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Author Topic: The Increasingly Tragic Tale of Dumplin  (Read 75390 times)

Broseph Stalin

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The Increasingly Tragic Tale of Dumplin
« on: April 05, 2013, 12:38:51 am »

This is the story of Dumplin. Dumplin is a composite of several dwarves from several forts who had severely shitty lives. I've really enjoyed constructing the narrative and I hope you'll enjoy it too. There will be alot of references that only make sense if you play masterwork.

The Dwarven stronghold of Arrowstockades was an oasis in the dense forests. A bastion of Dwarven Civilization it's great wooden walls masked a sprawling subterranean kingdom. The settlement was renowned for it's exports of gold, platinum, brass, and lead crafts of unparalleled quality, all decorated with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires and all inlaid with masterful touch. The most miraculous of these creations are the legendary goblets. It is believed that these goblets are by some unknown methods stolen from the heavens. Even those dwarves who witness the construction from beginning to  end look upon the finished product convinced that no earthly being could create such beauty. From the earth they took sand and stone and with care worked them into glorious decorative cabochons and crystal glass. Kings of lesser races traded their fortunes, their lands, and the lives of their soldiers in brutal wars to possess even a single a goblet created by the steady dwarven hands of Arrowstockades.

   “Look lord Reginald, I have procured a Third chalice of Dwarven Design. All I had to do was sell the dwarves every piece of armor worn by my personal guard, many dozen of bins laden with weapons and bolts and leather, every gold ingot in my stores, and my second most favorite ring finger.”

“The savings!”

“Certainly so! I was in the middle of surrendering my clothes but as I began taking off my pants they told me I was entitled to a discount and my boots would quite suffice.”

“What splendor! I too shall take advantage of this discount just as soon as I am able. It may be some time though, my wife is having trouble birthing the four children I still owe for my first goblet.”

   And the silk! The moths tended religiously by dwarves ancient with experience in their dedicated handling. Whose hands tenderly manage the boiling fires that extract the threads of their cocoons. The weavers, the weavers who have never known other labor creating glimmering bolts of unimaginable quality. The Dyers, who labor for days mixing and inspecting and mixing once more ensuring every color is rich and vibrant and unique, imbued with color so glorious and so deep that their radiance and bassy tones can render the uninitiated both deaf and blind. These fabrics of immaculate design are shaped and stitched by the most skilled of dwarven hands into garments of unimaginable quality. The intricate designs adorning these fabrics relate stories of ancient heroes, the births and deaths of great kingdoms, and bear symbols of wealth and power.  So perfectly elegant is this fabric that it appears to exist as a pure and naturally occurring substance, as though the Gods gave the land Earth Fire Wind Water and Arrowstockades Cloth.

   Oh how the elves weep! How they lament their poor drawing in the cosmic lottery to be born of an inferior people. How they labor! How they toil without end in a futile endeavor to replicate the majesty of Dwarven made cloth producing bolt upon bolt stuffed into bin upon bin destined to become rags for wiping vomit or simply burned for their blasphemous mockery of dwarven craftsmanship. Should the dwarves witnessing this utter defacement choose to slaughter the traders who were so brazen as to present them with it there is certainly no sane soul who would blame them.

   “Oh Ricote, how I long for death! I have gazed upon an outfit of dwarven design, the silken fabric was like a sheet of precious silver! The colors were those of my very soul! The designs were those of my  sweetest dreams. I gave them bins upon bins of cloth and barrels upon  barrels of ale and cage after cage manned by exotic beasts from far away lands and I did a tree-kicking dance for their amusement but when our trade was done they had everything and I was permitted only to touch a sock of dwarven conception.”

   The wealth and grandeur of Arrowstockades! Dwarves labor cutting the tallest and grandest of trees. They toil smoothing the great logs of all knots and bark, pruning all stray branches, and inspecting each piece before anointing them in oil and polishing them to brilliant shine. These splendid trunks are carved into planks and assembled into bedframes topped in the mattresses of the finest down and decorated with ivory and horn. Feathers grown from the storied feather trees stuff mattresses so perfectly plush yet firm that one does not lie upon them but accept their embrace. And only then are these beds beyond the imagining of any king in the land worthy of being handed to even the lowest of dwarfkind.

   The dining hall! Fifty stories from floor to ceiling, a mile in any given direction, and a sea of tables and chairs each worth more than the wealth of a small nation stretching from wall to wall all inlaid with gold, silver, platinum, and precious gems.  And in this great and sprawling hall dwarves from all walks of life enjoy meals of the most exotic meats and cheeses spiced with rare herbs from far away lands. In this great hall dwarves spent their days trying in vain to exhaust the pleasures of life in a dwarven paradise. There is for each dwarf on their arrival a meal set constructed from a half side of beef a whole side of pork two guineahens, a turkey, twelve turtles whose shells formed bowls and plates holding soups, jellies, puddings, and roasted vegetables, several fine sausages of different blends all eaten with mermaid bone utensils to avoid contaminating the delicate flavors with a metallic taste. All of this offered simply to garnish the sea monster caviar, unicorn cheese fondue, and a cut of steak from a creature so ancient and mysterious that it's name had been lost to the ages.
   Oh the riches of Arrowstockades. An expansive network of tunnels was constructed to house the vast ocean of drink stored inside. Good strong liquor of every variety and vintage stacked in vast stockpiles large enough to swallow a modest goblin tower. Casks stacked upon casks filled the glorious chasm and should a man be lucky enough to taste a new variety every day he should still die having never known all they had to offer. Wines so decadent that to taste them would fill a minotaur with laughter and merriment, ale so hearty that one swig would turn a fluffy wambler into a quarrelsome brawler, liqour so stiff that a single whiff would stagger the sturdiest yeti all served out of goblets of unearthly quality.
   And defending it all the most enduring symbol of dwarven might. The military of Arrowstockades, dwarves of fleet foot and strong back whose every shot lands true. Their blades razor sharp, their armor impenetrable, their shields thick and wide. Their crossbows of unearthly quality who without recoil launch their deadly missiles at blinding speeds landing with impossible precision at the heart of any target they chose. Warriors of the fiercest kind whose mettle and moral fortitude is beyond imagining. Standing against all challengers this unstoppable force is the greatest in all the land. Oh how the goblins lament! Their kind wallow in infinite desperation for a single dwarven child who carries the blood of the fortress to one day lead their forces.

