Note: The First Three Chapters Were simply Copied over from the Goldenhold thread. Since there Appears to be no limit on how much a single post can hold, I'm simply going to put everything on the OP.
Chapter 1: How Urist Died
He died a month ago, but it feels as if it happened only yesterday. The blood dripped over the path outside, the red liquid giving it a new paint job. No one has been able to pick up his remains. He remains out there, unburied, rotting away in the wind, but moving nonetheless. Ever since his death the fortress has been in a bad mood, people doing their jobs half-heartedly and without satisfaction. I wish that I had it in me to write that I was trying to do something to uplift this sorrow, but it goes deep into my heart too.
I donít know what to do anymore. Where Urist went there was happiness. Despite the fact that the necromancer had risen a siege of what seemed to be billions of body parts, he remained cheerful. I remember how when I sat at this desk, writing these very journals, he waved at me many a time. It was an everyday thing, him coming by on his way to work at the craftshop. Once in a while, despite the horde beyond our walls, he would walk in and ask something like ďHowís it going chief?Ē or ďAny migrants today?Ē and maybe a ďWhat about the expansion to the great hall? It would mean we could all eat together!Ē despite the fact that we all know it was impossible for us to afford that at this point. I would smile and say maybe. And everyday during one of the break times in the fortress he would smile and say with his endless optimism, ďChief said the wall would come up soon! Imagine...Ē and he would give off tales of how the world was going to be great in a few years despite the fact that winter we lost over fifty of us for various reasons.
There were only twenty of us left when he passed, and I remember very clearly what happened the day he died. He had just finished passing by the newborn son of a loving couple, telling them how wonderful there five week son was to play with. I swear, out of all of us, that baby misses him the most. He used to go in there and mess around with him, bringing some of the obsidian toys we intended on selling to the caravan that died outside our walls at the beginning of the year, attempting to make some bonus profit because of the danger.
He then walked down to the great hall. Well, it never was great and probably never will be, but it is the traditional name. He walked in there, sat down at one of the granite thrones next to me, and ate a few bites of breakfast. For me it was dinner. We lost track of the time a long while ago, only knowing the hours of the day by what the masons told us. Once every few weeks they go up to the surface hauling small rocks with them. They look for small holes, and as they patch them up they can see a bit of sun or a bit of moon. Then they close off nature along with the hand trying to grab them through the tiny gap. I had been sad that day, getting in an argument with my lover. When he sat down with me that... morning I guess, he smiled and asked what was wrong with me. I turned down telling him for a while, but after a while he insisted. He was always helpful, and enjoyed trying to make others be as optimistic as himself.
I explained to him my problem. I know this is private between me and her, but I donít think anyone will get a chance to read this anyways who doesnít already know. Anyways, the torches in the hall were fading, the coal beginning to burn out. In the dim light I spoke to him, explaining how I had irrationally yelled at my lover. He asked me several questions, which at the time seemed annoying and pointless. He asked if I loved her, and I said, ďOf course you fool! I regret it!Ē I didnít realize she had been standing behind me that entire conversation, wondering how I spoke about her. When she gasped, I turned around to a hug that slammed into the table. We fell back and love.
Later, we needed someone to carry news to the outside world that we were under siege. It was the middle of the night for me, some had just woken up, but many had just finished working throughout the day, mostly just busy-work to avoid the pointless grievance of boredom, which drove many insane.
Optimistic as always, he volunteered. We all looked at him as if he was crazy. Only two others went with him. We loaded their backpacks with food and supplies, wished them the best of luck, and opened up a hidden side door only to close it behind them.
We could never afford to have windows in this dreaded place, so we waited, and waited, and waited for a reply. It never came. Eventually we had to send someone up the tower to tell us what happened.
He saw Urist banging against our walls mindlessly, the cheerfulness that once kept them up turning into a lack of emotion, tearing them down brick by brick, until the fortress will crumble.
Iím not sure how much longer it will be until he succeeds.
Chapter 2: Civil War
I was told to enter my monthly journal today. I am writing it now, but Iím not sure what to say. In fact, that is the main issue with this fortress- besides the imminent threat of doom, we have nothing to do but watch our walls crumble. Many pretend to busy themselves with crafts, entertaining with the same old jokes, or simply doing rudimentary tasks. The fields must be planted, and they are, but not with much zeal- the dozens who died here had food waiting for them. They donít need it anymore.
Last week however, I organized a spelunking to the depths of our fortress. I suppose since Iím writing to an outsider I should give off a greater description of how our place works-
Near the surface we have the entrance, the barracks near it. That leads down a hallway lined with small storage rooms, which leads to the grand hall. Honestly, as I have already said, the hall is not that grand.
