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Library: Reigen's Lament, by Delion Yellowbeard

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Author: delion
Date:Apr 15 2014

'Granpapa, Granpapa, tell us the story of Reigen!'
'Hrm, mmm, hmm?' Old man Duggan's midday nap came to abrupt halt. He found
himself the target of an ambush. Not a particularly violent one, but what it
lacked in violence it more than made up for in persistence. His youngest
grandchild was already halfway into his lap. 
'What?' he repeated.
'The story of Reigen!'
'Hmph, not now.' He had been dreaming something particularly nice, and he was
anxious to return to whatever it had been.
'Pleease' The rest of his grandchildren chimed in. There were 5 in all. All of
them looked at him pleadingly with eyes the size of his fist.
'Don't be such an old grouch, Duggie,' came a comment from the kitchen. 
That settled it. Once his wife got involved there was no point in resisting.
'Hrmm,' he cleared his throat. 'Very well. But first fetch my pipe.' This
instigated a loud cheer and an immediate race to the pipe rack. Small hands
grabbed pipe and pouch and propelled them back toward him at a dizzying pace.
Old man Duggan was about to protest at the danger to his favorite smoking kit,
but he knew it was useless. He settled for a disgruntled 'Hmpf.'
'Alright then,' he said as he settled in for one of his own favorite stories.
He gathered two of the young ones into his lap and made sure the rest was
seated comfortably around his chair.
'Do you see yonder suit of armour?' He pointed with his pipe to a suit of
chain mail that was mounted on the wall.
'Yes!' The small voices had now settled into an expectant hush. Just as old
man Duggan knew how to tell stories, the rest of the Duggan clan knew how to
listen to them.
'That suit of armour once belonged to Reigen of Tavari  a young man of the
human race who stood by my children Garrulf and Gryn in their most desperate
hour of need.'
Duggan paused to clean out his pipe. It had become a task that took some
concentration and effort on his part. His hands simply were not what they used
to be. This, however, he no longer dwelled on. He had long since accepted the
fact that he was getting old. He had had a good life. He had a loving wife and
two children, who through the good graces of God, had grown up to be fine
Duggans in their own right, and who in turn had given him 5 glorious
grandchildren.
'Do any of you know who Garrulf and Gryn are?'
'Yes' All five voices replied promptly. After all, they all knew the question
was coming. It always did. Two of the children claimed that Garrulf was their
father and the other three that Gryn was their mother.
'Aye, my little ones. That's right.' 
Duggan stuffed his pipe and lit it with a few puffs. He set down the
smoldering piece of lighter wood on a well worn leather ashtray. As he leaned
back in his chair his eyes seemed to loose focus and his thoughts turned to
his days as a young father. The children waited in silence as the familiar
smell of their grandfather's tobacco mingled with the aroma of burning lighter
wood and spread through the room.

The two dwarf children stood facing a vast expanse of bright white. So small
were they and almost covered in snow, that you would hardly have noticed them
from more than a stone's throw away. They were waist deep in snow and their
sledge seemed to be floating in the air next to them  so perfectly white was
the snow.
Garrulf turned away from the beautiful slope stretched out before him to look
at his little sister beside him. Gryn looked up at him and smiled. Her eyes
were bright with excitement. A small twinge of doubht inside him reminded him
that they really should be getting back to the others. He looked wistfully
back at the snowy slope.
It was the first week of Deepwinter and the dwarves of Roggaart had arranged
their annual outing for the youngsters of the settlement. This time of year
the mountains were too cold for any of the monsters that lived here during
summer. They had all vacated the area and retreated down into lower, more
temperate regions. 
The Deepwinter Outing as it had become known had started as a getaway for
curious dwarves that wanted to get away from Roggaart for a few days and see
the outside world in relative safety. It had evolved into an annual event for
the children. They brought sledges and snow shoes and spent a day or two
playing in the snow under the watchful eyes of a few adult caretakers. 
Sledding was reserved for the older children on the Outing and this year, for
the first time, Garrulf had been allowed to bring his fathers old sledge. He
had looked forward to it all through autumn and the beginning of winter. On
the way to the surface, he could hardly contain his excitement, and once
Garrulf was let loose in the snow there was no stopping him. He sledded
without pause the entire morning and he even took Gryn for a ride on the
sledge a few times even though he wasn't supposed to. She was just as thrilled
as her big brother was at the speed with which their father's sledge tore
through the snow. The adult caretakers let the two siblings play. What was the
harm? And thus, in the afternoon Garrulf set out on longer and longer sledge
rides.

