Chapter 14 :: In Places Deep, Where Dark Things Sleep

This is the fourteenth installment of my ongoing fortress diary, detailing the rise and fall of Roomcarnage.

  June 25th, 2014

It is the 19th of Limestone, in the early autumn of 1205.

Deep beneath the surface, far from the oppressive cold of the terrifying glacier known as the Ice of Ghosts, a fuming torrent of liquid stone courses through the claustrophobic caverns.

Soon, the lava within the volcano will have dipped below a critical point, allowing the dwarves of the Momentous Dye to begin construction of their next weapon in the ongoing war against the undead. A weapon of such devastating, destructive power, that the surface of the glacier and the Oily Furnace itself shall be forever changed.

As always, the dwarves continue their lives in blissful ignorance of the horrors that await them just beyond the veil. The dining hall of Roomcarnage bustles with activity and merriment - a shining oasis of happiness in an endless ocean of misery and despair.

Life in Roomcarnage is good. Very good, although perhaps not the best, as far as dwarven fortresses go. True, there is little variance in the food and drink available to the dwarves - plump helmets are eaten almost exclusively, and only a few fungal brews are made in the stills - but what the dwarves have, they have in abundance. The farms and stills of Roomcarnage provide the dwarves with all the nourishment they need.

Aye, life in Roomcarnage is good. But it cannot last forever.

Every fortress crumbles to its end eventually. Roomcarnage is no different, although its circumstances promise to provide a phenomenally awful spectacle before it crumbles away into legend. And so, even as the fortress grinds forward and upward towards glory, I cannot help but look a little beyond the precipice and behold a glimpse of the unspeakable horrors that await the dwarves of the Momentous Dye.

In Roomcarnage, all time is borrowed. With this in mind, I have decided to construct a doomsday weapon sooner rather than later. I can only hope that it may be activated before the true doom comes.

But first, I'm going to need many more magma-safe screw pump components. I could certainly just use the sand from the caverns to build viable - but fragile - components out of glass. Even the few patches of sand in the caverns would provide the fortress with an essentially unlimited supply, and there's enough pig tail fiber cloth in the stockpiles to make dozens of bags.

It would be safe. It would be easy.

I make a decision.

Far, far beneath the surface, I order a stairway to be carved blindly down into the cyan stone.

Who should pick up the job but Bomrek Craftfresh, legendary miner and member of the original expedition.

She, along with six others, arrived at Mosusilesh on the 1st of Granite in the year 1201. Romantically involved, hm? I check her relationships.

Oh, I see.

On the relationships screen, when the zoom option for one of your dwarves is greyed out, it means that the dwarf is dead.

Minkot Zimzon was also a member of the original expedition. He perished in flame while making a breach in the wall of the lava tube.

Dwarves mate for life. Bomrek Craftfresh will never love another, nor will she ever bear children.

Saddened, I watch as Bomrek strolls across the dining hall, up the stairs, and through the low-ceilinged natural cavern. The dwarves here are hard at work, gathering the bounty of plump helmets from the furrowed mud.

She passes through the jewelry stockpile on her way towards the barracks - many other workshops once occupied this space, but now only the jeweler's remains. Bomrek comes near to the industrial quarter, where a raging, berserk miner still hacks away maniacally at a few diminutive pieces of undead flesh - hidden from view behind a sturdy, smooth obsidian wall.

After the barracks, she goes straight down the stairwell and into the tunnel network that lay just above the magma sea.

As she walks, I reflect on the incredible danger of the situation.

Is it boldness or ignorance that urges the dwarves downward? Or is it simply pure, unadulterated greed?

The route is a long one, by design. If an accident occurs, it gives the dwarves that much more time to wall off the lower tunnels. Still, the downward stairway is carved, and there is silence in the deep.

The stairway is completed, and Bomrek Craftfresh begins carving out boulders of raw adamantine with unparalleled speed.

I designate each next bit of the cyan ore as it is exposed.

I watch as the number of idlers drops with every block of raw adamantine that Bomrek hews out.

It isn't long before nearly the entire layer has been carved out. Soon, the ore stockpile will be overflowing with near-weightless cyan stone.

It's not enough, though. I order another staircase to be dug down into the next layer.

Without a dwarf skilled in appraising, I cannot determine just how wealthy Roomcarnage is becoming with each swing of a pick. I am honestly surprised that no megabeasts have yet arrived to attack the fortress.

