Herein lay the accounts of Grimmorn Stonebraid. Third son of Magnus Stonebraid. Chosen Blood Rager and blood of Thrias. Bringer of honor and glory. Below are depicted the great deeds of his journey. May his House ever grow brighter for them.
I didn’t write the first part of this. These books are given to every Bloodrager whom leaves the great under kingdom. They are supposed to be filled with all great deeds and glory, so that upon returning home a skald and council can go over them to assign proper merit and praise to the respective house.
What a silly notion it is. What if I died in some dragon’s jaws? How would this book ever get back to them? Am I supposed to sing my own praises here in this last piece of home? No, I’ve decided and settled on using this book to depict my truth. It’s also why I’ve chosen to write in the common tongue. I don’t need someone finding this damned book and not knowing where in the blazes to return it. Nor would I have my adventures and truth be muddled by interpretation.
I’ll start where I can remember. The sun was brighter than anything I’d ever seen. It was a rare day when a dwarf poked his head out from the safety and beauty of the earth. An overcast day it was, yet still shone like some mystical realm I wasn’t aware could truly exist. Oh sure we were all taught that the surface was real and what races had been documented in the great tomes of the Archivists, but seeing is believing as they say.
It was colder too than I’d of expected. For a land that lingered below a giant hanging globe of molten steel it didn’t seem to draw any warmth from it. I’ve been trained from a tender age to be nothing if not educated in all that I could be for this journey. Weapons, armor, survival, even this cursed common than sounds like a child’s muttering. Everything had lead up to this point in my life and yet it wasn’t my choice.
Perhaps this is not the start many skalds will herald as glorious or great, but truth is what I will adhere to. Let others of greater intelligence than myself decide what glorious spin to place on everything. This is the part of my life that I can control. The one part that I will decide how to write it. I wonder if all Bloodragers feel this way? If they all embraced what they were to become or felt the same strange trepidation that I now feel. To be told you’re only to bring glory so that some generation or two can bring you up in a tavern. A source of both immense pride and opportunity and also a weight that could snap a golem’s neck in two.
I swallowed down my fears, I wasn’t to show any. I was a foreigner in a foreign land and despite how many books and paintings I’d been shown, I was no fool. This was not a world I could relate to in the least. No deep cavern springs to drink from. No intense heat from the forges that worked tirelessly. No great horns to sound the hours of the day. Even the silence up here was deafening already. How did people exist in such a land? It felt so vast and open… so empty.
I was glad when I finally reached the village. It was the first stop on the map I was gifted. The first place I’d have a chance to leave some impression. Already I felt the pit in my stomach become the size of a goose’s egg. I was embarrassed to feel this way. A chosen son of Thrias afraid to walk into a damned village? I had to get myself together. I spent the night before perched atop a small hill to watch the comings and goings. I’d managed to trap a small rabbit during my journey down the mountain pass. A sprinkle of dwarven seasonings made it feel like home for at least a moment. I spent that night filling my belly and my mind. Going over common phrases over and over again. I knew my accent would interfere with some words, but I wouldn’t mess this up. Not my first introduction to humans. I went to bed that night with a little hope.
The next day I’d overslept. Perhaps my body didn’t want to get up, already feeling the pressure of my tasks at hand, but motivation finally came in the most unlikely of places. Food.
A gaggle of geese was what I saw in that village square. Tall and lanky looking people walked around in strange attire and stood in a great line before some tables. They were being judged or something. Talk of a culling was happening, but it didn’t mean anything to me. I recalled that cull meant a great death of something. Were these the weak or diseased of the town being gathered up to be put out of their misery? They certainly didn’t look strong. So pale and small.
I didn’t have much time to ponder those facts as the tables of food had caught my eye. It certainly seemed bizarre to offer a final meal to those you were about to kill. I imagine humans saw this as a kindness? Sometimes when a dwarven elder neared his final hours they’d prepare a feast as well. Perhaps our cultures weren’t too different? A strange man spoke to me. He was the first human to ever make my acquaintance and he spoke dwarvish. I almost had a heart attack right there and then. We’d been told our kin weren’t well known and that I’d stick out immediately. So to find the first human I’d ever exchanged words with, knew my native tongue, immediately turned the world around. Once I got past the initial shock a strange sense of home managed to linger. He was a good lad, bit scrawny and pale, but weren’t they all? I hoped he wasn’t about to be culled too.
All of that came to a crashing halt as a man rode into town upon a creature I’d read about. It was called a Harse and moved with four spindly looking legs. I’d only seen a few from the traders who brought them into the city and they looked different than these.
Choas? Adventure? Fate? I wasn’t sure what was the reason behind what happened next, but the man began to… vomit spiders from his mouth. Others screamed and ran, while a few succumbed to the skittering beasts. This wasn’t exactly a dragon to slay, but we all had to start somewhere. A few others seemed to heed the call. Despite their unimpressive sizes, it appeared humans did possess bravery.
I immediately charged the man and decided that the source of spiders should be stopped. Instinct brought my sword down to cleave the man in twain, but I hadn’t expected more spiders to burst forth form his body. Magic? What the hell was all of this?
Too chaotic to really notice what was happening, I recall my pale friend shouting and rallying others to some cause. There was a small woman in the back with another in plated armor. A man had launched a few arrows into the mix, but I don’t believe he was an actual archer by the aim. Some other young woman used fire, a cunning notion to burn the spiders. A final seemed to hold the power to cleanse harm, though she was slow to act.
Truth be told aside the younger woman with fire they all seemed very slow. Correction, the archer was quick, just didn’t seem to do much. The bout went on for a while until all the crazed creatures were squashed to the ground and a few bodies remained as a result of their attack.
Despite my earlier feeling of pressure, I felt alive. I’d held back the blood of Thrias from coming out, such small pests weren’t worth his glory. Still I knew that all my training would serve me well and that in the midst of hell I could start to shine. There was talk of others needing our aid. I admit to blocking out most of what was said, until it came time to assemble the others who remained.
A rather motley little crew we were. The elvish woman was stubborn and despite speaking of wanting to aid others, seemed to demand being asked first. The man I’d befriended… named Gravyel aided me in trying to convince the others. The younger woman was flanked by her less than charming compatriot whom seemed to always be looking out for her.
The archer tried to speak to the elven woman and the other young girl. Truthfully I was more interested in a drop of mead and some food after having rolled around and dashed through flame. Charisma wasn’t my strong suit, but they’d all come to appreciate my sword soon enough. Besides every good story needs a few supporting characters for flavor hm? Perhaps I’ll have to make an effort to get to know them.
I went to bed that night, knowing that we had a journey ahead of us. Fear and excitement bubbled up inside me so much that sleep was hard to grasp. Instead I took the time to wash my beard and sharpen my sword. Tomorrow was another day. One step closer to being able to return home a hero.