The fortress of Silver Saints stood and was ever growing, by capitalizing on masterpiece Stone Mugs (“I went to dwarf fortress and all I got was this stupid mug”) and other assortments. There were precariously placed watch towers and traps designed to fend off invaders. Everything seemed to be in working condition, until the newest batch of dwarves arrived.
The Silver Saints was not without its flaws, and one was that the introduction of new migrants would put resources low for several winters. So, a plan was devised within the community to fan and weed out the weak from the strong. A three-layer gauntlet was created deep inside the mountain. The entrance and exit were sealed by drawbridges. The entrance led to the surface world, and the exit led into the fortress, with a hospital nearby.
The gauntlet was brutal. The first and lowest level was a narrow passageway over a set of pits that would beckon and capture kobold and goblin invaders. The survivors would progress up into a long hallway with equipment from past battles strewn across the floor. The place smelled of ambush. By levers creaking and cages squeaking, the migrant dwarves would be surrounded and set upon by the captured enemies.
The third and highest level pitted the remaining migrant dwarves against enraged bears and other beasts of the time that were captured, and sometimes pitted them against each other if one completely snapped and went berserk. The winner, or winners, soaked in the blood of the fallen, and bearing the equipment of their enemies and fallen comrades, would be permitted to enter the fortress and promptly recover in the hospital. There, a tomb would be made only for dwarves that survived. The rest were left to rot, adding to the horror that awaited future migrant dwarves.
The Silver Saints only desired strong dwarves, as they were hasty at battles with goblins and elves. Surely throwing the cannon fodder would be an insult, and it would be pointless to arm them only to have them die. The odds of losing would outweigh the odds of winning, so they thought. The gauntlet continued for a few winters, until the spirits of the dead grew restless.
Eventually, the spirits began attacking, weakening the dwarves and their reserves. Finally, overwhelmed by spirits and attacking goblins, the Silver Saints fled into the very chasm they considered the gauntlet of rites. They stepped into the world of the victims they perilously put to this indwarvity of a section. The countless bones and blood piles made progress a nightmare. Chased by invaders, they ran down the upper chasm, and were slaughtered one by one. As they ran down the second chasm, some dwarves turned and fought, sacrificing themselves to give time for the others to escape.
The surface world was in sight. As the dwarves ran through the lowest chasm, the passage with the pit, they were greeted by the deathly wails of all those that were killed at the very spot. Attacked by ghosts and goblins, the last remaining miner pulled the emergency lever to pull down the gate to the surface. He then fell down the chasm, joining those he and his comrades refused to take in. The few remaining dwarves of the Silver Saints fought desperately against the goblins, and managed to barely defeat them.
Two bleeding and exhausted dwarves remained. They were great friends with each other, but one of them snapped. Mad, he attacked his friend, forcing the friend to kill him.
With the blood of his comrade on his steel hammer, this last dwarf of the Silver Saints grieved. While bleeding out and anticipating that the ghosts would finish him off, he set his last task to engrave writings on the walls. He engraved every inside wall of the gauntlet’s entrance. After his last carving, his went to his dead friend and fell asleep. And there, he never woke again.
Written by Daesmendu
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