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Demon

18 June 2012, 19:52 Rating: 63 [+]


Having started as your standard Dwarf Fortress, the Hamlet of Tyranny was uneventful by normal standards. Sure there would be caravans and immigrants and occasional (though unusually rare) sieges, but there was a dark and DEADLY secret buried beneath the hills. And his name was Ashmalice.

Ashmalice was a fire demon of legendary status. Not only had he existed in the prehistory of the fort, but he had over 550 kills - which included 2 entire tribes of goblins, a handful of elves, and a terrifying amount of dwarves... one of whom was the king of the mountain-homes.

Fast forwarding to the present time major construction was underway of the fort. Many many immigrants had arrived over the years and times were good for the dwarves. Having many legendary carvers and warriors my friend grew lax in his defenses. And his dwarves paid the price when a miner unearthed a glowing pit deep below the dungeons carved into the mountain.

Within an hour my friend's fortress was besieged by a nearly unending horde of demonic horrors. Ill equipped to deal with the threat immediately, the population of the Hamlet began dropping exponentially. Not even a panicked redirection of the river into the lower levels was enough to staunch the influx of demons, only enough to slow them long enough for the major walkways to be collapsed to buy some precious time.

Luckily (and cleverly) my friend had built his fortress in such a way that if any large section had collapsed, then all escape routes would lead out into the wilderness and on a path far from the fortress and defendable by collapsing the ceiling via lever to flood seawater into the tunnel. Though no dwarf was alive on that side of the map, or able to reach it to pull the lever, my friend had bought the dwarves much needed time, though when Ashmalice made himself known all seemed futile. Even more so, when Stuvok lost his mind with rage.

Stuvok was one of the founding 7. He was an ex-miner turned blacksmith of legendary status. He was a monster of a dwarf that all dwarves aspired to be. And he had just lost his wife Doken (another of the starting 7) to the demon Ashmalice. His sorrow was felt by the surviving clan as he tore through them one by one unopposed. Only when he ran into his workshop and was locked in did his rage abate.

Morale was rock bottom. Several dwarves commit suicide in this dark hour. And of the handful who remained of this once great fortress, few were willing to do anything at all, except the only other remaining dwarf of the founders: the engraver Sil. In the months that followed, the floors were carved with graven images of his follow brethren. All hope seemed lost. But this was not the end for the Hamlet. Not just yet...

In his grief and mourning, Stuvok opened his heart to the spirits of the dead. And one day they came to him in spirit. In his possessed mood he plotted and planned and (ironically) with the materials available to him, crafted an artifact clearly in homage to his wife: Endless Death of Tears - a sword with an image of a dwarf holding a piece of glass — glass that his wife used daily in her trade.

My friend had been content to just flood the map with lava and end the game after such losses. But upon seeing this artifact his neckbeard overtook him and he knew that Doken, the dwarves, the king, must all be avenged! And thankfully for me, he decided to continue. Fast forwarding again to the present (the time at which I had come in to see him play) my friend had safely excavated what he could of the fortress and moved all activity to a small corner of the interior. When all levers were erected, dwarves armed, and preparations complete, he unpaused the game for me.

A few dwarves made suicide runs to the bottom of the dungeons and collapsed them - which in turn lowered the debris above into a sinkhole that breached a large hole for the demons to pour from back into the fort. A few more dwarves valiantly fired into the oncoming tide of hate, but they were nothing but fodder that bought precious moments for the true plan to kick in. A masterfully placed lever that had yet been unpulled brought down the entire mountain through the legendary dining hall ceiling; crushing almost half of the intruding horde.

As planned, the demons made a bee-line through the side hallways through rows of blade traps. Demons were chewed up by the blades, but still they came. And so did "He". Ashmalice not only avoided the fatal cave-in, passed the slicing blades, and bypassed the numerous flooding-trap chambers, but he and a squad of equally lucky frog demons carved and scorched their way into the final defensive line. Among their victims was Stuvok; unable to avenge his beloved. And the last handful of dwarves were quickly reduced to 2 - Sil the engraver and the legendary captain of the guard, Daneken.

As respected and powerful as Stuvok had been, Daneken was that and more. He was a god among his clan, and had once in his long career single-handedly repelled a goblin siege led by a cyclops, and had helped wrestle a dragon to death. And now armed with his dead friend's artifact sword, he was seeing red. Daneken had been stationed at the edge of a chasm (my friend's map had a pit AND chasm that had been unearthed, but it was amazingly only filled with tiny spiders that were easily dispatched in the early years of the fort). A single bridge had been built to span the chasm, and would have been later expanded as housing. But that plan was no longer. And this was it. This was the end of the dwarves of the Hamlet of Tyranny. But they would not go quietly.

As the demons approached Daneken threw himself at them in a rage. Ashmalice blasted him with demonic flames, but Daneken was imbued with the collective rage of his people and carved through the frog retainers with little signs of stopping. Ashmalice, however, had seen the deaths of a king and was not impressed with the antics of a lowly dwarf and sent him hurtling back onto the bridge - coincidentally knocking Sil over the edge. With his flesh scorching and his blood boiling, Denekan crawled to his feet just in time to see Ashmalice hover over him. With but a single push the fortress would be claimed by demons. But to my friend's and my own utter jaw-dropping amazement, it was the dwarves who claimed him.

Daneken, in a testament to his dwarfdom slashed off one of Ashmalice's arm/wing and plunged Endless Death of Tears into his evil heart. Such was the force of the blow that the demon was hurled backwards off of the bridge and sent spiraling down into the unending darkness; spouting curses the entire way. With his clan and his king avenged, Daneken himself tumbled from the bridge. But... one dwarf remained?

Awestruck by what had just happened, I urged my friend to quickly find the survivor! The menus opened, the tabs clicked, and we see that name. Sil. Sil? But he fell into the chasm! What was going on? With the battle essentially over and the remaining demons blocked from further intrusion by an unchecked flood of river water, we peer into the chasm. Several Z-levels down, on a tiny 2-square ledge, lay Sil - broken and bleeding, but alive.

With no way to save him, and with his entire clan residing in the afterlife, we debated how this should end. Should we just abandon the fort outright? Should we try and kill him somehow? What? In the end, however, we decided to let him create one more carving - one last testament to dwarfkind. This decision did not come lightly, as after such an epic climax, anything less would seem an insult. But still we left him to his work. Afterall, maybe he would draw a picture of a plump helmet or something equally random.

What did he draw? Moments before he bled to death? Alone on a cliff? The last gesture of the dwarves of the Hamlet of Tyranny?

A picture of a demon and some dwarves. The demon was in a fetal position. The dwarves were laughing.

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