Temple of Terror – Part 3

Doubling back from the tapestry corridor, I went down the mural corridor. Quite impressive it sounded too, twenty metres long, depicting a great battle between undead, orcs, men and dwarves. My study of its detail was suddenly broken by a voice behind me, ‘Do you like my work?‘. Spinning around, I was facing a man with paint pots in his hand and a brush behind his ear, the astute reader may determine that he is the artist. Flattery was the obvious course of action and he seemed pleased to get complimented on his painting skills, this loosened his tongue and so I learned of High Priestess Leesha. Leesha is the boss of this place, despite her terrible nature, she has a taste for finery and art. Every year she invites talented people to come and carry out their works with the lost city. The best entry is rewarded with 300g and the rest are sacrificed to the Dark One – whoever that may be. Our friend here was pretty confident of his victory and also let on that the artists were protected here by wearing magic rings and that Leesha’s inner temple can only be reached by walking through the curtain of golden rain. Despite all this juicy information, he had never seen or heard of Malbordus…

Leaving him to his paint pots I followed the corridor around to the right, off the corridor was a solid-looking door, from behind which I could hear agonized cries and sadistic laughter. I turned the handle and walked in to find Michael Jackson being tortured by a bare-chested man.

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Killing the torturer, I took a bunch of brass keys from his belt and set about freeing the prisoner and found his name was actually Thitta, an ex-servant of Leesha who was caught trying to escape. I explained my quest to him and the mention of the Messenger of Death perked his interest, a figure he’d seen was stashing something in a golden casket before disappearing into thin air… We went our separate ways from here.

A little further down the corridor was another door that popped open thanks to my Open Door spell, inside was a marble-floored room, bare except for a bronze head of a woman mounted on the wall which surprisingly started to talk to me. I was asked how many gold pieces Leesha gave to the winner of the art contest, the text telling me to turn to that page number. On giving the correct answer I was congratulated by the head and it started to pour a red smoke into the room which left me feeling invigorated, restoring 2 Skill and 2 Luck! For once I actually needed that Skill boost! Back in the corridor it led to a small room with doors leading off to the left and right, a nice disguise, but essentially another T-junction! Opting for the right door I discovered a room packed full of caskets, chests, urns and the like, oh and one of the urns also a fire-spitting fiend climbing out of it.

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Not that tough and opponent at 6/8, but it did force me to roll 1D6 per attack round to see if its firey breath did any damage to me, a roll of 1-2 would cause 1 Stamina damage, but fortunately I emerged un-scathed and un-toasted. My reward on exploring the room was a gold medallion with a heart carved into it, unknown to me though this was actually a medallion given to sacrificial victims and so I lost 1 Luck point. Beyond this room was another with a mosaic floor and a large Medusa head with a coin-slot. I didn’t fancy a Medusa vending machine, I was fine for Medusas that day, so I moved on into what was another darkened corridor my lantern plainly wasn’t good enough for. As a consequence I walked straight into a blade in the wall, costing me 2 Stamina and 1 Luck. Emerging into a candle-lit room with a floor strewn with rotting food, animal droppings and matted hair, the door behind me alarmingly slammed shut while the door ahead of me burst open.

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This fellow was a Night Horror and he was shooting bolts of white light from a silver rod at me, which I was none too happy about. A quick Luck roll meant I was able to have a rummage in my bag and not get a blast from the rod. I triumphantly pulled out the brass bell I’d found in the desert sands, ringing it forced the night horror to collapse on the floor screaming, clutching its ears. But Ii wasn’t out of the woods yet as a grinding noise signaled me to look up and see the ceiling was beginning to descend. Grabbing up the silver rod I was all set to brace the ceiling, but as soon as I picked it up, the ceiling stopped moving. A door led out of the room which I could open up with the crystal key I bought from Yaz. Before moving on though, being the nice chap that I am, I threw the rod back into the room, the ceiling grinding returned as it continued its descent, presumably crushing the cowering Night Horror to death.

The room I’d walked into was a workshop, carving materials littered the room and the job in progress was a carving of what was presumably Vatos being attacked by giant sandworms.

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Closer inspection resulted in me gaining 1 Luck point as tucked within a hollowed out building was a small ebony dragon carving! That’s three of five artifacts now found.

