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Author Topic: A Flame Extinguished  (Read 4161 times)

Greenbane

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A Flame Extinguished
« on: March 06, 2009, 06:38:34 pm »

A Flame Extinguished
Chronicle of the Fall of Flamegate, as told by Urist Kolnunok


Keshaninod, Flamegate, had been my home for most of its history. I led a mostly happy life there, and was even blessed with a faithful husband and a loving son. As the only bowyer in the fortress, I was entrusted with the task of crafting the wooden crossbows our soldiers would use time and time again to repel the incessant goblin onslaughts. The attempted sieges were seldom accompanied by tragedy, but occasionally a dwarf or two would succumb to either the ruthless hacking and slashing or the intimidating arrow barrages of the greenskins. Still, akin to the unyielding mountains before the wind, we weathered these invasions along the years, and respectfully mourned our few dead.

Little did I know, little did we all know not goblins nor any other foreign threat would be the cause of our home's downfall. Fate would ultimately deliver all the tragedy we had evaded all those years in a single season, in a single blow that would utterly shatter the resolve of the entire fortress.

Spring will never mean happiness, love and trees blossoming for me again. What transpired in the Spring of 212 was the absolute anti-thesis of those concepts.

It all began with the kind of goblin assaults we had gotten used to. However, unnecessarily hasty defensive preparations left a child stranded outside the fortress, at the mercy of the greenskinned marauders, and his short legs could not get him far enough. From the fortifications on the first floor of the gatehouse, one of the marksdwarves allegedly witnessed the goblins pelting him with untold amounts of foul arrows. The youngling was reportedly still standing after the first barrage, despite the fact at least three projectiles had been driven into his flesh. The repulsive, sadistic beasts spared no expense and fired another daunting barrage at the child, inevitably felling him this time.

Due to the same hasty procedures did another child perish, getting fatally crushed by the raising drawbridge. The Captain of the Guard and her children were rushing into the gatehouse when the young dwarf tripped and was caught in one of the large, iron chains flanking the scarlet bridge itself. The Captain kept the incident to herself for some time, but one could see it in her eyes something had happened.

Before long our experienced marksdwarves had ridden the world of a few dozen goblins, but in the meantime a certain planter, the father of the child downed by the invaders, had been getting increasingly upset and violent about his son's demise. In an attempt to retrieve his body, I saw him dash outside along with the troop of close combat fighters. Having a son of my own, I sympathized with the farmer, but stayed inside. As per routine, our soldiers had to make sure the entrance's surroundings were clear of enemies before the rest of us could initiate the scavenging of the battlefield. But the grief-stricken planter allegedly insisted on his desire to see his fallen child's body immediately, even though General Greenbane, head of the infantry, had strictly forbidden any outdoors activity while the field was cleared and wounded greenskin stragglers dealt with.

The continued argument devolved into an outright fight, in which the farmer managed to pull a warhammer off a soldier's hands. During a moment of insanity, while yelling and cursing, the despairing dwarf swung the hammer at one of the drawbridge's thick chains. The resulting hit crushed one of the links enough to allow the sheer weight of the rock bridge to snap the whole chain. The drawbridge shook violently and the other chain, suddenly over-exerted, yielded as well. The rocky surface shattered and plunged into the river below, along with the reckless planter and two champions. They might have been saved if their fellow dwarves had jumped in after them. But even the bravest of the soldiers hesitated and backed down, perhaps rightfully so given their full suits of heavy armour. Not even the leather-armoured marksdwarves stepped forward, masking their fear of deep water with perhaps excessively pessimistic remarks, already stating their brothers were dead, trapped by the falling boulders on the river bed, claiming any rescue attempt would only result in more deaths.

You will have to forgive me if my memory henceforth fails to deliver as much detail. What followed was the biggest catastrophe to ever befall Keshaninod, and forced me to witness such level of chaos and carnage I am astonished my mind still possesses a modicum of sanity. Please bear with me.

Perhaps the destruction of the main, red stone bridge, the very icon of Flamegate to outsiders, was an ominous sign of what would ensue shortly after. The news of the death of three more dwarves deteriorated what could have been a bearable, and eventually forgettable, episode. The families and friends of the drowned began blaming the opposite side for the unfortunate incident, and sooner than later, once more, arguments devolved into violence. The Fortress Guard was tasked to intervene and restore order, but it only made matters worse.

