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Oh Well, Bears will be Bears





The backboard of the wagon split with a loud crack! Several of the marauding Orcs looked around at the noise but the majority kept rummaging and looting through the caravan. The Fight had been brutal but short and the Orcs still had the fevered glaze of battle in their eyes as they pillaged what they could from the caravans remains, the humans had put up almost no fight at all once they had been surprised on the road by the Orc warband that had burst from the rocks and trees at the side of the road and swept down upon them to slaughter all before them.

Azbhag stood on a large boulder at the side of the road and watched his warriors tearing the wagons to pieces in their search for loot. Here and there were the pathetic bloodied bundles of the wagon’s original owners. Azbhag wondered about the caravan, the folk had seemed almost resigned to their fate and were carrying next to nothing of any real value in their worn carts. He had brought his band of marauders down from the Northern Mountains to the plains here in the hope of rich pickings but the people here were poorer than the goblins they had previously preyed upon, if he didn’t get some decent loot or a good fight or both soon, he would be struggling to retain leadership of his Warband.

He was just about to step down and start asserting his authority when he heard the sound of a horn in the distance, followed by a second blast on the horn which was cut short suddenly. He then heard a series of squeals that got steadily louder, then with a crash and a clatter of trotters several large bloodsplattered Pigs hurtled out of the treeline with terror in their eyes, the entire Orc band stood and watched as the frantic animals raced past them and then tore off down the track.

“Ain’t dey the Scouts?” one of the Orc Warriors said whilst hefting his shield and turning towards the trees, from which a crackling noise was emanating.

“Dey Was” added another, drawing his crude serrated sword from his belt. “Fink Dats what is left”, the other Orcs began to move together to form a crude line formation between the wagons and the treeline, weapons and shields at the ready as the crackling noise got louder until it was recognizable as the breaking of branches by something large moving through the trees. Azbhag tried to spot what was approaching from his vantage point on the rocky slope above the road, he knew they were on the edge of the Free Dwarf lands but so far they had evaded any of the patrols they knew were out there, but now it looked as if their luck had run out, still a good scrap against some sneaky Dwarf Rangers or a chance to batter some Badger Riders was a welcome break from the usual Humans or occasional Halfling Tinkers they had encountered so far. “Ok” Azbhag thought to himself, the noises coming from the woods were not consistent with Rangers and sounded a bit large to be the hated Brock Berserkers but he was sure it was nothing his Warriors couldn’t deal with.

With an earsplitting roar an enormous Bear burst from the Trees, its armoured head swinging back and forth as it espied the line of Orcs in the road, with another roar the Bear surged forwards revealing the Heavily armoured Dwarf Lord riding atop its back. The bear was clad in leather with metal armour fastened to it, large plates covering its head and forequarters which were also spattered with Orcish blood from the unfortunate Scouts. The Bear reached the line of Orcs and promptly crushed two orcs together between its armoured paws seemingly without effort.

“surround it! Bring it down” yelled Azbhag, realising that the Orcs best chance was to mob the Beast with numbers, a chance that vanished as a second Bear crashed out of the trees and charged into combat, then a number of semi naked wild haired Dwarfs came hurtling out of the paths carved out of the forest by the mighty Bears and then, without hesitation, threw themselves against the Orcs. The Orcs were no novices to combat having exercised their banditry in the Mountains for years, but the shear ferocity of the Dwarf attack had them reeling and as their casualties mounted their nerve broke and they ran, Azbhag amongst them, up the slope and away from the road, leaving the Dwarfs jeering and shouting on the road below.

Bjoern removed his helmet and watched the Orcs run, he narrowed his eyes as he caught sight of the larger Orc that kept casting looks back over his shoulder.

“They’ll be back” he spat, “we didn’t get their leader”.

“Let them Come, we’ll be ready” said his brother, Bodin, from the back of his Bear as he watched it worrying the corpse of one of the Orc raiders.

“Gather the Corpses! Burn them as a warning and see if any of those wagons can be saved” Bjoern shouted to the Berserkers, “but who will suffer first? Man or Dwarf? “Asked Bjoern of Bodin more gently as he wheeled his mount around “the Bears are few and the Orcs are growing in numbers”

Without waiting for an answer Bjoern and his massive mount set off down the road in the direction of the Bowland Hold the refugees had been heading towards.

 



The Bear Clan.

Once the Halpi Mountains were home to all manner of large creatures, with their proximity to the Mammoth Steppes and the Abyss, the presence of giant Wolves, Bears and Ravens was not considered unusual and the Dwarfs that lived in the mountains quickly made use of their natural neighbours. The Direwolves proved to be too savage and untameable but the Giant Bears and Ravens were more intelligent and proved to be more suited to form partnerships with Dwarfs, joining them in battle and eventually allowing the Dwarfs to ride them as mounts. The Bear Clan of the Halpi Mountains were the prime example of these partnerships, riding their Armoured Giant Bears to war whilst accompanied by groups of these massive creatures that aided them in combat.

When the Free Dwarfs were fighting against the Abyssal Dwarfs and their Ratkin slaves and goblin Allies the Bears were instrumental in holding off the hordes of attackers. However, their numbers, never great at the best of times, were not enough to turn the tide and despite heroic deeds and epic battles the Bear Clan was defeated and reduced to a Handful of the Clans best warriors riding their Bear mounts. No longer would they be accompanied by Armoured Bears fighting alongside them and the remaining Bears were now exiled from their Homelands.

Some settled in Gollochs Empire but the majority chose to remain Free and travel to the new homes granted to them by the Dwarf King Golloch. This further diluted the strength of the Bear Clan and now when the Free Dwarfs march to war they are usually accompanied by only a Handful of the mighty Lords of the Bear Clan on their Armoured Bears.

The Bears that are left are jealously protected by their riders and they will only come forth in times of outright War and in great need, it is interesting to note that those of the Bear clan that fled Northwards instead of to the South have found a home with the Northern Alliance and these Clansmen have adapted their Bear riding skills to the equally large Frostfangs that are native to the Northern reaches, thus proving that Free Dwarfs can thrive wherever they are forced to be.



 

 

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