The hall then splits several ways, to the left and the right of the hall entrance there are factories and craft shops, six hollowed support pillars contain staircases that lead to respective neighborhoods above, and the far end of the hall has a two staircases going up opposite sides leading to the duke throne- and behind that is the dukeís palace.
However, if instead of going to any of those places you go down the staircase in the center of the hall, you will head down a hallway to the depths of the fortress, between the cavern walls, supplying minerals for the top fortress to process.
We were going to the room of the mayor, which was stationed low so he can manage mining. Besides him, I was the only other noble here, Duke of Platinumgod. However, the depths of the fortress had not had a food delivery in weeks, the tunnel between us partially collapsing in some spots, holes leading to caverns.
It was obvious that he had many miners and engravers supporting him over me, and chances are that he has many more rooms than the three I assigned him. I wouldnít have been surprised if he had hidden tunnels twisting between the rooms of civilians, bringing out a hidden spot here and there. I wouldnít have been surprised if he had dug much lower or between the forts to build his true palace, paying the miners heavily to remain silent. I wouldnít have even been surprised if he had an armory to stage a coup against me and declare rebellion, making this place into the Republic of Platinumgod.
However, after several weeks of no contact I was surprised to find one thing- survivors. When I had called for us to go down I understood that it had been at least two months - itís hard to tell down in this damned place - and anyone down there should have starved already. There was also a necromancer outside. Because we knew this, the ten of us equipped ourselves with the very best iron we could find, maybe a torch or two for light, and fine steel swords. Itís not like the dead guards would be needing them anyways.
So we started our adventure. The first few hours went by normally. It was about halfway there that we heard a noise- an evil laugh. We drew our swords, expecting for gremlins to have snuck in. Then we heard swords drawing around the corner also- it was so dark that there was no way in telling who they were. I pulled an unlit torch out of my bag, and lit it. As the light shown around us, I saw the mayor maybe a foot from my face, dagger right in front of my chest.
All hell broke loose. Some of my men were taken with confusion, not knowing weather to fight or to hug their brothers. About five of my men died within three seconds, screams echoing through the halls.
Knowing the mayor would parry, I stabbed the person to the left of him at the ribs, actually breaking them in with the strength of my sword. A confirming snap was heard, followed by an uncanny crackle as the sides each fractured a bit more individually.
He didnít even scream. He just hit the ground, unmoving. The mayor stabbed for my chest, the dagger going through the thick iron for less than an inch. Then it stopped, unable to go in further. I screamed in pain as he tore it out, ready to go for the slit in my helmet.
I donít remember what happened next. The world was swinging around me, the pain making everything seem not to matter. It was only a little more than a flesh wound, but it was too much for me.
I woke up in a bed, my lover sitting on a rock throne next to me. I asked how long I had been out.
Rather than answering my question, she pounced out of her chair and gave me a hearty hug, yelling at me at how sheíd been worrying so much about me for the past week, telling me to be more careful. Then she broke into tears. Iím still trying to get people to tell me what happened, but even the most deceitful among us wonít give away a secret from the crowd. It only makes me more curious. I hope nothing bad happened.
Chapter 3: Effects of Kindness
Here I am again, writing this journal. Itís this time of the month again. The plants are starting to bloom along with their weeds, the zombies moaning in a wonderful symphony that echoes through the hall, I had to arrange a few burials for the few of us remaining to go to. Everyone remains silent about the occurrences that led to those burials and what happened in the tunnel. Iím still confused, and everyone will say nothing.
I keep hearing voices though. No, Iím not going crazy. I mean a whisper here, a whisper there. Every once in a while I hear the word Duke in the common conversation, but as soon as I round the corner they change the subject with mock happiness. I even heard two girls start talking about flowers of all things, and their favorite types of them. I sort of.... went off at them. The conversation went something like this.
ďDuke......Ē Some words that were whispered lowly. I turn the corner. ďAnd I mean, I love dandelions, donít you?Ē
ďNo, I prefer roses, they really bloom in the spring. I saw one not too long back....Ē The second one replied, after about ten seconds of staring at me.
ďBut arenít roses a bit too..... red? They dominate the room a bit too much.Ē
ďBut couldnít you imagine some in the great hall? Theyíd really make the place look brighter.Ē
I had to interject. After a month of this crap I couldnít help myself. ďWell goddamn if we could get some roses down here! Ladies, we live in a FUCKING HOLE!Ē
They starred at me as if I had gone mad, or was on some sort of mushroom at the moment that clouded my judgement.