Leaving the workshop for the next room I found myself in a large hall, weapons and armour adorned the walls and at the opposite end was an altar being attended to three sallow-skinned men in black robes who on seeing me all picked up a sickle and started to ‘advance’ towards me. Although the illustration suggests they did this in a somewhat more confrontational manner than implied.

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Trying to avoid a fight with three maniacs I told them I had a gift for priestess Leesha, and on seeing the medallion I picked up earlier they seemed to buy it too, ‘The gift of your life will certainly please Leesha‘. Curiously I felt compelled to walk down the hall towards the altar, but I fought the chanting voices in my head and passed a Skill test to ensure I was able to keep my head on my body for a bit longer. The Dark Disciples weren’t too keen on this though and set about that task of removing my head once again, but while they had a decent level of skill, they weren’t that tough at 9/5, 9/5 and 8/6. The only thing worth taking from them though was a long sacrificial dagger.

Leading out of the hall was an archway that led into an ornate corridor with a familiar sounding gold curtain, but before I could pass through I had to deal with the small matter of a wall of stone arms brandishing swords at me.

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A formality to pass by the four of them though as all the stats were so low at 6/4 each. I stepped through the curtain of golden rain and felt wetness, yet remained dry. I was in a luxurious chamber, decorated with paintings and the like, even scatter cushions. I wasn’t alone though, a Slave Guard was waiting at the end of the room with a very fine mustache.

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Having taken him out I was knackered, the scatter cushions were just far too inviting to this dusty adventurer and so I decided to have a drink of water and a sleep, a risky choice maybe but I was able to rest long enough to restore 2 Stamina before I was awoken by a deep humming noise, I dived behind some drapes to hide from whoever or whatever was making the sound. A white-robed man carrying a golden chalice entered the chamber, he saw the body of the slave guard and checked for a heart-beat before running out of the room, completely oblivious to my presence. Taking the opportunity to get out of there before he brought back more men with mustaches I set about getting the door out of the room open, I was given the opportunity to hack the door open with my sword as opposed to using my Open Door spell and was able to do so without any penalty or check… really glad I took that spell!

My next challenge was to pick a door, the corridor led me up to two doors, each bearing a different set of runes and, one with a moon, one with a sun. I tried to use my Read Symbols spell but apparently the golden rain had sapped away my magic abilities. I suppose that explains the door situation then.

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I went for the moon door and didn’t die, so I guess it was the right guess! A long, sloping corridor took me down into a chamber covered in hieroglyphics. Three clay pots, white, red and black sat on a stone table. The black pot had a shrivelled monkey paw inside, which I decided could only be bad news. In the white pot was a ring with a lightning bolt on it, I put it on to no obvious effect – could this be the ring the painter had mentioned? Usually I assume that Fighting Fantasy books that take you through a choice of three give you a good option, an indifferent one and a punishment. I’d had the in-different one, I was assuming the monkey paw was the bad one so there must be something awesome in the red pot! Of course there was nothing in the pot, but underneath was a letter ‘E’. Damn you, Messenger of Death! I lost 4 Stamina and 1 Luck for my inquisitiveness, maybe I was right about the rings value after all. On my way out of the chamber I found a small trapdoor, but finding it too dark to properly explore I moved on into what can only be described as a treasure room! There was a golden skeleton statue I quite liked the look of, so I had that. From what I was told earlier by Thitta clearly the Messenger of Death had left me a note in the golden casket, so I left that alone.

Leaving the room took me on to another T-junction where I took a right. Strangely there was a large bowl of grapes in the middle of this corridor, I took a gamble and ate the lot, 4 Stamina points were my reward. Ending the corridor was an archway blocked by a black curtain with a skull carved above it. I threw back the curtain and found myself in a small chamber with two guards standing at the end; ‘Give good reason to intrude on the domain of Leesha or die’.

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I didn’t have what they would consider a good reason to intrude the domain of Leesha, so I drew my sword and fought them off, which wasn’t easy as they both has a Skill of 9. Marble steps led onwards, up into a high ceiling room supported by parallel lines of white pillars. Screaming luxury, this was indeed the domain of Leesha as she was draped over some satin cushions, being fanned by a large, muscular servant. With a smile and a snap of her fingers he attacked me.

