The Journal of Sirocco: TWELFTH AND FINAL ENTRY
I thought I'd take a break from all the carousing to finish my memoirs. All our friends are back at last! Even as I engrave this on the golden gates to Dwarfhalla (I know, it's very cheeky!) Eiba is crying with joy as he tumbles in the grass, surrounded by the souls of all the moles he's ever reared... Icedrake is reading stories to Markus and Leperfish... Jazzimus and Bobthethurd are clinking goblets and laughing about the good times, their mental anguish finally destroyed. Queen Sankis has joined the company of her forefathers and Screaming Idiot is, as I speak, constructing some sort of device for pumping clouds between astral planes.
The only one who's not here is Globofglob, of course... but I've written an appeal for him to be returned to us. I'm sure it was all just some sort of misunderstanding, ha ha ha! Everyone deserves a second chance... oh my, I'd better hurry this up! I haven't got much time. Now the fortress has died we've been told we're... what was it now? Ascending I think? Ascending where? I don't know!!! For all the suffering and horror that the Spawn visited upon us, no dwarf has died in vain. Everything we accomplished has led us to this point, this moment right now... we have met our makers and the glory of our ancestors awaits us.
I don't think I'm ready though. There are other worlds out there I haven't seen... who knows? Incredible as it may sound, there may be a fortress more wondrous than Syrupleaf somewhere... a land more-
'Are you going to do that all day?' tehsid grumbled.
'Oh!' Sirocco yelped, jumping up. 'I still need to arrange my sandwiches. These ones are cucumber and THESE are tomato and lettuce, I know you have allergies-'
'Stop jabbering,' tehsid interrupted. 'It's time.' He squinted at the heavenly halls he'd called home these past few years. He'd never really looked at it before... he had to admit, it was very beautiful. It radiated a warm, golden glow. As he looked at the spires and minarets that encrusted its exterior, tehsid couldn't help but notice a certain... suspiciously gazebo-esque theme to the decorative facades. He dismissed the thought and listened. All that could be heard was the hearty laughter of the dwarves as they partied. The tears of the newly-reunited were flowing freely, but they were happy tears. These weren't halls... this was The Fortress... the soul of Syrupleaf. With a sound like a thousand choruses of angels, it rose into the sky and disappeared, embarking on its last journey to the greatest of Mountainhomes.
The two dwarves watched solemnly. 'You didn't have to stay you know,' tehsid said at last. 'You could have gone with them.'
Sirocco swung his backpack over his shoulder and slid Patsy III into his belt. 'One day,' he grinned. 'One day. But today? Today is a day for adventure!'
tehsid laughed, and together they journeyed in a direction impossible to indicate on any map towards adventure. Towards a new life. And the future.
Bobbin Threadbare wrote :-
"How is it that I am surrounded with such joy? Such jollity? It seems almost a miracle that smiles can be seen among this company which has shared the pain and terror that brought the very fortress to its knees. And yet with no pain to remind them, with ale and spirits to imbibe around the clock, the pain, the failure itself is forgotten. And now it seems the divinity which brought our world into being has abandoned their creation as a hopeless endeavor, and we are all to be reformed into the basic protoplasm of life in order to begin again. And yet--"
Daeren's hand slapped heavily on Threadbare's back, causing the pen in her hand to scrape an ugly line across the page. Compared to the softly glowing dwarves, the black ink seemed to drink in the shadows that seemed to exist nowhere else. "How is it that you can manage to be so dour, even in Dwarfhalla? This is the place of eternal rewards, Bobbin! You should enjoy it!"
The scowl never left Threadbare's face. "Enjoy it? I've never been a fighter. You can go have fun killing yourselves day in and day out. I just don't see why we are not allowed to keep our consciousness--thoughts, memories, choice--just so the gods can declare a 'do-over'."
For once, Daeren's smile faded. "Are you saying you would rather keep your memories of that place? The Spawn, the Sand Raiders, the moles--the polar bears?"
Threadbare flinched at the last creature's name. "Remembering your own death isn't pleasant, I'll admit. But still, what happens once can happen again. And how can we avoid it if the gods themselves will wipe their memories clean of this creation?"
"Then don't forget it." Threadbare turned to look at Daeren with an expression of puzzlement. "I sacrificed my place here to lead the rest of you to Dwarfhalla. I trapped my soul in a statue to guide the dwarves of Syrupleaf, and even though I wasn't conscious, my soul knew to act as a beacon for the rest of you. I think if you imagine what happened hard enough, you can act as a warning to the next creation. To avoid making the same mistakes, that sort of thing."
For the first time in years, Threadbare's mouth quirked up into a small smile. "Think about the Spawn and Syrupleaf? I doubt that will be very hard."
And so it came that when the dwarves of Dwarfhalla were assimilated back into the Divine Creation, as warriors burst into the light that was slowly refilling the universe, Bobbin Threadbare watched with a trace of amusement as her own form faded away into her surroundings, which were themselves blurring and brightening into a uniform white. But perhaps one of the last things that faded from that room was a pair of dark, almost sunken eyes.
Eyes that had seen far too much to lose.
Eiba wrote :-
He is sobbing up in the dining hall, surrounded by mole pups, when the spawn come for him. They begin to slaughter the pups, and Eiba screams in horror. He runs at the nearest spawn, lashing out at him violently. The spawn - Ticknotches - is caught by surprise by this outlash and receives a broken arm...
..but recovers quickly, savagely beating the frantic Moleboy until the life is gone from him. His corpse lies surrounded by those of his fallen children.
They burst into the room, their bloodthirsty eyes darting back and forth in search of prey, their gaping maws slick with saliva and the blood of dwarves and moles. I had never in my life known such abject terror. I screamed. I cowered. I all but despaired. But then I heard a defiant yip. It was one of the poor little pups, it saw my fear and stepped forward on unsure immature claws, and let out its fiercest little squeak at the unspeakable abominations dripping gore in front of us.
I was stunned, but that little guy wasn't alone. My poor little children... they saw the sorry state ol' Eiba was in, and they found the courage in their tiny mole hearts to try and help me. There was nothing I could do but break into tears. The uncaring spawn struck them all down without the slightest trace of emotion. Their blood and gore... the gore of my own dear, dear children, made the floor slick. I felt nauseous.
I had been raised to be a simple paper pusher. A tax collector, by birth, but I always heard tales of the brave lonely Moleboys. Oh how I always aspired to be like them. When I had the opportunity for a frontier posting here at Syrupleaf I jumped at the opportunity, but for all my bravado I was still just a tax collector at heart. I sent young Dash Magnum into the earth to tap the mole veins, and eventually that work cost him his life. I may have spent all my spare time with our tame moles, but I never in my life before faced a hostile creature- alone- as a moleboy.
Now was the time to start. I might not have wrangled these moles in the wild, but I loved them, and they were dying in front of me. I was a real dwarf. I was a moleboy. And there was nothing that I wouldn't do to protect my loved ones.
But... maybe in the end I was just a tax collector. I died, and everything I loved was destroyed. I showed my courage though, and out there, somewhere, is a Spawn with an arm that still doesn't bend quite right.
I may have died in Syrupleaf, but damned if I didn't Live in Syrupleaf too.