...continued from part one

Luck is with the dwarves of the Momentous Dye. That level is mined out completely, and so is the next, without any sign of devilry.

Perhaps it is my own devilry that I am finding in these nighted mines - a kind of self-destructive madness that urges me to dig out level after level, in the desperate hope that I might find the end of this blighted story just beyond the next boulder of ore.

The realization that I am seeking the fortress' end - even in this gloriously idiosyncratic fashion - leaves me feeling slightly ill.

No matter what Roomcarnage has faced before, it has never faced a willful intent on my part to sabotage. The guiding principle of this fortress has always been resistance, endurance - in the face of life-hating undead, mysterious ice spirits, forgotten beasts, tantrum spirals, loyalty cascades, and now, crippling ennui and idleness.

Layer upon layer of priceless ore is carved out, the miners driven further and further downward by the will of a cruel overseer that seems less brave and more suicidal.

I ignore my growing discomfort and order the dwarves to dig deeper, ever deeper into the earth. Part of me hopes that oblivion may be found just beyond the next pickstrike, but I feel a growing sentiment, borne out of an indelible sense of wrongness regarding this entire endeavor.

How far will I push these dwarves, seeking the death of the fortress, an end to this tale? Such an end, sought in the name of glory, seems sad now. Would I have demons flow up through tunnels packed with unused ore to slay dwarves whose fate I selected myself?

In the end, I cannot continue. My fiery will to end the fortress here and now sputters out, after nearly ordering the dwarves to delve through nearly ten z-levels of adamantine.

With a cold, shamed heart, I survey the mines. So much adamantine ore now lies in the deeps, ready for the dwarves to extract it. It will be made into valuable equipment - for what? So the dwarves can face their assisted suicide well-dressed? I try not to think about it - there are other tasks which may occupy my attention while I consider what will happen next.

With all this adamantine, I realize that something may be attempted - something absurdly and needlessly extravagant. As a stone, adamantine ore may be carved into gems - and gems may used to make gem windows. Yes! Adamantine windows! I remove a section of stockpile and replace it with a jeweler's workshop - and a stone stockpile.

The fortress has no skilled gem cutter - so I assign the job to Tun Noselance, long-time fortress manager.

Manager Tun will train on regular stone for a time - I'm fairly positive that the skill of a gem cutter has no effect on the quality of the gems, or their value, but something about having an unskilled jeweler putting their hands on adamantine just seems wrong to me.

A short time afterwards, another dwarf is taken by a mood.

There is nothing to be done - I begin the process of sealing away the moody planter.

I soon realize that there is a shortage of stone for practicing gemcutting - or, more accurately, there is a shortage of haulers to bring the necessary stone from the far-flung mines to the jeweler's workshop. I find a layer of gabbro, mark off a z-level, and designate a passage from the workshop's stockpile down to the marked area.

A lone miner gets to work more or less immediately.

Meanwhile, the adamantine stockpiles are brimming, every craftsdwarf's workshop contains a hard-working strand extractor, and the magma forges are churning out wafer upon wafer of priceless cyan metal.

Time passes, and yet another planter is taken by a mood. I am reminded again of the crushing, grinding nature of time, and how vital it is that the dwarves of the Momentous Dye make their grand move - whatever it is - before there are none of them left.

And yet, now as ever, there is little else to do except wait... or is there?

As I survey the heart of the fortress, I once again consider options for procuring that rare material - bone. It comes only from living creatures that are butchered - and ever since I had the dwarves slaughter every dog in the fortress, there has only been one other domesticated creature in Roomcarnage.

Cats. The fortress has four of them that are adults - looking through them, I see that at least one is listed as "gigantic."

I haven't had any luck with getting bone from cats before - the beasts are too small to reliably produce bone. Still, it's the best chance the dwarves have to prevent these moods from continuing.

I watch as the first two cats are slaughtered, leaving behind just skulls.

The others are butchered soon afterwards. Not one cat leaves any trace of bone, merely skulls.

What a shame. This dwarf will die in madness, alone, just like the others.

Eventually, the dwarves successfully work through the accumulated stores of adamantine - a king's fortune in any other fortress, but there will never be a king in Roomcarnage, and without a broker there is no way to estimate the true value of what has been mined.

Most of the adamantine ore has been processed - there are still nearly three hundred strands of adamantine still to be smelted into wafers. In the end, the dwarves will have well over four hundred wafers to do with as they choose.

After that, will it be back to what was before? A hopeless downward plunge, despair echoing in the deep with every strike of a pick? An end, undeserved, and yet earnestly sought?

I examine the hall - the three tile wide passage that I had the dwarves carve out, with the dark understanding that this tunnel was ultimately not for them, but for their final foes. Once again, I am struck with the incredible wrongness of it all - why should the dwarves of the Momentous Dye suddenly give up, just when they are beginning to face their grandest challenge? Is there glory in facing the forces of hell in open combat - or is it just suicide?

It is a heavy question, and although I do not have a clear answer, I no longer feel comfortable with simply digging deeper and hoping for the end. If the miners' picks do break through to the other side, I want there to be a safety. A block of stone, held up by a support, which at the pull of a lever will drop into place, blocking the passage leading to the western mines. I lay out the designations, and the miners get to work.

Once the space beneath the plug stone has been cleared, I order a support to be constructed underneath.

At the same time, I have a new lever placed in the dining hall.

