During their time in the K'Tharkian cave, they had chanced upon a burly and loquacious bugbear named Arnax. Arnax had been wounded badly, his left leg removed at the knee - but he still lived and had holed himself up in an area of the cave where there was fresh water, food, and tons of raw supplies - so the kobold's left him there (except for occasionally trying to sneak up on him to kill him) since rooting him out was too expensive in bodies. He was alive and well off (relatively) but hobbled and unable to truly escape the caves.
This was the conversation that Arnax had with the party after they had earned his friendship - it was a nice bit of monologuing by a normally monstrous creature and their view on the way of things.
The song tellers of our clan talk of days past when the moon is swallowed by Fenris to remind us of times beyond today. I have heard the chants since I was old enough to remember and they talk of our people and the blood oath we swore to the Mountain Ogrelords of Sutur. We came armed with spear and claw, sword and fang, talon and bow – we came from the lands beyond and took revenge on the dwarves and men who had sided against the Jotun. By deed and blood we gave up our homelands and rode to glory and war against our enemy.
The song tellers talk of glory and combat as if they were the same thing, but they are neither. Combat is cruel and gritty, and should be done as fast as possible for as Fenris knows, if you hesitate, you will find yourself captured and hobbled and the only recourse you have is to bite and scratch at whatever you can sink your teeth into – missing the right opportunity until it is too late.
Drywood was our clan and the song tellers speak as if we numbered in the tens of hundreds but the song tellers must lie for our clan number 26 today…assuming I am included and no one else has passed on since I first left 127 days ago. But they talk and tell the tales of how we did as the Orgelords commanded and riches and tribute were paid to us. But that we were tricked, for the Ravens of Odin swarmed over the land on leather wings with mouths filled with lightning. They beat and broke and battered against all until even Yggradsil must have groaned and shook the entirety of the earth.
The song tellers sing then the dirge of lament where we buried our dead and howled at the moon. They talk of the pain and the need for vengeance; but we ask now, what is there to seek vengeance against? The man-cities were covered by the Ravens of Odin, the Ogrelords were beset by the Ravens of Odin, all were struck low by the Ravens of Odin. Would we seek vengeance against those who were suffered and struck the same? What glory is there in that?
The song tellers then speak of the Compact and the Homepath – and for that every clanmate would be pleased to have. The Ogrelords hold the ancestral lands closed to us – they hold the lands beyond the borders of man-cities closed to all who took the bloodoath – saying that the Compact was not filled since the goals of Sutur were not met. The Homepath is all that is open to all who followed the Flaming Banner and seek to return home. The Homepath is the way.
The Homepath costs money. Blood has not been fulfilled, so an equal value must be paid. The song tellers sing then at this time the song of hope, reminding us that the Homepath is an option and in time we will afford the passage price to go beyond the holds and passes. I have never seen the ancestral lands, neither have any alive in my clan, nor have our fathers. But we can feel it in our hearts and we would like to go home.
So we scrape together bits of treasure or pieces of information and when we get enough of it, we give it to the Ogrelords and they let us know how much more it will take to open the Homepath and we return for more.
My clan is a dying clan. There are less alive today than there were ten seasons ago and less alive than ten season before that. The time for us to afford the Homepath I fear is ending. But to say it aloud only lends weight to the matter that lurks in all of our hearts.
The K’Tharkian’s too seek to go home, but their clan is flourishing. Their numbers are stronger, their warriors numerous, their price paid to satisfy their Compact is being met faster than ours. Once according to the song tellers our two clans worked together – in the days before the ascendancy of Kuluk the Terrible.
Never before has there been a chieftain like him. Diabolical where others are cruel, sadistic where others are mean, heartless where others are petty – he has done more for his clan than any three other chiefs before him. But Terrible is his name and it is not given lightly, for he is almost a match for any of my clanmates in single combat but Kuluk is also horribly blessed by Fenris and has survived many engagements before.
K’Tharkian’s no longer count us as friends, seeing us as competition. They have much in man-treasure and much in man-coin. They have friends amongst men and use men to further their means.
A plan was made by Djark, our clan headman, that we should follow Kuluk’s brother Kraygel when he comes and leaves the homewarren to see where he gets and gathers the man-treasures he brings. I was chosen because of my skill in stealth and plants and stone. My three other clanmates were Ungar - tracker of the devil-bear and skilled in the bow, Berina – keen-eyed and swift of leg, and Lorf – who once wrestled with a great sabre-toothed cave-cat and did not get wounded.
Ungar brought us here and we snuck in, learning of what the K’Tharkian’s were doing by gathering man-castoffs and taking the best of it back to the homewarren. Of allowing man-carriages to pass on passes they watched and taking coin from them every time instead of looting the wagons at once. But we were found and the chance to retreat was cut off. We fought hard and long, Ungar dying first…then Lorf…and finally Berina. But we made it expensive for Kraygel to send his kobolds against us…so expensive that he eventually stopped. For a while.
So here I am, four months here and lamed. I know of what the K’Tharkian’s have done so far, but it helps my clanmates not since I cannot get back and tell them. Kraygel has taken 3 of my clanmates and my foot and leg…but I still live and draw breath and pierce easily any K’Tharkian he seeks to send here to assault me.
It would be nice if the song tellers would hear of my tale and add my story to their songs. But I will not be able to tell them unless I could get out of here. And Kraygel will not let me get far.