...continued from part one

Spring arrives. The new year often brings death with it, in the form of old age, usually among the dogs. I designate all the corpses to be dumped, and hope for the best...

...but invariably, there are casualties. I find the mutilated corpse of Sigun Shootown lying in a pool of blood, deep within the older eastern dormitories.

In these tight spaces, the danger posed by the undead is even greater. Haulers trip over each other trying to get at the body parts before they reanimate, while warriors cannot dodge or evade blows without throwing themselves against the walls. I decide to try and overpower the enemy, and send four of the on-duty squads to secure the area.

A lone axedwarf faces down the dog corpse. There is a quick battle...

...very quick.

Roomcarnage is fortunate to have such skilled, and well-armed soldiers. I order the body parts to be dumped.

Now, all that remains is for the haulers to arrive. I watch as the militia streams in, ready to strike down any undead that rise up... but wait! One of the axedwarves is carrying a corpse!

It's Kogan Oilisland, captain of the Tin Diversions! Kogan must have been in the middle of hauling one of the other dog corpses when her squad was activated. I cancel the orders for the Tin Diversions, hoping that Kogan will return to her prior work. Instead, when Kogan and her squad revert to civilian status, she simply drops the corpse on the floor of the passage, not far from the other dog corpse.

Before the haulers can get at the dead, the mutilated corpse of Sigun Shootown rises from the dead and attacks a nearby stonecrafter. The undead is slain - but not before it bites the neck of a nearby stonecrafter, whipping its prey around like a cave crocodile.

I order all the new body parts to be dumped, and pray that the situation doesn't spiral further out of control.

Of course, my prayers go unheeded. Another dog corpse somehow arises in the food stockpile, challenged only by pair of green recruits.

One of the recruits puts up an honorable fight - but cannot deal enough damage to the undead monster before bleeding out from their wounds.

Luckly, a hammerdwarf arrives before the dog corpse can slay another dwarf. During the battle, the other recruit grows skilled enough to become a swordsdwarf. Congratulations, Ast! You've been promoted.

The situation is growing grim. Two corpses in the dining hall, and half a dozen more strewn about the dormitory hallway.

What the fortress needs is more complete military coverage. Rather than placing all three active squads in the dormitory, I space them out. I station the Rapidity of Ink in the lower food stockpiles, near the incineration pit, while the Worthy Seals is stationed in the upper food stockpiles.

The warriors stream out of the dormitory and into the rest of the fortress, stationing themselves along the route that haulers will take on their way to the incineration shaft. The Everlasting Wires remain, watching over the bloodied halls.

I wait and watch anxiously as, one by one, the unmoving body parts are tossed into the shaft.

At any moment, I know, one of these corpses could be taken by the Ice of Ghosts, and turned against the rest of the fortress. It is one of the dark lessons of Roomcarnage - that here, in this accursed fortress, all flesh is a potential threat. Each dwarf is a bloodthirsty monster wrapped up in a temporary shroud of vitality. For the dwarves of the Momentous Dye, the most merciful end is to be engulfed in magma, never leaving a physical remnant to be possessed by the Ice.

Time passes, with no sign of more undead. The threat has been temporarily averted. I cancel the militia's orders and allow the fortress to return to its regular grind.

Unfortunately, not all is well. The recent conflict has caused a bit of emotional upset, mostly among the warriors who were fighting undead monsters bathed in the blood of their kin.

Towards the end of the first month of the year, one of the new recruits throws a tantrum, and punches a miner across the face.

There are many witnesses.

The recruit, Rovod Brasswatches, is miserable.

I can understand why. In addition to being recently drafted and the subsequent patrol duties, one of the dwarves who was recently slain was a sibling of Rovod's. It's possible that the recruit even witnessed the slaying with his own eyes. It is a pity - but I have little sympathy. Rovod was born in Roomcarnage - this hell is all he has ever known. I would have expected him to have grown a little more accustomed by now to the realities of life - and death - beneath the Ice of Ghosts.

Rovod is not the only dwarf who is not doing well. His father, Sodel Climaxbooks, has gone entirely insane.

In some ways, Rovod's father's insanity is a small blessing. Rather than throwing these long tantrums, that could overflow into a brawl at any time, Sodel's madness renders him harmless, until he is dead.

I feel compelled to watch Rovod Brasswatches, as he throws tantrum after tantrum. At any moment, he may choose to throw a well-placed punch, or hurl an obsidian pot filled with dwarven rum at another dwarf's head.

The months wear on. Rovod's father, Sodel Climaxbooks, dies of thirst - somehow without me noticing. I realize he has died when his shambling corpse appears in the stairwell outside the armory.

