Welcome back to Diary of Death. This series takes thematic approach to narrating a campaign of the board game Kingdom Death: Monster. If you’d like to know more about the game, you can watch our interview with the game’s creator, Adam Poots, and if you’d like to see how the monster showdowns play out, you can check out our gameplay demo from GenCon 2015. The previous part of Diary of Death can be found here.
Even other men had proven to be monsters in the eternal darkness of this Kingdom Death.
The visit from the Butcher had shaken the entire settlement, although it finally solidified their understanding of their place in this world. They were not apart from this world, they were a part of this world, and they would accept the darkness for what it was. No longer would they fear, no longer would they suffer the endless mental torment of wondering when things would change.
Three babies, Cheer, Tolerance and Morose, were soon to be born to the survivors of Forlorn, and games of skill were organized to celebrate the coming births. Calm, Resolve, Triumph, and Surly would face off against one another in three events—a race, a debate, and a fist fight.
Triumph easily bested the others in the foot race, followed by Resolve and Calm. Surly tore her Achilles tendon during the race, coming in a distant fourth place.
Feeling confident from her race win, Triumph deftly out debated Resolve and Surly. Frustrated by her injured tendon, Surly allowed her rage to get the better of her. Calm could not keep up with the deft, mentally taxing arguments raised by Triumph and Resolve, and apathetically withdrew from the debate.
Having the most experience fighting with fist and tooth, Calm easily bested Triumph, Surly and Resolve.
During the match, Calm picked Resolve up and threw him into the Lantern Horde. Resolve’s left arm sheared off at the shoulder as he struck the horde violently. The impact knocked free a lantern, which crashed to the ground at Surly’s feet, blazing forth with an intense light before sputtering out.
Surly took another lantern from the horde and began to shake it. The lantern shot out an intense blue light, growing hot in her hands, burning them, scarring them a bright red color and sowing the seed of an idea in her mind. The survivors would use her experiment with the lantern to create an oven with which they could take advantage of the heat from the lanterns.
Having gained nothing from their fight with the Butcher, the survivors crafted only a simple Bone Sickle to gather herbs while hunting. As they did so, an enormous herd of Screaming Antelope trampled by in the near distance. Sensing an opportunity, Calm, Triumph, Tragedy, and Sorrow set off to hunt one of the beasts.
The party easily located the trail of the passing animals by the large, rotting teeth strewn across the beaten path, a few of which, still usable, were gathered by Calm and Triumph. As they followed the trail of trampled acanthus plants, they stumbled upon an antelope, freshly killed, being devoured by the largest lion that any of them had ever seen.
Taking advantage of its preoccupation with the antelope corpse, the survivors attacked the lion. During the fight, Sorrow sustained numerous cuts, gouges and scrapes, but otherwise the survivors emerged unscathed.
As they made their way back to the settlement with the lion’s body, Tragedy began to tease and poke fun at Sorrow about his poor performance during the fight. Words became more heated as Sorrow began to taunt Tragedy about living in his twin sister’s shadow. Eventually, the words turned to blows as they entered the light of Forlorn.
Before the fight could be broken up by the other survivors, Sorrow suffered a gaping chest wound, nearly killing him. As the survivors tended to Sorrow, the sound of metal rapidly striking stone echoed out of the darkness.
A troop of well armed, intimidating strangers, each fully encased in metal armor, marched into the light of Forlorn. Without speaking, the King’s men marched past the survivors, tapping their lantern halberds against the ground in front of each in silent judgement.
Stopping in front of one of the women who had originally awakened with Resolve and the others, one of the King’s men suddenly thrust his halberd through her midsection, killing her instantly. Turning to the center of Forlorn, he slammed the butt of the halberd into the ground, lodging it there, with the woman still dangling from its deadly spike.
Stunned, knowing that they would be no match for so many armed and armored opponents, the survivors could only watch as the troop marched back into the darkness. The clang of their armored feet against the cold stone faces slowly faded, and the strangers were gone.
As if drawn by the light of the lantern halberd, a hooded figure emerged from the darkness, stopping to stare in the direction the armored soldiers had marched off in. Seemingly satisfied that they would not be returning, the man, carrying a unique sword with an ornate handle, entered Forlorn.
A look of disgust crossed his face as he beheld the woman impaled on the halberd. The man introduced himself as a Twilight Knight and offered to train the survivors in martial combat in exchange for a few supplies. Determined to never stand by helplessly again, Triumph offered the Knight what he needed and began to train with him.
As Triumph trained, the rest of the survivors began to fashion sturdy shelters to use as their permanent homes.
Harnessing the warmth of the lanterns and the comforting cover of the hovels they’d built, the survivors began to form even more intimate bonds with each other.
Resolve and Comfort gave birth to another girl, whom they named Warmth. The birth was unlike any that the survivors had experienced before.
