The Kelpie

King Andy called Els and Roman Dragonshield to the throne room. He was very excited. “Your friend Dumonin has sent a letter” he said. “Let’s read it!”

“Dear friends”, wrote Dumonin, “As I suspected, the Molten Cat and Caledonian Boar are the first two of four beasts that could destroy the kingdom. The third beast is a kelpie, and the fourth a stag.

The beasts were once tamed by the elves, but I don’t know how they did it. They say that there is an elf who still lives on the Misty Isle Tower. You should travel there and ask them.”

And so Roman Dragonshield and Els set off once again. They flew on Dragon Piet till they reached the coast, and then flew on over the sea toward the Misty Isle. The isle was easy to find, and as they approached they could see a wide sandy beach, a green forest and standing in the middle of the island a high white tower. They landed at the bottom of it.

The tower’s door was made of silver and pearl, and covered in what they now knew to be elvish writing. When they knocked on the door there was no answer, but above it were three triangles, each with elvish words inside, and they began to glow. One glowed green, one red and one blue. Remembering the rocks that fell on them last time they encountered something like this they resolved to be careful.

Looking around they spotted three triangular holes in the paving opposite the door.  One lined up with each of the triangles.

After a bit of a discussion Roman and Els decided to light a torch and place it in the red hole. When they did so it glowed with a bright red light. Encouraged they hunted around for something green and put some flowers in the green hole. That too began to glow with a strong light. Then they were stumped because they couldn’t find anything blue. Roman was about to fly all the way back to the mainland when Els realised they could use ‘seawater!’ so they did. With all three holes filled with something of the right colour the lights flared and the doors opened.

Inside was a beautiful white room with a staircase leading up. Up went Roman and Els.

After climbing a long way the staircase entered a room. There was nothing here, but the walls glowed with light from torches. As Roman and Els looked around they realised there were two shadows in the room. Shadows that looked like knights! They raised their shadowy swords and attacked.

Els swung at a shadow with her telescope, but missed. The shadow knight brought it’s sword through her arm, and she felt a chill through her body. Roman Dragonshield kept out of the way of his shadow, but couldn’t work out how to hurt it.

[Both roll running and jumping to avoid the shadows, Els fails, Roman doesn’t]

Thinking fast Els grabbed a torch from the wall and thrust it toward one of the knights. It recoiled from the fire, but Els followed it, and it dissolved into smoke when she pushed the torch through it. Seeing this Roman grabbed a torch too and now armed effectively made short work of his shadow foe.

[Both roll fighting monsters, and pass]

After catching their breath Els and Roman carried on up the tower. In the next room they found a beautiful woman with pale skin, pointy ears and a green dress sitting next to a crystal ball. “Welcome Roman Dragonshield. Welcome Els” she said. “My name is Silmarine. And since you have opened the doors and defeated the shadows I know you must be both clever and brave.”

Roman and Els were flattered, but cut to the chase. What, they wanted to know, could she tell them about the four beasts?

“Long ago.” replied Silmarine, “all of magical Scotland was home to the elves. Then the Molten Cat, the Caledonian Boar, the Kelpie and the Royal Stag came, and rampaged through the kingdom. They would have destroyed the whole land, but we made four magic treasures. A collar for the cat, a harp to calm the boar, a bridle for the horse, and a horn for the stag.

When we left for other lands we left the treasures behind. Two we left in a tower in the woods. One buried in the cliffs, and one we gave to the mermaids beneath the sea. I can tell you that the witch who lives in Monster Tower now has the horn and the collar, you have the harp, and the mermaids have the bridle.”

“Now, let me show you something.”

Silmarine gestured and her crystal ball sprang to life. In it Roman and Els could see an image of the sea. And into the picture strode a huge horse, two hundred meters high. Waves crashed around its legs as it strode toward a distant, familiar shore, and a lonely tower.

“When the horse reaches the land it will drown the whole coast. You must visit the mermaids and convince them to give you the bridle.”

Roman and Els had lots of questions, about elves, where they’d gone and what Silmarine was doing, but quickly decided that they should go and see the mermaids. There was just one problem

“How do we see the mermaids?”

“Go to the shore and sing”

Kelpie 1 for blog

And so Roman Dragonshield and Els stood on the beach of the misty isle and sang Humpty Dumpty. Then they sang it again, loudly.

A bit later a lady’s head appeared in the ocean, closely followed by the rest of her. They could see a big fishy tail where her legs belonged.

“Who are you, singing for mermaids on the Misty Isle?” she asked

Roman and Els explained what they wanted. Daphne was not impressed.

“Well, I can take you to see our Queen. But there’s a good chance she won’t let you go again. She’s very cross about all the things that have been dropped and thrown away into our sea.”

