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Author Topic: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.  (Read 580085 times)

jrrocks05

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #570 on: April 09, 2014, 07:32:50 pm »

Damn straight
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We fear not to walk in the valley of death for we are the baddest most vicious unforgiving motherf---en dwarves in this valley

danmanthedog

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #571 on: April 09, 2014, 09:02:29 pm »

Indeed so my good folks he has.
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Gnorm

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #572 on: April 09, 2014, 09:03:42 pm »

Yeah, I'm going to be purposefully killing off people's characters in my turn again.
Just sayin'
That's my job!
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And we were this close to yet another victim of Gnorm, the Overseer Killer.

4maskwolf

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #573 on: April 09, 2014, 09:17:32 pm »

If you kill me olimpyan assassins will be after you.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Nice selfie there, MDF.

jrrocks05

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #574 on: April 09, 2014, 09:30:28 pm »

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh BURN. ( loud voice in background " how shall MDF respond we see next after this commercial)
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We fear not to walk in the valley of death for we are the baddest most vicious unforgiving motherf---en dwarves in this valley

MDFification

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #575 on: April 09, 2014, 09:31:48 pm »

Yeah, I'm going to be purposefully killing off people's characters in my turn again.
Just sayin'
That's my job!

They took our jerbs


Also @4mask thnks gurl
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Sarrak

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #576 on: April 10, 2014, 02:34:56 am »

Yeah, I'm going to be purposefully killing off people's characters in my turn again.
Just sayin'
That's my job!
Completely agree. Leave our characters to die at Gnorm hands. He is now late in Overseer queue, isn't he?
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Science is always important. But it needs more flaming cats. Can't we build bridge-based catapults and fling flaming cats at the dust and goo?

It's time for the ATHATH Death Counter to increase once more in celebration for the end of the world.

MDFification

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #577 on: April 10, 2014, 03:23:16 pm »

Yeah, I'm going to be purposefully killing off people's characters in my turn again.
Just sayin'
That's my job!
Completely agree. Leave our characters to die at Gnorm hands. He is now late in Overseer queue, isn't he?

Idk if he signed up for another turn.
Still, ain't nobody kill ex-overseers like Gnorm.
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Rhaken

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #578 on: April 10, 2014, 08:50:00 pm »

Deep in the bowels of Demongate, behind locked doors, was a chamber hewn from rough stone, its walls and floors untouched by the hands of engravers. Silver manacles lined the far wall, embedded in the rock. Various odd mechanical devices littered the chamber, surrounding a single sharpened wooden spike. A rack of small weapons stood in the corner, blades glinting at prisoners with hunger.

Pinned by a set of manacles was a dwarf. Or at least, a creature that had once been a dwarf. A vile curse of thirst had led him to crave the blood of his kin, and his eagerness to quench that thirst had led to his imprisonment. If only the blasted scribe hadn't woken. A few more minutes, and he would have been dead and drained, and nobody would have noticed.

The sound of a key turning within a lock, and the door swung inward. Two dwarves stepped into the chamber, one robed, the other clad in bismuth bronze armor from head to toe. They carried a desk between them, set it down by the corner with the weapon rack. They rounded on the vampire, glaring daggers of ice into his flesh.


"Hello, Dodok," Tarmid said to the vampire. "Though I suspect that's not your true name. Sir Brenzen and I would like to have a chat with you."

"I think I'll pass. I make it a point not to talk with my food."

"A funny one, I see!" The scribe feigned amusement. "You and I are going to get along just great. Don't you think, Sir Brenzen?"

The knight gave a stiff nod, arms folded across his chest. Tarmid pulled a thick tome from a satchel, as well as a quill and inkwell, and set them down on the desk. He dipped the nib in the dark ink, perched to write.

"Name?"

"Dodok Blowinggold."

"Real name?"

No reply.

"Oh well. You'll tell me, in time. Now, some tests are in order."

Tarmid moved to the weapon rack, procured a knife with a small, leaf-shaped blade, a mallet, and a handful of silver nails. Sir Brenzen yanked a chain beside the manacles, and Dodok's restraints began to lose slack. He found himself pinned against the wall by the wrists and ankles, incapable of moving, arms and legs pulled away from his torso. The scribe approached, knife held in one grim hand.

