The day that changed everything
Thundrak stood and admired the progress of his grand city. Many years have passed and a lot has been accomplished. The Great Hall is nearing completion. The church, the battle training grounds and the Hall of Heroes were all finished. Most of the city was set, but there wasa lot of other work still to be done. Access hallways, escape routes and additional drainage were among the many items still on Thundrak's checklist. The Great Hall still needed to be expanded and more detail needed to be added to the wall carvings. His vision of this city was of grand visuals and royalty. Thundrak wanted the admiration for the quality of work and effort that went into creating this masterpiece to last forever. He would not settle for anything other than perfection.
There were five groups of engineers and carvers working on the north end of the Great Hall. Each group contained between fifty and a hundred dwarves. The clan had grown in size every year since construction began. Word had spread throughout the valley and surrounding provinces of Thundrak and his welcoming family. He was making a name for himself of which it would become part of legend one day. The more work that was needed, the more he would receive new outside clans wanting to join. This is how he was able to speed up production and have the city completed in less than half the time it should have taken. More and more areas of detail were being added to the walls, alcoves and living quarters.
Thikic had become a member of the royal guard. This group was responsible for protecting the king. They also oversaw the security within the city and assisting with the organization of the dwarven army during times of battle. He was proud to have found Thundrak and his clan. He couldn’t have been happier anywhere else. He felt at home. He was able to bond with everyone through the years and also fell in love. He had gotten married, had a few kids. Life had never been better.
He walked alongside Thundrak through the city during the daily inspections. He organized various meetings with high ranking guards to go over the city's security. He alone helped to keep the blood of the city pumping to help make it very prosperous through all these years.
One day not too long ago,Ghuri’s father decided to take his son and some friends out huntingwhen they came across a strange looking elf. He was alone, sitting on a rock with one leg bent, a knee up by his chest while the other foot dangled in the stream below. The group stopped and observed the elf just sitting there, not doing anything. The elf looked sad and alone and remained motionless. Ghuri poked his father and whispered, "Should we go talk to him?"
"No, Ghuri," his father said. "Not now, just hold on and wait a minute or two. I’m not sure about all of this,something doesn’t feel right. I want to see what he's going to do." They waited for about thirty minutes and the elf never moved. "This can't be right,” Ghuri's father thought, "it must be a trap. Why hasn't he moved?" Fearing the worst, Ghuri's father motioned to one of his friends to quietly approach the elf from behind while the others waited back just in case there were more in the area that they just couldn’t see. He wanted to be ready should the elf sound an alarm. The dwarfchosen to get a closer look snuck quietly around some large rocks and trees, not quite fully aware that the elf would have already known he was there. Still, the elf never moved.
He got closer,cautiously hiding behind the large trunks of forest trees. He was hoping that the sound of the water running through the stream would provide him enough coverof soundto not get detected. The other dwarves, including Ghuri, got their weapons ready. Ghuri only had a small dagger his father gave him that was not sharp enough to cut water. Sweat started to drip downhis face as the adrenalin pumped throughout his body. Ghuri stood close to his father as they both watched the elf intently. The time had come to find out the elf's true reason for sitting there.
Elves weren't liked around these parts by the dwarves, not since the last troll war. The dwarves still have not been willing to reconcile the events that transpired. A lot of hatred and animosity still coursed through their veins. Their disdain for elves made their skin crawl and shook them down to their core. They were betrayed by the elves which cost many dwarves their lives. The elves had destroyed the agreement they had with the dwarves at the very last minute, not believing that the dwarves would fulfill their end of the deal. It was to include a portion of the dwarven assets to be paid over a specified amount of time for assisting in the war.
Ghuri knew how important this moment could be for him. He sensed that if he could be the one to slay the elf, perhaps he could bring some vengeance and satisfaction to his family and fellow clansmen. His eyes swelled with excitement and he said,“that's it!” The thought that came to his mid is what he could do to bring some justice to the travesty of the elf betrayal. He gripped the handle of his hammer that was hanging from his belt tighter than he ever had before. His heart began to race. The more he thought about it, the more he believed that if he could kill this elf for his father; he would return home a hero.
