The dwarves of Ireland, or the Fir Tollán to use their own tongue, have always been centred in the rugged, windswept hills of western Connacht. For centuries, their cities flourished underneath the quarzite and granite peaks of the Twelve Bens, the Maumturks, the Sheefries and Mweelrea. For centuries, the mountain homes of the Fir Tollán remained independent of British rule, as solid as the hills they had carved out. Dwarven stonemasons and engineers who cut their teeth on the rocks were widely sought out for building fortifications and monuments. Their homelands seemed unassailable.
Until the 1850s.
Some say that it was caused by an attempt to generate electricity by splitting particles of air. Others that it was divine retribution for unspeakable acts. Nobody knows for certain what really happened, but what everyone knows is that the very fabric of reality was torn asunder. What was once a series of impregnable cities became a nightmare where gravity could suddenly reverse, where the unfortunate could take another step and burst into flame, where one could turn a corner and vanish into thin air, only to reappear months later with no warning. Where the humans and dwarves disappeared, to be replaced with the Fomorians. The 'orcs'.
Welcome to the Connacht Disaster Zone.
This is a set of short stories, artwork and other pieces set around an alternative version of Connacht in the 1840s-1920s, partly inspired by several hikes into the area, and partly inspired by the surreal, bleak first person shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl.
Some of the below stories have been gathered into related compilations, with associated artwork:
- The Cruagh Island Affair
- Tales From A Fomorian Detention Centre
- Spycrabs & Warbirds
- Fomorians In Their Own Words: a series of posts wherein Fomorians discuss what being a Fomorian means to them. No artwork yet
These are listed in the order in which I finished them.
- Arrival (~2700 words). Two children arrival at a top secret detention facility for orcs somewhere in Ireland. This is effectively the starting point.
- Porter (~2170 words). Backstory for one side character in Arrival, as suggested by my brother.
- Night Shift (~1730 words). A guard’s internal monologue during the tedious night shift. This is the alternative starting point, being set the same day and in the same place as Arrival.
- Samples (~2200 words). The children in Arrival undergo a biopsy to determine if they have actually been turned into orcs. Neither particularly want to.
- Slave Hunt (~1920 words). Orcish slavers follow an escaped slave into one of the more surreal parts of the disaster zone. This piece contains some of the bizarre effects of the disaster zone (in this case, an area that induces simple temporal lobe seizures).
- First Date (~1980 words). An orc meets her possible future husband, somewhere under the Twelve Bens. Introduces recurring characters Gráinne and Aidan.
- Receiver (~2300 words). One very odd orc finds a way to receive wireless messages from thin air.
- Of Snakes and Birds (~1570 words). An overheard conversation in a pub, and the text of the resulting newspaper column.
- Board Report (~2340 words). The Board of the Connacht Trading Company make an unpleasant discovery. This is the first that focusses on the dwarves.
- Negative Colours (~1470 words). A group of soldiers witness one of the surreal parts of the disaster zone.
- Why Do Humans Constrict (~1400 words). Serpentoids discussing human mating rituals; finished just in time for Valentine’s Day 2020.
- Nightmare (~1270 words). Siobhán having a nightmare about being experimented on.
- Infiltration (2400 words). This depicts a group of orcs raiding a facility somewhere, and is adapted from a chapter in an abandoned longer piece.
- Fomoritis Confirmed (~2080 words). Siobhán and Diarmuid’s reactions to confirmation that they have contracted Fomoritis.
- Spymaster, or In Which The Kingdom of Scandinavia Plans To Troll The British Navy (~1990 words). The Kingdom of Scandinavia don’t like Britain, and try to come up with a way to interfere with them.
- Site Reconnaisance (~1860 words). Partly inspired by the infamous Site Recon mission in XCOM: Enemy Within. An inspection of a remote outpost makes an unnerving discovery.
- Maladaptive Vigilance (~1725 words). It occurred to me that hypervigilance (being permanently on high alert for threats) might be a useful adaptation to living in the disaster zone. This is written from the perspective of another orc being held in the same detention centre as Siobhán and Diarmuid.
- A Useful Politican (~1050 words). A follow-up to Spymaster (or In Which The Kingdom of Scandinavia Plans To Troll The British Navy), wherein somebody sends a letter to a politician to stir up trouble.
- Snakes Should Be Sexy (According to Drunken Orcs) (~1390 words). Snake people are often portrayed with breasts, for no apparent reason other than “ZOMG SEXY!!1!” They would probably find this annoying and idiotic.
- Interception of An Enciphered Message From Orc-Held Territory (~1930 words). The Wireshark Corps detect an enciphered radio message coming from Fomorian territory! Could they have built a functioning transmitter?
- Are We Friends Or…More? A mini webcomic in which Siobhán starts to suspect that she’s in love in Diarmuid…and Maebh.
- Submarine Dropoff (~1290 words). Somebody drops a few crates of guns off the coast of Connemara, and the Dwarven Inquistion are puzzled.
- Big Head Mode Is Not Conducive To Effective Scouting (~1010 words). Much as I love the classic Big Head Mode effect from video games, I don’t think it’s really going to be as…harmless as usually portrayed. Neither does the banshee who suffers it.
- FITOW: Preface. An pair of open letters covering the perspective of somebody who was forcibly turned into an orc.
- FITOW: The Clerk’s Daughter. The daughter of two ex-slavers discusses life in the disaster zone.
- FITOW: The Nurse. A Fomorianised nurse explains the physical changes that happened to her.
- FITOW: Mstr D. A recurring character broadly explains how he came to be turned into an orc, and what actually changed.
- Serpentoid Site Scouts (~1300 words). Humanoid snakes scouting out a site…when something unexpected happens.
- Fomorian Fantasies of The Future (~780 words). Gráinne starts daydreaming about what she thinks a futuristic would would be like.
- Rage Against The Mirror Self (~1100 words). Siobhán does not like what she thinks she sees in the mirror.
- The Dwarven Inquisition Are Expected (~1620 words). Unlike the Spanish one, the dwarves are expected. After all, they’re trying to figure out how people turned into orcs.
- The Dwarven Tea Machine (~980 words). Orcs trying to figure out how to use the latest technology.
- Washing-up Wrangling (~900 words). Shedding some light on Diarmuid’s home life before he disappeared.
- Fomorians In Their Own Words: SOB. Tomás Grady, son of the Fomorian Brotherhood, gives his viewpoint on being part of the group.
- Fomorians In Their Own Words: Ms S. A recurring character explains how she was turned into a Fomorian.