We had stumbled across a majestic beast at the end of our last meeting, a unicorn, badly injured from a previous encounter was licking its wounds in a clearing. So presented with this beautiful animal at its lowest ebb, I saw the opportunity to find myself an ally and perhaps some magical reward, rejected that opportunity and killed the thing, taking its horn as my prize. It may have had a Skill of 11, but its Stamina of 4 meant it didn’t put up much of a fight. Before whatever it was that left the unicorn near-dead returned, I got the hell out of there. Didn’t really look too badly hurt in the picture though…hmm, maybe the sight of a badly maimed unicorn would have been a bit much I guess.
So, this is where the book started to annoy me.
My exploration had brought me to a field of Fear Flowers, a type of flower that produces fear-inducing pollen. Minus 1 Skill for looking at some flowers, truly an epic encounter. I figured that I’d best just get the hell out of there and so ran past the flowers to the north. Minus 1 Skill for running past the flowers. Oooo-kay…. Down to 8 Skill now for those not keeping track.
Calming myself down after negotiating my way around the terrifying flowers, I noticed that the environment was changing to more of a jungle than a swamp. A parrot flew down from the trees and addressed me, wanting to know my business with the Mistress of Birds. Reminded of the quest Grimslade had sent me on, I smelled an amulet, so I asked to meet her. Surrounded by all manner of eagles, owls, herons and other winged, feathery creatures, the Mistress of Birds greeted me in a pleasant tone and my ring told me she was indeed friendly. Choosing not to be a bastard, I straight up asked if I could have her amulet. Knowing where the amulet was heading, she declined, but as I had been decent about it, she made a perfect replica of her amulet which I could present to Grimslade. Now I was fairly concerned at this point that Grimslade was powerful enough to realise he’d been given a fake, but for now it’ll do. The Mistress also told me that of her other ‘Master’ brothers in the swamp, should I encounter the Master of Spiders I should kill him instantly for he is pure evil.
From here, my only option for progress was to go back past the Fear flowers to where I encountered the unicorn. Minus 1 Skill point for running past the flowers again. At this point I made a stand. No. I had no option here, I’m not losing yet another Skill point to the same encounter, I’m barely half-way and I’m practically crippled as it is! So yep, still 8 Skill. Heading north from the unicorn carcass I arrived at a river bank, the Foulbrood River teeming with crocodiles before me. Having already used my ice spell to bridge a water course earlier and having a dwindling Stamina score, I stuck to the river bank and headed east which led me up a small cliff overlooking the river below.
Still not fancying a piece of a crocodile infested river, I turned back south into the swamp again and soon found a man having a lovely picnic, a man which the illustration would have me believe is Irish. As he cut up his cheese and invited me to join him underneath the tree he was seated at, my ring burned hot and I interpreted this to mean he was a thief and attacked him without warning. A little tougher than I anticipated at 10/9, I did come out on-top with some excellent Luck rolls, although my Stamina was now a rather shabby looking 6. Of his items, the only thing worth taking was a red cloak, although the text did note that I left ‘munching a bit of cheese you found in his picnic basket…‘. Erm, hello? Can I have some Stamina for that? Please, just 1…? Oh screw you, Fake Steve Jackson.
Further filling in the hole in the middle of my map, I headed further south and discovered what appeared to be the remains of a violent battle; ground torn up, bloody stains and broken arrows littered the clearing. Taking my chances, I decided to scout around the clearing a little for supplies, I mostly found an abundance of dead swamp orcs, anything useful had already been taken. One body of a human did however have a fetching looking golden medallion in the shape of a magnet, so I swiped that for myself.
I continued east from here to find the local plant-life was after me again, crab-grass was this time trying to have its way with me. It was time for my Withering spell to get used, and with a click of my fingers, I assume, the crabgrass was dust. All that was left was scorched lettering that stated ‘Beware of orcs!’.
Moving east again, you’ll never guess what I encountered next? Orcs! Presumably these were the same guys that were responsibly for the massacre a few clearings ago as I was under a hail of arrow fire as soon as they caught sight of me. It seemed though that the magnet shaped amulet I had picked up was not that good a find though as it did in-fact attract arrows. A lucky Luck test though meant that the amulet had been kept in my backpack rather than around my neck and so I only lost 1 Stamina. Taking to melee combat, the three orcs were nothing to worry about and the three were slain without much difficulty, which was handy as I was now down to 5 Stamina. On their bodies all I was able to find was a couple of gold pieces and a crude map of the area that had a picture of a frog to the south of my current location. South it is then.
Frogs were all I could hear as I walked to the south, proper Paul McCartney stuff, lots of water pools and giant mushrooms littered the area, including one huge mushroom with a man-frog thing squatted on top of it, grinning at me in the way only a man-frog can. I had already spied the amulet around his neck before he announced himself as Master of Frogs. He didn’t appear to be hostile and I kept the true nature of my quest to myself and given my current lack of physical attributes, I tried to talk him into giving me his amulet. I cooked up a story about being in the service of Baron Sukumvit of Fang and was on the look-out for new beasties for his Deathtrap Dungeon. He told me the story behind the Masters, which was not especially interesting, so I pretended to wander off. When I was out of sight, options now limited, I took the brilliant tactical decision to just charge at him with my sword. Being a man-frog, he was somewhat more agile than myself and simply hopped away, ordering his froggie pals to attack, but before they could, I was out of there.
Two amulets have slipped through my grasp and a fake one sits in my bag; Grimslade will not be happy at this rate.