History of the Realms of the Great Web


I am S.Ironheart, Chief Dwarven Engineer for The Iconoweb. This history began as simple notes in my diary. Afactor requested I collate relevant sections into a history of The Iconoweb & the dwarves. Now at Sir Anthony's suggestion, I am expanding this record still further, into a history of the Realms of the Great Web.

The Pavilion of Icons Catlia Keep Anthonys Castle

'Very few things happen at the right time, & the rest do not happen at all;
 the conscientious historian will correct these defects.

It was 1993 & it was a web of chaos - links, links everywhere & not an adventure to be found!

In January 1994, Sir Anthony Thyssen created his first homepage. Cormac's Castle {http://cs.oberlin.edu/students/rcormac/frontdoor.html} appeared in September that year & although there was little change to the site after this until recent additions to the Art Gallery, it's influence was to be far reaching. A full adventure puzzle, 'Phazer 5' also made a brief appearance on the web at this time, it was a small but difficult puzzle complete with beasts to talk. Together, these sites had been sufficient to sow the seeds of an idea & Sir Anthony began designing his home page as a full castle adventure.

This was an ambitious project & Sir Anthony requested that the dwarves help. We began almost immediately & on the 16 December 1994, the oak doors opened, revealing the Grand Foyer of Sir Anthony's Castle. The Dungeon Prison was completed but no Corridors existed, the dwarves were still building the necessary foundations. Instead a magic pentagram was used to teleport visitors from place to place.

---oOo--- Castle Pentagram ---oOo---

The start of 1995 saw the independent development of The Castle of Sky, strands across the web. By April, the Castle Corridors were completed, & thanks to Colin Morris, a student at the University at that time, the castle surrounds, in particular, Crater Lake & the Elven Forest were added. This area later developed into the story of the ``Cærn of Power'' & the Garou (or Werewolves) who protect it, & of the Elves, who arrived & were invited to settle, creating in the process the ``Elven Forest Maze''. Without this input, Anthony's Castle may well have remained an isolated realm.

Sir Anthony's Castle was a wondrous place. One could visit in the Elven Forest, stroll on the shores of the lake, search for buried treasure or just while away the time watching the kites against a clear blue sky.

Through the main doors, dragons decorated the many halls. The WWW Laboratory held hints for those learning to walk in the ways of the web, for the esoteric there were the myriad floors of the Tower of Computational Sorcery but of all the treasures, none could compare to the famed Runic Icon Collection.

---oOo--- Sir Anthony's Castle ---oOo---

Meanwhile on a sleepy system of winDoze, Afactor became intrigued by the parade of tiny images across her desktop, they seemed so ephemeral that in the attempt to preserve them, an icon collection was started. Over years it grew until there were over 16,000 of these tiny graphic jewels. In May 1995, with the aid of the wandering wiz, The Iconolog was stored in the depths of the Great Server & here it remained, safe but forgotten.

Many months passed & then in November, in preparation for the task ahead, Afactor began to learn to walk in the way of the web. On the first day of the summer of '95, a fragile strand spun out from a node in the Great Web, it reached deep within the archives of the Great Server & The Iconolog, the Art of Virtual Litter V1.0 was linked.

---oOo--- The Iconolog : The Art of Virtual Litter ---oOo---

It is the wont of collections to grow & thus it had been with The Iconolog. Every day new additions were catalogued until finally the collection now numbered 22,963 icons, but even the Great Web has limitations, for here the humble ico was invisible. Afactor decided to convert a very small part of the collection for an exhibition.

Slowly an image formed & midnight on the 30 December, 1995, as the clock on the edge of webCity struck the last stroke of the old year, Firstweb was unveiled. Caught in the colorful mosaic of gifs was a glimpse of the Great Web, each tiny symbol was a link, a tribute to just a few of the wonders seen. For the first time, a small part of the collection was on display.

---oOo--- Firstweb Mosaic ---oOo---

The dwarves & Afactor had met on her first visit to the Castle, I think we were playing a game of 'fling the dwarf' in the old courtyard at the time. When we heard that she wanted to build an entrance to the library, to house Sir Anthony's icon collection, we were eager to help. On the 25 February, the doors for the Runic Icon Library were hung & an association that was to prove long & fruitful had begun.

