Chapter 60 :: A Year of Greed

June 11th, 2016

It is the 16th of Moonstone, in the early winter of 1216. A grim pall has fallen upon the accursed fortress Roomcarnage, smothering home and liveliness. The dwarves of the Momentous Dye, condemned the moment they set foot upon the Ice of Ghosts, are faced with the possibility that they may never hear from the mountainhome again.

The road is clear - it stretches off across the Ice, obscured but never obstructed by the ever-shifting elf blood blizzard. All throughout the fall, the dwarves kept watch over the road, praying for the sight of the approaching caravan - but witnessed only winter. For the second year in a row, the merchants have not reached their destination - or, perhaps, even embarked upon their journey in the first place. Perhaps the monarch has given up on reaching Roomcarnage, or perhaps there are none left who are willing to brave the frozen road and the undead that guard it.

Faced with a future of isolation and darkness, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye make a grave choice. Kol Fanggravel, a legendary miner who arrived at Roomcarnage in the mid-spring of 1202, now strides through the deepest mines, where he will dig just a little deeper.

And why not? The surface is a lost cause - overrun with undead and contaminated by swaths of foul fog. If the mountainhome does decide to send a caravan any time in the future, the gates will be open - but the dwarves of the Momentous Dye are not content to wait. Instead, they will spend this time preparing for the final battle - when the enemy finally strikes into the heart of Roomcarnage, and the fortress crumbles in a final deluge of blood and fire.

I notice that Kol Fanggravel is responsible for crafting an artifact - an orpiment grate, named after himself. Perhaps it is an abstract self-portrait? I cannot say.

I follow Kol through the darkened passage, to the stairwell that leads down into deep chambers with walls of hot grey stone, struck through with strands of gleaming cyan. I hold my breath as he carves downward...

...but there is no disaster. This level, however, will only produce a measly eight units of adamantine - I am planning on outfitting an entire army of dwarves. I order Kol to dig another downward staircase.

Kol, however, has unavailable to work - he is returning to the fortress for a drink.

Vutok Grottopainted, another legendary miner, will take up the task.

The stairway is completed quickly, and without incident. Other miners start to head down into the mines, to do their part in excavating the priceless ore.

How much ore will be needed? I'm not sure. Perhaps the dwarves will simply mine the adamantine until they have enough.

As Vutok carves her way through the lower level, I continually designate the newly-exposed ore to be mined.

Soon, haulers arrive, and the passage to the adamantine spire is crowded with dwarves.

Mining progresses steadily - although occasionally, a miner will take up hauling work rather than mining. That's alright - I'm not in any particular rush.

When mining is completed, I assess the fortress' accumulation of raw adamantine using the stocks menu. 109 units isn't bad at all - but why is some of the ore forbidden?

Expanding the menu to view each individual boulder, I find a large swath of forbidden adamantine ore.

I zoom to the location of one of these boulders - and find an already mined out spire, littered with dozens of adamantine boulders. At the top of the vein, I find a passage. Following that passage to the north, I find a spattering of blood, a set of clothing, and a few broken teeth - I find the reanimated corpse of their previous owner, covered from head to toe with forgotten beast extract, a little further to the north.

I know what happened here. During the attack of Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors, entire sectors were abandoned. This vein of adamantine must have been one of those sectors - which means it is still connected to the abandoned fortress above, which the nightmarish coal beast has claimed as its lair.

The operation will be dangerous, but I cannot allow such a vast quantity of adamantine to go to waste. I order a passage to be carved, leading from the currently accessible mines to the old, abandoned tunnels.

A miner arrives quickly and begins working. I watch anxiously - as soon as the dwarf's pick breaks through into the old mines, the rest of those abandoned tunnels will need to be sealed off as quickly as possible.

Suddenly, the game pauses - the last bit of tunnel runs through warm stone.

The uppermost portion of the molten core lies right beneath the dwarf's feet - a thin layer of gabbro is all that separates miner from magma.

There is no immediate danger here - digging continues, as each tile in turn is cancelled, redesignated, and hewn.

I pause as soon as the last bit of stone is carved away. I order the stairwell to be walled up - sealing away abandoned portions of the fortress, infested with undead and worse.

The miner, who is already present at the site, merrily obliges. The wall is built and the adamantine secured without incident.

In order to maintain at least the illusion of efficiency, I order a more direct tunnel to be carved between the adamantine and the rest of the mines.

Then, I go through and unforbid all of the adamantine.