It didn't take him long to make his mind up on whether to do this or not. He was determined to show his father that he was no longer a youngling. He had grown up and become a man. This would be a great moment in his life. This would be his right of passage into manhood. He stood up straight, never taking his eyes off of the elf. He adjusted his helmet to ensure that it wouldn't fall off or block his vision. He took several deep breaths and with each one, his chest would get stouter filling him with courage and bravery for his mission ahead.
There was no room in his head for fear. He had been taught since the time he could lift a hammer off the ground that the moment a dwarf lets fear inside;they’re as good as dead. The time had come and there was no turning back. Taking a life out of battle was not how dwarves lived. However, this was an elf thathedidnot think too many of his brethren would mind too much if he died.
The dwarf that Ghuri's father sent to sneak up on the elf was just feet away from the disgusting creature. Ghuri knew that if he were to make it there before him, his hero's parade through the valley would be only in his imagination. He popped up, pushed his father to one side or tried to at least and hurried along the ground past the rocks and towards the other dwarf ahead of him. He had disregarded all of the rules for a surprise attack on your target and didn't seem to care.
In just a matter of seconds he was just below the other dwarf sent to investigate when he pulled something from his pocket. It was a hollow tube six inches long and about a half of an inch wide. Ghuri had in his hand a very thin stick with small feathers attached to one end. The other end of this three inch long stick was sharpened to a surgical point. It was a poison blow dart gun used in hunting that his father had given him. It was passed down from his great grandfather,although Ghuri wasn't using a poison dart for this shot. He was very skillful with potions and chemicals. He had been mixing different things since he was three. The dart he chose was coated with something that will only render the target unconscious for a short time.
He inserted the dart into the tube. He had been afforded a few extra seconds while the dwarf ahead of him had stopped and remained motionless while waiting for the signal from Ghuri's father. That's all the time that he needed. He stood up with hammer in one hand and the blow gun in the other. He raised the hammer into the air and charged the elf. His father could not yell for his son to stop because it would surely get the elf's attention and that of anyone else who may be hiding in the shadows. It was much too far away for him to physically stop his son. He was helpless as he leaned up against the rock and watched his naïve son doing what he thought would be the most foolish and careless action of his short, young life.
Ghuri put the blow gun to his mouth, took a deep breath and blew out all the air in his lungs in one quick violent burst through the tube. The dart shot out from the tube and within a split second penetrated the back of the dwarf's neck and he quickly succumbed to the invading toxins. Not a second or two after the dwarf fell, Ghuri charged towards the elf. He used the fallen dwarf as leverage to aid in his attack. He pushed off of the dwarf's back with one foot, swung his hammer back with two hands behind his head and came down with all the strength he had within him. To his father watching from a distance, it seemed like it all happened in slow motion. His son was slowly flying through the air towards the elf with his hammer behind his head. He could not believe his eyes at what he was witnessing. It was as if something came over him and it really wasn't his son doing this but something else entirely.
His eyes were focused on the target below. As Ghuri came down with the hammer, he suddenly thought, "Why hasn't this elf moved at all?" And two seconds later his hammer struck the elf and a huge white explosion triggered upon impact. Ghuri was thrown straight up into the air as the rest of the blast went outwards. He was knocked unconscious but somehow landed safely in the trees a few hundred yards away.
From the exact spot where the elf was and going out in all directions, everything was gone. All that was left was a scorched crater thirty to forty feet deep and one thousand feet across. No signs of life anywhere within the blast radius. The stream was wiped completely from the forest floor where it was closest to the blast. Ghuri did not know it at the time, but his father and everyone else he came here with were gone.
He awoke groggy and in pain. He tried opening his eyes but could not. He began to feel around to try and figure out where he was. He had no idea how he got wherever it was or what had happened. He realized that his arms and legs were still intact. He wasn't sure if he could walk yet so he tried standing up and then fell out of the tree he was in all the way down to the forest floor. He hit the ground with an earth shattering thud. It knocked the wind out of him, but he would be ok. He raised himself up off the ground just using his arms and called out for his father.
