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Kraka Draka

a series of short stories

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#81 Skull Krusher

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 05:21 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Sixty Nine

Then everyone turned to the sound of the front doors as the Door Warden slammed his staff three times upon the ground and spoke. “Boyars, Boyarins, and Lords, I present Guildmaster Thurgrom Thyksnev of Clan Ironhand and Boyar Vaja Rybkin.” The two newcomers stalked across the hall like two deadly angry hungry snow leopards looking for any excuse to strike. Seeing that Harbor Master Radii Synvaslisa was standing with the Chekist Captain and the Minister they headed directly toward them. Guildmaster Thurgrom snatched two drinks from a waiter he passed, downed the drinks and tossed the cups to the next waiter without breaking stride.

Chekist Captain Boris eyes were centered on the two, both looked like they had just come from a fight with blood splattered armor and the blood grove on Boyar Rybkin’s sword still glistened with freshness as did the grayish curdlike substance that adhered to the Guildmaster’s massive warhammer. It was impossible not to notice Thurgrom’s hands. Thick short fingered, abundant calluses, a map of wrinkles, big knuckles – so much character in those hands. Nay no soft merchant Dwarf no matter what Viktor stated. Then the Dwarf spoke, shouting in near perfect Riekspiel interrupting Viktor and his fellow Chekist as they were about to remove the hood from the captive they held in their hands between them.

“Harbor Master Radii Synvaslisa I warned you, Boyar Rybkin warned you about the Thaggoraki. But all you did was laugh and said we had too much to drink. Well drink in the sight of this as he threw two severed heads of what appeared to be giant rats nearly the size of a human skull that no one had noticed that he was carrying and they rolled to stop at Radii’s feet.” Then Thorgrom turned to the minister and stated out loud for all to hear. “Petri, I sent you a letter warning you about this Skazi let it be known that I have entered this Skazi this kyazak, known as Radii Synvaslisa into Clan Ironhand’s Dammas Kron and if no one has not cleared out this warren of Thaggoraki within thirty days your name will be accompanying his for not doing your job to protect the people, city, and the port of Erengrad not to mention the commercial trade that is vital to all of Kislev.”

No one knew what a Dammas Kron was but everyone stood stunned by the vehemence of Thorgrom’s speech directed toward the officials of Erengrad but not so Lord Hegar and his Dawi bodyguards who nodded their approval. It was then that the three Chekist removed the hood from the captive and everyone looked upon the face of a Thaggoraki. The Kislevites were appalled by what they saw. It stood on two feet like a human, but was covered with fur with the head and face of a large rat with vicious looking teeth and hands with claws, nay talons and it was dressed in tattered filthy cloak or robes the looked to be human made. Radii Synvaslisa laughed, laughed out loud and so hard that tears came to his eyes. “This?” he stuttered spilling his drink much to the Dwarves disgust? “This is what you Dwarves are so worked up about. Put a few larger rodent traps out, this is nothing more than a Chaos mutated rodent of no consequence.” And he continued to laugh.

It was at that moment that the Thaggoraki kicked out with his claw like feet at one of his captors raking him from knee to ankle chittering loudly as the hold loosened on him. He jerked his hands free grabbed a knife from one of his captors, chittering “Kill, Kill, Kill humans and Dwarves!” as it gutted the closest Chekist spilling his entrails to the floor and slitting the throat of his other captor in a matter of several heartbeats. The Thaggoraki leaped toward the Harbor Master only to fall short as Thorgrom threw his warhammer at the Thaggoraki crushing the back of its skull. The Dawi Guildmaster stomped over and retrieved his warhammer and looked at Radii in the eyes. “Do not think just because I saved your worthless Skazi life that I will remove your name from the Dammas Kron.” He turned back toward his young friend Boyar Vaja Rybkin, “Come Vaja, we have a mess to clean up and I will never get the smell of Thaggoraki off my hammer. Perhaps a letter or a trip to the Tzarina complaining about Radii is in order.” And they both turned their backs and stalked back out of the room.

Silence prevailed for quiet some time as the Kislevites stood around looking at each other and began drinking again to remove the image of two nay three deaths before them, one deserved two that were not. “You sure that it is not some sort of Chaos Beastman?” Radii asked quietly, his bravo gone as he watched servants take away the bodies and scrub the floors clean.

“Nay, it is a Thaggoraki, what you humans call Skaven and it is a Clan Moulder warrior.” Algim Grundison the Ironbreaker stated. “If you are looking for the taint of Dum, look no further than that quiet group across the hall.”

“Who?” asked the Chekist Captain who looked toward Boyar Douko Jelavic of Moraveny. “Why do you say Jelavic is tainted with Chaos?”

“He reeks of an unseen stigmata.” the Ironbreaker stated flatly then Algrim looked to Lord Hegar who nodded for him to proceed. “You see the blade of this axe?” Chekist Captain Boris Dazhdalev looked hard at the blade of axe admiring the sheen the sharp deadliness and the intricate scrollwork and a large rune amidst the engraved scroll work that glowed with a pale light. Algim seeing that Boris saw the glow nodded. “It only glows when there are those who are tainted or corrupted by Dum are nearby and that group are the only one’s in the room that are tainted and if not for the honor of this court and my personal honor knots upon this weapon they would all be dead.” Then Algim turned his back and went back to the keg but kept his eye on Boyar Jelavic it galled him that the Dum Jelavic and his followers were still alive. How much longer he wondered since he caught the gleam in the Chekist’s eye.

(to be continued)


#82 Skull Krusher

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 04:19 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Seventy

It was little noted by those whose business and livelihood involved the inn that the fight between two rival kyazak gangs that the only casualties within the inn were those from Moraveny. In a letter sent to the Tzarina it was mentioned that when the bodies were readied for burial it was noted that on each of the bodies there was evidence of some sort of Chaos mutation. Some had an extra mouth or eye that was covered by layers of clothing and a couple had cloven feet. On the order of Chekist Captain Dazhdalev it was decided to burn the bodies.

*


Gorril the Loremaster of Kraka Drak paused in his reading of Lord Hergar’s mission report to take a drink of ale and too relight his pipe before continuing. Was the call for Vengryn satisfied he asked himself? How many dead Thaggoraki did it take did it take to strike through the grudge for the death of Dargo Kruddsniz for those of the Ironhand Clan or even the Vithang Guild; ten, twenty, or perhaps thirty? A Throng of sixty warriors along with a naval crew of thirty sailors and gunners aboard the Dunderkarak had steamed into the port of Erengrad under the cover of darkness and thwarted a Thaggoraki plot to poison the upcoming winter food supplies for the entire city as well as any food being exported. But in doing so Kraka Drak nearly severed or broke its’ diplomatic relations with Kislev its; long time ally. Yes Dargo Kruddsniz death had been avenged, the forty Thaggoraki killed under the Vladimir’s General Goods Warehouse met the number demanded by Karga, Dargo’s aunt. But what about the dead of the Throng?

Gorril noted that once the initial shock that what many in the hall thought to was just another Dum mutated beast or perhaps another rumor of monsters in the dark Minister Von Skvortskov called for an immediate meeting with the Western Oblast Chekist Captain, the general of the Tzarina’s Pulk within the Western Oblast, Radii, and of course Lord Hergar of Kraka Draka. One thing the Loremaster noted in his reading was the Von Skvortskov did not try to hide the nature of the threat. He had the Thaggoraki bodies gathered up and those that were not so dismembered or mutilated he had placed in large barrels of clear cold water and then let the cold climate of Kislev freeze the barrels solid. He then had the barrel staves removed and the ice blocks were put on display for the citizens of Erengrad could see the just what they were fighting. The Loremaster continued reading of what Lord Hergar, nay Sharpblade had to say about the Thaggoraki.

“All honorable decent people have one thing in common; they all find rats repulsive and perhaps evil. Rats are the harbingers of disease that have laid waste to whole populations. They scavenge through our waste heaps and live within the sewers frightening and killing the weak and the strong. What is far worse is they have the cunning of warlord and the intellect of an engineer which they use to advance the desires to the Great Horned Rat, a demon out of Dum. The Thaggoraki are the dark side of everyone’s soul who come to destroy us all!” The Loremaster knew that if Lord Hergar had spoken such words anywhere within Altdorf or in any of the other major cities of the Empire he would have been burned at the stake like another individual who tried to warn the Empire of the Skaven.

It was after that meeting that a new armed Pulk of Erengrad was formed and became known as Thaggoraki Hunters. With the information provided by the Chekist whose contacts throughout the city and country provided detailed accounting of when and where the Skaven had been seen or evidence of their comings and goings. But the first the Pulk did was cleanout the underside, the piers and docks of Erengrad. The harder part was finding all the old cellars that the new city had been built over the ruins after the last Chaos incursion. It was here that the expertise of Kraka Drak Throng came into use. It was there in the forgotten underground cellars that ran beneath the city of Erengrad that the fighting was its fiercest and the Umgi of Kislev fought right along side and in the end they prevailed but not without casualties as the Thaggoraki Hunters fought Thaggoraki and Skazi. Gorril closed the report and gave it to his apprentice for inclusion into the archives of Kraka Drak.


* * *

Edited by Skull Krusher, 16 April 2008 - 03:00 AM.


#83 Skull Krusher

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 01:13 AM

Kraka Drak - Party Seventy One

He was cold, wounded, maimed, and near death. The city was far to the southwest and he was utterly alone and he spend more time looking over his shoulder than traveling. He would have traveled by night but the daylight was warmer though not nearly as safe. He limped along his left foot was numb, dead, and festering and he had been without adequate food longer than he could remember. In desperation he managed to slice off the dead portion and consumed it he was so hungry. He would have eaten his right arm except that he lost it when the Dwarven axe cut it off at the elbow. If not for the unexpected eruption of flame that seared and sealed his stump, burned most of the sleek black hair that had been exposed he would have died of blood loss. But the same explosive fire that saved his life and burned his cloak also tossed him into the river. He should have died except the river swept him upstream by the incoming tidal surge and deposited him upon a spit of sand outside the walls of the harbor and the city. The sun has risen so many times he had lost track long how long he had been on the move trying to return to H-e-l-l Pit to report the death and destruction of the pack. Unbeknownst to him he was already well within the strongholds sphere of influence and his troubles were soon to be over as his feverish waking dreams of warmth and food overwhelmed him.

“Dead, dead soon he be!” the clan-rat warrior said to his Pack Master. “We kill, kill now?”

It was a dreary cold windy day not a bit of warmth from the sun and he was bored. Perhaps a little sport could liven up the day the Pack Master thought. Turning toward the clan-rat who had spoken, he wondered if his position as Pack Master was threatened by this over zealous subordinate. He would bear watching he thought and then gave his orders. “Catch, Catch, not kill. Bring here.” The Pack Mastered ordered not wanting to leave the warm fire amongst the rocks as he waited.

He did not have long to wait as four clan-rats came bustling back toward the warmth of the fire with their pathetic bundle more dead than alive. He himself would have killed the obvious deserter except for the fact that instead of running away from H-e-l-l Pit he had been heading directly toward the stronghold leaving a trail that a blind human could followed and ordered two handfuls of rats to back track and remove all evidence of the trail for an equivalent of three days. Then he turned his attention to the clan-rat at his feet and was about to kill the clan-rat and add him to the stew pot when he began ranting and raving about the destruction of his Pack Master and fellow clan-rat warriors by sea dwarves. Showing mercy was not his norm but he ordered that the wounded clan-rat be given water and fed; and perhaps he could tell them more for surely this was a matter for his Grey Seer who advised Clan Moulder. As the rest of the pack continued to follow his orders to watch for intruders he himself cared for the wounded clan-rat in order to learn as much as he could. It was well that he did for the clan-rat died early the following night but not before divulging more information that a Clan Moulder Pack Master and his entire pack had been destroyed by dwarves who had come from the sea and the only Dwarf stronghold that had a seaport was Karak Varr and that was what he was going to tell the Grey Seer and he looked forward for a reward.

* * *

Edited by Skull Krusher, 16 April 2008 - 03:03 AM.


#84 Skull Krusher

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 06:05 AM

Kraka Drak - Part Seventy Two

Work had started nearly 1,000 years ago during the rein of King Mordin the 41st King of Kraka Draka and 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 entire lives to carving an entire mountain of granite both inside and outside into a Thryng. A Drengi-Endrinkuli who had flown over Norsca in the Spirit of Grungni knew just how well miners and stonemasons of Kraka Draka had carved out the mountain and had reported to Karak Kadrin about the mountain that looked like a giant runic war-hammer, Grungni’s warhammer.

Now the Thryng had been finally completed and it had been built to look like a giant warhammer lying upon its side with the chapel at the hammer’s head as the throng spread out along the length of the haft. A haft with towering columns on either side from as far as the eye could see were all alike. Each column was shaped and intricately carved to represent a series of massive two headed warhammers alternating from being upright with the hammer head against the distant vaulted ceiling to the next with the hammer head resting on the mosaic patterned floor with the end of the haft disappearing into the darkness of the distant ceiling. Between each hammer shaped columns stood statues representing past Drak-Hammer warriors that had fallen in battle defending their king and hold. At the head of the Thryng to the left and right of the altar were the statues of past Drak-Hammer Lords and Thanes and Shield Bearers. Upon the walls of the whole Thryng was a bas relief outline of the mountains of Kraka Drak and Norsca as seen from atop Mount Sjoktraken. Behind the altar was a single smaller upright hammer shaped column inlaid with precious gems and carved with Dwarven runes and the personal rune of the ancestor god Grungni. The altar was in the shaped of a hammer head and it too had its share of runes, gems, and precious inlaid metal. Even though the Thryng was empty it echoed sound, the sound of battle, hammer against metal, hammer against a world of enemies. The constant beat of the hammer and the drum echoed. There was no peace to be found here in the Temple, only the resoluteness that peace could only be found through a strength of arms and the will and the desire to use that strength. It was all here.

