Chapter 17 :: The Gathering Storm

July 1st, 2014

It is the 3rd of Granite, in the early spring of 1206. Five years have passed since the brave miners of the Momentous Dye carved the first rooms out of the cold, bleak landscape. Direct contact with the surface has long ceased, as nothing has managed to break through the locked obsidian doors set in the narrow, claustrophobic tunnels that lead through and beneath the Ice of Ghosts.

Even so, the most foul and dire of threats has now arisen within the heart of Roomcarnage.

Luckily, the fortress is not entirely unprepared. To improve general morale, I had this artifact adamantine weapon rack installed in the center of the dining hall.

Any dwarf who looks upon Strappingtame the Cosmos of Yelling is sure to get a happy thought. I'm not sure of the significance of the mongoose man, but that's ok.

It now serves a dual purpose. I designate the weapon rack to create a barracks in the dining hall. Now, I can schedule a military squad to train here - if a threat arises in the dining hall, the military might need to be on hand immediately to deal with berserk dwarves, or the risen corpses of the dwarves they strike down.

I check Roomcarnage's military. This is the fortress guard, a group of reasonably trained swordsdwarves led by macedwarf Obok Girderflares, the captain of the guard. Together, they are known as the Rapidity of Ink.

This is the Worthy Seals, a group of craftsdwarves and marksdwarves, with copper equipment and dabbling combat skills, led by the militia commander Reg Fencedsplatters. Despite the marksdwarves, this squad trains with melee weapons.

Commander Reg apparently hasn't trained in a while. Disappointing, commander.

Captain Obok, on the other hand, is a consummate macedwarf, and is leading a squad of well-trained warriors.

I set the Rapidity of Ink to train in the dining hall...

...instead of the barracks.

But that's not where I want them right now. I order the Rapidity of Ink to station themselves in the dining hall. A dire situation has arisen within Roomcarnage.

Captain Obok follows orders quickly. He immediately leads his squad out of the barracks, leaving the unskilled recruits and a trio of ghosts. Undead are everywhere in Roomcarnage - a constant reminder of what should happen if a single crack were to appear in the fortress' defenses.

Like a brewing keg, Roomcarnage has lain airtight for far too long. It has lain untouched by any major threat for the entirety of its existence - the population has become a collection of pampered farmers, miners, and masons, sensitive and easily offended.

Ultimately, it is due to an excess of modesty that Roomcarnage now faces destruction. I overlooked providing clothes for my dwarves, and now an utterly miserable dwarf now stands in the food stockpiles, threatening to tantrum at any moment - or worse.

In the mother's hands, she holds an infant child. Nobody is safe.

Dastot Ringmute goes back up to the dining hall...

...I have the militia follow her.

Ultimately, this problem is only going to be solved in one of two ways. If the stonecrafter's mood does not improve, she will go insane and the situation progresses in that direction. Alternatively, I somehow manage to get her a pair of pants in time.

The Clothier's Shop is going at full speed, producing pair after pair of pig tail fiber trousers.

However, each garment is claimed by a child the moment it is produced. Children account for a huge chunk of the population - at this rate, Dastot will never have the trousers she desperately needs before she goes insane of embarrassment.

If this crisis is going to be averted, Roomcarnage is going to need a larger textile industry.

I build two more clothier's shops...

...and then two more. Using Dwarf Therapist, I enable weaving and clothesmaking on a dozen haulers. This operation must move quickly.

This problem has a specific solution - get the miserable stonecrafter a pair of trousers BEFORE she goes crazy. Roomcarnage's immediate fate does not hinge upon the construction of tunics or shoes.

It hinges upon trousers.

While the newly appointed textile workers rush to work, I zoom to Dastot's location. She stands at the south end of the dining hall, surrounded by dogs and the military. A strand extractor, up from the forges on break, stands a few paces away. At any moment, Dastot could erupt into a tantrum, during which she might attack a nearby creature - a stray dog, her infant child, a swordsdwarf, the strand extractor... at any moment, Dastot could set off a chain reaction leading to the death and subsequent undeath of every dwarf in Roomcarnage.

Uh oh.

Looks like I'm going to need more looms, not clothier's shops.

And of course, I have to up production further along, with process plants jobs at the farmer's workshops.

Two are good, but if I'm going to provide the insane amounts of pig tail fiber threads necessary to eventually clothe the entire fortress, I'm going to need way more than just two farmer's workshops.

More than four, really.

I watch as the miserable stonecrafter hauls a raw plump helmet from the food stockpile to a table in the dining hall. No doubt she gets another unhappy thought from eating the same old food. The military remain at their station, weapons at the ready.

With all four looms up and running, Roomcarnage's textile industry is starting to pick up steam.

Both of the clothier's workshops are also going at full speed - hopefully it will be fast enough to clothe Dastot before a disaster occurs.

I check back in at the construction. It's a tedious operation, naturally - individually placing walls a few at a time. I might have used a scaffold, built on the outside of the weapon's casing, but that would have greatly increased the dwarves' exposure to the freakish weather. So, certain sections of wall must be constructed before others, according to how the walls block access.

