Oh my, now this felt like an addition to a saga, so much lore and development added. The incompetent Von Karn, the very subtle references to you-know-who (I wonder when the Robin Williams in a lamp will show up .) and the ominous warning of necromancy added to vampirism.
Glad you liked it, dude!
I admit I enjoyed writing this one. Had a bit of smut in there I wanted, action, dwarves, vampires and some more lore about Arabiana.
Von Karn is becoming one of my favourites to write next to Vlad Drakul, there is such joy in writing a guy who keeps messing up constantly. A Starscream if you will
Best thing about Blight’s fluff/lore is that we can just add so much to it. We might get lucky and @JayKyburz and @IHG-BlightedPea might add some of our stuff in it :).
One, is my smut a bit to much?
Second, planning to add some backstory for Gryphons Crown in a shortstory next. Got some ideas, going for a different angle where the Blight does happen but its not the focus of the short story.
One: At least 50% of the audience is adult, the other half probably is as well. So it’s fine. As long as it doesn’t get smuttier or more exlipicit than this, it’s a good addition.
Two: I’m not certain if this is the right question, considering it wasn’t “Got some ideas?” but because it was a question as a whole: Have you played ‘Siege of twin peaks’? That could take place within Gryphon’s crown as far as we know. Can’t really add more two cents without knowing what the non-Blight angle is otherwise.
I was thinking of following the day of a pickpocket in Gryphons Crown during a Blight siege. Kinda give the city more of a backstory and such.
I have played the Twin Peaks map, I think I can eork it in somehow. Thanks dude!
BTW, are you up to date on Game of Thrones? Seen the last episode of this season? If not, don’t read the below.
They copied me! 2 weeks ago I posted the last chapter with the wall being destroyed by a frigate, and two days ago they totally copied me by breaking off a chunk of theirs with dragonbreath. The walls never amounted for anything! You… You lied, didn’t you? You’re actually R.R. Martins, aren’t you? You stole my idea!
I am up to date my good sir, loved this season
Alright, a new chapter. And no stealing my ideas this time, R.R.Gorvar.
Chapter 18: Oh no…
Two unlikely characters’ fates intertwine, good things are happening, and some boring stuff about three twats. (P.S. For getting the first scene; Beelzebub symbolises Gluttony, Leviathan is Envy and Asmodeus is Lust)
I like this one, it was a good build up.
I love the general in this, he keeps his mind focused on the job and telling the nobles where to stuff it.
Cale being a peeping tom was interesting, is this a thing among the Firstborn? He is a Firstborn right? It’s been a while.
Also the orc storyline is picking up a bit, you know me I love my dwarfs and orcs
All in all, good chapter. The only thing missing were dwarfs and some sexy shenanigans but that nude scene was a good first step in the right direction u.u
Thanks, and Cale was one of Mammon’s sons. A second-born. How and why a busy man like Mammon finds the time to date women is still a mystery, though. I know it’s been a while, I wouldn’t remember your one-appearance characters after months either.
Also, yes, there will be dwarves. No smut though, at least not a lot.
Chapter 19: With good leadership comes good results
I’m not too happy with this chapter and it’s quite short in comparison, but it’s a relevant chapter nonetheless.
A short chapter this one but I did enjoy it.
The only bit of “critique” I have is that the voice of the Orc Undead Lord kinda disturbs the narratives.
You write normally for the story and then have the big bold letters for him with no speech marks and on separate paragraphs. It kind of takes you out of the story. I can see why you did it though but that’s just my two cents.
I guess that’s fair. I normally use these to show when the main perspective is thinking, but for Thallal who’s thoughts are also the very hive mind of all undead and the corrupted lands he walks upon, it just sounds more fitting to make his thoughts as booming as his voice. But I’ll try to avoid it from now on.
It was just my personal pet peeve, you keep writing you feel comfortable with my friend
Love your work, please keep that up!
The mole king.
Chapter 1 of the fall of Gryphon’s Crown.
Gryphon’s Crown was under siege by the Blight. Although it was as if the world ended a month ago when the dead attacked, Bruna Griffsdottir was used to the moaning now. She heard it the moment she woke up, during the day and when she went to bed in the house she shared with her lover and little sister. They lived in a small house on top of an abandoned high rise building near the eastern edge of the city. During the summer it had a lovely view on the great forest of the elves to the east and in the distance on a clear day you could see as far as Dawnford. But during the winter it was a cold place and much akin like living in a box. The walls did not keep the cold out to well and most of the coin went to buying kindling and measures to try and keep the warmth in. On most winters Bruna and her household could manage but with the Blighters outside work and food dried up quick. As did their coin.
The last of the coin went with Tina to cover her school and food for the day. Bruna swore an oath on her mother’s deathbed that at least one of Hilde Griffsdottir’ daughters would make something of herself.
The dwarven blood on her grandmother’ side must’ve been quite strong despite it being mixed with human parentage because Bruna made sure every day that her sister went to school and had a future.
Bruna put a scarf around Tina’s neck despite the protests.
“I don’t want to wear a scarf!” Tina pouted angrily." It itches!" Tina looked much like a younger version of Bruna. A long haired brunet girl with brown doe eyes, both looking quite pretty but in a common kind of way. Where Bruna looked a bit stockier, due to her dwarven heritage, Tina took more from their father’ side and seemed more lithe. No doubt when Tiny Tina’s growth spurt would begin she would outgrow her bigger sister to in no time.
