Chapter 38 :: The Last Great Deluge

November 1st, 2014

It is the 21st of Timber, in the late autumn of 1210. Nearly a decade ago, the profane silence that had reigned over the haunted Ice of Ghosts for over two thousand years was broken by the portentous pizzicato of pick-strikes. The dwarves had arrived, crushing beneath their heels the purest snowfall, that had never known the presence of living mortals, and carving holes in the glacial volcano that had stood since time immemorial. Since that day, the haunted glacier has hurled curse after curse upon the dwarves of the Momentous Dye - blizzards of elven blood, armies of shambling undead, plagues of foul fog. It has been a decade of pain, of death, of undeath - but also, a decade of endurance, defiance, and fiery retaliation.

The time for the last great lava flood has come. The volcano is nearly full once again.

I don't wait for the mountain's reservoir to fill back up completely. The pumps are activated.

I unpause, and the number of idlers immediately drops.

The pump operators rush to man the weapon. Dwarves of every trade, who for this one event serve as the raw power that fuels the weapon's churning adamantine corkscrews.

Before long, every one of the thirty pumps is active. All that lies between the heart of the volcano and an all-consuming deluge is the pull of a lever.

I perform one last cursory examination of the eastern vent. Soon, a torrent of magma will fill this passage and erupt out of the narrow passage upon the volcano's slope.

The vent's only occupants are a pair of burning undead, and a foul fog zombie who will soon join the others in their eternal conflagration.

Rith Craftportent still stands upon the ledge at the base of the volcano, far from the impending flood. For years, she has been joined by Dumat Sensesstakes the foul fog zombie diagnoser, holding meeting after meeting - or has it simply been one long conference, with minor interruptions occurring here and there?

I cannot say.

Nor will I look for an answer.

I order a lever to be pulled.

The first safety is released...

...and the pump stack fills to the brim with magma.

The time has come. A second lever is pulled, releasing the final safety.

A cataclysmic torrent of hellfire churns through the narrow passage, harmlessly engulfing the undead within.

Beyond the vent, the final great flooding begins.

This time, however, the deluge does not descend upon a glacial wall, or a plain of bloodsoaked ice - instead, the torrent pours down upon a lake of flame.

The lake is a remnant, a mere side effect of the MELT - the method by which the dwarves secured a source of liquid water in this nightmarish land of ice and fire.

The torrent spreads quickly, a broad cone of fluid fire that covers the western part of the lake, while melting away the lower slopes of the volcano in a burst of steam and stone.

Before long, the computational needs of the flood become to great for my poor machine to easily manage. The act of simulating armageddon slashes my FPS into the lower single digits. From another world and another time, I watch hell unfold in slow motion.

The lava cone spreads out to the north and the south, forming a kind of crescent or semicircle at the base of the volcano.

The first blast of the flood is soaked up almost entirely by the lake itself - the flooding from the MELT did not leave a completely full reservoir, and so most of the lava of the flood first serves to fill up the lake to its brim.

It is only a matter of time, then, before the lake is filled and the flood overflows onto the accursed Ice of Ghosts - annihilating the vile forces of evil that reside upon it.

At the lake's northern edge, the lava has already begun to creep over the obsidian and ice sill.

The flood slowly begins to fill up the space between the volcano, the lava lake, and the vast formation left by the great northern deluge.

No undead occupy this small gap of previously untouched ice - but I cannot control where the lava goes, once the weapon has been activated.

I can only watch as the flood spreads, consumes, and immolates.

It is a beautiful thing, in its own way. The lava progresses slowly - there is no rush, and I could not speed up the process even if I so desired.

Watching the slowly creeping body of molten rock birth a new landscape beside the glacial volcano, I feel overcome with a zen-like sense of peace and calmness.

Gone is the burden of keeping alive and happy two hundred dwarves - gone is the threat of the Ice of Ghosts, gone is the malevolent workings of Rith Craftportent, gone is the malignant vacancy within the eastern lava vent.

There is only the flood.

At the lake's southern edge, the lava has begun to overflow.

So too, to the east - although here, a curtain wall of obsidian has begun to form, snaking along the edge of ice and fire to form a new levee, built not by the hands of mortals but by the chaotic fusion of lava and water.

The wall's formation continues as I watch - certain occurrences like this have become commonplace in Roomcarnage. The cataclysmic floods of lava upon the glacier have lost their novelty, and are instead comfortably familiar.

And why not? Roomcarnage might as well be founded in hell, for all that the environment has thrown against its crumbling outer walls. For ten years, it is all that these dwarves have known.

At some point, this nightmare of death and evil ceased to be a foreign hell. It has become home.

Soon, the lake is completely overcome. The flood expands beyond it, spreading eastward towards the very edge of the map, where a crowd of mindless undead shambles and shudders, oblivious to their impending fate.

The area affected by the flood so far can be easily discerned with a larger frame of reference. At the ground level, the band of obsidian surrounding the lake hints towards the formation of another broad plateau, similar to the one found to the west of the glacier.

The flood itself expands directly to the east, creeping forward along a long, continuous front.

It won't be long now before it reaches the edge of the map. The flood will not be ending any time soon - there is yet plenty of magma within the volcano.

Pillars of steam mark exactly where the lava is most active...

...and the boiling vapor extends many urists into the air.

It's beautiful.

Another obsidian curtain wall is forming along the flood's southern edge. This one, I'm not so happy about - the southern edge of the map must be reached by the deluge, if there is going to be any hope of reclaiming the surface.

And yet, there is nothing I can do.

I can only watch.

Closer to the base of the mountain, the height of the deluge is only increasing. To the north, molten rock begins to flow over the obsidian wall, causing the barrier of volcanic stone to rise above the deluge once again.

To the south, it seems that there is still enough flow to keep the lava from affecting the glacier very much at this height. I suspect it has something to do with drainage - there is simply more space to the south and to the east, and so the lava is shallower here.

It doesn't matter now. The lava draws ever closer to the map's eastern edge, and the idiot undead collected there.

To the south, the developing obsidian wall (one urist above this view) is heavily restricting the flow of lava. This is extremely unfortunate - but it's impossible to change the outcome now. I'll have to wait and see just how much of the glacier escapes the flood.

At the very least, I know that the fortress will be free of a significant number of undead by the time the weapon is deactivated.

After all, it's not a small area that is being covered in lava - already, the deluge has affected a large area. But I'm not sure it's going to be large enough.

The flood continues - and to my frustration, the rapidly forming obsidian wall curves sharply eastward!

I had hoped that the flood would totally engulf a large southeastern portion of the map - although, perhaps it was a mistake to have hoped for it to go in any direction at all. The northern deluge ended up covering almost the entire northwestern quadrant - but it could have veered northeast just as well. The volcano's wrath is singularly unpredictable, in a world that is already full of so many hidden factors and influences.

If it means that there must be yet another flood, then so be it.

Aha! The advancing edge of the flood has almost reached the map's edge.

This flood won't be a complete failure - the surface of the glacier will yet again be broken into smaller and more isolated zones, which may be won with military strength or further purified with molten rock.

A moment later, the ice reaches the edge of the map. The surface of the glacier - that which is accessible to the undead and the caravan alike - is now in three long sections.

The deluge does not stop - it continues to flow eastward, covering more of the map's edge with a sheet of cooling volcanic glass.

It seems as if that is the most I can hope for.

continued in part two...