...continued from part one

The battle moves down and up the stairwell, at times pushing the dog down into the shallow pool of magma, where it seems like the wraiths have the advantage. Floundering in the molten rock, the dog corpse can barely fight back.

Eventually the tides turn again, though, and the blazing, rotten dog corpse seems poised to defeat all of the wraiths...

...except for the five still waiting in the hallway - perhaps they sense the fate of their counterparts beyond the wall.

The gaseous body parts of the slain demons eventually condense into water, which collects on the stairwell. The water is in turn boiled back into a mundane cloud of steam by the corpsefire, the magma trickling down the stairwell, or both. In the end, nothing will remain of these Wraiths of Steam.

The battle progresses, the wraiths seemingly gaining the upper hand briefly, even as they are engulfed in the vapor of their comrade's boiling remains.

In the end, though, there is little the demons can do in the face of such a relentlessly corporeal opponent. The undead beast carves away at the wraiths, bit by bit.

It is only a matter of time before these demons are completely destroyed.

One of the little joys of Dwarf Fortress - finding such objects as "Wraith of Steam head steam."

The remaining wraith opposing the dog is subsequently slain.

However, no sooner has the dog corpse defeated the first five Wraiths of Steam than the remaining five slip through the block wall and drive up the corridor.

It is at about this time that I notice the ghost of Onget Netholds drifting forlornly about the hallway, south of where his corpse fought the wraiths. Onget must have perished in these halls, and perhaps was even slain by Simo Veiledsins itself.

I find myself growing impatient with these dilute fiends - if a mere reanimated corpse can bring many Wraiths of Steam into a stalemate, they will be no match for Roomcarnage's finest. I order a passage to be dug, reconnecting the deepest part of the fortress with the hallways beyond. As well - just in case it takes the miners longer than usual to complete the passageway - I order the Worthy Seals into the tunnels beyond, even though they may have to traverse the length of the stone-fall trap to get there.

I check back in on the remaining wraiths - one of them has reached the old barracks, where a number of dwarf corpses have resided for decades.

As I watch, the undead blast the demon to pieces.

It is at about this time that the fortress runs out of adamantine. I had thought that the wave of demons might force the dwarves to abandon the glittering mines of the mythical ore, but perhaps that is no longer the case.

The militia commander rushes through the pile of switchbacks that form the stone-fall trap, eager to slay the remaining demons.

Two demons move down the corridor towards the trap, perhaps to meet the militia commander in combat - but apparently change their minds, and turn back the way they came.

With the combat reports being wiped almost as quickly as they are created, it is difficult at times to tell what exactly is going on.

I check the stairwell, and find two of the remaining wraiths lurking among wraith remains.

Four others remain in the passage to the south of the block wall. Perhaps I miscounted the number of remaining wraiths?

No matter. The militia commander has passed beyond the stone-fall trap, a few legendary warriors close behind.

The time for direct confrontation is here. I order the Worthy Seals into the passage with the demons.

Commander Adil Claspedpalace clashes with the first Wraith of Steam - the demon charges, surprising the dwarf and forcing her onto the defensive. Adil blocks nearly every blow, and the only attacks that do land glance harmlessly off of the commander's armor.

As Adil defends against the steamy onslaught, the axe lord îton Bookthin rushes in and scratches the demon's hand off. The pair follow up with a devastatingly coordinated attack to the demon's upper body with their masterfully crafted adamantine battle axes.

The Worthy Seals are the most heavily armed and armored dwarves in all of Roomcarnage, and commander Adil is the most richly armed and armored of the Worthy Seals. While lord îton's garishly contrasted equipment - a combination of copper plate boots, gauntlets, greaves, and shield with adamantine helm, breastplate, and battle axe - is certainly excellent, it pales in comparison to the fortress champion. Adil Claspedpalace is bedecked with artifacts, many of which are woven of adamantine cloth. It constitutes nearly a full set of adamantine clothing worn below - or above, I can't be sure - her armor, all of which is largely artifact quality.

It is a pity. I was hoping that commander Adil would be facing a more challenging set of enemies. I take a moment to observe a Wraith of Steam that has just found its way into the old barracks, and consider what actions the dwarves will take once these few demons have been destroyed.

Within a minute, the demon succumbs to the undead dwarves and explodes in a harmless burst of steam.

The rest of the squad soon arrives in the deep tunnels - the rest of the Worthy Seals are clad similarly to îton Bookthin, in a varying combination of copper and adamantine. Also, I remind myself that not all of these warriors are experts - poor Thob Helmedbands, a recently recruited woodcrafter, is probably wondering how he ended up in this situation.

Just two wraiths remain in the tunnel - I order the Worthy Seals into battle.

An axe lord is the first to reach the demons - their attacks glance off copper armor while the dwarf breaks away half of a wraith's upper body with a single pommel strike.

There is a desperate, claustrophobic melee for several seconds - and then two puffs of steam in quick succession mark the end of the Wraiths of Steam, and the entire demonic invasion.

