“King Otto Battleblade you must listen to me!” implored General Hammer MacOrcbane.
The two stout figures sat across from each other in the Great Drinking Hall, a grand table between spread with maps of the Twin Peaks Pass. Scouts had reported that The White Fang goblin clan had been sighted gathering forces in the pass.
“We must close the Mountain Gates and defend whom of our people have managed to reach safety,” the General continued to argue.
“But what of the pony farmers here and here, further south of the pass?” the King argued back.
“They have had ample time! They have ignored your order to abandon their homesteads!” spat Hammer through his grizzly beard.
“Nay!” Otto spat back. “We have still not heard from Runfield.”
Anthoni Runfield was nephew to the King and also currently the greatest scout in the Dwarven Kingdom of Glimmer Mine.
“With all respect that your position is due, King Battleblade I suggest perhaps it is family that you wish to preserve more so than your people,” growled MacOrcbane, catching the King’s eye and not wavering one moment.
The gold flecks in Battleblade’s beard glimmered as he broke eye contact with his General.
“You dare, Hammer and yet I cannot clash axe and mace with you… I know not if my heart or my head be to blame…” muttered the King.
As the younger turned back to face the militant the royal attempted to explain.
“True, I worry for my nephew and that is where my heart will not allow me to make the order to bar him from safety…”
“Aye! Such an order would be tough to make but we are a tough race,” argued Hammer.
“My head however refuses to overrule my heart as I am still unsure the message has been delivered and we have given those southerners enough time to choose,” the King stated as he continued his explanation.
“I fear then that your head and your heart both have doomed us all,” grumbled the General.
“But see here…” suggested Otto, his stubby forefinger lined with gem encrusted rings pointed to a narrowing passageway a ten mile from where the gates to Glimmer Mine gained entrance to Wind’s Wisp Mountain. “A small force of Bombaniers and Ragers could hold off the nasty gobbos before they reach our gates giving me time to send word south to get me the answer I need.”
“Your Greatness,” implored the General again. “We have no time!”
Otto’s golden goblet was flung toward the flames of the hearth in anger.
“Hammer I cannot believe that to be true,” he growled before storming from the Great Drinking Hall.
Those soldiers who had just arrived at the Great Drinking Hall stepped aside as the ruler marched by. They looked to the General who offered up to each a horn of ale.
“Lads, we must ready ourselves for a dirty war… I fear it is too late already to keep out the White Fang from our home,” muttered the General sadly.
“What would you have us do, General?” asked each loyal soldier one by one.
“Naught but what you already know, lads,” replied General MacOrcbane as his full goblet of ale was quaffed. “Naught but what is in your heart and mind both… Now drink up, for it may be our last…”
“Sire, welcome!” announced Alphred Ghostborn, cleric, healer and King’s Adviser.
With ale in his blood and much upon his mind Otto had left Hammer in search of other advice.
“What say you old friend?” begged the King of his cleric. “Do I threaten the many for the sake of a few?”
“You do what you believe is right as we all do,” replied the Cleric. “For you however, my liege, your decisions affect the entire mountain.”
Otto sighed and covered his face and beard with his meaty fists.
“My friend and my King… Drink this that your mind shall be clear and your thoughts the right ones,” suggested Ghostborn. The cleric’s cloth garment swished as he hurried barefooted to bring the wooden vial he held to the royal’s lips.
With trust and no further thought Otto consumed the offered liquid.
“That it could indeed be true,” the King wished. “That a… Draught… Could…”
Alphred caught the bulk of King Battleblade as the royal slumped to the left. The sleeping potion he had concocted earlier in the day had been given time to grow in potency.
“This is for the best, I swear… The best for me and for the church anyway…” muttered Cleric Ghostborn as he dragged the slumbering royal to a corner of his room and piled blankets atop. “So sorry Otto but the headache you wake up with will be nothing compared to the mess your kingdom will be in…”
Alphred left his chamber and bolted the entrance. He could not risk having Otto discovered before the White Fang arrived.
“The King is missing!” announced Cleric Ghostborn an hour later, bursting into the Great Drinking Hall.
“How is this possible?” questioned Hammer, still there with his men. “I saw him recently, not more than an hour or so ago…”
“Indeed!” accused Alphred. “Many have vowed that King Battleblade was last sighted in your presence.”
“Many here will attest that Otto left my presence and sought another’s council,” rebuked the General.
“Me? You accuse me?” scoffed the Cleric. “Upon what proof do you accuse?”
Hammer hesitated, unsure. He had never liked Ghostborn but he was unsure if it were gut instinct or a distrust of all things faith that made him wary of the holy man. The General preferred a weapon in his hand, not in his head. Quaffing another frothy goblet the leader of the army cursed behind his beard. With suspicion only and King unavailable the General had no choice but to storm out before he and his signature axe, his weapon of choice did something regretful.
With the mountain in disarray Alphred made his way through secret tunnels and mine shafts, seeking the icy surface and the sunlight above the clouds. Using his holy symbol the Cleric did what he thought right, caught the rays of light from above and reflected it toward where he hoped an army of goblinfolk lay in wait. It was time.
Anthoni Runfield watched on in disbelief as a strange wisp of light bounced over, under and then through a great mound of snow he had noted in his passing. The dwarf scout muffled a cry as like magic the light caused the mound to erupt and from within spewed thousands of white skinned, rattish beings.
“Gobbos…” cursed Runfield.
The monsters streamed up the passageway and spread like a plague across the mountain face. Upward they ventured, seeking the strange source of light that beamed down from the clouds.
“I must reach the gates!” vowed Anthoni Runfield as he left his place of hiding and began a run.
Both his head and his heart told him though he would be too late.