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Author Topic: Rockfalls the Depths of Volcanoes ~ The story of 20 dwarves in a pressure cooker  (Read 45966 times)

Dante

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~~~ Rockfalls the Depths of Volcanoes ~~~

Journal of Goden, Expedition Leader of the Assembly of Smiths, Limestone 202

It falls to me to say the Burial Words. I did not want any of the leadership roles here, but the fates have aligned to thrust them upon me. But to do Stukos justice, I must first recount the events leading up to his death.

Seven exploratory scouts, miners and builders all, were sent out by the High Tools in the year 200. The war with the goblins was not going as well as it could have; we were fighting a defensive front for the first time in centuries. We were part of an ingenious plan to ensure the survival of the dwarven people.

We seven were to found a completely sealed fortress, to be cut off from the empire perhaps forever. We called it Idumid Amas Stodir, but the name that stuck was Rockfalls – the Depths of Volcanoes.

The plan was that we would build the foundations of Rockfalls at the tip of the magma vent, and two years later, its citizens would join us. At that point, we would drive explosive charges into the ground and cause an upwelling of molten rock, sealing us off.

If things went well with the war, empire pump operators would be sent in several decades to uncover us and refresh our population, before continuing the great project. If things did not go well...

If the empire fell... Well, then. We dwarves would live on forever, protected by miles of molten rock, until our mastery of engineering was such that we could sunder our defences and drain the magma ourselves, from WITHIN our obsidian shell.

The first tragedy came early on in the construction, when thin, weak, clumsy Lokum the Mason dropped a block in exactly the wrong place. One cave-in later, our dour and down-to-earth manager, who did the bookkeeping, was dead.

Our leader, doctor and craftsdwarf was Thikut. She tried to save him, but his body had ruptured in numerous places. She said the Burial Words over him, and his responsibilities passed on to me.

Our excavation was nearing completion when the goblins found us.

We had three warrior women, miners and builders of the highest quality, who drove them off. But the foul creatures of the Fleshy Torment did not leave without managing to grievously wound Thikut. Without a capable doctor, she succumbed to infection within weeks.

Thikut was sociable, but interested only in facts and the real world. It was her vision which had grounded us, her words which had comforted us. Having the least to do, I took over as broker, diplomat and leader. I said the Burial Words over her, with great unease.

By the autumn of 202, we had hewn our new home from the bones of the earth. My mechanical skill combined with Stukost's chemical and scaffolding expertise saw the great explosive pumps quickly put in place, ready to drive magma into the basin surrounding our fortress.

The fifteen migrant workers reached us early in the season, and made short work of moving the supplies and furnishings into Rockfalls. The mountainhomes sent us our official instructions: to take the supplies sent on by our human allies, then seal ourselves in, creating our own microcosm society until the engineers were sent out to relieve us.

The humans' shabby empire was the Accidental Confederation, a group of fiefdoms and city-states hurriedly allied together to combat the growing tide of goblins in the land. They were to bring the required food and other supplies too heavy to bring on our first two wagons.

They appeared on the horizon on the fifth of Limestone, moving faster than we had expected. A black tide was dogging their heels: hordes and hordes of foul goblins.



We stood alert and strong. Our brave miners, Jitters, Squadron Leader and Skink-killer, stood at the entry way, prepared to sell their lives dearly. Behind them clustered the younger and stronger of the new arrivals, tightly gripping axes, knives and chunks of stone. It was a grim moment.

I knew what had to be done.

I knew, but Stukost, bless and damn him, knew too. I could have done it, I SHOULD have done it. I had no family.

But Stukost argued. He was fitter, faster, and I was – reluctantly – the leader.

In the end, the carpenter and chemist had his way. He knew the quickest route to all the buried triggers.

The preliminary cracks had been opened the previous week, and magma bubbled and seeped around the pilings on which Rockfalls sat. We watched Stukost silhouetted against the orange light, running from piton to piton, and the earth began to rumble as chemicals exploded far below.

The goblins crested the hill and carried down the slopes, waving their weapons and screaming vulgarly. Magma was welling up rapidly around the fortress, and licked at the bottom of the steps as I stood watching. The dwarves behind me were scrambling to assemble a makeshift wooden bridge, to let Stukost return safely to the fortress.

Stukost himself activated the last explosive piton and turned to watch our efforts, smiling wryly from across the chasm. Magma bubbled between us and him. He was a professional carpenter. He knew there was no hope.

We watched the kiss he blew his wife, heard his grunt as an arrow lodged in his shoulder.

Then he turned, made his run-up, and leapt.

It was an amazing leap, but the distance was simply too great.

He landed up to his waist in the lava's crust, burning slowly to death before us. He held on to the gangplank with one hand as we dragged it in.

The first rivulets of molten stone were flowing in through the doors. I had already ordered the gears turned.

The workers started out trying to drag Stukost to safety. Less than a minute later, they were extinguishing his blazing charcoal carcase in piles of sand.

The thick, smooth doors of magma-proof dolomite ground closed, shutting us in, leaving only a small pool of molten rock cooling on the floor.



