This is merely a silly story, and has nothing to do with anything that has ever happened or will ever happen inside the game. It's only written so that I may win the awesome prize of two hundred gold in the unofficial Mountaineer's story competition. Rated PG-13.
Chapter I. Luck, Your Silent Partner Edit
Towards the end of the year, during a thaw, at nine o’clock one morning, a dwarven scout approached the stronghold Dun Garok from the north. The morning was so damp and misty that it was only with great difficulty that the day succeeded in breaking; and it was impossible for the scout to distinguish anything more than a few yards away.
Suddenly the scout heard a strange noise, a gargle, and she turned around – an enormous, brownish spider had somehow managed to sneak up on her, and was preparing to launch a poisonous jet of acid at its prey. The scout stood still for a moment, then ducked and rushed away; she had a message to deliver, and fighting spiders was not part of her duty. The spider growled and followed the dwarven messenger southwards, and more ferocious arachnids joined his hunt.
The dwarf finally paused near a tree, thinking she was safe from the venomous menace; she was already weak from hunger and tired from running a long distance. A high-pitched noise alerted her, and she looked on, terrified, as huge spiders approached from out of the mist, surrounding her. There was at least a dozen.
With a small dagger, she started defending herself, trying to push the animals away, but more kept coming from every direction. The scout suddenly felt a sticky web pull her to the ground, choking her slowly, while the numerous spiders all tried to get closer in order to feed. With her one free hand, the dwarf reached for her dagger, but it was too late; she felt a powerful sting in one of her legs, and then everything got hazy.
“This is it”, she thought, “Never mind the message, the duty… what about my life? I’ve just started working my way up… this was my first important mission, my ticket to recognition and greatness. Now, I’ll be nothing but the emaciated remains for some poor soldier to find… and what of Tiny Tim?”
Then she passed out from the pain.
Not five seconds after that, the spiders started to withdraw, as a deafening roar echoed upon the wind. The fog slowly lifted, and the fuzzy animals escaped in fear, as the sound of metal striking metal grew louder and came closer. A huge siege machine, a tonk, rolled up next to the unconscious scout through a thick wall of black smoke and shut its engines off.
A hatch opened near the cannon mounted on the siege engine, and a gnome and a dwarf jumped out; they were both wearing the raiment of the Hillsbrad mountaineers, and green goggles.
The dwarf removed his goggles and corrected his cowl, before shouting, “Gah-damnit, Jibby, there’s nothin’ ‘ere, we might jes’ go back ‘afore sumon’ spots a missin’ tonk!”.
- Oh, learn t’ speak, Booray, said the gnome and started searching the area.
- It’s Buri, Light-damn yeh! B-u-r-i, it’s no’ hard, yeh wee bag o’ pigvomit, sprayed the dwarf.
While the gnome inspected the nearby trees, Buri stared at the siege engine; the sides of it were covered in mud, there were holes and ripples in the light armour covering the caterpillar tracks. Buri walked up to one of the dents in the armour and tried kicking it – an exhaust pipe broke off and landed on his head, spewing gas all over the place. Buri mumbled something about insurance and yelled at the gnome to hurry up.
“I was right, Booray! There’s someone ‘ere!” shouted the gnome and waved his hands around.
As the air around them cleared up a little, Buri walked over to the gnome and looked down upon the female dwarf covered in spider’s web. The gnome pulled a small odd-looking, mechanical object from his pocket and placed it on the unconscious dwarf’s forehead; after a few seconds it started beeping and flashing.
- Well, the good news is she’s alive, exclaimed the gnome and cheered.
- Crap. Ah, well. Let’s bonk ‘er over th’ head real ‘ard an’ giver ‘er t’ th’ fish-people. She could’ve seen us steal th’ tonk, said Buri.
- You mimsy idiot, said the gnome, “… we have t’ get her t’ safety in th’ stronghold. Besides… can’t you see she’s one o’ us?”
Buri stared at the female dwarf, recognizing the armour; he wiped some webbing off her arm and checked for insignias.
“She’s no officer, migh’ as well leave ‘er ‘ere. She won’t mind”, said Buri and walked towards the siege engine.
The gnome sighed and started cutting the webs away from the female dwarf. With great trouble, he managed to drag her all the way to the tonk and forced her down the hatch.
- Hey! Wha’ did yeh do tha’ fer, Buri shouted from inside the machine, “I’m tryin’ t’ get this thing started!”
The gnome squeezed himself into the tonk and slapped Buri, before taking control of the siege engine and steering it back to Dun Garok. With grace, he managed to park it some distance away from the base, with the most damaged side facing Thoradin’s wall.
- In case anyon’ ever finds out… this was all yer idea, said Buri and glared at the gnome. The gnome sighed and dragged the unconscious female dwarf to the great gates of Dun Garok, where she was taken inside by two guards. While the gates were open, Buri managed to sneak inside, knowing very well that he was supposed to guard outside.
