I, Ib Reksasolthez the Weaver, have begun this record of events to share with those who come after the tale of the downfall of the once-mighty fortress Atirshistsak. Or, as some of us called it, “A Shit-Sack.” I was not much more than what you’d call a “dabbling” writer, but having little else to do, I studied several fine books on the subject in the vacant halls of our library before setting quill to page, so that my account could be more legible. I have set the events down as true to my memory as possible. You will note that this diary is being written on the finest of vellum. Why not? There’s no one left to scold me for being wasteful. The librarians are all dead. The broker is dead, so no one will ever even know how many pages of this fine, soft vellum I have wasted with my scribbling. Even the Mayor is dead. I suppose I can be the Mayor now… But I’m getting ahead of myself.
14TH OF GRANITE, EARLY SPRING, OF THE YEAR 527
Today is, I hope, to be the day on which I finally determine the sex of the skilled jewelcutter dwarf, Catten Agdobar, who works in the shop across from my loom. Catten came with the latest wave of migrants, and has no family living in Shit-Sack. But with that soft, luxurious flowing beard, those delicate, adept hands, and those broad, muscular calves, Catten, just *has* to be female, right? If Catten turns out to be another male, I’m going to have some very strange feelings to sort out…
An Elven caravan showed up today. Those bastards. Why do they even bother anymore? They have almost nothing we want or need. I think the broker has just been continuing to trade with them for the sake of honing his trading skills, and getting rid of useless trinkets that are cluttering up our fort, which somehow seem to make the days drag by with amazing slowness. I guess maybe all that time clambering over all of the goblets slows us down. Anyway, the Tree-huggers showed up looking pale and shaken (even more pale than usual, if you can believe that) babbling about a massive horde of goblins they saw off in the distance on their way. I hope they don’t try to use that as an excuse to stay extra long. We didn’t think much of it, as our military is mighty. They are lead by a couple of legendary hammerlords and macelords, and are equipped in the finest of steel armor and the sharpest of steel weapons, forged right here in Shit-Sack by our very own legendary smiths. That’s more than enough to deal with a rabble of goblin scum, right?
16TH OF GRANITE
An ambush! Curse them! Today I was finally going to come out and ask Catten if he/she had a stalactite or a cavern under those leather trousers, and the goblins decided to show up. The Captain of the Guard announced a civilian alert, and now everyone is scrambling around in a panic, and I can’t even find Catten.
17TH OF GRANITE
Today, things got serious. All five squads of our brave, invincible military were lined up just inside the entrance, just out of sight, waiting for the pitiful rabble of goblins to stumble through our extensive field of traps before heading out to do clean-up duty when the reports starting to rush in, one after another: more goblins had been sighted. And more. And more, and more. This was no measly raiding force, this was an all-out invasion. They were coming at us from 4 different directions, riding beasts of war. Reports varied, but the general consensus was that we were facing a horde of over threescore goblins. A force like this had never been seen before in Shit-Sack. I have done some digging through the library, and I can’t find a record of a force this size being seen by any fortress in recent memory.
Our original plan was to remain out of sight, let the traps do their work, and then let the Elven caravan guards get slaughtered, hopefully taking a few of the goblins out in the process, before charging out to meet the enemy on the field of battle. But then we received word that a group of civilians were trapped on the outside, having apparently ignored the civilian alert. They were running to and fro, panic stricken, along the southern border of our lands. His face grim-set, the Captain of the Guard ordered the squads forward…
18TH OF GRANITE
It was all in vain. The enemy were far too many, and far too organized in their multi-faceted assault. Their fearsome drow-spiders webbed many of our warriors right at the first clash of steel upon steel, decimating our forces. The trapped civilians were slaughtered, along with all five squads of our military, to a man. And we’d barely made a dent in the enemy forces. Hastily, the mayor ordered a few squads of untrained civilians to take up weapons and gather inside the fort’s entrance, falling back to our original plan of letting our traps, and the elves, do the work for us, but the enemy still outnumbered us nearly 2 to 1.
19TH OF GRANITE
The plan worked, but just barely. A sizeable force of goblins broke through our deadly weapon traps, smashed the Elven caravan, and rushed through our last-ditch line of defense of cage traps littering our entrance, to meet the untrained, fearful, hastily armed militia in a slobbering, howling, bloodthirsty frenzy. The battle was short, but intense. Only a meager handful of dwarfs survived, and most of those were gravely wounded.
28TH OF GRANITE
Things are looking grim at Shit-Sack. Our once-mighty fortress of over a hundred dwarfs has dwindled down to less than a score, not counting the vermi- I mean children. Tempers are flaring as dwarfs release their anguish over lost loved ones and the horrors of battle in the form of violent tantrums. The wounded and injured are dying, one-by-one. Some are bleeding to death from lack of medical care, but most are simply dying of thirst, as the tantruming dwarfs refuse to bring water to those who can’t walk on their own. More dwarves get wounded every day as fights break out, and as things stand in Shit-Sack right now, a wounded dwarf might as well be a dead dwarf.
