There were five of us..... all brave adventurers. Well, to be honest, all but
one of us were brave, but more of our cowardly dwarf companion later.
The strongest amongst us was a Ranger who went by the name of Lone. Tall he
was, and fast in battle. Our cleric was a fellow called Clarence, He
worshipped the god Illo. Illo is the god of life so we knew Clarence's ability
to return the dead to life (when his god heard his prayers) would come in
handy in our quest. You'd think that Clarence would be a man of peace because
of his god's distaste for battle but, don't you believe it. I was surprised to
see how often he threw himself into the front ranks of some our biggest
battles. What can I say about the next member of our band? Fidget is a dwarf.
He's quite strong, moderately fast, certainly not stupid - and the biggest
coward in Ymros. But his skill at disarming traps would be useful so we put up
with his whingeing. Apart from anything else, he made a good pack-horse!
Our wizard was a canny fellow called Izzy. Izzy is a dark elf, skilled in item
lore and learned in fire runes. And me? I'm Zeke, the leader. I may not be the
fastest or strongest but I'm the smartest and when you're hunting big game,
brains can be very useful.
We met up by the ruined village of Ildryn. Clarence bowed his head at the
sight of the ruins but the rest of us (except Fidget) were itching to get our
hands on some weapons and bash some heads! So our first stop was the nearby
town of Seaside. I bought myself a short sword and Lone grabbed a mace while
the other three settled for knives. A quick stop in camp outside town and we
were equipped and ready for a scrap.
While we were in Seaside, we heard a useful rumour in the tavern. Evidently,
an evil priest, name of Jesric, had gone off on a quest for a powerful
crystal. He was working for someone called Eregore. Clarence said we should
remember those names in case we met up with them in the future.
Our next stop was the College of Hunting where Lone learnt to hunt. We knew it
would save a lot of gold if he could supply our provisions rather than us
stocking up at the tavern and paying their exorbitant prices. For the same
reason, we agreed to camp out whenever possible rather than staying in inns.
The sooner we got a decent amount of gold behind us, the sooner we could hire
a ship and set sail for more adventures. Even Izzy seemed quite excited at the
prospect of a bit of sea-travel.
The town of Elborat was our next stopping place. And there, things started to
get interesting. In the tavern, an old woman told us how her house had been
burnt to the ground by kobolds. Their camp was to the south and their leader
was a brute called Uffspgot. I saw a gleam in Lone's eye and we grinned at
each other. "Come on", I said, and, as one, we turned and left Elborat,
The kobold camp wasn't far and inside were several camp fires and tents. We
prowled round cautiously. Several tents were empty but others contained living
quarters for the kobolds. In another, a woman was being harassed by some of
the foul creatures. None of the groups of kobolds lasted long! The woman
thanked us and rushed out of the tent - who could blame her?!
One tent contained maps which showed that towns other than Ildryn had been
attacked. In another, Clarence spotted something; a scroll half-burnt in a
fire. He read it out to us. "It's hard to make out the words" he said "It's
very badly charred. Ah, hang on, .... cult worships Xeres .... catacombs under
the Temple of Gamur" he looked questioningly at us, but none of us had heard
of it either. "Here's another useful bit" he added, "ermm .... codeword -x-".
Izzy gave one of his rare smiles and said "better look for this temple then".
Continuing round the camp, we finally found Uffspgot's tent. He had 2 kobolds
and 2 orcs with him - no problem. Before we attacked, we heard him say to one
of the kobolds, "we do not attack again till my master Xeres commands it". By
the time we had finished with him, his master would have to shout very, very
loud for Uffspgot to hear him. By now, we were feeling pretty good. I
celebrated by learning the mace at the College in Akistu. Izzy suggested we
head for the Guild in New Gleon to see if we were ready for advancement. We
were! On our way back across the island, we stopped at the College of Potion
Lore for Izzy to do some studying. I won't bore you with our minor battles,
though some were quite spectacular - and lucrative. Just let me say that we
found plenty to occupy our sword-arms and we NEVER ran away, not even Fidget,
though he tried to keep out of the action as much as he could.
Travelling north again, we found a tunnel leading under the sea to an island.
We walked warily through it. In one side room full of mist, an old man met us.
He warned that the one we were seeking was just a puppet. He added that the
puppeteer was eternal and his talons far-reaching. Leaving him, we continued
onwards. At the end of the tunnel, we saw a message painted in blood. Fidget
read it out and blanched. "Beyond this point lies the temple of the Death
Lord, not a place for those who cherish their lives". Lone just managed to
grab the back of Fidget's trousers before the cowardly dwarf headed back for
Inside the temple, we gave the codeword and were shown to a stairway at the
back. Lone pushed Fidget to the front to check for traps. I must admit that
considering how much his hands were shaking, he didn't miss one.
Down the south corridor, we found the words "gloriosus victime" carved on a
wall. In a room further down, Izzy found a scroll and we moved a bookcase to
find another exit. Through this doorway was a morgue of sorts. A man lay in a
glass case in suspended animation. "Leave him till later" suggested Izzy so we
went back to the corridor and turned left. In a laboratory, a cage of rats
caught Fidget's eye (he must have been hungry) but Clarence picked up two
vials of serum, one red and one blue which he handed to Izzy.
Back to the stairway and north. Past another trap and into a guardroom. A
quick scrap, then on to the next fight with a group of Xeres' followers in
another room. Then we retraced our steps to the other branch of this northern
corridor. In one room, I noticed a trail of footprints leading to a wall and
stopping dead. Closer investigation showed us a secret tunnel.
It was hard to map and several times we got lost. But eventually we came to
the end of the tunnel and a Skull Room. Three passages led off. Two of them
split, each leading to an armoury. In each one, a piece of weaponry or armour
lay begging to be taken. But hovering round them in each case were some
glowing spheres. Should we try to take them? While we hesitated in the first
room which contained a special mace, Izzy solved the problem and grabbed the
mace. At once, he was surrounded by will 'o wisps. But they were easy to
defeat and soon all four items were ours.
In another room, we found the words "forward 3 and right 1 will get you out of
a crush" carved into the floor. We had no idea what it referred to but I felt
we'd missed something so we returned to the main passages. Back in the lab,
Clarence (bless his bald pate) found a secret passage. We found a food storage
area and a workshop with, among other things, a mallet. At the end of the
corridor was a temple. Moving the altar, we discovered yet another secret
passage and cautiously proceeded down it.
