Hunger - Ferous Goldvein
Ferous Goldvein sits at the table, finishing his military style meal and takes his last gulp of ale. Staring into the ether, his eyes glass over from the copious amount of drink and from sheer boredom. 28 years ago, he had given his oath to be part of the militia, since then the only battle he has had to face is with the fleas he got in his beard working with war dogs.
“Goldvein, it’s time, get your arse up!” Sargeant Dulfr Hammerfist says, as he pounds the table with his war hammer, snapping Ferous out of his state. Grabbing his shield and axe, Ferous joins his 11 other brothers in arms for another patrol into the deep mines.
Farther and deeper they march, walking for what seems to be hours. Ferous has once again drifted to thoughts of what else he can do with his life, marching mindlessly in step as he has for 28 years. As they reach their destination Sgt Hammerfist bellows out orders for the detail to create a perimeter as they were in a large cave.
“When are we ever going to see some action?” Ferous grumbles under his breath. “What are you grumbling about Goldvein, you don’t have to talk to set up your sector!” Hammerfist’s booming voice snaps Ferous to attention and startles him. “Yes Sargeant!” Ferous yells, as he wonders how it is that that guy can always get him.
About 10 minutes later, Sargeant Hammerfist yells “Goldvein, you want some action, you’ve got it. I’m tired of your belly aching. Come here!” As Ferous approaches his superior, all of the rest of his detail has made a semi circle around something. As he elbows his way through, he sees a cavern that has recently been exposed due to a cave in. “Get your arse down there and check it out. See where it goes and yell out if you see something.” Ferous takes a deep breath and smells old earth and iron, he smiles and drops down into the tunnel.
Walking for about thirty minutes, Ferous stops, and realizes that he is in a shaft created many, many years ago. Just then, he hears the tell tale pops that the earth makes when it’s ready to give way. “Oh shite!” is all he can get out before the bottom simply drops out from under him and he falls approximately 20 feet to a natural slide. Ferous slides several hundred feet more then drops another ten feet to soft earth. He stands quickly and moves to his left, avoiding the earth that follows him. He looks up and sees that his entrance was sealed by rock and dirt. No way to climb back out and no way to dig.
Ferous turns around and begins looking into the cavern that he has been delivered. It’s about 200 yards long and 30 yards wide. There are multiple entrances into it, two to his right and 3 directly in front of him and to the left. Ferous wipes off his weapons and kit, clearing them of earth then checks his food supply to reveal three days of food and mead available.
Suddenly a sound stirs in the stillness that is Underdark. Ferous raises his shield and readies his axe. His breath quickens as he remembers the hundreds of stories told of places like this, both terrifying and exciting at the same time. After what seems to be an eternity Ferous decides to begin his trek through this ancient and lost series of mine shafts, constantly trying to follow them up, but each time, they lead back down and further into the unknown.
For 5 days, Ferous wanders the tunnels never finding one living thing. He has not eaten or drank for 2 of those days and has begun to reach some desperation in both hunger and thirst. As he walks the tunnels, softly singing drinking songs, he hears the same sound again. The same sound that he has heard for the past five days. It’s stalking him! He picks up his pace, as he has in the past but then stops abruptly.
Ferous turns upon the tunnel he has just ventured through with a wide smile. His eyes are slightly glassy as his lips stick to his teeth, giving him a snarled look. He begins to walk in the direction of the sound, as it occurs again, this time closer.
Reaching up to his helmet, Ferous flips down his nose and eye shield then pulls his axe from its resting place, he looks at it and sees it has earth on it where he was trying to dig for water. Ferous stops, summons up his last bit of saliva and spits on the axe, then wipes off the dirt. Hefting his shield, he takes the upper guard with his axe as he hears the movement approach slowly. Ferous begins to slowly walk, then jog toward the noise.
“Today is as good as any to die. Either way, one of us will eat this day, that I can guarantee. I leave it to old Silverbeard to decide who is worthy then!”
In the dark the heat of the creatures body can be seen quite well, though what immediately stands out are the red eyes. It appears about your size, but a bit thinner in frame. You are able to make out that in it's hand is what appears to be a short blade, but it wears no formal armor and is not moving to attack. It retreats cautiously, never offering you it's back.
"You are no Derro, what are you doing here within the Keeper's domain?" in a feminine voice. "Should you seek out my death then the Lord of secrets shall have yet another that will never leave this hallowed place."
