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Literature / Dis Acedia

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Boredom is the downside of immortality... The world of Dis is a prison, a hellish maze of walls the size of mountains, a patchwork of lost kingdoms and nightmarish realms at the edge of reality... Dis serves only one purpose: to entertain its jailer... This is the story of the Claimed, and their quest to return home. - Taken from the Summary

Dis Acedia is a web serial by M.J. Durand (Chesskingred) and corrected/edited by N.J. Lewis. It is a self-described "dark fantasy" novella where the main character, Shroud, is abducted by a godlike entity for its own amusement and sent to the inescapable prison of Dis. There, he must learn to adapt to the twisted world or die trying.


The first E-Book can be brought there.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: All but stated to be the reason why Jack became a psychopath during the Lovers Reversed.
  • Aerith and Bob: Since everyone who enters Dis loses their names, they have to come up with new ones that can range from almost-ordinary to downright unpronounceable.
  • Affably Evil: Graffiacane is genuinely polite, giving advice to others.
    • Faux Affably Evil: Gambler John and Malacoda act chummy to others, but this is clearly a mask.
  • The Ageless: Every denizen in Dis does not age after having their souls Claimed by Lazarus no matter their species. Shroud is shocked to learn that the human knight Sol has been alive since the Crusades and hasn't aged a day. This immortality is also mitigated by everyone being capable of dying to some good old violence, which Dis has in spades.
  • Agony Beam: Using a person's true name against them can have this effect.
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  • The Alcatraz: Dis is an another dimension that functions as an inescapable Hell Dimension with countless horrors, traps, and monsters locking in its inmates.
  • Alternate Universe: It is eventually revealed Dis' prisoners come from various alternate universes. Scarmiglione's Fiefdom was actually made from a version of Earth that ended in a nuclear war that its version of Shroud might have caused.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Shroud meets Dis' big players...then finds out that the Cage still has bigger and badder monsters that run things.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Forsworn, a group of Dis-worshipers who have sabotaged efforts to solve Dis' maze for centuries. They actually know more about Dis' secrets than anyone else. There is also the mysterious Heretic that opposes them.
  • And I Must Scream: Being a Div is nothing but eternal pain.
  • Arc Villain: The story has an overarching Big Bad Ensemble but most arcs tend to have a more direct antagonist take center stage.
    • Nathaniel Stitch acts as the main villain of The Magician and makes a return appearance in The Empress, while Candlemaker acts as the main physical threat of the High Priestess
  • Another Dimension: Not only is Dis a dimension in itself, but various characters are revealed to be from alternate worlds as well.
  • Anti-Hero: Shroud is a Nominal Hero at best. He'd be a flatout villain if Dis other inmates weren't worse and he wasn't pragmatic, but this doesn't save him from more moral inmates scrutiny.
  • Appeal to Force: The Malebranche's first MO. Though it comes off as an Informed Attribute since the major Maleprinces have shown themselves to be very good at subtly, and a good portion of the plot has been Malacoda's plans.
  • Batman Gambit: Shroud shows skill at this, but Malacoda is even better.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Trickster Jack is considered very handsome by Dis' women, and is also the Cages supreme Jerkass and asshat.
  • Being Evil Sucks: A reoccurring theme, in spite of the horrible setting, being evil isn't shown to be for everyone and not to be the solution and not everyone is cold enough to be the bad guy when they try.
    • Shroud starts off as bitter, resentful, self-absorbed, reckless, and ready to do anything to escape Dis when he begins killing and hurting people who never wronged him he finds his own conscience has made a comeback nibbling at the back of his mind and becomes ruled by his failures and mistakes. Then it turns out that he was controlled by A-List bad guy Malacoda who played off his bad character traits and all the wanton murder he ordered has caused the Dismaw to consume him.
    • Skins was once a woodwitch who skinned people alive to take their power, she eventually had a crisis of conscience after joining the Forsworn and tried for years to atone for what she did.
    • Sabeen starts off as a toxic individual believing herself above the consequences of her actions as she bullies those weaker than herself thanks to her position and power level. She finds herself enslaved by Shroud in revenge, gets blacklisted by her former Guild when they learn that she was willing to kill children, and that her whole life was manipulated by the Forsworn who killed her awesome sister because she could have made Dis a better place and ensured that Sabeen inherited her position because she was just that bad. Nowadays she at the very least is able to work with and show compassion to others.
