Chapter III: The Warning
Four days later, 14th of June, the City of Ishkang
The city of Ishkang truly deserved the title ‘city’. Being built on the first years of the dwarven expansion in the post-war Gilnore, the fort of Ishkang quickly grew into a large settlement and later on became the administrative central of the southern parts of the Empire.
Despite being far from home, the majority of the population still consists from the dwarves, as the local populations continue to live from foraging across the countryside.
Ishkang, apart from the reconstruction of Al-Nazdr, was the first settlement built by the dwarves since Isgenbar. Despite that, the dwarven engineering and planning created a city of superior quality; on its flat plains, a symmetrically round wall was built, allowing equal protection from all sides. Inside the walls, a connecting tower was built and around it, a road, which led to all four corners of the compass, symmetrically spreading. This was great feat of construction, even by dwarven standards, as there were no dead-ends whatsoever.
Later, when the settlement began to develop, tall buildings were created to accommodate the inhabitants. These buildings were mostly identical, reaching about half the size of the tower around ten storeys. On top of these buildings stood bridges, allowing easy access from everywhere to everywhere and drastically reducing the congestion on streets.
As the city grew, multileveled dungeons were built, to which the majority of manufactories, warehouses and stores were moved. From that point the city mostly grew underground, often reaching beyond the city walls above.
By the turn of the century, the city had already reached a population equal to Isgenbar, tough the surface area and the size of underground dungeons remained many times smaller, this was a direct effect from the maximum usage of space in Ishkang. This also meant that the growth of Ishkang reaching to a halt, due to the fact that distances between the different parts of city grew too great. In 204, the settlement of Arkhand was established and built in a similar manner to Ishkang…
The caped figure from the south had reached Ishkang after fourteen days and nights of travelling. The guard at the southern gate looked the caped-one with disbelief, but still let him past, as visitors were always welcome.
Although the sun was far from setting, the shadow of the surrounding buildings had already brought dusk to the lower streets. Due to the organised manner of streets, the person in black could see the hub of the city, the tower, which also happened to be his destination, in front of him.
The walk from the gate to the tower took about half an hour, during which the visitor realized the layout of the town. There were few other pedestrians on the streets, as most of them used the upper streets or the dungeons, there were however, a large number of different vehicles; chariots, carts and even some military owned and world-widely feared steam engines. These seam engines mostly stood idle or were horse drawn due to the high energy cost it would otherwise take to move them, still, when necessary, these machines could achieve high speed very quickly, allowing them to be effectively used as rams.
Somewhere around ten past five, the visitor had reached the Inner Circle; the road which surrounded the tower, and could caught a glimpse of sunlight between the houses, but only a glimpse it remained. Quickly, giving little attention to the city, he opened the large doors of the tower and entered to the hub of Ishkang.
Having only be there for a brief second or two, the stranger was noticed and appropriate attention given, “What is your business here?” asked a dwarf who seemed to be the doorkeeper.
The stranger replied in a deep voice, “I have come to meet a specific person; the commander of the southern regions.”
“The administrative quarters are from the door to the left, consult with the house guide.” The dwarf indifferently replied, paying no further attention to the stranger.
Soon the stranger had made his way from the ground floor to a half way from the top and with ease found the cabinet which seemed to belong to the army. Wasting no time, he opened the door, finding several highly ranked officers from the inside. Before they had any chance to reply, the stranger said, “There is no time for pleasantries, my name has little importance, as this will be likely our last meeting. From your faces I can see that an explanation is essential, so here I go:
Fourteen days from today, the town of Aktau feel into turmoil. The reason of such action is not known to me, but the outcome is: the humans have overthrown your presence in Aktau and the expedition force does no longer exist.”
Without saying another word and without waiting any response from the dwarves, he jumped out of the window and disappeared to the shadows of the upper streets. One of the dwarves rushed to the window only to claim, “He’s gone, whoever that creature was!”
Another of the dwarves, likely with higher rank and intelligence, asked the general behind the table, “General Kagirmund, do you think this being could had been right, could Irakleio had met a defeat in the south?”
Slowly, general Kagirmund turned his glazed face towards the speaker and said only three brief words, “Summon the men!”
Fifty minutes later, beneath the soil of Ishkang.
“Attention all personnel, code red has been initiated, I repeat, code red is active. This is not a drill.” The announcer shouted trough the mechanical loudspeaker, waking most of the Ishkang’s dungeons.
Iker too was woken by this loud call. The dwarf to the left was still reading his armour, while his neighbour from the left had already left. Without wasting any time, Iker hastily began preparing for a battle, grabbing his chained amour and the round shield he had inherited, through his father, from the conflicts after the Great War.
Finally, being nearly ready, he managed to ask a brother in arms, of the situation, but only received a shrug, as the neighbour from the right headed out of the quarters. He was alone now, messing with the last knee-pad. Quickly he grabbed his sword and rushed towards the surface.
On his way from the barracks to the ground, Iker met many other fellow soldiers who had been slightly late, but it seemed that everybody were in a similar ignorance than Iker was. Reaching out as one of the last, he could already see general Kagirmund, rebuilder of Al-Nazdr, briefing the soldiers, “…so it is our utmost duty,” the general claimed from the second floor, “to repel this insolent human rebellion…”
‘A human rebellion? Is that it?’ Iker could not believe that a mere uprising of the weakest link in the world could had been a reason to call an entire army to arms, especially when that army was half-an-empire away. Slowly, he managed to obtain information from other soldiers that a human uprising had defeated or perhaps even destroyed the southern expedition army, the entire army.
About an hour later, somewhere around three o’clock, the machinery was ready and the largest dwarven force ever used slowly rolled towards the south. Few citizens had awoken to witness the departure of the largest army since the Great War…
From the [RPA]