“I don’t care if it itches.” Bruna scolded her sister with a slight pat on the head before she gave the small bag of coin to her sister." You are to stay warm and do as I and Master Endrick say. Did you finish your homework?“
Tina rolled her eyes.” Yes…"
“Do you have enough for today’s lesson and lunch?”
“What do you do when you get to the ground level?“
A weary sigh.” I follow the path you showed me and stay in the sights of the guard at all times…“
Bruna nodded.” Good. and when school is done?“
Another weary sigh.” I follow the same road back and go straight home…”
“Good.” she kissed her little sister on the forehead." Now off you go.“
Tina placed the money bag inside her stitched blue coat and buttoned up.” But I want to work today. Look!" She pointed to her own hands." Small fingers, I can steal purses from pockets and everything.“
Bruna shook her head.” We don’t steal, Tiny Tina. Now go, i’ll see you here after school.“
Tina held the coin bag inside her coat. She looked up at her big sister, a sad look in her eyes.” This is the last of the money isn’t it?"
Bruna only replied with a sad smile and pushed her sister out the door into the white blanket of snow outside.
She could see her own breath as she waved her sister off. It was a cold day that day for certain. She heard Frina’s coughs before she saw her half-elven lover come down the stairs. Those coughs said enough, Bruna would be the only one strong enough to work that day.
“Did I just miss Tina?” Frina asked.
Bruna nodded with a smile at her lover and guided her to the breakfast table where their meagre meal awaited, some porridge with honey stolen from a merchant three days ago and a lukewarm cup of tea. Frina had always been delicate, that came with being an half-elf, but her beauty and smile always earned her coin in the theatre.
“You’ll stay in today, sweetling.” Bruna kissed her on the forehead.
“I have to go today, dear…” Frina coughed." The Globe is looking for a new actress for the part of Dawn. I studied all night to get all the lines right."
“Sweetling if you go now all they’ll see is a sick woman who coughs every five minutes.” Bruna ate some of her porridge." What about the small theatre? People loved you in that Ophra Elswin play.“
Frina took a bite from her breakfast.” Not many people go to that one anymore…it’s either the Globe or nothing…"
“Well…the Globe or the public execution…” Bruna took a sip from her tea." It’s Mother Mercy on the chopping block today. A lot of people going to see it."
“You’re going to work there today?” Frina stifled a cough.
“Aye, plenty of people there with purses who would love to see some street performance after a beheading.” Bruna finished her breakfast before she drank the rest of her tea." I’ll be back by lunchtime." Bruna opened the closet that held their coats and picked up her lucky hood. A white thing shaped like an eagle’s head with it’s beak being the tip of the front part of the hood. She found it on a sleeping dwarf on a cold night the previous year, just something to keep her head warm. Ever since she started to wear it her job for some reason became a lot easier. She never left the house without it, even on the rare few dates with Frina to a restaurant when the money was there.
Frina coughed as Bruna put on her white coat." I’m still going to that audition."
“No you’re not! You’re to ill.“
The half-elf stood.” We don’t have the money for me to sit idle. If I don’t go we’ll starve!”
“Don’t you worry about the money, I got that covered.” Bruna put on her shoes." I’ll see you later.“
Frilna wrapped her scarf around herself.” Don’t treat me like an invalid! I’m sick, not dying!“
She glared.” My mother was sick to first before she died in a winter like this. You’re not going, end of story!“
The sickness was gone now, replaced by anger.” You’re just like my mother, always telling me what to do! I left home to escape that!“
Anger replied to anger.” If you want to get yourself killed, fine! I won’t stop you!" Bruna snapped and wrapped the scarf around her own neck angrily.
“Bruna-” Frina tried to say but Bruna left the house and slammed the door behind her.
She hated arguing with Frina. They’ve been arguing for the past three days. It always started over something stupid like leaving the door open and letting all the heat out or who ate the last piece of bread without notifying the other. The passion of their love seemed to have died out. No sudden romantic surprises, none of the constant compliments, no sudden adventures in the higher richer areas of the city, no out of nowhere shag.
The last time they made love was over two months ago.
When they first went out, the world seemed just a tad bit brighter. The exotic actress whose voice could melt your inside, whose urge for adventure always kept you going to places you would never expect, eating fine foods and drink with the elite. Bruna didn’t expect the fire to remain lit forever, they were together for three years now and she loved every moment of it…but still she didn’t want that fire to be completely gone and replaced by the muck and gray of normal every day life. But she loved her so much. Wished for nothing more than be together with her. But that feeling of embers made her lash out.
She wasn’t angry at Frina but at herself. The last of the money didn’t go Tina’ studies. There was a bit more but it was spend at the Lady Jasmine.
She spend the night there with one of the men, she even forgot his name. He was handsome looking and she could afford him. She just wanted to feel something. The passion felt good in the moment, for the hour she had him he had her any way a man could be with a woman. Afterwards when she left the Jasmine the guilt struck her like a mallet. That was a week ago. Never again, she swore.
She would work hard to give Frina the house she deserved, to give Tina the future she deserved.
The first thing she would do with the money is get a doctor for Frina, fix that cough. And then they would dine like kings on the best food the black market had to offer.
Bruna made her way downward, through the slightly decayed stairs and ladders of the high rise building that once served as an apartment. She had neighbours in some of the rooms but most kept to themselves. Mostly people with little money like her, criminals hiding from the city watch and spice addicts.
She didn’t make her way groundside entirely like Tiny Tina but jumped off a higher level towards the ramparts.
The first time she saw the undead clawing at the walls her heart stopped. It was as an ocean of death given teeth and claws. Most of the undead were human or gobbos but there were times she swore she saw Blighters who were once children as old as Tiny Tina. The thought of losing her little sister to the dead was always on her mind.
