Chapter 64 :: The Twilight Years

November 25th, 2017

It is the 16th of Felsite, in the late spring of 1233.

That is what I read on the screen. In our world, it is the 21st of November, in the late winter of 2017. I check the upload date on this chapter - July 20th. Four months have passed on Earth, while the Enchanted Planet has lain in stasis within my laptop's storage - the longest amount of time that has elapsed between the completion of a chapter's recording and when I begin writing my narration.

Why has it taken me so long to begin working through this chapter? Perhaps I have been discouraged by the sheer scope of the chapter, weighing in at 191 images that span more than a decade and a half of dwarf-time. Or perhaps I have felt burnt out by the actual act of playing through and recording the chapter, which took place over a three-month period - during much of which I was sitting idle, recording only the passage of the years and the creation of artifacts.

Or maybe I have put off completing this chapter because I have felt some sense of chilly trepidation regarding its content. I know how it begins - with the return of a malign intelligence to the fortress, and a decision regarding its ultimate fate. I know what lies in the middle - a grinding, mind-numbing passage of trackless years in darkness and isolation.

And I know how it ends - the moment where I decided to stop, to record the date and status screen, and to save the game, putting it aside for four months.

These are the twilight years of Roomcarnage. Long gone are the heady days of megaconstructions and magma deluges - the fearsome weapon itself has lain unused and broken for decades. Its adamantine and obsidian components were savaged years ago by the coalsmoke-spewing beast that still dwells in the abandoned, bloodstained tunnels of the upper fortress, and no attempt has ever been made to rebuilt it.

Before its destruction, the weapon was truly a thing to behold - a device capable of spewing vast amounts of molten rock out of the volcano and onto the surrounding glacier, turning the featureless plain of ice into a primal hellscape of fire and stone.

And it could not have been built without the help of a few dwarves with a particular condition, and a shared patron deity - Zon, a foreign god of fortresses.

When they first arrived, the surface was not so overrun by undead as it is now - there was still hope that they might make it past the swarm of corpses and into the safety of the fortress. The first of the worshipers of Zon, I noticed, wielded a pick in one hand - I ordered this dwarf, Rith Craftportent, to excavate a secluded antechamber some distance from the main fortress, where the other migrants might dwell in safety while a rescue attempt was made.

Fortunately for the dwarves of the Momentous Dye, I realized the true nature of Rith Craftportent and her compatriots before they were allowed into the fortress. In time, I even came to understand that their names were lies, an illusion aimed at myself alone - for the dwarves never seemed to have any problem recognizing the vampires for who and what they were.

For many years, Rith Craftportent dwelt in Roomcarnage without ever making contact with another living dwarf. Paradoxically, she was elected mayor in the early summer of 1204, and held that position until her untimely disappearance seven years later. Indeed, it is due to her political activity that I was able to discover her true name.

In the great statue hall of Roomcarnage, there is a figure of one Adil Crushedgild, commemorating her election to the position of mayor of the Momentous Dye in 1204. With her passing, the name Rith Craftportent disappeared from Roomcarnage forever.

But the same cannot be said of her spirit. Now, after more than two decades of absence, the disembodied spectre of the former mayor lurks in the dining hall which she was never able to reach in life.

Far above her, in the frozen halls not far from the mayor's old quarters, the foul fog zombie diagnoser Dumat Sensesstakes still stands. Dumat once followed the vampire mayor around the map like a faithful dog or a devoted servant - an unexplained occurrence that still sends a chill down my spine.

With the return of his master, I will have to keep an eye on Dumat's activity.

As for Adil Crushedgild - there is only one thing to be done about ghosts in Roomcarnage. Even the more benign ghosts are an unnecessary drain on general morale, and are memorialized on stone slabs as soon as they appear. This is a special case, however - the vampire mayor deserves better than a common schist, obsidian, or andesite memorial.

I turn my attention towards the darkest depths of the map - where twisting, half-excavated veins of adamantine lay shrouded in semi-molten rock and grim fortune. I order the stairwell to be extended down, one more level - and hold my breath.

A miner arrives, and carves out the down stairwell - only to find useless incandescence. I order a few more stairwells to be dug downward...

...and three boulders of raw adamantine are hewn from the layer below.

Using the stone restrictions menu, I forbid the use of all stones, economic or otherwise, in making rock furniture and equipment - all stones except raw adamantine.

Then, I order three slabs to be built.

The legendary mason, Sigun Savepaints, gets to work immediately.

After a few minutes of work, Sigun has produced three adamantine slabs - two of exceptional quality, and one true masterpiece.

Using the stocks menu, I forbid all slabs, and then unforbid the single masterfully crafted adamantine slab. In this .gif, it may seem as if some slabs are remaining unforbidden - it is because these have already been built.

To double check that only one slab is available, I try and build one - as expected, only the masterful adamantine slab shows up on the list.

With the rest of the slabs secured, I order a memorial to be engraved for Adil Crushedgild.

The legendary engraver, Urdim Rayswire, takes up the task.

I watch as Urdim collects the slab from the mason's workshop and carries it to the nearby craftsdwarf's workshop.

Soon, the task is complete.

After 470 years of life (if you can call it that), Adil Crushedgild met her end between two rising drawbridges. Slayer of goblins, admirer of black bears, would-be bane of the Momentous Dye.

