I have decided, that after reading many new, vitalizing fantasy-genre books recently, I will seriously consider writing more into my old Tunnel Wars piece of work. For some reason, I seem to have Chapter 6 done....
Chapter 6: The Battle of Reldithuin
Sarin sprinted into the throne room, surprising Dain with his haste. He said that he had news about the other fortresses in the kingdom. He had beckoned the king to go with him to the war room, where a map of the kingdom was laid out so the generals in the military could strategize in times of war. He spoke with a vigor that Dain had not heard in a long time
"My King, we have excellent news coming in from the east. After Belrod fell, the attacking goblin army headed towards Amrio. It was a surprise attack, but the fortress held strong! Barakuzad has also withstood an assault from the goblins. It seems they're finally weakening, hopefully they're growing tired of this war as well!" Sarin said.
The news brought an intense wave of joy to Dain. Just as things seemed hopeless to the king, the news of these two victories gave great hope to the aging king. Amrio had long been a safe haven for the dwarves, serving as a sanctuary during times of great suffering and war. Its walls were an ingenuity that had long been forgotten by the dwarves; their forefathers discovered a way to forge stone with steel to create a material that proved to be impenetrable over the thousands of years that they have been used. Barakuzad was a stronghold for the House of the Anvil, the Brakandün Clan’s oldest house. In times of extreme need, Barakuzad would serve as a replacement capital for the kingdom, as was the case when Nogratar fell. Dain knew that the defenders in the fortress were some of the staunchest in the kingdom.
"This is great news! How are the armies there holding up?" Dain said.
"The fortresses hardly lost any troops. Both armies are over eighty percent."
"That's wonderful! We shall feast for their victories tonight!"
Just as he was beginning to celebrate, a young dwarf warrior sprinted into the war room, carrying a parchment in his hand. The dwarf seemed greatly winded, having run a great distance to get there. He hastily bowed, before catching his breath.
"My King, the sentries on the southern gate gave me this urgent message to deliver to you." the messenger said.
"Let me see that." Dain said. He took the parchment, and opened it up.
Enemy army has been spotted. Numbers are largely in the thousands. Marching right towards Reldithuin. They will be here before the next sunrise. No sign of stopping.
Dain showed Sarin the parchment. The black-bearded dwarf read it, and set it down on the map of the kingdom. The dwarf shook his head, and then scratched his chin in disbelief.
"We can't even have one day of peace, can we?" Sarin said, shaking his head.
"It would be too good to be true if we did." Dain said. He walked around the map, thinking. He knew Reldithuin was undermanned. Yes, the walls of the city were strong and tall, but he knew that with enough effort, the goblins could easily bring them down. He turned to Sarin. "Call the house leaders. Assemble the war council."
"Yes, my King." Sarin said. The dwarf hurried out of the war room, a somber look on his face.
Dain took a piece of parchment lying near the map and wrote a call for help on it.
Long have we fought in wars together, fighting for the survival of our people. Our forefathers made an alliance, an alliance to heed the call of another in a time of need. A time like that is upon my people. The goblins are less than a day away, and they’re marching towards the capitol fortress of my kingdom, Reldithuin. I am requesting you, my ally, to aid my kin in this time of desperate need.
I hope to see you on the battlefield. May the gods of my people bless you.
-Dain Goblin slayer, King of the Brakandün Clan
He handed the parchment to the messenger, who was still in the room. "Relay this message to our allies. Send it to the humans, the elves, anyone who is friendly with us. Make haste, and make sure you survive."
"Yes, my King." the messenger said, and sprinted out of the room.
