...continued from part one

While the manager relays Rith's mandate to the smiths, the child completes the artifact. It's a door - not entirely useless!

Praise Armok! Maybe this door can be placed somewhere prominent - or perhaps I'll save it for the time when, hopefully, nobility resides in Roomcarnage, and there is more a need for expensive furniture than just the general happiness of the fortress.

That time, though, is far off, and any hopes or dreams held in sight of Roomcarnage's bleak surroundings are fruitless and fleeting. The fate of Roomcarnage was sealed the day the expedition arrived at the Oily Furnace, and every passing year spent clinging to life beneath the Ice of Ghosts is one less year before the end.

Even after the last dwarf has perished, however, the works of the Momentous Dye will endure. The surface will never be the same, and Roomcarnage will have for a memorial the vast, twisted nightmare of stone and ice that grows broader with each activation of the weapon. I watch as spires of magma spew up from below - soon, the time will come again to unleash the blood of the earth upon the Ice.

A wan ghost catches my eye.

It's the disembodied spirit of Nish Ringbrim - a name I do not recognize, a name that has been obscured by lies ever since the vampire arrived. When Nish came to Roomcarnage, he adopted the name "Domas Firstfigures." For several years, Nish lurked atop the Ice of Ghosts, occasionally shadowing the much more sinister vampire mayor, until he was engulfed in molten rock.

Nish's spirit, untethered and forlorn, silently haunts the lava vent where his body was incinerated.

I struggle to banish the sense of profound pity that I feel as I look over Nish's profile.

Then, I order a slab to be carved.

I have the memorial placed in the smaller eastern hall, north of the well.

Soon, a hauler arrives to install the slab...

...and Nish's tortured spirit is put to rest. He will not be forgotten...

...although he will not be remembered fondly. In his youth, Nish served as the High Cradle of the Faith of Barricading - a position of religious leadership, no doubt associated with the deity known as Zon.

"Slayer of Dwarves / Loving husband." Charming.

Curious to see what else I can find, I go to Rith Craftportent's profile. "Export of bracelets Prohibited" ... somehow, I don't think that will be a problem.

I go to Rith's relationships screen, through which I am able to access Nish's profile.

Ah, there at the bottom - "k: Kills" - Nish's kill list.

By Armok. It's impressive, but not the most expansive list I've seen by far. I'm sure that another vampire's list is quite a bit longer.

I glance at the mayor.

A cold draft blows across my bare feet - far too cold for this seasonably cool autumn afternoon. Goosebumps prickle up my legs as the icy chill cuts through my bones.

I look away.

I use Nish's slab to designate a memorial hall. Before the end, I'm sure that many more slabs will ring the walls of this black room of smooth, glassy obsidian.

A while later, another uninvited guest arrives, but this one holds special significance.

The arrival of the jungle titan Elana Stenchravens marks the first visit of a true megabeast in Roomcarnage. There have been many forgotten beasts, of course, but Elana is the first surface-dwelling monstrosity to lay siege to the fortress. It is likely that others will follow in her wake - horrific titans, rocs, hydras, dragons.

The walking pillar of salt wastes no time. It easily crushes the nearest undead - the severed right lower arm of Mörul Isethbesmar.

With another blow, Elana Stenchravens destroys the corpse of Cilob Cattenled. It rushes towards the corpse of Degël Otungzas...

...and the undead kicks the titan's head clean off.

The jungle titan collapses into a pile of salt.

Well, that's that, I guess.

Soon afterwards, the caravan arrives from the mountainhome. Once again, they arrive on the surface of the glacier - it seems likely that they cannot arrive in the secluded canyon to the north. Whatever solution I devise for finally conquering the surface and ensuring the safe arrival of the caravan, it must allow the merchants to arrive along a natural, unflooded edge.

For now, it seems that another year will pass without contact with the outside world. One more failed caravan, one more dead outpost liaison.

The merchants bolt northward the moment I unpause. The undying hordes descend upon the fresh meat without hesitation.

Curiously, it seems that the salt left behind by the jungle titan isn't going to return from the grave, perhaps as a result of its mineral composition, or its disintegration at the moment of death. Interesting.

The outpost liaison also begins fervently fleeing from the undead. However, unlike the merchants, which may eventually become discouraged and leave, the outpost liaison has the ultimate dedication for his mission. He would sooner perish than leave Roomcarnage without meeting with the fortress' leader.

The merchants move far slower than the undead chasing them, but fortunately (for the merchants themselves) their pack animals serve as meat shields against attack.

The outpost liaison, however, has no such defense.

Panicked and desperate, he bolts into the small glacial cave, hewn out years before by the vampire mayor herself - although, that was before her election, and before it was known that she was a vampire.

I cannot lock the door behind him - the obsidian portal has been lost to the undead for a long time now, and never reclaimed.

With undead pouring in through the southern door, the liaison flees through the only other exit.

Of course, this passage is a dead end. It was tunneled by Rith Craftportent, under my own direction - in my unknowing naivete, I had hoped that the only surviving immigrant in the most recent wave of newcomers might carve her own entrance into the fortress, with her own pick. Fortunately, I noticed the tell-tale signs of her vampiric affliction moments before it was too late - and Rith has been trying to enter the fortress ever since.

The laison must have realized that the passage led nowhere after a certain point, because he turns and begins running back towards the surface.

He makes it into the glacial cave, and no further.

Soon, his body will join the undead hordes that made his mission futile. Perhaps next year, Roomcarnage will establish contact with the outside world.

I turn my attention back towards the surface. The merchants' pack animals have been slain, but the idiots haven't had the good sense to escape from the accursed glacier volcano.

Perhaps they have a deep faith that their guards will protect them. The two macedwarves that accompanied the caravan have, during their short time at Roomcarnage, gained impressive titles.

Their simple, poorly crafted maces serve them well against the undead.

While I don't expect these macedwarves to survive for very long, they do provide a glimmer of hope regarding the surface's eventual reclamation.

If copper and bismuth bronze maces are all it takes to overcome the undead - temporarily, of course - then perhaps a small cadre of skilled warriors could suppress a group of zombies long enough for the corpses to be disposed of.

It's a reassuring thought.

Of course, accidents can and will happen.

The tiniest slip could snowball into the most devastating of consequences.

And yet, Roomcarnage must fall, eventually.

The price of glory must be paid - the only question is when.

I watch the surviving macedwarf crawl off the edge of the map, her leg broken and enemies defeated. I wonder if she'll survive the long trek back to the mountainhome, across the haunted, undead-infested glacier.

It's irrelevant - her mission was a failure. The outpost liaison is dead, the caravan dispersed and penniless. Her comrade's broken body now shambles across the bloody snowdrifts.

If Roomcarnage is to rise to glory, the ascension must begin within. Salvation will never come from without. The Momentous Dye alone may snatch eternal fame from the icy claws of oblivion.

The volcano is nearly full. The time for the last great deluge is at hand.

It is the 21st of Timber, in the late autumn of 1210. Soon, yet another flood of lava shall cover the glacier, this time spreading out over the largely untouched southeastern quarter. When the flood is done, little will remain of the glacier as it was when the dwarves first arrived at the Oily Furnace. The time for massive, terraforming deluges will be at an end, and the Momentous Dye's last ditch efforts at establishing contact with the mountainhome will commence. If they fail, Roomcarnage will surely collapse into ruin - but if they succeed, the fortress may become the mountainhome, and every dwarven tongue will speak of the glory of Roomcarnage, forever.