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  • Added on: Apr 15 2008 07:38 PM
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Death to the Oathbreaker

This is my first submission to the Bugman's Brewery fluff competition, and was a piece I wrote for the War of Vengeance campaign on Asur.org. Hope you enjoy it.

Posted by Magni Flamebeard on Apr 15 2008 07:38 PM
Death to the Oathbreaker



Kergar Thunderhammer stood resolute atop the walls of the Citadel of Vaul, clutching his hammer. Even after close to half a year since the Elven treachery, his fury still burned strong. The Elgi had insulted the entire Dwarfen race, and would pay with the deaths of every last one of their treacherous kind.



He stared unmoving, jaw clenched out into the bleak vista that dominated the landscape. He could not see the World’s Edge Mountains, but he imagined he could. He missed the clean, crisp mountain air, and the comfort of life below the stone. As night began to creep along the ground and the walls were shrouded in darkness, his thoughts began to wander, and he remembered back to the events that led to him to be where he was now, and the terrible things he had witnessed…





*Five months earlier*



Stories and rumours had been trickling from Elven isle of Ulthuan for some time. Rumours of mighty battles, of magic tearing the land apart and flights of Dragons fighting over the land and oceans. Of thousands of Elves marching to war against their own kin. Of great feats of bravery and bloodletting, of war.



The stories were not believed at first. How could anyone be sure what was happening so far away? As more respected and venerable Dwarfs began telling their own tales of what they had seen and heard from outside the Old World, a terrible truth came to be realised. The Elves were in the grip of a violent civil war.



Unbeknownst to King Gotrek, the war ended and the Elves under Caledor sailed to the Old World and settled near the magical forests of Athel Loren, in an attempt to escape the predations of their evil cousins. The court of High King Gotrek received messengers asking for the aid of the Dwarfen armies, but the Dwarfs had no reason to grant such a request, though Gotrek did grant permission to dwell in the Dwarfen lands.



Soon after, another Elf was accepted into the courts of King Gotrek. This Elf claimed to be the King of Ulthuan, and was hunting down traitors to his throne. Longbeard Felgar, advisor to Gotrek Starbreaker, informed the Elf as to the location of his traitors. The Elven King left shortly after being given the information. However, King Gotrek was suspicious as to who exactly were the traitors. He had sent his son to warn the Elves under Caledor of the approaching army. Prince Snorri was by all accounts successful in his mission, and was supposedly travelling back to Karak-a-Karak. The King sent out a call to all of the great Dwarfholds to send a representative to discuss the Elves.



That was how Kergar found himself waiting outside the chambers of the High King, along with many other representatives of their respective holds. When it was made known that the King desired to meet with a representative from each hold, King Brogar Rockarm of Karak Vlag chose the Thunderhammer clan, a clan closely related to his own, to represent his hold. Kergar was seen as a capable Dwarf and was a member of the Karak Vlag Council of Thanes, and so was deemed worthy to represent Karak Vlag and meet the High King himself. The honour placed on him was incredible, and Kergar swore he would uphold it or die doing so.



The King was still having a meeting with the King of Ulthuan, or whoever he claimed to be. Kergar had seen him only briefly, and despite his lighthearted dress and glowing visage, he seemed intensely untrustworthy, and Kergar did not like him in the slightest. However, it was not his business to question who the High King met with. The meeting did not go for as long as expected, and Kergar was surprised to see the Elf emerge after only ten minutes with the King.



As the Elven King left, he spoke:



“The King wishes to think, and does not want anybody to disturb him”.



The Elf left, striding rather quickly down the halls until he disappeared into the darkness. One of the Hammerers guarding the door grumbled.



“There’s something wrong here lads, mark my words. It was bizarre enough that the King dismissed his loyal guards for this meeting, and now he doesn’t want us with him after the meeting is over? There’s something wrong here, mark my words.”



Another Hammerer spoke up:



“And I’ve never known the King to think alone about anything. He always wants his advisors around to discuss options and opinions; it’s always been the Dwarfen way, and his way.”



