“The King of the Dwarves”

by Merric Blackman

“The King of the Dwarves” is copyright 1994 Merric Blackman. Permission is granted to distribute and copy this document for non-profit purposes.

Being the second part of the “Fall of the Forest” cycle.

Darkness grips the Great Forest. A single messenger rides on a mission of greatest urgency, towards the Ghavron Mountains, which lie in the west.

The messenger reaches the fortress home of the Dwarven King as a great peal of thunder rocks the land. The guards on duty grip their their axes more tightly as the rider comes into view.

“Who are ye?” they challenge, uneasy with the darkness–for dawn shows no sign of being near, even though the water-clocks say differently.

“I bring a message from the Master of the Forest,” the messenger responds. “Please let me in to see your King.”

“Larissa?” asks the younger of the two dwarves, “Is that you?”

Larissa has now come within range of the torchlight, and her grim visage is revealed to the guards. Suddenly, they are all action as they open the gates of the fortress and usher her inside. Her exhausted steed is seen to, and the King is summoned. Soon Larissa stands in the Throne room, facing the King and his councilors. No fanfare was played when the King entered–and the audience commences, the sounds of the Fortress being readied can be heard.

“Your Majesty,” says Larissa, “I am sent by my Master to beseech your aid. The Beast of whom the prophecy speaks now walks in the Dark Lands. We will need all of your strength to hold him out.”

The King of the Dwarves studies Larissa. He notes the fear in her–and understands the cause. “We shall help all we can. What do you need from us?”

“Your Majesty, we need the warriors you command to aid us in making raids on the enemy. Your warriors know all of the tunnels which your ancestors made long ago to aid in the defense of the Great Forest. We need that knowledge now. The master also said that we should heed your words, for you also know lore that we do not.”

“Your master is wise,” says the King, “and he does well by us. We shall send our warriors to aid you, though, if the time of the prophecy is upon us, I fear that they shall help little.

“Your master also knows of the plans we have made. He talked with us a long time ago, as we prepared for this time. The Kird Apes shall be summoned from the mountains to do battle with the foe.

“You look surprised, Lady! But the ELF’s knowledge comes from ancient sources, and he always knew of this day. He said to me, ‘you shall summon the apes, for they work well in the forest, though the forests do not bind them,’ and he was right. Our warriors will guide the apes onto the fray, past the rings of defenders, and straight to the core of the trouble.

“Surprise and speed will be our aim. The magicks of Fire will be used upon the apes, in accordance, with the strategy your master set down. In this way, they can inflict the maximum harm upon our opponent.”

The King smiles bleakly, “We know the prophecy, Larissa, and will try to break it. Your children should come into the tunnels, and make their way to the mountain strongholds. The Beast shall not destroy all!”

Larissa takes her leave of the King. She must return to the Forest’s Heart, to prepare all to resist the coming of the Beast.