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    submitted 27 May 2013 @ 03:27
    edited 27 May 2013 @ 12:38

The Second Sundering - Return

Written by The Last Beacon
Rating: Excellent (4.5) (4.5 rating, 3 ratings)

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Durin MoltenFist III watched the combat unravel before him.

He stood cross-armed taking in the fight; the stench of sweat and the faint sickly sweet pungent aroma of blood. The explosion of steel upon steel filling his mind with the primitively glorious sound of combat. The symphony given all the more substance by the grunts of exertion and force. Norin Deephelm, the grizzled, aged, powerful veteran swung his sword at Durin's son. No fear inhabited the father; confident in his son's abilities, carrying with him the blood of the mightiest dwarves warriors. Mundin IV raised his shield and risked loosing his face by raising it minutely slower; the iron band brim pushed the sword away, safely parrying it only a few inches from his eye. Mundin's axe, fuelled with wrath at the attempt responded by cleaving through the air towards Norin's scarred head.

The veteran's ploy had succeeded.

Norin's aged but combat-tested reflexes spun him low and away from the axe's crusade for victory. Instead, Norin's recovered his sword's momentum in the dodge and wrought it with all his might at the young Prince. The Prince, who's features transitioned from confident wrath to fearful revelation, managed to bring his shield up to block the blow, however it's force propelled Mundin to the ground with a dull thud. His armour, full intricate, artistically designed plate and undershirt of iron chainmail forced the Prince's attempt at standing an incredibly arduous and undignified task. As Mundin stumbled to his feet, of-centre and precarious, his attacker launched himself, the boss of his shield crashing first, into Mundin who was thrown back onto his back on the floor. Norin's sword came plummeting toward Mundin who closed his eyes and clenched as he waited for the sword to pierce his flesh.

Durin laughed heartily. Norin's sword was poised above Mundin's body. Mundin's eyes opened with a relieved sigh. Norin sheathed his sword and helped the Prince up as Durin marched over applauding the duel. Mundin, a little shamed and red-faced at defeat spoke up, "How did you do that? Wouldn't that parry have thrown you off balance?"

Durin replied clapping Norin's shoulder in conglaturations, "As he launched the thrust he moved his feet to ready for the dodge; it was never a real thrust but was intended you to do... Exactly what you did." The King noticed his son roll his head minutely in understanding.

"The young pup did remarkably well until that point; his natural talent is a clear indication of his inheritance," The veteran said trying to smooth over Mundin's annoyance with the compliment, "The experience will come with time and the small intricacies of noticing such things can be brought on with practice."

"When I was on the floor that last time I could have sworn you were going to run me through." Mundin exclaimed through the fatigued panting.

"With your father right there? Even with him unarmed I wouldn't like to wager on my odds of survival." He said with a grin.

Durin laughed humbly at the compliment, "We'll have to have a spar ourselves soon, friend."

The three conversed for several minutes in a cheery, friendly manner before time constraints got the better of them. As the father and son left the practice chamber and the trainer behind, the two exited into a main corridor. It was outfitted with glimmering bright torches fitted into brackets in the wall; in common dwarfish fashion corridors were only about seven foot high, while chambers, rooms, halls could vary from anywhere between ten to ninety feet depending on their function and grandeur.

"When I get the chance, time away from the war council and common delegations, we should spar together." The King said minutely awkwardly.

Mundin looked across at his father; so strong and majestic, unwavering and indomitable he knew his liege and father found it hard to express feelings and much beyond commradarie and cheer. "I'd like that. Perhaps I'd get to see your fabled skills I've been hearing so much about." Durin smirked a little at the playful insolence. The pair walked briskly for several minutes, making their way about the expansive subterranean Palacial home. The palace guards saluted as their King and his Son marched past. Many of the less experienced multitudes of courtiers either averted their eyes in fear or respect or stared in awe. The rest, the older of the courtiers who were now immune to the novelty, went about their buisness as usual. Mundin even saw some of the prestigious and mighty 'Paragons of Hurazhar'. For several years Mundin always dreamed of joining the 'Paragons' however with time the dream's allure had dimmed and dulled. He also came to the realisation that his skills in combat were not worthy of being accepted into one of the greatest fighting forces in Gyair. Now, however the Prince had found himself drawn to archeaology and desired to explore that almost unlimited supply of ancient ruins of the world. He hadn't told his father yet; he wanted to do so after completing his training. Dwarvish nobles, the race possessing long lifespans, were required to go through almost four decades of martial training and academic education; even at twenty eight he still had almost a decade until completion.

