A re-up of a very, very old fanfiction that I wrote several years ago. Unfortunately, I lost the originals which had all of the relevant authors notes and citations. There are references to movies, books, games, pop culture all the way through and I have no idea what they are, or more specifically what they are. And I'm not going to back through it all to find them all.
My Beta did recommend some extensive rewriting in areas, but I disagree with her on that point: I'm not the same guy now, as I was when I wrote it. So if I start rewriting, the style, language etc won't match up which will essentially ruin the flow of the whole thing - and I'm not going to rewrite the whole thing either.
On a separate note: Thanks to my beta reader, Nachtrae for doing her usual fantastic job in going through all 24 chapters of this fanfiction.
Chapter 1: Prologue:
Confessions of a Dungeon Keeper
I know I can't see you, but I know you're there. I know because you're sitting in front of your computer screen at home, in a cybercafé or perhaps even in your office, and you're in the process of reading my words. You are about to get the whole story about where I have spent the past seven or eight years of my life, fighting a war, fighting a campaign that has lead to the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of warriors.
Adolf Hitler? In my opinion he is a little school boy whose sulking because he didn't make the cut for his school's football team. I'm not proud of what I've done, or more importantly, what I had to become to ensure that I could actually come home. I killed, tortured and massacred my way through quite a few sovereign nations. The smallest of those nations was "Eversmile" before I conquered it and renamed it "Brauna Hauk," and that nation was about the size of Belgium. The largest of these nations, is arguably the size of France. The warriors numbered in the thousands. The civilians, number in the millions. Hitler killed seven. Stalin killed ten. I killed over fifteen million non-combatants – women and children – and I didn't blink while doing it.
I know what I was at the outset. It was easy to say that I was human. I now know what I became: A Demon Price. Moreover, I will not apologize for my actions because I'd didn't feel guilty for them then. I won't start feeling guilty for it now. I did what I did because of who I had become. I was Cameron Hunter. However, when things got taken to the "next level" due to a freak lightning storm that sent about fifty million volts of electricity through my computer, and in to me, I should have vaporized on the spot. If that had happened, the world would probably be better for it. Which world you ask? The one I went to or this one? I'd say it would have been better for both.
All I ever wanted was to come home. I had left somebody behind, and she had been in the room with me that fateful day. I had not wanted to leave her, but I didn't have a choice. My girlfriend was in the room with me that day, I've returned and well, she's gone. I'm all I have left. Maybe I should have stayed. I don't know. I doubt I ever will. It's true, that this is the last chapter that I will write for my epic tale, and it's funny that I'm writing the first chapter last. Well at least I am finding it funny… but since I got back, quite a long time ago, almost six years ago, I'm finding a lot of unfunny, serious things to be just that: Funny.
However, if you're still reading this at this point, and you still want to hear the rest of my story, then read on. But know that the person, the face and mind that saw these events, and partook in more than one bloody massacre, that ordered death, destruction, chaos and mayhem to be spread throughout lands of peace and harmony is no longer. Cameron Hunter is dead, lost beneath the dark tide that took him over, that he willingly embraced, never knowing that there would be no escaping its tainting touch for all eternity, even after he returned to a "home" that now, holds no meaning to me. The weapon that slew countless millions is here with me, a part of me and it hungers for warm blood to drench it. However, I'll fill you in on that later.
My name is Firestorm, Keeper Firestorm to the masses, the rank and file and rabble that I command through the powers of the Keeper and The Keeper's Law, Overlord of an impressive empire that I conquered so that I can rule it, when my time comes again, with absolute and unending power. I am back in what one would call my home world. I am getting somewhat side tracked from my story. You have a fragment, from the beginning of it, so I will dispense with further pomp and ceremony – you are still reading aren't you? No doubt, some of you are asking why I am revealing this. Read on, and you will learn the answer, but I doubt that you'll like it.