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After killing this milky-eyed freak I turned my attention to Leesha and found she was already coming at me with a shiny, black, crescent-shaped object. I was given the option to fight her using a giant sandworm tooth, which did the trick as it was, for some reason, her weakness and she turned and fled at the mere sight of it. Knowing I was still looking out for dragon artifacts I checked a large chest in her chamber. I remembered I was reading an Ian Livingstone book too late though because of course, inside was the final letter from the Messenger of Death, a letter ‘D’ written in gold-dust costing me 4 Stamina points. The silver lining was that I only had a D, E and H, so I had ultimately survived this particular threat!

Turning my attention back to Leesha I pursued her through the door she left the chamber by into another hallway, in the middle of which was a bronze idol in the shape of a dog. Taking a closer look I could see that the dogs mouth was hinged, inside was a small Golden Dragon, that’s four artifacts… is it enough?

Running down the hall I found myself in a cross-passage, also known as a T-junction, to my left I could see Leesha hurriedly opening an iron door, to my right was a dwarf! He was crawling on his knees, seemingly badly sunburned and carrying a hammer. He also seemed to recognize me, so I thought I’d best see what he wanted.

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This dwarf was an envoy sent by Yaztromo to bring me the legendary war-hammer of Stonebridge as only something so mighty was able to destroy the Dragon Artifacts. I’m sure this crispy, delirious dwarf was delighted that Yaz hadn’t sent me off with it in the first place! Continuing after Leesha I pushed through the iron door she had just gone through to find myself in a features room, save for a circular pit in the middle and a very high ceiling. Sadly, I had only four of the five dragon artifacts, Malbordus had won. A window was open at the top of the room and sunlight was streaming through, only to be blocked out by the shadow of a huge dragon with an evil-looking man on its back who could faintly be heard laughing, presumably in an evil-manner. All of Allansia would soon be in shadow as Malbordus would now lead his hoards across the land accompanied by dragons. I had failed in my mission.

My adventure was over.

Temple of Terror – Part 2

So having unwillingly entered myself into some sort of hideous, undead version of Countdown there was no time to mess around and so I made a move, going further into the city of lost city of Vatos; and now I think about it, a lost city that was remarkably easy to navigate to. At the end of the corridor was a T-junction with patterned drapes hanging down the wall. Pulling back the drapes revealed a large iron door, an unlocked one at that. Passing through I was in a dusty room, walls smeared with blood and a bucket hanging from the ceiling. Another door was on the opposite wall, but before I could make a decision as to what to do next a scratching, skittering sound from a low archway soon turned into a giant centipede.

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He wasn’t as fierce as he looked though and I was soon wiping some sort of ichor off my blade and moving to investigate the bucket. Inside was merely a bunch of old bones, but closer inspection showed one was carved into the shape of a dragon which will bee my first artifact! Leaving the room through the opposite door took me to a cross-road with nothing of apparent interest to the left or right, forcing me to push straight on. A large pit threatened to block my passage, but using my Jump spell sent me sailing over it unhindered. I say unhindered, it actually cost me 3 Stamina to pull this off, a magic system reminiscent of the Sorcery books. Hovering out of the torch-lit gloom came an awful creature which was now blocking my path, a giant floating eye-ball, an Eye Stinger, was trying to catch me with its hypnotic gaze.

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Having nothing in my pack which would be of use, I drew my sword and started swinging, eyes closed! Lucky old me managed to thrust my sword straight into its eyeball, sending the thing crashing to the ground, leaking a horrible yellow toxic ooze. My exit from the area was swift, but brought back to a halt soon after when I spied an iron grille on the right side of the wall. Prising it open seemed the thing to do, but as I reached up with my sword I realised the grille had been tampered with, the bars highlighted with chalk to form a ‘H’. The Messenger of Death had made his first mark on me, costing me 1 Luck, 4 Stamina and potentially ending the adventure prematurely somewhere down the line.

Taking a left turn at the following T-junction I turned sharply right to find an armoured lizard man guarding a pile of sacks. Clearly an important thing to be doing in an un-populated lost city in the middle of the desert. Not having a Creature Sleep spell I drew my sword and finished him off (9/8) without issue. His sacks only contained grains and spices, but there was a large iron key in his clothes which I took along with me. At another T-junction I followed it to the right, the corridor slowly opening up into a dingy room where two Ratmen were gnawing away at the carcass of a goblin, the illustration showing a pretty harrowing expression on the face of the dead goblin!