When Sir Anthony's library won an award in March, Afactor felt that a celebration should mark the occasion & a banquet menu was planned. A charming gesture, but of course a kitchen was needed & a suitable banquet room for the occasion, so, it was off to work we went.

The 7th of May was a holiday. The Iconoweb was declared open for exploration & the dwarves attended the festivities. A commemorative mosaic was unveiled, revealing a scenic view. Sir Anthony's Castle, high upon the cliff which drops away revealing at its base, the cave on the south east beach of Crater Lake. Across the azure waters one can see the island & on the horizon, their distance strangely distorted were the Mountains of Madness. The fragile golden strands of the Iconoweb span the skies.

---oOo--- The Realms Mosaic ---oOo---

As winter descended on the Realm, work was completed in the castle & the aroma of spiced apple from the first baking drifted through the open door of the Kitchen. It was during the last stage, the cellar, that we became interested in a cave we'd found, it's formation suggests that it may well be only a small part of a system honeycombing the blackrock cliff beneath the castle.

 ---oOo--- Castle Kitchen ---oOo---

These were exciting days in the castle. Discussions were concluded between Anthony & Sky on the possibility of joining their realms. Slowly a way was cleared west through the Forest of the Great Web until with the completion of The Great Web Road, one could walk to the Town of Overshire in The Realms of Sky. Sky's Castle has been long established but recently the town that recently began to develop around it's base is already a growing metropolis.

---oOo--- Town of Overshire ---oOo---

The Iconoweb was now Afactor's home. The Iconographers tools were unpacked, the reference indexes set up & the work continued. The Original Windows Collection was retained for the folks in winDoze but the ongoing collection was to be for all the web. Only the best was to be giffed as a basis for this but .ico's could only be converted by hand, a slow process.

As a special tribute to just a few of the many Iconographers of the web, a strand was spun to house special exhibitions & on June 6th, The Best of The Iconolog V 2.0, numbering over 2000 gifs was released.

---oOo--- The Best of the Iconolog ---oOo---

It was during this time that Afactor discovered one of the oddities of this realm. No matter how many colors are in scene, if one concentrates on a small area, one can only see 16 colors at a time, a trick of the light maybe, so far there has not been a satisfactory explanation.

Meanwhile, the dwarves had been busy. Excavations had started from the cellar, we had thought the system of tunnels we found would link to the cave on Crater Lake, but they ran further south & on June 15th, we broke through into a cave on a small unknown waterway.

By the 25 of June, a smooth system of tunnels linked the caverns & we named the system The Iconocaves.

---oOo--- Iconocaves ---oOo---

Excavation of the cave system beneath the castle had uncovered a small underground river loop fed from a thermal spring & small river loop. This was to have unexpected repercussions. One of the younger dwarves narrowly escaped drowning. Advice was sought from some visiting water elves & with their aid, a system of rescue buoys was installed on the river to keep the waterways safe.

---oOo--- Peerless Pool ---oOo---

R & D had been working hard developing a new form of transport for the realm & on the 30th June we took part in the first demonstration of Web Travel throughout The Iconoweb. With this wonderful inovation, it is only a klick or two to any part of the realm but it does require a little practice to select the correct destination & a number of dwarves had to be guided back from obscure corners of the caves.

---oOo--- Web travel ---oOo---

August bought sad news, Sir Anthony's announced with regret, that due to the constraints of time it would be necessary to reduce the size of his realm.

Dwarven workers were called to help with the demolition. Only the two southern towers & a simple set of rooms were to be retained & it took time to rehouse the treasures of the castle. There was no longer a need for formal dining & the banquet room was one of the areas demolished. The kitchen & cellar remain in close to original condition, although in keeping with the needs of the day, it was decided to install refrigeration.

Even the surrounding environs were affected, the tiny hut behind the castle was pulled down & the kites moved closer to the new location of the workshop inside the castle. Crater Lake & the beaches passed to Sky, to be administered from his Realm.