She swore a second oath to her dead mother, if the dead were to break through the wall and the end would come…she would make sure Tina wouldn’t come back as one.
“This is all King Halmadir’s fault…” she heard a voice grumble. She reprimanded herself, to sunken into her thoughts to notice the guard’s footsteps on the snow. Quickly Bruna darted to the side behind a small wall on a lower rung of the wall. She swore the guards that snuck up behind her should’ve seen her but ever since she started wearing the white hood, she seemed to have an easier time avoid being seen.
It did not take long before she saw two of the city watch walk side by side, bearing the tabard of Gryphon’s Crown. Both were human, one a older pudgier man with an eyepatch and the second a younger man who was about her age.
“What are you on about?” the second younger guard replied.
“Well King Halmadir is supposed to guard out east flank, aye?” The first asked to which the second grunted in affirmation." Well ever since we captured his daughter the undead have come through. Doesn’t take a genius to find out he’s led them to our walls.“
The younger guard raised his brow.” Are you daft? No human being would ever send the dead on their enemies! Especially not a goddamn war hero like Halmadir.“
Their footsteps stopped as the older man pointed his finger.” You said it! Human! You can’t trust an elf. Pointy eared tree huggers…" he motioned to the undead below." A month ago when their giant spiders scaled the wall and attacked us, it wasn’t the elves who came to help! We had to rely on ourselves! Proper steel spears and dwarven shot!"
Bruna remembered the start of the siege very well. Although she had her family holed up in their houses, they could see the action from above very well. The fighting was fierce at first, as was with every siege when two mortal armies fought. The undead did not have appliances such as ladders or rams but they had giant spiders that could swallow men whole and giants that could smash gates to kindling.
When Tina started to cry, Bruna told her that the city’s walls, ramparts and gatehouses were made by the children of the mountain, for their kin intermarried with the human nobility long ago. They sculpted the walls like a artisan would sculpt clay, they provided blunderbusses and cannons that could blow holes through giants and had built tunnels all under the city for easy access. The steel gates were made from the strongest of metal the mountain holds to the north had to offer and brave men and dwarves defended the wall. As long as the city existed, Gryphon’s Crown would never fall.
Bruna saw the spiders climb up the wall as they met steel spears, dwarven shot and the ferocious tenacity that was the proud defenders of Gryphon’s Crown. When the spiders slew some of the defenders, their corpses did not rise to join the attackers for the Cyclop priests and priestesses had blessed the fallen with eternal slumber. So when the proud human and dwarven drove off the first few waves of undead it was only a matter of time before the old game of any siege began. One side starving out the other.
It would be until spring when reinforcements could arrive from the knights of Dawnford to liberate the city. By then many wold either have died of the cold or starvation. She held her arms around herself to try and keep warm with short bursts of shudders. A trick she learned from her mother.
The younger guard seemed to share Bruna’s thoughts." Doesn’t matter if the Blighters never get through, we’ll starve to death before spring’s here…“
The older man nodded. He paused for a moment before he spoke.” Say lad…you ever heard of the mole king?"
Bruna hid behind the post still but leaned in close, she heard of the mole king before…
“The mole king?” the younger man asked.
"Aye. The king rules the surface and the Cyclop priests rule the hearts of men but the mole king rules the underworld. It’ said he is one of the dwarves who helped build the city so many years ago. A simple builder with an nose for business. He build tunnels across the city, short cuts from place to place. Hideouts, eavesdropping spots, dead drops, smuggle roads, the whole shebang. His small gang of himself and some of his fellow builders is now the ruling elite of the entire Gryphon Crown’s underworld. Any bank robbery, any murder on an official, every bribe only happens with his say so."
Bruna frowned, sounded like a fairy tale.
“So…what’s that got to do with this?” the younger man asked.
“Well…” he pulled the younger man closer." I know a man who knows a man that can get you some smuggled in food for a fair price…none of that extra tax that goes to the king for…renovations." She saw the older man hold up his fingers as quotation marks.
The younger man looked shocked." But…that’s an capital offense!“
His older colleague replied with a snort.” Cant support an family with my salary, especially with the food prices rising."
“Dear God…” the younger man sighed." …is this normal? I mean do the others know?"
“Oh aye, even the captain buys her food from the black market. It’s either that or start eating the flesh of the dead like those poor sods we found in the slums last week.“
She heard the younger man gulp.” I…tried to forget that…“
A moment paused as both looked over the sea of the undead himself, Bruna trying to stop her teeth from clattering.
“So…do you see this mole king?” the young guard asked.
The older man shook his head.” No, he only sees you when he wants to see you.“
A few moments later the guards started to move on.” If you change your mind, just ask me alright Daniel?”
“Ta, Irwin…” the younger replied.
Bruna waited a few more heartbeats before she walked a bit further on the ramparts. She got off a few steps later towards a shortcut to the main forum of the city.
She knew the alleys like the back of her hand, which ways to go. She passed by people who sought warmth around burning metal barrels, a ‘gift’ from the king to look after his people. Shame about the no food thing but you can at least roast yourself on the fire, Bruna thought angrily.
She ignored most of the pleas for alms, she had nothing to spare herself. She took a right turn after the bird splattered statue of some dwarf when she heard faint moans.
