Chapter 61 :: The Militia Commander's New Clothes

August 28th, 2016

It is the 16th of Moonstone, in the early winter of 1217. Years have passed since the last travelers from the Playful Spattered Walls set foot upon the Ice of Ghosts - it is clear now that the Mountainhome has forsaken Roomcarnage and all its inhabitants, abandoning them to a frigid, agonizing fate beneath the haunted glacier. No word of their exploits will ever reach warm ears to the south, and all their masterworks will be entombed along with their twitching corpses. All that will remain is their glory - the nostalgic tale of their final days, a ghostly mantra repeated by the forgotten few who will be the last to die.

Having given up on the surface - and any real hope on becoming the Mountainhome - it is clear that Roomcarnage's ultimate obstacle now lies below. I am not content to simply bore down and condemn the fortress, however - such a fate would be as boring as waiting for centuries for a fatal mistake to occur. If the dwarves are to achieve glory now, it must be in combat as trained warriors, and not as weaklings cowering behind mountains of stone.

Thus, I have resolved to train a new military. I have started with three squads, led by militia commander Adil Claspedpalace, the only survivor of the previous militia. The rest of the Worthy Seals perished in the attack of Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors - the Rapidity of Ink and twenty marksdwarves were obliterated in a loyalty cascade. Only Adil, who was left in reserve, remained alive.

The militia is well-armed and armored with the best equipment the fortress has to offer. Most are clad in gleaming copper plate armor and wield razor-sharp swords and axes forged of translucent adamantine.

Even so, it will take years - decades, perhaps - for these recruits to reach the level of skill I am aiming for. For now, I am content to wait - dealing with minor threats as they arise, making sure the dwarves are well-clothed and keeping the fortress' stockpiles from running dry.

Behind their mighty constructions, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye cannot be touched by their physical enemies. Both the surface and caverns alike are ridden with nightmarish monsters who have no way of reaching the dwarves.

Most of the foes on the map are reanimated undead, of course. Newcomers like Sárek Attackassaults may stick it out for a while, but eventually all living things upon and beneath the Ice of Ghosts succumb to undeath. So will it eventually be for the dwarves of the Momentous Dye as well.

But in the meantime there is work to be done. Roomcarnage's warriors should be as well-armored as possible, so I have ordered the legendary weaver Uzol Knifebrass to create metal cloth from processed adamantine strands.

At the loom, Uzol masterfully weaves the threads into unbreakable cloth. This cloth can be tailored into powerful cloaks, which can be worn over the rest of a warrior's armor.

Spring arrives on the calendar. The passage of time in Roomcarnage means almost nothing - there are no seasons to speak of, and even the annual arrival of the caravan is a thing of the past. For the dwarves of the Momentous Dye, the turning of the year is marked by death. A peaceful death, of old age, but death nonetheless.

And besides, the death is only peaceful for the ones dying.

This year, only a single member of the fortress passes away - a stray war dog.

This brave animal has sprung to the defense of its masters countless times. Now it has the potential to inspire that same bravery in its living relatives. I would prefer it didn't fulfill that potential - I order the dog's corpse to be dumped into magma and incinerated.

Before a hauler can arrive, the corpse shudders to its paws and snarls mindlessly.

The entire pack, smelling the unmistakable scent of undeath, turn upon the monster.

There are a few close moments - an opened artery, some severed nerves, torn fat, and so on - but for the most part the dogs and dwarves emerge unscathed.

Again, I order the corpse to be dumped.

I follow the body as it is hauled north, across the fungus farms, and down the stairwell into the dining hall.

Beyond the dining hall, the hauler traverses the lower food stockpile and hurls the corpse down an open shaft leading directly to the magma sea. The dog corpse plummets into the molten rock and is instantly obliterated.

At the end of Granite, a new monster appears in the fortress, heralded by a distressing job cancellation.

I locate the bone carver who spotted the foul fog zombie, then trace his path back up into the trade depot. Just beyond, in the paved hallway leading to the surface, I find it - lurking, opposed to all life, far more dangerous than any forgotten beast or reanimated corpse, and oddly adorable.

How could this happen? I scour the surface, examining each stray object, every patch of obsidian. I even check the z-level above. There is no evidence of when or where the kitten was exposed to foul fog. I cannot even be sure it is from the fortress.

In any case, the kitten poses a dire threat. Foul fog is highly contagious - there is no telling what would happen if this monster were to reach the inner fortress.

I wait until the bone carver has reached the safety of the memorial hall - then, I order the four doors leading to the trade depot to be locked and sealed tightly.

Then, life continues as normal. There was no real need to travel up to the trade depot before - if such a need were to arise, I would deal with the kitten then. For now - the trade depot is as good as useless.

The spring grinds on. A dwarven child is taken by a mood.

Predictably, the child claims a craftsdwarf's workshop. Whatever "Med Imgoz" is, it is a safe bet that it will be useless.