Part way along, I heard the whirring of massive machinery. "This is it, guys",
I said, "remember the carving .... forward 3 and right 1" and dashed forward
following this pattern, the others hard on my heels. A bit further and we came
upon a black doorway carved with gold runes. Listening, we could hear chanting
coming from behind it. A hobgoblin stood between us and the door, but not for
long, and with him dead on the ground, we hurtled through the doorway, past
the body of the dead hobgoblin, and found ourselves in a black room. In front
of us was a ghostly, white figure, Remondadin. Lone led the attack, and the
five of us, working together as never before, finally defeated him. With
Remondadin dead, the black room was strangely silent.
On our explorations under the Temple of Gamur, we had already noticed a group
of wizards praying in the underground temple, but not to Gamur - they were
praying to the evil Xeres. Clearly, these catacombs were only part of a small
cult that worshipped Xeres, the demon who had destroyed Ildryn. It was also
clear to us that we must find Xeres himself before he found us.
We left the black room through a doorway to the south and found ourselves back
in the main Temple. However, Clarence reminded us about the man in the glass
case and pointed at the mallet that Fidget was carrying. So we returned to the
With one swing of the mallet, the case was shattered and we could see the man
more clearly but he still didn't respond. Izzy looked closer. "He's in a deep
trance ...... I wonder ...." and reaching into his pocket he pulled out the
two vials of serum that Clarence had found in the laboratory and given to him.
He examined the man, who stared vacantly into space. "I'll have to risk it" he
said, and gave him a mouthful of the blue serum.
Suddenly, the man sat up., a wild expression on his face. "Qoorik!, I've seen
it!" he cried and grabbed at Izzy's shoulders in a frenzy. "They tried to shut
me up, but I've seen it! Its entrance is hidden in the forest to the
north-west of Idlewood." As if his body had given up the last of its strength,
he slumped back onto the slab. Izzy shook his head and sighed. "He is still
alive but only barely; we will get no more help from him. Leave him in peace"
and, with sadness, we left the room, vowing to avenge the poor wretch who lay
within, bereft of his senses.
No-one tried to stop us as we left the Temple. We headed towards the
south-east of the island where, on our previous explorations, we had noticed
another tunnel heading out under the southern sea.
Not far inside, we found ourselves in a large cavern, filled with the sound of
rushing water. A message carved in the floor read 'Pirates' Cove - enter at
your own risk'. "Them's fighting words" said Lone and Fidget went a sickly
shade of green.
Passages led off north, south and west. Along both north and south passages,
Fidget found and disarmed traps and soon after, in each case, we were attacked
by thieves who we quickly slew. A College was at the end of each tunnel,
Disarm Traps in one and Detect Traps in the other. Having no need for either,
as long as young Fidget was with us, we retraced our steps to the main cavern.
At the end of the western tunnel, over a stretch of water, we found the town
of Pirates' Cove. Surprisingly, despite the warning at the entrance and our
rough reception in the other tunnels, we were completely ignored. But, in the
pub, an old man was telling the tale of Malifon, so we paused a moment to
listen, though we had heard the tale before, many times. "....and Malifon made
the Earth his home", said the old man, "but soon the Ancients became angry at
him and, in a great battle, banished him inside a volcano to live till the end
of time". He finished his tale and picked up his tankard to take a draught.
Lone tapped my arm. "Sometimes, my friend, with all the things we see and
hear, I get the feeling the end of time isn't too far away". Somehow, I had to
agree with him. Malifon's volcano might be the last thing any of us saw.
We left the Cove and tried to decide where to go next. While we were deciding,
we visited two of the Colleges. Fidget had died and been resurrected twice
during recent battles, so the small man decided to improve his skills and took
a course in fighting with the mace. Lone learnt beserking, which he felt might
give him the edge in a tight scrap. At a nearby town, Fidget purchased a
morningstar then we took another trip to the Guild at New Gleon and found we
had advanced enough to gain another few levels. Hereafter, we visited Guilds
whenever we came across them, to check on our progress.
We bought a ship in the docks and set out to sea. I had also learnt hunting
skills, so between us, Lone and I kept the five of us well supplied with fish
on our long sea voyage. We travelled to various islands along the coast, but
never straying too far from the main island where we had started our travels.
We also investigated the small islands in the inlets along the coast.
Lone enrolled at the College of Armoured Skin which Fidget said sounded
disgusting. However, this skill gave him even more protection in battle. At
Dragontooth, we heard a rumour in the pub that someone had found the Shard of
Spring a few months back. The Shard had disappeared 200 years ago and no-one
had seen it since. It is said that if anything happens to it, we will all be
destroyed by the winter that will follow. While we were in Dragontooth,
Clarence enrolled at the College of Mace and later at the College of
Persuasiveness at Chandris. It would help us get a better deal when we
purchased new equipment. All this time, Izzy had been using a +1 crystal
dagger that we had collected earlier. Our other fights had gained us some more
useful equipment and I had a mace, constant speed +2. We also had some other
weapons that we had collected and since our ship now needed considerable
repairs, pirates and sea monsters having taken their toll, we sold our spare
weapons at a local marketplace. We had also gained two cursed axes which we
got rid of as soon as possible!
To the south, we found two islands, and on the furthest south of these, the
town of Idlewood, mentioned by our friend in the glass case. We bought a
lantern in the marketplace and visited the inn where we learned that deep
within the ancient demon city of Qoorik, there is a place called the Amber
Vault where one can seek guidance in the flaming runes. The dungeon entrance,
invisible till one stepped into it, lay a short distance away.
We descended into the depths, Fidget checking for traps once we reached the
bottom of the staircase. To the west, we found a great, black archway covered
in runes and south of that, more passages and rooms led off.
In one room to the far east, we entered a room where three slaver demons
attacked us. The fight was long and hard but when it was over, Fidget spotted
something in a far corner. It was a black metal wand. "I'll take that" said
Clarence as he reached past the thief and tucked the wand into his robes.
