Why do we struggle to continue our existence? I cannot answer that, but we do. At least, I seem to. Despite feeling that all hope was lost I still fought the pain and tried to seal off the entrance to, what was sure to be, my tomb. It’s a good thing I was unable to finish this quickly, or I may have missed the calls of my dwarven kin.
I am embarrassed to say that, when I first heard the voices of The Troubled Dwarves (as I have come to call them) I assumed I was having another lucid nightmare. That, or the emu was mocking me again. Some days his chattering teeth can be so noisy. He doesn’t think I can hear his derisive mutterings, but I hear them.
But no, this time it was neither. This time, the voices were real. From the entrance to the fort (if it could be called a fort) I could make them out against the mucus-covered hills behind them. The summer sun illuminated everything quite brightly, but there was no mistaking the sight. My rescue was here.
The closer they came, however, the more I noticed their bent backs and lack of fighting gear. Then it struck me: the direction they had come from was The Naughty Hills, not south or west which would have been where reinforcements would have come from. No, these dwarves had just marched through hell.
I dared not yell as I did not want to attract the attention of Dôbar’s corpse. I hadn’t seen him in some time, but I was sure he was still around. I started jumping up and down and waving my arms as much as I could. It worked. They saw me. And just as I could make out that they seemed to be in a sorry state, they too seemed to be able to sense a similar condition in me.
I watched silently as their backs straightened and their pace quickened. They probably wondered why I was not returning their calls of greetings, but they were wise enough to not keep shouting when they saw I wasn’t. The hope that had filled them initially slowly dried up as they approached and saw the aftermath littered about them.
I found out later that they had encountered the corpse of a turkey without any wounds, which appeared to have simply died of fright. Welcome to Cavepick, tomb of the turkeys indeed.
Môlkot (the emu skeleton) and myself were not the only ones who wished to welcome this motley crew. Likot Lokumerush was also at hand. At least, his spirit was. The appearance of the ghost of Likot did not go over well, with only Ber Athelonrel not cowering in fear.
The necessity of safety, given our circumstances, trumped our fear, however, and we all worked at getting the doors in place and secured while Ber assured us that Likot was not evil and had no malicious intent. Yet.
Wary of the ghost, these troubled dwarves quickly made a coffin for his rest, and more for the others they had passed on the way up this mountainside. Unwilling to talk about the horrors they saw on their way here (I did not press the matter), they quickly accepted Cavepick as their home. There is not much in this life that truly matters, but I am grateful for the bit of closure that the burial of my friends provided.
That done, together we took stock of what we had and made some decisions about where we should go from here. Thankfully we were not short of alcohol at the moment, but our food stocks were quite low. We had some animals we might have gotten meat from, but I was unwilling to butcher them on the off chance the curse of The Naughty Hills brought them back to life.
In the end, Zasit Amuditeb volunteered to brave the mountain side in search of edible plants. The other thing we needed was to get our furnaces and forges up and running. I didn’t care one way or another, but there was no need for the Troubled Dwarves to suffer my fate. They should probably arm and armor themselves if they wanted to live. If they wanted to. After all, someone is going to need to put my friend Dôbar to rest. I don’t think I could bring myself to do it.
– Mistêm Kanzudber
P.S. It appears that one of the stray yaks dispatched Dôbar for us. Zasit witnessed the event while out foraging and recorded it for me.
Once I realized it was “safe” to go out, I retrieved the body of Dôbar, and her various appendages that were strewn around, and placed them in a coffin of their own. I ended up not being able to let go of her, however. I have told the other dwarves that I didn’t want the zombified corpse to be put in the same coffin as the rest of her “real” body out of respect, but this is only a half-truth.
The reality is that I didn’t want her to be gone. Permanently. She was the last one of my friends to be around (sort of). When Môlkot suggested to me that he wouldn’t mind having someone to talk to (we had placed his skeleton outside of the fort), I got it in my head that I should place Dôbar with him. This way, I would be able to still see her when I wanted to.