So, I just found this in a folder of mine - wrote it right after Tamurkhan came out. GM wanted a quick backround for our characters, so I gave him this - I played Bilgaames (AKA Axebeard the Dwarf), while my friend played BeardAxe the Dwarf.
Hope it makes some progressional sense - and, admittedly, I took more than a couple liberties with canon material when writing, so here goes. Never posted a story before.
The black stone walls of the soul-forge shuddered arrhythmically, a great leviathan heaving its next breath. Hundreds of ragged human and orcish slaves worked the enormous bellows that fuelled the furnace at the centre of the room; with each pull on the bellows, the room was showered in waves of heat. Enkiir watched the daemon furnace belch an eruption of soot and ash from its metal frame, catching several men by surprise. Their already blistered flesh sloughed away leaving a conjoined screaming mess behind. Dull-eyed slaves shambled towards the mess and pulled it out of the room; work continued as before.
Enkiir waited patiently by his master�?Ts side, the Castellan knew better than to interrupt Izdubaar the Pale while he performed the binding rituals. His news could wait. It would have to wait. His attention was caught briefly by several dozen emaciated slaves being guided into the furnace by a pack of snarling, prodding hobgoblins. Another blast of heat scorched the area around the furnace. More slaves were caught, including one close to Enkiir. The hellish air rippled and danced in front of him, forcing him a step back. His armour was proof to fire, but the soul furnace sorely tested its protection. His eyes stung as ash whipped about him.
Prophet Izdubaar raised his naked arms to the sky as he stood in front of the furnace, the appendages long-ago turned to living marble. He chanted the words to the binding, each syllable hammering the fabric of reality. Enkiir felt the words physically, pulling at his mind, driving nails into his skull. He sighed in relief as Izdubaar’s voiced finally stopped, and the world seemed to pause for a moment. The prophet thrust his hands into the furnace and tore out a writhing, pulsing wreath of flame. Knowing better than to look into the flame, Enkiir directed his attention to the dispassionate face of his master. Enkiir’s ears felt plugged, and he realized the entire forge was muted, dull, as if all the sound in the room had been inhaled by the writhing, flaming worm held by his master. The silence shattered as Izdubaar hurled the flame downward to smash against an iron amulet; the world was fire, pain, and cacophony for Enkiir.
Over the screams of slaves the castellan could hear his master driving his hammer against the amulet, sealing the ritual. The screams faded as the slaves burned, and the smoke began to clear allowing Enkiir his vision back. He watched Izdubaar hammer the amulet purposefully, each strike forcing a bit more of the fiery maggot inside. A voice crawled its way into Enkiir’s head, sibilant whispers that lurched his stomach.
Unbind me, Dwarf. You can’t imagine your own pain when I escape this metal tomb.
Izdubaar continued to hammer, his marble features contorted in an arrogant sneer. Each crash of steel on steel-on-iron staggered the voice.
It’s in your best interest to release me, Dwarf. I will shower you in rewards. I know what you desire.
Enkiir closed his eyes as he felt the daemon’s delicate caress combing through his mind. Izdubaar appeared to ignore the entreats, forcing the flame further into the amulet.
Let me go. Release me. Please release me. I can give you anything!
The voice was becoming shrill as the binding continued; the flame desperately whickered and struggled as the Prophet drove it into the iron pendant. Izdubaar held the hammer above it for a moment, staring into the living flame before slamming it home one final time. The voice was cut silent immediately, and Enkiir was left in a dead room with his master. Every other living thing had been immolated, and the quiet left in the wake was severe.
“My master, I have news.” The Castellan spoke more to remove the horrid silence than anything. “Morsnik has sent runners regarding the Smith.”
Izdubaar turned his ashen features to the Castellan, indicating he continue.
“He was seen in a place called the Moot by humans. Filled with the halfling creatures. It appears he’s taken refuge in a mercenary company.”
“Ahhh”, Izdubaar exhaled a chortle. “How long until they find him?”
“The hobgoblin was unspecific. Let me find him, master.”
