Tales of the Fall
All Grins told us what he had learned from the survivors. He told the tale with such completeness, each word dropping with a finality, that I have endeavored to reproduce it here. I think for the dwarves this story will become a legend, a warning, a rally point, a prayer. May their souls find their way.
***** From the elder dwarf we first encountered, All More
It was at the end of summer that the giants began to become quite a nuisance around us. Larger and larger groups were being encountered, more dwarves being slaughtered. And it was then that our finest regiment was sent out by Like More, the regiment itself headed by his only son. Hi son was beloved by the people and his father, though his father was harsh at times. I was a close adviser to the king and saw much.
His son, Far More, argued that we should unite with the other dwarves in the other clans. That the long-forgotten differences should be buried, that unity was our hope. That at the very least, a way to save our women and children should be devised.
But Like More would hear nothing of it. He was a proud dwarf, he was a symbol to us all. He felt that we could handle it, that if we sent a force to be reckoned with and slaughtered some of them, that they might just decide to leave us alone. And he wanted vengeance.
So a force of 50 set out, resplendent in their plate armor and tower shields. We waited two weeks without news. Scouts were sent out. But it was as if the company had just vanished into the mountains. We still do not know what happened, but it seemed clear that they were not coming back.
Like More was broken at the thought of his son gone. His strength and vision left him, an old man suddenly upon the throne of our clan. After a month after the company's departure, we heard reports of a gathering of giants. Again, Like More decided to send out the troops. But this time, he led them.
Few were eager. Indeed, I pleaded with him to set up more defenses, to let our troops have the advantage of defended positions. That giants were not to be trifled with. He dismissed me from his service.
*****From one of the soldiers, Bury More.
We were with a second company of dwarves sent out to deal with the giants. We were a 100 dwarves strong, with warmages and clerics at our side. Our scouts told us of a camp a day's march away. When we arrived, we found that the giants were ready for us. We were hailed upon with a fury of stones. It wiped out almost of all of our mages and clerics in the first moments. Our front lines were broken, dwarven bodies everywhere. We had not even closed in on the giants yet.
But there we were, surrounded by these giants. A giant of a giant with a tree for a weapon strode forward. He laughed, shook his tree at us and spoke in a language I did not understand. But all of the giants started pounding their feet and the ground trembled. And they charged.
Our lines crumbled, dwarves flying everywhere. I was charged with protecting Like More. He was screaming and directing the troops and it looked like we might rally. Our surviving spell casters started to wreak havoc on the giants. But then, then that huge giant came over, knocking aside the dwarves almost carelessly. I took a blow from him and was stunned by his power. This was a monster beyond my abilities.
And then I saw it, I saw that monster crush Like More. He picked him up and tossed him like a sack of coal. I could hear him land with a sickening thud.
I went over as best I could and started to carry him away. I started running. The giants were distracted by a counter charge and my two friends and I formed up a retreat. We made it into some woods and could hear the fighting subside. We could smell the blood of our brothers in the smoke that circled its way through the valleys. I cried knowing that we could do nothing, that the end of our master and our clan was upon us. Like More would be No More.
We did our best to help Like More. He regained consciousness just once. He asked us what happened. He commanded us to tell him. And we obliged. His eyes glazed over and said, "Perhaps we will all join Far More soon enough. My pride, my pride, what have I done to my people?" And he slipped into a slumber, never to awaken again. That was three days ago and we have just made it here, to the site of the royal crypt. He must be interned tonight as is the custom of our people.
****Back to All More
We all waited, doing what we could to prepare. We thought even with our best troops gone, that our defenses could still hold. How could they even find the entrance? How could they get in if they did?
I know not how they accomplished it, but on the morning of the third day after the departure of Like More, the giants were at our door. They were savage, pounding our defenses, killing so many. Fires broke out, smoke filled our homes. People ran. It seemed all was lost. Indeed it was. But not for me and perhaps not for others. Some of us knew of the secret ways out of the caverns and we did our best to try and get others to follow. But in that chaos there was little that could be done. And soon it seemed we were cutoff as well. The main cavern was filled with giants, killing and rampaging.
But then, all of a sudden, we heard a tremendous thunderclap and saw a giant fall stone dead and others stunned into inaction. And looking, we saw a giant dwarf with a massive hammer that he was hurtling at the giants, felling them sometimes with a single stroke. It would return to his hand.
We heard a giant call out, "No, Grog!" And the giant charged the dwarf. The dwarf waited and then as the giant approached, the hammer swung out twice, felling the giant dead. The giants were taking notice.
The dwarf had a large emblem of the Carrot clan on his plate mail. He kept calling out, "For the glory of Kord, take that you filthy giants."
The giants paused to take this new development into account. Some of the few remaining soldiers rallied around this giant dwarf and they started to progress towards the ranks of the hill giants as the giants fell back. But then behind them were fire and frost giants urging them forward. And so battle commenced again.
And the dwarves were beaten back. More and more fell. The few civilians remaining fled down tunnels. And the giant dwarf, he called forth, unbelievably, "Kord, raise these good, fallen dwarves to slow the giants and allow the still living to escape." And dead dwarves began to get up and started attacking. The giant dwarf looked weakened from this crying out, but still continued to smite giants. We looked out from the mouth of our escape tunnel and saw that several of the dwarves were making it out and into other tunnels. The giant dwarf, whose raised army was already falling, saw that the bit of reprieve was at an end. And he called out again, the last we saw of him, "Kord, shake the cave itself, shield these tunnels with tons of fallen rocks." And we felt a large tumbling of rocks as the whole cavern's roof started to break apart and fall down. We ran as the tunnel filled with rock and smoke.
We know not who that dwarf was or what became of him. But those of us who survive do so because of his appearance. May he and his god Kord be remembered in our tales.
And so ended All Grins retelling. We drank our ale in silent. My thoughts were rushing.
The destruction of Like More was complete. The pride, the arrogance of believing oneself invincible. I find it hard to fathom and yet, yet, it strikes something deep in me. I too have this arrogance, I am sickened to say. Poor Like More.
But what of this dwarf. A dwarf of Carrot clan worshiping Kord? The Hammer of Thunderbolts? Could it be? Could it be Core? Could that be the mysterious smith? But why? Why would he hide himself from me?
Mords of Wisdom: Ruin and pride go together like hangovers and ale.