Durin and his son stopped at the threshold of the War Council's Hall. A long formation of steps led down to a rectangular basin about ten feet below. The roof was high above their heads, almost fifteen feet. The room was rather expansive with an enormous stone table in the middle of the throne, closer to the door. Upon it, nailed taut to the table, was a large, impeccably detailed sepia-coloured map of Gyair. Several fantastical leviathans were artistically implemented in the corners of the sea based on the various behemoths and leviathans known to sail in those deep, dark depths. There were also several of the notorious, monolithic dragons drawn above their respective mountain dwellings. Mountains, rivers and forests had been drawn in, knowledge taken from the masses of information accumulated in Hurazhar's great library. Atop of this rolled out, the corners of which had been weighed down with a book, a helmet, the handle of a sword and coin purse, was another map. This one wasn't so artistic and more practical, laying out the territorial and political boundaries in Gyair. Around the table, bickering ruthlessly and maliciously, were several men and women, each of which held political, martial or commercial importance within the Dwarven Kingdom of Kurizhar. The ancient, wizened Drake Yxinir, leader of the loyal goblin vassals in a cavern deep beneath Hurizhar, was also there, as were two goblin lieutenants, voicing the opinions of the Yxinir Tribe.

Mundin was intrigued that his father hasn't announced his presence. Instead the King watched his vassals pouring over tomes of information, reports and accounts, using them to their verbal advantage, retorting and generally spewing vicious curses and insults. Durin's eldest offspring and heir to his titles, Gror VI, was also near the table but engaged in a serious dispute with the noblewoman Ingra Blueiron detached from the group. Ingra was the recent inheritor of a vast sum of wealth previously belonging to her father. Despite her young age, only forty-one, she had been unofficially managing her incapable father's vast buisness before his death. Her father suffered a mental disease some years ago and died at the ripe young age of ninety-seven. Despite being so young her commercial talent and deep pockets had granted her a position on the council.

Durin cleared his throat exceptionally, purposefully loud. The council immediately, subserviently silenced itself when it realised the source of the sound. "We are going to war... Whether any of you like it or not; this war is not about power. It is not about territory or wealth. Nor knowledge, nor influence. This war is about survival," Durin began to amble down the steps. Mundin remained at the top, giving his father space to instruct and command. "The Human Empire of Thorias has collapsed with the death of their King; five various factions have risen in a bloody civil war." Durin began to circle the table. He absent-mindedly grabbed a sword from its rack and felt its weight in his hands.

"Thorias has been the main blockade against the goblin Chief Rurgash for fourteen years; now the mighty goblin and his sea of green imps have descended from the mountain's cave-halls and have fallen upon the kingdom. If Thorias goes, the Tribe of Rurgash will quickly gain the allegiance of the tribes of Thurgaz, Mandurk and Harkurg. I don't think I have to explain how bad that would be. The next two obstacles in their way would be the Human Kingdom of Giviel and our southern-most brethren The Kingdom of Thorizar-Hura. Independently neither of these factions could face down such a horde. They wouldn't be able to united either.

Things would be bad, but resolvable through unification." Durin tossed the sword of the table with a sigh and leant on his hands upon the table's cool stone surface. During that time he had only made it to the head of he table, opposite the stairs. He took a few minutes to look around at the thirty most important people in the Kingdom, he stared into the eyes of several. With his two sons he took additional time. "However, and I've waited for everyone to be here before announcing it... Peiroth has returned." Mundin swallowed hard. He glanced down at his father's subjects. So many looked impossibly fearful and astonished. Even the great, notorious and fearless Fundin Stonehelm, leader of 'The Paragons of Hurizhar', eyes' widened. Even now he was donned in the uniform armour of 'The Paragons', crafted from the bones of the ancient dragon Thurikias, thrown down by Durin's father.

