The Dwarven Berserker of endless rage.
“No life is richer than one filled with the memories of hard work and good mates. Don’ let no one tell ya different.” Greil opened his eyes groggily and stared at the ceiling of the room he was in the remnants of his grandfathers words fading to the raucus boasting which was immediately identifiable as one of the current members of the party of adventurers he had joined, a pladin named Leroy, obviously narrating in his usual grandiose fashion to who ever was unfortunate enough to be within earshot of him. Sitting up and rolling out of the bed Greil dressed and donned his armor slowly before stepping out of the bedroom and onto the landing above the central area of a large warehouse owned by the leader of his group named Persable, a cleric of St. Cuthberg, who was trying in vain to calm the paldins’ din of self-appreciation. Hopping down from the landing Greil saw two more members of the adventuring party standing in the kitchen area close to where the paladin and cleric were “discussing” ownership of the warehouse. The first, a rogue halfling named Moonstalker, was trying to talk the second, a sorcerer named Clayton, into a game of hide and seek but to no avail as the Sorcerer was more focused on the breakfast before him which consisted of a sizable omlete and a tall glass of orange juice all the while chucking at the obvious frustration growing on the face of the cleric towards the paladin. As he made his way to the crates as far away from the paladin/cleric debate’s he passed an elven female rogue going through the boxes to his left. This was Garsona, a pickpocket who had made herself apparently useful as a warehouse manager for all intents and purposes despite the intial means of meeting the party by way of the Half-Orc fighter Domus who was currently and thanfuly to Greil not present at the time. He did not hate this orc as he did those that stalked the plains in the Wilds but the orc’s constant desire to leap into dangerous situations including a few the sorcerer had told him about made him question how long the enthusiastic fighter would survive. Greil opened the nearest box and began sorting the various nick-nacks within thinking on his grandfathers words until a sudden movement on the other side of the crates caused him to look up and find himself staring at a thin faced elven ranger flanked by a druidess who was on her knees scratching the belly of her riding dog Mario. The ranger was named Resolute and the druidess petting her mount was Alyx. Both individuals were know to the dwarf as members of the Thorton tribe who he had past dealings with, mostly trading and occasionaly busy work, and had quickly found them to be a comfort within the city more for familiarity than presence. The rest of the morning was relatively uneventful and as Greil opened the door to the warehouse he looked back at his strange party taking note that the succubi were not currently present to him but he didn’t doubt they had simply found a place to be near in the warehouse but just out of sight as they tended to stay close to Persable. He sighed inwardly wondering what awaited him in the future and how had found such a strange group of traveling companions eventualy he broke from his breif revarie and stepped out into the city of Leandra and looked to the skys shielding his eyes from the immediate glare from the sun his mind drifting back to his youth as another brief quote flashed through his mind the captain of the village guard had given him back in the more loosely thought “carefree days”. " A man is not measured but he size of his purse or the stains on his blade but the deeds he performs and the lives he may change."
Greil was born to a small warrior houshold the only child of Feyja “Rock-bitter” Stoutsfeld and Gerrard “Steel-hide” Wildhammer. Both parents and most of the village were related to either guardsmen or warriors serveral centuries ago who had served within the dwarven borders or within the major city but were displeased with how the monarchies’ rules made it difficult to fully enjoy their lives and so rallied one day to strike out into the wilderness and be free of the crown and what they had viewed as oppresive leadership towards their choices. The first settlers from had a hard time adjusting to the Wilds and the regular attacks by marauders, wildlife and scattered cultist bands nearly drove them back into the mountains but outright stubborn determination and the leadership of the then “leader” of their exodus name Mordrid “Barley-bones” Jenkins saw then through the worst of the first year. Eventualy following the small settlement being established more families from dwarven towns, cities and villages joined them forming what was now the modest village of Vanburace. Growing up the son of a skilled warrior and a berserker was chore in itself with the ironfist of his mother at home and the driving axe-blade of his father in the fields. His grandfather Garland “Drangonsbane” Wildhammer was slightly less demanding than his mother yet twice as ferocious as his father despite his age and blindness in one-eye due to an injury aquired during