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You find yourself stumbling into a room,
catching your balance, and starring around
wildly as you try to remember what it was
you did that brought you here.

You are facing down a long hallway,
and at the end there seems to be a
huge, open chamber with a strange alter
in the middle.  You stare, trying to make
your eyes focus on something that
appears to be resting atop the alter,
when the foreboding silence is broken
by shuffling feet.

You spin to face a small, hooded figure
hobbling out of the shadows toward you,
hunched over and dragging a leg behind.
As you start to reach for your weapon,
the thing cackles and tears back it's hood,
and you jump back in shear repulsion as you
lay eyes upon the twisted old hag in front of you.

"Master" her voice sandpaper grinding on your ears,
"You have come, yes?  To learn?  Follow."
She motions for you to follow as she hobbles past you,
making her way down the hallway.

You stumble a few steps, horrified at her grossly
mishappened form, and follow if only to stare
at her in disbelief.

"This will please, Master.  Work of ages lost."
She rasps over her shoulder at you, but then
spins and holds up a gloved hand, and you feel
your stomach turn as you watch her speak through
what can barely be recognized as lips.
"Not from your land. No no, must not think that.
Just legend.  Just lore."

You grab your throat as you try to fight down
the vomit that's trying to rise.  The flesh that makes
up this things face seems only to be placed at random,
all scarred and burnt, clumps or coarse hair spaced around
the scalp, amid warts and moles.  You cannot even
force yourself to look away or close your eyes
as you gape at the abomination in front of you.
Then she cackles and spins again to make her
way down the hallway. You are compelled to follow
her once more.

You aren't even aware of the book resting on
the alter until you brush against the alter itself,
and finally your able to break your gaze from the
crone as you look down in surprise.

The cover of the book is unreadable, the words
worn away with time.  You move to open the
book, and as your hands touch the hard
leather cover, the hag shrieks with excitement,
her awful voice grating on your ears in pain.

"Yes!  Yes! 
Read!  Learn!
It will please!
Do not think you know
until you learn!
Master, read!

The thing cackles as you wince in pain,
covering your ears from the laughter
that sounds like hundreds of souls
in torment.  But the voice is fading,
disappearing into nothingness, leaving only
a faint echo of the horrid laughter
until the only thing left
is silence once again.

You look around the chamber, searching for the
crippled form of the woman, but see only
ragged curtains and empty bookshelves,
and the hallway that you entered through.
You catch your breath, and finally
turn your attention to the book in
front of you.

With a grim determination to put the
incident behind you, you touch the hard
leather cover once again and
Open The Book