...continued from part one

The dwarves must blaze a new path to glory, and new paths require new tools. I sanction the creation of two new military squads, both utilizing the preexisting "archer" uniform.

Then, I go through the list of dwarves and recruit, selecting from the bottom of the list first. A minute later, and I have two squads of aspiring marksdwarves.

Twenty dwarves, armed with ranged weapons - I have already seen, time and time again, lone marksdwarves stand their ground and hold strong against the army of undead. In the end, of course, they all died - but these dwarves needn't be so foolishly deployed.

They need equipment, though. Quivers and crossbows - I order the weapons to be forged of copper, so that the fortress' legendary weaponsmith might produce the finest crossbows possible. With ranged weapons, only quality matters.

There is a problem, though - ammunition. With no immediate access to replenishing sources of wood or bone, the marksdwarves will have nothing to train with.

My thoughts turn to the muddy cavern beneath the lava lake to the east of the Oily Furnace. When the surface was flooded, this section of the glacier melted - the melt flowed into a cistern below, which now serves as the fortress' water supply. From the mud sprouted blood thorns, the only subterranean vegetation - or any vegetation, for that matter - to be found in accursed Roomcarnage. I had planned on using them as a renewable source of wood.

Alas, when Simo Veiledsins besieged the fortress, this cavern was lost. Undead lurk nearby - but none actually occupy the wood farm.

It will be a daring effort. For a few moments, the fortress will completely exposed.

I order a couple urists of stone to be dug out...

...and Zon Nuttour, legendary grower and professional miner, takes up the job.

I watch carefully as Zon carves away the stone, revealing the passage beyond.

I pause the moment Zon finishes digging. He has taken up a job constructing rock blocks - ah, but Zon, there is much more pressing work to accomplish. I go into the jobs menu and cancel Zon's current assignment.

Then, I order a wall to be constructed at the end of the hallway, out of some stone lying around.

Zon is the nearest dwarf to the work site, and with no job, he is more than happy to take up the job.

I watch anxiously as Zon walks to the end of the hallway, picks up a chunk of stone, and begins placing it over the stairwell... when suddenly, a dwarven child rushes past him!

Oh, Avuz Finderspaints, you fool!

With nowhere left to run, Avuz dodges down a nearby mineshaft.

Meanwhile, another of the fortress' children begins a mysterious construction.

Curiously, the undead ignore little Avuz. The dwarven child flees down the dark, abandoned tunnels in silence.

The undead reach the stairway leading up into the new well - only to find that it has already been walled up.

Winter arrives on the calendar. Not that one could tell, here in these blighted depths.

With nothing else to occupy their attention, the undead soon begin seeking out foolish Avuz.

Avuz flees, and turns a corner. Suddenly, with the undead out of direct line-of-sight, the child assumes that she is safe, and turns back the way she came.

The result is neither pretty nor heartening.

The life of one child, I think, is a fair price to pay to reclaim a section of the fortress as vital as the wood farm. I order another wall to be constructed at the end of the hallway - just in case.

Then, barely able to contain my glee, I order all of the blood thorns to be cut down.

Of course, the fortress already has quite a bit of wood stockpiled.

I order up a few rounds of wooden bolts, so that stockpile space might be opened up for blood thorn logs.

Meanwhile, little Dodók finishes the artifact - it is, as expected, useless.

It is a pretty cup, to be sure, but it is as priceless as it is useless.

Soon, the woodcutters arrive at the muddy cavern, and begin hewing the tangled blood thorns with their axes. It is the first time in many, many years that I have called upon the woodcutters - this job might occupy them for a while, as their skills have grown rusty over years of disuse.

It occurs to me suddenly that the fortress doesn't have enough backpacks to equip the new marksdwarves. I order up a round of 20.

I decide that it is time to construct a training area for the ranged militia. I designate a large chamber, and mark a channel along its northern edge. Training marksdwarves can go through bolts like a mountain gnome through dwarven wine, and wood is precious in Roomcarnage. The channel will allow the dwarves to salvage a portion of the bolts used while training, those that miss their targets and pile up at the bottom of the pit.

I order the bottom of the channel to be connected directly to a large open space - an ammunition stockpile, connected to the training range by two corner staircases.

The miners take up the job immediately.

Within minutes, the designated area is run through with exploratory tunnels.

Work on the lower chamber occurs in parallel to the work above...

...and soon, the digging is complete.

For the sake of aesthetics, I order the ramps to be removed.

At the same time, I order a series of stone archery targets to be constructed along the edge of the pit.

A squad of amateur architects drag the andesite blocks into place and draw out designs...

...while the fortress' many novice masons erect the targets.

The range is nearly done - all it needs is a pair of doors...

...and the actual room designation. I orient the range from bottom to top, and assign the two new squads - the Perfect Attics and the Fenced Release - to train in the range.