The fortress was sealed, darkened, but my eyes adjusted to see by the faint glow of magma against the outer walls.

I could see enough to salute respectfully as Stukost's smoking body was laid carefully out.

And then, as I must, I turned away to give the orders.

That is how Stukost came to die, leaving behind his wife Mrs Oassis, who had travelled from the mountainhomes to join him, his daughter Unib of three years, similarly, and his baby Tekkud, who was born here.

Stukost the Master of Pumps and Gantries, you were a dwarf of true grit. Lurit, God of the Mountains, spread your hands across his face.

The other three survivors of our original expeditionary force have words to say, which will be carved upon his tomb.

Squadron Leader wishes it known that Stukost was fastidious to a fault, highly skilled and most capable.
Skink-killer says that she has seldom met a dwarf so capable of holding his drink.
Jitters McHighland informs the world that Stukost was a kind dwarf with steady hands; he will be sorely missed.

So say we, and so say I, Goden of the Assembly of Smiths, leader of an expedition from the High Tools to the Hamlet of Idumid Amas Stodir.

The words are spoken; I must turn now to earthly things.

There is much to be done.


Dante

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And so begins another story fortress! Twenty dwarves, a baby and a ghost entombed in a small three-story fortress under an ocean of magma.

The fort is on single-tile pilings so there is literally no way out, save cheating. Space is at a premium, but my cunning design gives me aboveground and belowground soil areas. I'm going to allow myself to spawn one unit of water at the start of each year with dfhack, so hospitals and brewing will need to be carefully managed. No trade, no invaders, no replenishing of supplies.

Let's see what happens when a society of dwarves in close quarters gets pressure-cooked.

There are fifteen dwarves/names available for anybody to claim!

MrOassis

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This looks extremly well done! Cant wait to read the next part...

As for dorf, Ill take the highest skilled engraver please!

Dariush

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Holy shit.

I'll claim the carpenter, from now known as Dariush.

Dante

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the highest skilled engraver
the carpenter

Done and done.

Btw the highest skilled engraver is coincidentally the hero Stukos's wife.

Once enough people are dorfed I'll start playing. Most important is a name for the fey mood dwarf, obviously.

darkflagrance

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I love the combination of art and screen shots!

I'd like to be the second Engraver in the list, as Rance please (or some other engraver if he/she was taken).
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stool

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Well done, dwarven greatness.
I'll take the cheese maker, draft him into the military.
i wonder how we get the stuff for moods....
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bowie

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Looks awesome!
could I please have the mason?
part time train him/her as a wrestler and if possible mod the wolf to be trainable and assign it to me as a war Wolf
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Must... Eat... Demon... Rat ARGLEBLARGH *crash* OMNOMNOMNOM
Tastes.. like... SAAAAATAAAAAAAAN!

Dante

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Journal of Bowie the Artist, 12 Limestone 202

I'm so excited.

There's a real thrill to doing what no dwarf has done before. Our fathers have lived in small spaces, often cut off by siege or cave-in, but they never depended entirely on outside help to leave their fortresses.

I'm sure I'll be able to contribute to the hamlet, with my key skills of siege engineering and masonry. Who knows, perhaps they'll even need to rely on my farming ability. Everything's been so hectic here – one person, Goden, is trying to handle all the managerial roles – that no work schedules or space allocations have been announced.

I proposed to my lovely Rance scant hours before the humans from the Accidental Confederation turned up, and died. Ill timing, but we are both very happy to be married. In the circumstances, we decided to forego a ceremony.

I intend to sculpt us together as soon as the powers that be have allocated some stone to me. In the meantime, I've included a quick sketch, coloured with scrapings of mud, some fungus I squeezed into a shoe, and ground buffalo bone.



Not bad, though I say so myself!



I would have worn rope reed fibre fabric, which I adore, to set off Rance's flowing golden locks. But, calamity! The fortress had no rope reed cloth to spare. It seems many vital supplies were lost when that human caravan perished.

We stand around the muddy lower floor, awaiting orders. We had been standing ON the muddy area, but somebody asked Goden where the latrine was, and he just pointed at the floor. Apparently because obsidian is non-porous, the water cycle in the fortress is going to be quite elementary. Which is to say, alimentary.

I've told Rance to remind me never to eat anything grown on the lower floor.

It's strange, standing here, it's possible to feel the magma currents surging around us. I don't mind; I feel a strong affinity for waves. In fact, I've decided that some of the first figurines I'm going to carve will be of waves. With some dwarves riding their crests on specially-made boards.

Well, obviously I'll have to carve a few of Evud the God of Writing, and Shesam the Goddess of Inspiration, my patrons, first.

In fact... yes, Evud and Shesam, surfing huge waves of magma. What an idea! Excuse me, I need to go write that down in my official mason's notes.

mcclay

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Give me some ranso  peaseant and train to be a sword dorf.
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I'm back bb.

