The Tale of Shit-Sack

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.


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?


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.


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…


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.


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.


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.


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!”

“Yes sir!”


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.


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.


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.”


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.


An ambush!  Curse them! … … …

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A Letter to the King

Your Highness:

The Baroness has gone mad.

At least she’s had the decency to do it in an appropriately aristocratic fashion. A forlorn, ragged figure, she haunts the byways of our mighty Fortress Alebaldness, clutching her annoying baby, whining endlessly about the Dungeonmaster having a nicer dining room than her, and occasionally screaming with hallucinations as the withdrawal symptoms set in.

The Baron was much more forthright about it. He went mad about a month after his wife, and promptly turned berserk in the ground-level statue garden. He managed to kill one of the war dogs before The Hammerer turned up and put an end to the brief, rather pathetic rampage.

I’m quite grateful to The Hammerer, really. Because I must admit: we do have an alcohol problem in Alebaldness. As you know, the dwarfs you sent here only function properly at a high level of regular drunkenness. Apparently, our fields and farms are too damned fruitful. We have room after room of food storage: piles of prickleberries, wild strawberries galore, oceans of plump helmets… and meat! We have cat meat, dog meat, cow meat, muskox meat, carp meat, sailfin molly meat, rhesus macacque meat, deer meat, goat meat, and some mouldering piles which the cooks assure me are still edible, but can’t actually be identified at this point. Then there’s the plants. We’ve grown them and harvested them. We’ve gathered them from the wild. We’ve processed them endlessly, and now we have so many stocks of ‘plant’ that nobody really knows what to do with them, except stick them in yet more goddam barrels.

And therein lies the problem. Apparently, the brewer can’t actually create any more sweet, sweet moonshiny booze until he has a barrel or two available, and even though I’ve got three carpenters working full time turning out nothing but barrels, the damned food-storage lackeys keep running off with them all, to stuff them full of yet more anonymous plant matter, mouldering meat, and plump helmets. (Note: what, exactly, is a ‘plump helmet’ and why do we eat it? It sounds terribly… metaphorical. Like a coy nickname for an erection. I’m not really sure that sort of thing constitutes a good diet.

In any case, I’ve put a stop to all farming. I’ve even created a Royal Guard, in the hopes that perhaps the few remaining nobles will be suitably flattered, and thus not go quite as insane as the Baroness and her consort. The Hammerer and the Dungeonmaster are actually quite useful chaps, and I’d hate to see them charging about the place, rending their shabby clothing, gnashing their yellow teeth, and baying at… well, the ceiling, what with us living mostly underground.

At least the goblins have backed off for the time being. Now that we’ve got two squads of marksdwarfs and two teams of champion wrestlers in chain mail, they have been taking a much softer approach. True, we still get the occasional snatcher wandering the boundaries, but in general the populace seems quite cheered by the spectacle of goblin snatchers being torn to pieces by mighty champion wrestlers. And now that the perimeter wall is finished, the only ways in are through the gates with the chained war dogs, the cage traps, the stone drop traps, the weapon traps, and the drawbridges which we can close on a moment’s notice, providing the dwarfs in the control room aren’t too fucking drunk to to pull a lever. Still, it can be quite entertaining if they’re a little late. Three or four goblin pikemen racing frantically around the compound, screaming in horror as the dogs and the wrestlers tear them into itty-bitty green and bloody pieces is a bracing spectacle.

The last goblin raid was actually rather helpful. Since we’ve completed the wall and the drawbridges, the greenies have seemingly decided to time their attacks for the arrival of the regular merchant caravans, in the hopes we’ll leave the gates unguarded. Or something. They sent a score or so of goblins with pikes and crossbows, led by a human Axelord. The arriving caravans were overwhelmed so fast that pieces of caravan guard were still raining down by the time the greenies got to the wardogs chained at the gate. I sent three heavily armoured Champion Wrestlers out to greet them, and raised the bridges. Meanwhile, a team of perpetually half-drunk and insubordinate marksdwarfs set up behind the fortifications and supplied some alleged covering fire. They didn’t hit any of the All-Star Homicidal Wrestling Freakshow this time, so I suppose that’s good.

