As the dwarvencraft ax slammed through the nobleman’s armor and into his shoulder, through my storm of anger and fear sounded a voice. “Och! A true dwarf ’ould’ve felled ’im there!” In another place I’d’ve been proud of the blow i’d dealt, but I had been slighted. By an ax. I spun and slammed the ax into the other man determined to show this presence my might. “Couldn’t so much as as pierce ’is armor could ye?” My mind almost itched with the foreign presence. He was right though. It should’ve been a death blow, and i’d only dented his breastplate. As the guard pulled his master from the building, I quickly quelled the shame that swelled within me.
“I am a dwarf in all but blood!” I raged. “My father raised me in the ancient ways of the mountain!” The words echoed through my mind as though I’d bellowed them in one of the deep caves.
“Aye? Be that so?” The words dripped with sarcasm. “just cause a razor don’t scrape your chin don’t make ye a dwarf. Yer giantkin, case ye did na’ know. If some poor dwarf took you in, that be ’is decision, not me own.” The words ate at the core of my ego, casting shadow of doubt on all that I am, but no, he could not still his tongue. " ’sides, if yer father taught you so well, where is your loyalty to yer clan? Out here gallavantin about with a bunch of humans and an elf. No, laddie being a dwarf is more than facial hair and living under the mountains."
The needs of the moment ripped me from the dialogue. Fortunately, my companions believe me rather dull witted, and fail to notice anything amiss. I throw the pews over the doors to the building while the elf goes off in search of the gods know what. Pallas and Clindos secure the priest, the elf breaks a window and we dart through as the Man of Flames sends a false copy of ourselves in the other direction.
We make it to the stables unmolested and argue for a while which horses to take, and I am told my yak is too slow. We tire of fighting Clindos and take all of the steeds.
With our immediate danger passing as we flee the city I pull the axe from its sling. Truly it is a masterpiece. While the blade is of steel, a delicate and powerful tracery of the ancient runes is etched up the haft and adorns the blade. Inside these grooves lays worked mithril. This is the blade of a hero if ever there was one.
“I’ve earned many a scar protecting the clan. I fought the war of the scale from beginning to end, and now I finish my tour of duty with these folks under the command of my superior.” These words fall into the air, lost amid the thunder of hooves, the sound of the horses working harder than the bellows of a forge to move enough air to keep them running. Despite the gravity of our situation, I must continue press on with the ax. “On my honor I offered this empire a full tour for aiding us in the war. Surely you understand that ax, Blood debts and honor?” The last is more a plea than anything else. I do not know why it mattered that this ax I’d had less than a week, and known less than an hour acknowledge my honor.
“Aye, I can, more so than most, I reckon.” The voice came less harshly this time, but the anger quickly returned, “I also understand you left enemies to dwarven lands teh prosper and multiply on the doorstep of your hold. Yeh could also do a better job convincin’ me of your loyalty to this Empire of yers if’n yer arse weren’t parked upon the noble steed of the man you failed to kill. Or perhaps yeh wern’t tinkin’ I was payin’ attention to all that?”
“That noble was attempting to protect a traitor who had already tried to send us to our deaths,” I fired back hotly. “had I been certain he were in league woth the priests treachery he would already been dining in Valhalla! The loss of his steeds are but minor recompense!”
“Look, laddie, I was there and I saw the look on yer face, and I heard yeh and yer suface dwelling friends talkin’ and i’m here to say, yeh wern’t motivated by yer loyalty. Yeh were drug here there and yon by yer own ego an’ emotions. You attacked that man ‘cause he were in the way of yer own goals and ambitions. But, I can already see in yer face, yeh won’t be listenin’ to me, so ask yerself this: “who benefited from my actions today? The city? The Empire? My people? Anyone?”
“mayhap your right, and I let my emotions take the reins.” Still I didn’t wish to admit defeat. "But tell me this axe, had a man of the gods sent you knowingly to what he believed was your death for no other reason than you be in his way, would you have left him his freedom to do the same to others?
“No, I’d bring justice as quick as Thor’s hammer.” I had won! “But I wouldn’t do so at the expense of my clan.” He couldn’t let it lie, "It don’t sound as though you’ll be seeing the light any time soon. In your eyes, you be doin’ no wrong, despite the fact that yer master be shamed, that innocents be hurtin’, and the very people ye swore yer blood oath to defend are in peril. In my eyes yer just a confused giant talkin’ to yer axe.
As the reality of the situation crashes around me I am shaken to my core. I have betrayed the values father taught me. I have failed those who depend on me. I have soiled my name and with it everything that I am.
“i have behaved as a child might, without forethought to the results of my actions.”
I drop to my knees in prayer and bellow to the heavens, “Skadi, with you as my witness I will exonorate those whose names have been soiled by my actions!”
“attaboy, lad.” I hear from the base of my mind. Then the silence returns.