highest watchtowers a top Mount Sjoktraken. At first there was disbelief but then disbelief gave way to resolve as the horns continued to sound the call to arms as the entire hold went on an instant war-time-footing with little or no panic or fuss.

Through out the entire capital Endrinkuli and Drak-Ironbreakers began closing massive ten foot thick stone doors, locking and baring them into position thus blocking and securing Kraka Drak from further invasion. Only those halls and tunnels accessible by the Warriors Guild and the Drak-Ironbreakers were open so they can take full advantage of the interior lines of communication so as to send Dawi warriors to the embattle sections of the capital.

In all the clan compounds, females with small infants and children to young to hold and use a weapon affectively as well as the infirmed were ushered into secret well stocked halls and vaults by the armed Sisters of Valaya to await the all clear signal or even worse.

The inns, markets, bakeries, workshops of every conceivable kind, foundries, and forges closed their doors becoming instant small forts as their owners joined their clans and or guilds for the defense of the Karak.

The ships within the underground seaport of Sjoktraken loaded their weapons as the Drak-Varr Rangers mustered for battle as they prepared to patrol and defend the underground shipping canal from the Sea of Claws to the underground shipyard and port of Sjoktraken.

The miners mustered and began the issuance of blasting charges and steam drills.

Engineers assigned to the various war machines began checking preset targeting points and stocking ready ammunition close by.

The Warriors Guild, the largest guild began mustering its guild clansman; as armor was being strapped on, and weapons readied the thanes for the various Throng units waited for orders as they sent their units to pre planned defensive posts.

In the royal compound within the quarters of Lord Drazhgrund, Kari and the others heard the Drakk-Horns. Kari went into her room with her son, only to reappear a short time later fully dressed for battle, her son in her arms whom she gave to Kettra for safe keeping as she showed her kinsman into one of the well stocked secret chambers for them to take shelter. She shut the door ignoring the Queens commands to stay with them, as Kari turned away from the chambers she nodded at the priestess of Valaya who also disobeyed both the Queens demands and together, resolutely they girded themselves for battle.

Search parties became war parties as they secured the areas of the tunnels they were searching. All, except the two parties that had been at opposite ends of each other on the long spiral stairs. They continued on, for they knew where the breech was and they intended to throw themselves into that breech in a forlorn hope to stem the tide of the invasion to give the others a fighting chance to save Kraka Draka.

*


The Drak-Hammer, Ulfar Ragnison of the Stonefist Clan momentarily stood in silence with his companions their hearts heavy with grief which was barely kept in check as they moved forward to seek Vengryn. Moving cautiously forward they heard laughter coming from beyond the hole and Ulfar was astounded and overjoyed for he had heard that laughter on more than one occasion in the royal compound and as the five looked into the hole they heard the faint deep sounds of the Drakk-Horns.

Even Kalea and Bronn heard the faint sound of the great Drakk Horns and knew what the sound meant; they turned their heads towards the stairway, the source of that sound and they looked into the eyes of five astonished Dawi, who had come seeking vengeance but instead became their guardians once more and not their pall bearers.

*


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 24 July 2008 - 01:48 AM.


#71 Skull Krusher

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 05:16 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Fifty Nine

Seven days later. The Dawi of Kraka Draka had returned to their daily routine, some grumbled about the Call to Arms but for the main many were happy with the result. The fact that the entire population had turned out to protect the hold ready for a battle to save hearth and kin proved to themselves and their fellow Dawi that they were a force to be reckoned with. The fact that there really had been a breech and that the King had responded to it reaffirmed their belief that the Durazklad clan would protect and put the Ankor of Kraka Drak ahead of one of their owns safety instilled further loyalty to the King and the royal clan. The moral and the mood of Kraka Drak was good and this is what Lord Drazhgrund reported to his King and kinsman. But privately it was a whole different story.

“You realize Lord Drazhgrund, regardless of how the official history is written up about this incident, Dawi in the future will recall that Princess Kalea “Leopard Drengi” Valadottier with the help of her much younger brother, Prince Bronn “Deadeye” Thorinson single handedly prevented an invasion of Kraka Drak by slaying the invaders as they gain access to the Ankor,” stated Gorril the master Loremaster with more than just a hint of amusement in his voice. “By the way what have the healers said about Bronn’s wounds?”

Lord Drazhgrund sat there smoking his pipe, sending great clouds of smoke to the vaulted ceilings and took another drink from his tankard before answering. He looked at the Loremaster then answered. “The healers say that he has three claw wounds across his back that will be nothing more than scars that are healing just fine thanks to Kalea’s ministrations of cleaning the wounds and bandaging them. No wound fever!” He looked over at Kari who was sitting there with their son and he thought how fragile it could be for the innocent. “Did you know that the Wyr Leopard was a Dawi-killer?” Gorril knew but said nothing. “There were remains of six perhaps eight members of the Vorn Guild within the cave. The fact that the King’s children killed the leopard thus removing a grudge against the leopard will not go unnoticed by either the Vorn’s Guild-master or the King.” Drazhgrund admitted. “They succeeded where the hunters from the guild could not there will be compensation in one form or another.”

“The children were extremely lucky,” Gorril said softly as he shook his head. It had been many years since he had used his great weapon in battle, a runic mace that had been handed down from Loremaster to Loremaster; he was more comfortable with his archives though he often practiced with others upon the Warriors Guild training compound.

“Perhaps, but I think Drak-Hammer training had a lot to do with the fact that Kalea, had broken the Wyr Leopard’s shoulder, and cracked its skull, no small feet for a Dawi who has seen but fourteen winters.” Drazhgrund acknowledged with no amount of pride thinking back to that earlier conversation last year that Kalea wanted to be like Queen Bjornhild, known as “Chaos-Bane”, the queen of Kraka Draka. Perhaps he thought to himself, perhaps.

Gorril was about to leave when he sat back down. “I forgot to ask, do you have the Miners, Stonemasons, and Endrinkuli guilds reports?” King Thorin asked me if I had read them as of yet in order to put them into the official records. Lord Drazhgrund looked over at Kari who had been reading them earlier and indicated that they were in the book case next to the cabinet than contained their tabac pipes, tabac, tankards, and ale.. He retrieved it and sat back down.

As Drazhgrund handed Gorril the reports he gave him a brief summary. “Basically what the Ironbreakers report states is that the miners have began their work after the Vorn Guild and the Priests of Gazul came to remove the remains. The miners have removed all the loose stone and have begun carving out a proper entrance into the cave and a tunnel to the cliff face. The Stonemasons will in about twenty days begin smoothing out the walls, floor, and ceiling to match the rest of our tunnel systems and then begin putting in a proper Undi station with secure locking doors. The outside cliff face where the new watch station is located will be indistinguishable from the rest of the cliff. The stairwell wall will be reset with new stone blocks that will be interlocked and secured into place and two standard stone and steel bound doors will be set into the wall entrance.” Drazhgrund stated as he handed over the report taking another long breath on his pipe sending a circle of smoke to the ceiling.

Finally Gorril left and it was only after the door shut that Kari came over to sit next to him, taking his pipe away from him as she handed their son to him. Alaric lay in his lap, his tiny fist clutching a small golden warhammer that had been woven into his father’s beard. “He never did ask what King Thorin had to say to Kalea and Bronn.” Kari said as she filled her tankard and topped off her husbands.

“No, he did not. Nor did he ask what the king had to say to the Endrinkuli Guild master or the Thane of the Ironbreakers. One is clan business and will be recorded in our archives by or own clan Loremaster and none of his business despite being Kraka Drak’s Loremaster, and the other he will just have to speak to them about. I will not illuminate or display some other clan’s or guild’s dirty laundry for him.” But as he sat there drinking his ale he gave a fleeting thought toward the two former Drak-Hammers, nay slayers. Dawi psyche, emphasizing honor gave the two former Drak-Hammers not so much a choice as it is was atonement. For a Dawi who commits an act so dishonorable that he is disgraced, humiliated, or his clan disowns him then his only redemption is an honorable death against overwhelming odds. There were only a few such acts, such as theirs, their failure while being on watch being one of them. They were now without a clan, and he had heard that they were heading toward northern Kislev and Troll Country to find their doom or perhaps an honorable death. As the clan’s Throngrink he had gathered his clan’s elders together to discuss the results of the heir’s actions and a suitable punishment. Their own atonement would be a long time in coming and he truly hoped they learned from their foolishness. No, he would not display another guilds dirty laundry and he would certainly not discuss his own. He shuddered at the thought of being without honor, without the comfort of a clan and turned his attention to Alaric who lay sleeping in his arms and his wife who sat drinking at his side as they both looked into the flames of the fireplace.

