Thursday, June 16, 2016

Gromor the Grim. 17

The trip from Mystwinter to Valturm took only a few hours by air. Below, Niro and Hoddie followed on horse back with Yarden running at their side. They traveled by night keeping themselves hidden to sleep during the day. They passed many Dwarven villages as they traveled and found a few of them in ruins. Bly flew into the first village with Rowyn to investigate. The village was covered in mud. The houses and buildings were all splattered with dirt and the streets were a like a river of mud and debris. This was obviously the work of one of Brams elementals. The second was much bigger, more like a small town with a seaport and a very large market and business district. As Niro, Hoddie and Yarden rode in they looked around and saw the dead bodies of hundreds of cattle and Dwarves spread all through the streets. Hoddie jumped down from Akhrua's back and slipped his hand into his cloak and grabbed one of his daggers. The town looked as if a hurricane had dropped down on it. Every tree had been ripped out from the ground and tossed through the air. Most of the houses had been completely demolished and the homes that still stood were all severely damaged.
"I think we're to late." Hoddie said as he kicked an old wagon wheel onto the side of the road. "He's already been through here."
"We should look for any survivors." Niro suggested. "There could be people here trapped in the debris."
"I hope not." Yarden said. He turned his nose away from the awful smell of rotting flesh. "If there's anyone buried in here, not even my sensitive nose would be able to find them."
"We should look anyway." Niro said. "Just to be safe."
For hours they picked through the debris. They went through the remnants of each and every house, shop and building. Niro lifted massive walls and dug through great mounds of debris until they were all exhausted. It wasn't until the last house that they heard something to give them hope.
Yarden had been picking through what was left of one of the many shops when he heard a soft moan. His ears perked up and he stopped for a second to listen. It wasn't very loud, as a matter of fact he actually thought it was one of the many crows that had been picking at the dead until he  heard a second cry.
"There's something here!" He shouted to the others. Niro and Hoddie hurried over to see what he had found.
"What is it?" Hoddie asked.
"I heard something over there." The Yetisan pointed to a small mound of broken wall. He had started digging through it when he saw a piece of yellow material sticking out of the wall.
"Help me lift this."
Niro came in and reached down and grabbed the side of the wall and heaved it up and flipped it off to the side. Beneath the wall they found a Dwarven man lying there unconscious. His clothing was all covered with blood and they could see both his legs were broken.
"Don't touch him!" Niro said as he held Hoddie back. "He needs a healer, call Rowyn and the others."
A few minutes later, Rowyn and Bly came flying in to land right beside them. As soon as she saw the dwarf, Rowyn knelt down at his side and held her hands over him. A golden glow spread out from her into the dwarf filling his body with her healing power. The dwarfs breathing became a little more sturdy as his eyes started to flicker.
"He has excessive damage to his heart and lungs." She said sadly. "All his ribs are broken and his legs. I have started his body to heal. Now all he needs is someplace safe where he can rest."
"Can you wake him?" Bly asked. "He might be able to tell us what happened here."
"I can try." Rowyn moved her hand up to his head. In a few seconds he woke up and his eyes opened and he made a soft moan.
"Aiya Sir." Bly said softly. "Don't try to move. Your body's been crushed and there is a great deal of damage. We are trying to heal you but the damage is to quite severe. You will heal in time, but now you need to rest."
"Mmmmmmm!!" He moaned with a weak smile. "I thank you for your help."
"My name is Bly." She told him. "These are my friends. Can you tell me your name and what happened here?"
"Aye lass." He coughed. "My name is Gromor Kilgore. I am the second son of Gozurim Kilgore and the master of Kilgore mountain the third richest silver mine in all of Hernborim. I have the honor to yield the mighty Scourgebane forged over a thousand years ago in the heart of Kilgore mountain. I have always been a proud and strong warrior able to claim many victories for my clan, but on this day it was my heart that was my downfall."
"Tell us what happened Gromor." Niro took Hoddie's water skin and put it to Gromor's mouth and gave him a sip of Goblin wine. Gromor winced at the powerful taste.