Now he knew that they were further away from the rest of the dwarves than they
had been before. But the slope in front of him still beckoned him with its
inviting blanket of crisp white snow.
'Shall we try it?' he asked hesitantly.
'Yes, please' replied Gryn in a hoarse whisper without taking her eyes off the
slope.
'Then let us. Get on.' Garrulf climbed on the sledge and made sure Gryn was
tugged in behind him. Then without further hesitation he flexed his legs and
launched the sledge down the mountain side.
Immediately he forgot all his reservations. The sensation was thrilling. As
the sledge gained speed, the slope seemed to almost open up before them. They
blasted through the snow and Garrulf felt the sting of flakes in his face.
Behind him Gryn squeeled with excitement.
The sledge's speed increased and little after little it dawned on Garrulf that
he was loosing control of the sledge. He didn't know what to do. As Gryn felt
her  big brother's indetermination she became silent and hung on tight. Soon
all Garrulf's strength and concentration was focused on keeping the sledge
upright as it hurtled through the snow. 
After what seemed to Garrulf to be a very, very long time, the sledge began to
slowly loose momentum and eventually it stopped altogether. Garrulf was
completely stunned. He sat on the sledge as though frozen in place. He felt
weak and he couldn't see a hand in front of him. Only when Gryn began to
whimper behind him did he snap out of it and as he turned around he found out
that snow had covered his entire face along with his eyes.
He brushed the snow off his face and looked at his little sister.
She looked up at him with big, frightened eyes. Water from her eyes had frozen
on her cheeks. She had snow in her hair and her teeth were chattering. 'Where
are we?' she managed to ask.
Garrulf looked around. He had no idea.

