Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol ---&RPwaward

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Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol ---&RPwaward

Post by Baerand » Fri Nov 11, 2022 7:33 pm

Template to use when awarding stories/ other entries:

Ely edit Dec 29 2022:

1-6 qps, depending on length and quality.

Potential +1 qp: if part of a series: x (x6)

Total: 7 parts + 6 series bonus

I loved this, such a detailed report AND story.

An introductory note written within a simple, leather-bound journal:

"On this 20th day of Tammaz in the year 1482 do I, Baerand of Andor, and my brother Ibelith (also of Andor) set out from Caemlyn in search of
adventure, knowledge, and (hopefully) treasure. Our destination is the fabled and infamous city of Aridhol, better known today by its more
sinister name:

Shadar Logoth

Many are the legends of this once glorious city, foremost in it's hatred for the Dark One and his foul creations--a hatred which ran so deep that it corrupted the very souls of the inhabitants to the point of destroying themselves in a single night of murderous fury. And at the center of their descent into madness and death was the enigmatic Mordeth, an obscure figure who came from Light-knows where and whose shade is reputed to haunt the city even still, if the tales are to be believed.

Why then would someone seek such a place, you might ask. I'm not sure that even we know, except that we find ourselves unable to resist its pull.

Herein do I seek to thoroughly and faithfully keep record of our expedition. Perhaps others will read it upon a glorious and fruitful return and feel inspired to embark upon their own grand adventures. Or perhaps it will be found upon my body, clutched in a skeletal hand, a warning to other bold fools who would seek to delve into dark places where they should not. Or perhaps it will never be found at all, devoured by the same evil which devoured Aridhol.

Whatever may happen, we find ourselves unable to resist the city's dark allure.

The Light preserve and protect us."

*** A sliver of light opens into a hole in the 4th Wall ***
This will be an ongoing series of in-game journal entries as me and my friend Ibelith explore and try to solve the enigma of Shadar Logoth. Fair warning that there will be some spoilers in here for anyone looking to solve it themselves.

Also, replies and feedback are very welcome, but please do not post any hints or spoilers.

Thank you!
Baerand's Player
*** The sliver of light blinks out as the hole in the 4th Wall collapses ***
Last edited by Baerand on Sat Nov 12, 2022 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol

Post by Baerand » Sat Nov 12, 2022 1:18 am

A series of entries written in a simple, leather-bound journal:

"23 Tam 1482

The journey from Caemlyn to Whitebridge was uneventful save for a handful of shadoweyes that needed blinding. We'll resupply, get a good night's sleep, and begin our search in the morning.

While not exactly a "lost city," it seems the precise location of Aridhol is far from common knowledge. From what I've been able to piece together, it most likely lies somewhere north of Whitebridge along the River Arinelle.

Tomorrow we leave through the north gate and begin our search along the river."


"28 Tam 1482

After nearly a week of fruitless searching, we've found no sign of any ancient structure, much less the ruins of Aridhol.

The sole exception is a fascinating chunk of shaped stone which can be found just outside the north gate to Whitebridge. Though we can't tell what it is or what it was used for, heavy weathering would suggest it was shaped centuries ago, if not millennia. Despite the wear, we were able to make out a symbol carved into it, the flowing lines of which suggest a reference to the element of "air" or perhaps "water."

As fascinating as this object is, though, it almost certainly has nothing to do with Aridhol. Perhaps I will return here at a later date to study it more thoroughly, but for now I must keep myself on task.

Tomorrow we shall cross the great bridge--in whose shade we now rest--and search along the western bank of the Arinelle."


"10 Maig 1482

Finally! A massive ruin in a valley near the river, ancient and foreboding and timeless all at the same time. A huge gate, open to the world and yet not a soul for miles around. Even the forest seems reluctant to venture past the threshold and into the city.

There can be no doubt: We stand before the dread city, Shadar Logoth.