---oOo--- Crater Lake ---oOo---

On the 17 August 1996, the renovations were complete. Then, it was time for precious last moments in favourite places before we farewelled old friends. The dwarves no longer had a place at the castle but we had come to feel at home in the Iconoweb & it seemed a natural for us to re-settle in the Iconocaves.

We passed those first days helping Afactor sort the new gifs. Icons that formed sets of images were seperated from solo images & the 32 by 32 icons from Sir Anthony's Library were included - a major undertaking. On the 28th August, The Iconolog V2.1 numbering 6223 gifs was released, unfortunately exhibition space could only be found for about half of these images.

---oOo--- The Best of the Iconolog ---oOo---

On the 13th September, there was a minor tremor in the Iconocaves, the tunnels to the waterway south collapsed & there was major damage was on the western side of the caves. Shortly afterwards a rumour spread that the dark cavern uncovered in the eastern tunnels led to the lair of the Wumpus. It was later proved to be quite true.

Through a narrow fissure that opened in the north east, we finally gained access to the cave on the South East Beach on Crater Lake, now part of the Realms of Sky. It was nice to be able to walk along the beaches once more, although the Great Web had overgrown the paths on the edge of the lake & the stairway to the clifftop was impassable. One misses the elves. Once I thought heard the soft swish of wings & just for a moment I was sure I was being watched. I turned but the faerie dragon is gone.

Shortly after this, the river loop that formed the Peerless Pool in the south of the caverns broke through it's eastern bank, flowing through the caverns to become the River Alph. The waters empty into a natural fissure which we had named 'The Eye', & the subsequently formed whirlpool was designated 'The Eye of the Storm'.

In November, James Furness started construction on The Village of Pineville to the south of Anthony's Castle. Concensus was reached between the four members of the realms & the group of www adventurers sites was named The Realms of the Great Web. An information centre has been established at Sir Anthony's Castle & the dwarves are maintaining an index of the maps within the Realms.

By nightfall on the last day of Autumn, we had cleared the final debris left by the tremor. The tunnel to the southern waterway was been blocked by rock fall. The day finished, I walked on the beaches by Crater Lake. The stairway from the beach has been cleared & I stood for a while on the clifftop, & watched the kites fly above The Realms.

---oOo--- Maps of the Realms of the Great Web --oOo---

Today, 15 December, the planning permit for a Pavilion of Icons on the south cliff overlooking Crater Lake was granted. Work proceded smoothly & on the 1st of the January, 1997, The Pavilion of Icons opened it's doors to the public. The Iconolog collections are available via the main screen in the foyer while the Icon Hall houses the special collections. The Realms Balcony gives a spectacular view north across the Realms. The surrounds have been landscaped & to the joy of the dwarves, a fairy dragon has been seen in the Ascii Gardens. The main entrance to the Pavilion is from the Great Web Road but the way has also been opened along the Clifftop Walk, east to Anthony's Castle.

---oOo--- The Pavilion of Icons ---oOo---

Much has been happening in the Realms. I called to visit the elves upon their return to the forest south of Anthony's castle. The elves have reopened their maze & it is rumored that much of the old castle is to be restored but I must report one sad reflection of our times, that it has been necessary to re-establish the prison under the castle.

The dwarves have extended the Iconocaves west from the castle, connecting to the small cave system beneath the Pavilion grounds. There is also an exit to the sewer system that now honeycombs the land, however shady characters have been seen lurking in the vicinity of the sewers & cautious travellers are advised to take the road system.

The Village of Pineville is established & a number of establishments including 'The Black Clove' have opened for business around the village square. The CIT building has been established on the west road.

---oOo--- The Village of Pineville ---oOo---

By March 20, we were pleased to announce The Iconolog V2.2 was complete, for the first time in the spacious halls of the Pavilion, all 6606 gifs were on display.