You have seen a few of your darker cousins, the Duergar, and knew they ventured deep within the older shafts. They were very secretive about what they found and it was commonly held by many that they might be hiding something of value that they had plumbed from its depths. It was also whispered that they could be in league with those they had supposedly forsworn, falling back into a life of Immorality and evil as had their patron, the exiled son.
Stopping abruptly causes the normally oak like legs of Ferous to buckle due to weakness brought about by dehydration. Kneeling then on his left leg Ferous comes to a stop.
Keeping his body partially covered by his shield, Ferous moves the axe to behind the shield as well.
He tries his best to smile, splitting his dried lips so blood begins to trickle into his beard. Coughing, he replies "Well met cousin Duergar, I am no Derro. And I do not seek your death, only to prevent my own." Further coughing, Ferous tries his best to look benign to the Duergar ensuring his axe is out of site.
Inwardly, Ferous knows that the Duergar have become more friendly to his kind, he only hopes to not pose a threat and that this cousin of the deep earth will see this. Outwardly, between his haggard breathing and now varying heat signature, he must appear almost mad with thirst. He readies himself for what the Duergar decides, as either way, he will get some sustenance this day.
"Can you spare a drop of water to a lost soul? I will happily trade a knife for it."
"I can spare you water and food," tossing you a full skin. "I'd certainly like to know how you managed to get in here though... The lord of secrets has considered this his holiest place for some time and never allows others in, only the delvesonns may enter. It was the chosen that alerted me to someone here, they were confused why you were here," in a quiet voice. She moves forward while sheathing her blade and immediately begins looking through a pack for some food or anything edible.
"I am Dolastr Vyrn Garnet keeper of the shield, who are you and why have you been chosen?" in a cryptic manner.
You still feel that you are being watched and even now can hear faint sounds echoing through the tunnels in this strange labyrinth of mine shafts.
She seems to locate what she has been searching for and hands you a small collection of various fungi and smoked meat, but they seem pleasant to the taste.
Sliding his axe into it's ring, Ferous takes a long drink from the wine skin and immediately begins coughing as the water feels like both a healing elixer and acid burning his rough throat.
He wipes his face, smearing the blood and dirt across his face and beard. His mouth moves as if to talk, and nothing comes out. Ferous holds up his finger and tries to smile, coughs, then takes a long draw from the wines skin again. He then takes a deep breath and clears his throat.
Taking a bite of the smoke meat, he answers through a full mouth. "Well met Dolastr Vyrn Garnet Keeper of the Shield, I am in your debt." Another long drag of water, and shoving the fungi in after it. Once again through a full mouth. "I have been wandering these tunnels for days, I could have sworn you were something with large teeth looking for food as I was."
"Wait! Did you just say chosen?"
One more drink of water. "I was certainly delivered here, by a collapsing tunnel and slide".
"Wait, forgive me my lady, my name is Ferous Goldvein, and it is my great pleasure to make your aquaintence."
"I am a member of the millitia, and while on patrole, I was checking out a mine shaft revealed from a recent collapse. The shaft was an ancient one, after exploring for a bit, it collapsed again, delivering me here."
"Now, as to being chosen, I don't believe I have been chosen for anything in my life, I'm sorry to say my lady, you may have mistaken me for someone else."
"That being said, you did just save me, and I did mean it when I said that I am in your debt. I don't know much, but I do know how to use this axe, and if it can be of assistance to you, it would be my honor to repay my debt, unless you would like to just take me up on this knife. While it's not a fine one, it's a good one all the same."
With that, Ferous extends his hand holding the wine skin, all be it, only about a quarter left.
As Ferous does extend his hand, he pays close attention to her body language. How does she react to his hand being extended toward her and how does she react to his words. Also, he uses this opportunity to look for any markings or items of interest that a short but closer look affords.
Last edited by Fly by Knight; 08-11-2009 at 10:59 PM.
She seems to listen to your response, but appears to dismiss it. She wears what appears to be some mining leathers and a simple brown cloak. One thing that does certainly catch your eyes is a large emerald that hangs from her chest. Though obscured it is quite impressive and certainly odd considering her spartan clothing.
She refuses the skin you have offered back, "Please drink it all, I have more then enough. You have been blessed though, Ferous Goldvein and your clans namesake has marked you beloved of the lord of secrets. I can not tell you why, only what is. You owe me nothing, it was not I that has found you, only the one guided here by the chosen. They are very secretive and many know nothing of their ways. Once we were one, but long ago we have diverged. Dumathoin has many children though and grants each what we may know and what we must keep. He has now marked you, as you are here in his abode. I feel a greatness surrounding you..." as her eyes fill with awe.