It's been a difficult search. 10 days have passed since we departed Whitebridge and for most of that our efforts had seemed to be in vain. More than once we'd considered turning back, but just couldn't bring ourselves to do it. It seems our resilience paid off.

Ironically enough, it was our chance meeting with the Ogier that had convinced us we were on the right track. They had not wanted to speak about this place, had outright refused to, but it was their stark refusal to even discuss it which had convinced us that the ruins must be near. It was the nervous way the youngest Ogier kept glancing towards the east which had pointed our way.

A day's ride east brought us to the remnants of an old trail leading south, overgrown with thick bushes. The following morning we followed the trail south and then east to where it finally ended. Here.

We've pitched camp just out of sight of the gate, a short ways to the south. That nagging feeling of being watched seems less potent here. Try as I might, I can't seem to shake it. There is definitely something wrong about this place.

We'll begin our exploration after sunrise tomorrow. The legends speak of Mashadar, a mindless predatory mist, lurking in the dark corners of the city during the day and coming out at night to hunt. One touch of that mist is said to be fatal. Or worse.

Ibelith and I agreed to take turns on watch, but what's the point? Neither of us is getting any sleep anyway."

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Re: Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol

Post by Baerand » Sat Nov 12, 2022 8:51 pm

An entry written in a simple, leather-bound journal:

"11 Maig 1482

Today we took our first tentative steps into the city.

Just past the gate, we found ourselves on a wide street running east to west through the city, the breadth of which could rival the boulevards of most great cities today. This street is flanked on either side by grand buildings of immense proportions. Given these grand edifices, and the width and quality of the construction, we suspect this was the city's main thoroughfare. For reference, I will refer to this as the "Main Street".

Other streets branch off from the main at right angles, and the first of these--a narrower way leading north towards an old tower--was the one we focused our attention on today. For reference, I will henceforth refer to this street as "1 North".

With the exception of the tower, on which I will relate more below, there seems to be nothing remarkable about the buildings along this street. About halfway down 1 North, however, a side street branches off east into an alley. At first glance there is nothing special about it, but as we had started to turn back, we spotted something interesting. Scratched into the back wall of the alley is what appears to be a message, although worn beyond our ability to read. Even Ibelith with his sharp hunter's eyes was unable to make any of it out. For now, I'll make a note of it to revisit later.

At the far end of 1 North on the western side of the street stands the tower I mentioned earlier. Based on its height and position near the walls I'd guess it was once used as a watchtower. Although its top has started to crumble away, the lower level seems to have remained relatively sound.

Feeling bold we ventured in for a look.

The bottom floor was empty and bare of any furnishings or signs of habitation. Not entirely unexpected given the age of the ruins, and yet it left me with an eerie feeling.

Moving up to the second floor, we saw that it too was bare of all adornment with one exception: a single gold coin lying dead center in the middle of the floor. It was shiny, gleaming as if it had been minted this morning.

The legends speak of cursed treasures within Shadar Logoth, treasures which poison the soul of those who take it. Some say that taking even a single piece of that tainted treasure outside the gate would free the evil which resides within.

Perhaps we're overreacting but for now we've decided that leaving the coin where we found it is the prudent choice. For now, anyway.

The way up to the third floor is heavily damaged and even that floor of the tower seems like it could collapse at the slightest provocation. If we wanted to risk it, we could probably manage to climb up there, but for now it's not worth the risk.

Realizing it was getting close to sunset, we decided to start heading back to camp. As we left the tower, we made note of a metal door set into street, likely a passage to the city's ancient sewer system. We will return at some point to pry it open and see where it leads.

Notes for future consideration:
1. The scribbling in the alley
2. The entrance to the sewer
3. The crown in the tower"


Scribbled in a hurried hand beneath the entry above:

"What did I just see? Are my eyes playing tricks on me or did I actually see it?

It's the middle of the night. I couldn't hold it anymore and had to go empty the old waterskin, but I must've walked further than I realized because before I knew it I was within view of the gate. Through the opening I could see a thick fog rolling in, brightly illuminated in the ample moonlight. Except that I've never seen fog change direction like that.

