Chapter 10 :: Histories of Cupidity and Toil

This is the tenth chapter in my ongoing fortress diary, chronicling the efforts of the dwarves of the Momentous Dye at Roomcarnage.

  June 10th, 2014

It is the 22nd of Galena, the late summer of 1204. Few dwarves have been called upon to endure the myriad hardships that have been inflicted upon the Momentous Dye, and yet Roomcarnage endures.

The vast, open surface of the glacier teems with undeath. Greyish foul fog lay in long smears across the frozen landscape, tainting the bright elf gore a sickeningly bland hue. A firmly locked obsidian door, embedded in a small alcove at the base of the icy cliffside, is all that separates the dwarves of the Momentous Dye from the frigid embrace of undeath.

In the absence of living prey, the vile monsters that plague the surface of Roomcarnage have turned upon one another, fighting unending duels or melees that litter the surrounding ice with body parts.

Towards the west edge of the map, a series of bolts lay abandoned in the blood snow. They are the only evidence of two migrant marksdwarves' stand against the undead menace in defense of their fellow travelers. Now the migrants and marksdwarves shamble freely about the map, unconcerned with the weapons and ammunition that still remain, strewn carelessly in the blizzard.

Deep beneath the ice, however, Roomcarnage itself shows little sign of the malign influence of the haunted Ice of Ghosts. As part of an ongoing beautification of the fortress, I've ordered the old dining hall (in truth, the second of three) to be fully engraved. Later, it may be turned into a statuary, to improve the moods of all.

Progress continues upon the glacier-melting trap. This lever, which still requires three linkages, controls the volcano-drain hatches, and is located in the barracks. Once linked properly, the volcano wall may be breached, and this lever will then directly control the drainage or refilling of the magma vent.

This is vital step in the process of constructing the trap, as it will allow me to safely manipulate the upper levels of the magma vent.

This lever, which still requires four linkages, may be found in the unused mayoral suite, just to the east of the main dining hall. It is unused, because the current mayor resides much, much closer to the surface, keeping company with the souls of the departed.

In preparation for the final stages of construction, I order a passage dug at the northern edge of the (currently empty) magma reservoir. This will be the passage through which molten rock is pumped, when the trap is nearing completion.

I realize that I'm going to need all of that extra adamantine for more enormous corkscrews and pipe sections, so I cancel the full suits of cyan armor before queuing up the necessary machine components.

At about this time, too, I notice an abundance of kittens being born. As a veteran player, I instinctively recognize the early signs of an impending catastrophe, unique to Dwarf Fortress in almost every way - a catsplosion. Fortunately, there are not many cat lovers in my fortress, so all of the male cats are, as of yet, still unowned.

Roomcarnage has many other threats to fend off. I decide not to let the cat population become one of them.

I notice that the linkages from the volcano-drain lever have been successfully completed. Now is the time for the next phase to begin. The volcano must be breached at five points - a significantly dangerous operation. I'm not eager to sacrifice one of my dwarves, who are thoroughly socialized and may, in death, cause enough unhappy thoughts to throw the entire fortress into a tantrum spirals. Instead, I turn my attention to a dwarf who not only has no living friends or relatives, but whose mere existence is founded upon slaughter and bloodlust.

Rith Craftportent, the vampire mayor of Roomcarnage, has many skills, but it is the pick that was in her hand when she arrived that makes me most interested in enlisting her.

I briefly examine the other vampire, who has assumed the identity of Domas Firstfigures. He is not nearly as skilled as Rith, it seems, but he may still be of use to me.

This is the access tunnel that runs above the drains. I decide to seal this tunnel off from the rest of the fortress, then have Rith dig her way in and do the honor of breaching the volcano.

I order the construction of a wall upon the up-stairs that lead to the access tunnel.

A dwarf quickly arrives to seal the passage. Now, no dwarf in the fortress has access to the drains.

Just to check and make sure that the hatches are properly linked, I order the lever pulled.

Ah, yes. Everything seems to be in order.

I designate a tunnel for Rith to dig, leading from her glacial chamber to the drain access tunnel. She works slowly... painfully slowly. This may take some time.

At about this point in time, my announcements feed is filled with a new kind of spam.

Apparently I've underestimated how much adamantine is used up in the construction of machine parts. Damn. I still need six adamantine pipe sections to be constructed. At nine wafers apiece, that's fifty-four units of adamantine that need to be gathered, processed, and hammered away at the forge.

I turn my attention back to the depths, and designate another couple layers of priceless cyan ore to be dug out.

Just in case you were wondering, this little guy is still here.

Luckily, the mining process is more or less uneventful. This time.