Once the lever and the support are constructed, I attempt to link them together. A simple task, a combination of keystrokes I have made countless times - and yet, by chance or fate, I make a small mistake. On the linking menu, instead of a lowercase "s" for "support," I enter an uppercase "S," for "spears/spikes." Of course, there are no upright spears or spikes anywhere in Roomcarnage - so you can imagine my surprise when I am presented with the option to link the lever to an upright masterwork adamantine scimitar. In shock, I move the cursor - and the vision disappears, leaving me in darkness.

I reproduce the command, and sure enough - there it is, one hundred and fifty z-levels below the surface, far beyond any depth explored by mortals. There is only one thing that this could be. A shiver rolls down my spine and through my body - this entire time, it was here, lurking directly beneath the Oily Furnace. Since long before the first dwarves of the Momentous Dye first set out upon the Ice of Ghosts, the scimitar has stood beneath.

A spark of inspiration in the darkness - the dwarves cannot willfully bring destruction upon themselves now. Somehow, against all odds, a new purpose takes shape in the deep. True, no outside forces will learn of Roomcarnage's ultimate fate - but that is no reason not to shake the foundations of hell itself.

I return to the lever, and link it up with the support properly. Then I order the last few bits of stone to be removed from around it, leaving only the support to hold it up.

And now - a trap for demons. There are many methods for dealing with fiendish invaders - some reliable and thorough, some sloppy and dangerous. I decide to go for a nice middle ground - a falling rock trap that will obliterate any creature caught in its path, but may potentially leave some foes untouched, depending on where they stand. I scan the rock near the adamantine mines and select a narrow bit of tile as the trap footprint.

Then I extend the designation upward through all the intervening z-levels, from the magma sea to the glacier.

I connect the north end of the lowermost section of the trap to the adamantine mines.

Now, I must designate alternating up and down stairs so that the trap area resembles a switchback. I could do it by hand - but instead I decide to use macros. I record one chunk of the macro - with the designation menu open, a single up stair, moving up a level, a single down stair, moving up a level. I give the macro a clever name - but it's still not ready to be used.

The actual macro itself is full of unnecessary information besides the recorded keystrokes - I'm not entirely sure why this happens, but it's normal. By cleaning up the macro, removing the unnecessary bits, the command runs much faster in game.

I set up the cursor at the sound end of the trap footprint, and command the macro to run thirty times. It zips up the map, placing a perfect sequence of alternating up and down stairs.

I repeat the command at the north end of the trap footprint, offset by a single z-level - and voila! Switchbacks.

Now, to create the plug. Using the trap as an outline, I carefully designate channels that will produce a block of stone, one z-level thick and long enough to demolish the passageways beneath as it plunges downward.

I reconsider for a few moments, and then alter the designation so that the plug is not merely one z-level thick, but several. Why? So that when the plug smashes down into the magma sea, it is tall enough that it will also block off the trap passageway, preventing continuing demonic incursion. We'll see how effective it actually is, of course.

Finally, I connect the far end of the trap with the blood thorn grove. It's a long way to travel - I hope that the demons are able to find their way.

In the mid-spring of 1255, a rare event occurs - a dwarven child grows to adulthood.

Thob Helmedbands is a legendary wood crafter, but for the time being he identifies as a peasant.

Thob was born in the year 1243, twelve years ago. Thob has never known any life beyond the monotony of Roomcarnage - the fortress was abandoned by the mountainhome long before he was born. It is likely that he has never seen the sun - or tasted ocean sunfish, for that matter, and yet he prefers it.

It is as terrible a time as any to be living in Roomcarnage. I enlist Thob in the Worthy Seals, the squad led by militia commander Adil Claspedpalace. Hopefully Adil is able to whip Thob into shape before the end times.

Work continues on the demonslaying trap. As before, the miners tend to spend more of their time in combat training, so progress is slow.

Before the drop stone is completely carved out, I have support constructed underneath.

And after a time, it is nearly finished! The plug teeters atop a single support - forty-eight cubic urists poised to plummet fifty-five z-levels downward, crushing the switchbacks into dust before plunging into the magma sea.

All of the designation is done. Now, all the trap needs is a lever. For the honor, I select Drinkburials the legendary mechanisms.

Then - carefully - I order the legendary lever to be linked to the granite pillar.

As the dwarves link up the mechanisms, I notice a curiosity. At the map's northern edge, not far from a subterranean magma lake, there is a small pack of crundles and a reacher. Most notably, these creatures are still alive.

Most of the rest of the caverns are infested with undead - some portions could be described as swarming, if the monsters weren't just standing there idly most of the time.

I'm not sure if crundles produce bone - but reachers certainly do. If I could collect these wild creatures, they could be slaughtered - or, in the case of the crundles, tamed and bred. It's a dangerous possibility - but I'm willing to take the risk, if it means future moody dwarves might be saved.

After a small chamber is dug out beneath the death-free zone, I order a large number of cage traps to be built around the up stairs. I'll wait to have the down stairs carved out until after the traps are in place.

As efforts on the cage traps begin, I place the finishing touches on the demonslaying trap. To keep myself - and hopefully any rogue dwarves - from tampering with the levers, I forbid both of them.

And now that linking is complete, I order the last access tunnel closed off, and a bypass tunnel dug. Now the trap is truly complete.

In the early summer of 1255, another dwarf is taken by a strange mood.

My stomach twists as Datan claims a magma forge. If this mood is doomed to fail, will I tear down the smelters that have stood for five decades?

The cage traps are not yet loaded, and even if they were, it would take precious time to mine the staircases, wait for an animal to stumble into a trap, drag it back into the fortress, and butcher it for bone.

continued in part three...