The forest around you churns and howls. The ink-black canopy above you bleeds into the endless, unyielding maroon sky to form an oppressive and seemingly inescapable ceiling which threatens at every moment to crush you beneath its hateful mass. The ground beneath your feet moves and swells, twists and tumbles, tripping and disorienting you in your flight, and the air shakes with the cacophonous din of a thousand furious night-creatures.\n\nYou begin to run.\n\n//The End//
<<if $chapelKey eq 1>>\nYou have no reason or desire to search the chapel again.\n\n[[(Back)|The Courtyard]]\n<<else>>\nThe ancient door of the chapel cries out in protest as you pull it open. The interior of the building seems devoid of light, save for the multicolored patterns painted across the floors by the off-red light that streams through the stained glass windows. The wooden floor creaks and groans beneath your footfalls. The center of the chapel has been cleared out, all of the pews pushed to the periphery of the room. On the far side of the vacant space, a [[priest|The Priest]] kneels upon the floor, watching you, grinning obscenely.\n<<endif>>
The wide wooden doorway of the castle stronghold looks for all the world like an enormous mouth, so much so that you cannot help but feel swallowed whole as you step into the [[great hall|The Keep]].
You stand at the center of a vast and empty castle courtyard. So stark is the silence here that even your footsteps seem not to make a sound. To your right, tucked back against the outer castle walls, is a small [[chapel|The Chapel]], its stained glass windows discolored by the strange light of the ruddy sky. Opposite from the chapel on the far side of the courtyard, you can vaguely make out the castle [[stables|The Stables]].\n\nDirectly ahead of you, its menacing stone shoulders squared against the churning canvas of night, is the castle [[stronghold|...]].
\nSomehow you know that this is where the terror which plagues the Pale King is entombed.\n
The forest around you churns and howls. The ink-black canopy above you bleeds into the endless, unyielding maroon sky to form an oppressive and seemingly inescapable ceiling which threatens at every moment to crush you beneath its hateful mass. The ground beneath your feet moves and swells, twists and tumbles, tripping and disorienting you in your flight, and the air shakes with the cacophonous din of a thousand furious night-creatures. All sense of time and direction have left you and the acrid taste of encroaching sensory abandon wells up in your throat like bile. Then, all at once, the forest breaks like a fever and you find yourself before the outer gates of a great walled [[castle|Pontefract]].
The door of the final stall is already open as you approach. Looking in, you discover the source of the strange shuffling noises; a filthy man in tattered rags is kneeling in the center of the stall, twisting and drumming his feet against the dirt. His head has disappeared into the mouth of the severed head of a [[horse|The Horse]], which the man is holding up with both hands. He appears to be struggling with the head, as though he were attempting to remove it from around his own.\n\n-[[Attempt to assist the man|onE KisS shaLL sTOp oURr mOUTthS andD duMBLly paaRt]]\n-[[Draw your sword and decapitate the man|The Man in the Stable, Slain]]
The hateful stone walls press against you, grinding against you, chewing you like great and unrelenting [[teeth|deEP maAAlicE maAkesS]].
