The Power of the People
(Dorimnur Goldhand's perspective of past events.)
Dorimnur Goldhand, Clan Father of the Goldhands and Yemekar’s Pick of Urguan, pried his matte black daemonsteel spear from the Inferi bowman that had failed to retreat from the dwarven advancement. His right pauldron would clink as he marched, from where he hastily put it on back on after doctoring the arrow wound from the same bowman. But on that day, blessed by the light of the Aengul themselves, Dorimnur was untiring.
At the dawn of that blessed day, as the war machine of the dwarves churned for war, Dorimnur was apathetic. He donned his new custom-tailored plate armor, crafted himself of course for his new clan, and set his cold helmet over his face. Taking heavy steps from his bare-bones abode he called home, he took a deep breath. The smells of fire and steel and sweat were abundant, even overbearing, but Dorimnur couldn’t smell; he inhaled to clear his mind for the task ahead. His footfalls echoed along the walls of the cold masoned stone to the forges of Kal’Mugdor, barking orders within the minute of leaving his home to those who were finishing their work from the night before, and to those who were picking up the mantle of ensuring the day’s operation was successful. The forges of Kal’Mugdor did not rest, nor did Dorimnur, granting himself minimal rest for the entirety of the war itself, which had spanned decades thus far. He did not care what the stakes of the battle was, nor for his personal well-being, he simply ensured everything was squared away to perfection. Every blade, every bolt, was accounted for and had its own place in the fight to come, as it always had with Dorimnur as Yemekar’s Pick. Each dwarven soldier adorned with the crafts of the dwarven blacksmiths, made with tightly kept guild techniques and innovations pioneered by the ambitious dwarf leading them all. Dorimnur trusted in his steel to meet his goals, but it was up to the fate of that day to test whether dwarven steel was enough. And with Dorimnur’s helm of responsibility donned upon his thick head of jet-black hair, he too joined the Dwarven Legion, to test what his hands had wrought first hand against the fires of hell.
They rallied at the gates of Al’Faiz, and organized themselves into crews like a well oiled machine. The center sigil above the Korvassa melded into a single horrific mass above the camp ahead of them, the continent shuddering from the force of both descendant and Inferi forces. The night sky was filled with anomalies, blue tendrils merging with an abyss above as creation itself mourned for the desecration that was to come.
Then they marched.
As the dwarves' footfalls reached the damned landscape, the atmosphere was palpable. Corpses strewn around them, gore and viscera littered as far as one could see, even filling the bay. But the dwarves marched on, unfearing of even death itself as they made their presence known.
Dorimnur went through the motions, carrying a siege ladder, each rung a nearly mature cut of heartoak to support the mass of steel-clad soldiers. They march deep into the battlefield before laying it down to bridge across a crevice filled with corpses and bubbling magma like an infernal alchemy. His fellow dwarves were upon it the instant his ladder was laid, as was their enemy: The Infernal Horde. Mangled bodies of unholy origin with the only similarity to the descendants being their humanoid shape and the common ground they stood upon, they fought to repel the dwarven tidal wave that came crashing on their doorstep. Dorimnur was at the front of this wave, immediately taking up his tower shield once his ladder was lain, and stood vigilant against an onslaught of blows, but not without a sharpshooter of an Inferi to pierce the mail of his right shoulder, sinking deep within his muscular frame. Adrenaline flowed through his body now, his attention garnering as he realized his steel would need to be accompanied with an equally strong focus to the task at hand. He permitted himself to be treated by the dwarven medic, but bore the treatment little as he was eager to get back into the fray with his kindling passion rising within him.
Their foes fell in droves as they were routed underneath the dark sky, the screams of the Inferi beyond echoing throughout the black plains with wardrum accompaniment and lightning melody. The dwarves pressed on undeterred by their losses, fast feet falling upon the gore of the wasteland without remorse. A few suicidal Inferi tried their luck and took potshots at the dwarves behind hills as they passed, but the Worker’s Guild’s steel ensured each and every one of the bolts found no entrance to the dwarven bulwark. The roar of dwarves crying out in the night for blood as they marched to their bagpipes incited fear in the hearts of their adversaries, dwarves singing in unison glorious tunes of those brave men who came before. They were unbreakable, incorruptible, unyielding.
The dwarves' perseverance was rewarded by heavenly assistance, as the skies ripped asunder, heavenly intervention for the honorable in the form of Gazardiael, Aengul of New Beginnings. Dorimnur knew not of who or even what this figure was, but blessed with his favor, Dorimnur didn’t need too. The entire dwarven host’s gear was bathed in a holy light, fallen from above in a golden rain. Dorimnur’s sight was now set on indescribable glory without end; his steel would not fail him in this battle. He marched on with the dwarves as they all were bristling with newfound vigor, pressing on to the foreboding encampment, and whatever foul torment was housed within.