Kergar listened intently, as did the other representatives. A wizened old Runelord who Kergar had heard referred to as Dumac Thunderbrow sat quietly nearby, a look of intense concentration wrinkling his old brow. Kergar shuffled his feet. There was a feeling in the air, a feeling that something was very wrong.



Over an hour later, one of the Hammerers decided it was time to check on the King:



“He could have fallen asleep, he could still be thinking, or he might need our help. I say we open this door.”



The other Hammerers agreed, and eight of them began the process of opening the door to the King’s chambers. The door opened, and an unpleasant stench wafted out. Nobody could see past the broad shoulders and tall heads of the Hammerers, but it was obvious there was something wrong.



One Hammerer dropped his weapon. A Hammerer is supposed to keep his weapon on his person at all times. Another fell to his knees. Two staggered backwards and fell over. Kergar and numerous other Dwarfs looked over the fallen Hammerers.



Kergar gasped, and his eyes filled with tears. The Hammerers who were not disabled by shock and grief lurched and charged into the room to kneel crying at the body of their King. Runelord Dumac and a few other high ranking Dwarfs walked into the throne chamber, confusion evident in their steps. Kergar could not bring himself to move, and all around him Dwarfs fell to the ground and onto the walls, sobbing and yelling their pain into the uncaring stone, filling the King’s halls with wails of anguish and failure. All Kergar could do was fall to his knees and look at the ground.



The Hammerers shed tears onto the dessicated corpse of their master and the severed head of his son. Some began tearing the hairs from their beards with their hands. One expressed his feeling of failure between choked sobs:



“We swore an oath, and oath never to let this happen! We swore an oath! And on our watch, we let the King lay dying, and we did nothing…we broke the oath, and failed our King!”



The sight of such strong Dwarfs, who had remained stoic as they saw friends torn asunder and brethren trampled under the feet of monsters, breaking into tears and losing all self-control, added to the pain that every present Dwarf felt.



Kergar climbed to his feet, and with a roar, swung his axe into the wall next to him. Other Dwarfs began grumbling and growling in a furious fashion. For some the sadness began to wear away, and was replaced by rage. Vengeance would be had. The Elves would pay with every last drop of blood from their entire race. Their women and children would suffer. The Dwarfs would take their vengeance in the blood of those who killed their King, and nothing would stop them.





*Four and a half months later*



Kergar’s first image of Barak Varr was not one he would soon forget. He was expecting it to be bizarre, not being a proper Dwarfen mountain-fortress. He was expecting its denizens to be bizarre, considering the type of Dwarf it would take to go out onto a ship and sail the oceans. Sailing was an Elven occupation and not something that any self-respecting Dwarf would indulge in. Yet all his expectations did not prepare him for what he saw when he arrived there.



Kergar did not find Barak Varr particularly interesting once he got past the huge stone walls that surrounded the port fortress, and even those were nothing Karak Vlag didn’t have. Even the bizarrely dressed merchants and sailors did not surprise the gruff Thane, though some of his warriors stared interestedly and the Longbeards growled in contempt. It was the sight of the true Barak Varr- the part one will only see when you venture to the sea side of the fortress- that was such a memorable sight. Hundreds of Dwarfen pirates, with their peg legs and eye patches, limped and stalked on and off ships and around the port. The occasional Elf could be seen, but they were eyed scornfully by each and every Dwarf that passed, and were obviously feeling very uncomfortable. Huge seaside Bolt Throwers protruded from the rock, and many more lined the rim of the defensive sea wall. Dozens of Dwarfen ships were patrolling the waters or lying at anchor while their crew went about their business. Kergar turned his back to the sea and spoke to the head of his Longbeards, Skalf Degrinsson:



“Let’s go find Dumac. All this fresh air is making me sick”



Skalf nodded in agreement, eyeing the Dwarfen pirates imperiously as they went about their business.



“Indeed my Lord, the sooner we are done here the better. This is no place for a Dwarf.”





*Four hours later*



Kergar stepped into the Troll’s Skull tavern, his beard messy and unkempt from wandering around in the heat of the streets for four hours. He had been forced to find a barracks for his warriors to wait and was accompanied only by Skalf and three of his most venerable Longbeards.