his own traveling days which he often brought up frequently hoping to inspire his grandson to aspire to greatness rivaling or surpassing himself. The most common story revolved around driving off an adult red dragon that had beset the village to which only a few of the villagers would agree with while others dismissed his talk as what had often been refered within the village as “beer-fancies”. The boy grew quickly and despite many of his village lacking any real ability to read his grandfathers stories quickly developed into a desire for more, for tales from other villages or towns, if only to break up the monotany of sleep, learning, chores, repeat that eventualy led to him meeting a rather curious yet kind ranger name Crowe. He had arrived mid-day and secured a small lodging to rest for a short time within the village. An elven man appearing to be in his mid 30’s and carrying a bow far larger than any Greil had seen in the village he told them he was documenting the wildlife in the wilds and only needed a short break before he continued on in his travels to which was agreed to as this was common where they were however when asked for a name the traveler was hesitant which did cause some of the more suspicious townsfolk to throw hard gazes his was or finger their weapons hilt/butts. The traveler retained his smile though and eventualy after being asked a third time his looked to the skys briefly before responding " Crowe…you may call me Crowe if that pleases you" his gaze sharp as he stared back at a large group tossing glares that immediately turned from him which struck Greil as odd since may of the adults had grown accustomed to the the raiders of Gruu’mash or Erynthul attacking sporaticaly, occasional fly-bys carried out by two young red dragons from the nearby mountain range who took to lifting off the few livestock from the village and dropping them on villagers or off the cliffs nearby, even the rare attack by giants leading small parties of kobolds on scavenging raids had hardened many of the adults against the fiercest of gazes yet with stranger he got the distinct impression that there may be something more to Crowe than was seen. Being 7 at the time most of Greils time was spent training with his father and grandfather or running errands for his mother around the village. It was during one of these errands that he spotted an open book near the tent where Crowe had set up but was currently away from having ventured off into the wilds several hours ago in the morning and his curiousity brimming jogged over to see what was within the thin pages immediately wishing he had not. Pictures that were moving showing some of the most hideous creatures he could have imagined were roaring silently on the pages, horn jutting from places on their heads or hides, obscene women with red eyes and bat wings dancing across the pages posing provocativly, hulking horrors tearing men and animals apart before shoving the pieces within their fanged mouths and many many more none of which Greil could identify but prayed did not live anyhwere near the village. The text was no less comforting, a shifting scrawl of figures that seemed to hold no meaning or context, but held his attention none the less until a soft hand lighting on his shoulder startled him causeing him to whip about and face the elf that was now standing behind him with a sympathetic gaze and slight smirk. " Curious I see.." Crowe said stepping forward and closing the book as Greil only nodded open mouthed unable to put his thoughts to words. From then on he became a student of Crowes despite protests from both his father and mother who believed that the books of some random traveler held no knowledge he would ever need yet it was Garland who convinced his son to allow it say that it would benefit him in the future should he leave the village and thus Greil was taught to read, though it be simple scrolls and thin leather books that filled his studies the things he learned from Crowes notes on plants and animals as well as many of the people he had met excited the young dwarf making him want to meet or see these things for himself. The book with the monsters however did not make it into his studies which diappointed him slightly but was off-set by the relief of not having to see such terrible pictures again. Three months passed before Crowe decided to leave and during this time he had opened up alot to Greil telling him that while the wildlife was his main interest that the monsters withing the bound black book were his true goal, that he was searching for one in particular but would not tell him which one or why but from the dark harsh look he got when he pressed the matter Greil figured it would be best he never found out and that evening as the sun set Crowed finished his gathering his supplies and such and prepared to leave but as he stepped through the gates of the village he turned and in one swift motion tosses a small ring to Griel saying " for when we meet again my curious friend" before completing his quick turn and practialy diappearing into the sunset. He did not see the elf named Crowe again in his childhood.