Yoink

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Can I please have the cook? Name 'em Yarf.
A giant pressure cooker... Awesome. :P
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Booze is Life for Yoink

To deprive him of Drink is to steal divinity from God.
you need to reconsider your life
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Bdthemag

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Dorf me as the Metalsmith, name him Stiric :D
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Well, you do have a busy life, what with keeping tabs on wild, rough-and-tumble forum members while sorting out the drama between your twenty two inner lesbians.
Your drunk posts continue to baffle me.
Welcome to Reality.

Dante

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Journal of the elder Dariush, 13 Limestone 202

Pity about young Stukos. I barely knew him, but everyone says he was a good dwarf. A carpenter after my own liver.

The first thing Goden did after the doors closed for good was order the fellow's body taken upstairs before it could smoke and stink the place out. Then he had some tables plopped down in the muck of the lower floor. He sat and started scribbling frantically, trying to figure out exactly what we had and what we needed, what with the supply wagon lost and everything.

Pretty much everybody just stood around and watched him, although that young oil presser, whatshername, disappeared upstairs with that manic look in her eyes suggesting something big was on the way. And I don't mean a satisfying bowel movement.

That's what the floor here's for, after all.

Rockfalls has three floors, but I've only seen the lower one, which is muck with furniture in, and the middle one, which is gardens with animals on. When my knees are up to it I'll see what's going on at the upper floor. Maybe that's where they've got the workshops and food and things.

Where was I? Oh yes, young Stukos the carpenter. I'm equally skilled in carpentry and engraving, myself. Been carving fishing poles and barrel staves since I was knee high to a moghopper. This place is lousy with two-coin engravers, though. It seems every second whippersnapper in the fortress fancies themselves an artist.

Ah well. After eighty-seven years, you learn to just take life as it comes. I'm already planning my next masterpiece: myself, dropkicking a crundle at another crundle while fending off a buzzard with my walking stick. That actually happened, you know, when we were bringing the seeds and things inside.

And the rocks, of course. They made a huge pile of stone, carving out this place, and we have it all stacked in a tiny closet that oughtn't hold it. Enough stone to build your own mountain, in a little space you couldn't fit more than a dozen dwarves in. Remarkable construction workers, these fellows. Remarkable.

Me, I love mountains. Can't get enough of them. That's why I worship Asen the Mountain of Mining and Lurit, Avatar of the Mountains. Can't say I'm too happy about being inside of a mountain with only six spindly rock pillars connecting us to good solid bedrock. It's a departure from tradition, and that never bodes well.

Ah, what can you do. I'm old and frail and my hands are clumsy. They say I've got no sense of personal space but I say, in a fort this small, you're lucky if I'm not wearing your pants with you still in them.

Speaking of pants, I'm glad to see everybody here is keeping up the old traditions. Well, that or the clothes I always wore are actually back in fashion. I've always felt that everybody ought to wear a dress or similar smock, then a robe or toga if you're feeling fancy. Why, I've had this fishscale robe since I was a youthful 54, and I've never got wet. Say what you like about fish; they're completely waterproof.

And my own preference is for either a cape or cloak over the whole ensemble, to keep the old bones warm. It's remarkably chilly, surrounded by only a few cubic miles of magma. That's why I wear a cap and a hood, as the Mountain Gods commanded! Hide your shameful scalp!

Anyway, to give you an idea, here's a quick carving of me.



What can I say? I'm an incredibly gifted engraver, even if the old eyes are a bit iffy these days.

Can't abide these shoes, though. Give me good clean rabbit hide any day! I had some rabbit skin slippers back home, but they only let me bring one lot of footwear.

Ah, somebody's just handed me a sandwich. One of the young folks, don't know his name. Looks like finely ground mule, finely ground mule, finely ground mule and mustard. Not my favourite, but at least it's not MUSSELS. I was shipwrecked on that bloody island for sixteen years, and I blessed the day I could get a nice bit of penguin to eat or a handful of strawberries growing wild, instead of just mussels, mussels, mussels. Shudder to think of it now. Had to brew my own mead in a jockstrap, out of bumblebees and nectar. And I was glad for it!

Gah!



Bloody hell, Stukos. Almost made me choke on my sandwich!

He just popped in through the ceiling. Looks like he came to make sure the doors got closed properly and we're all settling in well. Awfully nice of him.

His wife's pretty happy to see him, too. It's quite a touching moment, I'll have to commit it to crayon and stone. Here.



Cor, she's a comely lass. And single, too, now. Her kids are a right handful though. One in the “terrible threes” and another in the “ghastly four-months-olds”. Hopeful a sight of their father will calm them down. I don't see what all the racket is about, I'd seen a dozen corpses by the time I was toddling.

Whoops, sounds like a shout from upstairs. Could be that fruit-squeezer girl, still can't recall the name, has started whatever big project she's got in mind.

I'd better go have a look-see.

Dante

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Current list:


Still can't do much until somebody wants to be dorfed with the moody presserdwarf.

darkflagrance

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"Never eat anything grown on the lower floor!!!"
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The Legend of Tholtig Cryptbrain: 8000 dead elves and a cyclops

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