The Dwarven Council.

The Dwarven Council.

A Chapter by Phil Beckwith
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Dagran the dwarf has had a long life thus far, and he does not expect that to change, though the Dwarven Council may have a thing or two to say about that...

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Our story begins on a cold winter night; the moon was full, and not a cloud in the sky. The wind flung about within the safe walls of the mountain peaks, like a child’s marble rolling about a bowl during a game of “Dragons tales and Goblins heads.” The trees creaked, the wind howled, as if to hint a storm on the horizon, yet the skies were clear and not a drop of rain fell upon the world of Dealyn.

The great city of Karnthin blew wild this night. Though its populous grew weary of the sudden change in weather, which the old and wise warned as a sign of war to come, they slept in a peaceful and carefree slumber. 

Why the dwarves slept with such ease was simple, for they knew that the great city of Karnthin was impenetrable to all those unwanted within the land. This basically included anyone who was not a dwarf. 

This great defense to which Karnthin had relied upon for years beyond remembrance was the great Guardian Mountains. These mountains were like no other mountains seen before upon the face of Dealyn, for they were arranged in the shape of a horseshoe, thus creating a protective boundary that no mortal could pass alive, let alone be fit enough to lay siege upon the great dwarven city. There was only one way in, and one way out of the peaked border, and this was at the horseshoe’s opening. 

The dwarves, seeing this as a direct threat upon their solitary life style, forged the gigantic gates known as “Karnath Pass.” Built of solid stone the Karnath Pass was said to stand five times higher than the mighty tower of Boran in the south, and three times again as wide. Thus the dwarves slept sound knowing they were safe within their borders. 

True it was that every dwarf slept with out care this winter night under the watchful gaze of the Guardians, like an infant sleeps bound by his mothers arms, true it was all slept sound, all but six. 

*****

The dwarven council met in the great hall of Karn. They met here on the same night every month, the night of the full moon.

The Great Hall of Karn stood in the centre of the city of Karnthin. Built centuries ago, it was forged from the same black mortar and rock that the Guardian Mountains possessed. Its hard, cool, black stone had survived many wars, including the Great War of Dealyn. When first built, the Great Hall was used as a temple to worship the forgotten god of the forge, Rajan. Nowadays it was primarily used for council meetings and clan gatherings.

The Great Hall was divided into five separate rooms; one large room that was surrounded by four smaller ones. Three of the four smaller rooms were utilized by the three dwarven clans that resided in Karnthin, the Red, White, and Black clans. Each group had a leader and each leader was a member of the dwarven council. The fourth smaller room was the King’s study quarters. It resided to the far end of the Great Hall. The king who preferred to study and work from his private quarters in the Royal Palace rarely used this room. The one large room sat in the middle of the other four. The ceilings were high, and the walls solid mortar. One would find that after speaking, the large area would echo for long minutes after. A long table was positioned in the middle of the room. It was a pure white marble conferencing table that would seat up to ten dwarves, not that any more than five would ever use it at one time. Its shiny tabletop was of high gloss. The king would often find himself staring into his reflection, in hopeless search for answers that would never surface. To one side of the white table, was a rickety old wooden desk and chair that was situated next to the king’s throne; this was the scribe’s desk. It was in this one large room, at that very same white marble conferencing table, where the dwarven council met.

King Irongaze sat at the head of the marble table in his throne made of hard molten lava. He played with his long curly, ginger beard, that was starting to show streaks of gray. 

Two councilors, one of white and one of black, sat at one side of the King. The councilor for the red clan sat on the opposite. All three were dressed in the customary attire of a dwarven councilor; a long robe, each in the colour of his clan, with their respective clan’s emblem hanging from a golden chain about their necks. 

General Forge took his post alongside the red councilor, saluting in the ageless dwarven custom of raising his axe to his brow until acknowledged, only then would he be seated. The general’s stern face was covered in grime from the day’s work on the training field. He was not attractive, well not by what the dwarves conceived as attractive. He was taller than most dwarves, and his beard grew only so far, never to hang below his chest. These ‘shortfalls,’ or so they said, were only skin deep, for the general was a seasoned militant who’s courage shone bright on the battlefield. General Forge was also a great leader, who the dwarven community looked up to and respected. He wore heavy chain mail armor, accustomed with a golden chest plate that showed the mark of the great dwarven army of Karnthin. This mark was the design of a hammer and a spike entangled with mountain vines engraved elegantly into the golden plate.

Last to be seated was the king’s scribe, Dagran Stonebeard. Having been first to arrive in the great hall, Dagran had been standing at attention during the whole seating and greeting process. He felt his stern stature fade slowly into a slump as his old legs started to quiver. Finally, when the king had granted him leave to be seated, Dag fell heavily into his chair situated behind his desk. He let out a sigh of relief as he rubbed his aging legs and welcomed the flow of blood.

Dagran Stonebeard was an aged dwarf, now almost reaching that time in his life when a dwarf would usually give in to retirement. He was 123 years old, and he could feel his body catching up to his age. 

Although Dagran had lived through the Great War of Dealyn, he had yet to serve in battle. It is said that a dwarf must serve in battle before his spirit crosses over at the end of his life. To not serve would brand the dwarf’s life incomplete and thus his spirit would hang in limbo for all eternity. 

