Penumbral Arena of Goals
As we were getting closer to the gate, the blue glow coming from it was clearly visible. There was also the roar and the smell of the water.Penumbral Arena of Goals is one of the most well-known Halls of the Dark Halls. Approaching the gates leading to it, one will be welcomed by a sight of an enormous whirlpool, spreading to each of its walls. It's one of the few Halls where the entry gates aren't at the ground level, and it isn't sure if there even is ground in this one. Any tries of checking the depth failed, either the measuring instruments were too short or the one using them was pulled down into the vortex.
There was a market at the gate, but we didn't really have anything to trade with. Shame, since they had many wonderful things there.
I saw it. The giant whirlpool, the frail bridges made out of planks above it. It looked as if they were to fall apart any second. Is it really the safest way?
The Great Whirlpool is constantly growing and is predicted to change its classification and properties to a Space within the next few years. Currently, the Hall's length and width are 7 by 7 kilometers. The ceiling is located only 30 meters above the entry gate level. The waters of the Hall give off a blue glow, strong enough that anything above the water level is protected from the hunger of the darkness.
Moving bridgesThe only way to move through here is to use the bridges leading from each gate to the middle of the Hall, where all of them meet, forming a circle of a 1 km diameter. The bridges are wooden. They're made out of crudely nailed planks and stand on very long "legs". They are a part of the Hall. When entering it, they change their width to barely suit the traveler or their vehicle. That's why when a caravan shows up at one of the gates, a lot of people will join it to travel on a slightly wider path. But the width of the bridges isn't the only thing that makes them so dangerous. Whether is it because of their construction or because there is some malice to them, parts of them move when someone walks on them. They'll sway from side to side, dip down or swing upwards, or start to shake as if they were to break apart at any moment. Traveling using them requires some skill and those who master it can even predict the next moves of the planks as soon as they step on them.
"Don't look down into its eye, son. Many people lost their balance doing so. Even more of them felt its pull. And a few listened to it. So it's best just not to look there."
FishermenFor those who have lost their goals and couldn't move on, the only way to regain them is to fish. They sit in one spot, trying to catch anything in the swirling waters beneath them. If they're lucky, they'll maybe catch a few goals that day. Probably not ones of their own. But once in a while one of them isn't quick enough to reel back their line before something bigger catches it. Not quick enough to drop their rod before it's too late. Not lucky enough to have someone close by to catch them before they get pulled down, never to be seen again. The fishermen rarely change their spots, sitting on the same part of the bridge. And while the bridges widen enough so that one can pass or drive by them, it's still a tight fit. More than once their not wanting to move has led to scuffles and even some deaths when they or the ones who wanted to move them to the side fell off the bridge.
UnderwaterWhile one might wonder how is it even possible to lose something in this Hall with so much light, they'd understand as soon as they'd look beneath the surface of the water. Even 1 cm below, the water is pitch black. Any tries to make it any brighter have as of yet failed. And while one couldn't even see their own hand just in front of their face, the fish-like creatures that live here can be seen at some distance even with a camera, depending on their species. Most of them show up 1 meter or less away, while the record goes to the school of white, almost glowing fish, and a pair of giant serpents, which could be seen from 50 meters.
Shadows in the waterNot much is known about the beings living in the waters of the Great Whirlpool and not many of them have been witnessed. Here are some of them:
Giant serpentsThe smallest spotted specimen was 10 meters long, and the largest was so big it couldn't be measured. There are only four instances recorded where they emerged from the waters to attack the people inside the Hall. They did so by destroying the bridges and catching everyone who fell down.
Serpents always seem to travel in pairs.
ScorpiontailsLiving up to their name, those 2 meters long fish possess a sting on the end of their curved tails. While they don't emerge from the water to hunt, they are one of the quickest fish to react when someone falls into the water. When they approach their prey, they'll try to stab it all the way through to pull it lower into the darkness.
