keskiviikko 1. helmikuuta 2017


"I say we muster our might and strike now, the beasts must be taught a lesson!"
"Direct assault is a senseless tactical maneuver, imagine the losses we'd suffer!"
"We must spend more time thinking on this, if we..."
"Oh shut yer mouth Thorlek, ye've always been such a beardling anyway!"

There was a great commotion around the wooden table over which Ungrim had laid the maps of the surrounding region as his thanes argued over strategy. He was content to let them go through with it, to vent their frustration and rage before ultimately falling in line to obey the Lord Commander of the Iron Company. There was much grumbling, insults, beating of the table and pulling of beards but that was just the way of the duardin. When Thane Balik tried to climb on the table with a foaming mouth, however, Ungrim saw it best to put an end to this wrangling.

The debates died away quickly as the Lord Commander's voice boomed in the room, with only a couple of grumbled words still mumbled silently into beards.
"Had enough of your chatter? Good. Come forth, Morek, and tell us what are your thoughts on this. You were there, after all," Ungrim called out, softening his voice as he addressed the thane across the map-strewn table.
Thane Morek Furrowbrow took a step towards his liege, the lamp that hung from the roof illuminating the scarred skin on his bare arms where troggoth vomit had once struck.
"The greenskins are dug-in good in the ruins of Bochenfels, m'lord. The horde suffered significant casualties during the siege but they can still fend off armies twice their size thanks to the formidable defenses of the city," Morek reported, bowing his head.
"I say there's no sense in running headlong at the fortifications like the greenskins did. Just a terrible waste of duardin lives."
"Don't be such a rinn, Furrowbrow. As soon as we march to the gates that mindless monster will run out head-first to meet us on open ground!" Thane Balik laughed, slamming his palm onto the table and toppling one of the stone figures standing on the map, the one that resembled Morek's now-gone warrior band.

Morek reached out and picked up the figure, squeezing it in his fist and opening his mouth to send a salvo of insults but Ungrim spoke up to stop the situation from escalating again.
"You can call the warboss a monster if you wan't Balik, but a mindless one he is not. The plan he used to cover his intentions about the city until the very last was something a regular orruk shouldn't posses the wisdom to do. There's something special about this Urgokh the Chopper, as he's taken to calling himself..."
"So now that thing is a 'he', too? Isn't it enough that our commander praises the tactics of such pests but now speaks of them as if they were his old comrades!" Balik shouted out, gazing around him and trying to seek support from the others. None looked back at the raging thane.
" 'Tis not treason but wisdom to recognize the strengths and weaknesses in one's enemy. Stand down Balik, I've heard enough of your talk. Anyone else?"

"The Ironhold is well fortified and manned by a venerable garrison of greybeards and hearthguard. None could threaten it even if we marched out to seek a chance to break this horde once and for all," stated Thane Thorlek, a general usually known for his passive tactics and love for defensive warfare.
"Aye, we can even spare an artillery column with us. The engineers have been busy in creating the machines of war," agreed Thungni Thundertoe, a relatively young thane clad in the red of the Bronzebeards clan.
"Should the current might of the Iron Company be gathered to any one location there would be very few forces in this realm to halt our advance. My warriors will fight and perish by your side no matter the path we choose to trod in the end," Malakai Smensson joined in, a powerful Slayer Lord that had whole throngs of infamous and respected slayers under his command.
"My rangers have been doing nothing but scout duty for too long now. They desire the glory of a real battle and I'd be more than happy to give them just that. Our crossbows and axes are yours, Lord Ironhelm," Brewmaster Burlok Dorinsson declared and bowed his head.
"And I will call in my champions and their clansmen to join me and my hearthguard in seeking revenge for those who bled and died in the defense of a lesser race." The last oath came from Morek Furrowbrow, his scarred hands still wrapped white-knuckled around the stone figure he had picked up.

Ungrim quickly scanned through the map with his eyes. He had many battalions on the road around the surrounding regions, fulfilling contracts or tracking down greenskin tribes that tried to take root in forests and caves, but the vast majority of Iron Company's strength resided currently at their fortified underground city of Ironhold. They would all return in a matter of weeks if he sent out the message now. Yet he was still reluctant to give in to his thanes' requests to march out with all his might, at least until his long-cultivated plans first came to fruition.
Along with the dwarf statues there were other stone figures standing on the map, sightings of enemy forces and estimates of their numbers. It'd been months since the fall of Bochenfels and Ungrim had kept his scouts watching the city at all times, reporting back to him on a weekly basis. The city was far away although located in the same Realm and required its own map beside the one representing the lands around Ironhold. What concerned Ungrim was the fact that many greenskin tribes around the invaded city seemed to be shifting towards it every week, the orruk figures drawn towards the city's name on the parchment like moths to a flame. No doubt they scented the violent power radiating from Urgokh the Chopper and instinctively moved in to bolster the Waaagh!'s diminished ranks.

Suddenly the wooden door of the war chamber opened and a heartguard sentry announced the newcomer.
"Runelord Agrin Fireheart of the Bronzebeards!"
Ungrim lifted his gaze from the maps. Even his thanes had fallen silent, their endless debates extinguished by the sight of a master of rhun. It was not uncommon for Runelords and their apprentices to be absent for months or even years at a time, searching for ancient knowledge or creating runic artefacts in the lowest, darkest deeps of the hold. For such a respected individual to attend a war council was rare and unexpected... Except for Ungrim Ironhelm.

"Tromm, lord Fireheart," he greeted the ancient one. "What news from your labours?"
The runelord walked up to the table and the thanes moved aside from sheer respect, allowing him to place a fist-sized stone tablet on the map.
"We've done it," Agrin stated. "By the ancestor gods, we have finally succeeded."
A strange fire lit up in the Lord Commander's eyes as he rose from his granite throne, his deep blue cape falling heavily on the floor from his broad, muscled shoulders. On the stone tablet a single rune had been chiseled out, a complicated angular pattern that none of the thanes around them recognized. If one stared at the rune for long enough it seemed to pulse slowly with a golden inner light.
"You have done well, Agrin Fireheart. You and your runesmiths have accomplished something we thought lost to our kind ages ago. You have unraveled the secrets of the ancients and recreated the rune that does the impossible."

All the thanes slowly turned their amazed gazes at the runelord standing before them. The weight of centuries could be seen upon those broad shoulders and in the wrinkles of that weathered face. A pale grey beard flowed magnificently all the way to the floor despite the many clasps and braids that were supposed to gather it up from getting underfoot.
"Gronti-Duraz," the runelord uttered, making even the wazzok thanes understand the enormity of his accomplishment as the words echoed in the room.

Lord Commander Ungrim Ironhelm picked up his runic hammer from where it had rested against his throne and thrust it up in the air to cast a bright radiance over those standing in the gloomy chamber.
"Sound thrice the great horns atop the peak of Ironhold. Send out a call to arms for all our kith and kin and bid them to return to their rightful liege, for the time has come when the Iron Company marches out and strikes down its enemies for good. Khazuk!"
The thanes drew their own hammers and axes as one, raising them high and shouting with such unbarred joy and zeal that their booming warcries were heard even in the lowest deeps where the weary runesmiths stood admiring the result of their work.

"Khazuk! Khazuk! Khazuk!"

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