12TH OF SLATE, MID-SPRING
The worst is over now, if that can be said, if only because there is no one left alive aside from myself, 9 children, and one other adult dwarf, a useless moron. He’s (it would be a “he”, wouldn’t it? I had hopes of single-handedly repopulating the fort…) a completely unskilled peasant named Melbil Mat. Melbil was a hauler before the goblins came, and was so deep underground that everything was over by the time he finally finished dragging a lump of Schist up the hundred or so flights of stairs to the stone stockpile. We used to tease him back in the day, and tell him that if he worked hard enough and hauled well enough, he might someday become a noble, and claim the titled of Master Hauler. I try hard to avoid him, but he caught me in the dining room having my breakfast rum this morning. This was our conversation:
“So Ib, you’re the Mayor now, right?”
“Yeah. What do you want? Oh, and that reminds me – as my first act as Mayor, I shall issue a mandate against the exportation of goblets! Because why? Because screw this fort!”
“That’s nice Ib… Say, when did we vote you in?”
“Ahh, er…” My eyes darted around. “It was last Tuesday Melbil, don’t you remember? Ohhh, that’s right, you were busy hauling, so you got marked down as ‘abstained’.”
“Oh… Well I guess that’s fair then. Well, since you’re the Mayor now, that means you can appoint me to the Master Hauler position now, right?”
“What? Oh. Yeah, sure kid, whatever you want.”
“Oh thank you thank you thank you Ib! This is the happiest day of my life!”
At this point, my eyes gleamed with a sudden inspiration.
“But Melbil, are you sure you’re ready for all of the extra duties and responsibilities that the Master Hauler position carries?” His face fell.
“What extra duties, Ib? No one’s ever mentioned extra duties…”
“Well sure there are extra duties, Melbil! You don’t think becoming a noble is all fun and games do you?”
“Well Ib, I couldn’t help but notice that once you became Mayor, you helped yourself to the noble’s stockpile of exquisite lavish prepared meals and wonderful booze…”
“What? Oh, that. Kid, with just the two of us, there’s enough of that stuff to last us both for many seasons to come. Help yourself. Now about those extra duties…”
“The Master Hauler is responsible not just for hauling, but also for: burial of the dead, cleaning, feeding the animals, disposing of remains, fertilizing the fields, farming…” I racked my brain for any other jobs that I hated. “…and doing the Mayor’s laundry. I can’t believe you didn’t know all this, kid.”
“You can count on me sir! I’ll be the best damned Master Hauler this fort has ever seen!”
“I just bet you will, kid. Now, about that laundry… You make sure not to lose any of my socks, okay!”
22ND OF SLATE
The kid isn’t doing so hot with the burying of the dead. It’s been nearly a month, (the days are just FLYING by now, with no one around to get in my path) and rotting corpses still litter the fields in front of our forts. It’s not all his fault though; we quickly ran out of coffins, and these delicate weaver’s hands were absolutely NOT made for chiseling lumps of rock into coffins, so it’s very slow going. You make a mistake with the loom, and you just unravel the thread and keep going. Make a mistake with a big hunk of rock, and it goes in the “to be prospected” pile and you start all over.
But I have to work faster. The ghosts are appearing. Ghosts everywhere. I creep from silent, haunted corridor to silent, haunted corridor, trying to avoid notice. At first it wasn’t so bad, it made the fort seem a little less empty, but now they are getting angry. Objects are disappearing, and yesterday one threw something at me.
28TH OF SLATE
I threw my first tantrum yesterday, though I must say it wasn’t my fault. I was…possessed by the ghost of my erstwhile crush Catten. I believe that she (yes, SHE, of course) found my diary, and became angry at me for never speaking up about my feelings. She took control of my body, threw a few things around, and started a fistfight with one of the little brats that are always running around underfoot. I must say, feeling my masonry-toughened knuckles bash into that little whiny kid’s bearded chin was the most satisfying thing that’s happened in Shit-Sack since the day I unlocked the door to the nobles’ booze stockpile.
3RD OF FELSITE
Some migrants have arrived! Finally, more dwarfs to entertain all these kids, and share in the burial duties. Wait… Two. There’s only two of them. And one of them had the audacity to comment on the corpses that remain rotting in the fields. You know what I had to say to that? “Here’s your chisel, buddy. Get crackin on those coffins. And you, here’s another. Start engraving those slabs.”
14TH OF GRANITE, EARLY SPRING, OF THE YEAR 528
Well, it seems that The Great Goblin Invasion of ’27 might not be the end of Shit-Sack after all. Against all odds, I, Mayor Ib Reksasolthez, have carried the fortress through its darkest night, and have seen it through to the dawn of a new era. We had a sizable migration wave last season, and our numbers are back up over a score. We have began planning new defensive measures to assure ourselves that we’ll never be caught off guard like that again. If all goes well, our fort will be nigh-on impregnable in about a month or so, and we can start thinking about training up a solid military again.
15TH OF GRANITE
An ambush! Curse them! … … …
If this story inspired you,
Learn to Play
with Peter Tyson's new book.