...continued from part one

Eventually he departs from dwarven company and climbs the stairs up to the new construction site. With no other work being done up here, these tunnels are empty. Nobody will witness Litast's final moments.

The brewer reaches the designation, and carves away the stone with surprising ease.

The time has come. I place a channel designation - the second of two.

I take one last look at Litast Helmbrightness.

Then, the brewer carves away at the obsidian. Magma rushes in, quickly rising up above his head.

Against my better judgment, I take another last look at Litast Helmbrightness. It is horrible - but precisly what I've come to expect of Dwarf Fortress. At least he will be one with the magma in the end, and will never rise again as an undead. In time, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye may come to regard Litast's fate as merciful.

A few more seconds pass, and nothing remains of Litast Helmbrightness except for a rapidly dispersing pool of molten copper.

Soon afterwards, the moody child begins their construction. I don't hold my breath.

Just to make sure that the job is covered, I enable the brewing labor on two peasants.

I try not to dwell to hard upon what I've just done, and instead move on to the next phase of construction - placing doors in all of the connection points between the magma tunnel and the access passage.

Work continues, and a rumor begins to go around concerning the mysterious disappearance of Obok Workerringed the Order of Skies. It is unlikely that his fate will ever be determined.

The time has come to extend the construction outside, to the surface of the northeastern plateau. I order the bit of rock at the end of the corridor to be carved away.

Meanwhile, a priceless, useless artifact is created - Rakedumbral the Whiskered Teacher, an andesite figuring of Atír Strappingsyrups.

Atír Strappingsyrups, it seems, was coronated as king of the Playful Spattered Walls in the year 337. Ancient history for most, but apparently fresh in the mind of this moody child.

The artifact is of no concern - I have other issues to deal with.

Another child has died of thirst - I order their corpse to be dumped.

I wait for some time, keeping a keen eye on the unmoving body. At any moment, I know, it could clamber to its feet and attack the nearest dwarf - all I can do is wait for a hauler to arrive.

As I wait, an announcement appears. Apparently Litast Helmbrightness has been missing for a week - my heart sinks. Poor Litast truly did die alone.

To my relief, the child's body does not reanimate, and finally a hauler arrives. The corpse is carried away and dumped into the magma sea.

Soon afterwards, a ghostly potash maker rises to haunt the fortress.

It is Mörul Questedpulleys, the latest in a long line of spectral undead. Conventional burial is impossible in Roomcarnage - ghosts have just become another part of life here.

Fortunately for the dwarves, Mörul's name appears right at the top of the engraving list, where it belongs. In order to create the engraving job, I have to clear the queue of orders for wooden bolts.

All of the fortress' marksdwarves are dead. The fortress has no more need of wooden bolts, or more flasks.

I turn my attention to the northeastern plateau. I order a pair of doors to be placed just outside the tunnel - this will allow the dwarves to more easily access the construction site once things get underway. Beyond the doors, I lay out the plans for the first stretch of walls.

The winter's blow to the fortress' workforce can be keenly felt - but still, the dwarves who remain work diligently to complete the tasks I have laid out for them.

Once a few of the walls have been built, I order two more doors to be placed. These doors will eventually be linked to levers, which will allow for precise control over the flow of magma.

Before construction really gets underway, Edëm Wallspray succumbs to fate and dies of thirst.

I find Edëm's corpse in the southern statuary - one of the oldest parts of the fortress, and about as far from the current trash dump as one can get in Roomcarnage. As with all the others, I order the child's corpse to be dumped.

A second later, evil blossoms within Edëm Wallspray's unliving flesh, and the scourge struggles to its feet.

I had hoped that the newly reinforced militia would have more time to train, but they are needed now. I order the green, untested recruits, led by commander Adil Claspedpalace, to slay the undead monster.

It will take some time for the warriors of Roomcarnage to reach the graven statuary. In the meantime, the undead is confronted by the fortress' first line of defense - a pack of stray dogs.

Sometimes all it takes is a few claws or bites to take down a reanimated corpse - but the dehydrated remnant of Edëm Wallspray cruelly fights back against the pack.

The nearby dwarves panic and try to flee, darting back and forth across the engraved floor. Several run for the southern passage - a dead-end, but at least it's out of harms immediate way. Statues and engravings alike are painted red with blood. WIth a brutal kick, Edëm's corpse crushes one dog's skull - a second later, the malign will of the Ice of Ghosts reanimates that flesh as well.

The battle rages - the dogs pile upon the undead, latching on with their powerful jaws and dragging their foe to the ground. It's no use - Edëm continues to fight back.

