Dear reader, I hereby present to you a chronicle of the events that have unfolded in this great otherly world of Tel Loiryn. It will not read like most other tales. Due to a lack of information concerning the specifics and details, much will have to be omitted, especially with dialogue and movement, and even with character thoughts. However, it is my pleasure to announce forthwith that all of the important relevant information is known, and presented in this chronicle wherever it may help to clarify the situation.
--Yunzhong Hou, Chronicler
The World of Tel LoirynEdit
A long time ago, the world of Tel Loiryn, which was originally just another land, was warped into a permutated version of itself, through the discovery of a wondrous and powerful source of magical potential that was gradually interwoven throughout the world. This was done through, and allowed the further development of, various artifacts--objects from the ethereal world with minds of their own, that channeled this power, and allowed the world to evolve to what it is like today.
Tel Loiryn as it is today is an extremely arcane existence, with many things terribly distorted by the power of the artifacts--some for good, some for bad, and some with indeterminate results. But as more layers are added, it is becoming increasingly hard to decode and unlock the secrets of the past, to gain access to the great riddles of the world. The arcane forces so pervasive throughout the world have resulted in a strange synergy of unmotivated solutions to esoteric riddles, with unexpected effects and shocking consequences.
Such a world cannot last for long without society becoming excessively tired with the tedious process of unraveling the mysteries of the ages--many of them long lost along with their creators. It is on this background that the newest law proclaimed a major undertaking to break these age-old secrets, and making life as we know it much simpler and undistorted. However, great achievements are never so easily done as said. It would take a unity of several brilliant minds before the barriers to such enlightenment may be unlocked, one after another, in a steady progression into the distant antiquity. So, who shall take up this challenge? Who will protect the esoterica? Who will side with the various artifacts discovered along the way, and who will succumb to the lust for power?
--The Oracle of Tashra
And now the tale commences.
Qura was a modest blonde thirteen-year-old girl with a love for the unusual when she first came across an artifact. It had seemed just too good to be true: here was an object of seemingly unfathomable power, miraculously handed over to a youngster, innocent and unknowledgeable of the ways of the world, for her to analyze and befriend.
For the artifact was to be befriended, and over the course of one year, Qura had gotten to know it very well. The artifact was a long rod, made of the crisp brilliant sunshine of pure gold, and at first sight she had fallen in love with it. If that was possible, because after all it was an object--though a not so passive one at that. The rod seemed to be in command of itself, and Qura fancied seeing it dancing on the floor of her home, oblivious to all the worries of humanity, content to spend away all the many years of its perhaps eternal life. In fact, she seemed to have heard whispers emanate from within its core, maybe the first rumblings of something far greater, which she could just possibly come to appreciate some time later. But for now, she would have to encounter more artifacts, before drawing any conclusions.
This was not so easily accomplishable a goal. Artifacts were extremely rare, and at any point those who possessed them seldom took the chance to bespeak of them in public, lest they get stolen. After all, it didn't take a brilliant mind to realize that these were objects to be treasured for one's entire life--items of such value as to be immeasurable. It was rumored that each artifact had its own, unique purpose; and that there were many of them, mostly hidden too far into the muddy past to ever become unearthed again. Thus, whenever one of them could be found in particular, it was likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. And it could also be highly rewarding to whoever received it.
Even the golden rod that Qura now possessed brought with it tremendous value--significances which the young girl had only gradually been able to discover. These abilities were not all self-evident the moment one came in contact with them, but slipped out from secrecy every once in a while in specific circumstance. Qura had a wary eye having a peculiar and not all too common an interest in such artifacts, and thus she noticed whenever it did something unusual.
But the artifact finally demonstrated its uniqueness when one day as a strange monstrous creature charged her while she was strolling through the forest, the goldenrod suddenly charged itself full of a swift and bedazzling energy, and a bolt of blue-white light coursed through the air, into the flesh of the beast and searing it into rigor mortis.
