Welcome to the thoughts of a Dwarf. This intrepid site is designed primarily to allow a place where I can store all of my writings, be it stories or poems or illogical philosophical rants. I hope to be able to provide interesting reading material for my friends and the random stranger who somehow gets sucked off course and finds this sight. Feel free to comment or even request stories. The more inspiration that I have, the more I can explore the limits of imagination and using literary works to rest for a moment from the tedious demands of reality.

In the beginning, I will be uploading many of my already written works. Though most of them are written for the gaming website Achaea.com, which is a text based MUD that I have been playing since 1998. My current main character in Achaea is the Dwarven Paladin known as Goryllin. His viewpoint is used in many of my current stories, as I draw upon his life and his world to create the science fantasty realities in which my story characters dwell.

Achaea is a medieval setting fantasy world, filled with Dwarves, Humans, Trolls, and many more fantastical races and professions. It is a living and breathing world in that every player has a chance to change the world and its direction. It is a player driven roleplay enhanced realm where combat, life, death and yes even taxes are all a part of the experience. We wouldn't mind having you drop by for a visit and pint of ale, if you do visit please send Goryllin a message and he will be glad to help you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Battle of Oldstone Pass

Warning. Achaea related. A story by Goryllin.

The Battle of Oldstone Pass.

A gentle breeze drifted down the mountain slope, wafting slowly through
the valley, leaving soft caresses on all it touched in the settlement.
In one of the largest sleeping chambers, strong brown eyes snapped
alert. To this bearded and grizzled dwarf, the breeze held no comfort.
It held only mystery and warning.

Dropping stumpy legs over the edge of the bed, Dolon went through the
morning routine of stretching and yawning all while his senses strained
to find what woke him. Stumbling forth to open land, he gazed forth at
the beautiful scenery before him. As the rays of the sun slowly
straggled forth to light the horizon, those brown eyes drank deeply of
the natural beauty of the valley. "Such grace", this dwarf did think
with equal parts amazement and awe, "for the Lord Smith to guide us
here- to perfection". As if in response, another breeze took hold just
then and rippled the leaves of the graceful trees. On cue, the woods
came alive with the noise of various animals awakening and taking on the
day. The entire earth seemed to beam peaceful joy, as the dwarf took in
the well built and successful settlement that rose up around him. Almost
forgetting his alarm, Dolon took a moment to stretch again while letting
the sun warm the paving stones and alight upon the flowers carefully
cultured along the paths.

All seemed well, and Dolon turned towards the sound of his rousing wife
just inside. But amongst the clamor of pots and pans preparing the
morning meal, Dolon still felt that something was off. As his
grandfather once told him, a Chieftain just learns to know these things.
And so with a muffled grunt, he sadly walked away from his hearth and
all of the delights that it offered and strode to the quarters of his
second in command. A few muttered words, an exasperated shrug, and
patronizing nod later: and a scout was heading out to the borders to
investigate some mysterious inkling that raised the hairs on the back of
the Chief's neck.

Breakfast never really registered to Dolon that day, his mind kept
returning to his odd awakening and the pressure in his chest. Reminding
himself that Chieftain's did not show fear, he calmly went about the
day's routine and began discussing the weather patterns and the upcoming
harvest all while struggling to ignore the sense of unease that had
settled over his soul.

Having known Dolon for over two decades, Drognar the second in command
decided to broach the subject. As he opened his mouth to question just
what troubled the Chief, he noticed that where his friend's eyes were
gazing. "Oh do not be silly", he quipped, "the orcs have been burning
and pillaging for many moons now." "Aye." Answered Dolon, "but something
is different today, I just know it!". Trying to inject some reason into
what seemed like panic in such a normally calm man, Drognar tried again.
"Chief, the orcs have never made it through the mountains. They have
never found the way." After a pregnant pause he added "They do not care
enough to even look for the way!" and then snorted with great humour.

With little else to do besides worry, Dolon smoothed his face and
quieted his inner doubts. Trying hard to simulate cheerfulness, Dolon
passed through the settlement doling out wisdom and answering
complaints, administering to his people as if nothing had woken up him
that morning besides the normal need to be productive.

Suddenly the calm of that peaceful setting was broken by the mad clatter
of a dashing dwarf, earnestly racing to the settlement with all that he
had. Strident alarms rose within the hearts of all present as they
recognized the scout sent out earlier that day. "Orcs! Orcs! Or.." The
fellow yelled, or at least attempted to yell. A very large hubbub broke
out then, as most crowded around the exhausted and wheezing dwarf and
demanded answers or explanations. But Dolon knew better and Dolon knew
he had been a cautious fool. With a bellow that would outdo even the
fiercest mountain bear on the continent, he brought his people to
attention and to arms. Frenetic activity overcame the settlement as
dwarves bounded from one end to the next, weapons being passed,
provisions packed, wives and children kissed.

Dolon ran to oversee equipping the men, pointedly exchanging looks with
Drognar and indicating to handle the women and children. Drognar snapped
into action, following the old and now rarely used guidelines and
rounding up the women and children and heading for a secret cave
entrance. Families acted as a whole, elder children marshaling the
younger ones. Wives stealing kisses around the armor of their hastily
equipping husbands and then sneaking a last personal item before they
were marched away to safety. At the other end of the village, the
outlook was not so bright or sure. Dolon swore as he realized just how
much the decades of peace had harmed the warrior mentality of his
people. There was no lack of courage, he was sure of that as he watched
ancient Frelug struggle to clasp the straps of a light breastplate that
had not seen light in over thirty years. But combat readiness was
something else, again an example appeared before his eyes as eager Jadin
nearly lopped his own ear off hastily grasping a pike.

Licking his lips in sudden anticipation and perhaps a twinge of fear
(but we will never tell!), Dolon surveyed his men. Muttering under his
breath, he counted only twenty-five dwarves that he could really call
combat able. A dozen that stand in a line, but were too ill or infirm to
do any noticeable damage to a turtledove much less a trained and
bloodthirsty orc. Even as he made that assessment, the scout had caught
his breath and was able to alert the entire Clan to the fact that over a
thousand Orcs were heading for the entrance through the mountains to the
valley in which the village was hidden.