“Oh Amxu I am lost! One dwarven general and my forces would be unstoppable. But they are ever vigilant, fearsome and proficient in all manners of warfare the defenders of Arrowstockades are truly undefeatable!”

   The promise of Arrowstockades was clear. Any dwarf who slogged through the Weathered Mire, where the terrain was so hostile the clothes would be worn right off the wearers back, walked across the Taciturn Plains ,where the silence was so definite that a dwarven heartbeat could be heard for miles, braved the Baleful Desert ,where fleshless vultures greedily devoured every scrap of life that treaded near, dared to hike the Mournful Hills, where the souls of oathbreakers and those dead by their own hand were said to walk, and could still be unsatisfied by what they saw in the Heavenly Petal-Fields, where it rained beer and the grass was softer than the softest down, could navigate the Forest of Smoke, where the trees were so thick they formed a haze, scale the Loveless Mountains ,which were so steep that a stone could fall from it's summit and reach sea level without ever touching the slope, could reach the spire of the Certain Tooth where fabled Arrowstockades lied. And in that Eden they would sing and laugh and dance with the characters of the most fantastic of dwarven legend and be at peace for all time.

Or so go the stories. There are many stories in dwarven legends. Some are grand, some are simple, some are wondrous, some are horrible. This is one of those last ones.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 05:58:05 pm by Broseph Stalin »

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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 01:25:16 am »

“We're here dear husband we're here!” Said Dumat Stakepondered to her husband Asen Hateumbra.

“Are you sure?” Asked a stranger from far back. “All I see is trees and more trees.”

“Yes I can see the top of the fortress from here! It's just up ahead now. I think there are men on the roof.”  She replied.

“My wife's got the sharpest eyes in the empire!” Asen boasted. “She could count the hairs on their beards from this distance.”

“Yes!” Called another voice. “That is it! We've reached the fortress!”

Many days and many nights of travel brought the band to the gates. Thirty altogether they started their treks from different points but they had converged into a caravan of migrants. Some of there number had witnessed terrible trials and turned back, others had become injured or ill and had to be left at the nearest settlement, some still made it to the heavenly petal-fields and could not be persuaded to brave the Loveless Mountains when something so beautiful was already so near. Their feet were tired, their backs were sore, their bellies and packs were empty. The trip was grueling but it would be well worth it for soon the friendly denizens of Arrowstockades would greet them as friends and neighbors, and prepare beds while they were spirited to the great hall. But their first sight wasn't a dining hall, or even a regular hall. It was a dirty, nearly naked dwarf furiously strangling a struggling wolf. Treading new ground none of the group were quite sure about the social conventions for this particular scenario.

“Hello.” Said Dumat. “Are you alright?”

“If I choke this bear I get a toga!” he yelled.

“That's a wolf.” She replied.

“No,” he answered back. “It's definitely a toga.”

Not wanting to interrupt a man so invested in lupine asphyxiation they passed on to the main gate. The small structure was protected by a drawbridge, presently lowered, and a pair of doors, presently sealed. A dwarf of considerable years stood before them. In one hand he held a shimmering blade and in the other he held a great shield. His left eye milky white and surrounded by scar tissue his right eye a deep green hard and clear as emerald inspecting the newcomers. Before he could speak a yell came from the back.

A drow sprung from the dense wood and buried a knife into the chest of a migrant while simultaneously scooping her child into a sack. Without warning the semi-nude man from earlier sprung from the underbrush punching the drow in the back of the head. He proceeded to rain blows until the drow ceased to move. The gatekeeper called out to him with his thumb raised.

“Toga?” The gatekeeper inquired.
“Toga!” The blood spattered nudist replied.
“Grawk!” Squelched the bleeding dwarf.

The naked dwarf scooped up the bloody dwarf and hauled him indoors.

“That tends to happen.” Said the gatekeeper declining to explain. “Line up, the lot of you, and prepare to state your name and trade skills.

Dumat's optimism rendered her the least susceptible to the confusion and fear that had swallowed the group. “I'm Dumat Stakepondered. I'm a farmer”

The dwarf scribbled something onto a piece of paper with a bit of charcoal. “Dumplin Lakewanders, got it now what's your trade?”

“I'm a farmer, Dumat Stakepondered.”

“Okay and this is your husband?” The gatekeeper continued.

“Asen Hateumbra, Stonecrafter.” Said her husband.

“Okay so we have Dumplin Lakewanders--” The gatekeeper reiterated.

“Dumat Stakepondered” Interrupted Dumat.

“--and Asen Hateumbra--” Said the gatekeeper uninterrupted.

“Yep.” said Asen happily.

“Both Garbagedwarves.” Concluded the gatekeeper.

