As I headed north, away from the ruins with my fantastic new disease, I became rather nervous as I was coming towards the end of the Baklands and had yet to take out any of the serpents feverishly trying to deliver news of my arrival to the Archmage. Ahead of me lay the great forest of Snatta, but before I could reach it, I was happy to see my first settlement in some time, a number of tiny huts making up a little village, presumably able to survive off the forest. However, it seems they also survive off raids into the Baklands too as the inhabitants turned out to be the Klattamen barbarians that had raided the ruined temple. These lanky, animal-skin wearing, semi-nomads aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer though and I didn’t feel at risk. In-fact, I was invited over for a very welcome meal of wild boar, gaining 2 Stamina. As my new crowd of friends grew quiet thought, I realised something was amiss. Turning round I saw exactly my problem.
I had been drawn in to be a play-thing for their champion and I was about to be bludgeoned. Although looking at the illustration, given how top-heavy he is with that leg/arm ratio, I could probably have just pushed him down. Despite him being quite a strong character though at 9/8, I took him down with a few well-placed Luck tests as my own Stamina was still not in good shape, especially given the continuing effects of my Yellow Plague. When the peoples hero fell, they stood silent and then offered me more meat! Unfortunately, I didn’t take any with me for later and got the hell out of there.
On the edge of the Forest of Snatta night was falling, so instead of ploughing on through the dark, I decided it was nap-time. An uninterrupted night of sleep gained me 3 Stamina, which I instantly lost to the overnight effects of the Yellow Plague I contracted earlier. Leading me deeper into the forest were three options, left, right and middle pathways. I opted to take the left and found myself in foraging mode as a number of potentially useful items became available to me. Up for grabs were five small pebbles, a handful of leaves, sand, stone dust, the feather of a yellow bird and enough nuts and berries for two meals. The only down side was that to take an item, I’d have to drop an item. I gave up my glue, wax and scroll in exchange for the food, sand and stone dust.
Continuing on my previous path I encountered a snake which slithered ahead, looked at me and then went into the bushes next to the path. This seemed like too big a clue not to follow it, so I headed off into the undergrowth. Almost like it wanted me to follow, the snake kept looking back to me, making sure I was following before heading up a tree. As I went up to the tree to investigate, it seemed like I’d found what I was looking for.
Suddenly the tree burst into flames at what I can say is a fairly safe assumption to be the fire serpent. Rolling 4 on a D6 I was saved a loss of Skill, but still managed to lose 3 Stamina from the heat. Remembering my ring, I confronted the serpent and spoke to it to obtain whatever knowledge it had to give me. The serpent warned me that should I meet him, not to eat from Throgs larder, but that this was unlikely as my adventure was going to be over soon anyway… I have to admit I guessed my way though this one somewhat as I had not discovered this serpents weakness, but the sand I picked up earlier seemed like a logical option. It was the right choice too as the flames were extinguished and all was left of my opponent was the original snake I was following, which at 5/6, died very quickly. That’s one down, six to go!
Getting back onto the path, I arrived at a junction with turn-offs, left and right. Taking the left turn I came into a clearing and quickly found myself in trouble as a wild bear was lumbering over towards me!
After the flames of the fire serpent my Stamina was now a horribly low 5, spells could not be risked and so again I chanced combat as my Luck was still very high, which was a good thing as this bear was 8/8 and thankfully I was able to dispatch it without taking further damage. When I left the clearing I found myself on the edge of what the map tells me is Lake Ilkala. I needed a way to cross, but I could see no way of doing so, I walked up and down the bank, I waited some more, but nobody was coming.
My adventure was over.
Yes, I was surprised too. My character seemingly just gave up, sat on the edge of the lake and waited there until he died. What an odd way to kill you off. I did what my character would have done in this situation, I turned around and explored in a different direction! I’d only just recently been given the option of a left or right turn, so I went back to that point and tried the right turn.
My new course took me to another left-right junction, and I again went right. As I pushed through the forest though, this section seemed to get very narrow and more and more tanglesome.
The bushes were actually wrapping themselves around me, trying to drag me into them. I was asked by the text if I had any essence of bark, which I did! These grasping limbs were that of a Stranglebush, a plant which eats animals, by quickly rubbing the essence of bark on my exposed skin, the Stranglebush mistook me for another plant and quickly released its grip on me, allowing me to continue unharmed.
Through a clearing in the trees I could see Lake Ilklala not too far in the distance ahead of me. I was told that I would need to cross the lake in order to reach the foothills of Xamen, climbing these would then lead me to the Fortress of Mampang and the Archmage, my ultimate goal.
But as we know, I haven’t the means to cross this lake, I’m down to 5 Stamina and there’s also the small matter of six more serpents still out there for me to whack… I’ll see you in part three, wish me luck, I think I’m gonna need it at this rate!