Chapter one: A hero's welcome
The air grew heavy with the smell of gold, Gromlak could sense it. He had been inside the mineshafts of the forgotten hold of Grungda'ir, along with his three friends Tyroe Debrickashaw, Okonkwo, and his best friend Olrenshk Thunderling for weeks. The group had been hell-bent on finding the massive gold vein that Olrenshk had smelled since they had first entered the hold.
"How are we to split the gold?" Okonkwo said with a hearty laugh. His beard was covered with small patches of soot and the scent of oil and copper emanated from him. "Shall we do it by the pound or by singular effort?" The other dwarves laughed along with the husky Okonkwo. Gromlak swung his pickaxe with one last mighty swing and the stone crumbled beneath it like an unwanted expedition map. A cloud of dust arose after the pick met the rock, and Gromlak scratched his beard. He smiled to himself. Gromlak turned to the other three and held up his huge unclenched hand.
"What in the name of Ganigir is wrong with this wazzok?" Tyroe grumbled as he flicked his hand upwards at the air like he was swatting a fly. Olrenshk, being the second person in the single file line, grabbed Gromlak's hand once he noticed a shining fleck of gold in between the miner's stubby fingernails. The entire group was jumping with glee as they all saw what was in the crevice made by Gromlak's fine mining. The group entered the large gold encrusted cave through a hole made by Gromlak.
"By Vaskjor's golden tankard," Tyroe said. "May they never be empty?" Okonkwo laughed as the mage dwarf completed his sentence. "It seems that I might have to remove my robe so we can all pitch in with the mining. Because I do believe that it would take us in extra week if I were to sit about worrying over a good magical garment." The four laughed whole heartedly. After a few calculations, Tyroe nodded in approval with what he had just measured and worked out, and handed the paper to Gromlak, who was now obviously the small expedition's leader.
"By my grandfather's golden arse!" Gromlak cried. "Five hundred pounds of gold each?! You've done a splendid job ufdi, you've done well!" He laughed and patted Tyroe on the back as the other two dwarves joined in on the joyous occasion that would make the crew almost as rich as Daraza the Drake-slayer, whom accumulated four life times worth of gold and was even more rich than the royal merchant family of the trading city Bryn Azgal.
Tyroe brushed his beard while the others packed their storage bags and load-ponies with their estimated five hundred pounds of gold. Gromlak seemed to doubt that they would actually go and even the profits out. Olrenshk would just keep on saying 'these piles look to be the same height and me arms be thinking that they all weigh the same!' to Tyroe whenever the ufdi would pipe up about his share. Amongst the group, Tyroe was the only person who was raised by the high king's brother Drimlo Onyxheart and not be hunkered down with melee fighting because he excelled through the Mage University at Tirin Drago, the floating elven mage towers.
"My tankard will never go dry again!" Gromlak yelled with glee. The group was now loading their cart with the gold and loot they retrieved from the lost hold.
"When has your tankard ever gone dry, Gromlak?" Okonkwo bellowed with joy and slapped Gromlak on the back.
"Yours hasn't either Okonkwo, or else your shooting with that crossbow would be accurate!" Gromlak retorted and nudged Olrenshk who began laughing only to immediately stop when a distinct rustle that seemed to come from one of the nearby trees. There weren't many trees nearby them, but the ones that were closer to them were full of thick green leaves that weren't easy to see through. The group looked at each other and looked to what side the noise came from. Quiet whispering could be heard from one of the trees that were to the right of the compact dirt road.
"It seems that we have us a flimsy talking songbird from some elf land," Olrenshk said "some bandit that wants to play or an idiot goblin that got itself caught in a tree." Tyroe laughed and clapped his hands together.
"We could burn the tree down!" The mage said as he walked closer to the tree, leaving the safety of the small caravan.
"Yes, we could do that," Olrenshk mumbled "or we could break it down by tackling it!!" The stout blonde-haired dwarf rushed passed the cloaked mage and rammed into the tree. The trunk let out a sick cracking sound as it fell to the ground with Olrenshk on top of it.
"Yet another amazing feat for Olrenshk the Reckoner that will be written down in the Book of Deeds." Cried Okonkwo as he wrote down the exploit of strength in a large leather-bound book. The tree must have been at least six feet in diameter, and the stout little dwarf reckoner had knocked the tree down with a powerful tackle. Tyroe grimaced at the site of a tall slender body that poked out of the tree; the figure was unmoving and appeared to be unconscious.
