Episode 3: The Battle of Nishram Gate Prose in Gokrenxia | World Anvil

Episode 3: The Battle of Nishram Gate

Previously, on Tales of the Inner Council

King Ga'jam Ch'luun's Final Decree dissolved the monarchy of the fledgling kingdom of Vath'azen, leaving the 50-years young kingdom in the hands of his Inner Council. In an even more shocking turn of events, he appointed a member of the Myndikin, the oppressors of the animal-like Kynekin peoples, to his new "ruling" council; a decision met with deep contempt by the citizens of Vath.   The appointee was a little known Dwarven negotiator by the name of Tashkerr of House Dyber who lived thousands of miles away from the Vath capital city of Stoverj in the Dwarven ancestral home of the Stormbreak Mountains.

The Ruins of Grosst, Stormbreak Mountains

Several months ago...   Deep below the surface of the Stormbreak Mountains, the ground trembled. It was as if the Mountains themselves were gripped by fear. A stocky form burst through the flaps of his sparse tent, his crossbow and quiver of bolts dangling precariously in one hand. He rushed through the camp, his footfalls crunching the century-old debris.   On the ridgeline above stood a grizzled and battle-scarred Dwarf, adorned in heavy metal armor. The exquisitely detailed symbol of the mountains beneath the three bright stars marked him as an important member of the Dwarven House of Dyber. Green light shone upward from the war camp lanterns, casting a foreboding appearance upon his silhouette. He squinted, peering down upon the ruins of the once great Dwarven city of Grosst. Dwarven eyes were not strong, but the Dwellers were impossible to miss.   "Tashkerr!" he bellowed, without turning.   The thirty-something Dwarven male skid to a stop on the loose stones, his long brown beard flailing out. “Right behind you Obregol,” he huffed, trying to catch his breath.   “Advise me,” the elder Dwarf ordered, still watching the old city intently. Dwarven soldiers from several squads, or "Spikes" as they were called, drew closer, listening intently to what Tashkerr would say.   It was no secret that the younger Dwarf was not particularly capable in combat. However, he had a very special role supporting the Deepwatch forces. Tashkerr was a journeyman of the Istoyaver, the mystical Dwarven cult of "Wayfinders." Here in the Deepwatch, Istoyaver mages were expected to provide insight and forewarning before battle that would, in theory, save lives and improve the chances of success in battle.   Everyone in House Dyber, from the lowliest baker to the House Elder himself, was expected to rotate in and serve on the Deepwatch. It was their standing force to watch for, and respond to, the Dwellers. “Dwellers“ were not so much a singular race, any more than the catchall term ”Myndikin“ could adequately capture the differences between the races of Elves, Dwarves, and Humans. Dwellers were wildly-varied creatures of enormous size who regularly forayed up from the depths and ventured into House Dyber’s lands, demolishing everything in their path.   This particular Dwarven stronghold, Grosst, was one of several lost just over sixty years ago during the Great War. House Dyber had answered the Emperor’s call to bring war against the rebellious animal people, collectively referred to as the Kynekin. Short on forces, the Deepwatch had been unable to hold the Dwellers back. House Dyber had been battling to recover their lost cities ever since.   The ground shook again. Loose debris shifted and slid downhill. A slightly younger fair-skinned female Dwarf stepped in front of Tashkerr, placing her hands on his shoulders and smiled at him from her bright blue eyes. Her blonde hair was swept back into a silver metal clip, and the heat matted it to her face in clumps.   "You've got this, Tash" she stated confidently and stepped back. Raya was one of Tashkerr's oldest friends. She knew him better than anyone. And though she knew little of magic, she knew he'd be nervous about the weight of lives lost if he failed to call upon his Istoyaver training.   "Thanks," Tashkerr replied, forcing a smile.   He exhaled slowly and closed the distance to the Obregol, the leader of this "Fist" of Dwarves. From atop of the ridge, Tash scanned the crumbling city of Grosst that would shortly become a battlefield. The ground shook again.   "Well?" Came the Obregol's deep voice.   "Sorry sir," Tash replied nervously. "I'm on it."   Tash stilled his thoughts and focused on the oceanic sound of his own breathing. He could feel the river of magic flowing through the stone around him. It was hard to describe, but the magic felt "deep" here, thick like a pool of stagnant, muddy water, undisturbed for many moons.   