It was the first time anyone had laid sight on a gargantuan beast. The corpse, all covered in thick resistant hair and hard flesh, had towered some twelve feet high before it fell, and was at least three feet wide and thick. Now it remained still, embraced by death, as the young Qura fled down the verdant path homeward, away from the immobile creature, to tell her parents of what exactly she had seen.
It was the first time humanity had caught view of a gargantuan, but it proved not to be the last. Nor the second last. At first only a handful of them prowled the distant forests, and the children were bidden never to head into its dark interior. But that was in the beginning, when the adults did not view them to be a serious threat. Over the course of some three weeks, however, these towering forms were detected wandering within a mile of the coastal encampments. Little would the denizens know that that one day would be the last day peace would flitter through men's souls, for a long time to come.
That night, over a dozen gargantuans lumbered down the forested hills, their heavy bodies acting much as ring mail armor in deflecting the paltry weapons that the humans were able to bring to bear. That night saw four of them collapse in the heat of battle, driven to bloodlust by some dark influence in the heart of darkness.
It was also the twilight of exodus, as all the citizens fled with barely any possessions into the dark caves and forests, seeking refuge from these otherworldly invaders. The power of humanity in this sector of the land had been broken. The only hope lay to the East, where there was the possibility that the great city of Aninta may hold out against the siege of juggernauts.
Rising to the ChallengeEdit
Aninta was at the time a most glorious of cities, with thousands of people milling about, doing their work. At the time the many people fleeing from the destroyed settlement arrived at the gates of this magnificent complex, it had been three days of journeying. Many of those who had fled were lost, and others had been caught by wandering gargantuan beasts slain or worse. Roughly half of those who began the exodus had arrived by the fourth day since the razing.
The influx of these peoples aroused quite a commotion, climaxing with a visit to His Majesty the King of the all the human realm of Tel Loiryn. A noble figure, he was sure of himself when he thus declared that a terrible tragedy had befallen the loyal citizens of now perished settlement, and ordered his soldiers to be on the lookout for any signs of trouble. He also ordered scouting parties to hunt for the gargantuans, and bring back any survivors. In his proclamation, the King also declared a state of emergency.
Yet, most knew that the palatial guards could do little to defend the jewel city. Had the King seen the battle of three days prior, he would be of a like mind, and this, the newcomers quickly told him. The King refused to listen on the surface, knowing that to do so would cause fear to strike into the very hearts of his people, something he had to avoid. And thus, he did his best to keep life going as usual, with the consequence that when the gargantuans finally decided to attack Aninta, many were caught off guard.
What he had tried to prevent came back to haunt him, as the ensuing battle continued, his forces were nearly beaten. Only with the help of the bolt of bluish white light from Qura's goldenrod coursed through the air, was the city saved, as half of the otherworldly invaders were electrocuted or slain, and the others, howling in terror, fled from the battlefield. The guards were all shocked for several moments, but took pleasure in knowing that all was not lost. Indeed, they took heart in Qura's victory, and not before long the cries of victory could be heard throughout the jeweled city of Aninta, and its sound of joyous cry, reached the ears of the King himself.
The King knew when something miraculous has transpired; he did not simply disregard the rapidly spreading tales of how the young girl, named Qura, of a mere thirteen springs had granted them a victory far greater than all of his protectors combined. And with this victory in hand he sent out an edict summoning this little girl to the royal court, along with her treasured weapon.
The King was eager to learn about the artifact that Qura had found, and which she of course, willingly showed him. After hearing the reports of what it had accomplished, he knew what power this item held within, could very well save humanity. Qura turned down his offer of an escort to protect the artifact, knowing all too well that any escort would wish to seize the golden beam away from her, to use for their own, possibly twisted, purposes. She could only be sure of herself, she told him, and the king acquiesced, knowingly.
