THE MASTER OF THE TWISTS
The Writings of Rayven – Human Warrior
28th of Riag
Waking just before the sun set we were locked in an almost daze like state which was somewhere between lack of sleep and pure adrenalin knowing that once again we would be heading into the lost city of Parlainth in search of the lost Lady Yuriel and the adept group known as the Far Striders but whatever evil they have gotten themselves into seems to be the work of one of the passions themselves, for now we have a list of 11 riddles carved on the silver plaque along with a map pin pointing the location in the Twists that The Far Striders have headed to, for now at least we sat alone in the early morning silence with our hearts beating strongly in our chest.
Sitting for a short while in the tavern downstairs we sat quietly nursing our hot tea while watching a small grey mouse scurrying up and down the tavern floor and collecting small bits of food from the obvious festivities the night before, perhaps as we watched the tiny old mouse it reminded the group of ourselves searching the massive ruins of the forgotten city like we were mice scurrying through a world of giants hoping to find the treasures left behind, I think that brought a smile to all our faces until suddenly out of nowhere we heard an horrific hissing noise as the large black tavern cat came crashing down from one of the tables just missing the tiny mouse by a cats hair with its razor sharp claws, within almost seconds the mouse had set of running towards the small cracks in the floor seeing the large black cat give frantic chase while it swiped at its helpless pray.
Dashing under one of the chairs gave the mouse a small advantage and for a second the small rodent looked home free and was just sliding down into the cracks on the floor boards when suddenly the large scruffy cat dived towards the hole bringing its paw slamming down onto the hole where we heard a frantic squeaking noise as it seemed the large cat had just managed to pin the mouse’s tail before it dropped off into the darkness. The cat gnawing at the edge of the floor board was trying to get the mouse out until we heard a sharp high pitch squeal seeing the cat release the mouse having ripped off half its tail which it held between its teeth proudly, our hearts once again stuttered realising that today we would be the mice inside the most corrupted city in the world.
Having a arrived at the gate a little bit after sunrise the guards looked down from the high walls above and shouted “look, there hear again” and sure enough we were a sorry sight, my ribs still ached from the day before and even the large Obsidimen Gron still had soreness in his arm where the large corrupted elephants we fought had knocked him to the ground, even Elora had a small cut down one edge of her lip making us look like some crazy group who where one step from death, shouting down to us however the large built Trolls shouted “what are you going to bring back this time a sheep or maybe a zebra” seeing the large Trolls deeply chuckle to themselves as we walked into the great city, the pleasantry’s only lasted so long however as we heard the guard master scream in a deep and grizzly voice “PUSH, PUSH” he screamed as the huge Trolls once again started turning the massive cogs to seal the gate of Haven which slammed shut behind us sending judders through the floor shortly followed by the huge dead bolts grinding into place.
Tired and aching time was against us and this was perhaps the final extraction bid for Lady Yuriel and The Far Striders group as whilst such a powerful group may have been able to hang onto life this long they surly cannot survive forever in the lost city. Taking a few last deep breaths we kept our heads low and jogged off towards the accursed area known only as the Twists, all we know for now is that there is confirmed horror activity in that area and that even the Gods themselves seem to play some dark hand in these riddles, in fact whatever we are marching into was enough to capture or kill the entire Far Striders group and this is perhaps our last chance to ever find out.
Keeping our heads low we made good time and ran into the late morning where the sun began warming and rising higher into the sky, it was perhaps around 1.30 when we first came to the edge of the massive area known as the Twists and standing there on top of a large pile of rubble we all stood speechless staring at the dusty and ancient labyrinth of old houses and wrecked buildings that twisted off before us and carried on for miles into the distance, standing their looking over the Twists it was clear this area was massive and would take countless years to search, looking into the ancient shadowy streets of the Twists I was not even sure we would find what we were looking for, but regardless we crossed the boundary into the Twist.
I have to say within about 100 steps it was like walking into a new world where the very atmosphere changed around us leaving the air dry and the ground dusty beneath our feet, not only that but we noticed a deadly silence like all life here was void or had been killed by some huge monster that roamed the crumbling streets. It was hard to stop here as even while looking at the map the shadows played tricks on you like there is something moving in the shadows around every twist and alley way some of which have not been walked on for hundreds of years, this if anything was the rotting carcass of an entire city, and what a desperate fight these people must have had as this area alone would have held thousands all killed on these very streets.
We walked for several hours into the Twists until Jace and Rastin the two map readers said we were close to the area marked on our map, searching around for a while it was not long before we found a huge ornate building with the symbol of the passion Vestrial above the door, this not only matched our location on the map but we knew the riddles themselves had been created by the mad passion many years ago and this was perhaps the start of this deadly game where The Far Striders had fallen, for now at least we made final preparations to leave the sun light and venture deeper into the under belly of the great and horrific city, and as everyone knows evil lurks in darkness here.
