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Midnight - Hammer and Shadow (OCR)

Midnight - Hammer and Shadow (OCR)

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Published by: Scrambled Words on Dec 28, 2012
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The First Age was riddled with constant orcish incur-
sions from the north. The orcs became more formidable foes
and adapted their tactics to match those of the dwarves they
sought to supplant. Battles between the two races tended less
toward the massed conflicts of the Time of Years, and instead
took the form of skirmishes between patrols and probing
strikes against dwarven mining operations and agriculture.
This is not to say that large formations of dwarves and orcs
never met one another in battle during the First Age; such
conflicts did happen, and they serve as pivotal and memo-
rable exceptions to the rule.
The fighting in the First Age served the dwarves well,
allowing them to perfect their tactics and defensive strategies.
Because the dwarven populations were never as high as those
of the orcs, the stout folk rarely set themselves to the offensive.
Their war was one of defense, deflection, and occasionally suc-
cessful attempts to stem the tide of orcs from their northern
warrens. The dwarves almost came to enjoy the constant fight-
ing, viewing orcs and their allies as sport. For the most part, the
dwarves remained secure, and few dwarf holds fell to invaders
during the First Age. Still, the conflict simmered constantly,
and peace was kept only through intense vigilance.
One change to Eredane during the First Age that did
affect the dwarves was the arrival of the Dorns from across
the Pale Ocean in 3951 FA. The Dorns were a warlike human
culture that had been driven from their homeland and forced
to seek succor in Eredane. They brought with them their
hunger for land and conquest, and sought to make up for their
losses in Pelluria. The fey races were unprepared for such an
enemy, the elves and small folk because they had never
known war and the dwarves because their focus had ever
been on the northern wastes. The initial assaults upon the
southern dwarves by the Dorns ended in the stout folks’
defeat. The orcs were savage enemies when compared to the
Dorns, but the southern dwarves were not as prepared for war
as were their northern cousins.
In time, the Dorns moved farther north. The conflict
between the humans and the fey lasted more than three cen-
turies. It would die down from time to time, only to flare up
again like a raging inferno. The Dorns took to slaying the
gnomes on the Eren River, and the dwarves came to the
defense of their diminutive cousins on several occasions.
Combined armies of elf and dwarf were rare, given that the
land between the two races was occupied by their mutual
enemy, but many dwarven weapons and a few dwarven tacti-
cal advisors were sent to supplement the elves’mostly inex-
perienced commanders.
In 4410 FA, a lasting peace was established with the
Dorns by elven emissaries. The Dornish people had come to
respect their enemies, both elven and dwarven, and viewed
them as equals. With the lands that they had gained, they felt
little need to continue the bloody struggle. Commerce
between the humans and the fey was far more profitable than
war had been, and the Dorns benefited greatly from gradual

20

Chapter Two: A History of War

access to dwarven craftsmanship. Though it would take cen-
turies more for the Dorns to earn the trust of the dwarven
clans, not to mention their elven allies, it did come to pass.
Peace reigned in Eredane once more, until Izrador’s rise in
5133 FAresulted in the epic Battle of Three Kingdoms.

Stander’s Ford

Of the battles between the dwarves and the Dorns, the
skirmish at Stander’s Ford in 4391 FAis perhaps the most
well known. The Dorns of House Chander had moved to the
north in search of plunder, targeting dwarven caravans that
regularly set out from the majestic halls of Caladale. At a
much-used river crossing known as Stander’s Ford, the
Dornish invaders set upon a seemingly vulnerable dwarven
caravan. Little did the Dorns realize that the caravan was
transporting hardened dwarven mercenaries to the aid of the
elves of the Veradeen. The elves were embroiled in their own
battles against orcs as well as other, less savory creatures, and
they had negotiated with the dwarves for military aid.
Lines were drawn as the initial Dornish rush was vio-
lently repulsed by the dwarven defenders. Chander’s troops
pulled back and took stock of the situation. In their pride, the
Dorns would not allow themselves to be defeated so easily.
Camps were raised, and word was sent to Chandering that a
great dwarven force had been encountered at Stander’s Ford.
Dornish reinforcements were dispatched, and the Dorns
attacked the dwarves in force on the morning of the third day.
The dwarves had made excellent use of the time between the
initial attack and the final Dornish assault. Defensive fortifi-
cations had been erected in the meantime, and their defense
was far superior to the attack that the Dorns of Chander had
mustered.

With more than half their number wiped out, the Dorns
retreated to their own roughshod camp to clean their wounds.
The dwarves, who had prepared for the retreat of their enemy,
launched a counterattack. Crossing the river, they surrounded
the Dornish camp. They offered terms of surrender using the
dwarven Kodah as their guideline. The bravery of the large
humans was not lost upon the dwarven mercenaries; though
the Dorns were their foes, the dwarves saw them as khul, or
enemies of worth. The Dorns, unaware of the honor they had
been accorded in dwarven terms, utterly rejected the offer. In
accordance with the Kogah, the dwarves launched their final
assault almost immediately, slaughtering the Dorns to the last
man.

If anything was gained from the slaughter at Stander’s
Ford, it was knowledge of a new threat: the Fell. The bodies
of some of the dead returned to a semblance of life on the fol-
lowing day, even as the dwarves were preparing them for
their funeral rites. Such a horror had never been witnessed
before, and little could be done but to cut the undead down as
they rose, lest they consume the living that remained. The sit-
uation was seen as an isolated incident, each party involved
assuming that a curse or some sort of dark magics had been

worked by the other side. It would still be two years before
the Witch Queen’s court understood the widespread nature of
theFell, but Stander’s Ford is often considered to be the first
reliable account of the undead menace that would soon come
to haunt the choked battlefields of Eredane.

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