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The Chronicles Of Elberen Book II: Rise Of The Vhorn - Chapter 1

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<Scene=> After many days, our heroes find themselves entering the lowlands before the mighty Dragonspine Mountains.

Grondthanc <has gone through many cigars and is puffing on one at the moment.>

<Scene=> Vrak and the other Trall stand beside Andel and Grond, though Grond seems to lead.

<Andel> How much farther is it, Grond? Is there no end to these mountains?

<Vrak> We will see the fortress soon, knife-ears. Now shut up.

Andel scowls, but closes his mouth.

<Grondthanc> Then we best speed up, your pace is rather...sluggish Vrak.

Grondthanc <Grins>

<Vrak> Only because I wait for you, outcast. You march like an old woman....

Grondthanc <chuckles>

<Andel> Grond, do you have any rations left? Mine have....disappeared.

Andel looks over at one of Vrak's lackeys, who stops chewing and tries to look innocent.

Grondthanc <tosses Andel a raw onion.>

Andel sighs and figures it's better than nothing and nibbles at it.

<Scene=> The narrow canyon you are in turns a corner and then you see it - The high stone walls and mighty pillars of Dharfang - the Foe-Breaker.

Grondthanc <takes out his cigar and his orange eyes widen slightly.>

<Vrak> Feast your eyes, knife-ears. Few of your kind ever live to see Dharfang.

<Vrak> And fewer still ever leave.

<Andel> It's....enormous!

<Grondthanc> Its made by Trall...what did you expect?

<Andel> I knew it would be big...but I long did it take the Trall to build this place??

<Vrak> A hundred years....a blink of an eye.

Grondthanc <nods>

Andel shakes his head in disbelief as he regards the impossibly high battlements and guard towers. There is no finesse here, no embelishments...only functional surroundings. Best-suited for stopping an army.

<Grondthanc> Well Vrak the fist eater...shall we head in?

Vrak scowls and growls under his breath at Grond's jibe.

<Vrak> My orders, outcast, are that you are to meet with the High Chieftain by yourself...and any companions you may have...who can stand you.

Andel 's face falls at the mention of the word, 'companions'. His eyes well up and he looks at his feet.

<Grondthanc> are not going to hold our hands on the way in?

<Grondthanc> Not even lead us down the stairs?

<Vrak> I'm only to prevent you from leaving Dharfang, outcast. You know the way to your father's throne room, I'm sure.

Grondthanc <puffs some smoke towards Vrak and pats Andel on the back "Come Red-wolf...

Grondthanc heads off towards the door

<Andel> Y-Yes....I....I will come with you.

Andel starts to follow Grond, but stops and turns to look up at the darkening sky. "I am sorry, Tain.." he breathes before hurrying on. Vrak watches the two for long moments as they leave toward the great gates.

Grondthanc walks up to the massive gate and knocks on it with one of his enormous fists.

<Scene=> A loud, authoritative voice echoes from somewhere beyond the door.

<DoorWarden> Who dares seek audience with the High Chieftain?

<Grondthanc> His son...Grondthanc! The one who was thrown out 12 or so years ago!

<Grondthanc> And a mighty warrior who spits heads with a mere touch!

<DoorWarden> That name is the name of exile. The name of an outcast. Why should you be allowed entry, outcast? You are not of our clan!

<Grondthanc> I was summoned...I don't know why but I have been.

<Scene=> There is only silence beyond the door for a long moment, then the massive doors open silently to reveal a long, dark hall.

<Grondthanc> At last...follow me Andel.

Grondthanc thuds through the door

<Andel> Andel runs to keep up with Grond down the long, dark hall. "Are you sure you remember the way?"

<Grondthanc> Its pretty simple...we go down the stairs and then down the highway about 2 miles.

<Andel> Two miles?!?

<Grondthanc> Yes! Now come friend!

Grondthanc takes off down the massive stairs

<Scene=> The odd duo travel for what seems like many hours. They pass many Trall, but most of them bow their heads and hurry on, looking....fearful?

<Andel> What is...what is wrong with everyone?

Grondthanc reachs the bottom of the stairs and dusts off himself "I have no clue...this is very un-trall."

Andel looks around, trying to drink in all the sights but everywhere he sees Trall speaking in hushed tones and looking nervously over their shoulders.

<Andel> They certainly don't act like you, Grond...

<Grondthanc> And why is that?

<Andel> I don't think I've ever seen you look nervous for an instant....

<Andel> These Trall look....terrified.

Grondthanc <begins to walk again down the massive square tunnel that is the Dharfang highway still looking down at Andel.