As the heated situation escalated into outright riots, the fighting began to result in both dwarven and animal deaths. My husband tried to get our son and I away from the increasingly dangerous centre of the fortress, but we were separated in the confusion. As our bright minds began to fall to blood-crazed maddwarves or madness itself, I desperately dashed towards the living quarters, hoping to find my family in our humble yet exceptionally-engraved room. I was stuck in a daze as I wandered about the blood-stained, corpse-ridden halls, still unable to believe how my beloved home had suddenly become perhaps deadlier than a filthy goblin lair. Finally, I found our family's room, in the western side of the quarters wing, and locked myself in it. However, neither Bomrek nor Datan were there. Trying to ignore the wailing, raving and screaming going on outside, I sat on the bed and cried. I never saw them again.

I pondered the idea of taking my own life, over and over, but at least some part of my wrecked self refused. My family, in the unlikely event they were still alive, would have either lost their sanity or be locked in some other of the dozens upon dozens of rooms. I wanted to go out, I wanted to go out and look for them, but I was scared, I was overwhelmingly frightened. I was certain there were still insane, murderous dwarves, consumed by grief and anger, roaming about the fortress. I could definitely hear the moans of wounded, agonizing dwarves locked in their rooms. My Datan and Bomrek could be amongst them, but I was aware of the mental state of the population. I could very well try to enter the wrong room and receive only an iron bolt through my throat.

Curled up on the bed, I waited for some time. I lost track. I might have waited an hour. I might have waited ten, hoping things would calm down. But they did not. The screams and the moaning continued. During my cowering, I could swear I heard the despicable dwarf known as the "Hammerer" arguing with General Greenmane and another champion. Then came the clashing of steel, yelling and screams, and then there was silence.

I knew I would go mad as well if I stayed any longer in the hellhole Keshaninod had become. With great care and trembling legs, I stepped out of the room, firmly gripping my crossbow-making knife in my shaken hand. There was blood on the walls, trails on the floor, no matter where I saw. Corpses everywhere, littering the engraved passages, filling the heavy air with the intolerable stench of death. I tried not to look at the face as I lurched forth in the darkness, so to avoid recognizing anyone, which if I did, I knew they would haunt me forever. Above all, with all my heart, I did not want to find my husband and son, dead and bloodied, murdered by some unknown hand.

By the time I made it past the vandalized workshops, I had encountered several survivors along the way. That is, if deranged, rambling, starving dwarves can be considered "survivors". They had clearly lost their mind, so I was prudent enough to discretely avoid them. I have never had the stealthy skills of a hunter, but the poor souls were perhaps too immersed in their own, twisted thoughts to care about their surroundings.

I could also hear the sound of steel clashing and the occasional shout coming from the barracks, but I did not dare investigate. As I approached the food stockpiles, despite my constant daze and ever-present shock, I fortuntately had the presence of mind to gather some rations for the presumably long trip that awaited me once I made it out of the fortress. The gatehouse was isolated with the destruction of the drawbridge, and the small eastern entrance was on the wrong side of the river. The trade depot tunnel was my only option.

Thank Doren, the inner bridge had remained lowered, so I could make it past the inner traps and up onto depot's level. I was surprised to find some stranded elven merchants and a couple of their beasts of burden there. In order to prove I was not one of my crazed, berserking brethren, I immediately put away my knife. It had a wooden hilt, besides. After I explained the state of the inner fortress, they decided to leave, and agreed to take me with them. Elves are not to be trusted, but I did not have a choice. Admittedly, my trust was not misplaced. That time, at least.

On the ride out of Flamegate's territory, I saw more dead goblins that I expected, and also a destroyed caravan with human bodies all around it. These details led me to believe there was another greenskin attack while the fortress was in turmoil. I can only guess what thwarted the second invasion. Perhaps the still-loaded traps and oblivious human caravan guards combined were enough to break the goblin resolve, or the loot of said caravan enough to satiate their lust for ransacking, preventing them from marching on into the fortress and finish us off. Some things I will never know.