We returned to the corridor and travelled south, then west. A doorway
beckoned; Lone moved to the front and shouldered the door open. It was a
blacksmith's shop. Inside, the blacksmith - an old troll, his face disfigured
so that one eye was permanently closed - gasped as we entered. Then he seemed
to compose himself, smiled and spoke. He said he had been working on a new
weapon, designed for the ones who wish to kill Xeres. Lone stepped forward,
thanked the troll and took it. It was a jewel-encrusted broadsword. However, I
cautioned him not to use it until we had identified it properly. My caution
was well justified; it turned out to be cursed!
Heading back towards the stairs we had entered by, we went through a doorway
and found ourselves in a stately mansion with three doors leading off the main
hall. In a bedroom, which looked as though it hadn't been used for a long
time, Fidget investigated a bed with a straw mattress and emerged grasping a
pair of spectacles. He perched them on his nose and said "these make me feel
smart". Lone laughed. "They must be magic if they make YOU intelligent" he
said. The dwarf made a face, pulled off the specs and passed them to the
wizard, who patted Fidget's shoulder to try to cheer up the small man.
We also collected a blank piece of papyrus and in a library, we came across a
tome, the only book that was left. Izzy tried to read it but failed till he
wore the spectacles. Then he told us that it was about some gods called the
Ancients who created everything but died out many eons before man ever walked
In the corner of the library was a bookcase. Lone and I moved it and behind
was another room. Black runes were carved on the walls and at a desk, a
skeleton, its skull shattered but its hand still clutching a quill pen, caught
our attention. I saw a piece of paper on the desk which read - Ymros is mine!
- and pointed out to the others that the arrangement of the runes matched the
number of letters on the paper; five runes, a space, two runes, space, then
four more. "I'll memorize the runes" said Clarence, with a glazed look in his
Two doorways back on the main floor had so far been barred to us. One, a
tunnel from which the stench of death blew out, turned out to be, apparently,
a dead end. The other, the entrance to a dark temple of red stone, was also
impossible to enter; the sense of evil permeating from it and an unseen force
both combined to push us back. "There must be another way in" murmured Izzy.
"Clarence? Do you think the wand might help?" The cleric shook his head.
"There's nothing here to operate it on" he said "but perhaps, the arch we saw
when we entered? That was black and covered in runes...."
We retraced our steps to the arch. Clarence took a deep breath (I think we all
did) and used the wand. The next thing, we were transported to a small room. A
door lead south. Quietly, Fidget pushed it open and we crept through. A
corridor on the other side was the entrance to the Demon's temple. The
entrance was not unguarded though - in front of us stood a level 6 mage, a
level 8 fighter and an evil spirit.
Manoeuvering into position, we quickly dealt with our assailants and then
investigated the surrounding rooms. In one, a staircase led downwards so we
At the bottom of the stairs, we entered the third level of the dungeon. A room
to the right contained an empty bag which Clarence took. A corridor lead north
and a small, elegant room to the left housed a level 14 mage, a priest of
Xeres. "A human!" cried Lone "How can he ally himself with that fiend?" and
the lanky ranger raced forwards, oblivious to the imps who obviously acted as
servants to the priest. A short but vicious fight ended in our victory and a
prize - a skeleton key - which Izzy took.
In another room to the top left, an apprentice's room (the only inhabitant a
level 10 mage who quickly gave up the ghost), Clarence spied a pile of red
dust which he collected in the bag. To the right was an altar room complete
with skulls on the blood-splattered walls and drawing of demons. "Love the
decor" muttered Fidget as he examine the altar which had demonic references to
the demon Xeres. Lone and I pushed the altar aside to reveal a short passage
into another small room.
Clarence took a pile of small black coins from one corner and then
investigated a censer in the room. Noticing a residue of red stuff inside it,
he quickly poured the red dust into it. A demon appeared and said "the father
of demons sees all. Only those who possess the Demon Crystal can escape his
sight" and then vanished. "I wonder where that can be?" said Izzy. "Oh well,
no doubt we'll find out - sooner..." "...or later" added Fidget.
As we walked towards the northern doorway from the altar room, Clarence had a
closer look at the coins and passed some across to me. They were ominous black
objects with a picture of a scythe on them.
Through the north door, we found a large area with several rooms around it.
There were some corridors that transported us to other parts of the dungeon
too which made life very confusing. In one room at the south end, Clarence
collected two more items, two phials of liquid, one a greenish ooze of goblin
blood and one a transparent silver fluid which he told us was unicorn blood.
In the same room was a microscope but we were unable to move it.
At the north of this level, we entered a room with a stairway guarded by two
gargoyles. After we slew the creatures, we stepped warily downwards into the
darkness of the fourth level. This level was somewhat smaller but interesting
to explore. In one room was a magic circle though it seemed to serve no
purpose. Another area was a small graveyard which had a large tomb with a
magical stone door at its west end.
Walking cautiously south, we came upon a wall of silver bricks. Izzy pointed
into the distance to draw our attention to a fabulous silver palace visible
above it. However, there was no doorway in the wall. Around the corner at the
end of this passage, we surprised two slavers who were attacking an old man.
After we had dispatched his assailants, the old man thanked us and explained
that he was the groundskeeper of the palace. He went on to tell us that there
was a secret entrance into the palace through the silver wall we had just
passed. As he slowly trudged off down the alley, we retraced our steps and
Fidget walked along the wall, suddenly turning and disappearing from our sight
as he walked straight through it!
We followed the dwarf and found ourselves in a beautiful garden with trees and
grassy walkways. In the centre was a healing pool but fortunately we were in
no need of it - yet! A door led out of the western end of the garden and we
passed through it into a hallway guarded by a large silver snake. I thought we
were in for trouble but luckily the bigger they are, the harder they fall and
with all of us working together to defeat him, even a huge serpent didn't
survive. Two rooms led off; one was empty, the other provided us with a jade
torch which burnt with a magical blue flame.
I took it and led the others back to the main room where I had previously
noticed a pillar shaped like a serpent with an open mouth full of oil. Using
the torch on the pillar opened a secret passage leading west. Luckily Fidget
was checking for traps as we walked down it as he discovered and disarmed a
trap which could have caused us some injury.
