Saints of Wura Flash Fiction
I hear the crunch of boots trudging through the snow. My friend is coming. I push the lock bar to the side and open the gate. At least there will be one that will share this place with me until the end.
In the middle of the road appears a stout dwarf, a proud warrior and veteran of many battles.
My friend. One of my last friends. I hear the snap of bowstrings.
He is tired. He begins to run, blood already running down his face and a steady stream rolling off his arm. Three arrows slam into his back and he stumbles and falls just before that gate. I reach down and grab him under his armor. When I go to pull him into the gateway, he slaps me.
“No! Shut the damn gates! We have the lower traps set and the doors to the keep are sealed! It is done.“
Gimror draws a small ax and smiles, “Let the bastards come for me. I will split their pretty faces!“
I release my grip and nod to him, “Fight well, brother.“
“I will. Try not to die before me!“
I close the gate and lock it back. Gimror shouts from the other side of the gateway and then I hear several thuds as more arrows strike my friend.
I stand upon the upper summit of the great dwarf city of Harrodarr. This is the last tower. The perimeter defense in the mountains where our war-drums vibrated into the rocks beneath my feet ended only a few hours ago. Those dwarves were the last upon the stairs to the mountain pass. The enemy cannot yet reach my spot. But when they do, I will do what is necessary.
We last defenders are the Hammersong. The Dwarven High Guard. Our home has been under siege and now the wretched forces of men have assailed our holiest grounds. My only happiness is that some time ago those unable to fight fled this place. Many went with them but we could not leave our sacred city to burn without dwarf blood to flow into the halls in a last defense.
For five nights we fought to hold the lower stairwells and now the gateway is all that remains. Some remain within the inner sanctums but I cannot say for how long. I have command of the outward traps. A duty I shall fulfill. The last duty of my life.
Horns sound in the deep and I hear the scalding flames of the forge fires rush down the northern cliffs burning those that tried that doorway. That was Rufidor, my second cousin. If I know it, he barreled hammer first into the shield line after switching the release valves of our molten smithing rivers. He joins his brothers and children that died yesterday.
The northern way into the mountain is now sealed under hardening rock.
I see their banners cresting near the convergence of the rivers. They come. All the snarling chest suckers. I must release the first traps.
With switch in hand, I twist the knob. A rope snaps on a distant hill and a trio of boulders drops springing down the mountain. The entire attacking force halts for a moment. They are like ants frozen by an object in its path.
Hacking. I hear hacking.
I look over to the doorway and see the wood shaking. Someone is trying to get in.
The legions of men are at it again. They are now halfway up the stairwells. I flip another switch and the Dragonfires ignite. A boiling blast of arcane fire, mixed by our very own Dwarf-Wizard Rumthul! The smoke rises and I smile. I swear I can hear the sizzle of their flesh!
The hacking continues.
As the legions are forced to wade through the slurry of burning bodies, I prepare for another trap. We had saved this one. It is the Crystal Guardians of Harrodarr!
The men reach the upper level of the stairwells now. There are so many but it is the last of the magic in the mountain that shall play against them. In an electrifying brilliance, the storms of the dwarves shoot out from carved crystals and take down wave after wave of men.
But it is not enough.
They still come for we… are evil. Or so has the hammer been measured to us in their eyes.
The hacking continues. I see a man’s face through the splintered wood. Looking back over the walls to the stairwells, I know they’ve reached the gates. I wonder how long they will hold?
I take a small ax in hand. They are still hacking their way in, but I am ready. As the gate frame shudders and falls, I take a breath ready to fight them. But it is not yet time.
A flurry of arrow fire strikes the doorway. I glance to my left and see Eriva, one of the elves from the south. She releases a continual barrage taking down each of the attackers until at last they are all dead.
In that moment, she pauses. Lowering her bow, I catch the light of a smoke hazed moon pierce through her hair and forget all the past sins of our two races. She is truly beautiful. I remember all the fighting between dwarves and elves. Why had we wasted so much life at war against one another? I spot blood and see a horrid gash on her lower leg.
“Eriva? You have been struck!”
“I have but the halls of Harrodarr are ready. The enchanted vines of my people guard the inner sanctum. None of men shall defile this place for some time.”
The elves and dwarves had fought for years but as men deemed our use of magic as reasons for the problems of the world. We became evil. We were dragged into the streets and tortured. Our paraded bodies taken to the capital cities and spat upon. Many have died but some have escaped to a sacred Snow Dwarf refuge. A place for all peoples. A place I hope my son has reached.
Dear Slatnichor, how I will miss you.
“They are coming,” Eriva says.
Her bow is taut and I take a second ax in hand.
This path to our hold is not easy to reach. Up the mountains, a perilous journey made worse by coarse icy winds and avalanches. These warriors that approach were sent for one purpose, to destroy us. We are the last defenders and now our enemy charges through the broken gateway.
The elf releases her shot. I throw my axes. Three men fall and I take my double-headed ax in hand. Its name is Blackblood, named for the orcs that it was forged to fight. Now it will be bathed in the red blood of men.
A spear pierces Eriva and she falls stammering towards the enemy as she draws her own blade. She rises to continue forwards when an arrow pierces her eye.
Hammersong strong, I die for my people, her people, and all of magic that have been persecuted to this end. May our descendants avenge us.
I burst into a sprint and lift my ax above me. This is the end of my story.
“I am Rornichor, last of the Hammersong. May I be avenged!”
Thank you for reading! Join me next week for my next #Taverntales entry!