Chapter 48 :: In Which a Yak goes Stark Raving Mad

April 7th, 2015

It is the 6th of Timber, in the late autumn of 1212. Since the year turned, Roomcarnage has been embroiled in a series of bloody conflicts that threatened to destroy the fortress entirely. Now, in the wake of a devastating battle with a forgotten beast, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye are sealed away beneath the earth, having walled off all but the most vital sections of the fortress. Here, deep within the innermost sanctum of Roomcarnage, they might survive for a time - but this is not the time for solitude. In a few days, the caravan from the mountainhome will arrive, and the dwarves must be prepared to receive it.

The trade depot, located within the haunted glacier itself, is still free of enemies. However, the bridges are in the wrong positions to receive the caravan - the eastern, inner bridges are lowered, while the western, outer bridges are raised.

I order a lever pulled...

...and the positions of the bridges are soon toggled.

To trade with the caravan, the dwarves will need to carve a new passage. The old route to the east of the depot now leads into forbidden sections of the fortress, inhabited by the dusty, shambling remains of dwarves and the forgotten beast that slew them. I designate a new passage to the north - first, I place the channels where the bridges will be located. I leave a wall of untouched ice between the designations and the depot - just in case.

Then, I designate the tall stairwell that will connect the depot with the fortress, far beneath.

Finally, I connect the bottom of the stairwell with the fortress - the new passage will open up into this mostly unused stockpile.

The miners quickly arrive and get to work. As they carve out the passage, I notice an announcement at the bottom of the screen - a new ghost has risen, and is haunting the fortress.

It is the disembodied spirit of Tulon Shadetowers. As I observe the spectral fishery worker, I cannot help but notice that the mayor is nearby, along with the outpost liaison, and another ghost. I grimace - the fortress is ostensibly run by a popular dwarf elected by the people, someone who this ghost would have known in life.

But the other ghost is Urvad Tongssteamy, a ghost which assuredly knew another dwarf in life. Before Urvad came to haunt the living mayor of Roomcarnage, he haunted another: Rith Craftportent, the vampire usurper. Rith is gone, I know - smashed between two rising drawbridges - but there's something in this mess of ASCII that strikes a deep and foreboding chill through my marrow.

I try to shake off the feeling, and order a slab to be engraved for the fishery worker. At least one of the ghosts can be put to rest. Urvad Tongssteamy, though, will be there for every moment of Roomcarnage's bloody descent into oblivion.

I check in on the miners. They've had years of practice in Roomcarnage, carving through the blighted stone beneath the Ice of Ghosts.

As I watch the miners, a distressing announcement appears. I check the log, and my heart drops straight down into my stomach. A living dwarf is interrupted by a forgotten beast - this can mean only one thing.

I zoom to the site, expecting the worst - but I find nothing but a bare stone floor.

The forgotten beast, Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors, still squirms and fidgets in the bloodstained, corpse-strewn shell of the old barracks. It hasn't gained entrance to the rest of the fortress - but somehow, it is interrupting the dwarves. I have walled up the lower parts of the stairwell - perhaps the dwarves are somehow catching a glimpse of the beast through a crack between the top of the wall and the adjacent ceiling.

I don't want to take any chances here. I order a clothier's shop and a door to be torn out, so that additional walls might be put up around the already sealed stairwells.

Before the masons can get to work, the caravan arrives. As expected, the merchants arrive at the maps northwestern corner. But where is the outpost liaison?

I check my announcements, and find that a dwarf has arrived - but this dwarf is not the liaison.

The dwarf is Kadol Glazetame, a mere farmer.

Kadol makes a run for it, dodging undead and frozen spittle as she sprints across the bloody snowdrifts. I do not know why she came to Roomcarnage, or who sent her, but she will undoubtedly perish here.

I return my attention to the caravan, expecting to see the merchants making their way into the depot - but instead, I find conflict. The merchants flee in terror as the caravan guards battle their zombified pack animals.

A hammerdwarf, a swordsdwarf, and a marksdwarf are engaged in combat with two yak bull foul fog zombies. Foul fog zombies are nigh-invincible - only decapitation will end their rampage. I am forced to recognize this situation for what it is - lost.

I look back at Kadol Glazetame, and find her lying calmly upon the snowdrifts. She too has been afflicted with the curse of the foul fog.

Gritting my teeth, I look at Èzum Earthwane, last year's outpost liaison. Even if Kadol Glazetame had arrived as an outpost liaison and not a farmer, I doubt she would have survived - but now I know that, so long as Èzum Earthwane remains alive, there we be no other outpost liaisons.

For now, there is nothing that can be done. I watch as the wagon slowly turns around and begins making its way northward, away from the Oily Furnace and the vast floodplains of volcanic rock and ice that sprawl around it.