To ensure that production continues solidly until I have enough processed metal, I queue up 54 extraction jobs.

And 54 smelting jobs.

Soon, the miners have excavated nearly enough ore. I designate a few more tiles to be dug out, and let the industry handle itself.

I hardly have any reaction this time to the arrival of more migrants. I don't even bother watching to see what happens - I already know. Besides, now that vampires are beginning to arrive, hidden amongst the helpless migrants, I feel a lot better about leaving them to their fates on the surface.

Moments later, something much more interesting happens.

I watch the metalsmith as he makes his way through the fortress. He begins in the dormitory, then descends the natural cave ramp into the farming area, which he passes through to reach the stairwell that leads ultimately to the magma forge.

He claims only one item - a single wafer of adamantine.

How thoroughly underwhelming.

At least I've got a legendary metal crafter, now.

Meanwhile, Rith is still carving away at the passage, slowly and steadily. Her tedious progress is perhaps a result of a combination of her mediocre mining skill and alcohol deprivation. Vampires don't drink alcohol, but they are still alcohol-dependent, so they gradually slow down over time.

In the late autumn, the caravan arrives. I hold my breath and hope that they're just more undead.

Nope. They're alive this time.

I unpause, and the caravan scatters. A speardwarf runs south across the snow towards an undead reindeer calf, which runs away surprisingly. The speardwarf gives chase, while the merchants and the outpost liaison run about madly.

In haste, I scramble to accomodate the merchants. A new trade depot is constructed in the fortress - hopefully, I'll be able to get the caravan to path inside before something unspeakably horrible happens to them.

My stomach sinks as I realize that the outpost liaison is not trying to path into the fortress at all. The liaison wants to meet the mayor of Roomcarnage - the vampire, Rith Craftportent. I order the ice wall that Rith constructed to be torn down, thus allowing her to be reached by the diplomat.

The speardwarf runs down his quarry, almost overtaking the zombie reindeer calf, before his attention is diverted towards a zombie cow. The undead creature maims the warrior, brutally wounding and incapacitating him before dealing the killing blow.

The final strike sends the speardwarf's lifeless body flying across the snowdrifts. The corpse lands limply, its skull already crushed.

The trade depot is constructed, and I unlock the doors of the northwestern passage. The merchants quickly path into the tunnel, but the outpost liaison waits pensively. There is a zombie in the tunnel, who was trapped there at some point during the past - I can only hope that the caravan guards are able to overcome it and gain entrance to the safety of the fortress.

No such luck. In the claustrophobic tunnel, the zombie cow slaughters the swordsdwarf that stands against it, as well as the merchants who stumble blindly into the battle, having not seen the undead on the other side of the stone door. As carnage erupts in the narrow corridor, the hammerdwarf takes pause north of the door, then turns and runs before he is overtaken by undead. The warrior escapes off the edge of the map as the zombie slays the last of the merchant's pack animals. I lock the doors once again - no merchants this year.

I still hold out hope that the outpost liaison might find their way to Rith Craftportent, who is now idling in her glacial chamber. Zon the diplomat (not to be confused with the god worshipped by the vampires) runs frantically about the surface of the glacier, dodging in between the slower undead in a vain attempt to find their way to the mayor.

At times, I'm not sure the outpost liaison knows where they are going.

The door is open. All I can do is hope that Zon will be able to find it, and walk through it. If Zon perishes upon the Ice of Ghosts, no word will reach the mountainhome of the prosperity of Roomcarnage. This might be a good thing - fewer migrants, for example - but I hope that one day Roomcarnage, against all odds, might be declared the new mountainhome. Diplomacy is key in this regard.

But alas, Zon's fate is neither to peacefully leave the map after negotiating trade agreements. As the liaison sprints across the map, an animated dwarf corpse erupts from the sanguine snowdrifts and attacks. The effects are immediate.

I couldn't have phrased this event any more poetically than the game itself, for in truth, it is the outpost liaison that is knocked over and tumbles backward, but it is the dwarf potash maker foul fog zombie that clambers to its feet.

The dwarf corpse that assaulted the liaison is not a foul fog zombie, but at some point was covered with the vile contaminant from head to toe. It is a walking vector of undeath, spreading a horrible plague across the surface of the map with cruel efficiency.

I order Rith to continue digging. The situation on the surface grows worse with each passing season. I am eager to have the trap completed, if only to discover whether or not it works. The dwarves of the Momentous Dye have cowered beneath the glacier for years, but now is the eve of their return. Soon, the Ice of Ghosts itself will tremble and thaw before the might of dwarven engineering, for the dwarves of Roomcarnage still hold hope that the surface is not lost.