"Peiroth hasn't returned to the pinnacle of his might yet; the fact that we've discovered his return to Gyair has given him pause. He doesn't want to wait any longer and he's already on the move. He's travelling to the resting place of Opheriax with his retinue to raise his mightiest ally. He may not be as strong as he was so many eons ago, but when he faced off against our ancestors and the ancestors of Man and Elf were united and strong. Now, with the eroding of time and countless wear of malice, things look... Grim. Peiroth has come at the most unbefitting time; The ancient Elven HighKing Imlardrin Huivilien has disappeared following the murder of his Wife and child; The Noldor will be reluctant and weaker without his leadership. Without Thorias the other, lesser Human nations will find it hard to unite; none have the authority that Thorias possesses. Our own kingdoms still find it hard to unite, many having an enviable disdain for another following our Kinstrife so many centuries ago.

However," He said, his voice picking up and climbing in volume and authority, "We will not go into the darkness with despair. Peiroth was defeated before. He will be defeated again. Each and everyone of us is going to have to sacrifice anything and everything necessary to succeed. I want each and everyone of you to find something to fight for. Find something to kill for. Find something to die for. Any of our soldiers are worth a dozen of Rurgash's imps. We will deal with this threat, and for the sake of our wives, our children, our grandchildren, we will toss aside any rivalries we old dear and unite to kill this ancient being once and for all. Peiroth will fall beneath our blades... Or we'll ensure that Hurizhar's name glistens in the annals of time for standing toe-to-toe with that that fucker."

* * * * * *

Several hours later; nighttime has descended outside the mountain and it's notably cooler. The natural circadian rhythm of want for sleep has told the dwarves that they should be in bed, despite not leaving the rocky shell about their home.

Gror, son of Durin, heir to the Kingdom of Kurizhar, collapsed on the bed sweaty and fatigued from the exertion. Satisfied, content and affectionate, Ingra Blueiron, voluptuous and desirable cuddled up to the muscular, defined young body of her superior. She rested her head on his chest using him as her pillow. His arms came across her, hugging her close, making her sensasation of protection and safety all the more adamant; a sense she deeply craved at the moment. Gror possessed a remarkable hold over her now. Even though she felt obligated to defend her opinion with a ravenous, stubborn temperature, she couldn't remain in an argument against Gror; she felt strangely, passionately subjugated by him.

"Do you think the rumours are true? About Peiroth? Surely it's just a misunderstanding." She queried softly after some time had passed. Gror had almost slipped into a fatigued induced slumber.

"When Peiroth Aysilni fell to our little world, the very foundations of Ilyar rumbled and shook. Unfortunately he landed on our continent, Gyair. Prehaps if he landed on our sister continent Maaniur he would have been vanquished by whatever inhabits that mysterious land."

(*Perhaps it would be important to note that in the multitudes of millennia that the lesser races have inhabited the planet Ilyar only four known beings have ever ventured across The Hungering Sea to Maaniur. None of the four that went have ever been known to return.)

"When he arrived he managed to gain the allegiance of Opheriax, one of the four Draconic Lords. Opheriax's kin followed her and Peiroth found himself with a powerful army. Norminax, another of the Dragon Lords, requested to see Opheriax alone and when negotiations went sour the two battled. Peiroth arrived and the thunderous battle paused. Peiroth, individually, possesses the greatest abundance of magic known on Ilyar; he managed to fell that almighty Draconic Lord with a single strike." Gror said, recalling the great swathes of historical knowledge that he was forced to imbue in his education. "If its not Peiroth, we'd know. Simultaneously, if it was Peiroth we'd know. I also questioned Hurizhar's Grand Mage Ori and he, as well as the other magically-sensitive mages have been able to sense his magic despite being more than a thousand leagues away."

Ingra trembled a bit and her eyes stung. The reoccurring thought of oblivion droned obnoxiously loud in her mind. "Do- Do you think we'll be alright? Do you think this is it?" She asked her protector.

