mattswritingaccount t1_je1y3kj wrote

Neutral Ground

* * *


First, it was the humans.


They came into our mines, came into our homes. At first, they were reasonable. Firm, perhaps, but reasonable. They wanted weapons of war, swords and hammers by the plenty. Armor if we could spare it, but mostly weapons. They cared very little for defense, leaning instead into the offensive side of their inherent nature.

Clink. Clong.

As neutral parties to all sides, we insisted we could only sell them a marginal amount. No more than the seasonally-agreed upon amounts, and only implements designed for farming and agriculture. Weapons of war were against the treaties. The humans left, but only after many words of venom were thrown our way.

We did not care. We had our pride as dwarves to carry us through, and trade often did not favor the loser.


Next came the orcs. They, too, wanted instruments of war. Where humanity wanted weaponry, they wanted armors of steel and iron. Chest plates of bronze, shields of iron and full suits of steel, anything and everything we could spare to keep their soldiers alive in the coming war. A war against, in their words, those “man-heathens that walk their sacred lands.”

Clang. Spang… Clong!

We told them the same answer. Dwarves were neutral, we could not take sides. Unless the orcs wanted their yearly allotment of farming equipment, there was little we could provide them. When they left our home, they left under much the same foreboding attitude as did the humans.

We should have heeded the warnings, but we did not.


The day the war came to our home is one no dwarf will ever forget. They came under pretense, hiding under the flag of negotiation to get around our guards. Once the forward guards were slaughtered, the bulk of the human army pressed forward, entering our home in force. It did not take us long to respond in kind, but betrayal lurked at our rear gates.

Spang… Clonk.

The orcs, aware of mankind’s attempt to steal our weaponry for themselves, made their own moves into our home at the same moment. They pushed past our southern gates while we were distracted by the humans at our northern front. If we’d only been forced to fight on one side, perhaps we would have had a chance. But to fight on dual fronts, both surprise attacks, and when many of our kin were not in a place to effectively fight back?

It was a massacre.



The sword was ready. I did not inspect the blade as I sharpened it; I already knew from the sounds of the blade as it sang while I hammered that it was forged to perfection. My breastplate was already polished to a high sheen, ready to show the face of terror reflected on both orc and human alike. All that was left was to finish the edge of the sword.

My kind was now scattered to the four winds, left to our own devices while humanity and orc kind fought over our scraps. I would be surprised if even a quarter of us remained alive. But, as they would soon find out, they had made one critical mistake.

They’d left me alive. I would show them the error of this judgment and bring justice for my people – using the weaponry that humanity so desperately wanted forged, and the armor that the orcs wanted for their own.

One soul, and one corpse, at a time.


mattswritingaccount OP t1_jdj9701 wrote

>When the chief of the orc tribe told Goog that "violence isn't always the answer", and that Goog was "perpetuating harmful orcish stereotypes" with his actions, Goog punched. This did not go over as well as Goog hoped.

HAH! laughed out loud at this bit. :D Good story, always have to try turning it off and on first before calling IT. :D


mattswritingaccount t1_j5wmg2g wrote


mattswritingaccount t1_j5wmcls wrote

Heh, thanks. Wasn't picturing any particular model in my head, but also kinda figured any era tank from WWI to modern day would likely make quick work of a dragon at point blank range. So if I had to choose one as a model, then yeah, the M46 Patton is pretty on-the-money


mattswritingaccount t1_j5vilfs wrote

There is always a chance of failure. Every spell, every cast, every fireball thrown will forever come with a remote possibility that something will fizzle… some component won’t be of the correct potency… or a word wasn’t spoken with the correct enunciation. Every mage, from the greenest of students just entering the academies across the kingdom to the eldest of the sages across the land - we all know this to be the basest of facts.

Failure is always a possibility. But today, of all days, failure was not supposed to have been an option. Every component was meticulously sourced to be perfect. Every word was rehearsed, every flick of a wand and every casting of a ward burned into muscle memory until every participant could do the movements in their sleep. Nothing was left up to chance. The summoning of a hero from another world was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, bound by fate and limited to a single moment in time by a particular flow of the ley lines.

It had to be perfect.

Nothing could be left to chance.

So of course, something had to go wrong.

At the very apex of the spell, just as the magic began to reach through time and space in search of a hero – the dragon attacked. The impact of the massive creature’s landing was enough to topple a few candles, and I saw the look of desperation and dismay cross the king’s face as the spell flickered. The sounds of dying men outside of the castle walls reached our ears, but we had our priority. I steeled my nerves and continued pouring my essence into the spell, hoping against hope that my son wasn’t one of the dying men outside.

A hazy form began to take shape in the wide area before us, and I could already tell that our spell had failed. The form that had appeared was not human at all. Instead, it was rectangular, boxy almost, with a circular shape atop the mass.