The priest remains still as you approach him, the subtle turning of his head as he continues to watch you the only sign of life. His eyes are wide, empty black voids in his skull. His grin is an abattoir of large, flat, misshapen teeth. You can hear a low, strained rattling seeping from somewhere deep within him.\n\n-[[Draw your sword and slay the priest|The Priest, Slain]]\n-[[Speak to the priest|deSTRuctTION StraiGHht ShALL dogG theM atT tHhe HeelSS]]
<<if $kitchenKey eq 1>>\nYou cannot bring yourself to return to the kitchens.\n\n[[(Back)|The Keep]]\n<<else>>\nShielding your nose with your hand against the cloying wall of stench that chokes the air, you make your way into the castle kitchens. A number of massive black [[cauldrons|Cauldron]] hang suspended in fireplaces, twisted tongues of off-yellow flame licking upward from beneath. Rancid sides of meat line the walls, pierced by great iron hooks on chains which lead straight up to the high ceiling. The white-haired corpse of a [[woman|The Kitchen Maid]] shambles from one cauldron to the next, overseeing their contents in an unending, lifeless vigil.\n<<endif>>
<<if $mercyAttempt eq 1>>\nYour body acts against your wishes. Your very veins seem filled with some abhorrent whimsy, your muscles seized and hooked by wires of unnamed force. Your hand moves to the handle of your sword, your arm rising to unsheathe the weapon.\n\nThe king watches you, his eyes never leaving yours. You pull against yourself, screaming wordlessly at your arm to stop, but you are helpless to control the actions of a body which, though yours, seems the vessel of something else.\n\nThe king leans forward and [[whispers|You are a murderer.]] to you.\n<<else>>\nRemembering your vow to the pale king to rid him of that which haunts his waking hours, you steel yourself and draw your sword. The gaunt man gives no resistance as you begin hacking his body to pieces, your mind singing with righteousness and valor. Blood sprays across your chest and arms, coating the wall and floor as you rend the sundered king apart with your blade. Finally, after long minutes of just punishment, you wipe the blood from your sword and sheathe it. You look down upon the sundered king's severed head and find that it continues to watch you, despite the man's body being eviscerated.\n\nHis lips begin to twist and contort, a thick rattle passing them as he [[whispers|You are a murderer.]] to you.\n<<endif>>
<<if $stableKey eq 1>>\nYou do not think you could stomach another trip to the stables.\n\n[[(Back)|The Courtyard]]\n<<else>>\nYou cross the courtyard and approach the stables. The dim red light that filters through the writhing clouds above makes it difficult to see much, but most of the stables appear to be empty. As you draw nearer the structure, however, you begin to hear muted shuffling [[noises|The Stall]] coming from the far stall.\n<<endif>>
You open your mouth and attempt to speak to the priest, but your throat wells up with foul black fluid and you begin to choke. The priest rears back his head at a grotesque angle, laughing with a hundred voices at once. Your last breath quits you and the shadows of the chapel crawl from out of corners and recesses to dissolve your mortal shell.\n\nYou have died.
<html><img src=""></html>\n\nThe castle towers above you from behind implacable stone walls which themselves seem to radiate silence. You do not feel welcomed by the sight of this sanctuary, but the forest behind you writhes and pulses with threat. Seeing no alternative, you approach the [[gatehouse|Outside the Gate]].\n
The castle [[whispers|less BLOOD]] to you.
Resolving to put the poor woman out of her misery, you draw your sword and run her through. The point of your blade runs easily through her dead skin, exiting her body behind her to gleam in the wan light of the kitchen torches. The screaming sound that seems to be coming from the woman stops and her body goes limp, her slack jaw falling open before she crumples and breaks apart, spilling to the floor in a dry, rotten pile. Her skull breaks apart atop the rest of her remains, depositing a dusty key onto the bed of smoke-white hair beneath it.\n\nYou retrieve the key, then turn and make your way back to the [[great hall|The Keep]].\n\n<<set $kitchenKey = 1>>
You continue to descend.\n\nThere is no sound nor light to reassure you of your own existence, only the feel of the stone walls beside you against your outstretched palms.\n\nThe stairway feels as though it is [[narrowing|our GUILT]].
<<if $kitchenKey eq 1 and $stableKey eq 1 and $chapelKey eq 1>>\nYou approach the black door and set your eyes upon its three key holes, retrieving the collected keys from your pocket and inserting them one by one. As your hand leaves each one they turn by themselves before withdrawing into the door and disappearing. The final key disappears, and for a moment there is only silence and stillness. Then, with a groan that sounds nearly human, the black door sinks down into the stone of the floor at your feet, disappearing from sight.\n\nBeyond the doorway is a narrow stairwell leading down into [[void|we GIVE]].\n<<else>>\nYou stand before a large, sheer black door. The stone from which the door is hewn is flawless and smooth. As you draw near, the door seems to hum with unseen, hateful energy. A sense of loathing pours off of the door in waves, enough that you find it difficult to remain too close. At the center of the door's face are three unadorned keyholes. You can see no other means of opening the door.\n <<if $promiseMade eq 1>>\n <<display 'The Vow'>>\n <<endif>>\nSince you do not have the necessary keys, you turn from the door and return to the [[great hall|The Keep]].\n<<endif>>\n
Offended by the foul, parodical nature of the once-good Priest's twisted visage, you draw your sword and bring it down into the crook of his neck. Even as the blade bites into his flesh and burrows into the sinew of his neck and shoulders, he does not move, merely continues to watch you, grinning. You press the sole of your foot to his chest and wrench your sword from within his body. He remains motionless for a moment, then lurches forward, black blood spilling across the floor from the wound and from between his still-clenched teeth.\n\nThe blood channels along the floor for a short distance before forming into a deep puddle, at the bottom of which you can see a key. You reach your hand into the blood, which your skin finds to be cold, and take hold of the key before quickly taking [[leave|The Courtyard]] of the chapel, shutting the door behind you.\n\n<<set $chapelKey = 1>>
You step toward the struggling man and maneuver your arms about the severed horse-head, attempting to pull it away. The horse's great eye rolls in its skull, settling on you. You feel the horse begin to bite down. The man begins screaming from within the horse's mouth and you see blood coursing along the man's shoulders and back, flowing freely from his neck. The sound of flesh rending and bones snapping fills the dusty air of the stall, and the man's head is severed.\n\nThe horse-head swallows once before turning in your arms. You attempt to back away, but you cannot move quickly enough-- your neck is seized in the animal's massive teeth, your skin pulled away from you in great dripping swatches.\n\nThe head hovers motionlessly in space, the horse's eye watching your body as it slides to the ground and ceases to move.\n\nYou have died.
