The tome is made of a high-quality parchment and bound in a good leather, but it's torn apart and stained with mud. Most of the pages are missing. There is an inscription on the inner part of the cover, written by a steady hand: "This journal belongs to Rodvig Langebukk, the Fourth Commandant of the Bronzeshield Fortress".
Today my father, Unthal Longebukk, has handed me the command over the Bronzeshield Fortess and headed home to the Five Kings Mountains. He said he's become too old and hoped to die in his old place, in his homeland mines, not in this Torag-forgotten land. He's left his post, and many of the defenders disapproved, but as for me – I don't blame him. I gave him my last farewells and returned to the Fortress which is mine from now on.
Lots of carts on the road. They carry grains, vegetables, meat. Lamashan is a good month: tolls this month always bring good profits, even when the year is poor. Too bad that's not enough to compensate for everything we spend on food during the other months, otherwise we could make the annual balance zero, at least. The Road of Shields has made us bankrupt. For three hundred years now, our three clans have been guarding human lives at our own expense.
Even the winter is not a real winter in this god-forsaken land. When was the last time I saw the snow? I mean real snow, like home, in the Five Kings Mountains. Not this pathetic excuse for snow that falls here from time to time. Local villagers could have gathered four harvests this year if they weren't so lazy and worked a trifle harder.
The winter is too weak in [sic] River Kingdoms! Damned rivers don't freeze hard enough for our roads to be able to compete with them as the best trade route. What was King Talhrik thinking when he ordered the construction of an overland road in a place called the "River Kingdoms"? Well, maybe he thought of fame for the dwarven people, dreaming of regaining our former glory. Maybe he hoped that the locals would abandon river routes, infested by pirates, for the safety of our track, with its fortresses and watchtowers.
At least I know for sure what our grandfathers and fathers were thinking: that too many resources and too much effort had already been invested in this road to just abandon the project. They were hoping something would change and the gold would flow to our people in steady streams, just like King Talhrik had promised. So, they just went on spending our money, efforts, years... And lives.
Dwarves are patient, but there is a limit to every patience. The treasury of the Langebukk clan is almost empty – and I know for sure that the Woradashes and Skjegges are doing no better than we are. It's ridiculous and bitter to recollect, that while building this fortress our ancestors had made several secret rooms to store the future immeasurable treasures! It's impossible to deny it: we are the last generation of the Road Shields. If some wonder fails to happen in the near future, we'll have to return to the Five Kings Mountains in shame.
Disturbing news comes from Rostland: hordes of barbarians plunder its lands. The Swordlords beg for help no one is able to give them. We scarcely have enough resources to keep garrisons at the fortress. If Rostland falls – what happens to the trade? Who in the whole world will need the Shield Road?
This page was last edited on 30 August 2020, at 13:38.
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