"I shall lead you out if that is what you wish, but know that the Secret lord has allowed you a vision of his secrets and expects you to respect his privacy," her voice becoming stern and a bit cryptic again.
Ferous listens to her intently, as he finishes the water. He lowers the skin from his lips, dripping water down his beard and chest.
He is visibly taken aback by the way she looks at him, as no one has ever looked upon Ferous Goldvein in that manner.
"Dolastr Vyrn Garnet keeper of the shield, I am truly in no position to disagree with you, while you must believe I do not truly grip it as the truth yet."
"I have never been in a holy place. I guess you don't know until your told huh?" "I'm in no hurry to return, if I can be of service to you or if there is something that you feel I am supposed to do."
"You say that you were guided by the chosen, are they the ones who I hear but cannot see?" "I would like to meet them, if that's not too forward."
"Of course, if it is not meant to be that I am to be of further purpose to you or your Keeper of Secrets, then I do swear to keep any locations secret, and only wish to return to my duties as a lowly soldier."
Ferous then, not sure what to so with the water skin, slowly offers it back to her, looking at the emerald then to her.
Last edited by Fly by Knight; 08-20-2009 at 12:04 AM.
She accepted the empty skin and smiled coyly. There were few amongst the shields that were not of the duergar and those were viewed with some trepidation by their clans. Dumathoin was the keeper of secrets under the mountain, patron of the shield dwarves. He was also the lord of the dead and his priests protected any that had long since passed from this world. Though respected, there was always enough superstition to avert many that would normally have sought his council.
"You have been chosen for a reason, though our lord is quite secretive even to his faithful. I can suggest that you speak with the Osk Verbain, Beljuril of Dumathoin here within the stead. He might be able to shed some illumination on what you seek," as she begins searching over the rough hewn walls around her.
"Greetings Orecutter, please show thyself that Ferous Goldvein might know thee," in a very antiquated form of Dethek.
At her words the stone from wall seems to become malleable. A strange form steps out, appearing as cold as the walls surrounding it. It appears roughly the shape of a dwarf, though its cold emanations are immediately apparent to your heat vision.
"Thou art known to me, Clansmen Goldvein. Know that I am Valland Ovhig. You shine bright amongst the dark," in a gravelly tone in the same ancient form of the dwarven tongue.
Happily surprised, Ferous smiles and nods his head toward the Orecutter. He looks up from the nod to look fully upon the being, genuinely grateful that her silent companion was not a dragon or other beasty with an appetite for lost Dwarves.
"Thou art known to me Valland Ovhig, it is an honor. I thank you for guiding her to me as I fear my days were numbered.
Know you both, that I do not take lightly the wisdom you have passed to me, or the opportunity to assist you and your cause, whatever that might be.
If it is Osk Verbain who ultimately saved me, then it is he whom I must thank and offer my services. And as you say, his illumination sounds exactly what I seek.
So much to take in, in such a small amount of time.
Verily well, prithee, lead on my friends as my day seems to improve by the moment."
Ferous is cautious about the proper way to address both her and her companion. He knows that she represents more than what she presents. While standard mining clothing is one thing, very rarely would a gem be so prominent, even while trying to hide.
Ferous takes the last bite of smoked meat as he awaits their response.
The cold and dark dwarf listens as if a mere statue of stone. "We were not accustomed to any within the sanctuary and must admit that when first we happened across you that we were wary. It was only recently that we began to worry as time could be seen taking its toll upon you. Though we do know the Delvensonns from above, we are unfamiliar with your requirements. I am glad we were able to make it to you in time."
"Seek ye out Osk Verbain, we are blessed of the Keeper, but we know little of the affairs amongst the surface. Our place is here and the stones to sing to us. Here may we find our sustenance. Here is our realm, our peace, our union. We have no place amongst our brethren, though we do maintain our shared history. The stone lord has shone himself upon you and this shall be your call that he hath something grand indeed for your destiny. Good luck in your endeavor and fear not, should you have stone beneath you then the lord of the mountain is with you."
Dolastyr stands still in the other dwarfs presence as though the mere meeting is something quite unfamiliar with her. She regards the man as someone of great respect and only bows her head in deference to his being.
With a smile, Ferous swallows the last of his food. And with a bow of the head.
