Chapter 58 :: Glacial Victories and Crushing Defeats

March 8th, 2016

It is the 7th of Timber, in the late autumn of 1215. Soon, the seasons will turn, and the frigid, tempestuous autumn will pass into an equally frigid, tempestuous winter - for at Roomcarnage, the weather shows little difference from month to month. For years, this dubious change in season has been heralded by the arrival of the dwarven caravan, sent from the Mountainhome every late autumn. I presume that a dwarf's assignment to this caravan - as merchant, guard, or diplomat - must carry the same weight as a death sentence in those warm, southern fortresses. So few have ever returned from the voyages across the Ice of Ghosts, and it has been many years since the Mountainhome has had any contact with the dwarves of the Momentous Dye.

I fear that this year will be the same. The dwarves have made great progress in their current endeavor - extending the northeastern plateau eastward, to secure a portion of the map's edge exclusively for trading - but it will not be done for a few more months at least. It seems that those brave, ill-fated travelers from the Mountainhome will be doomed again.

Besides, there is no rush to complete the project. There are other concerns - a murderous ghost has appeared within the fortress, and his first victim has already risen from the dead to terrify and slaughter the living.

Dealing with the ghost is, fortunately, easy. Mafol Acerelics appears right at the top of the list of names that can be engraved - I order a memorial to be carved for the murderous spirit.

I reflect - if Mafol's name didn't appear on this list...

Well. Thankfully, it does.

As for the shambling undead, actual military force is necessary. I order the Worthy Seals - a ragtag squad of green recruits, led by the lone survivor of the previous military - to slay the zombie.

It is fortunate that Mafol Acerelics attacked the dwarf that was operating the lowest magma pump - far removed from the fortress, accessible only via a long corridor. It will take the undead remnant some time to reach any main thoroughfares.

I am sure that the Worthy Seals will reach the undead before it attacks any other dwarves.

A dwarven child walks through the tunnel, seeking to collect a garment that they have recently claimed. Turning a corner, the child comes face to face with the garment's previous owner - a naked, life-hating monster, with a face contorted and twisted into an eternal expression of terror and pain.

The child turns and flees, dodging past three of the Worthy Seals as they tromp down the passage.

Two recruits - one wielding an exceptional adamantine spear, the other a masterwork copper shortsword - charge the monster, but it continues to lumber down the corridor. It finally crumples to the stone floor under the third recruit's masterwork copper spear.

I order the corpse to be dumped.

Soon, a hauler arrives, and begins the long journey back into the fortress, where the body can be safely incinerated.

I keep a careful watch every step of the way - rarely, corpses can reanimate while being hauled from one place to another. Such an incident could be devastating.

Fortunately, the hauler reaches the incineration shaft without any difficulty, and the body is destroyed.

By this time, the slab has been finished as well. I order it to be placed in the memorial hall, to the west of the dining hall and the statuary.

Mafol Acerelics' soul is put to rest, having only slain one dwarf.

I take a moment to examine Mafol's memorial. I find nothing of note - except that Mafol's slayer was a zombie dwarf named Furyburials. Could this have something to do with Mafol's return as a murderous ghost?

No, probably not. If every dwarf slain by an undead with an ominous-sounding name rose again as a murderous ghost, Roomcarnage would have crumbled to dust long ago.

Back to work - the lava on the plateau has dried enough to allow the channel walls to be extended eastward. Some stretches of construction will have to wait for the rest of the lava to dry up, but there's no harm in getting started.

Roomcarnage's meager workforce is soon set to the task. None of these dwarves are masons by trade - they are farmers, miners, pump operators. These massive constructions, however, require as many hands as possible if they are to be completed in a timely fashion, and so all adult dwarves take up the task of bricklaying.

As construction gets underway, I anxiously await the arrival of the dwarven caravan. They should arrive any day now.

And yet, there is only peace upon the Ice of Ghosts. The peace, admittedly, of countless undead standing idle without anything to attack - but in this case, such a peace is far more disturbing than the conflict spawned by the arrival of a caravan.