* * *


#72 Skull Krusher

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 01:29 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty - "A tale of two slayers"

Skaldor Grondson felt nothing, nothing at all as he trudged through ankle deep snow that was the last snowfall before spring came to the land of Norsca. It had been six long months three of which he had spent in training with others of Bakraz Hall since he had left home; nay not his home he had lost all his friends, family, clan, guild and home; lost everything but more importantly he lost his honor when his king threw him and Hurgar Yannison across the throne room, then his Drak-Hammer lord had ripped the King’s Hammer icons from their armor, kicked the door open and pointed.

Hurgar was dead, his death at the crossroads did not come in a glorious fight against overwhelming enemy thus his redemption was denied. They had been attacked by a Wry Leopard and he stood by and watched as Hurgar fought the beast seeking his doom, watched as Hurgar died when the leopard’s claws ripped his comrade’s throat out spraying the snow covered ground in bright red blood. It was only then that he sprung to attack the leopard killing it. Hurgar, a seasoned warrior died to an overgrown house cat that even Princess Kalea could have killed.

At the thought of the princess his mood darkened further as he thought of his dishonor, - his and Hurgar’s failure to do their duty; to stand a taunt watch at the gates of the royal clan’s compound. He could recite the eleven thane orders for sentries in his sleep and to his shame and dishonor he knew he had violated number five, “To quit my post only when properly relieved,” and number eleven, “To be especially watchful at night and during the time of challenging, to challenge all individuals on or near his post, and allow no one to pass without proper authority or escort.” He and Hurgar, another veteran Drak-Hammer had stepped away from their post for a quick pint or two, allowing the heirs to come to harm without a proper escort, all for a pint. So great was their shame they went directly to the Bakraz Hall without saying farewell to their clan, they could not for they were for all intent and purposes already dead they had become Slayers.

Skaldor continued on, the cairn where Hurgar’s body was entombed was five days away and he gave little thought to Hurgar, though his haunting prophetic poem lay heavy on his mind.

A slayers destiny

The night is still and mute,
and the air is heavy with stagnant mists.
The trees stand dark and foreboding
in the deepest shadows of a moonless night.
There are two roads and four directions
that interconnect at the crossroads
upon which I stand.
Four paths that my feet will never tread upon,
four destinies never meant to be mine.
For as I stand gazing upon the roads
that lead to the futures promised redemption,
I lay buried within ground unmarked and forgotten.
Though I gaze with longing to the future,
I will never step into that realm,
for I am naught but the remnant memory
of a tragic life and a bleak death
buried and forgotten beneath
the crossroads.


Skaldor had made sure that Hurgar’s grave was not unmarked for he had toiled nearly three days shaping the stones with a crudely made stone chisel as he built the cairn to keep the wild beast out. Then he simply carved Hurgar’s name upon the capstone and marched away. Hurgar was gone but the poem remained as he searched the surrounding terrain for the Dum-Trolls that the Kraka Ravnsvake rangers had spoken about as he shared their fire and food two nights back. Upon parting the thane had told Skaldor about a missing Ranger patrol and then had given him a heavy flask of lamp oil and a general idea of the kind of territory the Trolls hunted for food. The rangers knew that he was newly shamed, a new Slayer because older Slayers were stern laconic individuals covered with fearful scars from their encounters and Skaldor’s skin was covered only in new bright green tattoos favored by Kraka Drak. The last conversation between the Thane and Skaldor was that Kraka Ravnsvake would send word to Kraka Drak where to find Hurgar Yannison’s remains.

*


There were times when Skaldor wished he was safe within the Drak-Hammer compound, but only those that were alive could ever be safe, those who feared death. But he forfeited that luxury when he lost his honor; and slayers never needed to feel safe on the contrary they craved the chance of death and the thought of his former life he pushed further and further back into his mind till it was no more than an obscure faded illusion. What occupied his ever waking thoughts and soundless sleep was redemption through death. So Skaldor was ever alert for the signs, sounds, and the smell of death; Dum River Trolls. He sought these hideous deformed beasts who dwelt along the Dumaraz River that divided Norsca from Troll Country, a boundary that stretched from the Sea of Claws to the southwest to the port of Sjoktraken upon the frozen shores of the Frozen Seas. It had been he and Hurgar’s plan to hunt Dum River Tolls along the Dumaraz for occasionally a Troll would find some deep crevasse or watery cave along the river for shelter, dwelling there as they hunted their prey for food. The danger they posed was that they enlarged their dwellings and sometimes their fell dens intruded into the underground water supplies of the Dawi or entered into the Ungruvalk, the underground river canal that connects Draksfjord on the Sea of Claws to Sjoktraken. It was then that the Drak-Varr Rangers of Kraka Drak would hunt them down and kill them but that was only after the Trolls had attacked a ship and crew as they sailed by.

Skaldor had traveled steadily all day. There was no Dawi made trail along the Dumaraz, or at least if there had been it had not been used since the Ungruvalk had been completed three or four hundred years ago and had been completely destroyed by the wind, rain, and snow in their ceaseless war against the mountain. The sun had passed behind the mountains to the west and now he searched for a suitable spot to spend the night. The haunch of venison that he carried needed to be cooked and the jumble of boulders just above the high water line next to the river looked inviting as did the drift wood he would need for a fire. As he approached the rocks following along a broken uneven trail he saw a print, and then light breeze shifted and the smell assailed his nose and he froze. All thoughts of a warm dinner were forgotten as the unmistakable smell of a troll nearly made him gag.

Following the broken trail toward the ledge above the cluster of moss covered boulders and winter wind blown trees Skaldor continued on, weary of being ambushed by a troll. If he was to meet his doom he thought, he wanted it to be on his terms as he tried to determine where the smell was coming from. The background noise of the fast moving rivers as it cascaded down rocky falls filled the air was a dull roaring noise and mist that clung making everything damp. Removing his knapsack and cloak he began climbing a top a boulder. He carefully crested the top and as he did Skaldor exploded forward with an axe in both hands as he leaped off the ledge screaming “Khazad” at the top of his lungs as he landed in the middle of two young trolls squabbling and feeding over a chain mail clad dead bodies. Landing atop the shoulders of the closest troll he swung downward with both axes splitting the skull and as the troll toppled over from being hit Skaldor continued his leap by jumping off the troll to land behind the second troll; as he flew over he slashed down at the seconds trolls neck and when he landed he swung and hit it’s hamstring before he charged in again.

The second troll hearing a strange scream looked up and saw the attacker, and without a club in his hand other than the leg bone of today’s meal vomited, regurgitating and spewing burning stomach acid at the attacker. But the attacker had already leaped clear and the volatile burning mixture hit his sibling full in the face and chest. The first troll screamed in pain and not knowing he had been attacked from behind picked up a large tree branch and attacked the second troll hitting four times knocking its sibling to the ground, it was only then that the first troll saw Skaldor.

Skaldor knew that between he, and the trolls they had inflicted terrible wounds that would have killed any beast. But trolls regenerate and he had to finish them off before they fully recovered and as the first troll hesitated, perhaps because of its wounds or because it was naturally stupid. Skaldor charged the second troll, hitting it twice across the neck as it lay there unmoving upon the ground before barreling in under the outstretched arm as the first troll swung at him with a tree branch. The troll’s second swing would have hit Skaldor if he had not slipped and fallen to the ground and the troll’s make-shift club swung through the air where he had been standing. Rolling away to come up behind the troll Skaldor charged in and using a small boulder for height he leap at the back of the troll with both his feat knocking it down upon the ground. Standing upon the trolls back he continued hacking as if he was chopping wood at the trolls already split skull that had been slowly growing back together. Screaming at the top of his lungs for it to die he finally severed the head completely and it ceased moving.

He stood there panting, sucking in great gulps of air and finally when the rage had subsided, he began stacking dry wood atop the troll’s bodies. When he finally had enough wood he set the pyre on fire and stood back and watched it burn. It was growing darker and as he cleaned his axes he noticed that one of the hafts had been splashed with acid and was closed to being eaten through. Skaldor snapped the haft off the axe head and stowed it in his knapsack for the time when he could put in a new handle he himself had escaped relatively unscathed by most of the acid and was hit only by a few droplets that burned and ate into his skin before he had a chance to washed the burns clean with the icy waters of the Dumaraz.