The huge twin doors of the Thryng swung slowly open and two hundred and fifty Drak-Hammers in a large column of twos entered and their thread was in unison and the sound of their footfalls echoed amongst the tall columns creating a sound of a mighty marching throng going off to battle. The closer they came to the end of the haft the louder their steps became. Then without a spoken word the column split in two and one hundred and twenty-five Drak-Hammers stood beside the columns and statues facing each other down the entire length of the Thryng haft, standing motionless in their finest tunics and with their helms, weapons, and armor all polished and shined till each reflected the lights from the hanging lanterns that hung throughout the Thryng like a glittering pile of sparkling gems. Their beards and hair had been combed and braided in the traditional Drak-Hammer Grindal weave and festooned with gold and silver clasps or rings; and all with various runes and engravings. Each Drak-Hammer held his two handed war-hammer at the ready and with their shields slung across their backs they stood silently waiting.

A section of wall behind the altar split apart soundlessly and three figures appeared within the now revealed doorway and moved to stand behind the altar facing the two columns of Drak-Hammers and the shut doors of the Thryng off in the distance. The wall section behind the three silently closed behind them and not a seam could be seen where the doorway had been. They stood waiting in silence just as the Drak-Hammers before them stood silently waiting yet the Thryng was far from quiet. The slow ponderous beat of Hammer against steel could be heard and felt by all as well as the occasional sound of the drum or horn calling the throng to battle.

*


He had been summoned from the training compound where he had been instructing Deb Warriors with little or no warning to report to the Warrior’s Guild Master and that had been over six marks ago and even then he half feared that bad news about his kin awaited him. Instead Lord Kazadar ordered him to clear out his quarters and to report to Grund Thryng more commonly caused Drakk Grund Khaz or Dragon Hammer Hall. With all his belongings left in the keeping of his father’s sister’s son he quickly began cleaning and polishing his weapons and armor as his own sister combed and braided his beard and hair in the traditional clan weave. None of his family knew why he had been summoned.

The why would be soon answered and as he stood outside the doors of Grund Thryng Borkas Alricson of Clan Ironhand wondered if the sixty five years spent as a warrior or the Warrior’s Guild was over. In over eighteen hundred years he, Borkas had served longer within the ranks of the Warrior’s Guild than any of his prior ancestor kin. Most had been slain or maimed in battle against the Dum Hordes and could no longer stand in a line of battle, shoulder to shoulder forming an impenetrable shield wall. Instead they became weapon trainers, craftsman, or if they were able they stood guard duty within the many lookout posts throughout Kraka Drak.

As he stood there waiting and thinking the massive doors of Grund Khaz swung silently open by unseen hands and he heard a commanding voice; “Enter!”

(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 30 April 2008 - 02:25 AM.


#85 AllOutDumb

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 04:36 PM

I had a couple of great hours reading your story in some steps. I think I´m not alone if I´d say:

Get a publisher and have the story released when it´s done!

#86 Skull Krusher

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 02:29 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Seventy Three

As he stood there waiting and thinking the massive doors of Grund Khaz swung silently open by unseen hands and he heard a commanding voice; “Enter!”

Borkas Alricson of Clan Ironhand was momentarily stunned – frozen in place by the commanding power of the voice and he remembered when he had last heard it. It had been nearly twelve years ago upon the death of King Thorgard when the king had mustered the Throng to stop a Chaos Horde. It had been a winter battle he remembered: We heard them before we saw them coming out of the blowing snow like ghosts upon the wind. The rattle of the armor, the jingle of harnesses the sounds of bellowed commands, the crunching of heavy shod feet upon the snow, and the whinnying of their mounts could be heard above the sound of the wind. Then Borkas shook his head at the memory: Of two Chaos chariots pulled by fell beasts that may at one time may or may have not been steppe horses. They had charged the line; one was shattered by a well placed bolt thrower shot the other continued on crashing into the Ironhand Clansman. He remembered it all: The din of battle and then Borkas heard a cry of despair and I looked to the sound and it was from the Ironhand standard bearer. All I heard was “the King is…” But still I fought on we all did. Knowing that if I or any of the clan ran the whole line would collapse so we closed ranks and fought back with a vengeance. Then Borkas remembered seeing the Chaos Knight on horseback flee and run from the battle and that was when he saw King’s kinsman commanding the Drak-Hammers who came charging in from the side: Lords Drazhgrund’s great hammer smashing the chariot driver and rider into a bloody heap. He then leaped from atop the shield grasp the side of the chariot and single handedly heaved and flipped it over onto its side as harnesses snapped and as we Ironhand clansman killed the horses. Only then did Borkas have time to look and he saw his own Thane and King upon the blood stained snow covered ground: Under the chariot lay our clansman’s Thane and King Thorgard’s broken body, bloody bubbles upon his lips. I saw Lord Drazhgrund place his ear to the king’s mouth and the king grasped his kinsman, his clan’s Throngrink. They clasp forearms and then he places the king’s weapon in his mailed fist and closes the king’s eyes. Lord Drazhgrund said that the King had honored our Clan when he chose to fight within the ranks of Ironhand. We were proud but his death turned our pride into shame; but that voice, that same voice that said “Enter” took our shame saying that we, Ironhand was honored further by our actions as we stood resolute fighting back . Then Lord Drazhgrund honored us further by allowing us to lock our shields together to carry King Thorgard back to Kraka Drak upon our shoulders with the banner of Ironhand covering the King’s body.

But all that was in the past and it flashed through Borkas’ mind as he took the first step upon hearing Lord Drazhgrund’s command to enter the Thryng. His first step was the hardest for he would be joining the King’s Drak-Hammers, to swear an oath to the King’s Clan and to the King himself leaving behind his life as a member of the Warrior’s Guild. It was the hardest first step he had ever taken and it was not unlike many he had taken throughout his life and as he entered Drak-Hammer Hall his eyes gleamed and his heart resolutely beat in unison with the sound of the unseen drum, and the clash of arms. He looked neither left nor right at the long line of veteran Drak-Hammers who would soon be his brother-in-arms; instead he focused on the three figures standing behind the altar. King Thorin was in the center and to his right stood the Priest of Grungni and to his left stood Lord Drazhgrund. It seemed to take an eternity to reach the hammer head altar that rested upon the raised four stepped dais that represented the four ancestor gods. Borkas knew he had nothing to fear for he had already been judged and if they had found him wanting he would not be here today.

When he reached the bottom most step Borkas went to one knee and held his two handed warhammer in the palm of his hands parallel with the floor, offering his weapon to the king.

(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 30 April 2008 - 02:32 AM.


#87 Skull Krusher

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 01:03 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Seventy Four

Lord Drazhgrund stepped away from the king and walked down the steps toward Borkas and stopped just above him and reached down and accepted the warhammer for the king and returned to his side. King Thorin took Borkas’ weapon and examined it sensing the quality of the craftsmanship of the long dead Runesmith who had made the warhammer and was pleased. He drew his own warhammer from across his back and held both weapons together so that they crossed before his body as if parrying or blocking an attack. “Borkas, son of Alrik are you ready to swear?” King Thorin asked without turning knowing full well that the Priest of Grungni was prepared to record Borkas’ oath. Borkas nodded. “Step forward and give your Oath.” Borkas took a deep breath and walked up the four steps to stand before the altar. Reaching across the altar with one hand and grasped both weapons where they crossed together forming an unbreakable bond and then he spoke:

“I, Borkas, son of Alrik Ragnison and Karlea Tarnidottier of the Ironhand Clan, swear to you Thorin, King of Kraka Draka, that from this moment forward I will be faithful to you with regard to your life, and to all members of Clan Durazklad, in good faith and without deception. I will be faithful to you concerning Kraka Draka, and the territories that belongs to it within Norsca Ankor. Neither Kraka Draka nor the territories of the Norsca Ankor will I seize from you, not I, nor any Dawi or any other enemy, acting by my advice or instigation. I will help you to hold, have and defend against all who might wish to seize or deprive you of all these. All this I swear before the Brotherhood of Hammers, the Priest of Grungni, Lord Drazhgrund, the Thane of the Brotherhood, and to you King Thorin Thorgardson my King.” As Borkas swore his oath he wondered how this oath differed from his clan and guild oaths and quickly realized this oath was no different than the others for they were all based on one unbreakable Dawi concept; and that was Honor.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 02 May 2008 - 01:04 AM.


#88 Skull Krusher

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 02:04 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Seventy Five

This little short story was inspired by the mention of Sven, Arkat, and a certain other famous engineer in a couple lines in an old Dawi Codex as well as Stone and Steel mentioning a successful Dawi expedition to Lustria and the connection to Norsca Dawi. Enjoy.

***


The room had a high vaulted ceiling and was light and airy; its twin arched shaped windows open to catch the early evening breeze. It was a richly decorated the room of someone with both wealth and taste. Books stood in shelves and fine tapestries hung on the highly polished granite walls. Here and there were odd pieces of art; paintings and sculptures, most of a martial theme, some not. In one windowless corner upon a dark wood table stood several small statues of warriors the type popular in Grungni Temple decoration among the mountain strongholds. Hanging upon the walls are a few different kinds of warhammers and battleaxes and several suits of armor were displayed around the room; along with axes or hammers of differing types and sizes, a gilded belt, a crossbow, even an a winged helmet. The room spoke more about the occupant than he himself ever would.

The current Jeweler’s Guild Master of this room stood near one of the vaulted windows overlooking the harbor. He was tall, more so than most of his race, but not so tall that they would remark upon it. His raven black hair was just starting to frost with grey and he wore it in the traditional merchant Grindal weave. His beard was just as black as his hair and it too was woven into many intricate braids each with numerous gold clasps and rings decorated with twinkling rubies that match the scarlet and gold robes of a Guild Master jewelry merchant. He stood straight with his corded muscular hands lightly held behind his broad back one holding a letter, seemingly at ease. Displays of emotion, like displays of power, were given only to further his goals. It was never his habit to impress. And yet, even those who had only spent less than a quarter-mark with the ranking Jeweler’s Guild Master of Marienberg came away with an impression of balanced power, control, and physical prowess.

Arkat Fooger had just finished rereading one of two letters that had arrived today, the first from Kraka Draka and the second from Karaz-a-Karak; both remarkably were about the same subject. He had just finished rereading the second letter for the forth time and it was not the first time that he had thought the former associate and friend of Sven Hasselfrieson had lost more than just his left arm; to be precise Arkat thought that he had also lost a great deal of common Dawi sense. The first letter dealt with inquires about certain Norsca crewmembers and the answer to both would be the same, he did not know.

Arkat handed the letter to his cousin Karstin Largsdottir who was one of his many factors throughout the Empire as he marshaled his thoughts thinking back to 2498 I.C. when Sven had hastily departed Barak Varr after the Endrinkuli Hengist of clan Cragbrow alerted the Endrinkuli’s Guild of Karaz-a-Karak of Sven’s continuing engineering experimentation. If truth be told the Cragbrow Clan was furious that Sven had designed and developed a new engine powered by alcohol vapors and his invention threatened the Cragbrow Clan’s stranglehold on Barak Varr’s surface ship design. So Sven ran. But not before he outfitted his new engine onto a ship of Sven’s design and departed Barak Varr with a handful of followers and after many months steamed into the port of Marienberg. Once in port Sven proceeded to modify his ship the best he could without a full workshop or dry dock facilities.

Arkat smiled to himself. It had been a very profitable friendship and business arrangement he thought to himself. He had helped obtain the workshops and materials for Sven in exchange for exclusive right to sell Sven’s inventions. Some of the inventions were a little strange or illicit like the warp-fire distillery, the steam powered radio-phone, and the aerial wonder rocket. Well at least the rocket project had brought in more gold than most Endrinkuli see in a life time all because the Empire purchased the plans for the aerial wonder rocket and their own engineers modified the plans and built a rocket artillery war machine for the Emperor’s Army. Only time would tell if the other inventions would be as profitable.

He went to the sideboard and poured himself a full tankard of beer, repacked his pipe, relit it and began to smoke as he took a pause in his thinking. Karstin was still reading so he turned to the far wall and looked at the map that was displayed there for his use. It showed all the many overseas trade routes used by his many trading concerns as well as the continent of Lustria on one edge of the map. Other maps showed caravan routes and where all his major trading houses were in each of the Old World’s cities. He wondered about Sven and his ship and what they had found. The proceeds from their financial arrangements helped Sven completely outfit ship for an expedition to Lustria. As he recalled Sven had recruited a Norsca Dawi Berserker by the name of Juggo Jorikson as his first mate and body guard and with Joggo’s help he assembled an entire crew of Norsca Dawi and Norsca Umgi. One of his own distant kin joined the expedition more to keep an eye on his investment than for the adventure since he underwrote much of the expedition’s cost in exchange for a percentage of anything of value obtained by Sven and or his crew.

Hearing his Dawikin’s sound of exasperation over the contents of the letter Arkat spoke: “What is your opinion?”

“I think Burkok and the rest of the Endrinkuli’s Guild as a whole act as if they are a bunch of drunken Boki who have nothing better to do than Bok them selves all day long turning their brains into a mixture of Rutz and Slotch.” Karstin’s eyes glared brightly at her kin daring him do say otherwise as she continued. “They seem to think it is our duty to Karak Ankor to cease making a profit and to turn over all of Sven’s and our own Endrinkuli inventions. They the Endrinkuli’s Guild expects us to follow its orders when we Dawi have no true Karak other than where our ancestors came from, karaks more often than not were overrun by invading Urks, just to satisfied their closed minded ego’s; Arkat, they must have been all sired by Urk to be so Doh to think we would follow their orders. What have Karaz-a-Karak ever done for Dawi who have no home karak?” She stated in a piqué of anger usually held for those who are nothing more than worthless Skaz. “We do not follow the High King of Karaz-a-Karak orders for we have no king.”