    • Manah sold her entire worlds population to Lazarus so that she wouldn't be sacrificed to extend its lifespan and to take her sister's place as the beautiful one. Lazarus turns her into a powerful and beautiful a punchline to a joke wearing her sister's skin as a suit. She gets killed by the Legion of Orcus and with her soul sealed into the Nightcloak, gets trapped in a random Fief for centuries. She has spent both her lives as Lazarus' joke. After centuries of trying and failing to manipulate people after Shroud revives her, she decides to seek absolution.
  • Becoming the Mask: Skins was a Forsworn infiltrator sent to destroy guilds from within... before eventually becoming part of one for real.
  • Big Bad: Lazarus the God of Magic and Chaos, and Ruler of Dis as well as its creator. An omnipotent deity that Claims random beings by taking their names and souls, trapping them into his hellish prison. Every villain and bad thing can be traced back to him. Most likely because he put them there.
    • Big Bad Ensemble: There are multiple guilds and factions that jockey for the main villain position but the Malebranche's leader Malacoda, Grandmaster Wyrde of the Dracocracy, and the Forsworn are the main contenders.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sol to the Red Goblin, Shroud himself against the Forsworn. Shroud gathers a large force to rescue abducted people from the Forsworn. Deconstructed in that half the hostages are dead by the time The Cavalry reached them.
  • Blood Knight: Shroud, but Brina most of all. Deconstructed in both cases, as this leads the first into reckless situations, while the latter has grown addicted to war.
  • Body Horror: Some Relics can change a person's physical form in terrifying ways. Best shown with the main protagonist, Shroud.
  • Break the Haughty: What Lazarus did to Mur in his backstory turning him into an imp.
  • Break Them by Talking: Shroud to Sabeen, to the point of breaking her will for a while.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Shroud's cell phone stopped working in Dis.
  • Character Development: Shroud starts as selfish person with a severe Lack of Empathy, but gradually becomes more mature and kinder as the story progresses.
  • The Chessmaster: Wyrde and Malacoda, they are the only ones skilled enough to make Dis their chessboard.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Doc the Troll is the smartest of his kind in Dis which is Damned by Faint Praise. It manifests as this trope.
    • The Candlemaker is a Darker and Edgier version. He is completely divorced from reality and batshit insane. This is his introduction speech.
    :The Candlemaker: "Why are you things so intent on disturbing me? Do I not try hard enough to be a good neighbor? All I want is to make this city a brighter, shinier place. Is burning living fuel in peace too much to ask? I will have to turn you into fuel,I was beginning to run out of fat to make candles. Still, all of you are so skinny… did you bring infants? Baby fat lasts so much longer. I think I am in the process of becoming a star. Do you not feel my irresistible gravity? My hydrogen, ionized bre-”
  • Cold Ham: Dis is home to some very hammy people. Hot and cold. Here's the cold:
    • Shroud considers himself a terse and practical man, but he loves to do things big, and unironically christens himself King Tenebrous.
    • Brina is infamous for being Dis' premiere ice queen and is eternally apathetic, but all of her dialogue and actions drip with melodrama and ham.
    • Zenia is always composed and dignified despite Milking the Giant Cow while giving her speeches.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Very few people fight fair in Dis. The ones who do tend to be very powerful like Graffiacane and it still assured his demise.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted with the Candlemaker's flames. He burns so hot that if you don't have a resistance to heat his aura will instantly incinerate you.
  • The Corrupter: Shade to Shroud, although in the end it worked in reverse. Malacoda is a more subtle, successful one.
  • The Corruption: The Dismaw the consumers of souls and creator of Divs, and the poison it provides; it gives incredible power, but feed on souls and enthrall the user. Shroud fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: The Striges don't care what species you are as long as they follow orders, work together, and are competent and efficient. This model has led to their inner circle to consist of humans, two Unborn, a genie, a demon from Hell, an Kresnik, a Kudlak, a minotaur, a centaur, multiple vampires, and an alien concubine.
  • Crapsack World: Dis was literally made to be one, as every single person inside it is Lazarus' toy. The Maze is divided between multiple [1]s vying for control, Might Makes Right is an active culture, warfare is common, an ancient conspiracy is actively sabotages efforts to escape, and Eldritch Abomination called the Sepids periodically devastate civilization.
  • Cruel Mercy: Since he cannot kill her, Shroud ends up enslaving Sabeen, after the genie attempted to have him killed as part of an asinine gag.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Shroud's army deals a brutal one to Melite.