As the sun set beyond the mountains to the west it drew darker and he could make out the first of the two moons that lit the night sky but unit it had risen the night was kept at bay by the raging fire that consumed the two trolls all except their talons and one of the skulls that he intended to carve into a Nogarung tankard after he had cleaned and removed the flesh. With the fire burning, he began gathering up the remains of the slain Kraka Ravnsvake rangers. Their bodies had been ripped apart by the trolls as they fed and he mourned them, the whole patrol was here, they had died to the last, all six of them. By the light of the fire which he kept fed by the large supply of wood he worked throughout the long night building a single large cairn to hold the fallen rangers. All night long the sound of steel upon stone could be heard above the roar of the river as he shaped the stone until not even a Loremasters archive page could be slipped between the cracks of the stones. In the early morning lift with the fire still burning he placed their remains within the cairn even their shattered equipment, armor, and weapons; all except one exceptionally fine double bladed battleaxe with the rune of Zharr engraved upon the blade which he kept to replace his broken one. Then Skaldor fitted a large capstone in place and began carving the name of their hold and their names upon the stone.

Something nagged at Skaldor as he had worked the whole night through and it was only with the growing dawn of a new day that it came to him. How had two yearly troll cubs no larger than a full grown Dawi kill six seasoned rangers. Where were the adult trolls? More importantly where was the sow? For some reason he kept the fire burning adding more fuel to the fire, placing limbs only partially in the fire to be used as torches. Where was the sow? He kept saying over and over to himself and he slowly turned in place looking and searching his surroundings and knuckles tightening and loosening as the griped the hafts of his weapons. At the waters edge in the soft soil was the answer, large tracks leading into the river and not out. Could there be an underwater cave he wondered, one that led into the Ungruvalk of Norsca, an Ungruvalk that connected all four Krakas. Where was the sow, he thought for the umpteenth time and then he saw something begin to rise out of the river.

*


Far beneath the surface of the world deep down inside sub terrain water ways she heard their cries of pain, heard their death cries. The water was the life blood of any river troll and as it was a source of communication for the humans she ate so to did it carry the cries and sounds of battle to all her kind. She and her mate had left their cubs in a relatively safe haven along the rivers edge with plenty of food as they searched deep within the bowels of the mountain for a dark den. It was her mate that had found just such a den deep underground along an underground river. But the safety was as illusion shattered by the death of her mate and now she dimly heard the cries of fear and pain from her young she quickly made her way back through the maze of watery caves and tunnels, back to the surface of the world.

*


There was a set of eyes looking at him from the river, Skaldor backed away from the river not out of fear of the beast but to give himself more fighting room and as he did he looked briefly at the cairn and wondered who would entomb his remains. Then he saw lying next to his cloak the flask of lamp oil and he quickly snatched it up and hung it from his belt. Slowly the head emerged from the surface of the water and the troll looked quickly around as if looking to see if Skaldor had allies but there were none and the shoulders followed the head and soon the beast was striding up out of the grasp of the river, water cascading off its body and he saw that it carried a length of rusty anchor chain in one hand and a half eaten leg from one of the rangers in the other. As it reached the bank the troll stuffed the remaining leg into its maw crunching down crushing the femur into small splinters of bone and swallowing it bone and all. The troll stupidly gazed at him as it bellowed out, swinging the anchor chain around. The smell was obscene and Skaldor fought down the urge to puke his guts out and instead he maneuvered further away from the river drawing the troll away from its natural habitat on to dry land and closer to fire closer to the boulders and down trees. The troll refused to move so Skaldor reached down at his feet and held the severed troll head before him, taunting the sow yelling obscenities at it.

Upon seeing the head of its cub the sow roared with rage charging the small beast that had killed her young and as she charged she swung her weapon. Skaldor counter charged both his axes glittering in the morning light. He ducked the sow’s first swing of the chain but the second swing knocked one of his axes out of his hand and he grasped his new battleaxe in an overhand swing as the blade bit deep into her chest. The troll thrust him away and Skaldor rolled across the ground his weapon still firmly held. Regaining his feet Skaldor charged the troll again hitting twice and he was startled to see that the previous wounds that he had inflicted were steaming not from the morning cold but from fire. They had not regenerated and he redoubled his attacks and was rewarded by hearing the troll scream out in pain as battleaxe left burning wounds each time he hit. The trolls flesh popped and sizzled like hot grease on a fire and the sow screamed in rage and pain swinging the chain at him. The first swing hit the ground beside him knocking great divots out of the ground peppering him with rock shards and dirt with such force bowling Skaldor over. She swung again with a great overhand swing but the chain was too long or she was to close and the chain wrapped itself around one of the downed trees over Skaldor’s head. Skaldor lay on his back looking up from where he lay at the troll’s feet seeing that the sow kept pulling on the chain but it was wrapped tightly. With a great heave the sow jerked hard and the log started to roll towards the both of them. The Slayer saw none of this as he saw the troll’s dilemma who stupidly kept jerking and pulling on the chain in an attempt to free her weapon instead of attacking him with fang and claw. From his prone position Skaldor swung the great axe hitting the sow between her legs cutting deeply into her thigh. The sow immediately kicked at him knocking him out of the path of the rolling log that had gained enough speed to bounce over a boulder and hit the surprised troll in the chest pinning her to the ground. Skaldor regained his feet ignoring the cracked ribs and bruises and once again charged the troll. In a red burning rage that reminded him of the flames from last nights fires he jerked the flask from his belt and dumped the entire contents upon the troll. The he struck with his great weapon and each time the axe bit deep into her flesh fires began to ignite when the axe came into contact with the oil. Soon her whole body is engulfed in a ball of flame as Skaldor continued to hack into the troll and each strike only made the flames burn hotter. With a scream of Khazad and Kraka Draka Skaldor struck one last time severing the head from the body. Weary he fell back away from the flames as hot grease dripped from his orange crested hair and his chest hair curled and burned from the intense heat and flame. Skaldor had utterly failed as a Slayer – failed to die – failed to regain his lost honor and he dropped to the ground and wept beating his fists against the unforgiving soil.

*


High above the canyon on the south side of the river a pair of eyes watched with interest.

*


The priest of Grimnir had just finished the night’s dinner special of Salmagundi and was sitting back in his chair as was his custom enjoying a tankard of ale and a smoke on his long stemmed calumet when he noticed the noise from the cliental hushed for a moment as two more customers entered into the Rusty Harpoon. Morik Ragnison and Lord Drazhgrund stood a moment in the doorway as if letting their eyes adjust or perhaps searching for someone when the Morik nodded in his direction and they proceeded through the inn followed closely by one of Florin’s staff with a small cask. As they walked by the hearth they each reached up and retrieved their personalized tankards and approached his table. The priest half expected Lord Drazhgrund’s wife to be with him and was pleased that she was not. Fore he was one of the dissenting voices of reason that failed to persuade the elders of Clan Durazklad not to allow the King’s niece accompany the Royal Clans Throngrink during the Nemesis Campaign. He had nothing personal against Kari it was just that he was a little more conservative in his thinking about what was appropriate and not appropriate behavior for female Dawi. Thank goodness he thought that the only females working within the Rusty Harpoon were the cooks and not the barkeeps or waiters he thought to himself as he resumed his musing about Kari. The fact that she had defeated nearly all of her own bodyguards upon the Drak-Hammer training ground made her a hero to nearly all the females of Kraka Drak. In a last ditch effort to keep her from going he had instigated a Dar against her on the grounds that if she could beat the senior warrior priest of Grimnir only then could she accompany Lord Drazhgrund and his Drak-Hammers. Kari Katrindottier had beaten him in under a quarter-mark much to his chagrin and she, now known as Knight Slayer only made matters of hero worship worse though much to her credit she did not bring the matter up and seemed outright humble about her part in the campaign. But for all her humility Kari had kept to her Drak-Hammer training and had gotten better, faster, more deadly since giving birth to Prince Alaric, son of Drazhgrund, grandson of King Kartin Mordinson, great-grandson of King Mordin Blackhammer Elmadorson, great-great grandson of King Elmador Finnson, the blood line going back to the first king and beyond; for she had more to fight for, more to protect now that she was both mother and wife and a little part of him wished all Dawi females fought as well. But his musing came to a halt as Morik and Drazhgrund stopped at his table and one of Florin’s waiters set the cask upon the table.

“Logazar Gomrundson, may we join you?” Thane Morik asked as he pulled a chair away from the table and sat down followed closely by Lord Drazhgrund. Logazar nodded as he blew smoke rings to the ceiling then tilted back his tankard and drank it dry.

Logazar looked at both of them and wondered what brought them here to his table and watched as Morik tapped the cask and recharged his empty tankard before filling Lord Drazhgrund’s and his own. He nodded his thanks took a drink then looked again at the cask and the brewing date. “What brings you to the Rusty Harpoon?” The priest of Bakraz Hall asked neither of them looked like they were here to take the oath.

