Chapter 2 :: Sanguine Summer Snowdrifts

A continuation of my tale of Roomcarnage, a fortress settled beneath the slopes of a haunted glacier volcano. Surprisingly, things are going pretty well! Then again, it is only the first year...

  May 15th, 2014

It's the 9th of Felsite, the late spring of 1201. Less than three full months after the Momentous Dye of the Playful Spattered Walls struck the earth at the Oily Furnace (an active volcano located in the terrifying Ice of Ghosts), the shadow of doom already falls across the fledgling fortress of Roomcarnage.

The Oily Furnace itself is a massive volcano comprised entirely of ice, that towers above the frigid drifts of elf blood snow. The freakish weather is not the only interesting trait of the Ice of Ghosts - any creature that perishes on the glacier, or beneath it, is doomed to rise again as a mindless undead.

Just to give some perspective, here is a north/south slice of the Oily Furnace. You can see part of the fortress to the bottom left (north of the volcano), as well as the steepness of this geographical anomaly.

A water buffalo corpse shambles about in the locked-off portions of the fortress, despite numerous broken bones from having been thrown down a mineshaft a dozen times. I'm not about to try and take on the monster in melee, but I can at least take back some of the rooms I have already carved out. I order a few more stone doors to be constructed, and Rimtar Gateechoed, our mason and expedition leader, goes to work at once.

One a few doors have been made, I modify the safe area to include a walkway to the east, and the doorway beyond.

Then, I order a door to be placed in the passage, and immediately locked, thus reclaiming our stores of lumber.

I do the same for the western side as well, although I would have preferred to have the northern chamber... that's where our anvil is still located! I know there's metal somewhere below, so I decide to dig a little deeper. Besides, it's nearly summer and the dwarves still have no way to grow food, so I also need to scope out subterranean water sources.

A mere 28 z-levels below the surface of the glacier, my miners strike open air. If you'll recall from the previous installment, I used advanced parameters to restrict this map to a single cavern layer, so I can't reasonably expect anything else below this but magma.

I find the metal I'm looking for - in this case, a few veins of natural copper. It's enough.

...aaaaand it seems that this cavern lacks floor fungus or cave moss. Only blood thorns grow in the muddied cavern floor - I can expect to find no water here. Additionally, most of the cavern is strewn with silk webs, of the giant cave spider variety. Fuck. With no subterranean water source, I have two options for farm-related food and alcohol production. One, I break into the cavern, wall off an area, and plant the farm directly into the muddy cavern floor; or Two, I use the magma from the volcano to melt a patch of ice, and use the liquid water to dampen an area of cavern via bucket brigade. Both have obvious dangers, compounded by the biome's reanimating effect. I decide to explore the possibilities of both options before I begin either operation.

As I am looking around at the base of the volcano, I notice that the other pack animal the dwarves brought with them, a donkey, is locked in the fortress antechamber and starving to death. I waste no time.

Predictably, the fall does not kill the donkey. Starvation will, especially now that I've discovered that no floor fungus or cave moss will grow here in Roomcarnage. Grazers are a liability, a ticking time bomb of necromantic potential. I lock the doors and don't look back.

A few weeks later, this message pops up. I get the feeling that this may become a common message in this fortress.

I opt to go with the subterranean farm route for a couple reasons. One, I'm not sure that I'm ready for the excessive amounts of fun that, in my experiences, tends to accompany magma and ice in freezing biomes. Two, it gives me an opportunity to snag a few more logs. This is the area that I've selected.

And here's a cross-section of it, viewed from the south. As you can see, the area I intend on walling off has no overhead space - a single, continuous curtain wall, only one z-level high, will efficiently seal the area off from the rest of the caverns. I can only hope the operation can be completed quickly, so that the seeds are in the ground before -

...well, fuck.

How long these poor sods have been trekking across the frozen bloody wasteland, let alone what might have motivated them to come at all, I will never know. Mercifully, there are only three migrants in this wave: a clerk, a mason, and their four-year-old child. I appoint the clerk as my new bookkeeper, and set about building mason's workshops in the deep, so that lots of bricks can be produced hastily.

One of the migrants has brought a reindeer calf with them. Once I notice the herbivore, I have it thrown down the shaft.

In order to quickly throw up a curtain wall, I have several mason's workshops erected. I enable the Mason profession on many of my dwarves and have them churn out a few dozen stone blocks.

Then - carefully - I designate a passage to be dug through the wall and into the caverns.

A moment later, I've ordered the construction of the walls. I have a few of the inner corners suspended, so that they will be completed last.

This avoids a lot of pesky job cancellations and/or dwarves getting trapped outside the walls.

As soon as the wall is completed and the dwarves of Roomcarnage have successfully cordoned off their own patch of muddy cavern, I order the construction of the largest single farm possible, while also having the mason workshops torn down.

I have the food stockpile moved into the space left by the workshop. As the other dwarves haul the remaining food and drink into the deeps, the planter Solon Naturaltone lays furrows into the cave dirt. Soon, he is planting the first cave wheat seeds.

I decide to largely abandon the initial chambers I had dug out during the spring. A new dining hall is designated, modest in size, although I do not expect this fortress to grow to the population necessary for a grand hall.

Summer comes and goes, not that you would ever be able to tell in Roomcarnage. The endless crimson snowdrifts outside have only gotten thicker, and redder, since embarcation.

By the time the crops begin to be brought to harvest in mid-Autumn, I already have a Still built and stone pots constructed. Brewing begins immediately, and not a moment too soon - only 33 units of alcohol were left at this point. With no backup water supply, this is as close as I am comfortable getting to fortress-wide dehydration.

I've designated a few more rooms to be excavated, for offices and bedrooms. Also, one of the migrants brought a pet cavy with them - this cavy makes me nervous, because it is occasionally hungry. It manages to find some kind of food, though... even so, I plan on locking it in a room. No point in needless risks, especially over a creature that is so useless, otherwise.

Looking at these contented dwarves, happily guzzling alcohol and enjoying the cavern scenery, it is easy to forget that not too far above their heads lay a frigid expanse of lifeless, blood-choked ice.

And while they are in no immediate danger of dying of dehydration, if I am brewing all of my plants into alcohol, I DO run the risk of running low on food. But the reanimating biome prevents me from butchering anything - or does it? If I surround my butcher's workshops with cage traps, I can butcher a creature, count on their hair and skin being caught in the traps, and still keep all of the edible meat! Brilliant! I just need to make cages - without wood, that means I need copper. But with copper, I'll need an anvil for a forge, and my anvil is still in the old dining hall, along with the water buffalo corpse. As I begin to take steps towards finally dealing with the water buffalo threat, a new danger arrives on the horizon.

Fuck. More migrants.

It is the 5th of Timber, Late Autumn of the year 1201. Roomcarnage endures, if only out of caution and an apparent lack of any surface threat. Perhaps this place is truly and completely dead - I haven't seen any wildlife here whatsoever since embarking. I can't count on that, though. I trusted this place and let my guard down once, and it almost destroyed the infant fortress. I shall continue to be careful, and cautious, and try to survive for as long as I can.