The slaughter was unspeakable. We lost a hunter who didn’t get inside the perimeter in time, and two babies carried into battle by the lunatic leader of the Pleasant Syrups, which is the title our foremost squadron of steroid abusers has taken. The goblins and their axelord, on the other hand, were ripped into so many pieces by the withdrawal-maddened Pleasant Syrups that over a month later, we’re still cleaning up the mess.

The conflict was so horrific that the sole surviving human merchant instantly went stark raving mad. And his dromedary, too. They just stood there amidst the blood and severed limbs and heads and the vomit and the dead babies. Naturally,  I was forced to rescue all the gear they brought with them. We got barrels of free booze, still more plump helmets, a remarkable variety of meats, a range of iron toys, some useful weapons, an entire mule in a cage, and best of all, we got five iron anvils. Five! Added to the four we so laboriously purchased from various over-charging merchant bastards, and we now have more Magma Forges than any sane fortress could possibly use.

Did I say sane? Strike that. In any case, how can you possibly have too many Magma Forges?

The only drawback of the whole event seems to be that the human diplomat went away unhappy. (And how did he survive, anyway? I certainly didn’t see him anywhere near the carnage. Where was he?) Evidently the sight of a goblin army eating his fellow men alive distressed him. Or possibly it was just the fact that we took all their stuff after the event. Which is just tough snot for him. We would happily have negotiated with the remaining merchant, except all he did was stand in one spot and babble meaninglessly. Him and his equally insane dromedary. And you can’t barter with a mad camel, can you?

No, I think the goblins are under control for the moment. And once we complete the Very Long Fake Entrance Hall Of Hideous Trap-Laden Doom With Optional Flooding And Drowning, I think we’ll be fine. So it’s the skeletal mountain goats that really piss me off. They hang around the slopes to the south, where the dwarfs inexplicably go wandering.

Why?  Sometimes they say they want a drink. And yet the fortress abounds with wells and underground canals, all nicely set up for guzzling. Sometimes they claim they’re ‘putting items in stockpiles’. What items? What stockpiles? I have a feeling the dwarfs in question are out gathering up bones and skulls of previous victims of the evil skeletal goats, or even the skeletons of previous evil goats torn apart in hideous training exercises by the demented Pleasant Syrups… so you can see it’s a sort of self-sustaining cycle, and I’m damned if I can figure out what to do about it. Except maybe drink more. And even that’s problematic in Fortress Alebaldness, isn’t it?

Of course, the most horrific problem is the children. There must be something in the water here, or perhaps it’s just the perpetual exposure to heavy metal residues. The children are suicidally stupid. They wander around the magma forges at will, getting in the way of the smithies as they pound molten bronze (oh, how I wish we could find some goddamned iron!)  into chain mail for the Pleasant Syrups and their fearsomely violent ilk. They play games on the edge of the bottomless chasm, which is particularly annoying because nobody else will go there for fear of the skeletal antmen some ten levels down, who are trapped forever and permanently incapable of harming anyone or anything. Nevertheless, I can’t use the chasm as a garbage dump because my dwarfs get scared and run away from the edge whenever they see the skeletal antmen down there, waving their bony antenna in feeble, futile menace.

But the children aren’t scared, are they? Oh no. Nor are they scared of goblins. In fact, they love nothing more than rushing to the forefront of a battleground before the military actually arrives, so that the goblins can dismember them and make a fine, nutritious snack of young dwarf jerky in order to prepare themselves for the upcoming battle. And of course, there are  the babies. Why do the soldiers always breed? And why do they insist on carrying their babies into the battle with them? Why aren’t the other dwarfs whooping it up and producing offspring at the same rate as those hideously fecund champion wrestlers?

Never mind.

Just a few notes to finish up, your Highness. Fortress Alebaldness is short of a few vital things. We can trade for iron (if the merchants survive the goblins long enough to avoid catatonia)  but so far we have no sources of sand with which to make glass, and weve run out of turtle shell. These may sound like small matters, your Highness, but so far two of my dwarfs have been taken by Fey Moods and seized the glass furnace… only to gradually go mad for lack of raw materials. The score for turtle shell is even worse: weve lost three.  Naturally I walled them up until they died, but the stench is dreadful, and since nobody wants to bury the corpses of these mad dwarfs, I’ve had to order them dropped into the Magma Pits for disposal. You can imagine what that’s done to morale around the place, I’m sure.