Roman and Els agreed to take the chance. Daphne called them into the water and as they waded in they felt their legs transforming into fishy tails. To their amazement, they could swim underwater without any problems.

Daphne led them far beneath the waves, deeper and deeper into the ocean, until eventually they could see a coral palace. There were many mermaids and mermen around. They were led past guards and into a throne room, where Queen Rossail of the Mermaids looked at them from her throne.

Roman and Els explained why they had come. About the Kelpies and the elves and the bridle. When they had finished Queen Rossail did not look happy.

“For hundreds of years we looked after that bridle.” she said “and all we got was rubbish thrown into the water and washed down the rivers. The people on the land know that mermaids live beneath the waves, but they never think of us.

Eventually, some of my people became so fed up with this that they took the bridle and threw it into the Devourer’s Cave. It’s still there. If you can retrieve it I will let you go, on condition that you tell the people on the land to stop throwing their rubbish into the ocean.”

This was not what Roman and Els had been expecting from the mermaids. But they had the information they needed. There was just one question left to ask

“What’s a devourer?”

And so our heroes set off in search of a giant beast with tentacles that could eat whole ships, and which lived in a deep dark cave.

It wasn’t hard to find. The mermaids knew the general location of the cave, and the closer they got the fewer living things could be seen on the sea floor. Eventually there was just bare rock and deep hole. Els and Roman crept up to the edge. Deep in the darkness Els thought she could see something glistening. The bridle?

[Els rolls finding things, and gets a 10!]

Carefully Els and Roman Dragonshield swam down into the cave. Roman pushed some seaweed away from his face. Only it wasn’t seaweed. The water was thick with tentacles!

[Both roll running and jumping (and swimming I guess) to sneak into the cave, both fail]

The tentacles wrapped tight around the heroes and began to haul them down into the depths. Below them they could see a giant maw opening, filled with row after row of shark teeth. Roman Dragonshield slashed around with his sword and cut himself free. Els wriggled and struggled but was still trapped.

[Roman rolls fighting monsters, succeeds. Els rolls Running and Jumping, fails]

Roman dived down to Els, grabbed hold of the tentacles and pulled them away from her. Freed Els dived into the inky water in search of the bridle, and found it!

[Roman rolls Super Strength, succeeds. Els rolls finding things, succeeds!]

With the bridle secured Els and Roman swam for the surface as fast as they could. The tentacles pulled and tugged at them, but their merbodies were fast and swam out of the cave at speed.

Queen Rossail was surprised to see Roman and Els return, but kept her promise and so it was that Roman and Els found themselves on the beach below Wreckers Cliffs, a golden bridle clutched in Els’ hand. Over the water a vast stormcloud full of thunder and lightning was pouring rain onto the ocean, and beneath it a vast horse strode toward the land. Straight toward the lonely tower.

“Roman! You have to put the bridle on it. You can ride Dragon Piet!” yelled Els. “I’ll get Dumonin!”

Roman took the bridle, leapt onto Dragon Piet and flew toward the kelpie. Els ran as fast as she could toward the Lonely Tower.

Over the ocean Dragon Piet battled the winds to get Roman close enough to the giant horse. The dragon powered through the wind, Roman could see the massive mane of the horse ahead of him, and its wild eyes. He took aim, and launched the bridle toward it’s mouth with all his strength – and missed!

[Roman rolls dragon riding – succeeds, and super strength – fails]

At the lonely tower waves were crashing over the cliffs. Els struggled along the cliff top path to the door.

[Rolls climbing and exploring, succeeds]

Roman pushed Dragon Piet into a dive, the wind and water whipping past his ears. He caught the bridle at the last moment, flew up and thrust it into its mouth. The horse reared up, and then, still striding toward the shore began to shrink. Step by step the horse shrank and the waves receded until it stood foaming and champing on the beach, no bigger than a normal horse.

Kelpie 2 for blog

Notes : Guess where we went? Yes The Kelpies , one of the most stunning pieces of modern civic art I’ve ever seen. I mean, what’s not to love about giant Clydesdale Horse heads towering over the landscape? So they had to go into the game.

This game covered a lot of ground. Meeting the elf on Misty Isle, getting the potted mythical history of the land, visiting the mermaids and tangling with two gargantuan monsters. I was really pleased at how well the kids picked up on the overarching plot. I know they did, because they explained the whole thing to their mum over dinner.

The puzzle to open Silmarine’s front door was another example of ‘make up a problem, and wait for a solution you like’. And once again it worked.

Finally I loved the ending to the game, with both kids really concerned about the fate of Dumonin in his tower – they’d even debated evacuating him before visiting the mermaids, but eventually decided the urgency was about getting the bridle. And then Els urging Roman Dragonshield to take on the Kelpie by himself – and him missing the first time. High drama.

Next part five: The Royal Stag!

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