Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year, 214AD

High up in the Axeblade Mountains, Grimli, commander of the Boar Company looked out over the pass. The heavy snow had stopped shortly before midnight and the sky had become clear. As he looked on, waves of green and purple lights began to flicker across the velvety night in a ghostly dance. 

The lights lit the entire landscape, showing the black masses of the high mountains and painfully white snow in sharp relief. Legend had it that the northern lights were the Children of the Moon, dancing across the night sky but Grimli had no time for such fables. 

The vivid display was nothing but tides of wild magic rolling across the high atmosphere but almost despite himself, Grimli felt at peace for the first time in years. The blanket of snow deadend all noise and the dancing lights flickered and rolled with such beauty that even the gruffest of Dwarves could not help but feel a little bit of wonder at the celestial display.

Glancing over his shoulder, he could see the fortified bunkhouse that his Boar Company had sought shelter from the storm in. Even now the faint sounds of merriment and the lilt of pipes could be heard faintly as if some shade from before the world had died played, remembering happier times when the world was sane. 

The door to the bunkhouse slammed open and Grimli's second in command strode out and grunted as he saw his leader. Deftly shutting the door with his ironshod boot heel, Flint stomped through the snow towards his leader carrying a couple of frothing tankards of ale. 

"Bewitched by the Childrens Dance I see." noted the gruff Dwarf, handing over one tankard and quaffing mightily from the other before smacking his lips with satisfaction. 

"Aye, it makes me wonder if we will ever see an end to the war and settle down to doing something more useful'" replied Grimli, absently blowing the froth off his own ale before taking a deep swig. 

"Bah! Not much chance of that with the high country infested with Goblin braves after Dwarf scalps or those damned Blackblood scum down in the pass"

Glancing down from their perch, Grimli could faintly make out the glimmering of watch fires down at the mouth of the pass, a sure sign that Krull and his followers were still holding out, despite the cold. Word had come through that it was so bad down there the Orcs had turned upon one another for food and that something terrible now resided in the bloodsoaked camp.

Absently Grimli spat off the edge of the cliff in the general direction of the Orc winter encampment. 

"Come spring when the pass clears, we are going to sweep down and give that cursed Orc a damn good thrashing." Grimli grunted. "With our new Golems and tanks, the elders have hopes we will drive the scum right back down the Old Road and even retake the Kragh."

"Hmm, mayhaps they're right" ruminated Flint, taking another drink. "The new Golems look properly fierce and if they work as well as the Technomancer Guilders promise, we should be in for quite a show!"

"If! If promises were gold, I'd be a wealthy guildmaster, not freezing my backside out on a mountain!" Grumbled Grimli. "No matter what they promise, it's going to come down to Dwarven courage and the strength of our axes that will see off that rabble!" 

"By my Bearded Grandmother, this cold is making me maudlin! Next thing I will be weeping into my beard like a beardling!" With that the Dwarven leader tipped the rest of his ale down his throat and belched with satisfaction. "Tomorrow morning, set the scouts out and lets see if we can find ourselves some Goblins to hunt!"

"Now thats more like it!" Flint agreed, tugging thoughtfully on his beard. "But in the meantime, lets go back indoors and get some more Ale, I'm fresh out" Tipping his empty tankard upside down to prove his point, Grimli's second in command turned back to the blockhouse and sparing one last glance out over the pass, Grimli followed.

"Some day all the mountains will be safe and our kin will live in peace, chief but until then its up to us hard cases to deal with those who think otherwise!"

With that he slammed open the door of the blockhouse and entered, bellowing for Ale. Grimli smiled, perhaps it was the will of the Ancestors that he fight and die defending his mountains but so be it. He would do his Oathsworn duty or die trying.

High above the lights continued their ghostly display, impervious to the thoughts of those far below even as the faint sound of a Dwarven drinking song began to lilt across the winter landscape.

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