Therefore, if you could just see fit to include some glass and turtle shell with your next shipment of totally fucking useless nobility, your Highness, we might possibly see another year or two out of Fortress Alebaldness. Only — please, for the love of Armok, don’t send us any more fucking Philosophers. The one you sent keeps changing the prices of goods without warning, and staggering about the corridors muttering “I drink therefore I am,” and giggling to himself in a very disturbing fashion. I think one Philosopher is really all that any fortress should have to take.

Yours sincerely,

Cog  Tosidlar, Town Manager of Mabdugroder (Alebaldness.)

PS: And send more booze. Or at least send us a lot of empty barrels. The goddam elves have demanded we restrict our tree-cutting this year, which makes barrel-making and therefore brewing quite difficult. And if it comes to a choice between the entire fortress going mad from alcohol withdrawal or war with the pointy-eared treehugging hippie stoner bastards, you know which way I’m going to jump, don’t you?

Written by Dirk Flinthart.

One Stands Alone

“Uncle! Uncle! Did you hear?” cried the young dwarf, running down the hall. “Uncle Lolor, did you hear? The count is rearranging the military. He’s putting the best into the Guards and giving them adamantine!”
“Yes, I had heard that,” replied Lolor Tusungdastot, militia captain of the Tin Keys and stalwart defender of the Dwarven Fortress of CityLions.
“Well, you’re the best, right?”
Lolor sighed. “Some say I’m a good fighter, yes.”
“So you’re in the Guards now?” asked the child.
“No, nephew, I am not. The Count was very apologetic. He said I’m too good. He needs me as a militia captain. He says I am an even better leader than I am a fighter. So, no. I am not a Guard.”
“You won’t get to wear adamantine?”
“No, I’m afraid not. The Guards are meant as shock troops. They are melee fighters. The militia is supposed to hang back and provide covering fire, maybe help mop up at the end, or serve as a last line of defense should the Guards fall. We aren’t meant to go toe to toe with goblins, and so we don’t need the protection of adamantine.” Lolor looked disappointed, though.
“But that’s not fair! You’re the best! You have more kills than anyone!”
“Oh, I just got lucky. In a melee, anything can happen. Even the best can die. You shouldn’t glorify warfare, Urist. Don’t look up to me, look up to your father. He is a true hero. He MADE that adamantine armor. A young dwaf should aspire to become a master craftsman, not a warrior.” Lolor was a humble dwarf. “A warrior’s life is wasted. ‘Hurry up and wait.’ Do you know what that means? It means, most of the time, a warrior is twiddling his thumbs, or hauling rock. I get the chance to be a hero maybe once a year. Your father comes home every night knowing he made something useful that very day. You sit around, you train, you sit around, you train, and then the call comes and you must run. Maybe to glory, maybe to your death. It is a hard life.”
“But all the women love a warrior, right? I mean, you must get tons of girls!” Urist asked gleefully.
“Young and stupid girls love a warrior. Women love a man like your father, who can provide for them, and who will be there for their children, and who will become a wonderful grandfather someday. What women wants a dead hero for a husband?”
Urist, looking bored with the now serious conversation, said, “Ah, you’re just bitter ’cause you didn’t get into the guards. When I’m a warrior, I’ll be a guard and kill trolls, and goblins, and dragons, and titans, and-”