Ilomzkhorn took stock. He was only a few days away from the cave and he felt
sure that he would reach it well ahead of his pursuers. Ilomzkhorn let out an
involuntary growl at the thought of the human and halfling scum on his tail.
They had made a mess of his otherwise perfect life.
Ilomzkhorn was the tribe's shaman and had enjoyed the power and respect that
came along with this. But he wanted more. He had been scheming for a long time
to overthrow the chief and his plans were about to come to their fruition
when, apparently by accident, a group of warriors had stumbled into the
tribe's winter camp. Now he was on the run with half of the tribe males and a
human hostage. To make matters worse his scout had recently returned with news
that his pursuers had survived a fight with three giants without suffering a
single casualty. Three! Ilomzkhorn snorted and spat. He could hardly believe
it and he had in fact done his best to dismiss the scout's accounts as lies
before the rest of the ogres, but the damage had been done. His troup was
shocked and morale was at an all time low. Ilomzkhorn was no longer sure that
he could keep his warriors in check until they reached the cave.
Ilomzkhorn looked at the sky. It was getting dark. He gave orders to make camp
by a large rock outcropping in the snow.
Suddenly he heard was a shout. Ilomzkhorn turned to see one of his warriors
pointing up the mountain. There, something was tearing through the snow right
at them. It was dark and its speed was slightly disturbing. Ilomzkhorn tried
to calm down his ogres but he himself was not sure, what was coming.
However, the thing slowed down and as it got closer Ilomzkhorn could see that
it was too small to be anything very dangerous. He told his second-in-command
to stop whatever it was before it hit the rock by the campsite. The big ogre
trusted his shaman enough to follow the order. Besides it wouldn't hurt his
image to show fearlessness in a situation such as this. After all, if their
chief was dead, he might be next in line. He took position in front of the
party and braced himself for whatever was coming. As the projectile got near
he extended his foot and stopped it with his sole of his boot. Whatever it
was, it shattered on impact and left two little balls of snow and clothes
lying amidst wooden debris. One of the small balls emitted a weak groan.
None of the ogres dared go near whatever it was. Ilomzkhorn was the first to
figure out what had happened. He let out a loud scornfull laugh.
'Is this what my fearsome warriors are so afraid of?' he said as he advanced
on the wreckage. He gathered up the two small bundles ignoring the muffled
protests coming from one of them. 'Two scum dwarven runts with a snow cart!'
Ilomzkhorn looked on the ogres before him. 'You have become afraid! Weak! Are
you men or women? Get yourselves together. Before long you will be fighthing
to defend our home. Do you want the women to laugh at you and defend it for
you?'
'If we have become weak,' someone argued. 'It is because we haven't eaten
properly in days.'
'Yeah,' another agreed. 'Now dinner is on! Let's eat the dwarves. They look'
'No!' Ilomzkhorn raised his voice. 'If there are two dwarves, there are more!
We are not eating anything before we are safe in our cave. Keep the dwarves
with our hostage.'
The warriors kept grumbling but did as they had been told. As long as their
shaman had control of his second-in-command he had control of them. They
almost threw the two dwarves at the human.
Ilomzkhorn concentrated on settling the tempers of his warriors, but he
noticed that the human seemed to be checking up on the dwarves. 'Good,' he
thought. 'Maybe all three will survive the night.'