My fears solidify as Timber slips into Moonstone. Late Autumn has come and gone without any sign of the dwarven caravan. I shiver - what if all that the dwarves have striven for is for naught? Has the Mountainhome abandoned all hope? Have the dwarves of the Momentous Dye been written off by the monarch, left to perish alone beneath the elf blood snow?

I must not give in to fear. There is only one road - forward.

I order the construction of more walls, extending the lava channel even closer to the map's edge. It is likely that some of these walls will be impossible to build - laborers who draw too close to the plateau's edge will catch glimpses of the undead horrors lurking beyond and abandon their tasks in fear. The dwarves will complete the wall as far as they are willing.

Work continues, and I try not to think about the fate of the caravan - if, indeed, there ever was a caravan.

The monotony is broken suddenly - a dwarven child is possessed!

I am never excited for moody children - they invariably claim a Craftsdwarf's Workshop and produce a bone, wood, or stone craft of dubious usefulness, if it is useful at all.

I leave Cog to his mood, and order the construction of more walls - extending the northern channel even further to the east, as well as filling in gaps where lava has recently dried. I also go through and unsuspend all jobs that were cancelled due to undead sightings. Of course, not all of these jobs will be finished - but it is important that the channels extend as far to the east as possible.

Some time passes, and I receive no notification that Cog has begun construction of an artifact. I check in on the child, and find that she is indeed standing idle in the workshop.

Cog hasn't even collected any raw materials. She must be missing something. Has the fortress run out of wood, or rough gems?

I examine the workshop - the moody child mutters an obsessive list of raw materials that must be provided so she can complete her artifact. I keep my eyes peeled for something that might be absent in Roomcarnage...

...ah. There it is.

As it turns out, Cog Flareoil has an unhealthy appreciation for alligator snapping turtle shell. Unhealthy, because it will result in her inevitable death.

There is nothing else to be done. I order the workshops surrounding the one occupied by the moody child to be deconstructed. Likewise, I remove a portion of the stockpile to the west of Cog's workshop.

Within minutes, peasants arrive and drag the copper bins away from the workshop, back into the stockpile that they previously occupied. However, nobody arrives to deconstruct the workshops.

I check the job manager - the "destroy building" jobs haven't even been taken up by anyone! The workforce must be so occupied with construction upon the plateau, that they have no time to come down here and destroy these workshops.

I locate the two peasants that cleared out the copper bins, and enable the the stonecrafting job in their profession tab.

Then, I go into the units list - I locate two other peasants, cancel their current hauling jobs, and assign them the stonecrafting labor as well.

I take a moment to examine all four peasants - each is twelve years old, having been born in the year 1203, following their parent's migration from the south. They were born in Roomcarnage - they will die in Roomcarnage.

Soon afterwards, dwarves arrive and begin to deconstruct the workshops.

It doesn't take too long. Once the buildings have been torn down, I order an incomplete wall to be constructed around the workshops occupied by Cog Flareoil. I leave the corners for last, so that the bricklayers won't accidentally wall themselves in with the berserker-to-be.

I run out of obsidian blocks before I can designate all of the walls - there are enough non-obsidian rock blocks to complete these walls, but I need more for the corners.

I place a work order for more rock blocks - many more. It's never a bad thing to have plenty of blocks lying around.

While the walls rise up around Cog Flareoil, I check in on the dwarves' progress above - one patch of lava still remains, preventing the completion of the northern channel. There is no rushing this - I can only wait for the lava to finish drying.

In the forges, the walls are completed.

I steel my heart, steady my hand, and order the completion of Cog Flareoil's tomb.

It is done.

Cog Flareoil is trapped, but no more doomed than she was before - she will soon go insane, perhaps even berserk. All I have done is made sure that she cannot directly harm the rest of the fortress.

Back to construction. Ah ha! The lava has dried. I order the hole in the channel to be filled.

