Chapter 47 :: The Attack of Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors

February 28th, 2015

It is the 6th of Sandstone, in the mid-autumn of 1212. In one month's time, the dwarven caravan will arrive, bearing goods and treasures fit for trading with the legendary fortress Roomcarnage. The merchants will also be prepared to carry back an offering to the Mountainhome - a show of wealth, a gift for the king himself, to convince him to change the seat of dwarven civilization to this accursed fortress beneath the ice. Only one month is left before they reach the Roomcarnage - but something has happened, that makes me doubt more than ever that there will be any dwarves here to receive the merchants when they arrive.

Deep beneath the surface, a billowing cloud of dust fills the dwarven barracks, as well as much of the cavern outside.

Death has come to Roomcarnage.

The source of the dust is Simo Veiledsins, a great quadruped composed of bituminous coal. The monstrous beast entered the fortress through the hole the dwarves carved in the barracks' eastern wall, which was used for corpse dumping. That hole was set high into the caverns wall, but still the horrific monster managed to find it.

A forgotten beast of any variety is not to be taken lightly, but Simo Veiledsins poses a distinctly awful threat. The clouds of deadly dust that Simo emits undoubtedly carry an awful disease. I don't yet know what effect it will have upon the dwarves, but I will surely find out very soon.

I have to formulate a plan. If I don't act quickly and decisively, I am positive that Simo Veiledsins will go down in history as the beast that brought down Roomcarnage. I decide to take some time to carefully evaluate the situation.

The beast stands in the southeastern corner of the barracks, close to the stairwell that links the deep inner fortress with the mines below and the surface above. It is a crucial avenue in the fortress. Downward, the stairwell connects with the deep mines, where the dwarves once gathered mythical adamantine ore amidst stone warm to the touch.

The stairwell also leads upward, past a series of mines - which, coincidentally, connect with the fortress' water and sand supplies - to the oldest section of the fortress, just beneath the glacier. This section of the stairwell constitutes the main route that haulers, masons, and pump operators take when they move between the upper and lower sections of the fortress. This section the stairwell is also the route that will be taken by the dwarves who are currently near the surface, if I force them to return to the heart of the fortress. Unfortunately, Simo Veiledsins now stands at the base of that stairwell. This way is closed.

There is another way. Years ago, I had the dwarves carve out this narrow, single-tile wide passageway leading directly from the forges to a construction site above. This passage has lain unused for a while now, but it may serve my purposes now. If I can get the dwarves near the surface to use this passage, and not the primary stairwell that is occupied by Simo Veiledsins, then many lives may be saved.

First things first. The section of the fortress occupied by Simo Veiledsins - and, I can only assume, a great many corpses-to-be - must be sealed off. I begin by locking the hatch and doors at the barracks' western end, thus blocking any traffic going through the dust-filled chamber.

Next, I will need the dwarves to hastily construct a series of barriers. Normally, I would use the fortress' ample supply of obsidian blocks to do so, but the blocks are stockpiled near the surface construction sites, and the the barriers will need to be quickly built in the heart of the fortress.

Years ago, I forbade the use of all stone except obsidian, so that the fortress' stone goods would be of greater value. Now, I enable all stone to be used, so that the dwarves may use whatever rubble is lying about to construct the walls.

I look for a good location to place the stone barriers. This section of tunnels leads directly from the stairwell to the well hall, and thus to the fortress' recreational center.

It would be too risky to have the dwarves construct the wall anywhere near Simo Veiledsins' current location. I have one of the barriers atop the stairs leading from the well hall to the tunnels beyond. I order the dwarves to use the dacite that lay within arm's reach.

Sealing the fortress at the other side will be tricky. The barracks is connected to the fortress via a stairwell, and a pair of double doors. The stairwell can be walled up, but the double doors open onto a farm. I don't have time for the farm to be deconstructed, but there is a solution - there is one more stairwell, west of the farm, that leads downward to the fortress. There are no other connections to the fortress in this direction.

I order the stairwells to be walled up with the andesite that has lain nearby, unused for years.

With the lower connections dealt with, I turn my attention to the upper fortress. At the top of the stairwell, the fortress opens up broadly. There is no easy spot to throw up a wall, and besides, there is too much at stake. Dozens of dwarves are currently working in this section of the fortress - if a barrier is not erected in time, they will all die.

