The Tower on the Hill

The Tower on the Hill.

Pictonaut short story challenge written by dicewriting method for June 2013.

You are Samuel Wyste and you are lying on your back in the middle of a field on t’moors. You have just woken up and have no idea how you got here on t’moors in Northern England, 1643. You only know that you are Samuel Wyste because you heard the wind say “good morning Samuel Wyste!” to you as you opened your eyes. You’re very confused and so you do what all smart people do when they are confused: you stand upright, look up to the sky and shout out “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!”

The summer sky is bright blue. There are few clouds. The clouds are all in your mind. You walk around in circles contemplating your existential enigma and then decide to survey the scene around for clues. Your eyes come to rest on a mound. On top of this mound is a small brown tower with a cone roof.

It’s not far away and is the only notable feature in this barren rural expanse. Maybe it would be a good idea to approach it. What do you do now?

Roll 1 or 2: Amble up the hill towards the tower. Roll 3 or 4: Sit down on the floor and ponder your situation further while chewing on a clump of grass that you hope may provide you sustenance. Roll 5 or 6: Dig you hand into the pocket of your breeches and retrieve the pocketbook which you are carrying on your person.

Rolls 2.

You start up the hill, navigating your way around the tricky ridge bits and taking care not to get any mud on your shoes. You, Samuel Wyste, are a gentleman of polite society and it wouldn’t do to be covered in dirt. Soon enough you are atop the mound and it affords you a spectacular view of the Pennines (at least you think they’re the Pennines). Even on a clear day like this you can’t see any landmarks or clear signs of human habitation apart from this little brown tower. Something is very odd here. The wind blows again and says “Lovely day isn’t it, Samuel Wyste!” You are very unnerved and turn to the tower, looking to find some means of ingress.

Walking around the circumference of the building you fail to find an obvious doorway. What do you do now?

Roll 1 or 2: Start knocking on the walls and making silly attention-seeking statements like “halloa?” “Is anybody there?” or “I am the Great and Powerful Wyste and I demand that the Lord of this Realm come forth and pay me due tribute!” Roll 3 or 4: Pull out the pocketbook that is in your pocket (it’s a pocketbook. Where else would it be)? Roll 5 or 6: Start trying to break your way into the structure because it looks a bit ancient and the brickwork can surely be easily broken.

Rolls 5.

You know what you’re gonna do? You’re going to break into this puzzle and find out what’s inside. But how should you go about it?

Roll 1or 2: Step back, take a run up and charge into the wall at a point that looks a bit hollow and soft. Roll 3 or 4: Dig your fingers into the crannies and crevices of the structure in order to remove some of the bricks and dismantle yourself a means of entry. Roll 5 or 6: Start picking blades of grass and gathering them in a pile so you can climb up and break in via the roof.

Rolls 4.

You start to finger at the gaps in the brickwork, grasping and pulling at the weathered masonry. This is an old building battered by the elements and it gives way relatively easily. As you start to pull away pieces of stone you feel a primal destructive urge sweeping through your sinews oh yes you do, Samuel Wyste. All your qualms about dirtying your fine apparel ease away as you tear the bricks from the wall. The wind swishes through the hole you’ve opened up and giggles, “Powerful, Samuel Wyste!”

After a while you step back to look upon your handiwork. You’ve cleared a space that you can fit through and are able to enter the tower. What do you do now?

Roll even: Climb your way into the tower through the gap you’ve made with you bare hands. Roll odd: Lean toward the great hole and howl out one of those silly attention-seeking statements like “Hallo?” “Is anybody there?” or “Did somebody here order a pizza?”

Rolls 1.

You daintily step over the broken bricks and enter the tower. Your eyes acclimatise to the dark and you realise that you’re in a round chamber. The decor is austere except for a glimmering array of golden glyphs and diagrams on the floor. You do not recognise any of the writing or symbols. “What is this devilry?” you ask yourself aloud because it seems like the perfectly Christian thing to ask in a scenario like this. In the centre of the room is a small iron box which isinlaid with Celtic artistic flourishes. From mystery outside to mystery inside, what should you do now?

Roll 1: Go back through the hole and head outside again for you do not much care for the heathenish flavour of this place. Roll 2: Start to trace your finger around one of the nearest floor diagrams in hope of establishing an empathetic, psychic link. Roll 3: Approach the box and start to scrutinise it from up close. Roll 4: Consult that pocketbook that is getting a bit fed up of being ignored. Roll 5: Make one of those silly statements like “Is anyone here?” or “Hey! I like what you’ve done with the place!” Roll 6: Follow the lines and shapes of the glyphs around the room and lose yourself in reverie, dancing around like a child in the playgrounds of the far future because playgrounds don’t exist in Civil War-era England.

Rolls 5.

You open up your lungs and tumble out a reel of words. “Hello! What ho?! Is anybody here? You have an, erm, interesting place here! Nice floor decorations!” You listen for a reply. Twenty seconds later an echoing, wrenching rumble splits the silence. It sounds something like the combined falling of the oldest tree in the forest with a thunder clap and the fart of a frost giant. What in the hell was that noise? Who or what produced it and where did it come from? What do you do now?

Roll 1 or 2: Cry out “I beg your pardon?!” Roll 3 or 4: Cry out “Bless you!” Roll 5 or 6: Cry out “‘Zounds and wowser! Do that again!”

Rolls 2.

You, Samuel Wyste, are a gentleman and regardless of what state a gentleman is in or what setting a gentleman is in there are certain fundamental principles that must always be observed. Breaking wind in public is a deplorable blasphemy for men of your class. Incensed by what you perceive to be a major faux-pas you shout out “I beg your pardon?!” with fierce disgust. It sounded like a fart to you and the smell in this room is rank which you take to be further proof supporting your deduction.

The wind whistles again and sweeps into the tower. “Oh all apologies, Samuel Wyste!” “As well you should be!” you reply. “This is England! There are standards to uphold!”

The wind blows stronger. “Oh, but you are not in England any more, Samuel Wyste!” and with that the room storms up in an elemental rush as the glyphs, shapes and brickwork all fall upon themselves in a tornado of turbulence.

With a ripping noise (it sounds a bit like mountain god breaking wind) you, Samuel Wyste, are whisked right out of time.

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