Mind Trap – Locked in stasis

[This is a continuation of the story in part 1 and part 2]

Ryan heard grinding stone behind him. He turned and walked towards the noise. A man-sized opening had appeared beside the left statue. Ryan jumped quickly past the statues, and peered into the opening.

It was dark. The inner walls appeared to be impeccably smooth. And there were steps leading downwards.

More stairs?” Ryan stuttered. Then he realised it’s considerably colder, and the cold seemed to coming from down there.

He was about to take out the flashlight when he had a better idea. Ryan bounded back into the large room, and took one of the burning torches from its bracket. Then he came back in front of the opening. Taking a deep breath, he held out the torch for illumination and walked down the steps.

It was almost suffocating. Every step Ryan took plunged him deeper into icy cold air. His hands clutched the torch handle, the warmth from the flame enveloped him in a small protective bubble.

Ryan lifted his head at the sound of his shoes crunching snow. He had reached the bottom of the stairs, and entered a large circular cavern. The light from the torch barely filled the cavern, and ambient glow reflected off the icy walls.

A frozen lake filled the centre of the cavern, thin layers of snow in patches across the surface. Long icicles hung precariously above, almost threatening to fall and break the lake surface. A path circled the lake to the left, ending at the foot of what appeared to be another flight of steps on the far side of the lake.

Ryan started walking.

His breath came out in misty clouds and his legs jiggled every few steps from shivering uncontrollably. His hands wrapped tightly around the torch as his life depended on it. The torch flame was the only thing keeping the cold at bay.

“It’s on you if he dies.”
“I know what I’m doing.”

Ryan was halfway around the lake when he heard a crackling sound to his right. Turning slightly, he saw a jagged split in the air, hovering in the centre of the lake, spilling forth blue light. Then it disappeared as a huge icicle crashed through it, and exploded into pieces as it hit the frozen surface.

A growl sounded in the air, somehow thickening the cold even more. It was also brighter; the lake had started to glow with an orange light. Then the lake surface exploded, and Ryan crouched down to shield himself from the flying ice and stinging water.

The air immediately felt warmer. Ryan opened his eyes and saw a fearsome creature standing close to the edge of the lake near him. It had a lion in front, a goat in the middle, and a dragon at the back, flames bursting out of the serpents mouth in short spurts. It was also looking directly at Ryan.

“A chimera?”

The chimera stepped forward. Ryan backed up a little. Sensing something about to happen, Ryan sprinted towards the exit. Which was lucky, because the chimera breathed a stream of fire where Ryan was a second ago.

Realising its prey escaping, the chimera bounded after Ryan. Ryan slid and fell to the floor. The chimera jumped at him, lion’s mouth open wide, and Ryan thrust the only weapon he had in his hands out, shutting his eyes to avoid seeing his inevitable death.

When it didn’t come after a few seconds, he opened his eyes. The chimera was frozen midair. Ryan’s torch was inside the chimera’s mouth, its flames feebly flickering inside.

Ryan was wondering what happened when a sense of deja vu overcame him. A memory of him solving the puzzle in the large room with 3 statues. A memory of him standing before a lion statue. And pressing the lion’s tongue.

The chimera shimmered and then vanished. Ryan held out the torch a few moments more. Then he picked himself up and ran for the stairs at the exit.

Author’s notes

No puzzles this time. I couldn’t come up with anything good, and I didn’t want to leave Ryan stranded. So I’ve decided to just continue with the story. The original plan had 5 episodes, so there’s 2 more (this is the third).

I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but in the last puzzle episode, there was this hint:
935
9351246780

If you matched the number with the position of alphabets, 935 becomes “ice”. “i” is the 9th letter, “c” is the 3rd and “e” is the 5th. The plaque in episode 2 had this hint, so there’s “ice” at the top of the plaque, and a drawing of fire just below it. Sort of a hint of the chimera to come, the ice lake trapping the fiery beast below.

Then there’s the 3 statues of lion, goat and dragon in episode 2. Linking the solution from before into this episode was a stroke of luck. I was struggling about how Ryan could defeat the chimera…