Drazhgrund took his time in answering as he too savored ale. “I had stopped by Bakraz Hall and was told that you were.” He finally replied. “I thought it best to give you the latest scouting reports received from Kraka Ravnsvake.”
The priest looked at both of them wondering what possible information that Kraka Ravnsvake had that would interest him personally. “Why?”

“It concerns your nephew,” Morik started say further but was cut off by Logazar.

“My clan and I have already grieved for him the day he took the oath,” Logazar said with more than a little angst. “He is dead, he has no honor.”

“Logazar, if you will not listen to what we have to say as a family or clan member then listen as a Priest of Grimnir.” Drazhgrund said was just a touch of impatience for the priest. He pondered, wondering if Logazar’s vehemence was directly related to his nephew or some other unknown reason.

“Speak your piece and I will listen.” Logazar said gruffly

“We came seeking you out to tell you of Hurgar Yannison and your sister’s son, your nephew,” and when Drazhgrund said nephew the priest bristled, “excuse me, Skaldor Grondson. Drazhgrund slid the scroll tube across the table that held a large roll of copper. “Hurgar Yannison was killed fighting a Wyr Leopard and Skaldor built him a cairn and entombed his body. The location is within the report. We assumed that Bakraz Hall would make arrangements for the body to be returned to the clan burial chambers.”

“Did he die regaining his honor? Did he die fighting overwhelming odds?” Logazar said out loud and more than a few patrons turned toward the three of them and it was only then that the priest noticed that Florin had managed to keep a clear space around the table to give them some privacy.

“No, he did not.” Morik said flatly as he took another drink.

“Then leave him be. I will tell the clan of his of the cairn and make the proper entries into the archives of Bakraz Hall. What of Skaldor?” Logazar asked trying to show indifference relieved that his sister dwelled in the Halls of Valaya and never lived to see the disgrace of her son.

It was Lord Drazhgrund who spoke. “Troll Slayer Skaldor patrols the Dumaraz River,” the priest nodded picturing in his mind the map of Norsca and when he heard Drazhgrund say Troll Slayer his eyes glistened, “and has build another cairn, a cairn for six Kraka Ravnsvake Rangers who were killed by a small tribe of trolls. Troll Slayer Skaldor killed three trolls in a single day and built the cairn to entomb the dead rangers. The King thought that you might like to tell the saga of Troll Slayer Skaldor next month on the 33rd of Fornskrak during the Skraksdeg celebration. To recite the tale of Skaldor who patrols the Dumaraz River killing trolls, and discovering a opening in the river that lead deep underground to the Ungruvalk ship canal. The miners, and the water engineers have already plumbed the site and using a colored dye they placed in the river found where the dye reappeared in the Ungruvalk and took action to seal off the entrance. All thanks to Troll Slayer Skaldor Grondson.”

“Does he still patrol, is he well?” the priest asked as he took possession of the report tube. Morik and Lord Drazhgrund both nodded yes. “Thank the King for me and tell him yes, I will tell the Saga of Troll Slayer Skaldor.” He wanted to tell the king to keep his heirs under lock and key and if he had done so he would still have a nephew he could be proud of. His eyes glistened not from the good news that Skaldor was alive but from the news that his nephew had not regained his honor.

* * *


#73 Skull Krusher

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 05:39 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty One

The guild house was nearly deserted most of the workers had left for the evening but still Fimbar Thyksnev of the Ironhand Clan worked late into the night going over the account books. He was sure that the clan and the guild had been cheated but so far he had said nothing. The problem was proving it in such a way that there would be no wiggle room to escape the King’s justice and from having the clan or himself not be written into some other clan’s Dammaz Kron. With a heavy sigh of acute frustration Fimbar took another drink and began rechecking the accounts against what was received and what was paid for. It would be a long night better spent working on a craft masterpiece to woo Freda his bride-to-be and her clan’s elders.

Candle-marks later he muttered an expletive about Narwangli Umgi Vithang for he had found nothing. The purchases matched what was loaded and eventually shipped and that took several candle-marks to determine and knew that the Kislev merchant, Mikhail Sergetov who was the proctor for Prince Sergei Clivonsley of Pensk had not cheated the clan which meant that he needed to check the shipping manifest that had been written by the shippers. Methodically Fimbar began auditing the first of two caravan fright haulers employed by Sergetov to bring the goods from Pensk to the port city of Erengrad. So he began another audit of what was actually put on the wagons and what was delivered to the dockside warehouses in Erengrad where the goods sat waiting for the next Norsca Dawi merchant ship.

Fimbar sat there thinking, he had already tapped another small keg as he worked though the night and the room was filled with tabac smoke. He trusted both Sergetov and Prince Sergei, their families had been doing business with the guild house for over 250 years which was but a short time amongst the Dawi but to the Umgi of Kislev this was five or six generations and not once in all that time had there been an indiscretion in the accounts. Why now he wondered out loud to himself. Slowly painstakingly he checked the records between the manifest and Vaja Rybkin, the owner of the Vladimir’s General Goods Warehouse and finally found where the thefts were occurring. He quickly rechecked and came to the same conclusion that when shipments were sent directly to the Dawi Vithang ship on those rare occasions when the caravan reached Erengrad at the same time a ship steamed into port that there was no deviance from what was ordered, purchased, shipped, and delivered. It was only when the warehouse was used was there a theft, now he had to prove who was behind the thefts. But that would have to wait until he rechecked the shipments in the guild storeroom for evidence of damage to the crates or tamping of the seals. Fimbar closed the record books and placed them back where he had gotten them, his audit however he stored in the small secret Thindrongol a small vault before heading for the Rusty Harpoon for a late night tankard or two and some of Florin’s Salmagundi that was tonight special.

Fimbar walked along the quay-wall after leaving the guild house that had its’ main quarters here in the port of Sjoktraken not to far from the water gates that lead into the Ungdrin used by the ships of Norsca. It made sense since the three vessels co-owned by the guild were berthed here. Two modern Ghazan-harbarks sporting two banks of steam powered mechanical oars and a single tall corkscrew shaped sail that propelled the vessel during favorable winds. The third ship was a heavier-than-water ship that was steam driven vessel that was different from other Umgi built side wheel paddle wheel ships. This vessel had a single paddle wheel but it was situated down the centerline of the ship which meant that it was more streamline and faster through the water despite the armor plating but more importantly the paddlewheel could not be targeted thus disabling the ship. But all Norsca ships are heavily armored and armed with war machines, Varr-Rangers and or Varr-Thunders. He stood for a moment looking at the King’s ship Dunderkarak as it steamed into port having just left the Ungdrin; harbor craft swarmed around it to assist in mooring to the quay-wall and Fimbar began contemplating an idea. Not easy prey for pirates or thieves he thought to himself as he headed up the steps to the Rusty Harpoon.

*


She wondered what Guild-master Fimbar was working on, another trade contract she mused because he had finally departed a candle-mark ago and was likely meeting with other Vithangs in any number of the inns in Kraka Drak but she did not give it another thought as she went about her task of inventorying the last shipment from Kislev. Magnadottier was pleased that the Rune of Verminkill worked as the Holds Journeyman Rhunki or Runesmith stated. Between the Rune, the specially breed Hold Owls who spent their entire lives underground in the Holds vast tunnel system, and the tame cats the concern of vermin infestation was greatly reduced. Or at least she had been pleased until she discovered the damage to one of the seal crates from Pensk and she would not have seen that if the crate had been stacked properly in the first place instead of lying on its side in an Umgak or shoddy way. Due to the Umgak work of the clans receiving staff her life had been spared. For when Tarni Magnadottier saw the crate on its side and the badly scared, gnawed, or scratched bottom of the crate she called out; “Dargo Kruddsniz get in this storeroom now and restack this Pinsk shipment properly” and she boxed his ears as he walked by, “and make sure you set the damaged crate to one side so the contents can be checked for spoilage.” Magna demanded then left the storeroom.

Just two doors away Magna began checking the inventory to insure that the clan’s Vithang or market place shop had plenty of the new Pensk set aside. As she did so Magna could hear Dargo grumbling and crates being moved and repositioned then she heard a loud crash. Magna rushed toward the disturbance and stopped at the open door to the storeroom. Dargo lay upon the floor on his back, the damaged crate had come apart and he still clutched the pieces of it in his darkening black hands, his whole body jerked with muscle spasms and his mouth bubbled with green and blackish red liquid from his tightly clenched teeth, and his eyes and ears leaked blood. Magna had seen enough, and knew even as Dargo lay their breathing his last he was already good as dead and she immediately slammed the door shut, locking it all in one motioned. Grabbing a container of two part paste that is kept near every storeroom she immediately began mixing and applying the paste to the seams of the door that would soon become rock hard and seal off the room. Magna thanked the Ancestor Goddess Valaya that she had not touched anything in the storeroom today, “Poor Dargo!” she said with a deep sob that was bordering on rage against who ever had sabotaged the crate. There would be a reckoning, a call for Vengryn and a line added to the Clan’s Dammaz Kron.