“Captain! Captain! We need you! Please, sir, no one else is ready! everyone is changing their gear and heading to their new squads!” cried a young recruit running down the hall towards them. Lolor tried to remember his name, Meng, was it? He was in a different squad. He looked to be wearing spider silk pajamas.
“Slow down, lad. What is it?” asked Lolor, ignoring his young nephew, who continued to list the various monsters he would kill in the guards, “and unicorns, and, uh, rutherers, and…”
“The Count has a bad feeling. He said the framerate is dropping!”
“The carpenters are working on wooden frames more slowly than normal? That is a bad sign. Carpenters are notoriously sensitive to the presence of large numbers of Goblins. But it could just be cats.”
“No, sir, the cats are all tied up!” the recruit looked worried.
“And the Kitten Watch Posts?” asked Lolor, beginning to feel worried himself.
“Kittens one and three reporting, sir, but Kitten Watch Post two is empty!”
“What? Did no one refill it with kittens after the last raid?” barked Lolor, now quite concerned.
“No! The Count is furious! He sent that miscreant animal handler Urist McRedshirt, you know, the one who likes to wear red shirts? He sent him out to fill it. He said he doesn’t even care if Urist gets killed, it will serve him right. But then he ordered the Guards out to watch over him, anyway.”
“The Count has a notoriously soft heart. So why are you here? I’m not in the Guards.” asked Lolor.
“That’s just it!” shouted the recruit, looking a bit wild eyed, “The guards are all down in the forge room picking out their new adamantine. The rest of the squads, no one knows where anyone is, everyone is confused trying to find their new barracks and equipment. You’re the only one in charge I could find!” shrieked the recruit, realizing he might be fighting alongside the famous Lolor Tusungdastot in his underwear.
“Well, it looks like you Pajama Fighters are fully equipped,” quipped Lolor.
“Sir?” asked the recruit.
“It’s a joke, son. Go put some clothes on. I’ll handle this. It’s not as if the Count is going to realize and admit he’s wrong to send McRedshirt out there right now, and wait until the squads are formed up.”
“You’re going out by yourself?” asked the recruit, fighting to hide his obvious relief.
“Oh, it’s probably nothing. Hoary Marmots or something messing with the carpenter’s heads and killing their frame rate. I’ll be fine.”
“You’re Lolor Tusungdastot! Of course you’ll be fine, sir! I’ll go put on clothes.” said the recruit, running off.
Lolor patted the shaft of his trusty steel battle axe, checked the string on his steel crossbow, and looked down at his nephew Urist, who was still listing monsters, “and Giant Cave Spiders, and Giant Moles, and Giant-”
“See? Hurry up and wait. Now I’m out into the rain and the sun, probably for nothing, but maybe to my death. Is that glorious?”
Young Urist looked up, awed. “Yes,” he said.
“Well I was wrong about you, then. You are a dumb young dwarf who will be perfect for the military,” sighed Lolor. “Now get back home, stay away from the outdoors for a while, okay?”
“Yes Uncle!” cried the child, running off to fight imaginary trolls.
Lolor strode quickly out the fort’s trap protected south sally-port, looking for the animal handler. Walking through the damp and foggy cloud forest thickly blanketing the high mountain valley that was home to the fortress of CityLions, Lolor quickly spotted the animal handler by his bright red shirt, and his entourage of mewling kittens and noisy young dogs, destined for war training.
“McRedshirt! Ho!” yelled Lolor, “Hold up, the Count has sent me out to protect you, he says he thinks there might be Goblins about.”