You attempt to kneel before the rightful king, ready to apologize for your wrongful deeds and vow yourself to his cause, but your body resists you. The castle shudders and the walls begin to wail, and your head is filled with the lurching, ragged language of the stones.\n\n//NO. [[KILL HIM|The Pit]].//\n\n<<set $mercyAttempt = 1>>
Ragged tapestries line the walls, depicting acts of orgiastic savagery; people pulling the skin from one another's bones with their teeth and hands while skeletons and devils dance and cavort atop great mounds of the dead and dying. Wrought-iron sconces adorn the walls, sickly yellow-green flames sputtering atop the torches held therein. A flight of [[stairs|The Lord's Chamber]] on the far side of the great hall leads upward into darkness. A number of sickening smells emanate from a small [[archway|The Kitchens]] to your right. The [[courtyard|The Courtyard]] lay behind you past the still-open doorway.\n\nDirectly before you at the far end of the great hall, a solid black [[door|The Dungeon]] seethes against the dark stone wall.
You place a hand lightly upon the dead woman's shoulders and she rounds on you, battering against you with her emaciated arms. The bones within them, fragile as glass, break beneath her skin. She opens her mouth and the sound of screaming raises instantly to a deafening height. The suddenness and volume of the sound staggers you and you stumble back, tripping and falling backward into one of the cauldrons. Your body sinks into the boiling fluid, splinters of bone piercing your exposed flesh. Your hands and feet drum ineptly against the sides of the cauldron, but you cannot extricate yourself from the vile stew before you are boiled alive.\n\nYou have died.
Looking over the wooden railing and into the adjacent stall, you notice the headless body of a horse curled weakly on the ground, the stump of its neck pressed against the near wall. Large black flies swarm the clotted viscera that lines the pen, but their wings make no sound.\n\n[[(Back)|The Stall]]
a { color: red !important }
You watch the dead woman as she shuffles around the kitchen in circuit, ambling ponderously and stopping at each cauldron to rest a shriveled hand along each scalding rim momentarily before continuing on. Her haggard white hair falls to her shoulders, trailing wispily along the air when she walks. As she moves you can hear the sound of a woman crying, though as from a great distance carried on a high wind. The sound seems to be coming from the woman, though her mouth remains closed. You look to her shoeless feet and see that the skin of her soles has been worn away completely by her endless pacing, leaving nothing but scuffed white bone.\n\n-[[Draw your sword and cut down the woman|The Kitchen Maid, Slain]]\n-[[Attempt to gain the woman's attention|o, NnO! thOU dieSTt, though I thHe ssSicKER bE]]
//Grief boundeth where it [[falls|tTHiss We PrsESCRIBbe]].//
Stark, unnatural silence continues its gradual pervasion of the air as you pass through the barbican on your way to the gatehouse. Even the [[forest|The Woods]] behind you which moments before had shuddered and screamed seems to have gone silent. A slick, ichorous fluid runs down from the murder-holes near the tops of the high walls at your sides, staining the dark stone in a sanguinary way.\n\nThe massive wooden gate begins opening soundlessly at your approach. Beyond the threshold you can see a large, empty [[courtyard|The Courtyard]].
