And so I was cast away, only because I stood up to my father.
Wandering around in the forests brought me, unknowingly, close to a party of dwarfs. Observing them from afar I tracked their movements.
“Lítill, how did you miss that deer? It jumped right in front of you!” “Well if I was any taller Heimsk it’d have hit me.”
Laughter rang through the forest. “Lads let’s get a move on before it gets colder, we should make camp up near…” “Friends,” I shouted, “Might I accompany you to your camp?” Immediately, they surrounded me, despite them being stocky they can move fast if need be. I approached them from afar, as a startled dwarf becomes easily enraged.
“And who might you be sneaking around in the forest?” The one they called Heimsk asked, “Do you intend to lead us into an ambush?” “No, I do not. My father cast me out as I dared to suggest to him that he is not a worthy leader.” Surprise crossed each of their faces, Litill asked, “Are you Afbera, the son of Ulfur?” “I am,” I responded, “I suggested to him that the Dark Alfar are slowly taking over the land. They bargained with my father, gave him gold, and he gave up protecting the lowlands. They have left the city and have stretched out their influence up until the fort Tod”
“That’s concerning lad,” said the leader of the party, who had a crooked nose, a scar starting above his right eye and ending under his right eye. He was fitted with the best armor, weapons, and had the largest gold necklace of any dwarf present. “I’m Rúbínsteinn, son of Grár, who is king under the mountain, for now. But this is not the place to talk politics, your words seem true, let us see if your actions are, make camp lads!”
Away they went.
Dwarves, if given the opportunity will erect any structure in a rapid fashion. Pretty soon a fire was roaring, each member, including myself, was provided shelter from the wind and cold. Sitting there waiting for the rabbits to finish cooking Rúbínsteinn asked, “Afbera, my father is not well. The Dark Alfar visited just last summer and he has become increasingly ill. I fear that he will pass before long leaving me king under the mountain.”
“That is ominous,” I replied, “I am sorry to hear of it.” Snorting indignation at my concern he said, “We shouldn’t have entreated them to a welcome but showed only our blades to their throats. But that is the past lad, we have to look forward to the future and hope we are prepared. You have the first watch,” he said as he grabbed his fur blankets and promptly fell asleep.
Surprised at his promptness in giving orders I complied, though concerned as I only had a knife, my father did not give me time to take my belongings.
Making sure to stay awake I began to whittle at a piece of wood from the firewood. Slowly away I carved at it, until another dwarf awoke and told me to turn in.
“Up and at it lad!” cried Rúbínsteinn, kicking me awake, “We must get going, I fear we are being tracked.” Quickly the party of dwarves, numbering twelve in total, made up the camp and were ready to march.
“What will you do lad?” asked Rúbínsteinn, “You have no home, no people and are armed with a knife.” “You’re very blunt your highness” I replied, noting that as I said that he stiffened, “I was wondering if you’d have any use for a castout prince.”
“Perhaps lad, perhaps” said Rúbínsteinn, becoming quiet as we continued to march. A dwarf of few words it seemed, though they are noted to become quite talkative once given a pint of beer. Though those were just stories, my people have never been able to sit down with a dwarf without first fighting them, or stealing from their mines.
Onwards we marched, it seemed like forever. Dwarves are capable of marching long distances. Despite my stature I quickly realized that they can outpace any man from my kingdom. As we marched onwards we came to a clearing, we finally came off of the mountain and were able to see the flatlands, which was desolate.
Suprised, as I haven’t visited the flatlands for over a year since the Dark Alfar invaded, I noticed the ruins of an old market town which was under the protection of my father. Slowly becoming enraged I wondered away from the dwarves…
We were in charge of protecting this land, I thought. There was a thriving market town on the banks of the river, barges floating up and down the river moving goods…
“Lad, what is wrong?” said Rúbínsteinn, running up to me. “One shouldn’t wander alone. This land is more dangerous now than it has ever been.” Turning I smiled at my new friend, “You’re right, we should make it to that outcropping and stop for a rest.” Rúbínsteinn nodded in agreement and turning to the other dwarves, “lads let’s set up camp for a bit!” Marching quickly I finally set my pack down, thankful for a rest.
Without warning, a war horn sounded, and we heard the war cries of our Alfar foes. “Alfar! Dark Alfar,” yelled Rúbínsteinn, “To arms lads, we’re surrounded!”
We were quickly overcome, barely able to arm ourselves before we were in the heat of battle. They were quick, these Dark Alfar, stabbing, twisting and trying to catch us off balance. Lucky I’ve been in several battles but armed with only a dagger it was more dodging and running than fighting.
The Dwarves, however, had a shirt of mail over a leather jerkin which would stop the blade if a foe hacked at them, but this was different. Quickly, several dwarves fell. “Back to back,” yelled Rúbínsteinn, “they can’t dance around us then.” Quickly they surrounded me raising their swords and axes and using their shields to form a circular wall.
The Dark Alfar were unable to penetrate our defenses. When they attacked us they wore no armor, just leather jerkins, swords, and daggers. A dozen of them ambushed us but they weren’t able to penetrate our defenses. Several of the Dwarves suffered from minor cuts but so did the Alfar and we had one serious casualties.
“Dwarves and Human,” spat a Dark Alfar, “What are you doing this far from home? Don’t you know it’s dangerous at night?” Rúbínsteinn yelled, “What do you want Alfar? We did not provoke you.”
“No, you are correct dwarf, we just wanted to have a bit of fun and to bring a message,” as the Alfar said this he threw a large scroll at our feet. “Do not look for hope. There is none. Soon your land will be taken from you and your cities lie in ruins.” Yelling something in a foreign language the Dark Alfar quickly disappeared into the night.
“Start a fire laddie,” said Rúbínsteinn to the youngest dwarf, then turning to me he said, “Afbera, are you a decent healer?” “Lad!” Shaking me from my daze, I’ve never been in a real battle, some raids but nobody died. I tended to minor wounds before but nothing to the extent of this. “I will do what I can,” quickly rummaging for supplies I went to one dwarf. Stabbed in the neck and covered in blood, he did not seem to be alive. The other three suffered the same having been stabbed in the weak points of their armor, the neck, leg, or face. Quickly binding their wounds I yelled for him. “Rúbínsteinn, the Dwarf that fell is dead and the only proper thing to do is to bury him.”
“Very well,” said Rúbínsteinn, “we should bury him but let’s set a night watch.” Several of the Dwarves began to fortify our position and the others set to bury their dead friend. “Laddie,” said Rúbínsteinn coming closer to me, “we need to discuss what we should do. What does the scroll say?” Opening it up I saw that it was written in the old language of men. Knowing that my father would be able to read it I pondered whether or not to go back to him…
As night turned into day our party awoke from slumber. Looking for Rúbínsteinn I was resolved to talk with him on what to do next. “Rúbínsteinn,” I called looking for him amongst the sleeping dwarves. Hearing my name I found him standing watch. “Afbera,” he responded, “What is it? You seem deep in thought.” Nodding I told him of my plan, how my father who cast me out knows the old language and perhaps he can decipher the contents of the scroll. “Hold on laddie,” said Rúbínsteinn, “dwarves and men do not get along. How do you know we’ll be accepted into his kingdom?”
I didn’t I told him…