Having just avoided being eaten by a bush, it was time to press on to the end of this chapter of the Sorcery saga. My first step was to take a left hand turn at a junction which took me up a winding path through the forest which at one point skirted round the edge of a hillock, and from within I could hear sounds. Further inspection revealed a door in the side! Interested to potentially meet a hobbit, I tried the door and entered the hillock. A dimly lit passageway was on the other side and I edged down it, clearly hearing voices coming from the end of it. A spindly creature sat in a candle-lit room, hunched over a glowing orb, whispering to the image of a serpent.
Seems this creature is the thing on the cover, and despite the fact it was chatting with a serpent, I decided to be nice and not attack. Before I could even announce my presence, I was acknowledged and addressed, ‘All right, all right. Don’t just stand there jittering like a Half-orc. Come in and sit yourself down.’ My charismatic host introduced herself as Fenestra, a sorcereress. I gave her a vague outline of my quest and she seemed interested, listening intently. I asked her about how I might cross Lake Ilklala and for a mere 2 gold she offered to sell me a whistle that would call the boatman. Given my past experience at the lake, this seemed like a sensible purchase. Before I could leave though, Fenestra offered me a gift, I had the choice of a medicinal potion, a lucky charm and a… calling-whistle! She must have a whole box of them. Considering I was in single-digit Stamina, a medicinal potion was the obvious choice, but on accepting it I found that what it actually did was clear me of my Yellow Plague! Two Luck points were mine for my discovery too. I’m gonna need those to power through any combat that comes my way. We said our goodbyes and I left Fenestra in her little hill… but just what was her orb doing exactly and why was she talking to the serpents? I hope I didn’t have to kill her, she was nice.
A three-way junction was my next decision and I took a left which led me back down to the area with the bear I went through on the way up to the lake. As I reached the shore I got my shiny new whistle out and blew on it to take me to page 199. A silent note rang out and sure enough, from the nearby undergrowth an over-weight, un-washed and quite jolly man came into view.
In exchange for taking me across he wanted 4 gold which I wasn’t willing to pay, I’d already had to buy a whistle, I’m not paying again! So I drew my sword and went into combat, but it was short-lived as I only had to reduce him to 4 Stamina from his initial 7/8 stats so as to force him to yield and take me across the lake for free. He dragged a boat from the bushes, shoved it out into the water and barked at me to get in and get rowing. He seemed much more aggressive towards me now, I can’t think why. Continuing to be a bit of a dick to him, I refused to entertain the idea that I would be doing any rowing myself. At this point he became deflated, and I mean this in a very literal sense as his body began to wilt and a jet of gas rose into the air. Going on what I’d been told earlier in the ruined temple, I had just met the air serpent.
Pressing the serpent for information with my serpent ring I was advised that when in the dark chamber of night I should not use a blood candle. Ok. Now as my memory was serving me correctly, I knew exactly how to kill this serpent. I picked up the limp skin of the ferry-man and ripped it to pieces with my bare hands! Before I could celebrate killing off serpent number two though, the water around the boat began to bubble. Lurching in all directions, my boat threatened to launch me into the water, but a Luck test kept me aboard. A snake-like coil with watery wings rose up from the lake to face me, I guess this’ll be the water serpent then. My quick question-time with the serpent revealled that I should respect Naggamanteh the torture-master, which given that he’s a torture-master, seems like a good idea. Unfortunately, the weakness of this particular serpent was unknown to me and so I would have to take it down in combat. Around about now I remembered that I could call upon Libra and so I asked her to sort out my dwindling Stamina, but not only that, I also cast a WOK spell, creating a shield out of a gold piece which allowed me to deduct 2 from the serpents attack strength. At 10/11 it wasn’t too much of a struggle with the shield in use.
Taking a quick breather after my battles, I realised I had now crossed the lake and was on the shore of the Vischlami Swamp. Before long though, I was disturbed by voices. Standing my ground, I waited until the voices turned into figures. Three marsh goblins were walking through the swamp and were evidently very surprised to see me! But instead of cutting them down, I tried to communicate, casting the RAP spell which allows me to speak a foreign tongue.
It became apparent that Fenestra had sent these three green-skins off to take down a serpent of godly power and that the scroll pictured above held the key to defeating it. Thanking the goblins for the information, I bid them farewell. The text informed me that there was a page reference hidden within the image of the scroll and that when I confront the time serpent I should turn to the given reference. I set about figuring it out straight away, the potential cypher was worked out, I assumed the ‘LIX’ heading was the reference and the numbers could somehow be obtained by studying the symbols and letters below… Oh how I scribbled and pondered…
About two seconds later, the serpent of time popped up. ‘So the Anlander has the serpent ring!’ hissed the serpent and proceeded to divulge the secret that the Archmage may well be disguised up in Mampang, he will not be as he seems. When it came to take him down, I had no idea what I was doing as apparently the cypher idea wasn’t working. And so, I thought some more and eventually tried what would be the successful option – Roman Numerals. Yep, the only important thing on that scroll is the ‘LIX’ heading, the rest is a total red herring, which led me to page 59 and a formality of an encounter with the severely weakened 3/14 time serpent.
And that was that, the final serpent and the end of this leg of the journey. I went through a section where I was asked how many serpents I had slain, taking out 4 of the 7 was the middle option and earned me no penalty and no reward. Three serpents raced ahead of me to inform Mampang what I was up to, I’d need to be careful now. Entering Low Xamen, the craggy Zanzunu Peaks lay ahead and a climb to the Fortress of Mampang was what I had to look forward to, and incidentally this Mordor-like scenario is depicted in my favourite illustration from this one. We’re reaching the end of the journey and the final book now, wish me luck!