That evening the King held a session before the main open square of Aninta, with Qura by his side and all decked out in a fancy, pearly, and flowing dress, completely attired with royal crest and tiara. Before the crowds eager to learn what had occurred and eager to lay a good sight on their heroine, the King proclaimed Qura his own adopted daughter, whom he would care for, and protect, from any harm that may get in the way. In the midst of the applause and the raucous noise, Qura began to weep. When pressed to explain, she softly announced that her very parents, indeed her entire family, was either lost or dead, somewhere in the vast stretch of land from her now-destroyed home and Aninta.
At the same meeting, the King also declared a challenge for any who dared to accept: to seek out any more artifacts in the wide world, and to use them for the advancement and protection of all humanity. There were plenty of people brave enough to venture forth; Qura herself was testament to the fact that any who succeeded in claiming only one object of power would surely gain tremendous power himself. The one trouble was that no one knew where any such might be found, nor how many existed, how to use them, and even if any others existed at all. Nevertheless, many were determined to at least try.
Even Qura decided to try. Despite being awarded a luxurious life and the priceless attachment to the King himself, she decided that her role was not to sit back, but to venture forth into the wild and dark unknown. The King urged caution, as before long he absolutely adored the charming girl whom he had adopted, not only for her own safety but for the safety of Aninta. Who would protect it, if not Qura and her lightning rod?
Yet at the same time, the King acknowledged that if no other artifacts were found soon, then if the one artifact were suddenly lost, broken, or wasted away, then there would be no protection for humanity either. Wise as he was, he realized that sending the young Qura on her own expedition would probably be more rewarding than sending all the others. After all, it was her who had found this first artifact for as far back a time as anyone could possibly recall.
Qura, with her goldenrod in hand, slipped out of the palace that very same night, unnoticed by anyone, to search for her destiny in the great wide world of Tel Loiryn...
The Candle Holder of LightEdit
The first place Qura headed was back into the woods that separated Aninta from her former home, and where she hoped to be able to rescue her family, if they were in fact, still alive. The woods became progressively darker as one went deeper and deeper into its heart until the trails disappeared. At that time there was no path that connected the two settlements, and so gradually Qura became lost herself. By nightfall, she had trekked for so long that she had become excessively tired. Collapsing on the soft earthen ground, she fell swiftly into a deep sleep.
Waking up and scrambling to her knees as she heard a booming noise. Rubbing her eyes open only to lay sight on the monstrous figure marching some distance from her. A gargantuan! The beast halted its advance suddenly after it saw her and the artifact she was holding, shimmering as if an inner light trying to burst free. The gargantuan, seeing the item in her hand knew it from the battle for Aninta. In a bewildered stare, as Qura, leaping to her feet, with the goldenrod in hand, pointed the artifact at the monstrosity general direction. Sensing the danger, the beast instinctively knew not to press on in her direction and broke off into a run in the other direction.
With that surprising turn of event, slowly lowering the goldenrod, she asked herself. Was it fear? Qura, now fully awake and on her small feet, chased after the beast. Constantly thwarted by the excessive bramble around her, she could only follow the beast at a slower pace and quickly lost sight of it. Only the beast's lumbering noise alerted her of its general direction. Inquisitive as she was, she eagerly followed in its auditory wake. Some minutes later she had come to stand before a great cave, which she had never been told about before, peeking out of some great rocky outcrop.
Qura, feeling unsure, tentatively walked into the ever embracing darkness within--the cave seemed still and silent, and slightly damp from the morning dew. Wielding her goldenrod tightly in her hand, she advanced forward, to the opposite side of the room. There was, for some reason, a door, and Qura immediately jumped to the conclusion that someone was within--probably, her mind rapidly concluded, had summoned these gargantuan creatures to begin with. Slowly, placing her hand on the door, she slowly twisting at the makeshift handle of the door--Locked. So that was it--she had no key, so she couldn't advance into whatever that lied on the opposite side of this door. She turned to go back, and went out of the cave atrium back into the forest.
