I got a little side-tracked while putting together my Ranger regiments for Kings of War, and decided it was time to get my heroes together while I was at it. I kitbashed a pretty nifty Dwarf King mounted on a nasty critter from some Northern Alliance bits I had kicking around, and a few choice plastic GeeDubs Dwarf bits. The end result is entirely unique to my army, and I couldn’t be happier!

I was trying to find the perfect Iron Juggernaught, and settled on a pretty cool Keg Golem from Rocket Pig Miniatures. He’s pretty gangly and awesome, but he wasn’t Dwarfy enough for me yet.

I chopped up some more Dwarf plastics, and now have another unique model for both KoW and Vanguard. Meet Major Oakshanks:

Throgrim Oakshanks was, frankly put, one of the most stubborn Dwarfs to ever grace the Iron Hall, and that’s saying something. He refused to concede in any endeavor, no matter the stakes. If there was an enemy that needed a good thrashing, your best bet was to get Oakshanks riled up and point him at what needed killing. It didn’t matter how grievious his own wound would turn out, his sheer force of will would bring him back to the Iron Hall again and again.

Sadly, this stubborn determination wasn’t limited to just fighting. Oakshanks refused to be bested in anything, whether it be martial, or simple sport.

One fateful afternoon, Oakshanks became enraged when drinking with some younger recruits. The veteran warrior was well into his cups, and refusing to admit that the Youngbeards were putting his drinking prowess to shame. Oakshanks was beligerantly trying to down an entire keg of brandy when a cohort of goblins made the unfortunate mistake of attacking the tavern.

The Youngbeards held their own admirably, but they lacked the training to fight off a bloodthirtsty horde of seasoned killers. This was when Oakshanks entered the fray, laying into the throng of savage creatures with a roar of drunken enthusiasm.

Before long, the greenskins were slaughtered, and the Youngbeards surveyed the damage. The tavern itself was smashed and barely staying upright, with vital load-bearing supports splintered everywhere. The upper floor was groaning and visibly shifting without much to hold it aloft. And the entire scene was caked with the slimy green visera of dozens of butchered goblins.

Amidst the carnage was Oakshanks, propped up on a pile of gore. His left arm had been hewn raggedly from his shoulder, and his lifeblood was sputtering from the stump. His insides were most definitely no longer inside, and his neck barely had enough flesh left to it to hold up the old veteran’s head.

But Oakshanks didn’t care. He was grinning like a loon, and trying to encourage the Youngbeards to finish their contest. The recruits gathered around the venerable elder, and offered him sips of brandy and mead until he passed.

It was a fortnight’s march back to the Iron Hall, and the Youngbeards knew they needed to return with Oakshank’s body so that he could be entombed with his ancestors. They set about patching up the corpse as best they could, but soon realized that the stench of decay would draw un-needed attention from scavengers or worse as they made their way home.

Ranger Stonebrow searched the wreckage of the tavern and found a large barrel of spirits. He tapped the bung, poured off about half the contents, then carefully righted the barrel again. Slowly, he pried off the top of the barrel, then reverently lowered the remains of the old warrior inside. With the top hammered back down, the aged Dwarf’s body would be perfectly preserved during the long trek back to the Iron Hall.

****

Stonebrow and the surviving Youngbeards returned to the mighty fortress keep of the Iron Hall 16 days later. They had encountered brigands, raiding parties, and a troublesome Elf with a pesky habit of setting traps and snares. Despite all of these obstacles, they returned with the body of Throgrim Ironshanks, still immersed in a massive barrel of fortified spirits.

The Youngbeards and Ranger Stonebrow presented the remains to the Iron King, who ordered his bodyguards to take the honored veteran to the clerics, who would then prepare his body for burial within the Tombs of the Ancestors.

The clerics received the body with great care, and gently, reverently removed the pruny, pickled remains from the barrel that had held them so well for more than two weeks. They laid the corpse on a slab of granite, and set about the busy work of preparing the body for buriel.

That’s when they noticed that Ironshanks was staring at them. Then, to their horror, he started moving his lips, then started coughing up think globules of liquor and ichor. He finally hacked up a chunk of something black and wet, then took in a wheezing, challenged breath.

“Put me back in the damned barrel, you mangey taints.”

*****

To this day, whenever the Iron Hall marches to war, Major Ironshanks is sure to be present, charging into battle in a golem that holds his remains, eternally embalmed in the choicest Dwarven spirits. He is as stubborn as ever, but less inclined to argue with the Youngbeards as a sign of respect.

Besides, he hasn’t been sober in years.

So much more to come!

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