“Now lass that is no way to speak of our Dawi kin,” Arkat admonished her with a smile “Even though I agree with you in this case. Still it would be nice to know where and how Sven is doing. We have heard nothing but rumors, and those are years old.”

“Yes; and all these rumors generate more expeditions to Lustria all for the search of gold.” Karstin smiled, “Expeditions that our clan has financed. Still other rumors say that he and his ship returned from Lustria loaded down with treasure. No know knows the whole truth.”


***

Edited by Skull Krusher, 06 May 2008 - 12:49 AM.


#89 Skull Krusher

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 05:16 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Seventy Six

(something a little different)

They stood in the street just outside the double-doors which was his goal these last months. He felt twenty years older than his eighty years and he had not always been this old or this exhausted. In his youth Boyar Vanya Borissavich Kaminski had been one of the great captains of the Tzarina’s Winged Lancers but that was long ago. Vanya had also been the Burmistrz of Novehozy a staniztsa some seven days east of Volksgrad. But even that was gone, not to the slow passing of time but to the Chaos Horde. He was now just another aged landless Boyar with no followers or retinue other than his Darya, his daughter, and they were the only two survivors of all the combatants in the destruction of Novehozy.

Every day since that battle nearly five months in the past he thanked Ursun that he ordered his blade master, his Drovaska to instruct Darya. Douko Novosi if he had lived would have been proud to see what those long years of training had wrought. Vanya’s body shook at the memory of the Chaos Hordes marching westward out of the High Pass that cut through World’s Edge Mountains only to turn south towards Novehozy. While many wisely fled like they had done in the past to Volksgrad those few who remain in the staniztsa did what they could to further fortify the low walls meant only to keep wild beasts out of Novehozy as the staniztsa’s warriors formed into ranks to meet the onslaught of the horde.

Even now as they stood outside the door waiting to take the last step in their journey together he could little shake away the memory. Looking down at Darya Kaminsky who looked no taller than a young girl of twelve to fourteen winters despite being nearly thirty-five no one would recognize her now bundled all in furs like some rich Boyar’s child to that warrior who fought along side him. The memory would be with him to the end of his days; the smell of smoke, spilt blood, and the dead of Novehozy. Then he remembered: Darya laughing as she unleashed her axes and went running toward the enemy with her axe wielding Kossars in her wake. A roar arose from the opposing lines as fighters on both sides charged and collided like two great dragons ramming each other. The first Chaos Warrior swung a halberd at Darya and she disemboweled him, almost in passing, and moved on to the next one. She sliced and cut, her axe blade’s biting like two steel bears with hungry mouths, and no matter how much Chaos flesh they consumed, it failed to satisfy their hunger. Then he saw nothing, felt nothing. All melted into the scent and warmth of blood, the freezing wind, and the sound of battle. It was a fight to the death for no quarter was give much less asked for and then the battle was over and there was only one warrior standing and it was Darya, who fought over his wounded body guarding it from further harm as he gazed into the eyes of his dead battle standard bearer who still clutched the flag of Novehozy upright in dead hands. The banner continued to wave; but it was a shallow victory.

No one survived within the broken shattered walls of Novehozy, and the keep and the homes were nothing more than burnt broken husks. Those that had fled, Vanya and Darya found them much later slaughtered to the very last, man, woman, and child. It took nearly a week before he was able to move around and then it took even longer to burn the bodies of both defender and attacker alike. Salvaging what coin, weapons, food, and supplies they could find they loaded their horses and rode west to Volksgrad where they sold all but two of their mounts and took passage down the River Lynsk to Praag, Bolgasgrad, and finally to Erengrad five long months later. Not once did he tell Darya why his goal was Erengrad until they pulled into the docks and their mounts were stabled and they themselves were safely ensconced in clean rooms within a respectable inn called Ursun’s Hammer and long after they eaten, bathed, and dressed in clothing befitted a Kislev Boyar and his kin did he speak.

Darya patiently waited. She knew that her father was struggling with what he had to say and she was content to wait and in her waiting she thought of her mother, the kind gentle woman who raised her and loved her as if Darya was her own daughter. She was not her mother just as she knew Vanya was not her father though for thirty five years they treated her as such. She still grieved for the loss of Anna who died one cold winter night some ten years ago. The only mother she had ever known was gone and it still hurt. Just as it she knew it would hurt when Vanya breathed his last. She could see the end was near and wondered what would have happened if he had died with all the others back in Novehozy. Without Vanya she had no one, no one to guard her back in battle, no one to laugh with over a pitcher of ale, no one to mourn her own passing, no one at all. She watched her father who was not her father as she sat cleaning her weapons, armor, and what little clothing they had managed to scavenge. The rest they purchased in Bolgasgrad so as to make a favorable impression. But on whom?

As Vanya looked out the window at the Carrier’s Guild and the Goldsmith’s Hall that was just down the hill he turned away from the window but not before closing and securing the shutters. Then he made sure the door to their room was still locked and even placed a chair up against the door under the door handle before going to his room and then came back carrying a large pack which he set on the table between them before sitting down. He unbuckled the straps that secured the pack and removed numerous items wrapped in supple soft leather and finally he spoke.

“In 778 Praag fell to the forces of Chaos though some say the date was 2302 depending on what calendar you use.” Darya looked at her father wondered what this had to do with her and would have spoken but Vanya continued. “But in any case back then I lead the Winged Lancers” and when he said this Darya saw his eyes sparkle once again with youth. “We were on our way back to Novehozy from the last Battle of Grovod where with the help of the Norscan Dwarves from Kraka Draka as well as other allies we defeated the Chaos Horde.”

Darya assumed that the wrapped bundles were treasure from the battle and waited patiently for him to finish. But one thing bothered her. Her parents never spoke of Dwarves before; and when they did they only said that they were Kislev’s staunchest allies, fierce warriors, and loyal and honest to a fault and held a grudge long past time when others would have shrugged it off as ancient history. She wondered what they looked like but no one in Novehozy would tell her or if they knew they were told never to mention them. Still it vexed her that she knew so little about them other from snatches of conversation she had overheard about them being shorter than humans with long beards that reached to the ground. Darya wondered if the beard and long hair got in the way of fighting, hers would if she had not braided it and bound it up so not be used as a weapon against her. Then she realized her father was still speaking.

“We were two day away, almost home when we cut sign of some kind of Horde, be it Orcs or Chaos warriors we knew not. There did not appear to be that many of them more a large raiding or scouting party than anything else so we turned west toward the World’s Edge Mountain. We heard the sound of battle before we saw it and quickly rode towards it and as we did we heard the sound of a battle horn and knew that it was not the sound of an Orc or Chaos Horn and it called for help. Onward we rode in hopes of rendering assistance but was all for naught. As we charged into the clearing we saw a single lone Dwarf warrior making a stand amongst some boulders fighting fell warriors of Chaos. They had the Dwarf encircled and they kept coming enclosing him in an ever tightening circle of flesh and steel. So stunned were we could do nothing but watch as Dwarf killed like a well forged blade or Empire killing machine. The Dwarf mowed them down like so much wheat, and he did it unthinking, unrepentant, and oh so quiet compared to the screams and yells of his enemy. My Drovaska, Douko Novosi and I saw maneuvers with those deadly axes that we cold only dream about.” When she heard her father mention the axes and Douko training her Darya looked at the axes that she had just finished cleaning and oiling and began to wonder who had made them for they were like no other axes in all of Novehozy then she picked up the thread of her father’s words. “Every cut found a victim and we thought the killing would go on and on forever. The ground around the Dwarf grew slippery with the life blood of his enemies and slowly a ring of slaughtered bodies began to grow around him. Then suddenly the enemy had enough or perhaps they sense our presence and fled the destruction of those two axe blades. The spell that seemed to hold us transfixed was broken and we continued our charge as we ran the remaining enemy down, killing them all and then returned.” Darya saw that Vanya was crying, tears coursed down his weathered wrinkled cheeks to disappear into his white beard and wondered why. “I dismounted and I made my way across that hillock of dead to find the Dwarf sitting slumped against a large rock that hid a crevasse that was deep enough to enclose two packs. One was this pack and the other was a small fur wrapped buddle. The Dwarf was bleeding from so many wounds and was dying and there was naught I could have done to keep death at bay. But the Dwarf held the bundle in his arms looked me in the eyes without saying a word. I knew what was being asked without a word being said for I could hear what he held and I nodded yes and then the Dwarf died. Darya to this day I swear that I heard the sound of a Dwarven horn and the sound of solders marching away. Several of us did but we saw nothing only heard the horn and the tread of a mighty host. My men carried the Dwarfs body and placed it on one of our mounts for by general consensus amongst the Winged Lancers was to intern the body in Novehozy alongside the rest of our fallen dead for what better way to honor a fallen warrior? So I carried you in my arms for two days before arriving back to Novehozy. You drank mare’s milk and on the last day we captured a doe reindeer and her fawn and you consumed her milk as well. Then my Anna who still nursed Alexi, your brother took you into her arms and you became my daughter.”

Then Vanya stopped speaking and there were a million questions Darya wanted to ask but did not know which to ask except to say: “Thank you” as she reached across the table and held his hand. “Do you know where the Dwarf came from? Was he kin?” Darya asked not wanting to ask if the Dwarf was her father for her real father sat across the table, he who had raised her, loved her like his own flesh and blood.

“I do not know if he was kin. He may have been, I just do not know. The necklace around your neck bears the same emblem that was on his armor. It could be a clan symbol, no one knows but the Dwarves. As to where he came from, again I do not know. I had heard from others scouts that a group of Dwarves were searching for a Dwarven hold of Karak Vlagg, but that hold disappeared or was destroyed much like Novehozy was about the same time or a little before I found you.”

“Why are we here father?” Darya asked almost afraid of the answer.

“I am taking you home, to the Dwarves,” and with that Vanya shed even more tears.

*


One hundred and seventy three years later Finn Harokson of Clan Oakenstave walked beside his wife, Alrika Daryadottier. They, their son and daughter, fellow clan members, and representing King Thorin was Lord Drazhgrund Kartinson and Kari Katrindottier of Clan Durazklad who followed behind the Priests of Gazul who carried the sarcophagus bearing the likeness of Darya Annadottier Kaminski on the lid was laid to rest next to her father Vanya Borissavich Kaminski within the clan tombs deep within the heart of Kraka Draka.


* * *

Edited by Skull Krusher, 22 May 2008 - 12:27 AM.


#90 Perv

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 11:29 AM

Crikey this will take a while to read !!! I think I will wait til I grab my printer outta the loft and do via paper as its so in depth. Hat off to ya mate !!!!

#91 Skull Krusher

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 04:00 AM

Kraka Draka- Party Seventy Seven


* * *


She was upset and angry over the death of her former mentor and training partner Darya and despite several candle-marks worth of axe and shield work on the Drak-Hammer’s training grounds did little to work off the aggression in her demeanor and decided on a drink. But the closer she got to the Rusty Harpoon doors the louder the bickering became. She almost reached for her axe but instead just clinched her fist and continued on. It had been months since she sat down for a quiet beer of Bugman’s finest. Quietly she opened the door, nodded to the observant bartender and headed for an empty bar stool at the end of the bar rather than try to find an empty chair within the common room or any of the smaller drinking halls off the main room. She had barely sat down when a full tankard was set before her. She unclenched her fist flexing her fingers several times before looking at Florin behind the bar who just shrugged apologizing for the noise without saying a word. She downed it in one long pull and nodded for another. This one she would sip and enjoy. It was then she noticed the reek, not the stale beer which there was hardly any, or the tabac smoke, or the smell of unwashed bodies; it was the smell of Umgi and it directly corresponded to the loud constant bickering and sniping coming from one of the side drinking halls. Her child was quieter than this Umgi lout. Frustrated she thought about a Dar but realized that every Dawi in the inn would interfere and Drazhgrund would hear of it and so too would the King. She continued to sip.

Noticing the axe room was empty she requested a double rack of throwing axes and a constant recharge for her tankard as she made her way across the room. She recognized several of the patrons and nodded to them as she passed. Pushing the doors to the axe room open she set the rack upon the table as well as her tankard. Two beardlings rushed into the room, one was carrying a tray full of tankards and the other started lighting the lanterns that illuminated the long narrow room that was 15 paces wide by 50 paces long. The floor, back wall, and the last section of side walls of the room had been lined in thick oak and the back wall had an Umgi size target painted on the wall. She finished her second tankard, and began throwing the axes at the target. All twelve axes hit the target, thump, thump, thump, thump in quick succession. As the beardling retrieved the axes she started on another tankard and when the beardling handed her the axes she threw them again. Thump, thump, thump, thump in quick succession all the axes once again hitting the target. She and the beardling repeated the process five more times before she acknowledged that she was drawing a crowd, she was only waiting for the right moment and it came just as she knew it would. She heard the lout above the rest of the patrons and his voice rang loud and clear, opinionated, arrogant, and obnoxious and she so wished she could silence it forever. The she heard his comment towards one of the onlookers, “Why do you let your females handle weapons, especially those who do not know how to use them?” She picked up her tenth full tankard downed it in one long pull, took the dozen throwing axes from the beardling and threw them again; thump, left ankle severed, thump, right ankle severed, thump right hand severed, thump left hand severed, followed by eight more thumps in quick succession that hit the target in the crotch and drew a line of axes upward all the way to the targets forehead where the last axe struck deeply into the wall. She picked up her own axe slung it across her shoulder, and walked out but not before downing yet another tankard of Bugman’s finest and headed back to the royal compound. She hoped he got the hint, the others most assuredly did, but she doubted the Umgi lout understood the point she was making. It mattered not as she walked calmly no longer angry out of the Rusty Harpoon followed by her King’s Drak-Hammer bodyguard.

* * *

Edited by Skull Krusher, 23 May 2008 - 04:05 AM.