“What?” asked Dumat.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 05:59:46 pm by Broseph Stalin »

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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 01:37:50 pm »

“Garbagedwarves” Repeated the gatekeeper in a fashion she assumed was supposed to be happy. He noticed the confused and reluctant looks the pair wore. “It doesn't actually mean you'll be carrying garbage.” He explained.

“Well that's a relief.” Dumat said.

“It means you are garbage. You'll just be hauling things, like boulders, bins, barrels, bodies, and incidentally garbage.” the gatekeeper clarified.

“That can't be right.” Asen said. “I'm a skilled stonecrafter and my wife is an excellent farmer.”

“We don't really craft stones and we already have farmers.” said the gatekeeper.

“But you must also have plenty of haulers.” Asen pointed out.

“Garbagedwarves.” the gatekeeper corrected. “But you do have a point. I guess we only need a few haulers from this group. Your wife can do the hauling, you can manage the furnace because I think it will make you go away.”


“I'm already done paying attention to you.” The gatekeeper interrupted.

“Toga!” Came the cry as the door swung open.

“Toga!” Cheered the gatekeeper.

And there stood the nudist now wearing a toga of legendary quality. Deep purple in color and covered in images referencing the founding of the fortress.

“We have a garbagedwarf and a furnace operator.” The gatekeeper informed the no longer nude dwarf.

“Neither of those things are true.” Said Asen.

“Show them to their work assignments.” Said the gatekeeper ignoring them.

“Toga!” Gleefully  replied the fully clothed nudist scooping the dead drow over his shoulders.

Inside the great wooden walls it was as though they had entered a different wilderness. The great indoor area had a great wooden roof riddled glass portals to let sun through. The ground was covered in tall grass and shrubbery and even a few trees spread about. Cragtooth Hog, and Tuskox, and Wooly Goat all passed through a never-ending cycle of being sheared and milked. Corn was taken from the plant and brewed into good whiskey or ground into meal. Cords of wood were stacked upon one another before being hauled to the mill to be smoothed and polished and cut into planks. Farmers tended to hens which sat upon eggs which sat upon nest boxes.

Dumat felt renewed optimism as joy swelled in her heart, this truly was the Arrowstockades of legend. “Don't worry husband. I'm certain everything will be fine. They have to process all these dwarves right now. I'm sure once things slow down we'll get everything straightened out.”

The nudist rolled his shoulders letting the body he carried fall to the ground. “So we'll start by having you throw this murdered drow corpse that I killed into the furnace.”

“Wait what?” Dumat replied.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 06:00:47 pm by Broseph Stalin »


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Re: The Increasingly Tragic Tale of Dumplin
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 01:59:41 pm »

PTW. Love it.
Come and be amazed by this wonderful menagerie! Draw your own! Bring your favorite! The [Forgotten Beast Art Contest] is open for business!
Now also available - [The Legendary Artifact Art Contest]! It menaces! It has rings! It has craftsdwarfship!
I have a [YouTube] channel! It has Let's Plays and other stuff.

Broseph Stalin

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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 06:20:39 pm »

“Your husband needs to burn this guy!” The Nudist replied brightly. “We can't just let him lay around, he'd stink up the place and possibly come back to life and revenge-kill me if necromancers come.”

“Does that happen?” Asen asked.

“No, because we burn the bodies and they will never come back.” The nudist answered.

“Are you afraid of zombies?” Asked Dumat.

“No, no, no, gods no.” The nudist assured unassuringly. “I'm a manly man! I'm not afraid of all of the animals and men I've watched die coming back to punish me.”

“That's an incredibly specific thing not to be afraid of.” Said Dumat.

“That's beside the point.” Insisted the nudist.“What matters is that inexperienced furnace operators get to huck corpses onto the fire. When he gets good at it maybe he can work the smelter but until then he's going to be burning corpses.”

“That sounds really unhealthy.” Said Asen.

“It's fine.” Said the nudist. “Sometimes you'll get a fever and start uncontrollably vomiting but that's to be expected.”

“That doesn't really sound fine.” Dumat pointed out.

“I guess it's really not.” The nudist conceded. “Still, he should start burning corpses. The other guys will show him all the tricks”

“There are tricks to burning corpses?” Asked Asen.

“No, I meant tricks for keeping the vomit off of your beard.”


   “Goodbye!” Said the nudist leading Dumat away. Inside the enclosure there was a second structure, a small wooden building whose walls reached the roof. The central staircase rose up to the rooftop and down to the fortress. The Nudist ,who went on to introduce himself as Ashmon, led her down to the work area.

    The grassy ground gave way to sand. The walls were sand and the ground was brass. Brass roads  connected the different stockpiles and workshops where dwarves busied themselves doing important and delicate labors. They manufactured furniture and mechanisms and clothes and with great care worked ivory and bone and horn and gems into the priceless treasures of Arrowstockades.

   And a level below that the sand and brass gave way to bare stone. Here he showed her the forges and the furnaces and the brick ovens. The furnaces he explained were manned by a team of experienced veterans of the corpse burning trade. The ovens were staffed by masons who baked boulders into the decorative bricks which made up the furniture of the nobility. From here Ashmon grabbed a wooden wheelbarrow and gave it to her to carry.

   Another level down the floor and the walls were now wooden. Here, he explained, were the quarters and the dormitories. Warm dry beds for all who needed them safe and secure behind the fortifications of Arrowstockades. In these rooms dwarves were given a lovely wooden cabinet decorated with ivory, two chests with images made of silver or gold, a table and chair accentuated by pewter lead or some other non precious decorative metal, and a bed of incredible quality inlaid with gems all secured behind a sturdy door.  The north wing, he explained was reserved for dwarves in good standing who in addition to their rooms and furnishings were given a good stone plinth and an item of personal significance to display upon it. The Militia Commander had apparently earned a platinum chalice that related his first kill with with his favored weapon in gold. Dumat briefly considered what she would place on her plinth but Ashmon didn't pause long before leading her even further down.