So that's it, then. I move to place the memorial in the middle of the statue hall...

...and then I stop. I find myself suddenly conflicted - it seems so final, this memorial. Once is is built, the spirit of Adil Crushedgild will move on forever, never to return to this accursed hellhole.

It is a fate that cannot be afforded to all of the dwarves of the Momentous Dye. It is a mercy - a safe, tidy oblivion.

No. Adil Crushedgild came to Roomcarnage to feed, and failing that, to rule. She will spend eternity amid these haunted halls, forced to watch as the dwarves of the Momentous Dye go about their lives - gathering plants, brewing drink, executing precision weapon drills, day in and day out - until the fortress finally crumbles to its end... and even then, the ghostly vampire will be doomed to dwell in the quiet desolation until the end of time.

And so, life continues in Roomcarnage, as it always has - apprehensively, cautiously, and quietly, until some unspeakable horror suddenly occurs.

With no great project, no task at hand except for general military training and fortress upkeep, events that would normally be great cause for celebration are instead reduced to mere benchmarks in time.

In another fortress, this adamantine chausse might be considered a triumph of craftsdwarfship - but here in Roomcarnage, it is just another masterwork to be added to the stockpile.

"The Circumstances of Celebrating," indeed.

The 1st of Granite arrives on the calendar. Nearly a full year has passed since the arrival of the spirit of Adil Crushedgild, and I have noticed no ill effects - the ghostly vampire's long term residence seems to be a peaceful one, at least for the time being.

More artifacts - a charming toga of adamantine dubbed The Hood of Oiling...

...a casket of blood thorn, pertinently named Neverscours...

...and a highly decorated adamantine cloak named Tipdissolves.

As an artifact, Tipdissolves will never be worn out - it will last forever - and it offers protection that is light, but comprehensive. I add it to the captain of the guard's uniform.

Another year passes. As the season turns, three cats die of old age - their corpses are disposed of without incident.

Two more artifacts are created - they are, unfortunately, quite useless.

Crowns and scepters are very pretty, but even if Roomcarnage had a king, they would simply be relegated to a bin of finished goods.

Suddenly, a bronze colossus arrives - if my memory serves, this is the first beast of its kind to visit Roomcarnage.

Slospka Ultrayelled the Tenacious Brains has clearly slain many foes - although I suspect that its journey will end here, amidst the elf blood snowdrifts of the Ice of Ghosts.

I watch as Slospka barrels across the glacer, demolishing any undead that comes within reach.

Most of Slospka's foes crumple beneath its bronze fist - but then it is challenged by another megabeast: Slek Blazetalon the Unswerving Mold, a minotaur foul fog zombie.

The battle is one-sided, with the colossus throwing punch after punch, missing every time - but the foul fog zombie cannot seem to find an opening to retaliate.

As the battle rages, undead swarm towards the melee from all directions - corpses slain by the colossus return from the snow to fight again.

My attention is drawn away from the conflict by another artifact of dubious usefulness.

Querns are theoretically useful, in a domestic sense - but Roomcarnage already has a few querns, and milled plants are not critical to the fortress' continued survival in any case.

It is a very nice quern, though.

I return my attention to the surface, and find that Slospka Ultrayelled has been dogpiled by undead - but still lives.

Page after page of battle reports tell the same story - a swarm of rotten corpses and foul fog zombies have pinned the colossus to the ice, and are attacking it mercilessly with every attack at their disposal.

No matter how hard they try, however, the undead cannot slay the bronze colossus. Perhaps it is because the colossus is so large - or, more likely, they do not have any attack that can pierce bronze. It is also curious to note that, as an elemental creature, Slospka Ultrayelled the Tenacious Brains is immune to the effects of the foul fog.

The battle upon the Ice of Ghosts is still raging as the year turns.

New artifacts are created each year - some more interesting or useful than others.

Leadwatchful the adamantine mask is one of the rare artifacts that I find to be both fascinating and useless - it evokes images of a dwarven prisoner with an unseen face in a dark dungeon, or of secret rites carried out in the dead of night by the light of incandescent stone.

It is, however, entirely useless...

...as are Tangledangers the Boat of Sundering, the native copper mug...

...and Splashorder the obsidian bracelet. Although, Splashorder does have a depiction of a dragon attack, which is pretty exciting. Even so, the slowly passing years are starting to feel rather tedious - if not boring. I look for something to keep things a little more interesting.

Aha! Bëmbul Brushedguild, legendary engraver, idly wanders the halls of the fortress. I have a task for her.

I designate the floor of the entire statuary and memorial hall to be engraved.

Bëmbul wastes no time getting to work, and soon the statuary gleams with dozens of new engravings. If there was still any possibility of a visit from the mountainhome, I would hope that the sudden spike in Roomcarnage's architectural value would entice them to make the voyage.

Not to mention the steadily growing treasure-trove of priceless artifacts that the dwarves keep churning out.

Many of these artifacts bear images of conflict - battles that took place in past centuries, often in the Ice of Ghosts. The evil glacier is vast, and the space occupied by Roomcarnage and its surroundings is tiny by comparison - I can only assume that there are other regions of the Ice of Ghosts that are more readily trod by beasts and travelers.

Monsters in Roomcarnage can be found aplenty - of travelers, there are none.

Another year grinds by...

...bringing with it more of the same.

continued in part two...