Then, all of a sudden, she heard a sound behind her, and whirled around to see what it was. Nothing. Perhaps her senses were playing tricks on her? But in the end she decided to test the door again, just in case someone had went in through it. And this time, for some strange reason, the door opened, revealing a well-crafted, large rectangular room that seemed as if it had been excavated by hand--for it definitely was not natural. Yet the room was even darker in here, and the far end was shrouded in a veil of opaque blackness.
She took another step forward, and the door behind her closed--bang, leaving her in total blackness. And now it was locked, leaving Qura trapped in a new environment she had yet to explore, and which probably would not afford an exit. She quickly tested the rest of the chamber for any exits, and found two doors--both of which were locked. With every moment becoming more worried about her fate, she went pleadingly to the center of the large room, and sighed at last as she felt what was a key. Quickly, she crossed over to the first door, passed the key into it, and turned the knob. It opened. But when she went to extract the key, she felt its very essence disappearing in her hand, and nearly cried out in shock.
This third room was just as dark as before, and Qura once again felt around the rectangular chamber for any exits. There was only one. But this time, as she neared the center of the room, she tripped over a corpse, and cried out in agony. As if triggered, the other door opened out suddenly, and Qura quickly regained her composure as a gargantuan came lumbering in from the next room. She quickly scurried over to the next room, and closed the door. The beast turned around, roared, and struck the door, knocking Qura (on the other side) into the far wall and breaking the door open with a mighty slam.
Qura raised her rod, then realized that she was trapped in the underground complex anyway and thus killing the creature might not do her much good. She felt around for another door and found one, all the while evading the brute's wild blows. Then she called out to the brute, while with her back to the door, then suddenly ran out of the way as the beast's infuriated blow smashed down the next door like it were a mere stack of hay. Qura immediately ran into it.
And was nearly blinded. In a sharp, glorious contrast to the previous rooms, this one was nearly scintillating with the energies exuding from a single object in the middle of the chamber--a candle-holder, with a brilliant flare burning inches above it, as if supported by an invisible candle of immense energy. All manner of colors streaked out from it, casting brilliant light all around the room. Astonished, Qura took a moment to look around at the fancily decorated wall patterns, before the beast behind her lunged again, tossing her to the ground and injecting a swift pain into her as she crashed. Instinctively, she held out her lightning rod, and for an instant a bluish-white streak of energy zapped out from the bejeweled tip and coursed through the creature. It collapsed without uttering a sound, leaving Qura gaping over her near escape.
The candle-holder took its own initiative and flew into Qura's outstretched hand, its holding-ring fitting into Qura's index finger of its own accord and its light dimming considerably so that it would not be so blinding to her. "What?" she exclaimed nearly silently, watching this artifact in surprise. "How could you--"
The candle-holder's brilliant white flame then created patterns of heavy smoke which drifted upward with ease. The light below played patterns on this smoke, so that Qura could read out the smoky words: "You have proven your inner light." Qura could only slightly nod, though later she would understand what it meant. In the meantime, she was stunned by this other ability as well, and turned to her golden rod. Only then did she see the words etched on the rod, which she could have sworn before had been perfectly un-etched, spelling out "Yes, I can do that too."
"Wow," she muttered at last. "So you two are both intelligent artifacts! And I seem to be good enough for you?" She didn't need to see them spell out words in agreement to know the answer. Already, she was retracing her steps, walking back out the way she came. And this time around, all of the doors seemed to open on their own, as if their master ordered it thus.
The Spinner of FateEdit
At the cave entrance, Qura sat down and began to eat some of the food she had brought along with her for her journey. Such edible things were marvelous tasty treats, as were all the palatial feasts; and now that she was part of the royal family, in a way, she had this battery of plentiful sustenance every day.
But at long last she realized, with a start, that she had forgotten about the other door in the second room. So, communicating this to her two new found friends, she ventured forth, back into the unknown darkness, but this time armed with an enchanted brilliance. The uncrossed door opened of its own accord, and the streaming light came through. Just as she stepped in, however, she crashed into a hidden pit on the ground, and tumbled through, landing with a crashing halt onto a pile of hay on the floor below. For a few seconds, she was stunned. Then, as she got back up, she realized that the room above was now so far up that it was definitely out of reach.