Izdubaar lifted his stone hand to rest on the Castellan’s shoulder as he shook his head, “No, no. You stay here with me. I am at war, Enkiir. Drazoath’s alliance with the Warlord was a failure, the council knows it, and I am next in line. Drazoath will fall, and until he does, I need you with me. Morsnik, disgusting little creature he is, knows how to find people. He’ll do the job.”
Enkiir nodded his head. “Why not make your move now? Drazoath is weak, his position untenn-” his words were cut off by Izdubaar’s backhand, driving the Castellan to his knees.
“You dare question? Remember your place, Castellan! I will not move against Drazoath until the Smith is found, and my weapon crafted.”
The Castellan lowered his head, “Of course, my master. Forgive me.” The Smith had to craft the weapon, but what weapon? Izdubaar had been listening to that Hashut-damned Lamassu. Enkiir was worried for his master, and he loathed every word or suggestion that came from the lips of his hideous mount. He raised himself from the floor and turned away, “I will send word to the Hobgoblin immediately. He is to find the Smith, take him alive, and bring him to you.”
“See that you do, Enkiir.” The prophet turned away, back to the amulet lying on the anvil. “Our family reunion is long overdue, Bilgaames.”
The blacksmith worked hard at his forge, barely aware of the chattering mercenary camp around him. Bilgaames squinted his eyes as the wind turned the coal smoke back into him. He shifted positions, and continued to hammer against the anvil, churning out a breastplate.
The Axebeard clan dwarf had been good to him. Food, shelter, a place to work. All he could want for, really. The smith felt no shame in misleading the dwarf into believing they were distant kin; if he hadn’t, both he and Beardaxe would have come to blows. A missed opportunity for both.
He removed the plate from the anvil and dropped it into the wooden bucket by his feet. Steam hissed at him and the water boiled instantly. He withdrew the plate and dragged it towards his wheelstone.
This is what he wanted. To smith. To work iron and steel and copper and brass. The smith wasn’t a sorceror, didn’t want to become a sorceror. He knew, better than most, that to take that path was death. He refused to be a piece in the councils’ games.
As he pumped the wheel, the plate ground to a fine shine. He removed the breastplate from the wheel and set it back against the anvil. His hammer rose and fell as he inserted the binding rivets.
There was comfort in this, and the smith was very, very good at it. He missed his people, on occasion, but he would not be used as a weapon unless it was on his own terms. The goat-beast had whispered promises to the smith as he was growing up, and it was almost too late before he realized the Lamassu was not be trusted. He was being groomed his entire life, guided, aimed.
He barked for his boy to take the plate away from him to toss into the pile. The sheepish human grinned widely and nodded his head, taking away the iron. The smith would finish the leather clasps in the afternoon.
Now he would never quite know what they wanted from him, but he felt comfortable in that ignorance. Since he had left the Plains of Zharr, the smith had become better and better in his craft, being forced to work with sub-par tools and near worthless iron, he had forged armour and weaponry for the mercenary band unlike they had ever seen. They ignored most of his eccentricities, and he provided arms and armour: a solid partnership.
The boy gone, the smith removed his skullcap, revealing pearlescent stumps an inch across, and a half inch long protruding from his brow. He removed a file from a case at his belt and began to shave down the horns until they were little more than stubs, concealed by both his braided hair, and iron circlet. He heard shouting, human voices with their nasally screech. Something was rousing the company. The smith pulled the circlet into place to conceal his growths and walked out of his tent.
“Axebeard!” growled a harsh, dwarven voice. The smith turned his head to see his dwarven “cousin”.
“Beardaxe. News from the moot?” He replied. His dwarven accent was gutteral, barely comprehensible to most dwarves, but he had passed it off as being from Zhufbarr, a Hold distrusted by his new allies.
“Aye! Tha’ Beasts are on the move, we meet 'em in a hour or so, north west from 'ere. Suit up!”
The smith nodded his head, snatching a wide-faced hammer from beside his anvil and hefting it to his shoulder. “Lead on, brother.”