"Dad, ARE YOU THERE??!! Father!!!" No one answered. He tried opening his eyes again and this time he was able to opening them but only barely. He couldn't make out anything around him. All he saw were blurry blobs of color. Then he heard a voice speak to him...
"Ghuri... listen carefully to me," the voice said in a deep, dark, menacing and threatening tone, "I am Zyenar, The Powerful, and you have done the first part in helping to set me free."
"What have you done?" Ghuri asked. "Where is my father? What happened?"
"Your father is alive and unharmed and is somewhere that I have deemed necessary," the voice answered.
"I want to see him and I want to see him right now!!!" exclaimed Ghuri stumbling around the ground running into rocks and tripping over vines.
"You are in no position to give orders to anyone. I suggest you sit down before you hurt yourself and listen to me very carefully," said the voice in a calm manner. "You don't want me to get upset with you, because your father would become very uncomfortable."
"Ok, ok! Just don't hurt my dad,” Ghuri said.“I'll do whatever you want, just don't hurt him, please!" Ghuri felt around with his hands to find a suitable place to sit. "What is it that you want? What do I have to do to save my father?"
"Oh, I thought you'd never ask Hmm hmmhmm. I like you,” said the voice.“You get right to the point. No need for useless conversation here. I like that. Now, let me answer your questions. First of all, my name is Zyenar. I am a great and powerful sorcerer who was banished to the netherworld for crimes against humanity by the High Elven Council."
“The High Elven Council?” Ghuri asked. “Are they the same elves we’re fighting against?”
"Oh these aren't the same Elves that betrayed your family, oh I’m afraid not,” Zyenar said. “Those Elves are merely long lost descendants of wood Elves from Nebitor. The High Elven Council is a group of twelve powerful elf wizards who are immortal and govern everything you can see. They are the ones who bring justice down on crimes the races that live here cannot solve themselves."
"So what did you do to get banished?" asked Ghuri.
"I didn't do ANYTHING!!!" shouted Zyenar. "Those insignificant fools thought that I was the one responsible for destroying the Temple of Lur and all of the humans within it."
"That was you?!" Ghuri asked in amazement.
"NO!" replied Zyenar. "That wasn't me! They think it was me because of what they say was clear evidence given to them that seem to show me there. I think they just wanted me imprisoned because they view me as a threat. They've been trying for centuries now to put me away. So they tried using this attack on Lur to bring me down. And if you can't help me, then they will have succeeded."
"Why didn't you stand up to them and fight it?" asked Ghuri who was starting to see much better and couldn't believe he wasn't injured considering the amount of destruction in front of him.
"I tried. But the so-called evidence was overwhelming and I could not prove to them I didn't do it," continued Zyenar. "They have banished me to the netherworld and I found a way to get out but I need help from someone on the outside. That is where you come in."
"So was the elf a trap or just a way to get someone's attention to help you?" asked Ghuri.
"Oh, it was a trap indeed,” Zyenar said. A perfectly executed trap, I must say. I needed to find someone who I could trust with my freedom. You presented me with the best scenarioso let's get right down to it, shall we? What I want from you is to take this gem and use it to kill Thundrak."
A clear, multi-sided gem appeared. It had no color on the outside, but inside were multiple colors of light all fighting for equal room within the confines of the gem itself. It was floating in the air just above Ghuri's head. He looked up in amazement at the glowing gem andwatched it begin to slowly descend and land softly into his opened hands.
"Thundrak,but why does it have to be him? I don’t understand what does he have to do with any of this?" Ghuri asked confused.
“You must prove to me that you’re worthy,” Zyenar said. “I have to know that I can trust you and that you’re willing to do anything to save your father, even if that something is killing your king. Now, do I have your solemn word that you’re going to do as I say and follow every instruction given?”
“What if I refuse?” Ghuri asked mostly out of curiosity.