"While I have few aquaintences outside of the people who are in the millitia, I have even fewer friends. Verily, Valland Ovhig, I think upon you as a friend now, regardless of your feelings toward me. Both you and the fair Dolastr Vyrn Garnet."
He ends his sentence with a physical bow.
"I will then look to Osk Verbain, and look forward to his guidence and aquaintence, though, I fear that a lowly being such as myself would not even be bothered with, let alone treated with friendly intonations."
"HA! While it's true that I have been unbelievably well by you fine folk, I fear once leaving your presence, I will once again be Ferous Goldvein, average warrior, and even less than average social stature. Perhaps, I can meet him through joining his millitia?"
Ferous shrugs his shoulders, as the truth of his social status once again weighs heavily on his shoulders. Life of a person living with such a barrier is quite restricting, not by physical ability, but my mental outlook.
"How then may I come into contact with a camp of his to volunteer myself? While my serving in the millitia has been long, my contract of servitude has expired, now I am free to go as I please. Perhaps my axe will be of better service with him and his causes?"
"So then, mum, if you could either guide me to a camp of Osk Verbain, or a way out, I will seek him out, or at least his forces."
He looks to Valland "Sir, it is an honor to be known to you, and I can only hope to see you again."
Ferous flips up his face mask, resettles his shield, strokes his beard, and smiles to the both of them.
Valland only nods his head, perhaps not understanding exactly what the dwarf was saying or at least having little understanding of his concerns.
"Verily shall we listen for you. Do not despair, your time is at hand young man. We shall listen as you shake the ground," as the shadowed dwarf again seems to step into the wall itself. In seconds there is nothing to even suggest he ever stood amongst you giving you an almost strange feeling.
Dolastr nods and begins walking through the twisting tunnels, "It is some distance to the entrance to this place. We shall pass under the Arch of Holmkell and then emerge amongst our clans. You shall illicit some oddity as there are few that are allowed, but do not worry. I am a keeper of the shield and none question our affairs," as she moves swiftly amongst the stone. You suspect that she knows this cavern system well to negotiate it this easily.
"We shall then journey to my home, wherein you may bathe and do whatever you need. I shall grant you a day of rest, the following morn shall you accompany myself to our Thane. I must tell you master Goldvein that my Thane is very different then most. He is the head of our church and Dumathoin has chosen a great man. No other Thane also holds a priesthood and it is considered an honor to be chosen for either, thus amongst his brethren is he considered twice blessed."
"Do not overly worry yourself of offending him or seeming to ask something you do not understand. He is benevolent and wise, granting his service and advice to all, no matter their status nor station," as she realized that she had gotten a bit ahead she slowed to ease your travel.
"I have heard of your duties, but what of your clan? Your ancestors? Tell me of whence you came, that I might know more of you?"
Ferous watches with amazement as the Orecutter disapears into the rock. Once gone, Ferous reaches for the rock. He is interupted,
With a slight startle, the Dwarf is brought back to the present, and the new companion he has so thankfully aquired.
As Ferous follows Dolastr through the tunnels, he again falls into a now strangely well worn habit of staring straight ahead and watching the seemingly never ending walls pass. It's quite intoxicating, and it allowed him to pass days without even a hope for making it out.
He enjoys the different melodies in Dolastr's voice as she explains things to him through the tunnels, much like a song that not all of the words are understood, yet it holds your attention. He mentally stumbles when she asks him of his family and himself. While many want to know his duty, or job, or where he has served, no one has asked of his family.
"M, my family? Well, um, lets see. I come from a line of miners. My fathers, fathers, father mined many tunnels and many ore. I know nothing of them personally and only know of up to my Grandfather's name. Day in and day out, my family has mined these corridors for over 4 generations, spanning many a dwarf lifetime. My mother and father scrape by, not caring of politics, religion, or the latest concerns. They work themselves to a point of zombie like exhaustion every day, all for Thane Sven Shieldstar the Robust. They concern themselves that the job is done, not of other things."
"Does that make sense mum?"
Ferous is greeted with a "mmm"
My Grandfathers name is Sact, and my Grandmothers name is Freida.
My Fathers name is Sactum and my mothers name is Fabra
My father has always told me, that the name "Goldvein" is a very deep name, deep as the tunnels we dig and the ore we extract.