My story begins, on a warm - well relatively warm - summer afternoon in Hong Kong. I don't recall the exact time, but I do recall the exact date – 23rd of July 1996. Sometime in the late morning or early afternoon, and I was on my last summer vacation – last on account of what happened next – playing Dungeon Keeper on my desktop computer. I didn't know it then, but I know it now. The damned thing did not have sufficient surge protection against lighting strikes; otherwise, none of this would have happened. I still remember that I had just started a new game and that's when it happened.
Some time in the early afternoon, with it being typhoon season in Hong Kong, with the wind howling around the apartment blocks, the rain lashing at the windows. My two cats were cowering underneath my bed as if they were trying desperately to somehow evade the fury of the storm. My girlfriend was reading a book on my bed in the opposite corner of the room. Should I have been a little more careful? When that lightning bolt struck the top of the apartment building, I think that the entire bolt of lightning took less than a second to travel from the 23rd floor all the way down to the 13th floor – my lucky number – and for some reason, made a beeline through the wiring. The ground wires must have been broken or something because instead of hitting the ground it surged in to Apartment 13D of World Wide Garden Apartment in Tai Wai, Hong Kong, China and in to my desktop computer, and me.
I don't remember a lot of what happened at that point except that a blinding flash of light sent fires racing through every nerve, muscle, fiber and cell in my body. The pain was unlike anything that I had ever experienced and I understood in those moments, or seconds however long it actually lasted, what the Cruciatus curse from those Harry Potter books would feel like. That brief span of torment was long enough, for me to see the blue fires of hell, my left hand in spasms upon the keyboard, my right with a death grip upon the mouse that either exploded, or crushed in my bone shattering death grip. I felt more than saw another crack of lightning, but I know I heard the roar of spectral thunder and I saw, at least I think I saw, the screen of the computer explode sending slivers of glass, metal, silicon chips and copper wire towards me like a shrapnel grenade.
It was the last thing that I saw or remembered before darkness claimed me.
After a tormenting hell like that, I really did think I was dead and in some form of stasis or purgatory when I woke up. Everything was black and dark around me, the kind of mind numbing darkness where you hold your hand in front of your face, touch your own face with your hands and you still can't see your own fingers. It was the perfect darkness where no light exists. I couldn't see the floor that I my back rested comfortably on, I could not see the walls of the prison in which I lay, nor could I tell just how far above my head the ceiling would be.
Never mind the fact that everything was pitch black, but I figured that I would be wearing rags instead of proper clothes considering that I should have been permanently carbonized as a result of the lightning that engulfed me. I still had all of my clothes, intact, and I instinctively reached into the pocket of my cargo pants and found them there, in the left leg pocket where they should be: My cigarettes and a lighter. Small luxuries, as I sparked my lighter… the Zippo proved to provide a small and very pathetic pool of light that did nothing to illuminate my surroundings. But I managed to light a cigarette, and had to admit that the burning of the nicotine in my lungs before that familiar tingling sensation spread out to my fingers and toes let me know that, at least, I was still alive – either that or God had a sick sense of humor. Admittedly, I had to ask what would be a relatively stupid question out loud, "What the fuck would it take to get some light around here?"
When the lights snapped on suddenly, I went blind and with the grace of a one-leg ballerina, crashed to the floor. Having been in such a midnight dark chamber had left me completely blind for a few moments, even though I could tell that the light was coming from old-fashioned torches in brackets mounted to the walls of a seven-foot wide corridor. At least with a corridor I now had a destination to walk towards, although I was more than a little flash blinded as I staggered my way down that corridor, leaning against the wall as my eyes adjusted to the white light coming from the chamber. I found myself studying the brickwork around me as I walked, the bright red brick walls, and solid stone ceiling overhead – almost anywhere between twenty and thirty feet above my still throbbing head – made one thing, if nothing else, clear to me: I was underground. Things could have turned out differently and I would not have wound up with so much blood upon my hands. However, that's perfect twenty-twenty hindsight talking. I didn't have that benefit at the time. I walked through the door, and found myself staring up at a large light emanating crystal.
I felt even more than a little confused as to what the fuck that was, never mind the little creatures that seemed to be wandering around in circles with a ridiculously oversized pickaxe over one shoulder and a large bag strung to their back. They paused for a moment to look at me, as if I was the latest oddity to pass their way before they continued their never ending circling of the chamber.