Dorimnur was at the front of the shield wall, pushing back the Inferi forces with his imposing tower shield, and skewering grunts as the spearhead of dwarves marched on. Each dwarf with their shields raised high, standing shoulder to shoulder with their brothers and sisters. Each giving their all, and more. The legion of dwarves laying waste to well over twice their weight in Inferi, the divine glow of their weapons and armor striking fear in the foul hearts of the hellspawn, each going up in a wind of golden dust. The dwarves were ever unyielding. And Dorimnur began to savor every passing moment. Tempered by the fires of hell, his steel resolve remained steadfast, and he would die before he faltered in his cause.
The dwarven legions marched upon the ungodly ballista encampment, pillars of fire along it’s walls and in the trenches, bathed in a blood-red light and a fire with no warmth. Another ladder was called for, and the war machine of Urguan answered swiftly. A great lob of malflame was hurled at them, but the dwarves bated it not as the unholy flames crashed harmlessly over their steel. Dorimnur took immense pride in this feat, and marched on with increasing vigor. Screaming demon officers attempted to rally their forces in the center of the encampment, preparing for a final stand, as both flanks thus far had fallen. As they charged within the entrance provided by Gazardiael by manipulation of the Inferi weapons, the dwarves overtook the encampment, with tactical commands shouted over the din of battle from the dwarven officers and Grand Marshall as they commandeered the great weapon for themselves. With a plethora of stout dwed all cranking the chain to ready such a devastating weapon, the oversized bolt was sent to the main camp’s exterior, a sickening crash echoing across the Korvassa as splinters fly, towers collapsing within and creating an entrance for the flood of dwarves to pour through like an unstoppable tide. Dwarven Valor was as integral to their power as was their steel, for each fallen dwed was replaced with another, every replacement to the line empowered by the sound of dwarven warchants and eager to lay down his life for those who had done so before to ensure their continued future. Dorimnur found himself planted on the bridge between the main camp and the ballista platform, and ensured no cursed neverborn was granted passage.
Each step Dorimnur planted on that field fostered more passion, and with each spear thrust he became more enthralled in the battle of ideals, in the song of war, of steel against steel. First it was just the simple eagerness to fight, but as each combatant flew at each other with ravenous fury, each fighting for their own cause, Dorimnur fully invested himself into the fight, roaring in the face of hell as he skewered Inferi after Inferi. Each tested themselves against Dorimnur and his steel in a deadly dance, seeing if both his physical and mental steel was enough to continue his existence more than his assailant, but each and every one failed at the cost of their life. He let the hard exterior of his usual persona go and embraced the fury of emotions that came to him in the gruesome fight, emotions he had not felt for decades. It made him feel alive.
In the battle of steel and tongue, many dwarves nobly declared their intent to strike clean the ledger, righting the wrongs of the past with their own hammers. Dorimnur? He fought because he could. Not for King and country, but for self-agency, and he found that fulfilment on the battlefield. Dorimnur felt truly alive on that battlefield. It forced a new train of thought to enter his one-track mind, one to replace his brooding thoughts that always hung as a dark cloud over him. The stakes at hand, the fate of the world, were almost therapeutic for him, opening up a box of emotions he had kept bottled ever since arriving in Urguan half a century ago. And as gods and demons collided overhead, clashing in a symphony of violence and blood, Dorimnur felt emotions of passion, of selflessness, of honor, but most of all, brotherhoodliness.
The Dwarves made it to the interior of the main camp, but not without a final fight before them. The remnant Inferi forces had regrouped, and gained some morale back as they pelted the dwarves’ worn shields with javelins and arrows, managing to push them back into disorganization. But with a quick sounding of the bagpipes and the barking of orders from the Legion Command, the dwarves did not falter, reinforcing their vanguard with more men and pushing the final wave of hellspawn back. Dorimnur slammed his thick tower shield into an Inferi troop, throwing it off balance while Dorimnur planted his foot, sending a piercing blow through the foul carapace, it disintegrating in golden ash.
The dwarves had made it to their goal, battered, bloodied, and bruised, but unbroken. Their king had been taken off by the hand of the Aengul of Courage, but the dwarves carried on by the command of their officers. They heeded the words of the Aenguls above, and did what dwarves do best: hunker down. Tearing the encampment and utilizing it’s goods for their own gain, they fortified their position in a breakneck pace of a few hours, digging trenches and erecting barriers from torn palisades which they positioned comandeered cannons over to prepare for whatever came next, with the light of a white pillar illuminating the dark night from the unknown object in the middle of the camp. And in this time of waiting, as greater beings far from his understanding wielded the power of creation, and glimpses of the past and future flashed across the sky, Dorimnur allowed his mind, freely for the first time since he could remember, to wander.