  • Cursed With Awesome: the Nightcloak more or less turns Shroud into an undead, removing most of his senses...and making him astonishingly resilient. His Dismaw on his hand also gives him Soul Power.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: while lacking in any color due to the Nightcloak's power, Shade/Manah and Shroud both are ambiguous rather than outright evil though both shift to good as they find Being Evil Sucks.
  • Dark Fantasy: Like nobody's business.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The Reversed Arcana chapters follow another characters point of view, either expanding on their backstories or to do worldbuilding.
  • Deal with the Devil: Shroud's relationship with Manah though neither turn out to be the Devil in the deal.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Invoked and weaponized by Ace. During a fight with the Ring she uses up her entire guilds luck to help them fight off superior numbers. This also ensures that the Candlemaker shows up to attack everyone because that's the worst possible scenario at the moment no matter how low the probability would be, creating an opportunity to escape both factions.
  • Divided We Fall: Why the Claimed haven't solved the Maze. Actively exploited and encouraged by the Forsworn.
  • The Dreaded: Brina and the Maleprinces in general bring fear in the heart of those who know of them. The Sepids and King Zahak, the Father of the Divs, are even worse.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The Red Goblin and later, the Striges, both suffer from internal frictions though they're downright tame compared to the Malebranche, which encourages The Starscream trope, and the Dracocracy's xenophobia, who are then one-upped by the Forsworn who make them look tolerant in comparison.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: The Malebranche's plan in a nutshell, the ultimate endgame is to escape Dis and kill the Christian God to hammer it home.
  • Eats Babies: Well, the Candlemaker's perfectly fine with burning them. He actually prefers them. Baby fat just lasts so much longer, y'know?
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Sepids, and Zahak, Father of the Divs.
  • Eldritch Location: Dis itself, a living maze containing smaller worlds inside its walls.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Malebranche's only standard of recruitment is strength. Thanks to this trope they've gained Norse, Hindu, Voodoo, and inanimate objects as members with more sure to be revealed.
  • Evil Mentor: Calcabrina, and then Graffiacane, to Shroud.
  • Evil Overlord: Malecoda the Maleking, and Wyrde, Grandmaster of the Dracocracy.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: the Claimed usually ally against the Divs, and especially the monstrous Sepids.
  • False Flag Operation: The Forsworn's usual MO.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Dracocracy, against anything that isn't a dragon.
    • The Forsworn up the xenophobia to the point where the Dracocracy seems tolerant. The Dracocracy at least believes that other races can be uplifted, the only reason why the Forsworn keep the Claimed alive is because they need them to reproduce more Unborn.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Dying in the maze and being reincarnated as a Div. Killing them is actually considered a mercy in-universe.
  • Feudal Overlord: The Edge Kings that rule the Fiefdoms live by this culture. Shroud eventually becomes an anti-heroic one.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Doc, although the "genius" is ambiguous.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: Subverted by Shroud, who doesn't feel anything particular the first time he kills someone. Then it gets inverted as Being Evil Sucks kicks in.
  • Genius Loci: Dis itself is alive.
  • The Ghost: King Zahak and some of the Maleprinces have yet to appear in the flesh.
  • God Guise: Shroud to the minotaurs, in order to recruit them.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Most of the Pilgrims, although they are by far the most heroic faction and given how horrible Dis is and how manipulative the villains can be this mindset is more of a justified defensive action.
  • The Heartless: The Divs act as this. They are the deceased souls of everyone who died in Dis, twisted into TorturedMonsters driven insane by the pain of their twisted existence that hate everything and want to spread their misery to everyone.
  • Hero of Another Story: Most of the Reversed Arcana protagonists.
  • Heroic Host: Shroud for Shade/Manah.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Most of the Maleprinces disturb Jack, himself a complete psychopath this then loops around back onto itself, as the Maleprinces are disgusted by him.
  • I Know Your True Name: Lazarus steals the true name of people ("Claims"), allowing him to enslave them. As it turns out Malacoda found out Shroud's and exploits it accordingly.
  • The Infiltration: How the Forsworn destroy guilds from within and sabotage escape efforts. Skins tried to do this to them, but failed.
  • It's All About Me: It's hard too list someone who isn't only out for number one in Dis who isn't named Sol or Manus. Though this might come from Shroud's extremely biased views.