"I have been a stranger in a strange land, but not a strange in a land such as this." Gurney Halleck said that in the book "Dune" by Frank Herbert. Given my predicament, I thought it was fitting. I speak and understand more languages than most and gave up after trying English, Bahasa Malaysia, and Mandarin and, in outright desperation, my abominable French to communicate with the little circling creatures. It was at this point that it clicked to me that I was no longer on Planet Earth anymore.
I stared at the large crystal, and I could feel it oozing a raw, almost elemental power that fucked with my mind in a half begging, half pleading and half sexually suggestive tones to come forward and to touch, to caress and feel that power that could be mine if I had the strength to tame it. I never said that I was the most strong willed of people and the lure of power was enough to make me forget for a moment who and, more importantly, where I was. I reached out with one hand.
It was as magnificent as it was beautiful… beautiful to the point of hypnotic and to the point that the sight of it was captivating even as I shielded my eyes from its glow with my one free hand. My other outstretched towards it. The light itself was strange to feel against my skin with its mix of warm and cold, almost as if it possessed a physical strength as it engulfed my hand and pulled me, until I was suddenly in physical contact with the core that was emanating this light. In that moment that I felt something ripple the air around me as something shifted and changed around and within me.
With the suddenness of a damned river breaking free of its restraint, knowledge poured in to my mind, room schematics, layouts and plans. Details of dozens of different creatures and minions ranging from those that would serve me such as Trolls, Bile Demons to my enemies like Rouges, Dwarves, Lords of the Land, and an Avatar. I tried to break my connection to that core but my muscles locked, overridden by something more primal and powerful that I somehow wanted to be.
I felt more powerful, physically, blessed with knowledge that had poured in to me as if I was watching a movie in fast forward, while still understanding all the dialogue, the sound effects, the movements, the plot everything in the space of seconds. It was over as suddenly as it had begun and I cracked my skull against the stone floor for a second time in as many minutes. I thought for a moment that the throbbing that I was hearing was the sound of my heart beating in my head. However, after a few moments, I realized that the source of the heartbeat was actually the pounding, the pulse of life, of my Dungeon Heart that pulsed as I lay in its, now warm, almost comforting glow, like having someone who loves you hold you, and give you anything and everything for you.
I looked around, and felt, somehow, as if I had come home. I stared at it, and the name of the light source, of this feeling of power. It came to me, and it surprised me. I knew it, but I didn't want to believe it was a Dungeon Heart. I was standing next to a Dungeon Heart. So that meant that, by touching it, I was a minion of a Keeper. I looked down and saw that my clothes had a red, fire like tinge that seemed to glow. It was as if the flame, or whatever it was, inhabited my clothing and by extension, me. Then something else occurred to me. What the little brown and black things with big bug like eyes had said to me, "What are your orders, Keeper?"
How could I be a Keeper, if I had communed with the Dungeon Heart? That is when it clicked. I had communed with a Dungeon Heart and I had not taken its color, nor had it taken mine. I looked at the Heart and focused upon the image that I had in my mind: a black pouncing jaguar with golden flames licking at its paws. I was fashioning in my mind the emblem that would decorate my territory, my warriors and my battle standard. The image firmly built in my mind, I slammed both hands, palm first, onto the Dungeon Heart, simply because it seemed to be the right thing to do. Those little creatures, "Imps," my mind whispered to me, their name and their purpose within my domain, suddenly stopped their movement and squealed, high pitched sounds of pain as I saw the symbol burn itself in to their shoulders, the smell of burnt hair and flesh in the air. I felt the burn as well, upon my own shoulders, filling the air with that sickly sweet smell of crisped flesh.
