So I was struggling with getting back into the swing of an old book I was a third of the way writing. I thought the dreaded “block” was setting in. I did a thing then, as I was dropping my kid off to school I asked him for a dumb idea to write about. He gave me one. I got home and two hours later this thing popped out. Now here it is for your enjoyment in all of its first draft glory.
The Battle of Golden Hills
Grimwald sat at the head of the table. He looked out over the many faces that were there with him. His look was somber, and he exhaled loudly. This brought the attention of the rest of the group back to him. With all eyes looking in his direction he waited until everything was silent. “We have waited centuries for what is about to come.” His tone was serious, and he watched for reactions from the others. Nothing was out of the ordinary. His 500 plus years didn’t show that much on his face.
He continued, “All of the preparations are almost complete, and soon we shall emerge from our exile and retake what was ours. The giants that have taken our land will feel our wrath and shall be vanquished.” The others smiled and raised a cheer in agreement.
The rest of the war council meeting went with planning and logistics, he wanted to make sure that they were ready for any contingency. Nothing was going to stop them retake their homeland. The Dwarves of Pigthium would prevail and return to the surface. He had no idea what the result would be regarding the war, but the first battle they would win and revel in.
Once he was done with the council, he headed down one of the tunnels to the lower levels of their kingdom. They had done well for themselves over the years, making a descent life under the ground they had once ruled over, but it wasn’t enough. He wanted more for his people, the sun, the fresh air, and the ability to roam free like their ancestors once did. Of course, Dwarves were creatures of the Earth and excelled in the mining and creating of crafted items, but that didn’t mean they belonged in it.
While dwelling on these thoughts, Grimwald arrived at his destination. He knocked on the door and heard a gruff voice respond. He opened the door and entered. Sitting in a chair next to a small hearth was a Dwarf much older than him, sipping on a stein of Dwarven stout. “Good day Uncle.”
The elder Dwarf looked up and smiled, “Come for my advice again?”
“Not as much as for your words of encouragement.”
“Still nervous about the forthcoming battle?”
“Who wouldn’t be. I have led skirmishes and such before, but nothing as big as this or against our greatest adversaries.”
“No one has in such a long time. The last time was your father almost 400 years ago, and that is why you are king.”
“I remember, I was barely 100 when I took the crown, one of the youngest ever. It has weighed heavy on me all this time. I want vengeance, but I must temper that with the good of my people.”
“You have done well for them. I can’t remember a time that we have had such numbers and made such wonders. My greatest worry is that you may have not gathered enough information about our enemies as you might need.”
“I have few worries in that area Uncle. They aren’t the smartest and I doubt they have advanced as much as us. Our scouts report they now have clubs of metal, but seemingly weak compared to ours. Of course, their size and strength might offset that. That is why I have focused more on our armor than weapons. No matter how good our offense is, I know that it will take many of our brethren to take down one giant.”
“That is what the people love about you, your wisdom, and for being so young.”
“We also have surprise. The giants seem to have forgotten about us. And that we will exploit, especially since their greatest weapon seems to only come on certain times.”
“The large metal device?”
“Yes, but I don’t think it is a weapon by design. They seem to use it to harvest the plants they grow. But I can see it being used as a weapon is needed against us. By attacking when it is mid-cycle I hope to avoid it. If we can take them out before they know what is going on, then it may never even be a factor.”
“Again, wise words.”
“My generals hope that with surprise, after the battle, we might be able to find where they keep it and use it for ourselves.”
“And with the land reclaimed, think of all of the food we could harvest.”
“I was thinking more of it as a weapon, we have no idea how many of them there are beyond what was once our lands, but I suppose. That is later though. For now, we must focus on the battle.”
The younger dwarf smiled and thanked his uncle for his time. He turned and exited the room. His next stop was the massive foundry complex that his people had built far below the surface. Here the smiths crafted the finest weapons that the tribe had ever made. He inspected many of the wares and was impressed. Being King he had to learn many things, also being a dwarf, crafting metal into magnificent weapons was the main one.
He was by no means a master smith, but he wasn’t bad and knew quality when he saw it. He knew these new tools of war would be essential in helping his people win the battle to come. Once that was done, he went to the stables. It had taken many decades, but the Dwarfs had tamed and trained one of their former underground enemies to now be their war mounts. The large fur covered monsters would now lead them to victory. One could carry two lancers, and still have room for more if they had to withdrawal, which he was sure would not be the case. They had trained for too long to fail.
His last stop for the day was the great hall. There all of the warriors were gathered, having a feast on the eve of battle. It was something that had not been done for a long time. The days of wars and epic tales of valor were long past. Now it was time for a new era for the Dwarves. They would now be able to weave the stories that would be the myths for their descendants.
He only hesitated because he knew the feeling was going to be grand and that it would not be the same in the future. Win or lose, all the feast from this day forward would be different. He imagined how his father felt when he had his last feast. Grimwald had confidence this would be his first of many, so impressed with this army. In any case it would be his last first time though and he wanted to savor it.
