Stare Into the Abyss (Opening the Realms, Part 6)

Discussion in 'Stories & Fan Fiction' started by Lorrelian, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. Lorrelian

    Lorrelian Member

    Dredmor wiggled his toes and appreciated the way the bones no longer ground against each other. Before all other things, he was an appreciator of good magic, and he had to admit that the diggle gods had that. The Fertility God was now helping the God of War (so he was told, anyway) get back to fighting trim, a task that the lich took great pleasure in learning would take much longer with the War God than it had with him. Closer by, the Diggle God of Digging folded its flippers behind its back and bent low, looming overhead.

    Dredmor scowled and looked up at the hulking diggle god, easily twenty five feet tall. His own face scowled back at him in the polished yellow helmet the digging master wore, in the shiny digging tools it wore in the belt at its waist and in the shiny, humorous black eyes the size of his head that were set in its face. “Are you ready to go, Dredmor?”

    Even his voice was well modulated and managed not to rattle him like a leaf in the wind. “Yes, Digging God, I suppose I am.”

    The deity led Dredmor back to the tunnel he had dug into the amphitheater, waving its flipper to force the stone in the tunnel to shape into steps. As they started down Dredmor examined the walls carefully. It was hard to believe they were in a freshly drilled tunnel, it looked like it had been used for years.

    “Do you have any questions, Dredmor?” The diggle god asked. “I know you’re an inquisitive creature.”

    “Do you have a name, or must I call you the God of Digging for our whole conversation?”

    It laughed, a rich, rumbling sound with a hint of madness to it. As the sound echoed off the walls chips of stone fell away until the walls were as smooth as worked stone. “Names are for humans, Dredmor. I am a diggle. But out of deference to our new friendship I will give myself the name… Flint. Yes, I think that will do. You can call me Flint.”

    “I am honored to be the first granted this privilege,” Dredmor said dryly. “But from the way things have been going, I wouldn’t have guessed we were friends.”

    “You want me to expand your dungeon, don’t you?”

    “Well, yes.” Dredmor admitted reluctantly.

    Flint set one flipper on the side of tunnel and leaned on it for a moment and the rock gave way. The diggle god waved for Dredmor to follow. “We could cut a deal, you and I…”

    “No. I don’t make deals with those more powerful than myself-”

    “’They would only betray me in my moment of glory,’” Flint finished, nodding. “’Instead, I will make deals with those less powerful than myself and betray them in their moment of glory.’ Overlord’s Rule #199. Yes, I’m familiar with it. Which is why I never seriously intended to offer you one. Instead, I intend to give you an expanded dungeon free of charge. But first, I wanted to test you.”

    Dredmor laughed. “Test what? Are you seeking to add to your pantheon?”

    “Hardly,” Flint answered, laughing as well, a laugh that sent stones falling from the walls to make perfectly shaped sconces. Small torches lit within them seconds later. “But at the same time, you’re not entirely incorrect.”

    They stepped out into a large open cavern. A deep pool of water filled most of it and a stone causeway stretched to the far shore. Dredmor estimated it was at least two hundred feet across. The God of Digging headed towards it immediately. “It’s a foolish mortal misconception that gods are not busy at all, and we sit around all day waiting to do something. Actually, I’m quite busy. While you are certainly worth a great deal of my attention there are five other small matters that I’m attending to at the moment. Normally, I stretch myself much farther.”

    “I see,” Dredmor said, nodding. “And I suppose by expanding my dungeon you somehow save yourself some trouble?”

    “Exactly,” Flint said, smiling over its shoulder. “The problem, you see, comes down to density. For gods like The Gray Worm That Burrows in the Sky, there’s plenty of room to be had. The stars, even the planets are separated by immense distances.”

    “I have heard this,” Dredmor conceded.

    “But in the deeps,” Flint gestured at the water they were just stepping out over, “things are different. Ask the Lutefisk God. Many rulers of many things are crammed all together and conflict looms everywhere. Here in the earth, the densest of all places, the struggle for resources is as constant as it is vicious.”

    Dredmor tapped his teeth absently as he considered that. “Your resources are under attack?”

    “Yes. While I am many things, I am particularly associated with the territory the diggles claim from the earth. Without that, nothing else in diggle society works. The primacy of my role is what makes me the most powerful of the diggle gods. Unfortunately, in maintaining and expanding my borders, I also find myself fighting the most of any of them, even my well meaning but simple minded friend War.”

    “As interesting as your problems are,” Dredmor said in a tone that suggested he found them to be quite the opposite, “what do they have to do with this free dungeon extension you have hinted at?”

    The diggle god gestured down at the waters below. Dredmor glanced in that direction and was startled to see two shafts of light glimmering up from the deeps. He resisted a foolish urge to rub at eyes that were no longer there and leaned out over the edge of the raised path to see better. The lamplike light sources seemed to be getting closer- or at least, the lights were getting larger. Suddenly they turned and rushed along the side of the causeway and waves rose as gargantuan quantities of water were displace by the passage of something truly enormous far below.

    “That,” Flint said, “is the Lord of Folded Waters.”

    The eyes- and Dredmor had no doubt that was what they were- blinked out for a moment, then flared back to life much closer to the surface, huge waves lurching up and over the causeway as the chthonic creature drove relentlessly upwards.

    “There was a time that not a day went by without him flooding some part of my chambers. He was a trial for the Lutefisk God as well. I have never fought an opponent as relentless or as powerful. He disappeared nearly a thousand years ago but reappeared just recently.” The digger spread his flippers. “Who knows, perhaps he was just busy elsewhere.”