"Commencing initial test procedure to ascertain nature of subject," Tarmid droned, monotone and professional, as he tore the vampire's shirt.

He plunged the surgical knife into Dodok's chest, just above the sternum. Then he began to cut.

Cries of agony filled the chamber. They continued for half an hour.

When Tarmid was finished, they could clearly see the contents of Dodok's ribcage. The skin of the vampire's chest had been peeled back, then nailed to his sides to keep it in place. The already pallid Dodok was now drained of all color, too shocked and scared to even manage a scream. Sir Brenzen just stood by the entire time, stone-faced, arms crossed, keeping an eagle's eye on the proceedings.


"Internal organ coloration: normal. Organ activity: partial. Skin regeneration: none. Regeneration scarring: absent. Conclusion: vampire." Tarmid poked about inside Dodok as he spoke, causing the vampire no small amount of discomfort, before moving to the desk to record his findings.

"Well, Dodok, I have some good news, and some bad news," Tarmid said as he scribbled away. "The good news is, you're not one of the Kin, so we've no reason to kill you. Yet." The vampire shivered. "The bad news is, you still haven't told us much about yourself. And I would very much like to know your history. Surely you've centuries of fascinating tales to share, no?"

"M-my lips are sealed," Dodok stammered.

"A shame. I so despise cleaning these machines up."

Three hours went by in that chamber, though to Dodok they must have felt like three centuries. Tarmid had the courtesy to sew his skin back onto his chest, and the pinprick of the needle criss-crossing his flesh was almost like a balm after the horrors he'd endured. But in the end, the vampire had given them nothing.

Outside the chamber, Tarmid handed Brenzen the key.


"Close that up for me, would you?"

Sir Brenzen nodded, turned to lock the door. The retching started before he could even pull the key back out.

Tarmid stood bent over near the mudstone wall, spewing sickening grunts and getting unhappily reacquainted with the contents of his stomach. Brenzen approached the scribe, waited in uncomfortable silence for him to finish.


"How do you keep this from happening?" Tarmid daubed at his lips with a cloth.

"The battlefield eventually renders you numb to the horrors," Brenzen replied heavily.

"Torture chambers don't, it seems." Tarmid groaned, spat a wad of bile into the filth. This was his seventh one, and it still got to him every time.

"I'll be heading back to the barracks. How long do we let him heal?"

"No more than a day. Even a regular vampire recovers fast enough to subject him to these things on a daily basis."

"Very well. Where will I find you?"

"Wherever Brother Cornelius will be."



The backroom of Demongate's hospital didn't see a lot of visitors. For the most part, it was where Brother Cornelius kept his supplies, as well as a spare bed to sleep in, a table and a few chairs. Coffers of supplies lined the back wall, filled with soap, cloth, sutures and plaster.

And, of course, a whole lot of spare hooch. This was the room where Vladamir and Cornelius had their drinking nights. Every few days, the two would meet up in here, break out some bottles and drink themselves under the table.

They were swilling rum and exchanging anecdotes when Vlad looked up from his table to find an interesting surprise.


"Tarmid! Left behind cavern of books in favor of entertainment, yes?"

"You could say that." the scribe offered. "I've come to get my prescription filled."

Brother Cornelius gave him a questioning stare. "Prescription?"

"Yes. A stiff drink."



They had arrived in the early hours of the day. A small train of migrants, fresh from the mountainhomes, though weary from the long road. Tarmid stood inside the gatehouse, paper and quill in hand, ready to take their names. Among them was a a farmer named Jim the Fifth, whom Tarmid directed to Gnora for work. Another among them, Rith Brandedpaddle, saluted as he approached. He produced a sergeant's badge, claiming experience with marksdwarf squads. Tarmid directed him to Sir Brenzen and Vlad to get acquainted with the military. As he mentioned Sir Brenzen, another migrant piped up.

"Sir Brenzen is around?"

"Yes." Tarmid eyed the newcomer. "Why do you ask?"

