Chapter 40 :: To Kill a Mountain Titan Foul Fog Zombie

December 22nd, 2014

It is the 22nd of Granite, in the early spring of 1211. Just over ten years have passed since the dwarves of the Momentous Dye first arrived at the Oily Furnace, the damned mountain of volcanic ice rising jagged above the haunted glacier known as the Ice of Ghosts. For an entire decade, Roomcarnage has endured, withstanding an unceasing barrage of unholy threats - armies of the walking dead, vampiric usurpers, forgotten beasts from the unknown depths, icy voids in the fabric of time and space. Now, the zombifying plague of foul fog has created a new monstrosity for the fortress to face: a mountain titan foul fog zombie, a horrific abortion of natural law, an immortal shelled dinosaur with no eyes and a poisonous bite, empowered by an undead disease that renders it immune to pain and most forms of physical damage.

And yet, even against such a foe as Stasoz Minecoasts the Root of Panting, the dwarves have weapons at their disposal.

Even now, the miners are hard at work carving out the uppermost levels of a simple but powerful trap, capable of reducing even the strongest foe to a mutilated corpse.

Even a mountain titan infected by foul fog will not be able resist the power of this trap.

It is vital that the zombie titan be dealt with. Stasoz currently stands amongst the snowdrifts of frozen elf blood, upon the northwestern patch of flat glacial ice, unaffected by the repeated floods of lava that the dwarves have unleashed upon the Ice of Ghosts. It is this northwestern patch of ice that the dwarves seek to secure, so that when the caravan arrives this autumn, Roomcarnage may safely do trade with the mountainhome. For it to be safe, this fearsome monster must be defeated.

The trap is elegant and simple. Suspended at the trap's highest point is a thin sheet of raw stone, three urists by three. For the moment, it is supported only by the cavern floor to the northeast.

I order a support to be constructed underneath the thin stone floor. After it's built, the last natural support will be carved away, and the constructed pillar will be the only thing holding up the floor. The pillar will be linked to a lever, so that when the lever is pulled, the pillar will deconstruct and the floor will plummet downward.

When that happens, the raw stone will cascade through over two dozen layers of hollowed out chambers, demolishing everything within its path. These chambers have yet to be excavated, but Armok willing, when the lever is pulled, Stasoz Minecoasts will be within them.

After the torrent of raw stone crushes everything within the chambers, it will pour out through the ceiling of the cavern below. The titan's corpse, and all the stone left from the trap's excavation will be deposited here inside the caves, far from any living dwarf.

In order to be caught in the trap, the titan needs to be able to crawl through it. Each chamber in the trap will be linked by stair to the chambers immediately above and below it.

It's a tall trap, but soon the staircases have been designated. Once carved out, these chambers will form an arduous series of subterranean switchbacks that will take the titan some time to travel through.

I let the miners get to work.

Meanwhile, I have a lever constructed in the fortress' hall of statues and cages. At any given point in time, many dwarves will stand idle here, calmly exchanging pleasantries with their comrades, oblivious to the constant threat of vile undeath that permeates every stone of the fortress. When the time comes for the lever to be pulled, it is safe to assume that there will be a dwarf on hand to perform the task.

The lever is built using a legendary mechanism appropriately known as Calmeddespair. Once the trap has been sprung, I may leave the lever in place - it will continue to instill happy thoughts in those who look upon it.

Soon, the support and the lever are both complete. I order them to be linked, thus arming the trap.

Already, the miners have worked through a few levels of the trap.

I double check on the zombie titan, to make sure it hasn't moved. Stasoz Minecoasts still shambles about atop the ice, its poisonous maw slavering and misting in the arctic air. I take a moment to remind myself that the only thing standing between Stasoz and the heart of the fortress are a few locked doors, and that the titan could easily smash those to pieces if it decided to.

The trap must be completed soon, lest the titan break through before the dwarves have prepared for its arrival.

In the mining, many precious gems are found. I order the jewelers to cut the precious stones - when the caravan arrives in the fall, I intend to have a treasure trove of crafts, gems, and other precious items to trade. For years, only rumors have been told of the wealth of Roomcarnage - in a few months, if all goes well, those rumors will be confirmed and surpassed, and the world will know that the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have grown to be rich beyond imagining.

I watch as the miners continue working...

...and soon, they are finished. The chambers have been carved out and connected with staircases. Excellent.

I order a side tunnel carved, connecting the upper passage directly to the bottommost part of the trap.

The miners quickly get to work.

I take a moment to order some cosmetic touches, removing the ramps all around the support. I leave one ramp, so that there is still a passage leading out at the top of the trap.