   Here the floor was stone but unlike any she'd ever seen. Smooth stone darker than black with a brilliant shine. These stones were wholly unlike their inferior, pedestrian, kin and their understated and stately beauty was undeniable. They were so perfect in ebony color that if she looked at it for too long she got the impression that the bricks were not there and she was staring into a black void or a perfectly starless sky. These were the fine bricks created in the ovens Ashmon explained, and it was apparent to Dumat why such work was put into them.

   To the north, west, east, and south were great double doors. The northern doors led to the nobles quarters. They were made from the brick material and decorated with platinum. In front of them stood a dwarf lapped in shining golden armor. Too heavy and soft to afford any real protection, Ashmon said, but it was a strictly ceremonial position. To the east the doors were decorated with bone and Ashmon said they led to the crypts. To the west the doors were decorated with iron, the jails, Ashmon explained. And to the south behind the doors decorated in gold was the dining hall of legends

   Dumat tried to sue for just a peek inside but Ashmon was insistent that they report directly to her work site. This time many levels passed formed from common, raw stone untouched by dwarven hands. She marked their progress by the different colors of stone that they passed as they descended through different layers of strata. By the time they reached the bottom her legs had grown very weak and she struggled to catch her breath. They now stood in a tiny, empty, wooden room with a simple wooden door. Ashmon pushed it open and revealed an expansive cavern filled with great woody mushrooms taller than a dwarf and dense moss that formed a grass-like carpet broken up by deep blue pools of water.

   They were not alone in these depths, miners all about were busy digging into the veins of colorful minerals that marked the walls. All over in fairly orderly piles were piles of boulders, rocks, and pebbles of different colors. Ashmon approached one and gave it a pat.

“This is gold ore.” He said. “Load it in the wheelbarrow and haul it to the stockpile by the furnaces.”

 Dumat looked back at the stairs.

“What?” She asked.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 06:02:27 pm by Broseph Stalin »


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Re: The Increasingly Tragic Tale of Dumplin
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2013, 03:08:49 am »

I love it.

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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2013, 01:06:57 pm »

“It's easy!” Lied Ashmon. “Just load up the wheelbarrow and take it to the stockpile.”

“But there are stairs.” Said Dumat. “A whole lot of stairs”

 “Well it's not easy--”

“You just said it was literally a second ago.”

“--but this is my favorite part of the job.”

“How can you enjoy carrying thousands of pounds of stone up a giant staircase in a wheelbarrow?”

“Well it helps you forget about the nightmares.”

“Nightmares?”  She asked.

“You know, the nightmares you have about the undead hands of the men you've killed ripping the flesh from your bones.”  He said smiling.


“Or you know just thinking about the sound a wolf makes when it's neck snaps in your arms.”

“Are you okay?”

“Of course, now let's get to work, the faster we get up these stairs the faster the howling stops.”

Deciding it would be better to stop that howling sooner rather than later she stopped arguing and began pushing the wheelbarrow towards the stairs. A very small dwarf Dumat just didn't have the weight or power to to be particularly effective at moving the wheelbarrow that now weighed almost twenty times what she did.  She tightly gripped the wheelbarrow by it's handles and threw her weight behind it budging it only slightly. She pushed and pushed but only succeeded in moving a few feet and causing an agonizing pain in her back. Ashmon growing in patient began alternating between offering very unhelpful advice and practicing his toga dance.

“Maybe jump at it?”

“Maybe I should wiggle my shoulders and tap my feet?”

“Ride it like a mule, they're really good at climbing!”

“Pelvic thrust! Pelvic thrust! Pelvic thrust!”

Finally after much practice she discovered that the best way to tune him out was to focus on the pain building in her legs. Finally she resigned to her fate.

“Ashmon?” She asked humbly.

“Pelvic thrust!” He said for the sixty seventh time.

“Ashmon I don't think I can do this.”

“You have to!” Ashmon was so alarmed by her statement that he was unable to preform pelvic thrust  number sixty eight. “This is the simplest work, if you can't do this they'll  send you away!”

“They can't do that!” Exclaimed Dumat.

“Why they do it all the time!” Said Ashmon. “If you can't do this you can't do anything and they'll never let you stay in the fortress.”

   Dumat thought of all the friends that she and her husband had left behind to reach the safety of Arrowstockades. She thought of the fearsome wilderness and rough terrain they'd braved to reach the gates. She thought of how important it was that she start a family somewhere it would be safe, somewhere her child would have a chance to grow and learn and work and go onto have it's own children. Leaving just wasn't an option. She thought for a moment and examined the wheelbarrow. Her sharp eyes ran over the design of the cart and determined that most of the weight could be born by it's wheel.   Also, that there was no danger of stones falling out of the high edges of the wheelbarrow. Thinking quickly she positioned her body directly under the handles and stood straight up allowing gravity to do the rest. The wheelbarrow now steamed forward and her only role was to steer it and try to keep up. With a great rumbling thud the wheel struck the stair and the hard part now began.

   She spun the wheelbarrow around took a solid position on the stairs. With a great heave and a mighty yell she pulled with all her might bringing the wheel up to the level of the first stair. She took no time to catch her breath and took another step back. Positioning herself on the stairs she gave another yell and another pull bringing it up another level. She repeated this dozens of times and each time was met by a slightly fuller symphony as more and more muscles began to strain and creak. The pain built and built while her energy fell and fell with each stair bringing the gold ore closer to the furnaces and her body closer to ruin.