Just as Dolon lifted the battlehorn to his lips and prepared to blow
quite possibly the last call to march that he would ever know, he heard
the crunch of angry footsteps behind him. Whirling in surprise, he
yanked his sword free only to hastily drop it a moment later. Even more
surprised than before, he stared at the glowering face of his beloved
wife. In a voice that only an enraged dwarven wife could muster, she
berated him. "Dolon, you thick-skulled excuse for a dwarf, what do you
think you're doing this time? Do you think you're going to hold that
pass with nothing but twenty-five men? And look at us, we women are just
as strong as you are from wrestling the children and working in the
fields. We'll fight and die right alongside our husbands, and may the
Smith be ashamed of us if we won't!"

It is not certain that Dolon was ever able to retrieve his jaw from the
ground after it dropped so far and fast. What is certain is that not
even a chieftain can stand up to a determined dwarven wife. And so as
the ravening Orcs came charging through the gap, bloodthirst gleaming in
their eyes, they met a fortified band of sixty something dwarves of Clan
Orcsplitter. Male and female alike wielded weapons, determination written
across each feature of every brow. As the Orcs paused for a moment,
either in confusion to meet any resistance, or to laugh at such a small
and pitiful band thinking of resistance, the dwarves made one last move.
Working quickly as a team, as a family, they gathered enough rocks to
build a small cairn and then stuck a blacksmith's hammer in it. And then
they turned and beseeched their beloved God, Lord Phaestus, to guide
their battleaxes and lead them through the battle. Being stout Clan
Orcsplitter dwarves, they did not pray for a way to avoid battle, or
that someone else fight it, or even that the Lord make it go away.
Instead they request that He guide their blades and show them where to

When the Orcs finally made up their minds that this sham had gone on
long enough and began to charge, Dolon felt a sudden peace come over his
soul. Every worry, every tension, everything that was distracting or
bothering him suddenly melted away. He turned to his right side, where
Drognar might normally stand, and met the warm and understanding eyes of
his beloved. Serenity filled her features as they exchanged vows of
everlasting love, knowing that they were in the arms of their God. And
then just as the crest of the Orc charge came barreling into their
perimeter, Dolon and his wife shouted out each other's names and lept
into the battle. Tearing through the enemy, the became dual wielded
weapons. One striking while the other parried, one going low as the
other went high, one to the left if the other went right. As Dolon
danced his deadly dance, he felt the blood streaming down his body. As
his leg landed on raw bone instead of his foot, he knew that this pace
could not last. But even as he began to stumble, even as an arrow carved
its way through his body, his eyes were locked on those of his wife. And
so Dolon danced even harder, swung his blades ever more. No fear, no
worry, no distractions entered his mind. Just dancing to the love
mirrored in those eyes.

The children here huddled deep in some secret caverns, as the horrific
sounds of battle played out above them. Screams of dying or wounded men
were pitched so that the whole valley trembled in sympathy. The clang of
clashing weapons and sound of ripping sinews could not be mistaken or
explained away. And yet, after a horrible and seemingly endless period
of time, the sounds slowly begin to fade. Still the children waited with
bated breath, fearful yet a trap was laid. Only when the air was filled
with the croaking calls of the craven feathered residents of all
battlefields did the children dare to peek outside of those cave walls.

Shouts of joy and relief rang out as they saw a good forty dwarves
making their labored way back to the village. The dwarves had shields
carried between them, upon which lay the bodies of Dolon and his wife
and eighteen of their brethren. As gasps of joy quietly turned to sobs;
rays of light reached down to reflect from the shields, seeming to
caress the fallen warriors and tend to passing.

A gentle breeze drifted down the mountain slope, wafting slowly through
the valley, gently driving away the smoke from the funeral pyres. As it
carried away the smoke, so went the worst of the mourning. And that is
when the clan was able to see just what their sacrifice had gained. In
their wake all they left behind was a mountain of orcs almost as tall as
the pass itself, and a rabble of terrified orcs that stretched from the
mountains to the sea, and ever after the orcs told tales of that pass to
their spawn as bedtime stories."


Though that valley has been lost to the twisting tides of time, its
memory remains strong in the mind of the Orcsplitter Dwarves. Forever
shall the Clan draw strength from those before it, and forever shall
they oppose the bloodthirsty Orcs- no matter where they might be found.

The StoneCutter Dwarves

Warning: Achaea related. Not my own writing. Simply more Achaea.com dwarven lore.

The Story of the Stonecutter dwarves

Deep in the mountains, many, many years ago there were many different
clans of dwarves, ranging from the dark-skinned druegar to the Ironson,
each had their likes and wants and each clan worked together for

Yes, there were wars that had broken out between clans and some between
within their own clan between their brethren.

Anyways, this story takes place within the Clan of Shattered Stone, the
Shield dwarves. Every dwarf in this clan worked in the mines, even the
women and children. Dwarves either were mining, gathering and pushing
rock, or holding up shields to protect those that were working, everyone
had a job for the day, some changed it up, others enjoyed what they were
doing to keep at it each day.

There was a little dwarf, he was smaller and weaker than the others in
this clan. He wanted nothing more than to go mine with his Da, Ma and
sister. He would come out and watch them work and sometimes would gather
enough strength to try to help. He never could help out long or even
watch for that matter.

The dust created from mining was rather thick, and in the case of these
mines so deep, it was very confined. This young dwarf did not have very
hearty lungs when it came to this, and would wheeze and cough hard
anytime he was out watching after a short period of time, was worse if
he actually was trying to help. The poor boy spent many days in bed
because of this, wishing he could help his family and his clan.

Every so often when he did go out and try as usual to help he would grab
pieces of rock, he'd carve into it to find gems. Even carving the
smaller pieces of rock would upset his lungs, sending him into coughing
fits. He did find gems here and there when he did actually make it to
the inner portions.