*



As he finished his third serving of Salmagundi and a fourth serving of melted aged Hruki cheese on fresh sourdough toast, and drained the last of a small keg of Glaz Norsca ale brewed some twenty years before and had mellowed quiet nicely he noticed the arrival of Lord Drazhgrund and the new Thane Lord Morik. Fimbar recalled that it had been Lord Drazhgrund and his then consort Kari Katrindottier of Clan Durazklad who had delivered the trade contract and treaties to Prince Sergei Clivonsley of Pinsk for his favorable cheese that was most sought after by any a Norsca Dawi. Since the House of Durazklad had a small stake in the trade agreements perhaps the Clan Ironhand could persuade the Durazklad Clan to form an expedition to Erengrad to discover who was responsible for the cheese thefts.

Fimbar was not a Khazukan Dawi one of those who never left the hold though many thought so. In his far away youth he had followed the sound of the King’s Krum, marching to war for the protection of hearth and kin. But that had been an age or two ago and the training he received both as a warrior standing long lonely watches, and then as a caravan guard, and then as a journeyman Vithang enabled him to overhear what was being said around him despite the noise and distractions. What ever was said between the Throngrink of the royal clan and the cleric of Grimnir had not been completely amicable for even though Logazar Gomrundson nodded his acceptance; a Baraz to officiate at the next Ancestor Feast day in the month of Fornskrak Logazar just got up and left. Fimbar could read the body language well enough to know that the cleric was in a controlled rage against the King if not the royal clan Throngrink for what had happened to Logazar’s nephew. If Logazar is not careful he too could be taking the Slayer’s Oath Fimbar thought to himself and then Fimbar noticed that as he watched the cleric leave pushing his way across the crowded inn causing a few of the patrons to spill their drinks and nearly start a fight or two until the patrons noticed who caused the disturbance so too did Lord Drazhgrund who also nodded to Fimbar in acknowledgement that the Rik knew that the Vithang overheard and watched the confrontation. So focused on what was occurring that he failed to notice a Drak-Hammer bodyguard at his table till he felt the bodyguards’ menacing presence. Looking up at the Drak-Hammer, the bodyguard spoke, “Vithang Fimbar, Rik Drazhgrund wishes to speak…” The Drak-Hammer was interrupted by shouting as the double doors to the inn flew upon and a Garazi Vithang wearing the same icons and colors as Fimbar burst into the inn shouting “Thag!”

*


Gone was the seething hostile tension that had spread amongst the Vithang Clans and markets throughout the four Norsca holds. The hue and cry for Vengryn was heard in every level of Dawi society from the smallest clan or the least influential to the largest and most influential, they all called for Vengryn. There were those who called for more Dawi self sufficiency to sever all contact and trade with those outside the Norsca Ankor saying that Norsca Dawi had no need for Umgi trade goods. For good or ill stronger heads or those with greater wit, wisdom or insight prevailed and King Thorin ordered a reconnaissance in force to be sent to the Kislev city of Erengrad to discover the cause and those responsible for the death, nay the treacherous death of Dargo. So with the royal stamp of approval and with the Vithang Clans paying most of the expenses a small Throng under the command of Lord Hergar “Sharpblade” Rorekson, the Gormtrommi of the King’s Drak Varr Ranger’s; his Throng consisted of ten Drak-Ironbreakers, twenty members of the Warrior Guild, five Vithang Guild Warriors, and a sizable contingent of Drak-Varr Rangers from the Dunderkarak steamed south towards Kislev resolute in their Vengryn for Dargo Kruddsniz.




(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 05 March 2008 - 05:39 AM.


#74 Skull Krusher

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 04:30 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty Two


*


Finn Harokson of Clan Oakenstave wedged himself between the bulkhead and a stanchion to keep himself from being thrown about as the Dunderkarak plowed through the storm tossed Sea of Claws as he and others of the Throng were discussing the death of Dargo and their mission in Kislev. He was glad he did not have the watch atop the mast today not that anything but a stoutly built Dawi ship could weather a storm like this. The Master and Commander of the Dunderkarak was all for steaming into Erengrad Bay and opening fire upon the warehouse but that was not an option so he let his Thane who lead the Drak-Varr Rangers make the plans though if events went bad then his cannon crews could still level the warehouse.

*


The Rhunki were busy and so too were the clerics of Valaya both creating Runes. The Rhunki were placing Runes of Verminkill within every doorway or shaft and chimney opening as well as the waterways and renewing those Runes whose strength seemed to weaken with age while the clerics was the blessing of Valaya were making amulets and icon of Purification to ensure the water supplies and foods supplies were not poisoned or contaminated. Though every Dawi went about his or her daily routine armed, many took more interest in their weapons training. Between the unspoken threat of what killed or whom killed Dargo and the chance discovery of the breeched tunnel by the King’s heirs, the population as a whole scoured and searched every tunnel system new, old, and disused was compared with the master map of the Karak in their search for Vengryn.

*


It was a dark moonless night as the Dunderkarak knifed through the still pitch black waters with nary a perceivable wake as the tide pulled the great shipped deep into Starivoda Bay over the bar and into the main shipping channel of the bay and port of Erengrad. The ship’s engineers had place screens over the stacks to keep errant sparks from flying into the dark night sky to alert any coastal watcher of the Dunderkarak’s entrance into the bay. Of all the ports throughout the Old World that Captain Heganbor “Durakghal” Hirnzailfin of Clan Durazklad had visited he considered Erengrad to be the cesspool of the world. The bay was so shallow that the people of Erengrad had built long piers far out into the bay to be closer to the ships. They had built their homes, shops, and warehouses atop the piers. As a result the whole population used the bay for a toilet and garbage dump and if it was not for the huge tidal surge that swept the bay clean twice a day the port would smell worse than it did. Disregarding his disdain for Erengrad, Heganbor gave the silent command to drop the fore and aft anchors and no sooner than the anchors had dug their flutes into the bottom of the bay the crew began setting the springs and were warped and set into place as three small boats with muffled oars pulled away from the side of the Dunderkarak and silently made their way to the warehouse district. A fourth boat with Lord Hergar “Sharpblade” Rorekson, the Gormtrommi of the King’s Drak Varr Ranger’s headed toward the Carrier's Guildhouse within the High City of the Port of Erengrad to present documents to Minister Petre Von Strasbergen to appraise him and the Tzarina that Dawi of Kraka Drak were searching for those responsible for the theft of their cargo and murder of Dargo Kruddsniz.

*


Though it was darker than a broken lantern in the deepest delving Sven took no chances. From the very first the Dunderkarak’s small boats had been built of black metal, painted black and the oarlocks had been built to muffle the sound of the oars. Even his Drak-Varr Ranger’s were clad in black leather and chain-mail that absorbed the light making them appear as a black hole in the night. With five Drak-Varr Rangers in each of the three boats crewed and by six sailors who could be just as deadly as their passengers drifted by and through the anchored shipping. The night watches aboard the vessels saw nothing being either to drunk or asleep to sound an alert but it was a moot point anyway since the Dawi boats avoided the pools of light around the ships. As they passed the last Umgi Vithang vessel Sven’s three boats left the main anchorage and were soon drifting under the Port City of Erengrad which was perched high atop pilings looking like an overgrown water beetle whose legs had become stuck in the mud. He just hoped an Umgi did not decide to empty a chamber pot out a window as they passed by.

*


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 14 March 2008 - 02:04 AM.


