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Author Topic: The long siege of Ceralnecik, "Lenssinged".  (Read 1031 times)

Meng Lolorked

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The long siege of Ceralnecik, "Lenssinged".
« on: December 04, 2018, 01:26:38 pm »

Too weak to carry weapons and fight like the others, I was given, as if out of pity, a secondary role of a chronicler. Therefore I write down the history of the fortress, though I don't know for whom, for if the fortress falls there will be nobody to read it. And the doom of the fortress seems more and more likely with every passing day.

But first thing first. My name is Abban Ubbuldurad.  We departed Mountainhome in 250, to find a new place for us on the northern continent, behind a narrow sea. I was... I am one of the founding seven. We were commanded by strong and confident woman, Rol Ritholon. She lead us to a large valley between hills. Can you imagine our excitement when we saw limonite and lignite in the gentle slopes? Iron and coal on the surface, ours for the taking! And flux stone, which will make forging steel possible. We dared to hope for gold and better things deeper underground. But already some hesitation and restlessness beset us. Why such a spot was uninhabited? Our scouts reported no settlements for days in any direction. Some were happy that neither goblins nor necromancers resided in vicinity, but others wondered. Wilderness here seemed undisturbed, and few travelers that we met quickly fled without answering our greetings.
Nevertheless we started working and gathering earth's generous gifts. Our leader is a cautious and reasonable dwarfwoman, so despite no apparent danger we built our new home with all the precautions. Single entrance fit for a caravan, solid drawbridge and plump helmet fields deep underground, to provide for besieged dwarves if need be.
First few migrants arrived, probably following the route of our small party. We were surprised that in the spring no elven caravan arrived, for these creatures always somehow find out about new dwarven settlements (and visit them to whine about treecutting). In the autumn we received a visit and a caravan from mountainhome. What the liaison told us shed some light on our situation.

The place we choose for our new home was deserted not without a reason. Few days travel to the east there was a huge goblin fortress, inhabited by thousands of these evil creatures. They raided surrounding areas constantly, killing, enslaving and razing whatever they could.
But they were not the worst. To the west, there was a vast elven empire, spanning third of the continent. Their forest retreats were peopled by hundreds, sometimes thousands of elves. And they were at war with our civilization. In fact they were at war with both us and nearby humans, and they were winning. Subjugated and razed human settlements spanned large areas to the north of us. Dwarves suffered similar defeats in the south. It seemed we were in no-man's land between goblins and elves.

Three years passed in relative peace. During that time our fortress expanded, grew rich and prosperous. Large migrant waves arrived, and everyone was welcome. Our fields were fertile, valley was generous, and gifts of earth, transformed by skill and talent of our craftsdwarves, made us wealthy. Shadow of menace, always present in our minds, was barely visible for now. By the time trouble began, two hundred dwarves lived in bustling underground city of Ceralnecik.

We didn't mind the nearby aggressive elven empire. Elves? With wooden armor and weapons? What danger can they pose? Goblins preoccupied us more, and sure enough, 3 years into embark, first goblin siege arrived. Alarm was sounded, bridge was raised and thanks to  preemptive measures undertaken by our far-sighted leader, all went well. Siege was waited out underground, with plenty of food, booze and other necessities. But when the goblins left, and dwarves ventured out, the truth of our situation descended on us.

Fisherdwarves were far out, catching fresh fish to bring some variety after almost a year of eating nothing but plump helmets. Woodcutters went into the forest to replenish our nearly-depleted stocks of timber. Hunters traversed furthest corner of our valley, oblivious to mortal danger creeping in.
Suddenly - ambush! Ten elves jumped a lone fisherdwarf near the river, attacking him with arrow, sword and spear. At first we didn't panic. Entrance to our fortress was reasonably close, and next to it there were barracks, full of mercenaries training just for such an situation. They were sent out immediately and charged the enemy with almost joyous anticipation of an easy fight.
But then... another ambush! And another! And ... another, another, another! Entire forest seemed to be filled with elves, and since it was an ambush, not a siege, most of our dwarves were far out and with little chances of survival.
Alarm was sounded, but few fisherdwarves and woodcutters made it back home. Squad of mercenaries, so confident just a few minutes earlier, now was completely surrounded and fighting for their lives. Barely trained rookie squad, stationed deep underground near caverns entrance, was sent to help. By the time they reached upper levels, over two hundred elves swarmed the fortress entrance. No civilian dwarf was alive on the surface by that time. What was left of mercenary squad was pushed towards drawbridge and made a desperate last stand there.
Mercenaries fought well and earned whatever coin we pay them with. For each dead soldier ten elves paid with their lives. Our rookies joined the fray just outside drawbridge, on a narrow front, which somewhat limited elves' huge numerical superiority.
The battle was grim and intense. Dwarves fought with desperation, cutting through wooden armor and weapons of invaders with terrible force. Elves charged savagely, paying no heed to heaps of bodies of their brethren. Once in a while a dwarf advanced in skill and some of our soldiers became masters of their weapons in mere hours - something they couldn't achieve in years of training. But few of our defenders had full armor, fewer still had armor of good quality. Casualties mounted and soon mere seven dwarves from two squads defended the entrance against hordes of elves. We brooded on raising the drawbridge, leaving the few defenders outside for certain death. Armorer and smiths worked frantically on new weapons, helmets and chainmails, trying to arm another squad of militia to tip the scales (oh! why didn't we prepare proper weapons during years of peace?). But fortunately, just as our situation started to seem unbearable, the elves began their retreat. And as quickly and stealthy as they appeared, they were gone.