One day, he was out and about with his rock and stumbled across the
underground stream, he had dropped the rock he was carrying to carve in
the stream when he caught his balance. Looking into the stream he
thought of a brilliant idea and knelt down and started carving the rock
while it was under water. Doing this the water was washing away any
sentiment of dust off of the rocks, keeping the lad from coughing.

Beaming brightly, he rushed back home with his first carving, to show
his family what he could do. From then on he kept practicing his carving
using the water as aide, his work became impeccable, his gems smoother
than any other dwarf that could work with gems, his cutting was very
intricate and precise in each rock he did cut.

From this he gained some reputation as the best stonecutter dwarf, from
there a following gathered behind him of others that were not as gruff
as the majority of shield dwarves. This grew into its own clan of
dwarves, Scholars, and crafters alike. This was the beginning of the
Stonecutter Clan.

Not every dwarf from this clan is a scholar alone, Ask General Breknough
if he's like Graf, but each has their origins from this little dwarf
that figured out a way to do what he loved, to craft his own way.

The Story of Balg

Yep. Another story that was inspired by Achaea.com. Not as surprising when you learn that I have been playing Achaea since 1998. So it has had a major influence on my inspiration for stories.

"The Lesson of the Woodcarver. A story of Balg."

Most of you know of Balg, the woodcarver.

Many of you have grown up with Balg standing forlornly outside of the
Temple and telling you how to open the doors.

For those who do not know Balg, he was a Tsol'aa woodcarver who used to
hang around the Temple often. It was difficult to speak with Balg at
times because he was always so focused and kept his brow furrowed as he
considered his next woodcarving. I can recall his green eyes constantly
flickering over the project he was working on and the fact that his
hands were very rough and callused from the hard work that he did.
Everywhere that he went, wood carvings followed.

Balg's constant attention was on his next woodcarving, so his
interactions with most people was very rare. He came to visit the Temple
one day and Papa seemed content to let Balg explore his talents with
aide of the Chosen.

Now, let me tell you the story of Balg and why he was always so sad and
sighing when people would talk about Papa or the Temple.

One day, a few decades past, I came into the Temple to feel the ground
shaking beneath my feet. Only after a few minutes of puzzled
consternation was I able to discern the rumble of Papa's voice as being
the cause of this distressful situation. Rushing to follow the echoes as
they rolled off of the Temple walls, I located Papa standing in the
Cathedral with tears streaming down His face. Shriveled into a corner
against the far wall was the form of Balg.

Shocked, I covered my ears with my hands and thus was barely able to
make out what Papa was saying. Papa was the angriest that I have ever
seen Him, and every line of His image wavered with withheld tension.
Words battered against my eardrums, and I caught only flashes of words
like Betrayal, Shame, Distrust, and Banish. That last word seemed to
pause the whole world and time stood still. My jaw dropped open and I
could only stare as Balg ever so slowly squeezed his eyes shut and then
sagged to the floor in abject defeat. With a suddenly flash of light,
Balg vanished from my sight and then Papa smashed His hammer into the
floor and was gone as well.

Racing through the Temple, I luckily caught the swing of the Temple
Doors and a flash of Papa's hammer outside them just before they closed.
Hurriedly I caught up and then witnessed one of the most tragic scenes
of my entire life. There I saw Papa staring at Balg with a very serious
and somber expression, all tears gone from His face and all emotion from
His voice. That is when Papa denounced Balg for betraying Him and
destroying all trust that Papa had put into the woodcarver. Tears freely
flowed from my face as the Smith intoned His judgement of Balg's crimes:
Banishment. Balg was banished to forever stand outside the Temple and
never enter between the safety of its doors. As penance, Balg would be
allowed to tell others of Papa and of Papa's mercy that Balg yet lived.

When the decree went, forth all of the world shuddered; and I knew that
though Papa showed no emotion, all of creation expressed His pain.

Hurriedly following our Lord through the Temple, I saw that He carried
with him a very intricate flute. Trying to stumble through the words to
ask what had happened, I was able to learn that Balg had decided that he
was tired of carving the simple wares that he had spent his time on for
the past few decades or centuries and wanted to create something of true
power. But that ambition turned to greed, and Balg was only satisfied by
crafting something that controlled the sands of time itself. And thus
Balg had snuck into one of the Temple workshops and stolen a small block
of material that is wrapped within the fluctations of time. His own
greed caused him to steal from our Lord Smith and to abuse the trust to
roam the Temple.

It was only later that I learned the true depth of Balg's betrayal. When
Papa first allowed Balg to join the Temple, it was only after the
Tsol'aa had thrown Balg out of their entire society for breaking one of
their greatest taboos: attempting to carve livewood. Papa had forgaven
Balg for his trangressions and come to trust and love Balg and allow him
to roam the Temple. And Balg instead used that to steal some of Papa's
materials and try to create a powerful artifact for himself.

Perhaps Balg's intentions were not for his own profit when he started
out. Perhaps he wanted to create something to help Papa. Balg is still
very quiet about the entire thing and it is probably best not to pester
him too much. However, whenever our ambitions and desires lead us to
hurt our Lord God so deeply, there can be no good in what we have done.
Learn from Balg's lesson and his story and take measure of your own
actions. If something requires you to toe the line to complete it, take
care that you do not end up standing outside of the Temple forlornly
looking in but never being able to join.

For those who have asked about Balg, about 40 years after he was
banished, Papa took mercy upon him yet again and allowed Balg the
freedom to leave the Temple doors and run various errands for Papa. Balg
will never be allowed to enter the Temple again, but perhaps he might
one day find a way to use his talents to serve Industry.

The Glory of Clan RockCrawler (2012)

This is another piece that I wrote for Achaea.com under the character Goryllin. In it, he delves into explaining and fleshing out some of the in game lore of the Dwarven races. Goryllin serves the Achaean God of the Dwarves and laments the fact that many Dwarven histories have been lost. Thus he has started writing to help fill in the game. Regardless of the backstory, this piece makes for very interesting science fantasy reading.

Please Enjoy

The Glory of Clan RockCrawler

I write this now to record the memory of Clan RockCrawler.

