Friday, January 31, 2014

Riddle Ogre: Third Installment

Welcome readers, to the fifth day in the Week of the Ogre. Apologies for the lateness of the post, but it was unavoidable. Let now you see the next installment in Riddle Ogre!

A burning fear raced through Ander’s veins, constricting around his lungs in a white hot vice of uncertainty. The footsteps rang clear to him from what seemed only feet away.
         Dropping his darkened phone, Ander turned towards the tunnel fork; and sprinted through the right opening, the faint light ahead spurring him on. Light would help him see the creature chasing him in the least.
         Around him the tunnel widened, and the footsteps still coming on behind seemed to echo louder in the wider space. spurring himself forward, Ander suddenly flew from the confined tunnel in an enormous cavern.
         The faint green light now intensified to a steady glare of pure emerald light, which seemed to exude from the ceiling arcing above.
         Barely taking in anything but the high ceiling and walls, Ander turned just outside the tunnel opening, gripping his riddle book very tightly; he stared shakily into the dimness of the tunnel.
         The footsteps stopped with a soft impact, Ander could feel the creature’s presence in the shadows just beyond the cavern’s more powerful light. An almost material silence pulsed between Ander and the tunnel.
No movement came from the shadows, but just as he was becoming uneasy, Ander saw a flash of movement, and something burst from the dimness, flashing silver as it sped in an arc straight for Ander’s torso.
With a yell, Ander leapt back, as his phone clattered to the floor at his feet. Looking back into the tunnel, he saw no movement. After another minute, he realized that the creature had gone.
Leaning down, he swept his phone into his hand, and then almost dropped it when he looked at it fully.
The screen was cracked like a broken window, and four jagged furrows had been gashed into the keypad, as if a tiger had ravaged it. Turning, Ander’s face was illuminated by a fragmented white glow, the broken screen distorting the jittering light of the broken phone.
It had found his phone; Ander imagined the creature for the first time, thick and monstrous, covered in boils and fur. It likely had horns too, and maybe definitely had claws, and large ones by the look of the damage it had done to the keypad.
Just what kind of creature was this, and why was it so obsessed with riddles and taunts? Possibilites clammered for room in his brain; thoughts blundgeoned against his skull, knocking more and more crazy solutions through his head.
Looking for something to distract him from his jumbled thoughts, Ander realized that the rushing sound he had heard far off was now much closer, rumbling so loudly that he wondered how he hadn’t notice it before.
Pocketing his despoiled phone, he looked upwards towards the curving ceiling, from where the strong green light still eminated. The rock itself was obviously the source, Ander thought, some sort of luminescent stone, but wasn’t it usually coral that glowed?
If that were true, then the chamber must have once been filled with water. Just as he was about to investigate the lower parts of the cave, Ander saw words etched into the coral or rock on the ceiling.
They snaked in swirls across the chamber ceiling, exactly like the first riddle that had lured him down into these tunnels. Flashing a deeper green then the glowing stone around it, the words were easy to make out.
Craning his neck slightly, Ander read the twisting lines with a slightly foreboding aire.
What can run but never walks,
Read the first line. Walking backwards several feet, Ander read the next two lines.
has a mouth but never talks. Has a bed but never sleeps,
Stopping at the last line, Ander read it out quickly, feeling strangely rushed, a soft prickling stinging at the back of his neck.
has a head but never weeps.
The answer slammed into him with the force of sledgehammer, the reason for the rushing noise flashed before his eyes. Stiffening his entire body, he looked down.
He was standing on a 10-inch wide strip of stone that arced gently over a huge river that rolled far beneath him, crashing in spurts of foam against the sides of the fifty-foot wide channel that spanned most of the cavern. No wonder the cave ceiling was covered with coral, this subteranian river must have once covered the entire chamber.
Had the creature known him well enough that he would be so concentrated on the riddle on the ceiling that he would almost certainly tumble to his death into the roaring maelstrom far below?
Or did the creature lure many people into the chamber, perhaps even throwing them into the deadly river?
The thought of other people trapped in the tunnels didin’t encourage Ander, especially as he was still standing on less then a foot of pummus above a bottomless pit of water. Maybe he was exagerating a bit…
The next few minutes were spent in his attempts to cross the void. After nearly ten minutes of nerveracking, work, Ander collapsed on the other side of the river channel, almost kissing the ground for joy.
At the far end of the chamber, three tunnels opened from the wall, each into complete darkness. Flicking his phone open, Ander approached the three openings, resigned to the fact of more tunnel exploration.
Through the far left tunnel, Ander could see several feet of ordinary tunnel; the guttering light of his phone cut cleanly through the unnasuming shadows. In the middle tunnel Ander saw nothing different from the first, save for several stalactites hanging from the curved ceiling. The last; far left tunnel seemed more interesting; the light of his phone looked like it was sucked into the blackness of the opening, barely even getting into the blackness farther in.
Standing slightly back, Ander frisked each tunnel in turn with his eyes, wondering which he should enter.
The first looked best, but so far, the best tunnel had turned out the worst, like a skunk hidden in your birthday cake. The next one seemed slightly dubious, but the last one seemed out of the question, its darkness looking amost like a horizontal pit, which he’d fall down forever if he even put a foot into it.
Deciding on the middle tunnel finally, Ander stepped swiftly through it, taking several steps in; he immediately knew he had chosen badly. With a descending crash, the stalactites burst downwards to thud into the floor in front of the tunnel entrance, tapering stone points that completely shut him off from going back.
Feeling that he knew what was coming, Ander turned and strode froward through the blackness, his phone barely revealing the way until a flat wall inched into veiw, closing off the tunnels both ways.
Sighing dejectedly, Ander ran his hands over the featureless stone. A drift a black dust floated to the stone floor. Two words lay uncovered.
I went
The rest of the words seemed to be covered by the coating of dust he had just swept part of off. Energized by hope, Ander went to dusting industriously, his hands amost blurring as they buzzed the dark dust off the wall in flaring clouds.
After a minute of minor sneezing, Ander controlled himself and looked at his handiwork. It was another riddle, he saw, reading:
I went and I got it, I sat and I sought it. When I couldn’t find it, I brought it home.
This riddle was strangely simple, and the lack of the archaic rhymeing unsettled Ander, but he said the answer aloud as it pushed itself from his brain.
“A blister.” He had remembered the riddle not from his book, but from when someone had told it to him. As he said it, he realized it was wrong, not a blister, but a--
He could not think any further, as, just as he uttered the wrong answer, the floor cracked beneath him, and in an implosion of rock dust and stone, Ander fell downwards.
With no time for a cry, he thudded to earth on an unforgivingly hard stone floor. Groaning slightly, Ander began to pick himself up, beaming hateful glances up at the gap in the ceiling where he had fallen through.
Then, in a silent flash of movement, a figure burst from the darkness towards him, sending him reeling backwards side on into the wall, then crashing to the tunnel floor. His phone was slammed hard to the floor clutched in his fingers, and, with a feeble crack, it broke in half.
Now in complete darkness, Ander pushed himself to his haunches, and, gripping his riddle book so hard with one hand that his fingers numbed, he watched as the impression of the thing that had started him stopped, and then moved smoothly towards him; the darkness rippling around its indistinct, ghostlike figure.

