Tag Archives: journey

‘The Underground Metropolis’

To lay eyes on a once-inhabited metropolis of stone deep inside Eyaye, according to the Archivist indoctrination, shouldn’t ever be possible.  The pressures and temperatures down this far, 1/3 the way down, should be intolerable to any living thing and artifice known to the Universe.

Yet, here we are and here lies stone-masonry so extensive it easily rivals the City-States above-ground.

A waterfall of molten rock pours down from a fissure in the ceiling of the metropolis’ cavity, and has since laid waste to a section of the construction.  The lava makes the whole area warmer than usual, but still bearable.  There must still be a steady, fresh supply of cool air filtering into this entire network of underground passages, dungeons, and sites constituting what was, apparently, once a subterranean civilization advanced enough to make an otherwise uninhabitable place their home.

“Well, that lava river is pretty new,” remarks Cɪrthsta as we came upon one of the entranceways into this metropolis.  The glowing fluid is actually of some help here, since it’s the only form of illumination of this whole place.  Still, this cavity is so vast there remain several large portions of this area cloaked in pure blackness.

She gave us a tour of the place, as best she could considering the river of yellow-hot lava cutting through 1/4 of it.  She showed us to eight other entranceways cut into the host rock, explaining where each one led.

One, which was sealed shut, led to the Old Ones’ “Last Temple.”  Another, which looked like it was carved upside-down, leads to a labyrinth – another dungeon that could take us to our ultimate destination.  A handful of them led eventually to other, equally large, metropolitan areas like this one.

However, Cɪrthsta informs us she wanted to stop here specifically to visit the city’s central library.  The library itself is a tall, cylindrical stone building near the center of the cavity.  Even from afar, its exterior carvings, lit up by the lava river flowing around it, can be seen though not really intelligible.  Each level of the building appears to have a particular story told on it in pictographic form.  I questioned her for the reason she wanted to visit such a library, but her reply was simply that there might be something she didn’t know lying around somewhere inside its walls.

Approaching it, the scenes can be comprehended more clearly.  Some of the depictions are of warfare, while others are of adventures and legends.  Accompanying the carvings are segments of script in a language unlike anything residing above-ground.  Cɪrthsta says the script belongs to the Young Ones, who once lived here.

15 levels make up the library, and each level has two floors.  According to Cɪrthsta, there are also basement floors and levels.

Entering the library reveals rings upon rings of stone where windows and bookshelves have been cut into them.  More carvings of wars, adventures, and tales can be found on the floor of each floor.  A central rotunda with a large winding staircase connects the floors to one another.

“Feel free to look around,” winks Cɪrthsta, pulling ahead.  “We could be here all day, I think.”  She then waves and takes the stairs up to the floor right above us.

“This building is a time machine, in a way,” says Way, the first thing she’s said in a long time since meeting with her.  “The script here says ascending the library is like traveling forward in time, while descending it does the opposite,” she explains, pointing to some text cut into the floor amid the scene.  Looking at the scene itself, I realize that’s pretty-much what it depicts.  “I’m descending into the basement,” she informs us, and then takes the stairs downwards.

“I should probably check out the upper levels, then,” I consider.  Not sure why I feel I should, but intuition is something I’ve learnt to heed.  “Are you able to read what’s written here, Esscie?” I ask her.  If she can, then I’d like her to come with me.

“I mean…, I know what it says,” she murmurs uneasily.  For her it’s a case of somehow knowing what the text says but without a clue what each glyph in the text actually means.

“That should suffice,” I smile.  “Mind following me?” I ask her.  She decides to accept.

We ascend to the fourth-highest level, where Esscie and I both intuit the need to browse more closely here.

Esscie reads a piece of text, telling me that it talks about nine great conflicts on Eyaye as well as the disappearance of Lady Light’s Avatar by the Forces of Darkness.

“That sounds like our present Age,” I remark and she agrees.  The scene associated with it shows a dozen or so frames of important parts of the current Age.  The scene begins on the first floor of this level and then ends on the second.

