Part 34: Jazzimus Prime: Update 7
Syrupleaf - Chapter V Part 7 - A Caravan Attacked
13th Limestone 142
I turn to address Skullbuggy. "You say that these creatures have besieged the fortress in the past. How did you deal with it then?"
"We closed the city gates and waited for several months. Eventually the creatures would leave to search for other prey."
"Then that is what we shall do. Our dwarves are safe, and the merchant caravan is now safe as well. We will wait the creatures out."
As I say this, another half dozen merchants clamber over the crest of a snow bank, their pack mules carrying bins of items behind them.
The drawbridge is already up. These merchants have arrived too late, as the Holistic spawn continue to close in on the fortress.
Against my better judgment, I yell towards the gatehouse for 64bitrobot to open the eastern drawbridge, hoping that this will allow the last of the merchants to reach safety. He nods and rushes into the fortress.
A dwarven merchant stands in front of the raised drawbridge on the far end of the moat, looking across at his fellows in the trade depot. I scream to the merchant to move out of the way. He does not understand what I am saying before it is too late, and the poor dwarf is squashed to jelly beneath the drawbridge.
I turn and look to the south. At least thirty more of the spawn are approaching in the distance from this direction. Skullbuggy and I scramble down from atop the trade depot and rush back into the gatehouse.
A merchant guard fires a crossbow at the advancing horde. One of the creatures is hit, but is barely slowed. The other fifty continue to advance towards the depot at full speed.
A Swordsdwarf in the merchant guard valiantly engages several of the spawn in order to give his fellow merchants time to reach the depot. He wounds a couple of the creatures and slows their advance, but he is hopelessly outnumbered.
As the swordsdwarf falls, another merchant guard, an axedwarf, charges down the ramp to buy time for the remaining merchants. One of the beasts rips out his throat, and he collapses, wheezing and bleeding to death.
The remaining merchant guards, including a macedwarf, a marksdwarf, and an axedwarf, have moved to the middle of the eastern bridge to hold off the advancing horde as the last of the merchants scurry into the trade depot. I realize that I now cannot retract the eastern drawbridge without sending these warriors to their death.
One of the spawn reaches the bridge, crushing the lower body of the marksdwarf in its great claw.
I watch the carnage from inside the gatehouse, ready to give 64bitrobot the order to retract the inner bridge if necessary to protect the fortress, even though such an action would leave the merchant caravan to the mercies of the Spawn. Nearby, Luigi's Discount, Lackloss, and Fellblade stand guard at the entrance to the fortress, looking on in despair.
"Stand your ground, soldiers," I order them.
Lackloss shakes his head. "We can't stand by and watch our brothers from the Mountainhome be slaughtered like this," he says.
The three soldiers nod to each other and rush towards the trade depot.
Bobbin Threadbare wrote :-
It is with trepidation that I write these words, final proof of my insanity or a witness's account of the doom of all dwarvenkind. Though my new neighbors had been forthcoming on most every topic, from the hardships of developing fertile ground to the sad deaths brought about by batmen and sand raiders, there was one subject spoken only in hesitant whispers and broken thoughts which refused to resolve themselves into a coherent narrative. Before my own experience, I knew only that They had come, and even our most stalwart warriors had refused to do more than hide behind hastily erected walls. But some months after my arrival, at a time when I had grown accustomed to new hardships and comforts both, I saw Their arrival with my own eyes.
They were putrid, disgusting masses cast into a mockery of the dwarven form. Their gangrenous pallor shivered my very soul as I heard their cries, a horrid ululation that sounded not so much as a dwarf as a host of crows--no, the very host of Hell itself come to collect its due. In the place of their hands, great chitinous protrusions of a deadly sharpness grew full beyond the length of their bodies, so that their arms were dragged behind as they ran or else flailed about over their heads, each spike seeming to cry for a dwarven head to be run through its length. A great rent passed down the length of their torsos, but far from hindering their survival, it appeared as if their former ribs had become as teeth, and the hole was a cavernous maw which could only hunger for one possible source of food. Even as I watched, aghast at their appearance, I could see the opening stretch wide and close, as though a more monstrous beast were hidden behind the creature, waiting to consume any victim so unfortunate as to fall before it. Even the legs of the beasts were unnaturally long, allowing it to take great strides through the snow and quickly catch the poor soul caught outside when the creatures arrived. Truly, I now understood why such beasts must never be spoken of, lest the thought of their existence drive one to desperate acts. Even now, writing this account, my thoughts stray unnaturally far from the gems that make my livelihood.
Sirocco wrote :-
The Journal of Sirocco: THIRD ENTRY
What excitement! An army of monsters is at this very minute bearing down on the fortress walls! I suppose I should really be scared but spice is the variety of life, that's what my mother always said! Plump helmet in the morning and quarry leaves at night, they're good for what ails ya! I've seen what they can do and all, but I feel that if we could just stop the senseless killing we would all be so much happier! Perhaps instead of cracking their skulls in two with our hammers, we could just run out to them and give them a symbolic 'tap' on the nose (Do they have noses? I don't think so actually, ha ha ha!). That sounds good. I'll have to suggest that to Jazzimus.
So yeah, these soulless creatures want to rip us all to shreds... it sucks but what are you going to do?! Not you, diary, you're just a wall, ha ha ha! But seriously, I think it'll turn out alright. Been surviving here five years after all! Besides, without all the little challenges in life we would all be such banal people! Living banal little dwarf lives, ha ha ha! Maybe... yes! I will! I think I'll write a war poem to inspire our brave I'M WRITING IN MY DIARY, JERK! I'LL GET READY IN A MINUTE AW MAN LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME ENGRAVE.
I'm sorry, diary, looks like the soldiers are going to fight the spawn at the depot! Such a bold move, I can feel my fingers trembling already! Desperate to engrave a spawn making some kind of plaintive gesture. Supplication looks so GOOD on stone!
In other news, I asked Skaw to make me a flower press with one of his left over logs - and to my surprise he obliged! Hooray!!! I love all things verdant and natural, so it's a real shame I can't pursue my hobby here. Why, diary, why?! There's no flowers to press of course! I felt kinda silly after Skaw had finished it so I pressed some snow instead. It's nice, but it's not the same.
I love this place. Maybe I'll build a gazebo.
Bye bye, diary!
Lackloss wrote :-
From the Journal of Lackloss
13th Limestone 142
The Spawn have returned. Why? Why did I ever agree to come to this Armok-forbidden place to begin with. Gold, they said, more Gold than you could ever imagine would be at your fingertips. Drinks flow through fountains, and Food lay rotting in quantities even the largest of Fortresses could ever consume.
Lies. That's what I was told. And now I'm here, being told that the Spawn have come. Enough is Enough, it's time to take back this land. It's time to become a Legend. It's time to end this.