It appeared to be quite large, easily double the size of the largest of our horse-drawn carriages, and barely able to fit within the confines of our summoning circle. But to stop the summons now would invite calamity, so all the gathered mages continued the flow of mana as best as they could.

Finally, the spell was complete, and I stared in a mixture of awe and shock at the building we’d accidentally pulled from some other world. And a building it must be, for what else could it be? It was massive, clad in metal, and, though not quite as rectangular as I’d initially thought, quite boxy. A dome-shaped platform rested neatly atop the center of the mass, with a thick pipe of unknown function protruding directly from within. An odd-geared mesh ran the length of each side of the box, but beyond that, the box itself was fairly unremarkable.

We’d hoped for a hero. We’d summoned a building.

Before any of us could speak, the wall behind us crumbled as the dragon began to make his way into the summoning room. I dived for cover, pulling the king along with me, and screamed for someone to grab the queen and princess. As I instinctively put myself in front of the king, knowing that, at best, I’d only slow the dragon’s killing stroke marginally, something caught my eye.

The dome atop the building was moving.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl as the pipe attached to the dome adjusted to point directly at the attacking dragon. The dragon did not pay it any attention as it feasted on the mages against that side of the wall, but for those of us nearest the throne room, we could only watch, transfixed, as it moved. It came to a stop with a jerk and seemed to consider the dragon as if inspecting it.

I do not remember the next few moments. The blast of sound that hit everyone assembled was enough to throw us to the ground in agony. Gasping in pain, I managed to squeak out the words to an area-wide heal, enough to repair some of the damage to the ears of those in the general vicinity around me, but I knew from the blood trickling down both mine and my king’s ears that nearly all of us would need more healing very shortly. I tried to pull myself to my feet, but the concussion from the blast still had me very unsteady.

When I did manage to stand, I finally looked toward the dragon – and very nearly collapsed again, this time in shock. The body of the dragon was still twitching in its death throes, though its head and the vast majority of its upper torso had simply… vanished, though from the pink mist everywhere I had a general idea where it might have gone. Additionally, a good portion of the castle walls behind it had disappeared as well, though some of it had collapsed into rubble that now lay scattered as debris around the body of the dragon.

I gaped in astonishment as the building rumbled once, twice, then made another loud noise that sounded like a pop. A small door at the top of the circular dome popped open, and a rather large man with close-cut hair emerged from the interior of the building. He was extremely muscular, more so than any farmer or warrior I’d seen to that point in my life, and he pulled himself out of the building with ease. With a grin that split his face wide open, he pulled a slim white box out of his pocket and fished a white cylinder out of it, and stuck it in his mouth, setting it on fire with a small metal box.

He gave me a wave, which I meekly returned. It would be a while before any of us could speak to him; few of us could stand at the moment, after all, and I doubted the language translation magic had worked correctly in the first place.

Regardless. The spell might have gone wrong, but it had still worked, to a degree. We might not have gotten the hero we’d expected. But perhaps we’d gotten exactly what we needed.


mattswritingaccount t1_j3nzlap wrote



“I don’t understand.” Whispered. Screamed. Often with tears streaming from her eyes, though oddly enough many times not. Regardless, those were the words that would forever haunt my soul, a string of confusion that danced ever so delicately against the terrified cries of the dead and dying around us. Each loop was supposed to bring us one step closer to absolution, salvation at the cost of the wholesale slaughter of an entire alternate dimension’s worth of people.

A moment’s rest before the next string was pulled, and her eyes met mine. Desperation flared within those pools of blue. We both knew hope was likely futile; no matter how many times we dived into this tunnel, we’d only emerge on the other side in yet another horrific masterpiece. It was simply one of many outcomes, each more horrible than the next.

But we had to continue. It was our only hope and the only way we knew to get home.

After the next dimension shattered around us and a billion-billion souls met their sudden and immediate demise, a rare moment of quiet drifted between us. I realized with a start that we had come to an uninhabited dimension. There was quite literally nothing here to die, nothing here to destroy, nothing at all, well… at all.

For once, there was time enough to be free. At last.

Trembling, my hand broached the distance toward her and met her halfway. Her skin was clammy, cold, trembling with the fear and loathing that I knew my own shook with. Hell, we’d watched – no, experienced as accidental gods – how many uncountable universes perish now by our own hands? My voice cracked once as I spoke. “O… only a few more to go, love.”

“We will get home, right?”

I hesitated. I already knew the answer. This experiment had never been successful in any prior attempt. No other test subject had ever returned. None.

As the worlds started to tear around us again and a tear pulled at my eye, I whispered, “Yes. We will get home. I promise.”