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Thankfully, the Ratmen were about as difficult an opponent as you might imagine (5/4 & 5/5) and the rewards were just as exciting, 3 gold and a monkey tail were in their pockets. Two archways led away from this dingy pit, I took the one to the left which led me to yet another T-junction, the right path was covered in broken glass so I only had the option of going left. I mean, c’mon, I’ll fight a giant sandworm at the drop of a hat, but broken glass? You must think I’m mad.

With the corridor ending at the now seemingly mandatory T-junction I went to the right but I could hear footsteps approaching. I decided to hang around to see just who it was.

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Jerkily walking skeleton warriors were on my trail and posed a smidge more of a challenge than the Ratmen duo (7/5 & 6/6), but that isn’t saying much. I was able to take one of their shields with me for 1 Skill point that I couldn’t use. Had I not stopped to investigate those boney footsteps I’d have ended up at a locked wooden door, my Open Door spell being rendered obsolete by the iron key I took from the lizard man just a moment ago. An un-natural cold filled the room and two caskets lay on the floor, now prepared for a vampire encounter all I actually found myself doing was taking a clay goblet with a heart etched into the rim… odd. I headed back to the previous T-junction and this time went left. A door on the left-hand wall offered itself up, its carved decoration of a hideous creature being consumed by flames made me think twice about going through it, so I carried on along the corridor which ended at a plainer door.

Going through I found myself in a dark room with scratch marks all over the walls, a low growling sound could be heard in the murk. The door behind me suddenly opened and someone threw in pieces of meat, this fully got the attention of the Death Dog that had been lurking in the back of the room and he was now lurching forward to attack me.

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No slouch either this Death Dog, at 9/10 he actually managed a couple of hits on me, but it wasn’t enough. Into the darker end of the room it seemed a tunnel stretched off into the distance, so naturally I started to crawl along it. As the light faded completely away I was asked if I had the ability to cast the Light spell… curious, as the book clearly states you start with a lantern in your inventory. Not having the spell, or seemingly the nouse to use my lamp, I continuing to crawl along in the dark and was ominously asked if I had the Detect Trap spell. Not having this spell either I was forced to take a Luck test as I had just triggered a cross-bow trap which Luckily only hit me in the shoulder for 3 Stamina points of damage. Finally I reached the end of the tunnel and emerged into a small dusty room, but suddenly I was screaming, my mind convinced the room was on fire, my flesh burning and death only a moment away… five minutes later I came around from my fear, severely shaken to the point that I had lost 3 Skill points! This tunnel exploration was a non-stop success I’d say. No explanation was given as to why I’d just flipped out though, I can only assume it had something to do with the cross-bow bolt?

Leading out of the room was another T-junction, to the left was nothing obviously of interest, but to the right were floating, glowing lights. The glowing lights turned out to be giant fireflies, which of course attacked me, but even in my new kitten-weak state of having lost 3 Skill, I still had 9 which was more than enough to kill these things without sustaining damage. Further down the corridor the light of the fireflies was replaced by torches as the corridor opened into a huge room with an ornate golden ceiling, a massive bronze warrior statue stood in the middle of the room. I can see where this is going.

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Asked if I wanted to move round the statue to its left or its right, I passed to its left so as to be in a good position to avoid the inevitable hammer swing coming my way. As I walked past, nothing happened, so whatever I’d done, I’m calling it a win. The tunnel that led away from the room was sloping down and started to lead into a flooded room, water pouring in from a stone lion head in the ceiling. Going waist-deep through the water now I was comforted by the sight of writhing tentacles breaking the water surface, tentacles which were then trying to drag me under the water as I wildly hacked at whatever they belonged to. Not having the Bracelet of Mermaid Scaled I chose not to buy at the start of the adventure I had to fight the Tentacled Thing. I also had only 9 rounds (my current Skill) to do it without drowning, not an easy task given that the Tentacled Thing had decent stats at 8/10. A Luck roll pushed me over the line on the ninth round though so my adventure wasn’t over just yet… Deep red with blood, the water began to turn black, an acrid vapour rising from the surface. Interested to see if this would reveal anything hidden I decided to stick around, all I found however was that the vapour made me lose consciousness and fall, a Luck test thankfully meaning I landed on a ledge and not in the water, only losing 2 Stamina.

