Age of Worms
Grund a surprising eloquent savage
Death, Birth and Beheading
Under the Iron Mountains the 3rd Son of the chisel sharpener Bol was born. The child was born not to the loving arms of a mother but was cut from the strangled corpse of the mother. The mother Ásta barely out of childhood had met Bol and fell in love with the chisel sharpener. Bol told Ásta of his wife’s many lovers and her wicked ways. All his lies had the kernel of truth to them for when he described a sordid affair he simply substituted his loving wife for his depraved actions.
Ásta heart swelled with pity and love and in folly conceived a child with Bol. At first Bol was supportive of Ásta but when she began to increase he disappeared and refused to acknowledge her. Ásta became more and more desperate as the date neared and sent one last letter threatening to write her cousin the captain if Bol did not honor his duty as father. Bol was enraged that this harpy would blackmail him and after a night of drinking he went to her to confront her. Words turned into fists, and fists, turned into the deadly grip and Ásta’s breathed no more.
What Bol did not know was Ásta had sent for her cousin the captain already and the captain appeared dreadfully late. To late to save sweet Ásta but soon enough to bludgeon Bol into submission and call for the doctor. The doctor being wise in his craft knew how to cut from sweet Ásta the child and turn double defeat into a tragic singularity. The child who would become Grund was saved and a place was made for him with the deep wardens which is the custom with orphans and the Dwarves. The child would raised, trained and put into battle first to protect the homeland.
Bol’s end came swiftly a fortnight later as justice was administered by a sharp Urgrosh of the law which separated his lying head from his lecherous torso.
No birthday cake awaited Grund on his 11th birthday. He was living rough in the spaces between the beasts of the caves and the forges of the dwarves. For it was the custom of the children of stone to let the beasts be the chaffing bowl separating those of merit from those without. In this way the clans did not caudle the tainted children and embrace their weakness. With the madness of a cold hungry body Grund slipped back into his birth city.
Creeping and inching he approached a closed shop stall. The stall was hastily locked that day and mechanism was never fully clasped. Loosening the chains revealed a dozen meat pies that Grund tore into hastily. Grund should not have tarried feasting on his ill gotten goods for as he bit into the second pie a light from a nearby house went on and a cry of Thief went out.
Grabbing pies Grund took off down an alley way to escape the pursuit of the watch. First a left turn than a right until he did not know which direction the keep wall he had previously scaled was. His head turned as he heard baying of hounds start up behind him and he ran straight into the chest of the Captain, Cousin of his ill fated mother. Who grabbed him by the scruff of his neck.
Recognition flashed in the Captain’s mind and when the watch and their dogs caught up with Grund he stayed their hands saying he will personally met out justice tonight. He spoke, welcome Cousin’s Son, it is good to see you still live. I will beat you tonight not because you are a thief but because you were caught. Survival of our clan requires those who attempt succeed at all costs. Let this be a lesson to you. At that the Captain tied him to a tree and beat him savagely. After the twentieth blow Grund gratefully lost consciousness and the Captain poured liquor on his wounds so they would heal. He instructed the watch to carry the boy outside the fort and deposit the body where the beasts of the wild would not find it. As Grund was carried away the Captain whispered happy birthday Cousin’s son.
The Feast at the Stone
Every year at the end of winter when food is at the scarcest the clan gathers at the stone table. A great quantity of food is piled up in the center of the table. The oldest among the children are given whips and are entrusted with defending the food and all food remaining will be theirs. While the younger children are permitted as much food as they can carry. The oldest remembering being on the other end of the whip are merciless and the younger children attack in waves like hyenas. All are driven by the madness of hunger.
At the age of 14 Grund won the approval of the crowd by accepting the whip and running to the table where it took the combined effort of seven of the older children to bring him to a standstill. Grund was savagely beat but still crawled to the table and sunk his teeth into a shank of ham before losing consciousness. The other younger children took the opportunity of his beating to make off with a great quantity of food and Grund and the older children went hungry that year. After the feast, Grund was given a new cloak and his wounds were tended to and from a distance the Captain kept watch ensuring no animals attacked during the night. In the cold morning air, Grund limped off into the wilds.
Foul Stirrings in the Woods
In the fading sunlight of Oerth when all fair folk trembled to find out if the nightmares of the Age of Wyrms would come to pass or if the shadow would recede before all that is splendid and good disappears, two bears met in the forest. The forest was the sacred forest where the holy mother Beory’s blood first touched the soil in her joyous dance and gave birth to the oldest and fairest trees. For in these trees Beory’s goodness and love shine truer and deeper than in all other trees throughout Oerth. The bears were drawn to this spot for one reason to extract vengeance.
For in this most holy of holy forests a group of men from the Free City had been felling trees to quench the insatiable hunger of their forges. They plundered that which was beautiful and beyond value to produce death and pestilence in the swords and linked metal hooped armor. Hills that had stood as gentle witnesses to the slipping of time were torn open and made bare to the sun. Where the wren sang to the glory of the morning now only the sound endless groaning of gears remained.
The bears saw within each other the fire of righteous fury and knew in an instance the mother of all has blessed them and given each of them the gift they desired the most, the power to end the pillage of the sacred forest. For with teeth and claws joined together in a hallowed cleansing the cruel implements of men could not prevail. Each roared in triumph and with an easy heart they ran towards the camp of men.
In a savage charge, the two burst open the gate, but inside the fort something was wrong. Where they had expected men with sword and shield they only found the shambling walking dead. These abominations mock the holy mother who is life personified, but these corpses are nothing but echoes. Echoes, who feed on the living to carry on their perverted hatred. Both now understood the holy mother’s greater message; make Oerth safe again for the living, my children. The battle for the fortress raged for hours. Many woodland creatures called to aid the bears gave their lives so the lives of their cubs, hatchlings, and calfs would be safe. When the last abomination was rent asunder and the quivering walking flesh was mawed to a pulp both bears looked at each other and started walking.
Perhaps, the men brought this evil with them from the Free City…