Blood in the Cruek

Cruek stood by the flowing water, using his scooper to drink from it a scoop at a time. The sun sat high over head. The temperature was warm and the air heavy. The ground beneath his feet crunched with each minor move he made, the grass not surviving long enough to remain green. It was truly a beautiful day.

When his mouth no longer felt dry, the rugged dwarf placed his scooper in the leather loop at his belt and turned away from the water. His armor - itself made of scoopers - glinted in the sunlight as he walked back to his village. Cruek breathed a sigh of contentment as he took in his home. The rounded huts would need some mending soon. A fierce dust storm had rolled through recently, causing a bit of structural damage. Nothing the builders couldn't handle, though. He'd just have to make sure they took a break from hunting in the wilderness to actually do their job.

An older female dwarf approached Cruek, arms wide. "My bhelgun, you have been neglecting your poor mother again." She gave her son a warm smile and paused with her arms wide. As Cruek moved to embrace her, he found himself struck hard in the head. His mother grimaced down at him, "You must remember your mother, yes?!"

Cruek rubbed his head, "Ow! Yes ma, I'll remember..." He quickly embraced his mother before she could strike him again. As he pulled back, he averted his eyes and said, "I said not to call me bhelgun anymore..."

His mother laughed, a hearty laugh that filled the air around them with mirth. "You are my baby, I will call you bhelgun until the last sun sets." She placed a hand on Cruek's shoulder. "Now go, you are young, enjoy your youth!"

Cruek smiled back at his mother, "Of course, ma. Yaghra tu'um." With that he set off for the home of their clan leader, the eldest of his people. The indhar always had something that could be done for the betterment of the clan, and Cruek was itching to hit the wilderness again.

The indhar's hut was a bit larger than the rest, with a few more ornate decorations adorning it. His people were simple, so decorations were rarely more than a scooper made of a precious metal. Cruek pushed the hut's flaps open enthusiastically, but was met by troubled faces. "What's wrong, indhar?"

The clan leader and the man he was speaking with, a fierce warrior by the name of Undrim, exchanged a look. The leader waved a hand, "Cruek is a good boy, and a strong fighter. He may know." Undrim seemed uneasy, but nodded his head in acknowledgedment. The leader went on, "Cruek my boy, we live in troubling times. I fear the Three-Prongeds are planning an attack."

Cruek was taken aback. He'd heard rumors that the Three-Pronged people were growing more aggressive, but he never suspected they'd be so bold as to declare all out war on another tribe. He grabbed the scooper at his side, "Then we will fight!"

The leader let out a low chuckle, "Yes lad, I'm afraid that's just what we'll have to do. But they out number us. I'm not so sure we'll win..." A look of sadness had entered his eyes as his words trailed off.

Cruek thought long and hard before answering. "Why do they attack?" He was genuinely puzzled. The tribes typically lived in a state of peace with one another. Even if they were not close allies, they generally avoided fighting when possible. The wilderness was dangerous enough on its own. Adding the difficulty of war to the mix could easily spell doom for any one of them.

The indhar got out of his chair, standing on shakey legs, "I do not know. We can't even be sure they will. It is just a rumor, which is why I have not told the others. And why you must not either!" He gave Cruek a stern look.

Putting his scooper back in its strap, the dwarf said in a proud tone, "As you wish, indhar!" He gave a simple salute, but it was dismissed with a waive and chuckle from the elder.

"Now, you are here looking for something to do in the wilds, yes?" The elder said, a gleam in his eye. At the urging of Cruek, he continued, "Our supply of boar meat grows dangerously low. Go out and hunt for as much as you can gather."

Cruek happily accepted his task, and immediately left the hut. He stopped by his family's own hut and grabbed a large war scooper. Wielding it with two hands, the dwarf took off toward the wilderness.

It took him the rest of the day to hunt the boar. He managed to fell four of them before the sun set, one of which would supply enough meat for an entire family! As he began to haul his kills back, he heard a sound in the distance that sent chills through his spine. The war song of the Three-Pronged.

Cruek rushed back to his village. He found it in a state of mild panic, everyone preparing for a battle they had not seen coming. The dwarf looked around frantically, trying to spot his brother. They would need every dwarf that could wield a war scooper, and his brother was one of the best warriors they had. But where was he?

An idea came to Cruek. He and his brother used to play by a small riverlet, the place for which Cruek was named. The place where he was born. It brought them both great peace to rest there now. Perhaps his brother had been by the riverlet, and simply did not hear the war song.

It didn't take long to reach the riverlet. Sure enough, Cruek's brother was there. "Brother, do you not hear-!" His words caught in his throat as he saw what his brother was holding. "A Three-Pronged weapon... Have you joined them?! You betray our people?!"

His brother turned around, a shocked look in his eyes. "No, no Cruek you are wrong. I am not-" Thwack The dwarf fell to his knees as Cruek's fist crashed into his head.

Cruek yelled at him, "Why do you have the Three-Pronged weapon?! Now that they attack, you wish to use it against us?!" He struck his brother again, this time knocking the weapon from his hands. Seeing it hit the ground, Cruek grabbed it and pointed it at his kin. There was nothing in his eyes but rage. He drove the weapon into his brother's chest, and screamed. He screamed in anger, in pain, and in mourning. His brother toppled over, the life gone from him.

Angry tears cut through the dust on his face as Cruek kicked his brother's body into the riverlet. Blood continued to spill out from the wound, filling the water with shades of crimson red. Turning away from the grisly sight, Cruek began stomping off back to his village.

In the far away village of the Gourds, a rumor was heard of the destruction of the Scooper tribe at the hands of the Three-Pronged peoples. The Gourds readied their defenses. They had no intention of going to war, so long as they could help it. They simply wished to continue with their way of life as they had done for centuries.

A young Gourdling sat at the water's edge, kicking his feet. His eyes closed as he took in cool air. His relaxation was interrupted as his foot suddenly came into contact with something. He opened his eyes, and screamed. His foot had hit a body.

The screams attracted a crowd. They pulled out the body and began to inspect it. It was a male dwarf, from the Scooper tribe by the make of his armor. Holes from a Three-Pronged spear perforated his chest. A Gourdling healer undid the man's tunic to look closer at the wounds, revealing a soaked scroll strapped to the inside of it.

The scroll's ink had run, making it incredibly hard to read. It took the tribe's scribe three days to get it into a semi-legible form. As they read out its contents, it was clear that it was a warning. Whoever this dwarf was, he had discovered the Three-Pronged's plan. The scroll was a battle map, complete with their strategy for the invasion. The scribe shook his head as he rolled it back up, "Shame, they might have won with this. Looks like they caught him before he could it get it back to his people."

Bhelgun: The baby of the family
Yaghra tu'um: I love you (familial)
Indhar: Clan leader title, respectful honorific

 Exit Gajol, Enter Jemm'bo Ciraas the Living Phylactery