Moonday, 20th of Gozrun 471
All the tales I ever heard about besiegements in my younger years were of the moments of battle, and from this one we have a few:
- Finding those who did betray the town, and seeing them die for their crime.
- Meeting the monster that Rorin surprised in the burnt church and making sense of his description.
- Avenging the fallen of Trunau and stopping the thieving orcs in their tracks.
- Standing with Frum at the barricades behind the Dwarf gate.
- Tora throwing the grenade back at the bombardier at the broken Dwarf gate as the orcs ran against the makeshift battlements, her wild throw leading the grenade to fly high, arc gently around and bounce of the bombardier’s chest before exploding.
- And the last fight, where we were able to capture Griffin before he could claim his prize (although Torag only knows how we managed it).
But the mind-numing fatigue, that is something I do not know how to explain. I am better rested than most in Trunau but it is evident in everyone. It is like they are drunk but without the excess of emotions that drunkenness often brings.
<!— more —>
It must assuredly be past midnight by now. We are deep beneath the upper quarter in limestone caves that no one knew existed. There is some light here, the 1/2 orc had a torch burning.The sound of rushing and dripping water is ever-present.
We scavenge the room. The giant’s armour has a dark bluish colour and it is edged in silver. Each of the cameos that cover the arounr have gem eyes. The cameos are inset in elongated hexagons which have a mythril edge engraved in ancient dwarven. The runic script is very fine.
The pile around the armor contains a large amount of broken blades, sheered at the hilt, but of dwarven make. As we pick up the backplate, a hand-sized holy symbol clipped in a chain made up of dwarven men. It looks like a piece of dwar-dugar but Shamus thinks it was originally a necklace, or at least 1/2 of one.
The skull of the once-giant was fractured; the eye socket is caved in but the skull is heavy. I ask for the skull and crack open the jaw from the skull. Inside the brain case is 1/2 a basalt geode, filled with green crystals that shift to purple when you look at it in the right light. It might have been the giant’s eye behind the patch. Among the crystal patterns on the inside, one side is very low (the lattice is flat-ish) while the other is more rugged (spiked) and there is a tiny vein of mythril that crosses the geode. Tira recognizes the geode as a topographical map of lower Belkasen. And the outcrop of crystal in the flat plane would be Koldukar. There’s nothing on the map representing Trunau.
As we get most of the armour out and dig into the pile of dwarven bones, we find various accoutrements. The black plate has been dented and skewered by many swords. While few swords actually cut through it, we deduce that the backplate might be what broke all the blades. There are dozens of bolt-heads made of skymetal stuck in the armour (there are 13 in total). One dwarf skeleton is held together by its armour. His armour has a bluish tint to it. I recognize it as blueshine. It renders metal immune to rust. It’s the same blue-ish sheen as on the once-giant’s armour (what I’ve taken to calling the coat of kings).
We collect 28 assorted silver (5gp ea) and 16 assorted gold (15gp ea) and 4 mythril (35gp ea) war rings (delivered by the military for bravery and battles), 3 red-gold garnet rings (flame motif—a symbol of Angrad, the Dwarven god of war), a rather impressively sized mythril chain clasp (the symbol of Kuls, god of duty) and 2 heavy gold torques.
Shamus finds a weight belt made of metal plates (instead of leather) and has a large upright dwarven fist as a belt buckle (symbol of Trud, the youngest son of Torag, demi-god of strength). It has a faint aura of transmutation. When he puts it on, he’s able to lift me!
There are two clay runstones in the mile that Shamus is certain are magical. The clay runestones are covered in the lore of 2 spells, arcane in nature. The last elusive aura is actually a long thin bone with runes inscribed in it. It’s written in ancient dwarven. It’s a wand of inflict moderate wounds, 7 charges. Key word: Kalag.
Tira realizes that there are 10 broken blade in the pile. Tira thinks this might be where the battle of 10 blades was fought.
The giant was probably wearing masterwork chain at some point. It is heavily damaged by age and battle.
The 1/2 orc that ranted at us stood about 6 1/2’ tall, lanky, blond hair. He had a light olive-green complexion. His face, neck, shoulders and upper chest were completely tattooed and scarred from several major scarification rituals. He had a cold iron falchion, a dagger at his belt, a quiver of 10 bolts, and a light crossbow. On a couple of baldrics and belts he’s wearing flasks, bottles, and vials galore. He has a small book in his bag. In it was a note folded as a bookmark. In giantish it reads: _ get me the agrimosh (the great unmaking) and the crystal rock. I want Uskroth’s ironsark (iron shirt) too and anything else in the barrel but I have to have the hammer and the rock. I think it looks like the rock with the silver line I showed you. I’ll need both to follow the old dwarf road and find the giant killer’s tomb. So make sure you get the right one and bring it all back to the fort. Signed Grenzeldek. Glorious chieftain of the Twisted Hearts._
Turns out the 1/2 orc is actually alive. We tie his hands. Shamus identifies 2 flasks of cure moderate wounds among his gear. He wears a locket with a lock of hair in it. The aura on it is faint divination. Rolling up one of his sleeves we find a bracer with lots of masterwork thieves tools. We strip him bare.
