Chapter 29 :: The Foul Fog Conspiracy Thickens

August 13th, 2014

It is the 23rd of Granite, in the early spring of 1208. For seven long years, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have huddled together in the darkened tunnels and halls of Roomcarnage, deep beneath the Ice of Ghosts. For a time, the surface remained a desolate, featureless waste of frozen blood, but that was before the weapon was completed and activated. Since the winter of 1206, the glacier has been purged twice with floods of molten stone - and the dwarves have every intent to purge it again.

Before the weapon may be activated a third time, however, a new construction must be completed. In the shadow of the volcano's eastern slopes, the vampiric worshipers of Zon lay down brick after brick, covering the surface of the glacier with an obsidian pavement. Already, though, they have used up most of the blocks that I have had hauled up into the icy airlock - one of the only remaining passages between the fortress and the surface, controlled by a series of obsidian doors.

More obsidian blocks will be needed, but I don't want to slow the vampire's already glacial progress by cutting off their access to the airlock. Instead, I create a new garbage dump just inside the locked doorway.

Then, I order the remaining obsidian blocks that have been stockpiled inside the fortress to be dumped...

...while retaining all of the bins.

And, of course, we're going to need more blocks.

The haulers spring into action immediately, but I am no longer satisfied with their route - their path takes them back down into the fortress before ascending back up again.

Instead, I order the miners to open up an abandoned series of tunnels. During a previous crisis, I had designated this tunnel to be carved out, but later abandoned it before it was completed. Now, it will be reopened, thus greatly decreasing the distance that must be traversed by the haulers.

As the haulers drag the obsidian blocks up towards the airlock, the two vampires - Rith Craftportent and Domas Firstfigures - haul the previous load out of the volcano, and to the construction site.

So compliant... so helpful. Without Rith and Domas, this task would have been much more difficult, if not impossible for the dwarves to accomplish. And yet, the worshipers of Zon have aligned themselves with the foul fog zombies - no matter how helpful they may seem, they are in fact bloodsucking monsters that would eat the entire fortress if they were offered the chance.

So I wonder - why do they so willingly help to build a structure that will eventually provide precious liquid water to the dwarves below?

A chill runs down my spine as the vampire mayor trundles into view. I scowl and look away before she provides me with an answer.

The miners have arrived to carve out the passage connecting the uppermost levels of the fortress, just as the surface of the volcano's lava lake reaches its high mark.

Likewise, the haulers have started bringing the first bricks to the dropoff point.

Good. The sooner the Ice of Ghosts can be covered with a thick layer of obsidian, the better.

There's some other stuff that can be taken care of in the meantime. In particular, the food stockpiles are overflowing. While this excess of food and drink is a blessing, I need to make sure that there is plenty of space to store it all, lest raw mushrooms be left to rot in the fields. I order the staircases at the room's northern end to be extended downwards.

hen, I designate the new chamber itself.

The miners arrive quickly, and begin carving out the large room. As a bonus, this will result in more obsidian, which can be used by the miners.

I glance over the fortress. The military seems to be recovering from its recent morale problem, although the militia commander is still very unhappy. Hopefully that situation improves soon.

For one warrior, it is too late. Sigun Armorflaxen runs about the fortress, naked and babbling. Soon, she will die of thirst.

When that time comes, I only hope that I notice, before her corpse rises again as a terrifying undead.

The days grind by as dwarves haul over a hundred blocks from the fortress up into the base of the volcano - while mere urists away, on the other side of the volcanic ice, the vampires continue the construction.

As the time passes, I look over the exterior of the fortress. The deep channel leading from the base of the volcano to the northern edge of the map has finally begun to dry - already, it is traversable by individual travelers. Soon, it will be traversable to wagons.

Come autumn, the dwarves of Roomcarnage may well make contact with the mountainhome. I will not hold my breath, though.

Miners continue mining, as haulers continue hauling.

I designate each new batch of obsidian blocks to be dumped as soon as they are made. The haulers are rarely idle, but they do well to keep up with my orders.

The vampires do so as well. Domas labors away as one might expect any dwarf to work, but Rith is constantly tailed by the foul fog zombie diagnoser, Dumat Sensesstakes.