<Grondthanc> This is a bit..unsettling, perhaps some accident or cave in...nothing we have not dealed with before.

Andel 's eyes go wide at the sight of the grand thoroughfare rising several hundred feet above them, lit by luminescent crystals at regular intervals. In spite of himself, he gasps at the sheer beauty.

Grondthanc throws his cigar to the side as it has now become a stump.

<Andel> You grew up here?!?

<Grondthanc> Not in the highway of course not...

<Grondthanc> This is a simple road!

<Andel> I...I mean....simple road? I've never seen it's match! They don't have roads like this even in Aranorn!

<Grondthanc> BAHAHA! Thats because humans made them...Trall hate to be out done.

Andel blinks and shakes his head in mute amazement. They traverse the luminous thoroughfare for another hour before they reach a mighty carved arch of impossible skill and beauty....strange lights in a thousand colors emanate from beyond....

<Andel> What is beyond that arch? The lights....what are they?

<Grondthanc> Oh thats Dharfang...or at least the lights of Dharfang.

<Andel> You mean we haven't even reached Dharfang, yet??

<Grondthanc> Not at all...this is far to narrow, far to small...this is a jewlery box compared in size to Dharfang.

Andel boggles as they pass through the arch to behold an enormous cavern - far larger and more vast than anything Andel can remember ever seeing before. A million stalagmites and stalactites, luminous with glowing fungus and crystalline growths, illuminate the cavern like a vast sea of stars. And in the center...a fortress like no other....

<Grondthanc> Ah yes...the fortess of Dharfang, more like a nation than a fortress.

<Grondthanc> 60,000 Trall....multiple districts....and of course the waterway.

Andel sinks to his knees in awe at the spectacle before him. Dharfang rests between two gargantuan pinnacles of black stone, a surround thick enough for a hundred wagons to ride abreast cradling it. Crenellations and battlements adorn every tower and everywhere, Tralls march....Trall dressed in plate armor.

Andel looks confused for a moment. "I...Trall don't wear they?"

<Grondthanc> Not since the last war with dragons...

<Andel> Then why.....? *he points*

<Grondthanc> I have not the slightest clue....see that there? *points to the titanic 3 towers that make up the citadel of zirzak*

<Andel> What is it? I've never seen anything like that....

<Grondthanc> Its a big metal and stone hunk but thats not the important part...whats important is my father more than likely is there right now.

<Andel> You mean we have to climb.....*his eyes slowly travel up and up*.....up there?

<Grondthanc> Yes...and go through some other districts on the way.

<Grondthanc> This is a large place Red-Wolf start to accept it

<Andel> I....well, yes....but....perhaps a rest first? We've been marching since dawn and it feels like it's nearing the evening hour now....

<Grondthanc> Hmmm, fine then...lets find a bench or something once we get inside the walls.

Grondthanc thuds towards the utterly massive fortress

Andel nods gratefully and hurries after Grond. Before too long, they find themselves standing before a massive gate. A full regiment of armed and armored Trall stand in front, and far overhead, more Trall warriors stand ready to rain down death upon any attackers. The Trall who looks to be in charge growls at them as they approach.

<Harzu> Halt! State your name and business or die, scum!

<Grondthanc> Grondthanc Son of Grandthanc II desendent of Zirzak!

<Harzu> You lie! Grondthanc is dead! Years ago! After he was exiled!

<Grondthanc> Hah! Have had some close calls but I still draw breath!

<Harzu> If you are Grondthanc, tell me what happened when Sika of Clan Bloodhammer tried to take Aven Hate-flyer as his mate?

<Grondthanc> He got his hair braided to a Granthor's backside and was sent into the abyss of course!

<Scene=> Harzu doubles over laughing and then stands to clap Grond on the shoulder.

<Harzu> By stone and blood, it IS you! I thought you dead you whelp!

Grondthanc <gives a sharp trall toothed grin>

<Grondthanc> As stated I have had my share of close calls! And Harzu my old friend, how many splendid scars you have now!

<Harzu> Not nearly enough...boring as hell's frozen teets around here...everyone's scared. SCARED, can you believe it?

<Grondthanc> Do they have any damn reason to be? There are 60,000 Trall in Dharfang!

Harzu steps away from the others for a moment and whispers to Grond. "It's the Vhorn. They have everyone terrified. With good reason, I guess.

Grondthanc orange eyes narrow "The Vhorn? Since when where they more than children stories?"

<Grondthanc> Or a sighting here and there with not proof?

<Harzu> Since they attacked and destroyed most of the northern outposts.

<Harzu> Your father....

