War of Iron and Blood
The War of Iron and Blood describes the conflict between the three orc tribes lead by Glimmer against the dwarf clans of the Black Lady mountains.
Battles between the orcs of the northern wastelands and the dwarfs of the Black Lady mountains were fairly common. The dwarfs kept a sizable garrison of troops and protected the only entrance to their fortress from the north zealously. Skrimishes were fairly common for a number of years as different orc chieftains would test their mettle against the iron of the dwarven defense.
There was not a great cause of concern when the skirmishes started to increase. There had been periods like this before, and the dwarven soothsayers had predicted there would be an increase by watching the stars. However, the war-chiefs of the Black Lady clans had a solid layered defense. They predicted that even a full blown orc force would be tied down for weeks if not months in the traps and mazed passages that warded the northern end of Ironhold.
They would be wrong.
Battle of Ironhold
Battle between the dwarf clans of the Black Lady Mountain and the Orcs for control of Ironhold.
Battle of Stonebreaker's End
During the desperate flight from the dwarven stronghold of Ironhold, the rampaging orcish force began to look like it might catch and smash the remaining fleeing dwarven civilians. The last of the great dwarfish chiefs, Thoq Stonebreaker was looking at a hopeless situation. If he continued his withdrawal, he would have to run right over the top of the dwarfish civilians fleeing the catastrophe at Ironhold. If he held his ground to protect them, he would be soon overrun and any chance the dwarfish nation might have to retake their citadel would die with him and his troops.
It did not take the last war-chief of the Black Lady clan long to decide. He would make his stand in a narrow draw. There he would fight to the last man in order to protect his people. The fate of the citadel he would have to leave to the elves and humans to help recapture. In a nondescript valley, Thoq Stonebreaker and his rear guard planted the standard of their clan and prepared to make one last great stand against the tides of darkness that approached.
Beaten, but not entirely without some allies to call on, the dwarfish clerics performed a ritual that had been carefully guarded on a scroll in the depths of Ironhold for centuries. The willing sacrifice of these brave men was not to be easily forgotten. Magically binding the entire host to their leader, and their leader to this draw was a desperate action. But there was little time to consider the horrific repercussions for this action. All that mattered to this last remnant of what had been a proud clan was determined to bleed the orcish force mightily, even at the cost of their lives and perhaps their very souls.
As each Dwarf gave his life in this delaying action, his spirit was bound to that of the mighty war-chief. In each death, Thoq took some of that warrior's spirit and resilience and made it his own. For days the orcs spilled into the valley, drawn on by their hate, and the beleaguered dwarfs made them pay in blood in each attack. But their numbers were small to begin with and dwindled with each attack. Even as Thoq grew more powerful, his battle prowess was not enough to fill the gaps left by the brave dwarfs. In the end they eventually overwhelmed the war-chief, dragging him down under the weight of numbers.
What happened next is uncertain. Some say that the orcs had had enough and retreated back to find a new way to come after the now safe dwarf civilians. Some say they were called back by the evil Glimmer. But there remains a whisper from a wounded dwarf who had not been able to flee or fight and had been lost in the confusion of the retreat. Months later when he barely limped into a human settlement of Eagle Rock, he claimed that when the battle was lost, and only the war-chief was left standing, there had been a tremendous earthquake that had sealed the valley underneath tons of rock and rubble, burying both the dwarf dead, the victorious orcs and the passageway into Ironhold.
Once the main pursuing force of Orcs was smashed at Stonebreaker's End, most orc activity stopped. There was a determined effort to patrol the south end of Ironhold by the conquering orcs and scout parties of humans and elves were unable to gain much in terms of information. The civilians of Ironhold had, for the most part, been saved. While they were anxious, angry, and desperate to retake Ironhold, they did not have nearly the manpower to even begin to mobilize a force capable of attacking. Both Elf and Human were wary to march into a mountain stronghold where they could not accurately determine the nature or composition of the enemy. Instead, they made preparations to meet the incoming Orc forces, for they felt that the Orcs would not be stopped except through the use of force. The plan they devised called to defend against the Orc aggression, smash the attack and then counter attack and roll up the orcs clear to the northern wastelands. Only the Orcs didn't attack as expected and both Elf and Human began to let their guard down until they were faced with the same sort of lightning attack that defeated the Dwarfs in The Weeping War