The Core Matter
As Core came up, he was bellowing, not really even looking: "The giants have not made it into the upper halls. We have the ancient defenses to get past, but otherwise we should get the tankard easily enough. As for the giants, they do have a prisoner, some scrawny dwarf. He looks in bad shape. It was odd; I thought I saw a Kord symbol burned in his flesh. It sounds like they will kill him at their morning gathering time, some time between dawn and and mid-day. So I was thinking..."
He trailed off as he noticed that there were more than two people around. Then he saw me. He visibly gulped and swore under his breath. I growled.
"Mord! How good to see you, boy. You are looking strong these days..."
"Core. How nice that you are alive." I spit these words out, feeling rage at my old mentor, he who made me think he was dead.
"Now, Mord. I know that I was, well, a little bit misleading in my death. But I think you know by now some of my reasons. Though not all of them," as he glanced towards All Grins.
"When you left, I was but the student. Now I am the master. Come, let us embrace."
I dropped everything and ran towards Core to tackle him. I heard Barrel curse at my ways. Core just grinned, "That's my boy" and flipped me down.
We wrestled throughout the cave. We thrashed and beat each other senseless. In my defense, I did wake up before he did. I consider that a victory.
I looked around and found the others eating away at a meal, All Grins talking about some adventures to get a hammer: "And there we were, surrounded by these green wispy creatures. Our guide was struck by one and instantly blistered and then erupted in flame. They were nasty. But Core took them out with a single word from Kord. It was amazing. FarCry meanwhile was fighting a black dragon and I was taking on some undead black knights. A single blow from this massive Hammer--"
"All Grins, good to see you again. So this is your new shiny hammOW!" I yelped as the hammer shocked me into the wall.
"Mord! Do not touch the Hammer of Moradin! Only a dwarf of pure heart and lineage can wield this without dire consequences."
"That would be you?" Barrel asked in disbelief.
"Ah, well, yes. I am now at peace with myself and the world. The stuff I discovered..."
And so it went. All Grins prattled on about being the last descendent of the last king of the dwarves, about how Core had realized this about him, and how they convinced FarCry to take them to where the Hammer was. It was apparently quite the journey, deep into the lands of the dead and the dragons, to the north. And now, to finish the uniting of the clans, they had to get the Tankard of Brotherhood, the symbol and magic of dwarven unity, left behind in their squabbles, here in their ancient home.
I was confused. So this was an ancient dwarf home? Core dragged himself up from the ground and told us that this was where the dwarves had lived for ages upon ages. Colonies had formed that grew into the clans we know now, except for Tackling. These colonies were ruled by this place and its dwarven king on his throne of mithral and rubies. The dwarven kingdom thrived for a long time in this way, but about five hundred years ago, disaster fell upon all sides. A colony to the north was destroyed by dragons, a colony near the dessert was beseiged by orc barbarians of the dessert, and the colony that is now ABrick clan, lost many of its members when it lent its support to the elves in their dark elf war. The dwarven king was sworn to support all of the colonies in their desperate times and this weakened the home force greatly. There were two colonies that had grown strong and were safe from these dangers; they struck up a civil war in a disastrous attempt to take control.
The king fell in battle, his family fled to the south, and a sizable faction of this dwarven home's population went under the lake; the Tackling clan was founded. That was FarCry's idea. In the dragon wars to the north, he had fought his evil brethren and became seriously injured. The good people of this place took care of him and he repaid them the best he could. The dwarven home itself was ransacked and its memory wiped from the dwarves, the whole sad tale being sworn to be forgotten as the colonies became their own clans and wrote their own histories. But Core in his travels had picked up a lot of the pieces of the true history and FarCry had a living memory of it all.
When the King fell, the Hammer of Moradin vanished. It was said that Moradin himself shed tears over dwarf killing dwarf and cast his Hammer from them, leaving but a prophecy and a clue as to how it could return, in a time of unity and need.
And so it was that we came to see the tale of the dwarves. And All Grins was the key, the giant war had been foretold, and its ending was to be here, a fitting closure.
Core has asked me to help him and All Grins get the Tankard while the others sleep.
Mords of Wisdom: Violence against your own kind takes a terrible toll.