At first she thought a person was in trouble and quickly ran to the noise. She quickly stopped when he saw the noise in question was a dalliance between one of the city guard and a rather plump maid. His trousers were halfway undone as he had his way with her, his head covered in the nape of her neck as their lovemaking reached a crescendo. Bruna felt like an idiot for a moment until he could see a glimpse of the guard in question. The scar on his cheek and the long flowing brown hair was all she needed to see. Captain Convenus, one of the captains of the more richer side of town. Married to the bastard daughter of the king and supposedly in his good graces. She frowned, why would anyone risk an affair with someone as mundane as a maid?
She noticed she was staring and quickly made herself scarce and walked quickly towards the forum.
Several men, both human and dwarf, were straying salt around them to melt the snow. When none looked she pinched a small bit and put it in a small bag. Something to spicen the food with later.
The cold dissipated when she reached the large forum. A large crowd of people milled around the giant stockades. Loud muttering and speech covered up her steps perfectly. Two guards were stood on the stockades, their eyes hidden behind visors. She saw a goblin behind a stall, selling rotten tomatoes for the upcoming execution. One gold coin for five tomatoes, a bargain. Already a huge row was filing in front of the stall as the goblin gladly sold his wares to the crowd. Looks like he was making a killing, pun not intended.
“Over there, look It’s starting.” She heard one of the crowd say. Bruna’s gaze went to a small opening forced by the guard as they had the prisoner in their midst.
Bruna is no stranger to executions, she had seen her fair share, but to see a Cyclops Priestess in chains and battered was something new. People began to boo at her, calling her a killer. Heretic and betrayer. But yet she kept her chin held up high. A Cyclops priest ascended the stockades with more guards.
It was time to get to work.
She unclipped a small knife from her belt and picked her target. A fat merchant with his purse on his belt was intently staring at the proceedings. With a quick flick of the wrist the man was separated from his coin. She quickly placed the coin purse in her coat before moving on.
“Children of God, hear me!” She heard the priest shout." The time for justice has come! Before us stands the woman who once was called Mother Mercy, now Abigail the disgraced daughter of King Halmadir! Leader of the Children of Light who is guilty for murder, theft, desecration and heresy!" More boos and tomatoes were thrown.
Bruna did not care as she picked another target, this time a wealthy older looking woman holding arms with younger man. Her son or lover, Bruna didn’t care. Another quick flick of the wrist and so to her purse was now in Bruna’s hands.
Two bags now. On a good day she would stop and not risk it. But she had to keep going, to get that money for Frina.
"It’s her fault the dead now scale our walls! It’s her fault we now have forever lost the cure to the Blight and the aid of our friend King Halmadir! Were it not for our saviour Lord Harold Barnsworth she would still be litting the countryside ablaze in what she claims is heresy!“
This made Bruna look up. There was a cure to the Blight?
The priest turned to Mother Mercy.” How do you plead?"
This time Mother Mercy spoke. "The cure was not a cure but a mix of dark magicks and heathen rituals. All those involved deserved death by cleansing fire. God himself told me to save your souls. I did as he asked. Now…my task is done. Now I will rest."
The audience booed loudly once more. Bruna noticed a few did not however as if they gave Mother Mercy silent support.
When Mother Mercy was pushed on her knees, the executioner was brought up. He was a dwarf dressed in black armour and a hood. He moved like a professional, kneeling next to the victim as he whispered to her. She gave a nod and muttered something before he stood up.
“May God have mercy on your soul…and may he forgive us for allowing us to let you so far astray…” the Priest nodded at the executioner. A swift flash and the life of Mother Mercy, Princess Abigail of the elven people…was over.
People cheered as her head landed on the stockades, a fever pitch ignited. Then there was a panic. A chaos. At first she thought she was caught. But then the crowd began to scream. She smelt blood.
Bruna was running, she did not know why. But her instinct told her to run.
She looked up. The guards were hauling off the Cyclop Priest as dark figures were assailing them. The dwarven executioner was fighting some blackness, Bruna couldn’t quite see. A woman screamed briefly before one such black shape descended on her and blood flew from her jugular.
“The dead!” someone cried." The dead have breached the wall!“
Bruna ran back into the alleys, past the confused homeless people she saw earlier.
“Run!” she screamed.” The dead are here!" Her lungs were going to burst out of her chest but she kept running. Her heart screamed for a break, a moment to catch her breath. For a moment she almost decided to stop.
Even before the homeless started screaming behind her she knew she was still in danger. She felt a hand on her shoulder, her stomach churned and turned cold, just like the breath in her neck.
A old habit kicked in, one her mother taught her. She threw the salt behind her as an inhuman scream deafened her. She did not stop and kept running.
The next thing she knew she was in a tunnel. She remembered entering one, her path blocked by the guard.
She took a moment to catch her breath, the fire in her lungs extinguished when cold air entered them. She took off her hood and patted off the dirt and dried blood from it. The eagle like beak stared at her. A faint smile appeared on her lips.
“My lucky hood…” she said in between breaths and placed it back on her head.
When she felt she could breath normally again she looked backward. The way was pitch black and filled with grime. But she did not feel lost. She turned to look in front of her and kept going. As if she knew where to go.
Her minds went to Tina and Frina. Were the dead really inside the city? Were they safe? She had to make it out of these tunnels, her sole focus on her family.
She expected the tunnels would lead her to an exit or a sewer…instead she arrived at what could be described as a underground castle.
Torches were all over the place, making the area feel nice and warm. The damp was gone, tapestries and portraits hung on the nice clean marble walls. She saw statues, piles of coin on tables and a large table.
At the large table was a dwarf, a old dwarf who was tinkering at some mechanical contraption. A large green single eye binocular was over one eye. Across of him was a bowl of soup and a spoon…but it was facing away from him, towards her. She turned around and saw the entrance she just came in was gone, replaced by a marble wall.