He looks back to all the good his Guild had done.
Dorimnur almost lost faith in his goal. Not that he had much faith to begin with. He figured no one could ever come close to THEM. Even his faithful Workers could never reach the expectations he had for them. He was always pushing them too hard, or so he was told, seldom appraising them for good work. He had a reason for this, beyond the veiled answer he gave of “it’s forging them into a better person.” They answered with what they could, however, and from the fruits of his harsh labor sprouted innumerable creations, including the Daemonsteel ballista bolts which were chilled and weaponized against the Inferi during the Siege of Vitenna. One bolt was even sent in a freezing arc to sever the leg of a demonic mammoth, sending it tumbling to the ground in a single blow, which Dorimnur was fond of telling to others.
He dwelled on all the things his leadership has wrought, all of the battles his men had worked long hours to prepare for. Without his driving hand forcing them to go, his men were willingly at every battle against the Inferi, and had even conducted espionage on their Doghouse encampment. They had built entire forts for the war, their stonemasonry carving the southern gate with their own hands to fortify their lands.
He thought of the times long past, of him joining the Worker’s Guild as a simple miner, as he was always one for self-betterment. He mentally reenacts the Passing of the Pick ceremony which led to his current position. And of all the hard, grueling nights no one but himself subjected himself too.
Dorimnur feeds his cannon with the worm, him and his two other cannoneers, all the while thinking of how his Guild had invented such creations of war for the dwarves. The Guild had reinvented the cannons of yore, with their own twist, which brought a new age to dwedmar firepower, blessing all their future conflicts with resounding success from unparalleled Dwarven marksmanship. Each step of their invention came from the Guild, from concept from some miners, to drafting with the Siege Master, to production and testing at the Grimgold firing range.The Guild had serviced Kings and Queens alike, producing wares the likes of no other seen in the land, and of rare and valuable materials. But this was not enough for Dorimnur, nor was it truely what he wanted. The war effort itself was simply the best distraction to the matters which lay at Dorimnur’s heart.
He remembers the immense effort that went into getting things working for The Worker’s Guild, scouting for resource deposits, many failed inventions of protection in dangerous environments, and even going as far as defying his Clan Father’s orders at the time to ensure the Guild was unhindered to grow. Oh how the times have changed he thought, as now he stood as Clan Father.
His recollection was derailed by the drone of the Hive, sounding closer than they were due to their sheer numbers, drew close. And as the bugs assailed his position, the dwarves, always a prepared folk, fired their cannons in line, their iron shot flying through the night sky splattering husks against their iron. But it was not enough, each bug slain replaced with two more as the swarm enveloped the camp. As he combatted both direct attacks and acid spray, Dorimnur’s thoughts were on those who had stuck with him to this day. Elves, humans, and orcs had all tried their hand in learning the ways of dwarven work, but all had failed to uphold Dorimnur’s impossible standards, and only dwarves remained. There as he stood amongst his fellow dwed, defending whatever laid behind them, the smell of sulfur and demonic bug viscera abundant, a slight glimmer of optimism began to crawl its way through Dorimnur’s mind.
As the descendants and Inferi pushed against one another, Dorimnur pushed hard enough that the light broke through the clouds and the world beyond the war glimmered.
The war is the world and the world is the war. But behind each helmet was a descendant. They were jaded, they were naive. They were honorable, and they were criminals. They were bound for legend, and they were lost to history. As he traded his spear for smashing bugs with his tower shield, this realization resonated deep within his inner being. He quickly set down his green-stained shield and lit the fuse for his final cannonshot, plugging his ears while he looked over to the rest of the warring dwarves. His gaze landed on his greatest success in the Guild, Kragdin Starbreaker, as he was knocked to the ground by an insect. Kragdin quickly rebounds with a swift strike through the bug, clipping through its abdomen to its wings and flinging the twitching corpse on the ground. He then blasts another creature with his crossbow, and draws a damascus black ferrum sword with both hands, challenging all who would try their fate against his. Whether it was the noble thoughts pressed to his mind by the Divines, the raw emotions he was feeling from the heat of battle, or brotherhood that is forged in those who go through the hardest times, Dorimnur knew not. Was it pride? He was unfamiliar with the emotion, as he had neither had someone proud of him nor was he proud of anyone else for over a century. As much as he bore alone, subtly Dorimnur was depending on his fellow dwarves.
But, a single idea, in the shape of a thought came to his mind.
Maybe all this work wasn't for naught.
