The dwarf currently listening to the reports has a serious, but pained, face. Even for him, the number of death reported was too heavy. The fortresses surrounding the fallen Deep Mountain have all been destroyed, but the good news was that every tunnel linked to those guarded locations have been sealed. Maybe it is a good news for his people, but for Meldun, it was the hard truth, that no one survived the assault of the ratmen. Just when the dwarf saying all those of those dark information has finished reading the paper in his hands, another one arrived.
He bowed for a second in front of the king of the Mountain, before saying what everyone in this room was expecting. Even if the tunnels were all sealed, some noises can be right at this moment heard around numerous dead ends. The dwarves guarding the destroyed Gold Summit have reported the presence of ratmen, and they are currently retreating to the principal gates constructed in that mountain. In other words, the two mountains that were destroyed during the Portal War have been conquered by the ratmen.
-Do you know if someone managed to bring me what I asked?
That was the first time that Meldun had talked since the beginning of this audience. Previously, he was just listening to everything that was reported to him, but immobile like a statue. As for what he asked, only the nearby Iron Beards guarding him and the different nobles staying here knew about that. Some of them disapproved, but everyone was agreeing with the potential result. Nothing was lost from the side of the dwarves, and doing that could only bring benefits. Shortly after, the commandant of the Iron Beards, Thongril, brought a bag to his king.
Meldun put his hand in the bag, grabbed the thing inside, and showed it, to every dwarf in this room. It was the head of a ratman, but not just any ratman. It was the head from one of the Red Guard, just the head was two times the size of the head of a normal dwarf. Those genetically modified and specifically bred warriors were a plague in the battlefield. But, their presence means that the ratmen are attacking the world once more.
-Do you see that, fellow dwarves? Do you see the head of our enemy? Do you see his skull shattered by the axe of a dwarf? That's what we will show to the world. That the dwarves, from the Grey Mountain, once more, will take their weapons and hunt those vermin to the hole that created them. Thongril, give that head to the emissary and ask him to reach out the nearest warboss of the orcs. He needs to make them respect the oath that everyone made during the Portal War. After that, or if you find another of those monstrous head, send him to the elves. Those pointy ears are a bunch of cowards, grass eaters. This time, they will need to leave the protection of that forest, and fight with us. Otherwise, we will not let our warriors die in vain, defending the south path leading to their forest.
After saying this, Thongril rushed outside of the room. He had a lot of work to do, as every Iron Beards will in those dark times. Now, near the king, only the nobles were staying. Ironfoot, Longbeard, Strongfist, Shinyhand. All the most honorable and oldest clans were reunited. Each and every one of them would have quarreled the moment they saw each other. But not today, and maybe they will never be able to do it in the future. Every dwarf knew that this time, they won't be as lucky as before. When the ratmen decided that war was not worth it and began to retreat and hide. When the holy kingdom of Aria was strong, not in this day.
-My king, the army has arrived.
Finally, what everyone was expecting, the return of the army. They were a little slower than the vanguard because they were carrying the injured and the sick. Of the 150 000 men and women that participated in that war, only 100 000 was still alive. Seeing so many that are still capable of fighting, the dwarves began to rejoice and even think that victory is a true possibility. The heaviest casualties were in the side of the humans, 40 000 of them will never see the sun again. As for the remaining 60 000, they were greatly weakened. The priests were rendered useless and only the archbishops still had some powers left. The only people that were not affected by that inexplicable phenomena were the magicians. However, they were in a small group in the first place, not even more than 2500.
That was the biggest mistake made by the holy kingdom. While the number of knights and priests are huge, the magicians were never truly taken seriously, provoking that clear difference in the numbers. And right now, that composition of the army will be a burden for the incoming fight. However, right now, the humans and the dwarves had to share all their information, because a bigger threat is menacing this world. Entering the audience room, one woman, one man and one dwarf. Aesseryn, the Great Magus of Ronta, Jasper Earur Borin, the general of the human army and finally Atli Strongfist, the general from the dwarf army. Normally, one of the archbishops of the holy kingdom and one of the engineers from the Everlasting Peak should have come. But, both had very honorable excuses. One was healing and curing everyone he could, while the other was bringing the vials looted on the body of the Red Guard.
-Greeting friends. General Atli, milady Aesseryn, and general Borin. I have convoked all the noble clans from the Grey Mountain Kingdom, to join us for the discussion. I hope that you won't take it badly.
-No, king of the mountain. The holy kingdom and I, express our gratitude toward your people. In those dark times, you were the only one willing to help us fight this terrible threat. The more that are joining us against it, the better.
-I will take it badly, your highness. If you call me milady one more time, I am the Great Magus, not just some damsel in distress.
The woman was clearly pissed that the two other men were called by their honorifics, while she was just called milady. Right now, all of the magicians under her control were exhausted, they had to light up the entire cavern during the duration of that battle and block the numerous spells throw at them. Some even passed out during the travel. To prevent the situation from escalating, since everyone was tired and angry, Atli tried to calm the magician.
-My apologies, Great Magus. We are more familiar dealing with men from your kingdom, and the numerous dwarves that have lived in your beautiful country always told us that the noble lady was called milady.
That was the answer from Aesseryn but she knew that arguing about this is pointless. She was too tired, and the peril too great to fight about someone calling her like that. But, her pride prevented her to not argue about the fact that she was a Great Magus. Seeing the situation evolved far from what he expected, the human general decided to bring back the true topic.
-Your Highness, during this war, we encountered a very troubling problem. One that probably cost us the victor, or, at least, prevented us from slaughtering more of those vermin. The power, infused into my body and the body of all the knights, is now weak, terribly weak. This thing is even affecting the priests and the archbishops, reducing the efficiency of their prayers. I am certain that it was not caused by anyone near this battle, not caused by the humans, the dwarves or even the ratmen. I have this feeling, this terrible feeling. That something else happened, something too big and too dreadful. So please, if you know something, just say it. We will not be able to bypass all those ratmen, so it will take us a long time before we can march toward the holy kingdom. And, if what is affecting us, affect the men guarding Ronta, I fear for this city.
The declaration from the human general clearly moved the dwarves, but they were all looking at Meldun. They had learned the truth a few hours before, and even them had a hard time believing it. But, with the fact that the human army had lost a good part of its power, what they saw was definitely the truth.
-Come with me, you three. I will show you something.
The king of the Mountain brought the three newcomers to a nearby room, where countless tools were located. Right now, even some engineers are still working on the prototypes for the incoming ward. The king of the dwarf brought them to a telescope and pointed at it. At first, Atli looked inside, and his entire face turned white. Then Aesseryn watched through it and passed out. Seeing all of this, the general Jasper Earur Borin began to fear for the worst outcome. Seeing some dwarves bringing the unconscious magician away, he turned his sight to the glass. What he saw was Atria, the beautiful and white Atria. But, after looking for a few seconds, he saw the different ramparts destroyed, countless bodies laying on the street, the proud Academy of Magic burned to the ground. And he realized the horrible truth, the Holy Kingdom of Aria was already no more.
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