The guards at the main doors to the hall opened the doors for him after he signaled, he was ready. As he entered, he viewed the long tables filled with his brethren. They all stood and raised their glasses at him. He made his way to the far end towards his elevated table, where his generals were already sitting. Soon songs of glory were sung as he went up the steps and took his place. He sat, then everyone else did. A plate of meat and vegetable was set before him and he ate.
Soon he stood and began to speak, “I have faith in our endeavor tomorrow that we shall be victorious. For too long have we dwelt under the ground of our former kingdom. Tomorrow we shall retake what is rightfully ours.” Cheers sprang up through the room. Grimwald smiled and toasted his army.
“We will ride into battle and crush our enemies!”
The night continued with many songs and festivities. After several hours it was called so that the warriors could rest and be ready for the plight ahead of them. Grimwald retired to his chambers but couldn’t sleep much. He was worried about the fight, but also excited. Most of his warriors were untested. Only a handful of his generals had experience and even that was from a long time ago.
They had worked on their plans for months. The vast empty fields were interspersed with woodland areas that the giants rarely went into. These places were where they had built their exits to the surface and where the units of 100 warriors would emerge to assault the creatures. Hopefully with the element of surprise. He had scouts on watch right outside who would report to their commanders in the morning right before the attack. They would adjust their plans if needed, but he felt good that they had anticipated most of the things that could change.
Finally, after he had gone over the plans again, he was able to get a little sleep. It was restful, but he could have used more. When the time came, there was a knock on the door, and he arose. His attendants came in and helped with his armor. The time had come to regain the glory of yesteryear, and he was up for the call.
Grimwald made his way to the unit he would lead into combat. His adrenaline was rushing. All of him men were there ahead of him. It was silent as he made his way to the front of the group and he mounted his steed. He would be riding solo, where most of the others were doubled up. The beasts were difficult to control, but he had a knack for it, plus he had to lead the battle and couldn’t be bogged down with a copilot.
The last few moments before the doors to the surface world seemed to drag on. The troops started to become restless as the time neared. The scouts had come back and reported in. There were not as many giants present as usual. The king was pleased with this news. Not that he had any real concerns, but because his troops were as of yet untested. Knowing they battle would be easier eased some of his tension. Soon after the signal came for the forces to go forth. The light came through the doors and he urged his mount forward. The legions of his command followed behind and they were off.
The trees covered their egress point and as they passed the foliage they spread out. In front of them were a trio of giants. The vast fields were almost empty. He knew that most of the troops would not have immediate engagements, but their leaders knew what the follow-on objectives were. The ultimate goal was to drive the enemy away and then move on to their fortress that was at the far end of the fields.
The look of the giants as they laid eyes on the large number of warriors was one of amazement. It was as if they were more than surprised, but not even aware or the dwarves existence. This was a boon for Grimwald and his people. One of them started to laugh. Were they that unconcerned about the oncoming storm? It didn’t matter. They were now committed to their action.
The giants were holding their clubs but did not move to use them. The one thing that Grimwald did not understand was the white balls that the giants struck with their clubs. His generals thought it was to practice attacking the dwarves, as overhand attacks would be ineffective on such a small foe. It worried the king, since most of the giants seemed rather good at it. That is why they went with the swarm tactics.
The other confusing this was the bright clothing the giants wore. It seemed to draw much attention. It was assumed it was more of a mating ritual. They most likely didn’t have to hide from much, so camouflage wasn’t needed. The various stripes and patterns were jarring to the dwarves and some thought it might even be a way to distract enemies.
By the time this last thought left his mind they were on the group. They were now laughing at them war party. Then the first group of troops moved to the closest giant and the lancers started to stab at the legs. Now the giant roared out in pain. The laughter stopped and the others looked worried. After a dozen weapons hit their mark, the giant started to stumble. Another group of warriors trained with grappling hooks tossed them, catching the monster’s clothing. The mounts ran away and pulled the secured ropes to try and bring the large beast down.
The first target fell to the ground with a large thud. The expert riders all managed to get out from underneath. Soon the second dwarf on each mount close to the enemy jumped on him and started to stab with their swords and axes. His companions looked on in horror and started to back away from the carnage. One swung his club at the front of the mounted group that was moving towards him. The other pulled a small device from a pocket and started to yell in it, or maybe it was his normal voice. Being do large, it would be very loud to Grimwald.
It shouted something about small people and gophers into the thing while he started to run away. The standing giant that was still there was swinging wildly. He managed to hit a couple of the troops, but it seemed more by luck that skill. The dwarves that had attacked the first target were now remounting with their original partners and heading onto the attacking giant. The first was dead and a small cheer went up as they moved on.
In the distance the king could see similar activities going on. His army was winning. He felt pride. The second enemy in front of them put up somewhat of a fight, but after less than a minute he had over 50 dwarven infantry on him, bringing him down. The third had long since ran off. They had won this battle.
As the commotion diminished in his area, Grimwald rallied his men and they headed towards their next goal. The fortress at the end of the fields. On the way he was joined by four more of his units. They had all taken out at least one giant and forced others to flee. They drew closer to the final feat before they knew they could declare victory.
It was massive, but their scouts had found a secret way in. Since the giants in the field were dispatched, the king had no fear about the next phase of their plan. As they drew closer he saw the sign the hung above the building, it read “Golden Hills Golf Course 19th hole.”