For the first time in my life, I was glad to be outside. The sun was only a minor nuisance, compared to the unbearable miasma of rotting bodies and the sight of blood everywhere. The elves dropped me off a league or two away from the border of Katakzuglar, our proud nation, before heading off to their own lands. Zepave Rimane, I think was the name.

I was the unfortunate one to deliver the news about Keshaninod's fate to the Queen. My service was appreciated, and I was given a new home in the mountainhomes. However, the carnage and riots still haunt my dreams, and I can still hear the screams at night. Not a day goes by in which I do not regret having fled instead of stayed and searched for my family, even if I died trying. I was too frightened back then, and now I curse myself everyday for not being braver or, at least, a better wife and mother.

My darling Bomrek, my beloved Datan. Forgive me.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 09:46:17 am by Greenbane »
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Gork

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 08:41:49 pm »

Awesome story, especially when most of us would rather post in the D'oh! thread after losing to the umpteenth outbreak of dwarf madness.
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Maggarg - Eater of chicke

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2009, 07:10:42 am »

Awesome.
Truly awesome.
Wat did the fort look like?
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...I keep searching for my family's raw files, for modding them.

Greenbane

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2009, 11:08:05 am »

Glad you liked it! :D

I'll post some screenshots of Flamegate soon, when my connection stops being so bloody slow.
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Greenbane

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2009, 05:33:04 pm »

Here are the screenshots. They were taken after the bulk of the riots, so their effects are visible on most.


Gatehouse - The main gatehouse, unfortunately without its bauxite bridge. Enemies would be guided down the stairway in the center of that 3x3 floor area north of it, partly obscured by goblin armour remains.

I had designated a single soldier as 24/7 gatekeeper, given that particular wrestler had reached hero status, but suffered (light grey) brain damage during sparring and couldn't train any further. He was too experienced to return to civilian life, so, besides send him charging to his death in the next goblin siege, I couldn't think of any other job for him.

There were six chained horses at various strategic points around the gatehouse, so to act as sentries and reveal ambushes early enough to prevent any dwarven deaths. The horses themselves would generally become training dummies for the marauders, though.


Fortifications - The first floor of the gatehouse, where my 15 marksdwarves would deal death to countless greenskins. Its proximity was deadlier than a bunker's on the beaches of Normandy. Some broken bolts from the last siege can be seen.


Chalk-paved road - Built for the merchant wagons, it stretched all the way to the eastern border of the map. A three-tile-wide ramp led them underground, through a trapped passage and into the trade depot itself.


Trading area - Also the home of most of Flamegate's traps. Technically, after greenskins were led down the aforementioned stairs, they'd have to follow that deadly snaky path if they wanted to get to the dwarves. However, in practice, the system was deadlier to us than them. No matter the traffic restrictions I put on the area, dwarves would go out through it to meet the invaders, given it was the only available exit during siege lockdown. This resulted in at least two dwarven deaths. The plan was implemented after the previous one (chaining a war dog in the white room west of the snaky path) didn't seem to produce any results. The goblins just weren't lured towards it. Perhaps I should've chained a recruit as bait...

The trade depot itself is visible on the upper portion of the picture, along with the trapped road leading to it, the bone crafts storage and the craftsdwarf's shop (the large refuse/graveyard stockpile, not visible in the screenshot, was immediately north of the workshop, and I'd station my legendary bone carver there to produce totems, crafts and bone-decorate whatever he could).

Another important detail is the lower leveal of the moat, built almost entirely from scratch given the soil couldn't be as nicely smoothed as chalk. Floating on the moat are used iron bolts and greenskin armour and bonely remains.

The last two small detals are the rarely used execution shaft (room with the floor hatch in the middle) and the unfinished, engraved cross I tried to make after all my engravers were gone, in an attempt to produce a few pieces that'd immortalize Flamegate's tragedy. However, the only (at least temporarily) sane, economically useful dwarf left in the fortress was Urist Kolnunok (the same that wrote A Flame Extinguished), and she's not much of an engraver. Most of the engravings turned out to be too simple to tell anything, and those that were intricate enough didn't show anything relevant.


Fortress centre - The meeting area, with a good portion of the workshops, the barracks, archery range and legendary dining room. There's also blood and corpses, given the time of the screenshot's taking. The food and wood storages are also visibles, along with the plump helmet farm and a tiny portion of the small, inner chalk drawbridge. Lots of animals, too. They kept cheerfully breeding once they were free from the evil butcher.