ďNOTHING GROWS down here besides armok screwed MUSHROOMS! Do you remember what was for every meal of the day yesterday, prepared by our excellent cook?Ē The cook, to note, is obviously shabby, but still a very friendly person. She used to be a woodcarver, but she takes great pride in her new job. Unfortunately for her, the pride is not deserved for someone who makes meal of her quality. ďThe ANSWER IS MUSHROOM STEW!Ē I started to move my hands as I said things in mock preparation. ďYOU THROW A BIT OF MUSHROOMS IN A POT. Then you take out another MUSHROOM and throw IT in the pot as well. Then you carry up some POLLUTED WATER from the caves up to the cauldron and cook the meal for about ten minutes, periodically throwing in some of MUSHROOM C into it as a fucking SPICE!Ē
I stormed off, turning away from the great hall for my meal. I was too upset to eat anyways. I simply headed home and laid down in my bed for an hour or two, staring up at the ceiling. No one bothered to come in and ask me what was wrong. Everyone these days is worrying too much about themselves to spare even the smallest slice of empathy for someone else.
The only person who had empathy in the dark place was Urist. Urist is dead now. I think that says something about what kindness can do to you.
Chapter 4: A Kingís Ransom
I finally figured out what had been going on. However, the form of itís delivery was not standard. I was told about what happened not in the standard form, which would be giving me an official letter of the proceedings about what happened. This is too formal for a fortress under siege by necromancers with three fourths of itís population dead. If it had only been half, we would have been okay.
The information was not delivered to me in the Platinumgod style, which normally involves barging into my office and yelling at the top of your lungs until I calm the person down and get a sensible story out of them. Recently however, people have been doing this more as a prank rather than needing to say anything really important. I enjoy the entertainment.... Itís just that nothing important has happened here lately though besides concerns about our dwindling population, which lead to me passing a decree yesterday that families with children will receive double rations. Everyone already knew though that I was requesting some degree of... repopulation. It was meant as a joke, because I know all my subjects on a very personal basis and there was plenty of food to go around. But it took up at least four hours of my time to hold a court for the law, and there was a surprisingly well acted defense at the time, saying that preserving our dwindling supply of food may be a better option. At the time I considered it good entertainment.
Until I figured out they werenít acting. It was a very, very real concern. Although I had often asked questions about why I was the only survivor out of ten, even though I was knocked out near the start and should have been executed, no one had answered me. This of course raised my suspicions, but people still remained silent. I had investigated a little before I gave up after my ďmushroomĒ outburst, which for some reason had angered some of my friends.
But despite my efforts, my talks with my friends (Which is everyone in the fort), and all other sorts of investigation I figured it out when my cook delivered a piece of bread as my dinner. Perhaps he wasnít having a good day like most of us, and I thought Iíd let him make it up with something a bit more exciting tomorrow. Maybe a dinner for two with my dear love. It seemed stale, so I split it in half. Then I screamed with an extremely high pitch, and luckily caught myself before the personal cook stormed in, worrying I had been poisoned. I told him something much worse had happened, and pointed to the maggots crawling around on the inside of the bread, squirming for a bit more fresh grain. I asked him what the hell was going on, and he simply said he would retrieve a new dinner, and a much more extravagant one too. I insisted, but he walked out before he answered my yells.
I walked right past him on the way to the upper storeroom, and he begged me to stop. Even when he went on his knees I didnít care, walking right past him without looking back. A hand grabbed onto my robe. At first I thought this was one of the undead, a persistent fear finally becoming reality. I drew my sword, spun around in a circle to the best of my ability, ready to behead this terror. Rather, I heard a startled cry come from the cook as he barely managed to duck.
I couldnít believe it was actually him who did that. Out of all the people in the fortress, he was the only one left that actually upheld the standard behavior. He still treated me like the duke, which most of the times was annoying, but today it was appalling that he didnít. That was even worse than the lowest educated peasant here, who would only grab me when I knew he was there, or actually had something to say. Right now, the cook was trying to stop me from exploring my own fortress. My mouth dropped and I slapped him. Then I pulled into the granary without looking back.
The first thing that hit me was the awful stench, so bad it was deadly. The second thing that hit me was that only a fifth of the room was full, unlike last time I visited where we were so overflowing that I declared a festival in the the name of Armok that didnít stop until we grew bored of partying.
I looked at him, glaring into his eyes, boring into his soul, asking for answers. Suddenly, he was yelling. Even though much of it was mumbling incomprehensibly, I caught the gist of it.
