This first part was originally posted as “turn 10 supplement” on 11/21/1996.
Ziedon made his way from Grenzig, following the details of the map closely. He walked for days, until he finally came to a small hill. 'How could this be Rakbaven?' Ziedon thought. He checked and rechecked the map. He had seen all the landmarks encapsulated within that sloppy double circle on the map, so this hill, barely thirty feet high, had to be Rakbaven.
He spent the next several hours walking all over the mountain. Finally, exhausted from his travels and his search, he sat down to rest.
Hours later, he awoke with a start at a sudden noise. 'I must have fallen asleep,' he thought, as the moons had risen. Zabrigar shone brightly that night; it was almost two-thirds full, and its light prevented thousands of stars around it from being seen.
Ziedon turned around to find the source of the noise that awoke him, and saw an aged woman sitting behind him.
“You were asleep for hours,” she shrieked in an accent Ziedon did not recognize. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
Ziedon debated with himself whether it was wise to advertise his mission, but he decided it could not hurt anything to speak of it. “I am on a quest,” he spoke from within his hood, “to find a stone that glows when it touches metal.”
“Ah, the stone. It's in this mountain, you know.”
“It is? Can you show me where it is?”
“Show you? You'll have to find it for yourself, but I'll come with you. Here.” The woman led Ziedon to the top of the mountain, and stabbed her walking stick into the ground. Instead of resisting, the ground gave way and the stick passed right through it. “You get in through there.”
This is the original turn 15.
Ziedon looked at the old woman suspiciously. “Thank you for showing me the way. Is the stone guarded? Where did you come from? Am I free to just take one, or must I make a payment of some sort?”
“I have not shown half the way,” she shrieked. “You must find the path to the stone yourself. I know only the entrance.” She ended with that, showing no intention of answering the rest of Ziedon's hastily- asked questions. Ziedon was already beginning to mistrust this woman who appeared out of nowhere and gave no sign that she intended to help or request payment.
After gathering a few branches to use as torches, Ziedon slipped through the hole. He landed with a thud, instantly readying his staff to defend himself against possible danger. The ground beneath his feet was hard. Seeing no obvious sign of danger, he examined the ground more closely. The smooth floor did not look naturally formed, but as if it had been carefully made out of granite or harder rock. Although the floor was smooth, Ziedon did not slip on it.
Ziedon looked up and saw that he was in the center of an intersection between two straight tunnels. Each one curved downward according to the slope of the outer hill. The walls were covered in an unnatural-looking green moss.
On the ceiling above each tunnel was a stone plaque, words carved into each one so as to form a single riddle among them. Clockwise from the plaque Ziedon was facing, they read:1)
"The object which you seek can not be found in any tunnel other than the one which is farthest from the fourth. The second tunnel is not referred to by another plaque in any way." "'Tis hard to see, Which one can be, The dreaded tunnel number three." "One of the tunnels is across from this one." "The third tunnel is directly to the right of the first. If the fourth tunnel is directly to the left of the first, then the third is to the left of a tunnel."
Ziedon re-read each of the plaques and thought for several minutes. Finally, he concluded that he had two choices depending on what “farthest from the fourth” meant. It seemed that the order of the tunnels was 4,2,3,1. If “farthest from the fourth” was the farthest numerically, tunnel #1 was the correct choice. If “farthest” referred to distance, the correct tunnel would be the third. After reading the words “dreaded tunnel number three,” he decided that tunnel 3 must be the proper tunnel because only with danger is there reward.
Ziedon lit a torch and cautiously moved down what he thought was the third tunnel, trusting that he solved the riddle successfully.
He followed the tunnel's smooth downward slope for hours. As he progressed, he saw the moss on the walls thicken, and begin to cover parts of the floor and ceiling. Using his knowledge of herbalism, Ziedon examined the moss and determined that it was unlike any he had seen before. The moss reminded him of the slimy green ooze that passageways in children's stories are famous for. He was careful not to brush against it or let any falling moss from the ceiling hit him. The stories of dangerous plants were far too numerous for Ziedon to ignore them.
The passage turned ahead. A red-yellow light reflected off the wet moss lining the turn.