"Thank you Lad. That was a powerful brew made for a dwarf. Now where was I? Oh yes. It had been a busy day in Valturm. I came in with five of my warriors intending to challenge Leda Redhelm, the mistress of Valturm for her hand in marriage. This was my sixth challenge. Three I lost, two I fought her until the judges declared a tie to our battle. In a tie, Mistress Leda as the challenged gets to make her own choice whether to accept my proposal or to refuse me.
As we arrived at the city gate, we were greeted by Thorid Ironbrand, chief Gatemaster of Redhelm keep.
"Hail Gromor Kilgore." Thorid called from his post at the top of the gate wall. "We are honored to have you back at Redhelm Keep. To what do we own the honor of your visit?"
"I come again with a new petition for the hand of your mistress Leda." Gromor called back. "This time I have added mithral to my armor. I won't be so easy to defeat this time."
"You can make your challenge if that is your wish Gromor." Thorid said as he pulled the switch to open the gate. "But me thinks the result will always be the same. She will win and you will lose. Mistess Leda's heart will always belong to her dead mate Egon. No one else with ever share her bed. You should accept this and find another who is more interested in your petition."
Gromor grumbled and turned his horse on away from Thorid and his unwanted advise. He had been watching Leda all his life, from back when they had both been young and training in Valturn's city guards straight up to the day she and Egon took the mating ritual, That was one of the worst days of his life. That day he stood in the crowd of her mating ceremony and watched as the woman he loved promised her life to another. It was a dark day for him indeed. And worst of all, being from Valturn's closest neighbor, Gromor had to swear his friendship to this revel for his love. Everyday he had to watch as they rode out and hunted together. They laughed and practiced battle strategies looking so happy together. Gromor had even fought at Egon's side in many encounters with the Dark Elves and the attacking Goblins on Valturns eastern border. If only his hammer could make one accidental slip.
On the day Egon died, Gromor had been many miles away in Lands End negotiating with the diggers for new terms in their contract. He had wrapped up all his business and was on the road back home when a rider intercepted him with the news about the Troll attack on Valturn. The rider said that three Goblin troops had invaded the northern border of Hernborim near the county of Grostein, west of Valturn. Leda and Egon Redhelm along with troops from both Valturn and Grostein had rode out to intercept the Goblins before they could make it to Grostein and the first of Hernborims many iron and copper mines located in the northern mountains. The report said that Leda caught the Goblins off guard as they were attacking Grostein. She had surrounded the city and slipped in during the night and wiped out two troops of Goblins.
Egon on the other hand didn't have the same luck as his mate. As Egon and his troops marched north, a troop of Gobins caught him as he tried to sneak into the city of Rokonar to try and defend the city's iron mines. The fighting was fierce, Egon armed with his battle hammer and dagger took down 16 Goblins before the unfortunate blow that broke his helmet and crushed his skull. His first lieutenant was able to save the mines and rescue his body and get it back to Valturn so Leda could give her mate a proper Dwarven funereal.
Now that Egon was dead, Gromor saw this as his chance to make his way back into the Battle mistress's life. After waiting a proper amount of time for grieving, Gromor packed his warriors and made his way to Valturn.
From Valturns city gate, Gromor guided his men through the lust forest pass the lumber yards full of tall red and white pines. The sweet smell of fresh tree sap and flowers filled the cool morning breeze.
Rabbits and other small wild life scampered and run away as they made their way along the long twisted road. As they traveled, Gromor went over his petition over and over in his head. He was convinced that this time, Leda would hear that what he was saying was coming from his heart. He would pledge to her half a years worth of silver from his mine. Twenty horses from his prize stable and his heart forever more. Surely this time she would give in and accept his proposal.
As Gromor and his warriors rode in through Valturn, the skies grew grey and the wind started to blow more fiercely. Thunder cracked far off in the distance scaring the horses. Gromor pulled back on  the reins and tried to sooth his small mount and keep it under control. Beside him, Onar Oakbranch grabbed his arm and pointed out over the horizon.
"Gromor." He said. "Look!! Something attacks that village!
Gromor looked out and sure enough, something was flying around over the village ahead of them sending lightning bolts down into the village.
"By Hekkeal's beard!!" His hand went quickly to the hammer at his side. "That be Leda's village!"
"Sure as we stand here it is!" Onar said. "But what is that in the sky attacking? A Banshee?"