Grondthanc looks to Harzu in the eyes

<Harzu> I will say no more...your father will want to speak to you himself.

<Grondthanc> Then my friend and I are free to come in I assume?

<Harzu> Can...Can you vouch for this...your friend?

<Grondthanc> Of course I can...he can shatter a skull with once touch of his fist!

Harzu looks down at Andel with skeptical eyes.

<Harzu> .....If you say so. Very well, in you go. And Grond?

<Grondthanc> Eh?

<Harzu> It is good to have you back. Even after all....well, everything. Good to have you back.

Grondthanc nods with a grin and pats Harzu's back "This way Andel."

Grondthanc heads in through the opening gate

<Harzu> Grond! One more thing! Watch out for Goliath....

<Grondthanc> Goliath...what of him?

Grondthanc turns around

<Harzu> He...well, things have changed since you left.

<Grondthanc> Has he gotten taller?

<Harzu> He's the leader of your father's guard now.

<Grondthanc> Hmmm, seems he earned it...well lets see how things play out.

<Harzu> They call themselves the Darkwatch. Don't turn your back on him.

<Grondthanc> Andel stay close your going into Dharfang now *beckons the Elden*

Andel swallows hard and follows the Trall, looking like a child among giants.

Grondthanc heads off in the direction the the center of the metropolis, to the citadel.

Andel follows Grond for another impossibly long march up a long spiralling roadway packed with warrior Trall. Everywhere are sights strange and beautiful, even terrifying at times. Grond speaks in a non-stop babble of information, proud as he is of Dharfang. Eventually, they are ushered into a grand hall surrounded by black pillars.

Andel spies a massive throne of bones - trophies won in battle - in the center of the hall. Guardian Trall dressed in black armor stand every few feet on the sides of the great hall, silent and menacing.

Andel looks and sees a massive and aged Trall sitting in the throne. His somber eyes closed beneath a troubled brow.

Grondthanc looks at the Trall his orange eyes glow in the dimly lit room.

Andel draws in a sharp breath as the figure slowly opens it's luminous red eyes. The Trall's voice is deep and rings through the mighty hall. Such a voice is the voice of one who stood at the head of armies on windblown battlefields. It is the voice of command....yet weary.

<Grandthanc> You. Have come at last.

Grondthanc stays silent for a moment, he can't find words at first.

<Grondthanc> Hello father.

<Grandthanc> When last we spoke, 'father' was not a word you used.

<Grondthanc> Yes I called you a stingy bastard...

<Scene=> A massive Trall in dark armor steps out of the shadows, a drawn battle axe in his enormous fists. His voice thunders throughout the hall like a volcanic explosion.

<Goliath> You dare insult the High Chieftain?

Andel 's eyes widen as he takes in the sight of the wickedly sharp battleaxe large enough to be used as a shield for a human.

Grondthanc has a glimpse of fear...FEAR in his orange eyes

<Grandthanc> *holds up a hand* Peace, Goliath. I did not call you.

Goliath glowers and steps back, his yellow eyes glaring at Grond.

<Grondthanc> Why did you bring me back here father?

<Grandthanc> Because, my son....I am too old for exiles and outcasts.

<Grandthanc> I wanted to look upon your face one more time...

<Grandthanc> Before I die.

Grondthanc eyes scan the halls and doorways as if looking for someone then he looks to Grandthanc his eyes become deep and still.

<Grandthanc> You will have heard of our troubles?

<Grondthanc> Its been hard to hear of anything...I have been in the Eldenwood for the past 13 years.

<Grandthanc> The Eldenwood? So it is have grown soft.

<Grandthanc> I feard it was so. Goliath said as much...

<Grondthanc> I had my house torn down by Ghul then killed it with a table...thats the only reason why your dog Vrak found me.

<Grandthanc> If you wished to remain hidden from your people, Why did you come back?

<Grondthanc> Because I was dragged back by Vrak and his lackeys, thats why.

<Grandthanc> I were dragged here by a mere handful of lesser warriors....

<Andel> That was hardly the case, your...uh....majesty!

Grondthanc growls and runs his hand through his hair thinking of something to say.

<Andel> Grond is the fiercest warrior I have ever seen! He is a valiant and brave warrior and none can question his courage!

<Goliath> Faugh! Your son has brought a trained dog to speak for him!

Grondthanc looks to Andel not having such words of kindness thrown his way in over 13 years.

<Goliath> My chieftain, we do not need this outcast! Let the Darkwatch have the honor!

<Scene=> Grandthanc looks thoughtful....

