Chapter 23 :: Liquid Fire and Frozen Blood

July 17th, 2014

It is the 24th of Opal, in the mid-winter of 1206. The weapon has proven itself as an effective solution to the foul fog dilemma - many of the troublesome undead are now entombed in ice and stone beneath the sizzling obsidian plateau. However, the map is teeming with corpses, and the weapon only faces to the southwest. For the dwarves of Roomcarnage, the path is clear.

The lava has not yet cooled before the picks of the Momentous Dye once again begin breaking apart the ice of the volcano.

One of the legendary miners of Roomcarnage carves out the access passage to what will soon be the newest component of the lava-spewing weapon.

As before, I use the ramp designation to mark the actual path of the lava as it leaves the pumps, on its way to the outer vents. I decide to install two new vents - one at the eastern cliffside...

...and one to the north.

Once the ramps are designated, I line them with normal digging designations.

Obsidian walls will be placed here, to ensure that the lava does not prematurely interact with the Ice of Ghosts.

Good. The miners have some work to do.

Outside, the two lava lakes ripple and level out as the molten rock slowly dries away.

I may figure out some use for them, once the rest of the surface has been cleansed. For now, they are merely interesting scenery.

The plateau is certainly a bizarre formation. I ruminate on several schemes that might make good use of its structure, or perhaps changes I might make upon successive reactivations, to achieve certain goals... but there will be time for that, later. First, the new additions must be completed - the best laid schemes of the dwarves of the Momentous Dye may yet be ruined.

My eyes catch a tile flashing, where a tile ought not to be flashing.

Ah. Rith Craftportent, vampire mayor of Roomcarnage, pick in hand, carving into the mountainside. I had neglected to double-check all of the ramp designations, to make sure that nothing would break through to the surface. How curious, that in a moment of oversight, Rith herself made an attempt to take advantage of my negligence?

Nice try, Rith. I remove the ramp designation.

I check the other vent - this one as well.

Finally, I look over the rest of the ramps. Everything looks good.

The miners continue with their work, carving out the passage.

It doesn't take long.

Within a few minutes, the passage is complete. As the tile Rith was carving out is revealed to the dwarves, it is clear that Rith almost broke through.

I have the last tile dug out, rather than carved into a ramp. Then I order the ramps left over in the passage to be removed.

Good, good. The passage has been excavated - now, the obsidian lining must be installed. I order the construction of the floors first.

The fortress has enough obsidian blocks stockpiled for me to designate all of the floors at once.

In addition to the floors, I order the "outer" corners of the passage walls to be constructed. These are the only sections of the wall that will be inaccessible to the floors - it is easier to build them first, so that there are no issues during construction.

I'm going to need some more bricks.

Upon the plateau, the lava continues to cool and harden. The freakish weather that bathes the glacier in sanguine snow continues as ever, leaving piles of frozen elven blood amidst the shrinking pools of molten rock. A hellscape of volcanic fire and haunted gore.

I've enabled the masonry labor on many, many dwarves. As a result, Roomcarnage's vast workforce is almost entirely put to work.

The tunnel bustles with activity - dozens of happy dwarves, cheerfully building an obsidian casing that will deliver fiery justice to their enemies.

Things are progressing well up here. What else can be taken care of?

Ah, yes. All of these beds. They're not enough to allow every single dwarf in the fortress to have their own room, but it's a good start.

It's time to carve out bedrooms. Hopefully, having individual rooms will pacify dwarves that would otherwise be pushed over the edge into unhappiness. First, I designate a couple foyers - these will serve as the entrance halls to the various residential wings.

A few minutes and some trial and error later, and I've got a series of bedrooms designated. These ones "fit" into the space between the food stockpiles, the new passageway, and the caverns.

A level below that is another wing - much more carefully organized. Together, they comprise fifty-five individual rooms, each two urists by three. That's plenty of space for a bed, a chest, and a cabinet.

Some idling miners begin carving out the new bedrooms. I watch for a few seconds, before my attention is called away...

...by the appearance of kobold warriors!

I'm not too concerned.

The surface of the plateau continues to transition from a volcanic wasteland into a featureless plain of frozen elf blood. The lip of the pool is still hot with fresh lava. It's an interesting sight.

Meanwhile, progress continues on the lining of the weapon's passages...

...even as excavation of the bedrooms approaches completion.

Spring arrives on the calendar. Roomcarnage is six years old!