Stepping into the once mighty temple of the mad passion Vestrial was a daunting and nerve racking task alone seeing our feet treed on holy ground that is hundreds of years old, in fact walking into that darkness felt like we were walking down the hallway of some dark and slumbering God and that any moment our lives could be ripped away seeing us suffer the same fate as the Far Striders if not worse. Following the large and ornate passage our lights flickered along the walls showing us the detailed and ancient carvings that had slowly began to erode over time, it was not long however before the passage opened up into what we assumed was the first area or test which left us all confused as we stood and stared at the room before us that held the symbol of the passion Upandal.
Looking ahead we could see a large ornate room with a forge in the middle that held the symbol of Upandal above making us think this was a shrine to the great passion of construction, we also noticed there was a picture that had fallen on the floor that seemed to be of happy Dwarven miners working in peace. Carefully looking around Jace swept the area for traps and found only one door leading out which was blocked by an extremely large and substantial rock door that would have perhaps taken 20 Obsidimen to lift, looking again at the 11 riddles from the silver plaque we noticed number one said:
Hone your weapon and mind your armour
Make the forge the highest calibre
Know their name and praise their maker
The twists are not your master
We only assumed this strange and ancient riddle had something to do with lighting the forge and perhaps placing our weapons upon it for some reason. Stocking up the forge with bits of wood debris we soon started a small but raging fire where we heated our metal weapons ready to forge them hoping to unlock some magical effect that would unseal the door. Hanging up the fallen picture we waited for the weapons to heat until we said a spoken prayer to the passion Upandal before bringing the hammering crashing down onto our blades one by one.
I think it was on the third or fourth weapon that we tried that the ancient door began to shudder and slowly rise open like we had somehow completed the task before us, looking through the door we could only see another long passageway leading off into the darkness making us wonder what riddle or evil trickery was next. Quickly stepping in the passageway felt bad enough but hearing the huge rock door grinding shut behind us after taking 50 steps was truly unnerving seeing us trapped in this ancient underground temple, luckily however it was not long before we could see a large opening up ahead which held the symbol for the passion Thystonius above the door.
Walking in the room after the usual precautions found us standing in a large room that had the scars and damage of various battles like something had fought in this room various times making us wonder if this was some kind of test of combat, walking forward however we noticed 11 different pictures on the wall with 5 of the pictures on the right wall, 5 of the pictures on the left wall, and then one large picture of Thystonius taking centre place on the back wall. Looking around again only uncovered a single exit which was again blocked by a large and impressive door, looking at each other nervously we realised this place was a tomb of riddles and twists, from what it seems the occupants of this room who fail the test come under some kind of severe attack.
Looking closer at the pictures they seemed to display various scenes of either victory and bravery or of loss and defeat several of which had fallen to the floor, on one of the paintings there was a dark figure opening a set of large castle gates to an invasion force like treachery was at work, we could only assume this individual must have been Vestrial and that the idea of the game was to promote his name and the trickery locked in the pictures of defeat. Looking at the ancient riddle we had to match this room it said:
Steady your heart and steel your honour
Test your worth and raise your banner
Fight for truth and praise the master
The Twists are not your master
While we did not like it the entire group agreed that we should raise the banner of Vestrial if we wanted to proceed any further, this almost felt like the corrupted and ancient God was luring us further into his trap giving us no option but to raise his banner to proceed, and while it did take us a good 20 minutes of talking we decided to replace the large picture of Thystonius at the head of the room with the picture of the traitor that had fallen. I have to say we all jumped back half expecting the walls to come alive around us or for foul demons to step out of the paintings and think we were all surprised when the huge door began to judder open sending dust flying through the room at which point several of the group including myself suddenly began to feel ill like some magic effect was taking hold of us, and at that moment we heard a voice in our heads that asked us to come further saying more gifts would be granted.
What gifts? I mean myself a Gron felt remarkably ill and after seeing Gron throw up his breakfast all over the floor we did feel a strange energy and tingle in our bodies like some magic had somehow remained with us, this to say the least was disturbing but at least the door before us had opened seeing us leave the room at once before anything else happened. Walking up the dark passageway it was not long before we felt a soft breeze in the air and found up ahead the passage once again opened out into an unknown location somewhere in the middle of the Twists. It was a strange feeling walking from the underground into another part of the city but there was one obvious path to take, like we somehow knew that the path before us would lead us to where we needed seeing us walk along the ancient gloomy street with the dark and shadowy world of the Twists at either side.
