Monday, August 20, 2018

A Cracked Mirror

Magda Zwierzchowska
The Black Tower
The Black Tower has loomed over the barren rock of the cove for as many generations of Ýr
 as had lived in the north- and never had anyone entered or exited its doorless walls. Who built this solitary structure and for what purpose? Before the Ýr 
there was no one, just this featureless spire of black granite.
The Creature
At the top of the cove, Carrum and Wyn watched. A shadow crept between the crags of the rock shore and ocean spray. They wondered, even hoped the shadow was a simple trick of light and coastal fog, but there was no mistaking its irregular movements. As it made its way to the tower, the voices on the wind, a now familiar din that seemed to rise from the crashing waves, beckoned with the word, “Come.” It drew them to the Black Tower, that daunting monolith that had stood benignly for all the generations of Ýr. It was a simple ruin, nothing more than an ominous monument to the unknown had now become a familiar terror as if it had bubbled up from depths of Ýr memory. The shadow creature reached the tower foundations.
Despite their muted senses, the appearance of an archway on the belly of the tower elicited gasps from the near hypnotized Ýr on the cove top. The words from the crashing surf, “Come,” seemed to echo now from that darkened space beyond the archway. For mere moments, Carrum and Wyn hesitated but they could not resist the tower’s call.
The Facets
Inside the tower, there is a spiraling pathway that climbs the walls of the otherwise hollow tower. Once past the tower entrance, it disappears, so seemingly there is no way out. Up the spiral pathway, there appears as many ‘floors’ as there are characters, each with an open portal. Each leads to an alien place that leaves the characters with a growing sense of familiarity, which will become clear with time, especially once the third and last door is explored.
The First Door
Beyond the first door is a setting that best represents the primal personality and character traits of one character. This door is the past. Here you discover there are quadrants, each with a different society and environment, and at the center is a black tower, visible from all places within this strange place. At certain vantages, it seems miles tall. What’s more, there are as many quadrants as there are characters. Note, all this information isn’t revealed to the characters right away. Let on to these resemblances slowly. For example, a quadrant that represents a forest warden might be a vast woodland populated with a strange people that worship a savage god. The door exits in a place of significance in each quadrant. Exploring it will reveal many places and things that are extreme representations of the character, its memories, traits, and important possessions. There is only one outlier in each representative place, a story of Munin, a man or god that seems to play a role somehow.
The Second Door
Beyond the second door is a setting that best represents another character but in a much more civil, organized manner, for example, a sprawling capital city with many people and clear class structures.  This door is the present. Speaking with the inhabitants of this place will reveal the previously explored quadrant and its inhabitants are now merely remembered as a long-ago history or myth. In this quadrant, there is a growing tension between it and its neighbors, an impending war, which again Munin seems to have recorded or been involved somehow. The tower stands at the middle of this environment as well. If asked about the whereabouts of this Munin every quadrant has its own myth about his involvement and residence.
 The Third Door
Last, beyond the third door is again a setting that represents another character but this time-warped and strange. For example, a city lit with fireless lamps, abandoned except for one mind-bending inhabitant that is now more worm than man. This door is the future. Discover in this place that all other quadrants have been conquered. At this point, the world appears bleak as if breaking down. Tales of Munin now tell of an old decrepit man that’s death will bring about the rebirth of the world. It is said his lair is in the mountains above the door entrance to this place. Going there will reveal a strange temple with idols that resemble the characters and doors that open to dangerous creatures that once resided in previous iterations of other quadrants.
This perilous trip will eventually lead to yet another door, but this one is closed. If the characters die on their way, they will find themselves again inside the base of the tower as if they had just entered, open portals again waiting for them. If the characters survive, they find Munin, an aged creature with the semblance of a Noble, sharp features and teeth. He will present you with a dagger with which, he explains, you are meant to kill him or yourself to be released.
Should you kill him, the world shatters in a vortex of mind-bending replays of the many worlds of the tower, as if the cycle had repeated many hundreds of times, at which point you realize that during your exploration of the tower one of your previous selves had decided to stay and create your perfect world, until eternity eventually drove you mad. In the end, you and your companions stand there in the abandoned tower, now with the doorway open to you. Only a few days have passed since you entered. You are free to leave, but so is one of the long locked away Masters, Evroul.
Should you kill yourself instead, Munin frowns. You return to the cycle as if you’d died battling your way to his door, except you still hold in your hand the dagger. The portals and the spiral path are again there but you now hold a powerful tool. With this dagger you can cut away the wall where you first entered as if it were canvas and escape, leaving Evroul the Deceiver still trapped in his prison.

About Evroul: The 7 Masters were once the great leaders of the Noble Dominion. A millennium ago the 7 were overthrown and deposed in different ways. Few know their ultimate fate, but since they are not mortal, they cannot be wholly destroyed. Evroul is one of the 7 and a master of illusion. His domain was the most northern of the Dominion. 
Magda Zwierzchowska
Inspired by an adventure with Bruce David Burns.

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