Continuing down the corridor I ignored the opportunity to turn off down another path and eventually came to a dead end, a solitary candle burning by the wall, but with something glinting behind it, Resident Evil has clearly taught us all that this means something useful is hidden in these situations, and so it remains as a silver box with a dragon motif was in an alcove behind the candle, inside which was a silver dragon artifact! Things taking a good turn at last, I headed back down the corridor to the turn-off I had ignored earlier.

Ahead of me was a very dark corridor, but a figure carrying a lantern could be made-out walking away from me. I pursued, but in true horror movie fashion, the thing spun around to face me just as I was right behind it…

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To survive the stare of the Phantom I had to pass a Skill test, which I did, but with no items to deter him and my sword apparently useless against him, all I could do was stand there and suffer his paralysing touch for 4 Stamina damage. Fortunately though the Phantom just wandered off and didn’t kill me, so when the feeling came back I was able to stiffly continue to a T-junction. Showing signs of more recent use this was a decorated passage, tapestries hanging to the right and murals to the left. Looking over the tapestries, they all appeared to depict deities and various animals, I took a fancy to one of a burning phoenix, so rolled it up and put it in my pack. A sphinx-like chair was the next piece I came across, I decided to treat myself to a little sit-down and a Luck test meant the chair was merciful and restored 4 Stamina to me. More healing awaited as a handy herbal water station was at the end of the corridor, my Read Symbols spell allowed me to translate the accompanying sign as ‘DO NOT DRINK’, but bathing my wounds in it seemed to do the trick and I gained another 4 Stamina.

All healed-up, I headed into the final run of the city dungeon, two artifacts down, three more remain… and only four more letters to spell and bring about death. I like those odds!

 

 

Temple of Terror – Part 1

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#14

Temple of Terror

The dark, twisted power of the young Malbordus is reaching its zenith! All he needs now is to retrieve the five dragon artifacts which have been hidden for centuries in the lost city of Vatos, somewhere in the Desert of Skulls. Each day that passes brings him closer to them and only YOU can stop him! YOUR mission is to reach the lost city before Malbordus and destroy the treasures he seeks. But beware! Each step you take leads you closer to your doom …

And so here we are again, sat in the tower of Yaztromo, awaiting the start of our journey. Bits of warhammer aren’t on our shopping list this time though, now it’s all about dragon artifacts and we need to beat evil swine Malbordus to them or else he’ll be commanding a blaze of dragons, and we don’t want that do we? Yaz has guided our hero back to his tower from Stonebridge entirely unharmed by the creatures that lurk within Darkwood Forest; apparently they wouldn’t dare to mess with the power of Yaztromo. Might have been nice of him to accompany me back in Forest of Doom then and stopped me getting toasted by wyverns and the like… Regardless, he’s here to make life easier for us by teaching us a limited selection of magic to take on our journey.

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Our choices are fairly self-explanatory but we only have time to learn four of them – Open Door, Creature Sleep, Magic Arrow, Language, Read Symbols, Light, Fire, Jump, Detect Trap and Create Water. I opted for Language, Read Symbols, Open Door and Jump, given that I’d been very lucky in rolling a 12/21/12 Character, I didn’t think I’d have much trouble in combat situations.

It was time to leave the forest and Yaz sent me on my way with a warning that it wouldn’t be long until Malbordus knew I was on his tail and would be sending some assassins to get in my way. Not a problem, I had a few things to sort out before being assassinated, to find Malbordus we need to find the dragon artifacts, to find the dragon artifacts we need to find the lost city of Valos, to find the lost city of Valos we need to find the Desert of Skulls… and that, according to Yaztromo is reached either by an overland journey or can be sailed to via the Catfish River and Port Blacksand. Being quite fond of Port Blacksand, and also quite lazy, I opted to sit on my arse on a boat and take the gift of 25 gold pieces he offered.