Following the most obvious path before us we decided to keep to path and forgo searching this hidden area of the Twists hoping that each second we saved would be a step closer to completing our mission, however after walking for about one more hour we came to a strange encampment in the middle of the road and have to say what we found shocked us all. Standing in the middle of the large and ancient road was a huge professional built camp that had all manner of traps, walls and trip wires around it like it had been built here as a perfect resting place for travellers, looking up however we instantly noticed the symbol for Mynbruje hanging above the fortified camp, perhaps what was more disturbing was the fact a fire burnt in the middle of the camp but there was no one to be seen making us wonder if this camp was designed to keep things out or even locked in.
Jace scouted around and found a perfect looking camp that was heavily trapped and defended, he did notice however that one of the ways in was trapped a little bit less than the rest like perhaps those traps had been triggered. The sun was almost gone now leaving us tired and ready to camp for the night but as the sun dropped we all thought this perfect camp before us was a risky offer perhaps intended to trap us during the hours of darkness, so having little other choice we once again turned to the list of riddles which read:
Stand your watch and forsake your bed
The only rest is the sleep of the dead
The sweeter the comfort the more the dread
The Twists are not your master
From what we could tell this riddle was telling us this camp was too good to be true so we decided to repair the traps on the weak exit in case anything tried flooding out in the night and decided to move on further and find our own place to camp away from the strange magical camp, it was at that stage however that more of the group began feeling sick like something else had affected us. We are unsure if that is a good sign or a bad sign but regardless we decided to get as far away from the strange camp as possible as for all we know a horror perhaps came there in the night hoping to find victims hiding in a camp that looks too good to be true.
Walking on for several more hours the sun light soon began to fade when we came to the next obvious test area which was a huge locked gateway that had the large symbol of the passion Lochost above the door, while this huge gate blocked our path the walls at either side had crumbled meaning we could just walk around the locked gateway without any problems, again turning to the riddles we read the cryptic message which said:
Locks bar your path and block the gate
Choose your way and pick your fate
The route is clear and you hesitate
Will the Twists become your master?
I think we all felt a little foolish doing this but after spending a few moments messing around with the lock the Windling Jace managed to open the large old lock with ease seeing the entire group walk through the doorway when we could have easily just walked round. I do not know what we expected to happen but walking through the gateway nothing at all seemed to change and we were in the same area of the Twists that we would have been if we had simply walked around, for now at least we were safe and nothing bad had happened as a result of us unlocking the gate so we again pressed on into the heart of the Twists until the last of the sun faded below the horizon seeing us find a suitable building to make camp for the night.
I have to say even camping here in the great lost city is a daunting experience often seeing you enter an old and dusty building that has not been searched in hundreds of years, that alone is risky as who knows what foul horrors are nesting within such buildings or what traps the original inhabitants left behind to defend their homes during the Scourge, in fact judging by the sheer number of traps reported to be in the lost city I would say that the inhabitants must have fought for many weeks or even months to regain control of the city meaning many of the houses and streets are heavily trapped or fortified as they tried to section off areas of the city from the horrors, these sneakily built and often deadly traps still lay under a sheet of dust that is from a world centuries ago meaning entering any building in Parlainth can be a daunting and deadly experience.
Having little choice however we found a small house that looked in good order and after completing and entire sweep of the small building we went about turning this rickety shack into a makeshift safe house overnight. Shoring up the windows with wood and blocking off the doors along with various trip wires and self made alarm systems is about the best you can do as no matter what the pitch black and horror corrupted streets of Parlainth are only inches away through the rotting walls, however if that is not bad enough it’s also advised that you camp with no light, no noise, no fire, no cooking and if you need the toilet then the corner of the room is about the best option without risking been spotted by horrors that roam the night time streets, these facts combined make each night here seem long and cold as you sit within the darkness.
Perhaps two hours passed when we first heard the noises and focussing our ears on the sound we began to hear sounds of fighting from the distance that seemed to be heading our way, within only moments The Circle of Light had deployed in defence of our small ancient house and waited eagerly with the noises of fighting getting ever closer. Before long we could hear the sound of sword crashing against armour like two people were fighting right outside the door and at that point had little choice but to investigate and see what was happening as for all we knew it could be the remainders of the Far Strider group trying to make some desperate escape from the lost city, so taking several deep breaths we flung open the door ready to attack anything that came near.
Looking into the street outside what we witnessed was two more of the magical ethereal knights that we had seen before in the lost city, these strange suits of armour seem to have been magically enchanted many years ago by the people of the city making them come to life like a suit of armour that walks and fights with no man inside, for now at least these two strange suits of armour seemed to fight each other in some kind of eternal duel as they floated around the streets of the city, who knows perhaps these strange suits of armour were enchanted as guards against the horrors or perhaps as distractions leading the horrors into traps and ambushes, either way two suits of armour was not worth breaking our cover for as for all we knew powerful horrors were also watching the ghostly ethereal knights so we slowly closed the door and waited for morning.
