Quite justifiably scared of my own shadow, I retreated back to the previous darkened cavern and took my only remaining option, which was to head west to another junction which after a right turn, branched off to the west and to the north. Persisting with my westerly track, I was soon bothered by the sound of footsteps ahead. Being a giant green behemoth I eschewed the option to turn back and continued directly towards the sounds. It was difficult to see who the footsteps belonged to as the passage winded back and forth, but when a straight section did appear, two human faces appeared in the faint light of the glowstone. Holding their ground, two non-descript adventurers were soon being torn apart by a charging creature who really had no time for face-offs. Just before I began my attack though, one of my victims put a brown sack down on the floor to one side and so that was my first item of interest to investigate. What had been held inside was another phial in a wooden box, much like the one I had found earlier in remains of the Flesh-feeders lunch. Sure enough, the bottle unstoppered itself and a swirling gas rose to form the face of an old man.
Another round of gibberish followed, however a slightly different result followed. This was actually the ‘Vapour of Tongues’ and the spirit had bestowed upon me the gift of language! At last I had access to a cypher to help figure out the writings I had found and the speech of other entities I encountered. However, it isn’t entirely fool-proof. Here’s the exact description of how to translate.
So lets’s give it a try shall we? Right at the start we met a dwarf who screamed ‘Kff pebw by afrp momf‘. I work this out to mean ‘Keep away from me‘, which does make perfect sense in the context the sentence is used. I have used a certain amount of guesswork though, the rules don’t mention how to handle consonants at all. But I’ll come back to this puzzle system in the conclusions I think and give some smart-arsed reader the opportunity to explain what an idiot I am for not understanding it properly!
So, I think I now have a handle on how to interpret the information imparted to me! I set about translating the piece of leather I found on the body of said dwarf, I came up with -
‘Swinebeard of yore. You have been found guilty of the crime of wilful and malicious arson a most serious offence in the dry region of Salamonis. As punishment you are sentenced to undertake a perilous mission of recovery. You must travel northwards and enter the undergound domain of Zharradan Marr there to seek out and recover flasks of swirling vapours. These are the vapours of Stittle Woad. You must find the three flasks containing these vapours and return them to this court. ON NO ACCOUNT MUST THEY BE OPENED. This is the sentence of the court and the geas has been cast. This is your punishment. You must succeed or die in the attempt.’
So these vapours are precious to someone (Stittle Woad is marked on our region map) and Zharradan Marr has taken them to his underground lair where I have found myself. Am I supposed to be protecting them maybe?
I went back to the text of the previous vapour I had released after the flesh-feeders and translated that -
‘I am released from my rest. Foul creature what do you know of the forces with which you tamper. But nonetheless my purpose is ordained. I bestow on you the power of reason. From now on you are in control of your own destiny. And now may i return to my peaceful rest until once more the heavens take their oppositions.’
And that I believe led to my ability to make decisions and not have to make dice rolls to assert my choices.
Christ, no wonder this was listed as a hard one. I was a clever kid, but never would I have been able to handle this stuff! Regardless, we struggle onwards, mind expanded and slightly boggled. What I found was something welcomly more mundane – a junction. An easterly turn took me down a passageway which ended at a large wooden door which was far too big and sturdy for me to break down, on the face of the door was a metal plate with a metal ball hanging in front of it. Apparently a knocker, I used it and waited to see who would answer.
The Rhino-man shuffled through the door towards me and spoke and I was able to interpret -
‘Come on then. what business have you here. Answer quickly.’
If you can understand the creature turn immediately to reference sixty two.
Amazed that I could understand him, Rhino-man, presumably being loaned out from the Citadel of Chaos asked if I was one of Marr’s creatures? I suppose I am a minion then. He realised that I didn’t really know if I was or not and suggested that due to the size of me, I should be heading towards the Testing Grounds, but someone named Darramouss would know for certain. Should I make the Testing Grounds, he had a message I had to pass on to his weapon-master, Legionnaire Twenty-Nine, called Thugruff - ‘Gat H’Ouile has escaped with the ring to the Forest of Spiders’. If I met him I was to add 29 to the reference to do this. I bid Rhino-man farewell and continued onward, following a junction to the east again and entering a door to my left.
Two blood-orcs leaped from a table and made for their swords as soon as I entered through the door, a man in dirty robes stood behind them and uttered some words -
‘Who is it? What is happening? What has disturbed us? Please god release this black eye curse.‘
Needless to say, combat followed, but the orcs being 7/7 and 7/8 didn’t stand a chance. The man spoke again -
‘Have mercy on a blind man whoever you are. If you are friend then lead me from this place. If you are foe then leave me be. You are strangely silent. Who are you? Do you understand me. My god intruder. If your plan is to do away with me then do it quickly. Otherwise be off with you.’
If you can understand the human turn to reference two hundred.
‘So what is it to be. Is not my misery enough. Show charity. Give me gold and feed me. Or leave me be.’
The man introduced himself as Hannicus, the ex-keeper of Zharradan Marr’s underground dungeons who had been usurped by Darramouss, an undead. Darramouss could be found north of the Chattermatter’s lair, which was roughly where we were heading! Hannicus clearly had revenge as motivation to take Darramouss down and he produced a ring which he claimed I could use to defeat him by smashing the jewel at its center against the wall, releasing a gas deadly only to the undead Half-elf that is Darramouss. I was granted 2 Luck for my discovery, but Hannicus seemed to want his ring back, he wanted me to help him get out. I had no time for this, I had what I needed and so I took the ring and went on my way. The text informed me that when I encountered Darramouss I was to wait until I had the opportunity to grab him and then add 50 to the reference.
Moving on I found myself in a location familiar to a previous run-through, the coffin room. So, having previously ended up cooking an oven, I had managed to negotiate my way back to this half of the dungeon and so followed the same path I had before, back to the oven room. On the way though, I stopped to translate the scroll I attempted to read where the Rock Demon illusion had appeared. As I thought, it seemed to be a key document.
‘Biography of Z Marr page ninety three:… thus came Marr to abandon the physical world and take refuge in his own. A strange netherworld which occupies no space in the world we mortals know. A world of illusion in which where he appears to be he is not. And a world in which those searching for him would instead find themselves. He has but one weakness in his new world and that is a crystal club which may be used to destroy forever the gateway between our world and his.’
If at some time in the future you believe you have located the entrance to Marrs netherworld deduct the page number above from the reference you are on at the time and turn to this reference. If you are correct you will meet the necromancer. For having the good fortune to find this parchment you may restore your luck score to its initial level.
So, yes, I guess you could say that was a fairly key document indeed! Amazing it would only be guarded by a mere illusion.
To the oven we go then and as previous, the furnaces roared and the rooms temperature began to rise. However this time I had my yellow metal bracelets I had found on the body of the adventurers in the previous part. Banging on the walls of the oven room I accidentally bashed the two bracelets together, creating a loud ringing noise which seemed to trigger a subsiding of the rising heat. And that was it. I was turned back out into the sequence of junctions I had been stuck in before. No secret door, nothing. Now I know this route is the way forwards as Hannicus had told me so, but clearly the oven puzzle was a mere distraction and not my route forward at all.
Damn your eyes, Jackson!!! What now?? I was certain this would be my way forward…
Here I stand then, stuck in a dead-end, unable to progress any further. I’m now fully grasping that this really isn’t like most other Fighting Fantasy books, my Twitter peeps are aware this one has been driving me crazy and so as I thought, we’re gonna need another part to get this one done. I will return and we will continue!