Once the walls have been completed, I cancel the constructions at the plateau's edge that were repeatedly cancelled by the dwarves. Then, to prevent the haulers from wandering out to collect the blocks, I forbid the building materials.

Once again, the time has come to unleash molten fury upon the Ice of Ghosts. I order the southern lever to be pulled.

Upon the plateau high above, the door connecting the southern channel to the lava supply snaps open, and molten rock slowly pours through.

It takes several minutes for the lava to work its way through the channel. Unlike the famed weapon of Roomcarnage's early years, which drew lava up from deep within the caldera, the pumps fueling this flow draw lava up through a crack in the caldera's edge. The result is considerably less dramatic than those cataclysmic deluges of old, but much more precise and manageable. Considering the risk of failure - completely paving over the map's edge for good - I am content with this sluggish deluge.

Eventually, the lava reaches the end of the channel. A bright plume of steam erupts from the plateau's edge, heralding contact between molten rock and frozen water.

In seconds, the gap between the plateau and the edge of the map is filled with ice.

I order the lever to be pulled again, thus ceasing the flow of lava into the southern channel.

It will take some time for the rest of the lava to drain out of the channel, of course. For now, however, one half of the task is complete.

I order the other lever to be pulled...

...and moments later, the door leading to the northern channel swings open. A torrent of lava surges through - but soon loses energy, and slows to a familiar, laborious pace.

I watch with wary anticipation as the molten rock draws closer and closer to the map's edge.

Finally, the lava emerges from the obsidian channel. Sheets of hissing steam fill the air - lava and water churn and fume, coalescing mid-air into chunks of ice and stone that plummet downward. The game pauses, registering these events as cave-ins.

It happens several times, which is odd - there were no cave-ins with the flooding to the south. I am not sure what it is about the northern plateau that is resulting in these collapses.

No matter. Soon, the lava will reach the map's edge, and the task will be complete. I am wary of flooding too much lava into the area - too much, and I could easily and permanently ruin the section of the map's edge that I am attempting to salvage. I order the lever to be pulled again...

...and the door snaps shut, halting the outgoing flow of lava.

I watch as the wall of ice creeps closer and closer to the map's edge.

I keep my eyes locked on the gap between the plateau and the edge - I struggle to contain my elation as I spot ice amidst the roiling steam, leading right up to the map's edge.

Unfortunately, the flood has not formed a perfect seal - while the plateau has certainly been extended to the map's edge, there still remains a narrow passageway on the surface of the glacier.

I am willing to wait and see if the lava will, by chance, fill in the gap on its own. I may need to restart the flow, just to give it that little extra push - but for now, I will wait.

I check in on the southern flow - it is still active, but seems to have reached a state of equilibrium. As the lava drains out of the channel, it spreads out into a broad puddle - as this puddle reaches a critical size, the rate at which tiles dry matches the flow of the draining of lava, and it ceases to expand further.

The same effect seems to be taking place in the north. The passage has not closed up, nor does it seem likely that it will, without an additional flooding.

So be it.

Without graphically displaying tile depth - an initialization option that I have decided not to take advantage of - I must use the cursor to examine the flow of lava. The puddle of lava is shallow, as is the lava in the easternmost portion of the tunnel - but one can plainly see the oncoming wave of molten rock coursing through the channel.

It is easy to spot the flow as it pours out of the channel and spreads out, covering up dry patches of stone. Soon, it reaches the glacial ice, and more steam boils upward.

Finally - success! The gap is filled, and a goat kid foul fog zombie is encased in ice in the process.

I order the lever to be pulled once more, and likely for the last time.

Likewise, I deactivate all of the magma pumps.

As before, the lava will continue to drain out of the channel until it dries completely. It can do that on its own - now, the dwarves have other tasks beneath the glacier that require their attention. With a portion of the map's edge secured, I can move forward and - what!?

Suddenly, amidst the eternal flow of job cancellations (apparently the fortress has run out of plump helmet spawn - a minor issue, remedied by the dwarves' consumption of plump helmets) I spot a distressing message. A dwarven child has bled to death!

continued in part two...