29th of Riag
Waking the next day was a fabulous yet scary experience as arriving here the night before we had little idea what outside looked like as we were in a totally unknown part of the Twists leaving us all peering through the cracks in the rotting wooden walls where we could see a huge network of twisting streets stretching out in all directions. Opening the door Gron poked his head out of the door and looked left to right before we all cautiously headed out into the street which was a breath talking experience in itself as while the vast area known as the Twist was half covered in gloomy shadows and darkened alleyways the other half was bathed in light seeing huge beams of faint morning light burst through the houses which made a fabulous mixture of scary shadows and pure columns of light that almost looked like a war between light and dark itself, for now at least we walked in both the shadow and the light as we followed the path deeper into the Twists.
Walking for around two hours following the one obvious road that for some reason just seemed to feel right in our hearts we soon came to the next area which was an old and overgrown building that contained some strange fountain in the middle, walking a little closer we could see the fountain trickled with crystal clear water and that the thick vines feeding from the water had overgrown the area virtually covering the huge symbol of the passion Garlen on the wall above the fountain, reading the ancient riddle gave us a few clues:
Below the streets only poison seeps
Can you know the foul from the sweet?
Good water is a treasure best to keep
The Twists are not your master
Heading further into the overgrown building we noticed yet another sealed door on the back wall that we assumed would open if we completed the task, sadly however we did not find any other clues leaving us discussing our options for several moments. Sadly however only a few seconds passed and something seemed to change seeing the air begin to taste powdery like we were inhaling some kind of powdery dust or poison which was perhaps from the vines, it was not long after that we all began feeling dizzy so having little other option some of us drank the water from the fountain hoping that the fountain itself was still blessed by the healing passion Garlen, the two who did not drink the water began feeling more ill until suddenly Gron and Elora fell to the floor in great pain and were seemingly about to fall unconscious until we poured handfuls of fountain water into their mouths which again seemed to recover them like magic.
Having all drank the water the large door at the back of the room began to creak open leaving plumes of dust falling from the ancient doorway, seeing our chance we had little time to spare so we decided to take some of the healing water with us and quickly filled up some water skins before rushing through the door ahead of us. Having passed through the door it again began to close shut once again trapping us with no way back, turning around however we were standing in yet another unknown part of the Twists with the one large road leading off into the distance, putting my hand on the large stone door I tried to push it open again and it would not budge a single inch making us feel like we were been led to our fate like mice trapped in a game of twists and turns, we again pressed on however and so far we had seen no evidence of The Far Striders.
Following the large road felt nerve racking enough as while we passed countless other alleyway and smaller streets none of them felt right and left us with a feeling that we would be turning off onto the wrong path so carefully we headed forward hoping to survive the next test. Walking again for about two hours we arrived at the next area in the early afternoon and looking ahead of us could see what we assumed was the next test as it was a large three story tower that had the symbol of the passion Floranuus above the door. Getting closer to the tall tower like building we noticed it had no windows and single large door which was open, we also noticed the smell of burning and could see various blackened scorch marks around the building like it had been on fire at some point in the past, so peering inside we could see little at first other than a hollowed out fire damaged tower.
Deciding to step inside we wondered if this test area had been destroyed by fire which was perhaps a huge mistake as the massive stone door came crashing down behind us making us all jump round, I guess by now we had expected this and there was little point wedging the door open and the sheer size of it would have crushed stone or bent metal as it crashed down to the floor so for now at least we were trapped in this strange fire damaged tower so we began looking around. The first thing we noticed was a huge crystal chandelier that hung from the roof and was attached to some kind of pulley system meaning it could be raised or lowered as desired, it was as we looked at this strange chandelier that it suddenly burst into a strange ethereal and magical fire that resembled candles seeing the entire tower bathed in strange glowing light from the flames above, only seconds later we heard a hissing noise that seemed to get louder each second until someone said “GAS!!” meaning we were sealed in a tower that was filling with gas and had no windows or exits so we quickly read the riddle that corresponded with this test which read:
With ancient air and torch’s flame
Then all will lose and who’s to blame
A crystal raised does much the same
The Twists are not your master
I think at this point with the room filling with gas the group panicked a little bit and made a series of errors by disobeying my expert advice as I had suggested we raised the flames away from the gas, the rest of the group however decided that lowering the chandelier would perhaps release the door which seemed wrong to me. However been out voted I covered my face as the group lowered the burning chandelier down into the room when suddenly we all heard an epic “BOOM!!” as the gas in the room exploded into flames which burnt us all in places including some of our equipment and left us all stumbling around in a smoky flaming haze until the door began to creak open seeing the cindered and coughing group crash out onto the streets of Parlainth with black chard dust falling from our cloths, needless to say we think we failed that test and had little choice but to move on further up the street still coughing and spluttering as we walked.
