Finally. He had to backtrack several times through the suffocating greenery of the forest, but eventually he spotted the trail leading to the its center. From there it was easy to travel through the thick vegetation as the ancient road he walked upon was strong and enduring, its weathered stones dislodged only occasionally by trees. Tibi allowed himself to relax slightly. That day alone he had already had to kill three fairies (nasty little abominations), one treeling, and a wild boar. The treeling had been a shock; the damn thing had sprung to life right next to him and ensnared him with its vine-like arms. He knew that it would have surely constricted him to death had it not been for his armor.
Tibi was surprised at how quickly he arrived at the center of the forest. He could tell by the sudden clearing of trees, as if the surrounding woods had decided the vast area was too important for colonization. It gave the place a sense of tranquility, reverence, and great importance. When he saw it the knight’s breath caught in his throat, and he lifted his visor. The vestiges of a great, dead civilization loomed a half-mile ahead of him.
Crumbling walls of massive hewn stone surrounded a colossal structure that Tibi guessed was once a magnificent castle. Now the defiant buttresses were crumbled and worn. A curtain of ivy crept up the towering side, and landslides of rubble covered the once elegant sweeping architecture. It was huge, imposingly so, bigger than any castle he had ever seen. It was a veritable manmade mountain, rotting with time. Tibi took in the sight with exhilaration and awe; the castles of the later Schwan era of antiquity were true wonders.
It was the place he was searching for.
Tibi climbed carefully over piles of knocked over walls. The scattered stone bricks were almost as wide as himself, and it took considerable effort and caution to climb their time-worn surfaces. Whatever had knocked over these walls was a truly terrible force indeed, Tibi thought. In less pressing circumstances he would like to return here someday and study these ruins in greater detail. At the moment he had an important mission at hand.
After sliding down the last rock pile Tibi stood near the edge of a sharp drop off. It was a moat, Tibi realized, dried out and eroded downwards after hundreds of years to form a deep canyon. The wooden drawbridge had long since rotted away, leaving no discernible way in. Tibi stood at the edge of the cliff, unsure if he should feel exhilarated or annoyed. It was quite an inconvenience.
Perhaps there was another way in from the other side, he thought, but surely not. Castles did not have drawbridges if there were other ways in, and surely this moat encircled the entire castle. Still, he should walk around just to make sure. Tibi estimated that the walk would take at least an hour, unless it was even bigger than he thought. As he was setting off, he heard a strange sound behind him: a soft snoring.