As Comfort raised the child to her chest, mere moments after her birth, Warmth vanished. In a split second, Warmth returned, fully grown with a lifetime of experience and a shock of bright red hair.
She told the other survivors of the domain of the Eternal Dreamer, and how the Dreamer had gifted her with the Dream of the Beast, which would help them all slay their nightmarish foes.
The Twilight Knight hailed Warmth as a Savior, and encouraged the survivors to take heart in the blessing that they’d been given by the Eternal Dreamer. Having finished training with Triumph, the Knight left the settlement, promising to return in the future.
Having spent enough time to recover, Sorrow sought out Tragedy and challenged him to a duel, intent on repaying his rival for the grievous wound that he had taken when they’d fought the first time.
Tragedy agreed to the duel, and the two squared off against one another. As they fought, hours slipped past. Neither combatant could gain the upper hand on the other. Respect began to form between the two, and that respect blossomed into something far deeper. Their rivalry shifted into an unshakable partnership. Neither would ever look to any other survivor for love, comfort, or support again.
Amazed by their newfound bond, the others realized the power that such a bond could hold, growing even stronger as a settlement.
The entire settlement was abuzz with positive energy. The birth of Warmth, and the unshakable bond between Tragedy and Sorrow filled everyone with hope. As Calm, Triumph, Surly and Resolve, determined not to let the loss of an arm stop him from hunting, prepared for another hunt, the entire settlement gathered to see them off and wish them well.
As they moved through the darkness, the hunting party stumbled across the scene of their very first hunt, filling Surly and Calm with an electrifying excitement as they relived the tale for the other two survivors. Overloaded with grief after hearing tales of her father’s exploits in that first hunt, Triumph fell to her knees, giving in to despair momentarily.
A roaring cacophony arose as Resolve and Surly attempted to comfort Triumph. An enormous herd of antelopes stampeded past the survivors, fleeing a terrifying monster. As it passed, each survivor caught the faintest glimpse of the beast that had caused the stampede. They could not agree on exactly what the monster looked like, but all remembered a face that resembled a human baby with a stalk protruding from its forehead.
As the stampede had thundered past, they had seen one of the largest antelope separate from the herd and move through a nearby copse of trees. Entering the copse, they noticed delicious looking fruit hanging, untouched, on many of the branches. Sensing something amiss, Triumph refused to eat the tantalizing fruit.
Resolve, Surly, and Calm were unable to resist. After eating their first piece, Surly and Resolve felt the acid of the fruit as it ate at their throats.Even knowing the danger to their health, they were both sorely tempted to eat another fruit, yet both managed to resist.
Unable to feel the damage that was being done to his body, Calm continued to eat. Before the others could convince him to stop and move away from the trees, he ate enough fruit to harm his torso and head.
Finally free of the temptation of the Banquet Trees, the survivors moved out of the shadow of the branches to find their quarry calmly grazing a patch of acanthus plants.
Although it noticed them immediately, the antelope continued to graze the plants at its feet.
Assuming the antelope would be an easy kill, the survivors leaped to the attack.
Triumph and Calm easily hit and wounded the monster as Surly’s arrow shot wide. Resolve, more cautiously, attempted to glean what the future of this fight might hold for the survivors.
The beast spun away from Triumph and hit her with a devastating kick from its hind legs before dashing away from the survivors.
Calm guzzled down his frenzy drink while Triumph struck back at the antelope. The beast panicked, letting out an inhuman shriek. Springing away from Triumph, it landed on its belly and slid away on the giant teeth of its under-mouth.
The survivors gave chase and continued to press the attack, nimbly dodging as the antelope attempted to bite, kick, and trample them.
Surly, tangled in her bowstring, was too slow as the antelope made yet another charge for her. Lowering its head, the beast finally managed to trample her, catching her left eye with the tip of one horn, gouging it out in a spray of blood before sliding away on its teeth again as the other survivors moved in to help her.
Lost to his frenzy, Calm ran straight for the animal, wounding it but placing himself directly in the path of its next charge.
Resolve began to gather acanthus plants, fearing the beast may stop to eat some which would heal some of the damage they’d done to the it, while the others continued to do battle with it.
Before he could gather them all, the antelope darted towards one, just as he’d feared it would, eating the plant and trampling over Calm yet again.
A well placed arrow from Surly nearly brought the beast down, yet it remained on its feet.
His rage had grown each time the monster had trampled him and, his weapon forgotten in his blinding fury, Calm attacked it with fist and tooth, landing a devastating blow and driving the beast to the ground, killing it.
Initially they’d assumed that the antelope would be easy prey, but had Calm been able to feel the punishment he’d endured, he would not have survived the fight. They would be more cautious in the future when dealing with these beasts.
As they returned to Forlorn carrying a trove of resources collected from the antelope, one of the stone faces near the settlement began to swell, stretch, and move. Before their eyes the face grew to gigantic proportions, its mouth opening widely, with a deep, near impenetrable blackness contained within …