...continued from part one

I quickly examine the announcements screen - but already, the job cancellations have bumped the notification of the child's demise off the list.

There is no indication in the combat reports that the child died violently.

There is only one other answer - the child must have perished in flame. I examine the magma channel, and sure enough, I find the lowest, furthest bit of corridor partially flooded with molten rock - all that remains of the dead child is a plume of black smoke. I suspect that the child and another dwarf must have passed each other just by the door next to the smoke and, seeking a faster route that didn't involve lying down to let the older dwarf pass, the child opened the door to move by.

I watch as the smoke disappates, leaving behind no trace of the child.

Oh well - back to work.

Now that the dwarves have secured a bit of the map's edge, they need a new trade depot to receive next year's caravan. I push away the unbidden thought that, maybe, there won't be a caravan next year, or ever again, and begin designating a passage that will lead from the fortress to the new trade depot.

First, I designate the point at which the passage will connect with the fortress - here, at the north end of the memorial hall. Then, I locate a pillar in the caverns above within which a stairwell can safely pass, and I connect that stairwell with the passage below and tidy up the edges.

Next, I designate the rest of the stairwell, including its upper landing.

Then, I designate the chamber that will house the trade depot. It is crude - a mere square hewn from the stone. Unattractive, unimaginative - but such ideals are second thoughts, here in Roomcarnage. Lastly, I designate the passage that will lead from the depot to the map's edge - although, I leave the final tiles undesignated. These will come later.

The miners get to work immediately.

Meanwhile, the inevitable has occured - little Cog Flareoil has gone mad.

The insane child immediately turns upon the cat that was imprisoned with her, painting the stone walls of her tomb red with blood.

Cog bites the cat on the right front leg and thrashes the poor animal. The end comes swiftly. Soon, the cat will rise again as an undead horror - and again, and again, until finally the insane child succumbs to fate and joins the ranks of the dead as well. It is inevitable.

I return my attention to the miners, who are hard at work carving out the long stairwell leading up ward to the trade depot.

Soon, they reach the upper landing, and begin excavating the depot chamber.

As the miners work, I experience a mixed sensation of apprehensive giddiness. The dwarves are closer than ever to their goal of successful trade with the mountainhome - but how can I be sure that a caravan will arrive next year, when this past autumn passed without their arrival? I can only hope that the liaison and the caravan perished before they could reach their destination, and that next year's expedition will be more successful.

Up on the plateau, the lava continues to drain, but seems to have reached its fullest extent.

I spot a siege engineer idling upon the surface, near the northern channel - apparently having opted to spend his leisure time out in the blizzard. Odd.

With the trade chamber excavated, I order a trade depot to be constructed. Around it, I designate a finished goods stockpile.

The miners continue to work, hewing through stone and ice to complete the passage to the surface.

Soon, it is done.

I notice that the dwarves were not 100% successful in securing this bit of the map - a tiny foul fog zombie duckling, portentously named Strikecanyon.

Strikecanyon is the final obstacle to the dwarves' efforts. I opt for a clean, impersonal solution - a crushing drawbridge.

The bridge will be connected to a lever, here in the memorial hall.

As the bridge and associated lever are constructed, the dwarves haul finished goods - toys, goblets, scepters, and so on - up to the stockpile surrounding the trade depot. These goods, useless to the dwarves of the Momentous Dye, have no other stockpile in the fortress - they will all be brought up here.

As the haulers work, I spot a notification - Cog Flareoil has bled to death.

Slain at the paws of the undead cat, of course. The final battle log is a cruel reversal - the cat bites Cog, latches on, and shakes the child around, tearing open arteries, flesh, and tendon.

The cat corpse has been dubiously named Lacysounded. Fascinating.

Meanwhile, efforts continue - the trade depot is completed as more and more finished goods are hauled in.

I realize that I will need some way of sealing off this passage, just in case - there is no anticipating the depth of horror that the Ice of Ghosts can wield. I designate the pits that will soon lay underneath drawbridges.

Work is interrupted momentarily by a message from the mayor...

...prohibiting the export of rings? I don't care - if the caravan comes next year, the dwarves will trade anything and everything they can, mandates be damned.

Speaking of trading - I modify the trade stockpile to include cut gems and glass, which can be quite valuable in their own right.

Likewise, I remove cut gems and glass from the previously existing gems stockpile.

As work continues, I realize that I should not have designated the bottom of the pits - they will be carved out using the ramps designation later on, after the bridges have been completed. I remove the current designation.

Suddenly, visitors! A kobold ambush. How charming.

It doesn't take long for the newcomers to succumb to the baleful influence of the foul fog.

They fight valiantly, but are of course doomed from the start. I wonder if the ambush is just a distraction - a treasure lies strewn upon the Ice of Ghosts, ripe for the taking. While the bold warriors stand their ground against the forces of the damned, a few kobold master thieves seize what valuables they can and escape.

Meanwhile, inside the fortress the dwarves have more treasure than they know what to do with. The trade goods stockpile is full to the brim.

More bins are needed.

To make sure that there is enough wood for thirty bins, I order all blood thorns in the fortress' tree farm to be hewn.

The channels I designated early have been dug out - I order the construction of two raising drawbridges, anchored on the center platform.

Then, I order the construction of a lever, which will control the bridges. While I'm in the area, I have doors placed in the north wall of the memorial hall - these can be locked in an emergency, buying the dwarves some time. Finally, I order the passage northward to be smoothed and polished, so it matches the rest of the halls.