Jumping hookfishThe cause of most human deaths among all of the fish of the Great Whirlpool, jumping hookfish live up to their name by launching themselves from the water at unsuspecting targets. With the help of the clawlike growths on the front of their heads, similar to the claws of a giant water bug, they grab onto their prey and pull it down back to the water. The sound of them jumping out of the water is pretty loud so if someone reacts quickly and falls to the planks of the bridge can most certainly dodge the attack of those predators.
In the pastThe Penumbral Arena of Goals started out as a 1x1 m room. Even back then, the whirlpool was still there. Since there was no danger, many people used the Hall to move quickly. And for a long time, it remained the same.
That was until the first incident.
Three friends traveled together through the Dark Halls. They had some loot to sell and had to repair their gear before continuing their journey.Since the incident, the Hall grew more often, never slowing down. At some point, a plank leading from one of its entrances to another showed up. It was wobbly and slippery, and so it was the source of the new victims. But the people still used the Hall, since it still was smaller and safer than its neighbors. The plank got replaced by the bridges, and soon the Archivist showed up. The fish started appearing in the waters below. And that's how it became what it is now.
Their path led them through the new Hall, known back then as a Whirlpool in a Closet, a small, safe room that would save them half an hour of walking through its bigger neighbors.
Once they reached it, they started going through it one by one. The first one passed, and so did the second. But when the third one stepped through it, their foot slipped on the edge of the room and fell into the water. Their friend in front of them turned around and grabbed their hand to help them get out. But in those few seconds, the darkness waiting in the waters fed, and it ate a lot. It ate so much that after all that time of stasis, the Hall started to grow immediately. The growth was so sudden that the third traveler lost their balance, falling down and pulling their friend with them into the dark abyss beneath them. The first traveler tried to jump close to the edge to catch the two of their friends but by then, the Hall grew so much that they would never reach them. And then it was too late.
Great Whirlpool, Vortex of Goals, Rickety bridges hall
Level of light needed:
Penumbral - Even moonlight could protect someone.
Light coverage area:
1 goal - The Hall takes something someone wanted to do, be it getting out of the Dark Halls or visiting someone. In worst cases, it can take away someone's "goal" of going to sleep, patching up their wounds, or saving themselves from the whirlpool.
The sensation is similar to something ripping velcro from one's body.
Giant whirlpool, moving bridges
Giant fish that sometimes decide to
emerge from the water, lesser shadow
Archivist of the roomArchivist status: Alive
While it doesn't really guide people, the Archivist of this Hall is both a great protector and a lifesaver. It wears a long, dark blue Archivist's cape and the patterns on it give off the same light the waters of the Great Whirlpool do. It is often seen around the center of the Hall where it fishes using its "limbs".
"Limbs"This Archivist can produce five pairs of long legs, similar to those of a Japanese spider crab, from within its robe. The legs can change their length, but their maximum is unknown for the same reasons that the bottom of the Hall hasn't been found yet. If someone falls from the bridge close to this Archivist, it'll try to catch them before they even hit the water. It also hunts down any naughty fish that don't stay away from the surface by using them as spears.
A hub HallThanks to its many connections to other Halls (right now there are more than 20 gates connected), the Whirlpool of Goals quickly became a very popular traveling hub. Its gates are often used as safe marketplaces, bartering with any caravan or traveler that passes through. And while the quality won't be as good as in some settlements, one can buy almost anything here, especially if they decide to wait for other merchants to come.
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This gorgeous article reads like a text adventure and dungeon master's location guide in one neat package. P.s. I've featured this article in my New Year's Resolutions article <3
Scary as heck, part of me wants to pull a clever move to get across, but part of me makes me realise that is how you become food for the hall to grow more... Honestly I'd want to figure out if you can starve it, but that involves preventing people from crossing and the resulting struggle would just feed it more...
Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
I'm happy to hear you like it and even happier that this place got you invested enough that you try to find a way to defeat it in any way. :D
Some people have two wolves inside them, I have a criminal and a murderhobo: How can we use it, how can we kill it. XD
Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young