‘The First Test’

Past the outpost we camped at, and beyond another narrow tunnel that ran for quite some time, we come upon an ancient-looking archway leading apparently to nowhere.  Cɪrthsta says it’s a portal built by the Young Ones – children to the Old Ones, responsible for constructing the Fifteen Temples that have long since been the subject of the ultimate adventure (that no one has yet to complete).

The portals allow for quick passage between dungeons in this particular leg in the journey.  We’ll have to pass through each dungeon’s test to reach the part consisting of the core area of Eyaye.

“The First Test,” Cɪrthsta speaks clearly to the archway.  On command, it activates and a bubble-like film is produced across the opening in the archway.  We pass through it, coming upon two gigantic, closed, stone doors with a depiction carved into its surface.  Cɪrthsta tells us the mural tells what the test is about:

The scene is fairly simple overall; three large humanoid figures sit in their own unique seat facing us but without faces.

the first test

Cɪrthsta pulls out a bit ahead, and turns about to face us.  “Now, once the doors open, we have to enter.  Once we enter, we have to solve the puzzle.  If we fail, we die,” she explains promptly and bluntly.  “Also,” she adds, “I suggest only one of us answer per dungeon, because we’re not allowed to speak save for to fulfill the conditions of and/or answer the riddle.

“This first one is a riddle of three giants; one of them always speaks truth, one of them always lies, and the third speaks truth or lies completely at random; it is our job to tell which one is which through only three questions.  I will do the honour for this one, to give you all a feel for this sort of thing.”  Concluding her talk, she turns about and shortly after the heavy-looking stone doors slowly swing open.  I see a few are looking nervous or anxious as we enter the room beyond.  Cɪrthsta, as I could expect, is jolly as ever despite what she’s about to face.

True to the depiction, before us loom three scary-looking humanoid figures seemingly made from some kind of stone.  Their faces are completely featureless, lacking eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.  They each sit in a “throne” of stone shaped identically to what was shown on the doorway.  Above us are three inverted pyramids with lights in them that turn on as we set foot inside.  The lights throw a pale, yellowy light across the whole room.  Located behind the giants is the exit, another pair of massive stone doors.

“Ha,” rumbles the giant sitting to our left, on the end.

“Ma,” groans the giant sitting in the middle.

“Ka,” roars the third giant, sitting on the right end.

Then, all goes silent.  I take it, now it is our turn to fulfill the riddle that has now commenced itself.

Cɪrthsta steps forward, and I hope everyone else here, Dass and Kess especially, can stay silent for the duration of this thing like I can.

“Ha,” she addresses the first giant, “will you answer ‘yes’ if I asked you if both yourself and Ma always spoke the truth?”

“Oh,” it replies promptly, nodding its egg-shaped head up-and-down in affirmation.  Looks like the beings can understand our language, but only reply in their own.  So, “oh” means “yes” in their language.

She takes a moment to ponder what’s just happened, and then looks to Ma.

“Ma, will you answer ‘yes’ if I asked you if Ha had just answered my first question truthfully because Ha always speaks the truth?” she asks of it, to which it replies with “ah” (presumably “no” in their language) while shaking its head negatively.  A very informative query and response, suggesting Ma may be the truth-speaker.

Cɪrthsta will need to pose a very telling third question in order to clearly sort the three from one another.  She spends a moment pondering things, but is soon ready to use her final query.

“Ka, will you answer ‘yes’ if I asked you if both Ha and Ma had just answered my prior two questions untruthfully?”

“Oh,” it affirms, which proves equally telling.  Now, she must correctly deduce the three from what she has asked of them.  We all remain silent as she decides.

Again, she is almost surprisingly quick to make up her mind.  “Ha is the liar, Ma is the truth-teller, and Ka answers randomly,” she speaks assuredly and confidently.  The three giants simply bow their nearly featureless heads at her, and the door behind them opens for us.

We’re probably safe to speak and what-not now, but even so we all wait until we’ve left the dungeon to congratulate Cɪrthsta on getting us through it.  “It wasn’t too bad,” she shrugs it off perhaps feigning it wasn’t as impressive as we believed, “but I did have some reading-up on it sometime in the past!”

We’re now walking through a cavern, what was once a lava tube.  It then occurs to me that it’s not quite as hot as should be expected for the depth we should be at.  It’s still hot enough to cause some of us to start sweating, but nothing that’s at all unbearable.  The odd draft of wind, whose source I’ve no good explanation for, is refreshing regardless.

The lava tube leads ultimately into what appears to have once, very long ago, been a magma chamber.  Half of it has long since been emptied, while the remaining half (I estimate) has hardened into volcanic and plutonic rock.  On the other side of the chamber, there appears to be another of those archway portals.

We’ll be camping here tonight, though.  We’ll continue through the portal, onto the next leg of the journey, tomorrow.

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