It is now seemingly a theme that I start each post by covering up for my inadequacies displayed earlier in the adventure, and in this example of failure we return to moments before I threw myself into a raging inferno. This would be the third of three Throben Doors I needed to pass and to pass I needed the password. Retracing my steps to the second door, I left the kitchen alone and this time decided to try out the entrance guarded by two bird-men. Fortunately, they seemed to have pottered off and left me an opportunity to sneak in covertly. A long corridor stretched out ahead with doors either side and a weapon rack full of swords available to me. My stealthy entrance was suddenly at risk of falling apart though as I could hear voices coming down towards me. A quick decision saw me scramble blindly through one of the doors to my left, which fantastically took me away from a situation where I may potentially meet guards and put me in a situation where I was actually meeting guards.
The three bird-men were somewhat confused by my sudden intrusion and this presented me an opportunity to think on my feet, I indulged them in conversation, taking the time to ask how their families were! ‘Our blessed mothers are well. But what business of this is yours?‘, was my reply. Safe in the knowledge that their mums were ok and amidst their confusion, I got out of there. My luck held up as the corridor was now empty, allowing me to proceed unchallenged. Three doors were ahead, all within a T-junction, I opted for the large metal door to my left. I was offered the option to try a key, but without one, I gave the door a knock. ‘Come in!‘, was the reply and as I opened the door a large spiked morning star came swinging at my head, requiring a successful Luck test to avoid, but still it managed to graze me, costing 1 Stamina. What I had wandered into was a torture chamber and the ogre standing before me was the tricksy scamp who had just recommended I walk straight into a deadly trap.
Thanks to the serpents that avoided my attention in the last book, this guy knew exactly who I was and started spouting about the Analander, cracking his whip and laughing. I decided that the best course of action was naturally bribery, so I offered up 10 gold which brought about a Microsoft-style 180 in his attitude and he accepted! The Throben Doors was my number one topic to press him on as I had to find a way to pass this raging inferno. I complimented his fine torture room and he told me that the fire was an illusion and that the only way to pass it was to know and believe it was an illusion, I could do that by turning to page 399 at the relevant moment. Heading out of the torture chamber I could go left or right and so I chose right which took me back to the section which led onto the third Throben Door. Sure enough, the flames licked my sides and I walked through entirely unharmed only to find another door on the other side.
Above the door was a sign which read ‘Chamber of Night‘. I might hang a sign saying that above a door in my house and see how it works out. I opened the door to unsurprisingly, find it to be quite dark. Candles were an option presented by the text and as I’d bought some from the merchant earlier, I had the option of blood candles or normal candles, the blood candles lasting much longer. However, I had been warned by a serpent in the previous book not to use the blood candles, so I went with the regular ones. The flickering flame revealed a floor from which a number of sharp blades randomly protruded. What followed was a lengthy maze-like section, full of entries like, ‘You inch your way slowly across the room. For your next few steps, choose either 488, 341 or 359‘. Not a format I’m too keen on myself, but after a series of random choices, I eventually made it out by finding a reference I hadn’t seen before (52, if you’re wondering).
I stumbled through the door I had found into a very bright room and almost instantly, hands grabbed my wrists. Guards had been waiting for me on the other side and I had again been captured. They took their prize to their captain, Cartoum, who sat behind a large wooden desk, covered in paperwork. I resisted the urge to reach for my blessed hardwood spear and listened to what he had to say.
The text informed me that within the picture there may be a clue to help get me out of this one. Unfortunately, all I could really be sure of was that there was absolutely no paperwork on his desk. The obvious choice thing to focus on however would be the girl in the picture, but I really had no idea who she was? Did I meet her? I’ll check that one out come Conclusions time… but for now I had to pick a different course of action. I made up a story about having a message to deliver to the Archmage, this obviously wasn’t convincing him in the slightest and he had the guards unhand me, presumably to run me through. At this point I went for a GOD spell that would ensure anyone around had a massive respect for me, a spell I could only cast thanks to the gold jewel I had obtained earlier. 1 Stamina point was the price and I was shown out personally by the apologetic Captain who gifted me a key with which I could use to open the next Throben Door. Now that is how you get out of a tight spot!
The next room on was made of marble and had a giant sheep statue as a center-piece.
If I am certain about anything it’s that this thing is definitely about to attack me.
Using some sand, I cast a MUD spell and created an area of quicksand in front of the statue for 1 Stamina point, but all this would do was allow me to skip a Luck test I may or may not be about to take… Sure enough, about five paces into the room, the thing was up about and coming straight for me at full pelt. The thing careered past me at a thundering pace and smashed into the marble wall, not even phased a little bit, it turned to go for me again. Not having anything in my possession that could assist me, all I could do was run for the door. Another Luck test followed and even in succeeding it, I was still smashed by the thing for 4 Stamina points of damage and thrown across the room straight into another Luck test.It was a good job I’d obtained that lucky pendant earlier in the courtyard as I was again successful in my roll, but again got caught by the thing for another 4 Stamina. Only this time, I landed by the door I was aiming to get through. Using the Captains key, I deducted 17 from my reference as instructed and slipped through the door just in a nick of time to avoid being destroyed by the ram.
My mission was almost at an end, all four of the Throben Doors have been passed and all that lies ahead now is the Archmage and the crown. A spiral staircase led onward, I climbed to the top and opened the door onto what I expected to be an elegant study. What I saw was this…
A sparsely decorated room, narrow slits barely providing any light through the stone walls and a bald, fat man in a (presumably) smelly, stained onesie. ‘It’s no use, I just cannot bring myself to do it!‘, he said, backing down from his intended course of action – smacking me over the head with his chamber pot. It was around now that I remembered a serpents warning that the Archmage may be in disguise when I meet him, so from going into the grand finale of Part 6 I would have to proceed with caution…