The eleven frames of mural on the lower of the two floors tell of the Five Waves as well as two earlier, brutal wars that virtually consumed Eyaye for years on end.  This mural ends with the disappearance of the Peregrine.

The upper floor proved more interesting, being that it documents, so I figure, events that are yet to come during our current Age.

Of note was a frame showing a large beast falling towards a city, but crash-landing just outside where the city stood.  This is followed by a scene displaying a time of strife and struggle by intrepid heroes against a veritable army of incredibly powerful Dark Forces.

Esscie read the available inscription, mentioning an “Ancient of Eyaye” being shot down and then a swarm of monsters leaving it upon its colliding with the surface.  The text also mentioned the return of the Peregrine, and those who would turn the tide against the Dark.  The heroes assured a reprieve just long enough for them all to come together in unity and in preparation for what was to come.

“Maybe this is what Cɪrthsta was looking for?” suggests Esscie upon finishing with the inscription.  I remembered her reply to me outside the library, and figured this could be the kind of thing she was after.  I know I’ve found this part of the library very informative.  A glimpse into the future can, when done properly, be vital.

The trick is to look into future events with wisdom, instead of just trying to take everything in.  Doing the latter tends only to result in bad things happening.

When given a glimpse into the future, one must be careful with what they do with that information.  In attempting to change the outcome of an unwanted prophecy, one must first understand the prophecy in its entirety else it is likely one will bring the prophecy about even while working to prevent it.

But, this prophecy appears to be more amicable to us – at least for the near future.  In this case, we simply do our best to fulfill the prophecy’s outcome.  It requires our action, though, since everyone hoping for those heroes to arrive will assure those heroes will never come.  If you want heroes to show up, then you need to become one of those heroes.

One must also be careful not to read too far into the future, especially without due diligence.  Otherwise, one can easily come across a prophecy they were never meant to know about.  With that in mind, I suggest to Esscie that we try finding Cɪrthsta again.

We find her on the second floor of the first level, not far from where we saw her sometime before.  “Did you find what you were looking for?” I ask her.

“I found what I missed last time I was here, yes,” she replies non-straightforwardly as usual.  “We can complete our quest, now, thankfully.”  That’s good to hear, I guess.

“We found some important things here, too,” affirms Esscie with a smile.

“So did I,” adds Way suddenly, approaching our position.

“Sounds like we can get outta here, then,” Dass chimes in sounding like he’d like to leave immediately.

Since everyone seems to have completed their business here, it is decided that we press on towards the next portal.

Crossing the river of lava was actually straight-forward, though not the easiest undertaking.  The Peregrine had to fly us over one-by-one.  Way could blink herself over, but couldn’t take anyone with her.

The city turned out to be larger than we’d been expecting, which included the Peregrine who said she’d never trekked further than the library her first time here.  We had to camp out at the other end of the city, in complete darkness.

We’ll have to seek out the next portal tomorrow.

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‘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.

‘Entrance Into Eyaye’

I was anticipating a very long journey, given what Cɪrthsta said about the location of the entrance into Eyaye, but Durittal called upon some giant flying creatures to take us there in a much shorter time.

The entrance in question is located far north of the Great Plains region that in turn is located north of the Academy.  It would’ve taken weeks, or even months, to get there by foot.  With these reptilian flyers, what Durittal calls the Kinniwigg, we were able to reach our destination in just one week.

The Kinniwigg is one of those odd-looking creatures – among all the other odd-looking creatures inhabiting the Forbidden Rise.  Its body is very slender, but its size is stupendous.  Length-wise, the Winniwigg is approximately ten meters; its wing-span is double that.  The head is elongate and thin, with a mouth that encompasses much of it.  Three eyes sit above the mouth, with one on each side and the third right in the middle.  Its wings are made from scaly skin stretched over its spindly arms and fingers.  Its tail is club-like.  It possesses two powerful-looking legs ending with four long-clawed toes on its feet.  The skin is a pale colour, dark on its top-side and light on its bottom-side.

We flew along the far-eastern coast of the main continent, hoping to stay clear enough away from any frontier lands that might freak out upon seeing us.  Archivist-run lands are not really a problem, as their citizens are usually too preoccupied with their own survival to try looking up every now and then.

