...continued from part one

Bomrek retreats to the fortress, unaware of her sister's fate. I continue waiting.

I keep an eye on the surface, hoping to see something crawl or shamble towards the stairwell with a sense of purpose. But alas, it seems that the surface is too distant for the undead here to be drawn into the trap.

I return my gaze to the bridges - and am excited to see Solon Talkarrows striding into the trap!

Ha! I order the lever to be pulled...

...and Solon plunges to her fate.

I reset the bridges and look again for any movement.

As before, there is none.

I wait, and wait, and wait. But no more undead come.

Even little Erush's reanimated corpse does not wander into the trap. Disappointing.

I don't have the patience for a device like this. Roomcarnage cannot survive forever, and the burden of time weighs heavily upon every effort of the dwarves of the Momentous Dye.

With a heavy heart, I once again lock the doors to the trap. Another solution must be found.

Once more, I look out over the surface of the map, serenely observing the carnage and letting fresh ideas come to me. The retracting bridge trap has failed once more - it lies too deep beneath the ice for the undead to find their way onto the bridges. A new trap needs to be constructed, but this one must be much closer to the surface.

I'm struck with an idea - as with most others, I have no way of knowing whether or not it will work. I don't concern myself with such worries - the dwarves of the Momentous Dye cannot afford to idle while the forces of darkness continue to gather.

For this trap, though, I am going to need magma-safe pumps - and a secure source of molten rock.

Unfortunately, all of the fortress' magma-safe pump components are already in place - within the obsidian casing of the old weapon, which now lies within the abandoned portion of the fortress. I look over the weapon - and notice that the lower levels of the device are free of the taint of the undead.

Of course! Following the first attack of Simo Veiledsins, I locked all of the doors in the weapon's access passages. Many of these doors - along with several pumps - were destroyed by the forgotten beast, but the deepest levels remained untouched.

Some of these pumps can be reclaimed - deconstructed, then hauled piecemeal back into safe areas of the fortress. What is more, these levels of the weapon can be reduced to a one-by-one pump stack, as opposed to two-by-two - the weapon's magma source will also fuel this new trap. The area, of course, will need to be secured, and not just with stone doors.

It will be dangerous, of course - if Simo Veiledsins catches the scent of the dwarves wafting up through the dusty, bloodied shell of the weapon, all could be lost.

Then again, if these pumps are not reclaimed, I will have to send the dwarves looking for magma-safe raw materials, of which there are only two: sand and adamantine. To get sand, the dwarves would have to brave the nightmarish, undead and beast-infested caverns. To get adamantine... well, let's just say that the risks associated with that option make Simo Veiledsins look like a purring maggot in comparison. Not to mention securing a new magma source, which is no easy task.

No, this is the route that the dwarves will take.

The miners get to work quickly. I monitor their progress - once they reach the weapon, the dwarves will be working on borrowed time. There is no telling how quickly Simo will react to their presence.

Within a few minutes, the dwarves reach the weapon's lower access stairwell.

Once they break through the wall, I go down the pump stack and unlock the doors. Then, I go back up, and unlock a few more - but soon, I reach the portion of the weapon that is lost. Undead lurk upon pumps, doors are torn off hinges, and the stone walls and floors are painted with the blood of the fallen. That portion of the fortress is lost, forever.

Everything below that, though, can be salvaged. I order the pumps directly below the level containing undead to be deconstructed. Then, I order the eastern pump on each level below to be deconstructed.

It only takes a few minutes for the dwarves to arrive and pull the pumps apart, strewing valuable adamantine corkscrews and pipes all around the obsidian casing. Once the pumps on the top level have been deconstructed, I order the hole in the floor to be paved over. It is vitally important that all passages leading to the lower portion of what was once the weapon are sealed off. Simo Veiledsins entered the fortress through an isolated hole in a cavernous cliffside - I will settle for nothing less than an airtight seal.

Soon, haulers arrive and begin carrying off the adamantine trap components. Once the pipes and corkscrews have been safely stowed within the fortress' stockpiles, work can begin on refitting the reduced pumpstack - not to mention sealing the passage to the upper fortress with stone blocks.

Where is Simo Veiledsins at the moment, I wonder?

Ah, here it is. The incendiary coal beast lurks at the southern end of what was once a trap designed to melt the glacier above. I had hoped that such a trap would turn the surface of the ice into an undead-trapping pool - but alas, all it did was create an isolated reservoir covered with a thin crust of ice. Now, the remains of the device belong to Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors. At least Simo seems to have not noticed the dwarves' current activity. I cannot say how long its ignorance will last.

The lower pump stack is a little tidier, now. I order a single floor tile to be deconstructed.

