On entering the ale-house, the noise and bustle subsided and I was regarded with some degree of caution by these slightly in-bred looking hill-folk who probably hadn’t had a visitor in Kristatani for some time. Regardless, I tossed the bartender a gold piece and sat down next to a wrinkled old man with a mug ale in my hand. Stunted conversation about the weather eventually led onto goblin jokes and then me discussing the Crown of Kings, of which my new drinking buddy was fully aware. He told me that two routes would lead me on, one past Aliannas home – which I would need my wits about me for, the other led into the hills to the Lea-Ki, domain of the great ones. I was also given a Bomba Apple, a fruit which would double the Stamina gain I got from whatever meal I chose to eat it with. Two Luck points were granted for this rather positive encounter, I decided that I’d shell out some more cash here as thanks to the local wild-life, I had no food of my own. Skunkbear stew was on the menu and I slept it and the beer off in a slightly dirty bed, in total gaining 8 Stamina and costing 5g.
I was given two options to continue my journey, page 125 and 226; unfortunately slim details considering I’d been given some indication of what lay ahead in the tavern, I was left to pure guesswork and opted for 125. Gnarled trees lined the road-side until I reached a clearing with a small turn-off with a signpost indicating that Alianna was to the west and Dhumpus was straight ahead. I liked the idea of a situation where wits would not be required, that sounded perfect for a slightly hung-over stroll in the hills, so I headed onward to Dhumpus. Climbing over the rise of a hill I saw the village below and descended into their midst, intending to go and meet the villagers. I spied a small group of them discussing something and so approached them, but found that they were agitated by the sight of my weapon. I offered to place it on the ground to show I meant no harm and they eased their stance somewhat, we spoke and it seemed I was talking to senior members of the village society, they shared some food with me for which I earned 1 Stamina and 2 Luck. But then, I dropped something of a social faux-pas as the conversation lightened by joking about the ‘buffoons of Kristatani‘, which of course was where one of the circle was from. He rose to challenge me and ended up chasing me round and round and out of the village. It was only after I was out of his reach that I realised I’d left my sword back in the village! Oh great. A penalty of 4 Skill was imposed upon me until I could find a new weapon, leaving me with a Skill of 6. No food, no weapon; I’m going to die out here.
Climbing up the hills night was starting to draw in and so I found what seemed like a safe place to camp, but unfortunately my rest was disturbed by a random encounter table which manifested itself in the form of a Wolfhound of 7/6 stats. Given that I’m now unarmed, combat is something I want to avoid at all costs and so I decided it was time for some magic. I used the LAW spell, this allowed me to talk to the wolf and send it scurrying back off into the night, leaving me to enjoy the rest of my sleep. My spell-casting cost me 4 Stamina, but I likely would have lost more than that in the fight anyway.
Morning took me further up into the hills along a gentle slope until I came across yet another village, but this one didn’t seem to be in quite as good a state as the others I had seen. Huts were falling down and their inhabitants seemed in a bad way, limbs missing, leathery skin and sunken eyes. Something obviously wasn’t right here and so I decided to just get out of there, nothing good was going to come from these people. Especially that one in the bottom left, look at his little face, he’s not a happy chappy is he?
On the way down from this un-named cess-pit of a village was the far more pleasant sight of a pretty, prosperous looking village nestling at the bottom of three hills. But before I could walk up to it I was suddenly in the company of a tiny green-skinned creature with wings who had appeared from the trees and sat down on my shoulder. The creature introduced itself to me as Jann, a Minimite, and he told me I was approaching the village of Birritani, the largest village in the hills where all adventurers end up spending a night in at some point. Jann seemed friendly enough, so I decided to let him tag along. I certainly love his illustration too, a real magic, fantastical quality to this one.
Birritani was in the middle of some sort of festivities it seemed, Jann told me it was the ‘festival of the young’, which seemed to consist of kids doing whatever the hell they liked as, quite similar to many settlements in England, a number of them were sitting in the street drinking ale. A visit to the tavern seemed a good choice, so I dropped in for a pricey pint at 2g. The bartender chatted to me about my mission and told me that if I were headig for Khare, I would soon be passing through Torrepani and that the Svinns who live there are in a state of depression at the moment. I got 2 Stamina for the ale and 1 Luck for the information, Jinn had managed to get himself quite drunk by sipping at my ale but stuck with me as I headed off to the inn. Now it seemed that Birritani was quite happy with abusing its clients wallets as a room was 5g and a meal 4g… discounting my gems, I only had 11g left! As I was at near full Stamina for the moment, I figured I could go without a meal or a bed for one night and left Birritani to overcharge its customers. Luckily, I was able to sleep in the area surrounding the village and so avoided a random encounter and gained 3 stamina, but I instantly lost those 3 as I hadn’t eaten the day before. Jann was hovering about my head as I woke, I remain unsure of what his agenda is.
Leading away from Birritani were two paths heading west and east, I chose to climb up into the hills further by taking the easterly path. A beautiful smell began to fill my nostrils and I could see the path ahead led througha field of black flowers, Jann told me that this was the quickest way to reach Torrepani, which was apparently the next village I had to hit on my way through to Khare. I’m pretty sure that a black lotus flower is the catalyst needed for one of my spells, so I carried on into the field hoping to pick one up on my way through. The smell was intoxicating and I began to skip, feeling light-headed and full of merriment, Jann also seeming to lose it too as he grinned with glee. I lost my footing and fell to the ground, landing on something hard which turned out to be a human skeleton! The black lotus flower emits a sweet-poison and I had come well under its effects. My consciousness slipped away and soon I was dead.
My adventure was over.