The Climb was first discovered by settlers arriving from the coast. The native inhabitants shied away from the area, holding it to be cursed; when the temple hewn of equal parts cyclopean masonry and the living rock of an isolated peak was discovered by Sartener’s expedition, they estimated the site had been abandoned for well over a thousand years.

Through an ornate door deep within the temple, they found a spiral staircase made of the same materials, one which–no matter how they tried–Sartener’s men could not surmount. Stranger still, rough calculations showed that the furthest the expedition traveled–Step 11,191–should have been far above the surface of the peak, rather than surrounded by dark and unyielding stone as it was.

In time, the mystery of the Endless Climb and the violation of natural law it seemed to represent attracted a sect of monks, who made their home in the old temple and tended to those who wished to climb. It also attracted adventure seekers who thought to make their fortune by discovering the top of the Climb. Most gave up or died before reaching even Step 11,191, commonly known as Sartener’s Step, where the now long-dead explorer had carved his name.

For many years the Telmon Expedition, which reached Step 24,365 before turning back, held the record for penetrating the Climb. Among their discoveries:

– A repair made to Step 17,853, which had been carved away and carefully repaired with brick and mortar.
– A sconce, about the size necessary to hold a small torch or statue, opposite Step 21,006.
– The “First Room,” a chamber off of Step 24,112 big enough to hold most of the expedition. They were forced to turn back not long after, but did recover a few featureless pottery shards and an unidentifiable bone from the chamber.

Telmon planned to return, but her early death meant that never happened, and years passed before another group was able to make it as far. The well-organized Pesek Expedition was the next to attempt; they carefully stocked the First Room with supplies over a period of months using an advanced pulley system before setting off upwards. Rather than returning as a group, the expedition left its members and a supply cache every 2500 steps and used a system of rolling spherical message balls to pass down reports. They discovered:

– The “Second Room,” a small closet off Step 29,993 which was barely large enough for two people.
– The “Demon Scratch,” a series of three linear marks on the wall just above Steps 31,012 and 31,013.
– A symbol, possibly a hieroglyph or personal name, carved near Step 35,631. It couldn’t be identified as coming from any known language or script.

The expedition’s leader, Dr. Erika Del Pesek, vanished somewhere above Step 45,000. One of her message balls was discovered by a rescue party on Step 45,392; it described her discovery of a “Third Room” and a skeleton bearing artifacts. A small gold ring was placed in the message ball, as was a drawing of the chamber, but the rescue party was forced to turn back before locating Dr. Pesek, who is presumed to have perished.

To date, no one has equaled her climb, found her body, or discovered the Third Room.

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