Once it has been removed, I order a wall put in its place. It is a delicate process, one that cannot be rushed.

After the wall has been built, I quickly order the square next to it to be deconstructed. Soon, that is done as well, and another wall is put in its place.

Once the eastern stairwell has been walled off, I order the door next to it, which now opens upon an obsidian block wall, to be deconstructed.

As the dwarves work, summer arrives on the calendar. I do not know if their current effort will successfully secure the surface by the late autumn. All my prior efforts have failed - but nonetheless, just over five months remain before the caravan arrives.

Now that the lower pump stack has been safely sealed off from the upper fortress, the time has come to designate the rest of the trap that, I hope, will purge the surface of undead. I dig a long passage leading from the top of the pump stack to an area near the fortress' (current) main access stairwell - this will be the magma tube. I add an access passage, just so more than one miner can work on the tunnel at a time.

Meanwhile, the slow process of constructing the pump stack's new eastern wall begins. Each obsidian floor must be painstakingly removed...

...and replaced with a wall - bearing in mind the entire time that the entire project is taking place within the caldera of the volcano itself.

When the magma pipe is carved out, I set another task out for the miners of the fortress - the upper portion of a fortified gauntlet. I designate the southern fortification, then a footprint of the central corridor, and finally the northern fortification. Then, I connect the two fortified corridors with an overhead passage.

Then, I replace the central rectangle with ramp designations a level below.

I connect the western end of the ramp designation to one of the previously excavated tunnels, which can be disconnected from the inner fortress by raising bridges.

Next, I designate another bridge trap, smaller than the old one, that will serve as a failsafe, in case any undead manages to make it past the gauntlet. The northern and southern ends of the bridge trap connect to the gauntlet and the main access stairwell, respectively.

Finally, I designate the tunnel that will house another series of adamantine pumps.

And the finishing touch - the access tunnels that will allow the dwarves to reach the pumps when it is time to activate them.

The miners arrive...

...and once more, the picks of the Momentous Dye chip away at the haunted Ice of Ghosts.

As the ramp area is carved out, the ice from above falls into the stone reservoir below and melts into water.

I make sure to remove all of the ramps left behind by the digging.

It only takes the legendary miners of the Momentous Dye a few minutes to carry out my orders.

I am able to move on to other phases of construction with little delay. New adamantine pumps are put into place...

...the gauntlet's ice walls are ordered to be smoothed...

...and new channeling designations are placed in the floor.

I suppose it is one of Roomcarnage's advantages - that an isolated fortress, dedicated to preserving the lives of each and every one of its inhabitants (except for those who have recently arrived), will eventually develop a swift and skilled work force.

As before, I order the ramps to be removed - additionally, I order the underside of the central causeway to be carved out. Everything is progressing as planned...

...but wait a second. If I pump magma up into the gauntlet at this level, it will melt the ice a level above - creating a nightmare of ice and steam that would surely consume the marksdwarves standing there. Some adjustments to the design will have to be made -

I don't have any time to come up with a solution before Roomcarnage's greatest enemy - death - comes creeping out of dark tunnels.

A shambling corpse, still warm, lurks in a gore-splattered bedroom.

There's no combat log - such records don't last long in violence-filled Roomcarnage - but the dwarves have already determined that poor Ïteb Oddomsazir was murdered. I also notice that Ïteb was held responsible for a violation of one of mayor Urvad's production orders. It is possible that Ïteb was sentenced to a beating, and paid for the crime with his life.

I examine the thoughts and preferences of the swordsdwarf Îton Gravelsling, whose current tantrum is damnably timed with the miner's death and subsequent reanimation. Îton's recent thoughts are a dark mine, rich with gems of horror and pain.

It is normal for any dwarf of Roomcarnage to be haunted by the dead, but few have witnessed death recently, or been attacked by the dead. Was Îton's current tantrum sparked by being attacked by the miner's corpse?

Even if that were the case, other thoughts implicate Îton in Ïteb's death. The swordsdwarf took joy in the slaughter recently, and administered the beating in the name of Urvad Teachanvil, mayor of Roomcarnage. The death she witnessed was brought about by her own infliction of dwarven justice.

Small wonder, then, that Îton Gravelsling now fumes and broods in the middle of the dining hall, ready to unleash her desperate, misery-fueled anger upon the dwarves around her.

Once again, Roomcarnage teeters on the precipice of madness, death, and oblivion.

It is the 26th of Malachite, in the mid-summer of 1214. All it takes is a well-placed murder to bring a large fortress to ruin - a murder triggering a chain reaction of emotional agony and blindly inflicted violence. The caravan will arrive in the late autumn, just over three months away - will the dwarves of the Momentous Dye still be alive to see the merchants torn apart by undead? Tune in next time!