Their tale has been around since the War of Humanity, though few in this day and age can honestly say that they have ever heard of the Clan. And yet, without Clan RockCrawler most of history as we know it would have a vastly different ending.

I know this story only due to the fact that I slumbered within the WorldForge and one of Lord Phaestus's memories leaked through the Forge and gave me this vision.

While it might remain incomplete and some details remain vague, I have written it down as clearly as I can recall with my mortal mind. Shock still flows through me at the emotions I felt as I relived the glory of Clan RockCrawler. I will remain forever changed by the knowledge I have gained from this story, and I hope that it has the same impact on all who might read this account.

The trumpet was sounding the wrong call.

Even in the midst of the bedlam surrounding me, I knew that. As I slashed down and split the forearm of a crystalline being we were told were known as Kx'Khrah, I knew that something was deadly wrong. A quick glance to my side caught the eye of my best lieutenant, Grandor, and I knew that he heard it too. Calling out commands, we formed a defensive line and pulled in the flanks. As our Dwarven charges formed a shield wall before us, I had a quick meeting with my captains and lieutenants.

"It must be serious, if they are already blowing that sound." said Grandor, as he ducked an arrow flying over the shield wall. "Indeed" chimed in Captain Bodle even while he signaled the left flank to close in tighter against the charging enemy. Drembdrol just grunted a bit, furiously chewing on the ends of his beard.

Taking a moment to survey the battle scene, I could see a glimpse of what must have caused the uproar. While the shield wall was holding up well considering the numbers throwing themselves against it, other areas were not doing so well. The banners of the Shattered Stone and AxeBreaker Dwarven clans still flew, stretched out to our left, but the numbers around them were not as large as I would have liked. Our own troops were actually the reserves and support troops due to the diminutive size that we RockCrawler Dwarves had compared to the enemies we faced. And here we were, on the front lines against crystalline warriors and some sort of beast with six legs and a fierce aggression. On our right were elements of the mercenary army who appeared to be doing well if the blood coating their shields was to be believed. However the screams and roars that were heard from the far flanks indicated that the Aldar magic had assisted the catlike enemy forces far too well. As I stood measuring the scene, a sudden charge by the enemy began to overwhelm the shield wall. Hastily we pulled back and began a professional backwards march towards the sound of the trumpets in the rear.

Whirling to slash three of the six legs of the beast that leaped over the shield wall, Bodle snorted in disgust. "Retreat? Bah, what Dwarf ever retreats!" A low grumble rose from the ranks in agreement at this, even as more Dwarves fell to the furious attack.  "Hush!" I called out in my sternest voice, stepping forward into the shield wall and smashing my axe down to shatter a crystal being. "Gargalant will be there as well, and he will lead us true. Trust that." At the name of our God's most trusted warrior, a cheer broke out among the Dwarves and they laid to their task with even more eagerness than before. Steadily we advanced, for Dwarves are always advancing even if the direction is backwards, until we arrived at the main bulk of the gathered armies.

Even as we arrived and sorted ourselves out so that our defensive shield wall was firm against those of the Arcanians and bolstering the ranks of the mighty unicorns, another trumpet rang out with an even more dire message. Shock trembled through my Dwarven units as the impact of that trumpet sank in. Immediately my commanders called out to hold and stand-fast, stepping up to steady the greener lads, and ensuring that the wall was still strong against the onslaught.

Signalling two of my captains to take charge, I nodded to Grandor and we hurried towards the banner of clan Shattered Stone. As we came within distance, a Stone clan Dwarf pointed us towards a circling of Clan Chieftains. Coming within earshot, I realized that the rest of the Chieftains were as surprised as I was with the way that things had changed.

"We had them, I was just about to charge!" Grumbled a Chieftain whose armour was coloured in the pattern of Clan OrcSplitter. Muttered assent followed that sentiment but was quickly silenced as the great Chieftain Gargalant arrived with a worried expression. "Where is Brugnor?" He asked as he scanned the gathered Dwarves. "He charged," explained one of the AleSwiller Dwarves, apparently Brugnor's successor, "Said that death is better than retreat and just flat out charged." A few grunts at that, though none were surprised. "May the Lord receive him well," said another Chieftain as he arrived, "Brugnor and his fifty took nearly a thousand with them to the Halls. Bought us the time to regroup and get back". Nods of approval greeted this statement before Gargalant signaled for attention.

Looking us each in the eye, Gargalant explained that things are very dire. A new enemy has appeared that has completely changed the battlefield. The Gods were surprised and not sure how to handle this threat. The new enemy appears to be some demonic force, and is stronger even than the immortal Aldar. The Gods have signaled retreat and in fact most of the other forces are in full flight. A few Chieftains nodded at this and explained how they saw Qui'anar and Horkvali forces being shredded as they ran for their lives.

"We did not ask for this fight, I know." Gargalant's statement was quiet yet clear. His eyes boring into each Chieftain until we stood even straighter under his inspection. "But our Father needs us. His allies need us. Those fighting beside us are being shredded. They bore the bulk of the fighting in the first, they were the front ranks. Now it is the Dwarves' turn. We must protect them, hold the line so that they can retreat. This is our duty, and our honor. For Lord Phaestus!" At the end of this speech, every Dwarf felt the presence of our God wash over us with warmth, love, and gratitude which caused us to shake with renewed passion. Shouting His name, we pounded weapons against shields, butted heads together and let steel helms ring out with fervor.

Quickly Gargalant gave us our assignments, sending each Clan to protect a certain area or guide allies to safety. Turning to me, he paused for a moment and then clasped my shoulder tightly. "Rundail" He softly sighed. "I ask a great task of your RockCrawler clan." Nodding towards a particularly thick section of fighting he continued, "We must use the mountain paths to get some of these people through. The demons have cut off the left portions, and the Aldar have made those cat-beings very powerful. Rajamalan, I think they are called. We have not found a match for them yet. Lord Thoth managed to hurt them with His Quisalis Assassins, however those that remain are being strengthened by their Gods and are destroying the Scula and anyone else that they can find."
His clasp on my shoulder turned into an embrace as Gargalant gruffly spoke into my ear "I am not sure that we have an answer for them, they are ruthless and showing no mercy. They will slaughter anyone they find, be it wounded, female, or even a babe." This caused me to think of my own wife and child in the back of the lines, desperately praying for a victory. Slowly letting his embrace drop, Gargalant gave me the orders for my clan. "Take your noble warriors, Rundail. And find us a way, protect the retreat of the Scula and Horkvali on the left. Show them the secret passages through the mountains. You will have to fight the Rajamalan forces and probably the undead. It will be fierce, but only you could I entrust with such a difficult task. I must stay here and buy time." As he turned to walk away, we shared the eye contact of battle hardened warriors and knew this would be the last time we spoke.

