After the dancing and joy of the festival, I set about looking for a way into the city itself where I expected things to get much dirtier and despicable, and that’s exactly what happened as I worked my way through some winding alleys to find a chapel. Inside, a supposed holy man was preaching to a crowd of people, all kneeling before him in robes. The topic of conversation appeared to be Slangg, the god of malice. Preacher man said that anyone who could answer his question would be granted a wish by Slangg, failure to answer would mean renouncing your own faith and becoming a follower of Slangg. So naturally, I stepped up.
‘Bigfoot the Elder walked south for three furlongs sowing oats, then east for two furlongs sowing corn, then north another five furlongs sowing wheat, and finally south-west for four furlongs sowing hay. Have you got that?’
You bet! I had drawn a little diagram in my notes so I could answer the question truthfully and without guess-work… the crowd waited with baited breath for the question…
‘What was his favourite colour??’
FFS. I had been stitched up there, I’d drawn a diagram and everything! All very much to crowds amusement. But this literal joke of a question was soon replaced by a real one, and it was a fairly simple number pattern puzzle.
‘In Bigfoot’s family are 6 sons. Bigfoot is nearing the end of his life and he wishes to divide his wealth exactly among his sons. He gives 5 Gold Pieces to his second youngest son, 13 Gold Pieces to his eldest and 9 to the fourth youngest. Do you know how much the other sons received and how many Gold Pieces he possessed in all?’
To the amazement of the preacher and the congregation, I gave the correct answer of 48! As we learned earlier, my main goal in Khare is to obtain the four parts of the spell which will open the North Gate, allowing me to continue my journey to reclaim the Crown of Kings. My question was to ask if he knew anything of the spell and he was actually able to tell me one line – ‘I bid you, portals, open wide.’ I also got to restore my Luck to its Initial value and left the chapel having apparently rocked the world of everyone in there with some simple numerical acrobatics.
Night was closing in by now and so the nearby inn, The Wayfairers Rest, was to grant my my bed for the night.
A noisy, bustling place greeted me as I passed through the doors, ably displayed by John Blanches wonderful illustration. It reminds me of why I loved Ian McCaigs work on City of Thieves so much, all that detail, all the little stories and interactions, could look at it for ages finding new things.
Before I got stuck into a night in the pub, an old friend was spotted. You may remember my encounter with Flanker in The Shamutanti Hills, I was told to check a specific reference in this book to see how he would help me and was given two page numbers to remember and was to turn to a specific page when I reached those numbers. Page 110 was one of those and so I turned to my secret Flanker reference to see how he was to help me out in the pub. A quite clearly pissed Flanker was with a couple of dubious looking friends but came over to me to share the wealth of his apparent lucky night in the gambling halls! 5 Gold Pieces were now mine along with the warning that the ale in here has quite a kick and I shouldn’t have more than 2 pints. He linked arms with his pals and flounced off into the night.
The Wayfairers Rest was a sailor venue, a nearby port was flooding in its workers to take advantage of the pubs ale and buxom wenches. I took advantage of Flankers gift and ordered myself some hot food, but as I started eating I was joined at my table by a rough-looking sailor. He tried to make conversation and offered to buy me a drink. Uh-oh. I accepted though and indulged him in conversation, telling him of my need to get the North Gate open. He drunkenly told me that while he’d like to help, obtaining one of the lines meant killing the undead and he wanted no part of that. Another ale was offered by my new and possibly homosexual drinking buddy and desperate for information, I again accepted. Further probing revealed that the undead in question may be vampire, I also heard something about a friend of his getting killed for kissing the god Courga on the cheek in his temple. When a third drink was suggested I remembered Flankers advice and headed off to bed.
I awoke the next morning to find myself in something of a pickle.
It turns out that the innkeeper is something of an utter maniac and in my sleep had trussed me up in some sort of trap. Which was I suppose a scenario to be expected now and then given the name of the book. The innkeeper stood by my bed grinning his face off as a blade hung above my neck, presumably eyeing me up for his kitchen – just what did I eat last night? Anyway, via a convoluted series of pulleys and ropes I had to make a choice, do I pull or release the rope? One would raise the blade away from me, one would drop it on my neck. I frankly couldn’t be arsed to try and work out the decision by the illustration, and I couldn’t even be sure if it would work anyway, so I made a total guess and released the rope. A wonderful stab in the dark it was too as the blade floated up and I was able to get out of bed with my head still attached, the innkeeper could only curse and let me leave. What an odd fellow.
Leaving the pub I crossed the Jabaji River via Harbour Bridge and arrived a junction where I took a right turn into a square, which looks a bit like a Lowry painting in parts.
The streets were starting to get busy in the early morning sun and a crowd was gathering around a monument in the center of the square, those gathering had strange features, thin and spindly, all with their eyes closed. A pool of shimmering water was inside the monument and I pushed in to get a better look, much to the annoyance of the onlookers. I soon got my comeuppance though as I bent down get a closer look at the pool and like Bishop Brennan, I was given a good, hard kick up the arse. Floating down slowly through the air I eventually emerged from the pitch black into light and then plummeted into a pool of slime and excrement. I had found the sewer system. My attention was immediately grabbed by the sound of rushing liquid coming from a chute near my head. I was then given the choice of allowing a torrent of faeces splatter me in the face or ducking beneath the surface of a pool of faeces to avoid the contents of the chute. I didn’t ask for this… I stood there and took a blast of crap to the face, vomiting as a response and losing 3 Stamina into the bargain.
What followed was a Maze of Zagor-esque maze of confusion, page after page of choices such as ‘Continue ahead, then first left, first right, first right, first left? Turn to 10‘. I applied a brute-force approach and just kept choosing random options, going round in circles a little before I stepped out into a dead-end passage where out of the knee-deep sewage rose the Slime Eater from the books cover.
Being a fairly weak foe (7/11) I chose to avoid losing Stamina by spell-casting and cut the awful thing down with my sword. Finally, a way out presented itself, a bucket hang from a rope into what must have been a disused well, I climbed out of the sewer slowly, losing 2 Stamina to fatigue, but gaining 2 Luck for getting out of that vile place. It seemed I was actually starting to head towards the outer edge of the city again, I had apparently just crawled under a significant portion of it. There I stood, covered in human (and god-knows what else) waste products, holding only one of the four spell lines I needed and I had almost left Khare. Things were not looking good.
Although, I was in sight of a graveyard… to get one one of the lines I have to kill the undead? Interesting…