  • I Work Alone: Doc and Grimsour. Shroud briefly considers this after leaving the Red Goblin, but instead founds his own group.
  • Kick the Dog: Stitch is a narcisstic sociopath who lives by Never My Fault, meaning he does this almost constantly.
  • Knight Templar: Wyrde and the Dracocracy utterly believe themselves to be in the right, and that enslaving lesser beings is mercy.
  • Large Ham: Dis is home to some very hammy people. Hot and cold. Here's the hot:
    • Sabeen has to make everything she does as dramatic as possible. She starts out willing to turn delivering a check into a deathmatch and gets hammier from there.
    • Lazarus always has a dramatic pose ready when he shows up and all of his contributions to the plot are even more flashy and grandiose.
    • Manah's idea for a disguise is to speak in stage whispers and Pandoria's naming scheme came from her.
    • Trickster Jack is the loud, annoying, obnoxious type.
    • Get Malacoda monologue and you'll think that he was once a Shonen villain.
    • Aster is a very minor character with few lines. But given how quickly he hams it up and overacts to everything, he can be rather noticeable despite that.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Claimed lose most of the memories that would allow them to rediscover their stolen true name.
  • Last Stand: Melite does this against Shroud's army in The Hierophant.
  • The Legions of Hell: The Malebranche started as them, before expanding.
  • Life Energy: Essence is produced by souls, while poison is produced by Dis itself.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Malacoda turns out to be behind quite a few lesser villains most importantly, Shroud's Fiefdom of Pandoria.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Shroud's greatest strength is his ability to get inside people's head and getting them to act as he wants. But he finds himself far from the best.
  • Mercy Kill: Killing a Div is considered this.
  • The Multiverse: Dis' prisoners come from various corners of it.
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: While the rescue in The Hierophant is mostly successful, Shroud fails to save Skins and Iz from the Forsworn.
  • Not So Different: Shroud, Manah, and Sabeen.
  • Odd Friendship: Shroud and most of the Red Goblin develop this dynamic.
  • Out-Gambitted: Shroud to Sabeen, Malacoda to Shroud.
  • Parental Substitute: While never stated, Shroud comes to see Ace and Sol as maternal and paternal figures respectively. He showers them with internal praise and seeks their approval and acceptance.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Candlemaker has enough literal firepower to burn a district to the ground.
  • Precursors: The First Guild, and the Legion of Orcus. The former actually solved the Maze's secrets, but were wiped out before they could make good on it; and the later is far from gone.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Pandoria conquers Melite, but later problems end up making the whole endeavor costly.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dis is a dark place, but a lot of its Guildmasters can be good leaders, best shown with Sol, Zenia, Seeker, the Prince of Air, Mother Pandia, and Knight Manus.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Malacoda's motivation.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Shroud gives a pretty brutal one to Sabeen.
  • The Remnant: The Legion of Orcus turns out to have one of them inside the Fiefdom of Pandoria.
  • Smug Snake: Jack/Farfarello and Sabeen, at first.
  • Soul Power: Shroud eventually gains a degree of this from the Dismaw curse allowing him to animate objects by implanting pieces of his soul into them.
  • The Starscream: Jack to Malacoda, Sabeen to Shroud at first.
  • Starter Villain: Akatash the Twisted, a standard Div acts as Shroud's first antagonist in The Fool.
  • Storm of Blades: Brina's opening offense.
  • Tarot Motifs: Each arc is named after an Arcana with at least twenty-two planned.
  • Technicolor Fire: The Candlemaker's flames are so hot that they burn blue.
  • Tele-Frag: Brina's main method of killing is by warping weapons into her opponents body.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Manah at first, and then Graffiacane and Shroud become this too each other.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Shroud is stuck in a trifecta, being played like a goddamn fiddle by Lazarus, Wyrde, and Malacoda at the same time.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Shroud lack pure power, but manages to get ahead with manipulations, cunning, and most importantly, recruiting followers to act for him.
  • Wham Episode: Empress 3.7: Shroud leaves the Red Goblin.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change: Ace's Relic has the ability to predict the future based on probability or change it by stealing or manipulating exchange for making the people who benefits extremely unlucky for awhile.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Shroud, under the influence of the Dismaw.
  • World of Ham: Dis is both a grim and very dramatic place. Lazarus is the starting point for the ham, and he is quickly surpassed in the art of casual drama by his prisoners.

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