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Fortress of Ye'eenghby Giulio Caroletti
The dark fortress of Ye'eengh is located at the border of the Chaos Merge Plains, suspended in the area between the Vischor and the Nightmare Elemental Regions. A thin stretch of land made of quite solid Terro, much hotter than that of the Diaboli's regions, at the point that every inflammable object that enters in contact with it becomes ash (without burning) after some turns of contact with it. The bare skin of creatures like humans and other Primes (except, obviously, Red Dragons, Fire Giants etc.) suffers 1 hp per round. The Terro is inclined 45 degrees to people coming sailing up the Vischor, that is incredibly fluid in this region; the Ye'eengh itself is dominated by a high tower, but it would be quite difficult to tell how tall it is...because it has many different angles and inclinations, stretching upwards following a strange geometry, like a sort of snake built of several parallepipeds glued one after the other with random inclinations. Around the tower, a wall is built, but it is built apparently following the normal geometric rules. All the buildings of Ye'eengh are a sickly light blue in colour, and are made of a substance quite similar to copper, although it is of a soggy consistency.
Ye'eengh has a disturbing appearance. In the surrounding area, several packs of Chaos Whelps (for more info on Chaos Whelps see Monster section) roam free, swimming through the Vischor and making their homes in the numerous holes of the Terro that dot the landscape; a foul stench emanates from the Vischor itself, filled with half-dead bodies of lizard-like creatures, that occasionally attack with savage fury an unlucky Whelp, or a madman daring enough to pass through it to reach the fastland of Terro around the fortress.
The lizards are in fact Nkaje'ench, the decaying bodies of the race that once occupied this land. The race who originally built Ye'eengh were the Ye'ench, amphibian lizard-like creatures 4 feet tall erected, but normally with the upper part of the body curved downwards thanks to a disarticulate and unnatural composition of their spine. They were violet in colour, and their body was nearly translucent, so the black internal organs were fully visible. Two red eyes were at the top of a long lizard-like head, and two long and three-forked tongues wriggled frenetically in their sharp-toothed mouth. They moved slowly, balancing their snake body on their four short legs, and possessed two arms with whom they used tools, weapons and other artifacts of unknown power. The Ye'ench was forced to leave their world by the Carnifex, at a time that could be considered 10'000 BC. Their story on Mystara are fully detailed in the 'Legend of Zargon' article. But not all managed to leave. The dying or already dead Ye'ench, and the ones made prisoners by the Carnifex, were all transported to the dungeons of their former capital city, and there they were transformed into Nkaje'ench. The main physical difference were the cutting of all their legs, so the Nkaje'ench are now able just to leap from the water with the help of their tail, and usually they use this form of surprise attack to help them to grab the unexpecting victim with their six-nailed claws. For other information about the Nkaje'ench see the Monster section of the "Dark Portal" web site.
Anyway, some centuries after the Carnifex had taken over the fortress, that had been renamed Ye'eengh and become one of their outposts, for mysterious reasons, the Outer Beings told their Priests to leave the place. The Carnifex seemed puzzled by this, and some were thinking to stay in the city, but very soon most of the Carnifex begun to suffer of a strange disease that killed them only hours after the first symptoms had manifested. So the Carnifex left Ye'eengh, and in the surrounding region they left their servitors, the Nkaje'ench, while several packs of Chaos Whelps used for their purposes managed to escape or were set free by their masters.
Now it is a long time since a Carnifex has stepped into the fortress. Diaboli adventurers tend to avoid it, and only Nuckalavees are known to enter the dark tower without being attacked by the mad Nkaje'ench. The secrets of Ye'eengh are not even unravelled to those who inhabit the Nightmare Dimension, much less to the unknowing Primes. But since the craft of Illusionism has begun to be practiced in the nation of Glantri, in the world of Mystara, something has changed. A former unnamed Master of Illusionism, entered the Nightmare Dimension and chose to build a tower not far from the region of Ye'eengh. In fact its rests are quite easily seen a couple of kilometres north and three upwards, built on a Terro and Vischor cloud floating around the area through the Nightmare. The Master built a small tower trying to fit the Prime Geometry inside the Fifth Dimension. He managed to do it, but it took him a long time just to build the first three floors, so he begun to ponder whether the dark construction below his 'cloud' could prove a more interesting site. the Archwizard sent first a group of Diaboli adventurers he had captured to the Fortress, but only one of them returned, and he died not much time after that, killed by the Molecular Instability caused by a pack of Chaos Whelps. The Diabolus told the Master of Illusions of mysterious creatures that ripped the flesh from all sort of Nightmare creatures living in the fortress, to its soggy walls. The Wizard pondered with care whether he should leave the dangerous dimension, or remain ignoring the fortress, but he wouldn't have been an Archwizard, a scientist and a Master of Illusions if he hadn't taken big risks in his long life. So he decided to trap unknowing adventurers of Mystara and send them to the dark tower of Ye'eengh.