   What was worse was that these lower stairs were strictly utilitarian and unlike the grandiose upper flights had made hastily and without measuring. They were of different heights and widths meaning sometimes she only had a thin strip of stone to get traction on and sometimes she had to raise her leg very high to plant her foot on the next tier. Unable to turn fully around without letting go of one of the handles she had to feel around with her foot while balancing the weight of the gold and attempt to ascertain the geography of the stairs. The alternative was a very long and very painful fall. She turned to Ashmon to divert her attention to something slightly less painful and only slightly more terrifying.

“So HRGHA!” She grunted ascending another stair. “That's a very nice toga?”

“Thank you.” Said Ashmon. “It's a symbol of the fortress guard. Luckilly goblins killed everyone except Feb last month.”

“That's the opposite of lucky.” Said Dumat resting on a stair.

“Feb said the only way I could join the guard was if every single dwarf under him was dead. He made me prove my worth by chasing down and strangling wolves.”

“Oh, that explains- well actually it explains very little.”

“I had to earn each piece of my uniform.” Said Ashmon. “That's why when you saw me I only had socks, gloves and boots.”

“I was wondering why you were naked.” Said Dumat.

“I wasn't completely naked.” Ashmon replied.

“I noticed.” Said Dumat.

“I did something clever with the sock.” Said Ashmon.

“I saw, please stop explaining.” Insisted Dumat.

“I put it on my penis.” Said Asmon.

“We don't need to talk anymore.” Said Dumat.

Determined now to get as far from Ashmon as possible Dumat was reinvigorated. She stumbled several times and even collapsed once but over the course of many hours she worked her way up the stairs. As she went along her progress became more apparent as the stairs became more even. Remembering the different colors of stone she determined there were only five or six more levels to go until she reached the furnace. However as often happens in life as she grew closer to her goal the difficulty sharply increased.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 06:03:18 pm by Broseph Stalin »

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Re: The Increasingly Tragic Tale of Dumplin
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2013, 01:16:54 pm »

“Excuse me.” Came the voice from behind. She cocked her neck back as far as she could and saw a dwarf standing patiently behind her. A miner, helmet on his head and pick over his shoulder was trying to pass to get to the work site in the caverns.

“Sorry.” She said. She wiggled and jimmied and slid until the wheelbarrow and her body were off to one side and the miner slipped passed with a wink and a nod. She tried to continue but the wheelbarrow's wheel was off center. The wheelbarrow didn't go in a straight line and occasionally either the frame or one of her arms would scrape the rough stone wall. She was forced to take the center path again alternating between ascending one stair and lifting one stair.

“Excuse me.” Came another voice. A woman struggling with a large wooden bin was standing behind her this time.

“Sorry.” She said again and once more manuvered and jostled and reoriented herself and the wheelbarrow to one side.

“Thank you.” The woman said hurrying down the stairs.

Once more she had to push and pull and shove the wheelbarrow back to the center of the staircase and with a great pull begin ascending the stairs again. A few more stairs passed before yet another voice called out.

“Coming through.” This was a stern looking woodcutter off to harvest the great woody mushrooms.

“Sorry.” She said and strained and struggled and shifted until the wheelbarrow and her body were out of the path.

The woodcutter just looked at her grumpily before passing by and going off to the caverns. She worked  and labored, and huffed and puffed until the wheelbarrow was once more in line to ascend the staircase. A single stair went by this time before a voice from behind announced another worker.

“Squeezing passed.” He said pushing by. She worked very hard to prevent him from accidentally toppling the wheelbarrow and he worked very hard to do just that. “Thanks.” He said finally getting by.

She didn't even try to reposition the wheelbarrow. She just tried to keep it from tipping and keep the sleeve of her shirt or flesh of her arm from tearing too badly. Sure enough several more people came through some apologizing some admonishing her for blocking the staircase and some not paying attention to her at all. Still she found a bit of joy in the fact that the strata had once again become white meaning they were only one level below the forges. And then the bell rang.

“Somethings in the caverns.” Explained Ashmon. “Something dangerous.”
Sure enough a moment later a troupe of mail clad dwarf carrying a sword shoved passed her and just after he'd passed the  miner ,his pick now dripping with blood, came running back up followed by a stampede of workers shoving their way back to the safety of the fortress. And then the bell stopped ringing.

That wave was met by a team of  medics rushing to the wounded and struggling to find room to pass. They were joined by the  woman with the bin returning to the caverns to finish her interrupted job and she brought with her the other haulers trying to slip their empty wheelbarrows by her full one.

And so she sunk. Lower and lower to the ground letting bins and barrels pass over her head while haulers shoved passed. Soon she was completely prone with men stepping over her frantically trying to get through the slowly growing clot in the tight corridor.

“Wait!” She called out to the mob. “Please stop for just a moment.”
The cacaphonic mob either did not hear or was not interested in her cries.
“Please! Just long enough for me to find my bearings.”
Her calls went unanswered.
“Ashmon, help me!”

“Toga!” He cried and was answered by several replies of “Toga!”

“You need to stop!” She yelled as errant boots began striking her sides and stepping on her legs.

“No!” she cried as her blistered, raw hands were filled with splinters and the wheelbarrow gave a horrible lurch forward spilling it's contents onto the stairs. The small mountain of gold ore rolled in a wave slamming into dwarves and knocking them off their feet or tripping them up causing an even greater wave of confused dwarves and the items they carried. Yells of anger, terror, and confusion split the air as dwarves fell on one another in the heap. When the rumble had stopped Dumat sat on the stairs surveying they damage done. The ore laid all over the stairs and the wheelbarrow laid in a far corner completely devoid it's contents.

