RECLAIMING THE HOLDS
In their arrogance – and with their vengeful eyes turned north – many of the Abyssal Dwarfs considered the Northern Alliance to be the main threat to their schemes. Hordes of soldiers poured from the spoiled holds to face their new opponent, driven by a savage lust for revenge.
With so much focus on the north, the Abyssals failed to spot the increasing number of ironclad ships sailing almost silently under the cloak of darkness and deploying troops of Imperial and Free Dwarfs along the eastern coast, near the Dewbrock Plain and Ravenswood. The dwarfs were surprised – yet relieved – to find little resistance as they crept into tunnels that had remained hidden for centuries, and headed deeper underground, away from prying eyes.
Some holds, where they had expected to find resistance from the Abyssal Dwarfs, were completely abandoned. But the Abyssal Dwarfs had not left without making their presence felt. As they had withdrawn into the heart of the mountains, they had left a trail of destruction in their wake. Through nefarious means they had turned many of the once grand halls to rubble. Ancient statues of grand lords had been reduced to mere wreckage and glorious golden runes had been stripped from once fine tableaux, no doubt to forge the gaudy armour of their fallen dwarf kin.
Distraught by the destruction of their former homes, the Free Dwarfs rallied and marched underground toward the centre of the mountains. Here they found the resistance they expected… and craved. The brock riders swarmed through the myriad passages and took the garrisons of Abyssal Dwarfs by surprise. Brocks ripped and tore at their enemies in a frenzy that was only surpassed by their rage-filled riders. The battles were brief but bloody.
Meanwhile, keen to establish safe harbour for more ironclads, the Free Dwarfs marched south and struck a hammer blow against the gathered Abyssal Dwarfs. Here the fighting was fierce, as many of the Abyssal Dwarf troops had remained behind – perhaps unaware of the fight to the north. For weeks the Free Dwarfs slammed against the fortifications or toiled beneath the mountains to uncover ancient tunnels. Yet, undeterred and driven by anger at seeing the desecration of their hallowed halls, the Free Dwarfs fought on and eventually cracked the defences. The resulting carnage was swift and brutal.
With Eastport safe, more Free Dwarfs flooded from Abercarr to join their brethren. There were many tearful reunions as families met in their former homes. Tears of joy and tears of frustration at the chaos caused by the Abyssals. But not all the celebrations were joyous. After investing in soldiers, weapons and armour to help the Free Dwarfs reclaim just a small part of their homeland, the Imperial Dwarfs insisted they should control Eastport and receive the taxes from any imports and exports to North Mantica, in order to recoup their losses. Even in the Halpi Mountains, the Free Dwarfs seemed unable to escape the yoke of Golloch.