The onslaught continues, droves of goblins surging against the raised earthen mounds. They struggle for purchase on the slick dirt, sodden with the blood of fallen comrades, pushing with but one goal. Surmount the wall and breach within! The overwhelming urge to fight and kill steels their courage against the arrows, daggers and magic assaulting their ranks as they advance. Shouts to Tiw can be heard echoing out towards them, encouraging their enemies and rallying their foes morale.
Within the keep, Griven continues to struggle against the mental fatigue creeping into his body with each cast spell. His arm still hangs limp against his side, though the pain of it plagues not his mind as the rejuvenating magic of Cynric holds the pain at bay. The newly found ability within thankfully grants a brief reprieve in spaces as the coldfire blasts carve out the goblin ranks. The motions have become routine, the act of casting more difficult, the matrices harder to form in his mind.
Behind, the shouts of a dwarf can be heard approaching, a voice eerily familiar but impossible to be. Sparing a moment to turn from the tides before him, Griven is shocked to see the form of Hald Austri Giantsbane hustling forward towards the gates, a look of shocked concern and disbelief on his face. Another spell let loose, another pack of goblins fall before the roiling coldfire as the flickering blue-white flames dance across the trodden surface of the snow, coalescing into a finite point before bursting outward with violent and consuming force.
Suddenly an impossibly loud bellow rolls out over the battlefield, rage and pain mingled together as one. The goblin forces stop their press and glance about in distress. The Hearth Knights find the pressure easing and giving way as the goblins turn from their all-encompassing goal and flee from the embattled keep. As the shout subsides, the rumble felt under foot gains it’s own substance as the galloping sound of hundreds of feet rushing away in unison fills the ears of the gallant defenders.
Moans suddenly filled the yard as the fallen bodies of the goblin horde rose from their temporary slumber. As one they moved quickly forward towards the tower at the far end of the keep. A brief battle erupted as the knights and their companions quickly removed the new threat from the within.
The words of the dwarf lord come thru much clearer now as he approaches the gates. Griven hops down from the wooden ledge allowing him a vantage point to see the events transpiring within and outside the keep. “Brother…? The dwarf at the gate is his brother?” For the first time since apparating to Malosian’s sanctuary and finding the keep besieged, a crack appears in the determined visage of Griven, the strained rage and hatred lurking in his eyes slowly dispersing with the goblins before him. “What is this? His brother? Oh…what have I done? What have my actions done? Does he live?”
Traveling in the shadow of Hald Giantsbane, it is difficult to see if the chest of the fallen dwarf rises and lowers beneath the red platemail encasing the still form. Austri drops to a knee, the pain within etched starkly on his face as he reaches down to his kin. “Look at what my actions have done…this could have been the fate of all within this keep. My own arrogance, my own need, my anger could have cost all of these their lives. Yes, I, we, need the mask back in our possession but was the risk worth the lives of those here?” Within, the well of anger which had previously been fueling Griven’s actions begins to subside, the stark reality of past moments finally catching up to an emotionally fatigued mind. “I’m sorry, Emeric. I’ve let my own arrogance and pain drive my actions. I’ve lost myself, my beliefs, with you. I can still help though. I can try and fix what has happened, what I’ve done.”
“I’m sorry, it was my hand which caused this folly.”
Austri looked up, confused, as the people within the keep approached the gates. “What do you speak of,” asked the Hald, confused. “What do you mean?”
“Your brother came before these gates with a force of goblins at his back and demanded we tell him about things unknown to us. He wished to know about the dungeons that reside here.” Steeling himself, knowing the next words to be the most difficult, Griven continued, “He said should we tell him then he would let us leave this place, our lives intact. Else wise, our souls were forfeit and all within this keep would die.”
“This is impossible. Why would he come forward with a force to do such a thing…”, Austri responded. As the defender’s continued their conversation in earnest, Griven kneeled beside the still form of Austri’s brother and unslung the bag of healer’s herbs. Thuringil approached and watched as Griven began his ministrations, lending a hand as the two of them worked to heal the grievous wounds inflicted. “I can still make this right…”
Elf and man worked quickly as the discussion continued. As they progressed, the whispers of hundreds of voices began creeping thru the courtyard. Glancing up from his work and looking out the gates only mere feet away, Griven spied the bodies of all the fallen goblins standing up at once from the chaotic state of repose they had adopted as their consciousness fled from the world. All turned to face inward, their mouths opening as one and speaking, “Let my contingent leave untouched and all here shall remain unharmed.” The unnerving eyes of the undead watched in silence as the people within continued.
Slowly the awakening noises of the still dwarf interrupted the vocal discussion taking place. “I believe that your brother may speak for himself in these matters, now.” All turned to look at the recovering dwarf, as Hald Austri Giantsbane turned his eyes in judgement. All but Griven, who’s stunned eyes suddenly lit up in concern, remembering the bodies rising. “Emeric…” The wind whipped at the retreating robes of the blue-skinned mage as his retreating form rushed across the courtyard towards the sanctuary where he had left his brother.