“If you miss doing just one thing I say,” Zyenar warned, “even if it’s a very small detail, then that proves to me that you’re father’s life means nothing to you and I will kill him right in front of you.”
“Ok, I understand,” Ghuri said. “And if I do everything that you ask and including killing Thundrak, then what?”
“I will return your father to you unharmed,” Zyenar said. “I will keep my promise if you keep yours. What do you say?”
"You would do that for me and bring back my father alive?" asked Ghuri.
"Yes, he will be returned to you with no knowledge of anything that has happened and you will become the dwarvin King. Now go! The time for Thundrak's demise is fast approaching."
"How will I contact you once I've finished?" Ghuri asked wishing he'd never had killed that elf.
"I will be watching you and tracking your progress.” Zyenar said.“I will know when it is time to find you and we can discuss the next part of my plan at that time. Now go! You've wasted enough of my time!"
In an instant, it was all quiet around him and the daylight returned. Ghuri looked around at all the damage then the gravity of his situation finally became clear. All he could think about was, "What have I done? How am I ever going to fix this?" Killing a fellow dwarf, especially the one who happens to be king was pure madness. He had no idea how to even do that. How was he going to explain all of this to everyone back home when he returns alone?
He looked down at his clenched fist then opened his hand to reveal the gem he was holding. The colors inside the gem emitted light which had shown onto his face and the surrounding area. It was a strong crimson color powerful and solid, never wavering or flickering. He put the gem in his vest pocket then looked around for his hammer. He couldn't find it. Everything was gone except for what he was carrying or the clothes on his back. He gathered himself together, took several deep breaths and began the walk long home.
He walked past the crater pausing to look inside. He raised his hands up to try and grab the rim above but it was much too high. He used the protruding rocks and other debris from the side of the crater wall to climb up several feet towards the top. He then was able to reach the top edge with his hands and pull himself up. His eyes broached the crater's edge and to his utter amazement he saw a massive crater that went deep into the ground big enough to hold his entire clan times ten. His eyes grew nearly as big as the crater itself.
He could not believe how he or his father could have survived something so powerful. He knew that his dad was alive somewhere and if there was any chance of him getting released unharmed, Thundrak had to die. He slowly lowered himself back down to the ground below. Once his feet were back onto solid ground, he took one last look at the wall of the massive crater and memorized what he saw. He would use that image as a reminder of his trapped father and the quest he so reluctantly accepted.
Ghuri walked for a while and listened intently to the sounds of the forest. He paid closer attention to his everything around him than he ever had so far in his short life. He could hear the birds chirping, the wind blowing through the trees and the crackling of twigs as something or someone would step on them. The forest had its own language and he was taking a crash course as he walked home. Maybe this would take his mind off of his father even if just for a minute. He was not looking forward to meeting back up with the clan. What was he going to tell them about why he returned alone?
He decided to say that they were all attacked by the elves and he managed to escape by hiding. He was small enough that he was able to find a hiding place where he could remain undetected and then waited for the elves to leave so he could run back and warn the others.
Thundrak was busy making sure everything was organized and on schedule. He leaned heavily on Thikic to help him maintain order as he could not be everywhere at once.
"Thikic?” Thundrak said.“Would someone please tell Thikic that I want to see him right away?"
"Sir, yes sir!" affirmed one of his subordinates. He headed off in search of Thikic not returning until he had delivered the message. He wouldn’t be gone long because he knew exactly where Thikic was. He was on the other end of the city heading up the final phase of construction on the Great Hall. The engineers and master carvers were busy working on the ceiling and the statues along the walls. Thikic was presiding over their progress and directing them just like a conductor of a symphony. He had them all working harmoniously together, it was definitely a beautiful thing to see. They all sang while they worked. It was rather entertaining and quite a show.
