Chapter 67 :: Urist's Bane

December 9th, 2019

It is the 9th of Felsite, in the late spring of 1256. A reckoning has come to Roomcarnage, the result of a simple equation shared in the nature of every fortress - that a band of dwarves possessed of unlimited greed will eventually find their way to a single point in a limited realm. Of course, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye now find themselves brought to the precipice of oblivion less out of greed and more out of their own tedium, but the result is the same.

Shadow and flame.

At the bottom of the long, hollow shaft of adamantine, just at the edge of the miner Vutok Grottopainted's range of perception, lurk the armies of hell.

That army will soon hurtle up the shaft and pour into the fortress. I'd rather not have a stray hauler come to collect this boulder of raw adamantine at exactly the worst moment, so I forbid it.

To "encourage" Vutok Grottopainted to leave the area immediately, I designate a single tile to be dug, just beyond the breach that will soon be sealed off. The dwarves of the Momentous Dye have crafted a deadly trap, into which the demons will be redirected once the access tunnel to the west of the statue is closed off.

Showing excellent decision making, Vutok takes up the job and leaves the adamantine mine without hesitation.

The framerate plummets to a speed I normally associate with the vast magma deluges of Roomcarnage's early years. The demons hurtle upwards in slow-motion.

Vutok's sprint appears a crawl.

This hit to the fortress' FPS is expected - I remind myself that patience is a virtue, and spend several minutes watching ampersands flash on my screen.

Finally, after what seems like forever, Vutok emerges from the access tunnel.

The time has come. There are two forbidden levers in the dining hall - the first linking directly to the deadly stone-fall trap, and the second to the plug that will seal the tunnel, blocking off direct access to the fortress. I reclaim the andesite mechanism within the second lever - "releasing the safety" - and order it to be pulled.

Astesh Daggerled takes up the job, and must now traverse the entire length of the fortress to complete it.

Fortunately Astesh reaches the lever before the demons emerge from the depths.

The massive block of stone crunches into place, sealing the passageway. The cloud of smoke dissipates - but where are the demons?

The adamantine tube was so deep that the hellspawn have taken all this time traversing its length - the fastest, a Slush Spirit, is still several urists away from the adamantine mine.

I follow the Slush Spirit, eagerly watching as it emerges from the tunnel - but my anticipation is chilled as the demon slips past the tunnel leading to the stone-fall trap and emerges into a part of the dungeon I did not expect.

For the past five years, the dragon foul fog zombie Inira Diamondjade the Torrid Silver of Glows has stood here, seemingly transfixed by Sneakslayers the artifact dog bone door.

It seems that the dog bone door has a universal appeal. As I watch, two more Slush Spirits join the first.

I take a moment to review the types of demons that have emerged from the abyss. There are the Slush Spirits, of course - undulating, poisonous ticks composed entirely of snow. These types of creatures, I know, are remarkably fragile - a well-placed kick or punch to their midsection is often enough to shatter the entire demon.

It is the same with other beasts composed of gases or liquids, such as this Wraith of Steam...

...or this Tear Fiend. Although the idea of a demon blob made up of the tears of the weeping damned is metal as fuck, in practice it's considerably less fun.

There are several Haunts of Cinders - also a very fragile monster.

Speaking of fragile monsters, there is this salty horror.

Only two types of demons out of the entire invasion force are organic - there are the Butterfly Demons, which promise to be much more resilient.

As well, there are Chickadee Demons - both of these types possess deadly blood, which could be quite fun if these demons are to be met in combat.

I review the entire roster of fiends - twenty-six Slush Spirits, twenty Wraiths of Steam, eight Tear Fiends, fourteen Haunts of Cinders, ten White Monsters, twelve Butterfly Demons, and one chickadee demon. Perhaps the Chickadee Demon is their general.

In any case, it's a little bit of a disappointment, compounded by the fact that all this fragile hellspawn is cramming into a tiny tunnel to stare at a dog bone door.

I watch as demon after demon piles in, waiting to see if there is any change in their behavior.

Of course, there is none.

The passageway leading to the stone-fall trap is disappointingly empty. It was a rather large undertaking, involving years of work by the fortress' miners and mechanics.

Well. If the demons won't walk into the trap, the trap will have to come to them.

There is a lull in arrivals - all, or nearly all of the demons now stand tidily upon a single tile.

I designate the outline of a new trap in the stone just above the demons.

The trap is connected to the rest of the fortress via an already existing access tunnel.

As the miners get to work, I make a last-minute consideration - by extending the trap slightly, I can block off the tunnels on the south side of the dog bone door, thus reclaiming it. Perhaps, in the process, Iniri Diamonjade the Torrid Silver of Glows will be freed to roam the abandoned fortress once again.

Time drags by. I take a moment to edit the initialization files and have the FPS displayed long enough to capture a few .gifs. Normally I leave the FPS off - I think it makes my .gifs appear slightly untidy - but it can be useful to know how fast or slow things are going once in a while. In this case, Roomcarnage is hovering around six or seven frames per second.

It's not as slow as things have been in the past, but it's slow enough to make it impossible to capture a satisfying .gif of the trap's excavation.

Eventually the miners have cleared enough space for the supports to be built - all three of them.

I order a new lever to be built in the dining hall - at the same time, I order the recently-pulled lever to be deconstructed.

As the final support is being built, I take a moment to appreciate the thin sheet of gabbro separating the chief medical dwarf from the nightmarish horde.