Who does Ander meet?!

1: Someone also trapped in the tunnels...

2: The Riddle Ogre...

          3: A ghost...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Riddle Ogre: Second Installment

Wow! The poles are in, and the second choice has won by a landslide, no one wanted anything but that! Well, I can't keep you waiting, behold; the Second Installment!

With a sliding thump, Ander felt the narrow chute flare open as he impacted onto a hard surface. The darkness around him seemed to intensify and as he attempted to scrabble to his feet, he slammed into another surface, this one curving upwards in an arc.

          Turning to the wall, he felt around it until his hands flew forwards into an empty space, the tunnel he had entered from. Wrenching himself forward, he leapt into the slanted chute, but quickly slid backwards on   the smooth, earthy stone.

          He tried again, attempting in vain to brace himself against the invisible walls around him, but once gain he slid slowly back down. He collapsed onto the ground, laying his head against his knees, and then he heard it.

          A soft voice that drifted along the tunnel, and flashed through his head like a swirl of dark flames;

          “Four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening…”

          Reeling slightly in the intense darkness, Ander scrabbled at his pocket with one hand, found his phone and flicked it open. A burst of blinding light shore through the darkness surrounding him, revealing the narrow tunnel he stood in.

          Looking wilding in each direction, Ander squinted for movement in the gaping darkness receding along the tunnel. The quiet voice also had melted away, leaving its words imprinted on Ander’s mind.

          He knew this riddle, the man riddle that the Sphinx had challenged Oedipus with in Mythology. The man riddle…Something knew he was here.

          “Who’s there?” He called. His voice reverberating down the tunnel, growing louder and softer until it disappeared all together.