And the finishing touch - an ammunition stockpile covering the entire lower floor. I remove the stockpile designation in the corners, allowing the stairs to remain visible.

I unpause - and within a minute, a dwarf arrives and begins firing blood thorn bolts at the center target. Many bolts miss their mark, bounce off the northern wall, and land in the ammunition stockpile below.

I check in on the woodcutters - their skills are rusty indeed, and were likely not very high to begin with.

I take a moment to admire the scene. A vast, warm cavern, heated by the lava lake directly above. Sickening groves of tangled, thorny fungi - that don't resemble mushrooms so much as gore - fill the cavern from muddy floor to hot obsidian ceiling.

Blood thorns, the only native life here in Roomcarnage. All those that reside here are foreigners - the kobolds, the dwarves, their pack animals, the titans and forgotten beasts. The foul fog was brought by the dwarves and kobolds - even the terrifying blizzards of frozen elf blood snow did not begin until the days after the dwarves first struck the ice. But before then, there was yet something in Roomcarnage that might be said to have been living.

Deep beneath the ice and stone, long before the Ice of Ghosts ever felt the tramp of boots or felt the bite of dwarven picks, blood thorns ruled the silent deep and grew in muddy solitude.

Of course, the blood thorns that the woodcrafters have been carving into training bolts have only been alive for a few years - they are not the ancient, strangely majestic growths that still grow in much of the deeper caverns.

Success! A few marksdwarves now train at the archery range. It seems to be working pretty well - I may need to enlarge this range.

A z-level below, I mass claim all of the bolts that have missed their targets. These bolts are now ready to use once more.

While scanning the fortress, I notice that a new ghost has arrived. It is Bomrek Twistgilt, a ghostly milker.

I cancel all of the boltcrafting jobs at the craftsdwarf's workshop, and enter the memorial engraving menu. I find the name of a ghost at the top of the list, but it is not Bomrek.

Oh well, I go ahead and order this ghost to be memorialized.

Then, I go down the list and see if I can find Bomrek's name manually. Aha! There it is - Bomrek Gimoltar. There, two ghosts down.

Soon afterwards, the mayor mandates the construction of certain goods.

Three flasks, eh?

Sure, I think we might need some more of those, anyway.

Suddenly, I notice a troubling notification at the bottom of the screen - a poltergeist!

It is Goden Blockedcrystal, a mere child. What horrible experiences Goden must have suffered before his death to consequently return as an energetic poltergeist, I cannot say - I can only say that I am honestly surprised that there are not more poltergeists in Roomcarnage.

I go to the memorial engraving menu - and breathe a sigh of relief. Goden's name appears right at the top of the list.

Shortly afterwards, a kobold ambush appears!

I pity the kobolds, but they are, in a way, kindred to the dwarves. They are the only other humanoid creature to send expeditions to Roomcarnage, year after year after year. None of their efforts have been successful - honestly, the dwarves have only done slightly better.

I unpause - and watch as the kobolds successfully stand their ground, for a time, loosing volley upon volley of bolts upon the nearby undead. A foul fog zombie, terrified, flees from the kobolds, but the mindless undead attack. The zombie escapes, and the kobolds put down every corpse that approaches them.

Suddenly, the situation takes a grim turn. Brave Flogoblaynkin Matchedwings strays too far into the foul fog, and instantly turns into a zombie.

I am prepared to watch as the foul fog zombie kobold guns down his former comrades with vile precision - but instead, Flogoblaynkin dives past the other kobolds and flees into the wilderness. Distraught, the rest of the squad slowly turns to flee as well - the last kobold stands his ground for a few seconds too long, and is pummeled to death by corpses.

Still, their mission is not a total failure. Kobold thieves manage to steal a cloak and a sock, both made of valuable giant cave spider silk - the kobold bowmen were a distraction, no doubt. For the kobolds, the mission may have been a heroic success - I have no way of knowing for sure.

Meanwhile, the memorial engravings have been completed. I order the three engraved slabs to be put into place in the memorial chamber, just outside the mayor's quarters.

Haulers drag the stones into place, and the exorcism - such as it is - begins. The game lags for a moment...

Ah, it's just the seasonal autosave.

Spring has arrived on the calendar.

Just as the year turns, another child is taken with a strange mood.

The child claims a craftsdwarf's workshop. Joy.

It is the 2nd of Granite, in the early spring of 1214. The dwarves have about eight months to formulate a new plan before the caravan arrives. There is no way that the fortress can become Mountainhome without successfully trading with the caravan - an offering to the monarch from the dwarves of the Momentous Dye must find its way back to the capitol, where the monarch will then be persuaded to make the journey to the new Mountainhome: Roomcarnage.

Will they succeed? Or will it be another year of crushing disappointment and useless artifacts? Tune in next time!