Part 37: Jazzimus Prime: Update 10
Syrupleaf - Chapter V Part 10 - Dark Days
13th Limestone 142
I take one final look out the front gate. The broken bodies of both Spawn and dwarves lie strewn across the battlefield. The bodies of the dwarves, including those visiting from the mountainhomes, will be given a proper burial in our fortress. The bodies of the Spawn will be fodder for Manuel Calavera's craft works.
Wordlessly, Royal W and I walk back into the main chamber. The sixty dwarves gathered in the main chamber, having witnessed the greatest and most terrible battle of our time, look on at Royal W in almost reverent silence.
There is no celebration of the victory. The fortress is as quiet as a tomb.
The silence is broken by a shriek coming from the western halls. I jump with a start. Royal W instinctively grabs the handle of his axe.
The sound of rapid, heavy footsteps echoes from the western hallway, followed by another shriek. Dwarves look at each other nervously.
The shrieking voice erupts into cackling laughter.
"I've done it! It's complete!"
MysticalHaberdasher gleefully emerges from the western hallway, holding aloft a gleaming polished black leather boot, studded with gems and perfectly rounded small stones, the back seam subtly stitched with the finest cave spider silk.
His wide grin fades as he feels the icy stares of sixty dwarves upon him.
"What's wrong? Why is everyone so quiet?"
Mayor Bobthethurd decrees that the soldiers who gave their lives to protect Syrupleaf shall be remembered forevermore among the greatest of Dwarven heroes. I immediately begin preparations for the funeral, to be held the following day with highest Dwarven honors.
Vox Nihili, goldjas, Drakenel, and Green Intern are put to work in the forges to create coffins of solid gold for our fallen heroes.
The Deadly Hume mines out a new chamber in the catacombs below the fortress, which will be the final resting place of the heroes. The White Crane follows behind, diligently smoothing and polishing the walls and floors of the new crypt.
Laboring the entire night without rest, HeliTurtle engraves the heroes' crypt with scenes from the battle, a battle which the dwarves of Syrupleaf have begun referring to in hushed tones as The Barbarous Onslaught.
I have difficulty falling asleep on this night, as my mind continuously replays the scenes from the battle. When I finally do fall asleep, dreams give way to nightmares of the battle, followed by a nightmare of the demonic visage of Holistic Detective watching me in amusement. I can hear its voice in my head.
"Now do you believe I am real?"
14th Limestone 142
The heroes Fellblade, Lackloss, and Luigi's Discount are laid to rest in their golden coffins at one end of the chamber. At the other end, a double sarcophagus holds the remains of the other two champions, the wife and husband, Kennel and Holistic Detective.
It is ironic, in a way, that one of our beloved Dwarven heroes to fall in the battle shares a name with the most unspeakable of demons. Supposedly the demon itself was once a legendary Dwarven warrior before falling to darkness, and it was this legendary warrior of truth and courage, before her fall, for whom our hero of Syrupleaf was named.
The child Deki breaks into hysterical sobs during the eulogy for his mother Luigi's Discount. I wish there were something I could say to comfort him.
As night comes, so again do the nightmares. The face of Holistic Detective haunts my dreams in silence.
15th Limestone 142
Our military is decimated from the recent battle. The young wrestlers Syntax!, Spermy Smurf, SwatJester, and Firos are improving each day, but are still far from being able to take on the sort of nightmarish creatures we have seen at this fortress. Even if they were all to become champions, it is still not enough. We need more soldiers.
I put out a call for volunteers, which is answered by Sirocco, tehsid, Alius, and Drakenel.
This is still not enough.
I draft the glassmaker Male Man and the pump operators pumpinglemma and Screaming Idiot into the military, as our fortress has to this point had little need for their former professions. Screaming Idiot in particular is almost rabidly averse to his new role, constantly grumbing and pouting and sometimes nearly boiling over with rage. I think that he will make a fine soldier if he can learn to channel his passion.
I order the Champion Royal W to begin intense training of the new recruits, who are all outfitted with full plate mail. In keeping with Dwarven tradition, they will be trained as wrestlers first, and will be given their weapon when Royal W deems them ready.
As the military now spends nearly all of its time training, we no longer have the resources to continue patrolling the area outside of the fortress. The best I can do is to station Captain of the Guard 64bitrobot and his lieutenant FlocksofMice at the front gate.
There are more nightmares that night. The demon's face, ever silent, watches me.