The study at the end was small but lit by an unknown source. It looked empty
too but Izzy's eagle eyes spotted a silver pen in one corner and he passed it
to our cleric who filled it with the silver unicorn's blood.
The pen began to glow and Lone gave the piece of papyrus he had collected
earlier to Clarence. The pen seemed to move with a life of its own and we
watched spellbound as it wrote a message on the papyrus that Asaht is the Holy
City of the Ancients.
In the same room, tucked away and so we almost missed it (it's lucky Fidget
has good eyesight) was a tiny scroll. The dwarf picked it up but the writing
on it was far too small for even him to read. We walked back up to the room
where we had found the microscope. Fidget put the scroll under it and said
"this could be useful. It gives the location of the Ice Temple of the Ancients
- it says it's in the tundra far to the north." "Perhaps we'd better head that
way once we've dealt with Xeres" said Lone.
At Clarence's suggestion, we returned to level four and entered the graveyard.
The cleric tried the skeleton key on the tomb door and the door shimmered and
changed from solid stone to a curtain of blue light. I led the way as we
stepped through and found ourselves in a larger graveyard with tombstones
stretching far into the distance.
The graveyard was full of mist and our footsteps were strangely dulled as we
slowly traced a path between the stones. The stones got closer together and
gradually we found our path being blocked by them. But at one point, Izzy
stepped forward and the tombstones shifted in front of us. We found several
other places in the maze that did the same thing and by manoeuvering
carefully, we found we could clear a path through the whitened blocks.
On the other side were more stones, though dotted sparsely about on the damp
earth. Ahead of us, way to the north, Lone pointed out a large mound so we
headed that way. But soon, a river crossed our path and we were forced to
travel along the bank, hoping for a place to cross. Instead, we were startled
when a shadowy figure appeared out of the mist - a ferryman. He said nothing,
just held out a skeletal hand and waited silently but expectantly. Izzy hissed
at Clarence, "pay him", and the cleric cautiously held out the black coins.
The bony fingers closed over the coins and the deal was made; we had our
transportation over the river, though it wasn't what we had expected.
"Not more graves" muttered Fidget as we disembarked from the ferry and we saw
yet more gravestones stretching into the far distance. There was a passage
between some stones to the far west temptingly labelled "exit" and the dwarf
would have taken it if we'd let him but Lone led us through the stones to the
mound we had noticed from the other side of the river.
The path we took led to an entrance, but it was guarded .... by the
Gravekeeper and his entourage; an evil spirit, a ghoul, a skeleton mage, a
ghost, a zombie and a skeleton. The Gravekeeper advanced towards us through
the fire and mist, his skeletal form striking terror into all our hearts, but
I knew we were equal to the challenge.
Lone, Fidget and I laid about us with our weapons while Izzy blasted away with
spells gleaned from his knowledge of fire runes and Clarence tried turning the
undead creatures. The fight was hard but we succeeded in destroying our
enemies. The Gravekeeper, the last to be overcome, dissolved into grey ooze
which turned into smoke and floated away with the mist. Before us, a dark,
ominous tunnel lead into the mound and we knew an important confrontation
awaited us down in those sulphurous depths.
The lowest level was strange in shape, a central maze of tunnels and my heart
started to race as we went to enter it. A stone archway framed the entrance
and a huge fire blazed in front of us. A ruby eyed snake - a salamander -
barred the way. As it died, a voice rang out, echoing round the whole area. It
was Xeres! "Woe the mortal who stands in my way" he cried "for Death shall
follow swift my hand." But there was no choice, we could only go forward.
So, we walked deeper into the tunnel, Fidget checking for traps but finding
none. The path wove round and round with several dead ends but finally, we
came to the centre of the maze and Xeres himself stood before us. He looked
down at us and said "so you have found me. Killing me will not end the
destruction." His eyes passed over all of us in turn and he continued "There
is something bigger here than your mortal minds can understand. If you kill
me, all of Ymros will go down with me."
Xeres was flanked by two salamanders, a gargoyle and a slaver. Izzy discharged
the biggest column-of-fire spell I had ever seen him use straight at Xeres
(like the rest of us, I think he panicked a bit) but it did the trick and the
demon was obliterated. His minions fell swiftly though not without cost to
ourselves. With them all dead, we looked through the archway ahead of us and
saw the town of Idlewood, looking far more peaceful now, but as we passed
through the arch, we all felt we had missed something.
Izzy slapped his hand to his brow in exasperation. "The Amber Vault, remember?
We heard about it in Idlewood but I didn't see it. Come on, we have to go back
and find it. It must hold some useful information for us." A quick trip back
through the dungeon and we were back at the lowest level. To the south of the
area, the normal fabric of the dungeon was replaced by a length of brickwork.
This difference gave us hope that we had found the location of the Vault and
we walked along the wall till we found a secret passage.
Inside was the Vault. Flaming runes covered the floor and skeletons of demons
hung on the walls. The heat almost drove us back but Clarence examined the
runes closely. "I can translate some of it" he said "using the runes we found
earlier that said 'Ymros is mine'." He frowned. "That gives 'se-re- en-r-n-e
...'." Izzy interrupted him "that's got to be 'secret entrance' surely?"
"You're right" said Clarence, "and that gives us a few more letters and means
it's easy to translate the rest of the message.
'Secret entrance to Ice Cathedral leads to Demon Crystal'." Lone grinned and
reminded us of the message we had got earlier (it seemed a lifetime ago) when
Clarence had burnt the red dust in the censer. At least now we had a new
location to aim for - if only we could find it.
We started our search for the Ice Cathedral, travelling by boat from island to
island, looking and searching, avoiding ghost ships, fighting pirates and sea
monsters until we began to doubt that we would ever find it. On our way north,
we found the College of Fire Runes on one southerly island. But we pressed on,
going ever north.
Landing on one northern island, we spotted a dungeon entrance. Lone led the
way as we entered a twisting passage. In a large room, we came upon the
biggest ice dragon we had ever seen - alright, I'll be honest, none of us had
seen one before .... but he WAS big! Izzy prepared to cast a column of fire at
the creature but before he could do anything, the dragon moved forward, his
blue scales glinting in the dim light, and breathed a spell at the wizard who
was immediately frozen in ice.
