As the party moved on through the remains of the Dwarven city, Fargrim briefly ducked behind the ruined corner of what must had been a Dwarven town house. Leaning heavily on his mighty hammer, Jawbreaker, Fargrim panted heavily; struggling to catch his breath. A veteran of over two centuries of battle, Fargrim had never felt like this before. It was like he could feel all of his 250 years catching up on him. He didn’t know how, but that undead spectre did something to him. He felt like he was living on a half life.
Suddenly, Kriv called out, “Furhgless? What are you doing? Did you fall down a hole?”.
Fargrim stood up straight and regained his composure. Hefting Jawbreaker onto his back, he produced a handful of coppers from his belt pouch.
“Ahah! Treasure!” he yelled, holding up the copper coins in his hand.
Kriv’s palm cupped his forehead and turned back to the rest of the group. Fargrim began to jog to catch up with the party again, already feeling like it was taking more out of him than it should. Walking at the back of the party, Fargrim began to think about what the shade of his aunt had said. He had been charged with a holy quest, to find the ancient mountain from which all Dwarves descended and save it. Him. The last Stoneborn. According to her, the Stoneborns had been the first Dwarves, but Fargrim has never known them to be more than his Father and Mother and their small abode in Tor’s Reach. But they were gone now, and he was alone: an aged Dwarf approaching the end of his life. Why had he been chosen by the mountain now? Why not 50, 80 or 100 years ago? What could he do now? How could he possibly hope to be successful? Who would take up his quest when he died? He had no heirs, that he was aware of (although 250 years of tavern wenches and brothels could have produced something unexpected). Perhaps his new found powers, gifted by the mountain, could sustain his life? As he felt his heart beating so strongly, simply from trying to keep up with the party, he did not find this possible.
Fargrim stopped once more, and looked at Jawbreaker. This weapon had been passed down the Stoneborn line for generations. From father to son, to their son and so on. Would he be the last to bear this weapon? The last to feel it shatter bone and crush skull? Even if there were no more Stoneborn, there were other worthy and noble clans: Hammerhand, Copperskull, Anvilfist, Thunderaxe, Alespear. They had all been friends to the Stoneborn and most had offered Fargrim shelter and a place at their table when they could. Surely a champion from one of these houses could bear the hammer after Fargrim had passed on. That would be far nobler than to allow a proud and venerable hammer, and the tradition that accompanied it, to fall into obscurity and lost to the annals of history. Smiling, Fargrim hefted his hammer onto his back. Yes, the Stoneborn would live on through this hammer, even if he fell. But he was not dead yet and he would not die here, in the wasted mountains far from the nearest bastion of Dwarven civilization. He would live, dammit. But until he could have his vigor restored, he would have to be wary, for in his current state he would not be able to take the hits that he once brushed off without a second thought. Fargrim, however, was not some beardling charging into his very first battle. He was a grand warrior; a master of war. Tempered in the fires of two centuries of combat.
He recalled the Battle of Sparrowsport, on the eve of his 97th birthday. Bands of Goblins had bribed several local trolls into attacking the town. The autumn rains had turned the field into a muddy bog, meaning that heavily armoured troops would be left exposed. While the lighter armoured militia and Kings Recruits members held the Goblins at bay in the melee, Fargrim relocated to a nearby hill with his bow and two quivers of sharpened arrows. From 50 yards away, Fargrim’s aim held true as he launched volley after volley into the oncoming horde. Goblins were pinned to the ground while Dwarven bodkins pierced the eyes of the charging Trolls. The battle was won and the town of Sparrowsport was defended. The drinking that ensued lasted for a good week.
Good times, Fargrim thought as he smirked to himself. Hefting Jawbreaker onto his back, Fargrim drew the very same bow that aided him some 150 years ago. Fargrim was not some one-trick pony, he was a master of all forms of warfare. He would survive this blasted tomb, and these troll infested mountains. He would be healed, his enemies would fall, and the pages of history would remember the name: Stoneborn.