Chapter 32 :: Five Exorcisms and a Waterfall

August 27th, 2014

It is the 12th of Granite, in the early spring of 1209. In spite of the constant threats posed by the haunted glacier, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have survived in Roomcarnage for eight full years. For much of that time, they have hidden underground, isolated from the surface and caverns alike, yet danger is ever near - the malefic Ice of Ghosts, a vast and lifeless hellscape of ice and blood, maintains its sleepless vigil over the defiant fortress that somehow, for eight years, has escaped its wrath.

Inevitably, the misery caused by the glacier's merciless hatred results in casualties. In any other fortress, a grand mausoleum might serve to keep dwarven spirits at rest, but here in Roomcarnage, corpses are disposed of by isolation and containment, or incineration. This disgrace of dwarven burial tradition results in a seemingly endless supply of spectral undead.

Sometimes, ghosts are relatively benign, only causing moderately unhappy thoughts for those it haunts.

Sometimes, ghosts are deadly.

The broker's body will have to be disposed of immediately, lest the piercing, unholy gaze of the Ice fall upon it. The only disposal point available is the obsidian portal set into the barrack's southern wall.

I order Nish Metaldied's corpse to be dumped.

At the same time, I order memorials to be carved for the ghosts. Of the four spirits presently haunting the fortress, one has already been memorialized. I find two of the other three ghosts in the engraving list, but one doesn't appear right at the top with the others.

Fortunately, I find it a few pages down.

I order the fortress guard into the food stockpiles - if Nish Metaldied's body rises before a hauler gets to it, I want to be sure there is already a military presence.

The military shows up immediately, but so does a hauler.

I follow the broker's body as it is hauled through the fortress. Nish Metaldied was the first and only living mayor of Roomcarnage. She served as broker for many years, despite being a completely unskilled appraiser.

Nish never conducted a trade, and now she never will.

As the hauler unceremoniously tosses the body out of the obsidian doorway, I reflect that, for Nish Metaldied, the story is not over. Her body will reanimate and sit, mindless and staring, on a muddy cavern shelf - probably forever. Eventually, her restless spirit will return to haunt the living. Not until a memorial has been engraved and placed will Nish's soul be free to go.

Now, all I can do is wait for the slabs to be engraved. I watch nervously as the violent ghost of Dodók Syrupsabres hovers silently amongst the drinking dwarves.

Soon, all four slabs are engraved. I order them to be placed in the room's southeast corner, which had been occupied by a trade depot up until recently.

One by one, the haulers arrive and carefully place the engraved slabs in the empty space, and with each completed job, a spirit nearby is allowed to slip into whatever afterlife waits for dwarves beyond the veil. First, Sigun Armorflaxen is put to rest...

...then Zon Ringcurls and Dodók Syrupsabres...

...and finally Dastot Ringmute.

I have to remember to keep up on this ghost problem.

Each memorial provides specific details about the departed dwarves. Some epitaphs may seem lovely, but in reality are only cold reflections of the bleak misery that plagues Roomcarnage daily.

Some memorials eulogize a warrior's battle prowess, as well as his death in combat.

Some contain insights into dwarven society and culture. "Murdered by the dwarf Obok Workerringed" refers to Dastot's punishment, a sentence for slaying Kadol Chastesling. Obok Workerringed is a member of the fortress guard, who was dispensing dwarven justice - a standard punishment of ten strikes. During the beating, Dastot was slain, but it would seem that the dwarves view police brutality as a crime, punishable by the same sentence.

And finally, Dodók Syrupsabres, the slayer of Nish Metaldied, who returned from the dead to continue her berserk rampage which had been temporarily halted by Stukos Stakeequal. I would wish her rest, except I know that her body still stands, motionless and silent in the cold, nighted caverns.

At least, during this entire ghost situation, construction continued on the new obsidian hallway. It is now completed, except for the outer layer of ice that still separates the new construction from the undead-infested exterior.

As well, the MELT approaches completion. I watch as the last few sections of wall are thrown up.

In a short time, this obsidian-paved area will bake with heat, and the glacier immediately below it will melt. That meltwater will flow down a staircase into a large dwarf-excavated cistern.

Domas Firstfigures places the last block in place at the MELT's northwestern corner - the device is complete. The vampire woodworker then immediately turns north and begins walking... somewhere.

Rith Craftportent, however, remains adjacent to the last wall she constructed, already in a meeting with Dumat Sensesstakes.