The migrant and another dwarf next to her went down on one knee, bowed their heads.

"We are Squires of the Order, sent here to aid Sir Brenzen on his sacred mission."

Tarmid raised an eyebrow. After all this time? And only two? This was not going according to protocol. Typically, the Order would send at least four Squires and one Knight. He would have to talk to these two later. Or Sir Brenzen would.

Once the migrants were dealt with, Tarmid turned to head back to his office to catch up on some research. On the way back, he was approached by Thane, cradling her hammer, Ob Kat, as if carrying a child. She looked apprehensive, and Tarmid noticed that a handful of dwarves were right behind her, following her.


"Tarmid, can we talk? It's important," Thane said, nervously licking her lips.

"Of course, Thane. What is it?"

Thane seemed to shrink a couple before him as she mustered the will to speak. "Well, I've been thinking. Vlad's squad is good, but there aren't many of them, right? And Sir Brenzen is still mostly alone. So, I was thinking..." She trailed off.

"You were thinking...?"

"I was thinking if I could start a militia squad," she blurted. "We could do our civilian jobs and train for a while after work. I spoke to some of the workers and they wanted in too."

Tarmid scratched his chin. "I'm not sure this is a good idea. You aren't trained soldiers. If there is an engagement, will you follow Sir Brenzen's orders, even if it means staying back and not fighting?"

"Well, it's not like we'd have a choice, right?" Thane smiled. "We could be backup for the main force, or something. Please?"

Tarmid gazed at Thane and her followers. He didn't much like the idea of putting civilians in danger. But maybe this wasn't such a bad idea. None had volunteered to join the Vultures in recent months, and Sir Brenzen was still practically alone. Demongate's forces were outnumbered in all but the smallest of goblin ambushes.

"Tell you what," the scribe said, after a fashion. "I'll allow this, on the condition that you stay out of real combat unless ordered by the higher-ups. If any of you shows disobedience, I'm giving Sir Brenzen and Vlad the authority to disband the squad. No ifs, ands or buts. Is that clear?"

Thane and her entourage - her squad, soon enough - nodded their understanding. They seemed quite serious about all this. Perhaps they didn't believe in the Bloodkin. Bravery and ignorance sometimes work hand in hand, he reflected.

"So, captain Thane. Do you have a name for your new squad?"

"Well..."

Spoiler (click to show/hide)



Spring marched on, preparing to give way for summer's reign. Late in the month of Felsite, when the days were growing ever warmer, a hunter spotted a group of elven traders. The news was relayed to Tarmid, who sent Fractal to do some trading. While the oddball dwarf negotiated with the merchants, Tarmid went to see Vlad.

"Ah, there is Vlad's new drinkingk buddy! Vhat brings you to barracks?"

"I've come to tell you to keep your Vultures on alert," Tarmid said, sounding a bit more like a commander than he intended. "You know how these things go. The elves were probably followed by a couple dozen goblin armies."

"No vorries," said Vlad. "Vlad's Vultures are on it. Ve haven't seen a good fight in long vhile. Growingk more and more bored every day, yes? Boys have begun to play cards to pass time. Not always good sign."

"Very well. Once we're sure it's safe, I'll call you to help oversee the construction of the defenses."

"Until then, Tarmid. See you at 'evening prayers', yes?"

"You probably will." Tarmid smirked, and walked back out of the barracks. He still had a vampire to break, and that meant more nights of getting his drink on. Alcohol-induced sleep kept the nightmares away. And every time he went to another interrogation session, he could feel more than see Joyce, at the corner of his vision, giving him questing looks. That dwarf gave him the shivers. And he still hadn't found mention of the name.

He was not yet inside the fortress when the shouts of alarm came. A hunter came barreling through the barracks and into the fort, shouting about goblins. A group of them had arrived from the east, probably on the trail of the elven caravan.

Tarmid ran back into the barracks, where Vlad was busy shouting at his squad to form up. Sir Brenzen knelt in the corner, uttering a quick prayer before battle. The barracks bustled with activity as soldiers scrambled for their weapons, leaving a card game half-finished. The scribe moved to pull a lever, sealing the entryway long enough to give the soldiers time to prepare.