"It seems that this bandit, if a bandit, is far…far away from home." Tyroe said as he dragged the tanned golden body of an elf out into the open and nearby the caravan. "He appears to have a broken arm, or his gauntlet his made out of that weird silver that those elf miners found way back when, you know, the silver that looks like bone and such." With a few grumbles of what seemed like approval, the dwarves hoisted the elf up into a sitting position while Tyroe ran what he called 'sands of awakening powder' under the would-be bandits' nose. Before the elf could even open his mouth to gasp for air, Okonkwo already had his mouth open for questioning.
"Who are you and what were you doing in a tree?" Okonkwo grumbled and pulled an ornate pipe out of his beard and began to supp on it while he waited for an answer.
"My name is Belvast Koraniir, son of the great elf explorer, Drakk Koraniir. And I have been sent to find the greatest dwarf heroes of the modern era and join them and learn their ways." The elf stuttered incoherently. The dwarves exchanged glances and began laughing at what they just heard. "W-what? Have I said something wrong?" Belvast chuckled quietly.
"A son of Old Drakk and one that takes kindly to dwarves that knocked a tree that was his hiding hole!!" Gromlak said. "By Ganigir and his bottomless tankard, can this expedition get any more splendid?!" The four dwarves laughed in unison as the other three pulled out their pipes and began to fill the air with sweet smelling smoke. "Well lad, it seems that you caught us on our way back to our hold to drop this mountain o' gold off. You can accompany us to there and we can see to it that that arm of yours is seen to." The elf looked confused and stared at Gromlak and the other three. Gromlak used his pipe and pointed to Belvast's wrist, where a silver colored bone protruded through the fine red leather of the new member's armor. Belvast looked up and fainted.
"It seems that the boy has something wrong with his pretty little bone sticking out of his body!" Olrenshk said as Tyroe and Okonkwo lifted the elf into the seat of the caravans' carriage. "I think Riser Darkwyrm could probably fix this poor lad."
"The half-crazed moon elf that lives with you three?" Tyroe questioned as he tried to recall when he had last seen the moderately insane elf. The last time Tyroe had seen Riser Darkwyrm was when the two had been studying astronomy when Gromlak had opened a new globe-like tower into the side of their hold's mountain. Tyroe could remember the elf mage's face now. He had the most capturing red eyes and a thick mane of jet black hair, along with two small horns protruding from his head that were always nicely shaped, which was odd for a mad moon elf. Riser always had a new style of facial hair every time Tyroe would come to visit him in the astronomer's tower. The last time he saw the elf, Riser kept saying 'My beard might be as long as Olrenshks if I let it grow out for the next eighty years or so!' Oh yes, that was Riser, always dreaming of some distant thing that didn't make sense. But the thing that kept Riser Darkwyrm from being exiled for madness was his genius ideas of architecture and war machines that always had something to do with the three moons aligning in the skies, or something like that that Tyroe couldn't recall.
"That's the one beardling!" Gromlak chuckled as they started to move again.
"The one that thinks he can make gold out of thin air!" Olrenshk bumbled in what seemed like a drunken voice that was only covered up and forgot about in the roar of the dwarves' laughter at the remark of more gold. The group trekked on for about two days until they reached the warm wheat fields of the dwarf kingdom of Karag Modan the home to Gromlak, Okonkwo, Olrenshk, and occasionally Tyroe. They were met well outside the gates by a large, portly dwarf clad in a bronze and mithril edged cloak. This dwarf was known by the name of Trugnar Bearbeer, who was the current guard captain of the kingdom. Belvast awoke with a cough and his eyes widened, both in horror and amazement. The young elf had never seen such a large gathering of dwarves in one place for just a greeting. He couldn't count them all out, but he had guessed he had seen up to at least one thousand dwarves, who knew the amount that actually lay behind the massive throng, not him…certainly not him.
Even though Belvast had a broken wrist, Tyroe bound it up so that they could enjoy the merrymaking of the greeting a while longer. Gromlak somewhat disapproved, but the kid lasted this long, he could wait another hour.
The hold of Karag Modan was massive; it was probably the biggest hold in all of Arengiir. The walls had gold-etched and gem encrusted carvings of past kings and legendary dwarf heroes. Four of them strangely resembled figures that looked like Olrenshk, Gromlak, Tyroe, and Okonkwo all standing next to the Dwarf gods Ganigir, Vaskjor and Taryniir. Belvast thought long and hard about what his father had told him. Maybe Drakk had not told Belvast of all of the four dwarves amazing exploits. He had heard of their four-man army stories and their fights against dragons and hordes of daemons, but he had never heard the stories of the group meeting actual gods. There was also a fifth figure in the carving along with the four recognizable dwarves…it was an elf…a moon elf?