Could it have been a normal fog? We are very close to the river. Or a trick of the light? Or is it Mashadar hunting for souls to devour? I didn't stick around to find out.

Looks like it'll be another sleepless night."

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Re: Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol

Post by Baerand » Sun Nov 13, 2022 6:52 pm

An entry written in a simple, leather-bound journal:

"12 Maig 1482

We returned to the city today.

I shall not forget what we found there. Not if I live until Tarmon Gai'don.

It's been my experience that one must show a certain willingness to suspend belief to embark on an undertaking such as this one. For if we were to reflect too much on the terrible nature of this place, of what happened here, of what still lurks here in the shadows, could we then still find the nerve to continue?

Up to today, the legend of Aridhol had just been a story: a tale of events from hundreds of years past. Even standing within the city, amidst the empty buildings and quiet streets, it was hard to imagine that such a terrible catastrophe could have happened right there.

That's no longer true. I have seen the evidence and can delude myself no longer.

I'll get to that, but for the sake of coherence I will relate our finds chronologically.

We got an early start, eating and making our preparations before the sun rose. I told Ibelith of what I saw last night and we resolved to take no chances on getting stuck in the city after dark. We stepped off as soon as the sun was up, hoping to make the most of the time we had.

We were relieved to find the mist was gone (if it had ever really been there), and proceeded cautiously into the city.

This time we decided to walk down Main Street taking note of the buildings we saw there.

Just past 1 North on Main Street are two buildings facing each other on opposite sides of the street. To the north is a large domed building with two floors which might've once been a palace or a meeting hall. We conducted a brief search but were unable to find anything of note.

The building to the south seems to have been the residence of a rich or important person, although it's hard to say for sure without any furnishings or other artifacts to judge by. This building has a large balcony on the southern side which overlooks an alley connecting to another street.

We returned to the Main Street and continued east where it opens up into a square with a magnificent stone fountain in the center. Looking into it, we expected to find it dry after the long centuries and were surprised to find it filled with a foul dark liquid. Curious, Ibelith produced an empty flask and carefully filled it from the fountain for later study.

It's fortunate that he exercised care and did not put the flask immediately back into his pack, for within minutes of its collection the dark liquid had eaten its way through the flask, destroying it utterly and nearly taking Ibelith's hand with it.

What is this foul substance and how did such a quantity find itself into the fountain? I'm making a note of this for later consideration.

Having recovered from the shock of the fountain, we looked around the square. To the north of this square is another large building, another possible palace or public building. To the east, the main thoroughfare ends in a large open area which must have once been a park or public garden. To the south, a winding street leads to other parts of the city. This appears to be another main thoroughfare through the city, but to avoid confusion with the E-W route, I will refer to this route as simply "1 South".

We entered the large building north of the fountain and looked around. This one too was devoid of any signs of habitation or conflict. In the the northwest room there is a stairway leading up, although centuries of neglect leaves its integrity questionable. Similarly, there is a stairway down into darkness in the southwest room, but it too looks questionable and it is impossible to tell from the landing how far down it goes.

We decided to leave these untouched for now and returned to the square.

And then, Light help us, we entered the park.

What we saw was so horrible that our minds were not immediately able to process what we were seeing. The ground was broken in every place by countless mounds. Protruding from many of these mounds were countless still forms, earthy in color and knobby like the roots of trees. Upon closer inspection we were struck dumb by what we were looking at.

It was a mass grave. A grave for thousands of corpses, buried in shallow earth, barely enough to cover the bodies in most cases. They were thrown into the ground without honor, without care, denied any kind respect of dignity or even a marker besides a broken lump of earth thrown carelessly over them. With half-buried bodies and limbs sticking out everywhere it looked like a sick mockery of a garden.

And just like that the gleeman’s tale of Aridhol has become the irrefutable reality of Shadar Logoth. The gravity of it all leaves me feeling weak in the knees.