The civilians visible are actually insane, mostly struck by melancholy. The few surviving champions are fine, even ecstatic, but they're as useful to the fortress' economy as the maddwarves.

I really don't know what's that blood-stained jet boulder doing in the middle of that room and a red trail. Could it have been used as an insane weapon in the riots? :o


Lower storage areas - Home of the armour, weapons, ammo, finished goods and metal stockpiles, along with the smelter and metalsmith's forge. There's also the reservoir used by the well on the upper (fortress centre) level. Seems death wasn't a common sight in this area.


Common apartments - I spent a while building these. The wounded dwarves that managed to escape the murderous riots found refuge in their rooms, only to die of thirst or starvations due to nobody being able to look after them. This screenshot was taken earlier, so there wounded are still alive.

The miner in a room on the upper left portion of the picture isn't one of the wounded. He went berserk and I managed to lock him in here before he could rack up too many kills.

The people loose on the corridors are, I believe, mostly insane.


Special rooms and offices - These were assigned to the dwarves that needed them, and some notable citizens that I chose to reward. The most luxurious room is the Baron's bedroom/office. His artifact chalk bed was enough to shoot the room's value through the roof. He was very depressed at that point, but still sane for the moment. I believe the bones in his room are his consort's. :(

General Greenbane confronted the Hammerer in these miasma-ridden corridors. However, a former brother-in-arms struck him down before Greenbane could put a finger on the notorious executioner.


Common catacombs - The intended final resting place of most of Keshaninod's population. Most dwarves killed before the riots were entombed here, but once the unrest escalated, hardly anyone was sane/safe enough to do the burial work. That's why many corpses littered the core of the fortress. Urist Kolnunok was interring some of her former neighbours by the time I told her to engrave that cross on the floor of the trading area.


Special tombs - Reserved for distinguished citizens (not necessarily lazy nobles). Some of them successfully ended up in their respective rock coffins before burial tasks ground to a halt.


Hall of Heroes - Destined to the valiant soldier dwarves who would fall in the defense of Flamegate. Unfortunately, the buried's belongings somewhat disrupted the otherwise harmonious aesthetics of the exceptionally-engraved place. Not all champions found their peaceful rest here once the riots intensified.
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Greenbane

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2009, 11:47:40 am »

Uploaded the map to the DF Map Archive last night. You can better view the fortress in its last days there, and with extra points of interest!
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Hawkfrost

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2009, 12:57:56 pm »

Wow, that was a great read.
Good job.
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Creamcorn

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2009, 07:52:48 pm »

Congratulations on the story, you certainly deserve more praise for writing it.
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"OH NO! That carp is gulping at me menacingly, even though it cannot really threaten me from here on land!  I KNOW! I'll dodge into the water, where I'll be safe!"

(name here)

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 08:21:02 pm »

Wow, that's actually neat looking.
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Only in Dwarf Fortress would you try to catch a mermaid to butcher her and make trophies out of her bones 

Greenbane

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2010, 09:38:29 pm »

Shameless bump.

And belatedly, thanks everyone for your nice comments. :)

EDIT: I think this thread should be moved to the stories section. I don't think it existed back when I posted this.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2010, 09:40:58 pm by Greenbane »
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Gergination

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2010, 10:58:06 pm »

Shameless bump.

And belatedly, thanks everyone for your nice comments. :)

EDIT: I think this thread should be moved to the stories section. I don't think it existed back when I posted this.

Burn the heretic, I have clear proof of him practicing necromancy!

In related news, I agree.
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With [SLOW_LEARNER], dwarves probably don't sit around and talk anymore. They just stand in the same corner altogether, staring at each other, sticking their bearded lips out trying to make sounds. And giggling when someone actually says a whole word.

Greenbane

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2011, 05:36:16 pm »

More steam-powered necromancy.

This still hasn't been moved! :P
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Necro910

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2011, 05:50:07 pm »

Nice. But why wasn't the magma rerouted to your halls?  :P

Greenbane

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Re: A Flame Extinguished
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2011, 08:00:54 am »

I'm unfortunate enough to never have found magma. Ever. :(
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