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Despite the gold burning a hole in my pocket, I haggled the captain down from 5 gold to 3 and had a nice long snooze on a big pile of rope. I was awoken by a tap on the shoulder as we passed under a great archway, passing through the city walls of Port Blacksand itself. After the barge was moored up, nightfall was settling in and I set about finding shelter. I was however not desperate enough to head off down an alley with an old man who offered a room, soup and bread for a single gold piece. From Clog Street I walked to Harbour Street and as darkness and concern began to envelop me, the sounds of singing and laughter caught my ear and sent me towards the Black Lobster tavern. One gold is the going rate for rooms though apparently as that’s what the barman said I could stay here for, another gold piece was all it took to get him to tell me who to speak to about sailing south in the morning. Pirate Gargo was the man to speak to, prices hiked up at this point though, ten gold and I had to work for my dinner, with options limited, I agreed to meet him on-board the Belladonna in the morning. Retiring for the night, I headed up to my room only to have a large man carrying three flagons of ale bump straight into me, just like at a gig. Telling him not to be so clumsy is a fairly safe bet when you have a Skill of 12. He smashed me in the face for 1 Stamina damage, so I killed him. Murmuring onlookers did nothing as I took a leather pouch from his body which contained only a small amount of pirate booty – 2g and a large pearl, I’d had enough for the day and headed off to bed. A restless night was explained by the cold light of day which revealed that my single gold piece had  bought me a flea-ridden pile of straw for a mattress, so deciding against a lie-in, I headed straight to the Belladonna. Which as it turns out, is a Pirate ship. Oops.

Gargo was stomping around complaining that one of his gunners had been killed in a bar-fight last night and that I would have to fill his place, my job being to load cannonballs. Of course, within a short time we were making a move to attack a merchant ship, although on closer inspection it turned out to be a rather more dangerous man-of-war vessel… nice pirating, guys. Standing no chance at all, the Belladonna began to sink and only a winning Skill test kept me from being sucked down with it. Getting the attention of the man-of-war crew wasn’t too hard though and I was soon hauling myself aboard using the rope they threw to me. Surprisingly though, this was a boat full of dwarves! I filled them in on my quest, convincing their suspicious minds I wasn’t a pirate by correctly recalling their kings name, Gillibran. Turned around, they looked after me, feeding me up, restocking my provisions and providing two days rest as we sailed to the edge of the Desert of Skulls where my adventure would begin properly.

After disembarking, all alone with no further dwarvern assistance, I might add, I headed south along the beach and not far along I noticed a strange pattern of shells in the sand and skewered in the sand was  spear decorated with feathers. My Read Symbols spell came in handy here as I was able to deduce that this was actually a warning not to progress any further as walking on this sacred ground would anger the beach demon. Pondering what a beach demon might be, I decided to instead head inland to the east. Buzzing above me though were three large needle-flies, all very weak enemies though, all of which were dispatched with ease.

A half hours steady walking later and I came across a figure in the sand, a robed man laid face-down. I stopped to check him out and within a small leather pouch in his hand was a gold key, which is now my gold key. In the shimmering haze ahead of me was another figure, but this one wasn’t in the dirt, this one was mounted on a camel.

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Hoping he didn’t know the corpse I’d just looted, I spoke to the man who was simply on his way to join a merchant caravan. He obviously wasn’t very well stocked as he was willing to trade a canister of water for the pearl I took from the dead pirate. We said our goodbyes and headed off. Unexpectedly though, the sky grew dark and the wind began to pick up, before I knew it I was enveloped in a howling sand-storm which cost me 2 Stamina points, a successful Luck test though saw me find a small object when the sands died down, sticking out from the sand was a brass handbell which I took along with me to the east. It was here I was cursing my stupidity at not learning a Create Water spell when I knew full well I was heading into a desert, but also very happy at the stupidity of the would-be merchant who has just traded me his water cannister and helped prevent my death for the moment.

Another figure then appeared on the horizon, but this time, it was merely a tent. It seemed to belong to someone though as on getting closer I could see a horse. I felt I should venture inside and say hello.