All through the next day the marching ogres were grumbling and the mood became
more and more volatile. Ilomzkhorn worked them hard  threatened and bullied
them into walking almost without break until the sun was low in the sky. It
wasn't enough.
When they had found a suitable resting spot it wasn't long before one of the
larger and more ambitious ogres stood up and shouted 'Shaman!'
Ilomzkhorn knew what was coming, so he was prepared. 'What do you want,
Manarfet?' he sneered as he stood up. Behind him his second-in-command stood
up also.
Manarfet was standing in a small group of ogres. There was no doubt that he
did not speak for himself alone. 
'We have walked far today and we are tired. But we can't rest properly without
food. Let us feast on the dwarves!' The ogres around Manarfet shouted their
approval at this idea.
Ilomzkhorn looked around him. He had a cunning mind and a sharp sense of the
balance of power. And that balance was shifting. He needed to think fast.
'You are always hungry, Manarfet. If you weren't along, the rest of us
wouldn't be hungry at all.' Ilomzkhorn looked for support for this statement,
but got none. Some ogres just stared at their feet. Others returned his gaze
defiantly. 
'Maybe if I was leader of this patrol we would have gone in search of food
instead of running like human peasants!' 
This was getting out of hand.
'Where would you go? Back to the heroes back there? They killed three giants
without so much as a scratch to show for the effort.' Ilomzkhorn paused for
effect. He could feel that he got through to some of these numbsculls. Then he
raised his voice even further and proclaimed: 'You would be dead before you
knew what hit you and I would be laughing from the dry warm cave in the
mountains. No, the only way to win this fight is to fight it from high ground
in our cave.'
Just as Manarfet was about to answer, Ilomzkhorn held up his hand. 'But. You
have all worked hard today and you deserve a prize. Tonight we eat one of the
dwarves!'
The ogres cheered. Everybody got up and started to close in on the hostages.
They seemed absolutely terrified. Ilomzkhorn couldn't help but smile at this.
The fear on their faces fueled the fire in his heart. It burned for the battle
that would come sooner a later. If he could win against the men and halflings
he would have this tribe in the palm of his hand. And he knew he could win. He
had one of them as his hostage and look at that hostage now. Ilomzkhorn looked
at the human. He was completely what was that? The humans face showed anything
but terror. Ilomzkhorn had no time to react and all the rest of the ogres had
their attention on the dwarves. Just as the front ogre leaned forward to grab
the biggest of the dwarves,  the human launched himself into the face of the
front ogre. The surprise was complete. The human shattered the ogre's nose
with his elbow. The ogre howled in pain as blood shot out of his nose. He
stumbled backwards in shock  arms flailing wildly. All the rest of the ogres
paused in confusion. The human puffed up his little chest and blocked the
ogres's path to the dwarves. He extended his arms as if he was inviting
someone to wrestle him. Then he said: 'Come and get me. Noone touches these
children.' One of the ogres laughed scornfully and took a step forward. The
human, however, was unafraid. He lunged at the ogre. And so convincing was his
bravery, that even though he had no weapon he made the ogre flinch and
retreat.
Ilomzkhorn had had quite enough of this. 'Get this miserable little bag of
skin and bones out of the way!'
Manarfet was the first to react. With a grin on his face he advanced on the
human. The human tried to intimidate him the same way he did with the previous
ogre, but this time with no effect. Instead Manarfet swung his club as the
human lunged. He put all his pent-up rage into the blow. The human tried to
dodge, but the club connected with the side of his head with a wet 'Thud!',
that put an evil grin on Manarfets face. The human flew sideways and landed in
a heap a few feet away.
Ilomzkhorn could tell by the way the human's head was cocked awkwardly to one
side that he had just lost his most valuable hostage.
Now it was his turn to vent his rage.
'STOP!' he shouted at the top of his lungs. 'STOP or by Onjat I will
annihilate you all!' Invoking the poison goddess's name had the desired
effect. He now had the ogres undivided attention. He held up his necklace high
in his strechted arm and advanced on Manarfet.
'You big, fat, stupid bag of dung,' he hissed through clenched teeth. 'If you
survive the fight with the humans, I will make sure you spend the rest of your
existence working with the women.'
Ilomzkhorn pointed at the corpse: 'You just removed our one advantage against
the humans. How were they going to fight us, when we had one of their friends
as a hostage?' The rest of the ogres seemed to grasp the situation and
Manarfet looked around at them nervously.
Ilomzkhorn continued: 'HEAR ME. There will be no feasting to night  or any
other night until we have won. I want my fighters hungry when they fight. I
promise you, that when we get to the cave and defeat the humans, you get to
eat what you kill. DO YOU HEAR ME?'
The rest of the ogres reluctantly sounded their agreement and retreated to
their sleeping spaces.
Ilomzkhorn checked on the human to make sure there was nothing to do, then he
healed the bloodied nose of the ogre, who had had the unfortunate encounter
with the human.

In the morning the ogres moved on. Ilomzkhorn managed to convince them that
the dead human could still be used as a bargaining tool, so they broght him
too. If nothing else, they could always eat him.
They arrived at the cave without further mishap. They installed the two
dwarves in the innermost parts of the cave under guard. Then Ilomzkhorn set
about barricading the cave. He entertained few illusions that the barricades
would cause his pursuers much trouble, but doing something  anything - boosted
his warriors' morale.

In the afternoon of their second day in their cave the sentry sounded the
alarm. Ilomzkhorn ordered his warriors into the cave hoping the human scum
would be careless and enter the dark cave. 
Ilomzkhorn could see them now, hesitating at the mouth of the cave. Then much
to his dismay they started to lob small brightly shining objects into the
cave. Ilomzkhorn sounded the attack and his heart stirred at the sight of his
warriors charging the invaders.