They will have to be evacuated.

To evacuate the upper levels of the fortress, I will need a new burrow. I create one, give it an evocative name, and pick an icon and color for it.

Then, I go about the business of designating sections of the fortress that are fit for evacuation. Naturally, anywhere where the stone barriers are being built, the dwarves need access - the well hall is definitely to be within the burrow, as well as the route leading from the well to the fortress beyond.

The mayor's quarters, statuary and memorial halls, dining hall, and food stockpiles are all included as well.

I don't know how long this is going to take, and it seems like a bad idea to deprive the dwarves of sleep at a time when they may need every shred of positivity to stay sane. I include all the bedrooms in the new burrow, as well as some work stockpiles.

I make sure to include various other internal routes and pathways in the burrow - it wouldn't do for certain vital places to be suddenly inaccessible in this time of crisis.

Finally, I designate the chamber near the barracks, where the other stone barriers are to be built.

Roomcarnage is not a huge fortress, but there are over ten years of tunnels riddling the stone beneath the Oily Furnace. This burrow only includes the most vital parts of the fortress.

As an additional safety precaution, I utilize the traffic designations tool to highlight the narrow back passageway, through which I hope the dwarves near the surface will flee into the depths.

Likewise, I designate the compromised stairwell as a restricted area. Since there are no locked doors between the dwarves above and the well hall below, they might still decide to path down the stairwell and into the fortress by this route. I hope that this prevents most of them from doing so.

The time has come. I assign the new emergency burrow to a civilizan alert, and sound the alarm.

I have done all I can. The fate of Roomcarnage is in the hands of the dwarves now, for good or ill.

I unpause, and the dust clears. Eight dwarves lay unconscious on the floor of the barracks.

As my announcement feed floods with cancellations and interruptions, I examine the unconscious dwarves. They show no other symptoms - for now. I resist the urge to modify my plans, so that they might be saved. Until I have discovered precisely what effects this deadly dust has on the dwarves, I aim to treat Simo Veiledsins' excretions the same way I treat the foul fog - by avoiding it entirely.

Speaking of whom - I look around for the forgotten beast. It has fled, up the stairwell.

As Simo Veiledsins rages upward, a swordsdwarf in the dining hall bestows a name upon a copper short sword.

It is the very same blade that slew Rupola Mobbedpuzzle the Steamy Scabs, another forgotten beast. Perhaps Îton hopes to slay this dust-spewing newcomer. I sincerely hope that Îton never gets the chance.

I follow Simo as it careens up the stairwell on wings of tar and coal, filling the stairwell with monstrous howls and clouds of black dust. Within seconds, the beast reaches the upper fortress - the dwarves have barely had time to evacuate.

As it reaches the upper landing, Simo slays its first victim, a dwarven child.

The dwarves scatter and flee. Some escape, but a few are caught in the cloud of roiling coal dust. Through gaps in the swirling black dust, I catch glimpses of their unconscious, prone bodies.

I take a look to the south. Most of the dwarves are fleeing southward, as I had hoped. A few, however, seem intent on using the stairwell to the north.

At the top of the stairwell, the first corpse has already risen up as an undead. It's a cat. Lovely.

As the stubborn few living dwarves round the corner towards the stairwell, another cloud of dust comes roaring down the tunnel. As I watch, I think I see a dwarf perish, a moment before the dust reaches its body. Nearby, dwarven corpses are already rising up on dead legs, their eyes filled with a twinkling hatred for life.

My heart sinks. I had hoped that the syndrome carried by Simo's dust would be relatively benign - something that caused dwarves to vomit, or get dizzy, or break out in blisters all over their body. Something from which they could recover, in time.

Alas, the deadly dust of Simo Veiledsins is aptly named. Without being exposed to anything more than a single blast of bituminous coal dust, all eight dwarves in the barracks have died. One has already reanimated as an undead. Goosebumps creep along my skin.

Death has come to Roomcarnage.

At the top of the stairwell, Simo Veiledsins stands waiting for any idiot that would dare face it. A woodworker edges past two corpses - one of which is throttling a craftsdwarf - and rounds the corner. For a moment, the woodworker experiences a slew of unhappy thoughts.

Then, she is engulfed in deadly dust, and falls unconscious. She will never wake up.