The streets were overcrowded, and it was nigh on impossible to move a fully armed Dwarfen force through them. Frustratingly enough, a few of the Dwarfs had even been pick-pocketed by the thieves that frequented the streets, and one had been harassed to the point of violence by a wazzok trying to sell him a trinket at an exorbient fee. Most of the Dwarfs were happy to be left out of Kergar’s search, and Kergar was happy not to have to worry about them while he wandered the strange town.



He stroked his beard as he wandered the tavern, his other mailed hand straight at his side. The tavern was hot and crowded, Dwarfs clad in some truly bizarre attire wandering around laughing, drinking, and swapping tales.



Skalf and his Longbeards marched behind him, doing their utmost to disguise their desire for a drink. Kergar was not lost on this, and allowed them to get themselves a beer or three while he searched for Dumac. As he made his way through the throng of bizarrely dressed Dwarfs, an armoured fist rapped on the back of his helmet. Kergar turned and before he could protest, a Dwarf clad in leather armour and chainmail, with a crossbow strapped to his back, grinned and spoke:



“Greetin’s milord Kergar, Dumac’s been waitin’ for ye. Me name be Thordred. Thordred Greenbeard they call me! I’ve come from Karaz-a-Karak to fight for Runelord Thunderbrow.”



Kergar frowned at the Dwarf’s attire and manner before replying:



“Very well. Take me to Lord Dumac”



Kergar followed the Dwarf as he wove his way through the crowd. The Dwarf was obviously of a rank similar to Thane if not as much, but his manner suggested something entirely different. He definitely did not act like a Dwarf of noble birth. In fact, he was likely a Ranger. They tended to speak improperly and act like they’d been hit on the head. Kergar stared at his crossbow and decided he must be some sort of Ranger leader. He stored that nugget of information for later.



Thordred led him to a table, where a gruff-looking Dwarf that could be none other than Dumac Thunderbrow sat, his runestaff leaning on his lap. On his left sat another Dwarf in full battle armour, who stood and saluted to Kergar.



“Greetings Kergar Thunderhammer, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. I am Balin, noble of Karak Eight Peaks, here to serve under our Lord Thunderbrow.”



Kergar nodded back. He already liked Balin a good deal more than he liked Thordred.



Dumac looked up at Kergar with wizened eyes, a twinkle of youth sparkling there despite his age, and smiled briefly at the mention of his name. He grasped his staff with both hands and used it to help him stand. Then it was Kergar’s turn to smile. From what he had heard, Dumac has no trouble fighting with the vigour of a much younger Dwarf, and certainly didn’t need the staff to stand. Dumac continued to stare at Kergar, as if judging his worth by looking him in the eye. He began to feel acutely uncomfortable. Finally, Dumac spoke:



“Kergar Thunderhammer, I have been expecting you for a while. It is good to finally meet you.” Kergar bowed briefly.



“The same to you Lord Dumac. I have been looking forward to fighting under your command. What are your orders?” A twinkle of amusement flashed in Dumac’s eyes.



“Quick to get into business are we? Indeed, Balin seems to be the same-” Balin gave a small frown, “-but I think I have stayed here long enough myself. Balin. Kergar, Thordred, gather your troops and meet me outside the gates. I have other Dwarfs for you to meet before we get moving.”



With that, Dumac sat and began reading a small book produced from a pouch on his waist. Obviously that was the signal to get moving. Balin marched from the bar, Kergar quickly went to retrieve Skalf, and Thordred began conversing with a crossbow armed pirate.





*Two weeks later*



Kergar shook his head to clear his helmet of the dust that descended on him. The body of a Dwarfen warrior had fallen and just missed him, kicking up a cloud of choking dust while wicked crossbow bolts continued to rain down upon them. Skalf yelled oaths at the Dwarfs climbing the siege towers, willing them to move faster and fight harder. Kergar looked up, seeing the Dwarfs and evil Elves fighting ferociously in pools of blood for the walls. The Dwarfs had the advantage of numbers, but the Citadel of Vaul was not going to be captured without a fight. Thordred was commanding the Quarrelers, directing deadly accurate volleys that scoured the walls of Elves before more stepped up to replace the dead. His fire support was crucial for the Dwarfs waiting to climb the walls and those attempting to crash the gate.