Production is stalled, however, when it becomes clear that a type of raw material is missing. "Gems... shining..." refers to cut gemstones - all of which were sealed off when the doors leading to the trade depot were locked.

More raw gems will need to be mined out, and then cut. All around the fortress - in the captain's quarters, in the hospital, in the stockpiles - I order raw gems to be excavated.

Then, I order the newly excavated gems to be cut by a jeweler.

Soon after the gems have been cut, Ilral begins construction of Med Imgoz.

Much to my surprise, this artifact is not totally useless! An indestructible hatch cover may come in handy someday.

It's not much to look at - but it is far more useful than a scepter, or a mug, or a crown. The cover's name - "The Abatement of Sundering" - is quite appropriate for an object that is functionally indestructible.

"The fortress attracted no migrants this season." It would seem that the rest of dwarfkind has truly forsaken the Momentous Dye to a dark fate beneath the mountain.

It is time to begin implementing my plan for using the newly-woven adamantine cloth. Most adamantine clothing is of limited use - the garments decay at the same rate as vegetable- and animal-fiber cloth, despite adamantine's wondrous properties. However, if the metal cloth is selected by a novice clothier to complete a mood, the resulting artifact will never decay, or show any signs of wear.

To this end, I look through the fortress' peasants and identify those who have not already had a strange mood. Then, I enable their Clothesmaking labor.

To train these inexperienced clothiers, I place work orders for several dozen pig tail fiber garments. The peasants will complete the tasks, gain skill in tailoring - and when they become moody, they will seek out adamantine cloth to complete their mood.

Summer arrives on the calendar.

Another forgotten beast arrives in the deep.

Cuthabe Abysssank the Murky Oceans - a terrifying creature that the dwarves will probably never encounter.

Summer passes slowly. My efforts with the amateur clothiers pay off quickly. This planter was formerly a peasant, but his skill at plant gathering (gained as a child) caused his to switch professions soon after becoming an adult.

Degël Doorclean claims a clothier's shop. So far so good.

I watch eagerly as the moody planter gathers their first material, the material that will determine the properties of the artifact - masterfully crafted adamantine cloth.

Soon, construction begins on the adamantine clothing. I can't wait to see what it will be...

I am momentarily distracted by the appearance of a thieving poltergeist.

I find the ghost next to the reanimated corpse of a towering opossum - near the surface, mercifully.

I order a memorial to be engraved for Inod Windlanterns.

Once it is complete, I order it to be placed in the memorial hall.

Before the memorial can be put in place, the moody clothier completes their artifact! Praise be to Armok, it is an adamantine cloak!

I view the cloak's description, and shiver involuntarily. The name of the garment - "Carnagecold" - makes me hesitate before reading the rest of the description. The tendency for this game to err towards the uncanny never fails to unsettle me. Fortunately, the rest of the cloak is relatively benign - the usual bands and rings and spikes, along with images of foul blendecs, ettins, and spore trees.

And now Degël Doorclean is a legendary clothier. I intend to continue training the other potentials - to keep Degël from getting in the way, I disable his clothesmaking labor.

Life continues in Roomcarnage. The slab is finally put into place, and the errant ghost is laid to rest. Little is left to do but wait, and allow the fortress to grow idle.

It occurs to me that Roomcarnage may be idle for some time. I order a batch of fresh slabs to be crafted.

In the meantime, I decide to equip Adil Claspedpalace with Carnagecold.

Shortly after I alter her uniform, commander Adil travels to the clothing stockpile to equip her new armor.

Carnagecold will provide the commander with steadfast protection against piercing and slashing attacks until the end of her days. I can only hope that the masterfully crafted suit of copper plate armor beneath will provide adequate protection against anything else.

Autumn arrives on the calendar. In the past, this was an auspicious time of year. Together with the turn of the year, the arrival of the caravan broke the monotony of the depths. Now, only death serves to mark the passage of time.

Another forgotten beast comes to Roomcarnage.

The dwarves pay it no mind.

Winter arrives.

Good fortune! Another dwarf is taken by a mood.

The clothier claims a workshop...

...and has soon gathered a collection of raw materials.

While Unib works, a werezebra arrives. I pay it no mind - neither do the dwarves.

Wonderful! An adamantine cap.

It's an interesting artifact, featuring an image of a dwarf vampire by the name of Tulon Gladnesscudgel. Tulon's ascension to the position of king of the Playful Spattered Walls in the late autumn of 928 must have been an important event. Or maybe not.

In any case, the current king is not Tulon Gladnesscudgel - Tulon must have been deposed at some point. Not that it would make any difference - I have no hope of Roomcarnage becoming the mountainhome, or a monarch choosing to make the journey across the Ice of Ghosts.

I am not sure if Commander Adil will be able to equip Gearedrampages the adamantine cap on top of her current headgear. I assign the artifact anyway.

After a week or two, I check Adil's inventory - she has not equipped the cap. It probably cannot fit over her adamantine helm.

I unassign Gearedrampages, and allow the glacial passage of time to continue.