When we reached the cliff face, we knew this was where we were supposed to be. Around us was the green grass and trees, the freshwater lake, the clean path from the mountains for the caravans to come though. The rocks behind us were Jet, and there was clay to the south and – unless my faithful hammer tap decieved me – oynx in further down. So we stopped, and we layed out our belongings and broke down the wagon for wood. Our fortress would begin here.

I personally struck the first blow into the mountainside, an honour I won from Offla – our miner – in the game of stones the night before. The rock disolved at the crack of my axe and I could hear Dwalin behind me marking out areas for the spoil to be placed. Within days we had our entrance hall and some workshops, within a week the door was sealed. That spring passed me by in a maze of late nights in the workshop – at least until Flalin finished the beds – and early mornings in the sunshine. Dwalin (our leader, another stones game) was also our primary source of food, with his fishing line and net. Between his fishing and Catlin’s meals, we did well. Even Slalin, trained as the jeweller we didn’t expect to need for many moons, found her niche as a decent miner and farming our clay-based indoor fields.

Spring flows into summer, and the crops harvested. Our food stocks high enough to last us to the winter, hopes were high. One day, as everyone else toiled deep in the fortress and by the lakes, I made my own mark on our home. Our great hall, where we slept of a night, was a wonderful piece of dwaven sparcity, but I took my chisel and my hammer and covered every inch of it with the best engraving I knew how to. Our great hall was finally somewhere to go home to, and that night we drank heartily.

As Summer gave way to autumn, our council hinted at the problems to come. Offla reported that his deep-shaft to the heart of the mountain had failed to hit the iron ore he was expecting. He suggested, and we agreed, that we should buy some metal from the trade caravan due in a couple of weeks. We drank to this, and it fell from our minds. We hadn’t bought any metal with us – it was bulky in the carts, and prevelant in the world beyond – save an iron anvil upon which to beat.

The caravan had no metal.

No bars, no ore, not even an iron bucket we could melt down. The only metal thing in the entire cart was a steel cage containing a donkey, which we couldn’t afford. We picked up some food from them, traded some mechanisms, and went back to our fortress, and drank ourselves to sleep.

The lake froze early that winter, and our supplies of water and drink did not last long. Without metal, Slatin – training as our blacksmith – couldn’t forge a chain with which we could build a well. We tried wooden and stone chains, but they splintered or cracked. We had no cloth for rope and it was too cold to for-go our coats. We all went onto mining duty, every one of us. We dug though the mountain looking for ore, and down looking for water, but found nothing but more Jet and Oynx. We could buy a lake with the stone we’re shifting out, but no traders come at this time of year. Nobody will come.

Catlin died last week, Flalin shortly afterwards, taking his secrets of woodwork with him. Important for us, because none of us know how to build coffins, and so they lay on the stone floor of a storage room designated a graveyard in a hurry. Dwalin, or fearless leader, died trying to dig though the ice. Slalin quietly in her sleep two nights past, never saying a word. Offla took her death personally, blaming himself for failing to find the ore that must be here, and started hammering with reckless abandon, digging though the mountainside desperatly. I believe he has driven himself mad – the thirst having taken us all part of the way – and I could hear him screaming down the echoing stone corridors around my workshop. That stopped a few hours ago, and I believe I will not speak to my friend Offla again in this life.

His work – and mine – will echo on in the engravings I made long after the rest of this place crumbles to dust. This will be found in the spring, I suspect, when our liason to the mountain returns with the promised steel.

Our fortress fell.

And that concludes my most recent game of Dwarf Fortress, unsuccessfully