Lone and I rushed at the dragon, weapons at the ready, trapped the beast in a
corner and slew him before he could do more damage to our party. Clarence and
Fidget didn't get a chance to strike a blow. We collected our poor, frozen
wizard and explored the lair and surrounding tunnels. Despite the attentions
of mountain giants and an ogre, we completed our explorations quickly, finding
the College of Ice Runes in a northern passage and, in a small room to the
south, an icicle which Lone took.
A quick trip to the healers restored our friend to full health, though it cost
us quite a bit of gold, and we continued our search for the Ice Cathedral.
"Land ho!" shouted Fidget, rousing us all from our slumbers and we leant over
the rail to see an island to the west. Was this the one we had searched for
all these weeks? Yes! On the island, we found a temple made from blocks of
ice. "This must be the Temple of the Ancients" said Izzy. We could tell that
once it had been beautiful but the blocks of ice were tumbled and cracked so
that the once-proud edifice now lay in ruins. Inside, we found the entrance to
the Ice Cathedral but the scattered blocks that had formed the entrance many
centuries ago had fallen to block the way in. We knew from our discoveries in
the Amber Vault that there was a secret way in - but where? Lone led the way
again as we started to search for it.
We found it at last, a secret passage through a wall. The Ice Cathedral was
still beautiful, despite the great damage that had occurred. At one end was an
octagonal pedestal of blue ice on which was a dark violet crystal. "The Demon
Crystal" whispered Clarence. Dark mist swirled between us and the crystal and
I could see strange shapes forming in it and then dissolving again. For a
moment, I felt it seemed to examine us, then it cleared to reveal the crystal
in all its horrifying glory. Clarence stepped slowly forward and took it. Then
we left the Cathedral as quickly as we could.
Back outside, in the main body of the Temple, a library in the north-west
corner had been ransacked, just a few scrolls littering the floor. Clarence
pushed the scraps of parchment aside to uncover a prayer scroll which he took.
A passage east looked a likely route to take but a noise alerted us. Rounding
a corner, who should we come across but Jesric of the High Temple of Malifon!
He turned to us and said "Until I find the Demon Crystal, I claim these
ancient ruins to be mine!" His tone told us he would take no argument on the
subject but, unfortunately for Jesric, we had other ideas.
Despite his sword and armour, we defeated him fairly easily. Fidget noticed a
medallion around the dead priest's neck. "It shows he's Malifon's High Priest"
said the dwarf, taking the heavy amulet and passing it to Lone. "It might come
in useful then" said the lanky ranger, tucking it into his pocket.
A doorway nearby led into a corridor. The air was chilly and instinctively, I
drew my cloak tighter round me but it made little difference. A squeak from
behind me made me turn, to see Fidget, mouth open, pointing a little distance
down the corridor. What the small man had noticed but the rest of us had
missed was - a pair of ghosts! One was an evil-looking man, the other a
kind-looking priest. They seemed to be arguing and, to our amazement, we could
hear what they were saying.
One voice said "You are a fool! Your god is dying and still you pray." The
other responded "He is still strong. Find me a god who can break these walls
and I shall worship him instead." As we walked into the next corridor, the
voices followed us. "Long have I quested, and at a volcano a spirit conquered
my mind. It is a spirit as old as time. It once was strong, but was defeated
and rests now, regaining power ....... behold its power ....." We all gasped
as images of fire and pain engulfed our senses.
Faint heartbeats echoed in our minds as the ghost said "Oh Dark One, whose
power is so great - I cannot worship thee. Instead I offer to you as sacrifice
an old fool who cannot see a candle in the shadows." We all got the impression
of a blade and pain, then the heartbeats ceased. I realised we had witnessed a
murder from long ago.
Returning to the main body of the Temple, we found a door made of ice, and,
noticing a hole in the door, Lone inserted the icicle. Suddenly we found
ourselves transported to the other side of the door in an Altar Room with an
altar of blue ice against the south wall. Clarence put the prayer scroll on
the altar and as the last of the foreign words from it left his lips, the
Temple was flooded with light. A powerful voice spoke to us.
The voice spoke to us, not aloud but through our minds. It told us how the
White Knights had created an Orb of great power, capable of acting as a
catalyst between the Ancients and Mortals. The voice continued to explain that
it was the last of the Ancients who Malifon believed were dead and that, with
help, Malifon had broken through the Imprison spell that had trapped him.
Ymros was doomed unless he could be bound again. Finally, the voice said
"Through the Orb, I can give you the power to renew his binding. It lies in
the Vault of the White Knights, northeast of the desert, guarded by Kalek-Zin,
the greatest of the Knights. He can surely be persuaded to give the Orb to
you. When you have it, return to me and I will give you the powers of the
Gods. The Ancient has spoken." The light faded and the voice was gone.
Reverently, we left the Temple of the Ancients and sailed east, passing a few
islands, until we came to a small one that was mountainous in the centre but
had an inlet that could be entered from the south coast. We landed on a beach
and to the north, found the entrance to the Vault of the White Knights.
Appropriately, the walls inside were painted white and Izzy pointed out the
Knights' names carved on them. "This whole Vault is a memorial to the Warriors
of old" he explained. An octagonal pool sparkled in the centre and Clarence
identified it as a healing pool. I realised this pool might come in useful as
I expected some challenge awaited us inside; there seemed little chance we
could just go in and take the Orb. A secret passage in the north wall led into
the Fire Chamber of Kalek-Zin.
Though a wall of fire ahead of us filled the room with light, no heat emanated
from it. "Karek-Zin's burial chamber," whispered Clarence. "The greatest of
all the Knights." An alcove in the flames became apparent and we edged towards
it. Inside we could see a glowing Orb and I sensed great power coming from it.
We moved into the alcove. A pure white spirit weaved in and out of the flames,
guarding the Orb whose colours changed as we watched it. Clarence reached
towards the Orb to take it from its pedestal but the spirit intervened. "The
Orb of Evertime is the greatest artifact of the White Knights" it said. "If
used unwisely, it could endanger all of Ymros but since I sense Ymros is
already in great peril, I will release it to you if you can show you are
worthy of it. Pass the tests within the Vault and the Orb is yours.
