Rise of the Runelords

Malkorin 4 - Defective Dwarves

“Hey Malk! Your a Horses Arse!” I heard an especially surly and angry Dwarf call out from across the {local} River. He scared the shit out of me, as I was counting the days Tolls, and I always get a little distracted when looking at coin.

My great family had relegated to me, this grand and auspicious task, to count the kings meager coin, stolen from merchants and refugee’s for the right to use a river that smells like dung and piss. They say their mostly humans, and I shouldn’t feel bad, but theft is theft. The smell makes me mad to.

“Go Fuck yourself. I’m countin here!” I called back to him. My younger brother, Korith. Youngest of 11. I give him alot of shit, but I like him better than most of the flea-bitten clan we call the dark-hammers. Bet you never heard of a family of 11 either. Let’s just say Daddy Dark-hammer keeps a few of the local lasses on the dole. It gets even better cuz none of us even know which is legitimate, and me mother is duller than a box of rocks, and doesn’t even care how many of us little ungrateful shits she needs to take care of.

We are a few miles from the city, so technically this land falls under the Jurisdiction of {Dwarven City}. In reality, outside of a few meager patrols and some trading, we don’t defend this much. Instead we place tolls in all the right places, extracting coin from bandit and beggar alike. The Darkhammer Clan isn’t very powerful or rich in real terms compared to some of the other Dwarven Houses, but we do have the most contacts outside the city walls. The Varsians in particular have always been friendly with us. We often co-travel with their Caravans, trading mead for protection and anonymity as we move among the world of men, making dark deals in the name of the King. The Dwarves don’t like to admit it, but they need us, and what we do. Hell, I don’t like to admit what I do.

“Hey Malk! I’m not kidding. What the fuck you think your doing?” Korith looked concerned

“Hey hey, i’m bagging coin. Bout to head back, but my escort is late.”

“Malk, you can tell me. You been stealing. We know it. We got a Confession from one of your compatriots”

My hair was standing up on the back of my neck. Compatriots? I don’t have any compatriots. I’m not stealing anything. Something weird is going on, and i get nervous when there is weirdness. I notice an old mace in the corner, made for humans but still would do the trick. I hope I don’t have to use it.

“Korith, which compatriot? What kind of nonsense are you speakin?”

“Valor told me, got it right from the mouth of your buddy Dorin. They have him confessin to the king now. You been takin from the tolls for yourself. He ain’t the only witness”.

“Dorin’s a lyin sack of shit! He is either being paid, or doing it just out of spite to save his own skin. I broke one of his teeth last week because he called your sister a whore! He ain’t my buddy, so whatever you heard has nuttin to do with me”

Korith drew his axe, and hefted it uneasily. He turned the blade a bit, position himself to hit me with the flat of it. “Korinth, you don’t know what your doing. Whatever that sucker told you is false”

“I’d like to beleive that Mal. You gonna come quietly.” He raised his axe a little higher, a bit more sure of himself. He was an incredible fighter, but unlike most of our little clan, he has a sense of honor you can only get from being the last man for so long.

I was about to say yes, when I spied about 20 Dwarves in full armor out the corner of my eye behind him.

“Valor is using you Korinth. And he is using me. He is using us all, and one day you’ll realize that. I hope your smart enough to survive until then.”

Before he could react I charged into him, barreling him over and through the wall of the toll booth. He crashed through the gate and slammed into the river with a splash. He struggled in the water, as the current began to push him away.

“I’m sorry.” I doubt he heard me. I certainly heard him cursing me with words that would make his mother blush. I took the sack of coins, bout 400 or so from the days toll collection, grabbed my pack, and quickly mounted the pony tethered nearby. I spent 3 hours pushing the poor thing to exhaustion, just to get that extra measure of safety. Valor’s guards are expert fighters and trackers, and Stubborn as a mule. They will track me for days if they can.

I had a feeling this would happen. Valor’s been weird since Father got sick. We don’t know who the heir is, and he ain’t said to anyone who it could be. I Bet Valor is making the bet that he ain’t it, and so he is trying to eliminate some options. 3 weeks ago my Sister Keilind fell into a well. She takes after her mother, in that she was also as dumb as stone and the easiest target. I bet he’s going after me cuz I’m the most charming of the lot, and because most of the family thinks i’m shit anyways, and won’t be missed. Plus i’m kind of on probation for kicking my Eldest brother Yarkis in the dick after I saw him being an asshole with some commoners. I wonder how they blackmailed Dorin? No surprise, That guy would sell his own mother for a nickel ….

I wake up in a sweat. I stink like a dungeon, sweat and goblins. The goblin smell is the worst. I keep having that dream, which ain’t really a dream, just a thing I can’t shake from my head. Every day I feel like I made the right decision. But Korinth doesn’t deserve what happened to him … maybe i should write him a letter or something? Next time a goblin hits me with fire, I might not wake up ….

alright. We ain’t done with this pony ride yet. Get your game face on. We got a daemon whore to kill. And my fucking hat is dirty.

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BryanCWinter

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