Lifting up our weapons, Grandor and I made our way back to our Clan, watching as the Captains rotated men through the defense wall and tried to find a moment for rest. Sighing deep in my heart at the orders I would have to give, and the good soldiers and brethren I knew I would lose, I began to call out the commands and signal our Clan to move out.

The fighting became fierce, as our opponents felt the thrill of victory and crowed at the retreat before them. Several smaller bands of our allies streamed past in haste, all discipline gone. Soon we found out why, as imps and demons darted through the sky firing flaming missiles into our midst. A few of the Dwarves flung their shields up to deflect these missiles, only to find themselves burned by the lasers of the Kx'Khrah.

Grimacing at the smell of burnt flesh and wincing against the cries of our wounded, I yelled out orders to form teams of three. "One keep a shield in front, anchor the wall. Second Dwarf keep a shield up to the sky and protect from attacks up high. Third Dwarf needs to be your weapon, attack through the gaps. Hit them hard. For Phaestus!" Again the mention of our God brought renewed strength to our limbs and Dwarves scrambled to follow the orders. Quickly we reformed again and were able to advance through a path of slain enemies.

A mighty roar caused us to stop in consternation, the source of it eluded us until Bodle began to hop about excitedly. "Chieftain!" He bellowed, "The earth is coming to eat us!". And indeed, it appeared true. A wall of moving earth was rolling towards our position, smashing everything beneath it's brute strength, ripping trees from the ground and adding them to the chaos at the base of the massive danger. Being wiser than I, Grandor figured out the cause quickly. "Its those damned Elementals." He muttered to me, as he tightly gripped his axes and crouched low as if it would save him. Understanding dawned just as an answering tremble passed beneath our feet.

Struggling to keep my balance, I shouted out calm to my Clan. Letting them know that Lady Gaia was fighting for us. Only after I called out the words, did I pause to realize that I had no idea who Lady Gaia was, and received a Divine chuckle in my head as return for my amazement. To give proof to my words, the two earth tremors met with a mighty clash of destruction and the moving wall of earth ceased to be a threat. Encouraged, we continued our advance and finally reached our target area. Seeing the slaughter that was transpiring, the Dwarves quickly forgot their discomfort of being on falsely moving ground, and charged into the fray. Quickly smashing through the ranks of the undead, slicing decaying limbs apart and making sure to smash skeletons in half, we came to a sudden halt against a far fiercer foe.

Leaping the shield wall with amazing displays of strength and agility the feline Rajamalan forces proved to be a different fight than we had faced before. Snapping whips ripped battleaxes out of the hands of the sturdiest of warriors. Dodging pointed strikes, the Rajamala darted and dashed while slowly carving lines down the Dwarven ranks. Roaring in outrage, I took up my own battleaxe in both hands and began beating back the foes inside the shield wall. Bodle leaped to join me and we ended up back to back as the Rajamalan inside the shield wall circled us. Furiously we fought, as our brothers struggled to keep more enemies from breaking past the line. As the battle wore on, the corpses around us began to pile up but more and more enemies circled around. Suddenly there was a massive roar from the shield line, cries of anger and sorrow mingled together. Distracted by the sound, our enemies turned in that direction and Bodle and I lunged to finish them off.

The last of the Rajamalan inside the line was finally slain and so I looked up to see Grandor gently closing the eyelids of solid Drembdrol. "May the Lord Father forever remember your sacrifice" Grandor softly whispered. My heart was heavy and sad, having just lost one of my most tried and true Captains. But his death saved my life and the lives of many, and in fact the strength of the backlash from the Dwarves had pushed the Rajamalan forces back and given us a moment to breath.
We were close to the entrance of the mountain paths by now, and I pressed the families of the Clan warriors into service. Seeking out the WarMaidens, I had them select the wisest and strongest of the Dwarven wives and children and guide them through the paths to the other side of the mountain. "Head for the main encampment, regroup there" I instructed them and watched as they rose to their duty and stilled trembling hands lest they show weakness in front of our allies. As my brothers set up the shield wall again and experimented with long range fighting to keep the enemy away,  streams of wounded and frightened allies flowed past. Even more than I could ever expect to have seen, as word of our passages to safety spread like wildfire.

Just as I was about to say the orders to have my people begin heading down the paths themselves, a grizzled Horkvali captain stopped me. "Son, you have done a good thing here" he began before wincing and continuing" but we are being wiped out. The Rajamala have found out that people are heading here and are just camping outside of your shield wall and hunting down those trying to get away. Lost around three hundred of my band just now, most of them not even able to hold a weapon in defense". Though he meant the words to be empathetic and informational, all it did was burn at my heart.

Quickly I called my leaders together and explained what I had heard. Sadness gripped the hearts of all of us, though few had any answers for what to do. That is when my sweet wife Grimalda stepped up from where she was heading the evacuation efforts. "Oh, Rund." She said with a tearful but determined expression. "You know that letting all of those folk die while we run to safety is not our way." At this Bodle grunted "Aye, lass, but we be small folk best served by our defensive discipline. If we charge out into the open, those cat-things will surely destroy us".  Widened eyes gazed at me from the face of my beloved as she continued "I know. I know what it means, but we would not be the Dwarves of Lord Phaestus should we turn our backs on them." And with that, she gave me a quick kiss and turned and headed back towards her post.