Exploring the Vault, we found two secret passages, one on either side of the
Vault. We found that these linked with each other, also passing through a room
adorned with paintings of the ancient Warriors. Leading off this maze of
passages we found a series of rooms, one for every class of adventurer, not
only our own but also visionary, scholar and others. We entered each room in
turn. Each was a proving room where we would be called upon to show our worth,
each according to his own class specialities. In rooms that did not apply to
one of us a voice told us we were free to leave. Lone had to fight a cave
bear, Fidget to disarm a trap; gradually we all completed our own tasks.
Leaving the final room we returned to the alcove. This time the spirit allowed
us to take the Orb and Clarence reverently picked it up. Even Fidget seemed
somewhat subdued as we turned and retraced our steps to our ship and from
there, sailed west to return to the Altar Room in the Temple of the Ancients
as we had been instructed. On the way, night fell and as we slept on the ship
we all heard the same voice speak to us. It said, "The Orb of Evertime now is
yours, but your quest remains in vain. I was alive before mortals touched the
Earth and no mortal there can touch me. It is true that with the Demon Crystal
I can lay neither tooth or claw on you. But I can make you wish you were never
born." "Let these words of Malifon be heard - The sky shall flare the Earth
shall bleed. All that is dark shall rise up in Glory, and all that is Light
shall be trampled underfoot."
It was very hard to go to sleep the next night in case the voice returned. It
didn't .... but instead we experienced visions. Dark and gloomy forests and
rivers of blood ... great battles and a black force with power beyond our
comprehension. One by one, we saw the gods killed - the Eagle, the Swan, the
Raven, the Woman of Colours, the Tiger. One by one they were defeated and fell
into the flaming waters below. We saw clerics all over Ymros wake up to a new
day with the feeling that something had been torn from their souls. Great
thunderbolts fell from the skies and each temple was turned to ruin. We woke,
stunned. Clarence put into words what we all suspected. "They're dead," he
said, his voice quavering. "The gods are dead. What can we do? Who will help
us now?" "I have a feeling that will be answered when we get back to the altar
room," said Izzy, laying his hand on the cleric's shoulder - though he was no
longer a cleric in truth, his god having been destroyed with the rest.
"Come," continued the wizard. "Let us see what the Ancient One has to say." We
returned to the altar room, using the icicle to enter, and once again Clarence
used the prayer scroll on the altar and the Ancient One spoke. "You have done
well. With the Orb, I may now transfer some of my power to one of you. I offer
to make one of you a God. The Power of the Ancient Ones lies in the God Runes.
Two spells it allows you to cast in camp are Uncurse and Imprison." The voice
went on to explain. "To keep Malifon from communicating mentally with the
natives near the volcano, we put a curse on the land round it. This is done
through the three crimson glyphs. Each glyph sustains the curse on the land
round it and any mortal who walks there will rot with every step. You must
destroy each glyph using the Uncurse spell while camping on the same space as
the glyph. Until all three glyphs are destroyed, you will not be able to use
the Dark Chapel to go back in time to the Dawn of Man."
The voice paused, then continued. "Only in the Chapel of the Past will you
find the entrance to Malifon's volcano. Imprison is used to seal off a
passageway and the room it leads to so no creature can pass. This is what you
must do to defeat Malifon as it would be impossible to kill him in combat.
Even all the Ancients could not kill him. His power is so great that even the
Demon Crystal will shatter if you come too close to him. Cast the Imprison
spell when the Demon Crystal glows white, it costs 100 spell points." There
was another pause and then the voice said, "One will be given enough
experience to gain the wisdom you need and 200 spell points with which to cast
the God Runes. Go to my holy city and convert to my faith for, in the time to
come, the new gods shall falter and die. Good luck."
We sensed we were being scrutinised and then the voice asked us who wished to
become a God? I looked at Lone, he looked at Clarence, Clarence at Fidget and
Fidget at Izzy. Izzy didn't look at anyone. He just stepped slowly forward and
said "I do." We expected some sign that our friend had been elevated to such a
rank but, no. He turned back to us, looking no different, but calmly reminded
us that we must travel to Ancient's holy city. We had previously learned at
Qoorik that Asaht was the holy city of the Ancients, so it was to there that
we set sail. Entering the oddly-shaped temple at Asaht, Izzy converted to the
faith of Ancient. A trip to the Guild confirmed that he had indeed gained
several levels of experience, and we were once again ready to continue on our
quest. "Where to?" asked Fidget as we returned to the ship. "East", replied
our divine companion, his eyes fixed on the distant horizon.
Directly east of Jacanth we found a small, mountainous island with an inlet
containing a healing pool. We sailed back out of the inlet and continued east
where we found another larger island. Anchoring the boat on the shoreline, we
started to explore. We walked into the mountains and through onto a sandy
beach with buildings around it. To the northwest was one containing a small
room full of maps showing a volcano south of the island and the Dark Chapel
that the Ancient One had mentioned to us on an island to the south of that.
Back outside and along the beach to the south, a ship lay at anchor on the
inland sea. Guarding it were two mountain giants and a Titan - a huge figure
wielding a huge, shining sword. Lone gave a battle cry, at least that's what I
think it was, and we attacked. Within a short space of time, the ship was
We sailed back towards the entrance and, leaving the ship, walked along the
beach to the east. A short bridge led over the water to a small island and a
bell tower. Just inside the entrance was a short corridor. Two rooms led off,
one north, one south. In the north room was a skeleton mage called the
Bellkeeper; a powerful assassin, he had been hired by Eregore to keep watch
over the bell tower. He screamed threats at us and attacked. Lone and I killed
him and as he breathed his last, we felt a cold force fly past us, followed by
the ringing of a massive bell to the west. In the south room was a dog,
obviously the Bellkeeper's pet, but at the end of the corridor was something
far more important - a huge bell. On the wall above the bell were some runes
and, squinting at them slightly, Clarence translated them. "'Ring bell at
midnight'" he said. "But how?" asked Fidget. "We're always asleep at that time
- it seems impossible to stay awake that long." Confused, we returned to the
outside of the dungeon.
