Gnarled spires, jagged walls and Demonic gargoyles lined the outside walls of Mampang Fortress, it held my goal and lay before me in this volcano-like summit hidden in the Zanzuzu Peaks.
The grandiose nature of the event and indeed the architecture was not missed by my character either as I was told that until I was inside the Fortress I would have to deduct 1 Skill point. As you may imagine, the pass leading up to the doors of the fortress was actively guarded and so I was given the option of either stealthily creeping my way forwards or absolutely legging it and hoping I wouldn’t be spotted. Perhaps a little dumb, but I went for the latter option and dashed forwards. Thankfully I managed to make significant distance without being spotted, making for cover when I came close to a couple of guards who were taking a little break from their duties to the Archmage, the wine bottles strewn around the place told me they were quite clearly pissed. I figured I could take out a couple of drunks quickly, so I emerged from cover ready for a fight, and had I not failed my Luck test, I’d have taken them down without fuss; but I did. One guard reached for his sword, the other a horn. I had two Attack Rounds to kill the first guard before the 2nd could raise the alarm. His inebriated state left him with only 2 Stamina though, so this wasn’t such a big undertaking. The second was a bit tougher at 8/6, but he didn’t last very long either. Quickly scavenging through their belongings brought up 2 gold pieces and enough food to make up a single meal, also up for grabs was the giant alarm horn they tried to sound. I had to have it. Such was its size though, I was forced to leave three items behind, at this point I cannot for the life of me remember what they were, but I can remember they were spell-casting items at least.
Night was beginning to fall and I took the opportunity to rest one last time before entering the Fotress as a hidden cave in the side of the entryway had enough room for me and my new horn. As I slept, goddess Libra appeared to me to give me some good news and some bad news. Firstly, the bad. She would not be able to help me once I entered the Fortress. The good news was a tip-off that one of her followers escaped the Fortress using a secret passageway by speaking a secret password to open the door. At the moment I wished to use that password I was to deduct 92 from the reference I’m currently on. Taking her advice into consideration I took my last chance to summon up Libra to restore my stats before I entered this place as my next step was the front door. Being in a direct sort of mood, I strolled up to the giant wooden double-doors and knocked.
Like some sort of ridiculous Scooby-Doo stunt, I jumped up to a ledge above the door and stayed there as one-by-one, guards started running out of the entrance, oblivious to me standing right above their heads. I waited it out until four had come out and started investigating the area together, not once looking back and seeing me perched there, elevated in plain-sight. Hoping that was all of them, I hopped down and ran in, luckily unchallenged! I found myself in an archway which led onto another set of large wooden doors, either side of these doors were two smaller doors. I opted for the smaller door to the right and could hear gruff voices coming from behind, a chair scraped along the floor – someone had stood and was inevitably going to come through the door I was listening at. Taking the upper hand I came charging through to face whoever was on the other side which thankfully turned out to be just two guards.
My element of surprise earned me the slight bonus that any drawn Attack rounds in the combat would be taken as victorious for me – a very slight bonus indeed. But none-the-less, I emerged without a scrape and investigated their filthy room, turning up a single key on a metal ring in a table drawer. Taking it back to the archway, the key was a fit for the double-doors and so I could press on. What greeted me wasn’t another set of doors, but a large courtyard within which a large number of beings were milling around and I could see many ways in which I might be able to blend in. I suddenly realised that Crown of Kings is somewhat reminiscent of The Citadel of Chaos, also penned by Jackson…
My map goes a bit crazy here, so I’m trying to remember how my next move actually went! I had three options as I made my way across the courtyard. I could proceed on my way which was towards a group who were clearly watching me, one of which had just pointed at me, I could veer off to the left towards a pillory or move around the group whose eye I had caught, moving closer to another, less observant group. I now remember that I headed away from the group who were watching me, passing by another. These three thin, spindly figures were talking to one another, but with their eyes closed. Apparently, these were Red-Eyes and my character wracked his brain trying to recall my previous encounters with these guys. Sadly, neither he nor I could remember them! Did I meet them? I really have no idea now!
Despite their apparent lack of attention, and their closed eyes, they had spotted my attempts to stay out of their way and one of them was openly mocking me! The other two called me over and not wanting to cause a scene, I obliged. Having the nerve to call me ‘fathead’, the three started to grill me on my origins, they didn’t believe I was a Mampang native and wanted to know where I’d come from. Doing my best to keep myself hidden, I said Khare. Given that they had referenced the god Courga, I should have known, but apparently they too were from Khare! Oh joy! They quizzed me further. Back to the Chapel their questioning took me, the site in the middle of Khare where the priest named Slangg tested my mental agility. These three annoying gentlemen wanted to know his first name. Pretty sure that the book had only referred to him as ‘Slangg’, I said I didn’t know. Happy enough with this answer, I was allowed to continue, apparently Slangg had never actually given his first name to anyone, so i was correct!
Three more choices now offered themselves up as my next move across the courtyard – to my left was a bundle of rags on the ground, to my right a group of strangely familiar creatures or I also had the option of proceeding straight ahead and ignoring both. I went over to investigate the pile of rags with the toe of my boot.
However, in a stunning lack of respect for both the homeless and the elderly, this pile of rags was actually an old beggar lady. She woke up to the sound of my foot-steps as I approached, a sob story of her blindness and a request for a copper coin to buy some bread followed. Being quite flush and unsure how many shops I’m going to find in an evil fortress, I figured I’d spare her a gold piece. Deliriously happy, she thanked me and told me her name was Javinne. I pressed her in conversation and asked how she came to lose her sight. She told me a story of how she had been a young healer and lived in prosperity in the Fortress until the Archmage recruited a new type of troop to his army – the Mucalytics. These creatures were almost deaf and could only speak in whisper, a curse inflicted by the gods themselves and as such Javinne was unable to free them from this state. Her punishment was to have her sight taken from her. Since the day she lost her sight, another of the Archmages followers have been the bane of her existence, the Sightmasters. I had met one of these individuals in The Shamutanti Hills as I left Analand, but it appeared that some had defected to the Archmage in the promise of rich reward. To make her life easier, I offered to kill these Sightmasters, of which there were three. She promised vital rewards, the nature of which she could not reveal as nobody could know what she has. If I were able to kill them, whilst searching their bodies I was to deduct 100 from the page reference to tell Javinne of my good deed.
So let’s go find those mean bullys!