7th Sandstone 142
The nightmares have still not abated. The face of the demon Holistic Detective continues to haunt me.
I awaken from another nightmare and decide to take a walk to calm my nerves. The fortress is eerily quiet, as most of the dwarves are asleep. I make my way towards the gatehouse, hoping to perhaps chat with one of the guards on duty to get my mind off of things.
As I make my way to the golden entrance hallway, I stop for a moment, squinting.
I could swear I see the ghosts of the dwarven caravan merchants.
I turn around and walk back to bed.
2nd Timber 142
The days have begun to grow very dark. I could swear upon Armok that it seems each day has less than two hours of daylight now. Many of our dwarves are cave-adapted and are perfectly fine with this, but I still find it unsettling.
Over a mug of ale, I ask Vox Nihili if he thinks it is possible that the site of our fortress has been cursed with darkness since the day of the battle. He chuckles, and says that the short daylight hours are because of the fortress's remote location and the fact that winter is approaching.
30 Timber 142
I suppose it was inevitable that the Mountainhomes would notice that their caravan never returned. I am sure they can only speculate as to the fate of those who travelled here, and I can certainly not fault any dwarf that would not wish to follow in their footsteps.
Still, I had hoped that at least a few foolish souls would have made their way here by now.
As I drift off to sleep, again I see the face of the demon Holistic Detective before me. And then, for the first time since that first night, it speaks. Or at least I can hear its voice in my head.
"I am coming for you, Jazzimus. I am coming for Syrupleaf."
I can feel the demon reading my thoughts. And then, in a way that is hard to describe, I somehow feel in my mind the horrible sound of the demon chuckling.
"No, Jazzimus, you are a fool. Royal W did not kill me. I am a demigod. Neither dwarf nor man can kill me. Royal W killed one of my lieutenants. Suffice to say I was duly impressed by the fight your pitiful fortress was able to muster, but it will not be enough to save you.
"I am coming."
The sun never does rise the next morning.
Bobbin Threadbare wrote :-
What happened next I will not bother to relate. Better hands than I have recorded that battle, and the fate of those who fought the enemy. But from the perspective of the noncombatants hiding behind our champions, we were first relieved to know that They can bleed and die, and that the greatest of Their number could fall, though at the cost of far too many lives. And when Royal W brought in the spawn's head for all to see, a great cheer went up among the dwarves. We would never hide behind bridges or walls again.
After the battle, we found ourselves with the question of what to do with the bodies of the fallen. Our own brave soldiers would be encased in the strongest and greatest of tombs, of course, but the cadavers of the creatures who fought us had to be dealt with as well. Oh, that we had simply burned them all when we had the chance! They may be terrible, disturbing mockeries of dwarvenkind, but they conceal nothing. Their very existence is an aberration, yet they make no effort to hide this fact. The same cannot be said for others.
I believe the changes began when the Overseer, one Jazzimus Prime, fell sick and resigned from his position. Most dwarves thought that he had to step down simply out of a sense of guilt; more dwarves had died under his watch than any previous, and being responsible for opening the gate may have weighed heavily upon his soul. I began to suspect something more, however, when I came across his sleeping form, laid out upon his desk in the middle of the day. Mr. Prime had been having difficulties with sleeping, difficulties which even our usual ration of alcohol could do nothing to prevent. While even this could be accounted for in a guilty conscience, as I stood there over his unconscious form, a sense of terror gripped my heart. For Mr. Prime, though showing no other signs of wakefulness, was uttering sounds no dwarven mouth was meant to utter. I can only write a rough translation of how these words seemed to be said. "Ia! Ia, Holistic mdnrigf wzugbn olorctn qwlingn! Holistic qwlingn!" A quiet inquiry I engaged in later showed that no other had heard him say such words, and Mr. Prime himself seemed to be growing ever less aware of his own surroundings.
64bitrobot wrote :-
From the Log of 64bitrobot, Captain of the Guard
Well, the battle is over...we won, I guess. Shame to lose so many of our best in the attack.
Ha, I'm being stationed at the gate, fat lot of good that'll do, I broke my leg training, I'm useless, I have no fighting skill. Best I can do is look good and give people a sense of security, however little and empty it is.
Still, can't complain to much, get to enjoy that Onyx door all day. Probably the best thing this fortress will put out.
I've put in a request with our overseer to get me making weapons. Though I guess it'll be a while before it happens. Just a bit, just so I can say I'm not useless.
Oh well, at least we're alive. Hopefully I'll stay that way.
