Monday, February 3, 2014

Inspiring Illustrations - Fantasy Art - 12

12). Thurn

The old dwarven fortress, Thurn, lay abandoned for over a century; its gates thrown down and overgrown; its halls ringing empty with the ghostly sound-memories of its past. It had fallen to an attack that came from within and without, from beneath the earth and from the sky. Age old enemies aligned against them. Proud and alone they fell.

The halls were well looted but parts of the mountain fortress were brought down atop the heads of the victors when the final traps of dwarven engineers were sprung and much of the famed treasures, the great hoard of gold, and jewels were buried with the dead in an avalanche of stone. Over the years many came and searched, some found, some died, some disappeared, but most left Thurn emptyhanded enriched only by disappointment.

Then came the Orcs of the Red Dwarf Skull. Twofist Headhammer had been chieftain for a half a dozen years, though he had not counted the passing of time; strength and brutality were his strongpoints, not reflection or thought. Instead seasons came and went and Twofist marked them only by the victories he had won and the heads he had broken, the skulls added to the shamans' story-spears that told the tale of the tribe and gave courage to its warriors.

Each story-spear held a half score skulls, their bony pates carved with crude orcish runes, the sockets for their eyes holding red-dyed stones of wakefulness, ever alert to the approach of foes. Clamped between their evergrinning teeth were the mummified hands of orcish dead; a reminder to all the cost these beheaded foemen had made the tribe pay.  Only the skulls of those who had slain a tribesman in combat were worthy to be added to a story-spear.

Atop the chieftain's spear was the oldest of the fleshless and grinning heads; a thick-boned dwarven skull, yellow as a horse's tooth. It sat alone at the base of the spear-blade, crude black stone that glistened like water and bled rust. It seeped across the ancient dwarven skull staining it a deep brownish red. What runes there might have been on that skull could not be seen, the blood of the stone masked them long ago. No written word was needed to tell the tale of the chieftain's story-spear. The spirit of the long dead chieftain whose withered hand was clamped firmly in the dwarven king's teeth and the spirit of the dwarven king himself would speak when the moons were full and the shamans told the story of the spears danced the summoning ritual before the gathered tribes.

Change has come to the wandering tribe of the Red Dwarf Skull. Twofist heard the call of a great earth-spirit, felt the chilling touch of the countless dead beneath the mountain and claimed the empty halls of Thurn for themselves. He sits upon the broken rock throne of the dwarves and dreams. Soon he will awake.

The Tribe of the Red Dwarf Skull

Chief Twofist Headhammer:

Twofist is a large orc, but more than just big, strong and brutal, he has an instinctual cunning and he is called by something greater than himself. He knows no fear and fights without mercy. He values the lives of his warriors as coin but he is generous with his enemies willing to spend his followers if needed for victory. Now he sits upon the ancient dwarven throne like a miser, hoarding the strength of the tribe while he dreams and what he dreams would shame a dragon. He can sense the wealth buried beneath the mountain, it calls to him, stronger than bloodlust, stronger than the spirit urge to breed, stronger than the ghost-brew of madness given by the shamans. His dreams speak of uniting the orcish tribes that wander, the scampering goblins that infest the nearby caves and hills. He dream of conquest and an army of slaves from the human lands to dig and dig till their bones floor the halls and their skulls pile high as the mountain.


The Chief's Story-Spear

The chief's spear is a magic blade. It bleeds rust and a touch will taint weapons and armor. The taint spreads fast and will affect non-magical weapons and armor after a successful strike causing them to suffer a -1 modifier to hit and damage or a +1 to AC. This accumulates every round till the weapon or piece of armor becomes a useless lump of rust. Enchanted items of +1 or +2 have a saving throw against the taint. A save means no effect and even if the save is failed that taint does not spread on enchanted items, but every strike by the spear will require another save and each failed save adds to the damage that the taint will cause. Items of +3 or with major enchantments are immune to the taint.
Weapons that successfully hit the chief while he carries the spear are subject to the taint.

The spear defends the chief adding a +2 benefit to his AC and radiating a 10ft protection from Good. It is a +2/+4 against dwarves weapon and all orcs who are within sight of it gain +1 to hit.
The tribe is organized is this manner;

Head-Shamaness (All Shamans are female)
Clan Shamans (each keeps the individual clan's story-spears)

Clan Leaders (Currently there are 9 clans within the tribe, most are interconnected families but one tribe is composed of orcs who have left other tribes to join the Red Dwarf Skull tribe. The last clan is composed of a hodge-podge of goblinoid creatures who are allied with the tribe but not actually part of it. They have no story-spear but  do have their own shamans).

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