Gori Ironhair was alone.
He did not notice the pain from his wounds or his blood soaked clothes. He did not notice the gashes in his armor and tunic that would need repairing. He did not notice that he was out of Throwing Axes and that his Battleaxe had a large nick in its edge. No, these things he did not notice. What he did notice was the complete and utter silence of being alone.
He was surrounded by other Dwarves of course. All of them laying in the grotesque forms of death. Blood still steamed from the fatal gashes of many in the cool air. They were all recently departed. But the final attack of the Dragonslayer Clan had worked. Gori Ironhair was alone but he also stood face to face with the Gates of Ashenwood.
The Gates of Ashenwood were not nearly as impressive in person as they were in the tales he had been told as a youngster. Only the Dragon Guard ever had access to the Gates and what lay beyond them. Yes, the carvings of the 'Outside World' were intricate and impressive, but the Gates themselves were really no bigger than any other door he had ever seen. But that was the last thing he was thinking about as he stared at them.
It was what lay beyond that had frozen Gori. But he had made it this far and he wasn't going to turn back now. He didn't have a choice really. Everyone else was dead. Everyone. The remains of the Dragon Guard lay at his feet. And Firesides Finest. The Darkside Raiders. Gori himself was a Soldier of the Dark Watch. He had been one of 12 who had survived the initial attack. One of six that had made it back to Firesides Bastion. He had been the only survivor from the Dark Watch that made it out of the Bastion, along with a ragtag band of the Finest and a dozen other units. He supposed he should consider it an honor to have been included in with the Dragon Guard but it had been a suicide mission from the start. Ever since all the women and children....
He shook his head to clear it. No, he wasn't to dwell on those things. King Yuri Dragonslayer himself lay closest to the Gates, face contorted in a grimace of death. One hand still reached for the Gates though it was missing nearly half its fingers and palm. Those lay not far away, with a now bloodied satchel. The Satchel. Gori's eyes fixated on it. Staring at it seemed to warm his insides, to loosen his oh so tired muscles. The Satchel. It was no longer his duty to protect the Satchel but to deliver it. But he had never stepped outside before. Could he do it?
The sound of metal raking against stone, of thousands of feet marching in unison, echoed up the hallway towards him. Without looking back, he bolted forward and grabbed the Satchel, slinging it over his shoulder before throwing his weight against the Gate. Rusting Hinges that had not been opened in untold years screeched in protest but slowly started to budge. Tired muscles drained of blood as he threw everything he had left into it. Slowly, the Gate of Ashenwood opened. It opened just enough for his tired body to slip through the gap. He threw all his weight into his back, pushing the Gate closed. A rusting bar of Iron caught his attention and he grabbed it, sliding it through the equally strong handles on this side of the door.
He doubled over then, catching his breath, before looking around. He seemed to be at the end of a mineshaft. So much for all those tales he had heard. Well, there could still be some truth to them. The first thuds sounded behind him as THEY reached the Gate, setting his heart to panic mode again. It was time to get moving.
"Come on, Gori." He says aloud to himself. "Time to go on that adventure you always wanted." Straightening up and regaining some of his pride, Gori set off along the old mine tracks, following a slope that started to rise and rise towards the surface.