Hearing the words of my wife, I felt my heart twist as my own thoughts and feelings were confirmed. Still, my heart was roiling with mixed emotions. We had already given so much, done so well against such immense odds. How could we be asked to do any more than we have? And yet, I knew that the calling of Lord Phaestus could not allow me to turn my back on the suffering around me. My God had pledged His eternal devotion to Creation and protecting the work of Lord Proteus. That pledge was what allowed me to even have this internal conversation, to have these feelings and know this success. To make up my own mind and follow my own path. And because of that, I would serve that pledge as if I myself made it.

Turning to the WarMaidens, I informed them that I would not be using them on this raid. And even as the grunts of protest began, I quickly told them why. "I need you to form the main shield wall here, why the boys and I go attract the Rajamalan attention. This line must hold so that we can make it back into the mountain on our return. Keep the entire Clan here, keep guiding people until the very last moment. No RockCrawler will escape to safety until there is nobody else we can save. Understood?" Fiercely the WarMaidens agreed and went to work assembling the shield wall again and passing orders to the remain part of the Clan.

Gathering the remaining RockCrawler Dwarves, we struck out to where the enemy had been reported. Coming over the hill, we witnessed a terrible slaughter. As nearly a thousand refugees were caught inside a circling band of Rajamalan. Laughter mixed with the screams, as the horrific beings played with the surrounded captives. A snarl broke across my face as I watched a demon swoop down from the sky to pluck a babe from it's mothers arms and tauntingly throw it back and forth with another demon floating just over the mother's head.

Pounding our weapons against what remaining shields we had, Clan RockCrawler charged. And what a massive battle ensued. Smashing into the backs of the unsuspecting enemy, we managed to make it right into the circle and clear a way for those inside to escape. Relentlessly we hammered away, every Dwarf going into berserk mode and creating space against the enemy by cutting through any foe near us. At first the enemy retreated in shock, but soon they gathered their wits and pressed the attack back upon us. Seeing that we had their full attention, I ordered the retreat and we began heading back towards the mountains.

While we were busy fighting for our lives, a sudden primal roar tore through the chaotic noise of the battle and stunned us all for a few pristine moments. Echoing from every mountain top, we heard the voice of our Lord God in an anguished shout. "GARGALANT!" And with that shout, we felt the passing of the greatest Chieftain we had ever known. A wave of sorrow crashed through every Dwarf, but following that was a feeling of such invincible strength that what seemed like a suicide run became an earnest fight.

With the rage of our God filling our bodies, we were able to make it back to the mountain paths and join the shield wall of the WarMaidens. As I looked back upon the path we had just trod, I saw it littered with friend and foe alike. Many of my greatest warriors had breathed their last. Turning towards the enemy, I realized that our raid had accomplished much more than we expected. For it seemed the entire might of the Rajamalan forces were arrayed against us. Even more demons and undead had joined them and now they stayed a few hundred paces away, considering our small force and how best to devour us.

Realizing that it was time to go, I had my men prepare the passage ways for closing them behind us and we began to file backwards into the mountain. A roar greeted this move as the enemy saw our strategy and began a thunderous charge. Crashing into the shield wall, they quickly overwhelmed it and my heart nearly burst as I watched the WarMaidens die en masse. Hurriedly we backed into the corridors and set the fuse burning. Just as the first wave of undead reached the mouth of the central passage, the explosives went off and sealed the entrance on top of them. A muffled roar went up from the remaining RockCrawler, and wives and children went to hug family members. I gave Grimalda a brief hug, but my thoughts were turned toward a comely lass sobbing as she leaned into the wall face first. "Ceri, I am so sorry." Knowing my words were useless, I had nothing further to say as I gave a gentle squeeze to the wife of my lieutenant. "Grandor was my right hand, he was the best that I have ever known. His sacrifice saved so many lives, I know that Lord Phaestus has created a special place for him." Her only response was to sob harder and turn her face away from me even more.

Before I could attempt to console her any further, a startled shout of alarm filled the cavern. Whirling, I saw everyone looking at my son as he staggered into the room with a look of horror upon a face that had barely started to grow fuzz. Drawn to his eyes, I could not see anything else as I watched the life in them slowly drain and vanish completely. Horrified, my gaze crawled down his body until I saw the unmistakable marks of a lich weapon through his heart. Grimalda let loose with a terrible scream that rocked me to my core and flew across the room to grab our son. Bodle following her and then dashing past to dart into the passageway that my son just came from. "Help!" He immediately shouted and then there came a great clash of weaponry.

Unable to move, I remained rooted to the floor in utter anguish even as the remnants of Clan RockCrawler were swarmed by the Rajamalan forces that had somehow broken through into the mountain. As my entire Clan was taken off guard, weapons left scattered on the ground, I realized that I had only one real choice in this matter. Turning down the passage that led to the heart of the mountain, I began to run with all of the strength that I had left. Tears and blood splashed down to fill my footprints as I cried out to my God. "Oh Mighty Lord Phaestus. Hear me now. Do not forsake Your child. You know my heart, know my prayer. Answer me, Oh God. Let not Your children die in vain."

As I ran, I held out my hands before me and slowly a shimmering light filled them. Pulsating with power made of pure Divine essence, the light solidified into a massive Warhammer. So large that I should not be able to lift it, but it felt light in my hands. Hands that knew they had one last task left. Hearing the scrambled pursuit behind me, I knew that all that I cared for was gone. And that nearly all that remained of the Rajamala were chasing me even now.

Turning the corner and approaching my destination, I realized that two RockCrawler Dwarves remained. Young babes, barely two decades between them, they had been assigned to point the last step of the way to the evacuees. "Run ye brats, run!" I yelled between gasps for breath. One began a protest about orders to stay until the last. "He is the Chief, just do it" yelled the other and together they disappeared into the tunnels. If they survived, I can not say, for my journey had just about reached the end and my vision was beginning to blur.