Inhaling, Tashkerr began to draw the invisible energy in like breath. He allowed it to fill his mind, like air in the lungs. His eyes took on a soft, solid bluish glow. Several of the others backed away, likely unnerved by all of the rumors and superstition surrounding magic. Even the Obregol himself subtly dropped his hand closer to his blade. Unlike the others, Obregol Rostov had seen what could happen when an Istoyaver mage lost control and didn't relish the idea of having to deal with that again. Raya stayed at Tash's side.   Thoughts began to form in Tash's mind. They were vague and elusive, as if he were on the verge of an incredible idea he just couldn't quite seize hold of. It was like being absolutely certain you'd forgotten something, but unable to remember what it was, or knowing you confidently put something important "somewhere safe" only to be unable to remember where. And just as suddenly as they had come, the slippery thoughts faded away. What remained were feelings and impressions. It was mildly frustrating, but Tashkerr had resigned himself to the notion that this was simply the nature of Wayfinding magic.   "There," Tashkerr pointed. "We should setup on the East side of that gate, sir. Avoid the guard tower on the left." The soft blue glow faded from his eyes. He braced for the pain that often followed the use of magic. Thankfully though, it receded gently back from his mind like waves drawing back from the seashore.   "Nishram Gate," Obregol Rostov commented, pursing his lips and relaxing his hand from beside his blade. He turned to Tash and questioned. "Not much cover there. If things go wrong we'll not have many tactical options. You're certain in this?"   Tashkerr nodded. "Yes sir, as certain as I can be with these things." Another tremor shook the ground, punctuating his statement.   Obregol Rostov turned to the assembled camp and looked into their nervous faces. His voice echoed through the caves with clear and confident authority.   "Soldiers of the Deepwatch! Today, we bring glory to our names, to the names of our parents, and their parents before them. Today we build the legacy upon which our children will stand. Today we serve House Dyber and the elders of Stormbreak as we stand against the first Dweller we've seen in months. You are a fine Fist of the Dwarven peoples and you shall not falter this day! Whatever comes up from those tunnels, we will not waiver! We will not fail! We will send it back to the depths from which it came!”   Fear gave way to whoops and hollers as well-tended axes, hammers, and swords were pumped into the air. He waited for the moment to pass, lowering his voice to a more serious tone.   “Now, the Istoyaver have advised this battle will come at Nishram Gate.” Raya elbowed Tash proudly. “Spike One,” a quad of Dwarves snapped to attention. ”You’ll take the rising wall off to the right and provide ranged support. Repairs on that wall aren’t complete, so watch your footing. Spike Two,” he eyed the left guard tower, flashed a glance to Tashkerr in consideration, but then thought better of it. “Setup here along the ridge also supporting from range. Spikes Three,”   Raya’s Spike, thought Tash.   “and Four will setup with the War Bears on the ground below Spikes One and Two." From the crowd the Obregol's own large black bear, Kulik, announced himself excitedly, bringing chuckles from many of the soldiers. Tash swore he even saw the Obregol himself crack a slight smile for but a moment before continuing.   "Once the creatures comes through the gate, we’ll alternate feinting in and out from opposite sides. Spike One shooting from the right, while Three charges in from the ridge. Whichever Spike the beast commits to disengages, while the opposite group engages. Keep it guessing. Don't over commit. Spike Five,” Tash perked up at the mention of his squad. “Field recovery and reinforcements."   It was a mixed blessing in Tash's mind. The Istoyaver were often treated as though they were made of glass. A part of him wanted to be on the front line, and yet the more practical part of him was glad he wasn't.   "And listen up," Obregol Rostov continued. "When things get hairy, and they will, AVOID APPROACHING THAT LEFT GUARD TOWER. Is that understood?”   “Yes sir!” Echoed the hearty Dwarven soldiers of the Fist.   "Move out!"
Show spoiler
What follows is an Ironsworn RPG solo session. My notes will generally be captured in the form of: Character Initials: action
  • six-sider/ten-sider/ten-sider-result(Strong, Weak, Miss)
  • Effect
  • Show spoiler
    Oracle: Situation?
  • Defend Ruin