I watch as the last few dwarves in the upper fortress flee or fall. Another woodworker manages to escape, avoiding the attention of the two corpses just down the hallway. Monom Temptedsilvers, the fortress' broker, is not so lucky.

Monom attempts to escape through the narrow hallway, but only finds a dead end, in the form of a deep hole leading directly to the caverns. The broker attempts to flee past the forgotten beast, but she is caught in a cloud of dust.

The dust clears, and she is dead. Once again, Roomcarnage is without a broker.

I check in on the stone barriers. The walls near the barracks have been successfully built - the fortress is secure at this end.

At the other end, there are problems. A corpse managed to reach the well hall before the walls were built. Fortunately, a pack of stray dogs has kept the undead from getting any further.

Unfortunately, the dwarves will have to give up their water supply, at least for the time being. I cancel the construction of the walls.

Then, I lock both of the doors at the well room's northern end.

I remove this section of the fortress from the emergency burrow.

Finally, I order a new barrier to be constructed, sealing the passage off entirely. It'll need to be a little larger than before, but thankfully there's plenty of labor present.

The dwarves get to work immediately, but it seems like there are still a few who haven't figured out that the area is forbidden.

The barrier is constructed, but at least one dwarf - a child - is caught on the other side when the last stone is put into place.

This is an instance where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. Assuming Roomcarnage doesn't quickly descend into a furious tempest of misery and death, I'll work on getting them out later. For now, the wall stays up.

I take stock of the situation. The barracks is full of undead. The only two corpses that haven't been reanimated are draped unceremoniously over bloodstained statues. The dwarves were blown there by the force of the deadly dust, and there they died - precisely how the dust slew them, I'm not sure. But judging from the pools of blood all around the barracks, I can deduce that it wasn't pretty.

In the well room, all of the dogs have been slain and reanimated. The faithful creatures gave their lives in defense of the dwarves, who managed to escape and fall back with few casualties. Alas, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have lost their only source of liquid water - they will need to reclaim it, or else will have to begin their old policy of locking the injured and infirm alone in their bedrooms, for lack of water to clean wounds.

The worst scene is at the top of the stairwell. The rough stone is smeared and spattered with dwarven gore. A few bodies have reanimated, but not all. It would seem that Simo Veiledsins has shown once again that the forgotten beasts, whatever they are, despise living and undead dwarves equally.

The time has come for the last passage to be sealed off. I return the civilian alert to normal.

I lock the doors at the top of the southern stairwell.

Then, I order one last wall to be built at the base of the southern stairwell, south of the forges.

There. Everyone is either dead, or safe inside the fortress.

Everyone, except for three.

Nish Cometorb, one of the fortress' prodigious planters, was probably sleeping in the old hospital when this section of the fortress was sealed off. Now, all that separates him from the corpses in the barracks are a pair of locked doors.

Also, in the corridor leading from the fortress to the well room, two children mill about, completely calm about being trapped in a walled up hallway that echoes with the muffled howls of undead hounds.

I order one wall to be torn down. With any luck, the children will run back into the fortress, and the hole can be sealed up behind them.

Meanwhile, Nish will seal himself in the upper wing of the inner fortress - where the old hospital, statuary, and butchery are located - by building a wall just north of the door.

As the dwarves begin rescue operations, a sudden stream of ominously purple announcements fill me with shock. I check the feed, and discover that one week has passed since Simo Veiledsins began its attack - one week has passed since all of these dwarves "mysteriously" went missing.

I can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. Even now, after fleeing a dust-spewing monstrosity of coal and asphalt and sealing off huge sections of the fortress, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye hold on to the hope that those of their number who were caught on the other side of the stone barriers are somehow still alive.

Although I botch capturing the moment in a .gif, the rescue operation at the fortress' eastern end is successful. The two children return safely to the fortress, and the wall is built once again.

As well, Nish has sealed himself in this section of the fortress. Now, all that remains to be done is to reconnect the old hospital and statuary with the rest of the fortress.

Careful to avoid the thoroughly engraved statuary, I order a small staircase to be carved out of the stone below.

The miners arrive quickly, and the passage is dug. Nish Cometorb returns to the fortress, and goes to get a drink.

