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Author Topic: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.  (Read 569964 times)

FallenAngel

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2565 on: March 05, 2015, 06:04:50 pm »

Alright.
Consider my plan the last emergency whatever for the story, in case everything else we have planned collapses in on itself.

Rhaken

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2566 on: March 05, 2015, 08:15:03 pm »

I've put the thing on the back burner for the past few weeks to let it stew. Assuming nobody bothers me over the weekend, I promise I will pick it up. Don't expect excerpts of the ending yet, but at least the whole flashback to Clearstockades will be over and done with.

In other news, I do believe I've kind of managed to involve every named dwarf (that's still around, at least) in the ending. However, this does assume that I'm kind of given free reign over them. Hope that's fine with all of ye.
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Of course, he may have simply crushed the forgotten beasts with his massive testicles.

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TheFlame52

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2567 on: March 05, 2015, 08:17:06 pm »

That's great, man! Must have taken some serious story-wrangling to include everyone. I'm glad the ending is coming along well.

Rhaken

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2568 on: March 05, 2015, 08:25:00 pm »

That's great, man! Must have taken some serious story-wrangling to include everyone. I'm glad the ending is coming along well.

Only because I cast an absurdly wide net. Hopefully the stuff we've come up with will turn out sufficiently awesome that nobody will find any hanging plot threads. :D
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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.

FallenAngel

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2569 on: March 08, 2015, 12:41:47 pm »

I'm pretty sure a small epilogue will be good enough to tie up the loose plot threads.
On a related note, Gnorm wrote his own ending on the Steelhold Wiki, and it's... intriguing.

Deus Asmoth

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2570 on: March 08, 2015, 12:46:23 pm »

We have over a dozen characters and nearly the same number of dangling plot threads. A short ending world suffice, but it wouldn't necessarily be satisfactory.

Heh. I'll be honest, the start of Gnorm's ending was kind of funny. Can't help but get the feeling he's bitter about something though.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2015, 01:04:54 pm by Deus Asmoth »
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FallenAngel

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2571 on: March 08, 2015, 01:05:06 pm »

Well, Rhaken said that there might be a couple left over; an epilogue after the ending could wrap those up.

Rhaken

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2572 on: March 16, 2015, 12:41:42 am »

Dwarves in heavy armor poured into the shattered entryway, brandishing weapons and shouting for vengeance. They were greeted within the gatehouse by a raving mob of Bloodkin warriors, clad in poorly-shaped steel and vastly outnumbered by the besiegers. Not that it mattered much to them.

Hammers and axes rammed into shields, through armor and into flesh. The defenders roared in agony, but fought on, some with shattered ribcages or even severed limbs. Their assault was relentless, uncaring for discipline or defense. For each Bloodkin that fell, a handful of dwarves had to surrender their lives. There would be no breaking of the enemy, no disastrous loss of morale that would cause a surrender. Bloodkin fought to the bitter end.

Yet no amount of tenacity would save them. There were fewer than one hundred of the wretched monsters left in Clearstockades, and Monom's Host had thousands of dwarves still in fighting condition. By the time the sun began to sink on the seventh day, the halls were secured and the fortress was taken. Clearstockades was free of Bloodkin and finally in dwarven hands. It was only when the soldiers were bringing out the dead and assembling pyres that Doren was finally struck by the gravity of the situation. They had defeated less than one hundred Bloodkin that day, and lost over three hundred dwarven soldiers. If the enemy had a true army... she shuddered, brushed the thought away. They had won. No point in thinking of what might have been.

A messenger approached her. "My Queen," the dwarf said, kneeling, "We have searched the entire fortress. There is no sign of the enemy commander. We believe he may have fled into the caverns."

Doren fought back the urge to curse. "Assemble a squad and head into the tunnels. Nish Woodlabor must not escape!"

"It is already being done, my Queen."

Doren nodded and dismissed the messenger. She ground her teeth, barely believing that Nish had turned and fled. The last time that The First Iron had tried to retake Clearstockades, Nish had personally slain King Zon, thus ending the reign of the Vampire King and eventually bringing her to the throne. Doren wanted to thank the Bloodkin general personally. With her sword. Through his throat. Perhaps then the dwarves of The First Iron would finally be able to rest at night, without fear of a ravenous Bloodkin horde descending upon them as they slept.

