GOH 10 C: Ethereral Castle (Chronicles of Embervale Ep.05)

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This is my entry for Category 10 C of the Final Anniversary Contest: the castle of Embervale...or rather, one of its counterparts somewhere in a different plane of existence.

Inspired by the excellent game Monument Valley, and by the no less excellent art of David Umemoto.







Warning : it's long. Very long. Way longer than the previous episodes. So long I'm thinking of putting it in a spoiler section.

Previously, on the Chronicles of Embervale:
Thyrulnë the Fair, court mage and mother of Alrune d’Embervale, sent a banshee to her daughter to deliver a macabre present. Scuffled ensued and Alrune ended up stunned by the banshee’s wailing. Days later, she is still unconscious.

Chronicles of Embervale Ep.06 - Confusion

Alrune                  The Lady of Embervale, necromancer
Other beings

Alrune was confused. She could think, she could move, but she could not feel. She was wearing her lace nightgown, but she could not feel the usual itching of the collar. She was breathing, but she could not feel air in her nose. She could not even feel her own weight as she moved forward.

Forward, but where? High spires, sleek arches, brightly-hued vines on grey stone walls – it looked like her castle. But something was off. She did not recognise this archway, precisely. She extended her hand to reach a nearby pillar, and touched it. It did not work the usual way. She could not pass her hand through it, but she did not feel the cold and roughness of the stone under her fingers either.

Maybe it was a dream. She closed her eyes – which did not impair her vision – and tried to concentrate on the energy flow in her body…or rather, in her currently non-corporeal envelope. First observation: there actually was an energy flow. Second observation: she could manipulate it.
Deduction: magic worked, it was not a dream.
Yet it proved unusually tiresome to create a comforting little flame dancing in her palm. She realised there was no other usable energy than her own, as she could not draw anything from the world around her.

Turn left.

All right. First, she needed to keep her mind occupied. Occupied with some useful train of thought, that is – otherwise, it would soon trick her into panicking.

Go up the stairs and turn right.

She decided to task her mind with finding out where she was. Not from a geographical point of view, of course, but from a cosmological one. She reckoned she was in some kind of spirit state, in a plane of existence where she could manipulate her own energy, but that did not allowed magic in the same way the material plane did.
Which left several plausible options as for which plane of existence this was.
She was most probably merely disembodied and haunting her good old castle without being able to interact with it. She could have travelled a little farther, among hungry ghosts and restless spirits. There was also a slight chance she had ascended to a plane of enlightenment from where puzzled superior beings observed the deeds of humanity.

Turn right again.

And, of course, she could not rule out the possibility of being in a plane about which modern scholars had not even theorised yet – or that she had not heard of.

Cross the bridge.

She could also…wait, what bridge? There was no bridge in her castle of Embervale. It occurred to her she was following an irresistible urge to go on moving forwards, but she had no clue where she was heading for. Nor why.
She forced herself to stop.

There is something behind you!

She quivered and looked back. There was nothing.

Of course there is something! Still behind you – only, the other behind now.

Before she could think about it, she was moving again. Faster.

Now it is following you. And other things are flanking you. Flee!


Great. Now she was scared, had invasive thoughts, and was chased by hungry beings.
She forced herself to stop once again and did her best to maintain inner peace. She could see her chasers now, pallid humanoids with empty eyes and crooked mouths.
She cast a shield, a translucent, opaline sphere glimmering around her.

No! That silly shield is going to attract them like a beacon! You need to move forward – this is the only solution.

The creatures around her hissed. Indistinct, larger figures were gathering behind them. She struggled with herself to disregard them, and to evaluate her situation as coldly as possible.
Grey stone, grey arches, everywhere. And mist. A dense, opaque mist that was flooding the whole scenery and blocking the view.

Forward! See the light over there? It means safety.

There was indeed light, a clear, bright light that pierced the fog, and she was drawn to it like a moth to lamplight.
Unfortunately, her chasers seemed to be attracted the same way. They were now a whole pack, surrounding her, and irremediably moving in the direction of the light.

Go with the flow! Don’t worry, the light will take care of everything…

She struggled to evade the crowd. Creatures screeched and yelped when the shield touched them, but there were so many moving in unison that she could not oppose them, no more than driftwood could oppose the rising tide in the material plane.
The shield was standing firm, but her self-control was failing. The creatures terrified her. The inexorable movement terrified her.
The light fascinated her.

Come to the light.

She focused her attention on the light. It was appealing, yet cold and harsh – not unlike the inner voice she was desperately trying to silence…

Trust the light.

It was so familiar...
The light, the voice…
Magic, it was magic!
Cold-blooded magic.
Or, more precisely: necromancy.
From the other side.


She was being invoked like the helpless errant spirit she currently was. But this shall not happen – she refused to end up possessing a corpse, subjected to the will of the invoker.
She cleared her mind as best as she could and turned inwards.


She gathered all her remaining energy. Lowered the shield. Took aim at the light.


And let everything go.

The world turned to a silent, endless, empty white.

Edited by Aurore

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Digging the continuation of the story and of course the build itself. I haven't played the game you mention, but after a quick browse of pictures I really think you have managed to bring the Umemoto-art (in combination with the game) to life in this one. Thanks also for the link to the art-website!

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This has a really neat style, I love how each tower is similar, but none of them are the same.  Great use of the new 1x1 double plates to achieve a really smooth stud reversal.

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Nice build. I was expecting the story to be longer from the way you billed it - definitely not too long!

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It looks a bit like a castle made by Escher. It truly feels like looking at an art piece!

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