There was once a small but thriving fortress dug out under a mountain at the edge of a vast mountain range. There was a forest to the north, a brook on the west, a volcano on the southwest, a chasm on the southeast, and mountains on all other sides.
The land was so full of riches that the miners struck gold as soon as they started digging. The fortress grew slowly in size, but very quickly in wealth, as they were surrounded by precious metals and gems. When dwarven caravans returned to the Mountainhomes bearing golden crafts and platinum statues, they brought news of an outpost with immense wealth. The news spread like wildfire, and soon almost the whole world knew about the fortress.
However, as always, the news reached the wrong ears. Goblin and kobold thieves and ambushers came soon, eager to steal the riches. The fortress was still small in terms of population, but their military was made up of grim, determined dwarves who fought bravely. The outpost managed to repel all attacks with minimal loss. The population began to grow quickly as migrants arrived in huge numbers.
Soon thereafter, the mayor decided that he wanted a supply of magma for the smelters, and sent a group of miners to channel magma to the fortress from the volcano. But along with the magma came fire imps, fire men, and magma men, rapidly killing dwarves.
The mayor had also sent miners on an expedition to the far ends of the land to find more gems and ore. The miners dug faithfully, but forgot to block the tunnels they dug, and soon chasm creatures flooded into the fortress.
To cap it all off, the goblins chose that moment to send a huge siege party.
As the three separate armies advanced upon the fortress, the mayor consulted the captain of the guard, who told him that even if they managed to drive away both the chasm creatures and the magma creatures, the goblins would still finish them off. But the mayor had an idea. Miners were sent for an extremely important, secret mission. They dug out a large, temporary room for the dwarves, deep inside another mountain. The nobles were quickly rushed in, followed by civilians with food, drink, equipment, and treasures.
The chasm creatures were first to arrive at the fortress, and the military fought them bravely, killing some and driving away the rest. The captain of the guard then rushed his army into the secret room. Miners, meanwhile, dug a tunnel from the brook to the room, providing it with a water supply. Finally, the best mason built a thick wall to block the pathway, just as the magma creatures arrived.
The goblins arrived last, and were surprised to find the fortress completely devoid of dwarves. As they explored the fortress, it seemed as if it was devoid of treasure, too. Then the lava creatures burst in. There was a fast and furious battle between the goblins and the fire imps. The goblins managed to drive them back to the magma forge – a heroic feat – but magma men and fire men emerged from the magma. The goblins sent a few messengers to nearby goblin towers, just before they were all burnt to crisps. Soon, more chasm creatures spouted out of the tunnels, and joined forces with the magma creatures to battle more goblins who arrived. In short, there began an endless battle between the goblins and the creatures of the deep.
Time passed, and while the two armies fought off-and-on endlessly, the dwarves excavated their new mountain refuge from the inside. They dug until the mountain was almost entirely hollowed out. In the center was a vast tower, made of gold, silver and platinum. On it, there were hundreds of masterwork statues and engravings. Without the caravans to bring them food, (since most dwarven civilizations had erased them from their maps) they relied on subterranean farming and herding for their food, cloth and drink. They also mined deep into the earth, with tunnels reaching to various corners of the land. Their tower was completely self-sustaining, and like a wonderland for dwarves, with ponds, statue gardens, zoos and artificial waterfalls. The dwarves thrived.
The dwarves of the Hidden Tower, as they called themselves, survived for decades in this way. However, they did not realize that the fighting outside had ended, and did not know that dwarven adventurers had begun to repopulate the fortress again.
These new dwarves had managed to drive out the remaining goblins and tame the wild creatures of the land. However, they were surprised to find strange criss-crossing tunnels deep in the earth, and more surprised to find that much of the ore and gems had been excavated. They were also blocked out from a certain mountain by what were certainly dwarven-made walls. Alas, if the hidden dwarves had chosen to reveal themselves, they would have survived what was coming for them…
More than a century later, a terrible famine struck the Hidden Tower. A dwarf went fey and started screaming for glass. Since there was no means of making it, (the only thing the Tower lacked was a supply of sand) the dwarf went berserk. The mayor had not planned any assault on its citizens, so there was no military at all. The miners were the only dwarves who carried any weapons – their mining picks. Most unfortunately, the berserk dwarf was a legendary miner.
The hidden Tower was mainly focused on food production, so that its population of almost 500 would be sustained. The majority of the working class worked on farms, and in farmer’s workshops, kitchens, stills, butcheries and fisheries. Fisherdwarves also fished in channeled streams from the brook and underground river. The berserk dwarf rampaged through the workshops, and slaughtered most of the workers.
The mayor immediately called for the other miners to subdue the berserk dwarf. Meanwhile, the dwarf in question worked his way through the workshops and onto the farms. There was a renovation project going on in the farms, and there were many farmers there. The miner killed most of the farmers, until one of them tried to wrestle the pick away from him. The farmer was killed almost instantly, but he enticed a few more farmers to try to grab the berserk dwarf. After a few minutes of struggling, the pick was pulled out of his hand.
The crazed dwarf was soon killed by the miners, but the damage was done. Almost all the farmers and food workshop workers were dead, with the rest injured. Altogether, 79 dwarves were killed. The smell of dwarf blood hung in the air for weeks. All the remaining ~400 dwarves attended a mass funeral, but many dwarves were unable to handle the loss of so many friends and soon went mad. These dwarves rioted throughout the tower, killing many other dwarves in their madness before they too were struck down by the miners.
At this point, about 300 sane (but still unhappy) dwarves remained. All the dwarves were put into the food industry, but it was still not enough, since the great majority of the workers were unskilled and unable to work fast enough.
With no excess plants available for brewing, the Tower ran out of alcohol. Without alcohol to sedate them, and with very little food, the dwarves became very unhappy. Some of them succumbed to melancholy. Some just starved to death. Others went berserk, killing even more dwarves, and causing even more unhappiness. The beautiful tower did not look so beautiful anymore, with bloodstains, corpses, and mad dwarves at every corner.
When the population of sane dwarves reached just 100, it was obvious that the Hidden Tower was going to fail.
There was only one dwarf alive who had lived before the construction of the tower. His name was Kogan, and he was not happy about the most recent turn of events, as he had seen the Tower grow all the way. He and his apprentice Mafol secretly went out to mine in the tunnels one evening, but instead of going to the usual digging site, they began to dig their way out. They dug all the way up to the surface, and, braving daylight after centuries, threw up promptly.
Both dwarves had a severe case of cave adaptation. Because of this, they were temporarily stunned, and did not notice the approach of a ferocious dragon above them. By luck, the dragon did not notice them either, and flew straight overhead to devour the new dwarves at the main fortress.
At night, when the sky was dark, the two dwarves went out exploring. They marvelled at the beautiful trees, the grass, and the fresh air. They soon reached the new settlement in the area. The dragon was, at that point, frying some dwarves inside the fortress. After killing all the new dwarves, the dragon was peacefully resting on its hoard, when the two miners stumbled in.
The dragon was quite intelligent, and knew immediately that these two dwarves were not from the fortress he had just depopulated. They were richly garbed with silk clothes, and their picks were set with diamonds. With a burst of flame the two miners were transformed into a pile of ash on the ground. However, the sighting of the two dwarves caused the dragon to ponder…
The dragon immediately set off to find where the mysterious miners had come from. He found the staircase and went on to find the Hidden Tower, full of more dwarves to eat.
All the dwarves were killed that night, and so ends the legend of the Hidden Tower.
Edited and illustrated by Taran
Author unknown. Source
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