She walked the granite halls of Clearstockades, a company of her personal guard in tow. Though definitely related to dwarves, the urban planning of the Bloodkin was far different to any dwarven mountain hall. The stockpiles contained no crafts, merely bin upon bin of leather clothing. The forges were near the main ore stocks, and powered by coal, not magma. Some were still warm and smoking. The workshop floor seemed long abandoned, and was densely populated by masons, carpenter's shops and leatherworks. Clearly, art had no place in Bloodkin society, such as it was.

She descended further, through smooth stone archways, into the living area. There were few private bedrooms. The inhabitants of Clearstockades seemed to have favored a common dormitory spread over six levels, containing hundreds upon hundreds of beds. The sheets and bedding were all leather, much like the leather found in the clothing stockpiles. Doren had a feeling she didn't want to know where all that leather came from.

The Queen and her entourage went further still into the bowels of the Bloodkin stronghold. Opening a tall door of plain lead, they came upon a massive chamber of rough-hewn stone. Countless rows of manacles lined the walls and floors. Some still held skeletal limbs. Dwarven limbs for the most part, but there were some larger bones among them. Probably human or elvish. The entire chamber reeked of blood and death and decay, the scents of a charnel house the size of a city district.

She took one tentative step into the chamber, and a vicious chill shot up her spine. An eerie breeze manifested from nowhere, tugging at her armor. Doren tried to rationalize it as a draft, but there was only one exit from the chamber, and she had just walked through it. The breeze grew stronger and stronger, turning into a freezing gale that tore the warmth from her bones. She tried to back out of the chamber, but her legs wouldn't obey.

Then came the voices.

Save me...

Get out.

No, no, not again!

Blood. So much blood...


Doren somehow mustered the will to speak, or at least stammer. "I-is someone - is someone there?"

Get out...

The wind rose, picking up a cloud of icy dust and throwing it in the dwarves' faces. Everywhere it touched, Doren felt like her skin was being torn off. She had to grope her face to confirm that she wasn't being flayed. She was idly aware of her guards shifting into a protective circle around her, hands on weapon hilts. She caught a glimpse of the face of one of them. He looked like he was going to have a heart attack.

No...

The voices in the wind grew louder. She became aware of vicious sobs and shrieks, interspersed by a heinous cackling. The Queen's heart hammered in her chest.

SAVE ME!

Doren all but sprinted out of the room. Her guards followed soon after. Later, she would have to check her breeches to ensure she hadn't soiled herself. But not now. She grabbed one of her guards by the lapels, trying to keep the panic from her voice and utterly failing.

"Get a Priest of Armok down here, quickly. And find Scribe Medtob." When he didn't answer, she shook him. "Now, damn you!"

The soldier whimpered what sounded like 'yes, my Queen' and ran off, practically tripping over his own feet. Doren shoved the leaden door closed. A last whisper of

Blood...

was the last thing she heard before the portal shut. Then she retched.

It suddenly struck Queen Doren that she knew where all that leather came from.



They ran through the tunnels beneath Clearstockades, over stone and soil and fungus, with barely a word between them, relying on Nish's keen sense of direction. They sought to gain as much distance from Clearstockades and possible, then head east, beneath the ocean and toward the Old World, the Oracular Plane. Perhaps there, Corley might extract some answers from his aunt. He wouldn't get a lot of answers from Shank. That lunatic would much rather give Corley half-truths and riddles than explain why in the hell he hadn't sent reinforcements across the ocean in over eighty years.

He and Nish had been on the run for over a day now. Hours past, they had come across a tribe of primitive bat-people. Their blood was foul, but beggars can't be choosers. It would help sustain them in the thousands of miles they had to cross.

They were in the narrow tunnels now, in transit from one major cavern system to the next. Corley heard a metallic snapping, somewhere close by. He turned to seek the source of the sound to find Nish on the floor, a steel bear trap locked around his ankle.

Footsteps, behind them. Blades rasping from scabbards. Nish had the presence of mind to shout "Run, my Lord!" before righting himself, tearing the trap off his leg in the process. It would heal soon enough.

Corley didn't think twice. He turned and ran through the tunnels, leaving Nish to his fate.

Around the General converged four dwarves, each clad in steel, each bearing a sword. Nish drew his sword and axe, intent on tearing the four bloodsacks apart, or at least buying time until Corley could escape.