The dwarves started the construction of their home, the Dwarven Cavern. The grotto provided a natural entrance hall with easy access to both gardens & the Iconocaves. The Library was the first room completed, it's shelves stocked with speculative fiction. Boards were set up in the newly furbished Go Room & the Iconic workrooms were equipped with tools in easy reach, making the Caverns a pleasant environment to work & relax in.

The Dwarven Cavern---oOo--- The Dwarven Cavern ---oOo---

In April, the new rocket pad opened west of the village, we attended to watch the launch of Hercules, an impressive sight.

At the castle, Sir Anthony's kite workroom has been developed extensively. It is well worth a visit just to view the wonderful display of kites of all varieties but for those interested in building & flying their own kites, it has become a valuable resource.

---oOo--- Sir Anthony's Kite Workshop ---oOo---

For some time now, Sky has been absent from his realm, we have been reassurred as to his well being & his castle continues to function smoothly but to facilitate maintenance & expansion of the Realms, the administration of Crater Lake & the beaches has been returned to Sir Anthony & the castle.

Over the winter the dwarves studied new methods of updating The Iconolog. In order for the process to be automated it would be necessary to standadize the colors throughout the collection. A palette was chosen & with the aid of Perl & Imagemagick, conversion proceeded. By September the final checks were being made for the release of The Iconolog V3.0.

With spring also came the exciting news of a new member for the Realms. The overgrowth has been cleared from the clifftop path to the west & across the bridge, nestled in a niche at the foot of the Mountains of Madness is the fragrant realm of Melissa's Garden. Deep in the earth below the garden, it's entrance hidden amid the colorful blooms, is Firesong's Lair. A haven for those who love dragons.

---oOo--- Melissa's Garden ---oOo---]

In October, we welcomed Catlia Keep to The Realms. The Keep is set deep in the Mountains of Madness & can be reached from the north beach on Crater Lake. The dark twisted trees on the path do look a little ominous, but areas of the walk are quite scenic & at the end of the road, Jeremy has built a haven where adventurers can relax in the library or the icon tower, safe from the uncertainty of the surrounding area. There is still considerable construction at the Keep & reports of signs warning of falling dwarves are disturbing.

---oOo--- Catlia Keep ---oOo---]

In keeping with the dwarves egalitarian principles, The Iconoweb has been adapted to be compatible with differing adventuring equipment. The cartographers have been busy & maps are now available in ascii as well as gif format. The ascii map can be used as an alternative to web travel for fast navigation through The Ascii Gardens & The Iconocaves. In honour of the founder of the Realms, Sir Anthony who coined the term, the tunnels of the Iconocaves have been officially designated 'The Dwarven Tunnels'.

Almost imperceptively, a silence has crept over the realms & seems to have swept the once thriving Town of Overshire before it. In vain one calls for a carpet & a recent expedition to the area found no path through the Forest of the Great Web but if one looks west from the pavilion cliffs, the ruined remains of a tower can be glimpsed. The dwarves muttered amongst themselves about dark doings & rumours abound.

Today bought the terrible news that Catlia Keep has been destroyed. How the Keep met it's fate is yet a mystery, the grounds beyond bear no sign of an attack & the grid across the entrance bars brave souls who might investigate the cause of such destruction from within.

---oOo--- Atlantis ---oOo---]

The city of Atlantis, long thought lost forever emerged from the cybermist & we were pleased to welcome them to the Realms but too soon it faded once again into the web. There are those who doubt the truth of even a brief visitation but the dwarves made the journey through the tunnels, returned with wondrous tales of the underwater city & it's ocean parks & horses. It would appear the water-elves have long been aware of the existence of Atlantis, some claiming that there was once an underwater tunnel that lead from the River Alph to the city.

Recent maintainance in The Iconocaves revealed a cave-in in the tunnel leading to the legendary dungeons of furn. The cave was closed off for safety reasons. Worried by the lack of communication from the Village of Pineville, the dwarves led an expedition to investigate. Their news is disturbing, no trace was found of the once thriving village & it's rocket industries. Any adventurers travelling in this region should beware.

[Anthony's Castle] [The Iconoweb] [Catlia Keep] [Realms Home]

Dated: 30 Nov 1996
Updated: 23 January 2007
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