#75 Skull Krusher

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 05:08 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty Three

*


Mitri Zubov did what he always did when he was unlucky enough to draw the wrath of Vaja Rybkin, the owner of the Vladimir’s General Goods and ended up with the warehouse midnight watch, he drank kvass. Of course he always drank kvass everyone did to ward of the bitter coldness of Kislev. Kvass was the main staple even in cooking throughout Kislev and of late Mitri drank to dull the koszmar memory of seeing the many eyes, red glowing eyes that peered out of the heart of darkness in the harbor district of Erengrad. He tugged his chapka down tight over his ears and made sure that his kozhukhi was buttoned up and then woke up his fellow guard. Mitri ensured that the warehouse guards wore warn soft soled shoes that made no noise so not to alert any intruders and after much grumbling by his partner they made their first of many nightly rounds amongst the boxes and bales of supplies waiting for shipment. Mitri took his job seriously since for every item that was stolen out of the warehouse was one less gold ducat or silver denga that would line his own pocket. Instead of gold or silver he would have to live on his wages of a handful of copper pulo and the blyad’s that warmed his bed cost more than a pulo not that he would admit to paying for their favors. So with a heavy sigh he and Alexei Ovinko began checking the doors, windows, and walls to ensure no one had broken into the warehouse. Alexei carried the bulls eye lantern and Mitri followed along behind with weapons at the ready as they made their way through the long rows of goods glad that they did not work directly with the harbormaster of Erengrad whose guards also patrolled the harbor in small boats whose main duties was to ensure the stability of the pilings that held up the piers and docks of Erengrad but also to make sure no kyazak entered the port at night without paying their port fees. But mainly those who worked for the harbormaster were as unscrupulous as their master and often used their small boats to gain access to the businesses, homes, and warehouses from underneath through the trapdoors in the floor. So far none of Radii Synvaslisa’s minions had attempted to steal from the warehouse but others had tried and died. It had been years since Mitri served in the Tzarina’s Pulk and though he was no droyaska he still took weapons practice and as the senior watch captain gave lessons to the younger members of the warehouse guard. But it was the eyes that chilled Mitri to the bone so much that he started carrying his repeater crossbow that he had liberated last year from the wreckage of a Naggaroth black ark that washed up upon the beach just north of the entrance of Starivoda Bay after a severe winter storm. The fact that he and ten others killed the shipwrecked Drazh-Elgi survivors was common knowledge amongst the rulers of Kislev. Even Tzarina Katarin from her icy fortress within the capital city of Kislev sent her thanks and gifted Mitri and the others with fine new swords made by her allies in Kraka Drak. It was as he and Alexei had finished their first outer circuit of the warehouse when they both heard a noise that was not the sound of the water lapping against the pilings beneath their feet or the sound of the wind against the building, nor one of the few small birds that made their home in the rafters but a noise that sounded like someone was scratching or sawing very quietly through wood one stroke at a time. The noise came from the next row over.

(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 05 March 2008 - 05:44 AM.


#76 Skull Krusher

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 04:42 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty Four

*


According to the Dunderkarak’s Master and Commander high tide would be in about a half candle mark Sven reckoned. As they neared the first of six warehouses owned and operated by Vaja Rybkin he smelled an odor that he had smelled only once before when he and some fellow rangers had been set upon in Altdorf during the attack on the Imperial Ordinance factory and hoped never to face such a monstrosity again. Sven Brokkson thanked the Ancestor Gods for the command decision for the forging the Runes that were installed in the center of each of Dunderkarak’s small boats; if they worked he would buy a pint of Norsca’s finest every day for a year for the Rhunki who forged it. As the boats were paddled quietly under the pier not only were the Varr Rangers and sailors watchful to avoid the piers they also scanned the underside of the pier and docks which were a maze of pipes that brought fresh water from the distant shore to the businesses and homes but also was also a way to travel the length of the piers without being seen by walking along maintenance boardwalk and or clinging to the framework that held up the dock and the many buildings. It was from the cluttered darkened framework that the smell came from and Sven and several others had their quarrels cocked, loaded, and ready.

*


It grew increasingly frustrated in its attempt to follow the master’s orders; be unseen, be silent, be quick as it gnawed and clawed its way through the timbers that held the loading dock cargo trap door secure. As wood scrapings and chips drifted to the black waters below its stomached growled loudly as it continued to work. The impromptu meal of a dead body found half in the water still clutching the pilings in an attempt to pull itself out of the freezing Erengrad Bay only took an edge off its hunger. It could smell prey above its head as it worked furiously and as quiet as possible since if discovered master would punish harshly and with hold its food. Master had told it to place small packets that hung around its neck inside boxes once inside the warehouse and only then could he satisfy his hunger on the guards being sure to leave no bodies behind which meant all were food to its primitive mind. It took a quick bite of rancid meat from the corpse leg and continued to work its metal talons through the locking timber. So focused on its hunger and doing its masters bidding it did not sense the coming danger.

*


(been sick – to be continued)


#77 Skull Krusher

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 04:49 AM

Kraka Drak - Party Sixty Five

*


Meanwhile at the government house a late night gathering was in full swing, lights ablaze and a large number of enclosed carriages entered and exited the palace courtyard of the Lord of Erengrad. The gate guards were surprised by the approach of a dozen heavily cloaked Dwarves and knowing that there was a standing open invitation to Thane of the Erengrad’s Dwarves; the captain of the guard was startled as well. Never in the four years he had been posted here had any of the Dwarven close knit community ever attended any previous function but they were not to be denied so he allowed them entrance and provided an escort to the grand hall. A runner was sent ahead to warn the Seneschal.

Minister Petre Von Skvortskov, Lord of Erengrad was surprised when his Seneschal signaled him from across the room Petre nodded and continued talking to one of many Boyars who were trying to persuade him, and thus the Tzarina to appoint some obscure relation to an important post. Petre continued to listen as he watched his Seneschal thread his way through the crowded room. Telling the supplicant that he would take the favorable proposal under advisement he stepped away, his two Chekist bodyguards enforcing an open space around Von Skvortskov by shear intimidation thus allowing the Seneschal and the Minister to talk quietly without being overheard or interrupted. Most of those who observed them noted the Ministers startled expression and the Seneschal give a nod and a signal. Moments later the double doors opened wide and the Door Warden slammed his staff of office three times against the floor, the sound carried throughout the hall, startled the musicians into quietness and their string instruments trailed off in a screeching halt, and the noise of over a hundred voices drew quiet as they all saw the Dwarves standing behind the Door Warden. Then the Door Warden spoke; his voice heard by all.

“My, lord and ladies I present, Commander of King Thorin’s Drak Varr Rangers, Lord Hergar “Sharpblade” Rorekson of Clan Durazklad Kraka Drak, Norsca Ankor.” The crowd parted and Lord Hergar followed by a dozen Dwarfs advanced slowly toward Von Skvortskov. The guards around the room were just as startled especially seeing armed warriors in their midst and a few stepped forward to interpose their bodies and their weapons between the Dwarves and the Minister until a white hair Boyar Kossar ordered them back to their post for he had seen the honor knots upon the weapons and knew from past experience no Dwarf would violate that sacred trust unless they were attacked first and then they would more than likely crush their opponent with their scarred gnarled fist rather than bare cold steel within the presence of royalty.

Petre Von Skvortskov was shocked he had expected the Dwarf merchants of Erengrad not a Dwarf Lord and his retinue and kin to the King Thorin of Kraka Draka. Last year it had taken him awhile to get over the shock of seeing King Thorin’s clan patriarch not to mention his niece and now this. He was at a lost for words but he quickly told the Seneschal to bring the strongest kvass in the palace and keep it coming. As the Dwarves continued across the room he observed the lord. His long light brown beard frosted with white would have touched the ground if it was not braided and held in place by numerous gold hair clasps. In one hand he held a gold engraved message tube and in the other he held his helm under one arm and the gold and silver wings on either side of the helm represented a Norsca Sea Eagle and over his shoulder Petre could see the haft of his great weapon. Petre’s court mage who was standing beside him shuddered and whispered, “The lord bears a rune weapon as do several others.” Petre nodded and knew beyond a doubt that this was not purely a social call. Something had stirred up the Tzarina’s allies for the stone like face of Lord Hergar was hard unreadable just like a rock and just as deadly as a rock if not left alone. Finally the Dwarves stopped several feet away and Petre spoke.

“Lord Hergar, your presence honors the Tzarina and Kislev how may Kislev be of assistance to King Thorin?” The minister stated unintentionally falling back into the tone of a bored bureaucrat.

As Hergar and his fellow Dawi approached the minister, he was amazed at how soft these Umgi appeared not at all like the hardened warriors whom he had fought along side with as they pushed back the Chaos Hordes from the land of Kislev. The guards along the walls and the two Chekist bodyguards flanking the minister looked to be stalwart but if they stayed within these walls too much longer they would become Hruki, easy prey for the wolves, bears, or even worse. Over half the Umgi in attendance would die of fright if confronted; not that old white haired Boyar he at least looked and moved like a veteran warrior not like a staked out Hruki waiting to be eaten. He mentally shook his head as he finally approached minister Petre Von Skvortskov, and was glad that Lord Drazhgrund and Kari had warned him about the minister’s annoying habit of speaking like a Narwangli government bureaucrat instead of a representative of the Tzarina.

When Lord Hergar heard what the Umgi minister said he laughed out loud and thinking at the same time the vast gulf between Umgi and Dawi honor. If a Dawi had uttered the phrase, “How may Kraka Drak be of assistance to Kislev,” the king and his subjects would be honor bound to render what aide was asked for. Not so with Umgi even those who were considered allies for they wee all Vithang who bought and sold their countries honor like a sack of coal much like they did their own personal honor; bought and sold. Very few Umgi were honorable though the ministers many times great grand sire was an honorable warrior so perhaps his descendent was as well thought Hergar as he replied in Kislev.