  • TD: Secure an Advantage
  • Sense Favor
  • 6/5/7-W +2M
  • Plan: Assault advantage

  • Nishram Gate, Stormbreak Mountains

    Several months ago...   The footsteps of the massive beast drew closer. Tashkerr could feel the rumbling in his chest. His heart and breathing quickened as he watched. The creature's head was the first thing he saw as it stretched forward around the top of the left guard tower, sniffing the air.   Tashkerr exhaled in relief and reassured himself that no Dwarves had setup by that tower. If they had and the Dweller had caught their scent, their plan could have gone horribly wrong. He hoped the others would recognize his contribution, but in all likelihood they would just call it luck. It always seemed easier to give criticism over credit.   The Dweller took another step forward. Dust and debris shook loose from the surrounding old stone buildings. The creature was huge with a short, rounded face like a lion, covered in long fur. Its eyes glowed a bright and terrifying yellow that burned with anger. Its ears were long and curved, shooting off the sides of its head, parallel to the ground. Upon it's forehead, two razor-sharp bull-like horns appeared ready to gore anything that stood in its way.   Tashkerr watched off to the right as Spike One pressed themselves a bit more tightly against the inside of the partially rebuilt wall, clutching their crossbows tightly. Everyone held their positions, and their collective breaths. Walking on four legs, the Dweller took several more steps forward and ducked down to pass through Nishram Gate.   "Attaaaaaack," Shouted Obregol Rostov from Spike Three's position below the ridge. The beast's head swung toward the sound as Rostov, Raya, and the rest of Spike Three rushed boldly forward. To either side of the small force, large black bears with spiked armor loped forward, unleashing their own battle cries.   From the right, Spike One popped up above the wall and unleashed their crossbow bolts at the creature's gigantic lion-like head which easily found their mark. The Dweller roared with an incredible ferocity that shook the very cavern walls and deafened the Dwarven cohort. It turned its head toward the crossbowmen of Spike One and began to move, just as Rostov and Spike Three made contact with the beast's front right leg.   Spike Three hacked, stabbed, and smashed at the Dweller's leg, as massive as the trunk of an old tree. Rostov yelled something, but Tash's ears were still ringing from the beast's roar. He saw Spike Three begin to pull back as Spike Four sprung up from their ground position on the right. The creature lifted its humongous cat-like paw, revealing deadly claws and brought them down upon one of the men of Spike Three. He didn't even have the chance to scream as the creature angrily shifted its weight forward, crushing him in an instant.   Tashkerr shut his eyes and covered his mouth as he fought back the bile in his throat. Someone was suddenly on top of him grabbing him by both shoulders and shaking him. Tash opened his eyes. It was his Striye, the Spike Five leader. He was spewing out orders. Tashkerr motioned to his ears, shook his head, and shrugged. His Striye's response was unmistakable. He pointed to Tashkerr, and pointed toward the Dweller. He wanted Tash to help Spike Three.   Tash nodded and grabbed his warhammer. He rushed over the top of the ridge, through the crossbowmen of Spike Two, who had revealed themselves and were firing bolts at the Dweller. As he slid-ran down the loose gravel of the ridge, he surveyed the situation. Spike Four was preparing to pull back. Raya acknowledged Tash as he caught up with their Spike. She looked steady, and committed to the fight. Rostov eyed Tash and nodded approvingly.   "Spike Three, on me!" Rostov called as he heroically leapt over a boulder. Tashkerr's hearing was starting to return.   The Dwarves initial momentum had faded. The plan to alternate and distract the Dweller had not been enough to finish the beast quickly. All five Spikes of the Fist were now fully engaged. Even Tash's Spike had joined Spike Two on the ridge, adding to the rain of crossbow bolts soaring through the air. The Dwellers deadly paws, as large as a full-grown Dwarf, swiped back and forth across the battlefield, one solidly connecting with Tash and sending him flying through the air. His back slammed into the left guard tower with a distinctive crack, before he fell to the ground with a thud.   The pain radiated up and down his spine. He was certain he'd broken something, until he realized it was his crossbow that had shattered against the tower. He rolled over, attempting to get air back into his lungs and looked up at the remnants of the massive guard tower - the very tower he'd warned everyone away from - and a knot formed in the pit of his stomach. Yet another thing he hated about Wayfinding magic – the constant lack of certainty about what anything meant. He looked to his friends and knew he had to do something drastic. Trusting to luck, he pressed himself up from the ground with a groan and rushed into the tower.   