The dwarven warriors cautiously stepped out of the shadows of the tunnel and into the moonlit cavern. Their eyes darting from dark recess to shadowy enclave, searching for any sign of the enemy. Grimhaldr gripped his axe firmly and motioned for the battle squad to halt and kneel. The six dwarves obeyed his hand signals. Each became as still and silent as the darkness around them.
The battle captain turned his head, listening. His slightly pointed ears jutted out from under his twisted and braided hair.. He heard nothing, and saw nothing as his enhanced vision searched the dark chamber.
He looked back into the dark tunnel and motioned with his hand. An old human man emerged from the darkness, his arm extended and aiding an even older dwarf walk forward. The dwarf was truly ancient. His eyes nearly frosted over with the grey cataracts of old age. He was bald, except for wispy white hair that hung loosely from the sides of his head. The ancient dwarf wore intricate robes of fine heavy wool, chased with trim made of silver and gold thread. Around his neck he wore an amulet of exquisite detail. A silver disc bearing the mark of the Anvil. He was a priest of Moradin, All-Father God of the Dwarves.
Grimhaldr turned back from the old human and dwarven priest to his men and motioned for them to spread out. His hand signals spoke for him, giving the orders to establish a safe perimeter. His warriors obeyed and quietly moved out another twenty feet or so staying vigilant and on guard.
The chamber was massive. It had once been a temple dome built in the caldera of an ancient and extinct volcano. Recently the dome had come crashing down, leaving the night sky visible as the half-moon of Selune and Shar, wrestling, passed over head. In the center of the chamber a massive stone ring sat low to the floor. A great well, a central passage descending straight down through the heart of the volcano.
The Well of Dragons.
For months, adventurers had been delving deeper into the ruins, fighting monsters, pacifying the creatures that dwelt in this ancient ruined place of power. At last, the heart of the complex could be accessed.
“Gwydion, lead me to the place of battle. Show me where you fell.” the old dwarven priest said to the human who lead him.
“Yes . . . yes, of course Hierarch.” The wizard responded. As he looked around the chamber. “There, I was just in front of her when she rose. They were all around me.” The Arch-Mage lead the elderly dwarf out into the chamber further, in front of the great well. The two of them stopped and looked around them.
Evidence of a battle still littered the dark and dusty floor. Massive scorch marks streaked across the stone. The rock was pitted from acid splashes. The pair stopped in front of a terrible scar of destruction.
“It was here, I stood here. I was redirecting the summoning power of the Thayan mages in the hopes of bringing Bahamut into the world. It was too late, she had already broken the veil and was emerging from the well. Our only hope was to call her nemesis into the world, to summon the great platinum Archon.”
The old dwarf nodded his head in agreement. “Yes, likely the only recourse, as
you say. Such an action would have likely caused your death anyway, the two of
them would have torn this mountain down to its roots and inadvertently killed
you all anyway.”
The ancient priest bent slightly forward as if trying to see with long blinded eyes. “Let us be about our work Gwydion Heirot, you yet live, but alas those who gave all do not have such fortune as to have a wizard’s contingencies. Stop dallying, I sense evil still abounds in this place even though Tiamat has been sighted on Guthlantar, half a continent away.”
The old dwarf looked up at the mage and spoke with a hint of threat in his voice. “Now, where is my niece?”
The wizard released the priests arm and nodded. He raised his staff and cast a mixture of minerals and herbs into the air and spoke in the twisted tongue of the arcane. The dust sparkled with energy and began to waft out on the slight breeze. It spread throughout the chamber and settled down on the floor. Slowly a soft blue glow began to radiate from several piles of bones, and old destroyed armor.
Gwydion looked to Grimhaldr and nodded. “Bring them, cautiously.” The dwarven battle-captain nodded and directed his men to gather the glowing bones and bring them in front of the wizard and the priest. His men did so with delicate motions and respect for the dead.
Four piles of bones were laid out in front of the Heirarch. The old dwarf looked at each with this milky white eyes.
“Not those two. They are elves, and I do not bring elves back into the world.”
“But . . . but . . . that is unconscionable.” Gwidion protested.
“To the nine hells with you and your conscience!” the dwarven priest spat as he turned with anger on the mage. “Keep your damn waggling tongue still. You serve one purpose here mage and it is done.”
