The Labyrinth

We have been marching for days. Our Kaia swore we took the same path, but it's different now. We kept walking, thinking we should see something familiar soon, but I think we might be lost.   Lost; how do you get lost following a straight line?  
  A space between spaces, the Labyrinth stretches across the depths of Araea, separate yet connected to every place beneath the Surface. It is a dark and alien place, an impossible mimicry of the world outside it, where caverns and tunnels warp into impossible landscapes. It is a place where time and space mean little - a journey through the Labyrinth can span both, taking travelers to the far-flung ends of Araea. Some arrive before they set out from their first destination, while an unfortunate few have seen centuries pass outside the Labyrinth.   Only the lost find their way into the Labyrinth, stumbling through hidden gateways. Such gates can be anywhere and everywhere, from dark alleys in the sprawling caverns of city-states to the unknown wilderness of the Far Deep.  

by Nele-Diel

 

Geography

Even horrors need a home.  
  The Labyrinth is a broken mirror of the world - a patchwork of places from everywhere in Araea. The dizzying chasms of the Far Deep blend into spiderweb tunnels of the Outer Shell, then take on the aspect of the obsidian halls of Atharkam, all within the span of a short journey. It is a mad maze, constantly shifting into some new form.  
by A Feline At Epiologue
  Travel is unpredictable within the Labyrinth - with the same path leading to a different place every time. Distance shrinks or expands, with lost travelers wandering the same tunnel for days without change, or scale cliffs in what seems like seconds. A fall of miles can end without harm, while one of inches can crush an unfortunate soul into a pile of broken bones.  
It is a dangerous place, where a single misstep can be fatal.
  As caverns fold in on themselves, passages twist and warp, up or down cease to have meaning. Travelers sometimes find themselves walking across the ceiling or staring at a river coursing through the stone above their heads.
 
Stay long enough in the Labyrinth, and all roads eventually lead to either freedom or the Dark City.
  Within its shifting halls, the Labyrinth hide caverns of living flesh and chasms of crystals. Despite its ever-changing nature, some places appear for enough travelers to be named in tomes like the dread Black Key. These are places like House of Cages, a gulf covered in giant spiderwebs and dangling iron cages, or the Mirrored Halls, with its gleaming quartz walls. For every impossibility, another journey beckons those lost within the Labyrinth.    

Things In The Dark

Nightmares dwell here, when there are no children for them to haunt.  
  It is said that the Labyrinth is never empty - that there is always some lost soul damned to walk in its darkness. Though the truth is uncertain, the lost are the only true life in the Labyrinth, though a meeting between two parties is exceedingly rare. Humans are not the only ones who stumble into the Labyrinth, but beasts and monsters join them there, wandering until they either die or... Change.  
Along with the lost, spirits roam the Labyrinth, more manifest in flesh here than perhaps anywhere else in Araea. These spirits are skulking, crawling terrors, as alien as their home, the most common of which are the human-like Specters.   Though they come in many forms, labyrinth spirits often wear the skin of creatures lost within the Labyrinth or clad themselves in the memories of their prey.
by The Rake Creepypasta
  They are born to the Labyrinth's twisted reality, able to navigate its warped reality without trouble to ambush travelers from improbable places - rising out of their victim's shadow or seeping out of the walls like water and smoke.  
Specters are not the only spirit that haunts the Labyrinth, and there are parts of the darkness where even they fear to tread.
  Those who stay too long within the Labyrinth inevitably become part of it. They lose their sense of self and become more like the terrors native to the place, becoming less like flesh and more like nightmares the longer they stay.    

A World Within

You might as well go looking for the Labyrinth.  
— Common saying, for things hard to find.
  To most, the Labyrinth is a dread legend, told across the Inner Shell. In Dhanû, it is a purgatory for oathbreakers to be damned in, while others believe it to be a pathway towards an afterlife or a place where the wicked go to become monsters. In truth, if there is a logic to when doorways into the Labyrinth open or why some are chosen over others, it has yet to be discovered. Most simply hope they never have to examine the truth in person, and getting lost in the Labyrinth is relatively rare.  
Fear is always fertile ground for business, and so some sell keys purported to open gates into or out of the Labyrinth, or wards that keep travelers safe.
Spirits   Alien and ethereal, spirits are primordial and magical creatures. Spirits are birthed from the center of earthquakes, the last breath of a dying man, or the scream of a falling star. Their motives and agendas are not driven by things like hunger, ambition, or even survival but bizarre and even ritualistic compulsions.   The Labyrinth is a place of Spirits - a rare place not wholly of the physical world, where humanity can ever-so-briefly touch eternity.   Read More About Spirits

Thaumaturgy in the Labyrinth

Like wildfire, Thaumaturgy in the Labyrinth is both powerful and unpredictable compared to elsewhere. Here, the skein that separates the world from spirits is thin, and magi can pierce it with ease. Slowing the flow of energy once they have done so is another matter, however.   Everything touched by Thaumaturgy takes on a life of its own, twisting and warping into shapes unbidden by the magi, reminding them that any power they might are like sparks stolen from a bonfire.   Read More About Thaumaturgy  
To the Desolate, being trapped in the Labyrinth is a waking nightmare that turn the whispers in their souls into harrowing screams.
     

