Tales from Forgotten Europa

Of Gods and Monsters

excerpt from the Memoirs of Dorak the Axe Bearer, Thane of Karak Belgrin

The following chronicles a part of one of the more famous quests of a mighty dwarf that once lived in Norska. Though he passed over a millennium ago, his legend lives on…

“9th of Harvestmont, 18,506 Anno Drannorae.”
That Evening

“We have just finished dealing with Vasili’s thugs. Kal is called away on clan business this night, and the rest of us head back to the Inn. There’s a package waiting for Khalid – a few books he had requested back in Odessa. I sense there’s arcane power in them, and when I mention it to Khalid his eyes widen and he quickly excuses himself, leaving me with Raethe alone.”

“I sit at an empty table and call the wench over. Agitated and angry, I give her a piece of eight in cold and ask for a hearty meal, and tell her to keep bringing spirits until I can move no more.”

“The tavern is dim, and though it is late a few locals still linger about finishing the night’s meal. Raethe sits at a table with me and shares the meal, though not touching the spirits.”

“I have my axe laying on the table at my right, still bloody from evening’s events. My shield lays to my left, ready at a moment’s notice, the distant fire’s flames dancing red, yellow and orange on the golden sun. Raethe sits nearby, his hammer, with its scars of desecration on the stone head, propped against the table. I eat in silence for a moment, glancing at my ‘companion’ now and then.”

“Suddenly a large black bird with gold eyes – the Rook that has been following us since Belrael, flies in and sits on the top of Raethe’s hammer. I’m no stranger to omen, and I’ve studied dwarfen religion for a long time. I know what a Rook is… I know what it can mean. Not being able to contain myself any longer, I chug a mug of mead and looking straight at Raethe ask in a steady but deliberate voice: Tell me, dwarfslayer, why are you still here?

“The room goes silent for the moment, as all the patrons freeze and moments later slip out of the tavern, leaving Raethe and me completely alone. They know slayers, and they’ve seen me around, and one way or another they’d rather not be part of this conversation.”

“The Rook flaps its wings once, and an eerie silence surrounded us. I feel more and more there are forces at play here that are beyond my understanding. Raethe looks puzzled for a moment as if not sure why I would ask that question. As I found later, he didn’t realize I did not hear Beordun’s words. I must say I’m puzzled a little as to why everyone BUT me heard the words of my god, but as a priest you learn to accept that gods have their reasons and it isn’t up to me to question them.”

The following section was enciphered with dwarfen runes and did not become legible until a hundred years after Dorak’s passing.

“For reasons understood by all dwarfs, I hid the following from the prying eyes. In a surprising reaction to my question, Raethe did not explode in anger or let his emotions rule his actions as I expected. Instead, he resolved himself to telling me a story – a tale, of who he is and what brought him to his current state. To make the long story short, he had discovered years ago that his clan had turned to chaos, and in the attempt to do the right thing he went on a rampage to try and punish his own clan for turning to chaos. He spent years hunting his clansmen and wiping them out – ruthlessly, mercilessly, and meticulously.”

“Having completed his quest, he turned to madness, trying to end his life in combat, not sure where to go next. And so he sought the slayer king, hoping to find a worthy death and earn admittance to Asgard.”

“As it turns out however, it was Beordun’s right to bring vengeance on his people, and Raethe, having done so himself, took that right away from Our Father. Fortunately (or unfortunately), a single member of Raethe’s clan survived and is in hiding, and as a punishment for Raethe he has been quested to seek him out and protect him, so that the clan can be restored and brought to light again.”

“I do not know what to think. I cannot say I condemn Raethe for what he did entirely, as chaosdwarfs are an affront to everything I stand for. But I know I would have asked for guidance before going on such rampage. He slew his entire clan, and without divine guidance he certainly killed innocents.”

“In any case, it is a hard tale to spin, and a lot to digest for one night. I looked into a distance lost in thought when I saw another vision – of my father years ago. When it faded I felt it was time to get some sleep.”

“I looked at Raethe with a bit of pity, for it seems that he’s been quested to save his clan at all costs, even if it damns him for eternity. If gods have put me on the path of traveling with this dwarf, then who knows? Maybe, just maybe, my task is that much harder – maybe, just maybe, I’m quested to save… him?!”

“In the morning we head out for Moskovia. In the morning I’ll pray to Thorain. In the morning…”

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