After reassuring himself that the gnome wasn’t around, Buri headed towards the tavern area, carefully avoiding patrols on his way. The tavern was mostly empty; there was only the bartender and two mountaineers in a corner that Buri did not recognize.
Buri sat down by the counter and removed his hood; after some fiddling with his belt, he also managed to remove his axe and put it down on the floor.
The bartender was Nusslich Silverhammer, a kind dwarf, and not so much Buri’s friend as Buri’s sympathizer. For as long as Buri had served in the base, he had managed to sneak off-duty at least once a day to visit the tavern – not because he enjoyed the food or company, but because he despised the guarding-duty.
Nusslich eyed Buri up and down, and said, “So, Grimwold, yer all sooty and blackish… have yeh been cleanin’ th’ tonks? I heard frem a rifleman tha’ one o’ those took off this mornin’. Any idea wher’ it might’ve been headed?”
Buri grunted, “Tah’ yer mum’s house, yeh galoot – I’ve go’ no idea… stop botherin’ me with questions n’ give me piece o’ cheese. An’ sum’ bread t’ go with th’ cheese, n’ sum’ butter to go with th’ bread, n’ sum’ drinks t’ go with ev’rythin’ else.”
- Yah shouldn’t drink on duty, Grimwold, said the bartender and grinned.
- Light-damnit, grumbled Buri, “… I’ll drink whenevah’ I want, yeh crispy noodle. I’mma so tired o’ this, no-one’s tellin’ me when t’ drink!
- Th’ superiors won’ be happy, Grimwold, said the bartender and smiled.
“Well, th’ superiors can kiss mah hairy ar…”
Buri’s sentence was cut in half as Eitri Flareaxe, a captain in Buri’s brigade, sat down by his side and stared at him. Buri started to stutter and managed to say, “Kiss mah… kiss mah hairy, aromatic… dog?”
Eitri sighed and ordered himself a pint of cherry grog, before stroking his long, greyish beard and glaring angrily at Buri.
“Buri…” he said, slowly raising his voice as he spoke - “I am no’ an evil person. Bu’ seriously, ‘ave yeh any idea wha’ I’ll do to yeh if I fin’ yeh doin’ things yeh shouldnae be doin’ at the wrong time, inne’ wrong place, one more time?"
Buri squeezed out a faint answer, but before he could get to the part about someone else being responsible, Eitri grabbed him by the beard and muttered angrily, three inches from his face;
“Yer useless, Grimwold – yeh’ve always been useless, yeh’ll always be useless. Bu’ it’s yer JOB to be useful, so th’ least yeh can do is TRY, yeh knuckleheaded chicken-humper! Now, th’ whole base is on alert after sum’ undeads were spotted inne’ area, an’ we jes’ got one injured to th’ trauma centre. Yeh get down ther’ an’ help out, tha’s an order!”
As Buri saluted, grabbed his cowl and rushed off, Eitri leaned on the counter, muttering; “That’ll keep ‘im busy fer an hour or two.”
The trauma centre was located in one of the lower wings of Dun Garok – injured and sick mountaineers and soldiers of the Alliance were brought there for healing and recovery. Currently, only three beds were occupied. The dwarven scout rested in one, a mountaineer whose foot got run over by a tonk rested in the other, and in the third rested the medic, mountaineer second Fuleth Morgenstern – famous for his laziness and general incompetence.
Buri sat down by the female scout, and inspected her. They had managed to remove most of the webbing, and she had a bandage around her leg; she was still dressed up in the mountaineer second uniform, but without a hood or gloves.
With an annoyed grunt, Buri eyed the sleeping medic, and then turned his attention to the great amount of strange vials and potions stored on shelves all over the room. Buri enjoyed switching labels on the vials whenever he got the time, just to confuse and irritate people. The only time he got in trouble for doing that, was the time when captain Sorn from the second brigade found out that Buri was to blame for the nearly lethal amount of gyrocopter fuel he just consumed, thinking it was apple juice.
Suddenly, the female dwarf blinked, and muttered something vague about ghouls and spiders. Buri stared at her, before waking up the medic by slapping him across the face.
Fuleth cursed and spat on the floor, then started tending to the scout, who kept on grumbling about messages and undead. As he corrected her bandage, a note fell out of her pocket – Buri grabbed it and sat down in a corner to read.
The note was covered in hastily scribbled dwarven runes, spelling out:
The necromancers received the materials sooner than we thought, and they are already assembling the first “doomsday-device”. If we are to stop them, we must strike now! I have spotted three large groups of ghouls; they are heading towards Dun Garok – so am I.
Buri gasped; doomsday device? Something had to be done, someone had to be told!