“Welp,” said Ashmon. “Looks like we get to start over!”

Authors note: Ashmon was a dwarf who actually had to strangle wolves. He picked up "Doesn't really care about anything anymore" but was constantly ecstatic. I imagined him as a gleeful psychopath insisting everything was great while he watched the light leave a wolf's eyes.

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« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2013, 03:28:58 pm »

Dumat apologized to everyone who in turn continued to ignore her and go about their business. She recognized that she still had to get the gold to the furnace and didn't attempt to get Ashmon's help or advice. She righted the wheelbarrow and started piling the gold ore back in handful by handful. Ashmon busied himself with his toga dance for almost an hour before he was interrupted by Dumat's scream.

“What's the matter?” He asked.

“I've killed a man!”  She cried tears streaming down her face.

“Me too! I've killed seven!” Ashmon said proudly. “Did you get a good grip on his neck or did you have to pummel him first? Are you screaming about his filthy undead hands clawing at your soul?”

“No! I mean just now, look!” 

“Oh,” Ahsmon said disappointedly eyeing the corpse half buried in unprocessed ore. “I don't think that counts. He probably won't want to rip your eyes out for that.”

“I'm not screaming about undead claws!” She yellled.

“Lucky.” Ashmon said. “So why are you screaming?”

“Because he's dead!” Dumat yelled.

Ashmon stared blankly and began prodding the body.

“Stop poking that!” Came an order from upstairs. A man with a distinctly medical look and a distinctly homeless smell was rushing down the stairs. “We were wondering where that got to. A troll ripped him apart in the caverns, someone dropped him during the chaos.”

“That's horrible!” Said Dumat.

“It sure is!” Concurred Ashmon. “What if necromancers brought him back to life and his eyes reflected all of our sins?”

“I'm not talking about zombies Ashmon.” Dumat said.

“Well I suppose someone could have tripped over him but that's really a secondary concern.” He replied.

“I meant it's undignified! You can't just throw the dead about like trash, this man had a family, and friends, and- what are you doing!?”

“Taking his shirt.” Said Ashmon working the shirt off the stiff corpse. “Mine is getting a little worn.”

“You have a toga!” She yelled.

“And now I have a shirt to wear under it!” Ashmon said happily.

“This is insane, even you have to have more compassion than this!” She plead.

Without warning a child came running down the stairs and deftly yanked the socks off the mans feet. She looked up and sure enough more people were on their way down to claim the mans property from his yet warm body.

“No!” She shouted. The pain and ignorance and insanity she'd endured had finally reached it's zenith. She shoved the mob back and threw the man onto the pile of ore. “He's in the wheelbarrow now.” She said boldly. “I'm in the middle of completing a work order to haul the contents of wheelbarrow to their destination and if you stop me then this guard will have to stop you.”
Ashmon pelvic trusted his approval.

“Now run on!” She concluded  loading the wheelbarrow with the rest of the ore. The break from the strenuous labor of hauling the wheelbarrow had given her body  a chance to rest and that rest had given her muscles a chance to slacken. Her body now limp and noodly she struggled to get up the stairs a far weaker woman. Empowered by her choice to stick to her convictions she supplemented her physical weakness with her spiritual strength. When she reached her destination she gently laid the fallen dwarf on the ground and dumped out the ore.

The Furnace Operators began shoveling immediately and by the time she'd worked the body back into the wheelbarrow and prepared to depart they'd already produced a few bars of gold and dispensed with the waste material. She was resentful about how much easier their job was but she dispelled those negative thoughts and proceeded to what Ashmon had pointed out as the crypts. The long hall had acloves every few feet where slabs and coffins rested. The silence of the crypts was a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the fortress. She read the many slabs relating the names and manners of death of the coffins occupants surmising by the proximity of the years a few cataclysmic events.

Apparently in a winter a few years ago there was a mass drought which claimed at least nine dwarves and a few years later seven dwarves died in a fire.  Only a few months later a goblin attack claimed twelve and a few months after that the last of the casualties died in the hospital. There were a few accidents and a few “accidents” one outright murder and one death by natural causes. Finally she came to a slab with no name and laid the dwarf to rest in the coffin behind it. She found she had nothing to say about him or his passing and instead let the silence speak for itself. She sat for several minutes in the sacred stillness before going off to find her husband.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 02:15:27 pm by Broseph Stalin »


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Re: The Increasingly Tragic Tale of Dumplin
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2013, 03:49:29 pm »

Loving your story so far. Keep up the good work !

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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2013, 10:10:44 pm »

Leaving peace of the crypts Dumat found her reserve of inner strength depleted. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted her body demanded rest. What remained of her will however compelled her to find her husband before she laid down to rest. With her work order complete Ashmon left Dumat to her own devices.

She found her way back to the open technically indoor area and looked around the furnace. Asen was nowhere to be seen. She saw instead a few strange, filthy, men shoveling piles of rat carcasses into the furnace.

“What happened to Asen?” She asked the least strange but most filthy man.

“Who?” Asked the filthy dwarf.

“My husband, the new worker.” Said Dumat.

“Oh, the new guy.” The dirty dwarf nodded in understanding. “He was taken to the hospital.”

“What!?” Dumat ask-laimed

“He passed out from the smell and choked on his own vomit.” Said the disgusting dwarf. “That happens sometime.” He added.

“Where's the hospital?”  She asked.

