The chill winds of the Border Kingdoms howled down through the Battlements of Stonehammer with a lonely dirge. Its glistening towers drew attention away from the scars that would not heal. The blood stained lower walls, whose tribute to the cheapness of men's lives, would not wash away.
Many good men and women had ended their lives here; Cimmerians who had lovers, children, lives that were never to be lived as they once might have been, not to mention the heaped bodies of our foes, whose corpses became a burden to cart away rather than a trophy of our many victories...
We had aspired to do what no other Cimmerian Clan had ever done. We had scraped, fought and died for this fortress, sacrificed the warm fires, the encouraging embrace of our loved ones, all so that Cimmeria would be protected from the outlanders.
But now, we considered not only our fate, but the fate of our women and children and the well being of Cimmeria.
Perhaps it was a wisdom we should have heeded. For generations, many other Cimmerian tribes had swarmed into the Border Kingdoms and decimated the foreigners' fortresses, but never had a clan aspired to hold one of these monstrous monuments to man's brutality. And hold one we did, for many MANY moons. We broke the backs of our foes, and heaped their corpses upon one another.... But did it stop the incursions into Caelnach? Did it feed our children and warm our kin?
No, perhaps it was folly. Perhaps we forgot the simple tribal wisdom of our culture when we aspired to such lofty goals...
And so we took council. The Warlords of Snowhawk gathered in the dark, sooty Feasting Hall of Stonehammer, and decided its fate.
It was not an easy decision. It cut deep, to think that all the lives sacrificed, and all the hours spent, was just a passing and futile attempt to keep back the tides of the oceans; to slow the hands of time, but it was no longer viable. Our clan tightened its belt to keep the walls standing, to the point of starvation, and to what avail?
It was time. The decision did not come easily, there were many angry voices, and many passionate arguments were heard, but in the end, the Warlords of Snowhawk decided that withdrawal was our only option; we could no longer stop time in its tracks at the expense of our kinsmen.
The winds swept down and left a dew upon the brow of the lone figure upon the Ramparts. This figure was the steely-eyed Bear-Shaman, who had lead Snowhawk to its glory, from a young intelligent curr, to a bear of a man, with a keen sense of tactics, and perhaps even more importantly, an unchangeable sense of right and wrong. He had lead the hearts and minds of the Snowhawk warriors through Civil War, glorious battles, and to a glory that will not soon be forgotten. All of these thoughts raced through his mind, repeating themselves, wrestling with each other. He looked down upon his hands; So different looking than when this had started so long ago - gone was the insulating fat of a warrior's feast; now only scars, memories of friends lost, and bittersweet battles won remained.
He felt alone. The massive responsibility of Snowhawk weighing upon his shoulders. Not that it was over, not that the Warlords had not decided together, but ultimately, he as usual would bear the ultimate responsibility.
He heard a familiar sound - the unsheathing of a sword, he instantly ripped himself out of his deep thinking, like a jaguar from its sleep as the sound of danger, or prey, reached its ears...
But it was no foe, it was a Warrior. And now his gaze widened. It was no longer the mighty host of long past days, but the mighty, the stalwart, were there. They spread themselves thinly upon the blood stained ramparts, their armor dented and stained with the blood of their foes...They would die this day, but they would die like men. What more could anyone ask for in this grim and twisted land?
There was no other way, Yes, we were resigned to leave this God-forsaken Keep, but those who decided to leave could not leave their more stubborn brothers to die alone. Our brotherhood was THAT deep.
"Yes... today we will likely die, but not before each of us take a score of you down to hell with us! Bring your rabble to die once more in droves at our feet, you dogs! For Snowhawk! For Cimmeria!"