Perhaps this will encourage them. I order yet another staircase to be carved downward.

Stocks show 131 units of raw adamantine. Good, but one has to keep in mind that adamantine wafers are much smaller than mundane bars of metal - it takes many times more wafers than bars to make most items. Specifically, enormous corkscrews require 5 wafers (as opposed to a single bar), while a single pipe section requires 9 wafers (as opposed to three bars). Thus, each single screw pump requires 14 wafers of adamantine - not only is using adamantine as opposed to sand much more dangerous, it is also extremely inefficient.

Still, I order the dwarves' picks downward.

Still, nothing is heard in the deeps but the sound of dwarven excitement and the scuffle of hauler's feet amidst the pizzicato cloud of pick-strikes.

My attention is diverted away from the mines for a moment by a purple announcement. Normally, the death of a dwarf would send the fortress into a flurry of self-preservation, but this time, Roomcarnage churns forward in complete ignorance.

Poor Urist.

I check back in with the miners.

Better, better. But still, not enough. 269 wafers is barely enough to make nineteen working pumps. Added to the nine that Roomcarnage already has, it might be enough to make a single tile pump stack - but then, it would shut down entirely whenever a single dwarf got tired and went on a break. The stack will need to be at least two tiles wide.

The dwarves dig deeper...

...and deeper...

...and deeper.

How deep is to deep? How much will be enough? To be honest, I'd rather have enough of the ore left over to make some good equipment for the military...

...but maybe that will have to come later. Let's see how this does, and if I want more later, the vein will still be here.

The dwarves finish carving out the last few tiles of ore.

Ultimately, it looks like Roomcarnage has enough adamantine for over thirty pumps. That'll do, for now.

I use the manager to get things going.

Then, I cancel the rock pot production orders. That's not important right now.

I go to the surface to begin laying plans for the weapon, and notice Rith Craftportent, the vampire mayor of Roomcarnage, conducting a meeting amidst the elf blood snowdrifts. The undead standing beside her is a foul fog zombie doctor - perhaps Rith is able, somehow, to communicate with the contaminated undead.

The mayor truly knows nobody in the fortress - she hasn't even made the acquaintance of the other two vampires. They are united in their worship of Zon, and yet have never said a word to one another.

Fools.

The population of undead on the surface continues to grow. Slowly and surely, I feel myself giving up any hope that the surface might ever be reclaimed.

Within Roomcarnage, seven strand extractors work their way through the huge stock of raw adamantine. It will be some time before these cyan boulders are finally processed into enormous corkscrews and pipe sections, but I can certainly begin construction of the structure itself.

Already, the volcano's lava lake has dropped below the lowest point it reached the last time it was drained. I must decide exactly how high, and how deep I want this device to reach. A little over thirty pumps, when placed two by two in a pump stack arrangement will only stretch up fifteen urists, give or take.

Yet even at its lowest point, the riven peak of the Oily Furnace still towers eighteen urists above the surrounding glacier. I simply don't have enough adamantine to build a device that will send magma up and over the rim of the caldera.

Looking at a cross-section of the volcano at it's highest point, it is easy to see just how sheer the icy mountain cliffs can be. While it would be impressive to pump the magma over the rim of the volcano, it might be more realistic to carve a tunnel through the mountainside, thus flooding the exterior through a secondary vent, rather than letting the molten rock flood down the volcano's slopes.

Alternatively, I could harvest the sand that is in the caverns and put it to a highly practical use. A pump stack of green glass could be built as large as necessary, as any amount of sand could easily and safely be gathered.

Of course, no matter what the pumps are made out of, I must bear in mind that it will be 100% dwarf powered - windmills and water wheels are both out of the question. Despite being a large fortress with lots of down time, I only regularly have 40-50 idlers.

Decision, decisions.

It is the 2nd of Timber, in the late autumn of 1205. The dwarven caravan will be arriving soon - alive or dead - and construction must commence immediately upon the weapon's exterior structure, even if I have not quite decided what material I'll be using for the pumps. Many choices must be made in the coming weeks, and by the time Roomcarnage celebrates the fifth anniversary of its founding, plans for the device must be set in stone.

Despite the insatiable greed of its inhabitants (and overseer), Roomcarnage endures.