Me? I look to help them or at least my future young ones move past the existence of constant toil. While my people are truly the backbone of our race, it aches me to see them toil even still. My grandparents, ancient as they are, still toil in the mines, breathing the dust and swinging the hammer. It makes them strong and weak at the same time.
What of you my fair Dolastr, tell me of you and yours."
All during the walk, Dolastr can hear the faint humming of music coming from Ferous. The same music she heard while following him. It moved with the pace of his walk and the sound of his breaths were almost a beat of the drum. She knew of this as an old soldiers trick to take the mind off of the troubles of the march and allow for faster walking.
She knows, he will need the recovery time before meeting her master.
She listened intently to your words, seeming to ponder them before giving a quick reply. In just the span you had known her she rarely ever responded quickly. She seemed apt to consider even the most common question with an air of consideration.
"I know of Sact the Smeller and of Sactum the Quick. They are regarded amongst their fellow's as both wise and very learned. They have received respect and the stone sings to them. Even amongst my own folk their skills are regarded as superb. I would certainly not state that they toil for nothing, nor that they have nothing to show for their diligence. They have respect and are honorable which many never attain," as she slows a bit allowing you both to take a few minutes to speak.
"My family is not very large either. We are actually quite weak amongst my clan, though our name does bear some weight. Amongst the Duergar we are separated into three approximate clans, though there are a few that are outside them. I hail from the Vyrn clan. We are often referred to as the watchful eyes. Most of my clan are involved within the Fraternal Order of the Eye and the Hand, though they are spread among many others. My parents were Azin the red and Bazdrid the younger. They were accomplished solvers that rose high in their guild. Their parents were Azgrim the third and Deis, while my father's parents were Gargur and Moriff. It has always been our tradition to run, to be the eyes of our culture. My grandfather spoke of it being our way even when we returned from our bondage. He was very learned and he spoke of your blood often. I remember a story of a collapse that a Goldvein freed many whom were thought dead. He spoke of your strength and your perseverance," her mind drifting back to his tales in her youth.
Her eyes immediately shift back to you, "I can see the same within you as well."
"We are a steadfast folk that take great pride in our professions, such is our way. I do know of your feelings though, for I was called unto another path. I answered the call of the Secret Lord early and many did not understand. The Verbain have always spoken to him alone, it is just our way. Osk understood and took me on as an apprentice though my family had little they could barter with. I have done my very best, but even now do my own kind regard me strangely. They trust the one I serve, but my role as his servant confuses them. It might pass with time, but we are a stubborn people and I doubt that it will ever change. I have accepted this as my own stone to bear," she has little emotion as she looks at you for your reply.
As her pace slows, Ferous quickly closes, slowing only feet from her. She senses his pattern and slowly increases her pace to allow a steady, more manageable march.
Ferous listens to her intently, as he swears every time this woman speaks, he has a new revelation about himself and his family.
“It seems we are not so different, Dolastr Vyrn Garnet, you and I. Verily, every time you speak, it is though a revelation grabs me by the…, well throat”
Dolastr smirks, with her back to him.
“Mum, you say your familiar with my family name and possibly my father and grandfather, you speak of a storied past involving my blood, yet I know none of this.”
Dolastr walks several paces before she realizes that she can no longer sense Ferous, she turns, to see that he has stopped, staring into the ether. She turns and approaches him, not bothering to see what it is he looks upon.
“The look upon my father’s face when I told him of my intentions…I wonder if he had hoped all along that I would strike out on my own.”
Ferous takes a deep breath.
“It has been 3 years since I have looked upon my family, and much longer since I have spoke of them.”
“Be careful mum, you may get me to believe that I’m chosen yet.”
The two walk further, and she speaks of her family.
“Your family sounds not so different than mine. They sacrifice for you, and you sacrifice for them…and yourself. The lessons learned from my family allowed me to specialize with this axe and shield quickly….”
“For your family to entrust Thane Osk Verbain with their precious daughter and blood, even against what is acceptable to the masses, speaks volumes of this great leader. Your stone..mum, is not only your stone, but the stone of your blood. Just as I have learned that this axe, is the axe of my blood. Look you at me!”
She was already looking at him, but looked into his eyes as he spoke with more force.
“The stone you bear is more precious than the stone you wear, know you that. I’m not an educated man, but I know a jewel when I see it Dolastr. I am truly thankful for your agreeing to introduce me to this great man. “
He was very intense at this moment. Dolastr begins to weigh her words, careful not to belittle his passion, yet intending to bring him to focus. He was severely exhausted and was showing signs of it.