The carvers were chipping away at the stone in and around every statue,adding detail along the way. There was nothing left undone not even the smallest detail on the statue’s faces. Thundrak's vision for this room was to be the city's centerpiece. It would have a large fountain in the centerfor people to gather around for conversation and relaxation. The ceilings would have panels stretching the entire length of the hall side by side. Each panel would have a picture carved into it that told the story of the clan and how it came to be. The floors were done with the finest and rarest marble the dwarves could find. Thundrak had a single group of miners spend an entire year mining for the marble which they found several miles away. A lot more would be going into this room before Thundrak could call it a Great Hall.
"Thikic... sir!" yelled the dwarf sent by Thundrak. "Come quickly,Our Leader wishes to speak with you right away."
"Ok, great. Thank you. You may go now," said Thikic. "Hey Mehknoo," he said motioning to one of the high ranking foreman. "I need you to watch over the work being done here. I am needed elsewhere. Please make sure nothing slows down until I return."
"Yes sir!" Mehknoo replied.
Thikic turned over his construction journal to his foreman knowing he would not let him down with keeping the men working. The journal had everything that had been completed and all that was left to do up to this point. He always kept very detailed and intricate notes. He turned then ran out of the hall heading to see what Thundrak wanted. "What does he want now? Doesn’t he know we’re all busy right now?" Thikic thought as he ran. "He sure picks the worst possible time to summon for me."
He hurried along the passageways and corridors, focused on where he needed to be. As he got closer he began to sweat because he was getting very nervous and anxious. He had this feeling that something was truly not right in the city and he was about to find out.
He rounded the corner and came to an opening of a large room. It was the room where all the shops and bars were going to be. He looked up just ahead of him on the far end of the room he could see Thundrak amongst some of his advisors and foremen. He slowed down his gape to a walk catching his breath and trying to regain his composure as best he could. He didn't want to offend his leader and friend by looking sloppy. Thundrak caught a glimpse of something from the corner of his eye and turned his head to get a better look. He saw it was Thikic who had made it back for their meeting.
“Thikic my good man how are you?” Thundrak said warmly. “Let’s go into this room here and talk.” He wore a smile happy to see his friend once more. They hadn’t had much time to spend together since construction began but did make time once in a while to go fishing.
"It is a pleasure to see you again too," Thikic replied with pleasure. "I have been very busy with my construction responsibilities and have not had much time to converse with you."
"I know, I know,” Thundrak said. “There's something I need to discuss with you."
"Yes, of course," said Thikic. "What is it? What is troubling you?"
Thundrak handed his friend a drink of cognac then took the seat next to him. "The reason I summoned you here is because a small expedition of dwarves left here several days ago for what I've been told was a hunting trip and they haven't returned. I want you to head up the search for them and report back to me with your findings."
"Are you sure?" Thikic asked.
"Yes, I am sure about this," Thundrak said. "The group checked in with the head keeper three days ago to officially state their business outside of the city. It was the rule I implemented for every dwarf to report when they leave and return. This has been in place since construction began. I don't want any surprises, if you know what I mean."
Thikic nodded his head in agreement and took a swig from his glass. "What do you need me to do?"
"I want you to go and find out what became of them," Thundrak answered. "I need to know so that I am prepared to protect the city. If there's a threat out there that they met up with, I have to get my people ready for whatever lies ahead."
"Alright, I can do that. How soon do you want me to leave?" Thikic asked.
"Yesterday," said Thundrak. "Take a few of your best men with you. Take as much time as you need, but I want frequent updates from you. I will not send a search party for you because I need everyone here working on construction. So if anything should happen to you, you're on your own. So please be very careful. Now leave me. I will oversee your areas of the city, so don't worry about that. Come back when you have something to report and not a moment sooner."
"Yes sir!" Thikic replied with a clenched fist to his chest. Then he finished his drink and left Thundrak to go find the missing dwarves. He had lied to Thikic. He knew this small group of dwarves left the city for something else and it wasn't hunting. There was another reason why they left but he just couldn't quite see it yet. His inherited survival instincts passed down from his great ancestors were trying to tell him something, but what could it be?
Thikic left in a hurry to put together a group of men to accompany him. He briefly told them that Thundrak wants him to find something as the reason for this sudden change of plans. They all gathered up supplies and weapons to take with them. Once they were finished and ready to go, they presented themselves to Thikic. They lined up shoulder to shoulder standing at attention waiting for inspection.