#92 Skull Krusher

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 01:00 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Seventy Eight

Kettra Valadottier, unlike her twin sister Kalea liked the quietness of the archives of Kraka Draka. Gorril the Loremaster, had told the class that to understand and know the history of Kraka Draka and Dawi they had to read what was in the archives. She just shook her head at that suggestion for surely if she lived to be as old as her clan’s Throngrink she would never finish because the archives were immense. But Kettra was confused by a great many of the krons. Some were written on precious metal or even troll or drak hide and they had been told that the language of Dawi, known as Khazalid remained pure, unchanged over the long millennia unlike the other races languages. But what she found upon the stone shelves today were ancient accounts written by some obscure Runescribe. Kettra was not sure if what was written was historical or conjecture despite the carefully drawn map but it still seemed like a waste of good gold for some thing that was purely beyond belief or false to be written about one of her long dead ancestors who had died before even Lord Drazhgrund had held his first warhammer. Still it was interesting reading and as she slowly turned the pure gold pages as she read Kettra could not imagine a Drak with a Dawi husband and wondered how the two of them could have been drawn together despite their love of gold and the Dawi’s imperviousness to heat. Then there was the poem that was supposedly written by a female Drak upon the cavern walls.

Bronzed muscles rippling beneath thy braided beard,
Soot-darkened by the fires of my heart.
Across thy chest my silvery claws have seared:
I have marked thee; from me thou shall not part.
From my great height I gaze upon thy form,
Thy small frame dwarfed by flickering crimson scales;
Upon thy mount, my flames shall keep thee warm,
Against Nature's will, our burning love prevails.
The cool steel of thy axe against my breast
Thy sturdy haft becomes a burning brand.
Thy Dawi scent I would not dare protest,
Nor ale-soaked breath: my fiery passion's fanned.

Gaze into the hottest of all fires,
Dark eyes smoldering with deep desires.



When Kettra had finished reading she was slightly flushed and decided to show this particular Kron to Kalea, Lord Drazhgrund’s wife. Then she continued to read on and found that the poem had been found scribed into the wall of a deep cavern and at the base of the wall was a mountain of pure gold ore. Wrapped around the small mountain of gold was a dragon who gently held the body of a Dawi warrior to her breast. Both were dead and neither had a mark upon them to indicate how they had died. Perhaps of broken hearts.

* * *



#93 Skull Krusher

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 03:17 AM

Kraka Draka - Party Seventy nine

He had sat there in the far corner of one of the side drinking halls of the Rusty Harpoon for nearly three marks nursing a tankard of ale when most of the other patrons would have emptied a keg or two of his best and eaten a several trenchers of stew. Florin kept an eye on the silent slow drinker, watched as he gripped his pipe in tight clinched teeth taking only an occasional sip as he sent puffs of smoke toward the engraved stone high arched ceiling. He did not recognize him, and that was not uncommon amongst a hold of over 16,000 but Florin did recognize the Miners Guild and clan icons upon his damp filthy miners clothing. He wondered what a Clan Rhyn miner was doing here not that he was not welcome but there were closer inns much lower down in the hold and closer to the mines than the Rusty Harpoon which is at sea-level though deep within the heart of Mount Sjoktaken; which meant that the Altrommi had or discovered something that was his and not his Guild’s or Clan’s or he was here for the good ale but if Florin had to wager it was the former and not the latter.

*


He knew he was being watched by the barkeep and that was only natural as the barkeeper was looking out for his own interest but who was looking out for mine he thought as he unconsciously felt the weight of several leather pouches under his jerkin and then his thoughts drifted back over the last several moons and especially the last day or two…

It had taken him nearly ten days of back breaking labor to clear the abandoned tunnel of skree bigger than his fist. Nearly ten ore cart loads of grint and now he was down to just small knuckle size rocks, gravel, and slotch a mixture of mud pulverized rock that covered the floor not to mention the nearly knee deep water that oozed down the walls or constantly dripped from tunnel roof. Now finally! Kachunk! Kachunk! Kachunk! Faster and faster, kachunkakachunkachunka and soon the cold dark water started spewing out down the spillway sluice box and the water level began to drop ever so slightly. He stood up and swore after he bok’ed his head once again on the tunnel roof. Eventually the Boki turned crouched down and duck walked to the end of the tunnel to check the intake grating to ensure it was free of the bigger skree but still sucking in the slotch and small grint. He was cold wet miserable and tired of working in the boga dark by feel. Muttering that things were not going to get any better he got down on his knees with the water lapping over his legs and began dredging. That was when he realized that the end of the suction pipe had more problems than an Umgi forged axe and both had no moving parts. It took him a little while to figure out that the end of the leather pipe was likely to collapse due to broken ribs so he used his knife and cut off the offending section and soon the sound of kachunkakachunkakachunka was getting louder and the water was dropping much faster as the hose began sucking up even more slotch. Starting in the back of the tunnel he worked with the head of the pipe back and forth across the tunnel floor until the floor was no longer flooded just damp and free of slotch and grint, and then the water pump just went up and quit on him. Standing he bok’ed his head again and it still hurt despite the helmet and he swore again as he went back to the sluice box where he managed to find a dry cloth to dry his hands before trying to light the wick again in the lantern. It took him three tries before he finally produced a spark that ignited the dry fluff that he quickly transferred to the wick. Once the wick was burning he pinched off the fluff and put the unused fluff back into the fire starter kit. The Boki lit his three other lamps and hung them from the tunnel walls on either side of the sluice box before he began checking for color.

Grindol Harokson of Rhyn Clan had been told that the tunnel on this level had been played out and if he found anything at all it would be hardly worth his time and effort but that did not stop the Guild Master Heganbor Kladfist from signing over exclusive mining and mineral rights all for what amounted to a king’s ransom or at least it seemed like it since it had nearly cost Grindol all he had. But the family and clan records of his long dead grandsire, a Lodefinder indicated that the tunnel’s wealth had not been entirely found so with that knowledge he purchased the rights and had the hold’s Loremaster enter the deed into the archives. The Guild Master was kin though distantly related through his mother’s cousin’s uncle and Grindol had hoped for a better deal. Instead he found that the bill of sale for the right to the tunnel and the mining supplies was more than what he had hoped to spend. Perhaps he should have become a Vithang and open up a store front and sold mining supplies for surely that is where the profit was Grindol thought to himself, but the records left by his grandsire gave him hope. If there was to be any Vengryn then he could only hope that he had not purchased a dry hole in the ground or that the Guild Master had not salted the mine like some Umgi to sway the unwary buyer. He smiled to himself about that, no this place was not dry as his boots sloshed and squeaked with water could attest.

With the lanterns illuminating the first section on his “new and improved” sluice box he smiled. He had taken an old tried and true design and modified it. His sluice box was a series of grates or screens one stacked above the other the larger on top and the smaller on the bottom. The screens sifted out by size all the small skree and slotch making it easier for one miner by himself to work a small mine. Underneath the smallest sieves was a fur covered hide taken from several mountain goats. In theory Grindol reasoned the fur would capture and hold the smallest of gold flakes and dust that escaped through the screens before they were washed away and lost forever. He would later burn the goat skin in a smelter and the captured gold dust would be melted into ingots, he hoped. His sluice box filled half the tunnel the other half taken up by a set of rails and two ore carts that he used to carry away the waste rock. The sluice box was nearly fifty paces long before it emptied into a holding tank that funneled the water into one of many underground reservoirs. After every shift he would empty the holding tank into the top of the sluice box to insure that the screens and fur sifted out every last fleck of color before being lost forever to the holds reservoirs, even the bottom of the holding tank was lined with goat fur.

Sitting upon an upended bucket Grindol began sorting through the first set of screens, tossing what was worthless into a waste bucket and setting the rest aside in a box for further scrutiny in far better light, any gold nuggets and gem stones went into various leather pouches. As Grindol silently worked his way along the sluice box he had to stop and dump his waste bucket more often than what he placed into his pouches or other box. From what he could tell this tunnel was deemed not profitable for the guild to operate and decided it was played out, not worth the time or expense to keep in operation. But for one possibly two miners it was worth the effort providing his ancestor the Lodefinder was correct…

*


His grandsire, Lodefinder Harok Loganson was absolutely correct about tunnels worth Grindol smiled as he took another sip and relit his pipe and if he had not been angry about hitting his head on the ceiling he would have never found the lode he thought as he rubbed his arm where the pick handle had hit him. Never throw a miners pick in a tunnel, it tended to ricochet around he thought to himself. A young beardling approached him and asked if he wanted a refill. Grindol was about to shake his head no, because he had no coin on him not even a bronze Crown but the weight in his pouches changed his mind and he nodded yes. Grindol watched the beardling approach the bartender who brought over a keg to charge his tankard.

Florin hoisted the keg and approached the table where the miner sat. “You appear to have something on your mind master miner” Florin stated before began to pour. “I do not recall that you have a tab at the Rusty Harpoon nor do I know your name.” He continued.

Grindol could read the label upon the keg, it was Gal-Drak one of the finest Norsca ales coming out of the brewery of Skara Brae and he wet his lips before he spoke. “My name is Grindol Harokson” as he held out his hand not bothering to name his clan since his clan icon was clearly visible for all to see

“I am Florin son of Yorri.” As he held out his own and as they grasped each others forearm in welcome. “How may I be of service?” Florin asked as he sat down across the table from the miner.

“I would like a room for several nights, much to far to head back down to the clan compound, the use of the steam rooms and laundry not to mention another tankard, some of that fine stew I can smell and not necessarily in that order.” Grindol answered.

“Not to be rude, but you have no tab, you have nursed that ale till it is as warm as goats "I swear too much", how are you paying? The Rusty Harpoon is not one of those Umgi charitable houses of mercy.” Florin replied politely.

Grindol reached into his jerkin and set several pouches on the table next to the keg but out of sight of the rest of the patrons though Florin could see several more inside his jerkin. Florin reached across the table felt the weight of each of the bags and the feel of the contents. Even without seeing what was inside Florin could tell that Grindol has found a small lode and perhaps a mother lode as Florin waited until Grindol returned the pouches back where he had hidden them before pouring Grindol and himself a tankard Gal-Drak Ale.

As they sat there drinking Grindol asked a question. “How long have you worked the Rusty Harpoon?”

“Nearly sixty five years. My father worked here, and not to mention my grandsire.” Florin replied with pride. “My family has worked within the Rusty Harpoon since the first day it opened nearly as old as Kraka Draka itself only shy a thousand years though it was smaller and not a comfortable as it is now.”

“Then you own it.” Grindol stated with some envy, all he owned was a leaky tunnel.

“Nay, I do not own the Rusty Harpoon, my family operates it but my clan owns it. Now would you like to come to my counting room, I have an assay scales that we can use to exchange your gold?”

“At what rates?” He knew what his own clan charged.

“The Rusty Harpoon is not an Umgi money lender. I can exchange only equal value in Kraka Draka Gold, Silver, or Bronze Crown coins, nothing clipped. If you would like one the Gold or Gem Vithangs here I can send a runner and they will be here shortly though they will give you less than what you expect. After all they are in the trade to make a profit.”

“You have a deal but how can you exchange my gold and not make a profit, surely your clan would disapprove of the way you do business.” Grindol asked wondering how the Rusty Harpoon could stay in business for so long.

“Grindol, my clan Throngrink would have my head if I conducted business in any way that was dishonest and not above board.” Then Florin pointed. “You see that Karugromthi sitting with his wife near the fireplace, he is the head of my clan. Shall I call him over?”

Grindol looked across the room toward the main hall where the massive fireplace was built into the wall, seated off to one side was a Dawi with long white braided beard and hair that hung to the floor that held more gold and emeralds that he had ever seen, or at least not until recently. He looked like a Lord more than a Vithang and his wife wore gold and gems but not to this extreme. Grindol was impressed. Grindol nodded to Florin and said that it was not necessary but yes he would like to go to the counting room. Taking their tankards with them and the keg they made they way across the hall to the small room situated off to one side of the main bar. Grindol noted that the Florin’s Throngrink watched them both then turned his attention back to his wife. Grindol frowned when he noticed that there were several Drak-Hammers standing just inside the door to the Rusty Harpoon, but did not see who they were guarding, for surly the King was not here, not that he would ever recognize the king if he saw him. He shrugged as he followed Florin into the room.

Florin sat in his chair before a highly polished desk top made from a single slab of black obsidian as thick as his fist. Behind Florin hanging upon an armor rack was his armor, helm, warhammer, and shield all of high quality but well used and Grindol surmised that Florin had been in the service to the king as a warrior. Surely he thought Florin had done well to equip himself with the finest. Florin directed Grindol to a chair across from him as he set-up the scales, a large ledger book, a stylus to record the transaction, and a locked chest.

Grindol watched as Florin unlocked the chest and felt the rise the hunger of gold as he viewed the contents of the chest full of coins; gold Crowns, silver Shields, and bronze Hammers that were as pristine as the day they were struck within the Royal Treasury. Each coin despite the denomination had the engraved symbol of Kraka Draka, a mountain with a stylized rampant Drak on one side and on the obverse the icon of the king’s clan. When Florin nodded that he was ready Grindol removed eight leather drawstring pouches and bags of various sizes and a tin box. He pushed the pouches and bags across the desk to Florin but held onto the tin box, and a pouch. Florin raised an eyebrow but said nothing as he carefully poured the golden contents of each bag into the weighing pan and as he did so the pan rang like a small bell as each nugget hit the bottom of the pan. Then Florin turned each pouch inside out to ensure each was empty before handing the bags back to Grindol. When the pan was full Florin start placing Crowns in the opposing weighing pan and kept adding till the two pans were level or nearly level, then added eight Shields removed one then added seven Hammers till the scale was equally balanced. Florin looked up at Grindol who nodded his acceptance. Florin opened his ledger book wrote down the amount of gold received and the amount of coin paid out to Grindol. As Florin poured the gold nuggets into a specially made Royal Treasury chest while Grindol was transferring his coins into his draw string leather pouches.

