Hello, I'm back with a very interesting fantasy story today. This tale was spawned by my love of tabletop RPG's and an ebook I was reading. It was a book about special rules for Warhammer civil wars, and one of the factions called Bretonnia (an Arthurian/medieval faction) had a special rule that involved the Holy Grail. Basically, a spot that 'could' contain the Grail on the battlefield was selected. If a Bretonnian unit came near that spot, they had to stop fighting and attempt to find the Grail.
I found this rather odd. A massive battle is going on and all of a sudden warriors just stop fighting and decide to look for a mythical cup? But the more I looked into the idea of the Grail, the more I found the common theme of people dropping everything to look for it. So I asked myself what would happen if the Holy Grail was found missing and the knights began to mobilize to search for it, potentially leaving the land undefended.
Also, to add a bit more randomness to the story, I also planned out as little as possible beforehand. Almost everything you will read has been selected by a fantasy generator or a random encounter table. So I really had to think outside the box on this one! I hope you enjoy!
Night had fallen on the monastery when Tallel went inside the building. The young knight wandered past robed monks who were filing inside for their evening chants and worship, and past the red-feathered caps of the inquisitors, ducking into the shadows whenever he saw them approaching down a hallway.
Finally, Tallel made it to the common room, opening the door to find the person he was waiting for inside. Moving towards the table where she sat, he placed the leather bag in front of her.
"You idiot!" His companion hissed, recoiling from the bag. "You know you are the reason why the inquisitors are here right?"
The hood fell from the face of Tallel's companion, a beautiful brown haired priestess whose green eyes burned with rage. "How did someone like you get their hands on the Holy Grail? Did you steal it from the Royal Vault?"
"No! I don't know who did, all I know is that I found it in the wreckage of a broken-down carriage by the road. That was two days ago. There were goblin arrows and signs of magic, along with some dead knights, but nothing else. I was on patrol that day and found the wreckage, but that was it. It was just a glimmer in the debris, and when I found out what it was, I had to come see you. This is a religious object, and you're a priestess, Alexandra!"
"Every knight in Grayca is getting ready for a quest to look for that cup. To make matters worse, inquisitors are conducting their own investigation and making everyone nervous, and if all the knights leave, then we are defenseless." Alexandra whispered. "We need to put it back, the latest reports say the bulk of the knights are getting ready to leave in two days. If they leave, then there's no guarantee they'll get back in time to defend us!"
Tallel nodded, sharing his friend's concern. The knightly orders were the backbone of Grayca's defense, and no one wanted to trust the safety of the country to the disease-ridden peasant levies that would be left behind. Half of them didn't even know which end of the spear to hold!
The door at the far end of the common room opened with a creak, footsteps indicating the presence of three inquisitors. Their eyes blazed as they walked into the room, looking around before starting to walk towards the opposite door.
Sweat beaded on Tallel's forehead as he hurriedly placed the bag under the table. All he had to do was remain calm and non-suspicious, and he wouldn't be subject to the inquisitors' questions.
Alexandra straightened her hood as the footsteps of the three men became louder and louder, echoing on the stone floor as they spared them a passing glance, before exiting out the door and letting it slam behind them.
Tallel's tense shoulders lowered and he placed his sweaty forehead in his hands. "The grand vault is at least a day's ride away, in the city of Galefen, and guarded by some of the kingdoms' best men. How are we supposed to get there without being caught?"
"Well, I'm a priestess, and even the King's best men need to be blessed every now and again." The woman smiled, "And in this time of unrest. I could use a bodyguard. We will grab one of the brother's robes, and we'll have to leave tonight. There's no telling how long it will take us to get to Galefen."
"Alright, I've got a friend in the city who can give us some intel. Plus he's really good at getting into tight places." He added, stretching a bit as he glanced around the empty monastery, jumping a bit at the sounds of footsteps.
"Let's go to the stables and return that thing." The priestess smiled, standing up and dusting down her robe. "If we leave by the cover of night then the inquisitors might not notice. Come on."
A raven screeched, flapping its wings as it moved towards the pillar of smoke in the distance. It had an interesting piece of news for its master! News that would surely allow it to eat well tonight.
The winged beast flapped towards a giant metal mountain, the structure large and imposing against the wasteland. Blackened trees and churned up dirt were the only other thing the eye could see, the vision of progress that the creatures inside the mountain exposed.
The raven flapped its way into a window, cawing as it landed on the gnarled arm of a dwarf. The creature's beak opened and it leaned towards the dwarf's ear, communicating its news.
Beady black eyes gazed at the bobbing raven as the dwarf stroked his beard. Fingers adorned with rings and necklaces mined from the land underneath the mountain glinted in the torchlight. More jewelry covered every inch of the dwarf's exposed skin, from piercings to bracelets made from precious gems.
"Ah, so the Holy Grail has been stolen eh? Our goblin agents did well." The dwarf cackled, twining his beard between his fingers. "Soon those blind short-sighted knights will all go out on some pointless quest to retrieve the object, and then our hordes will charge out into their undefended lands." He cackled, standing and moving towards a large horn that was beside the open window.
Pursing his lips, he blew the horn.
The sound echoed across the darkened plain, moving through the dead trees and blackened grass with ease. When the dwarf stopped, the echoes faded... and the ground came alive.
Thousands of forms began to move in the dirt, screaming and howling as the sound faded. The patter of steel rattling and monsters growling replaced the fading horn blast, and the dwarf smiled.
Now the horde was gathering, and soon the war and plunder would begin.
If you want to know more about the evil dwarves, I'd recommend taking a look at the Chaos Dwarfs in Warhammer, as I took a lot of inspiration from them.