Chapter 62 :: The Army of the Momentous Dye

January 1st, 2017

It is the 5th of Granite in the early spring of 1221. The dwarves of the Momentous Dye have endured the wrath of the Ice of Ghosts for twenty years - two full decades of ravaging undead, punctuated by vampires, ghosts, and loyalty cascades. Twenty years can be a long time for a fortress - it is certainly far longer than I ever expected Roomcarnage to last.

Since they first struck the earth in the early spring of 1201, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have accomplished many great deeds in the face of dire threats and icy savagery. Out of obsidian and adamantine they wrought the mighty lava-spewing weapon, and from the Ice of Ghosts itself they produced a well of drinkable water. They have sown the lifeless cavern mud and defeated nightmare beasts from beyond the reach of time. They have not merely persisted - they have flourished.

But now, twenty years after the first pick struck the Ice of Ghosts, mere endurance and little else is what is left to the dwarves of the Momentous Dye. Time passes, flowing like cold dwarven syrup from an overturned pot, days into months into years. One by one, the dwarves' hopes for glory have been crushed by the cruel malevolence that haunts the fortress.

I recall how, many years ago, I hoped that the dwarves would be able to purge the surface of undead, using clever traps to defeat the shambling corpses. The pernicious contaminant known as foul fog put and end to that hope. Then, I hoped to annihilate the undead in a cataclysmic deluge of molten rock. The weapon succeeded, and the undead were annihilated - but not thoroughly enough to rid the surface of foul fog. Finally, when I had hoped to make contact with the mountainhome through a secure passage to the surface, free of foul fog, the dwarven caravans ceased their journeys. Not that it mattered - the passage was inexplicably contaminated soon after I realized the dwarves' efforts had been in vain.

The situation is grim. The surface and caverns alike have been forsaken - they offer nothing to the dwarves anymore except a frigid, ignominious death. Only one realm remains in which the dwarves may seek triumph and glory.

I have already bolstered the fortress' military. Now, the time has come to prepare for the final battle in earnest. I create four new militia squads - the Prime Nets, the Silvery Soldiers, the Righteous Labors, and the Silvery Whiskers.

Before I enlist a new round of fresh recruits, I must create a new set of training schedules. In time, nearly every dwarf in the fortress will be enlisted - but, while the recruits are training, the fortress must continue producing food, clothing, drink, and so on. I decide to create two training schedules - A and B.

I decide to err on the less restrictive side, and create a training order with a mere 4 soldier minimum.

Then, I copy that training order onto the first six months of every squad's schedule when they are on Training Schedule A.

I do the same thing for Training Schedule B, except that it applies only to the last six months of each year.

While I could create a single training schedule, and manually assign orders for each squad as appropriate, I have set up these schedules so that I can easily and quickly shift squads between schedules at will, should the need arise.

Before I begin enlisting the recruits, I notice that the Rapidity of Ink has no active members. The Fortress Guard was slain years ago during a horrific tantrum spiral that set the militia commander against the captain of the guard. I have kept the position of captain empty - I know from past experience that appointing a dwarf to be captain of the guard after a period of vacancy can result in a flurry of dwarven "justice." I decide to test the waters by appointing the hammerer Sodel Climaxbooks to the role of captain.

As I expected - a moment after being promoted, Sodel Climaxbooks sets about dispensing justice.

...or, he would, if something odd weren't going on. Invalid officer?

Curious. I check the justice screen and find four active cases - two dwarves sentenced to a beating, and two to jail time. Unfortunately, with precisely zero cages or chains set aside for use by the fortress guard, all criminals will be sentenced to a beating - or worse. It's either that, or forgo having a captain of the guard at all.

I'd rather the dwarves suffer through whatever draconian punishment awaits them, than allow them to engage the nameless evil without a captain. I clear away a small area in the food and drink stockpiles, and order a series of copper chains to be attached to the rough-hewn stone floor. That ought to reduce the number of beatings.

Also, it seems likely that having a dwarf serve as both captain of the guard and hammerer would pose a conflict of interest. I return Sodel to his position as second in command of the Worthy Seals.

Then, I order ten more copper chains to be forged.

The extra chains will fill out the jail, just to satisfy the recommended number of restraints. I create jail "cells" with the chains that are already in place, and assign them to be used for justice. All that remains is to select a dwarf to be the new captain of the guard.

I scour the roster for a dwarf who fits the bill. Finally, I find a prime contender - Stukos Rackwashed. A pessimistic, immodest, uncompromising, unhelpful, very weak klutz who finds rules confining and has a feel for music.

It's the "very weak" part of Stukos that makes him desirable for the role. Roomcarnage is a delicate environment, and a savage beating could cause far more trouble than a few broken bones. Armok willing, Stukos Rackwashed won't kill anyone while administering beatings.

Stukos wastes no time in carrying out his duty, even though he is only equipped with a pair of trousers, a dress, a vest, and a pair of socks.

The first criminal, an axedwarf, is very close.

Captain Stukos manages to only bruise the criminal - the rest of his attacks are deflected.

No sooner has Stukos beaten one criminal than he sets off to beat another.