In his belt pouch is a gate token: 159017; it’s associated with Akrin and Griffin—one name was from the gatehouse and the other was from the Alchemist shop.
Shamus pulls out the equivalent of 100gp of teeth per wolf.
We pick up what we can carry and the 1/2 orc and start to head back out the way we came.
As we come out everyone in town seems to be screaming in triumph. Most of the citizens of the lower ward have come out with weapons bared.
The cave giant’s carcass is on shore. Taking its place, knee-deep in water is Silverbeard who is silently mouthing an incantation. The normally-still pool has waves. Some waves crest and break upon the shore, but they flow out of the pool, as if they are flowing along a river along a non-existing inlet. Most are flowing up hill towards the dwarf gate.
The fires have died down considerably. There is still some sky glow, but it’s illuminating against large pillars of black smoke.
We cross the Hopespring.
Silverbeard asks if we’re alright? He heals me somewhat but apologizes as he does not have much healing magic.
The dwarf gate is re-occupied. There’s 1/2 a dozen militia men on guard. We learn from them that Frum is trying to get the last of the orcs to give up. They don’t want to give up if dwarves are still in sight. He’s sent for nets, but no Dwarves are supposed to come to his aide.
Locals are putting out the fires as best they can. Magic seems to be keeping the embers blowing from the top of the trees from spreading. The inner quarter took the brunt of the attack. There are some fires in the upper quarter, but they too are under control.
The bodies of the dead are lined up just past the trees, near the well. Orc bodies are lined up in two lines, shoulder to shoulder, some 30’ long.
Carston sees us and waves us over. We present ourselves to him and tell him that we need to speak to the council. We learn that Halgra has instituted siege rules. No one is to travel alone. We are told to dispose of our prisoners and return to the gate for our work detail.
As we pass the healing outpost, the dead townsfolk are many, and there are many smaller bodies among them. The survivors seem bloodied, soot-stained, and exhausted.
We continue along and soon hear Halgra yelling out directions. She’s signalling militia-folk to re-occupy the tower. Of all the voices in town, her’s is still fine.
We go up into the upper quarter and head straight to the longhouse. The upper quarter is strangely serene. The streets are mostly empty and there are few signs of damage here other than the occasional catapult rocks. The fires of the siege did not touch this quarter. The longhouse seems abandoned. In the lower levels there’s a fair crowd of people. We strip him down to his underpants and lock him up.
Shamus and Tova stay behind to watch over Griffin.
Tira and I go to Blackhammer hall. We get healing and drop off our pile of stuff in Tira’s room. We are ordered back into service and spend the night searching buildings, removing booby-traps, securing areas, and keeping watch.
Through the night we learn that, when we went into the cavern, Silverbeard incanted some stuff and the waves in the Hopespring started crashing. The waves pushed out the giant and now are pushing out blood-soaked foam. The water that runs up hill seem to travel around and into the buildings and put out the fires slowly, but surely. Injured people have been coming in, clergy are meeting at the upper gate. Frum gathered a squad together and they chased the raiders towards the main gate. Jarin and his unit routed the raiders outside of town and they boxed in the remaining raiders. There was a standoff, some shots were exchanged. The dwarves were pulled out and nets were brought in. A few orcs killed each other and others committed suicide. In all there seems to be 7 or 8 orcs captured. Including our 1/2 orc, that makes 9.
As the night continues, bodies are brought in. Eventually, the sun starts to rise and the fires are dying. The main gate is damaged, but it is propped up in place for now. Some serious work will be needed to repair the main gate. One of the towers of the dwarf gate had been completely demolished by catapult shots. In the inner quarter 6-7 buildings were destroyed by fire and more catapult shots. By mid-morning we learn the tally. 58 dead (17 militia), 140 injured, 8 unaccounted for. A total of 11 dwarves, and 9 children have lost their lives. Trunau has lost 7% of its population.
There are 80 dead orcs, a dead giant, and 2 dead flood trolls. There are also dead dogs and wargs. Jarin captured and disabled a catapult out by the Barter stones. Most of the huts and tables near the Barter stones were completely demolished. The large stone with a painted cross was pulverized and the ground dug up around it. This only furhter proves that the giant was looking for the caves. But how did the 1/2 orc know where to place the crosses?