Following the road for another two hours we arrived at the next area at about 2.30 in the afternoon and instantly we could see a well kept three story building that stood out amongst the sea of rotting and dilapidated buildings, looking closer we could even see the large symbol of the passion Chorrolis above the door of the building at that all our eyes lit up a little when we edged closer as what we could see was a fully stocked shop that sold all manner of basic equipment and looked like it was being tended to by someone or something as the shop itself looked in good order. Having preformed an initial sweep of the area and the doorway Jace peered into the window and could see a sign hung above the counter that said “Please pay for your items at the door” and looking just inside the door Jace could see a secured money box that had a sign saying “Payments Here Please”, so reporting what he had seen we all read the cryptic riddle which said:
Legends need tools and even heroes eat
And of times honesty is no easy feat
But the wise deal fair where only fools cheat
The Twists are not your masters
Looking again through the shop window we couldn’t see any movement but did notice that each item had a price tag attached all which seemed cheaper than in the town of Haven. Checking the door for any obvious traps we pushed open the door and walked in the shop without incident and after looking around we confirmed we found a fully equipped shop that sold a vast range of basic but new items all at a low price, it seems however that stealing from the passion of trade Chorrolis was not a wise move so the group decided to pick what items they wanted and then place the relevant payment in the payment box at the front of the store from which we had to prise Jace away from before he brought the wrath of the Gods on our heads.
Paying the fair price for the goods the group bought several basic items and weapons but nothing that could be called major finds and with that we moved on and followed the road ahead, it almost seemed a shame to leave all that loot behind but I myself did not buy or even touch a single thing in that shop as knowing the skin flint Chorrolis he would turn up and the most inappropriate moment claiming the item belonged to him and we would end up with another copper peace for our troubles so for now we had little choice but to push onto the next area which we assumed would be roughly two hours walk as for some strange reason these tests seem to be spread an equal distance apart like whoever made them all those years ago built them to fit some mystical pattern that we are yet to understand, walking on however we made good time as Jace whipped people with his new Windling whip that he had managed to buy at the shop.
It was around 4.30 in the afternoon when we arrived at the next area which looked to have been an area of some wealth and art as the place was littered with fine carvings and broken statues that must have once looked amazing in the early life of the city, now however they were crumbling into little more than dust in the forgotten city. Walking onwards we found one central building which again had a large symbol above the door which was the symbol of the passion Astendar , what was more disturbing was that under the symbol it had the faded writing carved into the wall which said “The Dark Gallery” making us all look on in wonder at the single entrance before us, which we approached with caution.
Stepping inside the room we looked around and was shocked by what we could see as the room itself looked well kept and looked to be an artist’s room of some sort and had various pictures around the room along with a blank canvas and paints like whoever designed this place wanted you to draw a picture of some sort. Walking further into the room we began looking at the paintings and within seconds we were all grabbing our weapons and looking around in shock as what these paintings depicted was truly horrific with scenes of extreme violence and torture being the main topics, in fact looking into some of the pictures of people been torn apart and eaten alive was enough to make you sick but one thing we did notice was that a lot of the pictures had a single glowing white door and it was from this door that all the evil was spilling, for example some pictures showed people been dragged into the doorway by huge beastly hands, others showed people who entered the door being burnt alive, this truly was a dark gallery and it was just near the end of the paintings that we suddenly looked up and could see the white glowing door right in front of us which made us all look on in horror as it seemed this horrific door was the only way out making us wonder what the riddle said:
At times when darkness has claimed the heart
The test can reveal the soul torn apart
Art shows the truth and with it a mark
The Twists are not your master
I think at this point the entire group was a bit nervous as we were surrounded by evil paintings that showed death and pain spilling from a glowing white door, and what was in front of us but the very same glowing white door shown in the pictures, at this stage Kaerless seemed to lose the plot and grabbing the paints that rested beside the blank canvas he found a empty space on the wall and started to draw an exact copy of the white door perhaps hoping this would unlock some magical effect, I mean that’s just what we need Kaerless two doors of magical death and mayhem, however the rest of the group was also keeping themselves busy as while Kaerless happily painted away Rastin and the other members of the group tried a different approach and began defiling the paintings of evil changing the evil scenes for scenes of peace and prosperity like that would somehow drain the evil from the door.
I think it’s fair to say we didn’t have a bloody clue what we were doing and so far The Circle of Light had entered the Dark Gallery and not only began defacing the art work but had painted a second door which could lead into all sorts of craziness, it was at that point I turned to the large Obsidimen Gron and said “Shall we just kick the door down” seeing Gron rise a mischievous look for several seconds as it seemed he would much prefer to be fighting the horrors behind the door, I guess this is what you get for travelling with Horror Stalkers and Nethermancer’s who all seem overly eager to walk through this door of doom and chaos, even Jace the Windling had started his own master peace on the blank canvas and had started painting the white doorway with gold gems and precious items spilling out of the door like a tide of treasure.