The results of this assault were horrifying. Twenty poor, defenseless civilians were savagely slaughtered in the woods. We expected such mercilessness from goblins or zombies, but not elves. Two thirds of our military were gone. Over fifty elven bodies were scattered all over our valley. Another hundred lied in a huge heap at our fortress entrance.

This was a rude awakening for the fortress inhabitants. Almost everyone was tasked with post-battle clean-up. Magma chute was constructed, which pierced the valley all the way from the surface to the great magma sea deep underground (adamantine was located during chute's construction, but hardly anyone celebrated, considering our predicament). Citizens threw body after body of elven invaders down there. Masons were given the somber task of coffin construction for our countless casualties. Once in a while a dwarf, working tirelessly carrying bodies and body parts, snapped and threw a tantrum. Others were stressed beyond measure due to constant contact with rotting bodies. A single battle, though victorious, changed our fortress from a happy and prospering dwarven dwelling into a sullen, gloomy shadow of it's former self.

And of course that was not the end of it. Months, and then years passed, and our situation went from bad to worse.

Elven ambushes appeared again, and again, giving us little respite. Almost all population was at one time or another pressed into the military. Plump helmets withered and died, for noone was there to gather them. Dwarves went into combat armed in nothing more than a copper club, with little armor on body and even less on spirit. Each fisherdwarf, undertaking the task of providing for his brethren, said tearful farewells to his family, for more often than not he would not return. Woods were infested with elves so much that in time each woodcutter, fisher or hunter had to do his job escorted by a squad of soldiers. Whenever we got a little break from the elves, goblins appeared with a powerful siege.

Months of constant warfare thinned our numbers. Migrants stopped arriving altogether, for several caravans and even our outpost liaison were massacred by treacherous elves. Gloom ruled  Ceralnecik. More and more dwarves, stressed and haggard, surrendered not to the enemy, but to their own terror. Some snapped, went berserk and were killed by the military, which caused more sorrow and grief. Others sunk into depression and starved themselves to death. And the elves kept coming. Each time we managed to force them back, each time killing hundreds. But it seemed losses did not matter to them. And each battle costed us new dead soldiers and civilians.

By now my chronicle becomes boring and repetitive. 7th of Malachite, elven ambush decimates the hunters, even dogs are slaughtered. 1st of Galena, mayor murdered by a tantruming soldier. 3rd of Galena, we repulsed elven attack at the magma chute, half of our military perished. 10th of Sandstone, there are no meals left, we resort to eating vermin and rats. 22nd of Timber, our greatest hero, Urist the Unknowing Disembowelment of Dragons, died at the stream, ambushed while escorting our last fisherdwarf. Fisherdwarf returned, but succumbed to his wounds soon after. 13th of Obsidian, our expedition leader threw herself into the river, maddened by death of her child during a goblin siege.

Hospital is full all the time. Two chief medical dwarves sunk into depression so far, dying soon after. Few of us retained enough composure to bring water to the wounded. We are mere shadows of our former selves, our hope forlorn, our fate sealed.

The few citizens still clear-headed enough to fulfill their tasks wanted to save the fortress. Someone demanded we built a magma pump, to purge the valley with lava, destroying corpses, forest and any invaders tormenting us. But this was too great a task for the few of us that still had any strength. Others wanted to seal the surface off and hide underground, safe from relentless invaders bent on our destruction. This idea was entertained for a while. But then fate intervened, and this last glimmer of hope was lost.

One of the cooks went berserk and broke apart the lever that controlled the drawbridge, our defense of last resort. Militia commander cracked his skull with an old rusty iron axe, but the deed was done. Last lucid mechanic frantically run to rebuild destroyed mechanisms. As soon as he reached the drawbridge near entrance, he was pierced by dozens of arrows - another elven ambush arrived.

Now I have to put down my quill and pick up an axe. I join hastily created militia squad, for all remaining citizens are drafted. That makes just three incomplete squads - this is all that is left of population that was once two hundred dwarves strong. We march out with strange peace, even tranquility. Our only farewells are the sullen stares of haggard, depressed and insane dwarves, who are stumbling obliviously at every corridor. Hundreds of merciless elves pour into our home over now defunct drawbridge, for a final assault.

We charge.


So this was my first fortress created in new version, 0.44. I was eager to play in a world with more political turmoil in international relations, with civilizations warring, fortress being able to conquer sites, etc. And I was not disappointed. It was a first time that I was immediately at war with elves, in previous fortresses I usually provoked them to war after several years, when my military was strong and well equipped. They usually are easy to defeat in combat, but this time they invaded in truly enormous numbers. I think I could still have prevailed, if not for the new stress mechanics. Seeing so many dead bodies made my dwarves really stressed and everything went to pieces. I have to say it's a bit off-putting, when not a battle, but a cleanup after battle is more harmful to the fortress. I hope it will be better balanced in the future. After two years of constant warfare my dwarves should become indifferent to the sight of dead bodies, especially enemies.
Otherwise, elven assaults were like battles of Tholtig Cryptbrain - throngs of elves versus fewer than ten-twenty military dwarves. Hundreds of elven casualties. Finally they prevailed - it was inevitable.


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Re: The long siege of Ceralnecik, "Lenssinged".
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 02:12:44 pm »

Quantity is a quality of its own it would seem.
Meanwhile in the background, some migrant brought a cat! The first cat in Whisperwhip for a few years now, actually. The local population accidentally died of exploding over the years.

After 3 days, the new cat explodes.


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Re: The long siege of Ceralnecik, "Lenssinged".
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2018, 12:00:31 am »

We charge!