Chapter 16 - The War Of The Midgets
I could hear the warhorn sound for the battle to start and noticed the Draugr entering my domain. I had specifically spread it far down the tunnel the dwarfs came from, for exactly this scenario.
The Draugr ran towards the dwarfen company defending the first gatehouse into the village. Their eyes filled with battle lust, excitement, and greed, characteristics defining the Draugrs’ being. The defenders were resolute and stubborn, not wanting to ever give up their home to someone else, especially the Draugr.
Both of the forces were sure to not flee on the spot, the Draugr thought themselves in the lead and were too much in love with brutality and fighting. The dwarfs on the other side were too strong-willed and stubborn to ever give up what they called theirs and would rather die than see the Draugr take their home.
The Draugr were now closing in on the defenders and the dwarfs’ frontlines were planting their shields into the ground. Behind them the spear wielders were setting up their lances, the tunnel being large enough to allow the usage of the long weapon. In the backlines, dwarfish archers nocked their bolts and were ready to lose the projectile.
Withing the archers' hands was a quite clever contraption, a result of their hastened metalworking development. It was a weapon made of wood and metal, similar to the bow the aggrand used. The contraption was called a compound bow, it enabled to archer to shoot more arrows in a second by using a reloading mechanism.
The archer would draw back the string and lay it onto the bolt inside the magazine, which was connected to the bow itself. Once the string was strung, it would shoot out the bolt. To reload the archer had to simply draw back the string, which clicked a trigger and a new arrow would be ready to be shot.
It was an ingenious contraption designed by a Ysgardian dwarf, the elder of metalworking who before was the elder responsible for the military. He had abandoned his position because of his love of metalworking and evolved from a shield dwarf into the tier 5, Ysgardian dwarf.
Though the weapon was very powerful only a few were produced because of its complexity and the strength that was needed to use it. But this enabled the smiths to use more precious metals such as the blazing steel that was used for the compound bow and the fire imbued iron. Together this resulted in a burning iron bolt catching any enemy on fire.
This was also readily visible in the first hail of arrows and bolts raining down on the Draugr. Some of them were immediately lit up, surprising the enemy and brightening up the dark tunnel. The Draugr simply ignored the horrific weapon and continued their charge.
Once the Draugr arrived at the dwarfs' side they revealed what trait they traded in for their lesser intelligence and ingenuity. Instead of the dwarfs' high ingenuity and robust bodies, the Draugr evolved control over the shadows and vastly higher agility and battle sense.
The Draugrs frontline fighters, some of the strongest ones, masterfully evaded the spear strikes through agility alone or with their dark powers. They flooded the shield wall with shadows making it difficult for the dwarfs to see.
To the dwarfs' rescue came another contraption they build to fight against the Draugrs shadows. They had farmed glowing crystals they found in their surroundings and used them to create artificial sunlight. These flare grenades brightened up an area, banishing the shadows and weakening the Draugr.
Back to an equilibrium the fight slowly continued, though the Draugrs larger numbers slowly overwhelmed the dwarfish company protecting the first gatehouse. The dwarfs ordered for an ordered retreat and slowly gave ground to the Draugr forces.
To cover their retreat the archers doubled their fire and apartments popped open in the gatehouse, letting oven more arrows rain down on the enemies. The dwarfs themselves either fled through the narrowly open main gate or some side passages which later were collapsed, closing them up.
The Draugr meanwhile tried to kill as many dwarfs as possible or to even get access to the area beyond the gatehouse. Though a large number of flares and arrows were able to stop their attempts and intrusion.
When all the dwarfs were safely behind the gate they grouped up again and took care of any injured. Those in good condition continued to fire down arrows through the various arrowslits and apartments.
The Draugr though retreated slightly, in preparation of knocking down the gatehouse. With a loud roar, a beast of shadowy flesh thundered down the large tunnel. Chains and weird sigils adorned its body and it was ridden by a group of powerful-looking Draugr.
Through the information I got from the Draugrs I knew this creature to be called an ephemeral Monoclonius, a tier 4 peek shadow creature. It was a dimwitted, stupid, and foolish monster, using its large size and hard to damage the body to ram anything, literally anything. One of the Draugr even had a memory of one of these creatures ramming its own reflection in the water.
This stupidity made them relatively easy to control if they were willing to ignore the pointless deaths due to the creature‘s not present brain. Though it was a practical creature to have, because of what it may lack in the brain it packs in the muscles and size.
The colossal creature charges the gatehouse, its steps sending waves through the floor and knocking down boulders from the ceiling. During its charge, it was continuously shot at by the protecting dwarfs, which hectically fled once they saw that their attacks were for naught. Not only was the hard skin too thick for the normal bows to penetrate the ephemeral nature allowed in to shrug off most of the damage.
Once the creature had finished its charge it crashed into the gatehouse with an ear-bursting gong. One of the metal gates had been broken off its hinges and once it crashed into the ground the gong stopped and dust covered the area. The Draugr retreated the massive creature, being protective of their gate breaker because it was their only good opportunity to make it inside the village. Though on its way back dozens died from the monster's unconcerned steps.