Sickened and running low on time, we decided to end the day's expedition on this ghastly note and returned to camp.

I hadn't realized it in my haste to be away from that place, but something suddenly strikes me as incredibly odd. Typically all that remains of centuries-old corpses left in such a way are a few bones or perhaps a complete skeleton, if adequately protected from the predations of scavengers. The corpses we saw today, though, were remarkably well preserved with (desiccated) flesh on the bones despite being buried in shallow graves.

If those people died during the fall of Aridhol, how have their bodies remained so intact? And if they didn't, then where in the bloody hell did they come from?

The implications are disturbing."

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Re: Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol

Post by Baerand » Mon Nov 14, 2022 10:39 pm

An entry written in a simple, leather-bound journal:

"13 Maig 1482

I’m not sure how we found the nerve, but sunrise saw us once more passing through that oppressive arch. We were pretty shaken by what we’d found yesterday, but once the shock had worn off the curiosity had set back in even stronger than before.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t get us killed.

We’ve decided to explore deeper into the city today. Once we’ve gotten the lay of the land and seen what there is left to see, perhaps we’ll be able to make sense of everything.

We followed Main Street east to the fountain, then turned onto South 1 and followed it. Unlike Main, South 1 doesn’t cut a straight line but rather winds generally southwestward through the city until it ends in a “T” intersection at the southern wall of the city. Streets run east and west from the intersection along the southern wall: Functionally, these could be considered parts of the same street, but to avoid confusion I will refer to these as “1 East” and “1 West” respectively.

We turned down 1 West and followed it to the end, where it stops in front of a modest dwelling and hooks abruptly towards the north into a dead-end alley. Within the alley, corpses were piled against the far wall, in the same state of unnatural semi-decay as the ones in the park.

The corpses being completely exposed, we were able to examine them more closely without disturbing the remains. They all had exceptionally grievous wounds. Ibelith and I have seen our share of battle and are no strangers to blood and gore, but this was beyond anything we’d seen before. Only trollocs could come close with their gleeful indulgence in causing pain, but this would put them to shame. The hands that made these wounds were driven by an extreme hatred. Light, and it happened on such a scale!

I happened to glance up from the pile and noticed a balcony overlooking the alley. With surprise, I recognized it as the balcony from the wealthy residence; the balcony we’d been standing on yesterday. This must’ve been the alley I’d seen, although I’d somehow missed the tragic sight below.

Suddenly I’m struck by another unnerving thought: I hadn’t smelled it either. You would expect the stench of death to permeate this place but so far I’ve smelt nothing except the mustiness of old buildings. What is the meaning of this?

Leaving the alley, we decided to check out the home we’d seen earlier. We entered the front door and found ourselves in a small room with nothing in it except a ladder to the next level. With nothing to see in this room, we took the ladder up and were surprised to find it was not completely empty.

The first thing we noticed was a black safe in the corner of the room. It resembled the one at the bank in Caemlyn but on a much smaller scale. The knob on the front--the means of opening it I assume--has the digits 1 through 4 printed around the edge at regular intervals. Just above this is a small arrow pointing down at the top edge of the knob.

Curious, we tried turning the knob, but neither of us could get it to budge even a little bit. Perhaps its inner workings are jammed up or maybe it just needs oil. Where did such a thing come from anyway? It’s hard to believe it’s been sitting there over the long centuries. Did the people of Aridhol even know how to make such a thing? In any case, we’ll keep it in mind for later.

The second thing we noticed was that the sense of dread which seems to follow us in the city--that sense of being constantly watched by malevolent eyes--was gone in this room. It felt peaceful, somehow isolated from the darkness that afflicts the rest of the city.

It felt so peaceful, in fact, that we were reluctant to leave when we noticed the sun was getting lower, but we climbed back down and made our way back to camp.

As we sit here in relative safety, I find myself reflecting on what we’ve found so far. Aside from the troubling scene in the park, we’ve found almost nothing except a few disjointed clues. We have, perhaps, confirmed that the legends are true. But we didn’t come here to confirm if the legends were true; not just that anyway. We want to know what life was like here. Who were the people that lived and died here? What was this place like before it fell into darkness?