Dain sat and waited for the house leaders to get to the war room. After Sarin left, the five other house leaders of the Brakandün Clan came into the war room. Grimbeorn, the oldest of the dwarven leaders, was the first to enter the war room. His beard was long and white, and he tucked his beard under his belt. His armor was adorned with etchings of a great bear, and he carried his war hammer, Goblinmasher, in his hand. He was the leader of the House of the Anvil, whose soldiers numbered 900 strong and wielded large war hammers. Haldor, leader of the House of the Stone, came next. He was a stout dwarf, shorter than the other ones, but his thick muscles proved him to be the strongest of the leaders. His armor was adorned with onyx gems, and his helmet had a crest along the top of it. He commanded 673 soldiers who used massive maces in battle. Thuron, leader of the House of the Mines, followed. A tall dwarf, nearly five feet tall, he towered over the leaders. His armor was steel and iron infused together. His armor was studded with spikes along the shoulder pauldrons, giving him a demonic appearance in battle. His 500 soldiers used large battle axes. Gorimbold, who led the House of the Golden Light, came next. The youngest of the leaders, his beard was still a fiery red. His armor was much lighter than the others, being a light silver-steel hauberk, light as a feather but harder than dragon scales. It was decorated with images of an eagle, making him fierce and swift when fighting. Longbows were the preferred weapons of his house, whose soldiers numbered 800. Firúm was the leader of the Legion of the Lost, whose soldiers were those who lost everything to the goblins. His armor was black steel and dark mithril. His helmet hid his entire face, hiding the large scar stretching across his face. He was a grim soldier, and seldom spoke. The Legion of the Lost, which had the most soldiers at its disposal with 1,500 ready to fight, used deadly war-scythes when they fought. And Dain led his house, the current ruling house of the Brakandün Clan: the House of Mithril, His soldiers fought with mithril falchions, thick, curved swords that combined the power of an axe with the speed of a sword. He had 300 soldiers from his house in Reldithuin.
“My friends, I have grave news that has fallen upon my ears. The goblins are marching towards our fortress, and they will be here before dawn. Our scouts have said that their army numbers in the tens of thousands. We need to defend our fortress.
There was a long silence after Dain spoke. All of the leaders were taking in the grim news. Grimbeorn, the oldest and most revered of the other house leaders, was the first to respond.
"Well, we’re not going to just sit around and let them come to us, are we? We need to ready the troops! The House of the Anvil will be ready to fight to the death to defend Reldithuin.”
“Good, we need all the troops we can muster. Assemble the soldiers of the fortress.” Dain said. He called for a messenger, who came running in moments later. He gave the messenger the orders to sound the drums of war and muster the army. The messenger ran out as quickly as he came. Dain turned to the five leaders standing around the map.
“Gorimbold, your troops will be stationed atop the wall near the gates. Your soldiers are the most adept at long range, and as such, your soldiers will use your longbows to hold the enemies at bay as long as you are able to. If the walls fall, the fortress falls.”
"The walls will hold strong, my King.” Gorimbold said.
“Firúm, the Legion of the Lost will defend the wall and the gate. The goblins will use siege weapons against the walls, and your soldiers must keep Gorimbold’s men alive. If the gates do fall, your men must hold them off long enough for more soldiers to aid you. Your soldiers must not fail.”
“The Legion is at your disposal, my King.” Firúm said.
"Grimbeorn, your house will protect the armory. It must not fall if we want to stand a chance in this fight."
"It will not fall, my lord." Grimbeorn replied.
"Haldor, your troops will fight where they're needed. Your house and my house will be used where other troops need help. We will be the reinforcements and allow the troops to rest if they need to." Dain turned to face the rest of the house leaders. "Now get to your defensive positions, and ready your men for battle. Good luck, and may the gods bless you."
The house leaders exited the war room, leaving Dain and Sarin alone to examine the map. The goblins would be at the city gates by morning; he could hear their war drums echoing throughout the caverns, miles away. He heard the loud dwarven war horns blaring throughout the fortress, signaling for the thousands of dwarven warriors to get ready for a battle. Dain walked over to Sarin.
"Do you trust your king, Sarin?" Dain asked.
"Sir, your people trust you with their lives. They will follow you to the end."
"To whatever end." Dain said. He walked out of the war room.
Dain headed to his private quarters, where his armor and weapons were. When he got there, he put on the adorned set of mithril armor. His body creaked as he twisted and turned into his hauberk. Dain groaned as a part of the armor pinched his skin. He noticed that the pinch had drawn blood from his arm.
‘I am already wounded, and the battle hasn’t even begun. This is a foreboding sign.’ Dain thought to himself. When he was done, he took his weapon, mithril battle axe he called Goblinsbane. He had named it in the early years of the war, when he slew nearly a hundred goblins with it during a ferocious assault on a goblin fortress. It was too large to sheath anywhere on his body, yet it had a slight groove on the top of the axe head that allowed it to serve as a walking stick. Dain finished gathering his armor, leaving his helmet hanging from his belt, and walked back to the war room.