Up, up, up he climbed the stairs, two at a time, leaping over more than one precarious gap in the stairwell. As he burst through the door and onto the roof, he smiled at fate as he took in the large Dwarven ballista still standing, a crossbow the size of a wagon. A quick once-over told him the device was probably still in working order. He dragged over one of the massive bolts from a nearby pile and loaded it. Next, he attempted to turn the grand weapon toward the beast, but the rusted metal base upon which it was mounted held tight, refusing to move.   Below, the battle had descended into chaos. Tashkerr set his jaw and redoubled his efforts to turn the massive Dwarven weapon of war. Pressing with all of his might, the mount gave way, screeching in a protest that echoed through the caves and cut through the din of battle, momentarily drawing the Dweller's attention. The beast's hate-filled eyes met Tashkerr's and a chill shot down his spine. Fear stole his breath as he took aim and hoped beyond hope the ballista was still fully operable.   Hands trembling, Taskherr pulled back the chest-high release lever. With a loud crack and a thwang, the massive wooden missile hurled into the air and lodged itself firmly into the Dweller's head. The beast cried out in pain and charged forward in a blinded rage, pulling away from the Fist of Dwarves and ramming into the tower. The force knocked Tashkerr to the ground. The tower sway beneath him. It likely wouldn't stand for another hit like that.   Emboldened by the momentary respite, Obregol Rostov, leader of the Deepwatch Fist at Nishram Gate quickly regrouped the disparate Spikes into a single fighting force. From behind the Dweller rose the deafening sound of his war horn as they charged courageously across the battlefield. Wounded and overwhelmed, the Dweller fell to the stalwart Dwarven Fist of House Dyber.  
    * * * * *
      Only one member of the Fist had been lost; one of the soldiers from Spike Three. Tashkerr felt guilty for not even known the Dwarf's name. There were numerous injuries requiring attention, but largely the Dwarven cohort, including the War Bears, had fared well. Tashkerr sat alone, eating his warm soup by green lantern-light. Raya plopped on a rock to his right as several others from the Fist shot him a passing glance and whispered among themselves.   "What's their problem?" Asked Raya, motioning with her head.   Tashkerr stared into his bowl, sighing in response. "They think I steered the Fist away from the ballista so I could get all the glory."   A male voice interjected. "Nonsense."   Obregol Rostov came around to Tash's left and joined he and Raya at the small camp. Kulik the War Bear padded along behind him and flopped with a thud at his side. It placed a large furry black paw across a Dweller bone and proceeded to happily gnaw upon it.   The Obregol continued. "I saw what happened. If we'd positioned ourselves at that guard tower, the Dweller would have smelled us. We'd have lost the element of surprise and probably have many more casualties to contend with. It's not your fault they can't see that. They're just jealous. Besides, those old ballistae haven't seen action in years. To be honest, I'm surprised it even still worked at all. We're all lucky that it did."   Lucky, Tash chuckled sarcastically to himself. People had been telling him his whole life he was exceedingly lucky. Things just had a way of working out in his favor. Much like Wayfinding magic, it was something that was both incredibly useful and impossibly infuriating in its unpredictability.   Rostov looked intently at Tash and leaned in, breaking Tash's introspection. "You did well out there today. Your father will be proud."   "Thanks," Tash replied absently, not looking up from his broth.   The three conversed for several more minutes before Rostov moved on to other members of the Fist. Kulik the War Bear followed close behind, proudly carrying his Dweller bone in its powerful jaws.   It was a short while later when the soft thump-thump-thumps of an approaching War Bear drew the attention of the warriors. A well-dressed Dwarf with a poorly crafted crest - a low-ranked messenger to a wealthy patron - dismounted and called to those present.   "Obregol Rostov?" He announced with a question.   "Here." He raised his hand, seemingly unphased by the new arrival. The messenger approached and handed Rostov a scroll, which he unrolled and held such that the lanternlight shown upon the page. After several moments he nodded, re-wound the scroll, and handed it back to the messenger.   "Tashkerr," he bellowed.   Tash snapped to attention, as he'd be trained. "Here sir," Tash responded sharply. Around the camp, warriors of the Fist leaned in, collectively straining to listen in on what was happening.   Rostov locked knowing eyes with Tash, and began to speak. "You have been summoned to Lestreppe. The House Elder wishes to have a word with you."   Tashkerr was stunned. Why would the Elder of House Dyber request his presence, or even know his name, for that matter?! He panicked internally. Perhaps he'd acted against Istoyaver law, or House law, for that matter – both of which he mentally assessed and quickly ruled out. He realized everyone was staring.   "Of course sir," he responded. Raya and Tashkerr locked eyes. She placed a reassuring hand on his wrist, offering a squeeze of encouragement as he pulled away and headed to his tent to pack his things.  
    To Be Continued...
    Show spoiler
    TD: Enter The Frey (+shadow)
  • Dweller vs Dwarven Fist (Troublesome)
  • 5/1/4-S +2M, In control