“Will there be anything else Grindol,” as he eyed the tin box and pouch still in front of the miner.

“Yes, you said something about sending for a runner to a Vithang who dealt in Gems or perhaps the Jewelers Guild. I am thinking that perhaps I should do that but I would like to give you first choice.” Grindol said is a low voice which peak Florin interest.

“I am not a qualified to judge gems though I do have a cousin I could call Magna is our clans Jewel Smith and a member of the guild. But first let me see what you have.” Then Florin opened a drawer and removed a folded piece of white silk and laid it before him. Grindol looked over his shoulder toward the open door that lead into the main drinking hall to see if anyone was watching and saw no one and even Florin saw his caution got up and closed the door but did not lock it as he did so he looked across hall and nodded and received a nod back and then went back to sit down. Grindol had emptied the contents of the box onto the white square of silk while he was up and when he got back to his chair he literally fell into his chair and the shocked expression on his face made Grindol smile. In the middle of the square was a double handful of RAW uncut emeralds some as large as his thumb and one nearly the size of a hens egg. Some of the gems were still attached to the quartz rock that gave them birth indicating that Grindol had indeed found a small lode.

“Grindol I do not have enough in this box to pay you for what you have there!” Then he noticed that the pouch was still drawn tight. His glance at the bag made him hesitate and Grindol smiled knowing that he was right to come here instead of his own guild house. Then he opened the draw string bag and removed a single gem that was as large as his fist and set it on the desk. Even uncut or polished it gleamed and Florin let out a single moan and closed his eyes knowing that the king would pay dearly for this stone and that King Thorin would commission the Jewelers Guild Master himself to cut, polish and set the stone in a suitable mounting. Neither of them heard the door open nor its closure. Without looking up Florin asked almost afraid to hear the answer, “Is there more where you found these and if so who else knows?”

“No one knows since I am the soul owner of the mine, no one but you and I, and yes I found a vein and it is mine by right.” Then he produced a scroll tube that held his copy of the contract between himself and the Heganbor. “I just do not know how to keep this quiet or who to trust.” Grindol stated thinking to himself that if Guild Master Heganbor Kladfist heard about the find that he would somehow try to negate the sales contract. Grindol purchased the rights he just did not know how to keep what was his and he needed help all of which he did not voice but wished to.

“Grindol Harokson of Rhyn Clan how would you like to have a trusted partner with unlimited resources?” Florin knew the voice, expected it and as Grindol turned to the speaker, Florin introduced him. “Grindol Harokson let me present Lord Drazhgrund Kartinson of Clan Durazklad.” It was only then that Grindol became aware that the clan icon on Florin’s armor and shield was that of the Royal Clan and it matched the clan icon on Lord Drazhgrund’s cloak pin and he realized what the Clan Throngrink of the Royal Clan was offering. He stood, reached out his hand and Drazhgrund clasp his arm in welcome and in agreement. “Fifty – Fifty” Drazhgrund asked, and Grindol replied, “Fifty – Fifty”.

*


Before the day was out a pair of Drak-Ironbreakers soon stood guard outside the entrance to the Grindol Royal mine and a much cleaner, well dressed, richer Grindol Harokson met his new partners for dinner in the Royal Quarters. Much to the chagrin of the Miners Guild Master in addition to the Drak-Ironbreakers a dozen Drak-Hammers also stood guard outside the mines when a certain brother and sister began working along side Grindol learning the ways of hard rock mining and the hardships that it entailed. Six months later Grindol married the sibling’s distant cousin, Magna Beladottier of Clan Durazklad ensuring the wealth of the mine stayed within the clan and that Magna the Jewel Smith had the choicest gems to work with.

* * *





#94 Skull Krusher

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:26 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Eighty

The 56th King of Kraka Draka looked over at his niece Kari who was sitting with his own daughters as she cared for her son who happened to be the grandson of the 42nd King of Kraka Draka, and Lord Drazhgrund’s son. It made him wonder about Drazhgrund’s other sons by his three previous deceased wives. He turned to his Throngrink and asked, “Drazhgrund, have you received word from your son Baruch?”

Drazhgrund looked to King Thorin and then glanced over at Kari who obviously heard the question though she gave no outward sign but he knew she had. “Not since the Lord of his Order ask him to gather several of the order together. The last I heard his destination was some where along the Black Road near the River Stik above Stirland and Sylvania.”

“So they could still be in the Ostermark” asked King Thorin.

“Or Sylvania and if so…..” neither said any more thinking about the grudge written in the Dammaz Kron within Karak-a-Karak.

*

The travelers had spotted their destination; a small insignificant walled village that lay clustered along either side of the single street that bisected the village much like a sharp axe splits a skull; only the shattered gates at either end of the street seemed to hold both sides together much like tissue connected to a nearly severed limb. There was a grand total of twenty buildings, ten to a side, most were creations of hammer and saw and were all of one story crude, unpainted or of peeling paint, and did little to hold out the winter snows or summer heat. The only exception were the four buildings built of shaped stone that had been quarried and hauled in great wains from the mountains for some rich noble and or merchant. There were many rumors on how the village was founded and built and one such story was that more than one ox driven wain failed to arrive at its proper destination and ended up here where some robber baron or self proclaimed lord had constructed a large manor house, a fortified inn, and stables with the stolen stone. The third building was a large octagon shaped three story tower built above the village on a low hill for the sole purpose of charting the course of the stars and the two moons that crossed the night sky. The fourth and final building was a small desecrated Temple of Shallya with walls enclosing a graveyard of Morr. At one time the village was prosperous but not now that was all in the past; it was the present and from what the travelers glimpsed in the distance did little to instill confidence of a warm meal, no sign of smoke, nor the smell of cooked food could be detected upon the light breeze but they continued on, they had their duty.

They traveled in a loose column, one in advance of the group by about fifty paces while another trailed behind by an equal amount so as to be aware if they were heading into an ambush or being overtaken, none of the party was ever out of sight from one another as they traveled. They were a dark forbidding group of travelers moving in absolute silence except for the occasional sound of clothing rubbing against armor. The casual observer which there were very few would have remarked that they were also gloomy shadowy since each was dressed alike, all in dark black fur cloaks with cowls pulled over their heads that hid fearsome helms and deep dark black armor. The only color that gave them any life was the trim on the bottom of the cloaks, a deep dark blood red that was just as forbidding since it looked like the bottom of the cloaks had trailed accidentally in a pool of blood. The ten travelers were a dangerous group to accost much to the chagrin of a few bands of foolish thieves for each of them carried with much familiarity in their knarled scarred hands, either a two-handed battle-axe or a warhammer and three carried in special holsters for a brace of twin barreled handguns hidden under their cloaks. Another thing they had in common was that there were all members of the same Brotherhood, the Order of the Guardians and they had traveled far this day and night was fast approaching when the lead brother held up his hand alerting the others to stop, and they did. In absolute silence they listened as ten sets of eyes searched both sides of the overgrown road scanning the growing darkening shadows amongst the trees and bushes for any sign of what had alerted their companion.

Their leader knew they were not that far away from the small village and he sensed outward his cloaked head turning back and forth, something was not as it should be he thought to himself and while there was still light he raised his hand and moved it in a circle above his head bringing both the forward and rear guards back to the group. They quickly formed a circle around the leader facing outward and as of yet they had not drawn their weapons but stood ready. He could feel it and now even some of the younger newer members of the Brotherhood, like Zedekiah who has been a member for some twenty three years could tell the enemy is approaching though none had yet said a word or shown any outward appearance that they were concerned. Baruch had no need to cast the Rune of Enemy Detection for the enemy, the enemy of nearly every civilized race, and society was before them with yellow baleful gleaming eyes stumbling, shambling towards them, some with outstretched hands looking more like claws or talons while others wielded notched corroded weapons that they had used in life. None of the ten travelers flinched for this is what the Brotherhood had dedicated and trained their whole lives for. Then Baruch their leader began speaking in a voice that sounded like a coarse gravelly rock slide and quickly touched each member of his party upon the shoulder as the stench and the sound of heresy rose about them. The sun set behind them but before them and around them in the last bloody rays of light and the onset of growing vile darkness came the abominations, undead that had been called forth from the earth in a parody of life and with them came those who feasted upon the dead. When Baruch had finished bestowing a blessing upon his brothers, two of the Brotherhood on opposite sides of the circle; Amos, known as bear and Cephas, known as the rock amongst their dour companions began short rune chants and as the undead closed Amos and Cephas cast a Runes of Banishment, seventeen crumbled to the ground never to rise again by fair of foul means.

It would have been a blood bath if the attackers had any blood to shed as it was they attacked the travelers in one’s and two’s never more than four at time and either a two-handed battle-axe or a warhammer destroyed the attackers. Or it could have been that the necromancer was a new dabbler in the Darker Arts or perhaps a new-made Vampire with out experience but for what ever reason there was no overall guidance other than to go here and attack. They fought in growing darkness, neither needing the light of day and so they fought and as they did so Baruch heard a foul guttural invocation. Looking beyond the thinning circle of undead he made out the vague robed figure standing beside a tree. Stepping out of the fighting circle Baruch strode quickly toward the figure and when he did two undead appeared out of the darkness as if summoned. He swung his hammer at the one on his left crushing it skull dropping it to the ground and the battleaxe in his other hand that radiated a cold blue glow cut the other in half and continued forward. The figure tried to invoke additional undead but Baruch was closing to fast. Just before Baruch reached his intended target a wolf or perhaps a dog leaped away from the robed figure at Baruch. But Baruch was ready for he had heard the low growl and when the beast leaped for his throat he brought both of his weapons down upon the creature smashing and severing its skull and spine. The figure had no where to run and charged towards Baruch and with an overhand swing swung his staff towards Baruch’s head. The leader of the Brotherhood casually raised his weapons in a crossing pattern and blocked the strike and as he did so kicked the figure right between its legs with his steel tipped boots dropping the person to the ground in a scream of pain that went on and on until Baruch lightly tapped him on the head with his fist knocking the necromancer unconscious.

The fight if you could call it that lasted less than a quarter-mark for when the necromancer fell so to did the abominations. Baruch quickly gagged and bound the necromancer while the other nine began their task to insure that the dead stayed dead and were never raised again. Once securely tied Baruch turned the figure over struck a light to a small candle and looked at what he had captured. The others looked on as they saw an Umgi hardly into adulthood who looked more like a student from the Altdorf University. “Baruch, you should have just killed him outright. What are you going to do with him now?” asked Cephas.

“We will take him to the village and let them decide.” Their leader replied “But you are right, I should have just killed him but this whole attack was wrong from the beginning. I want to see who knows him and what other information we can gain. Meanwhile Bear hoist him over your shoulder and let us be off we have a village just over the rise.”


To be continued

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 July 2008 - 03:09 AM.


#95 Skull Krusher

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 04:17 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Eighty One

The Brotherhood made its way down the last bit of slope approaching the village without further incident. If this village had ever been alive it surely looked to be dead though looks could be deceiving but to Baruch’s way of thinking no Umgi community could ever be alive since it had been constructed with dead materials unlike a Dawi Hold carved and shaped out of living rock utilizing the mountain itself for shelter and sustenance. Any Dawi could walk into any Hold and tell immediately the health and wellbeing of the Hold. The heartbeat and pulse of the rock itself flowed through every Dawi’s being. Not like here, this village was dead if not near death for as Baruch and his companions stood before the shattered gate they could smell the faint scent of hot wax which meant a candle burned some where amongst the darkened buildings. Even in the dark Baruch could see that the wooden buildings of the village and the gate had fought a war against time and mother-nature and was losing. They hesitated at the ruins of the gate, one half hung crookedly from the top hinge and the bottom hinge was rusted, broken and the other half of the gate lay upon the ground weeds growing up between the slats of the warped boards. “Be ready” Baruch stated as he stepped through the opening and entered the village of Lodz.

The darkness of Lodz was more than an absence of light. Even in the dark with little more than starlight for illumination the Brotherhood could see that some of the buildings were in better shape than others. Some were nothing more than shells, their roofs caved in from past accumulation of heavy snow, others looked to be burn out husk of a building while others appeared to be secured, boarded up as if for a siege. It was to those buildings they headed for as they searched the deeper shadows for any threat. They headed for the fortified inn with its stone walls and as they approached the scent of hot wax was stronger. They filed through into the courtyard past the sundered gate and as they did so Zedekiah snapped an alarm rope that had been strung across the gates opening about ankle high causing a clatter amongst the dry gourds that had been attached to the rope to alert the occupants of the inn. Baruch uttered an oath as Cephas reached down and picked up one of the gourds and shook it. It rattled loudly and the sound pierced the darkness around them. “Quiet effective,” Cephas commented “better than a guard dog that you have to keep fed.”

It was Amos who responded to the sound of the rattle. “Baruch, I do not think our captive likes the sound of the gourd or perhaps he recognizes where we are at” as he tapped the captives skull lightly to render him unconscious again. The necromancer was tall or perhaps Amos was short but in any case the prisoner hung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes for the prisoner’s feet and hands hung nearly to the ground making it awkward to carry him in comfort. He was half tempted to just slit the prisoner’s throat and be done with it but he stayed his hand and followed the rest into the courtyard and up to the steps of the inn. This time Zedekiah spotted a second rope and carefully cut it easing the tension off the rope till the gourds lay quietly upon the ground.

They approached the door to the inn and were surprised to see that the door was made of solid stone with a shield carved into the stone and a rampant rooster as the shield device. Baruch tried the door and found it locked. Cephas ran his hands over the blocks of stone that made up the inn’s structure and the door and thought to him self that the stones were Dawi cut; to precise. The leader of the Brotherhood pounded on the door knocker with his fist. When there was no response he did so again with his warhammer and was rewarded with the sound of an Umgi who called out. “We are armed, go away!” a voice shouted from behind the locked door.