There was no exchange of pleasantries, no greetings, no warcries. The dwarves descended upon him with the precise fury of the masterfully skilled. Nish bolted forward, aiming to catch one of them before they could converge. The dwarven warrior parried Nish's thrust with his own sword, deflected the axe with his shield. Nish barreled into him, sent him sprawling. He recovered his balance in time to see a thrust aimed at his chest. He deflected it with his axe, brought his sword up to cleave the dwarf's arm, connected with a shield.

Another sword rammed into him from behind, tore through his right lung and emerged in his chest. Fighting through the pain, Nish spun away, tearing the sword from its owner's grasp. His sword descended but clashed into a shield. Again he rammed into his target, bowling her aside. He ran for several strides, then turned to them again, his regenerative powers already pushing the sword out out his torso.

"Who are you?" He shouted. With a punctured lung, it sounded hushed.

"We are Armok's chosen warriors, Nish Woodlabor," the unarmed she-dwarf replied as the other three approached. "We have come to end your unnatural life, and that of your Father."

A sudden thought raged in Nish's mind. Had Thikut given them away to the enemy? How else could they know that the Father was here? That treasonous... no. There was no time for this now. He had four dwarves to butcher. Plenty of time to think about that later.

The wound in his chest sealed. The sword fell out his back, clanged to the stone floor. The three dwarves approached, while the fourth began circling to retrieve her blade. Nish strafed away from them, drew them in, waiting for the right moment. When the fourth crouched to pick up her sword, Nish struck. He ran through the group in front of him, bowling them over, impaling his gut along the way. He kept running toward the crouching dwarf, brought his weapons down to split her head. She turned and rolled away, and Nish connected with empty air.

The fourth had retrieved her blade. Nish turned to attack them, but found them in the process of disengaging, running toward the far tunnel. That meant only one thing. They were going after the Father.

Nish sprang forward, trying to cut one down on the way to intercept. The dwarf turned with preternatural speed, cutting him off with a shield. A sword almost followed, but Nish had already run past them. He stood at the narrow exit of the cave, blocking his assailants from moving further down the tunnel toward Corley.

They descended on him all at once. Nish did all he could, parrying, slashing, thrusting and hacking as openings came and went. He was getting nowhere fast. They were too agile with their shields. Their masterful armor turned aside what few blows he managed to land. And as the fight dragged on, Nish found himself unwillingly giving up ground, retreating inch by inch under their assault. To make matters worse, they were starting to get through his own movement patterns, occasionally scoring hits. His travel clothing lay in tatters about his body as the cuts came and went, wounds both shallow and deep healing within seconds. In the farthest corner of his mind, Nish wondered how long he would be able to keep up.

It was only a matter of time until it happened. While fielding a blow from one direction on his sword, a cut came in from the other side. It tore into his sword arm just above, slicing through his flesh. The arm fell to the floor, sword clattering upon the stone. He managed to duck the blow he was deflecting, and rather than take his head off, it cleaved his ear in twain along with the left half of his face. It began to close immediately.

Fighting through the pain, Nish took a wide step back and out of their range. The narrow tunnel he had been blocking opened into a wide cavern just a few feet behind him. Soon he would have to hold his ground, or risk having these four bloodbags reach the Father. He squared his stance to the best of his ability. Even if they tore him limb from limb, they wouldn't be able to kill him. They had no fire.

They charged him in tandem. Nish dodged a high cut, brought his axe up to deflect another. He could do nothing about the other two.

A blade took his left leg below the knee. Nish landed on the stump, felt his femur crack lengthwise within his thigh. The other blade thrust into his neck, tearing through his left jugular and carotid artery. Pressurized blood fountained into the air. Nish had the presence of mind to bat the sword aside and out of his flesh before it could do any further damage.

"You cannot kill me," Nish choked out as his neck sewed itself shut. "And you cannot kill Father. Your efforts are in vain."

A gauntleted fist rammed into his chin. Nish's jawbone turned to dust. Most of his teeth flew out of his mouth as he toppled over backwards. He looked up, and his eyes went wide. For the first time since his days as a mortal in the blood farms, Nish felt a chilling terror.

One of the dwarves conjured a flame in his hand.

He tried to say that it was impossible. All he managed was a choking mumble. The dwarf extended the hand in his direction. The flame roared as it grew to engulf him.

The dwarves ran past him as he rolled around, screaming and roaring in agony. His final thoughts were of the absurdity of it all. After all Thikut had done to eliminate dwarven thamaturgy, at least one seemed to remain. And that one had been responsible for his demise. He couldn't even decide if he could blame the treasonous whore for the whole mess.

