He blinks twice to clear his vision from the tears that fill up is clear blue eyes and swallow hard in an attempt to reduce the nausea that the fear clawing in his stomach causes. Twice he changes his hand around his sword and takes comfort in feeling its cool weight in his hand.
Then he sees them on the horizon.
So many. Thousands upon thousands break the horizon like a tidal wave, slowly as if in a dream. Suddenly his blade feels insignificant and almost ridiculous against such numbers and he shifts the weight a little and looks at the ground around him. It is all prepared and he has picked a good spot.
He shifts his eyes back to the oncoming horde and he can hear them now, their screams of hatred and their demand for blood.
It will not be long now before they will see him and the battle will begin. He move his feet’s again in an attempt to get a better standing and smiles as he realize what he is doing.
Footing will mean nothing once they come, it will be over quickly…
The messenger run into the king’s war chamber and is rewarded with angry eyes from the lords assembled there to discuss the matters of going to war.
“What news do you bring, speak quickly boy.”
The king barely looks up from the battle map before him.
“It has begun Sire, the Horde has been challenged”
The king looks up from his map with a confused look in his face.
“That’s not possible. No army could have reached the Horde yet. Where have the challenge been made?”
The messenger steps forward and the look up at his king.
“At Graystone pass my king”
The king looks down at his map and locates the passage with his finger.
“Graystone pass is the perfect place to hold the Horde, even for a smaller army…but there are no armies near that location. Who stand against the Horde and how many men stand in Graystone pass?”
The king looks up and notices a strange expressing on the messengers face as he struggle with the reply.
“Only one my lord”
The king frowns and takes a few steps toward the messenger.
“What do you mean? Are you saying that only one man stand against the horde at Graystone pass? That’s ridiculous!“
The messenger’s eyes look up and meet the kings.
“It is true my lord. “
The words cause mumblings and deep frowns from around the table.
“…and he is holding his ground.”
The silence is almost deafening, almost like the world suddenly stopped. When the king breaks the silence it sounds like a lightning strike in the large hall.
A tear fall down the messengers bearded face and vanishes in its tangled strands. The emotional impact is clear even before he say the words.
“The Grey Wolf stand alone against the Horde at Graystone pass.”
The assembled lords display many emotions as they all turn their heads towards their king, only to see his face display the same emotions of shock followed by shame and embarrassment. Then he lean in heavily against the table as if a sudden weight has been placed on his shoulders.
“He asked us for our help and we refused him and sent him away because we were afraid! ”
He slams his hand against the table and screams out his anger and frustration. Then he turns to the lords around the table.
“The time for talk is over. I march for Graystone pass. Join me or stay, it is your choice.”
As the king intends to walk out in anger, a nobleman stands to speak before he can do so.
“I have been opposing your will to go to war my lord and I still do…but I will follow you to Graystone pass. I owe the Gray Wolf my life and I will either stand with him against the Horde or make them suffer for an eternity. You have the support of house Terrog.”
The nobleman next to him stands as well.
“As will the house of Gwydon”
One by one the lords stand and in less than a minute the shouting of discord in the deep halls has been replaced by silent agreement and deadly determination to stand as one against the Horde. Just as quickly it empties and the first orders are given to prepare for war.
An hour later the iron gates open and the first warriors march out, strangely silent and with a silver ribbon tied to their left arm as a symbol of their dedication and in remembrance. As they reach the plains they begin to run. It is four days march to Graystone pass, but they are determined to reach it in two, no matter the cost.
In thousands they pour out towards the battlefield. Warriors, scholars, merchants, outlaws, blacksmiths and noblemen march side by side, united for a single purpose. They have a debt to pay and they pray that they are not to late…
The Dwarves march to war.