My legs began to falter and my heart was beating so erratically that I could barely keep moving, but I arrived at the center portion of the mountain. Knowing that I had just a few moments before my enemies were upon me, I lifted up the Warhammer and steadied myself as best that I could. Raising my voice in a bellow that only a Chieftain can obtain, I shouted out unto my God. "Oh Father, receive unto You the RockCrawler Clan. Let this day serve as one of gladness, as we earn the right to sit at Your feet in KongolDrak forever. Strengthen me now, Oh Lord, and guide my arm. Punish those who would harm Your children."

And with those final words, I swung the Warhammer with Divinely guided strength and smashed through into the core of the mountain. Chain reactions rumbled throughout the cavern and with a steady groaning sound the walls began to buckle. Rajamalan cheers of victory quickly turned to howls of terror as they realized what was occurring around them. Hardly had a single enemy began to turn and flee when the entire mountain fell in upon itself, burying everything within it's greedy grasp. Dwarf, Rajamalan, Undead, Demon, all that were in or near the mountain passage ways perished in the single blink of an eye.

Clan RockCrawler might have perished, but Creation lives on. Serving the call to protect Creation and serve Lord Phaestus continues to be our greatest strength. May all Dwarves forever remember and recognize the sacrifices of Clan RockCrawler.

A Final Rest (2009).

This piece I composed for the online text based game that I play: Achaea.com. My main character in Achaea is the Dwarven Paladin known as Goryllin.

It is from his perspective that I wrote 'A Final Rest' and submitted via Achaea's bardic system (back in 2009). This entry clarifies what Goryllin sees as his ultimate goal and reflects how the life of a duty bound Paladin can really cause one to seek that Final Rest.

Please enjoy.

A Final Rest

I rest. I feel such peace. And while I slumber, my mind breaks free to wander,
soaring softly from tree to tree, forest to forest. Enjoying the majesty of this
flight, I am suddenly attracted by a sound in the distance, some great uproar.
And thus I quickly float by to a tavern in the forest, simply slipping through
the door as it swings to allow entry to another, unseen to all gathered. Oh,
what a great and clamorous din this is! This must surely be a feast, for there
is food on every longtable that dominates the gathering space of this tavern.
And such a vast crush of bodies, ranging from those boisterous dwarfs, to gangly
men and even those rajamalan Knights who have set aside their weapons for this

But what sort of celebration is this, for even with all of the loud bays of
laughter, I can see tears on those dwarven eyes, and a trembling lip not well
hid by flagons of ale. Something catches at my mind, making me think that I
should recognize these people, that I should be here with them for whatever
event this might become. Suddenly, as if on cue, a hush falls over this crowd,
and attention turns to the stage at the far corner of the room. Surely this is a
great undertaking, I observe as the candles in the room begin to flicker lower,
shadows dancing along the roof, the quiet so odd to the previous clamor. As I
made these little notes, I noticed a slight quiver in the back curtain and then
strode forth the man of the hour, or so I thought. He is a younger man, firm of
stature, his atavian wings gracefully folded across his back as he seemed to
glide forward into the gathered attention. As he pulls his instruments forward
in front of him, it is obvious that he was a bard, and one of some renown. He
begins a prepared speech, going on about celebration of a life or some such, and
again my mind struggles to place him and all of these people. So, this is to be
a celebration he says, yet still I swear I can see sorrow in these eyes, and
those smiles are all forced. What kind of celebration would bring such a
response? But hark! I just heard that fine bard mention "Use his own words as
proof of his life." Ah, so this is an award for another bard, I consider as I
lean forward to pay attention to the tenor voice as it begins softly.
And this is what he said:
"Screaming agony tears through my gut, as the dark-hooded Knight withdraws
his twisted blade with a snarl of triumph. That pain is soon but a small voice
though, as a mammoth beast of such immense proportions renders my once strong
and supple limbs into a mere mesh of dust and flesh.

Now I slowly lift my pain-filled eyes, my sight dimming ever faster as I see
my foe's hand encased in silver light. There is no pain in my death, not even a
hint of agony as my heart is ripped from my chest.

This is my duty. This is my destiny.
The battle moves on, other warriors to trap and slay. My body now only
ashes, softly fluttering from the shrine of an altar.

With a soft sigh, my lonely soul gazes upon the now peaceful devastation of
the battlefield. Oh! How I long to stay here, where no quarrel rises and no
anger cries.

But this is not my calling. There is still a battle to fight, an innocent to

So with a last long searching glance, my soul lifts his head to the Great
Mother above. His mouth moving slowly to form the words to ancient prayers.
The noise, clamor, and desires of this world slowly fade away, as my soul
softly wanders through the doors. And thus, yet again, my soul shall walk these

And soon my blades shall flash once more."
As the words slowly fade away into the air, they seem to resonate to echo from the rafters of the building and something clings to my heart for just a moment.

Shocked by the somber tone, I turn my gaze to the audience and see fresh tears,
not hidden this time, as well as a seeming nod of recognition and even sympathy
for the writer of those words. I quickly turn my eyes back to the bard, hoping
for an explanation. He simply sits there, his hands softly stroking his mandolin
as he seems lost in space. A sudden motion attracts my attention as a scarred
dwarf angrily slams his mug on the table a low growl setting the whole table
into sudden motion. Stumpy legs become a blur as every flagon in the place is
filled to and sometimes over the brim. Almost as if choreographed, every single
person in the tavern lifted a toast at the same time, though I could not
possibly understand it through the tears and choppy voices. This is quickly
becoming a madhouse, I decide and have just turned to flee back to the safety of
my normal dreams when that voice rings forth again, in a chant that simply
commands attention. And this is what we all did hear:
"I bow my head in desperate prayer, words slurring off my lips as chilled
hands grip my weapons. Squeezing my lips shut, I raise rage filled eyes to my
prey, muscles trained by war tensing in anticipation.

With a snarl torn from the bottom of my soul, I launch myself through the
air; Wind coursing past my ears as I approach my target. Suddenly things are no
longer calm, the sounds of the night air are ripped apart by screams.
Spittle mingles with blood and coats the hard-packed ground as we battle,
furies unleashing themselves in a desperate struggle. But hark, a sudden halt,
the enemy suddenly writhing on my blade, a quick grunt and heave and stillness
permeates the night again.