Soft footsteps sounded behind Zeidon. Instinctively, he swung his staff around and faced whatever lurked behind him, only to find the old woman from above the tunnels.
Ziedon looked at her with an arched eye-brow, “So tell me Ma'am, did I make the right choice?” Ziedon made himself look relaxed, but remained alert and prepared for an attack, listening intently to make sure that he would hear anything that tried to sneak up on him as he spoke with the old woman.
“How can I know on such matters? I know only that the rock is in the hill.”
Ziedon paused and then said, “I thought you could not enter?”
“I have said no such thing.”
“Why have you followed me? Do you have any other words of aid for me?”
The woman put a crooked finger to her parched lips and pointed down the tunnel. Ziedon looked in the direction she was pointing and saw the same shifting glare off the moss ahead. He scowled at the woman, but assumed from her action that there was good reason to be silent.
'Who is this woman to give me such orders?' he thought. 'She taunts me with her presence. She plainly knows the way that I must head. Should I attempt to force it from her? No, that is not the way, I will play her game, and eventually I will beat her.'
Ziedon continued cautiously down the tunnel until he reached the bend. He glanced around around the corner, readying his staff. The first thing he noticed was that the moss became much thicker around the bend. If the tunnel did not change its height or width significantly, the moss would have to cover all surfaces, a foot or two thick, making the tunnel look only six feet wide and equally high, instead of the large ten by eight feet it was before. There was not much of the stuff on the ceiling, but what was there hung down in short, tentacle-like formations.
The next thing he noticed was a bonfire burning about twenty feet down the tunnel.
As his eyes adjusted to the bright light and new surroundings, he noticed movement in the thick moss. It looked as if patches of moss temporarily formed into small creatures, no more than an inch tall, with demonic green eyes and tiny, sharp claws. He could not tell whether they were moving within the moss, or if they were part the moss itself.
Suddenly, he caught the glance of a single one of the creatures. It gazed directly into his eyes, and he jumped back, into the more familiar tunnel section.
Ziedon paused for a moment to think. He tentatively pulled some moss off of the wall and placed it on the ground. It took some time to get all of the sticky, slimy moss off of his fingers and on to the smooth rock surface. He tried to set it on fire with his torch. The fire barely affected it at all. After a few minutes trying to burn the moss, it was only slightly darker than when he began to heat it. He picked up some of the moss and rubbed his fingers together, watching it flake to the floor. The moss was dry, but apparently, it was also fireproof.
Zeidon looked once again around the tunnel bend. If this was the correct tunnel, and it seemed to be as it fit the description “dreaded tunnel number three,” he would have to pass this obstacle if he wanted to retrieve the stone. He held his staff and torch tightly and tried to hurriedly move through the moss, ducking low to avoid the hanging plants.
He quickly realized what a poor estimation of the situation he had made. His attempt to run through the thick moss resulted in a sudden tumble and fall. His feet sank quickly into the sticky moss, and he fell on his face, almost suffocating in the slimy green substance. By the time he struggled to his feet, he found himself covered in the stuff. He wiped most of it off of his face and looked about. The little creatures were all around him. Some stared at him with surprised looks on their demonic faces, and others approached slowly, dipping in and out of the moss. He looked down and was shocked to see the same creatures dipping in and out of the moss on his own body. They were smaller than the others, but were certainly there. Only a few feet into the tunnel, he looked back at the old woman, to see the frightened look on her face as she ducked back behind the corner.
“In for a copper piece,” Ziedon muttered before continuing on towards the fire as quickly as he safely could, while trying to wipe off as much of the moving moss as possible from his body.
As he approached the fire, he noticed more and more of the little creatures moving through the moss. By the time he was ten feet from the fire, there was so much movement that the moss looked like it was bubbling. The tiny creatures moving along his body did not seem to be doing any harm, and they slipped off with the rest of the moss as he wiped his cloak, but their presence was still unnearving, as he was still thickly covered.
