A story about what all the defeated keepers from DK2 might get up to in the afterlife – grumble, complain and fight, mostly. I recently rediscovered Dungeon Keeper and felt compelled to write this.
The Fallen Ones
Where do fallen keepers go when they die? It's never been entirely clear, but we can presume it's part of the realm of the Dark Gods. A forgotten, dusty part, for the evil powers do not encourage failure, but there is at least ale to drink, seats to rest upon – and company, until the end of ages. This is their reward and their curse. They like to pass the time telling stories.
Gorbagan had just finished sharing the tale of his defeat at the hands of Lord Sigmund. As Gorbagan told it (and he was prone to exaggeration), he'd never had any kind of chance to establish himself before at least fifteen high-level giants came and hammered his dungeon heart into a mangled ruin, before laying hands on the unfortunate keeper and tossing his lifeless corpse into one of the rivers of lava that traversed the land of Emberglow.
"And that was that for me," Gorbagan finished, and drained his drink. There was quiet for a moment as the others brooded on Gorbagan's and their own dark fates.
"Burn," Lord Nemesis said after a while.
"You got fired all right," Dante snickered from somewhere nearby.
"This is no time for mirth!" Asmodeus spoke up from his seat by the bar. Nemesis and Dante turned to face the weakling who challenged them, but Asmodeus was grinning.
"Our brother keeper's dreams, reduced to ashes."
There was a general weak titter around the room, and even Nemesis smirked. Apparently the afterlife was short of entertainment.
Gorbagan's expression was sour. "Not funny."
"Don't worry, you lava better time of it next time," remarked Belial.
"Nay! In the face of such giant difficulties, 'tis no wonder you were slain." Asmodeus couldn't resist joining in.
"At least I didn't manage to get myself surrounded by singing Sylvan Elves," Gorbagan hit back.
Asmodeus made a face. "Well, I had the disadvantage of terrain. You try defending a castle built on a swamp."
Malachi groaned. "Don't start that, pray. I can't sit through another evening of Roger the Shrubber and anarcho-syndicalist communes. Can we keep the Python references to a minimum?"
Gorbagan, drunk and maudlin, sighed deeply. He was determined to brood on his defeat and was not in the mood for their jokes. "So many of our dark brethren have taken to building their lairs at the roots of volcanoes. Where is the wisdom in that?
"Nigh on impossible to defend," agreed Morgana, softly.
"Rock, stone, and fortified walls, that's how you do it," suggested crafty Belial. "I wonder indeed that anyone would choose to set up on an island in the lake of fire. What you need is some building land to start you off."
"It's not what you start with, it's what you do with it," put in Kronos, perched on a bar stool and sipping his drink. "Granted, not everyone can be a master of strategy…"
"It's not a matter of strategy," said the harsh-voiced Raksha, "but of who is weak and who is strong!"
It went quiet – Raksha had a habit of silencing the others. Sometimes they wondered why there were so few female keepers, but then again the men weren't sure they could cope with more than one like Raksha. Her temper was as fiery as the lava of Sparklydell, and no-one had dared to ask her how she came to lose her realm and end up banished here.
"Never really got going," Gorbagan grumbled into his beer.
"I know the feeling," commiserated Dante. "The things I could've achieved…"
"Ronin was dead, and the best part of his forces slain. Their siege was breaking about my walls when my doom befell me." Asmodeus had reason to feel hard done by, having been conquered quite early in the campaign. "Mine is widely regarded as 'that' level. How could I have fallen?"
"It burned down, fell over and sank into the swamp… argh!" Dante yelped as Malachi jabbed him with a cunningly-folded beer mat.
"I would've made him Cuthbert the Four Times Martyred," whispered Malleus, who smelt of undead and was largely shunned by the others for his unwholesome activities.
"Beaten by monks…"
"Elves…" Asmodeus growled.
"Skeletons and vampires." Malachi shivered, edging away from Malleus.
"It's because ye sat on yer backsides," remarked Drako merrily. "Attack, attack, attack! And back in time for a pint." He'd previously been flicking peanuts at Morgana to see if he could make her cry, but entering into the debate was much more fun.
Raksha sniffed in disdain. "I can see that it worked for you."
"Would've done," Drako was stubborn. "Nearly did."
"He has a point." Harkan and Carrion had remained quiet up til now, finding the lower keepers' bickering tiresome. It was Harkan that spoke up, addressing his neighbour. "Hesitation: that was your great error."
"I know not why I entrusted you, Carrion, with a task of such great import as seeking the allegiance of the Dark Angels. That cost all of usdearly, and me in particular!" Nemesis looked on the verge of one of his rages, but Fabius placed a placating hand on his father's arm.
"I didn't hesitate," Carrion spoke up in his own defence. "If you are going to welcome the great Dark Angels into your realm, it is incumbent upon you to make your lands fit to receive them." He narrowed his eyes and looked at Harkan. "If my crime was hesitation, then his here was cowardice."
The blue keeper snarled. "Dare to repeat those words!"
"You feared to attempt the bold deeds required to attract the Dark Angels. Hesitation, as I said."
"Weakness," agreed Raksha.
"Go in there, bash some heads, never mind if you take a few hits on the way – and if you're taken out, well, you made a bloody mess to be proud of." Drako still clung to his personal philosophy in death. He cheerfully claimed Harkan's seat as the two keepers fell into an undignified scuffle.
"Not these two as well," murmured Morgana. A studious and bookish keeper, she had been hoping for some peace in the afterlife at least. Belial rubbed his temples. Quite apart from Harkan and Carrion's squabbling, the noise coming from the corner of the room was all too familiar, and seemed to kick off whenever Nemesis was otherwise occupied.
"No, your imp trespassed first!"
"I saw you casting Sight of Evil…"
"I was looking for my rogue…"
"See? He admits spying on me!"
"He was going for a walk! You captured and tortured my loyal servant!"
"Don't think I don't know what happened to my imps, false brother!"
"You always were Father's favourite!"
Faust and Fabius were facing off again, and that never ended well. They'd inherited their father's temper in equal measure, but none of his restraint or ability to see the larger picture. Fabius was well-versed in spells, but Faust the physically stronger of the two and more talented with devices and traps, and he had his brother in an arm-lock pinned over the table while Fabius wriggled and began to chant something horrible.
Nemesis, the venerable master keeper and overlord of all of them, stepped between his sons and bashed their heads together with infernal force. The two young keepers reeled, temporarily stunned. Faust lost his balance and rolled onto the floor.
"Is it any wonder we fell? Look at us! Look at us!"
Nemesis slammed his tankard down hard enough to dent the table. "I am finished with you lot. When I've done my time in here, I swear I'll go over to the heroes and live out whatever existence is granted to me in goodness and light! I renounce evil forever!"
He stormed out, leaving a moment of quiet.
Morgana shook her head sadly. "He's finally lost his mind."
"The poor old fellow." Even Carrion looked morose.
Faust had ceased seeing stars and had got up off the floor. "My brother drove him to it," he said.
"Didn't! You did!"
"Peace in death," hissed Malleus, leaning towards a very unhappy Malachi. "I should have known better to expect that."
"You have something unpleasant under your fingernail," said Malachi and excused himself.
So it continued until the sequel came out.