Slowly I gather my blades and rise from the ground, my body aching, my heart
torn. I look down at the ground, a bitter sweet smile fixed upon my face.
I have done my duty, I have ended the man who would harm my God and his
children. But at what cost, I slowly wonder, head bent against the tears.
With a heavy heart, and no words left in my mouth, I bend to retrieve the
head of my wife's son."
Now even my sickened gasp is lost in the emotion that swells through this room
as the last chant seems to echo accusingly back at me. This is a celebration?

What could possibly be celebrated with such words I ask myself in disbelief.
This is growing entirely uncomfortable, and not just because the room suddenly
feels as if there are forges under the floor, but because something is growing
in my heart. This does not feel right, this does not feel free. I am dreaming,
why can my dreams not be pleasant and happy. All of my grumbling is silenced by
one small sound. Slowly I turn my eyes gently towards the center of the room,
unerringly tracking to that very tiny gulp of a sob. Until that one slip, this
mighty Xoran had completely escaped my notice. She sat there, surrounded on all
sides by warriors and people from every tough and hardened corner of the world.

Yet there was such strength in her gaze, such beauty in the steel shining from
her eyes. So rapt was my gaze that I nearly missed the single tear brimming in
the corner of her eye. Sudden anger makes me step forward from the wall, intent
on putting a stop to such acts of misery and demand that these people grow up
and go home. Suddenly my body simply stops responding, locked into place;
because she is rising. With a deep breath, this beauty that can exist only in
dreams marches stately down the row between tables as people make way. Lifting
her eyes to the audience, she slowly explains that she will be doing the final
honors, in reading the last work of this cherished man. Something presses
firmly into my forehead, causing an ache that I can not possibly bear. I do not
want to hear this, surely it will be more agony. But I can not tear myself away
from her eyes, from that slight tremble in those lush lips and so I listen as
she begins.

Her low alto voice spreads slowly through the room, pearling tones singing
these words:
"Here I stand, the wind swirling the cloak around my shoulders. Resolute, my
shadow stretches across the land as sweat stubbornly coats my jaw.
Ignoring the blood dripping from my blades, I wait with a hopeful heart.
Those that would oppose me lie in ruins behind me, my sacrifices in a heap at my
At this, the very earth trembles at the fluctuation of some powerful force.
Yet, even then, every eye in the room remain locked on those of the speaker and
something deep within me struggles mightily for release. I feel as if I am
mouthing the very words as they continue:
"A sudden noise breaks into my thoughts, a distant screech echoing through
the mountains. Lifting not a muscle, patience fills my body as the beat of wings
filters to my ears.

Eyes bright with life take in my silent figure, great talons of war flex as
the falcon circles me. Peace floods my soul, joy fills my thoughts.
While my God has not spoken, I have been answered."
Something snaps in the very fabric of the room, everything blurs, and I wonder
if I am waking up just when things got interesting. A pearling screech rings
against my eardrums, as I still float in rapture of the wonder of those last
verses. All of the horror I had heard before is washed away in the simply and
honest truth of that poem. Something within me resounds deep, echoing through
the core of who I am. My vision is clearing, though it must still be behind the
times. For everyone seems frozen, attentive faces captured in the magic of that
final moment. I am frustrated now, shaking my head because the faces nearest me
are losing focus while everything else is getting sharper.

Surely its time that I woke up, I have been sleeping for sometime. I know I have a great duty that I
must return to, everything in my life has always been on that focal point. But
my mental commands are simply ignored, as I slowly glide forward towards the
stunning visage that just gave me the most fitting eulogy I could have asked

Reality becomes as clear as that last crystal note still hovering in the
air. Those words that I first felt disgust and then later awe were my very own
words. That bard was my closest friend paying me the greatest honor that I
could have dreamed. That lovely Xoran vision seemed so real because I know her,
I have known her for decades. I have shared my deepest secrets and my greatest
desires with her, as we raised our family to carry the legacy. Still so
beautiful, still so wonderful, oh.. still so strong as she stands there frozen
in time. Just a tiny tear trickling down her face, but her eyes show such sorrow
that my heart no longer seems to beat, as if in sympathy.

As my legs steadily move me onwards, I long only to plant one last kiss on
those tempting lips. One last kiss of understanding and farewell. With
understanding giving weight to my very footsteps, I slowly scan the room,
recognizing each face as they flash into my view. The silence matters naught to
me any more, because my ears are ringing from sounds of another world. This is
when the regrets should start, this is when I realize how I have failed to truly
leave a mark on this world. But somehow, the tears and sorrow just does not
flow. I struggled through a life of blood, gore, and warfare. I lived a life
that left little time for peace and happiness. I let my sense of duty and
responsibility drive me so far, that I never even realized it was time to hang
up my weapons. And yet, for all of my faults, this room is packed with people
that I cared for in my own way. For all of the times that I railed about not
being understood, for all of the times I felt alone in my fight and my quest...
here stands the proof I was completely and utterly wrong.

And now I turn to face the front, gliding slowly past the now obvious casket,
sparing only a simple glance for the armor clad figure within. I have no need
for that mortal body, though it served me well and with little complaint. A
smile creases my face in spite of the tears that still remain. While the room
behind me fades into obscurity, each person still frozen in the mists of time, I
draw my shoulders square and walk towards the light before me. The very forges
of the universe flare brightly to guide my path as I take a trembling step, my
God reaches out a tender hand to pull me forward into His embrace. A sudden
tendril of feeling bursts over me, a feeling so rare that it pauses me for
moment even in this frozen rapture. Joy. I know now that my life was worth
living. Even as I lamented never knowing peace or tranquility, even as I
regretted not spending more time with friendlier pursuits. Even though I lived a
life that felt stricken from emotion by my duty and responsibility, I know it
was worth it. This final moment of my life has taught me the greatest lesson
that I could ever learn. And then I feel my tears fading as the weight rolls off
my shoulder and my heart lifts in freedom. I have accomplished my duty. My Lord
beckons unto me.

Goodbye my friends. Enjoy my wake. My peace is here. I finally shall have