Another year will pass before the caravan returns. Roomcarnage will need to survive at least until then, if it is to become the Mountainhome. Frankly, I'm not sure that it will.

There's nothing else that can be done for the merchants - not this year. I return to the fortress and continue managing the current situation. Space has been made around the sealed stairwells where, somehow, dwarves are still catching glimpses of the forgotten beast on the level above. I order an additional layer of stone walls to be built.

Hopefully, this prevents any more interruptions.

I check the surface once again. The swordsdwarf and hammerdwarf guards are dead, and a disemboweled yak zombie is bearing down upon the marksdwarf as a nearby merchant flees with one of the surviving pack animals. I remind myself that, if I want to trade with the Mountainhome in the years to come, whatever mess is left up here will need to be cleaned up first.

Suddenly, I receive an odd announcement.

I find it odd because the only diplomat to be found anywhere in Roomcarnage is still right where she has been for the past year.

As I glare at the useless outpost liaison, an unusual announcement appears at the bottom of my screen.

No fewer than six masterworks, all by the same dwarf, have been lost! This can be disastrous - sensitive artists who suffer the travesty of art defacement can easily be thrown over the edge, into insane rage.

I do some snooping around, and discover that the masterful dwarf is none other than Uzol Mossfountain, the legendary armorsmith of Roomcarnage. Then the lost masterworks are pieces of armor, most likely copper plate armor that was worn by the militia... but how could it have been lost?

After a search, I find my answer at the bottom of a magma pool, directly beneath the hole connecting the caverns to the bloodsoaked lair that was once the barracks. Five obsidian statues and a masterfully crafted adamantine warhammer lay amidst glowing piles of molten copper - the remains of Uzol Mossfountain's craftsdwarfship.

All of that equipment must have been blown out of the barracks by Simo Veiledsins' tempestuous dust clouds, along with a couple animated corpses, only to tumble downward into the magma.

I check Uzol's profile, fearing for the worst - but am relieved to find the armorsmith in good spirits, despite having suffered through the destruction of his masterworks. The travesties of art defacement is lost in a sea of mostly happy thoughts.

Wait a second. One thought stands out to me: "He was comforted by a wonderful creature in a cage recently."

The only creatures in cages in all of Roomcarnage are the animated remains of those animals who were butchered in the fortress - billowy, undead nightmares of skin and hair. The dwarves of Roomcarnage are a strange bunch, to be sure, if they find comfort in the company of these caged abominations.

I watch Uzol for a few minutes, wary for any sign of a degrading mood, but I am soon distracted by yet another strange announcement.

Mosus Controlleddoors, one of the caravan merchants, has been stricken by melancholy. It's understandable, I suppose - after the long, arduous trek across the terrifying Ice of Ghosts, the merchants were expecting a refreshingly warm welcome from the dwarves of the Momentous Dye. Instead, they found only death, and insanity.

It is a dire situation. I know, for Mosus' yak soon goes stark raving mad.

Recalling that I had recently ordered a slab to be engraved, I now have it placed in the memorial hall, just outside the mayor's quarters.

Then I return my gaze to the surface once more. The undead still fight the living, while Mosus and his yak stand gibbering and murmering nearby.

There's nothing that can be done at the moment. This year, I will need to take care of the undead that now plague this section of the map - the future of Roomcarnage depends upon it.

For now, though, I must continue helping the fortress to recover from the attack of Simo Veiledsins. I order the bridges to be placed in the new passage that will soon connect the fortress to the trade depot.

As the dwarves get to work, yet another ghost appears.

It is the disembodied spirit of Geshud Bronzeglowed, an animal trainer. I shiver with an uncanny chill - just like the other ghosts that have recently risen, Geshud has chosen to haunt the mayor of Roomcarnage.

It matters not. Geshud will be exorcised just like the others.

This new influx of ghosts is probably a direct result of the forgotten beast attack, I realize. It will be some time before every victim of Simo Veiledsins is put to rest.

As for the forgotten beast itself, Simo still lurks in its lair, letting out cloud after cloud of buffeting coal dust as the undead perpetually reanimate.

There is still much left to do before the fortress is in a position to retaliate.

The next order of business is constructing a new well. This one will be a bit more modest than the other.

Once the well hall is designated, I connect it to the rest of the fortress.

The miners happily and eagerly get to work. Soon, Roomcarnage will once again have access to its fresh water reservoir - a resource that was originally gained with great effort.

I take another glance at the surface, and am shocked to discover what lies there - the unmoving remains of the yak cow foul fog zombie. The beast was slain in the only way that a vile husk can be - decapitation.

I find the corpses of the caravan guards nearby. The combat must have concluded recently, otherwise their corpses would already have risen as undead. The situation is very mysterious, indeed.

