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Tuesday, July 14

Castle Ambrose: Part 1 – Foyer

They appeared in the foyer of an ornate mansion. A freshly swept carpet graced the floor. The walls were decorated with bright, colorful tapestries. Brass candelabras lined the entranceway. They showed signs of having been recently polished and were filled with candles.

“Carcosa Castle,” said Kham. “We’re here.”

Beldin pointed outside. “Is that in the play?”

More frightening than the sudden change from the cave to the castle was the smoky gray mist that surrounded the castle at a distance of thirty feet, blocking all sight beyond. No sound penetrated the mist.

Kham had read the play over and over. “There’s mention of mists. But I didn’t think they were literally mists. More of an allegory for confusion or something.”

The mist advanced on the mansion even as Vlad watched. “Let’s not find out if it’s just an allegory.”

The double doors to the interior swung open into the main hallway by themselves.

They entered a wide, long hallway running east to west. In the center of the hall was a ten-foot wide red carpet stretching from the west door to the east door. The ceiling arched twenty feet high overhead. Near the east end of the hall, a raised catwalk stretched across the hallway ten feet above their heads. At either end of the overpass were double doors.

Thousands of tiny square mirrors were set into the ceiling and walls. The resulting reflection of their torches resembled a swarm of fireflies as myriad pinpoints of light were reflected back. The floor of the hall, where it wasn’t covered with the red carpet, was polished white marble. The marble was so shiny they could see their reflections on its surface. Polished brass candelabra lined both walls and crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling. All the candleholders on the candelabra and chandeliers were filled with unlit candles.

“Stay alert,” said Kham. “This is Carcosa, and it can change at any time. I brought black paint along just in case we need to mark our trail.” Kham had a bottle of the inky stuff that he trailed along behind him.

“Did it ever occur to you that you’re giving anything hostile a trail to follow us?” asked Vlad.

Kham shrugged. “Anything that wants to find us in this place will, trust me.”

All the hallway doors suddenly swung open and then slammed shut. The resulting draft extinguished the lights.

“Not a problem.” Kham rapped Daemonscar, the breastplate he wore underneath his overcoat. “I can see just fine.”

“Me too,” said Beldin. “A little bit like home, actually.”

Vlad cleared his throat. “While I’m perfectly capable of fighting blind, I can’t see in the dark like you two.” There was the sound of Vlad fumbling in his pack.

“Vlad!” shouted Kham. “Don’t—“

Vlad’s tindertwig flared to life.

All the candles in the hall magically lit at the same time with a brilliant flash. The light was reflected off the walls, ceiling and floor and off the highly polished chandeliers and candelabra.

“Damn it Vlad!” shouted Beldin.

The flash blinded them all. All they could see was white. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:20 AM


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