Written by Dave 'Kronin' McClumpha and used without any permission at all :-)
Gurhin, King of the Grey Peak dwarf realm, waved his visitor to a chair. “Greetings Kronin, you have news for me, Eh” Although Kronin and his band were frequent visitors it was rare for Kronin to seek out the King. Usually he collected his Troll bounty from the steward, did some minor business and went on his way.
“Aye Gurhin, news and none of it good”. Few called the King by his given name without any honourific. For Kronin this was a meeting of equals, he was chieftain of his band and Gurhin was chieftain of Grey Peak. The matter of size was not relevant. “We were hunting down South, they were having problems with hill trolls. We went to Ailech to collect the bounties and the city came under attack from an Undead army. This was 23 nights ago that we left, I expect the place has fallen by now.”
“My steward tells me you were in a raid there, what happened?”
“Boys work! The prince there asked us to join some men & elves in a night raid on the siege engines. We did the job with hardly a scratch on us. Once Throrin got into their earthworks it was all over”
“What about your allies?” asked the King.
“Ach, the manlings were brave enough, some even got into the trench with us after our healer patched them up. The rest tried to stand against cavalry, they died well.”
“And the elves?” prompted the King.
“Huh, elves are fine enough with a bow and some can use a sword neatly but they dance about in the open and go nowhere. Their lord was far too noble to duck when a catapult shot came his way, last we saw of him he was flying into the river.”
Other listeners may have felt that Kronin was bragging but Gurhin knew better. The Wild Kin were aggressive & proud but their word was Iron-true. If they told the steward they had killed 17 trolls then they were paid for 17 trolls. It had been generations since any dwarf had asked for proof.
“So you saved the city?”
“We did what we were bid to do, but the city was doomed anyway. As we returned to the ropes we used to come out some foul magic blasted their greatest tower apart. The few elves left returned to their kin inside. The manlings came with us for a while then turned away for their homes.”
“What do you plan to do Gurhin?” asked the Wild Kin chief. “If you stay here to wait they will come to you one night.”
“My mind is clear, we must send aid to the South while we prepare here. What about your folk, will you go South again with us,or join us here?”
“No offence Gurhin,but manning a rampart or standing in a line waiting for an attack isn't our style. Besides, the seasons roll on and it's time to hunt Ice Trolls. Just because the Undead are rising doesn't mean the trolls can wait.”
“True, well do you have all you need and has the steward paid the bounties?”
“All done and sworn, I just need to root out our healer, no doubt he's trading herbs and potions with the Lady Gudrun, she seems to like him.” Kronin stood up, “Farewell till our paths cross again Gurhin.”
With that Kronin left the chamber leaving the King to plan for war while he tried to rid his mind of the idea of Gudrun liking anyone.