“Lord Petre Von Skvortskov, please excuse my laughter, you bear a striking resemblance to your ancestor, and I remember a joke he told me as he and I fought together against the Chaos Horde, ah I see you wear his sword, good!”

Petre was once again at a loss for words for he had sat spell bound for hours as a child listening to the stories of Tordimir Von Skvortskov who fought at the gates of Erengrad in a vain attempt to keep the followers of Khorne from sacking the city. Just when his ancestor and the warriors with him were about to be overwhelmed the Dwarves from Norsca joined the battle turning the tide of battle. The fact that Dwarves from Karak-a-Karak were also at the battle mattered little to Petre. It was the Norsca Dwarves who turned up unexpectedly on the Northern flank who shattered the Khorne battle line. Kislev was forever in the debt of the Dwarves but due to Norsca’s close proximity the Tzarina chose to ally her country with the Norsca Dwarves. Lord Hergar did not appear to be much beyond his own age and Petre was saved from a social gaff by the return of his Seneschal and a dozen servers who came bearing several large kegs of Erengrad kvass as well as a keg of imported Norsca Drak Ale that had been sitting for fifty years in the wine cellar for just the right occasion. What better time than now thought Petre who nodded his thanks to his Seneschal.

*


Mitri and Alexei silently made their way down the next row until they stopped about ten paces away from the loading door built into the floor which was used to load barges that tied up beneath the warehouse. The noise had stopped as they approached and they stood there silently waiting, watching, and then ever so slowly the noise continued. Risking a quick look with the lantern Alexei opened the bulls eye lantern and then shut it. It was enough for the two of them to see that the locking timbers holding the door in place were not secure. One was cut through and the other was half way cut in half. In that brief glimpse they saw long talons reach through the crack between the floor and the trap door and claw or saw at the remaining oak timber. Mitri seeing an opportunity remembered the cargo hoist, he quickly set the hook into the cargo net holding several barrels of grain stocks and pulled on the rope till the five barrels hung in the air directly over the trap door and quickly secured the rope so that with a quick release it would drop the entire load atop who ever or for the matter what ever was trying to break into the warehouse. Then the two of them stood back and waited to spring their trap.


(to be continued

Edited by Skull Krusher, 15 March 2008 - 04:55 AM.


#78 Skull Krusher

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 12:25 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty Six

*


“Quick, quick stupid beast” a voice whispered in the dark, “or taste lash” as the high pitched voice snapped a wickedly sharp barbed whip. The whispered voice, the crack of the whip, and the renewed clawing through the oak beam carried through the darkness. Unknown to the pack-master, not far away were three boat loads of Varr-Rangers who had aimed their Quarrels at the sound of his voice above their heads. Some of the Varr-Rangers felt the pieces of wood dust or chips fall upon their upturned face still others smelled the stench of a cadaver while others smelled the strong musky smell of vermin. But the pack-master was growing inpatient. It was cold and it hated the cold, hated the weather of Kislev where the coldness sapped the body of both warmth and energy. More than anything else it despised the Clan Moulder leadership that ordered his followers here without more adequate support to destroy the city food supplies.

Just above, Mitri heard the high pitched voice clearly and he looked to Alexei and saw that his fellow guard heard the voice as well. Mitri had heard such a voice before along with the red glowing eyes seen in the darkness and he ensured his axe was loose in the harness and the safety off the Dark Elf cross bow. Despite his precautions he was afraid of what was below the cargo door and there was no way he was going to tell Alexei; fearful that the young warrior would turn and flee. Any sane warrior would and what did that say about his own state of mind. In a battle line he had fought Chaos abominations without flinching and every battle he had ever fought in had been during day light or the half-light in the late winter months in the Northern Oblast and not in total darkness. He wished there were a full squad of his fellow guardsman all with lanterns not just the shift watch, he hesitated about telling Alexei to get the rest of the guardsman up but then he would be alone with whatever was trying to get in. No, it was better that Alexei was here if he was to die it was better to die together and not alone.

Then the oak beam gave way with an audible crack, “Quick, Quick” came the voice and then the sound of a whip. Mitri brought the crossbow to his shoulder an aimed; out of the corner of his eye he saw that Alexei had set the lantern on a crate ready to open the cover and shine the light on the cargo door; in his other hand he had the rope to the cargo hoist ready to pull the quick release. Down below Sven and the others heard the sound and saw dozens of dark shapes move and converge on the suddenly brightly lit opening in the warehouse floor above them.

The cargo hatch burst upward, swinging violently open on its massive hinges and slamming against the floor with a thunderous crash. As soon as the beam split apart Alexei threw open the cover of the lantern fully illuminating the now open cargo door. Surging upward through came a pack of what looked like giant rat like creatures wearing filthy black robes followed by a huge troll size creature that looked like a cross between a rat and a ogre or perhaps a troll and Alexei was so startled he jerked the rope and the cargo net full of five huge wooden barrels came crashing down upon the grotesque monstrosity and intruders as Mitri fired repeatedly with his Dark Elf crossbow. When the cargo door above them burst open eighteen Drak-Varr Rangers saw their dark moving targets and fired from less than twenty paces.


to be continued

Edited by Skull Krusher, 22 March 2008 - 04:28 AM.


#79 Skull Krusher

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 04:31 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty Seven

When the cargo net full of barrels crashed down upon the intruders the rat-ogre became momentarily entangled in the net but soon threw the barrels aside and tore the net apart as it scrambled into the warehouse followed by the clan rats bearing an odd assortment of wicked curved swords and poleaxes. Mitri yelled for Alexei to charge them to keep the intruders bottled up at they surged upward out of the darkness below. Mitri could hear their chittering ear wrenching screeching as they attacked and then their voices turned to screeches of pain as a volley of crossbow bolts impaled the clan rats from behind and then chaos ensued as Mitri and Alexei began battling just to stay alive as they fought clan rats and the rat-ogre.

Mitri’s axe cut through the stomach of a clan rat who fell to its knees trying to hold its innards in his follow through he split its’ skull and then he cut down a second and a third. Then he heard Alexei’s scream, glancing toward Alexei he saw that the rat-ogre had swatted the sword out of Alexei’s hand, grabbed both of his arms and ripped them off, blood was spewing all around as Alexei frantically screamed and screamed as the rat-ogre calmly began eating one arm, and using the other as a club against Mitri. Soon Mitri realized that there was two battles going on, one down below on the loading dock platform beneath the floor of the warehouse and the other inside the warehouse. He had no idea who or what was fighting the rat creatures and inwardly assumed that it was harbor master Radii Synvaslisa’s minions actually doing their job instead of stealing. But that mattered little to Mitri Zubov as he battled for his life and was thankful that he had killed the smaller rat creatures that had managed to gain access.

Down below chaos reined. The pack master was still alive with no where to run. He screamed “Kill, Kill” at the rat-ogre. He tried to order it back out of the warehouse to kill the Dwarves who came out of no where and attacked his pack. But the rat-ogre was fixated on the human upstairs and its blood "I swear too much" was up as it ignored the pack masters whipping.

There was no need for ordering a charge after they had fired their quarrels. Not when there were Skaven to be killed. Thane, Sven Brokkson was hard pressed to ensure that at least one sailor stay with each of the three boats but in the end it little mattered as the Skaven counter charged, some leaping into the boats, their mad chittering coming to an abrupt end as the dual Runes of Verminkill and Immolation displaced the darkness with searing bright burning flames that turned the clan rats in to small insignificant piles of ash as soon as they passed over the gunnels of the boats. Sven decided that he would buy the Rhunki a whole barrel of beer when he returned as he himself leaped to the loading dock as he blocked a slash from a clan rat hanging upside down from the dock pylons above his head and the Dawi beside him cut the clan rat in half and soon its’ intestines spilled out of the darkness making the loading dock all the more slippery.

The fighting raged back and forth across the loading platform and the three boats and the sounds of the battle rippled outward like a rocks dropped into a still pond as fighting spilled outward when the Skaven tried to flee as they ran upwards towards streets pursued by the Drak Varr-Rangers. Kislevites hearing and seeing the commotion boiled out of their homes and businesses, many brandishing weapons and joined in to attack the strange looking beasts; whom they thought were the precursor to another Chaos Beastman invasion. No quarter was given and none was asked; unseen by the combatants three Chekist subdued one of the strange looking beasts; trussed it up and rolled up in a large piece of sail and soon disappeared with their prisoner.