My stomach turns as I watch undead chase undead. I can't say why.

As I try to distract myself from the growing sense of wrongness that surrounds the worshipers of Zon, I notice another undead occupying the base of the pump stack. The disembodied of Momuz Windblazed haunts the bottom of the pump stack. I double check - indeed, Momuz was the very same dwarf who was operating the bottom layer of pumps when a surge of magma splashed over the area.

Ghosts are bad news. I go the order a memorial to be engraved... but Momuz's name does not appear at the top of the list, where it should be.

Luckily, Momuz appears lower down on the list. I breathe a sigh of relief - there are still bugs relating to ghosts not appearing on this list. Thankfully, a memorial may still be engraved.

As an engraver moves to carve the memorials, I look towards the miners. I watch as the passage connecting the uppermost portions of the fortress is completed.

Meanwhile, the new food stockpile area is nearly complete.

Good, good.

The satisfaction of watching a well-oiled fortress burble along happily is interrupted by a distressing message.

I find the ghost Urist Mobguilds in the "hospital." In truth, this is a place for injured dwarves to die behind closed doors, so that the rest of the fortress might be easily protected from the fate that befalls all dwarves after their death. The three animated corpses that occupy other rooms are a testament to the method's efficacy.

Unlike more benign ghosts, who may be content to quietly and morosely haunt the places of their death, it seems that Urist would like nothing more than to wreak havoc upon the Momentous Dye.

In particular, Id Chuckedboulder.

The ghost has torn off Id's lower leg.

The leg lies in the corner of the hospital room, just adjacent to the still-sleeping furnace operator.

A violent ghost is no laughing matter. I order a slab to be engraved, and luckily Urist is right there at the top of the list.

Before the slab can be built, another distressing announcement appears at the bottom of the screen.

I don't even need to move the screen. Urdim is occupying another room in the hospital. The chief medical dwarf stands over the lifeless body, apparently in the process of administering medical aid, now unnecessary.

Who was Urdim? Why were they lying in a hospital bedroom, unable to drink?

I don't know. It is a mystery.

There is only one solution.

After the chief medical dwarf leaves the room, I lock the door, and seal it tightly.

There's nothing that can be done for poor Id, either. I lock and seal the door to the still-living dwarf's room as well.

The goal of the current round of construction is to provide the dwarves of Roomcarnage with liquid water. Once water has been secured, injured dwarves might be fed and watered properly... but until that happens, an injury like the one endured by Id is a death sentence.

Hopefully, Id's needless death will be amongst the last of those condemned for their medical needs. I toggled the locks on another pair of dwarves, giving the vampires access to the newly dumped pile of obsidian bricks, without allowing a direct route from the fortress to the surface.

Then, I reclaim the pile of bricks.

Even with so many bricks, only a relatively small area is able to be covered with new flooring. It will have to do, for now.

I order the construction of the engraved memorial slabs. Roomcarnage's ghost problem is endless, but at least the fortress does not have to endure a specific violent ghost... yet.

One slab is set in place...

...and another...

...and another. The restless souls of the three dwarves are pacified.

One threat has been dealt with, but another is just on the horizon. Sigun Armorflaxen is close to death. The mad, babbling dwarf currently stands about in the dining hall - there's nothing that can be done now.

The dwarves being to fill the expanded food stockpiles. My suspicions are confirmed - there were some units of food that were laying about, without being stored properly. Hopefully nothing has gone bad.

The time has come for the subterranean portions of the new construction to be carved out. The first part is a simple stairwell, leading from just below the surface of the glacier itself, down to the broad web of mines that spreads out just above the caverns.

Before long, yet another announcement breaks through the endless deluge of job cancellations.

Sigun Armorflaxen has died of thirst.

Unlike the previous two dwarves, Sigun lacked the decency to perish behind closed (and locked) doors. Sigun's corpse cannot be dumped into the magma-filled cleft in the caverns - that route is now blocked by a solid wall.

No, the nearest possible disposal site is in the barracks. Not too much further, of course... but still. A corpse is a corpse, and in Roomcarnage, any dead body is cause for grave alarm.