It doesn't take long for the miners to complete their task.

Finally, I order a wall to be built in the passage, blocking a direct route from the western tunnels into the fortress.

One of the miners places the stone in the hall, and the trap is complete.

Of course, in order for the titan to path into the trap, some sort of bait is required. This trap uses the most tempting of baits - the unprotected heart of the fortress. Once the doors have been unlocked, a route will be made available to the titan - a circuitous route, but an unobstructed one, leading down the stairwell, back up the switchbacks, and then east into the fortress.

I don't intend to allow the titan to pass through the trap, but accidents happen. If the worst should occur, and the titan gains access to the fortress, the military will need to be on hand. They will almost certainly perish, but they may grant the civilians enough time to seal the passage and save the fortress.

The fortress guard arrives, still grumpy. I pray that nothing else happens that gives them cause for unhappiness.

The time has come. I unlock all of the stone doors to the west of the trap, and discover that the titan has already destroyed one or two of the outermost portals. It doesn't matter - the trap is set.

It only takes a couple seconds for Stasoz Minecoasts the Root of Panting to pick up the scent of dwarven flesh seeping out through the recently unlocked doors.

The beast barrels down the tunnel, pushing the lesser undead aside. It reaches the first door - and stops.

The portal is indeed passable, but Stasoz just stands there.

As I patiently watch the beast's blinking icon, I realize what is happening. The monster isn't waiting idly - it's tearing the door to pieces. My patience is rewarded and my realization is confirmed, as the door disappears without a trace or explanation. Stasoz has completely annihilated the solid stone door.

Stasoz continues through the tunnel, quickly reaching the next door.

Several seconds pass as Stasoz once again tears into the stone portal. The door is open and unlocked, yet this malicous creature seems bent on destroying everything it comes across.

Soon, the nightmarish creature reaches the final door.

I double check the trap. There are mechanisms attached to the support...

...and the lever as well. The trap is ready.

I watch and wait, my heart racing and my breathing slow. If the trap fails, if somehow an accident prevents the lever from being pulled in time, I have no doubt that the fortress will collapse into ruin. This beast is surely the most awful single entity yet faced by the dwarves - and their strategy to defeat it involves dangling the lives of every man, woman, and child in the fortress just out of reach of its poisonous maw.

I don't have much time to wallow in anxiety. A moment later, the door is smashed.

Nothing else stands between the zombie titan and the fortress. It's dagger-like saurian fangs drip saliva and poison as it charges down the hall and down the stairwell.

In a matter of seconds, the titan descends the long stairwell and reaches the bottom of the trap.

I take one last look at the beast.

Then, I order the lever to be pulled.

The beast traverses two more levels before the trap is sprung.

The support collapses, and the thin sheet of rock that was held up by the rigged pillar crashes downward, smashing violently through every carved out room beneath it. The destructive force of the trap is evident in the moment it is sprung - the clouds of yellow sand filling what is now an open shaft are the remnants of the stone itself, crushed into tiny particles by the collapsing cavern.

After a minute or two, I locate what is left of the titan. Praise Armok! The trap is a success!

I watch as the titan's corpse drops down into the cavern and is buffeted about by the billowing cave dust.

Stasoz's body now lies, broken and inanimate, on the floor of the cavern. In time, of course, the malign will of the glacier will instill it with unlife, and Stasoz will walk again - but the caverns have become a sort of dump for the dwarves, where they dispose of unwanted corpses. Here in the caves, Stasoz is harmless.

What is left of the trap? An open shaft, and little else. I may find a use for it, but for now, it will serve as a testament to the industriousness of the living inhabitants of Roomcarnage, and their indomitable will to overcome the evil that surrounds them.

The fortress guard is no longer needed - I dismiss them.

Of course, there are still a few shambling corpses in the western tunnel. They wander idiotically after the zombie titan, not realizing that the path into the fortress has been demolished by a torrent of stone.

I will deal with them later. For now, a great victory has been struck by the dwarves of the Momentous Dye. Stasoz Minecoasts, the mountain titan foul fog zombie, is dead. Its body stands in the deep caverns, powerless to harm the fortress or the caravan that will be arriving in the late autumn.

It is the 10th of Felsite in the late spring of 1211 - a great day for Roomcarnage. A great enemy has been struck down, and not a single dwarven life was harmed in the process. Hopes are high in the fortress, for now all that stands between the fortress and successful trade with the mountainhome are a few months and a handful of easily slain corpses. By reestablishing contact with the outside world, the world may come to know the wealth and power of the fortress Roomcarnage, and the travails and triumphs of those brave dwarves who lived there.