The Sanctuary tried to attack the giant, but their acolytes did not do so well. Everywhere there was a cross, it would seem the giant was determined to dig. Among the slain and captured orcs are a series of war banners. Most of these have a black spike on a red field.
During the night, we’re approached by Halgra. She wants information out of all of the prisoners and asks Tira for help. What she did with the last two, I think the councilwoman is impressed.
From sunrise and into the mid-morning shifts are assigned for rest breaks. To try and stymie any attacks, there is still a full contingent on the walls. Livestock is let out to feed; but everyone is on edge. Tova tries to get an audience with the dwarven elders. She manages to get us an audience with Agrit.
We meet up with Agrit in the iron works. She’s guiding a few acolytes in the relighting of the forges ceremony. We join in on a small ceremony to Torag to bless the forge, anvil and sacred forge hammer. The forges are relit, a sacrificial gift of dwarven whiskey is given, and prayers are said.
Agrit is surprised we insist on speaking to her now. Upon seeing the “hammer” she summons us up to her room. Her rooms is a small apartment at the top of Blackhammer hall. The place smells of old people and books, but mostly old people. She has many clay tablets, and tables of tools to make potions.
We use mirrors to bring sunlight into her work space. She uses an apparatus of lenses to see things more clearly. When she notices the armor I’m wearing she hits me with a hammer and claws at my face. Perhaps Tira’s tales of her are true.
She identifies the Talagular and recites a passage from the glorious epic poem of the fall of Koldukar. She starts about 2/3rds of the way in where she recounts the theft of the Talagular from the valley of the gods. She talks about a thief who accosted and slew the Highfather of Torag with the Talagular, entrusted to the Dwarven people by Torag himself so they could build a civilization once they touched the sky.
There has been speculation as to whom the thief may have been. One of the apocryphal stories and other treaties and stories that extrapolate against the stories. There are theories about who the thief was and why he stole it. The poem doesn’t extrapolate upon it possibly because the crime was so heinous that the thief’s identity was stricken from all records. Some stories refer to the thief as makalfun (he who has been cursed); although the stories do not explain if he was cursed by his actions or before.
She finds the coat of kings interesting. It needs a serious cleaning. She uses several books and clay tablets to cross-reference something. She slowly works out some kind of lineage from the cameos on the armour.
Upon Agrik’s request Tira starts chanting her chant of the ancients. The air grows heavy and full of shadow. A strange nimbus comes from the hammer and forms coalesce; the fallen 7. They are battle damaged and standing among us, as if we were forming an army, traversing lifetimes. It is really unnerving to meet the gaze of these empty armours. They regard us stoically, carrying arms and shields. They return Tira’s salute en mass. As the chanting dies down, the silhouettes start to fade, becoming smaller as if they are moving backwards. When, at last Tira takes a breath, the light has returned.
Agrit identifies the fallen as the warriors of the third legion. A few pages after the theft of the Talagular, is the story of the 10 swords; when the third legion was gathered to gird themselves for battle against a mixed group of giant clans in the foothills of the Mindspin mountains. The dwarven king, so the poem reads, feared the giant’s aspirations so as a preventative measure the third legion was sent out. They fought several skirmishs, but the dwarves were winning until the giants took succor upon a hill. The third legion raced up the hill and managed to slay a good number of giants before they were routed. The survivors fell back, but within three days the giants disbanded and returned to the Mindspin mountains and the giants never rose again. This action sufficiently crippled the third legion, leading to it being disbanded. The leader of the giant’s clan was known as a hero chieftain Uskroth Ironsark, who wielded the mighty hammer Agramosh; the unmaker.
Uskroth was known for being a short but charismatic fire giant who wielded a mighty hammer. Uskroth was felled by a bevy of arrows as well as a bevy of swords from the first battalion of the third legion. We now suspect that Uskroth was a dwarf and Agramosh is the Talagular. Uskroth was related to the kings of Koldukar; specifically the son of Durlak the First; grandfather of the last king of Koldukar. Making this the armour of Durlak Mythril-heart who was a Thane of the Mythril guard; Durlak the Second’s personal guard.
If Durlak took the Talakular from the valley of the gods, and slew the pontiff, then he would be the Malkafune.
Only a year and a half later, the Orcish hoards of Velsin fell upon Koldukar. The hill the giants retreated to was the hill upon which Trunau was founded.
The tribe of twisted-heart could be a melding of a tribe of hill giants (stone hearts) and orcs (twisted nails).