A shout of agony from beyond the perimeter wall, following by cursing in the foul tongue of goblins. Then more shouts. Tarmid, even in his limited understanding of their language, could make out a call to retreat. A dwarf came down from the marksdwarf tower, crossbow still in his arms.


"That was nothing like shooting horses," the marksdwarf said. Tarmid turned to Vlad, who had heard the shouting, and smiled. Vlad grinned right back.

"I knew this was a good idea."

"Of course," Vlad replied. "Vas Vlad's idea."

Spoiler (click to show/hide)



The scribe stood outside Demongate's walls, a heap of blueprints in hand, directing miners and masons hither and thither. Their picks dug into the hillside, sweat pouring down their shirts from the heat of early summer. They were turning the western side of the hill into a smooth wall that no goblin could climb. At the edge of the miners' work area were masons, piling stone upon stone, erecting a wall on either end of the hill.

"That should keep us out of the way of enemy fire," Tarmid said. Vlad, Sir Brenzen and Rith stood with him around a table, a map splayed on its surface and held in place by stones on its corners. The mercenary and the knight glowered at each other every once in a while, but otherwise did not let their mutual dislike get in the way of their jobs.

"So," said the scribe. "The hill is soon to be secure. That's one problem. We still need to expand the entrance defenses. I've heard your various ideas before, but now I need the lot of you to come to an agreement. I know Sir Brenzen knows plenty about military doctrine, but we of the Order are more used to attacking than defending. That's where you two come in. Vlad, Rith, you've seen conflict from both inside and outside a set of walls. I need your input on quick defense systems."

Over the next three hours, the group debated back and forth, arguing various points. Many of their ideas were good, but not all were practical. Sir Brenzen even suggested an old defensive system based on mechanical retracting archways, one attributed to Saint Rhaken, but they concluded it was too complex to build on short notice. In the end, the scribe and commanders settled on a short trench system lined with traps and within crossbow-shot of the sniper tower.

The meeting adjourned, Tarmid walked inside with Sir Brenzen, brow in a deep furrow, one hand stroking his beard.


"Something on your mind, Tarmid?" The knight sounded concerned.

"Just one thing. Why do they say it was attributed to Saint Rhaken? We know he was a brilliant commander in life, but how do we know about the bridges? They aren't in the holy books, and the military manuals don't give decent references. Something about a letter?"

"I brought my copy to Demongate with me. I can lend it to you, if you wish."

"That would be lovely, thank you."

Once in the barracks, Sir Brenzen made his way to his squires. Tarmid was about to leave, but turned his head to the knight once more before he went.

"One more thing. Any sign of the book?"

"Not yet," Brenzen replied. "Though there are still places I haven't looked."

Tarmid scouled. That book had been gone for far too long, yet none of the dwarves had manifested signs of dark power. Perhaps if he had a wood opal, he could go somewhere with the investigation.

He returned to his office, opened another volume on Steelhold. He knew the name Joyce was in there, somewhere. He just had to look for it.




Construction of the schoolhouse was proceeding ahead of schedule. The dwarves had expanded the workshop area and built two additional mason's shops, where new furniture was hewn from stone. Desks, chairs, and dozens of cabinets, piling up near the walls of the workshop floor, waiting to be set into place. Tarmid would have felt a sense of pride, if he wasn't busy finishing the blueprints for Demongate's defenses. As soon as those were ready, the miners and masons would be going to the surface to secure the fortress's entrance.

He worked inside the sniper tower, where he could keep the entrance in sight. He had commissioned several sets of serrated glass disks for the traps, as well as some cages. Vlad questioned the wisdom of capturing goblins alive. Tarmid hadn't the heart to tell them that the cages weren't meant for goblins. Maybe Vlad didn't believe the Bloodkin threat either. If they were lucky, he never would.

An earth-shattering roar broke his concentration. Tarmid set his eyes to the east, where the sound had come from. Through the glare of the midday sun, he could make out a silhouette, far away, yet still within the fortress's territory. It took him a moment to identify the creature, but when he did, all color drained from his face.


