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.
Chaos erupted as the survivors began to speak, yell, and shriek at one another. Panic began to take hold as a realization quickly dawned on the survivors. They had lost their common language.
The frightened babble ceased in an instant as a piercing cry cut through the noise. All eyes turned to Resolve, as happened so many times before. His lone arm raised, palm out, he began to speak, and his words held power. The strength of his conviction infused his words, wrenching the other survivors from the clutches of the madness that had stolen their common language.
Nearly as quickly as it had come, the panic subsided. Each other survivor, via Resolve’s strength of will, regained a common tongue. One after the next bowed their respect to him. The first to do so was Calm, who thanked their father of words. As each survivor echoed Calm’s gratitude, the words wrapped themselves around Resolve, fundamentally changing him, truly cementing his place as their Father of Words.
Disaster averted, the survivors set to work constructing a Plumery in order to make use of the resources gathered from the Phoenix. During construction, after intently studying the seemingly endless faces carved into the ground, Calm began to attempt to mimic the process, sculpting small faces into the pillars and onto the walls of the Plumery.
Fascinated by his efforts, the others began to follow his example, at first merely altering their existing construction, eventually creating free form sculptures representing their lives, experiences, and losses.
In the midst of the burst of creativity, the survivors welcomed the birth of twins Boon and Doubt. The parents, Regard and Cheer, had been expecting the babies to disappear into the savior dream, but the twins remained, as the other mundane children born in Forlorn had.
Shortly after the birth of the twins, the clang of armored feet rang out from the darkness. A double column of heavily armored men, identical to the one that had left the lantern halberd pressed firmly into the ground in the middle of Forlorn, approached.
Equal parts nervousness and dread filled the survivors as the strangers marched ever closer to the light of the lantern horde.
No voice called orders, yet the two lines split at the edge of the light, one skirting each side of the settlement. The last man in line stopped as he reached the light. He stood motionless until the two lines re-formed their column on the other side of the settlement, continuing their march into the darkness beyond.
A pressure began to mount, radiating from the armored figure.
He said nothing, he stood motionless, and yet his message was clear. Calm, Surly, Warmth, and Burden stepped forward. The man didn’t react, but the pressure continued to mount, suffusing the air, becoming nearly palpable as the survivors approached.
Clambering onto a large stone face nearby, Surly took aim with her bow. As she let her Claw Headed arrow fly her vision narrowed, the pressure that had been building seemed to constrict around her chest, squeezing the air from her lungs.
The sensation lasted for a mere moment. Surly looked to the armored man, knowing in her heart that her arrow had struck true. The man stood motionless, the arrow nowhere in sight.
Calm moved toward the man, guzzling his frenzy drink on the run and fell to the ground as it began to course through his veins.
Burden moved past Calm, now supine on the ground, and swung his mace as hard as he could.
The battle pressure took hold of him just as it had Surly.
Unlike Surly, Burden was within arm’s reach of the man and realized, nearly too late, that the pressure was a direct result of the supernatural skill that the armored figure possessed.
The man easily predicted Burden’s attack, lowering his halberd with lightning speed, nearly skewering him before smashing his halberd handle across Burden’s shin.
Feeling the pressure lapse momentarily as the man’s attention was turned towards Burden, Warmth rushed in, smashing her zanbato down across the man’s helm, staggering him.
Coursing with adrenaline, Warmth swung her zanbato again, but the moment had passed, the pressure returning with such force that it physically halted her weapon mid-swing.
Noticing a pattern to the man’s movement, Burden surged toward the man, smashing his mace directly into the invisible wall of pressure.
As before, the butt of the lantern halberd shot towards Burden’s leg. At the last moment, Burden shifted his balance, taking a glancing strike that would otherwise have shattered bones.
The man shouldered Warmth out of the way, in the same motion swinging his halberd into Burden’s legs, knocking him to the side with the powerful sweep of the halberd blade.
He walked a few steps away from the four survivors and began to rhythmically pound his halberd against the ground. As the rhythm increased in tempo and complexity, the pressure returned to full force.
Calm and Warmth regained their feet as Burden dashed in to strike the monster from behind.
As the pressure assaulted him, the pattern behind the man’s movements and posture became clear to Burden. The pressure sloughed away as the realization struck that Burden could now mimic these same patterns of movement, turning them to his advantage.
Warmth dashed forward, intent on taking advantage in the lapse of the man’s guard.
As Warmth closed to attack, Surly let fly an arrow, striking a gap in the man’s armor. Instead of a spray of blood, acid spewed forth.
Both Warmth and Burden managed to duck behind their shields, narrowly avoiding the caustic substance.
Surging, Burden swung his mace, confident in his ability to bypass the battle pressure. Despite his newfound prowess, he still hadn’t quite managed to master the use of his whistling mace, striking himself in the torso and arm. His swing came clumsily, and the man easily deflected it with his halberd blade.
Warmth brought her zanbato to bear against the man, who attempted to counter attack her with a backswing of his halberd handle.
Expecting the counter attack, Warmth easily deflected the blow.
As Calm moved in to striking distance the man turned his attention back to Burden. Burden, prepared for the attack, dodged and blocked as the armored fiend desperately sought an opening in his defenses.
His attack on Burden unsuccessful, the man attempted to spear Warmth with the spike atop the weapon. She too had prepared for the attack and avoided the thrust.
Burden’s mace bit into the stomach armor of the man, driving him back a few steps.
Surly launched another arrow at the man, missing as he lunged back and away from Burden.
Calm, finally close enough to engage, struck their enemy across his collar and his knees, heavily damaging him. The damage seemed to redouble the pressure that none but Burden had managed to adjust to.
Determined to strike the man a killing blow, Warmth drew the dagger that she always carried, attempting to overcome the pressure with a more nimble weapon. The dagger did not strike the man, but the speed and agility of the weapon seemed to cut through the pressure.
Drawing on her inner lantern to press the attack, Warmth cleaved into the man with her zanbato, driving him to the ground and killing him.
As his body hit the ground, a swirling force escaped from the gash she’d left in his armor, enmeshing Warmth, attempting to penetrate the skin of her chest.
As the curse wound round her torso, the faintest sound, less than the gentlest whisper, came from on high. The curse dispersed before it could take hold, leaving no lasting effect on the savior.
That night, everyone in the settlement had the same unsettling dream. Each dreamt of a giant man controlling their lives from the darkness above …