And that was when Lolor heard a throaty chuckle from behind a nearby tree. “Did you hear that, boys? Their fancy-pants Count thinks there might be Goblins about! Do you boys see any Goblins?” said a fearsome looking Goblin warrior, stepping out from his hiding spot.
Five more Goblins stepped out from hiding. “Uh, aren’t we Goblins, boss?” asked one of the ugly brutes.
“Oh for the love of… you idiots ruin everything. Just kill him,” barked the leader.

Lolor Tusungdastot, Militia Captain of the Tin Keys, stood alone in the center of a circle of six Goblin warriors. Lolor drew his Crossbow, but the Goblins were too close. “McRedhirt! Run for it! Through the emergency hatch!” he screamed, worried there might be more Goblins lurking nearby.
“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!” replied McRedshirt, running right past the hatch, “It was locked just a moment ago and I can’t find a path to it!”  The Goblins advanced on Lolor.
“Don’t want to play fair and fight me one on one? Oh right, you are Goblins. You know nothing of honor. Well, it’s your funeral anyhow,” muttered Lolor, bashing the first Goblin in the legs while dodging a clumsy strike from a second. Quickly reversing into a backhand bash to the body of the first Goblin as he spun around, Lolor deflected an attack from the third with his shield, continuing his spin into a devastating blow to the head of a fourth, spattering brains all over his nice new steel crossbow. He rounded up at the first, who was clutching his leg, and bashed him in the arm, then in the guts, and finally in the head, getting more goblin brains on his crossbow. The leader struck down one of the two dogs trying to protect their master, the animal handler in the red shirt. Lolor entered a martial trance, and the world turned red. A goblin rushed him, and they tangled together on the ground. Lolor bit his toe off and spit it in his face, jumping up and away from an attack by another. Two down, four left, said the tiny part of his brain still capable of language. He bashed the Goblin writhing on the ground and holding his foot. The Goblin stopped writhing.
The two remaining foot soldiers looked to their leader. To his credit, the leader barely hesitated. Snarling, all three advanced, trying to circle behind the militia captain. That was when the second dog attacked, a furry brown whirlwind running in between the goblins, snapping at arms and legs. The dog grabbed a goblin by the hand and shook him. The leader and his henchman jumped at Lolor, one going high, one going low. The leader landed a lucky shot with his axe as Lolor deflected the attack of the other, tearing through Lolor’s steel mail and opening his arm to the bone. Stunned, Lolor collapsed to the ground. His martial training took over, and he dodged by reflex alone as he regained his wits. Once, twice, three times he rolled away from the goblins furious assault. Then he saw an opening, and leaped to his feet, inside the Goblin leader’s guard. He punched the leader in both hands, shattering the bones with his steel gauntlets. Seeing their leader drop his weapon, the final two Goblins broke and ran. Finding himself alone and disarmed, the leader did two. Pursued by dog and Dwarf, he rand for the nearby hills. Running after, Lolor remembered that his crossbow could be used for more than bashing. He shot the fleeing leader in the leg. The dog quickly tackled the now limping leader. Lolor suddenly remember that he was also carrying an axe, and cut the leader in two.
Looking back down the valley, he saw his squad forming up outside the salley port. He also saw McRedshirt, running BACK past the hatch again, screaming “They have crossbows! They have crossbows!”
Grimly looking down at his bleeding arm, Lolor Tusungdastot sighed. A militia captain’s work was never done. “Come on, boys, they are trying to rush the drawbridge! To the ramparts!”

Later that day, the Count came to congratulate Lolor at the hospital where he was getting his arm stitched up. “You know, Lolor, the deeper we mine that adamant, the closer we come to hell.”
“Yes, Lord,” said Lolor.
“But we can seal off the mines, you know. Hopefully our seals will hold as well as adamantine. Still, the poor fellow who is down there mining is done for. And you know how I hate to risk the lives of any of my people. That is why not everyone can have adamantine. We must not be greedy, and unleash hell upon the world.”
“Yes, Lord,” said Lolor, wondering where the Count was going with this.
“You know I used to be a simple miner, Lolor,” said the Count.
“You were never a simple miner. You founded this place.” replied Lolor.
“Yes, well, one does what one can. I think I might pull out the old pick, though. Just for old time’s sake. Can’t hurt to stay in practice. And I might just have a present for you when I get back. How do you feel about the color light blue?”

This is about how things went down. I had sent a guy out to replace a kitten I had forgotten to replace after the last raid, and I foolishly rearranged my military right then, because the last piece of adamantine armor had just been forged. I rearranged the squads, removing everyone from their squad and putting them in a more appropriate, specialized squad. Only the militia captains didn’t get rearranged. Only one was awake. The fight scene is taken right from the reports. I thought Lolor was done for. I thought McRedshirt was done for (he really was wearing a red shirt!) I thought both the dogs and the kitten were done for. Well, we lost one dog. One dog got a real name, earning it without any war training! Lolor was just a whirlwind of death. He finished off three and chased the fourth to the edge of the map. If the gobbo xbowmen had gone for him and the three guys of his squad who had formed up, it would have been a slaughter, instead they rushed the bridge and fell into the trapped outer refuse courtyard below. In this game, skill really matters. Training pays off. Keeping your militia out of harm’s way until they can handle themselves is crucial. Let them fight disarmed but still armored goblins you catch in your traps.

The Legend of the Ice Fisher

Okay then, young’en, sit down and hear the story about how your old grandad became the most legendary fisherman ever to walk the Realm of Legends. It all started in the winter of fifty one. You may not believe it, but we had no idea what “winter” even meant back then. Our people come from the south, where it never gets cold. I’d never seen snow in my life, and I had no idea a whole river could freeze over. So back then, we didn’t have no rules against walking on the ice. In fact, we all thought it was a blast! When that river first froze, we had a party on the ice. Kids and dogs and donkeys and even oldsters slippin’ and slidin’ all over the place. Bein’ a fisherdwarf, I was a bit concerned that I was out of a job, but I spied some steam rising from the river a ways off one morning, and I decided to go check it out.