He continued making preparations for the battle. He had Sarin order the dwarves of the city who were too weak to fight to make refuge to the keep. The keep had a path that led to the other fortresses. If they were to receive a queue, they would be able to flee Reldithuin and make for safety. The evacuation lasted a long while as all of the women and children and elders moved towards the keep. When those not fighting emptied the fortress, Dain made his way to the wall, where he would be overlooking the battle and fighting with his brethren.
The goblins had arrived. Their army was monstrous, larger than any goblin army he had seen before. They filled the cavern, and numbered well in the tens of thousands, easily outmatching the ten thousand troops Reldithuin had in its defense. Dain could see each individual goblin, with their yellow eyes and dark, tattered armor they wore. He could smell the tens of thousands of goblins; the smell of rotten fish penetrated the air. Dain watched as the army stopped within sprinting distance of the fortress walls. He could see the goblins gnashing their crooked, sharp teeth together in anticipation for the battle. All he heard was silence and the steady breathing of Gorimbold’s men standing next to him.
A loud horn blared throughout the caverns. A goblin horn. Immediately, the tens of thousands of goblins came charging at the fortress walls.
“Fire!” Gorimbold shouted. Hundreds of arrows flew off the walls as the first barrage of arrows hit the dwarves. Hundreds of goblins met their demise with the first arrows. The goblins instantly recovered though, with goblins quickly replacing those cut down.
“Fire at will!” Gorimbold shouted. The dwarves of the House of the Golden Light began firing arrows with a ferocity that Dain had scarcely seen before. Hundreds and thousands of goblins met their deaths from arrows.
The battle was raging, but the goblins had still not gained any ground. The mithril gates of the fortress were too strong for their goblin-powered battering rams. Yet, Dain saw out of the distance a disheartening image. A large, intimidating, object was rolling towards the city, being pulled by dozens of massive trolls. It was a battering hammer, designed to blast through gates with little to no effort. Dain had only heard of this one though. It was a fabled battering hammer, used only in the goblin’s most determined conquests. One of those was Nogratar, the fortress Dain’s father, Durin Mithrilbringer, had fallen. Gorimbold's men tried their best to shoot the trolls and the hammer, but it made its way to the gates. The trolls pulled the mighty hammer back using large ropes, and released. The hammer fell and slammed against the gates, sending a shockwave throughout the wall of the fortress. It reared back again, and Dain heard it break through the gates, knocking them back and leaving a gaping hole in its wake.
The goblins swarmed through the opening, meeting the staunch defenders who were the Legion of the Dead and the House of the Mines.
“Charge!” Firúm shouted. The leader of the Legion of the Dead charged headfirst into the attacking army. The dwarf was a demon on the battlefield; slicing goblin heads off with ruthlessness that made the goblins reluctant to face him. The rest of the Legion formed a phalanx behind their leader, and pushed the goblins back to the gates. The goblins were halted by the elite defenders of the Legion of the Dead. The Legion acted like the battle was a game; some of the soldiers were tallying how many kills they had achieved. Dain heard numbers as high as forty being shouted.
“Push them back! Give no quarter!” Firúm shouted. The Legion kept the defense of the gates steady. The Legion was an elite fighting force, yet the goblins were relentless. The Legion's numbers were dwindling, one dwarf at a time.
“Haldor! Get your men up there!” Dain shouted.
“Yes, my King!” Haldor said. He signaled for his troops with a boar horn, and led the soldiers from the House of the Stone into the fray. “Firúm, get your men out of there!”
“Argh! Fine! Men, pull back!” Firúm replied. The Legion pulled back, letting the House of the Stone take their place at the gate of the city. The Legion had lost only a dozen dwarves, yet had taken the lives of thousands of goblins.
“My King! Gorimbold has fallen! A catapult launched him off the walls!” a soldier from the House of the Golden Light came rushing to Dain.
“Rally the troops! Don’t let them falter!” Dain shouted. The soldier ran back from where he came.
The battle at the gates was fierce. The House of the Stone was a proud and fiery house, but its soldiers were nothing in comparison to the Legion of the Dead. The dwarves had fought hard, but they were losing men at a much more rapid pace.
“Fight harder! We need to hold!” Haldor shouted. His men fought, but could not hold out for long. And then Dain heard it.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Charging through the shadows came lumbering trolls. Their armor didn’t shine through the rust and decay, and their weapons were large, crude hammers. They rushed through the goblins in their way, undeterred from the gates. The House of the Golden Light had missed the trolls, having been too busy firing at the countless other goblins.