Now there are two undead waiting for the militia. A group of unskilled recruits could handle a single animate corpse, I'm sure - but I have my doubts about their ability to overcome two.

Finally the militia arrives - and not a moment to soon. By the time they reach the bloodspattered statuary, several of the dogs have sustained injuries. As the recruits wade into the fray, waving their copper weapons with the skill of a child, another dog is struck down by its reanimated brother.

As the battle is joined, spring arrives on the calendar. It is now the 1st of Granite in the new year of 1215. Fourteen years ago, in the shadow of the haunted glacier volcano known as the Oily Furnace, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye founded Roomcarnage - an affront to all nature and reason.

As the year turns, another dog dies - this time, of old age. Right from the start, 1215 is looking to be a pretty grim year, even by Roomcarnage's standards.

I go to the site of the most recent death - the dog perished in the access corridor of the new construction site. I order the corpse to be dumped.

I can't help but feel anxious about having four corpses in the fortress - two of which have already reanimated - but there's not much else that can be done at this point. The militia has arrived, and will do what they can to suppress the undead.

The recruits lay into Edëm Wallspray's corpse with their swords and axes, clumsily hacking at the shuddering corpse.

Eventually their attacks succeed, however, and the corpse collapses to the floor in a pile of gore.

The dog corpse, too, is put down.

Using the cursor, I wade through the carnage and locate the bodies of the child and the two dogs. I order them to be dumped.

Then, I station the militia in the statuary. With three corpses waiting to be hauled away, there is a good chance that one of them will reanimate before it can be incinerated.

The Worthy Seals occupy the statuary, standing over the bloody bodies and the wounded dogs, ready to cut down their foes before they can rise from the floor. As they wait, another dog succumbs to its wounds and suffocates.

I order the dog corpse to be dumped - now there are no fewer than five potential undead within Roomcarnage.

I watch and wait, my stomach knotted with anxiety. Five corpses lay strewn about the fortress - four in the statuary and one up near the surface. I have no illusions about what would happen if more than two or three of them were to reanimate all at once.

Soon enough, one of the dog corpses shudders and begins to move. Not a single hauler has yet arrived.

That is probably because the entire fortress workforce is already consumed with the construction on the surface. I place a hold on the walls and doors on the plateau - they can wait. The corpses cannot.

The militia quickly defeats the newly-risen undead...

...but not before the dog zombie can savage a nearby dwarven child. By the time the undead has been struck down, the child's left wrist has been shattered and their left foot has been torn off.

The waiting continues. A dwarf arrives to haul the injured child off to the hospital - but no haulers for the corpses arrive.

I realize I forgot to mark the dog corpse to be dumped after it reanimated - I go ahead and mark the child's foot to be dumped as well.

Fortunately, the body of the dog that had died of old age has been hauled out of the construction site. I watch with satisfaction as it is tossed into the incineration shaft.

With no other tasks to be done, the rest of the corpses soon follow.

The body of Edëm Wallspray is soon brought and tossed into the shaft...

...followed by one of the dog corpses, and the foot it separated from its hapless victim.

The manager himself dumps one of the other dog corpses.

Before too much longer, the last dog corpse is tossed into the magma sea. I breathe a sigh of relief.

I do one last check of the statuary to make sure that I haven't missed anything, and find nothing but blood. The crisis has been averted, it seems - I relieve the Worthy Seals of duty, allowing them to return to the dining hall to the north.

I recall that I had ordered a slab to be engraved - a memorial for the potash maker, Mörul Questedpulleys. I now order that slab to be built in the memorial hall, just outside the mayor's quarters.

Also, I unsuspend all of the jobs on the northeastern plateau - construction can now continue in earnest.

As a peasant installs the slab in the memorial hall, I look about the great halls to the west. The only adults present are militiadwarves - all of the others are children. I take small comfort in the knowledge that, if Roomcarnage manages to last for more than a few more years, these children will grow into a talented and misery-hardened workforce. It is a small comfort because I honestly don't expect the fortress to last long enough for most of these children to come of age.

With most of the preliminary construction complete, it's time to lay the foundations for the rest of the structure. I order the construction of two pairs of parallel walls, one to the north and one to the south, as close to the edge of the plateau as I dare allow the dwarves to tread.

As the dwarves begin work on the outer extremities of the construction, I keep a keen eye on their progress. I have come to instinctively distrust the Ice of Ghosts and the outside of the fortress in general. There is no telling when the forces of evil will strike.

And yet, the fan-shaped plateau seems relatively calm. Compared to the undead-ridden glacier below, this expanse of frozen elf blood and obsidian is quite peaceful.