I designate the corpse to be dumped.

After that, there is little to do but wait, until a hauler should arrive.

Before a dwarf can arrive to haul away Sigun's body, the corpse shudders and rises from the engraved floor!

An axe-wielding recruit hacks off Sigun's ear, but the animated corpse continues its assault. I find it difficult to be worried.

Perhaps I have become complacent. Perhaps my lack of worry in this situation does not bode well for the fortress. Perhaps I have grown jaded from the constant threats that assault Roomcarnage.

Perhaps I am merely confident in the abilities of the dwarven military to handle such a meagre threat.

My confidence is not misplaced - a moment later, Sigun's body is once again motionless.

It takes a solid strike to the skull, smashing apart the bone and the brain, to put the zombie down.

Once again, I designate the corpse to be disposed of.

I wait, staring impatiently at the dining hall. This is not where the end of Roomcarnage will begin.

No.

Soon, a dwarf arrives, grabs the corpse, and begins hauling it up through the fortress.

As the hauler carries the corpse through the heart of Roomcarnage, I hold my breath.

So far, there have been precious few instances where a corpse has reanimated while in the hands of a hauler... but I have been surprised many times by odd occurrences.

My fears are assuaged, however, as the corpse is tossed out of the fortress. It lands on the same ledge occupied by the other undead that have been tossed out of the southern portal in the barracks.

The fortress is safe... for now.

As an afterthought, I order Sigun's ear to be thrown out as well. It will rot, and spread miasma through the fortress - I'm not eager to have yet another source of unhappy thoughts.

The passage I designated earlier has been carved out. Good. It is time for the next portion to be excavated - I designate a standard sized room to be channeled.

The miners arrive soon, and being mining away at the area.

Eventually, this will be the reservoir for the liquid water, collected from the surface.

Many levels will need to be carved out - the finished structure will be many urists deep.

Each level must be designated individually - one by one, as the dwarves move downward, deeper and deeper.

It is the easiest way, but still it is time-consuming.

By the end of the process, though, I am sure that Roomcarnage will be home to a dozen legendary miners.

I am no stranger to excavation megaprojects - compared to what I've accomplished in prior fortresses, this might as well be a rabbit warren.

With all the traffic through the mining tunnels, I decide it would be good to spread things out a little. Offer some space to the dwarves going through these claustrophobic passages.

And the stairwells, as well. Hopefully, these additions will alleviate traffic congestion.

Ugh - another tantruming dwarf. My patience is growing thin - not that it matters. This swordsdwarf is equipped with the finest armor produced by the fortress, but apparently it is not enough.

Ah. It seems that the recent altercation with the undead is quite a problem for Tun Linearch. What a pity.

As I watch Tun throw his insolent tantrum, another message crosses the bottom of my screen.

My mouth twists into a grimace.

Rith Craftportent, vampire mayor of Roomcarnage, has ended a mandate - so, naturally, nothing appears on her screen in the noble menu.

I check the justice screen, to see if a new sentence has been laid down by the malicious tyrant... and I find something curious.

A crime has been committed by Domas Utharvutok, a "violation of production order." Not an unusual crime - in fact, the exact crime I expected to find. The curious element is the dwarf. Utharvutok, in the dwarven tongue, means Firstfigures.

The incriminated dwarf is none other than Domas Firstfigures, worshiper of Zon, and vampiric resident of Roomcarnage.

I struggle to calm my nerves. Already, a sickening sensation is creeping through my viscera.

I check the construction site. My stomach sinks further. Bile rises in my throat.

Rith Craftportent is not at the construction site.

It does not take long to find her.

She is far to the southeast, on the opposite side of the vast obsidian plateau.

I make sudden and unwilling eye contact with the vile vampire mayor. Instead of obeying direct orders, she is conducting a meeting with the foul fog zombie diagnoser, Dumat Sensesstakes.

I feel time grind to a halt around me. For a moment, I am alone in time and space with the malign intelligence that resides behind those lifeless violet pixels.

The air suddenly grows colder around me. Cold, ice cold.

It is the 16th of Hematite, in the early summer of 1208.