As expected, the Wraiths of Steam were no match for the Worthy Seals.

I wonder if the rest of the demons in the underworld are this much of a pushover.

I intend to find out. Hell is dangerous, and an advance guard will be necessary at all times. I select the Faith of Binding, an artifact dog bone weapon rack, and have it placed in the room with the statue, which lays at the southern end of the long tunnel leading to the heart of Roomcarnage.

I also place one of the fortress' artifact doors along the passage - just in case of emergency.

I order the Worthy Seals further into the depths, into the adamantine mine, not far from where the miner breached the screaming hollow.

And with that, work continues.

Zon Nuttour, legendary miner and grower, is the first to delve into the adamantine hollow, beyond the breach.

As Zon descends through the fortress, the very last Wraith of Steam battles the undead. It will not last long, and then the only demons left will be the ones that spawn naturally in the underworld.

Once the demon is slain, I go through the units list, looking for denizens of the underworld, but find only wild animals and the undead.

Time to wrap up some loose ends - the unfinished stone-fall operations. One in particular is being held up, due to my choice to link several supports in one area up to a single lever. To speed the process, I cancel all but one of the linkages and order four more levers to be built, allowing many dwarves to work in parallel.

The miners work quickly, carving a precipitous staircase into the inside of the twisting hollow.

Many dwarves in Roomcarnage have the mining labor enabled, so even people such as the chief medical dwarf Stodir Beachedtombs gets a chance to work in the depths.

As portions of the depth are exposed and hewn away, I designate additional lengths of stair.

Once the artifact weapon rack is in place, I assign roughly half of the fortress' military to train here, not far from the adamantine stair.

I likewise unassign these squads from the current barracks, which is located in the dining hall.

Now that warriors will be stationed here in the depths at all times, I can relieve the Worthy Seals, who have earned a respite.

Deeper and deeper the miners mine, winding their way down to hell.

Life and unlife alike continue as normal in Roomcarnage - I turn my attention to the ever-present ghost situation.

The latest disembodied spirit to rise in Roomcarnage is the ghost of Kel Carnagechamber - a coincidentally fateful name. Kel, along with his wife Kol Wheelgirder, migrated to Roomcarnage in the midautumn of 1204, where they were both promptly struck down by zombie dwarves.

I add Kel to the list of dwarves who need memorials to be engraved of them, and hope that the fortress engravers will get around to it sometime soon.

There are, after all, more pressing things going on in Roomcarnage at the moment.

Ah, another dwarf who has likely never seen the light of day reaches adulthood in Roomcarnage.

I enlist them in the military immediately - there is a vacancy in the Worthy Seals that will fit them nicely.

Time crawls by as the dwarves toil over various projects - the lever linkages, the adamantine stair, and military training, mostly.

Training continues in the depths as off-duty soldiers haul adamantine ore out of the mines and bring it up to the fortress for processing.

Finally, the dwarves spot the bottom of the adamantine tunnel, and their ultimate destination.

With the entirety of the shaft revealed to the dwarves, the final stretch of stairwell can be designated and carved out.

The dwarves get to work at mining away the remaining 40 or so z-levels of the stairwell - or at least, the portion of the stairwell that can be mined out.

In the midst of all this excitement, a dwarven child creates a raw adamantine amulet.

The amulet is named Violenceerases, perhaps to commemorate the victory of the dwarves over the forces of hell.

As the miners delve deeper and deeper, the infernal landscape is slowly revealed.

The hellish landscape is unforgivably barren.

Finally the stair is complete, and a mere two z-levels separate the fortress from the accursed landscape below.

I order the first of three constructions - a down stair - to be built.

The time has come to finish the stone-fall projects - first, the one near the surface, within the volcano. The support collapses and the block of ice plummets downward - but fails to break through to the magma flow beneath.

Sometimes, when dealing with freezing water and molten rock, if something doesn't work you can usually just tweak it and try again. This time, I'll have the dwarves carve out a block of ice that's twice as tall as the first time.

The operation in the caverns goes much more smoothly - the collapsing blocks of stone fall neatly into the spaces between the blood thorns, sealing off this section of the map edge from the rest of the caverns.

Before long, the new stone-fall - ice-fall? - trap on the surface is ready. The lever is pulled, the support collapses, and the block of ice successfully punches through the water below it and into the tunnel.

I check the tiles - the tunnel is now blocked off by a wall of new, rough-hewn obsidian. The flow has been stemmed, and soon the stairwell and all the tunnels beneath it will be clear of magma. The corpses will all remain burning, though.

And here we are. I order the final tile of the stairwell to be built, linking the fortress with the slade landscape beneath.

It is the 1st of Opal, in the mid-winter of 1256. Who can say what horrors lie in wait for the dwarves in this fresh hell? If the gods are merciful, the Momentous Dye will have to fend off hordes of wandering demons until they all perish in combat. But it may be more likely - and I shudder at the thought - that they will find that hell is empty, a cruel hollow of ennui and despondence whose only occupants are the damned souls who sought adventure and glory in its barren depths.