“We mean you no harm” Baruch called back. “We are travelers who are in need of a place for the night, and food to eat. We can pay.”

“No go away” shouted the voice once again. Then another voice shouted out, a female voice who sounded old or perhaps tired.

“Travelers did you say, how many and in what form of payment?” and then in an after thought asked if they had encountered anything strange upon the road.

Cephas answered seeing that his leader was getting annoyed. “There are ten of us and we can pay in good Dwarf coin. As to strangeness only you can tell us if what we encountered was strange.”

“Are you Dwarves?” asked the woman again.

“Aye we are lass and we do not like being kept waiting on the doorstep.” He replied

Then the sound of a latch being moved and a small square opened in the stone door and a shaft of light shown upon Baruch who still wore his cloak over his head. He reached up and lowered the cowl from his head to reveal his face. There was in intake of breath as the woman stared into Baruch face seeing the deep steel blue eyes, a face framed by long braided black hair and beard barely touched by age though bedecked with gold hair rings. She also saw the band of gold with some sort of symbol engraved upon it that he wore upon his forehead much like an unadorned crown. “Open the door Wilfred there is a Dwarf lord on our doorstep with his bodyguard. Quick you fool we are saved at last.” The Brotherhood looked at one another at that last comment and looked over their shoulders into the darkness but could see no obvious threat.

The Dawi waited as they heard the bolts being removed and locks opened and slowly the door opened at barely a touch as a middle aged Umgi female welcomed them inside. Their eyes were temporarily blinded by the light as they left the darkness behind them. When they were all in she quickly shut the door and began locking and barricading the door against the night. They looked on in bemusement for so far they had seen nothing more frightening than what they had already encountered and they had destroy them all, or almost all and that was when Amos moved to the nearest chair and deposited the necromancer in it. No sooner had he done that than they heard a cry of anguish and the loud twang of a crossbow then the solid thump of bolt striking. The Brotherhood reacted in the only way they could and drew their weapons but there was no enemy to attack just Umgi who were just as shocked as they. Then she, a young woman who fired from the second floor landing dropped the crossbow to the floor where it clattered down the stairs, she dropped to her knees and broke down and began wailing, rocking back-in-forth with her arms held tightly to her breast. It was a credit to their training that the Brotherhood did not attack but stood there taking in the scene the young necromancer with a crossbow bolt in his forehead, the inn keeper and his wife standing their with weapons in their hands, and the three other Umgi who had the look of being warriors stood in the far side of the common room waiting but they too had weapons but they were laid upon the table within easy reach.

It was Amos who spoke first. “Baruch, I think justice has been done here” he stated in Riekspiel so that the Umgi’s could understand him. Then he placed his warhammer on the nearest table and hung his cloak upon a hook near the table and sat down and ordered ale. They all followed his example thus defusing the situation. All except Baruch who looked at the crossbow that lay at his feet then at the young woman who was still armed though with a sword and dagger and then to Wilfred the inn keeper as his wife began serving the others ale. “Who was he?” he asked “and how many people live in Lodz?”

“If you will follow me my lord I will tell you what I know.” And Baruch followed the innkeeper. As he did he noted the corded muscular forearms and hands of a well trained swordsman. He moved with an odd limp and favored his right knee so he must have received a wound that made it difficult to fight in a shield wall. He noted that the scabbard and belt were in very good shape and what he saw of the hilt and blade it appeared to be well made and cared for, he also carried a brace of well made pistols. They entered the tap room where Wilfred had a small desk, a table and four chairs which he promptly sat in and began rubbing his knee as Baruch sat down; behind Wilfred on the wall above the desk hung a map of Lodz and the surrounding area.

Wilfred Baroni was surprised when the Dwarf lord spoke commenting to Wilfred that it must be a long way from the warm lands of Tilea and thought his accent long gone. He had not been back to his homeland since he first offered his sword. “Yes my lord, it has been a long time” he replied. “I believe” and he nodded to the staff the Dwarf carried “that you met Manfred and the meeting did not go well.”

Baruch laughed out loud. “Not well at all, especially once he got here. Who was Manfred and who is his master?”

“My lord”….

“I am not your lord; I am but a simple cleric. I am Baruch, son of Drazhgrund and I am my companions are of the Order of Guardians for our people. We are all clerics of Gazul. Tell me of Manfred and of the village of Lodz.” Baruch commanded as if he was Wilfred’s lord.

Captain Wilfred Kassel had not always been a tavern owner and if truth be told he was not the owner, his wife of three years is the owner of the Le Corusse Rouge better known to the inhabitants as the “Strutting Red Hen” because of his wife’s flaming red hair. If not for him and six others who had left Von Rudder’s Company after ten years of campaigning for a better life the villagers of Lodz would all be dead. Three years ago they had come upon the well built village seeking Sir Otto Sedgwick. Their first night in Lodz they ended up fighting undead and ever since they continued fighting off the occasional bandit band but more than anything else they fought to stay alive and in doing so gave the villagers something to strive for instead of submitting to the depredations of the so called doctor and philosopher who dwelled in the tower above the town. Poor misguided Manfred he thought he deserved to die slowly not quickly but then Bekka had reasons for wanting the "I swear too much" dead despite being her brother. If not for Manfred who had come back from Altdorf after years of schooling in the universities her family and many others would be alive. When he returned he brought with him his old professor who had retired to the country due to poor health. He retired for his health alright, the Altdorf authorities had a warrant out for his capture and they wanted him dead or alive it mattered not for he had been accused and convicted in absentia for he had been seen raising the dead, consorting with others who practiced the Darker Arts. But Wilhelm Eric Von Dreyher was not the inexperience practitioner like Manfred, no he was much more powerful. Of the villagers of Lodz and the small farmsteads that had once thrived before the return of Manfred and the doctor there could be as many as one hundred more people crowding around on market days or on days dedicated to the worship of Goddess Shallya and the Goddess Myrmidia but those days were gone no more mock combat before the Priestess of Myrmidia and the soothing healing of Shallya’s cleric. The farmsteads were down to two working farms which were more forts than farm, the others having fallen to the undead or moved on to safer realms. Of the villagers there were only thirty three and of the thirty three only twenty could be counted on to wield a weapon and of those twenty counting himself only four were professional soldiers. He had lost three of his friends and he had promised them that if they died he would burn their bodies to ash to prevent the necromancer from raising them. The village of Lodz was dying but it had just been give a chance to live with the coming of the Dwarves. All this, he told Baruch, nay Lord Baruch because even he recognized the name of Drazhgrund after all he was not that far from the Talabheim Boarders where all manner of Dwarven armies searched the woods searching for some precious crown and the tale coming out of Kislev spoke volumes about the fighting prowess of the Norsca Dwarves. Hope began to burn brightly.

The two of them had spoken till nearly midnight when Baruch called it a night for he could clearly see that Wilfred had not had a good nights sleep in weeks. Before they finished he offered the Umgi a small drink of Norsca Drak ale not out of friendship but to one warrior to another who still fought on to the best of his ability despite diminishing resources and also to make him sleep for Dawi ale was much stronger than the weak ale they had been drinking for the last several marks.

Baruch had returned to the common room to find eight of the Brotherhood sitting around in their clan trews cleaning their armor and weapons while talking and drinking for inside these stout Dawi built walls they were safer than they had been since leaving the Dunderkarak. Amos explained that the Umgi had gone upstairs to sleep with assurance that they would be safe because the Brotherhood would stand the night watch for them. Baruch nodded but as he looked around the room he noted that the Manfred’s body was missing and Amos explained that he and Zedekiah had taken the body down into the cellar for safe keeping till they could dispose of the body the next day. Once down there they discovered a small brewery and Zedekiah stayed down below converting and reworking the boilers and piping to ensure that it would brew proper ale. When Baruch raised his eyebrow Cephas quickly explained that they had already conducted the proper rituals to ensure that Manfred remained dead and would no longer walk the earth to which Baruch nodded his approval with that over he removed his cloak, pack, armor, and laid out his blanket upon floor before the fireplace and went to sleep but not before he snapped the necromancer’s staff into four pieces with his bare hands and tossed the pieces into the fire. Then he slept.


To be continued.

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 July 2008 - 03:11 AM.


#96 Skull Krusher

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 02:04 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Eighty Two

Not that far away, perhaps two long bow shots stood the tower built of solid stone quarried from the Worlds Edge Mountains. Wilhelm Eric Von Dreyher knew this because he had found the original journals of the first occupant of the tower. The wizard, nay a rich hedge wizard from a minor nobles family Wilhelm had discovered who spent his time studying the stars and the moons that crossed the night sky. Wilhelm cared not a wit about the esoteric movement of the stars, though some of the minor spells and incantations he had found in the wizards tome had been effective and simple though his fear of the dark arts misplaced. Still Wilhelm had not stirred from the tower for quiet some time and was content to let his bumbling apprentice keep the villagers cowering in fear so as not to bother him in his studies. He had nothing to fear from Manfred his knowledge of necromancer magic was haphazard at best and was still unable to control but one or two undead for any length of time. Truth be told Manfred was just a gullible scapegoat with minimal magic ability whose usefulness to Wilhelm was nearly at an end. Manfred was nothing more than a bully and coward who kept the villagers away as he continued his studies. But his studies led him nowhere; Wilhelm had yet to break the enchantment or to dispel the runes that were placed upon the builders of Lodz. They lay in their sealed crypts unmoved by his dark power. For if he could raise them then surely he would have the core or vanguard of his undead army, he had nearly emptied the graveyard as it was. But so far he was stymied and he had spent long days in study and in contemplation only to be wrenched from his reverie by a mental scream of a spell being shattered, one of his spells. He shook himself and scryed the forces of magic for the cause. Then he found it, the spell he had placed upon Manfred’s staff, it had been dispelled and Wilhelm could not even find a trace of it. Then he sensed outward from the tower, looking with his mind’s eyes towards those dwellings within the village of Lodz looking for Manfred and found nothing. The faint sparks of humanity still burned in the individual villagers but now he detected ten new sparks or souls and they burned brightly and they nearly seared his inner eye. They were not human but Dwarves and their souls seemed to be touched by a god leaving them incorruptible. Then his hope for an undead army soared, if he could not have those that were already dead and sealed from him then perhaps theses would suffice. He only had to kill them. He rose from his chair staff in hand and threw open the door to the stairs that lead to the tower roof, he would call his undead. But none appeared. He tried again but to no avail, the dead of the village were truly dead and only a few ghouls heard his call and those few to far away. For the first time since he fled Altdorf he was afraid, his followers and apprentice were gone, true death and beyond recall. He closed the door and went back down below to his study, sat, and opened his masters book, he who Wilhelm killed thus raising himself to the level of master necromancer. He began to read looking for a spell. He had plenty of time Wilhelm thought to himself.

*

Wilfred woke to pounding and his head ached from each clang of hammer against anvil for that was surely the noise that had awoken him. Rolling over he attempted to spoon with Greta but her side of the bed was empty and cold and then he truly woke up and realized his head was also pounding from the Dwarf drink and the pounding upon the anvil outside only made his head ache more and he swore out loud and rose and went over to the chamber pot to relieve his bladder. “"I swear too much"” he said to him self “now I will have to empty the pot” and wished he could have waited until he reached the jakes building outside. Grumbling about what all the noise was about Wilfred removed the iron bars that secured the window shutters and opened them and looked out into the village of Lodz. A plume of smoke rose lazily into the morning sky from the blacksmith’s forge something that had not happened in a month or so not since the death of Harrcourt the smith. He reached for his clothing and got dressed belted his sword belt and scabbard over his shoulders, tucked the pistols into their holster ensuring that the powder was still in the pans and only then lugged the pot down the back stairs out the kitchen door and across the courtyard to the jakes all the while his head pounded from lasts nights indulgence, the clucking of the hens in the coop near the kitchen wall, the barking of the dog out side the bakers-shop, the rustling of the leaves, but mainly from the anvil noise. After he dumped the pot down the jakes hole and tossed in a partial bucket of lye he headed toward the water pump and washed the pot out. While doing so he realized that this was the first normal waking day he had awoken to in nearly eight months and he smiled despite the pounding head and the fact that the sun was half way to mid-day. He left the pot on the back step and walked towards the blacksmith shop where he heard the loud voices between hammer strikes.




(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 July 2008 - 03:13 AM.


#97 Skull Krusher

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 05:36 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Eighty Three

As he made his way through the courtyard he could smell hops so he stopped and looked back at the inn and noticed the chimney that came up from the basement of the inn was emitting heat waves and the aroma of brewing. He could not remember the last time the boilers had been used, not in nearly the three years he had been here since there was a large inventory of untapped kegs no thanks to the depredations caused by the undead and the lack of travelers. Shaking his head he continued on through the courtyard and noticed the repairs made to the stone walls that surrounded the inn including the remounted inn’s sign above the courtyard gate, Le Corusse Rouge, with a brightly painted red roster. He smiled to himself and as he walked through the entrance to the courtyard he saw that the Dwarves had been busy; the courtyard gate had been repaired as well. Wilfred looked either way down the street as he left the inn he saw that there were some villagers and two or three of the Dwarves at either end of the street looking at the remains of the gates that lead into the village of Lodz. He had no idea why the Dwarves were making repairs and could only conclude that they intended to use Lodz as staging area because they surely did not look like farmers or herdsmen, or shopkeepers for that matter. His own military experience told him that they were securing the perimeter prior to any further operations, it was what his old company commander did and it looked the same.