From what it seemed Jace thought that if we painted a picture of treasure spilling out of the doorway that when we open the door treasure would spill out rather than horror and death and I have to say we could have probably rescued the Far Striders by now if it was not for Jace cramming every gold coin into the painting and filling up every single inch with gems and precious stones, in fact looking at the painting I think we all hoped that would come true. I am not sure what caused the effect maybe it was a combination of drawing a new painting and removing the evil from the other paintings, or perhaps it was the second door we draw on the wall but for some reason the strange white door began glowing brighter until it swung open on its own which brought a quick lasting sense of victory until me and Gron suddenly realised we are always the first ones through the door and sadly there was no treasure spilling out either seeing a rather depressed paint covered Jace sigh as he threw the paint brush over his shoulder.
I think everyone of us was nervous as we approached that doorway and half expected a huge set of demonic white hands to leap out and drag us off never to be seen again, luckily however we managed to step through the strange door without a problem and again we landed in another section of the Twists with the road leading off ahead. Marching onwards we looked back only to see the strange magical doorway had vanished into thin air making us wonder if we would ever get out of this accursed city again as to me at least this series of riddles seems to be nothing more than a trap that is leading us deeper into the Twists, and once deep enough we may never return again, luckily however with companions at your side bolsters courage seeing us head off into the sunset.
Walking for a little over an hour the sun began to fade quickly seeing us to camp up a little early for the night as today we had not only got poisoned at the fountain of Garlen, had been hit by a fireball at the tower of Floranuus, had probably been ripped off again at the shop of Chorrolis and now we were covered in paint from the Dark Gallery which bore the symbol of Astendar , to say the least we were shattered and decided to bed down early and clean ourselves up for the next morning so we were fresh and ready for the next test. I think we were all hoping for a good night’s sleep and sadly that was not to come as finding a suitable derelict house we bedded down for the night when suddenly Elora said “What’s that noise?” seeing us all fall deadly quiet and listen carefully, what we heard was the sound of a ticking clock that echoed out over the Twists, in fact I had not noticed the noise at all until I listened for it and after that I could not get it out of my ears.
It was strange as we all searched the house for this ticking noise but no matter where we looked we just could not tell where the noise was coming from so instead we had no option but to suffer a constant ticking all night as it was too late now to change areas and needless to say the ticking alone was enough to keep us awake half the night never mind the fact we were basically lost in one of the biggest evil cities in the world.
30th of Riag
Managing to camp safely for another night was at least a blessing seeing us rise fairly early and eat a modest breakfast of dried fruits and travellers rations before we once again set off into the belly of the Twists which still seemed to stretch on for countless miles ahead.
Walking only a short distance we quickly came to the next test which was a huge stone built building that blocked the road ahead and had the huge symbol of the mad passion Raggok above the door making us all feel worried as Raggok just like Vestrial fell during the Scourge and now works against the name givers and our kind, to say the least we were worried about this one and nervously edging forward we looked through the large door and could instantly see what appeared to be a large fridge like area that still had countless frozen carcasses hung up from the ceiling like a magical meat locker of some sort that was probably cooled my magic’s that were still working to this day, looking at the simple riddle it said:
A thousand pitfalls the Twists define
A thousand hero’s dead and dying
Is the path clear, it is your time?
Will the Twists become your master?
This one really stumped us as there was little in the room other than icy carcasses and a frosty room with little else other than a door on the far side, so seeing a clear path we walked into the room and tried approaching the door which suddenly began to glow and let off a cold steam which dropped to the floor when suddenly a large magical spike of ice shot straight out of the door hitting one of the group members seeing us back off immediately as there was obviously something we had to do.
One again turning to the riddle it asked us if the path was clear and looking around the magically chilled room all we noticed was a thin layer of frost on the floor along with various ancient carcasses hung from the ceiling, it was around that moment that Kaerless picked up one of the frozen carcasses at the edge of the room and threw it towards the doorway sending it skidding along the frosty floor, to our surprise there was no magical blast of ice but what we did notice is that the ancient and frozen carcass of the Ram that Kaerless had thrown had left a clear path in the blanket of frost on the floor, so once again taking several steps along the cleared path we held our breaths waiting for the magical blast of ice that never came, from what it seems Kaerless had solved the riddle seeing us clear the frost from the floor step by step before we reached the door at the far end which opened as if by magic as we neared.
