We found vermin in those hills and not the kind that you might keep as a pet. These were big bastards, walking on two legs! They gave us a right hiding that day… Yeah, ill tell you the tale. But it’ll cost you another ale and a few more by the time I’m finished.
We had been mining the tin in the hills. Sending it up the river to Vanez. The vermin problem had been there from the start y’see. But the Clan had invested too much to back out of the operation. To begin with we suppressed them. But they got bolder. Eventually we faced a whole army of the things. Where they came from, I don’t know. I was a ranger. Scouted them hills every day and didn’t see head nor tail of them! My guess is that they live in burrows in the hills. Sometimes they would collapse our mines and make off with a few of our number. Small attacks. Nothing major. These losses were acceptable to the Clan and their families compensated. Then the Seekers came. Two of them. Weird folks are Seekers. I guess they had heard about those Dwarves that were lost in the mines. Came to exact vengeance on the vermin as the Clan was intent to do nothing. That’s when the problems started.
The Seekers had been stirring up trouble. “Protecting the honor of the Clan and ensuring the Oath of Protection was upheld,” they said. Yes, one more ale. Where was I? The Seekers. They follow the old ways. The “Gods” they say. Wear amulets and not much else. Spend their time praying and pursuing oathbreakers. Ah yes, they were here to hunt the Vermin. Make sure the Clan’s honour was maintained. But they stuck their beards in and stirred up something vile under that moor. Korontav the locals called it, aye.
It was a dark night they came. Cloudy but no rain. I was about to head out with my band of Rangers when the alarm went up. We were out the gate and drawn up for battle in no time. We weren’t ready for them. We assumed it was just a rag-tag raiding party. Nothing organized. When we looked across the moor that night, I admit that I felt fear in my heart. They had come in force…
Yes, I know it’s my fourth. Do you want to hear this story or not? …Those Seekers speak of Gods but there was no Gods helping us that night, I tell you. I’ve never seen anything like it. From out of the sky came a fiery piece of mountain! How unnatural. Rock, falling from the sky. This was clearly the work of the vermin. It hit us square in our midst. One of the Seekers. Bravest Dwarf I ever met. He saw it coming. Stood right there. Sang a prayer to these “Old Gods” and took it. Right in the face. The rock was huge. Completely pulverised him along with all our artillery! Made a crater the size of this ale house! The other Seeker, you might know him as Duthar? Aye the same Duthar. Well he was smart enough to get out of the way. Maybe his faith in the “true Gods” was not as unwavering as the songs sing, eh? We were under fire from falling mountains and a deadly hail of gunshot and the battle had hardly been joined by the rest of the lads. I knew here that it would be a long night.
No, I haven’t had enough… stop interrupting me. I need a drink in my hand when I praise the dead! We gave ‘em hell back, let me tell you! Back in my day I was a crack shot. After a few volleys those gunners fled with their tales between their legs. We were too much for them. Shame about the rest of the clan. Those boys were dropping and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
Aye lad, I Saw him. Saw it when Duthar died. It was glorious. These Seekers, they eschew armour you see. Think it dishonours the old ways or something. It’s all superstition. Yes, I know the ballad. I was there. Well if he wore armour, he might have survived, ay? Anyway. Duthar gave the beast a mortal blow, right in the side of the neck. His axe was buried deep in the monstrosity. How big you say? As big as this table. Ive never seen a rat so big. And one of their leaders was riding it like a horse. Madness. Anyway, his axe got stuck, and well, the monstrous rat took chomped right down on his shoulder, its teeth sinking into his stomach and lower back. An equally mortal blow. Right away the colour washed from his face. He knew he was done. With a roar, Duthar ripped out his axe. All this blood and pus followed. Acid it was. Burned all his arm and face. That’s why they call him the Bloody-Handed. With his death blow, Duthar smote the beast a final strike right back into the wound he had made. Almost took the things head clean of, it did. As I said, those Seekers are a brave bunch. The beast came down on top of him, rider and all. Was a sad day. We lost a lot good Dwarves that day. Here’s to them! Duthar.
I didn’t see the last stand of the Greybeards. Those old codgers. Stubborn to the last I bet. Here’s to them! I was well away by then. I’d lost most of my unit and the Hold Banner was in the dirt. And another! For my fallen comrades and the lost banner! Those damned Vermin. The Vengeance Seekers will be back to Korontav Moor. The ballad? Aye, the ballad. Get me another ale and you’ll hear it...