Well, you know how the waterfall freezes up into a big ice damn, and the big pool above it doesn’t freeze? I was the first Dwarf to find that out that winter, and I was in fisherman’s heaven. All the fish had schooled up there, and they were biting like there’s no tomorrow, practically throwing themselves on the shore to get at my bait. I was just casting and realin’ ’em in as fast as I could.

That’s about when I heard *CRACK* from the ice damn. Ol’ Bossy, the expedition leader back then, yelled at me to run for it, but it was too late. He got real scared the water would swamp the fort through our summer fishing port, so he started building a drawbridge to seal it up if the water got too high. He yelled over that they’d build me a bridge to get back as soon as they were done.

But right about then, a big bunch of shiftless layabouts showed up looking for beds and hot meals. And one of ’em gets that crazy look in her eye, you know the one, and starts yellin’ about how she needs a clothing shop, she’s got this great idea for a thing called a “coat,” says it will keep us all real warm. We figure it must be some kind of portable wood furnace, turns out it’s just a thick shirt, but of course YOU know what a coat is, we all do, now.

Well, we all know you can’t keep a crazydwarf waiting for her workshop or she might get a little stab-happy. Nobody wants to get poked with knitting needles, so that was the top priority. Meanwhile, I was going a little crazy myself, stuck out in the cold and the rain with no booze. I had plenty of food though! When them huge stacks of fish started rotting, I got an idea. Booze is just rotted plants, right? Well let me tell you, I ate a LOT of rotten fish that spring, trying to get drunk. Turns out, no matter how rotten a fish gets, it won’t turn into booze. It WILL turn into something that makes your head go funny, but not in a good way. The fish started talking to me, tellin’ me all their secrets, tellin’ me the other dwarfs didn’t like me, that’s why they left me over here, they were all laughin’ at me and drinkin’ MY booze! I’d show THEM! I’d build my OWN fortress! Out of fish!

It took five strong dwarves to pull me out of my fish palace once they got the bridge built. I was King of All Fish, what did I need them for? It didn’t help matters that they was all holding their noses and throwin’ up left and right. I’d long since stopped noticing the smell. Luckily, one of them shiftless layabouts knew how to make this stuff called “soap.” It confused everyone at first, we all thought we should eat it, but that didn’t work. He said you put it where it smells, and eating something is the only comfortable way to get it to where it smells, you don’t want stuff goin’ in the other way, so, yeah, laugh all you want youngster, you’ve got it easy nowadays with your soap and your coats and your rules about not walkin’ on the ice and no fishin’ in the winter and your enormous jungle-gym made out of fish bones. All thanks to yer elders, and don’t you forget it!

Everyone thought I was crazy, sure, but those fish really did tell me their secrets. I can catch enough fish in a day to feed the fort for a year. They won’t even let me catch fish most of the time, say I use up all the barrels in an hour, nobody can cook that many fish, give it a rest old man, we get it, you are the King of the Fish.

Just a note, the climate indicator on Embark said “warm.” Don’t believe the climate indicator, if you are working down below and you get a big long lag in the winter for no apparent reason, pause the game and go look at the surface, see if stuff froze up, and if it has, mark the ice as restricted and turn off fishing! Old Urist McFishystink was a merely competent fisherdwarf when he got stuck across the river, by the time I got a bridge built, he was legendary. He had nothing to do all spring but eat, sleep, drink river water, and fish. There was a literal wall of fish running the whole length of the river, starting with piles of two and three fish, ending with stacks of thirty or so! I wasn’t quick enough forbidding them, either. The whole fortress emptied out for a Grand Fish Parade, and most of it was THIS close to rotting before they grabbed it, so the whole kitchen complex turned purple for months before I got all the rotting fish cleared out. I’m just thankful they weren’t jumped by Goblins during the Fish Parade, it was right about the time in spring when the Elven caravan shows up, but I’m guessing not even Goblins could stand the smell. God only knows what the Elves thought of the whole thing. “You SICK little monkeys! What ARE you doing to those poor fish?!? You are never going to eat them all. Is this some kind of Dwarven religious ritual? I will never understand you people. No, just bring out the gold, I don’t even want to know. Wait, are you EATING soap?!?!”