Truthfully, that did not hurt as much as having nearly been zap-fried like a pop tart. However, I knew what I was at this point, and it gave me a moment's pause: I am a Dungeon Keeper, and my new knowledge highlights something of importance: I am an unaligned Keeper. I do not have the strengths and blessings of any of Dark God such as Enkasmine – Count of Deception and Lies, or Kharnax, The War of God and Bloodshed, or Jungald, the Dark Arch-Mage of the Burning Legion, or any other Dark God. None of their blessings and strengths but also unbound to their perverse wills and desires. I had the power to act without conscience, and hesitation, to rise from nothingness to greatness, and to tear asunder all who dare oppose me… but I managed to reign in those instincts.
I closed my eyes and just as the encyclopedia in my mind told me, I could see a map of some form, of everything around me for miles in all directions, and I knew what to do in the dark beneath the surface. Build my dungeon, construct my army, and crush, kill and destroy all who stand against me. Even as I turned to my Imps, giving them their orders, I did not waste my breath, I just screamed telepathically. The Imps are bound me in life and in death, and death is something that every Imp hopes to avoid, "Get to WORK!"
I still did not understand, back then where I was or what I needed to do beyond doing what your average Keeper does. I started with the obvious of securing a solid base of operations was the most important thing that I could do for the moment. Then I would need to meet the natives to gain the answers I needed and most importantly, learn how exactly I was going to get home.
It's funny now when I think back to those early times, when I was first starting out as Keeper with the most basic of Dungeons, that I had a severe disadvantage in having a corporeal form. Being able to brawl with fists and feet would be of little value against the swords and spells that I would face, or against the raw brute strength of Giants, Ogres and Bile Demons. I guess I was smart enough to realize that any of my own minions that had the idea of becoming Keeper would be able to beat the crap out of me. Something that I would have to address when I got the time and believe me, I did address it when the time came.
For the moment, I was more than content to play around with my powers to get a solid feel for them. I found that if I focused my mind, I could get some kind of bird eye view and I used this, passing what I could see to my imps, instructing them to begin digging out the rock walls in to caverns that I would convert into rooms for my future minions to use. It took my imps several hours to complete their work, including tunneling towards one of the portals that exist beneath the ground. I could get the same view from within the Dungeon Heart.
The walls surrounding the portal crumbled and took upon themselves the Jaguar emblem with its stylized flames of black and silver. The Black Flame had arrived in this land, and it made me smile. I turned to my imps and nodded to them as they, with my assistance, began to manifest a Lair, Hatchery and a Training Room, drawing on the magical energy of the world around us. The established treasury had accumulated a fair amount of resources to finance operations. However, with all this power came an intense loneliness. I didn't want humans I could rule. I wanted… friends… equals…. Many would see it as such an odd thing for a Keeper to desire. I figured it was. However, there was not much that I could do about that yet as I looked down upon my minions, who had joined me, having heard the lure of the portal that lead to my domain.
My minions in those early days where as well trained as I was. I trained with them. Together we dodged training dummies with their maces or their chain whips, striking at critical points with pinpoint application of magic and I was quickly becoming proficient with my ability to wield magic. However, I had only the most basic of combat spells at my disposal. The more advanced spells would take time to master, I would need the assistance of first Warlocks, and then Vampires and Dark Mistresses, but that would come later. I had mastered numerous basic spells in the few weeks that I had been here. My minions and I constituted a fighting force of fifteen warriors, not counting the half dozen Imps of course. The only problem with my warriors is that none would score highly on an intelligence test, as they could not understand my questions to them. Giant Flies and their equally large counterparts, Giant Beetles, do not understand much apart from the basic needs of food, shelter and kill anything that does not bear the mark of the Black Flame.
It was when we were expanding the boundaries of my dungeon did we find the first sign of what was to come: War. I thought another Keeper was lurking around, just beyond the boundaries of my domain. "Heroes," was my first thought having seen the passages and tunnels myself and if they were human – well, human after a fashion – and hopefully, they would help me, even if I had to persuade them using not so gentle means, namely torture to get home. It was time to bait a trap and catch some heroes, and hopefully get some information about them, namely, where the heck they were from, just where in all the nine planes of hell 'this place was and see if they could help me get home. I had to catch them. I retreated to the Dungeon Heart, my home beneath the ground, to plan just how to capture a few heroes, even though trying to create a decent prison would be difficult.