The fortress' current workforce will struggle with this heavy influx of new jobs, I know. Perhaps against my better judgment, I relieve the Worthy Seals of their duties so that they can help complete the tasks at hand.

The recruits and their commander revert to civilian status and get to work.

Seconds later, only a few dwarves stand idle at a time. The great hall is filled with the sounds of children and dogs - all of the fortress' adults are hard at work.

Spring arrives on the calendar. It is the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of Roomcarnage and, I must admit, I did not expect this plucky little fortress to survive for this long. How much longer will the dwarves of the Momentous Dye endure? If my experiences beneath the Ice of Ghosts are any indicator, it is pointless to predict - all of the major calamities that have struck Roomcarnage have done so without warning, and to great effect. It is likely that, when the end comes, it will do so swiftly and unexpectedly.

The new year brings an omen of death with its coming.

I order the dog's body to be disposed of...

...and it is incinerated without incident.

Work on the new trade depot continues - I watch as the two inward-raising drawbridges are completed.

With the bridges in place, they can now be linked up to the lever in the memorial hall.

Also, the pits beneath the bridges can be completed. I designate the bottom of the pits using the ramps tool.

And what of the atom-smasher? I watch as the mayor herself, Urvad Teachanvil, hauls boulders of ice out of the construction site.

Rather than completing the construction, mayor Urvad decides to return to her quarters to rest.

She strolls through the trade depot on her way back to the fortress. Nearby, a dwarf is gathering up finished goods in one of the newly constructed blood thorn bins.

Soon, another dwarf arrives to complete the bridge. As well, a few other dwarves bearing precious gems arrive in the depot - now that dwarves have begun consolidating the trade goods in bins, more and more treasure can be brought up from the depths.

I watch as the bridge is constructed...

...and order it to be linked to the appropriate lever as soon as it is finished.

I designate the ramps at the bottom of the pits to be removed - a purely cosmetic measure, but it does look tidier.

As the dwarves continue to work, I am notified that the fortress has attracted no migrants this season. I cannot say I am surprised - but once again, I cannot help but wonder if Roomcarnage will ever again receive dwarven visitors.

Once the lever is finished, I order it to be pulled.

Up above, the bridge jerks up into a raised position, sending a garment flying.

It is a tattered pig tail fiber tunic, belonging to one of the fortress' children. To make sure that little Inod doesn't try to collect the tunic at an inopportune time, I forbid it.

Now - finally - it is time to take the final step. Only one obstacle lies between the dwarves of the Momentous Dye and the map's edge - a foul fog zombie duckling. If the duckling can be destroyed, the dwarves will have access to a nigh-pristine portion of the glacier, which can be safely traversed by traders. I must exhibit caution, however - in Roomcarnage, even the slightest errors can escalate to a massacre.

I order a single tile of ice to be carved away, hoping that the duckling will be lured into the opening.

The job is taken up by Vutok Grottopainted, a legendary miner who migrated to Roomcarnage in the mid-summer of the fortress' second year.

I follow Vutok as she makes the trek through the fortress - first, through the great halls of graven stone, of copper cages containing horrors of skin and hair, of levers and memorials. Soon, she reaches the stairwell and begins to climb.

Vutok reaches the trade depot and continues eastward, striding through the tidy stockpile - all of the fortress' trade goods now reside in five heavy bins, carefully lined up next to the depot. She ascends the passage, crosses beneath the deadly drawbridge, and puts her pick to the ice.

For a moment, Vutok the dwarf and Strikecanyon the duckling foul fog zombie stare at each other through the niche in the ice. Then, the undead advances, and Vutok flees back down the passageway. I watch as Strikecanyon draws closer and closer, and all seems to be going according to plan - until a damned child appears in the passageway!

I examine Litast Nourishedtrades' relationships screen - and, sure enough, his mother is none other than Vutok Grottopainted.

There is nothing to be done now, except to hope that Litast makes it out in time.

I order both levers to be pulled - one controlling the crushing drawbridge, the other controlling the inner sealing bridges.

Strikecanyon, as if welcoming its fate, suddenly stops and waits patiently underneath the drawbridge. I wait, as well - and wait, and wait...

What is going on? Neither bridge has been raised.

I examine the levers - the northern one, which controls the sealing bridges, has apparently been pulled, and the bridges will raise after a short delay. The southern lever, however, has yet to be pulled.

I find the active dwarf halfway up the stairwell to the north. Hopefully Ilral Copperslap reaches the lever in due time...

I follow Strikecanyon - slowly, the foul fog zombie duckling progresses down the corridor. For a few seconds, I fear that it will pass the bridge before it lowers...

...but no! The bridge snaps down upon the undead monster, wiping it from existence. There is nothing left - no tattered tunic, no foul fog zombie. Success!

It is the 28th of Granite, in the early spring of 1216. For the dwarves of the Momentous Dye, moments of triumph are few and far between, and all are tainted by the knowledge that all their efforts will eventually end in isolation, agony, and death - but they have learned to relish the victories as they come. This is indeed a victory for the dwarves - if, indeed, the dwarven caravan arrives next fall. If the Mountainhome has given up hope on Roomcarnage, then all will be for naught - but it is pointless to speculate. In a few months time, they will have their answer - all there is to do now is wait, and prepare.