Return to Golben

Return to Golben

Postby Dulcie » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:50 pm

Glenn had mentioned something stirring in Golben, growing, plaguing the place. Stefan Berdini knew that the other man was trying to goad him into something, but there was a part of him that just couldn't resist the temptation. He drew energy from chaos and misfortune and Golben was already full of it.

In the darkness of night, a single horse and rider made their way through the moonlit path to the land that was once a great lake, and then a great trap. It had been some of his best work, when he thought back and reflected upon it. The illusions had been grand and elaborate and they had trapped not only it's intended victim but also those who had sought it's making. He couldn't resist visiting it again, remembering it's glory.

He dismounted with plenty of distance from the edge of the great pit. The horse in it's obedience lingered nearby, as he stood and surveyed the land before him. To an onlooker he might have seemed lost, or perhaps just a lunatic, basking in the rays of the moon, but truly his green eyes were taking in the surroundings. Looking for signs of danger, a trap. He wouldn't move forward to the land that had once held camps of workers until he was sure that there wasn't some mischief at work here.
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Re: Return to Golben

Postby Rance » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:01 am

Should books have detailed wonders of the world, Golben might have been among them.

In the right light, and from the proper hilltop, the black stain of the Golben crater was visible from leagues away. The dirt roads that crisscrossed the country all around it bore testament to its presence with makeshift signs painted by local farmers: DEAD LAND and BARREN LAND and RISK OF DEATH they proclaimed. This was the stubborn Myrkener's reticent kindness toward others: they would keep and work their own land in general proximity to the crater, but if one sought land to sow, it would be best found elsewhere.

The grasses and brush, upon approaching the vast divot in the earth, had become vastly overgrown, a brown and sun-scorched tangle that even hooves and powerful legs would have been challenged to overcome. Age-rotted wood, likely repurposed from fallen barns or cattle-houses, had been built up into uneven fencing around the Golben pit: another kindness afforded the curious bystander by local farmers who sought to keep unwary travelers from careening overthe edge of the pit.

During a recent year without crops, they had to busy themselves with some task. Busy themselves, or sit and never stand again.

On a gust of warm, midnight wind, what Berdini might have first noticed was the wafting scent of rot. Not that sour, demonstratively foul stink of death, exactly, but the moist, cloying stink of compost.

A fat moon revealed a path whacked by scythe through the voluminous brush, and its presence explained the odor outright: a foot-trodden path, crushed down by the passage of wagon wheels and tromping feet, led between the husks of two old guard-houses right to the edge of the pit. Scattered all around it, in a prominent display of human sloth, were old animal bones here and there, and deflated, sun-baked corpses of the occasional plagued cow (though to recognize it as one would have taken a great effort). Strips of fabric flapped in the breeze from the arms of fledgling trees: the last evidences of dry-rotted old clothes brought here to be discarded.

The locals had turned the once-grand Golben pit into their own personal dumping ground, casting off unwanted materials, from old wine bottles to poorly-carved butcher-cattle, off into the expansive, man-made crater.

Though it was night, the shady figure of a stubborn vulture hovered above, sweeping in a majestic circle, waiting for coming morning to reveal a bounty of food.

A ribbon of gray stones began to press up out of the earth, one by one, trailing across the waste-littered ground until the stepping-stones came right up against the edge of Berdini's boots. Where there had not been a pathway moments before, one appeared, suitable to the man's discerning tastes.

Sparks of light flared on the path. Old torches, by which to see the path to the edge of the vast pit, flared to life and threw the world into flickering orange.

If Berdini would not move forward to meet it, then Golben would come to him.
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Re: Return to Golben

Postby Dulcie » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:34 pm

He had sought this source of intrigue from Glenn, wondered at the many number of things he could be referring to, and yet it was simply a great rubbish heap that he found. He scoffed and rolled his eyes, but not before pulling his shirt up to cover his nose slightly and survey the great pit one last time. It had been a work of art, some of his best illusions, and now it was simply rotting, no better than any other place where these uncultured fools found to toss their trash. He had half a mind to light fire to it all and watch the whole thing burn.

He began toying with the idea of fire, and was about to turn back to his mount when something in his peripheral vision caught his eye. Those gray stones had indeed not been there before, and yet here they were. Inviting him into the great pit, to the stink and refuse, and yet for some reason he couldn't deny the fact that he was curious.

Still, Berdini had restraint. He never entered into a situation without knowing all that he could about it. This was different however. Perhaps it was age, or maybe he was bored with the quieter life he'd be living in Myrken Wood. Somehow this seemed like an opportunity that he should not give up.

He returned to his horse briefly and unloaded a small pack, shifting it onto his back before he returned to where the stones had been. If he was about to get into some sort of mystical tangle he might as well be prepared. If the stones were still there he'd steel his nerves and begin to follow where they led.
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Re: Return to Golben

Postby Rance » Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:24 pm

When he reached the end of the visible stone path, more sprang up before him. The grass crawled away, and these flat, clean stones beckoned him to follow their winding path. The stones wound like a serpent between the derelict guard-houses while long-unlit torches snapped into vibrant life. They lived only as long as he was near them, for if Berdini turned to look toward his horse, he'd find the light lacking and the torches snuffed. All that lingered was the stink of their smoke.