Thus perished Nish Woodlabor, General of Second Bloodkin Army and advisor to the Father.



Corley ran through the tunnels as fast as his legs would carry him. He was never much of a warrior, but his powers were more than enough to take on groups of demons, nevermind a quartet of dwarves. He had sensed something odd about them, however. Something ancient and powerful and worst of all, sacred. He shuddered to think of their purpose here. They had set traps, clearly intent on capturing or killing him and Nish. How could they have known they would try to escape? Not even Nish's harlot could have known, as they had made the decision after her death. But those thoughts would have to wait. He needed to escape before they could get through Nish. The General was as fierce and as skilled a warrior as any other, but he had no guarantees that those four were any worse.

Hours went by. Corley ducked through dozens of narrow tunnels and through countless open cavern systems, heading in as straight a line as he could. Only his soldiers knew these caverns well enough to find their way with any kind of ease. Corley wasn't even sure he was heading due east anymore. Still, what choice did he have? He wasn't going to risk a fight with those four.

The sound of voices somewhere in the caverns ahead stopped Corley in his tracks. He took cover behind an ancient tower cap and focused his senses on the source of the disturbance.

He could sense dwarves in armor, arrayed in multiple ranks. Corley went deeper into concentration, tried to count the distinct number of heartbeats. There must have been a hundred of them, perhaps more. They stood with their backs straight, their pulses steady, waiting for something.

They were waiting for him, he realized. An entire company of Knights of Saint Zane awaited his passage in the caverns. But why there of all places? How could they know where he might pass? Either they could somehow track his movement through the world beneath the surface, or they knew the caverns better than he did. Perhaps this was a bottleneck where they could trap him, and Corley didn't exactly have the time to go off and investigate other tunnels only to find out that he was stuck with them.

Some camouflage was in order, he supposed. His skin began to shift to match the pattern of the towering fungus beside him. His clothing soon followed. He stood perfectly still, and ceased breathing. Bloodkin didn't need air to live anyway. They just kept breathing because it was automatic.

Time slowed to a crawl. The Knights held their formation, and Corley held his breath. He began to sense four beings approach from the tunnels behind him. They had gone through Nish, and now they came for him. He remained still as could be, waiting, harnessing the power to break them if need be. They entered the cavern with swords in their hands. They fanned out and began to search the area, not a word uttered between them. That filthy sense of divinity struck Corley again. Who were these dwarves?

They roamed the wide area, looking under shrubs and in the upper bows of spore caps and blood thorn trees. After several minutes, one of them passed by Corley's hiding spot. She felt around, looked up at the underside of the tower cap's head. At one point, her hand passed over Corley's shirt and across his chest. If the dwarf noticed his presence, she gave no sign of it. His magic had altered his very texture in order to blend in. The dwarf moved on from his hiding place after a moment.

Then she whipped back her sword. Corley felt his throat being torn open. His magic collapsed due to the break in his concentration, and then they were upon him.

Corley drew his own blade, lashed out his free hand to destroy the one that had struck him. He felt the pulse and crackle of energy, sensed its impact with dwarven flesh, but nothing happened. No crushed bones, no torn flesh, no ruptured blood vessels. Was his magic failing him?

He parried a blow to his midsection, tried to riposte. The other three blades rammed into him. Both of his lungs were skewered, along with his left kidney. Corley backed away until the swords left his body. He conjured power to fling them backwards and create distance. Rather than flying across the room, they staggered back a single step. Everything around them was flung about the area, so his powers weren't failing him. What was it with these dwarves?

"Who are you?" Corley demanded once his lungs were working.

They advanced on him instead of answering. Corley decided he was better off improving himself, rather than trying to harm them. He dashed backward to create more space. The dwarves followed, spreading out, aiming to take him from as many angles as they could. Corley wasn't going to make this easy for them. He made himself faster, hardened his flesh. They would get nothing from him if he could help it.

Their weapons bit into him, denting his skin and not much else. Corley tried to retaliate, but their shields intercepted his strikes. This went on for some time, with neither side putting a scratch on the other, until Corley decided to speak again.

"You will achieve nothing with this. Who are you?"

One of the warriors grinned. "Come on, Corley, I thought you would recognize us by now. Can't remember your old friends?"

"I make it a point not to speak to my food."

"Very droll, lad. Are you sure you don't remember?"