And that most pressing of questions: What’s inside that bloody safe?"

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Re: Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol

Post by Baerand » Wed Nov 16, 2022 12:16 am

An entry written in a simple, leather-bound journal:

"14 Maig 1482

Today we explored the final quarter of the city, allowing us to complete our street-level map of the city.

We got the usual start before sunrise, ate, and were off at first light. We followed Main to the fountain, then followed 1 South to the "T" and then turned onto 1 East into the southeast quarter.

This quarter is dominated by the largest structure we've seen in the city, nearly twice the size of the large building north of the main square! We caught a glimpse of it from the street, but the only part of the building which is adjacent to the street has no entrance, just a single dark window set high in the sheer wall. More of this building could be seen over the roof of the only other structure in this quarter--a long and narrow building with two doorways facing the street--but the way inside the larger building was not immediately evident from where we stood.

We entered the first doorway of the smaller structure and saw that the inside of this building was of a single large room. From where we stood, we could see light coming in through the second door. At first glance, the floor in the center of the room seemed darker than the rest: closer examination by lantern-light revealed that there was no floor there at all, but a great pit of unknown depth. A fall into there would almost certainly be fatal.

The most interesting feature of the room, though, is a great stone basin carved all over with lines and symbols that are unknown to us. It seems to be cut out of a single block of stone and almost seems one with the structure it's housed in. Inside this bowl is a shallow pool of a clear liquid which appears to be clean water, but given our close call with the fountain we decided not to risk it.

As to its purpose, my best guess is that it was used for some kind of ritual, perhaps a cleansing ritual or something of that sort. Perhaps this building was once a temple where priests would purify themselves at the bowl before conducting a rite.

For now, its just another enigma to add to the list.

We left through the same door we came in and peeked in the other door. From what we could see, this side was as empty as most of the rest of the city, but future scrutiny later may be justified.

We followed 1 East a little ways further to where it met the eastern wall of the city and then hooked around to the south. I'm not sure if it's a necessary distinction, but just in case, we'll call this southward stretch of the street "2 South."

2 South runs along the side of the larger building and curves in to the west at the junction of the southern and eastern walls. This curve in the road deposits you finally at the entrance of the larger building.

We went inside and found ourselves in a receiving room of sorts bare except for a single stairway leading up. Taking the stairway up, we found ourselves in a room with a locked iron door and a hallway leading off to the left into the building.

Standing there, I could've sworn that there was a yellow light shining around the edges of that door. Something about it was just so inviting. Ibelith had the same feeling and we moved on, the dire warnings of legend foremost in our minds.

Following the hallway around to its end we passed through a few large chambers, all empty of furnishings, until we found ourselves looking out the same window overlooking 1 East we'd seen earlier. We stood there for a little bit looking out over the city and pondering what we'd found.

Then we turned and made our way back through the building--careful to avoid that tantalizing pull from the door--and out into the street.

As we walked back to camp, Ibelith posed an interesting theory: he believes that house we'd seen yesterday--the one with the safe on the upper level--might be protected somehow from the evil of the city. In fact, he thinks it was set up to be that way by someone in the past to serve as a refuge in the city after dark.

He may be right, but I'm hesitant to try it. The touch of Mashadar is worse than death, they say.

Still, it's worth keeping in mind if we find ourselves in a desperate situation.

Tomorrow will see us beginning a more thorough exploration of the places we've mapped out. We have lots of clues, but they don't add up to anything.

We need to look harder."

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Re: Secrets in the Mist: In the Halls of Aridhol

Post by Baerand » Wed Nov 16, 2022 3:43 pm

An entry written in a simple, leather-bound journal:

"15 Maig 1482

We had a very close shave today. A moment of hesitation longer is all it would have taken.