Now twelve years old Greil began his time in the the nearby chasm refered to as the “Razor-Fen”. The razor fen was an impossibly deep chasm that lie just outside the rear entrance of the village and had become the mining point for all the ores and building stones that could not be gathered from the mountain side. His first few weeks were simple enough mostly carting ore back and forth from the depths of the mines top layer to the entrance and back again but as he gained experience the overseer allowed him to work deeper in the chasm in an area refered to as “Giants-Rest” which was a large open area dominated by huge ore deposits that were dwarfed by the colossal petrified bones of un-identifiable creatures presumed to be dragons although one was pointed out to be something the other miners called a Delver and had cautioned him to never provoke one. During his training Greil had begun to learn more about his abilities as a berserker, which were initialy discovered during the blooding ceremony two years prior, from his father who stressed the importance of patience over fervor which struck the boy as very odd considering the few times he had seen his father along side the village guard the tactics and methods he used were less than pleasant to behold especialy the aftermath. Although both parents, his grandfather and many villagers had suggested subtly that an axe or mace would be best for him Greil chose a greatsword remembering them from the books he had studied with Crowe in his youth and immediatly taking a liking to them. Eventually follwing his thirteenth birthday Greil was permitted to join the village guard in their duties which generaly involoved patroling the exterior of the village, repeling stray wildlife or raiders/marauders that came too close and generaly being helpful around the village when approached all tasks he took to quickly inbetween his training, mining duties and miscillaneous chores his mother could think up during his brief break periods which genraly meant he had very little time for his break time hobby of reading the simple books he owned that had been purchased from passing merchants or “borrowed” from slain/routed raiders unfortunately most of “that” material was confiscated by his father and grandfather claiming it was either not for children of that they needed to “inspect” the contents. The next few years that followed were uneventful mostly and Griel continued to learn at a quick pace but did as the years in the guard slid by opt to shave his beard smooth and crop his hair much to the horror of his grandfather who saw not just his beard but all beards upon dwarves as a sign of adulthood and strength. Greil however had learned painfuly during a few patrols that the few giants and large orcs in the wilds found a dwarfs beards a convinient way to grapple and throw them and in the case of the giants that tended to cover more than a few dozen feet of bouncing, bruising and stopping suddenly againt rocks or other random stationary objects. Overall Greil found his life to be quite fulfilling oblivious to the darkening state of the plains to the south that seemed to grow and move closer each passing week.
It was during his eighteenth year that Greil began to grow more concerned about the rumors that were now comming in daily from not just members of the patrols that stretched to outlying roads heading into the mountains and in the direction of the human cities far off from his home but from travelers and adventurers passing through briefly. Stories of entire villages and small but well known nomad encampments found razed thougroughly, decapitated or butchered corpses found staked along roads or near areas where even the wildlife avoided in a wide berth, most unsettingly to him were the descriptions of some “glimpsed” creatures near such areas only a few of them uncomfortably reminding him of the book from his youth and the nightmares within its binding. Another fact he noted was a significant increase in the number of raiders, bandits and maruaders within the wilds all flying a banner unknown to him and twice as agressive as even the followers of Erynthul who often made an effort of causing as much pain and suffering to their victems as possible. By this point Greil was well regarded in his village as a competent swordarm more than welcome on the far-patrols to the borders of the wilds which tended to last a few weeks at most and months during the bad seasons in the fall and winter during the snowstorms or one memorable blizzard that left himself and four other guards stuck in a cave for 3 days rationing supplies until they were finaly dug out. Both his father and mother had calmed little despite their deeping wrinkles and greying hairs and his grandfather actually seemed to be more energetic than ever having to be restrained more than once for trying to be too helpful for his own good. His families good health and exhuberant energy aside Greil had started to consider his own future and where it would lead there was lots of work in cities but he wanted to explore and see as much of the world as he could much as he father and grandfather had done in their youth before they returned to the wilds. It was during one such day of musing over such things while on patrol when he found a collapsed runner immediatly recognized as belonging to a village not 10 miles from their own. He was badly mutilated and bleeding heavily clutching his side as he lay on his side wheezing and coughing up blood when Greil, who had quickened his pace, stopped and kneeled beside him before hoisting him up and dragging the runner back to the village. Once there after the worst of his injuries had been attended to and after several hours of sleep the man quickly went into a terrible story about the small settlement of Roth that had been recently set up north-east of the village aways was beset by cultist raiders. They had attacked at daybreak without warning and left nothing behind admist the devestation they wrought, all the villagers had been killed to the last save for a few that had been sprited away during the fighting including their Chief Urgot who had sent him with the missive the runner dug out of his satchel now and held out to the guard captain. The letter was addressed basely to anyone it could reach to stay far away and to those who might be across this “warbands” path as was described in the missive to fortify themselves well and begin evacuating anyone that wished to live to see the morning sun again. Greils’ village had no real chief since the death of the prior, Stahn “Skull-Cracker” Lenrod, to a surprise attack by a trio of giant bandits roving south of Razor-fen who had been on patrol at the time when they decended on him and his guard. They managed to kill all three but Stahn had died from his injuries upon returning to village. It was decided eventualy following 4 days of arguing, fighting and yelling that a small group of the guard would see how bad the damage to Roth really was, search for servivors and to figure out which direction the cultists were headed while everone else would fortify the town and the entrance to the razor-fen while moving the elderly and children into the mountains and eventualy towards a town on the other side once they were sure they would not be followed. Greil volunteered as did about a dozen other but ultimatly speed was what was wanted so only 3 others were chosing including the Lieutenant Shayla Aielon, a sturdy girl about a year older than Greil who had broken his jaw during a sparing session once, who rallied their group quickly before they set out to see what kind of damage had been done. Nothing could have prepared them for what was to come.