Wilfred saw Baruch standing outside the blacksmith talking in Riekspiel to several of the villagers who had come out to investigate the noise or perhaps hoping to place an order or purchase some iron work or repairs, he headed for the noisy blacksmith shop, his head still throbbing and it was not getting any better and he wanted to know what the Dwarves intent was. As he listened to the conversation he noted the Dwarf whom he remembered was Amos at the forge. He was stripped to his waist but wore a heavy leather apron that looked to be worn more to protect the smith’s beard than to protect his bare chest. At first Wilfred would have said that Amos was fat, but the smith’s torso looked like a solid slab of muscle that was crisscrossed with old weapon scars and burn marks from long marks at the forge. The Dwarf was muscular and his arms and shoulders gleamed with sweat from the forge’s heat and as the smith raised the hammer, his massive forearms and shoulders bulged with hard muscles and then the hammer did not slam down upon the anvil but tapped and shaped the red hot metal that began to take the shape of a giant hinge plate. As the Dwarf smith worked, Roderick, one of the young orphans from a destroyed farmstead worked the bellows that kept the forge red hot. Every once in awhile the Dwarf would reach out and tousle the lads hair, tell him to drink water, and complement him and Wilfred knew the Amos was grooming him. He turned away from the Dwarf and his helper and approached Baruch and as he did the villagers went about their normal routine for the first time in months.

“Lord Baruch,” Wilfred managed to say before he was interrupted.

“Wilfred!” Baruch said with reproach in his voice. “I am not your lord. If you must use an honorific then Priest or Cleric Baruch or just plain Baruch will suffice. I will not remind you again. Now what is this I have been told by your fellow villages that you are the mayor of Lodz?”

Wilfred felt the unspoken threat and decided that he did not need to be on Baruch bad side. No indeed, from what he knew about Dwarves and grudges he decided to do as he suggested though habits die hard and it was then that the smith struck the anvil hard and the noise made him closed his eyes in pain. When he opened them Baruch held out that same flask from last night to him. He took a very light sip and handed it back. “Baruch, thanks I needed that.” Baruch’s eyes sparkled with merriment or perhaps delight at his discomfort for having a hangover. “Yes, I am the mayor only because no one else would step forward. Lot of good it seems to have done except prolong the towns misfortune. What have you decided to do about Manfred’s master and by the way where is Manfred’s body?”

It was then that Wilfred saw Becca approach with a cross bow over her shoulder and a full quiver at her right side and her father’s sword on her left hip. She and Eckart, a warrior from Kislev who was no slouch with a bow and a fellow former member of Von Rudder’s Company had just come back into village leading a mule with a freshly killed five point stag hung over the back of the mule. She had apparently heard his question and answered for the Dwarf. “I burned my brother’s body at daybreak and I dumped his ashes into the jakes where he belongs. I am not having his body or ashes in the family vault.” Becca dared Wilfred to say a word as she led the mule into the stables of the Le Corusse Rouge. Both Baruch and Wilfred noted the perfect heart shot from her crossbow and Eckart stayed with the two as watched Becca leave. Then Wilfred saw that Baruch had not turned his attention to him but was looking up at the tower that had been built upon a small hill above the village but well within the enclosing walls of the village. The tower was wreathed in mist despite the bright warm sunshine and had a gut feeling that necromancer was working magic.

“I have sense his anger throughout the night.” Baruch told them. “All of us have and we have thwarted his use of his lesser magic. He seeks to call forth more undead but we have cleansed the graveyard early this morning though not the vaults belonging to Becca’s family manor house. There will be no further undead walking about Lodz from the graveyard.”

“What about the vaults of Sir Otto Sedgwick family?” Eckart asked knowing there were at least three or four generations of Becca’s family interned there.

Baruch glance away from the tower and looked to where they knew Lady Becca was, the kitchen pantry where undoubtedly the cook was hanging the stag. “Lady Becca has not given me the key to the vaults. She feels that if the necromancer is killed then her dead will be at peace once more and will not walk the earth again. But she is wrong. Once they have been called forth they walk aimlessly unless commanded. If their master is dead they can still be called forth by a new master. As long as the stone doors remain locked they can not get out. What she has asked is that once the master is dead Becca will re-intern her kin and then she desires my help in ensuring that they will never be called forth again. This I can do but only after he is dead?” It was his longest speech in Riekspiel.

The two warriors agreed with what he said. “But what about the bat swarms, ghouls, or wolves he could call fourth?” Eckart asked

“If they come” and Baruch shrugged his shoulders, “we kill them.”

“But what about the necromancer” Wilfred asked? At that moment he noticed that Baruch attention was drawn back to the tower and they all saw four Dwarves who appeared to be some distance away from the base of the tower but looked to be inspecting the tower entrance and the grounds around it.

*

Oldor Thorison of Clan Karangaz had been watching the tower windows along with Gundrik Dorinson and Logan Finnison both of Clan Shieldbreaker as Cephas Broksniv of Clan Stonehammer searched the grounds between the tower and Le Corusse Rouge inn. Zedekiah Ragnison of Clan Steinhammer had reported that one wall in the brewery basement sounded hollow and Cephas after checking it out felt that there had to be a secret door but where he did not know. Thinking that perhaps there was an underground tunnel connecting the tower to the inn he suggested that they inspect the grounds between the two buildings which was exactly what Cephas was doing and had already determined after spotting a couple of depressions that were in a straight line toward the tower that there was indeed a tunnel which made sense to Cephas. It would be a way for the inhabitants to retreat to the tower incase the inn was breeched and lost not to mention a way into the inn during snowy or inclement weather. Now that he knew where it ended he would go back to the basement to look for the secret lock that opened the hidden door. Being Dawi made he was sure it still worked but did not know if all Miners Guild and Stone Carving Guilds utilized the same techniques since he did not recognize it as being constructed by a guildsman of Kraka Draka. Cephas was just about ready to say something when Oldor yelled out a warning.

*

Wilhelm was beyond angry he was enraged. Not one of his Raise Dead spells he had tried to cast worked they all seemed to be ineffective in raising the zombies he had reburied in the dead of the night months ago around the base of the tower. Peering out the window he could see four Dwarves and in a fit of pique drew forth his ebony rod that was traced with red circling runes around the whole length and cast Red Death at them; two vaporous red bolts leaped from the end of the rod streaking toward the Dwarves. One seemed to stop in midair just before striking and seemed to burst apart as if hitting an invisible shield. The second hit dead center upon a Dwarf’s armor, the warrior seemed to step back as if pushed backward by the force of the blow but that was all. Momentarily stunned by the success of the strike but not the results Wilhelm stood motionless just a little too long as the other two Dwarves reacted. The wooden shutter beside his right shoulder exploded in a shower of splinters long before the concussion, two thunderclaps coming from their rifles reached his ears. He saw the puffs of white smoke billow forth and dissipate in the gentle breeze and he slammed the shutters closed just as a crossbow bolt hit punchng half way through the wood. He felt as if he was in a siege and stood far away from the closed broken shutters.

*

The sound of two rifle shots shattered what little calmness there was in Lodz. Morgrim Thorinson the former a Drak-Ranger of Clan Stonefist had been working at the northern gate installing with the help of several villagers a new bottom hinge. He and the three workers dropped their tools and reached for their weapons and even before the Umgi beside him had done so he had his Quarrel cocked and loaded. He looked toward the tower and saw two smoke rings rising from Gundrik’s and Logan’s weapons. They appeared to be firing upon the tower, seeing no enemy or hearing the call for assistance he unloaded the Quarrel and released the tension on crossbow cable and motioned for the Umgi to get back to work. Soon he would have half a gate that worked.

Skaff Thorgrimson of Clan Axehead who was formerly one of the King’s Drak-Hammers was at the south gate replacing the broken timbers of the gate with his Umgi work crew. This gate would soon be fully functional before the end of the day which is what he told Baruch but not if they had to fight a battle before the work was done. He had been keeping an eye out for Lord Baruch, he was a lord of royal blood despite what he told Wilfred and he had his own orders from the head of the order and from the King himself to guard Baruch. Years of Drak-Hammer training and conditioning as a bodyguard to the King and the King’s family and clan would be hard to forget despite being a Cleric of Gazul. Skaff had also been keeping a weather eye out on the tower for that he had deemed was where the real threat would come from and sure enough when he saw the figure in the window Skaff knew an attack was imminent for he had felt the attempts at magic ever since last night and they had all made concerted efforts to dispel or banish the necromancers magic. So far they had. Skaff had been actually looking at the tower when the two shots had been fired and his immediate reaction was to search the enclosed village for any other enemy and as his eyes quickly searched he glanced at and past Lord Baruch to ensure that he was safe. Seeing nothing threatening they continued to work.

Becca and Greta had been watching the Dwarves from the back door step as the cook and assistant cook skinned and cut up the stag that they had hung from the beam in the kitchen. They had already removed the skin and head. She stood their alternating her gaze from inside the kitchens to the tower behind the inn. Becca was planning to have the tanner on the closest farmstead turn the skin into a new set of leather armor for herself and had just finished rolling up the hide when she looked up toward the tower and saw that the window was open. She quickly loaded her crossbow and when she saw the necromancer she fired just after she heard and saw the Dwarves fire their guns. The suddenness of it caused her to miss her target and she was greatly upset but not that much since if not for the Dwarves the window would never have been opened in the first place.

Down in the basement Zedekiah was calmly going about his task of ensuring the brewery ran smoothly. Every once in a while he would add a little hops or some other grain into the mix, take a sip or smell the steam rising from the vats and piping and when he was sure know one was looking he dropped a pinch of white powder into the RAW Hazkal mash as well and closed the lid. A little bit of home he thought as he quickly slid the tiny crystal flask back into jerkin where it was safely hidden beneath his armor. He never heard the sound of the rifles nor the slamming of the shutters since the noise of the brewery drowned out all other outside noises; but not the inside ones. Zedekiah already had one freshly scoured and cleaned oak barrel ready and four more had been taken up stairs to be scoured with clean white sand as well by the scullery maid. At least these Umgi were good for something he thought, they followed orders. Turning his back on the hiss of the brewery he began once again tapping the walls looking and sensing for the entrance to the tunnel that he knew existed but eluded him. Unbeknownst to him the steam condensation that ran down the side of the boilers pooled upon the floor and disappeared through a narrow seam in the stone floor near a stack barrels.

Baragor Brokkson, like Amos his cousin was of Clan Zharrgrund was working with the villagers. He had uncovered a Tinker’s wagon that had sat undisturbed in the stable yard of one of the burnt buildings. Baragor had been told that the Tinker usually made trips that lasted eight to ten months and then he would return back to Lodz for the rest of the year building up his stock. Cormac the Tinker had returned just in time to be killed by the first of the risen zombies of Manfred and his mentor and had died trying to save his family and home. Inside the Cormac’s loaded wagon was a grinding wheel for sharpening blades along with various other odds and ends including sealed wooden crates, barrels, and tarpaulin wrapped bundles that the Tinker sold or traded for. It was the grinding wheel that drew his attention and Baragor lifted it out of the wagon and quickly set it up then had the villagers bring all their bladed weapons to be sharpened. He also began training another orphan who listened and watched intently. When the reports from the rifles reached his ears he raised an axe blade away from the spinning wheel but never stopped pedaling but scanned his surrounding for additional attacks. Looking down the street he saw his leader Baruch talking to Wilfred the mayor and neither appeared too alarmed or he would have motioned for them to rally. So he continued but kept a weather eye out all the same.

(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 July 2008 - 03:15 AM.


#98 Skull Krusher

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 04:33 AM

Kraka Draka - Part Eighty Four

Baruch had not expected the necromancer to attack them directly thinking that Wilhelm would continue in his attempt to raise additional zombies or other undead. But the Brotherhood’s continued success at dispelling thwarted his attempts. However the necromancer’s direct attack was also a blessing in disguise because it meant that he was getting agitated and above all else careless and had just made his first mistake. The return fire from Gundrik and Logan was not unexpected but Lady Becca’s crossbow bolt was a pleasant surprise. Wilfred nodded at Baruch when they both noted that the bolt hit the window shutters; if not for being suddenly closed she would have hit the necromancer, the slayer of her family, household servants, and friends in the center of his chest and she had fired from further away.

*

Blood had its uses but Wilhelm had no need to shed his own at the moment, on the contrary he was busy stopping its flow. He had already removed two wood fragments from his arm and the spells and bandages had stopped the bleeding but the third was embedded a little deep in the muscle of his leg. Grapping it with both hands he pulled it out then wadded an alcohol soaked compress into the wound and tied it in place. If Manfred were still alive he would have flayed him alive and then killed him just to raise him from the dead and do it again, and again. Just whom had his acolyte attacked and why were they here? He had seen plenty of Dwarves in his time in Altdorf and Nuln and not one of them had ever been able to thwart his spells much less dress like those that he had attacked. The merchant Dwarves dressed in rich wools, furs, engraved leather and it was only the warriors or guards who wore heavy armor that was burnished and polished to a high sheen, but the ones here everything about them was dark and black not to mention the black fur cloaks they wore they reminded him of Chaos Warriors in their appearance. Wilhelm wondered what the Dwarves were looking for and surmised that they were looking at the tower door. There was no chance of them battering through that since the door was one foot of solid rock and was perfectly balanced on its hinges. If it was unlocked it would open with ease, just a simple push. But as long as the locking mechanism was secure and the iron bar across the doorway was secure there was no way they could enter short of shattering the stone door. Perhaps scaling ladders but then he had ways to deal with that thanks to the Dwarf builders of the village. They had built the village in revenge for some breech of contract in accordance to the writings in the old wizard’s library. Something about an obligation or grudge that needed to be resolved and it was not entirely clear since it said that the original stones that built the tower, several buildings, and walls had been destined for another location but some lord or wealthy merchant refused to pay the stipulated price. What ever the true historical past of the village Lodz the tower was secure and if the Dwarves had come closer he would have attempted another Raise Dead spell upon the bodies buried at the base of the tower near the doorway. A greeting party providing he could get the spell cast he muttered to himself.