Although much of the weapon's casing has yet to be completed, the form of the device itself can clearly be seen from the rim of the caldera.

At the highest level, a minor bug catches my eye. Curious. Ultimately, these buggy downslopes are cosmetic, and won't influence gameplay very much. Probably.

I glance at the food stockpiles and freeze. An unhappy dwarf, and it's not Dastot the stonecrafter.

It's Sigun Armorflaxen, a member of the Worthy Seals.

This is bad news. If the military begins to slip into unhappiness, it cannot bode well for the rest of the fortress.

A few moments later, I notice another unhappy recruit.

I steel my will. Roomcarnage will endure. It must. For now.

More migrants... are you kidding me? The fortress population is over the limit!

It doesn't matter. Fresh meat floods onto the ice.

Yet, while most of the migrants run, a lone dwarf stands their ground against the undead, firing their crossbow against the corpses that shamble too close.

Who is this dwarf?

He is Tulon Barfigures, and no matter how many corpses he takes down, his own flesh will soon add to their number.

Eventually, Tulon runs out of bolts. He begins running, dodging crowds of undead in a desperate attempt to find some sort of safety.

He will not find it.

Eventually, he loses wind, falters, and the zombies catch up with him.

Moments later, another corpse stumbles to its feet.

I look back to the textile industry. Things are well underway, with the looms churning out fresh pig tail fiber cloth for use in the clothier's workshops. But I am doubtful, even now, that it will be sufficient to save the stonecrafter's sanity.

Roomcarnage's population has grown large. Two hundred dwarves is nothing to scoff at under normal circumstances, but the fact that Roomcarnage has grown to such size while simultaneously fending off all kinds of undead is a testament to the tenacity of the Momentous Dye.

There is livestock, too, held in the fortress - a pack of wild dogs roams the fortress, ownerless and vigilant. They serve a double purpose - protection and emergency food source. Perhaps I should have a few butchered, in the hopes that the variety introduced by dog meat and offal will cheer up some of these unhappy dwarves.

Looking through the others who inhabit Roomcarnage, one might make the assumption that the dwarves still outnumber the undead. Not only is the raw number of dwarves higher than the others, but many of these creatures are in fact wild animals, native to the caverns, or even further below.

But to make such an assumption would be to ignore the fact that many of the undead go uncounted - the forgotten bodies of migrants who died alone in the frozen waste, whose fates are unknown to any, above or below the ice, and who are merely counted as "missing." In truth, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye are greatly outnumbered by the undead.

My attention is called to a moody dwarf.

Hopefully this one has all the materials they need...

...and they do! A small mercy, as Roomcarnage now threatens to pitch itself forward into total destruction.

In the dining hall, Dastot Ringmute still fumes, trouserless and embarrassed. I can only hope that she might claim a pair of pants before the end comes...

With little else to do, I turn my attention to assuaging other unhappy thoughts.

The dwarves must have something to eat other than plump helmets, that much has become clear. I have a few querns constructed, and then order a slew of cave wheat to be milled into dwarven flour, which can then be cooked.

I have plenty of cave wheat, and sweet pods too - I should look into making dwarven syrup as well as flour.

Also, I order a bunch of dogs to be slaughtered... and a cat, just for extra variety.

All the while, I constantly maintain progress on the weapon. The weapon casing is about two thirds complete - only the upper third, the part which ascends up the icy cliffside, has yet to be built.

In time, I hope. Roomcarnage has endured this long.

Even so, I fear that these plans will never come to fruition.

Damnit, Dastot. She will be the death of us all. As the stonecrafter keeps moving about the fortress, it is difficult for me to keep the fortress guard present at all times. I call them off, and hope for the best - that, if an incident occurs, the military will be on hand to deal with it.

Meanwhile, the glazer completes the mood. A cat bone bin! Wonderful.

What a fascinating artifact. At least this one is useful, unlike so many blood thorn crowns and scepters.

As I glance over the fortress, I notice another unhappy dwarf. This time, it's commander Reg. This does not bode well - how can the fortress stand if its military is on the verge of tantruming itself?

I'm already trying to take care of the "same old food" issue... but tattered clothing?

Oh no. When all these clothes rot off, Reg will get a whole new batch of unhappy thoughts for being exposed. I will have to get the textile industry into a higher gear, producing even more clothing, at an even faster pace, I will have to -

I notice a distressing announcement. It's not the animated dog skin that worries me - the cage traps in the butchery will handle that. No, it is the corpse of a strand extractor who has just been found. I check the combat reports.

A stonecrafter - and I can guess which one - has slain a strand extractor with a single blow to the skull.

I find poor Kadol's corpse lying in the crafts dwarf's workshop - along with a dwarven child, who I can only assume was Kadol's offspring, standing idly above her broken form.

In mere moments, I know, Kadol's corpse will rise again to its feet.

It is the 27th of Slate, in the mid-spring of 1206. The fortress endures, but it cannot endure forever. Like a stoppered keg, the pressure has been building inside the fortress ever since the doors were sealed against the oppressive outside. Now, the cracks are beginning to show around the edges, and it is plain to see that the inevitable doom now hangs closer than ever above Roomcarnage.