“Thank you for getting ready so quickly,” Thikic began, “we have been asked by our Leader, Thundrak to leave the city to find a small band of dwarves who have left to go hunting and have not yet returned.”
The five dwarves turned their heads to look at each other in bewilderment. They had no idea anyone had left or would want to leave. They shook their heads having a confused smirk on their faces, and then turned their attention back to Thikic.
“I know this is confusing to you,” Thikic continued, “it was to me as well when I first heard about it. We are to find these dwarves or find out what happened to them and report back to Thundrak.”
They snapped back to attention committed to service to the city and to show their loyalty to their leader and to their clan. They understood what was being asked of them. A task they were already prepared for their whole lives. This clan of dwarves was a close, tight knit group regardless of their large numbers. No task that they have ever been asked to do has been too daunting. They were ready to take on the ogre caves themselves if that would be the case.
Thikic nodded to each of them with his approval making their group official with nothing left to do but to head out.
But before they were to set one foot outside of the city, a stirring began among some of the dwarves near the stairs leading up to the main entrance. Thikic quickly looked to see what was going on but could only make out grumbling noises and hectic movement. He had to get closer. He told his men to stay ready and to wait there for him to return.
Thikic ran to the stairs, pushing aside fellow dwarves who had their backs turned and were trying to see what all the commotion was about. He threw one dwarf aside, then another. Something was going on that was getting that had everyone's attention. He had to get there before the situation turned bad. That was the one thing he just could not let happen.
He made it to the bottom of the stairs pushing and shoving his way through. The number of dwarves there were much more than he had just ran through. Everyone had gathered around forming a circle with their eyes fixated at the floor. Thikic really had to struggle to get through the last few feet.
“Get out of my way!” Thikic demanded. “Let me through. Step aside please. That is an order.” He said this while trying to throw people to one side. He finally was able to get through to the center of the circle and there it was.
A scared, confused and shaken young dwarf sat crying on the bottom step. It was Ghuri. He wasn’t injured he was just alone and upset. Thikic approached him gingerly and cautiously. He got to within a couple feet from him then got down on his knees. He held out his hand towards Ghuri in an effort to help him and to let him know that he’s safe back at home in Ironhold.
“Ghuri,” Thikic said in a quiet voice, “what happened to you? Where have you been?” It was completely quiet at the stairs; no one dare say a word. Everyone was fixated on Thikic and Ghuri. They wanted to hear what was going on.
“Ghuri,” Thikic said again because he received no answer the first time. “It’s me, Thikic. What happened to you?”
Ghuri looked up at Thikic with tears in his eyes. He saw the fear, the confusion on Ghuri’s face. Ghuri sniffled a few times, took several quick breaths before uttering a single word. He wiped the tears from his face, which weren’t real; that he conjured up just prior to him entering the city.
About fifteen minutes before all of this happened at the bottom of the stairs; Ghuri prepared himself outside for the interaction that was about to take place. As he approached the main entrance to Ironhold, he stopped right at the front of the gate. He composed himself taking several deep breaths to calm down and to get into the proper state of mind. He knew that he had to appear shaken and upset, so he tried to muster up the tears to run down his face.
Ghuri tried over and over to cry, but just couldn’t do it. If he couldn’t cry, then no one would believe a word he would say. Then as if on cue, his pocket began to vibrate vigorously. He put his hand inside and took out the gem. It was vibrating in his hand and the colors were going crazy. He couldn’t understand why it was suddenly behaving in this manner.
He gazed deeply into the gem, absorbing the colors into his eyes. He asked a question directly to the gem as if it were a real person.
“What is it? What are you trying to tell me? Can you help me with my problem?” Right after he asked these questions, the crystal stopped moving and he began to cry. His face turned red, his hair and clothes became tattered. He was ready for his performance and he’d better make it a good one. He put the gem back into his pocket. It had quieted down and the colored lights within it seemed to be in a tranquil state.