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The horse and tent belonged to Abjul, a very friendly nomad who welcomed me inside, fed me and watered me for 4 Stamina points and then had a variety of interesting wares for me to buy; Sealing wax, Ivory Beetle Charm, Bone Flute (all 2g) – Onyx egg, Bracelet of Mermaid Scales, Crystal key, Ebony Facemask (all 3g) – Silver Mirror (4g). I took the Bone Flute, Crystal Key, Ebony Facemask, Silver Mirror and left the tent a happy traveller.  Not long after I left the tent though I felt a tremor, then the ground began to move, it was definitely tremors. I was feeling tremors. So of course, I was being attacked by a Giant Sandworm.

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A fairly colossal foe, matched by its stats of 10/20, but still not a match for me and I managed to emerge victorious having only taken a small number of hits and took a chip off one of its tooth as a trophy, perhaps even as a weapon. Night was coming though and with no Fire spell I was getting very cold, to the extent that enduring the night cost me 3 Stamina points. As you might imagine though, this didn’t last and as the sun came up I was soon toiling in the heat once again, but not far to the west I could see what resembled a small cluster of trees with large birds circling up above. Surprisingly this wasn’t a mirage but a genuine oasis, but the circling birds did concern me so I decided not to drink and instead investigated a small pile of rocks only to have a scorpion run out and sting me for 4 Stamina points of damage. Pushing rocks away revealed a small cotton sack which contained something spherical, what had been hidden away was a small glass ball which was forming a sort of prison to sprite! A light tap on a rock cracked the ball and set him free, to which he squeaked his appreciation in a high-pitched voice, a sprinkle of magic dust giving me 1 Luck point and he advised I make a head-scarf out of the sack. Great advice too as after a quick swing of my water canister, temperatures began to soar and the text asked me if I was wearing a head-scarf, my new apparel seemingly helping me avoid a mis-hap here.

Finally, on the horizon, shimmering in the sand, was the walls of a city. ‘Vatos!’, I said to myself.

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Ignoring the option to cast a Jump spell and go sailing over the city walls, I went for an Open Door spell on a small door next to the main entrance which sent me into a deserted courtyard. On the opposite side was an archway, leading down some stone steps into a torch-lit corridor. Down here was an iron casket, which seemed like a good enough place to hide a Dragon Artifact, so I had a peak inside. All I found though was an iron helm, a useless additional Skill point was offered to me, I took the helmet along anyway. As I walked away I felt a light tap on my shoulder…

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Something that belonged in House of Hell met my gaze, a quite horrible illustration of what was known as The Messenger of Death. Into my ear it gurgled the word ‘death’ and I somehow knew what had happened. Yaztromo had warned me of assassins and this was a rather playful message from Malbordus. The Messenger would stay one step ahead of me, hiding letters of the word ‘death’, should I find them all he would return to drain my life away. When scouring an ancient city for ancient artifacts, that’s something I could have done without…

The dark, twisted power of the young Malbordus is reaching its zenith!

Almost two years ago now I was contacted by a friend who was travelling up in the Shetlands, a text asking if I had a copy of Fighting Fantasy 14? I did not, and so I was posted a copy of Temple of Terror for your, and my reading pleasure. It’s only now that my trail through the Fighting Fantasy books has caught up to speed and I am happy to be back on familiar territory of Allansia. But first, a few details more about this copy of the book.
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It’s not in the best condition, the plastic cover is doing a grand job at holding it together as an apparent history of water damage threatens to disintegrate it. Many people have surely enjoyed this one before me though as stamps inside it show it has been in two library holdings over its 16 year life; Sandwick Junior High School and Shetland Library.

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Eventually the book fell into my hands via the Lerwick Youth Hostel where my friend stayed.

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So, have any of you read this copy? Or do you represent one of these establishments and want it back? Would love to hear from you if so!

My own personal memories of this book as a kid aren’t quite as illustrated or Google Maps supported, but I do remember getting it at around the age of 9. I managed to get quite attached to the idea of swapping things with other kids, a primitive trader if you will. Sometimes this got me into trouble with parents as I managed to trick other kids into swapping their fancy toy for a rock or some such nonsense. But Temple of Terror came into my possession through a swap deal with one friend of mine in Mrs. Broadbents class, I cannot for the life of me remember what it was I gave up for the book, but it was a deal that stuck and was clearly a good one as I ended up with what I remember to be a great book.