"Oh, fuck."

Tarmid sounded the alarm.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 08:56:05 pm by Rhaken »
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Of course, he may have simply crushed the forgotten beasts with his massive testicles.

Forget a spouse, he needs a full time gonad wrangler.

jrrocks05

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #579 on: April 10, 2014, 09:01:49 pm »

Hey is Thanatos a swordsdwarf in the military yet? Also can you simulate that conversation I wanted please.
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Rhaken

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #580 on: April 10, 2014, 09:09:29 pm »

Hey is Thanatos a swordsdwarf in the military yet? Also can you simulate that conversation I wanted please.

Yep, he's in Vlad's squad. Already was when my turn started, I think.

That conversation will happen, though not yet. Once the schoolhouse is a bit further along in construction and Tarmid starts asking around for students, then sure.
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Of course, he may have simply crushed the forgotten beasts with his massive testicles.

Forget a spouse, he needs a full time gonad wrangler.

4maskwolf

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #581 on: April 10, 2014, 09:15:44 pm »

Brenzen knocked on the door with a heavy, gauntleted hand.  When there came no response, he knocked harder, a reverberating echo filling the hallway.  When still no response came, he turned the doorknob, throwing it open to see the empty room, filled with cobwebs and dust.  His eyes scanned the room briefly, settling on the old oaken dresser in the far corner of the room.  Striding across to it, he flung open the drawers one by one, emptying their contents onto the floor of his room.  In the bottom drawer, he found what he found what he had most feared.  The book, hidden beneath layers of clothing.  Next to it was another book, a diary, written by Onul herself.  He took out the diary are perused its first few entries, his eyes growing wider behind his helmet as he read.  He slammed the diary shut and went to find Tarmid.

((The diary is discussing her findings as to how magic can be channeled through any powerful entity, not necessarily demons, and that power can be channeled through entities that are usually hostile to magic.  Whether Tarmid believes it is up to you, Brenzen sure as hell doesn't.  It also contains her experiences channeling the holy power of Armok))

((Also, I'd like to request that intentional killings of a players character be done only with the EXPRESS permission of that player, since much of the time in the last game it seemed like characters were killed off randomly and without asking the owner of the character.  I think that since we each created our characters, it should be our decision whether they are allowed to be killed off intentionally.  Of course, if your character dies in a fluke (such as Brenzen getting killed on the line of duty) that's another matter))

jrrocks05

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #582 on: April 10, 2014, 09:40:28 pm »

Ok thanks!
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MDFification

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #583 on: April 10, 2014, 09:56:18 pm »

((Also, I'd like to request that intentional killings of a players character be done only with the EXPRESS permission of that player, since much of the time in the last game it seemed like characters were killed off randomly and without asking the owner of the character.  I think that since we each created our characters, it should be our decision whether they are allowed to be killed off intentionally.  Of course, if your character dies in a fluke (such as Brenzen getting killed on the line of duty) that's another matter))

But... but random overseer murder is amongst the  finest traditions of Steelhold  :-\

Yeah, I felt bad about killing Fractal last time. Not actually going to do it on purpose.
EDIT: I'm going to try a new update style. If it's worse than just writing journals, please let me know. And yes, welcome to link hell 4mask.




Vlad wasn't sure how he felt about Tarmid forming her own squad. On the one hand, more troops was good. On the other hand, Thane being in danger was bad. On the one hand, Thane would be happy to have a chance to prove herself. On the other hand, Brenzen continued to act as though Vlad was just another name on a growing list of subordinates, despite effectively running the forts defenses for about a year with little interference or assistance before Tarmid showed some brains and actually listened to his advice.
Tarmid was actually not bad as an overseer. For starters, he let the actual veterans (in Vlad's head, only him; it was hard to remember Brenzen was a soldier too. What kind of soldier doesn't swear? Disgusting) manage the fortresses defenses. Not to mention that scribe could hold his liquor.