Wait, lad? Although he still looked the part of a young dwarf, Corley was by no means young. Nobody ever called him lad anymore. Except...

A maelstrom of disjointed thoughts and memories assailed Corley all at once. He knew now who these dwarves were. For in all the centuries, only one dwarf had ever called him 'lad' on a regular basis.

"I didn't think I would see you again in this life, old sod," Corley said. "Finally got tired of haunting a long-lost hole in the ground?"

No words came in reply. The dwarf chose to answer with steel instead. Corley held him off, only to be struck by two of the others. Their powerful blows could do no more than split his skin. He stepped back, giving himself space to assume a fighting stance before they were on him again.

The fight raged on, and Corley found himself beginning to tire. Even a thaumaturgist of his skill and experience could only hold a razor-sharp focus for so long before it backfired. His clothes lay in tatters about him, destroyed by the swords of the dwarves. He had to think of something, or they would overwhelm him soon. For once, time was not on Corley's side.

A metallic crash resonated throughout the caverns. It came from further in, where Corley had sensed the hundred dwarves some time earlier. He would have grinned if he wasn't otherwise preoccupied. The dwarves before him drove in again. He managed to evade three, only to clash swords with the fourth. He pulled back, swung his sword in an arc before him to create space. The dwarf intercepted with her shield, drove forward and rammed her own blade into his crotch. Though it caused but a shallow cut, the pain threatened to overwhelm Corley's mind and destroy his concentration. It took a momentous effort of will to hold on. Corley had enough presence of mind to formulate a plan. He hopped backward, out of range, letting his defensive spell drop, making it easier to think.

Then he turned and ran.

He could hear steel-clad feet clattering against the stone and trampling the fungal underbrush. The four were giving chase. He didn't exactly expect to shake them quite so easily, but if that crash meant what he thought it meant, it might be his best chance.

He sprinted through tunnels, toward the mass of beating hearts. Some were being snuffed out, vanishing from his augmented senses. Corley allowed himself a momentary grin.

He came upon them within minutes, the Four hot on his heels. A platoon of Knights of Saint Zane, clad head to toe in armor, fighting off a group of Bloodkin. Corley hadn't escaped alone, after all. The Knights in the front ranks swung blades and hammers and torches all around, while the ones at the back flung pots of oil, dousing comrades and Bloodkin alike. What else could they do in this situation? For each Kin that fell, three or more Knights relinquished their lives. Some of the Bloodkin were beginning to bite at the armored warriors, destroying their own teeth in order to feed and pass on the curse. The Knights who were bitten fought on, knowing their lives were forfeit.

Corley couldn't circumvent them from his point of entry. He tried to barrel through them instead. He charging body punched a hole through the ranks, but not without considerable effort and a great loss of speed. Enough for the Four to catch up. The Knights surrounding him brought blades down upon him, unable to pierce his defenses but sapping his concentration with each blow. He retaliated as he could, tried to run through them and toward the far exit.

A sword's tip erupted from his gut. He lost control of his legs, and his concentration failed him. Dozens of cuts and stabs savaged his body. Most of his wounds closed instantly, but not fast enough that he could escape. Corley was, at long last, fully trapped.

Even as the the blows came and the pain wracked him, he retreaded further into his mind. He called upon the deepest magicks he could imagine, using what power he had left to lock himself inside. It was all he could do. So when he stopped moving and his body was drenched in oil and put to the torch, he would not burn.

It took an hour for the Knights to slay the last of their attackers. Only seven remained, all of them cursed, puncture marks on their armor the only indication of their fall. To the eyes of Armok, they were forsaken, barred from the afterlife, but even that would not shake their faith. Even as the Four gathered around the body of the Father and prepared for its disposal, the cursed warriors went about their duty.

They set all the bodies to burning first. No Bloodkin would rise from this battleground. Once they were done cremating their comrades, they formed a tight circle. Each stripped of armor and smallclothes. They went about their final task with the grim determination of martyrs. They poured the remaining oil upon themselves, drenched themselves in it. One grabbed a torch, igniting himself in the process. She joined her comrades, setting them ablaze as well.

Not a single cry of pain or horror rose from them. Each took a knife in hand. They knelt, facing the center of their circle, each touching shoulder to shoulder with the next. As one, they plunged the short blades into their own throats.

No Bloodkin would rise from this battleground.