The frontier peoples, however, are notably more observant of things.

The entrance itself is actually a gaping hole in the midst of a long-ruined temple-like structure.  What remains of this stone structure completely surrounds the hole, and despite the overgrowth of long grass into the blackness there’s still more than enough room for our Kinniwiggs to fly through it and into the passage-way leading from it.

The Peregrine flies in first, lighting herself up to illuminate our way.  The initial earth- and life-covered walls of the passage give way to stone-masonry.  The stone-work is reminiscent of that seen at the Black Tower, except far more worn.

The tunnel winds and wends about for what seems like many miles.  By the time I begin to wonder if this tunnel will ever end, we are, almost immiedately, brought into a large open area somehow lit in various places from far above.

What greets us is, incredibly, a kind of vast, underground, long-abandoned city.  Cɪrthsta’s light brings into view a gigantic cross-shaped atrium-like area with an extremely high ceiling.

At the very bottom of the atrium area are two vegetation-covered lanes, what I figure must once have been streets.  A monumental fountain, now just a sculpture of some woman wearing ceremonial robes and a couple little holes in her that once accommodated flowing water, stands at the intersection.

Along each “street” are multi-story buildings stuck onto one another as one single structure.  Many have stone balconies, indicating they were likely living spaces back in the time this place was inhabited.

Slit-like features high above us apparently connect to the surface somewhere, as sunlight is filtering in through them and even making it, just barely, to street-level.

We follow Cɪrthsta left at the statue, and continue down that street for another good long while before coming upon a large unlit niche at the end of the way.  It looks almost like a gigantic well, but we fly right into it.  It turns out to be a tunnel to somewhere else; a rail for what probably once supported a monorail vehicle can be seen running along the bottom of this tube-shaped tunnel.

After several hundred meters, the tube ends and the area opens up again.  This new room is vast, cylindrical, and dominated by a stone statue of another beautiful-looking woman.  This one stands with a warrior’s expression on her face, an impressive bust, long hair, and her right hand clasps a longsword directed downwards as if about to finish an enemy off.  She stands on a stout but wide pedastol, and the floor around it looks like it can retract away to reveal another room below.  The stone walls, cut directly from the bedrock as one single entity, is covered with a slowly fading script for some language I’ve never seen before.  The script is probably as old as the place itself is.

Cɪrthsta lands her Kinniwigg down at the foot of the woman, and our Kinniwiggs follow suit.  “Look, guys!  It’s me!” Cɪrthsta proclaims enthusiastically while we dismount.

I guess that makes sense.  It explains the impressive chest on the statue, at the very least.  I wonder if the statue we passed back at the atrium was a likeness of Lady Light.

“Now what?” asks Kess.

“Now, I open up our way into the long-lost Realm of the Old Ones,” answers Cɪrthsta.  She places herself between the two large feet of her likeness, and then turns into a beam of light that passes right up through her statue and disappears into the domed roof far above the statue’s head.  The writing on the wall lights up, and then the retractible floor begins to retreat into cavities in the wall.  A torus-shaped hole is revealed as Cɪrthsta returns to normal.

She hops back onto her Kinniwigg, and the rest of us scramble to do the same.  We are taken straight downwards, and eventually into a dome-shaped space that has many door-sized openings in it at floor-level.

“We’ll hafta go by foot from here on out,” she states the obvious.  The fifty-something openings are nowhere near big enough to fit a Kinniwigg.

We land, dismount, and Cɪrthsta tells the creatures to return home (I’m assuming).  They fly off and we follow Cɪrthsta as she heads directly towards one of the doorways.  Her light is the only thing illuminating our way down here.  It looks like she knows her way down here, so that’s promising.

The tunnel we took ultimately brought us to an underground outpost, that has been left uninhabited for a very long time.  We camped there for the night.

Cɪrthsta informed us that, starting tomorrow, our journey to the core would be fraught with tests, traps, and terrors of various shapes and forms.  Each of us will have our part to play before our journey’s end.