Had I not been on the edge of paranoia already, I likely would have noticed the water rising too late. Fortunately for us, we are too aware of the dangers here to get comfortable.

The day we get comfortable here is the day we die.

As related in my last entry, we completed the street-level map of the city, but there was one area that we had yet to explore: the sewers.

We got the usual start and made our way to the end of 1 North. To date, this is the only entrance we’ve found into the sewers, although we allow there may be others we’ve yet to find. Removing the cover was easy enough and found that the rungs leading down were in respectable shape for being so old. We climbed down and stepped into a foul and brackish water which came up to our ankles.

At the base of the ladder, we found a sobering reminder of the inherent dangers of adventuring. A skeleton lay there sticking up out of the foul waters. Unlike the other corpses we’ve found, this one was completely bare of all tissues, and yet it seemed somehow less ancient than the others. An adventurer, most likely, who came here for the same reasons we did. We felt a sense of kinship with this lost explorer.

As any experienced adventurer will tell you, a skeleton can be a crucial--if tragic—warning of danger and if you can determine the cause of death, it can help you determine the nature of the threat. In our case, though, with the flesh gone and the skeleton essentially complete and undamaged, the cause of death was not apparent.

Still the warning was there, and it served to save our lives in the end.

I searched the remains as respectfully as I could, hoping to find a clue. A journal perhaps or a key or other artifact which may be of use, or something which might tell us who they were.

No such luck, the only worldly thing left to the skeleton wears the tattered clothing in which it lay. We said a quick prayer and moved on, alert to the unknown danger lurking within.

From the entrance, the sewer tunnel comes to a “T” branching east and west. We followed the west branch around a corner and up into an isolated chamber with a large rusty lever. With no idea of what it did we decided to leave it alone.

We returned to the “T” and took the eastern branch, which turns sharply right after a short way and ends at an open area with a grate in the floor. Despite our efforts we were not able to make it budge or make out anything beyond it. On the eastern side of the room is a sort of shelf which one can climb with little effort, although it doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. Disappointed, we climbed back down and thought about what to do next.

We returned to the room with the lever in it and considered pulling it. We still didn’t know what it did, although we speculated that perhaps it had something to do with the grate at the far end of the tunnel. Perhaps pulling the lever would cause the grate to open? Then again, pulling a strange lever in a dangerous place seemed like a good way to end up dead.

We pondered it for a little bit, trying to decide if we could live with not knowing what the lever did, and came to the conclusion that it was better to live without knowing than to not live at all.

Then we changed our minds and I pulled it.

Or at least, I tried to, but I couldn’t get it to budge. When Ibelith tried it, however, he had no problem pulling it down with a loud rusty shriek. He gave me a pointed look and I remarked that I must have loosened it for him.

He was not convinced. (Note to self: Lift some bloody weights once in a while!)

We could hear a rushing noise out in the corridor. I asked Ibelith to wait by the lever, in case it needed to be moved again, and I left to check on the grate. As I made my way towards the grate, however, I realized that the water level was rising. In a rush, I turned and waded back to the control room as fast as I could.

I told Ibelith we needed to leave right then, and he must’ve seen the look on my face because he asked for no explanation. We climbed out of the control room and began the desperate push towards the exit.

Every second slowed our progress as the water level rose, making our movements ever harder. At the end of the tunnel, we could see the light pouring in through the open manhole like a light from heaven.

We made it to the rungs with the water level up to our throats and clawed our way up. Ibelith pushed me up first and as I scrambled out of the hole, I turned back just in time to see him burst out of the water and clamber out like a kraken.

We took a minute to catch our breath and then, all things considered, decided to call it a day. We closed the cover and returned to camp.

I don’t think we’re done with the sewer though. I would expect the control room to be safe from the rising water, but how would the lever-puller then be able to leave? Would pulling the lever a second time release the water from the tunnel? It must but are we willing to test it when being wrong would mean certain death. And what is the purpose of that shelf by the grate?

We’ll pursue some other leads for a while to recover our nerve and then revisit it later."

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