They labored for days within the depths of the earth. From the weapons of the fallen they fashioned tools of labor. They tore silver and copper from the cavern walls, smelted it in the blood of Armok himself. From the primordial stone they fashioned an anvil, as the First Dwarves had done in ages gone by. Their hammers sang upon the stone anvil for days upon days. Always one kept watch, striking down the Father before he could fully regain his strength.

It was done at long last. A sarcophagus of sterling silver, crude and unadorned. Within they deposited the Father, with blades through heart and brain and joints, such that he could not heal enough to regain the ability to move. The Four sealed the lid, sealing the Father within the metal.

For days they moved within the caverns, ever eastward, toward the sea. They came upon a cavern which opened upon the ocean at the base of a tall cliff. There they threw the sarcophagus into the waves, watched it drift away, carried on the arms of the god of the seas at Armok's bequest. It was only when the Father had vanished beneath the waves that the spirits of the Saints left the Four, and they were once again normal dwarves.



Early Autumn, 168

Urvad Gorgerock gazed across the shimmering expanse of the Adventurous Ocean from their meeting spot high on the cliff. Waves crashed and roiled at the bottom of the cliff face, slowly but surely tearing away at the stone. The cavern mouth far below swallowed the waters only to toss them back out with the flow of the tides. The sky was beginning to brighten at the horizon, preparing to greet the first rays of dawn. Just like that fateful day, ten years gone.

"Feeling nostalgic?"

It was Reg, her husband, walking up the overgrown path behind her. He draped a burly arm across her shoulders. Urvad put an arm around his waist and set her eyes seaward once more.

"I guess you could say that," she said, huddling close to him to ward off the chill. They passed several moments in silence, waiting and thinking of nothing in particular.

Unib Laborediron's walking stick broke the silence, its blunted tip crunching on deadfall underfoot as the ancient dwarf approached. She did not move toward them immediately, however. As ever before, she first walked to the upright pillar of granite that stood at the edge of the tree line, overlooking the cliff. She knelt before the tombstone, clearly wincing at the pain in her gnarled old joints as she did. Urvad and Reg held their gaze on her, patiently waiting for the old dwarf to finish paying her respects, accompanied only by the crash of the waves into the cliff below them.

Her prayers done, the elderly dwarf leaned on her walking stick and hauled herself to her feet. She held a hand against the rough stone, gentle, almost loving. It was a few more moments still before she walked in Urvad and Reg's direction. They welcomed her with smiles. She took her place beside them, staring out into the waves of an autumn dawn.

It was some time before Urvad broke the silence.

"Do you ever think that our work wasn't the end of it?"

"Sometimes, aye," Reg answered, eyes never deviating from the sea. "I mean, we tossed that thing into the waters, watched it sink. Kulet was sure that something that heavy would never float back up. But..."

"But you think the Adversary might try something some day."

"Aye."

"Well, when and if he does," Unib interjected, "why worry? Chances are we won't be around to deal with it. I know I certainly won't."

"Oh, come now," Reg said.

"Hush, lad," the old dwarf admonished. "The final day is coming, I feel it in my bones. I'm not even sure I'll be here next year."

It was Urvad's turn to interrupt the fatalism. "This is hardly the most joyful of topics for our reunion," she muttered.

"Ah, don't feel bad, little one." Unib smiled at the younger couple. "I've had a good run. After all, not many dwarves can say they've done as much as we have, eh? Besides, it's about time I joined my husband in the afterlife."

The conversation died down then, as it did every year. The three dwarves turned their attention to the distant horizon above the waters. The sun took its first peek into the new day, and their chat resumed. Reg and Urvad were thinking of having a child. Unib gave them her blessing, along with advice on the various things she had learned as a mother of four, all of them well into adulthood now.

They shared a morning meal of plump helmet biscuits and rum by Kulet's grave. They ate in stern silence, each remembering what it had been like to allow the Saints into their souls. The vicious intrusion had given way to a measured discussion, and each had submitted willingly to the agents of Armok's will. Kulet had been taken by Rhaken, the strategist. Unib got Lorius Zane, the high priest, in accordance to her own work at Armok's temple. The lovers Reg and Urvad received the spirits of Jackal and Modi, lovers themselves. For many days they had relinquished control of their minds and bodies to the Saints, thus allowing them to change history. Yet none of them wanted fame and recognition. As far as anyone knew, these four dwarves - three now, soon to be two, as Urvad would be taken from the world of the living before year's end - were mere civilians of The First Iron.



