Chapter 63 :: A Decade in Darkness

March 29th, 2017

It is the 19th of Hematite, in the early summer of 1223. After two decades of struggle and strife, a deathly calm has settled atop the nightmare fortress of Roomcarnage. The forsaken dwarves of the Momentous Dye have themselves abandoned the surface, turning their attentions downwards, towards their final fate. There is no more hope of rescue, of reestablishing contact with the Mountainhome - there is only the frigid darkness, a promise of suffering and death, and the knowledge that the tale of these final days will never reach the outside world.

Yet even in these darkest days, the dwarves strive towards glory. Every adult has been enlisted into the military - alternating training schedules ensure that about half of the fortress is available for labor while the other half trains. Eventually, when the fortress is ready, the dwarves will seek out the most dire of foes - to perish, not in darkness and loneliness, but in fire and blood.

With no other great tasks at hand, there is very little work to be done. Most of the fortress trains - even those dwarves not on active duty - while a few others work to process ore or food.

The militia is led by commander Adil Claspedpalace, a talented axedwarf. Adil is clad in the finest equipment available in the fortress, including a suite of adamantine cloth artifacts - the Haunt of Apexes, an adamantine skirt; Carnagecold, an adamantine cloak; and Glowingcharms, an adamantine hood. I imagine that Adil must appear quite formidable, wrapped up with such finely wrought metal cloth. Will they actually provide meaningful protection? I will find out, in time.

For now, there is little else to be done except to allow time to pass. I observe the fortress, watching for months at a time as the dwarves go about their nameless tasks, known only to themselves and soon forgotten.

My vigil is occasionally disturbed by certain events - in this case, the arrival of a werezebra.

The beast is soon corrupted by foul fog - it will never reach the fortress beneath the ice.

After a minute or two of savage battle, the beast reverts to its dwarven form.

I often wonder what happens to these werecreatures after they leave the map. Do they spread the curse of foul fog to the rest of the map? Do they exist in a state of suspension within the code, used up and stored but never reintegrated with the world? Are they the reason the caravans have given up on reaching Roomcarnage? I cannot know.

As with all the others, the peasant flees the map soon after reverting to its natural form.

More time passes, and a dwarf begins working on a new artifact.

Interesting! An adamantine chest.

The object is quite valuable. If Roomcarnage had managed to become the Mountainhome, and received the monarch, the Defensive Noble Gifts might have been placed in their quarters.

Curiously, I notice that the artifact was crafted at a Clothier's Shop. That means that the Defensive Noble Gifts is actually made of adamantine cloth, and not regular metal. Fascinating.

Autumn arrives on the calendar.

A kobold ambush arrives at the outskirts of the fortress. Like the werezebra, they pose no threat whatsoever.

Besides the kobolds, autumn passes uneventfully.

In the winter, a hill titan arrives to menace the dwarves.

That is its intent, at least - in practice, there is little Gongith Tribehailed the Beards of Wind to menace except the undead.

Gongith sprays webs all around as it fights the undead, but I know it is a losing battle. Eventually the titan will succumb, just as all other visitors to Roomcarnage have succumbed.

I notice that, despite having come into contact with the foul fog, Gongith has not turned into a foul fog zombie. It would seem that monsters without skin - such as beasts comprised entirely of minerals - are immune to the foul fog.

In happier days, I might have attempted to capture the titan for my own purposes. Those days are long past, however. A corpse severs the spessartine titan's head with a mighty bite, and quiet returns to the surface.

Spring arrives on the calendar, bringing with it the annual deaths. This year, however, the situation is more grim than usual - no fewer than eight animals have perished of old age.

If I am not careful, Roomcarnage could end here and now - the dwarves deprived even of their final blaze of glory. I use the stocks screen to designate the corpses to be dumped, all eight - nine of them?

Ah, it would seem that one of the corpses is somehow on the surface. I doubt corpses can die of old age - but I am not sure why there is a corpse here, on the surface, at this time. Ah well, it doesn't make any difference.

I take identify the corpses' locations - five war dog corpses are in the lower food stockpile, not far from the incineration shaft. Most likely, these dogs were all of the same litter.

I order the Worthy Seals, the Rapidity of Ink, and the Everlasting Wires to station themselves in the lower food stockpile, to oversee the process of handling the corpses. If one of the bodies should reanimate, there will be warriors on hand to put the monster down.

I anxiously wait, while dwarves all over the fortress haul the corpses to the incineration shaft.

Soon, haulers arrive, and begin their work under the watchful eye of Commander Adil.

As the corpses are handled, I notice another sort of undead - a poltergeist. As time drags on, the appearance of spectral undead such as this one become much more commonplace.

I order a slab to be engraved, then return my attention to the task at hand.

Miraculously, not a single corpse is brought to unlife before they can all be hurled into the magma far below.

With a sigh of relief, I release the militia from their obligations.

In the fortress' early years, I sought to keep a population of dogs among the dwarves for protection. If one of the dwarves were to be struck down, the dogs would pile upon the foe, immobilizing it long enough for the militia to arrive. Now, though, the entire fortress is armed and armored, and in time even the lowliest peasant will grow more dangerous than even the fiercest dog.

The dogs of Roomcarnage no longer serve any meaningful purpose. Indeed, they are now only a liability, as evidenced by this past spring's mass death. I order all of them to be butchered. The cats will still remain, of course - although, they too serve no use. The Ice of Ghosts is dead - not even vermin choose to dwell here.

Only the dwarves.