As I mentioned earlier, Temple of Terror sets us firmly back in Allansia, a welcome return after deviating through Space Assassin and Freeway Fighter, and for the most part it sticks to the tried and tested Ian Livingstone structure. A minor deviation is the choice of spells, which don’t get discussed properly until you start reading, other than that and the omission of a potion choice it’s standard rules.

An inspired start to the story is revealed to the attentive reader who will realise that Temple of Terror is a sequel to Forest of Doom. You begin your story in the Dwarf village of Stonebridge after the ‘rigours of a recent quest’ and it isn’t long before Yaztromo shows up requesting the aid of a young warrior. Yaztromo responds to your offer of service with a ‘Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?’… it’s a nice little touch that makes you feel instantly at home. Regarding the nature of the aid required by ol’ Yaz, we have a problem of potential dragon chaos.

In this day and age, suspecting a baby to be evil is a fairly sketchy reason to leave it in the woods, but in the world of Titan it is a cracking solution to evil baby problems and it’s exactly the route taken by the mother of Malbordus, a kid born during a full moon and wolf howls. He was left in Darkwood Forest where he was brought into the care of the Darkside Elves who eventually came to teach him vile and powerful magics. As he passed into manhood he was sent on a trial by the Elves, to journey south into the Desert of Skulls where he would find the lost city of Vatos. Within the city there was said to be five ancient dragon artifacts, collecting all five could be combined with an incantation to bring the dragons back to life and serve the evil of Malbordus and the Elves. So in a Seven Serpents style move, Yaztromo has set up a race between Malbordus and the hero of our story to find the five dragon artifacts.

While we’re on Seven Serpents, it has a small role to play in this book in that it revealed the working title for Temple of Terror in the ‘coming soon’ section. Dragon Master sounds pretty cool to me if I’m honest…

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It’s also worth pointing out that Temple of Terror was another book that got a computer game based upon it, so until part one of this read-through… feast your eyes!

 

Freeway Fighter – Conclusions

With the new rules and weaponry introduced in Freeway Fighter, it’s clear that an effort had been made to differentiate the experience from non-vehicular titles, but for the most part, I don’t think Freeway Fighter really pulls it off. Generally it’s the same model we see in every book, Firepower is Skill, turn left or right at this junction… etc. On a few occasions, the excitement does ramp up a little though, the best bit of the book by far was the Blitz Race, this section actually felt fast and dangerous, I would have loved to have seen more of these quick decision based sections than the gun-play of Firepower and Armour stats. It would also been good to have seen more of Pete the mechanic, it felt good to get my Interceptor upgraded – RPG players love their loot! Extra weapons and turbo thrusters would have been an entertaining way to develop my ‘character’ along the journey, perhaps even obtaining different cars. We will have to wait for Robot Commando to bring us that level of sophistication!

Sadly, my enjoyment of the book was mainly impeded by the setting, a barren wasteland is in the end, a barren wasteland. Most encounters felt like they revolved around seeing what’s in this next overturned vehicle, the unfortunately rather short raid on the Doom Dog camp at the end was a welcome turn. Save for those already mentioned and perhaps the dualist, there were few particularly memorable encounters. Similarly, the theme of the book influenced the progression gating, most Fighting Fantasy books put obstacles in front of you that you cannot pass unless you have acquired a specific item, often in a creative situation that makes you feel powerful or is just plain fun. In Freeway Fighter you refuel you car, which is a little dull when you’ve done it a few times.ff 001 (2)

As far as the landscape and the feel of the world we’re in goes, it really didn’t help that the illustrations were not particularly interesting. This flat looking style really didn’t do it for me, with these buildings coming close to level of dullness we experienced in Space Assassin. As mentioned in the intro, an Iain McCaig illustrated Freeway Fighter might have helped bring the book to life a little more.

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The best illustration actually looks like it belongs in a completely different book altogether! I didn’t actually encounter this guy in my read-through, but this is Rat Man, a rat orientated fellow I would have encountered in the motel at the end of the book had I not slept in the cab of my tanker. I’m guessing this is where I could have sustained the rat-bite the text referred to, a very cruel twist at the end Mr. Livingstone!
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All in all, Freeway Fighter is by no means a bad title, it just feels like a book that could have been taken further if it had a little more content and a little less driving south through rolling tumble-weed desert.