To the east of the island a small path led into the mountains, and at the end
of it we found a small hut. Inside, an old peasant woman greeted us. Smiling,
she waved her hand to encompass the interior of the hut with its
sweet-smelling herbs. "Please stay. If you wish, you may sleep here in
comfort" she offered. Izzy smiled at her. "I accept, on behalf of myself and
my companions" he said. We settled down and were soon sound asleep. But
suddenly, we woke to the screeching of an owl outside. Everything was still
and quiet, the moon seeming suspended in the heavens with a magical feeling to
the air. But there was no sign of the old woman. Collecting our weapons, we
walked outside into the darkness. Fidget looked up at the sky and gasped.
"It's the middle of the night. Quick, let's go to the bell and ring it!" We
hurried down to the bell tower and rang the bell. The sound of angels crying
opened up from the heavens, then everything went quiet again. Lone frowned.
"Now what?" he said. "Nothing's happened!" Despondently, we walked back
outside, having no idea what to do next.
Boarding the ship, Clarence suggested we set sail to the south as we hadn't
yet explored in that direction. Leaving the ship on yet another small, sandy
beach, we had walked just a few steps when we noticed a gate, standing open,
inviting us to enter. With a chuckle, Izzy said, "I bet this was shut before
we rang that bell!" and, with Lone leading the way, we entered. A short way
down the corridor, a voice from nowhere spoke. "Only those who worship Malifon
may enter this temple. What is thy name?". Quick as can be, Izzy replied
"Jesric". "You may enter," said the disembodied voice. The corridor led deep
into the mountains into a small room which was completely bare. "This is
strange," said Izzy. "Where's the temple?" We explored every inch of the room,
then returned to the corridor. To our surprise, where there had previously
been a bend in the passageway there was now a crossroads. To the east was a
healing pool but south another passage beckoned us deeper into the mountain.
Soon we came to a small, square, sand-filled room with its walls painted to
depict a desert landscape. Two huge salamanders leapt out of the sand!
Defeating them, we walked to the south end of the room and a passage suddenly
opened in the east wall as the doorway, through which we had just entered,
vanished. Through the new exit a bridge led over a small stretch of water and
split, one piece going north, one south. As we explored the area, we
discovered that the whole place was a series of transporter rooms, each with
its own climatic characteristics. After the desert room, we found one with
walls of fire, twenty feet high, guarded by a fire elemental; another was
bitterly cold as magical snow fell onto us and an ice demon surveyed us with
its cold, blue eyes before attacking. Soon we had mapped the area, apart from
one section. In one seemingly normal room, a purple haze filled the north
wall. I tried to walk through it but failed and none of the others had any
better luck. But on the side wall was a crystal eye. Lone pointed out the
carving above it. "'Only high priests allowed past this point, show
identification'", he read. "I wonder...." and reaching into his tunic, he drew
out the heavy amulet we had taken from Jesric after he died and held it in
front of the eye. Then he smiled at us as the mist slowly dispersed and we saw
a corridor leading north.
Thus we entered the main part of the High Temple, with its high, engraved
ceiling and wide hallways. The size of the building dwarfed us (with apologies
to Fidget) and made me feel very vulnerable and helpless. To the left, a
doorway led into a room of dreams and to the far southeast was a beautiful
cathedral, guarded by three orange spellbinders - giant snakes which moved
hypnotically before us. But the octagonal room to the north, with its crystal
floor decorated with geometric designs and inscribed 'Only the right path will
bring rewards' seemed more promising. We discovered that the north, west and
east walls were not solid, though they appeared to be at a cursory glance and,
remembering the inscription on the floor, we went east ... right. Once through
the "wall", we found a corridor going north with two doorways. The first one
led into a room inhabited by a demon lord, selected by Malifon to watch over
Eregore and make sure he did his job. Killing the demon lord and his two
attendant hounds, we entered a second room whose cracked walls still bore
evidence of a complex spell which had once been carved there. It appeared to
be the God Rune for breaking a binding and Izzy pointed out the places where
the apprentices would have stood to cast the spell.
The second doorway from the main corridor led into a room containing a large
crystal ball. To my amazement, the voice of the Ancient One issued from the
crystal, assuring us that we were doing well but that we must go on, for
Malifon had gained control of the Shard of Spring and was planning to destroy
it. All of us knew that if that happened the world would be plunged into
deepest winter! Hurrying, we had just rounded the corner of the next corridor
when a voice rang out - it was Eregore! "So, you have found me," he cried from
the northern end of the room we were about to enter as his followers, a
collection of highwaymen, thieves, fighters and mages, watched with evil eyes
glinting. He pointed at us. "Destroy the infidels!" he shrieked, and the
motley crew advanced towards us.
Eregore's followers attacked us and the fight was long and hard but eventually
we were victorious though none of us escaped unscathed. Eregore stood at the
north end of the room in front of a large black mirror and a look of horror
came over his face as he realised we had triumphed. I led the way as we walked
towards him. As we got closer we could feel evil emanating from the black
mirror but to the other side of Eregore I noticed a beautiful, round,
multi-faceted mirror which hung by a thread from the ceiling. Eregore spoke.
"You fools - you believe you are so powerful. You have no idea what true power
is. Malifon, my master, is the supreme power ... you're lucky he let you live
so long." "He cannot harm us as long as we hold the Demon Crystal of
Kalek-Zin," replied Izzy, in his usual calm voice.
Eregore looked questioningly at the mirror, then said, "Who is this
Kalek-Zin?" "He was the greatest of the White Knights, but, alas, has been
dead for centuries," responded Izzy. Eregore looked even more worried and we
realised he was but the tool of a greater power. He looked to the mirror for
more guidance and said, "All the White Knights are dead. There is no-one to
stop me taking over Ymros. Malifon will help me take power and make me ruler
of these lands." I was amazed when Fidget stepped forward and said,
hesitantly, "If he plans to help you, then why has he stolen the Shard of
Spring?" "That's not true!" screamed Eregore, turning to the mirror. He stared
at it and asked "Do you have the Shard of Spring?" A powerful voice spoke from
the mirror and replied "Yes." Eregore shook with fear like a child. "If you
destroy the Shard, a bitter winter will strike the land." Then he thought and
added "Of course, you will spare your loyal followers....." The voice spoke
firmly "Your purpose was to free me. Now you have done that, I have no need of
you." "Why?" asked Eregore. Malifon replied, "My winter shall cleanse the land
of mortal souls and once again silence shall embrace the Wind and Gods shall
walk the Earth."