"I know not." Gromor said. "But this be my chance. If we can kill it, Leda will be in debt to me. She will have no choice but to accept my petition. Gather your weapons, we're riding in!"
With Scourgebane set and ready, Gromor slapped his pony into a charge and set his warriors on into the ride for Leda Redhelm's heart.

High in the afternoon sky, right over the village that housed the manor house of Leda Redhelm, huge gray clouds boiled and rumbled. From deep inside, an hysterical laugh could be heard between thunder and lightning strikes. On the ground, Dwarves run for the cover of the great trees in the forest while warriors set about loading and firing bank after bank of arrows and missles into the clouds at the attacking magi in the sky. Diamond tipped arrows were launched at Bram as he dropped down to blast again and again at the village. Smoke filled the sky and fires blazed out from each burning building as the Dwarves fought trying to save their homes from destruction. Any Dwarf with water magic had been ordered in to try and stop the fires but it was to late. Every time Bram saw a magi directing his water spells, he would launch a new set of strikes down at the poor unfortunate little wizard. The village lawns were littered with the bodies of the dead, both magi and warriors.
With his ring back on his finger and Leda dead, revenge was all that was on his mind. Bram would make them all pay for what had been done to him. Calling on the powers of the ring of Air, Bram sent strike after strike down on a group of Dwarves set high on the burning manor house firing iron bolts at him. Between lightning strikes, Bram ducked and dodged the iron bolts that were coming with uncanny precision. Closer and closer the iron arrows came to him making him fly higher or drop lower out of their range. He wasn't sure which, but one of those Dwarves was magically guiding their shots and protecting them at the huge mounted crossbow. If he didn't figure out which one it was, they would soon find their mark and he would be hit and that would end his revenge.
[Give up now.] Screamed a voice in his head. [You don't deserve revenge. Your the threat these people are running from. Just let it go and let Nestor take you back down to your punishment.]
"Never!!" Bram screamed. "I will never give in! I will destroy them all and make Tagittia mine!!
Switching his vision over to second sight, Bram looked down on his attackers. One Dwarf standing just to the side handing each bolt over to the Dwarves manning the crossbow had a bright blue glow about him. That Dwarf had to be the one guiding the attack. Swerving to avoid two arrows, Bram lifted himself high up in the sky then called on the power of his energy ring. He set himself into a dive then formed a shield of power in front of him. Arrows came in and pinged off to the side as he dived down. Below he could see the Dwarves setting two huge bolts in to the crossbows and taking aim at him. At that moment, Bram let loose with the power of the Energy ring. The wizard of the group fell screaming to the rooftop and grabbed his head. In seconds the wizard started twitching and convulsing as the energy inside him started building to a critical point. As Bram called on his lightning for a final strike at the warriors, the wizard exploded into a thousand pieces which rained down all over the roof. With his protection gone, the Dwarves tried for two last shots at Bram, but it was to late. Lightning struck down at them, frying them all in place.
With  final blast of hysterical laughter, Bram turned back up into the afternoon sky and headed out toward the white pine forest. Below him, Gromor and his warriors charged in with their weapons out and ready for battle. As the mad magi sailed over the Dwarves, Gromor ordered his warriors to attack. Onar leaped from his horse and grabbed his crossbow and bolts and took careful aim. As Bram flew overhead, Onar let fly with his first iron bolt. The bolt sailed straight up into the sky and hit Bram burying itself deep in his right shoulder.
"Arrrggh!!!" Bram screamed. With the bolt buried deep in his shoulder, Bram twist and turned in the air and fell frailing into the pine forest floor.eager and ready to
Grabbing Scrougebane, Gromor called for his warriors.
"Your aim as always is true." He smacked Onar on his back. "Now on to victory!"
Climbing back into their saddles, they kicked the horses into a charge down into the pine forest. Gromor eager and ready to prove himself and claim victory and the hand of Leda Redhelm.
Stunned and in pain. Bram pushed himself up into a sitting position. His shoulder ached as be reached up to touch the iron bolt in his upper chest. But there was no time for pain right now. That bolt had come from somewhere out beyond the pines. That meant the enemy was close, just out through the trees and heading in to destroy him. Bram stood up, then reached up and grabbed the bolt. He gritted his teeth and pulled it out.