Before he can find the second criminal, however, Stukos' military status is activated. He takes a break to go retrieve some equipment.

Apparently retrieving equipment also means leaving some behind. Naked, equipped with only an exceptional adamantine spear, Stukos heads off to complete the beatings.

He finds the next criminal - a planter - in the old statuary.

This time, captain Stukos' beating is not so gentle - by the time he is finished, the bones in the poor planter's foot, left lower arm, and left hand have been shattered or broken.

Leaving the planter unconscious on the floor of the old statuary, the captain strolls off to deliver another beating.

Captain Stukos finds the criminal in the dining hall.

This planter fares slightly better - several bruises and a broken arm.

Stukos has but one more beating to administer before justice is served.

This last sentence gives me pause - the fortress' chief medical dwarf, Stodir Beachedtombs, is to be beaten for violating a production order. It is a sad consequence, that Roomcarnage's finest doctor should be made to suffer for an incomplete mandate - but who am I to judge? To the dwarves, this is justice - I will allow it.

Before the beating can be carried out, I am reminded of the danger that lurks just beyond the death of any member of the fortress. The slaughter of the stray kitten is to be expected - the shambling dog corpse is distressing.

Fortunately, the dog corpse's living relatives deal with the threat before anyone is harmed. I order the body to be dumped.

As the chief medical dwarf Stodir Beachtombs treats the wounds of one of the beaten planters, the captain of the guard steps through the door menacingly.

Fortunately, the chief medical dwarf suffers little more than several bruises and some hurt feelings.

His duties complete, Stukos Rackwashed heads back to the armory, to equip the rest of his uniform. Meanwhile, Stodir Beachtombs abandons his patient and angrily heads off to the food stockpiles to get a drink.

Meanwhile, the dog corpse is tossed into the magma sea, and is incinerated instantly.

Time to continue expanding the military. Starting with the Rapidity of Ink, I enlist all civilian dwarves, moving on to another squad whenever one is filled. I intentionally gloss over the Everlasting Wires, which exists only so I can give direct orders to the mayor if it is necessary.

In the end, the Rapidity of Ink, the Prime Nets, the Silvery Soldiers, the Righteous Labors, and the Silvery Whiskers are all filled with new recruits. However, there remain civilians in the fortress who are not yet enlisted.

I create two more new squads - the Brave Pages and the Wilted Keys - and fill them with recruits.

Still, a few civilians remain. I add them to the Everlasting Wires - if I need to order the mayor around, it is possible to issue commands to him individually. Besides, good old mayor Urvad needs some training partners.

I copy the previously assigned training schedules over to the newly created squads.

Then, I assign squads to the training schedules. The Worthy Seals, the Rapidity of Ink, the Everlasting Wires, the Tin Diversions, and the Labyrinthine Paints will train for the first six months of each year, while the Prime Nets, the Silvery Soldiers, the Righteous Labors, the Silvery Whiskers, the Brave Pages, and the Wilted Keys will train for the latter six months.

Finally, a greatly expanded military will require a fortune in arms and armor. I order a round of sixty suits of copper plate armor, consisting of a breastplate, greaves, high boots, gauntlets, and helms.

Finally, I decide against my previous training orders of four minimum dwarves, and raise it to eight.

As the training orders begin to work their way through the system, summer arrives on the calendar.

In the early summer, a brewer is taken by a mood and produces an artifact obsidian coffer.

For an a chest named the Portal of Despair, it is rather nondescript.

I go through the units list. I am satisfied to find so many of the dwarves engaged in individual combat drills. Meanwhile, the experienced warriors are giving lessons to one another - in time, I hope, most of the dwarves will be operating at this higher level. For now, I am content for the new recruits to get the hang of swinging a blade - or their fists, which seems more likely at this point.

The dining hall is bustling with activity, while the rest of the fortress seems abandoned. Now, as with many other times in the history of Roomcarnage, the collective focus of the Momentous Dye is trained upon a single goal - only a handful of dwarves stand idle at any given time.

In the midsummer, a ghostly swordsdwarf returns to haunt the fortress.

I search the engraving list, but cannot find the name Sodel Mìshosmörul.

The swordsdwarf Sodel Beachedpage is doomed to haunt Roomcarnage forever, never to achieve the rest granted to those whose named may be written in stone. Fortunately for these last dwarves of the Momentous Dye, Sodel is only a mildly troubling haunt, bothering past acquaintances and relatives.

Autumn arrives. The dwarves on Training Schedule A go off-duty.

Training Schedule B consists entirely of new recruits.

I check in on the cat population, and issue the necessary orders. Still, I notice that one of the kittens has already adopted a dwarf.

Of course - a simple change in building placement, one that ought to have taken place a long time ago. I slate all the tanner's shops for removal.

In their place, I order three butcher's shops built. Roomcarnage has no immediate need of leather - and besides, most fresh raw hide produced in the fortress rises into undeath before it can be tanned.

Fall passes into Winter.

The dwarves produce another artifact.

A useless copper toy boat named Famevoices. It will lie unused in the finished goods stockpiles, until some time in the future when an adventurer either bravely or foolishly decides to explore Roomcarnage.

continued in part two...