          A second later, to Ander’s intense surprise, a hissing whisper washed over him, seeming from all sides, voicing a second riddle.

          “A marble hall as white as milk, lined with skin as soft as silk…Within a fountain crystal-clear, a golden apple doth appear...No doors there are to this stronghold, yet thieves break in to steal its gold…”

            It was the same voice as before, Ander knew, but what did it mean? As fast as it had come, the voice had sunk back into the blackness enclosing around him. His phone screen dimmed, and he tapped the keys to keep it alive.

          The second riddle was familiar, he had heard it before, or a different version perhaps. But what could it mean, had it come as an answer to his question, or a taunt to confuse him.

          It had definitely done that, his mind was a crumbling mound of confusion and barely suppressed panic. He could not climb back up the shoot, he held up his phone, the service bar was empty; nor could he call for help.

          Gripping his hands very tightly, he realized he was holding something in his other hand: the riddle book, bent and sad looking from its journey down into the tunnel, but completely intact.

          If whatever thing was taunting and guiding him with riddles, this was his best bet for freedom.

          Encouraged by this, Ander stepped down the tunnel a few yards, nothing different, bare curving walls and a blank stone floor. Back tracking quickly, he attempted to mark where the tunnel leading above was by scratching an arrow in the stone. All that did was show him the futility of imagination. Finally, he tore out the acknowledgement page of 1000 Impressing Riddles and laid it firmly on the floor opposite the chute’s entrance.

          With a wash of humming noise, the voice appeared once again, forming words in a hiss of echoes.

          “Voiceless it cries, wingless flutter, toothless bites, mouthless mutters..”


Ander felt the answer swim into his conscious mind at the same moment a faint breeze pricked at his face. It smelled of earth and stone, but it was air.

          Without another thought, Ander clutched the riddle book to his side, brandished the lit phone in front, and quickly strode off down the tunnel, following the distant wind into the gaping blackness.

          Around the chute’s outlet, darkness curled, the stark white page of the riddle book dimmed with it until it seemed to fold in on itself, giving in to the darkness enveloping it.

          Without a sound, with no scuffle or scuttle of movement, a hand reached through the deep shadows and plucked the page from the ground, quenching its faint glow in a flash of reptilian movement.


Ander walked steadily, waving his phone like a gold prospector probing with a metal detector. Every new shadow that appeared seemed like the movement of a silent creature, every tiny outcropping appeared as a rearing head, ready to gnash his body in its stony fangs.

          In an attempt to douse his jittery nerves, Ander mulled over the riddles he had been given so far. High above somewhere, in the unassuming ‘cave’ that had started it all, the riddle for darkness that had lured him down here, then the riddle about man that had first been voiced in the tunnel, then the riddle that had answered his question with another question, and then finally the wind riddle that he still now followed.

          After some time, the muddled riddles began to make sense. Each one lead to its answer (except perhaps for the unsolved one), the first had lured him into the purest darkness he had ever experienced. The man riddle had culminated around him, the man, or at least he considered himself a man, technically he was still fourteen.

          Then came the unsolved riddle, which still baffled him at its weird familiarity. He was positive he had read it before somewhere, he had even skimmed through 100 Impressing Riddles for something on it, but it gave no answers save for how fast he could suffer a paper cut.

          As this riddle had been the only one that had come at his word, he felt as though the answer would be the most important.

          As for the last riddle, it had come to its fullness with the wind he still followed; at least…Ander stumbled to a halt. He could no longer feel the wind, it had sunk back to its source, its reassurance had disappeared like a fork of burning lightning.

          Unease wheedled back into his brain, scrubbing his thoughts raw with twinges of fear. Unconsciously, Ander sped up, his feet thudding jarringly on the hard stone floor, the phone’s light jumping wildly along the ceiling, the walls, and then it flashed across the tunnel ahead and Ander skidded slightly as he brought himself to a halt at a fork in the tunnel.

          Pushing his phone into the left fork, it barely cut through a meter of the solid darkness compacting through the entrance.

          A light other than his phone caught his eye, emanating from the second tunnel. Turning, he squinted through the opening. The light was faint, and slightly green, as though it were natural. Far off, he heard a powerful rushing noise, as if the wind he had felt had formed into an enormous body.

          Then something far nearer sounded from behind Ander, a scuffling set of footsteps swiftly coming closer, reverberating louder down the tunnel towards him, something small and fast; covering the distance between them with unnatural speed.