The two day trek to Roth was wholly uneventful which did not bode well as the settlement lay within and intersecting path that was frequented by numerous travelers(mostly bandits or highwaymen). At the end of the second day Greil and one of the guards in the party spotted the smoke from the village, a nasty rust colored smoke that rose ominously as they approached using the darkness to their advantage. Once close enough to the settlement Shayla and one of the guards motioned for Greil and the second guard to circle around and to meet in the middle of the settlement before slipping off into the night. Even as he watched her retreating from before it faded from sight the stench of blood and ash in the air was stiffling and Greil wondered if they were’nt simply heading to the same end that met the settlers. Greil and his guard named Joques made it around to the side of the settlement and hopped the low fence before moving towards the center of Roth. “Where’s all the bodies?” asked Joques in a quiet but shaken tone as they snuck from shadow to shadow, which only made Greil even more uncomfortable that he had been before they had arrived. The scene described by the messanger was one of all-out carnage but here in the silence of the night, amidst of the blood-soaked grounds and ash stained ruins of cottages there was not a single corpse to be seen amidst the charred buildings. He was glad to see Shayla and her companion once they reached Roths’ center, the combination of the silence and the smell of death was making him jump at falling supports and random noises during the trek. Neither group had found anything of significance during their short trek around the sides of the settlement or to the center, blood and occasional curious burn patterns on the building ruins and ground were about all that were apparent. If there had been a major fight or just a flat out slaughter where was the proof…where were the bodies? The same thought must have been passing through Shaylas’ escorts mind as he opened his mouth to speak only to have whatever he was about to announce cut off in a gurgling burst of blood as a stone spear head erupted from his throat dropping him to his knees. Spinning around, weapons raised Greil, Shayla and the remaining guard Joques rounded on the unseen attacker and froze, fixated on the visage of a large orc with one eye drawing a battleaxe and flanked on either side by creatures none of them had seen before. Roaring gutteraly the orc urged both creatures forward before charging close behind them, the battleaxe gleaming brilliantly in the moonlight. Shayla drew her mace and shield and engaged one of the beasts while Joques produced a pair of steel axes and engaged the second beast, leaving Greil to draw his greatsword into an immediate guard as the One-eyed orc took a brutal swing with his greataxe that nearly disarmed him entirely. The fight was short lived but fierce with all the combatants trading blows, Shayla finishing her fight first by caving in the beasts face with a well timed parry before moving to assist Joques, meanwhile Greil and the orc moved further towards the back of the village trading savage blows that rattled their bones with each impact until finally a lapse in the orcs guard allowed him to drive the point of his blade between its eyes and twist, exploding its skull violently in a shower of gore and blood. The trio mourned their fallen friend before sprinting back to road outside Roth, overwhelmed by the desire to return to Vanburace hoping that the warband the orc and his “pets” belonged to would not reach the town before them. Taking a quick route over the plains shortened the journey considerably but did not calm the worry that knawed at the group during the day and a half trip. Eventualy Greil and Shayla crested the hill north of the town and stopped cold at what they saw, a sight that silenced Joques who had fallen behind slightly as he reached the top of the hill and followed their gazes onto the field below. Fighting as far as the eye could see all across the fields were dwarves, orcs, humans and countless numbers of the beasts from Roth, all locked in brutal combat. Running down the hill with his greatsword ready and followed closely by Shayla and Joques Greil dove into the thick of the fighting along the edges of the hill, the smell of blood, sweat and more heavy on the air as Greil and his companions fought through the foes before them slowly making their way towards Vanburace, thoughts of his parents driving the primal fury that coursed through his body granting him the strength to push on determinded to see them alive. The battle lasted well into the next day before the enemy forces faltered and pulled back, a triumphant roar went up across the fields at the sight of their retreating foes
as the surviving townsfolk began pulling bodies back into Vanburace and burning the corpses of the invaders. Greil located his parents near the entrance of the town fighting ferociously against a trio of orcs backed by two humans casting magic, only to see his grandfather rush in from the opposite side of the plain and in a single motion fell both humans allowing his parents to finish their fight with the orc unhindered.