how to find the shadowlands

To find your way to the Shadowlands, the twilight realm where the Night Things dwell, you must first pay homage to the Raven Queen. The customary offering is a bushel of dates, left under under an oak tree at midnight on the eve of the new moon. She is most hungry when the air is cool and there are more leaves on the ground than in the trees, but some have reported reported rare success when the world is still vibrant and green.

At the light of dawn, if you count four and twenty blackbirds at roost in the tree, then you will know the Raven Queen is pleased with your offering, and has decided to grant you access to her realm.

On the very same day, head into the woods during the golden hour - when the sun sets the trees on fire, filling the forest with amber and gold and scarlet. Head due east, past the creek and through the valley. You'll know you're on the right path when you pass a fallen tree in the middle of a glade of ferns.

Keep walking until just after you start to doubt yourself and just before you give up hope. Then you will see an old, gnarled tree with twisted limbs that could have been an oak if it weren't for the coal-black bark.

Place your left hand on the trunk of the tree, and then walk around it backwards three times. When you open your eyes, you will see a set of rough-hewn stone stairs leading down a hillside that was not there before. Follow the stairs, and you will find yourself on a path that looks almost exactly but unsettlingly not quite like the path you had traveled previously.

At this point, you might notice that the trees sway against the wind, as if determined to display their independence from the spirits of the air. You may hear the roar of beasts in a timbre that you have previously only heard in dreams. You will be safe as you walk along this leaf-covered path, but be sure not to stray, for out in the shadows, in the darkest recesses of the wood, lie creatures that even the Night Things fear.

Continue down this path until just after sunset, and you will reach the edge of the wood. When you peer out from beneath the canopy of the forest, you will see, nestled in the valley before you, your destination - the goblin city of Ix, with its ten thousand smokestacks silhouetted against the starry night sky.