“It's upstairs.” Said the soot-caked dwarf. “But that's not where he is.”

“Well then where is he?” She demanded becoming frustrated.

“One of the dormitories.” Said the dirty-smelly-gross dwarf. “Not sure which.”

And so Dumat went back inside, and down three flights of stairs, and down a hallway, and all throughout a large, dark, sleeping area, and then back down that hallway, and down another hallway, and throughout another dark sleeping area, and then back down said hallway, before going into into yet another hallway, and all over a third dark sleeping area, and back down said hallway, and then down another hallway, and throughout another large sleeping area before discovering she was in the first sleeping area again, and then back down that hallway, and then down the fourth hallway, and all throughout the dark sleeping area before finally finding her husband.

“Asen!” She cried happily.

“Hello Dumat.” Asen said weakly.

 Her legs buckled and she collapsed beside him.
“How was your day?” She asked.

“Poor.” Said her husband. “Shoveling garbage, rotten food, and the body parts of animals and even men was taxing work. The smell... They say I inhaled a lot of my own vomit but they wouldn't let me stay in the hospital. I came here to rest but the beds were all full even though the sun hadn't even set. Apparently day and night don't mean a lot here. Told me I had to sleep on the floor. But no use crying about the past, how was your day?”

“Wonderful.” She said. “Pick the stones up and put them down somewhere else, simple work.”

“I'm glad your day was better than mine.” Asen Said. “I don't think I can handle many more days like this.”

Dumat smiled. “I know how it can get better.”
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 02:15:37 pm by Broseph Stalin »

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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2013, 06:43:40 am »

 Her body voiced it's disapproval of all the work today had held. After hiking ten miles through rough wilderness,  walking throughout the fortress with Ashmon,  climbing down the great staircase,  climbing up the great staircase,  loading the wheelbarrow,  climbing the rest of the way up the great staircase, burying the dwarf, climbing the rest of the great staircase, and walking all over the dormitory level every muscle cried out in pain but there was enough will in her for one more task.

She staggered to her feet.

“Where are you going?” Asen asked.

“To dinner.” She said. She scooped Asen up supporting his entire weight on her shoulders.

“No, I'm too feverish to move and I'm too sore to walk.” He said. Dumat pressed on undeterred.

“Please Dumat set me down, I'm far too heavy.” He insisted. Dumat took one step at a time with heavy yet steady footfalls. Her body protested. She'd undoubtedly incurred severe injuries to her muscles this day but the mind was stronger than the body. Down the hall and down the stairs to the great doors.

The sight of the beautiful, brilliant, sheen of the black stone energized her. All over the door were spectacular images in gold and gems. From the Baroness and her six confederates founding the settlement, to the great fires and famines that had plagued the fortress. She pushed the door open and revealed the renowned dining hall of Arrowstockades.

   It was no sea but it could seat thirty dwarves at a time and featured magnificent statues. All about dwarves in various states of exhaustion and starvation greedily munched on various foods and guzzled flagons of various drinks. She found an open spot and sat her husband down. She spotted in the back of the room a dwarf with an odd hat and filthy face stood by numerous barrels with a ladle and a stack of lead mugs and plates.

“Hello.” She said.

“Hello.” He replied. “Food or drink?” He asked.

“Both.” She said. “For two dwarves.”

In practiced motions he laid out two plates and two mugs and with a scoop of his ladle filled each mug with brown liquor and then with the same ladle piled both plates with brown mush.

“What is this?” She asked as politely as she could.

“Corn whiskey and Tallow Cakes.”  He replied with a smile.

“Tallow is inedible.” She pointed out.

“Well sure it is raw, but this is minced tallow.”  He retorted.

“You can't mince tallow.” She said.

“I can,” said the cook. “I'm a cook. Besides there's other stuff in them.”

“Like what?” She asked.

“Minced tallow, finely minced tallow, and acorns.”

“I can't eat this.” She said.

“Well there'll be a different meal tomorrow.” He said. “We're out of acorns so I'll have to figure out a recipe for tallow cakes that doesn't need acorns. I think I'll use some minced tallow.”

“I'm starving,” she conceded. “I'll try your tallow cakes.”

She balanced the plates and mugs and went back to the table.

“What is this?” Asen asked.

“It's uh, very tasty.” She replied.

Maybe it was her desperate need for refueling but the tallow cakes weren't a bad way to end an awful day. They were to put it lightly a high energy foodstuff but it wasn't like she couldn't use the calories. She'd worked harder than she'd ever had and she was in more pain than she'd ever experienced but it was done now. She was enjoying good food and drink beside her husband now with the days challenges finally done. 

   She was truthfully happy for the trials today had held, completely pleased with how awful it had all been. She'd proven to herself just how strong she could be, and it stood to reason that as long as you learn from your mistakes the next day is always easier than the last.  Soon today would just be a fun story to tell, soon the great staircase would be a leisurely stroll, soon Arrowstockades would be home.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 09:36:24 pm by Broseph Stalin »

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Re: The Increasingly Tragic Tale of Dumplin
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2013, 07:31:13 am »

PTW, good work

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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2013, 08:21:52 am »

Sure enough the next day was easier. Her body was wracked with pain from the very beginning but there was no need to relearn the techniques. Since she figured out the rhythm on the first day and she knew to avoid traffic in the stairwell she was able to get her wheelbarrow up the stairs almost two hours earlier this time. She once again carried Asen who had once again taken ill to dinner and once again enjoyed a strange but satisfying meal.