Your body breaks and tears. Blood fills your mouth, then your eyes, then coats your skin. Your flesh is stripped away from your muscle, which then dissolves from off your bones, which then are ground up into [[dust|too DEEP incCIssSION]].
You have [[died|Accursed Day]].
You are once again consumed by the void and sent reeling and tumbling into the lightless bowels of the [[castle|thHouGh nNO phsYSICian]].
You begin descending the stone steps.\n\nYour feet make no sound as they touch each new step.\n\nSoon the light of the great hall is gone behind you, and you are surrounded on all sides by perfect [[blackness|thee UP]].
You peer into one of the nearby cauldrons, examining its contents. It is filled with a dark, viscous and watery-looking fluid, as well as large splinters of bleach-white bone and long black strands of hair. The smell is nauseating.\n\n[[(Back)|The Kitchens]]
You draw your sword, lean forward, and cleave the man's head cleanly from his neck. A jet of blood streaks the stable wall, and the man's body slumps to the side and hits the dirt of the stable floor with a gentle 'thud.' The horse's head remains where it had been, hovering, and turns toward you. It parts its jaws and the head of the man falls to the ground with a hard, wet sound. The horse head rears back and neighs loudly before dissolving into thick black smoke.\n\nYou notice a key held between the rictus-clenched teeth of the dead man's head. You take it, then turn from the stables and stride quickly back to the [[courtyard|The Courtyard]].\n\n<<set $stableKey = 1>>
//Dost thou at ev'ry hail draw out thy sword?\n\nFrom whither comes this eagerness to slay?\n\nThy lust for blood and anguish sees thee [[curs't|to DRINK]]//
The shifting silhouettes of a thousand branches criss-cross to take the shape of a sea of furious shadow-faces, snarling and glowering balefully at you against the ruddy, pregnant sky.\n\nYou cannot go back there.\n\n[[(Back)|Outside the Gate]]
You stand at the center of the castle dungeon. A wretched-looking man robed in king's garb lay before you, his sunken eyes finding yours in the thin, acrid light of the lone torch on the wall. The man's forehead is riven and scarred, as though a crown that once rested there had been torn away. All at once you know this man to be the rightful king.\n\nA thin moan escapes his lungs, but his face expresses no emotion as he watches you.\n\n-[[Entreat the rightful king for mercy|hAHhahhAHhahAHhaa]]\n-[[Draw your sword and slay the sundered king.|Exeunt]]
//ttO suffERRr EverR thISSs [[accuRRSSedd|The Pit]] dDAyy//
<html>\nby <a href="">Kitty Horrorshow</u>\n</html>
His face is long and gaunt, his eyes sightless black holes in his skull. The golden crown atop his head is blood-spattered and lackluster, and his robes, once vivid and breathtaking, are faded and moth-eaten.\n\nAs you approach the pale king, his head turns toward you. Despite the lack of eyes in his head, you know that he sees you. His drawn face makes him appear grief-stricken and frightened. He opens his mouth but does not speak; the entire castle begins to shudder, quaking and groaning and howling, and you hear words spoken into your thoughts by a hundred clamorous voices:\n\n//HAVE I NO FRIEND WILL RID ME OF THIS LIVING FEAR? I WOULD THOU WERT THE MAN THAT WOULD DIVORCE THIS TERROR FROM MY HEART.//\n\nSomehow, you understand that the 'terror' of which the pale king speaks is locked away within the castle dungeon.\n\nYou take knee before the king and vow to rid him of that which grieves him so, before standing and turning to descend the stairs back to the [[great hall|The Keep]].\n\n<<set $promiseMade = 1>>
<<if $promiseMade eq 1>>\nLooking at the stairs which lead to the Lord's chamber, you remember the vow you made. There is work to be done.\n\n[[(Back)|The Keep]]\n<<else>>\nYou climb the lightless stairs, leaving the yellow palor of the great hall behind you as you ascend. The climb seems to take hours, but eventually you enter a round and lavish room adorned with more nightmarish tapestries, racks lined with crude and vicious-looking weaponry, and a number of otherworldly objet d'art. At the center of the room is a large black throne, upon which sits a pale [[king|The Pale King]].\n<<endif>>