As construction progresses, I order two levers to be built in the great hall, near the base of the stairwell that leads to the northeastern plateau.

Soon, the four parallel walls are complete. Next, I order the curtain wall further from the tunnel to be built.

With so few adult workers left in the fortress, construction takes a much longer time than what I am used to.

I watch as the dwarves, one by one, arrive at the plateau, lay their bricks in place, and return to the safety and warmth of the fortress.

There is no rushing the process. All the while, I keep a vigilant eye on the plateau, ready to respond the moment the undead strike...

...but construction continues peacefully. It is a jarring difference from the nightmarish chaos that has broken out upon the Ice of Ghosts as of late.

"The fortress has attracted no migrants this season." Perhaps a few of those merchants from last autumn managed to escape back to the Mountainhome to tell the tale of their encounter at Roomcarnage, the fortress of the damned.

With the levers built, I order them to be linked to the doors on the surface of the plateau. This way, I can direct the flow of lava between the north and south channels with ease.

I watch as the last few bricks of the further wall are laid in place.

Now, I order the construction of the nearer wall. Finally, the forms of the finished channels are made clear.

Two amateur mechanics are already busy linking the levers to the doors by the time the other dwarves arrive with bricks in hand.

As before, there is no way to speed things along.

I can only watch as the the dwarves work diligently, week after week, completing each length of the wall in turn.

All the while, I watch their progress - constantly fearing the sudden appearance of a life-hating zombie, or an outbreak of foul fog.

But nothing of the sort happens, and soon the construction nears completion.

Finally, the last section of wall is erected, and the channels are complete.

Perhaps foolishly, I decide to take a risk - I order the further wall to be extended a little further towards the edge of the plateau. It is a gamble - what if something that can find its way up onto the plateau spots a dwarf? However, I am willing to brave that eventuality, if this device might be made a little more precise - it would be a disaster if, after all this effort, I covered with lava the very area I was trying to secure.

As the final phase of construction commences, a distressing announcement appears - another child has died of thirst. This is strange - I had thought that all the melancholy dwarves had died already.

I find the child's corpse in the hospital. Ah, I think - this must be the child who was attacked by the zombie dog near the old statuary. What a tragedy.

Then, I look at the child lying in bed - a child without a left foot, and with a broken left hand. THIS, then, must be the child that was attacked by the zombie dog - who, then, was this other child?

I cannot say. Soon, though, both will be dead.

A peasant arrives and collects the child's corpse.

Then, it is unceremoniously dumped into the shaft. I follow the corpse as it plummets through the steamy void and into the roiling magma sea. In a flash, it is incinerated - but something nearby catches my eye.

A vein of raw adamantine, already partially excavated. At one time, the miners toiled here - now, however, this lode is lost. The tunnels that lead to its depths are occupied by undead - the remains of those slain by Simo Veiledsins the Obscure Terrors.

How bold the Momentous Dye was in its younger years, when the miners delved deep into the earth, risking all souls in Roomcarnage with each swing of their pick. And yet, it paid off - a wealth of mythical metal was forged into corkscrews and pipes, which were used to pump colossal amounts of molten rock up onto the surface of the glacier.

The fortress now only has a few of those adamantine machine components. Most still remain within the old weapon, but are inaccessible, thanks to the dust-spewing forgotten beast that now calls the abandoned upper fortress its lair. Recently, several components were salvaged from the weapon and rebuilt elsewhere, to pump magma up into the gauntlet - but now those components have been lost as well.

Using the components available, the dwarves can only build three pumps. Two more will be needed to complete the current construction.

I look around the magma sea - and locate an untapped vein of adamantine.

The time has come again for the miners to delve deep into the earth. I designate a long passage, leading from the adamantine lode up to the forges, where the ore will be processed - assuming, of course, that the miners' picks don't awaken anything in the deeps.

Once again, it is legendary miner and fortress founder Kadol Worklimb who takes up the job. The forges echo with the sound of pick against stone, a reverberating staccato that fades into a cold, blanketing silence as the miner delves deeper and deeper into the earth.

It is the 19th of Felsite, in the late spring of 1215. In just six months, the caravan will arrive - or maybe they won't. Caravans have no reason to call upon fortresses that have already crumbled, and a lot can happen in six months. Even if the dwarves of the Momentous Dye do persist until then, I cannot say if they will be prepared to receive the merchants. That is the goal, however - and, as ever, in spite of constant setbacks, disasters, and tragedies, the brave and foolhardy dwarves press ever onward along their path towards glory.