Ghuri sniffled a few times, wiped his snout with his sleeve and began to speak. “M-m-my dad (sniff) decided to (sniff) take me out hunting with some of his friends-ends-ends.. (sniff, wmmwmm) and we ca-a-ame to an opening in the forest (sniff) where he decided to set up our camp.”
Thikic sat next to Ghuri on the bottom step and put his arm around him. He waved with his hand towards everyone standing around him in a motion that said, Give him some room, please. Thikic told him, “everything is ok, you’re safe now please continue.”
A woman standing just to Ghuri’sleft handed him a handkerchief which he immediately used to wipe away his tears and clean his face. “We set up our camp,” Ghuri continued, “then we decided to go out on a hunt because we hadn’t brought any food with us. We made our way through the forest looking for wild boar or a deer, really anything. That’s when it happened.”
“WHAT happened,” Thikic immediately asked.
Just thinking about it made him cry even harder. “It’s ok,” Thikic said patting Ghuri on the back showing his support of the young dwarf.
“They came out from nowhere and everywhere. We were unprepared for them. They caught us completely off-guard.”
“Who or what attacked you?” Thikic asked with great anticipation.
“Elves!” Ghuri replied. Everyone who heard it immediately gasped in unison.
“Are you sure it was elves that attacked you?” asked Thikic.
“Yes,” Ghuri answered. “I think because I was the smallest of the group, they didn’t pay any attention to me at first.”
“Where’s your father? What did they do to him?” asked Thikic.
“They took him,” Ghuri said.
“What do you mean they ‘took him’?” Thikic said.
“They didn’t kill him," Ghuri said. "He was wounded in the fight but they let him live, or so I’d like believe. And they left with him. I’m guessing they took him as a prisoner.”
“But why would the Elves take him?” Thikic wondered aloud.
“I don’t know. Can we save him? Do you think he’s still alive?” asked Ghuri.
“My gut tells me he’s still alive,” Thikic said. “I have to bring this news to Thundrak. He has to know that there has been an unprovoked attack on dwarves. He will want to know all of this. Right now, I want you to go get cleaned up and get some rest. Thundrak will let everyone know what our next course of action will be. Now please everyone. Go back to what you all were doing. Ghuri will be fine; I’ll make sure of it.”
Thikic motioned for his two aunts who were amongst the crowd to come forward and take the boy home. The two women stepped forward through the crowd got on either side of Ghuri and helped him get up from the step. He stood up, grabbed his bag and shook Thikic’s hand then walked away with his aunts. He had his head down slightly walking away from the crowd. A sinister looking grin appeared on his face and a flash of someone else’s face briefly shown on his, but no one noticed.
With all of this newly found information and Ghuri in the arms of relatives, Thikic went to discuss the situation with Thundrak. He could hardly believe it himself, but if Ghuri was the only one able to return, then what came of the others? The story he had just heard had to be true.
Thikic went to Thundrak’s chambers and let himself inside. He threw open the doors and burst in shouting, “THUNKDRAK!!”
“Yes Thikic. What is it? Have you found the missing dwarves? Where are they? What happened to them?” Thundrak asked, clearly observing that Thikic was out of breath but eager to tell him something. After taking a few minutes to gather himself, he explained everything he’d just been told by Ghuri. There was something about the news that didn’t quite ring true with Thundrak.
“So let me see if I have this straight,” Thundrak wondered aloud, “what this young dwarf claims is that while on a hunting trip with his father, they were attacked for no reason by elves and he alone managed to survive?”
“Yes sir. That’s exactly what he said. Do you believe him?” Thikic asked.
“No," Thundrak said matter-of-factly. "Even though we are at odds with the elves, I just don’t see why they would choose these few dwarves as a target, and for what reason, exactly? What do you suppose they wish to accomplish from this?”
“I would say,” Thikic replied, “to get a response from you in some way. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Thundrak nodded his head, “Yes I would completely agree with you. I want to meet with the young man when he’s ready. Send for him and tell him I would like to speak with him as soon as he feels up to it.”