With bated breath, I return my gaze to the fortress' common areas. I watch the citizens of Roomcarnage mill about, chatting with one another while admiring the statues, cages, and engravings. The remaining soldiers train in the dining hall, skillfully executing weapon drills while children and packs of dogs look on.

And nowhere do I see a red arrow. Nobody is unhappy. Everyone is content, despite the sudden disappearance of over twenty dwarves.

Is the nightmare over?

No, of course not. This is Roomcarnage.

The attack of Simo Veiledsins may be at a halt, however. The deadly beast has taken to wandering around the uppermost parts of the fortress - stalking the tunnels of haunted ice and destroying any creature it happens across, living or deceased.

Soon after things calm down, a child is taken with a strange mood.

However, little Cog sits in the craftsdwarf's workshop, furiously and secretively sketching pictures of various raw materials. From this, I can deduce that he needs stone, bone, wood, rough gems, and metal bars. Because he hasn't begun construction, I know that he doesn't have access to at least one of these materials.

He's already collected plenty of stone, and he has copper bars. That leaves bone, wood, and rough gems.

Despite being located in a reanimating biome, Roomcarnage has no shortage of bone. Most of what the dwarves have stockpiled is dog bone, but there are also remains of other pet animals that migrants brought with them, long ago. Bone is a rare resource here beneath the Oily Furnace, and so it is treated jealously, and used for nothing except strange moods.

There is also plenty of wood available. The dwarves still have a stockpile full of fungiwood and tower-cap lumber that was traded from the caravan last year.

I look around the fortress for gems in walls - low-hanging fruit. I designate them to be mined, and let the dwarves handle it.

As I look over the fortress, a burst of smoke catches my eye. Simo has returned to the barracks, where it began its attack. I watch as it lays waste to the entire chamber, first destroying the undead, then smashing apart the statues - all amidst a roiling, battering tempest of toxic black fumes.

I spot Cog wandering through the fortress once more, searching for more raw materials for his strange mood.

I check the workshop, and am pleased to discover the rough green zircons there. It's not so much that the artifact is going to be anything getting excited about - I'm just relieved that I was able to avert one more death in such a time as this.

In the barracks, the flesh of the dead dwarves begins to rot, and a noxious fog fills the barracks and slowly erupts outward, billowing gently into the magma-lit cavern. Miasma is a rare sight in Roomcarnage - most living creatures are reanimated before they get a chance to begin rotting. Undead flesh is resistant to decomposition - but Simo Veiledsins is ensuring that these corpses are inanimate more times than not.

Cog begins his construction, having gathered all his materials.

As the child makes his artifact, I look out over the fortress once again. I can find no signs of unhappiness, let alone a developing tantrum spiral. In a way, the forgotten beast's deadly dust was a mercy - it rendered any dwarf who was caught in its blast immediately unconscious, and thus unable to witness any of the horrors that immediately followed. All of the victims of Simo Veiledsins died in their sleep - their deaths were not reported, because there were no waking witnesses. Without direct evidence of their death, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye will go on believing that their friends and kin "went missing," and will not receive any unhappy thoughts. The course is clear, then - the lost portions of Roomcarnage must never be reclaimed.

Little Cog finishes his artifact - an obsidian puzzlebox named Workercleaves.

The artifact is useless and largely unremarkable - although the image of a dwarf embracing a goblin might give pause to more traditional dwarves.

Into the finished goods stockpile it goes, never to be - oh, wait. The finished goods stockpile is in the upper fortress, near the trade depot. And the weapon. And the weapon's access tunnels.

Reestablishing contact with the surface is going to be interesting.

For now, the upper levels of Roomcarnage have become the residency of Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors - obscure, perhaps, because nobody is entirely sure what happened to all those dwarves who didn't make it back to the fortress before the walls went up. Now the beast of coal wanders these unhallowed tunnels, slaying the grotesquely mutilated undead remnants of those who went missing in the mid-autumn of 1212.

It is the 6th of Timber, in the late autumn of 1212. In a matter of days, the caravan will arrive from the Mountainhome - but the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have sealed themselves off from the surface, deep within the safest, most secure halls in all of Roomcarnage. Will they be able to regain access to the trade depot in time? Will the weapon be secured and reclaimed? Or will the dwarves of the Momentous Dye perish in darkness and isolation, forgotten and forsaken by their Mountainhome? Tune in next time!