Quickly rushing through the door we broke out onto the other side and was once again standing in a different area of the Twists with a single road ahead of us that seemed to feel right in our hearts like some unseen power was guiding us further into the labyrinth before us. Making good time in the early afternoon light we followed the road cautiously until we noticed a massive wall in the distance that stud towering high above the ruined city, looking ahead as we walked we could only assume the massive wall was another section wall of the Twists that was obviously used many years ago as a secondary defence if the city had been overrun, perhaps it was these large walls that helped the people here fight for so many weeks and months allowing the guards to section off different areas of the city, either way this wall was standing directly in our path.
Walking further towards the wall the path we were following seemed to hit a total dead end making us wonder if we had somehow taken a wrong turn, it was around that second however that the hawk eyes of the Windling Jace said “Look” and pointing over to a collapsed building at the edge of the wall we noticed the large building ruins had been turned into some kind of ornate garden with glorious plants and flowers of all descriptions. Heading towards the crumbled building we just noticed the carved name of Jaspree on the back wall confirming this building was once a temple to the great passion of growth and farming, what shocked us the most however was this garden looked like it had been tended to, that someone or something had been maintaining it for a long number of years, so once again we turned to the riddles which said:
Within all hearts is foe and friend
Can it be divined what they intend
When trust is planted then hope begins
The Twists are not your master
Holding our weapons tight we nervously walked into the garden and began looking around when all of a sudden we jumped a little in shock as we heard a whistling noise from up ahead, looking closer we noticed an elderly human man who seemed to be tending to garden without a care in the world in fact he had not even noticed us. Taking several more steps we hailed the man who suddenly turned around startled and looked shocked to see us, however within only seconds he face let out a huge smile and he said “Good, good more people to help with the garden” and welcomed us to come closer. Walking over to him he seemed to be an old and friendly man who asked us to help him with his garden and explained he had been the caretaker here for some years making us all wonder how the hell he had survived out here alone, I think by that stage several of us gasped as we realised the man before us could well be a spirit from the netherworld, or failing that he must have been a questor of some serious power as Jaspree had obviously chosen to keep this garden alive.
What we did notice however was a huge sealed door at the back of the garden that seemed to lead through the huge barrier wall and seemed to be the only path we could take, the door however looked to be tightly sealed and covered in thick green vines that hung around the door seeing us ask the strange old man how we could pass. To our surprise the old man said he could help us pass but in exchange he wanted help with his garden and required new seeds to plant in the ground and that if we could find him some seeds the magic of the garden would open the door, sadly however we had no idea where the hell to get seeds from standing in the middle of the lost city and heading back to Haven at this stage was impossible so we began bargaining with the man.
I myself stood there quietly as the others tried bargaining with this man asking him if he would accept something else instead of seeds, sadly however he was determined that only seeds would do and it was around that moment my jaw dropped open as Jace flying behind the man craftily flew over to one of the large sunflowers in the garden and pulled off a handful of large black sunflower seeds before approaching the man and dropping them in his hand. I could not believe my eyes the Windling Jace had just stolen seeds from the garden of Jaspree only to give them back to the dithering old man and barter us passage through the sealed and ancient door, to my surprise the old man seemed delighted at the seeds even though in reality they were his already, this seemed to cheer him up enough that he agreed to help us open the door.
Standing some distance from the door he quietly began to meditate for several moments before he began mumbling under his voice and weaving his hands in the air like he was pulling magic into himself from the astral plane when suddenly his hands stretched out towards the door which almost instantly began to shake and grind open before the man said “quickly run” seeing the entire group look at each other before we set off running towards the open door. Running quickly we noticed the vines around us darted towards us trying to attack us but the strange human man seemed to call out to them saying “No, no, back, back” like he had somehow trained the vines as deadly pets and protectors of his garden, luckily however we managed to crash through the open doorway with vines only inches away from grasping us seeing us land in a pile on the other side of the door.
Standing up and looking back was a strange experience as looking through the doorway which had magical begin to close we just caught a glimpse of the old man who stood there smiling and waving us goodbye without a care in the world, we didn’t know what to do other than wave back to the strange man as the gigantic door once again sealed itself and vanished into the wall like there was nothing there. It was at that point we turned around to see the road before us leading off into the Twists and by this stage we were all confused, what were these riddles designed for, where was this path leading us, had the Far Strider group come this way at all were all questions spinning in our minds as looking down at riddles before us there was only one left.
Following the path ahead we walked into the mid afternoon before we noticed a large building ahead of us that must have been rather grand in its day, now crumbling in ruins however the building had seen better days but we did notice however the large emblem of the mad passion Dis above the door along with an ancient carved line of text which simply said “The Abandoned Court” along with a large dark doorway underneath. Me and Gron once again looked at each other as being the fighters of the group we seem to form a shield for the others to hide behind meaning once again we were first into the darkened doorway taking the first step into the Abandoned Court.