The path wound suspiciously close to the edge of the Golben pit, but never near enough to threaten a fall.

Fireflies flared their beacons in the night, their silent pulses of green and sometimes orange light forming wild, criss-cross patterns that littered the sky. Though the pit itself yawned below, black and limitless, there was no glimpse of its bottom: only this legion of a thousand fireflies seeking out their mates in this place of desolation.

Among those innocent insects, there danced little sparks of pale blue, devoted to an altogether different path and pattern. They kept their light ashine and whipped through the air in great arcs and circles until, right before Berdini, they splashed against the darkness and their embers scattered into the vague, faceless figures of men. Before Stefan Berdini's eyes, a transparent theatre of light and shadow came to life.

The counterfeits brought with them smells, too: of aromatic wax burnt on candles long-lived into the night; of boiled leaves and dried blossoms consumed by men and women with too much money from cups too tiny for their great hands. And of lust and sweat and sex.

The figures spoke agreeably. And conspiratorially.

I find myself in need of an intelligent, imaginative, truly open-minded soul, and I think you fit that description utterly.

One should be careful about having confidants, my Governor.

Oh, Stefan...there is no one else I think I would rather speak about this than you.

There were vague, murmuring gaps in the conversation, but the two glowing silhouettes continued to speak.

One cannot govern Myrken without control, over them, over myself, over eventualities far and wide and horrific. So, I have...excesses and urges, and I control them.

And what sort of excesses do you intend to cater to, Good Governor?

In a gust of wind, the bright figures blew away like luminescent vapors. The stones continued to forge their path until they came abruptly to the edge of the vast pit.

A wooden scaffold, still present from the Golben pit's grand construction, was there, and its ladders, platforms, and stairs descended down into the darkness. Pinned on one of the handrails was a lone paper snapping and crackling in the wind. At first it bore no message, until torchlight bled into the parchment and revealed an ink that had not been there moments before:

To meet one's Creator is to come face-to-face with a god.
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Re: Return to Golben

Postby Dulcie » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:14 am

"I hate magic" he muttered to himself as his feet stepped along those gray stones, one after another. Some might have marveled at the beauty of the fireflies flickering around about him, but Stefan Berdini, he just glared. His boots clicked against the hard, magical surface that he walked upon, the man himself staying ever vigilant as he watched his immediate surroundings, looking for more signs of trickery and mystical threats.

He did pause to glance over his shoulder, noting the phantom torches and the smell the left behind, his horse abandoned far enough away that now it was becoming difficult to see. He shook his head and rolled his eyes to himself, as if surprised that he was even entertaining whatever nonsense this was. He squashed a lightning bug between his fingers in spite and then continued on his way along the path.

It was impossible not to be surprised by the theater that produced itself in front of him. Instead of gaping he cocked his head and considered the creations. He was an illusionist after all and he wondered at the trick of it, even if it was magical. He reached out to try to touch one of them, trying to see what it was made from if he was able, but then he would listen, just listen. Something or someone had been reading their letters which then had him intrigued.

He continued on his journey, made it to the scaffold and snatched the piece of paper from the handrail. It was read, crumpled and dropped to the ground like so many other forgotten pieces of trash around this place. He'd try to take one of the torches that might be available into the darkness. If not, he'd produce a candle from his pack and spend some time lighting it before he'd go on.
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Re: Return to Golben

Postby Rance » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:12 pm

The torches came away freely, as if willingly given.

The scaffolding was, at least, formidable and solid. The wood had been treated with tar to seal it from the rain, and though the whole structure occasionally shifted, it had been built to do so. A structure of any reasonable height lived longer when it could blend with wind than if it sought to withstand it fully.

With the torch lighting the way down, the residual sunlight of midsummer eventually faded, and the Golben pit was cast into inky darkness. Its depths radiated stillness and silence. Even animals were clever enough to recognize the twisted nature of the place: there was no rustling in the hedgerows down below, no scrabbling at the dirt of the pit's steep wall, not even the beating of moth-wings to zip and twirl dangerously close to his torch.

Every so often, another ribbon of paper awaited him, and like before, the ink became visible only when firelight illuminated it.

To build a place with such cruel purpose is akin to feeding an infant poison: if it grows, if it thrives, the result shall be malformed.


And another:

You do not fear Us. You should not. We mean no harm.


If Berdini descended to the bottom of the pit, he would find before him a wall of overgrown hedges whose finely-trimmed, well-shaped edges and corners had blossomed into chaos and disarray. The ground underfoot was cracked and dry. Even here, there was cast-off detritus: shattered bottles, animal bones, a bag of festering fruit; a rope-bed whose wooden frame had been splintered by the fall; a swath of blackness along the hedges where someone with a thirst for destruction had set fire to the brambles.

The fireflies had followed. In a single group, like a great fist of pulsing light, they rushed forward toward the center of the hedge-maze. The overgrown hedgerows peeled aside to allow their passes, their roots and branches cracking and twisting. The knot of luminescent insects shot like an arrow toward the heart of the maze.

Stones trickled up out of the earth, welcoming Berdini along the same path.

Under his feet, a seismic wonder began to throb, dull and slow and distant.

A heartbeat.

In the distance, faintly glowing, a figure formed from firefly light awaited Stefan Berdini.
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