  • Companion: Fist of Dwarves
    o o o o o

    TD: Gain ground (+shadow)
  • 5/2/8-W
  • Progress: 3/10

  • TD: Strike (+iron)
  • 2/6/9-M
  • Bad spot
  • Pay the Price (Companion -1H)

  • Comanion Takes a Hit
  • 5/1/8-W
  • Press on

  • Companion: Fist of Dwarves
    o o o o x

    TD: React under fire (+shadow)
  • 6/7/9-M
  • Pay the Price

  • TD: Pay the Price
  • 97 Roll twice
  • 80 You are harmed (-1H)
  • 00 Roll twice
  • 58 Your equipment malfunctions
  • 30 You are separated

  • TD: Endure Harm
  • 5/6/7-M
  • -1H

  • TD: Secure an Advantage (+wits)
  • 4/2/4-W
  • Burn 6M
  • 6/2/4-S +2M, +1 next roll

  • TD: React under fire (+wits)
  • 8/2/9-W
  • Lose Momentum –1

  • TD: Clash (+edge)
  • 4/2/7-W
  • Progress! 6/10
  • Pay the Price: -1H

  • TD: Endure Harm (+health)
  • 8/4/7-S Shake it off +1H

  • TD: Clash (+heart)
  • 5/1/3-S
  • Progress x2 (9/10), in control

  • TD: Take Decisive Action
  • 9/6/8-S
  • The Dwarves Prevail!
  • - +1M

    Cover image: by dream by WOMBO


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