I return my attention to the miners. As I watch, they reach the base of the stairwell that will lead upwards, to the new well hall. One by one, the setbacks inflicted upon the fortress by the horrific coal-beast are being mitigated.

As the miners work, the mayor mandates the construction of goods.

These, at least, are rings. Just rings.

I breathe a sigh of relief. If ever mayor Urvad should mandate the construction of either slabs or short swords, I would probably die.

As the miners reach the new well hall, winter arrives on the calendar. It has been a rough year, to say the least - almost certainly, the most difficult year in all of Roomcarnage's history, since the first. The older well hall, with its smooth stone floors and walls spattered with blood, is a testament to the terrors the dwarves have faced these past few months.

Soon, the hall is done. I order a new well to be built over the empty space.

Back on the surface, the last living remnant of the caravan clambers across the snowdrifts of frozen elf blood - the babbling, raving mad yak. It desperately fights off a pair of undead before succumbing itself. It is a pitiful fate - but I cannot dwell on it for long. Just like the rest of the slain visitors, it will soon join the ranks of the vile army of undead that plagues the surface of Roomcarnage. If the dwarves ever wish to do trade again, it must be dealt with.

And indeed, I intend for Roomcarnage to do trade once again. I order a third lever to be placed in the memorial hall outside of the mayor's quarters.

Once it is placed, I order it to be linked to the two bridges just north of the ice wall separating them from the trade depot.

Then, I order the western lever to be pulled, thus sealing the trade depot away from the rest of the map. It would not do to have anything hostile wandering into the area at a sensitive time like this.

Nearby, in the new hall, the well is complete. Dwarves arrive and begin washing themselves for the first time in months.

Fortunately, it's just elf blood.

As I check in on the progress of the lever linkages, I discover a hapless dwarven child, caught in the roughly-hewn space underneath one of the new bridges.

Poor sap. I go ahead and designate the access tunnel and upward ramps beneath the space. I was planning on doing this anyway, but since there is a hungry and thirsty dwarf caught inside, it'll have to happen now. This design ensures that when the bridges are raised, there is a deep pit between the hall and the barrier - anything that falls into the pit retains a foot path to the side it was caught on.

Before a miner can arrive, the mayor issues another mandate.

A work order for yet another ring.

My previous work order for rock crafts still stands. That ought to take care of it.

Soon, a miner arrives and carves out the passage. A hole is opened upward into the narrow space, and a hungry child emerges. A life is saved.

Now that the bridges have been linked, the time has come to breach the final barrier before the trade depot.

As usual, I'm interrupted before work can begin. A dwarf is taken by a strange mood!

The moody dwarf is a weaver - with a successful mood, the dwarf will reach legendary skill, and a legendary clothier or weaver is a valuable asset to any fortress.

As the weaver gathers their materials, I remember that I had engraved a slab for one of the fortress' ghosts. I order the slab to be placed.

Soon, Uzol the weaver begins construction...

...and a restless spirit is put to rest.

The artifact is completed - a pig tail fiber right mitten!

It is a mostly worthless artifact, although it does have a pretty awesome image of a dwarf being slain by a polar bear on it. I suppose this is evidence that somewhere in the Ice of Ghosts, there is life - here in Roomcarnage, there is nothing but death.

Yes, it's a worthless artifact, but the real prize here is the fortress' new legendary weaver. He'll be put to work another day.

or now, I put the finishing touches on the new passageway - removing the useless up-ramps at the bottom of the pit. It's a mostly cosmetic change - just for my own benefit.

Now, the trade depot can be safely accessed by the fortress once again. However, it takes two to trade, and without a safe route for the caravan to follow, the depot is as useless as Hooftreaty, the pig tail fiber right mitten.

No fewer than six undead plague the northwestern corner of the map - a quadrant which, before this autumn, was as safe as a place can be, here in Roomcarnage. Other undead, who have not yet risen, may soon join them. These monsters pose a serious obstacle to the dwarves - if they remain undealt with, Roomcarnage will never have diplomatic contact with the Mountainhome ever again.

And yet, how useful is diplomatic contact if the presence of one liaison precludes the arrival of another? Èzum Earthwane has resided within Roomcarnage for over a year, and what a year it has been. The curse of Rith Craftportent and the attack of Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors have brought the fortress to the brink of total disaster - and here, Èzum Earthwane calmly chats with the seemingly innocent mayor, their ongoing conversation a dark mockery of the fortress' former leadership.

Whatever else is to be done in the coming months, one thing is for certain.

Èzum Earthwane must die.

It is the 2nd of Opal, in the mid-winter of 1212. A new year fast approaches - will it be a year of glorious resurgence, where Roomcarnage rises phoenix-like from the ashes of its prior defeats? Or will it be a year like the last, with repeated disasters and assaults by all manner of foes? None can tell, but all will know in time.