"What father said was true; each race is divided. The ancient kings of old are long gone, no longer able to protect us. But, in face of adversity new heroes rise. My forefather, Mardin II had never been seen as a warrior by his father but in the defence of Thariul-Huraz Mardin and his small retinue singlehandedly routed the siege by killing the goblin chieftain. Osirmir D'Boril, the mightiest, greatest hero to ever grace Ilyar's surface, was of the Xynir race. He was outcasted by his race for killing his particular tribe when they wanted to serve Peiroth. When he and his army of Deepholm Dwarves, Noldor Elves, Anar Humans, Dragons, Giants, Titans, a handful of Xynir and even a hive of Nirectis arrived at The Battle of The West Wind every single foe of Peiroth chanted his name. Opheriax's brood, goblin hordes, the Nirectis allied to Peiroth and Peiroth himself learned to fear that name with a ferocious aversion. New heroes will rise. Perhaps we are not as wise or intelligent as our forefathers but we are more experienced, numerous and desperate; we have experienced more of life and I'm sure that we'll be more ardent to hold onto it."

Ingra had nestled into him even further, soothed by his voice and his knowledge. He also made a notable point which she found rather profound; good will always rise to combat darkness. She just hoped it'd be strong enough to do so and win. The odds were stacked firmly against them.

Time quickly elapsed in her fear wrought contemplation.

Half an hour had passed before she realised Gror was asleep. Suddenly she felt alone and isolated. She became instantly terrified when the great bedchamber door opened. She patted the warm body beside her frantically and he awoke with a startled jolt, sword pulled from its sheath from beside the enormous bed. Both lovers sighed in relief when they noted it was their liege, however Ingra shrunk in fear and embarrassment when who it was actually sunk in. "Don't worry, child. You have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed." Durin's rugged features appeared ghastly from the flickering light of the torch he held. Durin placed the torch in a wall bracket illuminating the bed chamber.

The room was comprised of two sections, differing in height. The first section, closest to the door was lower, requiring three steps from the door's threshold to reach the floor. It was composed of a large book case and a desk and stool on one side. On the other a mannequin outfitted in Gror's armour. The second section, ascended four broad, shallow steps and was divided up by a wall either side of the elevation. The second portion had an enormous bed at its centre, an armoire and an expansive wardrobe. Several paintings and an artistic, sepia map coveted the various walls throughout the chamber.

"I have something for you. It's outside; while I grab it you can put some garments on." Durin told his son as he walked back towards the door. Gror waited for his father's back to turn before slipping out of the bed and grabbing at his trousers and boots sprawled on the floor. Ingra waited in silence as Durin came back in. The King was carrying a sword. He spun the sword so that he had he broad, razor thin blade in his grasp with the handle pointing at his son. Two months ago the miners came across a large vein of obsidian. I hired Nar Icesinger to forge weapons for several people, yourself and your brother including. This is your blade." Durin absentmindedly swung the sword at the wall dividing the chamber. The blade sliced a few inches into the wall, rock and debris fell onto the floor. Pulling out the blade he showed it to Gror, revealing no blemishes or scars on its surface. "It is unnamed; ready for you to forge your own tales. When battle arrives think of those that you love; this blade and the fire to protect your family will be key in ensuring your survival." The King said, mildly awkwardly and apathetically. Gror, as did Mundin, know and understand his father's struggle at personal, intimate feelings. Gror, understanding the attempt and worry that his father expressed took the blade in one hand and attempted to hug him with the other. Despite the mild awkwardness the two had a rare intimate moment before Durin pulled away. "Good night, son. Good night, Ingra."

Ingra was startled at he sight. The two most masculine males she knew sharing the moment made her smile, but then fear; if the moment was a resultant of the revelation of new events it dawned on her that even the mightiest of willed warriors could falter in their resilience. Gror stood, sword in hand, watching his father go. Then, solemnly he carefully placed the sword in its sheath and placed the obsidian sword on the armoire. He then removed his attire and slipped back into bed. Although remarkably tired he was rather, quietly ecstatic at his father's subtle attempt at protecting his son and the remarkable gift he was bestowed. He grabbed hold Ingra and planted a firm kiss on her succulent lips, who giggled childishly relishing in his touch. Pulling the covers up higher the two of them began another round of gruelling but satisfying nighttime exercise.

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