Muddled Times
Issue:Issue 22, June 2003
Section:Game Information

The Keep

This is one of The Land's real rough gems. Situated off the beaten track (well to be more precise, off Dally Lane), this area has a little something for just about everybody.

Don't let initial appearances deceive you. The place may look as if it is locked up tight and nobody is home, but look around for one of the readily available keys and remember, entrance is free. Note that despite its obvious age, this place shows little or no signs of wear and tear, notwithstanding constant attempts by vandals to ruin the ambience by smashing the door down like barbarians.

As you enter the keep you may notice one of its charming, and some say magical, treasures: a leather armband. The more inquisitive traveller might even try using this item on his travels elsewhere. You never know what might occur. The perfect chestnut timberwork here makes you somehow wish you had conkered (conquered?) it sooner.

Upwards, things get a little more interesting. As with many of the more desirable properties in The Land, the residents can be slightly standoffish. It is best to come prepared, either with a suitable offering, or enough company to discourage any would be self-styled guardian of the inner delights. If in any doubt, look up the word maleficent before your visit.

Upwards again, and the true majesty of this place is revealed. Ancient, and to be honest, impressively ugly stone gargoyles adorn this room, which has restricted (as in through arrow-slit windows) and yet beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Smog unfortunately can be a problem here, and often the whole area is covered in an impenetrable blue haze. We can however tell you that the locals were kind enough to show us the ancient ceremony by which they can banish the haze, so remarkably simple that even people with no local guide could probably work it out. If you work it out, this uplifting experience will lead you to further delights as you delve deeper into this remarkable bastion.

Upward, ever upward, via the spiral staircase. The room displays some evidence of vandalism, and has a definite air of unseen presences - very atmospheric. If you are lucky you may even get to see some of the relics of past times, including a mortar (sans pestle) said to have been used to powder the blood of the dragon, and a rare specimen of an early illuminated gothic manuscript. This is also a good place to look for remedies should you suffer from the old Delhi Belly, Karachi Crouch, Montezuma's Revenge, or Spanish Quickstep (see The Rough Guide to Travel Health and Hygiene for a fuller account).

Once more upwards, to a room breath-taking in both decoration and view. The magnificent green and gold-flecked decor immediately highlight that this is a room destined to be used by royalty. The dizzying view over the stream, pond and river to the west, through the hole smashed casually into and through the masonry, sets your heart beating wildly. Or could that just be the fearsome visage of the guard, presumably placed here to prevent further desecration. Treat him with the respect he deserves.

Upwards, to the pinnacle of your visit, the top of the keep. The view is enough to make the trip worthwhile, with vistas over the lane and monastery some six floors below. But this is the little known heart of the area. Marvel at the beauty of the local maidens. Gasp in pleasure as they demonstrate slight of hand, conjuring wild birds from nowhere. Giggle in delight as they perform arcane magicks upon you.

Once you tire of this, explore the vicinity, peer into nooks and crannies, and check out any alcoves, for truly this is but the entrance to a veritable treasure trove of hidden delights. If your trip is not interrupted by pressing business, you can enjoy the ambience of discreet side rooms which lead to the real shoppers paradise here, where you can pick up magical swords, purses and pouches, caskets of gems, a coronet for the less-than-rough day tripper, or even cloth-of-gold for those interested in DIY haberdashery.

To end it all, a leisurely and fortunately, for those laden with gifts and souvenirs, downhill trip back to the exit.

That's it for now, and thanks for travelling with us.

Next Issue: The Alpine Cottage.

... click here to return to the front page.