The Arch-Mage was unaccustomed to being spoken to in such a manner but knew
better than to protest further. He neither wanted a fight with the Hierarch of
Moradin, nor thought he could be victorious in his current diminished state. He
lowered his head in respect and stepped back.
The priest turned back to the piles of bones. He knelt down and reached out his arthritic hand. His fingers traced over the broad dwarven forehead of the skull in front of him. He grimaced, as if in pain. “This is my blood, my kin. The last of her family and by all the Gods of my people I will not leave her here, to rot away in this cursed place.” He rose and stood.
“By my right as first Heirarch of the Great Maker, I call on you Moradin Soul-Forger. All-Father, this daughter has served beyond the call of mortal folk. Her line has ended, her mother, father, brothers, sisters have all spilled their blood on the fair and good earth of Faerun. I entreat you great father . . . no . . . I beg of you my God, my maker. Honor their sacrifice. Give us back this daughter of your line, that a Battle-Frenzy my yet walk the world. That Clan Sorndar may yet have sons and daughters who will sing the songs of their people. Grant my hands your making power and raise these honored dead.”
The Heirarch extended his hands out and in answer to his call a soft glow of light emitted from them. Moradin’s power flowed through the old dwarf, his body weak from age and infirmity but his spirit radiant and full of glory. A soft mist grew around the two piles of bones in front of the priest. A mist that glowed yellow with the light from his hands. It coalesced and grew thick. Suddenly the light ended, the old priest stumbled and was caught and aided by the mage Gwydion.
“It is done.” the dwarf priest mumbled.
In front of the mage the mists began to dissipate and there lying on the cold and dark stone floor, a powerful female dwarf lie shivering, naked and covered in sweat. Beside her a strange human male, covered in glowing blue runes.
Grimhaldr stepped forward quickly and pulled the cloak from around his neck. He supported the dwarf female and wrapped the cloak around her. Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked at the young battle-captain.
Valdis ?” he asked, searching her clearing eyes.
“Grimhaldr?” she responded, gripping the chain mail on his shoulders.
The warrior smiled. A tear broke from his eye and streaked down his cheek into his beard. “Thank the Gods, thank Moradin.” he mumbled.
“How long?” Valdis asked in a whisper.
“Six months . . . and many trials and tribulations later.”
Grimhaldr said in return as he stroked a sweat soaked strand of hair away from
A moan interrupted the two, as Valdis turned to look at the stone floor next to her. She saw the naked and sweat covered form of Yl’Garis next to her. She smiled as the man, tried to clear his head.
“She is well?” the old priest asked, as he stumbled forward and knelt next to Valdis, his hand reaching out and stroking her cheek. “You are well, my dear? You can speak?”
“Aye, Fellgrimr” she croaked out through a parched throat, “I can speak . . . and I can drink too. Is there ale?”
The old dwarf turned his face and blind eyes to the battle-captain. The two of them broke into smiles and laughed.
“Help him.” Valdis said and nodded towards the rune covered human on the ground. “He is a loyal friend.”
“We will Valdis.” Grimhaldr said, squeezing her tightly in a hug, “We will, and we’ll get you some ale too.”
The wizard Gwydion stepped forward from the shadows. His eyes searching the dark chamber around the joyful scene. He tapped his staff on the ground lightly, catching the attention of the dwarves around him.
“Pleasantries aside good friends, I believe we must away . . . quickly.”
Heavy footfalls began to sound around the chamber. The dwarves came on guard and brandished their weapons.
“No need to leave so quickly Arch-Mage.” a heavy and rasping voice spoke out from the darkness. “You have come so far, why not stay and enjoy the hospitality of our Queen?”
A powerfully built and heavily armored Dragonborn emerged from the dark perimeter. His scales the color of twisting smoke. His draconic face sneered at the group of dwarves and humans. He motioned with his hand as two Shadow Dragons revealed themselves and crept forward, heads low and breathe held.
“I truly insist that you stay. It would be rude of us if we did not show you
the joys of Tiamat’s greeting.”
Gwydion looked at the party of dwarves around him and then back to the Dragonborn warrior. A slight smirk drew his lip up and a small spark of flame seemed to dance across his eye.
“Allow me to show you the hospitality of mages.”
This is not an ending . . . but a beginning.