Early Autumn, 655
The Age of Legends


"They caught whatnow?"

The harbor porter handed her the cargo manifest, but she just gave him a dirty look. Like most humans, Kemus Workhandles couldn't read. Catching her drift, the porter repeated what he read on the parchment.

"Twenty-seven barrel of codfish. Sixty barrel of sardines. Three barrel of octopus. One marlin, about ninety-four stone. One sterling silver sarcophagus, sixty stone."

Kemus stared at him in confusion. "How the feck did they catch that in a fishing trawler?"

"Must have been a productive trip."

Kemus shook her head. "That's nae the issue here."

"I don't follow."

"A sarcophagus ain't a fish, ya dumb shite."

Kemus spent the next hour cleaning and gutting fish, trying to ignore the mounting commotion on the docks around her. It was around noon that her curiosity finally got the better of her, and she set off to join the throng of onlookers by the pier. They had gathered near the trawler, drawn by the strange news of a silver coffin caught in the dragnets.

It took some minutes to find a nice vantage point where she could watch what went on aboard the ship. Seems the harbormaster was arguing with the captain, quill and sheafs of paper in hand. The fishermen unloaded barrels upon barrels of fish across the gangplank. Of the mysterious sarcophagus, there was no sign.

Kemus watched the captain and harbormaster go back and forth over something or other for a while. She was about to consider heading back to work when things changed. The harbormaster stepped off the gangplank, and a handful of sailors descended to the cargo hold. They emerged moments later, straining and panting at the weight of their load. Finally, the crowd could set eyes on the source of all this hubbub.

It was a bit underwhelming, to say the least. The oblong box had a thick covering of algae and coral blemishing its silver shine. Though clearly a coffin, and a heavy one at that, it was too small to inter a full-grown human. Perhaps it was meant for children? Perhaps it held some long-lost rich captain's son, lost to the seas in an age gone by? Fishermen caught these things sometimes. The eastern sea held strange surprises for fishermen, and the dragnets sometimes hauled in corroded metalworks or ancient stone crafts. Most of the stuff was worthless, and the sailors, ever a supersticious lot, believed the things were bad luck. That didn't stop them from selling the things for a few coins if they weren't too badly damaged or a collector was nearby. That, or a gullible sap.

"Cease your defiling at once, human!"

The heavy voice cut through the murmur of the crowd, hushing countless others in its wake. Heads turned to find the source of this newest commotion, but saw nothing. It was only when the speaker climbed atop a shipping crate that they could see him.

He was a dwarf, with a beard dark as night. A worn red cloak made of their strange semi-fungal fiber hung about his shoulders, and beneath it he wore ancient-looking leather armor. A short sword rested in a scabbard strapped to his belt. His boots bore the dust of many miles. A vicious light glittered in the dwarf's eyes as he opened his mouth to speak again.

"You heard me. Unhand that sarcophagus at once! It belongs to my people, to be brought to rest in our halls beneath the earth, as befits our kind. Unhand it, I say!"

The dwarf clambered down from the crate and advanced on the sailors, the crowd parting to let him through. The harbormaster sneered down his nose at the bearded creature, hands at his hips.

"And who are you, dwarf, to think you can abscond with something that belongs to the masters of this town? I don't think you've managed to purchase this coffin in the short time since its arrival here."

"I am Ast Logemlenod, Priest of Armok," the dwarf replied, staring right back, "and I do not need to purchase what rightly belongs to myself, my kin and my temple."

"Perhaps you didn't hear me," the harbormaster replied with impatience. He knocked on the side of the coffin as the sailors let it down on the pier. "This belongs to the masters of the town. By what right do you claim this as yours?"

The little bugger moved fast. He swatted the harbormaster's hand away and stood between the him and the coffin, glaring daggers at him.

"How dare you!" Ast roared. "Have you any idea the forces you meddle with? The dwarven dead are not to be handled in such a manner!"

The harbormaster was clearly irritated at this point. "And why not? This sarcophagus belongs to us."

"Fine then. But if you keep it, you must bear its curse."

That one word sent a ripple of murmurs through the crowd. Nobody liked disturbing the dead, especially if there were evil things involved. Kemus liked to think she was a bit more skeptical than that, but what if it was true? She had once heard that dwarves who aren't properly memorialized come back to haunt the living.

The sailors backed off from the coffin as if it was a coiled serpent with fangs dripping venom.

