The Unintentionally Overly and Lately Successful Mass Storming of the Greater Darkened Lesser Fortress of the Isle of NurmhHaven-on-the-Gloomh
What is a Nurmh? might be the reader’s first and foremost question, I might suppose, were we to have named a story so, which we fairly certainly seemingly now have.
What is a Darkened Lesser Fortress? might be the emphatically observant reader’s next (or it might have been their first, or third) question; I would not blame one for wondering, neither way. And also, what would being the one of the Greatest ones mean?
How might a thing not intended in the first place manage to then succeed, and very lately, at that? is something I know at least some of you have now already considered, and might still very well be, as I write this,
Maybe you have never seen the word “Isle” before, and funnily mistakenly think it sounds like “izzle”, though it does not; it is pronounced, “eye el’ – but spoken as one thing, and not two. You can still drawl it out (“Isllle” – remember, the e is silent) if you prefer, and some people do. When I first encountered the word “Ocean” on a map printed on the inside of the cover of a book I was reading as a younger person, I thought the word was pronounced “OH-Key-An” – but spoken as two-and-a-half things, rather than three – so do not fret when you do not yet know what you will either soon or else someday-later know.
In truth, there are too too many questions posed already by our story’s opening chapter’s opening title. Is this how the story shall continue, with more questions than answers? This of course remains to be seen.
What Do we know about the Nurmh?
Nurmhhaven was the capital Vault City of the Nurmhs at that time, who then lived mostly beneath the ground, in shallow warrens which one might (were they from another time, or place, or both) think to call basements, cellars, sub-basements, sub-cellars, cisterns, and crawlspaces.
Up Atop, above the surface of the foothills of Grunglingdale Hollows County, loomed over well by the frosty spires of the Everloomh Peaks, piled high with the rocks and dirt dug out to make these many fore-mentioned things, stood (in some sense) the upper, above-ground bits of the fortress: A crumbly-tall mossy pile of earth and stone and re-purposed brick (wherever available) set atop as like a capstone, a maze of chutes and ladders; burrowing slowly down by day into the deep depths. I mean to say, the eldest of the Nurmhish homesteads often got that way, and Nurmhhaven-on-the-Gloomh was no exception.
The towery peaks of Nurmhhaven grew in piecemeal fashion into a singlularly crawling, sprawling, moss-laden thing, its spiked back arching upward, tall-tippy towers of course rock and hard-packed mud and bundled gravel and sometimes even slabs of stone (whenever encountered), constructed ever upward and outward from the inside heart by its own denizens – and always at night, to avoid the harsh daylight of the the Coastlines of Northern Westfaria, then in its Seventh (or Eighth) year of what would by now be eleven (or twelve) years of the Very Most Scratchy Blankets .
That is not at all to say or suggest that Nurmhs did or do not venture above ground by more than a foot or three, to get their sun now and again, and grab their food, traded with villages for the rocks and debris they efficiently remove from the grounds beneath their stout tower warrens; They just preferred and prefer to avoid the open sky; its twin suns like the eyes of their god, who seeks, they say, their destruction (the Nurmhs having been sold some very bad religion quite far back in their past, scaring them quite literally into the earth).
They sometimes sprinkled wooden stakes and spikes and scary buttressing about and atop these stony, earthen warren-things, which made them appear to the nearby animals and Humans to be a kind of shoddier version of what Human castles and towers had once built and inhabited, perhaps two or three centuries before.
So the Humans took to calling the Nurmhish homesteads Lesser Fortresses. They thought, I presume, they were being cheeky and mean. Some Humans objected to the labeling of their Nurmhish neighbours, or the foundations they laid and other things that they accomplished as “Lessser”, but those Humans were, even by then, in the greater majority.
Perhaps none of those many matters up there matter much now at all, compared with that which then happened next, upon the Isle of which we write… [in other words, the actual first thing to happen in our story, aside from this sojourn, I must now clarify; my apologies]
Picture this scene, if you will:
Eight of the Crow, MourningDay, Autumn 55, the Seventh (or Eighth) Year of The Most Very Scratchy Blankets. North-Eastern Westfarian Isles, Isle of the Nurmh, South-South-Western shoreline county of Grunglingdale Hollows, Front steps of the (then) Greatest Darkened Lesser Fortress of Nurmhhaven-on-the-Gloomh.
Nurmhhaven, its cold and faded flags moved little but what breeze approached from the Northern Sea – held down by their own great and forgotten weight. Its walls thick and low, its windows small, dark, foreboding. No life stirring without or within.
The rocky shore separating the fortress and the sea, desolate, save for a string of unmaintained piers, the bones of a dead sea behemoth, long ago beached, a scattering of gulls in search of shellfish, and a line of forty to fifty armed invaders, their ships slowly sinking in the swells behind them.
The call to invade Numrhhaven had been sent far and wide – the last Evil Warlock was said to dwell within its depths, commanding an army of the Dead (as so often evil warlocks found themselves doing in those days), and the armies of Men had by then put Evil on its heels – it seemed for the final time. This was its last known stronghold.
They had pledged to show up on the same day, en masse, and deal with the place in grand and unified fashion. The battle was to be epic, of course. Heroes stood to be made, legends to be born.
The ragged line of the Armies of Good stood only two hundred yards from the low outer wall of the fortress. No sound or sight could be seen upon its battlements, no light from its narrow windows. They were at the end of the world. Their ships would not be taking them home. Their allies had been lost in the mists. Forty-three soldiers, a knight, a priest, a cook, a scribe, and a donkey were all there were remaining.
The second sun was past its zenith now, the first full on its heels. The invading army of good – all forty-eight of them – held their spears and swords and shields (except for the donkey, who was looking in vain for some fresh grass to eat, finding only seaweed, which he would not, out of principle), and waited for somebody among them to take command. The ships of their kings and queens and lords were nowhere now whatsoever to be seen. They had expected to number in the thousands, and here they were, much, much less than that.
A crow sent a caw signal to its brethren in the foothills, which found its way to the mountain range within a moment. The Greater Society had landed, at last.
Do you wish…
A) To know more about Nurmhs?
B) To know more about Great Dark Lesser Fortresses of the Westfarian Isles?
C) For the author to stop being quite so wordy?
D) To know how years in the Westfarian Isles get their names?
E) To learn about what to Crows have to do with anything?
F) To learn about [Your question here]