Ziedon began to feel the heat of the fire that was almost as wide and tall as the tunnel. He tried to look through the flames, but saw only vague, green shadows that gave no hint as to its depth. He felt that he could traverse the fire if he could gather the willpower to do so. The fire stayed about six inches from the wall. If he could run through that part, he might be relatively safe. He pulled his black hood over his head and tucked his chin into his chest. Looking at the bubbling moss around him, he hoped that its fire-resistant properties would last long enough to take him through the fire. He threw his staff as hard as he could into the left side of the fire to clear the flames and ran. The staff did not have as much effect as he had hoped, but even that small advantage could not be wasted.
Ziedon started to run through the fire.
As soon as he stepped a foot inside, he tripped a little and landed on solid rock. He caught his balance, and was happy to discover that there seemed to be no moss within the flames. The heat did not give him much time to think about it, however, so he leaned forward and ran as fast as he could. The moss served him well. He felt the heat increasing, but was not being burned. As soon as it looked like he was near the end of the fire, he dove.
The heat was almost unbearable. The drying moss began to flake off as it rubbed against the smooth rock floor, and he felt his cloak burning. He continued to roll. It could not have been more than half a second since he dove, but it seemed an immesurable length of time. He lost all feeling on his skin. He begin to feel faint, but resisted the urge to pass out. If he slept, he would not be able to direct his roll. He kept the image of burning alive in this hidden tunnel at the front of his mind to keep him awake. Three quarters of a second had passed, and his muscles begin to weaken. His head began to feel hot – not the scalp – he no longer had feeling there – but inside. There could not have been a fever that gave worse pain than this. He wanted to sleep. He was blinded by the bright light of the fire, and he could no longer tell if he was rolling in the right direction. A second had passed. Just a moment of sleep… He could sleep and when he woke up it would all be gone; just a dream. Yes, it had to be a dream. He could barely remember coming to this passage. A dream – that is why everything was dark. If I were rolling through a fire, it would be light, and hot. It is dark and cold. No, it isn't cold. It's just right. No temperature at all. But my head! Why does my head hurt; it's only a dream. Maybe if I go to sleep my head will stop hurting, and I will wake up and open my eyes. Yes, now I'll just lie down right here – where? It doesn't matter. Wasn't I rolling? No. If I was rolling, I would feel it. I can't feel anything. Now I'll just sleep. Yes, sleep…
The next part is on its way. Stay tuned. :)
Original notes from “turn 10 supplement”
For the next turn, do whatever you want, but make sure to stay in character.
Now that you're separated from the group, I think I'm going to change the style of the next few turns. What I might do is send you bits of turns based on your responses, and when you rejoin the group, you can fit all the bits into a first-person narrative, where you tell the group what's happened. Alternitavely, I can just send you the supplementary turns, and then say “Ziedon told them what had happened” or something when you rejoin. What do you think of those ideas? If you have any other ideas as to how to work this, please tell me. Also, we might want to send messages over the internet to keep the other players from knowing what's happening until Ziedon has a chance to tell them. Please respond to this supplement through internet email, because your response will likely warrent a counter-response.
Sorry for the bit of intrusion I made on your character. If Ziedon said anything in this turn that he shouldn't have, please tell me. I hoped I knew him well enough that I could predict his response, but there's no way I could know him as well as you do.
Calendar: It is the sixteenth day of the eighth month of Halkak.
Later note (10/4/1999)
After some prodding by Nathan (Johannes), I realized that the puzzle in this turn wasn't really solvable, so I created a new one. Have fun!
1: “An object of power is hidden in no other tunnel than that which is farthest from the fourth. All tunnels are the same, but only this one shall dare speak of the second.”
2: “Unearthly souls who formed this place,
Who hid their lives in tight embrace,
They do not know how to retrace,
From whence has dreaded three evolved,
But elsewhere here and far from sorrow,
Come you to steal or come to borrow,
Whether today or 'till the morrow,
This puzzle can be soundly solved.”
3: “Another tunnel is across from this one.”
4: “If the third tunnel is directly to the right of the first, then another tunnel is to the first's left. If the fourth tunnel is directly to the left of the third, then the third is across from the tunnel to the left of the fourth. If neither of those is the case, then this tunnel is to the left of the tunnel to the left of the first.”
Edit 1/8/2013: Not sure what day exactly this turn was played until, so I'm pretending it was the first of the month.