I lived because I had been ransomed. Ransomed for something more valuable than gold. You canít eat gold. But now we were almost out of food. I asked him who arranged to let me live, and which idiot needed a whipping. He said everyone. Luckily for me, harvest was coming up soon and weíd once again be overflowing with food items. I mentioned this out loud, and he hesitated with a response. In normal times I would have trusted that nothing irregular was going on with harvest, but as he put out an obviously fake reply I headed towards the fields.
Chapter 5: The Three Methods
There are three ways to seize an enemy civilization, be it a town, a city, a state, or a nation. The first is the most obvious, invasion. To walk in, tear down the walls, bring out your swords, scream to Armok, raise said sword into air, and unleash the gates of hell onto whoever happens to be standing in front of you. This tends to be extremely ineffective for several reasons. Firstly, chances are a few will escape, meaning that one day they will come back at you once procreating back to their previous numbers, stabbing you back for what your ancestors did to theirs. Secondly, going on the assault is extremely expensive in both manpower and wealth, especially if there isnít a way to escape. Having no chance to run would only force the defenders to fight harder even if there is no hope.
While the undead outside our fort donít have to be funded, that necromancer could be attacking somewhere else, adding people to his army. But instead, he is forced to wait for our walls to crumble, otherwise allowing us to regenerate, blocking off ten serpents pass. I write this as I sit on the tower, knowing this to be true. With every swing of their fists, their bones crack, the skin deteriorates, the muscle is weakened from an oxygen debt. I used to ask my parents why the undead hadnít run over the world, and they simply said because Armok didnít find the undead entertaining. That is utter horseshit. They donít regenerate, and walking destroys them. Last month when I came up and sat on the edge, I saw that Urist was in good condition for the undead. Now as I look into the horde I notice his left wrist is broken from swinging at Platinumgodís masonry, and he has a limp on his left leg. His jaw is unhinged in a ghastly manner. Itís hard to tell from this height, but I can tell it is him. It would be hard not to. And although I know the undead will eventually win despite our best efforts, it will be hard to run us down because we will fight like hell, having no where to run.
The second one is the theory of internal decay. This means turning the entity against itself. The bigger, the stronger, the easier this means will be to crumble the empire. This is the polar opposite of the invasion. Letís say that thereís a mountain with a lot of gold for instance. However, a duke is rich and powerful that it would be impossible to go there outright and overrun everything, so you hire thugs to maim the bastard heir. The Duke is occupied by the slow decay of his son, and you pay slightly less tax towards him, like fifteen percent. As the mayor, your popular. The Duke doesnít feel like having to write the papers off and again explaining why he needs the money, he doesnít want to argue with a bunch of civilians when his son is dying. You use this money to buy some weapons, ensure your place in next election. The heir dies, is buried. The duke demands his full tax. Send some assassins to kill his lover. The duke is forced to hire inconspicuous bodyguards because the relationship is unofficial. This draws money from the military, and the weapons youíve stockpiled make life easier. The undead knock on his front door. You promise to send help but you never do, and you let fear slowly sneak into the populace.
However, this theory has flaws too. Firstly, this could take years or generations to work out, meaning that the fatherís goals will have to be the same as their sons. There is no way to make this work quickly without raising suspicion. Secondly, these plans require more planning, and the rewards are not instant. A single thread goes out of line and the entire spool is unraveled.
The third one is the process of exhaustion. This involves cutting off what people need most. So rather than storming the fortress, just cut off itís migrants. Rather than raiding for food at the expense of many men, commit a ransom and buy it. Destroy their fields. Using this tactic is slower than that of invasion, but can be done easily within a lifetime. It is more costly than decay, but the wealth spent is just a few comforts gone. You donít have to hide either. If the enemy is bigger just hit and run. Irritate them. Force them to lose hope. So when you finally finish off your enemy, they have lost all belief that they deserve that land. You have slowly made them more and more miserable and sadder and sadder than before. They may even die of grief. You raise false hopes only to crush them.
When I headed over to the fields a week after talking to the cook (He managed to keep them from me, and infact nothing was wrong with them, just not as much was planted as I would have liked because they had been wrecked) , I found them salted over, destroyed. My loyal servant seemed stunned by this, and he began to blammer for words, not comprehending what was in front of him. Having done this action myself, I was not surprised. The people of Platinumgod need hope, or at least the mayorís people donít need to keep us alive as virtual slaves, raiding our food stores right after harvest, leaving just enough to survive. I want to undo his spool. I want to live. And that means meat in large slices, along with silk clothes from Giant Cave Spiders.
Iím dying in style, and Iíll do so with a middle finger raised in the mayorís direction. Itís time to go into the caverns.