For a moment she lambasted herself at having decided to chance her luck once again after nearly getting killed several times. For around her were eight doors leading to eight passageways to who knew where. She was at least able to console herself with the knowledge that at least she was armed and that there was now quite a lot of light. She randomly chose a door, and it opened of its own accord. She peered down the long passageway, the far end of which was hidden in light's absence.
Qura rushed down the corridor, all the while looking on the walls for any hints. At first there were none. But at the far end of the hallway, instead of a dead end, she found another door--and stepped in through it, without first giving thought to what she was doing.
The door suddenly closed behind her. All of a sudden, she felt particularly dizzy, as the entire room began to spin around her, and she collapsed onto the ground. Then, just as abruptly, the spinning came to a halt, leaving her with no idea which door she had come in through, nor which one to take. For this one also had eight doors.
Qura was beginning to become desperate, and so she used her rod to break down the door she opened next, revealing another long corridor. Qura rushed down the passageway once again, then opened the door at the far side, which opened into another octagonal room with eight doors. She lost her grip, and stumbled into the room, and it begun spinning again, faster than she could focus her eyes. When it had come to a stop, she once again did not know which door was which.
But as she looked at the eight doors, opening them and peering down the long corridors, she noticed that one of the doors on the far side had been broken down, and decided to go to that one. After the spinning subsided, she saw that one of the eight doors had been broken down. On a hunch, she used her rod to break down the seven other doors, then walked down one of the corridors. When she finished the walk once again, she came across an octagonal room with eight doors, of which every door was broken except for the one she was currently going through to get into that room. And then she knew what was going on--every time she went down a corridor, it revolved, or "flipped".
But the only reason for this whole maze to have been fabricated was both confuse and conceal something valuable within its construct; probably another artifact. One of these eight doors must lead somewhere. She went down another door, noting that the door she had just gone through was not broken down. She went to the far side of the corridor, and arrived back at what she knew must have been the same room. Only now, the door she was coming through was not broken down, nor was one other. The remaining six doors were all broken down. It was these that she went to visit next.
Six corridor-runs later, she arrived back at the same room. But one of them should have concealed something. She took a minute to think things through. Now all eight doors were once again not broken down. But then she recalled that the corridors themselves must have spun around, so, choosing a door, she walked halfway into the corridor, then turned back and came out the door she had come in through. Her door was not broken down, but neither were any of the others. The far side of her corridor, however, was broken down; none of the others were.
So she stepped into the new octagonal room and took a short ladder, before walking back into the corridor which had a broken door on the far side. Going in halfway and coming back out brought her into a room with eight doors leading to eight corridors, on the far side of which all the doors were broken down, ie. the first door. She placed her ladder on the door she came out through, using it as a marker of which paths she had retrieved a ladder from.
Qura then went down the other seven corridors. As she expected, each of them led to a room with a small ladder. Finally, after returning back to the original room, she had recovered all eight ladders. She found where they could be combined to form a much longer ladder, placed it in the center of the room, and climbed upwards. As she went, the entire room below her turned.
Then she realized that she didn't have enough of a stretch to reach the top from which she had fallen. But she was able to access another, intermediate floor level from the stretch of ladder. As she stepped onto solid ground once again, she sighed as she saw what seemed to be another part of the maze, yet she found a queer spinner, gilded but particularly light. It began whirring in a frenzy, its spinner causing such a disturbance in the air that it effectively pulled itself off the ground and hovered into Qura's hand while she could only watch in surprise.
Boy of the WaterfallEdit
"And I suppose you also think that I've passed your test," voiced the teenaged girl. "Are you going to tell me what you can do?" The spinner turned to life, spinning itself for a second before calming down. That same second saw a remarkable transformation in the maze around her, as the parts of it rearranged, forming a direct pathway, which she then took.