But, in the blink of an eye, off of the ramparts flew a wretched insect, and flew at the dwarf deep in self-revelation. Despite Dorimnur’s ability to guard himself from multiple direct attacks thus far, without Dorimnur’s utter concentration at hand, this bug was able to slip past his guard and latch its mandibles on his arm, to which Dorimnur then jerked his arm back, ripping the mandibles down his forearm before it latched onto his wrist. The Hive-born dug its sharp mandibles close around his wrist, cutting through plate, tendon, and then finally bone as Dorimnur pulled away desperately, his shredded hand going with the bug. His fellow Cannoneer Falk Irongut was able to slash the swift creature out of the air, but the damage had been done.
Dorimnur groaned in pain, falling to his knees and cusping his arm in his lap as he keeled in anguish, the crimson blood flowing from his shredded stump. And as he kneeled, acid washing over his plate armor in a searing rain and a sapphire comet flew overhead with a silver trail into the shores of Arcas, the entire world trembled as the Aengul of New Beginnings finished his incantation. Dorimnur mentally receded into himself as he did physically, and as he pressed his stump into himself to stop the torrent of blood, a single thought throbed in his head just as hard as the blood pulsing through him.
I was wrong.
He sat there for what felt like eternity, blows bouncing off of his plate armor and waves of acid pouring to his side, leaving permanent etchings into his steel exterior. Sweat poured from his helmet onto the soggy ground below him mixed with descendant and Inferi blood, and with his own hand and bone adding to the viscera. The Clanmother of the Grimgolds came rushing to his aid, and he rised as any stout dwarf would. He gave her a jesting remark about having had worse on his eye, but his attention was drawn to the lightshow beyond them. He stared blankly to his left as the greater beings did untold deeds; of Aenguls shrieking of fear as a flaming form and stone spear glistening with golden ichor pierced a heavenly body while creation itself screamed. Gazardiael had been pierced through the chest, and molten gold flowed out of its cavity into the void below him of its own making, with a haunting cry emerging from its lips, audible to all things alive. And swiftly would Gazardiael’s life be ended, by the swinging of the Dwarven monarch, the spear sent by Krugmar’s Rex, and the holy blades of Malchediael.
The blow sent Dorimnur tipping over, and he ended flat on his back, coughing blood up from the impact and the pain from his stump. He was jostled around as both the sky and land rattled, together in a lightshow of colors and power. The very continent splits in cataclysmic fashion, and the descendants swiftly make their leave, having done what they came to do: Ensure their own fate.
After the silent trodding back across the scarred continent, the sounds of crying could still be heard throughout the god-forsaken land. But this time, of descendants. Even their monumental victory and the nature of events they had experienced was not enough to remove their minds off of the blood they had shed and the people they had lost. Many men worthy of life found themselves dead upon that day. Men of great promises, to their children, to their wives, to their kingdom. Men of great honor and courage in the face of no greater foe almost all of them have never fathomed. Some of them Dwarves, but all of them descendants. No matter the circumstances each found themselves on that cursed ground, each had a reason for being there. But reason alone was not strong enough for some to keep their lives. Brothers in arms who had grown up together in training found themselves missing parts of themselves, corpses of their superiors, their brothers in arms, their sons, all strewn on the very ground they walked on. The stench of death reeked, and the smell of burning flesh assailed their senses as they trod home past the crevices full of magma, and bodies.
And so, Dorimnur ended his day as he started it. He stumbled into Kal’Mugdor, his entire body aching from the miles he had walked, the blows he had taken, the sights he had seen. He sat alone in his tavern, in the Guild of so many dwarves that called him Leader and undoubtedly looked up to him. He locked the door behind him and sat with a heavy sigh, never being foolish enough to let himself be seen with weakness. And there he sat, motionless for a bit, in absence of thought, shell-shocked. His vulnerable state allowed his mind to drift once again, and it landed on the sight of Kragdin Starbreaker fending for himself in the prior fight. Dorimnur settles on the emotion he felt during his audience of Kragdin’s feats, the slight emotion of pride, or so he believed to be the identity of this foreign emotion. A feeling he hadn’t felt in a long, long time. Not since… All he could think of in that tavern beyond this was the chilling, gut-wrenching fact that all of this bloodshed wouldn’t bring them back. He threw the thought out of his mind, along with throwing back his ale. Dwelling on the past had never profited him anything, plus it was what lost him his hand. Besides, everything he had been working towards the last four decades had reached a culmination, and one that ended in a victory. So, with a long line of ales to finish and a kicking of his feet, he reclined, and offered himself rest, true rest, for the first time since this entire war started.
For even he would say he had earned it after decades of unrelenting work.
All it took was the near rebirth of the universe and the closing of the gates of hell.
But, it was a start.