*

Baruch had been giving it some thought and he did not relish the idea of a frontal assault upon a stone tower built by Dawikin. The Brotherhood had already scoured the village looking for additional graves or bodies buried under the debris of the burned out buildings and they had taken care of the few they found. The Sedgwick family vaults were secure for the moment which left just the destroyed farmsteads to cleanse but that would wait for another day since they had a necromancer to deal with and before they left the village he wanted the gates repaired. Only then would they venture out toward the farmsteads and the forgotten battlefields that dotted this section of the Black Road. Those battlefields were rich recruiting grounds for any would be necromancer or Vampire lord and the sooner they were cleansed before another practitioner arrived, the better. Turning to both gates he raised his arm and motioned in a circle and pumped his arm up and down three times to let those of the Brotherhood who were watching know that he wanted to meet in three marks then he and Wilfred returned to the inn to discuss what he wanted. A meeting of the entire village including the children for even a child will wander where an adult will not and stubble across a piece of battlefield relics, be it a skeleton, armor, or a rusted blade. He needed information.

Baragor Brokkson was nearly done and it was getting close to the time for the meeting and he did not want to leave the wagon unattended. He loaded the grinding wheel back onto the wagon as one of the villagers hitched two mules to the wagon to drive the wagon into the inn’s courtyard and stable. The wagon with its unpacked cargo was too valuable to leave, so far none of the villagers felt inclined to loot it but he felt that Wilfred the village mayor could use the supplies for the betterment of the Lodz or set up young Nathan his orphan apprentice in a business venture along with the blacksmith shop. Once inside the courtyard the mules were returned to the stable and Baragor began to cover the wagon with the tarpaulin when he spotted something that looked familiar. He had seen the long narrow box before but some cargo had shifted while they had moved the wagon and it was completely uncovered. Dawi Runes were carved into the box lid. Moving the cargo around he was able to grab a hold of one of metal handles at one end and he tugged it free and set it upon rear gate of the wagon. The metal box was a little longer than one of Logan’s handguns and about a two hands high and wide and not too heavy. But he was more interested in the Rune it was the rune for Barak Varr. He quickly looked amongst the rest of the cargo and found a small chest and barrel with the same rune. Just how had a Tinker managed to travel south of the Black Mountains through Black Fire Pass and past the realm of the Boarder Princes to reach Barak Varr and return safely was beyond Baragor’s comprehension and he was not going to leave something made by Dawi for Dawi outside and hoisted the box across his shoulders nodded toward his Umgi helpers to finish covering the wagon and to bring the chest and barrel inside with him. As they entered the inn they were greeted to the smell of fresh cooked bread, stew, and roasted venison and the whole village had gathered together for a mid day meal as well as a village meeting. Everyone was curious about what he had brought inside but Baragor said nothing as he laid the box near one of the tables the Brotherhood was sitting at, his helpers set the chest and barrel down next to box and joined their friends all except the young Umgi orphan who stayed with Baragor. Baragor took him to the wash room and they washed up prior to eating and decided that afterwards that the tow headed Umgi needed a little more than a quick wash but that would come later after all the day’s work was done. Meanwhile they had a Trogg to enjoy and besides he could smell Zedekiah's freshly brewed Hazkal and he was thirsty.



(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 July 2008 - 03:18 AM.


#99 Skull Krusher

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 05:25 AM

Kraka Draka - Party Eighty Five

Zedekiah’s Hazkal made the mid day Trogg somewhat a success as a tool for information gathering. The potent Dawi drink loosened tongues that would other wise remained closed. One of the Umgi mentioned freshly turned earth near the tower several months back…

Then the baker’s wife, a nosey shrew of a female Baruch thought, who seemed to watch everything and everyone around her and it, was a wonder she had not burnt a loaf a loaf of bread. She commented that she had noticed the turned earth and asked young Manfred what kind of garden vegetables had he planted and was the professor willing to sell what he did not consume. She stated that Lady Becca’s brother just shrugged…

Another said that Sir Otto Sedgwick routinely buried executed thieves and brigands captured by the Road Warden near the hanging tree which was near the old cemetery just beyond the village walls… Still another, a young lass of fifteen winters who had been hired by Greta to do the inn laundry stated that she and her brother had come across bones about a half days journey between Lodz and her former family farmstead. She brought forth a keen double edge dagger that she kept wrapped in her bodice saying that she found it amongst some bones and rotten leather. It was neither rusted nor tarnished and its’ edges was still sharp considering it was over two hundred years old Amos had told her. He volunteered to make her a sheath for her and she consented and after Amos had inspected the dagger he said it was Dawi made. The gem, a ruby in the pommel was worth more than the entire village but Amos said not a word. Baruch rather doubted that the young girl would remain in the inn for any length of time since Lady Becca had mentioned that she was planning to take the girl under her protection and make her a ward once the necromancer was dead and her parent’s tomb were secure…

The most startling bit of information came from an old gray beard who had been helping to rebuild one of the gates mentioned that the builders of the town were buried in the temple of Myrmidia that they were interned beneath the floor of the sanctuary. When asked how he knew this he said that his great grand sire had told him the tale and he had heard it from his grandsire. Then the gray beard drew a rune upon the table from the liquid of his drink saying that the symbol was on the floor of the temple. It was the symbol for Gazul and Baruch thought about how short Umgi lives were and surmised that the buildings themselves including the walls seemed to be built nearly one fifty years ago. It was possible he thought that the last surviving Dawi had buried his kin and had gone home back to the mountains not trusting the Umgi to place him in the vault. He and his fellow brothers were anxious to investigate the small temple to ensure that these kin did not walk the earth as undead…

But the news about a Dawi tomb nearly paled with the discovery that came not from any news or information from the villagers loosened tongues but from the assistant cook who had gone down to the brewery to bring up another Umgi wine keg had dropped the keg and it had bounced down the stairs shattering upon the flag stone floor. Zedekiah and Cephas closest to the stairs worried about the brewery looked down at the mess and the flustered Umgi who was sure that he was about to be beaten if not by the Dwarves but by the head cooked cringed. Blood red wine spread across the floor and slowly drained away through a crack in the floor. Cephas was immediately down the stairs, the Umgi cowered in the corner expecting the worse but there in the wet floor was the outline of the trap door that was partially covered by a stack of barrels. Smiling, Cephas ordered the red faced Umgi cook to move the barrels to the other side of the room. The tunnel entrance had been found and when the news reached Baruch his eyes glittered with malice toward the necromancer’s demise.

All but forgotten by the news of the spilt wine was the box, chest, and barrel that Baragor had brought inside. When the Umgi left the inn to continue working on the gates Baruch had the Clan Zharrgrund weapon-smiths open the long box. Baragor and Amos pulled the pins holding the lid in place and opened the box both were taken aback by what they found. It was a bronze gun whose barrel mouth opening was shaped like a small Drak with it’s wings folded back against its body and it lay nestled like a Drak fledgling in its packing cradle along with a rammer, worm, and sponge, to be more precise said Baragor who had worked in the shipyards foundry in Kraka Draka it was a swivel gun designed to be placed in the bow of a small rowboat used for harbor sentry duty. The barrel contained powder they discovered and the chest was full of pre-made bags of shot.

“Could you carry and fire this gun?” Baruch asked with a smile.

“Certainly it hardly weighs nothing at all even if you loaded it with powder and a double bag of shot.” Then Baragor eyes sparkled with glee at the thought of the gun being fired at an opponent in a confined tunnel and a hundred lead balls ricocheted off of the walls, floors, and ceiling. “It has a firing mechanism much like our organ guns of course I will have to fabricate a leather harness so that I can carry it slung under my arm making it easer to shoot.” He demonstrated by pulling back on the firing hammer and pulling the trigger. It made a metallic click and Baruch was quiet sure that when loaded it would make a much louder sound.

“Get it ready. Do not test fire it I am sure our Dawi kin have done so many times and I know you know how to fire a cannon. We do not want to alert the necromancer of our intent.” Their leader said before heading toward the Brewery staircase. Looking down he watched the Umgi move the last barrel as Cephas dumped the remaining wine along all four sides of the crack that outlined the trap door in the floor. As he did so Zedekiah ordered the assistant cook to bring down several buckets of hot soapy water to scrub the floor clean, he did not want his brewery floor to smell or to be sticky with wine residue he had a clean brewery to run.

Baruch watched as Cephas ran his hands along both side to the crack that outlined the trapdoor testing for a release. Using a lantern he illuminated the floor and felt for any type of depression and it was not till he got to the wall near the back of the trap door did he find what he was looking for; a latch and when he pressed hard against it there was a noise as four sets of bolts were released and a rectangular section of stone floor rose about a hands width higher than the rest of the room.

“Close it.” Baruch ordered in a voice that sounded more imperial than he intended. “Cephas place a Rune of Locking on the trap door and a Rune of Alarm. We are not ready yet. Place a guard in the room at all times.” Then he turned on his heel and went back into the common room and sat in the corner and began to smoke and as he did he discussed again with Wilfred and Lady Becca the locations and the time of day that the undead were most active. It was summer and there were still six more marks of daylight before darkness came the usual time that the undead attacked. How many the necromancer could raise would be determined by how effective he and the Brotherhood were at dispelling and banishing them back to the grave.

“Wilfred, I want you to send two riders to the farmsteads letting them know the situation here. If the riders can not get back before dark they are to stay there and return in the morning.” Turning to Lady Becca; “Rinn Becca I would like you to write a letter to which ever Baron or Lord your father swore an oath to. Let him know of your need for assistance in rebuilding the village. You and Wilfred can be very astute as to what you need and whom you want to move into the village, chose only those that will be loyal and productive. Send letters to the High Priests of Shallya and Myrmidia as well as Sigmar. Tell them of your needs and desires for the temples in Lodz. Tell them that you need them and do not forget the Priest of Morr.” When he mentioned them they both looked pale and nodded. “Good, please do what I have asked. You must think long term not just about the present that is my problem.” They nodded again and departed leaving Baruch to his corner in the common room as he with his priestly training of Gazul sensed outward from the inn utilizing the Rune of Enemy Detection looking for enemies of life and light and when he detected some vileness darkness, he noted its location on the map in his mind, the same map that he had seen in the tap room just last night. Every one in a while he would relight his pipe and take another sip of Zedekiah’s brew. Too bad it was not properly aged but still it tasted good.


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 July 2008 - 03:19 AM.


#100 Skull Krusher

Skull Krusher

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 03:41 PM

Kraka Draka - Part Eighty Six

He brooded and occasionally he would rise and limp to the window where he studied the village laid out before him. They were rebuilding the gates the south one was nearly repaired but he saw no one near either gate but of course the smell of food being cooked meant they were all gathered in the inn eating and drinking. His thoughts lingered on the food and ale only for a moment and he quickly moved his attention back to the gates. The winds of magic were still sufficient for his needs and he began casting a slightly different version of Raise Dead more like a summoning. He could sense their life in the forest beyond the village walls to the south. Wilhelm started the spell subtly with the smell of fresh spelt blood his own and mixed with the scent of fear and slowly began pouring magic into the spell in small increments, nothing that would alert the Dwarves below until it was too late. He directed the spell deep into the forest where they lurked out of sight of the light and the eyes of man. With a final twist of magic he cast the spell and waited. He waited for perhaps several heartbeats until he heard it; the primal howl followed by another, and then another, and another as the howls shook the forest leaves rippling outward toward the village of Lodz. Already a gray misty fog wreathed the top of the tower seeping down it stone walls to settle upon the ground forming an impenetrable circle of fear. Like the summoning he began his preparations for casting Wind of Death towards the two villagers putting the in a new plank in the northern gate. If he could not have them as undead then he would raise their spirit host.

*

The howling sound sent a chill down the spines of the villager’s. It was not that they had not heard the sound of a howling wolf it was that it was now spring long past the bone chilling winter snows when wolves banded together in packs and pulled down their prey. But when they heard the sound they looked toward the eaves of the distant forest that was nearly a bow show away from the village walls and expected to see dark shapes moving within the deep shadows and half expected to see the beasts charge through the nearly completed southern gate. There was nothing there but the silent dark trees with its forbidding darkness and they turned toward the tower and saw that it was shrouded in a white slithering mist and more than one of the workers pounding the last bolt or fastening the last clamp to the gate wondered if they were hindering their own escape or actually keeping evil out or perhaps worse keeping the evil in.

Today the villagers of Lodz looked to Wilfred Kassel and his three remaining comrades in arms, Jochen Herling, Kurt Sacher, and Eckart Von Stumm who for nearly three years had held the darkness at bay. When Wilfred and his comrades first arrived in Lodz many of the villagers first thought the seven warriors were deserters or brigands looking to make Lodz their own. But the seven had come each riding in on a horse and leading and an extra remount apiece plus a mule loaded down with provisions and assorted supplies and nearly two years pay made them out to be honest soldiers looking toward their retirement and were not to be trifled with. If not for the letter bearing the seal of the late Sir Otto Sedgwick urging and them to settle in Lodz their welcome from the close knit villagers would not have been very warm. But as it happened the night of their arrival the first undead attack came and the small militia unit made up mainly from the able bodied man of Lodz who had been drilled by Sir Otto’s aging weapon-master and the seven former warriors of Von Rudders Free Company blunted the attack slaying nearly all the zombies and ghouls before they disappeared into the darkness of the forest or crumbled to the ground.. From that moment on they were fully accepted into the village.

Three years ago none of the villagers connected the attack with young Manfred or his mentor, the professor from Altdorf who had previously taken up residence in the Sedgwick manor house. But he and Manfred both disappeared from the manor house and moved into the tower above the village the night of the attack. The manor house looked like a charnel after the attack and only Becca and a handful of servants escaped the massacre and it was they who spread the news about whose fault it was for the attack, her brother Manfred Sedgwick and Wilhelm Eric Von Dreyher, the necromancer. The fight against the undead continues as a small war of attrition between the villagers and the tower occupant and now the villagers not only looked to the former Captain now mayor, Wilfred Kassel they also looked to Baruch and his fellow Dwarves for their continued survival.


(to be continued)

Edited by Skull Krusher, 09 July 2008 - 03:21 AM.





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