Thane Danro Blackrock called a halt - his people had been marching all day and even a dwarf needed a break once in a while. The sun had been beating down on their heads, the sky cloudless. It was hot - far too hot. Danro removed his helm and wiped the sweat from his eyes as he squinted round the clearing as his troops set to preparing a camp. It was three months since High King Stonebeard had declared they would head out to meet their enemies. Much of that time had been spent celebrating and toasting the forthcoming destruction of their enemies and the mere memories of his hangover still made his head ache.
The Blackrock family were a relatively young family in the Hold. They had gained their wealth only recently when one of their prospectors had stumbled across a rich seam of adamantine. Their subsequent elevation to the ruling council in Karak Al Kaika, some hundred years ago now, was inevitable after such an incredible find but when comparing themselves to the other ruling families, established a few hundred years a piece, they still felt they had much to prove. When the given the option to lead the first advanced force in King Stonebeard's Grudge War, Lord Harak Blackrock seized the opportunity and sent forth two of his sons, Danro and Alric. Danro, the senior, was given command with Alric his second and standard bearer. They were sent out to scout the land and search for the Hammer of Rotek, lost by Thane Tarric Redmane during a patrol through the edge of the Deep Forest. The patrol had been ambushed by forces unknown and wiped out. The loss of the Hammer was a footnote in the Book of Grudges, but it was a stain on Clan Redmane who had sent along Condor Redmane, one of the senior Runesmith apprentices. If they could find the Hammer he would be able to check its authenticity.
Danro, Alric and Condor sat down for dinner as their troops cut down a few trees to make a fire. Suddenly, a shout was heard from the sentries followed by the unmistakable sound of bowstrings twanging. There were grunts of pain and the crashing of dwarven warriors running through the wood before an ominous silence. Danro and Condor looked at each other and hurried for the sounds of the disturbance. They found the first of the sentries lying in a heap at his post. The other three were a few hundred paces out, clearly shot down as they ran after something. All were stuck through with long, thin arrows. Condor pulled one out. "Hmmm" he looked at the whittled wooden tip. "Elven. And there is only one type of Elf living in these parts."
"Bring in the remaining sentries" instructed Danro. "These Elven bastards will skulk in the trees and pick them off. If they aren't going to let us pass through we will have to lure them out."
Alric was checking the map. "There is an ancient grove nearby. They will certainly come out in force to protect that."
"Good idea. We will make for there in the morning. Have Trenval's miners hit the caves - I want them ready to give out hosts a nice surprise when they come out to play."
The three leaders made their way back to the camp fire, unaware that hidden eyes were watching them. Suddenly the verdant forest was hostile territory. It was an uneasy night's sleep for the dwarven force.