Vlad was rudely interrupted by the sound of the alarm. Four soundings. One simply meant readiness. Add another three on... Vlad grinned mirthlessly to himself. A surface incursion. Brilliant. At least it wasn't by a significant force - just some large beast to kill. Although those could turn dangerous real quickly. Vlad repressed bad memories of the first time he rode with the company. Bigger isn't better. Bigger is worse. Much, much worse. Thankfully, you only have to kill one. The Vultures could do that.
Looking around the barracks, Vlad noted (not for the first time) that Brenzen wasn't at his post. This can be good or bad. On the plus side, no Brenzen. On the other hand, Vlad did find himself missing Brenzen's habit of smashing skulls that, when all's said and done, needed a good smashing. It would fall to him to lead the response, then.


'Alright Vultures. You have been hearingk of alarm, yes? You vill know the drill by now, yes? Assemble by the gate. There vill be no lootingks of corpse, so you can drop the backpacks. No, I am not goingk to take all the boots for myself. There are no boots today. You might get souvenir though if you're creative. Yes, Thanatos?'
'Is it the 'Kin?'
'Shut up, Thanatos. Is not the 'Kin. Learn the alarm system already. Also, someone should be varningk archers, yes? Vlad likes it vhen I get supportingk fire. Vho vants to volunteer? Yes, you. You are the first volunteer. You have been voluntold.'
'You going to wait up for me, captain?'
'Let me think... how long do you think it vill be takingk for Brenzen to get back up here and take command?'
'I'll be seeing you later then, sir.'
Bugger off and tell archers Vlad vill take their heads if they don't start crammingk themselves into the tower. I vant to do this quick and dirty, like vhen your fathers conceived you. And before the rookies try to rush it. If sniggeringk does not stop, Vlad vill be cuttingk someone. Ready? Good. Lets be doingk this!'

Vlad fingered his axe. It wasn't a good day to die. Better not do it, then. Thane would probably be mad.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 11:28:24 pm by MDFification »
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Rhaken

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Re: Demongate: Battling Blood
« Reply #584 on: April 11, 2014, 12:03:33 am »

Vlad's Vultures scrambled. Rith's marksdwarves ran up the tower, crossbows already loaded. Brenzen and his squires arrived moments later. A hydra was coming toward the gates. Within minutes, it would be charging in through the traps. They all hoped the glass disks would do it some harm, or maybe even chop off a head. Not that one head would make much of a difference.

The Vultures were in formation, shields forward, weapons out. Vlad barked orders for them to hold up until his signal. They held the line for what felt like an eternity of silence. A silence that Thane broke.


"Let us help you, Vlad," she said, a slight quavering in her voice. "We can this together."

"Not a chance, Thane," he replied, anger filtering through his captain voice. "You and your squad are still green. Is too risky. Let Vlad handle this."

"Vlad, please." She sounded desperate. "We can help. Won't it be safer if we lend a hand?"

"No it von't," Vlad growled. "You vill just be puttingk yourself at risk, and putingk us at risk to protect you. Ve vill handle this."

"Vlad..."

"Is an order, Thane."

"Please don't do this..."

"I have to!" He was shouting. "Vhat if you falter? Vhat if you get yourself killed? Vhat then? This isn't some fairy tale vhere dwarfs go marchingk to glorious battle and emerge victorious and unharmed!"

Thane seemed taken aback, but held her ground. "I know that. But if not now, when? I signed up for this because I was willing to risk my life for Demongate. And sooner or later, I'm going to have to fight. I think that's why I ended up making this hammer."

Her eyes welled up, though did not yet overflow. "Besides," she continued, "I don't want you to die either..."

His lover's display of emotion stirred something inside Vlad. He knew he shouldn't let her squad fight so early into their training. But what if she was right? Even he had never faced a hydra, but he'd heard the other mercenaries tell stories. Beasts with seven heads, mouths big enough to swallow a dwarf whole. Scales like iron, claws like swords, a body large enough to house an elephant. And they wouldn't die from just one destroyed head.

He gave the issue some thought. When he spoke, his voice had an edge to it to match his own axe.


"You stay behind us. Guard doors to fortress. You do not engage unless I give order, or unless hydra tries to get in. No heroics. No disobedience. That is order. Understand?"