As spring passes, another artifact is created.

The Soul-Hair of Hearts is creatively named, but ultimately useless.

The mass slaughter of the fortress' dogs takes some time, and for a while the process gums up the cage traps that surround the butcher's shops - as the animals are slain, the Ice of Ghosts usually animates their separated hides, which then tumble into a trap nearby. Eventually, though, the deed is done.

I order the cages containing dog skins to be placed in the statuary immediately to the east of the dining hall.

Another useless artifact...

...paradoxically named the Attack of Meditation. Or perhaps the name has a deeper meaning? I don't dwell on it too much.

As the months grind on, I make sure that the dwarves continue to produce food and drink for themselves. All that dog tallow is soon cooked into roasts, and the usual production of pig tail thread, the usual varieties of subterranean alcohol, and sugary sweet pod products continues apace.

The training, too, continues.

After the last of the dogs are slaughtered, I have the cages containing their reanimated skins placed in the statuary, alongside the rest.

Aha! Another piece of adamantine clothing.

An excellent artifact - Doursunk the Certain Sea is emblazoned with an image of the founding of Roomcarnage, not to mention all the other decorations.

I assign Doursunk the Certain Sea to commander Adil Claspedpalace's uniform. Now, in addition to - or on top of, probably - her copper plate, she wears a skirt, tunic, hood, and cloak of adamantine cloth.

Spring arrives - and for the first time in many years, nobody dies!

Well, not immediately, anyway.

The dead clothier's corpse lies in the lower food stockpile next to the copper chain they were held in. I had thought that the selective stockpiles to the north and south of the chains would ensure that nobody in jail would die of thirst or starvation - but apparently I was mistaken.

It is a pity, but perhaps it is also a blessing. Everyone in Roomcarnage must die eventually, but poor Inod may at least rest assured that their corpse will not be reanimated as an undead horror.

Another piece of adamantine clothing! This one is... a sock.

The Elevated Bite is rather underwhelming, as far as artifacts go.

Even so, I assign it to the militia commander.

Another artifact is created later in the year. As the time passes uneventfully, once rare occurrences seem to grow commonplace - in truth, seasons have passed between the creation of these two artifacts.

The decorations are nice, but like all artifacts that lack a functional use - such as furniture or weapons - Griffonsqueezed does nothing for the dwarves of the Momentous Dye.

The months grind by uneventfully into the new year.

As the attention I pay to certain occurrences decreases, their happening becomes almost periodic, routine. A new artifact is no longer cause for any more than the barest acknowledgement.

Of course, there are still interesting events. In the late spring, a kobold ambush arrives - at the paved eastern entrance. This area was secured at great effort by the dwarves of the Momentous Dye, only to discover soon after its completion that they had been abandoned by the Playful Spattered Walls. Some time afterwards, a kitten somehow came into contact with foul fog while wandering out here, and the entire area was abandoned.

The kobold interlopers succeed in slaying the kitten! What bravery.

Foul fog zombies are not invincible, of course - they can be slain by bisection or decapitation. In this case, one of the kobolds stabbed the life-hating kitten in the lower body, and - snicker-snack! - the severed part sails off in an arc.

Not long afterwards, thieves begin making off with valuable artifacts! How!?

Ah, of course. The passage to the west of the kobolds leads to the abandoned trade depot. Several bins sit against the northern wall, filled with valuable finished goods - laid aside in preparation for a caravan that never arrived. Interspersed with the bracelets, mugs, earrings, scepters, gems, and amulets, there are also a few artifacts.

Before the season is through, the kobolds steal a dozen or more items, including a few more artifacts. I do not know what will happen to these legendary items - perhaps, some distant day, an adventurer will happen by chance upon an ancient kobold treasure room, and discover a priceless relic of aeon-lost Roomcarnage. Or maybe it will sit, suspended in code, joining the likes of Rith Craftportent in the void beyond the edge of Dwarf Fortress.

Some artifacts are happy occurrences. Graspmarked the Eerie Wave will provide Commander Adil with unparalleled protection.

The year drags on, but still the kobolds do not leave. It makes sense - these thieves are not likely to abandon such a rich treasure trove.

Still - there is nothing separating the kobolds from the dwarves deep inside but a quartet of locked doors. I could raise the drawbridge - but there's no telling if some kobold thief is already deeper inside. It's better to just seal off that entire wing of the fortress, rather than risk reclaiming useless trade goods. I order the northern row of memorial slabs to be removed.

When they have been cleared away, I order a wall to be constructed, permanently sealing off the abandoned trade depot - and the kobolds that now occupy it. Let them have it - the dwarves of the Momentous Dye certainly have no use of it any longer.

Before long, the wall is complete. To rectify the resulting wonky fortress architecture, I have the doors separating the statuary and the memorial hall torn down, and the walls adjoining them carved away.

A useless, but remarkable artifact - the adamantine crown Geniusflies the Remarkable Coast bears an image of the doomed outpost liaison, Ézum Earthwane. Ézum perished in the same magma in which the dwarves now routinely incinerate their dead.

Speaking of incinerating the dead...

As per usual, I go into the stocks screen and order the resulting corpses to be dumped. There is one more - I order it to be dumped along with the other two. There are no alerts - all three cat corpses are incinerated without incident.

Amazing! An adamantine headscarf named Forestwept the Reputed Screams, covered with historical images.

I'm not sure if a headscarf will stack with a hood when it comes to Commander Adil's defense, but I see no point in not assigning it to her.

continued in part two...