The time has come to begin extraction. I queue up a single repeating order at each craftsdwarf's workshop.

The mines are soon bustling with haulers. The salvage operation is a success!

This is the bottleneck of adamantine processing - strand extraction is a time-intensive process, and too few extractors working at a time produces a stall in production and an accumulation of raw ore.

As the ore accumulates, I recognize an issue - there are only seven workshops available. At one time, there were nearly twice that number - however, several workshops were torn down so that another could be surrounded by block walls. Nevermind what resides within those walls - it is clear that more workshops are needed, if extraction is going to proceed in a timely manner.

The expansion to the workshop area is simple, if inelegant.

The area is mined out quickly...

...and I order five new craftsdwarf's workshops to be built.

The buildings are completed in a timely manner...

...and I queue up another round of repeating orders.

Soon, the workshops are bustling with activity. The stone halls of Roomcarnage echo with the mysterious sound of adamantine extraction.

As the dwarves work, the mayor issues a mandate.

Pitifully optimistic mayor Urvad has ordered the construction of rings - in the hope, I assume, that the caravan may yet arrive some day.

I don't share Urvad's optimism, but part of me hopes that I am proven wrong. I order a full round of thirty rock crafts to be built - at least three of those will be rings, I'm sure of it.

Suddenly, a child is taken with a secretive mood!

Predictably, the child claims a craftsdwarf's workshop. I sincerely hope that all of the materials little Sigun desires are available - or else the dwarves will have another wall to build, and I will have to order another expansion of the workshops.

As the child works, a rare event occurs - a werelizard has visited the fortress! It is a rare thing when any creature deigns to travel to Roomcarnage at all.

My momentary excitement evaporates like elf blood snow before a magma flood as I read closer - our visitor is a "werelizard foul fog zombie."

Well, shit.

For better or worse, Idla Squeezingscolds is now afflicted by two curses.

The undead werelizard seems to still hold certain allegiances, however - I watch as the monster tromps about the glacier, striking down corpse after corpse with relative ease.

Suddenly, the werecurse fades, and Idla returns to her human form.

She is still a foul fog zombie, however.

Idla flees off the map - to where, I cannot say. Perhaps she will spread the foul fog to some other settlement. Perhaps she will remain on the Ice of Ghosts, home to the present and future dead.

Soon after Idla flees, little Sigun begins construction of the artifact. I breathe a sigh of relief - I did not savor the possibility of having to isolate another child.

The child completes their artifact - an earring, named after its creator.

Apparently Sigun used up three raw adamantine boulders to complete this earring. I am reconsidering whether or not I should have walled them in - but no. Roomcarnage needs the help of every dwarf in the fortress if it is to achieve glory in the wars to come.

The artifact complete, Sigun vacates the workshop - and I replace the extraction order that was cancelled by the mood.

Work resumes as normal.

It is as good a time as any to begin the next phase of processing - the smelting of adamantine strands into paper-thin wafers of translucent cyan.

Just as the first furnace operator arrives at the smelter, Spring arrives on the calendar.

It is now the 1st of Granite in the near 1217, exactly sixteen years after the dwarves of the Momentous Dye first set foot upon the slopes of the Oily Furnace - and, as often happens at the turn of the new year, something dies of old age. This time, it is just a dog.

I order the corpse to be dumped...

...and a dwarf hauls it off and tosses it into the magma shaft without incident. The dog's body strikes the molten sea and is incinerated instantly.

I take stock of the fortress' adamantine stores. 21 boulders of raw ore, 81 strands, and 5 wafers - enough to outfit the fortress' military with an arsenal of adamantine weaponry, at least.

I watch as the dwarves work their way through the last few boulders of ore, while the smelters are hard at work churning out wafer upon wafer of pure adamantine.

A notification appears - the mayor has imposed a ban on exports.

So those rings weren't for the caravan, hm? Well, Urvad, this is one mandate I think I won't have any difficulty complying with.

Suddenly, a less savory notification appears - a furious ghost has possessed a living dwarf somewhere else in the fortress.

It is the angry specter of Äs Apexrazor - ghosts of this kind can possess the living, and force them to throw potentially dangerous tantrums.

Fortunately, Äs' name appears on the engraving list - along with another ghost I hadn't noticed. I order memorials to be engraved for both spirits.

I check in on the workshops - strand extraction is complete, and all that remains is for the smelters to process the remaining strands into wafers.

Later in the month, I receive a notification - the fortress has attracted no migrants this season. It is a mercy.

continued in part two...