The third day was easier still, she'd taken a bit of time to work on the wheelbarrow and prevented it from wobbling shaving a little time off of each stair she had to climb. On the fourth day Ashmon found her a pair of gloves and she no longer had to stop adjust her grip and she reached the top just before sunset. She took the time off to visit Asen who had fallen sick every day but was no longer allowed to quit working. Eventually she sensed that her presence was distracting him and went on to find Ashmon ,who never seemed to be particularly busy, but someone sighted an ostrich and he ran off into the wilderness to punch it in the face.

It was far too late to take another work order and she didn't want to sit down for dinner without Asen so she just leaned against a jewlers shop waiting for time to pass.
“Hello.” Said a friendly voice from above. An old dwarf with a great gray beard and a great crooked nose peered down at her seated form from the workshop. “You seem troubled.”

She sighed. “I just don't know about all of this,I wish they would let me do something important.”

“They do!” Said the jewler matter of factly. “Everything's important. If it wasn't then nobody would have to do it.” He pointed out.

“I'm not important.”Dumat lamented. “I'm a garbagedwarf. I just haul rocks while my husband burns rats.”

He slowly walked around the workstation and sat down beside her with a grunt. “We need a constant supply of ashes.” He said. “So dwarves work all day throwing rat carcasses into the fire and pulling out bars of ash. Then the potash makers work day and night to make potash.” he pointed out a few men laboring with a bin full of ash bricks. “The potash gets taken to the kilns and baked into pearlash. While that's happening the miners labor deep in the caverns to extract rock crystal and ore.” He pointed to men working with glass. “Then they mix the rock crystal and the pearlash to make crystal glass. And then that ore is smelted and worked into shapes and that glass is cut into gems and then....” 
He reached over the workshop table and drew his hand back with an object in his grip. He held an immaculate golden goblet inlaid with gorgeous glimmering gems. As perfect as any diamond they glimmered even in the dim light of the tunnels. She understood why someone would wage wars or trade kingdoms for an item of such beauty.
“Then I set those glass gems into the golden crafts. But when someone holds a genuine Arrowstockades  goblet they think of dwarven craftsmanship, they don't think of burning rats, or long staircases, or pulled muscles and men vomiting in hospital beds. They just think of how beautiful the end result is even if the road to get there was awful. And who knows, maybe if you work hard enough they'll notice you. For now your just one migrant out of thirty but if you keep working they'll give you more opportunities, then maybe you'll get a room of your own.”

Dumat struggled with her words for a moment before settling on “Thank you.”
 The old dwarf returned to his workshop but continued chatting lightly with Dumat until a familiar voice split the air.

“Order come down for Dumplin Lakewanders!” it cried. When Dumat turned there stood Feb One-Eye wearing his full armor over a toga of incredible quality.

“I'm Dumat Stakepondered.” Said Dumat Stakepondered.

“No!” Barked the captain of the guard. “Dumplin Lakewanders, says the paper and for Dumplin Lakewanders I search.”

“Well my name is Dumat Stakepondered.” She was determined to get the captain to call her by the correct name.

“I've got a special work order for Dumplin Lakewanders, if she's not here to take it someone else will be happy for the opportunity.”

She remembered what the jewler said, 'work hard enough and they'll notice you.' She decided it wasn't incredibly important that the Captain called her by her name. “I'm Dumplin Lakewanders.” She said. 

He sauntered over with a paper in his outstretched hand. “Well if you're done mispronouncing your own name this is for you.”
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 02:16:12 pm by Broseph Stalin »

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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2013, 08:48:57 am »

“Tree Cwivers”  Said the paper. The secret message had been passed down directly from the manager and whatever it was it was clearly important. So important, she thought, that it couldn't be described in clear terms.

Tree was a simple clue. She should find a tree, but there were many trees. There were trees outside and trees in the cavern and even a few trees inside the enclave. Was she to find a specific tree or a specific type of tree or just anything that could be considered a tree? Should she cut it, climb it, search it for a dead drop of some kind?

Or perhaps she thought tree was a reference to an elf? She had to find an elf? Catch an elf? Kill an elf? That didn't make sense. Maybe there really was a Dumplin Lakwewanders who was some kind of warrior or professional elf assassin?

Or maybe tree was a verb? She had to tree someone? Something? She could find an elf and chase it up a tree! But that would be difficult, she thought. She wasn't particularly scary so there was always a chance that the elf wouldn't be afraid enough to run at all much less climb. Then again there was no reason to be so stuck on elves. Traditionally one trees raccoons, was she being assigned to a secret raccoon catching mission? To find a new source of pelts and affordable meat? If any old hauler could catch a raccoon without any tools or hounds then the fortress would have all the hides and meat it could use! The Hunters guild wouldn't like that, they would be less important to the fortress and might loose their rooms. They may try to kill her! She considered stuffing wooden planks into her clothes as a sort of makeshift armor.

But then, she thought, what is Cwiver? C is a homophone for Sea of course so she was to find the nearest ocean. That would explain why she was chosen, the ocean was many miles south and  in between were hills and mountains and dense forests.  Her brief but intense experience with the grand staircase made her an excellent candidate for a long journey. But what was a wiver?

Wiver, she concluded was how a young child would say river. So she had to find a river, a saltwater river and she had to bring a baby to it. But what about the Tree? Of course! She thought happily she had to cut down a tree and catch the raccoon that fell out and find a young child and then take him to where a river met the ocean and put him on the log and send him across like a tiny sailor with a raccoon first mateand that would accomplish... No that probably wasn't it at all. The note was, as far as she could tell complete gibberish. Luckily however she knew someone who spoke gibberish.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 02:16:31 pm by Broseph Stalin »
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