While linkages to the supports are being made, I review the status of the rest of the fortress. In the northern part of the caverns, a previous project to capture cave wildlife is starting to show promise. A small cave was carved out near the map's edge, filled with cave traps, with the hopes that a supply of bones could be established for use during strange moods. The project was stymied when a forgotten beast nearly gained entrance to the fortress - but perhaps it can be salvaged. The recent use of stone-fall traps for corridor sealing has given me an idea - could this entire area be blocked off, allowing the dwarves access to a portion of the maps edge where still-living wildlife might appear?

After some careful consideration, I designate a series of stone-fall traps in the vein of the previous ones, although they are not simply a single large wall - these collapsing monoliths will fill the spaces between the already-existing blood thorn groves, blocking off this small area behind a barrier of natural wood and apparently rough-hewn stone.

During my review of the fortress' status, I also spot an unusual change. The old barracks, which has for decades been coated with a perpetual layer of blood, now features a magma over-flow. While I don't particularly mind what happens to the abandoned portions of the fortress, I should at least check in to find out why molten rock is flowing unchecked anywhere.

The magma in the barracks is obviously coming from what was once Roomcarnage's main stairway, connecting the fortress below with the trade depots and magma pumps above. I trace the flow of molten rock south, through long-abandoned corridors to the foundation of some of the dwarves' most ambitious engineering.

The lava is pouring into the abandoned fortress through the obsidian sheath of the old weapon - the pump stack that, on several occasions, spewed a caldera's worth of molten rock out upon the haunted glacier. A door, left submerged within the volcano, has been destroyed.

No doubt the beast responsible is Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors - the monster that also single-handedly caused this entire portion of the fortress to be hastily sealed away and abandoned. While the fate of these accursed halls makes little difference to the dwarves of the Momentous Dye, the flowing lava has the potential to be a drag on framerate at a critical time. I decide to seal the passage between the leak and the stairwell, stemming the flow - better safe than sorry.

The operation will be tricky - due to the heat, a layer of liquid water sits immediately above the flow.

A stone-fall - or, in this case, an ice-fall - is, once again, my solution to this problem. Ice has strange properties, especially when it comes into contact with molten rock - I'm not sure this will work at all.

I have two new levers built in the statuary - one for the traps in the caverns, one for the trap above the magma flow.

After some time, the linkages to the three supports above the dog bone door are complete. Three massive boulders now sit in careful suspension above an army of demons.

I do one final check to make sure the mechanisms are in place, and order the dwarves to pull the lever.

The stones slam downward - the corridors fill with crushed stone and dust, knocking over the dragon foul fog zombie momentarily.

All that remains of the bulk of the demon army now lies beneath a mountain of raw stone.

I designate a tunnel to access the dog bone door, and order it to be torn down.

Finally, I order the lever to be deconstructed. So much for hell.

All that remains of the demonic army are a few straggling Wraiths of Steam, who keep moving back and forth between the adamantine tube and the excavated ore above.

Finally, they emerge, moving with intent and purpose towards a walled-off passageway.

To my horror and amazement, the wraiths pass effortlessly through the wall of gabbro rock blocks and into the passageway beyond.

These passages are flooded with magma - this is the bottom of the old stairwell, directly beneath the blood-painted barracks. The Wraiths of Steam have found their way into the abandoned fortress.

As I watch, the remaining wraiths seem to queue up in the corridor next to the walled-off stairwell, apparently waiting their turn patiently while each demon individually navigates the passage. It's bizarre behavior, but absolutely on par for what I've come to expect in Roomcarnage.

The wraiths don't get too far before they encounter one of the abandoned fort's current occupants - the shambling remains of Onget Netholds, former member of the Momentous Dye and now mindless slave to the haunted Ice of Ghosts. The demons shower Onget's corpse with a flurry of punches and kicks, but their attacks all glance away - with limbs made purely of hot water vapor, their blows carry all the danger of a cloud.

The wraiths, as hellspawn, are necessarily immune to heat - they clash with the undead amid knee-deep magma, shrouded within a cloud of smoke billowing off of the perpetually immolating corpse.

As they fight, more Wraiths of Steam find their way through the walled-up passage.

The queue continues - as I watch, one wraith indecisively winds its way around the passage, then slips back and forth through the block wall.

The five wraiths standing in the queue, together with the five currently ganging up on Onget's flaming corpse, bring the total number of demons left in the fortress to ten.

It doesn't seem to make much difference how many wraiths pile onto the burning dead - none of their scalding attacks land properly.

And so I can only watch the battle unfolds - or rather, fails to unfold - and wait for something to happen.

Something does happen, at the precise moment I choose to check in on the five wraiths waiting patiently in the hallway to the south.

When I return my attention to the melee to the north, I find it has concluded - the only evidence of Onget's remains is a slowly dissipating cloud of smoke. It seems that one of the wraiths managed to land an attack - or, more likely, the corpse was knocked backwards or dodged into a wall, and the damage was enough to destroy it. In any case, once the undead monster was slain, its corpse was instantaneously incinerated.

Unfortunately, I can't know for sure - by the time I realize what has transpired, the combat logs have been wiped, replaced by the constant buildup of reports from dueling foul fog zombies on the surface.

I watch as the smoke clears, and soon afterwards the wraiths migrate up the stairwell, where they meet a new challenger.

This foe - the corpse of one of Roomcarnage's faithful canines - seems much more capable than Onget's remains. The dog corpse gets many successful attacks in, and every bite breaks away a chunk of of wraithsteam.

Soon the stairway is littered with demon remains.

continued in part two...