Adventures of an Oathbearer
This month’s WAR Beta Journal comes courtesy of the Beta Forums and describes a heart pounding adventure for a new Oathbearer.
I opened my eyes. Was it the cannon that woke me? I'm used to them, but not even a weary Dwarf could sleep through the reverberating thunder of Helga firing, and the cheers that always follow. Even I, tired as I am, sit up and raise my arm, hollering out with the boys, "For Helga!" What a story that is, and I hope that when my day of peace comes, Dwarfs will celebrate the memory in such a fine way.
Standing up, my fingers find their way to the reassuring presence of the spanner at my side, the last living memory of the Dwarf who gave it to me, before he bore his oath to a darker place. A finer Dwarf there never was.
I'm in Modrin's Anvil, heart of the Bitterstone Mine, and lately I've been helping the crew to fire the forge and haul the enormous shot for Helga, and what we put in her smaller cousins. Humble work, but I'm proud to do it. From behind me comes the loud report, "KARK!" But it's not the sound of the cannon lined up and firing into the dimwit Greenskins on the far side of the chasm, a thing that has come to seem as good as beer foam, it's Commander Redaxe. Suppressing a sigh, I spin on my heel and salute. "What's old longbeard want this time," I wonder to myself.
"Brunhilda," he says, "Yer just the Dwarf I've been lookin' fer."
"More coal, Sir?" I reply automatically. If I'd said I'd more than barely slept, it'd be a fib.
"This is more important than coal hauling, Brunhilda. This is Bitterstone business," he says with a grim emphasis.
"Me!?" I squeak back, "I'm just a coal-hauler!"
"Not anymore," he says. "All that liftin' has made you strong as an ox, and now it is time for you to bear the Oath."
"Yes, sir!" I shout back to my surprise. I've never fought anything but shovels and carts, till now. Still, it won't stop me from trying. An Oathbearer at last!
Redaxe slaps a shield on my left arm and puts an axe in my right. Then he loads my back up with a push-box and great big sack of TNT. Is this what it is to be an Oathbearer, I wonder, feeling the heft of all those high explosives on my back. "Greenskins are digging through our tunnels", he says "There's been a breakthrough down in the main chamber. I'm counting on you to get down in the tunnel and use those charges to collapse it. Just you be careful, now, those beasties love the taste of TNT more than they love the taste of you. Just swing that axe like a mallet..." he explains, but the incredible 'BOOM!' of Helga shakes the stones we stand on, and I just nod at the instructions he mouths, not wanting to look like a dumb coal-shoveling Dwarf now that I'm an Oathbearer.
The main cavern is awe-inspiring, and I don't mean only the grandeur of my ancestors work. I mean the horde of beasts bounding all around it. What monstrosity they might be, I've no idea, but Commander Redaxe said they'll eat anything, even stone. I quickly descend the staircase and hug the wall, trudging towards the closest tunnel, careful to stop whenever one of the bounding beasties leaps past. Slowly and surely I make my way into the tunnel and find the right fork, excited and proud. "I'm doing it," I reassure myself...
The first thing I hear is a growl that sounds like some old mutt hound grumping about arthritis, a deep bass sound mixed with a whine of pain and longing. Cowering behind my shield I peek at the worst thing I have ever imagined. Not but feet away is a mouthful of dagger teeth on legs, squinting at me through these tiny, weepy, beady eyes. Its jaws are horrifically large, saliva running down like ropes. I realize that it's making that noise because it is so hungry the corners of its mouth are quivering in anticipation of the meal I'm about to make!
I think about ditching the explosives and saving my skin, but no Oathbearer would do such a thing, and neither will I. The beastie leaps at me with a terrific bound and before I can react the giant slavering mouth is wrapped around the top of my shield, shaking it so forcefully I'm pulled to the ground. Quick as I might, I try to get up, but the horrid thing has taken hold of the TNT on my back and is dragging me, but where? Dropping my axe, I grab hold of a spur of bitterstone and put all my strength into resisting him. In a desperate tug of war we hold, still in motion, when finally my pack tears and we split apart like the snap of a ligament.
I scramble to my feet, desperate to get away from all the explosives. The beastie takes down half my pack in a gulp and bounds for me, jaws wide. I reach for my axe, but there isn't time. Instead, my hand moves to the comfort of that spanner, and with all my strength and weight I heave it in one mighty blow square between the eyes before I'm knocked off my feet and tumbled about. Moments later, I get up. The beastie is twitching and making that mutt noise, but not moving. I grimly grab my axe, and make sure he stays that way.
Gathering up the explosives, I make my way deeper into the tunnel and fulfill the first of many Oaths. We're safe. For now.
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