Now although Dagran hated war and adventure, he had, due to his father’s wants, actually tried out for the dwarven army when he had come of age. When Dag lacked the skills that would have granted him entry, rather than facing his disappointed father, Dagran decided to disappear. He was found unconscious and tattered outside the gates of the Karnath Pass. Dagran remained in that state until after the Great War had ended, and so he missed out on his one chance to serve in battle. At the time, however, this did not fuss Dagran, who had never believed in the old legends of crossing over. But now that Dagran was fast approaching his end, he felt some remorse and regret. Old age is a funny thing sometimes.

Now Dagran was the king’s scribe, and had been for the past fifty years or so. He had seen two kings come and pass and now Dagran served King Irongaze. Irongaze was only young, by dwarven standards, when he had come to power. Dagran had been quite skeptical of the young king at first, but over the years the two formed a sort of a bond. Not quite a friendship but more like how a work donkey becomes attached to his master. Dagran would be likely to stay with the king until retirement age, which was only a few years away. But for the time being Dagran Stonebeard was the King’s scribe. Thus every lunar cycle on the same day at the same time along with the King, the three councilors and the general, Dagran Stonebeard would congregate in the great hall of Karn for the meeting of the dwarven council.

*****

The council meeting started off the same as always, with news of general mishaps and happenings about Karnthin. King Irongaze then probed into the real reason they were all congregated at this late hour.

“Now, with all of the run-of-the-forge topics out of the way, I have concerns about this talk of war going about the city….” The king interrupted two of the councilors, who were expressing their concerns about a halfling nuisance wanting entrance at the gate.

“I aim to dismiss this rumor at this instant, yet,” he paused in a thoughtful moment, staring down at his reflection in the shiny marble surface and stroking his beard. “Though the clans seem to be calm, I sense some fear about them, General Forge what are your views?”

“War? HAH, do not listen to those old b******s your Majesty, there has not been war upon Dealyn for a century, and even if war did break out, no army, human, elven or orc would be able to penetrate our gates…”

“Do not under-estimate ‘those old b******s’ General, they have proven themselves wise in past times,” interrupted the king in his rough and brooding voice, his loud echo bounced from wall to wall whilst the councilors grumbled in agreement.

Next the king turned his gaze upon the red robed councilor seated beside the general. “Councilor Steelwage what have you to say?” he asked, raising one bushy ginger eyebrow.

“Well, yer highness,” the councilor nodded “I say we send a scout, to travel south to the hills of Boran, seek advice, and return with news, then and only then may we resolve the matter.”

Steelwage breathed heavily through his thick nostril hair, then added after a thought “I believe I have family living there by the name of Stonefeld from memory, I hear they are quite high up within that wretched dwarven community, they should not be hard to locate.”

“Aye!” mumbled councilor Red-mason who, dressed in his white robes, sat opposite councilor Steelwage. 
“A sound plan indeed.” He noted, then stroking his long white beard he added, “but for one slight detail my lad, what dwarf in their right bloody mind would be inclined for such a task?”

********

Dagran was near on nodding off to sleep with this boring talk of war and quests. Both of which did not interest him in the slightest. Sure Dagran was the king’s scribe, and therefore should have been carefully noting and paying acute attention to all topics discussed, but Dagran had long since discovered that the king had lost the use for his records. Dagran eventually gave up and sat in silence daydreaming about his homemade ale and his plans for retirement. 

One might wonder then, why the king would require such a scribe? Dagran not only did not take record of the discussions at hand, but he didn’t even take notice at all. There was a simple explanation to this question however, you see, although King Irongaze was noted to be a stern, discipline dwarf whose facial expressions quite often fitted his name, he had a soft spot for old Dagran. Though he would never in a thousand lives admit this, King Irongaze had neither the heart nor the want to discharge the moody old dwarf. 

********

“Aye, they say he survived the death gate that grants only the gods pass between the spiritual plains and ours. It is said that he brought with him the magical spike of Karn, forger of the Karnath Pass. As legend has it, the young dwarf used the spike to chisel a pass through the fabrics of time that separate our realm from the netherworld. If any dwarf has the guts of steel to venture south, through ogre lands alone, it is he.” agreed one of the councilors

“Bah, magical spike you say, huh lad? Old children’s tales or rumors I say! Who here has seen this spike? They found the tattered fool with not a shred of cloth upon his hide, alas; the lad didn’t even have recollection of these tales! Anyhoo, that was another age, he would be far too old in these dark times for such a burden, send one of my troops your highness!” The general then looked at King Irongaze sternly and added, “they are fit and disciplined dwarves unlike this old fool!”


Dagran shot up with a start, suddenly aware of the conversation at hand, and all but fell out of his chair. His fat bottom lip quivered, his white bushy eyebrows deepened in a frown for he knew where this was headed. There was only one dwarf that the council could be talking about and that thought scared him more than death itself.

The king looked over at Dagran and grinned then simply said; “Dagran Stonebeard, the council and I have decided upon whom must trek forth and meet with our cousins in the south.” 
At this the King glanced at the general then back at Dagran and added, “Aye, old one, we have chosen you!” 




© 2012 Phil Beckwith


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Added on October 10, 2012
Last Updated on October 10, 2012
Tags: dwarf, action, adventure, fantasy, quest


Author

Phil Beckwith
Phil Beckwith

Australia



About
I am new to writing though i have so many ideas and feel the need to express them. more..

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A Chapter by Phil Beckwith