The Draugr charged after the flabbergasted dwarfs who hadn’t yet fully reformed on the other side. Just as the battle was going to break out a heavy squad of dwarfs distracted the enemy. It consisted of a party of 10 tier 4 dwarfs decked out in top gear, they brought mayhem to the enemies' battlefield and allowed the others time to reform.
After the short break, the battle resumed before the second gatehouse. Now two companies fought against the attacking force, nearly all of the dwarfs' normal troops. The battle continued similar to before, but now the dwarfen frontline prematurely ignited the flares to stop the Draugrs from using shadows. This strategy worked quite well until the frontmost dark dwarfs took a strange kind of concoction.
Upon consumption, their power rose drastically and their abilities were halted by the bright light. The dwarfs had to again retreat back into the gatehouse, their morale slightly broked down from the two recent retreats and losing battles in-between.
Just as before the gate breaker was again called to open the gates and started its charge. Though to the Draugrs dismay and the dwarfs cheering the monster stumbled because of a sneaky little move the dwarfen elites pulled of last second.
While they ordered their troops to retreat they had created a pitfall and altered an arrow trap to halt the beast's charge. The companies didn’t know of this and their morale was recovered upon realizing their leaders' mischievous plan.
During the beast's retreat to again start a charge it was heavily fired upon, flares, arrows, and empowered bolts were used to injure the monster. And it worked, the bright grenades were able to temporarily weaken the ephemeral trait and even hurt it with normal arrows.
This together with the stronger gatehouse, which needed two charges, allowed the dwarfs to kill the beast once it had broken through the second gate. The monster slumped down and became a part of my collection, sure to be used in the future.
Same as before a retreating battle assumed once the gatehouse fell, though the Draugr were constantly bombarded by the whole dwarfish force and the traps laid out on the way. Once the dark dwarfs were able to push the normal ones into their last layer of defense they were looking worse for wear.
A large number of troops had been killed and only the elite remained. The troops were looking like they wanted to retreat, even pushing back their battle lust when the true force of the Draugr arrived.
They weren’t a lot but their power was even sensed by the dwarfs behind the gate. The enemies' new forces ranged from tier 3 to tier 5 weak and rode on various beasts such as dark wolves for the tier 3 lesser shadowmares for tier 4 and even minor Nighthaunts for the three, tier 5.
Once they had caught up to the remaining forces they used their shadowy powers to strengthen the remaining troops. This allowed the forces to get to work on the gatehouse without the strength of the ephemeral Monoclonius. Blocking off any arrowslits or windows they were unobstructed during their breakthrough.
Meanwhile, the dwarfs strengthened the gatehouse and constructed stronger defenses on the other side. Opposite the dwarfs, the Draugr used their shadow, beasts, and tools to break through the powerful gate.
Especially the weak tier 5 were very helpful in this regard, corrupting swaths of metal and corroding it into dust. Their ability was actually quite similar to mine, just way, wayyy simpler, instead of transforming the material they just broke it down and then destroyed it.
But over time this enabled them to break through to the other side, the relatively slit only allowed them to come through in small numbers. They tried to get a good position by sending the tier 5s first but they sustained significant damage.
The defenses on the other side immediately started to fire at the invading force. Bolts, arrows, boulders, traps, and flares were met by the Draugrs rapidly weakening shadow shield. Once it fell the dark dwarfs had all their troops on the village's side but saw the situation turning for the worst.
The assembled forces were larger than expected and the defenses more advanced than assumed. In a desperate fight for survival, they tried to break through the defensive line and make it towards the opposite side of the village.
They couldn’t go back, the small opening would only allow a few to escape the massacre. But maybe they were able to escape through the tunnel they saw on the other side. What they didn’t know was that the tunnel actually was the entrance to my dungeon.
In a quick decision, I decided to help the Draugr forces escape the dwarfs, maybe something good would come out of this. I send some small animals that looked natural in the dwarven village to hinder the dwarfish forces. And stealthily supplied the area surrounding the Draugr with more mana, allowing them to waste more of it.
In the end, about 30 of them reached my dungeon, I unconsciously guided them through with unnoticeable hints and blockades until they reached the concealed tunnel into the other cave system.
The dwarfs following them lost them quite fast and assumed that they died inside my dungeon. They still positioned some guards around my entrance but quickly relaxed and celebrated the victory and the dead.
This night would always remain in my memories and carve into stone the fact that dwarfs truly drank beer and ale like they breathed the air or worked on metal.
On the other side, the Draugr sacked down exhausted, and prepared to leave. Though in the night I planted some “gifts” and incentives for them to convince them that they should stay just right here.
The battle was won and the Draugr had lost but I surely came out on top of the war. Without investing a single troop I had won insane amounts of mana and information, got a more loyal village of dwarfs thankful for my ores and mana, and got access to a completely new race that would dive my dungeon.
Dungeon life is a good life!!!