“Come now, Miss Griffsdottir.” the dwarf said in a kind voice." I do not bite."
“How can I trust you?” she asked.
The dwarf looked up from his work, a kind smile." Because I wanted to see you. No-one can see me unless I want to them to." He motioned her over. She hesitated.
“I promise you will see your lover and little sister again and I promise you they are quite safe.” he smiled.
“The attack at the market place was not aimed at them.“
She shuffled her feed.” Do I have your word?“
He placed his hand on his chest.” As a child of the mountain and by my beard, I give you my word.”
Bruna always followed her gut feeling and had a excellent judge of character. She knew who the trust and who to avoid the moment she first lays eyes on them. Now she felt…like she could trust him.
She stepped forward cautiously before sitting down across of the old dwarf. Her habits kicked in again as she took off her head and politely placed it on her lap. The chair felt nice and comfy. Like she could sit back and fall asleep. She fought that feeling however. She took up the spoon and gave it a sniff. The old dwarf did not say anything and waited politely for her. She took a sip from the soup…and eagerly began eating more. She couldn’t recall the last time she had tomato soup.
“You probably can guess who I am.“
She gave a nod.” The mole king.”
“Aye.” he confirmed.
Her eyes scanned him. He seemed more like a tinker, a kindly grandfather than a kingpin." I thought you would be different.“
He looked confused.” Different how?“
Bruna shrugged.” Just…different. Perhaps bigger? More scars? Not…" she waved towards him.
The dwarf looked to his vest before he went back to her." Oh, this? It’s my casual wear? Normally I do wear a suit of some kind when I meet anyone. But since time was of the essence there was no time for formalities…" he leaned back." How do you like my hood?"
Bruna’s eyes went to her hood on her lap.
“Oh yes, that hood was mine once. It served me well in my early years…I had it from a dear friend of mine from Arabiana. Her organisation all wore a similar attire. It’s a strange thing. With it you move more swiftly, know you way around every street and tunnel. One of my wizards had it tested and believed the hood enhances your mind in such a way that it…liberates your subconscious.” He placed his machine down and took off his one eye glass. “Tell me…have you ever heard the story about a mother being able to lift a whole cart with her bare hands to save her child trapped beneath it? Or of a miner being able to hold a wooden beam long enough for his friends to escape a collapsing tunnel?“
Bruna decided to try the soup and found it delicious.” I heard some of those, yes.“
The mole king smiled and placed a finger on his temple.” The mind is our greatest gift and our greatest curse. For without thought we would be like the Immortals outside. A beast forced to act on our base impulses. Eat to life, not life to feed as my nan used to say.”
“Why did you call me here, Mr Mole King?” she asked." Do you want me to return your hood to you?“
He shook his head.” No, if I wanted it returned to me you wouldn’t be here. It took me a year to find out what exactly. It was when you outran that vampire that I knew you had that little something more. Potential to be what I need to protect this city.“
She raised her brow.” Protect? All the stories say you are a criminal mastermind. You organise gang wars, smuggling rings…“
He leant his head on his hand.” True, I do all these things…because if it wasn’t me I would be someone else. Someone more inclined to incite riots, target the weak constantly and promote violence against the king. I helped build his city, I’ll be damned to see it fall."
“The Blight?” she took another spoonful of the soup.
He shook his head." Far worse my dear…my friends in Arabiana and Van Xia have recently confirmed that their largest threat has made landfall in Bucktooth Bay and have begun their march south towards us. You’ve managed to outrun one of them…"
Her mind went back to the black shapes that attacked the crowd, the blood and limbs that flew everywhere. The inhuman scream that nearly deafened her. She only saw a glimpse, a pale face of a creature. Long fangs, caked in blood, in a black robe.
“What were they?” Bruna asked." Why did they attack? “
“As to why I do not know but as to who…the Citadel once called them the Liberus Nocturna. The living night, eager to devour the mortal realm. You will know them as vampires.“
A chuckle came from Bruna’s mouth.” Vampires are a myth! They are just like black dragons and monsters that sleep under your bed.”
“Oh but they are real and you believe it to. If you didn’t you wouldn’t have thrown that salt over your shoulder.” the older dwarf sat up.” We believe what we want to believe. Some people believe Halmadir abandoned Sanctuary and Gryphon’s Crown because we killed his daughter, others believe he left the land because he couldn’t bear the shame…The hood has trained your mind to be open, to be able to see the monsters that sleep under your bed. There is a reason why we keep telling stories to each other ever since our ancestors first huddled over the campfire. To bound and to remember. To keep growing as a species."
The thief looked confused. “I…don’t understand.” She placed the spoon on the now empty plate.
The mole king smiled." Your God has created your people and mine to take care of the land. To mould Alundria to what we want it to be. He has given us independent thought for a reason, both for good and for ill. I love the mortals. I see them help others selflessly in their soup kitchens, I see them beat their children and cheat on their wives, I see them build structures that take decades to create, I see them rally under a banner to defend those whom they love, I see them create works of art that echo across history…I see them use the gift God gave them. This evil from Arabiana wishes to undo all that. To destroy free thought and became as mindless as the Blight."
“What do you want me to do? Join your…war?” she frowned." I’m no warrior."
“I want you to consider. You can steal and sneak, excellent abilities for a spy. The pen is mightier than the sword for a reason, Lady Griffinsdottir. With your help my people can find these vampires in this city and end them.”