Walking for only a short way I think we were all overwhelmed by what was before us and standing inside the huge building was shelf after shelf of books and documents, the entire floor itself was littered in documents that were hundreds of years old seeing the eyes of the spell casters Rastin and Kaerless light up in anticipation, looking down at the last riddle we all peered into the cryptic words which read:
Death in the Twists is a second birth
A life without joy and life without mirth
To be a slave to a horror or worse
The Twists will be your master
I’m not sure what triggered the event but as we stood their reading the riddle the entire room suddenly began to shake and we felt a sudden and strong gust of wind flying around the room sending papers flying everywhere, my heart was racing when all of a sudden a strange misty vortex of wind appeared in the centre of the room seeing a strange ghostly man in robes appear out of nowhere and within only seconds he lunged forward and shouted loudly at us, pointing his fingers towards the walls with the wind thrashing around the room getting ever stronger he screamed “Chain the innocents to the wall, chain the innocents to the wall” and with each second the wind in the room seemed to be getting stronger and stronger like the entire place would collapse at any second if we didn’t do something, the strange ghostly figure before us once again shouted in a frantic voice “Chain the innocents to the wall” where we could see chains hanging from the wall.
From what it seemed this man wanted us to chain an innocent soul to the wall like some human sacrifice that might stop the winds, to this day I have no idea why but the group grabbed Kaerless and began chaining him to the wall with the wind and documents hurling around the room, I have to say at this point I thought we were doomed as we were supposed to be chaining an innocent person to the wall and the best The Circle of Light could come up with was Kaerless the dark Nethermancer who deals with the dead. In usual fashion Kaerless seemed eager to try something new and allowed us to chain him to the wall in hope of stopping the winds, however finally securing him to the wall the winds began to get quicker and quicker making us all think we had failed and that the dark heart of Kaerless had not been pure enough, I knew we should have chained Elora up.
However just as I was thinking that we heard a mighty rumble seeing a huge doorway begin to open at the back of the room with books and documents flying in all directions, as this happened the spirit in the middle of the room encased in his swirling vortex simply looked at us and said “Run” seeing us quickly unchain Kaerless before we collided towards another doorway with no idea what’s on the other side. With the wind beating at our backs we had little choice but to leave the vast room of documents behind once again seeing the doorway seal itself behind us with its ancient magic’s that made the entire doorway disappear into nothing more than a cold brick wall, turning around however all that remained was one single path ahead of us which we followed nervously.
Walking for several hours following the one path before us we soon noticed a huge tower like building in the distance and getting closer what we could see was a huge and ancient courtyard area with a single large tower in the middle that must have stood 100ft or more into the air, looking around however we could see no windows and only one door, we also noticed no other paths that felt right and could only assume we had reached the end of the riddles and that whatever was in that tower was our final goal. Jace needed little encouragement and the small but brave Windling flew ahead scouting the doorway of the ancient tower, flying back only moments later he said he could not see any traps or monsters only a single corridor leading off into the darkness and within seconds Rastin had began weaving his hands ready to cast spells of protection upon us before we head in.
Walking into the huge tower we followed the darkened passage which after a short while opened up into a large round room that had a hole in the centre of the room along with a ladder leading down beneath the tower, again Jace skills came in use seeing him quickly scout the room and report back before we all started our decent down the ancient ladder. The room we were about to see however was like none I have seen before as walking down the ladder we entered a large perfectly round room that held 11 huge ornate carvings and pictures on the walls that seemed to be of the passions themselves, taking centre place however was a huge and colossal set of doors that held upon it the picture of the mad passion Vestrial the original maker of these riddles we know believed.
This room alone was perhaps one of the finest works to the passions I have seen each passion standing in its rightful place like a grand temple room or alter to the gods, the only other thing in the room was a huge and gigantic doorway bearing the picture of Vestrial, standing just to the side of the doorway was a huge brass gong that had a large hammer used to bash the gong sending noise echoing through the ancient structure. Looking up at the huge doorway made our entire bodies shudder as there must have been a reason to build such a gigantic doorway, however I think we all knew what we had to do and in true Circle of Light fashion I walked up to the huge brass gong and picking up the huge hammer I looked back at the group who nodded at me before I pulled back the hammer and sent it crashing down onto the gong which make a fantastic deep echoing sound.
One again bringing the hammer back I let out another hit “Gong, gong, gong, gong” twelve times in total one hit for each of the passions, and with that The Circle of Light stood ready for combat and formed a small circle at the door waiting to see what foulness split out of the ancient doorway, and sure enough only a few moments passed when we began hearing noises from the deep, noises from beyond the great doorway that were getting louder and while we might not have known it yet we were in for the fight of our lives.