Sven sounded the recall as soon as the saw the Kislevites cut down the last of the Skaven and as he and his rangers were assembled they quickly headed back down to the loading platform and their boats only to be confronted by the sound of fighting in the warehouse. He charged up into the warehouse and as he did so he threw one of his throwing axes at the back of a Skaven who was wielding a whip, then continued his charge followed by the others.

Mitri was dimly aware that the sounds of the fight below had moved onto the streets and he, Mitri, a veteran of over twenty years of war was getting tired! He was getting old and it was one reason why he retired from the Tzarina’s Pulk because war was a young mans profession. He had wounded the rat-ogre several times but still it did not fall and kept attacking him with Alexei’s arm. As he blocked with his axe all he did was cut the arm up into more bite size portions for the beast to eat who seemed content to just tease Mitri. Then the cloaked Skaven appeared brandishing a whip and the rat-ogre began to attack him. Mitri was about to begin his chant to Ursun and then to Morr when he saw an armored Dwarf charge up from the loading platform and throw an axe. He watched the axe as it spun end over end and hit the whip bearer in the back of the head splitting its’ skull in half pitching the now dead corpse forward onto its’ face at the rat-ogres feet. The rat-ogre heard the pack masters death screech and looked down as its master fell, dropping the bloodied arm it bent over and with its talons began scooping out brains of the pack master. As it began to stand back up licking its claws Mitri struck not once but three times each time cutting a limb from the rat-ogre. When Mitri was done he looked up and said thanks to the Dwarf wearing black armor with a crossbow slung over his shoulder and carrying a huge two handed battle axe who walked up to Mitri and handed him what looked like a huge water bag. Mitri took it and squeezed it into his mouth. It was strong Dwarf ale and it tasted ever so good.


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 28 March 2008 - 05:06 AM.


#80 Skull Krusher

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 05:09 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty Eight

*


Once the keg had was broached the mood within the main meeting hall became lighter though there were pockets of discontent as many of the Kislevites were often vying for the same favors. Very few of the discussions broke out into loud shouting matches and none had become physical; the Chekist made sure of that. Messengers from various factions, merchant, bureaucrat, and followers came and went but it was Harbor Master Radii Synvaslisa who seemed to be surrounded by a constant stream of them. The Seneschal kept glancing toward the Dwarves and then Minister Petre Von Skvortskov and thought about the last message of fighting on the streets of the warehouse district and wondered briefly who was raiding Erengrad and whether to inform the Minister about the small skirmish or battle happening. The Seneschal decided it was the Chekist’s job to keep the peace and inform the Minister but he if they were Dwarves were somehow involved. He shook that thought out of his head and made his way toward the Minister and the Dwarf lord only to see that the senior Chekist of Erengrad was also mirroring his actions. Something was definitely wrong but had no idea what.

Like his fellow Chekist, the Dwarves bodyguards who accompanied Lord Hergar were well aware of the undercurrents within the grand hall or at least that was what the Chekist Captain Boris Dazhdalev thought and he was seldom wrong. He noted that two of the Dwarves were circling the hall under the pretense of getting more food and drink, but they looked more like predators as their slow deadly walk took them near several groups of his fellow Gospodar Kislevites who were discussing events of the day and what trade contracts would benefit who and how to skim off some of the profits. There really was no reason for the two Dwarves to pretend to be getting more food or drink when there was a cloud of servers hovering at ones elbow, who would bring you anything you wanted; there was no escaping the servers. Then the two Dwarves stopped and one of them, the one in the heavy armor who looked about as tough as one of those Empire Steam Tanks, an Ironbreaker is what Lord Hergar had said seemed a bit agitated as he stared at Boyar Douko Jelavic who hailed Moraveny within the Eastern Oblast. Jelavic and his followers had been in Erengrad for several weeks seeking an appointment to meet Minister Petre Von Skvortskov and tonight was their first meeting. His sources did not trust them; they were to closed mouth, secretive, though so far they had done nothing to warrant being hauled in to the gulag for questioning. Boris shook his head wondering what had caught the Dwarves interest when the Ironbreaker said something to his comrade and took a step toward Boyar Jelavic and stopped only when the second Dwarf put his hand on his shoulder. With great reluctance the Ironbreaker turned away and they both started back toward their Lord taking a path directly through the middle of the hall and the crowd stepped out of their way, as they did they were followed closely by one of his undercover Chekist, a server.

The server reached Boris, handed him a drink and spoke quickly and quietly. “I heard Boyar Douko say the following; Dwarves of the Dark Lands are good allies. They forge swords, armor, and weapons. They ask only for slaves. I Douko have many slaves and his followers nodded in agreement as well as the Tilean trader, Julio. Then I heard the angry Dwarf say a word to his comrade;” then the severer muttered a single word, “Dum” and continued on. What kind of Dwarf word was Dum he thought to himself? Frowning Boris could not ever remember hearing that Norsca called the Dark Lands as he quickly looked for the Minister’s aged Archivist perhaps he would know the word and the Dark Lands.

Just as the Seneschal and Boris reached Minister von Skvortskov the doors to the hall were thrown open by three Chekist, two of which had a large wrapped bundle strung upon a pole which the two carried upon their shoulders; the third Chekist was shouting about Beastman invading Erengrad. Immediately the bodyguards throughout the hall formed a protective barrier around their Boyar’s, Lords, and Ladies. The ring of Dwarves and Chekist around Lord Hegar and the Minister was impenetrable and the Dwarves were the only ones I the hall that were armed but had yet to draw a weapon like everyone else. The tension in the hall had risen and a few of the Gospodar’s moaned and cried out in panic stricken voices about the End Times though the rest were stoic as orders were sent alerting the Tzarina’s Pulk even before there was confirmation of another invasion. All watched the three Chekist with their burden some hearing a strange weak chittering and a musky stench emanating from the rolled up sail cloth. The three Chekist stopped when they reached the barrier of bare steel surrounding Minister Von Skvortskov and the Norsca Dwarves, the Seneschal, Chekist Captain Boris Dazhdalev and Harbor Master Radii Synvaslisa who came over to see what was going on after all it was his harbor and its safety was his responsibility as well as a source of income, legal and ill-legal. The senior of the three Chekist stepped forward as his two comrades set their burden down and began to unroll the sail cloth.

“Captain Dazhdalev, Minister Von Skvortskov there was a major fight within the warehouse district between Chaos Beastman and Dwarves. We bring proof for we captured a strange Beastman.” The Chekist continued as he address his Chekist Superior first, then the Minister and Harbor Master. “At first we thought only that fighting had broken out between rival kyazak or thieves on the south side of the harbor beneath Vladimir’s General Goods or perhaps Harbor Master Radii Synvaslisa’s officials were enforcing the law” and he looked to his Captain and then to the Harbor Master before continuing. “But then there was several bursts of flame, the smell of burning wood, flesh, and hair which was not typical of a street fight between kyazaks. We went to investigate and the fight had spread from under the piers and the individual warehouse loading docks to the street level and that was when the people of the harbor district took to the streets to fight the invading Beastman. During the fight we three spotted this Beastman trying to escape and we captured it thinking to extract information as to the whereabouts of the horde.”

“Who were they fighting?” All three of the officials asked at the same time trying to figure out what was going on.

The lowly Chekist looked at the Dwarves standing with the Minister and turned back to his superior, “Captain Dazhdalev, they were fighting Dwarves.

Minister Von Skvortskov looked at Lord Hegar whose expression gave nothing away and the Petre turned back to the Chekist before him. “Dwarves, from where; Erengrad or,” and he looked back at Lord Hegar beside him, “our allies?”

“Speak, Viktor Vdovyn,” Captain Dazhdalev ordered when it looked like Viktor was hesitant about speaking further about the Dwarves.

Viktor was at a loss for to him all Dwarves looked alike plus it was dark. He took the easier path. “They were warriors, not soft like our merchant city Dwarves.”

Petre turned to Hegar, and asked quietly. “I supposed that the Dunderkarak is at anchor right now.” To which all he got was an affirmative nod. “We will speak more privately later if that is alright with you.” To which Lord Hegar nodded in affirmative. His King and Lord Drazhgrund had expected this eventuality and had he had come prepared with several proposals that would strengthen their Kislev allies and sooth any ruffled feathers.

Then Chekist Captain Boris looked to his Minister and they both nodded but it was the Harbor Master who told them to uncover the beast so they could see for themselves. Soon they had the creature uncovered and it was not so tall, but completely cloaked in tattered black cloak with a voluminous hood that hid its features. “Stand it up,” Boris ordered “and remove its hood so we may see what matter of creature you have brought us.”


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 31 March 2008 - 05:19 AM.





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