The dwarf stood up." But that is your choice." He pulled out two bags from under his table and placed them on it." Some gold to help you until then.“
The thief took a moment before she held out her hood. The dwarf shook his head.” No trade. Remember, if I wanted it back it would be by now." He moved his hand towards one of the walls, a moment later it slid open from the left to the right." If you follow this tunnel you will end at the Lady Jasmine. The staff will not ask you questions. Return there in three days if you want to join us, ask for us." He turned to leave.
She took a step outside before she stopped, gold bags in her coat." Wait, ask for who?“
The dwarf smiled.” The Undying."
‘Hi, I see you’ve outran a vampire and you’re wearing an assassin creed robe with +3 stealth. Pretty nice stats, I would like you to become medieval Batman and protect this city.’
Nice chapter, Gorvar! Quite intriguing and with quite some promise for the chapters to come. And sorry if I remember things incorrectly, but does this mean that Mother Mercy is a decendant of Ophra? You know, because her father is that slimy elven prince?
Thanks for the read, dude!
Mother Mercy aka Abigail is not a descendant of Ophra. True Ophra’s mother came from the same forest as Halmadir but there is no relation. She was a huntress who settled in Dawnford with a human merchant but both her and Halmadir’s offspring are half-elven though.
Return of the mountain king.
Chapter 3 of the Tale of Two Kings.
The Twins, the passage towards the under realm. It was just as magnificent just as the first time he had seen it when he was a young beardling.
Two large statues in the shape of dwarven warriors that stood guard on each side of a massive gate. They were the size of small mountains, chiselled expertly by dwarven hands. The keen eyed eyed could see murder holes and windows across the figures and the gate itself. When he was young this passage into the tunnels that connected the realm of Coolcraig with the one from Orangecraig was guarded by hundreds of veteran warriors, both Mountain dwarves and the Cloudheads above it.
During the Second Troll war, the Twins held off Gorvar the Dragonrider’s orcish and troll hordes from above and the goblin tribes from below. No matter how many orcs were thrown at the gates, no matter how many goblins tried to tunnel in or how many dragons breathed fire and ruin on the gate…it stood. It’s commander, Thror’s ancestor Vili Hralgarson, claimed it would never be taken as long as his blood would guard the gates.
It was the last connection the Hralgarsons of Orangecraig had with their lost hold in the Iron Crown province, the last stronghold. Every Hralgarson swore to aid their kin in Coolcraig by defending the gate and when Orangecraig fell, reclaim their old home. For the Twins represented that last bit of hope that one day the clan could go back home.
That hope faded when Thror failed his charge and the Blight broke through the underground and slew most of the defenders. Including his son, Magni.
The few who survived the massacre sealed the gate behind them and never looked back, partially out of guilt but Thror knew mostly because they blamed him for the loss of so many dwarven lives.
Thror went into self-imposed exile and left for the human city of Dawnfort where he worked in the mines until the war for Sanctuary began and he was forced to face the Blight once more.
Now, decades later, Thror stood in front of those same gates he swore never to see again. With an army of dwarves across all of Sanctuary of a dozen holds, a warband of sellswords and camp followers.
He did not just want the Twins, he wanted it all. From the Twins to Orangecraig he would bring his people back home. This he swore, there was no going back. The first step forward was to reclaim the Twins.
Frenza looked up at the twins as she arched her head back." If I didn’t know any better, I would say your people were overcompensating for something."
Thror shared a wry smirk with his lover before he turned to his aides. Captain Hilde, a dwarven woman who led the Blunderbusses, Foreman Vrolgarson of the mining guild and Thane Burk who led a joined Gryphon warrior and Gnome force he dubbed the Clouds. Besides the three dwarves were there also three humans in his circle. The human captain in red armour and livery, Sir Johan the red knight, his blue haired sorceress Inigo and a nameless human wizard who tagged along with the army for reasons only known to him. Thror himself did not like the wizard, he never liked anyone who never gave their names, but his friend Ser Ophra vouched for him. As long as he kept his eccentric antics to himself that was all he needed.
The human sellsword knight folded his arms as he gazed along the gate." So what’s the plan, Thane Thror?"
“The plan is simple.” Thror pointed his pick axe to the gate." I’ll open the gate, kill everything that’s undead and claim the hold.“
Hilde and Burk snorted as the sellsword looked confused.
“That’s it?” Johan asked.
“There abouts.” Thror replied.” We secure the entrance and the three levels downwards. If we can secure those three levels we have a proper hold again before we march to Orangecraig.“
Indigo turned to the conversation. “And how do we do that?“
The Foremen replied.” The Blight Lord who made this keep fall did so by punching a hole through the gate. My men can plug that hole by collapsing a portion of the mountain above us.“
Indigo blinked with disbelief.” You plan to collapse a mountain on us?!“
He gave a grin.” Don’t you worry your little blue head about it lass, we got it covered.“
The old wizard gave a chuckle as well.” Oh god, we’re all going to die someday…” All turned to him.” Well we are. Some will die today even. Not us though. Well maybe one of us."
An awkward silence entered before Thane Thror turned to the Red Knight." Ser Johan, you take the Park Wrekers and follow Thane Berk to the upper levels and clear them out. Unless your men want to sleep in their tents again tonight we need the dormitories and barracks cleaned out. Afterwards you can help us clear out the rest of the hold.“
Johan gave a faint mock salute before he went off followed by his blue sorceress. Thane Berk slammed his hand on his bare tattooed chest before he followed the human.