Spring arrives, and so does death, for this pet cavy boar.

Huh. Looks like the poor guy died of old age. Or starved to death. Either is possible, but what matters most is how the corpse is dealt with.

Luckily, there's an open magma vent nearby. I follow standard procedures - designate a new garbage dump...

...and order the corpse to be tossed.

Of course, since the cavy boar died here, just below the surface, it may be some time before a hauler can make it all the way up here.

Shit! The cavy boar's corpse shudders and rises to its feet.

It may not seem like much of a danger - after all, cavies are quite small creatures.

However, all reanimated corpses have maxed out strength and do not experience pain. A well-placed bite from this cavy could easily ruin a dwarf's day.

I call in the military. Both the fortress guard and the militia - this threat must be contained immediately.

Chaos ensues, as several dwarves who were on their way to build obsidian block walls enter the room, forget their work, and scatter.

Job cancellations and suspensions due to the cavy boar fill the announcement feed.

It chases the dwarves around the old glacier melting trap, but - for the moment - fails to catch anyone.

I look on anxiously. Where is the military?

The cavy corpse lurks through the back hallway...

...then springs out of the darkness! It almost reaches one of these dwarves, but they manage to run away before the undead can land a blow.

The corpse dodges around some unsuspecting dwarves and dives down the stairwell. This is bad - if the cavy boar attacks a dwarf on the stairwell, and that dwarf dodges the attack, the poor individual may end up falling the entire way down the stairwell, crushing or knocking back any other dwarves they hit.

Fortunately, the military has almost arrived. The militia commander, Reg Fencedsplatters, ascends the stairwell even as the cavy boar corpse stands atop it.

The corpse doesn't go down the staircase, though. It dodges down a side hallway, pursuing a fleeing planter. The dwarf is trapped...

...but a single punch from the farmer is all it takes to return the cavy boar to a semblance of death.

Whew. Once again, I order the cavy corpse to be dumped.

This time, a hauler comes much more quickly...

...and the corpse is tossed into the magma without further incident.

Good. I turn my attention back to the construction site, and order another series of walls to be built.

Also, I remove the suspension on the jobs cancelled by the cavy boar.

As the masons turn out more and more obsidian blocks, construction continues.

The dwarves work swiftly - I'm pleased with out quickly this construction is progressing.

Soon, it will be finished, and the Ice of Ghosts will burn once more.

Ah, good! The bedrooms are finished.

...wait, what's that?

A giant rat. By the looks of it, kept out by the door, which is currently tightly sealed. I consider my options - I cannot allow the rat into the fortress. Giant rats are quite dangerous against normal dwarves, and would certainly prove to be more than a mere nuisance. Likewise, any military interaction would be dangerous as well, since the giant rat is much more dangerous dead (and subsequently undead) than alive.

It does have value, though. I order a cage trap to be constructed in the passage leading to the caverns, perchance to capture the giant rat so that it might be trained for war, or butchered for meat.

Now that the new passages are nearing completion, it is time to install the safeties. Two obsidian doors will allow the dwarves to direct the lava to specific vents.

Of course, that means two more levers.

I look back to the construction site, but barely any time passes before my eyes catch a distressing announcement. A sickening feeling creeps through my viscera.

I examine the combat logs. The giant rat must have somehow gotten through the obsidian door. As I read through the logs, a chill runs down my spine.

I zoom to the site of the announcement - the cramped corridor leading from the forges to the the weapon's access tunnels is smeared with gore. Little Ustuth's body lies in three pieces - a right arm, a left hand, and everything else. All three body parts have the ability to grasp, and so all three have the capability to rise again as undead.

And on top of that, the giant rat now known as Standarddispersed seems to be making his way towards the weapon's construction site. How? How did the giant rat make it past the obsidian door, through the farms and forges, and into the access tunnel?

I have no answers, and it doesn't matter. The only question on my mind is whether or not the dwarves of Roomcarnage can handle this incident without collapsing into an unstoppable spiral of misery and undeath.

It is the 2nd of Slate, in the mid-spring of 1207. For over six years, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have endured the relentless fury of the haunted glacier. Finally, the weapon they had wrought unleashed the dwarves' vengeance upon the surface, purging a large portion of it of undead - a tiny victory in the face of oblivion. Now, the fate of the fortress hangs in the balance, and it is impossible to say whether or not the weapon will be activated a second time.