Clouds of dust thrown up by booted feet, falling bodies and bolts that missed their target made the battle seem all the more hellish. Many a Dwarf received a bolt through the head without even knowing he was being shot at, and even their finely crafted helms were not perfect protection.



Balin and his warriors were manning one of the siege towers, and were making excellent headway onto the walls, advancing through blood and screams to take more and more ground on the walls. Druchii mages attempted to stem the flow of Dwarfen warriors, but most of their spells were dispelled by Dumac and the less senior Runesmiths. The spells that got through did too little damage to turn the tide, and the Dwarfs pushed resolutely through the storm of magic and bolts to strain the Elves all the harder. Batteries of Grudge Throwers poured rocks over the walls, crushing Elves, destroying buildings, collapsing walls and throwing up more dust.



Kergar looked around him and decided it was time to join the assault on the walls. He grabbed Skalf and pulled him into the protection of the closest wooden construct. It irked any Dwarf to build something out of wood and not stone, but there was simply not enough time to craft stone siege towers. Even if it would’ve been useful, thought Kergar, as he looked at the siege towers that had collapsed and crushed the Dwarfs inside them.



Fury filled him at the thought of more of his brethren dying every second they waited. He and Skalf climbed the floors inside the tower, pushing past the less eager Dwarfs, and shortly after emerged on the walls. Dark Elves screamed chaotic battlecries and spat furiously at the Dwarfs they fought, their faces burning with insane hate. Yet insane hate was not enough to stay the vengeance of the Dwarfs, and slowly the Druchii were being forced to abandon the walls, one way or another. Once the walls belonged to the Dawi their superior numbers would do the rest. Kergar shook his head. That was the thinking that would lose a battle.



He hefted his hammer and lunged into the press, crushing shoddily made chainmail and pulverisng frail Elven bones with every swing. Skalf and his Longbeards fought like the professionals they were, cleaving their way through the Elves with vengeance in their hearts and fury on their faces. Under assault from such stubborn enemies, and so many, the Druchii began to much more actively abandon the walls. They swarmed down ladders and steps to reach the ground, and as they retreated back to their next line of defence the few Quarrellers on the walls followed them with accurate volleys of bolts. The Dwarfs charged furiously, trying their hardest to catch the fleet footed Elves. The last organised Druchii turned and hastily made a spear wall, but the Dwarfs were not to be denied their vengeance and the Elves were quickly overrun.





*Three hours later*



The Dwarfs celebrated throughout the night, raucous shouts and inebriated yelling filling the night sky. Kergar drank until he was content, but no much that he couldn’t think straight, and discussed the battle and the war’s future with Balin, Thordred, Dumac and the other Thanes. Dumac was speaking:



“It was a great victory today here lads, but there will be a lot more to come. The Elves are a powerful foe, not easily routed. From here we move onto Ekrund, and if everything goes to plan we should be moving to retake Mount Silverspear within the month. High King Durgan will personally assist us.”



The Dwarfs nodded. Kergar spoke next, raising his mug in a tribute:



“To our victory today, and to the glory of the Everlasting Realm! The power of the Dwarfs shall win this war, and shall never fade!” The Dwarfs cheered and raised their own mugs. Dumac smiled once again and stood, leaning on his staff as he did so.



“For Griminir!”



Every Dwarf in the bar cheered.



“For Valaya!”



The Dwarfs cheered once more.



“For Grungni!”



The cheering reached such a crescendo that the roof started to shake.



“For the Everlasting Realm and the mighty Dwarfen Empire!”



Amidst the mad cheering of their fellows, the Thanes stood. As they raised their mugs into the air to complete the toast, images of vengeance and victory filled all of their heads. The war would continue strong and fierce, and they who betrayed the Dawi would die a traitor’s death.



“Cheers!”



From outside the tavern, a solitary Dwarf dressed in simple clothing watched the celebrations. The handle of an axe protruded from his cloak, and a brilliant white beard that trailed to his feet made gave him an appearance of grandeur, despite his humble attire. He smiled.

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