Before long she found herself at an alternate exit of the cave, no longer in the forest, but situated in an expanse of hills, with a stream of crystal-clear water flowing nearby. At the very sight of it, Qura exclaimed to the spinner in joy, "thanks!" Then she added, "I think I've had enough for one day..." She settled down beside the sparkling flowing stream and fell asleep.
When Qura woke up, it was morning. "Well, where should I go now?" she mused to herself. But to her surprise the spinner answered, turning around and around before coming to a halt, with its sharp point directing her upstream. "Why, you want me to go there, for some reason?" she asked, and took a more careful look at the spinner. There were 24 marks on it, each one corresponding to a letter. The spinner flipped to ehwaz, then to eihwaz, then sowulo. Yes. Qura could only nod; amazed by the diversity of the three artifacts she had so far come across.
She continued her long march, with the candle-holder splattering its brilliant glow as she went and the other two caressed carefully in her hands. Gradually, as the sun raised higher overhead, she found herself in more rocky environments--all places she had never been to before. She could sense that they were heading higher and higher upward, possibly toward a mountain. But she had no idea where she was, and did not know where to go except to follow the directives of the spinner.
The sparse trees beside the river gave way to immense boulders and monoliths, cliffs and crevices, as she took the riverside path upstream. At one point she heard the sounds of falling water, and immediately felt thirsty. It was another half an hour before she finally reached a terrifically beautiful waterfall amidst all the mountainous cliffs, and by then she was utterly exhausted, so she drank from the pristine liquid and ate some more of her food. She realized with a start that her pack was becoming light--not a good sign, now that she was totally lost.
When she had finished recuperating, she turned to look at the spinner again--but now it was pointed at the waterfall. "What?" she asked confused, looking at the beautiful sight of falling, splashing water. The spinner rotated once, and then settled in that direction once again. "How am I supposed to go through that?" But this time the artifact stayed still.
Sighing, Qura (still wearing the pearly dress) stepped into the pool of water around the waterfall. "Okay, I'll listen to you, but I tell you I'll get drenched," she warned, before passing right through the wet, pressing cascade.
Once underneath the coursing falls, Qura looked around, seeing a very empty stone wall of a cliff. There was no way through, but the spinner continued pointing at the wall, so she turned to her candle-holder. "Could I have some more light please?" she asked, and immediately the scintillating flame burst into its greatest brilliance, its shining splendor illuminating the walls with such brilliance as they had never before encountered. The illumination shone across the entire wall, and made it all brighter, but for a small part of the rock face which was now obvious in its relative dimness. Qura peered closer.
This is a desert.
It simply was not true that this rocky place, with a river coursing straight through it, could be a desert. She would prove it to those words, she thought, gathering some of the waterfall's water in her hands and flinging it at them. It was child's play, but she did not expect the rock to simply melt away like wet sand. Within moments a large hole had appeared in the rock face, revealing an inner chamber.
Overwhelmed with curiosity, Qura stepped into the cave--and peered at a complacent boy who held a sword in his hand--a golden, bejeweled one. "Are you the girl of destiny?" he asked.
"I'm Qura," was her reply. But the next moment the spinner spun itself into the air between the two.
"Ah, yes. Qura? You've taken longer than I had hoped, Qura." He gave a slight frown. "The King's quest to find the artifacts is now well under way. So far, only a candle-holder and this spinner have been uncovered. We still have many more to go."
Qura couldn't understand why the spinner had suddenly abandoned her, and warily wielded her lightning rod. "Why 'we'?"
"I see, not a good time for this, eh?" The boy replied rather suddenly. Just as Qura was about to protest, he ran back out of the cave through the entrance that Qura had made. In frustration, Qura banged her head on a wall. But then she had a bit of inspiration, and looked at the spinner, which now pointed back outside. She turned and went in that direction, expecting to find him again soon.
But when she emerged from the cliff face she confronted a dazing sandstorm. Turning around, she saw that the rock had sealed itself shut, and the words still said 'this is a desert'. Now that it was correct, Qura deduced, water won't break through it...