"ARRRRGH!!!" He screamed out. He looked down at the bloody bolt in his hand, then let it drop to the ground. As he looked up, Gromor and his warriors were charging down on him.
"Come little warrior!" He growled as he raised his hand and summoned the power of his energy ring. "I have something for you!"
Pulse bolts of energy blasted out from his hand as he cackled his hysterical laugh.One, two, three bolts flew out at the incoming warriors. Gromor quickly urged his steed right, then left to avoid the oncoming danger. The power bolts missed him by a hair but the same couldn't be said about the warriors behind him. One blast flew off and hit a pine tree off to the left, but the other two struck their Dwarf target knocking them back off their horses. Two of Gromor's warriors were down, but that wouldn't stop him. He took a deep breath and roared out a challenge as he jumped off his horse to confront his enemy. Bram threw up his hands and formed a shield just in time to keep from being brained by Scrougebane. As Gromor's hammer rebounded off the shield, Gromor spinned around slamming his weapon down again and again trying to break through the Warlocks power shield. Each blow caused intense pain to radiate through Bram's head. He fell back to his knees overwhelmed by the pain as the voices in his head screamed for him to surrender. But Bram would never surrender. Not as long as there was still life in his body.
As Onar and Gromor's last warrior reached the battle, Bram jumped to his feet. He reached out with a paralyzing spell and grabbed the three warriors and held them in A tight grip.
"How dare you attack me!!" He screamed at them as he held suspended high in front of him. "Don't you know who I am?"
I know who you are." Gromor shouted as he struggled to free himself. "Just another little wizard who thinks he has the power to rule Taggitia. But your wrong. It takes more then power to rule here. It takes courage, strength and compassion. Three things you know nothing about. You may defeat me and the rest of the Dwarven nation, but there are others you will have to face."
"You mean the Dragons? Bram laughed at the thought. "Your dragons don't scare me. I have faced them before, but this time I will be ready for them and all their tricks."
"Have a care Wizard." Gromor moaned. He was in desperate pain. His ribs were cracked and his arm was shattered. Right now all that was in his mind was Leda. He had to find a away to get back and warn her for this mad man. He could be at her door in just a few hours.
"It's to late little Gromar." Bram snickered. "I know what you are thinking and I have already seen the battle maiden Leda Redhelm. What remains of her is there by the old camp fire. I took back the ring she stole from me, but I will let you live to tell the dragons that I am coming for them and their families. I plan to kill them all and anyone that stands with them. Taggitia will be mine, then the rest of Keanna will fall. No go and deliver my message."
With that said, Bram raised him high over the trees, and threw him into the forest.
"And that was the last I saw of Bram Thorn." Gromor said. "When I woke up I was here lying among these flower all bloody and broken. I figured the wolves would soon be here to put an end my misery, but instead, you found me."
"That's quite a story." Ranjer said. "Do you know how much time has passed since Bram put you here?"
"Yes." Gomor nodded. He looked up at sky, then turned back to Ranjer, Bly, Quynn and Niro. "We rode into Valturm at high noon yesterday.It had to at least an hour later that we engaged the Warlock."
That means Bram has at least a days distance ahead of us." Niro told them. "We can still catch him if we hurry."
"No." Quynn said shaking his head. "Your thinking like a warrior. Bram has magic. He doesn't need a horse to travel. He can port anywhere he wants in a blink."
"Then how are we to track him?" Niro asked.
"We don't." Ranjer said. "We find the rings. Bram will find us when he's ready."
"Then where are we going next?"Bly asked.
"First we have to take Gromor back to the village. Then we move on after the next ring. Rowyn and Myor will show us the way."
After they finished talking, Niro carefully lifted Gromor and carried him back to the horses. They all knew there was no way Gromor could ride horse back in his condition. So Niro and Hoddie fashioned a sturdy sling for him to lay in. With a quick spell from Quynn, the sling was made to ride on air waves so there would be no bouncing around. In an hour they had Gromor safely back at home and in the hands of his servants. Gromor had their provisions re stocked and the said their good byes and were off on the search for the next ring.