Doran floated disembodied above a scene of unimaginable carnage. They were everywhere, the cave voles, and not a plump helmet remained unscathed. Bits and pieces of their torn purple flesh lay in the mud -- no, these voles did not eat everything they killed! It is a dream, a dream! Doran thought, but he remained in that exact place, fixed in that posture, branded to the dank air as the massacre continued for what seemed like an age.
The dwarf awoke in a cold sweat. Casting aside his bedding, he ran out of his room without putting on his boots. He had to see it -- he had to see the farm!
Doran was greeted by a scene of total devastation. Into the mud, his dwarf-toes sank with his broken heart. The mushrooms were gone -- devoured. Slowly, the dwarf crawled through the muck, unable to come to terms with his loss. He found himself against the cavern wall, his hand resting on his dull trowel. He treasured it, but it was as old as he was, and now it would serve him one last time.
With renewed vigor, Doran stood, facing the barren mud flat with wild eyes. Cave voles don't travel far and they always nested by water. Their burrows would be nearby. The trowel's edges might not be keen, but that wouldn't stop him from bifurcating every last vermin he ferreted out from their stinking pits. Crazed, the dwarf ran toward the river bank.
Down the trowel hacked, pressing apart another vole with its blunted side. Doran ground the tool hard into the moist earth, then slid it toward him across the mud to break off adhering chunks. Pieces of the vile pests littered the river bank, and the river itself ran red.
Forty he had slew.
Suddenly his feet felt unsteady as the cave rumbled around him. Up from the ground tore a giant vole, as large as a cave crocodile. No doubt it was this demonic creature which had drawn the brood around it and haunted his dreams with visions of wanton crop slaughter.
Yet Doran felt no fear. This was his time. He held his filthy trowel out in one hand and with the other he pointed straight at the fiend. "Your nightmare hours are over, devil-vole! A stab of the trowel for every mushroom that perished! Even if I die, our blood will nourish the next crop. You can never stop the harvest."
Doran leapt upon the beast and brought the trowel down repeatedly, but the dull blade deflected off of its demon's hide and was eventually knocked out of his hand, landing in the mud with a splatter. The giant vole shook back and forth, attempting to dislodge the dwarf, but Doran held on to its disgusting matted hair tightly with his hands.
Crawling forward, one fist of fur at a time, Doran straddled the thing's neck and bit down violently on one of its veiny ears. Vile vole ichor filled his mouth but the dwarf was crazed, and he gurgled and shouted as he tore the ear free from the monster with the sound of torn cloth.
Reeling, the giant vole fell to its side, finally tossing Doran to the ground. There! The soft underbelly. Over a thousand mushrooms had been devoured -- many stabs of the trowel, indeed! Revenge! Doran seized up the muddy, blunted weapon and plunged forward, eviscerating the foul creature, covering himself with gore as if he were harvesting its guts.
The red glow that clouded his vision faded and the dwarf fell to his knees. The foe was dead, but he was ruined. After grieving for some time, he could see nothing else to do but rise and return to bed, leaving the gore-field behind.
When he awoke several hours later, his body ached, but he thought he might as well bring the bones of the great beast to the craftdwarves. Perhaps they could make some bauble to comfort him after this tragedy.
He could scarcely believe what he saw when he returned to the farm. Corpse pipes! This rare fungus only grew on the bodies of the dead, and rarely at that. Yet the ground was shot full of pale tubes rising from the decomposing filth, and from these morbid beginnings, a fine seasoning could be made. As Doran prepared for the hard day of work ahead, he was in good spirits, humming his favorite drinking song so loudly that he did not hear the chittering coming from the river bank...