    Flint raised one flipper to its mouth and whistled. If you can call a sound as deep as a fog horn a whistle. The sound sent hundreds of stalactites raining down from the ceiling of the cavern, Dredmor’s well honed magical senses telling him each was as powerful as a Bolt of the Squid. The rising light from the deep was suddenly webbed with dozens if spidery lines of shadow. Satisfied, the Diggle God of Digging set off towards the far shore and Dredmor didn’t hesitate to follow.

    Once they were safely on the other shore Dredmor looked at the deity with a knowing light in his eye sockets. “I think I begin to see what you’re doing.”

    “Oh?”

    “I’ve had a working understanding with the diggles, and the Lutefisk followers for that matter, practically since I claimed this dungeon. You have decided that, by seceding a section of your territory to me in the form of an enlarged dungeon you can divert more of your attention to fighting your watery adversary while not having to worry about your devotees.” Dredmor folded his hands behind his back. “But you have forgotten one thing, diggle god.”

    “Which is?”

    “I am Dredmor. I do not accept responsibility as a cost of power. That is why I am a lich, and not a god.”
     
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  2. Lorrelian

    Lorrelian Member

    To his amazement, Flint burst into laughter at that, the deep booming sound shattering the causeway behind them like it was straw before a storm. Once its amusement was under control the diggle god wiped a small tear from one eye and looked down at Dredmor in amazement. “I will miss you when you are gone back home, my friend. Such directness and boldness is rare these days.”

    “It was never common,” Dredmor said with a satisfied air. “But even then, I am a unique specimen. I enjoy writing letters, however, and in particular the stamps that come with them.”

    “I shall keep it in mind,” Flint said, turning serious again. “However, I am placing no responsibility on you that you would not already have. You need merely keep your own dungeon as you always would. And be aware, Dredmor. Even if you choose not to accept my offer, the Lord of Folded Waters will come for your domain as soon as he knows it’s there. However with an expanded dungeon you can train more and better monsters. The Lutefisk God is interested in this project as well, and I believe he will post more of his heralds to the lower levels of your fortress, should they appear.”

    The diggle god moved on, heading towards a new tunnel. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I could have even convinced the others to support this idea without the Fishy One on board. With the exception of Death, my friends don’t think much of you. Fertility, in particular, didn’t like the idea. Not a fan of outsiders.”

    “I got that impression,” Dredmor said dryly. “How did he get back out of the Slipgate, by the by?”

    “Oh, that’s a secret. But you should know that we have extensive experience with that particular artifact. Or have you never wondered why the diggles today have no mages?”

    Dredmor’s eyes brightened in interest. He had wondered that. “That is a story I would like to hear someday.”

    “Someday,” Flint replied. They arrived at a dead end that instantly sloughed away when they approached and Dredmor found himself in a nearly perfect duplicate of his old laboratory, except it was twice the size. Just beyond was a grand but not overdone throne room while to one side there was what looked like a well organized supply room as well. “So. An expanded dungeon in exchange for an alliance against a common foe?”

    Dredmor looked around once, but in reality there was only one answer he could make. This is what he came for and, if the diggle’s intelligence was right, the cost he paid was no cost at all. He knew there were many eldritch forces within the earth, and it was something of a surprise that he hadn’t seen one in all his time.

    “Very well. When will it be ready?”

    “Well, there is one other thing.” Flint actually looked a bit ashamed. “You see, the others agreed that we all had to test you. So.”

    Dredmor’s eyes blazed to full intensity but before he could speak the Diggle God of Digging raised one leg and stamped down, creating a massive fissure in the floor beneath his feet. A dozen different snappy last lines flitted through Dredmor’s mind but, rather than waste time with them, he decided to prioritize the matter at hand. He was falling and wouldn’t get up if he didn’t do something about it soon.

    A quick check confirmed that his connection to the Master Slipgate had been blocked in some way. He got the feeling of a stony wall with a highly amused person leaning against the other side. Flint apparently wasn’t kidding about knowing how the thing worked.

    That left him with the Staff of THX and his own mastery of a dozen different schools of magic, plus his dabbling in a few dozen more along with several lifetimes of mundane skills on top of that. Dredmor immediately rejected several options, such as time travel (too much advanced planning needed for that to work right), barbarism (no hairspray on hand) and turning into a snake (generally unhelpful.)

    They say that when in danger the human mind can work incredibly quickly. But Dredmor’s mind was far beyond human and, long before his feet finished slipping from the floor and tipping into the fissure he had decided on a course of action. Gripping his staff tightly in one hand he turned and threw himself head first into the crevasse and channeled as much of his power as he could, until the end of his staff glowed white-hot.

    In the light Dredmor could see that the bottom of the fissure was full of water. Twin pillars of light formed there and began to rise up towards him. A little distance below a shimmering waterfall seemed to form as great jaws of shadow opened in the depths, drinking in the ocean and letting out the unholy light that burned within the Lord of Folded Waters.

    Enormous waves crashed against the sides of the fissure, reaching up to Dredmor like clapping hands bent on crushing him, only to slam into the walls of sound thrown off of Xavierson’s mighty weapon. As he plummeted towards a seemingly inevitable meeting with the chthonic god below Dredmor pulled his arm back and hurled the staff down into the maelstr-



    (To be concluded...)
     
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  3. doorhandle

    doorhandle Member

    This is an amazing sequence: keep it up!
    Also, Staf of THX made me crack up, and the idea of justice/fate litteraly being blind gods and thus needing to hear you to affect you is very cool.