“Yes sir. I will pass along the message. Is there anything else you need from me at the moment?” Thikic asked before leaving.
“No,” said Thundrak, “but don’t stray very far. I may need to call on you soon. You are free to go.”
“Thank you, sir.” Thikic dutifully replied. “I will leave you and meet up with you later.”
Thundrak just stood there for a moment after the doors closed to think about what he just heard. He couldn’t dismiss it as the He was undoubtedly confused by the elves’ actions. “Surely what he said can’t be true,” he thought. “This young dwarf is probably confused and just got separated from his father and somehow made it back home. But then why make up this elaborate story? Which, if is true, could change the course of this city forever.” He couldn’t get that thought out of his head. He had a lot of questions to ask the young boy and only he can provide the answers.
But first, there was something about all of this that didn’t quite seem right. He couldn’t put his finger on it. It was a hunch, mere speculation on his part. He would need more evidence before any decision would be made about it. He wrote something on a parchment that was on his desk and summoned one of his servants to deliver it.
About an hour later there was a knock on the door. It was Ghuri responding to the message he had received. He was here to talk about the incident that happened earlier. Thundrak approached the door, grabbed the handle and turned it, then pulled it open to see who was there.
“Hello Thundrak. I’m here to talk to you. May I come in?” Ghuri asked.
“Yes, please, come in. I’ve been expecting you,” Thundrak said then stepped aside while holding the door to allow Ghuri to enter.He slowly stepped inside the room and looked around. He took notice of all the treasures and steins that were adorned on the shelves. He was nervous to be there to talk to the head dwarf he was being asked to kill in order to save his father.
“Some of these items you see are heirlooms from various members of the clan,” Thundrak explained. “They were given to me once they became full-fledged members as gifts of gratitude. I have kept them as a remembrance of that special occasion.”
Ghuri stopped in the middle of the room withhis arms were crossed as if trying to protect himself from something. Thundrak closed the door and walked by Ghuri to one side looking at him as he passed. He went over to the biggest cushioned chair in the room and sat down.
“Please sit down,” Thundrak said,“andmake yourself comfortable. You are always welcome here.”
Ghuri sat down in the chair across from Thundrak with his feet dangling ever so slightly over the edge of the cushion. He looked out over his small toes and could see Thundrak sitting back in his chair looking intently at him. He’s much too deep in this now, there’s no going back. Thundrak had his suspicions about what had happened but without proof of anything, he only had to go on what Ghuri was about to tell him.
“Ok, let’s get down to business, shall we?” Thundrak said. “Please tell me exactly what happened on your so-called ‘hunting trip’?”
Ghuri took a moment to gather his thoughts. He had to remember what he had told Thikic earlier so he wouldn’t get caught in a lie. He looked down for a minute then lifted his head to see Thundrak had not steered his gaze off of him. He inhaled deeply grabbing the arms of the chair with his hands.
“My father took me hunting with his friends and we were gone for just a little while, we came to a clearing where my dad decided to make camp.” Thundrak was listening intently, hanging on every word. The sweat was rolling down Ghuri’s face soaking his chin. Thundrak wanted more details, he wanted to hear more. What Ghuri was saying wasn’t quite enough, he pressed him for more.
“I know all about this, Ghuri,” Thundrak said, “Thikic already filled me in on what you had told him. I want to know about the elves. What happened with the elf?”
The temperature in the room was increasing, at least for Ghuri. He was sweating more and more and grabbing the arms of his chair even tighter. His fingers were digging into the fabric. He thought, “How am I going to get out of this?”This all will soon be over and with any luck, Thundrak won’t survive much longer. He had to come up with a plan or he’ll never see his father again.
“We had finished setting up the camp,” Ghuri continued, “and then my dad wanted to head out before it got dark to hunt for dinner. I was close byhisside with the other dwarves nearby. We had spotted a deer through the trees. My dad pulled me closer to him so that I was behind him. That’s when it all happened.”
“What happened?” Thundrak asked, fully expecting him to lie about everything.
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