“Gods have mercy.” Haldor muttered. A troll grabbed him by the head and hurled him hundreds of yards back into the goblin army.
“No!” Dain shouted. He finally leapt from the wall, right onto the back of the troll. Taking Goblinsbane, and slashed cleanly through the troll’s face. As the troll crashed to the ground, Dain jumped off and joined the battle.
“Rally to me! To me!” Dain shouted, but it was too late. The House of the Stone was being decimated by the trolls and goblins. The House of the Golden Light had drawn all their fire to the trolls, finally bringing the last of them down, but it was too late. The goblins had begun pouring through the gates.
“Pull back! Pull back!” Dain shouted. He watched as the goblins scaled the inside of the walls, trapping what was left of the House of the Golden Light. Within the blink of an eye the house was no more.
“My King! We’re fresh and ready for battle!” Thuron came with his men, the dwarves of the House of the Mines.
“Hold them back!” Dain shouted.
“How long do you need?”
“As long as you can!”
Thuron and his dwarves sprinted past the fatigued soldiers, colliding with the pursuing goblins. Their large battle axes cut through the ranks of the goblins.
“Keep chopping lads! Fight like there’s a nice dwarven lass waiting for you at the gates!” Thuron shouted. His men hacked and slashed wildly, decimating rows upon rows of goblins. “Fight like you’re—“a large arrow pierced his neck. The tall dwarf stumbled, regained his footing, and pressed on, snapping and drawing the arrow out from his neck. He stabbed a goblin through the eye with the arrow stub before falling to the ground. His soldiers fought with a vengeance for their leader’s death. They fought to the last man.
The House of Mithril had joined with the defenders, with Sarin leading them in Dain’s stead. They formed the vanguard of the dwarves, and held off the attacking goblins. As hard as they fought, the dwarves could not withstand the goblin onslaught. They had to pull farther back into the fortress.
Grimbeorn and his men had staunchly defended the armory before finally having to retreat into the armory itself, and were now facing a siege of their own that they had to fight against. Dain knew they would give a last bite before falling. The remaining soldiers had fallen back into the keep, where those living in the fortress had already started their journey through the tunnels. The Legion barricaded the keep to give them a better chance of defense.
Dain could not believe he would suffer the same fate as his father. All of this fighting just led to the death of his people, and their loss was his fault entirely. Nevertheless, he prepared to die a valiant death.
“Dwarves! Prepare for—“ Dain was cut off by a loud blaring of a horn.
The horn echoed throughout the caverns. It was much different than the goblin horns or the dwarven horns. The horns were clearer, higher, purer sounding. They were elven horns.
The battering rams pounding against the keep lessened, and the dwarves heard more and more goblins leaving for the newfound arrivals. The goblins were distracted.
“Dwarves, Charge!” Dain shouted. The doors flung open, and Dain and his dwarves charged through the remaining goblins, and with the renewed fire in their hearts, they fought their way through the fortress. Grimbeorn and his men joined them, having renewed vigor from the allies as well. They fought their way to the gate, and slew more goblins outside of the fortress.
The goblins were in full retreat, and the dwarven army had survived. They watched as the tall, graceful elven army made its way towards them. Their gold armor glistened even under torchlight, and their shining weapons shone a magical blue. Their leader, an elf wearing a bright blood red sash made his war forward. Dain stepped out to meet him.
"My thanks, friend, for coming to our aid in this battle. But who are you? I don't recognize your armor." Dain said to the elven leader.
"Dain, how dare you forget who I am!" the elf said, taking off his helmet and smiling. The elf’s pointed ears emerged behind his graying blonde hair. "After all these years, you forget me? All I got was a new set of metal!"
"Ringcarion! I should've known it was you. Only you can move an army so quickly. I thank you, because none of us dwarves would be here if you did not intervene. But how did you get here as quickly as you did?"
The elven king laughed. "You're welcome, my old friend. And I will tell you. But surely you and your men are tired and hungry. Come, let's feast in thanks for this victory. I will tell you the details there."
The two kings walked into Reldithuin, and their men prepared a feast of grand proportions. Much celebrating would be needed to forget their losses in this fight.