"Curse? That is bloody well prepostorous," The harbormaster scoffed, though there was an edge of panic beneath the surface bluster. "Stop wasting my time, dwarf. I've other ships to inspect."

Kemus could see the dwarf's face from where she was standing. She had seen only a handful of dwarves in all her life - mostly aboard human ships, probably hailing from those few settlements by the coast where ships from the Old World used to land - so she wasn't entirely sure if their expressions meant the same as they would on a human. Yet somehow, she couldn't help but feel suspicious when she caught sight of the dwarf's countenance. Before assuming the scowl of one who is set to engage in a serious, passionate speech, the bearded priest had flashed a quick smile, barely there. It left faster than it arrived, and the observers were none the wiser.

Kemus thought it was a cutthroat's grin.



The dwarf hauled the sarcophagus through the city, straining to suppress a massive grin. These humies were so gullible. Spin them a little yarn about a curse and they'll throw you more silver than you'll ever know what to do with. Sure, he'd have to do some desecrating of the dead first, and high-tail it with the silver before an angry ghost showed up, but that was nothing he hadn't done before.

He trudged out past the gates of Goldenmines - humans give the dumbest names to their settlements, don't they just? - and made his way to one of the wagon trains stationed outside. He spotted the caravan master, a lithe human woman of middling years, sitting at the lead wagon. He hailed her as he approached, and she waved back with a fond smile.

"Welcome back, Master Dwarf," she said. "We didn't expect ye back so soon. Found what you were lookin' fer already?"

"Indeed I have," the dwarf replied, laying down the sarcophagus. "Help me load this up, would you kindly?"

They heaved the sarcophagus into the back of the wagon. The wagon bed sagged slightly under the load. The two of them sat at the front of the wagon once their labor was done, making small talk.

"So where are you headed now?" The dwarf inquired as he pulled a flask from his belt.

"Well, there's s'pposedly a new dwarven outpost in the Steppes of Meditation. A Demondoor or somesuch. Figure we'll peddle our wares over there," said the caravan master. The dwarf took a swig, then handed her the flask. She nodded in thanks, gave it a taste. The strong dwarven whisky burned in her throat, then filled her belly with a pleasant warmth.

"Sounds good to me," The dwarf replied. "It's been far too long since I've been among my people." Not like he gave much of a crap either way.

They chatted the daylight away, waiting for the rest of the traders to show up with their goods and helping them load up when necessary. The sun was beginning to sink when they were finally set to depart, though they still had a few hours of sun left in the day.

The dwarf rode up front with the caravan master, whom had proven to be quite the conversationalist. They spoke of agriculture, discussed the politics of dwarves and men, even shared some gossip of the goings-on in the civilized North and nightmarish South.

"Ye're truly fascinatin' company, Master Dwarf," she told him as the day died down and they prepared to make camp. "Though it strikes me that ye never did tell me yer name."

The dwarf took a moment to consider what name he would feed the woman. Real names were for honest, decent folk. Thieves, swindlers and charlatans like him were more fond of aliases. After a brief moment, he settled upon his original alias; the one he had devised some forty years ago in the criminal underbelly of Clearstockades.

"Blackmore," the dwarf said with a smile. "You may call me Blackmore."
Logged
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: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2573 on: March 20, 2015, 08:59:28 am »

Before ya'll start griping about the lack of progress again, I'll let you know that work is progressing behind the scenes, albeit slowly.  We'd like to get the ending out by the end of march, but don't count on it happening by then, there is still a lot we're trying to hammer out.

CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2574 on: March 20, 2015, 10:47:50 am »

Before ya'll start griping about the lack of progress again, I'll let you know that work is progressing behind the scenes, albeit slowly.  We'd like to get the ending out by the end of march, but don't count on it happening by then, there is still a lot we're trying to hammer out.
k.

Zaerosz

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2575 on: March 30, 2015, 01:15:14 am »

Wait, I actually bloody survived?
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TheFlame52

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2576 on: February 12, 2016, 12:19:03 pm »

Hello, is this fort 100% dead/finished now?

Deus Asmoth

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2577 on: February 12, 2016, 06:50:36 pm »

Unfortunately. People got waylaid and the ending kind of fell apart. I can root up what we had worked out if it'd interest you.
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Look elsewhere, reader. There is nothing for you here.

TheFlame52

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Re: Demongate: Wrapping up the Loose Ends.
« Reply #2578 on: February 12, 2016, 09:41:32 pm »

Sure.
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