As the two groups clashed Ilomzkhorn unleashed his most potent weapon; his
paralyze curse. He noted with satisfaction that the two spellweavers stopped
moving  this was going very smoothly. Now if only his warriors could take down
the fighters.
I didn't take long before it became obvious that even though they were
outnumbering the invaders 3 to 1 the ogre warriors were no match for the human
and halfling. The halfling was impossible to hit and cut into his opponents
with furious force. The human wielded his warhammer like it was the Club of
Tuskh´ellam itself!
Ilomzkhorn called his second-in-command away from the fray and retreated with
him to the end of the cave. They each took a dwarf and prepared for whatever
might come.
It didn't take long before Ilomzkhorn saw the human and the halfling. They
sneaked forward with caution, yet nothing in their demeanor seemed anything
but confident and menacing to Ilomzkhorn. He took a step forward and held out
the dwarf in front of him.
'Stop right there or the dwarf is dead!' The invaders stopped.
Ilomzkhorn wished he still had his paralyze curse. The intruders blocked his
exit. He saw no easy way out of this. He didn't dare attack. All he had was
the hostages.
'Where is the human?' asked the human fighter.
'He is dead,' stated Ilomzkhorn.
'Dead? How?'
'He has been dead for days. He was stupid, so he died.'
'Where are his remains?'
'He is back there.' Ilomzkhorn smiled to himself as he pointed to somewhere
behind him. These humans and their weaknesses. He had known all along that
even though his hostage was dead it would still work as a hostage. He would
never learn to understand these weaklings. 'You can have him if you want.'
'Let the children go and we will let you go,' the human said.
'First you let us pass.'
'No. You let the children go, before we let you go anywhere.'
'If we let them go, how do we know you will let us go?'
'You have my word.'
This was too good to be true. Ilomzkhorn knew better than to believe the word
of this human, while the human was between him and the way out. He needed time
to think.
'Who are you to give me your word?'
'I am Gorm Ogrebane af Ulvested, Protektor af Straaensmark.'
'I don't know you' Ilomzkhorn kept talking in the hope that some plan would
present itself. It didn't. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that his
second-in-command was having trouble controlling the male dwarf. 'Why should I
believe your word?'
'I don't know, but at the moment, my word is all you have and it's better than
anything you are likely to get.'
Ilomzkhorn considered this. Did he dare trust this ridiculous bargain?
In the end, what little power Ilomzkhorn had had to control the cause of
events was taken away from him. He heard a curse from his second-in-command,
then a thunk and a shout of pain from the dwarf. The annoying little gnat
launched an immediate attack on Ilomzkhorn's leg. Ilomzkhorn tried to shake
him off. Suddenly, the halfling was charging him. He threw the female dwarf at
the charging halfling. It bounced off his shield, but did little to deter him.
Ilomzkhorn tried to maneuver around the halfling with little luck. The cursed
dwarf was still clinging on to his leg. Ilomzkhorn had to fight the halfling
to try to get past. A part of his mind noted with curiosity that the
halfling's battle cries was strangely shrill. Ilomzkhorn took a hit to his
thigh, it almost took off his leg. He couldn't believe the strength of this
halfling  and also he couldn't hit him. Him? Ilomzkhorn died cursing the fact
that he had been defeated not just by a halfling, but by a female halfling.

'After the victory in the cave, Reigen's companions buried him in the
mountains. His grave remains intact to this day.' Old man Duggan always smiled
at this. He had been to visit Reigen's grave several times. He had repaired it
and made sure that it was as solid as it could be, before he had to leave it
again. It pleased him to know that the permanent resting place of his
childrens' savior was safe.
By now all the children were completely absorbed by the tale of Reigen and
Garrulf and Gryn. The story was known throughout Roggaart, but noone told it
as well as their grandfather. They knew, however, that it was coming to its
end.
'Tell us about Reigen's friends, Grandfather.'
'Well, my little ones. That is a story for another time.' Old man Duggan
smiled. 'I think your grandmother is about to serve dinner. Run along and help
her set the table.'
'Yes, Granpapa. We will.' The youngsters ran out in the kitchen. Old man
Duggan leaned back in his chair. Relit his pipe, closed his eyes and thought
about the olden days. A smile managed to penetrate his thick beard.

The end


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