Fortunately, the armory is filled with recruits who are gathering equipment, preparing for active duty. Sodel's corpse chases after a nearby child, into the archery range to the north, untrained recruits hot on its heels.

For a moment, it seems as if Sodel's corpse might reach the child - but the recruits prove themselves, slaying the undead handily and cleanly.

At that moment, a planter completes a new artifact - an obsidian coffin named the Intensity of Amazements.

The coffin is nice, but almost useless here in Roomcarnage. No corpses are interred within these haunted halls, and the fortress will never become a barony, or mountainhome. No nobles will ever demand a burial tomb as part of their holdings. Its only use is as a display piece - a dark meditation upon that which is deprived of all those who dwell in Roomcarnage.

The undead is slain - I order the dismembered corpse to be dumped.

Fortunately - this time - the corpse is disposed of without incident.

Meanwhile, in the dining hall, Rovod Brasswatches continues to simmer with fury. His tantrum can result in only two outcomes. One, he successfully handles the grief of losing a sibling and father, and calms down - hardened, colder, perhaps a little worse for wear, but a valuable asset to the fortress.

Two, his rage consumes him. Following a series of brawls and fistfights, Rovod goes berserk - insane and blind with anger, he attempts to murder the nearest dwarf.

There's no telling at this point which way he will go. I take a small solace in the fact that the entire fortress - children excluded - is now enlisted in the military.

As Rovod fumes, a new ghost rises to haunt the fortress.

This is no ordinary ghost. It is the restless spirit of Îton Gravelsling the Conflagration of Swaying, slayer of Stukos Stakeequal - one of the betrayers who turned upon the fortress during the early winter of 1214. I hestitate - normally I would immediately memorialize any new ghost, but for some reason I feel compelled to keep Îton around. The spirit is basically harmless, anyway.

Summer arrives.

Rovod's tantrums continue. I follow the unhappy stonecrafter around the fortress, trying to watch the incoming announcements for anything disturbing. I notice an interruption of a job due to a cat head skin - that sounds like something that the cage traps around the butcheries will handle. Otherwise, I notice nothing.

Suddenly, my announcement feed becomes entirely unreliable - a series of constant alerts flood the feed, informing me of a pair of corpses that are being caught in a cloud of flames.

The corpses are in the pool of magma in the caverns outside the forge, alongside a fire imp who must be the cause of the flame bursts.

The alerts are constant and unceasing. This is no way to run a fortress. Still, I hope that eventually the imp will leave.

Summer passes into autumn...

...and into winter...

...and into spring. Still, after more than half a year, the alerts plague my announcement screen. It will need to be dealt with - but for now, there are no fewer than five dead dogs that need to be incinerated. But how? I can only zoom to the location of two of the dog corpses.

I seek a solution in the stocks screen. I scroll down to the corpses tab and identify the five fresh dog corpses. I designate them to be dumped - and notice a sixth corpse, belonging to one Dakost Vúshmelbil. Odd - I didn't receive a notification.

I find the corpse of Dakost Vúshmelbil in the statuary east of the dining hall - one of Roomcarnage's few cats. It is likely that Dakost migrated to the fortress along with one of the many migrant families in the fortress' earliest years. I hope the little beast enjoyed its stay here, and order its body to be dumped.

I reexamine the militia's training schedules. With six corpses to be dumped, there is a high possibility for something to go wrong. I'd rather not have a repeat of anything similar to last year.

It is likely that some of the dwarves on Training Schedule B are still training, so I ought to activate the lower squads, right? Or - should I expect many of those dwarves to go off-duty, and thus activate those dwarves who are about to begin training?

I take a guess, and activate those squads who are Training Schedule A - the Worthy Seals, the Rapidity of Ink, the Everlasting Wires, the Tin Diversion, and the Labyrinthine Paints. I station each squad next to one of the recently perished animals, or along the main thoroughfares leading to the dump site.

Then I unpause, and watch.

In the lower food stockpile, not far from the incineration shaft, the first undead rises from the unliving flesh.

Within moments, two recruits are dead.

The dog corpse slew both of the freshly recruited soldiers by tearing off one of their limbs - an arm of one, a hand of the other. Both bled out from their wounds.

The dwarves have named the unholy beast Faithheated. This situation could go very, very poorly - after designating the slain to be dumped, I order the Worthy Seals to report to the area. But... where is the hand? One of the recruits' left hand was torn off, but I fail to find it anywhere amid the pots and barrels.

I find the dismembered hands still clutched in the jaw of the dog corpse Faithheated. I order it to be dumped - when the undead finally drops it, a hauler will take care of it. Hopefully.

continued in part three...