"I understand," Thane said, frightened and relieved in equal measure. "Thank you."

She gave her squad their own orders, though she wasn't nearly as convincing as a more seasoned commander like Vlad. They formed a rough line behind her lover's squad.

Vlad turned to Thane's squad, scowling, holding his axe in a white-knuckled grip. "If any of you are lettingk my Thane come to harm," he snarled, "I vill be cuttingk you."

Sir Brenzen approached the Labors, squires in tow. He saluted, signaled to clear some space, and formed up in their midst, on Thane's right, providing her with cover on his shield side. He gave Thane a hard nod, and she nodded back.

"I will protect them. My squires will provide support on the front."

Vlad eyed the knight with suspicion. "If she is hurt," he said, "I vill be cuttingk you."

"Then I will ensure she isn't hurt," the knight replied, filled with resolve. His squires joined the Vultures in formation. Squire Imush eyed her axe, which had been brandished by the brave Olin before her death. An intentional gesture on Brenzen's part, to ensure the squires did not forget their responsibilities. The time had come to put their training to use.

The massive beast came into view, a rhythmic pounding of feet preceding it. Several bolts protruded from its hide, courtesy of Rith's squad in the tower. The hydra didn't seem to mind.


"Steady..." Vlad's voice boomed. The hydra approached the entrance.

"Steady..."

A massive, scaled foot stepped on a trap. The bladed disk lashed out, but did nothing beyond scratching the scale. The beast lumbered on, into the barracks.

"Steady..."

It roared with all seven heads, charged toward the Vultures, fangs bared.

"Shields!"

Sword-like teeth crashed into shields, sending the entire squad back by one pace. Weapons lashed out, most of them missing, or merely denting armor-like scales. The heads pulled back, charged in again. Some missed, others were blocked. A thrust from a spear went through an eye. Vlad's axe bit flesh just above the jawline, drawing icy blood. The head twitched, and the seven pulled away, giving the soldiers time to form up properly again.

The creature tried a new approach. Rather than lunge with its heads, it barreled into the squad, sending them sprawling in all directions. More bolts rained down from the tower, piercing the gargantuan torso, but the hydra did not seem to acknowledge the pain. Instead, it charged on, and lashed its heads toward Thane's squad.

They raised their shields to meet the blow, but some did not brace themselves properly and were flung from their feet on impact. Thane fell back a step and stumbled to her haunches, her shield rimmed in sharp teeth. Sir Brenzen took the opportunity to ram his pick into the top of the barrel-thick neck, severing bone, turning the head limp. The seven necks whipped back, and it took all of Thane's strength to keep the pull from ripping the shield from her grasp.

Chaos erupted in the cramped room. Heads and paws lashed out in every direction, keeping the squads from regrouping. Vlad dodged a foot with claws the size of his head, then ran toward the hydra's shoulder. He buried the axe deep into the joint, felt it bite bone. He pulled his weapon back, covered up. His squad was slowly surrounding the beast on all sides. Reptilian heads thrust in every direction, the limp one being swung like a massive club. One of the heads pulled back in a spray of blood, the rim of a boot caught between its teeth, half a shin bone protruding from within. Another ripped forward in the same direction. Vlad didn't bother seeing where it went. A distant portion of his mind hoped it wasn't going for Thane.

The Vultures circled the hydra, hacking at its limbs, driving it back step by step. They turned toward the monster's back, turning it away from the recruits and toward the weapon traps. They fell back as they struck, luring the creature outside, into better view of the marksdwarves. It followed them without hesitation, the combined mental prowess of its heads incapable of understanding it was being baited.

It stepped on the traps again. A disk ground into its underbelly, drawing blood. The hydra didn't care. It followed the Vultures into the open air. A volley from the tower put new holes in two of the necks.

Vlad's axe sank into a knee joint, got stuck amid the sinews. Vlad wedged it free with a grunt. Something bumped into his back. He turned to see one of Brenzen's squires, shield raised to block a gigantic mouth. A mouth that would have torn Vlad to shreds if not for the squire. He nodded his thanks, swung his axe into the the creature's brow. Cold blood sprayed into his face and helm.