He finally found a group of seven adventurers, and sent them to Ye'eengh, although two already died in the first encounter with the Nkaje'ench. The five survivors managed to enter the fortress, and here are the reports written by one of them, a Thyatian named Sabinus Colpius:
15 Flaurmont (date approximated by the author of this diary -Auth.) (the year has been deleted. Some philologs date it, however, in the 10th century, maybe around 940-80)
"We entered the dark fortress this morning- or, at least, it seemed morning. I probably mean, by this, that it was beginning to become lighter than in other moments of the day. Our spells prevented us from suffering the unnatural hot temperature of the earth, but not to avoid the horrendous lizard-like creatures of the acidic water. I beg the Immortals mercy for our companions who didn't escape their three-forked tongues and their claws, and I hope that we'll find a way to avoid them in our return to the tower. Eldan, our magician, says that he hasn't had the chance to study enough the rooms provided for us by our "generous guest", Pri [the diary is corrupted beyond point of reading, here]. But I will take the chance to use his teleport even if he isn't sure about it, because I don't want to face those creatures again. I shudder when I think what will happen when we will go deeper inside the fortress- if they are only guardians, as J[corrupted] believes them to be, I am really worried."
"Oh, Solarios save my mind from insanity! I saw them...at first I thought I was confused by the tower's geometry, and therefore I couldn't fully understand what was going on in the tower, so I suffered from optical and perceptive illusions, but this night I heard a sound like sipping of some liquid, and then I SAW them! It was just a pseudopod, passing through an impossible angulation of the room....coming from nowhere...I woke up immediately, and although I was terrified, I warned Wainer, my companion who was in duty of sentinel, and went to check the origin of the pseudopod. He hadn't seen anything, but I was sure...sure that something had appeared with a ploppy sound thence. He seemed to me deeply worried about my mental sanity, because no opening was there to be found in the soggy walls....and nothing could have passed through it...but I can't understand him...how can he still believe that the normal laws of the Universe apply here in this strange dimension? I have never seen the ANGULATIONS and the PERSPECTIVES of this towers...this universe must have laws impossible to understand to mere mortals. Anyway, I wasn't able to sleep again...and this is bad, because we need all our strength to face the mysterious presences that haunt this palace...but apart from that pseudopod we haven't seen anything, yet...I am so nervous..."
"Wainer went totally insane. We marched for ours in the tower, following strange corridors...at first they stretched upwards, then they turned upon themselves and finally I refused to think the way we were marching. Then the walls became red in colour, and a foul stench, much worse than that of rotting flesh, came to our noses. Laffellinn, our elven leader, went close to the wall to see its consistency: it was like solid water, liquid to the touch, but it burned the leather he used to test it like acid, and it opposed every solid substance we tried to pass through it. It didn't cover the whole wall, only a large portion, and it was it that gave the red colour to the wall. We marched forward visibly nervous; Wainer was behind all of us. Then we heard a scream, and when I turned I saw Eldan lying dead on the floor. Apparently nothing had stricken him, but nonetheless he was dead. Wainer was screaming continuously, incapable of saying anything, and when we finally were able to calm him a little, he said "the wall ate his soul" and then begun to laugh. He followed us for some time, approximately some hours, I think two or three, then we arrived in a room filled with that red liquid, although here its consistency was not "solid". We had to pass through that jelly or return back...and Wainer stopped, refusing to go on. While we prepared spells of protection from acid and fire, he sat down , and acted thereafter like a man in catatonia. So we left him to his destiny and passed through the red jelly-water, unharmed. May Solarios protect him!
"I think the end must be near. Laffellinn is dead, Eldan is dead, and Wainer too...only me and Ranel are left, but we can't see a way to exit from here. She is a warrior, and I'm a humble priest of Solarios, but my spells are feeble and many don't work here...we are cut out from the outer world...the jelly is a LIVING THING, it is like the blood of the tower ever searching for life to feed upon. Yesterday we saw Wainer. He was totally covered by the disgusting liquid, and asked us to help him...he was in the middle of a strange room: we arrived there by a ladder that went UPWARDS, but I clearly saw that when we arrived there we had DESCENDED...I am not able to describe better that feeling...Wainer was there, and he was trying to escape from the liquid, that was binding him to the wall...Laffellinn went to help him, but to her and our surprise, Wainer mutated into a humanoid form of that jelly and ABSORBED Laffellinn...her screams were making me insane....but I managed to grasp Ranel and lead her down (or up?) the ladder to the other room...she lied senseless on the floor, so it was hard for me to do so, but I took her in my arms for miles, until we found a room that was safe from the red substance. I curse [...] magic powers of [...] men should not know! But if I ever will escape [---] It waits for us on the other side! We will not survive, so I have prepared myself. Ranel is sleeping, now, so I will take her sword and kill both of us. I beg mercy from the Immortals, but I don't want her to become another soul lost in this palace, nor do I want this destiny for me. Curse [...] na! "
Whatever happened, the Master of Illusions became in some way aware of this. He ordered to his Nightmare slaves to destroy his own tower, and left for better strokes...An open question, however, is how he managed to obtain the information about the monstrosity that lives in Ye'eengh...and why somebody has bothered to let the diary appear in the Library of the Great School of Glantri...