Chapter 6 :: Tragedy upon the Ice of Ghosts

This is the sixth chapter in my ongoing fortress diary.

  May 29th, 2014

It is the early spring of 1203 - a mere two years after the Momentous Dye of the Playful Spattered Walls founded Roomcarnage beneath the Oily Furnace in the Ice of Ghosts. As always, the veil of death looms over the fortress, but as the months wear on, I cannot shake the feeling that Roomcarnage will live up to its name sooner rather than later.

More migrants have arrived. Once again, I am faced with a decision - either allow the newcomers to enter the fortress, or allow the population of undead monsters on the surface to increase significantly. I decide - this time - to go with the former. Unfortunately, none of the current entrances to the fortress are available - the snowdrifts outside the nearest door are stained with foul fog, and a zombie cow lurks nearby.

I might try the southern entrance, but I'm not eager to risk the dwarves attracting the attention of an undead I haven't noticed, or being turned into monsters themselves by the streak of foul fog they would have to cross.

The only other entrance, in the northwest corner of the map, offers only death.

I decide that, since no preexisting entrance will suffice to save these migrants, a new passage must be dug out. I order a tunnel to be carved, leading directly beneath the migrants from the nearest part of the fortress.

While the tunnel is being carved out, an armorsmith named Uzol Mossfountain is taken with a fey mood.

He claims the magma forge. For materials, he grabs a bar of the only metal available and some butchered dog leather. I desperately hope for something useful - a shield, perhaps, or a helm...

Upon completing the mood, Uzol becomes a legendary armorsmith! Praise Armok!

What a treasure!

At the very least, having a legendary armorsmith will allow me to equip the more important dwarves of Roomcarnage with suits of armor. I don't plan on training a real military, in the conventional sense, but a copper helm might deflect the fist of a tantruming dwarf that would otherwise shatter the skull and tear apart the brain of the popular mayor.

In order to supply Uzol Mossfountain with a sufficient supply of metal, I order a few exposed copper veins to be mined out. Without wheelbarrows or minecarts, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye haul the raw ore up from the mines the old fashioned way.

In a short time, the passage is completed, and all the migrants make it safely inside. A rock door is placed just inside the entrance and locked, moments before a foul fog zombie lamb shambles within a few tiles of it. The dwarves of the Momentous Dye are safe - for now.

Springtime passes pleasantly - remarkably pleasantly, for a fortress living under the ever-present curse of undeath. As I watch the the dwarves move about the dining hall of Roomcarnage, contentedly enjoying good food, alcohol, and company, I remind myself that each and every one of the little drunks poses a very real, lurking threat to the fortress. The burgeoning population of Roomcarnage is, in truth, a collection of undead horrors, temporarily imprisoned within warm alcoholic meat. Like a woodpile doused with gasoline, all it will take is one well-placed spark to set the whole fortress alight with necromantic terror.

At least the cause of the inevitable future catastrophe won't be dehydration, or the unhappy thoughts it causes. Four stills, worked around the clock, provide the thirsty fortress with an unceasing fountain of fresh dwarven ale, beer, and rum. Kitchens aren't nearly as necessary, since the majority of the fortress' food consists of raw plump helmets.

As if on cue, another migrant wave arrives just as I am waxing philosophical about the predictable fate of Roomcarnage. Fortunately, the newcomers have arrived near a preexisting, safe entrance - but they are sighted by a foul fog zombie, and chaos ensues. In my panicked attempts to control the situation, I captured no images, no .gifs to show what happened.

All I can say is that, somehow, amidst the chaos of ushering the migrants off the surface of the deadly glacier, Etur Pearseal, broker of the Momentous Dye and one of the seven founders of Roomcarnage, somehow found her way onto the surface. In her desperation, she attracts the attention of a few of the quicker zombies.

For days, the undead chase Etur the broker across the frozen, sanguine blooddrifts. She grows hungry, thirsty, and thoroughly unhappy.

But no dwarf can run forever. A horse foul fog zombie catches up to her, places a few crushing blows with its hooves, then bites the broker's hand clean off. The severed limb reanimates moments later.

Etur gives into the pain and faints, collapsing into the bloody snow. An animated dwarf corpse crushes her skull with a single blow.

One look at her profile reveals the last few thoughts that were running through her mind. She was romantically involved with Solon Naturaltome, the chief farmer and fellow founder of Roomcarnage. In another fortress, she might have borne him many children, and lived out her life in peace with her family until dying of old age - who am I kidding? This is Dwarf Fortress.

So far, only five of the original seven founding members of Roomcarnage survive. I'm not sure what happened to the other one - it's entirely possible they perished during the same incident. A few other dwarves died. In the end, I opted to simply lock the door and leave the dwarves remaining on the surface to their icy fate.

No other dwarves in Roomcarnage are skilled appraisers, but this dwarf, Nish Metaldied, seems like she has the right talents to excel in the job - she was recently elected mayor, so it seems that the dwarves have given her a vote of confidence as well.

Some time later, I spot another death message in the announcement feed, couched amidst countless job cancellations.

I zoom to the site and discover Urist Containedfigure, a dwarven baby, lying cold, alone, and miserable atop the haunted glacier. Was the glassmaker his mother?

My suspicions are confirmed. The mother died of thirst there, hidden amongst the drifts of frozen elf blood, and collapsed dead with her infant still in her arms.

My heart sinks for a moment before I steel my will. There's nothing I can do for this poor child now. It is only a matter of time before his mother's frozen body clambers to her feet and brings the child once again into a new existence.

Poor Urist. His death is not quick. His mother's corpse fumbles over him for a minute or two before finally dealing the killing blow. As I return my attention to the fortress, I try not to consider the diminutive corpse, with its crushed skull, that now roams the surface of the Ice of Ghosts.

It is the 13th of Malachite, the mid-summer of 1203. The fortress population continues to increase, with no end in sight of migrant waves. In a few months, the dwarven caravan will arrive. I'm not eager to re-open the passages to the surface, even to allow the outpost liaison - not so long as the ice is crawling with undead horrors. In time, I fear, the true threat will reveal itself from within, and Roomcarnage will eat itself alive. I plan to be prepared for that time when it arrives.