Thror turned to Hilde, the Foremen and Frenza.” We make our way downward to the gateway and plug the hole. Hilde you give us covering fire from the upper levels, Vrolgarson you and yours boys follow me to the gateway. Frenza…" the orc was picking her tusk." …You stick with me." He turned to the wizard." Wizard…you…try not to get in the way.“
The wizard shrugged.” I make no promises.“
The Thane sighed. He held his pick axe tightly in his hands. His son’ words went through his mind. You will see the halls of Orangecraig one way at least, he thought.
” Alright then…" he slung the pick axe over his shoulder." Let’s get to work."
The Blight had claimed the interior of the Twins for many years. They shuffled across the stone floors for decades, moaning and groaning. The roof above was illuminated by bright crystal that would shine for all time. Some had fallen from the ceiling and the walls after years of neglect and the odd Immortal walked around with a crystal embedded in their eternally rotting bodies.
Dwarf, goblin and human corpses all together in one fortress that reeked like death. The massive door was like a wall to them, something they could not pass out of. When it finally opened it turned a few heads…who were quickly crunched by dwarven steel.
Thror’s pick made the first kill as a series of battle cries followed him. Dwarven hammer, axe and bullets flew as the children of the mountains charged to reclaim their mountain home.
The Park Wrekers followed suit with their own cries. Elven arrows flew as human and orc warriors seemed like giants to their dwarven peers. Although less enthusiastic than those who fought to reclaim their home, they did a good job as their Red Knight commanded them.
“Up the stairs men!” Thror heard Johan cry." Our legs are better suited at running than the dwarves!" A laughter was heard amongst the sellsword lines, a grumbling with the Gryphon Warriors and Gnomes.
Captain Hilde placed her gun to her shoulder and scored a headshot before looking to Thror." You heard that, my lord?“
Thror swung his pick axe before he pulled back the severed skull of a goblin blighter.” I’ll talk to him later." he swung again, splitting it’s skull above another’ skull.
Hilde called to her Blunderbusses." Covering fire for the miners! Lock and load, boys!"
Frenza cackled manically as she threw fire into the undead lines, the reek of death now mixed with burning decrepit flesh. The smoke of gunpowder wafted above her as more gunfire went off.
Thror glanced a look now and then at his lover and admired the fire goddess for what she was. He was in love with her, proud of her. For a woman who sought death, it made him fight all the harder.
“Just like Dawnford!” he cried out to her as they fought their way down.
“Except with more little hairy men!” she cackled.
As they fought their way down, their forces became more spread. This was anticipated. If even one blighter survived, that one could infect a wandering soldier on patrol and then start a whole new plague.
This place was to be their home, nothing of the Blight could survive.
“Keep going!” he cried." Keep goi-“
The ground shook underneath them. The walls above gave way. Dwarves cried out in a horrified moment before they were flattened. Out of the hole above more Immortals came crawling out like maggots out of an infected wound. They swarmed to the miners who barely had time to react. Vralgarson managed to slay one before one of the Immortals tore his throat out. As he fell the miners began to panic and the co-ordinated assault began to falter.
“HALT!” Thror cried as he stopped the advance. He turned to face the undead horde in front of them…only to see them stop. The creatures were still ‘alive’ but they seemed to be frozen on the spot. As if by magic. Thror turned to the wizard who lowered his staff from the air. He looked to Thror.” You said halt.“
The dwarf smiled.” Aye…I did."
Thror called for a regroup and send some of his warriors to assist the miners. Before Thror could reply a cry went out of the miners as one of them took command and urged them to keep going. The young dwarf helped his peers up and urged them forward. For a moment Thror swore he saw his son.
“Lad!” he took him by his shoulder." What’s your name?!"
“Hadgar Drakenson, my thane!” the young dwarf replied." I’m a miner of Dawnford!"
“You know how to plug the hole?”
“Congratulations, you just made Foreman! Follow me!“
The young dwarf only had a moment to be shocked before the cries of the undead brought him back.” Aye, thane!” He looked back." Come beardlings, we have a hole to plug!"
Above them more guns went off as scores more Immortals fell. The Thane saw the captain take position with her men on a balcony which gave them the sight of the whole keep and made it a shooting gallery. That was their last stop, now Thror and the mining crew had to fight the rest of the way without ranged support.
When they reached the gateway it was swarming with more undead who had heard the sounds of battle that came from above." Stay back, little man!" Frenza stepped forward and unleashed another wave of fire.
The Immortals fell to the ground or the abyss below, small torches that flickered briefly in the dark.
“Thanks, lass. I’ll be sure to have a statue made of you when this is over.” Thror nodded his thanks.
“It better have a brazier that is lit all day and night!” she cackled.
“It will, swear on my beard!” he promised. Side by side the dwarf and orc fought as they cleared the way for the miners. Years later a statue would be made in their honour and by Frenza’s request, a brazier was indeed lit every day and every night.
Three hours later, it was over. Hadgar, now Foreman Drakenson, and the miners used their picks to cause a small avalanche above that closed the destroyed gate. There was a huge celebration as the lanterns were lit up, the damages repaired and messages send across Sanctuary. The Twins were back in the hands of the dwarves. It would take time but the masons would restore the hold to it’s former glory and mining picks would be heard again in the mining depths. The keep was aired so the smell of death and rot was gone, replaced by that of warm foods and warmth. The dormitories were cleaned and were already in use by some of the warriors and the camp followers. Thankfully the walls were thick so none could hear the noise from the others. According to rumours, Thror himself took one of the rooms and bedded his orc lover. When he saw them both later in various stages of undress he could speculate. Post-battle passions were lost to Johan. Many bastards would be sired that night. But after all that joy there was still the sombre reality of those who did not make it.