Time to stare out into the darkness again. Just because I live in a nightmare doesn't mean I have to be afraid.
But I still am.
Screaming Idiot wrote :-
FROM THE WRITIN'S O' SCREAMIN' IDIOT,
PUMP OPERATOR STUPID SWORDBOY MEATSHIELD WRESTLER
Entry 1,678: DEATH STALKS US
Tha military was nearly destroyed in tha last attack. Tha Spawn o' Holistic--Armok DAMN her bloody name!--reaped a great harvest o' woe an' sufferin' an' pain an' blood an' tha like before they was taken down.
Aye, 'twas a battle that'll be told and retold fer generations. But unlike most battles, it won't be told by laughin' friends over good ale an' a hot meal o' dwarven syrup roast and broiled plump 'elmet. Nay, it'll be spoken of in harsh whispers in tha cold an' in tha dark. It be a cautionarary-type tale, somethin' too 'orrible ta tell ta tha lil' ones. Ta mention tha Spawn is ta invite darkness an' dread inta yer 'eart an' yer 'earth.
I 'eard the overseer--bleedin' idjit that 'e may be--mumblin' 'bout the lack o' sun. Some of the fancy book-learned types told us that tha sun refuses ta show its face 'cuz o' tha comin' winter. An' while I'm no poofty skylovin' worshiper o' the rainbow bat god what loves children, even I unnerstand that tha sun is... well, almost holy. Its light drives evil from tha heart an' mind.
There's plenty o' evil 'ere these days. An' fear. Tha darkness, once comfortin' like me mum's blanket, only reminds me o' the crawlin', pained abomininationals what even now plot ta torment us. Sleepin's real 'ard these days--Armok help me, I need ta keep a candle lit with me at all times, but it don't help. I keep seein' things in tha shadows. Ghosts, mebbe? Jazzimus thinks so, an' I ain't disinclined ta believe 'im.
Part o' me--the part what be dwarfy--is nearly pleased with tha prospect o' fightin'. I'll learn ta fight an' protect meself from what threatens me an' me fellows. But tha rest o' me is scared shitless. I'mma pump operator, tha best ta ever come from tha mountain'omes. I ain't no fighter.
Oh, Armok. I need a drink.
Skullbuggy wrote :-
Entry - 13 Lime., The Fifth Year
We beat back the siege. The Spawn of Holistic fell under the hammer of our bravest warriors, and we have emerged victorious.
I don't feel well, though. It's a victory, I know, but... something isn't right. Something's digging at my very soul.
- S. Mengigam, Manager
Entry - 15 Lime., The Fifth Year
My nights have been sleepless. As of now, it is past midnight, and the sun still has not risen in the sky. I sit at my desk, scribbling and scratching words into my journal... most of them meaningless.
Sand raiders, Holistic Spawn... Syrupleaf, it seems, is doomed to fail. And I sit here, up in the early hours of the morning, doing nothing about it. I feel... useless.
I see apocalyptic visions in my nightmarish day-dreams... when I try to nod off to sleep, those... things. They keep appearing. The Spawn.
Those horrible, demonic things. They plodded toward the commune, teeth clicking and clacking, a deep burble coming from their bellies, and a horrible grumbling in their throats. Their two eyes were locked piercing, cold gazes. The tallest one... it roared. Its horrible screaming is still ringing in my ears, and I cannot get it out, no matter how.
Jazzimus, too, has been unwell recently. I noticed him walking the halls, eyes wide open. His gaze went for miles. I didn't know why, but I hope he will be well soon. He is overseeing this colony, after all.
I feel sick. I need to lie down. Perhaps I can fall asleep this time.
- S. Mengigam, Manager
Entry - 17(?) Lime., The Fifth Year
Every body is dead. Every body is going to die. Its my fault? Its my fault?
Entry - 22 Lime., The Fifth Year
I have finally gotten sleep. For three days, I have been in bed, completely unconscious. I woke up to see the dwarves working, as usual. Did they even notice I was out?
- S. Mengigam, Manager
Entry - 9 Sand., The Fifth Year
Jazzimus has been walking up and down the Golden Hall, looking for ghosts. At least, that's what he's saying he's looking for. He really needs to get some sleep in him. That or booze.
- S. Mengigam, Manager
Entry - 26 Sand., The Fifth Year
I'm so thirsty. Screaming Idiot is hogging the kegs, though. Says he "needs it ta get through the day, ye sod". His new position must really be getting to him.
- S. Mengigam, Manager