I almost (but not quite) felt sorry for Eregore as I saw his face change as
realisation dawned. Suddenly he saw what he had done and how he had been used
by Malifon. Taking a curved dagger, he calmly killed himself before any of us
could stop him. Malifon's voice spoke once more: "Your meddling has become a
thorn in my side. Eregore died a fool's death, your deaths shall be worse. For
now I shall shatter your precious Shard and my Winter shall begin. Do not
believe you have felt the last of my wrath, Your pain is my sustenance, your
blood my drink. I do not intend to starve." We heard a shattering sound that
shook the bowels of the earth. The black mirror shattered but the faceted
mirror remained whole. Swiftly, Lone rushed forward and took it, then we left
Outside, a grim sight met our eyes. As predicted, the land was in the grip of
a bitter winter and all the towns were in ruins. We were on our own. "We have
to continue," said Izzy. "We've gone too far to turn back now." So we returned
to our ship and sailed south, avoiding battles with pirates, monsters and
ghost ships now there was no way we could get our ship repaired. Fairly
quickly we came to the island with Malifon's volcano and found the glyphs the
Ancient One had mentioned. Anchoring the ship off-shore, we walked to the
first glyph, each of us losing one hit point with each step. Arriving at the
glyph, we set up camp and Izzy cast the Uncurse Spell. Lightning flashed and
the glyph was gone. The land was now safe to walk on in this section of the
island so, once we had rested and regained our strength, we carried out the
same procedure at the other two glyphs.
Each spell cost Izzy 50 spell points. In a bay to the south of the large
island, we found a smaller one on which was the Dark Chapel. On the floor in
the centre of the building was a large, round circle of glass from which a
never-ending stream of blinding, yellow light poured out. Lone held out the
facet mirror over the circle of light. Powerful beams of light burst off its
facets, blinding us, while I felt my head reel. We felt ourselves being sent
back in time and when everything eventually slowed down, we found ourselves in
the Dark Chapel as it had been ten thousand years ago. The shifting walls had
solidified into white stone and the Chapel was filled with the spectral forms
of grossly-disfigured men - haunting images from the dawn of Man, their heads
bowed in prayer.
At four alcoves round the edge of the Chapel were circular carvings with runic
inscriptions. One showed a lightning bolt, one wind being sucked up into
blackness, another the creation of the universe and the fourth some kind of
ghostly apparition. Clarence translated the runes: "Power, Void, Divinity and
Spirit." Soon, we found their significance as a spectral priest at the north
end of the room chanted "Power, Divinity, Spirit...." and paused. "Void"
replied Izzy. Without warning, a huge, blue fireball burst into the mountain,
melting the rock and opening a passage from which stale air flowed. The
passage led deep into the mountain, to a room with an ancient stone staircase
which was covered with runes and cracked by time. A huge stone statue
dominated the room but, as we entered, it came to life -a guardian was
attempting to stop us continuing.
It had reckoned without Izzy's column of fire spell. Luckily he had enough
spell points spare to blast the statue and, defeated, it turned back to stone.
Sulphurous mist flowed round our ankles as we ascended the staircase to emerge
in an icy waste at the top of Malifon's volcano. Another pit led down to our
left and we descended yet again, this time into the heart of the volcano. The
Demon Crystal glowed violet as we explored the caverns. At the far east end we
fell down a shaft, even deeper into the volcano and in this section we found a
golden bridge spanning a lake of fire. It was not unguarded but once the two
dragons and the demon commanding them had been destroyed (our hardest fight
yet) we crossed. The crystal was glowing red as we entered a hall full of
The mist swayed as though it was alive and as I looked into the mist, I saw
faces of people we had known and places we had seen on our travels. As we
stepped into the mist, we travelled through our memories - the tent at the
Kobold Camp - the octagon room - the old woman's hut - and the icy tundra of
the northlands by the ice dragon's cave. During all this time, the crystal had
glowed violet, red and orange but as Lone stepped forward to enter the cave
Fidget shouted "Stop! Look at the Crystal!" and I saw it was glowing pure
white. Quickly, we set up camp just outside the cave and Izzy cast the
Imprison Spell. Light flashed and a resounding primaeval scream was heard from
the depths of the volcano. The walls shook and began to crumble around us. As
the Imprison Spell took effect, the sounds of Malifon's agony were quickly
stifled but the walls of the mountain continued to shake.
Just as I felt the walls were about to collapse about us, a strange
combination of darkness and light surrounded us and the Ancient One spoke:
"You have done well. As long as the spell holds, Malifon's evil is contained
in the volcano. Many adventurers set out to destroy the root of this evil.
Many died along the way and many gave up the quest when they could not find
the courage to continue. You alone have succeeded, time and again ... to
destroy Xeres, acquire the Orb of Evertime, destroy Malifon's High Temple and
eventually imprison Malifon himself." "Although Malifon's evil has been
contained, the effects of his evil are still being felt on Ymros. With the
Shard gone, the land still lies in Winter and though Malifon's Corruption is
now ended, many towns have been turned to ruins. Perhaps worst of all, the
Gods that the people of Ymros relied on for centuries are dead and the people
have lost hope." "I do not say the work is yours for you have done more good
that the land can ever repay.
For this reason, I can offer to reward you by making you immortal and you
shall rule by my side for the rest of eternity." I couldn't see my companions
but I felt their agreement when I said "We must decline. There is too much
work to be done here on Ymros". "You are indeed noble," said the Ancient One.
"If mortality is your wish then it shall be granted. I will make sure the rest
of your lives are visited by good fortune and prosperity." And so it was. Lone
went back to the town of Woodhaven and was instrumental in its reconstruction.
After rebuilding the city, he settled down there and lived to a ripe old age.
Clarence became the first in two millennia to take up the title of High Priest
of the Ancient One. With his accumulated wealth, he built an enormous temple
to The Ancients and spread word of the new God. Fidget heard in the tavern of
untold wealth in lands to the north and went in search of the fortune. He
gathered a party and explored many dungeons, eventually retiring in luxury.
Izzy went on a great quest for the Lifestone in order to build a new Shard of
Spring. While he did not live to see its completion, the new Shard was named
in honour of him and still protects Ymros. What happened to me? Well, that's