The gods’ valley, where the dwarves first broke surface in the quest for sky, where they built the forges of forges, where all was lost eons ago; with the loss of the Talakular and the pontiff, the priests of the valley left to rejoin their brothers in Koldukar. There was no point in staying there once the forge has grown cold.
We need to find the other half of the map. If he has the other half of the map, it me—ans the giants know where the sacred valley is. They need this half of the map to find the giant killer’s tomb.
The sacred path has been lost for ages. Agrit seeks knowledge in another book. In the recent age there’s a story or legend of a dwarf who found the sacred road and visited the valley of the gods as he searched the mountains to slay the giants. This was during the reign of the Whispering Tyrant, about 1000 years ago, when the southern collection of men and dwarves fought against the Tyrant, there was fear that the giants would join forces with the orcish hoards against the collation. But one brave dwarf took it upon himself to go fight the giants in the mountains by himself. He terrorized the giants. Slaying them. Routing them. He’s only known as Nargrym of the Steel Hand. He was thought to be a Thundershield.
He routed and fought the giants for over 20 years, keeping the giants out of the fight and opened up mountain passes for the allied forces to flank the orcish hoards. When he finally fell in battle, some say he was betrayed. He was entombed along the dwarven road.
The priests of the valley of the Gods, those are the ancestors of the Blackhammers. If that’s true then the Pontiff himself, if he was slain with the Talakular, then this hammer was used to slay our ancestor. And that act alone is what brought the downfall of Koldukar.
Agrik suggests we pray on this matter and contemplate it. It is a matter for the dwarven people and should not be divulged to the council. We should be the ones to question the prisoner. Torva believes he was trying to find relics of the giants and probably doesn’t know its link to our history.
She hides the most holy item and most cursed item in dwarven history in among her underwear in a led lined chest. We all agree not to ask why she keeps her underwear in a led lined chest under the bed. She elects to talk to the patriarch about the armor. We tell her that we’ll come check with her before we talk to anyone on the council.
The Stonebearer clan lost the most members. One of Tiva and Tova’s cousin’s died. Some of the dwarves that died were poisoned. Their evening meal was tainted.
We wake up later that evening, as the sun is going down and the day is cooling. People are still working around town, but all in all it’s still a giant mess. Bodies have been gathered and covered over in sheets, funeral piers are lacking lumber as we need the lumber to fix the main gate before the sun goes down again.
We are summoned to the council meeting. At the meeting is Commander Frum, Halgra of the Black Blades, High Priestess Tiearie and her man at arms Brantos, Councillor and patrol leader Jarin Rockfall, as is Casten Rockfall, Councillor and banker Lessie Krumpkin, Councillor Agrit is also here. The leaders of a few other militia squads are also here.
The retinue of the priests and other militia people, some 25 or so people are crowded in this small room.
First Halgra thanks everyone for coming despite wounds and exhaustion. She is thankful that everyone here made it through the siege. There are a lot of papers on the table before here. 58 dead, 138 injured, 8 unaccounted for, 17 members of the militia, 9 children … She asks Councillor and patrol leader Jarin for a report on the defenses in town.
We learn the main gate has been damaged and after a day of solid repairs, the gate is mostly sound. They discuss the state of the battlements. One of the dwarf gate portcullis is destroyed, the other is decent. One tower of the town is demolished and needs constant watch on watch. It will be a priority in coming days.
Another councillor speaks to the state of the fields and livestock. Some of the fields have been trampled. Is there enough seedlings to replant? No. Is there enough time to replant? Maybe. Livestock—some has run off and some is missing. The state of food: it’s being rationed although not necessary, we currently have a surfeit of food.
Point by point teh council goes through the mundane concerns of the damaged town. Then they go through the requirements of dealing with the dead: both townsfolk and orc corpses. Halgra wants a dozen or so hung along the crossroads to rot. The banners will be spiked to the main gate, as is traditional.
To make up the loss, retired militia members will be called back to active duty. There will be some grumbling about this, but it cannot be helped.
Eventually they get to the tomb that we found under the Hopespring. Tira tells an abridged tale of what we found there. Agrit and Halgra share a look, but Agrit just shrugs it off.
The war banners collected come from the Twisted Nail tribe at Red Lake fort. They occupy a fortress due north of us; at the headwaters of the River Esk. Red Lake fort is an old border fort. Their siege catapult was made to be disassembled, so they may have used the giants to carry it here.
The dead are thanked, the living reminded that this is not over. Halgra wants to know more about the orc forces arrayed against us. Our little unit is called out for thanks as we are declared instrumental in clearing the upper quarter. Frum thinks that is an understatement.
Halgra describes the area from which the Orcs must have come. She wants to strike back.
After the meeting, I go with Shamus to stay with him as he uses magic to better identify the good we found.