When Ravens Sing

Konigstag, Nachexen 12th

Karak Grunewald

Respected Father,

After the fight with the beasts we returned to Ubersreik with the fat merchant and the Roadwarden Rutger Abend.

Ubersreik is not well provisioned for a hold of such a size. Manlings do not work at their trades and I found only one who was able to repair my armour. He was still a novice smith of less than forty summers at the forge although he had apprentices of his own. I entrusted my mail to him and he managed to patch the holes without damaging it too much. Manling iron is coarser and less strong than good Dwarfish steel and so I do not expect that the repairs will hold up in a proper fight. I have heard that von Jungfreud, the Manling thane of Ubersreik has a Dwarf smith working for him. I shall see if it is possible to get an introduction to his forge as soon as I can.

The big hairy grobi-knocker that was tearing holes in Rutger Abend also put a few in me and so repairs to bone and meat were also required. The beer here is weak stuff, not strong enough to heal much of anything so the Umgi venerate an Ancestor called Shallya for that purpose. Valaya is far from these halls and so I went to speak with the keepers of Shallya’s runes. The she-manling at the shrine called upon her ancestor and my headache went away. She expected me to be grateful for this and so I agreed to carry messages for the shrine if I was passing through anywhere that this might be required. Another thing that Manlings don’t attach much importance to is passing on messages diligently it seemed. I was given a letter for another shrine (of which I shall tell more later) that had clearly been laid aside for some time.

I returned to my lodging hall and found that the companions – three beardless Umga with no trades to speak of – had found a possible new employment. A manling by the name of Herr Hendrick was paying good silver for some porters to carry goods for him. I should explain that the stoutest of these Umga is slighter than a mountain reed and so I found it surprising that they were interested in such physical work. Even a cask or two of Skallensson’s Grand Malted would not be enough to give these creatures the belly to lift much. As it turned out, this Herr Hendrick was a bondman to his thane who had inherited a new hall in the woods. Karak Grunewald is described as a hunting lodge although, well.. I’ll get to that later. At any rate, the new owner Graf Aschaffenberg wanted some reliable types to move in his trappings and sort out his other bondsmen who he thought might not be very reliable. He hired me and the three Umga came too.

The travel out to the Karak was quiet. The manlings in Ubersreik have no idea how to place stone, either together for their halls or as paving on the ground, the manlings outside the city however seemed to have been apprenticed to grobi masons. Their road was shoddy and umgak and I was not sure that the wagon was going to hold together. We arrived though eventually after shooing away a few more beastmen and found that Karak Grunwald is more of a ruin than an actual fortification. A dozen or so good masons would need weeks just to make it habitable.

I’ve come to realise that the Umgi are less interested in proper work than we are which seems strange as they have less time to do something useful before they die. The bondsmen at the faste however were worse than usual. Not a single one has even the strength to grow a beard. Even by Umgi standards these wretches are lazy, weak and useless. A Dwarf is employed here but when I met with him he was injured in the mind and raving. His name is Kordan Kurgensson and I am sure that his kin would be ashamed at his dereliction.

There is a Castellan here called Gregor Pirsson who has been responsible for the upkeep of the faste since the last Thane left only last year. He has done a predictably poor job. There is also a hearthguard led by Anders Blucher however his carls have poor gear and worse enthusiasm for their duty. These woods are full of the beast-kin and I suspect that if there is an assault while we are here, then I shall do more to repel it alone than the entire throng together.

Graf von Aschaffenberg is a weak man who believes in deceiving his bondsmen in order to find out the root of their malaise. We have been drawn into this deception much to my shame, I would rather shake the answers out of them and give the slow ones a good clip round the ear until they started to shape up but our ways do not work with the Umgi.

At any rate, I hope that this letter finds you in prosperity. Pass my respects to our mother and to my brother at the seams.

Gramki Stourhelm, Dwarf of Karak Azgaraz.



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