By nightfall the corpses of both the Immortals and the dead were outside lit by bonfires created by the orc shamaness.
The Red Knight was used to seeing his men mourn their loved ones. His people would pray to God and make an eulogy for each person who died, mostly done by a friend rarely sometimes a lover and rarely a sibling. It is believed if enough people prayed hard enough their loved one’ soul would return to God where they would be in paradise. Johan hated that, he saw Cyclops priests or priestesses use that as an excuse to throttle money out of people.
The elves and gnomes were normally buried in the forest with a seed where a new tree would be grown in both their honour and honouring the spirits with continuing the cycle of life and death. That would still happen except it would be the ashes that would be buried.
The Orcs were more direct, they let their bodies be burned regardless of what way they died. they believed their souls would be send to the sun. Johan preferred this most of all, saved time and effort.
He waited until the ritual was done and everyone went their own ways. Most went inside the newly conquered stronghold, even from a distance Johan could hear the sounds of music and dancing and kegs tapping. Torv and some of the other orcs choice to remain behind and speak with the orc shamaness.
“Good fighting there, Johan.“
Johan looked down and saw Thror was stood with a pint of ale. The Red Knight took it and had a sip.” We did what you paid us for.”
“Still…a good fight regardless.” Thror replied and drank his ale." No Indigo?"
“Naye, she’s to busy rutting with an elf to regain her magic.” Johan had another gulp.
Thror gave a faint chuckle until he saw the matter of fact look in the sellsword’s eyes. "You’re serious?“
The Red Knight had another drink. Silence was his answer.
“Well…regardless I’m glad you decided to come along.“
Johan shrugged.” Coin’s a good motivator.”
“Not just coin though…” Thror replied. He turned to the human.” Orangecraig will be a fresh start for the both of us. A new province, away from your old man.“
Johan had another drink as he saw Torv laughing along with the shamaness.” Doesn’t matter how hard you run with your little legs, boss. The past always catches up.“
Thror shook his head before he had another drink. A moment of silence passed before he spoke. “There are two kinds of people. Those who remain chained to the past and relive their lives over and again. And those who melt those chains and make something new out of it.” The dwarf thane turned to him.” We’re not running. We’re forging something new. A new piece of armour to protect ourselves should the past come back. You already have done some of that. You already call yourself the bastard of Park so nobody can use that against you. As I have done with my time in Dawnford…“
He caught something out of the corner of his eye, his hand went instinctively to his sword.
Thror raised his brow, also cautious.” Seen something?“
Johan waited a moment before he shook his head.” It was probably nothing, ale must be kicking in…"
And yet he swore he saw a goblin…
The shivering coward before him pleaded for his life as he crawled back. He both hated and despised it.
On one hand he made a man a head higher than him crawl for his life. On the other hand he and his fellows barely put up a fight. His black armour was covered in blood and gore, fifty of their best warriors and he barely broke a sweat.
The Arabians were supposed to be good fighters, the rulers of continent. And yet every warband he faced, every city he sacked filled him nothing but with disappointment.
Without remorse he raised his axe.
The Arabian was no more.
He longed for a challenge, a real challenge. He turned and saw the rest of his Dark Dwarves and goblin slaves clear out the rest of the Arabians. Another village was burning around them. With a heavy grunt he withdrew his axe from the corpse and walked back to his tent. His men’s cheers faded quickly when he passed by. They knew better than to annoy their commander. His tent was the largest of the camp, covered in souvenits from previous conquests across Alundria and Arabiana. Among them many pieces of armour from Alundrian kingdoms, Arabian sultanas and pirate ships. But he prized the souvenirs from dwarven holds. Dwarven battered shields, rifles and even beards that hung above his bed. On his bed two scantly glad goblin females awaited him, motioning towards him seductively. He conquered them from a goblin pirate prince, a good fight that lasted hours. His goblin slave girls fawned over him and undid his armour.
“You were so strong, Balfog…” one cooed.” Fifty men all dead by your hand!”
“So virile…” another giggled.
Wordlessly he got onto his bed and took both his lovers in rapid succession. Even that made him feel empty afterward. He fell asleep with one goblin girl on each side.
He awoke with a start, something was wrong. Like he was moving in frozen time. The girls were no longer breathing and a shadow was in front of him.
His hands were on his axe when the shadow spoke.
“One is making his way to Orangecraig…” the shadow whispered softly." He seeks to undo what you did, Dwarfkiller…he seeks to slay the dragon.“
The dark dwarf stopped midswing.” …the line of Hralgar has ended. I made sure of it.“
The shadow lifted up.” The Hralgarson’ still life and will reclaim the lost hold and the secret it keeps…your secretssss…" the last bit he hissed." Quickly Dwarfkiller, go!“
The shadow disappeared, leaving the dwarfkiller alone.
His girls woke up, blinking tiredly.” My lord…" one yawned.
For the first time in a while, he smiled. He pulled in a guard from outside." Ready the ships! We’re going to Alundria!"
Nice turn of events, that last moment. I assume that dwarfkiller wasn’t the ironskin who made Thror fail his duties in the first place? That makes two significant enemies for him to face, with a rather ill-defended fortress not yet cleansed entirely and goblin caves probably giving entrance to invaders.
The first part was a bit awkwardly written here and there, but once we got to the present things became good and a nice read. Good story, Gorvar!
Thanks for the read, Mammon!
Glad for the constructive criticism, i’ll keep that in mind for the next stories.
Dwarfkiller is the same Dark Dwarf we see later on with Captain Lunatice.
Makes you wonder why this dwarf warlord ended up working with a goblin of all things…