The Dark City

Few things ever remain the same within the Labyrinth, but the Dark City is one of them. All who have stumbled upon the crumbling metropolis describe the same sight - an ancient city of vast size that seems to combine aspects of every settlement within Araea. From the palace of nobility to the worst slums of Mharaji, everything lies within the Dark City.   Like the caverns of the Labyrinth, the city is an impossible construct where buildings lead into one another, supported by nothing and with no logical layout. It is a maze of twisted artifice and vengeful spirits. Few have ever seen it - fewer still have returned.   Read More About The Dark City  
Like a living heart, the Dark City sits at the center of the Labyrinth, warping it with every beat.
by MrZarono
 

Specters

Neither spirit or beast, specters are something inbetween, as much part of the Labyrinth as the hungry darkness. Though dressed in the familiar shape of a human, the Specters are never quite fully formed, but mangled as if someone was trying to remember what mankind looked like.   No one passes through the Labyrinth without the Specters running into them - sooner or later.   Read More About Specters    
Some blasphemous whispers say that the Labyrinth is not a place, but a being - a single, vast world-spirit, slowly devouring the whole of Araea.
   
by Sir Chester Cobblepot
The desperate sometimes seek the Labyrinth looking for memories long lost. If the Labyrinth reshapes space and time as well as stone, they hope, perhaps they can find parts of their own past within it. Those who hunt their personal daemons within that realm of madness are seldom seen again, many becoming the thing they sought to slay.   Others venture there seeking power, wealth, or knowledge they think lies hidden from the world, but the Labyrinth does not part with its secrets easily.  
The Key of the Black Star speaks of Gates; permanent portals that lead into the Labyrinth, scattered across the Far Deep... And beyond it, into a realm of where spirits dwell in their full glory.   There, fools imagine themselves becoming gods.
 
by KPEKEP
 

       



Cover image: by HKLovecraft

Comments

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30 Dec, 2019 20:23

Love the creepy feel! Perfect!

30 Dec, 2019 20:42

Thank you so much :D I am glad you enjoyed the read; stay tuned for the Dark City, where things also get pretty wacky and weird!


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
30 Dec, 2019 20:46

Oh, I'm looking forward to it!

30 Dec, 2019 23:28

"We are never going to find the chamber! It says in the journal that it is a place that cannot be found on any map, that no compass will point to, that no path can reach. How does one find such a place if it is inherently impossible?!"   "Simple, old friend. First, one has to become lost..."
  Feel free to use the idea :D The first thing the Labyrinth made me think of was a Pirates of the Caribbean-like story, you know, locating a treasure or secret in a location that is nowhere. Then, one of the characters who has seen some things has the idea of "getting lost", using the Labyrinth to go where no man can go.

17 Jun, 2021 00:32

So creepy! But I love this article. It reminds me of this horror movie one of my foreign exchange classmates watched during art class as she drew! It wasn't in English, so I have no clue what was happening, except that it seemed to be in an underground labyrinth. Very good article! :)

~TimeBender~Check out the first chapter of my newest book on World Anvil (Spoiler I'm posting the entire book for free): 1/The First Rule of Monsterborn Adoptions
18 Jun, 2021 19:03

Hey, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!   You caught me mid-edit, and I just finished re-writing large chunks of it to make it even more awesometacular :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
18 Jun, 2021 22:14

Ooh, allow me to check this out again then! Okay, I've reread it, and I think it's even creepier than before. But in such a marvelous way! The Specters are so terrifying, and the artwork added to this makes it even more foreboding. I think you've officially made it perfect! In a horrifying way. :D Great work!

~TimeBender~Check out the first chapter of my newest book on World Anvil (Spoiler I'm posting the entire book for free): 1/The First Rule of Monsterborn Adoptions
21 Jun, 2021 16:43

Well this is absolutely terrifying. No thank you.

21 Jun, 2021 18:12

:D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
1 Jul, 2021 19:46

That tiny quote "Even horrors need a home" is what really edged up the creepy factor for me. Man, this place sounds horrifying. I really want to explore it.

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
2 Jul, 2021 07:26

I am particularly pleased about the quote, so I'm glad it worked <3   Thank you :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
2 Jul, 2021 17:34

Exquisitely creepy! love it :D

Dare you travel the sacred waters of the The Great Nirkana.? Our entry for the River Challenge. Tell us what you think!   Please check out our project Chronicles of Evalaw or come chat with us on our Discord Server!
2 Jul, 2021 18:06

Thanks!


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
2 Sep, 2021 00:45

I'm scared!! I made the correct decision of reading this while listening to spooky music for maximum effect! If I have nightmares I'm blaming you :P

2 Sep, 2021 08:25

Let me know if you wake up in the Dark City :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.