      Ander swung around wildly, his mind flicking from tunnel to tunnel, light and darkness blurred in his eyes as the need for a choice grew greater and greater as the steps echoed towards him, his phone screen went black, blackness swallowed him save for the faint glow from the right hand tunnel, and the noise of footsteps grew through the enveloping shadow.

What should Ander do next?!

1: Take the tunnel filled with deep shadow

2: Choose the tunnel with the distant noises and faint light

3: Stand his ground and take on the creature coming at him from his tunnel

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Riddle Ogre: A First Installment

Welcome all, to the third day of the Week of the Ogre! Today we are trying out something new. This is the first part of a story we wrote, which ends in a cliffhanger. In this, you get to decide what happens next. At the end of the installment, you have three choices to what the character does next. Choose well, and enjoy!
Ander nestled himself more firmly into the soft grass, repositioning the book looming above him so that it eclipsed the bright glare of morning. Around him, the park jostled with activity, dogs barked, people talked, squirrels squealed at nuts, none of it interested Ander, his mind was firmly set on his book, 10oo Impressing Riddles.

          He had bought it lately and had not let his eyes off it since then, usually he was reading it, and always he was holding it. Packed with riddles from at least a hundred different books, the volume had tested his mind for over a week, usually winning his desperate skirmishes of guesswork, but folding eventually under his onslaught of careful logic.

          What he liked most about the book was that each riddle could give him a sample of the book it came from, a taste of the genre so that he could almost literally read a dozen books in a day.

          Ander’s reverie was cut short by the scuffle of feet reverberating through the ground towards him; a posse of Frisbee players, flinging their disc to each other and quickly getting closer to Ander’s patch of solitude.

          Grumbling like a arthritic housewife, Ander rolled to his feet and escaped into a small grove of pines away from the open ground, though still dazzled by the sunlight of the day. Finally getting out of earshot of the elephantine noises of the players, Ander looked around for a good spot to read.

          Several meters ahead, he spotted a rocky hummock, like a bump on a needle-strewn head. Trotting to the tiny hill, Ander realized it was a cave mouth.

          Crouching down he saw it went back several feet until it met a flat wall, forming a wide sort of bedroom for anyone imaginative enough to use it.

          Crumpling to his knees, Ander, tucked his riddle book under his arm, rolled over, and shimmied himself into the spacious stone birth. Perfect, warm pine needles on his back, dim light seeping through the cave mouth to create a perfect reading lamp.

          Raising 1000 Impressing Riddles above his head once again, Ander began the page.

Gollum’s Riddles

Taken from the pages of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the creature Gollum asks the hero Bilbo these riddles in a matching of wits far below the Misty Mountains.

What has roots as nobody sees,

Is taller than trees,

Up, up it goes,

And yet never grows?

          Ander’s mind flicked from Gollum’s puzzle to the cave ceiling, where something his caught his attention. Twirling across the cave ceiling like a ribbon, deeply etched words were engraved in spirals across the ceiling.

          Dropping the riddle book to his side Ander propped himself up on his elbows so to look better at the words.

It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,

Intrigued, Ander crawled farther into the cave, closer to the back wall where the words wove snakelike. Soon he could see the next curving line.

Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.

It was a riddle, Ander realized, the couplet above him was unmistakably a word puzzle. But why was it on the ceiling of a cave. Maybe the rest of it would explain.

          The next two lines were harder to decipher, as the light from outside was growing indistinct the farther he crawled. Ignoring this, he squinted upwards to read;

It lies behind stars and under hills,

Well that made sense, at least the ‘under hill’ part. This riddle seemed familiar; he looked to the next line.

And empty holes it fills.

What could fill an empty hole? Ander stored the four lines away, determined to finish the riddle. The next line stretched away, forcing him to shuffle his back farther into the cave.

It comes first and follows after,

As he read this line, something clicked in the back of his mind, but it still lay in the back, not yet fully formed. The cave did not go back much farther; the next line must be the last.

          Scooting slightly farther in, he could just make out the final line.

Ends life, kills laughter.

Darkness. The answer suddenly flew to the fore front of his mind, at the same instant, his back crested a lip and with a cry of surprise, Ander hurtled downwards along a smooth dirt shoot, blackness clamped around him, and the sunlight was snuffed out, like a candle in the wind.

Alright, the story has started, the hanger has been cliffed, or whatever you call it. Now for the choices:

1: Ander lands in a tunnel, and meets a Riddle Ogre right off...

2: Ander comes to rest in the tunnel, and follows whispered voices into a complex of tunnels...

3: Ander slides into the tunnel, and takes stock of his situation, before going on...