A few moments later, I notice that Domas is standing at the southeastern corner. A sudden chill draft blows in through the sunny window.

Both of the vampires have taken similar positions at the western end of the MELT.

They're preparing for another flood.

I oblige them, and activate the pumps.

A small army of pump operators - some skilled, some amateurs - rushes into the weapon's obsidian housing, built on the inside of the volcano itself.

Soon, the entire pump stack is manned.

The first safety is released.

The lowest pair of hatches open, and the pump stack is fed with magma. A moment later, the entire stack is full and pressurized.

The second safety is released.

The door leading to the eastern corridor snaps open and a torrent of magma fills the hallway in a second, engulfing the two dwarf corpses with molten rock.

The two corpses instantly burst into flames. Clouds of smoke obscure their form as the magma bubbles up around them.

Their status screens aren't a pretty sight. Immediately after being set on fire, their body begins to melt and burn. The layers of fat between skin and muscle melt and boil outward amidst blood and smoke.

Still, this will not kill them - undead are immune to pain, and cannot die of bleeding damage. They will continue burning forever.

The third safety is released.

The outer doorway slams open, and a pressurized wall of lava blasts into the MELT.

In a matter of seconds, it spreads out over the obsidian pavement. The elf blood snow melts and disappears as the molten rock gushes towards it.

Immediately beneath the magma, the glacier turns to water and is burbling with activity - but what is that grey contaminant?

I breathe a sigh or relief as I draw the cursor over the dirty water. It's just mud and "a spattering of water." At least it's not foul fog.

A second or two after activation, a beautiful cascade of clear, blue water pours out of the hole in the cistern's ceiling amidst a cloud of mist.

The water spreads out across the cistern floor and begins filling. The MELT is successful!

For the first time in the fortress' history, there has been an accessible body of liquid water.

Whether or not it is pure - if it still holds some taint of the haunted glacier - will remain to be seen.

Up on the surface, the deluge of lava reaches the edge of the melt. The ice melts beneath the molten rock, and clouds of steam appear along the construction's eastern edge.

I expect that a wall of obsidian has formed a layer beneath, thus halting the water-generating effect of the MELT...

...but to my surprise, the affected area only continues to grow.

As the lava spreads out over the surface of the glacier, it melts the ice - but the contact between molten rock and water causes a thin sheet of obsidian to form, over which the lava continues to flow. Meanwhile, the water melted below continues to flow into the cistern, unharmed by the deluge.

The device is far more effective than I thought it would be - but if I let it run any longer, the magma will flow around the edges of the MELT's wall, and spread back west where it will endanger the vampires. Already, it spreads six urists back along the northern edge - about a third of the way to Dumat Sensesstakes, the foul fog zombie diagnoser.

With a smirk, I hit the space bar, unpausing the game.

I have had enough of Rith Craftportent and her creepy antics. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that Nish Metaldied was slain by Dodók Syrupsabres, perhaps not. I have an inkling suspicion that mayor Rith is involved in some sort of unholy pact with the rest of the undead in the fortress, and that the fruit of her collusions was the death of her predecessor - her only political opponent in the fight for Roomcarnage.

I take one last look at her profile, and notice something interesting. When Rith Craftportent first arrive at Roomcarnage, she was described as having "what was once a thin frame, now bearing enormous, thick layers of fat." It would seem that her five-year long fast has starved her, for she now "has a thin frame with some fat on it."

Very soon, what little fat remains on her body will boil away, and Rith Craftportent shall be no more.

So too will Domas Firstfigures be incinerated.

The vampire woodworker has been an obedient servant during his time spent on the surface above Roomcarnage, but I remind myself that he too is a bloodsucking monster who would drain the entire fortress of blood if he were given the chance.

The world, Roomcarnage, and my sanity are better off without these two.

As I wait for the vampire's death sentence to be carried out, I notice something forming along the deluge's eastern edge - curtain wall of obsidian and ice, snaking along the edge of the lava flood from north to south. Curious.

I doubt it will reach the vampires in time. Domas will almost certainly perish in flame before the rapidly forming curtain wall reaches him. And as for Rith Craftportent...

...I zoom back to Domas Firstfigures, just to make sure he's still there.

He is.

Rith Craftportent, however, has disappeared.

I find her up on the slopes of the volcano, standing next to the foul fog zombie, staring out over the newly formed lava lake. Or is she staring out at me? Smiling? Laughing?

Several seconds pass before I'm able to break away from her frigid, eldritch gaze, and look away.

continued in part two...