Thane's squad assembled near the trap line. Thane was trembling, but had enough presence of mind to do a headcount. They were one dwarf short. She would let that sink in later. She looked ahead in time to see one of Vlad's soldiers bury his sword almost to the hilt in the hydra's chest. He tried pulling it back, but a gigantic head zoomed downward before he could pry it free. Teeth sank into the soldier's shoulder, bringing forth a cry of agony. The scaled neck made an outward whipping motion. The arm followed, but the body did not. The soldier's sword went with it, flying through the air, coming to land near the severed arm.


Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The hydra advanced on Thane's squad again, and the Vultures followed. Another volley of crossbow bolts, this one taking an eye. Heads lunged and the squad pulled back, giving the Vultures time to swing their weapons into outstretched necks and massive heads. Thane saw an opening and swung Ob Kat with all her strength, nailing the side of a head. The entire thing crumpled inward at the point of impact with a sickening crunch.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The monster was slowing its assault now, fazed by severe blood loss and multiple shattered skulls. Vlad's  Vultures carved holes into the scaled torso whenever the opportunity presented itself, and more than one soldier was covered in frigid hydra blood. Thane's shield arm was numb from repeated impacts, weapon arm throbbing at the elbow. Fragments of bone decorated Ob Kat's head. Beside her, Brenzen looked perfectly fresh, though she felt certain that he was feeling worse than she was. He had taken and given many more blows.

A shattered head lunged for her, mouth half-agape, crooked from a blow that had wrecked the jawline. She raised her shield, felt the impact climb up her shoulder to rattle her ribcage. On her right side, she saw Brenzen swing his pick, burying it through the snout, the tip appearing through the roof of the mouth. On the other side, she saw an axe swing downward toward the neck, just behind the head.


Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The hydra faltered. Its attacks became sluggish, fewer and far between. Sensing this, the Vultures rounded on what was now their prey, weapons descending on all sides. They split scales, tore flesh, carved into organs and bones. They struck repeatedly, with all their fury, for what felt like hours, until the monster finally stopped squirming.

It was over.

Thane fell to her knees, all color drained from her face. She had never felt so tired, so sore. Every joint ached and throbbed. She could feel her heartbeat in her throat, felt it pound against her eardrums. Vlad approached her, axe and shield securely put away, his arms bloodied up to the elbow. He embraced his lover, stroked her back while he waited for her to regain her composure. All around them, soldiers were regaining their bearings, their heads clearing up after the fight, adrenaline fading away to be replaced by trepidation and exhaustion.

Thane rose to her feet with Vlad's help. They walked back toward the barracks, his arm around her shoulders. On the way in, they saw the body.

Thane pitched forward and threw up.

It was Catten from her squad. Both her legs had been torn off below the shin. The skin of her belly had been ripped away, along with most of her sternum. Broken ribs protruded at odd angles, exposing the lungs and heart to the sunlight. Her intestines were heaped upon the floor in a pool of her blood, coiled like a slender snake, or a long earthworm. Rith knelt over her, sobbing, cradling her head in his lap and babbling to himself.

Thane retched. Her eyes welled up, but she refused to cry. She was too shocked to cry. This dwarf had died because of her command. Her insistence to be a part of the fight. Now she was without a soldier, and Rith without a wife. Thane couldn't take the blow. She fell to her knees again, hugging herself, Ob Kat tumbling to the ground beside her erstwhile lunch. Vlad held her again, unsure of what to say.

Tarmid descended the steps from the tower. He took in the scene before him, gulped to hold down his vomit. He stopped by Vlad, and both dwarves nodded to each other. What use were words at a time like this? The scribe nodded once more, then walked outside to survey the hydra's corpse. He was determined to hold on to his stomach and do his part to carry the wounded Vulture inside.

It was only later that Vlad realized that Tarmid had been cradling a crossbow.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 12:45:25 am by Rhaken »
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Of course, he may have simply crushed the forgotten beasts with his massive testicles.

Forget a spouse, he needs a full time gonad wrangler.
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