Grondthanc snarls under his breath and speaks "I came more so to see my other family members...more than you due to your warm welcome of slanderers."

<Goliath> You have no family, outcast. No clan. You are less than dung.

Andel gasps and winces, knowing full well what Grond's temper is like.

<Grondthanc> Perhaps you should take a break from jousting Goliath you seem to have taken a few to many shattered lances to the head...

Goliath 's eyes glow with barely-restrained fury.

<Goliath> Just give me an excuse outcast....just one excuse.

<Andel> Er...Grond...maybe we should come back another time.

<Grondthanc> No, I wish to know what I'm here for and perhaps see family that is happy to see my again.

<Grandthanc> You are protect your people. We have...a new enemy.

Grondthanc crosses his arms and listens to the old Trall.

<Grandthanc> They call themselves the Vhorn. They have killed and taken captive all the outlying cavernsteads. And we have yet to see one face to face.

<Grondthanc> Then send an army down each tunnel and kill them all it works with all other invaders.

<Grandthanc> We have. None have returned.

Grondthanc orange eyes widen at the thought of an entire Trall army wiped out

<Grandthanc> Therefore, I have decided...

<Grandthanc> I myself will march out against our enemy. I will die protecting my people.

<Goliath> My chieftain! Let the Darkwatch fight at your side!

<Grondthanc> And you bring me here why? I will do what I am told if anything is to be given in return...

<Grandthanc> I do not son to die as an outcast.

<Grandthanc> I offer you the chance to reclaim your name.

Grondthanc nods "And how..."

<Grandthanc> We will march to the northernmost caverns and beyond.

<Grandthanc> We will bring the fight to the Vhorn.

<Grandthanc> If you survive, you will no longer be an outcast.

<Grondthanc> I see...SO do I get my old room back? Do I get a huge new weapon? Do I perhaps even get to see more family?

<Grandthanc> If you wish to see family, I will not stop you.

<Grandthanc> As for a weapon....I had one made for you when....Just before you....left.

<Grondthanc> You did now?

Grandthanc motions and another Trall brings forth a large chest.

Grondthanc eyes lock on the chest.

<Grandthanc> I had hoped that one day you would use this to....

<Grandthanc> Yes...I had hopes then.

<Grandthanc> Open it.

Grondthanc opens the chest slowly to look at the contents.

Andel gasps in awe at the exquisite deadliness of the long, black war-axe, crafted of some polished obsidian-like volcanic stone. Runes dance along it's razor-sharp edges. No finer weapon could possibly exist. A name is graven upon the handle....'Thadrak'.

<Grondthanc> Thadrak...remarkable craft. These runes look like the ones on my necklac- *stops himself*

<Grandthanc> see? I have not forgotten all, my son.

Grondthanc nods for awhile and finally comes up with the words "Thank you, I'll put it to good use."

<Grandthanc> See that you do, Grondthanc. is up to you, now.
Grandthanc doubles over in a violent coughing fit.

Grondthanc catchs his father under the arm

<Grondthanc> Don't die on us yet you still have filth to kill.

<Grandthanc> Ha! That I do! We will go forth in glorious battle, you and I!

Grondthanc pats his father's shoulder and leads the elden towards some upward stairs to the right of the throne to his former chambers

Andel follows Grond, but looks back where he sees Goliath's glowing yellow eyes staring after them...and they do not look pleased.

Grondthanc remains silent as he thuds up the stairs gripping Thadrak

<Andel> The's amazing...your father made that for you?

<Grondthanc> I assume he did *turns onto a level reaching the top of the stairs*

Andel runs to catch up "So...he knew you would return?"

<Grondthanc> He knew I missed my family...Trall have feelings how ever hard they try and hide them sometimes.

Andel digests this new thought as he walks beside the hulking Trall.

<Grondthanc> Here we are

Grondthanc stops in front of a door.

Andel looks up at Grond "Where is this?"

<Grondthanc> Hope the view hasn't was my favorite part of having this room.

<Andel> This is YOUR room?

<Grondthanc> Not the door...but yes beyond it.

<Andel> least we can count on this one staying in one piece....*grins*

Grondthanc grins back and opens the door to reveal the chamber

Andel gasps as a massive, hulking shape smashes into Grond, knocking him to the ground and pinning him there. A giant, reptilian creatures hisses and opens it's maw, dripping saliva, to devour the Trall's head.....


"There are kinds of action, for good or ill, that lie so far outside the boundaries of normal behavior that they force us, in acknowledging that they have occurred, to restructure our own understanding of reality. We have to make room for them."

~Guy Gavriel Kay "The Summer Tree"
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